Massaman curry

One of our favorite restaurants in Minneapolis is Amazing Thailand. So when a friend of ours posted a recipe on Facebook that he said was just like a curry there, I definitely wanted to try it. I had just made a veggie curry that I would classify as OK. But that got me thinking how easy it is to make a coconut milk-curry paste sauce that becomes dinner really quickly, and how I think I should do that more often.

This recipe not only turned out very similar to the restaurant version, but was far better than the curry I made before. I think it’s the creaminess from the peanut butter and the added flavor from the fish sauce that make all the difference.

Isn’t this the most amazing bottle design?

I made this with chicken, but I think next time I might try it with tofu. Really you could make it with any meat, and if you wanted a vegan version of the sauce just substitute vegan fish sauce. The other thing I would change is to either cut the potato cubes smaller or pre-cook them a little. It seemed like it took forever for them to cook through. I also added some broccoli for a little color.

So here is my version of the recipe.

Massaman curry a la Amazing Thailand

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste
3/4-inch thick cube of ginger, minced
1 pound or so boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed (or substitute tofu cubes)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons tamarind paste (I used tamarind chutney)
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 cups golden potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
juice from one lime
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups steamed broccoli florets (optional)

Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Stir in the curry paste and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir until it’s cooked through, 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the brown sugar, fish sauce, tamarind paste, peanut butter, potatoes, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Add the lime juice and cook for 5 more minutes.

Serve over brown rice with the broccoli, if you like.

Sauteed corn and poblanos

I actually made three dishes from Real Simple’s Mexican Dinner Party Menu, and they were all really good. But I think my favorite was actually this humble corn and poblano pepper salad. I followed the recipe, except that I had a 16-ounce package of frozen corn instead of two 10-ounce packages.

I had half a tub of cream cheese in the fridge, and I thought it might taste good to add a dab of that to the corn salad. I was right! But it certainly doesn’t need anything extra. If you saute the corn, red onions, and peppers long enough to get them a little caramelized, they are really flavorful.

Love those colors!

The full menu. 

Poblanos can be a little bitter, so I think the salad would also be really good with red bell peppers (or really any color pepper) instead. It’s perfect for summer, so I can see us making it as a side with something on the grill. We bought a smoker, so there’s another foodie challenge for us to take on.

Lamb kabobs

When we moved to California, one of the things we had to leave behind for space was our barbecue grill. We still haven’t replaced it, but we do have a nifty cast-iron grill pan. So we used it to make some lamb and veggie kabobs with a little bit of Moroccan seasoning.

Considering our faux-grill setup I thought they turned out pretty well. The only thing I would do differently (because of cooking these indoors) would be to leave out the garlic, or brush it off before I put the kabobs on. It started to burn up and smoke, a lot, which was not a good thing in our tiny kitchen.

I took the seasoning combination from a Clean recipe, and I thought it worked perfectly. We served the kabobs over brown rice for a pretty healthy dinner.

Lamb kabobs

1 to 1 1/2 pounds lamb, cut into cubes
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch rounds

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 garlic gloves, minced (optional)
olive oil to drizzle on top

To make the kabobs I separated the meat and veggies, putting 3-4 chunks of meat on each wooden skewer. If you don’t want the skewers to burn, soak them in water beforehand. Then I alternated pepper, zucchini and onion chunks for the rest of the skewers.

For the seasoning, combine all the spices in a small bowl, add in the garlic, and the sprinkle it all over the meat kabobs. If you have any extra left you can sprinkle it over the veggies, too. Then drizzle a little olive oil over all the kabobs.

Heat the grill pan over medium-high heat, and then arrange the kabobs on top. Grill them, turning every 2 minutes or so, until there are grill marks on each side and the meat is done to your liking. We like ours around medium, which took about 10 minutes.

Turmeric roasted cauliflower

This is such a yummy side dish. I will definitely make it again.

Turmeric roasted cauliflower
adapted from Clean

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400. In a small bowl combine the coriander, pepper, garlic, turmeric, and salt. Spread out the cauliflower pieces on a nonstick baking sheet. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the cauliflower and then drizzle the olive oil over the top. Toss to coat — don’t use your hands unless you want your fingers to turn yellow!

Bake 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. You can tell it’s done when the tips of the cauliflower start to brown.

By the way, I made broccoli soup again and I remembered to take a picture this time. It came out a little creamier (I think I used fewer cashews). It’s definitely one of my favorite soups now.

Stuffed turkey tenderloins

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a turkey tenderloin, but I was looking for a turkey breast in the store and this was all I could find. I didn’t have a plan for cooking the tenderloins, but I wanted something sort of comforting, so I made up this Thanksgiving-ish recipe and it turned out pretty well.

Stuffed turkey tenderloins

2 turkey tenderloins
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 an onion, diced
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little more for browning)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First you want to butterfly your tenderloins so there’s room for the stuffing. I just made a long cut down the middle until I got a piece that would lay out flat. But what I probably should have done was to pound it out a little thinner so it would be easier to roll. Next time. (If you do that you might need to reduce the baking time.)

Next, prepare your stuffing. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium and saute the onions and apples until the onions are just starting to brown. Add in the walnuts and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Let the stuffing cool just a little before you start working with it. You’ll also want to set aside about 1/2 a cup to make a little sauce.

Scoop some stuffing onto one of the tenderloins and spread it out a little. Then just roll it up so that all the stuffing stays inside. Secure with some kitchen string. Repeat with the second tenderloin.

Before you bake them, you want to sear the tenderloins on the outside so they’re nice and brown. Get a pan with a little more olive oil up to high heat and drop in the tenderloins. Sear them on all sides so they get some nice brown color but aren’t cooked all the way through.

Then bake these for about 30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, heat up the chicken broth until it starts to bubble and add in the 1/2 cup of leftover stuffing. Let it reduce just a little.

When the tenderloins are done, slice them up and pour the sauce over the top.

Snacking on…

This week I’ve been eating the yummiest snack in the afternoons. It’s just a brown rice cake smeared with a little almond butter and drizzled with agave nectar. The agave is a little runny, so it’s actually better if you mix it into the almond butter first.

I guess I don’t have a photo of the broccoli soup we’ve been eating, but we liked that a lot, too. I have no illusions about it being the same texture as a regular cream soup (even if our blender is the problem), but it tasted great.

This week it seems like we’ve settled into a routine and we’re not thinking as much about the foods we’re missing. It’s supposed to be rainy and gloomy the next few days, so we probably won’t want to do anything but curl up with a bowl of soup and a cup of tea anyway.

Salmon with caper-dill sauce

This is definitely one of those go-to recipes when you want to eat something healthy, but don’t have a lot of time to cook. I think with salmon the less you mess with it the better it is. But a little sauce on the side makes it extra special.

Salmon with caper-dill sauce
Serves 4. My fillet was a little small so I made 3.

1 pound (or a little more) salmon, cut into 4 fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
3 ounces plain yogurt
1 tablespoon light mayo
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While that’s heating up, prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl, and put it in the fridge to cool.

You can add more mayo, less yogurt, for a richer sauce.

Heat a big skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, and add them, skin-side up, to the pan.

I am growing to love our cast iron pans…

Cook for 3 minutes, then carefully flip the fillets over and cook for another 2 minutes. What you’re aiming for is a nice brown crust on the outside.

Now you’re going to finish the salmon in the oven. It should take anywhere from 3-8 minutes, depending on how thick the pieces are. I gave mine 5 minutes, and that was plenty, almost too much.

I like to serve salmon with a blend of half brown rice and half wild rice, and my favorite roasted zucchini and onions.

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Here’s a Halloween treat for you. If you are carving pumpkins, you can save the seeds and toast them for a great snack.

Toasted pumpkin seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed of any goop
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or peanut oil, if you have it)
1/4 teaspoon salt

The first step is to dry the seeds out. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Spread out the seeds on a lined baking sheet and pop them in the oven. It takes about an hour at this temperature.

After the seeds have dried and cooled, switch to a shallow pan on the stovetop. Turn it up to about medium heat and add the oil. Once it’s nice and hot, drop in the pumpkin seeds and sprinkle on the salt. Keep stirring the seeds — they will whistle and maybe even pop, and eventually start to turn brown. Once most of them have some browning on them, turn off the heat. All done!

You can see the difference between dried seeds (right) and toasted ones (left).

If you want a sweet snack, you can make these:

Sweet and salty pumpkin seeds
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil

You start the same way, by drying out the seeds in the oven at 250.

Mix up 3 tablespoons of sugar and the spices in a bowl.

Then heat up the oil in a shallow pan, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the seeds. Keep stirring until the seeds are a little brown and caramelized. Then transfer the seeds to the bowl of spices and toss to coat them.

These are super yummy, but I can’t eat too many of them without going into a sugar coma.

Happy Halloween!

Potato-leek soup with homemade croutons

Yesterday was kind of an epic day in the kitchen. I started off making Heidi Swanson’s recipe for oatcakes from Super Natural Every Day.

I’ve been getting a little bored with flapjacks, but wanted something similar to eat for snacks or breakfasts. The oatcakes turned out to be perfect. They’re somewhere in between a granola bar, a muffin, and a cookie — a little bit wholesome and a little bit sweet. All I can say is you must buy this cookbook!

I had some extra batter, so I made minis, too.

But onto the subject of this post — potato-leek soup. We got some leeks at the farmers market over the weekend, and I thought I would try making the classic soup combination. I cracked open “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” and sure enough there was a recipe. It’s unbelievably simple, actually.

I added cream and a few toppings, but you don’t have to. With veggie stock or water it’s a great vegan soup. I had about 2 cups of stock in the freezer, so I used that plus water for the rest.

Potato-leek soup
adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 medium (or 6 small) golden potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 big leeks, sliced into half moons
6 cups water, stock, or combination
8 ounces heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: 4 slices bacon, crumbled, croutons, chopped chives

Heat the butter or oil in a big soup pot over medium and start cooking the potatoes and leeks with some salt and pepper.

Add the stock, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. I usually have to turn my heat down to low to keep it lightly bubbling.

At this point, you can leave the soup as-is, or make it creamier. I took about 2 cups of the soup and blended it up with my immersion blender, then added it back into the pot. You can do this with as much soup as you like, depending on how many potato chunks you want to keep.

Finally, add the cream, and let it cook for a few more minutes. Serve with yummy toppings.

I was thinking this soup might be good with some crispy homemade croutons, so I looked up a recipe for that, too. I was surprised to see that Bittman recommends cooking them on the stovetop rather than the oven. I’d never heard of that, but it totally works!

I used half of this lovely Italian batard from Acme Bread.

adapted from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 3/4-inch slices good bread, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and garlic in a big skillet, and just when the garlic starts to sizzle, drop in the bread cubes. Toss them around and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Keep tossing the cubes until they soak up the oil and start to brown. Turn off the heat before the garlic gets too burnt.

These were so good in the soup. Part of them stayed crunchy and part of them soaked up the broth.

Next time I might use butter instead of olive oil for better flavor, or maybe a combination of both. I will definitely be making these again.

Sick soup (autumn minestrone)

After my family left, we all got sick. Every single one of us except for my dad has either a cold or a sinus infection.

Sad face.

So, instead of resting on Sunday I ran errands, made this soup, and worked on orders. I can’t seem to help myself.

This recipe comes from the Moosewood Daily Special cookbook, which is just packed with comforting soups. I thought about subbing chicken broth in this recipe since I have so much in my freezer. But the cleanse taught me that veggie soups can have really great depth of flavor on their own, so I left it out. And it turned out to be the right decision.

I also added one thing I learned from Rachael Ray, which is to use the leafy tops of celery when you cook. They have lots of flavor (they’re the greenest part of the whole stalk).

This soup is super healthy, full of the vitamins you need when you’re sick, and it uses a lot of fall veggies that are cheap right now. I bought an acorn squash so ripe it looked like a little pumpkin.

I served this with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, but that’s totally optional. Add a chunk of crusty bread or some saltines and you’re good to go.

Autumn minestrone

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed winter squash (I used butternut and acorn)
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups golden potatoes, cubed (skins optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 cups water (it called for 6 but I needed more)
4 cups chopped kale leaves
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the squash, celery, carrots, potatoes, spices, and water, and cook them for another 10 minutes or so. Then add the kale and beans, turn down the heat if it’s bubbling too much, and simmer until everything is cooked through. It only takes about 20 minutes total, but I gave it probably more like 40 minutes just to let everything really blend together.

The only thing I might change next time would be to scale back a little on the kale. I have a thing about wilty greens — a little is fine, but I like the other veggies to be the focus.