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.

Crumb coffee cake

File this under naughty things to make once in a great while. I was craving coffee cake — you know, the kind that has as much crumbly topping as actual cake?

Well, it took me a while to figure out that most recipes for such a cake are called ‘crumb cake.’ But I finally found a recipe for exactly what I wanted.

It called for rhubarb, which would be delicious. But I didn’t have any, and I wanted it plain anyway. So I made it plain, and it was incredibly good. Like, I-need-to-be-alone-with-my-fork good.

It’s nice warm out of the oven or cold out of the fridge. Make it next time you’re hosting a brunch. Or maybe just for yourself. Just because.

Full recipe here.

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.

Leek tart

This recipe actually comes from Mike, who made it last week after searching for something to make with leeks. All I could think of was potato soup, but this French tart is much better suited for spring, and so delicious.

Leek tart
from the Organic Cookbook

4 tablespoons butter
4 leeks, finely sliced (make sure they are well-rinsed!)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup creme fraiche (or you could use heavy cream)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pastry shell:
1 1/3 cups AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water

Start by making the pastry crust — put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor you could do this by hand with a pastry cutter). Pulse until you get fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk. Pulse until the pastry comes together, adding water a little bit at a time. Dump out the pastry on a floured surface and knead it into a round.

Roll out the pastry to 1/8-inch thickness and then press it into a tart pan. The closest thing we have is a springform pan, which works fine, or you could even use a pie pan. Chill for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and then fill it with dry beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat. While that’s adjusting, you can make the filling. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook them until they’re soft and wilted, 20-30 minutes. Set them aside to cool. Mike says it seems like you will have way too many leeks for the tart, but they end up cooking down and fitting.

Beat the eggs, creme fraiche, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the leeks to the mixture. Pour this into the baked pastry shell. Place the tart on the preheated baking sheet and bake until the tart is golden, 30 minutes. If you jiggle it a little you should be able to tell if the filling has firmed up.

The great thing about these quiche-like tarts is that you can eat them hot or cold. A slice of this served with a salad reminds me so much of La Mie lunches in Des Moines, which reminds me of pretty pastries sitting in the window. Good times!

Cake mix cookies

These cookies are so good I am almost sad to have discovered them. Now I have to try to stop myself from running out and buying a cake mix to bake them!

Apparently I am the last person on earth to have heard of these. I don’t know how I could have missed such a perfect combination of cookie and brownie. And I’m sure with a different flavor of mix you’d get something completely different (in a good way). Red velvet, perhaps?

Cake mix cookies
makes about 20 cookies

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the dough (a cookie scoop would be helpful here), leaving at least an inch of space between cookies.

Bake for 8 minutes or until the cookies have completely flattened.

Sprinkle on a little powdered sugar before serving.

And if you want to be truly evil, you can spread some vanilla bean ice cream between two cookies and have an ice cream sandwich. I highly recommend this.

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.

Red lentil curry

I made this red lentil curry the other day from a random recipe I found online, and it turned out really well. You can find the recipe here, if you’re interested. I skipped the teaspoon of sugar and the can of tomato puree (no tomatoes on the cleanse), but I did add in a tablespoon or so of tamarind chutney I had in the fridge. I’m sure there’s a little sugar in it, but I OK’d it because I thought it added great flavor.

I also served it over brown rice with some peas for a little extra color. I actually really like peas.

We’ve mostly been eating leftovers the past couple days, but I did make up some quinoa burgers.

Mike had this yummy salad with chickpeas.

And we’ve been snacking on pineapple, which feels like a treat. And it’s ridiculously cheap here.

Last night we ate out for the first time. There’s a sushi place pretty close to our house that allows you to sub brown rice for the white rice in your rolls. So we had some veggie rolls and a chicken skewer. It’s so hard to be a purist on this diet because there are so many things you would normally consider healthy (tofu, tomatoes, oranges) that you’re not supposed to have because of the allergy thing or because they’re too acidic. So we’re not trying to be perfect, just as good as we can be.

I’ve already lost 2.6 pounds, so I must be doing something right!

Loving: fall edition

Rae Dunn salt and pepper cellars from Terrain. I can’t tell you how much I adore these.

Pork chops with apples and onions — serve over polenta. Thank you, Real Simple. (Erin, have you made these yet?)

Hy-Vee Seasons magazine. My first time writing for them.

Pine cones I picked up in the yard. They make such an easy and perfect centerpiece.

A wreath project I’m working on for Fresh Home.

And pumpkin-pecan muffins. I wasn’t so jazzed by these at first, but they’re growing on me. My mom and I agreed that we can’t have our traditional sugary pumpkin bread around if we plan to stay in shape, so these are a nice seasonal alternative.

Pumpkin-pecan muffins
adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe in Runners World
makes 12-15 muffins

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk or kefir
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. These are kind of sticky muffins, so it’s probably not worth trying to scrape them directly out of the pan.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl. Whisk the butter, oil, pumpkin, egg, and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Fold the wet mixture into the dry, and then fold in the pecans.

Fill the muffin cups almost all the way to the top. Bake 25 minutes or until they are done in the center.

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.