Grilling…

grill with fire

Lit grill (from Wikipedia commons)

There’s nothing quite like grilling out, and one recipe that has turned asparagus-haters into asparagus-lovers in my family is grilled balsamic asparagus.  There are quite a few tasty yet simple variations available online.  Mine is as follows; amounts are determined by the amount of the veggie you are making.  The coriander provides a citrus-y zing that goes well with the balsamic.

This recipe is easy to make in a skillet/wok, though flame grilling provides a better flavor, IMHO.

To prepare the spears, it’s not required to trim them with a knife or peel them.  You can snap the spear in two towards the bottom (the more fibrous part will separate from the more tender part naturally).

 

Grilled Balsamic Asparagus

Bunch(es) of fresh asparagus spears

Olive or vegetable oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt

Pepper

Coriander (crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle or use powdered coriander)

 

Rinse and prepare asparagus (as noted above).  Put all ingredients into a sealable plastic bag and set in a baking pan (in case the bag leaks).  Refrigerate and marinate for at least 1 hour, mixing at least once or twice, so all spears sit in the mixture/are coated well.  Grill until the spears are cooked to desired doneness, rotating as needed.  (I prefer to cook them until darker green, but not so much that they are mushy.)  Serve hot.

Enjoy!

(And watch for grill flare-ups due to the oil; make sure to grill safe!)

 

 

Advertisements

Recipe: Chettinad Tomato Lentils

I have to recommend the recipes in The Curry Bible by Jacki Passmore; we’ve tried a few so far and they’ve been excellent quality and variety-wise.  The base spice mix for this curry (from pg. 90) is my favorite so far.  There are so many curries, and they go beyond the pre-bottled store curries for sure.  We have made this recipe several times, and it is a pleasant mix of hot and spice.  It could very easily be made hotter with more/other peppers.  We’ve modified the original to be less hot to work for both of our palates.  (I’m more of a heat fan.)   The original calls for chicken as the main ingredient, but I wanted to give lentils a try as an alternate option; it’s also a little more affordable.  The lentils also hold up well in the curry, even as they are already cooked. (I was a little nervous it would be mush.)

1 lb lentils, made according to package directions

3 dried red chilies, seeds removed (I used 1 each of guajillo, ancho, and mulato chiles)

1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

4 teaspoons cardamom

3/4 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon salt

7oz dried coconut (unsweetened)

Oil (I used olive)

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon star anise

6 oz tomato paste (I used the whole 12 oz can to use it up.)

2-3 cups water

2 tomatoes

1 fresh chili pepper (I used Poblano)

Additional salt to taste

Lemon juice

Make the lentils in a pot according to package directions.  (Ours were at medium heat – simmer/boil for about 20 minutes, and they were tender.)  While lentils are cooking, prepare the curry. (When the lentils are done, remove from heat and drain.)  Roast the coriander seeds in a pan on medium-low heat for a minute or two and remove from heat.  Put the deseeded peppers, roasted coriander, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and salt in a blender and blend to a powder.  Add coconut and blend until fine.

Curry powder mix

Curry powder mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat the oil in a pan.  Chop the onion and add to the pan.  Let cook for a few minutes, stirring as needed.  (The onions don’t need to be completely soft.)

Onions in the pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crush the garlic- (a garlic press works well) and add to pan with the onion.  Add the ginger.  Don’t let the garlic cook too long- you don’t want it to burn.  Add the star anise and tomato paste.

Tomato paste added

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir in the cooked lentils slowly.  Add the water- you don’t want soup, but you don’t want it to burn.  Keep stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Lentils added

 

 

 

 

 

I chopped and added the tomatoes and chili pepper at this point (you may want to wear gloves with the pepper), but depending on how cooked you would like them, you could add them earlier.

Tomatoes and pepper added

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost done!  I cooked the mixture with the added vegetables for about 5 minutes more, so they were not cooked completely through.  Keep stirring as needed, and add more water if needed so that the lentils do not stick to the pan.  Season with additional salt to taste, and top with a splash of  lemon juice.

Finished dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!! Remember to have fun and experiment with curry!

 

Also, here are some quick general spice equivalents, if you have whole spices:

1 stick cinnamon= 1 teaspoon

1 pod cardamom= 1 teaspoon

1/4″ piece ginger= 1/4 teaspoon

1 star anise pod= 1/2 teaspoon

1 whole clove= 1/4 teaspoon

Prelude to Spring

Yes, we’re still in January, but I’m thinking spring.  That’s not just because I can’t wait to enjoy warmer weather!  Hopefully to help you ‘think warm’, I’m sharing some recipes…

Salmon and Potato Salad with Caper Dijon Vinaigrette

Cheesy Pasta Ideas

Spiced Pear Sauce

More to come, now that we have Internet back, and spring gets ever closer!

Soup Day!

Squash soup with wild rice

Yes, pomegranate in the background…

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s National Homemade Soup Day!  And there are always plenty of ideas and flavors for soup…

I love soup.  It’s not the first time nor the last time I will say that on this blog.  I enjoy eating different soups as much as I enjoy making soup.  I like that it’s easy, aside from much chopping (sometimes)!  The above picture is of a curried squash and wild rice soup that I made a little while ago with the last of our squash we had from our Community Shares Agriculture (CSA) share.  I often make soups with the abundance of vegetables we get, especially in the middle of summer.  It tends to freeze well for winter, when CSA vegetables are nowhere around.  I tend to use spices instead of salt, almost to the point of under-salting, though the broth adds much of what I don’t.

The recipe turned out fairly well.  I followed some of the comments and caramelized the onions in brown sugar, as well as using tomato sauce for an acid instead of orange juice.  I also upped the curry powder a bit.  I baked the squash beforehand, which made it easy to mix together and used an immersion blender before adding the rice to cook.  We didn’t have any butternut squash left, but some buttercup squash combined with other squash worked just fine and gave it a nice color.  The wild rice (from our Minnesota trip) held up well in the soup and added to the texture.  It was nicely toothsome even in the tasty leftovers.  I would make this again, as we had been looking for some good squash recipes.

What’s cooking on Thanksgiving Eve?

Butternut Squash Risotto

Photograph from recipe

As I’m writing this, my wife and I are finishing up applesauce and baking butternut squash for butternut squash risotto for Thanksgiving.  Risotto is one of my favorite thing to make, given that the recipe is so versatile with add-in ingredients.  I especially enjoyed my mother-in-law’s response upon tasting it- “How can we make our rice taste like this?”   I will often make it with portabellas (with some modifications), but this version with butternut squash is another of my favorites.  I love the flavor of butternut squash, as it can savory or slightly sweet, depending on how it’s made.  I have made this recipe previously, to excellent results.  It doesn’t call for other herbs or spices other than salt and pepper, but it can easily be adjusted.  I use a little cinnamon and nutmeg to add a little spice to the recipe.  Butternut squash risotto is a nice alternative to cheesy potatoes (though I love cheesy potatoes, as well!) and adds in an extra vegetable with the starch.  Happy Thanksgiving!