Category Archives: From the Web

Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

I needed a break from the constant influx of zucchini this summer, and the cooler mornings have awakened the warming fall food monster in me. Pumpkins and butternut squash are just around the corner! I am not a summer person, and much prefer the cold winter landscapes. Snow, skiing, bright sunny days of -25dC … bliss. To celebrate the (hopeful) end to summer, I decided to make this eggplant and black eyed pea curry from The PPK as an introduction to the season. Warm and hearty, it doesn’t have winter squash, potatoes, or other typical ‘winter’ ingredients, but it does evoke feelings of being nestled up in a warm blanket by the fire with a light dusting of snow outside. If this doesn’t appeal at this time of year, it’s also a really good curry 🙂

This is my first use of two kinds of lentils plus a bean in a curry. No stranger to mixing my beans, I was curious to see what would happen with green lentils, red lentils, and black eyed peas. The red lentils make the curry very creamy, and disappear into the background – hidden protein! The green lentils and black eyed peas pair wonderfully, and give the dish different ‘protein eye candy’ while complimenting each other on the palate. The eggplant is meaty, and soaks up the curry flavour wonderfully. The bulk from the lentils also makes the eggplant almost float on the surface, elevating the vegetable to prominence. It’s a simple curry, made of curry powder, fennel, and cayenne. The cilantro and lemon juice add brightness, adding a bit of ‘pop’ to the end. If the beans are canned or pre-cooked, this is a fantastic weeknight dinner to whip up and impress yourself. If you’re inspired to up the ante, add curry leaves, make your own curry powder (toast the whole or ground spices before grinding/mixing for maximum flavour), and of course you can add more vegetables! Zucchini, green beans, greens, potatoes, or even winter squash would all be fantastic. Served with roti, naan, or a grain and a fresh green salad, and you are ready to embrace the season change with this tasty stew.

The recipe can be found here: Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry


Habanero Hot Sauce

Habanero Hot Sauce

A co-worker gifted me with six fresh from the garden habanero peppers, after hearing of my love affair of spicy food. I was immediately faced with indecision – should I freeze them whole and enjoy them in various chilis, stews, and curries, or should I celebrate the habanero and make a fiery sauce? The sauce was speaking to me, and so I went in search of The Recipe that would celebrate the fiery pepper and not mask it. This turned out to be more difficult than I thought!

I finally found a recipe (and there aren’t many) that celebrate this noble pepper. From Rick Bayless, Top Chef Master no less! The ingredients are simple: 12 habaneros (stemmed only – keep those seeds in there!), 1/2 cup diced carrot, 1/2 cup diced onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and salt. The method is even easier: boil everything in a pot until carrots are tender, and then blend. Store in fridge. Done! I was seduced by the simple recipe, and decided that was the one.

The result? Amazing. If only I knew it was that easy to make hot sauce earlier! The carrots add colour – you can’t taste them at all. I added water to the blender slowly for consistency, and ended up with two small Mason jars of fresh hot sauce. Licking the blender, it was definitely a 5-alarm type sauce. It has mellowed out over time though (24h thus far), and although a little goes a long way, you don’t need gloves to handle it! Absolutely fantastic, it’ll add a bit of pizzazz to my chilis, stews, curries, and salads for a long time to come. I cannot wait for a trip to the farmer’s market for more fresh peppers! Treat them right, and the peppers bask in their glory. Yum!

The recipe can be found here: Rick Bayless’ Habanero Hot Sauce


Millennium Green Thai Curry

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

If I could re-name the summer of 2013, I’d call it the year of the zucchini. My CSA showered me with zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash. I did my best to keep up, and what wasn’t eaten raw or cooked was diced, grated, steamed, and frozen for delicious treats come February when I am tired of winter produce. With over 100lbs of zucchini and summer squash this summer, and an apartment sized deep freeze full of the stuff, I have gotten very creative! This Green Thai curry is one such example.

I have waxed poetic about the Pumpkin Thai Curry in the Millennium cookbook before, and am adamant that Eric Tucker is a genius. This Green Thai Curry version uses the same curry paste featured in that recipe, but substitutes all the winter squash for summer squash. Brilliant, right? I then used that curry sauce and included the rest of the curry vegetables that I love to use, as shown in my other Green Thai Curry recipe: eggplant, zucchini (more!), green beans, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and swiss chard. All save for the mushrooms were compliments of my CSA. I don’t know if it was the garden fresh veggies, the new and unique sauce, or the delight in knowing that I used two zucchinis for this bowl of greatness, but this Thai curry is a keeper! I love how the same ingredients for the curry sauce can end up with a completely different taste – it’s all dependent on how you cook it. The scientist in me is fascinated by the different flavour profiles if you add a certain spice in step one or step five, or if you pre-simmer the sauce before adding the vegetables.

There is no new recipe for this dish, just some creative imagination on how to combine two existing ones! So if you are like me and have zucchini coming out your ears and are sick of raw zucchini pasta with pesto (delicious!), try this recipe out – not only do you decrease your zucchini count, but you end up with a delicious, slightly spicy, and very piquant curry! Definitely one to keep for a rainy day!

The curry paste/sauce recipe can be found here: Winter Vegetable Pumpkin Thai Curry

The rest of the vegetable medley can be found here: Green Thai Curry

 

*Note that the vegetables are suggestions only. Use your imagination! In this edition, I also added some home-sporuted mung beans for some extra crunch, which were amazing.


Green Thai Curry

Green Thai Curry

This green Thai curry is a staple. Once you make it, you will crave it. It has also successfully proven to self-professed tofu-haters that tofu shouldn’t be pronounced with a wrinkled nose. (Try not to gloat when they go for seconds!) The green Thai curry paste is made fresh and is very easy: just throw everything into a food processor. The heady combination of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and heat from the hot chilis (to taste) win me over every time. The fresh cilantro is a must – it brings spring to the dish. I prefer ginger in this recipe to galangal as I think it matches better with the acid from the lemongrass and lime juice, but that is completely my preference. The best part about this recipe is that even though the list of ingredients looks very long, you probably have most of it already in your pantry, and since most of it goes into the food processor, clean-up is easy and cooking time is much shorter than you’d expect. This curry goes well with rice or vermicelli, but I won’t stop you from eating it straight up like soup!
After many trials and numerous iterations of this dish, I have compiled these rules of thumb for guaranteed success:

1) Sautéing the fresh curry paste makes all the difference. Like dry roasting spices for Indian curries, this is when the lemongrass and heat really start to come out. Once fragrant, you will have to have serious restraint from not eating the sauce as is!

2) When you add the tofu to soak up all the curry paste flavour, add the eggplant as well. Double the flavour with two different textures!

3) Usually I add all the coconut milk to the food processor to help the paste come together. If you have a better food processor than I, you could probably proceed with the recipe as-written. I find though that if I don’t add the extra liquid, I could do a better job making a paste by chopping things finely than my food processor.

4) If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, I’ve recently discovered that almond milk makes an amazing substitute! I am sure curry purists around the world have just gotten very angry with me, but when you need some Green Thai Curry a little matter of no coconut milk won’t stop me! This successful trial makes me believe that rice milk or hemp milk would also make for excellent substitutions.

5) The best suited vegetables for this dish are:
– Eggplant: A must!
– Zucchini: So lovely and tender
– One or more crunchy green vegetable such as green beans, snap peas, bell pepper, or asparagus
– A leafy green such as bok choy (spinach will also work)
– Cherry tomatoes: Or as I like to call them, Tomato Bombs of Flavour.

6) Add the cherry tomatoes at the very very end – with your greens. The “cherry bomb” in your mouth is so worth the restraint!

7) If you can find them, the kaffir lime leaves are a must. I store them in the freezer, and use as needed. They will transform your South Asian dishes from “really good” to “how can it get any better?!?!?”. They are the curry leaves of Asian cuisine. Add them with the green curry paste, and the lime flavour is heightened further!

This dish will turn your kitchen into a little taste of Thailand with its aromas and taste. Quick to make and quicker to devour, this is a classic!

The recipe can be found here: Vegetarian Green Thai Curry


Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup

Delicata Squash and Pear Soup

Buoyed by the success of Onion and Apple Soup, I decided to tackle an even more daunting combination: Pears and Acorn Squash! I love pears. They are my ‘special treat’ fruit, and thus I don’t want to sacrifice them to experiments. One 6lb. windfall bag on sale later, I learned that pear and banana soft serve is a good idea in theory, but disastrous in execution. I also love squash. To have squash go to waste is also a crime. So to mix the pears and squash in a savoury dish was an absolute no-no under the “thou shalt not mix fruit in savory dishes” kitchen rule.

This recipe is originally from Veganomicon, and has been taunting me ever since my first cover-to-cover study session. The ingredient combination of pears, squash, adzuki beans, and mushrooms sounds so weird that I knew that it had to be delicious. But I hesitated. For years, I hesitated. Finally, I bit the bullet and made the soup. My suspicions were confirmed – this soup is a unique take on the staple squash soup, full of flavour and surprises with every spoonful. I can’t put my finger on what it tastes like – the mushrooms and sesame oil add an Asian earthiness to it, while the squash adds the body. When you think you have it figured out the pear adds a subtle not-sweet but different taste, and the adzuki beans add colour, protein, and their own flavour. Overall it’s a delicious deviation from the norm!

These two soups, although successful, won’t have me trying pineapple on my pizza anytime soon though.
The recipe in addition to being in Veganomicon can be found at the PPK here: Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup.

*Note: In Veganomicon it calls for delicata squash, however I used acorn and it was delicious. Instead of fresh shiitake mushrooms, I used a combination of dried mushrooms and fresh white mushrooms. The dried mushrooms add to the Asian flavour with another textural element to the soup. Highly recommended!


Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Visiting Turkey and crossing the boundary between two continents within one city is on my bucket list. Also on the list is to stand in Constantinople and sing that 50’s classic “Istanbul“). The country is so laden with history and a wide variety of ethnicities that I dream of the markets and cuisine! Turkey remains on the bucket list, so I settled for a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sautéed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandelion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creaminess of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delectable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simpler to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes divine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratatouille, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?” I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thickness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for Mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425oF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!

or a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sauteed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandlion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creamyness of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delicatable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simplier to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes devine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratattouie, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?”. I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thinkness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425dF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!


Tempeh Tikka Masala with Naan

Doesn't look like much, but it's heaven in a bowl!

Doesn’t look like much, but it’s heaven in a bowl!

Spicy tomato curries are a weakness of mine. I have yet to come across one that I have not immediately pledged my undying love to. Whether it be a vegetable curry, a daal, a veggie-daal combo, or something that gets thrown into the pot because your fridge is conspiring against you, they are all amazing. But this Tempeh Tikka Masala is quite possibly the best curry I have ever had the privledge of eating. Ever. Scooped up with delicious, easy, vegan naan bread and this quite possibly may be my definition of heaven.

Tempeh is one of my favourite protein sources. I rarely buy it, and when I do I let it talk to me. What does it want to be? Braised in a Mexican beer marinade and used as wraps? Sauted with soy sauce and used in a Macro Bowl? Well, this block was telling (demanding) me that it needed to be in a curry. Only a spicy tomato curry would make its life complete, and I was happy to oblige. I have never had ‘real’ Tikka Masala, and so this was a new experience for us both. The recipe is compliments of Vegan Richa (Formerly Hobbies and More), an amazing cook that has a life mission it seems to bring to the world the best that Northern India has to offer. The tempeh is first marinated in a mixture of curry spices and a small amount of yogurt. The curry is then built up with a pureed tomato base of fresh tomatoes, ginger, chili, and garlic. Aromatic Indian spices such as garam masala, paprika, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida (hing), and turmeric season the dish, turning the puree into something magical. Kale is added for some greens, although spinach would work as well. The tempeh is cooked seperately to sear the edgesand carmelize the marinade, then it’s all simmered together for as long as you can resist. Creamyness is added to the curry with the addition of yogurt and milk. This was my first time in adding yogurt to a curry to make it creamy, and the results did not dissapoint. I used Amande yogurt, but coconut yogurt would also be delectable here. This dish to me is comfort food to the max, with the right mixture of sauce, spice, and chewiness with the tempeh. Scooped with naan, and its bliss in a bowl.

The Tempeh Tikka Masala recipe can be found here: Vegan Richa – Tempeh Tikka Masala

I must admit, I never realized that naan bread had milk or yogurt in it. When dining at Indian restaurants, I tend to prefer roti or pampads, because those are the two items that I consistently set my oven on fire with when I try to make them. Naan is the soft, fluffy cousin of roti, and a new scooping vessel for me. It would make a great pizza base, or hummus vessel. This recipe is also from Vegan Richa, and my results were nothing short of phenominal. Soft, pillowy naan greeted me from the oven, with nary a lick of flame in sight! It requires a bit more pre-planning than roti because it needs to rise, but its definately worth the effort! This recipe will be used in the future for my next attempt at stuffed breads: Paratha. The verison I made here was the yogurt version (again with Amande), but next time I think I will add some garlic  and whole cumin seeds for a truly decadent naan.

This easy, delicious, and sure fire naan recipe can be found here: Vegan Richa – Naan


%d bloggers like this: