Tag Archives: The PPK

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


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!


Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caaribbean!

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caribbean!

Disclaimer: I am in the process of moving across the country, and thus haven’t had access to a kitchen for over a month. I’m working through the archives, which seem to be full of cookbook recipes. So, I present to you another recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This particular recipe took me over a year to make. I’d been eyeing it for a while, but I was often distracted by my own cravings, whims, and hesitation for sweeter, milder curries. Finally, I gave this one a try and yet again Isa didn’t disappoint! The curry is a nice balance of sweet and savoury, and there’s a good kick at the end from the addition of habaneros. I didn’t seed my peppers giving me a greater kick than usual, but that’s completely to taste! You can never go wrong with the addition of bell peppers in a curry, and the black eyed peas are a great canvas for the curry as they soak up the flavour wonderfully. Other mild tasting beans can be substituted, such as navy beans. However, the Jewish consider black eyed peas to be lucky when celebrating Rosh Hashanah (usually in autumn), and in the southern US they are considered lucky to ring in the (Roman Calendar) New Year, so why not add a little luck on your side? The plantain addition is nice, however I would recommend simmering the plantain in the curry instead of steaming it separately as the recipe suggests. I find plantains to be really starchy, and when you simmer it in the sauce it takes on the flavour of the curry while still maintaining the plantain purpose.

This dish is simple to throw together – perfect for a weekday meal or for mimizing time spent in the kitchen with company over. The smells of this curry simmering on the stove will transport you to the Caribbean, making you forget that it’s -30 Celsius outside! So when ringing in the New Year, add a little bit of luck to the holiday spread and make this curry!

The recipe is available in Appetite for Reduction, but it is also posted on the PPK here: Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry with Plantains.


Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Chili

Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Chili

 (Apologies for the poor picture: I am in the process of moving across the country and only had capabilities for the point-and-shoot no-edit)

The title says it all. Brussels sprouts and sweet potato meet together in a fiery hot chili that has been the side dish for more than one festive meal. Brussels sprouts generally have a bad reputation – I did not have my first sprout until my late 20’s, on account of family ‘brussels sprout issues’. Perhaps I wouldn’t like them so much if I was force-fed them growing up (like tomato soup), but these little vegetables are cute versions of cabbage and taste faintly of broccoli. As an extra bonus, they hold their shape in soups and stews, so you have something firm to chew on instead of wilted leaves or random specks of broccoli florets. They are especially decadent shaved thin and roasted until very brown (some would say burnt); every bushel of brussels sprouts that make it to my kitchen have at least one dish prepared this way! But not everybody has been charmed by these cute little cabbages, so to bring them over to the dark side I present to you this chili.

This chili is a warm, hearty stew that is quick to throw together and disappears just as fast. Pinto beans add some protein, however navy beans or chickpeas are also fantastic. Sweet potatoes (always good in a chili!) are the bulk of the dish, and pair well with the tomatoes and chili powder. The brussels sprouts add some colour, a different texture, and a broccoli/cabbage feel to the chili. Brussels haters won’t even know that they are there! In fact, the last time I made this dish for the family, the self-diagnosed ‘brussels sprouts issues’ individuals first tentative spoonful came with an eye roll and a “clearly I’m humouring you” attitude, then proceeded to lick the bowl clean. And then go for seconds, thirds … one small step for the mighty Brussels Sprout!

This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Although an excellent cookbook that is a solid standby for quick weeknight dinners, Isa has also posted the recipe for this dish on her website, the PPK. You can find the recipe here: Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts. 

*Substitution note: As I never have chipotles hanging about, I substitute normal jalapenos. For chipotle smokiness, a drop or two of liquid smoke may get you the same effect, but I have never tried it.

Embrace the Brussels Sprout! Chili for a holiday meal? Why not, I say! It’s a wonderful change to the maple sugared toothache-inducing ‘traditional’ preparation of both the sweet potato and brussels sprout. The taste will win over even the staunchest brussels sprouts “haters” – a perfect excuse to make more!


Butternut Rancheros

Southern comfort food in a bowl. Black beans and butternut squash prove once again that they are a match made in heaven. This is what I would consider a fantastic breakfast, but really it’s a meal that can be eaten anytime. It also serves a double purpose of curing all that ails you – between the jalapeno and chili powder you sweat out all those toxins! The recipe itself is another easily adaptable base recipe, and will accept all various vegetable and spice combinations that you throw at it. I like to serve it over a bed of spinach, but it would also be fantastic served with basmati rice or polenta for a more complete meal. It would also make an excellent stew – add some water or vegetable broth and have chili for breakfast!

The original recipe is from The PPK, found here: The PPK Butternut Rancheros.  I adapted it as follows below. As a recommendation, I strongly recommend having a fan going and/or a window open when you sauté the spices and jalapenos otherwise your eyes will water and depending on the sensitivity of your fire alarm it will go off. Unless of course you live for that sort of extra excitement 🙂

Butternut Rancheros

4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes (~1 squash)

2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. chili powder (optional: for the spice seekers out there!)
2 tsp. oil
1 yellow onion, diced to ‘medium’ size
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 (19oz.) cans black beans (~3 cups cooked)
½ tsp. salt (to taste)

Optional vegetable additions:
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced

Directions:
1) In large saucepan dry roast cumin seeds, coriander, and chili powder over medium-high until fragrant
2) Add oil, onion, garlic, and jalapenos. Sauté until onions translucent.
3) Add any additional vegetables. Sauté ~1 min.
4) Add butternut squash. Stir to coat the squash.
5) Add tomatoes. Stir, cover, and let simmer 10-15min, or until squash fork-tender. Add water as necessary if mixture is looking dry.
6) Add black beans and salt. Stir and let simmer ~5min, or until beans heated through.
7) Serve over a bed of greens and/or with basmati rice or polenta.


Cashew Korma

My love for Indian food cannot be overstated. It was a magical day when I went to my first Indian restaurant and learned that there is more to Indian food than the butter chicken cooked in the CrockPot that I grew up with. I love everything about it (except the butter chicken in the CrockPot). I even like that your whole house will smell of curry for 1 week after! I love that with a few tweaks in spice mix you can have a completely different dish. Change up the legume, vegetables, base, and the combinations are virtually endless. Curries are my go-to when I need comfort food, feel like celebrating, or have the desire to clean out the fridge. All that being said, korma was never my favourite. I have boiled/steamed vegetable issues from my childhood, and I don’t like cream sauces (sorry, Alfredo.) And then one day I stumbled upon this Cashew Korma recipe over at the Post Punk Kitchen. And my life was changed.

This recipe is ridiculously easy to put together, and best of all only requires one (huge ass) pot! Pulverized soaked cashews make the sauce nice and creamy. A food processor gets the job done, but a blender or immersion blender would make it even creamier. The vegetables allow for flexibility, and with my addition of green beans  and broccoli, the korma isn’t too monochromatic (my other previous issue with korma). The curry is spiced nicely – no extra dashes of anything (save for Sriracha) required. It is lovely over some basmati rice, but I have been known to eat it straight up! It feeds a small army, which is okay – load up on some Tupperware containers and freeze single portions. It freezes exceptionally well, and when you pull out the korma for those hard to motivate yourself to cook on Monday dinners, it will be heaven in a bowl.

The recipe is here: Cashew Vegetable Korma. If you haven’t checked out The PPK yet or any of Isa’s cookbooks, this is the perfect opportunity to do so! Full of humour, anecdotes that are sort of relevant (and therefore the best kind) and peppered with kitchen tips, Isa is a genius. Try the korma – it will challenge all previous conceptions about korma you have ever had, and you won’t look back!


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