Thursday, March 24, 2011

A tale of two curries

So, although Jake attempted to impose a "no new food" moratorium after seeing the mountain of St. Patrick's Day leftovers in our fridge, I got around that "regulation" by making a recipe I knew he would love: tofu tikka masala.

But, this post is called a tale of TWO curries, not just one. So, yes. I made a tofu tikka masla AND a chana masala. I adapted two web recipes here and here and followed one main caveat: if I don't have it, it doesn't go in.

Jake's curry

     Emma's curry

Somehow, mine ended up a little too spicy, so I made a quick yogurt sauce with the sweet curry powder from Penzeys mixed with smoked paprika.

I also didn't have any garam masala on hand, so mixed my own a bit haphazardly. I also didn't have any fresh ginger, so relied heavily on my powdered. Pro tip: measure your yogurt for the tikka masala. Mine just got plopped in until it appeared to be the right color, but then tasted heavily of yogurt. I jazzed it up with about a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, tumeric and sweet curry powder.

Both were super delicious, but kind of needed a veggie aspect. I think next time I'll try to attempt a spinach or palak paneer type side dish. But, both curries were not a terrible first try.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's 2011

Strange as it may be, St. Patrick's day is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not personally being of Irish descent myself, I consider myself to be close enough, as both sides of my family have Irish in them.

The last few years, I've gone all out trying to perfect my corned beef and cabbage dinner recipe. The last two years, I have simmered the beef until they're nearly done, then baked to finish with a brown sugar and Guinness or brown sugar and whiskey glaze.

St. Paddy's 2010

     St. Paddy's 2009

So, this year I decided to up the ante a little and cure my own corned beef. I found a method for this on last year, about two days into the leftovers of 2010's feast. I decided that this year, I would try attempt this process.

I now live very near to a Penzeys Spices store, which is both awesome and terrible. Every time I stop by, it's at least a $20 trip -- just for spices. Again. Awesome and terrible. I stopped there to pick up pickling spice (it smells amazing)

Ruhlman's recipe explains that the pink curing salt isn't 100% necessary, but I didn't want to skip any steps at all. In the spirit of buying local, I decided to try and get this stuff nearby, but found my neighborhood butchers were out of it. I ordered a few packets of this stuff online:
I started with three briskets, and put my kimchi bucket to good use to hold the meat and the brine.

I followed the recipe for the brine on Ruhlman's site exactly, put it out on the back porch to cool, then filled my kimchi/corning bucket up to the brim. These little guys went into the fridge for 4 days (1 day shy of Ruhlman's recommendation).

On Friday, the day before our St. Paddy's day party, I freaked out, worried we wouldn't have enough corned beef or cabbage. So I ran to the store and bought three more corned beef briskets to simmer.

I followed your basic simmer and wait recipe for both the home-corned and store bought briskets, and dumped a bottle of Guinness into each pot. The same pots of water-turned-stock and Guinness were used for the cabbage (of which I had also freaked out and purchased way too many...)

But eating my corned beef and cabbage dinner was too damn exciting, and I forgot to take a photo of the whole thing. However, as usual, dear friend Wendy comes through again with a wonderful photo of the meal:

The big win from this year's St. Patrick's day dinner was finally nailing down the recipe for a brown sugar and Guinness glaze. I made a big pot using 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3 Guinness extra stouts, and 1/4 cup corn starch slurry. The corn starch is the key to helping to make the reduction silky rather than just sticky.

Here it is drizzled over my Monday morning corned beef hash:

Friday, March 18, 2011

#LetsLunch: Spring small bites edition

This month for Let's Lunch, our group mashed up two ideas: small bites for March Madness and spring recipes for spring.

I'm really glad we pushed back a week, because it allowed Minneapolis to thaw slightly so that it actually DOES look a bit like spring here.

To me, nothing says spring like radishes, which I've really only started to eat in the last year or so. I went to Trader Joe's looking for something creative to pair the radishes with and found a nice piece of "honey chevre." It sounded delicious and I thought the nice floral notes of honey would balance with the bite of radish.

My original intention was to do some kind of puff pastry wrap or layer on toasted baguette. But, as many of you know, I'm recently engaged, so therefore am trying to cut back on white carbs, such as toasted baguette or buttery puff pastry.

Enter mini phyllo cups. My new best friend, at 25 calories for a serving, compared to 170 on the puff pastry.

Problem solved. And, these little bites are delicious, spring-like and super easy.

Let's Lunch is a monthly meeting for food bloggers and is the brain child of Cheryl Tan. Our group chooses a date and a theme, then we all post our recipes on the same day.

If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you! send a Tweet to us using #letslunch (I'm @emmacarew).



1 bunch red radishes
1 package of mini phyllo cups (there were 15 in the package I bought)
1 log honey chevre (or any tasty soft cheese -- I found mine at Trader Joe's)
1 scallion, dark green parts (chives would also be tasty)

* Set the phyllo cups in a tin pie pan or on a baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 350
* Wash your radishes and slice off the tops and bottoms. Slice them on a mandoline, or very carefully using a paring knife. If they are larger than a quarter or so in diameter, cut them in half.
* Slice the cheese and use clean fingers to press about 1/2 tsp into the well of each phyllo cup.
* Bake the cups for 6-8 minutes until the cheese is melty.
* Press the radishes into each cup (I used my slices to make "fairy" wings -- like on a cupcake)
* Sprinkle with sliced scallions or chives.

Check out the other #letslunch blogger's offerings this month:

Linda's Breakfast Cookies, at Free Range Cookies
Ellise's Bite-size Black Pepper and Strawberry Scones, at Cowgirl Chef
Karen's Sushi Sushi, at Geofooding
Cheryl's Popiah, at A Tiger in the Kitchen

More links to come as I find them!