Tag Archives: curry

Building a pantry.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

My love for cooking began, like so many long relationships, with a heated, passionate affair. I poured through cookbooks, unable to sate my newfound desire. Each new recipe, each new ingredient was a was an adventure I never knew existed. Like many affairs, it was also expensive.

Each new recipe required new oils, new spices. Each bottle of sherry vinegar, jar of cardamom and bag of arborio rice was another dollar (or $11) out of my pinched wallet. My mother, ever practical, suggested cooking with the ingredients I already had. Willful and young, I ignored her.

Eventually, I built a pantry. Using only a tablespoon per dish, that $10 bottle of walnut oil was on handwhen I needed it to toss with arugula and bleu cheese.

Getting a pantry started can seem daunting, and pricey. You can either dip a toe in the water, or jump off the deep end (which is exactly where my mother thought I had gone off). Either way, one day you will open your cupboard, delightfully surprised, and find everything right there.

Curried Fingerling Potatoes

There are a lot of ingredients here. Most of them are spices and they all go in the pan at once, simple and straightforward.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ghee* or butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic. minced
  • 1 tbs mustard seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 cups quartered fingerling potatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or Indian stock (see below)
  • 4-5 cups loose baby spinach
  • 1 tbs Chile Oil*
  • Sherry vinegar*

*Ghee is Indian clarified butter. Find it with international ingredients or other oils and cooking fats. We opened up our Sapore Oil and Vinegar cupboard, and used Merken Chile oil and Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar.

Directions:

  • Melt 2 tbs ghee in a 3 quart sauté pan. Add onion and cook until edges brown. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add mustard and cumin seed. Cook for 2 minutes until mustard seeds begin to pop. Add remaining spices and cook for 30 seconds longer.
  • Add potatoes and stir through with spices and onion.
  • Add stock, stir and cover. Cook 15 minutes until the center of the potatoes is still firm when pierced with a knife. Uncover and cook until sauce is reduced to a thin sauce.
  • Add spinach and cover for 2 minutes.
  • Remove top, stir through wilted spinach.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper, chile oil and sherry vinegar.

Indian Stock

This special stock adds additional richness to Indian-flavored dishes. You could also use it for soup with the addition of lightly browned pieces of carrot, potato and chicken.

Ingredients:
2 tbs ghee or butter
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
2 whole cloves

Directions:

  • Melt ghee in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and leek and cook until browned.
  • Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Cook for 1 minute more and fill with 8 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.
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Everybody hates leftovers

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Gone are the days of meatloaf Mondays, canned corn Tuesdays, green bean wednesdays and mashed potato Thursdays building to Shepherd’s pie Fridays. Yet, in today’s time and budget-starved world, more and more people cook Sunday for the whole week. Even as we portion meals into plastic containers, we are guilt-filled with the knowledge that by Thursday our meals will remain untouched in the office fridge as we head to the closest food truck rally.

Thinner waists and fatter wallets – casualties of boring leftovers – were the inspiration for these two dishes. We used the same ingredients – chicken, cauliflower and spinach –  in two distinctly different dishes. They are simple enough to prepare in one night, delicious enough to hold our attention throughout the week, and the ingredients are cheap.

Yum! Pass me the leftovers.

Smokey Tomato Chicken, Cauliflower and Spinach

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes – about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs Spanish paprika, or Hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tbs Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar to deglaze the pan*
  • 1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, puréed
  • ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar*
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, about 4 cups loose

*Supermarket solutions: You can order these online from Sapore or sub sherry vinegar for Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry and a 25 year balsamic for the Dark Chocolate Balsamic.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (use a pan you have a cover for). Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.
  • Add an additional tablespoon oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes.
  • Stir tomato paste and paprika into onions and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes to pan, stir together with other ingredients and simmer for five minutes.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook until cauliflower is tender but still firm. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • Stir through Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add spinach to pan, cover and remove dish from heat. Leave for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir spinach through, check seasoning and serve.

Curried Chicken, Cauliflower and Spinach

This spice list may seem a bit daunting. Most of these are available at your local supermarket. See everyday substitutions below.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes – about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs mustard seed
  • 2 tbs cumin seed
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tbs asafetida*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ head cauliflower , cut into florets
  • 1 tsp fenugreek*
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, about 4 cups loose
  • ¼ tsp mango amchoor*

Supermarket solutions: Asafetida adds depth and could be replaced by leeks cooked with the onion. Fenugreek offers the herbal notes of dried oregano with the floral notes of coriander. Mango amchoor ads acidity. A splash of sherry vinegar can replace it.

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (use a pan you have a cover for). Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and reserve.
  • Add an additional tablespoon oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté until softened, 4-6 minutes.
  • Add mustard and cumin seeds, and toast until mustard seeds begin to pop.
  • Add turmeric, asafetida, cinnamon and coriander and cook for one minute until fragrant.
  • Add stock to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add chicken and fenugreek and cook until cauliflower is tender but still firm. Another 10 minutes or so.
  • Add spinach to pan, cover and remove dish from heat. Leave for 10 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir spinach through, season to taste with salt, pepper and mango amchoor, and serve.

Strictly off the record.

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Last night I jumped in front of the camera for the first time. After two hours and two recipes – a vinaigrette and cider-braised Delicata squash – we were all hungry and tired, so I threw some together dinner.

Digging through the vegetable bin I found two medium zucchini and a red pepper that had hours of viable edibility remaining. Into the pot they went with onion and garlic, and the last of a container of homemade stock. After a good press through the finest setting of my food mill, I added a good spicy yellow curry powder I had on the shelf. A little butter and cream for richness and the soup was ready to serve.

Honestly, this recipe was never supposed to be published. But, like some of the best food, it was created without a plan – no recipe. We had to rely on taste as the final arbiter of success.

Now enjoy. And if you don’t like how it tastes, change it. Make it better. Then tell me what you’ve done, so I can make it in my kitchen.

Curried Zucchini Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-large zucchini, about 4-5 cups diced
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1-2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • Sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2-3 tbs fresh cream

Directions:

  • In a 3-4 qt saucepan, over medium heat, sauté onion until softened, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  • Add zucchini and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to soften.
  • Stir stock into vegetables, add thyme and cook, covered, until vegetables are soft enough to mash with a fork. About 15 minutes.
  • Press solids through a food  mill and return to the stock. Alternatively, purée with an immersion blender or in your food processor.
  • Season to taste with curry powder, a splash of vinegar, butter and cream. A little bite of heat is nice in this soup. Add a pinch of cayenne if needed.

For want of cauliflower

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Cauliflower, cheddar cheese soup is really hard to make without cauliflower. I discovered this essential truth last Saturday when I arrived at Eastern Market for my cooking demos and there was no cauliflower in sight. Plan B? Curried zucchini soup. My Mom has a great recipe for this.

She, however, was not there, soooooo I made it up on the spot. Once the vegetable stock was done, the soup was ready in twenty minutes. Perfect timing for a quick weeknight dinner – or you can tell your weekend dinner guests that you slaved over the stove for hours. They’ll never know.

A couple notes: First, potatoes thicken the soup without the addition of cream. Calories saved here mean an extra glass of wine with dinner. Second, make your own stock. If you’ve got the time, chicken stock is awesome here. If not, you can have a vegetable stock ready in 30-45 minutes. If you use store bought, ALWAYS go with low sodium. It gives you better control over the amount of salt.

Honestly, I’m not remotely worried about your health here. The soup will be inedibly salty before you hit an unhealthy level. The problem is that your stock will condense a bit as your soup cooks and you can easily end up with soup that tastes way too salty.

Curried Zucchini Soup

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1-2 tbs butter
  • 1 lemon
Directions:
  • Heat olive oil in a 4 qt sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add potato and onion, sauté until onion softens. About 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup stock and stew onions and potato for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add remaining stock and cook until potato is soft 15-20 minutes.
  • Add zucchini and curry powder. Cook for 3-5 minutes until soup is fragrant and zucchini is cooked through but still fresh.
  • Season to taste. Start with salt and pepper. A tablespoon or two of butter and a good squeeze of lemon juice make the soup rich and the flavor bright. If you use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock you will probably get away with less butter.
  • Run this through a food mill, or pulse it a few times in your food process or blender. A little texture is nice. Don’t over process.
Vegetable stock: Place 12 cups water in a 6 qt stock pot. Roughly chop 1 large onion, 1 large carrot and 2 celery stalks. Add to pot along with 2 bay leaves, 8-10 celery stems, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 8-10 black pepper corns. If you have leek greens or parsnips sitting around add those as well. (No peppers or cabbage. Yuck!) Simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes and strain. Season a quarter cup with a little salt and pepper. If the stock is bland, reduce the stock by boiling down to 8 cups. (Just guess. No one actually measures boiling stock to get an exact measurement.)