July 24, 2003

Mikko looked a little dubious when he figured out that the salad was actually the main course, but I won him over with this menu from the July 2003 Cooking Light:

Mediterranean Potato Salad with Shrimp and Feta
Garlic toast
Orange slices

I bought precooked shrimp at the fish counter at Andronico's, but next time I might cook them myself ahead of time just to cut that slight supermarket taste.

I didn't eat the peppers and onions.

For the potato salad, to prepare dressing, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad, arrange 5 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pounds), in a single layer on a microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Add 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled, and 1 tablespoon dressing to potatoes; toss gently to combine. Add remaining dressing, 3 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce, 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips, 1 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips, 1 cup thinly sliced red onion, and 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese; toss gently to coat. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped pitted kalamata olives. Yield: 4 servings.

For the garlic toast, rub 4 (1-ounce) French bread slices with cut sides of a halved garlic clove, brush with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Broil 1 minute or until golden.

Posted by astraea on July 24, 2003
July 22, 2003
Bean Poriyal

This is yet another South Indian dish i feel comfortable posting, which means i've cooked it more than once. This is a quick one, as long as you have
all your spices. A poriyal is a sauceless vegetable dish, also known as a dry curry.. This simple dish is also from Chandra Padmanabhan's book Dakshin.
So, here we go!

Bean Poriyal
prep time: 15 min, 45 if you're talking to your guests a lot cook time: 10 min
1 lb green or string beans, finely chopped into wee cubes!
2 tablespoons grated coconut
salt to taste
2 tbs water

For Tempering:
2 tbs oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)
1 tsp bengal gram dal (yellow split peas aka chana dal)
1 red chili (chili pepper) halved
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
a few curry leaves.

SO folks who just glanced at the potato masala may have noticed, the list of ingredients is quite similar. The hot-oil-with spices mix, also called a tarka, is often the same in a lot of south indian dishes. If you don't have urad and chana dal handy, don't fret. fret about the mustard seeds and asafoetida, though! they're cool!

Trim the ends of the beans if necessary. chope the beans finely and set aside. If using fresh ccoconut, grate and set aside. but you already have it grated, don't you?

Tempering: Heat 2 tblspoons oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, halved red chili, asafoetida powder, and those fresh yummy curry leaves. pop! when the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the chopped beans, salt, and 2 tbs water. Cover saucepan with a lid and simmer over a low heat until the beans are tender. Add the grated cocnut. mix thoroughly and serve hot!

for all those ingredients, there's not much to it, huh!

Posted by tapeworm on July 22, 2003
Potato Masala

I know i haven't posted in a while, but i've not only been learning how to cook indian food, i've been learning how to cook, period. In this time i've had some failures, and some actual successes, though i'm long away from making the full thali of my dreams. SO on to a simple and really tasty recipe. Potato Masala! This recipe is from Daskshin, which i will review later!

Potato Masala
prep time: 30 min. cooking time 50 min.
1 lb potatoes
2-3 green chilies (chili peppers) finely chopped
a peice of fresh ginger (2.5cm long) finely chopped
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped (optional)(well, the lady sez it's optional, the worm says it's mandatory! mmmm!)
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup water
1/2 cup boiled green peas (optional)(i'm okay with that)
1 handful coriander leaves, finely chopped (to garnish)

For Tempering
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black gram dal (washed urad dal)
1 teaspoon bengal gram dal (washed yellow split peas)
1 red chili
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
a few curry leaves

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked. Peel, mash, and set aside. or don't peel them, esp if they're those yummy yukon gold potatoes!

TEMPERING: Heat 1 tblspoon oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, halved red chili, asafoetida powder, and the curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start to pop, which will happen quite soon, add the finely chopped chilies, ginger, onion and totmatoes. saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the salt to taste, ground turmeric, and 1 cup water. Cover pan with a lid. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the onions are well cooked. Add the mashed potatoes and boiled peas (if used). Cook for another 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. serve hot!

Posted by tapeworm on July 22, 2003
July 17, 2003

In my many travels to Fattoush I have eaten only one entree: a nomadic specialty called mansaf. This is not because the rest of the menu is wanting in any way, but simply because the first time I went to Fattoush I picked out the tastiest thing on the menu - mansaf - and discovered my dream comfort food.

Mansaf is a pyramid of tangy aged yogurt-drenched rice with a delectible core of tender lamb chunks, topped with toasted almonds. After I had it once I couldn't bring myself to order anything else on the menu. I also figured out that my husband wasn't hot on supporting my new addiction every night of the week with trips to Fattoush, so I knew I had to figure out how to make it at home. So I tried to make it. The results? One word: disaster.

I'm not exactly sure what I did wrong, but I have a couple ideas.

The first was (duh) I didn't really have a solid recipe to work with. I found a few candidates online on various sites, but in the end I just tried throwing it together. The second clue it wasn't going well was the yogurt. Although the end result was edible, the yogurt sort of clotted and it wasn't very pretty to look at; my husband thinks it was because he had picked up a no-fat variety by mistake.

If anyone out there has a Jordanian/Middle Eastern cookbook and wouldn't mind typing in the recipe; I'm game to try the experiment again!

Posted by rebecca on July 17, 2003
July 12, 2003
breakfast for dinner

This Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche from the July 2003 Cooking Light has all kinds of healthy protein and calcium and vitamin C and folate, if you care about that sort of thing. I just liked it because it reminded me of Extreme Pizza's Poultry Geist. Yum. Poultry Geist.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup vertically sliced onion and 1 garlic clove, minced; saute 1 1/2 minutes. Add 5 cups broccoli florets; saute 1 minute. Spread broccoli mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Combine 1 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk, 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 4 large egg whites, lightly beaten, and 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, in a large bowl. Pour milk mixture over broccoli mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until top is golden and a knife inserted in center comes out clean; let stand 5 minutes. Serve with 6 (1-ounce) slices whole wheat bread, toasted. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea on July 12, 2003
July 05, 2003
quick mango lassi (and random mango tips)

This is probably not a "true" mango lassi, as depending on which East-Indian friends I ask, a true lassi is made with yoghurt, and the mango taste is meant to come from mango puree. (I think Ashish is wrong on the mango puree, but I'm not getting into an argument with his mother!)

So this is my own variant on the classic, using fresh mango and kefir

Peel and slice a fresh mango. You can use any kind of mango: if you're deeply averse to fiber, use the Ataulfo variety. The riper the better, but there should be no dark spots on the inside. I've found the easiest way of preparing fresh mango is to peel the skin with a good sharp potato peeler and then slice the meat from the pit with a paring knife.

Add the following ingredients to your blender:
1 peeled, sliced mango
1 c. plain kefir (the lifeway brand one is tasty)
3/4 c. milk
1 tbsp honey (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blenderize until smooth and frothy. If you have ice, pour over ice and serve. Mint makes a nice garnish.

Random notes...
The proportions in this really are up to you: more kefir and less milk makes a thicker, more filling shake. If you don't have kefir, use yoghurt and increase the milk ratio.

Vanilla is not at all traditional, but I like the way it rounds out the honey and mango flavours and softens the acidity of the kefir.

If you find yourself with an abundance of mangoes, sliced mango freezes beautifully. Just peel and chunk them all, toss them in a freezer bag, and freeze. The high sugar content in the mango makes it easy to chop off a chunk from the block with a good knife -- you can then use frozen mango to make a lassi when mango's not in season.


Posted by naomi on July 05, 2003