Wednesday, May 12, 2010

From Our Table: Curried Cauliflower Stew

In most parts of the country, families aren't gathering around the dinner table to enjoy a warm bowl of stew in May. But that's exactly what we're doing for dinner tonight as New England fluctuates between balmy and rainy.

Put the grill away for now and enjoy this delicious curry recipe, which is so full of flavor and spice that it is guaranteed to warm any stomach on a chilly night.

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Large onion, finely chopped
2 Large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 Teaspoons curry powder
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Turmeric
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
1 Large Cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets
1 Potato, peeled and cubed
1 16-ounce bag spinach, washed and de-stemmed
2 15 ½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne; stir 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower and potato; stir 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, diced tomatoes with chilies, and coconut milk; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently until cauliflower and potato are tender and liquid thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 18-20 minutes. At the last minute, add the spinach and cook until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Nate likes to top his curry off with Sriracha, making it nice and spicy...though he would put Sriracha on just about anything!

Serves 6. Best served over Quick Indian Spiced Rice, see recipe below

1 ½ Cups Basmati Rice
3 ½ Cups vegetable stock or water
2 Tablespoons butter or oil
1 Small onion, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 Teaspoon Curry powder
½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric

Place the butter or oil in a medium saucepan and warm slowly. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and turmeric. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rice all at once, and stir until the rice is coated with the oil and spices.

Add the liquid, all at once. Bring liquid to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook rice for 12-15 minutes. Rice should be tender and all the liquid should be absorbed. Serve warm.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

From Our Table: Time to Fiesta!

With Cinco De Mayo only days away, I thought I'd share with you our favorite Mexican inspired dishes. Mexican cuisine has become a staple in our diet after honeymooning in the Riveria Maya. Having tried to reconstruct our most memorable meals at home, we created these recipes. Although nothing can compare to the authentic meals we had on vacation, these recipes take us back to the mystical ruins and beautiful beaches of Mexico.

Here are two entrees that serve a group of 6, choose one to host your own Cinco De Mayo party. The dessert goes well with either entrée (or by itself!!!!!)

Plantain and Avocado Quesadillas
If you’ve never eaten a plantain you’re in for a treat. Most grocery stores carry Green (unripe), Yellow (medium ripe) and Black (fully ripe) plantains. For this recipe I prefer the green or yellow plantains. The difference lies in the level of sweetness. The more ripe the plantain, the sweeter it is.

The skin of a plantain is tougher than a regular banana. To unpeel a plantain, cut off both ends. Make a long slice in the skin from one end of the plantain to the other. Peel off the skin in one piece.

Plantains often need to be double fried to be cooked to perfection. The first fry cooks the plantain, while the second is used to acquire a nice golden brown exterior.

1 Cup vegetable oil
3 Plantains, peeled and cut on the bias into 1 inch thick slices
3 Ripe Hass avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 (15.5 Ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8 Ounce) bag shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 Package (8 inch/medium) flour tortillas
½ Teaspoon cumin
½ Teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ Teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
Pinch sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 200F.

Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan until hot but not smoking. Carefully add the plantains, in batches as necessary, and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let cool.

In the meantime, prepare guacamole. In a mixing bowl, add the cumin, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and lime juice to the avocados. Mix until combined, leaving guacamole chunky.

Now that the plantains are cooled, flatten the rounds using a plantain press, or the back of a fork. Be careful not to rip the plantain. Return the flattened plantain sections to the hot oil, and cook until entire surface is golden brown, approximately another 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. Immediately season rounds with a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of lime juice.

Assemble the quesadillas by placing one tortilla in a pan over medium low heat. Warm both sides, approximately 1 minute per side.

Cover entire tortilla with cheese. On one half, cover with black beans. Leaving space between the two halves (so you can close the tortilla!), cover the remaining side with plantains, followed by guacamole.

After 2-3 minutes the cheese should be melted and the tortillas should be warm and light golden brown. Fold the tortilla in half. Place finished quesadillas onto a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200F oven, until entire batch is made and ready to serve.

Fish Tacos
You can't have a mexican fiesta without fresh fish, or taco's for that matter. Combine the two in this delicious recipe. Salmon, Halibut, Mahi Mahi and Tilapia are all viable options for this dish.

1 ½ Cups fresh corn kernels (use thawed, frozen corn if necessary)
2 Large vine ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
2 Hass avocados peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
6 Tablespoons finely chopped red onions
1 (8 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Large garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Teaspoon cumin
¼ Cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch sea salt and black pepper
4 (6-ounce) fish fillets, skin still on
½ Cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch sea salt and black pepper

1 Package (6 inch/small) tortillas, warmed

In a glass baking dish, add the olive oil and lime juice, whisk to combine. Add the fish to the baking dish, making sure to have seasoned both sides with salt and pepper. Let marinate 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. In a large mixing bowl, add the corn, tomatoes, avocados, onions, black beans, and cilantro.

To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, pinch salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour over salsa and set aside to let flavors marry.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Add the fish to the grill, skin side down, and cook until the skin is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the fish is opaque about 4 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fillets. Break fish into bite sized pieces.

To assemble, add fish and salsa to the warm tortilla's.

Mexican Brownies
Any chocolate treat can be turned into a Mexican delight by adding cayenne pepper and cinnamon to it. Here is our version of Mexican brownies. Feel free to kick up your chocolate cookies, cake, and hot cocoa using this recipe.

1 Box of your favorite dark chocolate brownie mix
¼ Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon

Prepare brownie mix as indicated on box. Add spices to batter. Bake as directed.

It’s that simple!