Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kale--Not Just For Errant Children Or Dinosaurs Anymore...

"You are cooking kale tonight!? Kale is for errant children, not potential dating interests!"

Yeah, well. There is nothing that says "I would like to impress you" better than "I am serving you your daily allowance of greens and fiber." Let me clarify--I did not cook this for a date, but it's totally suitable for such. This verdant number [quite literally] appeals to my green sensibilities and my love of dinosaurs--I mean look at this and tell me T.Rex would not be all about this baby.

Let me clarify something here. Using a "softer" kale such as dino kale and other such more expensive varieties from Whole Bucks would be preferable to using the ol' gnarly sort I got from H Mart, but really...if I made it work with this kind, I am sure you can only improve upon things.

kale [a large bunch]
red pepper flakes
miso paste [optional]
walnuts/pumpkin seeds or both
fresh basil
olive oil
nutritional yeast

1. Roast about 1/2C of walnuts + 1/2 C pepitas/raw pumpkin seeds. You can also only use walnuts or only pepitas...or pine nuts. Get creative. Pan roast them on a burner till they are fragrant but not burned [obviously].
2. In another pan, heat up some olive oil. Put 3-4 large whole cloves of garlic. Do not chop the garlic. Trust me. Allow the garlic to get a delicious golden color on each side.
3. Chop the kale [including the ribs--yes, I like maximum fiber :)!] finely and start sauteeing it in with the garlic. Add a dash of nutmeg, a good bit of red pepper flakes, and salt.
4. Once the kale has softened significantly but not overcooked, pull it off the hot range and allow it to cool.
5. In a blender, combine the nuts, the kale mixture, 1 T of mild miso paste [white miso], some olive oil, a little bit of fresh basil, and about 1T of nutritional yeast flakes into a smoothish pesto, as you see in the pic above. The color should definitely be a nice, fresh green. If it really looks like basil pesto, I am afraid you have overcooked it and you will now never have a second date [just kidding on that second part].

There you have it--kale, not just for errant children or dinos anymore!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Long Lost and Long Squash Nights

 Whatever anyone is doing, I am soaking lentils—so much foresight I have...Anyway, while I try not to brag, I will say I have often been dubbed an "honorary Indian" as I know a lot more about Indian culture than most and I cook Indian all the time. Heck, I freakin' have asafoetida in my kitchen cabinet so I am way above, "I bought curry powder at the Safeway level."

Long Squash And Lentils/Dal/Dahl
1. Soak a cup of masoor dal [red Indian lentils] or urad dal overnight, changing the water a couple of times. This aids with digestion and explains why Indian people are able to eat dal on dates :).
2. In a pan, heat about a T of high-smoking point oil such as vegetable oil or grape seed oil.
3. Add about a T of whole cumin seeds and whole mustard seeds. The oil will allow them to "open up/pop" and release their flavor.
4. Add a whole lot of red onions, sliced in ribbons. I think they look prettier this way and you are also aiming to let them caramelize as much as possible.
5. Add an entire finely chopped tomato and the long squash [pictured above] and continue cooking all of this. You may wish to put a lid on it and cook it on a low flame.
6. Chop a lot of fresh cilantro finely and add it to the squash mixture once it has cooled off so it doesn't cook the cilantro and make it wilt completely.
7. Chop some ginger and garlic finely [about 1 inch piece of ginger and 3 cloves of garlic] and saute them in a little oil for them to release their flavor. Add that to the base of the pot you will be using to cook your dal in.
8. In the mean time, start getting the dal ready. Put the soaked dal in a pot with water. Add turmeric and red chili powder or fresh green chilis in the pot. Cook the dal, scooping off any foam that forms as it boils.
9. If using a pressure cooker, the dal takes about 5-10 minutes. If not, takes about 20-30 mins. on a medium heat. Add some cumin powder, corriander powder, and a little garam masala at the end. Also prepare either tamarind concentrate [soak whole tamarind in hot water and then run through a sieve] or just lime juice or lemon juice and add it to the cooked dal towards the very end [do not overcook with those things in there].
10. Finally mix the squash in with the dal.
11. Perfect--ever since the day of Jacques Pepin cooking cucumbers, people realized that putting watery vegetables in with hot things does not lead to boiled cucumber [blech!] but instead adds a refreshing element to seemingly heavy dishes such as legume soups.

I know the recipe sounds a tad confusing and sounds like it requires 10 bajillion things, but common, don't kid yourself and think that just because you put curry powder in something, you are cooking Indian. The nice things about all those spices is that they are the base for most Indian cooking so once you have them, you will keep using them and you will be cooking authentic Indian and not some white-washed, half-baked nonsense :) [yes, I said it!].
Anyway, there will be a lot more Indian coming to the blog so keep an eye out.