Eggplant and Potato Curry

Lots of September eggplants mean I am looking for great recipes to enjoy them to the fullest. This happens to be one of my favorite ways to do just that.  It is a vegetable curry, now don’t be put off by that; no long list of spices: only a couple and some fresh ginger in it and it isn’t too spicy or wild tasting. I have simplified it a bit and as a bonus I give you my best eggplant frying tip. Yeap, it is vegetarian but that can be a nice change of pace from all that meat. I serve it over brown rice and it is very satisfying. You can feel virtuous enjoying this savory entree and use all that fresh fall produce.

This recipe came from my favorite Indian cookbook Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon.  This 70’s bible for Indian cookery is out of print and very pricey to buy on line. I have used literally dozens of recipes from it. She knows her spices and chooses great recipes that always work.

You can use big fat eggplants as I did this time or smaller ones; you will just need more of them. These days there are many interesting smaller eggplant varieties; any will work here; just cube, no need to peel.

Eggplant and Potato Curry

1 medium eggplant

2 large potatoes

2 decent sized tomatoes or most of a can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion diced

1 small red pepper and 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced.

1 bunch spinach or a big handful of roughly chopped kale

3-4 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated ginger, I freeze mine and just grate it frozen

½ tsp. cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle

½ tsp. ground turmeric; I did a rounded measurement; a tad more than level

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions: Slice eggplants into ½ inch rounds and cut into cubes. Peel and dice the potatoes into a bit less than ½ inch rounds. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion. Seed and chop the peppers (you can use any level of spicy pepper you like; the original recipe said green chilies). Wash and chop the spinach or kale (I used kale this time; subs in great)

Heat 3 Tbsp. mild oil in a large frying pan. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden; you will need to turn them a few times. Remove from pan. Add the eggplant and fry until cooked; once the oil is soaked in I wait a half minute and add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan; let the water steam off and the eggplant should be done; if you have to do that again; go ahead. This trick saves adding a lot more oil to keep the eggplant from sticking/burning. When mostly done remove from pan.  It will cook more later so it is okay if edges and bits are not fully done.

Note: you could fry the eggplant at the same time in a separate pan to save a few minutes if you are in a hurry; might take a touch more oil that way; worked for me.

Then, add a touch more oil to the same (now empty) pan and pour in the chopped onion and fry until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin, turmeric and grated ginger. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the chilies, tomatoes and salt, stir well and add back the eggplant and potatoes. Tip: when I make this in a wide 12 inch frying pan I don’t have a big enough lid; I use an upside down metal pizza pan and it makes a great lid.

Top with the spinach or kale. Stir after a minute, cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is soft, adding up to ½ cup water to keep it from sticking/burning. Add the brown sugar and cook the curry uncovered until it is thick; no more than 8-9 minutes. Serve with Indian bread or brown rice. As I haven’t really found time re-create my favorite Indian breads I served mine over brown rice.  eggplant curry on plante

Bratwurst in a Crepe!

This post came as a result of me buying some uncured German bratwurst at Aldi’s and I didn’t know what to make with it.  Then I saw a blog post; for a meal of bratwurst served in a “galette” which is basically a buckwheat crepe. Bratwurst is a quick cooking meat; about 10-11 minutes in fry pan. The crepes took far longer. I used dark buckwheat flour.  You will need some water, a bit of coconut oil or butter, salt and an egg. You beat it up and refrigerate it for an hour or more; up to overnight.  I made the whole recipe which should make 8 crepes; I got about 6-7.  I have made crepes before, long ago; they are a bit smaller; these were made in a 12 inch non stick frying pan.  They are harder to turn as they are so large. The crepe is thin, fairly flexible especially when it is just made. I reheated one tonight on a plate; for about 35-30 seconds.

I cooked the brats and then opened a can of sauerkraut and got out the mustard. It goes especially good with country style mustard; aka stone ground mustard.  One time I had it with a pickled okra added in and second time with some caramelized onions added.  Both tasty.

So here are my hints.  I made the batter in a 4 cup flexible measuring cup; measure the water and dump in flour and rest of ingredients. Mix it well.  Put in fridge while you do something else. When you measure batter to make a crepe, go for a touch less than a ladle full. I found that the first one was crap; just as the author said it would be.   Then I got out the cooking spray and changed from coconut oil to butter and sprayed the pan as well; Much less sticking. You have to rotate the pan around quickly to spread the batter into a thin big crepe. Be patient to turn and be careful not to flip it onto itself; sticks together and cannot be separated again; mutant crepe! Let it get some brown spots on the bottom. The edges might be all feathery; they look pretty when that happens.

I think you could use these to make wrap sandwiches; far better tasting and more flexible than any gf wrap bread I have found. They are fairly easy once you get the hang of making them. I love that there is no baking and in an hour of batter resting plus 15 or 20 minutes I can have 6 wraps to use with brats, hot dogs, lunch meat or whatever! Six is plenty for me; not sure they freeze so don’t want a ton of them. This is definitely a keeper recipe I will be able to use in many meal situations.

Here is the link to Margaret’s recipe: http://www.kitchenfrau.com/buckwheat-galettes/

Enjoy!!

Keema with Lettuce Curry

Lately I have been enjoying some wonderful meals centered around Indian curry. Sometimes chicken, sometimes lamb or beef. Keema means ground meat. I used this great recipe my sister Margie gave me for a ground beef or lamb curry with lettuce. Yes, that sounds odd, and honestly it took me quite a while before I made it. Well, it was just delicious. I have made this favorite recipe many times over the years. Unfortunately, the recipe was lost a few years ago and I finally replicated it fairly well using some curry recipes and my memories of the ingredients and the flavors I wanted to achieve. I couldn’t find any recipe for a beef/lamb curry with lettuce so I started with one that used peas as a major flavor and used ground meat and modified it to re-create my keema curry.  I love this made with lamb but I have used ground chuck in the past with a yummy curry resulting.

Curry is not that hard to cook; saute, dump, stir, simmer…but it generally has a lot of spices. I use these spices a lot making different curries. I know it seems like a ton of ingredients but please don’t throw “curry powder” in this in lieu of the spices I named. That is just not going to work as curry powder has a single somewhat flat note to it. All these spices as well as the ginger and garlic work together to create a symphony of amazing and delightful flavors. You can cut back on the ginger and/or garlic to make it more mild or strong. If you want it mild leave out the red pepper flakes.

I have successfully substituted tender shredded cabbage for the lettuce and I believe shredded romaine would also work. Possibly escarole would be successful too.

I didn’t take any cooking pictures; was not thinking about my blog. Next time I make it I will try to get some shots and add them to this post. Ground meat curries are not that pretty looking but the flavor was all there.

keema and lettuce curry

Keema and Lettuce Curry

Ingredients

1 tbsp. mild olive oil

½ tsp. cumin seed

3 cardamom pods

1 small cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 large yellow or red onion, diced (1 to 1.5 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ inch to ¾ inch of fresh ginger shredded or minced

½ tsp. red pepper flakes or a red chili pepper chopped up finely

1 bay leaf

1 ½ sp. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cumin

¾ tsp. ground turmeric

Skimpy ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (I am debating whether I want this in or not!)

½ tsp. garam masala (mixture of ground spices like cinnamon/cumin/chili powder/cloves) If I don’t have any on hand i make a quick version using these named spices)

1 lb. ground lamb or beef

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes or 2-3 diced fresh tomatoes

¾ of a head of iceberg lettuce sliced thinly; maybe 2-3 cups worth

1 to 1.5 cups water

2 Tbsp. plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:  Let meat rest until it has warmed to room temp. while you chop and measure. I put the whole spices in one small cup and the ground spices in a second small glass cup.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Any oil you like will work other than EVOL.  Add the dish of whole spices and let them heat until things crackle a bit.  Add the onions and cook until they are soft and starting to caramelize a touch. Add the ground spices as well as the fresh ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute. Add the ground meat; I push it down so the spices and onions are pushed up around the meat; giving the meat the majority of the pan surface to brown on.  Stir to brown the meat well. This may take 5-9 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sliced lettuce and stir well. Add 1 cup water, cover and cook about 40 minutes. Can cook longer; up to 60 minutes if you like. Stir it every ten minutes and add more water if needed. It should not be dry. Stir in the yogurt, add salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand five minutes before serving.  Remove the cinnamon stick. I try to pick out the cardamon pods as biting into one of them can be a bit overwhelming.

I serve mine over rice; brown rice is my preference for this curry.  I made some sautéed green beans and asparagus spears with black mustard seeds and cumin seeds; a great combination I stumbled upon. Enjoy!

My inspiration recipe was from my fancy pantry. They used peas not lettuce as the main veggie. I added and subtracted ingredients to re-create my beloved keema and lettuce curry.

 

Chicken Curry; Almost In a Hurry!

Curry is such a treat: smells incredible cooking, such a fun experience to make and full of marvelous flavor. Going gluten free has kept me from eating Indian food out, as much of restaurant cooking can contain wheat based flours.  So, making it myself is the best, cheapest option. I have been cooking Indian food for decades. First vegetarian and then I added meat/poultry or fish based curries to my repertoire. My favorites include this recipe that I am sharing today. It is relatively simple curry and despite all the spices, there isn’t that much fancy cooking involved. A week ago I made it for a friend who was visiting from out of state and she loved it, practically polished her plate! I served it with a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and raw zucchini with a dressing made of EVOL and fresh Meyer lemon juice.  Just a touch of kosher salt and some fresh pepper and I whisked that dressing until it was really thick. It made a good counterpoint to the spicy highly-flavored curry. You could use slices of European cucumber which I often do.

This is made with chicken pieces, my favorite being thighs; bone in. You could make it with any cut you like but if you go boneless I strongly suggest lowering the cooking time somewhat. Skin on or removed; your choice. I generally leave it on as it adds flavor and moistens the thigh but if you are dieting, it can be removed.

You can’t make this with “curry powder” – it just must have the correct spices. I do have trouble getting inexpensive spices due to cross contamination and even just simply labels that say wheat added. It is incredibly annoying to buy coriander and get home and notice that it says wheat added to it. This happened to me last week; bought it at Giant grocery store in the Hispanic section; Badia label; be very careful if you buy that brand. I recommend McCormick single spices or Simply Organic (found at Wegmans); pricy but generally high quality and safe for celiac sufferers who love cooking spicy food!

My recipe is out of an old cookbook by Charmine Solomon; “Indian Cooking for Pleasure”, published in 1978.  I looked for a new copy on Amazon and it would cost a minimum of $82! I think I paid $10 or $15 for it new back then. Crazy price now; but it is considered the gold standard that all other Indian cookbooks are measured against so clean copies seem to be much sought after. Maybe it will be reissued… I could use a new copy; mine is a bit of a mess from 30 years of hard usage but then, I would lose all my handwritten notes so, nope on that! I did alter it slightly as I made it for 4 servings rather than six and I think my version is not quite as spicy as hers. If you want super spicy add a fourth more of each spice. This recipe is native to the province of Uttar Pradesh.

Notes: I used canned tomatoes for this recipe but, in the summer I always use fresh tomatoes when available. Plum tomatoes work well if ripe summer ones are not around and you want fresh.

chicken dopizia curry

Not the prettiest entree but I promise you it will be one of the most flavorful you ever eat!

Chicken Dopiaza (serves 4)

4 good sized chicken thighs

3 large onions

2 medium or one large medium spicy fresh pepper like a poblano; not a hot one though!

2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

¾ of a can of chopped tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

½ cup water

1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Directions: Sauté half the onions in a large frying pan which you heated and added the olive oil to it. Keep stirring them. You want a mostly caramelized end result.  May take 15-18 minutes.  Remove from pan using a slotted spoon so you leave behind some of the oil and set aside for adding back near the end of this process.

While the onions are caramelizing…to your blender add the rest of the (raw) onions, the chopped hot pepper, the fresh garlic, fresh ginger and about ¼ cup water. Blend to a thick puree; if you need a bit more water to make that happen okay but don’t add a lot.  Pour that into the hot pan that you just removed the caramelized onions and add all the spices.  Stir as it cooks…let it darken and the oil will show a touch around the edges.  Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them with the puree. Add water and salt. Cover and cook about 35 minutes until chicken is tender. Add the onions back in the last 4-5 minutes.  Cook maybe 5 more minutes.  Serve with rice or Indian bread like parathas.  I haven’t made any gf parathas yet.  Soon!  This goes well with a cucumber salad or some steamed snap peas as I show in my photograph of my supper before I dived in! Enjoy!

Turkey Pot Pie For Dinner

If you have any leftover turkey still lurking in the fridge this is an excellent way to use it up. You will need two cups of turkey to make this rib sticking entrée; turkey pot pie.  My version tracks pretty close to that you can find in a 1970’s Betty Crocker Cookbook.  Gluten free though…cause I must. You can toss it together in about 30 minutes and it bakes in 35 more. Your tummy will thank me. I put some celery seeds in the pie crust for extra flavor.  I generally make it with just a top crust which is less calories. If you want the full deal; double the crust ingredients and make a bottom crust too. Your creation will be a delicious and substantial meal for sure!

Angie’s Turkey Pot Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions: Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes.

Pie filling

1/3 cup butter: I used ¼ cup plus some canola oil to reach 1/3 cup

1/3 cup white rice flour (or another gf flour)

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1¾ cup good quality gluten free chicken broth

2/3 cup whole or two percent milk

2 cups diced cooked turkey

4 large carrots, diced

¾ cup frozen peas (or a ten ounce bag of frozen carrots and peas)

½ to 1  tsp. celery seeds (optional)

Heat butter/oil in large frying pan, add onion, cook 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. While it cooks, cook the diced carrots for 4-5 minutes in a ¼ cup of water in a saucepan, lid on. Then turn off the heat, uncover it and throw in peas, set aside.

Add flour, salt and pepper to the fry pan with the butter and onions, cook 2-3 minutes, stir often. Add broth (I held back about 2 tbsp. to make sure it wasn’t watery) and while it heats keep stirring. Add the milk when the mixture is hot but not boiling, Stir well until it boils and then let it boil one minute, still stirring.  Add the turkey and then the drained carrots and peas, Stir well. Add rest of broth if needed.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out the pie crust thick; just big enough to cover the top of your 9 inch pie pan [about 11 inches] (I always use a glass pan but I am sure you can use a metal one). I like to roll it just 2/3 of the way out and then sprinkle with about ½ -1 tsp. celery seeds. Roll it the rest of the way and the seeds will be embedded in the crust. I like the subtle flavor they add, a touch of really old fashioned tastiness my mom would approve of!

Pour the turkey mixture into the pie pan and top with the crust. Make sure no crust hangs down; trim to look nice. If you want to go whole hog double the crust recipe and roll half so you can put a bottom crust in before you pour in the filling. Top with your celery seed crust, seal to bottom crust (if you used one) and do cut a few gashes for venting… place pie on a pie drip catcher.  My pie pan is always very full and that pie drip pan is wonderful for keeping the filling from dripping on my oven.

Bake 30-35 minutes until crust is light brown and the pie is bubbly.

Let the pie cool five minutes before serving.

All you need is a salad and you have a wonderful balanced meal. Enjoy!

turkey pot pie on plate

 

Brown Rice Flour Mix  (same as King Arthur basic blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

The crust is from Annalise Roberts’ great cookbook: Gluten-Free Baking Classics.

Stuffed Peppers..2.0 Version

Stuffed peppers are a great homey fall supper. I made them a few weeks ago and my recipe is just about the same as my mom used to make, comfort food for sure.  My garden produced more bell peppers….not sure I wanted the same flavor so I went looking for a different take. I found this vegetarian recipe by Robert Irvine on Food Network.  I changed it by adding ground chicken and removing some veggies to make room for that chicken. The result was just a great combination of flavors and very satisfying. I will put my version here.  If you want it vegetarian look for his recipe on the website. It got five stars and they are well deserved. I guess you could use any ground meat for this recipe.  I got my dark meat ground chicken at Valley Farm Markets in Bethlehem.

I don’t cook with tarragon that often but it really makes the flavor of this dish so delightful and different. Just try it.

Notes: I used cooked brown rice, the original choice was wild rice. You can use whatever rice floats your boat or is in your pantry; just cook it and cool somewhat before mixing with the other filling ingredients.  This is a naturally gluten free meal and I never got tired of it – ate all the servings up in a week and know I will be making it again for sure.

 

Angie’s Italian Stuffed Peppers   makes six

 

6 green, red or yellow bell peppers; nice sized

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb ground chicken; dark meat if you can find it

1 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves minced

1-2 cups diced summer squash

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

½ cup diced red pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. fresh tarragon chopped

½ cup Asiago cheese freshly grated (Parmesan would also work)

Directions:

Cut the lids off the peppers, discard seeds, I cut about ½ inch down the pepper so the center and stem stays part of the lid.  Heat a cup of water in a big pot with a steamer in it. Add the peppers and their lids, cook about 8 minutes, remove lid and let cool.

In a large skillet pour half the olive oil, heat, add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.  After it is cooking a couple minutes add the onions and garlic.  Cook a minute or two and add the diced squash and red pepper.  Do not overcook the squash. I used a firm variety of squash(tromboni) so it stayed together and didn’t get mushy.  Add the tomato paste and tomato; don’t add all the juice in the can of tomatoes; reserve about half for adding to the baking pan later on. Stir and cook until onions are soft.  Total cooking time; no more than ten or twelve minutes.  Heat the oven: 375 degrees.

Dump the cooled rice in a big bowl, add the skillet’s contents. Season with salt and pepper to taste and fresh tarragon.  Mix up gently. Stuff the cooled and drained peppers, do not pack in filling. Put a bit of filling in the bottom of a large oval baking dish that will hold your six peppers and stand the stuffed peppers upright in there.  Sprinkle them with the grated cheese, put the pepper lids on the peppers, I would add that reserved tomato juice from the can to the stuffing loose in the pan to keep it moist.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy  stuffed pepper

 

Yummy Bacon Quiche!

Quiche has sort of a clichéd reputation.  Something ladies eat for lunch. Something real men avoid.  A boring slice of eggy stuff. All NOT true. Well, except for it being a luncheon treat. I love a well crafted quiche. They can be pretty nasty though if not carefully made. I don’t want to go into negative details but what I aim for is a flaky crust, lots of fresh flavors and a creamy filling. I have an alternative crust if you are feeling lazy; you can butter the pie pan and lay down a single layer of buckwheat grouts (2/3 cup) and any left over go thinly over the first layer.  As it bakes they swell and create a sort of a crust. Nice, but today we are going for fantastic and that means real crust.  It is just like my fruit pie crust but minus the tablespoon of sugar.  You can use a store bought unbaked crust and no one will call you out.

To fill it I like mushroom slices, bacon and onions sautéed in the leftover bacon grease.   Totally yummy and a bit oinky especially when you add some cheese cubes. For this quiche I used fresh mushrooms which amped up the flavor quite a bit but generally the canned mushrooms are how I roll.

The egg/cheese part that holds it together; mine is a bit different than most. I use a mixture of cottage cheese, eggs and milk; blended in my blender. Easy peasy. I confess I never measure the cottage cheese but you might be more cautious so I gave an amount. My recipe adds cubes of cheese to amp up the cheese factor. I used Colby here but often I chose sharp cheddar, Swiss or Munster cheese.

If you are gluten free like me check the bacon package for a gf label as I have gotten quite ill from bacon that had gluten in it. I know…why would you put gluten in bacon? I guess it is in the brining solution? Or the spices?? No idea, but do be careful. I used four slices but if you are a bacon lover you could add two more slices and that will increase the pork factor a tad.

Sometimes I vary the filling a bit; sautéed chunks or slices of summer squash are nice.  Ham instead of bacon works nicely. Don’t use too much filling or it won’t hold together.

 

quiche sliceBacon and Mushroom Quiche  six servings

 Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 8-9 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of parchment or wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of parchment or wax paper and chill it all in your fridge for about 15 minutes. Make the filling while it chills.

Filling

4 slices gluten free bacon

1 small can mushroom slices or 1/3 lb fresh mushrooms

1 medium onion

1 ½ cup plain cottage cheese

3 eggs

1/3 cup whole milk or half and half

A chunk of bar cheese; about 2 inches of it: cheddar, Colby, muenster

Sprinkle thyme

Sprinkle paprika or smoked paprika

Filling preparation: cut the bacon into large dice; sauté in frying pan, stir often. Remove to a paper towel lined plate when nearly crisp.  Slice the onion in half rounds, not too thick and not thin and cook slowly in the bacon fat until soft but not browned; about 5-8 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain a bit.  If using canned mushrooms drain them. If fresh; slice and sauté  in a clean fry pan in about a tbsp of butter and a tbsp. of olive oil until fairly cooked; about 5 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. I use my bottom heat oven for this recipe to bake the crust nicely.

Put cottage cheese, eggs and milk in blender; put lid on. Blend 10-15 seconds or until well mixed.

quiche blender

Cut the cheese chunk into small cubes.

Assembly: Roll out the pie crust; fit into 9 inch pie pan. Flute or crimp the edge. If you don’t have a bottom heat oven bake it about 8 minutes before filling. Gently spread the onion then mushroom, then bacon on the raw or par-baked crust. Pour in the blender mixture. Spread evenly all the cheese cubes over the top. Sprinkle with just a bit of dried thyme and a touch of paprika.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center is just barely giggly when you bump it.  Cool at least 30 to 60 minutes before slicing. That is non negotiable; it will be a mess and not taste great if you cut it hot.

Keeps about 3 days in the fridge if it lasts that long; I cover it tightly with plastic wrap. To reheat, I warm a slice in the microwave about a minute until the cheese starts to bubble. Enjoy!