Posts Tagged carrots

Curried Chicken and Potatoes

I seem to have developed an addiction to garam masala. It’s good in curries, on cooked greens, even sprinkled over popcorn. The fact that I’d never even tried Indian food until a few months ago seems to be no deterrent at all to now trying a new Indian recipe every week or two. It’s delightful; how did I go almost twenty-seven years without tasting the cuisine of an entire sub-continent?

Last week Mr. B and I were both sick, in need of comfort food, but also in the mood for something new and different. A curry of chicken and potatoes, spooned over warm naan, fit the bill perfectly.

I adapted this recipe rather heavily from e-curry (a blog I can’t seem to stop reading), replacing tomato sauce with one made from carrots among other things.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the marinade:

6 T Greek yogurt

3 T lime juice

1 T turmeric

1 T chile powder (less if you don’t want it too hot. Hatch pepper is pretty mild, though)

1 t mustard powder

1 t salt

1- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs or breasts

For the curry:

3 T vegetable or olive oil

1 potato

2 t garam masala

1 t turmeric

1 t salt

marinated chicken

1/2 cup carrot sauce (substitute tomato sauce if you like)

2-3 hot chiles

1 T brown sugar

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup lime juice

1 cup peas (optional)

Directions

Combine all marinade ingredients (except the chicken) in a zip top bag.

Mush them together and add the chicken. Marinate at least an hour. Overnight is better.

Cut the potato into large chunks (about 12). Heat the 3 T oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the potatoes.

Sprinkle the potatoes with turmeric and garam masala and salt.

Crank the heat down to medium-low and add the chicken and its marinade.

Add the carrot sauce* (or tomato, if using)

Add the broth and stir well. Split the chiles lengthwise and add them as well.

Stir in the brown sugar.

Cover the pot and lower the heat to a bare simmer. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the lid and Stir in the lime juice. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the sauce is the desired consistency. Add peas directly if you like. Mr. B does not care for peas  so I cooked them separately and stirred them into my portion.

Serve with warm naan or over rice.

This is good, hot, just-spicy-enough comfort food. For a little more kick, add a few dried pequin peppers before simmering, or a dash of very hot sauce.

* I’ve made carrot sauce here before, but (1) frankly I’m embarrassed at how this blog used to look (not that it’s all that much better now…) and (2) that sauce is bay-leaved and parmesaned and otherwise Italian influenced, so here’s a more basic straight-up carrot sauce.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped

2 T olive oil or butter

2 t salt

2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water

1/2 cup white wine

Directions

Heat the oil or butter in a pot over medium-high heat and add the carrots. Sprinkle with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the carrots caramelize.

Add the broth or water an simmer, covered, about 15 minutes

Remove the lid and add the wine.

Continue cooking to reduce the liquid by about half.

Turn the now-soft carrots and liquid into a sauce using an immersion blender, a blender, a food processor, or a potato ricer and patience.

Add any flavors you like, serve over pasta or use to replace tomato sauce in any recipe.

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Pickled Carrots

There’s been maybe a little too much sweet going on around here lately. Not that there’s any such thing as too much chocolate, but there’s certainly such a thing as not enough crispy, crunchy vegetables.

I don’t put up vegetable recipes all that often, because five nights out of every week I just choose something green, steam it, and toss a little olive oil or butter and salt on top. The other two nights I’m likely to have salad. Every now and then, though, my broccoli comes out of the fridge wanting to be roasted, or lima beans demand to become falafel, or a sad few remaining carrots in the back of the drawer wonder at me, “what would it be like to be pickled?”

I don’t even like pickles. Not the cucumber kind, anyway. It wasn’t until recently (in Atlanta, again) that I learned that carrots could be pickled, or that they’d become even more delightful once they soaked up a garlicky and herb-infused brine.

It’s easy. It’s crunchy. It takes less than two days of just leaving your vegetables in the refrigerator. And let’s be honest here: we’re all guilty of just leaving our veg in the fridge and having a chocolate bar instead sometimes. May as well make that time useful.

Ingredients (makes 2 jam jars full, serves 1 dinner party as part of an appetizer tray.)

3-4 carrots

1 cup water

1 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

3-4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 T salt

2 big sprigs of rosemary

Directions

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic in a saucepan.

Bring the brine to a boil and turn off the heat. all the salt and sugar should dissolve.

Meanwhile, peel the carrots and cut them either into sticks or chunks.  Fill the jars with the carrots and stick the rosemary branches in among them.

Pour the vinegar mixture, garlic and all, over the carrots to fill the jars.

Use a tea towel to put the lids on the jars–the hot liquid won’t feel so great if you try to leave out the towel. Refrigerate the carrots for at least 2 days or up to a month or so.

These are good as an appetizer alongside sweeter hors d’oeuvre such as challah toast with salmon.  They’re even better grated on a sandwich with turkey and mustard on toasted pumpernickel rye. Either way, the only simpler thing to do with these carrots is to eat them raw. And at least in this apartment, there’s usually something more interesting calling to be eaten than a raw, plain carrot (like an apple, or peanut butter out of the jar). These pickled ones have enough zazz to catch my attention, when I’m rummaging through the fridge for a snack, and it’s easy to find more and more dishes they seem to complement. I’m wishing I hadn’t run out of them so quickly; now I have to wait two more days for the next batch!

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Lamb Shanks with Carrots and Polenta

Apparently, Mr. B does not trust me. Apparently, he thinks I am an evil ogress just waiting to rain destruction down upon the earth. Apparently, when he opened the freezer this morning, he thought I had resorted, for no discernible reason, to cannibalism.

I ask you, does this look anything like a human shin bone?

If you said yes, I challenge you: Why would you know that?

In fairness to my paranoid husband, I may have been reading a few things that worried him. Starting with the account of the whaling ship Essex (crew turned cannibal, sadly, to avoid imaginary cannibals), followed by a book about the Franklin expedition (Owen Beattie thinks they probably turned cannibal), followed by Askenasy’s Cannibalism: From Sacrifice to Survival. And no, these are not the only books about cannibals that I own.

Still, I own even more books about deep sea biology, yet as far as I know no one has ever accused me of being a squid.

At any rate, those lovely meaty shins above did not come from a human, but from a delicious lamb. The best part about cooking these in foil, as recommended by the current issue of Fine Cooking,  is that Mr. B and I could have different flavors. I had honey, apricot, and lemon. He had barbecue.

Ingredients (Serves two. Easily doubled, halved, etc; one shank per person, veggies as desired.)

2 T olive oil

2 lamb shanks

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

1 onion, chopped*

1 T kosher salt

2 sprigs rosemary

pepper and other spices as desired

For BBQ version

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

For fruity version

3 T lemon juice

2-3 T honey

8 dried apricots

*Mr. B won’t eat anything if an onion has even looked at it, so we didn’t have any. It was kind of a shame. I highly encourage the use of onions.

Directions

 

Heat oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a skillet and drop the shanks in to brown on all sides. Meanwhile, chop up your carrots and other vegetables and divide them into two piles, each on their own nice big square of aluminum foil.

When your shanks are browned, or you’re just bored of messing with them in a pan that is not cast iron, lay them over the vegetables. Season with salt and other spices.

Now for barbecue: just pour some barbecue sauce over the shank and wrap up the foil.

For the fruit and honey:  add the apricots around the base of the lamb, pour on the honey and lemon juice, and wrap it up as well.

Place both shanks on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The cookie sheet is to keep the inevitable leak of sauce from catching fire in the bottom of the oven. I’ve done it before. Trust me, you don’t want to clean up after that.

Serve with polenta* or roasted potatoes or just a pile of matzoh.

*I know some Jews don’t eat corn during Passover. Please don’t yell at me. I’m not making you eat it. If you are okay with corn during Passover, still remember that adding butter or parmesan makes it inappropriate to serve with lamb. If you’re not Jewish, by all means, wrap it in bacon and eat it with a pile of cheese.

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Stir Fry: Any Way You Like It

Stir fry is my go-to dish for last-minute dinners, quick hot lunch, and emergency solution for days when Mr. B and I just don’t want the same thing. Stir fry is fast, it’s easy, and it’s fun. I’ve been avoiding providing a recipe, though, because I don’t think we’ve ever made it the same way twice. Still, I make it all the time, and almost everything I cook can be wildly altered. I mean, that’s half the fun of cooking, right? Making stuff up as you go? So here it is: stir fry any way you like it. Just the basic principles here!

Ingredients (to serve 2)

3/4 cup of long grain rice

1 cup of water

1 T mirin

Per person:

about a cup of mixed vegetables, or 1/2 to 3/4 cup of vegetables and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped meat

favorite seasonings, to taste

soy sauce and mirin, to taste

one egg, optional

You see why I was avoiding giving a recipe now, don’t you?

Directions

First, make rice. No, I don’t have a rice cooker. Tiny apartments are not highly conducive to owning a million gadgets, so I had to settle for half a million gadgets. Pour the rice and water and about 1 T mirin (rice vinegar) into a small saucepan, cover with the lid, and bring to a boil. Let it boil about a minute, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 12-14 minutes. Boring rice time is over, let’s play with veggies!

This is one I made for lunch a couple of weeks ago right before going to the grocery store. 1/2 a cup of frozen peas, diced sweet potato, sliced purple potato, and a dab of miso paste. I don’t usually go so carb heavy. Tonight, for instance, I used broccoli, asparagus, carrots, peas, and diced chicken. Mr. B had broccoli, ground beef,  and egg. Just whatever’s in the fridge. Toss these ingredients in whatever spice you want. Chinese five spice, pepper, garlic, salt, curry powder, whatever.

So, heat your wok (or heavy bottomed sauce pan) on high, add 1-2 T of cooking oil once it’s nice and hot, throw in all of your ingredients and stir furiously with a spatula or wooden spoon for a few minutes (three to five minutes?)

At this point I usually turn off the heat and throw in a little mirin and/or soy sauce and toss a moment more before mixing with rice and serving. Mr. B likes to fry his rice, too. To do that, scoop all your vegetables to one side in the wok, crack an egg into the empty half, and scoop 1/2 of the rice you made into the wok on top of the egg. Count to 10 to let the egg start to fry, then stir furiously again for about 1-2 minutes before serving.

There you go. A simple and delicious way to use those last few bites of veggies lurking in the back of the fridge.

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Tomato Free Lasagna with Artichokes and Kale

I literally can not remember the last time I had lasagna. The tomato allergy put a lot of really amazing Italian dishes right out of reach for me, so when I started making this last night, I was terrified. Maybe it would be awful. Maybe it would be just fine, but I wouldn’t like it. Maybe some dishes just can’t be adapted to not use tomatoes.

I shouldn’t have worried. It was creamy and complex with a cracker-crisp layer of parmesan over the top and had just enough vegetable to feel like a whole meal in one casserole. This recipe, in other words, rocks. I will confess, I didn’t measure everything. Until I started putting all this stuff on the Internet, I only ever measured for pastry and eyeballed everything else. I like to use as much of something as looks or smells or tastes right. Actually, I feel dough when I bake and add flour or liquid as needed. So my old habits kicked in tonight, and for a few things I’m just going to have to guess how much I used. Use your own judgment if it doesn’t seem right to you. Recipes are meant to be played with!

Ingredients (makes a 9X13 casserole, serves 6-8)

3/4 pound lasagna noodles (15 sheets)*

4 cups carrot sauce (double this recipe)

2 eggs

1 pound mozzarella, grated. I used the cheap stuff. It’s a whole pound of mozzarella, and melting rather improves it.

4-6 leaves of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 eight-ounce bag of frozen artichoke hearts.

some sour cream (We talked about this. I just used a spoon, okay?)

3/4 cup grated parmesan

Directions

 

Steam makes any photo look ominous.

 

First make the carrot sauce. If you’re smarter than I am you have some in the fridge, but I tend to make small batches and them wish I had more. So I made the double batch, and discovered that my immersion blender can handle it (Good; that much sauce will not get along with my food processor. Not in one batch, anyway.) Stir the eggs into the carrot sauce and set aside.

 

 

Boil the lasagna noodles until al dente, according to the instructions on the box. This only deserves special mention because of what happens next. Once you drain them, they will try to weld themselves together with an adhesive strength rivalling that of concrete. So I peeled them apart, cursing up a storm as I burned every one of my fingers, and draped them over the sides of my colander. There has got to be a better way.

 

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F and start making lasagna layers. Assembling the lasagna is actually fun for someone as compulsive as I am. First, three noodles to cover the bottom of my dish. Then I spread some sour cream over the noodles with the back of a spoon. I probably used about two teaspoons per layer, but just use as much or as little as you want. This turned out to be my accidental secret ingredient, as I forgot to tell Mr. Blackbird about it and he was obsessing over that one flavor he couldn’t name. Oops.

Then sprinkle about 1/5 of the mozzarella over the pasta, smear about 3/4 of a cup of sauce over that, and layer in some artichoke hearts and kale. I didn’t measure any of this, and it came out great, so please don’t worry if one layer has a whole cup of sauce and the next has too many veggies, because it will all work out. I promise, this turned out to be an incredibly forgiving dish.

That right there, for instance, was a not-enough-kale layer. The next one made up for it. Repeat with all the layers but the top one, where you want the cheese on top for bubbling purposes. The parmesan goes on top of that. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 5-10 to get the top nice and crispy. I actually cranked the oven up to max broil for two minutes and got a thin parmesan cracker over the top of the casserole, which I declared the best part. Mr. Blackbird does not agree. He liked the artichokes best. Serve with wine and a bit of bread, if you like. It really needs no accompaniment. Next time I might throw in some pulled smoked chicken breast, but this dish honestly holds its own without it.

I tried to show the layers here, but I don’t think it comes across. Or maybe it does. Look at how nicely everything just smooshes together into one amazing, savory bite!

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