Did it. Guacamole with peas!

 

You know how, when you aren’t exactly sure you want to do something,  you put it off—turning instead to “must do” projects like sorting the dog’s toys by size and color?

This week I’ve been nagged by the feeling that I needed to make this (in)famous guacamole with peas recipe from The New York Times. I wrote about it here a week ago when I posted a recipe, also from the New York Times, for a wonderful traditional guacamole. (Here is that link: http://bluecayenne.com/guacamole-give-peas-chance)

To remind you, The New York Times posted the guacamole with peas recipe on Twitter in 2015, after initially publishing the recipe in 2013 in Melissa Clark’s column in their newspaper. The original recipe came from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the chef-owner of ABC Cocina, an upscale and well-reviewed restaurant in New York. The 2013 recipe didn’t cause a stir, but, when the Twitter recipe was published, the Internet exploded. “Don’t #$!** mess with guacamole!” was the message that came through loud and clear. Despite getting rave reviews from the likes of Zagat’s James Mulch and New York Magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt, guacamole with peas was a decided bad boy among guacamole aficionados. One Twitter writer, obviously a serious student of history, wrote: “Peas in guacamole?! We fought two world wars and invented a space program so we could have this world? WTF.” Even President Obama waded into the controversy: “respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic.”

I guess I kind of agree with the guac purists. Guacamole is a pretty iconic dish.  That explains, I guess, my hesitancy to begin blanching the peas, mashing the avocados, and <gulp!> mixing them together. (Yes. The recipe does have avocados as an ingredient.)

But, you know me, I like to live on the edge.  So, yesterday, I decided to tackle the recipe.

It turned out a bit lighter, sweeter and grassier (is that a word?)  than regular guacamole. I didn’t finish the whole bowl of guacamole in one sitting, so I stored it in the refrigerator overnight and it didn’t discolor. (That’s always good.)  Also, I liked the crunch of the sunflower seeds better on the second day when they were a bit less crunchy and a bit more chewy.

And the verdict is? Good. Very good. But, then again, I’ve always liked bad boys. 

Here is the recipe. A link the original recipe appears at the bottom of this post. 

Did it. Guacamole with peas!

49 minPrep Time

49 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fresh or frozen peas (I used frozen)
  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers
  • 2 T. packed cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • 3/4 t. salt (more as needed)
  • 3 large avocados
  • 2 scallions (white only, sliced as thin as possible)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lime
  • 1 T. toasted sunflower seeds
  • Tortilla chips (for serving)
  • Lime wedges (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt (for serving)

Instructions

  1. Blanche peas in boiling water for about one minute (until al dente). Drain and immediately transfer peas into a bowl of ice water.
  2. Broil one of the jalapeños until it is completely charred. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Then, remove the charred skin from the jalapeño using a paper towel or the back of a knife. Remove seeds and mince jalapeño. Set aside.
  3. Drain the peas. Reserve two tablespoons of peas for garnish and puree the remainder in your food processor along with roasted jalapeno, minced raw jalapeno, cilantro and 1/4 t. salt. Continue to process until mixture is almost smooth but still a little chunky.
  4. In a serving bowl, combine mashed avocado, scallions, lime zest, lime juice and remaining 1/2 t. salt with the pea puree. Adjust salt and lime juice as needed and garnish with fresh peas, sunflower seeds and flaky sea salt. Servie with tortilla chips and lime wedges.
Cuisine: Mexican/American | Recipe Type: Dip

Notes

The original recipe called for e small ripe avocados. I used three large ripe avocados.

6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/did-it-guacamole-with-peas

 

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Lovely Lemon Bliss Bundt Cake

 

Joseph Campbell famously wrote: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors
where there were only walls.”  Good advice but not always easy to do.

The bliss I’ve been following at the moment happens to be a cake, and it is a wonderful cake indeed. Moist. Lemony. Beautiful.

Recently, I came across this lemon bundt cake recipe on the King Arthur Flour Website. It is quite a good website if you are interested in baking. Here is the link:  Lemon Bliss Bundt Cake

This delightful cake is King Arthur Flour’s 2017 recipe for the year. Since we are only at the end of March in 2017, they must be pretty confident to declare a recipe as the 2017 winner. (But I digress.)

Incidentally, I baked this in my new Nordic Ware bundt pan. The swirling pattern is especially pretty.

I usually have a modicum of self-control when it comes to eating cake. (OK. Maybe not cheesecake!) With this lemon cake, there were no times of the day when it wasn’t tantalizing; It was a breakfast cake, a cake that was perfect to share with neighbors over a hot cup of tea, an elegant but simple dessert cake, a middle-of-the-night guilty indulgence cake. You get the picture.

Bake this cake. It is sheer bliss.

Yields 1 Cake

Lovely Lemon Bliss Bundt Cake

30 minPrep Time

1 hrCook Time

1 hr, 30 Total Time

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Ingredients

  • For the Cake
  • 16 T. (1 Cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 3 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. milk
  • Finely grated rind of 2 medium lemons
  • For the glaze
  • 1/3 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 C. granulated sugar
  • For the icing
  • 1 1/2 C. confectioners' sugar (sifted)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. To Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine butter, sugar and salt and beat to combine. Continue beating until the butter mixture is fluffy and lightened in color.
  3. Add eggs (one at a time) and beat after you add each egg. Be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl once you have added all the eggs.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk baking powder into flour. Then, add the flour and the milk to the batter. (Add one third of the flour then one third of the milk until you have added all of those ingredients.) Continue to mix until everything is well combined. You should not have any lumps in your batter but it should look rough.
  5. Add grated lemon rind.
  6. Carefully grease and flour your bundt pan.(This is very important, particularly if you have a bundt/cake pan with an intricate design.) Pour batter into the prepared pan. Level the batter with a spatula.
  7. Bake the cake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes. Insert a a cake tester or toothpick into the center of the cake to test for doneness.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert on a cooling rack.
  9. To prepare the glaze: Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a small pan. Heat briefly to combine and dissolve the sugar. Be careful just to get the mixture warm to maintain the fresh taste of the lemon juice. Brush this glaze over the cake while the cake is still hot. Don't apply glaze all at once. Let the glaze absorb into the cake before you add the next layer of glaze.
  10. To prepare the icing: Mix sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add 2-3 T. lemon juice and stir until you have a thick glaze that is just barely pourable. Drizzle the icing over the completely cool cake.
Cuisine: American | Recipe Type: Cake
6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/lovely-lemon-bliss-bundt-cake

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Guacamole: Give Peas A Chance?

Certain things in American life are understood. You don’t mess with Old Glory, for example, or the national anthem, or Texas. You don’t cut off a phalanx of Hells Angels on PCH. You don’t open wrapped candy during a performance at The South Coast Repertory Theatre. You argue with an English grammarian at your own peril. And, as it turns out, you don’t ever mess with the recipe for guacamole.

The New York Times found that out the hard way when they published a recipe for guacamole with peas on Twitter back in 2015.

You read that right. Guacamole. With. Peas.

No, really.

People from around the world waded in on that one. Even President Obama got involved. In the end, the editor of the NY Times Food Page, Sam Sifton, survived the pea guacamole brouhaha and continues to defend the recipe to this day. Sifton posted this entertaining reply to his tormentors:

Sam Sifton Replies to “Guacamolegate”

So, here is my personal contribution to the guacamole challenge. This week’s recipe is for a traditional guacamole, one that was made famous by Chef Josefina Howard at the Rosa Mexicano Restaurant in Manhattan. The recipe was published in a New York Times review of Howard’s cookbook, Rosa Mexicano. (Times food writer Florence Fabricant also reviewed Diana Kennedy’s My Mexico cookbook in the same article.)

To my taste, Howard’s guacamole is everything a guacamole should be–bright clean flavors, chunks of just-ripe avocado, the bite of fresh chile pepper and red onion pounded into paste in your authentic molcajete (or just in a boring old bowl).

Stay tuned, though. Next week, I’ll give the pea guacamole a try and post the results (and recipe) here. I’ll tell you what I think and you can give the two recipes your own taste test.

As I see it, either way, I’m a big winner. Two weeks. Two big bowls of guacamole. Life is good.

 

Yields 2 Servings

Guacamole: Give Peas A Chance?

15 minPrep Time

15 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 3 T. chopped red onion
  • 1/2 t. minced Serrano chili (or more, to taste)
  • 1 1/2 t. finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 t. salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1 small ripe tomato
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Instructions

  1. Mash 1 T. onion, fresh chile, 1/2 t. cilantro and salt in a bowl or Mexican lava stone molcajete.
  2. Squeeze the juice out of a tomato that has been cut into two halves and remove seeds. Chop the pulp. Add to the bowl with the onion mixture.
  3. Cut the ripe avocado in half. Use a sharp knife to slice the avocado of both halves lengthwise, then crosswise, cutting down to the skin, to form a grid. Scoop the avocado into the bowl with the other ingredients.
  4. Add the remaining onion and cilantro to the bowl along with the juice of 1/2 a lime and gently mix.
  5. Season with more chili and salt to taste. Garnish with extra tomato, cilantro and thinly-sliced red onion.
  6. Serve at once with tortilla chips
Cuisine: Mexican | Recipe Type: Dip

Notes

I used a jalapeño chile in my guacamole rather than a Serrano chile.

6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/guacamole-give-peas-chance

 

Here is the link to the NY Times guacamole recipe used in this post:

Rosa Mexicano Restaurant Recipe for Guacamole

 

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Brussels Sprouts Gratin

 

Brussels sprouts. Yuck!

Over the years, bitter little brussels sprouts and I have not been close. Sure, we hung out together a few times. Sure, I oogled the little green brussels in the bins at Sprouts and picked out the most handsome ones to bring home with me. I’ll admit, I even included them once at my holiday table.

But, there was just no spark between us. Ever.

I had pretty much decided to end our relationship forever when this Food52 recipe for brussels sprouts gratin came across my desk. Maple syrup? Pecans? A gratin? Maybe this could be a game changer.

I swiped right.

I know. I know. One should never-ever-never rekindle a relationship, particularly one where there has been some bitterness involved,  because you think you can change the other party for the better. But, you know, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants.

Turns out, brussels sprouts can be pretty delicious.

I served this dish to my handyman Tony yesterday at lunch (along with a bowl of the tomato basil soup that also appears in an earlier posting on this blog). Tony was doing some of the never-ending jobs that seem inevitably to come with home ownership–at least, my home ownership. He told me he had never before eaten brussels sprouts and was pretty interested in giving them a try. He confided in me that, as a child in Mexico, he used to juggle brussels sprouts as a game. He said he pretended to be a giant who was juggling cabbages. I love that image.

Tony and I both give this recipe two thumbs up.

Here is the gratin recipe:

Yields 6-8 servings

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

30 minPrep Time

35 minCook Time

1 hr, 5 Total Time

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Ingredients

  • For the gratin
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 1 C. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 T. whole-grain mustard
  • 1 t. maple syrup (grade B is best)
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • For the topping:
  • 1 C. bread crumbs (from dry bread--I used a baguette)
  • 1/2 C. chopped pecans (or more)
  • 2 T. unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 and 1/2 t. maple syrup
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 4-6 ounces gruyere cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place your oven rack in the middle position and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash and prepare your brussels sprouts. Trim off the tough stem ends, wash and discard any damaged leaves.
  3. Using the shredding blade on your food processor, thinly slice the brussels sprouts. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk broth, cream, mustard, maple syrup, salt and black pepper together. Add the brussels sprouts to the mixture. Pour this mixture into a one-quart gratin dish or a shallow baking pan in an even layer.
  5. Combine all the topping ingredients into a medium bowl. Stir this mixture until everything is well-mixed. Spread this topping mixture evenly over the top of the shredded brussels sprouts.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 35 minutes. The gratin should be golden brown when the dish is ready.
  7. Remove from oven and let dish cool on the counter. To my taste, this is best served when the gratin is only slightly warm. I was better able to taste the maple flavor.
Cuisine: French-American | Recipe Type: Gratin

Notes

I deviated from the original recipe by adding the gruyere cheese to the topping. I thought the cheese gave added flavor to the dish. Next time, though, I'm going to prepare the dish without the cheese and see how it tastes. The maple syrup flavor is a wonderful foil for the bitterness of the brussels sprouts. The flavor of the maple syrup (and the pecans) might be stronger without competition from the cheese.

The photo posted with this recipe is a photo of the gratin before it is baked.

6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/brussels-sprouts-gratin

 

The recipe in this post is adapted from one that appears on the Food52 food blog. Here is a link to that blog:

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

 

 

 

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Ravioli with Ricotta and Basil Filling

Qualcosa bolle in pentola!!!  

That’s Italian for “something boils in a saucepan”– a delightful idiom meaning “Something’s up!”

So, qualcosa bolle in pentola here in Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach’s two wild and crazy cooking divas (and a small sweet dog named Juliet)  are back in the kitchen and we’re making handmade raviolis and a piquant tomato sauce.  (My friend Sarah is the pretty lady in the foreground.)

Before we launched into our pasta-making marathon, I did a bit a Internet research about the origins of ravioli. The first site I pulled up said that the first reference to ravioli in written history was in “14th century Venus.”  ( Venus. Venice. Close. Reminded me of some of the bloopers I read in student papers when I taught history for more years than I care to admit. One of my favorites was a kid who wrote a paper about that improbable duo: “Marx and Lennon.” That one still makes me laugh. )

More reliable history (or, at least, more reliable word processing skills) confirms that ravioli was served in European kitchens in the 14th Century, both in Italy and in Northern Europe. Some food historians connect the dish to one served earlier in Arab kitchens.

My pasta search also unearthed this wonderful old photo of JFK enjoying (?) pasta in an Italian restaurant. I think the photo is a good example of pasta photography gone terribly wrong. You’ve got to wonder if JFK had to change his suit after that shot. Here is the photo. 

 

Back here in Huntington Beach, Sarah and I made an eggy pasta dough for our ravioli, using  my antique Kitchen Aid mixer, the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment and our prodigious hand kneading skills. We also used a ravioli cooking mold, a Ravioliera, that I bought at Sur La Table. (If you don’t have a ravioli mold there are ways to work around that. See the link posted below.)

 

 

While Sarah and I worked the dough for our ravioli, our conversation ranged from national politics and world affairs to neighborhood news.  Whenever the conversation veered into politics, I noticed that our dough kneeding skills improved significantly. If you are in need some serious post-election therapy, a ball of pasta dough just might get you through the hard times.

The pasta and sauce recipes we used are adapted from recipes taught at Costa Mesa’s wonderful Sur La Table Cooking School.

Also, for those of you who are visual learners (like me), here is a link from the Serious Eats blog with  clear directions on how to make homemade ravioli:

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/02/how-to-make-homemade-ravioli-recipe.html

And…here is our final product. Something was indeed boiling in the saucepan and it was delicious down to the very last drop of sauce. Buon appetito!

Serves 4

Ravioli

Homemade ravioli with ricotta and basil filling

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Ingredients

  • Pasta Dough
  • 2 1/2 C. "OO" flour
  • 1 t. fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Semolina flour (for dusting pasta and surfaces)
  • For Filling
  • Sea salt
  • 6 ounces (about 4 cups) fresh spinach
  • 2 ounces mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 T. thinly-sliced basil leaves
  • 1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For Sauce
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot (finely minced)
  • 1 medium clove of minced garlic
  • 1 twenty-eight ounce can of peeled plum tomatoes with juice (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T. minced thyme leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley and shaved parmesan for garnish

Instructions

  1. For Dough
  2. Place flour, salt, eggs and oil in the bowl of a large mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer. Mix for 30 seconds until ingredients are incorporated. (Use the paddle attachment for this purpose.) Alternatively, you can make a well in the center of your mound of flour, add the other ingredients and mix your dough by hand.
  3. When the ingredients are fully incorporated, change your mixer attachment to the dough hook. Process for several minutes with the dough hook until the dough forms a ball in the mixer bowl.
  4. Move dough onto a solid surface and knead it for approximately ten minutes until the cough becomes smooth. Wrap dough in saran wrap and let it rest for a half hour.
  5. Run your dough through your pasta machine following the manufacturer's directions for ravioli dough.
  6. Here is a good link from Serious Eats about how to make homemade ravioli:
  7. http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/02/how-to-make-homemade-ravioli-recipe.html
  8. To make the ravioli filling, briefly (30 seconds) boil fresh spinach in salted water. Then, quickly move the spinach to an ice bath. Remove spinach from ice water and squeeze out as much of the water as you can. Coarsely chop the spinach and set aside. Add mozzarella, ricotta, basil, nutmeg and black pepper to a bowl. Add the chopped spinach and stir the mixture to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  9. To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallot and garlic to the hot oil and sauté for about two minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Stir in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and thyme. Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to season.
  10. To cook the ravioli, add prepared ravioli to salted boiling water. Boil for approximately four minutes. When the ravioli float to the top, they are almost done. Use a spider or a slotted spoon to remove the ravioli from the pan. Blot with a paper towel. Plate and dollop a bit of sauce on top of the ravioli. Garnish with chopped parsley and parmesan.
Cuisine: Italian | Recipe Type: Pasta

Notes

I bought OO flour online through Amazon. It is also available at Whole Foods. In a pinch, you can substitute all purpose flour.

I used a can of Cento brand San Marzano tomatoes from Trader Joe's. To my taste, this a very good tasting tomato for all sorts of recipes.

To help seal the ravioli, I brushed some water on the edges of the lower layer of dough before sealing the packet with the top layer of dough. Alternatively, you could brush some egg whites on the dough to seal it.

6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/ravioli-ricotta-basil-filling

 

 

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

 

What’s not to love about broccoli?

First, it is not kale.  (I rest my case.)

Second…no wait! Gimme a moment. I can think of something. Really.

Love it or hate it, nobody, it seems, takes a neutral position about broccoli. In fact, there are some very interesting theories why some people hate broccoli. It is not their fault. Here is an interesting link:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/Why-we-hate-broccoli.html

Nutrition scientists don’t mince words about broccoli’s nutritional benefits either . Broccoli, they remind us, is high in fiber, vitamins C and K, iron, and potassium and has more protein than most other vegetables. On top of that, a cup of broccoli has 31 calories. Wow!

So, the next time you have an opportunity to grab a fresh bunch of broccoli, why not make  this wonderful rich soup?

This soup is touted on any number of sites as a “take” on Panera Restaurant’s broccoli cheese soup served in a bread bowl. That bread bowl concept sounds pretty good to me, but, absent a boule of bread appropriate for the occasion, I decided to serve this beautiful soup in a traditional bowl.

This soup is an adaptation of a recipe from an inspired blog named Averie Cooks. The link to the original recipe appears at the end of this post.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
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Ingredients

  • 1 T. plus 4 T. unsalted butter (divided)
  • 1 medium onion cut into small dice
  • 1 clove garlic (diced)
  • 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 C. vegetable broth
  • 2 C. half and half
  • 3 C. broccoli florets (diced into bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 large carrots peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 3/4 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika (optional or to taste)
  • 1/2 t, dry mustard powder (optional or to taste)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces of high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Sauté onion in the butter over medium heat for approximately five minutes while stirring intermittently. Onion should just be beginning to brown.
  2. Add garlic to the onion mixture and cook for about one more minute. Be careful that garlic doesn't burn. Set onion/garlic mixture aside.
  3. Using a large pan, melt 4 T. butter. Add flour and cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly. You want mixture to thicken.
  4. Slowly add vegetable broth to the butter mixture, whisking constantly. Then, slowly whisk half and half into the mixture. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened. Whisk mixture occasionally.
  5. Add chopped broccoli, carrots and onion/garlic mixture to the roux. Add salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder and optional cayenne.
  6. Simmer soup over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until it has reduced and thickened. Whisk while the soup is simmering. After simmering for 20-25 minutes, add most of the cheese. Stir until cheese has melted and is incorporated fully into the soup
  7. Garnish soup with reserved grated cheese and smoked paprika.
6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/broccoli-cheese-soup

 

Here is the link to the original recipe:

https://www.averiecooks.com/2015/01/best-broccoli-cheese-soup-better-panera-copycat.html

 

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Coconut Curried Lentil Bowl

 

I love curry.

Fragrant and spicy, every time I have a bowl of curry it  brings back wonderful food memories.

I’ve been fortunate to travel a good deal in my life–a lot of it in India. I’ve eaten curries in Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, Srinagar, Trichy and on and on–in fancy restaurants, in hole-in-the-wall establishments, and on an exquisite houseboat moored in Dal Lake.

Probably–no certainly– my favorite memory of curry was the bowl we had in the run-down Bagdogra air terminal in Siliguri, India.

We were at the end of a visit to Darjeeling’s tea plantations and Sikkim’s exotic temples and poised to fly on to the craziness that is Kolkata . But, alas, our flight out of West Bengal was delayed by torrential rains. Bummer. After an interminable wait in Bogdogra’s  no-frills terminal (trust me!), we were given a chit for a free meal in the airport’s cafeteria.

Served thali style with rice and lemon pickle and on a table covered by a piece of tatty oil cloth. the curry we were served soared– absolutely soared! (The lemon pickle was to die for, too.)

Here is a photo of the Bagdogra Airport. Somewhere inside that modest airport is an extraordinary chef!

 

I’m posting an excellent lentil curry recipe.

The original recipe appeared on the Foodess food blog and a link to the original recipe appears at the end of this post.

Yields 6 Servings

Coconut Curried Lentil Bowl

20 minPrep Time

60 minCook Time

1 hr, 20 Total Time

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Ingredients

  • 2 C. dried red lentils
  • 1/4 C. vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 T. finely grated ginger (packed)
  • 2 t. mustard seeds
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 t. cayenne
  • 2 C. diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 1 Fourteen oz. can coconut milk
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 2 T. finely chopped cilantro
  • Chopped red onion, chopped fresh tomatoes, diced avocado and chopped peanuts for garnish

Instructions

  1. Rinse red lentils and bring to a boil in a large pot of water. Once water boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until lentils are fully tender. This will take 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. While lentils are cooking, heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add chopped onion to the hot oil and cook until the onions are soft and golden. This will take about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir garlic and ginger into onion/oil mixture. Cook for one minute. Add mustard seeds, turmeric and cayenne. Cook for about two minutes. Add tomatoes, cooked lentils, shredded unsweetened coconut and coconut milk. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are finished cooking.
  4. Season with salt. Stir in cilantro.
  5. Serve garnished with chopped peanuts, cilantro, chopped red onions, diced avocado, and chopped tomatoes.
Cuisine: Indian | Recipe Type: Lentil Curry
6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/coconut-curried-lentil-bowl

 

Here is the link to the original Foodess recipe from which this recipe was adapted:

http://foodess.com/recipes/coconut-curried-lentils/#!

 

 

 

 

 

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Oatmeal Cookies and a Trash Talking Scotsman

 

Sad.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  That kind of sad.

That’s what I think has been causing my sense of self worth to crater for the last week. Those menacing dark clouds and torrential rains may have nourished my garden, but they sure tipped my mood toward melancholia.

When I’m blue, I get food cravings. Big ones. Often, it is refried beans–straight out of the can. More times than I want to admit, it’s been gorgonzola. This week’s craving has been for oatmeal cookies–a  favorite indulgence from my childhood. As a little girl, I could put away a whole package of those crisp flat oatmeal cookies that came right off the supermarket shelves.

Lest I feel guilty about my cookie indulgence,  I want to say up front: oats are good for you! I know. I know. It’s a cookie. But still.

Sages from the ages, Hippocrates and Galen among them,  have noted the healing properties inherent in oats, giving oats credit for everything from curing a cold to acting as a desiccant for the skin. More recently, scientific evidence has identified oat and oat bran consumption as an effective tool in the fight against heart disease.

Despite long-held beliefs that oats were a part of a healthy human diet, the early cultivation of oats was skewed towards feed grain for animals. In fact, until the 19th century, only the Irish and the Scots incorporated oats as a regular and significant part of their diets.

According to a publication about oats by The American Association of Cereal Chemists (Yes. There is such a group.), the consumption of oats by the Scots led to a dust up of sorts with the English. The AACC credits Sir Walter Scott with chronicling the details of that English-Scottish tiff and with uncovering what is undoubtedly history’s most famous quotation about oats. According to Scott, the renowned English writer Samuel Johnson, in a moment of puerility, described oats as “a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” Johnson’s slur drew blood in Scotland and a prominent Scottish nobleman, Lord Elibank, responded to Johnson’s insult with a bit of trash talk, replying:  “True, but where can you find such horses, where such men?” Take that, Samuel Johnson!

So, it goes to figure that it was Scottish settlers who brought oats to North America. Interestingly, because oats were believed to be a food for the infirm, most oatmeal was sold in pharmacies in those early days  Gradually, oats got a reputation as a healthy breakfast cereal for broader public consumption and was moved to the grocery aisles.

Here is a very good recipe for oatmeal cookies. It’s easy. It’s quick. There are lots of healthy oats. You’ll feel better.

Me? It’s drizzling here this morning but, sitting here with a plate of warm cookies, a steaming hot cup of tea, and a dozing sweet Juliet in my lap, I’m seeing nothing but blue skies. Life is good.

 

The original recipe appeared on the AllRecipes site. A link to that recipe appears at the end of this post.

Oatmeal Cookies

20 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 1 C. softened butter
  • 1 C. brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 1/2 C. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • 3 C. quick-cooking oats
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg is added. Add vanilla. (I used my Kitchen Aid standing mixer with its paddle attachment for this step.)
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Add this dry mixture gradually to the butter/egg mixture. Add oats and walnuts. Mix until just blended.
  4. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto the cookie sheets. Allow two inches between each cookie to allow the cookies to spread while cooking.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees F. for fifteen minutes or until cookies are beginning to turn a light brown and are firming up. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
Cuisine: American | Recipe Type: Cookies
6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/oatmeal-cookies-trash-talking-scotsman

Here is the link to the original recipe:

Excellent Oatmeal Cookies

 

 

 

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Grandma’s Sourdough Biscuits

 

After decades of procrastinating, I bought some sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. Sourdough starter is “a fermented dough retained from one baking to another,” according to their site.  For $8.95, King Arthur sent me a small plastic jar containing one ounce of their classic starter.

I fed it. (I’m a good person.)

I gave it a name. (Kellyanne.)

And I waited.

Kellyanne frothed like she was supposed to. Then, after eight hours sitting on the top of my microwave, she began to emit little gas bubbles that floated to the top of the starter batter.

Kellyanne was alive!

(I felt like Dr. Frankenstein must have felt when the monster came to life–or, at least, like Gene Wilder did.)

Then, I procrastinated again. Kellyanne languished in my refrigerator.

Whenever I opened my refrigerator, there sat Kellyanne. Guilt. I felt guilt.

So I fed her every day or two. I owed her that.

Crankily (is that a word?),  it seemed to me that I had added one more hungry creature to my seemingly-endless morning feeding ritual here in Huntington Beach. Kibble for Juliet. Bananas and Harrison’s for Moti. Pellets for the Koi. And now, flour and water for Kellyanne.

Then, in one of my late night bouts of sleeplessness, I tapped in “sourdough recipes” and there was grandma–grandma’s sourdough biscuits that is–with forty-five positive reviews. “Pollen,” who posted the recipe, cooed that her grandma “makes these every time we go over to dinner.” Bleary-eyed, I decided that, if these biscuits were good enough for Pollen and her Grandma, they might be good enough for me and Kellyanne. I pushed print.

Before I post the recipe, let me me give you a little more of Kellyanne’s bio.

King Arthur’s Flour boasts that Kellyanne is a sourdough starter “lovingly nurtured for over a century.” This piqued my interest. It’s 2017. A hundred years would put Kellyanne’s birth roughly around the time of World War I. It was a stinking war but I liked the connection. Since sourdough starter  is a marriage of local wild yeast with lactobacilli, that means my Kellyanne is a modern-day bit of time travel. Kellyanne is related to the wild yeast that was floating around when Wilson was President, Ataturk was beginning the great republican experiment in Turkey (that Erdogan is destroying), Wilfred Owen was writing “Dulce et Decorum est”  and Siegfried Sassoon was writing “Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man.” How cool is that?

Moving beyond the history…  According to the King Arthur Flour site, when sourdough starter is fed,  you make it your own. The wild yeast, a tiny fungus, here in Huntington Beach insinuates itself into my Vermont-originated starter from King Arthur and a unique new living leavening is born. So, Kellyanne is mine. The biscuits you eat at my table are unlike any you might eat even a mile away. Again, how cool is that?

So, how long has this been going on? Apparently, records of sourdough microflora date back at least to 1500 b.c. and the Ancient Egyptians. Wild beer drinkers that they were (I didn’t know that.), there was a lot of wild yeast floating around Upper Egypt. Serendipitously, some of the wild yeast from the beer settled into some flour and there you were–sourdough starter.

Here is the link to King Arthur’s Flour:

 

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/classic-fresh-sourdough-starter-1-oz

Yields 8 Biscuits

Grandma’s Sourdough Biscuits
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Ingredients

  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/3 C. butter (cold)
  • 1 C. sourdough starter

Instructions

  1. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Add cold butter and cut it into the flour mixture. Add the sourdough starter and mix until the mixture turns into a dough.
  2. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board and knead the dough a few times until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  3. Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch high round. Use a biscuit cutter to cut the dough into eight biscuits.
  4. Bake in a 425 degree F. oven for 12-15 minutes until slightly brown.
Cuisine: American | Recipe Type: Biscuits
6.8
http://bluecayenne.com/grandmas-sourdough-biscuits

Here is the link to the original recipe for Grandma’s Sourdough Biscuits:

http://www.food.com/recipe/grandmas-sourdough-biscuits-18995

 

 

 

 

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