Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Zucchini Noodle Bowl with Green Onion and Miso

Cooking with lots of different types of seasonal produce is exactly what interests me. So, when a book comes along that’s all about encouraging home cooking with healthful whole foods, there’s a very good chance I’ll like it. The Whole Foods Cookbook: 120 Delicious and Healthy Plant-Centered Recipes, of which I received a review copy, inspires nutritious cooking with unprocessed plant foods. The recipes here are created in collaboration with Chad and Derek Sarno who also wrote The Wicked Healthy Cookbook. There are tips for cooking big batches of beans and grains, suggestions for creating layers of flavor without added oils or too much additional salt, and overviews for steaming, sauteeing without oil, and grilling. The book gives you all the information you need for a fresh approach to cooking and stocking your pantry. For instance, I’m looking forward to trying the risotto. There are two different recipes in the book, one for spring and one with butternut squash for fall and winter. But, the approach for both is the same, and other variations are suggested. For these risottos rather than sauteeing rice and aromatics in butter or oil, the steps have been altered to result in a processed-oil free dish. Here, leeks or onion or other aromatics are sauteed in a dry pan, and vegetable broth is added to deglaze when the vegetables begin to brown and stick. Cooked rice is added and mixed with the vegetables, and the richness comes from a pureed cashew cream. Other interesting recipes include whole, roasted vegetables that look delicious like the Whole Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with a pureed tomato and red pepper coating and the Classic Celeriac Pot Roast that’s slow-cooked with potatoes and herbs. The guide to bowls includes options like a Citrus-Sesame-Glazed Tofu Bun Cha and a Chickpea-Nut and Broccoli Satay. There are also soups, sauces, salad dressings, dips, and sweets. I have some pears in my refrigerator that are now destined to become Riesling and Orange Poached Pears sweetened with orange juice and apricot paste instead of refined sugar. But first, I set out to make the Zucchini Noodle Bowl with Green Onion and Miso. My first instinct would normally have been to begin by adding oil to a pan to cook the vegetables, but here everything was cooked in vegetable broth with no added oil. 

To start, the big flavor of dried mushrooms was included to boost this dish. Dried shitakes were soaked in hot water while everything else was prepped. Grated fresh ginger was warmed in vegetable broth in a Dutch oven, and then miso, soy sauce, and rice vinegar were added and kept at a bare simmer. Chopped summer squash and zucchini were added to the simmering broth. Meanwhile, zucchini noodles were made with a spiralizer, green onions were chopped, and I had a pretty orange sweet pepper that I decided to add. The zucchini noodles were divided among the bowls, the rehydrated and drained shitakes were placed next to the noodles, and I added the sliced sweet pepper. The cooked squash was spooned into the bowls, and the broth was ladled over everything. Green onion, sesame seeds, and sliced hot chile garnished each serving. 

I’m delighted to report I didn’t miss the oil in this dish at all. The fresh flavors of the vegetables, the mushrooms, and the miso broth were fantastic just as they were. There are a lot of great ideas in this book that can be applied to other dishes. I love learning these little things to change up recipes I’ve been cooking the same way for years especially when the changes bring about a more healthful result.


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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Loaded Black Bean Dogs

I’ll start with a disclaimer: I’ve always been a tree hugger. I stopped eating red meat because of information I learned at an Earth Day event decades ago. I reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost. And, I’m worried about what could happen to our planet as soon as 12 years from now. Have you seen the latest climate change news? We’re currently at 1 degree Celsius warmer than Earth was during the pre-industrial era. The latest report warns that we’ll be at 1.5 C above that level in only 12 years. The article points out that a change of “both 1.5C and 2C would take humanity into uncharted and dangerous territory because they were both well above the Holocene-era range in which human civilization developed.” But the difference is “1.5C gives young people and the next generation a fighting chance of getting back to the Holocene or close to it. That is probably necessary if we want to keep shorelines where they are and preserve our coastal cities.” So, we need to act quickly to slow the warming trend. I just read an article listing five things to do now for positive change. The fifth on that list includes some lifestyle changes. And, that brings me to the book I want to tell you about today: Food Is the Solution: What to Eat to Save the World--80+ Recipes for a Greener Planet and a Healthier You of which I received a review copy. The introductory sections of the book explain in length the problems with concentrated animal feeding operations and encourage plant-based eating for the health of the planet and the individual. But, the message is to “do what works for you – what tastes good and is attainable and sustainable in your daily life.” Giving up some meat and going plant-based even occasionally is helpful. It also gives everyone an opportunity to explore a more varied diet and discover some new and different dishes you maybe hadn’t tried in the past. Following the pages of information about air, soil, and water pollution with handy charts showing water use and emissions caused by the production of different foods, comes the fun part—recipes. Rice Pudding with Coconut and Cranberries sounds perfect for fall weather, and it’s made with coconut milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. I soak and puree cashews for lots of things lately, and that’s my current preferred way to make a Caesar dressing with no egg or cheese. But, I’ve never gone that route for mac and cheese. The Cashew Cream Mac ‘N’ Cheese recipe is about to change that. I also love the idea of Creamy Basil-Chickpea Lettuce Cups with capers and cucumber. Since I jumped on the carrot dog bandwagon over the summer, I’ve had plant-based hot dogs on my mind. I couldn’t pass up the chance to try the Loaded Black Bean Dogs. 

Making the hot dogs themselves is the focus of the recipe. They’re made by pureeing cooked black beans with cilantro, olive oil, tomato paste, onion and garlic powder, smoked paprika, and nutritional yeast. Vital wheat gluten is added to bind the mixture. This was my first time using vital wheat gluten, and I had no idea how good of a job of binding it does. It’s very sticky once it becomes wet. The mixture held together perfectly. It was divided into four portions, and each was shaped into a hot dog. The dogs were wrapped in small pieces of parchment paper and then rolled in foil. The foil-wrapped dogs went into a steamer basket over simmering water and steamed for 40 minutes. After cooling, they were unwrapped and browned in olive oil in a skillet. Browning them on a grill pan would be great too. In the book, tomato and corn salsa is recommended for topping the dogs. I used some sauteed sliced sweet peppers, sliced jalapenos, avocado chunks, sprouts, and cilantro. 

Knowing that beans require a fraction of the amount of water used to produce meat and cause far less pollution from emissions made these hot dogs even more delicious. Of course, the toppings here made the hot dogs amazing, but the texture and flavor of the dogs themselves were great too. I have a lot of fun experimenting with new-to-me plant-based recipes, and the reduced environmental impact of avoiding meat is a bonus.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Angel Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich

Back when I began learning to cook, which was way before I developed an addiction to cookbooks, I realized that I needed a basic baking book. I wanted a handy guide for making muffins, pie dough, cookies, and cakes. I wanted a greatest hits of general baking recipes with straightforward instructions that didn’t overcomplicate the process. If Rose's Baking Basics: 100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos had existed then, it would have been exactly what I needed. This new book, of which I received a review copy, is perfect for a beginner baker. It’s also an excellent reference for experienced bakers who want a book with all these classics in one place along with troubleshooting tips and “Baking Pearls” for each recipe. Each chapter begins with helpful solutions for common baking issues. For instance, I didn’t know that if your cupcakes turn out too flat, you should try resting the batter for 20 minutes before baking. The “Baking Pearls” give you specific information like the importance of weighing egg yolks and whites to be sure you are using the correct amount since their size can vary more than you might think. There are also all those step-by-step photos so you can see just what each step should look like along the way. This book gives you all the tools you need to succeed with baking projects. The yellow, white, and chocolate cake recipes are each offered in sheet cake and layer cake form and then in cupcake form. The leavening differs slightly for the cupcake versions. To top it off, there are some very tempting recipes to try. The Apple Cider Cake Doughnuts baked in a doughnut pan, The Glazed Mocha Chiffon Cake, and the Chocolate Cream Pie with a chocolate crumb crust are all on my to-try list. But when I read about the Butter Biscuits, I had to start there. They’re made with hard-cooked egg yolks which was a biscuit recipe secret from James Beard. I've heard this before, and I've made cookie dough before with sieved hard-cooked egg yolks. But oddly, none of the biscuits in his Beard on Bread book are made with eggs so I don't know where the idea was first published. In the head note for this biscuit recipe, there’s a suggestion for using the biscuits for breakfast sandwiches, and I love breakfast sandwiches. If all of that wasn’t reason enough to try this recipe, there’s a side note for turning these into Angel Biscuits by adding some yeast to the dough. That was all I needed to form a plan. 

The unbaked biscuits can be stored in the freezer and baked just when needed. Or, if going the Angel Biscuit route, after the dough rises it’s then stored in the refrigerator for up to three days before being flattened, cut, and baked. Flour, baking powder, and salt were combined, and cold butter pieces were worked into the flour by hand. Hard-cooked egg yolks were pushed through a sieve and added to the flour mixture. The cooked yolks contribute to a more tender result since they mix into the dough without causing it to become gummy or possibly overworked. Cream was added next, and I added yeast as well. The dough was stirred together and left to rise for an hour and a half. Then, the covered bowl was placed in the refrigerator until ready to bake. I always get greedy when I make biscuits. I cut them into squares with a knife rather than using a biscuit cutter. I don’t want to waste any dough or have to handle it more for re-rolling. In this case, I got extra greedy because I wanted the biscuits to be wide enough to make a good breakfast sandwich. I rolled the dough a little thinner than I normally would and ended up with slightly shorter biscuits. I brushed the tops with extra cream and sprinkled on some flaky sea salt. To make the breakfast sandwiches, I made a vegetable frittata with local sun gold tomatoes and squash. I cut the frittata into squares and topped the squares with basil pesto and arugula in each biscuit. 


I loved the texture of these biscuits with the lift from the yeast and the tenderness from the hard-cooked egg yolks, and I’d love to keep trying new and different fillings in them for breakfast sandwiches. Although I started by saying this would have been the perfect book for me when I first started baking, I also think there’s always more to learn—especially with all the information packed into this book. And next, I’d really like to learn more about the Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart. 

Butter Biscuits 
BUTTER BISCUITS is excerpted from Rose's Baking Basics ©2018 by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Photography © 2018 by Matthew Septimus. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

These biscuits are exceptionally soft, tender, and velvety. The secret ingredient is from James Beard, with whom I studied fifty years ago: hard cooked egg yolk. These are the biscuits I choose when I make strawberry shortcake or cobblers (page 250). They are also wonderful for breakfast, especially sandwiched with sausage patties. They are great to have on hand in the freezer, unbaked, because they can be ready for breakfast in under a half hour.

MAKES NINE 2 1/2 INCH BY 1 1/2 INCH HIGH BISCUITS 

37 grams or 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, lightly packed 3 large eggs, hard cooked, yolks only
85 grams or 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
182 grams or 1 1/2 cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) bleached all-purpose flour 
86 grams or 3/4 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) bleached cake flour 
13.5 grams or 3 teaspoons baking powder, only an aluminum free variety
6 grams or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
50 grams or 1/4 cup sugar
174 grams or 3/4 cup (177 ml) heavy cream OR 181 grams or 3/4 cup (177 ml) buttermilk OR a combination of the two
Topping (optional):14 grams or 1 tablespoon/15 ml melted butter, cooled 
about 1 teaspoon sugar for sprinkling

-Into a small bowl, press the egg yolks through a medium-mesh strainer and cover.
- Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes.
PREHEAT THE OVEN
- Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the middle level. Set the oven at 375ºF/190ºC.
MAKE THE DOUGH 
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and cake flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and, with your fingertips, press the cubes into small pieces until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, use a stand mixer, fitted with the flat beater, on low speed to blend the butter into the flour mixture, and then proceed by hand.)
2.Add the sieved egg yolks and whisk them in to distribute evenly.
3.Stir in the cream just until the flour is moistened, the dough starts to come together, and you can form a ball with your hands. For angel biscuits, add 2 teaspoons (6.4 grams) instant yeast to the flour mixture.
4.Empty the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead it a few times until it develops a little elasticity and feels smooth. Dust the dough lightly with flour if it feels a little sticky. Pat or roll the dough into a 3/4 inch high rectangle. For angel biscuits, place the dough in a bow and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for about 1 1/2 hours. Then, refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 3 days.
SHAPE THE DOUGH
- Have ready a small dish of flour for dipping the cutter.
5.Dip the cutter into flour before each cut. Cut cleanly through the dough, lifting out the cutter without twisting it so that the edges will be free for the maximum rise; twisting the cutter compresses the edges, which keeps the biscuits from rising as high. Use up the remaining dough by re-kneading it only briefly, so it won’t become tough, and cut out more biscuits.
6.For soft sides, place the biscuits almost touching (about ¼ inch apart) on the cookie sheet. For crisp sides, place the biscuits 1 inch apart. Brush off any excess flour and, if an extra crisp top is desired, brush with the melted butter and sprinkle lightly with the sugar.
BAKE THE BISCUITS
7.Place the biscuits in the oven and raise the temperature to 400ºF/200ºC for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375ºF/190ºC and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a biscuit should read 200ºF/93ºC. If baking frozen biscuits, bake them at 375ºF/190ºC for the entire time for a total of 20 to 25 minutes.
COOL THE BISCUITS
8.Remove the biscuits from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool until just warm, top side up.
SERVE THE BISCUITS
9.Split the biscuits in half, preferably using a 3-tined fork.
STORE: Biscuits are at their best when baked shortly before eating. They can be stored, tightly covered, for up to 1 day. To reheat, it works well to cover them with a lightly moistened paper towel and heat for a few seconds in the microwave. The unbaked biscuits can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months. Bake them without thawing.


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Portobello Shawarma and Quinoa Tabouleh

I’m always drawn to the flavors of Levantine cooking and the generous use of vegetables in varied dishes. A new book starts with those flavors and adds new ingredients to open up the possibilities of this style of cuisine. The book is Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen by Rawia Bishara, and I received a review copy. Her first book, Olives, Lemons, and Za’atar, stuck more closely to traditional recipes, but this time, she explores some new directions as she does at her New York restaurant Tanoreen. What I enjoyed about this book is that it gives you freedom to roam about a bit with traditional dishes. Rather than sticking to how a dish has always been made, new discoveries are celebrated and encouraged. The recipes are still inspired by Middle Eastern cooking but with a new perspective. For instance, the Shakshuka is a green version made with tomatillos, poblanos, and summer squash. Although hummus literally translates to chickpeas, here the concept is expanded into four variations, none of which include chickpeas. And, I can’t wait to try the Avocado Hummus. The Fall Fattoush is a twist on the familiar pita bread salad made with red cabbage, radicchio, and shredded beet. There’s a vegetarian Kibbie made with potatoes and spices that’s served on a lentil stew that looks perfect for a cold, fall day. There are meat dishes too like Harissa Baked Chicken, Tanoreen Spiced Cornish Hens, and Grilled Fish Kabobs. But, I got sidetracked among all the vegetable options and had to try the Portobello Shawarma and Quinoa Tabouleh first. 

This vegan shawarma starts with chopped Portobello mushrooms and lots of spices. The chopped mushrooms were combined with black pepper, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg, chopped fresh garlic, olive oil, and white vinegar. The mixture was cooked in a heated skillet until the mushrooms were tender. I was surprised at the amount of vinegar but found that it gave the mixture just the right added flavor. The cooked mixture was intended to be served on fresh pita with sandwich toppings like cucumber, tomatoes, pickles, and tahini sauce. I went in more of an appetizer direction and served the mixture on homemade, baked pita chips, and topped it with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs. The Quinoa Tabouleh is a lot like the traditional dish only with quinoa used in place of bulgur wheat. Diced fennel is suggested along with tomatoes and cucumbers, but since that’s not in season here I used chopped yellow zucchini instead. Lots parsley, cilantro, mint, green onions, and lemon gave it the expected flavors of tabouleh. 

I always like vegetarian dishes like this Portobello Shawarma, but these mushrooms actually caught me by surprise. The spices, garlic, and vinegar gave the mushrooms incredible flavor. They would have made a fantastic sandwich filling and were a fun topping for pita chips. The tabouleh was as fresh and bright as ever but just a little different with quinoa instead of bulgur wheat. It’s inspiring to see new takes like these on traditional dishes, and the results are delicious.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Fruit Sourdough

If I were lucky enough to be visiting Melbourne, Tivoli Road Bakery is exactly the kind of place I’d want to find while out for a stroll. Michael and Pippa James’ bakery was built on their relationships with farmers and suppliers while finding the best ingredients, and it was built on excellent baking, of course. The book The Tivoli Road Baker: Recipes and Notes from a Chef Who Chose Baking, of which I received a review copy, tells the whole story. Descriptions of ingredients and suppliers are interspersed throughout the pages of recipes making clear the bakery’s goal of using the best in terms of flavor, sustainability, and cultural identity. One story highlights work being done to learn how early indigenous Australians harvested grain and made bread, and another explains the methods of a biodynamic farm. I was sold on the philosophy and then became a bigger fan as I read about the types of sourdough bread they bake. There are complete instructions for creating and maintaining a sourdough starter and step-by-step guides for each stage of dough mixing, shaping, and baking. I was intrigued by the Olive Loaf made not just with a mix of green and black olives marinated with herbs but also with tapenade incorporated into the dough. The Wholegrain Rye and Buttermilk Loaf looks delicious on its own and as the base of an open-faced, cured salmon sandwich. In fact, there’s a chapter of Sandwiches for inspiration for all the breads and Salads to go with them. There are also chapters for Viennoiserie, Pastry, Seasonal treats, and British Bakes. After mastering the Croissant Pastry, there are several recipes for using it like the incredible Morning Buns with vanilla custard. Some other recipes that I’d love to try include the jam-filled Lamington Doughnuts, the gluten-free mini Pear Almond and Brown Butter Bundt Cakes, and the loaf-pan baked Pistachio Cake. While reading the book, I pulled my sourdough starter from the refrigerator to feed it and get it ready to go to work. I had to try the Fruit Sourdough first. It’s a bread loaf with almost as much jewel-toned dried fruits as bread in each slice. 

As always with sourdough, I had to get my starter back into shape first. I store it in the refrigerator and let it go dormant between baking projects. I feed it in incrementally bigger portions for three feedings one day before I intend to use it. For this bread, the dried fruit needed to be soaked overnight before beginning. Also, all of the sourdough breads in this book begin with a starter build that’s mixed four to six hours before being added to the dough. For the fruit, golden raisins, currants, black raisins, pitted and halved dates, stemmed and quartered figs, and some ground ginger were measured and placed in a bowl. In a saucepan, a cinnamon stick, a star anise, and some water were combined. Red wine was to be added, but I used white wine instead since that seemed less wintry. The mixture was brought to a boil and then left to steep off the heat for 10 minutes. After steeping, the mixture was strained over the dried fruit, and it was left to soak overnight. The starter build was made with sourdough starter, bread flour, whole wheat flour, and water. The dough was started with bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and water and was left for the autolyse for about 30 minutes. Then, the starter build and salt were added, and the dough was mixed and left in a large bowl before the folds began. Before the first turn and fold in the bowl, the soaked fruit along with some chopped dried apricots were added. The fruit-filled dough was then turned and folded every 30 to 45 minutes a total of four times. Next, the dough was pre-shaped and left to rest for 20 minutes, and then it was shaped for the loaf pan. There are complete instructions for all of these steps in the book. I left the dough in the loaf pan in the refrigerator overnight before baking. And to bake, my preferred method for steam in the oven is to place some ice cubes in a cast iron skillet that sits on the oven floor for the first 15 minutes or so of the baking time. The loaf baked until golden and crusty on top. 


This was a somewhat wet and sticky dough that resulted in a tender crumb around all of that fruit. As noted in the book, all this bread needs for serving is a little butter. It was fruity and sweet with no added sugar, and it went perfectly with some afternoon tea. Melbourne is lucky to have this bakery that’s building strong ties in their food community, and I’m lucky to have their recipes.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Peanut Butter-Banana-Chocolate Yogurt Pops

It is August, so it’s no real surprise that it’s exceptionally hot outside. But maybe because we’d gotten lucky with comparatively milder summers for a few years, this summer has seemed really, really hot. In the middle of another triple-digit day, I have to wonder why I don’t own popsicle molds? I must have convinced myself that I wouldn’t use them very often, but right now they seem like an obvious necessity. I started pondering this kitchen tool question when I read about these yogurt pops in the July/August issue of Clean Eating magazine. They’re presented as one of three frozen breakfast pop options, and I was delighted with the ingredient list and its lack of refined sugar. They’re made with plain yogurt, natural peanut butter, cocoa powder, and a little maple syrup. I wanted to pull out the blender and get right to work. I had some paper cups that I could use to freeze the pops, and I just needed some popsicle sticks. And, that’s when I learned that I would have to go to a craft store to get popsicle sticks because the grocery stores where I looked didn’t have them. That should have been a sign that I need to just get popsicle molds. 

I pushed onward, found some sticks, readied the paper cups, and made the yogurt pops without molds. First, I toasted some unsalted organic peanuts and added salt. Next, a banana, some plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, natural peanut butter, and maple syrup were pureed in the blender. Some of the peanuts were added to the cups, and half of the mixture in the blender was poured over the peanuts in the cups. Back on the blender base, cocoa powder was added and mixed into the remaining yogurt mixture. The chocolate mixture was added to the cups, and more peanuts were sprinkled on top. Additional peanut butter is also suggested, but I skipped that and just added peanuts. I appreciated the simplicity of this recipe, but if you’d like a truly layered look it would require a little more time. To get layers, the first addition of yogurt mixture in the cups would need to be frozen until set before the chocolate mixture is added. Without that added step, you get a swirly result. Also, since I was new to popsicles, I didn’t realize the mixture needs to freeze and set a bit before you place a stick in the center of each cup, or the stick will just fall to the side. 


I feel like I learned some good lessons in the realm of popsicle science here. And, I got to enjoy some delicious frozen treats. The salty, crunchy peanuts were a delightful contrast to the ice-cold, creamy frozen yogurt, and I always love the mix of banana, chocolate, and peanut butter. What’s your opinion on whether popsicle molds are a kitchen necessity, and if you have some which kind do you recommend?


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Spicy Braised Eggplant with Everyday Okra

When I cooked these dishes a few weeks ago and posted a photo on Instagram, I mentioned that I love cooking from Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking with summer produce. There are so many great recipes that include eggplant, tomatoes, and okra that I’m still working through all the pages I’ve marked with little sticky flags. But, today I started wondering why I associate the book so much with summer produce. As I flipped through the pages again, I started getting excited for late fall and winter produce to make things like the Spicy Cauliflower Omelets and Vegetable Biryani with Cauliflower, Carrots, and Peas. I also usually enjoy comforting, slow-cooked dals more in cooler weather, and there are several good ones in the book. But for now, we have lots of local eggplant to eat. At Boggy Creak Farm, they’re growing a green variety this year called Daesene Green. They’re also growing lovely, green okra. In the book, the recipes are called Rice with Eggplant (Vangi Bhaat) and My Everyday Okra (Roz Ki Bhindi). I decided to serve the two together since I had brought home both of these stars of our local, summer vegetable options. 

First, the eggplant was cut into big chunks. I was tempted to make the pieces a little smaller, but I’m glad I followed the instructions. Given the length of time the eggplant cooks, the chunks become delightfully tender. Smaller pieces would have turned to mush. The big chunks were soaked in water while oil was heated in a large saute pan. A cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, and dried red chiles were added to the hot oil and stirred until the seeds began to pop. Onion was added next and fried for a minute. Next, the eggplant was drained and added to the pan with some salt. The eggplant was fried while stirring for about 10 minutes until well coated with the spices. Ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chile powder were added next and cooked for a couple of minutes. Then, lemon juice, tomato puree, and water were stirred into the mixture, and it was left to braise, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes. It was to be served over rice, and I used brown basmati. For the okra dish, the pods were cut into pieces and cooked in oil with minced onion. The heat was gradually decreased as the okra cooked. Ground coriander and cumin were added with chile powder, amchoor, and salt. Chopped tomatoes were added and left to cook for just a few minutes more. 


Meltingly tender is the perfect description of the eggplant in this dish. I would even call it buttery. It was addictively good. The dried chiles and chile powder gave it a nice level spiciness. Okra and tomatoes is common in the South, but this Indian version delivered a lot more flavor. These recipes made great use of summer vegetables, and now I can’t wait to revisit this book more often in cooler seasons.

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