Every now and then (especially after I get back from traveling), I just don’t have the produce I need to make a full meal. Luckily, I keep an assortment of sauces, stocks, and gravies in my freezer for these occasions! I normally make karela with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. But, since I had none of these in my kitchen, I decided to use a Coconut-Tamarind Gravy instead (it has onions, garlic, tomatoes and much more!).
This recipe is one of my staples. I love the tartness of the tamarind, the creaminess of the cashews, and the tropical feel of the coconut. I’m posting this as it’s own recipe because it really is worth making a double batch and keeping it on hand for a quick meal. You can add this gravy to fully cooked veggies and it makes them so much more satisfying! I like to go on the drier side when i use it in dishes, but you can thin it out with a little water when you add it to veggies to make it more saucy.
A few weeks ago, I made this Apple, Fennel, Manchego Salad. I used the fennel bulb in the salad, but was left with a whole cup of fronds. I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing them away, so I thought I’d stick them in vodka and see what happens. It’s delicious! It has a light, fresh taste and the pale green is so summery- it’s perfect for this weather! Today, I added a spoonful to sparkling water and it was really refreshing. Next, I plan on playing with a fennel-cucumber drink… stay tuned!
I was traveling for work the last few weeks and totally in withdrawal from not being able to cook. Luckily, my Hungry Harvest box this week had some awesome fresh ingredients like yellow squash, tomatoes, cilantro, and green bell peppers. They looked so tender and colorful, that I wanted to use them as soon as possible. To make the dish more balanced and filling, I added edamame and soya flour chunks (Nutrela).
In this unbelievably hot weather, we were in the mood for something tart and refreshing. Homemade sorbets are amazing because you can taste the freshness. As a bonus, you can also control the sweetness (I often find store sorbet too sweet). This kiwi basil sorbet really hit the spot in 90+ degree weather! I left the seeds in for the crunch and because it looks pretty, but if you want a smooth sorbet, you can strain them out.
Last week’s Hungry Harvest box contained a ton of zucchini. After using some to make a Veggie Lentil Loaf, I still had two zucchini left to use, so I made these cute savory zucchini cakes. They are so simple to make, and the best part is that they freeze well so it makes the perfect after work snack! Being a Marylander, I couldn’t resist using Old Bay to flavor them. You can also pan fry them, but I bake to keep things healthier.
My Hungry Harvest produce box this week came with 1 pound of watermelon radishes. If you haven’t had them before, they are tons of fun. The outside looks so boring- usually white or pale green, but then you slice it open and see bright pink/red! I find the taste is mildly peppery and slightly sweet. I usually just slice them thinly and put a little salt, pepper, and sometimes even butter for a fun snack. This time though, I wanted to make the 1 pound last for a while, so I pickled it. This pickle is great on a cheese board, in sandwiches, mixed into salads, or even just to munch on. I used a spiraler to get thin slices, but you can also just cut them by hand into thin slices.
One of the best things about getting fresh produce boxes is the surprise of finding what is inside and thinking of how to combine them in new ways. My food box this week contained a ton of fresh thyme and a pound of rainbow carrots so I decided to make some savory roasted carrots to use in dishes throughout the week.
Moussaka is a Greek dish that involves eggplant, potatoes, a tomato-based sauce, and sometimes a white sauce on top. Beyond that, it seems like everywhere that I’ve had moussaka, it tastes completely different. So I figured if anything goes, I may as well work on my own version. To keep it healthy, I grill the veggies instead of frying them. I like tasting all the veggies individually, so I cut them on the thicker side and do two layers of them. I also like multiple textures, so I use eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes. For a slightly Indian twist, I add red lentils (masoor daal) to the sauce to give it more body and protein (and it becomes a complete meal for me).
It does take a lot of time to prepare because there are multiple components, but the good news is that you can do most of it ahead of time. Actually, I prefer to make it the day before to let all the flavors meld ans let the layers settle down. The day of serving, I pull it out so it comes to room temperature and then bake is as described below.
This is an easy soup that has lots of flavor and really lets the ingredients shine. That being said, use good quality, fresh produce- it makes all the difference! If you are short on time, you can roast the veggies ahead of time and blend it later. The photo shows the soup topped with my attempt at a basil foam, but usually I just top it with basil ribbons.
Pumpkins seeds are possibly the best by-product of pumpkin season. For a little bit of extra work, you’ll seriously reconsider throwing away the seeds next time you carve/eat a pumpkin. The recipe below is a mix of techniques I’ve read on the internet, numerous discussions with friends about roasting seeds, and playing around all season. And, yes… sometimes I buy pumpkins solely for the seeds. =) Don’t worry- the squirrels are welcome to the pumpkin flesh.
Why did I ever buy pumpkin pie spice when it is this easy to make?!?! I ran out today as I was making some muffins. After panicking for a minute, I realized that I had all the spices that go in to pumpkin pie spice at home. So I played with mixing the spices in varying proportions (it was very scientific!). The recipe below is what I settled on. I listed everything in teaspoons so it is easy to scale up if you want to make a larger batch.
As promised in the last post, I’m posting one of the salad combinations that I really like using the espresso vinaigrette. I used seckle pears since they are in season right now, but I think whichever pear you like would taste good.
I made this dressing for my dad’s birthday a few days ago (you’ll be seeing a few more posts from that dinner soon). I wanted to make something with coffee since he loves it. Since this was my first time making this, I kept adding ingredients and changing quantities till I got a taste I liked- meaning I ended up with a lot of extra dressing- I’ve made a few different salads with it, and will post my favorite next: Pear Cocoa Nib Salad. The dressing has just a hint of espresso, so it actually is more versatile than you’d imagine. I normally use honey in dressing, but used sugar in this one because honey was interfering with the espresso taste.
I’ve been playing with a recipe for spicy nuts for a while now, and finally settled on this. I tried various combinations of spices and peppers, but ended up settling on one of the simplest ones… sriracha and lime with a little extra kick, courtesy of smoked paprika. While these are not as spicy as I was envisioning, they pack a lot of flavor so I’m happy munching on them.
We were talking about non-dairy milks at dinner last night, and hazelnut milk came up. I don’t know how I never thought of making this before! I made three small batches today to test different proportions and additions, and loved the recipe below. Toasting it really brings out a different flavor, which felt richer to me. I also added a small bit of chocolate to one batch and it tasted like a Nutella drink. You can also add sugar if you want, but I prefer it unsweetened. However, the recipe below is more versatile, so I’m posting the plain version.
Ever get that craving for just bread and butter? I don’t eat much bread now, but every so often, I really just want bakery-fresh bread with a layer of butter. Today was one of those days. Sadly, I didn’t have the foresight to take the butter out of the fridge before going to the bakery… and I wasn’t willing to wait. The recipe below is a twist on whipped butter. Only 3 ingredients, but each of them matter. I start with unsalted butter, so I can add salt to taste. I like the slight mineral taste of pink Himalayan salt, so I used that- but you can use any salt you want and adjust the quantity to suit your taste. I also added olive oil so that it wouldn’t harden completely when I put it back in the fridge (oil doesn’t become solid when cold). I love the taste of olive oil, so I used a good quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. If you’re not a fan of the taste, you can always use a milder olive oil.
Summer = grilling! So why shouldn’t that extend to salads? It’s amazing how something as simple as grilling can change an entire dish. This recipe is centered around dressing up grilled romaine hearts. But really, it’s just to give you ideas… play with the dressing, cheeses, nuts, and other toppings! I like the thinner dressings like the one below since it soaks into the romaine between the leaves. The picture shows one romaine heart plain, and one dressed up with blue cheese and pecans.
We had an ice cream party at work this week, and the forecast for the week was in the 90s… totally put me in the mood for pina coladas and pain killers! The sorbet below started out as a pina colada sorbet with just pineapple and coconut. But, somehow, it morphed towards a pain killer as I kept adding/adjusting ingredients. I love how the final sorbet came out- a slight kick of ginger with a creamy ice cream-like texture. I will definitely be making it again this summer!
Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer soups- straight from farmer’s market treasures! I’ve seen and tasted so many different gazpacho recipes over the years, and one thing that hits me is how forgiving they are. The recipe below is a general guide, but you can vary the ingredients based on what’s fresh and available. How can you not get hooked on a recipe that’s this quick and easy and light!? =)
My breakfast for the week. I’m considering it relatively healthy since it has whole wheat flour, nut flour, and nuts. These can be modified to be vegan by replacing the milk with almond or coconut milk- both taste great with slight differences in flavor.
I made this green chutney for Mother’s Day since it was gorgeous weather outside and we decided to grill. The flavors are so light and fresh that I love it in sandwiches, wraps, with roasted veggies, as a soup garnish… pretty much anything summery. It’s also very versatile: thin it out with water to make a dressing, mix it into yogurt to make a dip, whisk it with olive oil to make a pasta salad. It also gets bonus points for freezing well. It’s amazing how a chutney so healthy and easy to make can be sooooo good!
I love making these cookies because you can make them for any occasion by changing the shape in the middle. Plus, they look really pretty with the dusting of sugar on top. I tend to go light on the sugar dusting because I like the speckled look. I made similar cookies a few years ago (Almond Jam Cookies), but I’ve been playing with how to make them with less white flour and eggless so everyone in my family can eat them.
This jam came into creation because I really dislike ketchup. It’s sweet and doesn’t taste like tomato to me. I’ve made a more than a few batches of the tomato jam, varying the spices and sugars, until I settled on the recipe below. You can definitely make a smaller batch and keep it in the fridge if you don’t want to go through the whole canning process. I really like this jam as a spread (especially with cream cheese), as a topping for soups, spread on cheese or roasted veggies, and many other ways… It’s not ketchup, but I’ll actually eat this! =)
For onion lovers!!! This takes the bite out of onions, and results in a sweetish, melty, multi-purpose onion spread. Since this recipe does take a long time to cook down, I make a large batch at a time and then use it in all kinds of things- pizza, soup, sandwiches, mixed into dips, on veggies… sky’s the limit! The picture above has two of my favorite spreads on brie- caramelized onions (left) and tomato jam (right- recipe coming soon).
Think of pastel-colored after dinner mints that melt in your mouth… Then, think of Thin Mint cookies or Andes mints… Now smash them together! It took me a few tries, but I finally got these candies to be chocolaty, minty, and melt-in-your-mouthy! And the real treat is that they are super easy to make. =)
These cookies are based on the absolutely delicious World Peace Cookies, which I highly recommend trying. I loved those cookies, but was in the mood for an espresso flavored cookie. I’ve been trying to work the espresso flavor in to a cookie for ages, and the structure of this cookie was perfect for it. I tend to make these cookies small since no matter what size they are, I always have more than one…
Ghee, sometimes called clarified butter, is a staple in Indian cooking. It has a very distinct taste, and a much higher smoke point than oil, so it’s useful in all kinds of dishes. I’ve made ghee over the years the traditional way, which is to bring butter to a boil in a pot over direct heat and let it simmer “till it’s done.” Essentially, until the fat separates from the milk solids. Then you strain it through a cheesecloth so that you’re left with the clear ghee. Sadly, it often yielded mixed results for me. I’ve burned the butter, which is an awful smell… I’ve under-cooked it and the solids didn’t separate enough…. I’ve struggled with cleaning the pot, the cheesecloth, and everything else that comes in contact with pure fat! Until now!!! Although this isn’t a “recipe,” it is a technique I feel is worth sharing. It really simplifies the process (and clean-up), and while it’s not exactly the same end result, it’s close enough that I actually want to make it at home! The only challenge is finding the right sized equipment in your kitchen.