Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Celery root and potato latkes

I tagged this recipe when I bought my first celery root this past fall, and although I didn't make it back then, I'm glad I remembered it when I bought celery root again this week. The celery root makes these latkes really unique and flavorful, and I enjoyed them quite a bit. I suppose it is a bit late in the holiday season to be posting a latke recipe...however, I think these could be a good addition to a New Year's Eve meal.  They'd make great appetizers to go along with some beer, and would also be a nice side dish, if you're looking for something starchy. And you might as well get some fried food in before those resolutions kick in!

While these latkes are delicious on their own, I do think they'd be best with some kind of sauce or chutney as an accompaniment. The recipe suggests applesauce or sour cream, but I didn't have either of those around. I ate mine with ketchup, but that was kind of boring and didn't really complement the celery root that well. I'm thinking that a spicy apple chutney would be great. I'd love to hear any ideas you have!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indian cabbage slaw

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful holiday weekend! I certainly did, and am now enjoying the wintry weather from the comfort of my favorite couch, with a mug of hot buttered rum. As it is snowing busily outside, I decided to tell you about a recipe from a warmer place - India. This site has definitely been lacking in Indian recipes so far. I grew up with Indian food and love eating it, but don't cook it that often. One of my resolutions for the new year is to cook more Indian food, and learn to cook the South Indian dishes that my family makes.

This dish is one that I found in an Indian cookbook that my mom gave me - Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking. You might not think to look to a Betty Crocker book for authentic Indian food, but the recipes are by Raghavan Iyer, who is a well-known Indian chef, and everything I have tried has come out really great. The cookbook has recipes from all over India - this cabbage slaw is from the region of Gujarat. It's a different part of India than where my family is from, so it's not quite the food I grew up with, but it is a recipe that I turn to often when I have cabbage waiting in the fridge. The balance of sweet, spicy, and sour is just perfect in this slaw, and it works well with many different main dishes, Indian or not.

Indian cabbage slaw
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking
Serves 6-8

1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil (you can substitute some sesame oil for part of this for some extra flavor)
1/4 tsp asafetida powder (omit if you don't have it)
1 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 medium head cabbage (1 1/2 pounds) finely shredded (8 cups)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chilies, chopped (remove seeds if you are sensitive to heat)
3 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tbs freshly squeezed lime juice

Heat oil in a wok or deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add peanuts and asafetida, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add all remaining ingredients except lime juice. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until cabbage is heated through and just barely wilted. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sweet potato and black bean empanadas

This is the time of year when most food bloggers are posting recipes for cookies or other sweets. But since I've already found a winning holiday dessert recipe for this year, I'm going to do something a little different and tell you about these empanadas. They're delicious and fun, and they keep really well, which means you can enjoy the leftovers for lunch for a few days. Sure beats the usual soup or sandwich. Besides, you need something to eat between all those Christmas cookies, right?

Sweet potato and black bean empanadas
Adapted from Cooking Light, December 2010
Makes 10 empanadas, 2 empanadas make a good dinner serving

9 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour (I substituted white whole wheat flour for half of this)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbs cumin seeds
1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika
3/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Combine flour and 3/4 tsp salt in a large bowl and mix together with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine canola oil, water, vinegar, and egg. Slowly add oil mixture to flour mixture, mixing until just moist. Turn dough onto a work surface and knead until smooth. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Toast cumin seeds in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring. Grind toasted cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. In the same saucepan used for cumin, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer. Remove pan from heat. Combine cumin, paprika, chili powder, sweet potatoes, black beans, onions, garlic, cilantro, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl and mash with a fork until well combined.

Divide dough into 10 equal portions, and shape each into a ball. Working with one ball at a time (keep remaining dough covered), roll dough out into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Add 3 level tablespoons of sweet potato mixture to the center of the circle. Brush egg white around the rim of the dough, and fold dough over filling into a half moon shape. Pinch edges together to seal. Place empanadas on a large baking sheet coated with spray oil. Make 3 diagonal slashes on the top of each empanada using a sharp knife. Bake at 400 deg F until lightly browned, 16-20 minutes.

Cooked empanadas keep very well for a few days in the fridge.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Slow cooker beef stew

I finally got a chance to use the slow cooker that Andrew and I got as a wedding present. This beef stew simmered in the crockpot for several hours yesterday, and made a nice winter dinner. I hope to use the slow cooker a lot more in the upcoming cold months - I know it's a great way to cook meat, but I'm also interested in using it for vegetarian meals. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

This is a good, basic beef stew recipe, and you can modify it to your liking. Andrew suggested using red wine in place of some of the broth, which I think would add some great flavor - I'll try it next time I make the stew and will update this page when I do. Mushrooms might be another good addition, and I'm sure that there are other herb combinations that would work well here too.

Slow cooker beef stew
Adapted from this recipe
Serves 6

1 1/4 pounds cubed beef stew meat (I cut up a Delmonico and a sirloin steak)
1 tbs olive oil
4 cups beef broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 large carrots (mine were 1 1/4 lb total)
4 stalks celery (I omitted this because I didn't have celery around, but I would definitely add it next time)
4 medium potatoes (mine were 1 lb 5 oz total)
1 large onion
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp cold water
Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Special equipment: slow cooker

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy saucepan. Add beef and cook until meat is browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer beef and any accumulated juices to crockpot. Add broth, rosemary, dried parsley, and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours.

Peel carrots and cut carrots and celery into 1-inch pieces. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes, and chop onion. After meat has cooked for 2 1/2 hours, add vegetables to crockpot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tsp cold water, and stir mixture into stew. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours more.

Add salt to taste, and garnish stew with chopped fresh parsley.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Butternut squash galette

I'm finally back to blogging! Sorry that I haven't posted in a while - Andrew and I were in India for a couple weeks, and then I had to go out of town again for a conference. I probably don't need to tell you that we ate really well in India - between the home-cooked meals and a few nights eating out, we got to try cuisine from several regions of the country. Everything was sooo delicious! I'm really looking forward to cooking more Indian food at home now, so you can expect some posts on that theme in the future.

But for today, I'm going to tell you about this butternut squash galette, which would make a nice vegetarian addition to a holiday meal. Unsurprisingly, there is a very limited selection of locally grown vegetables available in Boston during the winter (maybe Three Seasons of Food would have been a better blog title?). Butternut squash is one of the few things that is still readily available, and I was determined to make a main course with it. I came across a butternut squash galette recipe that was originally published in the February 2009 issue of Gourmet, and modified it a bunch, with some inspiration from Smitten Kitchen. I was really happy with the result - the filling is nice and savory, and the crust was easy to make and shape. This was my first time making a galette, and I enjoyed the free-form nature of the crust - way easier to make than a tart or quiche. I'm looking forward to experimenting with more galette fillings in the future.