Before I talk about the recipe I have to make a few other comments. You may be wondering why on earth this guy would be posting a recipe for soup in the middle of summer, or at least early summer. Nonetheless, it’s hot outside. Well, the answer to this is twofold…one is that it was on the menu where I work (so I had to make it), but also because I really enjoy this soup. But the less obvious reason (to most, I think) is that even though spicy food is often thought of as “warming foods” for cold weather, spicy foods originate in hot climates and are naturally eaten there. Spicy foods, in fact, act as a natural air conditioner of sorts…they make you sweat which cools you off. Spicy foods are also known to stimulate the appetite, which may be lacking during steamy weather (interesting how nature takes care of us). Anyhow, mulligatawny is a curried chicken and rice soup of British-Indian origin. It is really easy to make and really delicious (it freezes well also, in the even you make too much of it). The recipe below is a basic one; when I make it for myself I add more hot pepper or a splash of hot pepper sauce. It is, without doubt, a meal in itself.
So I have to start off with what has become a sort of mantra for my recipes on this blog…this is really easy to make and super delicious. It is so delicious, in fact, a carnivore or someone who says they do not like tofu would like this (really). It’s probably pretty good for you as well. It is great as a sandwich component or on top a salad, but it can also be eaten as is, as a sort of healthy snack.
I’ve posted this recipe before but not in quite a while. It is an excellent spring soup and can be served hot or chilled. The only variation in the recipe (there always has to be one) is that I did not include a recipe for the parsley puree. This is done easily by combining washed parsley and plain yogurt in a blender and pureeing until very smooth. And the images below illustrate how to garnish it as if it were served in a restaurant. The only tools you need are an ordinary squirt bottle and a knife. There are plenty of designs and this is a simple one. Draw lines in the soup and gently draw the tip of a pointy knife back and forth through the puree.
So a few things about this recipe. The first is that it is really delicious (really, really delicious). Another is that it–like most recipes that I post on this blog–can be tailored to suit your needs or cravings. I am not by any means a vegetarian–though I have flirted with the idea–but sometimes I simply do not want meat. The reason I mention this is that if you want to try this recipe but do want some sort of meat in it, nearly any would be suited for these strong spices, you could even add a heartier seafood such as shrimp. The vegetables them selves are–of course–interchangeable; I simply used what I had at hand. This ended up being pretty spicy, but it goes without saying that the spices can be toned down. Anyhow, this really hit the spot on a cold, cold day. And did I mention how delicious this is?
I love the flavor of curry (heck, I love the flavor of most spices in general). I love how spices look, their aroma (how they perfume the house when you cook with them), but mostly I love how they taste and that they can make even the simplest foods into something really flavorful and special. Case-in-point…Curried Split Pea Soup. I enjoy traditional split pea soup (click here for a recipe) but sometimes I don’t want the meat (mainly, ham) but still want a hearty split peas soup. So I made this version. And let me say this about it: Firstly, this is so easy to make even someone who claims not to know how to cook can make it. And secondly, this is so delicious you’ll not be able to stop eating it (I ate it for the past 3 dinners…no joke). In this recipe, which is below, I used a good quality (and spicy) curry blend which I purchased from Penzys, but often–more often than not, actually–I make my own spice blend (click here for an easy homemade curry blend). Whichever you use, this is super easy to make, nutritious, and really delicious.
There is, I believe, nothing more satisfying than a good bowl of soup and homemade bread. Okay…so maybe there is, but you’ve got to admit the combination is really good. Anyhow, believe-it-or-not, I am still harvesting vegetables from the garden in the rear of my house (yes, in October and in Western NY). I made this yesterday and ate it with a few slices of whole wheat bread (click here for multiple recipes and pics on how to make whole wheat bread). The unseasonably warm temperatures yesterday plummeted by about 30 degrees in 2 hours, and the house sure felt–and smelled–cozy with a pot of curried vegetable soup on the stove. There’s a really basic recipe below; use it more as a guide…add or subtract whatever vegetables and spices you like (or add meat as well). Some of the vegetables that I harvested and used in this recipe are pictured below as well.
This vegetable salad is so delicious it’s making my mouth water as I look at the picture; it’s also exceedingly easy to make. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer, or whatever seasonings you prefer. The recipe is below, but these are the basic steps.
Slice, chop, or shred whatever vegetables you like.
Put the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle salt over them.
Slow-cook whole garlic cloves in olive oil.
Add spices to the pan and remove from the heat.
Stir the still-hot oil-garlic-spice mixture into the vegetables
Stir in lemon juice.
Here it is in pictures, a recipe is below.
I really enjoy lentils….and I’m grateful that I do. Because not only are they super-healthy for you, they are also a great medium for all sorts of flavors and textures…and not just vegetarian recipes. Anyhow, a purveyor at work gave me a couple pounds of these lentils as a sample (pictured above)…beautiful aren’t they? I made the below soup recipe for staff lunch today…it was so good (if I do say so myself) I had a double serving. It’s also really easy to make. And while I used the above multi-colored lentils, any lentil will do…some just take longer to cook than others. The spices I used (pictured below and also listed in the recipe) are also interchangeable…add or subtract whatever suits your personal taste. And listed at the bottom of this post are a few links of other easy and delicious lentil recipes.
This recipe is so easy and delicious you’ll wonder why you don’t make it more often. It’s a classic dal recipe that can be used with shrimp–as with this recipe–chicken, lamb, beef, or vegetarian. It’s good to make a large batch of the spiced lentils because they freeze well and you’ll have them in a hurry when you’re busy and can use them as a base for other Near East recipes.. The recipe below is a basic one, and the one that I made tonight. Add more spice if you like (I added chipotle chili powder…I like it spicy). And if you are adding meat or seafood to the recipe add it appropriately…hearty meats–such as lamb or beef–should be added in the beginning and allow it to stew with the lentils, but more delicate foods–such as fish or shrimp–should be added about 5 or 10 minutes before serving; this is also when to add the peas.
Things on the bike…4lbs/1.8kgs of green and yellow split peas.
My minor confession…for the past three days, even though the streets have been snow-free, other than a few small jaunts I have relied mostly on my truck for transport. This is mostly–but not entirely–because of family gatherings outside the city. I also have not had much physical/aerobic exercise in the past few days (and have eaten a lot); I really cannot imagine living a lifestyle like this all the time…riding a bike and getting exercise, for me, is more than just about the physical aspect, it–or lack of it–effects my emotional state as well. I’ll be back on track tomorrow.
The brief story…as I was loading the split peas on the bike today it reminded me of an incident that occurred just about 20 years ago. I was riding a Raleigh at the time (click here to see it) and was carrying a loose bag of red lentils on the rear rack. At that time in my life, unlike today, I was addicted to speed; no I am not talking about the chemical drug, I am talking about going really fast on a bike. I was flying down Niagara Street on my way to work. I don’t know how fast I was going, but likely it was pretty fast. That bike is fast and I would also lean way over the handlebars to be more aerodynamic. Anyway, as I was speeding down Niagara Street a slow moving van decides to make a right turn directly in front of me, forcing me to slam on the brakes…thankfully I had just started wearing a helmet around this time. What happened next was like a slow motion action film, and though it happened 20 years ago I recall it vividly. The rear wheel came off the ground as I slammed on both the front and rear brake. Stupidly, I turned to grab the bag of red lentils (yes, my life was in danger but I was still concerned about spilling the lentils), and as I turned the front tire turned as well…bringing the bike–but not me–to an immediate stop, sort of vaulting me up and over the handlebars. I hit the pavement on my side, knocking the wind out of me (if you’ve ever had this happen you know how painful and uncomfortable that is). Now here’s the interesting part. This happened on a street corner, and I landed in front of a small group of people waiting for a metro bus. And as I lay there clutching my side and gasping for air guess who the first person to ask me if I was OK….it was a young girl, maybe 10 years old. Others did come to my rescue; maybe they were initially in shock of this guy falling directly in front of them. The van never stopped (likely didn’t even know what they did)…but I saved the lentils. And this is what I was thinking about as I loaded the split peas on the Mundo today (I pedal much slower and sit upright today).
The recipe…this recipe is actually the outcome of two holiday dinners; Thanksgiving and Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving I made this broth utilizing the leftover carcass and then froze most of it. And two days ago, after having ham at our Christmas dinner, I diluted some of the broth with water and re-simmered it with the ham bone for flavor…delicious. Split pea soup recipes are pretty standard but what’s different about this one is how I seasoned it…with a bit of chilies, curry, cumin, fennel, and tandoori spice. The recipe I made today is below.
Simmer a ham bone, which still contains a bit of meat on, it in broth or water for an hour or so. Remove the bone and strain the broth; remove any meat from the bone; dice or shred the meat and discard the bone. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot, then add a diced onion and carrot (and a stalk of celery if you have it). Cook the vegetables until they begin to brown, then add a couple cloves of minced garlic. Cook it another couple minutes and add whatever seasonings you like (I used chilies, curry, cumin, fennel, and tandoori spice), cook them in the oil for a minute then add split peas, stirring them in the oil and spices. Then add the broth (6-8 cups for every pound of split peas). Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a slow simmer. Season it with salt and pepper. Cook the soup slowly for about and hour, or until the peas are thoroughly soft and mashed. Stir the soup often to alleviate scorching. If the soup become too thick, add more broth or water. I like to make mine thick enough that–if I want–I can serve it over steamed rice for a more complete meal. This soup is even more delicious the second day, and leftovers–if there are any–freezes well. If you’d like to see a recipe for 3-bean soup using the same broth, click here.
Mmm…I love Indian food. I love how it tastes; I love how it smells; I love how it looks…and I love how it makes me feel when I eat it. I’ll be serving the dal over saffron infused basmati rice tomorrow. Easy to make, nutritious, and delicious.
This is yet another variation of chicken-and-rice that I made for my son and I for dinner tonight. All cultures seem to have their own version of chicken-and-rice and many are made using the same method but with different seasonings (and a few other ingredients, of course). In this version I used chicken wings instead of breast or thigh (doesn’t every Buffalonian have chicken wings in their freezer?); I also used brown rice instead of white. After sauteing the wings in a skillet I added curry and tandoori spice to them (hence the yellow), then I made a traditional brown rice pilaf to which I added the browned and seasoned wings (to finish their cooking as the rice cooked). Here’s the recipe (in pictures); if you’d like to see other variations of this (with pictures and printable recipes), including my favorite, click here, here, or here.
This is a very simple yet hearty and flavorful ragout. The method for a dish like this is about as simple as it gets: Saute or sweat whatever ingredients you have at hand or want to eat–meat, fish, poultry, or just vegetables–then add seasonings, liquid (broth and sometimes wine) and simmer for a while. Having made a recent trip to Penzy’s spices (and spending a tad too much money there), and lamb being my preferred red meat, I made this stew. I love to cook this type of food at home–one dish meals that are self contained and easy to clean up–to see other versions with recipes and pictures click here, here, here, or here.
Simple Tandoori-Style Chicken Breasts
Yield: 4 servings
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
4 boneless chicken breasts
Firstly I want to say that I called this a “chowder” but technically it is not; in order for a recipe to be a chowder–curried or not–it should include both a salted pork product (salt pork, bacon, or ham) and potatoes, this recipes has neither. Thus this is really a chunky version of a curried fish soup. Having that off my chest I’ll also add that this is another example of how to make a really flavorful and nutritious meal out of what is at hand, which is how I most often cook at home. After looking in my teeny apartment-sized freezer, fridge, and pantry, I came up with the ingredients for this dish (I did have to walk to the corner store for a lemon…but it was such a beautiful evening).
The recipe for this dish follows the same basic premise of most soup/stew recipes: sweat the vegetables, then add the liquid and other ingredients. What sets this recipe apart from most soups is the addition of a spice mix; I called it curry but it is really a blending of spices I had on my spice rack (including curry powder). I also included loads of garlic and ginger. The one thing I wish I had (to finish the recipe) was cilantro, which would have been added right before I removed the pot from the heat.
Curry seems to be one of those flavorings where there is no in between, meaning you either love it or you hate it; thankfully I fall into the former category. But remember, as with most recipes, the flavorings and ingredients in this one are really up to you. This would, for example, be delicious without the spices and with the addition of a little ham or bacon…or just as a vegetable soup for that matter. The options are limitless and the choices are up to you. Anyhow, this is how I made mine (in photos); if you need an actual printed recipe (not mine), click here.
It’s tiny and it’s beautiful…and I realize I was a little anticipatory by plucking it from its plant so early…I was just so surprised when I looked down and saw it hanging there. I grew it from seed…amazing. It’s the first actual vegetable (opposed to an herb) I plucked from the garden this year, except for a few meager leaves of spinach. Another month and I’ll have more than I can cook…something to look forward to. I sauteed it with an onion and added it to an omelet…and yes, it was delicious. But I think what intensified it even more was that just a mere month or so ago I pushed a teeny seed into the soil and now it’s food (and more food will come). It’s difficult for me not to be amazed (and a little humbled) by this.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
It probably comes to no surprise to readers of this blog that I like to keep things simple when I cook…I’ve learned, by trial-and-error mostly, and through years of experience, that too many flavors often (unnecessarily) complicate a dish. This is also true with technique, I think…the simpler the better in my book. Even the father of modern cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, liked to keep things simple. Supposedly one of his common quotes to aspiring cooks was faite simple, or keep (or make) it simple. His book, Le Guide Culinaire, was a major influence on me as a young culinarian, as was Le Repertoire de la Cuisine (written by one of his students) and Larousse Gastronomique (written by a colleague with a forward by Escoffier). Though I have to question whether any of these guys ever made Tilapia with Basmati Rice…probably not the most popular foods 100+ years ago. At any rate, this is how I made this dish…it really is simple and most definitely delicious.
I started by dicing the fish and marinating it in a little soy sauce and cornstarch.
While the fish was marinating I cooked some basmati rice in a little chicken broth that was seasoned with curry powder. The curry gives the rice not only a beautiful yellow hue but also a subtle fullness in flavor to the finished dish. While the rice cooked and the fish marinated I had a glass of wine and read a few pages of the book I’m currently reading (The Shack, by William P. Young…I highly recommend it).
I removed the fish to a plate and added the asparagus, along with 1/2 of a minced onion, a diced piece of green pepper that I had in the refrigerator, and a minced clove of garlic. After sauteing it for a few minutes I seasoned it with a tablespoon (or so) of Thai roasted chili paste.
I came across this chili paste a few weeks ago at The Lexington Co-op. I’ve used this brand curry paste before, and they are good but very spicy (I love spicy food, but these curry pastes are a bit much sometimes). This chili paste, on the other hand is not spicy at all, and it contains, among other things, tamarind, fish sauce, and shrimp, which adds an interesting flavor to the finished dish.
Anyhow, I then added the fish back to the skillet along with some of the rice (which was still warm) and stirred it gently (I added a small amount of water to “loosen” it a bit). And yes…it was as good as it looks (click on any picture for a closer view).
Well, Buffalo’s climate is once again living up to its reputation. We got pelted with something like a foot of snow today (judging by the news, so did much of the rest of the northeast). I was out driving in it today (yes, I do use a vehicle now and again) and at points it was near whiteout conditions…traffic would come to a halt because the farthest you could see was maybe ten feet in front of you.
Here’s a shot of my backyard, note the Chinese trike buried in snow…I won’t be riding that any time soon (to read more about the trike click here).
By this point you’d think I’d learn to use the firewood in the backyard before the snow really hit, leaving wood on the front porch for times like this. Anyhow, I had to retrieve firewood from the backyard and had to shovel not only a path to the wood, but also shovel out a small clearing so I could split a few logs.
I was craving something hearty and spicy for dinner, so I scoured my refrigerator and freezer. In addition to leftover frozen turkey and turkey stock I had plenty of vegetables to work with. I also had some kim chi, some not-quite-ready citron confit (preserved lemons), and a can of white beans.
I used a basic stewing/braising method; it’s simple and can be done with most foods. This is how I made mine: Start by dicing the vegetables (note my two pugs in the background waiting for scraps to fall).
Then I added the turkey stock, a couple preserved lemon wedges, a good scoop of kim chi, and the rest of the diced vegetables and potatoes. After simmering it for a few minutes I added the drained and rinsed white beans.
After simmering it for about twenty minutes longer, I ladled it into a bowl that I warmed over a flame (the rear of my house is cold this time of year). Not bad, I thought as I ate it…for being made out of leftovers and a few other ingredients I had on hand. It was perfect food for a cold winters evening such as this.