Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thai curry

I've never really been satisfied with my thai curry... The first time I made it, years ago, I made it from green curry paste and it was quite good, but I've never really gotten it back up to that level yet. I think it's because I got lured in by curry powder, and then later started making my own spice blends, which basically amounted to curry powder anyway. Curry powder doesn't really taste like thai curry.

Using some thai curry paste recipes for inspiration, I set out to cook some of the remaining veggies I had into a tasty dish. At this I succeeded, although it is not quite there yet... I place the blame squarely on my inability to find galangal. I will have to track some down for next time. You can substitute in ginger, but it's not the same. Also, I am not going to put shrimp/anchovy/etc paste or fish sauce into it. Or garlic, for that matter, as I think I am somewhat allergic to it. Maybe I should put in some salt to make up for the lack of these things.

I rode my bike to the market this morning and picked up some tofu, ginger, and coconut milk. Whilst boiling the tofu (cut into triangles) for texture, I threw some red chilis in the food processor with ginger, lemongrass (dried, sadly), cumin, coriander, paprika, and cayenne. In spite of the skin-burning capsaisin in the chilis, they are not all that hot, and I didn't use enough cayenne to make it really hot, although I tried. Anyway, I blended that all up into a paste and sauteed it for a bit, then added onions, carrots, and water, and cooked until the onions went translucent. Then I added two cans of coconut milk, a pile of chopped bell peppers, and the tofu. At this point, I whipped up some more curry paste, because it clearly wasn't enough. I don't think there's an exact science to the proportion, but a basic guideline I can use in the future is two chilis per can of coconut milk.

I'm eating it with some jasmine rice, and enjoying it a lot. It's still not quite right, but it's the closest I've gotten in a long time. Something that worked well once in the past was to deglaze at one point with a cup or so of crisp white whine (like chardonnay) and add in some brown sugar. I think it really needs galangal and fresh lemongrass to really sparkle.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

indianish food again

We got another box from the CSA the other day... It took me a while to work up the inspiration to prepare some food, but it turned out pretty well. I sauteed some some usual-suspect spices in ghee (almost gone now) and threw in a few chopped onions and the whey from my soy-yogurt cheese experiment. To this, I added chopped potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and some frozen peas. Eventually I added more water and then a bit of peanut butter and nutritional yeast to thicken it up. I have to admit that it's not immensely flavorful in spite of having a more salt and cayenne in it than I normally would put, but it is pretty good and has a nice texture to it. Panir or lemon-marinated tofu would have been a nice addition. We're eating it over rice.

Yogurt cheese? Yogurt cheese. I made some soy yogurt as I often do, and am straining it in a sieve lined with cheese cloth. I think that for the full effect, it would need to sit for a few days, but it thickened up pretty well. After I finish dinner, I'm going to mix in some sugar, saffron, and cardamom and serve it as dessert.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

CSA, curry, salsa

Haven't posted in a long time... Did anyone notice? A lot has happened in the time since I was posting more frequently. I have been riding my bike a lot and have lost a pretty good amount of weight... About 25 pounds so far, give or take. I bid farewell to my 6 wisdom teeth, and so far I am happy that they are gone. We just ditched Planet Organics and are trying out a CSA called Two Small Farms. They sent us corn, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet red peppers (HOT), strawberrys, red onions, and spinach. Possibly some other stuff but that's what I remember.

The problem with PO was that most of the time, the food (supposedly picked less than 24 hours before delivery) was already spoiling, and the stuff that wasn't was going to soon. We couldn't just eat all the food in one day, so our interest in PO kinda waned and we ended up wasting food every week, which made us unhappy. It looks like the weekly portion from TSF will be a better size, and so far I am more impressed with the quantity. Also, we like the idea that we're supporting a few local farms. With PO, it was supposedly all local, but, well, that proved to be the case much less of the time than we'd hoped. Oh well. They're a good business and they try hard, I think, but perhaps they have moved in a direction that is not in line with our interest.

Anyway, tonight I made a curry with corn and potatoes. Boiled those both first. I sauteed onions, garam masala, star anise, and a cinnamon stick for a while cutting the corn off the cobs, occasionally adding water to the pot to soften and meld it all together. I used ghee, btw, mostly because I've got some I want to use up. I do like it's flavor, but I'm happy enough to just use olive oil, even when most people say its flavor is too distinct for a given recipe.

Anyway, I added the potatoes and corn to the pot and a few cups of water, and put it on about medium heat. I added a chopped red pepper (which is currently burning my thumb), some peanut butter, and some almond milk, and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes. It was pretty liquidy at that point, but after letting it sit for a while, whilst I made the salsa and assembled burritos from preexisting parts, it had thickened up to a nice consistency. I'm looking forward to eating it, although sadly I haven't been very hungry today and still am not*.

For the salsa, I just chopped and blended all the tomatillos, one onion, one heirloom tomato, and two chili peppers, which may have turned out to be too much. I added a bit of water to help with the blending but I think that was the wrong thing to do. It could be that simmering this whole mixture would be good, but I'm not planning to try it now... Just an idea for next time. Although I may try it, given that I can barely eat it as it is, due to its heat.

*Note: there is, however, a root beer float in my near future.