Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicken with Spinach

My favorite thing about our CSA is figuring out how to use strange/new vegetables.  This summer, we've been getting Malabar spinach with a great day of regularity.  Upon googling this leafy green, I learned a couple of things.  1)  It is not even related to spinach.  2)  If it isn't cooked long enough, it's slimy like okra when it's cut.  3)  It lends itself well to substituting for spinach in Indian recipe.

I found some recipes online using Malabar spinach, but was quickly scared away.  The ingredient list had several things I had no idea what they were.  They called for dal.  What?  I thought dal was a lentil soup.  This clearly wasn't working, so I turned to the library.  I found a cookbook called The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook by Sereena, Alexa, and Priya Kaul.

Again, this wasn't without challenges.  These sisters are Indians who emigrated to Britain.  If you've ever tried to cook from British recipes, you realize how many differences in the language there are.  All the measurements are different and you are told to preheat your oven first in celsius, then farenheit, and then gas mark.

We really enjoyed this.  We served it with saffron rice, a store bought mango chutney, and naan.  Mmm.  Most authentic Indian food I've ever cooked (and best tasty too).

This serves 4.

Murgh Aur Palak
(also known as Chicken with Spinach)
adapted from The Three Sisters Indian cookbook

1 lb spinach leaves or as much as malabar spinach as you have
3 T oil
1/4 t cumin seeds
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 t ginger
1 t coriander
1 t ground fennel
1/4 t cumin
1 t chili
1/2 t garam masala
2 T tomato paste
1 c water
salt to taste

Wash and drain the spinach.  Cut into medium sized pieces.  Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the spinach leaves and a dash of salt.  Cook until spinach has wilted and has lost its slime (if using malabar spinach).  Remove from pan and set aside.  Heat remaining 2 T oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add the cumin seeds and saute until the seeds begin to sizzle.  Add the chicken pieces.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and golden brown.  Remove pan from heat and add ginger, coriander, fennel, cumin, chili, and garam masala.  Return to heat and stir in tomato paste.  Fry for one minute, then add water.  Cover and cook for another 10 minutes, until chicken is tender.  Add the spinach (and any remaining liquid) and cook for 5 more minutes.

Serve with rice (saffron rice if you have the time).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thai Turkey Burgers

Just a quick disclaimer.  I loathe turkey burger.  It's more or less bland and lacks personality.  However, fish sauce fixes everything (more on that on another post).  Get over your fear of turkey burger and make these tonight.  Everyone in my family loved these.

Serves 4 or 5

Thai Turkey Burgers
adapted from Food and Wine

1/4 c onion
2 T cilantro
2 1/4-inch-thick slices of peeled, fresh ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded, and stemmed (optional--too spicy for my fam)
1 1/2 T fish sauce (nuoc mam or nuoc pla)
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1/4 c mayo
1 t Sriracha or chili garlic sauce (we prefer the chili garlic sauce)
4 or 5 hamburger buns (or brioche/kaiser rolls if you want fancier)
bread and butter pickles
mint leaves

In a food processor, pulse the onion, cilantro, ginger, and jalapeno (if using) with the fish sauce until chopped (you can also do this by hand--I've done it both ways with good results).  Transfer into a bowl and knead into the turkey.  Gently pat the turkey mixture into four or five patties (we did five because that was how many we needed), about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.

Light a grill.  Brush the burgers gently with oil and grill over moderately high heat.  A warning:  these burgers want to fall apart.  Treat them quite gently to avoid this.  Grill, flipping once, until golden, crusty, and just cooked through, about 8 - 10 minutes.  While the burgers grill, also brush the rolls lightly with oil or butter and grill to just to toast.

Meanwhile, combine the mayo and the Sriracha/hot sauce.

To serve:  Brush the buns with the mayo hot sauce, if desired.  Top with burgers, pickles, lettuce, and mint if desired.  (You could also use thinly sliced jalapenos if you didn't add those to the burgers.)  Or, if your children are like mine, just top with ketchup and mustard.  :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Red Cabbage Salad with Fennel and Orange

Yes, I have somewhat abandoned this blog.  Sad I know.  However, I've been pulled back, mostly by myself because I realized that I am not going to be able to remember where I've found some of these great recipes I've been making in the past 6 months and have loved.  Thus, some pared down posts.  I'll apologize now for the lack of pictures, however, there will be recipes again.  Somehow, as my kids get older and more independent I am not being granted copious amounts of time to cook, take pictures, and blog.  Or maybe I am granted that time, I am just spending it in other ways.  :)

The pumpkin seeds are great to snack, consider making double and keeping some around just to eat.  :)

Serves 4 - 6 as a side, easily

Red Cabbage Salad with Fennel, Orange, and Pepitas
adapted a bit from Food and Wine

1 c raw pumpkin seeds
1 T tamari or regular soy sauce
2 T olive oil
1/2 T lemon zest, grated
2 T lemon juice
2 nice, juicy oranges
3/4 lb red cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (optional, however if you can find it, use it!!)
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

Spread the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheets (half jelly roll pan--with sides) and bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 7 minutes or until golden brown.  Drizzle with tamari/soy sauce and bake for 3 more minutes, until the seeds area crisp.  Set aside.

Working over a bowl, cut the peel off the orange, making sure to get all of the white pith.  Gently slide the knife in between the sections of the orange to release the fruit (without the tough membranes).  This gets messy so work over a bowl and save all that wonderful juice for the salad.  Cut the released fruit into small, bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, toss together the orange pieces and juice, cabbage, fennel, if using, and the cilantro.  In a small jar, vigorously shake together the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Pour over the cabbage mixture and toss gently.  Immediately before serving liberally sprinkle with the roasted pumpkin seeds.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.