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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Amaranth Leaves Kohlrabi Coconut-Yogurt Soup

amaranth and kohlrabi recipes

Looks like I've been staying with the amaranth theme for the last few posts as I couldn't pass up the lush green bunch of amaranth leaves at the farmers market... Amaranth stems are irresistible when steamed -- almost like tender asparagus. I might have mentioned that I love saving the stems for special dishes...

And, apparently, anytime I spot kohlrabi I can't seem to walk away without picking up a bunch. From their sizable and wholesome leaves, and their thick yet tender stems, to their squat and plump bulbs, all coming together in a comically cheery package, I love everything about kohlrabi. And it's not just about their looks either. While this relative of Brassica oleracea family has shades of the infamous aroma that cabbage and broccoli are known for, kohlrabi also has a crisp pear-like crunch when raw that is perfect for slaw, and firm texture almost like potato when steamed tenderly.

This yogurt-based soup is a variation of the mor-kozhambu, a south India staple, typically served over steamed rice. The goodness of cumin and fenugreek along with the tropical staple, the coconut, makes this hearty soup a favorite with 75% of the population in the house. The other 25% will hopefully develop a taste for it soon, as it seems like the appearance is the main deterrent in this case.

amaranth and kohlrabi recipes

1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled and diced
2 cups chopped amaranth leaves and stems
1 Tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

2 cups yogurt, beaten/whipped to a smooth blend

for the soup base paste:
1 Tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1½ tsp fenugreek seeds, toasted
2 to 3 green chilies, chopped
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
½ cup dry grated coconut

  1. Grind the ingredients for the soup base into a fine paste, adding a splash of water as needed to form the paste
  2. Heat oil in a sauce pot, add the ginger, turmeric, kohlrabi and amaranth, a pinch of salt, and sauté till aromatic; then, add 2 cups of water, cover and simer till kohlrabi is fork-tender
  3. Stir in the soup base paste, adjust salt to taste, cover and simmer till flavors meld
  4. Off heat, stir in the beaten yogurt so it doesn't curdle too much
  5. Serve at room temperature or chilled

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amaranth Greens Coconut Milk Soup

amaranth greens soup

One portion of the large bunch of amaranth greens from the farmer's market became a spicy amaranth greens curry with rutabaga and beets. Another portion of it became this flavorful coconut milk-based soup as in this recipe.

Rather than the traditional Thai flavors, I went with a simple no-fuss Madras Curry Powder flavoring, something that spells comfort food for me sometimes.

Amaranth greens, bell peppers, onions, and broccoli stems made up the veggie body of the soup. Have I mentioned I love edible stems and save them diligently for such dishes as where they will shine?

Nothing much to the soup - sauté the veggies in some coconut oil, add in some curry powder, turmeric powder, and salt to taste, stir in enough water to get the veggies par-cooked; then stir in enough coconut milk and simmer till flavors meld. Off heat squeeze a half lime over the soup to add a bit of citrus-y goodness, garnish with cilantro before serving

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

A giant bunch of Amaranth greens hopped into my tote bag, all by itself, wanting to go home with me, imagining all the wonderful dishes it can become.

And so, couple of dollars gleefully jumped out of my pocket and nestled in the lady's palm at the farm stand while the amaranth leaves settled into my already brimming tote.

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

One dish is not enough to relish, and showcase, this amazing amaranth greens. High in dietary fiber with chockful of goodness like vitamin B6, folate, iron, manganese, calcium, plus cholesterol-lowering tendency and antihyperglycemic activity, I only wish it was available in the supermarkets on a regular basis instead of just the local farmers markets on and off. Most Amaranthus species are annual weeds, short-lived, and not all species are cultivated for the greens, so, understandably, they are not available year-round here. Amaranth seeds are one of my favorites as well, to boost salads and make kedgeree/kichri/porridge.

Known as Thotta Keerai or Thandu Keerai in Tamil, I remember my mom buying bundles of greens from a vendor who also knew which greens can address the heating/cooling of the body as needed, based on Ayurvedic principles. The thick but tender stems of amaranth greens remind me of tender asparagus. This is quite a staple as far as greens go in south Indian cuisine.

Some rainbow chard were ready to be clipped and used from the home garden.

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

I had some beets and rutabaga from the farmers market from last week. It seemed like a good combination for a spicy curry with a blend of South Indian and Ethiopian flavors. Ever since Ethiopian spice-mixes like Berbere, Mekelesha and Mitmita became readily available, much like the Indian spice-mixes such as Madras curry powder and Garam masala powder and Sambar powder, I have been adding them to my favorite Indian recipes. Fusion cuisine being my passion, finding equivalent substitutions from various cuisines to mix and match the flavors has been a wonderful obsession.

Nothing much to it, except for the curry paste which is non-traditional one I made up on a whim. and, managed to jot down the ingredients this time to share.

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

For the spice paste:
1 Tbsp chana dal, lightly toasted
½ Tbsp urad dal, lightly toasted
3 to 4 dry red chilies
3 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes for the intense flavor(or, use tomato paste)
1 Tbsp tamarind paste (sold as Sour Soup base mix in Asian stores)
2 Tbsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp Berbere powder (Ethiopian spice mix)
1 Tbsp Mekelesha powder (Ethiopian spice mix)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 cups chopped amaranth leaves
1 medium rutabaga diced
1 medium beetroot diced
8 or so rainbow chard, chopped
¼ cup diced onions
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste

  1. Spice paste: Combine the spice paste ingredients with a splash of water and grind to a fine paste in a blender or food processor, keep handy
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the veggies, turmeric powder, a pinch of salt and sauté
  3. Add the spice paste and sauté some more
  4. When onions turn translucent, add the amaranth leaves, just enough water to cook the veggies, cover and simmer gently, adding a splash of water as needed till veggies are fully cooked but not mushy, and the gravy thickens to make the curry
  5. Serve warm with roti or naan or plain basmati rice

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Sunday, August 06, 2017

Quelite Lamb's Quarter Leaves with Potatoes

Quelite Lamb's Quarter Leaves with Potatoes mexican greens pigweed hepatoprotective antibacterial greens

Quelite (kay-lee-thay) shown here is also known as pigweed or lamb's quarter. (Any generic greens can be referred to as quelite as well, as I understand it).

This particular weed used to be a commonplace greens my mom cooked when I was young. Known as Paruppu Keerai or Chakravarthi Keerai, Chenopodium album is not as popular as, say, spinach or kale, even though it is supposed to have hepatoprotective benefits, as well as antibacterial activity on a handful of pathogens that affect humans. Some weeds have it better than others!

All that aside, did I happen to mention that I picked up a bunch of quelite from the farmer's market when I also picked up some pipitza  and some papalo that this bubbly farmer encouraged me to munch on while I shopped at his stand?

I sifted through my childhood memories and came up with this simple dish that I used to love eating with rice and rasam.

Quelite Lamb's Quarter Leaves with Potatoes mexican greens pigweed hepatoprotective antibacterial greens

1 medium onion, diced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 to 8 ripe cherry tomatoes (any variety is fine, I had these handy in the garden)
1 bunch of quelite/lamb's quarter/pigweed, tender stem and leaves chopped, washed
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Juice of one lime
salt to taste
1 Tbsp canola oil

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, garlic, turmeric powder and a pinch of salt, sauté
  2. Add the chunks of potatoes, some water, cover and cook till potatoes are par-cooked
  3. Add the chopped quelite, tomatoes, brown sugar, salt, some more water, cover and cook till greens are tender and potatoes are fork-tender
  4. Off heat, squeeze the juice of one lime, stir well and serve warm with roti or naan, or plain brown rice

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Saturday, August 05, 2017

Papalo with Baby Romaine, Tender Mustard Greens, and Delicate Beet Greens Salad with Mayocoba Bean Dressing

Papalo with Baby Romaine, Tender Mustard Greens, and Delicate Beet Greens Salad with Mayocoba Bean Dressing

I triumphantly waved a bunch of Papalo at the other adult when I got back from the farmer's market a few weeks ago, and promptly pinched off one sprightly leaf and eagerly focused on his reaction as he nibbled. Well, I needn't have focused so hard. The anguished mastication spoke volumes. And, was supplemented by a cocked eyebrow that queried, Did you just gather a bunch of weeds off the park on your way home?


So, I started gushing about this genuine farmer I met and the Oaxacan herbs he was selling at his stand in the farmer's market, and narrated the Pipitza episode that I shared here recently. And then, I brandished the Quelite bunch, which didn't help my cause.

Papalo is an acquired taste, much like cilantro can be. It has a strong presence with citrus undertones, and can be quite overpowering. But chopped and added to a quick fresh salad, in small quantities, it brings a distinctive flavor, much like Mesclun greens with its strong/bitter leaves may not be everybody's cup of tea.

Papalo with Baby Romaine, Tender Mustard Greens, and Delicate Beet Greens Salad with Mayocoba Bean Dressing

I had some fresh baby Mustard Greens in the garden. They start out mildly sweet when you pop a few in the mouth, and then when you chew, the mildly pungent explosion is very appealing, not at all offensive.

I also had some baby beet greens in the garden. They make a fine addition to fresh salad.

Plus these gorgeous baby Romaine leaves. It is my obsession this year in my home garden. Early in the gardening season, I started saving the bottom 3 inches of Romaine hearts I bought from the store, and planting them in the garden box when it was still cool. As long as I keep picking off the young outer leaves, these Romaine bunches keep growing without much fuss. And I rather like these tender leaves in fresh summer salads.

Papalo with Baby Romaine, Tender Mustard Greens, and Delicate Beet Greens Salad with Mayocoba Bean Dressing

The dressing was a "goddess" style dressing - rich and creamy - made with mayocoba beans plus tahini and red wine vinegar and lemon juice and Tabasco sauce and Bragg Liquid Aminos and olive oil -- a little of this and a little of that till it tastes just right.

Papalo with Baby Romaine, Tender Mustard Greens, and Delicate Beet Greens Salad with Mayocoba Bean Dressing

I tend not to jot down the details of dressing and dips and vinaigrette that come about in my kitchen, especially since they are rarely planned and measured in any methodical fashion. The nice thing about having a wide selection of condiments from various cuisines is that it aids and abets my fascination with fusion cuisine. Well, the downside to not noting down the ingredients and proportions is, of course, I can never recreate the exact same magic the next time... C'est la vie!

Papalo with Baby Romaine, Tender Mustard Greens, and Delicate Beet Greens Salad with Mayocoba Bean Dressing

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Pipitza and Mayocoba Bean Hummus

Pipitza and Mayo Coba Bean Hummus pipicha chepiche oaxacan herb tarragon-like

Pipitza. Pipicha. Chepiche. It goes by a few different names, this Oaxacan herb. A Farmer's market find.

Bubbling with enthusiasm, the farmer selling these at the market picked off a whole three-finger pinch of the wispy tarragon-like tender leaves from a fresh and dewy bunch and urged me to munch right then. Which I did. And boy was I in for a pleasant surprise! It exploded with flavor, unlike any other herb I have tried straight-up.

Of course, seeing how 'adventurous' I was, he also tore off a medium-sized papalo leaf and had me imitate a ruminating goat again.

Needless to say, I came home with a bunch of Pipitza and a bunch of Papalo and a bunch of Quelite plus a big grin on my face, along with recipe ideas the bubbling farmer had shared so eagerly.

This "hummus" recipe here was not one of them that he shared, but, this came about naturally in my kitchen as it seemed like a pita and hummus kind of day.

Pipitza and Mayo Coba Bean Hummus pipicha chepiche oaxacan herb tarragon-like

Mayocoba aka Peruano beans is one of my favorites for its mild flavor and meaty body which squishes to a creamy mush when pressure-cooked.

Very much like standard Chickpeas-and-Tahini hummus, this Pipitza and Peruano/MayoCoba bean hummus follows a simple recipe. As is my wont, I didn't measure accurately, resorting to add a little of this and a little of that until my taste buds nodded in approval.

Pipitza and Mayo Coba Bean Hummus pipicha chepiche oaxacan herb tarragon-like

2 to 2½ cups cooked mayocoba beans
¼ cup tahini
6 to 8 cloves of garlic
juice of one medium lemon, plus zest
2 Tablespoon pipitza leaves, plus a teaspoon chopped finely for garnish
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (more or less)
¼ cup olive oil
salt to taste

Blend to a coarse ( or smooth!) dip, adding more of this or less of that to suit your taste, and enjoy with pita and crudités.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Home Garden Swiss Chard and Zucchini Dal

Home Garden Swiss Chard and Zucchini Dal

Dal ('dhaal') in India stands not just for the dry split pulses/grams but also for the dishes cooked using these pulses. Moong dal ("mung beans" in Asian stores) cooked with spices and veggies is a favorite accompaniment to rotis and rice.

The first home garden zucchini was ready to be harvested one weekend.

Home-garden rainbow Swiss chard leaves were crisp and sprightly as well.

The two naturally came together to make an amazingly simple yet satisfyingly sumptuous dal.

1 cup dry moong dal
1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized chunks
10-12 rainbow chard leaves, stem included, chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 medium yellow onion, diced finely
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 jalapeño, diced
1 Tbsp curry powder
salt to taste
1 lime
1 Tbsp ghee (or coconut oil)
cilantro and scallions for garnish

  1. Pressure cook the moong dal to mush; if pressure cooker is not handy, cook in a saucepan till moong dal is soft and squishy
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the onions, ginger, jalapeño, turmeric powder and a pinch of salt, sauté
  3. Add the zucchini and chard and sauté some more till zucchini is cooked 
  4. Stir in the cooked mush dal, taste and adjust flavors, cover and simmer adding a splash of water as needed 
  5. Off heat, squeeze the juice of half a lime, stir well, taste and add more lime juice as needed

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Batter-fried Rockfish with Home-grown Potatoes

Batter-fried Rockfish with Home-grown Potatoes

Not quite prolific yield as some years back, but, despite my inadvertent neglect, the bush green beans are trickling in by the handful. I stuck them in a spot where they barely get a few hours' direct sunlight each day so I am not expecting them to be bountiful this year.

Some of the home-grown potatoes were dug up as well, while they were still young, just the way I like them for a quick steam-and-sauté

Some rockfish caught in Alaska seemed perfect for batter-dipping and frying.

Corn starch plus chickpea flour with salt and paprika blended in ice cold plain soda is my favorite batter for getting a nice crisp crunch. Of course, oil temperate matters, so checking that between batches is something I am training myself to do.

Some chimichurri made with home-garden herbs served as the dip for the fish, although the kids turned up their noses and reached for the ubiquitous ketchup (no HFCS, organic!) when it came to dipping their fish and chips.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fire-roasted Eggplant Gothsu

Fire-roasted Eggplant Gothsu south Indian curry vegetraian fusion ethiopian mitmita mekelesha

Gothsu  (Gojju) is a fairly common tamarind-based fire-roasted eggplant dish in south India. As always, there is a general principle on what ingredients to be added in what proportion, but is always adjusted to each family's tastes. Some prefer a sprinkling of brown sugar to bring out the flavors  and add a mild sweetness, while others frown upon brown sugar in any of the spicy tamarind-based sambar and gothsu and other curries.

Fusion cuisine being my specialty, this dish did not confine itself to the bounds of traditional south Indian formula based on sambar powder.

Instead, Mekelesha and Mitmita spice powders from Ethiopia brought in that warmth and spiciness that gothsu is relished for.

It is rather fun to char the eggplant over open flame in my gas stove. For a blend of flavors, I went with fire-roasting some red and yellow bell peppers and pan-roasting cherry tomatoes for the recipe.

2 long Ichiban or Neon eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
10 cherry tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Mekelesha spice powder
1 tsp Mitmita spice powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

  1. Fire roast the eggplant, bell peppers, and roast the tomatoes in the oven or pan; allow to cool a little and dice finely
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, ginger, a pinch of salt, and turmeric powder; sauté
  3. When onions are translucent, add the roasted veggies, tamarind, spice powders and brown sugar, stir to combine; add a splash of water as needed, cover, and allow to simmer till flavors meld
  4. Taste and adjust flavors; garnish with scallions and cilantro
  5. Serve warm with basmati rice or naan or roti

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dolma: Stuffed Grape Leaf Snack with Brown Rice

Dolma: Stuffed Grape Leaf Snack with brown Rice

Dolmas come about often in my kitchen, but in various avatars each time. Stuffed Kohlrabi dolma, or stuffed Swiss chard dolma, and even stuffed Collard greens dolma are fun to make.

Dolma: Stuffed Grape Leaf Snack with brown Rice

Now that grape leaves are handy in the backyard, the traditional grape leaf dolmas come about on and off. Blanching the grape leaves is the first step: just dunk them in boiling water for a few minutes and then plunge them in ice water to make them pliable and ready for stuffing.

Dolma: Stuffed Grape Leaf Snack with brown Rice

The stuffing/filling, sometimes, is just leftovers that works well. And sometimes, it is tailor-made, like this time: a mix of chewy brown and wild rice with onions and dried fruits and nuts and Swiss chard from the garden.

Additionally, I steam the tightly wrapped filled dolmas; if steaming is not an option, then, place them in a pan with about half an inch of water and allow the water to boil, cover or weigh them down, and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes before serving.

I like them better as leftovers the next day, served at room temperature or chilled, with some tahini-yogurt-based dip.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Home Garden Pea Tips with Beets, Chickpeas, Potatoes

Home Garden Pea Tips with Beets, Chickpeas, Potatoes buddha bowl

Pea tips with Papaya salad is quite wholesome and I make it every once in a while in late autumn and early winter when pea tips are available in the market easily.

Pea tips themselves can be an acquired taste. The tips have to be tender, not chewy/woody/fibrous. Since I had a bunch of pea plants in the garden, ready to be retired, I went through and snipped some pea tips for sautéing.

Some marinated beets, and new potatoes from the garden, plus snap peas and spicy chickpeas rounded out the plate.

These would be perfect over some bulgur or cous cous or even some brown rice, presented as a Buddha Bowl, a hearty vegetarian fare.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fenugreek Leaves, Snap Peas, Purple Carrots, Chickpeas, Freekeh Bowl

buddha bowl vegetarian Fenugreek Leaves, Snap Peas, Purple Carrots, Chickpeas, Freekeh Bowl

Bowls! Bowls! Bowls!

What's not to love about them?

Bibimbap has always been a favorite, as is Donburi minus the raw fish.

The base doesn't have to be rice. Any combination of whole grains works. Not too long ago, bowls were so trendy. I suppose they still are.

In any case, this is a spillover from the previous recipe of  Freekeh, Pearl Millet, Wild Rice Tabbouleh. I had cooked enough of the grains to save some for later while I used some of it for the Tabbouleh. And it is these lefetover Freekeh, Pearl Millet plus Wild Rice that formed the base for this bowl.

fenugreek leaves methi

Fenugreek is an amazing plant. Tender fenugreek leaves are quite the staple in Indian cuisine. As are the fenugreek seeds, which have interesting properties including being a natural galactagogue, which I diligently indulged in during post-partum days. Dried fenugreek leaves are available in Indian stores and are quite potent, a little goes a long way, and can be added to dressing or soups. The delicate fenugreek leaves from the garden seemed like a good addition to this bowl, sautéed with a pinch of salt and olive oil.

Some snap peas from the garden were handy as well. Before I get to pick them and use them in some interesting way, the older child gobbles them right off the plant. Of course, that was the idea when I planted these peas, to serve as a preferred snack for the kids. But, there was enough left to sauté and add to this bowl.

snap peas home garden organic

Some sautéed onions is always a good addition. Plus some julienned purple and yellow carrots. And of course, spiced chickpeas. Simply cook the chickpeas and then sauté in oil with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and salt.

Bowls are just like a filling salad, so, I prefer to drizzle some dressing. This time, as always, the dressing is a quick mix of some staples in my kitchen: Tahini, Sriracha, Bragg Liquid Aminos, Mirin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Grape Molasses, Red Wine Vinegar, Lemon juice, Ginger. A little of this and a little of that till it feels right.

Topped with some nigella seeds and sesame seeds, this makes a perfect meal to pack for office lunch.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Freekeh, Pearl Millet, Wild Rice Tabbouleh

Freekeh, Pearl Millet, Wild Rice Tabbouleh

Freekeh. Young green wheat. Cracked. Toasted. Chaff and straw removed. High fiber. Whole grain. Hearty.

Pearl Millet. High fiber. High Protein. Rich in B vitamins. Whole grain.

Wild Rice. Grass grains. Native to North America. Gorgeous color. Antioxidants. High fiber. Good protein.

Naturally, the three come together often in my kitchen. Not just as a rice substitute, but as a great base for salads and the ever-popular Bowls!

Any combination of fresh shredded/grated veggies would work, of course. This time, I put my trusty Salad Shooter to good use and made a small pile of shredded/grated veggies including celery, kale, flat-leaf parsley, carrots, and red onions. Some chopped dried fruits and toasted nuts went in as well - dates, apricots, cranberries, almonds, walnuts. Some chopped green apples too. Diced cucumbers. A generous block of Feta cheese got crumbled over the salad for that unbeatable texture and flavor.

The dressing is, as always, a fusion of international flavors: Lemon juice, Ethiopian berbere powder, mirin, apple cider vinegar, grape molasses, avocado oil, and a touch of sesame oil for the finish that leads by the nose.

I know, I should have measured and noted it all down properly. Sorry about that. Will try next time. Dressings come about quite fluidly and organically for me: add a little of this, taste and wrinkle nose, add a little of that, taste and nod with faith, a little of something else, taste and call it just-right.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Home-grown Creamy Potato Salad No Mayonnaise

Home-grown Creamy Potato Salad No Mayonnaise

Potato salad is potato salad. A picnic staple. A summer essential. A carb-watcher's nightmare. Unless I can restrict myself to a small forkful.

Anyway, we had these potatoes in the backyard that were ready to be dug up. Incidentally, the potato flowers are just gorgeous. I never stopped to smell them before, but now that I did, they didn't quite smell like anything, but that's beside the point... They were vivid and perky all the same.

Home-grown Creamy Potato Salad No Mayonnaise

And, there were the potatoes themselves. Not what some would call gorgeous or elegant, but more earthy, rustic, and quite misshapen. Something a consumer with high expectations would avoid picking out and paying for at their favorite green grocer's, but something that might go home from a neighborhood Farmer's market and sit in a wicker basket for photos and provide an interesting topic for offhand chats with friends.

Home-grown Creamy Potato Salad No Mayonnaise

Now, everybody has a favorite potato salad recipe. Or two. Or three. I don't have a favorite or a standard one. Since I turn up my nose on mayonnaise, that particular staple is out. Instead, I prefer thick strained Greek yogurt with some stone ground mustard and olive oil to start off the dressing. And then, whatever is handy gets thrown in, like, chives, green onions, thyme, along with a splash of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to taste. This time I added a teaspoonful of chipotle in Adobo sauce to the dressing and was pleased with the results.

I know, I should have diligently measured and written down the recipe for the dressing, but, I am a slacker sometimes, sorry about that. As always, if you like to try this recipe, just start off with the listed ingredients and adjust to taste. I like the potato salad creamy/juicy, not too dry, somewhat overdressed.

Home-grown Creamy Potato Salad No Mayonnaise

For the dressing:
Greek yogurt
Stone ground mustard, plus Dijon and yellow mustard to taste
Chipotle in adobo sauce
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Lemon juice, plus some zest

For the salad:
steamed potatoes
boiled eggs (optional)
finely chopped celery
grated pickles
shallots or purple onions, finely minced and sauteed to prevent the onion-breath syndrome

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Salmon Curry Indian-Style with Coconut Cream

Salmon Curry Indian-Style with Coconut Cream

The very last fillet of salmon, caught by the other adult in Alaska, emphatically insisted on being served as a sublime Indian-style curry full of ambrosial flavor and heady aroma.

Curries, I can make on autopilot. Call it conditioning, call it instinct, call it self-possession... but, it seems rather unlikely to find myself bungling curries. They are the most flexible and tractable of Indian dishes with no single carved-in-stone recipe to befoul, and therefore quite forgiving when I take liberties with the tried-and-tested.

One could simply toss the chopped salmon chunks into the simmering gravy and all will be fine. But, the extra effort that adds a touch of discernible difference is to cook the salmon first on a hot cast iron skillet after gently rubbing with garam masala powder, salt, splashing some fresh lemon juice, and allowing the fish to marinate before searing it on the skillet.

Scoring the skin-on salmon fillet, and marinating as a single large piece rather than cut chunks works best for the skillet-searing, rather than worrying each individual piece to cook uniformly.

Salmon Curry Indian-Style with Coconut Cream


A splash of lemon juice and about half a teaspoon of garam masala powder mixed with a pinch of salt for marinating
A 7-inch long skin-on salmon fillet, scored to separate chunks after cooking
Chopped Vegetables: red bell pepper, onions, kale, peas, potatoes
2 Tablespoon Coconut oil
Salt to taste

For the gravy/curry sauce:
14 oz. can coconut cream

dry roast and grind to powder:
2 cardamom pods
2-inch piece of Indian cinnamon bark
2 cloves
1 teaspoon whole green (or black) peppercorns

grind to fine paste:
½ cup tomato purée
2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or cayenne pepper)

  1. Sear the salmon: Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat, add a tablespoon of coconut oil and place the scored and marinated salmon skin side down and allow to crisp a bit; then flip and cook the salmon till mostly done, it will finish cooking in the curry sauce; by now the skin will easily peel off and the chunks can be separated to individual pieces scored earlier
  2. Start the curry: heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a saucepan, add the ground paste and saute till aromatic, then add the finely ground powder of dry roasted spices, stir well till well-incorporated, season with salt to taste
  3. Simmer: Add the veggies, salmon, a scoop of water as needed, and simmer for 5 minutes or so, then, stir in the coconut cream, cover, and simmer gently over medium heat till salmon is fully cooked and the curry reduces to a creamy consistency
  4. Serve warm with brown or white basmati rice, or even naan/roti

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Salmon with Fig Chipotle Mint Sauce

Salmon with Fig Chipotle Mint Sauce

Looks like there is a theme going on here with the mint and the chipotle.

The thing is, when I open a can of chipotle in adobo sauce, I rarely manage to use up the whole can right away, and what I don't use up right away, I save for later, but don't want to refrigerate it for too long, so, the chipotle finds its way into as many dishes as I manage to make over the next few days.

A portion of the last of the skin-on Salmon fillet needed to be used up as it is nearly a year since it was last caught by the other adult and frozen safely.

Rub the non-skin side of the salmon with butter and chipotle sauce. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Place the chipotle-butter side down and cook till seared. Flip the fish so the skin side is down and cook till it gets crisp, and the salmon is cooked through and flaky.

Fig Chipotle Mint Sauce: In a blender, add a tablespoon of chipotle in adobo sauce, about 8 large mint leaves, and a tablespoon of fig preserves or fig jam, blend coarsely. Then drizzle some lemon juice and olive oil much like making an aioli till the sauce consistency is to your liking.

The sauce may not sport an alluring color, but, it sure exuded an alluring flavor, if one likes the potent combination of fig and mint and chipotle, which I do.

Fresh peapods, kale, and spring onions from the garden got sauteed and thrown onto the plate as the green bed on which the salmon is served, with a drizzling of the fig chipotle mint sauce, plus more sauce on the side.

I do tend to smother the dish with all the green stuff from the garden, which seems like a clutter in the picture... maybe next time I will take the time to compose a plate carefully instead of the quick plate-click-serve routine that I've gotten used to lately.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lingcod Fish Encrusted with Mint, Fennel, and Lemon

Lingcod Fish Encrusted with Mint, Fennel, and Lemon

Fresh mint and fennel from the garden is hard to resist. Being perennials, they come up before the weather warms up for planting basil and lemon grass.

home garden mint

Mix some salt and black pepper with softened butter and rub the fish with it. Dip in flour, dust off excess, and press into Panko seasoned breadcrumbs one one side. For the other side simply place an overlapping layer of fresh mint leaves, then press some breading on top.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet, place the mint side down and sear the fish, leaving it undisturbed till the coating sets. Then, flip over and cook till the other side is set. Then, move the skillet to a 375°F oven and finish cooking. Remove the fish and set it on the serving plate to rest while the sauce comes together.

Lemon Butter Mint Sauce: Melt some butter in the same pan, squeeze some fresh lemon juice, add some mint and fennel leaves, simmer gently. Spoon over fish before serving.

Spring onions from the garden are another treat, they make a fantastic garnish, which I can't seem to resist.

home garden spring onions

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lingcod with Chipotle Garlic Capers Sauce

Lingcod fish with Chipotle Garlic Capers Sauce recipe

Another small hunk of lingcod caught by the other adult in Alaska came in handy for this simple dish.

Sprinkle the fish with some paprika and salt, add a drop of avocado oil and rub the spices in. Dip it into a plate of flour and dust off excess. Then, press into Panko seasoned bread crumbs.

Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet, place the breaded fish and let it sear over medium high heat, leave it undisturbed for 8 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the slice. Flip and cook the other side the same way, without moving it much, till the breaded coating seals the fish.

Transfer to a 375°F oven and finish cooking till internal temperature of the thickest part is 145°F. Remove from pan and allow to rest on a plate while the sauce is getting ready.

The Chipotle Garlic Capers Sauce: In the same pan, after transferring the fish to a plate, saute some crushed garlic cloves, add some stock and chipotle in adobo sauce, simmer gently till thickened a bit. Stir in capers and spoon over the fish before serving.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chayote Squash and Wild Rice with Lentils and Quinoa Soup

Chayote Squash and Wild Rice with Lentils and Quinoa Soup

Chewy wild rice along with quinoa add texture to this thick stew-like soup, with the lentils adding body, and chayote squash giving it the slightly unorthodox edge.

I grew up eating chayote squash on a regular basis, usually in lentils-based koottu, or as coconut-based molagoottal. I like its pear-like crispness and mild bland flavor that lends itself well to be incorporated into any dish.

Add in favorite herbs from the garden as a bouquet-garni, some garlic, and some cayenne pepper and the stew comes together quite easily.

For a quicker weeknight meal, I pressure cook the wild rice and lentils in vegetable stock. Then, add in the veggies and seasoning, allow to simmer gently, and serve warm.

Kids were unimpressed by the color of the soup, they would have preferred it not so tan and brown, but, they scooped spoonfuls and enjoyed ti anyway.

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