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Posts Tagged ‘spicy

Hi, all.

I’ve been gone for a while… between mentally decompressing, and dealing with an overuse problem in my right hand/thumb (from too much typing, piano playing, cooking, cleaning… I’m trying to get myself to slow down and just read, but it just ain’t happening often enough). I asked my acupuncturist yesterday to give me a few needles for my thumb, which I’d overworked to the point of losing motor control, and he said… well, just don’t use your hand for a while… (Duh, right? I was hoping for the magic bullet. Don’t we all?)

But I can’t be gone for too long, and I just (literally just) made a fantastic culinary discovery that I had to share! I have to thank Indian cookbook author Monica Bhide for inspiring me to try this… because it was amazing, and it worked so well!

Have you ever had those crispy wafers (pappads) at the beginning of a meal at an Indian restaurant? You’ve probably had a bright green, spicy dipping sauce that goes with it–this is coriander (or, cilantro) mint chutney. I made some recently… and had a lot left over after cooking up my pappads that I bought from the Indian market.

First, I used some in a frittata. (that was good.)

And just a moment ago, I took Monica’s suggestion to put some on toast. Eh, why don’t I just give you a few recipes…..

Coriander-Mint Chutney
from various

1 c fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
1-2 serrano chiles, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp white sugar (to taste)
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until a thin paste. You may need to add water to achieve the proper texture. I had to scrape down the sides a lot.

**So, once you’ve made the chutney, feel free to use it in a frittata with spinach and onions (that was good, too), or use it on toast…

Coriander Mint Chutney on Toast
adapted from The Spice Is Right (Monica Bhide)

2 slices whole grain bread
butter or butter substitute (salted)
1-2 tbsp coriander mint chutney

1. Toast bread.

2. Spread bread with thin layer of butter. (Allowing it to melt works best.)

3. Spread buttered toast with 1-2 tsp chutney per slice (depending on your taste and/or size of bread). Serves 1-2 — up to you!

This would also be fun cut into smaller pieces as a party appetizer!

I’m thinking this might feature in my Indian Thanksgiving menu. Yeah, I’m cooking a bunch of Indian dishes this year–it’s just the two of us, and we’re not huge turkey fans, so why not experiment? It’ll be good!

Well, I’d better get back to the doctor’s orders, but if you have anything really out of the ordinary going on for Thanksgiving, I’d love to hear about it! Happy weekend!

Hey, gang!

Hope everything’s well! My theme of the day (week?) is gratefulness. My body has been through so much the past 18 months or so… including two major hip surgeries (the first one didn’t go so well). No one really knew how I was going to recover, but I was given the green light to do anything, as long as it didn’t hurt beyond the usual residual soreness.

Guess what–this former marathoner has been RUNNING for the past two weeks!

(OK, so right now, my definition of “run” is “walk 3 minutes, run 2 minutes, repeat to total 30 minutes”–and it’s really hard for me–but after so much time away from running, this is my way to build back up.)

I am so GRATEFUL that my body is able to do this! I had no idea if running was ever going to be an option again. I’m taking it slowly and not jumping ahead toward marathons yet–thinking of 5K’s in my future, in case my body isn’t up for distance–but I’m just happy to be moving the pavement under my feet.

Here are some interesting tidbits for this week!

1. Ah, how stalking has changed.

2. Oh boy. What our pets do while we’re away.

3. Fruit salsa with homemade cinnamon chips–great healthy recipe for a party (or…. to mosh the whole thing by yourself)! I’d love to try this with regular salty chips, too, since I love sweet/savory combos.

4. It’s getting to be that time of year–how about some homemade pumpkin butter?

5. Have you tried oven-roasted chickpeas? If not… you’re missing out. Cheap, easy, healthy snack! Here’s a recipe for an Indian-spiced variety of chickpeas.

Have a great rest of the week! I’d love to hear what all of you are grateful for! It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of our day-to-day lives–let’s think of things to be thankful of in the grand scheme of things!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Before I give you my address for sending gifts, though, just a quick recipe for the week (and then, I have to get myself out celebrating). I’d heard about people making their own mustard, and thought… naaaahhh, too complex. Can’t do it.

But then, I talked to a few people, who convinced me. I also read a few recipes, and they sounded simple. Low risk recipe… so I did it. And here it is, for all of you. You won’t get the smoothness of a squirty yellow mustard, but this is so much more delicious!

Homemade Mustard
adapted from How To Cook Everything

1/4 c yellow mustard seeds
1/4 c brown or black mustard seeds (be sure not to use all yellow–too harsh otherwise)
1/2 c red wine or water (I used water)
1/2 c vinegar (any vinegar with at least 5% acidity–I used half red wine and half balsamic)
Pinch salt

1. Put all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or other sealed container. (Don’t use metal; it will corrode.) Shake or stir, then set aside to soak for a day or two.

2. Put the mixture in a blender and puree for several minutes to grind, adding a little extra water as needed to keep the machine running. Stop and scrape the sides down once or twice and repeat. You can control the coarseness by how long you blend (it’ll never get completely smooth). Taste and add more salt, if you’d like.

3. Return the mustard to the container and cover tightly. Store in a cool, dark place (or refrigerator) for up to several months.

**Other things to add to the mustard (individually or together): of course you can change the vinegar variety (I think rice vinegar is the only one not acidic enough), 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary, 2 tbsp honey, 2-3 mashed cloves of roasted garlic… lots of different options…

I’ve used this mustard as a pretzel dip, in salad dressings, in potato salad, on sandwiches… really, anywhere you’d use mustard! But now, you have bragging rights. Tell your friends that you made this mustard. They’ll think you’re all gourmet and stuff. Don’t let on how easy it is, okay?

I’m not foolin’ ya… this is an awesome recipe!!!

I will never, ever use the canned or bottled stuff again after this past Wednesday! Easy, just a little bit of prep, I promise! And it tastes soooo good.

Unfortunately I was in a hurry making chicken enchiladas and didn’t snap a pic in time for y’all–but trust that it was a lovely rich orange-red shade. I can’t even find a stock photo gorgeous enough to convey the deliciousness…

This recipe was loosely based off of one from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World, but I tweaked it quite a bit. Feel free to change up the spice mix, or make it milder/spicier to your desires. Make it your sauce!

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

3 tbsp vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can Mexican-style diced tomatoes (such as Rotel-brand)
2 (or more, or less–depending on your tastes) dried mild New Mexico chiles, seeded and stemmed, and coarsely chopped
2 tsp cumin (or a tad more, if you’re me)
Up to 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil on medium in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. (Watch the garlic, so it doesn’t burn!) Add the two cans of tomatoes (including the juice) and the pieces of dried chile. Cook another 5 minutes, or until chile is softened.

2. Add cumin and stir to combine. Take off heat, and let cool a few minutes.

3. When the sauce has reached a manageable temperature, place the whole thing in a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to add chicken or veggie broth to reach your desired consistency (I like it to be a pourable slurry), but I didn’t need any broth when I made this on Wednesday. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Put it on…well, enchiladas! (duh.) If you are putting shredded meat in the filling, moisten the filling with the sauce. Great flavor! This might also be a good mix-in for a Mexican frittata or scramble (but just a tbsp or two for flavor, so your eggs hold together).

I found this to have a medium-ish kick when I tasted it by itself, but when I put it on enchiladas, the zing got really diluted. So if you like your heat, overexaggerate and don’t fear the bold!

Speaking of being bold, do you guys remember what I wrote about yesterday? Don’t forget, you guys can help me reach a fundraising goal (yikes!) without even donating anything! Just spread the word about this blog and get me more readers! I promise–more recipes, better jokes, more drama than a Jerry Springer episode… (ok, maybe I won’t stoop that low!)

Happy April Fools’ Day! Have you seen any good pranks today?

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Salads usually aren’t the first thing to come to mind in chilly weather, right? But we gotta get our veggies in us, somehow! This recipe heats things up with a little bit of chile to toast you from the inside.

I’ve always made this with bok choy, and it’s been fantastic. The cookbook author says that it’s fine to use thin-sliced fennel, carrots, snow peas, or red onions instead (or probably some combination thereof, as well). Might be nice to mix up the color!

In any case, this goes together quickly, and it’s full of flavor.

Hot-and-Sour Slaw
from Vegetarian Planet

1 bunch bok choy (about 2 pounds), both stems and leaves, sliced thin
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced very thin
4 scallions, both green and white parts, chopped fine
2 tsp chile paste, or 1 tbsp hot chile sauce, or ½ tsp chile flakes
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ c apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola or corn oil
Chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Combine the bok choy, red pepper, and scallions in a large bowl.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour this dressing over the chopped vegetables, and toss well. Let the slaw sit in the refrigerator for one hour, then toss it again. Taste the chilled salad, and add more chile or salt or sugar to your liking before serving. This slaw will taste good for at least 3 days if kept tightly sealed in the refrigerator.

Enjoy! Do you all like spicy food in cold weather? Does it help warm you up?

Have a great weekend!

Richly red-colored spread, and bright, tangy flavors! This is fantastic stuff to spread on top of baguette slices (toasted or not), or toasted pita. The peppers are roasted first to really bring out their sweetness. You can choose to add hot chiles—as many as you want—if you want a spicier spread. I definitely suggest letting this spread sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving, to let the flavors blend.

Red Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread

from Everybody’s San Francisco Cookbook

6 red bell peppers
2 Fresno chiles (optional; can substitute habanero if you like a lot of heat)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black cumin seeds (optional)
1 c walnuts
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Place bell peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven (covering the baking sheet with foil makes cleaning up easier). Turn the peppers as necessary to char evenly on all sides. Depending on your oven, roasting may take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. The chiles will roast more quickly than the peppers, so if you’re using them, toss them in toward the end.

3. Once the peppers and chiles are blackened, place them in a paper or plastic bag and seal tightly. The steam created by the peppers will cause the skins to loosen. Leave sealed for 20 minutes. Open the bag and peel away the skins from the meat of the bell peppers and chiles. Discard the stems, inner membranes, and all the seeds. Place the flesh of the peppers and chiles in a small bowl and set aside.

4. In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds and the black cumin seeds, if using, over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

5. In a food processor, coarsely chop the walnuts and then add the roasted cumin. Pulse a few times and wipe down the bowl sides with a spatula. Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and honey. Pulse a few more times and then wipe down the sides again. Add the bell peppers and chiles, if used, and run the processor until the peppers have been absorbed into the spread. Add the olive oil with the processor still running, until fully incorporated. Transfer to a serving bowl.

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