Friday, February 21, 2014

Stuffing Ourselves, the Winter Edition

Ben Terziani left behind last weekend a few of his decadent desserts. They didn't go to waste. above: chocolate pot de creme


above: Leftovers that just keep improving in flavor include Pork and Pozole Stew and Lentil Tostados.

Lazy Dinner of Ziti with Rao's Marinara Sauce and Tossed Salad. The dressing is one to catalog for future reference, especially useful as that pint of buttermilk bought three weeks ago nears its expiration date. Put all of this in a blender: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup buttermilk 1-2 T. lemon juice or white wine vinegar, 3 sliced scallions, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, salt and black pepper to taste and a handful of chopped parsley. Blend until smooth and then, with the blender still running, drizzle in slowly around 1/3 cup olive oil. It's best to refrigerate the dressing for at least an hour prior to serving; flavors meld well and the consistency thickens.

Need croutons for tonight's salad? Just toast them on the same baking pan with roasting veggies. You'll have one less thing to clean afterwards and conserve energy at the same time! Be sure however to take the croutons out well before the roasted vegetables unless you want a salad with cinders.

Roasting asparagus intensifies the flavor just as the process does with most vegetables. Like broccoli the trick is to not wash or rinse the asparagus. Just toss with olive oil, salt and black pepper and roast on a baking sheet at 415 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until the spears are tender and darkened.

Browning sesame seeds and coconut for our Sweet and Sour Bell Pepper Curry.

Typically kairas, or sweet and sour green pepper curry, are made with only green bell peppers. Cafe Drake HRV's version mixes the green with the red alongside an errant poblano pepper tossed in for a bit of heat and spice. So to begin, rinse and chop finely 3-4 medium large peppers of your choice, using at least half green bell peppers. Set aside while you heat 2 T. vegetable oil in a non-stick or iron skillet over a medium-high flame. When the oil is very hot toss in 3 T. sesame seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Now add 2 T. dried unsweetened coconut and stir constantly just until the coconut begins to change color. Immediately remove from heat and after cooling slightly, scrape skillet contents in to a mini- food processor or coffee grinder. Grind to a fine powder/paste. Set aside. Add 1 more T. of oil to the skillet - no need to wipe clean - and when very hot add 1/2 t. black mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop add the chopped peppers. Stir well and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in at least 1 t. salt, 1-2 t. tamarind paste/concentrate and about 2 t. dark brown sugar. Cook gently just until the peppers are soft. Now add the sesame and coconut mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Serve hot or warm with rice or flat breads.

above two photos: our bell pepper curry was savored alongside a meal of basmati rice, tarka dal, raita, chickpea flour roasted peanuts and sweet mango chutney.
Leftovers the following afternoon, accented with pickled eggs and marinated, roasted red chilies.

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