Monday, December 29, 2008

Red Butter Chicken + Garam Masala + Homemade Chapattis

Red Butter Chicken

Before making this our own, we learned this first from Sam Stern’s Real Food/Real Fast - a great cookbook by a British teen. The girls like the breezy language of the original and all the photos of Sam and his friends.  I like the emphasis on real cooking with real ingredients.  All of us love the results!  Unbelievably delicious!!

Melt in a large pan
6 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely diced4 cloves garlic, crushedPinch of salt
and cook gently for 2 minutes.

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper½ teaspoon chili powder3 teaspoons paprika2 teaspoons garam masala2 teaspoons ground coriander1 cinnamon stick4 cardamom pods (or 1¼ teaspoons ground cardamom)
and cook until onions are soft.

2 (15 oz) cans crushed tomatoes2 Tablespoons tomato paste2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
and stir. Bring to a boil. Simmer on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

4 chicken breasts, without skin, diced
and stir to coat.

1 cup heavy cream2/3 cup plain yogurt
Reduce heat. Cook at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook
2 cups rice
4 cups waterPinch of salt
fresh cilantro
and stir into chicken. Excellent served with warmed naan or warmed whole wheat tortillas or - even better - Homemade Chappatis (see below)

Garam Masala
We found this formula for a garam masala mix years ago in a children's book about India from the library. Now I see garam masala premixed in the grocery store, but this smells so wonderful roasting in the oven, it's worth taking time to make it when you can.

Preheat oven 200°.
Roast in an ungreased 9 x 13” pan on bottom oven rack
3 sticks cinnamon½ cup cardamom pods¼ cup whole cloves¼ cup cumin seeds2 Tablespoons coriander seeds¼ C black peppercorns
for 30 min. Stir often.

Let cool.

With fingers, break open cardamom pods: remove and keep seeds, discard pods. Crush cinnamon (rolling pin and 2 towels). Combine & mix well. Grind to fine powder (food processor or in short bursts in blender).
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
Store in sealed jar up to 6 months.

Homemade Chapattis
These are easy enough, I don't know why we don't make them more frequently.  The recipe is from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook

Preheat oven to 325°. Mix in a medium-sized bowl
½ cup flour½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup water
and stir until combined. Knead dough on a clean, floured surface for a minute or two, adding more flour to combat stickiness.

Divide dough into 6 equal balls and roll each one into a very thin round – no thicker than 1/8 inch – using plenty of flour on rolling surface and rolling pin.

Oil tray and brush tops of chapattis with
olive oil
Bake for 10 minutes until very, very lightly browned.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spiced Sweet-Potato Soup (week of December 14 to 20)

Spiced Sweet-Potato Soup
adapted from a recipe in Blue Moon Soup – a Family Cookbook by Goss and Dyer.

We kept trying to make this soup because it sounded so good in the original with a melted chocolate garnish, but it was always unpleasantly bitter – until this time when we left the chocolate out – MUCH better! We also substituted garam masala for the curry powder of the original.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Melt in a soup pot, over medium heat
  • 2 Tablespoons butter


  • 1 small leek, chopped (1 to 1½ cups)
  • ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced (you will need one more sweet potato later)
  • 1 Tablespoon cooking sherry (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

and sauté for 10 minutes.


  • 1 more large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups water

and stir.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Blend or mash half the soup with

  • 2 cups milk

until thick and smooth. Return blended soup to the pot and stir.

Place soup crocks on a baking sheet. Ladle soup into crocks and divide (to garnish)

  • 1 cup shredded Munster cheese
  • ¼ cup sliced mushrooms

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Medieval Forest Brussel Sprouts

On a whim, I tried combining a few Northern European late autumn-ripening foods. These tastes are meant to be eaten together. The red apple peel is especially pretty against the bright green of the lightly sauteed sprouts.
Clean and cut in half:
  • 1 - 2 stalks of brussel sprouts
Heat in a pan:
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons goose fat (or butter)
Saute brussel sprouts with:
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 - 2 apples, unpeeled but chopped small
  • ¼ - ½ cup fresh walnuts, shelled and quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste
When sprouts turn bright green and onions soften, remove from heat and sprinkle with
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Adjust salt and pepper before serving.

Bacon Potato Soup

Bacon Potato Soup
Adapted from a recipe that came from the CSA farm we had a share in this past year - the original (from Fresh from the Farmers' Market by Janet Fletcher) called for prosciutto di Parma. I substituted bacon and love the results - the comforting depth of the potatoes and cabbage, the zippy fresh herbs. I made a huge pot in September with red cabbage and froze the delicate-pinky purple leftovers which we enjoyed now months later.

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
until onions are transparent, about 10 minutes.
  • 2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed, chopped in ½ inch cubes
Season with:
  • Salt and pepper
Stir and saute about 3 minutes.
  • 2 cups broth
  • 4 cups water
Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat to maintain simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until most of htem break down and begin to thicken soup. It's nice to leave a few slightly rough pieces to give the soup a more interesting texture.
Stir in:
  • ¾ pounds green or red cabbage, finely sliced
Simmer gently until cabbage is just tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shepherd's Pie (week of Nov 30 - Dec 6)

If you think this is just warmed up leftovers, you're forgetting that dinner is 75 %  presentation.

I made this crowd-pleaser twice - the second time I was out of leftover mashed potatoes so rolled out some pie crust and made a pot pie with only a top lid.

Butter a covered casserole and preheat to 350°. Layer in casserole:
  • Cooked dressing
  • Mashed plain baked sweet potatoes
  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
Dot with:
  • Butter
Bake until top is golden. Great served with Orange-Cranberry Relish.