Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Indian Spiced Bean Dip

I've been on a curry kick lately. It's those warming spice blends that really help me get through the cooler temperatures. I decided that I wanted to make my own spice blend. When I did a quick search on the computer, I found more recipes than I could handle! Every region has its own spice blend. I suspect every family has its own blend as well. As with every family that shares recipes from generation to generation, I suspect curry blends are modified and adjusted to personal taste. I do the same thing with almost every recipe I come across. That means that you can create your own blend to your specific taste. I like that concept. The easiest recipe that I came across was courtesy of Alton Brown. It's a blend of six spices, toasted and freshly ground.

Alton Brown's Curry Powder Blend

2 Tbls whole cumin seeds, toasted
2 Tbls whole cardamon seeds, toasted
2 Tbls whole coriander seeds, toasted
1/4 cup ground turmeric
1 Tbls dry mustard
1 tsp cayenne

Place all ingredients in a container with an airtight lid. Shake to combine. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. When ready to use, grind and add to dishes according to taste.

There. Pretty easy! Other spice blends include fennel seeds, paprika, ginger powder, chili powder, salt and a whole spectrum of spices from different regions of the spice trade route. As I mentioned, you can create your own blend to your preferred taste. Have fun with it. It will make your kitchen smell fantastic!!

I wanted to offer up a recipe for you to use your curry powder blend with. We've been making an Indian Spice Bean Dip here at the Co-op with excellent reviews. This recipe contains turmeric as well as the curry powder blend. Turmeric has been getting a lot of press lately with it's healing properties. It's been used as a natural antiseptic, for cancer prevention, liver detoxifier, as an anti- inflammatory, as a natural painkiller, and as an arthritis treatment. The list goes on and on. I think the key to maximizing the health benefits of any whole food is to combine it with a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating. That is easier said then done, so I'm happy to offer this recipe as one to incorporate more healthy eating into your lives. Belly up!!

Indian Spice Bean Dip
from Wheatsfield Co-op, Ames Iowa

4- 15 oz cans unsalted cannellini beans, drained
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp tumeric
2 Tbls curry powder

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth, adding a small amount of water if mixture seems to thick. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Curried Sweet Potato & Wild Rice Soup

We did it!! We purchased a homestead, and moved in! We installed a wood stove last weekend (thanks Dad), and it has added immense joy and much needed heat to take the edge off of these blustery days. The barn is lovely, and my daughter and I can't help but wander through the large wooden doors and into the grassy pasture in the evenings. She laughs as she runs through the tall grass, her curly locks bouncing in and out of sight as she goes. Life is pleasant.

Of coarse I just want to stay in and cook in our new kitchen. I've painted the dinning room a color called 'roasted beet', and I am in love with dinner time, and all of us seated around our table in our beet red room. It's cozy, sweet, and ours! One of the first things I cooked in our new kitchen was soup. A creamy, curried soup with sweet potatoes and wild rice. The spices in the curry were fragrant and warming. The wild rice, sweet potatoes, and coconut milk all had a presence in the soup, their flavors balancing into a delicious pot of soup!

Curried Sweet Potato & Wild Rice Soup

1 cup wild rice
4 Tbls butter

1 small onion, chopped
1 medium leek, cleaned and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes

1 Tbls curry powder spice blend
1 tsp dried thyme
1 can coconut mik
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
 sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan add about 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the wild rice, reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow the wild rice to cook until it starts to split open. This will take a little while, maybe 20 minutes or so. Keep an eye on the liquid, making sure there is always liquid in the pot. It is fine to have liquid remaining as it is very tasty and can be used in the soup as a replacement for some of the stock. At this point, turn off the heat, leaving the wild rice and any remaining liquid in the pan, and set aside.

In a large stock pot over high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, leek, celery and carrots and saute until the onions begin to become translucent. Add the garlic, curry powder and thyme and saute a few minutes more- to toast up the spices and cook the garlic a bit- be careful not to over- brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the sweet potatoes, the wild rice and the stock. Allow to simmer together for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes begin to soften.

Turn the heat down to low. Add the coconut milk and give the soup a taste. Add a hearty dose of black pepper and sea salt. At this point the soup should be creamy, slightly thick and hearty, and the flavors should all be present. If you like more curry flavor, add more curry. This recipe keeps if fairly subtle. A few add-ins I was thinking about were chopped apples, added when the sweet potatoes are added. You could also substitute a variety of winter squashes for the sweet potato. Belly up!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash

There is no denying that fall has arrived. The hillsides surrounding the harbor are crimson and gold. The deer have changed their hue from a reddish brown to a muted grey brown. The evenings are crisp, and mornings are even chillier. I feel the need to eat root vegetables. It's just what happens. It's a natural transition. I am also transitioning into heartier meals, the kind that sticks to your ribs and prepares you  for the winter to come. We had a hike in mind the other morning, exploring the small peaks in Grand Portage and viewing the colorful leaves. I new we needed a hearty breakfast, and hash came to mind. I love the flavor combination of spicy, salty, smokey chorizo and the sweet, earthiness of sweet potatoes. I set out to make chorizo and sweet potato hash.

This recipe is a great addition to your cool weather collection. I combined sweet potatoes, buttery yukon gold potatoes, chorizo, and caramelized onions. I topped the hash with some over easy eggs and a small dollop of fresh goat cheese. Fresh chopped herbs such as sage or chives would be great too. You have to trust me when I say that this dish is easy to pull off. I had a few eager hikers pacing my kitchen, and was able to put this together without putting us behind schedule!

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 pound chorizo
1 small onion, diced
 *eggs, optional
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Fill a medium pot with about 6 cups of water, place on high heat, and bring the water to a boil.
While you wait for the water to boil, prepare the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Once the water is ready, place the prepared potatoes and sweet potatoes into the boiling water and cook them fro about 5 minutes, or until they are just becoming tender. Strain the potatoes and sweet potatoes, and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet or saute pan,  brown the chorizo. Remove the cooked chorizo from the pan and set aside, saving the renderings in the pan. If there appears to be a lot of fat left in the pan, drain some of it off, leaving about 3 tablespoons. Add the onions to the pan, and allow them to caramelize.

Once the onions have caramelized, add the potatoes and sweet potatoes to the pan. Allow them to develop a nice browning before you stir them about the pan. I like to get a crisp edge on my potatoes, and it's easy to achieve if you let them start to brown before you shuffle them around the pan. Once the potatoes start to brown, add the chorizo back into the pan, and scramble all of the ingredients together in the pan. At this point your hash is done. I cracked a few eggs on top of my hash and placed the pan in a 400 degree oven, and allowed the eggs to cook for about 5 minutes. I garnished the whole lot with a few dollops of fresh goat cheese and a hearty amount of fresh cracked pepper.

Alter your hash recipes with what you have on hand. I was thinking that beets would be a great addition, or any root vegetable you may be harvesting form your garden. You could also serve this hash with a hearty amount of chili sauce and some warmed tortillas for a more 'on the go' sort of breakfast. Keep the ingredients top notch and the recipe simple. Belly up!!