The Sensitive Kitchen

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Okra Dry Curry

The unusual step of microwaving the okra helps to dry the mucilaginous compounds and keep the slices separated in the pan while simultaneously allowing the use of less oil. Skip this step and you can use the following basic technique with almost any cooked vegetable.

1 pound small okra, preferably no longer than 3"
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
3/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chile
1/2 tsp urid dal
4-5 fresh curry leaves
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
3 Tbsp unsweetened dessicated coconut

Wash okra, then cut off and discard stems and tips. Slice okra pods into 1/8"-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices in a single layer on a microwaveable plate and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 minutes (you will have to do this in batches). Allow okra to cool on the plates, then scrape with a wooden spoon into a bowl.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add chile, mustard and cumin seeds, and cover immediately. When popping noises subside, add urid dal. When it begins to turn golden brown, add curry leaves. When crackling subsides, scrape okra into saucepan, stirring to coat with oil and spices. Salt the okra and cook for a couple of minutes until the okra slices are fully dried out and not sticking together much. Sprinkle with cumin, coriander and turmeric; stir and cook a minute until spices are evenly distributed and fragrant. Sprinkle with coconut, stir to distribute, and remove from heat. Serves 4 normal humans or 1 okra lover.

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Yeasted Waffles with Peach-Cardamom Sauce

The aroma of these waffles will get anyone out of bed in the morning! Because of the yeast, the batter must be started the night before. Not only does this make for an easy morning's work, but it gives the waffles a mellow tang and a pleasingly chewy texture that sets them apart from the usual baking-powder-and-baking-soda kind. As for the sauce, I'm grateful for the pure deliciousness that is a Schnepf Farms peach, and for my freezer which allows me to enjoy them four months past harvest time. They were so sweet our sauce didn't need much sugar.

Waffles (the night before):
2 c white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk (try cream-top whole milk)

Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large lidded bowl. Whisk in milk until blended. Cover bowl and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Waffles (the next morning):
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

The next morning, heat your waffle iron. Beat egg and melted butter together, then stir into batter with vanilla. Add just enough batter to hot iron to cover the cooking surface. Cook waffles until crisp and browned but not too dark, 2 to 3 minutes each. Keep waffles warm in a single layer directly on the rack of a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.

2 cups frozen tree-ripened peaches
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cardamom (optional)

Bring peaches, lime juice and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook a couple of minutes, then mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon, or blend with a stick blender. Stir in vanilla and cardamom.

To serve, spoon sauce over waffles and top with whipped cream if desired. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Depending on how long you drain the cheese, you can end up with a finished product that's creamy and spreadable or dry and crumbly. Each has its applications, so plan accordingly. You will end up with 3/4 to 1 cup cheese and 3 3/4 to 4 cups whey.

4 c whole or 2% milk
1 c buttermilk

Line a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl with a triple thickness of clean, damp cheesecloth. Heat milk and buttermilk together over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When mixture starts to steam, watch closely for signs of separation. When this occurs, scoop the larger curds out with a slotted spoon and remove to cheesecloth, then pour the remainder into the cheesecloth. Drain ricotta cheese to desired consistency. Salt cheese to taste and pour whey into jars for later use (keeps several days).

100% Whole Wheat Bread for the Bread Machine

1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 c whey, heated to lukewarm, or 1 c lukewarm water plus 1/4 c nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking yeast (I use Red Star)

Layer ingredients in the order given in the baking container of a 2-pound bread machine and bake as directed on the Whole Wheat setting. Makes one lofty, sweet and fragrant loaf.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Guava Nut Tea Cake

My fist job out of college was in marketing for a now-defunct specialty produce company. The one good thing about that job was that I had ready access to all manner of exotic fruits and vegetables in crazy quantity, and cooked accordingly. As I no longer keep such pricey foodstuffs at my fingertips, I haven't made this cake in many years. Today the director of my child's elementary school gave me a small bag of ripe guavas from her backyard tree. I immediately thought of this cake, and was lucky to find the recipe. Thank goodness for internet archives.

5 ripe guavas, about 3 ounces each
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp rum (divided)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 c almond meal
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp water mixed with 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

Peel 3 guavas and halve lengthwise. With a spoon or a melon-ball cutter, scoop out the central seedy area, leaving a shell about 1/2" thick, and place seedy pulp in the work bowl of a food processor.

Steam guava shells until tender, from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on guava variety. Remove to a plate, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar, and turn to coat. Set aside to cool.

While shells steam, cut up 2 remaining guavas; combine in processor with reserved pulp and 2 tablespoons rum. Purée, then press through a fine nonreactive sieve or the fine disk of a stainless steel food mill. Stir in rum; set mixture aside.

Butter a 9" round pan, fit a round of waxed paper in the bottom, and butter that. Lightly flour pan.

In a small mixer bowl, cream butter until light; gradually add in remaining sugar. Add egg; beat on high speed until fluffy. Add guava purée. Add flour, baking powder and salt on lowest speed, then add nut meal.

Spread batter evenly in pan. Arrange a pattern of guava crescents on top, pressing gently so fruit is flush with batter. Bake in the lower half of a preheated 375° oven until cake separates from sides of pan and tests done in the middle, about 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto your hand and set right side up on a rack.

Stir together remaining tablespoon rum and sugar-water mixture in a tiny pan. Heat to boiling, then stir just until sugar dissolves. Paint mixture over warm cake surface to coat thoroughly, then let cake cool. Serves 8.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Roasted Beet and Arugula Pizza

I've been getting several Chioggia beets and a big bag of arugula each week in my CSA share. This creation, which my husband terms a "snob pizza," uses both to what I'd call pretty good success - that is to say, there aren't any leftovers :)

16 ozs pizza dough, preferably with herbs
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 c arugula, cut in chiffonade
1 shallot, thinly sliced vertically
1 large Chioggia or yellow beet, roasted, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup Israeli sheep's-milk feta, or to taste
1 oz Asiago cheese, shredded, or to taste
flake salt and honey, to taste

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Stretch dough and prepare onto a pizza peel. Smear with olive oil. Top with arugula, shallot and beet, in that order. Dot with crumbled feta cheese, then sprinkle Asiago. Bake on preheated pizza stone until crust is browned and cheese is melted, approximately 8 minutes. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with flake salt to taste.