Posts made in February, 2013

Panang curried tofu

This was a great new curry that we’ve never had before. It’s built around a hot chile paste called sambal oelek that enlivens a mixture of peanut butter and coconut milk to make a rich savory curry. In addition to the tofu, there are plenty of shallots, ginger, garlic, orange pepper and carrots with some cilantro for color. I made a boatload of the chile paste so it’s a good thing we liked the curry as it looks like we’ll be having more of this dish and looking for new uses for sambal oelek.

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Veggie medley

This meal (which we had last night) is the first we’ve had this month that showcases the absence of meat. Each component – sauteed asparagus with parmesan, mashed sweet potatoes and a raw kale salad with parmesan and an anchovy dressing – is recognizably a side dish that would normally accompany a meat entree. I’m not bothering to calculate grams of protein in what we eat – in part because we are only doing this for a month and in part because I think such a focus detracts from the enjoyment of what one eats – but each of the vegetables (as well as the cheese and cream) has a bit of protein so I figure we’re doing alright. The kale salad needs to be prepared in advance, and the other vegetables take less than 30 minutes from prep to table.

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On the 18th Day – Chocolate Chip-Walnut Cookies!

Over the last few days, there has been a marked swerve in the superfoods diet from the savory to the sweet. This trend started with the avocado-chocolate mousse, arguably a defensible choice of dessert given the healthy goodness of avocado, but it has accelerated through the chocolate mousse stage until now we find ourselves baking enormous chocolate chip-walnut cookies. Superfoods yes, but not super healthy unless in impossible moderation…

Somebody is going to have to help us eat these delicious diet saboteurs; hope Rachael’s work colleagues had a healthy weekend!

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As a side dish, I love roasted cauliflower, but as the main event, I’m more likely to make a curry out of it. When I came across a recipe for cauliflower and red lentil curry – two superfoods – I knew we’d soon have a warm dinner for a cold night.

The recipe called for Madras curry powder (which evidently survives the city’s name change to Chennai), and I knew that – like a lot of home cooks – the curry powder I had on hand had been around for a long time. Fortunately, a quick scan of ingredients and a check of the cupboard revealed that I had everything on hand to toast and grind a fresh batch on the spot.

Well, with a couple of caveats. I didn’t have any ground ginger but figured that wouldn’t be a problem because I would just add fresh ginger to the dish. Likewise for turmeric, which by the way is on the superfoods list and warrants taking the time for a special mention.

Turmeric is a relative of ginger, and it looks like this:

Usually you can only find it in its bright orange-colored powdered form, and at first, I thought about getting some for the curry powder because that is what give Madras curry its distinctive color. But I decided besides being a pain in the ass to go to the store, it had to be better to use the root in its original state and I could just add it to the dish like the ginger.

Turmeric’s active ingredient is called curcumin, and there seem to be lots of suggestive results about its health effects. For our no-meat-and-no-alcohol diet, two stand out in particular: curcumin has been shown to reduce the carcinogenic compounds that form when meat is fried or barbecued and it seems to delay liver damage associated with the development of cirrhosis. If that isn’t enough, curcumin is also linked to reducing the risk of skin cancer and perhaps Alzeimer’s. I’m pretty sure we’re going to find new ways of introducing turmeric into our meals well past the end of this long month.

So back to making curry powder. I toasted up some coriander, cumin, mustard and fennel seeds until they began to pop and then added a long list of other spices and ground them all up in my mortar and pestle.









From there it was a simple matter to saute the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric, stir in coconut milk and water, add the cauliflower and lentils, simmer until done and top off with cilantro and cherry tomatoes:

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About Me

Born in Baltimore and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived on both coasts and driven back and forth across the country a number of times. I now have the "midlife opportunity" to do so on two wheels.