31 January 2011

Rasika Dinner

Rasika is an Indian restaurant in DC at which I recently enjoyed a delicious meal.  It wasn't the standard Indian menu.  They had lots of unique offerings, like flash fried spinach with tamarind yogurt dressing.  I couldn't bring myself to do any frying last night, so we just had raw spinach with tamarind yogurt (yogurt mixed with samosa sauce.)  But the stand out dish of the evening was the Chestnut Fava Bean Korma.  Below is my attempt to recreate it.  It wasn't as quite as dreamy or nearly as creamy, but it was just the right compliment to the salad, aloo gobi, and black rice pictured above.
Clock wise from top:  Crushed almonds, shelled fresh fava beans, cardamon in and out of it's pod, shelled roasted chestnuts.   
Chestnuts are hard to find sometimes, but I hoarded a few jars at Thanksgiving time.  I've also had some success finding them at the Asian grocery stores.  Strangely, I never seem to have trouble finding fresh fava beans around here.  But if you do, the canned ones are fine.  The cardamon seeds are what you want.  Break open the pods to remove the seeds, and discard the pods.  A pinch worth of seeds is all you need, as this spice is quite strong in flavour.  Rasika used cashews, but I didn't have any, hence the almonds.
20 or so cardamon seeds
1 small onion, diced
20 or so roasted chestnuts
1 cups of fava beans
1 cup of chopped nuts (preferably cashews)
1 can coconut milk or cream
1 T oil, butter or ghee

In a saucepan, heat oil and toast cardamon seeds for a minute or two.  Add onions and saute for about 3 minutes.   Add beans, chestnuts, and nuts and cook until onions are brown.  Add coconut milk and allow to stew for about 20 minutes.  Keep on low heat until ready to serve.

Raw Kale Salad

This salad is my current obsession.  I had it first at the Whole Foods salad bar.  But theirs has too much oil and too many cranberries for my tastes.  Mine is all savoury, uses less of a more flavourful oil, and is a blank slate for whatever crunchy additions strike your fancy.   Warning: It's so addictive you won't be able to stop eating it.  But it doesn't matter because there is no such thing as too much of this stuff.

Base Ingredients:
1 bunch kale (well washed in water vinegar solution)
1-3 T pumpkin seed oil (olive oil is also fine, just not as nutty)
2 T apple cider vinegar
2-4 cranks of sea salt
4-? cranks of black pepper (as much as you think you can handle, and the coarser the better)

Additional Ingredient Options:
(Here you see what I had on hand that day, but anything works.  I've tried the following with success.)
Bell peppers
Sunflower seeds

Directions:  Dry the kale as much as you can so the dressing can adhere to it.  Tear it into one inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle on the oil and toss.  Splash on the vinegar and toss.  Grind on the salt and pepper and toss.  Fire in the veggies and nuts and toss.  Taste it!  If it needs more of anything, add it! 

20 January 2011

Seitan Stew

Take everything you see here (potato, celery, parsnip, onion, dried mushrooms, seitan, salt, bay leaf, carrot and garlic) and horse it into a big pot.  Cover with water and boil until veggies are cooked to desired tenderness.  Add vegetarian gravy granules and stir until dissolved.  I know using them is a cop out, but I can't think of any better way to get the broth to turn brown and "beefy."  Suggestions welcome.

17 January 2011

Cauliflower Sauce

I used to be completely addicted to Fettuccine Alfredo.  But when I went to cook it for the first time, I was horrified by how much fat is involved.  So now, if I want the real thing, I go to a restaurant, and suspend my disbelief for the time it takes to eat it.  But I also really like trying out healthier versions of things and using bizarre substitutions.  This is one that turned out pretty well.  It doesn't really taste like Alfredo sauce, but it almost has the same mouth feel, and lots of depth of flavour. 
1 head of cauliflower (broken into florets)
1 cup of milk (I almost always use goat)
Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Horseradish (to taste)
Garlic (to taste)
Truffle Oil (to taste)
Olive Oil (for roasting)
Salt and pepper

Place florets and peeled garlic cloves in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Bake until cauliflower is lightly browned and fairly soft.  Once cooled, transfer them into a blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favorite pasta.