Posted by: jefri | June 18, 2010

Cucumber Yogurt Soup

We’re big fans of yogurt  in this house, especially from Ronnybrook Farm which we get at the Ave A farmer’s market.  It’s tasty, it’s good for you, and it can be added to or served with a range of foods.  It comes in a swath of flavors and textures, so it’s amenable to different palates and culinary combinations.  This cold soup is a classic that everyone has probably made and has their own delicious version of.  Here’s one that we’ve been enjoying lately.

1 Qt container of plain yogurt (from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy)

2-3 medium to large cucumbers

1.5-2 cups water

1-2 teaspoons dill

1 clove garlic finely chopped

1//2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

paprika

This is easy and makes a pretty good portion.  In a large bowl, combine grated cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, dill, and black pepper (add small bit of paprika too if you wish).  Gently stir together until all ingredients are blended and there is an even distribution of ingredients.  Chill in refrigerator for a few hours (in a pinch one can quick-cool in the freezer for a shorter burst of time–about until the sides start to freeze to the bowl).  Garnish with paprika and serve.

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Posted by: jefri | June 16, 2010

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

This is a classic, simple Italian pasta dish that is also amenable to a number of tasty variations and substitutions.  The basic version of the recipe is presented here.  It’s most likely Roman in origin, and I really learned this one while I was living there in the early nineties, but many of the regions of Italy have this dish or a close relative of it (Nonna Romilda cooked a similar version from Veneto).  In Rome, this is said to be the dish to fix up when you come home from a night of drinking and need something quick and hearty to absorb some of that booze and right you a little.  It cooks fast but it is tasty and never goes out of style.

1/2 pound spaghetti (spaghetti is the classic form for this dish, but other pastas are appropriate)

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 pepperoncini (Italian spicy dried red peppers)–we usually use dried red Arbol  chiles from New Mexico

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

Boil water with dashes of olive oil and salt in a pasta pot.  When boiling add pasta and stir.  When pasta is 5-6 minutes from being done, heat up olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  When oil is warm add garlic and chile.  Stir.  Saute for a few minutes until garlic is slightly softened to slightly toasted.  Add 1/4 teaspoon or so salt and stir around.  When pasta is al dente drain it then immediately add it to the skillet with the other ingredients and stir it around so that the sauce coats the pasta.  Serve while hot and eat right away.

Posted by: jefri | June 16, 2010

gruet!!

This one is from New Mexico, and we have long loved the sparkling wine local to the region known as Gruet.  We used to drink Gruet for New Year’s and special occasions in the later eighties when they were distributing a few thousand cases, mostly around New Mexico.  It was great then and it’s great now.  We squealed with delight the first time we saw it on a New York menu, and as it’s become more widespread.  It’s cheaper than really good champagne and more delicious, by far, than other more economical domestic sparklers.  A little-known newspaper called the New York Times just ran a piece on Gruet and its wonders.

Posted by: jefri | June 15, 2010

Channa Dal

Channa Dal (yellow lentil dal) has gotten a lot of press lately for its extremely low glycemic index and health benefits for diabetics and others.  Also, it tastes delicious!  It may take a little longer to cook than other dals, so a long soaking period or leaving extra time for simmering is advisable.  This is a traditional Hindu temple vegetarian recipe, so it doesn’t have any onions or garlic, substituting, if you wish, asafoetida instead (be careful, however, because asafoetida, also known as “hing,” is strong, a little goes a LONG way–and it seems to have its fans, who love it, and its detractors, who can’t stand it (who’d say it has a nauseating taste and smell that could drive almost anyone far away from your dal dish).

1 cup dry yellow channa dal

1 tsp cumin seed

1/2 of a dried red chile (2-3 inch section)

1 stick cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

2-3 tablespoons grated ginger

1/4 tsp ground roasted cumin

1/2 tablespoon butter (olive oil if vegan)

small pinch asafoetida

3 cloves and 2 cardamom seeds crushed coarsely in mortar and pestle

Wash dal and pick out any stones or imperfections.  Put dal in pan and cover with approx 1″ of water above level of the dal, cover container and put in fridge several hours or overnight.  After dal has soaked, simmer it in about 5 cups water for at least half an hour (depending how long you soak it, more or less cooking time may be needed).

When dal is within 5-10 minutes of being cooked (should be soft, so that can dissolve between your fingers, but not gritty  or too liquidy), put a little bit of oil into a pan over medium heat.  Add 1 tsp cumin seed,  1/2 tsp red chile powder, and 1 stick cinnamon, stir in and allow to sputter and brown up a little.  Temporarily remove pan from heat and add 1 tsp turmeric and 2-3 tablespoons grated ginger.  Put back on heat and allow to warm up a little while stirring.  When dal is ready drain it (keep the water in reserve in case you wish to add that after to bring more liquid to the dish), then add the cooked dal to the pan with the oil and spices.  Stir together and warm.  Add a little bit of salt (perhaps 1/4-1/2  tsp) and of sugar (again, perhaps 1/4-1/2 tsp), tasting after you add each.  You may have to add more salt after you add the sugar, as the sugar changes the taste of the salt.  It may be helpful to add a small amount of water after you add the salt and sugar, to help with mixing them in.  Now, turn off heat and add a number of spices on top of the dal, not stirring them in (you will stir them in after they sit on top for one half hour)–add 1/4 tsp ground cumin, add 1/2 tblspn butter (or oil), small pinch asafoetida, and 3 cloves/2 cardamom seeds crushed in mortar and pestle.  Cover container, leaving these spices on top for 1/2 hour.  After 1/2 hour stir these in gently and serve dal.

Posted by: jefri | June 14, 2010

Broccoli with Veggie Bacon

1 medium size head of broccoli (divided up into smaller, bite or 2 sized pieces)

4 strips veggie bacon

sesame chili oil

olive oil

salt

Cook veggie bacon strips in skillet (medium heat) with olive oil and sesame chili oil until very slightly crispy then divide into bits and return to pan.  Add broccoli to hot oil and bacon, so that broccoli sears a bit on the outside.  Cook until broccoli brightens and becomes slightly tender.  Add a few dashes of salt, serve, and eat.

Posted by: jefri | March 6, 2010

Avocado Lassi

Although we make guacamole several times a week, and have long appreciated sumptuous avocado shakes at places like Golden Era in San Francisco and a favorite Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia, we’ve only recently gotten out the blender (more usually used for pesto, soup, and margaritas) to try our hand at this delicious, can’t go wrong concoction.  There are several variations (as with just about everything on our site) but we give one of the most direct and tastiest here.

Avocado Lassi

1 avocado (slightly soft, about the same kind you’d use for guacamole)

1-2 cups plain yogurt (nonfat, whole, etc., your choice, but fat always makes it creamier!)

juice of one lime

1/2 cup cider, orange, or other juice

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp paprika or cayenne or Chimayo red chile powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp salt

Put all these things together in the blender and blend it up for a minute or so, until all the avocado has become creamy and the whole thing has taken on a smooth, light green look.  You may wish to adjust the amounts of yogurt, juice, water and spices to your desired taste and consistency.  Pour into glasses (martini glasses work pretty well) and garnish with a bit more paprika on top.

Makes a nice accompaniment to a hot gado gado or also an excellent breakfast shake.

Posted by: jefri | January 6, 2010

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