CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATOES IN YOGURT-CURRY SAUCE

At the risk of being repetitive, I must tell you this was a total winner and yes, it will go into our regular rotation. Other veggies can be used, like potatoes, green beans, butternut squash. The method won’t change. This side dish is rich and light at the same time. Contrary to most curries that rely on heavy cream or coconut milk, the yogurt offers just that amount of creaminess you might crave. Use full-fat yogurt to make sure the sauce won’t separate.

CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATO CURRY
(inspired by Chetna’s Healthy Indian)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
1 medium size cauliflower, florets cut in small pieces
2 to 3 small sweet potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/3 cup tomato purée
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup full-fat yogurt

Heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a pan, add the cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes, a little sprinkle of salt, and cook on a medium-to-high heat until they start to brown. Remove to a bowl.

Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pan, heat and add cumin and ginger. Saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant. Immediately add the tomato pure, Sambal Oelek, coriander and salt. Stir and keep in medium-heat. Mix the yogurt with water in a small bowl, then add to the pan, together with the reserved veggies.

Cover the pan and and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the sauce is too liquid, remove the lid and reduce it a bit before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As I mentioned in the beginning, this recipe can be adapted to include many veggies. I would avoid zucchini because it would turn a bit too soft, although it could probably work if you roasted it and added in the very end.

The recipe was inspired by Chetna’s new book. Remember her from one of the greatest seasons of the Great British Bake Off? Chetna was often praised for her intuition with flavors. Her new book proves she is not only a great baker, but a fantastic cook. I got the idea of using yogurt as a base for the curry from one of her recipes. From her book I also recently made a delicious Tomato and Raisin Chutney.

It was my first time making chutney, and using this interesting ingredient called asafoetida. I loved it, and will definitely be making other chutneys in the future. Her book has quite a few options, all pretty unique.

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CURRIED SWEET POTATO FRITTERS

This is a wonderful take on sweet potatoes, that you could conceivably serve as a little appetizer, if you make them slightly smaller and use a lighter hand on the yogurt topping. Using cookie cutters to shape the patties makes the presentation very uniform and appealing, but of course if you don’t want to go through that step, simply add portions to the hot oil. They will be rustic but there’s really nothing wrong with that.

CURRIED SWEET POTATO FRITTERS
(adapted from Tea Time Magazine, November-December 2020)

for yogurt sauce:
1/3 cup yogurt
1 tsp agave nectar
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
1 Tbs lemon juice
pinch of salt

for fritters:
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil for shallow frying

Make the yogurt by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl, and keeping in the fridge until serving time.

Stir together all ingredients for the fritters (except olive oil)  in a large bowl.  Place a 2-inch cookie cutter over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place a little over 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture inside the cutter, patting it flat. Carefully remove the ring and make a second one. Use all the potato mixture, you should have between 8 and 10 fritters. Refrigerate to firm the mixture up for about 20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sautee the little cakes on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve with a dollop of the yogurt sauce on top. You can keep the fritters in a low-oven for a while if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can make the little patties way in advance and keep them in the fridge. In fact, I recommend you do that because they will keep their shape better as you cook them. I did not want to make them too thin, because they would get too soaked in oil, so after sauteeing both sides, I placed them in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.

When I make them again, I will go Pollock on the sauce, I think it will look pretty cool that way. And yes, this will undoubtedly be one of those recipes to show up regularly in our kitchen. We both loved it!

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ROCKING THE ZUCCHINI BOAT

This recipe is perfect to put those very large zucchini to use. Maybe they grew a couple of days too long in your backyard, or they were sitting neglected at the grocery store (size-shaming is a cruel thing in the Cucurbitaceae world). For this recipe, a delicate, small creature just won’t be as good.


MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE ZUCCHINI BOATS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Foodie Crush)

3 large zucchini (yes, LARGE)
3 fresh sausage links of your choice (I used chicken/apple)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, to taste (probably 1/3 cup or so)
kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely chopped, to taste (another 1/3 cup or so)
1 to 2 tablespoons capers
fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, coarsely chop, and reserve.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and the sausages (remove them from the casing, and crumble) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces.  Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp and cook until the meat is cooked and the zucchini tender. Season with salt and pepper.

At this point, you have two options, keep it coarse the way it is, or run it BRIEFLY in a food processor. I decided to do this extra step  because I wanted a smoother texture to fill the zucchini, but I admit it is a bit of a hassle. Skip this step if you are in a hurry, the dish will be a little more rustic, but nothing wrong with it.

Whatever you decide to do, stir in the mixture the egg, almond flour, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil and almost all the cheese. Reserve some to sprinkle on top. Spoon the stuffing into the zucchini boats and place in a suitable baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you do the food processor step, it will be a two to three pulses kind of thing. You will be asking yourself… did I really dirty my food processor for just these three little pulses? Yes, you did. But that brief encounter with the blades makes the texture super nice, and in my opinion, worth the trouble.

Quite often when you see recipes for stuffed vegetables, they involve a dense blanket of melted cheese covering everything. Not the case here. The cheese is a minor component in the mixture and a sprinkle on top. I imagine that a vegetarian version could depart from this one, using mushroom ragu in place of the sausage, but we really liked it exactly this way. A serving of couscous, a little salad, and we called it dinner… 

Leftovers keep very well, and also heat without issues in the microwave.

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SWEET AND SPICY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower is quite likely the most versatile vegetable out there. You can turn it into pizza crust. You can turn it into pasta sauce. It roasts well, it fries well, it mimics rice, it disguises as tabbouleh. I’ve seen recipes using it in brownies, but even with my mind open wide, I cannot quite embrace that aspect. In this recipe, it gets a tempura-like treatment, and into the hot oven it goes. I never expected to have to fight the husband for the last bits of cauliflower in the bowl, but that’s what happened.

SWEET AND SPICY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
(inspired by Cook Eat Share Vegan)

Yogurt sauce:
150g full-fat yogurt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
salt to taste

panko breadcrumbs
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

for the batter:
70g g rice flour
pinch of sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon baking soda
juice of ½ lemon
150ml milk

for the spicy sauce:
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chilli paste)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons agave nectar
50ml water

Heat oven to 420F and line a baking tray with foil or baking paper. Make the yogurt sauce by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl, and reserve in the fridge until serving time.

To make the batter, whisk the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Place the panko in a shallow baking dish.  Dip cauliflower florets in the batter and shake off any excess before dredging in the panko crumbs and placing on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy and golden.

As the cauliflower roasts, place the gochujang dressing ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, or until smooth thick, adding a splash more water if it seems too thick. Transfer the baked cauliflower to a large bowl, pour over the dressing and toss to coat. Serve right away of keep in a low oven while you prepare the rest of your dinner, with the yogurt sauce on the side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was the type of preparation that had me a bit nervous until I finally took the first bite. The Gochujang sauce looked like liquid lava as it reduced, and I thought that it could end up as something that would turn my Dad off for being too spicy (Dad used to eat hot peppers as if they were candy… I refer you to this story of my past if you like to be amused).

But both Phil and I loved it!  It definitely had enough heat but it was not overpowering. No need for Kleenex. At any rate, if you don’t like spicy food, this is definitely not for you. But where there’s a will, there’s a way:  use ketchup instead of kochujang and proceed with the recipe as written. I am sure it will be very delicious.

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FROM MY HUSBAND TO YOU: ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

Some veggies are so delicious that I tend to do as little as possible to prepare them, so they can shine on their own. But the other day the husband pulled an amazing dinner for us and the side dish blew my mind. Asparagus stir-fry that packed a ton of flavor and made us feel as if we were dining in a cool restaurant in Los Angeles. Just like we did during our sabbatical at UCLA years ago (it does feel like a previous life).  I insisted he should write a guest blog post about it, but he is quite busy wrapping up a review article, and food blogging is definitely not a distraction he needs. So, I did the altruistic, sensible thing, and composed the post myself. Because if you also have a soft spot for asparagus, you need this in your life…

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
(adapted from The Washington Post)

1 medium jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice,  divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
toasted sesame seeds

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeno and olive oil, saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, a couple of minutes more.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still firm, about 1 minute.

Add the lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve right away, perfect with grilled salmon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Looking at our served meal, you could conclude we love sesame seeds. And you would be 100% correct. They do go well with salmon and perfect with asparagus. This is a very simple and quick dish to put together, and would complement many main dishes, from beef to poultry.  Serve these asparagus over polenta and you can call it a great, satisfying vegan meal…

I have to say I am pretty lucky to have a partner who cooks dinner for us every other day. I love to cook, but it would get a bit tiring to do it every single evening.  We have different styles, I am always trying new recipes, whereas he tends to stick to his favorites. But every once in a while he finds a recipe and jumps on it. Like this one. It was a fabulous meal…

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