ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA

Impossible to ignore the Indian vibes in our kitchen lately. Of all cuisines, I believe that is the one bringing the most out of veggies. This recipe will blow your mind, and I am certain of it. The gunpowder masala is nutty, with the perfect level of heat and complex mixture of flavors. As my friend Joanne said in her blog post, it will be good on pretty much anything. I urge you to make it, even if finding curry leaves could be a bit tricky.

BLISTERED ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA
(from Joanne’s blog Eats well with Others)

for the Masala:
100 g raw cashews
35 g raw pepitas
30 g dried red chilies de arbol (or to taste)
20-25 fresh curry leaves (I used 10 dried leaves)
2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds (I used a mixture)
½ tsp asafetida

for the asparagus:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
sea salt flakes
1-2 tbsp gunpowder masala (or to taste)

Make the masala: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the cashews, pepitas, dried chilies, curry leaves, and sesame seeds. Toast them, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are starting to brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Once cool, grind in a food processor or blender along with the asafetida to a coarse powder. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Make the asparagus: Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl or on a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until blistered on at least 2 sides. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and gunpowder masala. Serve immediately, and swoon!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was part of a conversation about food blogging and how tiring it is the over-use of certain adjectives to describe a dish. Life-changing, fantastic, mind-blowing (guilty as charged)… So let’s stop going there. This is a great masala that I can see being paired with many veggies and even animal protein. I envision a beautiful piece of salmon, grilled to perfection and topped with this crunchy concoction, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. It does need a bit of moisture to shine, so that final drizzle of oil and citric juice is a must.

If you cannot find curry leaves, I’d say make it without. It does have enough going on, and it will still be mighty tasty. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, so keep it in the fridge and find new uses for it. Just yesterday I paired it with sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt sauce.

Joanne, thank you for yet another perfect recipe that will go into our regular rotation for sure!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Home Bakers Collective, April Project

TWO YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Eggplant Meatballs

THREE YEAR AGO: Uzbek Flatbread

FOUR YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite – Black Sesame FOUR

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Orange Mini-Cakes

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, May 2015

SEVEN YEARS AGO: P90X3, a Review of Tony Horton’s Latest Fitness Program 

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pasta and Mussels in Saffron Broth

NINE YEARS AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

TEN YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure

ASPARAGUS AND SNOW PEAS WITH WALNUT CRUMBS

Do you follow Lisa is Cooking? She writes cookbook reviews and is the person I blame for quite a few of my acquisitions, which are usually Kindle versions, so I feel less guilty. Her latest post centered on a book called East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing, by Meera Sodha. I ordered it within minutes of reading the blog post. I modified one of the recipes quite a bit, and share my version with you today.

ASPARAGUS AND SNOW PEAS WITH WALNUT CRUMBS
(adapted from Meera Sodha’s East)

1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed
Snow peas (about 1/4 pound)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil, divided
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade (Panko works too)
1 Serrano pepper, very finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
zest and juice of 1 lemon (I used Meyer Lemon)

Start by making the crumb component. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet and add the walnuts and Serrano pepper, season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir-fry for a minute or two, add the bread crumbs, cook until fragrant and getting toasted. Immediately squirt the juice of 1/2 lemon, mix well and transfer to a bowl. Reserve.

Add one tablespoon of oil to the skillet, and cook the asparagus, making sure they form a single layer in the pan with not much overlapping. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook in high heat for a couple of minutes, cover the pan, reduce the heat and allow it to cook in its own steam for another minute or so. Transfer to a bowl, and add a little more oil to the skillet. Now add the snow peas and cook in high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the asparagus and the reserved crumbs to the skillet, warm everything together moving it often. Squirt the juice of the remaining half of the lemon, adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you need inspiration to prepare vegetables in creative, unusual ways, this book is a must-have. But Lisa reviewed it in the best possible way, so just jump to her blog for details. I made the original version of this recipe that used peanuts and quite a bit more of the crumb component, but to my taste it was a bit much. I toned it down and also liked it better using walnuts in place of peanuts. I think a drizzle of walnut oil to finish the dish could be excellent, and I am kicking myself because I did not try it, as I do have walnut oil in the fridge. Best laid plans.

The book is full vegetarian and vegan, but I will use it mainly as a source for side-dishes. This delicious salad (she calls it a salad, although it is served warm), was enjoyed with juicy grilled chicken breasts, a recipe that quickly became a regular in our kitchen. It was a bonus recipe featured in this post from my recent past.


ONE YEAR AGO:
Yin and Yang Viennoise Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Extreme Chocolate Cupcakes

THREE YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Kamut Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Joys of Grating Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Auberge Pecan-Walnut Bread

SIX YEARS AGO:Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars
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SEVEN YEARS AGO:Lasserre, a French Classic
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EIGHT YEARS AGO:Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates
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NINE YEARS AGO:Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze
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TEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce
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ELEVEN YEARS AGO:Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA

Nothing irritates a true vegetarian more than giving names like “steak” to a veggie dish to make it more appealing. My apologies, I have no intention of ruffling feathers, it’s just not as sexy to call it “Cauliflower Slices.” I’ve made a version of it in the past, but this one is so much better that it almost makes me want to go back and delete that post. This is cauliflower steak done to perfection, and I thank my friend Eha for introducing it to me. It will go in our regular rotation. For sure.

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA
(adapted from Cook Republic)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil

for the salsa:
60g pitted green olives
2 tablespoons baby capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
chopped fresh parsley to taste
20ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325FC. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the cauliflower on a chopping board, resting on the stalk. Holding the head gently, slice the cauliflower into 5-6 thick slices (each about 1 inch wide).
Place the cauliflower slices on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the top with remaining olive oil.

Roast for 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425F. Roast for a further 15-20 minutes at this higher temperature till the cauliflower is starting to char and brown nicely. Remove from the oven and set aside.


Place all ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl. Whisk very well. Spoon prepared salsa over the cauliflower steaks. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and chopped parsley.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: My only modification to the recipe was to reduce the amount of olive oil in the salsa and add lemon juice. For my taste, the olives add enough luscious fat, and the salsa tasted lighter and “brighter” with less oil and some extra acidity. Go with what rocks your own boat. Your kitchen, your rules.

What is wonderful about this recipe is the method to roast it. Lower temperature first, don’t mess with it, allow it to cook at a slow pace. Then increase the temperature and take it as far as you like. The salsa, cold and tangy, on top of that perfectly cooked slice of cauliflower? Perfection on a plate. I urge you to give this a try.

Eha, thanks so much for introducing me to this recipe in particular,
and to Cook Republic. I am following…

ONE YEAR AGO: Twice-Cooked Eggplant

TWO YEARS AGO:  Turkey Burger, Japanese-Style

THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooked Whole Chicken

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting

SIX YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey-Mustard Dressing

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen on Fire!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

NINE YEARS AGO: Chiarello’s Chicken Cacciatore

TEN YEARS AGO: Donna Hay’s Thai-Inspired Dinner

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Panettone

 

 

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: GLUTEN-FREE & VEGAN RASPBERRY BARS

Last Monday of March, a month that makes me happy for several reasons. I was born in March, Phil and I got married 15 years ago in March, and the month also welcomes the beginning of Spring.  Can you fully grasp the unmeasurable joy associated with it? It means I survived another winter, and here I am, alive and kicking to share with you one more adventure as part of The Secret Recipe Club.   You know, that event that pairs two food bloggers in secret, and then the whole group posts about their chosen dish at exactly the same time. My assignment this month was the blog Without Adornment, hosted by Bean. She has a degree in Chemical Engineering, and her hobbies are cooking/baking, and photography, so of course her blog is a perfect venue to showcase her talent.  I was thrilled by this assignment, because Bean is a very accomplished baker who must make exclusively gluten-free recipes. Those of you who have gluten allergies know how tricky it can be to try and mimic the delicious cookies, breads, pies, and muffins that rely on gluten for perfect texture and taste. Browsing her blog really opened my horizons and the list of goodies I wanted to try was extensive.  To name a few, I was inclined to bake a batch of her White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries,  then almost chose her Gluten-Free Pear Clafoutis, Another amazing option that I will bake soon: Dairy Free Creme Brulée (using coconut milk, how sweet is that?). As usual, savory stuff appeals a lot to me, so I also saved her Vegan Walnut Zucchini Crackers for final consideration. After a little bit of a mental struggle,  I went with her Raspberry Bars, in part because they use quinoa flakes and I had a box sitting in my pantry begging to come out and play.  I could not miss the opportunity…

RasberryBars

GLUTEN FREE VEGAN RASPBERRY SQUARES
(from Without Adornment)

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup oats
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
3 tbsp. palm sugar
1/2 – 2/3 c. coconut oil
3 cup thawed raspberries, with as much of the liquid drained as you can.
3 – 4 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.

Whisk together flours, baking powder and salt. Add oats, quinoa flakes and palm sugar and mix until evenly distributed. Add in unmelted coconut oil. Using your fingers, work the coconut oil into the flour mixture until there are no lumps remaining and the mixture is crumbly.

In a separate bowl, stir together raspberries, honey and spices. Add more sweetener to reach desired sweetness. Press over half of the crumb mixture into a greased 8″ square pan. Scoop the raspberries onto the pressed bar mixture and distribute evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top of the raspberries and pat lightly.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until topping is light brown.

Cool completely before cutting into squares.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I changed the recipe slightly by using a mixture of raspberries and blueberries, as the price tag on the raspberries was a little high. I don’t think it hurt anything, it just made the color of the filling darker than Bean’s concoction, and also a bit more chunky, as the blueberries retain their shape. The cute box of quinoa flakes was one of those classic impulse buys that I am often a victim of. But I knew the flakes would come in handy, and was glad to be able to use them in this recipe.

composite2

Gluten-free baking is really a huge challenge, because without gluten to provide that nice, elastic structure, baked goods tend to be dry, and much less pleasant to eat. However, using the right mixture of flours and grains, one can get close enough to the “real thing” and these bars are a perfect success story.  I took the squares to the department and did not mention they were gluten-free. Nobody seemed to notice, and they were inhaled in a little over one hour.  I call it a success story indeed.

Bean, I hope you had as much fun with your assignment as I had with mine!  And for those reading my blog, make sure to click on the blue amphibian smiling at you at the very end.  She (or he, who knows?) will take you to a new page showing all the tasty concoctions made by my virtual friends of The Secret Recipe Club.  Enjoy the collection!

ONE YEAR AGO: Lasserre, a French Classic

TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

THREE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese