One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Simple, tasty dishes are a favorite of mine these days. The days of wanting to try my hand at puff pastry from scratch and recipes utilizing every pot and pan in the kitchen, 42 ingredients, and 2-1/2 days of prep time no longer hold the same sheen they once did. So, when I came upon this recipe via a recent stroll through the land of Foodgawker, I was immediately hooked.

Barb's photos at WishfulChef were drool-inspiring. With all the ingredients on hand, my kitchen was soon wafting with the heady aromas of curry, shallots, garlic, and chili powder. And the flavor was comforting and lived up to the anticipation. It was just what I needed on a day when a little Asian comfort food was in order. Thank you, Barb.

Coconut Shrimp Curry
(I tweaked the recipe a little for my tastes, omitting the sweetener used in the original recipe, and halving the milk used in addition to the coconut milk for a little less brothy result.)

coconut or canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup potatoes, diced into small cubes
1 small can coconut milk(about 6-8 ounces)
1/2 can of milk (use the empty coconut milk can to measure)
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium tomato, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
3/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pan, heat oil and add curry powder, cook for about two minutes. Stir in garlic and shallot and cook for a minute. Mix in potatoes, then stir together with coconut milk and regular milk. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and chili powder. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add shrimp and frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with basmati or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kale, Cranberry & Quinoa Salad

In my efforts to eat healthier and explore healthier food options, I came across this recipe. I had heard of quinoa (say keen-wa) before, I'd even bought some that had been sitting in my pantry for quite a while, but I had never cooked it or eaten it anywhere. A little research revealed that this grain contains more protein than any other grain. One website indicates that there are varieties of quinoa that are more than 20 percent protein, making this grain a boon for vegetarians.

And kale. Touted as one of the world's "super foods", kale has risk-lowering benefits for at least five different types of cancers, including cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate(1). It comprehensively supports the body's detoxification system. Kale's extremely high vitamin-K content ("one cup of kale provides far more micrograms of vitamin K than any of our 135 World's Healthiest foods"(1)) makes it a champion in anti-inflammatory properties.


But does this all taste good??

In a word, Yes.

I love this dish so much, I've made it at least once a week for the last several weeks. In addition to my dinner, the leftovers heat up beautifully, becoming my lunch for the next couple of days. The toasted pine nuts add a bit of crunch, the dried cranberries give it a touch of sweetness, the sauteed shallots give it a tiny bit of caramelization that I just adore. Don't forget the salt... it definitely needs it. And definitely don't forget to thoroughly rinse the quinoa or your dish will have an awfully bitter aftertaste. You can smell the saponins on the quinoa. You'll know you've rinsed the grain enough - you won't smell the bitter coating at all any longer.

Thanks to Beyond the Plate for this wonderful recipe. I am deeply grateful!

Kale, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 ounces/ 56 grams pine nuts
1/2 pound/ 260 grams kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot (about 2 ounces/50 grams) peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces/ 85 grams dried cranberries
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture about 10 minutes into cooking to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry saute pan over low heat. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Remove the stems of the kale, then stack the leaves and thinly slice. Finely chop the stems as well.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the kale and the cranberries, stir, then leave to cook, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Add the pine nuts, chili flakes (if using) and salt, stir and leave to cook again, covered, for another 5 minutes. If the kale starts to stick to the pan, add some water, a tablespoon at a time. (I use a non-stick skillet which eliminates any concern of, um, stickage...)You want just enough moisture to create steam in the skillet, but not too much to give you a sauce.

Toss the kale mixture and quinoa in a medium bowl and serve immediately, or at room temperature. (My personal preference is to serve this warm!)
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