My mom observed to me the other day that my posts had been shorter this winter. And it is true, because I seem to be perennially behind. I make a particular dish or dessert, and I fall asleep composing various observations about it in my head–but then I don’t sit down to write the actual post until 1-2 weeks later, by which time all I can remember is that it was yummy. Which is hardly poetic. And it does not help that I have always, whether we are talking about high school, college, law school or this blog, done my best writing late at night. But Alex started school this year, meaning I have to haul my butt out of bed every morning way earlier than my natural bio-rhythms would like.
Are other people this thrown by their kids starting kindergarten? Although to be fair–and I have always tried to avoid this blog becoming a long litany of what new germ I am fighting off this week–it has been a rough fall/winter with the appendectomy in Sepetember followed by, as of tonight, 5 rounds of antibiotics. It has just been germy as hell around here! But anyway, when you combine the germs with the new schedule, I just seem to be behind on everything, especially things I prefer doing at night. The trip to Disney World got me a week closer to actually writing about dishes right after I make them. That puts me still a week behind.
And the worst thing about the germy fatigue I’ve been fighting off is that Alex came home yesterday and announced that she no longer wanted to be a paleontologist or artist (2 long standing goals) but instead wanted to stay home, bake and take naps.
YIKES. I mean yay for baking, but stay home and take naps? I told her taking care of kids was more work than that (although it is true I take the occasional nap) and she informed me she did not need the kids, she just needed a husband. DOUBLE YIKES. Now my mom was a SAHM who took the occasional (but much less frequent) nap and loved to bake–but I don’t remember ever feeling like my goal should be to have a husband who just took care of me. For now we are ignoring this insane pronouncement, but it sure gave me a jolt!
Anyway, I guess one way to catch up on the blogging at least is to give you a twofer. We had some dinner guests a week or so ago, and I made them Indian food. Indian food is very hard to do entirely in one pot for some reason. It always ends up feeling like you need a veggie that is separate from the protein even though they are both curries with a lot going on. So I made a fish curry and accompanied it with a cauliflower dish-and while both were great, the cauliflower was spectacularly unique in my experience. They both came from a new cookbook. India: The Cookbook, by Pushpesh Pant, that I am loving so much I am going to reserve talking about it for another day, when I can give it a proper review.
- 1 small head (approx 500 g) of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
- 4 potatoes, parboiled and peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (I used baking potatoes but I am sure you can use any, just make sure you parboil them so they are partially cooked but still firm)
- 1 t ground turmeric
- 4 T vegetable oil
- 4 cloves
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 2-3 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 T minced or grated fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium-large onions, finely chopped
- 1 t cayenne or paprika
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 t sugar (I accidentally left out)
- 3 oranges–remove the zest with a peeler (be sure not to peel the white) and then peel the oranges and cut them into bite sized segments
- fresh green chile peppers, to taste, minced
- salt to taste
- Place the cauliflower and parboiled and prepped potatoes in a large bowl. Toss with the turmeric until evenly coated. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan over high heat. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom pods and cinnamon stick to the oil in the pan (add a little more oil if you need to). Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another 3 minutes. Add the orange peel, sugar, ground ginger, cayenne or paprika, and cumin. Toss to coat–be sure that the spices to not burn–add a few teaspoons of water if need be. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the cauliflower and potatoes back into the pan. Toss to mix with a pinch of salt to taste. Add ⅔ of the bite sized orange segments. Add ½ cup of water and mix well. Cover the lid and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- About 5 minutes before the dish is cooked, add the green chile pepper ((I left out because my kids cannot take heat). Taste for additional salt. Before serving garnish with the remaining orange segments.
- 2¼ lbs firm white fish fillets, cut into pieces (I used mahi mahi)
- 1 t ground turmeric
- 3-4 medium-large onions, sliced
- 1 T minced or grated ginger
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 2-3 inch cinnamon sticks
- 7 cloves
- 8 green cardamom pods
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 t black peppercorns
- 2¼ cups whole Greek yogurt
- ¾ cups vegetable oil (yes it is a lot of oil-this is not diet food–although you could start with less and add more as you need it)
- 2 t ground coriander
- 1 t cayenne or paprika
- salt to taste
- cilantro for garnish
- minutes before beginning, place the fish in a shallow dish or container and rub all over with the ground turmeric. Set in the fridge to chill until you need it.
- Place the onion, ginger and garlic into a food processor and puree into a paste (add water if necessary but I did not need to). Set aside.
- Place the cinnamon, 3 cloves 3 green cardamom pods and all of the black cardamom pods into a spice grinder. Grind to make your own masala for this dish. (I accidentally used ALL of the spices and it was fine). Whisk the masala into the yogurt and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium heat with the remaining whole spices (so I skipped this). Stir fry for 1 minute, until they are fragrant. Add the onion puree and cook for 6 minutes, until it is starting to caramelize. Add the ground coriander and cayenne or paprika with some salt to taste. Add the fish and cook them for about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and slowly stir, by the spoonful, the yogurt mixture into the curry. Once all of the yogurt is in, cover the pot and cook for 3 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and oil floats to the surface. Taste for salt and garnish with cilantro before serving.
Affiliate links were used in this post, but only to link to items I would be discussing and linking to in any case.