Sunday, August 8, 2010
She sat there in the fading Marin sunshine. It was late afternoon and some wisps of fog whipped across the sky. She was all bright purple with a swirl of tight emerald leaves. A friend of ours, Mr. X we'll call him sidled up to her. He stared admiringly.
"She's a real knock out isn't she?" a voice said.
"Uh. yeah," Mr. X said, embarrassed to have been caught eyeing her.
"She just got into town, there's not another one like her. She's special!" said the Farmer. "Why don't you take her home. Only 7 bucks"
"Isn't that a lot for a cauliflower?"
"You ever seen a purple one before?"
Mr. X took a deep breath and reached for his wallet.
Side note here: Mr. X is a very, very good friend of ours, a world traveler and a frequent guest at our table. He's always my marker for Indian food. I am always asking "is this as good as your friends' wife makes in Trivandrum??"
When he bought the 7 dollar cauliflower, he had me in mind. He brought it over to our house and made me close my eyes while he took it out of a bag and put it on the kitchen table.
"Ever see anything like this before?!!"
I pulled open the refrigerator door and took out the cauliflower that I had bought the same day from the guy down the road for 99 cents.
So that's the origin of the 4 act Indian lunch. When someone gives you a 7 dollar cauliflower you HAVE to cook it, and cook it well.
I decided to blend it with my 99 cent purple special to have enough cauliflower to go around. The great thing about this purple cauliflower is that unlike the blue/purple, non-green beans, this stuff kept its' brilliant color even after cooking. Under the knife it was gorgeous.
Tropical Traditions Organic Shredded Coconut I was sent and I was eager to show it off. The purple cauliflower was the perfect background.
The dish I had in mind was a simple Cauliflower Poriyal, done with chilies and mustard seed. This dish is great because it cooks up in about 10 minutes or so, leaving plenty of time to take care of all the other stuff. Here's how to do it:
Wash, dry and cut 1 large or two small cauliflower into little florets..
In a deep skillet or kadhai heat about 3 Tbs of coconut oil. When it's heated up toss in:
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
When the mustard seeds start to snap, crackle and pop add in:
1 tsp of urad dal
In a minute or so the dal will turn a nice reddish color. When that happens add in:
2 whole dried red chilies
6 hot whole fresh green chilies
When the chilies start to turn a darker color, put in the lovely purple cauliflower.
Give it a stir or two.
Then add 3/4 tsp of salt and about 6 Tbs of water.
Cover the pan, turn the heat down and let the magic work.
Cook everything for about 5 minutes, see if the cauliflower is tender, take the lid off the pan and let any liquid cook off. We don't want soggy and purple, we want crisp and purple.
When it's all nice and tender mix in:
2 Tbs of shredded coconut.
Big Old Warning!!
DO NOT eat the whole chilies!!!! You may be tempted but don't. If someone insists they can handle it, you might want them to sign an affidavit first, and get out a fire hose.
So there it is. When all was said and done the pricey mingled with the cheap and no one knew the difference....That's Cauliwood!
If you'd like to score some of Tropical Traditions amazing Organic Shredded Coconut so that you can try this dish yourself, I'll be giving away a container just like the one they sent me to review. Check out my blog tomorrow for the rules on how to get this for yourself.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Usually I fix cauliflower with mustard seed and cilantro with this chicken dish, but this time I wanted to do something different. I had some buttermilk in the house and a cauliflower recipe that I'd yet to try. It seemed like the prefect opportunity to experiment with a recipe from Yamuna Devis book Vegetarian Table:India .
This is the perfect fast dish for cauliflower sales. Here's how you do it. Take one cauliflower, wash it and break it into small florets.
In a mortar or spice grinder mix:
1 Tbs of coriander seed
1 tsp of cumin seed
1/2 tsp of fennel seed
Crush them up.
In a deep skillet or kadhai heat 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.
when it's hot, toss in a 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin little strips.
Stir fry it for about 30 seconds then toss in the crushed spices along with:
1/4 tsp of cayenne
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 Tbs of sugar and a bit of water to keep things moving.
Quickly add in the cauliflower and stir fry it for a minute or two getting it covered in spices. Then lower the heat, put a lid on things and let it cook for about 15 minutes or so. Give the pan a
shake every now and then to make sure nothing is sticking.
When the cauliflower is tender, add salt and pepper to taste. Then warm up 1/2 cup of buttermilk and mix it into the cauliflower.
Sprinkle the whole thing with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and you're done! That is the simplicity of Tandoori cooking. Just think of it as a barbecue, because that is what it is. The dishes should be fresh and complimentary to what you're serving...also easy does it every time.
Besides how to get my mitts on good tandoori without a "for reals" Tandoori oven, the other obsession around our house is Basketball. If you haven't figured it out by now we love Basketball. Especially Lakers Basketball. I know I must sound like a Northern California traitor to be loving the Lakers. I really shouldn't. All my family history is against it.
My family came to California in 1848, before it was part of the US. I'm a 5th generation San Franciscan and by rights should only be rooting for the SF Giants and the 49ers and of course the Sonoma Valley High School teams..Go Dragons!
However, years of living in Los Angeles turned us into dyed in the wool Lakers Fans. Even though we're now living in the Wine Country of Sonoma..definitely Northern California, the loyalty to LA Basketball remains.
Of course the greatest rivalry in all basketball is the blood feud between the Lakers and the Celtics. Right now that is the battle that's being fought for the championship, so we've been riveted to the TV for each and every playoff game.
When it comes to basketball, my superstitious Guidette kicks in and I get weird about a lot of stuff. What food is served for luck, where I watch the game, and who watches the game with me. Understand, I do have powers when it comes to Lakers Baketball. I feel that I'm controlling the outcome of the game right from my living room.
So on Sunday, I cooked an Indian dinner for a friend who Alan and I thought brought luck. The last time the Lakers won, he happened to show up at the house unannounced and the Lakers kicked Boston ass! So last Sunday there he was again, sitting on our couch, and Rajon Rondo hit basket after basket and Ron Artest could not catch a break ! The Lakers were beaten badly by Boston. Obviously it was his fault!
For last nights' game I felt we needed big mojo. When another friend mentioned that he owned a Kobe Bryant autographed basketball we said...bring it! That would be the totem we needed to insure a Laker victory.
So the ball was placed in a prominent position, I baked some pizzas and it was game on!
The Lakers won by a comfortable margin (22 points!) and now the series is tied and Thursday is Do or Die Day at our house.
Last night we celebrated with ice cream sundaes, homemade vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream out of a can!
Patsy, who doesn't care when I make real whipped cream, always comes running at the sound of the canned stuff. She was rewarded as were we all in a great victorious mood! It was whipped cream for everybody!!
Tomorrow, the Lakers meet the Celtics in the Final Showdown..I'm already planning the victory feast.
Canned whipped cream for all canids!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Let's get this up front right now. I am cheap. If I can get a bargain, I do. I love nothing more than something that I can get for 99 cents. Unless I can get it for 89 cents ! Make it organic and 89 cents and I'm in, baby! This was the situation with cauliflower the other day. I don't care if I don't particularly like a vegetable (of course I love cauliflower) for 89 cents I can make it more lovable than Johnny Depp crossed with puppies.
I was also looking for something that would be easy to fix. Last weekend we were jurors at the Sonoma International Film Festival and then bright and early Tuesday morning Alan had cataract surgery. The surgery came about because two years ago he got a torn retina and had surgery to fix that. That repair caused a premature cataract to form which the opthamologist said happens quite frequently in those cases. I took him in for laser surgery, a fairly quick and clean procedure. Still, it didn't leave me a whole lot of time for cooking or blogging. Thus, the cauliflower.
One of the cookbooks that Paula Wolfert gave me for my birthday was India, The Vegetarian Table by Yamuna Devi who happens to be one of my favorite Indian cookbook authors. There I found a great new dish that I could make with my 89 cent organic cauliflower. Here's my adaptation of it.
In a spice grinder or good old mortar and pestle, mash up:
1 Tbs of coriander seed
1 tsp of cumin seed
1/2 tsp of fennel seed
Set it aside.
Cut a large cauliflower into small florets. The pieces should be smaller than usual, little buds of cauliflower.
In a skillet or kadhai heat :
2 Tbs of vegetable oil and a bit of butter for taste
A 1 inch piece of ginger thinly julienned
Stir fry that for about 30 seconds and then toss in the spice mixture along with
1/4 tsp of kashmiri chili (substitute 1/b tsp cayenne plus 1/8 tsp of paprika)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 Tbs of sugar
And a tsp or two of water
Stir the cauliflower around to coat it with the spice mixture for about 3 minutes then lower the heat and Put a lid on the pan.
When the cauliflower is cooked season it with salt and pepper to taste then add in:
1/2 cup of warm yogurt or buttermilk