Friday, January 15, 2021

Rice Is Nice With Cauliflower And Potatoes. When I Give Regal Rice A Test Drive.

   Waaaaay back in February of last year, and it seems longer ago than that, I started laying in supplies for Quarantine. The minute I heard Dr. Messonnier say "a disruption of everyday life might be severe" I thought...uh oh...where's my yeast? Actually that wasn't my first thought, my first thought was where's my toilet paper!

   I grew up in the house with an ex-military, turned first responder. My dad was a fireman in SF, later lieutenant of the Rescue Squad EMTs and so life was all about being prepared, always sitting in the very back of theaters, always noticing where the exits are when I enter a room, you get the drill and yeah, I got the drill. We had fire drills at home, we practiced dropping out of the upstairs windows, dad first then mom helping us out the window, and finally her turn to hang on and drop into my fathers arms. 

   What's that got to do with toilet paper?  A lot. My dads' family were immigrants and so they knew how to prepare and stock up for almost anything cheaply. We had cupboards of on sale TP, paper towels, a whole bunch of off brand stuff but we were prepped! It's something I was raised with even before becoming a Girl Scout, Be Prepared. So back in February I checked my larder. Since I cook a LOT of Indian food I was stocked with lentils, rices, spices, atta flour, and of course rice.

   I got Covid early in March and so I wasn't doing any cooking for about two months. When I emerged from my isolation I was all stocked up and ready to go, but cooking everyday, all meals, you run through stuff fast and that's when I discovered it was hard to get rice in the quantities I wanted, and I wanted the good stuff. I took what I could get, and then the people at  Regal Harvest reached out to me and asked me if I'd like to try their rice. I was just about to search out more Basmati rice since the pantry was getting low, of course I said yes!

   I expected a small sample pack but was surprised and delighted when I received a large bag. I opened it and was greeted by the lovely golden color and aroma of good Basmati Rice. I'd really been missing that ! So, what to make first? All I could think of was "shelf stable," the vegetables that last the longest in my cold storage, and what I had in the garden. And so....a very simple dish, which makes for an easy  lunch, or as a side dish for any sort of meal.

Rice With Cauliflower And Potatoes

Here's What You Need:

1 cup of Basmati rice

2 Tbs  vegetable oil, butter or ghee ( I use coconut oil)

t tsp cumin seed

2 bay leaves

1 inch cinnamon stick

1 black cardamom pod

4 black peppercorns

5 whole cloves

1 medium red onion thinly sliced

1 yukon gold potato peeled and cut into 1/2 pinch cubes

1/2 of a medium sized cauliflower, cut into small florets 

1 tsp turmeric

1 and 1/2 tsps kashmiri chili powder (if you don't have it try a mix of cayenne and paprika) 

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp kosher salt

Here's What To Do:

put the rice in a bowl, rinse it in cold water about  3 times and then drain it.

Add three cups of water to the bowl of drained rice and let it sit for about 20 minutes

then drain it into a strainer

 Heat the oil or butter or ghee in a medium sized pot or pan over medium heat.

When the butter or oil gets hot, add in the cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, peppercorns, and cloves. When they become fragrant add in the onion.

Saute the onion until it's lightly browned (about 3 or 4 minutes)

Add in the potato and cauliflower.

Saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

Now add in the soaked rice...

...the turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, salt, and stir.

MIx everything together well.

Add two cups of hot water.

And stir again.

Bring everything to a boil, then cover the pot or pan turn the heat down to low and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until your rice is tender. 

Serve it up with some chopped fresh cilantro

This was a great main meal for lunch. The next day I took the left overs and mixed in some Indian spiced shrimp and bingo! This time I had dinner.

   What I love about this dish was the fact that it took very little time to get lunch ready, always important on a work day. The ingredients are readily available. If you don't have black cardamom don't sweat it there's really no substitute and the dish will be just fine anyway. It's a perfect answer to using up those shelf stable or rather cold drawer stuff like potatoes and cauliflower. If your cauliflower has been shelf stable for a while, don't worry any random brown spots can be trimmed away. I hate wasting food, especially when we're trying to get the most use out of what we've got, so I found his guy on the internet who has a pretty interesting article on his site... Toss or Keep 

There's a lot of knowledge there if you want to get the most out of what you've got to work with as my grandma used to say. Though I don't know if she was talking about beauty or vegetables. The Regal Harvest rice was tender and delicious, and that fabulous Basmati aroma filled the kitchen. I'm already planning some more dishes with Regal Harvest and I'm very grateful for getting such wonderful rice to play with during my pandemic cooking.

 Coming up next, hopefully a break in our cold and drippy weather will allow me to fire up the tandoor oven without needing an umbrella. Stay tuned and follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Yes, Creamy Vegan Chocolate Pudding , And Is It Too Early For a New Years Resolution...Asking For A Friend

    Well, we're already almost at the end of by all accounts...the worst year ever...almost. I'm not going to count all the millennia of volcanic eruptions, dinosaur destruction, war, famine and all the rest. I'm just talking in recent memory, okay, my recent memory if we're being exact. I've had bad years just like everyone else.  Cancer, writers strikes, injuries, family deaths, personal disappointments, breakups, you name it. But you know that old saying when people are excited and happy about something,.. "it's like all  my birthdays came at once" ? Yeah, well this year is the opposite of that. 

   Speaking of birthdays I spent mine this last year in isolation with covid. I was sick for two months and change, but I did emerge from the other side alive, only a little bit worse for wear, and I didn't manage to infect anyone else in the family. I had two hospital visits, one to the ER in March at the start and another for them to do an endoscopy at the end of it all in May. I was very lucky.

   On the other hand, I did start baking sourdough made form my own starter. From scratch. Since I've been back on my feet, I've been back to work writing, and we haven't had an "outside meal" even takeout since February so it's been hard to blog when it seems like I'm either at the stove or in the office every day, all day. My New Years Resolution therefore is to get back to posting more.

    I had big plans for this year, and when the shutdown happened I thought, great, I can post a lot more recipes, there will be more time. And then in the first week of March I got covid and so was sidelined for two months, and then it was hard to get back to cooking. I was tired. And when we went back at work and I was writing all day, then cooking what seemed like all day, the energy to post was gone.

   But now, I'm back and I'm determined to share a lot of the stuff I've been experimenting with during this plague time, and this recipe is one I spotted online in the NYT, and since  it featured Oat Milk, (my new favorite) I had to try it and I'm passing this great recipe along. I buy Oatly Oat Milk which is shelf stable in my fridge for months at a time so I can have this any time at all. Did I mention it makes up super quickly?  It does. Which is handy because I've found it disappears just as quickly.


Oat Milk Chocolate Pudding


Here's What You Need :

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa. I try and find the best I can, usually its Valrhona cocoa

3 and 1/2 TBs corn starch

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

2 cups unsweetened oat milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 oz chocolate chips or just plain chopped chocolate (dairy free or regular depending on how you want to go with this)

Here's What To Do:

 Assemble your ingredients.

The first time I made this pudding I used Oatlys Barista Blend because that's all I had on hand, after that I just used regular unsweetened oat milk, and  it worked beautifully.

Sift your cocoa and cornstarch through a sieve into a medium heavy saucepan

Stir in sugar and salt using a silicone spatula or spoon.

Add in 1/4 of the milk and stir until the mixture in the pot forms a paste.

Like this.

When you have your paste, start slowly stirring in the rest of the milk.

Cook the pudding mix over a medium heat, stirring constantly with the spatula. The mixture will turn thick and bubbly. This takes about 6-8 minutes

Take the pot off the heat and add in the vanilla...

...and your chopped chocolate bits.

Stir the chocolate bits into the hot pudding mix.

When it's all melted together, pour it into serving dishes and press some cling film onto the top to keep it for forming a skin.

Pop it into the fridge...and bingo. You are done!

As soon as it chills, enjoy.

I like serving this with a nice glass of cutting chai made with Assam tea flavored with ginger, cardamom, cloves, and some other spices. I've lately been buying my tea from a grower in India VahdamTeas

If you are into tea, I've found them to be excellent. Where I live its difficult to get good loose leaf tea  and a couple of quick glasses of chai in the afternoon are the perfect pick me up.

Hoping everyone has a safe, and sane Holiday season and New Year. We'll be eating and skyping with family, and I'll be popping up with more recipes, more often. And I'll also be firing up the old tandoor on a  regular basis. So the coming year should be one of feasting and hopefully as we get vaccinated we'll all be able to gather again with family and friends. At least the amount of dishes and gear I'll be washing after Christmas dinner will be a lot less this year, or so I keep telling myself.

 Here's to a MUCH BETTER 2021 for us, everyone! And as my mom used to say back in the 90's......

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dessert? In a Tandoor Oven? You Betcha, In My Pandemic Diwali Feast. Part: 3

Usually, we have a lot of folks over during Diwali for a big feed. This year however, plans are changed due to Covid. This isn't the first time a planned Diwali feast has been scuttled. Once there were heavy rains and a power outage, twice there were wildfire evacuations, and once my stove died. This year of course, we're all staying close to home because of Covid so my big dinner, which usually looks something like this.... now more like something in the Soup For One Lonely Guy universe. It's just us chickens, or rather just us, and a Siberian Husky.

Luckily, I now have a Tandoor oven and that makes all the difference. So I whipped up a multi course dinner for just family in my backyard tandoor and it made a simple meal special. I was even able to cook my dessert in it. Dessert? In a tandoor? Yes indeedy. One can't just plunge anything into hot coals and fire and expect it to come out dessert, but there are certain things that just work and one of them is pineapple.

As someone who grew up in an Italian household, my experience with pineapple was definitely NOT on pizzas. Pineapple, or rather badly burnt pineapple was what we usually lifted off my moms Easter ham with tongs. No one wanted to eat it. It resembled some sort of burnt rubber gasket, and sort of tasted like that too. It was enough to put me off pineapple for a good many years. Then I discovered it didn't have to be like that. Pineapple could be delicious cold, in ice creams or sorbets, as cake fillings, or in a chutney. So, when I had the idea of putting pineapple near fire and coals again, that old childhood trauma came back. I wasn't going to deliberately incinerate a delicious piece of fruit. I was NOT my mother.

That's around the time I noticed an intriguing dish called Tandoori Ananas, or Pineapple, glazed and roasted in a tandoori oven. Nothing wrong with that! But I was still scared about cooking a dessert in a flaming hot pit. So of course I did what I always do when I'm scared of something, I try to do it. I'm glad I did. This can be made on a grill, or under a broiler, but dang, that tandoor oven really does the job. And it's easy too. As easy as Pineapple.

Tandoori Ananas


Here's what you need:

1 Pineapple

1 star anise, broken into pieces

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 Tbs of honey

1 pinch of chili powder. (I used Kashmiri chili)


Here's What To Do:

First cut open your pineapple. 

Twist off the top.

Split it in half lengthwise.Trim the core off, and cut around the pineapple meat.

Then cut horizontally and make chunks. It's pretty easy.

Break out the star anise. And break one into pieces and set it aside.

Poke a piece of star anise into each chunk of pineapple.

Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan on the stove.

When they're toasted, crush them  in a mortar and pestle, and put them in a bowl together with the honey...

...and the chili

Thread the pieces of pineapple on a skewer...

...and brush them with the spice honey mixture.

Next, start your engines...that is fire up your tandoor oven, grill or broiler. Your tandoor should be at about 450 degrees.

Place the pineapple in the tandoor oven... slid the cover closed...

...and cook. Keep an eye on it and rotate your skewers, this cooks fast! Actually everything in a tandoor cooks fast which is why it's so much fun to use.

When it starts to char a bit, it's done.

Take it out of the oven, brush it with the glaze once again and slide it off the skewers onto your plate.I'd say right into your pie hole but these suckers are hot., so be careful.

I served this with some homemade Rose Pistachio ice cream. I make this ice cream frequently but I'd never done this with it before.The pineapple and the rose and pistachio really worked well together. Totally festive even if it was just us!

So there it is. My pandemic Diwali Feast  made entirely in my Homdoor Tandoori Oven

I'll be making this again and I'm not waiting for Diwali to roll around to do it! Coming up next, a vegan chocolate pudding made from oat milk, and some other quarantine treats for all the holidays coming soon.

Meanwhile, follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

When Eggplant Is More Than An Just An Emoji! Diwali Feasting in The Time of A Pandemic. Part 2...

We grow a LOT of what we eat around here. One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant. In my Italian-American family we ate a LOT of eggplant. It was cheap and extremely versatile. We put it in sauces, on pizzas, we Parmed it, and it was always a great meaty substitute for the real deal when  things were tight and payday seemed a million miles away. 

Each year I plant about 3 or 4 different varieties of eggplant. I plant round Thai eggplant, little finger eggplants, classic Italian eggplant, Chinese eggplant and of course, Indian eggplant. I love all of them and while most can be switched up to cover almost any recipe, one of my favorites is the Japanese eggplant. I thought I'd had it a million different ways and then 30 years ago I started cooking Indian food and discovered another million ways I'd missed. Then a Year ago I was given a Homdoor Tandoori Oven and for the first time I cooked eggplant tandoori style. Wow!

This is a very simple dish, using a few basic spices, no marinating, just a salt soak for the eggplant, and you're done. It can also be roasted on the grill... but hey... once you try this out of a tandoor oven you'll not want to go back. I used Japanese eggplants for this dish but you can use any sort, just cut it to shape.


Tandoori Eggplant

Here's What You Need:

3 Japanese eggplants,  cut into 1 and 1/2 inch wedges.

1 Tbs of vinegar... but NOT Red Wine Vinegar. This recipe calls for something different. I'd recommend, Malt Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar, Banana Vinegar, or what I used.... Pineapple Vinegar from Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo

1 cup of thick Greek yogurt 

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 Tbs grated fresh ginger

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 and 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil

1 red onion cut into thin slices

1 tsp sugar

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

fresh mint leaves

lime wedges 


Here's What To Do:

Cut the  eggplants into 1 and 1/2 inch chunks. Place them in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 Tbs of salt and let the eggplant sit int the salt for 1 and 12 hours. this removes any bitterness from the eggplant. 

After it's salt nap, take the eggplant chunks and rinse the salt off thoroughly.

Pat the eggplant pieces dry and let them set a bit while you mix up the marinade.

Mix up your vinegar...

...tomato paste...



... paprika and oil...

...and blend all of  it into the yogurt...

...brush your skewers with oil...

...and thread the eggplant pieces on to the skewers.

This is when I lit my tandoor, you want the heat hot hot hot for cooking these. They cook very quickly. The Homdoor Tandoor gets super hot quite fast. If you're using a regular BBQ you want to light it up about now.

While your fire is getting to the right temperature, time to pickle the onions.

Take your red onion rings and place them in a bowl with the white wine vinegar,  sugar, and 1 tsp of salt.

Stir everything around and let the onion slices cure while you are cooking.

When your Tandoor, or grill is at about 400 degrees F, time to get cooking.

Baste the eggplant chunks with the yogurt marinade...

...and angle the skewers into your tandoor oven, or place them on the grill

Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Rotate the skewers so they cook evenly on all sides.

After about 5 minutes or so check them if you're using a tandoor oven.. these things cook FAST. On a regular BBQ grill it might take between 10 and 20 minutes. There's no set time, it depends on the heat of your fire.

When they're cooked through and nicely charred, take the eggplant out of the tandoor.

Get ready to serve it up.

Slide the eggplant chunks off the skewer

Serve them with the pickled red onion slices, and a scattering of fresh mint.

Squeeze a lime wedge over the eggplant and you are good to go!!!

this is so easy and quick that I know it's going to be a tandoor staple around here since I have so many eggplants. You can serve this with any meal, American or Indian cuisine. It's a great addition to any sort of BBQ, and if you want to make a total tandoori meal, add more veg dishes, rice, and chapattis for a vegetarian meal. This is also the perfect veg side dish that compliments any entree meat or fish.

  I served this with  tandoori chicken

a cucumber and dal salad 

... chapattis...

...and of course....dessert, also cooked in the Tandoor, that is coming up next! Tandoor Pineapple with rose pistachio ice cream. A nearly all Tandoor meal, so stick around, Diwali starts on  Nov 14th, there's going to be alot of good eating around here, even if it's just us this year. Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori


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