Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inside Out Potato & Cabbage Rolls

So the only reason why I am calling this an inside out cabbage roll is because I have posted a similar recipe in the past that uses these exact ingredients except you are stuffing cabbage leaves with potato and serving with tomato sauce. I reversed these steps for a quick meal that didn’t require any bake time.

On a side note I want to mention that although I don’t have cable I have recently been watching the Masterchef series on YouTube . I will summarize in case any of you have never heard of Masterchef before. Basically 50 amateur home cooks with no chef training are picked from thousands of applicants to be part of a competition with one winner who will take home $250,000 along with a cookbook deal. Each episode they eliminate a few people until they are down to the final two and then of course the winner. I like to see the inspiring dishes that these people produce in a very short period of time and with only a few minutes to design recipes based on select ingredients. But I think the drama behind any Gordon Ramsay TV show is completely unnecessary. Which is one of the reasons why I don’t subscribe to cable!

Anyways, the basic idea behind this recipe is to whip up some mashed potatoes (literally!), braise some cabbage and make a quick tomato sauce. Serve them up on a plate and you will basically have what is displayed below. I would like to point out that it tastes better than it looks! Oh, and don't forget to add some Parmesan to the potatoes.

Here is a good tip that I learned in one of my cooking classes at the French Mint….you can keep mashed potatoes warm in a bowl covered with plastic wrap over a slow simmering pot of water. Also, to achieve the perfect mashed potatoes use a ricer. You’re mashed potatoes will often end up with a gummy texture when using a hand held or KitchenAid blender.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cauliflower, Pea and Red Lentil Dahl

Oh Summer where art thou? Must you leave so soon? You leave us with a dreary cloud so full of relentless rain that one can hardly imagine what it was like to have such warmth and cheer that only you can tame.

When the weather changes so does the selection of local produce. I can't say I am one to complain as I find myself looking forward to trying out some of the recipes I have been saving for the change in season. The big bins of colorful squash remind me of the beautiful colors of Autumn leaves. Did I ever tell you that Autumn is my favorite season? I have already expressed how I find peace with rain so you can imagine how I feel about the cozy feeling associated with all things Autumn! There is something about this season that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a scarf and wool jacket and jump into a pile of leaves like we all did growing up! I fondly remember running through groves of Autumn colored trees with my little brother trailing behind; our heads held high as the leaves sailed around us.

Weather aside, what's for dinner? Well since the book I am currently reading is set partially in India (no it's not Eat, Pray, Love...I read that a few weeks ago) and refers to authentic vegetarian curries and dahls I was inspired to cook up a dahl myself. I have included a recipe for the curry powder I whipped up for this dish in an attempt to make this more authentic.

Note: Use the back of a spoon to peel ginger. I learned this nifty trick at a cooking class at the French Mint. Also, be sure to have all your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking!

Curry Powder
  • 1 tbsp corriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cardamon seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
  1. Toast whole spices in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes or until spices become fragrant. 
  2. Pulse toasted seeds in a clean coffee grinder until you have achieved a fine powder.
  3. Pour into a small dish and stir in turmeric.
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • curry powder (use the entire yield from the recipe above)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 kaffir leaves 
  • 1 small cauliflower or half of a medium head, sliced into small florets (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  1. Heat 3 tbsp of peanut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and shallots until tender and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add grated ginger and serrano pepper, and saute for another minute. Add curry powder and garlic and cook for 30 seconds stirring constantly.
  2. Stir in potatoes, broth, lentils and kaffir leaves. Cover pot and raise heat to high, boil for 1 minute. Stir, and lower heat to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower, stirring to coat with lentils. Add more water as needed. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Stir in peas and cook for 5 more minutes until cauliflower becomes tender (but not mushy).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime juice and salt to taste.
  5. Serve over brown basmati rice or with a side of naan.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lemon White Chocolate Mousse

There is a magnet on my fridge that reads "Life is short. Eat dessert first." Although I don't usually eat dessert first, I like to live by a similar motto. Balance in my opinion is the key to good health.

I know a lot of people that put themselves through extreme diets only to end up caving in and over indulging in all the forbidden foods. It's no secret that sugar should not be consumed in copious amounts. And it's a good idea to find healthy, natural alternatives for your daily sugar cravings. But I don't see the harm in eating delectable desserts every now and than. In fact, I think it's a joy in life to do so.

So without further ado I present to you yet another heavenly dessert. This one is tricky because it presents itself as light and airy. But is actually very rich and very high in fat. So serve in small dishes!

The pairing of white chocolate and lemon mousse is simply genius. I have made lemon mousse in the past and found it to be too sweet. So this is a perfect way of incorporating the tangy sweetness of lemon with the smooth and soft flavor of white chocolate.