Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Curry Coconut Hummus

I love hummus. It never lasts long in my apartment. When I know it's hiding in my fridge, I'm likely to sneak into the kitchen after bedtime and eat it straight with a spoon. Hummus lends itself to so many variations that I usually err on the purist's side of simply using tahini, garlic, and lemon juice when I make it. But I recently tasted over ten varieties at a farmer's market stall, with everything from cilantro and eggplant to muhamara-style hummus. I was so wowed by a mild curry hummus that I set off to recreate it at home and voila, you have today's recipe!

My mom has been encouraging me to no longer eat canned food because of the chemicals that might leak from the cans' plastic linings. However, using canned chickpeas allows you to make this recipe in under five minutes and I'm often too lazy to bother with dried beans. But fear not, Eden canned beans are BPA-free and a good choice if you are concerned about using canned products or aren't interested in using dried beans (though I do give directions for doing so below).

Two important notes about ingredients for this recipe. Use 100% real coconut milk and don't opt for the reduced fat version -- it doesn't have enough flavor. Also, I used very fresh curry powder for this recipe. I know that curry powder is one of those spices that can hide unused in dark cupboard corners for years, so depending on the freshness of yours, you might need to add more to the hummus. Just make sure to taste test as you go along!

Curry Coconut Hummus
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas*
  • 1/4 c. 100% real coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 t curry powder
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 t or more kosher salt
  • several dashes cayenne pepper or aleppo chili powder
In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, adding more coconut milk if too thick or more curry powder to punch up the flavor.

*To cook dried chickpeas, soak overnight in 6 cups of water. Drain and add 6 cups of new water to a small pot. Cook for one hour at a low boil until tender. Drain again before using. If you forget to soak the chickpeas, don't worry about it. Just increase your cooking time (it took me about 1 hour 45 minutes).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

333 Shrimp

I spent last week visiting my grandmother in Florida. I associate these trips down to Boca Raton with eating out every night, alternating between the pool by the Intracostal and then the beach, and shopping 'til I drop with Nana at Loehmann's and Bloomingdales. But on my first night there, I spotted a sign for a local farmer's market just off the jostling strip of Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach. My parents and I woke up early Saturday morning and found ourselves momentarily whisked away from the world of beachfront condos to the more real, local Florida: tomatoes, avocados, and baby eggplant from a nearby farm, heritage breed chicken eggs, fresh gooey arepas, organic tea, homemade pickles, and mahi mahi and swordfish that had been caught the day before just 10 miles off the coast. The fish was so fresh and the staff so knowledgeable, we made a detour to Captain Clay and Sons Fish Market. There we picked up mahi mahi and large Florida shrimp for lunch.

When it comes to seafood, I try to do my part to choose sustainable products. The Monterey Bay Aquarium gives excellent advice about best bets for seafood and I try to adhere to their recommendations. As a result, I almost never eat shrimp anymore (the tales of imported shrimp are rather terrifying) except when I can get US-caught or farmed ones. So I jumped for joy at the chance to actually have my Florida prawns and eat them too.

This recipe is almost embarrassingly simple. The shrimp may not be super cheap, but they are worth the splurge. For one pound of shrimp, all you need is three of everything, from minutes of cooking time to tablespoons of seasoning. It will take less than 5 minutes for these beauties to be in your belly. Eat them hot or chilled with a large salad on the side. Make sure to have plenty of paper towels handy!

333 Shrimp
Serves 2 generously
  • 1 lb large US-caught shrimp
  • 3 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3 T water
  • lemon or key lime wedges of serving
In a small pot, place the shrimp, Old Bay, and water. Stir with a fork to cover shrimp in seasoning. The water should just barely cover the bottom of your pan. Place lid on tightly and heat over high heat. Every 30 seconds or so, give the pot a good shake. Cook for about 3 minutes and 30 seconds until shrimp are cooked through. Serve hot or chill in the fridge for an hour before serving. Garnish with citrus.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tiramisu 151

Tiramisu might be one of my favorite desserts of all time. I know that's kind of cliched in our post-Sleepless in Seattle world, but still, I always order it when I'm out. What's surprising about tiramisu is how simple it is to make: store-bought lady fingers dipped in strong espresso, marscapone cheese mixed with rum, orange liqueur, and whipped cream. The flavors meld and intensify the longer it is refrigerated, so this is a perfect make-ahead dessert. You only need to use two bowls and there's booze & chocolate! Need I say more?

A couple of notes: if you don't have an electric beater, it will be tough to make the whipped cream from scratch. An alternative would be to see if you can find some homemade whipped cream at your local ice cream shop or gourmet store. I'm skeptical about what might happen with the canned stuff, but if you try that, let me know! I imagine it would be sweeter, but that might suit some palates.

I'm taking this over to my friend DC's for movie night tonight. Annie Hall + tiramisu = bliss.

Tiramisu 151
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 3 tablespoons Bacardi 151
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 ounces marscapone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup strong brewed espresso, I use instant
  • 16 lady fingers
  • 6 ounces 72% dark chocolate, finely chopped
In a medium bowl, beat Grand Marnier, Bacardi, sugar, and marscapone with an electric hand-held mixer for 1 minute, until well-combined and lightened. In a separate small bowl, beat heavy cream with mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Fold into marscapone. Line a loaf pan with 8 lady fingers dipped in the espresso. Layer on top half the marscapone and then sprinkle with half the chocolate. Repeat with another layer of dipped lady fingers, marscapone, and chocolate. Cover with plastic and chill of as long as possible, ideally overnight.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

I've never been a big fan of breakfast. I rather sleep 10 more minutes and just grab a cup of coffee on my way to school or work. But I've been trying to reform and the only way to do that is to have breakfast become so enticing that I wake up looking forward to it. Here's my favorite of late: avocado, tomato, and lemon mayo with a fried egg. Not only does this sandwich always feel a bit indulgent, but it only takes 5 minutes to make and the price is right. Mere dollars for such a satisfying start to the day.

On that note, I'm going to start adding tags about time and price for the dishes. When I think about the student budget, it encompasses more than just a frugality of funds, but also a squeeze on time. I hope none of the dishes I include on the SE will ever be more than $20 total and will never take more than 30 minutes of active time. Enjoy!

Egg Breakfast Sandwich with Tomato, Avocado, and Lemony Mayo

For each sandwich you will need:
  • 1 English muffin, toasted
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 fried egg
  • 1 thick slice tomato
  • 1 T mayo
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • ample salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking the egg
If you don't have a toaster, throw the English muffin under the broiler in your oven. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over high heat. When hot, pour in about 1 T olive oil. When the olive oil is shiny hot, break in the egg. Cook until whites have thickened but top of the egg is still runny, about 2 minutes. Flip egg and turn off heat. In a small bowl, mix together mayo and lemon zest. When muffin is toasted, use a knife to spread the avocado on one side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with egg, followed by the tomato slice. Salt tomato slice too. Spread lemony mayo on the top muffin half. Voila!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cupboard #2

When: Tuesday, March 2, about 11 AM
Where: Richmond, MA
Who: My parents, physicians, health care activist and poet, respectively
Favorite quick meal: scrambled local egg on whole wheat toast with olive oil and fresh ground pepper (Mom) and Guilin noodles (Dad)