Tuesday, March 15, 2011

All the pretty colors

Chris is able to visit the downtown farmer's market held each Friday. He usually picks up any good organic veg he can find while he's there. He recently found a company that offers their organic produce at the market and they happen to have their farm near where we live.

They feature a program where you can either select a few items for pick up each week or they choose the items for you depending on the harvest at that time. We have been selecting 5 items for $12.00. On Wednesday Chris goes on their site, makes our selection and then on Friday he picks up our harvest box of goodies at the farmer's market while also perhaps picking up any other nice looking veg he may see for sale.

They also offer other packages, largest is 14 items for $35.00. That is not bad considering it is all organic and freshly harvested. It all depends on the bills and needs of the week on what harvest box we can select.

I wanted you to see how beautiful their rainbow chard was. I felt kind of bad cooking it, they were so amazing and colorful. The last two batches of kale we got were so deep green and beautiful, I chopped them up for salad. I couldn't bring myself to cook them. It was like they were telling me to eat them while they were nice and crispy. I think I have a problem. I'm sure I do.
Holy cow! I want to scream to the world about this dish! It was just brilliant. Martha does it again with this Red lentil & squash curry soup recipe. You must try this recipe and you must make your own curry powder. Don't use the stuff in the jar. Make your own. The flavor is so much more vibrant. My only change to the recipe was the addition of collard greens. I had them, had to use them and just threw them in.

Red Lentil & Squash Curry Soup

2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 recipe Curry Powder (see below)
12 ounces red lentils
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
214 1/2-ounce cans low-sodium canned, or homemade, chicken stock, skimmed of fat (you can also use vegetable broth)
2 cups water

Combine salt and curry powder; set aside. Rinse lentils; set aside. Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add curry mixture; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, garlic, and ginger; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add squash; cook until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add stock and water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in lentils; cook until soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Recipe for the Curry Powder (Makes about 2 tablespoons):

2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add coriander and cumin. Toast seeds, tossing constantly, until fragrant. Transfer to spice grinder. Add cayenne, turmeric, and cinnamon. Pulse to combine. Use immediately.

There are countless varieties of curry combinations. Garam Masala is pretty popular and is used as an ingredient in other curries.

Garam Masala

  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.
Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

I am going to try this Maharaja Curry recipe and let you know how it goes. From what I can see from the ingredients. I'm sure it will be mouth watering. I think I'll try some shrimp or extra firm tofu instead of the chicken.

Maharaja Curry (allrecipes.com)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
5 peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cumin seed and cook until they start to pop, 20 to 45 seconds. Stir in onion, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

Puree the mixture with the tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan, and add the chicken. Simmer gently until the chicken has cooked, about 20 minutes; add water as needed while cooking to maintain desired consistency.

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