Chole Saag

Mark’s been sick this week and wasn’t up for dinner tonight. Long-time readers may know that when Mark doesn’t eat dinner, dinner is Indian! I’d been planning a nice autumn meal of seitan, kale, and delicata squash before he announced he wasn’t hungry, so I decided to save it for tomorrow instead of eating it alone. But then I eyed up the kale and considered how much I’d been looking forward to eating it…so I didn’t put it away.

Like a lot of my Indian meals, because they are generally impromptu affairs born of Mark’s refusal of dinner, this recipe was made up on the fly using ingredients I had on hand and needed to use up. I’d done a really smart thing Sunday afternoon after returning home from LA: I cooked up a pound of dried chickpeas, reserving some for salads, and freezing the rest. I also cooked up a large batch of rice and portioned it into single serving sizes, which were also frozen, ready for me to grab for a quick meal down the road. Tonight that quick meal was realized.

Chole Saag

1/2 large or 1 small onion, small dice
about 1″ of ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, chopped into fairly small pieces
8 oz spinach, also chopped into fairly small pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water, plus additional (I start with 1/2 cup broth and add plain water)
salt to taste (I used Indian black salt, but regular old salt is fine)
asafoetida to taste (optional; I love the stuff)
lemon wedges, for serving

In a large pan, pot, or wok, heat some oil over medium high heat, then add the onions, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, turmeric, garam masala, and asafoetida if desired. Cook until soft, then add the kale. Stir and cook down slightly, then add the spinach. Stir and cook down again, then reduce heat to medium and add about 1/2 cup broth or water and the chickpeas. Cook for about 20 minutes, adding 1/4 cup of water or broth periodically if it looks dry. Salt to taste. Serve over basmati rice with lemon wedges.

Since I didn’t take prep photos (I didn’t know it would be blog-worthy!), this post seems uncharacteristically short. To make up for it, here are some pictures I took shortly before our vacation, when I spotted a cardinal outside the window taking a bath in an overturned planter. Not the greatest pictures since I was taking them through both a screen and dirty glass, but the subject is pretty.

I wasn’t the only one charmed!

Comments (7)

Stir Fry with Tofu and Vitamin Greens

I love finding new vegetables. Yesterday’s trip to the farmer’s market yielded something called vitamin greens. The sign said they were a “mild member of the mustard family”. I wasn’t sure what to do with them but figured I couldn’t go wrong with an easy stir-fry. And I obviously didn’t go wrong because Mark claims to hate all cooked greens, but he had two servings and ate up all the greens in each of them. I still have half a bunch, so if anyone has any suggestions for other things to do with vitamin greens, let me know! And obviously you can substitute just about any other green in this recipe.

Stir-Fry with Tofu and Vitamin Greens

3 Tbsp dried fermented black beans
1/4 cup shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) (can sub sherry)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 carrot, sliced
chili garlic sauce, to taste
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 lb tofu, chopped
1/2 bunch vitamin greens (or other greens)
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp cold water
1-2 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Whisk together the vegetable broth, oyster sauce, and soy sauce in small bowl; set aside. Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl or cup; set aside. Put the fermented black beans in a small cup or bowl and add the shaoxing wine to soften them; set aside.

Chop the tofu.

Prepare all the vegetables by peeling (if necessary) and chopping.

These are the vitamin greens in all their glory:

Heat a wok over medium high heat, then add some oil. When it’s hot, add the onions and garlic and stir-fry for a minute or two.

Add the carrots and chili garlic sauce and stir-fry for another minute or two.

Add the bell pepper and again stir-fry a minute or two.

Next up the tofu:

Finally, the greens:

Stir-fry until the greens have cooked down.

Add the fermented black beans and cook for a minute or so, then add the broth mixture. Bring to a boil, then stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Top with the sliced scallions.

Serve with brown rice.

What do vitamin greens taste like? Well, I didn’t get a pure taste of it considering I hid it in a spicy stir-fry (maybe I should just cook the remainder up by themselves), but it wasn’t at all sharp or mustardy as I thought it might be as a member of the mustard family. It was definitely “mild” as stated on the sign. Really good, though. I’d say it was a bit spinach-like in flavor. They cook similar to chard. It might be a good green for trying on greens-haters, as it’s not overpowering. Mark’s getting a lot better about eating greens, but I was still worried he’d pick all the vitamin greens out of his stir-fry, however, he actually seemed to enjoy them. So vitamin greens are a huge winner in my book and I’ll be keeping an eye out for them. They tasted great and I liked the texture they had in the stir-fry. They are also apparently good in salads, which I may try tomorrow as well.

I dropped my camera this morning, heading out to the wildlife sanctuary. It only fell about a foot and it landed on carpeting, but a trip to the camera store later when I realized it was broken resulted in me finding out the lens was completely gone and the body would cost almost as much to repair as its current market value. Even though it was an entry-level dSLR, I loved it and hadn’t felt the need to upgrade, so I was kind of upset about this. It was a good camera. So, feeling sad, I went home and asked Mark if he’d bought me a birthday present yet (my birthday is this week), and when he said no sort of asked/informed him he was buying me a new camera for my birthday. So I very unexpectedly got a new camera today. What this means for you is probably an onslaught of posts, or at least a lot of pictures of my cats. Here, for example, is Torticia playing with a wax bean, which she removed from the refrigerator when I was in there getting stir-fry ingredients.

In retrospect, I should have just taken a video, which apparently I can do with my new camera. Woo!

Comments (7)

Tempeh in Horseradish Gravy

I saw this in the grocery store and knew Mark would find it amusing. (He did.)

It is, of course, fresh horseradish. I’m a fan of horseradish, fresh or prepared. I like the sinus-clearing bite it gives to food. I did a little googling and decided to make this recipe, using tempeh instead of the unspecified meat. If you use vegan stock, it’s vegan as written. I made it pretty much exactly as directed, although some of the measurements are a bit vague, so I’ll clarify what I did.

1 package tempeh (no time to make my own recently, alas)
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 small to medium horseradish root, or about 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 3)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar (a bit less if you use prepared horseradish)
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 to 1/2 cups vegan “beef” stock
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Chop the tempeh into 3/4″ cubes. Fry lightly in a skillet and set aside.

Peel the horseradish.

Grate the horseradish. I highly recommend using a food processor if you have one because freshly-grated horseradish fumes are quite noxious.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive or other oil in a skillet, then add the onions and brown.

Add 2 tablespoons of the grated horseradish and the flour, and fry for a minute or two.

Add the broth, cloves, bay leaves, brown sugar, and vinegar and bring to a boil.

Allow the gravy to thicken up a bit, then add the tempeh and the rest of the horseradish (you may want to taste it before dumping all the horseradish in), seasoning with salt and pepper as well.

Leave the burner on low until thickened to your likeness. Adjust seasonings if necessary. (I added an extra tablespoon of brown sugar.)

I also made some roasted mustardy potatoes.

I whisked together equal parts olive oil, German mustard, and white wine vinegar.

I tossed this with some teeny tiny potatoes, then spread them on a toaster oven-sized baking sheet. Whenever possible, I like using my toaster oven for small roasting and baking jobs. Then I roasted at about 400 degrees until everything else was done, about half an hour. Larger potatoes will take longer.

For the green counterpart of the meal, I made Elise’s Sautéed Kale with Smoked Paprika. I blanched the kale for 5 minutes …

… then drained, remembering (for once) to save the kale nutrient-filled water (I used it in the gravy above).

I gathered the spices:

Sauteed the onions, then added the spices.

And finally added the kale and sauteed a few more minutes.

And here it is all together:

Any Nabokov fans out there? I got The Original of Laura!

I was so excited about it I actually had to buy the December Playboy to get a preview, but the real thing makes for a bit classier of a read:

Each page is printed on heavy card stock with a scan of the actual index cards on which VN wrote the incomplete novel. The pages are perforated so you can re-order them. That’s how VN wrote all his novels: on index cards that he would rearrange until the story formed itself in the correct order. Because he died before the book was finished, we don’t know for sure in what order the cards would have ended up.

Comments (15)

« Previous entries