Monday, August 16, 2010

More on Lentils and some other experiments in food...

Sorry for the long break in blogging. It's been a busy summer. Preparing for a conference and then going on the trip was more time-intensive than I thought. Not to mention family emergencies in the way of blogging. I'm back...for now at least. :-)

As some people know I've been mildly obsessed with lentils as of late. Mostly because of their nutritional content, inexpensive price ($0.80 a lb at Kroger) and versatility (this link has the text to the Good Eats episode where a nutritional anthropologist discusses the Mesopotamian roots of the World's oldest domestic crop: lentils). My last lentil experiment, Giada's Italian Lentil Salad was a huge success in our house. In fact I made it a second time to use up some of the remaining ingredients.

This next recipe comes from Epicurious after doing a google search on coconut (I was in the mood for coconut milk) and lentils: Coconut-Red Lentil Curry. I had to make a few modifications. First off, the only lentils available at the local Kroger are green lentils labeled "Lentils." So I used those. Next I cut out the garlic and half the onion due to my own dietary restrictions. I also left out the cilantro leaves because I hate the flavor of them. And I doubled the jalapeno...for funsies. :-) The results were delicious served over long grain white rice, albeit a little too mild. Next time I'm going to double the spices and leave everything else the same. The next day, upon reheating in the microwave, the dish was doubly spicy, and still somewhat I'll still double the spices next time.

My next experiment was a result of a spontaneous side trip during a conference I recently attended in the Columbia Gorge. A group from my lab at at the Big River Grill for lunch just before heading up Mount Saint Helens (driving...not hiking). One of the specials was an African Peanut Soup. We were intrigued so most of us tried it. Fantastic. Savory and spicy with a surprise of occasionally crunching into a peanut. Therefore when I got home I just had to look it up. The first interesting results came from here. And (whoop!) we just bought grains of paradise from this same store on our trip to Seattle. Unfortunately on a closer read we definitely didn't have ajwain or tabil spice blend or know of any substitutes (none found on google). So I googled for more recipes and found Emeril's. The more recipes of his that I use, the more I really like his cooking - his is the sauce portion of my golubki, fyi. Of course I made some modifications to the recipe. I used vegetable oil instead of peanut oil, for convenience. I cut out the garlic and cut the onions in half. I substituted yams for sweet potatoes, due to local availability. The peanut butter I used was the all-natural variety you have to store in the fridge. And I used 1 lb of skinless, boneless dark meat chicken instead of ground turkey because the turkey just sounded weird in this recipe (*shrug*). The results: absolutely spectacularly delicious. And spicier the next day after reheating in a microwave. Although next time I'll probably kick the spiciness up a notch with some harissa.

To finish off this meal I added the one thing I was really in the mood for on Friday: cardamom rice pudding. A google search for "cardamom rice pudding" yielded Alton Brown's recipe as the first result. I followed the recipe, doubling it and cooking it in a nonstick wok with extended cooking times added to compensate for the added volume. The only modifications were leaving out the raisins because The Lovely Spouse doesn't like them and adding about a tablespoon of fresh ground cardamom instead of the measely 1/4 teaspoon in the recipe. The result was fantastic and the extra cardamom was necessary for someone who craves it like I do. It's a cool, refreshing, silky smooth dessert for a hot mid-August day.

My next blog post will be a review of Crush in Seattle that I've been promising a certain person. :-)