Sunday, December 13, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
It was my first attempt at curry, and I'm more than positive it won't be my last. I'd go as far to say that the vast flavor profile of curry dishes matched with the fact that their main ingredients can be improvised so easily leads me to believe that my budding love for making curry may rival my long standing passion for making chili.
To think this all started with a restaurant as unassuming as Thai Kitchen.
Before I get into my first attempt, I owe photo credits and the foundation of my recipe to 101 cookbooks, a blog I've mentioned before. In case you feel like spicing up your own dinner menu sometime soon, I've included her recipe, in it's entirety below. However, even though this was my first attempt, I didn't follow her recipe to a T and so I also included my notes later.
This curry has a bit of kick to it - so if you're cooking for a spice-sensitive crowd, scale back a bit - and season to taste at the end. Also, the recipe has you steam the potatoes. I couldn't find my big metal steamer, so I rigged one using a metal strainer suspended over a large pasta pot with a lid on. There was a bit of a gap, and it probably took longer than it would have otherwise, but it worked. A pasta pot insert would work too. In the end, the potatoes just need to be cooked, so you could boil them or even roast them (oven at 375F) - both slightly different approaches, but fine workarounds. As far as the cooking fats go, if you like to cook with ghee or clarified butter, you can substitute that, or even coconut oil.
1 1/2 pounds small waxy potatoes no bigger than a small lime, halved
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
3/4 cup water
splash of cream or a dollop of creme fraiche
8 ounces tempeh, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
a small handful of cilantro, loosely chopped
Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large pot. Place the potatoes in a steamer (see head notes), sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook until tender throughout - about 20 - 30 minutes, depending on how large your potato pieces are.
In the meantime, in a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil, add the onion and cook over LOW heat until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin seeds, curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne pepper, wait about thirty seconds, then stir in the tomatoes, water, and the other teaspoon of salt. Remove from heat, stir in the cream and blend with a hand blender - (or leave it unpureed if you like!). Note: you might need to transfer it to a bowl to puree, then return it to the skillet.
Once the curry is back in the pan, add the tempeh and bring barely to a simmer. Let the tempeh cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the potatoes when they are finished steaming. Transfer to a large family-style bowl, and sprinkle with cilantro before serving.
Serves 4 - 6.
This recipe was inspired by the Potato with Tomato Curry recipe in Lora Zarubin's I Am Almost Always Hungry. Published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang in 2003.
And if you're interested in what I did...
First, I hate boiling water. Boiling water to me is just that... "like watching water boil." I'm far to impatient. So if you're like me you'll find that tossing all the cut up potatoes in a covered glass dish and microwaving for 10 minutes gets the job done in a fourth of the time.
Second, I couldn't find tempeh in the grocery store the two different times I looked. I've found out where it is since then (of course) and plan to use it in a later dish, but I substituted tofu and thought it worked well. Another substitution I made was coconut milk for cream. Coconut milk is pretty common in thai dishes and it adds the creaminess the dish is needing. It worked beautifully. I also omitted the butter and used only olive oil.
Third, I would contend that you NEED to puree the sauce. The sauce is the soul of curry dishes and if I would have left it chunky I know it wouldn't have been nearly as good. Immersion blenders are awesome, but if you forgot to put that one on your wedding registry my blender got the job done with no problem.
Things that I'll do next time...
One is that I won't be as afraid of the salt shaker. To hop on my RD soapbox for just one minute, two teaspoons of salt is a bit of overkill. Hello! That's two days worth of sodium! I know you're not eating the whole dish...but come on! Anyway, I literally stood over the pot, salt in hand, and just couldn't bring myself to salt a dish that much. I omitted the salt on the potatoes completely and only added 1/2 teaspoon to the sauce. Salt does add "umph" to a dish, and after eating my first attempt I probably will add 3/4...or maybe...just maybe 1 whole teaspoon next time. But I'll also be a little more heavy handed with the curry powder which will help compensate. Two teaspoons though! My heart couldn't take it.
Next time around I'll also only par-cook the potatoes until they're about 3/4 of the way done and add them into the dish before the tempeh/tofu and let them finish cooking thru on low for another 5 minutes...then add the protein...then let simmer for another 10 minutes. The reason for this is that I think the potatoes need to absorb some of the flavors of the curry sauce. Just like chili tastes better on day two, this curry dish would really POP in your mouth if the potatoes melded more with the sauce. As it stands, the potatoes are kind of a bland "ying" to the spicy curry's "yang" which you need otherwise the flavors would fight with each other. But I think if you let the potatoes be kind of a...canvas...or carrier for the sauce the whole dish would be more complete in each bite.
All in all, I can't wait to give these spices a whirl again! If you give the dish a try yourself, or if you have your own curry dish recipe, please share! Like I said, a dish as interpretive as curry can be taken in so many different directions I'd love to hear what others have done.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Well...the half marathon that is. But hey, if Kristy2009 could go back in time and tell Kristy2000 that she was going to run slightly more than 13 miles (consecutively, within a short period of time) she would have been laughed at. Because Kristy1996 through Kristy2002 hated even running the mile. And I think 80's and early 90s Kristy probably wouldn't have loved the idea either, it's just no one had ever asked her. But back to Kristy2009...
A little before 7AM Saturday morning I lined up with 10,000 other lovely people, said a prayer, and then ran 13.1 miles. It was awesome. I'm not really sure why. Maybe it was because of the endorphins or something, but it was. I can't wait to do it all over again.
I have to say, running has become sort of an anomaly in my life. I really hate to suck at things, and in certain facets my competitiveness has become unhealthy. But despite the fact that I'm not that great at running I REALLY enjoy it, and when I can't run, I miss it. So over the past couple of years I've nurtured this love pretty carefully by protecting it from almost any form of competition, or potential competition. To put it simply, I run solo. I don't run with friends, I try not to ask others how well or fast they run, I abstain from discussing my own training too much, and in the dead of winter you'll find me on the treadmill in the corner. So to spend my otherwise normal Saturday morning run with a few thousand other people has brought about a change. In fact, after stumbling across this snippet on RunnersWorld.com yesterday, I might even say it:
Runner: is a person who RUNS. Period...If you're interested enough in the sport to come here, the chances are excellent that yes, you're a runner no matter how slow or fast you are or whether you ever enter a race or not.
I am a runner.
I also have tendonitis. I think it happened the Tuesday before the race, when I noticed the arch of my right foot ached post-run. So taking the advice of a Physical Therapist (and Boston Marathon finisher) I work with I very reluctantly laid off the running until Saturday morning. Around mile 2 (that's 15% into the race for those of you who are counting) I could tell something was up. Around mile 9 ignoring it wasn't working anymore and I had to take a second to evaluate my options. It went something like this:
Stop running, ice and recover? Umm, no. Keep running? Sounds like a plan.
I'm sorry if my word choice isn't the best, but I'll be damned if I was going to train for 3 months, come dangerously close to quitting the whole ordeal, then miraculously break through my own personal wall, drive 125 miles, run 9 and then STOP!
Besides, once you get into the running zone, it actually takes more concentration to stop your legs from the continual rhythm they've gotten used to than to just keep going. So that's what I did...and later learned all the benefits of R.I.C.E. That stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. It became an acronym for a reason. Use it.
Now I'm just pumped to run the race again next year because I missed out on the 3 mile "woosh" at the end. The 3 mile "woosh", as I call it, is the final 3 downhill miles of the run which is a special treat after the previous 10 mostly uphill miles. So in my head I was always thinking that if I made it through the first 10, the last 3 would be like a woosh to the finish. Saddly, I wasn't able to put that much pressure on my foot the last 3, but you better bring it KC. I'll see you October 16, 2010.
I'm also thinking about the Nashville Country Music Half in April, but I'm not to keen about 100% winter training. I'll keep you posted. Something else I've been thinking about...run a half in all 50 states. Sounds like a plan.
And that's the way it is :)
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
So I feel it's only fitting that I start with a completely random, absolutely unrelated story about myself. While killing time before a walk this afternoon I entertained my roommate with this one, and so readers, I share it with you.
*please envision your own Wayne's World fade out hand gestures here*
It was the beginning of my freshman year at Mizzou, and homecoming was in the air. Having been in a sorority at the time, this meant outside of classes, eating, sleeping, and keeping up some standard of personal hygiene, I needed to be spending the rest of my time pomping...but not in a hazing sort of way.
(For those of you unfamiliar with pomping...do you remember in, say preschool or kindergarten ever doing an art project involving wrapping small squares of tissue paper around a pencil, dipping the tissue in elmer's glue and then sticking the tissue on paper to create 3D designs? If you do, take that art project and multiply it by approximately sixteen 4x8 particle boards put together by about 200 college students into one huge 2-story picture.)
To get this feat done, we all had x number of hours we needed to pomp each week. Looking back, it was probably a good thing I didn't stick with the sorority thing the full 4 years. I just didn't get it. Unbeknownst to me, pomping was a social activity, whereas I saw it as a "get 'er done" sort of activity. So when I had a few hours to kill after my 8am class, well that seemed like a great time to pomp to me!
To get the full effect of this story I implore you to picture an 18 year old me, showing up at the door of a fraternity at 9am with a grin saying "Hi, I'm here to pomp"...by myself...for a couple of hours...with nothing but CMT to keep me company. Since I wasn't even going to attempt to change the channel on a TV the size of a Ford Focus, in order to entertain myself I invented a game that morning called "Name that Country Star". As a new music video came on I would try to guess the name of the country star singing. Since I hadn't really gotten into country at this point in time in my life I had to resort to guessing "Willie Nelson!" anytime a male singer came on. I was wrong for a solid 40 minutes or so, until Willie Nelson actually came on...and boy was I excited! Because that's the day I finally learned what the dude looked like. He's he one with the braids.
And so now, many years later, when I hear country music I've never heard before I remember that game I came up with a long, long time ago. And that's what brought up the story this afternoon with my roommate. I had no idea Rascal Flatts sang that backwards country song song! Catchy.
And that's the way it is.