Thursday, November 29, 2018

RECIPE: Organic Thai Curry Paste (red or green)

Peppers are high in pesticides so I don't buy prepared products using peppers if they aren't organic.  I've been looking for an organic Thai curry paste for ages and, unable to find one, I decided to make my own.  This recipe requires some advance planning (which I will help you with) but it is totally worth it.  It tastes better than the purchased ones - fresher and more vibrant - and you can control the level of heat. 

We like spicy food so I use habanero pepper but you can use cayenne or even a mild green chile.

Original recipe: Authentic Thai Curry Paste

Thai Curry Paste
Makes about 1 cup

8-10 hot chile peppers - I use habanero
3-4 long chile peppers - I used cayenne
1 Kaffir lime, frozen (available from La Vigne Fruits)
2 T. shallots or red onion finely chopped
2 T. garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 T. galangal root, roughly chopped
2 T. grated lemongrass (about 2 stalks) (available from La Vigne Fruits)
1 T. coriander root
1 T. cumin seed
1 T. coriander seed
1/2 t. white peppercorns
1 t. shrimp paste  1 t. Red Boat fish sauce
1 t. himalayan pink salt

I'm going to go through each of the unusual ingredients and explain how to obtain and store them so that you have them available when you need them.

CHILES:  I have only made this with fresh chiles but I suspect it could be made with frozen.  I wash and stem the chiles and then freeze them whole.  To use them, I let them thaw for a few minutes and then slice or chop them.  When I make green curry paste, I use unripe habanero and cayenne, for the red I use ripe habanero and cayenne.  You can use a milder chile if you prefer.

KAFFIR LIME:  These are available at Whole Foods when in season, and at some Asian markets, but they're not organic.  Biodynamic Kaffir limes are available from La Vigne Fruits.  The only part that's used is the rind, and I find it's easier to grate when they're frozen so I buy them when they're in season and then freeze them so I always have  them available when I need them.  These spoil quickly so freeze them as soon as you get them home.

GALANGAL: This is a root similar to ginger.  I saw it once fresh at Whole Foods.  It might be available frozen at some Asian Markets.  I buy mine dried (organic) from Amazon and then rehydrate it.  It takes a long time to rehydrate so I did a large amount, shredded it in the processor, and then froze it. 

LEMONGRASS:  I see this at Whole Foods all the time, both whole and in small packages.  When in season, I buy it from La Vigne Fruits, cut off the bottom 6 inches, and freeze it.  When frozen it's easy to grate using a microplane.

CORIANDER ROOT:  I have seen cilantro for sale at Whole Foods with the roots attached.  You can also probably get it at some Asian markets.  If not, you can buy a small plant (Whole Foods sells them), or grow your own. If you're able to get the roots, wash them thoroughly and then freeze them.  If you absolutely cannot find the roots you can use the bottom part of the stem with a few leaves attached.

SHRIMP PASTE:  I don't use this ingredient because it's made from farmed shrimp and Thailand's shrimp farming industry is an abomination. I used Red Boat fish sauce instead.

Here are the ingredients again:

8-10 hot chile peppers - I use habanero
3-4 long chile peppers - I used cayenne
Rind from 1 Kaffir lime, frozen and the rind grated (available from La Vigne Fruits).
2 T. shallots or red onion finely chopped
2 T. garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 T. galangal root, roughly chopped
2 T. lemongrass (about 2 stalks) (available from La Vigne Fruits)
1 T. coriander root
1 T. cumin seed
1 T. coriander seed
1/2 t. white peppercorns
1 t. shrimp paste  1 t. Red Boat fish sauce
1 t. himalayan pink salt
High powered blender with a pusher or scraper OR 2-4 T. hot sauce.

Grate the lime zest and lemongrass on a microplane. 

In the photo above, I was preparing to make a double recipe. On the left is the reconstituted galangal, then the lime zest, and on the right is the grated lemongrass. 

Authentic recipes direct you to grind all the ingredients in a mortar.  I'm not about to do that.  'Western' recipes direct you to grind the ingredients in a blender and add a little water.  I tried that and needed so much water it wasn't hot at all!

Here's how I make it now:

You need a high powered blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec.  With the Vitamix you will be using the pusher, with the Blendtec you will need the twister jar (I bought mine used on Ebay).  If you don't have either, use hot sauce instead of water (I planned to use this one but didn't need it.)

I load the blender with the wettest ingredients on the bottom - shallots, peppers and garlic and grind them first:

Then I add the remaining ingredients and process them:

It's tough going - I have to stop frequently and scrape down the sides, even with the scraper, but it's better than using a mortar and pestle.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

RECIPE: Harissa - North African Chile Sauce

I use this whenever a recipe calls for "hot sauce".

This recipe is a combination of several that I've used over the years.  We like highly seasoned food so I stock many spices and always have these on hand.  If you don't like mint or caraway, just leave them out.  At a minimum, you need to use cumin, garlic and either fennel or anise. 

Harissa - North African Chile Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
1.5 T. ground red peppers*
1.5 T. crushed red peppers
1.5 T. paprika
2 T. ground cumin or 8 t. cumin seeds
1 T. ground coriander or 4 t. coriander seeds
1 t. ground fennel or 1.25 t. fennel seeds
1/2 t. ground caraway or rounded 1/2 t. caraway seeds
1/2 t. dried moroccan mint
1/4 t. ground anise
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. garlic powder**
1/2 t. himalayan pink salt
1/2 c. EVOO
1/4 c. lemon juice

If you are using whole seeds: On medium heat, toast the cumin, coriander, fennel and caraway seeds in a dry skillet, stirring often, until light brown and fragrant.  Cool.  Grind as fine as possible.

Mix all the spices with the lemon juice and stir to make a paste.  Gradually add the EVOO.

Let it rest for a day before serving to develop the flavor.  

I keep ours in the fridge in a tall narrow glass jar, pressing the solids down so the oil rises to the top.  As long as there is always a thin layer of oil over the top, it will keep for months.  When you use some, dig down past the oil and then make sure enough oil returns to the surface before storing.  Top it up if you need to.

The odd angle of the photo above was necessary to show the composition of the sauce.  You can see the flavored oil resting on the top.

*Chose the variety of pepper based on how hot you want this to be.  I have made it with habanero and african bird peppers for a searingly hot sauce, and with ancho chiles for a very mild sauce.  Our favorite is cayenne which is middle of the road.  When the sauce is too hot you can only use a little bit and then you miss out on all the other flavors.

**If you use fresh garlic, you will need to saute it lightly in ghee first.

Monday, November 26, 2018

RECIPE: Yellow Pepper Dressing for Spinach Arugula Salad

This dressing freezes well so I usually make it during summer when yellow peppers and tomatoes are available and then freeze enough to get us through winter.  I never add oil to my dressings until I mix the salad because they separate in the fridge and then harden, making it hard to use the dressing without bringing it to room temperature first.  In addition, this dressing is so good that I often don't use oil at all!   It's delicious with spinach, arugula, red onion, tuna and hard boiled eggs

Yellow Pepper Dressing for Spinach Arugula Salad
makes 1 quart

2 lemons, zested and then peeled and seeded
1 small yellow onion, peeled and root end removed, then cut into 8 pieces
1 small head garlic, peeled and root ends removed
1 yellow tomato (or an additional yellow pepper), cored and quartered
2 yellow peppers, cored and seeded, then cut into 1" squares
2 t. dry mustard powder (or 2 t. dijon mustard)
2 t. himalayan pink salt
1 t. ground cumin

Zest the lemons then peel and seed taking care to not to lose any of the juice.  Toss them into a blender jar - pith, flesh and all.  Load the blender with the remaining ingredients in the order listed and blend until pureed.  You want the liquid ingredients towards the bottom so their moisture enables the rest of the ingredients to blend without adding water.

Adjust seasoning.  Depending on the size of your peppers you may need more salt or cumin.

I love this dressing with equal parts baby spinach and baby arugula topped with thin slices of red onions, a bit of tuna and chopped hard boiled egg.  In the photo above added broccoli and a dusting of espelette pepper.

NOTE:  My sister is allergic to raw vegetables so,when I make this for her, I bring it to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.

Monday, November 19, 2018

RECIPE: Mashed Sweet Potato with Ancho and Garlic

Sweet potatoes are so sweet I really don't like to add sweetness (not even maple syrup!) so I always prepare them savory. In this recipe I use ancho chile powder and garlic, in another I use sour cream and crispy onions, in a third I use harissa, a Moroccan spice mixture.  Be creative!

Mashed Sweet Potato with Ancho Chile and Garlic
Serves: 8

3-4 large sweet potatoes, skins scrubbed under running water until clean
1/4 c. ghee
2 t. ancho chile powder (I use so much of this I buy it by the pound!)
4 garlic cloves, minced, and/or 1 t. Dr. Cowan's Wild Ramp Powder
1-2 t. himalayan pink salt
Opt: chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 425.

Line a baking sheet with two layers of parchment.

Prick each potato several times with a fork or knife so they don't explode.

Roast until cooked through (a knife will enter easily all the way to the center).  This can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of your potatoes. Remove from oven.

Slip potatoes out of their skin into the bowl of a food processor (if you use a blender you'll need to do this in two batches), add the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth.

Adjust seasoning and serve sprinkled with chopped walnuts or pecans.

RECIPE: Beef Chili with Hidden Nutrition

I'm always looking for ways to increase the number of vegetables I consume each day, and Dr. Cowan's vegetable powders enable me to do that without sacrificing flavor or drastically increasing preparation time.  Every morning, I add his powders to a smoothie, I've used them to make dips and salad dressing, and I've added them to bolognese sauce.  In this recipe, I add them to chili.

According to Dr. Thomas Cowan, anthroposophical doctor and former member of our CSA (before he moved to CA):
"... taking our lead from healthy traditional peoples, we should strive to eat at least 10 to 12 different plants a day: some roots (carrots, beets), some stems (celery, Brussels sprouts), some leaves (kale, chard), and some fruits and flowers (tomatoes, zucchini). Eating different plant parts and colors is the surest way to avail ourselves of  all the nutrients plants have to offer."

In order to save space in my freezer, I pressure can ground beef several times a year.  My canner will hold 7 quart jars and each ones holds about 24oz of beef so I process 10 pounds at a time.  I will sometimes add grated carrots which disappear into whatever dish I'm making.

Easy Beef Chili with Hidden Nutrition
serves: 6

3 pounds canned ground beef*
1 T. ghee, lard, or coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 18oz jar tomato passata
2 T. chile ancho
1 T. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. mexican oregano, crushed by rubbing it between your palms
3 t. himalayan salt
1 t. Dr. Cowan's biodynamic 3-beet powder
1 t. Dr. Cowan's carrot powder
1 t. Dr. Cowan's spinach powder
2 t. Dr. Cowan's low oxalate greens powder
1 t. Dr. Cowan's wild ramp powder
Opt: 1 t. Dr. Cowan's winter squash powder

Garnish: sour cream, grated cheese, chopped onions, cilantro, avocado or guacamole, corn chips

Heat the fat on medium-high and saute the onions until they're translucent, about 5 minutes.

(*If you use raw ground beef, add it here and cook until it's no longer pink.)

Turn the heat to low (to prevent splattering) and add the garlic and tomato passata, then add all the spices and powders.  Stir to combine.

Add the beef, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and cook until the flavors meld, about 1 hour.  (*If you used raw ground beef, cook until it's tender which could take 2-3 additional hours depending on the meat.)

Serve with sour cream, chopped onions, grated cheese, cilantro, and/or chopped avocado.  My husband also likes to crumble corn chips on top.

If I have it on hand, I stir in a few T. of sweet potato puree.  I don't add it to the pot because my husband doesn't like it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

RECIPE: Potato Leek Soup with Frizzled Leeks

I don't eat potatoes (they're bad for my blood type) but my husband LOVES them so I prepare them occasionally as a treat when I can get them from our CSA which I KNOW doesn't use chemicals.

Most recipes recommend serving this soup with chopped chives, but it's November and our CSA no longer has them, so I deep fried the dark green parts of the leeks for a crunchy garnish. 

Original recipe: Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup with Frizzled Leeks
Serves 4-6

2 T. ghee, chicken fat, or lard depending on the liquid you use
2-3 large leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and roughly chopped, tops reserved
1 quart low sodium vegetable, chicken, or veal broth
2 medium potatoes (about 1 pound) peeled and sliced 3/8" thick
1/8 t. ground bay leaf (or 1 whole bay leaf)
Himalayan pink salt
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 c. frizzled leek garnish (see below for recipe) or bacon bits

Heat fat in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leeks, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft but not browned, 10-15 minutes.

Add stock, potatoes and bay leaf and season lightly with salt (I used 2 t.).  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are falling apart, 15-20 minutes.  While the potatoes are cooking, make the frizzled leeks.

Remove whole bay leaf if that's what you  used. 

Puree soup with immersion blender, which will result in a rough puree.  If you want it super smooth you'll need to use a blender.  Thin with additional stock if it's too thick for your taste.  

Stir in cream and nutmeg and adjust salt.  Serve sprinkled with frizzled leeks and/or bacon.

Frizzled Leek Tops
Makes 1/2 c. 

Dark green tops of the leeks you used for the soup, and the lighter green leaves inside them.
2 T. ghee

Clean the leaves thoroughly, scrubbing the dark leaves if necessary.  
Slice them finely 1/16" - 1/8" 

Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium high.  Add the leeks and saute until lightly browned.  Remove and drain on paper towels sprinkled with salt.

I used a very small pan and did them in 4 batches.  I removed every last bit of each batch so that nothing was left behind to burn in the ghee.  It would have been easier to do them in a larger pan in one batch.