antes eat the ides

It is 15 minutes before my lovely roommate comes to pick me up for our first EAT THE IDES dinner party. The ingredient is lemon. I am making a riff on Moroccan Tagine. Instead of making a stew, I bought lamb shanks, marinated them in Moroccan spices and preserved lemons. I am cooking them in a cast iron skillet at the party house. I’m serving the lamb over a bed of couscous with lemon peel, as well as with a carrot puree, hummus, and a small salad of sunflower greens and lemon. I know it will be good, but I am not sure if it will win because it has so many flavor components. I’m guessing I should have stuck with something more simple, that really only hi-lighted lemon. No one else is making a dessert, and I am sure I could have knocked that one out of the ballpark with a creamy lemon ice cream. Now that I am thinking about desserts I am getting a little wistful about all the time I’ve spent making a savory dish. I always need to remind myself that simplicity is not a bad thing. I’ll keep you updated with the next ingredient. Wish me luck!


Mexican Potato Chowder

Huh. It appears that the only thing I have been eating for the past month is soup. That statement is mostly true. Soups are easy to invent, delicious, and time friendly. Today, we’re taking a departure from the Indian food, and taking advantage of the Mexican grocery stores that are abundant in Chicago. It should be noted that this recipe is not vegetarian, kosher, or particularly healthy, but it is delicious and perfect for evening when your plans include watching Gossip Girl and complaining about your period. This recipe is also nearly impossible without an immersion blender, but use your brain and improvise something! It doesn’t need to be blended, I just like building my base that way. I’m serving it with some tortillas.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup ground Chorizo (preferably fresh)
3 carrots, grated (about 1.5 cups)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large onion chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes and their juices. (28oz size)
28 oz. water (use the can from the tomatoes)
1.5 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
4 pickled serrano peppers, chopped (EXNAY!!! After further thought and taste, this makes the recipe nearly too spicy to enjoy, without the aid of A TON of sour cream. If the dish isn’t spicy enough, each taster can add her own hot sauce. )
2 peppers, chopped (I used red and orange, don’t use green)
5 large potatoes, chopped
1.5 cup cream cup cream
1 lime
Sour cream
Tortilla Strips
Large pot for cooking

*Please read all the ingredients first. Chop them up accordingly. It’s very important to do this because it will make your life much easier.

1. Simmer olive oil in pot until it is shimmering.
2. Add chorizo and cook until it is no longer raw.
3. Add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the cooked chorizo. Its ok that it is still red- chorizo is prespiced with red spices.
4. Cook this for about 5 minutes, or until the onions get soft. Adjust the heat as needed so that nothing burns.
5. Add your tomatoes and water.
6. Take your immersion blender and blend everything in the pot until it is smooth.
7. Add your cumin and oregano, stir.
8. Add your jalapenos and serranos
9. Add your potatoes, cook until tender.
10. Add cream, cook until it it’s to the temperature you desire.

Serve this with a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime, and tortilla strips on top. It pairs well with quesadillas, but then you’ll have to work out tomorrow.

curry enchiladas and mashed cauliflower

Indian and Mexican cuisine are a great example of (nearly) opposites attracting. I apoligize, I am still camera-less, but still excited about Mr. Obama being my (nearly) president, so I’ll forgive my camera being dead. Earlier in the week, I had my friend Lisa over for dinner and Gossip Girl (a must watch for Monday nights). Lisa is a vegetarian and I am not. Most people in my life try to be vegetarians most of the time (see my roommate) so, it is not hard for me to cook vegetarian food. It’s an enjoyable challenge, met with vigor and enthusiasm on my part.

I served some vegetable soup (a variation on a previously posted recipe, unfrozen), mashed cauliflower, and curry enchiladas. I’ll detail the recipes below.

Since I am trying extra hard not to eat wheat these days, sometimes things feel pretty grim. I wanted Indian food. My friend is in India right now, and it’s been on my mind as well as in the news. Is it tacky that a crisis gives me a craving? Probably, but what’s a better way to express concern than through sharing a meal with someone you love? All the good energy we shared during our meal was directed towards India, so I’ll try not to feel too guilty about it.

Mashed Cauliflower
1 large head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup half and half
2 different teaspoons of salt
As much pepper as you like
1 8×8 pan
An oven preheated to 350 degrees
Hand blender (makes it easier, a regular blender or potato masher will do well if you don’t have this amazing appliance)
1 large/medium sized bowl

1. Clean your cauliflower.
2. Chop off the green parts
3. Dice the remaining parts of cauliflower into smaller pieces (all this should fit in the previously mentioned 8×8 pan)
4. Place the chopped cauliflower in the pan, drizzle with olive oil
5. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt
6. Place in oven
7. Roast for 30-45 minutes (everybody’s oven is different)
8. After it’s roasted, the cauliflower should be soft. Move the roasted cauliflower into the bowl (if you’re using a blender, place it in the blender… if you’re using a masher, place it in the bowl)
9. To the bowl (or blender) add the half and half and butter. The cauliflower should still be quite warm, so the butter will melt without a problem.
10. With your hand blender, (or masher, or regular blender) mix up all the ingredients until they are blended and smooth. Add the remaining salt and pepper when you feel like it.

This dish is great. Cauliflower is very nutritious and this is a fantastic way to incorporate it into you diet along with butter and half and half. Just kidding. It’s better than mashed potatoes, but still not super healthy. I must note, this dish is not for people who do not like cauliflower. I happen to love it, so it worked out well, but not so much for Lisa.

And now to the big shebang: Curry Enchiladas
As I mentioned before, not eating wheat totally blows. There’s no other way to get around it. So, instead of mourning the loss of naan with my Indian food, I decided to just let it be and make Indian style enchiladas. This recipe has a few parts: Filling, Sauce, and Corn Tortillas. Read the whole recipe before you begin because it has several parts that need to be happening at the same time.

Filling for Indian Enchiladas:
1 large potato
2 tablespoons Tandoori Masala Spice
1 tablespoon Curry Spice
1 teaspoon crushed Coriander
1 small onion
1 clover garlic
1/2 cup olive oil (separated into 4 1/8 cups)
As much salt as you like- I used Kosher Salt
1 large pot
1 large pan
1 small pan

1. In the large pot, boil your peeled potato until it is tender.
2. While the potato is boiling, saute the onions in 1/8 cup olive.
3. Combine the curry, tandoori, and coriander with the remaining olive oil into a paste. Once the onions are sizzling and fragrant, add this paste into the onion and olive oil already on the pan. Let that marinate for a minute or ten.
4. By this time (about a half hour) the potato should be soft. Strain the potato and chop it into small square pieces. After that, combine it with the curried onions.
5. Cook the potatoes in the pan with the onions until they get caramelized on the edges. Since you’ll be cooking the sauce at the same time, you can let the potatoes brown. I let the brown for about 45 minutes.

1 15oz can Coconut Milk
1/4 cup curry powder
1 tablespoon tandoori spice
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
1 medium sized sauce pan

1. Open the coconut milk and pour it into the sauce pan. Make sure you get all the solids from the can into the saucepan. I put the water needed for the recipe in the can, caught all the remnants and then poured that into the sauce pan.
2. Add all the spices and ginger.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, turn down and let reduce. You can taste test it now and decide how much salt you want.
4. When it is reduced to a thickness similar to mole, you are finished!

Once your filling and sauce is done, you are ready to roll the mix into tortillas.

Curry Enchiladas:
Potato/ Onion Filling
8 Corn Tortillas
8 slices Chihuahua Cheese
Curry Sauce
4 x 9 Pan
Oven preheated to 350 (f)

1. Prepare your tortillas by laying them flat and placing half a slice of cheese in the middle of each.
2. On top of the cheese, place the potato/onion filling.
3. Roll the tortillas so that the filling will not come out.
4. Place the stuffed tortillas in the pan, again so the filling is not coming out (I did this one at a time and had some help from toothpicks to keep things closed)
5. Once your pan is filled, cover the stuffed tortillas with the remaining slices of cheese, halved so that everything is symmetrical.
6. Once the cheese is in place, pour all of the curry sauce on the stuffed tortillas
7. Place in the oven and let cook for 30-45 minutes (everybody’s oven is different)

These are really tasty. Too bad I don’t have a camera at the moment. bah humbug.
It’s worth noting that without the cheese, this recipe is vegan, so that’s a plus if you are one or know some.
Also, these keep really well in the fridge and are easily reheated in your oven.

PS: Not everybody has such immense access to cheap specialty ingredients in the town where one resides. A quick Google search informed me that there is an immense variety of authentic Indian food available on the internet for much less than typical grocery store prices. I’m sure that shipping makes it more expensive, but Garam Masala from McCormick’s isn’t nearly as tasty (and is 5x more expensive) as the real deal.

PPS: We paired this with a variation on a gin gimlet.
St. Germain Gimlet

1.5 oz Hendricks Gin (Plymouth would probably be better)
.75 oz St. Germain
1 oz fresh Lime Juice
.25 oz simple syrup

1. Place Gin, Germaine, lime juice, and simple syrup in shaker over ice.
2. Shake.
3. Serve in a martini glass.