Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pakistani style Chana Dal

I have (minimally) adapted this from here. It can be made either as more of a soup, or a stewy pasty thing to eat with rice (and might I suggest Lillian's cumin rice).If you're interested in more information on chana dal than you could ever have wanted, see here. This is supposed to use the "kabuli" style of chana dal, but I'm guessing you'll be lucky enough to find ANY form of chana dal, let alone have a choice between 'desi' and 'kabuli.'

2 cups of Chana Dal
4 cups water
1 small onion (minced)
3 or so tomatoes, minced finely or pureed (I was pureeing tomatoes for palak paneer anyway)
1 tsp. of cumin seeds
1 tbsp. of fresh ginger (minced)
1 tbsp. of garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp. of turmeric powder
1 tbsp. of coriander Powder
1 tsp. of cayenne pepper (or more - this gave it a relatively mild spiciness). I also think it would be good with jalapenos)
Salt (to taste)
1 tbsp. of fresh lemon Juice or Fresh Lime Juice (I used lemon)


Either cook the dal in the water until tender (not sure how long that takes in a normal pan) or cook it in a pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes. If it looks way too thick, you can add more water, but remember that the tomatoes will thin it out quite a bit. Puree using an immersion blender or with some other implement of destruction. You don't need to puree completely - some people like to leave 1/3-1/2 of the daals intact, though the chana dal was a bit chalky in unsmooshed form.

In a small bit of oil, heat the cumin seeds until they crackle, then add the onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, then add turmeric, coriander and cayenne. Stir for about twenty seconds, then add the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Add to the dal, along with salt.

Reheat the dal tomato mixture, simmer for a couple of minutes, and then add lemon juice. Adjust for salt and spiciness (well, if it's too spicy, you're probably just SOL, but if it's not spicy enough you could add a bit more cayenne).

I would have taken a picture, but my poor camera is out of batteries.

Monday, January 18, 2010

French Bread

This is not necessarily a definitive recipe - I just made it to good result the other night, and had to sort of distill a few recipes to do it. I'm not sure if I needed to cook it longer, but it wasn't quite as crisp as baguettes normally are - however, I liked it, and it was a little less harsh on the roof of my mouth.

1 4oz package of dry yeast/2.25 tsp yeast from a jar
1/2 c. warm water

3.5 c. flour
2.25 tsp. salt
1.25 c. water

1 egg white.

1) Combine 1/2 c. warm water and yeast (I added just a little honey to keep the yeasties happy)

2) Mix flour and salt, then add yeast water and normal water, mix.

3) Knead until pliant. Let rise until tripled, or until you get sick of waiting and it's at least doubled.

4) Punch down, rise again until doubled.

5) Punch down, cut into three pieces (or as many pieces as you want loaves). Let rest 5 minutes.

6) Use a rolling pin to roll the pieces out into long thin rectangles, then roll them up to make long thin tubes. Pinch the seam and the ends, then place seam-side down on a baking sheet, either oiled or sprinkled with cornmeal. Make diagonal, 1/4" deep cuts along the length of the bread - I recommend making them so that they'll divide it into easily separated single pieces. Let rise until approximately doubled in size, then wash the outside with egg white. Bake at 450 for approximately 20 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beef in Cream Sauce with Leeks and Shallots

Alternate name: Alex's not-quite-beef-stroganoff.

This dish started out as a creative way to use up some leeks that were on sale, and evolved into something more complicated since I wanted to make something fancy. It's very similar in some ways to beef stroganoff, but more subtly flavored and not quite as heavy.

1 pound steak (I used top sirloin which was reasonably priced at about $5/#)

1 leek, cut in half then chopped into thin half circles
2 + 1 shallots (the first two should be larger), diced
5-7 mushrooms, sliced (optional)

2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/3 c. heavy cream
1/2-1 c. milk
1/3 c. dry white wine

Salt and Pepper.

1) One hour before cooking, heavily salt both sides of the steak, then cover in plastic and place in refrigerator. After an hour has passed, wash off the steak. It will look a bit dried out - that's fine. Put as much as a tablespoon of pepper on each side.

2) Heat a heavy skillet to quite hot, then add a small amount of high heat tolerant oil, add shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Throw in steaks, sear and lightly brown the sides. Don't worry about the interior temperature too much - you can control how cooked the inside gets by choosing an appropriate time to add the steak to the sauce. Remove steak from pan, leaving shallots in pan. Leave the steak for 5 minutes or so, then slice into 1/4"-1/2" slices against the grain.

3) Add, 2 Tbsp butter, reducing heat to low, then sweat the leeks, adding the mushrooms once the leeks are fairly soft.

4) When mushrooms are soft, add flour, making a roux, then cook for an additional 5 minutes still on low.

5) Add wine to deglaze, then mix with the roux, then add the cream and mix everything well. It should be pretty thick at this point - add some milk. The amount of milk will vary based on how much flour you added, and so you can add enough to make it to your preferred consistency. You can add more wine, and more salt, but be sparing with additional pepper since the steak has a lot already.

6) Once the sauce has reduced somewhat, you can add the beef. Again, the idea is simply to cook the beef to the level you're comfortable without overcooking it and making it tough. Cook the sauce with the beef as long as you need to.

7) Serve on top of your carbohydrate of choice (I used fresh pasta from a local Italian deli), sprinkling with the last shallot before serving.

With fresh pasta and asparagus: