Archive for July, 2014

Hurried Curry

trader joes curry

Ah, curry. It’s the sometimes mysterious, often spicy, and always comforting dish native to many many cultures. It comes in green, orange, red, and every color in between; a combination of spices and flavors that’s difficult to discern. It’s not just curry powder that makes this dish so special, but the hours spent simmering and bubbling as who-knows-what sneaks its way into every crevice and aperture of whatever exotic vegetables are graced with its presence. It’s the indescribable combination of this powder and that pepper that somehow creates a similar, although entirely unique, flavor.

It’s the fragrance of cumin, coconut, exotic pepper, and so on that makes you swoon the moment it comes into contact with your nostrils, which are pining desperately for another whiff. It’s best enjoyed in dingy restaurants where you wouldn’t dare try to pronounce its name. “I’ll have the Pra-.” The waitress finishes your sentence, though you have no idea what she just said. It’s a blind draw, most of the time, though what lands in front of you is worth the risk. Whatever kind of curry it is, it’ll likely make your nose run and make you empty  your water glass over and over again. Your only reprise is the moist rice, which gives you a break from it all, but also serves as the perfect vehicle for soaking up the last drops of curry sauce, once the potatoes, meat, and the myriad vegetables beyond recognition have been consumed.

Let it be known, this is not that kind of curry. This is the kind of curry made by people like myself, whose pantries are not stocked with whatever insanity goes into the real stuff but sometimes, in the comfort of their own PJs, crave the styling’s of non-descript Thai restaurants. Order in? Not on my watch!

easy curry recipe

This is not to say that this curry is no good. In fact, it’s very very good and very very easy. You’re in for a creamy and smooth texture made rich with coconut milk and the spices of my favorite trader, Joe. You can use whatever veggies you like, but I found the combination of waxy potatoes, bright carrots, and bristly broccoli create the perfect trifecta of flavors and textures to soak up the mouthwatering curry.

hurried curry

This dish takes about thirty minutes, which is no small feat in the world of curry curation. In so many words, this dish is simple, easy, delicious, and reminiscent of (but not identical to) late nights in Thai Town and early mornings with leftovers. And, made entirely with Trader Joe’s ingredients, it’s a perfectly affordable recipe that won’t send you to the ends of the earth to track down rare and exotic ingredients. You can “Khorb Khun Ka” me later.

easy thai curry

Ingredients

  • 4 small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked (optional)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Thai Yellow Curry Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (more for a spicier curry)

1. Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until potatoes are just tender. Remove, and slice into quarters.

2. In a large pot, bring coconut milk and curry to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots and turn heat down to a simmer.

3. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add in broccoli, chicken, and chili paste.

4. Stir and simmer until vegetables are the desired tenderness and add more chili to taste.

 

Almond Crunch & Summer Fruit Crumble

Almond Crunch & Summer Fruit Crumble

Before moving to San Francisco, I lived in Boston with my best friends. My roommates were my family, in almost every sense of the word. But when a handful of twenty-somethings finish scrolling through Tinder and giggling over $5 wine, they don’t give each other a squeeze and an “I love you” before turning in for the night. Since moving in with my San Francisco family, that’s all changed. No matter how the evening is spent – likely without boy-talk or cheap wine – there’s always a big ol’ hug before bed and a real heartfelt “I love you.”

That’s not the only part that’s different. As I mentioned last time, I often feel like I’m the most food-ignorant person in this city. Back in Boston, I knew where to find the best kale and what farm it came from (Siena Farms, duh). I knew where the best sushi was (Avana, hello!). And, most of the time, I was the ruler of the kitchen (Ah, how I miss my cast iron skillet). Here, there are species of kale you couldn’t even dream of, like the Dinosaur variety, in the garden, usurping the front of the house. I don’t know where the best anything is, though I did eat at Ebisu and am forever changed. And I certainly, certainly am not the ruler of the kitchen.

Justine, my Aunt Sydney’s partner, is the kitchen queen. It’s no rare sight to see a potpourri of soaking beans, nuts, and grains scattered across the counters in glass bowls. She makes hummus that puts Sabra to shame. She crafts tahini salad dressing that’s life changing.

compost

The prettiest compost there ever was.

She even prepares gourmet puppy chow for Ivy, the mini Labradoodle I’m considering kidnapping.

miniature labradoodle

Sydney, on the other hand, is often so busy being the rabbi of San Francisco that there isn’t much time for cooking. Between births, marriages, deaths, meltdowns, and sermons, it’s amazing that we actually get to see her at all! Busy as she may be, she is still a Jewish mother, which means she will always make feeding her kids her #1 priority.

sydney mintz and justine shapiro

So, when Eli (son #1) came back from Camp Tawonga for the weekend, she obviously needed to make up for lost time.

labradoodle

On top of that, Gabe (son #2), was getting ready to join Eli at camp. On top of that, Mateo (Justine’s son) was on his way back from Mexico. – Try to keep up. – As the icing on the cake (I mean crumble), I hadn’t seen Syd in a week since she and Justine had been in Mendocino setting up their new second home, The Albion Schoolhouse.

In other words, it was time to get cooking. Sydney took me to our local produce market, where we debated over which fruit looked best.

fresh strawberries

We settled on these strawberries you could smell from a mile away and some hefty shoots of rhubarb, to boot. Now, as far as crumbles go, I like to stick to what I know. Why mess with a good thing?

fresh rhubarb

Here’s why: because rhubarb is a delicious anomaly. How it transforms from a bitter, hard, unpalatable thing into a tender, slightly sour, rich miracle is beyond me. Honestly, I’ve always been a little afraid of the stuff for that reason. But thank Yahweh for Rabbi Sydney Mintz because a new door has been opened for me. Sadly, that door won’t be open for long, since rhubarb is in season for only a few more weeks.

strawberries and rhubarb

This Almond Crunch & Summer Fruit Crumble is delightfully mild in sweetness. The baked yumminess on top is nutty and oaty, which gives each bite a satisfying crunch and earthy flavor.

oatmeal crumblesummer crisp recipe

It almost tastes healthy, though I assure you it’s not. Syd claims we added too much butter, but I feel passionately that every part of this crumble is perfect. The fruit gets ultra tender and becomes infused with a subtle citrus flavor thanks to the orange juice. The crumbly top is hearty and wholesome. It’s a refreshing dessert (or breakfast!) for a warm summer night* and obviously deserves to be paired with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*Or a freezing cold summer night, which has been my experience in the foggy Bay Area.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces (approx. 8 large stalks)
  • 6 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (2 sticks)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 2 cups oats
  • ½ cup almond meal

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, orange juice, and one cup of sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large food processor, pulse almonds until chunky. Set aside.

4. Add remaining cup of sugar, salt, oats, and almond meal in the food processor. Blend until just combined. Pour in melted butter and blend until mixture is wet and crumbly. Add almonds back in and pulse just a few more times.

5. Lay fruit out in one or two deep pans. We used one 13” x 13” dish. Cover fruit with crumble mixture, making sure to leave no spot uncovered.

6. Bake for one hour, or until crumble top is firm and slightly browned.

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