Wednesday, January 30, 2013

White Beans with Lamb (Etli Kuru Fasulye)

This dish does not look like much, but let me tell you it is quite delicious. I have a tendency to fall into a groove with seasonings for certain kinds of dishes, so I was intrigued when I found this recipe in Saveur Magazine. The lamb and seasonings were different enough from the white bean dishes I usually make that I was eager to try it.

The only reason I hesitated to try it is because I love broiled lamb chops so much that I wasn't sure I wanted to waste one by putting it into a stew. I'd glad I finally decided to try it. That tiny little chop packed a powerhouse of flavor, and the meat was tender and delicious.

Etli Kuru Fasulye is a Turkish dish and translates to White Beans with Meat. In most of the recipes I saw, one is instructed to soak the beans overnight. Ever since I discovered the no-soak method of cooking beans I do not bother with that. And I have recently discovered that this method works just as well on the stove top as it does in the oven. Once the beans are boiling, just lower the heat as low as it will go and simmer until the beans are tender. So now you no longer have any excuse not to cook beans from dried. It is so much less expensive to do it that way, and you know exactly what is going into them and you don't have to worry about the BPA in the cans

Given my tendency to try to healthy up my meals by adding vegetables whenever I can, I am thinking that adding a bunch of greens would greatly add to the flavor of this dish. But it is awfully delicious as is. Maybe I'll just serve the greens on the side.

Home Cookin Chapter: Beef and Lamb
STEWED WHITE BEANS (Etli Kuru Fasulye)
Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups dried white beans
2-3 dried chilis de arbol
2 medium yellow onions, 1 halved, 1 finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 6-oz lamb blade chop
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large banana pepper or Italian frying pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp dried ground aleppo pepper or paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Sort through and rinse the beans. Place them in a large saucepan and cover to about 2-1/2 inches with cold water. Add the chilis, halved onion, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a rapid boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are just tender, anywhere from 45 minutes to one-and-a-half hours, checking at ten minute intervals after the first 30 minutes. When they are tender, drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the lamb and cook, until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining chopped onions, garlic and banana pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato sauce, Aleppo pepper, oregano and tomatoes and cook until the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the broth and the beans and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are reheated and the flavors have blended. Take the lamb chop out of the pot. Remove the meat from the bone and cut it into bite-size pieces, then return it to the pot. Season to taste with salt. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.

adapted from Saveur Magazine, Number 120.

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Simple and Satisfying: Sweet Potato and Kale Hash

Here's a lovely weekend breakfast that is delicious, hearty, and easy to make. It was born of my need to use up a bunch of red kale that was about to outlast its welcome in my crisper. There was a sweet potato that was reaching that point as well, so I decided to put them together on Sunday morning for breakfast.

A breakfast hash seemed the perfect way to use them both. I decided to cook them up with some onion and white wine. I started to think about other things that I could add, but I liked the idea of keeping it simple and easy, especially for a Sunday morning meal.

That turned out to be a wise decision. The Sauvignon Blanc I had on hand was the perfect complement to the sweet potato and kale, and it was perfect with just those few ingredients.

I used red onion because I had some leftover from a previous dish that also needed to be used, but any old onion will do. Shallots would be good. The first morning I topped it with a soft-boiled egg and ate it with my last piece of focaccia, which I toasted. That made for a satisfying breakfast, indeed. That evening I made some brown rice to accompany another dish that I then decided did not need it, so I thought it might work with the sweet potato and kale hash, a la Tacu Tacu, so I used that the next morning and topped it with a fried egg. It worked beyond my wildest expectations.

This is quick and easy enough to make for any breakfast, but it is delicious and fancy enough that it can be used for special occasions as well. And it has the added bonus of being a healthy dish as well.

A note about the kale if you are not familiar with it. Although the leaves will wilt after five minutes, it will still be quite chewy. That is something I like about kale. If you like your greens soft, I would recommend that you go with Swiss chard or spinach. Either would work just as well and the greens will be more tender.

Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 4 servings

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 bunch of kale, swiss chard, or other greens, leaves and stems separated and chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and the kale stems and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the wine and the water. If the liquid cools down the skillet, let it come back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender. Remove the lid and add the kale greens. Cook, stirring frequently, until the greens have completely wilted and whatever liquid remains has evaporated, about 5 more minutes.

Adjust for seasonings and serve immediately over rice with a fried egg on top.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chana Dal with Yoghurt

Chana dal is a small dried chickpea that has been peeled and split in two.  It is similar in size and appearance to green and yellow split peas, but unlike the green pea it does not turn into mush when cooked, and it has a nuttier taste than the yellow split peas.  It cooks faster than the larger European chickpeas and makes a lovely dal, which is how I used it here.

 If you want to start using more legumes in your diet but find yourself tired of your usual methods of preparing them, dals are a great way to expand your repertoire.  If you do not have all of the spices that are required for a recipe, you can easily just use commercially prepared sweet curry powder that is available at the grocery store.  That's how I started, then as I started buying more of the individual spices that make up curry powder I started using those in addition to, and then instead of, the store-bought version.

If you are going to substitute curry powder, I would suggest that you total the amount of all of the spices, and then round down for the amount of curry powder to use.  The amount of spice in a dish is determined so much by personal taste anyway that you should quickly get a feel for how much to use based on how spicy/hot you like your food.  The main thing to remember is that in most cases it should be added to the oil and aromatics and cooked for about a minute to get rid of the raw flavor, and to release the oils in the spices.

But I still have the store-bought curry powder in my pantry, because sometimes I am in a hurry and have neither the time nor the inclination to use the individual spices.  But do take the time to seek out a curry powder that you like.  There are many different blends out there, and their freshness depends on how frequently they turn over at the store.  I buy my sweet curry powder at The Spice House, where you can find this helpful information about the different kinds and decide which one you want to use.

I was also gifted with a container of Madras Tamarind Hot Curry from New World Spices, and it has become one of my favorite blends.  I like it especially with the Spiced Tomato and Red Lentil Soup recipe that I posted about here.

Like most dals, this one is pairs well with homemade chapati.  But if I am not in the mood to make chapatis, it is equally delicious with plain or dill brown rice.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes
Makes 4 servings

1 cup chana dal
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp nigella seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 medium red onion, quartered and sliced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 large or 2 small serrano peppers, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
yogurt and cilantro for garnish

Sort through and rinse the chana dal, then soak in 3 cups of water for 2 hours. Drain the soaked beans.

Bring the 3 cups of broth plus the cup of water to a boil. Add the chana dal and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Add more water if needed.

Combine the oil and nigella seeds in a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium high. Once the seeds are sizzling, add the cumin and mustard seeds and let them sit for about 30 seconds, until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they are translucent, then add the garlic, ginger and serrano. Cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are well softened.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, until the tomato paste has started to darken. Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander and paprika and cook for another minute to release the oils and fragrances from the spices. Add the cooked chana dal with any remaining liquid and combine. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If it is too thick, add water.
Cook for another minute or two to let the flavors blend. Add the yoghurt and cilantro, stir, and remove from the heat. Serve immediately, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and cilantro leaves.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Monday, January 07, 2013

Napa Cabbage Salad with Snow Peas and Toasted Almonds

Here's a lovely salad that you can whip up quickly while you are preparing the rest of your meal. It is light and crisp and goes well with chicken or fish.  I came up with the idea when I was looking for a way to use the rest of a batch of balsamic vinaigrette I had whipped up for a salad.  I had half of a Napa cabbage in the crisper and that inspired me to create something with Asian flavors.  From there it was a simple step to add the snow peas and cucumber to the mix.  Celery would also make an excellent addition.  The toasted almonds provide a visual and textural contrast that makes the salad both appealing and delicious.

Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 2 large or 4 small servings

1 shallot, cut in half and thinly sliced
rice wine vinegar
1 small or 1/2 large head of Napa cabbage, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced
1/4 lb snow peas, pods trimmed and cut into thirds
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds or 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Place the sliced shallot in a small bowl and cover with the rice wine vinegar.  Set it aside and let the shallots soak in the vinegar while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Combine the cabbage, cucumber and snow peas in a large bowl.  Drain the shallots and add them to the bowl, along with the ginger.

Combine the vinaigrette and the soy sauce and pour it over the salad.  Sprinkle the toasted sesame oil over the top and toss to mix well.

Serve garnished with the toasted almonds or sesame seeds.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Fennel and Potato Frittata

As the summer produce has waned I have not been making many frittatas, but I wanted to share this one as it was a particularly good frittata, with just a few simple ingredients:  eggs, potato, onions, garlic, fennel and cheese.  The secret? Adding a scant half teaspoon of fennel seeds to the oil just before adding the potatoes.  The more I use those little devils the more I like them, and they seem especially appropriate to use with fennel; although they do not taste the same, they have the same hint of anise and complement each other beautifully.

Fennel seeds are also good with braised meats and vegetables.  I will often throw them into the hot oil just before adding the aromatics or searing the meat.  Their distinct flavor is not something I want all of the time, though, so I only use them when I am looking for that slightly nutty, licorice undertone to a dish.

Everything else about this frittata is the same as the many others that I have made.  After adding the seeds to the oil and letting them simmer for a minute or so I add the sliced potato and let them have a chance to brown for a few minutes before adding the onion, garlic, and sliced fennel.   When the vegetables are cooked through I add the egg mixture and let it set, sprinkle about a fourth of a cup of grated parmesan over the top, and put it in the broiler for a couple of minutes for the top to set and the cheese to brown.

Pure deliciousness.  For the recipe, go here.  For the basic technique, go here.  For a lotta frittata, go here.
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