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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Curried Kala Chana in Coconut Milk

The month of September this year is probably my busiest month.  I'm out of town all week with little room for innovation in the kitchen and on the weekends, there are a plethora of activities and invitations planned.  This leaves me approximatley 1/2 day a week to become intimately involved in my own kitchen with all its spices and tools, and dry ingredients (since I haven't been shopping much for my empty house).  When I finally do get cozy, I want comfort and regeneration.  Something that will wipe the stress and fatigue away and get me ready and willing to face the crazy upcoming week.
Anything involving chickpeas, beans, or daal does the trick..
Serves 6
1 cup black chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender in the crockpot
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch hing
1 inch piece ginger, grated 
1 green chili, split and seeded
3 garlic cloves, grated
2 medium shallots, sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 tomato, chopped
10 small cubes frozen spinach (about 200g)
1 can coconut milk
3 Tbsp dried methi (fenugreek leaves)
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 cup reserved chickpea cooking water
Salt to taste
chopped green onions for garnish
1.  Heat the coconut oil on high in a wok or tadka and add the cumin, mustard, fennel, and fenugreek seeds.  Cook until the seeds start to sputter, about 30 seconds.
2.  Add the turmeric and hing.  It should fizz, then add the ginger, garlic, and green chili.  Cook until fragrant.
3.  Add the shallots and carrots.  Cook until the shallots are translucent, about 2-3 minutes, stirring.
4.  Add in the tomato and spinach.  You want the tomato to "melt" a bit.
5.  Add the coconut milk.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes.  The spinach should be completely thawed.  If you choose to use fresh, it should be wilted.
6.  Add in the kala chana, lim, and methi.  Bring to a boil.  If too thick, add in some of the cooking water from the kala chana.  I added about 1 cup.  Taste and add salt as needed.
7.  Simmer on low until ready to eat.  I left mine about 30 minutes on a very very low simmer.

Serve over some rice and topped with some chopped green onions.
I cooked my basmati/red rice in the kala chana cooking water, so it came out brownish, but I really felt I needed to use up every nutrient I had available for my regeneration to be complete.
I also roasted some chicken thighs in some tandoori chicken spices, but that it completely optional.  I enjoyed this so much I'm already dreaming about having it again for lunch tomorrow..
there is something about mixing chickpeas with spinach, coconut, and rice that makes me feel born again.. 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ma La Ice Cream at Terre Adelice

I'm a sucker for ice cream.  Not just any ice cream, mind you, and if you know me even a little bit I may have already mentioned to you the existence of piment d'espelette or tomato ice cream.  You may have been appalled, but I may then have piqued your curiosity.  Opportunities involving such bizarre mixtures in dessert should never be passed up in one's life, because one does not know when that opportunity may come up again...especially when one has been waiting years for that 2 hour drive to happen so one could blissfully slurp that chili pepper ice cream while admiring the beautiful view of the Monts de l'Ardeche.
I've been frequenting the Terre Adelice here in Lyon for quite some time, enjoying flavors such as wasabi, goat cheese, bell pepper, pain d'epices, cucumber, ginger, pine nut, sesame.. and I'm not finished naming them all.  Their ice cream is such high quality and most of the time, organic, that I always must taste a different flavor every time I'm in the area.  Their website shows all the different flavors they make, and after consulting it for the first time, I felt lust at first sight.
I absolutely had to try the Piment d'Espelette ice cream.
Unfortunately, the one in Lyon doesn't carry that flavor (because it must be so rarely requested, being that we are in France, the country of wimpy palets.. hehe) so I had to seek out the social chair, about 150km south of here in a lovely region called Ardeche.
 This desire has been haunting me for quite some time.  I even went near the actual city of Espelette in search of an ice cream glorifying their precious chili pepper but to no avail.
The social chair is only open everyday during July and August.  The rest of the year it is only weekday afternoons and closes at 5pm.  This is the reason it took me so long to make the trip... but today was my lucky day...
Upon arriving I saw the Terre Adelice signs and followed the one that showed the "store" and tasting area.  I had to ring a bell for the girl to come down and open up for me.
As she opened the doors, I felt myself drool.  I had been imagining the mix of spicy sweet with numbing sweet.. the perfect Ma La dessert.. for ages.  When I saw the scoop section, I almost cried.  There were only the traditional flavors available.  Vanilla, chocolate, peach..
Please, lady, I just made a 2 and a half hour detour coming home from a business trip for your piment d'espelette and sichuan pepper ice cream and you're offering me vanilla?
I was only expecting to leave with my 2 scoops and then be off with a photo and a salivary memory.
Instead, I was off with 3 pints.  Piment d'espelette, Sichuan pepper, and beet.  No tasting these flavors, since nobody ever asks for them.
Ha (I thought to myself) I have an ice chest in the car, and I don't really care if it melts, I'm bringing some of that goodness home.

And in the end, it worked out better this way, because I will get to indulge over and over again in this sweet spicy numbing earthy dessert.
I would have driven (and did by the way) all across the country for this.

I do realize that those chiles in the photo are chile de arboles... but I didn't have any (fresh or dried) piment d'espelettes.  Oh my Chile de Arbole ice cream would be an extreme flavor.. I'm going to have to incept that idea into the people that harvest those fresh...

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Back home from Marseille Plancha

When I'm out of town all week for work, I usually want to cook up a storm upon returning home.. except I usually don't have anything in the fridge.. and this time I couldn't really go shopping "for real" because I'm going to be out of town for work all month and home only on the weekends.
What an excellent excuse for plancha!!
Of course I bought way more than 2 people could eat in one sitting, but it's mostly the pleasure of cooking it that makes me feel right at home.  Sardines and giant squid tentacle.  Oooh tentacles!
But home now includes sardines, which is typical Marseille fare... but to be fair, mine were from the Atlantic instead of the Mediterranean.  I usually do Med sardines because everyone says they're the best, but these Atlantic ones were meaty and more flavorful than I remember the Meds to be...
So.. cheers to the atlantic!  There will no longer be a superiority complex between your fruits and those of that minuscule little sea called the Mediterranean!
The sardines were lightly olive oiled, fleur de sel'd, piment d'espeletted and peppered before going ton the plancha at 300°C for about 2 minutes on each side.
The tentacles had the same seasoning as the sardines plus some lime juice, grated garlic and about 1 Tbsp grated ginger.  I don't know why ginger came out to play, but she is always welcome.
The tentacles went for about 5 minutes total, rotating regularly to get an even grill on each side, then sliced into rounds.
Ahhh it feels so nice to be home.. I'm savoring it..

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