Thursday, May 15, 2008

Potato, Pea and Mushroom Curry


This recipe had its origins around 25 years or more ago with one by Charmaine Solomon. It has then of course been transmuted somewhat :)

3/4 lb small red potatoes (the kind that look the size of new potatoes)
3/4 lb mushrooms (button and cremini is what I use, mixed)
1 cup peas, shelled (ok to use frozen - but save them for the last ten minutes)
1 smallish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic or to taste, finely chopped
1/3 cup or so chopped fresh coriander / cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp or to taste grated ginger root
1-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
3/4 cup of water
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
1-1/2 tsp garam masala (your own mix or a good commercial blend)

Scrub the potatoes and if there are any larger ones halve them to about the size of the button mushrooms. If you only have larger potatoes, that’s okay - just cut them lengthways a couple of times and then across to the same rough size as the button mushrooms.

Wipe the mushrooms and, if there are larger ones, halve them. But the dish requires a chunky look rather than a ‘chopped’ look.

Put the onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook in a little water (or, if you prefer, you can use a couple of tsp olive oil) until they start to go translucent. Add the garlic and the ginger and throw in the the coriander leaves and give it a stir around for one minute or two. Add the turmeric and cayenne. (If you’re not sure about how ‘hot’ this will be with the cayenne, you can add a quarter tsp and then, later, add the rest if you think it would be good.) (If you are using fresh peas add them now and stir these quickly with the other vegetables). Add the water and salt, if using, and cover, lowering heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

After that 15 minutes, add the garam masala and stir well and, if you have decided to use the frozen peas instead of the fresh ones, add these now. Add a little water if you think it needs it before covering the pan again for another 10 to 15 minutes. You want the potatoes to be just cooked, not broken or mushy.

When the potatoes are done, the liquid should be just about evaporated but the dish should be coated in a light sauce containing the spices. Taste for seasonings and adjust, stir well.

Garnish with more chopped coriander leaves.

You can serve with basmati rice or, like we do, with brown basmati rice - or of course your favourite Indian bread. Add a small ‘salad’ or two and you’re well away!

This one, which we decided to have today, was just tomatoes with chopped onion, a tiny dash of salt, lemon juice and a sprinkle of ground cardamom. The green leaves of course are coriander/cilantro :)


Monday, May 12, 2008

Red River Raw Borscht, Cauliflower Salad, Tomato Plate, Kale and Apple Salad

If you've been reading this blog at all, you know that my dh and I love beets - hot, cold, pickled, in soup, in salads, however they come and the redder the better. Recently I made a raw beet salad - and was absolutely amazed at how good it was. And I have tried a few raw soups with similar success. But raw borscht??? I didn't think so. I did, however find a recipe for a raw borscht with garlic and dill and a cup of soaked-overnight almonds (which would have 'creamed' it), and, of course, cabbage and beets in Brigitte Mars's Rawsome! and thought, well, it can be done. So I turned to my previous variations on conventional cooked borscht, thought of some amendements, and within minutes had a raw version chilling in the refrigerator. My dh pronounced it excellent, and I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly too.


3/4 pound red beets, peeled and chopped
1 large clove garlic
two large handfuls of fresh spinach (I'd have preferred beet greens, but it's early in the year for that)
1-1/4 cups cranberries (I used some I'd frozen earlier)
zest, juice and chopped flesh of 1 orange (blood orange, if you have it)
4 sundried tomatoes, soaked and chopped (soaking liquid reserved)
large handful dulse, lightly rinsed, chopped (other sea vegetable would be good, but I was keeping with red.)
1-1/2 tsp miso
2 or 3 dashes cayenne (optional, but it gives it a nice extra zip)
enough water to blend the ingredients and to reach the desired consistency

Set a few cranberries aside for garnish, if you wish, and put the rest of the ingredients with the soaking liquid from the dried tomatoes and a cup or more of water into a blender. Puree well, adding more water as needed. Add any extra water to bring to your preferred thickness. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Regrigerate until needed, for a cold soup, or serve at room temperature.

Garnish with cranberries and, if you like, fresh herbs, etc. Serve chilled with freshly ground black pepper.

And - oh yes, the name of the soup? My very first taste of borscht was in the late '40s and came from the kitchen of a lady who had migrated to Manitoba from the Ukraine. The soup was strong (not, I imagine, vegetarian!), chunky, full of many wonderful things, and was like no soup I'd ever eaten before. I loved it! This soup is named in honour of that long-ago hospitality. Thank you, Mrs B.

And now for some raw vegetable dishes we've been enjoying - nothing tricky, nothing fiddly, but all fresh and delicious!


This was pretty simple and almost embarrassingly easy, but it was good enough to pass on for a quick and easy dish to add to any array of salads or to have alone with some chunky French bread if you prefer. The addition of the sea vegetable adds a dimension I wouldn't have believed. Lovely :)

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 or 3 green/spring onions, cut across into chunky rounds
handful of dulse, lightly rinsed and chopped into small pieces
a couple of handfuls of 'baby' carrots
1 or 2 tsp Bragg's Aminos / All-Purpose Soy Seasoning, or low-sodium soy (not strictly raw)
Zest and juice of one lime

Whisk the last two ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Toss to lightly flavour all the vegetables with citrus and the soy. Serve with more lime wedges if you wish.

And sometimes the simplest methods sometimes escape me when I'm hassled for time. This is one of those. Tomatoes are great, just sliced and passed at the table, of course. When I'm thinking ahead even half an hour (an hour if I can), however, I like to increase the flavour a little this way (not a great photo or a very classy presentation, but you get the idea):


1 large tomato or as many as you wish to serve, thinly sliced
2 thin slices of onion, separated into rings or half-rings
sea salt
large handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime
freshly ground black pepper
ground cummin to sprinkle to taste

At least half an hour before serving, sprinkle the tomatoes in a bowl with a little salt, layering with the onion and, if you wish, a little of the chopped cilantro. Squeeze a little lime juice over the lot.

Give the tomato mixture a couple of gentle turns in the bowl during the next half hour or so (being careful not to break up the tomato slices).

Arrange the slices of tomato and onion on a plate, add freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle or two of ground cummin and the rest of the cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Everyone knows how much I love eating kale. It's full of good things, including loads of calcium, but it's also so good in flavour. There are different kinds of kale, but this lovely green curly kale is what is available to me now. I'm always making salads from it these days, and I just vary the ingredients and the seasonings to make it a little different each time.


1 head of kale
1 or 2 slices of onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sweet red apple
small handful of raisins
raw cider vinegar, to taste
tsp raw agave syrup
Squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste
sprinkle of Braggs Aminos, to taste (optional) - or you could use low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
dash or two of cayenne (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Strip the leaves only from the kale stems, wash, and tear into small pieces and place in a large bowl. 'Massage' these with your hands, deliberately bruising and wilting the leaves for a few minutes, until they take up less volume in the bowl and have turned darker green (as if lightly cooked). Don't worry about overdoing this - this pseudo-cooked texture is nice - taste a little as you go along!

Chop the onion, garlic and add to the kale when it is ready. If you're not going to serve immediately, chop/slice the apple just before adding the dressing - to avoid having the cut apple go brown - or sprinkle it with a little lemon juice meanwhile while it waits. Add the raisins.

Mix together the cider vinegar, agave syrup, lemon or lime juice, Braggs or soy sauce with the cayenne, if using.

Pour this dressing over the rest of the ingredients and toss. Serve in your favourite salad bowl (if you're not already using it!) with other salads or as a first course.

You'd be amazed at how lively we feel with eating so much raw food (although we're not 100 per cent raw - and our condiments are not yet completely raw) - and it certainly saves a lot of time in the kitchen! Next acquisition will be a dehydrator - than watch out!!!!!