DDD #77 – Vegan Smoked Dal Makhani – Punjabi-Style – Instant Pot or Not!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

I love Indian food.  I always have.  I also love cooking with dry beans & lentils because they are so inexpensive & yield many servings for pennies per serving.  The only issue with Indian recipes is acquiring the exotic spices – which can be expensive if you do not buy them from an Indian market.  Ethnic markets are always the best place to buy spices because each will typically carry all you need for recipes from that area of the world and at greatly reduced prices.  If you do not live in an area with much diversity – Amazon is wonderful.  You can typically omit a few spices from most recipes with little loss of flavor but it is really satisfying to be as authentically true to a regional recipe as possible.   With Thai food, for example, getting fresh kaffir lime leaves & Thai basil makes an enormous difference.  You just open the packages of these things and are transported to your favorite Thai restaurant.  Indian food has a few staples that are hrd to get around – garam masala, for example.  But it is stuff like cardamom & fenugreek (methi) that add authenticity.  Fenugreek is an herb – pictured below – both fresh & dried.  It also comes in seed form & as a powder and it is ubiquitous in Indian recipes in one form or another.  It might be a good idea to research a few Indian recipes & stock up on the critical spices sif you want to experiment with this wonderful cuisine.  HERE is a list of the most used spices – garam masala being the most commonly used and that list omitted the kasoori (or kasuri) methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and I would add that to your list as well as amchoor (mango powder).

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I made a version of mahkani in July – seen above – my Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker.   That dish used beluga lentils & is not as authentic as today’s recipe. In today’s recipe I used whole black lentils (also called urad dal or black gram) and red kidney beans (rajma).    I not only soaked these beans overnight but I also cooked them in my slow cooker for 5 hours on high AND left them overnight to let the flavors meld.  I recommend this (though it is not necessary) to let the beans really soften & the flavors blend – so – if you are making this dish it takes two days before you are eating it.  Again, you definitely could eat it after the 5 hours but like many stew-type dishes – it gets better over time.  The good news is – there is no prep cooking for this dish so, except for cutting up an onion & 2 peppers – the slow cooker does all the work (except the smoking process – explained below).  The lentils & beans I used are below – dry – and as they looked after soaking them – separately – overnight.  As you can see – they changed color considerably.   This dish is traditionally very rich using varied amounts of butter & heavy cream.  I used only 2 TBS of vegan butter & 1/2 cup vegan sour cream – so this dish is not quite so heavy.

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As to smoking your dal makhani – it is VERY easy & I recommend it very highly.  It just requires a chunk of a natural charcoal & a small metal bowl.  You simply heat the coal over a burner until it is red hot, place it in a metal bowl & drizzle olive oil on it & place it atop your dal & put the lid on the slow cooker.  In ten minutes – you will have authentically, smoky goodness!  (The photo of the smoking charcoal is from my Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry (Vegan – Vegetarian) – seen below.)

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Vegan Smoked Dal Makhani Punjabi-Style (Black Gram/Urad Dal & Rajma) – 

Serves 6+ with rice

INGREDIENTS

 1 cup dry black urad dal – soaked overnight

1/2 cup dry red kidney beans – soaked overnight

1 onion – diced

2 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers – seeded & diced

2 TBS vegan butter (or coconut or olive oil)

4 cups water (or vegetable stock)

1 cup tomato puree

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 TBS garam masala

1/2 tsp amchoor

2 TBS dry methi leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chili powder

3 green cardamom pods

1 TBS fresh or jarred ginger (I used jarred)

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

Steamed rice

GARNISH – more sour cream, cilantro or fresh fenugreek leaves

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DIRECTIONS

Soak the beans overnight.   Drain & rinse.

INSTANT POT

Heat the oil or butter using the saute setting – saute the onion & peppers until soft.  Put everything else in & cook, sealed, on manual for 35 minutes.

SLOWCOOKER

Put everything except the sour cream into a slow cooker & cook on high for at least 5 hours – maybe more.  If you are going for the overnight uber-cooking (as I did) – leave it covered overnight.  I left my cooker off as there was nothing in there that would spoil but – if you are not comfortable with that – add some water & leave it on warm overnight.

STOVE TOP

Heat the oil or butter and saute the onion & peppers in a large stock pot until soft.  Put everything else in & bring to a boil.  Reduce heat & simmer until the beans are tender – 30 minutes or so.

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Either way – the next step is the smoking (which you can skip but I recommend trying it because it is amazing.  Heat the coal over a burner until it is red hot, place it in a metal bowl & drizzle olive oil on it & place it atop your dal & put the lid on the slow cooker or Instant Pot or pan.  In ten minutes – you will have authentically, smoky goodness!

Now – stir in the sour cream.   If it is too thin – add water or vegan milk to thin it.  If it is too thin – cook it on high with the lid off until it thickens.  Mashing some of the dal with a wooden spoon or pureeing with an immersion blender gives an even creamier result.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream & serve with rice.

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DDD #47 – Vegan Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image below to watch a video for this recipe.


OK – this dish is really easy to make & wildly delicious!  And – you get to smoke it yourself in just five minutes!  This is a really cool new trick I learned & I cannot wait to find new ways to use it.

All you need is a piece of natural charcoal (without lighter fluid or chemicals) – like this:

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You heat it up on the stove – like this:

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There is one more step but I will get back to that later.  There are a few steps involved in the overall recipe but all are very easy!  And the only “exotic” ingredient is the garam masala.  If you cannot find it or don’t feel like looking for it – you can make it from stuff you likely already have.  Look for recipes HERE.

This recipe really makes quite a lot of this stuff – enough for four – more if you serve it with rice or naan or roti.   If you don’t have lots of folks to feed & don’t want yummy leftovers – cut the recipe in half – at least.  I like my Indian food very flavorful & I tend to double or triple the amount of spices that traditional recipes typically suggest.  I will post this recipe with a suggested amount of each thing & then tell you what I used.  This dish is spicy but not crazy spicy – but I do like heat.  If you have a more tender palate – be conservative.

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Oh – and check out this tip on how to cut an onion without crying!

Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry

Feeds 4 generously – served with rice

INGREDIENTS

2 small onions – diced

1 red bell pepper – seeded & diced

6 medium tomatoes

30 raw almonds (or raw cashews)

3+ TBS vegan butter

2 lb eggplant (any variety) – cubed

1-2 TBS ginger – minced (I used 2 but mine was jarred.  Maybe go lighter if you are using freshly grated ginger)

4-10 garlic cloves – minced (I used 10)

1-2 TBS garam masala (I used 1)

1-3 tsp chili powder (I used 1)

Cilantro – as garnish

(serve with steamed rice or naan or roti or tortillas)

for smoking the eggplant curry

1 lump of coal about the size of a lemon or larger

2 TBS olive or vegetable oil

1 small METAL bowl to safely hold the hot charcoal

You also need a large saute pan & some sort of cover.  I used my wok cover.

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DIRECTIONS

Soak the nuts in some water for 5 minutes.  I used this metal dog food dish & used it again later in the smoking process.

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(In the video version – I did not peel the tomatoes so feel free to skip this step.)  Meanwhile – poke some holes in your tomatoes with the tip of a knife & drop them into boiling water.  After a few minutes – you will see the skins curling off.  Drain & run under cool water until you can handle them without burning yourself.  Then core them.

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Drain the nuts & then puree them in a blender with the tomatoes.  Set aside.

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Heat 3 TBS of vegan butter or olive oil in a large saute pan – large enough to hold ALL the ingredients.   Over high heat – saute the onions & red bell pepper & eggplant.  Saute until the eggplant begins to brown.  Add more vegan butter or olive oil if needed.  This should take about 10 minutes.

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Add the garam masala & chili powder & the ginger – stir to incorporate.  Add the garlic & stir for one minute – then add the tomato puree.  Boil this for about 5-7 minutes until it thickens.  If it gets too thick – add a bit of water.

When it looks about like this:

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TURN OFF THE HEAT & put your metal bowl in the center of the pan.

Now – heat up the charcoal – like this:

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When it is red hot or graying on the outside – USE METAL TONGS & put it in the bowl in the center of your curry.  Then pour some olive or vegetable oil on it  It will immediately begin smoking so – if you have a hood with vents – turn them on.   Quickly – cover it up with a pot cover of some sort.  I used my old & very beaten up wok cover.

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Let this sit for 5-10 minutes & let the smoke work its magic.  I went 6 minutes because I was afraid it would be too smoky.  It wasn’t.  In the future – I will go for ten minutes.  CAREFULLY remove the metal bowl – with two pairs of tongs.  DO NOT BURN YOURSELF!

DEFINITELY season this with salt.  Do not be shy – but add it in increments.  Salt is under-rated as a spice.

Then – just serve this over some rice or with naan or a tortilla or roti – garnished with some cilantro.

Awesome?  Right?

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DDD #32 – Vegan Carrot “Smoked Salmon” (Lox) & Carrot Hot Dogs

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Ok – I have been seeing versions of these two recipes everywhere & decided I had to try them.  I have a video of my efforts on my Youtube channel.  Click the image below to watch.

 

Neither of these is difficult to pull off but for my money, neither was really worth the effort.  Despite looking as convincing as you could really hope – the flavors were not especially strong.  A fun & novel experiment.

Vegan Carrot “Smoked Salmon” (Lox)

INGREDIENTS
2-3 cups coarse salt

3 large unpeeled carrots

 

Kelp granules and/or Roasted sesame seeds & Seaweed and/or Nori sheets

for the marinade

1 TBS miso paste

2 TBS olive oil

Several dashes liquid smoke

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp kelp granules (or use only kelp granules)

1 tsp roasted sesame seeds & seaweed (or use only this)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Create a thick layer of salt in an oven-safe pan.  Place the carrots on top & sprinkle the carrots on both sides with kelp granules and the roasted sesame seeds & seaweed – or – wrap each carrot in a slice or nori.  Do not let carrots touch the pan.  Cover with salt & bake for 90 minutes.

Removes carrots from salt and, when cool enough to handle, slice as thinly as possible.  Even consider using a vegetable peeler or mandolin.  Mix the marinade & marinate the carrot slices for 2 or more days.  Be sure the carrots are always in contact with the moisture.

Serve as you would serve smoked salmon.  I used bagels, sliced tomato, red onion, capers, dill, lemon and S&P.

Carrot Hot Dogs

INGREDIENTS

Carrots – peeled down to a hot dog shape

Olive oil for frying

for the marinade

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

1 TBS rice vinegar

1 TBS sesame oil

1/2 TBS apple cider vinegar

A few dashes liquid smoke

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

Peel the carrots down to hot dog shapes.  Boil for about 8 minutes or until they have the tenderness of a hot dog.

Whisk the marinade together & submerge the carrots in it.  Add water or soy sauce to cover them.  Marinate overnight or longer.

Fry the carrots in a little olive oil & serve as you would eat a hot dog.

 

 

 

Baked Vegetarian Penne Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is rich & comforting & easy to make.  I made the sauce but you could use a jar of your favorite kind.  I used real cheese – you can use a vegan alternative – or even omit it.    If you go with no cheese – there is no reason to bake it & you can serve it right from the stove top.  The real key to this is grilling the eggplant – to get rid of that texture & add a smokiness that adds to the autumnal flavors of this dish.

Baked Vegetarian Penna Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

Serve 4 well

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta

Olive oil

1 eggplant – sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

28 oz chopped tomatoes

6-10 cherry tomatoes – quartered (optional)

1-6 garlic cloves (to taste) – chopped

8 oz smoked mozzarella – grated

1 cup regular (or more smoked) mozzarella – grated

1 tsp – 1 TBS crushed red pepper (to taste)

1 tsp oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley – chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil – chopped

S&P

Garnish: more grated cheese (Parmesan or Asiago), chopped fresh basil or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven (if you are using cheese) to 350 degrees.

Cook & drain the pasta.

Either brush the eggplant with olive oil r spray with cooking spray & grill (or a grill or grill pan) – for a few minutes on each side until they are nicely grilled.  Cool & chop.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a stock pan.  When hot – add the garlic & cook one minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes, crushed red pepper, oregano, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, basil & parsley.  Cook on low for a while until it thickens & the flavors meld.  Maybe 20 minutes or so.  Add the cooked pasta & toss.  If not using cheese – serve & garnish once it is heated through.

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If using cheese – add the 8 oz grated smoked mozzarella & toss.  Put it into a greased casserole & top with the remaining cup of grated cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbling.

Garnish with cheese or herbs & serve!

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Vegan Creamy Dal Makhani Punjabi-Style (Black Gram/Urad Dal & Rajma) – for the Slow Cooker

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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I love Indian food.  I always have.  I also love cooking with dry beans & lentils because they are so inexpensive & yield many servings for pennies per serving.  The only issue with Indian recipes is acquiring the exotic spices – which can be expensive if you do not buy them from an Indian market.  Ethnic markets are always the best place to buy spices because each will typically carry all you need for recipes from that area of the world and at greatly reduced prices.  If you do not live in an area with much diversity – Amazon is wonderful.  You can typically omit a few spices from most recipes with little loss of flavor but it is really satisfying to be as authentically true to a regional recipe as possible.   With Thai food, for example, getting fresh kaffir lime leaves & Thai basil makes an enormous difference.  You just open the packages of these things and are transported to your favorite Thai restaurant.  Indian food has a few staples that are hrd to get around – garam masala, for example.  But it is stuff like cardamom & fenugreek (methi) that add authenticity.  Fenugreek is an herb – pictured below – both fresh & dried.  It also comes in seed form & as a powder and it is ubiquitous in Indian recipes in one form or another.  It might be a good idea to research a few Indian recipes & stock up on the critical spices sif you want to experiment with this wonderful cuisine.  HERE is a list of the most used spices – garam masala being the most commonly used and that list omitted the kasoori (or kasuri) methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and I would add that to your list as well as amchoor (mango powder).

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I made a version of mahkani in July – seen above – my Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker.   That dish used beluga lentils & is not as authentic as today’s recipe. In today’s recipe I used whole black lentils (also called urad dal or black gram) and red kidney beans (rajma).    I not only soaked these beans overnight but I also cooked them in my slow cooker for 5 hours on high AND left them overnight to let the flavors meld.  I recommend this (though it is not necessary) to let the beans really soften & the flavors blend – so – if you are making this dish it takes two days before you are eating it.  Again, you definitely could eat it after the 5 hours but like many stew-type dishes – it gets better over time.  The good news is – there is no prep cooking for this dish so, except for cutting up an onion & 2 peppers – the slow cooker does all the work (except the smoking process – explained below).  The lentils & beans I used are below – dry – and as they looked after soaking them – separately – overnight.  As you can see – they changed color considerably.   This dish is traditionally very rich using varied amounts of butter & heavy cream.  I used only 2 TBS of vegan butter & 1/2 cup vegan sour cream – so this dish is not quite so heavy.

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As to smoking your dal makhani – it is VERY easy & I recommend it very highly.  It just requires a chunk of a natural charcoal & a small metal bowl.  You simply heat the coal over a burner until it is red hot, place it in a metal bowl & drizzle olive oil on it & place it atop your dal & put the lid on the slow cooker.  In ten minutes – you will have authentically, smoky goodness!  (The photo of the smoking charcoal is from my Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry (Vegan – Vegetarian) – seen below.)

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Vegan Creamy Dal Makhani Punjabi-Style (Black Gram/Urad Dal & Rajma) – for the Slow Cooker

Serves 6+ with rice

INGREDIENTS

 1 cup dry black urad dal – soaked overnight

1/2 cup dry red kidney beans – soaked overnight

1 onion – diced

2 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers – seeded & diced

2 TBS vegan butter

4 cups water (or vegetable stock)

1 cup tomato puree

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 TBS garam masala

1/2 tsp amchoor

2 TBS dry methi leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chili powder

2 green cardamom pods

1 TBS fresh or jarred ginger (I used jarred)

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

Steamed rice

GARNISH – more sour cream, cilantro or fresh fenugreek leaves

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DIRECTIONS

Soak the beans overnight.

Put everything except the sour cream into a slow cooker & cook on high for at least 5 hours – maybe more.  If you are going for the overnight uber-cooking (as I did) – leave it covered overnight.  I left my cooker off as there was nothing in there that would spoil but – if you are not comfortable with that – add some water & leave it on warm overnight.

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Either way – the next step is the smoking (which you can skip but I recommend trying it because it is amazing.  Heat the coal over a burner until it is red hot, place it in a metal bowl & drizzle olive oil on it & place it atop your dal & put the lid on the slow cooker.  In ten minutes – you will have authentically, smoky goodness!

Now – stir in the sour cream.   If it is too thin – add water or vegan milk to thin it.  If it is too thin – cook it on high with the lid off until it thickens.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream & serve with rice.

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Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko

2 Comments

 

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

~

All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

~

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This is the second installment of my mac & cheese hat trick.   Easy & THIS one was the crowd pleaser of the three.  The other day I posted Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork) in Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce – seen just above.  I kinda liked that one the best but this one is simple & elegant.  Just do not be heavy-handed with the truffle oil because it gets overpowering quickly,  Also – be sure it is not old – because it goes rancid faster than most oils or, maybe because you typically use it sparingly, it just sits around past its shelf life but be sure to sniff it before using it.

Here is the mint & zucchini mac & cheese!

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Again – I cooked these for a birthday party (the three versions) and did not photograph them out of the oven.  The photos in ramekins were taken the following day as I reheated leftovers.   You could cook yours in a casserole pan or in ramekins.  Either way, it still tastes delicious!

Without further ado – I present my Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko!

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Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta – cooked, drained & cooled under running water

12 oz smoked Gouda – grated

2 cups mozzarella – grated

A few tsp truffle oil (black or white) used in a quantity to suit you particular tolerance of the flavor

1 TBS Dijon

4 cups milk

4 TBS butter

4 TBS flour

S&P

1-2 cups panko

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook & cool the pasta.  Drizzle about 1 tsp truffle oil on it & stir it in.  Set aside.

Warm the milk.

In another pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & then add the flour.  Whisk constantly & it should bet thick pretty fast.  Heat it until it starts to turn a golden sandy color.  Then, reserving ONE CUP of the milk to the side for later, add the remaining 3 cups of milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking the whole time, until all the milk is incorporated & it is sorta thick – but still pourable.

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Whisk in the Dijon and a tsp of truffle oil.  Taste it & decide whether you think it could use more truffle oil.  I did not add more here – but you can if you like.  All truffle oil is not created equal & some may be stronger than others & the amount required is a matter of personal preference.  Add S&P.

Now add the smoked Gouda & the mozzarella.  When the cheese is all melted & incorporated, mix in the pasta.  Taste it.  Does it need more truffle oil?  You decide but try to go light with it.

At this point, I felt my pasta was too dry & might get ruined in the oven so I stirred in the remaining cup of milk.   This is also a judgement call.  I like wetter mac & cheese – others like it drier.  Use your judgement.  The top picture is before I added milk & the next shows what it looked like with a cup of milk added.

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The truffle mac & cheese is above on the right.

Treat a casserole pan or a bunch of ramekins with cooking spray & put the pasta in.  Top with panko.  I sprayed the panko with cooking spray.  It helps add some crunch to the breadcrumbs.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until it is all melty & the panko is beginning to brown.

Serve with additional truffle oil on the table so folks can add more if they like a heavy truffle flavor.

Enjoy!

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Baked Rigatoni with Spicy Slow Cooker Fennel and Grilled Eggplant Sauce and Smoked Mozzarella (Scamorza)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Working a long day & coming home to a house filled with dogs is lovely but it would be even more lovely if they fucking cooked once in a while.  It would be really nice – for once – to come home to a homemade meal filling the house with tempting aromas & a nice glass of wine already poured & waiting for me.

The fact is – I am NEVER too tired to pour my own glass of wine but the home-cooked meal can really be a daunting pain in the ass and, as a result, I have been living largely on tortilla pizzas.  I complained to the badass, Miles Miller, that I really needed to get myself a little wife action – a little “Honey, you’re home!”  A little bit of someone slaving away in the kitchen for me prepping a warm & delicious meal – as I toiled elsewhere.

And then I remembered my slow cooker!  Slow cookers have always appealed to me but never more than now.  With my trusty crock pot chugging away in my absence – I COULD come home to a house filled with yummy smells & a warm dinner waiting for me.

And so – I dug through my fridge & pantry yesterday to see what I could throw together.

This is not the most basic slow cooker recipe as it requires prepping a few things before slow cooking and assembling a few things & throwing them in the oven after the slow cooker has worked its magic but it is still pretty easy & my house DID smell amazing when I walked in last night.  It was very welcoming.

I had a random collection of ingredients handy but they worked incredibly well together.  I grilled my eggplant first but this is not necessary.  I used fennel because I had it.  You could use these things or make your sauce with other stuff you like – sausage, for example.  The real key to this was the smoked mozzarella.  Smoked mozzarella adds a meaty richness to dishes and it made my baked rigatoni feel comforting & seem autumnal.  Try it.  I actually used Scamorza – which is basically mozzarella.  I had two little balls that were smaller than a pool ball and just one of them added enough oomph to make this dish incredible.

DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED by the ingredients list.  Look at it.  It is mostly spices & other crap you likely have around already.

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Baked Rigatoni with Spicy Slow Cooker Fennel and Grilled Eggplant Sauce and Smoked Mozzarella (Scamorza)

INGREDIENTS

About 12 oz pasta – cooked, drained & tossed with a bit of olive oil

Olive oil

4 oz smoked mozzarella (or more)

Parsley – chopped (as garnish)

1-2 cups grated mozzarella (regular not smoked)

for the sauce (this makes about 10 cups of sauce but the baked pasta only requires HALF of that – so either be prepared to freeze some or cut the recipe in half)

2 (10 oz) cans of Rotel (or other fire roasted tomatoes)

2 (26 oz) cans or boxes of crushed and/or strained tomatoes (I used one of each)

1 cup tomato juice (I used a spicy V8 but any will do – or just add a cup of tomato sauce)

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine (or  water)

1 eggplant – sliced & grilled or simply cubed without grilling (I dredged my eggplant in Newman’s Own Lite Italian dressing before grilling but olive oil is fine)

2 fennel bulbs – sliced very thin

1 red onion – diced

4-10 garlic cloves (I used 10)

1-3 TBS crushed red pepper (I used 3 and the sauce was genuinely spicy)

2 tsp salt

1 TBS black pepper

2 TBS dry oregano

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

Fresh herbs (I used a big handful of basil, a large sprig of fresh rosemary, a few sprigs of fresh thyme & a small sprig of fresh oregano but any combo you have will do – basil being most important)

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DIRECTIONS

Prep:

Cook the pasta & toss with olive oil & put it in the fridge until assembly time.

Grill the eggplant – if you are if you are doing that – and chop it.  I dipped mine in Italian dressing & grilled on my stove but a grill pan will do.  Or – just cube it & cook it a bit with the fennel & onion.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan & saute the WHOLE garlic cloves & fennel & onion (and eggplant – if you are not grilling it) & cook (stirring frequently) – over medium heat – until the vegetables are soft & beginning to brown a bit.

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Now, put all the sauce ingredients (don’t forget the water!!!) into your slow cooker & set it on low.  I left mine for ten hours.

Go away.  Come home.  Smell the yummy smells!!!

Assembly time!  Half an hour or so before you want to eat – continue with the recipe.

Heat the oven to 350.

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Remove any hard stems that might be in your sauce (most of mine had broken down – with the exception of the rosemary stems).

Treat a casserole pan with some cooking spray.  Put the pasta in there & toss with about a cup of grated regular mozzarella & about 5 cups of the sauce.

Top with more sauce if you want to & maybe about a cup of grated mozzarella.  Top with sliced or grated smoked mozzarella (Scamorza) & bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until it is bubbling at the edges & the cheese is just turning golden a bit.

Serve that shit up with some chopped parsley & congratulate yourself on what a good little wife you got when you bought that slow cooker!

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Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry (Vegan – Vegetarian)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans back

OK – this dish is really easy to make & wildly delicious!  And – you get to smoke it yourself in just five minutes!  This is a really cool new trick I learned & I cannot wait to find new ways to use it.

All you need is a piece of natural charcoal (without lighter fluid or chemicals) – like this:

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You heat it up on the stove – like this:

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There is one more step but I will get back to that later.  There are a few steps involved in the overall recipe but all are very easy!  And the only “exotic” ingredient is the garam masala.  If you cannot find it or don’t feel like looking for it – you can make it from stuff you likely already have.  Look for recipes HERE.

 

This recipe really makes quite a lot of this stuff – enough for four – more if you serve it with rice or naan or roti.   If you don’t have lots of folks to feed & don’t want yummy leftovers – cut the recipe in half – at least.  I like my Indian food very flavorful & I tend to double or triple the amount of spices that traditional recipes typically suggest.  I will post this recipe with a suggested amount of each thing & then tell you what I used.  This dish is spicy but not crazy spicy – but I do like heat.  If you have a more tender palate – be conservative.

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Oh – and check out this tip on how to cut an onion without crying!

Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry

Feeds 4 generously – served with rice

INGREDIENTS

2 small onions – diced

1 red bell pepper – seeded & diced

6 medium tomatoes

30 raw almonds (or raw cashews)

3+ TBS ghee (or butter or olive oil if you are vegan)

2 lb eggplant (any variety) – cubed

1-2 TBS ginger – minced (I used 2 but mine was jarred.  Maybe go lighter if you are using freshly grated ginger)

4-10 garlic cloves – minced (I used 10)

1-2 TBS garam masala (I used 2)

1-3 tsp chili powder (I used 3)

Cilantro – as garnish

(serve with steamed rice or naan or roti or tortillas)

for smoking the eggplant curry

1 lump of coal about the size of a lemon or larger

2 TBS olive or vegetable oil

1 small METAL bowl to safely hold the hot charcoal

You also need a large saute pan & some sort of cover.  I used my wok cover.

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DIRECTIONS

Soak the nuts in some water for 5 minutes.  I used this metal dog food dish & used it again later in the smoking process.

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Meanwhile – poke some holes in your tomatoes with the tip of a knife & drop them into boiling water.  After a few minutes – you will see the skins curling off.  Drain & run under cool water until you can handle them without burning yourself.  Then core them.

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Drain the nuts & then puree them in a blender with the tomatoes.  Set aside.

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Heat 3 TBS of the ghee or butter or olive oil in a large saute pan – large enough to hold ALL the ingredients.   Over med-high heat – saute the onions & red bell pepper & eggplant.  Saute until the eggplant begins to brown.  Add more ghee (or butter or olive oil) if needed.  I probably added another 1-2 TBS in the process.  This should take about 10 minutes. Raise the heat a bit if the eggplant doesn’t begin to brown after 10 minutes.

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Add the garam masala & chili powder & the ginger – stir to incorporate.  Add the garlic & stir for one minute – then add the tomato puree.  Boil this for about 5-7 minutes until it thickens.  If it gets too thick – add a bit of water.

When it looks about like this:

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TURN OFF THE HEAT & put your metal bowl in the center of the pan.

Now – heat up the charcoal – like this:

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When it is red hot or graying on the outside – USE METAL TONGS & put it in the bowl in the center of your curry.  Then pour some olive or vegetable oil on it  It will immediately begin smoking so – if you have a hood with vents – turn them on.   Quickly – cover it up with a pot cover of some sort.  I used my old & very beaten up wok cover.

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Let this sit for 5-10 minutes & let the smoke work its magic.  I went 6 minutes because I was afraid it would be too smoky.  It wasn’t.  In the future – I will go for ten minutes.  CAREFULLY remove the metal bowl – with two pairs of tongs.  DO NOT BURN YOURSELF!

DEFINITELY season this with salt.  Do not be shy – but add it in increments.  Salt is under-rated as a spice.

Then – just serve this over some rice or with naan or a tortilla or roti – garnished with some cilantro.

Awesome?  Right?

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Vegan Beet, Lentil & Rice Burger Sliders with Arugula, Sriracha Mayo & Smoked Black Pepper Cheddar

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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These patties are genuinely spicy & pretty tasty but they definitely benefited from the various toppings – especially the sriracha mayo.  Plain – they seem a bit lacking but that would really be true of any veggie patty, I think.  As pictured here, the patties themselves are vegan but I used real cheese & real mayo to top them.  If you are vegan – simply make the sriracha mayo with a vegan mayonnaise & either omit the cheese or use a vegan one.

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The other thing about these is that they are pretty close to the color of real ground beef – especially when the patties are raw.  Take a look.

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I made these into little sliders but you can make them full-sized, if you prefer.  There are a few steps involved, like cooking the rice & lentils but the steps are not complicated.  I used this red cargo rice but any brown rice would do.

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I used arugula & tomato but you can top these the way you would top any burger.  Still – the spicy arugula, sriracha mayo & the spicy patties made for a pretty powerful taste treat sensation!  Also, once cooked, these guys should store in the fridge pretty well for a few days.

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Vegan Beet, Lentil & Rice Burger Sliders with Arugula, Sriracha Mayo & Smoked Black Pepper Cheddar

Makes 10 slider-sized patties

INGREDIENTS

For the Vegan Beet, Lentil & Rice Burgers

1 large shallot small onion – chopped

4 garlic cloves – chopped

Olive oil

1 cup of raw beets – peeled & grated

1 plus 1/2 cups cooked lentils

2 cups cooked brown (or other) rice

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground thyme

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)

Slider or burger buns

Garnish: arugula, sliced tomato, smoked pepper cheddar or other cheese or vegan alternative

For the sriracha mayo

1/4 cup mayo (vegan or otherwise)

1-2 TBS sriracha (or to taste)

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DIRECTIONS

For the Vegan Beet, Lentil & Rice Burgers

Peel & grate the raw beets.  I grated them in a food processor.  Cook the rice & let it cool. Cook the lentils, drain & cool.  Measure out the amounts of each needed & set aside.  Divide the lentils into 1 cup & 1/2 cup portions.

Heat about 1 TBS olive oil & saute the shallot/onion until translucent.  Add the garlic & saute another minute.

In the food processor, pulse the cooked shallot/onion & garlic, beets, cooked rice, 1 cup cooked lentils & the spices until a meaty texture is achieved.

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Mix in the 1/2 cup of reserved, cooked lentils & adjust the seasoning.  For patties.  I used a cookie cutter that was the size of the slider buns.

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Treat a pan or griddle with cooking spray & cook these guys over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side or until they just begin to char.  If using cheese add it once you flip them them.  Cook until the cheese is melted.  Covering the pan might help speed that melting process along.

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For the sriracha mayo

Simply mix the mayo & sriracha & adjust it to suit your taste.

Now simply assemble your sliders as you like.  I cannot recommend arugula highly enough.

Enjoy!

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Easy Stove-Top (or not) Smoked Mozzarella Macaroni & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is a REALLY easy recipe for mac & cheese & it doesn’t even require baking!  I baked it because I wanted a crusty topping of toasted panko but you can skip this & go directly to the “shoveling it into your pie hole” part of the deal, if you desire.  It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or any skill at all.  It is nearly as easy to make as a box of Kraft – so – no excuses!  Try it!  It is smoky & yummy!

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Easy Stove-Top (or not) Smoked Mozzarella Macaroni & Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb (or about three cups) of uncooked pasta (shape of your choice.  I used egg noodles left over from my delicious Chicken Noodle Soup recipe of the other day)

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

2 cups grated cheese (I used a pizza mix of regular mozzarella & cheddar)

1 cup grated smoked mozzarella (use more smoked cheese than the other for an even smokier result)

2 TBS butter

1 tsp cornstarch

1 (or more) tsp salt & pepper to taste

1/4-1/2 cup Panko or other breadcrumbs (optional)

Paprika as garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

If baking, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta according to directions & drain & return to the stove in the same pot.  Add the butter, evaporated milk, cornstarch, cheeses & heat it up, stirring constantly, until it is melted, bubbly & thickened.  Add S&P to taste.

Here you can either opt to add a bit of paprika & shovel the deliciousness into your face pronto or you can grease a casserole pan with cooking spray, add the mac & cheese & top with a layer of panko or other breadcrumbs & bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until the breadcrumbs brown to your desired state.  Add some paprika for color (I forgot to) and commence the emotional eating.  You know what I am talking about.  This shit will fill the hole in your soul for at least a few hours & by then – the wine will have kicked in.  Cheers!

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Smoked Salmon Spaghetti Carbonara & a Really Long Podcast (if you know what I’m saying)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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First of all – I did a comprehensive interview a few months ago that was recently posted.  I talk about just about everything important over the course of my entire life.  If the minutiae of my existence intrigue you – HERE is the i-tunes link.  I talk about the old 90210 & being on set with Chucky & this blog & film festivals & what scandalous whores TV characters are these days.  Plus more!  And more.  And more.  That said –

This might be my favorite friggin’ pasta dish I have ever made!  Insanely easy & outrageously delicious.  Looking back over my past recipes I couldn’t help but notice that I seem to rave about most anything I put salmon in.  Like these:

Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon, Capers, Cream Cheese & Dill

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Potato, Salmon & Asparagus Tall Tart (Pie) with Fresh Dill

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Spicy Hoisin BBQ Salmon Tacos with Asian Slaw & Micro Cilantro

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Roasted Salmon & Potato Hash with Hominy & Poached Egg (AWESOME!!)

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Easiest Spicy Thai Coconut Salmon Soup for the Slow Cooker (with a Vegan option!)

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But this smoked salmon carbonara is just something you must try if you like smoked salmon.  If you do not, make this with the traditional bacon (or the more authentic guanciale).  But try this.  Contrary to many folks’ idea of carbonara – true carbonara has no heavy cream.  It is simply whatever meat you use, eggs & Parmesan.  And pasta.  I made homemade spaghetti and that takes this dish to another level entirely but that is completely unnecessary.

This attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer is so awesome – I might marry it.  I make the pasta dough in my bread machine & then this thing turns that into spaghetti.  It is virtually effortless.   If you have a stand mixer – this attachment is worth its cost – assuming you eat lots of pasta.  And it makes several kinds of pasta – including tube pastas.  Think about it!  HERE is my original recipe for making homemade pasta.  And below is an image of the spaghetti I made.

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So – this carbonara requires these items:

Spaghetti

Eggs

Parmesan cheese

Pepper

Smoked salmon

Garlic

Olive oil

I am going to let you decide whether or not to use homemade (or store-bought fresh pasta) or dry pasta but spaghetti is the traditional noodle used.  Check out how easy this is.  I am going to list the ingredients in a “per serving” way & you can just figure out how much of each you need to feed your headcount.

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Smoked Salmon Spaghetti Carbonara

Ingredients

Spaghetti (1/4 lb dry per serving)

Eggs (one per serving)

Parmesan cheese – grated fine (1/4 cup per serving)

Pepper – to taste

Smoked salmon – roughly chopped – this is to taste, too.  You don’t need that much.  Think of it like bacon & allot an amount similar – per serving

Garlic – cut very thin (I used 2 cloves per serving)

Olive oil – a glug per serving

Parsley (Important!  Parsley is more than a garnish & really improves this dish.) – chopped – to taste

Extra cheese & pepper as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta.

While that is going on, saute the garlic & salmon in the olive oil over medium heat.  You do not want to brown the garlic & you are really only trying to heat the salmon through.

Whisk the egg & cheese & some pepper in a bowl & set aside.

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When the pasta is done – reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water & drain the rest.  Add the pasta to the pan with the garlic & salmon.  Toss & combine well.

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Transfer to a large bowl & then add the cheese & egg mixture.  The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs.  TRUST ME.  Add a bit of the hot pasta water (not all of it – GO SLOW) and mix it in.  Once you have a nice creamy texture (and you might not use much pasta water at all), serve it up on plates & be sure to top with lots of freshly chopped parsley.  Add more cheese & pepper if you like.  Shove it in your pie hole & wash it down with copious quantities of wine.  Fuck that whole “white wine goes with fish” thing, too.  If you want white – go for it but this dish holds its own against a big red, too.  Eat your carbonara!  Drink your Cabernet!  Think, “I am one badass son-of-a-bitch!”  Because you are!  AAAAAAARRRGGGGH!

I said badass – not pirate.  It’s a thin line.

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Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Cream Verrine with Cucumber & Tomato

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I recently discovered the VERRINE.  Here is the web definition:

verrine

A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury.
If you Google image search “verrine” you get an amazing array of gorgeous appetizers & desserts.  See HERE.
Last night, I decided to try my hand at one.  As per usual, I was restricted to what I already had on hand.  Fortunately, I had smoked salmon, cucumbers, dill & heirloom cherry tomatoes.  I also had a fresh horseradish root.ImageThat fucker cost $8 but it is like a Fred Flintstone club.  I grated a bunch up with a microplane but in the end, couldn’t really taste it.  You might just want to use a little prepared horseradish sauce,instead, if you attempt this recipe.  Also – I left my cream sauce very thick – like a whipped cream cheese.  You might like yours a bit runnier.  In that case, just use more heavy cream.The only part of this dish that is a proper recipe is the horseradish cream.  The rest is just a layering of ingredients that you can alter to your own tastes.  I made these in three sizes: a shot glass, a stemmed apperitif glass & a tumbler.  You can choose the serving size appropriate for the occasion.  Know that I ate all three of these myself last night.  These would make a wonderful brunch starter – sort of like a bagel with the works – without the bagel.

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Horseradish Cream

INGREDIENTS

4 oz cream cheese

4 TBS fresh grated horseradish root OR prepared horseradish sauce to taste

2 sprigs fresh dill

7 (or more) TBS heavy cream

1/8 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Blend everything in a food processor.  Add more heavy cream if you like a thinner sauce.  Add more horseradish sauce if you enjoy kick.

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Smoked Salmon Verrine with Cucumber & Tomato & Horseradish Cream

INGREDIENTS

Smoked salmon

Cucumber

Tomato (I used multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes)

Dill

Capers

Fresh lemon

Fresh bread or bagel

Horseradish cream

Fresh pepper

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DIRECTIONS

Dice the salmon, tomato, cucumber & bread.  Put some bread in the bottom of each serving glass (I only used bread in the tumbler – not in the smaller verrines) & layer with cucumber, tomato & horseradish cream.  Top with dill & capers & squeeze a little lemon on top.  Finish with cracked pepper & serve!

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Potato, Salmon & Asparagus Tall Tart (Pie) with Fresh Dill

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This recipe is a 100% original Delicious-Delightful-Delovely invention.  It was not inspired by any other recipe – whether that be something I ate somewhere or something I saw on the Internet.  Again – it was born of ingredients I had on hand – like a second homemade tart dough waiting to be baked – and everything else used here – except the dill.  I had to go buy fresh dill.  This is the result of good ole-fashioned winging it & I recommend you try it.  The winging it part.  You could use sweet potatoes rather than white, leave out the salmon, use cooked chicken, use broccoli or peas or steamed kale instead of asparagus.  There is really no limit to the ways you could vary this.  My only recommendation is that you use some things with different colors – to prettify it.  This & a nice salad – you are good to go!

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Potato, Salmon & Asparagus Tall Tart (Pie) with Fresh Dill

INGREDIENTS

1 homemade (or frozen) tart dough – as made HERE

4 medium new potatoes (or red or sweet or russet – whatever) – sliced 1/4 inch thick

8 oz goat cheese

6 oz whole milk

2 eggs

12 dill fronds – stems removed.

zest of 1 lime

6 oz smoked salmon – diced

30 spears asparagus – FRESH

1/2 lb grated cheese (I used leftovers from the tomato tart – a combo of gruyere, smoked gouda & cheddar)

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 350 DEGREES

Boil water with a tsp salt & add the sliced potatoes & cook until tender – between 5-10 minutes.  Drain & run cool water over them.  Set aside.

Wrap the asparagus spears in a wet paper towel & microwave them for a minute or two – until tender but not overcooked.  Or steam them traditionally.  Set aside.

Roll out your pastry dough & press it into a spring form pan (or a deep dish pie pan).  Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

In a blender or food processor – blend SIX OUNCES (reserving 2 ounces) of the goat cheese with the milk and the two eggs, lime zest and SIX of the dill fronds (reserving 6).  Add s&p to taste.  Set aside.

When the dough is chilled – take it from the fridge & layer the bottom with 1/3 the potatoes.  Add 1/2 of the asparagus and 1/2 the salmon & pour 1/2 of the milk mixture over this.  Layer another 1/3 of the potatoes & the rest of the salmon & asparagus & then add the final 1/3 of the potatoes.  Crumble the last 2 oz goat cheese on top of this & then the grated cheese blend.  Pour the second 1/2 of the milk mixture over this.

Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes – or until the cheese begins to turn golden.  Remove from over & let rest for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the spring form ring (if using) and sprinkle with more fresh dill.  Can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

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Penne with smoked salmon and asparagus in a lemon cream sauce.

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Penne with smoked salmon and asparagus in a lemon cream sauce.

Google the phrase “pappardelle in lemon cream sauce with asparagus and smoked salmon.”. Asparagus should be the first ingredient in the recipe I used- and 2 large shallots should be second. Lemon, smoked salmon, pasta, butter and cream round it out. I added parsley. I love parsley.

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