Improv: White bean chimicurri salad

white bean salad

I threw this together from stuff I had in the fridge, and it was so so good that I thought I should write it down. There’s not a single component here that couldn’t swap out—lentils for the beans, Italian dressing for the chimicurri, chicken for the beef….use your imagination!

1 1/2 c white beans, cooked

3T chimicurri

6 oz cooked steak, cut into bite-sized pieces

10 cherry tomatoes

2 roasted cippolini onions, sliced

Blend, eat. Damn, that’s tasty!

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Pie Crust

 

Makes two crusts

2.5 cups/12 oz. all-purpose flour

1 c water+ 1/4 cup cider vinegar (add ice cubes to make it colder, but don’t get them into the dough)

1 T sugar

1 t salt

1/2 # unsalted butter cut into 1/2” pieces

Making the dough:

 making the dough

Put all dry ingredients plus butter into a bowl and work with a pastry cutter until the butter is in pea-sized pieces, inspecting with your hands to make sure there are no large clumps. (if it’s warm outside or things are getting soft, refrigerate it at this point to harden the butter back up.) This first part can be done in a food processor, but the next part has to be done by hand. Add a little water at a time, working the dough with your hands until it looks “shaggy.” Some parts will get there sooner than others, so push the finished dough aside as you go. Flick drops of water in at the very end to keep the dough from getting too wet.

Then shape it into a big cylinder and cut it in half. Form each piece into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before rolling.

Rolling out the dough:

rolling out hte dough

Lightly flour the working surface and roll out your dough. Roll in one direction only, back and forth, not side to side, turning and flipping dough as needed. It should be about 1” bigger than the pie plate.  Check the thickness with your fingers, adjusting if you have thin or thick spots. Brush off flour with a pastry brush and slip it into the pie plate. Gently press, without stretching, the crust into the corner and sides of the dish.

Trim off raggedy bits, then fold up the excess so that it stands vertically on the rim of the dish.

preparing to crimp

Then crimp, using three fingers.

crimping 2

 

 

 

Pro Tips:

Premade pie crust (either stored in a disc or rolled out into a pie plate keeps for 1 day in the fridge and for up to 3 weeks in the freezer.

Blind baking or proofing (same thing): Roll out crust into pie plate, then freeze for 1 hour minimum. Line with foil, getting the foil all the way around the edge of the crust. Fill all the way up to the rim with rice/beans/whatever (you can keep reusing them until they start to smell) and bake at 375F for 30-45 minutes, checking at 30 minutes. The crust should be completely cooked and brownish.

 

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Keema Beef Curry

I was inspired to make this after my friend Paul Clark reminisced about eating it in London. I’d never tasted it before, but after looking up a recipe online, decided to give it a spin. This recipe was inspired by one originally printed in Food and Wine. It’;s sinfully easy, and tastes great.

Serves 4-6, 45 minutes prep and cooking time

Kefta

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 pounds good-quality ground beef

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas

Chopped cilantro

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the ground meat and cook over high heat, stirring to break up the lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry powder and season with salt and pepper. Taste, and add more curry powder if needed. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the potato, broth, coconut milk and the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.

Using the back of a spoon, lightly crush some of the potato. Add the peas, and cook just until heated through. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top for serving.

 

Serve with naan and  plain basmati rice or Cumin Basmati Rice.

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Vij’s Cumin Basmati Rice

This is a staple recipe from my favorite restaurant in the world: Vij’s in Vancouver. You can half the recipe if you wish.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 c basmati rice
  • 3 c cold water for soaking
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 c finely chopped onions
  • 3 3/4 c water for cooking

 

directions

  • 1

    Wash rice twice in cold water. soak rice in the 3 cups of cold water for 15 minutes, or while you are sautéing the cumin seeds and onions. The reason for this: it makes the rice fluffier.

  • 2

    Heat oil in a medium pot for 1 minute on medium-high heat. add cumin seeds, stir and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds.

  • 3

    Add onions and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until just the edges are brown. turn off the heat. Brown the onions a bit for a stronger flavor.

  • 4

    Drain the rice as much as possible. Add rice and the 3 3/4 cups of water to onions, and stir well to combine. turn on the heat to high and bring to a boil. once the water is boiling vigorously, lower the heat to just a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 18 to 20 minutes.

  • 5

    Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. take off the lid, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

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Cippolini en Agrodolce

12-15 small Cippolini (larger ones can be halved or quartered)

3 T evoo

salt & freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 T aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place onions in a bowl of cold water to cover for a few minutes to loosen the skins. Drain, peel with sharp knife.

In a small,  ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Carefully add the onions so that the oil doesn’t splatter. Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, pour in the red wine vinegar and cook for a few minutes until it reduces slightly. Turn the onions over and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.

Place the pan in the oven and roast the  onions until their exteriors caramelize and they are tender when pierced with a knife tip, 45 minutes to an hour. Serve at room temperature.

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Lavender Shortbread cookies

This recipe, adapted from allrecipes.com, came my way via my CSA, Boistfort Farms. The box often contains fresh herbs (in this case, lavender) and also comes with a sheet of recipes to help you navigate through sometimes-unusual produce. I don’t cook a lot with lavender because it can make food soapy if overused, but this recipe keeps it moderate. These are delicious with a spot of vanilla ice cream.
 
makes around 2 dozen cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened

  • 2/3 cup white sugar

  • 1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, mint and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt; mix into the batter until well blended. Divide dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to about 1inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Cookie stamps will work well on these too. Place on cookie sheets.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Hummus

Hummus is a delicious snack that’s easy to make and good for you. Don’t buy the stuff in the deli aisle, throw together your own in 5 minutes.

Ingredients:

couple cloves of garlic

1 can garbanzo beans, drained  (or soak 1 cup dried beans overnight, drain, cook until tender)

1 fat tablespoon tahini (or more to taste)

zest and juice of 1 lemon

chopped parsley

high-quality extra virgin olive oil

salt

With the motor running, drop garlic cloves into food processor. Add garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon, and parsley. Add enough olive oil to make the texture a little creamy. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Variations:

add 1 roasted red pepper

add smoked paprika

add a wedge or 2 of preserved lemon, innards and seeds removed

Note: A batch fits perfectly in a mini-prep. Since there’s no feed tube, simply chop the garlic alone before adding other ingredients.

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