Chana butter masala

Adapted from NYTimes and Spice India

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 can whole peeled plum tomatoes (I used 800 g)
  • 1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
  • 2 (440 g) cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cayenne (red pepper flakes work too)
  • Cooked basmati rice, for serving
  • 0.5 cups cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to medium-high; keeping the heat on medium ensures even browning without burning the butter.)
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook another 1 minute.
  4. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon or flat spatula, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot (or you can use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can).
  6. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to mash up the tomatoes if necessary to help them break down.
  7. If you have an immersion blender, use it now to really break down the tomato bits!
  8. Stir in chickpeas and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
  9. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  10. Serve spooned over rice, topped with cilantro, with warm naan and steamed spinach, as desired.

A friend cooked this on Instagram, so I wanted to try it too. The doctor said I should eat more vegetables, and this seemed like on step in the right direction. Jesse thought of blending the tomato base before adding the garbanzo and paneer, and I highly agree with this. If you can’t find frozen paneer at your local Pakistani grocery, some cubed potatoes would add to the carb calories and taste great too. Compared to Smitten Kitchen, I would try this recipe with minced green chili pepper, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted.

~Jessica

Mrs. Maggot’s cottage pie

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes linked from NPR

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 lb. cubed meat
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of stock (Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • some fresh marjoram and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1.5 lb. potatoes, quartered (we used red potatoes, skin on)
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter
  • some milk

Directions:

  1. Slice a large onion and 2 carrots (we used 1 carrot and 1 leek) and sauté in bacon fat until the onions are limp.
  2. Add 1 pound of cubed meat, 1 tablespoon of flour, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute for several minutes, and then add the stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Peel and quarter 1 pound of potatoes and boil until soft. Mash with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and enough milk to make a soft mash. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the meat in a pie dish, cover with the mashed potatoes, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Before serving, run the dish quickly under the broiler to brown the potato crust.

I wish we had had bacon fat for flavoring. I accidentally thought we needed ground meat instead of stew meat, so I wonder if there would have been more fat. We underseasoned a little bit (pinch more salt on the meat and potatoes next time), but added in the herbs and paprika for a little more oomph. I can see why the recipe called from peeled potatoes, because the skin detracts a little from that shepherd’s pie look, but it was less work.

~Jessie

Chicken pot pie

Adapted from smitten kitchen & One Dad’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs and drumsticks are ideal)
  • 1 to 2 glugs olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (no need to defrost)
  • 2 large carrots, diced small (about 1 cup carrots)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pie crust

Directions:

  1. Generously season all sides of the chicken parts with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If your chicken breasts are particularly large, I find that halving them can ensure they cook at the same pace at the other parts.
  2. Heat first glug of olive oil over medium-high heat in the bottom of a large Dutch oven (minimum of 4 quarts; mine is 5). Brown chicken in two parts, cooking until golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with second half of chicken. Set aside.
  3. Heat second glug of olive oil in the same pot. Add onions and leeks, season with salt and pepper, and saute them until softened, about 7 minutes. If using, pour in sherry and use it to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Simmer until mostly cooked off.
  4. Add milk or cream, chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
  5. Nestle the browned chicken and any accumulated juices into the pot. Cover and gently simmer to 30 minutes, after which the chicken should be fully cooked and tender.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon; reserve it for another use, or this:
  7. In a medium bowl, mash butter (feel free to replace any part of it with skimmed chicken fat) and flour together with a fork until a paste forms and no flour is still visibly dry.
  8. Pour one ladleful of filling over it, and whisk until smooth. Add a second ladleful, whisking again.
  9. Return this butter-flour-filling mixture to the larger pot, stir to combine, and bring mixture back to a simmer for 10 minutes. The broth base should thicken to a gravy-like consistency. Adjust seasonings, if needed.
  10. Add carrots and peas to stew and simmer for 3 minutes, until firm-tender. Shred or dice the chicken, discarding the bones and skin or saving it for another use. Return chicken to stew and re-simmer for 1 minute. Stir in parsley.
  11. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  12. Roll the dough up, and unroll it over the baking dish, so it rests evenly on top of the filling. Fold the edges under and crimp the edges. Poke the tip of a knife through the crust to create 3 vent holes near the center.
  13. Egg wash (optional): Whisk the egg with a teaspoon of cold water. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the entire crust with egg wash. Place the pie pan or baking dish on a cookie sheet, and place it in the oven.
  14. Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes more, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling through the vents. Let the pie rest for 10 minutes before serving.

We had tried that super easy sausage pie from before, and so had one pie crust left over (it was a 2 pack from Pillsbury). We both really like chicken pot pie, and had never attempted it before. Jesse thus felt obliged to attempt it (with delightfully fresh marjoram, thyme, rosemary from our “garden”), despite the fact that it was more work than our usual one-pot-meals. We didn’t have small “pot pie” dishes or any tarragon, so we used the filling ingredients from smitten kitchen, but then followed the heating instructions from the NYTimes “Julia Child” recipe, which was for just one big (normal) pot pie.

~Jessica

LotR taters boulangère

Adapted from Middle-earth Recipes

Ingredients:

  • ~1.5 lbs of potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • a sliced onion
  • some rosemary
  • butter
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg. F.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes. Slice the onion. Mix the stock and milk (we used hot stock, so poured one then the other separately in step 5).
  3. Take an oven-proof dish and wipe it with butter, so nothing sticks. Put in a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion, sprinkle over some bruised rosemary. Repeat until ingredients used up.
  4. Top off with a layer of potato.
  5. Pour over the milk-stock mixture (may not need all of it) and then top off the dish with dots of butter and some rosemary sprigs (or other available herbs — we had marjoram, thyme, and fresh rosemary).
  6. Cook uncovered in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the potatoes are soft in the middle and brown/crisp on top.

For 3-4 people. We bought 3 big Yukon gold potatoes at the local farmer’s market to make this dish. “It will scale quite nicely for larger/smaller dinners… The original recipe suggested checking the dish and adding more liquid if it looked dry” but we found that draining off the liquid after the one hour of cooking, and then cooking it for another 10 more minutes, finished cooking through the thickest top potato slices that weren’t immersed in liquid!

~Jessica

LotR mushroom soup

Adapted from Middle-Earth Recipes and The Hungry Hobbit

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of mushrooms, divided in half
  • 4 + 2 + 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of chopped onion
  • 2 cups of finely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups of finely chopped celery (we used leeks)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups of broth / bouillon
  • 1 small can of tomato paste (~6-7 tbsp; we used 1-2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of dry sherry (we used a dry red wine)
  • Garnish: sour cream, herbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Chop 1/2 pound of mushrooms very fine.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped onion, 2 cups of finely chopped carrots, 2 cups of finely chopped celery, and 1 clove of garlic, minced. If you have wine, you can use it now to deglaze the pot. Stir, scraping the bottom bits.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the 1/2 pound of finely chopped mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add to the soup.
  5. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of broth, 3 1/2 cups of water, 1 small can of tomato paste, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/16 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 1 hour (30 minutes minimum).
  7. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Season and taste.
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the 1/2 pound of reserved sliced mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add to the soup.
  9. Add 1/4 cup of dry sherry. Heat thoroughly and serve.
  10. Garnish with sour cream or herbs.

Titled “Mushroom Soup from the Inn at Bree”, there is only one main inn in Bree, however: the Inn of the Prancing Pony. We didn’t have a bundle of celery, so we subbed with a leek instead. Next time I would use 2 leeks! I would also had herbs like thyme. Instead of beef broth, we used Better Than Bouillon chicken base. Feel free to use more tomato paste if you prefer a more reddish product, but this was grand — I would also like to try a medley of mushrooms in season. Instead of dry sherry, we used a red wine, but I would also try a white wine next time.

~Jessica

Flourless brownies

Adapted from Unicorns in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with non stick spray and line with a parchment paper.
  2. Place butter, sugar and chocolate in a pan over medium heat until all melted. Let cool for a minute.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time using an electric mixer (this is important). Beat very well after each addition.
  4. Add in vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix well.
  5. Transfer the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan. Pound the pan on the counter twice.
  6. Bake in the heated oven for 25 minutes until the top is crackled.

Tips: It’s best to melt the butter, sugars and chocolate in a sauce pan over medium heat and NOT to use a microwave. Make sure all the ingredients are well mixed. Since this flourless brownie recipe has no leavening agent such as baking powder, over-mixing won’t cause a problem. Don’t over bake the brownies. We did not have nonstick spray — just the parchment paper. These kind of tasted like flourless chocolate cake — so really, no one could be disappointed. Mookie the cat got chastised for walking across the counter to inspect the mixing bowl (it was too far from his usual perch on the high chair by the bar counter).

~Jessica

Gordon Ramsay’s scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

Adapted from Gordon Ramsey and Goodto

Ingredients:

  • 4 butter croissants
  • 300g smoked salmon slices
  • 12 eggs (3 per person)
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 50g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1–2 tbsp snipped chives (or scallions in a pinch)

Directions:

  1. Trim off the ends of the croissants, then slice each one into 4 or 6 thick rounds and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Break the eggs into a cold heavy-based non-stick saucepan; do not season. Place the pan over a low heat and add a few knobs of butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir the eggs frequently but not constantly, just to combine the yolks and whites.
  3. As the eggs start to scramble, take the pan off the heat and use a spatula to scrape the egg from the sides and base of the pan. Return to the heat and keep stirring and scraping the pan until the overall texture of the eggs is like soft curds. This should take 5–6 minutes. Don’t overcook the mixture – it should be moist and soft.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the croissants on each side for 1–2 minutes until golden. Place the toasted slices on individual plates.
  5. When the eggs are nearing the end of cooking, take the pan off the heat, add another knob of butter and then season well. Return to the heat and stir in the cream. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and fold through the chives.
  6. Drape the slices of smoked salmon on top of the toasted croissants, spoon the scrambled eggs over, and serve immediately.

I had some extra lox in the fridge, and a fresh carton of eggs. After practicing it all week, I felt ready to make it for a larger audience (Jesse’s family). It was a success. I could not find chives (not the season?), so subbed with scallions chopped extra fine.

~Jessica