The late summer heating slamming us is sapping my will to do a lot of things. I am not quite done with New York (truth is I will never be done with NY) but I am taking a little break from that vein of posts. I am trying to focus on the things that I am actually doing, which is really not much. As the heat churns on I find no impetus to knit or craft or clean (or work, ooooh, it is hot in some of my patient’s homes without air/con). But I have been cooking.
Over the years I have posted my favorite summer recipes in one place and this year will be no exception. I know some of the world has already plunged into Fall but I will leave these for my Aussie friends who are approaching their warm weather soon. Or for the Southern Californians that can anticipate another two months of this heat. Each of these has been made multiple times around here and if you have read my food posting before you will know that I do not actually give recipes. I am a lazy and experimental cook and therefore rarely follow anything rote. Rather I try it and then find my own way to prepare each dish.
These three recipes happen to be vegetarian as we just have been eating a lot less meat around here. They are ::
* Homemade Falafel and Tahini sauce
* Simple Basil sauce with Browned Mushrooms and Pasta
* Fiery Green Curry
So First :: Falafel. Do not be intimidated by this, it is super easy. Having said that, you do need a few essential items to prepare this successfully. 1) A food processor. 2) Dried chickpeas 3) Fresh and dried herbs – fresh cilantro and parsley and dried cumin and coriander powder.
If you do not have these things you are better served buying the box of falafel powder (well, not really; I recommend to get the above things as this recipe will blow your mind).
So, first soak 1-2 cups chickpeas in water overnight in the fridge. Next day, drain and add 1 bunch each chopped cilantro and parsley, 3-5 cloves of garlic (I love the stuff), and 1-2 teaspoons each of cumin and coriander and a healthy dose of sea salt and stir.
I have a small food processor so I divide the mixture in half and process until it resemble used coffee grounds (appetizing simile, eh?). Then dump into a bowl and form into round balls or flat patties.
You can deep fry these for maximum goodness but then they lose some health benefit. I tend to fry the flat patties in a pan with a coat of oil. They are delicious either way. I serve these with flatbread or pita, chopped fresh salad and tahini sauce.
Homemade tahini sauce is easy if you procure Tahini paste. This can be found in a can at most stores now. I simply add 1 part tahini paste to 2 parts water, a clove of garlic, fresh lemon juice and lots of salt. Then you use your immersion blender (Oh yeah, another essential item) to make a smooth a creamy dressing. Done and done.
Recipe Deux :: Simple Basil Sauce with Browned mushrooms and Pasta.
Yum, right? This is best made if you have a crazy huge basil plant in your backyard and a ton of mushrooms (from Costco).
First slice all the mushrooms and place in a pan over medium heat. Here is the thing; they will cook, release their juice and look flabby and THEN they start to brown. Leave them there a long time, check them a frequently and per Tim DO NOT STIR them too much.
As those shrooms cook, prepare your basil sauce. You need the immersion blender for this step.
Add about 2-3 cups of basil leaves to cup and a few healthy glugs of olive oil, salt and a clove or 2 of garlic (notice a trend here?) and use blender to liquefy it all. A first it will not work and then it will and you will end up with a awesomely green sauce.
Do not forget to boil water and make pasta somewhere in there. Then add sauce and pasta to the pan and stir and serve with fresh gratings of your favorite hard cheese.
And Last but certainly not Least is the Fiery Green Curry.
This is my favorite curry; I have had an amazing version from this restaurant in our town (if you are local please try it. Get the curry). And then in Fairhaven, WA I had a wonderful green curry featuring sweet potatoes at this place. I have been making it like a madwoman this summer using a few key ingredients that make it a success (almost) every time.
So, most areas around here have small specialty stores that feature tons of Asian/Filipino goods and ours happens to be called Ho Bihn. There is where I pick up my supplies. You need ::
Green curry in a Can (buy a lot).
Coconut Milk (buy a lot).
Bamboo Shoots (not so much).
Then what I do is chop a ton of vegetables, what ever the garden is giving.
Also you MUST add sweet potatoes. If you only have one, then you can add a regular potato too.
The adventurous should try the bamboo shoots, but you have to wash them thoroughly out of the can because they always taste a little funky at first.
First sauté the veggies in a LARGE pot until softened, add the potatoes and sauté again until a little soft, add the can of curry (or just half if you cannot stand the Whoop Ass) and sauté until that is all soft and then add TWO cans of coconut milk. TWO. Otherwise it is not the super silky rich taste that I crave. If you go with only one can, sub the liquid with a little stock. Bring this to a simmer, add your softer vegetables like beans and squash, cover and simmer until all of it is cooked through and serve over quinoa or rice.
If your basil plant is still giving, I chop up a bunch of basil until fine and stir in a minute or two before serving. Oh, and a dash or two of sugar in the pot too, it really brings out the hot and tangy qualities.
I love these recipes so much because they are super cheap, challenge you to use what you have on hand and they taste really really good. Try them and if you do, let me know how it goes.