Summer is most certainly winding down and there is a little nip in the air. But fear not! The farmers’ market is still humming. And while you might see an apple or pear starting to make an appearance, corn, tomatoes and stone fruit are still holding court. I have been jonesing for a menu that highlights all that and more, where more equals a big honking tomahawk steak, rubbed to an inch of its life with a killer zesty spice rub. Do you feel me?
I guess you could call this a Pot Lucky because I had help. Lots and lots of help. But it was a pint-sized party compared to others in the past. It was dinner-party sized, to be exact. It was also a Pot Lucky in its most basic form because the menu was curated around a theme. The theme: Farmers’ Market Summer Harvest Bounty! I love the creativity that my guests bring to the table. A quick stroll through a farmers’ market or two and they all raised the bar on imaginative recipes and colorful culinary creations. I have to say – and they all agreed – it was a top ten (five?) meal of my life. Every damn delicious morsel. If I could, I’d eat it all over again. Right! Now!!
What’s a Tomahawk Steak?
I thought you’d never ask. Before I drill down on the deliciousness that was this menu, I wanted to throw a little 411 on you about the famous TomahawkSteak. Also sometimes known as a Cowboy Steak, a Tomahawk is a bone-in ribeye. And by bone-in, I mean all the way in. The steak is usually cut with 5 – 15” inches of rib bone hanging off the chop. The longer the bone, the more tomahawk-looking and all the more dramatic its presentation. It’s a bit fashionable at the moment because of its oh-so-eye-popping presentation. A Tomahawk also varies from a boned ribeye in thickness and weight. Because each rib gets its own serious slab of meat (a boned ribeye can be cut to any thickness), they tend to be about 2” thick and weigh upwards of three pounds, depending on the butcher and size of the cow. This section of the cow is also where T-bones and Porterhouses come from.
Once cut, a butcher will clean the bone by scraping off meat, fat and sinew, a technique called “Frenching”. Think of a rack of lamb with those pristine gleaming racks (bones). You’ve likely heard that cooking meat on the bone adds flavor, but since most of the bone extends beyond the meat it won’t likely add much. True, bones are full of collagen and vitamins, and that is why they are turned into stock and cooked down for demi-glace. But to get at any residual marrow, you need a wet cooking technique like braising, not a high temp grilling technique that chars the bone.
And in case you are wondering, Tomahawks are not limited to beef. Any large rib-cage animal can produce a Tomahawk. In a fancy steakhouse – or at your local butcher – you might find bison, pork or even venison Tomahawks. For the summer harvest dinner, I went with beef.
How to Cook a Tomahawk Steak
I think the ultimate in Tomahawk Steak preparation is a rip-snorting fire. I mean if we are going to eat like a caveman, let’s cook like one, too. It’s pretty foolproof, but if you are at all unclear about doneness, invest in an instant read thermometer, like the one in my shop. Make sure the meat is at room temperature and pat it dry. I have included a spice rub below, but feel free to use any spice rub that you love. If it contains salt, as does mine, rub it on just before grilling. The salt will pull the moisture out if you let it sit too long. Apply the spice rub generously to both sides of the meat and rub it in to minimize fallout (falloff?). It’s called rub for a reason!
There are two schools of thought on high-temp cooking for lean cuts of meat: sear and move to the cooler side or cook on the cooler side, then move to the hot side, ending with a sear, known as a reverse-sear. I have done it both ways and it’s a matter of personal preference, though the reverse-sear will look less charred. Either way, your gas or charcoal grill will need a hot side, as well as a cooler side where you will cook with the lid closed, using the convection created by the grill’s lid. If you opt for the reverse-sear, cook until your meat is about 20 degrees below your desired temperature (goal of 130oF for medium rare), turning periodically. When the meat reaches 110oF, move it to the hot side where you can get your perfect grill marks, or at least a nice, dark, caramel-colored finish. This reverse-sear technique has the added benefit of giving you some crust but without a full-on carcinogenic char. ?
The most important thing EVER for meat is to let it rest before carving – for a big slamming hunk like this, at least 10, more like 15, minutes. This allows the juices to retract back into the muscle, resulting in pink juicy meat. I want to cry every time I see someone pull a $100 tenderloin from the oven and cut immediately as the juices run rampant, leaving a grey blob back on the board. Just say no! And don’t forget to cut across the grain as you would with any piece of meat.
What’s in that spice rub?
I love to play around with spices in the pantry to come up with some unique combos that are easy to grab when headed to the grill. I do have a robust collection of components from which to mix, but truthfully you could make the spice rub below without all the bits and pieces. There are two salts – one would do. There are two peppers – ditto. I like a bit of sugar (remember the sugar steak?) to help with creating a crust on the steak, but you could use brown sugar if you don’t have turbinado. The main marker of this spice rub is that everything is chunky. That’s a good sign of a rub. If you just used iodized or fine sea salt, it would over-absorb into the meat. The chunkiness has the added benefit of providing pops of flavor, a concept that may be my life’s mantra.
I’m using a black sea salt from Iceland in this mix. (There’s one in my shop if you are curious). It’s no surprise that the island is full of salt options, but I was dazzled by the endless assortment of flavors, many of which start with a black lava salt. I came home loaded with blueberry, grey lava, crowberry with chili, black lava and about 10 more. The one in my shop is not Icelandic, but it’s also not the one that promises to be anti-Wiccan and claims to reverse spells, remove jinxes and keep away bad neighbors. Buy that at your own risk. 🙂
This spice rub is great for so much more than just the Tomahawk. I hope you will make up a batch and let me know how you plan to use it.
Summer Harvest Bounty Menu
Now that we are set on the main, what else sounds good? As a petitPot Lucky, my fearless guests hit the market and came out swinging. We started with these yummy Goat Cheese Tarts with Fresh Herbs and Heirloom Tomatoes.
And speaking of tomatoes, how about this Caprese Antipasti? Caperberries can be a challenge to source, but fear not, they too are in my shop.
And how about this wonderful combo of shaved cauliflower and radicchio? It’s packed with fresh herbs and doused with a smoked whitefish mayo. Look for the recipe in a wonderful new A to Z vegetable cookbook Ruffage, penned by a southwest Michigan chef and farmer Abra Berens. It’s all about farm to table – to be exact, Granor Farm to table, a journey of a mere 50 feet.
Shaved cauliflower salad with smoked whitefish mayo, lemon, radicchio and herbs (Recipe from Ruffage).
While the meat rested, we started with that trio, then moved on to the Tomahawk with the Green Machine Salsa Verde and Ina Garten’s Potato Fennel Gratin. Luckily that woman is not afraid of heavy cream and Gruyere. It was wonderful to have such a decadent side and yes, happily, there were some leftovers. Yahoo! There was plenty of yummy pinot to go around and I pulled out a couple bottles of Cherry Pie, a California favorite. Yum.
One of my favorites on the table was a duo of stuffed vegetables – zucchini and eggplants, one stuffed with ground bison and the other with ground lamb. Both were filled to overflowing with delicious grains, tomatoes, corn, plenty of herbs, and smothered with zesty tomato sauce and shredded cheese. Heaven on a platter!!
I know – the mind reels that there could be more, but nobody was going away hungry. Two salads crowned the buffet. Both have been here on the blog before and are about to come out with a fresh face very soon. The Everything but the Farmer Farmers’ Market Salad – a perfect summer harvest chopped salad of corn, so tender it took only a minute or two on the grill, grilled tomatillos, tomatoes, arugula, sprouts, arugula flowers, bacon and avo. And Roasted Yellow and Garnet Beets with Peaches and Goat Cheese and topped with a cascade of fresh basil. Sometimes I use nectarines. Sometimes I use fresh mint. But choose whatever is available locally and plenty ripe. I love to give it a drizzle with a fruity balsamic like raspberry, but an aged Balsamico is also delish.
And for the crowning glory – drum roll please – a peach and blueberry tart. I mean, could you die?? The sun was setting fast………on the evening, the season and the markets, fading with every last bite. But with the end of one season, a new one begins. And so, it goes. Circle of life.
I hope you too will circle up the friends and family, and pull together a meal as epic as this feast. Every morsel was perfectly seasoned, and every crumb gobbled up. I can’t think of a more respectable way to pay homage to the bounty that summer brings. Breaking bread with those you love is indeed a privilege. Amen to that!
All you need to know about Tomahawk Steaks and how to cook them, plus a zesty spice rub good for so much more. This chunky rub has the added benefit of providing pops of flavor, and its black lava salt helps keep jinxes at bay.
Place the coriander seeds in a mini chopper or spice grinder and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Repeat with the Tellicherry peppercorns.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
Store in an airtight container.
1/2 cup makes enough for 4 Tomahawk Steaks or 12 single portion steaks.
Also good on other cuts of beef, lamb, poultry and more.
See post for details on how to cook Tomahawk Steaks!
Prep Time:5 minutes
Method:Dump & Stir
Keywords: spice rub, Tomahawk Steaks
Thanks to all my Pot Lucky-ers for continuing on this journey and being intrepid voyagers. Are you game to try your hand at a Pot Lucky? Let me know how it goes. Tag me with #PotLucky & #PalatePassionPurpose. And as always, I love to get your comments below.
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Seasonings Greetings! Just saying that reminds me of the Christmas card from years ago where I clipped measuring spoons to my lobes and stood among hip-high bags of spices in a market – caption: Seasonings Greetings. Cheesy? You betcha. But that’s the way I roll. And giving gifts that are edible is another way I roll. Be honest. What rivals something homemade? Maybeeeeeee….something that you can use up? I think so. This salt & pepper gift pairing does double duty as homemade and consumable, and it is a perfect stocking stuffer. Or a gift exchange. Or a hostess gift.
Citrus and Seeds
This salt blend benefits from a quick round of oven-drying citrus zest. Combining orange, lemon and grapefruit adds just the right amount of sweetness and acidity. And, the added fennel and celery seeds add a hint of fresh herbs, but provide a shelf life longer-lasting than fresh.
Picking the Right Salt
I am a big fan of Maldon Sea Salt and use it for its flaky form as a finishing salt. It’s delicate and thin, with crispy flakes. And great news! When I initially started making salts a few years ago (my maiden voyage in gift salts was a trio of this spiced citrus, along with kale-walnut and hazelnut-spice), I found a 3.3 pound tub of Maldon which had to be shipped from England, where the salt has been harvested along the coast since the early 1800s. Today that tub is available on Amazon. It makes using an uber high quality salt easily sourced and affordable for gift making, with plenty left over for personal use. Try it on anything that needs a sprinkle of salt – like chocolate espresso shortbread or salted caramels.
Zesting the Citrus Peel
When zesting the citrus to make the salt blend, I like to use a bar tool that makes long thin strips (use the section with the little holes, not the channel knife.) But you can also easily use a microplane which works well in removing only the outer peel of the citrus. The key is to avoid grating too deeply, thereby grabbing the white pith which adds unwanted bitterness.
Mix all the salt ingredients and spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan and pop in the oven. It should take about 20 minutes to dry out the zest, but check after 15 minutes and give the salt a stir.
From Zesting to Zesty
And what’s salt without pepper? Salt: sister from another mister. Pepper: brother from another mother. Salt & Pepper: we are fam-i-ly! This particular pepper blend was introduced to me by a dear friend. I made my own ratios so the end result is a bit different, but she was spot on in marrying cardamon and coriander with black pepper to get a blend with more zip than any ingredient could deliver on its own. Yahoo!
Once the blends are assembled and the salt is fully cooled, the only thing left to do is put them in cute little spice jars, tied with a decorative label identifying the goods inside. I have taken these to a gift exchange, and this was the top sought after gift once the stealing began. Showing up with an armful of these salt & pepper gifts at any holiday party is sure to earn you the Best Guest tiara!! Enjoy!
Nothing is better than a handmade holiday gift. In my book, bonus points if it can be consumed and if it adds a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to my pantry. This spiced citrus salt and zesty pepper blend is my favorite spice combo! Salt & Pepper, you rock!!!
Preheat oven to 275oF. Line sheet pan with parchment.
Mix salt with citrus zests and ground seeds. Mix until well combined. Spread evenly on the parchment paper and bake until the zest is fully dehydrated, about 20 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes and stir the salt, turning over the bottom which may still be a bit wet. Once completely dried, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Transfer to sterilized airtight containers. Stores well for at least 3 months.
Who are you ugly-looking, cardoon-like stalk hanging out in my farmers’ market? Why are you catching my eye now? Are you a fruit? A vegetable? What can I do with you? You look absolutely flavorless from here! Why why why would I want to take you home?
Well, friends, I am here to tell you how this homely VEGETABLE – yes, not a fruit – can change your life. Like right this very minute. Only 5 minutes of chopping and 7 minutes of stirring and you have the hottest condiment of the season – a zesty gingery dried cherry and lime rhubarb chutney flavor-bomb.
Despite being a vegetable which grows from rhizomes (think ginger), rhubarb is most often treated like a fruit – jams, pies, cobblers, and crisps. That’s because its super tart acidity begs for the addition of something sweet. The large triangular leaves look a bit like the Caribbean vegetable callaloo or even taro. However they are generally considered poisonous. You won’t see them at the market (that would be a mean farmer), but you will see them if you grow your own. Best to steer clear. They are only a problem if ingested so don’t worry about harvest.
And, you might be wondering about the wide range of color. Sometimes it’s kind of baby diarrhea green, and sometimes its ruby red. In general, the red comes out first in the season and is from a hot-house, and the green is more likely to be field grown showing up later in the season. But color also varies by variety. There are dozens of varietals with flashy names ranging from Egyptian Queen to Prince Albert. The variety German Wine has pink speckling on green stalks, while Fraulein Sharfer Torte has very fat, red stalks. The taste will not vary much, but the appearance of the end product depends on produce selected. Choose stalks that are firm and crisp. Since I got a color combo when purchasing recently, I divided the pieces, while chopping, by color. I cooked the greener pieces down first to get the creamy base and then added the redder pieces in later to add a bit of texture and the bright color. Whether or not you separate by color will not impact taste, just the aesthetics.
One way to heighten and set the color of any red or blue fruit (or vegetable) is to add acid. Often chutneys call for vinegar, and as I was perusing my cabinet for the perfect choice, I saw the two limes I had purchased just for this purpose and forgotten about. Genius! It was a maiden voyage using lime in chutney prep and oh-so-delicious. I served this gingery rhubarb chutney on fresh goat cheese the other day and the first cry from the crowd was “limey deliciousness!” It is a match made in heaven.
Making Rhubarb Chutney
I also chose dried cherries to add both to the redness of the finished dish and to add a pop of rich dark fruit. Dried fruit in chutney is classic, but golden raisins wouldn’t have done either of the twin duties that dried cherries took on. Chutneys are all about balancing tart and sweet and contrasting textures, often with a touch of heat. This rhubarb chutney recipe combines tart rhubarb with sweet dried cherries and balances the perkiness of lime juice and zest with sugar. Crystallized ginger adds both heat and texture. And adding the chopped rhubarb in two stages further adds contrasts in texture. Because of all the acidity in the dish, be sure to store in a non-reactive (glass) airtight dish.
If you find yourself with an abundance of rhubarb stalks, trim and chop the stalks and spread out in a single layer and freeze. Once the pieces are frozen, you can place them in a Ziploc bag and store more compactly. This will give you an off-season supply to make fresh rhubarb chutney to go with your Christmas goose or Easter ham. I love to top fresh cheeses like goat or fresh ricotta with this chutney or serve with grilled or roast meats like pork, chicken or game. Enjoy!
Chutneys are all about balancing tart and sweet and contrasting textures, often with a touch of heat. This rhubarb chutney recipe combines tart rhubarb with sweet dried cherries and balances the perkiness of lime juice and zest with sugar. Crystallized ginger adds both heat and texture.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add lime zest and juice, dried cherries, and crystallized ginger. Return to heat, and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Add sugar and salt, and stir until dissolved. Add about half the rhubarb (see note) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the rhubarb dissolves, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining rhubarb. Simmer until the rest of the rhubarb just begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.
Taste and adjust flavor, adding additional sugar or lime juice to balance to your desired level of sweetness.
I saved the reddest pieces for the second addition of rhubarb to boost the color of the finished dish.
This can be refrigerated in a non-reactive container, covered, for several weeks.
Serve with cheeses from Brie or fresh Ricotta to Manchego and Parmesan. Also pairs well with grilled meats like chicken and pork.
Muja what? I can hear you from here. Mujadara! You can spell it many ways and you can cook it even more. This dish – a combo of lentils and rice, sassed up with so many wintery spices that you will want it for your BFF – seems a lovely way to break bread and bow our heads in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. #GreaterAs1 The culinary roots of mujadara date back to Genesis, when Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a meal of lentils. While the version I share here with yogurt and caramelized shallots is more Lebanese, the dish is also popular with Syrian and Egyptian Jews who historically tend to eat it twice during the week: a simple (hot) meal for Thursday before a more elaborate Shabbat, and then again cold on the Sabbath. Mujadara often serves as a Lenten dish for Arab Christians.
Some versions of mujadara let the caramelized onions do all the talking. But given it’s the coldest dreariest time of year, I have added all the wonderful pungent spices that you might find in other Middle-Eastern dishes: coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and plenty of pepper. Trust me; they will brighten your mood. When I can, in a dish like this, I use whole spices (not peppercorns, but cumin and coriander, yes!) Since they will be simmering in liquid for a while, there is sufficient time to soften them up. As usual, they get a few minutes in oil before the liquid to toast them and to allow the spices to release their fragrance. Rarely will I add any spice directly to liquid. I can always taste that raw spice in the back of my throat if I was in too big of a hurry to take that one measly moment that I needed to toast it. For shame.
You may also notice that I have added a healthy dose of greens to this version of mujadara. Because I can. And because it’s winter and because they are good for you and because they add a hit of color. I know it seems like a lot, but I have made it with half that and prefer it with a generous portion. Up to you. (More, more, more, more.)
And a note on the crispy shallots: they really are caramelized not crispy here. If you want to make crispy shallots – which would be a great texture contrast – you really need to use a lot more oil and fry them. That’s not really the way I roll, but I do love the taste and texture. If you are leaning that way, you should make sure the thinly sliced shallots are patted dry and then toss them in a 50/50 combo of flour and cornmeal. Heat several cups of oil to about 300oF and drop the shallots in, frying til crispy, draining on paper towels. I used to do something similar for a lentil salad at New World Grill and while we didn’t have a deep fryer – the horror – let’s just say our technique was not far off. I. Just. Can’t. (But by all means!)
Mujadara is a warm and wonderful combo of lentils and rice, sassed up with so many wintery spices that you will want it for your BFF.
1 1/4 cup brown or green lentils
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 shallots, very thinly sliced by hand or in a food processor
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup long-grain rice
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 bay leaf
2 5-ounce packages (about 8 cups) mixed greens, like kale, chard, and spinach, chopped
Zesty Yogurt Dip
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon whole coriander, toasted and coarsely cracked
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon
2 Tablespoons chopped mint
Make the Mujadara:
Par-cook the lentils by simmering in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water for 10 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and reserve the lentils.
Divide the olive oil, placing 2 Tablespoons in a large skillet and heat over medium. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and cook until well browned and crispy, about 30 minutes. As the shallots brown, remove and transfer to a paper towel and drain. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. If making this ahead, store wrapped in paper towel in an airtight container, once cooled.
Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a stockpot with a tight-fitting lid and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the stockpot, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon stick, allspice, black pepper, and cayenne; sauté for one minute until fragrant.
Add 2 cups water to the pot, along with the bay leaf, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the reserved lentils. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the lentils and rice are almost tender, about 15 minutes more.
Rinse the greens and distribute across the top of the rice and lentil mixture, checking to see if the rice/lentils require any more water. Cover and cook 5 minutes more, until rice and lentils are tender and greens are wilted. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir to combine greens.
Make the Zesty Yogurt Dip:
Combine the yogurt, coriander, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. To serve, add the lemon zest and chopped mint.
Makes 1 cup.
Serve topped with crispy shallots and Zesty Yogurt Dip, along with warm pita.
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:60 minutes
This makes a great vegetarian entrée, but I took it to a friend’s who just happened to have a big ol’ pot of curried chicken thighs, and it was a match made in heaven. #damndelicious.
Nothing screams holidays like cranberries, citrus and spice. Mulled wine, orange pomanders (that’s fancy talk for oranges poked full of cloves), and cranberry garlands. So imagine my delight when the good people from the healthy living site Mambo Sprouts shot me a box of the finest spices to review. Squealing! I like to make edible gifts for the holidays – are you with me? We really don’t need one more thing to dust or store. But devour? Hells yeah! Last year I made cheese wafers and put them in a nice little cracker dish (okay, one more thing to store).
This year I have on my radar some spice blends and chutney. What’s that you say? Chutney is weird? No, no. Ain’t so. Yes. You are right. But only if you are referring to the more traditional, pungent (read: medicinal tasting) versions that are fortified with mustard oil and strong vinegar. This Anglo spin balances its tarts with equal measure sweets (sugar, dried cranberries and candied ginger), and the acid from kumquats (unlike strong vinegar) borders on sweet. It’s practically dessert, wink wink. It can be the perfect foil to too-rich-double-crème brie or the right amount of sweetness to tangy goat cheese. One chutney can do both! Spicy (think turmeric, allspice and cinnamon), zippy (crystallized ginger), tart (kumquats and crans) and sweet (yeah, there’s some sugar – but not as much, by half, of what you would normally see.)
Palate. Passion. Purpose.
You already know I’m all about this, right? But I have met my match in partnering with Frontier Co-op. A purpose-driven company, Frontier’s theme is Cook with Purpose. Every bottle contains products with a story and the label tells that story. Frontier, as one of the earliest to advocate organics, firmly believes that social responsibility is the foundation for great products and that sustainable agriculture and ethical sourcing yield quality. Since their 1976 Iowa founding (in a river cabin!), they have worked with growers worldwide to build a safe food supply. A large part of that is education and they have created charitable funds (three to be exact) that train farmers and co-ops on how to protect themselves and the environment. The turmeric, sourced in Sri Lanka, was produced by a co-op that benefited from a Frontier grant which enabled an organic training center for the farmers. The cinnamon is Vietnamese. Frontier provided its producers with educational supplies, beds, room & board so the children in these remote communities can be educated. Worldwide, producers are blessed by the generosity of Frontier providing so many basics, ranging from clean water to roads to medical care. Frontier is on a mission – responsibility to people and planet. And btw interesting timing…our paths crossing now. I’m a month away from joining the board of CWS, a global agency with key initiatives in sustainability, hunger, development, and advocacy, among other important work. #fullcircle Frontier had me at Purpose!
Spicing It Up!
Armed with my box of Frontier Co-op goodies, and knowing it’s the time of year when warm spices soothe the soul, I decided to dose this chutney with Vietnamese cinnamon, turmeric, and allspice. The great thing about warm spices is they can flow from sweet to savory, and in fact this chutney does a bit of both. I spent some time a few years ago in southern India and learned more about Ayurvedic cooking. (I also learned a thing or two – first hand – about Ayurvedic massage. Ever have a massage by two people with a whole lotta oil and choreographed moves? Inner-resting! But, that’s for another post.)
A word…or two…about the star ingredients – the spices!
Quality cinnamon is different from supermarket cinnamon (generally cassia) due to its super high oil content, a result of specific harvesting techniques. This Vietnamese (fka Saigon) cinnamon has at least a 5% oil content, which makes it more than double the regular stuff. That results in an abundance of flavor, but especially the pungent, sweet and spicy notes. It also means a little bit goes a long way. The difference in color compared with supermarket brands is remarkable.
You may remember that Buddha Bowl post with fresh turmeric from the winter. While it’s lovely to source fresh ingredients, chances are that rhizome has been on the road a while. If you want real flavor, reach for a quality dried spice. Often called Indian saffron, turmeric – a member of the ginger family – not only gives curry its bright golden color, but it also adds a pepperiness that makes it a regular in Asian cuisine.
And our old friend allspice – I just used it in that yummy pumpkin chia pudding recipe. While it seemingly combines cinnamon + clove + nutmeg and has a very big name, it’s just a single spice and it hails from Jamaica. No doubt you have seen it as an essential ingredient in jerk chicken. It is in fact the unripe berry of a small evergreen. How very Christmasy!
In a medium non-reactive saucepan, combine the cranberries, kumquats, sugar, applesauce, and lemon juice. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop, about 5 minutes.
Add the dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, vanilla extract, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Continue simmering until the fruit is softened and the chutney is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more.
Remove from heat and let cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, and serve at room temperature.
Makes 3 cups.
Serving Suggestions: This is great with roast meats, slathered on a sammie, or served alongside or atop cheeses. If you warm it up, it will thin a bit and it makes the best glaze for your Christmas ham.
Serving and Giving Notes
The chutney can be made up to 1 week in advance, and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. It will easily last several weeks, but I’m just not going to tell you to prepare it weeks ahead. Scraping the last bit out of the bottom of the jar 3 weeks in? Well, that’s a different story. By all means!
If you are making this to give as a gift, make sure to sterilize the jars (glass only, please), and let your giftee know this has not been canned, needs to be refrigerated, and is for current consumption.
You know a movement has had its awareness sufficiently raised when a blithe reference slips into a throw-away line on a sitcom. After two posts on food waste last week, imagine my squeals when I heard this from a waiter at a hip millennial launch party on a newish sitcom: “The bruschetta has been made with rescued tomatoes and date of expiration burrata”. I’m squealing. Really. Yipeeeeeeee!
Unfortunately summer bruschetta is the last thing on my cooking mind today. A girl can dream. But as I moped through the grocery looking for anything to lift the gloom of winter’s darkest days, I was thrilled to see fresh turmeric. I didn’t even know you could get this in a mainstream grocery – in the Midwest. It used to be relegated to special trips to Asian markets in big cities. Or more likely it could only be sourced dried and ground. Honestly, I was never a fan of turmeric when I only knew its dried self. I thought it tasted – well, yellow. It didn’t really register much on my palate. But while doing guest chef stints on culinary cruises in the Caribbean, I would gather up ever fresh market item that was a bit unique and had a story and introduce our passengers to these new world treats. I even spent one week being followed by the Food Network, and we hit the Grenada spice market hard.
Turmeric was just one of the many spices I found bears little resemblance to its dry spice counterpart. Mace was another. It makes sense that I love turmeric because it’s related to ginger – and I’m well documented as a “fiend for ginger”. Both are rhizomes, along with galangal, lotus, bamboo, and many more. They spread laterally (called creeping rootstalk) and send shoots up. Many have culinary uses.
Like ginger, turmeric when fresh has a pungent and aromatic taste that can be quite peppery (HOT!), especially when used in excess. It is a key player in many South Asian (Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian) dishes – both for flavor and color; you’ll find it in American food as a colorant that can range from subtle to supreme. Vanilla products like yogurt and pudding turn creamy, not stark white, and mustard turns bright yellow.
But turmeric’s real claim to fame is its medicinal properties. Like ginger, turmeric has powerful anti-nausea (turmeric tea, just boil it up), anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. If only this miracle worker could clean the bath!! (Nobody wants a yellow tub, I know, I know). It’s even being studied for treatment of IBS, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer. Rock stah!
So I grabbed a handful and headed home, determined to make a spicy vegan curry. It doesn’t have to be vegan or even vegetarian, but that is what I had on my mind. Tucking in for the night with a Buddha Bowl of Spicy Goodness.
Start by making a Yellow Curry Paste – this will make four times what you need and freezes well. You can add a lot of different ingredients or leave out some of these, but this is what I had on hand and so what I used. Roasting the aromatics and toasting the spices, while a bit more time-consuming, will elevate the taste and develop a real depth of flavor that you simply can’t get by just pureeing all the ingredients. It’s worth the commitment.
Many curry recipes are simple purees, but this one roasts the aromatics and toasts the spices. While a bit more time-consuming, this extra step develops depth of flavor that you simply can’t get with dump and whirl. It’s worth the commitment. And bonus – it freezes well!
5 pieces of turmeric
3heads of garlic
1 Tablespoon of olive oil (plus more to drizzle on aromatics)
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3 Tablespoons lemongrass paste (a tube usually found with herbs in produce section)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Preheat oven to 400oF.
Wrap the aromatics, each in their own foil pouch, and place on a sheet pan to roast. (20 minutes for the turmeric; 1 hour for the shallots and garlic)
Shallots – peeled, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
Turmeric – well scrubbed, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
Garlic – loose outer “paper” removed, tops of each head trimmed, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
In a small sauté pan, heat one Tablespoon olive oil and add all the spices. Sauté, stirring, for about two minutes until the spices start to release their aroma. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor.
Once the aromatics are cool enough to handle, transfer the shallots and turmeric to the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the processor, picking by hand any that linger behind. Discard the garlic “paper”.
Add the lemongrass paste and sea salt. Puree until desired consistency.
Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate or freeze.
This will last longer than if it were made with raw herbs or aromatics, and it also freezes well.
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour
Keywords: turmeric, curry
Now that you have that tasty curry, how about whipping up a Coconut Curry Buddha Bowl, filled with hearty and soul-warming sweet potatoes and earthy greens and topped with pumpkin seeds. It’s vegan and you can feel great about that for so many reasons.
Coconut Turmeric Curry with Winter Vegetable Buddha Bowl
Serving suggestion – rice or brown rice* (See note below)
Start the rice.
In a wok or deep skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the ginger for 2-3 minutes until soft.
Add the sweet potatoes, curry paste, coconut cream and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring periodically, for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and sauce is thickened.
Add the greens and stir until wilted.
Divide rice among bowls and top with sweet potato curry. Garnish with scallions, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
*Brown rice note: I really prefer brown rice but you’ve likely heard the bad news about arsenic. Because it is a whole grain, it has more potential for danger than white rice which has been stripped of its outer hull (and for that matter its nutritional value). Truth be told, I really don’t eat it very often – once a month or less – so I’m not that worried but I do take a couple precautions. Brown basmati from California, India and Pakistan are the best choices – about 1/3 less risk than other brown rices according to Consumer Reports. The other thing I do is rinse it several times, and then cook it like pasta in a 6:1 water ratio (instead of the normal 2:1) and drain the excess water. That will help wash away the evil-doers lurking in your lovely whole grain. My Grandmother always said “you’ve gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die”. I’m guessing she wasn’t talking about arsenic, but she did make it pass 90. Just sayin.