Archive for the ‘stone soup’ category

Hunger is the mother of invention

April 26, 2009

A near-empty larder can result in some interesting platefuls.  Sometimes, the results are good enough that I later shop with the specific intent of repeating them. Here’s one success story:

Toast some rice and chopped nuts in butter. Add salt and water. Bring to boil, cover, simmer until done, let rest a bit. Add some lemon juice, a whole bunch of green stuff, chopped, and some white stuff. Stir gently and correct seasonings. Serve warm or cool.

My first, desperate (yet delicious) version made use of walnuts, garlic, some past-its-prime arugula, Greek yogurt. The most recent variation (below) had pistachios, parsley, lemon zest, ricotta. I’m looking forward to the day when I can serve this with a side of sliced home-grown tomatoes…000_0540

Proportions of (raw) rice : nuts : water : white stuff = 2 : 1 : 2-3 : 2

**Cooking science tip: the addition of lemon or some kind of acid, besides being tasty, helps keep the greens bright.

Baby, it’s (still) cold outside

April 20, 2009

Tomorrow, according to the calendar, we will be one month into spring. You could have fooled me. Today New York is (again) rainy and windy and cold. Just the kind of day when you want to feed yourself something comforting and delicious. Some people keep well-stocked pantries that allow them to act on such culinary whims without, say, going out into the rain and wind and cold. I am not one of those people, and the cupboard was especially bare this afternoon.000_0531


A container of yogurt that had been left behind by a houseguest was on the cusp of expiration, so using that was a must. And I had some potatoes. OK. I googled yogurt and potatoes, and this offered an appealing starting point. Of course, I didn’t have an onion or  green chilies or turmeric or fresh ginger or cilantro or even parsley.  But I figured I could make do.

Days like this make me as hungry for acts of food preparation as for the food itself, so instead of  serving the dish over rice I decided to make paratha, which offers some good opportunities for mixing and squeezing and pounding and rolling and such.  (The method I’ve threaded through my take, below, on yogurt and potatoes is borrowed from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.)


1. When you can’t stand to sit at the computer another second, pause to mix white flour and wheat flour and water (2:2:1, plus some salt) for paratha. Set aside to rest and finish answering e-mails.

2. Film the bottom of a saucepan with oil. Turn to medium high and throw in two handfuls of frozen pearl onions. Cut two largish potatoes into cubes. Give the onions a shake, then add potatoes & some salt to pan. 

3. Make a drink while potatoes & onions brown on one surface. Give them another shake or two as you evaluate your cocktail.

4. Dissolve a generous teaspoon of red curry paste in about  ½ cup of water. Pour into pot. Stir up brown bits from bottom. Cover and reduce heat to simmer.

5. Prepare paratha. “Pinch off pieces of dough 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. Roll each piece into a 4-inch disk and brush with butter. Roll up like a cigar, then press into a coil not unlike a cinnamon bun.”

6. Sometime before you make it through the paratha dough, the potatoes will probably be tender. Turn off heat. Throw a few handfuls of frozen peas into the pot and then cover so they can thaw. Continue preparing paratha. Once all the coils are done, roll them about ¼ inch thick and brown over medium high heat in an iron skillet, brushing with more butter if you like. Keep warm.

7. Stir 8 oz of yogurt into the potato mixture and give it a little more heat. Adjust seasonings. Top with lemon zest and serve with paratha.000_0539