Mmm... shopping in the bulk section!
Ratings for yesterday's spinach and ricotta baked pasta are good - approval from the grown-ups and a not unrecoverable rejection from the pasta loving preschool set. Because the spinachy part is salty and cheesey, I suspect that in time they will eat it on their own, instead of making me feed it forkful by forkful into their hungry mouths. I forgot to mention yesterday that a salad might have been nice too, lettuce with pomelo or grapefruit and a vinaigrette. Here's my recipe for that:
Salad with Pomelo and Vinaigrette:
In a small jar, mix two parts olive oil to one part champagne vinegar. For a two person salad, I usually use two teaspoons of oil, one of vinegar. Add lots of salt. If you're feeling fancy, finely mince a very small shallot and toss it in. Screw on the top of the jar and shake it up. Chop the lettuce into manageable bites, then wash and spin them dry and dump them into a very spacious bowl. Peel the citrus and remove the membrane off a few sections, shred up the fruit part and put as much as looks good to you into the bowl with the lettuce. Right before you eat, shake the dressing again and pour it over the top, grind some pepper over it, toss and serve.
Tonight I'm cooking up one of my daughter's favorites - dal. Inexplicably, she has always loved it. My son will eat it too, which is quite unusual. Most of the time they are at odds over main courses. The turnips, however, are something else entirely, but worth a try. Luckily Jason and I like to gobble down what the children won't. I've also started a cup of basmati in the rice cooker, because my kids love it. For two relatively normal adults who aren't running marathons, the dal and turnips are probably enough.
This recipe is basically mine, cobbled together over a number of years from different sources. I've found that some indian cooks like to add asofotida, to aid with digestion (take the toot out of the magical fruit?). But the only asofotida I've ever purchased smelled too much like catbox for me to keep around, so I don't use it. But you might give it a try, if you require aid. Or, if you have trouble with gas and beans and things, you can introduce them into your diet in small but frequent quantities - definitely make some rice in this case. Or take some acidophilus. Or, better yet, if you're british like the fabulous Nigel Slater, just have some wind and cope with it.
And speaking of sources for recipes, I've sent off some letters to publishers of several of my favorite cookbooks asking for permission to reproduce a few recipes on my blog. I'll let you know how that goes. The turnips are from our CSA newsletter, an adaptation of Neelam Batra's 1000 Indian Recipes, submitted by a CSA member.
1 c Chana Dal (aka split chick peas)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch or so ginger, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1 t cumin seeds
1 t red chile powder
1 t turmeric powder
1 T tomato paste (or 1 chopped tomato if in season)
2 T vegetable oil
Soak the split chick peas in some water for a while, 15 minutes to an hour. Then add them and 2 1/2 cups of water to a partially covered pot. Bring it to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes or so. While the chickpeas are simmering, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and briefly saute the ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick until they smell good. Then add the cumin, chile, turmeric and tomato (paste). Stir it all around for a couple minutes then remove it from heat. After the dal has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in the spice mixture. Continue to simmer until the chick peas are really soft and some have fallen apart, add some salt to taste when its close to done. If it starts to look too dry to you add more water. At the table, you can garnish with chopped cilantro. Or not, especially if you don't have any.
Grated Turnips, Indian Style:
1 lb turnips, scrubbed, trimmed and grated
1 t vegetable oil
1 in ginger, minced
1 t cumin seeds
1/4 t ground turmeric
1/4 t hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 t sugar, or to taste
3/4 t salt, or to taste
1/4 t garam masala
cilantro for garnish
Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over med-high heat. Add the ginger and cook for thirty seconds to a minute until it turns golden. Add the cumin seeds; they should sizzle upon contact with the oil. Add turmeric. Add the grated turnips and red pepper flakes. Cook for three to four minutes. Add the sugar and cook for another two minutes. Sprinkle on garam masala and garnish with cilantro and serve. As in the chana dal recipe, these things are optional.