Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Indian Keema with Peas, with a full menu

We had guests to dinner last weekend, and needed a menu where most everything could be done ahead of time.  This worked out really well!  We started with home-made baked tortilla chips, guacamole, and store-bought hummus.  (The generic brand at Hy-Vee is good enough that I don't bother to make it from scratch anymore.)  The main course was Indian Keema with Peas, served over brown rice (I highly recommend short-grain brown rice--tastier than long-grain), with a side dish of a cucumber and fennel in yogurt.  Dessert was fruit dipped in chocolate and hazelnuts.  It was a nice combination of tastes and textures.  Here are the three recipes not linked above:

Indian Keema with Peas
adapted from Craig Claiborne's Gourmet Diet (Times Books, 1980)
4 servings

1 t. minced garlic
1 T. chopped fresh ginger
3/4 c. chopped onion
2 t. vegetable oil
1 T. curry powder
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground turmeric
1/4 t. ground coriander seeds
1/4 t. ground cumin
1 lb. ground lamb (beef could also be used)
1 c. chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1 T. lime juice
1 t. sugar
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 t. crushed hot red pepper flakes
1 c. peas, defrosted if using frozen

Approximate how much garlic, ginger and onion will yield the given amounts.  Using the food processor, first mince the garlic, add in the ginger, and then the onions.  Add the oil and blend to a fine purée.

Sauté the mixture in a skillet and cook, stirring often, until the mixture almost starts to brown.  Add the curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander and cumin and stir to blend.

Add the meat and cook, breaking up any lumps.  When the meat is no longer pink, pour off any accumulated oil, then add the tomatoes, lime juice and sugar.  Add a generous grinding of pepper and the hot red pepper.  Cover closely and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the peas and continue cooking until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes.

Serve with rice, brown or white.  

adapted from Craig Claiborne's Gourmet Diet
5 servings

1 large cucumber, about 1-1/2 lbs.
1/2 small fennel bulb
2 cups plain yogurt (I use non-fat)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion or scallions
1 t. finely chopped garlic
2 T. white vinegar
1-1/2 T. sugar
1 T. olive oil
2 T. finely chopped fresh dill (or 1-1/2 t. dried)

Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half length-wise, and scrape out the seeds.
Cut the cucumbers until thin, half-moon slices--about 4 cups.
Trim the fennel bulb and cut it in half.  Cut one half crosswise into thin slices--about 1 cup. 
Combine the sliced cucumbers and fennel with the rest of the ingredients, blending well.  Chill for an hour or longer.

adapted from a loose recipe, source unknown
serves 4

4 ounces semisweet chocolate (bar or chips)
4 cups whole strawberries, with stems, washed and patted dry
16 dried apricots
2 ounces hazelnuts, finely chopped (other nuts would be fine also)

Set out a cookie sheet with a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Chop the chocolate in large pieces (if using a bar) and heat until melted.  (I do this in a microwave.)  Set the bowl with melted chocolate in a pan of just-boiled water, so that it doesn't harden while working.

Pick up one piece of fruit at a time and dip it into the melted chocolate, coating about half of each piece of fruit.  Then immediately dip the tip in the chopped hazelnuts.  Place the dipped fruit on the waxed paper, and continue with the rest of the fruit.

Let the dipped fruit stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, to let the chocolate harden.  This can be done a couple of hours ahead of time.  If the kitchen is warm, I bring the tray into the basement to keep it cool.

I haven't tried this with other fruit, but it could be nice--maybe pineapple, clementines, or cherries.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spicy Red Fish Stew

I had some friends over for dinner tonight, and this dish was a big hit.  It's a good dish when having guests, as most everything can be done ahead of time.  The last step is cooking the fish in the stew, which only takes five minutes, so it can be done just before you want to sit down to eat.  It also makes a full meal when served with bread and a salad.

Spicy Red Fish Stew

serves 6-8
adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spicy-Red-Fish-Stew-109491
(I have incorporated a number of suggestions from the comments on the recipe.)


  • 3 large roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped--I used most of the contents of a 12-oz jar. (Or you can roast your own fresh peppers.*)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 shallots, chopped (or 6 shallots and a small red onion) 
  • three 14-1/2 ounce cans chopped tomatoes in juice (include one can of fire-roasted)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • juice of a half-lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small 
  • 2 carrots, diced small (about 1/4") 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 t. dried crushed red pepper (or 1 T. chili pepper sauce)
  • 3/4 t. cumin
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 pounds halibut or cod fillets (or other white fish), cut into 1-inch pieces (if serving 6, 1 lb. 12 oz is fine) 


If using fresh peppers: Char bell peppers in broiler until blackened on all sides.*  Enclose peppers in paper bag 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and chop peppers.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until very soft, about 6 minutes.

Stir in peppers, tomatoes with juice, wine, lemon juice, garlic, celery, carrots, crushed red pepper and cumin. Simmer 10 minutes (or until carrots are soft) to blend flavors.  (If making ahead, stop here and do rest just before serving.)

Stir in cilantro and lemon peel.

Add fish; simmer until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Season stew to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and serve.  Have Sriracha sauce available on the table.

*Set broiler on high.  Line pan with foil.  Put rack on second shelf.  Broil about 2 minutes each side.  Slowest part is taking of the skin—rub with edge of knife where doesn't just slide off.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Super simple supper

As part of our newly deepened commitment to a heart-healthy diet, and with an interest in losing weight, David and I have been following the Flat Belly Diet for about two months now, with good results.  This diet was formulated by the editors of Prevention magazine.  It's been effective for us, and pretty easy to stay with.  We've both lost weight, and are eager to see cholesterol counts on our next blood tests.  Anyway, here's one of the meals from the book that is really simple to put together and very tasty.  I generally have 2-cup portions of cut-up chicken in the freezer, which makes this even quicker.

makes 4 servings

2 cups cooked chicken breast chunks (10-12 ounces)
1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with juice
1 T. chili powder
1 cup chopped avocado or guacamole (I use Wholly Guacamole)
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream 

In a nonstick skillet, combine the chicken, beans, tomatoes, and chili powder.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Divide into four servings and top each with 1/4 cup of the avocado and 1 T. of the sour cream.

Can be served over a half-cup of brown rice or with a couple of warmed up corn tortillas.