Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banana Bread, Sobered Up


I seem to be revisiting a lot of recipes lately, which is unusual for me. I know I've already shared a banana bread recipe with you, but I couldn't not let you in on this one, too. You see, that other recipe has attitude, panache, and lots of booze; this recipe is closer to my heart. It's my mom's version, just slightly tweaked. She used to make this any time we found ourselves with too many overripe bananas (which, in Virginia heat and humidity, happens quite often). I've swapped out oil for butter and milk for sour cream because, when I wanted to make it today, that's all I had on hand. It came out better than I had expected, with a tenderly moist crumb begging to be slathered in soft butter and slowly savored.

Banana Bread

4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups AP flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 overripe bananas, broken into small pieces (or mashed, if you don't like tiny bits of banana throughout your bread. I like the bits).

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8" loaf pans for baking, set aside.
2. Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Beat in egg and sour cream until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat. (Batter will look dry, but the next step will fix that).
3. Add banana chunks and beat until incorporated (you will see little chunks of banana in the batter).
4. Pour into prepared pans and bake until tester comes clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge: Vols-au-Vent.

First, let's get business out of the way:

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.


Have I ever mentioned how much I love making puff pastry? Anything that gives me an excuse to utilize my marble slab and beat butter with a rolling pin excites me more than is probably considered normal or healthy. My original plan had been to make a large Vols-au-Vent and fill it with a very thick cream-based lobster soup, but I've been feeling a bit under the weather and the last thing I wanted to do over the weekend was deal with lobsters, so I decided upon something a bit simpler: I cooked down some golden delicious apples and quince with cinnamon, sugar, and a touch of nutmeg and used it as a filling for smaller Vols-au-Vents. I'll have to upload pictures of the finished product later (my camera is on the fritz at the moment), but believe me when I say you've gotta try this. Now. I don't care how long it takes to make puff pastry, or how much of an unexpected arm workout it is, or how finicky it is, or whatever else you may say. It's worth it, and it's SO much better than the store bought stuff. I tend to make it in large batches and freeze the extras for later use, and you can use the scraps for wonderful treats like palmiers. And really, do you need more motivation than palmiers?



Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent


Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out and About: Illinois Wine Festival


It seems we moved to Chicagoland just in time for every local oenophile's favorite time of year. Each weekend since we have moved here, there have been no less than 3 wine festivals within an hour's drive; this weekend, we decided to break from our usual routine of exploring our new stomping grounds to visit the Vintage Illinois festival at Starved Rock. Saturday proved to be a day made of the quintessential end of summer/ beginning of fall perfection I love: warm in the sun, yet chilly in the shade; trees barely kissed with varied autumnal colors; and air charged with the feeling that change is coming soon. One couldn't ask for a better day to celebrate the fruits of the vine.


We spent a couple of lazy hours slowly weaving through the crowds, people watching and, of course, sipping wine- some inexplicably bad, and some surprisingly good. Piasa Winery's semi-dry River Road Red, for example, surprised my palate with a tumble of fresh strawberries and almost no discernible acid. Mr. Milk and Honey's favorite, Starved Rock Marketplace's Pink Catawba, was another delightfully fruity wine perfect for everyday drinking; their Rose, however, was too acidic for both of us and ended up in the dump bin after one small sip. Galena Cellars Winery showcased their best wine, a decent semi-dry Oktoberfest (a blend of Riesling and Muscat grapes), and their worst wine, a Muscat Canelli reminiscent of mildly alcoholic simple syrup. Possibly the most disappointing wine we sampled came from Mary Michelle Winery, who advertised wines that they didn't actually have. Though I'm not a huge fan of fruit wines, I wanted to try their apple wine; instead, they gave me a taste of Mad Squirrel, an uninspiring, flat wine they said was comparable to their absent apple wine. Not surprisingly, my Mad Squirrel promptly found itself in the dump bucket.


My vote for the prettiest wine would go to Baxter's Vineyard and Winery's jewel-toned Sweet Red blend. If you could take a bright red ruby and melt it together with sunshine, it would probably look like this wine; but lest you think this wine is all looks and no substance, it's also full of deliciously sweet cherry- too sweet for my tastes, but still very good- and underlying blackberry and a very subtle smokiness that's almost too evasive to mention. My favorite dry red was easily Village Vintner Winery's aptly named Ziggy, a peppery, fruit forward blend that, once it hits the palate, just won't quit. I also tried Village Vintner's dessert port, Cocoa d'Orange, which had an amazing aroma and a pleasant enough flavor up front that quickly led to a bitter, acrid finish. Cooper's Hawk Winery's Sparkling Almond wine proved the most surprising wine of the day. I was absolutely sure I would hate it, and I thought I had validated my suspicions within the first second or two of my first sip- it was a bit boring and flat- but within another second, the taste and perfume of perfectly toasted almonds stopped me in my tracks. I wouldn't necessarily buy it by the case, but I'd bet that it would be a nice wine to have up your sleeve for a dessert pairing.


Our final tasting of the day came from Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery. I've never had mead before, so I'm not sure how this mead stacks up against others, but I do know that I loved it. I tried a honeyed mead that had been aged in a bourbon cask, which gave it a stunning aroma of, well, honey with a touch of bourbon, and the taste? It made me want to sit in front of a cozy fire, or cuddle up with a warm blanket on a large wooden porch swing and get lost in a book. It's very sweet, so it's definitely something of which I would only want a few sips, but there is something decidedly charming and medieval about mead, and I think I might get a bottle to have around during the holidays.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stuffed Red Peppers


Or rather, stuffing that you can use to stuff red peppers but is just as good (or better) eaten alone. This has quickly become my favorite dinner staple for a busy weeknight, though Mr. Milk and Honey prefers to eat it as a side dish when we have leftover meat of some sort, because for him, veggies and grain alone doth not a meal make. Though we may not agree about what role this dish should have on our dinner plate, we both enjoy the combination of fennel, zucchini, chickpeas, and tomato, and we love how the feta cheese lends itself to a wonderfully creamy texture in which the little bits of quinoa shine. The best part? It makes fantastic leftovers for lunch, and if you're like me, you'll find yourself looking forward to busy weeknights just so you'll have an excuse to make it again.


Quinoa and Feta Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Epicurious

The original recipe calls for couscous, but I usually have quinoa on hand. Either grain works well.

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup quinoa
4 large bell peppers, mixed colors
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 oz zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
6 oz yellow squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Boil trimmed peppers for 5 minutes, then drain them upside down*.

3. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and chickpeas. Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta. Place peppers upright in the baking dish and fill them with couscous. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

* Instead of boiling, I prefer to roast my peppers in the oven for about 15 minutes before stuffing and baking them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lebanese Lamb Chops + Bulgar with Herbs


For you shrewd observers out there, no, that's not lamb. It's goat, but this recipe works equally well with either meat, and I just so happen to have a lot of young goat chilling away in my freezer, sidled up to my 35+ lbs of beef bones I scored from a local butcher shop that, unfortunately, is going out of business. Oh, do I have plans...

But back to the goat. I still haven't decided if I prefer goat curry to grilled goat, but the seasoning in this recipe just might sway me to the grilled side (which is crazy considering how much I adore curry). I generally don't eat more than a couple of bites of meat with my meals (unless it's dispersed in small pieces throughout a dish, like, shall we say, curry), but I ate 2 of these chops. Due in great part to cinnamon, the spice blend has a warming effect on your sinuses, leaving a pleasant perfume lingering in your head long after your last bite. The minty/lemony/sweet hit from the accompanying salad adds a nice final touch. Serve this alongside a savory bulgar salad balanced with mint, cilantro, lemon, and scallions, and you've got a wonderful pick-me-up meal to stave off the mid-week schlumpies.


Lebanese Lamb Chops

2 large lemons
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp baharat*
2 lbs rib lamb chops
2 heads bibb lettuce, torn into large pieces
1 1/2 cups mint leaves

1. Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high for gas).

2. Grate 2 tsp zest from 1 lemon. Trim ends of both lemons, then stand lemons on a cut side and cut peel, including pith, from lemons with a sharp paring knife. Discard peel and cut lemon segments free from membranes, then cut segments crosswise into 1/4" pieces. Toss segments gently with sugar in a small bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp oil. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

3. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/2 tsp salt, then stir together with baharat, grated zest, remaining oil, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Rub into lamb chops.

4. Toss lettuce with and mint with lemon mixture.

5. Grill chops, turning once, about 6 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate and let rest, loosely covered, 5 minutes. Serve chops over salad.

*Baharat can be found in most Indian markets, or you can make your own by grinding 1 tsp each of whole cloves, cumin seeds, Maras or Aleppo pepper (or, if you can't find either of these, a pinch of cayenne is better than nothing), and a 3" cinnamon stick in an electric spice grinder until finely ground.


Bulgar with Herbs

This salad is just as good (if not better) after sitting in the fridge. Even though I'm only cooking for 2, I make the full recipe and use the leftovers for lunches through the week.

1 cup bulgar
2 cups boiling-hot water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped mint
1 Tbsp roasted almond oil or olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Put bulgar in a bowl, then pour water over it and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until hot and cook almonds until golden, about 1 minute.

3. Drain bulgar in a medium mesh sieve, then return to bowl and stir in scallions, herbs, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and almonds. Season with more salt and lemon juice if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Apple Almond Streusel Bars: Welcoming Autumn


This weekend was relaxing and fun, complete with dinner at Urban Belly in Chicago (if you haven't tried them before, go. Like now. Their udon is perfection in a bowl). This morning, though, I woke up asking myself the same question I woke up asking myself on the morning after we returned from our honeymoon: what now? Since May, we've had so much to do, whether job searching, visiting family and friends, or packing up our bags and moving, but it's over now. We're back to normality, and though this is exactly what I've been wanting since we left Kansas, it's strange. Nice, but strange.


Of course, in typically predictable Nic fashion, when I didn't know what to do this afternoon, I baked. I know it's not officially autumn yet, but September in Chicago is chilly enough to convince this Virginia girl that it's time to break out the apples, cinnamon, and everything else that screams crunchy leaves and crisp breezes. This recipe is a jacked-up version of a recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking . I changed the decidedly summery lemon berry filling to a fall-friendly apple one, added more cinnamon, and tweaked the crumb by adding almonds. If you're reading between the lines here, this is a very versatile bar that you could fill with pretty much anything to fit the season. I'm thinking a splash of cognac or a pinch of cloves would be great additions to the filling, but it's delicious as is.


Apple Almond Streusel Bars

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups rolled oats (Not instant, please)
1/2 cup whole almonds
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Apple Filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of your apples. I used fairly tart apples).
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons AP flour
2 medium-sized apples of your choice, peeled and chopped into small dice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan, set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse flour, brown sugar, oats, almonds,salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together until just combined. Add butter and pulse until crumb forms.

3. Reserve at least 1 cup of crumb mixture (I reserved about 1 1/3 cups). Place the rest of the crumb into the greased pan and press into an even layer. Bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes.

4. While the crust bakes, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together. Add the apples and butter and gently toss until the apples are coated.

5. Spread the apples evenly across the baked crumb and sprinkle the reserved crumb across the apple filling. Bake 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grilled Peaches


Looks good, eh? Whenever we grill, we try to make good use of our charcoal (read: we're too cheap to just let the coals burn down and let them go to waste, so we grill everything in sight until our little coals turn into an exhausted pile of ash). Usually, that means we end up with a bounty of grilled vegetables to use later in the week, but last night, there was nary a veggie in sight. We did, however, have too many not-so-fabulous peaches and no desire to eat them as they were. After staring down said peaches for a few seconds, the hubs and I shot each other a couple of shifty-eyed sideways glances, then a knowing nod, and with just a few deft swipes of a paring knife and some help from brown sugar, we knew we had a good thing going. It's so easy: slice the peaches in half, sprinkle some brown sugar on them, drop them onto the grill, drool as you watch the brown sugar carmelize and slowly drip towards the hot coals... These babies are great straight off the grill, but they're equally as good with fresh mint or rosemary over vanilla ice cream or sliced and served over toasted pound cake. I feel silly posting this since it's so simple, but it's too good to not share.



Grilled Peaches

Several peaches or nectarines, halved, pits removed
Brown sugar

1. Rub flesh side of peach halves with a generous amount of brown sugar and let sit for a few minutes.

2. Place peaches on grill, flesh side down. Grill for 1-2 minutes or until grill marks appear on the peaches. Remove from grill and serve immediately, or refrigerate for future use.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Goat Curry


Friends, we've finally made it to the Chicago area and, with the exception of a few boxes of textbooks and binders, we are completely unpacked. We've become experts at this whole moving process, but it still feels unreal to us. This summer has been difficult, thanks in great part to two moves across the country and crushing family upheavals that have left me feeling more than a little unsettled. It's strange to finally be in our own place, away from the epicenter of everything. Please don't mistake me- we're absolutely thrilled to be living here, and we are having more fun than we probably should be having exploring our new stomping grounds. We love our new home and the area in which we live; it's just going to take a little time to relax back into our own routine. That said, the hubs and I have already found several markets that we plan to frequent. Yesterday, we happened upon a halal market and stepped in with the intention to pick up some tahini; instead, we left with several pounds of fresh, young goat and every intention of shopping there weekly.


I opted to make a goat curry with the meat, simply because I wanted something easy with complex flavor, and because I absolutely adore curry. It's definitely my kind of comfort food, and did I mention how good this stuff will make your house smell? Seriously, with all the different curries out there, I'm pretty sure I could just sample different curry for the rest of my life and be happy. I didn't actually take the time to roast and powder my own peppers, or to go into any long preparation for this dish. I just used the powdered spices and it still turned out well. It's a wonderful way to welcome those cooler months that are creeping in on us, and if you're like me, you'll find yourself craving the aroma almost as much as you crave the taste.

Goat Curry
Ingredients:

Rub:

1 1/2 lb young goat (or lamb) cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp red chili powder (more or less, to taste)
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
Salt,to taste

2 cups chopped onions
1/2 split green chili, seeds removed (or more to taste)
2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
3-4 curry leaves
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp garam masala powder
Juice from half a large lime

Directions:

1. Rub the meat with a paste made out of the ingredients listed for the rub above. Let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature.

2. Heat oil in a deep pot and add the fenugreek seeds, onions, green chilies and curry leaves.

3. Once the onions start to brown, add the marinated meat pieces to the pot and stir well.

4. Add 1 1/2 cups of hot water and mix well. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.

5. Add the coconut milk. Mix well and cook until the meat is tender, about ten minutes.

6. Add the garam masala and the lime juice and mix well. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

Note: Fenugreek can be hard to find, and unfortunately, I don't know of any good substitutes. If you can't find the whole seeds, try using powdered fenugreek and just adding it in with the rub. This is a milder curry- for more heat, use the whole green chili.