For the past three weeks, I’ve shared observations and thoughts from a recent trip taken away from Hotel California. There’s more to come. Finally, on Friday, I felt like I was hitting to my stride of work et al after the long absence and the slow drag of follow-up and catch-up.
This morning has been my usual Sunday morning: “read” the Sunday paper (boo, no more Golden Girls as background distraction), breakfast, start the laundry (3 loads), water the plants, and cooking. In the past few weeks, of course, I’ve been cooking. My goal has been to use those items that have been too long in the freezer, although Constant Companion and Daughter did a good job of mining it while I was gone.
Today was kind of “chore cooking,” my approach was to get it done. I sliced and toasted two day-old loafs (one baguette, one ciabatta) for homemade bruschetta.
Next up was to clean and roast three pie pumpkins abandoned on the counter to use for a pot of pumpkin soup.
Pumpkin Soup was relatively easy to make. Clean, cut, take the seeds out of the pie pumpkins. Roast with one or two cut onions and a head of garlic in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes. When cool, remove the skin. Put the pumpkin chunks and vegetables into a saucepan with four cups of broth or water and several sprigs of fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour. With your immersion blender blend it all together until smooth. When serving, top with pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seeds).
Pumpkin Seeds. Long ago, my mother and I enjoyed making and crunching homemade pumpkin seeds harvested from the gourds carved for Halloween. It’s been a long time since Daughter and I followed in Mom’s footsteps. I know we’ll make short work of the freshly made seeds from today’s pumpkins.
Chicken Curry and Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Lentils. Two dishes stand out from the rest I served in the past few weeks. When I got home, Daughter was off on her own trip. A two pound bag of sliced peaches was taking up space in the freezer. I chose a savory use for them, chicken curry, instead of a dessert. The timing was right with Daughter being away; I resist using a number of spices because her palate does not tolerate them. Curry chicken it was.
Not a terribly difficult not complex dish. Gently browned pieces of a cut up fryer in some oil, skin side down first. Put the chicken aside, lower the heat on your pan, add 2 Tbsps each of ground coriander and ground cumin, 1 ½ tsp turmeric, 2 tsps ground ginger, ½ tsp of black pepper, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, and chili flakes. Or just use a bunch of curry powder! Gently fry to activate their flavors.
Add one minced onion to the pan with the spices, brown. Add two minced garlic cloves and soften. Return the chicken to the pan including any juices. Drain and rinse the frozen peaches and add to chicken.* Top with broth or water and cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for an hour.
*I also had some nice granny smith apples waiting for something on the counter. I peeled, sliced, and added to the curry with the peaches. We’re not necessarily fond of cooked dried fruit; you can add ¼ cup of raisins if you’d like.
The Sweet Potatoes and Lentils. Roast two to three washed sweet potatoes in a 350 oven for an hour. Cook one cup of washed black beluga lentils in a pot of boiling salted water for 20-30 minutes. Cool. Tolls the lentils with 4 Tbsp of olive oil. Trim and cut 4 scallions in matchstick, place in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside. Whisk together 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 Tbsp each soy sauce and white miso with 1 tsp sesame oil. Set aside.
Assembly. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add pieces of sliced sweet potatoes. Brown on both sides. Remove from heat and add the glaze. Return to heat, cook about 1 minute. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a platter, top with scallions. Add the lentils and toss together.
A recent acquisition in our kitchen is a rice cooker. I love it! Brown rice comes out really nice, too. This chicken/peach curry was served with steamed white rice.
A few days later, I needed a side dish. I’m trying to mix it up and use the accumulated treasures in the pantry, seemingly a never ending task. I have pasta (in many shapes and sizes), rice (white, basmati, brown, black, risotto), potatoes, potatoes, beans, and more. Lentils won that evening. But what if you mix lentils with garbanzos? What an idea!
Starting with the lentils, brown two diced onions in a saucepan. Add four minced cloves or garlic. Add two cups of rinsed lentils and a few teaspoons of turmeric and salt. Add 5 cups of water and cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer and cook about 20-30 minutes til the lentils are soft.
Next, rinse a can of garbanzos. Add to skillet with about 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add some chopped garlic, according to your taste. Stir or toss occasionally til the beans crisp a little bit. Stir into the cooking lentils. A very nice side dish any day of the week. Oops, forgot to take a photo.
Don’t worry, more observations of my epic trip will be coming in future posts.