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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Easy Meals from Marian Burros

When I lived in New York City in the early 1990s, I became quite fond of Marian Burros's New York Times column, Plain and Simple. When we got married in 1996, I was thrilled when among our wedding gifts were a couple of her cookbooks, including 20-Minute Menus, originally published in 1989. These two dinners are not in heavy rotation chez nous, but they do periodically reappear. I'm not including any pictures, because the visual appeal of these dishes is quite limited.
Tortilla-Chip Casserole
adapted from Marian Burros's "Plain and Simple" column in the New York Times

This recipe originally called for using a half-pound ground turkey breast; I like it better as a vehicle for leftover roast chicken.

1 t olive oil
meat of some kind (leftover roast chicken, ground turkey or beef, leftover roast beef), optional
1 jalapeño, or to taste, optional (or a little cayenne)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1 sm can (or half a Pomi box) diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 t salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 16-oz can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed (or refried beans)
3 oz grated (sharp) cheddar cheese
a few handfuls of tortilla chips, or a couple of corn tortillas, torn into pieces

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Cook meat if you're starting with raw meat, until no longer pink. Remove excess grease if any, then add onions and peppers and sauté until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic and spices and cook for 30 seconds more, until they're fragrant. Add tomatoes (and leftover meat, if using) and cook a few minute to blend flavors. Remove mixture from skillet and put beans in bottom of pan, then top with chips, meat/veggie mixture and cheese. Cover and cook a few minutes, until cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Serve with sour cream and fresh chopped cilantro, and steamed broccoli or cauliflower on the side.

Curried Red Lentils and Cauliflower with Cashews
adapted from 20-Minute Menus by Marian Burros

8 oz red lentils
1 medium-large onion, chopped coarsely
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t turmeric
1/2 t chile powder
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1 small to medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 C chicken stock
3 oz tomato paste
1/2 C unsalted roasted cashews
plain yogurt or sour cream

In covered pot, bring lentils to boil in plenty of water to cover. Cook about 10 minutes, until soft, then drain (watch pot carefully--I don't think I've ever succeeded in not letting it boil over).

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Heat oil in dutch oven until shimmering, then sauté onion until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic and spices and continue cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook another 30 seconds, then stir in chicken stock, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Stir in cauliflower, cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is tender and starting to fall apart. Stir in lentils, simmer another couple minutes to blend flavors, then remove from heat. Serve over steamed rice, topped with cashews and yogurt/sour cream.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy (Belated) Purim!

Purim fell during spring break, and though I had grand plans of making Smitten Kitchen's hamantaschen at my mother-in-law's house, it just didn't happen. I finally got around to making them a couple of days ago, and yum! I omitted the lemon zest from the dough, because I just wanted to taste the butter, and used two fillings I had on hand: Nutella topped with a few diced roasted hazelnuts, and homemade rhubarb-ginger jam. Deb from Smitten Kitchen recommends baking 15 minutes, but on insulated sheets and after refrigerating the shaped cookies, mine weren't nearly done after that long. The jam-filled ones, the paler ones in the picture below, were in for 20 minutes, and the Nutella batch probably five minutes more than that. I recommend really letting them get golden for optimal flavor and texture. For ease in handling the dough, let it warm back up almost to room temperature before rolling, but still try to minimize handling.

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