Curry and Forbidden Rice

I declare this to be the summer of adventure!!!!

I have decided to buy a new type of produce and/or a new grain every time I go to the store. Our local grocery store had “tamarillos” which I had never seen before. They are a beautiful deep red, and look like a large oblong red plum. I was intrigued.

I came home, did some googling, surveyed my facebook friends and discovered that it (supposedly) tastes like a cross between a tomato and a passion fruit. There is a yellow variety, which is sweeter, and in either variety, you do not eat the tart peel, you scoop out the inside and eat it raw or cook it into a jelly (one facebook friend had only had it cooked, but didn’t tell me how she cooked it).  You learned in this post that I hate raw tomatoes, so I was wary, but curious. Here is a shot of the inside. Sorry that I didn’t get a shot of the outside, I hadn’t planned on blogging my tamarillo adventure:

It looks promising, eh? Well, it tasted nasty. Like poop-nasty. (Excuse my vulgarity). It was reeeeaaaaally sour, and had a sulfuric undertone. Two of my sons, who love sour things thought they were pretty good.

In keeping with my adventurous goal, I got some black “forbidden” rice last time I went to the store. I was trying to figure out what to make it, and I thought it was about time I actually wrote down a curry recipe. When I get the hankering for curry, I just kinda wing it. It’s always roux-based, but everything else varies, sometimes I add coconut milk, sometimes I don’t. This time it turned out to be some of the best curry I’ve ever made, so I’m glad I wrote it down!

The rice was great. It has the texture of brown rice, though a little chewier, and was a little earthier tasting than brown, but not noticeably different. One of my kids loved the ‘beetle rice’, once thought it was pretty good, and my squeamish one refused to eat it once brother said it looked like beetles.

We also decided as a family we we prefer straight-up potato curry. We were all digging for the potatoes and ignoring the chicken (which is why the picture is mostly chicken…I took it the next day of the leftovers). You can add whatever you’d like. Sweet potatoes would be tasty, or carrots, firm tofu if you’re a tofu type person. The amount of curry to add depends on your tastes, and the quality of your curry powder. 1 1/2 TBS was perfect for us, not too overwhelming for the kids, not too underwhelming for us. If you’re new to curry or not sure, start with 1 TBS, you can add more at the end if you need to.

CHICKEN AND POTATO CURRY

3-5 red potatoes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
4 TBS butter
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 TBS flour
1-2 TBS curry powder
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (one can) coconut milk
1 tsp salt

In a large pot, boil water. Add potatoes and cook until fork tender (when a fork inserted will slide in easily), but not falling apart. Remove and drain. Set aside. Cook your chicken if needed (I usually use leftover chicken for this, but you can cook your cubed chicken breast in a pan with a little water, covered, just until it is no longer pink in the middle and the juices run clear when you puncture it).

In a large sauce pan, melt butter. Add onions and cook until soft. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute. Whisk in flour and curry powder. Cook while whisking for one minute. Add the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add coconut milk slowly, whisking continually. Add salt and whisk continually until sauce thickens. Add chicken and potatoes and cook and stir until chicken and potatoes are warm. Serve with rice.

ALLERGEN alert: to make this dairy-free, use oil in place of the butter. To make this gluten-free, instead of making a roux, omit the flour, and after adding the stock and coconut milk, bring it to a simmer. Dissolve 1 TBS cornstarch in 1 TBS cold water and add to the sauce. Stir until thick.

SPECIAL DIETS alert: You can make this vegetarian or vegan by omitting the chicken and adding whatever veg you want.

 

BLACK “FORBIDDEN” RICE

2 cups water
1 cup black forbidden rice

Bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Cover and lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 60-70 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed and rice is tender.

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Zuppa Toscana Soup

I hate eating at Italian restaurants.

I cannot justify paying $10 a plate for pasta that I can make just as tastily (it’s a word…) in my own kitchen.

My favorite thing at Olive Garden is their black-tie cheesecake. (Yeah, I can probably make that, but it takes a long time, then I’d be stuck eating a whole cheesecake myself. What? Share?)

Then, one week I got some kale in our Bountiful Basket.

My choices were to find a recipe to make with it, or feed it to my husband’s classroom’s pet turtle. One of my friends suggested this soup, and boy am I glad they did! A cross between a creamy soup and a broth soup, with potatoes, sausage and kale…it’s now a family favorite.

ZUPPA TOSCANA SOUP

1 lb hot or mild italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
32 oz chicken broth
3 cups water
3 medium potatoes, unpeeled.
3 cups kale
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

In a soup pot, place Italian sausage and diced onions. If the sausage is in links, remove the casings before putting them in the pot. Use hot Italian sausage if you like a kick. My kids prefer mild. Cook over medium heat. When the sausage is mostly cooked, add the garlic to the pan. Stir together and cook until sausage starts to brown. Remove the sausage, onion, garlic mixture to a bowl to wait.

In the same pot, over medium-high heat, pour in the chicken broth. Scrape any tasty brown bits from off of the bottom of the pan. Add the water to the pot. While waiting for that to boil (you can turn it to high if your pot can tolerate it), cut the potatoes into large matchstick-shaped pieces. I achieve this by cutting each potato in half lengthwise, then half again lengthwise, then turning onto the flat side, cutting lengthwise four more times, then in half. I am pretty sure only 2% of you understand what I’m talking about, so look at the picture for guidance. Place the potatoes in the pot with the broth mixture. Boil for about 10-15 minutes, until you can easily poke a potato with a fork, but they aren’t quite completely cooked.

Add in the kale, which you have cut into thin ribbons (discard the thick vein), and lower heat to medium. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, until kale is tender.

Add in your sausage mixture and heavy cream (and red pepper flakes if you need more kick). Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with homemade bread. (That’s an order!!)

printable version

REAL food alert: Check your sausage ingredients for MSG, BHT or BHA.

ALLERGY alert: To make this dairy-free, simply substitute the cream with an alternative milk. Coconut milk is thick and would work well, it will change the taste a bit, but give an island flair. Add some sea salt if the alternative milk makes the soup too sweet. Check your broth and sausage ingredients for allergens.

HEALTH alert: you can lower fat by subbing half and half or evaporated skim milk for the cream. You can also use turkey sausage.

VEGGIE alert: You can make this vegetarian by subbing veggie broth for the chicken broth, omitting the sausage or subbing in cooked beans for it. You can make this vegan by also subbing the cream for an alternative milk (see above)