Spinach curry with cheese
Makes: less than you might think because spinach cooks down a lot, but probably a quart
Takes: 30 minutes
- 1/2 lb paneer cheese
- 1 lb chopped spinach
- 3 Tbsp ghee or oil (do NOT use butter)
- 1 fresh green chile (deseeded, finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed) OR 1 1/2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
- 1/4″ piece fresh ginger (grated) OR 2 tsp frozen grated ginger (thawed)
- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 cardamom pods (cracked)
- 1 small cinammon stick
- 1/2 cup light cream, half-n-half, or yogurt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (grated if you can, ground otherwise)
- Cook down the spinach in a covered pan with a bit of water – approximately 4-5 minutes. Be amazed by how small it gets. Put cooked spinach in a colander to drain.
(Tip: save the drained liquid for drinking or making stock or whatever, it is full of good stuff)
Alternately, defrost the frozen spinach. I use fresh because I hate stems; you do you.
- Cut the cheese into 3/4″ cubes (basically, bite-sized).
- Heat the ghee/oil in a frying pan and fry the cheese until it’s deliciously golden on the outside. You probably want the ghee/oil hotter than you think. Keep them moving around and flipping them so they don’t stick. It’s better to do them in multiple batches than sticking together.
- Add the garlic, spices, and salt to fry briefly (lower the heat a bit).
- Add the dairy and bring to a simmer.
- Squeeze/press the spinach a bit to get more liquid out and then stir it into the pan with everything else.
- Let simmer for a few minutes until all the flavors blend and it’s not too wet.
- Take out the cinnamon stick and serve with rice.
This is a combination of a couple recipes I have in a little cheap cookbook of curries, 1 for lamb saag and 1 for saag paneer, that I’ve tinkered with until it does approximately what I want. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, and would be interested opinions on that.
DO NOT USE BUTTER TO FRY THE PANEER. You will get a lot of splatter and probably 2nd degree burns on your hand from the splatter. Learn from me and just go buy ghee or use oil!
Paneer is an Indian farmer’s cheese. I hear it’s pretty easy to make, but it is available at better regular grocery stores with an “ethnic” section. It may be in with other cheeses.
The choice of chile pepper is yours, though I would recommend not going to the habanero end of the Scoville scale. Jalapenos do pretty well and are readily available.
Buttery, oaty shortbread worth giving up the oven for an hour and a half.
Wedgy Oaty Shortbread
Makes: 16 wedges + 1 round shortbreads
Takes: 15 prep + 15-20 baking + 1 hour cooling in oven
- 1/2 cup (1.5 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup (2.67 oz) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (1oz) cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 14 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut in small pieces)
- Put the rack in the middle and pre-heat to 450 deg F.
- Put the oats in a spice grinder, blender, or coffee grinder and grind until you get oat flour. 1/2 cup oats should give 1/4 – 1/3 cup oat flour, if you want to just buy oat flour instead.
- Mix the oat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt A stand mixer is convenient for this; use the paddle, not the whisk.
- Add the butter and mix until the dough just forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. That’ll take 5-10 minutes because it’s cold butter and stuff. You could probably do at least part of this with a pastry cutter if you really really had to.
- Make your life easier by putting parchment paper or silpat down on the baking sheet first. Then put an upside down 9″ springform pan (no bottom, closed latch) on top of that and press the dough into the springform pan.
- Make sure it’s all nice and smooth, then cut out a 2″ circle from the middle (a biscuit cutter is convenient, but whatever you got). Stick that circle on the paper outside the springform pan, don’t let it go to waste!
- Open the latch on the springform pan, but don’t take it off yet.
- Bake the shortbread for 5 minutes (at 450deg F), then drop the temperature to 250 deg F. Leave the door shut while you do that!
- Bake it until edges turn pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.
- Pull it out and take the springform pan off. Be careful, it’s hot!
- Turn the oven off.
- Using a sharp knife (chef knife good), cut 16 wedges about 1/2 way through the shortbread. Use a skewer to poke some holes in each wedge to speed drying (and look fancy).
- Stick it back in the oven. Yes, even though it’s been turned off. Wedge the door open about an inch with a cooking utensil that won’t melt.
- Let it cool and dry out in the oven for about an hour.
- Let it finish cooling completely, cut wedges completely, serve.
This makes for a great stand-alone shortbread worthy of giving up so much oven time. Buttery and a little crumbly.
Basis of recipe can be found in Cooks Illustrated’s All-Time Best Holiday Baking, which inexplicably doesn’t include the Cream Scones of Doom.
Takes: 30 minutes + 1 day
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 package cream cheese
- 1 pinch salt
- Herbs What You Like
recommended: savory, thyme, dill, oregano
- a little cream or milk
Cream cheese mixture:
- Let cream cheese warm up some in a bowl
- Add spices and mix, adding a little cream or milk to thin it out to a spreadable paste. The goal of this mixture is to be the glue holding the cucumbers and bread together.
- If not using immediately, cover tightly (press air out) with plastic wrap and store in fridge.
- Do this at least 2 hours in advance (the night before is also fine).
- Peel and slice the cucumber thinly.
- Lay the slices in a single layer on paper towels (stacking layers of towel + cuke is ok).
- Let sit in the fridge until it’s time to compile the sandwiches.
Assembly of sandwiches:
Recommend: use full slices of bread and trim to shape after compiling.
- If refrigerated, let cream cheese mixture warm up enough to spread.
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on a slice of bread, then put down a layer of cucumber slices. Cut slices in half if needed to fill a corner.
- Spread a second thin layer of cream cheese mixture, then another layer of cucumber slices.
- Spread a third thin layer of cream cheese mixture, then put the second slice of bread on.
- Repeat 2-4 until you have enough.
- Cut sandwiches into quarters or saltirewise to be adorable tea sandwiches.
This is a recipe I made up, basically from “cucumber sandwiches are a thing, how would that work?”
Makes: 9 inch square pan
Takes: 50-60 minutes
- 2 1/4 cup sifted (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger (or 3 tbsp grated fresh ginger)
- 1 tsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ground if that’s what you have)
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter (melted then cooled to room temp)
- 3/4 cup mild or light molasses (or dark if you like it dark)
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (in a pinch, use 1/2 cup regular yogurt)
- 1/2 cup milk
- optional confectioner’s sugar to dust at the end
- Put oven rack to the middle. Pre-heat oven to 350deg F.
- Grease bottom and sides of baking pan, then dust it with flour.
- Put flour, ginger, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk it together. This is the dry mixture.
- Put the butter, molasses, and sugar in a separate large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined. This is the wet mixture.
- Beat the egg into the wet mixture.
- Slowly add the buttermilk and milk to the wet mixture and beat it in.
- Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides as you go, as needed. Should take about a minute.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan.
- Bake until top springs back when touched and edges pull away from the pan. That’s about 35-45 minutes.
- Set pan on cooling rack for about 10 minutes.
- Optional: dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Recipe says it can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days. Leave it in the pan if you do that or it will get a little sticky on the outside.
This is a very cake-like gingerbread. Do not try to cut out like cookies. Do not use to build a house.
Cream Scones of Doom
Makes: 8 wedge scones (or 16 mini-scone wedges)
Takes: 20 – 25 minutes
- 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- optional: 1/2 cup currants
or 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
or 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- Put oven rack to middle position. Pre-heat oven to 425deg F.
- Put flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix.
- Cut in the butter.
By hand: use a pastry cutter or whatever you do you masochist you
By machine: use a food processor for zip and an extra thing to clean
- If using optional add-ins (currants, etc.), add them now and mix.
- Stir in heavy cream until dough begins to form.
- Dump dough and all dry flour bits to countertop (or whatever) and knead briefly until it comes together in a rough, slightly sticky ball (5 – 10 seconds?). Don’t over-knead.
- Pat dough into 3/4″ thick circle and cut into 8 wedges. (For mini-scones, split into two 3/4″ thick circles, cut each into 8 wedges.)
- Transfer wedges to ungreased baking sheet. Optional: brush tops of scones with dregs of the cream, sprinkle with raw sugar.
- Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 – 15 minutes.
- Cool on wire rack at least 10 minutes. Or they’ll seem underdone. Be chill. Make some tea and get out the jam and butter and clotted cream while you wait.
A billion years ago, I found myself in a stranger’s kitchen being fed freshly baked scones. I can’t remember who it was, but the scones were amazing. This recipe, from Cooks Illustrated (Holiday Baking 2010) is the closest I’ve gotten and they are amazing.
OBVIOUSLY, this is not a straight transcription. But I’ve made this recipe a lot in the last 6 years or so I have it basically memorized.
Tibs – Ethiopian Stir-Fried Red Meat
Makes: about a quart?
Time: 10 minutes
- 1 large red onion (sliced thin)
- 1/4 cup niter kebbeh (spiced butter) or ghee
- 2 lbs beef (or lamb or venison) (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 2 tablespoons berbere
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves (sliced thinly)
- 2 cups tomatoes (whole, peeled, broken into bits)
- 1 to 5 green chiles (jalapenos or serranos will do fine)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- Get the saute pan or wok very hot.
- Stir-fry the onions without the butter/ghee for a few minutes, until they char just a little on the outside.
- Add the spiced butter and the venison. Stir-fry hot and fast until the outside of the meat is brown but the inside of the meat is still very rare. You need to do this on as hot a burner as you have. Do it in two batches unless you have a very large wok or pan.
- The moment the meat has browned, add it all back into the pan along with the spices, garlic and chiles. Stir-fry another 30 seconds
- Add the tomatoes and the wine. Toss to combine and let this cook for a minute or two.
- Serve at once with injera.
This is the last of the recipes I’m copying from my spouse. As usual, I can’t vouch for the original source or authenticity; however, I will say that most of the beef tibs I’ve had in Ethiopian restaurants have been more slow-cooked than this is. If I find a good recipe for that style, I’ll post it later.
The amount of chile pepper to add is up to you, so experiment with spice level.
Makes: a lot
Time: about an hour
- 3 lb skinless dark meat chicken pieces
- 8 oz butter
- 3 lb onions (peeled and finely chopped)
- 6 garlic cloves (chopped and mashed)
- 3 Tbsp berbere
- 9 oz tomato puree (diced tomatoes will work fine)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Make a few cuts in each chicken piece, to allow the sauce to penetrate the chicken flesh.
- In a large pot, melt the butter and saute the chopped onions and garlic over medium heat, about 10 minutes.
- Add the 3 tablespoons Berbere spice mixture, stir through, and then add the tomato puree, sugar and salt.
- Simmer this over low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken pieces and stir well so each piece is covered with the sauce.
- Add enough water to get a sauce consistency as for thick soup.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the peeled, hard-boiled eggs (whole).
- Cover the pot, and let cook over low heat until chicken is tender. The oil tends to rise to the top when the dish is ready.
- Traditionally, the dish will be cooled down somewhat before serving.
- Sik Sik Wat – substitute cubed stewing beef for chicken.
- Zucchini Wat – substitute zucchini halved and quartered, reduce time to cook only until zucchini is soft through.
Obligatory notice about lack of info about authenticity or source because my spouse collected this recipe.
Doro wat is often spicy but adjust to your taste. My spouse defaults to chicken breast a lot, but this is fine with any part of the chicken. You can go boneless or bone in because at the end the meat should be easily pulled off the bone.
The standard recipe includes hard-boiled eggs, but I almost always leave them off because I don’t like hard-boiled eggs.