Tamarind from pod to paste

I'm telling you straight up, tamarind "goo" is not photographic in the least. 

How I got from here

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to here in a few, almost painless steps. 

This was my first time doing this so I'm far from experienced but I did learn a thing or two. Let's look at the pods. I did learn that the "puffier" the pods the easier the shell comes off, and the darker the pod, the older it is, and will more likely have the shell stick to the pulp, which will be a bear to pick off little piece by little piece. So, light color and puffy get it, light color and not puffy pass, dark color fuggedaboutit!

See those light spots on the peeled pods, that's some of the shell that I couldn't get off the pulp. In the long run, it didn't really matter because it got caught up in the sieve anyway.  Just make sure you get most of the shell and hard stringy veins. 

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I think I had about 9 or 10  pods. 

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For every ounce of tamarind pods, you'll need an equal amount of hot water to soak them in. They should soak for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Now the real fun begins, get your hand in the bowl and smoosh and massage the pods to help separate the beans from the pulp,

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Then dump all the contents of the bowl into a sieve placed over a bowl and continue smooshing and pressing it through the sieve. 

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You'll need to occasionally scrape the pulp off the bottom of the sieve. 

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Then you'll end up with a nice thick paste ready for your next culinary adventure. 

This will keep for 3 to 4 weeks well covered in the refrigerator or the freezer for months. 

Now I'm off to find some recipes using tamarind. I've seen a few that look promising. 

And that's that!


Spanakopita Grilled Cheese

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Golden toasted whole grain bread filled with cheesy herby spinach. Served with fresh cucumbers and/or salad for a great meal. 

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My happy corner of the kitchen and herb source. I used Thai basil, dill, Italian basil, and mint for the spinach mixture. 

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You'll need feta cheese, spinach, scallions, nutmeg, and herbs. I had fresh mozzarella cheese so I added some of that to the feta,   
The sandwich will hold together better if you use a good sourdough or multigrain bread. 

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After sautéing the onions, throw in the spinach, just long enough to wilt it. 

After draining the spinach chop it up and the herbs. 

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Then mix up the herbs, spinach, and cheese then season with some salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 

Load up the bread with the spinach mixture. I sprayed the bread with olive oil first, 

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then grilled the sandwich in a cast-iron skillet until golden brown, cover it with a lid to help the cheese melt. 

The next time I make this sandwich I plan on adding some garlic to the spinach mixture and some prosciutto.

I hope you make it, it's yummy. 

Spanakopita Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • SPANAKOPITA GRILLED CHEESE

    4 sandwiches

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil or unsalted butter, plus more as needed

    1 large onion

    4 scallions, or 1 leek, chopped (and washed well, if using leek)

    8 cups (160 g) chopped fresh spinach

    1 cup (50 g) mixed chopped fresh dill, parsley, and/or fennel fronds

    Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 cups (300 g) large chunks Greek feta

    8 (¼-inch-thick / 6 mm) slices good bread, preferably sourdough

    In a large skillet, heat 1½ tablespoons of olive oil or butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove the mixture with a slotted spoon and drain well in a colander. Let cool.

    Combine the spinach mixture with the fresh herbs. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the feta.

    Divide the mixture over 4 slices of the bread. Place the remaining 4 slices of bread on top.

    In a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons olive oil or butter (or use both together over medium heat). Add the sandwiches, one or two at a time, and cook until golden on one side. Flip carefully and press down on the sandwich with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cover the pan and cook for a few minutes to help the feta melt more easily. Repeat with remaining sandwiches, adding more olive oil and/or butter to the pan as needed. Serve immediately.

    My Greek Table: Diane Kochilas

 

And that's that!


Pan Seared Tofu Teriyaki

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Soy, now what!

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Crispy and a bit sweet, tofu planks are seared then baked with a "Terrific Teriyaki Glaze" and served with buttered edamame. 
It didn't hit me until now that other than the tossed green salad it's an all soy meal. 

First things first. Slice the tofu into planks and wrap the planks between several layers of paper towels. Put a heavy weight on top of the planks and let the planks drain for at least 10 minutes. I'm trying to reduce my use of disposable products so I used a kitchen towel instead of paper towels and put a cast iron skillet on top. Worked a treat. 

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While the tofu is draining, make the "Terrific Teriyaki Sauce," believe me, it is terrific and so simple. 
All you need is some soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, dark brown sugar, garlic, and ginger, sesame seeds optional. Sooo good. 

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In a skillet sear the tofu until golden brown. 

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Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with a few tablespoons of the glaze.  

Add the tofu planks and spoon on some glaze, and bake until golden and bubbly. 

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I used the Ninja Foodi on the bake function set to 390*, I first checked it after 5 minutes, then every few minutes after that. All you need to do is get the tofu a bit hotter and the glaze gooey and sticky. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Pan-Seared Tofu Teriyaki

Ingredients

  • Two 12- to 14-ounce packages extra firm organic tofu, drained

    1 tablespoon canola oil

    3/4 cup Terrific Teriyaki Glaze (recipe below) or your favorite store-bought)

    Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF.

    Slice the tofu blocks in half horizontally to make them half as thick, then vertically, to make 4 equal-size rectangular tofu steaks from each package, for a total of 8. Place the tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels on either a plate or cutting board. Cover with more paper towels, place a plate or another cutting board on top, and rest a weight, such as a small skillet, on top of that. This will press the excess liquid from the tofu. Let the steaks drain for at least 10 minutes.

    In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Pat the tofu steaks dry and place them in the pan. Cook undisturbed until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat.

    In a casserole or baking pan large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer, spread just enough teriyaki glaze to lightly coat the bottom (2 to 3 tablespoons). Lay the tofu steaks on top and spoon on the remaining teriyaki glaze, coating them completely. Bake until browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

    terrific teriyaki glaze

    makes 3/4 cup

    1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

    1 teaspoon cornstarch

    1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

    2 tablespoons mirin

    2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

    1 teaspoon minced garlic

    1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

    1 teaspoon sesame oil

    If using sesame seeds, cook them in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until they begin to darken and give off a toasty aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a small plate and set aside.

    In a small mixing bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of warm water. Set aside.

    In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and 1/3 cup of water. Place over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the sauce comes to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the dissolved cornstarch. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the sesame oil and the sesame seeds, if desired.

    Use with your favorite teriyaki recipe. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

    The Pollan Family Table Cookbook

 

And that's that!


Bean Salad

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Delicious, and nutritious too.

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I threw this salad together at the last minute not thinking of blogging it, but I got a lot of requests for the recipe so here we are.

The salad was inspired by a recipe I ran across in the cookbook Bean by Bean which I will post down below. 

So, here's what I did, I used what I had on hand. 
The beans used were canned garbanzo, canned dark red kidney, and home-cooked pintos.
I added some diced red and yellow bell pepper that had been sautéed in olive oil and garlic the night before, and about 1/4 of red onion, very thinly sliced, and 3 scallions thinly sliced, and of course, the celery and dressing the recipe calls for.
I didn't add all the dressing because I didn't have the green beans and wax beans the recipe calls for and I was afraid it would be a bit much, so I added it bit by bit and tasted it as I went along until I was happy. 

Next time I make it, I'm going to make sure I have the green and wax beans because the salad would be even awesome-er 

Almost Classic Five-Bean Salad

 

¼ pound green beans, tipped, tailed, cooked tender-crisp and cut into 1-inch lengths

¼ pound yellow wax beans, tipped, tailed, cooked tender-crisp, and cut into 1-inch lengths

1½ cups (one 15-ounce can) tender-cooked black beans, very well drained

1½ cups (one 15-ounce can) tender-cooked chickpeas, very well drained

1½ cups (one 15-ounce can) tender-cooked kidney beans, very well drained

1 red onion, sliced paper thin

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 recipe Mariam’s Sweet-and-Sour Dressing (recipe follows)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans and veggies in a large bowl, add the dressing, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 2 days. Serve with a slotted spoon to drain off the dressing. Pretty durned simple, yes? Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish or 8 to 10 as a buffet item

Mariam’s Sweet-and-Sour Dressing Still plenty sweet but way less so than some of the traditional bean salad dressings, this is from Mariam, an old friend of my mother’s. For extra sprightliness, replace the vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon juice, or go east with rice wine vinegar and a little grated fresh ginger.  

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup any mild vegetable oil, such as corn, canola, or peanut

1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard (preferably American-style “ballpark,” not Dijon)

1½ teaspoons salt

1½ teaspoons celery seed

Combine the brown sugar and vinegar in a 1-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Shake again; the sugar should dissolve into the vinegar. Add the remaining ingredients, shake well again, and serve over mixed beans. Makes about 2½ cups

Note:

This is a freshened-up version of the well-known multibean salad with its very sweet dressing. I can live with canned dried beans, but not canned green or yellow beans; hence I cook those up nice and fresh for this one

Bean by Bean Cookbook

And that's that!


Brie with Green Chili Soup

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Creamy Brie with a bit of spice, what more could you want in a soup.

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 If it says green chile, it's for me. 
You can amp up the spice level by using a combination of mild and hot chiles. Make it how you like it. 

This is a really quick and easy recipe. You will need, 

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Brie Cheese, butter, green chiles, onion, celery, flour, chicken broth, and half-and-half. 

I lightly scraped the white powder off the rind of the cheese but left the rind on. The rind will not totally melt into the soup. I don't think that really matters because the cheese is cut into small dice and you won't have big chunks of rind floating around in the soup. I didn't mind the rind in the soup because you get nice little bursts of extra cheesy flavor.

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Mise en place, let's rock and roll. 

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In a large saucepan, add the butter the onion, and celery, sauté until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute more.  

Add in the broth and cream whisking until combined. Whisk in the brie until melted, then add the chiles, 

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Then salt and pepper to taste. 

I've had the Himilayan salt cubes for a long time and just now started using them. I_really_like the grater that came with the cubes, it's super sharp and the back is solid so all the salt stays on the grater until you dump it out, so much easier to keep track of just how much salt you are using. 
I know, I'm easily amused. 

I'm sure any melting cheese would be good in this soup, but I think the Brie really makes it special. 

From such a simple recipe you get such an awesome soup. Yes, the juice was worth the squeeze. 

Brie with Green Chile Soup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup chopped onion

    1/2 cup chopped celery

    4 Tbsp butter

    2 Tbsp flour

    1 pint (16 ounces) half-and-half

    1 16 ounce can chicken broth

    1/2 pound Brie cheese cut into small pieces

    1 cup roasted, peeled, and chopped fresh green chiles or 2 4-oz cans green chiles chopped

    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Sauté onion and celery in butter in large saucepan. Stir in flour. Using a whisk, slowly add half-and-half and chicken broth. Stir constantly until blended. Add Brie and whisk until melted. Add chiles, salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve hot.

    Rosalea Murphy, The Pink Adobe Restaurant, Santa Fe, NM

 

And that's that!