Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Notes from Minnesota

From this:

...to this...
...and back!

Happy Holidays!

Mini wreath of dried peppers on a decorated tree, MN Landscape Arboretum

Not a lutefisk or a hotdish (i.e., casserole) to be found in this post, unless you count enchiladas as a hotdish.

I've just returned from a week in Minnesota, where the previously-single-digit temperatures relented for the week I was there; instead, the world hovered in the 20s and low 30s and thus snowed like mad.

My families and I cooked a great deal, and I took a ton of photos, but there's actually not too much to report. My mom and I retried some recipes I've already posted. We learned some things: the Whole Wheat Cumin Flatbread recipe had far too much salt (it's been corrected), and Fat Mints have a far better texture when you use no turbinado sugar --as I suspected (the recipe already reflected this, but I had been using turbinado out of convenience). We remade the Asian Squash-Pear Soup with even more lime juice and delicious results. Oatmeal Coconut Spice Cookies and Apple Cranberry Pie continued to shine--we found a killer Indian market (unsweetened coconut, really cheap spices and spice blends) in a suburban strip mall next to Tires Plus!

We also developed several new recipes. Sadly, I somehow forgot to take photos of either of these! My dad also made a tasty vegan minestrone that had barley in it.

With photos forthcoming, then, I present some tastes of a not-very-traditional holiday season in Minnesota.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Pineapple Enchiladas

2 TB olive oil
1-2 yellow onions, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 large sweet potato, in bite-sized chunks or cubes
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 20-oz can pineapple chunks or tidbits (not in syrup), juice reserved
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 small can enchilada sauce (or make your own to avoid weird preservatives)
optional: salsa, avocado, chopped cilantro, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly oil a 13 x 9 baking dish.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When onion starts to brown, add jalapeno and sweet potato. Cook for several minutes and then stir in cumin, beans, and pineapple. Cook until everything is heated through.
3. For each tortilla, place a small amount of enchilada sauce, then fill with saute mixture. Roll up tortilla and place the edge side facing downwards in the baking dish. Line up all the filled tortillas in the baking dish.
4. Mix reserved pineapple juice with remaining enchilada sauce and pour over the entire dish. If you have a little remaining filling, you can throw that on top as well.
5. Bake covered with foil for 35-40 minutes, then uncover and bake 5-10 more minutes. Serve with desired toppings/condiments.


Chana Masala
This recipe was made mostly without measuring, so although the ingredients and the order are accurate, I'm just estimating on the amounts. I'd welcome feedback and suggestions on that, or on any other aspect of this recipe. I have no idea how authentic this is, but it is tasty--using so many different toasted spices gives dishes a depth that my palate is not used to.

Garam masala is a spice mixture available in South Asian groceries, or you can make your own. Storebought mixtures might actually be better, though not as fresh, in that they may contain more interesting, hard-to-find ingredients, like mace.

toasted spice mix:

3/4-in stick cinnamon

3 whole cloves

2 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or a small dried chili
2 TB olive oil
3/4-in stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
a 1-in cube ginger, minced or grated
1 20-oz can chickpeas (or prepared dry equivalent)
tomato paste as needed (about half of a small can)
water as needed
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
chopped cilantro

1. Toast spices in a toaster oven or a broiler, watching carefully (they will be done very quickly!). Remove spices and allow them to cool. Also be careful of the toasted-pepper fumes--it might make you cough. When cool, grind the spices: a coffee grinder (that isn't used for coffee) is best, but a mini food-processor or a mortar and pestle might work, too. Set ground mixture aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or rondeau over medium-high heat. Stir in cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook until the oil itself smells deliciously spicy. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook 5-10 minutes, until the onion is no longer crunchy.
3. Stir in the chickpeas. Add tomato paste and water until all the chickpeas are lightly covered with tomato, but the sauce is not very liquidy (for reference, see this photo of a different chana masala). Add garam masala and salt to taste, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15-25 minutes.
4. A few minutes before serving, stir in the toasted spice mixture. Serve with rice and top with cilantro.

1 comment:

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

The black bean, sweet potato and pineapple enchiladas sound fantastic.