Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mentor Cooks & No Recipe

It's no secret that high up on my "Favorite Chefs" list are those who share simple, easy to make yet spectacular to serve dishes.  Chef Michael Smith's catch line for his FoodTV show Chef at Home is "My secret recipe is cooking without a recipe.".  I love the show and his book The Best of Chef at Home , which frequently finds its way to my counter. A little birdie tells me that he has a new book out called Chef Michael Smith's Kitchen.Then there's Jamie Oliver, who takes "easy peasy" to a whole new level in his FoodTV show Jamie's Meals in Minutes . His accent is so much cuter than Rachel Ray... but I digress.  Bal Arneson is another of my favorite cookbook authors and TV chefs.  I have two of her books Everyday Indian and Bal's Quick and Healthy Indian that I've talked about HERE and HERE  and I love watching Spice Goddess.

All that to introduce last night's dinner, where the best of my three mentor chefs aligned to help me create our Indian feast... another meatless meal.  What is the world coming to when my Honey and I, devout carnivores are eating three meatless dinners in a row!   But yesterday afternoon, I took a break and watched the tail end of an episode of Chef At Home... I really don't even remember what he was cooking.  It just was his way that always inspires me to get creative in the kitchen.   Then I watched Jamie creating a curry dinner with cauliflower and butternut squash that had me drooling and got me thinking.   Off to the bookshelf for a glance through Bal's cookbooks and I came up with this....my version of cooking without actual recipes... just lots of loving guidance and inspiration.

Turmeric & clove Brown Rice - tip from Bal & Jamie - place rice in a pot; place a finger lightly on top of the rice; pour water in gently until the water reaches the first digit.  Tip from Jamie - sprinkle a little turmeric, add a few cloves and a drizzle of oil.  Do not stir.  Bring to a boil,  Lover heat & cover.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes (depending if you use white or brown, which takes longer).  About 5 minutes before it should be done, use the handle of a wooden spoon to give a gentle stir, taste to see if the rice is cooked (nothing like mushy rice), if it is set aside, otherwise continue to cook for the full time.  All the water should have been absorbed.

Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Curry - my own creation based on ideas from all three chefs.   In a large skillet, saute 1 chopped onion and a grated 1" piece of peeled fresh ginger in some olive oil.  Let it soften and add some of your favorite curry paste NOT SAUCE,  I had Rogan Josh (Tomato & Paprika)and Jalfrezi (sweet peppers & coconut) curry pastes in the fridge so I let my nose direct me.   Jalfrezi won out this time.  I added half the jar (about 1/2 cup) and added it to the onions.  Once the fragrance filled the kitchen, I added chunks of peeled, sweet potato and cauliflower.  (I was going to add some Swiss Chard, but completely forgot to at this point... oh well, next time.)  and some water, gave it a toss put the cover on and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  Then, when the sweet potatoes were mostly tender, I added a little more Jalfrezi and a heaping dollop of yoghurt to make a creamy sauce, adding a little more water ( I like mine saucy to pour over the rice).  Heated it up, tossed in a huge handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves, and done!

I served it with some Bedekar Mango Pickles (my Honey's favorite) and nan bread (store bought and zapped in the microwave to heat & soften) for a perfect dinner.

And I have another meal to serve up on Hey What's For Dinner, Mom? Meatless Monday link up.

Don't worry my fellow carnivores... tonight's dinner an awesome flank steak from my favorite butchers Getaway Farm who produce some wonderful grass fed beef.  The marinade a Chilean Pebre Sauce, so do come back tomorrow for the recipe.

What's your favorite "no recipe" recipe?


Joanne said...

You know what's really going on here? I'm rubbing off on you :P

I love the sound of that curry!

Ruth Daniels said...

I'm sure that eating at your place would have me a total vegetarian in no time. That said... we did have flank steak for supper ;-D last night.