Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sri Lankan Plantain Curry- Mild

 Have you ever tried a green plantain?  They look like bananas... but I think they taste more like a potato.  In Sri Lanka we have a variety of plantain that is call Ash Plantains (alu kesel) and it's used to make this savory curry that is beyond delicious. Since we do not have access to Ash Plantains in the US, we can substitute the Green Plantains for the same curry.  I tried to make this dish a little healthier by baking the plantain in preparation for the curry rather than use the traditional fried in oil method.  My mother (a traditionalist) was helping me make this dish and she was eager to see if the baking method would work out.  Well, the good news is it worked out wonderfully and we were very pleased with the results...No more frying!  This mild curry works well with any rice and curry meal.

Ingredients to prep the plantains for cooking:
4-5 large green plantains
1 tsp of turmeric
juice of 1 lime
2-3 cups of water
1 tsp of salt
 Directions to prep the plantains for cooking:
First rinse your plantain skin.  Then take a small knife and score the the plantain while following the ridges around the plantain. You must score through the tough skin but not cut the plantain itself.  Then put your thumb inside and pry the skin off.  It may take a little practice, but it will become easier.  Then slice the plantains into 1/4 inch slices and place in a bowl with the water, lime juice, salt and turmeric.  Allow to sit in the water for 10-15 minutes and then drain the liquid out of the bowl. 

Raw Plantain
Baked Plantain
Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place plantains on a oiled baking sheet and pour a little more oil over the plantains to coat both sides.  Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients for preparing the curry:
Baked plantain
1 (15oz) can of coconut milk
1 medium onion chopped
2 green chilies sliced
1 tsp of fennugreek seeds
10-15 curry leaves (optional)
5-6 pandan leaves (rampe) optional
1/4 tsp of turmeric
2tsp of curry powder
salt to taste
1 (1 inch) cinnamon stick
1 cup of water

Directions for the curry:

In a large pan, add water and all the ingredients above accept for the baked plantains and the coconut milk.  Bring to a gentle simmer until the onions soften (about 5 minutes).
Next add your baked plantains and mix well with the onions and seasoning for a few minutes. Finally add your coconut milk.  Lower the heat to medium low and gently allow the plantains to cook in the gravy.  As the plantains cook it will absorb the gravy and become tender and flavorful.   Taste for seasoning.  Once all the gravy gets absorbed your dish is done. Serve with rice and curry and enjoy.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Aloha Meatloaf - A Taste of Hawaii


Not all of us get to live on a tropical island(s) all year around. Here in the USA most of us are in the season of winter with cold days and even colder nights. We're actually having a freakishly warm winter so far, but we have had more cold days than I would like. We also still have 2 more months of winter to go so who knows how cold it will get in February.  I have never been to Hawaii, but this Aloha Meatloaf transported me there after one bite.  I love playing with the flavors of meatloaf and this time I think I'm playing for keeps.  I absolutely loved this meatloaf.  I made this as an experiment and I had no idea if I was heading for failure or success.  Well at first bite, I closed my eyes and said "Oh my goodness this is good."  If you have ever had pineapple on your pizza (which I never have) you will already love this dish.  I am a person that doesn't like to usually mix fruit with my savory food, but I am really trying to overcome that food "issue".  I've started small with fruit chutneys and now I'm putting a whole can of crushed pineapple into this meatloaf.  I really took a chance and I surprised myself how good it came out. Score one for the pineapple! So if you're one of those folks that are not a fan of winter like I am, this is a perfect meatloaf to bring some Hawaiian sunshine and tropical breezes to blow away those winter blues.

Meatloaf ingredients:
1lb lean ground pork
1lb lean ground chicken
1 (20oz) can of crushed pineapple drained well, reserve juice
seasoning salt to taste
3-4 slices of bread soaked in some milk to soften and crumbled
2-3 Tbs of ketchup
1/4 cup of diced onion
2 green chilies diced small
black pepper to taste
I clove of grated garlic
1 Tbs of honey or brown sugar
1 egg
red chili flakes (to taste)

Reserved pineapple juice from can
2 Tbs of brown sugar
1 Tbs of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of sweet chili sauce (like mae ploy egg roll sauce)
2tsp of cornstarch

Drain your pineapple over a bowl. Squeeze out all the liquid from crushed pineapple. Reserve the pineapple juice for the sauce.  Then mix all meatloaf ingredients together and form a meatloaf. You can free form it here like I did or put it into a loaf pan.  I don't like to use a loaf pan because the meat tends to sit int the juices while cooking. Plus when you free form a loaf you get more surface area to glaze. If you free form a loaf on a baking sheet, first put down a sheet of tin foil so you have easy clean up.

 Mix all your sauce ingredients together.  Then put  into a small pan and simmer until thick and forms a glaze.

 Bake meatloaf in the a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour.  Baste with some of the glaze every 20 minutes.
When the meatloaf is done, allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy with your favorite meatloaf sides like mash potatoes and steamed vegetables. 

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Italian Escarole, Bean and Meatball Soup

I watch a lot of cooking shows because I love to keep learning as much as I can about cooking and ingredients. One ingredient (of many) that I have seen and never tried was escarole.  Escarole is a leafy green that is related to the Endive family and works great in soups.  So when I saw a beautiful bunch of escarole at my gocery store I knew I had to take my chance to try it out and use it in a soup.  This is an Italian style soup that I rounded out with some cannelleni beans and ground chicken meatballs.  I made this for lunch on a cold winter's day and it made a perfectly satisfying meal for the veggie and meat lovers. Throw in some crusty bread and you have a meal that would make anyone happy.

For the meatballs:
1lb ground chicken
2 slices of bread soaked in 1/4 cup of milk and crumbled
1tsp dried basil
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried parsley
red chili flakes (to taste)
seasoning salt to taste
2 cloves of grated garlic
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Directions for meatballs:
Mix all ingredients together and make your favorite size meatballs. Heat 2Tbs of canola oil in your soup pot on medium high heat and brown the outside of the meatballs until golden brown. Then remove the meatballs from the pan to start making the soup.

Ingredients to make the soup:
1 leek(optional)
1 medium onion
1tsp dried basil
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried parsley
red chili flakes to taste
seasoning salt to taste
3 cloves of grated garlic
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
4 cups of water
4 cups of chicken stock
1lb of chopped escarole
1 (15oz) can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans

In the oil leftover from browning the meatballs, add your chopped onions and leeks.   Saute for a few minutes. Then add your chili flakes and garlic and saute for another minute.

Next add dried basil, oregano and seasoning salt and saute for 30 seconds.  Then add the chicken stock and water.  Bring soup to a boil.

Add your chopped escarole and the cannellini beans and browned meatballs. Boil for 5 minutes and allow the meatballs to finish cooking.  When they are floating in the pot, they are cooked.
In the last few minutes of cooking and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Stir well and taste for seasoning. If you soup is saltier than you like, because of the Parmesan, add a little more water.   Serve hot and Enjoy. You can also serve it with bread, over rice or pasta.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

I am definitely trying to incorporate more fish into my diet these days.  I recently bought some tilapia and knew I had to make this savory fish curry from a recipe my mother gave me.  This is actually a recipe-redo.  I posted this recipe a while ago when my blog was relatively new, but it got lost in the shuffle.  So since I was already cooking this dish today, I thought it would be a good idea to post it again and give some better pictures to go along with it.   It turned out so flavorful and delicious and my husband said that he could eat it all the time (so could I). This is one fish curry recipe that I will make again and again.

1lb of firm white flaky fish (tilapia, cod etc)
1 medium onion sliced or chopped
1-2 chili peppers sliced.  I used fresno chili peppers here, but you can use jalapeno or serrano as well.
5-6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 inches of ginger finely chopped or grated
1 stalk of lemongrass (pounded) -optional
handful of curry leaves -optional (substitute bay leaf)
2 Tbs of lemon juice
1 Tbs of red chili powder -or to taste
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of fenugreek seeds
1 2 inch stick of cinnamon
salt to taste
1/2 or 1 cup of water
1 cup of coconut milk

Cut fish into 3-4 inch pieces.  Add all the ingredients to the pan (accept the coconut milk) and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat.   You will see more liquid form in the pan from the fish as it cooks.

Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.  Stir occasionally, but very gently.  You don't want the fish to break up.

Add half a can of coconut milk (about 7 oz).  Stir gently.   Taste for salt here.  Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Serves 4 people.  Eat with rice, chapati, naan, roti and  other curries.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grasshopper Fudge Mint Cookies

I love savory food, but I am also a big believer that you must cleanse your palate after a savory meal with something sweet and maybe even minty like a Creme de Menthe Chocolate.  These easy little grasshopper fudge mint cookies provide the perfect little hit of sweet and minty in a cookie.  If you are curious about the name "grasshopper" in this dessert, I'm not exactly sure where it comes from other than the fact that mint is green and so are grasshoppers.  There is a popular after dinner mint drink called the grasshopper and many mint ice creams, cake and pie desserts that also share the name.  Even the Keebler Elves have created their own grasshopper fudge cookie based on the great combination of chocolate and mint.   So of course I had to throw my own quick and simple spin on this combination after seeing a package of  Creme de Menthe Chocolate chips at my grocery store. These cookies are fun and refreshing.  They take less than 20 minutes to make (including bake time) and you too can have a stash of after dinner mint cookies to enjoy too.

1 box of Devil's Food Cake Mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup of canola oil
1 cup of mint chips 


Use an electric mixer to mix the cake mix with the eggs and oil.  Then add your mint chips and incorporate well. 

 Roll into walnut size dough balls and line on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  All cookies to cool completely on the cookie sheet to finish setting up.  Store in an airtight container.

 Enjoy.  Makes about 18 cookies.


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.