Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Borscht with Lamb

We've had a bunch of beets languishing in our refrigerator for about a month now and, while they keep very well, I decided it was time to do something with them so I combined a couple of recipes and came up with this slightly Indian version of borscht if there can be such a thing.

olive oil
2 pounds roasted beets, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound lamb stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 quarts beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 head cabbage, cored and shredded
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 pint sour cream
chopped dill

Heat oven to 350. Trim beet tops to 1/2 inch, wash, and clip root. Rub with olive oil. Mix coriander, cumin, cloves, turmeric, salt, and pepper and rub mixture onto beets. Place in roasting dish in single layer and cook, stirring once or twice, for 1 1/2 hours. Remove when skins are wrinkled and beets are easy to pierce with a fork. Allow to cool, then cut off top and root, peel away papery skin (it's okay if you don't peel it all off), and dice.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stockpot until very hot. Add the cubed lamb, and sear until well browned. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender and translucent, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the beef broth, vinegar, and lemon juice; add the cabbage, tomatoes, diced beets, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lamb is tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish the soup bowls with a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of dill after ladling in the soup.

I was actually surprised at how well this turned out - I guess I had in my mind that borscht would be tricky to make. I served it with dilled cornbread and two of my kids really liked it... let me tell you, two out of three ain't bad!

Tomato and Egg Curry

I got the idea for this delicious dish from our budget minded friends at Fun Foods and of course couldn't resist adding a few tweaks of my own. I wish I had remembered to take a picture earlier since our dinner plates looked much yummier than this tupperware that I put together for my hubby's lunch.
This is one of those recipes that relies on your tastebuds rather than measurements, but I'll try to approximate what I used.
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can cannelini beans
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp Indian curry
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric

hard boiled eggs
brown rice

Combine tomatoes, beans, cornstarch and spices in saucepan over medium heat. Adjust spices to suit your tastes. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve over brown rice and sprinkle chopped hard-boiled egg over the top.

Once my kids got the first bite of this in their mouths (always something of a challenge), they thought it was great as well. My daughter cleaned her plate while my son couldn't "get past the tomatoes" at first. My brother also sauteed some yummy broccoli greens with ginger and sesame oil to serve alongside and it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to the flavor of the curry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Triple Ginger Cookies and Gingerbread

I've been on a bit of a ginger kick lately - sparked partially by the presence of my brother who is, by his own admission, a ginger addict. However, at this time of year, I don't see how anyone can turn away the spicy warmth of ginger. Anything that can warm you from the inside when it's chilly out is a good thing in my book (turmeric and cinnamon are another great warming combo in this recipe). So this weekend I pulled out the lovely spice and made cookies and bread.First up, these Triple Ginger Cookies from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. These delicious cookies use three different kinds of ginger - powdered, crystallized, and fresh. The crystallized ginger is a bit labor intensive as you want to get a really fine mince, so enlist the ginger addict in your house to to that for you - but keep an eye on them so they don't eat too much as they're chopping! We tried several different sizes of these cookies and the best by far were the 1/2 Tbsp size that Heidi talks about in the recipe. They cook up nicely without being too soft in the middle. I used a small cookie scoop and pulled the resulting scoop in two before rolling in the sugar. For the finishing sugar, I used turbinado sugar (or raw sugar) - the crystals aren't too big and the brown color caramelizes nicely on the cookie.

Next, I pulled out my trusty Pillsbury cookbook and made the gingerbread according to the recipe, with one addition - 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper. It seems to make all the spices just a little more potent and helps emphasize the lemon flavor in the glaze. I should also add that if you are going to go to the trouble of making ginger cookies or gingerbread, you should never use a recipe that calls for less than 4 tsp. of ginger - they will disappoint every time!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cauliflower Soup

Photo courtesy of

In my continuing quest to find ways to enjoy foods that I previously avoided, I found this recipe for Cauliflower Soup posted by my friend the Pioneer Woman. And since I've pretty much enjoyed every recipe of hers that I've tried so far, I decided I would put it to the test.... and I was not disappointed! This soup was creamy deliciousness and I loved every bite! And when I say creamy, I mean CREAMY - we're talking whole milk, half-and-half, and sour cream creaminess. I'm sure you could substitute low-fat versions but I definitely think it would detract from the overall deliciousness that is this soup.

Everyone in our house thought it was great - even the kids! In fact, this would be perfect for a toddler just getting used to textures because the chunks of vegetables are so tender that they just fall apart in your mouth. Really, a very lovely dish.