Every now and then I tend to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to blog challenges, and this week’s r/52weeksofcooking is a prime example. The theme this week was Indian which is a cuisine I’m familiar with and have done a few times in the past. However I wanted to try something different so instead of my standard tomato based curry I decided to attempt a yogurt based dish, and then go the extra step in making it vegan. I researched a variety of different dishes before finally deciding on Navratan Korma which translates to Nine Gems Curry. For my nine gems I settled on: peas, green beans, Indian Eggplant, green bell pepper, tofu (or paneer), Indian red chilies, shallots, cashews, and carrots. I debated about using cauliflower or broccoli but it’s still too early in the season for them and couldn’t find any at the local market. Needless to say this is a very (very!!!) prep-heavy dish with lots of cleaning and cutting.
I started prep work with the tofu in order to give it time to press before moving on to the eggplant, for similar reasons, and then all the remaining vegetables. To figure out the right spices I looked at a variety of online recipes before finally settling on the below combination. For a more traditional dish use paneer in place of tofu, just keep it mind it will cook a lot faster than tofu and might require additional vegetable oil in order to brown.
I served the cashews only on top of mine since I couldn’t find a bag that was marked in such a way to indicate it was 100% peanut free. This dish might have taken a while to get started but it’s incredibly quick to come together and delicious – making all the cutting worth it! I also have a feeling this dish would work well in a slow cooker and look forward to testing that theory shortly.
Note: I’m submitting this to the So Delicious Dairy Free Recipe Contest
Some recipes come together in no time flat, first or second time cooking it and things are good to go. Other recipes take a fair amount of time or even, as with today’s recipe, a couple of years. I’ve been a fan of Baba Ganoush since the first time I had it at a friend’s house. Everything about baba ganoush is perfection, the creamy texture and smooth eggplant flavor and the slight hint of something nutty. I have been trying to recreate this delicious dip ever since and it has always fallen flat – a victim of too much oil, or not enough tahini, or undercooked/overcooked eggplant. Every attempt was recorded, with notes of how to improve it as well as researching various websites and cookbooks for tips and tricks to make it better. I decided to give it another go the other week for my Downton Abbey finale, figuring there were enough apps being planned that if it did flop I had my Garlic Feta dip as a back-up. However I was FINALLY successful! The dip game out smooth and rich and delicious – no oily aftertaste, no bitterness, and no leftovers!
It might have taken a far amount of mistakes to wind up with this recipe, but it was well worth it! The best part about this dip is how you can use it as a sandwich filling assuming you have any left. I also realize this is not the traditional method, but I find that tahini paste has a strange aftertaste so I use the combintation of sesame oil and Greek yogurt to recreate the nutty taste of the paste.
Create a meal inspired by music – that was the assignment this week from /food52 and one I was perfectly comfortable with. Music has always been a big part of my life, from my dancing days to singing in the choir to singing along with the radio. Some of my earliest memories are of making up dances with sisters – complete with a doll audience and re-purposed dance costumes. Since starting my blog I have picked song titles to go along with my recipes and occasionally have decided to cook something based on hearing a certain song. For this challenge I wanted to do something BIG, something that would push me in some way while still remaining true to the challenge. So I started thinking about my favorite songs, eliminating those that had already been used, and focusing on ones that really have meaning. In the end I decided to go with a song that I first heard when I was in elementary school watching the Today show with my mom.
The 10th Anniversary cast of Les Miserables was being interviewed and while I was originally completely transfixed by Lea Salgona’s Eponine the tall, dark, and handsome (curly hair!!!) gentleman next to her was extremely distracted. During the interview he gave a quick demo of Marius’s solo and I was sold – from that point on I was a Les Miserable fanatic. While I have featured lyrics from On My Own before, which I was convinced was my “theme song” during High School, I decided to focus on the song that sold me on the musical. Marius sings “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” after realizing he is the lone survivor of his friends. I wanted to create the type of meal that might have been served in the cafe, at that table in the corner…if the guys were vegetarian.
I served this with some left over noodles and crusty bread since I didn’t want any of the sauce to escape. This might not be the most traditional ratatouille recipe out there, but it was warm, comforting, and perfect for sharing with friends.
Poached Eggplant with Spicy Korean Sauce
Time for /52weeks! This week was a real challenge, since I’ve had Korean maybe once before and had never attempted to cook it. Luckily I have a few vegetarian cookbooks that include ethnic cuisines and found a great base recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. After Googling a few of the ingredients, and trying to figure out how I could get the same general flavor without the lemon juice or peanut oil. I also debated on how to best cook the eggplant, either the poached in the original recipe or the steamed version that was suggested. In the end I decided to go poached since I have never done that before, and might as well go all new!
This sauce is amazingly versatile, when I do this again I plan to double the sauce and add some fried or baked tofu to the mix. I think it would also go well with rice or buckwheat noodles instead of the rice – just to be a little different. This challenge just proved once again that trying out new techniques and styles can be very tasty! Also, be sure to check out World Vegetarian for the recipe that inspired this dish
Minty Vegetable Tagine
I’ll admit it, when it comes to herbs I tend to use the same ones over and over and over again. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, all are frequent additions to dishes in my kitchen. However this week the theme for /52weeks was more of a secret ingredient challenge requiring me to go outside the box and use mint. Now I have used mint leaves before, most notably when recreating a Thai dish when Thai basil was MIA, but for the most part the mint in my garden is for scent and looks. Luckily I received some awesome cookbooks over the holidays and turned to those for inspiration. One of those books contained an interesting sounding recipe for a Tagine of Lamb with Vegetables in a Mint Broth, and after reading through the recipe a few times I decided to attempt a vegetarian variation. In the end I wound up with an awesome vegan tagine, that came together incredibly quick once all the cutting was done.
The end result was a very warm dish that lent just a hint of mint, nothing overpowering in the least. I served it over some giant pearl couscous, and added some of the extra mint broth to the cooking liquid of the couscous. This was my first time using my tagine, and while it does have some quirks I look forward to giving it another whirl soon.
Baked Eggplant with Lentils
There is nothing more relaxing and refreshing than the sound of rain, it just seems to make everything better. After the dry summer that most of the country has been experiencing, I can only imagine that for many the rain is a welcoming relief. I had originally been planning to spend this weekend switching out the garden and starting some fall vegetables, but Mother Nature seems to have other ideas and now I’m wondering if I’ll have a chance to plant the fall garden at all! This summer has been the craziest and busiest summer I’ve ever had, and it’s not over yet. I’m looking forward to October and the chance to rest, relax, and recover assuming that October allows for that. Until then, my kitchen will be my safe haven since it isn’t large enough to house a clock or calendar.
Since Joe and I have been traveling so much the past few weeks my trips to the grocery store have been few and far between. I have been focusing on using my pantry basics in addition to the fresh vegetables I’ve been growing. This recipe features the first of my Black Beauty Eggplants as well as some more delicious tomatoes and fresh herbs. When I started cooking I really had no idea where I was going with this recipe, which was evident by the large cast of characters I had sitting on the counters. I thought about sauting the eggplant with some basil and serving over lentils, or doing an all-eggplant stir-fry. In the end I decided to bake the eggplant and serve the lentils over them as a thick ragu style sauce. The result was a very filling and rich dinner that only needed a small salad to go with it, perfection!
This recipe comes together pretty quickly once the eggplant has been salted. For an alternate way of prepping the eggplant, press the cut slices between two plates lined with paper towels. Failure to properly pre-treat the eggplant can result in a bitter aftertaste, which is probably why more than a few people have been turned off of this amazing vegetable.
Slow Cooker Eggplant Korma
First off, not planning to go on any breaks from blogging anytime soon. However I am thinking about changing the blog titles in order to make DancingVeggies slightly easier to navigate. Currently I pick song lyrics that are bouncing around in my head, sometimes they relate to the recipe I’m featuring and sometimes they are nothing more than an ear worm. However it’s been two years (!!!) and now that I have almost 200 (!!!) recipes I want to make sure people can easily see what I’m cooking and when. This line of thought also motivated the changes to the Recipe page, adding categories and updating links. The issue with making the change as I see it relate more to existing entries, do I go back and change them so that everything “fits” or do I leave those as they are as a way of remembering where I started. What do you think? What can I do to make DancingVeggies more accessible?
Now that the business is out-of-the-way, today’s recipe is perfect for that summer garden that is going crazy. I also worked with it a bit to make it slow cooker friendly, since a hot stove top is never a welcome thing this late in July in Virginia. I have been told that as written this recipe is rather spicy, to cut back on the heat leave out the pepper or use half.
I don’t think I have repeated the vegetables from one korma to another, aside from the eggplant. Carrots, peppers, squash, tomatoes, and peas have all been tossed in this dish at one point or another and I don’t know if I have a true favorite. Generally I try to include one crunchy vegetable and one meaty item in order to give the dish dimension.