I can't believe that I spent almost all of Friday cooking in my pajamas! I must get my act together. I remember I used to work full time and also cook, now I have this little part time gig and I can barely plan a weekday meal. Parenthood can take it out of you. I know that if I had planned ahead more, I would have had to work a lot less.
These were the menus I planned this week:
red lentil soup (Claudia Roden's infinitely adaptable recipe)
cauliflower and tempeh coconut milk curry (loosely based on a Lorna Sass recipe)
fenugreek sprouts and potatoes curry (based on a Julie Sahni recipe from
Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking)
pineapple fried rice (from Real Vegetarian Thai--really good and easy)
Black bean chili (?) in the crock pot
corn bread muffins
leftovers from Friday night
cucumber salad with sushi dressing from Moosewood New Classics
The lentil soup was really good as always, and even better, I just found the recipe posted on the web by this neat peacenik blogger. So now I am even happier that I made it. Sharing a recipe is almost as good as having someone at your table. I hope that somehow the happy sighing of my sweet guests over the good honest soup at my table will mingle with similar sighs of contentment over at Leila's house.
The problem with cooking "ethnic" food is that it's basically any food that is not from one's own culture. Which means that you have work really hard to get familiar enough to improvise. I am not familiar enough with many Thai and Indonesian ingredients to improvise. For example, lemongrass--I have no idea how to use it correctly. I think from now on, instead of buying fresh lemongrass, I'm going to get bags of lemongrass tea. This time, I was going to use a recipe from Lorna Sass' New Soy Cookbook for tempeh with lemongrass and coconut milk. I didn't have quite enough coconut milk, I thought abstractedly as I chopped the fresh lemongrass into tiny pieces. Then I reread the recipe--uh oh. Didn't I do this once before? You are supposed to put the lemongrass in with other vegetables, and then remove it from the stew before serving. No way I could remove these tiny pieces! So I soaked the lemongrass in boiling water, and then poured off the resulting tea, and then soaked coconut in that, and then removed it, squeezing out the coconut.
So much for the easy recipe I was going to follow to the letter. Anyway, I didn't have the vegetables she called for either, except for the leeks. So then I boiled some cauliflower in water seasoned with turmeric, salt and ginger, and added it to the tempeh with some carrots and frozen organic greenbeans. I also thickened the sauce with cornstarch. It was really an entirely different recipe--bright yellow and really pretty.
The fenugreek sprouts dish calls for fenugreek greens and tiny new potatoes, and butter. I figured sprouts that had greened would have the same bitter flavor as the greens, cut up old winter potatoes would be similar if not the same, and ghee would work instead of butter. All true, but it was definitely not the same dish. I really like the way the sweetness of the potatoes emerges in the bitter greens, butter and black pepper sauce.
(If you want to sprout fenugreek seeds, you can follow the directions here. I let mine green up instead of leaving them small and sweet, since I wanted them for this recipe. This company sells sprouting devices, including the really simple one I have--a perforated plastic lid for a wide-mouth canning jar. I didn't buy mine from them, I got them some 15 years ago at the local food co-op.)
The pineapple rice was also good.
For Saturday lunch I made black bean soup again. It was really improvised, but to give you a feel for it, I soaked and pre-cooked 2 cups of black turtle beans, fried an onion and some garlic in the olive oil from the bottom of the dried tomato jar, and threw it all together with chopped up bits of canned and dried tomato, chipotles in adobo, and salt. I realized that with my crockpot, presoaking and even pre-cooking the beans can really help. We finished the soup before Shabbat ended.
My husband and the baby went out and bought frozen dessert and cookies before Shabbos. He thinks it's not a Shabbat meal without dessert. I am afraid the baby is getting his sweet tooth, but he doesn't really get the concept of cookies. He just demands cold cereal. I really think I need to reconsider my ideas about menu planning!