Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the easiest, best thing you will ever make

Pin It Now!

Dear, dear readers...I must apologize. I've been holding out on you. You see, there is a recipe that I came up with by happenstance a couple of years ago and I've been making it regularly ever since (and you know it's good, because me actually making something on a regular basis is in itself an irregularity).

This recipe is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as salt and pepper pasta. This is a recipe that is so stupidly easy and simple, so fast to throw together, can make totally varied quantities depending on your needs and is basically just perfect for a working/busy family. It's not the prettiest thing I've ever made, but if you pair it with a salad, you have a healthy, balanced meal that will totally blow your mind.

If, of course, you like Indian food. If you hate curry, well, read no further...this is yummy, but not likely to convert an avowed curry hater.

Everyone else will love it though, and you can pat yourself on the back, because it's just so stupidly easy that you won't mind making it over and over again.

In this particular instance, I was making a triple batch, but I'm going to give you the quantities for a single batch instead...though the leftovers are so yummy, you may want to double or triple it.

Crockpot Beef Chickpea Curry

1-1.5 lb beef (I usually buy a super cheap roast and cut it myself - it's cheaper and less fatty than pre-cut stewing beef. Also, I find the stores have stewing beef in such enormous chunks that they are more suited to giants than people) - in this particular instance, I used a big ole rump roast:
Apparently, 1.7 kg makes about 2L of beef...hmmm
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-1.5 c beef broth
curry paste to taste (I use Patak's curry paste, usually either hot or vindaloo...but there are many other types...use about 1/4 cup for a flavourful curry)

1 cup peas
1/4 c chopped cilantro

1 cup low-fat plain yogourt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1/4 c chopped cilantro
zest and juice of 1 lime


1. In the morning, throw the beef, chickpeas, broth and curry paste in the crockpot (these proportions are best-suited to a 2-3 qt triple batch was perfect in a 6 qt pot). Turn the crockpot to low and go about your life for the rest of the day. I've even put the beef in frozen and it still tastes good. You want the liquid to not cover your ingredients, but ALMOST to cover them, so add a little more if you're short. BTW, life is easiest if you combine the broth with the curry paste, and THEN add the beef/chickpeas.

2. When you get home (or about 20 minutes before dinner), throw the whole curry into a large skillet and turn the stove to medium-high. Add the peas (use frozen peas, don't bother thawing). You want to get the liquid to evaporate to make an almost-dry curry. You could simply drain it off, but having it evaporate concentrates the flavours a lot more. It's much tastier.

3. Meanwhile, combine the yogourt, garlic, cilantro and lime in a small bowl. If it's not a saucey consistency, add a little milk to thin it out. Heat up your naan/pita in the oven at 350F for about 5 minutes (wrap them in foil).

4. By the time you've finished the sauce, your curry is probably close to ready. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro.

5. To serve, you can try to eat it like a wrap (which is delicious, but generally messy), or make a curry 'pizza' on your plate and drizzle with sauce. Maybe not the prettiest thing ever, but it's SO GOOD.


I absolutely love making this. You could make it vegetarian/vegan by omitting the beef/broth (duh) and either adding more chickpeas, or some paneer (though not for the crockpotting portion of the day), or some spinach. The recipe is just a guide, but anyone with a crockpot should make this. Even if you don't have a crockpot, it would fare very well in a cast iron (or other) dutch oven in the oven for a few hours. The key is cheap, non-fatty beef and a long cooking time to soften it up. If you make this, you will like it, guaranteed. Hubs has been after me for weeks to post this recipe, so I hope you enjoy! Also, the reason there are no peas in this particular iteration is that it was hubs' job to add them and he neglected to do so. It's good with or without peas, but it's always good to add more veggies.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 05, 2009

to say that life has been busy...

Pin It Now!

...for the past few weeks would actually be an understatement.

I've got two guest rooms and they've both been occupied more often than not in the last little bit...which is why you haven't heard anything from me.

Between that and Lil Z, life has kept me hopping.

So um...first things first, merry Christmas from Lil Z and I:

I will update about the big potluck party a bit later (it was awesome) as well as all about Christmas dinner...because in the meantime, I have a few more resolution-worthy recipes to share.

As I've mentioned before, I don't run ads on this blog - first, I'm way too incompetent to figure it all out in HTML (I'm a click and hope kind of gal, when it comes to website coding), second, I steal too many recipes and don't want people to think I'm making money off their creativity, and last, the piddly income I would get from ads would probably only serve to screw up my taxes, make me hire an accountant and essentially negate any financial benefit.

Plus, ads are annoying.

BUT, that said, blogging will occasionally have its perks, and sometimes, I do get the odd freebie in the mail.

Lately, I've received a couple of cookbooks and while I will not mindlessly whore my name out to enrich others, I am pretty happy with some of the recipes I've sampled. This particular cookbook seems fitting for this time of year, given that most of us are probably resolving to eat healthier (BAHAHAHA!), eat out less and all that jazz, I think it's worth considering.

Whole Grains for Busy People, written by Lorna Sass is pretty much exactly what the title describes - quick recipes using whole grains. I'll admit I actually found the book a little off-putting at first...almost TOO healthy looking. I guess I like people to make food appealing by extolling its TASTE virtues, not so much the health virtues. I go for taste, first and foremost, with health being a very good side benefit...kwim? Anyway, Sass, who is pretty much THE person for whole grains, does a good job of explaining a few of the less common grains (farro, millet, etc.) and I'm most definitely looking forward to trying a few more recipes (like squash bisque topped with curried popcorn, or oat-crusted turkey cutlets....she also has recipes coating meat in ground-up popcorn, which sounds intriguing).

The recipes I tried are actually on facing pages, using my latest most fave ingredient - quinoa. Can I tell you how much I love this stuff? It's got a nice chewiness, doesn't taste obnoxiously-in-your-face-good-for-you and just goes so well in so many different things.

I modified the recipes lightly due to ingredient availability (and, let's face it, proximity, as I was too lazy to brave the cold to grocery shop), and because I like bolder, stronger seasonings.

These recipes are relatively quick, though they do require a higher than average amount of attention (i.e., lots of do this, wait 3 minutes, then do this, etc.).

Here are two yummy sample recipes for ya:

Provençal Salmon Stew with Quinoa
from Whole Grains for Busy People
Serves 4 (generously)
My modifications are in parentheses

1 T olive oil
1 c. diced onion
3/4 t thyme *I thought using only thyme would be a bit plain, so added some other typical provençal herbs
(1/4 t lavender)
(1/4 t marjoram)
(1/2 t basil)
(1/2 t rosemary)
1/2 t minced garlic (I used 3 cloves)
1/2 t anchovy paste
1/2 c dry white wine or vermouth (I used vermouth, to keep me from opening and drinking the bottle of white wine, hehe)
2 bottles (13 ounces each) clam juice (here, I subbed 900mL chicken broth as I had no CJ on hand)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1/4 c small black olives (I omitted - not a big fan and didn't have any anyway)
1 pound boneless, skinless salmon fillets, cut into 1 inch chunks - I used one of my fave christmas prezzies to cut this bad boy up....
3 T fresh parsley (omitted because I didn't have any)
grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. In a heavy 12-inch sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, thyme (and other spices, if using), garlic and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the anchovy paste and cook 30 seconds more. You can actually see the lavender and other spices here:

2. Stir in the wine/vermouth and cook until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice (or broth) and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, cover, and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and olives. Return to a boil. Cover and continue cooking until the quinoa is almost done, about 5 minutes longer (if the quinoa has a substantial white dot of starch in the centre, continue cooking until the dot is tiny).

4. Add a little water if the mixture is no longer loose and soupy. Gently stir in the salmon. Cover and cook over medium heat until the salmon is cooked through to the centre and the quinoa is tender, 2-3 minutes.

5. Gently stir in the parsley, lemon zest and juice and season (salt/pepper) to taste, if needed.

Both hubs and I really enjoyed this stew. Sure, I made some changes, but it's a very nice, fresh, healthy tasting something you might find in a health spa. I noticed, actually, that hubs enjoyed it so much he also ate it for brekkie. Fish for brekkie should tell you something about how tasty this is. Two thumbs up.

Now, on the facing page to the salmon quinoa recipe was another quinoa stew recipe. And while I was making last night's dinner, I couldn't help but read through this other stew recipe and think...hmmm...I freaking love quinoa and I think I have all/most of the ingredients for this. SOLD.

So here's another one for you. I followed the recipe for the most part, but I added a LOT more spices, due to personal preference. I suspect the original might have been a little timid in flavour. Not so much mine.

Southwestern Quinoa Stew with Squash, Black Beans and Corn
serves 4-6
stolen from Whole Grains for Busy People
(again, my mods are in parentheses)

1 T olive oil
2 t minced dried onion (wtf is this? I used 1 small whole regular onion)
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t granulated garlic (again, wtf....I used 3 cloves of regular garlic)
1 container low-sodium chicken/veggie broth
(1 T chili powder, 1 t cumin, dash cinnamon, 1/2 T cocoa powder)
1 cup quinoa
1 t chipotle in adobo, minced (didn't have any - subbed 1 T chipotle hot sauce, and then oomphed it with a few dashes of sri racha)
1 10-oz package frozen cooked squash
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/3 c fire-roasted red peppers (ummmm....witness what happened to my peppers...EW. I may have cured cancer here, but I opted to toss that jar and just use a fresh green pepper along with the onion....GROSS)
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
pepper to taste
(crumbled aged cheddar)

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, oregano and garlic, cook for 10 seconds (because I used fresh onion, garlic and added a green pepper, I actually cooked for about 5 mins).

2. Add the broth and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa and boil uncovered over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. I added my extra spices at the same time as the quinoa. While the quinoa is cooking, you can assemble the other ingredients.

3. Stir in the chipotle in adobo, and add the block of squash (I partially defrosted mine in the fridge overnight). Otherwise, cover, turn the heat to high and continue cooking until you can break up the squash and stir it in (3-4 mins).

4. Stir in the beans and reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until here is no solid white dot of starch at the centre of the quinoa (1-3 minutes). I added my squash/beans at the same time because I am lazy.

5. Stir in the corn, red pepper, cilantro and salt/pepper to taste. When I tasted it, I added some sri racha and the juice of half a lime (it needed more bite). Cook, uncovered, until the corn is defrosted.

I garnished mine with some 3-year-aged balderson heritage cheddar. OMG. YUMMY. The stew was delicious - I never would have thought to put these ingredients together, but it works wonderfully....I just thought it needed some kick, and I'm happy with the way my mods turned out.


Overall, I think this is a pretty good cookbook if you're trying to eat healthy, or for example, if you need to eliminate gluten, etc (it's NOT a gluten-free cookbook, but uses a lot of gluten-free grains). THere is a nice variety of recipes and I like how it gently introduces you to a large variety of whole grains.

Critiques? It would be nice if there were nutritional info. I know these recipes are healthy, and were I feeling motivated, I could enter the ingredients and find out the exact info myself...but it would have been nice if this book had already done that. And I also find the recipes can overemphasize the salt and underemphasize other herbs and seasonings.

That said, I would recommend this book to any of you who are trying to eat healthy and are trying to look beyond steamed veggies and rice for your healthy fare. Keep your eyes peeled, as I'm sure I'll have more to say about this book in coming weeks. I've got a beach with my name on it and only a few short weeks to get beach-ready!

Related Posts with Thumbnails