Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What I'm Reading Today

When I was growing up my grandma used to "fly south for the winter", spending time in Orange County when the rains poured down in Seattle.  An amazing cook herself, she was a huge fan of the LA Times food section and would always clip recipes to send my mom and I (see where I get my passion?).  Our favorite envelope was the one containing the first issue of the year as it included the Times' Top 10 Recipes of the Year.  As I read through the list today, I have no doubt in my mind that grandma would have made the Orange Flavored Shortcakes with Strawberries and Cream and Julianne's Graham Cracker Chewey Bars.  I myself like the look of the Quinoa Salad with Shitakes, Fennel, and Cashews.

If you're used to the "dal" at your local Indian take out joint, let me open your eyes.  When you see the word on an Indian menu, it actually refers to lentil and bean dishes, in general-not just the smooth puree you might think of when you see the word.  Lentils and Beans are SO full of nutrition-not only do they have a significant amount of protein but, they're packed with fiber too.  In today's NY Times, Mark Bittman explores the ins and outs of perfect dal.  His top three tips? 1) Choosing the right bean/lentil-with so many varieties out there, you've got tons of choices and you should use what you like (just adjust the cooking time as needed).  2) Seasoning-Dal can be very mild or intense and spicy.  You can adjust the flavor profile with ingredients like chilies, garlic, ginger, and cumin.  He likes using a "tarka", essentially melted, seasoned butter or oil drizzled over the dal at the end-yum!  3)  Lastly, think about extra ingredients who's flavors would compliment your legumes-fruit, nuts, vegetables, or meat.  Ready to give them a try?  Spiced Red Lentil Dal, Mung Bean Dal with Apples and Coconut Tarka, Lentils with Curried Tarka, Navy Beans with Poppy Seed Tarka, and French Lentils with Cashews.  Where to begin?

Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos.  Not only do they pack a lot of heat but, if you buy them canned in adobo sauce you get a bonus.  The sauce itself, spiked with vinegar and infused with the smokey chiles, is delicious.  I love them chopped into aioli, added to chili, stirred into shrimp for tacos, and now, spread on top of a chicken burger.  In today's Washington Post there is a recipe for Chipotle Glazed Chicken Burgers that looks light and tasty.  Served over greens instead of in a bun ("protien style" for you In-and-Out fans), it won't weigh you down.  Try it with the Black and White Bean Primavera Salad for a nice weeknight dinner when you want to turn up the heat.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

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