Super Natural Every Day

15 11 2011

…Or most of them, anyway.

I was delighted to receive the news, several weeks ago, that I had won a copy of Super Natural Every Day from The Kitchen Illiterate.  Since receiving the book, I’ve been cooking from it quite a bit, as well as finding myself inspired by it while doing my food shopping.  (“Yellow split peas?  I think there are a couple of recipes for those in that new book!” “I should probably be keeping quinoa and bulghur on hand…” “How could we possibly be out of miso?  To the Japanese store, posthaste!” Sometimes I talk to myself in an old-timey fashion.)

I’ve made mention of the book a few times on Seasonal Market Menus, my other blog devoted to CSA eating and menu planning, because the recipes are great for using whatever vegetables you happen to have around, given a few pantry staples.  I certainly haven’t followed any of the recipes to the letter, but that doesn’t stop them from being a fantastic source of inspiration.  Like this soda bread:

soda bread from Super Natural Every Day

I’d never really considered soda bread as a legitimate thing before, but Heidi’s photos convinced me to give it a try.  I substituted leftover pickle brine for half of the buttermilk in the recipe, to no ill effect.  The dough was delightfully springy, and any rye bread that doesn’t insist on caraway is a good thing in my book.  It baked up nice and crusty, with a slightly biscuity or scone-like texture in the crumb.  The bread resisted staling longer than a yeast bread would, which is good because the loaf was huge.  We ate it for almost a week, and then I took the remaining half and turned it into some of the crunchiest croutons I’ve ever made.

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California Green Curry

23 05 2008

Last January, before we left the U.S. for France, Nick and I did a “Farewell Tour” of the West coast, visiting friends and family in what was essentially a month-long road trip.  (Nothing like spending a month in a car with someone and then moving into a tiny Parisian apartment!)  On our night in San Diego, our friends took us to a little hole-in-the-wall Thai place in Pacific Beach.  The food was great, but one dish stood out: the green curry with avocado.  Now, I highly doubt that avocado is a traditional Thai ingredient (correct me if I’m wrong), but given the avocado’s popularity in Southern California, they incorporated it into their menu.  And with excellent results.  The creaminess of the avocado worked really well with the heat of the chilies and the sweetness of the coconut milk.  The idea stuck with me, so when I found some Thai green curry paste a few weeks ago, I vowed to give it a shot.  (For some reason, avocados are exceptionally cheap here.  I don’t know why.  But when I can buy 6 avocados for 2 euros, I don’t ask questions.)

At any rate, the other day I realized that I had both avocados and green curry paste in my kitchen.  It’s go time.  I procured chicken, coconut milk, mint, and cilantro, and while I was at the Asian market I found these awesome long beans.

Thai long beans

They were labeled “Thai long beans.”  How, or if, they are different from Chinese long beans I don’t know.  The one time I have tasted Chinese long beans, I found them to be slightly bitter in flavor.  These had a pleasant vegetal aroma and a flavor that bordered on grassy.  Close enough to regular green beans so as to be accessible, but different enough to feel mildly exotic.  Anyway, I wanted them in the curry too, so I cut them into bite-size lengths and sautéed them in peanut oil over high heat.  When they had formed a few brown spots, I removed them to a bowl and added coconut milk and green curry paste to the hot pan.  I whisked these together and seasoned the mixture with fish sauce and sugar.

Not-so-long beans

Once the mixture had thickened a bit, I stirred in thinly sliced chicken breast.  I let this simmer until the chicken was done, then I returned the beans to the pan along with thick slices of avocado.  When everything was warmed through I turned off the heat and added copious amounts of cilantro and mint leaves.  I adjusted the seasoning with lime juice, and served my California curry over brown rice.  Just the way the hippies like it!

Green Curry with Chicken, Long Beans, and Avocado

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