Weekly Winner:  Bridging the Seasons with a Comforting Stew

It has been unseasonably cool here the last few days and almost immediately I began thinking of “fall food”.  Those dishes that bridge the gap from end of summer to beginning of autumn without heating up the house too much and while still taking advantage of all the great summer produce.  And, to be honest, I’m just starting to tire of salads, grain bowls and the like.  I wanted comfort. And while I’m certain there are a few scorching days left for us here in Chicago this summer, I thoroughly enjoyed cozying up to a bowl of something warm with the windows open and a cool, autumnal breeze blowing through the house.

Curried Lentil-and-Vegetable Stew is the perfect “gap” meal.  The fresh tomato and zucchini still taste like summer and the curry, lentils and yogurt make it a substantial meal.   I will be making this dish long after summer and well into football season! The recipe comes Cooking Light and its one of those dishes that while it tastes extravagant, you know it’s incredibly healthy.

Curried Lentil-and-Vegetable Stew

Serves 4


1 Tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups chopped zucchini

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped, seeded tomato

2 Tbsp curry powder

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 (17.6-oz) pkg. steamed cooked lentils (about 2-1/2 cups)

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp plain whole-milk yogurt (I used more)


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add tomato, curry powder, and ketchup; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Combine stock and flour in a small bowl. Add stock mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in salt and lentils; cook 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in lime juice. Divide lentil mixture among 4 bowls; top evenly with yogurt.

Weekly Winner:  Seemingly Stuck on Salmon – Another Winning Salmon Dish

Looking back at the past month or so, it sure seems like we’ve eating a bunch of salmon.  This actually isn’t quite true, but I have tried a bunch of new recipes this month and apparently a good amount have been salmon.  While it’s easily my favorite fish to cook, even I am surprised by the amount of fish that has appeared here in the past few weeks.  Truth be told, I actually tried this recipe for Slow-Roasted Curried Salmon with Corn and Tomatoes before the Asian Pork Salad (my last entry) but thought I needed to take a bit of a break from posting salmon.  Having said that, this could be one of the best yet!

Slow-Roasted Curried Salmon with Corn and Tomatoes comes from Sunset Magazine and is both comforting and exotic at the same time.  It’s got a good bite of heat which is nicely tamed by the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes.  Honestly, I could happily eat this dish once a week without tiring of it. Except for the rice, it is an easy sheet pan dinner which makes clean-up a breeze. And the fact that it’s slow-roasted at a low oven temp means it won’t heat up the house.  Both of those things, added to the amazing taste of the dish makes this a true winner.

Slow-Roasted Curried Salmon with Corn & Tomatoes

Serves 4


2 pounds skinned sockeye salmon fillet

1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds

About 1 tsp. salt

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 very ripe medium red tomato

1/2 small shallot

2 large ears corn

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 to 15 large fresh basil leaves

1/2 lemon (optional)

Hot cooked rice


1. Preheat oven to 275°. Cut salmon into 3/4-in. cubes and put in a large bowl.

2. Grind mustard seeds in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Pour into a small bowl and mix with 1 tsp. salt, the curry powder, and cayenne. Sprinkle over salmon and turn to coat thoroughly.

3. Cut tomato into 1/2-in. dice and mince shallot. Cut kernels off corn cobs. Add vegetables to salmon along with oil.

4. Stack several basil leaves, roll length­wise, and slice very thinly to make a chiffonade; repeat with remaining leaves. Mix 3/4 of leaves into salmon bowl.

5. Spread salmon and vegetables in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake just until salmon is firm and barely flakes, 9 to 12 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like, and season with salt.

6. Spoon rice into bowls; add salmon and vegetables. Top with remaining basil.

Weekly Winner:  Great Big Balls of Comfort

Things always seem to get crazy for the first few months of the year.  Always for different reasons, yet always hectic.  I always fall under the false assumption that once the holidays are over things will slow down and my beloved routine will return.  It just never seems to happen.

So when I do have some time to “play” in the kitchen and try new things — I am always looking for comfort.  Something I can curl up on the couch with and escape into.  These Curried Meatballs are just the salve I was looking for.  Meaty, spicy, warm and cozy.

The recipe comes from Bon Appetit and while the list of ingredients may seem a bit long and daunting, at least in my case, I had everything on hand.  Make this dish on the night you seriously need some soul-satisfying, heart-warming fare.  Pajamas optional (but highly recommended). Also you will notice the forbidden cilantro on top.  This was hubby’s dish.  The recipe calls for it but I have omitted it as I always do.  Do what you feel is right.

Curried Meatballs

Serves 8



Olive oil

6 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 jalapeños, seeds removed if desired

6 garlic cloves

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds ground beef (20% fat)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

3 tablespoons plain yogurt (plus more for serving)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Curry Sauce:
¼ cup olive oil

4 medium onions, chopped

10 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1½-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped

3 dried chiles de árbol

4 teaspoons curry powder

4 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons ground turmeric

3 tablespoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper



Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Purée scallions, jalapeños, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, garam masala, coriander, cumin, and cayenne in a blender until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add beef, egg, yogurt, and salt. Mix with your hands until mixture is homogenous and starts to become very sticky like sausage meat, about 1 minute. Roll beef mixture into golf ball–size portions and place on baking sheet, spacing 1″ apart (you should have about 24). Drizzle meatballs with more oil and bake until browned on top and cooked through, 20–25 minutes.

Curry Sauce

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often,  are translucent and starting to brown, 8–10 minutes. Stir in chiles, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until mixture is very fragrant and spices begin to stick to the pot, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stirring and scraping bottom of pot, and bring to a boil. Add bay leaf, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 2 cups water; return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded, 25–30 minutes.

Let curry sauce cool slightly, then transfer to a blender; blend until very smooth. Wipe out any bits remaining in pot and transfer curry sauce back to pot. Stir in lemon juice and cayenne; taste sauce and season with more salt if needed.

Gently nestle cooked meatballs into sauce, bring to a simmer, and cook until meatballs are heated all the way through, 10–15 minutes. Serve topped with dollop of yogurt.

Weekly winner:  Cool, Crunchy, Curried, Kohlrabi … Noodles

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for a good peanut sauce. I love it on anything, but particularly on noodles.  And these are cold noodles which made them the perfect side dish to grilled pork chops – no added heat in the kitchen!

I’ve only recently discovered kohlrabi and I’m definitely hooked!  I’m not even sure if there are any recipes that call for it cooked as I’ve only tried it raw and love it.   Crunchy and clean tasting – like broccoli’s sweeter sister.  Add to that the creaminess of the edamame and the crispness of the red pepper which all just mixes beautifully with the heat of the green curry paste and luscious-ness of the peanut butter.  Have I waxed poetically enough about this dish???  Probably.  The only thing I’ve changed in this recipe is that it called for whole wheat spaghetti. Yeah, that’s not going to happen…. not in this kitchen.

The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and if you make this, you will definitely be eating well. Very Well.

Thai Peanut Curry Noodles


8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons Thai green, red or yellow curry paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup frozen edamame (thawed)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

1 cup matchstick-cut peeled kohlrabi


Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water, then drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water.

Whisk the reserved pasta water, peanut butter, shallot, curry paste, ginger, soy sauce, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the pasta, edamame, bell pepper and kohlrabi; toss well to coat.

Weekly Winner: A Curry Like No Other — at least that I’ve had!

2015/01/img_1547.jpg I don’t pretend to be an expert on Indian food, just an ardent admirer. I find that I am drawn to any dish with the word “curry” in it … whether or not curry powder is actually used. I know so many people who claim not to like Indian food or curry because they “can’t stand the smell of curry powder”. What I’ve come to learn is that “curry” is basically a dish made with a complex combination of spices (which may or may not include said curry powder) but which almost always includes some sort of chile pepper. See? Cooking and eating can be educational too!

So, regardless of your take on curry powder, if you like seriously spiced food (not spicy-hot) but a gradual, slow-building warmth as you eat, than do I have a dish for you. It’s Smoky Indonesian-Style Chicken Curry and I got this jewel from Fine Cooking Magazine. The magazine suggests serving it with rice; however since it has potatoes in it, I didn’t think that was necessary. It’s actually perfect just the way it is.  The only change I made was to use boneless, skinless thighs since the recipe called for taking the skin off anyway.

Smoky Indonesian-Style Chicken Curry

Serves 4


5 dried pasilla or New Mexican chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 small shallot, quartered

2 Tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp sweet smoked paprika

1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger

1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp sambal oelek

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1-1/2 tsp ground coriander

Kosher salt

6 Tbsp chicken broth

8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

Freshly ground black pepper

1-1/4 lb waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3-1/2 cups)

½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2/3 cup thawed frozen peas


Put the chiles in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water; set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Drain, then transfer the chiles to a blender. Add the shallot, lemongrass, tomato paste, smoked paprika, ginger, brown sugar, sambal oelek, cumin, coriander, and 2 tsp salt. Blend the mixture until smooth, drizzling the broth through the hole in the lid and stopping occasionally to scrape down the inside of the jar.

Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread evenly with the chile mixture. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of a 5- to 6- quart slow cooker and arrange the chicken in an even layer on top. Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken is tender but not falling off the bone, 2 to 3 hours on high and 6 hours on low.

About 30 minutes before serving, turn the slow cooker to low and sprinkle the green beans evenly over the top, cover and cook until crisp-tender. Add the peas and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.




Weekly Winner: My Continuing Courtship with Curry — and Cauliflower!

IMG_0645.JPGI have made no secret about my relatively new-found love of Indian food — and curry in particular. I still can’t handle the mind-numbing, sweat-inducing, super-hot curries that are out there –  but the more subtle, complex curries have definitely become an addiction. The topic of this week’s post, Indian-Spiced Chicken and Cauliflower, is an amazingly easy meal that basically cooks itself (thanks to the slow-cooker). What’s great is that while you are not doing anything, your house will begin to smell amazing and that, in turn, builds the anticipation of dinner. What can be better than that??

I got this recipe from Woman’s Day magazine and am sure it is going to go into regular rotation in this house.  And yes, the recipe calls for garnishing with a boatload of cilantro, but I think you know me better than that by now.  It’s not happening in this house.  What y’all do in yours is between you and your conscience.

Indian-Spiced Chicken and Cauliflower
Serves 4

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
Kosher salt and pepper
1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 small head cauliflower (about 1-1/4 lb) cored and cut into small florets
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup long grain white rice
Greek yogurt and lemon wedges, for serving

In a 5- to 6-qt slow cooker, whisk together the tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, curry powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

Add the chicken, cauliflower, onion and raisins to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to package directions. Spoon the chicken mixture over the rice. Serve with yogurt and lemon wedges.


Weekly Winner: Tantalizingly Thai Chicken Thighs

IMG_1237.JPGLately I find that I have been somewhat obsessed by all things Thai — well culinarily speaking.  I simply cannot get enough!  I’m also a big fan of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs as well.  This dish sublimely combines the two – as well as adding just a hint of autumn (which I’m actually starting to look forward to) with the sweet potatoes.  The result?  A perfectly balanced, wonderfully aromatic, and delightfully easy dinner!

Everything in this dish is comforting and mellow with just a hint of spice.  The one ingredient that absolutely makes the dish is the scallions on top — you really need that sharp bite of onion.  It all comes together in one amazing dish — and to top it all off, it’s even pretty!  Definitely a Weekly Winner and certainly a dish that will go into seriously heavy rotation in this household.

The recipe comes from Cook’s Country Magazine.  The only change I made was to delete the chopped cilantro on top.  If you enjoy the taste of soap on your meals than go for it, but not in this house!  Otherwise, it is quick, easy, and so much more than the sum of its few parts.  I simply can’t say enough about it so I will stop and just share the recipe.  Do yourself and everyone in your house a favor — Make.  This.  Dish!

Thai-Style Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

Serves 4


6 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed

Salt and Pepper

3 Tbsp red curry paste

1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

2 Tbsp fish sauce

4 scallions, sliced thin on bias

1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed


1.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken skin side down in a 12-inch skillet.  Cover and set skillet over medium-high heat and cook until skin is browned, about 7 minutes.  Flip chicken and cook on second side until lightly browned, about 1-1/2 minutes.  Transfer chicken to plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat.

2.  Add curry paste to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in potatoes, coconut milk and fish sauce, scraping up any browned bits.  Return chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet, skin side up.  Bring to simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to cook until chicken registers 175 degrees, about 12 minutes.  Transfer chicken to platter.  Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce and potatoes over chicken.  Sprinkle scallions and peanuts over the top.  Serve.