Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Curry Chutney Egg Salad

Yes, Memorial Day has passed and summer is nearly here. There should be something seasonal and vibrant in the kitchen, or something sweet and celebratory. The Messy kitchen has been a bit dull, however, as I am still, slowly but surely, adapting to a new work schedule. That’s why the thing I’m excited about right now is egg salad.

This isn’t a boring egg salad, though, but one with a bit of sweetness and spice and that exotic dustiness of curry powder. It came from an idea in a magazine clipping to stir mango chutney into mayonnaise, and then use that to bind together a simple egg salad. I was afraid a sweet, gingery mango chutney would be a bit cloying all on its own, however, so I added the curry powder, some spicy mustard and a dash of hot sauce.

I found the balance in the recipe below to be very good. It’s flavorful and interesting without totally overpowering the eggs. If you don’t like eggs, or don’t really care about them shining in your sandwich, you could kick up the seasoning to make a spicier salad. You could also add more chutney if you like its fruity sweetness, or use a different exotic condiment in its place for a different flavor.

If you follow food news at all, you probably know that eggs might be a dear commodity in the not too distant future with the, shall we say, cleaning up of thousands of chickens potentially infected with avian influenza. This might just be the right time to seek out some clean local sources of eggs, many of which should be free range or at least cage free.

You could also make a chicken or turkey salad like this one, if that’s more to your taste, although the birds themselves will be becoming a bit rarer in the supermarket as well. Of course, if you prefer a vegan version, you could probably translate this recipe quite effectively into a chickpea salad like this one. Perhaps with all the poultry uproar right now, we’d be well off to make this into a winner, winner chickpea dinner after all. Just a thought.

Curry Chutney Egg Salad
Based on a recipe in Martha Stewart Every Day Food magazine

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
A few grinds of black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
¼ cup finely chopped celery
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chutney, mustard, curry powder, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to combine well.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to coat. Serve on bread as a sandwich or on crackers or crostini.

Makes 4-6 sandwich-size servings.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Savory Carrot Pie

I wasn’t sure if I was going to post this recipe. My first bite was mediocre, or so I thought, but more bites led to more appreciation and more pleasure, and I even found the leftovers to be better still. This is another version of the seasonal vegetable quiche-like pies I bake for supper when I feel like I have a little extra ambition.

The new, super-sweet carrots showing up in farmer’s markets just about now are perfect for this pie, which is savory, though based on that sweeter combination of ricotta cheese and sautéed onions along with those carrots. The savory-ness is punched up by Dijon mustard and cheddar cheese, which complements the carrots and ricotta very well. I flavored this dish mildly with a bit of parsley (because that’s what I had on hand), but I think other herbs, such as tarragon or dill, would be even better.

The crust for this pie needs to be partially baked before the filling is added. I used this method to blind bake it and I used half of the dough recipe in this post. You could use your favorite recipe for the pastry and your favorite method of blind-baking the crust.

While the flavor of this pie is like a slightly sweet, vegetable-filled omelet, the texture is that of a dense quiche. The extra density is from that hefty dose of ricotta. I used a part-skim ricotta in my pie, which I thought made the texture a bit gritty. As the pie stood longer, however, I found it to feel a bit smoother, which the reheated leftovers being even better. This makes me a firm believer in the instruction to allow the pie to stand a good 15 minutes before being cut into and enjoyed. It will still be plenty hot, and the settled, improved creaminess of the rested pie will be worth the wait.

Savory Carrot and Ricotta Pie

The blind baking method I used for the crust of this pie is outlined in detail in this post.

Crust for a single crust pie (I used this one), rolled out
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 ½ cups shredded carrot
1 tablespoon dry sherry
¼ cup chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle and place it in a 9-inch pie pan, being careful not to stretch it. Gently prick the crust all over with a fork. Line the crust with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place pie weights on top of the foil. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil and weights. Bake 5-8 minutes more or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven. (The filling can be prepared while the crust is baking.) Reduce oven heat to 350 F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Stir in the carrot and sherry. Cook and stir about 2 minutes more. Stir in the parsley and black pepper. Remove from the heat.

3. In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the ricotta cheese and milk. Stir in the carrot and onion mixture.

4. Brush or spread the Dijon mustard over the baked pie crust. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the mustard. Pour the egg mixture over the crust.

5. Place the filled pie plate on a large baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes before slicing to serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Layered Turkey and Bean Casserole

Well, it looks like I’ve been away from the computer again. It’s that darn day job thing that’s killing my creative performance. I recently changed positions at work (technically, it was a promotion – hooray!), so my schedule also changed. I used to work ridiculously early (5:45 am – 2:15 pm) but now…let’s just say coming home at 6:30 pm requires some adjustment in the dinner department.

And so I’m now trying to work out how to make ahead as much as I can, without having to dedicate weekends (and I have to work every other weekend) to stocking the freezer with nourishing but mediocre casseroles. Instead, I’m trying to see what sauces or mise en place or other things I can prepare in the morning or the night before that can be tossed with their accompanying pastas or other ingredients or side dishes, hopefully getting things down to a 45-minutes-or-less supper.

I’m also playing around with the timed baked functions of my oven. That’s what I used to bake this Southwestern-themed layered casserole. There’s a layer of browned and seasoned ground turkey with tomatoes and green chiles, plus layers corn, refried beans (I used homemade re-cooked beans), and, of course, cheese. It’s easy to put together and can be made a day or two ahead and heated up on the day you need it.

This casserole is deliciously savory with really complex flavors for its relative logistical simplicity. Even though the weather is getting warmer, I might keep this hot dish on the menu. The leftovers reheat nicely so I can get a couple meals out of it. It might just save me from eating way too many frozen pizzas in the coming months while I figure out just how late I’m willing to have my suppertime be.

Layered Turkey and Refried Bean Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2002

1 pound ground turkey
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn, thawed
16 ounces refried beans
1 ½ cups Colby-Jack cheese

Taco-style toppings, such as salsa, chopped tomatoes, black olives, green onions, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large skillet, combine the ground turkey and onion. Cook, stirring often to crumble the turkey until the turkey is fully browned. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, salt and garlic. Cook about 1 minute more, stirring often.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and green chiles. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-8 minutes.

3. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray, or grease it with oil. Spread the turkey mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish. Top the turkey mixture with the corn in an even layer. Carefully spread the refried beans over the corn. Top the beans with the cheese.

4. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the casserole is heated through. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish each serving with your choice of toppings.

Makes about 6 servings.

Another recipe like this one: Corn and Bean Skillet Pasta