Friday, September 12, 2014

Mint-Cilantro-Mango Chimichurri

Our visit to Ananda, an Indian restaurant in Maple Lawn (Howard County), introduced us to a variation of the beloved coriander chutney served with samosas and other fried appetizers. There, cilantro is combined with mint, mango, and avocado, giving it both richness and sweetness. I decided I wanted to make this at home and put in an inquiry to the restaurant. By the weekend, I hadn't received the recipe, so I tried to recreate it.

It's hard to find ripe avocados at the last minute, so I omitted them. While the result doesn't taste exactly like the stuff at the restaurant, it's pretty good. But what to put it on? I've been contemplating making samosas for a while now, but not that particular weekend. I did have a nice London broil defrosting though, and beef is great with a chimichurri sauce. And chimichurri is basically herbs + garlic + oil + vinegar. So I added oil and vinegar to some of the existing chutney, and it was great.

Mint-Cilantro-Mango Sauces

For chutney:
1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, loosely packed
1/2 mango, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
Generous squeeze of lime juice
Pinch salt

For chimichurri:
3 tablespoons mint-cilantro-mango chutney
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch cumin
Pinch salt

To make chutney: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a puree. Add more salt to taste.

To make chimichurri: combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cauliflower Fritters

I read this post on Mango & Ginger just after I purchased some miniature multicolored cauliflower at the local farmers' market. Normally I'd steam the cauli and serve it with lashings of butter, or maybe roast it, but cauliflower fritters sounded too perfect.

I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen that combined cauliflower with feta cheese. Deb Perelman topped her fritters with a cumin-flavored yogurt and pomegranate seeds, but I was married to the harissa yogurt idea. Plus, we have a shaker full of harissa that we bought at MOM's Organic Market a while back, and I'm always looking for ways to use it.

This was perfect.

Cauliflower Fritters with Harissa Dipping Sauce (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

For fritters:
1 pound cauliflower florets, steamed until tender
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive oil for frying

For sauce:
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon harissa powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

To make fritters: Using a potato masher, mash cooked cauliflower in a large bowl. Add egg and mix well. Stir in feta.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir into egg and cauliflower mixture until just combined. The batter will be very thick and lumpy.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, plop in the batter in 2-tablespoon dollops, flattening them slightly with your spoon. Because the batter is so thick, it might seem that they won't hold together--have faith, they will. Repeat with additional batter, leaving space between each. Once browned on the bottom, carefully flip each fritter and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Drain on paper towels.

To make sauce: combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 8 fritters

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Baltimore Seafood Festival

Experience Baltimore’s best seafood at the Baltimore Seafood Festival with offerings from: Aggio, Bond Street Social, Barcocina, Langermanns, CafĂ© Gia, Farmstead Grill, Heavy Seas Alehouse, Ryleigh’s Oyster, Captain James Landing, Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, Blue Agave, Stuggy’s, Lebanese Taverna, Roy’s, Atwater’s, The Nickel Taphouse, Dooby’s, Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, Pitango, and Flavor Cupcakery.

Baltimore Seafood Festival guests will enjoy live music by Strykers’ Posse and Super Bueno, Smirnoff Crush Bar, Peligroso Tequila Bar, Wine Bar, the Groupon Cooking Tent featuring cooking demos by Baltimore’s top chefs, oyster and crab cake eating contests, local artists, and a family zone with kid-friendly attractions. The event will also feature a VIP area as well as a Domino Sugar Crab Feast Tent, featuring private tables for groups with bushel of crabs, private bars and cocktail servers.

WHAT: Baltimore Seafood Festival
WHEN: Saturday, September 20, 2014, 12pm-6pm
WHERE: Canton Waterfront Park
3001 Boston Street Baltimore, MD 21224
COST: Ticket packages starting at $29. Kids 10 and under are FREE!

For more info, visit

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Asian Veggie Pancakes

A while back, I found myself with a bunch of vegetables--a fennel bulb, a bag of broccoli slaw, sugar snap peas, lots of green onions, roasted tomatoes--and not a lot of ideas. Well, there were ideas, but nothing particularly cohesive. Because we had eaten a bunch of meat recently, I wanted to make a primarily vegetarian meal. But what to do with that motley crew of produce? The tomatoes were really throwing me off, so I decided they could wait for another meal. The rest I would use in vegetable fritters.

There was also a bunch of Thai basil in our container garden. The plant was going a bit wild and needed serious trimming, so basil became part of the meal plan. And as I had just opened a new jar of pad kapao sauce, some of that would go in, too. I really love that stuff. It's spicy, aromatic, basil-y, and garlick-y, and it's good on just about everything. Mix it with mayonnaise and put it on a turkey burger. Put it in the turkey burger, too. Mix it with softened cream cheese and spread it on a bagel. Yes, for breakfast. (Hey, "everything" bagels have garlic and onion on them, so why not?) Mix it with softened butter and stuff it under the skin of a chicken before roasting. Put a tablespoon of it in plain tomato soup to eat with that grilled cheese sandwich. Pad kapao sauce is my sriracha. I've gotten my brother hooked on it, too, and the last time we hit an Asian supermarket together, we each bought several jars.

Eventually, I ditched the fritter idea and went with okonomiyaki-style pancakes. Okonomiyaki uses dashi, which isn't vegetarian, but you can certainly substitute some veg stock or just plain water in the batter. Me, I like the vague fishy flavor of the dashi.

Okonomiyaki are commonly served with Kewpie mayonnaise and unsweetened pickled ginger. Instead, I added some of my favorite chilli basil paste to a little Duke's mayo.

Asian Veggie Pancake

For pancakes:
1 cup water
2 teaspoons dashi powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Maesri Thai chilli paste with basil leaves(pad kapao)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
3-4 cups mixed raw vegetables (I used sliced sugar snap peas, fennel, okra (because we had only 3 pods), and broccoli slaw mix)
1/4 cup roughly chopped Thai basil

For sauce:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Maesri Thai basil and chilli sauce

Put the dashi powder and water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat long enough to warm the water and dissolve the dashi, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the cooled dashi to the flour mixture, stirring to make a batter. Add the eggs and chilli sauce. Cover and refrigerate batter for at least an hour and up to three hours.

After the batter has rested, add the scallions, vegetables, and basil to the batter; it will be very thick.

Add a tablespoon of canola oil to an 12" nonstick frying pan and heat until it shimmers. Make 3 approximately 5" pancakes with the vegetable batter. Cook until bottoms are golden brown. Flip with a spatula and cook other side until brown. Remove pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat until all batter is used.

Make a sauce with the mayo and chilli sauce. Serve with the pancakes.

Makes 9 pancakes.

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