Sunday, April 10, 2011

homemade harissa with a chance of showers

Since I failed to say a single thing about dinner last night, why don't we pick up there and then wade through the shower?  I was too in love with the gala to talk about our sunny, tropical dinner (on a darn cold night, too) - I still haven't completely come down, but I haven't seen the ballet in nearly 5 years and it's probably been about that long since I've seen the orchestra, too, so let me live on my cloud a little longer.

Anyway, I made Rice Island Casserole from Vegan on the Cheap last night.

I feel like it's a little more colorful this time, but maybe that's my heightened senses, peering desperately for one more glimpse of the tangerine dream lingering from the gala.  In any case, it appears that our moving, in granting a new and different stove, has cured my inability to cook brown rice.  I haven't had trouble yet, although I am still cautiously optimistic and not quite foolhardy enough to cook it any other way than alone in water or broth.

I've determined that for now, at least, any "casserole" that involves cooking rice in the oven will magically transform (like a pumpkin into a beautiful horse-drawn carriage) into a stovetop skillet supper.  I do not completely trust the oven yet, so there will be no baking of rice unless it's already been cooked completely on the stovetop first.

Nevertheless, this is such a good dinner.  The combination of sweet (pineapple) and salty (tamari) keeps your tastebuds alert while you taste the different textures of creamy, soft kidney beans against toothsome brown basmati and coconut.

I did do one thing differently, which was fun: I had a shallot left over from the other night, so in place of the green onions, I chopped that up.  It offered a surprising crunch against all the other textures and definitely enhanced the already heavenly scents wafting from my kitchen.

Tonight, then, I cooked the final dinner on our menu, Curried Chickpeas and Greens from Appetite for Reduction

We hadn't had this yet, at least in part because it takes a loooong time to "finely chop" two pounds of kale.  Kale is not heavy, so two pounds is a whole lot of kale.

I almost titled this post "the little saute pan that could" because my saute pan has a Napolean Complex.  This actually works out quite well for me, as I routinely push the limits of exactly how much food I can fit in my 3-qt pan.  The recipe instructed me to use a 4-qt pan.  My choices are 3qts or 12qts, so I decided to push my luck.

The finished product was incredibly flavorful.  The beginning of the recipe (the part after taking about 30 minutes to chop kale) had me sauteing garlic and ginger with red pepper flakes in oil.  I have decided I need a ginger press.  Do such things exist?  If so, I must have one because mincing ginger sucks, no matter how awesome your new knives may be.

Anyway, after letting the garlic and ginger soften a little, I added about 12 oz crushed tomatoes and stirred it all up.  Through the next few minutes, I added a few more spices, including my dearly beloved McCormick Garam Masala.  As I stirred everything together and the liquid from the tomatoes began to evaporate, I realized that I seemed to be making my very own harissa.  Within a few bites of dinner, I was pretty sure that's exactly what I did.  The rice came in pretty handy.


Today was a gorgeous Spring day.  It could have been a little warmer (me and my winter-fat will be happy to kiss Stocking Season goodbye), but it was sunny and relatively mild and I wore my new peep-toe pumps to a cousin's bridal shower.  I zoomed up there in a shared car, pumping P!nk through the speakers and shamelessly singing along, enjoying the glint of my bracelet in the sunlight and taking my time getting there.  

Although I still maintain I had the best bridal shower ever (my mom and sister really did a killer job), this was a pretty good one - the food was fabulous, especially the dessert spread, and it was a surprise for the bride, which is always fun.  Shall we finish the night with a picture parade?

pretty lace parasol, hung upside down from the ceiling

sister of the bride and aunt

gorgeous bright pink roses

Apparently, Cousin wanted her wedding color to be pink, but her sister (pictured above) refused to wear a pink dress, so instead, it'll be orange.

totally surprised!

I love these napkins!

Pretty Ribbon Princess!  Cousin was unaware of the old wives' tale about breaking ribbons at your shower.  Since she already has a son and a daughter, I thought I'd save her some future pain and tell her before she broke her way to twins (they do run in the family)!

Now for the real fun.   Not only were the desserts delicious (and plentiful!), they were works of art - It's been awhile since I've seen desserts this beautiful.

HUGE chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with sugared, colored marshmallows to resemble flowers

chocolate and vanilla petits-fours and chocolate covered almonds

I'm actually not sure, but aren't they pretty?

the "stems" of the flowers are green twizzlers.
my nephews happily ate them up so the women could focus on chocolate

1 comment:

  1. Ginger grater. You can find them in most asian markets. It looks like a flat dish with little nubs on it.

    I personally use a microplane grater. Much easier than mincing. It does change the texture though.

    Nice recap of the shower.