Sunday, January 15, 2012

a curry to beat the cold

I'm sure this will come as a surprise, but it hasn't actually warmed up since I last wrote - today's high didn't breach 30 degrees.  I think tomorrow we might hit a balmy 38 as the high.  Who cares about the weather, though?  Someone had a birthday yesterday...

That's right - Me.  I'm still here, despite my pitiful recent blogging.  I don't normally like to designate "favorite" gifts because I love what all gifts represent - that a person loved me enough to think of me and give me a little something special.

Or, sometimes, a big something special.  Story Time!

A few nights ago, probably toward the beginning of the week, Mister and I were talking about something that made this next comment appropriate.  He said something and my response was, "Exactly, which is why I need a 1-qt All-Clad saucepan."  I'm not ashamed to say that my new 4-qt saute pan has started a dangerous and expensive "addiction" to this wonderful cookware.  Besides, I like that I can feel good about contributing to an American-owned and American-operated company, based in Pennsylvania, still doing everything in the USA, and though it hurts my wallet, I will gladly pay more to support that.

Anyway, I came home from an interesting day of teaching (nothing says, "today's gonna be great" like getting a call while you're on the train, asking if you're coming in today because the student no one told you was starting an hour before your earliest known student is in the store waiting for you) to go out for my birthday dinner at Vedge.  It was good, but I think there are still some quirks waiting to be worked out.  The noise level can get a little intense when it's a full house, and they dropped the ball on three kind of important things.

  • our original reservation, made through the magic and convenience of OpenTable, was for 9pm.  I didn't really want to eat that late, but it was the earliest time available, so I took it, figuring I'd ask about changing when they called to confirm.  They called to confirm on Friday, and I asked the girl if we could swing an earlier time.  She said there was a table available at 8:30.  When we arrived a little after 8:30, the hostess gave me the impression she thought we were early...
  • After confirming we'd like the 8:30 time, I asked if it would be possible to get a table that was not smushed in between two other 2 tops - it makes Mister and I very uncomfortable.  Him more than me, but I didn't want anything to impede our nice dinner for my birthday.  When we arrived and were told that our table was "already" ready, we were led to the only open table - a 2-top in between another 2-top and a 4-top occupied by a loud, obnoxious "party."
  • The waitress suggested 3-4 plates per person, since the new concept at Vedge is small plates so you can sample a wider variety of dishes.  Following her advice, I ordered two old favorites from Horizons, which I knew would be at least a little different for the sake of novelty: Eggplant-Cauliflower Braciole and Golden Beets.  We also got Fingerling Fries and Black Olives as kind of an antipasti.  I never got my beets.  Fortunately, that left plenty of room for the amazing Sticky Toffee Pudding with salted caramel and a scoop of vanilla-bourbon ice cream.
I don't want to come out and say I'm disappointed in Vedge, but so far Mister and I have yet to be wowed like we consistently were at Horizons.  I'm pretty adventurous about my cuisine, but when Mister has to read and re-read the menu for the better part of 10 minutes, I think it'll be a hard sell to get him back there anytime soon.

On to the happy!  It was freezing last night, so we gave the bus around 1 minute to show up then hailed a cab and got home in relative warmth.  Upon our return, Mister presented me with my gift.

Have you guessed what it is yet?

If you guessed 1-qt All-Clad Saucepan you'd be right!  Apparently, he'd already gotten it by the time I made the comment about it on Monday and told me today that his thought then was "oh good, then I can get rid of the receipt!"  I can hardly wait to make my oatmeal in the morning...except that I'm out of soymilk, so it'll have to wait a day.

I'm also out of crushed tomatoes, which is why I didn't make a neat spin-off on a shepherd's pie made with winter vegetables and covered with a blanket of couscous, not mashed potatoes.  Instead, I had to use my brain and figure out what to do with what I did have: red cabbage, carrots, peas, and chickpeas.

So I made something up and it came out well enough to share:

3-C Curry
(makes about 6 servings)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 small shallots, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
head of red cabbage, chopped
4 carrots
15 oz chickpeas
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp za'atar
1 Tbsp tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water, more if needed
brown rice for serving

Heat oil in pan over medium heat.  When oil is "shimmering," add shallots and garlic.  Stir to coat with oil, then lower heat and cook about 10 minutes, until shallots begin to brown and get a little crispy.  Add chopped cabbage and water, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes.  When the cabbage is at least half-wilted, stir in the curry powder, salt, and tamari, then add the carrots and peas.  Stir well to distribute spices throughout the curry.  Cover and cook for another 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Stir in chickpeas, taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.  Serve over brown rice.

It was pretty good - it had this amazing color scheme going on: every bad color combination that was "hip" in the 1960s, I think.  We had the deep purple cabbage with bright orange carrots, vibrant green peas and beige chickpeas.  I added a little more salt at the end of cooking to enhance the curry flavors and it was tasty enough for Mister and I to each have two servings.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the curry flavors develop between now and lunch tomorrow.

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