Inspired by Saag

I’ve been so in love with exotic spices recently so I’ve been trying my hand at food that’s not traditionally in my family and I’ve got a couple of restaurants that will soon be burning holes in my pockets. Since these aren’t flavors and smells I’ve worked with for years and years, I still need to work on calibrating my nose a little and so I follow recipes and recommendations a little more closely. For this post, I used two articles for guidance: AllRecipes Indian Saag and Whats4Eats Saag.

The focus is on greens. One of my oversights was how few I had on hand. When those recipes call for two pounds, they really mean it. As they cook, they really loose volume and when there are more, it helps promote more of a saucy texture. I had one of those tubs of mixed greens, and I should have gotten 2 or 3, but it was still tasty. Many versions of this recipe also call for a blender, but since I don’t have one, I stuck with chopping.

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I’ve been told that I made a Saag Aloo, because of the potato, but I believe in the spinachy spirit of this dish and will leave it up to y’all to customize it and name it what you wish. This was an experiment of mine and I hope you find inspiration from it like I did those other articles.

 

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No two articles I found had the same spices, or even the same proportions, so I played around based on my tastes and what I had available. Slowly I’ve been splurging on spices, and it’s been nice having a variety on hand.

 

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Saag

 

  • Spinach
  • onion
  • garlic
  • potatoes
  • cream
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs niter kibbeh (or butter, or oil)
  • 1tbs coriander
  • 2 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

 

  1. Par boil the potatoes in a separate pan.
  2. Cook onion in the niter kibbeh, on medium, until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and spices, then saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and water. Simmer for about 15-25 minutes. (4 1/2 would be blend it if you got it)
  5. Add chickpeas, potatoes, and cream.
  6. Return to a brief simmer. Finish cooking the potatoes.

Three cheese and basil risotto

I had risotto for the first time a few weeks ago and ever since I’ve wanted to make my own. It’ simple in idea, but seemed daunting because of it’s mystery to me. And for once, I only made enough for two people! (It’s always a good idea to make a text batch of something you’re not familiar with.)

Here’s what I used:

1/2 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
A couple basil leaves
Some Parmesan (I’d say about half a cup)
Some Ementaler (I’d say a little more than a quarter cup)
A little blue cheese (about two tablespoons)
1 tbs white vinegar (to imitate the white wine flavor in the dish I first tried)
Black pepper to taste

First, I sliced the basil into strips and put it in a saucepan with the broth and a little pepper. I brought it to a boil over medium heat in order to let the broth soak up the basil flavor, but also without having a lot of the water boil away. Once it started boiling, I reduced the temperature to low and let it sit for 8 minutes.

While that was going I sliced the cheese.

I sliced it because my grater is currently out of commission. The point is, you want it to be small enough to melt quickly, so slice or grate it as you like.

When the broth’s about 2 minutes from done, start frying the rice on medium.

I’m not saying deep fry it or anything, just get a pan with some oil and there you go. This is where I added the vinegar. I didn’t want it to be too pronounced, so I added it early so that some of it would boil off. This would also be a good place to add some garlic or onions, if that’s your kind of thing. And FYI, from this point on, you’re going to be stirring constantly.

Let that cook for about 2 minutes, then add 2 ladle’s full of broth and a little bit of cheese.

When all the broth’s absorbed, add some more! Remember to keep stirring the whole time and keep repeating this until there’s no more broth. Do a taste test to make sure they’re not too al-dente, then turn off the heat and serve!

Instant Food

Normally I’m not that big a fan of instant food–I figure if you’re going to eat, you should make it worth it and eat something awesome, but things are different when more than half your things are in boxes. So I figured I’d write a post about the different instant foods I tried out before my kitchen was all the way unpacked.

The first thing I tried (and can’t find pictures of) was a frozen make-it-yourself orange chicken dish. It was neat because you actually were supposed to cook it in a skillet, not the mircowave, and the ingredients were separated for you to throw in like you normally would while cooking. The only thing that was done for you was the frying of the chicken. It came out really tasty, but a little too much for two people, but hooray for leftovers!

The next interesting one I tried was a prepackaged paella. Sounds weird, right? I’ve had real paella before, so I wasn’t even going to consider boxed paella until it was highly recommended to me by a customer.

It comes with seasoned rice and canned seafood.

And like the orange chicken, you cook it in a single skillet, all you need to add is water and stir a little. Overall, I liked the taste, but the mussels were a really weird, almost crumbly texture, so that made me kind of sad because mussels are normally super tasty. So I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it considering it was about $5 and that you can get a similar tasting rice for around a dollar:

Then there’s also the really simple stuff.

Grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh yeah.

I’ve made a few other things too, like butterkase-fontina fondue with chicken, apples, and bread for dipping, pudding (which I’ll be writing about later), and some more upgraded pasta. So I’ve found out that even if most of your stuff disappeared one day, there’s still plenty to cook.