Friday, June 18, 2010

Family Visit & Coconut Vegetable Curry

My mom and 15 year-old brother drove from Minnesota to bring Ian and I our wedding gifts. They stayed for two days, and although the visit was short, we had some great food. We walked around quite a bit of Ann Arbor, stopping in small shops and thrift stores. My mom has visited a few times, but it was Matthias' first visit - he was a hunt for some old records and sound equipment (does anything change?).

The first day we stopped at Zingermans and purchased some goodies to eat with our afternoon tea. We had some Bostock (a lovely brioche covered in almonds and a light syrup, absolutely to die for, or die of eating after consuming so many calories in one small danish), Magic Brownies, a Cream Scone (my favorite), and a cherry/current scone. I also purchased a partial loaf of a wonderful, European whole wheat sourdough. Yum!

We ate at the Jolly Pumpkin for dinner.  The Jolly Pumpkin is my new favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor. The food is traditional brewery food (burgers, sandwiches, pizza, etc.), but with a refined touch. For example, french fries with truffle oil, pizza with a sourdough crust with a base of 130 years old, with goat cheese and eggplant, you get the point. Not being a beer connoisseur myself I really couldn't say much about the beer, but Ian tells me their dark ale is superb.

Yesterday also included some good food, but we ate at home and did our own cooking. For lunch, I made some paninis that, I thought, turned out quite nice. We had picked up some deli meats and cheese at Trader Joe's, and I had the bread from Zingermans. I made a mayonnaise with diced bacon and a Tuscan herb blend, spread it on thick on the bread, and loaded them up with turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, thin apple slices, and spinach. Yum! Everyone should have a panini press. I served lunch with an Asian broccoli slaw and watermelon lemonade, which my handsome Ian took the time to put together (recipe below).

Matthias brought a recipe for an Indian Butter Chicken. As the dish was pure meat, I decided to wing together a vegetable curry for a side. Although Ian did his darnedest, the Butter Chicken turned out okay but was nothing exceptional and not really worth sharing. The vegetable curry was really good - I've tried to remember everything I did and put in - enjoy!

Coconut Vegetable Curry
You could probably put any vegetables you wanted in here, just adjust the cooking time as needed. Serve this curry over basamati rice, or in a bowl with Naan.

2 Tbsp butter, divided

1 onion, sliced
4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used a variety of small potatoes, including reds and purples)
1-2 cups butternut squash or sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cauliflower head, chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch cubes/slices

1 14 oz can coconut milk
1-2 cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp garlic paste (or 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed)
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or ginger paste)
2-3 Tbsp garam masala (to taste)
1 tsp coriander
1-2 tsp cumin (to taste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper

Heat a large pot over medium heat (I would recommend using an enameled cast iron french oven, like a Le Creuset). Add 1 Tbsp butter until melted and starting to brown a little. Add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown and is softened.

Add the rest of the butter. Add the potatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the squash, cauliflower, and carrots. Cook the vegetables, stirring them occasionally, for about 10 minutes, letting them brown a little bit. Add the coconut milk, 1 cup broth, and all of the spices. Stir everything until the vegetables are well coated and the spices are evenly incorporated. Depending on the amount of vegetables and size of pot, add more broth until the vegetables are almost covered. Stir and cover, allowing the heat to increase until it reaches a nice simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Depending on the amount of time, you can cook this until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes or so, or cook longer (recommended) so the flavors are better combined and the potatoes start to fall apart and thicken the sauce, anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Watermelon Strawberry Lemonade
We found small, beautiful strawberries at our farmers market, I would recommend using this type of fruity instead of the traditional large strawberries found at the supermarket.

3/4  - 1 cup sugar

3 - 3 1/2 cups water, divided
1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 cup fresh lemon juice, preferably from Meyer lemons
1 cup strawberries, hulled

fresh mint (optional)

Mix sugar with 1/2 cup water in a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved, to make a simple syrup. Refrigerate to cool down quickly, if possible.

Blend watermelon and lemon juice in batches. Mix in a large pitcher with the simple syrup and strawberries. Top off with water and add mint leaves.

Chill until cold, or serve immediately over ice.