Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 12-09-14

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

I found a great webpage from the New York Times. It has 50 videos about all the basic cooking techniques. Simple stuff that you would never really know unless you've been cooking for a long time. Things like how to cut up an onion, tie a roast, Deglaze a pan, caramelize onions, boiling eggs, cleaning leeks .. lots of stuff you need to know how to do to be an every day cook.

You should know about curry paste and curry powder. It's a great way to "Fix" a dish that has no taste. A 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder will compleatly change the flavor of any dish. I keep some "Sweet Curry Powder" from Penzey's spices ready all the time. This is one reason I don't like cooking in other people's kitchen, they don't have my stuff!. If you make this dish or if you just have some curry paste onhand, taste it all by itself. It tastes like floor wax.. yuck... But mixed in with other things like chicken stock or coconut milk it becomes a wonderful thing. It doesn't take much to make a bunch of flavor.. If you make the soup taste it before you add the curry powder. (Add the curry powder last, while it's in your food processor, instead of first like the recipe says. I want you to taste the difference. The soup will be great without the curry as long as you season it with enough salt and pepper. Add the curry powder in 1/4 tsps then process and taste after you add each one.) You will be amazed!!

Sweet Potato Curry
This one-dish wonder grants you immunity from even the most gluten-averse, meat-abstaining, fat-conscious houseguests. And it tastes as good as ever reheated.

1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, coarsely chopped
1 2” piece ginger, peeled, chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt
¼ cup red curry paste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 13.5-oz. cans coconut milk
1½ pound sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
¾ pound small or young carrots, peeled, cut on a diagonal into 2” pieces
6 medium shallots, peeled keeping roots intact, quartered lengthwise
1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Steamed jasmine rice (for serving) or cooked (3/4
Thinly sliced scallions, basil leaves, cilantro leaves with tender stems, and lime wedges (for serving)
Pulse lemongrass, ginger, and garlic in a food processor until very finely chopped.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add lemongrass mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; season with salt. Add curry and tomato pastes and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk; season with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until curry is rich and full of flavor, 20–25 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes and carrots, then pour in water to cover. Partially cover pot and cook until carrots are crisp-tender, 10–15 minutes. Add shallots and cook until potatoes are tender and shallots are soft, 15–20 minutes.

Add chile, if desired, and lime juice to curry and spoon over rice. Top with scallions, basil, and cilantro; serve with lime wedges.

Do Ahead: Curry can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
Curried Squash Soup
2 large summer squash, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Sour cream, freshly cracked black pepper, cilantro sprigs (for serving)

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, and curry powder; season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until very tender, 25–30 minutes. Purée until smooth. Serve soup warm or chilled, topped with sour cream, cracked pepper, and cilantro sprigs.



If you have a 4 year old then you know my wife PK. She has been teaching the 4 year old Sunday school class for 17 years, she does it every week. She usually has a big class, anywhere from 15 to 36 kids.
When they go to music or go out to play you have to know which kids go to which class. The teachers re-count when they get back to be sure the kids end up back where they belong. All of PK's kids have "PK" written on their hand with a washable magic marker before they leave her class. That "PK" has turned in to a sign of pride and belonging to the kids in her class. Some refuse to wash it off. A friend of mine has a little girl who was trying to put it back with an ink pen. She did ok with the "P" but couldn't figure out the "K".  Mom asked her why she wanted the "PK" back on her hand and she said "That's the only way anybody will know where I belong." So she helped her with the "K".. now we know...

God's like that: He marks us with events in our lives, the birth of a child, a near death experience, a friend, changing someone's life, so that we know where we belong. We remember a time when God was there and no matter how far away we get we can always point to it, we can always come back and say "I know where I belong."

I'm waiting for the first 30 year old former student to come and show my wife a "PK" tattoo on their hand... belonging is a powerful thing...


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM