Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumber

Corn Salad
A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for a warm octopus and chickpea salad. As good as I think that salad is, it requires both an ingredient not easily to hand as well as a lot of preparation time. And in the height of summer that’s not always what you want to do. This corn salad, however, is a different story. It’s not so much a recipe as a list of ingredients and you can vary the proportions according to your liking and how much of each you have. And getting the corn off the cob is as much hard work as you’ll have to do. Do get farm-stand sweet corn though—there’s no substitute for it. We’re very lucky in our town to have a local grower (Grisim’s Sweet Corn) set up a stand as soon as their corn is ready for harvest—the sweetness of freshly harvested sweet corn can’t be beat. In this recipe I also use cucumber and sweet onions from our CSA (the excellent Open Hands farm) and heirloom tomatoes and mint from my garden. The secret weapon is Rancho Gordo’s pineapple vinegar, which lends just enough tang to liven up the salad but doesn’t in any way fight with any of the other flavours. However you do it, you’ll end up with a great and easy side dish for barbecues and potlucks—it’s particularly good with simply grilled steaks. Continue reading

Octopus and Chickpea Salad

Chickpea and Octopus Salad
I’ve posted a number of recipes that use my friend Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo beans. I think his beans are great and I haven’t had better. But I’ve secretly always thought that the best thing he carries might actually be a vinegar. Specifically, banana vinegar. It’s made from fermented bananas on a plantation in Mexico, and costs a lot, but it smells like heaven and tastes pretty good too. I can’t bring myself to cook with it; I can’t even bring myself to make a vinaigrette with it: instead, I just pour glugs of it over things so I can get that aroma. This summer I’ve been making a number of warm salads that use it to impart a tang with just the right amount of fruity sweetness. Here is a recent version that came out quite well. It features “baby” octopus along with another great Rancho Gordo product, their incredibly fresh garbanzo beans. If you don’t have octopus at hand or it’s not to your taste, you can just as easily substitute shrimp; you could even make it vegetarian and go with potatoes instead.  Continue reading

Keema Posole

Keema Posole
Here is the third recipe from my first outing with a bag of Rancho Gordo hominy. I actually made this alongside the palak posole and before the pozole rojo—I note this for the benefit of my future biographers. Unlike the palak posole, where the hominy was replacing paneer (two things that are nothing alike), this recipe is not a stretch. I am not alone in putting sweet corn kernels in my keema as a matter of course. Of course, hominy does not taste like sweet corn and you might say that in this recipe it actually replaces diced potato: working both as an extender and as a textural contrast to the ground meat (keema). If you don’t have hominy on hand just dice two large potatoes. But if you do have hominy on hand or are looking for more uses for it, give this a go. Whichever way you make it, it’s very simple. Continue reading

Pozole Rojo

Pozole Rojo, Rancho Gordo
So I said last week in my Palak Posole post that I’d not already purchased hominy/posole from Rancho Gordo on account of the fact that I associated posole entirely with the Mexican soup/stew of near-identical name, and that as our local house of Mexican goodness, El Triunfo, offers a very good version on weekends I didn’t need to make it at home. Here I am, therefore, with a recipe for a rough and ready pozole rojo. You see, I soaked and cooked a pound of posole last week and even after using a lot of it in the Palak Posole and some more in a keema dish (recipe coming soon) I had a few cups left over. And as I also had a large package of pork neck bones in the freezer, it was hard to not end up making pozole. I’ve eaten a lot of pozole but have never made it before. Scanning the intertubes it didn’t seem like the hardest thing to do. What follows is an approximation/intersection of a number of recipes I looked at. If you want a more precise recipe (and with chicken rather than pork) you could do far worse than to look at the posole rojo recipe in the Rancho Gordo e-booklet on posole. Whatever recipe you use, the results are likely to be good. Continue reading

Rajma with Cauliflower

Yellow Indian Woman Beans w. Cauliflower
Between being in Delhi (and briefly, Hong Kong) and being back and reporting on meals in Delhi and Hong Kong it’s been a while since I posted a recipe. Here is one that is a riff on how I normally make rajma, or North Indian style red beans.

I don’t usually go about making rajma with cauliflower (though I have been known to make it with kale). This just sort of happened because I had some cauliflower in the fridge that was just beginning to brown and it needed to be used up. But the result was very good and so, like the kind and generous person I am, I am willing to share the recipe with you.

As always with my bean cooking this is made with my friend Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo beans, Yellow Indian Woman beans, to be exact. Not sure what’s going on with the name of that bean but it’s an excellent bean and very well suited for rajma style preps as it holds its shape well and the pot liquor does well with spices.   Continue reading

White Bean Stew with Pork and Squash

White Bean Stew with Pork and Squash
I’m a little fuzzy on where the line between soup and stew is or on what basis it is drawn. I do know that it’s hard to go wrong cooking pork and beans together. Here they are joined by sweet cubes of butternut squash and only a few other ingredients to create a hearty and heartwarming bowl that’s perfect for cold Minnesota winters or pretty much any other day of the year, anywhere. In terms of flavours I would say that it’s Mexican-inspired and I’d hazard that if you were served this in a contemporary Mexican restaurant you wouldn’t think it was out of place.

As with all my bean cooking, this employs my friend Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo beans. I made this with Alubia Blanca, a small white bean from his Xoxoc Project, a very worthy endeavour. I think the white beans give the dish a nice range of colours but you can make it with any other bean with similar texture: for example, Yellow Indian WomanContinue reading

Chickpea-Potato “Chaat”

Chickpea-Potato Chaat
On Thursday I posted a recipe for a simple tamarind chutney. Here now is a recipe that it plays a central role in. You can make the chutney while the components of this one cook and it’s very easy to pull the final dish together. This has all the flavours of chaat—I put the word in quotes because it’s not a classic chaat; you might just as easily think of it as a chickpea-potato salad with Indian flavours. It will feed two as a main dish and 4-6 as a first course or snack. As always, I use Rancho Gordo garbanzo beans which require no soaking, cook incredibly quickly anyway and have a wonderful sweet taste and great texture. If you’re using chickpeas from some other source you will have to adjust the cooking time to their reality; if you are using canned chickpeas please don’t tell me about it. Continue reading

Red Bean Curry with Coconut Milk

Red Bean Curry with Coconut Milk
I buy a lot of different kinds of beans from Rancho Gordo* but when it comes to Indian preparations I’ve been sort of stuck in variations on this rajma theme; and I generally end up using the same subset of beans in them. This time around I wanted to break out of my bean-profiling ways and make something Indian with a bean I hadn’t used for that purpose before; and I wanted to make it in a way in which I hadn’t cooked beans before. When I looked into the pantry I saw a packet of Rancho Gordo Scarlet Runner beans making eyes at me. It’s a gorgeous bean and I wanted to make it in a way that would show off its dramatic size and colour. Right next to the beans was a box of coconut milk, and inspiration struck: I’d make a vaguely Kerala-style curry/stew with coconut milk and curry leaves. It turned out rather well, Herewith the recipe.  Continue reading

Pork and Beans, Indian Style

Pork and Beans
Here’s a bonus recipe that is probably also the easiest recipe I will ever post. This is because it assumes that you have already made this pork. All you then have to do is cook some beans and at the very end add 3-4 ladles of the pork to the bean pot and simmer it all together till the beans are done. What you are basically doing here is adding the spiced pork as a “tadka” to the almost-cooked beans. As always, I use heirloom beans from my friend Steve’s company, Rancho Gordo but, obviously, any good beans will do—and you want to be cooking good beans because you want good pot liquor to add the dry pork to. And frankly there are no beans in the US better than Rancho Gordo beans.

In this recipe I used Rancho Gordo’s monstrously large Royal Corona beans—when fully cooked each bean is almost as large as a tablespoon—but this will work just as well with any beans that are good for pork and beans (such as Rancho Gordo’s Red Nightfall or Sangre de Toro). That said, I prefer a milder bean like the Royal Corona because its pot liquor/broth allows the flavour of the spiced pork to come through clearly (their Cassoulet or Alubia Criollos would be great too). But see what works for you. Continue reading

Ghugni: Chickpeas in a Bengali Style

Ghugni
Following my “Indian Home Cooking Week“, just a one-off recipe this week. [And see here for the second edition of “Indian Home Cooking Week”; and here for all my cooking posts so far.]

This one is for a take on a classic Bengali dish with chickpeas/garbanzo beans called ghugni. Ghugni is one of those rare dishes that is both a popular street food and made at home. It can be found year round but is often made in homes on the last day of Durga Pujo—the week-long celebration that is the Bengali religious/cultural festival (imagine Christmas, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, the Oscars and the Super Bowl all rolled into one but communal, public, louder and with more food). This has always been a popular dish with everyone I’ve made it for and it’s supremely adaptable.

As with almost all my bean cooking I don’t really bother with anything but Rancho Gordo’s garbanzo beans (disclosure: Rancho Gordo proprietor Steve Sando is a pal). They cook implausibly fast, are incredibly sweet and the pot liquor is great. Continue reading

Rajma: Beans in a North Indian Style

[Update, 12/9/2015: As I got a big kick out of posting this recipe, and the one that followed for turkey koftas, I’ve decided to make Indian home cooking a regular part of this blog. In fact, next week (starting December 15) will be Indian home cooking week with recipes every day for everything from breads and pickles to dals, vegetable dishes, fish and chicken.]

Rajma with Rancho Gordo San Franciscano Beans

Rajma with Rancho Gordo San Franciscano Beans

If it weren’t bad enough that this whisky blog now features weekly restaurant reviews here’s my first foray into cooking posts. Soon I’ll expand to regular reports featuring my vegetable garden (I’ll have updated pictures of the foot of snow it’ll be under for the next five months); parenting advice (Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom is not a family film); and my crucial fashion insights (the Nehru jacket is coming back, y’all!). It’s going to be so much fun!

Anyway, I’ve been an annoying food person for much longer than I’ve been an annoying whisky person. I’ve been discussing food online far longer than I’ve been discussing whisky (before the rise of food blogs, back when food forum wars were a serious thing—I was part of the second eGullet purge; “eGullet what?”, you say; exactly.) I’m also a prolific cook—other than a meal or two out on the weekend all our meals are home-cooked, and as my wife has a much longer commute than I do most of it is cooked by me. I have a pretty wide repertoire cuisine-wise but let’s face it nobody wants anything but Indian recipes from an Indian. And so here is yet another axis along which I can inflict myself on the world (though my old food forum friends will see this only as a return). Continue reading