By: Jennifer Steinhauer
More dinners with friends! More testing the recipes that have been sitting in the yellow folder since before my now college-bound son was born! More dishes made with the now-outdated Instant Pot pressure cooker! Face more fears: I will master marrow soup!
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Before embarking on new culinary odysseys, you must take charge of the spice drawer. It’s hard to deal with dehydrated and wilted herbs and spices, especially those you brought back from your trip to Mexico, for example, those that you wrapped in a pile of dirty clothes in the hope of fooling the customs dog, which in reality He wasn’t interested in your oregano.
Stale spices, unlike spoiled yogurt or moldy cheese, feel in some ways like failures, a reminder of big culinary dreams. that you failed to fulfill the previous year. However, you must smell them and accept that you will have to throw some away. Then you can reorganize them and evaluate the remaining ones.
I suggest you empty all your remaining spices into containers of the same size and label them with masking tape and marker. Cabinet organization is the courtship in that part of the New Year’s relationship with your kitchen, the exciting and hopeful process of discovery, the seductive dance with dried mushroom powder before the prosaic reality of everyday life takes its toll. triumphant entrance.
It’s time to start cooking with the still fragrant, but perhaps overly plentiful, spices that survived the cleaning. Do this before they lose their vigor and join the lemon peels and egg shells in the compost bin. For me, those spices include garam masala, caraway seeds (also called fennel or meadow cumin), cumin, sumac, and herbes de Provence.
After carefully reading some of the most exciting cookbooks ever published In recent years looking for easier ways to use my spices, I discovered many strangely healthy options that turned out to be delicious.
If you too have leftover garam masala (and coriander and cumin), I recommend the recipe for cauliflower, cashews, peas and coconut curry from Meera Sodha’s lovely cookbook Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen . It’s honestly one of the best vegan recipes I’ve ever tried and it’s also perfect as a weeknight dinner starter, especially if, like me, you tend to pressure others into chopping cauliflower, perhaps with the suggestive comment of that you’ve folded the last eleven loads of clean laundry.
I replaced the chili powder with a good splash of hot sauce with quite favorable results. The cashews are the icing on the cake, and the flavors, which you selected from your now clean pantry, overlap and are very pleasant.
To use up some of the sumac, I turned to my friend Cathy Barrow’s latest book, Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies, but took a big shortcut: The version of the sumac-scented eggplant tart featured in her book involves a phyllo dough. (a kind of puff pastry typical of the Middle East, Turkey and the Balkans) that I immediately overlooked.
Instead, I reduced the amount of olive oil for sautéing the garlic, so I wouldn’t have to brush it over the pie crust, and cooked the eggplant and tomatoes as directed in the recipe., but I added a can of chickpeas to add a little protein. I completed it with something that I almost always have leftovers: the remainder of a jar of pomegranate molasses.
Even though this is all supposed to go on the cake, my dish went straight to the bowl as a garnish., although it is also delicious as a main dish on a bed of rice with yogurt and chopped herbs, and tastes even better the next day. Crustless pie pieces forever! (Also, excluding yogurt is another plus for vegan friends, but I swear all this healthy living is almost always involuntary.)
And then, What to do with all the Provençal herbs that I’m sure I didn’t buy to begin with? I have a vague memory of a cousin cooking Brussels sprouts last summer, in a way I’ve never repeated. Maybe.
First of all, I indulged in the book Let’s Eat France!, by François-Régis Gaudry, which does not correspond to the traditional concept of a cookbook, and is rather a great celebration of all things that concern the purchasing, preparation and consumption of French food. This book made me ignore my entire family and the clingy cockapoo (“Am I the only one who can walk the dog in this house?”), as I spent much of a Saturday afternoon watching a full page photograph of knives from the historic French provincesand another afternoon reading the history of pickles.
In the end, I baked the semi-baked chocolate cake that appears in the bookbut I didn’t find a use for my Provençal herbs.
I decided to revisit my own recipe for boneless, skinless breasts for a weeknight. The recipe (which is as improvised as the refrigerator shelves at the end of the week allow) uses all the herbs that are growing abundantly on my porch this summer, perhaps thanks to the large amount of rain. With what little was left on the porch, besides the stubborn rosemary and some sage trying not to look down, my spice drawer had to come to the rescue.
After putting salt and pepper on the breasts, I put them inside a plastic bag with a little white wine, olive oil, a few cloves of garlic and a ton of herbes de Provence, and I let them marinate all day before cooking them on the stove for a quick after-work dinner.
The dried herbs worked very well, although I was quite bold with the quantities. Next time, I’ll put less in it and then spend most of February finding another use for the remaining herbs.