Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Which I Try to Expand our Palates

Doesn't this just sound like a terrific ambition? I am trying to do two things with my weekly menus. 1. I'm trying to incorporate a meatless meal into every week. And 2. I'm trying to expose the family to new tastes and seasonings.

I went to my new favorite Chef, Lucinda Scala Quinn, for inspiration. She wrote this cookbook, Mad Hungry, that I received for Christmas last year. It's a great cookbook. I love her tips for making meals go further. She would know. She has three sons and she and her husband have raised them in New York City, no less. That cookbook has taught me new recipes as well as techniques for cooking the perfect rice (she's right) and also how to cook a whole chicken effortlessly (by far the most economical cut of chicken).

Anyways, back to meatless meals. I saw on the first page of her website Monday morning this recipe: Pumpkin Vegetable Curry Stew with Cornmeal Fritters.

I thought, "Hey, we don't hate pumpkin or curry. I'll give this one a shot." I put the ingredients on the shopping list and plowed ahead.

I liked it. Mati liked it. That was about it. During our pre-dinner prayer, Erik thanked God for my trying to open us up to new things, because if he was in charge "we'd be having hot dogs every night." Love him.

Erik is not crazy about stews without beef and it was too spicy for Reagan. Next time (if there is a next time) I may decrease the amount of curry. Thank goodness I didn't add any of the chilis! I was going to take a picture of how much stew was left in Erik's bowl, but I think one photo was about all I could manage.

So, it was good. I love that I instantly was able to blow my nose. Is that gross? I love clearing my sinuses with the aid of food. I mean, it's delicious and it serves a purpose. Yes!

I served the stew and the fritters separately, but then I ate the stew with the fritters, putting a little stew on the fritter and then taking a bite. That toned down the stew and also lent some flavor to the fritters.

Overall, I'm really glad I made this. It was way outside of our comfort zone. And to reward Erik's sense of adventure, I'm making his favorite meal tomorrow: Hamburgers with french fries.

I made the following substitutions.

1.) I substituted butternut squash for pumpkin. The pumpkins haven't quite arrived.
2.) I added no chilis. I had thought I would add some cayenne pepper rather than the Scotch Bonnet pepper. But I changed my mind with hand poised over the pot. I'm glad I did. However, I read that the Scotch Bonnet has a fruity taste, which may have added flavor in addition to heat. Might be worth a shot if you have no fear of heat. You can read about Scotch Bonnet peppers here.
3.) The Fritters: I halved the amount of onions. I wish I hadn't. The fried onions would have broken up the cornmeal better.
4.) I did use Coconut Milk. First time I've used this. I think you can substitute water if you don't want to make a special purchase.
5.) I used regular Idaho potatoes rather than try to find a green banana or an Irish potato. So, for the stew there were two potatoes.

I may try and make this once a year, just to keep things interesting around here. It can be so boring...

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