Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Spice Must Flow

How big of a geek does it make me that this was the first title that occurred to me when I decided I needed to reference the spiciness of my meal somehow?

I started with the Smore Pizza.  I used two Pillsbury pizza crusts, which come in the thin tubes - and of course, with both, I was so ginger unraveling it that I had to pop the seam with the spoon.  I am so paranoid about these things blowing up in my hand.  This turned out to be the perfect amount of dough, though it's square rather than round.  If I made this recipe again, I wouldn't attempt to round it off (which I did here) - though it did make a convenient rim to hold all the ingredients on the pizza.

The cornmeal isn't necessary, or at least I didn't use it:  it's just an element to aid getting the pizza on the stone.  There seems to be a tremendous amount of graham in proportion to the melted butter, but when tossed into the pan, it seems to be just right.  Don't let the pan sit on the stove - it starts to burn almost immediately if not stirred through the three minute coking time.

I used a Ghiradelli chocolate bar and expected it to be too bitter, considering there's no other intrinsic sweetness added, but it seemed to be just right.  Broke it up into pieces over each pizza before slotting it into the oven.

The main difficulty with this recipe was getting the cooked pizza off the stone so I could prepare the second one ...

Final verdict (pizza):  This is amazingly good:  sweet, satisfying, and distinctly spicy with the cayenne and chili powder.  My only complaint is the graham topping rips up the roof of your mouth something terrible.  I recommend this as a group / party dish, as it's not quite as good warmed up.

Next, and a couple hours later, I started the mise en place for the two Indian dishes.  This involved a lot of peeling, chopping and boiling potatoes.  Had some trouble with the potatoes:  I boiled them, and they still didn't soften them all way!  Unfortunately, the skins came off when I handled them, and I was afraid they'd just disintegrate if I put them back in water, so I microwaved them for a bit.  Success! ... mostly.

The bean curry required asafoetida, which after it completely stunk up my pantry, I had wrapped in multiple plastic bags, in a plastic bottle, in the freezer.  This meant getting to it was an exercise in itself.  I was sort of terrified of the stuff.  When I was done, it went right back into the freezer.

(As an aside - used green cardamom rather than brown, seeing as I didn't want to spend eight bucks to get more spices to somehow find a place to keep ... and the grammar in that sentence needs to be taken out and shot.)

I did make one mistake in preparing the shepherd's pie:  I missed the line about when to add the spices, and they got in late, so they might not have melded quite as much.  Also, I found that the mixture didn't boil off as much as I had anticipated, and I wished I had used a slightly larger dish (9x9 glass was what I chose).  It ended up somewhat soupy and nearly over the edge.

While the pie baked, I entered the bean curry preparation in earnest.  I used the same pan and burner, which meant the mustard seeds had a blast bouncing all over the place while I frantically introduced the curry leaves.  (Curry leaves, this is mustard seeds.  Mustard seeds, this is curry leaves.  You all have fun now.)  Curry leaves really are interesting little critters.  They have a smoky smell I still haven't figured out how it can originate from an organic plant.

The curry simmers with the coconut milk and then with the beans and tomatoes.  I possibly should have mashed more of the beans to make a thicker curry, but I was quite satisfied with the results, regardless.  I got a bit over-enthusiastic with the tamarind paste, but the tartness is really to my taste.  I wouldn't mind more recipes using it.  Great stuff.

For once, everything went precisely as timed and was ready at exactly the same time.  Perfect planning.

Final verdict (shepherd's pie):  Thick, hearty - maybe a bit too soupy, but definitely worth trying again.  It's spicy enough, though not as deep as I had anticipated ... but I suspect that might have something to do with my introducing the spices a bit too late.

Final verdict (bean curry):  Absolutely addictive - subtly sweet, rich, subtle, the tang of coconut ... I wish I had made twice as much.  I could live on this.  Truly good.  I even enjoyed the tomatoes, and I'm not a tomato person.

No comments:

Post a Comment