Wehani and wild rice stew with cremini mushrooms, winter squash, and kale

January 27, 2012 at 11:24 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, soup, Winter recipes)

The main seasonings in this stew are fresh ginger,  sage, and soy sauce—an unusual combination.  The recipe is from the winter section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast.  The instructions say to cook the wehani (a dark red rice) and the wild rice in a pressure cooker.  I don’t have apressure cooker so I just cooked them for longer in a regular pot.  Otherwise I followed the recipe carefully, except I added my mushrooms much later than Berley suggests, since I wanted my mushrooms to be firmer.  This stew has a lot of vegetables in it:  onions, mushrooms, celery, a carrot, winter squash, and one bunch of kale.  After sauteing all the aromatics you add the squash chunks and simmer them til almost tender, then the sauteed veggies and the raw kale are added to the pot with the rice, and simmered until the kale is tender.  You’re supposed to garnish the stew with toasted pumpkin seeds.

My stew didn’t turn out very stew-like.  I think of a stew as chunky soup with a really thick liquid base.  But this stew was more like lots of veggies in a little bit of broth.  I used butternut squash, and the pieces seemed to either alternately undercooked or totally following apart.   Maybe it would have been more stew-like if I had cooked the squash longer, so all the squash pieces were falling apart?  Certainly the rice didn’t add much of a stew-like quality.  That said, I liked the recipe.  It was a bit of a surprise (but not unpleasant) when I bit into a round of sliced ginger!  (Berley never says to take the ginger out, so I imagine you’re supposed to eat it?) I added extra sage but didn’t really notice it in stew.  The stew didn’t really have a distinctive flavor.  It just tasted earthy and like vegetables.  But it made a pleasant (if not very filling) dinner on a cold winter night.  I wouldn’t rush to make it again, but if I had all the ingredients lying around, I would certainly consider it.  But I’d probably add more liquid to make it more of a soup.

Berley  pairs this recipe with a romaine salad, but I think it would be better paired with a dish with a bit more protein, to make the meal more filling.

Rating: B

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Spicy coconut sweet potato soup with collard greens

January 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm (East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, soup, Starches, Winter recipes)

This is another coconut curry with winter vegetables, but this one is from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and I actually made it a few weeks before the recipe I just posted about.  Unlike McDermott’s recipe, this one doesn’t call for curry paste. Instead you add the seasonings individually—garlic, jalapeno, ginger, ground coriander seeds, and turmeric. McDermott has you saute the curry paste and onion in some of the coconut milk, but Berley calls for 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Given that there’s a whole can of coconut milk in the recipe, I think I’d use McDermott’s method next time.  The previous recipe called for mixed winter vegetables, but this one calls for only one large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks.  Berley doesn’t give a weight for the sweet potato, but he does say that once cut it’s supposed to make 4 cups.  That seems like a large sweet potato! Towards the end of cooking Berley’s recipe calls for 1 small bunch of collards greens cut into strips.  I can’t get collards here, so I subbed in curly kale.  The final step in the recipe is to garnish the stew with cilantro and lime juice.

The soup was paired with a recipe for crispy tempeh strips. The combination sounds good but I couldn’t get myself to deep-fry tempeh. It just seems like such a waste of oil!

Neither Derek nor I cared for this dish very much.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se—it just tasted underseasoned. And unfortunately the kale wasn’t a good substitute for the collards.  I guess kale just doesn’t go with these southeast Asian flavors.  Although we didn’t like the dish that much, we had a guest over for dinner who quite enjoyed it.  He said he doesn’t normally like coconut curries, but this one was excellent!

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

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Red curry with winter vegetables and cashews

January 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Seitan, soup, Starches, Winter recipes)

Back in Pittsburgh I used to make this recipe several times each winter.  This dish has all four essential Thai tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. It tastes just like the curry you’d get in a restaurant, except the addition of vegetable broth results in a lighter dish that’s less overwhelmingly rich. The crunchy cashews make a nice textural contrast to the silky broth and creamy-soft vegetables.  Based on a recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai. Read the rest of this entry »

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