Tag Archive: Cilantro

  1. Sweet Potato Samosas

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    When the moon is out and fog hugs the city limits, the trails of airplanes — the steam, smoke, whatever it is they leave behind — appears black against the night sky. Have you seen this before? It’s stunning. Haunting.

    Driving home from the movies a few nights ago, I motioned to Shaun to pull over and look at the moon in this state, the way the black line lingering up there in the sky divided it in two. We parked the car in front a dark driveway and stared, silently. “Do you think it’s an asteroid headed for Earth?” I asked. Shaun laughed, “I think it’s a plane, and, I think you’re beautiful.”

    It is December now, and I am reminded by the twinkling lights on houses that guide my bike rides home at night that life can be messy and confusing and still be knock-your-socks-off-magnificent. My life is so abundant, fuller and richer than any young woman could possibly deserve in a lifetime. Tough days seem selfish, trite, ignorant. I wake some nights gasping for breath, stunned at my blessings and overwhelmed with a sense of duty to repay the world with duplicate affection for all it has given me.

    A new friend asked me the other day, “seems like you’e working too hard at this stuff, is it all worth fighting for?” The answer was (and is) YES. Yes and always yes. The good is always worth fighting for. There isn’t much I feel like I know for sure about this world but this, fighting for the good stuff, I can assure. The moments parked in front of dark driveways discussing asteroids and planes and the moon and love and life and death and who we are and why we’re here and how desperately we just want to do it right – these moments will always be worth fighting for.

    Sweet Potato Samosas (baked, not fried!) 

    Adapted from Saveur

    • Dough:
    • 1½ cups flour
    • 8 tsps water or buttermilk
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
     
    • Filling:
    • 2 tbsp coconut oil
    • 1 sweet onion, minced
    • 2 tbsp. minced cilantro
    • 1 (1″) piece ginger, peeled and minced
    • juice of 3 fresh lemons
    • ½ tsp. ground coriander
    • 1 tsp. garam masala
    • ½ tsp. ground cumin
    • ⅛ tsp. cayenne
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes cut into ¼” cubes
    • 2-3 cups veggie stock
    • sea salt, to taste
     
    • Chutney:
    • 3½ cups tightly packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
    • 1 cup tightly packed mint leaves, finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    • ¾ cup greek yogurt
    • salt to taste

    Preheat the oven for 450.’ In a large bowl with measured flour, cut in shavings of butter using a paring knife. Rub together flour and butter until the dough becomes crumbly. Add in water or buttermilk and mix with hands until the dough starts coming together. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until elastic. Cover and set aside.

    For the filling: Heat oil in a  skillet over then add onion, and cook until lightly browned. Add sweet potatoes and 1 cup of broth and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice, coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne, salt and a cup more of broth. Simmer for another 10 minutes until potatoes soften, adding more stock as needed as the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat to cool.

    Divide dough into 10 golf-ball sized rounds and cover with a towel. On a lightly floured work surface using a rolling pin, roll 1 dough ball into a 6″ round. Cut in half. Here’s the part I’m going to quote from Saveur, the instructions are just too good: “Gather straight edges of 1 half-round together, overlapping them by ¼” to form a cone; moisten seam with water and press to seal. Spoon 1 heaping tbsp. filling into cone. Moisten inside of top edge of cone with water, press edges together to close top of cone, and pinch along top ¼” of seam to completely seal filling in dough cone. Pleat length of seam by folding over about ¼” of the dough and pinching it together in about ½” increments. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling to make 20 pastries total. Set filled pastries aside.”

    Bake Samosas for 15 minutes on one side, turn and bake for another 5. Remove when both sides are lightly browned.

    For the chutney: Place cilantro, mint, lemon juice, and yogurt in a blender. Purée until smooth.

  2. To Be Free

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    We’re here now. With roof, and kitchen. Community. Plans for a garden. It is a wonder to me now that we resisted the temptation to carry on as gypsies forever. The further we let ourselves drift away from the clutter and noise of reality, the more absurd the conventions of our lives always seem to appear. The open road and an empty agenda make few demands of a person – curiousity, patience, willingness, a sense of humor, maybe a toothbrush. Tall grasses, mountains, and the wind gently whisper permission to step out from the rigid set of ideas, requirements, expectations we’ve set for ourselves and make space for new truths and new understandings of what our purpose is on this planet.

    It’s easy to romanticize the freedom of it all – no sense of time, place, before, or after. And it’s important. To leave, to get away, to lose oneself to it all. But I think it’s also important to come back. There is an even more profound freedom to be experienced when we recognize that we have the power to create that same sense of adventure, inhibition, and joy in our daily lives. That is my intention. To let myself be free everyday. Wherever I am, wherever I go, wherever I don’t.

    Thank you for your love, kindness, and support over the past month as we’ve meandered to our new resting place here in Colorado. Cheers to the next chapter.

    * Open fire scramble technique borrowed from “Cooking in the Moment” by Andrea Reusing.
    * *  Video shot in our favorite parts of Alaska. For more behind the scenes action on our Alaska visit, see here
  3. Fits and Starts + Chard, White Bean & Tamarind Stew

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    Fall arrives in fits and starts in here in San Diego. Friday was a tease with its grey skies, cool breeze, and invitation for thinking books and black coffee. Sun, shorts, and summer squash on Sunday — September keeps us wanting. My creative process follows suit. Ideas come and go, passing through me before I have time to bottle them up or at least find a working pen.

    I bought a sketchbook at the end of summer, it was on sale at the art store and at the time I had these great intentions of writing everyday; “creativity for creativity’s sake.” I was inspired by a recent feature Shaun and I had collaborated on about a new friend, colleague who encouraged “artists need to be creative for the sake of it, not for work, but because it’s who you are.” Agree. So does Julia Cameron, who insists on a practice of writing every day, among other things, to “recover creativity, as it is the natural expression and direction of life.” It’s been three weeks, and that sketchbook is barely filled with the caught inspiration, captured realizations, or daydreams like I envisioned.

    I love, and fully one hundred and fifty percent believe in the practice of “creativity for creativity’s sake,” but as Elizabeth Gilbert, writer, says in her ’09 TED Talk, it can’t always account for “the utter maddening capriciousness of the creative process, a process which everyone who has ever tried to make something knows doesn’t behave rationally, and sometimes seems downright paranormal.”

    Case in point, Shaun and I saw Bon Iver this past weekend, and in the middle of a solo set the creative rain comes like a flood and I have nowhere to put it in the dark, musty auditorium. Vernon is singing, I am completely in the present moment, engrossed, emotional, and the ideas come a’knocking. WTF, creativity? I needed you a few days ago. I can’t deal with you right now.

    We have to be okay with that. Part of being creative for creativity’s sake is not documenting it, saving it for later, making it a practice. Let it just be. A thing that comes, at random, irrationally, and reminds you that it’s there and that it will come back because it always does . Let the creativity just be there for the sake of it, even if it’s stuck in your head or heart and can’t be rendered “useful.” Perhaps this is the extended meaning of being creative for the sake of it. Feeling it. Enjoying it. Not having to go anywhere with it. Just letting it affirm our sometimes maddening humanness.

    Fall will come in San Diego. Eventually. It will fake us out for a while. And it may feel inconvenient when it does make an appearance because we’ll be wearing shorts and sandals. But heck. Let it come when it does. The sketchbook will be there, and if it doesn’t get love everyday, there will be times later when I’ll be glad I have all the extra pages. I think. I hope.

    White Bean, Tamarind, Chard Stew with several adaptions from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chickpea Stew in Plenty 

    • 4 tbsp seedless tamarind pulp
    • 1 bunch (stalks and leaves) Swiss chard
    • 2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
    • 3 tsp caraway seeds
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 lbs roma or plum tomatoes
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 2 cups freshly cooked cannelli beans
    • handful of fresh cilantro
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 cups short-grain brown rice, cooked with a tsp of olive oil
    Soak dry beans overnight, and cook for 45 minutes before you plan to get started. Alternatively, you could use canned, but I discourage it – BPA, the same stuff we’re on the watch for in water bottles is found in tin can linings. While you’re cooking the beans, put on the rice too.
    Okay, now we can start. Whist the tamarind with 3 tbsp of water until it dissolves into a paste. Set aside. Place chopped onion and caraway seeds in a large pan with olive oil and saute on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, honey, beans, ground coriander, cumin, chard, and a bit of salt and pepper. Strain the tamarind water through a fine mesh strainer over the pan. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. If you like a more soup-y stew, add a bit more water. If you prefer a thicker stew, remove the lid to let the steam evaporate. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    When you’re ready to serve, spoon rice into a shallow bowl, creating crater in the center. Put a ladle or two over the rice, and top with fresh cilantro.

  4. Seeking

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    I should start thinking up some creative responses to the question I’ve been getting lately, “what are your plans for the future?” It would be so liberating to ditch the glossy answer and say something unexpected  like “I want to be a good friend,” or “I’d like to learn to play the guitar.” Although a few years ago I would have had told you exactly what I’d be doing after I graduate, today the plans are looking a lot more fluid. And to be honest, I kinda like it.  I’m a seeker; a person who is in a constant state of inquiry and exploration of self and the world around me. My formal education will end soon but the search won’t stop when I have a fancy diploma to hang on the wall. I’ll find something good that may lead to something else that’s good, leaving myself open to new plans, places, and people. Maybe I should tell people my plans are “to keep seeking.” 

    Everyone is a seeker in his or her own way, I think. We are concerned about understanding people, place, time, experience and will exert at least some degree of effort trying to develop that understanding further. We seek truth, in many different forms – greater truth, simple truth, and other truths individual to our unique human experience. In the process, we are constantly absorbing ideas, information, and energy to process, accept, reject, or reconsider later. Seeking is both incredibly exciting and exhausting. Throughout the course of our lives, we will find ourselves confident in and frustrated with the vast amounts of input we try so hard to process.

    I’ll try and get to the point. For most seekers, the more we begin to see of the world and the more information and experiences we collect in the pursuit of truth, the more we realize just how little of a clue we have at all about what “it all” means. If this sounds cryptic, it’s not meant to be.  I guess I’m just trying to elaborate on that catchy chorus of that Michael Franti radio hit “it seems like everywhere I go / the more I see / the less I know.” We seek to seek. To learn, grow, change habits, try new things. We don’t shouldn’t seek just to find answers. There are no concrete answers. Unless you’re into math I guess. Insight comes in waves and the sets roll in larger at some points in our lives than others. The “answers” are glimmers, flashes, and wonderings that are arrive then disappear for us to find again later.

    We’re not supposed to get “it.” And this time I’m being deliberately vague. “It” is the different thing we each seek from our unique view of the world at a single moment. If there were an instructional manual to seeking, I would say this should be the first order of business to address. You won’t always understand, and that’s okay. Second order of business then is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of the things you don’t understand. This is true for all things, be they about the future, health, relationships, culture, religion, etc. It is our animal instinct to resist the things that we aren’t familiar with. Fight that. Fight it with every fiber of your being. I’m not talking about intuition. Keep that flame a’glowin’ but try hard to embrace those things you don’t understand, seek them more, for it is in these areas that we resist that we most likely still need to develop our purpose.

    Let’s keep seeking.

    Warm Green Millet Salad 

    Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Green Couscous in Plenty. (He is basically a genius)

    • 1 cup millet  (or couscous)
    • 3 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
    • 1 carton green figs
    • 4-5 cups baby arugula
    • 1 head italian parsley
    • 1 head cilantro
    • 1/4 cup tarragon
    • 1/4 cup mint
    • 1/4 + cup olive oil
    Place the millet in a saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the onion in olive oil on medium heat until golden and soft. Add the salt and cumin, mix well, and move around the onions over high heat until just browned. Set aside.

    For the “green” part of this dish, prepare the herb paste by placing all four herb greens and the olive oil into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add this to the cooked millet, and mix together well with a fork to fluff it up. Add the cooked onion, pistachios, figs, and arugula and mix until consistent. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

  5. Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa

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    Rick Bayless knows salsa. Alice Waters calls him a “brilliant teacher with an inexhaustible curiosity about authentic Mexican cooking.” I couldn’t agree more. Looking for another way to use up the piles of tomatoes I have around the kitchen, I turned to In The Green Kitchen (techniques to learn by heart), where Bayless describes the simple and delicious way to serve up heirlooms and tomatillos. I combined the two, added some mango, and served it on everything from salad, cumin roasted garbanzo beans, and zucchini noodles.

    Some of you might be thinking, wait – what’s a tomatillo again? I did a little digging online and found a great explanation from a site called Vegetarians in Paradise… (cute, right?)

    “Tomatillos earn their diminutive name by their petite size that varies from that of a cherry tomato to one of a small tomato. What makes them unique in appearance is their paperlike cellulose husk covering that resembles the shape of a small green lantern that hangs downward from the bushy, annual plant on which it grows. Inside the protective husk is a smooth, plump, firm variety of tomato that is usually picked green. When fully ripened, they are actually yellow, but these are rarely brought to market. The husks turn a greenish brown when the fruit is losing its freshness.With their dense, highly seeded interior, tomatillos burst with a distinctive tart, lemony flavor that makes them the perfect ingredient in Mexican dishes like fresh salsa.

    The highly nutritional aspects of tomatillos may surprise you. One medium raw tomatillo contains only 11 calories, yet it packs 91 mg. of potassium. That same little fruit contains 4 mg. of vitamin C, 2.4 mg of calcium, 2.38 mg. of folic acid, and 39 IU of vitamin A. Imagine the benefits if you include several in your recipe.”

    Roasted Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

    Adapted from Rick Bayless, In the Green Kitchen (Waters)

    • 3 large garlic cloves
    • 4 ripe heirloom tomatoes
    • 6-7 small tomatillos
    • 1 medium sized sweet onion
    • salt
    • 2 limes
    • 1 bunch of cilantro
    • 1 mango

    Remove skins from tomatillos and give them a vigorous wash. Core the tomatoes and tomatillos and cut them into quarters and 1/8 slices/chunks. Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Add the garlic (skins on) and tomatoes and tomatillos and cook for 10 minutes until they soften and brown. When tender, remove from heat.

    Squeeze garlic out of the skins, and pour roasted mixture into a mortar or large bowl. Mash the mixture into a “mush.” Peel and finely dice the onion, put in a strainer, and rinse in cold water to crisp the onion and take away some of the raw bite. Stir in onion, chopped cilantro, and chopped mango chunks. Season with salt and lime juice.

     

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I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.