L’Shana Tovah! Happy new year! No, it’s not suddenly January; it’s the Jewish New Year- year 5772- Rosh Hashanah. One of the best things about it is that I get to talk with my cousin K. in Israel (of cake fame) each year. We talk more than once a year, of course, but we always talk on Rosh Hashanah and Passover. We compare the dinners we made and how many people we had. It’s a nice way of staying connected.
We had our big dinner last night and so many good friends and family were in attendance. I cooked for three days leading up to it and managed to get everything on the tables at the right time. With the exception of the apple crisp for dessert. I put it in the oven to heat up, put the other desserts on the table and promptly forgot about it. As a result, we now have a large pan of apple crisp that is, while not burned, deeply browned. It’s actually delicious but I’m sorry that I didn’t get to share it.
Unlike years past, my house was not clean. This year, due to the full-time job and toddler, we had to choose between yummy food and a clean house. The food won, of course. Also unlike years (and meals) past, I was unable to photograph as I went- something about juggling the food and a toddler did not lend itself to photography. I’ll give you a run down of the menu, though, and a recipe I tried for last night (I know the adage, don’t make anything for the first time when company is coming- more on that later).
We started with Squash Soup (which I make every year). This year I roasted the squash in the oven before I added it to the soup- if you’re reading the recipe, put the butter and onions in the pan and when the onions have softened, add the roasted squash and continue as directed.
For the main meal we had steamed green beans, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, rice and an autumn vegetable curry.
The autumn vegetable curry is a recipe by Ellie Kriegar. It came in the mail with my annual happy new year letter from Jewish Woman International. I’m on their list because every mother’s day, I purchase bouquets through them in honor of my mother and mother-in-law. My mother and MIL don’t actually get the flowers, instead they get a card telling them that flowers were given in their honor to mothers living in domestic violence shelters. It’s a great program. Check it out here.
Anyway, I made this curry recipe and have to say it was great. I had doubts as I was making it because I made it over two days and when I tasted it at the end of day 1, it was bitter and awful. All I could think was, “This is why you don’t try something new when company is coming!” I consulted with cooking friends to see how to even it out and we decided that the acid from the lime would help. And I threw in a little sweet as well. By day two, when it made it to the table, the flavors had mellowed and it was smooth and comforting. Pretty healthy as well. I have the feeling this might make it into our winter dinner rotation. It takes a lot of initial prep- lots of vegetable chopping- but then it pretty much makes itself. From what I can tell, it also gets better over a day or two so it does seem like the perfect fall/winter weeknight meal.
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 length fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 cup light coconut milk (I used regular as it was what I had)
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into 1 1/2 inch florets (about 3 cups)
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
Grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (5 oz)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I did not use this. Why would you ever use cilantro? Blech.)
Put your onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and cayenne into the food processor and process until it’s all smooth. Add the oil and process again until you end up with a sort of smooth, paste-like consistency. Put this into a large pot on medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture darkens. Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper and let it boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and let it come back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and let it all simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick.
*this is the point where I stopped and put it in the fridge overnight. I also added a little bit of honey (maybe 1/8-1/4 of a cup) and a few teaspoons of sugar (maybe 3?) in a desperate attempt to do something about the bitter. I’m not sure if that really made a difference. I kept it overnight because I wasn’t serving until the next day. If you’re making to eat on the same day, just keep going.
Stir in the lime zest and juice, the chickpeas and the spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted, about five minutes. Check for seasoning again and you’re done. It’s good over rice. If you must use the cilantro leaves, sprinkle them as a garnish before serving. But don’t expect me to eat it.