All Together Now: Dips Make Everything Better

I’m still heavy into my ad-hoc Indian cooking phase. I visited an Indian grocer in Takoma Park, Maryland and brought home a new slew of ingredients: hot curry powder, coriander powder, ghee, hing, paneer and masoor dal. I went right home to cook, trying to perfect a no-recipe-necessary dal palak. I had a vegan friend coming over so I skipped the ghee, but added all of my new spices. I still couldn’t find the necessary depth, but it’s an improvement over the last. However, when I whipped the lentils into a dip for the next day’s party, it turned out perfectly.

Dal Palak Dip

 

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Get Your Ass to an Indian Grocery Store

Get your ass to an Indian grocery store. I can’t even pretend to start this post with a cute little intro. You just need to find one, budget an hour plus of browsing time, and thank me later. The store will amaze you with its aisles of spices and spice blends, varieties of dal and boxes and boxes of in-minutes dinners. I’ve never purchased a Lean Cuisine but for some reason I thought it was perfectly acceptable to buy boil-in-a-bag, ready-in-2-minute versions of palak paner (spinach and cheese), chana masala (chickpeas in tomato sauce), dal makhani (creamy black dal) and paner makhani (cheese in a cashew cream sauce). I haven’t tried them yet, as I’m saving them for a night I can’t bare to cook.

In the meantime, another purchase inspired me to actually cook. And my about-to-expire Greek yogurt became the perfect addition to my almost-Indian dinner.

And don’t worry, I’ll try to stop my love-of-the-dash current obsession for the recipe portion of this post.

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The Garnish Debate: Call Me a Rebel

As a little kid I remember parsley garnishes mystifying me. Why did curly greens occupy so much space on my plate—and it’s not even Passover?

But the parsley garnish, for garnish sake, no longer visits our tables. Instead, garnishes spring from what’s in the dish, if a dish is garnished at all. Use cilantro in a sauce, use cilantro as a garnish. Use kumquat in a cupcake, use a kumquat slice as garnish.

David Rocco of Cooking Channel‘s Dolce Vita reiterated this fact in a recent episode, refusing to add a leafy green to top a pasta dish since the dish did not contain it. Instead he cracked fresh pepper on top, silently communicating his heavy usage of pepper in the dish.

Rocco’s commandment popped in my head as I decorated a sweet potato and lentil soup with black mustard seeds.

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Top 10 New Foods We Ate in 2010

With another year gone it’s time to look back and reflect on all the deliciousness that was. Here are the top ten new dishes the Endless Simmer team was lucky enough to stuff in our mouths over the past 12 months.

10. Fried Peanut Butter, Banana and Bourbon Sandwich

breslin peanut butter and banana

Breakfast at The Breslin in New York is about as ridiculously delectable as it gets. In their modern update on The Elvis sandwich, peanut butter, banana, bourbon and vanilla are all goo-ily encased in a fried-til-crispy puffed skin. (Photo: gsz)

9. Sustainable Sushi

sustainable sushi

Sushi is the modern foodie’s last major guilt trip — a dish that just can’t be done locally, sustainably, or ethically. Or is it? At Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut chef Bun Lai is turning the sushi CW on its head, proving it can be just as tasty and exciting when overfished species like unagi and bluefin are replaced with sustainable, North American fish. If there’s one new food idea that turns into a 2011 trend, we hope it’s this.

8. Burrata Everywhere

burrata

This revelatory cheese wasn’t invented in 2010 (try 1920) but this was the year we saw the Italian delicacy pop up on menus all across America. Fresh curds of buffalo milk mozzarella are stirred into salted cream and kneaded and pulled until they take on a gloriously goopy texture that makes all other mozz look like lifeless balls of nothing. Burrata is such a perfect cheese that only a sliver of bread and a touch of olive oil are needed to make it a meal. The quality varies place to place, but we sampled particularly tasty versions at Roman’s in Brooklyn and The Lake Chalet in Oakland. You? (Photo: Chiara Lorè)

7. The Mighty Cone

the mighty cone

The Austin, Texas food truck scene is one of the most heralded in the nation, and this local ready-to-eat-on-the-street treat is the one we’re most hoping to see go national. At this year-old trailer, a tortilla cone is filled with cornflake-almond-chili-crusted chicken tenders, fried avocado, mango-jalapeno slaw and ancho sauce. The ice cream cone is dead. Long live the chicken cone.
(Photo: The Mighty Cone)

6. Malaysian BBQ

fatty cue

Usually by the time a budding chef-lebrity opens their third restaurant, they’re churning out a watered down, assembly line version of what made them famous. Not so for Zak Pelaccio, who branched out this year with Fatty Cue, a Brooklyn restaurant that ingeniously fuses traditional southeast Asian flavors into classic BBQ dishes. The never gimmicky menu ranges from heritage pork ribs in smoked fish-palm syrup and Indonesian long pepper to Manila claims swimming in bone broth with barbecued bacon and chili. (Photo: Fatty Cue)

Next: Top 5 New Foods We Ate in 2010

Gridiron Grub: Say it ain’t Samosa

800px-Samosa_1

If you have been following this series you know it is for those of us that are just slightly snobby when it comes to food but still love the flavors and feel of tailgating. I must apologize though, because we are in week 10 of the NFL season and I have not suggested a single dish for the large population of vegetarians who read ES. To be fair, football is pretty carnivore-centric: stadiums and tailgaters produce and consume huge amounts of all  sorts of grilled meats; football terms like pigskin, alligator arms, wing formation, wishbone and meathead abound, and yet I felt bad for my oversight and thought I would make amends this week to all of our vegetarian friends.

Every culture has their own way of making a pocket of bread and filling it with all sorts of tasty goodness, whether vegan, pescatarian, freegan, flexitarian or unitarian. A samosa is a stuffed pastry popular in parts of Asia and Africa. I have had delicious versions with peas, lentils, ground chicken/beef and a whole lot more, but it is a dish most people do not tackle ( I was shocked to see that even ES hadn’t touched on the subject before). So here’s my take on one of the original hot pockets:

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Thank You Uno: Chicken Tikka Masala Officially Jumps the Shark

uno

Chicken tikka masala already wins as the most inauthentic Indian dish of all time. The BBC calls it “synonymous with: breakdown in traditional British values and rise of multi-cultural Britain,” as it’s been crowned “Britian’s true national dish,” having been created there in the mid-20th Century.

In the United States we find this dish only at Indian restaurants and some UK-inspired pubs aggressively trying for authenticity. But that’s where the CTM deliciousness ends. Right?

That’s until I read about Uno’s “complete menu revamp.” Because of the volume of press releases sent to my inbox, I barely ever read all of them, especially when I have no interest in the subject matter. Now, I don’t have an interest in Uno’s, as it was my least favorite pizza chain (even over the despised Pizza Hut), but I was curious about how radically a pizza place’s menu could actually change.

The press release first mentioned a farro salad. I get this addition: ancient grains are having a serious moment and are seen as healthy, plus farro is deeply connected to Italy, as is Uno’s main draw, pizza.

But then it comes. Chicken Tikka Masala will join the cast with deep dish pizza and Rattlesnake pasta. I’m afraid chicken tikka masala now joins salted caramel (Uno also unveils a bread pudding with salty caramel sauce) as completely overexposed and a sure sign that a restaurant is totally fucking desperate with zero original ideas.

Original Jump the Shark (and its defender!)

Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week

tomatosalad

Matthew weighs in on the surprisingly difficult debate about how to make kale chips:

As a private chef, I’ve been cooking for some vegan yogis lately, and they freak over kale. 350 degrees, SINGLE LAYER in the pan, 10-11 min. Totally dry leaves before you start, just a little bit of oil, salt & pepper and you should be good to go. That is, if you ever want to try it again.

-While VeggieBoss is kind enough to share some secrets of dal:

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