That was how I explained the Indian origin of this dish to my fiance’s roommate. Terrible, I know. Beth told me so, and I believe her.
I’ve never met a curry I didn’t like, but this dish was (almost) an exception. I made palak paneer (basically curried spinach with paneer cheese) from an excellent recipe a while back, but I never wrote down the recipe. I tell myself that I won’t forget good recipes, and so I don’t write them down. This is the wrong answer. So, I needed a decent recipe for palak paneer. I hit up the Google, and found a 4-star recipe on allrecipes.com. Ok, I said… I’ll give this a shot. I should have taken a clue from the way they replaced paneer with ricotta- the name of the dish is palak paneer for crying out loud! I ended up creating myself an account on allrecipes.com just so I could express my feelings.
Why, you ask, didn’t I just modify as I went along like a real cook? I’ve used the site several times before, and it always peeves me to see a recipe downrated with a comment along the lines of “These cherry-almond bars were just 2 stars. I used butter instead of shortening and some lemon filling that my mother-in-law brought us from England when she went over for Princess Di’s funeral. I didn’t have almonds, so I topped them with crushed-up peanut clusters left over from Halloween. My husband thought they were too buttery and didn’t like the lemon.” Thanks for that helpful advice. I bet America’s Test Kitchen is just beating down your door so you can spread the good word of “don’t put past-date Halloween crap on desserts”.
So I followed the recipe, left my comment, and then adjusted the recipe. It turned out well in the end:
There’s a little shop within a shop in Seattle’s famous Pike’s Market. Bavarian Meats is run by two German ladies who look like they just stepped out of The Sound of Music. They sell all sorts of, well, meat, and plenty more besides. Sauerkraut, red cabbage sauerkraut, spiced sauerkraut, curry ketchup…
I picked up a half pound of excellent bacon there, as well as 2 bones worth of Kasseler rippchen. Kasseler is a bone-in pork chop that has been smoked and cured. As I paid for the meat, the owner asked my fiance if we “vood like a veener on vich to neeble vhile you valk?”. It took Beth repeating it for me to understand, at which point I accepted my sample weiner. I went on my way a little more charmed.
Sauerkraut is easy and satisfying to make at home. Like the preserved lemons in the last post, all sauerkraut really takes is time. I’ll put up a recipe shortly- right now I’m going to give you something to do with it.
I whipped (heh) up this feta spread recipe a while back to pair up with some hummus and homebrewed wheat thins.
The preserved lemon is easy to make. The recipe is inspired by one I saw a while back in Greg Malouf’s excellent Middle Eastern cookbook Artichoke to Zaatar, and I consider it to be one of my kitchen’s essential ingredients. The flavor is bright and briny- it’s lemon without the sourness, and it goes into many Eastern Mediterranean and North African dishes.
Lemon-Thyme Feta Spread
For the winter.
Seriously. What’s better than melty cheese? This quesadilla was my snack the other day. Whole wheat tortillas, beer-basted bbq pork butt, chopped cilantro, chedder and pepperjack cheese. Delicious.
I’m making this beer a little later than I should, but I had to wait for the pumpkins to ripen. This year’s crop is of the Cinderella variety- the skin is deep and burnished orange, with a flattened top and bottom that look like carriage material.
I’m making the beer in two parts. The first and strongest runnings of wort from the grain will go on to become a oak-aged vanilla bourbon porter to serve at Christmastime. After I started that beer, I added a couple pounds of grain to the mash and ran off wort for a second porter. Most importantly, I added roast pumpkin puree to the mash, and spices to the boil. By Thanksgiving, I’ll have a spiced pumpkin pie porter.