Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apple sangria

Huzzah for bad cell phone pictures!

My favorite sangria memory, hands down, is from the night before my friend Jenny's wedding, at the groom's dinner thrown by her now-husband Dave's Cuban family at a huge old house north of Boston, right on the ocean. It had been a busy, very very hot couple of days before that and I remember how wonderful that sangria tasted as a heavy, windy rainstorm swept in from the ocean. Stress? Bah.  I don't think it was a particularly alcoholic mixture (I recall a drinking game being played that resulted in 10+ cups of the stuff being slammed by a bridesmaid and groomsman, and there were no hangovers the next day, so it couldn't've been too potent) but it was delicious and sweet and had cherries in it. Also we talked about Cthulu for president, and horses, and at one point one of the groom's uncles, in possibly the best entrance ever, arrived in the monsoon on a motorcycle. 

This, however, is solitary sangria. Long-day-of-holiday-cooking sangria. Watching-Game-Of-Thrones-on-the-couch-instead-of-doing-dishes sangria.

Apple Sangria
I had apples, and some cheap red wine I'm not super fond of, and brandy. I also had a few hours' worth of cooking to do for tomorrow, so I put this stuff together to hang out in the fridge for later. I didn't measure anything, but a glance at some small-batch sangria recipes yielded amounts that look roughly like what I used.

1 apple, sliced thinly
1 cup red wine 
1.5 oz brandy 
A few squeezes from half a lemon
1 tbsp sugar (simple syrup would've been better but I wasn't in the mood to make any)
A splash of cider...less than 1/4 c
A tea bag of mulling spices that came with the cider I bought at an orchard - about a tsp of mixed whole cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.
Ginger ale, to top

Combine wine, brandy, sugar, cider, and lemon and stir to dissolve sugar. Add tea bag/mulling spices and apple slices and let refrigerate for awhile, a few hours if possible. Take the spices out after an hour though so it doesn't start tasting like a fall-themed candle. When you're ready,  pour over ice, making sure to get the apples, and top with a splash of ginger ale. Close your eyes and picture a storm rolling in off the Atlantic. Or something more appropriate to sangria, I guess, like Barcelona or something. Your call.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Channa, with masala

Alright, first things first: Let me warn that this pan full of chickpeas with tomato and Indian spices is probably not authentic. Chana means 'chickpea' and masala means 'spice' in Hindi (I believe?) though, so technically I guess the name is still correct, right?

Reasons you should make this:
1. It's delicious. Warm, filling, spiced, also did I mention that it's Indian food?!
2. It's convenient. It doesn't take much time to cook, and you probably have a lot of the core ingredients on hand.
3. It's healthy. Chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, and nutrients, the spices and tomatoes are good for you, if you make it with brown rice it's practically virtuous. 
4. It's cheap. Cans of chickpeas and tomatoes, an onion, oil, common spices you either already have or should just buy already, c'mon. 
5. It's easy. A very tiny bit of chopping, and then just stirring. 
6.. It's perfect for a crowd that includes dietary restrictions. It's vegetarian, but...dedicated carnivores: I promise you'll like it! It's also gluten free, and can easily be dairy free (and therefore vegan).

Lazy Chana Masala

 This is my fast version for when it's getting kinda late on a weekday - there are wonderful, more complex versions of this dish out there that are definitely worth trying, but this is tasty, filling, and pretty darn quick.

2 15 oz (or one 28 oz, close enough) can chickpeas
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp garam masala - See below
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 c water

Optional but highly recommended:
Chopped cilantro, to taste
Chili of whatever kind - a jalapeno would be fine, or dried whatever works too. 
Fresh ginger, 1 or 2+ tablespoons, chopped or grated 
Lemon or lime juice, to taste, but start with a few good squeezes or a couple tablespoons.
Plain yogurt or sour cream or whatever sour plan dairy thing you like, a few dollops 
Cooked rice (I like to add a little more onion caramelized in butter, a decent amount of tumeric, maybe a tsp of coriander, and a handful of frozen peas to rice cooker for yellow rice.) or naan.

Saute onion in butter and oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat until at least translucent, preferably somewhat caramelized.Add chopped fresh chili here, if using. Stir in garam masala (and fresh ginger, if using) and let the spices release the oils into the cooking oil for a minute or so. Drain and rinse the goopy stuff off of chickpeas and add to the pan, along with the tomatoes and water. Crush  a few of the chickpeas to release starch and thicken the dish a little. Cook everything together for at least 5 minutes ( much longer, 30+ minutes over low heat, is best.) if your rice isn't ready or you have the time), adding more water if the skillet gets dry, stirring occasionally.  Before serving, stir in lemon juice and cilantro, if using. Serve with rice or naan, plain yogurt or sour cream to dollop on top and stir in, and more lemon juice and cilantro.

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice blend used frequently in Indian cooking. You can buy it pre-mixed (Penzy's has it, as does the bulk section at the Whole Foods near me) or make it yourself. It can be extremely varied, and you can tweak the amounts of any of the spices to your liking. This is a simple version that I like - and you can throw together with spices that you already have, or at least can easily obtain. If you're interested in more complex versions, a quick Google search can be very illuminating. Also, it's delicious on squash or anything else you might use sweet spices with.
Spices called for are ground, because again, this is the lazy version. Whole ones ground yourself would, of course, be way more awesome.

1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp paprika 


-Tumeric - also good thrown in with the rice you're going to make with any of this stuff, btw
-Star anise
-Nutmeg (in small amounts, it can overwhelm quickly - I usually add a pinch, but I'm not a huge fan of it in general)
-Amchoor powder
-A bay leaf or two

Uh, mix them together. 

A few longer-form recipes:
Smitten Kitchen - I've made this one and I liked it

Manjula's Kitchen - Vegetarian Indian food blog