Blog Re-run: Clean Greens

Madan Mohan Mohini Dasi from Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, USA writes:

‘I was reading through one of your cookbooks and came upon a recipe with
spinach. I just thought I’d let you in on an old secret about cleaning greens.

spinach:

You fill your (kitchen-size) sink with water and add salt (maybe a handful or so) and clean your greens in that. (I suppose if you were to use a much larger sink, you would use more salt.) Anyway, it takes all the dirt off.

I do this all the time – even with muddy spinach right out of the garden. You don’t even have to do a second rinsing; however, just to play safe I do a second rinsing in clean water (without salt). This really works well and saves a lot of time.’

Blog Re-run: Tofu and er…er…Dementia

tofu joke:

I guess if we changed our diet every time a new scientific report came out, we’d go mad, or at least become a little demented. Here’s some news from the BBC. It’s not ‘new news’, but hey, this is a Blog Re-run.

Tofu ‘may raise risk of dementia’

“Tofu is a widely eaten soy product.
Eating high levels of some soy products – including tofu – may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests.

The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java. The researchers found high tofu consumption – at least once a day – was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s.

The Loughborough University-led study features in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.”
Read the whole article….

Pumpkin Soup

Despite the inclement meteorological conditions here in Australia, it doesn’t feel like soup weather yet. But I am sure it does in the Northern Hemisphere.

Before I proceed with this blog, a word about pumpkin. In Australia, the word pumpkin is a rather generic term, and can refer to a variety of members of the squash family. Here we have Butternuts, Queensland Blues, Japs, and a number of others.

In the USA, what they call pumpkin usually refer to the big fellas they carve for Halloween. They also have Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash, Summer Squash, etc etc. To conclude: Any variety of orange squash/pumpkin can be used to make the following recipe.

heartwarming pumpkin soup:

Sapna from Los Angeles writes:

“My family and I like to eat at Govinda’s Restaurant adjoining the Hare Krishna Temple in Los Angeles. We visited the restaurant yesterday and on the menu there was butternut squash soup which my son and I liked very much. If possible can you please provide me the recipe of the soup.”

Here’s my recipe:

Old Fashioned Cream of Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is a great winter favourite. Milk and a simple seasoning of black pepper and nutmeg allow the pumpkin flavour to predominate.

Preparation & cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 persons

3 cups water

1½ cups milk

90g (3 ounces) butter

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups, 1 kg (2.2 pounds) pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cubed

1 tablespoon plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon light cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Melt half the butter in a 6-litre/quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the nutmeg, black pepper, and pumpkin cubes and saute for 10 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil, cooking until the pumpkin is very tender.

Empty the contents of the saucepan into a blender and add half the milk. Puree the mixture carefully. Remove and set aside. Rinse the saucepan.

Heat the remaining butter in the saucepan over moderate heat. Stir the flour into the butter. Return the pumpkin puree to the saucepan along with the remaining milk, stirring constantly until the soup is well blended. Bring to a boil, simmer for a few minutes, and season with salt.

Serve the hot soup in individual pre-warmed soup bowls, garnished with light cream and chopped parsley.

Return of Lemon Curd

lemon tarts:

Remember I published a request on my blog for eggless lemon curd and eggless custard tarts?

Here’s a recipe for Lemon Curd from Maharani Dasi. Thank you!!

Lemon Curd

Maharani writes: “I have had good success making lemon “curd” filling for lemon bars (the kind with shortbread crust, lemon curd, and streusel topping) with confectioner’s (icing) sugar and a little extra cornstarch to thicken it. I’m not sure how it would hold up in a full-sized pie, but it is very good in mini-tarts, cookies, and that sort of thing. The recipe I use is this one:

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest,

1/2 cup fresh strained lemon juice,

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar with cornstarch/cornflour added),

6 tablespoons unsalted butter,

optional 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water
.

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil the lemon juice, zest, and
butter.

Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, and reduce to a simmer, whisking and
watching for it to thicken. If it doesn’t seem to be reaching the desired
consistency, this is when you add the cornstarch in water. With a little more
cooking, it should thicken up. If not, add a few more spoons of
confectioner’s sugar. It will thicken more on standing, so don’t add any more
cornstarch than absolutely necessary, because otherwise it will taste starchy.

When the lemon curd is thickened (clings to the whisk) transfer to a bowl. If you’re not using it right away, you should cover it with a piece of plastic
wrap touching the surface of the curd to prevent it getting a skin on top as it
cools.”

Give it a try, readers, and let me know how it worked out.

Upma

Rohini from South Africa wrote asking for a recipe for Upma

Here’s my Upma recipe:

Breakfast-time Cashew-Studded Upma

Upma is a traditional grain dish much loved all over India. It consists of roasted semolina (sooji) and sauteed spices, with added vegetables and nuts combined with water to form a moist, savoury pudding. Though upma’s texture resembles Italian polenta or North African couscous, its flavour is unique. Served with fresh lemon juice and a little yogurt, it makes a delicious breakfast. Serves 6 – 8 persons.

upma for breakfast:

1½ cups coarse-grain semolina,

¼ cup ghee or oil,

1½ teaspoons black mustard seeds,

2 teaspoons split urad dal,

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds,

2 hot green chilies, seeded and minced,

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded,

1 red pepper, seeded and diced,

1 cup peeled potatoes, cubed,

1 cup orange-fleshed sweet potato,

½ teaspoon turmeric,

3 cups hot water,

1 cup green peas, cooked if fresh, thawed if frozen,

1½ teaspoons salt,

1 cup roasted cashew pieces,

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves,

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,

Toast, yogurt, lemon wedges, or chutney to accompany (optional).

Dry-roast the semolina in a large, heavy dry frying pan over moderate heat for 6 – 8 minutes or until the grains darken a few shades. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy 4 or 5-litre/quart saucepan over moderately high heat. Saute the black mustard seeds in the hot oil until they crackle. Add the urad dal and cumin seeds and saute them until they darken; add the chilies and, stirring, add the cabbage, peppers, zucchini, potatoes, and turmeric. Stir-fry for 2 or 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to moderate and continue to cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until the vegetables are limp and partly cooked. Carefully add the hot water and bring to the boil. Add the cooked fresh peas or thawed frozen peas. Add the semolina, stirring continuously. Add the salt; reduce the heat to very low, and half-cover with a lid, stirring often until the upma becomes a light, fluffy pudding (about 5 minutes). If the upma appears too dry, add a little warm water.

Remove the upma from the heat, stir in the cashew nuts, lemon juice and fresh coriander leaves, and serve hot with suggested accompaniments.

Kurma Returns to Perth

Not permanantly, but just for 2 weeks, 3-15 July.

If you live in that glorious part of Australia and would like to organise a group of friends, I can share a hands-on cookery extravaganza and banquet in your home.

team fruit satay:

Or perhaps you would just like to attend a class.

Here’s what’s on so far. Hope to see you soon!

Cooking with Kurma,

Fremantle, WA,

Full-day Hands-on Vegan Cookery Workshop,

Sunday 4 July 2010,

Email Cruelty Free WA (info@crueltyfreewa.com.au),

Bookings: call James/Jess on (08) 9335 7039 between 11:30am – 6:00pm Tuesday to Sunday),

More information available online at www.crueltyfreewa.com.au

a feast with kurma:

Cooking with Kurma,

West Perth, WA,

Two evening Vegetarian Cookery Classes,

Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 July 2010,

Upper Crust Cooking School,

Shop 1, 77 Colin Street,

WEST PERTH WA 6005,

For Bookings, contact: Gabriel Zahra,

Ph/Fx 08 94814149,

gabriel@uppercrust.com.au,

www.uppercrust.com.au

let's get cooking:

Cooking with Kurma,

Bunbury, Western Australia,

Aspenz Cooking School,

Two Evening Cookery Classes,

Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14 July 2010,

Bookings 08 97217400,

Contact aspenzk@westnet.com.au

The Status of Flatus

who farted:

I know I’ve re-blogged this a few times, but everyone loves a fart joke. Not.

Sam Stewart from Australia’s Gold Coast wrote:

“What is it about beans that cause so much gas? What can be done to make them less volatile”

My reply:

Though beans are nutitionally excellent, they have the unfortunate side effect of causing the formation of gas in the lower digestive tract. This digestive dilemma can be mollified by adopting some or all of the following practices:

Discard the soaking water prior to cooking

Some nutrition (in the form of minerals) is lost, but you are getting rid of up to 80% of the oligosaccharides that cause flatulence. The standard way is to soak the raw, unsoaked beans in cold water overnight (in a cool place to avoid fermentation) then drain them, throw away the soak water and cook in fresh water.

Some cooks suggest that an even better way to remove the oligosaccharides is to bring the unsoaked beans to a boil for 3 minutes, remove from the heat, cover, and allow to soak for 4 hours, then drain and cook in fresh water.

it's a blast:

Cook the beans thoroughly

You should be able to easily mash the cooked beans with a fork. Thorough cooking softens starch and fibers, making digestion more efficient, the main reason why refried beans are easier on the digestive system than whole beans.

Give your body time to adjust

If you don’t eat beans often, your body never fully adapts to the extra work required to digest the complex sugars in beans. Beginning with small amounts, try eating beans at least 3 times a week while gradually increasing quantity.

Choose beans that are easier to digest

A general rule is that the sweeter the bean, the easier it is to digest. Adzuki, Anasazi, Black-eyed Peas, Lentils, and Mung beans top the list. The most difficult beans to digest include Navy, Limas, and whole cooked Soybeans.

Cook beans with a bay leaf, cumin, epazote, or kombu

Certain herbs have gas-reducing properties, with epazote being one of the most effective. Add 2 teaspoons dry or 6 fresh leaves to a pot of beans before cooking. Kombu sea vegetable also works well and has the added advantage of replenishing some of the minerals lost in soaking. Add a two-inch strip per one cup of dried beans during cooking. A couple of bay leaves simmered with cooked beans is also excellent. Asafetida, ginger and cumin are also excellent additions later in the cooking process, when the beans are seasoned, to counter the oligosaccharides.

Avoid beans that are cooked with added sweeteners, or come in a can.

Some people who easily digest most freshly cooked beans have trouble with canned or sweetened beans due to the way they are prepared and due to added carbohydrates. The famous baked beans are navy beans (hard to digest for a start) that have been cooked without discarding the soaking water AND with extra sweetener added – a very explosive combination.

Click here for more on the status of flatus.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

kalachandji's # 1:

A friend wrote me the other day asking if I had heard of a particular vegetarian restaurant in Dallas. I replied that I had not, and that the only restaurant I was familiar with in that city was the famous
Kalachandji’s.

kalachandji's #2:

Here’s Lisa and Jessica from The Veronica’s on a recent visit to Kalachandji’s.

veronicas lisa and jessica at Kalachandji's:

Check out Kalachandji’s website, and when next in Dallas, be sure to visit.

Taking Stock

stockpot:

Marcylene from Fort Erie, Ontario writes:

“Dear Kurma, Would you please forward me a recipe for Homemade Soup Stock. I used to buy the vegetarian soup base and I find it way too salty. I am not supposed to have salt plus I am a vegetarian as well. Thansk a million.”

My reply:

Hello Marcylene, Here’s some stock recipes from my first cookbook ‘Great Vegetarian Dishes”.

Below are recipes for various vegetable broths: Green Vegetable Stock, Root Vegetable Stock, Brown Vegetable Stock, and Chinese Vegetable Stock. These recipes, however, should act only as a guide. Whenever you can, save vegetable peelings, stalks, leaves, and any water used to boil vegetables. Broths can serve as a natural flavour enhancer for soups, rice dishes, dals and stews.

Green Vegetable Stock

COOKING TIME: 2 hours,

YIELD: 3 – 4 cups (750 ml – 1 litre).

2 tablespoons butter,

6 cups chopped fresh green vegetables,

1.5 cups chopped fresh herbs, chopped celery stalks, beans, pea pods, etc,

8 cups (2 litres) water,

2 teaspoons salt,

2 bay leaves,

3 cloves,

1/4 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder.

Melt the butter in a heavy 6-litre/quart saucepan or stockpot and saute the vegetables for 20 minutes over moderate heat. Turn off the heat and allow the vegetables to “sweat” with a lid on for 10 minutes.

Add the water and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; then simmer for 1 1/2 hours with a tight-fitting lid. Strain. Refrigerate the stock and use as needed.

Root Vegetable Stock

COOKING TIME: 2 hours,

YIELD: about 3 cups. (750 ml)

2 tablespoons butter,

1/2 large potato, diced,

1 cup squash or pumpkin, diced,

2 medium celery stalks, chopped,

2 carrots, diced,

8 cups (2 litres) water

1 bay leaf,

1/4 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder,

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns,

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger,

2 whole cloves,

2 tomatoes, chopped,

2 teaspoons salt.

Melt the butter in a heavy 6-litre/quart saucepan or stockpot and saute the vegetables for 20 minutes over moderate heat. Turn off the heat and allow the vegetables to “sweat” with a lid on for 10 minutes.

Add the water and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil; then simmer for 1 1/2 hours with a tight-fitting lid. Strain. Refrigerate the stock and use as needed.

Brown Vegetable Stock

BEAN SOAKING TIME: overnight,

COOKING TIME: 2 hours,

YIELD: about 2 litres/quarts.

2 cups dried beans (cannelini, lima, borlotti, kidney), soaked in water overnight,

3 litres/quarts water,

3 tablespoons butter,

2 celery stalks, chopped,

1 cup squash or pumpkin, diced,

2 small carrots, diced,

2 cloves,

1/2 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder,

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger,

1 bay leaf,

1 tablespoon (20 ml) salt.

Drain the beans. Boil the beans in two litres/quarts of water in a heavy saucepan. Simmer until the beans are soft (about 1 hour).

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat. Saute the vegetables in butter for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat cover it with a lid, and allow the vegetables to “sweat” with a lid on for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining water and set aside. When the beans have been cooking for 1 hour, add the vegetables and water with the spices and salt to the beans and bean water and boil for another 1 hour. Strain. Refrigerate the stock and use as required.

Chinese Vegetable Stock

COOKING TIME: 1 hour,

YIELD: 6 cups (1 1/2 litres).

1 1/4 cups mung bean shoots

1 cup Chinese cabbage, chopped

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder

1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil

10 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt.

Wash the bean shoots and place them in a heavy 4-litre/quart saucepan or stockpot with all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for one hour. Strain and use as required.