Sunday, April 1, 2012

somethng spicy for spring

Little flowering surprises are starting to pop up in my garden. Everywhere I look tiny buds are showing up; all over Central park, in window boxes, sidewalk planters and community gardens. New York city is beginning to get all powder puffy as the trees bust out in their floral frenzy. Sublime!

The weather is still cool and damp, like a typical spring, in fact, more spring-like than our strangely wimpy winter which definitely lacked in winter-ness.

There are really no crops ready for the market yet at this time of year so winter comfort food will have to continue to soothe and comfort while we wait for the robust growing season to kick in.

One of the simplest ways to bring a lot of flavor to food is to use curry spices. A tablespoon or two of good curry powder added to a vegetable saute will do the trick. Lots of bang for under a buck of spice powder. I like to source curry powder from Indian stores. We have several good options in the city. There are an abundance of spice stores in the "curry hill" neighborhood of Manhattan on Lexington avenue and 28th street, and then there are the multiple shops in Jackson Heights, Queens. Caribbean cooking also uses curry blends with those tending to be a bit milder than the east Indian varieties. For the milder spice blends I feel freer to be a bit more heavy handed when adding it to a recipe.

Small Yukon Gold potatoes combine really well with leafy greens in a curry preparation. Saute some onions and garlic, fry up cubed potatoes, add the curry powder and handfuls of washed greens. Let the mixture cook down till the vegetables are tender and serve.  Consider adding a dash of something sweet like raisins or a dollop of mango chutney to the mixture to round out the flavor.

This Saumur 2010, Val de Loire, Chenin Blanc is an excellent option to pair with a curry meal. It has a slightly tart, pineappe-ly overtone that brings a tropical fragrance to the forefront. It works well with the aggressive spicing of a curry. This wine also had a lovely woody back note that helped give it some depth and character.

Curried Potatoes and Greens
1 bunch of leafy greens (spinach, mustard, kale, chard, collards would all work well)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups of cubed potatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of raisins

•Wash the greens, chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
•Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the potatoes and fry on all side till they are a bit crispy. Remove the potatoes from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
•Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for a few minutes on medium heat until the onions soften.
•Add the curry powder and mix well to get the spice completely coated with the oil from the pan. Cook for another minute to allow the spice flavors to develop.
•Add the potatoes back into the pan and the leafy greens. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes till the greens have wilted. Add a splash of water to the pan if it gets too dry. You want the vegetables to be loose, but not swimming in liquid.
•Add the raisins and squeeze the juice of the half lemon into the pan and stir again. Let the contents of the pan come back up to a simmer uncovered. Cook for about five more minutes until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve immediately.

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