gingered zucchini with pinto beans in spicy tomato broth

this is one of those use-up-everything-in-the-kitchen serendipities. the fresh ingredients mirror exactly what i had laying around the kitchen at the time. i love finding ways to make boring or yucky vegetables adventuresome, even more than i hate throwing food away. this recipe borrows a lot from northern Indian cuisine, whose techniques are well suited to the climate in which i live, and to my own tastes. basically, you get some vegetables, cut them up, fry some spices, add the veggies and maybe some broth and/or water, and let it cook as long as it has to to a nice consistency. here i was with a hunk of ginger, a head of garlic, some leftover onion, two zucchinis about the size of a porn star’s whanger, and some canned goods whose labels were sufficiently sun-blanched that it seemed a good time to finally use them. i HATE zucchini, and i’m not a big fan of pinto beans. nevertheless, this came out real nice, and exemplifies some on-the-go techniques useful for dealing with random produce. enjoy! this dish was prepared side-by-side with my brown basmati recipe below.

2 medium-to-large zucchini, sliced into half-moons about 1/4″ thick
1 hunk of ginger the size of Don Alverzo’s thumb, peeled and minced
head of garlic, peeled, in whole cloves
as much onion as one has laying around, coarsely chopped
1 large can tomatoes, whole
1 large can pinto beans
1-1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
3 bay leaves
dried, crushed red pepper to taste
tumeric to taste (2 teaspoons – that’s a LOT but i love it)
cayenne pepper to taste
black pepper to taste (freshly ground)
ground coriander to taste

1 tablespoon salt
3-4 tablespoons ghee or cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
6-12 Oz. chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water as necessary

heat olive oil in a deep 4-qt saucepan over high heat.
when hot, reduce heat to medium-high and add cumin, crushed red pepper, black mustard, bay leaves and ginger.
fry, stirring constantly, until ginger turns golden brown.
add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium, stirring often, for 5-15 minutes according to preference.
add zucchini, tumeric, cayenne, black pepper, coriander and half the salt. fry over medium heat about a few minutes, stirring often, then reduce heat to low, cover tightly, and allow to simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
[NOTE: spice powders may form a soft crust at the bottom of the pan; keep lifting and folding this in to prevent burning.]

add tomatoes, broth and remaining salt (to taste.) simmer slowly, partially covered, for up to an hour, adding liquid as necessary to maintain a light sauce, allowing to thicken toward the end of cooking time. add the canned beans to the melange about ten minutes before serving.
remove bay leaves and serve!

serves 6-8.

insanely simple and delicious brown basmati

i am relatively new to brown basmati. i learned a few dozen ways to cook its white equivalent, but now prefer the whole-grain nutrition and flavor of the brown. some research on the intranational-websynets yielded about five basic approaches to cooking brown basmati; i tested them all and took notes. what lies revealed below is my personal, tested distillation of that mess of self-conflicting wisdom, with a technique stolen from the Indian cuisines:

2 cups brown basmati rice
4-1/4 cups liquid-phase dihydrogen oxide
2-3 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or ghee (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt

rinse the rice of any excess starch in a strainer until water runs clear and allow to drip-dry a few minutes.
heat oil or ghee in a 2-qt pot over hight heat.
sautee rice in oil for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until a distinct and pleasant aroma of roasted nuts develops.
add the water and salt. bring to the bare beginnings of a boil.
cover snugly, lower heat to pianissimo possibile and allow to cook for 45-55 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE LID.

allow to stand for another 15 minutes, also without removing the lid.
fluff rice with a fork to loosen the grains before serving.

serves 4-6. refrigerate and reheat for up to ten days.

c’est moi

Photo on 2009-12-06 at 14.51 #2



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hi… yeah, i know… i’ve been kinda quiet since Valentine’s Day…. at least on asynchronology. it’s been an interesting year, to say the least. i’ve been transmitting lots of 140-char fragments via Twitter, which i will soon have linked to this shiny new WordPress-enabled blogomine. anyway, here i be, and thanks for checking in. pardon our appearance while i ride the WP learning curve a little. i don’t like spending lots of time in front of a glowing screen trying to out-clever the rest of the world, but i will devote an hour or two a day to getting this all set up in a way that makes it easy to smear my personality onto the great tabula rasa of ones and zeros for your entertainment…

in the news: today i awoke at 5am, caffeinated myself vigorously and, for a change, got a great number of things done. i enacted a radical ghetto repair on a very nice Martin DM guitar which had heretofore resisted professional treatment: JB-Weld applied to a long lateral crack in the soundboard, just to put a stop to the spread. it seems to have lost a touch of its angelic penumbra of overtones, but the epoxy is not yet cured to full stiffness. i let the blue smoke out of an old, barely used Black & Decker 750W inverter and will have to wait a while before Walter (the Transit Antenna bus buried at a slant in back) will have AC power once again. i put a defective Line 6 Pod X3 on the bench and got it to at least partially work again (tech support from that company is nil, buyer beware – no schematics, nothing. [NOTE: when i called tech support in Los Angeles later, they were actually very helpful and sent me a replacement phototransistor/IRLED pair free of charge – thanks! – c 2009.12.07.1449]) and i got around to some minor plumbing additions and corrections on my thus far non-functional hot shower project. i seem to have narrowed the problem down to the Bosch 1600 itself – a defective regulator or “brain.” one final test with a U-tube manometer (to be constructed tomorrow) will tell the truth once and for all.

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