Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kufta in Yogurt Sauce كفتة باللبن

I made this not quite realizing that it was a real recipe - I was thinking of making shish barak (see Mimi's recipe for that), which is kind of like Middle Eastern ravioli. However, I had no patience for making all those little ravioli, but I really enjoyed that sauce. Only later did I realize that this is a legitimate, traditional recipe, called Kufta bil-laban, "Kufta in yogurt." (Not so helpful for everyone, but here's a recipe for it in Arabic.)


1.25 pounds lean ground beef
2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Dash nutmeg

2 cups yogurt (or 1.75 c. yogurt, 1/4 cup water if yogurt is very thick, like greek yogurt. Middle eastern yogurt is normally a bit watery)
3 tsp. corn starch

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. (or to taste) cilantro, minced (optional)
Olive oil for sauteing


Preheat oven to 450, or broiler if you'll be able to watch closely. Mix beef and spices, roll into small balls. Place the kufta balls on a cookie sheet and bake or broil until solid and cooked. 

Slowly heat, on very low heat, yogurt mixed with corn starch. In another pan, sautee garlic until it starts to become golden. Throw in cilantro briefly, then pour all of this into the yogurt. Add kufta balls, and cook briefly until combined and everything is warmed and cooked through. 

I recommend serving this on vermicelli rice.  You could also sprinkle some pine nuts on top to garnish.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crockpot Pulled Pork

I finally figured out the key to good crockpot pulled pork--ignore 90% of the recipes out there and don't add the BBQ sauce until the end. In fact, doing it this way you could go full Southern style and not add BBQ sauce at all. If you add the sauce at the beginning it winds up watery and thin and doesn't let the meat or the sauce really shine.

If you wanted it to be smoky & spicy you could substitute canned chipotle peppers for the paprika and cayenne. I used Sweet Baby Ray's on this last batch and it was too sweet for me. Try to find a BBQ sauce that suits your taste.

I am a crockpot skeptic, but this recipe really works!

Picnics are way more fun as a grown-up...even when it's -11 outside!

1 large 3+ lb. pork shoulder or Boston butt
2 medium onions, sliced
1-2 c. water
1 chicken boullion cube
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
1 jug BBQ sauce

Rub the spices onto the pork. You don't actually have to rub them on, but I find it's easier to gauge the quantity when I do it this way. Place the meat, bay leaves, boullion cube, and onion slices into your slow cooker. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the crock with 1/2" water.

Cover and set to LOW for 8 hrs or so. Pork should be pull-apart tender when you get home.

Drain and reserve the precious liquid, save the onions. Take the pork out and let it cool enough to handle. Pull it apart into shreds and add it back into the crockpot. (This cult will usually be bone-in...remove bones and discard). Put the onions back into meat and a little of the meat juice. Add the BBQ sauce and crank the heat back up to HIGH. Go watch a Netflix episode as it heats through.

If you don't want a saucy style, add more salt and meat juice to the meat until it is delectable. Serve as-is or with mustard sauce.

I highly recommend the hedonistic option of toasting your bun and then brushing it with a little of the pork fat that rendered off.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sukuma Wiki - African Collard Greens

Eating your greens has never been easier! (Though no one in this family has ever thought it was hard). This makes a hearty side dish with any kind of winter greens--collards, kale, turnip greens. In fact, I don't think this truly needs a main course. It would be great with baked sweet potatoes or polenta. I got the recipe from The Noshery.

Dan's requested birthday dinner--hard to say no to a request for collard greens, especially when they're only $0.69 a (huge) bundle at Cub!
2 bundles collard greens
1/2 lb ground beef
1 large onion, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 beef bullion cube in 3/4 c. boiling water
1 Tsp. Maggi seasoning (or soy sauce)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
salt to taste
oil for cooking

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Grasp the stem in one hand and pinch the leaves together in the other and pull out the stems. Lay the leaves flat (start with the biggest leaf) and when you have 6-8 in a pile, roll  up tightly into a tube. Cut crosswise into thin chiffonade. I call this green spaghetti!

Cook the beef and break up the chunks as you cook so that is fine and thoroughly cooked. Drain off the excess liquid and turn up the heat so it starts to crisp. Stir in the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and continue to sizzle. Then add the onions and sizzle longer. Stir in the coriander, allspice, and Maggi. Start adding the greens--if your pan is small, add a batch, put the lid on until it cooks down, and then stir in more greens. Once they are all in, mix in tomatoes and add the beef boullion and simmer the whole mess for 15 minutes with the lid on.

Adjust the spices with salt, vinegar, and sugar and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Indian Fried Rice

What to do when you have some leftover long grain rice and you want some spice? Fried rice, Indian style. You can make it vegetarian, or add some meat or shrimp (leftovers work great). You could also mix in some peas or cooked lentils at the end.

3-4 c. leftover long-grain rice
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 tsp. black pepper

1 chicken boullion cube
1/2 c. boiling water
1 Tbsp. tamarind sauce

1 c. cooked meat chunks (optional)
1 tomato, diced
2 eggs 
handful of cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
oil for cooking

Heat a large nonstick pan, adding a generous amount of oil. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and heat until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add the ginger, garlic, jalapenos and the white part of the green onions and fry until lightly brown. Add the turmeric and black pepper and toss to combine.

Break up the rice so it is loose, and add it to the pan. Cook, turning infrequently, so that the rice starts to crisp on the edges. Combine the water, boullion cube, and turmeric. Pour over the rice and toss gently so that the liquid is absorbed. Gently mix in the cooked meat, tomato, and green parts of the green onions.

Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the eggs. Scramble them and chop up, stirring into the rice. Adjust the salt and add fresh cilantro.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Squash, Lentil and Chickpea Curry

I was looking at all of the beautiful winter squash at the farmer's market but at the same time I had a craving for Indian food. Looking around online, this recipe was the most appealing, since it has both a lot of veggies and some protein sources. I personally like it a bit spicy to clear out the sinuses in winter.

I have altered the recipe for this from the one here a little bit. That website calls this a North Indian recipe -I honestly have no idea.

If you're feeling ambitious, you could make breads to go along with it, but I personally liked it quite a bit served on basmati rice cooked with a single star anise pod.


1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, in thin slices
1/2 large butternut squash, skinned
3/4 c. red lentils
3-4 c. water

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. greens (spinach/arugala/etc.)

Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tsbp. chopped mint

Spice mixture (best if you use whole and grind them)
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground fresh ginger
1/4-1 tsp. chili flakes, to taste OR a hot green chili (japalpeno or serrano) chopped roughly.


Sautee the onion in the oil/butter mixture until they start to get brown around the edges.

Add the spice mixture and cook for about a minute until it starts to get fragrant, but don't let it burn.

Add the lentils, squash, and water. You'll have to eyeball whether it's quite enough, and might have to add a bit more. Bring to a boil, but then simmer covered, stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom, until lentils are mushy and squash is cooked.

Add lemon juice and herbs, stir briefly and cover for 2 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beef Barley Stew with Greens

I snuck this hearty stew in on a cool and cloudy September day before predicted 100 degree highs--must be Indian summer. Lots of wonderful fresh fall veggies from the local farmer's market (everything one dollar!) and herb garden. I made the beef broth from scratch (to celebrate my new chest freezer), but the strong, earthy flavors would shine through just fine with bouillon.The textures will be best if you make the stew in this order, but this could be adapted for crock pot.

2.5-3 lbs. stew beef, 1" cubes
3 small onions, in chunks
4-5 Roma tomatoes (or 2 Tbsp. tomato paste)
2 c. carrots, cut bite-sized
1.5 c. pearled barley
2-3 quarts beef broth
1 bundle turnip greens
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. butter + 1 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. black pepper
2-3 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika

Sprinkle the beef cubes with some of the salt and pepper and toss with the flour and paprika. Heat the butter and oil in a dutch oven until very hot. Brown the meat in batches (to avoid crowding the pan) so that has golden brown edges.

Cut open the tomatoes and remove the seeds, then chop coarsely. Add the tomatoes (or paste) into the pot, and scrape with a wooden spoon, using the tomato to loosen the browned flour. Add back in the cooked meat and onion chunks, and stir to combine. Add the beef broth,rosemary, and barley and bring to a simmer.

Simmer the stew for 45 minutes or until the meat and barley are tender. Add in the carrot chunks, garlic, and sherry, and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Add in the greens and cover, simmer 2-3 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper (try adding a dash of vinegar or pinch of sugar if the flavor needs more pop).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lemongrass Pork Chop

Can also be made with chicken. 50% of the household thinks this would be better made with bone-in, fattier chops, and 50% of the household likes it lean. Either way it's got tons of flavor!

3-4 pork chops, whatever cut you enjoy
2 stalks lemongrass
5 cloves garlic
3 shallots
2-3 red chili peppers
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbps. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. black soy sauce

1 Tbsp. oil
2-3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Pat the pork chops dry, set them on a plate, and salt lightly. I find it's easiest to control the salt in the marinade if you salt the meat directly.

Pound the base of the lemongrass stalks with something heavy to break them up a bit. Slice into 1/2" pieces and then chop in the food processor. Add the garlic, shallots, and chili peppers and chop until fine textured (will be a little fibrous from the lemongrass).

Add in the remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Test the flavor and adjust if needed. The marinade should be the texture of wet sand.

Place in a ziploc bag and add the pork chops. Squish around until well coated. Marinate for at least an hour, ideally overnight.

The meat will be coated in a lemongrass-ey crust. Grill until crisp on the edges and pork is just cooked. Slice and serve on rice with veggies or salad.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sausage Potato Bake

So this isn't really a recipe of our own so much as a link, since Melanie and I don't change the recipe at all, let alone enough to justify reposting it. We did use some herbs de provence last time, which was nice too.

This is one of those really simple one-dish meals that turns out amazingly every time, it's got a nice mix of veggies, starch and protein, and it's gluten free. Obviously, you don't need to use the brand name sausage from the recipe, especially if you live down the street from Kramarczuk's, but it is pretty tasty.

Here's the Sausage Potato Bake from Recipe Girl.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Samosa Potatoes

Let's face it: samosas are delicious but a P.I.T.A. to make. Why bother with the pastry crust? Just eat the filling! These are a great side dish, perfect for potlucks, and if you're really ambitious you can use it as a savory pastry filling.

3 lbs potatoes (can be any kind, peels can stay on small reds or Yukon gold)
2 stalks celery
1/2 small onion
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 jalapeno pepper
3 green onions
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp. black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. fresh ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch hing powder OR 1 clove garlic, minced
loads of salt
Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until tender, then drain. Smash them up a bit with a spoon.

Dice celery, onion, and jalapeno very small. Slice green onions into little rings.

Heat the butter in a large pan until it is bubbling. Add the pinch of hing--it should sizzle. (If you are using garlic instead, add it later with the ginger instead) the mustard and cumin seeds and stir until they begin popping. Add the fresh ginger, turmeric, black pepper, and jalapenos and continue to stir as they sizzle.

Add the potatoes to the pan and continue to smash them. Add in the green onions and salt. Continue to smash to desired consistency and season to taste.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Japanese Curry

Japanese curry is its own food category, different than Thai or Indian curries. It is a revelation in easy home cooking--just don't fight the packaged-food-ness! The "secret" is to follow the directions on the package. Serve with good white rice and Japanese pickles (all these things can be found at United Noodle).

The curry comes as solid blocks (like a chocolate bar) that you break into your curry pot. There are many brands, such as "Java", "Vermont", and "Golden Curry"...all seem to be good, and "hot" is not hot at all, so get that one if you want a slight heat. I made the batch in the photo with tonkatsu, but it can be accompanied with any protein or just eaten plain.

As you can see, pickles are a large part of the appeal for me, but don't worry if you can't find them.

1/2 package of Japanese curry blocks
3 large potatoes
2 large carrots
1 medium onion
1/2 c. water
Something like that...just free-form it! Follow the directions on the box. It should take about 30-40 minutes if you keep it simple. Either add the meat to the curry itself, or put it on top like the pork cutlets in the picture. A whole recipe makes a TON, so only do that for 4 or more people. Let go and enjoy!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Vinegret - Russian Marinated Vegetable Salad

This is a wonderful salad made with cooked vegetables and a zingy dressing. It's great as a side dish and keeps well for several days. It's also colorful and well-suited to Minnesota vegetables! Try to cut everything into 1 cm cubes (except for the peas of course).

I probably could have diced these better--but taste was outstanding!


1 can beets (or 1-2 beets cooked and peeled)
2-3 red potatoes, skinned boiled just until cooked
2 carrots, boiled until tender
1/2 red onion
1/3 cup dill pickle or cornichons
1/3 cup frozen peas
3 green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to tate


3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (or pickle juice)
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1/4 cup safflower oil or light olive oil

Soak the diced red onions in cold water for 30 seconds and drain (to lessen the bite). Combine cooked, cubed vegetables with, peas and dill. Add dressing and salt and pepper, and toss gently. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chana Masala - Spicy Chickpeas

I'm posting this as an add-on to Alex's Kushari recipe--it's really good on top of kushari, but it's also a great side dish in general. This is for a dry style chickpea with Indian spices. It is also dirt cheap!

Chana masala on top of kushari.

1 can of chickpeas
3 Tbsp cooking oil
1 Tbsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced OR 1/4 tsp hing powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
 Optional: chopped cilantro

I recommend doing this in a non-stick pan. Don't allow the spices to burn, or they will taste bitter.

Start by draining the chickpeas so that they have time to dry on the outside. You can pat them dry further with paper towels.

Heat the oil until very hot. Add the black mustard and cumin seeds until they begin to pop, stirring occasionally. Add in the hot pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic (or hing) and allow them to sizzle, but take care not to burn. Add the turmeric and black pepper and stir. Add the chickpeas and cook, tossing frequently, so they are coated with the spice mixture and begin to get toasty on the edges.

It's that simple! Toss with fresh cilantro if desired.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


This is a very simple and easy recipe for when you either have lots of leftover rice, or when you have almost nothing fresh in the house but a full pantry. It's a traditional, cheap Egyptian dish, and while I still haven't visited Egypt, I'm told I make it pretty close to the original. It's a pretty complete meal, it's tasty, and it makes a lot with little effort. I'm giving the recipe as if you're making it from scratch - if you already have one of the ingredients leftover, just add it in towards the end, so it can absorb some of the heat from the other ingredients.

1 c. brown lentils
1 c. white rice
1 c. elbow macaroni
(Optional: 1 can chick peas, cooked a little to soften further OR use Chana Masala for extra spice!)

1 large can diced or crushed tomatoes (28oz)
2 Tbsp diced garlic
2 Tbsp white vinegar
Crushed red pepper to taste
(Optional: squirt or two of  vodka to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes)

1 large onion, cut into thin ribbons

In a deep saucepan, add the lentils and water to cover, then cook until they are getting soft (~20-30 minutes). Add the white rice, and if necessary add more water (I just eyeball this), and some salt (~1 Tbsp). At the same time, boil water for the elbow macaroni, cook, and drain.

In a wide, deep skillet, start heating the tomatoes.  Add the garlic, vinegar, crushed red pepper, S&P (and vodka). Simmer until it begins to thicken. Adjust seasonings.

At the same time, heat oil in another skillet on medium, and cook the onions to desired crispiness, increasing the heat towards end if necessary.

You can assemble the rice, lentils and macaroni in layers, or you can just whomp them together. Top with sauce and onions.Tada, dinner is served, and it costs like 20 cents a serving.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saffron Cauliflower and Chicken curry

This was inspired by a dish served at a local Indian restaurant, and then based on techniques from this very different curry. I'm still developing it, but it turned out so well I thought I'd post the version I made tonight.


  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1.5" segment of ginger root, peeled
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 c. blanched, peeled almonds
  • 1/4 c. roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 c. water 
  • 1 can coconut milk 
  • 1 large pinch saffron, soaked in 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small flourets
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin pieces
Smoosh the garlic and ginger root together - I did this in a mortar and pestle, you could probably achieve a similar effect with enough mincing with a knife. Blend the almonds, cashews and water in a food processor until it makes a smooth liquid.

In a mix of 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. oil, sweat the onions and mustard seeds on medium-low heat until the onions begin to turn transparent. Add ginger and garlic mixture, and cook for about a minute until the garlic starts to mellow. Add the dry spices (cumin seeds, turmeric, pepper, cayenne, cardamom pods), and cook briefly until they start to smell amazing. Add the nut-juice and cook about 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk and saffron w/water. Stir until mixed, add the cauliflower, and then simmer until cauliflower starts to break apart. Taste and add salt as needed. Add the chicken, and cook until no longer pink, about ten minutes. Serve with rice.

Indian cucumber salad

I just made this salad up, but it turned out so well as an accompaniment to Indian food that I thought I should post it. It's quick and easy to make, and for those who don't like American cucumbers, you can often get the "burpless" smaller varieties at Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores.


  • 1 large cucumber, skinned and cut into thick slices (halved depending on cucumber size)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
Grind cumin seeds and black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Pour in vinegar, water, sugar, and mix. Pour over cucumber slices, and garnish with cilantro.