Chickpea and Potato Curry with Pattypan Squash

This is a warming, deliciously spicy dish for those meatless nights  (economic conditions are helping me with doing more of those), and you won't at all  be missing meat here either.  Caramelizing the onion gives it an extra jolt of flavor.  I made enough soaked and boiled chickpeas for two dishes, this and a nifty bowl of hummus with lots of mint and garlic.  I figure if you're going to the trouble of doing them yourself, might as well fix a bit extra.  Once the beans are ready, everything comes together pretty easily. 

The first thing is to soak your chickpeas, covered with water by at least 3 inches, overnight.  Next day, drain and cover with water, again by 3 inches,  in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to just simmering, skimming froth, and cook til tender (not mushy).  This depends on the age of the beans, etc. perhaps 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.  Drain in a colander, reserving some of the water for later, rinse and remove any loose skins.  Set aside.


Braised Beef with Pioppini Mushrooms and Dumplings, from Book Reviewed Culinaria Germany

I have to admit to being given this book, Culinaria Germany, almost a year ago, and never having been particularly interested in the cuisine of Germany, (sad to say) hadn't gotten around to really digging into it until this week.  What made me pull the heavy tome off the shelf was reading Cynthia Bertelsen's review of Culinaria Russia, which she entitled: A Picture Cookbook for Grownups.  It made me realize that I owned one of that series of big fat picture cookbooks and needed to get it out immediately.

This is a fantastic book, and if the rest of the Culinaria set is as good, I want them all.  With it's lavish photography,  fascinating historical background generously mixed in, the geographical and cultural notes with meticulous attention to detail, the FOOD, and RECIPES, what more could anyone want?  Since I love history, I love good travel photography, and then of course food and recipes, you know I love.  Bertelsen says in her review:  "I don’t know about you, but for me the best “foodie” thing since sliced bread is the Köneman Culinaria regions-of-the-world series, Christine Metzger, editor (now published apparently by H. F. Ullmann)."  And, I would have to agree.

Unfortunately for those of us in Hilo, Hawaii, where bookstores fold to be replaced by ever more drug stores, I may have to wait.  These are heavy books and the postage would be astronomical if ordered online.  They are at least on my wish list.

I determined to work my way from front to back, but kept getting sidetracked, jumping around with so much to absorb, leaving various bookmarks.  The book is organized according to the country's regions, the first area being Thuringia.  And, it is here that dumplings first begin to be mentioned in all their splendid variety, appropriately in a section entitled "Dumplings with.... "  Now I do have an old recipe favorite, Chicken Paprika with Dumplings, which I haven't made in quite a few years (it too needs to come back into circulation) but that was the extent of my dumplings acquaintanceship.


Favorite Fishy Patties for Daring Cooks

I would never have thought to post about some mundane fish patties were it not for this month's challenge.  The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

Those aren't green sunflower seeds, it's the parsley ground in with them.

As it turns out, this was an opportunity to improv off a favorite easy recipe of mine, whose source is lost in the distant past..  These patties are very simple, using no flour or eggs, but ground sunflower seeds for the binder, which works very well.  They hold together beautifully.  It calls for a can of salmon, tuna, or mackerel, but as I had some left-over cooked salmon and perhaps half a can of sardines, guess what went in these?  Add to that whatever herbs you like, half an onion, and some vinegar.  I told you this was easy.  As an added bonus, the recipe is so versatile.  Different seasonings, different fish.  You can see the orange flecks of salmon in there, bits of green parsley.  If I had any dill that would have been an obvious choice.


Mahimahi with Bells and Onions

Sometimes life makes promises that don't pan out.  Take that photo on my masthead.  The mango trees are doing it again - blooming like there's no tomorrow.  Hoping for the best.  But, here in Puna it all depends upon the weather, and mostly we can count on not getting mangoes.  Maybe one or two.  All due to rain at the wrong time.

The Allspice tree is blooming too.  And, that's another story.  A funnier one.  Or sadder. It blooms every year, but never makes any babies.  Do you know why?  You're waiting with bated breath I can tell.  Because it needs a tree of the opposite sex. Duh. Yes, sex is involved here.  The only problem with trees being that they have no external appendages by which one might tell which sex they are.  So, because my poor darling was lonely, I went out and purchased another tree, which could be of the same sex or the opposite.  Who knows?  At least not until it's big enough to make babies.  Enough about things that disappoint.

As far as this meal goes, what can I say?  It is basically a technique, and a favorite go-to of mine for chicken thighs, fish or tenderloin steaks.  I haven't posted about it before because it just seems too simple.  But, aren't the best things in life often simple?  And this one never disappoints.  You put whatever it is on top of some veggies that have been drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with herbs, (in the case of chicken, lots of garlic) salt and pepper.  Cook at 400F and that is it.  The cooking times depend on what you have.  Meal in a pan.