March is always a busy month for us. Grace, my mother, three of our good friends and I all have birthdays in March. (That's a lot of birthday cakes; though some how I got through the whole month without baking even one this year.) Add St Patricks Day and that's a lot going on. (I did make corned beef and cabbage.) Frankly, all the need for celebration stresses me out. I was very relieved to turn the calendar page this weekend and get back into the routine. Jason was out of town for the last ten days of March, so having him back made getting into our normal routine that much more wonderful.
This weekend I went a little crazy in the kitchen. Before I forget, I thought I'd post links to the recipes I used. If you see a recipe here that you want me to discuss more thoroughly, let me know in the comments.
Jason got home late Friday night, so I thought a special Welcome Back breakfast would be appropriate. David Lebovitz's Sugar-Crusted Popovers with Masala Chai from Journey Kitchen.
Gracie looks forward to spending her own money each week at the Farmer's Market on a couple of honey sticks and a donut from Donut Rising, but Donut Rising doesn't come out to the market on rainy days. As much as I don't want to encourage the donut habit, I was oddly in the mood for something donut-like myself, so I made these cinnamon-sugar-crusted popovers. They totally satisfied the donut craving, made breakfast feel like a mini-celebration of Jason's return and left me with plenty of time to watch a slideshow of Jason's photos from his trip while they "popped" in the oven.
I like chai. When I was in high school I made chai at home quite often, but I can't recall making it at all in the last five years or so. This is especially odd to me, because Grace loves Chico Chai. She always gets a sample at the farmers market and every so often I'll buy a quart to take home to show those nice vendors that I am not a total cheapskate. (I've purchase small wedges of cheese from the Pedrozo Dairy booth both of the last two weeks for the same reason, and we haven't opened either one.) I enjoy a cup of Chico Chai every so often, but I do prefer to make my own chai from scratch. This recipe from Journey Kitchen has the blend of spices that I prefer. Not to licorice-y, not too spicy. Sweet, creamy, with warm notes from all the right spices. I doubled it and used about a third of a cup of sugar for the sweetener. Unfortunately, I decaffeinated myself about a year ago, so I can't have chai very often unless I find some good-quality loose leaf decaf Indian black tea somewhere. Come to think of it, maybe the caffeine in the chai I drank both mornings this weekend is responsible for me being so productive in the kitchen.
Friday night I made this Coconut Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks. I used all split yellow peas and no red lentils, because of the price difference. It was a good soup. All the flavors melded and made that "Indian food" flavor, in which I can't differentiate between the individual spices, the ginger and the coconut. I've frozen the leftovers and plan to eat them for lunch over jasmine or basmati rice.
Saturday afternoon I made another recipe from Journey kitchen, Beetroot with Beef, and another recipe from 101 Cookbooks, Saag Paneer, a spinach and cheese dish.
The beet stew called for mutton, but that isn't readily available, so I subbed 3/4 of a pound of sirloin steak from Chaffin Orchards. It was good, but I want to try it or something similar with goat (chevon) or sheep (mutton) some time.
The Saag Paneer was good. I've been craving lower carb foods lately, but I'm not a big fan of meat, so Saag Paneer sounded really good when I read about it online. I think I've had Trader Joe's shelf stable version, but of course, the made-with-fresh-ingredients was much better. Saag Paneer is a spinach dish with Indian Paneer cheese. I subbed whey and a little whole milk for the buttermilk in the recipe. (Ok, I say that I am craving low-carb foods lately, and that's true, but I must admit that I ate my Saag Paneer over rice.)
Taken separately, all of this Indian food might be a little dull. I needed all three dishes together over jasmine rice to satisfy my Indian food craving, which is fine because I needed all those hours in the kitchen to feel like I was back in my happy routine.