Chef Monica Pope writes about eating & cooking where your food lives

Local Food, Trendy? Whatever It Takes… April 11, 2010

Mild Coconut Curry with Local Vegetables

Green Plum Cooking School – Sat, April 3rd

Today, I’m making a mild coconut curry with local vegetables.  Just so you know, the Pope don’t do “mild,” or so I’m thinking.  I’m afraid it’s going to be boring.  The recipe calls for green peppers, squash, eggplant, corn, green beans — you get the idea, summer vegetables, most anywhere.  Here in Houston, we’re smack into spring, which anywhere else would be summer, but the whole point of this dish is that you can utilize any vegetables you find at the farmers market right now — pick five or go for the sky as your limit.

The recipe also calls for lentils, of which I have four varieties down in the t’afia kitchen, so I bring them all up.  The only thing I’ve prepared ahead of time is to roast some small beets, mainly to see if I could actually get them to cook in an hour and I also didn’t want them to discolor the curry by cooking them with the other vegetables.  Pink curry is… well, pink…and sometimes that color doesn’t quite translate.  Also, when we did beets last year when we were “cooking with Alice,” trying to fully cook beets during a one hour class was one of my only failures; we ate very al dente beets that day!

We start with lilies, of which I have many (that’s why I did a five-lilies soup for Easter). You know, we named our child after the lily because she makes us cry with joy, in Yiddish the word is kvell. But, of course, we chose the Lili Taylor (indie actress) and Lili Fini Zanuck (Hollywood producer) spelling because I’m a little bit country and a little bit Hollywood!

The allium genus consists of hundreds of varieties commonly known as onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, ramps and so on.  They are of great importance in the kitchen and form the base of most stocks and sauces, the aromatics of braising liquids, the underpinnings of well-made soup – basically, all things good in the kitchen.

I open the first bag of lentils and promptly drop the crimson legumes.  I take a deep breath and decide not to cry over spilled lentils, but mention my crying on Top Chef Masters.  I begin to cook the lentils and the potatoes together — I have local red potatoes and four types of lentils (crimson, black, white and green).  The black lentils are referred to as beluga because they resemble beluga caviar, that’s great marketing when you can make a lowly legume seem like an extravagant ingredient, right Oleg?

Potatoes & Lentils




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