Paint Your Plate


Discover a Culinary Rainbow With Simple Summer Recipes That Pack a Colorful and Nutritious Punch

Summer’s abundance presents a tantalizing problem: how do we choose what to eat from this embarrassment of riches? One way to organize your pleasant amblings through the farmer’s market is to shop by color. As simple as this sounds, the concept is backed by research. Phytochemicals, the vitamins and minerals found in plants that give them their brilliant hues, have been found to prevent and treat disease, and we require a variety of these nutrients from across the color spectrum to stay healthy.

When you “eat your colors,” as Michael Pollan advises in his book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (and maybe your mother also mentioned), you get healthy doses of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, as well as antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids. These protect our cells from the effects of environmental toxins and from free radicals, which increase dramatically as we age, and in turn age us. Antioxidants have also been shown to help battle heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Vegan chef and cookbook author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says shopping and cooking by color actually makes nutrition easier. Simply look at your basket: folate makes kale green, betacyanin makes beets red, lutein makes corn yellow, beta-carotene makes mangos and carrots orange, and so on. Try buying and cooking a different color every week, or assembling the most colorful dishes you can.

Blueberries, a key ingredient in the chilled blueberry mango soup recipe that follows, are packed with one of the most powerful antioxidants around, anthocyanin. The avocados, peppers and greens in the accompanying summer salad provide lutein, more antioxidants, folate, vitamins A, C, and K, and manganese.

These refreshing summer recipes are simple to prepare and require the freshest ingredients available (buy organic when possible). They taste as rich as the season, and their appetizing rainbow of colors provides excellent support for overall vitality.

Read the full article, plus recipes, here.

Cabbage Love (and 3 Recipes)


Cabbage is a vegetable for hard times.

Think of bubble and squeak, the quick Welsh dish of fried cabbage and potato; Cabbage Patch Kids with their patched up clothes; or famous famines and their winters of boiled cabbages.

But there’s no need to be ashamed: ancient Greeks and Romans ate cabbage. Why shouldn’t we?

Cabbage is a glamorously international vegetable, grown prodigiously in China, India, Russia, and Indonesia (as well as Poland and the Ukraine, as you would expect).

For frugal types — or those new to frugal living — cabbage is a gold mine: good for you and cheap. Red cabbage is 69 cents a pound (99 for organic) versus radicchio (its cousin in looks) at $3.99 a pound, and vitamin-packed kale at a minimum of $2.99 a pound.

Cabbage has a lot of vitamin C and glutamine, making it a great anti-inflammatory. It also has some folate and a little bit of protein.

I decided to spend some weeks cooking with cabbage and see how I liked it. I ate the green raw, cooked the red, sampled it pickled and in soup. The following recipes are the result of my experiments. One word of caution: raw cabbage can be verychallenging on the digestion. Not recommended for sensitive guts.

One last word about the humble cabbage: while a slow-witted person might be a cabbagehead, a special someone could be a petit chou.

Green Cabbage Salad with Blue Cheese and Olives (serves 4)
Crunchy and lively with the salty blue cheese and the piquant lime, this is an easy-to-make salad, appetizer, or dinner accompaniment. Serve with trout and white wine for a larger meal. Vegan variation: omit the cheese add salt and pecans (apple optional).

4 cups raw green cabbage (about 1/2 a med head)
8 Tblsp black olives, sliced
4 oz blue cheese, cubed
French dressing

French Dressing. Put all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well.
4 oz fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
2 oz olive oil
salt & pepper

How to assemble:
Slice cabbage into fine ribbons and place in a colander in the sink. Pour a kettle of boiling water over it to make it easier to digest. (Alternately, you could sautee the cabbage for 4 minutes to break it down further.) In 4 soup plates, place 1 cup of the cabbage, top with cheese, olives, and dress. Toss with pepper. Voila!

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage (serves 6 – 8)
Hearty, tangy, pungent, a good accompaniment for eggs, fish, or meat, this is a classic braised cabbage. It is simple, but has a long cooking time. Adapted from an English cookbook I found in California years ago, The Home Book of Vegetarian Cookery by N.B. and R.B. Highton, 1964.

1 red cabbage (about 1 lb)
1 oz butter
1 small chopped white onion
1 Tblsp brown sugar
1 cooking apple
2 Tblsp apple vinegar
1 grated raw potato
1/4 – 1/2 pint stock
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1/2 tsp ground clove (or to taste)

How to assemble
Shred cabbage finely and wash. In a large saucepan, heat the butter. Add the onion and brown sugar and until brown. Add the cabbage, apple, potato, salt and spices. Stir well. Add the stock. Simmer until tender, about 2 hours. Check periodically and add more liquid if necessary to prevent burning. Taste–it should be sweet and sour. Adjust the seasonings (try adding a little more vinegar to make it sweeter). Serve hot.

Kim Chee or Kimchi (lasts almost a lifetime, feeds everyone)
Delicious, potent, great for digestive health, kim chee is Korea’s national treasure. Said to cure lab animals infected with avian flu virus, this stuff will keep your mouth and belly breathing fire. Perfect for surviving any recession! Enjoy at work but expect to clear the room. To the uninitiated, it can smell as putrid as garbage rotting in the summer sun. To the initiated it is heaven in a pickled form. Yum! Recipe adapated from Fabulous

3 Tblsp plus 1 tsp pickling salt 6 cups water
2 pounds Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch squares
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths, then slivered
1 1/2 Tblsp minced fresh ginger
2 Tblsp Korean ground dried hot pepper (or other mildly hot ground red pepper)
1 tsp sugar

How to assemble
1. Create a brine by dissolving 3 tablespoons salt in water. Put the cabbage into a large bowl (not plastic or other reactive material) and pour the brine over it. Weight the cabbage down with a plate. Let stand 12 hours.

2. Drain the cabbage and reserve the brine. Mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the 1 tsp salt. Pack the mixture into a 2-quart jar. Pour enough of the reserved brine over the cabbage to cover it. Push a freezer bag into the mouth of the jar, and pour the remaining brine into the bag. Seal the jar. Let the kimchi ferment in a cool place, at a temperature no higher than 68° F, for 3 to 6 days, until the kimchi is as sour as you like.

3. Remove the brine bag, and cap the jar tightly. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months.

My Mother, Making Curry

AS PUBLISHED IN The Paupered Chef

Joelle Hann writes about her family roots in curry, pomegranate martinis, and the etymology of “asafoetida” — an apparently stinky ingredient that the French call “devil’s shit,” and which holds the secret to vegetarian Indian cooking.

My mother was born in New Delhi, India, on midsummer night’s eve — June 24—1940. World War II was raging in the Western world, and India was not far from declaring its independence from Britain. Her parents worked for the Lord and Lady Viceroy to India, and had been living in India for some time, her mother as the seamstress, and her father, a Rolls Royce engineer, as the chauffeur.

Although they were servants, my grandparents had servants themselves. My mother had an ayah, or nannie, to tend to her, and no doubt the ayah took my mother along on visits to the Viceroy’s kitchen when she went looking for snacks, gossip, and companionship. It was in the steamy subcontinental kitchen that my mother acquired her love for the pungent aromas of Indian cooking, and, as an adult with a family of her own, she frequently recreated the meals she remembered so fondly from childhood. (My mother and my grandparents were eventually evacuated from India by the British Army in 1946).

That was fine with us. We all liked curry. In fact, on a family trip to England, when I was 14, my father and I competed to see who could eat the hottest curry. Trembling — crying, really, our eyes streaming with water, our palates blasted from the merciless spice — we worked our way through a few curry palaces in London and in the south where he was from.

In spite of this pedigree, I have hesitated to make curries myself. My mother’s curries were prized staples of her cooking repertoire, but were also painfully elaborate to make with all the side dishes, popadums, chapattis, chutneys (homemade, of course). Personally, I don’t like complicated cooking and never want to be “slaving over a hot stove,” no matter who I’m cooking for.

But this past fall, after carting home a large head of cauliflower from the local Saturday farm stand, and not knowing at all what to do with it (white sauce? surely not) I discovered a simple, cheap, and by-golly delicious recipe for cauliflower and pea curry in my favorite cookbook. It does require a trip to an Indian-foods supply store as the three key spices are not ones you are going to find at C-Town, or even Whole Foods. But once you’ve purchased them, you pretty much have a lifetime’s supply ($3 or so each).

I made the curry again this past Friday for a friend who was visiting. It was warming, soothing, with nice alternating textures — crunchy here, juicy there — and not so labor intensive that I missed hanging out with company during the preparations. With a sweet Riesling to counter the spicy heat (we immediately ran out of mango chutney), it was energetic, provocative, and sociable, and it inspired a long and hilarious investigation into asafoetida, word and thing (it’s a tree gum, and one of the curry’s magic ingredients).

This recipe is borrowed from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. The ingredients that make this curry sing are asafoetida, green mango powder and garam masala. You can’t do without them, so plan ahead.

Curried Cauliflower with Peas
Feeds 4.

In order of appearance:
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp cumin, toasted and ground
¼ tsp asafoetida, grated1 tsp turmeric
¼ cup ginger, peeled and chopped
½ tsp cayenne4 tsp coriander, toasted and ground1 onion, thinly sliced
½ cup water1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 ½ tsp salt
1/2lb sugar-snap peas, strings removed (frozen peas okay)
2 tsp green mango powder (ground amchoor)
1 tsp garam masala
basmati ric
emango or other sweet chutneys offset the curry’s spicy punch

Heat the vegetable oil till hot (I used grapeseed oil since it doesn’t smoke), then add the cumin and asafoetida. Cook, stirring continuously for 30 seconds. Add the tumeric, ginger, cayenne, coriander, and onion, and cook until the onions are translucent-—a few minutes.

Add the cauliflower florets and salt. Stir. Add the ½ cup water then cover and turn the heat down. Cook until the cauliflower is done, but not limp, 10 minutes or less. You want the cauliflower to retain some crunch. Add the peas, stir, and cook for one more minute. Stir in the green mango powder and taste for salt.Serve over basmati rice.

What actually happened:
After heating the oil, and adding the toasted, ground cumin, I had to wait for the asafoetida. The guest of honor, Bruce, was trying to grate the required ¼ teaspoon amount from a block of the turgid stuff. About the size of a cake of soap, and clearly a resin, a “mass” of asafoetida resists being separated from itself. Previously I had tried hacking off a small piece with a finely-serrated kitchen knife; as a result, though, the warming flavor wasn’t distributed well through the other ingredients, and the meal lacked some essential kick. I think grating is the way to go. (Ed. note: if you have a mortar and pestle, many recommend the mash-it-up method)

Fun facts: Apparently, asafeotida “tears” are the purest — and most pungent — form. The “mass” or “massa” I own has been mixed with whole wheat flour to tame the stinky odor (asafoetida contains the Latin word “foetid” with means ‘to stink’). It’s been an important spice in Iran, Afghanistan, and India for centuries: Jains and purist Brahmins also like it because it gives flavor to their otherwise bland vegetarian meals which, for religious reasons, cannot contain garlic and onions.

Anyway, the asafoetida delay meant that the cumin was in the oil for probably 2 minutes rather than the called-for 30 seconds. After we got it in and cooking, I quickly chopped the ginger and slicing the onions — I wasn’t quite ready for this stage — and then added the spices. Everything cooked like blazes for a few minutes, then I turned the heat off completely and made pomegranate martinis.

I figured that the spices and onions would be fine for a while, since they didn’t need to be crisp, and that the fancy soup pot I was using — a Le Creuset, my roommate’s — would retain some heat so that it wouldn’t take much to reignite the cooking. Stopping the dinner preparations at this point to make drinks helped me to slow down, and my guests to include me back into the conversation. We all got happily tipsy on the pomegranate martinis and there was no rush to barrel on into the main meal. A good, filling, spicy curry should not be eaten in a panic, like you have a train to catch.

After martinis and salad, I brought the onions and spices back up to temperature (as I predicted, they came up quickly) and added the cauliflower and salt, stirred, added the water, covered and waited. Then went in half a bag, more or less, of frozen peas, and as a last gesture, the green mango powder. The original recipe calls for fresh sugar snap peas — but frozen peas (without the pod) work just as well to bring contrasting color and texture to the meal (I confess, I’ve never made it with the fresh peas). I had cooked the rice while we were having martinis — 2 cups for 5 people — and I served the peas and cauliflower over the rice, in white porcelain bowls. Yum.

AS PUBLISHED IN The Paupered Chef