Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for November, 2010

Apple Sauce

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 24, 2010

We did the Thanksgiving meal last Sunday and ate the leftovers on Monday.  Now I am uninspired to contribute my 2 pennies worth to the slathers of thanksgiving recipes and advice out there.  My mind and tongue want simple for the rest of the week. So apple sauce it is.  N’s grandmother never removed the peel and her apple sauce had this lovely pink hue and flavor.  That is the apple sauce I aspire to. The recipe follows:


4 large apples (I used honeycrisp, they are perfectly sweet and tart)

1/4 cup or less sugar (optional)

Squeeze of lemon (optional)


Cut apples into chunks (no need to peel)  and place in a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.  Add the water and close the lid.  Cook on medium-low for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft.  Add the sugar and cook with constant stirring to caramelize the sugar a little-about 5 min.  Cool slightly and pass it through a food mill if you have one.  If you don’t,  transferthe apples to a food processor and pulse briefly until smooth.  Taste and adjust the sugar and add that squeeze of lemon if the sweet and tart are not properly balanced in your sauce.   Pack for lunch or serve as dessert.

Posted in Dessert, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Shepherd’s Pie

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 13, 2010

This is winter comfort food and a family favorite.  When his grandmother makes this, my son (and my dog) beg for it for breakfast (and frequently get it).   I have altered the family version to pack it full of vegetables, although my son claims that his grandmother’s version is in a different zone altogether.  So I present both recipes for the meat eaters (version II)  and for those who want this to be a one pot meat which does not require a vegetable side (Version I).  I also make and bake it in a cast iron skillet, which cuts down the number of dishes used.  My version first:

Shepherd’s Pie (Version 1: full of vegetables)

Ingredients for the meat:

2 lbs 96% grass fed ground beef
1 large onion, diced in the food processor
3 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped in the food processor
4 slow roasted tomatoes  (I usually have this in the freezer, but substitute sun dried or fresh tomatoes if you dont have these)
3 medium sized carrots, diced
1 large red pepper+ 1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped in the food processor
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp pepper
3-4 tsp corn starch (this will depend on the kind of tomatoes used)
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbs. butter+3 tbs.oil
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste

Ingredients for Mashed Potatoes

6 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large pices
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
4 tbs. butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
few grinds of black pepper

Mashed Potatoes:

Make the mashed potatoes, your favorite recipe will do.  Here is mine.  Boil 6 medium sized potatoes until soft.  While the potatoes are boiling,  melt 2 tbs. of butter and fry the onions and garlic on a medium to low flame until the onions are browned and caramelized.  Drain the cooked potatoes and return to the pot.  Add a bit of milk, the remaining butter, salt and pepper.  Using a fork, fluff the potatoes till they feel smooth.  These should be just a little more liquidy than regular mashed potatoes because you will want to spread these on top of the meat.


Preheat oven to 375˚F. Melt butter and oil  in the skillet. Add the onions and fry until soft, but not brown. Add the peppers, carrots and the  fresh tomatoes and allow them to cook down, so that very little liquid remains in your skillet.  Add the beef and cook until the beef  is essentially done. Then add the slow roasted tomatoes, peas and corn and cook for a further 5 minutes till the peas and corn are cooked through. Sprinkle the flour 1 tsp at a time and mix well. Gradually stir in the stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer until thickened, adding one more tsp of corn starch if need. Add  salt and pepper to taste.  Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the casserole, and dot with additional butter, cut in small pieces. Bake for 25-35 min, until the meat is bubbling and the potatoes are somewhat browned.

Version II (the family recipe provided by JG)

3 Tbs. butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 Tbs. flour
2/3 C. chicken stock
2 C. ground or diced lamb (can also use ground beef, but lamb is better)
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or 1 drained can of diced tomatoes;  the best is slow-roasted tomatoes which follows)
healthy pinch of dried thyme
mashed potatoes for the top of casserole (about 1½ lbs potatoes) with the usual ingredients.)

Melt 3 Tbs. butter in skillet. Add the onions and fry until soft, but not brown. Add the lamb, and cook until lamb is essentially done. Sprinkle the flour over the lamb and onions, and mix well. Gradually stir in the stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer until thickened. Add the tomatoes, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the casserole, and dot with additional butter, cut in small pieces. Bake in a preheated oven, 375° for 25-30 min. Serves 4.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes (From JG)

2 lbs. plum tomatoes (12-14)
2 Tbs. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 250°. Cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half and remove the seeds by poking them out with your fingertip. Toss the tomato halves with the oil, salt, sugar, and thyme in a bowl. Spread them cut side up on a baking sheet. Bake until they are slightly browned on the edges, the skins have wrinkled and they have the texture of a soft prune, 2-3 hours. (I usually find the longer time is necessary). The baking time varies depending on the ripeness and juiciness of the tomatoes.

These can be used in anything – always makes it better. Obviously, as long as you’re doing it, you may as well do at least a double recipe, as they freeze well, and get used in a hurry.

Posted in Main Dishes, Meat | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A South Indian Meal: Part IV (fried potatoes)

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 6, 2010

This is the fourth and last of the accompaniments that go with the South Indian Meal that is made up of Dosa, Sambar, Chutney and potatoes.  These potatoes are comfort food, if there ever was one and versions of it are made in every household in India.  I make no claims to the authenticity of the dish here.  I view Indian dishes the same way the Greeks viewed their epics.  The bards used a stock set of phrases that were recognizably Homeric (“bright eye Athena”, “Odysseus, the old fox”) and improvised the rest.  It just sounded familiar and the whole epic did not have to be memorized.   That is what most of us also do with cooking.  Add a few stock”Indian” ingredients and improvise the rest, depending on what you have in your pantry and fridge.

To this dish, you can add any of the following: carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, grated beets, take your pick.  However, do take the trouble to get/prepare some of the ingredients that make this dish “Indian tasting” or South Indian  tasting (mustard seeds, curry leaves, grated ginger, turmeric). I have described these in detail in the last 3 posts, here, here and here.


3 medium-large potatoes, microwaved for 5 min total  (I used Yukon Golds)

1/2 a large onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper diced

1 tsp minced ginger

2 tbs. cooking oil

pinch of asafoetida (optional)

1-2 dried red cayenne peppers (optional)

1 tsp black mustard seeds

8-10 curry leaves

2 tbs. roasted unsalted peanuts

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/3 cup water

Salt to taste

Cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a large skillet or thin walled cast iron wok, heat the cooking oil.  Then add the curry leaves, ginger,  asafoetida, cayenne peppers,  mustard and the roasted peanuts.  Fry until the oil becomes aromatic.  Then add the onions and fry until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 min.  Then add the bell peppers and fry for another 5 min.  Then add the potatoes and the turmeric  and salt.  Stir fry until the potatoes begin to  brown.  Then add the water and mix well.  Cover with a lid and lower the flame and cook until the water is fully incorporated into the potatoes and the potatoes are soft.  Remove the lid and cook for a few min on high flame, so that the potatoes begin to brown a little (this step is optional).  Garnish with cilantro (if using) and serve as a side dish with any Indian meal or with dosas as I have suggested in the last 3 posts.

Posted in Asian, Breakfast, Brunch, Indian Food, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A South Indian Meal Part III: Coconut Mango Chutney

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 1, 2010

This is the third part of the meal consisting of Dosa, sambar, potatoes and chutney.  This delectable chutney is usually made of coconut and tamarind plus spices.  Here, I have substituted a mango for the tamarind, because I had a -too sour to eat as is- mango in the fridge that I needed to get rid of.

About the special ingredients: getting a fresh cononut extracted from the shell is a real chore, so just get it pre-grated in the frozen section of any Indian grocery store.

The dals/lentils (urad and channa) can also be obtained from the Indian grocery store.  Chana (yellow split pea) is also available in regular grocery stores.  These will need to be dry roasted (see below).

Curry leaves (see Part I of these series) can also be obtained from the Indian grocery store.  There is no substitute, but omitting it will be fine. So here we go.


3/4 cup shredded fresh or frozen coconut (bring to room temperature if using frozen)

1 small mango, peeled and seeded (choose something with low fiber content like an Ataulfo or Manilla)

2 tsp roasted urad and chana dal (lentils, available at any Indian grocery store)

1/2 tsp salt or to taste

1 tsp mustard seeds

pinch of asafetida (optional)

8-10 curry leaves

2-3 dry red cayenne peppers, broken to bits

1/2 ” piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 tbs. oil

Cilantro for garnish (optional)

1-2 tsp water if needed.

First, dry roast the lentils. Heat a thick bottomed cast iron skillet or griddle till hot and then add 2 tbs. each of the urad and chana dal.  Stir around on the skillet till the lentils begin to turn red and become fragrant: a couple of minutes.  Use 2 tsp of the mix in the chutney and store the rest at room temp for another day. Put the 2 tsp of roasted dal into a coffee grinder and grind to a coarse powder/mex if your food processor is not powerful.  If you have a powerful food processor, you can skip this step.

Second, temper. Heat one tbs of oil in a small sauce pan.  When hot, add the mustard seeds, roasted lentils, curry leaves, cayenne peppers, ginger and asoefetida.  Stir fry the mex till it is aromatic (a couple of minutes), then turn off the stove.

Next, grind the chutney.  Using a food processor, grind together the coconut, mango, salt til it resembles a coarse paste.  Then add the tempering to it and briefly grind again, so that some of the ingredients becomes fully incorporated into the chutney while the others stay coarse.  Add a bit of water if needed, then adjust the salt.  Garnish with cilantro if desired.  Serve as a side with any Indian meal (including dosas as I have suggested).

Posted in Asian, Breakfast, Brunch, condiments, Indian Food, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

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