Martha. Domestic God. She is completely nuts, and I love her for it. I am a big fan of her magazine...it is inspiring in so many different areas. One regular feature is the "What's For Dinner" recipe section, in which there are 4 recipes to make up one entire menu, main course, side dishes and dessert.
I have always wanted to cook all 4 recipes, so, when faced with dinner guests the other night, I turned to Martha and the January issue of Living to guide me. The 4-course menu that month included Shrimp Tikka Masala, Toasted Coconut Rice, Honey Roasted Eggplant with Chiles, and Pistachio Brittle with Ice Cream. This menu called to me, as it is the middle of dreary old, cold, snowy winter. This menu screams warm climate, sunshine, HEAT.
I started with the pistachio brittle. This was my first time making candy... ever. I was nervous, and I had not armed myself with a candy thermometer or even a "wet pastry brush." But I followed the recipe, and, even lacking the pastry brush to wet down the sides and avoid crystallization, the brittle turned out!! It was much easier than I ever expected, and now I find myself thinking about all the brittle possibilities. Endless!
I made the coconut rice next. Ohhhhh mercy me, the smell of toasted coconut. The recipe calls for unsweetened coconut. You will find this in the Indian section of your grocery store... The bag I have is called "coconut powder."
The eggplant was the easiest. Olive oil, chiles and honey to coat eggplant cubes which you then roast.
The shrimp was sooo tasty. I did not shell the shrimp. Yes, my guests had to get a little messy and do a little work at dinner... but who doesn't love a good sticky-finger meal? I also left out the tomato paste and replaced it with Mango chutney, as my Sis-in-law cannot eat tomatoes. I recommend this change. the sweetness was quite nice. I also used curry powder instead of the garam masala, and a mixture of spices in place of chili powder.
I also doubled all the recipes, except for the brittle. Here are all the recipes as I made them, with links to the originals from the magazine.
From Martha Stewart Living
-Vegetable oil cooking spray, for baking sheet
-1/2 cup shelled raw unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup water
-Mango or vanilla ice cream
1. Coat a 13-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Sift pistachios using a fine sieve to remove dust and fine pieces. Heat sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and washing sides of pan often with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming, until dark golden, about 9 minutes.
2. Stir in pistachios, and immediately pour mixture onto baking sheet. Distribute pistachios evenly using a rubber spatula. Let stand until hardened, about 15 minutes.
3. Lightly bang baking sheet on a counter to break brittle into pieces. Serve with ice cream.
Toasted Coconut Rice
From this recipe in Living
-1.5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
-2 cups basmati rice
-4 cups water
-3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook coconut, stirring, until golden brown, about 6 minutes.
2. Set aside 2 tablespoons coconut. Stir rice into pan with remaining coconut. Add water and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Garnish with reserved coconut.
Honey Roasted Eggplant with Chiles
adapted from this Martha recipe
-4 regular eggplants, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
-3 green chiles, chopped fine
-1/2 cup honey
-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss eggplants with chiles, honey, and oil to coat.
2. Roast eggplants and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet until eggplant is golden, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
Shrimp Tikka Masala
adapted from this recipe
-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 large onions, thinly sliced
-5-6 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
-5 cloves of garlic, grated
-2 Tablespoons sweet mango chutney
-2 Tablespoons curry powder
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1/4 teaspoon cardamom
-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
-2 cups water
-2 lbs. large (20-30 ct.; about 40 total) shrimp, shells on
-1/2 cup plain yogurt
-Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a stockpot over medium heat. Cook onion until golden, about 20 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, chutney and spices, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
2. Add water and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.