08 June 2010


This dish is a basic cabbage & carrot soup. I wanted to keep it really simple, so I threw in some water, fenugreek seeds, and carrots, and let it all come up to a boil. Then, when the water was boiling, I threw in some turmeric, a bit of salt, and some red chile flakes. I dropped down the heat to medium low (gas burners are wonderful things, no?) and went to chop up the cabbage. I roughly chopped the cabbage, and added it to the pot when I could see through the fenugreek seeds. The seeds take the longest to cook, and I wanted them to release their thickening powers before adding anything else. Then, I added in the cabbage, and let it all cook together for roughly five minutes or so. I turned off the heat, and stirred in about a cup or so (for roughly 2.5 litres of water) of coconut milk. For a dish with so few components, it was very tasty.

Steve managed to find some sweet potatoes and bell peppers (both of which I hate to eat, but enjoy cooking because they're so pleasing to look at) at the store on Manager's Special. At any decent food store, you'll find various little bags of vegetables priced at about $1, with about two or so pounds of vegetables. They'll frequently feature ingredients that are fairly expensive at full price, so it makes sense to take advantage of those Manager's Special bags. The neat thing is that you never know what you'll wind up with, because each store and each day has something a little bit different.

Because I wanted to control the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, I added many different spices. After the oil in the wok got very hot, I added fennel seeds, ajwain seeds, and cumin seeds (in that order). When they were done popping, I added the sweet potatoes, and tossed them in the spices and the oil very quickly, so as to get everything coated and evenly heated through. When the potatoes started to steam, I dropped down the heat to medium low, and covered it tightly with the lid. This gave me time to chop up the peppers.

Because red bell peppers have more sweetness (and sugars) than the green ones, I chopped up the green bell peppers a little more roughly, and in slightly larger pieces than the red ones. Every five minutes or so, I'd go back and stir up the potatoes, so as to prevent sticking (for about 20 minutes or so). When the potatoes were about half cooked, I stirred in the bell peppers, some thyme, and salt. I tossed everything to combine the ingredients thoroughly, and put the lid back on. While the whole thing cooked for a few more minutes (I needed another 10 minutes, but that's because the sweet potatoes were roughly cut; a smaller dice would make it quicker cooking). The pan dried out a few times, so I added a bit of water to keep it from sticking. If this were white potatoes, I wouldn't need to bother, but because sweet potatoes have so much sugar in them, you need to be careful to keep them from sticking to the pan and to keep them from burning.

At the end of the cooking process, I added some minced garlic, and turned off the heat to let it cook the garlic with the residual heat in the pot.

I found Brussels sprouts in the store for 50¢ a pound, which is very cheap. I decided to do a very quick cooking, with mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, and crushed coriander seeds (in that order). Once the seeds were popped, in went the trimmed sprouts. These Brussels sprouts were extremely small, so I didn't bother to cut them into smaller pieces. I'd say they were a bit smaller than a ping pong ball.

Anyway, on with the food. Once the sprouts started getting translucent, I stirred in some dijon mustard, white miso, salt, soy sauce, minced garlic, and lots of red chile flakes. To dissolve the miso, I threw in a couple of tablespoons of water, while stirring constantly. I turned off the heat, and let them cook in the residual heat of the pot.

It may seem like a fair bit of food to cook in one day, but if you notice, there were large gaps during the cooking processes of all the dishes. The quickest one was the Brussels sprouts, so I did them last. The longest cooking was the sweet potato dish, so I started on it first. Essentially, while one dish is parked on the burner over a lower heat, I can start working on the next dish that will have to do the same thing after I get it started.

Here was my work flow, so you can follow along at home if you want to.

  1. Pour cold water into a pot, and add fenugreek seeds. Place on stove over high heat, and walk away.
  2. Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Heat wok, add oil, add spices, add sweet potatoes. Toss toss toss. Slam on lid, walk away.
  3. Slice carrots into even slices. Throw into pot with fenugreek seeds, and walk away. While you're at the stove, this is a great time to stir up the sweet potatoes.
  4. Chop up bell peppers. Set aside.
  5. Chop up cabbage, set aside. Go back and stir the sweet potatoes.
  6. If you're as fast as I am with the chopping, you'll also have time to trim up the Brussels Sprouts right now. If you're not, you'll have time later. Either way, we need to get stuff into the pots on the stove. About 15 minutes should have elapsed by now since you put stuff on the stove.
  7. Dump cabbage into pot with carrots, add other seasonings, drop down heat, close lid.
  8. Add bell peppers to the pot with sweet potatoes, and stir thoroughly. Drop down heat, slam on lid, walk away.
  9. If you haven't trimmed your brussels sprouts, go for it now. You have 10 minutes before anything else needs to happen. If you have already trimmed your brussels sprouts, set a timer for 10 minutes, and go clean up around the kitchen. By now, you probably have a sizeable mess in the sink from all those vegetables you've chopped, trimmed, and peeled. This is also a good time to get yourself a glass of water, because by now, all this walking away stuff makes you thirsty! The cook must not collapse from dehydration, so remember to keep yourself drinking water.
  10. Splash water into the sweet potato pot if needed, and throw in some coconut milk into the cabbage pot, and turn off both burners. My stove is small, so I needed to clear off the stove to cook the brussels sprouts. If you have a non-idiotic kitchen layout, and have a reasonable sized stove, you can probably cook the Brussels sprouts at the same time that you cook the other dishes. However, having three burners running at the same time is a very good way to pass out from heat exhaustion, because your kitchen will start feeling like an inferno.
  11. Cook the brussels sprouts from start to finish. If you have beautiful tiny ones like I did, you'll have them done in 10 minutes. If you're cooking them much longer than that, they get overcooked, and mushy. Ew. When you're at the step where the Brussels Sprouts are just parked on the stove, go back and clean up a bit more.
I hope this gives you a few ideas of your own for what to do with the new vegetables coming out in the market now.