This is one of my “Kitchen Sink Specials”. What you may ask is that?
Well, it’s what I call whatever I manage to whip together from what’s left in my kitchen. And hope it’s edible when I’m done 🙂 The good news is, pretty much most of the time, it is.
There’s no way around it, running low on food blows. But I always try to have a well stocked spice cabinet, to me, they can take a couple ho-hum ingredients and make them YUMMMMM.
So last week, I open my fridge and see my big bunch of fresh kale staring back at me and a lonely onion, that clearly wanted to make food friends with the kale. And little else, it was time to get busy scouting out the cabinets for things to add to the party.
The first cabinet presented me with a can of chickpeas. Promising.
The second cabinet delivered a box of couscous. Getting interesting.
The freezer had some left-over chicken stock for salvage. Score.
Now I’m on a roll! I’m feeling good about this so far. But could there be more?
Another peek into the cabinets produced some dried currants. I try to always have them on hand, for when the urge to make Uncle Jon’s Famous Sunday Scones strikes. I plan on covering those in a future post.
It’s now time to hit up the holy spot in my kitchen. Yup, my spice cabinet. Rows and rows of little stainless steel containers, with little glass window inserts on the top of each lid. Thank-You Ikea, you make my inner spice goddess happy.
I generally maintain a very well stocked spice cabinet. As the by-product of a multicultural home, France and India, I tend to know my way around spice. I like to think so anyway! I need a decent spice collection. I try my best to keep it stocked with the spices that I use on a regular basis, it’s my version of a well stocked pantry, except mine is all about the spice.
There are staples that must always reside in that cabinet. I’m big on whole spices, I like to toast my own and make my spice blends whenever I need some. As a rule of thumb I generally stay away from most pre-ground spices. You can’t compare store-bought ground cumin to your own freshly toasted whole cumin that you grind to order. Not even close. Nuh uh, you can’t.
Would I ever use pre-ground, if I was in a pinch and it was like the only available choice. Yah. But I try to avoid such spice emergencies as much as possible. It makes my inner spice goddess cry.
The spices that I think do best toasted whole, on an as needed basis, I store whole and raw. Those that are most convenient to use as ground spice blends, I buy in small batches, just enough to keep me going without risking them going stale.
Pre-ground spices or blends that would fit into that category for me include, curry powders, chile powders and turmeric. Yah, I tried grinding my turmeric from dried root. Let’s just say I’m sticking with buying pre-ground turmeric from now on. You only have to lose one stainless steel processor blade to turmeric to figure out buying the ground stuff is just plain easier 🙂
Even though I consider myself a spice freak, I don’t want to bother with having to blend my own curry powders. I probably should, but in the name of convenience and off-the-cuff cooking, I’m ok with buying good curry powders, instead of making my own. And my curry powder is so legit it doesn’t even have brand labels on it. It’s sold in see through plastic packaging, imported direct from India. I buy them at little Mom and Pop Indian grocery stores. Oh yah. That’s right. Legit. And very good, as well as extremely affordable.
Today’s Kitchen Sink Special will be Curried Kale and Chickpeas With Couscous.
- large bunch of kale
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 15 oz can of chickpeas
- handful of dried currants
- 3/4 cup chicken stock for couscous
- extra chicken stock for chickpea curry, amount will vary
- instant couscous
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
- 1-2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- sriracha sauce
- freshly grated ginger
- virgin coconut oil
- add heated chicken stock to instant couscous and currants. Stir well, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Follow the directions on the box for perfect results.
- chop the kale.
- slice the onion.
- peel garlic gloves and place in garlic press.
- drain can of chickpeas and rinse under cold water, leave to drain.
- heat pan over medium high heat, add coconut oil and fry your dry spices till fragrant. 30-60 seconds.
- add onions, stir well and cook till softened. Add garlic, freshly grated ginger and sriracha sauce.
- add the kale and cook till it begins to wilt.
- add chickpeas and peanut butter, stir well to combine.
- add extra chicken stock if needed to develop a cooking sauce to simmer in.
- simmer 20-30 minutes
- fluff couscous with fork before serving.
- serve curried kale and chickpeas over mound of couscous
First up is the couscous. It’s semolina, granules of durum wheat, I use instant couscous, it’s usually what is available in most Western grocery stores. It’s pre-steamed and then dried, all you have to do is add a hot liquid, stir, cover and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes and you end up with couscous. Uhm, YUMMM! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
I decided to heat up the left-over chicken stock that I salvaged from the freezer. Hello flavour. I also included a handful of dried currants. I like the spicy sweet thing. Once you have the couscous and currants busy getting soft and fluffy, it’s time to move on to the chickpeas and their sidekicks, kale and onion. Garlic is going to sneak in for a good time too. Cause I’m also a garlic fiend. Spice, onion and garlic, oh my! Spice, onion and garlic, oh my! Spic…uhm, I digress, let’s carry on!
I drained the chickpeas and gave them a quick rinse.
Roughly chopped the kale, stems and all, I like the bite from the stems and I like to use everything if I can, I don’t like to waste food. Slice the onion up and stuffed the garlic into my press. I pull out my favourite LeCrueset Karahi, grab my jar of coconut oil and gather my spices.
It’s time to get Kitchen Sink Special serious.
I preheat my pan over medium-high heat, when it’s good and hot I add my glob of coconut oil, add all the dry spices, fry till fragrant and then add the onions. Cook the onions till they begin to soften, then add the garlic and fresh grated ginger. Stir. Add a healthy squirt of Sriracha sauce, it’s a hot chili sauce. The bottle is pretty recognizable, clear plastic bottle, rooster on the front, green squirt-top cap.
There is always a bottle in my fridge. You aren’t allowed to live here if you don’t like it. Hmmm, maybe you could, if you didn’t like it then that would mean there was more for me.
No, you can’t live here if you don’t like it, you’re probably going to starve, cause I put it in everything. Well pretty much everything. I’m not kidding, I tried to make candied jalapeno ice-cream once. No lie. Maybe Sriracha ice-cream is next!
I like wickedly odd ideas. It doesn’t matter if I can’t eat it, as long as I got a good laugh out of it. Especially the looks from people when they go “you’re making what!?!”…candied jalapeno ice-cream, that’s what! Oh yah, so worth it 🙂
Add the chopped kale and cook till it begins to wilt. Add the rinsed chickpeas. Add the peanut butter. Give it all a good stir, add some extra chicken stock if you find it’s too dry. I want everything to stew a bit while it simmers, to help develop the flavours. I’m aiming to have a bit of sauce for it all to simmer in. So adjust your amount of liquid you need to get it there. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer. I usually aim for 20-30 minutes. It all depends on how hungry I am and how long I’m willing to wait 🙂 This reheats very nicely and is even better the next day.
I check the seasoning and adjust as needed.
Use a fork to fluff the re-hydrated couscous, breaking up any large clumps. I check the seasoning as well, sometimes it needs a bit extra salt, depending on the chicken stock.
When everything is ready to go, place a mound of couscous on your plate, top with a generous serving of curried chickpeas, grab your fork and chow down! Nom nom!
If I had some fresh cilantro I would have added some to the dish at the end, but it wasn’t meant to be that day. So sad. I love the stuff. Seriously, you either love the stuff or hate it, there is no in between. But hate it all you like, that means there’s more for me!
And there you have another one of my Kitchen Sink Specials. A little of this, a little of that and a pinch or two of spice. Not bad considering what little I had to work with 🙂
It was highly enjoyable, I ate multiple meals of it and I always feel pretty darn awesome when I can whip something that tasty from a few items sitting in my kitchen.
From bare cabinets to full belly, Kitchen Sink Specials are pretty darn good!
Now, I have to start working on that Sriracha ice-cream idea…