Monday, January 26, 2015

Slice and Dice: Pineapple

When the local Kroger stocked tropical fruit, my mom served us the desserts of her youth. It was a rarity in the 80s so her line up was limited to cubes of mango, chunks of pineapple, and strips of tender coconut, which jiggled like Jello. The unadorned produce made my mom giddy, and she urged us to stake out our fair share. I did my best to ward off her advances, yielding a Hostess cupcake or neatly packaged Twinkie. 

A bowl of sliced pineapple

As an adult, I realized the error of my ways. These days, I rely on freshly cut fruit to subdue my seemingly insatiable sweet tooth. In the winter, I nosh on fresh pineapple, which aids with digestion and offers a great bang for the buck. 

If you're craving the warmth of the sun, use these tips to bring the tropical taste of pineapple to your table.

How to Peel a Pineapple

Thoroughly wash the pineapple. Place it on a cutting board. With a chef’s knife, slice off the top 1/2 to 1 inch under the crown.

Slicing off the crown

Rotate the fruit 180 degrees and slice off 3/4 of an inch off of the stem end.

Slicing off the stem end
Place the bottom end on the cutting board. Slice the skin away in strips. 

Removing the skin

How to Core and Chop a Pineapple

Place the pineapple on it side. Cut diagonal pockets across the fruit to remove the eyes. 

Removing the eyes
Slice the pineapple in half from top to bottom. Place each half on a cutting board and cut into quarters. Invert each quarter and carefully slice away the core. Cut each quarter lengthwise into strips. 

Removing the core

Cut the strips widthwise into bite-sized pieces.

A bowl of chopped pineapple


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spiced Mung Beans

 Mung beans cooked with onions, chlilies, salt, pepper

If you’re looking to save money in the New Year, I suggest stocking your pantry with a variety of legumes, including mung beans (a.k.a. green gram). Native to India, these fiber-rich pulses are integral to my mom’s culinary repertoire, and appeared on the table so often during my childhood that the bubble above my head read: Oh not, not again! We dined on mung beans sprinkled with black pepper and interlaced with shredded coconut. On special occasions, we spooned them up in pudding, doused with half and half and molasses. 

Sauteing onions with turmeric, cumin, garlic powder

Like other legumes, mung beans often a fiber-rich, protein punch for pennies on the dollar. They are relatively quick-cooking, and can be sprouted for a wallop of texture. (Think of the sprouts that top Chinese dishes. They often come from this dynamic bean.) For all of these reasons, mung beans occupy prized real-estate in my jam-packed pantry. 

Combining cooked mung beans and sauted onions
Mung dhal with spices


Serves 4

This vegan mung bean dish is a family staple. It calls for a  technique commonly used in Kerala: sauteing cooked legumes with onions and a mix of spices. Serve it with white rice and lightly salted yogurt.  


1 cup mung beans
2 cups water
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 dried red chilies, broker in two
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
10 curry leaves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 


Thoroughly wash the mung beans.

Place the beans, water, 1/2 cup of chopped onions, dried red chilies, and salt in a medium sized sauce pan. 

Bring to a boil. 

Lower heat to low and cover. Cook until the beans soften, but still retain their shape (about 30 minutes). 

Place a large frying pan on medium low heat. Add the oil and 1/4 cup onions.

Cook for 5 minutes. Add the curry leaves, turmeric, cumin, and garlic powder. 

Cook until the onions become translucent. 

Add the cooked beans and stir to combine. 

Cook for 5 minutes. 


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