Who doesn’t need a little comfort food during this final stretch of tax season?

I’m crying on the inside as I press send and a huge chunk of my hard earned money disappears into the ether. It’s all I can do from crawling back under the covers.

I’ll make this quick so I can get back to drowning my sorrows – here is a dish that requires a little forethought as far as marinating (skip that if you are desperately craving curry NOW, but it hugely benefits from this step), once it’s all in the pot your work is done.

When I need a little grounding I look to silky comfort foods. We are phasing out the hefty chilis and stews with the coming summer season, but there is still a nip in the air and time to sneak in a few more tummy hugging favs.

I looove spicy (Duh, I specialize in hot sauces after all), and there is a lot that can be done with curries. One of my most coveted recipes is a complex (and easy) fish curry that has undergone years of tweaking.

I also look to a spicy red sauce pasta like calabrese with arugula or a lightly creamy one such as a skinny carbonara.

Honourable comfort mentions: hot and sour soupfish and clam chowder or flourless Oaxacan spiced chocolate brownie… did you think I’d leave out dessert?

So bury yourself in a bowl of beef curry, turn on Netflix and cuddle yourself tightly as we all try and forget the tax man’s yearly visit.

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A recipe like this gets its deep flavour from a winning combination of spices. We have been hearing more and more about organic meats and veggies, but have you tried organic spices? Their intensity and purity is outa sight and is shockingly different from what we are used to.

My Spice Box is a Toronto company that does it really well and even puts together kits for different flavour profiles – like curries. Psst… their cinnamon is life changing!

 

 SIMPLY COMFORTING BEEF CURRY

serves 4

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This recipe really benefits from cooking away in a pot rather than a slow cooker. I loves me some slow cooking classics, but I find I’m picky about the consistency of my curries and can control it much better this way. I you want to transfer it to a slow cooker, do 4 hours on high or 7-8 on low. After that you can simmer it stove top styles to get to the thickness you desire.

This curry thrives when lamb is substituted for the beef – it becomes an instant dinner party dish! You could also use chickpeas or chicken, but the cooking times would be greatly shortened.

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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp each cumin seeds, fennel seeds, curry powder

1 tsp each mustard seeds, coriander seeds and chili powder

1/2 tsp each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, ground cardamom and turmeric

1 small bunch cilantro, tender stems and leaves separated

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4″ piece ginger root, peeled and chopped

1 – 3 fresh chillies, chopped (seeded if you prefer less heat)

4 tbsp coconut oil, separated

700 grams stewing beef, trimmed and cut into uniform chunks (about 2″)

1 large onion

1 large sweet pepper (any colour will do)

1 star anise

1/2 cup beef stock

400 ml/13.52 oz can coconut milk

steamed basmati rice and or naan, to serve

 

  • Crush all your spice seeds and salt in a pestle and mortar. Tip in other spices, the cilantro stems, garlic, ginger, chillies and 2 tbsps of coconut oil. Grind and pound into a slightly chunky paste. This can also be done in a food processor. Spoon into a large bowl.

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  • Toss beef well in the curry paste. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

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  • Remove the beef from the fridge and bring to room temperature before cooking, about 45 minutes. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy bottomed pot on high and toss in the beef. Brown well getting a nice crunchy sear on all sides. This is very important to lock in all the juices and keep your meat tender.
  • Add the onions, sweet pepper and star anise and saute another 5 minutes or until slightly soft. Keep an eye so it doesn’t begin to stick or burn, if it does, reduce the heat or add a little water.

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  • Add your stock and scrape up all the little bits on the bottom of the pan. Then pour in the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and continue simmering for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom.
  • Remove the lid and continue to simmer another half hour to 45 minutes until the meat falls apart and the liquid has reduce to the consistency of your liking. Add a little more stock or water if it reduces too much, but it’s nice as the sauce thickens and concentrates its flavour.
  • Remove the star anise, spoon over rice and sprinkle the remaining cilantro leaves over top. Serve with naan and a crunchy salad or a cooling slaw.

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… for something in contrast to the dreariness of tax day: today is International Jazz Day with a pretty dang great line up performing from the White House lawn. Catch it on TV tonight at 8pm or just pop on a classic record or discover a current artist (like the brilliant Jeremy Pelt).

Shameless plug for my favourite jazz artist: Johnny Griffith (a fun video from Dean Heezen and music by the Griffith/Hiltz Trio).

 

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