Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dark chocolate toffee

Category: Holiday
Source: Sonia Chung
They are heavenly and taste really good like Godiva store bought. They can easily be wrapped and used to gift for christmas presents. The almonds are optional and this time I used almonds from the batch that I toasted for the spicy almond recipe. They were pretty good! It's a bit tricky to get the toffee to harden at the right temp (candy thermometer wouldve been useful but I didnt have one). However it turns out great even if the toffee doesnt harden because then it is more like a caramel crunch.

1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 stick butter (unsalted)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
Almonds (toasted for 10 mins)

1) Heat these 3 ingredients to 290 degrees F. Books say it shouldnt bubble like lava but mine did and it still turned out awesome. I also read that all this should be done on low heat and I didnt really follow that either -- maybe next time. Use a thermometer (i used a meat one but a candy thermometer would probably be better).
2) Quickly mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour over toast almonds (on a cookie sheet). Some websites say that mixing spoons or using a sugared spoon to mix the tofee could cause it to crystallize so be ware of that.
2) Sprinkly bittersweetchocoate chunks.
3) Spread like frosting over toffee - and sprinkle withtoasted almonds.
4) Let cool for a few hours; when cooled - break into smaller pieces.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Scallops with mixed green salad and risotto

SOURCE: Inspired by Tyler Florence recipe on food network (mine is easier)
Scallops (6)
Unsalted butter (2 tsp)
Olive oil (2 tsp)
1 cup Arborio rice (risotto; remember this will become two or three times its size)
2 small pieces portabella mushroom or 1 larger piece
4-5 cremini mushroom (othe rmushrooms like shitake also ok but note that they are much more expensive)
Half onioin chopped (preferably white onion)
2 pods fresh garlic
Chicken stock -- 1 container or 4-5 cups
1/2 cup white wine
Italian parsley (probably could be done with cilantro if no parsley)
Thyme (recipie calls for fresh but I used dried)
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Mixed green salad with red wine vinegar (Accompaniment)

Making the seared scallops (5 minutes):
Rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry. Add the butter and oil to a 12 to 14-inch saute pan on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops (fresh ground pepper and kosher or regular salt). Once the oil begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Serve immediately.

Making the Risotto (30 minutes):
In the same skillet that you make the scallops, add 2 tblsp oil and when hot add chopped onions and garlic. Toss. Add chopped parsley and thyme. Add mushrooms and let simmer till water comes out (5 mins). Season with salt and pepper.
My recommendation would be to switch now to a deeper non-stick with a deeper bottom. Add the cup and half of risotto. Toss. Its should become opaque. Season.
Add 1/2 cup dry wine (pinot grigio will be good but I used chardonnay because its all I had) and cook 1 minute till alcohol evaporates. Add 1 cup of stock and simmer. Add 2nd cup and third. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and keep adding stock to prevent drying. Risotto is ready when it is firm but creamy. Sprinkle parmesan cheese. Mix. Drizzle with butter or olive oil and garnish with parsley.

Plating: Greens with dressing, 2 scallops and a serving of rissotto.

Proscuitto Wrapped Dates

SOURCE: Michelle VanDriel. Also on
This is a very simple but AMAZING appetizer that always get requests during thanksgiving and christmas seasons. It blends together the sweet flavor of dates, pepper and cheese from the boursin and the crisp wonderful taste of proscuitto. For this dish, I shopped at whole foods -- it was easy to find fresh medjool dates and top shelf proscuitto (8 slices were under a dollar).
Prosciutto (8 thin slices)
Boursin (pepper flavor)
Medjool dates (10).
Preheat oven to 400. Deseed dates. Stuff with a sliver of boursin. Wrap with a small piece of prosciutto. Some dates can be left vegetarian without proscuitto if needed. Bake for 6 minutes. Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Broccoli Salad

SOURCE: Coworkers recipe
I took this for Thanksgiving Dinner at Mel & Morgan's this year. It is easy, unique and quite yummy. This recipe also won the salad contest at our work recipe judging competition so enjoy! After I made this, I saw a version of this salad on Food Network: Paula Deen. Her version has halved grape tomatoes which I don't use in mine.

Ingredients (for 4-6 people):
1 large head or 3 medium fresh broccoli stalks cut into bite size pieces (yields about 2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup red onions chopped
2 tblsp white sugar
3 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 slices of bacon (Oscar mayer already cooked bacon works and is easier)
Place bacon on skillet. cook on medium until evenly brown (4 mins for "already cooked bacon"). Place on paper towels. Crumble.
In a salad bowl toss broccoli, raisins, red onions. In a seperate bowl whisk white sugar, vinegar and mayonaise. Pour over brocolli mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Sprinkle almonds and bacon before serving. Toss again and serve.
Optional (Some variations of this recipe on the internet will have frozen peas and/or halved grape tomatoes. Haven't tried that version but sounds pretty awesome)

Sunday, November 23, 2008


SOURCE: Smita's own. Perfected after a few tries. This is also one of my specialties

Ingredients (This recipie is for a very a large pitcher; Half it if using size of pitcher as shown in photo):
2 bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignion); Doesnt have to be a very expensive red
1 bottle Red Grape-Cranberry juice
1 can Seven Up (lemon lime soda)
2 lemons
2 oranges
Peaches optional

In the pitcher, marinate Red grape juice, juice of one lemon and one orange overnight.
Next day add Red Wine, Lemn-lime soda and Slices of Oranges & Lemons (cut in circles).

Dal (Lentils)

SOURCE: Inspired by Nameeta Premkumar's recipe with some twists
1/2 cup masoor dal (orange lentils)
1/2 cup toor dal (yellow lentils)
Cumin seeds
Mustard seeds
Garlic 2 pods chopped
Half onion chopped
Cilantro handful
1 green chilli
1 lemon
1 tomato

In a glass container add dal and 2 and 1/2 cups water and put in microwave for 10 minutes. Make sure the dal is boiled and pasty.
In a saucepan, add oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds. Wait until mustard seeds pop. Add green chilli, hing (asefotida) garlic, onions and cilantro. Optional -- add little bit turmeric, red chilli pwd. Squeeze half fresh lemon. Add 1 tomato chopped. Add salt and a bit of sugar. Cook. Add boiled dal. Boil together for 10 minutes till oil seperates. Garnish with cilantro.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Green Curry (Smita's specialty)

SOURCE Original inspired from several recepies
CATEGORY: Main Dish - Curry

Green curry paste (Maesri brand in a small can) available in Asian/Oriental stores
Chacko brand coconut milk
Fish Sauce 1.5 tablespoons
3 teaspoon sugar
Snap peas or snow peas (Handful) ends chopped to destring
1 red bell pepper cut into squares
Chinese eggplant 1 med, long chopped
Carrots 1 medium juliened
Mushroom optional, Brocollini optional
Cilantro garnish
Shrimp 1 lb or chicken 1 lb chopped

Cook shrimp seperate on nonstick with little oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In 2 tablespoons oil, sautee the can of maesri green curry paste till bubbly. Ad coconut milk part by part (3/4 can is ideal) Supplement with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Add fish sauce and sugar. Stir and cook on low. Add eggplant and carrot and cook for 5 minutes. Add shrimp. Stir for 1 minute. Add all vegetables and only keep on gas for a couple minutes. Vegetables should not get soft, they should be crispy. Add cilantro for garnish.

Lime Rice

SOURCE: Sanomausi
Cooked rice 3 cups
1 lemon
Seasoning (Curry leaves, 1 tsp channa dal, 1 tsp urad dal, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, turmeric, salt)
Green chilli (4 small or 3 seranno)
Chopped ginger
Rosted peanuts (with skin is preffered; can use raw peanuts that can be roasted on a non-stick pan) 1/2 cup
Do not use overcooked rice; Rice that is more than a day old works better. Roast peanuts ahead of time.
Add 2 tblsp canola oil to flat bottomed non-stick pan (with some depth). When hot, add all seasonings except salt. Add green chilli. Sautee. Add rice. Toss. Add juice of one fresh lime. Sautee for a bit until mixed(2-3 minutes). Add peanuts that have been roasted.
Shortcut to keep curry leaves fresh: Pick curry leaves from stem. Oil hands, rub curry leaves and cook for 1 minute till dark green. Cool. Put into ziplock and freeze (use freezer ziplocks that dont give freezer burns).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vegetable Biryani

Source: Original
This is a perfect vegetable traditional rice dish and can also be made with chicken.
Oil (4 tblsp)
Ghee (1tblsp)
Dry spices (2 bay leaf, 2 cinnamon, 3 clove, 3 cardamam, Cumin seed (1/2 tsp), fennel seeds (1/2 tsp)
Green chilli (1 slit)
Fresh coriander and mint leaves
White onion chopped
Tomatoes 2 chopped
Ginger 1 tsp, Garlic 2 pods chopped
Masalas (turmeric 1/4 tsp, chilli pwd 1/2 tsp, coriander 2 tsp)
Vegetables chopped (any options of carrot 1, green beans handful, peas)
Basmati rice 2 cups washed
1/2 cup yogurt
31/2 cup water
In a pressure cooker bottom or heavybottom saucepan heat oil+ghee. Sautee all dry spices. Add green chilli, cilantro, mint. Toss.
Add garlic, ginger, onions. Sautee. Add all dry masalas followed by tomatoes. They should cook. Then add vegetables and then salt. Sautee.
Add basmati rice, yogurt, water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles (3 minutes). If not using a cooker, cook for 10-15 mins on low heat. Let sit for a few minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


SOURCE: Espinosa's secret recipe

This is as authentic mexican as you can get. Ernesto made this at every Espinosa family gathering and every holiday (July 4th, Memorial day, Christmas) in Atlanta that I can remember so it has to get recorded into the blog. It is simply awesome.

Tostadas (Round Hard shell flat tortillas); Try and get these from a Mexican store only
2 cans pinto beans
1 head iceberg lettuce
Fresco cheese fresh from Mexican section of grocery store (Ole brand queso fresco)
Salsa stuff (6 plum tomatoes, 6 seranno peppers, cilantro)
Whole roasted chicken (Mojo flavor from Publix or Lemon Pepper or Plain roast)
1 small lite sour cream
1 avacado optional
Red onion and apple cider vinegar
Dried red chilli 6

Onion prep: Slice red onions thin and soak in vinegar. Store in refrigerator.
Salsa prep: In a saucepan, place foil. Add plum tomatoes, peppers. Roast till black on high (10-15 mins).
Lettuce prep: Chop or shred lettuce fine
Cheese prep: Grate fresco
Avacado prep: Chop fine
Chicken prep: Shred with hands
Beans prep: In a saucepan, add 2-3 tblsp oil. Add 6 dried red chillies. Smoke, turn heat off. Add beans. Stir. Simmer for 15 minutes.

To make Tostadas: Place on plate, smear with beans. Add chicken, onions, cheese, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, avacado. Pepper/Salt optional. Enjoy!

Pad Woon Sen

SOURCE: Internet with my own changes
Intro: Cellophane noodles (also known as Chinese vermicelli, bean threads, bean thread noodles, or glass noodles) are a type of transparent Asian noodle. This is one of MY FAVORITE DISHES to eat in a Thai restaurant. I like it even more than Pad Thai so I had to figure out how to make it and it turned out to be so easy.
1 pack bean thread or mung bean noodles (woon sen)
2 tsp garlic
1 red bell pepper chopped (green bell pepper optional and thinly sliced carrot optional)
1 can baby corn
4 green onions
1 can straw mushroom (or fresh mushroom)
Meat (chicken or shrimp optional); If using eggs, cook eggs seperate and use as meat substitute
4 tblsp Soy sauce
3-4 tblsp fish sauce
1 tsp sriracha
cilantro garnish
Soak the woon sen in warm water until soft (10 minutes). Drain and cut crosswise into 4 equal parts.
To cook meat: Put 1 tblsp oil in large wok. Add garlic and white part of spring onions. When light brown, add chicken or shrimp. Set this aside.
To cook dish Heat rest of oil in the same wok that meat was done and add all vegetables. Save some green onions for end. Add noodles. Toss. Add water as necessary. Return the meat or eggs. Add Fish sauce, Soy, remaining green onion, Sriracha, fresh pepper, salt if needed and sugar per taste only. Garnish with cilantro.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc

Villa Maria
New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc

Manchengo cheese and french bread app

Manchengo cheese is perfect. It goes well with french bread and honey.
Manchengo cheese sliced
French bread
Top bread with manchengo cheese. Sprinkle honey.

Grapefruit avacado and watercress salad

Category: Salad

Source: Food and Wine, March 2008

This is usually paired with fish but Jen and I decided to have it with our skirt steak and potatoes.

1 grapefruit

2 tblsp fresh lemon

1 bunch watercress

2 avacados diced

Plate watercress. Place avacado and grapefruit on top. Add fresh pepper and salt to the avacado. Squeeze fresh lemon juice. Serve.

Skirt steak with lemon and chili-roasted potatoes

Category: Main dish
Source: Food and Wine Magazine
Place Jen"s Kitchen

This is a dish that Jen and I made on a lazy winter saturday night. It was served with watercress, grapefruit and avacado salad. The grapefruit added an amazing touch -- it is in season righ now (February).
5 small potatoes cut into 1" pieces
3 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli powder, salt, pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lb skirt steak
1 lemon

Heat oven to 425. Mix potatoes, oil, chilli powder, salt, pepper, thyme into a medium bowl. Transfer to a roasting pan (or cookie sheet) and bake until golden brown and crisp (about 40 mins).
Season steak with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Broil steak to desired doneness (3-4 mins per side for medium rare). Transfer to cutting board and let it rest 5 mins before cutting (this allows the juices to stay in).

Plate steak with potatoes, lemon and salad.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Spinach Pachdi

Category: Side Dish
Source: Ajay Nair

We made this at Kailash the day before my flight back to JFK. This is a great way to eat spinach. The dish is light and flavorful. Perfect side for a nice homemade India meal.
Spinach 3 bunches (leaves only)
Yougurt 500 ml/2 cups
Rice 2 tblsp
Red chilli 4
Mustard seeds

Boil spinach in salt water. Remove and add to whisked yogurt (salt added). No need to drain spinach. In a pan make tadka (mix of spices) using oil, red chillis, rice, mustard seeds. Stir for 5-10 minutes to get flavors out. Add to spinach mixture.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New England Clam Chowder

SOURCE: Food Network -- Chef Dave Leiberman (recipe altered)
1 med onion, finely diced
2 celery stalk cut lengthwise and then chopped
3 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 (10-ounce) cans chopped clams in juice
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 bay leaves
1 lb Idaho potatoes, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
  • Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and celery and saute until softened, mixing often. Stir in the flour to distribute evenly.
  • Add the stock, juice from 2 cans of chopped clams (reserve clams), cream, bay leaves, and potatoes and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring consistently (the mixture will thicken), then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 20 minutes, stirring often, until the potatoes are nice and tender.
  • Then add clams and season to taste with salt and pepper, cook until clams are just firm, another 2 minutes.
Pan Toasted Croutons:
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbls fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the Pan Toasted Croutons: Melt the butter in a large skillet and toss the bread cubes in the butter until browned and toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Steak w/Blue Cheese


1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
divided2 garlic cloves
minced 6 1-inch-thick beef tenderloin steaks (about 6 ounces each)
2 ounces cream cheese room temperature
1/4 cup finely crumbled blue cheese (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded red or green jalape├▒o chiles
1 shallot, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Combine olive oil, 2 teaspoons parsley, and garlic in 8x8x2-inch glass dish. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add steaks to dish and turn to coat. Marinate steaks 30 minutes or cover and chill up to 1 day.
Mix cream cheese, blue cheese, chiles, shallot, vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon parsley in medium bowl. Season blue cheese topping to taste with salt and pepper.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place steaks on grill rack (some marinade should still cling to meat). Cook 5 minutes. Turn steaks over. Divide blue cheese topping among steaks. Grill until topping softens and steaks are medium-rare, about 5 minutes longer.