Sunday, December 20, 2009

Smita and Cindy's Holiday Meal

Made this a couple weeks ago but havent had time to blog it. Cindy and I got inspired by the Holiday's ofcourse and also a number of things including a christmas book, a tv show and of course chocolate. So here is the final menu:
Holiday Dinner Menu:
Cornish Hens (never made them and always wanted to)
Gratineed Leeks
Carrot, potato puree or Mashed potatoes w/gravy (I will put down recipes for both)
Chocolate cupcakes
Clementine Cosmos (Never ended up making these because but will add because they are the perfect complement to a dinner party if you really wanna go all out!)

Its very important to make sure you have "fresh" cornish hens if possible. If using frozen, thaw out for a day in fridge. Leeks are always in season during the holidays so they will be easy to find.
Cornish Hens Au Vin (Serves 4):
Inspiration & Source: Food Network Show "5 Ingredient Fix starring Claire Robinson"
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 Cornish hens, about 1 pound each, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups dry white wine - I used a Sauvignon Blanc. You can also use Red and then it will make a red sauce
1 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1) Ideally one would use a large Dutch but since I dont have one and they are pretty expensice (around $100 for a good one), I used my stainless steel sautee pan. Heat pan over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until browned and crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
2) Put the flour in a large bowl and season heavily with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the hens in the seasoned flour until coated, shaking off excess. Heat the pan with the bacon fat over medium heat. Add the hens and brown on all sides. Add some extra olive oil only if you think the oil from the bacon is not enough. Remove hens and set on plate.
3) Deglazing: This step is pretty common to many Italian and French dishes. It is the process of making the yummy sauce using the wine and grease form the pan! So carefully add the wine, letting it bubble and release the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the water and garlic cloves and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
4) Braising: This is a technique where you cook meat in a glaze or liquid to lock in flavors and cook the meat through. Mmmm. So add back the hens. Cover and braise until hens are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
5) Gravy: Continue simmering the liquid, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste the gravy and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Arrange the hens on a serving platter. Crumble the bacon over the top and serve immediately with the gravy.
Gratineed Leeks:
Inspiration: Williams Sonoma Christmas Book found at TJ Maxx for $2 thanks to Cindy!)
4 Leeks (cut to about 8 inches keeppin only the white and discarding the green); Cut again in half. Wash these halves very well -- leeks are usually very muddy because they grow underground.
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable stock is fine)
1/4 cup dry white wine
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tblsp butter unsalted
Cut and prepare leeks. Turn oven to 350. Butter a 2 quart, glass baking dish. Hold each leek under cold running water and rinse to remove all dirt. Lay leeks "cut side up" in the baking dish. Season with Kosher salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake @ 350 for 30 mins until leeks are tender.
In the meanwhile, grate the 2 cheese and keep ready.
Remove leeks. Sprinkle the Gruyere and Parmesan evenly. Dot with butter. Place in broiler (3-4 inches from top on top rack of oven) and broil/grill until top is golden -- about 2 minutes.
Carrot & Celery root Puree:
Inspiration: Celery root -- never used it before and wanted to try it. Recipe is again Claire Robinson from the same Food Network Show
This was my least favorite dish but i'm adding it to the blog because everyone elase enjoyed it and it came out really good. Personally I woudl rather just do mashed potatoes with this meal :)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
3 extra-large or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 celery roots, 1 pound each, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups good quality vegetable stock
1) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until just beginning to turn golden about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery root and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the stock, and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
2) Drain the vegetables in a colander set over a bowl to reserve the cooking liquid. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Puree until very smooth, adding cooking liquid, as needed, to reach the desired consistency. Taste and season again, if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.
Really Good Mashed Potatoed & Gravy (Alternative to Celery Root and Carrot Puree):
Inspiration: Dinner at Ajay and Nameeta's new place. I made this when I was in India with some chicken similar to the preparation above. I aslo had a side of Asparagus that was so fresh and tasty in India.
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large potatoes (yukon gold will be good), peeled
1/4 cup olive oil, optional
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
1) Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to boil then add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or a ricer into a large mixing bowl.
2) While potatoes are boiling, warm the cream with the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts; set aside.
3) Stir in the warm cream and butter mixture until the cream is absorbed and the mixture is smooth. Season the potatoes with kosher salt and fresh groung pepper and finish them off by stirring in 1/4 cup olive oil. Top with chopped chives.
Gravy: Deglaze pan where you have cooked bacon or chicken using broth and wine. Scrape all bits stuck to the bottom using wooden spoon. Add bay leaf and peppercorns. Simmer for a good 20 mins. Reduce liquid in half. If you need to thicken further you could add a white roux (fat+flour -- look up white roux by Alton Brown).
Chocolate Cup Cakes:
4 tblsp soft margerine
1/4 cup super fine sugar (i used confectioners sugar)
1 egg
5/8 cup self-rising flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 oz semisweet chocolate broken into 8 squares. I think darker chocolate would be better.
muffin pan and muffin paper cups
1) Put 8 paper casings in muffin pan (or 8 double layer paper cases on cookie sheet)
2) In large mixing bowl, mix margerine, sugar, egg, flour, cocoa using electric hand whisk. Beat until just smooth.
3) Spoon half of the batter into the paper cups. Using a teaspoon, make indentation in the center of each cake and add chocolate pieces to center. Spoon remaining batter to cover.
4) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 for 20 minutes. Lets stand for 2-3 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar.
Notes: I think the cupcakes were delicious but a bit dry. Not sure if I shoudl use butter instead of margerine. Also the chocolate inside is usually hard if teh cupcake is sittin outside so make sue the cupcakes are warm so the chocolate is melted and molten.
Clementine Cosmos:
3 clementines, plus 1 very thinly sliced, for garnish
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup cranberry juice
1/3 cup lime juice
1 1/2 cups vanilla flavored vodka (recommend: Grey Goose)
Cut the clementines into quarters and squeeze their juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar, water and clementine flesh and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Pour into a strainer set over a measuring cup, pressing on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, cool the liquid to room temperature and pour into a pitcher. Add the cranberry juice, lime juice and vodka and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Put 6 or 8 martini glasses in the freezer.
To serve, pour the mixture into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake until very cold. Pour into the chilled martini glasses and garnish each with a clementine slice. Drink & enjoy!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Orleans Style Gumbo

Adapted from the book "Cooking up a Storm" Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans
One of the keys to gumbo is roux, the mix of oil and flour cooked and stirred until it turns the required shade of brown. The key to a good gumbo is 'time' so make sur eyou are relaxed and are ready to do some stirring and slow cooking.
CHICKEN, SAUSAGE & SHRIMP GUMBO Yield: 8 - 10 servings
1/2 chicken stewing chicken, cut into serving pieces (I used a mix of chicken pieces - thighs, legs, breast with skin). Fry the chicken lightly in oil; set aside.
Ground red (cayenne) pepper (We used West African bird pepper which is considered comparable to cayenne)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth (I used a mix of swansons vegetable broth and boullion cubes + water because this is a lot of liquid)
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
16-20 Shrimp (frozen, tail on)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Tomatoes (canned with habaneros)
Hot cooked rice, for serving
1. Season chicken generously with salt and cayenne (or african bird pepper). Fry in canola oil (optional but recommended) Set aside.
2. In a large Dutch oven, make a roux by combining the oil and flour over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for about 30 minutes or until the roux is dark brown. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery; cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.
3. Add broth and stir to blend well. Add chicken, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, for 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken is fork-tender. Add andouille and cook for 20 minutes. Check for salt. Add shrimp.
4. Adjust the seasonings and stir in green onions and parsley. Remove bay leaves.
Serve immediately over rice.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bread Pudding with a side of Rum Sauce

Inspiration: Left over baguette that is a few days old and too hard to eat. I didnt want to throw it away so i googled "old baguette recipes". After reading some blogs I decided that there were 2 options for old bread 1) french toast or 2) bread pudding. I decided to go with the latter.

Left over baguette cut into pieces
Milk (2 cups)
Vanilla (1 teaspoon)
Butter (2 tblsp)
Eggs 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking dish. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. Raisins optional at this stage.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla (1/2 tsp ground cinnamon is optional here). Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Sprinke with brown sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

Rum sauce:
In a glass saucepan combine 1/4 stick of butter, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup brown sugar and heat on low heat while stirring. When sugar is mlted, add 1/4 cup brandy or rum.
Serve bread pudding with a spoon of the rum sauce. It is a light, fluffy and tasty dessert/brunch option.

Home made pizza with leeks, lamb and pecorino

INSPIRATION: Food and Wine Magazine, October 2009 issue and Cindy and Ernesto's visit.
I have recently been working with dough a lot and so I got inspired to make pizza. Plus Cindy and I are doing this toegther and Ernesto just stocked the fridge with some Sweetwater 420 that will be a great accompaniment to the pizza!!This recipe is for 4 mini pizza's.
3/4 to 1 pounds pizza dough (from whole foods frozen section), cut into 4 pieces
1 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick (discard green end because it will be tough. slit lengthwise first and then slice thin)
3/4 pound ground lamb (you could use beef or ground chicken but the lamb flavor was right on for this recipe)
18 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound truffled pecorino cheese, thinly sliced (around 15 thin strips)
Four for dusting and olive oil for basting

Thaw out the dough in refrigerator that morning or a few hours before. The dough usually comes in a 1.5 lb block so I just used half and saved the rest for another day.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 7-inch round. This could take time because pizza dough is a bit sticky and tends to stretch slowly.

Foil and oil 2 large inverted baking sheets and place the dough rounds on the sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500°. If you have a pizza stone, heat it on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes. I didnt so I decided to use the large inverted baking sheet which worked well.
Top the rested dough with the leeks, lamb, tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Bake for about 4 minutes. Turn oven off and leave for 2 minutes.

Notes: Note that since I didnt use a pizza stone (although I think this would work really well if making pizza on the grill! but i dont have a grill either so maybe someday..) and I used the same inverted cookie sheet with the foil and the olive oil, my olive oil started burning at minute 4 so just be aware of that - it still doesn't harm the food and it was still delicious. That's why I turned oven off and let it sit for 2-3 more minutes before removing. The alternative professional way of doing this would be to generously flour a pizza peel (which is kinda like a wood flat shovel to slide pizza). Place a dough round on the peel and brush with olive oil. Then top with topping. Then slide the dough round onto the hot stone or baking sheet and bake for about 4 minutes.

Rita's Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings

Inspiration: Rita's recipe. I have been craving these wings forever!!! So when I saw the wings on sale, I bought 12 wings and decided to try and replicate Rita's wing recipe. The result was really really delicious. This is more of a chinese style, hot and spicy recipe based in soy and jalapeno chillies that is great even the next day.
12 -15 wings (the fresh ones from whole foods are meaty and inexpensive)
2 jalapenos (or other hot green chilli pepper) finely chopped with seeds; add more to make hotter; spice gets tempered with soy and sugar so dont worry about it getting too hot
2 scallions
2 pods minced garlic
sugar (1/4 cup)
Dark soy 1/3 to 1/4 cup based on texture
Lightly bread the wings in a mixture of flour and salt. Fry on medium to high heat in oil on a stainless steel saucepan. I used a combination of peanut oil and canola oil.

Wing Sauce:
Mix scallions, jalapenos, garlic, sugar, dark soy.
Coat the wings and serve. Adjust ingredients per your taste.
Coat wings and serve.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Greek Spanakopita (Spinach pie)

Makes 8 dinner size Spinakopita's. This is a wonderful rich spinach and feta pastry usually eaten as a snack in Greece. This particular recipie is for a larger Spinach pie and makes 8. Once made they can be frozen or refrigerated.
INSPIRATION and RECIPE: Barefoot Contessa (Back to Basics segment on Food Network)
Frozen chopped spinach ( 2 packs of frozen spinach -- 10 oz each; I used the 16 oz package of organic spinach from whole foods). This has to be thawed and squeeeezed dry. If using fresh you will need to boil and squeeze the leaves until you get about 3-4 cups.
Phyllo pastry 16 sheets: I used the frozen phyllo. This has to be thawed out in the refrigerator for an hour or so. Dont thaw outside -- the phyllo will end up sticking.
Feta cheese (1/2 lb): Try to use French or Greek feta (sheep or goat cheese ok).
1 small yellow onion or half of a bigger onion
3 scallions diced (cut in half and then put a horizontal cut in the white part to thin out, this makes it easier to dice)
3 eggs
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter melted for basting
3 tblsp Pine nuts toasted
Filling preparation:
Sautee onions in a stainless sautee pan in 1/4 cup olive oil till translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes). They dont need to turn black. Add the scallions and saute for 2 minutes.
In the meanwhile. place squeezed spinach in glass bowl. Add onion and scallion mix. Add the 3 eggs beaten lightly. Add 3 tblspoon of breadcrumbs. Add 1 tsp of Nutmeg. Add the salt and pepper. Toss. Cut Feta into half inch squares. Fold in Feta and toss. Add the pine nuts.
Phyllo pastry prep:
On a cutting board or on a clean counter top, place one layer. Using pastry brush, baste with butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs. Add 2nd layer of phyllo. Add the butter, then the breadcrumbs. Repeat until 4th layer of phyllo. Add the butter but no breadcrumbs to that 4th payer. Turn pastry to a vertical position. Run a smooth cut down the center with knife.
Scoop 1/3 cup of the filling onto bottom end leaving bottom left corner free for strting the wrapping. Wrap pastry over filling in a traingle form. Wrap again staying true to the triangle shape and keep going till the end. Dont worry about filling -- it will all get covered by the time all the folds are done. Use butter to seal if needed.
Repeat for 7 more of these. Place on baking tray. Brush with butter. Srinkle coarse salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Cool and serve.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peach and Blueberry Pie

INSPIRATION: Tyler Florence and Kelley's Birthday
Last night I was in a funk and I really needed something to get out of it. Who would have thought that I would resort to baking. But it worked -- I decided to yank myself out of the couch and walk to the Kroger at around 8:30 pm. I bought ingredients to make the dough from scratch, refrigerate it overnight. I decided to leave the baking + filling for the morning. Give yourself at least 3 hours on Sunday morning because this takes time. But it is the best and a lot of FUN.

This is MY FIRST PIE I was kinda nervous at first. The pie is such a trademark of American cooking in my mind, and I really wanted to get it right. Besides I thought I would take it to Kelley's for her birthday so then I started gettin serious and paying attention to what I was doing. I looked up recipies and decided on the one from Tyler Florence. I also looked at some youtube videos that helped me do the lattice top (in the pictures) Since peaches and blueberries are in season I thoughts they woudl make a nice filling. The result was amazing -- I felt better. I was out of my funk. And it turned out much better than I expected -- at least that's what everyone at Kelley's house said :-). Personally it was one of the best pies I have ever had so my advice to you is to follow the steps and make it when you have a Sunday morning to yourself! Dont rush and be patient with the dough -- it can be difficult.
1 recipe Basic Pastry, chilled 30 minutes, recipe follows
Flour, for rolling
2 pounds peaches, pitted and sliced
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
Glaze: 1 egg, beaten with a drizzle of water
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Move the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.
Divide the dough in half and set one half aside; cover it with a towel or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 10-inch round. Loosely drape the dough round over the rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough over the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the edges to about 1/2-inch.
Pie Filling: Toss the fruit with the sugar, lemon, and cornstarch. Pile the fruit into the pie shell and dot with the butter. Roll out the reserved dough to a 9 to 10-inch round and cut strips. Lay it over the fruit in a lattice design. Trim, and crimp the edges. Brush top and sides with the egg glaze. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling up through the vents, 50 to 60 minutes. Cover the edges with aluminum foil sometime 20 minutes into the baking and remove foin 10 minutes before end to prevent burning of edges.
Cool on a rack before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Tyler Florence Pie Pastry
Yields 1 double pie crust; Double or one and half this recipe for lattice top so you have enough dough to work with).
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested and finely grated
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and ice water and work that in with your hands. Check the consistency of the dough by squeezing a small amount together between thumb and forefingers: You want there to be just enough moisture to bind the dough so that it holds together without being too wet or sticky. If it's still crumbly, add a little more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time. When you get it to the right consistency, shape the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Put it in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thai scallop (or shrimp) red curry with mango

This is a delicious dish and I absolutely love Mangoes so that drew me in. The Mango should be firm but on its way to becoming ripe. Not too sweet and not too sour.
Red curry paste (1/2 to 1 tsp based on how much hotness or spice you can tolerate)
Coconut milk (small can of 1/2 of big can)
1/4 cup Stock or Broth (chicken is fine)
Mango 1 peeled and chopped
Large Shrimp 15 or Scallops 8-9
Fish sauce 1 tblspoon
Sugar 1 tblsp

Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet and stir fry the dry red curry paste for 2 minutes until you smell it. Add the coconut milk + stock + fish sauce + sugar. Bring to boil. Add shrimps or scallops + mango and cook for 3-4 minutes. Garnish with sweet basil or cilantro. Optional garnish top with thai red chilli finely chopped without seed. Serve with steamed rice.

Health tidbit: Scallops are a great source of protein, vitamin b12, omega 3 fatty acid, magnesium and potassium.

Black sesame shrimp stir fry

This is a standard stir fry that I make a lot. Super easy, healthy and tasty.
2-3 pods garlic finely chopped
Black sesame seeds (1 tsp)
Chicken, vegetable or seafood broth (swansons) 2 tablespoons
Soy sauce 1 tblsp
Oyster sauce 1 tblsp
Vegetables: Carrot (1 finely chopped), 1 red bell pepper and handfull of Snow peas
Shrimp (1 bag of large frozen peeled works very well)

In a wok or non-stick skillet, add some canola oil and heat. Add sesame seeds. After a minute add garlic. Stir fry till you smell the garlic. Add shrimp. After a minute add the vegetables and stir fry on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and the 2 sauces. Toss around for about 3 minutes until shriimp are pink. Best served immediately.
Healty tidbit: Shrimp are a good source of protein and this dish is very low in fat. The Black sesame seeds are a good source of calcium, protein, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. They are a popular ingredient in Thai recipes beacuse of their healthy properties.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hawaiian Style Ribs (Kalbi)

I have always loved ribs - who doesnt. Especially during summer weekends. This is a great and unique recipe for glazed baby back ribs. Found it in Saveur magazine. No bbq sauce but really yumm and no need for grill. It uses the soy, brown sugar as a glaze and works perfect in the oven. Sure its as good on the grill. Totally loved it!
1/2 rack baby back ribs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup crushed red chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic
2 slices of finely chopped ginger

Finely chopped scallion for garnish (optional)

1) Whisk together brown sugar, soy, sesame oil, chilli flakes, garlic, ginger and 1/8 cup water in a large bow. Add ribs and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temp or refrigerate overnight.
2) Heat oven to 450. Remove ribs from marinade and arrange curve side up in a rack set over a rimmed foil lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.
3) Meanwhile heat the marinade in a 2-qu saucepan over med-high heat and simmer. Srit occasionally until thick and syrupy for about 20 minutes.
4) Using tongs, flip ribs and cook basting with the marinade every 5 minutes until ribs are browned, glazed and tender - 15-20 minutes. Transfer to platter and glaze with scallions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chicken with Cashews

Cashew chicken is easy, healthy and light. (Healthy Tip: Cashews are high in Vitamin C + they have iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium and vitamin B1. They also have an antiseptic property and are considered good for toothaches and gums).

1-2 dried long red chillies
2 tblsp oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 lb chicken breasts chopped
3 tblsp chicken stock
1/2 red bell pepper chopped bite size
1 small carrot sliced into thin strips
1 small onion
Oyster sauce (1 1/2)
1 tblsp soy sauce
3 green onions finely sliced
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashew

1) Cut red chilli into strips and discard seeds
2) Heat oil in non-stick wok and stir fry chillis
3) Add 1 tblsp of oil to wok. Stir fry garlic.
4) Add the chicken and stock. Heat for 4-5 minutes.
5) Add the red bell pepper, carrot, onions, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Fry for 1-2 mins.
6) Add the green onions, chillies and cashews.

Serve with steamed rice or salad.

Red Curry with Chicken and Snow Peas (Thai)

Can you guess? Thai is my favorite food to cook. I cook most of the curries in a metal wok that I bought at an asian grocery store ($10) versus the expensive ones. Tip: The metal wok should always be seasoned with a light coat of oil otherwise it will rust.
This dish is super easy and takes less than 30 minutes to make.
Red curry paste (Thai kitchen brand available at most grocery stores)
Red bell pepper
Snow peas
Chicken (1 pack of chicken breasts chopped)
Fish sauce
Coconut milk (chaco brand if possible)
Chicken stock (1/2 cup)
Heat the Wok and add a bit of olive oil. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon of red curry paste and fry for about 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken -- it will coat with the red curry. Cook for 3-5 mins. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk and slightly more than half cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Add mushrooms, red bell pepper, snap peas. Sautee. Add a tablespoon of fish sauce and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Stir. Add basil or chopped cilantro towards the end. Serve with steamed rice and a salad.

Fish Cutlets

This was totally an experiment. I was looking around in the pantry and saw 2 cans of tuna. Next thing you know, I got inspired to make some spiced tuna cutlets. And they are delicious!! The texture is very similar to crabcakes.

2 cans Tuna (in water) drained
Panko bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs will work; I found these in Trader Joes and I've seen them used in cooking shows so I decided to use Panko - they give a lighter crispier breading)

1 egg beaten
Onion (1/2 red)
3 little green chillis or 1 serrano
Ginger (1 piece grated)
Garlic 1 teaspoon
Mashed potatoes (I used instant garlic potatoes)

In a nonstic pan, add oil for sautee. Add ginger, garlic and chilli. Sautee till fragrant. Add onions. Add Tuna (drained). Sautee. Add potato (2-3 tablespoons). Cool.

Make 6 round balls and flatten to make shape of cake/cutlet. Dip in egg (this is a binding agent). Then coat with breadcrumbs. Fry lightly in a thin layer of canola. Flip in between.
Serve with salad (Arugula and cucumber would be good on the side)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A tribute to Eggs: the truth, perfect hard boiled eggs and a classic sandwich (Happy Easter!)

So , I loooovve eggs -- runny, fried, baked, boiled. I was experimenting with "the Egg" and reading about boiled eggs given Easter and all. I learned that there are a few things that are important for arriving at perfectly hard boiled eggs.
1) Use older eggs (bought a few days ago) versus new/fresh eggs (bought last night) because the shell tends to stick to the new eggs much tighter making it tougher to shell.
2) Add eggs to cold water (cover eggs) and then boil. Typically one thinks of boiling water first (but not here!).
3) Boil eggs on high but remove as soon as you see them boiling (you could leave them boiling for 60 seconds but not longer). Then let them sit for 12 minutes.

That's it. And they can never be overcooked or undercooked in this method. You can even leave them for 20 mins. After cooling, you can store them as hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator and shell anytime.

It was previously thought that eggs raised blood cholesterol levels -- one of the main causes of heart disease. Another myth was that cholesterol is fat. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that resembles fat, but has little to do with it. If you are watching your Cholestrol, they you may wanna stay away from yolks but otherwise here's all the good things about eggs. Personally I think that Eggs have gotten a bad reputation and they really do more good than people given them credit for.

Eggs are actually quite nutritious. They are not just fat (yolk) and protein (white). In fact, they contain a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals.
Here is what's in an egg...
A: good for the skin and growth.
D: strengthens bones by raising calcium absorption.
E: protects cells from oxidation.
B1: helps properly release energy from carbohydrates.
B2: helps release energy from protein and fat.
B6: promotes the metabolism of protein.
B12: an essential vitamin in the formation of nerve fibers and blood cells.
Iron: essential in the creation of red blood cells.
Zinc: good for enzyme stability and essential in sexual maturation.
Calcium: most important mineral in the strengthening of bones and teeth.
Iodine: controls thyroid hormones.
Selenium: like vitamin E, it protects cells from oxidation.
If that wasn't enough, egg whites contain the purest form of protein found in whole-foods.

RECIPE (Egg Salad Sandwich -- one of my favorite sandwiches):
- 4 eggs boiled as mentioned above
2-3 tblsp Mayonaise
- Dash paprika
- Fresh ground pepper, salt to taste
- Fresh chives or dill if available
- small squeeze of lemon
- drop tobasco
- Some awesome whole wheat or 7 grain fresh bread
1) Boil eggs as mentioned above
2) Cool, shell.
3) In a bowl combine Eggs, Mayonaise, Chives, Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Lemon. Chop eggs with knife and fork. Dont mash too much but rather leave chunky for nice texture.
4) Make a yummy sandwich with fresh bread. Use a leaf of greens (lettuce, spinach) and tomato for sandwich as needed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two Delicious Summer Salads

These are my two favorite summer salads. I dont like lettuce or leaves as much because I dont think they have much taste but I love fresh tomatoes (especially this time of year when they are super fresh) so I prefer to have a salad that I can bite into -- something wholesome but still fresh. You get me?

1) Fresh Italian Caprese Salad aka Insalata Caprese (Salad in the style of Capri). It comes from the Italian region of Campania.

Tomato 2 (Vine ripe or beefsteak tomatoes only; best from a farmers market): cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
Mozzarella (1 pound; fresh if possible): cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
Olive oil (2 tblsp)
basil leaves (6)

Place tomato discs on a plate. Place mozzzarella slices on top of the tomatoes. Top with a basil leaf. Drizzle olive oil (extra virgin olive oil). Sprinkle salt (fresh ground coarse salt if possible) and whole bkack pepper (fresh ground). Enjoy!
Variation is a Chopped Caprese Salad: For this, I chop the tomates and mozzarealla into squares instead and add cubed cucumber. To this I also drizzle balsamic vinegar and add chopped basil. This will stain the mozzarella so the dish wont be as pretty but the taste of the balsamic makes it pretty yummy.

2) Easy Feta Greek Salad
Feta cheese crumbled
Tomato (beefsteak or grape tomato cubed)
Cucumber 1
Fresh lemon 1/2
Olive oil (2 tblsp)
White wine vinegar (to taste)
Olives (greek kalamata or black pitted)
Green bell pepper or small red onion chopped (optional)

Mix all vegetables (tomato, cucumber, olives). Add olive oil, salt and fresh ground whole pepper, juice of half fresh lemon. Mix and add wine vinegar to taste. Gently fold feta cheese into the salad. Enjoy - its the best.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Carla's English Peas (From Top Chef Season 5)

If you are a fan of Top Chef Season 5 you know what i'm talking about. The real recipe is unknown but this is what I guaged from reading food blogs. Some recipes call for tarragon which I didnt have so I didnt use.

Here's the best ways to make "english peas"!

Pack of English peas (i got them at whole foods this weekend)
Lemon zest (made by grating the rind of a lemon really fine)
1/4 stick or 3 -4 tblsp butter
Salt and

1) Create a mixture of lemon zest and thyme (1tsp) in a bowl. Place cold butter.
2) Blanch the peas (until dark green). I just put them in a saucepan with water. Heat for about 5 minutes. Strain.
3) Add hot peas to bowl with cold butter. Toss. Add salt to taste (1/4 tsp).

That's it. It's the best.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chilli garlic shrimp (Indian-chinese style)

CATERGORY: Chinese Main dish
So I love shrimp (or prawns as they are called in India) and my favorite is when it is prepared in the "indian-style chinese" which by the way is totally different from the chinese here. The indian style chinese fried rice for example is fluffier and lighter with fresh carrots, beans. At some point I will be making that too. But for now, its the Chilli garlic shrimp. I describe this preparation as very typical of what you might get at a chinese restaurant in Mumbai.

Shrimp- 20-25
Garlic(chopped) - 2 tsp
Ginger(chopped) - 2 tsp
Onion 1/2 chopped fine
Soy sauce - 2 tsp
Veg stock - 1/2 to 3/4 cup (or use water with soup cube)
Green chillies - 2 chopped
Flour - 1/2 tbsp
Egg - 1
For thickening (Corn flour 1 tbsp + Water - 1/2 cup. Mix)
Black bean paste - 1/2 tsp
1 red or green bell pepper (aka capsicum)
Canola or vegetable oil to deep fry shrimp
Spring onion(chopped) for garnishing

1)Marinate the prawns with salt and pepper and keep it aside for 20-30 mins
2)Beat 1 egg in a bowl and add flour. Whisk. Pour this mixture into shrimp and mix (It will be liquidy)
3)Deep fry prawns till golden brown and keep it aside
4)Heat oil in a wok. Add chopped onion, garlic, ginger, green chillies and saute
5)Add 2 - 3 tsp soy sauce and veg stock.
6)When the stock boils, add fried prawns
7)Mix corn flour with 1/2 cup of water and add to the gravy. This is for thickening.
8)Add a pinch of sugar and 1/2 tsp of black bean sauce. A little more soy sauce may be needed per your taste.
9) Red or green bell pepper is optional and goes well
13)Add chopped spring onion as garnish

And 'voila', the Chilli garlic shrimp is ready for enjoying. Serve with steam rice or with light noodles (example woon sen or glass noodles).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shepards pie

SOURCE: Inspired by Rachel Ray and Simply Recipies
COMMENTS: Worcestershire is the key ingredient!
As soon as I got back from India, I have had a craving for Shepards pie, Pumpkin soup and Sourdough bread. Dont ask!
So yesterday I went to the store and decided to make the Shepards Pie. I looked up 2 simple recipies -- Rachel Ray's 30 minute one (BTW, I have to admit that I love her 30 minute meals). I also liked the recipie from "Simple Recipies". So this one is inspired by both but is my own in that I have added variation and definitely tweaked the Worcestershire which I think is the ingredient that "makes" this dish.

Dish makes 6 servings. Best in a medium rectangle glass baking dish. My version is about 45 mins to 1 hour.

6 small to medium potatoes (I used yellow because I think they are tastier) quartered
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup cream (broth can be used for lighter version)
1.25 lb ground beef or ground lamb or ground chicken
1 onion, chopped
Green chilli (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
2-4 teaspoons Worcestershire (per taste)
Sprinkle of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Vegetables - I used frozen peas, carrots and corn (1/2 to 3/4 cup depending on how much vegetable you want in your pie)

Boil quartered potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Cool, peel and place them into a bowl. Combine egg yolk and cream. Season with salt, pepper. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add little olive oil to season pan and then add the meat. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add onion to the meat and cook. Add veggies, stirring frequently.

In a saucepan over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Add green chilli and additional worcestershire for a kick.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are browned.

I usually add hot sauce while eating but thats just me.