Monday, July 23, 2007

an unintended break

So as a lot of you know, I have been away for, a long time. I was hoping to be back sooner, but our summerly activities didn't allow me to. In the past couple months, we've traveled to Montreal, the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, & skydived. Along with the trips, our usual summer fare continued with picnics, backyard grill outs and free tickets to the comedy club. And if that wasn't enough, I am still working at my full time and part time job. (I promise) by no means this is bragging, it is my way of fitting in an excuse for the delay in blogging.

I am excited to share my stories as well as the food pictures. Will be back soon...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

wine and cheese, for dinner

I had one of those "too lazy to make dinner" moods the other night; so I poured myself a glass of cabernet sauvignon/merlot wine and had it with sliced cheese and granny smith apple for dinner. I have these nights once in a while but I am posting about this particular one because I really enjoy a bottle of
Frontera's Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from the Concha y Toro vineyard in Chile.

I used a jalapeño pepper cheese (monterey jack or habañero would also work). The spicyness in the cheese compliments this smooth, medium bodied wine. The wine has a slight dark fruit flavor with a hint of spice in the background. Next time, I will have grapes or plums with it to excite my taste buds, even more.

This was a quick and easy dinner after a long time. And just perfect!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

leftovers are my favorite

When I have any kind of leftovers, I either reach for the tupperware or freeze the food. Nothing EVER goes to waste in my household (with an exception to forgotten and lost vegetables in the fridge). I am so particular about this even the hubby takes only the amount he plans to eat.

Few days prior, I made Mussels with Cilantro Cream sauce at my parent's house and we had sauce leftover that did not make it into our bellies. Sadly, we didn't have bread that night to mop up. Before everything was thrown to waste, I bought whole-grain French baguette and made Garlic bread with a Cilantro sauce.

The garlic and olive oil make it really scrumptious. Use your favorite extra virgin olive oil, this is the time to bring out the best of the best.

Garlic Bread with Cilantro Cream sauce

One whole grain French
1/4 cup of cilantro cream sauce
1 garlic clove, halved
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, optional

Cut French bread into slices, broil for 5 minutes. Rub half of garlic on the bread and drizzle extra virgin olive oil, generously. Broil for 2 more minutes; this will heighten the flavors of olive oil and garlic. Remove from oven, drizzle Cilantro Cream sauce evenly on all slices. Add parmesan cheese, if using. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

scalloped potatoes

I used to make scalloped potatoes often but lost interest after I discovered my love for mashed potatoes. Nothing personal to either dishes; the whipped buttery taste won me over sliced baked taste. If given a potato slicer (or something like it) for a present, I'd go back to loving scalloped potatoes. But for now, my heart belongs to..... ok ok enough already, you say.

When I saw Elise's version of the potatoes, I was inspired to make them before it was too warm to turn on the oven. She's a great cook and I used her recipe as a guide to my perfect scalloped potatoes.

Scalloped Potatoes

3 medium russet potatoes; peeled, par-boiled and thinly sliced
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
3/4 cup milk
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cubed and divided
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

Par-boil potatoes in a medium pot of salted water. While potatoes come to a boil, thinly slice onion, grate cheese and stir milk with onions, flour, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Prepare baking dish by buttering the dish with 1 tablespoon of cubed butter. Remove potatoes from the hot water and allow to cool. When cool, thinly slice potatoes.

Spread one layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish, add 1/2 tablespoon of cubed butter, 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese and 1/4 cup of the milk mixture. Spread second layer of sliced potatoes, add rest (1/2 cup) of the cheese and 1/4 cup of milk mixture. Spread last layer of sliced potatoes, finish with 1/4 cup of milk mixture and 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Uncover foil and bake for additional 20-25 minutes until bubbling on top.

Yields 4 side dish servings

Eating healthy is important, right? Yes it is! In the past few months I've been eating healthy (or have tried to), walking around the office building to get my daily exercise (or think about it, doesn't that count?) and pushing myself to increase my daily fiber, omega and protein intake. While browsing for healthy foods and healthier lifestyle one day, I came across a
site that really promotes all of this. The host holds weekly ARF (Antioxidant Rich Foods) events, so she’s not messing around. It's a good way to remind us health foodie wanna be's on how to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. Not so bad right? We’ll see…. This is my first entry to the event and I hope to continue submitting in future.

Monday, May 07, 2007

first timer- Mussels with Cilantro Chutney Cream sauce

We're visiting my parents for the first time this year. When I was younger, I grew up on the east coast near the water, fresh seafood, beach, delicious sushi (this has nothing to do with east coast, I just like to throw it in the mix) and other wonderful east coast things. It's really hard to come by fresh seafood in the Midwest so when I visit my parents or visit DC/Va, I eat as much seafood as one can cram in a weekend trip. It's plenty to last me a while.

My seafood fascination mostly includes salmon, tuna, mahi mahi, shrimp and crab cakes. However two weekends ago when I visited DC, I went out to a delicious French restaurant with a friend's family. It was her birthday dinner, a treat from her dad. Her family had just returned from a trip to Paris and was craving good French food. There, we ordered mussels for appetizer. Now mind you, prior to that evening I had never tried mussels. The mussels were prepared in a butter/parsley sauce. And they were delish, a new fascination to add to my seafood list! So when the hubby and I planned this trip to visit my parents, I knew I would buy mussels to make as an appetizer.

It was my first time preparing them and I was nervous. Though mussels aren't hard to cook, it was the cleaning and preparing the sauce I was worried about. I knew my parents wouldn't try them because they don't like seafood. (Don't ask) If they didn't taste great, the hubby wouldn't try them either, that’s a lot of pressure! I thought to myself, I must come up with an appetizing recipe that'll keep him coming back for more. From much research I saw recipes with wine, garlic and butter sauce and/or a Thai version with coconut, ginger and lime sauce. But I wanted a cilantro and lemon juice based sauce so I combined multiple recipes to make my own version of mussels with cilantro cream sauce.

I love cilantro. I can't get enough of its flavor, aroma and fresh color when cooked in a dish. A lot of people believe cilantro is strong but I think it's a good form of strong. Because it's the main ingredient for this recipe, this is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Cooking with Rinku. Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen started weekend herb blogging many weeks ago and it's been a huge success. She as well as some guest hosts have been hosting this weekly event for 81 weeks. Long time right?

Mussels with Cilantro Chutney Cream sauce

2 lbs mussels
olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cilantro chutney (recipe follows)
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt & Pepper
Lemon juice

Mussels should be closed, and shells should be unbroken or uncracked. If mussels are open tap them to close; if they don't close they are dead, discard.

Soak mussels in cold water for 20- 30 minutes. This will allow excess dirt and grit to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Take the mussels out of cold water and leave in a strainer to drain. Do not dump the dirty water over the mussels. Scrub mussels with a clean toothbrush on both sides (multiple times). Debeard the mussels with your fingers or kitchen tweezers by pulling the fibers toward the hinged point of the shell.

In a large sauté pan (big enough so mussels can be cooked in one layer), heat olive oil on medium heat. Add chopped garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add cilantro chutney to the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Stir the mixture so garlic and chutney combines with the oil. Add cream, stir, and cook until the mixture bubbles. Add salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium low and add mussels. Cover and cook for 5- 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, take out mussels onto a serving platter. Any unopened mussels must be thrown out. Continue to cook the cilantro cream sauce until it thickens, 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drizzle over mussels. Squeeze lemon over the mussels and sauce and serve.

First time but really worth it. If I can find fresh mussels around here, I’ll certainly make it again. I may even try it one of the other ways, with a lemon/butter sauce or with a thai twist.

Yields 2 servings for appetizer or 1 serving for main dish

Cilantro Chutney, this is from an Indian recipe. We use this as a dipping sauce for fried vegetable fritters, samosas and chaat papdi. It’s a versatile chutney so I always have it on hand. With an addition of olive oil, I recently started using chutney to make my own salad dressing.

1 bunch cilantro
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup small fine sev, yellow dried noodles found at any Indian grocer. (sev comes in small, medium and large size) If you can’t find sev, boiled potatoes or peanuts are a great replacement. It is used as a binding agent for the chutney.
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt to taste

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Serve as is with a favorite dish or use to make an exceptional sauce for mussels.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

summer time

It's such an amazing feeling to know that summer is here, almost. Though here in the midwest we didn't get a spring season this year; summer is certainly something to look forward to. Their are farmer's markets, picnics in the parks, short walks in the evening, fresh fruits and vegetables and most importantly fresh tomatoes and basil sauce for my gnocchi.

Speaking of gnocchi, I had left over gnocchi from my first attempt that I had to use before I forgot. The first thing that came to mind was tomato basil sauce. Though the hubby wanted a bechamel sauce with the gnocchi I wasn't convinced on the idea. And if I am cooking, what I say goes. Ha! Not really but I'd been craving a tomato and basil sauce for some time. Because he isn't a fan of tomato sauce, tomato curry, tomato anything for that matter; we don't cook it as often. This time, it would be nothing but.... Unfortuantely my local market didn't have fresh basil that day so I used dried. (I know, not good but I made an exception)

Gnocchi: use this previously posted recipe.


Olive oil
1 small onion or shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 tomato, diced
1/4 teaspoon sugar, optional
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried basil or 3-4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Salt, divided
Red pepper flakes
1 cup stock or water (cooking liquid)

Drizzle saute pan with olive oil and turn on the heat to medium-low. Add chopped onions and garlic to saute for few minutes. Then add salt to the mixture and cook until onions are translucent. Add diced tomatoes, increase heat to medium and cook until the mixture starts bubbling. Add sugar and wine and allow to cook until alcohol evaporates. (the sugar breaks down the tomatoes' strong acidity.) Lower heat to low, add basil, salt, red pepper flakes and cooking liquid. Cook for 20-25 minutes until sauce is thickened.

Add gnocchi to the sauce, cook for few minutes and serve. We had this with a salad and it was the best way to have gnocchi and tomato basil sauced combined. Even the hubby agreed.

note: this recipe yields 1/2 cup of sauce, perfect amount for the amount of our gnocchi.

Since gnocchi is a form of pasta, this post is my submission to Ruth's exceptional pasta cooking event, Presto Pasta Night. Go check it out and join the pasta cooking fun. The weekly event is fun to read and offers great pasta recipes. It's a great resource for me, as I hope it is for you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I am tired- break

I am behind, in life. There is a lot going on with my day time job, volunteering, once a month cooking club, house decorating, and trying to live. I enjoy all of the above but since I am also a busy body or try to be, I forget that I can't handle all of it at once, mentally and physically. And if that wasn't enough, I am part timing at a small restaurant in the evening hours. This was to pursue my dream to own my little restaurant or coffee shop. I've never worked at a restaurant, besides Subway, and decided I must start now. The corporate slaving is alright but cooking and owning a business is where my heart belongs. I try to eat out on days when I’m too tired to do anything but I think that’s made it worse. Because I am doing everything all at once and don't give myself time to cook, I am more cranky. I hope all that goes away now that the weather is nicer. *keeping my fingers crossed*

Has anyone been in this situation before? What is one to do? How do you prioritize?

I am taking a blogging break for few days. This weekend will be used to recoup. Though I won’t blog for few days, I'll definitely browse my favorite blogs so keep posting!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Presto Pasta Night

The husband and I have craved homemade lasagna for months. And every time we go to Italian restaurant lasagna is either their best/top dish or a special on the menu. Unfortunately since we don't eat beef or pork, we couldn't have the all around favorite Italian pasta dish. After the last time that happened, we agreed to make it at home. When we were younger my mom made lasagna couple times. I know she fiddled with variety of recipes to make her own. I liked hers a lot but couldn't remember how she made it. Really, all it took was a phone call to ask but I was determined to make my own lasagna.

I can proudly say I made lasagna from scratch for the first time. (I didn't make the pasta though that'd be great) I followed directions on the back of the Barilla box. I won't post the recipe because Barilla sells pasta almost everywhere and the recipe is probably on their website. If you desperately want a recipe, email me and I'll send it over. However I don't think it's worth the time and effort to follow their recipe. (No offense to any of you that follow the recipe and enjoy it.)

It was too bland for my taste. Maybe I'm used to eating my mom's that included all kinds of spices and ingredients or maybe I am not used to having salt and pepper as the only seasonings in my food. I like my dishes to have oomph and this one didn't have it.

Also, I didn't think it was as fabulous as I had hoped because of the amount of time and energy it required for an okay result. I don't mind slaving over in the kitchen for hours (I grew up watching my mom make Indian food daily) using lots of ingredients but only if their is payoff.

Overall, the lasagna was edible but certainly not exceptional. This means I am on a lookout for a great turkey lasagna recipe. If any of you have suggestions or recipes, please feel free to share.

Regardless of the outcome, I'm submitting this for Presto Pasta Night hosted by Ruth. I am making myself feel better by saying, it obviously wasn't that bad since I put in the effort to assemble, eat, and freeze it all. In couple weeks, I'm hoping to defrost it, add some seasonings and herbs for my kicked up version.

This coming fall I am hoping to try again, thoroughly researching recipes and blogs before round due (two in italian).

Monday, April 16, 2007

I made Gnocchi?

Couple days ago I had a "I must try to make this dish" moment. A strong inkling for me usually means revamping a favorite recipe or trying something new. This time it was the latter. I read blogs, cookbooks, websites about gnocchi but never tried making it. With the precise steps and very few ingredients, the thought of making it was terrifying. On several occasions I thought, if I make a mistake, there's no turning back and I couldn't just add ingredients to cover up the mess. It was scary. I was intimidated to make gnocchi at home. However I knew I had a large bowl full of left over mashed potatoes. I made mashed potatoes to go with scallops and caramelized onions. That dish was good but not a favorite. Since gnocchi consists of boiled or baked potatoes, mashed, I found this and this recipe. As nervous as I was, I convinced myself to make it for dinner. And that is how gnocchi with sage butter emerged in our house for the first time.


1 1/2 cups left over mashed potatoes
1/2 - 3/4 cups Flour, divided
1 Egg
pinch of salt

3 tablespoons Butter
10 sage leaves
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
ground white pepper

Put the mashed potatoes through a sieve. From my research the best product for this is a potato ricer but since I don't plan on investing in one, sieve with bigger net holes works fine. Don't use a fine sieve, because the potatoes won't pass. Dust countertop with some flour and spread potatoes on the counter top. Make a well in the potatoes. Then add 1 egg, 1/2 cup of flour and salt. Knead the dough. Add additional flour to the dough or countertop, if necessary. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Divide the ball of dough in quarters.

Lightly flour hands and counter. Take each quarter and roll out with hands to make a rope. The rope should be 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the ropes in 1/2- 3/4 inch pieces. Using a fork and your thumb, gently press each piece into the back of the fork with your thumb. It will have fork marks on one side and slight indentation on the other. As the pieces are formed, lay them on a dusted or parchment papered cookie sheet.

I froze half of mine for another special night. I smell tomato and basil sauce in the air...

To cook the gnocchi bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt to the water when it comes to a bubble. Then add some gnocchi to the boiling water. (Do not over crowd or they will stick to each other or the bottom of the pot). As they rise to the top, remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat until all are cooked.

To make the sauce; melt butter on medium heat in a medium saute pan. When it bubbles, add sage and let it cook and crisp for 1 minute. Add cooked gnocchi to the pan. Cook the gnocchi with the sauce for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes on each side. This will brown the gnocchi. Serve hot.

Thanks to epicurious, Elise and few other googled recipes, I made gnocchi for the first time with great success! Though intimidating at first it's really simple and worth the time and effort. I'll definitely add it to my repertoire.

Because of the great flavor combination of sage and butter for the sauce, this is my contribution to the Weekend Herb Blogging cooking event hosted by Sher at What did you eat.

Weekend Herb Blogging was invented by Kalyn to increase herb usage in the our daily cooking. It has been a huge success because bloggers all around the world contribute to the event.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

what happens when a blogger browses 10+ blogs a day?

You get hooked, or at least I do. Hooked on the feeling to read more, learn more and cook more. This morning I came to the realization that I am very thankful for the birth of internet, especially blogging. Since I sat down on the PC this morning until just a few minutes ago, I've read 5 familiar blogs and 6 new ones. The familiar ones are on my favorite lists as I stop in and read their updates and the new ones are a discovery. It happens everyday. I find more new blogs daily that I am fascinated by and have the desire to visit regularly. For instance, I found this exceptionally written blog by Cookiecrumb and this one about Quick Indian Cooking. Until I started reading the latter, I didn't think such a thing was possible. Indian cooking fast? No way... However after reading that particular blog, I can imagine it can work. If I get all my ducks in a row, prepare all my ingredients beforehand, I can cook Indian food in a short time.

I am appreciative to those discovered and waiting to be discovered for the insight on such great things.

Notably, these familiar and newly discovered blogs inspire me to try cooking a variety of dishes. I've made gnocchi, lasagna, and fig & goat cheese tapenade in the last few days (pictures, recipes and success rate will soon to be posted), all because the blogs that I've stumbled upon have made me want to try my hand at gnocchi, for the first time, or make an old time favorite, lasagna.

Familiar or not, some recipes and pictures have really made my mouth water. I’ve made a list of recipes I want to try in the upcoming weeks. To name a few, I am planning to make scalloped potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, and khaman.

The pictures on
this blog even made me want to visit Morocco as soon as possible. Though the travel may not happen now, I can certainly dream. And most importantly I can continue to cook and cherish great foods, tastes and cultures of the world which is at my fingertips.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Jihva for Tomatoes, or Tomatillos

Tomatoes, tomater, taameta, tomate; whatever word you use to call these fruits, you know when I say they're the most delightful things for any kind of cooking. They're so versatile, they can be added to any recipe for an enhanced taste. When I read that RP was hosting JFI blogging event and tomatoes were her pick for the month; I jumped at the opportunity to make a tomato-based dish. I went to a favorite grocer that sells a variety of vegetables and fruits including bittermelon, Indian eggplant, Japanese eggplant, lemongrass, fresh okra, plantains and a billion types of hot sauces. Products that would otherwise be oust from a typical store because they're international. boohoo. I bought fresh tomatillos to make a mexican favorite, enchilada verde. I made enchilada sauce using tomatillo salsa and the filling with spinach, black bean and cheese.
I came across a filling recipe by Sher at What did you eat She made a delicious spinach & kale enchilada filling that inspired me to try my hand at vegetarian enchiladas. I used black beans in place of mushrooms and kale and it still turned out great. Next time I'll even go as far as making the tequila sauce, if time permits.

Enchilada Verde

For the sauce:
4 tomatillos
2 garlic cloves
2 serrano peppers (2 made it spicy, just the way I like it; add according to your taste)
1 medium onion
teaspoon of cumin seeds

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Roast the vegetables and whole cumin in a baking dish for 14 minutes. When finished, let cool. Add some water to the blender along with the roasted ingredients and blend into a smooth sauce. Add salt and blend again.

For the filling:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 16 oz can of black beans, washed and drained
16 oz frozen spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry) or 1.5 lbs of fresh spinach, washed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teapsoon of red chile powder
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup milk1 cup Cheese- Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, Queso Fresco (anything that tickles your fancy
Salt & Pepper

Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add garlic and onions and saute until onions are translucent and garlic is cooked. Sprinkle some salt & pepper. Add black beans and cook for 4-6 minutes. Then add spinach and cook until wilted. Add ground cumin, coriander, red chile powder and more salt & pepper to flavor the beans and the greens. Add flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. Cook the flour for 3- 5 minutes or until it starts to smell nutty. Whisk in the milk slowly to keep from lumping. Add 1/4 cup of tomatillo salsa and cook until liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat, add the cheese, and stir. Let the filling cool.

To make the Enchiladas:
8 corn, flour or wheat tortillas
Spinach and Black bean filling
Tomatillo salsa
Fill each tortilla with the filling, roll and lay in a rectangular baking dish. Repeat this with the other 7 tortillas.

Pour tomatillo salsa over the enchiladas and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle rest of the cheese over the enchiladas and bake for 5 more minutes. When ready, the cheese should be bubbling on top.

The tomatillo salsa was unusual from the typical red enchilada sauce and added great flavor to the enchiladas. I made this when MG & EB were over for dinner; it was a big hit with the vegetarian guest. I'll certainly make it again.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Harira, my way

The inspiration to last night's dish was chickpeas. For me cooking is about using ingredients that are in the kitchen and/or pantry and preparing a divine dish from that. The husband soaked 1.5 cups of dry garbanzo beans the previous night intending to make chole. If you've soaked dried beans, you know that they expand; the next morning we had double the garbanzo beans and no interest in making chole. I had a change of heart because I attempted to make bhature last week and failed miserably so I didn't want to relive that, again.

What to do, what to do... decisions, decisions..

Then it dawned on me to make hummus with half of the beans. I gave some of it to friends EB & MG. And AM was coming over to celebrate my birthday, offer decorating advice for the house (since I lack in that department) and to eat dinner. Guests over for dinner is a perfect time to make a fancy dish, therefore the other half of the beans were used to make my version of Harira, Moroccan stew, eaten after breaking fast on Ramadan. It is made on the stove in a watched pot but because it was harira my way I changed the recipe and cooked it in the slow cooker.


3 garlic cloves minced
1 medium onion chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
a good pinch of saffron threads
1 cinammon stick
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoon ground cumin, divided
2 tablespoon ground coriander, divided
2 teaspoons cayenne powder, divided
salt & pepper
2 cups soaked chickpeas, or one 16 oz. can
2 lbs chicken thighs, about 6 thighs
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
almonds for topping
green onions for topping
Sprinkle salt & pepper, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground coriander and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper on both sides of the chicken.

To the crockpot add garlic, onions, turmeric, saffron, cinammon stick, chili powder, rest of ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper. Drain the chickpeas from the overnight soaking liquid and add to the slow cooker and stir. Place the seasoned chicken on top of the chickpeas and add broth or water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Though it's tempting, don't stir during the cooking or the chicken will break into pieces. When serving, chicken should be in individual pieces. In the last hour of the cooking, add lemon juice.

Harira can be eaten with rice or couscous. Top it with green onions and almonds and serve with your choice of side.

After we finished dinner I realized I didn't take any pictures. We were all too hungry to think about pictures, obviously. My guests always jump at the opportunity to take pictures for MY blog prior to dinner, don't yours? No? Your friends are odd.

The recipe was a success and pictures might have been a great addition but they wouldn't convey the marvelous smell and taste of the dish when it's made. You have to try it to believe it.

side note: you can add golden raisins and tomatoes to the recipe but since someone in the family isn't a fan of both of those in this recipe, I omitted them.

This is my submission to Arabian Nights Mingle hosted by Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey check it out and try some great food.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

but what about the comments?

test two because my comments link is missing for the last post. dangit! I should just sit at home, cook, learn html, eat, make my blog pretty and cook some more.

Monday, March 26, 2007

cold drink for a hot day

I wish I could drink one of these on a beautiful hot day like today. Falooda is an Indian drink made with milk, basil seeds, rose syrup, vermicelli noodles and ice cream. Because of the hot weather 8 months out of the year in the region, people found alternative ways like this to stay cool. One of the foods the husband and I were both very pleased to have while in India. It was delicious.

When I was young, all the cousins in the family would drive to the falooda shop (yes they're so popular in India, they have shops just for faloodas) and had these for evening snack. They are filling. The baby cousin was, of course, the most demanding; only sharing with cousins that would allow him to eat or drink as he pleased. I vividly remember our last outing to the falooda shop with the cousins before we packed our bags and came to America. He was 6 years old and wanted his own glass of falooda. Mind you, they generally come in a tall beer glass and for a 6 year old, this is more than enough. He demanded his own and indeed got his own. He also had some tricks up his sleeve that were about to unravel. Everyone ordered theirs, and in the first round he ate the ice cream and the vermicelli noodles. The milk and basil seeds were passed off to the rest of us to finish; like he was too good for it. When the rest of us were busy talking, he walked up to the counter and ordered another glass for himself. As for the 3rd round, we learned our lesson and before he ordered thirds we tried to get him to finish the first two. He made faces, got angry and threw a fit for having to finish the milk and basil seeds and declined the offer. He got his way and surely enough he ordered a third glass. Good for us, because some of us rose to the opportunity to have 2nds and 3rds. Our outings were opportunities that would bring us all together to enjoy a good conversation and a tall glass of falooda.

Not only does Falooda remind me of cooling down in hot weather but it also reminds me of home and my cousins. While having it on our last trip to India, it brought back wonderful memories. It would have been lovely to go to the falooda shop with the cousins but unfortunately everyone is dispersed. maybe next time…

chicken satay with noodles

When I started browsing cookbooks and blogs for recipes I had one thing in mind, I must use my chicken thighs and left over pasta. I got the idea from more bread and cheese, please blog. Thanks Charise! I love it when I come across simple recipes that are scrumptious. It was sort of like a chicken satay but with noodles. It's one of those dishes that I'll use in future for last minute go to meals.

And because we love pasta, I can never have too many pasta recipes. Thanks to Ruth for starting and hosting Presto Pasta Nights, as I am always looking for variety of pasta recipes.

I've expressed my opinion on measured cooking, I don't do it! Therefore this recipe is an approximation. Because I like my satay to have a strong peanutty flavor I add extra peanut butter and that may not be the case for you; so start with little and add more if necessary.

For the marinade:
1/4 c. Peanut butter
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons Fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Chili Oil
1 tablespoon Rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
Pinch of Salt (I omitted salt for mine because of the soy sauce and vinegar. You could too, if you’re watching your salt intake)
2 garlic cloves
Water, as a thinning agent
4 chicken thighs or breasts
Cooked long pasta, Rice works too

Use a large bowl to mix the first 9 (peanut butter through salt) ingredients. Drizzle 1/2 of the marinade over the pasta. Then add minced garlic to the marinade and combine it with the chicken. Let it sit for 15 minutes. As I say with marinades, the longer it sits the better the flavor.

On medium heat, add oil to the pan and cook the chicken on one side for 4-5 minutes, turn and let it cook for additional 4 minutes. For a crispier crust, cook the chicken on medium-high. Cover, lower heat to medium and allow the chicken to cook through for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid, let the watery juices cook off about 5 minutes and add the pasta in the last few minutes of the cooking.

Serve warm. With a slice of lemon and chopped peanuts. Because we didn't have peanuts for the grand finale, we did without. And it worked fine. A quick and delicious recipe.

On a side note, blogspot is going through emotional issues and won't allow comments for this post. If you want, you can write them here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

patra and patudi (khandvi)

I apologize to anyone that's been waiting for these... They're long overdue, I know. As I went through 300+ pictures, I realized that 85% of our pictures are with family. Therefore I'll post what I think people want to see; food, streets, people and India, in general.

Gujarat is well know for some of these foods: Oondhiyu, patra, dhoklas, patudi, dal dhokli, muthiya and a variety of sweets. Since the hubby and I aren't big on sweets, we didn't try too many. Prior to leaving for India, I expressed to my mother in law my interest to learn simple homemade Gujarati dishes from her.

"Patra are leaves of the Taro plant." Thanks Wikipedia. The dish itself is steamed leaf rolls.

The filling is made using dal, ginger, green chili paste, salt, and black peppercorns.

Soak Dal for 6+ hours. Drain 90% of the water and blend with ginger and green chili to make a foamy mixture. Then using mortar and pestle, the dal mixture is ground into a fine paste. One must spin the pestle rapidly, moving the dal around in the the mortar to attain the smooth consistency. (It's great for upper body/shoulder and arm work out).

Before spreading onto the leaves, add the whole black peppercorns.

The leaf is rolled, ensuring the leaf is covered with filling entirely. For smaller leaves, add addtional leaves covered with the filling to make a thicker roll.

Then the rolls are steamed for 20 minutes (more or less) depending on their size. Knife must come out clean when pierced in the thickest part of the roll.

Let cool, cut and serve. Top it with oil and lemon juice for great flavor and zing.

Patudi, also known as khandvi, is fairly simple though when heated, one has to work fast. It's made from gram flour (besan), chili powder, turmeric, and buttermilk. (ginger and green chili can be added) Mix all in a pan and heat on medium heat. Stir continuously to avoid lumping. It must form a smooth paste.

Spread onto clean surface; counter top, aluminum foil or back of a big plate.

Score with a sharpe knife, to make 3 inch wide rolls. Roll gently.

This is how it should look when they're rolled.
For tempering, heat gee or oil in small sauce pan on medium heat. Then add mustard seeds. When seeds start popping, add cilantro and remove from heat. Drizzle over patudi.

Both of these dishes are generally eaten as an appetizer or a side dish. Patudi's texture is very different from any food I've ever had, but it's really good.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Happy Happy Birth....

The husband's midnight birthday celebration, sort of. We had some friends over and his ultimate dish is Murghi (Chicken) curry. Their was some drinking, okay a lot of drinking and some cooking. The recipe is so top secret, I still don't know the ingredients. However I do know he marinates the chicken in yogurt, garam masala, ground cumin & coriander, chili powder, lemon juice and salt for an hour or two; the longer the better. During the winter months, the chicken is broiled in the oven at 450F degrees and in the summer it's grilled. That in itself is so tasty, I usually just munch on those. Then onion and garlic are sauted with bay leaf and cinnamon stick in a large pan with vegetable oil on medium high heat. After adding tomotoes, garam masala, chili powder and other great spices; he lets it simmer for a good hour- hour and half

As soon as I have the recipe down to the tee, I'll share it with everyone.
We usually eat this with rice but naan is a great accompaniment.

This post is for my wonderful husband, that's a great cook if he wants to be. Happy Birthday Love

Monday morning blues

Springing forward is fun and all but I really wasn't expecting it to be dark and gazy at 6:45am. After getting ready for work, preparing my lunch and heating up the car, I noticed it was still very dark outside. When I looked at my car clock, it read 6:51am. Because I am generally out of it in the morning anyway, I thought I woke up too early for work.

As I started to make my way up the stairs to tell the hubby about the accident, it dawned on me that Springing forward to save energy was a cause of all this. I walked back down, restarted the car, ensured my cell phone was in the purse and started to pull away when I realized, I forgot my lunch on the stairs. Damnit, why do these things happen to me on a Monday morning? Parked the car, got my lunch and headed out. Safe and Sound. As I pulled away from my street, I told myself if I forgot anything else, it doesn't matter. On the way to work, I noticed the beautiful sun rising through the never ending forest behind me. That's when I realize, that maybe waking up an hour early isn't great, but witnessing the work of nature on my way to work makes it all worth it.

Though dragging myself out of bed every morning and overcoming morning blues won't be easy, I hope watching the sun rise while driving to work will be inspiration enough.

Monday, February 26, 2007

cooking, posting and sharing pictures

I haven't been as good as I've been wanting to be about cooking, sharing pictures and posting on my blog. There are a ton of events going on that I've been interested in so I am going to post about these events, hoping that it'll get me motivated to take more pictures.

This seems manageable for me, as I enjoy themed cooking. And there is also one for the potato lover in me. Long live the potato!!

Hopefully these will be a good start to posting and sharing pictures of my food.

global warming- let's do something

Most of us have either seen the inconvenient truth or have a slight idea of what it's about. For those of you that are unaware, two words: global warming. If you've seen the movie than you understand when I say, let's do something. We must want to do something different, change the daily lifestyle to help save the environment, appreciate Earth a little more and show factual information to the stubborn ones. If research proves that global warming is happening then why isn't there an organized effort to get the word out? As I view it, the social issues that matter the most aren't taken seriously. Their aren't enough people rallying behind the movement to educate others that are not aware of the problem. Unfortunately we're too deep in this problem to ignore the problem. It boggles my mind that people feel that Earth as old as it is and it's really old, should be taken for granted. And how is it okay to wipe all the species and resources off the planet because we were not careful? Our children and future generations deserve to live a healthy, worry-less but cautious life. They must have a chance to rip the benefits of Earth and all that it has given us in our lifetimes.

I recycle, avoid driving if I don't have to, lower the thermostat when we're not home or at night, buy local foods (that are by far 10 times more fresh), will buy a hybrid as my next car (scratch that, I plan to use public transport), and it's not enough. And I want to do more.

Because of Earth's make up and history, it's disheartening to see this city as the mecca of gas guzzling SUVs with suburban sprawl. Trying to find grass roots organizations here is a daunting task, but I will continue my efforts. And I declare I've seen many go green bumper stickers, unfortunately not enough. The SUVs, the sprawl, the ignorance and all the other factors make the efforts ten times worse. And this is why I am suggesting a bigger, louder voice to inspire to do more. I wish the green democrats would speak up more. Disorganization in our party isn't really helping either however that's a topic for another time.

How are the Republicans raising money and rallying for conservative driven issues? Do they really have better organizational abilities than we do? Is that all it is? Please tell me it is, and that would make it so much simpler.

Let's do something together as a society and change our future for the better.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

and we're back!

Back in the routine of the daily grind. We had the best time in India. The food, the shopping, the family, the chaos, the traffic are just to name a few, all phenomenal. It's what makes India India and I loved every bit of it.

It's been a few weeks since our return but we've been busy and back logged with work, errands, cleaning the house and everything that happens after a long vacation. The weather in this neck of the woods has been cold, snowy and gloomy since our return. We had 6+ inches of snow with freezing rain last week which called for days off from work. 'twas wonderful!

Shopping in India was ggggreeatt. I bought a lot of things for my kitchen, hand sewn curtains for all the windows in our house, some clothes and even shoes! I used to not care for shoes from India but this time around I went crazy.

After returning we've entertained and been entertained. It's great to catch up with friends after being away for weeks. This is also a way to escape the lonelyness at the house; while in India at any given time we had at least 10 people in the hosue and these days it's just the husband and I.