Thursday, December 2, 2010

Z Is for Zucchini. F is for Frittata

I know I once said brussel sprouts are my favorite veggie and they are, really, I swear. But zucchini comes in a very close second. Usually I just cook my zucs up in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper until they are a little bit charred and crispy so they taste like chips. My second favorite way to use zucchini is with eggs. I make a mean frittata. Here’s my recipe for a classic zucchini frittata. It can be jazzed up with any other veggies too (including sweet potatoes, I tried that once with leeks and it was amaze-balls).

What You Need:

Garlic (2–5 cloves; I usually go heavy on the garlic.)
Olive Oil
Four zucchinis
8 whole eggs (I usually do about 4 eggs and 8 whites.)
Milk (Just a dash)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan Cheese (As little or as much as you like.)

What to Do:

Preheat the broiler. Chop the zucchini into ¼'' slices and crush garlic. (If you’ve got a fancy mandolin use that; I unfortunately don’t.) Sauté them together in a cast-iron skillet that’s been coated with olive oil for about ten minutes.

In a bowl beat together eggs, milk (about 2 tablespoons worth) and salt and pepper. (Sometimes I mix the eggs together in my Magic Bullet to get them extra foamy. A blender works too.) Pour the egg mixture into the warm skillet and let cook for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to un-stick the sides.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place the skillet in the heated broiler for about 3 minutes. Let it set until cool. Flip over, slice and serve.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pie + Booze = Fun Parties: Butterscotch Pumpkin Pie

We had a faboo family Thanksgiving party last week and I ate to my hearts content (and then some). For those of you wondering, no we did not have tandoori turkey or cranberry curry, it was traditional American T-day fare for us. 

I was in charge of making a pumpkin pie. Instead of doing a boring ole classic version, I boozed it up and made a pumpkin butterscotch pie that I’m pretty sure was a hit. It’s perfect for Christmas or anytime of year you’re craving pumpkin, pie, or booze (basically everyday).

P.S. Look at my pretty table decor made from leaves stolen from our neighbor's yard.

What You Need:

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup scotch or whiskey (to be honest, I’m not sure what the diff is!)
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

What to Do:

Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, and salt in pan and bring to boil, stirring gradually. Boil until deep brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add booze, then cream. It will get bubbly and then the caramel will solidify.  Put it back on the stove and whisky gently until most caramel bits dissolve. Strain butterscotch mixture into small bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Use an electric mixer to mix the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and pumpkin puree in large bowl. Whisk in eggs and spices. Add butterscotch mixture and blend it all together.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill up pie crust (I used the store-bought stuff) with pumpkin/butterscotch mixture. Bake until just set, about 50 minutes. Cool before serving. Can be served warm or at room temp.

Every pie needs whipped cream (obviously!). I infused booze into mine for T-day. (Word on the street is that I was a bit too heavy handed, sorry guys.)

What You Need:
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Scotch

What to Do:
Using a hand beater, beat cream, sugar, and Scotch until peaks form.

Put a spoonful of cream on a slice of pie and serve with a festive smile which will happen naturally after slaving over a liquor-filled stove all day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You'll Fall for Indian Meatballs

Last night I made Indian meatballs. It was a good night.

I reheated some again today for lunch. It was a good afternoon.

Here’s the recipe so you can make them too:

(They are aka kebabs in the motha-land.)

What you need:

1lb. lean ground beef (I used Trader Joes 96/4 beef.)
1lb. ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped in small pieces
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped mint
1 lime
1 tablespoon ginger/garlic paste
2 green chilies, chopped and seeded (I use Jalapenos.)
2 eggs
2 potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped (If you don’t have potatoes or are too lazy to boil them as I usually am, use 2 slices of bread. This is just to help them stick together better.)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 palm-full salt

(I also usually add Shaan Seekh Kabab masala and Shaan chaat masala, but if you don’t have that, no sweat.)

What to do:
Mix together meats, onion, cilantro, mint, ginger/garlic paste, green chilies, eggs, potatoes/bread, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Squeeze juice of lime into mixture. Thoroughly mix all ingredients together. (If you’re squeamish, use a wooden spoon. I personally like to get dirty and use my hands. I think it tastes better that way.)

In the meantime, heat up a large pan over medium heat on the stove. Spray with Pam or a light layer of vegetable oil.

Use your hands to make two-inch sized balls with the meat mixture.

Throw kebabs into the heated pan. Heat evenly on all sides until cooked through—about ten minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

P.S. You might notice that the quality of the pictures has drastically improved. It's not me ... it's all the hubby.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spicy Broc That'll Knock Off Your Sox

I really don’t know why broccoli gets such a bad rap. True it can make you gassy if you eat too much of it raw, but I personally am a huge fan of the broc. The only way I can get my hubby to eat veggies is if they’re cooked, apparently fresh salads don’t exist in India. (I can actually personally attest to that because everyone is scared that veggies have been washed in contaminated water, you really don’t get fresh veggies too often there, only cooked.) So, I’ve been developing (i.e. finding recipes) ingenious ways to cook veggies every night. My latest and greatest find is broccoli rabe; it’s just so much better than normal broccoli. Here’s my fave way to prepare it:

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Red Chili Flakes

What you need:
4 bunches of broccoli rabe
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 garlic cloves, sliced
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

What to do:
Wash and prepare the broc by cutting down the bottom part of the stem and any stray leaves.

Blanche the broc by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Have another large pot of ice water nearby (aka an ice bath). Once the water has come to a boil, drop in the broc and let boil until it becomes tender and bright green—about 5 minutes. Using tongs, pull it from the boiling water, dry it on a paper towel, and immediately throw it in the ice bath. (You might have to do this in a few batches.) After it's fully cooled, let the water dry out by placing it on a stack of paper towels.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium flame. Add the garlic and heat for 1–2 minutes until it starts getting brown and crispy. Add the blanched broc and toss it frequently. Add a pinch or two (depending on how spicy you like it, I personally am a two-pinch kinda gal). Season with salt and pepper. (I’ve been using a lot of kosher salt lately. Here’s a good article on its benefits.)

This dish is a great side to almost anything. It pairs beautifully with Indian or non-Indian dishes. Delish!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Krazy for Keema

My hubs and I have about five go-to dishes that we make every week. The are healthy, relatively simple, and usually Indian. Keema, spicy ground meat, is at the top of our list. It’s deeelicious comfort food—kinda the Indo version of Sloppy Joe’s I’d imagine …

What you need:

1 pound ground meat (We used 96% lean beef this week but you can use turkey, chicken, or beef.)
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 large onions, diced
1 bunch of cilantro
2 potatoes, peeled and diced (These are optional if you are on the low-carb train … this week we were not! I am dying to try keema with sweet potatoes but hubs isn’t interested. Lame.)
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
3 green chilies, remove seeds, chop finely
Fennel (This is also optional
Shaan Keema Masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

What to do:

Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. One the oil is hot (test by throwing in a piece of onion and see if it sizzles) throw in onions and let the sauté until the turn brown—about ten minutes. Add in tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, meat, fennel, masala, turmeric, potatoes, and 1/2 of the cilantro. Add a few tablespoons of water, stir and let simmer over medium heat for 15–20 minutes, until the meat is tender. Add green chilies and garnish with remaining cilantro and squeeze of lemon.  Note: The keema masala is already heavily salted so it isn’t always necessary to add extra salt.

There are tons of variations on keema. You can throw in peas, carrots, even barbeque sauce. This recipe is classic and it’s our favorite!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Braised Beef Ribs, Also Known As, Butta in Yo Mouth

We had a birthday gathering for my mom at our apartment last Sunday. The dish du jour was braised beef short ribs we adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, our newest and most favorite book. While it did take all day to cook, I think the results were worth it.

What you need:

Red Wine Reduction

1 bottle dry red wine (We used $4 Merlot from Whole Foods.)

1 cup 1/2 inch diced yellow onion

1 cup 1/2 inch thick slices peed carrots

1 cup 1/2 inch thick slices white and light green parts leeks

1 cup thinly sliced shallots
(We skipped the shallots and put in some more onion, just to save some moola.)
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms

3 thyme sprigs

6 flat leaf parsley sprigs

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 large garlic cloves, smashed, with skin

2-1/2 pounds boneless chuck short rib

Salt and pepper


Canola oil

1 cup 1/2 inch diced yellow onion

2/3 cup 1/2 inch thick slices peeled carrots

1 1/2 cups 1/2 inch thick slices white and light green parts leeks
2 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on

3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
5 cups beef stock

What to do:

1. Combine all the ingredients for the red wine reduction in a large, deep oven-proof pot that will hold the meat comfortably. Bring to a simmer over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain the simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until the wine has reduced to a glaze.

2. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, coat in flour, patting off any excess. Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it shimmers. Add the meat, fat side down, reduce the heat and brown the mean for 3 minutes. Turn the meat and brown the other side. Transfer meat to a tray.

3. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

4. Add the onion, leeks, garlic, thyme and bay leaves to the wine reduction and toss. Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 4 inches larger than the diameter of the pot. Place it over the vegetables and put the meat on the cheesecloth and fold over the edges to form a “nest.” Add the stock, it should come to just the top of the meat.

5. Cut a parchment paper lid and place it over the meat.

6. Put the pot in the oven and reduce the heat to 325˚F. Braise the beef for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender.

7. Transfer the meat to a heatproof container. Strain the braising liquid and pour over the meat. You can keep the meat in the refrigerated in the liquid for up to three days.


Monday, September 27, 2010

I Love You, My Sweet Potato

Happy yummy Monday!

We had a delicious weekend of birthdays, bridal showers, and lots of good eats. After Anita's crazy birthday party on Saturday night (which ended with me eating a burrito the size of my head), I woke up Sunday morning craving greasy carbs. I was feeling guilty about the whole head-sized burrito incident so opted for a home-cooked, slightly healthier option to my favorite morning-after treat: french fries. Instead of high-tailing it to Mickey D's, I made some oven-baked sweet potato fries. Yum. Check out this DivineCaroline article on how much better these spuds are then the traditional ones.

What you need:

4 sweet potatoes
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper (aka Red Chili Powder)

Image courtesy of The Food Advocate.

What do do:

Slice potatoes into fry-sized bits. Throw them into a ziplock bag containing 2 tablespoons of the following: olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Add another tablespoon of red chili powder and shake it up.

Bake them in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool for ten minutes and devour. 

I made my own dipping sauce of two parts ketchup, one part mayo. Maybe not as healthy as I intended, but so delicious to eat as I watched the season premier of The Office. A perfect lazy Sunday.

Next time I am going to spice my sweet potato fries up and try this recipe from my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen.

Stay turned tomorrow for some of the good stuff we made for my Mama's b'day party including ... braised beef ribs. Heaven.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simply Breakfast

My breakfast today of steel cut oats and fresh nectarines was too lovely not to share. I just finished eating it, and it was as delicious as it was beautiful.

I'm looking forward to a weekend of deliciousness including dinner tonight at my favorite Indian spot in the city, Dosa, my BF Anita's birthday party, the San Francisco Greek Festival, and my Mom's birthday dinner at our place ... we're making braised short ribs ... stay tuned.

Today's post was inspired by one of my favorites, Simply Breakfast. Yum.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bhindi the Beautiful, Two Ways

After brussels sprouts my next favorite veggie is probably okra, aka bhindi. While the customary way to eat it in this country is breaded and fried (which I am FAR from opposed to!) in the motha-land they do it a bit differently. I cook bindi at least once a week; it's uber healthy and the perfect side dish for a night of spicy curry (or any Indian dish for that matter).

Bhindi One Way
My mama invented this recipe. It's quick, easy, and the bhindi un-failingly comes out perfect.

What you need:

1 pound of okra
1 packet of Chaat Masala (I use Shaan Chaat.)
Lemon (Or as we say it, Limboo.)
Pam (Don't use oil to ensure the bhindi's come out crispy, not greasy.)

What you do:

Heat a medium skillet and spray heavily with Pam. Once the pan is hot, throw in chopped okra and stir-fry over medium-low heat for about ten minutes until the bindi start to crispen on the edges. Shake in about four tablespoons of chaat masala, taste and add more or less to your liking. (I'm not much of a measurer, more of a taster-and-adder.) Don't add any additional salt as the chaat masala is already heavily salted. Spray with fresh lemon juice and serve hot.

Bhindi Two Ways
This recipe is adapted from my favorite Indian/Parsi cookbook, My Bombay Kitchen, written by one of our dearest family friends, Niloufer Ichaporia King. Her book is the Bible of our kitchen.

What you need:

1 onion
1 pound okra
A few green chilies
Half a bunch of cilantro
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (This is the staple of Indian cooking. The store bought one sucks in my opinion. Here's a recipe I found online.)
Oil (Note that vegetable oil is best for Indian cooking. I use olive sometimes because it's healthier, but for maximum taste go for the veggie oil.)

What you do:

Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Throw in chopped onion and let brown. Add in ginger garlic paste and stir together for about two minutes. Drop in salt, okra, and green chilies. Stir-fry for ten minutes until the okra is soft. Garnish with fresh cilantro. 

Have a bhindi-ful day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quinoa Is Our Homie

Just a little sneak peek of my Moroccan Squash quinoa creation last Thursday night. It was spicy, hearty, and full of Indian flavors and spices. It was my first time making this delicious grain and I think it will definitely make it on our menu more often. The best part of cooking with quinoa was that it it so incredibly filling; we were stuffed for hours after dinner. I used this recipe from epicurious and I was sure hubby would hate it as he's more of a bacon and cheese kinda guy. Surprisingly, he loved it and said, "Quinoa is my homie." So cute.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fig Tarts Are a Work of Art

Our lovely, lazy Sunday brunch party last weekend was a total success. It actually ended up turning into a all-day-nearly-dinnertime snack-a-thon as guests stayed until 7 p.m. (the last one, my sis, stayed until after 10!). Here's what I learned from our love-filled afternoon:

1. There is nothing better than spending all day lounding on the floor with people you love.
2. Hubby and I love, love, LOVE to cook and the only thing we love more than that is sharing what we cooked with our buddies.
3. Thomas Keller is a genius. (More on that later ... but if you are looking to buy a beautiful cookbook check out Ad Hoc at Home, I made his savory bread pudding and it was To.Die.For.)
4. Rooftop decks are awesome.
5. I love San Francisco.

Phew! Who knew eating and cooking butter-encrusted foods and drinking cocktails could be such a learning experience! Here was our menu:
  • Herb Scrambled Eggs
  • Savory Herb and Leek Bread Pudding a la Thomas Keller
  • Nimon Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Fig Tart (See below for recipe.)
  • Fresh Berries
  • D.I.Y Waffle Bar with Nutella (How can you have a party without Nutella, obvi!)
  • Croissants 
  • Tater Tots 
  • Aperol-Orange Mimosas (See below for recipe.)
  • Blue Bottle Coffee

The Aperol-Orange Mimosas 
This recipe was inspired by Italy and created by my hubs.

What you need:

Orange Juice
Freshly-sliced oranges

What you do:

Mix at least one hour ahead of time in a carafe, a 1:1 ratio of OJ and Aperol. Drop in orange slices and chill.

Serve with a 1:1 ratio of OJ Aperol and Prosecco.

Drink sparingly!

The Fig Tart

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw on Chez Pim and by my obsessive love-fest with figs. I took a secret easy way out and modified the recipe but it was still a total hit.

What you need:

Figs, Chopped in quarters
Puff Pastry Crust (I used the frozen one from Trader Joe's ... I know, I know, Padma would so be asking me to pack my knives ...)
Two Eggs
(Optional ingredient: Goat or Feta Cheese)

What to do:

Whisk together two eggs in a small bowl. Brush over de-frosted puff pastry with pastry brush. 
Randomly place chopped figs on egg-covered pastry dough.
Dust with sugar.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Slice into squares and serve.

Here's a sneak peek of our lovely new apartment pre-party. What do you think of the hint of the orange wall peeking out of the corner?!

Tonight I'm cooking Moroccan-inspired Quinoa and Squash stew ... wish me luck! 

Challo! (Meaning until next time in Hindi.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brunch and Hash on My Mind

We are having a brunch party tomorrow and I am so excited. My two additions to the menu are a savory bread pudding from the Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc book and a fresh fig tart. I'll definitely let you guys know how it all turned out ... wish me luck!

Right now I am stuck inside on a gorgeous sunny day because we are having some walls painted in our house. Bummer! Also, after eating thai food and then late night pizza last night I'm currently munching on apples and ginger/lemon/mint-infused water. Yum.
What I really wish I was eating was this:

This is a picture of the best breakfast I've ever eaten as far as my memory can serve. It was taken at a random biker hangout/brunch spot near Flagstaff, Arizona on our cross-country road trip. I adore hash. My best friend Meghan's mom used to make it for us for breakfast as kids and it's my favorite indulgent b-fast treat. Here's an recipe I found on Epicurious that I solemnly swear to try asap. Delish.

What you need:

  • 1 lb baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1-lb piece cooked corned beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • What to do:
    Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until just tender, about 3 minutes, then drain. Pulse corned beef in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

    Sauté onion and bell pepper in butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add cream and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

    If desired, make 4 holes in hash and break 1 egg into each. Cook over moderately low heat, covered, 5 minutes, or until eggs are cooked to desired doneness, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle hash with parsley.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Fave Healthy (and Spicy) Dinner: Chana Masala

I had an impromptu dinner party last night with my sissy, my dearest friend Natasha, and my cousin Anita. (Anita is my fourth cousin, I really just call her my cousin because I love her so much, and one of my best friends and she happens to live in our building. How AWESOME is that?!) Anyways, I didn’t have much time to plan ahead so instead of ordering take-out, I made my favorite go-to dish: chana masala.

Chana masala is basically spicy garbanzo beans. They are delicious, healthy, and super easy to make.

Here’s what you need:

2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 large onion
2 tomatoes
1 head cilantro
1 packet Chana Chaat masala (You can find this at any Indian store or even buy it online. You can even use regular chaat masala with some red chili powder too.)

Here’s what you do:

Dice the onion, tomato, and half the head of cilantro.

Sauté the onions on medium-low heat until they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add in the chopped tomato and cilantro. Mix these together over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Add in the cans of garbanzo beans. Sprinkle in half the packet of Chana Chaat and let simmer. Add salt to taste. Garnish with the rest of the fresh cilantro when you are ready to serve.

I often double this recipe and make a big pot of chana masala and refrigerate to eat throughout the week. It’s delicious, nutritious, and my favorite go-to snack.

P.S. The best part of getting married is all the fun kitchen equipment you get. My number one favorite addition is this purple Le Creuset pot … amazing!