Bread Therapy: Milk Bread

Category : baking and desserts · No Comments · by May 31st, 2011
Bread Therapy: Milk Bread

Baking bread is one of the most supremely calming experiences. It’s like yoga in your kitchen. I love the quiet…

Chicken Corn Soup

Category : soups · No Comments · by May 30th, 2011
Chicken Corn Soup

This Chinese soup is very popular in Pakistan. It’s simple and homey, the perfect thing to whip up on a…

Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)

Category : baking and desserts · No Comments · by May 28th, 2011
Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)

Halwa is a general term for desserts in the Middle East through South Asia. There are many types; some are…

My Masala Dabba

Category : etc · No Comments · by May 27th, 2011
My Masala Dabba

I’m in love with my masala dabba, my shiny, stainless steel spice box. I’ve been storing my most-used ground spices…

Chicken Piccata

Category : main dish · No Comments · by May 23rd, 2011
Chicken Piccata

Ah, a classic. The fact that it’s quick and easy, not to mention pretty much made with pantry staples, only adds to it’s charm. As in web design (my daytime identity), so often simple equals elegant.

Green Beans with Dijon Vinaigrette

Category : salads, veggies and sides · No Comments · by May 23rd, 2011

It’s springtime, and I’m definitey in the mood for fresh green veggies. These green beans are cooked al dente and dressed with a lovely tangy vinaigrette. It’s Monday night; I made this as lazily as humanly possible and you can barely call this a salad, but you can call it beautiful in it’s simplicity.

Green Beans with Dijon Vinaigrette

1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
salt & pepper
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine shallot with vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Let sit and pickle for at least 20 minutes. Add dijon mustard and olive oil, mix well.

Meanwhile, blanche green beans in salted boiling water. Drain and cool to room temp on a tea towel. Toss with vinaigrette and serve.

Take this up a couple notches by adding red potatoes and cherry tomatoes – fit for a dinner party!

Red Raspberry Leaf Lemonade

Category : drinks · (1) Comment · by May 22nd, 2011

This recipe is going to start off very sad.

Two weeks ago we found out I am miscarrying. Everything started off normally but then the baby just never began to develop. It feels like such a cruel joke because for two months we had all the excitement and the planning, not to mention all the symptoms (positive pregnancy test, exhaustion, morning sickness) but none of the baby. This has been one of the most heartbreaking events of my life. I feel so stupid to have joyfully and confidently announced my pregnancy so early – and why not, my first one was so breezy and easy – and now having to confess when people ask me how I’m doing that I’m not doing well at all. It’s awkward and sad.

I’ve been through all the stages of grief: hemorrhaging, IKEA shopping, mix taping, cooking away my pain (as you can see by the flurry of posts lately) and finally….acceptance.

Though difficult, this is teaching me a lot. Some things are put in perspective. I am blessed to have such supportive family and friends, my sweet husband who held me while I cried and cried, and most of all my beautiful daughter who I realize is a miracle. She came out so perfect when everything so easily could have gone wrong. I’m also learning how much is out of our hands. Nature is neither kind nor cruel, it just is. And not everything happens for a reason. Some things happen for no reason at all.

I am the kind of person that feels so much better when I can take action rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself (although I’ve done quite a bit of that too). Even though there’s not much I can do at this point, I can try to be healthy for when we decide to try again. I’ve been doing lots of reading, and found that red raspberry leaf is supposed to be very good for the womb, so I’m planning on drinking a good bit in the meantime. I ordered some online from Bulk Herb Store, and I’ve been drinking it hot with a little honey. Today though, since life gave me such a lemon, I decided to make lemonade.

Red Raspberry Leaf Lemonade

2 cups water (plus more to fill up pitcher)
2 tbsp red raspberry leaves
1/4 cup honey
2 lemons

In a small pot bring water and raspberry leaves to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in honey, and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of 1 1/2 lemons. Strain into a pitcher and fill the rest of it with cold water and the remaining half lemon (sliced). Serve over ice.

Note: through my Googling, I’ve read that red raspberry leaf is good for the reproductive system but that it causes contractions so you may not want to drink it right before you are trying to conceive or during the first trimester. Some studies say it’s safe, but personally, and especially after this experience, I would err on the side of caution. Check with your doctor or midwife.

Oh and remember this? I love Tori Amos, she suffered several miscarriages and this is about that. It’s really good if you listen to it like 10 or 20 times in a row, just my recommendation.

Posole with Kale

Category : soups · No Comments · by May 20th, 2011

I was introduced to posole, a Mexican soup made with hominy, years ago by my then roommate Denise. She had been previously married to a Mexican, and so knew how to cook all kinds of yummy things. Our posole adventure was a full day ordeal, ending in a feast for lots of people. We roasted a pork shoulder which we later broke up into the soup, and used two giant 24 ounce cans of posole. We cooked in a tamalero – an enormous pot, which most people use for steaming tamales but crazy ladies use for making copious amounts of soup. The pot spanned two eyes of the stove and needed to be washed in the bathtub.

I still make posole from time to time, in amounts meant for a family instead of the Mexican army. Posole is a fun and festive soup because you can serve the basic soup with lots of garnishes and everyone can dress theirs up as they like. The only constants needed are the hominy, onions, broth, and oregano – and the rest is up to your imagination. I love adding greens to soups (they look so pretty besides being really good for you), so this time I added kale. The result was a hearty and nourishing bowl.

Posole with Kale

olive oil
1 onion, sliced
salt/pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chicken breast, cut crossways then into thin strips
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 4 ounce can green chillis
1 12 ounce can white hominy
8-10 cups broth (and more water as needed)
juice of half a lime
1 bunch kale, washed, trimmed, stalks cut out then cut into strips
garnishes: sliced lime, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, tostadas, crumbled queso fresco, etc etc etc

Heat olive oil over medium high heat, then add onion, salt and pepper. Cook until onion begins to turn translucent, then add garlic, chicken, oregano, paprika and cumin. Cook for a few minutes until chicken is cooked, then add chillis, hominy, and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Squeeze in lime juice, and add kale, simmering for a couple more minutes. Serve with garnishes.

Masala Chai

Category : drinks · No Comments · by May 9th, 2011

It seems to bother some people when Americans say “chai tea.” Chai means tea! It’s redundant! Well whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Here’s how you can make your very own.

Ideally you can steep the ground spices in the tea as it’s boiling, but my husband prefers his tea plain (boring!) so I just let mine steep a few minutes in my steaming cup.

Masala Chai

Use about 1/2 tsp of the spice mixture per cup of tea – save the rest for a rainy day!

10 green cardamoms
3 cloves
3 black peppercorns
1” stick cinnamon
generous pinch fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 teabags black tea
4 cups water
1 cup milk

Toast the cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and fennel in a dry skillet until they smell divine. Grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle (you will need to break the cinnamon stick up; if it’s too strong to snap, hacking at it with a knife works fine). Remove to a little bowl and stir in the ground ginger.

Bring water, teabags, and 1-2 tsp of the spice mixture to a boil. Add milk and steep. Serve hot with sugar or honey.

There are no rules, you can play around with the spices as you like, or just boil the tea with whole spices and strain them out. Enjoy!

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Category : curries, main dish · No Comments · by May 4th, 2011

Our friend Karan used to make the most delicious Butter Chicken. We haven’t eaten it since he moved away, so, missing it, I decided to try my hand at it. I was really happy with how this turned out, especially the flavorful and delicate gravy.

The one thing I would do differently is to try to grind up the cashews a little finer, to a paste. I’ve been planning to get a mortar and pestle and that would probably do the trick. The other thing is, in this and in most of my curries I usually go pretty light on the cayenne and/or chillis so that Zoeya can enjoy it too and I just let Shan spice it up later. If you aren’t cooking for kids (or wimps), you can go a little heavier on the spice.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the crazy ingredient list, most of them are spices.

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

1 lb boneless chicken thighs
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp cayenne (more to taste)
salt, pepper
2 tbsp yogurt
olive oil
3 cloves
3 black peppercorns
1 inch stick cinnamon
2 green cardamoms, cracked
1 and 1/2 sliced white onions
3-4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 inch ginger, grated or finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
2-3 cups water
1 lb roma tomatoes diced
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
small handful cashews
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cream or half and half
Cilantro to garnish

Cut the chicken thighs into 1 inch chunks, and marinate for about an hour in the lime juice, salt, pepper, cayenne and yogurt.

Heat a little olive oil on high, brown the chicken and remove to a plate. Add a little oil if necessary, scraping up anything left by the chicken, lower heat to medium, and add whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamoms). Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, before adding your onions. Sprinkle onions with salt and stir occasionally until they are turning golden. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute, add powdered spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric) and cook for a minute.

Add water and deglaze, then add tomatoes, bay leaves and fenugreek leaves. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then uncover and cook to reduce liquid by about a third.

In a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind cashews to a paste. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves from the sauce and transfer to food processor (be careful, it’s hot!) Puree and return to pot along with chicken. Stir butter and cream into the sauce. Serve with basmati rice, garnished with cilantro.

Notes where I stray from the authentic: where most Indian food is cooked in vegetable oil I usually prefer light olive oil; it doesn’t alter the flavor and it’s a little healthier. Also, most Indian recipes will have you cook your onions and then your meat, but sometimes I cook the meat first, remove to a plate, then add it back later to finish in the sauce, especially if I’m planning on pureeing the sauce. Also, I salt my onions to sweat them where most Indian recipes do not. Do as you will!