Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Those are Spicy Coconuts

For some reason when I was thinking of what to cook tonight the combination of dried coconut, cashews, and raisins came to mind. I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to add to this, but wanted something vegetarian at least. To counter my more recent carnivorous leanings. In the end I went with potatoes, corn, and a whole bunch of hot pepper.

I started by dry roasting the coconut until it started to turn light brown. I am not sure why I did this. I must have read it somewhere, seemed like a good idea. I set it aside before moving on to the rest of the job.

Then I added some ghee to the pot along with a few handfuls of raw cashew, a few cardamom pods, and some dried curry leaves (dried ones are what they were selling today, so that is what I bought). Once the cashews started to brown I added a good handful chopped hot pepper. Two notes: don't actually use your hands on the chopped hot pepper, you might regret it later. Also maybe you want to use only one or two hot peppers. That is also fine. A short while later, two chopped tomatoes joined the pot followed by a few shakes of salt. Here is what that looks like after the tomatoes decided to melt down a bit and with a bit of turmeric and coriander powder tossed in:

Finally I added three small potatoes cut into cube-like shapes, a bit more salt, some water, the toasted coconut, and a handful of raisins. Bringing the whole thing to a boil, I added some frozen corn that I defrosted while you were reading the part just above. Once the potatoes finally yielded to only a slight nudge from my fork I declared things to be ready. To get to this point I had to add a bit of water along the way, but never too much as I wanted the final product to be a bit more dry. I ate mine with some paratha and a 400 pound monkey.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


It is always nice to bake a cake for someone's birthday. What about when you bake a cake a week before their birthday just to test if it will be good? The only cake I've ever really done before was the three milks cake that I posted here a while back. At the same time I was thinking about birthday cakes I had huge batch of local strawberries that came with my CSA. This reminded me of the Ingmar Bergman film Wild Strawberries where I remembered a scene where they are eating wild strawberries with some fresh milk. That sounds great! Wikipedia tells me that the Swedish title of the film is Smultronstället which literally means "the wild strawberry patch", but can also be taken to mean a "underrated gem of a place (often with personal or sentimental value)." That sounds great too! And really if strawberries and milk sounds good, just imagine strawberries and three milks!

I pretty much followed the exact process given in the old posting, but would reduce a bit more the amount of sweetened condensed milk. This cake is already pretty sweet to begin with and the strawberries only add more.

Wash and halve the strawberries (these were small local ones, if your strawberries have been taking steroids, you may want to cut them smaller!). Then incorporate them into the cake batter and put in the over for 20-30 min at 350 F.

While the cake was taking its time in the oven, I made the frosting. This also could be a bit less sweet. I beat 2 egg whites with a little less than half a cup of honey in a double boiler.

Which after a few minutes magically looks like this:

Don't forget to take the cake out of the oven! Or else it may look a bit darker than this:

Poke holes throughout the cake and then pour the milks on top!

Add some more strawberries? Sure, why not?

And the frosting!

Then go jogging for maybe half an hour before eating so that you don't feel bad about eating this. The actual birthday cake cooking will happen soon, also with strawberries, but maybe in a different form, with fewer milks, and more relaxed jogging requirements.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


My CSA is now in summer mode so I am getting deliveries every week. It seems they've had a pretty wet spring with the wettest April and May on record which caused flooding on some farms in the area. Today was the second delivery of the summer share that I am signed up for.

Included in the CSA were a bunch of garlic scapes. These are the green part of garlic that grows above the ground, they are only in season for a short bit of time, and are a bit like scallions but for garlic! They have a nice garlic flavor, but slightly more mild.

I decided to make some shrimp sautéed with garlic and dried hot pepper along with some chopped scapes.

Prepare several cloves of garlic and some chopped scapes:

Sauté some garlic and dried hot pepper in olive oil:

Add the shrimp and the chopped scapes:

Toss in some cooked spaghetti and serve:

I made a small salad to go along with it using the greens from the CSA topped with some sautéed scapes. So easy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Taco Taco

I made these tacos on two different days a while back but hadn't got around to posting it here.

Fish Tacos Made Easy
I wanted to do some quick fish tacos and decided to go with some pan fried cod along with poblano pepper, corn, guacamole, and some of the salsa from the last posting.

I started by roasting some poblano peppers over the open flame on the stove:

Once they were nice and blacked I tossed them in a sealed glass container to let them sweat a bit before peeling the skin off and chopping them up.

Then I chopped up some tomato, jalapeño, and some corn to add to the poblano peppers.

After pan frying the cod, I tossed in the rest of the ingredients and cooked for a few minutes.

I heated two corn tortillas in a pan and then prepared the taco!

Sausage Taco!

After the first round of tacos I still had some tortillas left, so more tacos!

I also had more corn and wanted more poblano. So I combined corn, tomato, hot pepper, with some sausage that I initially pan fried. The tortillas were prepared with goat cheese and then layered with the roasted poblano and the remaining ingredients. Look!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hey, let's meat up. I've got salsa!

I am not sure if it is the warmer temperatures here in Boston, but my kitchen has taken a decidedly less vegetarian-friendly turn. My cooking career has not involved much cooking of meat , so it is interesting to experiment with something relatively new. This past week I made two dishes featuring beef.

Ginger, Garlic, Habanero, Sesame Beef
Being relatively inexperienced in the land of the cow, I forgot to note what cut of beef I used, but I think it was a sirloin.

I used a grill pan to cook the meat (which I had very lightly salted) until medium-rare. While it was cooking I made a ginger-garlic-habanero-sesame-soy sauce accompaniment. I served it up with a japanese sweet potato that I had cooked in the toaster oven and some baby bok choy that i sautéed along with some of the ginger, garlic, and habanero.

So easy!

Salad of Beef, Arugula, Portobello, Tomato, and Feta Cheese
Again, not quite sure what cut this was, but it looked nice. And at least the cows got to eat grass, grow at a normal rate, and fight disease using nothing but good old fashioned natural remedies (chicken noodle soup?).

The beef was salted and tossed into the grill pan which had already been heating up a bit.

Meanwhile the other ingredients assembled themselves...

When the beef seemed mostly done, I took it out and tossed in the mushrooms and tomatoes.

The mushrooms cook in their own juices, though I added a few drops of olive oil to the pan to keep things smooth. Once the mushrooms were nice and tender, I decided to cook the meat a little longer since it was still perhaps undercooked (I am still figuring out how to get the right amount of heat to the meat).

The mushrooms get sliced:

Add everything added together with the arugula, some garlic, salt, feta cheese, and a bit of olive oil.


Salsa v 1.0
As a final thought here, I thought it might be interesting to try making some different kinds of salsa this summer. Tonight I made some by first chopping 1 clove of garlic, 1 habanero, a bunch of cilantro:

And roasting some tomatoes under the broiler:

The roasting allows you to easily peel off the skin, and then mash in a bowl with the other ingredients including a bit of lime juice and salt. Voila mon passeport!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Food de Fa Fa: Chicago Edition

Food de Fa Fa was born in Chicago, but it has been quite some time since we did a Chicago Edition. Several friends came over and I had the most help ever in cutting up the veggies, cleaning, and pouring my beer. Food de Fa Fa is so much better with friends!

I was perhaps a bit over-ambitious and decided to prepare five dishes: 1) a salad with tomato, onion, mango, garlic, lime, hot pepper, and cilantro (unless you think cilantro tastes like soap, then no cilantro for you!). 2) chole (a chic pea curry), 3) a rice dish with cashew, peas, and raisins, 4) aloo gobi (potato+cauliflower), 5) green bean paneer in a tomato cashew curry sauce, and Fortunately there were lots of hands and some extra snacks for while everyone was waiting!

Tomato Mango Salad
I had this at a Tibetan restaurant in Cambridge recently and wanted to recreate it. It is pretty straight forward. Just cut up some cherry tomatoes, cube some mangos, mince some garlic, chop some hot pepper, thinly slice some red onion, squeeze some lime, bludgeon some cilantro, throw it all in a bowl with some salt and eat!

The chole is the most straight forward of these dishes. It just combines some cumin seeds with garlic, ginger, onion, and hot pepper during the frying stage. Then cooking down of a healthy amount of tomato which then all gets smoothly blended in the food processor after adding some turmeric, cumin and coriander powder (and salt!). Toss in a few cans of chic peas, top with some garam masala, and you are done!

Cooking down the tomatoes (cashews soaking in hot water are hanging out in the background for a different dish):

Into the processor!

Et voila!

Rice with cashew, peas, and raisins
For this I just fried up the cashews and some cumin seeds, then added garlic, ginger, hot pepper. After adding a bit of turmeric, I added the rice and fried for a minute. Then I added the cooking liquid (in this case the leftover whey from making paneer), then the raisins, and the defrosted frozen peas. I was a bit distracted, so didn't photograph every step. Here though, are the raisins:


Aloo Gobi
This dish has been featured here before. The one thing I did differently was getting help cutting the potatoes and the cauliflower! I think it improved the taste rather dramatically!

Noooo photo!

Green Bean Paneer Cashew Curry

This was a new one for me that I thought of while at the store standing in front of a giant mound of green beans. Making the paneer was the first step in all of this since it needed a bit of time to firm up:

After having soaked the cashews a bit, they were tossed into the processor to make a smooth paste. This was added to more or less the same tomato-based curry as was used for the chole. While the sauce was getting ready, the paneer was rapidly fried after being cut into bite-sized cubes. Ideally I think I would have been steaming the green beans much earlier, but did for only a little bit at this point and then added them to the sauce along with the paneer. This meant we had to cook things down for quite a while until the beans where nice and tender.

After much patience, now we get to eat!

Eat more!

Yes please!

Thanks all for a super fun weekend!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Malai Kofta Mother's Day Observance

My mom is in Boston visiting me for the week and celebrating mother's day. Since the weather in Boston is stuck in April (April showers bring May... showers?). I figured today would be a good day to prepare a feast. Since I would have the support of my sous-chef (Sue-chef if you like) I decided to make something a bit more labor intensive: malai kofta.

Kofta is the name generally given to fried balls of stuff - often meat. The kofta I am familiar with from Indian cooking are usually vegetarian. I am not actually sure what makes these ones malai koftas. I think it is the cheese, but maybe they are not even actually malai kofta since the definition I found on wikipedia for malai is clotted cream.

Well whatever they are called, here is how I made them:

1) Make some fresh paneer from 1 gallon of milk:

2) Boil 2 large potatoes then mash:

3) Mash in the paneer and then add 1 small minced onion, several chopped hot peppers, some chopped cashew, raisins, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (made by toasting a slice of bread and then dropping in the blender), chopped cilantro, salt, and garam masala. Also add a few tablespoons of corn flower or some other binding agent:

4) Form the mixture into your preferred shape:

5) Fry in vegetable oil:

6) Until golden brown:

Holy cow I made a lot of 'em!

At this point we took a short break from all the cooking. Once rested we continued on to the gravy!

7) Fry cumin and black mustard seed in a tablespoon of ghee.

8) Add in some onion, garlic, ginger, and hot pepper and cook til the onions are soft.

9) Add in some turmeric, corriander, and cumin powder and fry a minute or two.

10) Toss in about 4 medium-sized tomatoes along with some salt and cook covered until the tomatoes reduce down.

11) While the tomatoes are cooking, place a few handfuls of raw cashews that you've had soaking in hot water for the last few minutes (hope you read ahead!) into the blender and make some cashew paste.

12) Add the cashew paste along with some liquid (like water or if you have it, the whey left over from paneer making) and cook for a few minutes until everything in the pot looks good.

13) Slowly add the sauce to the blender in a few batches and blend until smooth.

14) Transfer back to the pot and cook for a minute or so more adding liquid if needed.

While all this was going on, I also made some rice that included cashew, raisins, peas, and a host of spices:

We also made a quick dish of chic peas and dandelion greens! That one was not too exciting, so I forgot to take a picture...

When all was said and done (4 hours later!) we served it up together even though we were not too hunger since we were snacking on it all the way through.

Happy Mother's Day!