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!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spice Attack!

I've been craving spicy lately and wanted to do something quick. I managed to get a hold of some habenero peppers (rather than habeñero which is a hyperforeigñism). I like the model of the shakshouka recipe from a bit back and decided to do more or less the same as that, but switching some nice sea scallops for the eggs and using a whole bunch of habeneros.

Serve with some toast and prepare to sweat!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cauliflower Rice + Spicy Creamy

OK, so I don't really feel much inspiration for the writing part of this, but I am cooking and taking pictures of what I eat. I've found this whole thing valuable since it keeps me cooking regularly (rather than eating out for dinner or buying my lunch each day) and I practice cooking - hopefully getting better in the process. It also means I should cook something at least slightly different each time. So here is what I made yesterday and today, light on the how-to but hopefully interesting.

Cauliflower Rice
I had a hankering for some cauliflower and (not sure why) rice with yogurt in it. I fried up the cauliflower in a bit of ghee to get things started:

I cooked the cauliflower a bit longer by adding a mixture of yogurt, dried and shredded coconut, hot pepper, garlic, turmeric, cilantro and salt that I had thrown in the blender to get it smooth. Once the yogurt mixture had reduced, I removed it and set aside.

Next I started the rice by adding some spices (cumin + mustard seed and curry leaves) to ghee and then frying the rice a bit in this spice-ghee mix. Instead of water for cooking the rice, I used the remaining whey from my leftover paneer making the other day. Once this came to a boil, I reduced the heat, tossed in the cauliflower, and cooked on low until the rice was done:

Spicy Creamy
That was yesterday. I wanted a little sauce to accompany the rice and I wanted something very spicy. I decided to do a potato and spinach coconut milk curry. I started off sautéing some ginger, onions, garlic along with potato cubes. When the potato was about halfway there I tossed in a bit of paprika, cumin, and a whole bunch of hot pepper:

I quickly joined the hot pepper with 1 tomato, chopped and cooked about 2 minutes more. A good bunch of spinach was added to the mix here, and cooked with the cover on the pot for about 2 minutes. Finally I added 1 can of coconut milk and brought the whole thing to a simmer. I topped it off with a bit of garam masala. In the end it was only a little spicy since the coconut presumably neutralizes the heat a bit here. Still quite good!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Paneer Soup!

Getting back into the cooking grove here.... I decided to go for something a bit light this evening and made some spicy paneer soup. This ended up being some late night bacon since I bought all the ingredients for the soup at the grocery store, and then went to the Indian market for the paneer, but they were out! No worries, fresh is better even if it means I eat at midnight.

To start, I made paneer from 1 gallon of whole milk. After the liquid sufficiently drained from the cheese, I spread it out on paper towels to dry further. Then I dusted with flour to further dry things up before frying ghee along with 2 tsp of cumin seed, several curry leaves, and a few cloves of garlic.

Once the paneer got some nice browning, I tossed in about 6 chopped jalapeños peppers and cooked down a bit further, along with 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp chile powder. See:

From here it is almost done. I had 1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes which I put in a large bowl and squeezed up with my hands. I added this to the pot along with a good bit of salt. Letting it heat up and cook down for about 4 minutes (give or take several minutes) while I chopped up some cilantro for later. Once it seemed reasonable, I added about two and half cups of whey leftover from the cheese making. This is more satisfying than adding water or broth. Mmmmm. Once things got altogether in the pot, I check the salt, add the cilantro and enjoy! It actually makes me think of an Indian version of shakshouka with paneer replacing the eggs. I just need some help eating all this food...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Aloo Baingan + Green Peas Pulao

Finally back in my kitchen after a lengthy stay in Egypt and then DC. After a month away I was craving some indian food and home cooking. I got started right away with some aloo baingan (potatoes + eggplant) and green peas pulao.

Green Peas Pulao

1-2 handfuls of raw cashews
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 Tbs minced ginger
5 small hot peppers
1 cup rice
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup frozen peas

Sauté the cashews in a few tablespoons of ghee, then add the cumin and mustard seeds. Fry until the mustard seeds start to turn slightly grey and then add the ginger and hot pepper. Fry for a few minutes more and add the rice. Oh, but wait! The rice should be rinsed first! Fill a bowl with cold water and the rice, swishing the rice around a bit with your hand. This will cause the water to turn cloudy - a bit like dishwater! Drain the cloudy water out and repeat this process a few times until the water stays more or less clear following the rinse.

OK, now fry the rice for a few minutes allowing the grains to become coated by the ghee and spices. Add the turmeric and garam masala and mix in. Add slightly less than 2 cups of water (~ 1 3/4) and allow to come to a boil. Once things are good and boiling, add the peas and reduce to low heat. Cook covered until all the water is absorbed and the rice is nice and tender! Add a bit of salt to taste at the end.

Aloo Baingan

To accompany this fine pulao I decided to make some aloo baingan. This follows a similar route as you might expect:

2 tsp cumin seed
1 chunk of ginger, minced
several hot peppers (I used some jalapeños today)
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chile powder
3 medium/small potatoes
3 small eggplants
2 medium tomatoes

Fry the seeds in a few tablespoons of ghee, followed by the ginger and hot pepper. Add the powdered spices and after a few seconds, the potatoes. Add some salt here to keep the potatoes company. Fry the potatoes for 2-3 minutes on high heat. Add the cubed eggplant and cook covered on low heat until the eggplant becomes nice and is just starting to get a bit mushy (maybe 10 minutes). At this point toss in the chopped tomatoes, check the salt level, and cook a few more minutes until the tomatoes soften up.

Both of these could do well on their own. I put them together and topped it will some plain yogurt with salt and tomatoes (tomato raita)! Mmmm mmmm!