31 January 2009

Veggie Curry - jtw style

This one comes compliments of my colleague jtw, and is a simple and affordable recipe. And to boot, it will feed you for a week - if not providing you with some to freeze. Yum.

I made a pot of this for last week, as well as some chicken tikka masala. I had some flatbread and naan on hand, and some mango ginger chutney in the fridge. Put together for an easy, delicious indian feast. :)

jtw's Veggie Curry
Jar of garam masala (curry paste comes in diff heat levels. i usually use hot, but keep medium on hand, just in case i need to bring it back a few heat notches.)
olive oil or canola oil
head of cauliflower, cut into florets
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 medium onion, rough chopped
3 or 4 potatoes
chicken stock (or veggie, doesn't matter ... i've even used water before)
three handfuls of green beans
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets
can of garbanzo beans (* optional, but i add for protein)

Muddle a heaping amount of the curry paste / garam masala with a good amount of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy, deep pot until the oil renders. You're going to be frying the cauliflower in this, so make sure there's enough muddled paste with oil to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom or burning. Remember, you're building the dish from this, so it will seem fiery hot at the cauliflower stage ... but it will mellow a bit.

Add the cauliflower and fry in the paste / oil until soft.

Add the smashed garlic and the onion. Cook until the onion is limp.

Remove from heat, and chop in the potatoes until halfway up the pot. I use a deep deep pasta pot, so this takes a while :) also feeds an army ... Cover with water / chicken stock / can use bouillon until 1/2 inch above the veggies.

Continue to stir and cook down until the potatoes are fork tender and it turns into mush. Don't be afraid to even mash a few large pieces of veggies ... it's OK and frankly, kind of the point of the dish.

Meanwhile, stir fry the green beans and broccoli in a separate pan. Once the curry starts to take on a mush consistency (attractive, I know ... but this is absolutely delicious), add the broccoli and green beans. You can also blanch the beans and broccoli - whatever you prefer.

Add the can of garbanzo beans, stir and serve. Your house will have a wonderful spicy aroma ... one I really enjoy.

28 January 2009

Beating the blues - Black and Blue Cobbler

There's something about warm baked goods and vanilla ice cream that takes the chill out and puts a smile on my face. It does wonders to curb a funk, end a bad mood and has a relaxing quality all its own.

I had a craving for sweets, and only a few things in the fridge / freezer. In order to now have to go outside into the snow / sleet / rain mix, I whipped this up ... yum.

Black and Blue Cobbler

roughly 3 cups of blueberries
about 1 - 1 1/2 cups blackberries
1 Tb lemon juice
6 Tb melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 Tb vanilla extract
sugar for sprinkling
pinch of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray down a pan (I used my paella pan ... hey now, love improvising) and pour the berries into the pan. Sprinkle the lemon juice and vanilla over the berries.

In a separate container, combine the beaten egg with the flour and raw cane sugar. It should make a loose, grainy kind of clumpy dough - but still very dry. Take it into your hands and squeeze little clumps to put over the berries.

Sprinkle leftover flour + sugar mixture over the berries, some should be poking through. Drizzle the melted butter over the top, and then sprinkle over the top a spoonful of the raw cane sugar. Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy :)

Bacon ... it's what's for dinner.

I love bacon and miscellaneous pork products as much as the next girl, but this is a bit much. Someone please pass the Lipitor and schedule me for a triple bypass.

Spotted on nytimes.com, recipe from BBQ addicts ... the Bacon Explosion.

Hell ... cutting and pasting will not do this justice. BBQ Addicts details this step by step. Check it out.

Fighting off the cold ... part II - a take on a pasta fagiole soup

I traditionally do the majority of my cooking on Sundays ... it's therapeutic, gets me set for the week, and makes good meals on weeknights feasible, since it's all there.

Well, this past Sunday ... I broke routine. Leaving me with other things to cook up this week, things I'd been planning on noshing on this week, without the effort. It happens.

So when it came to lunch today, with the dreaded "wintry mix" falling outside (snow, rain, a mix of both, wind, ice -- all the nasty stuff), I reached for the shell pasta in my cupboard and just started putting things into a pot on the stove. What I ended up with was a hearty pasta fagiole-esque soup that took minimal effort and cleared out some ingredients in my fridge. This is somewhat unconventional, but hell - it's delicious.

First, drop some medium shell pasta (or something similar, I like the shells for this but feel free to play) into a pot of salted boiling water. Once those are cooked, drain all but a cup or two of liquid off (just slightly less than covering the pasta). Wilt some spinach into the pot, add a can of stewed tomatoes with liquid, a partially drained can of kidney beans, a spoonful of pesto for flavoring, and about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce if you have some on hand.

I often add pesto to pasta I'm cooking, even if I'm dressing it with sauce or something else. It lends a delicious saltiness to the pasta that I just crave for some reason. I added the tomato sauce here a) because I had it handy and b) because it helped thicken the sauce, outside of the starchy cooking liquid and the liquid from the beans.

Seasoning wise, I added some fresh cracked garlic salt, ground pepper, a bit of chili powder, some chicken bouillon powder since I didnt't have stock on hand, and then a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Stir, season as needed, and serve. Absolutely delicious, and take about 15-20 minutes.

Fighting off the cold ... part I -- risotto

It has been one helluva winter here in Boston, the coldest I remember since the dry, brainfreeze of a freezing winter in January 2004, and more snow than I've seen consecutively than January 2005 when the city shut down.

To beat the cold, I've been trying to hit the gym more to counter some comfort food recipes that help fight the cold and assist in me destressing.

I gave this creamy parmesan risotto a whirl last weekend, being a huge risotto fan but oddly enough, never making it myself. I had some leeks in my fridge from the public market, so I subbed out I medium onion for 1.5 leeks that I cut in half then sliced super thin. It made for a beautiful, heaping pot of risotto (could have fed easily 6 people from this). I served it with some dressed spinach with a quick grapefruit dressing. Oh, and of course a glass of the sauvignon blanc I cooked with :)

Creamy Parmesan Risotto

3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 leeks, or 1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm over low heat. In a separate medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it is well coated with the butter and starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer gently until all the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle 1/2 cup of the warm broth into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed.

Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes total. Add the remaining butter and the salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with more salt to taste. Serve immediately, topping with additional Parmesan.

Voila! Enjoy :)

21 January 2009

A snowy sunday brunch

Over MLK weekend, my best friend Sabrina from my childhood joined me in Boston for a girls weekend. I hadn't seen her since I was in her wedding this past April, so we planned for the ultimate relaxation weekend, full of wine, silly movies, and good food.

As part of this, we co-hosted a Sunday brunch here in my Back Bay apartment, inviting over some of my closest friends here for good food and an array of brunch related cocktails. The menu included some of my favorite items, some part of my family's Christmas day tradition.

On the docket was my family's sausage and ham strata, Sabrina's monkey bread, fresh fruit, cranberry mimosas and my Great Grandpa Max's whiskey sours. Recipes follow. We amply fed 10 with the following portions, with some to spare. These recipes are simple, can be made ahead, and make for very happy brunch guests. Just ask my friends :)

Breakfast Strata
-- serves 12
(you can put anything in this strata, which is basically a take on a breakfast souffle. we always opt for half sausage / half ham, but I have made this vegetarian or made a dinner dish by substituting in hot italian sausage and peppers. have fun.)
10 eggs
13 pieces of bread
3 cups of milk
1/3 cup half and half / heavy cream (can eyeball it)
1 lb velveeta cheese, cubed
1 lb breakfast sausage (if you buy the ones with their casings still on, you'll need to remove them)
1/2 lb ham steak, already cooked, cubed.
salt + pepper

- Cook up the sausage and put on a paper towel to drain.
- Spray a casserole dish with a non-stick coating.
- Rip up about 9 slices of the bread, mix in a casserole dish with meat and cheese.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and half and half.
- Pour the egg mixture over the bread, cheese and meat in the pan.
- Crack some fresh pepper and a small bit of salt over the dish (more liberally on the pepper, since the meat itself is very salty.)
- Tear up the remaining 4 slices of bread and toss over the dish.
- Cover with foil and let sit in the fridge for 12-24 hours before cooking.
- Cook uncovered in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half, or until a knife comes out clean. It should be lightly browned on the outside and gooey. Delicious.

Sab's Monkey Bread -- Serves 12
3 cans of pillsbury flaky rolls
3 cups of sugar
6 TBSP cinnamon
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 container of whipped vanilla frosting
bundt pan

To make:
Grease bundt pan liberally. Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Open cans of rolls, and divide each roll into 4 pieces (I just cut them into an x). Roll each into a ball, and roll in the sugar/cinnamon mix, and place into the bundt pan. Continue until bundt pan is 3/4 full. In a small sauce pan, melt stick of butter and brown sugar together, and then pour the mixture over the rolls in the bundt pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. It'll puff up like this:

Let cool for about 10 minutes before flipping onto a dish. Add the frosting into the center of the bread and serve.

And as for the whisky sours, Great Grandpa Max style, they may need their own post ;)

07 January 2009

Big Kitchen cooking show - with 5-year-old Julian

From BoingBoing ...

Julian Kreusser is an adorable foodie five-year-old with his own cooking show, "The Big Kitchen With Food" on Portland cable access TV. He cooks others' recipes and his own ("Yummy Yummy Citrus Boy") and he's absolutely fabulous. BrooklynTwang sez, "his story is full of win - there is the coolness of a 5 year old boy who loves cooking, the refreshingness of a cooking show with an awkward host, and what appears to be some very cool free range parenting, encouraging the kids enthusiasm for something and letting him use food processors, stoves, etc. to follow his muse. I just watched an episode and it was rad. It even included a plug from Julian to buy your food locally because its better for you!"


This kid's incredible and absolutely adorable. Foodie WIN. ;)