Monthly Archives: April 2012

Potato and Chickpea Curry

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Potato and Chickpea Curry

This little vegetarian dish is tasty and filling.  I love it as a main dish to eat with pooris, naans or just plain white rice and a nice crisp salad.  I had a few leftover baked potatoes and it worked great in this dish since you have to pre-cook the potatoes.  The potatoes are the base but you can feel free to add anything else to it.  I added a can of chickpeas and one lonely zucchini I had sitting in my fridge.  You can add green peas, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, whatever you happen to have handy in your crisper drawer….

The ingredients at a glance

Mix coriander, ginger, turmeric, paprika and chili with the yogurt

Yogurt and spice mixture

Saute onions, salt and cumin seeds together, after cumin seeds pop then add garlic and stir fry

Add besan (chickpea flour) to the onion mixture before adding the yogurt mixture (keeps yogurt mixture from separating)

Add potatoes, chickpeas and zucchini and mix well

Add water and cilantro, cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes

Serve with flat breads or rice

Here’s the recipe:

Potato and Chickpea Curry

4 potatoes, cooked and cubed into bite sized pieces

14 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

1 small zucchini (or some other veggie)

1/2 onion, chopped

1 green chili, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp corinander powder

1/2 cup yogurt

1 tsp salt (or adjusted to taste)

4 tbsp oil

2 tsp chickpea flour or besan (or all-purpose flour)

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 1/2 cups of water

In a small bowl mix yogurt with turmeric, paprika, coriander, ginger and chili. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan.  Add onion, cumin seeds and salt.  When cumin seeds are crackling add the garlic and stir fry a few seconds.  Add the chick pea flour and stir for a few minutes.  (This will help the yogurt from separating out.  If you don’t have chickpea flour you can use regular flour) Add the yogurt and spice mixture.  Keep stirring until the mixture thickens a little (about 2 minutes).  Add the potatoes, garbanzo beans and zucchini and mix well.  Add one cup of water and the cilantro.  Cover and simmer for about 6-8 minutes. Uncover and check for seasoning, if additional salt or water is needed then add it now and let it simmer another minute or so.  Serve with any flat bread or white rice.

Paneer Kofta Curry

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Paneer Kofta Curry

I enjoy kofta curries because I think they are fun. I just made a chicken kofta curry not too long ago and last night decided to throw together a paneer version.  I’m leaving for an out-of-town speaking engagement so I wanted to use up whatever I thought would not last the next four days or so (which included some leftover paneer).  I found one sweet potato in the bottom drawer and some cilantro and chilies that needed to be used up ASAP.  I also didn’t take as many ingredient pictures because I was kind of cooking as I was going along.  I wasn’t sure how the sweet potato would taste in the dish but ended up liking the sweetness balanced with the other spices.  Let me know what you think!

The potato to paneer ratio should be about 1:1, I kind of liked the sweet potato and regular potato mixture, give it a sweet and spicy kick

Add in all the other ingredient

Make into little balls slightly bigger than a quarter (yields about 19-20)

Coat the koftas in a flour batter

Fry until golden brown and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil

Saute the onions and tomatoes along with bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks together until fragrant

Add in all the other spices

Add tomato paste and then some water

Add in yogurt or coconut milk (whichever you prefer along with additional water) and let sauce simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add in koftas, cook an additional 2-3 minutes before sprinkling with fresh cilantro

Great served with rice or naan

Paneer Kofta Curry

Kofta balls:

1 sweet potato

1 regular potato

1 cup of paneer

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 inch of ginger, grated

1/2 cumin powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 green chili, chopped

3 green onions (white and green parts together), chopped

Paneer Kofta coating

1/4 cup flour

6 tbsp water

Oil for frying

Curry

3 tbsp oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 bay leaf

4-5 whole cloves

4-5 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 cups water (approximately)

1/2 cup yogurt OR lite coconut milk (whichever you have on hand)

Salt to taste

some fresh chopped cilantro for the end

Pierce the skin of the potatoes with a fork and microwave for about 5 minutes until they are tender.  Take off the skin and mash together.  I avoid boiling the potatoes since I want a dry mixture and don’t want to introduce any more moisture.  The yielded potatoes should be about 1 cup.  Mix potatoes, paneer and all the other ingredients for the koftas together and form into small balls a little bigger than the size of a quarter.  They will expand a little in the sauce so you don’t want them too big and mushy.  Make a thin batter out of flour and water (about the consistency of crepe batter).  Coat each kofta in the batter and fry them quickly in some oil.  I used a small pan and a higher heat.  I was trying to give the koftas a coating to keep them from falling apart since they don’t have the resiliency of meatballs.  Set the koftas on a paper towel lined pan to absorb excess oil.

In a medium sauce pan heat oil and begin sauteing onion and tomatoes together.  Add in bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and crushed cardamom pods.  Stir fry until fragrant.  Add in turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili and stir fry for a few minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Add in 1/2 cup of water and the tomato paste stir until everything is incorporated.  Stir in yogurt  and another cup of water or if you’re using coconut milk instead, add that in.  Let the sauce cook for 3-4 minutes until all the flavors are well incorporated, check for salt and adjust accordingly.  Drop in the kofta balls and gently stir.  Cover and let it cook about 2 minutes. Koftas will grow in size as they soak in some of the sauce.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with rice or naan.

Hazelnut and Nutella Sandwich Cookies

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Hazelnut and Nutella Sandwich Cookies

There are some things in life that make great pairs.  They should just go together.  Like cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly and hazelnuts and chocolate.  Whoever came up with the deliciousness that is Nutella (it’s the same company that makes Ferraro Rocher!!) should get a culinary medal!  I could eat that stuff by the spoonfuls…and at certain times of the month, I have been known to do just that.  Not too long ago I tweaked another recipe and made chocolate dipped hazelnut tea cookies but I began thinking how delicious it would be to have hazelnut and nutella sandwich cookies.  An Oreo to call my own!!  The cookies had to be rolled so they were not too thick and have plenty of hazelnut flavor and have the wonderful nutella center.  I found a Pillsbury recipe that I could modify and here’s what I came up with…

Cream butter and sugar then add eggs and vanilla

Incorporate the hazelnuts into the cookie dough by hand

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes before rolling out

Cut out dough (I used a 2" circle cutter) and bake for 9 minutes at 350 degrees

Spread Nutella on the back of cooled cookies and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich

Heat up 1/2 cup or so of Nutella in the microwave and pour into a small ziplock bag (it's really useful to put the bag in a mason jar first)

Cut the tip off the corner of the bag to create a mini piping bag

Drizzle over each sandwich cookie

Hazelnut and Nutella Sandwich Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

3 cups flour

½ tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup hazelnuts, finely ground and toasted

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.  Using a food processor finely chop the hazelnuts and toast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes until fragrant and light brown in color.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar then add vanilla and eggs until nice and smooth.  Slowly add in baking powder and flour mixture until well incorporated.  Stir in hazelnuts by hand and wrap the dough in plastic wrap to refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.

Take out chilled dough and roll out to about 1/4″ or slightly thinner.  Cut out circles using a 2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter.  Bake for about 9 minutes and cool on a cooling rack.

Spread a generous amount (about 1 1/2 to 2 tsp) Nutella on the back of the cookie and place another cookie on top making a little sandwich.  When all the cookies are paired up ~ yields about 30.  Take about 1/2 cup of nutella and microwave for 25 seconds and place in a small ziplock bag.  Cut a corner of the ziplock bag off to create a tip and drizzle warm nutella over each cookie in whatever pattern you choose.  Cool in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and serve.  You can store the cookies in an airtight container, make sure to separate layers with wax or  parchment paper.

Passing the love along!

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I was honored and humbled a little while ago to be nominated for the Versatile blogger award by a wonderful blogger from Hungary at While He Was Out.  Her no-knead artisan bread truly changed my life!  I was contemplating the rules and that I have to choose 15 other bloggers to pass the award on to….  I wanted to take a little time to think it through when I was nominated again by a wonderful Indonesian blogger Mama Miyuki Easy Pantsy and another great blogger, Dave at Kitchen Convivial.  I am truly honored to be thought highly enough by these amazing bloggers (each with their own unique style) to be nominated.  Thank you!  So, I shall pass the love along, some of these blogs will probably have multiple nominations for the same award, but here’s what I think about that….it’s my job to pick my favorites and nominate.  It doesn’t matter how many times someone has been nominated or received the award.  It just means it’s a great blog….and I have good taste!

Here are the rules of this award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Here are the 7 things about myself:

1.  I have huge portions of the dialogue from The Princess Bride memorized.  I love to just whip out quotes from it at random.

2.  I have worked with refugees and refugee resettlement for many years and love all the new things I learn every day.

3.  I am brown

4.  I’ve been married for nearly 26 years…oh yeah to the same guy.

5.  I often try time saving tips with disastrous results(i.e. the time I tried to iron a shirt..I was wearing it at the time, or hot gluing a Halloween costume while one of my children was still in them)

6.  Some of my best kitchen tools have come from home improvements stores like the Home Depot (blow torch, bricks, rotisserie, grill mesh….)

7.   I think it’s a great idea to laugh everyday…usually at myself.

Now for passing on the love in no particular order:

1.  Evelyn at 100 days of Evelyn – I love the premise of her blog…a life list of things in all areas of her life that she’d like to complete.  An awesome goal and she’s crossed a lot off already.  Love her food too! I’m inspired.

2. Nadia at Nadia’s nutrition diary – because she is a rocking young dietitian, entrepreneur and philanthropher  who passes along great, timely nutritional information.

3. Ishita at Ishita unblogged – A wonderful site full of gorgeous photography, travel insights, stories and of course food.  Plus, she is a fellow bengali speaker!

4. Come Due Mailai/like two pigs – A great read– not just the food section but the great travel and other stories as well.

5.  Meg at The Life and Times of Choconutmeg – she just makes me laugh and she loves chocolate…Nuff said.

6. Amy at Afternoon Popcorn Snack – She makes me want to buy some property in Oaklahoma and a rocking chair and hang out.  Love it.

7. Daily Dose of Fresh – wonderful blogger from South Africa who gardens, cooks and takes gorgeous photography.  I spent a lot of time looking through her blog because she sucked me in.

8. Claire at Food ReFashionista – I admire someone who has taken what could be some serious lemons in her life and made lemonade.  She’s trying to live a gluten free, lactose intolerant life….on a diet.

9.  Cool Cook Style – Because the girl can cook, she’s funnay (not a typo) and finishing up graduate school.  Whenever I find myself cooking things from another blog, I know it’s a keeper!

10. Guro at Chocolates and Raspberries – I have a thing for shoes and this is a blog full of awesome shoes, clothes, style.  It’s like crack for shoe addicts.

11. In search of perfect – gorgeous pictures of all her travels.  I’ve been to quite a few of the same places and it’s delightful to see it through another set of eyes.

12. 400 days ’til 40 – A great idea.  Wish I’d thought of it myself.  A daily blog about living more, learning more and laughing more until the “big” 40th birthday!

13. Jasmine at Paintbox Kitchen – I just discovered Jasmine’s blog and I enjoy the way she writes and her very artistic pictures.

14. Learn to Bake – I actually went through the metric to old English calculations and made the Easy Brioche recipe from this blog…success!

15. Matthew at Bacon Time - Like the show Seinfeld it’s a blog about.. well, I don’t know exactly but I keep following it and he makes me actually LOL.

My weekend is now complete!

Moussaka – Greek Eggplant Lasagna

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Moussaka – Greek Eggplant Lasagna

I love eggplants.  My husband–hmmm– not so much. My kids will eat anything.  I usually don’t announce the fact that there are eggplants in any menu items and if asked I pretend I have hearing loss..”what did you say?  Oh, why does it taste like eggplant?”  (that’s the evasive maneuver).  We haven’t had eggplants for a while and I was inspired by coolcookstyle‘s amazing eggplant flatbread recipe she came up with for a recent cooking challenge.  I found some wonderful Japanese eggplants and decided to make Moussaka.

One of the matriarchs of the Greek community here in Salt Lake City, Georgia Katsanavas, is a great cook and I have had a copy of her recipe for years have eaten moussaka many times but never actually made the dish myself.  I decided to look through the recipe and see if I had all the ingredients…I did, but I decided to add and change a few things…this is NOT Georgia’s original dish for those who are lovers of her amazing food, but it is definitely based on her recipe.

This is not a weeknight dish because it takes a bit of time.  It’s also kind of rich, so it’s not a monthly recipe either.  That being said, this will definitely be on my list of things to make for special dinners or occasions.  It came out incredible and tasted heavenly.  One of those dishes where you take a bite and close your eyes at the same time and make a MMMMM noise.  Like my friend Ernie would say, “It’s slap yo mama good!”  I had a wonderful Sunday dinner and Grantley got past the fact that there were eggplants in it….it was that good!

Start with some fresh Japanese eggplants

Slice lengthwise and sprinkle with salt...set aside for 15 minutes or so

Begin meat sauce preparation by sauteing onions, bell peppers, garlic and ginger

Add meat to the mixture and cook until no longer pink before adding pureed tomatoes

Add 1/2 cup of wine (I choose marsala) to the meat mixture

Let the wine evaporate out and simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes

The salt on the eggplants will draw out all the water, soak it up with a paper towel before brushing a little olive oil on each piece

Grill about 2 minutes on each side

The eggplants should become tender (including the skin)

Make the Bechamel sauce by adding flour to melted butter, stirring constantly

Add milk, bayleaf, nutmeg and stir until thickened. Take off heat and add the goat cheese and ricotta

Spray a lasagna pan with cooking spray and layer the bottom with half the eggplants and half of the meat sauce

Repeat the layers, ending with meat on top. Cover with the bechamel sauce

Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese and a little nutmeg. Bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees

The cheese creates a delightful crust with the creaminess of the bechamel beneath...mmmm...

It's truly "slap yo mama good!"

Moussaka

4-5 firm Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise

Salt

4 Tbsp olive oil

Meat sauce

2 pounds ground extra lean ground beef (traditionally lamb is used)

1 large onion

1 large red bell pepper

4-5 cloves garlic, grated or minced

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup red or marsala wine

28 ounces of canned diced tomatoes, pureed in a blender

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

handful of fresh flat leafed parsley

fresh oregano, about 1 tbsp chopped

Some honey (optional)

Bechamel Sauce

6 tbsp butter

1/2 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (reserved for sprinkling on top)

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Slice the eggplants length wise and sprinkle each piece with a little salt and let them sit for 15 – 20 minutes.

In the meantime heat a medium-sized sauce pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil and saute onion, bell pepper, garlic and ginger together.  When vegetables are tender add in meat and begin cooking until no longer pink.  Add in cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add in tomato paste and wine and mix to incorporate.  Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes until all the wine has evaporated.  Add in the pureed tomatoes and let it simmer gently to let the flavors marry and some of the liquid evaporate, about 10-15 minutes.  Add in parsley, oregano and a couple of tablespoons of honey (if needed to balance out the acid of the tomatoes) before taking off the heat.

Using a paper towel soak up all the excess water off the eggplants (the salt should have drawn that out).  Brush lightly with about 4 tbsp olive oil and grill on a hot grill (or you can roast them in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes) about 2 minutes on each side or until nice and tender.

Prepare the Bechamel sauce:

In a medium sauce pan heat the butter.  Using a rubber spatula or whisk mix in the flour and keep stirring until it’s a light golden brown color and the flour flavor is gone.  Slowly add in the milk and the bay leaf.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  Add in the ricotta and goat cheese, nutmeg and salt.  Turn off heat and stir until all the cheese is melted and nicely incorporated.  Take out the bay leaf.

Assembly:

Spray with cooking spray a deep 9 x 13 pan.  Layer the bottom with half of the eggplants.  Put half of the meat mixture on top and spread evenly.  Cover the meat mixture with the remaining eggplants and put the rest of the meat mixture on top.  Pour the Bechamel sauce on top of the meat mixture and spread smoothly. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg.  Put completed Moussaka on a cookie sheet to catch any bubble ups and bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated 400° oven.  Serve warm.

Sobudhana Kitchuri – You did what with Tapioca?

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Sobudhana Kitchuri – You did what with Tapioca?

As a dietitian, I get asked about food related things all the time.  Usually at parties or social situations.  “Do you have a special diet to reduce gas?”  “What should I cook for my kids who are allergic to peanuts, dairy, gluten and corn?” My personal favorite, “I don’t like to exercise but do you have a diet for me to lose about 20 pounds?”  Contrary to popular belief, dietitians don’t go around making up “diets” or prescribing magic food pills.  It’s still a good idea to eat things in moderation and to exercise regularly but I guess that advice is just not sexy enough. (I feel a rant coming on….)

In the last several years people have been diagnosed with a lot more food allergies or intolerances.  Gluten (the protein found in wheat, rhy, spelt and bulgar and wheat by-products) allergies are becoming very common as well as various nut allergies and a hyper sensitivity to high fructose corn syrup.  A typical western diet is very high in gluten and processed sugars. There are two simple solutions to these dietary dilemmas:  Learn to eat and actually try a variety of foods and cook something! Whenever we buy pre-packaged foods, we deliver control of our life to someone else and it costs more, not only the food but long-term health related costs. I know sometimes it can’t be avoided but I’m not willing to trade convenience for the sake good taste or health!…..official END of rant here.

Most people who live in the U.S. have never thought of cooking tapioca (which is actually a starch from the Cassava plant) in savory dishes.  It is reserved mostly for puddings or the ubiquitous “frog eye salad” (not really a salad but a Jello concoction).  Tapioca can be eaten in a variety of savory dishes.  Here’s a Sobudhana kitchuri ( Sobudhana means Tapioca and Kitchuri basically means a “hodge podge” or “mixture”) made out of tapioca.  I made a kitchuri out of Quinoa not too long ago and this is very similar. It’s a tasty alternative to rice or pasta and it’s totally gluten free and vegan.  Besides the soaking of the tapioca (just do it overnight) everything comes together in 8 minutes.  I timed it!

Dry tapioca

”Gently

Most of the ingredients (minus the peas and the lemon--oops)

Toast the cashews in a hot dry skillet

Add oil to pan and stir fry cumin seeds, black mustard and dried red chilies

Add carrots and peas

Add garlic and apricots to the mixture and stir fry

Add tapioca to the mix then add the turmeric

Add in cashews, lemon juice and chopped cilantro and take off heat

It's slightly sweet and spicy with a delightful crunch

Here’s the recipe

Sobudhana Kitchuri

1 1/2 cups of tapioca

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup frozen baby peas

6 dried apricots, diced

2 tbsp chopped Cilantro (Coriander leaves)

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

2 dry red chilies

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 carrot, shredded

4 tbsp oil

Gently was the tapioca in COLD water (or you’ll have a hot mess) and put 1/2 cup of cold water in tapioca to soak 6-8 hours.  Do not skimp on the time, this helps the tapioca fluff up but also to dry out so it’s not a gelatinous mess when stir frying.

In a dry hot skillet stir fry the cashews until they are toasted.  Set aside.  In the same skillet add the oil and heat it up.  Add cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and the red chili peppers.  Stir fry until the mustard seeds and cumin seeds start crackling.  Add in the peas and shredded carrot and stir fry a few minutes.  Add in garlic and chopped apricots and stir to incorporate then add in the tapioca.  Stir fry until everything is blended in, then add the turmeric, lemon juice and chopped cilantro leaves.  Mix well and take off heat. Serve warm.