Category Archives: Sauces

Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

There’s nothing like a refreshing and hearty dip on a hot summer day.  I’m always looking for fun new ways of making salsas and dips that are not heavy and creamy.  The Caribbean side of my family love eating Pigeon Peas.  In fact it’s a staple of most Caribbean rice dishes.  Pigeon peas are hard to find fresh here and I have to go to specialty stores to get the canned version.  The closest cousin I have found to the Pigeon Pea is the Blackeyed Pea.  I love the texture and mild flavor of Blackeyed Peas.  The skin is not thick and it has an almost creamy mouth feel.  Perfect for a salsa. I used canned Blackeyed Peas and canned Corn in this salsa.  You can definitely use roasted fresh corn and pressure cook some Blackeyed peas.  Since this was one of many items I was cooking yesterday, I decided to just go with the canned.  It turned out great and saved me some time.  With the fresh ingredients, you don’t really notice that the peas and corn are canned. The heat from the chilies are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the Mangoes. Paired with fresh home-made BIG tortilla chips as a scoop, this salsa is “da bomb”!

Mix the dressing ingredients together (LOVE the Pomegranate vinegar)

Pour dressing over the dip ingredients and mix well before chilling in the fridge

Make large homemade tortilla chips

The extra large “scoops” are fantastic with this salsa

Blackeyed Pea and Corn Salsa

2 cans (14 oz) of Blackeyed Peas (rinsed and drained)

1 can (14 oz) sweet corn (rinsed and drained)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1-2 Thai chilis, take the seeds out if you want it less spicy

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced

15 or so green spanish olives, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 mangoes, diced

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

zest and juice of one lime

1/2 cup pomegranate vinegar

fresh cracked pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp sugar or honey

In a large bowl place the washed and rinsed canned Blackeyed peas and corn.  Add all fresh chopped ingredients and toss lightly.  Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dip and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.  Great with large home made tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

12 inch uncooked (or cooked) flour tortilla chips

Oil for  frying

Cut the tortillas into fourths and fry in oil until golden brown, drain over paper towels.  Can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight container or zip lock bags before serving.

Mushroom and Garlic “Smothered” Pork Chops with Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Mushroom and Garlic “Smothered” Pork Chops with Garlic Smashed Potatoes

We’ve just gotten back from an anniversary trip.  We went away to Vegas for a couple of days to celebrate.  On Thursday night we were at B B King’s Blues Club for dinner and some great live music.  Right in front of us in a table for two was a couple, who I’m guessing is still dating.  She was a very tall and shall I say, a robust woman.  About 6 foot tall and weighing in at over 200 pounds and he was a slim man about 5 foot 9 inches tall.  Throughout their evening, she kept patting and smoothing his back, running her fingers through his hair, whispering to him and when their food came, she promptly pulled a box of birthday candles out of her giant purse along with a lighter and stuck it in the middle of his Shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich and lit it. As soon as he blew it out and she got a picture on her iPhone, she reach out and hugged him to her bosom, smashing his face in.  We watched the man flap his arms a few times and then they hung limply to the side.  I don’t know if he ran out of air, passed out or surrendered.  After 26 years of marriage, Grantley and I have mastered the silent conversation.  I looked at him and he looked at me and we had an entire conversation which resulted in some snorting on my part as I tried not to laugh out loud.  Ahhhh, Smothering…not a good idea for any relationship but fantastic when it comes to food!  Consider the “smothered” burrito (yum!), “smothered” cheesecake (double yum), and now the “smothered” pork chop!  So good!  It’s surprisingly easy to make and hits the spot after the end of a long day.  We’re having  this for dinner along with garlic smashed potatoes, spring salad with radicchio and feta and grilled pineapples.  It makes any night feel like a party with birthday candle and all!

Dredge pork chops in flour and brown in olive oil

In the same pan saute mushrooms and onions

Add spices and flour to the mushroom mixture

Add chicken stock to the mixture and let it simmer for 5 minutes

Add milk to the sauce and cook an additional minute

Add pork chops back into the pan. Cover and cook for 40-45 minutes until tender

Boil potatoes with garlic cloves for the smashed potatoes

Add yogurt, salt and pepper to cooked potatoes and garlic and smash together

Add flat leafed parsley at the very end before serving

Mushroom and Garlic Smothered Pork Chop

6 boneless loin pork chops

1/2 onion

1 1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

4 cloves garlic

fresh cracked pepper

1/2 tsp Cheyenne pepper

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 bunch fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped

1/2 cup milk

1 can low sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

6 medium potatoes, peeled

3 – 5 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup greek yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp chopped chives

To make the potatoes:

Peel potatoes and cut into chunks.  Place potatoes, garlic cloves and 2 tsp salt in a large pot and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer until tender.  Drain the potatoes.  Add yogurt, salt and pepper, milk and smash with potato smasher.  Add in chives.

To make the Pork Chops:

Wash and dry pork chops.  Season each side of the pork chop with a little salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Dredge each chop in flour and sear in the hot skillet until golden brown on each side.  Set aside.  In the same pan, add chopped onions and mushrooms and cook until tender.  Add in spices, garlic, ginger and stir fry until fragrant.  Add a couple of tablespoons of the flour leftover from dredging the chops into the mushroom mixture and cook for about a minute.  Add in the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick.  Add milk and cook an additional minute.  Add the chops back into the gravy and cover.  Simmer on low heat covered for about 40-45 minutes.  Add chopped parsley right before serving.  Serve warm with garlic smashed potatoes.

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken and henna tattoos

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken and henna tattoos

We had a little party last night.  It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids.  For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up.  How does that happen, you wonder?  Well, people bring people.  They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends.  The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance.  It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20.  I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests.  Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”.  They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds.  There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering.  They celebrate EVERYTHING.  Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party.  They never miss a chance to live in community.  I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken.  Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything.  So, I decided to come up with my own concoction.  You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!

Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos).  There’s always room for a few extra people…

Flat leafed parsley, garlic, ginger, onion and brown sugar

Add toasted sesame seeds, a dash of chilli flakes, soy sauce, honey and mix

Marinate the chicken thighs in the refrigerator overnight

Grill at a medium temperature

They are sooo good!

Mehndi is an ancient art form using crushed up leaves from the henna tree. It is non-toxic and leaves a stain behind for 2-3 weeks.

My little effort on my friend Abbie’s shoulder

I always have a hard time doing designs on myself, never turns out good

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken

10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed

1 1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped

1 whole garlic

2 inch piece of fresh ginger

1 small onion

dash of chilli flakes

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat.  Wash and set aside.  Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion  together.  In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well.  Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container.  Marinate overnight in refrigerator.  Grill over medium heat and serve!

Muttar Paneer and Tony Horton

Muttar Paneer and Tony Horton

I’m well into the second week of P90X.  I am beginning to walk like the hunchback (or is it hump back?  I have a hunched hump) of Notre Dame when nobody is watching, dang that Tony Horton.  I try to straighten up and look buff whenever I think I’ll encounter other people.  I’m still laughing, joking and talking but it covers over some serious muscle pain.  I don’t remember being THIS sore the last cycle of P90X.  My daughter reminded me that was a few months ago and now I am OLDER.  Thanks, Onjoli.  My sister Rita is also doing P90X.  We live hundreds of miles apart but found time to laugh on the phone together over how hard it was to even blow dry our hair after doing a bunch of pull-ups.  I need something to look forward to at mealtimes while I get over the first few weeks of muscle pain (and misery).  I want comfort food (or my mom to cook for me)! Comfort food that won’t destroy all the hard work of working out.   Muttar Paneer  has all the flavors of a richer meat dish, like a Rogan Josh curry (that’s an awesome beef or lamb curry) but is pretty low in  fat while being high in protein.  Since I make my own paneer using 2% milk, it’s a lower fat version than the ones available through my cheese monger or  at the Indian grocer.  The spices used are very similar to what is used in making a lamb curry, making the flavor profile much richer.

I know when you look at the long list of spices, it can seem daunting but there is another piece of good news.  you can make the tomato and cashew based sauce ahead of time or in a bigger batch and freeze them in portioned freezer bags. When you’re ready to cook, you can take out a bag of sauce and add the garam masala and either lamb, beef or in this case the green peas and paneer to complete the rest of the currying process.  I have done that in the past, I just didn’t have any sauce in my freezer this time!

I have used whole spices in my Garam Masala again.  I beg you to use whole spices whenever you can, the taste is so much better, I promise.  I hope you try this out.  You’ll really enjoy the mini explosion of flavors in every bite and keep eating it and eating it….Oh, BTW, it goes great with Chappatis.

Saute cashews first in a little oil

Add onions, turmeric, garlic, ginger and salt and saute for 2-3 minutes

Add tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes

Blend the cooked tomato mixture in a food processor until smooth – you can make a big batch of this and freeze it if you like for future use.

Saute whole garam masala and cumin seeds in 2 tbsp oil until the cumin seeds are popping and everything is fragrant

Add tomato puree to the garam masala and simmer for about 10 minutes

Add green chilis, methi and green peas and cook another 5 minutes over low heat

Add cilantro, paneer and milk (or cream) and cook another 3 minutes before serving

Muttar Paneer with coconut rice

Muttar Paneer

4 tbsp oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen green peas

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

5-6 raw cashews

5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 fresh green chilies

2 tsp Kasuri Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)

handful of cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup milk with 1/2 tsp flour mixed in or you can use 1/4 cup heavy cream

Whole Garam Masala: 

5 green cardamom pods

1 stick cinnamon

2 bay leaves

5 whole cloves

salt to taste

Heat 2 tbsp oil and saute cashews, add in onion, salt, turmeric ginger and garlic and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Blend this mixture in a blender or processor until smooth.   (Note: if you wanted to make extra sauce for future use, you could easily make a double or quadruple batch and freeze them in portioned freezer bags).  In the same pan used earlier, add the remaining oil and the whole garam masala spices and cumin seeds and stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and simmer covered on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until all the flavors are well blended.  You can adjust with a little water.  Into the sauce add the peas, green chilies and the dried fenugreek leaves (fresh would be great if you can get it, not as pungent) cook for about 2 minutes until peas are tender then add the paneer, milk and flour mixture or cream and cilantro.  Heat all the way through, should take another 2 minutes or so and serve hot with plain brown basmati rice or chappatis.

Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

Ghee or clarified butter is a big part of South Asian cuisine.  It has such amazing flavor that a little goes a long way.  I’ve tried making ghee at home but it never seems to taste or smell like the amazing stuff we get back home (meaning the “homeland” of course).  In Bangladesh, there is a famous brand called “Baghabari Ghee” with a picture of a Royal Bengal Tiger on the label.  It’s famous flavor is renowned .  Every time I went home for a visit I would try to sneak a few jars of the stuff back with me.  I even tried to bribe my relatives who were going home to get me some ghee.  They would look at me in disbelief.  Really of all the things I could request someone bring back on a long journey and it’s ghee?  That’s a foodie for you.  I’m well-known for trying to schlep food in luggage.  One time I had curried Hilsa fish in my carry-on luggage (this was before the TSA liquid restrictions) and it exploded all over everything.  The WHOLE plane smelled like Bengali Hilsa Fish.  I tried to look innocent and blend, which is hard to do on a flight from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho because I was the only brown person on the plane.  Flight attendants were walking back and forth sniffing the air and saying things like, “do you smell that?” or  “what is that smell?”

For years, my attempts at making ghee seemed a waste of time since I couldn’t tell the difference between the ghee or just regular butter.  Why bother if the flavor is not improved?  The whole idea behind a good ghee is to remove the milk protein from the butter leaving behind a nutty unclouded liquid.  My problem was that I was not heating it long enough at a low enough temperature.  The trick here is to use a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron dutch oven or something similar and heat the butter for 20-30 minutes and to add curry leaves halfway through the process.  It’s also important NOT to stir the melted butter but to let it simmer unaided.  This helps to separate the milk proteins properly.  The curry leaves add a depth of flavor that I was missing all these years.  I have to say that this ghee smells and tastes even better than the famous “Baghabari Ghee”.  That’s one less thing that I have to hide in my luggage.

Melt butter over low heat

Heat for about 15 minutes before adding curry leaves to the melted butter

Heat another 15 minutes or so and when the liquid is clear with proteins separated in the bottom of the pan, take out the curry leaves

Strain out the proteins

The strained liquid should look clear with a nutty brown color

Ghee

How to make Ghee

1 pound unsalted butter

4-5 curry leaves

In a heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and let it simmer over very low heat.  Do not stir but keep an eye on the butter, when small brown chunks begin to appear on the bottom of the pan and the top part of the butter looks pretty clear (about 10-15 minutes) add curry leaves and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  When the top layer of butter looks light brown and very clear, take out the curry leaves and strain ghee through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar.  Don’t throw away the brown protein bits.  Save them  to make Ghee Laddoos, a sweet treat made with the leftover protein (we don’t like to throw anything away).

Add chickpea and all-purpose flour along with sugar to the milk proteins leftover from making ghee

Ghee Laddoos

Ghee Laddoo

1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

In the same pan the ghee was made,  heat the browned leftover milk protein with 1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan) and 1/4 cup of All-Purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat  until everything is a nutty brown color and the sugar has incorporated well.  Roll into small balls and enjoy.

It’s Chicken Satay time!

It’s Chicken Satay time!

I am doing a shout out to my former student “Nate”. He mentioned several times in class how much he loves to grill and I promised him some Indonesian/Thai inspired food…. so here it is Nate!! Not only are these Chicken Satays very quick and easy to do, they are high in flavor and low in fat.  Perfect accompaniment for our summer workouts.  (I should mention that we’re almost done with our first week of P90x and Insanity and I’ve lost 1 1/2 pounds so far….13 1/2 to go!).

I should mention that I always prefer to use chicken thighs over chicken breast because they have a lot more flavor and they are a lot cheaper too.  You can buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs or you can easily de-bone the chicken thighs at home.  All you need is a sharp knife and the ability to cut along the edges of the bone and you’re done!!

The secret to this dish of course is the sauce.  I love how this sauce turns out.  I could eat it by the spoonful but then I’d have to work out some more.  Please do use the Sweet Soy Sauce instead of the regular soy sauce.  If you must use regular soy sauce then choose the low sodium kind and use only 1/8 cup otherwise your sauce will be very salty.  This is great as an appetizer or a main dish served with Coconut Fried Rice and a fresh crunchy salad.  We also ate other veggies dipped in the sauce along with our chicken!

Place all the ingredients for the sauce directly into the pan and heat over medium heat

Divide the sauce, one for dipping and the other for basting!

Place chicken skewers on grill and cook for 6-8 minutes turning over once.

Baste during the grilling process with the sauce

Serve with the reserved sauce

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce

Chicken Satay

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or you can grind up some peanuts) – I like chunky

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sweet soy sauce

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 garlic cloves, minced

scallion, diced (for garnish)

In a saucepan place all ingredients except chicken and scallion.  Cook over medium heat until sauce is bubbly.  Take off heat and cool sauce.  Divide sauce into two parts.

Cut chicken into 1″ inch long strips and thread onto skewers.  If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them before hand so they don’t burn and fall off.  Spray chicken with non-stick cooking spray and place on hot grill (about 300-350 degrees) cook for 6-10 minutes covered,  turning once.  Baste with half of the sauce (make sure the dipping portion is never in contact with the raw chicken) during the grilling process and serve with remaining sauce garnished with sliced scallions.   The sauce is also fantastic for dipping carrots, cucumbers and other fresh veggies as well.

Paneer Kofta Curry

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.

Cilantro Chutney

Cilantro Chutney

This is a fantastic sauce to have in your fridge.  You can put it on so many things.  It’s great with Spinach Pakoras, with eggs, as a veggie dip or even as a dressing.   It takes about 3 minutes to put together.  I really enjoyed it with the Tapioca and Potato Boras I made for The Great Leftover Challenge sponsored by Danny’s kitchen, a great blog that I enjoy reading.

All the ingredients that needs to be added to the Cilantro

Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth

Cilantro Chutney

Here’s the recipe:

Cilantro Chutney

1 bunch cilantro (with the stems cut off)

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp water

1 1/2 tsp oil

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

1 or 2 jalapeno chilies

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsps sugar

Rough chop the cilantro and ginger.  Place everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately or can store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Subzi Paneer Masala (Vegetable and Paneer in a delicious sauce)

Subzi Paneer Masala (Vegetable and Paneer in a delicious sauce)

I’ve had a lot of pale foods lately.  You know what I mean.  Things with creamy, white sauces, pastas, potatoes.  I needed some COLOR and some SPICE!  I can’t go very long without reverting back to my roots.  There are lots of times we eat completely vegetarian meals, not really on purpose but because we never miss the meat.  Especially food from my part of the world.  The flavors, the spices and the textures are so great, you never even think to yourself…”where’s the beef?”  This is one of those dishes.  Paneer is a South Asian cheese. Paneers can be used to make desserts, to put into breads or made into savory dishes.  It’s versatility can take on any flavors, kind of like tofu.  Paneer can also easily be made at home.  I didn’t have time today to make my paneer from scratch (I shall post a paneer making post really soon). I just bought some from the store.  Nowadays you can pick up paneer even at the specialty section of regular grocery stores.  This dish is pretty quick and it’s very, VERY tasty.  I love to serve it with Aloo Naan (savory potato stuffed flat bread) and some Raita (a cucumber, tomato and yogurt side salad).  It’s one of my favorite comfort foods.

Ingredients at a glance

Puree the tomatoes, onion, green chili, garlic and ginger together

Shallow fry the Paneer in a skillet (I like my trusty cast iron one)

In the same pan saute the green and red bell peppers until they are tender but not overcooked.

Take out the peppers when done and into the hot pan add cumin seeds and hing powder

Add tomato puree along with coriander, bay leaves, chili and turmeric and cook for a few minutes

Add Greek yogurt (with a little water mixed in) to the sauce mixture

When sauce has cooked nicely add green peas, peppers and paneer

Cook for a few minutes and add garam masala, sugar and cilantro

Serve immediately with Plain or Aloo Naan

Subzi Paneer MasalaHere’s the recipe:

12 ounces of Paneer, cut into strips or cubes

1/8 cup of oil

14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes

3 cloves garlic

1/2  inch piece of fresh ginger

1 Serrano Chili

1/2 onion

1/2 tsp Jeera (cumin seeds)

1/4 tsp Hing (Aseofatida powder, it stinks but it’s awesome to cook with)

1 tbsp Coriander powder (Dhania)

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Red chili powder

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 red bell pepper, cut into little chunks

1 green bell pepper, cut into little chunks

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup water

1 tsp salt (or adjust to your taste)

In a blender or food processor mix the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, onion and green chili into a puree.  Set aside.

In a skillet or pan heat the oil and shallow fry the paneer pieces until they are golden brown.  Take them out and put them in a paper towel lined pan.  In the same oil add the green and red bell peppers and cook for about 3 minutes until tender but not over cooked.  Take out and put in the same pan as the paneer and set aside.

Add to the pan the Cumin seeds and hing and stir fry until the seeds pop (should take only a few seconds).  Add the tomato puree, coriander powder, salt, turmeric, chili and bay leaves.  Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes or until the oil separates a little from the tomato puree and the whole sauce reduces to almost half the quantity.

Mix yogurt and water together and add to the sauce.  Stir and simmer for another 3 minutes or so.  Add the Paneer, bell pepper and green peas to the sauce, cook for about a minute until the peas are tender.  Add the garam masala, sugar and cilantro and stir well.  Cook  another minute or so and remove from heat.  Fish out the two bay leaves. Serve hot with Aloo Naan or plain Naan.

Kumquat Orange Ginger Marmalade ~ I feel like the brown Martha Stewart

Kumquat Orange Ginger Marmalade ~ I feel like the brown Martha Stewart

I’m usually so busy most of the time that I try to find my fun in whatever I’m doing.  I went on a recent shopping trip with my friend Kristin to a store that most people avoid.  It’s a local store that sells an unlikely variety of things.  You can find Ann Taylor dresses right next to a box of Avocados.  During our shopping spree, I bought Sterling Silver Celtic crosses, a Krups coffee grinder, a pair of cute summer wedge sandals and Kumquats.  Yes, a bunch of Kumquats.  If you’ve never tried Kumquats, they are like tiny oranges except you can eat the skin and everything.  They pack in a lot of flavor and can be used in sauces, chutneys, cakes, compotes…..

I decided to make some marmalade.  When you use oranges or other citrus to make jams or marmalade no additional pectin is needed.  There is natural pectin in citrus that makes it set up.  There are only four ingredients in this marmalade.  I thought I’d add some zing to the kumquat and orange mixture by adding some candied ginger I’d made last month.  It added a depth of flavor that was delicious! There is something about home canning that makes me feel like the brown version of Martha Stewart.  It must be the mason jars!

The cast of characters: Kumquats and Oranges

Some crystallized ginger

Process the kumquats, oranges and ginger in a food processor

Add sugar and bring mixture to a boil

Cook until fruit is tender and mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 20 minutes)

Process for 10 minutes in a water bath to seal

Yields 12 pints

It turned out delicious. The ginger adds a little zing!

Here’s the recipe:

Kumquat Orange Ginger Marmalade

30 or so Kumquats

2 large Oranges

1/4 cup candied ginger (or you can use a 2″ piece of fresh ginger chopped up)

9 cups of sugar

Wash all the fruit.  Cut the Kumquats in half and take out the seeds.  Cut up the oranges and take out the seeds.  Rough chop the ginger.  Place everything in the food processor (skin and all) and process for a few minutes until you see small chunks.  I like to keep small enough pieces that it won’t annoy me later when I put it on my toast, some people like really big pieces. It’s up to you.  Measure the fruit before you put it in a large pan.  The rule of thumb is that you need approximately 1 1/2 times the amount of sugar to fruit ratio for everything to set up properly.  I came up with 4 cups of fruit so I went with 9 cups of sugar.  (a true 1 1/2 x would be 10 cups, but I held back a bit).  Cook fruit and sugar until it comes to a boil and then turn the heat to low and let the fruit simmer, stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick and overflow.  It should take about 20 minutes for the mixture to cook and become tender and for the liquid to coat the back of the spoon you’re using.  Sterilize some mason jars.  Pour hot mixture into each jar leaving a 1/4 inch clearance.  Make sure the rim is clean before placing a sterilized lid and band on.  Process in water bath for 10 minutes.  Enjoy the marmalade.  I think it will go wonderfully with any pork or chicken dish as a sauce. Yielded 12 pint jars.