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Monday, November 13, 2017

Turmeric Chickpea "Burgers" with Tahini Garlic Sauce

Finding a good veggie burger is not as simple as one may think.  There are thousands out there.. it's not the veggie burger that is hard to find.. it's the really good one that is.  It's a texture thing.  I like my burger to hold together when I eat it.  Otherwise I would just plate it and stop trying to call it a burger.
There are the countless processed veggie burgers out there mostly using grains and soy.. but for me, those ones are really unappetizing.
I did have some luck with my black bean and beet burgers.  They were really good and had lots of flavor, but I think I did better with texture this time around.  These turmeric chickpea burgers have a whole different flavor profile, and the chickpeas are not all the way cooked through, which completely changes the texture issue.
These do hold together.  I was flipping them with no problems.. and when you bite into it.. you are definitely biting into something that holds a little resistance.  That is exactly what I wanted.
Vive la Résistance!!

Yield 6 patties
Ingredients

Patties:
1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 knob fresh turmeric, grated (about 2 Tbsp)
2 small red onions, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chickpea flour + more if needed
Olive oil for cooking

Tahini garlic sauce:
3 Tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, grated
juice from 2 limes
2-3 Tbsp water, depending on how thick you want the sauce
freshly cracked pepper

Directions
1.  Cook the drained chickpeas until almost done.  You don't want them to be mushy when you smash them between your fingers.  I did mine in a crock pot for 4 hours (instead of 7).
2.  Drain but reserve some of the cooking water just in case.  Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor. Don't puree them, but make sure none are still whole.
3.  Add all the rest of the patty ingredients except the oil and stir well.  If the mixture is too dry, add some of the chickpea cooking water.  If the mixture is too we, add some more chickpea flour.  You want the mixture to hold together if you make a ball with your hands.
4.  Make the sauce by stirring everything together.  You don't want it to be too watery, so add the water 1 Tbsp at a time until it gets to the saucy thickness you desire.
5.  Make and shape the patties.  I used a burger press.  I placed some parchment paper into the bottom of the press, then scooped in the mixture, pressed, removed, and repeat.
6.  Heat some olive oil in a flat skillet or frying pan.  Carefully place each patty down and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. 
7.  Place onto a toasted burger bun with the sauce and whatever fixins you desire!

I had red onion, tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce.

This was the most satisfying veg burger I've had so far!  That Tahini garlic sauce is its perfect match.  Do not consider skipping it.
I've been requested to make it again for a crowd.. which obviously means it's a big hit!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

5-Ingredient Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

I have my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe that I make interchangeably with tahini depending on what I have on hand.  I think everyone has their classic recipe that they are happy with.  The thing is.. sometimes, another one just jumps at you and begs you to be tried.
This is what happened with this one.  It seemed too good to be true, but too intriguing not to try.  I've never done a flourless cookie before.  Nor a butterless.  Come on.. we're not on a diet here!
But this cookie is not a diet cookie.  It is just peanut butter greatness in its perfect form.
It is the way peanut butter cookies were meant to be made.

Yield 33 Tbsp sized cookies
Ingredients:
240g (8.5oz) cassonade or light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 packet vanilla sugar or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
450g (1 lb or 1 3/4 cups) natural smooth peanut butter
fleur de sel to finish
Directions:
1.  Beat the eggs, then beat the sugar into the eggs.  Go for it.  Beat it good.
2.  Add the vanilla, then peanut butter.  Mix very well, then put in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes or while the oven heats.
3.  Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
4.  Line a baking tray with a cookie sheet.  Mine was silicone.  Scoop Tbsp sized balls onto the sheet.  Sprinkle with fleur de sel, and bake for 18-20 minutes.
5.  Remove and wait for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
6.  Very important.  Let cool completely before eating.
These cookies are crunchy on the outside and in the center, depending on the cooking time, you get a nice melty chewy center.
Plus, they are beautifully domed and oh so sexy!

I made a few changes to the recipe from SK.  She uses 335g of sugar and that was just not thinkable, so I reduced to 240g.  They are still sweeter than I prefer, so next time I will go for 200g and they will be perfect.  
She also uses Skippy processed peanut butter with sugar explaining that the processed stuff gives the best results.  I used Dakatine peanut butter without sugar.  The ingredients are 97% peanuts, emulsifier, and salt.
She also chills the dough in the freezer before scooping and after scooping, explaining that it helps the cookies keep their dome shape.  I did not do this because of freezer space, but keeping the dough in the fridge between batches gave me the perfect domes I wanted.
I snuck a few pieces of broken dark chocolate into a few of the cookies to surprise myself later on.. teehee!!

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Where to use Pesto

If you can't answer that, just rub it all over yourself and have someone lick it off you..

Pesto is Summer
Pesto is Love
Pesto is Indulgence

Pesto is a handful of basil, a few garlic cloves, a handful of pine nuts (or walnuts, or almonds or cashews), a handful of grated parmesan, some freshly cracked pepper, and a good blend with some extra special olive oil.

It is the salsa of the Goddess

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Methi & Chard Gotas with Kadhi

I was finally able to recreate one of my favorite Gujarati recipes after growing my own fenugreek leaves from seeds.
They are actually quite easy to grow, very low maintenance, and quick yield.  They'll grow indoors if it's cold in the winter and replenish the outside soil with nitrogen, so it's nice to grow them in several places one after the other to prepare the soil for something more needy afterwards.
I got garden side-tracked.
I've had these growing up, had them in India, and most recently had them in New Jersey every day for breakfast...which I really looked forward to each morning.
Instead of making me tired of it, it actually sparked my desire to make them myself.
Of course, sourcing the methi (fresh fenugreek leaves) is the hardest part.  You can't just go to the store and buy a "bunch" of methi like you would buy a bunch of cilantro or parsley.  Even cilantro is not always guaranteed here (I just grow that too).
My methi leaves are still a bit too small, but I felt I needed to make this right away because I wanted them RIGHT NOW.
So, I added some finely chopped swiss chard greens (also from the garden).  I have a different thinner Kadhi recipe here as well.  This Kadhi is thick like a dipping sauce.
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer
Ingredients

For Gotas:
1/2 cups packed methi leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed chard leaves, finely chopped
1 green chile, coarsely chopped (add more if you like it extra spicy)
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
pinch hing (asafoetida)
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
3/4 cups water
1/4 tsp baking soda
Vegetable oil for frying

For Thick Kadhi:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (half yogurt, half milk)
1 cup water
1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
pinch turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 slit green chile
1 sprig curry leaves
pinch of salt
cilantro to garnish
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Directions

For Gotas:
1.  Mix all the ingredients together gently until it forms a thick mixture.  It shouldn't be liquidy, but shouldn't be dry either.  You should be able to spoon it and have it slowly drip off.
2.  Heat the oil.  You dont need a deep fryer but you need a deep enough layer so the gotis can be submerged.
3.  Carefully spoon 1 heaping tsp of mixture into the oil at a time, frying until it turns golden, then removing with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel.

For Kadhi:
1.  Heat the oil in a wok or tadka or deep sautée pan.
2.  Add the seeds and cook until they crackle, then add the turmeric and hing.  They should fizz.
3.  Add the slit chile and curry leaves and fry for about 1 minute.
4.  Add the besan and buttermilk and cook, whisking until it thickens.  The buttermilk might separate but it's ok.
5.  Add water until the mixture reaches desired thickness.  Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro.

For eating:
Either pour the kadhi all over the gotas and eat them one by one on your own plate...
or
keep it communal and use the kadhi as a dip..
Either way, enjoy and wish you had made more..

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Ahi and Avocado Poke Bowl on Arugula


My first memory of eating Poke was on the beach in Hawaii.. bought at the market and separated into plastic cups for the family.
I had never eaten anything as intriguing and it wasn't a big thing.
Then I had it several times at Roy's, a Hawaiian restaurant, and finally, a homemade version from my Father.
Since then, no poke for me.
Also since then, it seems like Poke has become the new fresh fast food.  There are little poke shops EVERYWHERE!
When you only come back to the US every couple of years, these types of changes really stand out.  It went from "what is poke and how to you pronounce it?" to "omg you don't know what poke is?"
Although it's trendy and delicious, which is a rare combination, I do hope that the fishing regulations will take notice of the diminishing tuna populations in the ocean.  These babies need a break to be able to reproduce in sufficient quantities.
Everyone loves to be able to eat it now but it would be even nicer to be able to eat it in the future.
With that said, when it is available and not too expensive, I'm guilty of indulging on that rare occasion.  When I do, this is how I prepare it:
Serves 4
Ingredients
900g (2lbs) fresh Ahi Tuna, cut into cubes
2 small avocados, cubed
1/2 firm cucumber, diced
1 very ripe tomato, diced
1 jalapeno, diced 
2 tsp dried seaweed, rehydrated (use hijiki or wakame)
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 handful chopped chives
1 green onion, chopped
as much arugula as you want as a bed
some black and white sesame seeds for garnish
Vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp sesame oïl
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black sesame seeds
Directions 
1.  Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together.
2.  Toss with all the rest.
3.  Serve over a bed of arugula
4.  Ask yourself if you are worthy of eating such a heavenly thing

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

From Yard to Table

Can you feel the joy in my heart?
Sometimes the most simple meals are the ones you create while you're daydreaming and are back to real life once you look at your plate.
Sourcing every single thing on this plate from my yard or the neighbor's yard makes for such a gratifying meal.
We have:
Fresh eggs, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, chives, and cilantro.
The drizzle of olive oil is not from my yard, but brought to me by my brother:  Queen Creek Olive Mill in Arizona.. Mexican Lime Olive Oil.
For this moment.. I could ask for nothing better..

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Fish Tacos on Homemade Tortillas

Fish Tacos.
This made up 75% of my intake in college.  I could eat them everyday and not get sick of them.  I craved them when I was too sick to eat them and will seek out every single fish taco joint in California just to get a sneak peak of the chef's heart.
There are no words...
This being my favorite food for such a large part of my life, the only 2 reasons I had not made them before this year are:
1.  Before living here, I had easy access to them, so never a need to make them
2.  After living here, I had NO access to valid corn tortillas, or masa harina.
  What has changed?
I thought of buying masa on one of my trips back home and decided to try to make tortillas myself.
Major Breakthrough of the Year here!
So, making corn tortillas is actually not so difficult.  You just need to know the ziplock trick.  It's probably even easier with a tortilla press, but hey, it's not a requirement.

Yield 20 6 inch corn tortillas
Ingredients
2 cups masa harina (do not sub corn flour)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Directions
1.  Mix everything together into a warm ball.
2.  Let rest for 30 minutes, covered with a kitchen towel.  During this time, the masa will absorb more moisture.
3.  Divide the mixture into 20 balls.. or wing it and make small balls that fit into the palm of your hand (I have small hands)
4.  Cut a large ziplock bag so you can open it like a magazine.  Place each ball in between the plastic and press into a tortilla.  Use a rolling pin to help, pressing from the inside toward the outside.
5.  Cook on a flat slightly oiled surface, flipping once.  I don't quite know about the cooking time.. just don't burn them or they will break when you use them as a vessel for your fish tacos.
6.  Place them in a tortilla warmer until ready to use.  If you don't have one, keep them wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.

Sooo easy!
I'll get to my fish taco recipe soon.. with that spicy Chipotle sauce and Guacamole.. mmMMmmMmm!!

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Single Layer Carrot Cake with Olive Oil

It took me 3 rounds of baking this cake before I actually got a chance to snap a shot of a slice, let alone post the recipe.
That's how fast it goes.
The last time I made it was for my Mother in Law, who had never had carrot cake before, and thought the idea was interesting.  As I grated my carrots and prepared the olive oil, I could literally see the question marks above my in-law's heads as I told them I was making a cake for dessert.  They really thought I was pulling their legs and I was making some sort of appetizer.

Everything was settled once they had a slice and made 2 break through discoveries:  
1.  Carrots can be used in dessert!
2.  The French are not the only ones who can do dessert!

Come on now, everyone who has eaten at my table several times has had carrot or beetroot halwa before.. this really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone!

So I now present to you the most requested dessert (and easiest one to make) in my house, 
the Single Layer Carrot Cake with Olive Oil.

Serves 10-12
Ingredients
Wet:
170g (6oz) brown sugar
180 mL (3/4 cup) Olive Oil
60g (1/4 cup) plain yogurt
3 large eggs
Dry:
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 packet vanilla sugar
250g (2 cups) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground java pepper (or quality black pepper)
Fold in:
260-280g (2 cups) grated carrots (approximately 6 medium)
1 inch freshly grated ginger
60g (1/2 cup) raisins or 3/4 cup chopped pecans
Frosting:
100g (3.5oz) room temperature cream cheese
50g (1.76oz) softened butter
50g (1.76oz) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
pinch freshly ground java pepper

Directions
1.  Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
2.  Beat the brown sugar, olive oil, and yogurt together for at least 1 minute.
3.  Add the eggs in one at a time, beating them in, then add the vanilla.
4.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined.  This means not to mix it too much, but enough so the pockets of flour have disappeared.
5.  Fold in the grated carrots, ginger, and raisins very gently.
6.  I don't have one of those cake pans where the bottom drops out, and I don't believe I really need one, so I used a 20 x 25cm (8 x 10in) rectangular pan lined with parchment paper.  The parchment paper makes it easy to remove the cake from the pan and cut it nicely at the end.  Pour your batter into this and distribute it evenly.
7.  Bake at 180°C 350°F for 32-38 minutes.  Check for doneness by poking a toothpick into the center.  It is done when it comes out almost clean.  If it is totally clean, the cake will be less moist.
Each oven is different, so it's hard to give an exact time.  In my oven, it is perfect at 33-34 minutes.
8.  Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before frosting it.
9.  Make the frosting.   Beat the butter and cream cheese together, then incorporate the sugar, vanilla, ginger, and pepper.  It should be rather stiff.  To make it easier to spread, add the yogurt.  It should not be runny!  Don't screw this up!
10.  Apply the frosting with the back of a spoon or a frosting spatula so there is a nice thick even layer covering the entire top of the cake.  I'm not usually a frosting person, but trust me, this is necessary.  Don't think to hard about it.. just do it.
Cut the cake the way you like, into sizes you like, and serve at room temperature or cold.
You can add chopped pecans or raisins to each slice to make it pretty, instead of just plopping it onto the table, parchment paper and all the way I usually do.
The result is so moist and decadent, not too sweet, but just enough with a touch of zesty happiness.
No, you can't taste the olive oil.  No, it doesn't taste like a salad.
It actually gets better the next day...
and the next..
and the next after that..

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tandoorified Cauliflower "Steak"

Does that mean you can make thick slices of cauliflower that don't fall apart and grill them?
I cannot believe how much diversity you can find in vegetables!  This is one of my many gifts this week.  But this one, I procured for myself.
(The other ones were indoor skydiving, a dinner cruise, and the new Steve n Seagulls album).
So, the only downside is that you can only make 2 "steaks" out of 1 cauliflower head.  The rest are just florets.. but I'll tell you what to do with those.. it's actually not really a problem.
Serves 2 steaks + 2 servings of florets
Ingredients
1 head cauliflower (mine was green cauliflower)
2 tsp tandoori spices
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2 lime
chopped cilantro for garnish
Directions
1.  Make the slices.  Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower head without cutting the stem.  Place it upside down on the cutting board, stem up (like a head stand) and slice right down the center of the stem to have 2 halves.. like a human brain.  Then slice each half once more, making a 1.5 to 2cm steak with each half.  The rest will break off as florets.  Keep those aside.
2.  In a saucer, stir the tandoori spices and olive oil together.  Brush this mixture generously all over the steaks.  Toss the rest of the mixture with the florets.
3. Take care of the florets.  Preheat the oven to 400°F 200°C.  Squeeze just a touch of lime juice over the florets, place them in an oven proof dish or sheet pan, making sure they are well separated, and bake for about 25 minutes.
4.  Now for the steaks.  Heat up your grill, plancha, or griddle pan to high heat.  Grill the steaks for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until they start to get grill marks.  Drizzle a touch of lime juice will this is happening.
5.  Remove from the grill/plancha/griddle and place in the oven.  I griddled on a cast iron skillet and just transferred the skillet to the oven.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  This will have the outside crispy and charge and the inside tender enough without being mushy.
This is perfection.
6.  Serve the steaks drizzled with lime juice and chopped cilantro.  The florets can be served the same way, but without the "steak" look.
I served mine with some Toor Dal, basmati rice, and some sauteed spinach.

Let me tell you about that spinach real quickly.
I took some nigella seeds (also known as black onion seeds) and threw them into some hot olive oil, then added some sliced garlic, and then threw in the spinach and cooked until it wilted.  Then I seasoned with a bit of fleur de sel and added 1 Tbsp dried pomegranate seeds for crunch.
I don't know where that idea came from, but it was a great idea and nicely complemented the rest.

So about those steaks.. there is something ultimately satisfying about tandoorifying vegetables.  The char marks from the grill give the veggies that superior dimension and tandoori spices complement that texture perfectly.
The result is eye-candy.. we rarely see the cross-section of cauliflower heads, nature is truly beautiful.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Roasted Delica Morreti and Feta Quiche

Keep the skins on.
That's the secret.
The best squash varieties are by far Ms. Butternut and Ms. Delica, pictured blow.
 
Both can be held in one hand, do not need to be peeled if roasted, do not become mush when cooked, and have a distinct sweet flavor that is not watery or pumpkiny.
In 3rd and 4th place come Mrs. Bernettine and Mrs. Sucrine du Berry, pictured below. 
 They are both larger versions of the first two with the same qualities, but need to be held with 2 hands.  They are perfect for pie or larger families.
Ms. Red Kuri (Potimarron) is all the rage in France, and it is very tasty, but on my list, it comes 5th, pictured below.
Although it can be held in 1 hand, there is not much flesh and once cooked, it doesn't stay as firm as the others.  The distinct full flavor is less present as well.
I love my life.

So with this in mind, my full bodied Delica was cubed, skin on, brushed with olive oil and a pinch of fleur de sel, and roasted on a sheet pan with parchment paper for about 30 minutes at 400°F 200°C.
The rest is just a quiche with a garlic panko almond crust.
Ingredients
crust:
3 Tbsp panko (use something else if GF)
1 clove garlic, grated
pinch fleur de sel
few shakes red pepper flakes
few cracks black pepper
3 Tbsp ground almonds
1 Tbsp olive oil
the works:
1 cubed oven roasted Delica or something of the sort
1 onion, sliced into moons (preferably roasted with the squash)
100g feta, cubed
appareil:
3 eggs well beaten
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup yogurt or cream
1/2 tsp dried thyme
pinch fleur de sel
pinch nutmeg
few cracks black pepper
Directions
1.  Make the crust directly in the baking dish by mixing everything but the olive oil together.  Then pour in the olive oil and spread out the mixture evenly in the bottom of the dish.
Pre-toast the crust by placing it in the oven at 400°F 200°C for about 10 minutes.  Remove the dish and get ready for the next step.
2.  Place the works into the dish, making sure to arrange everything to your liking.  The feta should be evenly distributed and not all clumped on one side.  Apply yourself.  This is easy.
3.  Make the appareil by beating everything together until foamy.  Pour this into the dish with all the other people waiting.
4.  Cook at 350°F 180°C for about 40-50 minutes.
5.  Remove and let cool.  This is important.  At least 15 minutes.  This is also the hardest part.  During this excruciating time, make a salad or something.

I served mine with a salad.
The skin?  Ha!
It makes it crispy and utterly enjoyable without clearly being identified as skin.
I shall never remove skin from any of the smaller squashes again!

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