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Friday, August 30, 2013

Plancha of the Sea

There are certain things in life that make me swoon.. no matter what else is going on.
Here's a tip for living with a female:
a.  If there is ever tension, offer her a tentacle, okra, fresh dates, shrimp, fenugreek leaves, dosa, homemade honey, black chickpea sprouts, basil, st nectaire... or a piment for her mangue.  She will swoon.  Maybe not for you, but she will be in a better mood.
b.  Actually, offer her those types of things any day or everyday (of course, not the same thing everyday...duh) and she will maybe start swooning for you.
c.  If she is already swooning for you (ahem) don't forget to offer her these types of things every once in a while to avoid tension.  If tension occurs, refer to point a.  It is the regulation loop of relationships.
I may be generalizing here.. this is most probably MY happiness in the house regulation loop.

Tonight's "swoon for the plate" menu
Peel and eat shrimp with spicy mayo
Med sardines brushed with Chermoula à la plancha
Pink Trout in Chermoula à la plancha
accompanied by grilled veggies à a plancha:
Sliced zucchini
Sliced carrots
Tomato wedges

Be still my heart... ooOooh!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Truffled Kuri Quinozotto

Smells like magic...but the good kind!
The kind you always hoped would be real..and then find out that there is nothing more real than it.  A discovery you've known or heard about but never thought would be within your realm of experiment..
Ok, ok I didn't actually buy black truffles, but I do have this amazing truffle infused olive oil, which is more attainable unless you have a truffle finder with his own laced oak forest.
I didn't really follow a recipe here.  I went with instinct and availability.
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main
1 red kuri or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6-7 large mushrooms, sliced
Small handful dried cêpes or wild mushrooms
4 tbsp truffled olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa (I used mostly quinoa and a bit of bulgur) rinsed
1 handful parmesan
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups water
2 tbsp rocket pesto (or regular pesto)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp paprika
lots of freshly cracked pepper
1 handful chopped parsley
1 handful crumbled goat cheese (or feta)
1.  Toss the cubes of kuri squash with 1 tbsp truffled olive oil.  Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes.  Reserve.
2.  Meanwhile, sautée the mushrooms in 1 tbsp truffled olive oil for 5-8 minutes until well colored.  Reserve.
3.  Heat the rest of the truffled olive oil in a wok.  Add the quinoa and stir to coat.  Keep stirring until the quinoa starts to color.
4.  Add the pesto, paprika, pepper, cêpes, nutmeg, and 1 cup of water.  Turn heat to low and cover.  Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
5.  Add the kuri squash, mushrooms, cream, parmesan, and remaining water.  Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa grains become pearly.  I didn't time it.. I just tried it.  Add salt if necessary.  My rocket pesto was strong in flavor because of the roasted pumpkin seeds, so I didn't need to add any salt.

Serve with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley.  I served mine as a side with some grilled turkey cutlets brushed with rocket pesto.  I had only a bit left and I had to either use it or freeze it.. and I'd much rather have another excuse to buy arugula than to freeze a tiny portion of my crazy pesto.  I'd easily eat it as a main dish, though.

This was heavenly.  I'm so excited that squash and mushroom season is near.  This year is going to be killer.  I promise...

*don't use bulgur if you're GF please

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Black Truffle Goat Kuri Pizza

Remember when I said I saved a little pizza dough to sneak a peez?
Well it's just as good after 3 days hanging out in the fridge... maybe even better.. or was that the truffled olive oil?
This was supposed to be an appetizer for 2 but ended up being dinner for 1.  Happy ending for me!
Here are the toppings:
Plenty of olive oil infused with black truffles... that stuff is amazing
slices of goat cheese
black pepper
sautéed mushrooms (they're hiding)
some grated red kuri or butternut squash

I ate it with some arugula.
Bam. Amaze yourself!

That truffled olive oil is mind blowing.  I'm roasting the rest of my red kuri squash with it right now.  There might be a risotto in sight tomorrow...

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Beet Halwa

I'm in love...madly in love...
Beets with cardamom in dessert.. Indian style.  Thank you, Indian Khana for making my life complete!
I'm not really into desserts, but I think I could eat this forever and ever and always be happy.  I was hoping to get complaints because of the Indian-ness, so I could have it all to myself, but it was scarfed down by all who tried.  I'll have to find something more strange next time.
Serves 4-5
2 large beets, peeled and grated (approx 5 cups)
2 Tbsp ghee (I used butter)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
2 Tbsp sugar (or not at all)
1/2 tsp freshly roasted and crushed cardamom (about 5 pods)
10-12 tsp cashews
1 Tbsp almond slivers (I didn't have)
1 Tbsp pistachio slivers (I didn't have)
1.  Roast the cashews in the butter, then reserve.  I'm not sure how useful this step is.  I used already roasted cashews.  Oh did you know cashews are not nuts?  They are the external part of a fruit, not the seed.  How naughty!
2.  Use a pressure cooker to cook the grated beets for 8-10 minutes.  You want the raw smell to disappear and you want most of the liquid to evaporate.  Stir continuously during this step.
3.  Add the milk and close the pressure cooker.  Once it starts to hiss, leave it 5 minutes (or for 1 whistle).  Turn off the heat and let the pressure drop by itself before opening.
4.  Open up the pressure cooker and put back on high heat, stirring continuously for 10-12 minutes.  Again, the idea is for most of the liquid to evaporate.  At this point, I took a mouthful and it was already delicious without being Indianized.  Just beets cooked with milk...mmm!
5.  Add the condensed milk and stir in, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
6.  Add the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes.  I could have skipped this.  I don't think it needed extra sugar, but as I said, I don't really have a sweet tooth.  When I make dessert, it usually isn't for me..
7.  Add the cashews and cardamom and cook for another 10 minutes until it gets goopy... meaning when you stir, it doesn't release a liquid trail.  Does that make sense?
8.  Stir in the nuts if using, making sure to keep some for decoration.

Serve warm, close your eyes, and enjoy the journey...

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Homemade Pizza on Pizza Stone

Ok ok.. My pizza stone is not solely for Naan.  It is also, most appropriately, for pizza.  Before I start getting adventurous with crazy pizza flour and oil combinations, I'm sticking to the simple, straightforward pizza dough the stone was made for.  I also want to master the normal before attacking the paranormal.  I'm giving the flour in weight, because US flour is different than French all purpose flour in density.. and it helps if a different flour than wheat needs to be used.
220g all purpose flour
5g (1/2 tsp) salt
12cL (4 fl oz) warm water
5g sugar
10g (2 tsp) yeast
2 tbsp EVOO
Cornmeal for rolling and base
1.  Stir the sugar into the warm water, then add the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.  It should foam.
2.  Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together.  Oil your hands and add the oil to the flour, mixingwell with your oiled hands, then make a well.
3.  When the yeast is foamy, add it into the flour well and incorporate with your oiled hands.  Doing this, rather than using a machine, will make you feel in touch with your inner human.. Or whatever species you are.  What I mean is, it makes you feel alive and aware of the process, which is very important.  Plus, you get to take your rings off and get your hands dirty.
Do this for a few minutes, until the dough has come together into a nice wet ball.
4.  Slather just a bit of EVOO over the dough ball and either cover and let rise in a warm spot for 2 hours, punchung it down after 1 hour, or plastic wrapping it and putting it in the fridge for a slow rise...16-24 hours later.  I chose the later route, because it's 10pm and I already ate and don't have any mozzarella or fresh basil right this second.  If I did, I would still be making pizza, regardless of whether I had already eaten or not.
5.  When ready to roll, prepare all the toppings you're going to be using.  Stretch out the dough to fit your pizza pan or pizza stone, sprinkling cornmeal liberally on the base.  Mine is 1 ft (30cm) in diameter, so I'm going for that.  I read somewhere not to use a rolling pin, but to do it by hand, if possible by tossing.  I tried, but gave in to the rolling pin, at least to get the round shape.  Then I pressed it with my fingers.
6.  Preheat the oven to the highest setting with the pizza stone inside on the lowest rack.  Slide the prepared pizza onto the stone and cook until done... about 8-10 minutes.  I'm going for crispy crust, chewy on the inside.  The cornmeal makes it perfect.

Toppings I used:
Rocket Pesto
Roasted artichoke hearts
Roasted tomatoes
Roasted bell
Shredded swiss
Shredded chicken
Chili oil

I had been saving my roasted eggplant slices for this moment, and completely forgot about them.  Shame on me.
This pizza was beyond delicious!  Not only were the toppings wonderful together, the crust was exactly how I wanted it.  I was actually surprised at how perfect it came out.  I was told it was better than the place I usually go for pizza!
I kept a small part of the dough to secretly make one later with truffle oil...mmmmmmm

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sesame Ginger Fries

Off the Meat Hook incepted the idea into my head.  I've been trying to figure how to pull this one off, but it will perfectly accommodate the continuation of my Chicken Inasal, since I ran out of rice.
Oh you wanted fries? Oh you will get fries...but MY way!
I didn't really measure, but lets say for about 500g or 1 lb cut potatoes, here's how to season before baking:
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Toss, bake at 200°C 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden, serve.
This is the golden medal of all home fries.
I don't know why I waited for an asian dish to pair it with.. It would go with just about anything!  The ginger is not very potent.  I may just add some fresh ginger next time.  This would be killer with yams!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Manguing my Piment Cookies

While making a batch of Tahini Almond cookies, I thought the whole time about the dried mango I smuggled into my happy place.  Imagine a cookie with mango, chili, and coconut...I imagine the first bite to be similar to my heart being kidnapped in a freefall, unable to control anything.. just feeling the experience and going with the flow..
My "vacation" has turned into a "staycation," so I'm sweeping myself off my own feet with kitchen adventures.
These are basically the same as my Jalapeno cookies, but with an added 120g dried chopped mango in the batter and as a topping.
I just licked my fingers full of mango chili cookie dough... please catch me while I's amazing!

The end result is exalting.  The dried mango does its job, and moistens and melts into the cookie and onto your tongue as it always has and always will...

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chicken Inasal

I think Pinoy cooking is the best way for me to use my coconut vinegar.  As my chicken is marinating, I realize that my coconut vinegar has a very strong aroma of coconut, and is actually sugar cane vinegar with coconut extract.  I'm sure it will be fine.
What I feel defines Philipino cooking more than anything else is the sourness factor.  They almost always have a game of salty-sour, sweet-sour, or even salty-sweet-sour happening.  Last time I made a Filipino dish, I was completey amazed at the flavor that develops just by adding some vinegar.
2 lbs (1 kg) chicken thighs, skin on
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp grated garlic
3/4 cup chopped lemongrass (or 2 tbsp dried)
1/2 cup coconut vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup brown sugar or cassonade
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
3 Tbsp annato oil (I used coconut..sacriledge?)
1/2 cup butter (I omitted and used leftover marinade to baste)
1.  Mix all the marinade ingrediens together, then slather all over the chicken, making sure to get it under nicely under the skin.  Refridgerate for 1-3 hours.
2.  Prepare the baste, then grill the chicken while basting.

I didn't grill, but rather roasted at 185°C for 45 minutes.  Instead of basting, I stirred the coconut oil into the marinade and spooned it over the chicken.
I served with some marinated grilled veggies.  I used the same marinade I used for the chicken, since it made more than enough.

The house smells of sweet vinegar.. which is a bit alarming.
Chicken Inasal is usually reddish orange, a color given by the annato oil.  I'll have to look into that for next time.  Mine just looks like grilled chicken, but the flavor is just phenomenal.  I was worried it would taste too sweet or too sour or too lemongrassy, but since it is not a saucy dish, this "grilled" chicken is just perfect.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Quiche

Isn't summer just a concoction of juicy tomatoes, zucchini, and feta anyways?
To the mix, I added tuna and fresh rosemary, but I could have gone completely veg and used eggplant.
Mmm eggplant.
Here's the secret to making quiche.. there is no secret.  Just do it.
1 pate brisée (raw pastry crust)
1 large tomato, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced and roasted
1 can of tuna, drained
2 eggs
splash of milk
2 Tbsp heavy cream (or more)
1 Tbsp mustard
good sprinkling rosemary
2 handfuls crumbled feta (about 100g)
freshly cracked pepper
1.  Unroll your pastry and stab it multiple times with a fork before placing it in a pie tin (or pyrex round dish since I don't have a pie tin).
2.  Preheat the oven to 350°F 180°C and precook the empty.  Why?  Because what you are going to put inside it will cook quickly and you don't want the bottom of your quiche to be soggy.  Also, make sure to use a pastry made with butter only.. none of that palm oil stuff.  Or make it yourself, but I haven't done that yet.  I'm not sure why but it really intimidates me, plus they are so inexpensive and I like to keep my flour for cookies and rotis.  
I usually precook for 10 minutes or until the bottom starts to rise up.  Not enough to color it, though, because then the edges will be overcooked at the end.
3.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, and most of the mustard.  Add some pepper as well.
4.  When the pastry is ready, spread a bit of mustard along the bottom and pour in 1/3 off the egg mixture.
5.  Lay the zucchini slices and arrange them so they are spread out evenly along the bottom.
6.  Evenly spread out the tuna over the zucchini, and add another 1/3 of the egg mixture.
7.  Lay the tomato slices over the tuna and give it a good sprinkling of rosemary.  Then add the feta.
8.  Finally, pour in the last 1/3 of the egg mixture and bake for 40 minutes.
Let it cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

The feta gives it a nice tang and the tomatoes were perfectly roasted and delicious.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hara Moong Dal

My last moong episode was excellent, however, I did not get a good picture of it so it never saw the light of day on this blog.  A pity, really, but its because it was so good I scarfed it down like an animal and by the time I realized I hadn't photographed it correctly, it was gone.  Tonight, I inadvertantly invited some of my neighbors for dinner.  Yesterday, he said..I'd really like to eat something "strange," to which I responded...tomorrow I'm making something "strange," you should come see (okra).  I didn't realize that I was inviting him, but the more the merrier.
So to add to things French people aren't fully aware of, here is a reappearance of Whole Green Mung Daal by Indian Khana.
Serves 6 - 8 as a side, 4 - 5 as a meal
1 cup whole green mung, soaked overnight
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp oil
Pinch of asofetida (hing)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, minced
4 slit green chilis (I only used 1)
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
Another 1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
2 1/2 cups reserved cooking water, as needed
1 tsp garam masala
Salt as needed
Cilantro for garnish
1.  Cook the mung in 4 cups water and 1/4 tsp turmeric in the crock pot for 3-4 hours on low.  You want them to be cooked, but not mushy.  I could have done this stove top, but I wanted to be relatively hands free when my guests arrived and not have a cluttered stove.  After 3 hours, I did a taste test, then turned off the crockpot and removed as much of the cooking water possible, reserving it for later.
2.  Heat the oil in a wok.  Add the asofetida and cumin seeds until they crackle, then add the onion and chilis.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.
3.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook until the onion softens and the raw smell goes away.
4.  Add the chili powder, coriander, and the remaining turmeric and stir.
5.  Add the tomatoes and cook until everything becomes mushy and the oil separates from the flesh.
6.  Add the kasoori methi, stir, and breath in deeply.  Smells nice!  As I was enjoying the aromas in my house, I was interrupted by a very rude and unappreciated "what stinks?"  I happen to love when the whole house smells of fried and roasted spices.  No cookies for him.
7.  Stir the mixture into the mung along with the garam masala.  Add some of the reserved cooking water to get it to desired consistency.  Do a quick taste test and add salt if necessary.  I added just a little since there is already so much flavor.
8.  When the guests arrive, turn the crockpot on high while you have happy hour.  It should give the mix a good boil and heat it through.  Since it has all been sitting together, the flavors should have infused into the mung.  Mmm

I served this with Tandoori ChickenBhindi SubziJeera rice, and Naan.
This dal is the best mung dal recipe I've made so far.  I really enjoyed it and so did everyone else.  My neighbor looking for "strange" food got exactly what he wanted, and he even took seconds, which made me incredibly happy...even though I'll have less okra leftovers for myself tomorrow.

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Naan has always intimidated me.  I tried making it once, when I was living in Florida, and it was a flop.  The bread was hard and not fluffy at all.  I used a different recipe without egg so it's one of the possible reasons it didn't work.  Also, in 2009 I was not experienced enough in the kitchen to attempt such things.  My how things have changed!  What I was making back then was delicious, of course, but much less technical and precise.  Anyway, the only real way to make naan is in a tandoor, right? Well, I'm hoping to prove this theory wrong...because I don't own a tandoor (yet?) but my pizza stone should do the trick.  Plus, I've never flopped a recipe from ShowMetheCurry...well at least not yet.
Yield 8 naan
2 cups (275g) all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp oil
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 well beaten medium egg
2 Tbsp yogurt
Optional toppings:
minced garlic
nigella seeds
minced onion
1.  Microwave the water and sugar for 30 seconds, then add the yeast and let sit for a few minutes.  If you have fast acting, it should foam.  Today, mine foamed for the first time.  Oh how that made me happy!
2.  Sift together the flour and salt.  Add the oil and gently mix with your hands.
3.  In a separate mixing bowl, beat the yogurt into the egg, then add the water yeast mixture.
4.  Add the flour into the wet mixture a little at a time while kneading.  It should end up as a soft ball of dough.  You can add a few drops of oil to coat the ball so it avoids forming a hard skin while it rises.
5.  Cover with a towel and let it hang out in a warm place for at least 2 hours, punching it down after the first hour.  Mine is hanging out for longer, which is fine too.
6.  When ready, preheat your oven to the highest temperature with the puzza stone inside.  Divide the dough into 8 balls depending on how big you want your naan to be.
Roll each ball out to 1/2 cm thick ovals.
7.  When oven is hot, place the rolled naan onto the pizza stone and cook on the highest rack of the oven for 3-5 minutes without flipping.  They should be golden and bubbly.  Be careful not to wait too long or they will harden.  My first ones did until I figured out the technique.

These were not restaurant style, but good enough to make me do it again.  I think I might have too much Guju blood in me.  I can make a perfect roti... that's good enough for now, right?  I even think roti may have been more appropriate for the meal I served, but shhhh.
My guests loved them and reassured me that they were restaurant quality.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lahmacun Turkish Pizza

I can't really say that the idea fell from the sky the way I did, but it's been lingering with me for well over a month...and it's been hanging there over my brain since I thought I was getting a pizza stone for my birthday.  When I saw that a pizza stone was not part of the package I immediately decided to buy one, but was then told not to, because I may be receiving it as a gift soon.
I love when the things I imagine become reality, even if I have to wait longer than I was expecting.  It makes the anticipation more intense, leaving me time to reflect on all the uses I will be making of said thing.
In the case of a pizza stone, the idea is to recreate a brick oven using the normal oven I have in my kitchen.  It will be perfect for making naans, but that will be another day.
Lahmacuns are known in English as Turkish pizza.  It is very thin and is eaten rolled and accompanied by a fermented milk drink, which I do not have....but you might.
Adapted from A family recipe at Turkish Food & Recipes.
Yield 8 lahmacun
2 1/2 cups (320g) all purpose flour
3/4 cups (85 mL) milk
1/8 cup EVOO
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 small packet yeast (5g)
300g ground beef or lamb (I used beef)
3 cloves garlic, peeles
1/2 red bell
1/2 green bell (I used a moroccan chili instead)
1 tomato
1/2 large onion or 1 small
1/2 Tbsp salca or tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 cup EVOO
Handful parsley (I don't know if it is sacriledge, but I used cilantro)
Batavia or Romaine leaves
Sliced tomato
Chili oil
Red onion slices
Squeeze of lime
1.  Make the dough.  Heat the milk and sugar together for 30 seconds in the microwave.  You want the milk warm, not hot.  Add the yeast, stir, and let it do its thing for a few minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together.
3.  Oil your hands and gently knead the milk mix into the flour mix until fully incorporated.  Add a little oil if too dry.  Knead for at least 10 minutes.  This will work the muscles (of one hand at least) and the dough will be lovely later on.  I'm incapable of doing anything constructive or precise with my left hand, so I'm actually asymmetrical if you take a good look at me.  Ok I may be able to do a few interesting things with my left hand...
4.  When you are done kneading, lightly coat your dough with some oil, then cover and put in a warm place for 2 hours, punchung down the dough after one hour.  It's pretty hot in my house right now, so my dough had no issues rising...hmm maybe because I worked it with my right hand?
5.  Make the topping.  In a food processor, blend everything except the meat.  Dip your finger in and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
6.  Mix the good stuff into the meat.  It should be between a sauce and a paste, and your hands should be nice and meaty..mmmm.
7.  Preaheat oven to 220°C.  While you're waiting for that, make ping pong sized balls with the dough and roll each ball out until very thin.  Approximately 2mm thick.
8.  Use 2 Tbsp toppin foe each lahmacun, spreading it out evenly over the dough.
9.  Place on hot pizza stone and bake for 8-10 minutes.

I served mine rolled with a squeeze of lime, some batavia, a drizzle of yogurt, tomatoes, scallions, and chili oil.
How interestingly simply delicious!  My public enjoyed these very much.
If this seems like a lot of work, it's not too bad.  Most of it is waiting time, and everything up to step 6 can be done ahead of time and stored until the wolves' stomachs start to growl.  The risen dough can be wrapped in cellophane and stored in the fridge up to 3 days, or even frozen if time is really an issue.  However, if you only have 1 pizza stone and are planning on making many lahmacuns, you will be in the kitchen the whole time.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Last Supper?

What would you want your last meal to be...the night before you jump out of an airplane @ 4000m?
Here is mine, bathing in its marinade of lime, Chili oil, basalmic, garlic, ginger, pepper, and piment d'espelette vinegar waiting to be lain down on a piping hot plancha...
Octopus Tentacle.. I wasn't sure if I should skin it or not.  I decided not to, and that was a good decision.
Small Cuttlefish
Sea Bass
Med Sardines
 Keep the skin on... the secret is in the marinade!
 these plancha meals keep getting better and better
 mmm this was even better than last time
the plate is dirty, but omg!!!!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zucchini and Onion Goat Cheese Quiche

I'm not sure what the difference is between a savory tart and a quiche is, but some people take it quite seriously.
I haven't posted anything typically French in a long time.  I still eat typically French things, but they're usually recurring dishes.  Although they're very tasty, they don't make my heart skip and burst and roll over and breath heavily.  Sometimes, though, I am in the mood for a nice quiche.  I have found that you can be quite innovative when it comes to quiche which makes it fun and almost heart throbbing depending on the mood or level of strangeness of ingredients.
Tonight, I'm keeping it simple and French with very little P Epices, but just enough to be delicious.
My neighbors donated an overgrown zucchini to me, here is its partial transformation:
Serves 6-7 as an appetizer, 2-3 as a meal
equivalence of 3 zucchini, sliced
1 1/2 onions, sliced
sprinkling of salt
lots of fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
3 Tbsp EVOO
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (12 cL) heavy cream
2 tsp really good mustard
slices of fresh goat cheese (as much as you want)
1 pate brisée (I will make my own one day, but not today)
1.  Brown the onions in half the EVOO, adding a pinch of salt.  This should take a while, probably no less than 15 minutes.  Set aside.
2.  In the rest of the EVOO, sautée the zucchini, adding a pinch of salt, the paprika, and lots of fresh ground pepper.  You want it to be colored, but not mushy.
3.  Add the onions into the zucchini.  Turn off the heat and set aside to let the flavors infuse.
4.  In a bowl, beat the eggs and cream together.
5.  Preheat oven to 180°C 350°F.  If using a store bought pastry, remove it from the fridge 10 minutes before using it, then stab it multiple times with a fork.
6.  Bake the empty stabbed pastry for 10 minutes, making sure the sides don't fold over.
7.  Spread the mustard over the bottom of the prepped pastry.  Add the zucchini onion mixture, then arrange the goat cheese before pouring the egg mixture over it all.
8.  Bake for approx 30 minutes, then let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.
I served mine as a meal with a beet-apple-carrot-lime-scallion salad.
Simply delicious, although not very pretty.

The rest of the transformation will be taking place tomorrow on the plancha, alongside some sea friends and chile oil.  Ah yes, now THAT is what gets my heart throbbing!!

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Varan Toor Daal

Toor daal is probably the most comforting comfort food.  Add curry leaves and ginger, and you capture my heart.  Add this to last night's leftovers, and you can no longer call them leftovers.  They are now the Continuation of yesterday's art.
This time, cucumber came to play.  I never thought of cooking cucumber, but it comes out nicely and gives the dal a different spin.
Je oualide.
Adapted from ShowMetheCurry
Serves 6 as a side
1 cup toor daal, rinsed until water is clear and soaked 15 min
3-4 cups water or whey
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp cracked fenugreek seeds
1 slit green chili
1/2 onion, sliced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp asofetida (hing)
1 sprig curry leaves
5 cloves garlic, grated
1 diced tomato
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1.  Cook the daal in 3 cups water or whey witht the onions, garlic, chili, and fenugreek. I did it on the stove top, but it works well in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles.  Stovetop I let it cook for 45 minutes, checking for doneness.  The daal should be bite tender, not mushy.
2.  Make the seasoning.  In a wok, heat the oil, then add the cumin.  When it crackles, and the turmeric and hing.  It should fizz.
3.  Add the curry leaves and garlic.  When the garlic starts to color, add the tomatoes and cucumber.  Cook until tomatoes become mushy.
4.  Add the seasoning to the daal.  Add more water if needed, and bring to a boil.  Add lemon juice, then taste and add salt if needed.  Add chili powder if you want it spicier.  I added it to my plate because I wasn't sure how much my guests could handle.

Serve garnished with cilantro, which I forgot, but will not be forgetting for the continuation tomorrow.
I made rotis for the mega saturday night thali of palak paneer, sabut masala chicken, this lovely varan daal, and jeera rice, but my photo did not come out.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Sabut Masala Chicken

Ooh I think this is going to be one of my's a big win!
There's something about the process frying spices in oil that awakens my deep instincts, as if I was in a trance.  It is everything at see the little seeds dancing around in the hot oil, you hear them clapping when the time is right, the aroma fills the whole house...and you can even feel it if you burn yourself...
Adapted from ShowMetheCurry (again)
Serves 4 - 6
2 lbs or 1 kg bone in skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black onion (nigella) seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 whole dried red chili
3 sprigs curry leaves (large handful dried)
2 tbsp grated ginger
6 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 green chili (or more) sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 tsp amchur (mango powder)
Cilantro for garnish
1.  Heat the oil in a wok.  Add all the seeds and cook until they start to sputter.
2.  Add the pepper, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, red and green chilis.  Cook until the raw ginger smell disappears.
3.  Add the sliced onion and cook until it softens, approximately 3-4 minutes.
4.  Add the tomato and amchur and stir around to coat.
5.  Add the chicken and coat.  Turn heat down to medium, cover, and let cook until chickenis done, about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Serve garnished with cilantro, which I did only after the photo.
The unique flavor in this dish comes from the curry leaves.  Now that I have real curry leaves, I feel like I'm discovering a whole new dimension.  If you don't have any or can't find an Indian grocery store..move on to tour plan B, because this dish would truly be incomplete.

I served this with palak paneer and jeera rice.  I'm definately going to make this again next time I do nonvegetarian Indian.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dogfish in Basil

I decided to try something I've never cooked before.. Roussette, or Dogfish or Catshark depending on what part of the globe you live on.  It's actually a small shark (which does not mean baby shark!)
I was advised to cook it in sauce... but I think I will definitely grill it next time.  I like when the flesh has a little bite in it.
2 skinned dogfish, cut into 4" pieces
1 zucchini, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 chopped onion
2tbsp EVOO
1 bunch fresh basil
Juice from 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh cracked pepper
1 tbsp heavy cream
1.  Blend the basil, 1 tbsp EVOO, lemon, garlic, and pepper together.  Add more EVOO if needed.  Brush onto the fish and let marinate at least an hour.  There will be some delicious green sauce left.  Keep it.
2.  In a wok, heat 1 tbsp EVOO and brown the onions.
3.  Add the zucchini and cook, stirring until they color nicely, but don't become mush.
4.  Add the tomatoes, the fish, and the rest of the blended sauce.  If it gets too dry, add some heavy cream.
5.  Turn heat down to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Serve with rice or quinoa.
In my own plate, I added a dash of Reunion chili gave me that feeling.
You know, that feeling where you don't want it to stop, but you feel like you almost can't handle it, and your mind and body both lose control of their deeply guarded secrets, because it's too good to be true...
Everybody should know that feeling.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sesame Crusted Seared Almost Ahi

It fusionned with me.
So real Ahi tuna is not available because in order to let the magnificent creatures reproduce enough to obtain an acceptable population of the species, but we do have something called Thonine, which is a smaller version, red as well, and with tender flesh.
In my opinion, the only acceptable way of cooking the tuna is to lightly brush it with some sesame oil and fresh pepper, black and white sesame crust it and sear it, which for the 1 1/2" thick mofo I had, took about 3 minutes on each side.
Otherwise, eat it raw ina pokatini, sushi, sashimi, maki, or just bite into it.
Hmmmm! I like that animalistic approach!
450g of meaty redness

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Egg Keema

If and when I can get my hands on a decent mango deal, I'll be making Mango Pulissery and experience multigasms all day long.  Today is not that day...but all is not lost!  This egg keema just might do the trick but in a different way, activating a different pleasure sensor in my brain.
Aah lucky we are.
This is inspired by the ladies at ShowMetheCurry who always get it perfect.
Serves 4
6 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 bay leaf
1" piece cinnamon
1 black cardamom (I subbed 1/2 tsp nigella)
2 green cardamom
2 cloves
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp grated garlic
1 green chili, minced
2 large tomatoes, puréed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup water or whey
Cilantro for garnish
Ask your kitchen commy to gather all the ingredients and do the chopping while you hardboil the eggs.  The rest goes quite quickly to come together.
1.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.  Cook on high heat for 30s.
2.  Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring, or until translucent.
3.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook 5 minutes longer, or until onions start to brown.
4.  Add the green chili and tomato purée, then add all the powders.  Stir and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
5.  Add the peas and water if too dry.  I added bean juice from my Kala Chana cooking in the crock pot nearby.  mmmmmm.   Cook until peas are bite tender.
6.  Add the sliced egg and heat through a few minutes.
Serve with cilantro and some other extra special things.  I had a mix of basmati and thai red rice on hand.  It's not very traditional, but it worked well!  I just received word that this weekend will be Indian as well.. so I guess it's thali week this week!!  Woot!

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Miso Butter

Miso happy miso hungry miso h...
There is something about miso that is comforting and almost addictive.  I know I'll eat miso soup even when it's 100° outside just because I crave that sublty salty earthy umami flavor which knows no season nor temperature.  So then I bought miso paste and used it once...and then had no idea what to do with it because apparently, miso soup is NOT just miso paste and water with floating goodies and seaweed.  It's not even vegetarian, contrary to what I had always thought.  If you want to make it homemade, you'd better have a lot of time and also a Japanese market near you for all those other ingredients you've never heard of...unless you're Japanese..or more culturally aware than I am.
So when I discovered you can mix butter and miso paste together and cook meat and vegetables in it, a whole new path with several doors appeared in front of me!  Today I'm opening 2 and trying it on chicken breast for grilling, and veggies with soba noodles for tossing.
2 tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp brown miso paste
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece ginger
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1.  Blend everything but the sesame together until smooth.
2.  Stir in the sesame
3.  Use as marinade or for stir frying veggies or tossing soba noodles or all of the above.
The meat method was a big hit!  So much flavor!!!!

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Dip

I love it when people have no clue what to do with their vegetables...and end up donating them to me.  As if the conclusion to their thought process was: my cauliflower will have a better life with you.
It is probably true.  I don't often get to work with a whole head of fresh cauliflower, so when I do, I want to make it sublime.
My magic bullet will help me make it into a wonderful dip that will also be enjoyed by the donor.
Inspired by Off the Meathook
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
8 oz (235g) cream cheese
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
2 cups shredded cheddar (I'll be shredding with the bullet)
1 tsp mustard
4 dashes worcechestershire
2 pinches salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
20 grinds fresh pepper
1.  Place the florets on a baking sheet and roast at 500°F 260°C for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F 175°C for another 20 minutes or until soft.
2.  Let cool to avoid burning yourself and purée until smooth.
3.  Add the rest of the ingredients and purée again until smooth.
4.  Tranfer mixture into a baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes or until crusty and bubbly.
5.  Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve with carrot sticks, celery, pita, radishes, cucumber, tortilla chips, bread.. whatever you can use to dip into this heavenly mixture and bring it to you mouth!
My donor liked it so much she ended up bringing some home with her.

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Sea Bream à la Plancha

What's that you say? Buy 2 get 1 free?  Count me in!! Those babies are going to spend some time bathing in a spa treatment marinade before laying down to sizzle on my plancha.  It's only just after breakfast and I can't wait to get this going, so I'm going to start with the marinade to get my juices flowing.  The marinade is Spanish style, which is perfect for summer.
3 sea bream (dorade) gutted and scaled
4 tbsp EVOO
Juice from 1 lemon
Drizzle basalmic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tsp crushed piment d'espelette or chili powder
A few cracks black pepper
Pinch of salt
1.  Make a few diagonal cuts on each side of the fish.  This will let the marinade come in contact with the flesh.
Oooh hello there!
2.  Place the fish in a dish and pour on the marinade.  With your hands massage the marinade into the fish , making sure you get the inside of it as well.  This is what I call spa treatment.  If you don't put any love into it, how can you expect it to return the favor?
3.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at leat 15 minutes, turning them once.  Mine are going to be in there for a few hours.
4.   Heat the plancha to 180°C 350°F.  Cook each bream for 5 minutes on each side, basting with the marinade left in the dish.

I used about 1 tbsp of the marinade for my Med sardines that are patiently waiting their turn as well...oooooooh!

This was wonderful.
I ate it all with my fingers and it was the best thing in the world!

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Watermelon Basil Feta Salad

Watermelon reminds me of home...
I have distant memories of eating watermelon poolside or even submerged during the hot summer desert days I'd spend with my partner in crime, Jess.
So now I'm making it sexier than a poolside child's snack and serving it with feta.  Feta is one of those toppings that makes things tangy, and fresh basil makes things sophisticated.  I like playing around with flavors and I think this one is a big hit.  I didn't really measure the ingredients..they just fusionned together before my eyes, but I'll try to make it reproductable.  Is that a word?
2 cups chopped watermelon
2 Tbsp diced red onion
Handful crumbled feta
2 tbsp chopped basil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp basalmic vinegar
Handful halved cherry tomatoes
Some fresh cracked pepper
Drizzle chili oil

Mmmm refreshing

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Mandalay Carrot Zucchini Salad

Another Burma edition I am enjoying with a piece of meat.
This book is teaching me a whole new way of seeing salads...with tons of crunchy toppings.  I think this could extend to many other raw veggies beyond carrots and zucchini..or even tossed with some noodles!  I didn't add salt as the original recipe does.  It is salty enough with the dried shrimp and fish sauce.  I love the earthy umami flavor this has!
Surprisingly, I had all the ingredients on hand.
Adapted from p. 62
2 cups mix of grated carrots and zucchini
1 or more Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp dried shrimp powder
1 tsp toasted chickpea flour
1 tsp minces green chili or pinch of chili powder
1Tbsp crushed peanuts
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp fried shallots
Toss it all together and serve chilled.


This gets saltier the next day.  I think next time I will skip the fish sauce completley and add rice vinegar instead.
Or maybe it seemed salty compared to the watermelon salad.
It pairs quite nicely with some cod liver.  That doesn't sound too great, but it's like the foie gras of the sea!

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