25 March 2011

Prawns in Spicy Coconut Masala

Sorry, no picture. But its a reddish coconut curry.

1 lb (0.45kgs) prawns
2 tbl spn fresh/frozen coconut
9-10 red chillies (if you can handle more, increase it)
1/2 tea spn coriander seeds
3-4 teppal/triphala
2-3 kokum pieces

Grind the coconut with red chillies, coriander seeds to a very smooth paste. Do not add too much water (this would be ideal in an Indian mixer, but I made it in my blender). In a thick bottomed pan, mix the paste with prawns, kokum,triphala and salt. Cook it on a low heat till prawns are done, about 6-9 minutes. Don't overcook the prawns or they will become chewy.

12 March 2011

homemade thin crust mushroom pizza!

homemade thin crust pizza! by moreMirchi
homemade thin crust pizza! a photo by moreMirchi on Flickr.
My first pizza - very exciting. Even though it doesn't look like a prize it sure tasted good :) ofcourse, also more so since I made it! I made the pizza dough with a mix of wheat and white flour which made the dough a bit dry. Next time, I'll try with all white flour.

Makes 2 large individual sized pizzas

Pizza dough
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup luke warm water + a little more to help knead

In a big bowl, mix flour, salt and yeast. Then add the oil and water and knead for a good 4-5 mins until it forms a smooth ball of dough. Use a bit more water if the dough is too dry.

Rub the bowl with olive oil, place the ball of dough back in, cover and let sit in a warm place for a couple of hours. Longer the better until the ball has roughly doubled in size. I heated my oven to 200 deg and then shut it off to place the dough in.

After a couple of hours, gently massage the ball of dough with the palms of your hand. Then place it back in the bowl and let sit for another 20 mins.

Now, gently roll out the dough. Use your hands to stretch the dough into a rough circular or rectangular shape. The point is to get it evenly thin.

Tomato sauce
1 14-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves crushed and minced
1 tsp oregano and thyme
1/2 cup water

In a saucepan, heat a tbsp of olive oil and cook garlic until lightly browned. Add tomato, dried herbs, water, salt and pepper. Cook down the mixture to about 1/4 cup. Now add wine and cook down the tomato mixture to about 1/4 cup.

Pizza toppings
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 cups of grated and/or thinly sliced cheese, I used a mix of Manchego and Pecorino

Assembling the pizza
Preheat oven to 500 deg. Sprinkle a bit of corn flour on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil and place the pizza dough on it. Spread the tomato sauce, mushrooms, cheese and onions. Bake for 10 mins or so until the crust is browned and crispy and the cheese is lightly bubbling. Serve with salad.

Steamed Broccoli with toasted sesame seeds

1 head broccoli, split into bit sized florets
2 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam broccoli until its tender enough to spear through with a fork. In a bowl stir in the sesame seeds, oil, salt and pepper. Serve hot!

07 March 2011

Spicy eggplant and pepper in black bean sauce

3 Asian eggplants
1 red pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chili bean paste, I got mine at Whole Foods
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Mirin or any rice wine
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Cilantro, for garnish - scallions work well too

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise, then slice each length into quarters. Similarly chop pepper into strips as well.

In a small bowl, mix together chicken stock, chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, and sugar. Set aside.

Dry roast eggplant in a pan until the pieces start turning brown. This helps in making the eggplant less absorbant to oil.

In a wok, heat oil. Add eggplants, red pepper and stir-fry until outsides become golden brown and insides begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and ground red pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Pour in stock-sauce mixture and mix well. Allow sauce to simmer for 2 minutes and eggplant to absorb sauce. Stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken sauce. Remove from heat, plate, and garnish.

04 March 2011

Mussels in white wine sauce

My idea of comfort food in winter is beer, frites and mussels at Hopleaf. But it is a bit of a hike from Bucktown to Uptown so here is my attempt to recreate mussels in wine sauce. Surprisingly quick and delicious!

Serves 2 main courses
2 lbs of mussels, I got them at whole foods
1 cup dry white wine or vermouth, I used the latter
1/2 cup chicken broth (or fish broth, if you have it on hand)
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cream
3 tbsp chopped parsely
1/2 tsp dried thyme

First, if you are not using the mussels on the day of purchase - store them in a bowl over a bag of ice. Cover it with a damp cloth and place it on the bottom most shelf of the fridge where its the coolest. Be careful to not store mussels in a closed plastic bag because they need to be able to breathe. The damp cloth keeps them moist against the dryness of the fridge. They will keep for 24 hours.

When ready to cook, clean the mussels. Look for ones that are open. Tap lightly on the shell, healthy ones will close their shells, sometime pretty slowly. Those that don't close, take a quick sniff - if it smells like bad fish then discard. Few mussels will have a weedy thready thingy called a beard sticking out their side. Yank it sharply to remove. It's pretty harmless so don't obsess over getting each strand out. Run the mussels under cold water but be careful not to let stand submerged in water.
  1.  Add butter and oil to a hot pot over medium heat. When the butter melts add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent.
  2.  Add vermouth, broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer it for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add mussels, stir and cover. Let cook for 4 mins.
  4. Add chopped parsley and cover to cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add cream, stir and turn off the heat. All the mussels should be open at this point. Discard ones that are still closed.
  6. Enjoy with crusty french peasant bread!

03 March 2011

Olive oil crisp

 by moreMirchi
a photo by moreMirchi on Flickr.
This is honestly sooo good. It is slightly savory and nutty with toasted sesame seeds and bursts of sweet with crystal sugar on it. I tried it the first time in Seattle and much to my delight found it again at a Dominick's here in Chicago.

Dressing your greens

Lately, I have been experimenting with different flavors of dressings in my salad. I really like two of the four I've tried so far and find myself going back to these often. I make a small amount, store it in an airtight glass jar and use when needed. A jar usually lasts about 4 days.

Source: America's Test Kitchen

Basic vinaigrette: makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsps red or white wine vinegar
2 tsps minced red onion (or shallot)
2 tsps Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsps minced fresh tarragon, dill, basil or oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp pepper

Variation: Balsamic vinaigrette
Substitute blasamic vinegar for the wine vinegar and use oregano. Reduce garlic to 1/2 clove.

Lemon vinaigrette
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
3 tbsps fresh lemon juice
2 tsps minced red onion
2 tsps dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsps minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Shake all the ingredients in a jar with a tight lid.

02 March 2011

Rosemary crackers

I am snacking on one as I blog the recipe. I am literally copying the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, so I can keep track of foods passing my kitchen. And she has better pictures!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round - shape can be rustic; dough should be thin.

Lightly brush top with some oil and sprinkle sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 10 - 12 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.