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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spirelli Soupe au Pistou

Now here's an interesting twist to the traditional soup with pistou often eaten near the Med in September.
Cut all the veggies you can into spaghetti!
This is going to be a total mind trick.  The unknowing diner may believe he or she is going to dig into something asian, although confused by the aroma, and only upon finishing will they discover that it was soup...and vegetarian.
Oh this kind of thing gets me so excited and silly!
Making soupe au pistou has been on my mind since it was announced on TV that it is now the season for it.  I really don't like tv much, but I love when they talk about fruits and vegetables and how they officially give the go to make certain things.  As I'm writing I realize they do it quite often on French tv.  Anyway, as I was making a batch of paneer, I figured making this soup would be a perfect use for my whey.  Making this soup a top level soup would be to make it using Mr. Spirelli as mich as possible.  Actually, I think Mr. Spirelli should ALWAYS be used as much as possible.
Yield: a ton especially if you are the only soup eater in the house.
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 very large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dried thyme
Handful parsley
1 chopped tomato
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 very large or 2 small carrots, spirelli'd
1 long turnip, spirelli'd
1 large zucchini, spirelli'd
handful peas
1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked then cooked
red pepper flakes
large handful grated parmesan
4 cups (1L) water, whey or stock
1 bunch fresh basil
3-4 large garlic cloves
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 small tomato
1.  In 1 tbsp EVOO, sautée the onions and bay leaf until onions are translucent.
2.  Add the garlic, thyme, and parsley and cook, stirring for another minute.
3.  Add the celery,  the part of the carrots, turnip, and zucchini leftover and chopped after the spirelli'ing and cook stirring for 5 minutes, stirring.
4.  When things start sticking, add the tomatoes and parsley and a little whey.. just enough to cover.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
5.  Meanwhile, make your pistou.  Blend together all the ingredients.  Ok that didn't take 10 minutes, especially if you have a Magic Bullet, but you can do the dishes you didn't get around to doing during this time.
6.  Add the rest of the whey, bring to a boil, then add the spirelli'd ingredients and simmer for another 10 minutes.
7.  Add the beans and peas.  At this point, add copious amounts of pepper and 2 Tbsp pistou.  Taste and add salt and adjust the seasoning.

Serve topped with fresh pistou, parmesan, and red pepper flakes.
I have to admit this makes a very large quantity, but it freezes well so it can be easily whipped out during a cold evening when you really don't have time to do anything else.

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Leek & Mushroom Pizza

What I like about pizza is that there are no rules, and lack of rules breeds creativity.  I also like that it can be happy hour, appetizer, or main course fair.  Some even go through to dessert, but that's not really my calling.
With that said, while trying to figure out what to serve for my happy hour dinner I hosted last night, I figured pizza would be an interesting addition to the hummus & pita, carrot & cucumber sticks, radishes, pappadums and coconut chutney.
Haha I just realized how Contintental my happy hours can be!

Toppings to my pizza dough:
pesto made of ground pumpkin seeds, parsley, garlic, cream, parmesan, pepper, and truffled EVOO
1 leek, sliced and sautéed in truffled EVOO
7 brown mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in truffled EVOO
ripped turkey ham (optional, but it was to avoid calling it 'vegetarian' in front of certain people)
handful shredded swiss
sliced feta

Cooked at 480°F 250°C for 10 minutes to perfection.

I would have added an egg or 2, because we all know pizza is the best with egg, but I knew I was going to cut very small slices and I didn't want a mess.

The truffled EVOO gives such depth of flavor.  The idea of leeks on a pizza is just genius.  Plus, they're in season and there really is no excuse not to have any on hand.  The feta takes it to another level.  Everybody was pleasantly surprised by the blend of flavors.
Although I burn myself every single time I take pizza out of the oven, nothing matches the satisfaction of eating your own homemade pizza.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ginger Kaya Cookies

A friend of mine brought me back something magical from Malaysia.
Seri Kaya.
This intriguing caramel custardy texture made from coconut and eggs is translated as coconut jam, but it's really much much more than that.  It is somewhat like asian dulce de leche but with a nice subtle coconut flavor, and it's dairy free.
In Malaysia, they eat it on toast.  I've tried it that way and it is of course delicious. 
But the voice in my head is putting it in the same category as tahini, peanut butter, and condensed milk...which means I absolutely need to make cookies with it.
If there's anything that goes better with coconut than ginger, please let me know because I'm getting ready for a wild wild ride.  I'm not using a recipe, but I'll jot down whatever naturally develops in my brain.
Yield 33 cookies
190g flour (100g whole wheat + 90g all purpose)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp powdered ginger
100g cassonade or brown sugar
100g butter
1 beaten egg
1 tsp maple syrup
100g kaya + more for topping
3 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
50g dried coconut
Chopped cashews for topping
1.  Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and powdered ginger together and set aside.
2.  Cream the butter with the sugar, then add the egg, maple syrup, kaya, and fresh ginger.
3.  When the mixture is homogenous, add the coconut and incorporate well.
4.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.  Refridgerate for 10 minutes to make the dough easier to handle.
5.  Preheat the oven to 350°F or 175°C.
6.  Scoop tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet.  Be sure to leave enough space between the cookies.
 7.  Make a well with your thumb (or any other finger of your choice) into the center of each cookie.  Add as much kaya as you can into the well.  I was able to get a little over 1/4 tsp into each cookie.
8.  Sprinkle chopped cashews onto the cookies.  I made 3 different visuals.  One with the cashews around the the well, another all over the top, and another with them kneaded into the dough.
9.  Cook for 12-14 minutes and transfer to a wired rack for cooling.
I'm so full of kaya right now.  It's so addicting it draws you toward it and asks you nicely to eat it out of the can with a spoon.  It says "pleaase please taste me."
The cookies are cooling right now so I haven't tasted them yet... I did, however eat a large quantity of the dough and it's delicious gingery goodness.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spirelli this, Spirelli that

The Spirelli is probably my favorite kitchen toy. As far as giving me visual and textural plate satisfaction, the Spirelli wins.
Above is beet spaghetti (with a squeeze of lemon) alongside a slice of Quinoa Prasopita.  I subbed quinoa for coarse semolina and it came out just lovely.  
The Spirelli works well with carrots, too.  I made a nice side to my steak the other day using carrots and cucumber, lightly sprinkled with cumin, ginger powder, and tossed with feta and chopped parsley.
There are endless opportunities for the vegetables coming face to face with the Spirelli.
I have a long hard vegetable just waiting to be "sharpened" by my beloved toy
...the white turnip.  
I just need a good plan and it's going to blow me away.
Oooh I can't wait!

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Plancha Beets and Cabbage

Nothing beats beets.. and when they are caramelized in a bit of Basalmic to heighten the sex appeal of their own juices..
it's as if angels were feeding me...
Sea Bass is for now my favorite meal fish on the plancha.
I say meal fish.. because I consider any shells or crustaceans beings as happy hour fish..along with sardines.
Sardines are happy hour.. sea bass is main course.
Don't argue.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Spirelli Zucchini Spaghetti

It's a delicious jedi mind trick.
Just lightly toss with EVOO, grated garlic, parsley, pepper
Stir fry for 3-5 minutes,
Then toss with parmesan or crushed pine nuts or both...
Al dente spaghetti full of flavor and extra healthy.
The plateful pictured is the yield of only 1 zucchini!
Spirelli has just made vegetables even more fun!

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Friday, September 20, 2013


I'm not sure how "civilized" people eat these, but I find they taste best when I carefully spread them open with my hands..
then delicately insert my tongue..
and suck the flesh into my mouth...
softly using my teeth if needed.

I absolutely DO NOT use a fork or spoon.  Sacriledge!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Black Beans & Rice

There is something magical about the simplicity of this dish.  It is bursting with flavor, yet, there's really not much to it.  I suppose there's a meat element missing, but nobody in this house noticed.  What was noticed was more of a.. you used the crockpot and we're not having Indian food tonight?  Yes, something made me want a mexican.. dinner, tonight.
I love beans.. have I made that clear yet?
This dish is good with toppings or as a topping or filling.  It's healthy and delicious.. and have I mentioned simple?  Compared to all my Indian recipes, this dish has very few ingredients.
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
4 cups water
1 chopped tomato
1 chopped onion
1/2 minced jalapeño
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small can corn
1 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 chicken or veggie bouillon cube
2 Tbsp EVOO
Fresh cracked pepper
1 cup total rice (6 oz soaked and drained red rice and 2 oz basmati, but use whatever)
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 onion, thinly sliced in rounds
1/2 onion, whole
1 tomato
3 cloves garlic
1 chicken or veggie bouillon cube
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 jalapeño
1 cup water
shredded savoy cabbage (or green cabbage)
chopped cucumber
dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt)
shredded swiss

Ok, it seems like a lot of ingredients, but they repeat themselves, so there are actually very few.

1.  Cook the beans in the water in the crockpot on low for 8-9 hours.  Set it up in the morning.  Do what you need to do to get your day on.  Come home.  Bam, you've got perfectly cooked black beans.  Don't believe me?  Try it.
2.  Prepare the rice.  Heat 2 Tbsp EVOO in a wok.  Add the rice and cook until the white is translucent, then add the sliced onion.
3.  While that is happening, blend the 1/2 onion with the tomato, half jalapeño, garlic, bouillon, and pepper.
4.  Add the blended mixture to the rice.  Turn heat on medium and cook until absorbed.  Then add the water and turn on low and cover.  Cook until absorbed.
5.  While you are waiting for the rice, heat 2 Tbsp EVOO in another wok, and add the chopped onion.
6.  When translucent, add the chopped tomatoes, bouillon cube, jalapeño, corn, oregano, and cumin.  Cook until tomatoes become mushy and transfer to the bean pot.

Garnish with whatever lovely garnish you happen to have handy.  I felt cucumber was perfect for my mood tonight.
And you?

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spaghetti Squash

How strange and intriguing.
I decided to steam it whole in my pressure cooker.  After 15 minutes under pressure, I tried to stick a knife into it and it resisted, so it went in for another 10 minutes.
I carefully removed it with oven mitts, then sliced it in half lengthwise and removed the pulp and seeds.  The seeds are lovely.  I decided to keep them and roast them.
Then, I scraped the flesh with a fork.  Low and behold, angel hair!  One squash gave me a whole plateful of angel hair, and a small bowl of non stranded cooked flesh.  Which I will of course put to good use.
I tasted it naked, expecting a strong pumpkin-like flavor.  It's actually subtle, but definately recognizeable as part of the squash family.
 I'll be tossing it with rocket pesto and sundried tomatoes alongside some roasted chicken.
It kept its al dente texture, which is nice.  I was afraid it would become mushy.  It reminded me of cellophane noodles.. which means next time, I'll be making Pad Thai with these.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spirelli Cucumber Salad

Spirelli has been on my mind since I laid eyes upon it.  There it was, on display, looking sexy in all its different colors, luring me in.  Fascinated by the gadget that can within seconds transform any firm vegetable into spaghetti, I had to have it.  Only I thought I could get a better price on the internet, so I didn't buy it.  The internet did not come through, and I was left with regret and anticipating the next time our paths would cross.
Today was my lucky day.
The first thing I spaghetticized was cucumber.  I used about half a cucumber, laid it over some arugula, topped it with crumbled feta, cracked pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and a drizzle of EVOO.
The spirelli will be turning all my simple little vegetables into incredibly beautiful meals full of texture.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Grilled Veggie Whole Wheat Pizza

My last pizza experiences were fabulous.  I'm amazed at the results the pizza stone gives to the dough, and how perfect it feels when you cut it and eat it.  Pizza used to intimidate me.  I feel I have conquered the beast.
This time I integrated whole wheat flour.  Next time, it will be completely whole wheat.  I was afraid the texture would be different than all purpose flour, but it was still just wonderfully perfect.  If my 100% whole wheat goes well, I'll have to try incorporating buckwheat flour.  Oooh.
Ah yes.. I found spaghetti squash today and it's getting me all excited and dandy for tomorrow's meal.  Double Oooh!
Back to the pizza.  I went the grilled veggie, ham, and egg route.  Eggs should be mandatory on pizza. 
100g all purpose flour
130g whole wheat flour
5g (1/2 tsp) salt
15cL (5 fl oz) warm water
5g sugar
10g (2 tsp) yeast
2 tbsp EVOO
Cornmeal for rolling and base
Onions sautéed in EVOO and Basaalmic vinegar
Roasted zucchini
Roasted tomatoes
Roasted green bell
Sliced mozzarella
Egg yolks

When doing eggs on pizza, make sure to add them toward the end.  I added mine for 5 minutes and it was a little long.  2 minutes would have been perfect.
Either way, this 30cm pizza was enough for 2.5 people.  We were both really hungry but didn't make it to the end.
I'm going to gladly volunteer to be the half person tomorrow at breakfast.
Did I just shock some French people?  Pizza for breakfast?
Yes and yes!!!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kale Frittata

 Ok ok, so I thought I had finally found kale here in France, but then I realized it was mere chou frisé or savoy cabbage.  I've been researching and kale is only starting to be popular here.  Well, at least in Paris.  The closest I can get to kale from Lyon is in Ferney-Voltaire, which is almost 2 hours away!   The thing is, I left the US before it became the "it" thing, so I have no idea what it tastes like... except for the rare Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana episodes.  Omg salivary flashback!  That was probably the only thing I ever went to Olive garden for.  Endless bowls.  Aaah the memories.
Anyway, the greener leaves off of my chou frisé have become kale to me, and I decided to sautée them with some EVOO, garlic, and pepper before pouring my frittata mixture all over them and popping them into the oven.
And it was delicious.
And I will make it again.
I may need to be corrected on what exactly we call a frittata.   An omelette/spanish tortilla/flan/crustless quiche.  It really is all the same to me.  And those green morsels of goodness are so tasty I could integrate them into almost anything.
Serves 4-6
8 eggs
250g garlic evoo sautéed kale (or the next best thing)
1 chopped tomato
2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg
handful parmesan
1 cup or more whole milk (I didn't measure)
crumbled feta
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
1.  Wisk the eggs with the milk, sage, nutmeg, parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.  Eyeball it for thickness and add milk or cream if necessary.  I'm not being very precise.  Lo siento.
2.  Preheat the oven to 350°F 175°C.
3.  In a pie tin or dish or skillet, pour a bit of the egg mixture, add in the kale and chopped tomato, and cover with the rest of the egg mixture.  Add crumbled feta over the top and cook for about 30 40 minutes.
4.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

I served mine with home fries, but a nice salad would have done the trick as well.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Katti Mung Dal

When you bring your work home, you tend to spend more time working than you would at the office.  Time flies as you concentrate and all of a sudden your stomach growls, telling you it's probably time to get off your fesseps and make some dinner.  Well, yesterday, I realized too late.  I felt like I betrayed my inner self by not spending any time in my happy place.  Today, I'm making up for that lost time.  Oh does it feel good to cook again!  Tonight's dinner is rocking the building (the aroma already is doing it).  I felt Indian was appropriate because.. well, I don't really need a reason.  I was actually fully absorbed by my Thai Cuisine book, but nothing really called out to me.  I didn't know what I wanted, but I wanted it to be comforting.  And then comforting became the theme, and I naturally switched to dal.  Any dal any day would blow me away.  Today, I'm featuring yellow mung dal.  It's a tangy dal recipe using tamarind concentrate, and to which I added a few of my own ideas.  The original recipe is with masoor dal (coral lentils), which I'm out of.
Adapted from SMTC
Serves 3 as a main, 6 as a side
1 cup yellow mung dal (or masoor dal) thoroughly washed
3 cups whey or water
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
some chili powder
1 sprig curry leaves
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tsp amchur
1 tsp baobab powder (secret weapon)
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish (I left out)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chilis
1 sprig curry leaves
1.  Cook the dal with the whey, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili powder, and curry leaves in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes under pressure.  If you are doing it stovetop, cover and simmer for about an hour, checking for doneness.
2.  When done, add the tamarind, amchur, baobab powder and salt to taste.  Let it boil once.
3.  Make the seasoning.  Heat the oil in a wok.  Add the cumin seeds until they sputter, then add the chilis and curry leaves and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the seasoning to the dal.
The taste test is fabulous.  I love the tanginess.  (Not everybody does, but I don't really care)
The only sad part is now I'm out of curry leaves.. and it's a battle every time I need to go to a specialty store.  I burned myself in the exact same spot as I did last week, but on the right side.  There is something strange going on.
I'm serving this as a side with
Sabut Masala Turkey (using turkey breast instead of chicken thighs)
Mattar Paneer Curry (adding carrots and replacing the mint+cilantro with kasoori methi..MmmmMmm!)
Jeera rice and Rotis.

I've been having tons of trouble posting since my internet has been going on and off.  My heart goes on....

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Parsley Chicken Pesto

I love my magic bullet.  It is so easy to bust out a sauce or chutney with it.  Easy to clean, fun to watch, pleasant to use.  I'm even extremely gentle with it since I'm afraid to break it or overload it.
Tonight, I did exactly the same thing as my Rocket Pesto, but
Subbed flat leaf parsley for arugula
Roasted pumpkin seeds for pinenuts
added a dash of cream
In the pasta I used roasted chicken legs, a handful of cêpes, and fresh tomatoes instead of dried.

This is a very interesting variation.  It has that addicting aftertaste you get when eating escargot (without all the beurre) yet still feels like a pesto with the nutty parmesan flavor.  Flat leaf parsley has so much more flavor than curly parsley... je oualide.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Indian Shakshuka

I wasn't sure what to do exactly with all the tomato onion chutney I had left.
I was thinking of the pasta route, but those eggs were calling my name.. saying, poach me please! Let me cook in that sexy sauce you placed me next to in the fridge.. please!!!
Ok ok, eggs.  I will shakshuka you with some sesame ginger fries.
Go now, and be full of flavor and spice, and give me pleasure.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dosas with Tomato and Coconut Chutney

Who says you can't have breakfast at 4:30pm?  I made a sorry attempt at dosas from the ready made Gitts mix.  I don't think the mix is my problem.  I've never been very good at making pan fried flat things like pancakes or crêpes.  I can make rotis, but that's it and it doesn't really fall into the same category since its dry like bread.  Dosas will be left to the pros.. or until I get the proper dosa cooking pans...or get street food in Mumbai.
All of that doesn't matter much, because they taste great, and the best part is the chutney anyways, right?
This afternoon's cooking therapy was just that.  Deep document classification therapy.  It's also a way for me to stop thinking about my full leg encounter with stinging nettles... which are still incredibly stinging right now.  Why oh why did I decide to wear shorts and run through an unkown part of the forest?
 Coconut Chutney
(adapted from SMTC)
1/2 cup chana dal (chickpeas) dry roasted and soaked during prep time
3 cups shredded coconut, dry roasted (can use desiccated)
2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
slit green chilis (I used 1 jalapeño)
1 bunch cilantro
salt to taste
4 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
enough water to blend everything
Use the same wok to dry roast the ingredients and set aside.  After the coconut, roast the ginger and chilis together for a few seconds, then set aside.  Add the cilantro and cook until it lightly wilts.
Blend everything together, adding water as needed.  Add the seasoning before serving.
This makes a lot of chutney.  I have 2 large portions in the freezer, and 1 portion leftover in the fridge.
 Tomato Onion Chutney
(adapted from SMTC)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 small red onions, chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes (or fresh, chopped)
salt to taste
chili powder to taste
Heat the oil in a wok and cook the onions until soft.  Add the tomatoes and cook until they are mushy and the oil separates.  Remove from heat, add salt and chili powder.  When cooled a bit, blend.  Add the seasoning before serving.
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 dried red chilis
2 tsp urad or toor dal
1/4 tsp asofetida (hing)
1 sprig curry leaves
Heat the oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds, then the chilis, toor dal, and hing.  When the seeds start to crackle, add the curry leaves and cook for a few seconds.  Spoon over the chutneys.
 Dosa with much potential while cooking.
100g Gitts Dosai mix
6 fl oz water
coconut oil for brushing
Lightly brush a large cold flat pan with oil, then spoon in the batter, starting from the center and making circular motions outwards to get a nice thin dosa, not like mine.  Place on medium heat and cook until it comes together, sprinkling a few drops of oil onto the top.  When it looks crispy, fold and serve.
The 2 out of 4 dosas that came out more or less looking like dosas and less like scrambled eggs.
Served with some bhakarwadi, chutneys, and kamman dhoklas.

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