Sunday, January 31, 2010

Double Corn Confetti Soup

This recipe is a result of combining tradition and my prediliction for never letting go of pantry staples.

What feels like eons ago I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a wonderful city with a population a little less than half a million people but with such a small town feel. One of the unexpected pleasures of living there was its ethnic diversity, ranging from the predominant Scandinavians to a sizable African American population along with substantial numbers of Mexican Americans and recent political refuges, namely Somalis and Hmong. But what really struck me was the fact that Native Americans are a major presence, not so much for their numbers but their political and historical influence in the state and Minneapolis' twin city, the capital of St. Paul.

I always knew that "Native American" was a term that encompassed hundreds of different American Indian tribes but living in Minnesota was a daily education. I learned from the different schools and services in the city that the Ojibwa (also known as the Chippewa or Anishinaabe) originally lived in the eastern part of Minnesota and the Lakota (part of the Dakota Sioux) were in the West. But what all of the tribes in Minnesota had in common was using corn as a basic stable in their diet.

While corn is most associated with summer eating, one of my Indian friends told me that he always dried some of this corn in order to have it in a winter soup that his grandmother used to make for him when he visited her on the reservation. I was delighted with the idea of this form of food preservation and dried some of my own corn in order to have that taste of summer in a winter soup. Although it took me several years to finally create a soup with that dried corn it was such a treat! The soup was sweet and savory and eating it with the memories of my friend made it that much better!

Double Corn Confetti Soup

1/2 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fennel, chopped
1 large (or 2 small) purple potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dried corn
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
4 quarts of water

Saute onion in olive oil until soften. Add carrots, celery and fennel and cook another 3-5 minutes until softened. Add thyme and cook another minute. Add water and dried corn and bring to boil. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes until corn rehydrates. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender. Add frozen corn and cook another 2-3 minutes until soup returns to boil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Meat Stuffed Canneloni

Homemade pasta never fails to impress people, myself included and even when I am the one prepareing it. It simply tastes so good and satisfies so well that I have come to do it on a more regular basis. And despite the fact that I have been making it for over 20 years it wasn't until the other night that it hit me; homemade pasta really is not as time consuming as it seems to loom in my mind (and for others less accustomed to making homemade noodles).

In 10-12 minutes I had mixed the dough, kneaded it, and set it aside to rest wrapped in a damp cloth. As it rested for about 15 minutes I prepared a meat filling, a quick tomato sauce and returned to roll out the pasta. I don't use a pasta machine because I love the control of using a rolling pin but also because I hate having to clean up the parts of a machine!

For this batch I used half of the dough to make 5 meat stuffed canneloni and used the rest of the dough to make a quick cheese ravioli with some fresh sage. I took the canneloni to work for lunches for a couple of days and felt very smug about my 1 hour's worth of work that produced such a homey, delicious meal!

Meat Stuffed Canneloni

Pasta (double this recipe to make more than 5 canneloni)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
2 teaspoons milk

Meat Sauce
4 sweet Italian sausage
1/2 onion, minced
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup tomatoes, diced

2 cups prepared tomato sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Make egg pasta according to instructions here. Wrap in damp dish cloth and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break open sausage and remove casing. Crumble sausage into skillet and cook until browned. Add onion and cook another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons of milk and cook on high until it is absorbed. Remove from heat.

Roll pasta out as thin as possible. Cut into 5 x 8 inch rectangles. Stuff each sheet with 3 tablespoons meat sauce and gently roll into a log, placing seam side down in baking pan. Make white sauce by melting butter in skillet and stirring in flour. Add 1/2 of milk and blend in well. Once all of milk is absorbed add remaining milk and blend in. Blend in until all of milk is absorbed. Cook another 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens. Pour tomato sauce over stuffed canneloni, pour white sauce over top of tomato sauce, spread around evenly. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is browned and sauce is bubbling.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shredded Purple Turnip Salad

One of the best parts of the local food explosion and the proliferation of farmers' markets is learning about new vegetables, like the purple turnip. They're sweeter then common turnips and soft and tender like Tokyo turnips (sometimes known as salad turnips).

While I enjoy common purple topped turnips, I love raw veggie salads and these gorgeous purple turnips are wonderful raw. At first glance they look like giant radishes but they are actually sweeter than most radishes. Give them a try if you find them!

Shredded Purple Turnip Salad

2 purple turnips, shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all and toss well.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Spinach Pasta with Gorgonzola and Walnut Sauce

It's the rainy season in Southern California, otherwise known as winter and the temperature doesn't really go below 60 degrees, which is chilly by SoCal standards. While I still have a hard time considering this weather "cold" it does inspire a desire for comfort food and this dish fit the bill.

Cream and walnuts pair so nicely and adding Gorgonzola dulce is an extra decadent touch. Adding it to some spinach pasta with some grated Parmesan cheese really hit the spot. The fact that I was able to prepare it all as the pasta cooked (brown rice pasta takes about 15 minutes to cook) made it a great quick meal!

Spinach Pasta with Gorgonzola and Walnut Sauce

1 lb spinach spaghetti
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Gorgonzola, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt

In sauce pan melt butter on medium low heat. Add cream and Gorgonzola and heat until cheese melts and sauce is almost boiling. Add walnuts and cook another minute or two. Add to cooked, drained pasta and add cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pot Stickers, Two Ways

I love a cooking challenge, whether it be learning how to make things that I had only previously purchased in a store - mustard, vinegar - or whipping up a feast with what I had on hand. But sometimes, you need to throw a figurative wrench at yourself and up the ante. Pot stickers is a case in point.

Sure, I could have gone to the store and bought the round wrappers for making pot stickers, but I didn't feel like getting in the car, driving to the store, hoping that I found a place that carried them. So I hopped on the internet and found the Potstickers/Gyoza Wrappers recipe with detailed instructions. Flour, water, and salt was all it took, and a little self confidence.

Pot Sticker Wrappers
makes about 40-50

3 cups all-purpose flour
7 ounces hot (just off the boil) water
4-5 tablespoons cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Start by combining the salt and flour in a large bowl. Stir the just boiled water into the flour with a large fork, until the mixture looks flaky and crumbly. Slowly mix in the cold water until the dough pulls careful though, it shouldn't be sticky. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes. After the dough has rested, split it into 4-5 parts. Keep the dough you're not using under a damp cloth until ready to roll out. Pinch off about tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten into disk about 1/8 inch thin. Dough is very stretchy, so don't make balls too large.

I had some defrosted ground pork and I found a recipe here for pork pot stickers and once I had finished the wrappers, these were a snap to make. I also had some leftover marinated shiitake mushrooms from making sushi handrolls so I made a mushroom version as well, just substituting the pork for the mushrooms.

Pork or Mushroom Pot Stickers

1/2 pound Napa cabbage, shredded fine
1/2 pound ground pork (lean, but some fat is good) OR 1 cup Marinated Shiitake Mushrooms
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine (mirin) or dry sherry
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
40 to 50 wonton wrappers, preferably 3-inch round
Water for moistening edges of wrappers
2 tablespoons peanut or other cooking oil

Combine pork, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil in a bowl and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop up filling and make small ball. Place in center of won ton wrapper and moisten edges with water using your finger. Close wrapper by folding it over and press edges to seal. Turn sealed won ton with edges pointed up and gently flatten bottom so that the won ton will sit flat; this ensures that it will have a flat base for frying. You can ruffle the edge for effect, but it's not necessary.

Once stuffed, you can freeze pot stickers. Place on sheet pan and freeze individually. Once frozen, you can place them in a freezer bag and they won't stick to each other. Fully defrost to cook.

Sear bottoms of pot stickers in skillet with some high heat cooking oil (olive, sunflower, coconut) on high heat. Reduce heat and add 1/4 cup of water and cover immediately to steam pot stickers. Serve with dipping sauce of 1 part soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar and grated ginger.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coriander Chutney - Best Indian Condiment Ever

If you have ever eaten at a buffet in an Indian restaurant you probably are already acquainted with coriander chutney; it is the vibrant green sauce that is almost always next to the yogurt sauce in the condiment section. Added to curries and dals, this chutney is the epitome of Indian flavors for me.

While there are probably hundreds of chutney recipes out there (and probably thousands if you account for variations from family to family) my favorite is coriander chutney. Its fresh green taste has just a little bite of spice and yet it acts like lemon juice on fish; it enlivens everything into which it is swirled.

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of cilantro and thus love to spread its deliciousness whenever possible. Since making coriander chutney at home is a cinch I indulge my obsession freely, adding it to cooked rice or barley, smearing it on toast and dabbing it on cooked fish and chicken. Its lovely green color enlivens everything it touches!

Coriander Chutney

2 large bunches cilantro
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 serrano green chili, chopped (or 2 green Thai chilies)
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
6 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons sugar

Dry fry sesame and cumin seeds until they begin to brown, shaking them every 30 seconds so they don't burn. Set aside to cool. Blend with all ingredients in blender or food processor. Refrigerated, it keeps for a few weeks.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Simple Steamed Mussels

Mussels are one of those dishes that, to me, seem strictly to be ordered at a restaurant. I don't know why. Maybe it is because they are traditionally served with French Fries (and I have never made those at home). Or the fear of "scrubbing off the beards" of mussels always intimidated me. My psychological musings aside, it turns out making steamed mussels at home is one of the simplest dishes ever.

As for scrubbing the beards, the fishmonger had already taken care of that, and since these were farmed mussels (but in the ocean) I had little fear of grit. Happily, farmed mussels are the most sustainable type to eat, at least on the Pacific Coast, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Pocket Guide.

Buying them from a local fishmonger at a Farmers' Market made it even more exciting! (fresh and local, how can you beat that!) I felt like a French housewife in Marseilles carrying home 2 lbs of black-n-blue mussels, already savoring which white wine I was going to use in the cooking of these lovelies. While it is a cliche, adding a salad and some French bread made this one of my favorite meals in a long time!

Steamed Mussels

2 lbs mussels, beards scrubbed
1/2 onion, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 1/2 cups white wine (any wine you would drink)
1/4 cup minced parsley

In large stock pot saute onion and garlic in oil or butter until softened. Add wine and bring to boil. Add mussels and cover pot. Steam for 5-8 minutes until mussels open. Sprinkle parsley over shells and serve from pot.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Traditional French Sorrel Soup

Whenever I feel the need for inspiration I simply go to a Farmers' Market. These wonderful places not only tell me what is in season but many small market garden farmers will grow items that are not usually carried in grocery stores, such as multi-colored radishes or unique greens such as Mizuna, Japanese Mustard Greens. The other day I was thrilled to find Sorrel for sale at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. Having read about this distinct French green but never having tried it I decided it was a must buy.

I made this simple but traditional soup and it most definitely has the lemony taste ascribed to it. Serve it with lots of black pepper and make sure to use cream since it pairs so well with it.

Sorrel Soup

1 onion, minced
4 bunches fresh sorrel, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

In large stock pot saute onion in oil or butter until softened. Place sorrel in pot and reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to wilt, about 5-9 minutes. Stir in milk, 1/2 and 1/2, and salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until almost boiling and remove from heat to cool 1-2 minutes. Puree in blender and serve.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Cookies

Although I love oatmeal I'm not always a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies; sometimes I find them a little dry. But I've found the solution; substituting agave nectar for the sugar. What a difference. They're soft, moist and chewy on the inside and still have a crunch along the edges.

I found the recipe on Simply Recipes and left out the spices but added some chopped dark chocolate from a candy bar just to make these even more of a treat. I also increased the flour to account for the liquid sweetener. Below is the recipe halved since I was afraid of eating too many, they were so delicious!

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup flour (all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (rolled oats or quick. Do NOT use instant.)
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate from candy bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large cookie sheets or line with parchment paper or waxed paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and agave until creamy about 3 minutes. Beat in egg. In separate bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, and then stir dry ingredients into butter-agave mixture. Stir in raisins, nuts and chocolate if using. Stir in oats. Spoon out dough by large tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets. Then carefully remove them, using a metal spatula, to a wire rack. Cool completely. They will be quite soft until completely cooled. Store tightly covered. Makes about 1 dozen cookies.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Scallop Stir Fry

Years ago my mother sent me a cookbook on Chinese cooking called Yan-kit's Classic Chinese Cookbook and I read it in one sitting. Not only did this slim volume have great pictures and easy to read recipes (always a must in my cookbooks) but the introduction included both explanations of traditional ingredients and key techniques. I even was able to adapt several of the meat recipes to tofu or seafood since I was a pesco-vegetarian at the time.

Turns out this is one of the best cookbooks out there on Chinese cooking according to many food experts and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in trying to cook this wonderful cuisine. Yan-kit demystifies sauces and cooking techniques, and her recipes demonstrate the rich array of regional cooking that is misleadingly called "Chinese." It turns out my personal affinity for the garlic-ginger-soy sauce-sesame oil stir fry is what makes a dish traditionally Szechuan, rather than the spice of a hot pepper as I had previously supposed.

If you are at all interested in tofu and its various forms I would make this book high on your list to seek out (and you'll probably have to do it online through a used book venue). As a lover of tofu (even raw) I was thrilled to find how diverse its preparation can be. If you are fortunate enough to live near a sizeable Asian population (either in a big city or most often University towns) seek out an Asian specialty grocery store to browse these wonderful ingredients.

This dish was one I made from some leftover vegetables from making hand rolls a few days earlier. I made a slightly sweeter sauce then usual and added some extra chili oil to balance it all out. It paired so well with the scallops!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cremini Mushroom and Onion Tart

I am currently in love with mushrooms and cremini (baby portabellos) are my choice du jour. The size is perfect, their earthy aroma raw or cooked is so enticing, and they have wiggled their way into my favorite comfort food recipes here and here.

Here's another take on the French tart I made recently only this one is without the eggs and I think I like it better this way. Layer cheese, onions, mushrooms and some more cheese and it's delicious!

Cremini Mushroom and Onion Tart

2 cups flour
5 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons ice water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large (or two medium) onions, sliced in half rounds
4 oz cremini mushrooms, cut in 1/2 in slices
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Cut butter into flour using fork or food processor. Add water until dough begins to hold together. Chill in refrigerator at least 15 minutes. Roll out to 1/4 inch thinness between wax paper or parchment paper and transfer to baking sheet. Pinch up edges to create rim.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute onions over very low heat in olive oil for 30-45 minutes until they begin to brown; do not allow to crisp, just allow to slowly brown. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in skillet pan and add sliced mushrooms. Cook over medium high heat until all butter is absorbed, salt liberally. Dry fry another 2 minutes until mushrooms loose fresh color. Remove from pan and set aside. If juice from mushrooms accumulates, drain off.Build tart by placing 2/3 of shredded cheese on bottom of crust, spread to edges. Layer onions on next, spread evenly around. Place mushrooms on top of onions and sprinkle thyme over them. Add remaining cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes and serve. Good cold as well.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sushi Hand Rolls

I love Nori, the toasted seaweed used for making sushi, California rolls and here, hand rolls. Since I discovered it relatively late in life, I guess I'm catching up with years of going without it.

Hand rolls are so much fun because they look beautiful and elegant and yet they are so simple to make and can be fun for a hands on, make-your-own kind of meal. And that's exactly what happened here.

Instead of a traditional New Year's Day sit down dinner with black-eyed peas, greens and pork, I put together a fun variety of items for my guests to stuff their hand roll with: marinated shiitake mushrooms or tofu, fresh cut vegetables and bean sprouts, cilantro and mint sprigs. And of course the zippy condiments of wasabi paste, wasabi mayonaise, pickled ginger, and soy dipping sauce.

Here are some of the basics for making homemade sushi, including sushi rice and dipping sauce.

Sushi Rice

1 cup sushi rice (you can also use short grain brown rice too)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine)

Bring water and rice to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover and cook for 25-30 minutes until water is all absorbed. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Add vinegar and mirin to rice and mix well. Set aside to cool. (If you want to use it right away, spread it out on a sheet pan or in a metal bowl to cool faster.)

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Mix well and serve.

Marinated Shiitake Mushrooms

1/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced in 1/8 inch slices
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin (rice wine)

Heat skillet over high heat. Add sesame oil and heat 1 minute. Add mushrooms and toss in oil. Cook 6-8 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften and brown. When mushrooms begin to stick to pan add mirin (rice wine) to deglaze pan. Cook another 2 minutes and add rice wine vinegar and cook another 2 minutes until all moisture is absorbed. Refrigerate until chilled.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Palak Paneer - Creamed Spinach Indian Style

For years the only dish I ordered at Indian restaurants was Palak Paneer - luscious cubes of cheese buried in creamy spiced spinach. I always thought that I would only find this dish in an authentic Indian kitchen. Imagine how thrilled I was when I first saw a recipe for it and realized that I could do this! And you can too.

This is one of those dishes that impresses people so much that you almost feel guilty taking credit for it. All of the ingredients are fairly ordinary except the garam masala, and you can either purchase that or make some for yourself (it will keep in a tightly sealed jar for up to six months).

When I looked up a hand made garam masala recipe in Yamuna Devi's The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, she listed no less than 8 different regional versions! I ended up creating my own version since I didn't have all of the spices for any one of them. It still turned out wonderful! Also, since it is sometimes hard to fine paneer, I often use firm or extra firm tofu as I did in this case.

Palak Paneer with Tofu

2 bunches fresh spinach (or 1 bunch spinach, 1 bunch of Swiss chard), steamed
1/2 onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 green pepper, cored, chopped
2 tablespoons water
2-4 green chilies, deseeded for less heat, chopped
1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or cream
1-2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 block tofu, cut into cubes

Food process cooked spinach, green pepper, green chilies, and water until it forms wet paste. In skillet pan, saute onion in oil until softened. Add spinach puree and stir in well. Cook 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add tofu and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala and cook couple more minutes. Stir in 1/2 and 1/2 or cream and cook 2-3 minutes until well absorbed. Add salt to taste and serve.

My Garam Masala included the following, toasted and ground in a mortar pestle:
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 whole cardomom pods, cracked open and deseeded
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms over Biscuits

Since I've been making butter from scratch I have been looking for creative ways to use up the resultant buttermilk. Enter these buttermilk biscuits I found on Pinch My Salt.

Make sure you read all of the tips for making the biscuits even if it seems like overkill. I didn't and paid the price. While the biscuits tasted good, they didn't rise as well as they could have (use all purpose flour, don't kneed too long). And make sure that you you roll them out to about 1 inch thick (which means you barely use the rolling pin.)

I put together a quick creamy sauce with some cremini mushrooms and cooked chicken breasts to make a meal and it was stupendous! Obviously, you could leave off the chicken and this would be just as delicious. I think the cremini mushrooms were key to ensuring lots of flavor and the fresh sage added some extra depth as well. Best of all, it only took about 30 minutes from start to finish and it was such a decadent dinner!

Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms over Buttermillk Biscuits

1/2 chicken breast, cooked and chopped
4 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered or halved depending on size
1 shallot, minced
1/2 stalk celery, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup cream
1 cup milk or 1/2 and 1/2
5 fresh sage leaves, chiffonaded

Saute shallot and celery over medium heat in olive oil until softened. Add mushrooms to pan and cook 10-12 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Salt and cook another 2 minutes. Push vegetables to edge of pan. Melt butter in middle of pan and stir in flour. Add cream and stir well to combine. Chicken and milk and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to simmer to allow sauce to thicken. Add fresh sage and adjust for salt and pepper. Serve over cooked biscuits.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Indian Spiced Cauliflower

My confidence in my ability to wing Indian cooking is pretty low. However, I was stuck with inspiration one night when I had some extra cauliflower and some cooked winter squash that needed to be eaten. So I sauteed some onions and ginger, added some spices and the cauliflower and allowed it all to simmer with mashed winter squash and it turned out nicely.

I have a huge Indian cookbook that intimidates the hell out of me, but one of my resolutions for the year is to dive into it and do some more experimenting. I love the spices of Indian cooking, and similar to Italian regional cooking, I know that Indian dishes vary greatly by region and I'm bound and determined to begin to understand some of those distinctions! However, I'm terrible at keeping resolutions, so maybe I should think of it as a commitment or new learning experience and that will help me stick to it.

Hope you're able to find a way to trick yourself into keeping some resolutions this year (or simply changing your behavior in some way!

Indian Spiced Cauliflower

1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
1/2 onion, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 cup water
1 cup squash puree
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

In food processor blend squash puree with 2 tablespoons of water. Saute onion and ginger in olive oil until soft. Add salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika and saute another 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and toss to coat. Add squash puree and stir to blend. Add cumin seeds and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook another 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Serve over cooked rice with cilantro chutney.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Welcome to 2010! I hope you start off the year well and wish you and your loved ones a wonderful year!

I wish I was one of those people who can stick to traditions, such as black-eyed peas and greens on New Year's Day, but somehow it never turns out that way. However, I do like to fete the first of the year if simply for the fact that beginnings of any kind always inspire me.

Flourless chocolate cakes always represent indulgence to me: silky chocolate in dense form, crying out for lightly whipped cream or rich ice cream. Like so many desserts, they do not come intuitively to me so I make the mistake of thinking they are difficult to make. So wrong! This is so easy to whip up, especially if you have the chocolate on hand. Dusting it with some powdered sugar makes it so festive!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, broken into 1/2 inch size pieces
4 oz semisweet chocolate bits
9 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons of almond meal
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9 inch pan (springform if possible). Flour pan and shake out excess. Place both chocolates in double boiler over simmering water, stir until melted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 3 minutes. Then gradually stir butter into chocolate. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and almond meal and blend well. Stir in egg yolks one at a time. In separate bowl beat egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Add remaining sugar to egg whites and beat until they hold their shape. Fold the whites, 1/3 at a time, into the chocolate. Pour into greased pan and bake 30 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar.