Sunday, December 27, 2009

Crab legs

This Holiday season we found an abundance of seafood on sale. Here are some amazingly huge crab legs purchased in Big Fork Montana, where I spent a few relaxing days with my folks at their cabin.

Before this, my crab vocabulary consisted of those preformed sticks of imitation crab meat or the flake variety of the same. Boy was I missing out!

My dad prepped these by boiling in water seasoned with salt and pepper. Most crab legs are cooked and flash frozen to preserve flavor; the boiling step is really to bring the crab up to serving temperature. We made a quick garlic butter dip with ground garlic simmered in butter... And voilĂ ! A delicious and extra special treat.

A couple of cautions/tips

1. The crab smell like seafood, turn the vent on while boiling to minimize the eau de sea

2. You might need to break huge legs to fit in the boiling pot

3. Steaming the crab legs (as opposed to boiling) will prevent excess water from soaking into the meat... But the boiled stuff tastes good too

4. Be careful with the shell, it's tough. I don't think you need to buy special seafood utensils- you can use a knife and kitchen scissors carefully enough to successfully pick out the meat.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Parripu Vadai (fried split yellow pea snacks)

This delicious snack is our Christmas treat this year! Many thanks to my mom for her wonderful recipe and prep tips!

1 1/2 c split yellow peas
1 small red onion
Green chili- adjust amount according to desired hotness level
1/4 cup cilantro (can adjust)
1/4 tsp Aesofoteda
1tsp finely chopped ginger
Salt, to taste

Soak the split yellow peas in warm water, until a fingernail easily breaks through a test lentil (less than 1 hour). Be careful not to oversoak, and make sure the grinding step takes place without added water. Blend coarsly in blender (it's ok if whole pieces of lentil remain in the mix). The material should be blended enough that it will hold its shape during the frying stage. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Form into silver dollar sized rounds with your hands, pressing the lentil mix tightly together. Flatten each ball into a disc shape. Fry over medium-high heat (ours took about 3 minutes and had a wonderful browned shell).

These vadai are also served soaked in rasam-- mmm yum!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Portobello Saute with Green Beans

This dinner was incredibly fast and delicious-- mashed potato, portobello mushroom saute, and steamed green beans. I sliced the portobello caps (saving the stems for quesadillas-- don't waste them!) and sauteed in olive oil with garlic and large onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and arrange on a bed of steamed green beans. Yum!
Plus-- we're approaching thanksgiving-- keep this in mind as a classy side dish or preserve the entire mushroom cap to serve as an entree portion for vegetarian guests.

Hearty Brunch Veggie Scramble

This hearty scramble is great for a brunch when hunger is high-- the potato adds a filling quality to balance the excessive vegetables, and the use of only two eggs doesn't throw the fat and cholesterol levels of this dish through the roof.
Microwave the potato until cooked. Make sure to stab it a few times with a fork to prevent the potato from exploding in the microwave.

Saute the onion, after it softens, add the bell pepper and chopped broccoli. Slice the cooked potato, and add to the mix. Now season-- add generous amounts of black pepper, cumin, basil, oregano, salt and paprika. Mrs. Dash (no msg and low salt) is also a good option for those with a limited spice pantry.

In a separate pan, prep the eggs. I scrambled mine to be assembled in a breakfast burrito, cause thats just how we roll in the deliciousconsumption kitchen. You could also top the veggie mixture with the eggs and some cheese and heat through in an oven for a casserole style. Up the egg count if you're serving more people.

Have you seen that V8 commercial on tv? Basically this guy is walking down a crowded city street, and all the people have #s floating above their heads representing the number of veggies they've eaten already. As he's drinking his V8 his number keeps ticking up, and the commercial equates this to being on the express lane.

It always amazes me the length that we will go to eat/drink "vegetables" when to me they are so delicious in their pretty natural state/close to natural state. Think of this veggie scramble as your "express lane"-- but without all the sugar that comes along with any drink. And all that wholesome chewy fibrous you have to work to eat it goodness. (Smoothies are good-- but seriously chewing is like meditation.... rumination if you will).
Chew your food. A public service announcement from us to you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Honeycrisp Apples

Move over red delicious, there is a new apple in town. The honeycrisp is not sweet like candy. It has tart undertones that cut the sweet, but the real advantage in this apple is texture. It is practically exploding with crispiness, which is where I presume the name honeycrisp originated from. Try it. If you're a fan if extra crispy apple, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spaghetti Squash is so good

I have never had spaghetti squash before. It arrived in my veggie delivery box last week, and the yellow orb had been sitting on my dining table, half serving as decoration and half mocking me with it's squash mind don't know what to do with me. I've invaded your dining table and I plan to stay here forever.. bwahahahahaha. Finally I decided to tackle the squash-- from my experience with the acorn variety, I figured, how bad can it be? I mean sure it's got mind waves, but I have a meat cleaver.

The hardest part was cracking this baby open. Luckily Potato was off this weekend, so I set him to work halving the squash with a giant meat cleaver (I am glad I saved that knife from the great kitchen purge of 09). With brute force he was able to cut it.. and the rest was easy!
I microwaved the halves face down in a shallow dish of water for about 15 minutes, until a knife was inserted relatively easily into the rind. Once cooked, I took a fork and flaked out the fleshy innards...and this is where the fun starts. It flakes off in noodlie segments (like vermicelli). But it is not delicate/squashy to the point of being mush. the noodle segments actually hold up really well.

In this recipe, the flaked spaghetti squash is placed in a shallow baking tray, and drizzled with marinara sauce (I used bottled Spicy Marinara) and then topped with mozzarella and Gruyere cheese. Baked at 350 degrees, just until heated through.

Try it! So worth the effort...which isn't that much considering the awesome flavor and texture of this veggie.

Fire and Spice Chicken Curry

Its cold and flu season! Time to beat back the misery and heighten your immune system with some spicy curry.

Be forewarned-- this one is HOT. I recommend cutting the whole red chilies to take away some of the kick. Serving alongside plain yogurt will also help you conquer this curry.
Chicken-- 2 breasts, or 3-4 thigh portions well trimmed
Yogurt-- plain. Any fat content will work. Approx. 1/4 cup.
Spices: 1 Tbsp of: cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, paprika; 1/2 tsp of: turmeric, black pepper, ginger powder
Trim the chicken. This is best done with partially frozen chicken-- it is easier to cut and maneuver than a fridge-temp piece of meat. Add all the powdered spices listed above and the yogurt, and marinate at least 1 hr. The goal is to have the chicken well coated, so if you need more spice don't be afraid to add it! I leave mine overnight, with a little warning so that Potato doesn't eat it:

After the chicken is done marinating:
1/4 cup onion
1" piece fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove
4 dried red chilies
4 Tbsp Coriander seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp cumin seeds
2" cinnamon stick
8 peppercorns
4 cloves
1 14 oz can of diced tomato
10 cashews
1/4 bag of frozen green peas
2 med red potatoes, stabbed with a fork, microwaved till cooked, and diced.

Brown the onions, garlic and ginger. Add red chilies, saute for a minute. Add coriander, mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds. stir. Add the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns. Put these spices,1 can of diced tomato, and 10 cashews into a blender or food processor and blend till smooth.
Cook the chicken. Make sure to discard the excess yogurt marinade. After the chicken has cooked for 5 minutes, add the blended spice mix and cook till the chicken is done. Add green peas and 2 potatoes immediately before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Acorn Squash and Pumpkin Soup

One of the joys of getting vegetables delivered to my door is that I have no choice regarding what I get. Sound like a bad thing? Let me explain. Choice can be debilitating. Almost everywhere in the US, consumers are faced with an abundance of choice at the grocery store. Just stroll down your local supermarket and see how many varieties of ice cream are sold, as a simple example. Our abundant food choices also includes several "easy" options that we can choose almost without thinking. This category includes fast food, ready made supermarket food (the soup and salad bar.. frozen dinners) and restaurant food. Going down this road does not take much effort (it does take money, but with credit cards it is easy to forget finances when hunger strikes).

So choice really throws a wrench in my meal planning. I can imagine thousands of possible meals, with thousands of possible ingredients. If I am making the trip to the store myself, I look up recipes, pick a few, list the ingredients and then check to see which store has the best deal for my purchases. Ultimately, this translates into A LOT of prep work, read: time. Juggling work and school and food, time is not something I can afford to waste.

Home delivery, on the other hand, eliminates the kabillion ideas in my head, and forces me to consider a simpler set of problems: what can I do with acorn squash? How do I prep purple cabbage? One veggie at a time, I look for recipes that suit what I have, instead of going to the store to buy ingredients. As a bonus, this has saved some valuable real estate in my spice rack (as you can imagine, with all of the spices required for Indian cooking, my collection is quite extensive), because I don't buy a whole jar of spice for just one recipe.

This soup was the product of this deductive approach to cooking. I got an acorn squash in my grocery delivery. I had a decorative mini pumpkin. Now what?

I was actually dissatisfied with my search for acorn squash recipes; I wanted something savory and not sweet. But I did pick up some great tips: cut the squash in half, scoop out the stringy stuff and the seeds, and microwave cut side up with a bit of water. I zapped both the pumpkin and the acorn squash together for about 15 minutes. I was able to use a spoon to scoop the fleshy cooked squash and pumpkin from the tough rind. The skin separated fairly easily when the squash was well done.

This soup recipe is my personal adaptation of a recipe for sweet potato soup. It is yummy.

2 cups cooked squash
1/4 cup diced onion
1 and 1/2 cups vegetarian broth
2/3 cup skim milk
1 and 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp Chinese 5-spice
salt to taste
green onion to garnish (optional)
Brown onions in oil with salt and pepper. Add cooked squash mix (from cooking method above), vegetable or chicken broth, Chinese 5 spice, and mustard. Heat through. Spoon the mixture into a food processor or blender, add milk, and process till smooth. Varying the amount of milk will alter the thickness of the soup, so use your personal preference as a guide. Ladle into bowls and serve with green onions and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yummy crustless quiche

This recipe is a quick and easy find that I will definately be adding into my common rotation of recipes. Fresh bacon crumbles combine with egg and Swiss cheese in this delightful no-hassle quiche. I added spinach, mushrooms, and broccoli to the mix; it was delicious!

Recipe link: I served this for brunch along with a fresh green salad.

I can't wax poetic on the wonders of bacon like our friends at, but I will say a little goes a long way to enhance the pure tastiness of this quiche.

Good luck with this one-- I hope you like it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Green grocer delivers a box of goodness

Today was the first day of veggie delivery! I was so excited about the amount of produce - 12 items total that filled up a pretty substantial box. I got:
Bananas (4-5)
Plums 5
Green apples 3
Oranges 3
Pears 4-5
Bunch of spinach
Head of red cabbage
Box of mushrooms
Red potatos 5-6
Avacados 2
Bunch of celery
Acorn squash 1

I am a big fan of taxonimy in every day life; sorting, classifying, compartmentalizing things. It can be anywhere and with anything: groups of people wearing the same category of clothing (cultural, yuppie, hippie, urban); loads of laundry (colors but also types-- potatos jeans don't mix with my blue sweaters); events in a day (agendas, to do lists, incoming/outgoing mail) the possibilities are endless.

No I am not really an organized person--it's not really about being neat or efficient-- it's more of a means to rationalize the swarm of information buzzing around all day completely out of control. Lists, categories and classifications are tools for processing volumes of information that would otherwise be too bulky to handle at once.

In my case, despite my enthusiasm, the "small" box of produce was a bit overwhelming. I decided to create an order of operations based on how quickly food spoils to determine what to eat first.

As far as veggies go, normally avacados are high on the list, but in my case the avacados aren't ripe yet.

Here is the veggie list:
Acorn sqash

And fruits:

So what does this mean? But of course! The order of food spoilage dictates the order of consumption. Hmm so tonight-- spinach and mushrooms in a garlic Alfredo sauce. Mmmmm. Man I am hungy-- and that meal is pretty quick and easy.
Here is a great recipe with ingredients I just happen to have on hand:

Bon apetite, and good luck sorting through your own taxonomies for the elusive answer to the question: what's for dinner?

Monday, October 19, 2009

MSG in soup

How/why is it that Chinese restaurants go out of their way to declare their food and sauce packets MSG free, yet MSG is a common ingredient in everyday supermarket foods? MSG is no less addicting because it comes in a can of soup. MSG is an FDA recognized food additive, with no conclusive links to any major health problems--but I would rather be better safe than sorry.

I would really love an ad campaign for MSG free products across the food spectrum, from store shelves to restaurant menus. It would put pressure on manufacturers who use MSG to reconsider, and it would generally raise awareness about the prevalence of MSG in our foods.

It is especially upsetting to me that Campbells, makers of my favorite soups growing up, uses MSG in their classic recipes. These soups are the ones most likely served to kids (they are at least marketed that way). I was sick last week and potato brought home some soup for me. It was chicken soup for my soul-- and neurotoxin for my brain. Unfortunate find, but I will keep spreading the word on MSG products as I come across them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mid day pick up

Our Saturday was filled with lots of activity. We had brunch at a local restaurant, walked to the local hardware store (I love that our neck of the woods has a bunch of mom and pop type stores), and walked to the grocery to get some milk. At home, we undertook a major clean up project-- decluttering the closets in our small apartment. Whew-- it was a lot of work, and when it was done, Potato and I were pretty exhausted. VoilĂ , snack time to the rescue.

This lovely spread of kiwi, gryere (no idea how to spell that) cheese, and almonds along with a cup of steaming jasmine tea, kicked away our mid-day slump. The key? Fresh fruit, and a snack that isn't too big. Crunchy things work well too (a fresh apple does wonders for the tired soul). A little caffeine doesn't hurt-- but skipping the coffee can lead to a better nights sleep.

Now, although moving a bit slower than the morning, we still have enough energy to make it to an outing with friends in DC. Happy saturday- go out and enjoy the world.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Veggie delivery, part II

I have signed up for the green grocer veggie delivery service! To start, I ordered a small mix of organic and non-organic fruits and veggies, just to make sure that I don't waste anything. I also skipped the milk and eggs option--they ask that we leave a cooler out on delivery day. Since I don't have a cooler, I want to figure out when the delivery will actually occur, and buy an appropriately insulated cooler (if it's going to be out all day, i'm going to need a substantial cooler.. If not a thin insulated bag will do).

A reader commented about the value of sharing extras with roommates, apartmentmates, coworkers, and friends and family. This got me thinking-- that would be a great way to connect with the people around me, sharing my bounty or burden (acorn squash). Food is the tie that binds--I have this great mental image of a small basket of sqash being gifted to my neighbors, what a great way to establish a healthy relationship with those around you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A quest for a happy chicken

I buy my eggs from a variety of sources, depending upon when and where I am getting my provisions for the week. In an effort to streamline my purchases, every once in a while I hit up costco. What can one or two people reasonably buy at costco? More than you might think-- organic milk is sold in three half gallons that keep for quite some time in the fridge. Tortillas are sold in two 15 piece packs, and the coffee varieties are delish. And the eggs. I have a love hate relationship with organic cage free eggs-- first off, why are they wrapped in styrofoam or clear plastic (non recyclable..)? I want a happy chicken and a happy planet, are those ideas so hard to reconcile? There are exceptions (giving nature brand of cage free organics from whole foods for example) but I don't understand why it isn't the norm to sell cage free organic eggs in cardboard cartons. The costco eggs are sold in a styrofoam two-pack that is wrapped in plastic. Overkill in the packaging department.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I want the chicken to have a happy life. I would be personally horrified and appalled to find out that my money was going to support a dingy dark shed with thousands of chickens piled high, unable to stand or walk properly; living their short miserable lives in a putrid shed. Because when you think about it, a chicken in a shed is not in a cage.

It would be doubly appalling because I pay a premium for these eggs for a reason. I want to cast my vote in favor of the idyllic chicken story-- a free roaming clucker pecking willy nilly at the grass, wandering here and there and generally doing chickeny things.

So what is the truth? Where did my costco eggs come from? I don't have the answer. But why? Why don't I know where they came from, and why can't I trust the labels "organic" and "cage-free"?

Part of the problem is definately the lack of control and standardization of product labelling. Transparancy should be the goal, because when a customer pays a premium for something, they should know where their money is going.

Dont get me wrong, there are still consumers who want/need lower priced eggs. I just happen to want a better egg, and while I am able, I am willing to pay for it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On bread

A good day is shaped by miniscule events that seem irrelevant when taken individually, like the smile from your grocery clerk or arriving at the metro just as the train is pulling into the platform, or reading a funny article that actually makes you laugh out loud. So what little things can we control to at least set up the day for going well? How about some toast?

Breakfast is oft referred to as the most important meal of the day-- nutritionally or otherwise, I think breakfast is important because it sets the tone for the day. I am going to venture out on a limb and advise that whatever makes you feel good is good for breakfast. But really think about that criterion: do you feel good after a huge breakfast? After a sausage egg and cheese biscuit? After a cup of fruit? Nutritionally there is no universal answer, but that doesn't mean we don't try to regulate the thought behind eating. I suggest a lose standard---really think about how you feel after certain kinds of meals, and let your honest introspective assesment of your own body be your guide. After all, who knows you better than you?

Today I had toast for breakfast, with a light serving of butter and homemade jam (thanks mom!). Bread is such a simple staple-- but oh so delicious.. And for me, just enough to turn that frown upside down.

Some favorites of mine-- cinnamon raisin bread, fluffy potato bread, hearty oat nut bread, and banana and zucchini bread. Take the time to eat breakfast, even something as simple as a slice of bread-- and see if it sets the stage for a better day.

Veggie delivery

I'm thinking of ordering from a local/organic veggie delivery service to make sure that I get my daily dose of produce. Before law school, I had the luxury of browsing farmers markets, strolling the aisles of whole foods, and scooping up exotic items from the international markets. Now, I am lucky if I shop once every 10 days...and my produce is the first thing that gets eaten up; when it's gone, my resources are limited to pricey cafeteria fruit (and although I am in a part time evening program, the cafe closes before my first class ends, so unless I make it there early, I'm out of luck in the fruit and veggie department)

Behold my $1 banana.

Any ideas? So far my reseach has led me to the green grocer's site, as well as a community supported agriculture site in the area... The idea with the csa is that you own a share of the produce from a local farm. Some of them have delivery services, and some have pickup centers throughout the dc metro area.

However-- being busy, it might not be a good idea to get a box full of high intensity veggies (requiring lots of prep, like acorn squash) because they will probably spoil before I get to them. On the other hand, though the task may be difficult, it is definately worth doing-- it's far too easy to eat like crap when you have the ready and pressing reality of "no time."

Tonight, however, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy my $1 banana.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tofu Curry

Tofu curry is a great vegetarian staple.. This easy meal requires quite a few spices, but you may be able to simply your shopping with a multi-purpose spice mix of bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods. These mixes can be found at an Indian market.

Tofu Curry:
1 box extra firm tofu
1 Tbsp oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 bag of peas
1 jalapeno pepper
1/4 medium onion
1 Tbsp ginger + garlic paste (make on your own.. can make large quantities, 1:1 ratio, and freeze for use later. Can even freeze in small ice cube tray to make little pods)
1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
red chili powder (adjust according to preference)
black pepper

Whew, get all that? fortunately the ingredient list is the complicated part. The cooking part is easy. Fry the tofu and set aside (note, tofu fries really well on "high"). In the same large saucepan, brown onion in a little bit of oil. Add the whole spices (cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cloves). Fry for a minute. Add the ginger garlic paste, fry for a minute. Add the powders (coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili, and black pepper), and then add the can of tomato. Add ~1cup water, let it sim for 10 minutes. When nice and tasty (the longer it sims the better.. I leave mine for a good 1/2 hour), add the tofu and green peas. Garnish with fresh cilantro, optionally. Serve hot with parathas, chapati, naan, or rice.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mish-Mash Meal, Breakfast Lunch and Dinner in One!

So this morning I was working from home, lazily plodding away at my keyboard while laying supine on the bed, propped up by pillows, but otherwise looking not much different than I did while sleeping. Potato was soundly sleeping.. I decided to get some breakfast. I swear the thought just entered my head-- I didnt move, sigh, put down my laptop or shuffle any papers. I just thought "mmm breakfast sounds good". All of a sudden, zombie Potato head rises up from the dead..."Whats for breakfast?"

Well now I have a conundrum.. there is only one whole wheat tortilla left and I was just fantasizing about breakfast burritos! I couldnt just stop mid-fantasy and eat something else! What is potato doing up anyways? Sheesh.

Well, I had to make the best of it.. so I thought-- why not make a fun meal-- Breakfast Lunch and Dinner (albeit in smaller portions) in one! That way I could satisfy my craving for breakfast burritos and still have enough food for the two of us! I was lucky in that much of the meal presented itself to me in the fridge.. It like called out to as I stood gawking with the fridge door open.
My beloved breakfast burrito and some local flathead cherries (from Montana!!) were on the small breakfast plate. Tuna sandwiches (with minced celery..mmmm) and boiled corn formed the small lunch serving. And for dinner.. a paratha with leftover Avvil (mixed veggies in coconut) and some plain yogurt. Mmmm. We loved it! The variety was really exciting.. plus we finished our leftovers without complaint!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Local, organic, vegetarian..

Its farmers market season!! the corn sold for 50cents each, the whole head of cabbage for $1 and the peaches, squash and green beans for $2 per lb. The total for my veggies: $8 I also went to the local whole foods to get suitable vegetarian protein sources.. plain organic yogurt, organic extra firm tofu, cage free eggs, organic tortillas, and organic/HFCS free/natural bread, for a grand total of: $13.

It may not look like much, but for me this is a weeks worth of food. And-- dollar for dollar, the I've selected great sources protein for veg-heads(yogurt.. so delicious.. is a great way to make up for an otherwise low protein meal). I eat all of my meals at home.. with the exception of an occasional pizza slice or restaurant night out (I have a fondness for traditional food that involves some sort of process to eat..such as Ethiopian.. family style Italian.. Korean BBQ (although that is not an option as a veggie).. sushi..etc). Have you been eating out too much? Try staying in for a week! I find that I really enjoy the investment in my food, especially because local fresh fruit is sooo much better than anything you can buy at the grocery store.

In other news...As you can see by my lack of posts-- things have been quite hectic around the delicious consumption household.. but never fear! I still need to eat, and where there is food, there will be blogging! As many of you know, I am about to start a part time law program (yup I am also keeping my full time job). Law school starts mid-August, wish me luck!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quesadilla Maker?? Why do I love thee so?

The delicious consumption household is downsizing! Big things are happening in my life-- I am about to start school and so I am looking to move somewhere closer to campus (read: Im going to be spending more $$ for a smaller space). I have gotten used to living in a 4-level townhouse with a huge kitchen... but its time that I let go of some stuff, so that lil ol me can fit into a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment. Oh yea with room for fluffy and potato as well he he he.

So here is my conundrum of the day: Should I keep my Quesadilla Maker? I love my quesadilla maker; I know it is possible to make quesadillas without a quesadilla maker-- I just dont know if I actually would make quesadillas without one.

Why a quesadilla maker in the first place? Quesadillas are just that good. I actually use it once or twice a month (I know...still not that often) and the quality of the Quesadilla is much greater than any other method of cooking (for me.. unskilled in the ways of traditional mex or tex-mex cooking). Plus, these save well and are super portable.. so they make a great lunch on the go.

Above, my classic beef and bean filling (ground beef, and homemade bean dip mixed together) with shredded Mexican cheese. These are topped with an easy homemade salsa of fresh cut tomato, cilantro and the juice of a fresh lime wedge, salt and freshly ground pepper.

The downside of course, is that I have an entire appliance for 1 specific type of food. I dont think I own any other kitchen appliance that has such a specialized function.. What do you think? Does 1-2 amazing quesadillas per month justify a quesadilla-only appliance? I am especially seeking votes from people who have eaten the very tasty product of one of these machines.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Shortcakes-- a Summer Staple

Strawberries are making their grand appearance in grocery stores and farmers markets everywhere... Poking around the neat cartons of deep red berry goodness, I glance over and see those delicious little dessert cups.. and some marketing guy somewhere just got a big fat bonus because I fell for their little ploy (I am sure Im not the only one) and JUST HAD to buy the dessert cups.. oh and whipped cream.. and vanilla ice cream!! (Turkey Hill, no less)

This shortcake is, in short, an assembly of goodness. And its easy. Pick up the ingredients on your way to a BBQ and its sure to be a hit!

Want to be more natural/healthy/organic? So do I. Next time, I will delve into the world of making my own shortcake dessert cups.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My birthday is on June 12!

My birthday is on the 12th! To celebrate, we are going to Udupi Palace to eat paper dosas!
But wait? You dont know what paper dosas are? Dont worry. This post describes a few of the items on the menu at Udupi (although the pictures were taken from food made in India, at my mother's and from my own kitchen)
Paper Dosa or Dosai

As you can see, this is quite a large piece of food. It is a very thin crisp griddle-fried rice-batter that you eat with sambar and chutney (minced coconut and spices, or minced mint or coriander and spices). It is hands down my favorite food (so far) :)

Batura and Channa (Garbanzo Beans)

These are fried breads, which rise before being rolled and fried so they have a different taste and texture. I love the combination above. If you order this at a restaurant, they usually serve one or two significantly larger baturas.

Poori and Yellow Potatoes

Pooris are made from whole wheat flour and are rolled flat and fried. They puff up in the oil, giving the bread a light soft double-layer structure. As with baturas (explained above) pooris are usually much larger (like the size of the plate) if you order it in a restaurant.
Idli and Sambar
Idli are light delicate rounds of steamed rice batter. When made properly they are melt-in-your-mouth soft. Restaurants usually dont make these very well, unless they specialize in South Indian cuisine.
Well I cant seem to locate my vada pictures, so I guess I will have to post later with that. Get excited-- and dont worry, theres lots of great things to try at a South Indian restaurant!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cilantro Lime Tilapia: 5 steps to a 10 minute lunch

Starving? Need something quick? Try this super easy cilantro-lime tilapia!
Step 1: Place a frozen tilapia fillet on a small plate, add 1 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp ground cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. (I have these handy tubes of mashed cilantro-- available from Safeway, you could also use frozen cilantro cubes, available from Trader Joes)

Step 2: Thaw in microwave. Mine took less than two minutes, since it is only 1 fillet.

Step 3: Grill. I used a George Foreman, but I bet you could easily have done this stovetop. Grilling took only a few minutes.

Step 4: While the fish is grilling, prep your salad and/or rice side. I always have a bag of cooked rice in the fridge (it is a staple in our household), so I put about 1/4 cup on my plate, added some soy sauce, dry ginger, and sesame seeds. Heat in microwave till warm. The salad is generic- use what you have on hand. Mine consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, and olives.
Step 5: Plate the fish. and voila! Lunch in 10.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Fun

Breakfast starts off with pancakes with fresh fruit, veggie sausage patty, and a simple cheese and salsa omelette. A small cup of hot steamy coffee and today's newspaper. Not a care in the world. Ahhh its memorial day!

Savor your No-Work-Monday and enjoy a slow breakfast today. Then, get out of the house! I know it is supposed to rain in the Washington DC Metro area, so grab your umbrella, call a few friends, and see the world!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Ok I admit, I have been slacking in the new posting department.. but that is not to say that I haven't been enjoying lots of wonderful food-- Quite the contrary, I am winding up the last 3 days of a month long trip to India. And in case you didn't know, much of Indian society revolves around food :)
I am going to start with bananas. The standard American banana is tasteless in comparison to the small "mutti" variety specially available in South India (pictured above, peeled). Alternatively the large red banana has a sweet and very filling quality. Oh and the Yatham banana, or plantain, when ripe has a fleshy tone completely absent in the standard American definition of "Banana." There are even green bananas that are green when ripe! (See basket of bananas above, or leaf below).Above, bananas are served along side sweet pongal and salty pongal (rice dishes), all set atop a portion of a banana leaf that serves as a plate. The banana leaf plate is wonderfully green (literally) in that once the meal is completed, the leaf can be fed to a cow, resulting in no wastage. The meal above was presented as an offering in our family temple, as we gathered to pray for my cousin's new baby boy. After the prayer, the portions are distributed and everyone sits down to eat the "prasadam," or food that has been offered/blessed by the gods.
These multiple varieties are available in roadside stores, hung by the bunch on the original banana vine. Or, commonly, these varieties are found in family agricultural plots, and distributed to friends and family.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Puttu is the most amazing breakfast food EVER. You know how you just can't seem to use those last few over-ripe bananas? With Puttu, problem solved. What about figuring out whats for dinner? tangentially, Puttu can help. Or when you want a speedy and healthy breakfast- puttu leftovers-- oh yes they re-heat well! Annd it's been my latest obsession (confession, I have been purposefully buying ripe bananas just so they will become over-ripe and I can make puttu!!!)

Enough of this suspense you say? What is this mysterious food? Fine fine. Puttu is simply steamed rice flour, with optional flaked coconut. Anti-climactic? Perhaps.. but it is really good!
Start by dry frying rice flour, being careful not to burn it. Dont add oil or any other liquids. Store this as "puttu flour" for as long as you would store flour.. basically shelf stable. I dry fry the entire bag at once, and then store it to use whenever. Now, in a bowl, take about 1 cup of puttu flour and mix in water slowly, until the mixture resembles soft crumbs. (I tried to take a picture of this.. but I am not sure how much you can see in the photo above).
Get your pressure cooker going.. and put something inside! I like to put a bean or lentil item for that night's dinner in the body of the pressure cooker.. kills two birds with one stone. Make sure you have a jet of steam coming out of the top, as seen in the pic above.
Load up your puttu maker with the rice flour mixture. Add flaked coconut in layers between sections of rice flour. For a small puttu maker like mine, I put about 3 layers of dried sweetened coconut flakes, but it is really only about 1 Tbsp of coconut.
Put your puttu maker on the pressure cooker stem, lining up the bottom so that the steam travels up the column through the puttu.

Two to three minutes later (for a small puttu maker) remove the puttu maker from the steam and poke the back with a skewer to push the steamed flour out. It usually breaks at the coconut seam.. mmmm.

Now here is the best part-- you get to mash a ripe banana into the flour with your hands! Normal Indian etiquette generally requires that the palm of the hand stay clean, and that the fingers are used for eating. Puttu is an exception.. mash it with your entire hand!! its like play-dough... oh so fun! And thats it! Enjoy the mashed banana creation! You can add sugar if desired.. but it is pretty good with just banana :)
The only you might have guessed.. is the special equipment required.. namely the pressure cooker and puttu maker. I am still pondering this problem.. When I come up with an answer, I will be sure to share it! But for now.. youre just going to have to come over for breakfast!
BTW if you already know you looooove puttu, I am going to India soon and will take requests for equipment (tiffon carriers.. puttu makers, etc).