Monday, September 26, 2011

Indian food at home...Don't be scared!

I love a nice burger and fries, but every now and then my taste buds need a kick in the pants.

And Indian food does the trick!  My husband and I fell in love a few years ago with Indian food. 
I remember the first time we went to eat at our favorite restaurant, Star.  We ordered Tandoori chicken, Aloo Gobi, Shahi Paneer, and rice, and naan.  Oh my god that sounds like an assload of food.  And it IS!  LOL, but when you go, you can't help it.  Anyway, we ordered all this food, because it was new and we wanted to try out different dishes.  WELL-that was it.  we were hooked.  It was the best lunch of our lives.  It was funny though because we didn't finish all of the saucy gravy that the shahi paneer is in, and the owners asked us if we liked it, and we felt bad for accidentally insulting them.  It was just such a flavor explosion that our poor little inexperienced taste buds couldn't handle all that flavor.  But now, we wipe the bowl clean with our naan. 

So I went to YouTube, and I found the sweetest man called TheVahChef who makes indian food look so easy to make.  he never uses measuring utensils, and he giggles and shakes for his food when he's tasting it, it's hilarious. 
So I learned from him how to make Aloo Gobi.  It's a really easy dish to make with Potatoes and Cauliflower.  The spices are not too intimidating and most grocery stores accommodate Indian spices, so the ingredients are easy to access.  .  
When  I made my Indian dinner the other night I bought a packet seasonging for Tandoori Chicken, and roasted chicken leg quarters in the oven tossed in the seasoning with some sliced bell pepper and onion.  After an hour, it was nice and happy and ready to go with some steamed rice, Aloo Gobi, and a flour tortilla, that I was fantasizing as Naan.  
If you've never tasted Indian food, there are so many places now that have lunch buffets, and are VERY affordable.  My husband and I are lucky to have found such a place that feels like you're inside someone's home, and they're feeding you like an honored guest. 
Check out the VahChef on youtube. 
My next Indian dinner/lunch will be country chicken with chana dal curry.  mmmmmmmhmmmm!  can't wait!

Adventures in Baby food!

So I've been making Rocky's baby food lately.  And I love it!
I'm on a quest for the perfect rainbow blend, of a different fruit and vegetable from each color of the rainbow.  I get hung up on the vegetables though.  I've given Rocky Peas and Green beans, but what about Spinach and Kale?  I need a cookbook. 
Lately it's been a yam, an apple, a peach, peas, a pear, and carrots.  And he really likes it.

What I really want is a Jack Lalaine Juicer!!!  You throw a whole apple in there and BLAM! Apple juice in seconds!  It's just so big I don't know where I would put the thing.  A girl can dream, I guess.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Origin

I really love watching cooking shows.  As a kid I would watch Yan Can Cook, with Martin Yan.  He was amazing.  His energy, and passion really made food fun.  I loved the idea of making something from nothing, and then DEVOURING it!  There's something really special about making food that I've always had a passion for.  about 15 years ago, I took my first cooking class in middle school.  I remember we were tasked with making a Pizza.  We had to roll out the dough, put the sauce, the cheese and pepperoni.  Nothing fancy, just a regular pizza.  Somehow the girls in my group and I wanted to get creative and show off for our teacher.  At the end of class we were to hand in a slice, and be graded according to taste, texture, and appearance.  Well, we made sure to impress.  we layered the cheese and pepperoni, about 3 times and it made a sensational pie.  We got A pluses, and huge egos.  It was such a good feeling that something was awakened inside me.  Something that said to go for it.  So then in high school, I decided to take a Foods class.  Well, by the time I graduated I was in deep.  I never wanted to go to culinary school though.  The idea of working in a sweltering restaurant kitchen never really appealed to me.  Cooking at home for my family was more my style.  And writing about it was really what I wanted to do, and I guess that's what I'm doing now.  Trying to satiate a thirst that I've had for the last decade.

Fire, My Seductive Cooking Compadre

Anything cooked with fire is just guaranteed to taste better.
Seriously though.  The first person who cooked food over fire must've FREAKED!  And on that subject, I wonder what the first thing cooked on fire was????  Was it a rabbit, cooked slowly over a flame until juicy, and just a little charred?  Maybe it was a wild mushroom, with it's meaty flavor and soft texture.  Thank you, first guy who made a spark and started a fire!  Where would we be without you?  Eating raw carrots and tomatoes?  I don't think so!

So I bought some red bell peppers last night for 25 cents each!!!!!  I know, I know, it's the cheapest they've ever been, so I bought 10 of them. 
Knowing that I was going to be BBQing burgers, I busted out 3 of those bell peppers, and threw 'em on the flame.  Now those red beauties are sitting in a jar in my fridge, just begging to be added to some eggs, or pasta, or ANYTHING!  I've been wanting to roast bell peppers for sooooo long, I feel so good. 
Goal achieved, I get a gold star! 
So I did my burgers, and WOW.  There's nothing like charred ground meat, formed into a patty, and covered with glorious cheddar cheese.  And then I toast my buns to golden brown perfection.  Oh, the toasted buns with sesame seed goodness!  Who was the person who did THAT first?  "Let me roll this raw dough in some seeds.  I wonder what that will be like?"  Genius I tell you. 

After dinner, I thought that I was done.  My mom is brilliant though, so she suggested I roast some tomatoes as well, and when I went through the crisper, I have an onion and jalapeno too.  So you know what that means?  Fire roasted salsa!!! Arriibbaaa!!  Ay! Ay! Ay!
I still need to blend it up, so I hope it's good.

Fire, my seductive cooking compadre, thank you for being there for me and mankind when we need a hot meal with lots of primal flavor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Curry Love...A Lunch time love affair

"Curry, oh Curry, how I love thee Curry!"
I'm being a little dramatic, but it's true. I love me some curry.  What kind of Curry, might you ask?  I love them all, I do not descriminate!  Indian Chicken Curry, is heavenly.  Thai Red or Green Curry is so exoticly sexy, you'll break into a sweat, and the Asian brick Curry that you can find in the Asian section of your grocery store is so wonderfully aromatic and tasty that you wont want to stop eating it!

I had my son Rocky in January, and sadly had to get off the curry train I'd been riding my whole pregnancy. After having my son I noticed that he didn't really appreciate my flair for the exotic, so I had to go cold turkey.  Eating a bland diet isn't really my idea of fun, but slowly, I was able to add spice back into my diet.  Now that he's almost 3 months he's been letting me get away with more and more spice, and I must say that I am so grateful! My taste-buds were going through withdrawals! 

Today for lunch I'm making an easy Asian curry for lunch. The brand S&B makes an awesome brick of curry that you simmer with vegetables and your choice of protein and a little water.
Super easy! 
My husband and I are dabbling in vegetarianism, so I've asked him to bring home some Tofu. Today will be a first for the both of us. We've never had tofu before. I confess that I'm both excited and nervous.
I saw on an Asian travel/cooking show the host fried his tofu and then added it to his stir-fry. I think that's what I'll do. It looked great when he did it.
Wish me luck!
Okay, so I made my S&B Hot Curry with Veggies and Tofu, and it was awesome!
I used sliced carrot, sweet yellow onion, and sliced mini bell peppers for my vegetables, and a little bit of chopped cilantro for garnish.  I deep fried my tofu separately and then added it to the pan when everything was done.  
I must say....Tofu is an acquired taste.  By deep frying it, there was an element of texture to the outside of the tofu chunk that I liked  a lot.  When I bit into it, it was a bit bland, with a hint of nuttiness.  When mixed with the curry, it simply blended into the flavors around it.  I didn't dislike the Tofu, it was just a new taste experience.
S&B doesn't disappoint when it comes to their user-friendly Curry.  It comes in a brick that you break up and throw into your pan of vegetables with a little water.  Stir to melt the brick and let it thicken, and OMG! 
The best lunch ever! 
There's also a Thai Red Curry paste that Taste Of Thai makes.  That one's a little harder to find, but it's out there in the grocery stores.  For the ToT curry paste, all you need is a can of Coconut Milk, a little lime or lemon juice and fish sauce, or a big pinch of salt if you dont have the fish sauce.  Simmer your milk and then add a knob of your paste, and other ingredients and stir to combine it.  Then pour into your pan of veggies-I like to use the same veggies for all my curries.  If you can find rice noodles, use them, they are amazing with the Thai curry.  Make your coconut sauce a little thin with water, and it'll be soupier for your noodles.  And if your grocery store doesn't have rice noodles, good old steamed rice is great as well.
So that was my rant on Curry.  I love it, and if it had a pulse, I'm sure it would love me back. 

If you're in the mood for something exotic but don't want to trudge out to your fave Asian or Indian restaurant, try the brands I like to use, and you'll wonder why you ever went to a restaurant in the first place.