Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tian de Legumes

One of my favorite dishes is this "Tian de Legumes"- which is really just French for vegetable casserole, the recipe comes out of the Simply Slow Cooking cookbook by Joanne Glynn, it really doesn't take long to make and can be done in advance but it does take forever in the oven so- plan ahead.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Barramundi with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

You might have noticed that I've sort of taken a break from the blog the past few months as I got terribly busy, but in that time I spent a good deal of time thinking about what sort of direction I wanted to go with the blog. Though I really enjoyed writing about our international nights I have been thinking a lot lately about healthy eating. For now at least, I 've decided that I want to focus on fresh, seasonal and healthful meals.

When I was in St. Louis a few weeks ago I saw packets of frozen Barramundi fillets. They looked great and I don't think that I've ever had Barramundi before so I went ahead and got them. This week, when I saw an article in the Huffington Post about the sustainability of Barramundi I decided it was time to get my blog up and going again.
There has been much ink spilled about the sustainability of the fishing industry. Many of varieties of fish that we most enjoy have been greatly over fished lately, and the growth of fish farms has also led to the spread of various diseases. Apparently, Barramundi which originates from south east Asia might be more sustainable. Feel free to check out the article: The Anti-Salmon: A Fish We Can Finally Farm Without Guilt. When I saw the article I decided the time had come to begin blogging again and thawed my Barramundi fillets.
I subsequently found a great recipe for Barramundi Fillets with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprout Chips from the October 2009 issue of Bon Appétit Magazine. Fish is great for you, as it's loaded with omga 3 fatty acids, sweet potatoes are considered a super-food and its all very seasonal for the fall.

1 sm. shallot, minced (1 1/2 tsp.)
3 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/4 tsp. grated lime peel
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. honey
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 lbs sweet potatoes
5 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. thyme
pinch grated nutmeg
1/4 whole milk
8 oz. brussels sprout leaves
4 6 oz barramundi fillets

Combine the minced shallot, 1 tsp. lime juice, lime zest, vinegar and 1 Tbsp of olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Set aside.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Roast in a 450*F oven for 1 hour, turning halfway through. Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, scoop out the meet and put in the food processor or blender. Add milk, thyme, nutmeg, remaining lime juice and salt and pepper; blend until smooth. This can be done a couple of days in advance and reheated.

Meanwhile, prep the brussels sprouts. I found this process to be a little tedious, but totally do-able. Wash the sprouts and trim off the base, this will help to release the leaves. Then I cut the sprouts in half, cut out the little core and pulled off the rest of the leaves the best I could. I was probably a little more fastidious about getting all the leaves I could from this as I didn't want to waste any. I would recommend being less fastidious and saving the rest of the brussels sprouts to make later in the week.

Once you have pulled-off the leaves, toss with olive oil salt and pepper and roast in a 450*F oven for 15 minutes. The goal of this is really to get the leaves nice and crispy so don't get too nervous, they just won't all be nice and green when you pull them out. I was a little worried that mine might have gotten too well done, but Scott who doesn't much care for brussels sprouts went back for more.

While the brussels sprouts are in the oven, melt your butter in the pan. As always, make sure this gets nice and hot and make sure to dry your fish so that it can get nicely browned. Season your fish with salt and pepper and place in the butter in the hot pan. The fish should take no more than 15-20 minutes, turning once. You certainly want to make sure that the fillets are opaque through, but you don't want to over cook either as they will become dry.
Plate with the fillets beside the potatoes. Spoon a little vinaigrette over both the fish and potatoes, then sprinkle with crisp brussels sprout leaves.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Iranian Night

I find that with cooking, like most things in life, one gets out what one puts in. If I have fun while I’m cooking, my food typically tastes like it. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: if I’m flustered and stressed out, I can easily cook that into whatever I am making, and you certainly can taste that as well. This is exactly what happened on Monday night. We delayed our international night, because of scheduling conflicts; but I had thought that we could have an Iranian night. This made sense to me because I thought...”kebabs and rice, that seems like a low-stress night of grilling that should be perfect following finals.” I thought it could be easily put together, with out having to spend hours tracking down ingredients, and kebabs and rice...always tasty. Sadly, this is not quiet how the night turned out.

About a week ago, I sent a message to my favorite Persian foodie, Ramin Rahimian, who recommended that I make koubideh kebab to go with my chelo kebab- which is a dish that includes saffron rice, grilled tomato and kebab. Koubideh kebab a ground beef kebab...he said “just keep it juicy”...always good advice. I also thought this would be great because, ground beef fits into the budget well.

The recipes I found for the koubideh kebab, had you grate onion into the ground beef. This is where everything started to fall apart. I think my grater is too fine, or maybe I should have just very finely chopped the onion because when I grated it, a lot of onion juice was released into the beef, making it really soggy...this would later prove to be quiet a problem when I tried to form the kebabs and had Scott grill them. First, the kebabs just refused to hold any shape or hold to the skewers. Then, while on the grill, the juices dripped onto the flame, putting it out. The result was that one side of the mashed, ill-shaped kebabs was nice and charred while the other was still not so much cooking...or so we thought because the fire was going out. In an attempt to save the kebabs, we brought them in, and put them under the broiler. This was about the time, that I realized I had forgotten all about the tomatoes, so I threw those in the broiler as well. Now, dear reader, you might recall Ramin’s sage advice to me regarding the kebabs: “just keep it juicy”. Well, apparently all of this moving, an falling apart, and finagling does not keep a kebab juicy.

Meanwhile, as Scott was outside ‘grilling’, I was making the rice. Again...I mistakenly thought this to be a simple process, and really I still think it could have been, if I had been in a good mood at the time. Unfortunately, it seemed like nothing was going right...which is in my kitchen always a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was at this point battling, with the food, the kitchen...and bless his heart, Scott, so my food was made in a rushed and angry manner...not the way to get good persian rice, with a good “ta-dig”. From what I read, for this you want to begin by rinsing and soaking the rice, ridding it of the extra starch (which is what makes sticky-rice sticky, or risotto creamy). Then, you boil the rice in water with a little oil or butter. As the rice then boils down, you can add a little more butter/ oil and a little saffron water. When you make this rice, you also want to let it cook longer than you normally would so that it will form, on the bottom this crispy-golden layer, called a “ta-dig” which is the mark of a good cook. As all of this is happening, it should give off a fabulous smell. I however got nervous. I must admit, I am well known for burning rice, forming a gross crispy-black layer on the bottom of the pot. I did not want to repeat this yet again, and thus, my polow never formed a ta-dig...though it was smelling very good, and I think starting to.

Finally, the rice was done, the kebabs were over done, and the tomatoes were somewhat cooked and I decided that it was time to eat because I had been very hungry for a very long time. So I plated up the rice and sprinkled on top of it sumac, which is a red spice, popular in Iran that has a great acidic-lemony taste...only wait, no...I grabbed my little bag of hot cheyenne pepper instead and sprinkled that over it a much different taste. Though, after the picture was taken, I was able to scrape off most of it, and sprinkle it with the proper spice instead.

From this, misadventure as it was clear however, that this could have been a great dish and we agreed that we would in fact have to try this again making a few adjustments. The kebabs, though dry and a little over done had a really great flavor. You could taste the acidity of the sumac and that made them really nice. Also, the rice and tomatoes went very well together, and it all looked quite pretty on the platter. Of course, the other upside to all of this is that very soon, I will be enjoying a fabulous, properly prepared Persian dinner with Ramin....

The recipes I used are really should give them a try, you’ll probably have more luck than I.

Kabab Koobideh

4 Servings

500 grams ground lamb or beef

2 large onions (grated)

1 large egg (beaten)

4 medium tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sumac (optional)


Mix meat, onions, egg, salt and pepper well and leave in the refrigerator overnight (or for several hours).

Press the meat around long, thick metal skewers and shape evenly. Thread whole tomatoes on another skewer. Barbeque each side for about five minutes, turning frequently. If skewers are not available or barbequing is not possible, kabab-e koobideh can be shaped into long, thin portions on aluminum foil and grilled at high temperature in the oven. The oven should be pre-heated and kabab-e koobideh should be placed as high as possible near the source of the heat.

Serve with hot Polow (Chelow) or on middle-eastern bread. If serving with rice, some sumac may be sprinkled on top. If kabab-e koobideh was made in an ovPolow (or Chelow)

Ingredients: (4 servings)

basmati or long-grain rice, 500 grams

cooking oil



The preparation of polow (or chelow) is more elaborate than kateh and results in a delicious non-sticky rice. It is normally served with kababs or any of the main dishes in this collection, unless rice is already used as one of the ingredients.

Wash rice twice and soak in salted warm water for 3-4 hours, then drain the water. Pour water in a large non-stick pan until it is half-full and bring it to a boil. Add rice and a spoonful of salt and continue boiling until rice slightly softens. Pour rice into a drain and wash it with slightly warm water.

Pour a few spoonfuls of cooking oil into the pan and add rice. Pour a few more spoonfuls of oil over rice. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for about half an hour. If cooking time is increased, a delicious crispy layer of rice (called ta-dig) will form at the bottom of the pan.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mac and Cheese

This weekend Scott and I had a lot of tofu...a lot! We had a great pork and tofu stir fry and then the Pad Thai I told you about on Saturday. Finally on Sunday we had Korean Tacos with Crispy Tofu. All were good, but together it was a whole lot of tofu. Having greatly appreciated this, as he alway does, and having happily eaten it all; Scott requested something different...something more Midwestern Comfort-foodish.

Monday we had macaroni and cheese. Now, I always get exc
ited about trying new things and I had found this Carrot Macaroni and Cheese recipe that I wanted to try, but I had also promised Scott comfort food and was not sure how it would turn out. So, I made both: the Carrot Macaroni and Cheese and Joy of Cooking's Baked Macaroni and Cheese. This way we could compare the two side by side!
I thought that this was a splendid take on a classic. You certainly can't eat this guilt free or anything, it is after all still mac and cheese, but I think that it is healthier than other versions. I do plan to for sure bring this to future church pot-lucks.

Here is the recipe by Jeremy Fox from Food and Wine

The Good News The silky carrot puree mixed with the cheddar here is a terrific source of vitamin A and helps reduce the amount of fat in the recipe.
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Zest and juice of 1 navel orange, zest removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
3 cups penne rigate (9 ounces)
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
Freshly ground white pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots with the zest and juice and 1/4 cup of water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderate heat until the carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Discard the zest. Transfer the carrots and any liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Return the pasta to the pot. Add the reserved water and the carrot puree and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is coated with a thickened sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in three-fourths of the cheese and cook, stirring, until very creamy, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tarragon and season with salt and white pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

One Serving 370 cal, 8 gm fat, 4.5 gm sat fat, 58 gm carb, 4 gm fiber.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thai Night

The first time I every had Pad Thai was at the Thai Country Kitchen in the St. Louis Loop. I was 16 and with my sister Katie and my friend Margaret Ware-Smith, and it was amazing! I had had Thai before; many times, but never like this...this was sweet, sour and salty all at once. This was before I had developed my love of spicy foods, and as you may know, Thai food can be spicy. Every time I had eaten Thai in the past, I had been filled with the fear of spicy. Pad Thai is not spicy though, not spicy at all (which might account for its wide popularity) it’s just flavorful. That first Pad Thai was a delectable treasure...predominately noodles (I love noodles) with bits of all sorts of things thrown in, creating little surprises of texture and flavor...things to root around in the noodles for. This was more than just a lunch, this was a food adventure.

Now, I must admit I have had Pad Thai many times since then and ordered it quiet regularly for a while, but it was never like the first never is I suppose. So when I decided to do Thai night tonight, I decided that I would try my hand at Pad Thai. I must say that I think, my Pad Thai is pretty good. It was certainly not like my first, but it was better than many that I have had; in part I think, because I was able to control just how much of what went in and so it did not become too greasy as some Pad Thai that I’ve had.

Now my dear reader, do try not to judge too much; but the recipe that I used was one by Alton Brown...I know, he is not actually Thai, but looking at it I imagined that it was rather authentic, whatever that means. I have posted the recipe below. There are a few things listed that you may not happen to have on hand, but all are things which I have used for other dishes, so they’re versatile and store well if you choose to invest.


1-ounce tamarind paste

3/4 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons palm sugar

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

4 ounces rice stick noodles

6 ounces Marinated Tofu, recipe follows

1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 cup chopped scallions, divided

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 whole eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons salted cabbage

1 tablespoon dried shrimp

3 ounces bean sprouts, divided

1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, divided

Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste

1 lime, cut into wedges

Place the tamarind paste in the boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the noodles and set them aside. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch wide strips, similar to French fries.

Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.

Place a wok over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add the tofu. Cook the tofu until golden brown, moving constantly, for no longer than 1 minute. Remove the tofu from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.

If necessary, add some more peanut oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.

Marinated Tofu:

6 ounces extra-firm tofu, not silken

1 1/2 cups soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Wrap the tofu firmly in a tea towel. Place the wrapped tofu into an 8-inch cake pan. Top with another cake pan and weigh down with a 5-pound weight. (Bags of dried beans or grains work well.) Place in refrigerator and press for 12 to 15 hours.

Place pressed tofu in a 2-cup container. Combine soy sauce and five-spice powder and pour over tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove the tofu from the marinade and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.

Yield: 6 ounces tofu

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Greek Night

Scott doesn’t think that I know how to make a casserole like a normal Midwesterner, but its not so much that I don’t know how to make a casserole, or like casseroles...its just that it seems silly to make a casserole for just one or two people. To prove Scott wrong, I made moussaka last night. I think I need to make casseroles more often, because even though this recipe took a long time I think I will be enjoying it for lunch/ breakfast all week.

I’ve always thought of moussaka like a greek lasagna, with no pasta...of course until last night I had never made either. You usually layer potatoes with eggplant and ground lamb and top it with a béchamel sauce. The recipe I used came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Simply Slow Cooking by Joanne Glynn. I substituted the lamb with ground beef...because I’m a student and so I don’t really have funding for lamb. The recipe took 5 hours to make but was not labor intensive, it mostly just simmered away and cooked itself. The bell peppers and currents were an exciting addition, and I think I prefer this with the yogurt topping instead of the bé wasn’t quiet so rich and so I felt a little healthier eating it. Scott and I both enjoyed it very much and it looked pretty and golden on top.

We had the moussaka with a greek tomato and cucumber salad which was light and fresh. For the salad I simply chunked two tomatoes, a cucumber and half a yellow onion. I then drizzled the salad with olive oil, and sprinkled the salad with olives and feta. The salad is fresh and bright, it worked well with the moussaka.


yields 6

1 c olive oil

1 lg yellow bell peppers, finely chopped

2 lbs ground lamb

2 lg onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1 1/2 lbs can chopped tomatoes

2 1/2 oz currants

2 lbs eggplant cut into thin slices

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled

4 Tbsp grated kefolotyri or parmesan cheese

4 Tbsp chopped parsley

1 lbs Greek-style yogurt

2 eg yolks

5 1/2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, grated

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large frying pan. Add the bell pepper and cook until soft, remove from the pan and reserve. Add the lamb to the pan, brown.

Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 10 min. Stir in the nutmeg and allspice and cook for 1 min. Add the wine, tomatoes and currants. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, adding a little water as needed. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle with a little olive oil and grill the eggplant slices until golden. Reserve. Bring a pot of water to boil with potatoes. Continue simmering for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and thinly slice the potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 325*F and grease a 12x8x2 in casserole. Cover the bottom of the dish with an overlapping layer of the potato slices. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle 2T of the kefolotyri over the top. Arrange a layer of half the eggplant slices over this. Stir the parsley into the lamb and spread half over the eggplant followed by a layer of the bell pepper. Spread the remaining lamb over this, cover with foil and bake for 2 hours.

Beat the yogurt and egg yolks together until smooth. Gently spread over the moussaka, completely covering the surface. Layer the remaining eggplant slices over this and sprinkle with the remaining kefalotyri. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the surface. Return to the oven and bake uncovered for 30 min or until the top is beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 min.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bolivia Night

Earth Day was Thursday. This week there was a conference in Bolivia seeking to address global climate change. This conference highlights one of the things that I find most inspiring about the environmental movement: it’s global nature. Present at this conference were all sorts of people: scientists, politicians, and native campancinos from all over the world. There are few movements that include so many different people, from so many places, of course there are few movements that effect so many different people. All of these people, Bolivian farmers, and Panamanian fisherman; they don’t take out time to come to these conferences because they have been convinced by scientific arguments, or because politicians tell them its important. They attend these conferences because their lives are effected by global climate change on a daily basis. The Bolivian conference highlights the sad reality of this crisis: climate change effects first and most acutely the poorest and most vulnerable in this world not those who have the greatest power to effect climate change.

So, to honor the Bolivians and their conference Scott and I had Bolivian Night tonight. It was fabulous...and spicy. Now I do not recall having the dish I made tonight when I was in Bolivia. I really only remember eating a lot of roasted or grilled chicken with yucca, potato or rice and beans. Well, I also remember having homemade water buffalo cheese bought off the side of the road. While all of this was very good, I decided that the first meal was not really typically Bolivian, but could be found in any number of countries (roasted chicken and rice is a staple almost everywhere) and the second...well, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Finally, I considered making Saltenas, which I also enjoyed in Bolivia, but are really breakfast fair and would not feel like a proper dinner (though good appetizer perhaps). So I searched online and found the following recipe for Pollo Picante. It was very good, I recommend it highly. As the name suggests however, it is spicy. While we enjoyed the chicken, the sauce and peas were just too hot for Scott or I to enjoy. Due to the spiciness, the boiled potatoes I served with it worked well.

Picante de Pollo
Spicy chicken


3 pounds chicken, divided into parts
¼ cup ground cayenne pepper
2 cups of white onion, cut into small strips
1 cup tomato, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup fresh
locoto or chili pepper, finely chopped
1 cup green peas, peeled
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crumbled oregano
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped and roasted
3 cups broth or water
2 spoonfuls oil


In a large casserole put the chicken pieces with all the other ingredients. Pour the broth or water until covering the ingredients completely.

Set to cook over high heat until it boils, and later over low heat for at least an hour and a half or until the chicken is soft. Stir occasionally.

If while cooking the broth diminished much, add a little bit more of broth or water so that when serving there is enough liquid.

In a deep plate serve one piece of spicy chicken with one boiled potato, cooked aside, chuño phuti and uncooked sauce on top.

Finally, sprinkle the chopped parsley on top of the spicy chicken.

Recipe found at:

For more information on the Bolivian Conference visit:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

DR Congo

I decided that this week we would have dinner featuring the cuisine of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, usually I try to use recipes from specific regions in the country such as the Northern Indian food we had last week; or featuring the food of a specific ethnic group such as the malay food we had on Malaysian night. However I could only find recipes that were broadly labeled “Congolese”...which of course does not specifically locate the recipe in the DR Congo. As the DR Congo is geographically larger than the Louisiana Purchase and as the UN estimated that there are over 250 different ethnic groups living in DR Congo, I know there is more variety in cuisine than I realize, and I am somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t able to be more accurate in my recipe choice but you can only do what you can do.
As I was driving back from field ed Thursday I stopped at a Jamaican/ Caribbean/ African Market on Broadway. I was hoping to get cassava root to make fufu. Fufu is a staple in West and Central Africa, it can be made from a number of root vegetables which are then mashed. It is served thick enough that it can be shaped into balls, from which you can tear of little bits to shape and scoop-up stew. So I was looking for cassava (which is the same plan used for tapioca) when I was shopping I was seduced by instant fufu. I admit that this was a cheap move but I as worried about all that I have to do this week and decided to go ahead and get it. The instant did work fine, but I must hypothesize that this instant variety was really to real fufu as instant mash potatoes are to real mash potatoes. Also, a few words to the wise: just as one should slowly add instant mash potatoes to the water so they don’t clump, so too should the instant fufu be slowly added to the boiling water. Also, I tried to eat the fufu warm, but it was really sticky and messy. The next morning after being in the fridge all night, the fufu worked just as I think its supposed to; so be advised and make it in advance and let it cool in the fridge.

To accompany this I made “Poulet Moambe” which is a chicken stew made with Palm Butter. I was however also unable to find palm butter and read that peanut butter could be substituted. The stew really turned out pretty good, I will admit to being a little skeptical about a chicken, onion, okra peanut butter stew, but Scott and I both liked it a lot. It was savory, sweet, peanut butter and spicy all at the same time. I didn’t however find that the fufu added much...but again if it were homemade I’m sure that it would have been much better.

For the Poulet Moambe, I used the following recipe:
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 boneless/ skinless chicken breasts, cube
pinch hot pepper
Salt and pepper
1 C peanut butter
1/2 lg yellow onion, diced
1 lg tomato, diced
2 handfuls okra, chopped
1 cloves garlic, diced
1 handful fresh italian parsley, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil. When the chicken is well browned, add hot pepper to taste. Then add 1 c peanut butter and 1-2 cups water along with the rest of the ingredients. Let boil until thick, being sure to constantly watch and stir so as to prevent the peanut butter from sticking to the bottom and burning.

Adapted from:


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Indian Dinner

Scott and I began some time ago experimenting with having international themed nights; I thought this would be fun way to try cooking new things, and to learn about different places. We began with a Malaysian Night, then we had a Yemeni Night. Then we got busy and stopped.

Tonight we invited over Benjamin-David and revived the tradition with a India themed night with chicken tandoori and okra curry. I understand that both recipes are of Northern Indian origin.

I set the chicken to marinate this morning, and Scott grilled this evening. If you've never had it, it's super easy to make and the yogurt it's marinaded in makes the chicken very tender. I got this particular recipe from online, and made some substitutions (instead of using marsala tandoori, I took the lazy way out and just used the garam marsala that I already had.)

To accompany this we had curried okra, which was also very tasty. The okra was stuffed with the curry paste and lightly fried in vegetable oil and onion. I was a little worried that it would come out greasy, but it really didn't at all. The okra was bright green and flavorful. As I was making the okra however, I was unable to find the mango powder that the recipe called for and instead chopped-up dried mango. I don't know what difference this but the mango certainly added a nice sweetness.In the past I've only really had boiled okra (which is pretty bland, slimy and gross) and fried okra (which is amazing because its fried, but on the downside- its fried). I felt as this was a nice alternative to both these options- one that I will certainly do again.

Benjamin-David then brought with him nan for dinner...the perfect final touch. We celebrated the weather, eating on the back porch and then moved inside to Watch Monsoon Wedding. The recipes we used are below.

Chicken Tandori
2 lbs skinless chicken
3 Tbsp garam marsala
1 c yogurt
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 c vegetable oil

Prick chicken all over with fork. In a separate bowl, mix garam marsala, yoghurt, oil and salt into a paste. Cover the chicken well in this marinade, and refrigerate for 12-18 hours.

Grill chicken over medium heat, being careful not to over cook.
adapted from Petrina Verma Sarkar:

Bharwan bhindi
1.5 lbs okra
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp coriander powder
3 Tbsp finely diced dried mango
1 tsp Turmeric powder
2 Tbsp oil
half an onion, diced

Wash, dry and clean okra, removing the caps and the tips. Slit down the side. In a separate bowl, mix chili, coriander, mango, turmeric and salt. Stuff the okra with the past. Heat oil in a large skillet, add onions and cook until the onion begins to soften (1-2 min). Add stuffed okra and cook stirring occasionally. Add any left -over seasoning and continue cooking until tender (5-10 min).
adapted from Chef Sonali:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My New Blog

I've decided to start writing this new blog, and even though I'm not sure if anyone will ever read it I think I will have some fun writing it.

Scott, being the computer geek that he is has gotten me interested in thinking about fun ways to use technology as part of your kind of create a dialogue. Even though I don't really anticipate anyone reading this for a while, if ever, I thought it would be a good habit to get into.

If someone is reading this, I suppose that I should tell you what I plan to write about. At least for now, I thought that I would use this as a sort of devotional reflection, anticipating the coming lectionary and reflecting on the past week's. The idea is that this allows anyone who might be reading this to respond and engage in dialogue regarding the lectionary.

The other subject on which I plan to focus is cooking. Its one of my favorite things. I really believe that it is not only important because physical health is important, and because the US is suffering from an obesity epidemic, but because food connects and unites people. I like to say that sometimes it seems as though when one reads the Bible, all anyone is ever doing is eating...this is because of the spiritual power of food. We all know that food can sustain us physically, but it can also sustain us spiritually and emotionally as well. I also love to cook. I like to try new things: recipes and ingredients, and I love to talk about food.