June 26, 2012

Pickles!

Though pickles have long been a favorite of mine, it wasn’t until I gave up all foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup in them that I started pickling on my own. Pickling has not only made me  popular with my friends, I do take pickle requests, it is quick and simple. This is all you need for pickling.

All you need

You need vinegar, kosher salt or pickling salt as it is sometimes called, jars, pickling spices, you can make your own or buy them, I buy them from my local spice shop, water, and kirby cucumbers.

The ratio is very simple. For every 2 quarts of water you need 1 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup kosher salt. Put those ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil. After you have sterilized the jars by soaking them in boiling water, put one tablespoon of your pickling spices into the bottom of each jar. I add a teaspoon of red hot pepper flakes for a little kick , but you don’t have to. I also add two sprigs of dill to each jar if I have it on hand.

While the water is coming to a boil cut the Kirby cucumbers into either spears or slices. I find that 6 pounds of Kirby’s makes 5 1 quart jars of pickles. This batch I did both.

Once the water comes to boil top off the cucumbers with the brine, seal the jars, done and done. They will keep in the fridge for months. You can also pickle nearly any vegetable using this brine. Cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, green beans (yellow ones work best.)

Pickles

6 pounds Kirby’s
4 quarts water
2 cups vinegar
1 cup Kosher Salt (or pickling)
5 tablespoons pickling spice
5 teaspoons red pepper flakes
10 sprigs dill

Now that the secret is out, my phone is sure to stop ringing.

June 22, 2012

CSA cooking. My Very Own Version of ‘Chopped.’

After being gone for nearly nine months, opened a restaurant, restaurant …I’m back. Once I got done catching up on my sleep, I started catching up with my life and was delighted to find that I could still sign up for a CSA share. For those not in the know, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share is where you purchase a share (or a half-share in my case) directly from the farmer and you pick up your farm fresh vegetables once a week. I connected to my CSA share through Just Food, which has an easy CSA finder interface, for NYC residents. Click the link to find one near you.

1st CSA Haul

I paid $400 for fresh vegetables once a week from June 4th to November 1st. Which comes out to around $20 a week. I did pay extra for the eggs (4.50) and the strawberries (4.50).

In last weeks ‘basket’ was 4 potatoes, two onions, spinach, chard (which I had never cooked with), scallions, cilantro, radishes and an enormous head of boston lettuce. Obviously, this move was fueled by my desire for farm fresh food, and to help out local farmers, but I also did it to push myself out of my culinary comfort zone. Instead of browsing websites or cookbooks looking for something new to cook and then going shopping with a list of ingredients, I now have to look at my very own ‘Chopped’ basket and figure out how to cook for the week with what I have. It’s changing my cooking already more than I would have thought.

Working under the same idea, I went to the farmers market told myself just to pick up what looked good and worry about the recipes later.   I ended up with cod, scallops and turkey sausage. What I made last week was Fish and Chips, Chard with Chickpeas and Sopressata, Strawberry Jam, Turkey Sausage Meatballs with Cilantro and Spinach in a Shallot White Wine Sauce and Scallops with Panzanella. There was a salad at every meal, including lunch (sometimes was lunch).

The simplest of those recipes is of course the Strawberry Jam. Though 1 quart of berries only yielded me around 5 ounces of jam, it is delicious and super quick!

Strawberry Jam

1 quart strawberries
1 cup cane sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
zest of 1 lemon

Wash and hull and halve the strawberries. Put them into a pot with the sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Stir. Turn heat on medium-high and cook the berries down about 20 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. You don’t want it at a boil, a slow bubbling is ideal.

Bubbling

That’s it. Place in jar and refrigerate. Want a larger batch? Just double or triple the recipe.

The smell that permeated my apartment was better than any incense or candle and made it worth making the jam all in its own. Not to mention the gorgeous color.

August 25, 2011

Homemade Ramen Noodle Soup in 15 minutes!

This was the very first video that Kristin Booker from FashionStyleBeauty.com and I did together, and though it is rougher than the later ones, it’s actually a great recipe for homemade ramen noodle soup and can easily be vegan, just sub in vegetable stock for a meat based stock.

August 24, 2011

Stir-Fried Green Beans with Coconut

This almost seems like cheating as a recipe because though it has a lot of ingredients to give it flavor it’s so, so simple. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about coconut as a flavor in savory foods. But what I liked about this dish was that the coconut lended an really interesting texture as much as flavor. This dish managed to taste fresh, as well as a little smoky and had a lovely exotic flair from the coconut. This was equally as good cold as it was warm. You also can use this cooking method with nearly any vegetable of your choice.

Stir-Fried Green Beans with Coconut

1 1lb chopped green beans (small)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

6-8 dried curry leaves (you can use fresh)

1 cry red chili

1 tablespoon urad Dahl (lentils, for texture)

1 tablespoon chang Dahl(different sized lentils, for texture)

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons oil for frying

1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened coconut

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium/high heat. Add the dried red chili, urad dahl, chang dahl, curry leaves,  black mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook until the cumin seeds pop. Add the chopped green beans to the pan and sprinkle with the turmeric, chili powder and salt.

Stir through the spices and then add coconut. Stir all of this together and then cover and cook until the beans reach desired doneness. I like mine crunchy so it didn’t take long at all, 7-10 minutes. If you want them softer you will probably have to add 1/4 cup water during the cooking process so the spices and coconut don’t stick to the pan.

August 23, 2011

Video: Thai Crispy Duck Salad

This recipe is so popular that it deserves a video.

August 19, 2011

Fenugreek Parathas Stuffed with Cauliflower and Radishes

Continuing the paratha fun, which being able to make is a great recipe to have in ones arsenal for entertaining because everybody loves them and it isn’t difficult to make large, varied batches and they freeze well. I mean who doesn’t love delicious leftovers? This dough is just a regular paratha dough with a tablespoon of fenugreek leaves added.

Paratha Dough With Fenugreek Leaves

2 1/2 cups chapati atta

1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves

1 tablespoon oil

4 ounces of water

Put the flour into a bowl and add the oil mixing through thoroughly. Then add the fenugreek leaves. Add the water slowly, while you are kneading the dough until you achieve a dough that is elastic but not too sticky.

Then wrap in saran wrap and let sit for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime chop 1/2 head of cauliflower into small pieces and put into a food processor and grind until very fine.

Cauliflower Filling

1/2 cauliflower ground

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 pinch asafoetida

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1/4 green chili minced

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

1 handful cilantro

Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and asafoetida, cook until the seeds pop and add the red onion, stir then add the cauliflower and the rest of the spices. Cook for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir through the cilantro leaves.

Put in bowl and set aside until ready to stuff.

Radish Filling

3 large red radishes, you can use any kind of radish you have around, minced or ground in a processor

1/2 green chili, minced

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1/2 tablespoon garam masala

1 pinch turmeric

1 pinch red chili powder

1 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro.

No oil goes into the pan when you cook this because you want to cook the moisture out of the radish so this filling takes just a touch longer.

Put everything in a pan except for the cilantro.

Cook over a medium heat until the radish is a red brown in color and the moisture has been cooked away.

Then stir the cilantro through. Now, you are ready to stuff.

Take the dough and unwrap it. Roll it with your hands into a tube  and roll it in chapati flour. Then break off large meatball sized pieces and roll into balls.

Using your fingers create a disk from the ball, like a small pizza. Fill the dough with 2 tablespoons of either the cauliflower or the radish filling, press the seam together, dust each side with chapati flour and press down with your hands to get a flat thin disk.

Then roll to the thickness of a pita.

Don’t worry if some of the filling comes out.  Here you have two cooking options, you can put oil in a pan and fry these, or you can dry roast them in one pan, browning on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side, and then brush them with oil and quickly fry them in a second pan. This is what we did.

For the egg stuffed paratha go here for the recipe.

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