Archive for ‘Apps’

June 23, 2011

Beef Stuffed Naan

We’ve been working on Naan dough which is deceptively simple. The ingredients in Naan dough are; all-purpose flour, yeast, yogurt, a little milk and a little water. The first time we made it we started the yeast foaming by adding 1 teaspoon sugar to a yeast packet and 1/2 cup warm water. We then let it sit to foam until it looked like this (about 10 minutes):

While the yeast was getting active, we took 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and put it into a bowl. Then added 3/4 cup yogurt and stirred gently and added 1 teaspoon salt and the yeast and water. The dough should hold together but be quite liquidy. You might need to add a little milk, you might not. Set aside and let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes. The first time we did this the dough it was very difficult to handle, very sticky and once formed into balls required a lot of rolling in flour for the Naan to get the right consistency.

But the results at this dinner were amazing. It was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. It was light and airy and I didn’t want to share. At. All.

Armed with our success,  Shiva and I both, separately, made Naan again, and though the results were good, honestly, neither of our results were quite as good as they were that night. Which meant it was time to experiment.

Taking the same principles and ingredients Shiva changed two things. He didn’t activate the yeast in water, so that took out 1/2 cup water, and once the yogurt and milk were added he kneaded the dough for 8-10 minutes and then let it rise.

This dough was MUCH easier to handle.

Shiva broke of palm sized balls and made round flat disks out of them just with his fingers, no rolling-pin necessary.

The Naan was then filled with the beef.

And sealed up.

The Naan dough remained, elastic, and a ‘joy to work with,’ as Shiva put it. We popped them into the oven at 400F, cooked for 10 minutes ending up with savory, bundles of goodness.

Shiva made some nice cooling Raita to dip the packets into or just to eat with a spoon. Admittedly, this wasn’t the healthiest meal I had eaten all week, but it was delicious.

Savory Beef Filling

for 8 large stuffed Naan

1 lb lean organic ground beef

1 tomato, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, minced or paste

1 teaspoon garlic, minced or paste

2 bay leaves

1 green cardamon pods cracked

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garam marsala

1 teaspoon cumin

4 cloves

1 decent sized piece of cinnamon from a stick, but not the whole stick, Shiva broke his apart with a hammer

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 bunch cilantro roughly chopped.

Cook the beef over a medium high heat in a separate pan until the pink is gone. Drain off as much of the fat as possible. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons neutral nut oil add the turmeric, chili, cumin and garam marsala and cook until fragrant then add onions and cook for 30 seconds, add the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Now, add all remaining spices including the ginger and garlic. When the onions and tomatoes are very soft, about 7 minutes, add the beef and cilantro and stir for 2 minutes, until well blended. Pull out the whole spices at this point. The filling can be made ahead of time.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour

3/4 cup good quality yogurt

1 packet dry active yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk (about)

Put flour, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix well. Add yogurt and stir, add milk as necessary until dough holds together, but keep it a little on the sticky side. Turn onto floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough gets that lovely elastic but not yet plastic consistency. Put back in bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

June 15, 2011

Homemade Paneer in less than 30 minutes. No Joke!

Paneer was one of those, ‘Shut the f*&k up!” moments for me. Cheese making is one of those things that I have been happy to leave to the experts and certainly when it comes to fancy cheeses this is still the case. But when Shiva showed me how to make my own Paneer, which is a soft spreadable cheese that you can press it into a block and cut cubes usually for frying, I honestly could not believe how easy it was.

Though sourcing is always extremely important to me, in this case it is vital to do this with milk that has not been pasteurized. The pasteurization process changes the molecular structure of the milk making it very difficult to separate the whey. The first time I tried this I did it with organic pasteurized milk and got ok results, but the next time when I did it with milk from the farmers market I got a tremendous yield and yesterday’s Paneer was fresh, smooth and slightly lemony.

You want to heat the milk to the point just before boiling.

When the milk reaches that point you want to add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, this will separate the milk, my picture didn’t turn out very well but you get the idea.

Once the separation has occurred, turn off the heat and let the milk cool down to avoid burning oneself while straining the milk through cheese cloth.

Then just lift the cheesecloth with the cheese in it and tie it so it can drain even further, mine only drained for a few minutes.

Once drained, open up the cloth and viola homemade cheese with no preservatives, hormones or salt!

Last night we just spread it on fresh bread but a few weeks ago we mixed the paneer with jarred cilantro sauce and spread it on fresh rotis that we also sprinkled with fried lentils and cucumbers.

The recipe for paneer is this: 1/2 gallon of whole unpasteurized milk and two tablespoons of lemon juice. You will need a cheesecloth and a strainer. That’s it, all you need for fresh cheese.

March 18, 2011

Teaching Andrew; Cheddar and Stewed Pinto Bean Whole Wheat Quesadillas with a Heart Salad

Ultimately the point of these lessons is to get Andrew out of fast/semi fast food places and into his kitchen. Imagine how my heart warmed (and that’s saying a lot) when we were in the grocery store buying this weeks sundries and the response to my query of,  “So, how are you Andrew?” was, “I’m excited!” With that my foul mood that had been following behind me like a dirty redheaded stalker evaporated.

This was my ideal goal, to help him reconnect with food and be excited about what he’s about to eat. Our plan is to arm Andrew with a weeks worth of relatively simple dinners that he feels confident about making before we start to branch out into the more complicated and exciting dishes. When at the meat counter he spied a boneless lamb shoulder roast trussed up and his eyes lit up, “What’s that?” “That’s a lesson for about three weeks from now.” Ultimately it is economical both in the wallet and on the clock to roast a large piece of meat and freeze individually wrapped portions for quick meals.

Instead of roasting a several pound chunk of animal flesh we went vegetarian. We took a can of organic pinto beans pinto beans that Andrew thought he liked more than black beans cooked them with onion, pepper and a couple of spices.

Quick Spiced Pinto Beans

1 12 oz can organic pinto beans

1 anaheim pepper, minced  (which we chose because it is very mild and Andrew isn’t a huge fan of hot pepper flavor)

1/2 large Spanish onion, diced

1/2 tablespoon of ancho chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the diced onion and minced pepper until the vegetables are soft. Add pinto beans with most of the water from the can and add the spices. Stir until spices are blended and let simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

While the beans were developing their flavor we made a fantastic salad with some fun microgreens. The ingredients in this salad are both briny and fresh, a winter salad with some spring tossed in. The chickpeas give protein and the avocados much needed fat because I’m eating vegan at the moment.

Heart of my Heart Salad

1/2 head Boston Green Leaf lettuce shredded

1 12 ounce can of artichoke hearts in water

1/2 12 ounce can of hearts of palm

1/2 avocado diced

1/2 cup radish microgreens

1/2 cup wasabi microgreens (of which Andrew said, “Interesting”)

1/2 12 ounce can of organic chickpeas

Balsamic vinaigrette (NOT Andrew’s favorite)

Once that was on the table we sliced 2 ounces of Dubliner cheddar very thin (Andrew doesn’t have a grater yet and so the cheese melts but the outside of the tortillas don’t burn) and heated 1 1/2 tablespoons of safflower oil in a large pan. We put one whole wheat tortilla in the hot oil, quickly sprinkled it with 1/2 of the cheese, then a 1 bean thick layer of the quick spicy beans then half of the cheddar topped it with the second tortilla and cooked until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. We then made a dipping sauce of equal parts sour cream and salsa. And voilà yet another meal in less than 30 minutes.

The lovely thing about knowing how to make a quesadilla, which may seem like a simple thing to many, is that you can put anything want in those babies.  One of my favorite combos is cheddar, mushrooms and kale, or jack, chorizo and red peppers, or queso blanco, black beans and avocado and the ever popular classic, pepper jack with just salsa and guacamole.

January 3, 2011

Sesame Noodles with Ginger Scallion Sauce

Sesame noodles are one of those dishes that can be amazing but more often than not tastes like someone took Government Issue peanut butter

Sesame Noodles with Ginger Scallion Sauce

heated it up and dumped it on over cooked noodles of some indistinguishable origin. I remember both the first time that I had terrible ones and the first time that I had really fresh, nutty, and strangely crisp tasting noodles. Right after I graduated college I worked on a theatre festival in Seattle’s China town. Right across from the theatre that was hosting the festival was a true neighborhood Chinese restaurant where I began to foster my obsession with pork stuffed steam buns and cold sesame noodle salad. Admittedly, this was partially financially driven, because I could get 3 large pork buns for 5 dollars, and the helping of sesame noodles was huge for around the same price. The accuracy of the taste that my memory had of those noodles came into question over time due to the fact that I couldn’t seem to recreate them nor find them exactly the way that I wanted them. Maybe I had made them up. The good news is that even a mediocre batch of sesame noodles is still quite edible. The better food news? The combination of Mark Bittman’s recipe for the noodles and David Chang’s Scallion and Ginger Sauce created the fresh, nutty, slightly creamy, eat them until your belly is too full, taste and sensation I was looking for. I eat these warm, as in just above room temperature and I find that the cold leftovers are not only easy to transport, cheap to make, keep well, but also taste equally delicious as their warm counterparts.



Sesame Noodles with Scallion Ginger Sauce

Courtesy of Bittman and Chang

This entire recipe will take you less than the amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles.

12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles, (or dry Chinese egg noodles, I like the curly ramen ones, the japanese ones are nice too)

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

½ cup tahini

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 ½ teaspoons hot sesame oil (optional, and to taste)

1 medium cucumber, seeded and grated

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then salt it generously.

In a bowl large enough for the sauce and noodles whisk together all the ingredients except for the cucumber. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream, add warm water as necessary, I find I need about ¼ cup to loosen it up. Stir the grated cucumber into the sauce.

Cook the noodles until tender but not mushy, only about 4 minutes even for the dried noodles. When the pasta is ready drain it and rinse it until warm water. Add the warmish noodles to the sauce and toss until evenly coated. Top with the scallion and ginger sauce.


Scallion and Ginger Sauce

2 ½ cups thinly sliced scallion

½ cup finely minced ginger

¼ cup grapeseed (any neutral oil will do)

1 ½ teaspoon light soy

¾ teaspoon Sherry vinegar

¾ teaspoon salt

Mix everything in a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes before using.

That’s it.

I find that if you add two tablespoon of this to 1/2 cup soy sauce and 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil with 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar you have an instant dipping sauce and salad dressing. I sometimes also drizzle this sauce over the Roasted Rice Cakes with Korean Red Dragon Sauce because I’m fancy like that.

December 30, 2010

Roasted Rice Cakes with Korean Red Dragon Sauce

Truly, I don’t know how it is that I had never had rice cakes. Indicating how much I have overlooked them is my total lack of memory of having ever seen them on a menu. My curiosity was finally peaked at the excitement that one of my dining companions at Momofuku had at their appearance on our slim paper menu. What arrived looked like gnocchi coated in a red sauce with a texture akin to ketchup, but with a heat that set my nose tingling even from the distance of the tabletop. These red cloaked, rice-gnocchi-looking-pillows were tossed with sesame seeds and sprinkled with scallions. It was truly love at first bite. The rice cakes were a little crispy on the outside and creamy clouds of slightly sweet smooth slightly chewy white rice in the middle. The spicy red dragon sauce’s sting nicely offset the sweet, a sting that continued to build forcing a break between every third rice cake. My first taste of dragon sauce resulted in the wonderful thought that I would never have to buy ketchup again.

When I got the Momofuku cookbook, I was delighted to find the recipe for this lovely snack/appetizer in it. I promptly wrote my list of ingredients and headed to the closest Korean mart, which luckily for me is walking distance. I don’t speak or read Korean and when you are in a real Korean store not all labels are translated. However, most imported foods have an ingredient and nutrition label in English and sometimes if you get lucky a brief translation of the actual label itself. My search for ssamjang was


fueled by the cookbook telling me it was a chili and fermented bean sauce and not much else. When I finally did find a container that said chili and bean paste in teeny tiny letters I then looked for the ssamjang that was the right color and grabbed it. Because of course ssamjang’s come in different flavors. Yea, yea, I know, I could have looked it up online before I went to the store, but I was excited and kind of got ahead of myself. I was lucky and they had some already defrosted rice cakes. If you can only find frozen ones thaw them before making this dish. These are quite rich and spicy and honestly I think a serving of 5 or 6 cakes per person is enough for an appetizer.

Both of these recipes are straight from the Momofuku cookbook, it’s all Chang all the way.

Korean Red Dragon Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

¾ cup ssamjang

2 tablespoons usukuchi (light soy sauce, which means in taste not in color, I was confused my first time trying to find it)

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Bring the water and sugar to boil in a small saucepan stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes then stir in the ssamjang until it dissolves, it has the consistency nearly of a tomato paste. Stir in the soy, vinegar and sesame oil, you can add more of any of these to taste.

Roasted Rice Cakes

¼ mirin (rice cooking wine)


¼ cup Ramen Broth (I did not have his Ramen broth made and used a pork stock I had on hand, obviously to make this dish entirely vegetarian just use a veggie stock )

½ cup Korean Red Dragon Sauce

¼ cup roasted onions

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

6 long rice cake sticks (mine were cut into two-inch pieces and came in a 2 lb bag, I used ¾ of a pound for this recipe)

Rice Cakes

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

½ cup sliced scallions (greens and whites)

Combine the mirin and broth in a saucepan that is large enough to accommodate the sauce and the rice cakes, turn the heat up to high. Boil to reduce until slightly thickened about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the dragon sauce and turn the heat down to medium reducing the sauce until is had a glossy consistency about 5 minutes. Stir in the roasted onion. Cover and keep warm over minimum heat until the rice cakes are cooked.

Heat a 12 inch skillet over a medium high heat until hot. Add the oil to the pan and just before the smoking point add the rice cakes. The should sizzle when they hit the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and sear the cakes for about 2 minutes per side you do want them a light brown but if you overdo it they will dry out. I found that once the skin started to bubble on the outside before they turned brown they were done. If you are using sticks cut them into 1 inch pieces.

Bring the sauce back to a boil and toss the cakes in the sauce until coated, just a few seconds. Sprinkle them with sesame seeds and toss again. Serve with a few large pinches of scallions and serve them as quickly as you can.

Roasted Rice Cakes with Korean Red Dragon Sauce

There were two pieces of good food news this week.

The USDA finally ruled that slaughter houses must euthanize downer cows, (finally) which are those cows that mysteriously fall over and die of unknown diseases (madcow in my opinion) and have still ended up on our plates.  This is a step in the right direction, however the enforcement of this will be difficult at best.

The good news is that Chung Po Liu who illegally imported honey to the United States that was contaminated with antibiotics will serve some jail time and has to pay 400,000 dollars in restitution, the bad news is he is 70 years old.

November 13, 2010

Virtual Cruising For Tangible Tastes

From the time that I was 15 years old I have collected my recipes by clipping them from various food magazines and newspapers and putting them in a sketchbook that I organized by section. In these books are also hand written recipes from all kinds of sources including other people’s mother’s recipes and other people’s cookbooks. In fact, before I started this blog 4 months ago I previously wrote a blog called 3×5 collections (better name than Food Thinking I know) that was dedicated to all the recipes that I had collected over the years. My initial idea for 3×5 collections was to create a community where people could share their favorite family/community recipes.

With food blogs being prevalent and increasingly influential, our access to recipes, food pictures and how-to videos has vastly changed the landscape of recipe collection and has thrown to the wind the idea that Aunt May’s buttermilk pie crust is truly the best crust in the world. How does one actually determine this with so many recipes for other people’s Aunt’s best buttermilk crusts available at ones fingertips? Not surprisingly my method of collecting recipes has shifted from the clip and paste with scissors and tape to the clip and paste of command V and command C. I no longer call my Aunt when I want to make buttermilk biscuits I get online and type in buttermilk biscuit recipes to my search engine. I find myself buying fewer cookbooks and reading more blogs. I look for inspiration vicariously through other people’s cooking experiences. In fact a lot of what I decide to cook is informed by what other people’s attempts look like in pictures that give me information based only on one of the senses engaged in the cooking/eating process.  What I decide to cook has in fact become almost entirely divorced from something that I actually tasted, wanted to honor and recreate. Instead, my choices are impulse and slightly competitive driven and I wonder what it means to find oneself cooking for an audience of people with whom I share food with only virtually at least in equal part with the people I actually share food with at a table.

Yesterday, I filled my first Food Thinking notebook and had to buy a new one. Before I put it on the shelf I made a list of every recipe that was in it to put at the beginning of the notebook so I would know where to find the recipes should I want them again in the future. In the spirit of honoring the intrinsic value of a good recipe and the care that it takes to create food, here is most of that list and where I got them. To all of my fellow bloggers who have helped nourish me and mine I sincerely thank you.

Korean BBQ Chicken Marinade- Bill Granger. I pulled this one off the T.V. 1 cup sugar,  1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon onion powder. 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 4 teaspoons hot chili paste.

Duck Noodle Salad- Bill Granger

Indian Spiced Yogurt Sauce- Anjum Anand, I use this on squash as well.

Jamie Oliver’s Tray Bake- I know this is his but the link is gone, here’s the recipe. 1 1/2 pounds lamb sausage (any kind will do, but this had balsamic, so a heavier sausage will hold up better. 1/2 pound shallots halved, 1 pound new potatoes halved, 5 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs rosemary, 5 sprigs oregano, two bulbs garlic stripped but leave the cloves whole, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon medium ground black pepper, 5 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar. Preheat the oven to 350. Preheat the empty roasting pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Once the pan is hot add the olive oil and the spices until they get fragrant but do not brown. Add in the potatoes and the cloves of garlic and toss in the oil and herbs. Add the shallots and the sausages and toss. Pour  the balsamic vinegar over the whole shebang and cook until the potatoes are done, about 45 minutes.

Tomatillo Soup with Shredded Chicken- Mariquita Farm

Chicken Tikka Marsala- Jamie Oliver

Sweet Potato Gnocchi- East Village Kitchen, her site had a major hiccup so I’m linking my own post.

Scallion Ginger Sauce- David Chang via You Fed a Baby Chili?

Tomato Jam with Ginger- Healthy Green Kitchen

Hummus- Epicurette In New York

Pad Thai- Ubiquitous Cravings

Unami Chicken Marinade- Bite Me New England

Vietnamese Roasted Game Hens- Ravenous Couple

Chicken Pumpkin Stew- Jehan Can Cook

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese- Jaime Oliver via Eat. Live. Travel. Write

Crispy Chicken with Chili Sauce-Egg Wan’s Food Odyssey

Seasoned Spinach (Sigumchi Namul)- Korean American Mommy

Mung Bean Salad- Korean American Mommy

Beef Jerky- My Man’s Belly

Pickled Carrots with Jalapenos-Southern Fried Curry– as a warning these are delicious but quite hot!

Stuffed Peppers- This Week For Dinner

Curried Goat- Them Apples

Pickles-Kitchen Konfidence

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