Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet Potato Curry Puffs

This little side dish was inspired by one of my favorite restaurants, Suwanna in Saint John.  They are kind of a Thai/Samosa type side.  I served it alongside a Red Thai Curry Beef.  So yummy!  I know these aren't exact measurements, but I was making it up and winging it.  You get the idea.

Here's what I did.  I boiled a few sweet potatoes and then drained and mashed them with a little bit of butter.  In a frying pan, I sauteed some diced shallots, grated ginger, and pressed garlic with a teaspoon or so of curry powder.  I added the sweet potato and mixed up together, allowing the flavors to work together.

I then took some filo dough, brushed a little melted butter over top.  I cut the dough into strips and put a spoonful of potato mix on each at the end.  I then folded up the puffs into triangles (like samosas or spanikopitas).  I brushed a little more melted butter on top of them and baked them at 425* for about 10 minutes.  

They worked out better even better than I hoped and can't wait to make them again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Feast of Indian Food

I don't think there's a week that goes by in our house without me making one kind of curry or another. All of these recipes came from 2 of my favorite cookbooks. I became so addicted the the Bhajis, I made them again the following week. So tasty (and probably terrible for you, but great with a glass of beer)

Jamie Oliver's Vegetable Bhajis
One of my favorite discoveries this year.

2 large carrots (I used sweet potato instead the second time I made these and they were just as good)
a 4 inch piece of ginger root
2 medium red onions (I substituted the equivalent in shallots)
2-3 red chilies (I didn't have these so I used jalapenos instead)
a large bunch of fresh cilantro
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp sea salt
1 heaped cup self rising flour (I don't carry this on hand, I used one cup all purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1 quart vegetable oil
a piece of potato (to test oil heat)
juice of 1 lemon
2 limes (optional)

Peel and grate or shred the carrots, ginger and red onions and put them into a large bowl. Finely chop the chiles and add to the bowl. Roughly chop the cilantro. Add the mustard seeds, tumeric, cumin seeds, salt and chopped cilantro to the bowl, Add the flour, plus 1/2 cup of cold water and scrunch together using your hands. The mixture will be messy and thick.

Use a deep fat fryer if you have one, which I don't. I used a large cooking pot. Add the oil. Drop in a piece of potato - when it floats to the surface and begins to sizzle, the oil is ready. Remove the potato using a slotted spoon. Pick up a tbsp of the bhaji mixture, press it together and carefully lower it into the hot oil. Repeat so you are cooking several at once. Cook for 5 minutes until they are crispy and golden. Remove using the slotted spoon and put them on some paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and squeeze of lemon juice (I skipped that part). Repeat with other bhajis.
Serve with lime wedges.

*Bhajis can be made with all sorts of vegetables, just keep the onions the same.

Jamie Oliver's Vindaloo

2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic
1-2 red chiles (I left this out, I knew the vindaloo paste would make it hot enough for me without)
a thumb sized piece of ginger
a small bunch of fresh cilantro
4 ripe tomatoes (I didn't have on hand so I used 4 canned tomatoes instead)
peanut or vegetable oil
a pat of butter
1 3/4 pounds meat (he suggests pork shoulder, I used chicken)
1/2 cup vindaloo or hot curry paste (Patak's is the best)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 cup plain yogurt
1 lemon

Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Finely slice the chile. Pee and finely slice the ginger. Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.

Use a large casserole type pan. Put it on medium to high heat with a little oil and the butter. Add the onions, garlic, chile, ginger, and cilantro stalks and cook for 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the meat and the curry paste. Stir well to coat everything with the paste and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the tomoatoe, balsamic vinegar, honey and 1 2/3 cup water and stir again. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes. Check and stir regularly to keep the meal from catching on the pan. Add extra water if you need it. Serve over rice (basamati is best for Indian curries)

Dal with Coconut Milk
(from Mangoes and Curry Leaves)

This is a dish from Sri Lanka, and so tasty. Don't get over excited about the coconut milk like I did and add too much, stick with the measurements listed to make a nice, thick dal.

1 cup masur dal, washed (orange-red lentil)
5 cups water

1 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced shallots or red onion
6-8 fresh or frozen curry leaves
2-3 dried red chiles
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk

Put dal in a medium pot with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the head to a low simmer and cook fo 20 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.
Heat a wok or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add the oil.. Toss in the garlic and shallots and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the curry leaves, chiles and ground coriander. Mix well and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and coconut milk. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the tempering mixture to the dal and simmer for a for minutes to blend the flavors. The thicker you simmer it the thicker it will get.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candy Cane Cookies

This little twist on the traditional sugar cookie is just what we needed to jump start our Christmas baking.  It was so easy to do.  Make your regular sugar cookie recipe.  Add 1/4 cup* of crushed candy cane to the dough, mix it in well.  Bake as usual

Once the cookies are done baking let them cool for just a couple of minutes, then press them one by one into a mix of equal parts icing sugar powder and crushed candy cane (3 tbsp of each).  So tasty!

To crush your candy canes, put about 8 regular sized ones into a ziplock bag.  Cover with a tea towel.  Pound with a rolling pin or a meat hammer until the candy is in little bits.

Here's my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  It is from Mrs. Field's Best Cookie Book Ever
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 325*.  In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk, set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add the egg and vanilla, beat until well mixed.  Add the flour mixture, Blend on a low speed just until combined, don't overmix.  Gather the dough into a ball, flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate one hour until firm.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into fun shapes.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

*1/4 cup candy cane was added to half of the dough, the other half I baked as directed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pita Pizzas with a Kick - a guest post

My husband has been creating in the kitchen again. Here's his great twist on our pita pizzas!

Cooking never has to be boring. If you cooking is boring and you are tired of the same old flavors then you need to mix it up a bit. One of my favorite ways to mix it up lately is to add a twist of Indian. I used this recipe from and added a half a teaspoon of Patak’s Vindaloo Curry Paste. Yum! I kept the quantity small enough so as not to override the flavor of the pizza sauce, but to add a twinge of Indian kick. The result: wow!

2 Greek Pitas
Pizza Sauce w/ Indian Kick
½ Onion (thinly sliced)
½ Red Pepper (thinly sliced)
Cheddar (grated)
Feta Cheese (grated)
15 Kalamata Olives

What gives these pita pizzas such a gourmet flavor is the flavor of the ingredients themselves. Lately, Kristen and I have switched from using Red Bell Peppers to Long Sweet Red Peppers. They have a robust flavor. You don’t need a lot of feta cheese to add great flavor.  The onions and peppers are sweet, the feta and the Kalamata olives are bitter and salty. This pizza sauce has a wonderful taste even without the “Indian Kick”, due to the garlic, herbs, and honey. Slice up the vegetables, grate the cheese, remove the pits from the olives and slice them up. (I prefer Kalamata olives in brine to canned sliced olives as they have much more flavor.)

Cover the pitas with as much sauce as you like. Add the pepperoni, onion, pepper, olives, cheese, and then bake at 350 for 20 min. Enjoy your gourmet pita pizzas!

Another variation on these pizzas:

2 Greek Pitas
Pizza Sauce w/ Indian Kick
½ Red Pepper (thinly sliced)
1 shallot (thinly sliced)
¼ Onion (thinly sliced)
½ Jalapeno Pepper (thinly sliced)
1 clove of Garlic (crushed)
6 oz Rotisserie Chicken (cut in chunks)
1 tsp Olive oil
Cheddar Cheese
Feta Cheese
Kalamata olives

In a small fry pan lightly sauté the thinly sliced shallots, onion, garlic, and Jalapeno pepper in Olive oil, and then cool. Cover the pitas with pizza sauce, add onion, garlic, shallot mix, and spread evenly. Add chunks of chicken, red pepper, and Kalamata olives. Finish with cheese and bake at 350 for 20 min on a baking sheet. Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce:

Pizza Sauce Recipe from
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees
F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, anchovy paste, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese.
Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making Pasta

Last week, a friend of mine asked me if I'd like to come by and make pasta with her.  I've never used a pasta maker before so I was pretty excited to see how it worked.  It was surprisingly easy, just time consuming.  But time flies by when you are creating in the kitchen with a friend.  Here's the recipe and how it all went.

2 cups flour (we did one batch with 1 1/2 cups white and 1/2 cup whole wheat and then a second batch that was 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat, both worked)
3 eggs
1 tsp water
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture begins to form a ball.  Kneed the dough for a few minutes, sprinkling extra flour as necessary so the dough is not sticky.  Cut dough into 4 pieces.  Cover 3 with plastic wrap while working with the first one.  Flatten out a little by hand or rolling pin and follow your pasta roller's instructions to create the kind of pasta you desire.  I made fetuccini noodles with mine, and my friend made lasagna.  I'll be posting the alfredo sauce my husband made to go with it soon. 

 getting set to mix
 the dough
 me using the pasta roller to flatten the dough down
 cutting the noodles
The noodles drying