Thursday, July 31, 2008

Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani

The well known butter chicken dish. Surprisingly, I have never had this dish until we moved to Toronto. Had Chicken Tikka Masala million times, but not Butter Chicken. Similar but not the same. First time trying Butter Chicken, the only difference I could tell was Chicken Tikka Masala uses chunks of chicken breast, while Butter Chicken (the one I tried the first time and still my favorite's style) uses boned chicken breast and thighs.

Google and wikipedia frenzy, all the way to befriended restaurant staffs: I find this type of thing as very intriguing. So far, the newsflash seems to be that Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is the original version from Punjab, while Chicken Tikka Masala is a spin-off 'invented' by Brits. Both dish call for very well marinated chicken, 'roasted' in tandoori oven, however one is skewered chunks of chicken breast, the other is the entire bird (like Rotisserie Chicken, perhaps?) Makhani sauce has almonds in it and sometimes cream, while Butter Chicken, no almonds (though there are at least 2 places that serve it with almond slivers), and always involve some type of cream.

On top of all that, it seems that there are many variations of each dish. Some places serve very smooth thick creamy version, some has some little bites of tomatoes/onions to it. This is one recipe that I can safely say is very fun to try and doctor it to your own version.

Instead of almond/ cashew butter, I use few teaspoon of ground almond - does not make the dish any lighter per se, because the typical almon/cashew butter used in this recipe is pretty much almonds being grinded to smooth paste. I just happen to have ground almond and not the butter (neither feeling up to grinding it to paste) It doesn't alter the taste, just the texture; not as smooth or creamy.

- 1 chicken breast (I would have used thighs, drumsticks and chicken breast combination, but all I had in freezer was chicken breast)
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 1 tsp of sweet paprika
- 1/2 tbsp of hot chili powder (optional, or add to taste)
- 1 tsp of jaggery, crushed finely (or sugar)
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp of lime juice

- Mix all the ingredients (except chicken) to make a paste. Slather on top of chicken. Make sure all chicken pieces are coated by spice paste.
- Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours; over night preferably.
- Wrap chicken in aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees. Baking time depends on size. Test by piercing tip of knife through thickest part of chicken, when juice runs out clear, chicken is cooked. Once cooked, switch to broil setting to get the brownish a little charred chicken. It will only take couple minutes.
- Let chicken rest before cutting. Cut to desired size.

- 2 tbsp butter
- pinch of hing/ asafoetida
- 3 tbsp tomato paste (or substitute with 1 small can of whole tomatoes/chopped tomatoes)
- 3 cloves
- 5 cm cinnamon stick
- 1 small onions, grated or chopped very finely
- 1 tbsp garlic, grated
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1 jalapenos, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp hot chili powder (optinal)
- 2 or 3 tbsp ground almond
- 2 cups of water (or chicken broth)
- 1/2 cup of yogurt
- 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves/ methi leaves

- Heat butter in pot. Add the pinch of hing.
- Toss in onions, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Stir until onions are translucent.
- Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chili powder. Stir well.
- Add tomato paste and ground almond. Stir. Some oil should start to separate.
- Low heat to medium low, add in yogurt. Stir and mix thoroughly.
- Pour in chicken broth/ water. Let it thicken.
- Add chicken to simmering sauce and let it warm through.
- Sprinkle fenugreek leaves into pot, let it simmer for a while.

Delicious with basmati rice (while cooking the rice, try to add some cumin seeds, cloves and pinch of salt to it) and naan. If there is leftover, I cut it up to smaller chunks and use it as filling to pita bread.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Salmon Baked in Parchment Paper

There are easy dishes. Then there are lazy dishes. This recipe here is both easy and lazy dish category, for sure. Just throw everything in parchment pouch, slide it in oven. No mess, no pan to wash, neither baking sheet. If accustomed with slicing things without cutting board, then no board to wash.

- 500-600 gr ( 1/2 lbs) salmon
- 4 shiitake mushroom, sliced
- 1 inch ginger, julienne, cut into thin strips
- 2 cloves garlic, cut to thin slices
- 1 jalapenos, julienne
- 1 tbsp black beans sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- salt & pepper
- dash of sesame oil
- dash of vegetable oil/ canola oil
- dash of rice wine vinegar

- Lie a piece of parchment paper on baking sheet. Make sure it's big enough to wrap the salmon and enough to be folded.
- Score the skin of salmon. Seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Scatter few pieces of mushroom on the paper; reserve some aside. Put the salmon on top of it.
- Mix the rest of ingredients in a bowl. Pour on top of salmon. Try to tuck in few pieces of ginger and garlic inside the score mark.
- Put the reserved mushroom slices on top of salmon.
- Wrap the parchment paper, but lifting one end to meet the other end. Fold at least two times. Do the same with the side. Fold down the edges, just to make sure the pouch is all sealed up.
- Slide it in to preheated 350 degree oven. Depending on size, it'll cook very quickly. Mine is done in 20 minutes.
- Once taken out from oven, just let it rest for couple minutes. Bring it with table, all in parchment paper.
Note: Some baby bokchoy is nice addition to the pouch, or as matter of fact, any vegetables. It can be easily made to one pouch meal.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Debras and Aloo Dish

We were watching Vik's cousin's (Pankti's) wedding DVDs and there was this one part in what I believe, is Griha Shanti, a pre-wedding ritual, and there was lunch being served to family and guests. I was pointing at Dhokla (one of my favorite snacks!) while Vik was more interested in this Aloo dish. The actual dish name escapes me; I was thinking Dum Aloo, hm..will have to confirm it with mom in law. :)

I happen to have 1/2 bag of new potatoes from our camping meal. So, there we go.

- about 25 small new potatoes, halved
- pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 chillies, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 to 1 tsp hot chili powder (we like it very hot and spicy, adjust to taste)
- 2 tbsp yogurt (make sure it's very thick kind of yogurt)
- salt

- Heat oil in pot. Add pinch of hing. Toss in onions, garlic, ginger, chillies. Fry until soft.
- Add all spices (except yogurt and potatoes). Stir.
- Add in tomato paste. Stir and fry until oil separated.
- Add potatoes to pot and stir until it is well coated with spices. Add in salt. Fry/cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add in yogurt. Stir thoroughly.
- Pour about 1 cup of water. Lower heat to medium low, cover. Stir occasionally. When fork can be inserted easily through potatoes, dish is ready.

It is really just a version of simple rotlis (wheat flour, water and salt), mixed with chopped up spinach, finely chopped green chilies, some yogurt, and masala (ground coriander and turmeric powder.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beef Stroganoff

Another dish that has many variation in ingredients and way of serving - as it 'migrates' (originated in Russia) and being brought into and served in different part of the world.

I would rather serve it with wide egg-noodles, but I have these few different pasta; cup of this, cup of that. It bugs me when I have these kind of random bits tucked inside my pantry. Hence, excuse the mix of different looking pasta. :)

- tenderloin, cut into strips, seasoned with salt and pepper
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 garlic, minced
- 4 oz buttom mushrooms, sliced rather thickly
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tbsp mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp dill, chopped
- 3 cups short pasta/ egg noodles, cooked and toss in little butter

- Heat olive oil in pan. Toss in beef strips. Just let it brown quickly, 1 minute per side. Don't overcook.
- Put cooked beef aside.
- Melt butter in the same pan, scrape al the brown bits. Toss in shallots and garlic. Fry until shallots soft.
- Add mushrooms. Saute until mushroom get soft and brownish.
- Pour in beef broth, let it simmer for a while.
- Stir in sour cream and mustard. Toss beef strips. Simmer until meat is heated through.
- Add paprika and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Make a well in the pasta pile, and top it with beef and sauce.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Asian Style Short Ribs

There is this restaurant in Lville that we frequented when we still lived there. Always always ordered their BBQ Ribs. It's a Chinese restaurant, so supposedly, this is kinda Chinese BBQ Ribs, yeah? But then, any other places we find such ribs, usually Korean joints. So, Asian Style Short Ribs it is.

Make this so often that I just absentmindedly mix the ingredients together. The ratio of each ingredients is pretty much adjustable to taste though, I may say. Those simple 'dressings/marinade' that one can taste along while whipping it up. If you like it sweeter, hit more honey. We like tons garlic and ginger.

- garlic, minced
- ginger, grated
- soy sauce
- honey
- sesame oil

- rice wine vinegar
- brown sugar
- pepper
- scallions

- Mix all the ingredients (except the ribs) in a bowl. Whisk well.
- Put the ribs to the marinade. Make sure all ribs are nicely covered with marinade. Cover.
- Let it marinade for at least 4 hours in the fridge.
- Heat grill, or pan. Cook ribs until it has some crisp and cha
r. Try not to flip the ribs too often. Just flip once, when one side is nicely grilled, flip to the other side.
- Garnish with chopped scallions.

- Grill is the preferred method. Though honestly, the o
nly time I bother to start up grill, clean and scrub the grill, etc, is when I cook this in massive amounts for party. Otherwise, I just heat my pan in high heat (it has to be sizzling hot to get the charred effect), and pretend that it is a grill.

Do not overcrowd the pan. I have a big pan that fits 5-6 ribs comfortably at once, thus I only have to do two rounds of 'grilling.' If few more time of cooking needed (smaller pan), lower the heat between cooking (when transfering the cooked ribs to putting in fresh ones to pan). The high heat will char/ burn the next round very quickly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quick Lunch Salad

- 1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- olives, pitted
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced
- 1 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 eggs, boiled, sliced
- 1 chicken breast, pan-seared. Once cooked, let rest for couple minutes before cutting.

Dressings, whisk together:
- 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream or mayo (I don't like too creamy mayo kind of salad dressings, so I use yogurt instead, or mix between yogurt and sour cream, but mayo is fine too)
- 1 tbs honey
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, squeezed out the juice
- 1 teaspoon hot mustard
- salt and pepper

- Toss, toss, toss..

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camping: Peach Coffee Cake

Very easy coffee-cake and have never met anybody who doesn't like it! Original recipe called for apricot preserve as filling, but any preserves can be used. I have one jar of peach preserves that Vik thinks it's too chunky and tart to use as spread. So I thought it'd be perfect to use it for this recipe.

I can't remember the magazine where I get this recipe from. I just have a copied version of it, but vaguely, I think it's Southern Living or magazine along that line.

Instead of original 13x9x2 baking dish, which I don't have, I usually use round 10 inches, or two loaf pans. My mom even tried it on muffin cups. Below is the 'full' size recipe, but for the camping weekend, I just made half recipe that yield 2 small loaf pans.

- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking pwder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 jar preserves (try not to use jelly or smooth type jam)

Mix together:
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups flaked coconut

- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl. Set aside.
- Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add milk and vanilla, mix well.
- Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Beat until just moistened. Don't overbeat.
- Spread half batter into greased baking dish (I like to line mine with parchment paper).
- Carefully spread filling/ preserves over batter. Spread remaining batter on top of preserves.
- Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Or less if using smaller pan.
- Take cake out from oven. Spoon topping over the cake. Gently press down the topping. Broil for 1-2 minutes until topping turn golden brown.

Camping: Fruit Mix

Very simple basic fruit mix. Here, I use green and red grapes, strawberry, cantaloupe, and kiwi. Any combination will do, but since I won't be serving it right away, I avoid using fruits that tend to turn mushy and/or change color overtime.

Drizzle some honey, toss, and store in 'chilled' tupperware. The night before, I squeeze some lime juice to ice cube tray and let it freeze. Just before packing to cooler, toss in the lime juice 'ice-cube' to container.

Along with this, I also make some almond pudding (which I forgot to take pictures of) - just those almond pudding from the box. Cube them up, put them in separate container. Chilled. Mix to fruit cocktail just before eating/serving.

Camping: Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars
- 2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest

- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp condensed milk
- 2 tbs grated lemon zest
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup flour

- Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy.
- In low speed, mix in flour and salt, just until everything is well incorporated.
- Form dough to ball with hand. Take out from mixing bowl.
- Flatten dough to round disk and press into 9x13x2 baking pan.
- Build 1/2 inches around the edge. Chill for 15 minutes in fridge.
- While crust is in fridge, make the filling by whisking together all the ingredients.
- Bake the crust in preheated 325 F oven for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Take out from oven and let cool on counter.
- Pour filling. Bake for another 30-35 minutes. Cut to triangles or squares. Dust with confectioners sugar.

- When grating lemon zest, use very light hand and don't over do it, the white part of lemon peel has bitter taste.
- This recipe has been altered (combination of Barefoot Contessa and Paula Deen) and ratio of sugar is very less compared to original recipes. I like very lemony, tart bars. When mixing the filing (don't add the eggs yet), just dip a spoon/ finger and give it a taste. Add more sugar if it's too tart. Mixing some orange peel and orange juice also will lessen the tartness of lemon.
- I don't have 13x9x2 pan, so I have used anything from 10-12' tart pan, mini muffin tin, 4x10x2 pans (to make layered cakes).

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Another very easy cookies to make.

Most of the time when I make these cookies, I shape it to crescent shape. It looks more delicate, just like the texture and taste of the cookies. Though there are times that I just roll it into balls, especially if I have to make dozen dozen batch of it. Or, experiment with different shape, oval, etc.

I was hoping to make crescent shape today, but somehow (I wonder if it's the heat in kitchen, from all day grilling and baking) the dough, as I roll it, goes soft pretty quickly, which make it harder to shape to crescent. So, round shape it is. :)

These cookies remind me of 'kue salju' ('snow cookies') we used to have while growing up. I wasn't particularly fond of it - too sweet and what a mess, eating 'em, sticky sugary powder. Mexican wedding cookies is not as dense as kue salju and has little crunch to it, from its coarsely chopped pecans.

- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans

- Beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Add in vanilla.
- At low speed, gradually add flour. Once well combined, mix pecans in the dough with spatula.
- Shape dough to balls and prefereably, into crescent shape. Or, it can be pressed into oval or round shape.
- Bake in preheated 350F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the bottom of cookies golden brown. Cookies will bake very quickly.
- Once cooled, dust more confectioner sugar on top of it. I like to dust only very little before storing it. Then, dust more just before serving.

The dough will have very creamy soft consistency/ texture, hence, make the rolling somewhat tricky. I found that especially in very hot day, even when the dough stays in its shape, the heat from my hand soften the dough more as I roll it. I guess if it becomes really hard to work with, try to put it in fridge for few minutes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Camping : Quiche.

Finally we got the chance to go camping this year!! :)

We decided that the big meals will be typical camping meals - of course, one of the fun things going camping is all those meals over firepit, grill, and such. Surely though, 'I' have to cook/bake something!! Everybody kinda give in with that thoughts already, dessert and sweet stuff, sure. As long as I don't try to drag the entire kitchen with me. Heehee.

Plus, we are the only one that has next to zero camping equipment. The few camping things we took with us from KY were the tent and 1 sleeping bag. So, I feel like we have to contribute in something, yes? Since everything else will be borrowed from everyone else' stuff. :D

So..Light quiche and cold cucumber salad as Friday night meal. Few nibbles: Lemon Bars and Mexican Wedding Cookies. Peach Coffee-cake. Lemon Blueberry sponge cake. And fruit cocktail with almond pudding.

- 1 pie shell (store bought or home-made)
- 2 eggs
- handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbs parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 1 box of spinach
- broccolis, chopped/ cut to small florets
- 1 carrots, shred
- 1/2 onion, cut to thin rings (optional)

- Whisk together cheese, parsley, oregano, milk, half and half, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Give it a taste (whether need extra cheese, etc), before adding eggs to it. Mix in eggs, whisk.
- Bake empty pie shell in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes.
- Heat 2 tbs olive oil in pan and cook onions until it caramelizes. Let cool for a little bit.
- Assemble quiche by pouring caramelized onions to the shell. Spread it thinly to cover the base of shell.
- Scatter the spinach, then broccoli, shredded carrots, to fill up the quiche shell.
- Gently pour the liquid ingredients on top of vegetables. Add some shredded swiss on top of it.
- Slide it back to oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs/liquid part is set.

Typical quiche is richer, denser and creamier, due to more eggs, cheese (swiss/gruyere) and using whole milk and/or cream. Very tempted to make it that way, but imagining that we'd be eating burgers, sausages, chicken, peameal bacon, eggs breakfast for the next two days camping - I thought better and made less guilt quiche. Wishful thinking. We were hungry and exhausted after putting up tent in heavy rain that after we had quiche, we fired up the grill and ate some more!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Steak with Red Wine Sauce

There is a little bit of red wine sit in the fridge. I hate anything goes to waste. Vik voted for mussels with red wine; which means we'll have to make a trip to get the mussels. Er! No way!

- sirloin steak
- 2 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut to chunks
- 2 tbsp dill, chopped
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/4 cup half and half, or cream
- 1 cup chicken broth (optional)
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 garlic, minced
- peppercorn
- salt and pepper

- Put potatoes in pan. Fill water just until it covers potatoes. Dash of salt. Cook covered.
- Seasoned steak with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tbs olive oil in pan. Place steak to hot pan. Brown one side (2-3 minutes). Flip and brown the other side. Handle steak as little as possible, don't keep flipping, to retain the juice inside the steak.
- Once both sides browned, slide pan (make sure it's oven safe) to oven and let it bake for 6-7 minutes, depending on how thick and also, how do you want it cooked. Rare, med-rare, medium-well, welldone.
- Drained cooked potatoes. Toss in some butter and mashed potatoes. Toss in dill. Pour some half and half/cream. Add few tablespoon of chicken broth. Seasoned to taste.
- Once steak is out from oven. Let it sit on platter for couple seconds, tent with aluminium foil to keep the heat.
- Return pan to stove, under medium heat. Toss in little butter and scrape the bottom of pan to get all the flavorful bits from steak. Toss in shallots, garlic and peppercorn.
- Pour in red wine. Stir. Let it reduces and thicken.
- Pour in chicken broth. Add dash of salt and pepper. Let simmer for a while.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Salmon Cakes

All the four weekends since we got back from our vacation were filled with one thing or another. So, last night we decided to spend most of the Saturday at home, knowing that we are meeting up friends tonight.

Long story short, two friends dropped by to lend me some tools. I was chopping up some onions for chicken black bean soup and curry puff. Of course, I HAD to offer them to stay for brunch with us. It's kinda rude, yeah, if I didn't?

Got to improvise somehow though, cause there won't be enough food (even as light brunch) for the four of us. I have nice fresh salmon fillet, so we thought some salmon cakes will work pretty nicely.

- about 400 gram fresh salmon fillet
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 lemon, sliced
- 1 tbs mayo
- 1 tsp horseradish
- 2 tbs dill, chopped
- juice from the other half of lemon
- 1 small potato, boiled and mashed (optional)
- salt and pepper
- bread crumb

- Cook salmon by putting it inside a pot, fill water just enough to cover the salmon. Toss in bay leaf and sliced lemon. Once cooked, transfer it to cutting board or platter. Let it cool for a while.
- While salmon is cooling, mix the rest of ingredients thoroughly.
- Once salmon cooled, flake the flesh with fork. Then gently fold it to creamy mixture. Do not overmix, or salmon will break up too much. Mix just until the mixture can hold together pretty good.
- Shape it to patties. Depending on size; with 3" patties, we got 6 of them. Dredge it on bread crumb. Arrange patties on parchment paper.
- Put it inside the fridge for 10 minutes to firm it up a little bit, so that it holds nicely when pan-fried or baked.
- Transfer the patties with the parchment paper to baking sheet. Drizzle tiny bit of olive oil to patties.
- Bake in preheated oven at 400F, for 15 minutes or when it's golden brown.

Use panko (japanese bread crumb) for lighter and crunchier coating. We opted to bake it instead pan fried it. Healthier, I guess. And since we have those puff baking in the oven, we thought might as well bake the cakes too. It just taste as good, the only drawback is that baked version tend to come out less moist. But nobody is complaining. :)

Pan-fried version: Heat oil in pan. Slide patties to the pan. When the bottom side is golden brown, gently flip patties, to fry/brown the other side. Try to flip only once. Less handling/flipping = less chance of patties to break up.

Rotisserie Chicken 4 Ways. Part Four: Chicken Black Bean Soup

- shredded chicken portion from the rotisserie
- leftover beans from chicken verde
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 small white onion, chopped
- 1 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 jalapenos, minced
- 3 cup of chicken broth
- salt and pepper

- Heat 1 tbs olive oil in soup pan. Toss in garlic, onion, tomatoes, jalapenos. Stir until onion turn translucent.
- Add in black beans. Stir.
- Pour chicken broth to the pot. Stir. When it just starts to boil, turn the heat down to low. Either mash the black beans with the back of wooden spoon. Or, using handblender, blend it for couple seconds. The idea is to puree only some of the black beans, not the entire pot of black beans. It should not turn into smooth black bean puree. :)
- Toss in shredded chicken. Stir, and let it come to boil again. Seasoned.
- Garnish with green onions or snip of cilantro.

Chicken Curry Puff

- puff pastry
- the 1 cup leftover chicken from previous post
- 1 small potatoes, boil and cubed
- 1/2 cup green peas
- pinch of ajwain *
- 1/4 tsp of cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
- 1 jalapenos chilies, minced
- 1/4 cup onions, diced
- 1 tbs yogurt (optional)
- few sprigs of cilantro, chopped.
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg, beaten

- Heat oil in pan, toss in onion, jalapenos, and ajwain.
- When onion is translucent, add chicken and the rest of ingredients to it (except beaten egg).
- Stir, make sure everything is mixed well. With back of wooden spoon, semi-mash the potatoes. Don't mash it so much/hard that it becomes all mushy. Just do it enough to resembles drier chunky mashed potatoes. Seasoned.
- Let it cool for a while.
- Roll out puff pastry. Work quickly so that the butter content in pastry stay cold. We managed to cut out 8 rounds and 1 very odd shape oval triangle. That's how much pastry I have in freezer, so we had to make do. There was enough filling leftover to make maybe another 4.
- Put filling in the center of round cut out. Seal the edge by gently pressing. Scrimp with forks.
- Brush with egg wash. Bake in preheated 350F oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

*ajwain is mostly used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It happens to be in my pantry because some of Vik's favorite Guju dishes call for it. Even with that fact, it is one of those spices that I don't get to use much. So I try to use it whenever I feel it'll work well with the dish.

It almost tastes like caraway, so feel free to use caraway as substitute.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guacamole and Salsa

The guacamole and salsa served with Chicken Verde from previous post. It's super easy to make and can be customized to your own liking.

Fresh Guacamole
- 1 avocado
- 1 small tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 2 jalapenos/ serrano chilies, chopped
- pinch of cumin
- lime juice
- few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper
- pinch of sugar

- Scooped out and cut avocado into chunks, transfer into a bowl. Mashed with fork until desired consistency. (We like ours chunkier so I did not mash it to very smooth guac)
- Fold in the rest of ingredients. Mix gently. It can be serve immediately, but taste so much better if being refrigerated for couple hours before serving.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapenos, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- salt and pepper

- Mix everything together. It can be serve immediately, but taste so much better if being refrigerated for couple hours before serving.
- Vik mixed it up with salsa verde, hence, the watery looking salsa in the picture.

Rotisserie Chicken 4 Ways. Part Three: Pesto Chicken on Flat Bread

Another easy recipe from Rotisserie chicken 4 ways:

- half portion of chunked up chicken from the Rotisserie chicken
(since I am only making 2 of these, I reserve aside 1 cup of chicken, maybe for some chicken fried rice tomorrow)
- 2 flat bread
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp of pesto
- 1 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 red peppers, chopped
- bunch of parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
- goat cheese

- Drizzle some olive oil on top of flat bread, then spread pesto on top of it.
- Arrange the rest of ingredients on it. Some mozzarella on top is yummy also. So does, fresh basil. But have none of them in fridge, so..
- Bake in preheated oven 350F, 15 minutes or so, just until goat cheese is about to melt and side of flat bread crisp up a touch.

Rotisserie Chicken - 4 Ways. Part Two: Chicken Verde with Black Beans

Salsa Verde is the green salsa, instead of using red tomatoes, it uses tomatillos (kinda green tomatoes, but much smaller in size). It is milder than regular 'red' salsa and tangier. It's okay to do store-bought one, but I found that the consistency is never quite what I like. I make an exception to one place though, this one vendor in farmer's market sell quite super delicious one.

It was moment to be remembered when I first 'learn' this recipe. The girl who 'taught' me speaks next to none English, especially cooking ingredients. Lo behold, being such motivated person she is, she brought the ingredients to work the next day. So there we were, after she waved me over in the hallway. She bagged everything in a ziploc bag, 2 tomatillos, few leaves of cilantro, parsley, even a bottle of cumin! Sign language with some visual aid work wonder.

We did have another friend helping out when she tried to explain tamales! :) Te echo de menos, Imelda!

Imelda's Salsa Verde
- tomatillos, husked and halved
- bunch of parsley and cilantro
- jalapenos
- pinch of cumin
- onions, chopped
- salt and pepper
- sugar to taste
- squeeze of lime juice

- Boil a pot of water. Throw in tomatillos. It is ready when pierced with the tip of knife/ fork, it goes in pretty easily. Drain.
- Put tomatillos and all the ingredients in food processor and pulse it until desired consistency. It can be served immediately, but storing in fridge overnight will let the ingredients to linger together and intensify the tangy fresh flavor.

Chicken Verde with Black Beans
- half portion of shredded chicken (from Rotisserie 4 ways)
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
- salsa verde
- cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper

- Heat oil in pan, put in onions, fry until translucent. Toss in tomatoes.
- Toss in shredded chicken and black beans. Stir.
- Pour salsa verde. Since everything is cooked, just stir until it's warmed throughout. Seasoned.
- Toss in cilantro. Stir. Serve on tortillas, guacamole, and extra salsa.

I use flour tortillas this time, but would have had used corn tortillas instead if I have them handy. But since I don't, flour tortillas it is.

Fool proof, super easy recipe. Using store-bought salsa verde will basically make this recipe, 10 minutes top, from start to finish.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rotisserie Chicken 4 Ways. Part One: Chicken Salad

Sometimes last year, I gave some ideas to a friend on different ways in utilizing chicken rotisserie. Yeap, those ready-made chicken from deli! I wouldn't say that she loves cooking, she is alright with cooking, I guess. The kick though is that she can't stand cutting up chicken! Huh. I don't know whether this is a common dislike, or it's just my luck having not one, but THREE friends who can't stand cutting chicken.

Anyhoo, so we were talking recently and long story short, she thinks I should post on some of these tips. She just passed on these ideas/recipes to another friend of hers, a super budget-queen personality (who is working on her blog about budget-living) and of course, the friend instantly think 'a great way to stretch rottiserie chicken (which is pretty inexpensive when it can be done more than million ways).'

Well, so I went to my neighborhood deli, grabbed 1 whole rotisserie chicken. So many ways of doing it. But I thought I will do it in different posts.

This time around, 1 chicken 4 ways.

First, I cut out the breast part, then cut them up to chunks; half for chicken salad and the other half as topping for flat-bread pizza.

Thighs and legs, shred it up; half for chicken verde tacos, and half as filling for cold egg-rolls or chicken soup.

The wings, err...I munch on 'em!!

Chicken Salad:
- Half portion of cut up chunks chicken
- 1/2 cup of olives, chopped
- 1/2 cup of grapes, quartered or halved
- 1/4 cup of celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped
- 1/8 cup of vidalia onions, chopped
- 1/2 to 1 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup of jicama, chopped (optional)
- handful of parsley and dill (optional), chopped finely
- 1 tbs of mayo
- 1 tsp of spicy hot mustard
- 1 tsp of honey
- 1/2 tsp of paprika
- pepperoncini (optional)
- salt and pepper

- Toss and mix everything together well. It can be served chilled or at room temperature. Most of the ingredients can be substituted or left out, according to individual. Dried cranberries or raisins, slivered almonds, coarsely chopped strawberry, etc.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cold Vermicelli Salad

It's hot day and we were still stuffed from our dim sum lunch. Tonight dinner menu was going to be Korean style short ribs, but not anymore. Will do that over the weekend instead.

- vermicelli
- carrots, julienne or shred with mandolin
- jicama, julienne, or shred
- napa cabbage (red cabbage or green cabbage is fine too), cut to thin strips
- green peas (optional)
- shrimp and calamari (optional) , cooked and chilled.

- grated ginger
- garlic, very finely chopped
- shallots, very finely chopped
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
- honey
- lemon juice
- hot sauce (to taste, optional)
- salt and pepper

- Mix all sauce ingredients in bowl, whisk. Cover and put in the fridge.
- Cook vermicelli according to package. Usually it calls for something like emerging vermicelli in boiling water for couple minutes, drain and in this case (to make cold noodles/salad), run under cold water to stop its cooking process immediately.
- Mix all the salad ingredients together - vermicelli, veggies and seafood. I like to drizzle only half of the sauce, and toss well, making sure everything is coated thoroughly with sauce.
- Put back in the fridge (both salad and leftover sauce) for 15 minutes or so. Mix the other half of sauce just right before serving.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Gujarati Kadhi

- 2 cups yogurt
- 3 tbsp besan flour (gram flour)
- 4 cups water
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 1 cinammon stick, break to half
- 3 cloves
- 5 curry leaves
- jaggery (about 3 tsp), can be substitute with sugar if have to

For tempering:
- ghee/ oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 green chillies, chopped
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- pinch of asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

- Mix the yogurt, water, salt and gram flour in mixing bowl, beat well until there is no lumps.
- Add grated ginger, green chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, jaggery/sugar.
- Pour the mixture into cooking pot and cook on low heat, stir occassionally.
- While yogurt mixture is simmering, temper the spices.
- Heat oil/ ghee, add mustard and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add asafoetida, chilies, fenugreek seeds. Let it fry for couple minutes.
- Add tempered spices to yogurt mixture. Stir. Let it come to slow bubble.
- Garnish with finely chopped cilantro before serving.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Shrimp in Spicy Tamarind Sauce

It's a good dish for a little bit windy, chilly, rainy night. Tangy sourness from tamarind, spicy heat from the bird eye chillies.

- shrimp
- 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
- 1/4 tsp of grated ginger
- 2 bird eye red chillies
- 1 small tomatoes, quarter
- 2 shallots, chopped finely
- 1/2 cube of beef bullion (mix to little bit of warm water)
- 2 leaves of napa cabbage, chopped roughly
- 3 stalk chives, chopped to 4 cm length

- Heat oil in pan, stir in garlic, grated ginger, shallots and chillies. When shallots start to soften, stir in tomatoes.
- Pour in beef buillion mixture, stir. Toss in napa cabbage, stir, follow with shrimps. The napa cabbage should still be crispy, hence, once the cabbage goes into the wok, just stir once before adding the shrimp.
- When shrimp is half-cooked, pour in tamarind juice. Let it boil quickly.
- Right before moving the wok from heat, toss in chives and stir.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Soto Daging

Soto is one of the dishes in Indonesia where different region has its own soto version, just like satay. Having tried many of them, I still genuinely think Soto Medan is the best of all. It just does. Probably because it's richer. Heehee. Coconut milk makes almost everything taste much yummier. And the spicy hot relish goes with it. Yum.

Anyway, my mom/grandma usually make two versions of it. One with coconut milk, and lots of time, they don't. In summer time, I tend to cook it without coconut milk, less heavier.

- 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck
- 6 cup water
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
- 2 cloves
- 1 slice of galangal, bruised
- 1 bayleaf
- 1 tomatoes, quatered
- 1 potatoes, cubed

- 3 candlenuts
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper

- In soup pan, stir fry spice paste. Add in lemongrass, cloves, galangal, bayleaf, tomatoes. Mix well.
- Add beef chuck into the mix (I like to add the beef first so it will sear for a while and its caramelized bits add to the soup flavor). Sear both sides.
- Slowly pour water to the pot. Lower the heat. And let it simmer for 1 hour.
- Test the beef by piercing fork to it, it should be quite tender by now. Lift it out from the pot.
- Sliced it up. Return it to the pot, together with potatoes.
- When potatoes is cooked and tender, turn off the heat. Toss in beansprouts. Stir.
- Garnish with green onions and lime wedges.

I added potatoes right to the broth, but traditionally, it is served with potato fritters on the side. At the time of making, all I had was 1 potato, and no way I would slave myself in fixing up 3 fritters, max. :D But it sure tastes much better with warm fritters and crispy shallots on top. *sigh*

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sambal Goreng Ayam

- about 200 gram of chicken (squeeze lime juice and pinch of salt to it, and put aside for about 16 minutes)
- 1 small potato, cubed and fry, put aside.
- 1 bay leaves
- 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped the white part finely
- 1 small tomatoes
- 3 red chillies, split
- 1 tsp of sweet soy sauce

Grind to paste:
- 2 red chillies
- 3 shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cm of ginger
- 1 tsp grated palm sugar ('gula jawa')
- pinch of salt to taste

- Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a wok. Fry the paste until fragrant, add in the bay leaf, tomatoes, red chillies, lemongrass.
- When everything is thoroughly mixed, add sweet soy sauce and splash of water.
- Add chicken pieces. Stir and once chicken are cooked and tender, put in fried potatoes. There should only be small amount of thick gravy coating chicken and potatoes pieces. Stir and let the potaotes warm through and well-mixed with chicken and gravy.

This dish is very versatile, in a way of it can be made with different kinda things. It's super delicious with gizzard and livers! Or tempeh and potatoes version - fry both until crispy before mixing it with the spices. Or, beef. Or, though I have not tried it before, I am pretty sure fried firm tofu can be pretty yummy also. Shrimps!

My mom (and our neighbor, and my grandma, and er..most people in general, I think) would fry the chicken first, half-done, and then add it to the spicy sauce. Extra work for me, so I just skip this part. Plus, I try to fry as little as possible in this tiny place of ours. The lingering frying smell...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Shrimp in Sweet Garlic Butter Sauce

- shrimp
- butter
- garlic, chopped finely
- sweet soy sauce
- worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper

- Heat butter in the wok. Once melted, add chopped garlic. Fry until fragrant.
- Add sweet soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, splash of water, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until bubbly.
- Add shrimp, stir for few minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Easy Breezy Spaghettini with Capers and Prosciutto

Came home late and just did not feel like dragging our feet to anywhere to grab quick dinner. Have two slices of prosciutto in the fridge, about a cupfull of green and red peppers and here we go..

- capers
- garlic, chopped finely
- red onions
- green and red peppers
- tomatoes, roughly chopped
- prosciutto, sliced
- parmesan cheese
- olive oil

- Cook spaghettini to al dante. Remember to put a pinch of salt to the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat pan, add tiny bit of butter and 2 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, add chopped prosciutto.
- Add garlic and red onions. Fry until fragrant.
- Add in capers. Stir for few seconds. Add tomatoes. Stir until it is a little bit mushy. Add in peppers.
- Toss in cooked spaghettini. Toss in some parmesan cheese. Stir spaghettini to make sure it's all coated nicely with olive oil and cheese.

Jarred capers is pickled in salt or mixture of salt and vinegar (brine), so when cooking using capers, I usually either omit salt at all, or making sure I taste the dish before adding extra saltiness to it.

Pan Fried Pork and Chives Dumplings

- 20 dumplings wrapper
- 2 cups ground pork
- bunch of chives, chopped
- 2 tablespoon chopped water chestnuts
- 1/4 cup finely chopped napa cabbage
- 1/2 inch grated ginger
- 1 clove grated garlic
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- soy sauce
- pepper

- Mix everything together (except the wrapper) until well combined. Heat pan and spoon a small bits of the mixture to the pan - just to taste, whether it needs extra spices.
- Once it tastes right, start assembling the dumplings. Place spoonful of filling onto the center of wrapper, dab water/egg white around the edges of wrapper, fold and crimp. Usually there is some instruction at the back of wrapper package.
- Heat pan with 2 tablespoon of oil. Once hot, place the dumplings in the pan. I use quite big of pan and can fit 20 dumplings at once. If using smaller pan, do not overcrowd pan to prevent any sticking between dumplings.
- Don't move around the dumplings. Once the bottom part of dumplings are crispy and golden brown, pour 1/4 cup of water to hot pan, cover. The steam will finish up the cooking process. It will take only couple minutes.
- Serve with sesame oil mixed with soy sauce and hot sauce.