Sunday, April 29, 2012

flavors of India

This should come as no surprise, but on Friday night, another spontaneous Indian party erupted. And of course, resulted in some delicious food. This time, Susieji made a few vegetarian dishes for Aditya, who came for a visit from San Jose! He fried some chopped potatoes in spices, and made Dal (lentils) in tomato and turmeric. He also made a chicken dish that included onion, cilantro, tomato, and a garlic ginger paste.

For the Dal, he started by sauteing some chopped tomatoes in a large pot, then added the lentils and water (follow the measurement suggested on the box). He also added turmeric. Susieji is the same kind of cook I am, in that we don't measure. So I'm sorry I can't tell you how much turmeric. Follow your instincts. While that was simmering, he sautéed some garlic and chopped jalapenos in oil in a separate pan, and added them to the lentils once finished. He seasoned with salt and pepper. Soo delicious.

After dinner, we were all sitting in the kitchen when Susieji walks back in with a present. They presented it to me while Rajiv snapped a few pictures, hoping I would cry. I didn't, but I'm sure I will once I read what they each wrote on the inside cover. Oh yeah, it's an Indian cookbook, which I guessed as soon as they handed it to me. We know each other so well.

So many surprises sprung from my new life in Boston, and I love each and every one of them.

The following morning, Sujoy used the leftover chicken to make omelets, also amazing.

This is the book that the boys picked out for me. Out of curiosity, I yelped Indian groceries in Jacksonville and found several promising prospects. I'll let you know once I visit them, and once I test out my new cookbook :)

Tonight, I'm hosting my own going away dinner, with a few more of my favorite people. I'm trying out a Greek-inspired chicken dish, so stay tuned!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

belated PFW

I feel so bad, but I totally missed this month's Party Food Wednesday. So we're celebrating a little late. And also hopefully next week, for the real May PFW. Have any of you observed this holy food holiday yet? If you haven't, you should.

Its been incredibly quiet and boring at work lately. So I've been passing the time by doing a little homework, listening to npr podcasts, pretending to be busy, and checking out some food blogs. This week, I was looking at Deb's spring inspired recipes on Smitten Kitchen and decided that her leek toasts with bleu cheese would be a perfect edition to this week's hors d'oeuvre dinner.

I started by chopping and washing two large leeks, and soaking them in cold water. Don't skip this step! It was pretty disgusting how much dirt was in the bottom of the bowl after a few minutes.

Then, I sauteed them in a little booder and awl. Actually, I melted the butter and oil in high heat, then added the leeks and turned them down to low, covered and let simmer for a while, stirring occasionally.

A few cranks of pepper and some sea salt, and they're done. Easy!

While those were sautéing, I started on my shaved asparagus pizza, also from Smitten Kitchen. Shaving asparagus with a potato peeler is actually a lot harder than it looks. It took the entire length of Sanne's shower for me to finish shaving a bunch of asparagus. 

This pizza had 1/4c parmesan cheese, 1/2c mozzarella cheese, and shaved asparagus...

but I didn't measure, obviously...

I grated a little extra parmesan on top, and a little salt and pepper, and broiled it on high for about 5 minutes. 

And no Party Food Wednesday would be complete without some bone marrow and parsley salad...

and Indian boxing (?).

We may or may not have been given a little Indian rum after dinner, and Susieji may or may not have made some of his beef curry. It was a genuine Party Food Wednesday, complete with matching party.

I'm going to miss these guys so much when I'm gone...
Susieji and I were talking tonight and he said something that managed to stick in my foggy mind: "When you are cooking, you get to just be you." He is a wise one, that Susiegee.

oh man, this smell...

I made a quiche with the rest of my leeks, which turned out to be perhaps my best quiche to date. 

Susieji and I share not only a love of cooking, but a love of the Cranberries. I can't even tell you how happy this video makes me:

And that was PFW3. A very good one.
By the way, we are a mere 10 posts away from 200!!! Hopefully I can knock those out before I move. I think I can...


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"I love laughs!"

It’s time for another theme night! Kasia suggested one of her personal favorites, Marilyn Monroe. I wasn’t sure what kind of foods would relate to this theme, so we decided to go with a color—rosé. But if it’s pink or red or gives off a diamonds-are-a-girl’s-best-friend vibe… well, that’s okay too.

We’ve done salmon and scallops, so tonight I decided we needed something not only fitting the color theme, but also a little on the decadent side. Steak! I had a little radicchio left over from Easter to rosé-up our salad, and Kasia requested roasted bone marrow appetizer—since she still hadn’t tried it. Hey, when it comes to bone marrow, you don’t have to ask me twice… or once.

Now that I think about it, the movie is all about these women trying to snag themselves rich husbands by pretending to be rich. They just pawn their furniture, live off hotdogs and hang out in the mink department at Bergdorf-Goodman's. "Champagne taste on a beer budget"... that's our theme.

I started by marinating the steaks. I used garlic, s+p, Worcester sauce, and some raspberry balsamic glaze that I picked up at Cardullo’s a while back. Perfect for this theme, ay?

Kasia and I decided to make our own salad dressing again, this time using raspberries as a base. Kasia pushed them through a sieve to separate out the seeds. She saved half of it for our dessert, and to the other half we added oil and balsamic vinegar, a little sugar, a little lemon juice and some s+p.

It turned out pretty tasty...

and red!

We sipped on some wine (red, of course), while Adam did manly things, such as man-ning the steaks while wielding a sharp knife.

Not everything was red-red, but it definitely fit our "How to Marry a Millionaire" theme. In case you didn't know, bone marrow is dirt-cheap. I think that's because most people use them for stocks and stews, not as meat butter (their loss). Making your own dressing is cheap, but definitely fancier. The parsley salad is simple but elegant as well.

The main cost for me was the steak. But seeing as how I rarely buy/eat steak, I didn't feel guilty about this one indulgence. Besides, these were $15 for three, which at a restaurant would be much, much more.

I don't have a grill, so I referred to Pioneer Woman's cast iron skillet technique. It worked out nicely, especially with some caramelized onions on top.

Oh, by the way, the parsley salad is:

chopped parsley
thinly sliced shallot
olive oil
lemon juice
a little minced garlic

I didn't measure, I just eye-balled and whisked everything together. This parsley salad brings it to the next level. It's awesome. Now I'm wondering what else I can put it on...

After dinner, we quickly threw together the cakes, which I'm officially calling Kasia's specialty.

And Adam brushed up on his cat photography...

...and popped open the bubbly


well get you!

So that's that. Another successful theme-dinner. Kasia thoroughly enjoyed her first bone marrow, Adam was a trooper, sitting through a Marilyn movie without complaint, and I saved a bundle and had a blast cooking with friends. I'm not sure what the next theme night will be... any suggestions? I'm thinking Italian (and maybe Moonstruck?).

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christos Anesti!

I'm not sure if I've told you this or not, but Easter is my favorite holiday. It has been for as long as I can remember, and I only love it more since I've started my own traditions as an adult. This year is a little bittersweet, though. It is our third and my last Easter brunch in Boston, so I wanted it to be extra special. Unfortunately, all of our carnivorous friends cancelled on us, so no lamb. Sanne and I decided to go vegetarian so that Jordan wouldn't feel bad about his lifestyle choices.

Even though this one felt slightly more thrown-together than our typical planned-months-in-advance holiday meals, I am pretty happy with how it came together in the end. And, as you know, I do enjoy a good challenge every now and then. So putting together a vegetarian Easter on a whim was great fun.

Sanne found a super cool recipe for tiny cakes baked inside of hollowed-out Easter eggs, and I finally decided on a salad. We also decided on white truffle green beans and a quiche. Jordan brought two different kinds of Matzo Kugel -a traditional Passover dish.

I started with the vinaigrette for my salad. I followed the recipe exactly, but found it to be a little dry, so I added a little more lemon juice and olive oil.

  • 2 cups (packed) flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Meanwhile, Sanne got to work on the eggs, dyeing and draining them of their innards.

    After draining them, she rinsed them really well and set them to dry overnight. 
    I boiled some water for tea, and added some sugar and a half a bag of frozen strawberries. I put that in the refrigerator overnight.

    This morning, I joined my mom for church while sautéing some spinach and shallots for quiche. You really can't go wrong with quiche, and there are so many possibilities.

    To that, I added some chopped tomato, about 1/2 a medium chopped onion and 8 oz. of cheddar cheese. Also, 1c half and half (or 4 1/2t butter and a little milk).

    For the salad, I sliced 2 stalks of celery on an extreme diagonal, and tore off the leaves of 1 medium radicchio head. Hehe, radicchio-head.

    I tossed the radicchio with a few tablespoons of the dressing and laid it out on a platter.

    Then, I did the same with 1 can of drained and rinsed cannelini beans and celery...

    ...put it on top of the radicchio, and topped it with 1 drained can of albacore tuna (in water, not oil). I drizzled a little of the vinaigrette on top of that.

    Sanne mixed up a lemon-y sour cream cake and used a ziplock bag with a teeny hole snipped out of it to fill each egg shell about halfway with batter. Using aluminum foil, she propped them up in muffin tins and baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes.

    We needed one more quick and easy side, so I sauteed some green beans and onion in a little olive oil and white truffle oil, seasoned with s+p and a little italian seasoning.

    Jordan brought a sweet kugel with apples, and a savory one with mushrooms and onions, which had a little kick to it. Both were delicious!

    Finally, it was time for dessert! The cake overflowed a little from the eggs, but situated just so, you can't even tell. They were adorable. And the cake turned out awesome-- light and fluffy with a great flavor.

    me and my jew

    so fun to eat! Definitely try these if you have kids!

    I'm really glad we went meatless this year. Sometimes a great salad and a few thoughtful side dishes are all you need. I don't know if I could pick a favorite, but the salad was really tasty, especially the vinaigrette. And the cakes, of course, were heavenly. Also, mushroom kugel, I'm glad I kept some leftovers. Go team!

    Speaking of eggs, look at Shamus's Easter-y self, lookin out the window...

    How was your Passover/ Resurrection Sunday/ Easter? Cook anything good? Anyone celebrating again next weekend? It's Greek Easter! I might take that opportunity to try out that lamb! Plus, it means I would get to celebrate my favorite holiday two weeks in a row. Any more Easters I should know about?