Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Potatoes, Cauliflower and Peas with Indian Spices (Aloo Gobi)

I had a craving for Indian food last night, but didn't want to spend a lot of time or money preparing it.  A quick look around the kitchen revealed that I had all the ingredients for this delicious vegetarian dish, one of my all time favorites!

Known as Aloo Gobi (which literally means potatoes [aloo] and cauliflower [gobi]) this dish is ubiquitous on buffet tables at Indian restaurants. This dish is fragrant and mildly spicy and the combination of potatoes and cauliflower is fantastic.

I have seen this dish prepared many ways, sometimes with tomatoes, sometimes with peas, but always delicious.  This is Mama Ozzy's variation on the classic Indian dish.  I make no claims as to its authenticity since I am certainly no expert on Indian cuisine, but it rings all my flavor bells and whistles, and that's all that matters.  Some of the spices are unusual, but once you have them in your pantry they will last a very long time.  Consider purchasing them as an investment in good eating.

In contrast to Chinese cooking where vegetables are stir fried over high heat for a short period of time, I like to slow cook this dish in butter to coax the natural sweetness out of each ingredient.  Yes it takes longer, but the result is well worth it because each ingredient retains its individual flavor and has time to mingle with the exotic spice mix.

I like to use prepared tomato salsa in place of tomatoes in my aloo gobi.  I find that Mexican spices and Indian go really well together.  When you think about it, they are not really that different; tomato, jalapeno, onion, cumin, coriander... pretty similar.  Since I always have plenty of salsa around the house, this saves a lot of time in peeling and and seeding tomatoes!

You can make this dish as spicy hot as you like.  If you like it really hot, don't remove any seeds from the jalapeno pepper.  If you like it medium hot use only half the seeds, and if you like it mild, remove all the seeds.  Pretty easy!

I like this dish on it's own, with or without basmati rice, but it makes an excellent side dish to any grilled meat.  Best of all, except for the butter, this is an incredibly healthy dish!

Potatoes, Cauliflower and Peas with Indian Spices (Aloo Gobi)
serves 8-10

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (seeds retained for HOT, removed for mild)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 lbs cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa
1 cup fresh or frozen peas

steamed basmati rice (optional)
Greek yogurt(optional)

In a large heavy skillet with a lid, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno and saute over medium heat, stirring frequently until onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.  DO NOT ALLOW TO BROWN!

Slowly saute the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno

Add garam masala, coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric and salt to onions and cook for 1 minute to infuse the butter.  Add potatoes, cauliflower and salsa to pan and toss to coat evenly with spice mixture.

Stir potatoes and cauliflower into the spice mix to coat evenly 

Cover the pan and slow cook the mixture on medium heat for 10 minutes.  Stir the mixture, scraping any brown bits from the pan.  Cover again and cook, covered, for ten minute intervals, stirring and scraping every 10 minutes until potatoes a very tender (40-50 minutes).  If mixture appears to be sticking to pan, add 2 Tbsp water to pan to assist scraping browned bits from bottom of pan.

Once potatoes are very tender, remove from heat, and add peas, and stir.  Cover and allow residual heat to cook peas for 5-10 minutes.   Serve hot with basmati rice and a dollop Greek yogurt (if desired).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Garlic Aioli

Yesterday we had a lovely mothers day lunch at the Tiki and invited many of the mother's in our life.  Mothers of young children, mothers of grown children, mothers of dogs and cats and food blogs!  We had a great time despite the fact that the skies threatened to rain on us (but never got much past a heavy drizzle).

Our menu was:

Shrimp cocktail
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Garlic Aioli
Grilled Filet Mignon with Cracked Black Pepper
Jess Potatoes
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Bourbon Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Blueberry Vodka Lemonade

You can find most of these recipes on this blog by following the links.  But I wanted to take the time to post my Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Garlic Ailoi.

This is one of my go to recipes whenever asparagus is in season, and especially with locally grown organic asparagus from Vollmer Farms in Bunn NC.  I love grilled asparagus, but I find that just tossing raw asparagus on the grill tends to dry them out and can make them a little tough.  My answer to this problem is to blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water, then flash chill them in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  This results in vibrantly emerald green asparagus that are still crispy, but tender and juicy.  Then I marinate them in olive oil , garlic and balsamic vinegar before charring them on the grill.

The result is a vibrantly green juicy asparagus spear, loaded with flavor and not at all dry or tough.  They are fantastic on their own, but even better with a quick homemade aioli.

Aioli is basically nothing more than an Italian garlic mayonnaise.  It is ridiculously easy to prepare in the food processor and is great on grilled meat, fish vegetables or even a panini or bruschetta!  Even those who hate mayonnaise like aioli.  Must be the garlic and lemon!

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Garlic Aioli
serves 12

2 lb fresh asparagus (try to use thick asparagus rather than thin asparagus)
crushed ice

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Trim off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard.  Toss half of the asapragus in the pot of rapidly boiling water.  Blanch for 1 minute.  Immediately remove the asparagus from the boiling water with tongs, and submerge them in a very large bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking.

Return water to a rapid boil before blanching the remaining asparagus.

Once asparagus is blanched and chilled, drain them from the ice bath and place them in a 9x13 baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate 1-2 hours at room temperature.

Grill asparagus spears over high heat until lightly charred.  Serve hot or cold with Lemon Garlic Aioli.

Lemon Garlic Aioli

Lemon Garlic Aioli

1 egg yolk
3 cloves garlic
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup (approximately) extra virgin olive oil

In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, combine egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and salt.  Process until garlic is finely minced and everything is well mixed.

With processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  The mixture will begin to thicken to the consistency of mayonnaise.  If it is too thin, continue to add olive oil (with processor running) until desired consistency is achieved.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Happy Mothers' Day!  Today we are hosting a lunch for all the mothers in our lives.  Since strawberries are at their peak in NC right now, we decided to finish lunch with a freshly baked strawberry rhubarb pie with Bourbon Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

I love the tanginess of rhubarb with the sweetness of strawberries, especially locally grown organic strawberries from Vollmer Farms in Bunn NC.  This pie is easy as pie, especially if you use pre-made pie crust!  This pie came together in about an hour and a half, including baking time!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Serves 8

1 package pre-made pie crust (2 crusts)

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg slightly beaten

1 egg slightly beaten with 1 Tbsp water
coarse granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.

line a 9-inch pie pan with one of the pie crusts.  In a large bowl combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and egg.  Mix until well-blended.

Fill pie shell with filling.

Cut remaining pie crust into 1/2-inch strips and lay in a lattice pattern over filling.  Crimp edges with fingers.

Brush the top of the pie with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 45- 55 minutes (on foil to catch drips) until pie is golden brown.  Cool on rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bourbon brown sugar vanilla bean ice cream

Nothing is better than homemade ice cream and this one is incredible. Scented with vanilla beans, sweetened with brown sugar and spiked with bourbon, this great by itself or scooped onto a slice of warm pie

Brown Sugar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
(makes about 1 quart)

1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
one vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup Bourbon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
in a large glass bowl combine cream and half and half. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into bowl with cream, add empty bean pod. Microwave on high power for 3 minutes, then cover and let steep 20 minutes.
Meanwhile in another large bowl combine egg yolks, brown sugar and salt. Whisk until well combine and slightly fluffy.
After steeping, remove bean pod from cream and microwave again for 1 minute on high to reheat cream. While whisking the egg mixture, carefully add about 1 cup of the hot cream to temper the eggs, then return tempered eggs back to bowl of hot cream, constantly whisking until well mixed.
Return cream/egg mixture to microwave and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon. Return to microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds, then stir thoroughly with wooden spoon. Repeat this step, microwaving for 30 seconds, then stirring until mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon (and your finger leaves a well-defined path in the mixture when drawn across the back of the spoon). Add Bourbon and vanilla extract and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Process cold mixture in an ice cream maker until set. Transfer to a chilled container and freeze until firm (overnight).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meatloaf Muffins with Mashed Potato "Frosting"

Last night I came home from work and my partner Doug was fixing  one of his signature recipes for dinner, these whimsical and super delicious meat loaf muffins.  This is one of my favorite things he prepares and I just HAD to blog it.

These savory cupcakes are ridiculously easy to prepare using things you probably already have in the pantry.  They are the perfect three-bite size nuggets of meaty goodness.  I absolutely love the magic that happens to the ketchup glaze after it is baked.  Doug likes to "frost" these cupcakes by piping garlic mashed potatoes on top, but you can use any kind of mashed potato you like.

My partner of 8 years, Doug

Meatloaf Muffins with Mashed Potato "Frosting"
makes 12 muffins

1 lb ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
2 cloves garlic minced
1, 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 packet onion soup mix
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
garlic mashed potatoes

Pre heat oven to 350 F.  Grease a muffin tin well.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients except ketchup and garlic mashed potatoes and mix well.  divide into 12 equal-sized balls and place one ball in each cup of muffin pan.

Top each meatloaf ball generously with ketchup.

Doug glazing the muffins with ketchup!

Time to get these bad boys in the oven!

Bake 50- 60 minutes on another baking sheet to catch drippings until meatloaf is cooked all the way through (pan will be messy!).

Allow muffins to cool for 10- 15 minutes before carefully removing from pan and frosting with mashed potatoes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Saffron Rice with Black Beans

Yesterday we had a great Cinco party with friends and neighbors, and although the skies opened up on us with a torrential rain (which we really needed) it didn't dampen anyone's spirits... perhaps due to the pineapple mango jalapeno margaritas we were drinking!

We prepared beer braised carnitas, guacamole and several different salsas, but the dish everyone really kept asking about was this simple rice and bean side dish.  It is not spicy hot, but has a lovely fragrance from the cinnamon and saffron.  It's the perfect accompaniment to a spicy latin meal. Even 4-year-old Ruby had TWO massive helpings!

At the insistance of my guests, I am blogging this recipe.  The only strange ingredient is the achiote (pronounced ah-chee-oh tay).  This is a finely ground powder made from annato seeds, it is red-orange in color and can be found at any latin market.  It is also called bijol powder or ground annato.  It is hard for me to describe the flavor of achiote, its very mildly spicy but not at all hot, and tastes a little nutty.  I just know this, it makes latin food taste, well, latin and everything is better with it!

100 g of achiote will cost you about $2.00

Annato seeds, from which achiote is made

Saffron Rice with Black Beans
serves 12

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp achiote (bijol or ground annato)
pinch (5 or 6 strands) saffron
1 small onion diced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
1 12 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed under cold water
3 scallions, green and white parts cut into rings

In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil over high heat.  Add rice and toast in hot oil, stirring constantly until rice becomes opaque. Reduce heat to medium high, add cinnamon, achiote and saffron, sir to coat rice.

Add onions and stir.  Add chicken stock, garlic and salt and honey, and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute , uncovered.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover pan with lid.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large serving bowl.  Fold in beans and scallions.  Serve warm or at room temperature

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pineapple Mango Jalapeno Margaritas

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Today we are having some friends and neighbors over to the Tiki for a Cinco de Mayo party.  We have made Beer Braised Carnitas and are asking our friends to bring side dishes.  And to wash everything down we created this spicy sweet margarita.

This is incredibly easy to prepare, but takes a little pre-planning since the pineapple mango infused tequila needs 24 hours to steep.  The time is well worth it because the fruit absorbs any harsh impurities in the tequila and results in a very smooth and fragrant tequila.  WARNING... since the tequila is so smooth, these cocktails are wickedly easy to drink, but they are VERY strong.  The fruit from the tequila can be chopped up and used as a garnish, or can be used to make a boozy fruit salad.  However I think I am going to use the pineapple to make a tequila-infused pineapple upside down cake (I'll let you know how that turns out!)

Diego Rivera

Pineapple Mango Jalapeno Margaritas
makes a lot!

1 shot pineapple-mango infused tequila (recipe follows)
1 shot fresh lime juice
1 shot pineapple or mango juice
1/2 shot jalapeno simple syrup (recipe follows)

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Pour into glasses with salted rims over crushed ice.  Call a cab since you will not be driving home.

Pineapple-Mango infused Tequila
1 large ripe pineapple, peeled and cored and cut into wedges
1 large ripe mango, peeled and cored and cut into wedges
1 litre of silver Tequila

Pour tequila into a large plastic container with a tight fitting lid.  Add pineapple and mango wedges and seal container.  Let sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours, agitating occasionally.  Strain tequila back into tequila bottle.  Keep refrigerated.

After 24 hours the Tequila becomes the same color as the fruit!

Jalapeno simple syrup
3 cups water
3 cups granulated sugar
4 large jalapeno peppers (with seeds) cut into rings

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add jalapenos and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before straining syrup through a fine mesh sieve.  Transfer syrup to a decorative bottle.  Keep refrigerated.

Steeping the jalapeno slices in hot simple syrup.

A beautiful bottle of wickedly spicy sweet syrup !