Thursday, December 30, 2010

Red velvet pancakes with whipped cream cheese

Red velvet buttermilk pancakes were awesome as expected. Ate them with whipped cream cheese and maple syrup. We used this recipe. Next time, we'll add a bit more cocoa powder and sugar to the mix.

Sous vide

Sous vide is a relatively new method of cooking where you cook meat or vegetables in a vacuum-sealed bag in a water bath at a steady low temperature for many hours. It brings out better flavor and texture and since all the cool kids are doing it, we wanted to try it too. I got Sous Vide Magic(SVM) which controls temperature of the water in the rice cooker/crockpot. Rubbed steak with salt and pepper and sealed it in ziploc bag (at that time we didn't own a vacuum sealer, so we used the water immersion method to get most of the air out of the bag) and dropped it in the slow cooker which had warm water ~140F. Dropped SVM's temperature probe in the cooker and connected cooker->SVM->power. SVM maintained the temperature at 140F. Cooked it like this for 1.5 hours and then seared the steak on hot cast-iron skillet to develop crust (mallard reaction). End result was juicy and flavorful medium cooked steak! Sous vide is pretty easy and produces great results, so looking forward to experimenting with it more.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Tree Bread

We were in Dallas with Mohit's family for Christmas and I got to introduce them to Christmas tree bread! My family's tradition was always to eat the bread on Christmas morning, before we opened presents. It is quite possibly my favorite part of Christmas! I think Mohit's family enjoyed it too, because both trees were eaten by the time the last present was opened. :)

One note if you haven't worked with yeast before, the temperature is really important to make sure the yeast do their thing. I recommend getting a thermapen instant read thermometer, Mohit bought one and it is so much better than a slow candy thermometer. If you don't have any thermometer you can use hot tap water as a guide, if you know how hot your hot water heater is (I think most are around 120) so if you run your water till it is at it's hottest you can get a feel for what 120 is like.

Oh - If you ever want to make this bread at a time other than Christmas you can braid strands of dough into a ring instead of making a tree. Sometimes we have used this as a Mardi Gras King Cake. OK - recipe time already!!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk, plus some extra for frosting
½ cup shortening
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1) In large bowl combine 1 ½ cups flour and yeast.
2) In saucepan heat 1 cup milk, shortening, granulated sugar, and salt until warm (115-120 degrees), stirring constantly.
3) Add to dry mixture. Add eggs. Beat at low speed of electric mixer for ⅓ minute, scarping side of bowl constantly.
4) Beat at high speed for 3 minutes.
5) By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
6) Place in greased bowl, turn once to grease surface.
7) Cover, let rise till double (1 hour) in a warm place (like next to a heat vent or in the oven).
8) Punch down, cover. Let rest 10 minutes.
9) On a floured surface roll to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Cut dough into fifteen 1 inch wide strips. Make tree by using the longest strip for the tree trunk. Use the other strips to make branches of decreasing size from the bottom to the top.
10) Let the dough rise in a warm place till double (about 1 ¼ hours). (I do this overnight so the bread is ready to bake in the morning.)
11) Bake at 400 degrees 12-15 minutes.
12) Cool. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make an icing of spreading consistency. Drizzle icing over the trees. Top with colored sugar.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Crazy for Christmas Cookies!

We went a little cookie crazy for Christmas... we baked 3 types of cookies to take with us to Dallas! There are lots of photos with this post because cookies are just so photogenic!

First was classic sugar cookies. They aren't really the most exciting tasting cookies, but they are very pretty when decorated. To make the taste a little more interesting we added some lemon zest in some and orange zest in some. I think the lemon zest worked better, but they were both an improvement. We mixed all 3 of the doughs one day, then left them in the fridge overnight and rolled out the cookies the next day. This is maybe the 2nd time I have used the big rolling pin and the first time I used my new cookie cutters. :-)

Then we made chewy gingerbread cookies and added some frosting to both:

And finally, we added the dark chocolate mint chip cookies to the mix. These were delicious! :)
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Walnut Raisin Bread

Fresh walnut raisin bread, recipe from

My serving suggestion, with goat cheese and honey:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homemade French Fries!

We recently acquired a deep fryer and decided to test it out by making french fries. It turns out this is very simple. Step 1: Wash and cut potatoes. Step 2: Fry them, then wait some time. Step 3: Fry them again. You might try to skip step 3, but is essential to get crispy fries! Look at the difference between the fries that have been fried twice (on the left) and the soggy ones that have only been friend once (on the right):

Yummy finished fries:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Paalak paneer and urad and chana daal

Paalak paneer and urad and chana daal (I call it bhutte vali daal since chana daal tastes like corn). One of my favorite lentils and of course, paalak paneer rocks.

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Looove the slow cooker, just dump stuff in it and later you have a meal. Recipe:

Modifications to the recipe: We use 1 - 1.5 lbs of chicken instead of 3 because we like lots of gravy. Also we've always skipped the pine nuts for some reason.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MoTiff's First Thanksgiving

It was a big day for MoTiff and we basically starting cooking as soon as we woke up! Mohit even made a chef's hat for me and here I am waving some celery at the turkey for some reason.

We cut the turkey into parts before cooking it because white (breast) meat cooks faster than dark (thigh) meat (160F vs 175F) and this is the simplest way to control the process - this worked well although the cutting part was pretty hard (good work Mohit!). We cooked it for 2 hours at 275 (turned the breast upside down after an hour) and then, after a 30 minute rest, put it back in the oven at 500 for 15 more minutes to make the skin nice and crispy! Here was the finished product:

And here was the final lineup:

From front to back - pecan pie, cranberry sauce, copper pennies, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole. And this is what it looked like on a plate:

My parents were visiting and they also helped with a lot of the cooking, especially my dad!! We took some group photos somewhere around here, but due to equipment malfunction (or maybe user error) we don't actually have those photos... but we do have a photo of the end of the meal, featuring pumpkin pie in the foreground and pecan pie in the background.

And then we fell into a delicious food coma. :) Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Monkey Bread

When I was a kid we used a big bundt pan for monkey bread, but this time we used a smaller loaf pan. This is very easy to make - start with a can of refrigerated biscuits, cut each biscuit into 4 pieces with scissors, sprinkle each piece with cinnamon and sugar and layer them in the greased pan. We tossed in some raisins and nuts would probably be good too. Then, melt some butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan and drizzle that on top. Then pop it in the oven until the biscuits aren't gooey anymore.