Sunday, December 11, 2011

Macarons

We had some almond flour lying around, so we decided to make French macarons. We read a lot of different recipes, and we ended up using this one. I think they turned out pretty good for a first attempt!




Sunday, August 14, 2011

The story of a squash

We have a small garden which has only seen limited success. So I was pretty excited when our squash plant produced a squash! Apparently squash are better when they are small, so we probably should have picked this sooner... whoops. It tasted fine to me, though it did have a few big seeds.


One squash was not enough to make a dinner, so we enlisted an onion, 2 zucchini, rice and chicken. I wanted to make something simple so we could still taste the squash. We cut up the veggies and coated with a little vinegar and sesame chilli oil. Then we stir fried it in some vegetable oil and added some soy sauce and sesame seeds. We cooked the chicken in a cast iron skillet to get a nice char.


The squash plant is getting pretty big, so hopefully we'll be getting some more squash soon...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chow mein

Indo-chinese style chow mein is a very popular street dish in India. We tried it for the first time and it turned out very good. Green-chilli soaked vinegar on top added the nostalgic touch. We went to a Lion supermarket in San Jose to get the noodles and the lady there helped us pick one that's good quality and doesn't get sticky. We also bought super-cheap ginger and thai chilli peppers there and some MSG.




First soak chilli peppers in a little vinegar and keep it on the table. You can add this on top of chow mein.

Boil water with a little bit of salt and oil and put dry noodles in the pot and gently stir with a fork. Cook on high for about 2 minutes and then on lower heat for another 2 minutes or so. When the noodles are just a little firm, but mostly cooked, put them in a colander and run cold water through them to cool them down and stop further cooking. Get ride of excess water from the colander and spray just a little oil and spread the noodles on top of a few paper towels/cookie sheet.

Next heat up oil in a wok (or big pan) and cook the vegetables one-by-one. Make sure to cut the vegetables thin and small and similar sized, so they cook evenly. Goal here is to cook them on high heat for just a few minutes, so they stay crispy and don't get soggy. We first cooked onions for a minute or 2, then removed them and cooked carrots and bell pepper, and then mixed everything together with cabbage, ginger, garlic and green chilli peppers and cooked for another minute or two on medium-high heat until vegetables were slightly charred and you can smell the aroma of ginger. Afterwards lower heat to medium/medium-low and add salt and stir for a few seconds to get rid of excess water, then add soy sauce, a little MSG (this is optional, but we wanted to try), sesame chilli oil if you have it and then noodles. Stir the noodles gently, but make sure to move the pan a lot, so things don't stick to the bottom much (there will be some collateral damage, but that's ok). Turn off the heat and add soy-suace/salt to taste and make sure noodles are well coated with the mixture.

Serve hot and add a little bit of vinegar mix on top!

Things that made a difference in our opinion:
* Excellent quality dry noodles
* Crispy and charred vegetables.
* Cabbage, ginger and green chilli peppers are crucial.
* Soy-sauce should cook for a few seconds before you add noodles and lower the heat (not sure if this is really true, but soy sauce that we later added on top tasted a bit raw compared to what was already mixed-in earlier during cooking).
* Chilli-oil added nice complexity to the flavor.
* And of course, vinegar on top!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tandoori Chicken


This was our first time attempting Tandoori Chicken! Well, a grilled version of it since we don't own a tandoor. We got the recipe from a youtube video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsb311KiG1U. It was actually very easy! And delicious!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Vanilla Poundcake

We visited a vanilla plantation in Bora Bora, so we had to find a recipe to use up some vanilla beans. We made pound cake from this recipe - http://www.chow.com/recipes/11348-vanilla-bean-pound-cake. Very rich and buttery! Perfect with strawberries.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter Eggs

We dyed Easter eggs!

Very simple, but fun!
And later we made deviled eggs!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tiffany's 30 Birthday

Mohit got me a lot of balloons for my birthday!

And he made my favorite cake - chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting! (I wrote on it though.)

So many candles! And it was delicious!

Yay for being 30! :-) And yay for mini cherry cheescakes!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras

Not long ago, we had a small dinner party to celebrate Mardi Gras! Most people who know a little about Mardi Gras probably think this is a holiday about beads and boobies. But in fact, the wild parties that you hear about in New Orleans are only in the seedy part of town and there are some really fun traditions that my family picked up when we lived there. Like the food!

Mardi Gras
/ Carnival is actually a whole season, starting after the 12 days of Christmas and ending the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Traditionally, people would fast or give up a particular food for the Lent season, which lasts until Easter. So the idea behind Mardi Gras is to eat and party as much as possible before Lent starts! In fact, Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday because on the last day of the season you eat as much as possible before Ash Wednesday! I really get a kick out of this whole thing, the whole idea just cracks me up... anyway you can read more history here, I'll move on to the food now.

We had jambalaya, which isn't exactly a Mardi Gras specific food, but it is a New Orleans favorite. My parents used to make it from a box, so this was the first time I made it from scratch. We used a recipe close to this, but the only meat we used was sausage. I like it because it is one of those one dish meals - rice, meat, veggies, it's all in there. Also we love our cast iron Dutch oven.


In New Orleans there are a lot of family friendly parade routes where you can watch the floats and try to catch beads, doubloons, and toys. I remember it being really fun, although a little competitive to get the good stuff. The best part was my dad would sometimes hold me up so the people on the float could hand me stuff directly - that usually resulted in stuffed animals. I probably still have a whole bunch of plastic beads at my parents house.

But the absolute best part of Mardi Gras is the king cake! It's basically a delicious cake/bread with a plastic baby Jesus baked inside! Whoever gets the baby Jesus in their piece of cake becomes King/Queen of the party AND they get the responsibility of making the next king cake! It's a cake and a game at the same time - of course I love it! My family actually uses the same recipe as for Christmas Tree Bread, so this is maybe not the most traditional - I think they often have cinnamon or some filling like cream cheese or fruit, which ours did not. But I think as long as it is round and has Mardi Gras colors it is totally fine to call it a king cake.

Especially if there is a baby Jesus inside!! And there was! Obviously. Sandy found it in her piece:

And then I ate a bunch more king cake, yummmmmm. Also, check out Sandy's photos from the event. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan and Stuffed Mushrooms

We found 2 new recipes that work perfectly together because they each need to bake for 20 minutes. Coincidentally, they were both delicious too.

First, stuffed mushrooms.
1) Wash mushrooms, remove stems, and let dry. We made 12 mushrooms and used the remaining 4 that came in the package for stuffing. You could also use the stems in the stuffing if you wanted to.
2) Saute a little onion in olive oil. Add garlic and the mushroom pieces. (all these should be cut up really small.) I also added some red pepper flakes.
3) When done, set the hot mixture aside to cool in a clean bowl.
4) Add a couple spoons of ricotta cheese to the mix. We also threw in some mozzarella. One time I want to try cream cheese instead of ricotta. Also add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and any other spices. We used cayenne pepper. Mix it all up
5) Place the 'shrooms on a oiled cookie sheet and spoon the mix into them. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and fresh basil if you have it.
6) Cook at 350 for 20 minutes,
Result:
And for the main course, eggplant parmesan.
1) Wash eggplant and cut into thin slices. Lay them out on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to get all the misture out.
2) Beat 2 eggs together in small bowl. Sprinkle breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning in a small plate. Dip each eggplant slice in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs to coat it.
3) Put all the eggplant slices on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes on each side.
4) Put some marinara sauce in the bottom of a pan. Put a layer of eggplant slices on top. Then add some fresh basil and mozzarella cheese (and not the shredded kind). Repeat the layers until you run out of stuff. Top off with parmesan cheese.
5) Cook at 350 for 20 minutes.

Today was a great day.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Butter Chicken ('nuff said)


Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day we had to make heart shaped food, obviously! We made a simple pasta and olive oil with heart shaped beets, which turned the whole pasta bright pink, very cute. :) We also added spinach and goat cheese to make it tasty.
Afterwards we had a cupcake battle where we each made 3 different types of cupcakes. We started from the same base and then split it into into 6 parts so we ended up with 2 cupcakes of each type.

Mohit's entries:
1. ginger with lemon zest
2. chocolate with a dash of instant coffee
3. butterscotch with caramel syrup

Tiffany's entries:
1. peanut butter chocolate chip
2. lemon topped with pomegranate seeds
3. chocolate kahlua and pomegranate

Results:
In the chocolate category we liked the chocolate kahlua best. In the yellow category we liked the ginger. Not fitting into either category, peanut butter chocolate chip was also very successful.

Stuffed Shells and Butterscotch Bread Pudding

Our friends Tom and Molly came over for dinner, so we had to serve up some good stuff! We almost forgot to take photos because of all the good conversation... so I just snapped these with my phone.

First, we attempted to make manicotti, but when Safeway was out of manicotti noodles this quickly turned into stuffed shells. Not bad, but somehow I think the manicotti noodles would have been better.
'

Dessert was a home run - butterscotch bread pudding! We used http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Butterscotch-Bread-Pudding/Detail.aspx, but we cut the sugar in half and it was perfect! We also (probably) used more butterscotch chips then suggested (didn't measure) AND added walnuts. Mohit would add walnuts to everything if he could... but they were definitely a good addition to the pudding.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Neapolitan pizza

Thin-crust neapolitan pizza is a simple, yet delicious form of pizza...crisp slightly-burnt crust with simple tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil. Generally it requires very high heat (700-800F+) which home ovens can't generate (unless you mess around with the self-clean cycle...something to try next time), but Kenji from SeriousEats came up with an interesting hack, so we decided to give it a shot. Last time we made pizza, a volcano erupted in the oven because we use the wrong type of flour (high-gluten flour is very different from gluten flour), but we were hoping to be wiser this time. We found the special italian Antimo Caputo Tipo "00" flour in our local italian store along with italian san marzano tomatoes (although we made another pie with Del Monte tomatoes and there was no difference, so will have to try bread flour next time to see if special flour makes any difference).

Mixed the ingredients and let the wet dough sit in peace for 10-15 minutes ("autolyse"), then kneaded on low for about 10 minutes...we ended up adding an extra ounce of water as the dough was too try based on the recipe.

This is what the dough looks like afterwards:

After lightly spraying the dough with oil, we kept it in the fridge for about 24 hours in a sealed container (recipe recommends at least 8 hours). Dough doesn't rise much in the fridge since yeast growth is retarded by the cold temperature, but the main point is to develop flavor. We took the dough out, formed dough balls and kept them in a covered container at room temperature (put them in the oven)...this is when the dough will rise and double in size.

We followed the instructions from this point (we need a lot more practice to make round pies). The key is to use a very hot cast-iron pan, so you can cook at high temperature to develop that charred crust. The top is developed under high heat in the broiler and the bottom develops on the stove. Within 5 minutes, the pizza was ready (we added a few basil leaves before putting it in the oven and a few after we took it out to get a mix of charred and soft). Another important tip is to spray a little olive oil on the pie before adding tomato sauce at the last minute as this prevents sogging of the crust.

We were blown away by how amazing it turned out to be and how it tasted like the real thing (and the fact that it only took 10-15 mins besides some prep work a day before).

Shaping it correctly will require more practice, but luckily our taste buds can't tell. Highly recommend this if you enjoy pizza.

But make sure to get proper gloves:
because your cute oven mitts won't survive the heat:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chilli, corn bread and beet and goat cheese salad

Frittata


Nidhi inspired us to make this. It is similar to an omelete, but is of thicker consistency and it's baked in the oven. Easy to make and tastes great.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pies

We made 3 pies for Christmas dinner - pumpkin, apple, and pecan. Pumpkin pie is the easiest and I always use the recipe on the back of the Libby's can. We used frozen crust for the pumpkin and pecan and we already had a boxed pie crust mix, so we used that for the apple pie. This was the first time I've made an apple pie so we just used the directions on the back of the box. The hardest part was peeling and cutting up all the apples - and Meeta and Vikalp did that part!! So the rest was pretty simple, you pretty much just toss the apples with spices and you are good to go. I think the apple pie looked very nice even though I was kinda lazy with the lattice pattern.
Pecan pie is always my favorite and here is my mom's mom's simple recipe:

1 cup corn syrup
1 tbls butter
⅛ tsp salt
1 ½ cup pecans
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Layer pecans in bottom of uncooked pie shell.
2. Put all the other ingredients together and mix well.
3. Pour mix on top of pecans in the pie shell.
4. Cook for ~1 hour at 300.