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Jun 19, 2010

Pea and Mint Soup

Pea and Mint Soup

In Calcutta, a staple starter at Marwari weddings was pea soup. Liveried waiters would carry them around in porcelain cups and would offer a cup to anyone seen without a cup of soup or a glass of some beverage in their hand. My father has always been a big fan of pea soup. He says he finds it hard to turn down that any soup with such peppy green colour.I found a recipe for pea and mint soup in one of those over-priced recipe compilations that “Fine Cooking” keeps putting out. And of course I couldn’t resist tweaking it. Anyone with a blender, which is just about everyone that either cooks or makes cocktails – which should cover everyone in America – can make this. I used a tablespoon of store bought Indian mint chutney instead of fresh mint leaves. If you have neither then skip the mint and just……

Jun 19, 2010

Busy Night Tandoori Shrimp

Weeknight Tandoori Shrimp

K is not a huge fan of shrimp. But I am, mostly because on a night when I am tired and do not want to get entangled in a fussy dinner, I can easily pull out the package of frozen raw shrimp tucked away at the back of my freezer. While she shrimp is defrosting under running water in a colander, I can feed my kitty, change and pour myself a glass of crispy clear Austrian Gewurztraminer and put the miseries of the day behind me. I use a store-bought Tansoori spice mix for this recipe. Of course, I could make my own, but that would involve mincing the ginger and garlic, measuring out the seven different spice powders that tend to make people fear cooking Indian food. Sometimes even that is too much work.

Jun 19, 2010

Grilled Asparagus and Cremini Mushrooms

I’m trying to get K to eat more vegetables. We’re still a long way away from doing “Meatless Mondays” but his meals have been more balanced than before. He just can’t seem to wrap his head around sweet pea soup for a light lunch (after a disgustingly heavy dinner the night before) or a loaded omlette for lunch – not that I consider eggs to be vegetarian. I have been slipping more and more veggies into our stir-fry dinners, and I am optimistic about getting him to eat cauliflower someday. K loves the parking lot across from us – the way it is so well maintained – while I look a little higher: at the pretty little porches that belong to the people that get to park their cars in Keith’s favourite parking lot with a tiny little charcoal grill in each one. Someday, I think, someday, I too will……

May 21, 2010

Pork chop with herbs de Provence and a marsala-balsamic sauce

I made this for dinner last night… in under an hour, and am quite proud of myself for it. It is definitely worthy of serving to guests for a fancy dinner. Shaws has been selling pork-chops at unbeatable prices and we have been cashing in on the bargain. I bought a pork chop last week, and this week I bought two: one over an inch thick – which I used in this recipe – and the other thinner and to be the star of tomorrow night’s dinner. What I am most proud of is the fact that the meal was balanced with starch (buttered noodles), vitamins (baby bok choy) and protein (pork chop). It was big enough for both K and myself and the entire thing cost less than $6 to make! Now pork chops cannot be eaten medium-rare. They have to be medium to medium-well. For some people this……

May 16, 2010

Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Beef satay with Peanut sauce

I found this recipe on Recipezaar, and the person that posted it found it in America’s Test Kitchen. The only thing that I changed was that I used steak tips instead of flank steak. Actually, I used exactly 1 steak tip that weighed 0.5 lbs. K is usually not a fan of peanut sauces, but I definitely caught him dunking his satays in the sauce after the first taste! I had the spicier Sambal chilli sauce on hand, and since K and I both enjoy the heat and challenge of the feistier chilli pepppers, so that is what I used. For a milder palate, use Sriracha chilli sauce (the Rooster brand is very popular). I saved the extra peanut sauce for a quick noodle salad to take to school for lunch or for an unusually busy night. I served this as an appetizer, but with a bowl of rice and……

May 14, 2010

Aloo Gobi (Indian-style cauliflower and potatoes)

Aloo Gobhi

Lauren found a VHS of the movie “Bend it like Beckham” at a thrift store in Brighton and promptly posted as her Google status the famous line from that movie, “Anyone can make aloo gobhi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?” I certainly can’t, but I can make a pretty good aloo gobhi! Every region has its own version of aloo gobhi; each family has its own unique variant, as is the case with practically any Indian dish. This is a Punjabi version, as the girl from Bend it like Bechkam” is Punjabi in the movie. This is a dry-style curry with a tang that comes from the amchur – dried mango – powder, so there isn’t much sauce. If you want a curry with more sauce, scale up the powder spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, amchur, and even garam masala) and add more water being careful to……

May 14, 2010

New England Steamers in Beer Broth — Wicked Good!

New England Steamers

In 2006, when K first said to me, “Let’s go get some steamers!”, I didn’t know what he was talking about. That changed — wicked fast! Steamers with melted butter for dipping became a recurring dinner for us. The most important thing with steamers is to clean them well. The way to do it is a little different than that for mussels. Improperly cleaned steamers is one of the worst food experiences possible. Steamers live completely buried under the sand in shallow seas so they contain more grit than mussels. also, steamers are soft-shell clams so they require more gentle handling. To clean steamers, put them gently  

May 14, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is the unofficial national dish of England, a curry-crazy country! It is also probably the most popular Indian curry in the US too, being mild in spice and smooth and deliciously creamy. Unfortunately, K isn’t a big fan of the curries, even though he bravely had some with rice. But this is a huge hit with all my classmates every time I make it. I found the recipe on Recipezaar, but changed it quite a bit to make it my own and so it fit better how I have always known Chicken Tikka Masala to taste. Indian cooking is not hard, even if the list of ingredients are long. Once you buy the basic spices, you will find yourself using those same spices, in different proportions, over and over again for different dishes. You don’t have to always go out for Indian food or be an Indian……

Mar 14, 2010

Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast

I remember this delicious appetizer from the Chinese restaurant at the Bengal Club (Calcutta). Dilip-Jethu (Dilip-Uncle) recommends it to anyone dining there with him. So when I saw Shrimp Toast on the appetizier menu at Pho Lemongrass in Coolidge Corner, I was excited and told K that it was worth a try. K loved it. So when we went back there we ordered it again. In the meantime he keeps bugging me to try making it myself at home. Quite by accident, I found a recipe for ‘Shrimp Toast’ in an old Oriental cookbook that I had bought at the local library annual book sale in Kingston, RI, while I was reorganising my cookbooks. Now I had to give it a try. For a long time after my calamari debacle in our old Kingston, RI apartment, I steered clear of any deep-frying. Never before in my life had we had……

Mar 13, 2010

Rib-Eye Steak with a Mushroom-Red Wine Sauce

  Steaks have just been too expensive to accomodate within our weekly food budget, so we have just learned to forgo them. It has probably been over 10 months since we made a steak at home. But K has been craving it… he keeps talking about the red-wine reductions that I make with steaks without actually saying “steak” explicitly. So I decided to get him one anyway.Steaks are easy to cook. Choosing a good steak is half the battle conquered. There are, however, a few key pointers to cooking a good steak. But they are fairly easy to master. Buy a steak that has good marbelling. Even if you choose prime Angus meat, if the steak has no marbelling, it will not be juicy. Second, never start cooking a steak that has just come out of the fridge. The outsides cook very fast while the insides are too cold. By……