Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another Indian inspired meal

Tonight I cooked another Indian inspired meal.  The recipes are from the tv show 'Aarti Party' on the Food Network (my favorite cooking show!).  Not only is her food amazing, but she is so fun to watch! 
Last time I cooked an Aarti meal, my kitchen was a disaster and it took me forever to clean up...not something I'd do every day, let alone every week.  But the combination of recipes that I cooked tonight were very easy and didn't leave a huge mess.  Its definitely something I will cook more often!  

Here are the recipes:

Goan Beef Curry with Vinegar: Beef Vindaloo


Wet Masala (Spice Blend):

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 (1-inch) pieces cinnamon bark
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more if you're feeling feisty!)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste, recipe follows, or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced in half
  • 2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin, trimmed of all excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the wet masala: In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin seeds, cinnamon bark, cloves, and peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour into a spice grinder and process until powdered. In a small food processor or blender, combine the toasted spice mix and the rest of the wet masala ingredients. Process until smooth.
Place a large (preferably nonstick) pot over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and serrano pepper. Stirring frequently, saute the onions until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Don't let them burn! Turn the heat down to medium-high if they're starting to burn.
Add the ground wet masala, taking care because it will sizzle wildly and steam up your glasses, if you wear them. Stir quite vigorously and turn down the heat if it's bubbling too furiously. Don't wash the food processor bowl yet. Keep stirring, with short pauses, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the masala comes together as one mass, about 2 minutes. Also, you may see little droplets of oil on the perimeter of the masala. That's a good sign!
Quickly add the meat and stir, coating the meat in the masala. Stir and cook about 5 minutes until the meat browns.
Remember that dirty food processor bowl? Fill it with 1 cup of hot water (from the tap is fine), swirl it around so it picks up any leftover masala, and pour that into the pot. Add salt and pepper, stir, bring the curry to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Then cook with the lid ajar for another 10 minutes to thicken the gravy slightly. Check the meat at the end of the cooking time; it should be tender and not chewy at all. Adjust the salt if you like, and serve over rice or with chapatis (whole wheat griddle bread).

Ginger-Garlic Paste:

  • 1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste.
Save what you don't use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It's a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slow-cooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.

The second recipe that I made that went really well with the beef dish is:

Cucumber and Yogurt Salad: Cucumber Raita


  • 2 cups plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt
  • 2 cups grated English or Persian cucumber (unpeeled)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, minced finely
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Whisk the yogurt until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus a little freshly ground black pepper if you like. Stir, chill, and serve.

The yogurt recipe is so simple that it gives you time to focus on the beef dish.  I made the yogurt earlier in the day so it was all ready for dinner when the beef was done.  

It was fun cooking the beef, and part of the reason is that when I got to the point of adding what Aarti calls the 'wet masala' (the sauce) it started burning my nostrils.  My husband Johnny and our cousin Hunter were in the other room and even their eyes were watering.  It was so funny!  
Anyways, the beef is very nice and tender, and it has just the right amount of heat and has a very fragrant flavor to it...if that makes sense!  I served it over a bed of white rice and spooned some of the cucumber yogurt over the top.  The heat of the meat dish and the coolness of the yogurt/cucumber/mint combination really complimented each other.  And I loved when I would randomly taste a little sweetness from the raisins in there.  It was deeeeeelicious!!!!!
"This tastes as good as the food at Epcot in Disney World!" -Hunter Trimble

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

"This is so easy!  It's always the biggest hit at parties."

7 oz really good (45-50% cocoa) semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar, divided (in half)
4 eggs, separated

1. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler.  Stir together half the sugar and four yolks; add to melted chocolate concoction.  
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites; slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.  Fold mixture into chocolate.  Pour into a greased 9-inch cake pan.
3. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs on it.  Cool 30 minutes before removing from pan.  Dust with powdered sugar.

Servings: 12, Per serving: 270 calories, 18 g fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 105 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 3 g protein.

I found this recipe as I was clipping coupons one day, and I decided to try it out for my gluten-free husband.  There are only four ingredients, but there is a little bit of a method to putting this cake together.  It is worth it though, and absolutely delicious!!!  It's definitely not the prettiest thing you've ever seen, but its so good and gooey!  I liked it with sliced strawberries.  

I hope you try it!  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kitchen Boss-Buddy Valastro

I don't know about you, but I LOVE watching the show Cake Boss.  Not only am I a huge fan of cake, but I love watching Buddy Valastro and his family.  They are so loud, and funny and interesting.  The only thing about watching that show is that I have to make sure to have something sweet to snack on while I watch.  
Well now Buddy has a new show called Kitchen Boss.  Buddy's family is Italian, so most of his cooking is Italian food.  He shares recipes that have been passed down in his family.  I find him really funny because he uses the word "beautiful" to describe everything.  "Lets add these beautiful canned tomatoes to the pot.", "Lets chop up this beautiful parsley", "Lets stir this until it gets all....beautiful!" He cracks me up!  But let me tell ya, his food looks amazing!!!  

I am dying to try pretty much everything I've seen him cook, but here are a few things that I have already had the chance to cook myself.
First off, he has a few recipes that he suggests you keep on hand and ready-made to cook his Italian meals. 

Master Breadcrumbs

1pound loaf rustic Italian bread such as Pugliese
1cup finely grated pecorino cheese
2garlic cloves put through a garlic press
2tablespoons dried Italian herbs
3tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1/2tablespoon fine sea salt

  1. The day before you plan to make breadcrumbs: Slice the bread into ½ inch slices. Place slices on cake racks to dry overnight.
  2. In batches, crumble or tear bread slices into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse the bread multiple times until the crumbs are about the size of a dime.
  3. Add the cheese, garlic, herbs and salt and continue to pulse until the breadcrumbs become fine. Store what you are not using in the freezer or in your refrigerator for 3-4 days

(Since Johnny, my husband, has to eat gluten free, here are the changes I made: I used blended up Chex cereal instead of bread.  And I couldn't find pecorino cheese, so I just used grated parmesan.)

Here is the second must-have recipe:

'Master Marinara'.  

228-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
214.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
1/4cup extra virgin olive oil
2plump cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1teaspoon (kosher) salt
1sprig fresh basil
1/2cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

  1. In a 3-4 qt. pot, heat the oil and garlic together. When garlic becomes pale gold and fragrant add the tomatoes, salt and basil sprig. Stir well to combine and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer sauce, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened and is richly flavored. Remove from heat, check for seasoning and stir in the torn basil leaves.

*Now, I'd give his Master Marinara a 3 stars out of 5...I didn't think it had too much flavor, but Johnny really liked it.  Its definitely a good basic sauce to keep on hand for Italian cooking. (I made a whole bunch and froze it.)

So now that we've got those basic recipes covered, here are the recipes for a perfect Italian meal I prepared last week!

Italian Vinaigrette.

2cloves garlic, minced
1teaspoon sugar
1teaspoon dried mustard
1teaspoon dried oregano
1teaspoon dried basil
3Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2cup vegetable oil

All you have to do is mix these ingredients all together.  I just used a mini-blender.  Drizzle it over your lettuce and you're good to go!

*I keep this dressing in the fridge.  Its a great tasting dressing, super easy to make, and hey...when people see that you've got home-made salad dressing, they will be impressed!!!

Perfect Italian Chicken Cutlets
4boneless chicken breast halves (approximately 2 pounds)
2‑1/4cups Buddy's Breadcrumbs (see recipe)
1/4cups grated parmesan cheese
1‑1/2cups all purpose flour
3large eggs, beaten with a fork
Salt and pepper
1/2cup olive oil for frying (approximate)
Lemon wedges for serving
  1. If breast have tenderloins, remove and trim of all cartilage. Place a breast half on the cutting board. Place your free hand on top of the breast. Hold a sharp knife parallel to the board, and slice through the thickest portion of the breast towards the pointy end, separating the breast into two bookend pieces. Repeat with all halves -- you will have eight pieces. Pound each piece of chicken between plastic wrap to approximately 1/4" thickness.
  2. Set up a dredging station of flour, eggs, beaten with a tablespoon of grated parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Get a large sauté pan to medium on the burner. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken pieces on both sides. Coat first in the flour, patting off extra, then egg, allowing excess to drip into the bowl. Dredge in breadcrumbs. Set the chicken pieces on a plate. Heat the oil in the hot pan. When hot, add chicken cutlets, cooking to a golden brown on each side -- no more than a couple of minutes each. Set on paper towel-lined plate to drain a minute; serve plated with lemon wedges.

*These chicken cutlets were amazing!!!  They were super moist, and they tasted just as good the next day (heated up in the toaster oven.)
*I also used gluten free flour.

 I definitely suggest eating them with this next recipe:

Spaghetti Marinara
1recipe Buddy's Marinara Sauce (see recipe)
1/4cup torn basil leaves
Freshly grated parmesan to finish
1pound spaghetti

  1. Cook pasta in abundant salted water, al dente. Serve with marinara sauce and finish with the torn basil and grated parmesan cheese.

*So like I said before, the marinara sauce is very basic, but its perfect if you eat the pasta with those amazing chicken cutlets.
*I used rice pasta to make it gluten free.  It tastes just like the regular stuff!

Well I hope you try these recipes, I really enjoyed cooking them (even though my kitchen was a mess when I was done), and I loved eating them!  
I think this is a perfect meal to cook for when you're having people over.  Who doesn't like pasta?!