Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Brooklyn SkillShare Cooking Classes! Bring on the Curry!

A few weeks ago I was invited to teach a cooking class at the Brooklyn SkillShare! I was honored and so excited to be able to share my love for food and flavors, with everyone. As I got to thinking of which recipes best represent me, I took a poll of all my friends and asked them to vote for their two favorite Indian dishes, and majority voted for Chicken Tikka Masala and Palak Paneer.

I prepped my recipes and ingredients and travelled with two bags full of ingredients, to Brooklyn! It was a fantastic experience and I was pleasantly overwhelmed with the 30+ people that attended my cooking class. I hope to be back there again, next year, to share some more exciting recipes with the hipsters ;)

Palak Paneer (Paneer with Spinach Curry)
100gm Frozen Paneer (Defrosted and at room temperature when ready to use)
I large bunch of Fresh Spinach leaves
2 Jalapenos (optional and you can adjust the quantity based on your preferred level of spicy)
4 cloves of Garlic
1 inch piece of Ginger
I medium Onion (roughly chopped in large pieces)
4 Tbsp Tomato Paste (or I small can of Tomato Sauce
Water/Vegetable broth – as needed
2 tsps Turmeric Powder
2 tsps Red Chilli Powder
2 tsps Cumin Powder
2 tsps Coriander Powder
2 tbsp Clarified Butter (You can also use Vegetable oil instead)
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil (to cook the Paneer)
Salt to taste
Fresh Coriander leaves to garnish

1.       First prepare the Spinach gravy. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil and blanch Spinach leaves for 7-10 minutes. Remove from water and transfer to a food processor
a.       Add Jalapenos, Garlic, Ginger and chopped Onion to the Spinach and puree well in a food processor. Set the gravy aside in a bowl
2.       Take the Paneer and chop it into small bite sized pieces
3.       In a skillet, heat up some vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the chopped Paneer and sautee until it is golden brown. Remove and set aside
4.       In the same skillet add the clarified butter, once heated, add tomato paste and all the spices and cook for 10 minutes. Add a little water to loosen the mixture and continue to cook until the oil leaves the sides of the pan (another 5-10 minutes)
5.       At this point, add the Spinach gravy and continue to cook the curry. Add Salt to taste and more water to achieve the consistency you desire
6.       Finally add the cooked Paneer and simmer on low to medium heat for approx 10 minutes.
7.       Serve hot, garnished with chopped fresh coriander leaves and Naan!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Spice mixture
2 tbsps Garam Masala
2 tbsps Coriander Powder
2 tbsps Cumin Powder
2 tbsps Turmeric Powder
Salt to taste

For the Chicken
2 large  boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1.5 cups of Yogurt
2 tbsp Lemon juice
6 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp Ginger, finely shopped

1. Start with marinating the Chicken, the previous night. In a large bowl add the Chicken Yogurt, lemon juice, ginger and garlic with half of the spice mixture and mix well to coat both pieces. Cover with cling wrap and set in the refrigerator overnight.

2. The next day, remove the chicken and place it on a baking tray lined with foil, bake at 350 degrees until the Chicken is almost cooked. At this point, for the last 5-10 minutes, change the oven to the broiler setting. You want the top of the chicken to brown and almost get a bit burnt to mimic a bbq feel. As soon as that is achieved you can take the chicken out and let it cool.
Once cooled, cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

For the Curry
¼ cup of tomato paste
2 cups heavy cream
Water/chicken stock as needed
1 onion, finely chopped
6-7   whole Cardamom pods (broken open with your fingers)
3 tbsp clarified butter (you can also use vegetable oil)

1.       In a large skillet, heat the clarified butter and sautee onions and cardamom pods until the onions are slightly brown
2.       Now add the other half of the spice mixture and tomato paste with some water, and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes. Add more chicken stock to achieve desired curry consistency
3.       Finally, add the cooked chicken and heavy cream and mix well. Let the curry cook on low-medium heat for an additional 5-7 minutes
4.       Serve hot with basmati rice!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sriracha Whiskey Candy.... What Valentine's Day should be

I can’t think of a more ridiculous holiday outside of Valentine’s Day. Do we really need a reminder to tell the people in our lives that we love them?

Nope. Let’s just call this what it is:  an excuse to make your significant other feel totally obligated to spend money on you, or an excuse to go out & bitch with your friends about how tough it is to be single. The solution in both of these cases always includes alcohol.

This recipe to me includes everything that Valentine’s Day should be (or really, any day of the year for that matter): something a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and always a little bit drunk.

The next time you are looking to spice things up with your sweetie, give these a whirl (in the kitchen… not the bedroom. Get your mind out of the gutter! Or don’t… the gutter can be fun).

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup corn starch
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
2 tbsp whiskey

In a large heavy bottom saucepan, bring the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a slow boil on medium heat. Insert your candy thermometer into the pan. Let the sugar caramelize up to 300. This will take quite a few minutes. Stir occasionally with a large spoon (wear an oven-mit, hot sugar is NOT to be messed with! It will seriously burn right through your skin should it splatter). As you wait, grease your mini cupcake tin with nonstick spray (or any small candy molds you may want to use for this is just fine).

Once the thermometer reads 300, turn off the heat. Stir in the sriracha and whiskey one tablespoon at a time; be VERY careful as it will boil immediately. Wear the oven-mit as stirring and stand back. Stir everything until bubbles disappear and it becomes a smooth caramel. Pour the caramel into the prepared mini tins or molds and set in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. Once the caramel has cooled down and set a little, remove them from the refrigerator and using a small knife, remove each candy and place onto wax paper. While the candy is still a little malleable, insert toothpicks or small lollipop sticks halfway into the center. Leave out to harden, or in the refrigerator overnight. Wrap in wax paper or cling wrap, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bloody Beet Chocolate Cake. Happy Valentine's Day Lovers!

This one is for all you lovebirds! Fear not, I have the perfect answer to all your Valentine's Day gift giving worries. Don't to the cupcake bakery at the last minute to scrounge up the last 3 dried out cupcakes they have left. Don't order expensive artisan truffles (although they are quite delicious and will score you some major points in the sack!) and panic about them being delivered in time for Valentine's Day and definitely DON'T be sending your beau a freakish looking, squishy teddy bear at her workplace. They have to show their face at the office again the next day, don't ruin it for em!

Instead, go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of Beets. Yes. I said Beets. That's the star ingredient in this moist, fudgey awesomely chocolatey Chocolate Cake. And NO, it does not taste like Beets. It tastes like the most intense Chocolate Cake you have ever eaten or fed anyone! And your lover will love you for making it for them, not only because its delicious or because you were 'so sweet to bake me something', but also because this beauty will be easy on the calorie counter as well!. No eggs or butter in this one!

I added coffee and cinnamon to my cake and also a healthy fistful of rainbow sprinkles. Gotta Gay-up a treat for my girl!

Here's how you do it. You can send me fan mail, roses and/or those expensive artisan truffles, to thank me. Teddy Bears will be turned away at the door. Now go forth and bake and get ready to reap the benefits in private :)

Oh, and don't forget to get her flowers :)

2 beets (boiled and peeled)
1 cup soy milk OR Vanilla Yogurt

3/4 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
¼ tsp Cinnamon
pinch salt
¼ cup Rainbow sprinkles (optional)

How to
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Puree beets in a blender by adding a little bit of water. Measure 1/2 of this puree and set aside for the cake.
- I used a silicon cake pan, you can use which pan you have handy, make sure you grease and line it well. You can even make cupcakes with this batter!
- In a large bowl, whisk together soy milk (or vanilla yogurt), sugar, oil, vanilla extract, beet puree.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a separate bowl) add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, instant coffee powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
- Next add the wet ingredients and mix until a smooth batter is achieved.
- Pour batter into your prepared baking device and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it passes the cake tester.
- Cool completely. Once cooled you can serve it as it, with a dusting of coffee/cocoa powder or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A side of Healthy with your New Year's Resolution?

Where-ever you look and whomever you talk to these days, it's all about being healthy and saving money in the new year. Including me! I'm all about re-creating my favorite store bought snacks for much cheaper and making them much more healthier! So this weekend I I ditched the $5.99 bag of Kale Chips at the grocery store and went for a couple of fresh bunches of Kale at the local Farmer's Market, which cost me only $2.99!!

I was super excited to make these delicious crunchy treats! It's so simple and take no prep time at all that I wondered why in hell I ever spent $5.99 on a measly bag of Kale Chips! You can flavor these chips with almost anything you like: Ranch dressing (powder); Hot Sauce, Jerk or BBQ spices or just good old Salt and Pepper. I chose to bring out the true flavor of Kale with just a sprinkle of Salt and Pepper and boy were these delicious to much on while watching the Golden Globes!
Popcorn- move over! there's a new snack in town!!
AND you can make 3 bags of Kale Chips for a fraction of the cost of one that you buy at the store!

You will need:
2 Bunches of fresh Kale
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil/Or Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray
2 tbsp Finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Wash and dry the Kale leaves thoroughly and chop them up into bite sized pieces (note that once they cook, the piece shrink so cut them into decent sized pieces or you'll end up with large crumbs of Kale chips)

2. In a large wide mixing bowl, todd the Kales with Salt, Pepper (and Cheese) and Olive Oil. (**At this point you can also add any other seasoning that you like).
Note: You don't need too much oil, a little goes a long way! Alternatively, once tossed with Salt and Pepper, you can line them up on a baking sheet and spray with Pam.
3. Line a sheet pan with a silicon baking mat. Once tossed and coated well, line Kale on the sheet (You may have to cook them in batches so as to not overcrowd the tray).

4. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until crispy

Remove, cool and enjoy!
Try not to eat the whole batch in one sitting!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Adobo Braised Chicken Stew

Whether you want a kick-ass Taco night with friends, or a unique twist on a Chicken Pot Pie or better yet a warm, cozy and romantic gourmet dinner with your sweetheart; this recipe will lend itself to it all!! It's all abut how you present this beautiful stew and the ingredients you pair with it, that will help elevate it to gourmet status or lend itself to a casual meal with friends and family. 

I decided to serve this elegant stew with some spicy, crispy Polenta Cakes and a simple Arugula salad for some freshness. Weeknight Datenight Dinner with the sweetheart just became even more special!

I also made some pocket Adobo Chicken Pasties (Hand pies) for a friend to take on her train ride (and snuck one in for my lunch tomorrow)! The recipe made enough for me to freeze some of the stew so I'll be able to enjoy some delicious Adobo Chicken Tacos on a night when I just don't feel like slaving over the stove!

This stew will pair well with just some simple yellow rice or even crusty French Bread. I give you Adobo Braised Chicken.

2 Pounds Chicken breast (I used Boneless/Skinless, only because it is easier to shred once cooked. But you can use any cut you like really. Chicken thighs would also work well for this dish)
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion - finely diced
1 medium Red Pepper - finely diced
3-4 cloves of Garlic - minced
2 medium carrots - cut in 1 inch thick slices
1/2 cup sweet yellow Corn
1/2 cup petite Green Peas
1 packet Sazon
2 tbsp Adobo Paste
2 tbsp Sofrito Sauce
2 tbsp of your favorite Hot Sauce (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/4 cup of chopped fresh Cilantro leaves
3-4 cups water or chicken broth

1. Salt and Pepper your chicken and set aside

2. In a Crock Pot, heat Olive Oil, and fry the Onions, Red Peppers and Garlic. Once slightly brown and while the pot is still screaming hot, sear both sides of the chicken breast to get some good color (approx one and half minutes each side).

3. Now remove just the chicken and set aside.

4. In the Onion and Pepper mixture, add Sazon, Adobo and Sofrito (and Hot Sauce), and cook for approx 2-3 minutes. Then add the chicken back into the pot and stir so as to coat the chicken with the paste.

5. Finally, add the corn, carrots and peas and 3-4 cups of water/chicken broth.

6. Cover the pot and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked all the way through (If you test it with a fork, it should fall apart!).

7. Season with salt and pepper to taste (you won't need much as the Adobo and Sofrito are already seasoned). Finally add the chopped cilantro leaves to garnish.
- Before serving, I removed the Chicken Breast from the stew and shredded it with a fork and then put it all back into the pot.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Apple and Pear French Tart with the most silky delicious Lemon Curd

I'm almost embarrassed to post this recipe because it's so ridiculously easy to make! But then again, it was just too good to not share! You can choose to leave the Lemon Curd out if you wish, I added it because I have a jar of homemade Lemon Curd in my pantry at all times. Of Course! However, this tart is perfectly delicious even without it. The delicate buttery puff pastry is the perfect vehicle to carry these sweet and tart slices of Apples and Pears and the hint of Sugar gives this dessert the perfect accent!

I used Apples and Pears, but you can actually use pretty much any fruit, preferably ones you can slice and layer, so they cook evenly AND look pretty. And of course they'll taste delicious, coz let's face it, all my recipes do! ;)

Lemon Curd
2 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (either Meyers or regular lemons)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature

1. Combine whole eggs and yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. 
2. Remove from the heat.Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition.  Strain through a fine sieve into another bowl.  Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours.

Pastry1 sheet of Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet (What? Did you think I was going to make this from scratch!?)
1 Large Apple (I choose Red Delicious as they paired well with the slight tartness of Pears)
1 Large Pear
1/4 cup of cold Cutter (cut into small dime sized pieces)
2 tbsp Sugar

1. Thaw the Puff Pastry sheet so it's pliable. On a well floured surface, roll out the sheet with a rolling pin, until it's about 1/4 inch in thickness. Transfer to a greased baking tray.
2. Peal and core the apple and slice into 1/2 thick slices. Do the same with the pears. Now layer the fruit slices in a pretty pattern, alternating a couple of slices of apples and then a couple slices of pear.
3. Sprinkle the sugar over the entire prepared tart and finally dot the pieces of butter evenly across the tart.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until the puff pastry is cooked and has a beautiful golden brown color.

Remove the tray and let it cool. Once cooled, drizzle the lemon curd on top, cut into squares and serve!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Spiced Honey and Fig Cookie!

I love Figs. And Christmas. And Holiday Spice and Cheer! So when I thought of all my favorite things, naturally I began working on putting them all together! Hence was born The Holiday Spiced Honey and Fig Cookie!

This cookie is soft, chewy, spicy and sweet and the Figs add such a deliciously naughty texture to it that you will definitely go back for seconds. The scent of Cinnamon and Nutmeg will convert even those that non-believers in Santa and the red nosed reindeer, into lovers of Christmas and all things  ho-ho-ho!!

An extremely simple and quick recipe that goes perfect with a glass of ice cold milk! I used dired Figs for this recipe, because, well, fresh Figs aren't in season anymore...which is on my list of things to complain to Santa about!

1/4 cup of Butter
3/4 cup of Honey
1 3/4 cups of Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg and Clove
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup dried Figs (hydrate these in warm water and chop into small pieces)
2 Eggs

How to:
1. Heat the Butter and Honey in a saucepan until Butter has melted. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs. Next, add the Butter and Honey mixture (make sure it's cool, you don't want to curdle the eggs!).
4. Now add in the dry ingredients and finally fold in the chopped Figs.
5. Using a cookie scoop, layer the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes.

Remove and let it cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy. That is all.