Thursday, December 12, 2013

Grilled Chicken Satay

As beautiful as the snow was this week, I'm really missing the warm Summer Sun. Isn't it funny that during the sweltering summer months we beg for the respite of a cold, snowy winter's day, but when winter shows up we hope and long for the next warm sunny day.

Today was a cold icy December day, and I decided to warm it up with one of my favorite summertime grilled foods...Chicken Satay

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Three Sisters Soup

I was thinking about putting a post up this week for Thanksgiving, but it seemed kind of a moot point. I'm sure most people have already figured out there holiday menu and have shopped accordingly. So instead of turkey or cranberry sauce recipes, I decided on a traditional Native American recipe, Three Sisters Soup. Since the premise of Thanksgiving is to be grateful for a bountiful harvest, why not bring a little traditional agriculture to the table. 

The story goes:

The "Three Sisters" garden at the
National Museum of the American Indian.
(Photo by Katherine Fogden)
Three sisters were made by the Creator to help the hungry people, their names were Corn, Squash, and Bean. Corn was the eldest, she grew tall and straight but her feet were burnt everyday from the hot Sun, every year she stood there the ground grew less fertile. Squash saw Corn's plight and offered to lay her large leaves over her feet protecting them from the sun. Corn helped Squash by collecting water in her large leaves and sending it to her sister below. The youngest sister was Bean,  she was the weakest. She was not strong enough to hold herself up, but she had a special talent of nourishing the Earth. Corn offered her strong straight shoots to help Bean face the Sun, and Bean in turn nourished the Earth for both Corn and Squash. 

The moral of the story is that by working together we can live in harmony and prosper. The science of the story is Corn provides structural support for Bean, Bean provides Nitrogen, and Squash keeps the ground moist and deters pests. 

This is my version of the Three Sisters Soup I had out in Arizona.
I hope you enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chilly Weather Calls for Chili

It's hard to believe how quickly time has past. It seems as though the seasons are shortchanging us

Fall and skipping right to Winter. This week the temperatures dipped and we had flurries! Big fat beautiful snowflakes that thankfully didn't stick. Cold weather in our house means getting out the crockpot, stockpot, and cast iron. It's soup/ stew season!

I've always associated soup dishes with cold weather; either as a small light broth to warm you up before dinner is ready, or as a hearty stew that will warm and fill you. Lets not forget the necessity of a good hot soup when you are feeling under the weather...
This week's weather made me by-pass the light broth soups and go straight to a stew. 
The decision was made based on the flurries; Chicken Chili for dinner!
It's flavorful comfort food rather then spicy-alarm anything. For some extra heat, I usually add some Hot sauce to mine right before eating.

Here is my take on Chicken Chili:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tasty Taro Fritters - Frituras de Malanga

One day last week, after a very busy work day Kishore came home plopped on the couch and asked me if we had any snacks. I had to be the unfortunate bearer of bad news...we didn't have any more of his favorite chips. So I offered to make him something instead. He said ok rather begrudgingly with one stipulation it had to be...
 and I quote "Crunchy, Crunchy."

So after rooting around the kitchen to find something to cook, I remembered I had some Taro in the back room that I was planning to use for chips. Let's face it as much as I like TerraChips they are way to expensive and half the bag is empty. Anyway that's when the idea came to me...

Lightbulb! I can make Taro fritters! 

This recipe is based off a snack I had in a Cuban restaurant in Miami, on the menu it was called 'Frituras de Malanga' and came with an oil based red Mojo sauce... So tasty my mouth is watering just thinking about it! 
These are the perfect snack food when you're craving something crunchy, and salty, with a little (or a lot) of spice. I like to make mine spicy and pair it with a cooling yogurt cucumber sauce. To tell you the truth the sauce is complementary to the fritters, but it's not a necessity; they can stand on there own. :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jersey Fresh: Apples!

The air is crisp and cool, with a hint of the aroma of a wood burning is officially apple-picking season!
It's a great feeling climbing apple trees, trying to get the best fruit, taking that first bite of a sun ripened juicy handpicked apple.

Aren't they tempting?
This past weekend we went to Battleview Orchards and picked a little over 40 lbs of apples. We picked a nice assortment of Fuji, Staymen Winesap, Granny Smith, Golden and Red Delicious.

Kishore carrying the goods.
So now the question is... What to do with 40 lbs of apples!?

Let's start with the basic and work from there.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jersey Fresh - Maque Choux with Fried Green Tomatoes

Jersey Fresh- Part 1

Exhibit A) The Cast of Jersey Shore (FAKE)-
There are a lot of misconceptions about New Jersey. 

Thanks to crappy "reality" television and movies many people think we are a dirty state, filled with people who can't drive, who dress and "tawk" like trash, and who spend enormous amounts of time on fake nails and tanning. There is nothing more frustrating than having people from other states and countries expecting you to behave like trash just because that's how people from this state are portrayed on TV. 

Let's get something straight... there ARE people like that here, but they don't make up the majority, and I'm ABSOLUTELY positive they are not exclusively in NJ. Keep in mind only 2 of the cast on Jersey Shore were actually from NJ, so it's not an accurate representation by any means.

That being said, one of the perks of living in central NJ is the large amount of family farms. Family farms means fresh produce, fresh meat, and fresh dairy! There's nothing like sun-ripened fruits and vegetables. We are very lucky to have a small kitchen garden but we also live in close proximity to many farms and orchards. 
On the same stretch of road 10 minutes from our house there are 2 farms.

It is called the Garden State for a reason! So let's celebrate the positive, 
the real NJ... full of parks, beaches, and farms.

Here's my take on two Southern favorites made with Farm Fresh sweet corn and home grown Fried green tomatoes. Maque choux, pronounced "mock shoe," is a traditional dish of southern Louisiana's Cajun country. It is thought to be a mix of French Acadian and Native American fare. It makes a great meal on it's own, but you can add some grilled chicken/ turkey to it for a heartier meal:

Here's my recipe for Maque Choux w/ Fried Green Tomatoes

Friday, September 20, 2013

The First Visit - Kishore's Mom comes to the US - Shrimp Pickle (Royyala Pachadi)

The First Visit - Kishore's Mom comes to the US

This summer Kishore and I had a visit from a very special guest. Kishore's Mom...Amma.

I had heard a lot about her and I won't lie I was a little worried...who wouldn't be!? I mean we'd communicated a few times via Facetime but this would be different...What if she didn't like me, what if there was a lot of awkward silences and misunderstandings (we don't speak the same languages), what if she didn't like my cooking!? So many questions!!!

Kishore told me REPEATEDLY not to worry that everything would be fine, usually that helps but this time it didn't, after all the relationship between Mother and Son is very different then that of Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law.
 After all, I grew up listening to oldies and this was always a staple on WCBS-FM NY...

What if there was some truth in the song? The "what if's" were really starting to pile up, so I decided to go to my Mom and Aunts and ask them how they approached their Mother-in-laws. 
They both gave me good advice; that the most important things to remember are:

 A) Be yourself (Don't pretend to be someone you're not, it will only cause problems later.)
 B) Mutual Respect (You have to give it, to get it), and
C) Understand that differences don't automatically mean problems, if anything it's a great chance for learning.

This advice is so simple and so true, and it helped me to put things into perspective. 
So the day came when we went to pick her up from the airport, I was nervous but excited at the same time. The wait felt like forever, then suddenly Kishore excitedly said with a big smile on his face, "She's here! That's Amma! Let me take a pic!" She said, "Hi" and gave us both hugs, it was the warm greeting I was truly hoping for.

Please allow me to introduce....Amma!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Aloo Matar - Indian Cuisine and SRK

Indian Cuisine

My Mom's and both Grandma's cupboards had some interesting herbs and spices in them. Some that were used frequently like Pepper, Onion, Garlic, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Red Pepper, Paprika, Cumin, Cinnamon, and Cloves. And others that just seemed out of place like Jamaican Curry, and Lavender Salt.

To this day I still believe Lavender Salt belongs in the bathroom cabinet and not the spice rack.

My Mom's friend Sumintra, whom I call my Indian Adopted Mom, introduced me to the spices of India, Bollywood and much to Kishore's chagrin...Shahrukh Khan.
Favorite Bollywood Film: DDLJ.....Sorry Kishore

Sumintra's spices were used completely differently from how I was accustomed too. She made her own spice mix...curry powder...masala. Walking into her house after she had made masala you could smell hints of Cumin, Ginger, and Cinnamon.

All warm enticing scents that made my mouth water. She was nice enough one day to show me how to make lamb curry and gave me a jar of her masala. On many occasions she has been kind enough to invite me over for dinner, to borrow a Bollywood movie, and send me home with leftovers of Pakora, Roti and Potato Curry.

My first Indian Cookbook,
but not the last.
This was my introduction to Indian cooking and from that point I was hooked. This of course led me to buy an Indian Cookbook and try what seemed to be the easiest recipe...

Aloo Matar...aka Potato and Pea Curry....Dreaded by my family

Yup, that was pretty much my family's reaction.
I don't think that the recipe itself was bad, just my execution of it... Pun intended.

It was one of my first cooking experiments with a cuisine I was unfamiliar with.
From this I learned that you can not try a recipe for the first time and expect to be able to adjust it. Stick to the recipe; when you have the basics down THEN, and ONLY THEN experiment with adding a little bit more of this or that.

With Indian food, you have to remember three things:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Recently, I took a chance and entered a recipe contest on one of my favorite Vegetarian Indian Cuisine Sites, Manjula's Kitchen. 

This month's contest was for a vegetarian recipe Colorful springtime salad recipe with fruit.

"In springtime, the only pretty ring time. Birds sing, hey ding. A-ding, a-ding. Sweet lovers love the spring..."

I was so surprised and excited to find out this morning that I had been selected as the second place winner! 

Here is my entry, I hope you all enjoy it.

Spring Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Mixed Berry Vinaigrette

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Introduction to International Cuisine

Having come from a mixed heritage, I consider myself lucky enough to have a diverse culinary background.
From my Grandma Walsh, I was treated to Irish Soda Bread, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, and Lemon Meringue Pie.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
From Grandma Valdez the menu included; Black Bean Soup, Meat pies (Empanadas), Tamales (Costa Rican Style Of Course!), and Handmade Corn Tortillas.

Homemade Costa Rican style Tamales
I'm salivating just writing this....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kitchen Essentials Part 2- Herbs and Spices

Different cuisines call for different herbs and spices. Over the past few years I have collected a large and varying amount of both.

Spices for cooking, spices for baking, spices for healing...

My motto is....."The spice must flow!"

"Dune" reference, couldn't help myself! 

But before we go any further I want to clear something up....It seriously gets on my nerves when people automatically assume that something is hot and spicy if I've added spices. So just to get the record straight...
Spiced does not mean Spicy!

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