Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Sugar Cookies

I am all out of the words tonight, so lets leave it with dancings bootss and baby chicks....





The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

For more words, go to my #pfb2010 entry Silk Route Feast. You could even give me an early Arbor day gift and vote for me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ricecooker Tibetan Rice Pudding


Apparently, Tibet is a fairly sunny place. It is the top of the world after all. That has to make it a little closer to the sun. Per capita, Tibet is said to be much sunnier than say Buffalo. But, in your mind, what is Tibet like? Here is how it resides in my mind’s eye:

You are quietly nestled into a silken quilt. Your toes are tracing the embroidery, while at the same time, dipping into the yak fur rug underneath. The cold of the ground is close enough, but in your quiet repose, you are safe. There is a faint hint of earthiness on your lips. You mindlessly lick the last unctuous, salty remnants of the yak butter tea from the crease of your mouth. The wind rustles outside your portable home. It whips and churns, picking up speed in every rocky crag, returning with renewed vengeance. The sound of wind and rock and wind resonate. In your quiet bed, you look over to the small red lacquer stand, with its one cup, spoon, prayer scroll. Your mind follows the curlicues marked on its surface in time with the wind. And, slowly, you fall asleep, as if you are alone on the moon.

(Also, I joined a contest called Project Food Blog 2010. Find my entry here, and begin voting on September 20. If you plan to vote for someone else, the voting starts September 30.)

Tibetan Rice Pudding
Adapted from Beyond the Great Wall by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
In a rice cooker set to make white rice, add:
¾ cup brown broken rice/ rose matta
1 cup evaporate milk
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
1 T brown sugar (or less)
½ tsp cardamom
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried apples
¼ cup unsulfured apricots

Top with pistachios that have been browned in ghee

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ginger Curried Fried Chicken -- Perfect for Picnics



You must know that feeling. When you are horrified right down to your toes, I mean mortified, at the actions of your family. Somehow they have taken it as their personal hobby to embarrass you and you are suffering for their thoughtless actions. This embarrassment is a condition that peaks in middle school, though you might find you have short breakouts at important milestones like graduations, weddings, and births.

Families are at their most embarrassing when they are just being themselves. You know, when your dad hugs you before you drop your backpack in the front seat and slink into the car. When your mom calls you sweetheart at the top of her lungs in front of your sixth grade classroom. Or, when your whole family camps out on the waterfront in Monterey, and pulls out their tiffins of stinky, boring Indian food. Not only do they dig into their poha bhaji and butter and chutney sandwiches with unrepentant gusto, but they actually offer you a plate. As if. Ugh, could they be lamer?


Be warned, it gets worse. You might work as hard as you can to create a delicious picnic. You stay up late to make homemade pita and your child’s favorite masoor dal/ canellini bean hummus. You make ginger/ chilli fried chicken. You pack it all up in a lovely, festive pink lunchbox. And, then when you take out the lunchbox at the picnic site, asking your “sweet baby” if she would like some chicken, she turns and looks at you. I don’t mean a casual look. I mean she stops you with a stare, one that looks eerily like your own. Her eyes have a mature aspect that surprises you. She looks at you without a smile, in fact, her little lips curl down ever so slightly. All of sudden you realize its true, families are embarrassing—even you.


Ginger Curried Fried Chicken:

For two whole chicken cut into pieces…
In a large bowl combine, marinate chicken in:
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 T Malaysian curry powder
1 t ginger powder
1 t turmeric
2 t kosher salt
1 t chili powder
2 t coriander seeds crushed
2 1.5 inches ginger cubed large, don’t worry about peeling
3-5 cloves garlic crushed, don’t worry about peeling
1 small onion chopped

Marinate the chicken overnight (at least). Turn chicken at least once.

Make the coating. In a deep plate or shallow bowl combine:
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour (roasted in a dry skillet)
1 T paprika
1 t ginger power
1 t cumin flour
1/2 t chili powder

Dredge the chicken in the flour. Let rest on a rack. Shake the chicken slightly to remove excess. Let rest. And, then dredge in the flour again.

Par-fry in 2 inches of oil in a cast iron skillet. Use shortening. I know that there are those who would use lard. I support that, but I didn’t grow up with lard, and then taste doesn’t work for me. Fry 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm, cool, or standing right next to the oven.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shevai with Balsamic Tomato Sauce (Indian and Italian Fusion)

As a fairly small child, sitting in the vestibule outside temple biding time until lunch, I asked my mother about the caste system. To which she answered, “You know, it used to be that if you left India across the ocean, you were out of it all together.” There I was not even in middle school yet, and my mother was basically explaining that my soul was lost. We have a wacky dark streak in our family that stretches back generations.

As unreligious as I was, excommunication from faith was not what struck me. It was the vastness of the ocean. The fact that these people were walking onto boats and later onto TWA planes, hopes in their hearts and scraps of their material lives in their hands. And, for their trouble, they were given basically given a ‘see you later’.

I can only imagine it was eternally freeing—frightening and freeing. In that moment the verboten became delicious. We often joke that it must have been a moment verging on the spiritual awakening when my bad-Hindu father tasted his first bacon double cheeseburger.

My girls, Maybelle and Lily, are heirs to a rich heritage of those who quit faraway homes, picking and choosing what food tastes to keep and what to chuck. An accent-lilting Indian grandmother often makes them home food for dinner but then takes them out for grass-fed burgers. On their father’s side, they are descendents of the hard-scramble mountainous spine of Italy. Their great-grandfather’s whole town left Italia because they had apparently lost their taste for rock farming.
But, here is the where the math starts just muddy. If it were only some Lamarkian genetic food memory that exercised its powers on the taste-buds, my children would want Indian food ½ the time. Anyone who has fed children knows that they are capricious little beasts, who demand food that is at moments banally monotonous and at others perplexingly new. My first came out loving beans, and my second seems to think cauliflower is the bee’s knees. I like both, but the fist-pumping strength of their desires to eat these foods every night of the week seems amazing. Where did these loves come from?

In my short parenting history, I have learned just a smidge about feeding little ones:

*Fuel, engage in, and cultivate their healthy food desires (We grew eight kinds of beans from seed this year.)

*Introduce foods that you love—and then don’t be broken hearted when they don’t share your tastes.

*Let them help you cook. Have them help you cook. (These two are different.)

*If you blog, have them help with picking the menu, plates, etc. Talk about your pictures. Let them take pictures. (Even at three and a half, Belle helps with this.

*Make some foods over and over. Kids like routine.

*Play lots of dance music while you are cooking. (This is the equivalent of a Julia’s glass of wine while you cook with the toddler set.)

*And, the last bit of advice, mix it up. Don’t assume they won’t eat something because it is new.

One day a few months ago, my mother got it in her head that she would make shevai (sounds like if you say Chevy said with a cross between a southern twang and a French nasal). She served those noodles up without even worry if the girls wouldn’t like them.

Shevai are rice noodles from south India eaten by many ethnicities including my own Konkani people. The process is fairly simple. Soak rice until the grains are sopping and translucent (overnight), grind with water or coconut milk, steam into a gelatinous mass, and then extrude through a press.
The difficulty rating on this dish, for me, occurs because of the extruding. Think of it as the equivalent of pushing drying cement through a tea strainer. Making shevai always conjures images in my mind of my aunts and grandmother finishing making shevai, arms flexed in the air a la Rosie the Riveter. For your labor, you are not only the owner of gorgeous guns but also pillowy soft, toothy threads of noodle. These turned out to be a fan favorite at home, though the name was quickly changed by Belle to be called shimmy. As the cheeky mother than I am, I have also taught her the accompanying dance. Traditionally, they can be eaten with Indian pickle or with a sweet jaggery and coconut sauce.
But, traditional is a word I have always only understood ever so tenuously. We serve our shevai with an Italian inspired tomato sauce so delicious you will want to lick the pan. This sauce was inspired by one that my Belle makes with her dad from the Silver Spoon for Children. The secret is a little bit of brown sugar. And isn’t shevai just a gluten free Asian angel hair pasta? And what’s better than spaghetti and sauce for breakfast even if it took a wide detour through India? (Or maybe because of that detour.)
In the end, who we are, and by extension, what we love to eat, is the result of such perplexing alchemical processes, it’s probably not be worth doing the calculations. It does have something to do with the magic of being born into a family who nurtures you. So, if someday my girls venture off on their own across a wide ocean, if they leave me and my cooking behind, what of our kitchen will they take comfort in? Let’s not do the math.

My first entry for the Project Food Blog should exemplify my blog: good writing, global food, and family.

I am also sending this onto the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by A Moderate Life,
girlichef, Hunger and Thirst, and Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy


Balsamic Curry Leaf Tomato Sauces
Bell Pepper Quick Indian Pickle (Achaar)
Spicy Orange Achaar

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vegan Waffles

vegan waffles

I want to like pancakes, I do. When I was pregnant with Belle, my husband would make plans for Saturday morning pancake mornings. In his world, we would all work together to make pancakes, music playing gently in the background. Dad would flip. Belle and I would sit at the table anticipation in our voices. Then, we would all saddle to up large stacks of pancakes, drenched in maple syrup, Belle cuddling on her father’s lap. With pancakes described to you in this way, who wouldn’t want to like them.

If you have no offspring, you really think you can make plans; that you can predict who they will be. You can’t. Belle came out disliking pancakes intensely.
J—thought that maybe it was a case of tasting pancakes at least 10 times. Then he thought it might be need 15 times. Let’s just say, it’s a couple years in and neither mother or daughter have come to love the pancakes.

Though the girls in our family must be incredibly susceptible to marketing. Take that flour and milk mixture, and put it in a waffle iron, and well, we are sold. Sold, I say. If I decide to dissect this thing, I think it’s because waffles are fluffy pancake-iness encased in crunchy, browned happiness. It’s the crunchy, plain and simple.
vegan waffles

Vegan Yeasted Whole Wheat Oat Waffles

This recipe is the best vegan waffles we have ever made.

I am passing this recipe onto yeastspotting from Wild Yeast.

vegan waffles