Monday, December 13, 2010

Bad Weather Cupcakes

Eggnog Cupcakes

Snow day

snow day

It’s a snow day. Every snow day my mother in law made a particular sugar laden cake. Why would a woman with 4 kids would want to hype up her children when they were trapped at home? Well, at least here, have devoured the cupcakes, danced a jig, and tore up the house, they settled into a nice nap. Maybe she was onto something.

Snow day Cupcakes
My mother in laws recipe with my changes in parentheses
1.5 cups bisquick (or 1.5 cups flour, 1 1/2tsp Baking Powder, 1/2tsp Salt)
2/3 cup milk (or eggnog)
½ cup sugar, feel free to be heavy handed
2 egg whites
2 T oil (plus 1 T more oil)
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T chopped nuts (optional)
1 T butter
1 T milk

Beat all the cupcake ingredients at low for 30 seconds. Then beat at medium for 1 minute. Spoon into lined cupcake tins. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

Mix all the topping ingredients. Top the warm cupcakes. Broil for 2 minutes with the cake 3 inches from the coil.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gluten Free Carrot Candied Orange Madeleines



Someone once told me, “You know, writing is like riding a horse.” They stopped there. Now, I am starting to wonder. Was it because if you rode once you can ride again and similarly if you strung together sentences before you will again? Or was it because riding a horse, and writing similarly, takes practice but the practice is well worth it? Or was it because riding a horse, and writing as well, can be a terrible pain in the behind?

I would like to believe the answer to all three of those questions is yes. I am starting to believe most things take practice and are often a pain, though once learned are so familiar they can never be forgotten.

After a frustrating week when the skies have chosen to offer inclemency of some kind, I find myself itching to have a quiet minute in the kitchen. I don’t mean event-cooking or dinner making. I mean quiet mixing chopping joy; the kind of cooking where you don’t need to look up the recipe or pull out a scale. You just drop that measuring cup into the flour, feel the smoothness of the ingredient, and then satisfied sweep the knife over the cup. Chopping, whisking, moving. Then you bite into your creation and remember, hey, I can cook. Maybe cooking is like writing—oh, I mean like riding a horse.


Gluten Free Carrot Candied Orange Madeleines
Based on a recipe by Seattle Local Food
Melt ½ a stick of butter. Let brown. Strain and cool.

In a large bowl, beat together:
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup grated carrots
2 T candied orange peels, chopped
1 T candied ginger, chopped (optional)

In a separate bowl, mix together:
½ cup GF mix
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp xantham gum
1 tsp ginger powder
½ tsp Chinese 5 spice
½ tsp cinnamon
2 T brown sugar

Mix dry into wet. Add butter.

Let sit for 5 minutes. And then pour batter (it is wet) into greased Madeleine pans. Bake 8 minutes at 350. This makes about 60 mini-madeleines.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dry curry Brussels Sprouts


brussels sprouts

Knock knock. Let me be your friendly Brussels sprout evangelist. If you don’t like the sprouts, I would suggest your taste buds have been lied to—or even worse those sprouts have been tortured. Here is a handy guide, if your Brussels sprouts have been cooked until they are yellow, sulphuric or soggy, then pass them right on. If they are firm, green, lovely, pleasing to the eye and nose then grab yourself a double helping. For a couple years, I made vadouvon Brussels sprouts, this year I went with a mustard dry curry.

Dry curry Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts
½ lb tiny potatoes

In a skillet or wok, add:
2 T oil
1 t turmeric
1 t black mustard seeds
1/2 t cumin powder

Once the spices brown slightly, add:
1.5 T tomato paste
1.5 T whole grain mustard
2 small onions sliced in thin rings
Pinch sugar
1 T ginger
1.5 T garlic

Let onions caramelize. Once onions have browned, add Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Let brown slightly. Then add ½ cup water or coconut milk. Simmer.

In a separate skillet, dry fry a handful of tomatoes.

Add the browned, wilted tomatoes to the brussel sprouts. Serve warm.

The gang at Guerilla Gourmet were kind enough to include me as the Ohio rep for their holiday round up. And, I rarely turn down the chance to represent the glory of Ohio produce. Go over and check out the rest of the states.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Apple Mini Pies


Belle seems to dislike the number 14. I am not quite sure what it did to her. She is plenty enamored with 4. And, that 10 is a good round number is something upon which we can all agree. But, 14 is turning into a bit of a bother. Fifteen through twenty are really a breeze. And, anything up to 13 are so easy they aren’t worth discussing.

What does a mother do? Well, honestly, first there is a little worry. If you don’t, more power to you. Worry, then admitting to it, and then moving on is what makes me human (that and a couple of other things including the fact that I bore children.) The next step for some of my parenting woes usually springs from some strange “call in the troops” mentality. Strange because I barely remember what ROTC stands for and look terrible in khaki; but more importantly because metaphorically screaming “charge” is really the worst sentiment when it comes to dealing with your children. In this case, I attacked with colorful books and rote memorization. This tact was actually quite fruitful—it saved me from my gung-ho tendencies for a little while. Belle must have been relieved when I gave the whole number thing a rest. For a little while I suggested she just count to ten, and then go back to one. I went back to being my less crazy self.

Life ramped up. I made 300 mini-pies for a wedding reception. When we stood at the counter packing up my cheddar cheese apple pies, my Belle told me “Mommy, you already have four-teen pies in the box. Can I eat one?”

“Sure,” I said, in a voice that was just below a cheer.

“Well, now that I put another pie in the box, can you count them?” I asked.

“Now I only get to fourteen.”

for the apple cheddar pie recipe go to epicurious--but add chinese 5 spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground star anise

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ode to the End of Summer Market


There is that moment when the warm of summer begins to be tinged slightly with an edge of crispness. Walking down the sidewalk, you start to question if you saw that right. Wait was there one jaunty yellow leaf peaking out of a fully green tree. No, it’s still summer, you reassure yourself. Summer hasn’t just passed you by, you promise yourself. Fall is well in the distance, you start thinking. After all, your toes are freely traveling in flip flops; your skin is still tan; the rain still smells warm. You forget about this whole thing and keep walking. Then crunch, a brown leaf sticks to underside of your summer shoes. Fall is arriving—in the active tense. It’s a janus moment, fall at the front, summer at your back.




At the market, the last of the summer melons sit almost anachronistically beside winter squash. Tomatoes, those summer jewels, elicit in you equal parts joy for the wealth of summer and melancholy for the bareness of winter. You caress the soft, satiny skin; enjoying it summer bareness. You walk down the farmer’s market allee surveying not just the wares, but the end of the season, the joy of the moment. You look into the face of the farmer’s that you have come to count on over the summer (over the years.) You linger over the radishes reveling in this Easter-bonnet happiness. You chew on beans, raw and redolent of the earth. Then you spend a few minutes coveting, fondling the heirloom pumpkin, tapping on its hard skin you mindlessly pull at your cardigan. As you leave the market, you revel in the mental snapshots of summer, of the farmers, of the food, that you have preserved to hold you through until spring.




Standing in your kitchen, you hesitate over the vegetables. After all, when that last tomato is gone, summer is too. Steeled by anticipation and a little guilt about wasting such loveliness, you set to. You slice into the flesh of a squash, and smell in its fall earthiness. You tear into basil and remember the laughter of running through wet grass. You try to do those farmer’s proud, showcase the truth of those vegetables. Your guests bite into your food and feel the changing of the season.

Menu in Celebration of My Farmer's Market at the Change of the Season:

Rice, miso-lemongrass corn chowder, and red pepper sashimi

Raw tomato raviolo with Almond Cheese in broth

Broiled Hungarian finger food with pickled radishes, pickled beets and crisp daikon

Miso fried mushrooms

5-spice, star anise infused grilled eggplant into red miso garlic sauce


Soft tofu in genmatch tea

Vegan Cincinnati chili of cranberry beans and kidney beans on buckwheat noodles

All-american potato salad with homemade bread and butter pickles

Quick pickled homegrown carrots, celery, radishes and spicy pickled tomatoes


Apple sauce infused sweet tapioca with almond brittle

Kabocha “pie” filled homemade mocha


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