Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Ginger Soy Butter

One of my new favorite cookbooks (two of them, actually) is "Cook This, Not That." I love that we can still eat things that don't seem healthy, but cook them in a healthier way. This recipe is from there - I added a couple more fish fillets and a tablespoon more butter to feed my whole family (and it ALL got eaten!), and served it with some brown rice and steamed broccoli. I've never seen my 3-yr old daughter eat her food so quickly!

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tbsp minced chives (I used fresh not dried)
1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)
salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil

Mix the butter, chives, ginger, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Set aside.

Preheat a grill or grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and rub with the oil. Wipe the grill grates clean and rub with a paper towel dipped in oil. Add the salmon (skin side down, if it has skin) and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the fish and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the fish flakes with gentle pressure from your finger.

Serve the fish with a generous spoonful of the flavored butter, which should begin to melt on contact.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beef Vindaloo

Another delicious "Aarti" recipe....

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.

Cucumber Raita

Easy, refreshing, and delicious, this recipe goes great with any spicy Indian dish. This comes from Aarti on the Food Network.


* 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.

Chapatis (Indian Whole Wheat Griddle Bread)

This comes from my favorite Food Network star, Aarti Sequeira. They're not hard to make, but they do take some time.


* 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
* Big pinch fine sea salt
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup olive oil, vegetable oil, melted butter, or ghee


Pour the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly pour water into the flour, moving your other hand through the flour in circular motions, until it starts to come together. Then, either in the bowl or on your counter (which you might want to lightly flour to prevent sticking), knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliant.

Return the ball of dough to the bowl and rub the surface of the dough with a little oil to keep it from drying out. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and allow to rest about 30 minutes.

When you're ready to make chapatis, assemble your tools: a small, flat bowl of whole wheat flour, a small bowl of olive oil or melted butter with a small spoon in it, and a paper towel-lined plate or container for the finished breads.

Heat a flat griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, on a lightly-floured surface, work the ball of dough into a long log. Cut into 12 equal pieces by cutting it in half, and then half again. Cut each of the quarters into 3 equal pieces. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.

To roll the chapatis: Roll a piece of dough between your palms to form a ball, and then flatten with your palm. Dunk this puck in the bowl of flour, and then roll until it's a 4-inch circle. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of oil in the center of the circle, and spread it out almost to the perimeter of the circle using the back of the spoon. Fold the circle in half, then in half again, so it forms a triangle. Seal the edges, and dunk in flour again if it's sticky.

Start rolling, turning the triangle a quarter turn after each roll, until it's about 6-inches wide, with an even thickness. After some practice you'll be able to roll the chapati and rotate it without picking it up; I do this by weighing down a little on my right hand and pushing the chapati around that way.

Test the griddle by sprinkling a little flour on it; if it turns brown immediately, it's ready. Flapping the chapati between your hands to remove any excess flour, slap the chapati onto the griddle. It should start darkening almost immediately.

When small bubbles start to form, spread a little oil over the surface of the chapati, then flip. It should start to puff up. Spoon a little oil over this side too, and when it's puffed up a little more, flip. Press down on the edges of the chapati with your spatula or (if you're brave!) with a dry rag. This will seal the edges and encourage the entire chapati to puff up. If you spot any holes, press down on those too so the air doesn't escape. Allowing the air to stay inside the whole chapati makes it flaky and light. But don't fret if your first few don't puff up; it takes practice! It will still taste delicious.

Remove to your container. Repeat with the remaining dough, and serve the chapatis hot.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

My husband and I *love* a local restaurant's buffalo chicken dip, so we attempted making it a few times. We think we've gotten pretty close -- but if not, this dip is still delicious! The recipe makes a fair amount, so it's great for a party. I like to serve it with blue corn chips and celery sticks.

*2 (10-oz) cans chunk chicken, or about 1.5 lbs chicken breasts/tenders poached & cut into small chunks
*3/4 cup Frank's red hot sauce
*1 tbsp butter
*2 (8-oz) packages neufchatel cheese, softened
*1 cup ranch (or 1/2 cup ranch and 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing)
*1.5 cups cheddar cheese

Heat chicken, butter, and hot sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well-blended and warm. Mix in half the cheddar cheese and transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top; cover and cook on low until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lemon Curd Bars

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 10-12 oz jar lemon curd
2/3 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. sliced or slivered almonds or coarsely chopped pecans, toasted (I omitted this)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a 13x9x2 baking pan with foil. Grease and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in flour and baking powder until combined (mixture will be crumbly). REmove 2/3 c. of the crumb mixture and set aside. Press the remaining crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

3. Bake crust in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until top is golden. Remove from oven. Spread lemon curd over hot crust to within 1/2 in. of the edges. In a medium bowl, stir together the reserved crumb mixture, coconut, and almonds (if using). Sprinkle mixture over lemon curd.

4. Bake for 18-20 min more or until edges are golden and topping is lightly browned. Cool in pan. Using the edges of the foil, lift uncut bars out of the pan and cut into bars.

Pecan Bars

Falling somewhere between a pie and a cookie, this pastry tops a crisp crust with a thick layer of pecans. The sweet pecan filling offers a delicious variation on the pecan pie-perfect for dessert, lunch, or an afternoon snack.

*NOTE: I recommend doubling the recipe for the topping b/c I like lots of caramel and pecans!*

Makes about 32 cookies

* 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
* 6 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups (8 ounces) pecan halves
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Place rack in center of oven. Heat oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt, and mix to combine. Add flour 1 cup at a time, on medium speed, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Continue mixing until the dough begins to come together in large clumps.
2. Press dough about 1/4-inch thick into a 9-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan. Prick the pastry with the tines of a fork. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Reduce oven to 325 degrees. To make the filling: Place butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla.
4. Pour filling onto the cooled crust. Bake until filling bubbles, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a paring knife around edges of the pan, and invert onto cooling rack, leaving the pastry on the rack. Invert rack with pastry onto a cutting board, leaving the pastry on the board, filling side up. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1-by-3-inch bars. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Focaccia Bread

This is a quick, easy, and delicious bread! My family likes to cut it into "strips" and dip into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum!

1 cup warm water (~110 degrees)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch ground black pepper
1 3/4 cup bread flour (or all-purpose)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
olive oil
dried rosemary
parmesan cheese

Measure out warm water - add yeast and sugar and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof (it will get bubbly). Assemble other ingredients while waiting.

Pour yeast mixture into mixing bowl. Add the vegetable oil, all the herbs, then the flour and salt. Mix well with wooden spoon until it pulls together. Place bread on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Drizzle some olive oil in mixing bowl, turn dough in it to coat, then cover with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Punch dough down; place in baking sheet coated with cooking spray (I use a 10x14 sheet pan and it's perfect). Pat the dough into a 1/2" thick rectangle. Brush the top with olive oil then sprinkle with coarse salt, parmesan cheese, and rosemary. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.