Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Indian Food Fest

Oh, I DO love Indian food. The best Indian Food I have ever had is in my old stomping grounds in Union Square in Somerville. India Palace, while lacking in service and atmosphere, does it all right. I am almost never in that neighborhood anymore, and I haven't found a local replacement. So, what better than to start learning how to make stuff myself?

I had found a highly rated Indian cookbook a few years ago that, as it turns out, you needed to be Indian to understand. Not only could I not understand the ingredients, but I also had no idea what anything was based on the titles of the recipes (which were not in English). So, somehow, I turned to a combination of Rachel Ray, an Albany newspaper, and an Indian recipe webpage to get my Indian on.

Last night, I made Rachel's "Tandoori Chicken" - chicken coated in yogurt and spices and roasted at a high temp in the oven. On the side was a 3-pepper salad, and chana masala (spicy chicpeas). It was an awesome, healthy meal, the remains of which I brought to work today in my Mr. Bento!

Honey Game Hens Stuffed with Wild Rice

Cornish game hens look like they're just the cutest, fanciest, most personal little plate of a meal - and they are...until you start eating them. Then things get ugly. I wanted to make this particular recipe, in which the hens are marinated in honey, soy, garlic and ginger, because it sounded great. In the end, it wasn't as sweet as I had hoped (perhaps it was my refusal to baste every 15 minutes?). That, in combination with the mess factor put this in the back of the recipe folder. But it sure was pretty for a while...

Amatriciana - Round 2!

An attempt was made at creating an Amatriciana sauce many months ago, when I just didn't have the right ingredients on hand. I didn't this time, either, and I substituted bacon for the pancetta or other unobtainable cured Italian pork product that Mario Batali's recipe called for. This is the first recipe of his that I have made!

It's such a simple sauce - one of my favorites, so it makes sense that I continue to try to perfect it. This was pretty darn close. John and I decided to cheat a little and use elbow pasta instead of the messier spaghetti (or bucatini - spaghetti with a hole) in the recipe.

Even more exciting than the sauce, I finally used a Home Goods gift card (that we received as an engagement gift!) to purchase a desperately needed large saute pan. Kind of. It's actually a casserole, which seems to me to be a saute pan without the handle. I have no plans to be flipping anything around anyway, so this was a great find, and it has already proven invaluable. Isn't it lovely?!

Jamaican Jerk Pork Stir-Fry

I had photocopied this recipe from a cookbook that I borrowed in 2001, I think? This is the first time I made this dish. The pork was spicy, but had a great flavor, as it was coated with the multitude of spices that make up "jerk" seasoning. It was stir-fried with apples and sweet potatoes (I used a yam) and served over brown rice. (As an aside, brown rice never comes out right when I cook it.)

This came out just shy of something pretty interesting. I might try it again with some variations?

Sunday Treat - Popovers and Hot Cocoa

My popover pan is amazing - it has made perfect popovers for us every time. I wanted to try and make a breakfast-y version of the popover, adding some sugar and cinnamon. Maybe I didn't add enough - they pretty much tasted like the regular popovers which, we decided, is a good thing no matter what time of day it is.

Having forgotten to purchase hot chocolate mix, I used Alton Brown's recipe to make my own using what I had on hand. (Hershey's cocoa...not so good. Sorry, America.)

Hello, Deer!

At my parents' home in Western Massachusetts for Christmas, we saw deer in the yard for the first time - ever! There were three of them! It was dark and they refused to pose for me, but I took the best photo I could through a (screened) bedroom window!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A "Huh??" Moment

They recently closed the Dunkin Donuts inside of the Oak Grove MBTA station where I catch the train each morning. I don't know why - it was busy morning and night! I'm not one for carrying a coffee on the train, but it was a great place to pick up ground coffee on the way home.

A few weeks ago, I noticed this sign on the metal storefront of the now closed Dunkin Donuts. As a designer, I pride myself on the originality of my ideas and designs...and I also have a pretty good understanding of copyright infringement. I can't wait to see the official sign for this "new" coffee business. That is, if they even sell coffee (the company name would imply that they only carry "donuts," and lots of them!)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A New Year's Day Feast

I wanted to introduce a new tradition of cooking a holiday dinner to welcome the New Year. For our first official New Year's meal I made my first Osso Bucco (braised veal shanks - the most incredibly expensive cut of meat I've purchased to date!) with a side of Risi e Bisi (risotto and peas) and roasted Brussels Sprouts. Here's to 2008!

The Osso Bucco:

And sides:

My First Homemade Gnocci

Huge thanks to my friend, Laura, whose Christmas gift to me was the potato ricer I have been wanting since I took my pasta class! I employed it right away to make my first gnocci. It was so easy!

Steaming the potatoes (love my All-Clad basket inserts!):

Through the ricer they go!

Making the little potato pillows:

Perfect little gnocci (with sage brown butter sauce and roasted tomatoes):

Lemon Shrimp with Linguini & Spinach

This dinner seemed like a good idea, but something somewhere went wrong. It just didn't taste that good. Can't win 'em all!