Jun 29, 2011

Lamb Persilade

Seldom does one come across a technique that is so unique and straightforward, you are left to wonder, why do it any other way. And often times, the end products are deliciously rich and lean-- at the same time.

All you need are fresh ingredients and some patience.

Here is a lamb recipe, that is a great take on grilled lamb persilade ( A mixture of garlic, parsley and olive oil). The slow roasting allows for meat to cook in its own juices infused with all the fragrances that screams summer and green. Again Mr. Bittaman, you do it the minimal way :)

Lamb persilade: Watch the video for a good demo

1 lb of butterflied leg of lamb. Usually 10$/lb i.e. cheap. Has more meat than the leg per se. And has a hge surface area, that allows faster cooking and deeper infusion of flavors into the meat. But by all means if you want to splurge, go for ribs of lamb. I would say you could do thins with butterflied leg/breast of chicken and also maybe fatty fishes (like Haddock)
1/2 cup of parsley
1/2 cup pf cilantro leaves.
If you have a preferance for any one of those, go for a whole cup of your chosen varaity
A few springs of Thyme. I just learn't this. Thyme is the subtler variety of ajwain. So you can use Ajwain leaves for this one, just go very low ( a few leaves at most)
Zest of a lemon
Salt and pepper
a whole jalapeno
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/4th to 1/2 cup of fragrant olive oil. I like Sicilian and Spanish. But use whatever oil you have. But olive is what I will recommend

Puree everything together and you have a persilade. Smell the green summer paste. Chances are you will want to have it just like that.  Make slices all over the lamb/chicken/fish.Liberally salt the insides of the butterflied leg of lamb (or the thigh/ breast of the chicken OR all over the ribs OR the haddock cubes). Slap the insides of the butterflied leg of lamb (or the thigh/ breast of the chicken OR all over the ribs OR the haddock cubes)with the persilade. Wrap the meet like a sandwich. Just flip one side over the other. FOr ribs and fish of course you don't have to do this. Salt and persilade the upper surfaces of the meet sandwich.
Cook in the oven at 400F for 1 hour (for fish no more than 20 mins). The broil on high for 4-5 min for some browning.

Serve with some Lebanese flat bread, Indian bread and a bold dry red. I like Sicilian and Chianti.

Happy eating and healthy living

Jun 26, 2011

Southwestern Potatoes

There is not a lot when we think about southwestern food. At least...not me. 

That just shows how much there is still to learn. And with food..the learning is the fun thing. And a simple recipe by Mark Bittman was all it took to reveal this fantastic point of food..once again to me.
Apparently Bittman got inspired by this recipe on a flight! There must be something about this one that makes avid foodies learn new tricks.

You got to to try it to understand the fantastickness of this one

Mark Bittman

2 ears of corn. Husked, cleaned and shaved carefully as close to the stick as possible. Collect the corn and discard the stick.
1/2 cup of black bean, soaked overnight. Better still, you can use the ones from store. Drain the water of course.
1 jalapeno
2-3  potatoes. Coarsely cubed.
 A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup pf good quality cheese. Tangy varieties are best. I have pepper jack and Cheddar. Both worked great
1 tbsf lime juice
3 tbsf oil
Salt and pepper
cilantro for garnish
In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsf oil. Add the corn and the jalapeno. Brown the kernels for 2 mins..but don't dry it out. Plate up and reserve the corn.Add another 2 tbsf oil, and brown all the potatoes. Will take time. So don't rush. Once they are brown all over, reduce hear cover to cook through for 3 min. Add the corn back in the skillet. Add the beans, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. A bit of lime juice in here is good. Take the skillet off the stove, transfer to a oven friendly container, add the cheese cubes and broil for the cheese to melt in your broiler. If you don't have a broiler, just reduce heat on the stove to the lowest setting and let the cheese melt.May take 1-3 mins. But no more. 
Garnish with Cilantro

Have it on a Sunday morning. A southwestern style potato salad.

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jun 13, 2011

A bit of musings and a lot of ramblings. In a pot

A bit of food mood here. And a willingness to share.

1.' You cook because you want to cook, the kitchen is optional'. Can't agree more, Mr. Bittman

2. There is no better way to cook than looking at as many well written traditional cookbooks as possible. From as many places as possible. The pictures and the history and the story makes you want to create.

I currently have 6 hardbound ones on my Amazon shopping cart. A couple of names here, ' The Italian farmer;s table, My Tuscan Kitchen, The Arab tale, Olives and oranges'. Recently bought, "Around my French Table'. Dorrie Greenspan knows how to cook and tell a tale.

3. There is no alternative to imagination and a fabulous pair of knives. Chicken should slice as easy as butter. With lesser mess

4. Almond paste. Raspberry and blueberry extracts. Use these and you have a wholly different baking extravaganza. Yes, even with the simplest white cake. No. Not marzipan.

5. If you don't like garlic and chocolate and Ramen. Please refrain from food.

6. Berry Food. A new dessert favorite.

wait...this is turning out to be all about desserts..

7. Whole chicken tastes best when defrosted in the refrigerator for 3 days.

8. There is something wonderful about one pot cooking. The aroma and the simplicity. Almost any recipes can be made into one pot wonders. A quickie is smoked paprika, hot paprika, chicken, tons of onion and a bit of garlic, salt and pepper. Slow cooked. All goes in together, my loves.

9. Talking of Paprika. Is there anything remotely lovelier than this spice. Smoked, hot, sweet, Spanish pimmenton (Spanish smoked paprika), from cyprus, from sicily. Each smells of the earth on which it grew.And I have spent money galore on having these at my disposal. Cooking just became poetry.

10. There is a world of difference between organic and conventional.

11. Milk is a good substitute for hot water. So is broth. But hot water works just as well

12. Hard Cheese, olives. breads and some smoked sardine. Okay throw in some Spanish or Sicilian Olive oil. Summer summer...where art thou? Right here honey..under the olive tree by the river.
I don't like the Greek version much. Oh, loves these are extra virgin extra delicate ones. Use olive oil, when cooking. And extra virgins for the love of it :)

13. Saffron and Pistachio reminds me of ice creams that I don't like. I steer away from them.

14. Talking of ice creams. Strawberry and chocolate are the only ones I will ever have. Yesterday, once more?

15. Of cheese and wine: Okay..first the cheese. A recent love. Smoked Gouda, Havarti, Brie are my favorites. Dislike cheddar and parmigiana. Goat with some herbs, olive oil, garlic and pepper corns are a thing of beauty and a joy forever

16. What about it? Wine. Red and dry. I like the Sicilian ones, Chianti and any cabernet Sauvignion. Whites are for cooking. Okay not Riesling. They say Riesling is from the mountains. Sure smells like those.And sweets are for ....

17. Bread:All kinds. All. All..and alll...my loves. All of them

18. I have to say I have a thing against butter tikka masala. The name of the dish? Both. I forget. It was created by the British. Fie Fie.

19. Bengali food is loverly. Kerala is God like. But the best is from the mountains of the north east. The smoke, the charring and the noodles. Scallion, garlic oil over boiled noodles. Darjeeling tea..and food at its rustic best

21. Mark Bittman, Rachel Ray and myself. We love the kitchen and we love to gab. And we love simplicity.

20. There is no job better than a food writer. Who travels. In spirit.

Happy eating ad healthy living.

Jun 4, 2011

Tortillitas-- A savory pancake. To wander or wonder?

When one thinks of Spain...is it Madrid..or Malaga that one thinks of?

I tend to think of a month of walking. You heard right. Walking through the back countries of Spain. Stopping only for the infinite variety of local food and the wine.  Always the Wine, Olives, home made cheese bread. Taverns and music. Summer Sun and the occasional thunder storm. 

Spain is the absolute best that the old world can offer..

uh uh uh...no arguments. We are just wandering or wondering..are we? :) 

Mark Bittman, of course gets to write about his journey. And I am afraid in not so romantic, terms but of course delightful no less.  And of all the recipes, he throws out, I tend to like this the most. 

Of course, Mr, Bittman, I quickly discovered, as always, this was a technique to quench the travel bug that hits us all the time. From nowhere and then vanishes into nowhere leaving us feeling hungry and a tad sad... Of course with Tortillitas, there is a solution to this bug. One can make this as Spanish, as Indian, as anywhere in the world the mind wants to wander or wonder about.
Here is my take on the savory pancakes. Not very Spanish,  I am afraid, but somewhat a mix of Sicilian with a hint of smokiness. For the very very original from Toscana Taverna (meaning Tuscan tavern) in Madrid,  please follow the above link :)

For a trip down Sicilian coastline, follow me. Or follow your heart if you are the occasional foodie adventurer


1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 a tsp of smoked paprika. You can use smoked Spanish paprika (pimmenton) or Hungarian Paprika.
2 cloves of garlic. Finely minced

1/3 cup chopped green onion or scallions
About 1/2 cup tinned sardine. Please use smoked ones in olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives, parsley, thyme or cilantro
1/2 tsp of orange zest
2-3 tbsf Olive oil.

1. In a bowl, combine flours and baking powder with salt and pepper. Add a little more than a cup of water and stir to combine; consistency should resemble pancake batter (if batter is too thick, add more water, a little at a time). Stir in the green onions, chopped sardines, zest, paprika, garlic and herbs.
2. Put a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and film its bottom generously with olive oil. When oil is hot, pour in half the batter until it fills center of pan; spread gently with a spoon to form a large pancake.
3. Cook about 3 minutes, or until pancake is set around edges; flip pancake and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, then flip it again and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until it is crisp on outside but still moist inside. Remove from pan and serve immediately, while remaining batter cooks.

And you have the magic tortolittas to take you to Sicily...or wherever your heart choses and yet fears to go?

Happy eating and healthy living!