Saturday, December 31, 2005

From my Rasoi: Warming Vegetable Paneer

Meena, from Hooked on Heat, has an idea for a new blogging event. It's called From my Rasoi and it celebrates homemade Indian food. This inaugural month, the theme is Winter.

I have always loved Indian food, but I've never made it at home. For some reason, it seemed too exotic, too full of flavors I don't normally use. And I'm not very good about following recipes to the letter, which I would have to do when making something so totally new. But seeing Meena's event announcement, I was convinced to search through Mom's Indian cookbooks and finally settled on a simple recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

However, since nothing ever goes according to plan, tonight we got home late from a Holiday Party, not quite in the mood for a real dinner and the Boy was out with his brother, who's in town for the weekend. So I raided the fridge, planning on making something simple, and came up with a packet of Paneer, Indian cheese. There was also some frozen spinach and already cut-up fresh broccoli left over from Christmas Eve. So I played around and came up with a variation on one of my favorite Indian dishes--Palak Paneer, but with broccoli. And I added judicious amounts of the various Indian spices I found on the spice rack. It came out delicious and warming--definitely something I would make again.

Warming Vegetable Paneer

2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1 package frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 head Broccoli, chopped
Water as needed
3-4 tablespoons Half and Half

Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Cumin, ground
pinch Black Mustard Seeds, ground
pinch Fenugreek, ground
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
2 canned Tomatoes, chopped + Liquid
1 package Paneer Cheese, Cubed

In a pot, heat Canola Oil over medium heat. Add Onion and saute until golden.

Add Spinach and Broccoli, cooking until Spinach turns into a paste and Broccoli is able to be cut with a fork. Stir frequently. Add Water and Tomato Liquid as necessary to cook the Broccoli. (Spinach gives off a lot of liquid whereas Broccoli sucks it up.) If necessary, cover the pot so the vegetables cook faster.

Add Half-and-Half, Garam Masala, Cumin, Fenugreek, Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, Salt and Tomatoes. Mix well, until everything is combined and Spinach has thickened and become truly pasty due to the addition of the Half-and-Half.

Add paneer. Mix everything again and adjust seasonings to taste. Cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and Salt as necessary. Add a splash of lemon juice if desired. Serve warm, preferably over Rice.

and and and and and and

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve

One December when I was a little girl, I was home sick in bed and Mom decided to read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol to me. As she read, I became entirely wrapped up in the story and, not surprisingly, the detailed descriptions of food. Finally, when Scrooge had seen the errors of his ways and everyone sat down to a fabulous meal, including Tiny Tim, I exclaimed, "I want a goose for Christmas this year!"

From then on, a goose on either Christmas or Christmas Eve became a tradition. Jewish, I still enjoyed commemorating the holiday and even when I questioned my own involvement in the Jewish community, or whether having a decorated Christmas tree (with no explicitly Christian decorations) was really a good idea, I always wanted our homemade, delicious, roast goose.

Last night, we had a quiet evening with Mom, Dad, my uncle Steven, my best friend Davey and his mother and Mom's best friend from high school, Arnie. The food was delicious, especially the plump, crisp Roast Goose. Enjoy reading the menu and allow me to extend my wishes for: "A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

And Happy Holidays!

Christmas Eve Menu

Platter of Assorted Cheeses, Olives and Crackers
Garlic Shrimp
Roast Goose with dried Apricots and Orange Peel
Steamed Broccoli
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate-Pecan Pie
Assorted Cookies

And to drink, we enjoyed:
Kir Royales, with Creme de Mure instead of the usual Creme de Cassis
A wonderful, slightly sparkling bottle of rose that Davey brought
A 2003 Chateau Peyfol Cotes de Castillon
Various Teas

and and and and and and and and

Thursday, December 22, 2005

1-L Tort(e)

Since the Boy finished his first set of law school exams, I wanted to do something special for him his first morning of freedom. Since his hardest exam was Torts, what better reward than a 1-L Tort(e)--a torte with one "L" ingredient.

Some research into what defines a torte (the E is for the food) came up with different definitions. Finally, though, Joy of Cooking came to my rescue, saying a torte was a circular cake. Perfect! I would just bake my 1-L Torte in a circular pan. Now for the ingredients...

I finally decided to make a savory torte with lots of eggs (kind of like a crustless quiche) so we could have it for brunch. I decided on a Leek, Goat Cheese and Cream Torte and it came out wonderfully. I'll be sure to make this again as it was easy and light. Unfortunately, the recipe is approximate as I potchked quite a bit while I cooked.

1-L Tort(e)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
4 Leeks, dark green stems removed, white and light green bulbs coarsely chopped
pinch Coriander Seeds
Salt to taste
2 Eggs

3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup fresh Goat Cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 stalks Parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat Olive Oil in skillet over medium heat and saute Garlic until golden. Add Leeks and saute, stirring, until soft enough to cut with a spatula. Season with Coriander Seeds and Salt to taste. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a medium metal bowl, beat Eggs and Cream until well-combined. Butter 9-inch round pie pan and spread Leek mixture evenly over bottom. Don't worry if there are a few holes. Crumble Goat Cheese over Leeks, spreading it around as much as possible. Pour Eggs and Cream on top, shaking the pan slightly if necessary in order for the Eggs to fill any holes remaining. Sprinkle with Oregano and Parsley.

Bake for 30 minutes until cooked through and golden. Serve warm.

and and and and

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Yesterday, the Boy had his last exam for the semester. We had discussed going out all night, really celebrating in style, but there is a transit strike going on, so going far away was completely out of the question. Instead, we took the opportunity to find a simple, easygoing, affordable restaurant near home.

After reading aloud a panoply of restaurant reviews, we finally settled on Danal, a French restaurant in the East Village. However, their kitchen closes at 10 pm, so, at 9:30 we rushed over.

Apparently, there was no need to rush. When we arrived, at 9:50, we nervously asked the maitre d' if it was too late to eat. He glanced at his watch and told us we were fine; we just had to hurry. We peeled off our layers and were seated comfortably at a table for four. Glancing around, there were two other tables, one enjoying a bottle of wine and the other finishing up dessert. At least it wasn't empty!

We were brought hand-written menus in red leather picture frames. The menu changes daily, so there is only a small assortment of dishes. However, the dishes are very varied (though mostly French influenced), with risotto, meat and fish all offered as well as several appetizer salads.

Danal itself is a cozy, comfortable restaurant. The chairs don't match the wooden tables (no tablecloths) and there are long wooden benches covered with pillows along the side. It is well-lit and the service was perfect--charming, but not overbearing.

As we began looking at the menu, the maitre d' walked over, smiling. "You don't actually have to worry. I was just teasing," he told us.

We were still ready to order as our waiter came over. We also requested a bottle of Cotes de Rhone, my favorite kind of red wine. It was a Jean-Luc Colombo 2003 Les Abeilles and was absolutely superb. Perfectly warming after the freezing air outside and slightly spicy without food, though it mellowed once we ate and complemented all our dishes.

The waiter also set down a wire basket of what tasted like Homemade Bread--multi-grain and rye, as well as a little pot of delicious butter. We were both starving, so we ate a fair amount of both breads as well as some butter. The breads also proved perfect for sopping up our sauces later on in the meal.

To start, the Boy had an earthenware bowl of French Onion Soup. The soup was piping hot and filled with perfectly caramelized onions. The broth too was quite tasty. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough cheese for his tastes. The Onions were really the main attraction of the soup, and well worth it.

I began with Mussels, cooked in a white wine and cream sauce with, you guessed it, lots of onions. The Mussels were plump and sweet and married wonderfully with the sauce. It was also quite a big serving of Mussels--unfortunately uncommon in the States. The sauce was so good, I almost wanted to drink it like soup, though I contented myself to soaking it up with the bread.

For his main, the Boy had a Skirt Steak with Bearnaise Sauce and Fries. I was slightly surprised by his order since he normally does not like Bearnaise on his meat. However, the sauce was wonderful--deliciously vinegary and not too sweet. It was even better on the Fries than on the Steak! The Steak itself was very simple, letting the flavor of the meat shine through. Ordered rare, it was perfectly saignant, in true French fashion.

My main was Pan-Roasted Cod Wrapped in Bacon, with Caramelized Pearl Onions and Spinach Souffle. The Cod was tender and delicate, with the Bacon lending a smoky rather than overly salty flavor. The Onions were, once again, delightful, Pearl Onions being naturally sweet and even more so once caramelized. But the best part of all was the Spinach Souffle. The Boy said it was the best Spinach he had ever had and it certainly was up there--think the lightest Creamed Spinach imaginable. Truly superb.

Surprisingly enough, we still managed to have room to share a dessert. Not wanting anything too heavy, we opted for a Cranberry-Apple Cobbler, not too sweet and very tangy due to the Cranberry. It was served warm with a small dollop of homemade Whipped Cream on top. The Cream was ever so slightly sweet, beautifully rounding out the dish.

This was a delightful, comfortable evening and a great discovery of a restaurant to which we shall certainly return.

90 East 10th Street
New York, NY
(212) 982-6939

and and and and

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blog Appetit #6: Champignons farcis de memoires

Today is the sixth edition of Blog Appetit with a theme of Emotion Champignons--mushrooms and an emotion. Normally, Blog Appetit offers bloggers two ingredients out of which they must prepare a dish. But today this second ingredient is a feeling. Since Blog Appetit is a French blogging extravaganza, the rest of this entry will be in French.

Emotion Champignons. Comment est-ce qu'une emotion peut etre un ingredient dans une recette avec des champignons? me suis-je demande. Je peux tres facilement dire que l'emotion, c'est perdue, car je suis tout a fait perdue par ce nouvel "ingredient," mais ca serait tricher et je ne veux pas le faire. Non; il me faudra trouver une emotion qui joue bien avec des champignons. Mais laquelle?

Premierement, j'ai pense a un ingredient qui nous fait toujours penser a une certaine emotion, un aphrodisiaque. Je pouvais creer une recette avec des champignons et des huitres, par exemple, et l'appeler "Les champignons d'amour," ou quelque chose comme ca. Mais, pour une raison ou une autre, cela ne m'interressait pas.

Finalement, j'ai songe a mes experiences personelles avec des champignons. Au lycee, mon meilleur ami, Davey (qui m'a rendu visite a Paris au printemps) est moi avait l'habitude de donner des diners pour nos amis. Un jour, un ami me disait: "Tu sais, je viens de decouvrir que j'aime bien des champignons. Tu peux faire un diner aux champignons?"

J'ai repete la demande a Davey est nous avons songe a un Diner de Champignons. On a commence par des pates avec des champignons, puis des filets de boeuf avec une sauce de champignons. Et pour le dessert? Des truffes (de chocolat)! C'etait vraiment delicieux.

Malheureusement, Davey et moi ne font pas des diners depuis quelques annees car il habite a New York et moi non. Mais j'y suis pour quelques semaines, donc nous avons decide de faire a moins un. On en parlera plus.

Alors ces champignons sont une nouvelle recette que je n'ai jamais cuisine avec Davey. Neanmoins, ils etaient delicieux et Davey les adorera, j'en suis sur. Je les ai farcie avec de l'orge pour continuer ce theme des memoires. L'orge me fait toujours penser a la cuisine juive de ma mere et de mon grand-pere. Donc, les voila!

Champignons farcis de memoires

20 Champignons creminis
4 tranches de Bacon de dinde, coupe en des
1 Onion, emince
4 gousses d'Ail, hachees
1 tasse de Sauce tomate
3 tasses d'orge cuit
1/4 cuillere a cafe d'origan sec
1/4 cuillere a cafe de sel de celeri
Sel et Poivre a gouter

Prechauffer le four a 350 F. Laver bien les Champignons. Separer les tiges des tetes des Champignons. Couper en des les tiges et les mettre a cote. Dans une poele, cuire le Bacon, l'Onion, l'Ail et les tiges de Champignons a feu moyen jusqu'a ce que le Bacon et cuit et l'Onion doux. Ajouter la Sauce tomate, l'Orge, l'Origan, le Sel de celeri, le Sel et le Poivre. Les melanger bien. Mettre le melange d'Orge dans les tetes des Champignons. Placer les Champignons sur un plat allant au four, prealablement lubrifie avec de l'huile d'olive. Cuire pour 20-25 minutes.

and and and and and

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poisson vietnamien aux capres

After a full day of Holiday Shopping at the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal, we stopped off at the food shops of Grand Central Market downstairs to buy some dinner. The fish at Pescatore Seafood Company was so spectacular we couldn't bear to return home without any. Also, the Boy had his third law school exam the next day, so I wanted him to have some brain food--fish! The most attractive fillets were actually from a kind of fish I had never heard of: Vietnamese Basa.

Once home, a brief search online showed that it is a Vietnamese relative to catfish with a mild flavor and firm texture. Not wanting to cover up this flavor, I decided to bake it with simple seasonings. Using Culinary Artistry for inspiration, I chose capers as the main complement. Et voila! A delicious fish with seasonings that really made it shine.

Poisson Vietnamine aux capres

4 fillets of Basa
Olive Oil to grease pan
8 Capers in Oil
4 cloves Garlic
pinch Allspice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lemon and Dill for serving

Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Place Basa fillets in greased pan. Place 1 Caper on each fillet, then flip fillets and place a Caper on the other side. Do the same with each 1/2 clove of Garlic and with the Allspice, Salt and Pepper. Bake until meat flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes. Serve with Lemon Juice and a sprig of Dill.

and and and and

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pudding au pain de gingembre confit, avec une sauce luxueuse de chocolat

Laurent, from, is holding a chocolate contest and offering up prizes--copies of Pierre Herme's new patisserie book, Ph 10. Since Laurent's is a French blog, this post will be in French.

Comme vous savez, je ne suis pas exactement grande patissiere. Et Maman, avec qui je suis maintenant, rentree a New York, n'aime pas de tout le chocolat. Alors, un concours sur les recettes de chocolat--je n'etais pas exactement ravie.

Neanmoins, j'ai commence a y penser et j'ai decide de faire la sauce de chocolat la plus luxueuse possible. Apres avoir fait la sauce, on avait besoin de quelque chose pour mettre dessous. J'ai voulu faire quelque chose de doux, alors j'ai pense a une creme. Finalement, j'avais du vieux challah, donc j'ai decide de faire un Pudding au pain. Apres avoir consulte mon nouveau livre favori, Culinary Artistry, j'ai vu que le chocolat fait un tres joli mariage avec le gingembre. Alors j'ai decide de faire un Pudding au pain avec des petites pieces de gingembre confit. C'etait vraiment facile et le Pudding etait delicieux chaud ou froid, avec la sauce au chocolat, nature, ou avec un peu de lait.

Et la sauce, vous demandez? C'est formidable! Ca a presque la texture du velours, si on pouvait manger du velours. Il nous reste toujours beaucoup, beaucoup de la sauce, mais Papa avait dit que c'etait la meilleure sauce a chocolat qu'il n'a jamais goute. On imagine la savorer sur la glace et on va l'essayer dans un Egg Cream. Je vous dirai, bien sur, comment ca se passe...

Pudding au pain de gingembre confit et Sauce luxueuse de chocolat


4 oz. de Poudre de cacao
2 tasses de Sucre blanc
1/8 cuillere a cafe de Sel
1/8 tasse de Sirop d'erable
1/2 + 1/8 tasse d'un Sirop simple (1 part eau, 2 parts sucre, cuits ensemble pour environ 5 minutes)
2 1/4 tasses d'eau

Dans une boule, melanger la Poudre de caco, le Sucre blanc et le Sel jusqu'a ce qu'on ne peut pas les differencier, l'un de l'autre. Mettez-les dans une grande cocotte hors feu. Ca doit etre vraiment une tres grande cocotte car la sauce aggrandit enormement.

Ajoutez les ingredients liquides, l'un apres l'autre: le Sirop d'erable et puis le Sirop simple. Melangez completement le tout.

Ajoutez lentement l'eau. Mettez la cocotte sur feu jusqu'a ce que ca commence a bouillir. Reduire le feu le plus possible sans perdre la bouillie. Continuez a le remuer assez frequemment. Laissez-le cuire pour 9-10 minutes.

Et voila! Vous pouvez tres bien garder la sauce dans le frigo pour pas mal de temps. Ca fait environ 900 g de Sauce.

Pudding au pain

3/4 d'un pain Challah, coupe en des et sans croutes
3/4 tasse de Gingembre confit
4 Oeufs
3/4 tasse de Sucre
1 cuillere a cafe de Vanille
1 cuillere a cafe de Cannelle
1/2 cuillere a cafe de Gingembre
1/8 cuillere a cafe de Muscade
3 tasses de Lait entier
Sauce au chocolat

Mettez le Challah dans un moule a gateaux pour que ca couvre tout le fond du moule dans une couche. Couvrez le Challah avec le Gingembre.

Dans une boule, fouettez ensemble les Oeufs, le Sucre, la Vanille, la Cannelle, le Gingembre, le Muscade et le Lait. Versez-le sur le Challah et laissez-le rester pour 30 minutes, appuyant sur le de temps en temps avec une spatule pour que le Challah absorbe bien le melange.

Mettez le four a 350 F. Cuisez le Pudding au four pour 1 1/4 heures jusqu'a ce que ca soit ferme au milieu. Mangez-le chaud ou froid, nature, avec la Sauce au chocolat ou avec du Lait entier.

and and and and and and

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ravioli d'epinards et de ricotta

There are some nights, especially during the winter, when all you want is a big bowl of comforting pasta. I'm back in New York for a month, so I finally have a right to complain about the cold. The Boy is in the midst of his first set of law school exams, so the house has been very quiet, leaving him space to study and me to catch up on reading cookbooks and to do some research on Proust as well.

On Monday, the Boy reached the halfway mark in his exams and wanted to go out for a nice meal, which we haven't yet been able to do. We picked a
restaurant and were all set to go, but, after having had some mediocre chopped liver for lunch, I wasn't really feeling up to it. What I really wanted was a nice bowl of spinach ravioli with melted butter--nothing fancy, not too heavy and with vegetables, which I've been craving.

So the Boy braved the cold to go out to Whole Foods and returned with two different kinds of ravioli: Spinach and Ricotta from Raffetto's and Double Spinach from a company I'd never had before. Raffetto's fresh pasta is famous in the city. It's a little Italian goods store on Houston Street that really deserves its own post. Their pasta is made with all good ingredients and always tastes exactly like the flavor it promises. For instance, the Spinach-Ricotta really had the flavor of both and the Ravioli outside was fantastic as well. The Double Spinach were also good, though the Boy preferred Raffetto's. First of all, they were huge! And green! Unfortunately, though, the Spinach filling wasn't as tasty as I might have hoped. It needed just a little bit of Olive Oil or Pepper.

We boiled these in Salted Water for about 8 minutes, then tossed them with two knobs of Butter and several pinches of Salt and Fennel Seeds. The Fennel Seeds were my surprised ingredient at the end and they were delicious! They really made the pasta taste refreshing. All in all, a perfectly comforting meal.

Whole Foods Market
4 Union Square South
New York, NY 10003

and and and and

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Asian Persuasion: Darvish Restaurant

One of the ladies I live with, Miss Julie, is sick. It's nothing serious, just that time of year. But her throat hurts and nothing looks especially appetizing. So I suggested we three go out for dinner and Sunday night and find some nice, homemade soup for our patient. I also casually mentioned that it would be great if we could go somewhere Asian since Sarah's theme this month for Dine & Dish is Asian Persuasian.

After searching online and taking into account our various restrictions (nothing too expensive, nothing carb heavy for Miss Julie or fish-heavy for Miss Jess), we opted for Persian food, which none of us had ever had.

If, for some reason, you are lacking in geographical education, Iran (formerly Persia) is in fact in Asia, although I admit Persian food was not what I first thought of when I saw Sarah's Dine & Dish theme.

No matter. Darvish Restaurant, in Claremont, CA fit all our requirements and was where we went.

Because Miss Julie had dragged herself out of bed to come to dinner, we didn't want to order appetizers and make her stay longer than necessary. While looking over the menu we all stuck with ice water, since the beer selection comprised Bud and Heineken and the ones were all normal, unexciting California ones. After we had ordered, though, Miss Julie and I each got a glass of tea which was quite nice.

The menu consists of several pages and has long explanations and pictures of each dish. Many are variations on a theme (all different kinds of kebabs), but the menu is nicely laid out and accessible, especially if you have never had Persian food before.

Miss Julie finally decided not to order soup and instead chose the Kabob Barg, Filet Mignon skewered and charbroiled, served on a bed of fluffy Basmati Rice with Saffron and grilled Tomatoes. The meat was well-cooked and tender. It had been marinated in a delicious, slightly musky, slightly spicy dry rub which really separated it from any other Filet Mignon.

Miss Jess was most intrigued by a stew, Fesenjoon. This was by far the most exotic dish we'd ordered, a "delicious cooked mixture of Walnuts in Pomegranate Sauce and Chicken breast served with Basmati Rice," according to the menu. It was a lot of very strong flavors and could not be really enjoyed without the rice. The Walnuts proved the most prominent flavor, which was unexpected but rather a nice change.

Finally, I opted for the Adas Polo with Koobideh, Rice made with Raisins, Lentils and Dates and seasoned with Saffron, served with one skewer of Koobideh, either Chicken or Beef. Being such a meat-eater, I went for the beef Koobideh. The meat was treated with a similar dry rub to Miss Julie's filet mignon and was tender and equally tasty. The rice, too, was delicious. The Basmati rice was quite fluffy and the addition of Lentils and Raisins made it much more flavorful, especially since I'm not the biggest fan of rice. The dates were a little too sweet in general, since they were cut in such big chunks. Nevertheless, it really was a good dish.

All in all, this was a very good meal. The dishes were huge, so none of us finished our food (of course, Miss Julie also didn't touch her rice), though that was no reflection on its preparation. Will we go back? Very possibly, at least next time we want something a little "different."

Darvish Restaurant
946 W. Foothill Blvd.
Claremont, CA

Update: Sarah's given us a beautiful write-up of all our Asian meals! Go check it out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My Blog Went Up in Flames!: Des photos embarrassantes

Rachael, from Fresh Approach Cooking, has an idea for a new meme. Called My Blog Went Up in Flames!, she's asking for our worst pictures. No one, not even the most flattering person on earth trying to butter me up for goodness knows what favor, would say that I'm a great photographer. But I usually take several pictures of my dishes, in hopes that one of them will at least show something about the dish.

The above photo is from when I was still living in Paris. The Boy was in the States, it was summer, and I was getting into reading food blogs. So I found this recipe for Duck with Quatres Epices and Coriander Seeds on Mijo's Je Mijote and made it for myself. It was delicious but I was still getting used to my new camera, so even the final picture I used is not exactly fantastic.

Looking through my old pictures, I did find a couple of "runners-up" for embarrasing photos. The one on the left is of the omelette makers vigorously beating eggs at La mere Poulard in Brittany. They were moving so quickly it was absolutely impossible to take an acceptable photo. And finally, on the right, is a picture of a delicious bowl of Spaghetti with Clams I made myself only a few short months ago in San Francisco. Again--very blurry. I believe I took this one in a poorly lit kitchen, but didn't want to use my flash as I was afraid that would change the vibrant color of my fresh tomato sauce.

Well, here's to better photos in the future!