Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bollywood Party Food

Recipes to come soon.....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Journey to India...(if only in my kitchen!)

While I have really enjoyed exploring my Nordic Roots through food this winter, the cold weather in Minnesota dragging on into spring has me longing for a warmer, sunnier climate.  Seeking inspiration, Tom Thulen, a Minnesota photographer, and I took a field trip to some local Middle Eastern and Indian markets.  It was kind of like a mini-vacation, and in Minneapolis, you don't have to go too far to find beautiful exotic food ingredients.  We first visited the Holyland Restaurant and Grocery where they have a lovely selection of produce not found in conventional grocery stores.  We found gorgeous fresh green almond, tiny tart apricots, fresh garbanzo beans in the pod, and perfect okra.  I started planning ways to enjoy these treasures.  We also found an amazing selection of spices, which is exactly what was needed to warm up a cold drizzly day.  Next stop was Little India for fresh curry leaves, which are essential to a tasty curry, and more spices.  I couldn't wait to turn on the oven and start cooking!

I love cooking Indian food, and have had wonderful instruction from my dear friend Nasreen, who showed me that there was so much more to Indian spice than curry powder.  Traditional Indian cooking, however, is very time consuming, and while it is great to have an entire day to slowly cook rich and fragrant dishes, I find that I seldom have that kind of time.  So, I wanted to be able to enjoy the aromatic spices and soulful flavors without spending hours stirring a pot.  Roasting veggies in the oven seemed definitely the way to go, and I have always loved roasting carrots, so why not try it with the addition of Indian spices?  Here's what I came up with...

Roasted Carrots with Ginger, Curry Leaves and Cumin
serves 4-6
1 bunch green top carrots, scrubbed but not peeled, green tops removed.
1 Tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
6 thin slices of fresh ginger root
10-12 fresh curry leaves
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
pinch of sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the carrots in half lengthwise.  Brush a baking sheet with the ghee, and add the carrots, ginger slices, curry leaves and cumin and toss to coat with the ghee.  Sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the oven, turning occasionally to roast the carrots evenly. Roast the carrots until they are tender.  You can check them by poking them with the tip of a knife.  Smaller carrots will roast in about 10 minutes, but larger carrots may take up to 25 minutes.  Serve warm.

I was so excited to find nice okra, I just had to buy it...and wanted to find a really great preparation that wouldn't leave it slimey, as okra can sometimes get.  So, I found a recipe online as a springboard for this dish...

Okra with Coconut and Cashews
serves 4-6

1/2 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/2" slices
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut, or unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground aleppo peppers
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
6-8 fresh curry leaves
pinch of sea salt
In a heavy skillet, heat the coconut oil and fry the okra quickly.  Remove to a separate dish, and then fry the coconut and cashew separately to toast, and add to the okra.  Pour out excess oil, leaving 1 tablespoon, and then add the spices.  The mustard seeds will begin to pop, (sounds a lot like popcorn!) .  Once they have popped, add the curry leaves, okra, cashews and coconut and stir.  Cook to warm through and season with salt.  Serve with a wedge of lime, if you like.  

I have always loved a good Aloo Gobi, but sometimes tending to a pot that needs stirring isn't possible for here is my version of a quick 'Aloo Gobi' roasted in the oven...

Oven Roasted Aloo Gobi with Green Garbanzo Beans
serves 4-6

6 fingerling potatoes, cut in half length-wise
2 cups Broccoli Romanesco, cut into florettes (okay, it looks like chartreuse green cauliflower....and the kind I found isn't quite as lovely as I might have wanted to, but our farmer's market has not opened yet!)
1 cup fresh shelled garbanzo beans or fresh shell peas
1 Tablespoon ghee
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
pinch of sea salt
1/2 fresh chopped cilantro
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a heavy baking sheet with ghee.  Add the potatoes and broccoli romanesco to the pan with the spices and toss to coat the veggies with spices.  Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, and when the potatoes are just tender, add the fresh garbanzos and roast for another 5 minutes.  Season with sea salt and serve with chopped fresh cilantro.  

Enjoy!  Here comes the sun!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Baking Bread for Comfort

Here in Minnesota we have had a very long winter...and when it's April 14th and still have snow in the forecast for the weekend, it's time to fire up the oven and bake some bread.  Carbs, schmarbs, I just want some comfort from the warmth of the oven!  In the interest in sharing the therapeutic qualities of baking bread, I mixed up a big batch of dough to bake some tasty Fennel Currant and Walnut bread for my photo crew this week at Fusebox studio.  Even those who were convinced they would never be able to bake bread because it sounds too complicated were converted.  The smell of bread warm from the oven is very convincing!  I started with inspiration from Zoe Francois' and Jeff Hertzberg's book 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' , which is a wonderful book, and also am singing the praises of their second book 'Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day'.  So, with those books as a creative spring board, here is the recipe I created for our studio snack....

Fennel Currant and Walnut Bread
Makes about 4 loaves

3 cups lukewarm water
1 -1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1- 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
4 -1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 -1/2 Tablespoons whole fennel seeds
1 cup dried currants
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
In a large mixing bowl mix the water with the yeast and salt.  Stir until dissolved.  Mix the flours together in a large bowl.  Using a wooden spoon or a dough hook, if using an electric mixer, stir in the flour, adding quickly and mix until almost all the flour is wet.  Add the fennel, currants and walnuts and continue to stir just until dough is mixed.  Do not knead.  Cover the bowl of dough with a plate, making sure that it's not too tightly sealed.  Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.  At this point, you can shape some of the dough and bake it, or just put the dough in the refrigerator and it can be stored refrigerated for up to two weeks.  With generously floured hands scoop up a ball of dough about the size of a grapefruit.  Shape it into a smooth ball, sealing the dough on the bottom of the ball and allow to proof on a semolina flour covered pizza peel or cutting board.  Cover the shaped dough with a towel or a bowl and allow to proof for 40 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and preheat a pizza stone placed on the center oven rack, and a baking sheet or broiler pan on the oven rack below it.  Allow the pizza stone and broiler pan to heat with the oven for at least 15 minutes.  When the dough is proofed, use a sharp knife or razor blade to make slashes in the top of the crust.  Shake the dough off of the pizza peel gently onto the heated pizza stone and add 1/2 cup water to the heated pan below.  Bake the bread for about 45-50 minutes.  Take the bread out of the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.  I know it's hard to wait, but the bread won't slice as well, so just be patient!
Enjoy everyone!  And thanks for the inspiration, Zoe and Jeff!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lefse is Beautiful

I have always felt proud of my Nordic roots, but am embarrassed to say that I have never actually made Lefse. I would love to have had the legacy of the old family recipe, passed through generations, but instead called up my friend Pegi Lee, and she shared with me a recipe with a legacy all its own. The recipe for Lefse is from Linka Holey, who shared it with Gean Neuman, and was then passed on to Pegi Lee who shared it with me. It's great to have a legacy of wonderful friendships!
It has been my goal in this blog to keep ingredients simple in all the recipes, and you couldn't get more basic than is simply potatoes, flour, salt and butter.

You start by boiling 3 pounds of russet potatoes whole in their skins. When they are just cooked, drain them, quickly peel them and push them through a potato ricer. This needs to be done when the potatoes are warm, because they are much harder to push through if cooled. You should have about 8 cups of riced potatoes. When you measure them, try not to pack the potatoes too firmly into the cup. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups all purpose flour. Stir together to make a smooth dough. Scoop into 1/4 cup sized balls, and chill dough balls overnight.
When you are ready to roll out the lefse, get ready for a whole lot of flour all over you, your kitchen and the kitchen floor! It's really helpful to have a canvas covered board for rolling, as well as a rolling pin sock on your rollingpin. You will want to have a bag of flour handy for frequent sprinkling of the dough to prevent sticking. Check the rolled out dough with your lefse stick starting at the center, to make sure it's not sticking to the board. When the lefse is nice and thin, lift it off the board with the lefse stick and roll it onto a heated lefse griddle or cast iron skillet. I wanted to be a little 'old school' on this part, as I really don't want to have any single purpose electric appliances, so searched out a great cast iron griddle that is round and fits over my stove top burners. I was very happy with how it worked!
Anyway, once you roll the lefse onto the griddle allow it to cook over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes on each side, and then flip over to cook the other side. While you are cooking the lefse arrange a stack of clean flour sack towels so that you can swaddle your lefse in it. You can get four pieces of lefse in each towel by folding the towel into quarters, making pockets for the lefse to lie. This keeps the lefse from sticking to each other. You can store the lefse in the folded tea towels in an airtight container for a few days at room temperature, but will want to refrigerate it if you need to store it longer.
If you want to warm it up, you can gently reheat it on a griddle, but this may dry it out.  If you have a bamboo steamer, you can warm the lefse, still swaddled in its tea towel, over slightly steaming water in the steamer.
To enjoy your lefse, you can simply spread with butter, roll up and eat.  A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is yummy, too!  And of course, pickled herring, gravlax, rullepolse, or lingoberry jam are all perfect companions for lefse.  I had a delicious 'Lefse Brat' at the State Fair this year that I found at the 'Sausage Sisters' booth in the food building....served with lingonberry ketchup....absolutely delicious!
Just goes to show you that there is no limit to creativity with lefse....Enjoy!

All the beautiful photos were taken by Tom Thulen of Tom Thulen Photography.  Thanks, Tom!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grapes with Goat Yoghurt and Brown Sugar

My mother used to make a very simple dessert she called 'Russian Grapes'. It was basically green grapes, sour cream and a sprinkle of brown sugar on top. Now, I'm not sure what makes that dish Russian, but I always really liked it. I had a Mexican friend who made a similar dessert with fresh strawberries, and topped them with the Mexican crema and sprinkled them with brown sugar. So, since I have a bunch of red grapes, and I just love goat yoghurt, I gave made an adaptation of this, and I am loving it! The easiest dessert ever....and simple, healthy and pretty. So, do you really need a recipe? Oh, and for those of you who ask me if I style my food when I'm at home cooking, these photos I took should answer that question. Hey, I just want to make some food that I like to eat! Enjoy!
(Okay, here's what I did, for those of you who want a recipe....
Grapes and Goat Yoghurt
serves 4
2 cups washed red grapes
1/2 cup plain goat yoghurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
Wash grapes and divide into 4 cups. Drizzle each cup with 2 Tablespoons goat yoghurt and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon brown sugar.)

Roasted Cauliflower with Walnuts, Orange zest and Parmesan

After talking about how much I love roasted cauliflower with a friend at work this week, I just had to make it and 'scratch that itch'. So, I made a pan of roasted cauiflower, and it was so delicious and soul-satisfying, that I just had to blog about here it is...

Roasted Cauliflower with Walnuts and Parmesan Cheese
serves 4

1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
zest of one orange
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons olive oil into an 8x8" baking dish and toss in the cauliflower, orange zest, walnuts and salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and then drizzle with remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. I could pretty much just eat the whole pan in one sitting, but it really is a great side dish for all kinds of things. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kale Chips...the latest, greatest thing!

Here is a recipe that has been my favorite thing all summer, and will help us enjoy our abundance of kale from our garden well into the fall! My friend Pegi Lee brought some of these tasty chips into the studio one day, and we all immediately fell in love with them...I mean, what's not to like about crispy, salty, and healthy chips! I have adapted the recipe a little, but really, it is so simple to do.
Here's how you do it....

Kale Chips
makes about 4 cups

1 healthy bunch kale (ruffled kale is the prettiest, but dinosaur kale, or other varieties work great, too. I even use the leaves of broccoli!)
1/3 cup Bragg Amino acids
1/4 cup Gemasio, or other sesame seed and salt rice seasoning
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Wash and dry the kale leaves, cut out the stem and cut into large 'chip' sized pieces. In a large bowl toss the kale pieces with Bragg's and then toss with the Gemasio. Arrange the kale chips in a single layer on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet. Place the chips in the oven to dehydrate for about 20-25 minutes, turning chips over halfway through the baking time. When the chips are crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat. Enjoy with 'Bloody Mary's' made from fresh garden tomatoes! To customize, try adding a dusting of wasabi powder, or some Japanese rice seasoning with Nori, Bonito flakes, and other tasty additions.
Thanks to Katie Holm for shooting the Kale chips and Bloody Mary's, and to Betsy Thayer for pulling awesome props....all thrift store finds! Thanks also for enjoying the drinks with me! Rod Komis shot the lovely kale still life shots...Thanks Rod!