Baked Chole

I’m a big fan of baking. Great taste, minimal clean-up. This is a recipe that my mother in-law makes often. Given that we learned this recipe over a year ago, it’s clearly long overdue.

Anyway – hope you enjoy. This is something you can make ahead of time and plow through the course of a week. The combination of flavors in this recipe is bold and amazing.

 

P.S. Apologies for not updating this blog – life has gotten very busy!

Recipe

Serving Size (2-4 people)

Estimated time: 2 hours (30 minutes prep, 1.5 hours cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 2 19 oz cans of of garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ¼ cup ginger
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons garam masala (home made)
  • 1 tablespoon Punjabi chole (chana) masala powder
  • 2 tablespoons amchoor powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

What You’ll Need:

  • medium mixing bowl
  • casserole or baking pan

Directions:

  1. Slice vegetables – red onion, tomatoes, ginger, jalapenos – into thin strips 2-3” long. Mix and set aside in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all spices – salt, garam masala, chole masala, amchoor powder, red pepper – and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pot on medium/high heat. Add cumin seeds and toast for a few minutes
  4. Add rinsed chickpeas to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (lower heat if you notice the chickpeas to be burning)
  5. Spray oven roasting pan with PAM
  6. Prepare an assembly line of chickpeas, spices and vegetables to begin layering
  7. Create at least 2 layers in following order: chickpeas, spices, vegetables, spices – create 2-4 of these layers (depending on the dimensions of your pot).
  8. Cut butter into small pieces and place butter on top of chickpea mixture
  9. Cover with foil and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour
  10. Preheat oven to 375 F
  11. Bake chickpeas for 1 hours, covered
  12. Remove aluminum foil, lower to 350 F and cook for another 20 minutes

Grilled Vegetable Salad

This recipe is a replica of a meal I recently had at a restaurant down in West Palm Beach, FL.

I found myself down in FL this past week for an impromptu getaway. A recent job switch provided me with a rare opportunity to have some time off in between jobs and it just so happened that a friend of mine had decided to extend a bachelor party into a golf trip.  Invitation at hand, it didn’t take long for me to book that flight.

The first day I arrived – after a long day of golfing in the Floridian sun – we grabbed dinner across the street from our hotel at a swanky restaurant that was all but deserted (must be the ‘off-season’). Having spent the day in the grueling sun, my appetite was MIA. I wanted something light yet fulfilling. Upon the waitress’ recommendation, I went with the Grilled Vegetable Salad which hit the spot. I loved everything about it – the crunchy texture of the asparagus, smooth avocado and pop of color from the tomatoes. All on a bed of lettuce that was more of a prop than an ingredient. Best part about this salad was that it was COLD! The veggies were cooked but cooled down – this further accentuated the light and healthy nature of the dish.

Recipe

Serving Size (2 people)

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 piece of squash or zucchini
  • 4 large leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup of corn
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper

What You’ll Need:

  1. grill, wok or pan

Directions:

  1. since I don’t have an outdoor grill, I cooked my veggies indoors on a stove top using a cast iron pan. simply cut the squash into 1/2″ cubes and asparagus into 1″ strips. cook the veggies in a pan for about 3-5 minutes, adding the corn in at the end (2-3 minutes after the other veggies). you can either use fresh corn on the cob (just cut the corn off the cob first) or frozen. make sure to season the veggies along the way with salt & pepper
  2. meanwhile, cube tomatoes into 1/2″ pieces, making sure to discard the inside of the tomatoes. cube the avocado into 1/2″ pieces, too
  3. once the veggies are done cooking, transfer them into a bowl. immediately place the bowl into an ice bath (i.e. larger bowl filled with ice) to cool veggies to room temp
  4. once grilled veggies are cooled, mix them together with tomatoes and avocado
  5. season with salt / pepper and dress with a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon or lime and a splash (1-2 teaspoons) of red wine vinegar
  6. mix and serve on a bed of lettuce (2 pieces per serving)

French Macarons

Our recent trip to Paris introduced me to one of the sweetest delicacies I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating – French macarons. These are not to be mistaken with (coconut based) macaroons, which too are delicious but a completely different beast.

I didn’t actually come across these ornate treats until our second day in the City of Lights when we walked up Champs Elysees and discovered a cool boutique Parisian cafe called Laduree (which, as I quickly  realized, is world renown).

The irony in my latest food obsession is the fact that I didn’t even care to try them at first. Tania was hungry and got herself a croissant at Laduree. I was in the mood for something different and opted for a box of 8 macarons (which are NOT cheap!). Expecting a stale shelled pastry, I was pleasantly surprised by the complexion and texture of these macarons. A firm outer shell followed by a smooth and sweet interior and cool and firm filling…mmmmmmm.

Upon landing back in the US, the challenge was on – I was determined to replicate the Laduree’s Parisian macarons! Worst case, if my attempts failed, I had an alternate plan of buying them at the recently opened Laduree store on the Upper East Side (for $3 per piece!).

After days of research and a few attempts, I am here to share the best technique for macaron making. As it turned out, macarons are difficult to make and temperamental if you don’t follow the right directions. One wrong move and you’re done.

The internet is an amazing resource but also filled with ALOT of information. In all of my research, I found the following three sites to be the best resources in macaron making: FoodNouveau, Tartlette, and Not So Humble Pie.

Recipe

Serving Size (40-50 cookies)

Estimated time: 1 hours

Ingredients:

  • 100g egg whites (aged 24 hours) – this measurement comes out to 2-3 eggs
  • 30g sugar
  • 5g dehydrated egg white powder
  • 125g almond meal/flour
  • 220g powdered sugar (high quality)

What You’ll Need:

  • scale
  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • hand or stand mixer
  • mixing bowls
  • sifter / mesh sieve
  • pastry piping bag and round tip

Directions:

  1. divide eggs, cover in plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature overnight
  2. next day, measure out all ingredients using a scale
  3. prepare 2 baking sheets covered in parchment paper
  4. sift almond meal and powdered sugar into a new bowl
  5. combine granulated sugar with dehydrated egg whites into one bowl
  6. begin preparing merengue: on medium speed, mix (using mixer) egg whites until foamy
  7. begin to add granulated sugar/dehydrated egg mixture to the egg whites
  8. once mixture is fully integrated, turn up the speed to high and whip until soft peaks are achieved. this will take 3-5 minutes. don’t over mix…you don’t want the peaks to become too firm. your base / meringue is ready
  9. if you plan on adding liquid food coloring, this is the time to do it – drop a few drops into meringue (whipped egg whites) and fold to incorporate
  10. now it’s time to make the batter – pour 1/4 of almond/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold to incorporate using a rubber spatula. the motion should be gentle enough not to deflate the whipped egg whites
  11. continue folding in the rest of the almond / sugar mixture until complete. fold until everything is fully incorporated but do not over mix
  12. pre-heat oven to 290 F
  13. prepare a pastry piping bag with a standard large/round tip and pour batter into the bag
  14. pipe 1-2″ rounds onto pre-lined baking sheets. keep in mind that macarons will expand as the settle
  15. when done, bang sheets flat against counter a few times to help aerate the macarons
  16. let sit for 20-30 minutes. you will know they are ready when they are dry to a gentle touch of your finger
  17. bake in oven for 14-16 minutes. at 14 minutes, monitor closely to make sure they don’t start getting brown edges
  18. once cooked, the macarons should peel off easily in one piece. if they do not, try cooking them for an extra minute at a time
  19. cool macarons on a cooling rack
  20. fill with your favorite filling – i like to use nutella (when lazy) or vanilla buttercream (when motivated). store overnight in fridge in an airtight ziplock bag to allow flavors to marry before serving

Tips:

  • use a scale and make sure to have everything measured out before you start working
  • whipping the merengue is a delicate art – you don’t want the egg whites runny but you also don’t want to over beat. this will take practice…worst case you over whip and the macarons may become slightly hollow
  • food coloring: macarons are known for their exotic colors. i’ve yet to really experiment with color, mainly because of its  toxic and artificial nature. macarons’ natural color is off-white. in the images above, i dropped (only a few drops) of liquid chlorophyll into the meringue to make it green. all natural coloring, you can get chlorophyll at Whole Foods or a healthy foods store.
  • folding dry ingredients into merengue is also a delicate balance. see this video on how to fold properly
  • once batter is ready, you need to move very quickly with the piping process before it dries out
  • to get perfectly round macarons, you can print out templates and place beneath the parchment paper. make sure you remove them before baking!
  • when piping macarons, the trick i find is to apply downward pressure (straight down at 90 degrees) to release batter, make a circle, and then simultaneously release pressure and quickly yank the tip away
  • the perfect macaron will have the following properties: flat outer surface, well-defined feet and a dense (not hollow) inner layer

No Knead Pizza Dough

It’s time for another pizza recipe.

Discovering how to make homemade pizza is one of those enlightening moments in life. I made my first pie a few years ago and have been experimenting with new versions ever since. To some, making pizza at home is nothing more than buying dough at a local pizzeria (or the supermarket) and dressing it with your own set of toppings.  I call that cheating :)  Gotta make the dough yourself!  Besides…that’s the most fun and fulfilling part!

One of the first posts to this blog, back in the day, was a pizza dough recipe that I often use.  Well it’s time for a new one. This recipe comes from a recent issue of Bon Appetite. It’s a no knead pizza dough by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in NY.  The key ingredient in this recipe is TIME. Unlike other dough recipes out there, this one calls for very little yeast (and obviously, no kneading). The trick to this dough an extra long (18 hour) fermentation process. The result is a very light, rustic dough that will amaze you!

Recipe

Serving Size (three 10″ pizzas)

Estimated time: 20 hours (1 hour active, 19 hours inactive)

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • small can plain tomato sauce
  • your choice of spices (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil)
  • your choice of  toppings (I used mozzarella, sopresatta and arugula in this recipe)

What You’ll Need:

  • medium mixing bowl
  • pizza peel
  • pizza stone

Dough Directions {steps 1-9 follow sequence of images above}:

  1. mix dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. slowly add water while stirring with a wooden spoon
  2. use your hands to create the dough into a rough ball (do not knead). add a slight bit of more flour or water, if the dough is too dry or wet
  3. move dough into a clean mixing bowl (or clean one you just used) and cover with saran wrap. let sit at room temperature for 18 hours
  4. the dough will rise fully after 18 hours. spill dough onto a well floured surface and divide, using a dough cutter or butter knife, into 3 equal pieces
  5. for each piece of dough – shape into a rough square, fold 4 corners into the middle, flip over in your hands and gently (without squeezing air out of the dough) create dough into a round ball by pulling surface of dough from in to out (and under)
  6. place doughs on a PAM sprayed surface. gently spray doughs and cover them with saran wrap. let sit for another 1-2 hours
  7. dough will rise again
  8. at this point, you can either use the dough immediately or store them for later use. if storing, place each individual dough into a large ziplock bag (do not seal completely). pour some oil in and move dough around to keep it from sticking
  9. if storing for later use – when ready to use dough, remove from refrigerator and place it on the kitchen counter covered with saran wrap for 1 hour (for another rise…similar to step 6 above). if frozen, leave on countertop (covered) for several hours until dough has risen
  10. generously sprinkle cornmeal onto a pizza peel to prevent dough from sticking. alternatively, you can use parchment paper and spray it with PAM
  11. use your knuckles to gently stretch the dough out. once expanded, place onto the peel and stretch the outsides using your fingertips. this will take practice and requires feel more than anything.

Pizza Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 500F (let oven stay at this temp for 30-60 minutes to make it very hot)
  2. carefully pour tomato sauce onto pizza. use a spoon to evenly spread it out. don’t over sauce the pie!
  3. sprinkle with spices of your choice
  4. add toppings
  5. cook in oven from 8-11 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is melted

Tips:

  • I like to make a batch of several dough rounds (this recipe calls for 3). I’ll typically freeze one or two for later use (within a month)

Spaghetti with Ramps

Your secret ingredient is…RAMPS.

That was the thought that entered my mind yesterday afternoon. We were deep in heart of Jersey at a venue called Ninety Acres Culinary Center in Far Hills, NJ. Picture a huge estate with endless rolling hills and a beautiful brick cottage at the top of a long, windy hill. That’s where we were when we met Ben and Jared, two prospective partners in our latest business venture. Ben, a devoted foodie, was generous enough to gift us a freshly picked batch of ‘ramps’ from his garden.

I accepted the friendly gesture without having a clue how to actually prepare them! That said, I was totally up for the challenge. I imagined myself on the set of Chopped or Iron Chef, being introduced to a secret ingredient.

After scouring the internet, I decided to incorporate them into one of Mario Batali‘s spaghetti dishes . I’ve been making a lot of pasta lately and loved the idea of introducing ramps into a dish I knew would taste good. As part of the recipe, I separated the ramps into root bulbs and leaves (discarding the stems). I ended up with an herbal root similar to garlic/onion/shallot and a leafy vegetable that resembles spinach in consistency.

The end-result was delicious! In stepping up to the challenge, I educated myself on ramps and successfully incorporated a completely new, seasonal ingredient into a great recipe.

ramps - separated into chopped root and leaves

sautéed with olive oil and red pepper flakes

Recipe

Serving Size (2 people)

Estimated time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • batch of ramps (around 10 pieces)
  • 1/2 box of spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon bread crumbs
  • kosher salt to taste

What You’ll Need:

  1. medium pot with lid
  2. large frying pan
  3. salad spinner (optional)

Directions:

  1. cut root bulbs off of ramps. using your hands, remove the loose layer of skin from the bulbs and wash them
  2. cut ramps leaves off of stems, wash/dry them (I used a salad spinner to dry the leaves) and cut them in half (lengthwise)
  3. finely dice ramp bulbs (like you would garlic)
  4. fill medium pot 2/3 with water and add a tablespoon of salt. cover the pot and bring to a boil
  5. once boiling, add pasta and cook for 9-10 minutes until al-dente (test a strand of pasta near the end for doneness)
  6. after 5 minutes of cooking, heat olive oil in a separate frying pan (low-medium heat)
  7. add diced ram roots to the pan and cook for a few minutes until tender
  8. add a teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes to the pan and stir
  9. once pasta is 1 minutes away from completion, add ramp leaves to the frying pan and allow them to wilt
  10. once pasta is complete, use tongs to remove pasta from the pot and into the frying pan
  11. raise frying pan temperature to medium/high and cook or 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are incorporated
  12. mix in breadcrumbs and serve
  13. drizzle olive oil over the plated pasta

Freshly Sliced Pineapple

I’m here to share a fun new gadget I recently discovered. It makes cutting pineapples easy and it’s called a pineapple corer.

I know…I’m probably late to the party, but hear me out. Despite my growing passion for cooking, I am a self-admited utensil snob. I consider most shiny new gadgets to be nothing both clutter. My first preference is to always get my hands dirty and prepare food the old fashion way, relying on only a few vital utensils. You may think I’m crazy, but I’m not even a fan of the dishwasher!  No pain no gain, right?

My brother and Allie recently got me a bunch of stuff from William-Sonoma. One of the items in the gift set was an avocado cuber. The thought was great, but I’ve been cubing avocados with a basic knife for years and could not find the space in my kitchen or mental will to accept this gift. Call me stubborn, but I had to return it. While on line at the register, I saw a pineapple corer and decided to give it a shot since my existing pineapple cutting experience far from pleasant. The results were great. The process was mess-free and allowed me to cut full slices (rather than small cubes using my old method).

Directions:

  1. cut off the top of a pineapple
  2. place pineapple in a bowl
  3. press corer into the pineapple and turn clockwise while applying firm pressure
  4. turn until you reach the bottom. you will feel the resistance
  5. unscrew the corer by turning router clockwise and pulling with a little pressure

 


Strawberry Fields

Happy New Year!

I feel like I’m turning a notebook to a brand new page. A fresh start, if you will.

As we press our reset buttons and turn the calendar, it’s worth considering brand new goals and objectives we’d like to achieve in 2012.

One of my goals this year is to get healthier. I’ve developed a decent early AM running routine lately, but my diet is still too inconsistent. The Mrs. just set some goals of hers this morning. Rather than setting a daunting 12-month goal, she created a few 3-week long goals. They say it takes 21 days to kick a habit, so there you have it.

In matching her dedication, I’ve decided to create some 21-day goals of my own. First, I’m going to do some form of daily exercise during that period; even if it’s a set of pushups. Second, and more challenging – I’m back on my vegetarian diet starting now! You may recall my earlier attempt at this goal this past Fall. The good news is I now have a handful of savory and filling vegetarian recipes to chose from.

Today’s recipe calls for a light, fresh and flavorful salad. Randomly enough, I actually had this exact salad on two separate occasions over the past month. The first was one that our friend Nicole made for us. Turns out it’s a replica of the Strawberry Fields salad at Madison’s in Hoboken.

The second instance was this past weekend in good ol’ Madison, Wisconsin where visited our BFF’s Rob and Kim for the weekend. Always a good time up there, getting away from the hustle and bustle of NY. Good company, good food and quality time with their beautiful dogs (see below)!

Friday night, New Year’s Eve Eve, we stayed in and made dinner. I made bucatini all’amatriciana (will post in the future) and Rob made a strawberry salad he got from their bootcamp instructor. The salad was a near replica of Nicole’s and inspired me to post to clookbook!

Cooper (left) and Riley (right)

Recipe

Serving Size (2 – 4 people)

Estimated time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • chopped greens (I use romaine)
  • sliced strawberries
  • chopped toasted walnuts
  • crumbled cheese (feta or goat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons strawberry jam
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. toast walnuts in a toaster oven for a few minutes
  2. combine all dry ingredients
  3. whisk wet ingredients together and dress the salad
  4. season with salt and pepper to taste

Tomato & Spinach Pan Pizza

I love pizza. I bet you do, too. What’s there not to like love? You can eat it with your hands, you don’t need a plate, it’s cheap and it tastes like heaven.

I’ve been doing a lot of kids / Christmas shoots lately. We recently took a trip up to Aaron and Jenna’s place for an assignment and were paid with…pizza! Jenna made an amazing pie. I’ve made good pizza before but this version was unreal. Hers was, for starters, made in a pan. It was a nice variation from the thin-crust versions that I’ve grown used to making.  She also got pretty creative with a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy toppings.

The experience reminded me how much fun pizza making really is. Start with the dough, which is simply a combination of flour, water and yeast. Some fancier doughs add ingredients like olive oil and milk, but the process is really straightforward. Once the ingredients are combined, dump the contents onto a floured counter and begin to knead with your hands. What’s better than getting your hands dirty and making a mess in your kitchen (after a few times, you’ll discover ways of minimizing the damage).  Check out a previous post for a good dough recipe.

Then onto the toppings. This is where you can really get creative. Think of the dough as your blank canvas. Jenna used sliced tomatoes, minced garlic, spices, spinach and cheese. Very straight forward. Very delicious.

Finally, toss into a hot oven and wait (briefly) for the transformation to take place. Simple, satisfying and no pots and pans to clean.

Recipe

Serving Size (4 people)

Estimated time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • pizza dough
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • plain tomato sauce
  • baby spinach leaves
  • thinly sliced tomatoes
  • dried spices (black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, basil)
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • sliced pepperoni (optional)

What You’ll Need:

  • baking pan (square or circle) or pizza pan
  • parchment paper

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 450 F
  2. stretch out the dough on a piece of parchment paper
  3. place dough in a pan
  4. pour several tablespoons of tomato sauce onto the dough
  5. generously sprinkle spices, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, cheese and pepperoni (in that order)
  6. place pan into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted

Tips:

  • baking pizza in a pan gives it a fluffier consistency vs. baking directly on a pizza stone which creates a flatter, crispier crust.

White Bean Cannellini Spread

This is a simple Italian appetizer that seems to be a staple at some of our favorite restaurants like Po in the West Village and Anthony David’s in Hoboken.

Easy, healthy and simple.

Recipe

Serving Size (2 – 4 people)

Estimated time: 10 minutes (all prep, no cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of rustic bread (baguette, ciabatta, etc)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15/16 oz can of cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (save some for garnish at the end)
  • pinch of salt and a some fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. open can of beans and rinse them (in a colander or sieve) under water to remove the goo they sit in the can with (no clue what that stuff is)
  2. add beans and garlic to a bowl and mash the beans against the side of the bowl with the back of a fork
  3. add the majority of the olive oil to the bowl. this should help smooth out the texture and ease the mashing process
  4. season with salt, pepper and garnish with remaining olive oil
  5. serve as a spread on slices of fresh rustic bread

Tips:

  • if you save this for the next day, it will dry-out. just drizzle some more olive oil on top to ‘rehydrate’
  • freshly baked bread (like a baguette) goes stale almost overnight. freeze what you don’t use and just toast it (directly out of the freezer) when you’re ready for more

Greek Yogurt Parfait

Taking a break in the tutorial action with another healthy recipe. Yogurt parfaits. This post probably serves as more of a reminder than an actual instructional step-by-step on how to prepare a parfait. Parfaits are healthy and versatile. You can show off your creativity by mixing up presentation, order of ingredients or type of serving glass. Shot glass, martini glass, wine glass…the options are limitless.

When I think of parfaits, I get a very vivid image…

I picture being seated for breakfast at an upscale Hotel restaurant in a major city. It’s buffet style so I go up and help myself (after placing my O.J. and coffee order with the overly friendly waiter) . I’m usually pretty turned off by hot breakfast food, especially at buffets (scrambled eggs and bacon just don’t do it for me) so I keep going and skip right to the pastry plate. Chocolate croissants…bingo. I also help myself to some thinly sliced fruit…cantaloupe, honeydew, and pineapple.

As the buffet line winds down, I come across a  snazzy set of martini glasses filled with a colorfully coordinated set of fresh ingredients. It looks like a work of art. I begin to (internally) question what these beautiful concoctions are doing sharing a stage with the ubiquitously piles of eggs and bacon that I just passed. As I stand there and ponder, I get abruptly cut in line by a sweaty hotel guest dressed in running garb (headband and all). He reaches right for the parfait, snagging it without even the slightest thought or appreciation. He skipped the eggs, bacon…and croissant.

I guess he’s eating healthy today.

Recipe

Serving Size (1 parfait)

Estimated time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

*green highlight denotes ingredients you will likely need to buy fresh while black text includes ingredients you should either have stocked in your pantry or ingredients that have a lengthy shelf life.

Directions:

  1. Layer yogurt, berries and granola into a cup (your choice of order) and serve.

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