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Archive for the tag “cooking”

Week #2 Cambridge – Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods

This week I WAS a good wife! Last night I made gazpacho and it’s in the fridge ready to be had for dinner tonight. So, that leaves my evening free to explore!

It’s officially summer and it’s farmer’s market season among other things. So I was going to write about the Harvard Farmer’s Market today, except it sucked 😦 Hey, I didn’t say that everything I explore is going to work out. 12 tents with baked goods, honey, cheese and glass jewelry is not my idea of a farmer’s market. And I walked half hour for this! So you can imagine how disappointed I was. Apparently I forgot that we’re in New England, where fresh produce isn’t ready until July/Aug.

So as I was going back home (I took the bus this time), I spotted one of my favorite stores in Cambridge and requested to be dropped off at Inman Square.

If you love to cook with spices, you are going to be in heaven! I have never ever seen a collection of that many spices in a single place. I pride myself on knowledge of spices but I felt quite ignorant when I entered here. There were some of the things I had never even heard of!

And if you’re ever in need of Tabasco, well is this the place for you or what! Lifetime supply!

Not only can you find spices here, there are a variety of grains and seeds also. Eating healthy just got even more fun!

All the ingredients for a yummy granola are right here. Check out the variety of dried fruit.
dried fruit

For the bakers, they also have excellent quality cocoa and chocolate. And if you fancy making your own beer, they even have Hops!

The prices here aren’t cheap but if for the price of the spice you can make a gourmet meal at home and save yourself hours of work making your own spices, it’s worth it. Christina’s spice is also one of the locally owned independent businesses and I like to support them.

As for me, I got what I came here for. Berbere spice to make Ethiopian lentil stew. And as I type this, the lovely aroma of the lentils fills my little apartment. I did good!

Christina’s Spice
1255 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 576-2090

P.S. In the mood for some homemade ice cream? It’s right next door.

Belize and a parting salad recipe…

Tomorrow morning, really early (3 AM) we’re off to a 4 day vacation to Belize. Jealous? Don’t be… I’ve been home sick for the last two days with a terrible cold and backache. I am feeling a lot better today so hopefully by tomorrow it’ll be all ok but it sure does dampen the spirits. I was going to do some vacation sewing, but I’ve been lying in bed all day today. In a few minutes, I have to get up and start packing but I thought I’d part with a quick moong daal salad recipe.

Sherril, I know you like to try different things so this one’s for you. Anyway, I grew up eating this for breakfast but now we make it for dinner or a light lunch.

You obviously have to sprout moong daal for this yourself. Don’t be intimidated by the sprouting process. You don’t need a lot of tools. You just need to plan ahead. This is so nutrious and delicious you’re gonna want to make it again and again. Let’s start with the basics.

Moong Beans or Daal. This is what it looks like. You can get these at any Indian grocery store or a chinese market.

Now the sprouter. This is what I use. A quart size mason jar. Take out the metal lid and cut a small circle from plastic canvas and stick it in and voila you have your very own sprouter! I can’t take credit for this idea. I read it somewhere online.

Closeup of the Lid.

Simply put your dried moon beans in the jar, soak and sprout. have really great instructions on how to do it. They also have lids and beans.

Once you have your sprouts ready here’s how I make my salad.

Chop one small onion, one red or green pepper.
I like to add Paneer to my salad to make it a little more substantial. If you don’t like paneer you can add a boiled potato cubed or feta cheese in the end.

Heat some oil, when it’s hot, add some cumin seeds, add your onions and if using cubed paneer or potato. Add salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add your sprouts, red pepper put a lid on and let them steam for 5 minutes.

Squeeze out juice of a lemon and add at end. Garnish with cilantro or parsley. I also like to add jalapenos or green chillies but add them only if you like your food spicy! Oh and I also add turmeric but you don’t have to if you don’t have any. It’s good antioxidants!

Enjoy! Really good and good for you.

I’m taking my netbook with me but I doubt if I’ll have time to blog there. I may write about it so I won’t forget when I come back. And hopefully my corduroy and velvet will be here from FFC when I get back so I can get cracking on more jeans!

Asparagus Risotto – A Knockoff!

Do you knock off more than just designer clothes? I do… You know I love to cook. But I also love to dine out. My favorite part of dining out? Coming home and recreating that dish in my kitchen my way.

Last month at Engine Co. No. 28 restaurant at PR Weekend Los Angeles, I fell in love with the Asparagus Risotto and decided that I needed to make this at home.

So, I got to work…

Gagan is away this week and even though it’s just me at home, I often take this time to try out new recipes and treat myself 🙂

Here’s my take on Asparagus Risotto and I must say I am very pleased with my version.

Now usually while making Risotto, it’s 1 part arborio rice and 6 parts liquid (water/stock). I do equal parts of water and vegetable stock which I heat up in separate pots so if I have any left over stock I can stick it back in the fridge.

One bundle Asparagus ( I think it’s about a pound??)
One cup Arborio rice
1-2 shallots, finely chopped
6 cups stock or water
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (use more or less depending on your taste)
salt and pepper to taste
splash of white wine (if you like to add it in your risotto, I don’t)
butter, oil

Start your Risotto the usual way. I do butter and oil combo, saute shallots, add the rice, toast it, then start adding hot stock (you want to keep your stock/liquid really hot on the next burner. Keep stirring as the stock cooks and evaporates. I was watching Alton Brown’s Good Eats show one night and he gave a great tip on when to add more stock to risotto. Take your spatula and give it a vertical sweep across your pan. If you see liquid oozing out from both sides, you are good, if it’s pretty dry like it is in this photo, it’s time for more stock.

Ok, so you keep doing it until your risotto is almost done. Oh, and don’t forget to add salt and pepper.

While your risotto is cooking, lets prepare the asparagus. Snap the ends off and steam the whole bundle for 5 minutes. Take the asparagus out from the steamer and reserve 4-5 stems. Stick the rest in a food processor, add a little bit of stock or water and puree it.

When your risotto is almost done, instead of the last batch of liquid, add the asparagus puree. Chop the reserved asparagus and add it to the pan as well. Finally, add the Parmesan cheese and serve!

So, there you go… Asparagus Risotto. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did. So now tell me, what do you cook when you are home alone?

Life’s little treasures

In this world of Virtual Reality, iPods, DVRs, Digital Cookbooks and such, one of my most prized possessions is Gagan’s grandmother’s recipe book.

In the 9 years I’ve been married to Gagan, his grandmother has showered me with more love than I can ever imagine possible. She is the one woman I aspire to be someday but even if I am an ounce of what she is, I’ll consider my job done. For Dadima’s (Hindi for Grandma) motto her whole life has been to LOVE.

That’s it.. Plain and Simple – Unconditional Love!

She is over 80 but is so full of life it’s amazing. And when it comes to skills, can I just say that she is a woman of 1000 hobbies! Seriously… be it knitting, crocheting, sewing, flower arrangements, gardening, decorating and last but not the least COOKING she ROCKS! I just have to spend 5 minutes with her to feel inspired and rejuvenated again. And the most amazing thing is that she still wants to learn more! She is continuously trying new recipes, new tricks.. .what not.

Which is why when I was in India last year and she showed me her recipe books and asked me if I would like them, I felt so honored, so special! I touched her feet ( it’s customary to touch feet of elders in India to show respect and even though people don’t do it anymore that often, I think its the most beautiful form of respect, providing you really mean it. ), hugged her and thanked her.

Her recipe books while not crammed with recipes (most of them are in her head, did I mention that she has super sharp memory!) are still very special. They contain not only the main entrees, but also herbal recipes for treating common colds, sore throat, indigestion and you name it. It’s a mine of information. In the books are recipes for her legendary “Magic Masala” as we call it. Magic masala is a spice blend which she makes by carefully weighing and measuring 11 spices, roasting some and leaving some raw. The spice blend is then ground finely and added to prepared foods. We call it magic masala because you add it to any dish and it totally transforms it. It’s like magic! Her recipe book also has clippings from newspapers, magazines from years ago. Basically it’s something no digital cookbook can match.

So while flipping through the pages of her books, I came across this super quick chocolate cake recipe (eggless of course) which was cooked in the microwave and was ready in 10 (yes 10!) minutes. That night I baked that cake and served it to everyone in my family.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the pages of her books feeling so much more closer to her. Sitting thousands of miles away from Dadima, I’ve figured out a way to bring her into my kitchen every month.

Each month I’ll make something from her cookbook and call it a “Dadima Night”. And no substitutions whatsoever!

So join me if you will in this journey of Traditional Indian Cooking at it’s best – Dedicated to Smt. Vimlesh Rani ( Dadima ).

Polenta – Indian Style!

So since Gagan turned vegetarian a few months ago, I try to come up with inventive recipes for him. He loves Polenta but we find it a bit too bland for our taste so I came up with this solution. Now polenta is very similar to a south indian dish called Upma which is made with cream of wheat/semolina instead of corn meal. So I thought… why not make it with instant polenta instead? And I came up with this.

Doesn’t it look pretty with all the veggies and specks of black mustard seeds? Good, and good for you!

You start with a little bit of oil and add some mustard seeds to it when the oil is hot. After they “pop” add chopped onion. When the onion has cooked through add your favorite veggies (chopped finely) to the pot and cook for another five minutes. Add salt, paprika, lemon juice. Then add boiling water and finally add polenta and stir continuously until its thick. I also add chopped cilantro just before its done. You can use any combination of veggies. I used green beans, bell peppers and frozen peas.

I love to cook and try new things whenever I can. Keeps life interesting!

More benefits of snow!

I mentioned in my recent Newsletter on PR about the snow sale all month long in December, but here some of the things I did this weekend while enjoying the lovely snow outside.

I made this hearty couscous salad. The recipe is from my favorite magazine Vegetarian Times and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this. Not only is this is a favorite in my family, but I’ve passed on the recipe to many others and they love it too.

It has couscous (of course), beans, jalapenos, corn, garlic oil ( I make my own in the microwave by zapping a clove or two with some EVOO for a minute or two), onions, cilantro, lime juice with some cumin and red pepper flakes! YUMMM!!!

I finished my socks! I’ll post more on PR about this pattern and the yarn. I got addicted to socks when I went to Germany for the PR Weekend this October.

Can you tell I love cooking? I made one more thing to round off this relaxing cold weekend.

I am trying to think how to describe this… Ok, let’s call it pasta pudding. Sounds weird I know. It’s a quick pudding made from little strands of handmade pasta which is then dry roasted and then added to milk and boiled until it’s slightly thick. Sugar and nuts are added about halfway. I also like to add a few strands of saffron to make it extra special. Its sometimes eaten as breakfast or dessert after a light meal. It’s called sevai ki kheer if you want the traditional Indian name for it.

Now, the pasta or the sevai is sent by my mom but I think when I make it next I am going to try it from broken pieces of angel hair pasta which I’ll roast in the oven. Roasting the pasta gives it a nutty taste which is unbeatable!

If you want recipes for anything I post on this blog, lemme know and I’d be glad to pass it on!
Now you know why you haven’t seen much of me on PR this past weekend 🙂 I am telling you it’s all about how you look at things. Yes, snow can be a pain, but there are ways to enjoy it 🙂 Bring it on!

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