Beyond the Blog: February 2011

Because I haven’t had time (or the longevity of a properly functioning memory) to write up posts for every single dish I have made, or at least the ones I photographed, I thought I might make a habit of sharing, every month, the missed opportunities that befell the four prior weeks.  In doing so, I get to share some of my other exploits with you simply for the joy of loving food.  And perhaps you may find inspiration in my simple endeavors.  Feel free to ask for recipes on any of them; I may or may not remember exactly, but I can share broadly my experiences at the very least.  And at the very most, you might hit the jackpot on a stellar super feasting idea.  Probably not though, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Soooooo… off we go into the Smoky tendrils of Alya’s kitchen….This month was marked mainly with simplicity and learning.  I haven’t done a lot of Pakistani cuisine in my life, so a lot of the recipes I have shared have been a first or second trial for yours truly.  I hope I can mash these basics into my brain so I can simply whip them up at the drop of a hat, but for now, it’s been a pleasure simply being able to try.  I think I’m going to have a lot less time in the future, so it’s best to drill this all into my wonky li’l brain now, before it’s inundated with other unrelated items of the world (say, job related thingies, for example).

A traditional Combo: Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower).  I might have actually shared this one but as a cursory glance revealed no relevant post, I’m sharing it now.  This is a classic combination, though I used red potatoes as opposed to the typical yellow potatoes.  That’s just what I had on hand.  They taste brilliant in my opinion, anyway.  For the unawares, nearly all of pakistani cooking starts with onions and/or tomatoes, so this has a “gravy” of cooked down onions and tomatoes, which you can puree with a immersion blender if handy.

Baingan ki Bharta (Eggplant Curry, more or less).  You know how much I adore adore adoooooore eggplant, so this would be absolutely fabulous regardless if it turned out right or not.  For me this is bliss, and quite frankly it was pretty frickin’ delicious too.  I used small eggplants, roasted them, peeled and mashed them up for this one here.  Oh gosh, I drool just looking at it.  Be still, oh titillated heart!

Another Potato Dish: roasted potatoes and peppers.  I think the delectable factor here is I went heavy with the masalas (cumin, garam masala, garlic).  And to make the “roasting” part go a little faster, you can partially boil the potatoes first, then drain and toss them into a frying pan for whatever comes next.  Don’t boil them completely, just enough to soften them a little bit and give them a kick in the right direction.

But of course, desi food isn’t the only place my mouth wanders, as you well know…

Oh this was just the prettiest scrambled eggs delight my husband has ever made, and one of the best Saturday morning treats ever. Imagine perfectly roasted red onions and jalapenos, tossed lightly in just the perfect dab of soy sauce, then tumbled together with chopped turkey, and finally scrambled egg (cooked in a separate pan first) that just lick up all the remaining flavors of the frying pan.  Top that off with the monterey jack melted cheese, and you have a winner.

Are those not the most beautiful “grilled” shrimp ever?? EVER???  All G’s handiwork, of course.  Marinated in some olive oil, chili garlic chutney, and salt, all he did was toss those suckers on a hot frying pan sans oil, since the marinade already had oil in it.  My god they were crisp and red and juicy and tingly and I simply wanted to melt at the sight of them adorning my crunchtastic salad: baby spinach and romaine lettuce, sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, and a honey-soy vinaigrette.  BAM! That’s the way to my heart I tells ya! Right there!

This was a fun and easy dish: Tuscan Chicken with peppers.  I can’t recall the exact marinade for the chicken, but it did include some basil, olive oil, garlic and lemon.  I believe there was also a dabbling of sauteed onions, just a touch of tomato, oregano, more garlic, obviously my sauteed peppers, and probably more garlic after that.  Once I served it on the plates, I topped them off with some shredded mozzarella, giving it the final Italian flair of the evening.  Delicioso!

Lastly, and sadly no photograph, I must quickly regale my unfortunate efforts towards making the best brownies ever.  To be fair, they still tasted brilliantly, but my one mistake which I should warn you to NEVER DO, is that I overbaked them for 2 minutes.  And boy do those two minutes mean death to what should have been the most decadently moist and sinful texture of a brownie ever.  I followed a recipe by Julia Child, and only tweaked it slightly to include a swirl of white chocolate cream cheese.  I would recommend you google and find her recipe (dubbed the best one ever, so it is actually easy to find) and try it out.  The taste was phenomenal regardless of the slight firmness which saddened me to the deepest core of the darkest ocean.  Alas.

Anyhoo, so that’s just a recap of some of the other randomness I get up to on occasion.  Feel free to share your own thoughts and exploits…

Also, for those of you who have read The Bell Jar, what oh what would you cook in its honor?  I’ve been drumming up some ideas, but nothing does the novel enough justice.  Oy hoy, this is a tough one, but I like a challenge.

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