Meaty Mushroom Pasta

mushroom pastaWarning: the foodstuffs here do not look at all like their components. This is a wonderful little guise for those who rabidly desire meat but venture into a tepidly omnivore household that leans toward herbivoraciousness. It’s an entirely mushroom-based pasta sauce, but with the right ingredients becomes rich, succulent, and fulfilling.

So, Ramadan came and went, and I surprised myself by how enthusiastically my body responded to the call. Like a horse fresh out of the gates, I galloped full stride into the blazing long days of fasting, somehow procuring during my first week alone at least 4 new recipes for dinner meals. Let us not discuss how the subsequent three weeks unfolded, with root canals and illnesses. But that first week was glorious! (and the last week, pretty good too.) For the unfamiliar, breaking fast during Ramadan consists of iftar, followed by the evening prayer, and then dinner. Traditional iftars vary from culture to culture, but are usually filled with much fanfare. I tried to change that for the husband and myself this year, especially since the fasting was so long (15+ hours) and the feasting so short. So we usually broke fast with a few dates and water (or Rooh Afza, a rose-water syrup which is sublime when mixed with water and a generous squeeze of lime). Dinner as such became the exciting mealtime (which typically included some fruit chaat because how can I deny myself the quintessential dish of my Ramadan experience). Continue reading

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Plum Vinaigrette and Summer Salad in tow

Between the husband and I, salads have become a much more frequent main dish of the dinner (and/or lunch) time. I have to give the boy some props for being open to trying new flavors and realizing the salad is so much more than just some lettuce tomato and cucumber tossed in lemon and olive oil. There aint nothin’ wrong with that, but… it’s boring. Thankfully he married a culinarily curious food lover who likes to try and learn new techniques, resulting in such beauties as the orange vinaigrette and soy ginger and chili lime dressings. We have discovered that he prefers the tangy and spicy versions more than the fruity but as I am the predominant cook I get to decide. And lately what I wanted was something that spoke of summer, of sun, of the fruits of the season.

As it happens, I have seen plums everywhere and naturally surmised the most obvious and pleasant route would be to endeavor a taste of the plum vinaigrette. I’d never tried anything like this, and while it wasn’t heard, it certainly took more labor than my dressings usually require, but I daresay for the eyes alone it was worth it. The colors I was left with took my breath away. I’m only disheartened I had to leave this beautiful concoction in Maryland when I moved this week. Did that come as a surprise? Yes I am currently in CA now, temporarily with la familia before I settle down in San Diego. It is with a heavy heart that I must bid adieu to all the great food and great people I encountered, along with the lush majesty of trees galore, but new adventures await! One cannot sit idly by and moan about the past whilst the present offers a smorgasbord of delights.

Anyway, here I am now reminiscing about the bright, sweet, and rich homemade vinaigrette which really was worth the effort! I am ready to explore with other fruits soon, now that the basic technique has revealed itself to me with delightful clarity. I implore you to do the same, lest the fruits of summer pass you by with nary a glance from your direction. What better than an ideal summer salad to live through this horridly hot days? Continue reading

Thai Basil Turkey Kabobs

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Technology, she laughs at me.  In spite of the heavy week I have had, and the ridiculous struggle between  stomach bugs and long fasts, this tempestuous maiden of the modern world prefers to kick me where it hurts and completely erase an entire draft of this post, nearly finished but evidently not backed up.  Alas. I had this brilliant post marveling in the magnificence of human athleticism that is the Olympics, leading to the trials of fasting through Olympics, and if you can believe it I had some kind of delicate turn oh phrase that led quite seamlessly to these kabobs.
Humph.  You don’t get to read that now. But that’s okay, what does it compare to the mind-blowing skills of the amazing US women’s 4×200 m Medley.  Olympic records being broken left and right.  Wow!  I guess you could say my personal Olympic challenge would be in the realm of cooking–that is, trying to make the tastiest kabob out of the medley of ingredients found in my sister-in-law’s kitchen with nary a taste to guide me! (Not quite as seamless, but good enough) Continue reading

Ginger Soy Sunrise Salad

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Greetings and the best wishes for a fruitful and blessed Ramadan to you all!  So begins the holy month of Islam, whereupon lengthy days of fasting (yes that does mean no water either) are coupled with nights of prayer, gratitude and reflection (and some eating as well). At first glance you might say this comes at the most inopportune of moments, while I am in the midst of transporting my self and my worldly belongings to the opposite coast, a time that would by general consensus require a great deal of energy. Oh but how can we find energy when we can’t have a morsel of sustenance throughout the day?? As exhausting as it is (and as grumpy, curmudgeonly, demonesque, slightly irritable as I get), this is the time for utmost reflection and strenghtening of what lies within, and that type of strength far outreaches the mere physical variety (well, it should, at least). In other words, I’m hoping to be blessed with more peace of mind and a heart full of gratitude and calmness, the better to attend to the next few weeks of encroaching madness. In the process I also hope to extend that level of gratitude in sharing with those less fortunate. What better place than a food blog then to share the hopefully eventual food-giving exploits of charitability?  I do hope I have the chance to write up on something of that nature when the time comes.

But I digress. We begin Ramadan, so I begin with a recent salad the husband dubbed something along the lines of Ginger Soy Sunrise Salad (Unfortunately the full cheesy title escapes me now, but you catch the drift).  Because we get up to eat before the sun rises, this thematically falls in line with that. However if you’re to enjoy it in the evening, you might choose to dub it a Sunset salad, since that’s when the breaking of the fast commences. No matter the title, the salad is refreshing and sharp with just the right crunch and kick of spice. And it truly is a wake up call for your energy, with the hint of ginger and the morning-esque value of boiled eggs.  Plus, sunflower seeds just kind of fit the title all the more. I’ve made it a few times since, each with variations which I will include below.  And so, Ramadan Mubarak and consider this salad for a protein rich but light dinner piece. 20120716-211331.jpg

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Eid Treasures: the Cookie Edition

Eid Mubarak! The blessed month has come to an end, and I write this with a fulfilled feeling edged with longing for Ramadan to remain, strange as that may sound to those unexposed to the whole Ramadan experience.  Nevertheless, no one can deny that we look forward with bright happy hearts to the holiday that follows, Eid ul Fitr.  Islamic holidays are marked with community prayers early in the morning, quickly followed by plentiful opportunities to meet friends, hang out with family, eat splendid treats and take beautiful afternoon naps!

This was my first Eid ul Fitr away from the family, and admittedly it was a mite bit difficult in the morning—there’s nothing quite like walking out of the Eid prayer with hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of people and, like a scavenger, routing out all your relatives and friends!  The ultimate hunt for celebratory elation!  The husband and I were missing that but no matter, that’s what Facetime is for. 🙂  And I had planned a special surprise for my family—delicious treats sent overnight just for them!  I’ve never mailed food before, and I’m not sure if I overdid (or underdid, for that matter) it, but I individually wrapped homemade cookies for them, stuffed those into sealed bags, placed those in a randomly designed tin, and bubble-wrapped that in a USPS box for overnight delivery.  They arrived in edible order, that’s all that matters.wrapped and ready

I wanted to wait for them to call me in surprise, but thankfully I had the sense to ask my dad (repeatedly!!) to check the door once they came home from their own outings because otherwise they’d have left my poor cookies on the doorstep without a moment’s glance or realization.  Oy!  Families! Make it so hard to drop a simple surprise…

Anyhoo, thus arises this Special Cookie Edition of Coriander Dreams, with not one but two scrumptious recipes for your delight: My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies ever, and Sweet Coconut Sugar Cookies. Continue reading

Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus

I feel I’ve been a little unfair and mysterious about the reason behind my hiatus.  I did of course allude to an injury of sorts, but let me shed light on that before moving further—namely so you may refrain from being as stupid as I am.  Essentially I was trying to open the binding ties of a sealed box with a knife.  *Long pause* Yeah I don’t think I need to say much else, except I passed out at the sight of blood (yes I admit I am a pansy when it comes to blood, but Pottermore recently dubbed me a Gryffindor, so I’m brave too! Or just stubborn!  No matter!) and needed 8 stitches on my poor thumb.  In case you are wondering, it is still slightly numb (as if it never fully woke up) but after so many months it now has a 98% performance rating, the 2% comprising numbness and a slight inflexibility compared to my left thumb.  Such is life.  But kiddos, DO NOT USE SHARP SMALL PARING KNIVES TO OPEN BOXES.

So unfortunately this post lacks a photo right now because although I’ve been developing my skills at cooking with both good and not-so-good experiences, I had become waylaid concerning the use of the camera. For shame!  But isn’t it enough just to jot down recipes?? Trust me.  My laziness evidently knows no bounds, but I am relying on this blog to keep me steadfast in my goals. (I promise all my other posts will have photos, I just totally missed this one.)

So, tiny back story: We have the habit of trying to avoid the café at work – something about the sweat pouring off of the head chef while he sautés veggies and cooks up bacon on the same flat iron grill churns my stomach with relentless gremlin hands – so on occasion I’ll pull together some sandwiches for lunch.  This is hardly necessary while we’re fasting, but hummus is useful on its own too, obviously.  Continue reading

Returning with a hunger!

The first blessed meal of RamadanI never meant to abandon you. Every day that has passed since that fateful Saturday evening (thumb still flaunts an irritating scar) I have longed to return here in hopes of concocting such sorcery with words that even the driest of tongues and most satiated of hungers will be left smacking their lips and reaching out to the screen for a taste.

Ok, creepy.  Rein it in, Alya.

This unintended break has allowed a lot of breathing room though, and most importantly has reinforced a truth: this site is a beacon of sanity for me.  I can sit and dream up edible possibilities and suddenly the world makes sense again…  Ah, but I’ll spare you any rambling discourse and just get straight into it.  It’s certainly unexpected that I would reboot this blog during Ramadan of all times, but anyone going through this blessed month of fasting will tell you that dishes demand the spotlight.  Whether that’s because a certain variety of dishes only make their presence known traditionally during this month (fruit chaat anyone) or because we become exceedingly more appreciative and aware of what we eat and how much we take in, at the end of the day I have felt increasingly inspired and cajoled into baking, cooking, and desiring to share and reflect upon it.

So just as a reintroduction into my little world of eating, I’d like to share the first dinner of Ramadan this year, an exceptionally special occasion because it was my first one here in MD with the husband.  For the unawares, we fast during daylight hours for a month, and at sunset we break our fast – a special meal called iftar.  Traditionally one has a date first, and from there the food expands into the realm of individual cultures. 

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