Malabar Shrimp Curry (and hello again!)

Malabar Shrimp This might be an exercise in futility but here I am trying to start a new run at the food blog o’ mine. I have another blog in the works sort of, but that’s still in development and won’t be food-focused, so it would sure be nice to keep this one going, especially since I feel my technique and flavor palate has grown. This is due in large part to some appetizing projects the husband and I are embarking on; I’ll be excited to share those projects with you once they are blossom to a stage that is worth revealing to the world (or the tiny web of the wide world that still looks at this measly blog). At any rate, I can’t seem to escape food—cooking, writing, or even researching it.

So let’s give it a go, shall we? Back to the blog! Continue reading


FLAN!! Coconut Cupcake style

20120507-215418.jpgCinco de Mayo, that faux-holiday of monstrously Americanized proportions, fell upon me with a cleaver of inspiration, vigorously chopping away any doubt as to what I would cook for friends coming over on Saturday. Perhaps it wasn’t as intense as that, but when the husband asked if I’d rather go out to eat or have them over, the insane nutter butter masochistic soul that I am instantly chose HOME!  Partly I just like to have cute little toddlers to play with (and they have one of the most adorable and cunning rascals), and partly the pseudo-Mexicana bug bit me and I just felt like cooking.

What resulted was 4 hours of super multitasking: marinating, mixing, sauteing, boiling, baking, chopping, roasting, and sweating.  But my goodness it was worth it: fresh salsa, my corny bean mash, Spanish rice, spicy chicken fajita-style atop roasted peppers, and of course dessert. So what better way to shout out my Latin American love then with another recipe I picked up south of the Border: a simple but luscious flan.

Flan was probably the easiest recipe I picked up in my language school culinary expedition, so it was both an easy decision and an easy task.  I decided to go a slightly different route by making individual cupcake-sized flans, but alas I kind of scorched my melted sugar caramel concoction, so my flan was missing one key element.  Because of that, I whipped in coconut to add a bit of Alya flare.  I think it worked.  The fact that the husband’s friend ate 2 (or was it 3?) might indicate it worked.  You decide. Continue reading

Tofu Coconut Curry

tofu coconut curry

Ah me, where is the serenity, the unfathomable lightness, the sense of accomplishing and participating in the wild frenzied breath of the universe without pain, only bliss?

No clue.  All I know is sometimes you just have to pull together the shards and remnants of all prior existences, the amorphous blobs of unforetold dreams, and the strands of countless prayers, combine them into a large casserole dish and bake until you’ve come up with a savory significance completely your own and completely worthwhile.  No simple task, but your only other recourse is to throw in the towel and let life lead you.  I’ll have none of that, so I’m going to rally my determination and find a way to make the ingredients in my cabinet froth into something grand.  For my sake, for the husband’s sake.  Life is too precious to let stupid obstacles crush you. (I speak in riddles mayhaps, but I’m in an incoherent mood, so play along!) Continue reading

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

G’s Utopian Dream Cake

When I took this delight out of the oven, my heart burst out and galloped forth through the sweet aromas filling the kitchen.
When I pulled it out as a surprise after dinner, G’s eyes drooled even more than his mouth.
When I cut a slice dolloped with fresh whipped cream and handed it over to him, the clouds parted in the wintry sky, heavenly lights shone down and angels sang from G’s rapturous face with every bite.

I have to say, this orange chiffon cake really is THAT good. Continue reading

Butternut Squash & Green Bean Coconut Curry

Holiday weekend in the offing.  Sweet tooth raging off the charts.  Winter chill demanding comfort and warmth, for the body and for the taste buds.  And all I can think of is… squash?

Not to belittle the autumnal veg d’jour, but it never had a presence in my home, in my mama’s home, or in any of my friends’ home while I was around at least.  I refer to the butternut squash, the flamboyantly orange veg that screams “I JUST DARE YOU TO EAT ME!” to those waylaid wayfarers as yet unexposed to its rich and moist interior.  Perhaps a tad overdramatic, but I was always a little confuddled by it, until at some point in the past few years I actually sat down and sampled a bit… in ravioli form… in salad form… in mushy delectable form… (not in soup form just yet, but soon enough).  And when I found it on sale at the grocery store, my heart leapt at the chance and my fingers scrambled with the words Why not? dribbling down their wiggly tips.

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Flaky Coco-Curry Pasta

(Because Mr. G is really preoccupied as of late, I am taking the reins for the moment)

ALYAVILLE: I generally don’t follow rules.  Well, when it comes to sports and board games and the like, I am adamant about enforcing them.  Come to think of it, I find it a little strange how fervent I am about those rules (might even add more of them to make something more challenging!) when I am so free flowing in every other regard.  Curious.  Oddly placed competitive streak in me.  But that’s irrelevant.

As a “rule” ironically enough, I  kind of tweak to my heart’s content.  This is especially true in the kitchen, and why shouldn’t it be?  Why should we be relegated only to the constraints of a recipe’s directions?  Why shackle our heart’s (and tongue’s) creativity as such?  Oh rid me of this ball and chain!  I’d rather simmer to death in excess spices than stew in blandness and un-Alyaesque flavor, for example.

In case you didn’t get it, I personally like to experiment.  Not to say I live on the wild side, I just … tweak. I tweak a lot.  Especially if it saves me time and money from buying more groceries than I care to.  Ahh there’s the rub.  How to cook with whatcha got.  Well, I have this delectable red curry paste (Thai Kitchen) and I lo-o-o-ove thai food, but much of what I love consists of coconut milk.  I hardly ever have that on hand, because a) no coconuts of my own to harvest, and b) really? Who is going to remember to buy that on a general run to the store?.

What I do have though (or my mom, I should say, ‘tis her kitchen after all) are coconut flakes.  Ohh interesting.  What do we make of this?  Well what follows is the Alyaville Flaky Coco-Curry Pasta.

Continue reading