Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chana Punjabi.

Scatterbrained. That's where I am today, but over the weekend I made this lovely Indian vegetarian dish called Chana Punjabi. After reading the blog post from The Wednesday Chef, I just had to make this dish. By clicking on the link above you can access the recipe yourself, today I'm too lazy to type it out for you! Heck, at least I'm honest! Lately, I've been having problems with certain animal proteins ( I think my body is rejecting them) and I'm looking into more plant-based recipes, no I'm not completing giving up meat, but I am reducing the amount of it that I consume as a "trial". If you dig Indian food, no doubt you will enjoy this simple and satisfying meal. Chickpeas are simmered (for about an hour) in this delicious tomato-onion based sauce spiced with garam masala, turmeric, chiles, salt, pepper, and conriander. Two heaping spoonfuls over fragrant steamed basmati lunch make a delight meal, day or night.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Scary recipes out there!

Are there recipes out there that scare the bee-jeezers out of you? There are a few phantom recipes that I have the desire to make but for some reason they intimidate me. It's silly really, but the fear of the unknown awaits. Crab cakes is one of those recipes that I' ve put off making because of this "fear". Well, last night I finally conquered it! I bought the crab claw meat at Fresh Market (typically a recipe asks for lump crabmeat, but I got a good deal on the claw meat and there wasn't a significant difference in the quailty). I used Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything and they turned out real tasty. I even made my own mayonnaise for the recipe, those who know me well know I'm not a fan of mayonnaise unless it's homemade. Go for it, call me a food snob, I dare you. I also made a mixed greens salad with slivered carrots, sauteed mushrooms, and red onion. The salad dressing was made with my secret stash of green lemon olive oil and prima balsamic vinegar from O&Co. Yeah I spent a fortune on the olive oil and vinegar on a trip back to LA almost a year ago, but it was worth every penny! Drank a nice glass of Chardonnay by Mirrassou. It paired nicely with the crab cakes - it had notes of apricots, green apple, vanilla and honey. A special treat indeed, but I'm worth it and I'm not scared of making crab cakes.....

Friday, March 20, 2009

citrus equals goodness.

Tonight I'm going to "Salt Cafe", a hangout for 20-30s folks at a local church I've been attending, and since my chocolate chip cookies were a hit last week, I decided to bring another sweet treat for peeps to enjoy. Baked goods are one of the finest tricks to meeting new people and making friends. Plus it's just an excuse to exercise my baking arm. Earlier this week I got my April issue of Gourmet and while I perused it, I noticed an article on lemon-y desserts. The last recipe in the article, Lemon Glazed Butter Cake, caught my eye and I immediately folded over the end of the page. It sounded so simple and yet so delectable. Angels in heaven were singing "Make this recipe! Hark, the Lord, has spoken, bake this cake!". Okay, maybe that's not EXACTLY how it went down, but close enough. So, in case, this fine first day of spring harkens you into the kitchen, perhaps you should give this cake a go:

Lemon Glazed Butter Cake (April 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine)

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Rounded 1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. + 1 tbps. whole milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. lemon zest

1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 c. white sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 c. confectioners sugar

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

Garnish: confectioners sugar, for dusting (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8" cake pan.

2. Whisk together in a bowl, the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Whisk together in a measuring cup, the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest.

4. In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar til its nice and fluffy - approx. 2 minutes.

5. One at a time, add each egg until combined.

6. On low speed, add flour in 3 batches, alternating with the milk mixture. You should begin and end with flour.

7. Pour batter into pan and tap the pan gently to release any air bubbles.

8. Bake until golden and toothpick comes out clean (30-40 mins).

9. Let cool in pan for 10 mins, then invert and cool on rack.

10. Whisk together until smooth, confectioners sugar and lemon juice - brush as much as you like onto cake. Cool completely.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

dim sum anyone?

When you crave something, they say you should give it to yourself, otherwise you won't be happy. I dig this philosophy and fully embraced it over the weekend. I've been craving dim sum. Luckily back in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of going out for dim sum on a regular basis, being that I worked downtown. Empress Pavilion, baby!! Dim sum is definitely a different style of eating. When you go out for dim sum, usually you're sitting in a big banguet hall and servers are pushing carts filled with all sorts of delectable treats. You kinda hail then down, like getting a taxi in NYC, and order what you want. Think of it as the Chinese version of tapas. One of my favorite dim sum treats is Sew Mai, steamed dumplings of ground pork and chopped shrimp. Dipped in a mixture of garlic chili sauce, hot mustard and soy sauce, I could easily drown in these delectable treats. I conveniently own a bamboo steamer, which is a cost effective steamer, not only for dim sum, but for veggies or meat too. I got this recipe from the New School of Cooking in Culver City, California, where I took a dim sum class a couple of years ago. Another reason I love making these is that they are a breeze to freeze, in fact last night I just popped a bunch back into the steamer until they were heated through and enjoyed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

a homemade life.

I want to plug the heck out of this book, and perhaps the above photo of the Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Crystallized Ginger will do the trick! It's the first recipe from Orangette's, A Homemade Life, that I made and successfully, I might add. Folks at the office really enjoyed it, especially with a cup of freshly brewed coffee (that was the buzz around the water cooler). Last night after a laugh-out-loud telephone conversation with my friend, Lydia, I snuck into bed, bundled underneath purple flannel sheets and finished the book. I've had the book for about a week and it was my intention to make it last as long as possible, but a week later, here I am, done with it. I tried my hardest, I really did, but each chapter was so deliciously enjoyable, I couldn't resist but read some more, which is truly a high compliment. An added extra bonus is that I want to make at least half of the recipes included, which says alot. Often memoirs offer a few recipes I'm interested in trying, but the real reason I read the book is for the "story". In this case, I read it for both. I'm a regular over at Orangette and the book has inspired me to continue blogging, writing restaurant reviews, etc. So thanks, Molly!

Monday, March 2, 2009

cheesy broccoli soup.

This past weekend marked Midwest Munchies' first birthday! Hard to believe it's already been a year, but I'm glad I stuck with it, hope you are too! I was perusing my recipe box a couple of weeks ago, while planning some meals and happened upon a "goodie" - Cheesy Broccoli Soup. It was passed onto me by a legal assistant I used to work with in downtown Fort Wayne. She is as passionate about food as I am and she loves to entertain the masses. She gave me this recipe and it was a hit! It's super easy and delicious, though, if you're watching your waistline, you might want to save this for a non-watching waistline day. However, indulging in this soup every now and then won't kill you........

Cheesy Broccoli Soup (serves 4)

1 head of broccoli
1 onion, chopped and sauteed in a bit of butter or oil (your choice)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 + 2/3 c. half and half
1/2 lb. pepper jack cheese
1/2 lb. Velveeta

Chop broccoli and steam separately. Chop velveeta in squares and shred pepper jack cheese. Heat over medium heat the can of cream of mushroom soup and half and half. Add cooked broccoli, sauteed onion, and cheese. Heat and stir until cheese is melted. Voila, it's ready to serve.

A dash of freshly ground pepper is a nice finishing touch. if you're not a fan of pepper jack cheese or velveeta, you can substitute with monterey jack, sharp white cheddar or whatever else you fancy. I like a good kick and the pepper jack is delish!

On a side note, I wanted to plug Molly Wizenberg's book, A Homemade Life, which was released this week! Molly is behind the coveted Orangette, which was just named #1 food blog! I haven't bought a book in a while, but I wanted to support Molly's work. Her blog is so wonderful and the 60 pages or so that I've read so far are absolutely delightful! So if you can swing it, buy it!