March 25, 2015

Chicken with almonds, yogurt and rosewater

Persian yogurt chicken

How amazing it is to see the weather warm up, the ice and snow melt and hear the birds start chirping again.

We were on our way to drop Lil A to his pre-school last week when he shouted "grass, grass". We could see grass peeping through the snow and ice and he was as amazed as we were to see it. What does spring in your part look like?

I have two Ottolenghi books - Jersualem and Plenty - and almost everything that we have made from it has been a hit. Recently I made this chicken which is cooked with yogurt, almonds and rosewater for some friends for dinner. Made some changes to the recipe, added some bay leaves to the spices,  added some fresh herbs and fried garlic at the end and was pleased with the result.

Recipe modified from Ottolenghi's recipe
(serves 5-6)

7-8 chicken thighs, unskinned and on the bone
2-3 tbspoon oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tspoon ginger paste
1 strip of lemon skin
2 dried chillies
4 whole cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
3 cloves garlic - 2 grated, 1 sliced thinly
3 tbspoons of almonds, blanched and  peeled
1/2 cup greek yoghurt
1/4 cup cream
1 tspoon rosewater
handful of parsley chopped thinly
salt to taste

Persian yogurt chicken
Salt and pepper the thighs and brown them for 2-3 minutes on each side. Take them out.
Persian yogurt chicken

Then in the same oil add the onions, ginger, lemon, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, salt and the garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the chicken back in and let it cook on low medium heat, covered for 15-20 minutes.

Take about 5 almonds out and then grind the rest of the almonds to a fine powder, then to this add yogurt, cream and rosewater. Once it's all mixed together, take a little bit of the chicken sauce and mix it with the cream sauce. Slowly, add the sauce in the chicken. Let it cook on low for 5-10 minutes.

Heat a teaspoon of oil and add the garlic slices when the oil is hot. Let it cook for a minute as it browns and take it off the heat.

Persian yogurt chicken
After you plate the chicken, add the garlic slices, sliced almonds and the herbs. Serve with rice, parathas, naan or rotis, or even pasta.

March 06, 2015

Playdate #6 with sweet potato gnocchi

I started writing this post last week and finished today. Happy Holi everyone. 

Playdates are a lot of fun for Nicole and me. It has become a ritual since we began in 2011. Yes, it has been a year since the last one. But we had an ambitious plan for this one, to make sweet potato gnocchi.

Sweet potato gnocchi
The other fun part of these cooking sessions is seeing the kids together. Lil A and Lil N are beginning to play together and they had a lot of fun dressing up as superheroes and ninja turtles.

To make things easier, we made some sides beforehand and then got together to make the sweet potato gnocchi together.

The dinner menu was:
Sweet potato gnocchi
Roasted chicken
Barley salad
Strawberry and chocolate mini cheesecake

We chose the recipe from epicurious and followed it except for reducing some of the butter, cheese, sage and taking out the nutmeg.

February 18, 2015

Saffron broccoli and cauliflower

Saffron cauliflower

It has been so cold here, that the brain has been in freeze mode. For once, I'm glad that the kids are off their preschool for mid winter break. We and they are spared of the endless layers to be put on and then removed.

I know, I know, I live in the Mid West and shouldn't be complaining but when it's so cold (tomorrow the high is 4 and low -14deg F) then all bets are off.

In the middle of all this cold, I have been making mostly comfort food, but have tried some new recipes as well.

During the holidays, I got Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi and I have been meaning to try recipes from there.

I finally got a chance to try the saffron cauliflower last week when some friends were over. The base of the recipe is so good, that all I had to do was spice it up a little bit, mix some broccoli with cauliflower and it was ready. It went really well with the rest of the meal.

It's perfect to serve with some chicken or even a mixed pulao/rice as well.

The heady mix of saffron and olives with some onions and 1 garlic and then topped with some parsley made the cauliflower and broccoli shine.

January 28, 2015

Celebrating 5th birthday with Ninjago lemon cake

Lemon cake with ninjagos

This last fall Lil A has been obsessed with Ninja turtles and then Ninjago characters. So when I asked him what cake he wanted for his birthday, he said Ninjago cake without batting an eyelid. My brain went into shock. How am I going to make it?

The next day we were at his pediatrician for a check up and he told the doctor, "My mommy is making me a ninjago cake for my birthday." She looked at me and said, "don't forget to get a picture when you are here next." Ah, my heart sank.

After several failed attempts to not do it, I decided to tackle it myself. If you don't know what ninjagos are: there are five of them with different colors. One of them is a teacher with white flowing beard and a hat, the other four are the ninjas.

I got fondants from Michaels, little packages, of red, black and white. I made the yellow and blue using food color and white fondant. I saw this YouTube video and sort of followed it.

January 20, 2015

Making Japanese milk bread at home

Japanese milk bread

It was late, I was putting kids to bed, almost half asleep myself when a picture popped into my facebook feed. It was the softest bread I had seen and all I remember was the name - Japanese milk bread. Somehow, I could never find that picture again. But it had served its purpose. Next day, I woke up determined to learn more about this.

There were many, many recipes and versions to follow. You can add condensed milk, heavy cream to the ingredients in some of them.

I decided to give a try to New York Times recipe. But I made some modifications. I used whole wheat white flour. Plus, I don't have a mixer, you see. So I did it all by hand.

But the taste, what can I tell you. With hints of sweetness, and buttery taste with flaky crumb, this bread was my companion till we finished it. You can butter it, add some jam or even condensed milk, and it will still taste amazing.

The secret to the bread is tanzhong - a roux of flour, milk and water that is cooked on stove top. I have detailed pictures of the steps, so I hope it's easy to explain.

January 07, 2015

Goddu rasam to put us back on track

Happy New Year friends! Hope your new year is filled with fun, love, good health and good food.

We went away to Tampa, Florida for the last week of December and soaked in all the sun, visited the beach, relaxed, went to the zoo, aquarium, and had fun with the kids.

Goddu rasam Lil A and Tiny M went swimming everyday and grew more confident about being in the water. There was also a splash pad in the resort, but they didn't care for it much. After 5 days of fun-filled days, we came back home and promptly fell sick.

So I made goddu saar or rasam, friend some papads and made some rice and we all had a big bowl of the rasam which aswin and my MIL swear by. The perfect mix of sour and sweet soothes the throat and the soul.


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