Cook The Books: Heartburn-4 Minute Eggs~

18 11 2012

Cook the Books has dedicated the past 2 months to reading Nora Ephron’s Heartburn.   While Ms. Ephron had a number of immensely successful book-movie deals, Heartburndoesn’t strike me as a book which will make that leap.  Although, it might make a campy heartbreak romantic comedy… Nah.  It’s amusing, in a dismal sort of way…heavily dramatic.  The best part of the book for me were the recipes…although I didn’t have the greatest of luck with the 3 minute-4 minute egg.  I kept getting a 5 minute egg.  *Ü* Without regard to that…here’s my journey…

We have chickens.  This was today’s harvest and they don’t come much fresher than this.  I actually had to move one hen to get to the eggs.  She’s pretty tame, but didn’t much care for my raiding her nest.   I’m not letting anyone else get the idea they can sit on a nest…as it is we have one baby chick out there with its Mama!  I selected 4 large (actually X-Large is more the correct size.  These strain the top of a Large egg carton.

The next step is to put the eggs into a pan of cold water…check…and bring to a boil.  Cover, turn off the heat, and wait 3 minutes.  After 3 minutes, remove from the hot water, open and serve.

I recommend working with tongs AND a folded towel to open and scoop your eggs.  Some day I’m going to own an egg opener.   I often wonder how we did this when I was a kid?  I don’t remember the cute egg cups…but I do remember eating soft cooked eggs.  Oh well.  I’ll keep at this until I get it right.  This is one of my hubby’s favorite “comfort” foods.

The next book on our reading schedule is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  We’ll also be teaming up with Food ‘n Flix and doing a two-for-one by also watching The Hunger Games.   Don’t be shy…put on your apron and join in the fun!

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I♥CC: Comforting Curries with Madhur Jaffrey-Baked Beef Curry~

14 11 2012

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Comforting Curries is the theme of the week at I♥CC.  I’m still waiting for my curry cookbooks to get here, so I went hunting on the Internet for curry dishes, and ran across one that particularly appealed to me for a variety of reasons…  Baked Beef Curry at Spices Bites from Ms. Jaffrey’s book, At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.  Her step by step is much more succinct than my own…I invite you to visit her site as well!

Madhur Jaffrey’s Baked Beef Curry

From At Home with Madhur Jaffrey
Blogged by: Spices Bites

Ingredients

6 tbsp. canola oil
6 green cardamom pods
2 2-inch cinnamon sticks
2 lb. beef stew meat (she used beef round chunks; I used beef chuck)
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/4 cups yogurt (I used 2 6-oz containers)
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ginger paste (finely grated ginger)
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
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Preparation
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Heat oil in an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat — I used a 5.5 quart dutch oven.  When the oil is hot, add the cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks, stirring once.
3.  Brown beef in batches, keeping browned pieces in a bowl.
4.  Once beef is browned, add cumin seeds and let them pop before adding the onions.  Fry onions until they start turning pale brown.
5.  Add ginger, ground coriander, cayenne, and salt to pan, mixing thoroughly with onions.
6.  Lower the heat a bit and return the beef and any accumulated juices to pan, making sure to coat the beef with the onion and spice mixture.

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7.  Add yogurt to pan and stir to mix.  Increase heat back to medium-high, until contents begin to simmer.

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8.  Turn the heat off on the stove.  Take a large piece of foil and cover the pan, making sure to tightly seal around the edges.  Then place the lid of the pan on top and place in oven.  Bake for about 90 minutes.
9.  Carefully remove pan from oven and slowly take off lid and foil, making sure you don’t burn yourself with the steam.  Give the contents of the pan a good stir to mix everything up, then serve.

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My timing got all off…and I was just starting the rice when I should have been pulling the curry from the oven.  I turned the oven off, and left the pan in for awhile…next time I won’t do that.  Our curry wasn’t saucy like it maybe should have been, but that’s okay…because it disappeared anyway.

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I fixed Rice with Peas from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking as a side dish, dusted all with a sprinkling of fresh coriander (cilantro in my neighborhood!) with a saucer of plain yogurt along side.  Had it not been dark-thirty already (Pacific Standard Time…ish!), I think I’d have made the Coriander-Mint Chutney to go with this. Another time…and there will be another time!

Tasting Notes~
I think I’m getting the hang of the Indian flavors now.  So far, everything I’ve fixed has met with reasonable approval. This dish, however, was met with praise.  Hubby said he’s learning to de-program his mouth on “Indian” nights so he doesn’t develop a preconceived notion about how it should taste.  He’s finding he likes the warm spices…a bit unusual to us at first, but it’s growing on him!  He found himself sneaking bits and bites of the leftovers throughout the night.  This is a good thing!

One of the things I really like about this recipe is that it gives me another way to use “stew beef.” I buy whole chuck neck or shoulder rolls and fabricate my own cuts of meat.  It’s been an adventure…and sometimes I end up with odd pieces that are only good for stew or grinding. This curry is a wonderful way to use some of those extra bits.

Please come back to visit again next week…we’ll be celebrating root vegetables!! If you want to cook with us, visit I Heart Cooking Clubs to sign up and follow along!





I♥CC: A Tea Party with Madhur Jaffrey-Masala Chai~

3 11 2012

It’s time for a tea party at I♥CC this week.  Like many of us, I also selected Masala Chai as my tea.  I used the recipe found on page 196 of Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.   I selected Masala Chai because I wanted to taste what all these pre-prepped chai options are supposed to taste like.  I’m a fan of tea: hot, cold and in-between.  The two of us drink about a gallon and a half of green and herbal tea daily.  Chai was a bonus…I got to drink it still hot!

I had never occurred to me to steep my spices before my tea was introduced to the hot water, but it sure makes sense.  This is the collection of dry spices that were steeped in simmering water.  After simmering awhile, sugar and milk are added to the mix and brought back to a simmer.  The tea leaves are added last and are steeped off the heat.

I chose Darjeeling tea as my black tea mainly because I had noticed Ms. Jaffrey recommended it in another Masala Chai recipe I’d read.  I picked up half a dozen tea samples after getting acquainted with the concept of teas back when I read “Death by Darjeeling” for Cook the Books.  Somehow, I just knew all these little tastes would come in handy!  Harney & Sons’ Guide to Tea says this about Darjeeling teas:

“Darjeelings also have more tropical fruit flavors like pineapple and guava, and a little more bite than Chinese Black teas from their more hastened oxidation.”  Additionally, they recommend they be brewed at lower temperatures than the Assam regional teas, in the 190 to 212 degree range.  The recipe calls for just about that temperature!

Tasting Notes~
We thoroughly enjoyed this tea!  It was enough for two, easily.  There was still a bit of a tannin bite even with the addition of the milk.  I used whole milk, and I think I’d have liked it with low-fat milk a little better.  We both found the spice combination utterly fabulous and very enjoyable.  Does that mean we’ll like commercial chais?  I don’t know, but I’m more willing to step out and give them a try.  Meanwhile, I have no problem tossing a few spices in a pot of water!