I♥CC: January Potluck with Madhur Jaffrey-Cranberry, Ginger and Garlic Chutney~

13 01 2013

It’s time for a Madhur Jaffrey Potluck at I♥CC!  That means we can cook any Madhur Jaffrey recipe we choose.  That always makes for a really fun round up!  I selected a recipe, introduced a few months back by Mike of You Are Here: Cranberry, Ginger and Garlic ChutneyAdapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s “East/West Menus for Family and Friends”  Mike is right.  It’s hard to stay out of it.  I’ve made it twice…once at Thanksgiving…when I couldn’t quite talk myself into putting in the garlic….*hangs her head* and then again at New Year’s when I served it with…ham!

You start with a can of cranberry sauce… I haven’t had a can of cranberry sauce in the house for 30 years!  LOL!  So…open up a package of cranberries, pour them into a dish, rinse them off and check them for  any that might be spoiled.

MJ-JamPtlk1-cbwaI went ahead and added the spices to my cranberries as they were cooking.  I figured it would bring the spicy essences out more…mmm….!  For a bag of fresh cranberries, I usually add 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup sugar or any sweetener you choose (honey is nice), strips of zest of 1 orange and chunks of the completely peeled orange.  Adding in a bit of vinegar plays off the citrus-acid, and all those warm spices…this makes an incredible side sauce.  Don’t worry about the garlic.  It just adds another wonderful dimension to the flavor.

Sadly… I didn’t take any END pictures.  I thought I had!  So…I’ll have to make some more…and very frankly…it’s the end of football season and this chutney would be great over a block of cream cheese…with that little cayenne…”YeeeHaaaw!” in there!  Yummm!  And look…it will be a lovely 49’er red when it’s cooked!  *Ü*


I♥CC: Jaffrey-style Appetizers-Quick Fried Shrimp~

5 01 2013

The start-of-the-year theme at I ♥ Cooking Clubs is Appetizers.   What an appropriate theme!  Much as we start a meal, we will start our year with a tidbit that will make you want more…need more… My selection in this quest is found in Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, page 187: Quick Fried Shrimp.


These are evil, addictive little creatures.  They were a little too easy to put together as well.  I put my flour and spices in a small brown paper bag and cooked batches of 4 shrimp at a time in my little wok.   The seasoned flour makes the most delicate crust on the shrimp that is simply wonderful!

These turned out to be the star of the night when we did “Rice is Nice.”  Neither of us were particularly hungry, and I “needed” to cook rice…but with what?  So we had the shrimp with the rice, and edamame on the side.  This was also about mid-early December after some busy times.  That’s okay. I could eat these lil suckers just about anytime.  I’m thinking they need to be paired with a nice little steak.  Next time.

Our next theme is Potluck…we get to choose any Madhur Jaffrey recipe we wish.  That leaves quite a wide playing field!  Drop by I♥CC and check out what the group is doing… I’ve found some incredibly awesome recipes that way!

I♥CC-MJ-Food to Warm You Up-Tamarind Fish~

22 12 2012

100WeeknightCurriesThe theme of the week in the land of IHCC is “Food to warm you…”   That could be interpreted a couple of ways, and both were acknowledged in our invitation.  Hmmm….heart warming, soul warming, or spicy-warming?  I went with easy and spicy this week.  I really wanted to do something that cooked low and slow, but that’s difficult to do when you aren’t here.  Quick, spicy-warm and…oh my.  I found fresh fish.  It’s time to do any of the recipes that use fish!!  My recipe selection, Tamarind Fish is found on page 103 of Madhur Jaffrey’s book, 100 Weeknight Curries.

MJ-TamarindFish-cbwa1The fish, cod is recommended, however I used Rockfish -wild caught.  The fillets are rubbed with turmeric and salt and left for a few minutes before cooking over medium heat until golden.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

MJ-TamarindFish-cbwa2Prepare the Tamarind sauce and let it cook down to a thick syrupy consistency.  You’ll start to see the bottom of the pan as it gets really thick.

MJ-TamarindFish-cbwa3Add the fish fillets back to the pan with the sauce, heating briefly, turning once, then basting with the tamarind sauce as the fish finishes.  Plate and serve.

MJ-TamarindFish-cbwa4This is pretty tasty.  My hubby commented on the sweet-sour play in the sauce.  A bright yellow rice would have been pretty with this.  We were deep into the week by the time I got to cook… I know.   Any other time I’d mumble about always deciding what’s eaten here…but not this week.  Birthday dinner out on Monday, Tuesday MAJOR grocery shopping, Wednesday-dinner with friends, Thursday-Cook’s Choice!  Whew!!  We decided an artichoke was going to be plenty with the fish.  I found myself thinking of “corrections” I’d make.  I should cut the cayenne just a little bit.  For once Bruce was okay with the heat, but it was a bit more than I was comfortable with.  Hmmm.

Come on back next week… The theme is “Red and Green.”  Interesting…!

Oh… To my grammatically correct friends…I know.  *Ü*

I♥CC: Rice is Nice – Aromatic Yellow Rice~

15 12 2012

IndianCooking_lgI’ve missed a few weeks, but am able to get back to some planned cooking again this week.  I♥CC continues to celebrate Madhur Jaffrey, and our theme this week is “Rice is Nice.”  It’s time to choose one of those recipes I’m not sure if I’ll be comfortable with…  I selected Jaffrey’s Aromatic Yellow Rice from her Indian Cookingbook.


The first step was rinsing the rice, soaking it briefly and adding in the aromatics…and the yellow of course!  This recipe called for tumeric, whole cloves, bay leaves and a cinnamon stick.  Fiddle.  I was out of stick cinnamon, so rather than use powdered, I opted to throw in several cardamom pods.  The two spices are similar, and it worked fine.  I chose to serve this with a shrimp recipe I’m going to be quiet about, but it was really good!!


The rice is most definitely YELLOW!! The rice was also definitely aromatic.  We were both surprised that the rice had little flavor for all the aroma and color.   Hubby didn’t care overly much for the rice, but ate it nonetheless.  He expected more flavor.  I’ll try the recipe again with some spicy dal, and I’ll bet it will go fine.  That’s what this is all about anyway.  Getting us to stretch our minds and palates…try new things, and see where they fit best for each of us.  We knew going into this that we’d be skeptical!  LOL!  Still…I haven’t found a total wash-out recipe yet!

Come back and join us next week when we spice it up a notch with “Foods to Warm you Up.”  That could be anything from a spicy soup, to something roasted and hearth-warming.  Let’s see what the group comes up with!

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

14 11 2012


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


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

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.

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

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.

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.


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!

I♥CC: Lentil Love a la Jaffrey – Green Lentils with Lemon Slices~

17 10 2012

We’re having a bit of a Lentil Love-in at I♥CC this week.  It will be most interesting to see the different preparations we come up with… Who will use green?  Who will brave the black?  Is anyone ready for red?  My childhood memories of lentils are minimal.  I don’t recall my parents selecting lentils over pinto beans, butter beans or navy beans.  That was my legume education until I reached the 8th grade.   At that time USDA started subsidizing the school lunch programs with commodities.  Apparently we got a LOT of lentils.   I’ll give the ladies credit…they substituted those lentils for every meat form they could manage.

For my dish this week, I selected Madhur Jaffrey’s Green Lentils with Lemon Slice, page 88 from her Foolproof Indian Cookery.  There’s some serious irony here… I burned 2 pans of lentils earlier this week trying this recipe.  Go figure.  The first pan had just begun to scorch…and the timer had just gone off.  It was early, so I started another pan. That one I walked away from for a few minutes too long and before I even got a lid on it they’d burned.  We had fajitas that night.   This time, I was so careful, I was a little too cautious and had too much liquid at the end of the cooking time.  By comparison…I’ll take the extra liquid!

When the lentils are fully cooked they are dressed with salt and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro, by any other name), and a hot oil mixture of brown mustard seeds, hot chiles and garlic.  Lemon slices are stirred in just before serving.  Oh my…the aromas that pop out with Indian cuisine! This meal resulted in my 3rd and 4th Indian recipes.  I’m working through this!!  As an accompaniment, I chose Rice with Mushrooms and Mustard Seeds from Ms. Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking,page 102.  I’m going to resist the temptation to tell you about this one, other than TRY IT!!!

Although not a particularly colorful plate, it was sure tasty!  I confess to being somewhat leery of some of the flavor profiles…still.  I’ll get there…I’m working up to it!  LOL!  From my vast elementary school experience, lentils have little flavor on their own, but accept seasonings amazingly well.  The overall flavor profile was rather subdued…and the lemon slices brought a brightness in that virtually made the dish.  The lentils rate a solid medium, but the rice scored high.  I may have discovered what I’m missing in my Mexican rice…  And what an experience toasting mustard seeds in hot oil is!! Prepare for SPATTER! One cookbook has now been anointed with rice bran oil. Oh well.  *Ü*  I’m sure it won’t be the last time that happens!!

Come back at visit us next week when we take on “Battle Yogurt”…better known around I♥CC as “Everything’s Better with Yogurt.”  I’ll have to think about that one…

I♥CC: Welcome Madhur Jaffrey!-“Indian-style” Scrambled Eggs~

30 09 2012

I am an Indian Cuisine novice.  A newborn.  Somewhat nervous about the new world I’m about to embark on.  I’ve never tasted official “Indian Cuisine.”  Most of the seasonings are familiar either on their own, or in other combinations, with a few exceptions…cardamom is new to me, as is fennugreek.  I’m not used to combining cinnamon and cloves in my savory dishes…nor am I used to such spiciness… But…I know how to add the heat factor slowly up to the recommendation in the recipe.  So, I’m game.  I♥CC has voted to cook with Madhur Jaffrey for the next 6 month term.   I’m doing the “I-think-I-can” chant in my head, but…I’m GAME!

I selected “Indian-Style Scrambled Eggs”  from the cookbook above as my first recipe.  The recipe is on page 64.  Ms. Jaffrey recommends doing the mise en place first…because once you get started, it goes pretty fast.  And she’s right.  The eggs go together VERY quickly!  Start the toast before the eggs…  You are merely moments from this stage…

…and this stage, about midway through the process.  You just want a nice, soft curd…scrambled eggs continue to cook for about a minute after they come off the stove if they aren’t immediately removed from the pan.  I turned the eggs just a bit more before I added the tomato and cilantro (coriander leaf).  These are flavors I’m familiar with. I’ve eaten the combination before in Mexican food.  This was a good choice.

I did make one ingredient change… When I got ready to cook, I realized I didn’t have any mushrooms on hand.  So, I thought about what I did have that would add bulk without a lot of flavor…that would take on the other flavors…that had a bit of moisture without becoming soggy…and I settled on a baby zucchini.

This got a thumbs up from both of us.  We found the cumin (which we like to start with) was quite interesting…  I’m getting braver now.  I’ve even selected a couple recipes to work on in the weeks to come.  In the meanwhile, these eggs are going to have to make another appearance with some kind of Indian bread… Mmmmmm!

I♥CC-Adios y Gracias Rick Bayless: Acupulco-Style Shrimp Cocktail~

29 09 2012

It’s time to bid farewell to our chef of the last 6 months, Rick Bayless at I♥CC…  While I didn’t take the whole ride, it was quite an experience to get to know this chef’s recipes better.  I didn’t start out a Rick Bayless fan…but I ended as one.  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Rick’s style, and not just his efforts to share an accurate regional representation.  My favorite Mexican cookbook will never change, but it will be accented by Rick’s recipes now.  I’ll reach for his cook books again and again, because there are so many MORE recipes I’m dying to try!!

My recipe selection from Rick’s vast compendium of recipes was his Acupulco-Style Shrimp Cocktail

Rick’s Acupulco-Style Shrimp Cocktail~
Coctel de Camarones, estilo Acapulco

Makes 4 cups, serving 4 to 6
Recipe from Season 3 of Mexico – One Plate at a Time

1 pound cooked shrimp
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup ketchup
1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce (Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce is delicious here)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro, plus a few springs for garnish
1 ripe avocado

Of course, there must be a story to go along with the dish…  I had picked up a bag of cooked and frozen shrimp quite by accident.  This recipe called for 1 pound cooked shrimp…this should be okay then…maybe a little off texturally, but still plenty tasty!  The sauce was soooo good!!  Enough chili bite and enough lime…and it’s very, very close to one of my signature appetizer dishes.  I thawed and rinsed the shrimp, stirred it all together and added the shrimp cocktail as a starter for a steak dinner for two.

Evidently, not only did I accidentally buy precooked shrimp, I also bought an off brand.  While the sauce was absolutely divine, the shrimp had an overpowering old seafood taste…  I was crushed.  While it looks lovely, and the sauce is fabulous, the shrimp were the deal killer.  Rick’s incredibly flavorful sauce ALMOST saved the dish…but I just can’t do icky fish or seafood.

I’ll be making this again, as soon as I can lay my hands on FRESH shrimp!!

Thank you all for sharing your dishes these past months.  I love the opportunity to see and hear how others’ dishes came out during my participation time.  I’m anxious about Indian cuisine…nervous and excited by turn.  I’m hoping to play along (it’s going to require more pre-planning on my part…that could get difficult!) for the whole 6 months and I’m trying to draft a friend who loves Indian to cook with me.  I’m looking forward to the new experience, and I have my cookbooks ready to go!

I♥CC: What’s in your lunch box a la Rick Bayless-Sopes~

20 09 2012

As we near the end of our time at the apron strings of Rick Bayless, I♥CC has selected “What’s in your lunch box?” as our theme of the week.  I don’t carry a lunch box very often these days, but this one is similar to one I carried to school back in the…oh, nevermind…  These days I scoot home because I live close enough and have an hour for lunch.  It’s not unusual for me to toss together a few things left from dinner the previous night, so sopes filled with leftover Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Herbs (page 278 of Mexico: One Plate at at Time), wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination.

I’m learning to love sopes.  I picked up a package when I visited the local Mexican market the other day and tried them again.  I’ve not been quite sure how to prepare them until I recently read one of Rick Bayless’ recipes about sopes.   What a fun little masa boat to float goodies onto your plate!  The first time I fixed them, I filled them with the a beef and potato filling that was a play off of the Pork and Potatoes taco filling I made a couple weeks back.  This time, I created a beef filling adapted from Rick’s Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Herbs, using beef chuck rather than short ribs.  I knew I was going to want filling for various “antojitos” for the rest of the week, and this recipe was perfect for that.  Slow cooked beef and roasted poblanos were enough for me, but I swapped out the short ribs (availability) for beef chuck chunks.

Fry the prepared but unfilled sopes in hot oil and fill the center with hot oil to cook as well.  Carefully tipping the pan to one side to pool the hot oil just a bit helps.  Fill the “well” in the center with a small spoonful of refried beans to act as food-glue, then spoon in your meat mixture, top with a bit of cheese, your favorite salsa, a dollop of sour cream or crema if your heart desires, and perk it all up with a squeeze of fresh lime.  Eat either out of hand or with knife and fork.

I didn’t look to Rick for a salsa recipe…  I’ve been making fresh salsa for so long, I just reach in the fridge and work with what’s available.  Rick’s recipe for Late Summer Salsa Mexicana is pretty darn close to what I do off the top of my head.

While one filled sope is just about enough for lunch, these little boats sail right on toward sunset to greet us at the dinner hour just as well.  Add sides of rice and beans, a salad if you like, and you have a full meal that is really filling.  We really enjoyed the recipe for the meat (I did everything else the same).  We’re very fond of poblano chiles to start with.  Mexican food has worked really well for us as we tend to eat Mexican style several times a week. I often cook a pot of some meat on the weekend that will fill in a few nights for us through the week.  Kind of pre-planned fast (home-cooked) food!  This has a nice, well-rounded flavor without being overly spicy.   I’m going to miss that fun pairing of our habits and our chef next month!