Archive for June 2010
Sometimes you don’t want a fussy meal. This is a simple combination of rice and tofu with tons of flavor. It is easy to put together and nutritionally enhanced by adding some edamame pods on the side. This is great both hot and at room temperature.
Make ahead infused oil:
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
- 1/4 cup szechwan peppercorn
Simmer the peppercorn gently for 20 minutes. Cool and strain. The oil can be stored for up to 6 month is refrigerator. Crush the peppers, add to equal amounts of your favorite salt and store in a tight jar. I use the peppercorn-salt mixture on edamame pods and salads. This infused oil is inspired by Barbara Tropp’s five flavor oil in China Moon Cookbook.
After eating Kathi rolls at Kasa, I was inspired to make this quintessential Calcutta street food at home. When you take on such a formidable challenge, you know you are not going to win. There is nothing I can do in my California kitchen that will replicate the experience of eating outdoors at one of Calcutta’s busiest streets. Neither can I hope to replicate the rich interplay between textures and flavors that the street vendors have mastered. When my father’s generation talks about eating out during their college days, they often reminisce about these mouthwatering rolls!
So what can I hope to achieve? I can definitely beat Kasa. I can make mine with healthy, fresh, organic ingredients, mindful of the calories and the nutritional balance. I can bring my experience with modern techniques to traditional Indian cuisine to create something healthy while preserving the authenticity of tastes and flavors.
There are several key aspects to a perfect roll – the paratha, the kabab and the chutney. These ingredients need to come together in a timely manner. The container that wraps the kababs, paratha, should be chewy and flaky. The filling itself, kabab, should be charred and juicy. The condiment, chutney, should create a taste explosion in your mouth.
Bright specks of green from the pistachios, chewy bits of candied ginger, heavenly aroma of cardamoms and the nutty taste of wheat – and no butter….. These biscotti go very well with coffee but if you want them Indian style, you must have them with chai.
Recipe for cardamom biscotti (makes 3-4 dozen):
- 270 gm whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 70 g shelled pistachio
- 70 g thinly sliced candied ginger (Trader Joe’s has an uncrystallized variety that is delicious)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
Beat the eggs and sugar together, add the remaining ingredients until a sticky dough forms. Refrigerate for 30 minutes as this will help shaping. Make into two logs and bake in a 350 F oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick. Bake further for 8-10 minutes without crowding. You may need to use more than one cookie sheet to accommodate all the biscotti. Let cool completely before storing.
I am sick of store bought bars – I don’t know what it is about them that makes them repulsive after one bite. So, I have been asking my husband to experiment with home made bars. The first one he made was David’s fruitcake bar with a minor modification – an added teaspoon of fennel seeds. It turned out delicious of course, perhaps a little crumblier than a breakfast bar and a little sweeter, but delicious all the same.
The next one he attempted was Clotilde’s banana chocolate breakfast bars. This turned out great as well. For some reason, we always seem to have overripe bananas at hand, so we have made the banana bar a few times already. The recipe is highly tweakable and easy to make. In fact we put together the last batch at the end of a 14 hr long work day! The basic idea behind these banana bars is to make a matrix of solids – oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chips and nut flakes, then make a gooey mix by adding in the wet components – mashed ripe banana. In the last batch, we added a dollop of chestnut puree. Yum! To avoid the bars from drying out, I wrap individual size portions in stretch plastic and store in airtight container in the fridge. It makes them easy to carry to work for breakfast or snack.
Over the last year, Kasa has grown in fame for their kathi rolls, chef’s London School of Economics pedigree, and their modern hip taqueria look at the intersection of Fillmore and Filbert. Last weekend, after a long walk through the neighborhood of Pacific Heights, we found ourselves at Kasa ready to chowdown on as many rolls as our stomach could hold.
Fillmore jazz festival is around the corner. There will be music, swing lessons, can’t forget the American Lindy Hop championships, and, inevitably, barbecue. Last year, I was at such a happy high after an hour of listening to swingin’ tunes from a time before my own that I forgot my usual wariness of San Francisco barbecue and bought a pulled pork sandwich from one of the food stalls lining the street. Even the thought of the pasty bread and the dry flavorless pork is probably killing a few neurons in the taste centers of my brain. But I have an alternative this time.