Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for August 2010

A slice of lemon on your pizza?

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Lemon, salami, roasted heirloom tomatoes, arugula pesto and goat cheese

Lemon, salami, roasted heirloom tomatoes, arugula pesto and goat cheese

After years of trying out all sorts of techniques, I have converged on a few basic aspects in pizza making – a) a soft and stretchy dough that is not a rubber mat but has sufficient elasticity to be hand stretched into a thin base, b) a 500-600F oven, and c) minimal but flavorful topping. Result is a chewy crust with a crisp bottom and rich flavors in every bite.

Some say that we should always eat whole grains. I agree, whole heartedly.  I have gladly swapped out white bread for wheat bread – thanks to Acme. There is no better chappati than whole wheat one. I adore whole wheat or buckwheat parathas and puris. I have cheerfully replaced white flour with whole wheat pastry flour in cookies and cakes.  I have even grudgingly swapped out regular pasta and white rice for whole wheat pasta and brown rice. But no whole wheat pizza for me. I have tried to swap out regular flour with white whole wheat, part whole wheat, part whole wheat pastry flour and I have failed to like them. So, my compromise – I don’t make pizza often and when I do, I don’t eat too much of it. If, however, you have to have whole wheat pizza, then give Heidi’s recipe a try.

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Written by Som

August 31, 2010 at 8:05 am

Urban adventure with ground cherries

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A ripe ground cherry

A ripe ground cherry

Cape gooseberry (Rasbhari in Northern India) is giant version of the ground cherryRasbhari is about the size of a kumquat and ground cherry is 1/4 that size. So giant is perhaps not the right description but you get my meaning. If you are living in India, you don’t think of rasbhari as uncommon. Seasonal yes, but uncommon no. In fact, during the season if you are stuck in slow moving traffic you will likely bring home a bunch from one of the numerous street vendors. But if like me, you travel to India, it is a treat like jamun. So, when my husband said in spring this year that he has found a source for ground cherry, I was naturally excited even if it meant growing from a seedling.

Ours came from Seed Saver Exchange. The rest was simple. Transplant, watch em’ grow slowly, very slowly.  These bushes start to fruit even when they are a meager 4 inches tall. Wait for the fruits to ripen and fall off the plant. Eat.

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Written by Som

August 26, 2010 at 3:17 am

Posted in Fruit

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Yogurt curry with spinach dumplings

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Yogurt curry with steamed spinach dumplings

Yogurt curry with steamed spinach dumplings

The yogurt curry is like  hot raita. It is tasty and when had with a bowl of white rice, is a light and easy to digest meal. The lovely yellow color comes from turmeric, a spice with anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory responses. An ingredient is this spice, called curcumin, is now being tested against Alzheimer in scientific studies. The nutrition in the meal comes from the steamed spinach dumplings.

Ingredients for the steamed spinach dumpling (6-8 servings):

  • A pack of frozen chopped spinach, microwaved for a few minutes until warm.
  • 3/4 cup of besan (de-husked black gram flour). Can be substituted with chickpea flour.
  • 4-5 pickled pearl/cocktail onions finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
  • 1 tsp lightly crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika

Mix the above ingredients to make a soft dough. Prepare your steamer – I use a bamboo steamer. Make small dough balls with your fist, shape is not terribly important, and steam for 12 minutes. Cool and chop into bite size pieces.

Cook’s reward: Pop  a few of these pieces in your mouth while you proceed with the rest.

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Written by Som

August 24, 2010 at 7:16 am

Wine notes: 2007 Domaine Albert Morot Beaune 1er Cru “Bressandes”

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Pinot noir from Beaune, Burgundy. Rich mouthfeel. Very dark berry. Very nice to drink but perhaps less interesting than the 2006 Domaine Fèry Savigny-lès-Beaune. This is the first cru wine of this summer.

KLWine Notes: More weight, with those chocolate notes that are classic for this vineyard, located on the north side of the band of Beaune 1er Crus, just above Beaune Greves.

PS: Not on a drinking binge. Just catching up with the note taking.

Written by Som

August 21, 2010 at 8:17 am

Wine notes: 2006 Domaine Fèry Savigny-lès-Beaune “Ez Connardises”

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Pinot noir from Beaune, Burgundy. Plummy. Not peppery. Earthy / forest floor / mushroomy nose.

From KLWines: This single vineyard Savigny comes from Connardises, a vineyard located right at the fork in the road as you come from Beaune and turn toward Pernand Vergelesses. It is a relatively flat site, directly below Lavieres 1er Cru, with deeper soils. The vines are over 80 years old in this plot, and the result is wine with fine structure and lots of concentration. Old vines such as this also respond brilliantly to the more natural viticulture instituted by Pascal Marchand. The result is a wine with no rusticity. Instead, the very old Pinot Fin vines yield fruit that makes a wine of finesse, structure and elegance, with notes of red plums as well a some blacker fruits.

Written by Som

August 21, 2010 at 7:42 am

Wine notes: 2005 Vincent Girardin Bourgogne Rouge “Emotion de Terroirs”

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A pinot noir from Meursault is an appellation in Côte d’Or. Screwtop bottle. Clean tasting pinot noir – light on the palate, rich berry, very peppery.

From KLWines: This cuvée comes 75% from Marsannay, 10 % from Gevrey Chambertin, and 15% from Bourgogne Rouge vineyards below Vosne Romanée and Chambolle Musigny.

Written by Som

August 21, 2010 at 7:30 am

Posted in Burgundy, France, Pinor Noir, Red, Wine Notes

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Desi style french toast

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Acme bread and egg with coriander, chopped green chillies, and shallots

Acme bread and egg with coriander, chopped green chillies, and shallots

Savory frech toast with Indian spices

Savory frech toast with Indian spices

I grew up eating desi style french toast. If we can improvise to create McAloo Tikki Burger, desi style french toast shouldn’t come as surprise. It is a savory version of the french toast with a touch of desi flavors.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 6-7 pieces of sliced baguette (3-4 cm across, 1/2 cm thick). Alternately use country style wheat bread.
  • 2 eggs (cage free, organic etc.)
  • Splash of lactose free 2% milk
  • 1 thai green chilli thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 2 tsp of coriander minced
  • 1/2 tsp of salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Shallots can be replaced with onion. If onion is sharp, soak chopped onion  in cold water for a couple of minutes before adding to eggs. Thai green chili can be replaced by de-seeded jalapeno if necessary. Addition of sugar makes this dish slightly sweet and mostly savory.

Beat the eggs, mix in milk, shallot, chilli pepper, coriander, salt and pepper. Soak 2-3 slices for about 2 minutes. Fry in 2 tsp of neutral oil such as canola and serve with ketchup or chutney.

All the goodness of french toast stays the same – creamy centers if using white bread or the chewiness if using country style wheat bread. The savory aspect of this is healthier. The ketchup adds to the umaminess. Every once in a while you will bite into a sliver of hot green chilli that will light a part of your mouth on fire – very invigorating in the morning. For a perfect breakfast, enjoy with a cup of hot chai.

Written by Som

August 19, 2010 at 7:22 am

Trio of preserves

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Jams and marmalades this season

Jams and marmalades this season

Black berry jam:
It is the end of the season here, and I picked up 2 lbs of blackberry at 1/2 the usual price!

Rinse, crush, and add 1 lb sugar. Add juice of 1 lemon reserving the zest. Cook on medium until candy thermometer reads 220 F. Switch off flame, add zest of the lemon and proceed to can.

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Written by Som

August 17, 2010 at 7:45 am

Homegrown la ratte potatoes

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Freshly harvested la ratte potatoes

Freshly harvested la ratte potatoes

This year’s potato crop is a bit of a disappointment. We got La Ratte seed potatoes from Seed Savers Exchange but the yield hasn’t been very encouraging. Perhaps the unusually cool weather is the culprit.

Slow cooked la ratte (serves 2-3)

  • 40-50 of the small potatoes (~ 1/2 lb) scrubbed clean but skin on
  • 2 Tbsp of European style unsalted butter
  • Fleur de Sel or other flake salt to taste

Melt butter in an omelette pan. Cover and cook the potatoes on lowest setting for 20-25 minutes. Pick up the potatoes with a slotted spoon and serve hot with sprinkling of salt. Typically, fleur de sel is used in this quintessential french recipe but I didn’t have it handy. The flesh is buttery and nutty. I found the skin a little peppery. Fantastic with a glass of chilled white wine.

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Written by Som

August 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Hungry planet: What the world eats and my weekly bounty

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My weekly bounty

My weekly bounty

For a few minutes every week, my weekly grocery is on my dinner table, waiting to be put away. It is a wonderful sight to behold in the summertime. What can be more glorious than a collage of nature’s bounty – multicolored zucchini, deep orange fleshed pumpkin, pastel colored melons, peppers ranging from purple to yellow, eggplants shaped like eggs and like elongated cylinders, potatoes shaped like fingers to ones shaped like grapes. And in Bay Area, owing to a large Asian community, I also bring home a large variety of different leafy greens, vines and gourds – when in doubt , I sauté with a hint of garlic and a dash of soy sauce. Aroma of fresh bread, popped corns, fermenting sauerkraut comingle to create a mini market on my table. Tomatoes are so juicy and plump that you want to eat them with a sprinkling of salt right then and there – and sometimes I do.

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Written by Som

August 11, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in San Francisco

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Guy Savoy’s Vegetable Gratin

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Vegetable Gratin

Vegetable Gratin

This is a vegetable gratin, similar to Thomas Keller’s ratatouille, except the bottom layer is that of melted onions – a sweeter and less umami version. I found some freshly harvested salad onions (spring onions with big white bulb) at the farmer’s market yesterday but you can use any onion. Thinly slice couple of large onions, toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Let rest while you heat the oven to 400 F. Put the onions in a large enough gratin dish such that the onions form a single layer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning the onions every 5 minutes. Let cool. You can fry the onions on stove top as well but I wanted to make a one pot dish.

Cut and layer vegetables (zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes) as in ratatouille dish. Brush top with vinaigrette and scatter thyme leaves. Bake in 250F oven for 1-1.5 hrs. If you are serving fresh made gratin, it is worth the effort to cut the vegetables thinly and brushing the top with olive oil every 30 minutes of baking. This allows the vegetables to become crisp.

Written by Som

August 10, 2010 at 7:29 am

Texas BBQ in San Francisco

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Brisket from Snow's BBQ

Brisket from Snow's BBQ

We figured that getting barbecue flown from Texas to California would be significantly cheaper than flying us from California to Texas. Voted the best BBQ by Texas Monthly Magazine in 2008 and written about in New Yorker, Snow’s BBQ, has been on our radar for a little over an year. We decided to get their customer favorite slow cooked brisket.

The 5-6 lb brisket arrived perfectly frozen with heating instructions and a bottle of their sauce. The very first thing I did was to thaw it partially, divide the meat into meal size portions and wrap each portion separately to store. Top flight barbecue is so rare in the Bay Area that this treat needed careful planning to get the last bit of chewy, meaty enjoyment from it. For the first batch, I followed heating instructions to the letter. But then proceeded to use my own technique. First I brought the meat to room temperature, and trimmed the fatty bits at the edges. I froze these bits for a use that I will get to later. I brushed the meat liberally with the sauce and broiled it briefly until a light glistening crust formed. And voilà, it was ready to eat.

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Taquerias – where vegetarians fear to tread

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Little Mexico in Bay Area

Little Mexico in Bay Area

Middlefield Road in Redwood city, somewhere between 5th Avenue and Douglas street is a little Mexican island. Unlike neighboring Palo Alto and Menlo Park,  here there are no cute million dollar homes. Instead, the street is barren of trees and populated by run down yet colorful stores, taquerias, roach coaches and body shops. There is never a lot of crowd on the street and on hot summer afternoons, the emptiness against the stark background is noticeable. When you do see people, you see teenage mothers pushing babies in carts, dilapidated older women in bling, and groups of men standing around in grimy T-shirts, chatting and visually undressing all women walking by.

What brings me here? Yes, the tacos. A plate of tacos is a small meal – it costs practically nothing and can slide in between your normal meals with perfect ease. The salsas excite your tongue, the fresh corn tortillas arrive charred and soft and, the meats here don’t stop at perfectly done carnitas and pastor. You can get tongue, head cheeese, brain, cheek, and tripe too.

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Written by Som

August 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Wine notes: 2008 Bourgogne Blanc

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This is our first of the sommelier (@KLWines) chosen wine, a chardonnay from Domain Roulot in Meursault, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy.

For the first sip, the overwhelming taste is crisp acidity and aroma is that of lemon. Quickly enough, the stone and mineral notes kick in. After a few sips, the dominant notes are of a dry, crisp wine with stone and mineral notes and stays so until the last sip. I suspect that the notes of citrus help with the sense of crispness till the end. We could not perceive crustacean notes or pit bitterness or nuttiness in this wine (see KLW notes for 2007 batch).

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Written by Som

August 3, 2010 at 7:58 am