Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This week is going to be fragmented... so I'm gonna post things one at a time. First, samosas. Sadly, in my haste to get them going after work, I hastily put them together without searching for the recipe that I have made that has turned out superbly in the past... I had wanted to blow some Indian minds at work. Another day.

For dough:

2 cups plain flour

3 tbsp. melted ghee

salt to taste

For filling:

1 cup cauliflower

2 cups potatoes boiled

6-7 green chillies (use less unless want mouth to hate you)

1 tsp. ginger grated

1 tsp. panchphoran

1/2 tbsp. coriander finely chopped

1/2 tsp. amchoor (dried mango) powder

1/2 tsp. garam masala

1/4 tsp. turmeric

salt to taste

1/2 tbsp. raisins

1 tbsp. cashew pieces

3-4 pinches asafoetida

No indeed - instead, I made them without the turmeric, raisins, cashews, asafoetida, panchporan or cauliflower. So they turned out a bit too spicy yet plain at the same time. Disappointing given the raving success of the prior try. That's what I get for rushing. These were still solid however and I will add that the accompanying lentils were divine!

Used red lentils - some sort of dal - butter and oil to brown the lentils, then added cumin, tomatoes (stewed), pepper and cooked some more, then just keep adding water and covering until the consistency that you want - about 30 mins for soft, mushy lentils. Soooo good!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pizza update

Finally a pizza worthy of the name:
I had tried so many times to make decent pizza at home - my own crust, I have a solid pizza stone, all to no avail until tonight!

This dough was from Fresh Direct - a solid crust. Rolled it out instead of tossing this time... and did so on baking paper with a bit of flour to avoid the tragic transfer to the hot stone that has happened far too many times.
Grilled sausage, onions, peppers, added some zucchini to one with some fresh mozzarella. The key I think to the success of this near perfect pizza was pre-heating the stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes - so it was roasting hot before the pizza ever got near it. The transfer went perfectly - used the parchment paper to transfer and then tore it off from underneath so the pizza just laid there - it can withstand that kind of heat. Oh how the crust bubbled perfectly, the cheese oozed and then browned and the toppings settled. I cannot explain how happy I am to finally have mastered the art of pizza making at home!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Korea, football and karaoke

This weekend was filled with lots of football and football-friendly food. I haven't actually watched that much football in probably 7 or 8 years in a single day... we had nachos, chicken strips, jalapeno poppers, leftover salad... it was all good but that much of anything can leave me a bit over-satiated.

We did start off the weekend with a bang - went to a little art gala opening of some friends that was quite posh, then down to Korea town and had some good Korean vegetable bibimbap (or at least I think that's what it was - vegetables and a little shredded beef cooked in a stone pot and brought to the table still sizzling hot with a raw egg served over the top - the condiments were lovely and varied from good kimchi to green beans to a fishy bean mix. After that we were off to the Korean karaoke bar at which Lan was celebrating her 30th - had a great time there. I accidentally picked Papa Don't Preach by Madonna without realizing that it was about a pregnant woman telling her papa that she's keepin the baby despite her father's objections about her mate...
Anyway, not much too crazy this week - I'm mostly interested in making a pizza with a decent crust with my pizza stone which has been resting for months and has rarely had what I would call true success.

Sausage and red pepper pizza with a side of roasted squash and carmelized onions
- we shall see about this crust; dough not from scratch so a little nervous about outcome

Lamb kebabs with honey spice glaze with tabbouleh and cucumber salad
- Going to use the grill for this one! The honey spice glaze I've used in the past is basically lemon, honey, paprika and a bit of chili powder or cayenne. I'm not the world's expert on bulgur so the tabbouli (apparently spelled multiple ways) could be a bit rough...

Quiche with ABA salad (Erin liked a lot) - see prior post for origin of ABA salad and recipe for quiche

Spaghetti carbonara with mustard greens and roasted carrots
- I use the basic recipe from the Silver Spoon - why mess with that... I think I actually do change it slightly but whatever.

Lastly, a brief word on the childbirth class, more to process my own thoughts than anything of interest to anyone else. It's a good class but a little hard in some ways. I know a lot about childbirth having gone to medical school and seen 100+ births through that and residency. And so when the teacher goes over basic stuff about birth, it's just a little hard to pay full attention despite her best efforts at making it interesting. At the same time, I know that many of my colleagues who have gone through a birth themselves have come out of the process having wanted things to go 'differently' than what actually happened. So I think there's certainly something to be learned, and I definitely have picked up things about being supportive emotionally through the process of labor that medical school did nothing for. One thing that was hard tonight was when someone would ask a question and she would defer that to a later class topic when I thought it was a fairly simple question that could have been answered - but it's not my class and she's the teacher so I stayed quiet. I'm going to try and find a way to be engaged and contribute though I don't know how that's going to work quite yet. I know Erin loves it but less so when she can tell I'm bored... perhaps I'll think of variations on the name for our son when he's finally born: combine Atticus with Henry and/or Will for Willicus or Hetticus. Or perhaps something more productive.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick addendum to last post

So the birthing class turned out to be quite good after all - I realized for one that having seen about 100 births means very little when it comes to the whole process because I have only been there for about the last 5 minutes or so of the labor... and everyone in the class is great - no weirdos.

The steak turned out spectacularly - just pepper and salt and on the grill after sitting for about 1hr. I love that grill... and tonight the Branzino!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dinner for the week of Sept 11

We start baby classes this week... I'm sort of dreading it and sort of looking forward to it at the same time. On the one hand, I'm excited to be entering this adventure of raising our son with Erin just like I am excited to do anything with her. On the other hand, I'm a little wary of other parents-to-be and their preconceptions and interactions with each other... it's a little hard to articulate what my hesitation is, and it sort of sounds a little snooty... in part I think it's that I actually do know much of the stuff that we'll be learning but mostly I think it's that I think the class will be full of weirdos... hopefully it'll be great!

to the food for this week:

ABA salad with garlic bread
- that's arugula-bacon-asparagus salad for the uninitiated... which would included me until we eat it... seems like a good idea.

Branzino all'Acqua Pazza with Seared Radicchio
- saute 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, lots of garlic in olive oil, then add parsley, basil, capers, tomatoes, salt and 1.5 cups water
- bring to a boil and then add sea bass cut into 3 inch pieces and reduce heat cooking for about 10 minutes without bringing back to a boil
- serve as a soup along with the radicchio (radicchio basically grilled with olive oil and served with shavings of parmigiano)

Chicken Burgers with Potato-Celery Salad

End of summer squash salad with steak
- this is a repeat from earlier in the summer because we liked it so much and now I get to use the grill for the steak! And we found out that our insurance will actually pay for our health care - so we're going nuts!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dinners for week of Sept 5

After looking at the menu items for this week, it all seems very southern somehow... minus the Falafel with Couscous... perhaps subconsciously warming up for a move to Texas with Erin's almost certain acceptance for school.

Catfish with greens and cheesy grits

- Catfish is good as long as its not overdone with spice, that's the problem I have with it served 'blackened' most of the time - all black, no fish. I'll try and take it easy... haven't made this one yet.

Fried chicken with corn, biscuits and greens
- Used a fairly simple recipe for this chicken and it is some of the best I've had... no lie. It's adapted from a recipe by Leah Chase, pictured below this recipe, one of the goddesses of Creole cooking. Surrounded by fried chicken living in Harlem, I feel some compunction to become at least competent in the craft. This recipe helped.

1. Salt and pepper chicken
2. Bathe in a mixture of 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and 1/2 cu water for about 5 minutes
3. Take the chicken and shake in a paper bag that has 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or whatever spices you want)
4. Important - let chicken sit for 10 minutes to dry while you heat the oil
5. Fry for about 10 minutes a side

Tortellini with roasted garlic and string bean salad

- I made a herb/butter dressing for the spinach tortellini which actually worked out pretty well: cooked some butter over low heat with garlic, then added thyme and fresh oregano at the very end...

Quice with salad
- Erin made this lovely dish that was a huge success: basically entails mixing cottage cheese (16oz), 2 cups cheddar and 4 eggs together then layering that with a spinach/onion mix and baking for about 30 minutes... delicious.

Falafel with raisin and carrot couscous
- Once again, Erin's star shone... she should really be posting these. The falafels were good but the real winner was the couscous: she cooked the carrots and raisins down before mixing in with the couscous in a splendid trick...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Biking, stews and baby stuff

This past week had a couple of very pleasant food surprises - both involving stews of one kind or another.

Peanut lamb stew
We went to African and American Best Food - a little restaurant around the corner that has always intrigued me mainly because of the clientele and only secondarily the smells. The people working in this bare yet somehow cheery establishment with lots of West African decor and a big Barack Obama poster on the back wall were some of the friendliest in New York. Just lovely, big smiling people - gave us a taste test of two stews: one peaunt-based and another tomato-based. The tomato had more spice and complexity, but I was in the mood for peanut... we ended up with a lovely chicken shish kebab with a great mustard sauce and a peanut-lamb stew that had spinach and carrot as part of the base. The sweet plantains were Erin's favorite, of course, and the whole experience was very welcoming and happy - we'll be back.

Shrimp and sweet potato stew with a carrot and turnip salad
- This was the first meal that we had after Erin's trip to Texas... I thought a stew sounded good and Erin loves shrimp and sweet potatoes, so I gave it a go. Turned out good I think although I would probably add more spice and make it more saucy with less chunks next time. Erin hated the salad - she apparently can't stand turnips (I parboiled the turnips and carrots, thinly sliced with a mustard vinagrette and still no luck). I will make the stew again though:
- 2/3 lb shrimp
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 5 new potatoes
- tomato sauce
- tomatoes
- garlic
- cumin
- cayenne
- cilantro
Basically boil the potatoes for 5-10mins, when done add to the pan with garlic, add sauce and fresh tomatoes, cumin, cayenne and finish with the shrimp for 5 minutes just before serving and the cilantro the same.

Otherwise, this weekend was perfect: we put together some baby stuff finally getting rid of the pile of boxes that was crowding everything. The 90 year old woman on the first floor who alternately calls me 'baby' or 'sampson' receives all of our packages out of the goodness of her heart and then I lug them up the stairs. It's a pretty good deal actually.

I biked around Manhattan (a 32 mile trip) in a little less than 2 hrs one morning. I tried to bet Erin the rights to give our son his middle name if I did it in less than 2 hrs - she claims that bet was never confirmed.