Spicy Veggie Quesadilla with Roasted Pepper Crema

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It was Mexican night at the Naik household this past weekend! We wanted something simple yet satisfying, and of course I just worked with ingredients that we already had on hand – was not about to venture out in the freezing cold for some nachos ya know. We decided on Quesadillas since we had a lot of tortillas on hand, and then just used some creativity.

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Spicy Veggie Quesadilla: 

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 large yellow/orange bell pepper – thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño – thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic – minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp habanero chutney (store bought) – optional
  • reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
  • reduced fat pepper jack sliced cheese
  • handful of coriander – chopped
  • PAM/Olive Oil

Roasted Pepper Crema: 

  • a little less than 1/4 cup of jarred Roasted Red Peppers
  • 2 tbsp fat free sour cream
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • splash of fresh lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sprinkle of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

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Quesadilla Filling:

1. In a medium skillet over medium flame, spray with PAM and add in a little olive oil just to lightly coat the bottom the pan. Add in the cumin seeds, allowing them to pop a bit. First add in the peppers, onions, and jalapenos. Saute for 30 seconds or so, then add in the minced garlic, habanero chutney, salt and pepper. Saute the mixture for another 5-8 minutes, until the veggies are slightly caramelized and cooked through by not soggy. Set aside.

Roasted Pepper Crema:

1. Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for salt. Place in a squeezy bottle (optional).

Assembly:

1. Take one tortilla, rip the pepper jack slice in half and place on one side of the tortilla. Place about 2-3 tbsp of the filling on that side of the tortilla, and spread evenly. Top with some chopped coriander, sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheese and fold over. Spray a skillet with PAM and place skillet over medium flame. Carefully place the quesadilla in the pan, and spray the top with PAM. Cook on both sides for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown, crisped, and cheese is melted. Place on a cutting board, cut in 4 wedges, and place on a serving dish. Drizzle with a generous amount of the Roasted Pepper Crema, top with Pico de Gallo (optional), and serve with a side of Guacamole.

 

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Open Faced Paneer Sandwich with Avocado Cream & Pomegranate

 

 

 

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We had a little family gathering this weekend, and instead of making the usual appetizers, I decided to create something with food/ingredients that we already had in the house. The day before my mom had made an Indo-Chinese paneer manchurian, and we had tons of leftover. I also noticed that we had  pau or Indian buns, pomegranate, and avocados. I wanted to combine these ingredients, so I kind of just threw all this stuff together, and it came out great! I think this recipe is great as an appetizer, lunch, or snack! You can also make different variations, like sub in mint instead of coriander, or use tamarind chutney instead of the avocado cream. Enjoy!

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Indo-Chinese Paneer:

  • 1/2 package paneer – crumbled
  • 1/2 white onion – finely diced
  • handful fresh coriander – chopped
  • red chili paste
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 loves garlic – minced
  • 2 dried red cayenne chilies

Avocado Cream:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of lemon zest
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Open Faced Paneer Sandwich:

  • 1 package Indian Pau Bread or 8 slices of white bread
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 Roma tomato – sliced into 8 relatively thin slices
  • 1 tsp chat masala (optional)
  • PAM Spray

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The Paneer:

1. In a medium saute pan, add in vegetable oil (about 1 tbsp), add the onions, garlic, ginger, and chilies. After about 2 minutes, add the paneer, red chili paste, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Saute for about 5-8 minutes, until paneer is softened and coated completely with masala. Taste for salt and seasonings. Remove from the heat, and add the fresh chopped coriander.

The Avocado Cream:

1. In a blender, add all of the ingredients, and blend until completely smooth. Place in an air tight container and in the fridge until ready to serve.

Open Face Sandwich Assembly:

1. Take the pau (or slices of bread), and using a small bowl or a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles – if using pau, cut each circle in half to create 1/2 inch thick circle pieces.

2. In a large pan, spray with PAM and place the circular pieces of bread in the pan and toast both sides until golden brown. When you take them out of the pan, immediately sprinkle with chat masala.

3. Dollop about 1 tbsp of avocado cream on each slice, top with a slice of tomato, then carefully top with a generous amount of paneer. Drizzle with more avocado cream and sprinkle with pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.

 

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Smorgasburg: Review

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A few weeks ago I went to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn for the first time! I’ve been trying to go for weeks, but never had the time. Finally, I was able to go with a few of my friends. We went to the Brooklyn Heights location and it was pretty cool! Set right by the Brooklyn Promenade, and if you’re a New Yorker, you know that the Brooklyn Promenade has awesome views of the city. Unfortunately, it was a humid and muggy day, so we weren’t really dressed appropriately for the occasion.

At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and food stands. We devised a plan to first scope out all of the stands to check out what foods were actually being sold. We quickly realized that everything was super expensive – minimum $4 for a drink and at least $6 for a food item – and all was cash only. Furthermore, we were all starving, so I wanted to make sure not to fill up on anything bad.

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Below is my review of Smorgasburg and some Quick Rates:

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 7
  • Beverages: 8
  • Service: -
  • Ambiance: -
  • Price: 4

Now to review each piece of food I ate (and I ate a lot…):

Jack’s Chedbred: http://www.chedbred.com/

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I think this was my favorite item of the day – for $2 he gives you a large piece of moist cornbread, topped with a corn crumble. I loved the taste – could’ve used more spice in the jalapeno, but overall very tasty. I think for $2-3 though he could’ve thrown in a flavored butter or something a an accompaniment.

Pizza Moto: http://pizzamoto.com/

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Good pizza, over priced. I believe we paid $13 for an heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pie, cut into 4 slices. Definitely nothing extraodinary – I wouldn’t go back for seconds (but I’m also a pizza snob, given that I’m from NYC, and Staten Island has some of the best pizza). The crust was good and I liked that they offered to drizzle EVOO on top when it’s fresh out of the oven. However, to make it stand out and for $13, they should offer cool ingredients, such as truffle, fruit toppings, different cheeses, etc.

Takumi Taco: http://tacotruck.marketmymarket.com/

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This was by far my LEAST favorite dish. For $5 you get 2 small soft-shell tacos. I felt that the flavors were bland, and I really didn’t like this Asian-taco concept. I feel that if you are trying to fuse two cuisines together, then there should be very distinct flavors from both. However, I didn’t feel any particular Japanese or Mexican flavors coming through. I also felt that for $5, they could’ve given some chips and salsa with it.

Schnitz: http://www.schnitznyc.com/

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This along with the Chedbred was my favorite. I loved that a traditionally eastern European meat dish, was made availible to vegetarians. It was called The Yonz. It was a delicious and soft pretzel roll, filled with a crispy squash and corn schnitzel, jicama-fennel slaw, and honey-siracha mayo. It was packed with flavor, and for $8, they give you a pretty large sandwich. I loved the food and the value.

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Scones with Caramel Drizzle

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What do you do with tons of leftover Halloween candy? Make them even better. I love scones – they’re easy, egg-less, and everyone loves them. You’ll probably notice that I have a few scone recipes on my blog, so this is just adding to the collection! Also, my new colleagues loved them :)

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Scones with Caramel Drizzle:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour + 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cubed Reese’s peanut butter cups – freeze for about 10 minutes prior to chopping, then place chopped pieces back in the freezer
  • 1 cup heavy cream – chilled
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter – chilled and cubed
  • Homemade Dulce de Leche – for drizzling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven 400 degrees.

2. Follow the recipe for my Sweetheart Cranberry Scones, but instead of adding cranberries, add the chilled cubed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly golden on the edges. Remove and cool completely before drizzling. Serve.

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Review: Thai Street Food Cooking Class with Connie Sun

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I recently left my job at VivaKi for a new opportunity. As I’ve mentioned in tons of other posts, I’ve become very close to my colleagues here and they are now my really good friends. As part of my several parting gifts, some of my friends surprised me with an awesome going away gift – a Thai Street Food Cooking Class at The Brooklyn Kitchen Labs in Williamsburg! I really wasn’t expecting anything, as they all treated me to a super fun going away party, so this was truly the icing on the cake.

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The class was scheduled during the last week of October, and actually happened to fall on the day of Diwali! Before I get into the details, here are some Quick Rates:

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 7
  • Beverages: -
  • Chef: 6
  • Ambiance: 8
  • Price: -*

*This was a gift, so I cannot rate the price

The setting/ambiance was pretty cool. The Brooklyn Kitchen Labs is set within the Brooklyn Kitchen supermarket in Williamsburg. In the back, they have a full service kitchen, complete with individual work stations and beer. I loved the look – it was industrial, but still had some traditional elements, especially in the kitchen area. One thing I didn’t like was the stove – it was electric. How can you have a cooking demonstration on an electric stove?! Must be a safety regulation, ugh.

We each had our own little work stations:

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Chef Connie Sun:

I have to say, she wasn’t the friendliest when we first met her – not really smiling, seemed like she didn’t really want to be there, and wasn’t very enthusiastic at all. While she was prepping everything for the demo, my friend and I had mentioned to her that I’m vegetarian and I was sorry that I didn’t inform them earlier. She seemed a bit annoyed about this (naturally), and her sous chef (didn’t catch his name unfortunately) was awesome, and brought in tofu from their market. Chef Connie Sun was nice enough to quickly marinate the tofu and provide me with my own pan, bowls, spatulas, etc to make the vegetarian equivalents to each dish. Although she was accommodating, it just seemed like she didn’t want to do it or be there. She didn’t properly introduce herself – I didn’t even know if she was self-taught, trained, owned a restaurant, etc. She just kind of got into the cooking. While I was making my tofu dish, I actually took the initiative to ask her if she owns a restaurant and what she does regularly. I found out that owned a catering company, a stand at Smorgasburg, and taught cooking classes. She was obviously very accomplished and knew what she was doing.

Appetizer:

Papaya Salad

Apparently they couldn’t find raw papaya, so they substituted it with mango. Except, the mangoes were too ripe – I asked them why they didn’t get raw mangoes instead, and they said they couldn’t find them. The salad was good and very easy to make, but I do wish the mangoes weren’t as ripe as they were, because they were beginning to get mushy. I also don’t think peeling a mango with a peeler as Chef Connie instructed us to do, is the best way to handle a mango. I must say, the salad was sweet, spicy, and a little sour and I really enjoyed it, especially the crunchy peanuts.

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Lettuce Wrap

This dish was originally made with seared flank steak (I think), but I used my marinated tofu for this. I think this was my favorite dish. I would probably marinate the tofu in something else besides soy sauce, but it was a very good dish nonetheless. Basically its sautéed tofu with toasted crushed jasmine rice, toasted sesame seeds, lime juice, palm sugar, coriander and mint. On a nice leaf of butter lettuce, you place steamed jasmine/basmati rice and top it with the sautéed tofu and top it with a Thai basil leaf. It was really good, but I would definitely make some sort of dipping sauce to go along with it.

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Entree: 

Drunken Noodles 

This dish was originally made with marinated pork, but I used my marinated tofu again for this dish. So I thought this dish was a bit boring, it was good, but it tasted very similar to the lettuce wrap. We used some Chinese broccoli and eggs in the dish, which I liked, but I definitely would’ve liked more of a variety of flavors and vegetables. But I loved that we made this, because it gives me some ideas on how I can make variations at home.

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Dessert: 

Coconut Rice

Okay, so I must say that this dessert was pretty anticlimactic. I thought we were going to making Mango-Coconut Sticky rice, but I was wrong. All the dessert was was steamed Jasmine Rice mixed with canned coconut cream, and drizzled with canned sweetened condensed milk and fresh cut papaya, mango, and pineapple and chopped fresh mint. I honestly wasn’t a fan, because I think I was just expecting something more authentic if that makes sense. I also was super full by the time we got to dessert, so I didn’t eat very much of it.

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All-in-all it was an awesome experience and I think it’s great for people who don’t get in the kitchen often. The ingredients were really high quality and I loved the environment. I thought it was a great class, I just wish Chef Connie was a little more enthusiastic.

 

 

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Sweet Potato Bisque with Crispy Leeks & Garam Masala

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I started my new job last week and found out that there are a ton of perks. One is being able to sign up for a bi-weekly organic vegetable delivery in the summer-fall months, and a percentage of the proceeds goes to charity. I actually don’t know all the details, but what I do know is that I can’t sign up right now, because it’s almost November. My boss was signed up for it though, and she received two large bags full of fresh and organic vegetables. Knowing that I cook, she graciously gave me a bag full of vegetables. I was obviously stoked and couldn’t wait to cook.

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In the bag was a full stalk of brussel sprouts, one large leek, 1 enormous green apple, 2 white beets, 1 white radish, and 3 super large sweet potatoes. This weekend, I decided to festive for the autumn season and make a Sweet Potato Bisque. I actually have never made a soup or bisque with potato, but I’ve tried a ton and know that I love it. I thought of making it on a whim, so I just used a bunch of ingredients that were already in my pantry.

The sweet potatoes and leek were beautiful, and I just wanted to highlight their flavors.

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Sweet Potato Bisque:

  •  2-3 large sweet potatoes – washed, peeled, cubed
  • 1 leek – washed, thinly sliced – reserve about 1/4 cup of this on the side
  • 1 medium white onion – diced
  • 1 small carrot – washed, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger – minced
  • 3-4 dried cayenne chilies
  • a little less than 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp fresh nutmeg – grated
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of red chili powder
  • about 1 tbsp jaggery or sugar in the raw
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • about 1/4 cup of fat free half & half or almond milk (if vegan)
  • handful of fresh cilantro – finely chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth – low sodium
  • 1 clove
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • couple tbsp vegetable oil
  • PAM Cooking Spray

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1. In a heavy-bottom pot, add 3 cups of vegetable stock/broth and the 1 clove. Place on low heat and slowly simmer.

2. Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, add the oil and butter. Add the onions, leeks, carrots, chilies, garlic, and ginger over medium flame and saute for about 2 minutes. Then sprinkle in the seasonings – garam masala, nutmeg, cinnamon, and red chili powder. At this point, I would also add in salt and pepper – I salted as I went. Saute for about 5 more minutes until onions and leeks are tender.

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Add in the cubed sweet potato and continue sauteing.

3. After a few minutes, add in the jaggery/sugar in the raw and some more salt. At this point, I would taste the back of your spoon. It should taste spicy, and balanced with a little sweetness. Add more salt if necessary.

4. Once the potatoes are slightly softer (they will still be very much hard), start ladling in the warm broth. Add in enough broth until all the veggies are covered (pretty much all of the broth). Make sure the flame is on about medium. You want to bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, until all the veggies and potato are completely cooked through. Spritz in a bit of lemon juice from the 1/2 lemon (making sure not to get any seeds in). Add in about 2 tbsp of the chopped cilantro.

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5. Lower the flame to medium-low and using a hand blender, blend the soup until halfway smooth. At this point add in the half & half/almond milk, and continue blending until completely smooth. Remove blender, and continue cooking on low.

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Taste the soup, and add in more sugar/salt if necessary. I added in a bit more jaggery at this point. Remove from flame, and serve warm garnished with cilantro and crispy leeks.

Crispy Leeks: 

  • Reserved 1/4 cup of chopped leeks
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle of fresh nutmeg
  • PAM/vegetable oil

1. After you’ve ladled in all the broth from the pot, add in oil/PAM and place over medium flame. Add in the chopped leeks and sprinkle with salt and nutmeg. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until slightly golden brown and crispy.

2. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain a bit of the oil and let cool.

3. Garnish the soup with this before serving.

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Spinach-Asiago Omelet

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I love making omlettes – they’re super easy to make, fast, and full of protein. I’ve been off for the past 2 weeks, as I’m in between jobs and was lucky enough to have some time off! I pretty much made breakfast every morning since I had the time to. I made a particularly delicious omlette one morning and I want to share that with you. I had some fresh baby spinach on hand and a block of asiago cheese. I decided to make a stuffed omlette, and figured the spinach and asiago would be a great combination – the asiago adds a salty and sharp bite while the leafy green spinach adds a fresh taste. I’ve also had Of course only egg whites.

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Spinach-Asiago Omlette:

  • 2 hefty handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 small clove garlic – crushed and minced
  • 1/4 white onion – thinly sliced into rainbows
  • 3 jumbo egg whites
  • 2 tbsp asiago cheese – sliced
  • 1 tbsp milk – I used whole milk
  • couple tbsp cilantro – finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Spanish Cayenne Pepper
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • PAM Olive Oil spray

1. In a small skillet spray with PAM and place over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and a little pepper. Once the onions become slightly caramelized, add in the spinach. Saute for a few more minutes until all of the spinach is wilted and cooked. Remove from the pan and place aside.

2. While the spinach is cooking, place the egg whites in a small bowl, sprinkle in salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and the milk. Whisk until blended well and it looks slightly creamy. Take the same skillet that the spinach cooked in, and spray with PAM. Place over low heat, pour in the eggs. Cook until the sides start turning white, and keep pushing in the eggs until all the runny portion is touching the bottom of the pan and is cooked. Keep doing that until most of the egg is cooked. Take the spinach and onion mixture, place in a row in the middle of the omlette and top with the sliced cheese and half of the chopped cilantro. Roll each side until you’ve created a burrito-like shape. Remove and carefully flip onto a plate. Top with remaining chopped cilantro.

Serve hot!

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Caramelized Onion-Thyme Foccacia

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I was surprised at myself when I realized that I had never made foccacia bread before! A couple of weeks ago we had out final ‘Bread-Off’ at VivaKi. It was our third and final ‘Bread-Off,’ as I left VivaKi just on Friday (yes, I’m very sad). We decided to do something easy, but still traditional in the sense of using yeast and allowing the dough to rise. That’s why we decided on foccacia. I had an idea on how it’s made, but after looking at a bunch of different recipes online, I ultimately created my own.

The base of this recipe only involves a few ingredients that I guarantee you already have in your pantry, so if you want to whip up a fresh batch tonight you most certainly can!

Oh, did I mention that I won the ‘Bread-Off’?! Duh! 1st place and we had an additional competitor! Went out with a bang :)

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Caramelized Onion-Thyme Foccacia:

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • about 1 tbsp fresh thyme – pulled from the stems and roughly chopped
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 large white onion- thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme – pulled from the stems and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • coarse sea salt
  • red crushed pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • coarse black pepper
  • a lot of reserved extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the dough:

1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, packet of dry yeast, and 1 tbsp sugar. Whisk until combined and set aside or about 15-20 until it activates and rises (you’ll smell it. I think it smells gross).

2. In a mixer with the dough-hook attachment, add the all purpose flour, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, thyme, and bloomed yeast. Turn on the mixer and stir until a smooth andlarge ball of dough forms – about 3-4 minutes. Remove and place on a floured surface. Knead a few times until its all one form – sprinkle a little more flour on it so it’s not sticking to the counter, In a large bowl (I found the largest steal bowl I had), drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, plop the dough into the bowl, turn around to thoroughly coat with the oil. Wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise. Let it sit and rise for about an hour. It should double in size.

While the dough is rising…

3. In a medium skillet, drizzle in olive oil to lightly coat the pan and add in the 1 tbsp of butter. Place over medium-low heat, and as the butter starts melting, add in the sliced onions and saute. Sprinkle in the thyme, red crushed pepper, 1 tsp sugar, black pepper and a little salt. Reduce heat to low, and saute for about 15 minutes until the onions are caramelized and lightly browned. Remove from the heat to cool.

3. Take a large cookie sheet, and pour a generous amount of olive oil into the pan, to coat the entire pan (about 1/2 cup). Place the risen dough into the oil pan. Stretch the dough out so it covers the entirety of the pan. Using your fingers, dent the foccacia all throughout – this gives it the texture and grooves that you normally see on foccacia, and also helps it rise. Once you’ve dented the dough, place in warm area to rise again for about an hour.

After 1 hour…

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Now that the dough has risen, we can top it with our caramelized onions. I used my hands to place the onions throughout the dough. Place in the oven and bake about 2-25 minutes, until golden brown and looks crusty on the edges. Remove, and while it’s still hot, sprinkle a generous amount of course sea salt all over the foccacia.

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5. Once the bread has cooled (after about 15-20 minutes), use a serrated knife and cut breadstick style pieces and serve immediately, or store in an air-tight container.

Delicious!

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Jalapeño Corn Bread

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It all started at work. A fellow colleague – who shall remain anonymous – of mine began to grow his own yeast and bring in fresh baked loaves of sour dough bread. Long story short, I challenged him to a bread bake-off, or what we like to call a ‘Bread-Off.’ The first week started off by baking your favorite loaf of bread and having our office mates assess each one and vote. We had a variety of accompaniments, including soft and hard cheeses from Murray’s Cheese and my own infused olive oil – Rosemary, Red Crushed Pepper, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and Fresh Garlic. My anonymous colleague baked his usual – a crusty loaf of sourdough and I baked a Rosemary & Cracked Black Pepper Brioche. Alas, the crowd spoke, and my anonymous colleague won the battle. SAD FACE.

I felt defeated and I do not cope well with defeat. For our next ‘Bread-Off’ I decided that it was only fair to decide on a type of bread, because our initial ‘Bread-Off’ was judged on a dissimilar scale – one was a traditional loaf and another was a richer and more dynamically flavored bread. This time around we agreed to each make a corn bread with at least one accompaniment. I figured it’s easy enough to make during a work week – no need to use yeast and wait for your dough to rise and I know that everyone loves corn bread (if you don’t, you’re a weirdo, or you’ve never tried it before).

Here were the contenders:

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Drum roll…..

Here’s is the winning recipe for the Corn ‘Bread-Off’!

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Jalapeño Corn Bread with Cilantro:

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 3/4 all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs – room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk – room temperature
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter – melted
  • handful of cilantro – thoroughly washed, dried, and finely chopped
  • 2 shallots – minced
  • 2 jalapeños – minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • PAM Cooking Spray

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 8 inch square baking pan with some butter and PAM spray. Set aside.

2. In a small skillet, add olive oil and place over medium flame. Add in the minced jalapeños and shallots. Sprinkle in a pinch of coarse sea salt and coarse black pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, until softened and slightly caramelized. Remove and let cool.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients – corn meal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients – eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Do not over mix.

4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir light to combine, but before everything is incorporated, add in the cilantro and jalapeno-shallot mixture. Stir until everything is just combined – do not over mix. Dough will be thick. Pour into greased pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Cut into squares and serve with butter and honey (see below).

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Roasted Garlic Butter:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter – at room temperature
  • 1 head of garlic – top trimmed off
  • 2 heaping tsp of coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • pinch of chili powder
  • few sprigs of fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole head of garlic in foil and drizzle with olive oil and close the foil around it to create a packet. Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until completely tender and the garlic can be squeezed out. Set aside to cool.

2. In a blender/food processor, add all of the ingredients – squeeze half of the head of garlic into the blender, making sure not to get any of the garlic skins into the blender. Blend until smooth and taste.

3. Place in a container and wrap with plastic and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cinnamon-Clove Honey:

  • 1/2 cup good quality honey
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 clean and dry mason jar

1. In a small pan, toast the cinnamon and cloves until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Place in the mason jar. While the spices are still warm, pour in the honey and sprinkle in the ground cinnamon. Mix until blended well, and cover with the lid. Place in a cool dry place.

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Tofu 65

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There is a classic Indian dish from South India called Chicken 65. What is it and why is it called Chicken 65 you ask? Well, its traditionally made with spicy Kashmiri chilies, curry leaves, and lots of mustard seeds and with young chicken that’s about 65 days old – I KNOW it’s terrible and I’m totally against it. What I love about the dish though is the spice, color, and overall explosion of yumminess that it creates in your mouth. I decided to recreate the dish with a much friendlier ingredient – tofu.

I would like to also mention that this dish was created in another attempt to steer carnivores away from the idea that they constantly need meat. Let’s just say – this worked.

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Tofu 65:

  • 1 package firm tofu – thoroughly drained, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt – I used organic full-fat yogurt
  • a few heaping tbsp of my Kashmiri Chili Powder: http://www.chefpriyanka.com/watermelon-feta-salad/
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4-5 heaping tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger – minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 red onion – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves
  • 1-2 dried Kashmiri Chilies
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro – chopped
  • vegetable oil

tofu65_3

1. In a bowl, add the yogurt, Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, 4 cloves garlic, 1 inch piece of ginger, salt, and pepper. Stir and taste to see if it’s spicy and saucy – it’s supposed to taste really spicy and salty, not overly salty though. Add in the tofu and toss until all the pieces are well coated – be gentle, as we don’t want the tofu to break up. Then add in the cornstarch and lightly toss until all the cubes are coated. Cover with plastic and place the fridge to marinate for 2 hours or even overnight. I marinated mine for about 6 hours, because I wanted all the flavors to seep into the tofu.

2. In a large heavy pan, pour in the vegetable oil until theres a generous coating. Place over high heat and add in the mustard seeds, chilies, and curry leaves – they will start popping so be careful! Add the garlic, ginger, and onions and saute. Then add in the marinated tofu – be careful might splash a bit. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the tofu is cooked through and slightly crispy on the outside – the cornstarch is what will make it crispy. Once the dish is a deep red color, and the tofu is cooked through, taste for salt and pepper. Remove and place in a serving dish, and immediately top with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.

3. Serve with white basmati rice, naan, chapathi, or on its own!

Enjoy!