Paneer Stir Fry

After making the paneer palak, I had some of that marvelous Indian cheese left over, so I made this. Absolutely delicious! I think frying lightly in ghee (clarified butter) really brings out the flavor of the cheese.

I started with this recipe, then diverged to the following:

Food process until chopped:
1 serrano pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 large shallots
1 TB grated ginger

Fry this mixture in 1 TB olive oil or ghee until becoming golden.
Add the spices & stir:
1 TB garam masala
1 scant TB turmeric
1 TB cumin
1 tea red pepper flakes

Meanwhile, cut paneer cheese into bite size pieces. Heat 2 TB ghee (clarified butter, you could substitute oil, but it won't taste the same) in a pan. Carefully and gently fry the paneer in batches (don't burn yourself like we did!). Don't burn it, it tastes best when golden brown. Set aside.

Add sliced/cut veggies and 1/4 C raw cashews to the shallot/garlic/serrano pepper mixture and stir to combine. Add a water as needed to create a thick sauce. Cover and cook until veggies are soft.

Stir in fried paneer and a couple TB plain yogurt or milk to make the sauce more creamy. Taste and season with salt (you can also add salt at the table, so go easy. Heat through and serve over rice with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.


Palak Paneer (Spinach and Indian Cheese Curry)

This is one of my favorite restaurant meals, so I decided to try it at home to mix up our normal curry routine.

I referenced a New Seasons recipe flier and this book, ending up with this concoction. Delicious!

You'll need to buy paneer cheese from an Indian grocery (sometimes Whole foods or New Seasons carries it, but at a higher price than the Indian grocery). Also try to get ghee if you can, it is made from butter, but tastes ooh so much better than butter, and is great dripped over vegetarian curries like this one.

Part 1: Spinach/Greens
If you are using frozen spinach, you may be able to skip this step...

Prep 1 large bunch spinach or greens by washing (I used red spinach-- pretty, but added a strange red color on my curry). Heat a large pot filled with 2 inches of water to boiling. Place a bowl of ice water near the boiling water pot.

Dip bunches of spinach or greens into boiling water until wilted (30-60 seconds). Don't let it cook too long or it will become an ugly grey color. Pull the spinach out with tongs and dunk into ice water (preserves color). Repeat until all spinach is wilted and cooled.

After cooled, drain spinach in colander. Reserve spinach water for adding to spinach as you puree. Cut stalks off greens and puree in food processor. Reserve spinach until later.

Part 2: Paneer
Open paneer cheese package. Cut into small squares. You can lightly fry or leave it raw.

Part 3: Onions & Spices
Process finely:
1 small onion
1 jalapeno pepper
1 Indian/Thai red pepper
(very spicy so be careful, don't touch with skin)
1 TB grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic

Add the above pulp and the following into a pan and heat until turning slightly golden:
3/4 tea cumin seeds
3/4 tea fennel seeds
7 whole cloves
1/4 tea caradmom seeds or use 7 caramom pods

Then add a pinch asafetida.

Now add the pureed spinach and stir until combined. Add 1/2 C milk and stir. Carefully add 2 TB plain yogur, stirring so it doesn't curdle.

Add paneer cubes (raw or fried) and stir gently. Cover and simmer until combined and warmed.

Serve with a dripping of ghee(clarified butter) and coarse salt to bring out the flavors.


Broccoli Crunch Salad

I never knew I could eat or even enjoy raw broccoli. But this salad changes all that.

I ate a salad like this from Whole Foods, then found a similar recipe in this gluten free cookbook.

This is really simple to make, and I'm sure it tastes even better after sitting and soaking in the fridge for a few hours. Perhaps a potluck recipe- just double or triple.

Dressing for Raw Veggies
Mix together in a large bowl:
1/3 C mayonnaise (yes, believe me mayo is good in this)
1-2 TB milk or rice milk, to thin out the dressing
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB cider or red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes

Now this will taste a little too sweet if you lick the dressing mixing spoon. No worries though, it is perfect when you add the veggies.

Broccoli Crunch Salad
Toast or candy some nuts, I used 1/4 C cashews in this case.

Toss the toasted/candied nuts in a large bowl with:
2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets (or 1 head broccoli and 1 small head cauliflower)
1 small onion (red or yellow)

Add some optional Salad items:
slices of red pepper
fried bacon, crumbled

Drizzle the dressing over and stir until the sauce is soaking into the broccoli. Viola!


Dandelion Greens with Apple, Pumpkin Seed, Goat Cheese and Maple Dressing

Saw some beautiful red dandelion greens at the farmer's market and just couldn't resist. I heard they were slightly bitter, so I paired them with sweet red apples and a sweet maple dressing.

Maple Dressing
Combine in a small jar with a lid. Close and shake until emulsified. Drizzle over salad.
2 TB olive oil
1-2 TB good maple syrup
1 tea rice vinegar/mirin
(you could probably sub apple cider vinegar)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of cinnamon

Dandelion Greens with Apple, Pumpkin Seed, and Goat Cheese
First toast 1/4 C pumpkin seeds in a little bit of olive oil over medium high heat. You can add a sprinkle of black pepper too. Remove when seeds start to pop.

Cut goat cheese into 1/4 inch slices. Dip in olive oil, then a little bit of bread crumbs. Fry quickly and remove. It may help to chill or slightly freeze the goat cheese slices before frying- you don't want them to melt in the pan!

Add in a bowl:
2 C washed and chopped red or regular dandelion greens
1 apple, thinly sliced

fried goat cheese slices
toasted pumpkin seeds

Drizzle maple dressing and serve.


Butternut Squash: Goat Cheese Adventures

Who knew an elegant dinner entre could be so easy? Squash is in the markets now, so grab many varieties now and cook with them through the winter. My favorites are butternut, acorn, and kabocha, but I'm sure there are many others out there I'd like too.

First are some general squash ideas, then the recipe for the photo.

Tammy's Basic Squash Prep

Since cutting raw squash is a difficult and dangerous chore, prick the skin with a fork and microwave for a minute or two. It will soften the squash up and make it easier (and safer) to cut.

Cut the squash in half or quarters. Remove the seeds with a spoon. Spray or spread olive oil over the cut surfaces. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and other spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, sage....).

Cook in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes or until roasted on outside and the flesh easily pierced with a fork.

At this point the squash is pretty darn tasty. You can add anything to the pit where the seeds were: cheese, marscapone, rice pilaf, nuts and raisins...

Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese
Using method above, cut and roast 1 butternut squash. Use black pepper, salt and a light sprinkle of nutmeg.

Roast for 30 minutes.

Top with herbed goat cheese slices and serve.

Wild Rice Pilaf in Pressure Cooker

Add in the bottom of pressure cooker and stir over medium heat until melted:
2-3 TB butter (or olive oil)
1 TB garlic, minced
2 small onions (or 1 large onion)
cut into medium-small pieces
1/4 tea mustard seeds

Then add 1 C brown and wild rice mix and 1/4 C wild rice and stir to toast.

Add 1/8 tea turmeric and stir until combined.

Add the liquids, stir:
1/2 white wine
1.5-2 C water
1 TB olive oil

Close the lid of pressure cooker and cook on high pressure (i.e. bobber top jiggling) for 20-25 minutes. Use the "fast release" method (remove pot from stove, surround with cold water, wait for cooker to unlock and then remove lid).

Stir the rice to combine, add 1/4 tea salt. Plate with shredded parmesan cheese or raisins.

Eggplant with Miso Sauce (Nasu no Dengaku)

This is one of my all-time favorite Japanese dishes. Succulent eggplant, lightly fried to soft perfection, with salty/sweet miso sauce dripping down the sides.

The dengaku sauce keeps for a week or two in the fridge and works well on meat, veggies and tofu.

Eggplant Prep
With a few tricks, eggplant is really easy to tame. The Japanese soak cut eggplant in salted water (and pat dry before use) to remove the bitterness. This is my preferred method as it doesn't leave the vegetable too salty and is easy.

Using the correct variety of eggplant is also important. The bulbous eggplant sold in normal grocery stores has a different texture and taste than Japanese (or Chinese) eggplant. The Japanese eggplant is long and skinny, like a cucumber. This reduce the amount of seedy flesh inside (compared to the bulbous American variety) and I think it tastes better.

1. Slice the eggplant into 1.5 to 2 inch lengths. If the width of your eggplant is larger than 2 inches, you could cut it in half or quarters to make it mouth-sized.
2. Carefully slice multiple incisions in the skin of the eggplant. This allows the flavor to enter the cut 'fins' and reduces chewey-eggplant-skin syndrome.
3. Stick the pieces in salted water (1 tea to 1-2 C water ?) and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
4.Pat dry before using

Miso Sauce (Dengaku)
Combine in a small saucepan, over LOW heat (don't simmer miso, it breaks down the healthy stuff or so I've heard):

1 TB dark miso paste ("hatcho" miso is named for the locale it originated, it is a dark purple color and has an intense flavor. Dark miso is imperative for the flavor of this sauce)
2 TB light miso paste
2 TB mirin
("sweet cooking wine", or just buy the bottle labeled "mirin" at WinCo)
1/4 sake
1.5 TB sugar
(white granulated)

Stir over low heat until the miso melts into a consistent sauce. Add 1 tea sesame oil and stir until combined. You can serve the sauce warm over fried eggplant, fresh tofu, fish or even steak.

Fried Eggplant with Miso Sauce
Once you have the sauce ready, start heating about an inch of oil in a small pan.
Once heated, put a few eggplant slices in the hot oil and fry until starting to brown. Blot with paper towels and continue until all pieces are cooked.

Plate with a drizzle of miso sauce and serve.



Blend well (de-clumpify):

1.5 C milk (rice milk is particularly good, very nice smooth texture)
1 C flour
2 eggs
2 TB sugar
1 TB oil (canola or olive oil)
1/8 tea salt (like a pinch)
1 tea vanilla

Heat butter in skillet until bubbles (hot). Try test crepe to see how hot skillet it.

When hot, pour ¼ cup or less of batter at a time and cook until set, then flip and brown.

Serve with jam, chocolate chips, peanut butter, berries, maple syrup & almonds...


Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I got this recipe out of a pretentious cookbook and I will say I was pretty skeptical of the detail in the recipes. But the cookies are good, so perhaps I will try the other recipes in the book. Thanks to my friend at LorisanCooks for leading the baking crusade today!

The next time I make this, I will use less chocolate chips (the original recipe had over 2 C of chocolate chips!), crank up the coconut to maybe 1 C and add a tea of coconut extract. I might even toast the coconut first.

Food-process 1/3 C whole oats into "fine bits"(their words, not mine!!), set aside.

Melt 5 TB butter and cool in the fridge for later.

Whisk together in medium bowl:
2 C + 3 TB flour
1/2 tea baking soda
3/4 tea salt

Cream together in mixer:
1 stick softened butter (separate from the melted butter above)- I just microwave the stick, paper and all for a few seconds at a time in the microwave until it gets squishy in the middle

Then add:
1.25 C brown sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 TB vanilla extract
cooled melted butter from above

Blend in 2 eggs.

By hand, fold in:
processed oats from above
whisked flour mixture

Then add:
2/3 C coconut flakes
1 C chocolate chips

(see note about decreasing chocolate chip to 3/4 C and increasing coconut flakes to 1 C)

Drop large spoonfulls onto baking sheet, cook for 13-18 minutes at 350 F. They should look not-quite-done when you pull them out, and they will finish cooking on the pan outside the oven.


Spinach Salad with Shrimp, Toasted Hazelnuts, Micro Greens & Tzatziki Sauce

I pulled together ingredients from the fridge to make this delicious salad. Shrimp cooks quickly and is scrumptious with a quick (10 minute?) marinade before pan sauteing.

My grandmother's dear friend has a 'filbert' orchard, so we always have plenty of hazelnuts around! Toasting in a small pan doesn't take much time (just shake here and there) and brings out the flavor of the nuts.
Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts &
Place 1/2 C raw hazelnuts in a dry pan over medium high heat. As the pan heats up, shake the pan to toast nuts evenly. Once they are slighty toasted in color and releasing an aroma, take off heat. Chop and use over the salad.

Wash 2-3 C baby spinach. Combine with micro greens (I got mine at Trader Joes, just check the expiration date) and toasted hazelnuts.

Tzatziki Sauce for drizzling over salad
I got the idea from this recipe on Epicurious. I made mine the day before, while waiting for last night's dinner to cook. It keeps in the fridge, or you can freeze some for your next batch of falafel.

Chop with the 'ninja star' food processor blade:
1 cucumber (reserve a chunk for the end for a chunky texture)
5 sprigs dill 1 shallot 2 cloves garlic 1/4 of a red onion

Then add & mix:
1 cup plain yogurt, I like Nancy's plain honey yogurt, made in Springfield Oregon
2 TB lemon juice
1/4 tea cracked anise seed (sounds strange but it works)
1/4 tea red pepper flakes pinch of salt

Quick Garlic Pepper Shrimp
Mix together in a dish large enough to hold shrimp
olive oil
1 -2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tea salt
(this helps the garlic bind to the shrimp or something)
sprinkling of black pepper
1/4 tea Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 tea red pepper flakes

Add shelled raw shrimp to the marinade and let sit at room temp for 10 minutes. You can prep the salad while it's marinating.

Heat a pan with a tiny dab of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and shake the pan. Use a spoon/spatula to flip the shrimp over. Keep shaking the pan to cook the shrimp evenly. Sprinkle more black pepper over shrimp, and add a pinch of mustard seeds. Take off heat when shrimp is done (be careful not to overcook).


Japanese "American Style" Salad & American Clubhouse Restaurant

While in Japan, I learned to love several new food things. Surprisingly, many of them came from an "American" restaurant, the American Clubhouse in Toritsu-Daigaku neighborhood. They are known for their ribs, which converted me from a rib-hater to a rib-lover. Seriously, crunchy salty soy sauce exterior on succulent marinated rib meat.... simply heaven. The American Clubhouse is also known for its amazing "appuru pai" (apple pie) which is more like apple tart in phyllo pastry dough- another favorite!

First off, Japanese "wafu" salad dressing is amazing. Salty, rich, and amazing over spinach. I had no clue how easy it was until my host mother told me "it's just soy sauce and sesame oil".

Wafu Dressing
1 part soy sauce (low sodium is my choice)
1 part sesame oil ('toasted' if you can get it this way)
Sprinkle of black pepper

Combine in a container and shake until the oil and soy sauce are emulsified. Drizzle over greens, especially spinach.

At the restaurant, they combine bacon, almonds, spinach and some version of wafu dressing. Delicious!

My version had thinly sliced red pepper added to the mix, and romaine instead of spinach.

4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now you may be thinking, 4 ingredients?? But seriously, these are good. Sugary with 1 C sugar, as my tasters noted, but good and easy. This is the one cookie recipe I can remember in my head, so it is a perfect traveling recipe!

Make sure to use smooth peanut butter- peanut chunks are out of place here. I found out the hard way on this batch.

1 egg
1 C brown sugar
(or less, and you can sub in some almond meal/flour for consistency)
1 C peanut butter (smooth)
1/2 - 1 C chocolate chips

Drop in globs on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes in a 375 F oven.

They will seem uncooked, that is perfect. Just let them set on the sheet. They taste best when cooled, so don't eat the whole batch hot!

Pesto, Caper & Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza

This was an experiment that turned out to be one of my favorite pizzas. I used the bread machine to make the pizza dough, stretched it out and slathered it with my friend's amazing home made pesto!

I used a generic bread machine dough recipe, but when I have time, I really want to try this pizza dough recipe. If you've tried it, let me know if it is as good as the picture looks!

Topped with a scant amount of mozzerella cheese, capers (rinsed), mushroom chunks, and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained of oil), this was a perfect Italian treat.

Leek & Potato Soup

This was amazing comfort food for after the VP debate (which was not as exciting as I had hoped!) . It is really simple if you have a food processor and a pressure cooker. I saw beautiful leeks in the market, so I had to do something with them!

Leek & Potato Pressure Cooker Soup
Adapted from this recipe

Combine in the pot of the pressure cooker (i.e. no lid on yet) and cook for 5 minutes:
1/4 C butter (or olive oil for vegans)
3 cloves garlic, minced or from a garlic press
3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced in food processor

Add olive oil as necessary to keep the leeks from sticking to the pan.

Add & stir, cooking for 2 minutes:
3 small red potatoes sprig of rosemary 1/4 tea ground black pepper sprinkle of white pepper

Stir in, then lock pressure cooker lid and cook for 8 minutes:
1/2 C white wine (I like to cook with sauvingon blanc)
1.5 C veggie broth (look for broth without msg or "yeast extract")
1 C water

After 8 minutes in the pressure cooker, remove from heat and release pressure (see your manufacturer's guidelines). Scoop some soup into the food processor and gently pulse a couple times to make a soup consistency. Add back into the soup pan with the rest of the soup.

Put the soup back on the heat to warm. Stir in 1/4 tea salt (or to taste). Serve with a sprinkle of paprika for garnish and color.