Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Murgh Musallam (A Curry)

If you're an Indian food fan, you know it's tough to make it at home...really tough. There is just a certain amount of umami that it is impossible to purvey without a tandoor and some Hindu magic.


This one is pretty good. Yes, you need a bunch of spices, but if you head over to your nearest Indian market, you can find them for pretty cheap. Keep them in zip-lock bags, in a Tupperware container, in a dark cabinet--yes, that sounds like Storage Inception, but trust me. It's a necessary step to keep the flavor (and the powerful smell) from drifting out of the pantry. Try to get whole spices rather than ground ones. The whole ones last a few years. Ground spices start to lose their flavor and "pizzazz" over the course of a few months. 

Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh pepper
1/2 cup curd or plain yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 onion chopped
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
6 chicken thighs, on the bone

Ingredients for Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1.5 large onions (finely chopped)
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 tsp roasted coriander powder
-2 tsp. salt
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 lb crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups water

3 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
1/2 tsp saffron strands
1 tsp garam masala powder

1 Day Ahead:

Combine chicken and marinade in a zip-lock bag or Tupperware container. Shake really well until well covered. Let sit in the fridge for 24 hours. 

To Cook:

-Preheat the oven to 400F.

-Pan sear the chicken (and any remaining marinade) in a large, tall-sided pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with some olive oil. Brown on all sides and remove from pan. 

-Add butter to the same pan. Once melted and bubbling, add 1 of the chopped onions, turmeric, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and SALT. Saute until softened and golden, about 7 minutes. 

-Add the tomatoes, Greek yogurt, and chili powder to the pan.

-Mash or blend the last bit of onion with the cumin seeds until it forms a paste. Rub this all over the chicken pieces and lay them in the sauce. 

-Pour over the water, cover with a lid, and place in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F. 

-Sprinkle over the cilantro, saffron, and garam masala before serving.

-Serve chicken with lots of sauce, basmati rice, naan bread, and some Bollywood!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dark Chocolate Mint Cake

I made this amazing cake again today, and it is so delicious! I decided to post the recipe again here and incorporate the pictures from this time, as well as a few revisions. 

Dark Chocolate Mint Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Butter Cake): 
Makes one 3 layered 9 inch cake 

3 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder 
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs 
1 1/2 cups of  cooled coffee, minus 2 teaspoons
2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup Andes Mints, crushed into small pieces (plus more for decorating)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 9 inch, round cake pans (or 3 8 inch square pans). Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Whisk the eggs, coffee, and peppermint, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition. Stir in the Andes Mint pieces. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans; each pan will take about 3 1/4 cups of batter. 

4. Bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. Remove the paper liners only when they are cool.

While the cakes are cooling (or while they are cooking) work on your frosting.

Swiss Buttercream Frosting Recipe: 
Base to which you add the ingredients listed on the cake recipe of  your choice

2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
52 tablespoons butter, softened (6 sticks plus 4 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

2. Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size, and looks like marshmallow fluff, giving you pretty stiff peaks. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.) 

3. Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and blend forever. It will take a good few minutes of whipping for it  to start looking like frosting. At first it will look  curdled, once you have added in all of the butter, but never fear!!! Keep on whipping for a good 5-7 minutes and it should all come together looking the texture of whipped butter or mayonnaise. Add the flavorings you need...

 (The ugly curdled-looking stage)

(The pretty final product!)

-1/3 recipe of Swiss Buttercream frosting with 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and green food coloring to make a light green/minty color.

-2/3 (the rest of the recipe) of Swiss Buttercream frosting with 2 squares of Baker's dark chocolate (melted and cooled slightly).

Putting it together:

1. When cool--absolutely room temperature, it's time to put the layers together. 

2.Set your first layer of cake on your cake stand--if you've got rounded tops, you may want to even those out with a good bread knife. Spread your mint Swiss Buttercream filling onto the first layer, being sure to keep a half inch border around the cake free of frosting. This way, when you press the layers down, icing won't spill out the sides. 

3.Place on your second layer of cake and press down. Make sure it's even on top. Fill this layer and add on the final layer of  cake and press down to make the top as even as possible.

4. Finally, it is time to frost the cake using your Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Frosting. Here is a video that explains the best way to frost a cake. It would be too difficult for me to describe in writing. You don't have to make your cake super smooth, like this person does, but the basic method of frosting the cake is really easy to follow.

5. Press crumbled Andes Mint pieces around the sides of the cake (an optional touch!). 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

French Toast Bread Pudding

This is probably one of the easiest, most delicious, low-maintenance holiday breakfast foods ever invented. That should be reason enough to try it! You can experiment with different types of bread (I've used really fancy challah bread from an organic bakery, and I've also used a three day old Wal-Mart bakery loaf). All will yield delectable results.


-1 large loaf of bread (some say it should be stale, frankly, I don't think it matters whether it's stale or not)
-1 cup finely diced apple (a sweet one like Gala or Golden Delicious)
-1/2 cup golden raisins
-3 eggs
-3 cups of milk
-2 cups of cream or half and half
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tsp. cinnamon

For the top:
-1/3 cup sliced almonds
-3 tbsp. butter, diced
-1/4 cup brown sugar

1. Break up your bread into 1-2 inch pieces. If you are a very precise sort of person, you can cut it in cubes with a bread knife. Place in a large bowl with apple and raisins.

2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Blend in sugar, milk, cream, and cinnamon.

3. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture and stir to coat all of the bread.

4. Butter a 9x13 baking pan, and pour in your bread pudding mixture. Sprinkle the almonds, butter, and brown sugar over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight (or at least 6 hours) to let it really absorb all of the milk.

5. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden and the butter is all absorbed.

6. Serve with syrup, honey, jam, or just eat it on its own!