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Fried Green Tea Ice Cream

 

greenteafriedicecream

Isn’t this beautiful? Mine looked nothing like it.

 

 

I learned the hard way that this is something best ordered in a restaurant.

My daughter loves green tea ice cream–personally, I think it tastes like sweetened seaweed, but that’s actually good news for me.  I can stock up the freezer with abandon for her and I have absolution no temptation to indulge.  She asked if I would make fried green tea ice cream for her in lieu of a  birthday cake last week.  While I personally pined for what would have been a delicious, buttery, layered delight, frosted with chocolate ganache, I recognized that it was not my birthday, so I googled “green tea fried ice cream”.  I found this recipe and I marched forth.

greenteaicecreamballs

The initial phase was simple enough–I formed the green tea ice cream into balls and froze them for several hours.  (the recipe had you mix matcha green tea into store-bought vanilla ice cream, but as we had green tea ice cream, I skipped that step).

The subsequent steps involved mixing a basic egg-milk-flour batter, dousing the balls in it, and quickly frying them in hot oil.  This final step was where things went rather badly, resulting in this unsightly mess:

friedicecream

 

After the first batch, we decided not to bother with the rest.  The good news?  She ate it anyway, said it tasted good, and the rest of us enjoyed funnel cakes made from the remaining batter.

If she’s still on this green tea ice cream kick next year, we’ll take her out for Japanese on her birthday.

Arugula and Apricot Quinoa

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 7.59.37 AM

 

I used to make couscous with roasted veggies about once a week.  I much prefer couscous to pasta, because of how well its crunchy nuttiness combines with so many other textures and flavors.  Couscous is off the menu these days; it’s made from wheat and is therefore a no-no in our household as my daughter is a Celiac.

Quinoa has replaced couscous on my weekday menu, and much to my delight, my 18-year old son, who wouldn’t touch couscous, will readily devour a bowl of quinoa.  How come?

I simply converted my tried and tested couscous recipe and threw in some fresh arugula for extra crunch.

Here’s how:

Ingredients

1 cup of uncooked quinoa

Chicken stock

Knob of salted butter

1 handful of arugula

About 8-10 dried apricots

2 tablespoons of pine nuts

2 small yellow onions

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

Glugful of olive oil to roast vegetables

1 heaped tsp of minced garlic

Pepper and salt to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Follow instructions on Quinoa packet to cook, using the chicken stock and knob of butter
  2. Chop peppers and onions roughly; place in ovenproot tin and drizzle with olive oil and add the minced garlic.  Roast at 350 until veggies are nearly cooked through and may even be beginning to burn at the edges (45 minutes?) Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Chop apricots finely and add to cooked quinoa; add oven roasted garlic veggies
  4. Just before serving add the arugula and stir everything together

Serve alongside roast meat or fish.  You can warm the quinoa which wilts the arugula and makes it more like steamed spinach.  You decide!

A Salad that Everyone Likes!

 

 

 

salad

After the overindulgence of the Holiday Season, replete with roasts, gravies, mashed potatoes, not to mention sweets and booze,  I’ve been craving salad.  Although deep winter is not the best time for fresh, local produce, I’ve managed to find  a combo of  easy to source ingredients that provide a light, flavorful, fulfilling dish, and best of all, it’s a crowd pleaser.

 

I served this to my extended family as an accompaniment to a post-Christmas dinner in late December.  The crowd comprised kids ranging from age 10-17, most of whom are not generally known for vegetable consumption.  A vast majority went back for seconds on the salad, and in recent weeks, this has become a regular on my table.

 

saladingred's

Here’s what you need :

1 package of your favorite baby greens

1/4 of a red onion, chopped

a handful or 2 of grape tomatoes

a ripe avocado or 2, cut into bite sized chunks

1 or 2 limes

1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

Toss vegetables into salad bowl in the order listed and squeeze lime over, making sure to give a generous spritz to the avocado chunks.  (If the lime is not juicy, use a second).  Sprinkle salad with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then drizzle with oil.  Toss thoroughly and serve.

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for a delicious 2014!  We’ll be back next week.

happy-new-year

Merry Christmas!

merry_christmas

 

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season.  We’ll be back in January with lots of new food adventures to share.

Cookie Dough, Spiked 3 Ways

choccookies

Frangelico Nutella Cookies

‘Tis the season!

I was invited to a “Yankee Swap” last night.  I contemplated the gift options, running through scented candles, bath products, gift cards and wine.  Ho hum.  Then I hit on a brain wave:  Why not make a variety of really special cookie dough that the giftee could slice and bake.  She’d have homemade cookies without the bother of messing up the kitchen.

But I didn’t want to hand over any run of the mill dough–chocolate chips, while delicious, are a dime a dozen, and I wanted to offer something with pizzazz, sophistication and elegance.  Inspiration struck, and I headed to my well-stocked liquor cabinet.

 

booze

 

I made  batches of traditional butter cookie dough, divided them, and concocted the following:

  • Limoncello Cookies
  • Coconut Rum Cookies
  • Nutella Frangelico Cookies

Here’s how:

Makes 1 batch, or about 2 1/2  dozen cookies:

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

optional:  1 tsp vanilla, if you are leaving them plain.  Coarse sugar for sprinkling.  Additional options follow.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl for about 2 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, and blend thoroughly.  Divide dough in to logs, about 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in greased wax paper and refrigerate 1 hr (or for several days, or freeze indefnitely.)  Slice in 1/4 inch disks, place on parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar if desired.  Bake 10-12 mins at 350 til edges start to brown.

For Limoncello Cookies:

Add zest of one whole lemon, juice of lemon and 3 tablespoons Limoncello to dough.

For Coconut Rum Cookies:

Add 3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut and 1/4 cup rum to dough.

For Frangelico Nutella Cookies:

Add 3/4 cup nutella, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons Frangelico to dough.

My fridge looks like this, but it’s all good.  When the sweet tooth strikes, or when I need a hostess gift,  I just slice off a couple of disks and Presto!  Hot, fresh, yummy cookies in 12 minutes or less.

doughlogs

 

And as for the Yankee Swap–the recipient was thrilled.  She’s not a baker, and has three kids who clammer for homemade cookies.   And I came home with a Chanel lip gloss so l was happy, too!

Apple Pound Cake

appleinorchard

Every autumn we take a trip to the apple orchard.  It’s a lovely outing, and we always top it off with  lunch at Victory Brewpub, so there’s something in it for everyone.  We pick a lot of apples.  I am not conversant in bushels and pecks, or how many make up a boatload, but we come home with far more apples than we can possibly consume.  Of course, we share them with friends and neighbors, and I concoct a variety of recipes that include apples.   A recent success was a this Apple Pound Cake.  (Trust me, looks aren’t everything.)crackedapplecake

I got the recipe years ago from a secretary at my husband’s firm–it was TYPED on an index card, so that shows you its age.  recipe

 

But it stood the test of time.  Two errors on my part:

1.  I didn’t allow the cake to cool sufficiently, so when I dumped it from the Bundt pan, it cracked.

2.  When I put the layer of apples into the batter, I didn’t mix them in properly.  They kind of created a barrier between the top and bottom of the cake, so it didn’t completely hold together–also contributing to the crack.

Despite their derisive comments, however, my family gobbled it up.

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Helen, who has long since left the ranks of the secretarial pool and risen to a leadership position in IT.  And she’s still a brilliant baker.

Apple Pound Cake

3 cups flour

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter

1 stick margarine (I omitted margarine and used 3 sticks butter in my version)

6 eggs

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

Grease and flour a Bundt Pan, set aside.  Mix all ingredients except apples in large bowl.  Beat on medium for 10 minutes until totally blended and increased in volume–it gets a bit fluffy.  Pour half the batter in the pan, top with apples, and press them into to batter.  Top with remaining batter, and tamp down lightly to be sure apples are integrated (this will avoid the unsightly crack you see in my cake, above.)

Put cake in COLD oven and turn to 350.  Bake 1 1/2 hours until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool, and remove from pan.

 

Upmarket Indian Dining at IndeBlue on 13th Street

 

A trio of soups including mulligatawny kicked off the meal

A trio of soups including mulligatawny kicked off the meal

 

This is now my second time dining at local Indian restaurant IndeBlue on 13th Street, (205. 13th Street, tel 215 545 4633).

In the first encounter with this chi-chi Indian I was treated to a meat thali one lunch time.  A thali is like a smorgasbord of small dishes clustered around a pile of basmati rice and served with naan bread and chutneys on one huge circular plate.

Think of a larger and more filling version of a japanese bento box!

A thali in all its glory

A thali in all its glory

Just looked it up on Wiki and apparently the word “thali” actually stands for “plate” in Nepali.

On my first visit the thali included a goat curry – to which I am particularly partial – but I believe that lamb or beef is probably more usual.  The lunch hit the spot and persuaded me that we should return to the restaurant one evening and sample IndeBlue’s more extensive dinner menu.

Restaurant Week in Philly provided the perfect opportunity for encounter number two.  I went with a group of friends, which meant we could try practically everything that was on the Restaurant Week menu.  Rather than run you through the entirety of the meal, which was quite splendid, here follows the highlights:

This jalapeno martini was fiery but delicious.

This jalapeno martini was fiery but delicious.

 

"Drums of heaven" are aptly named

“Drums of heaven” are aptly named

The spicy chicken drumsticks are called “drums of heaven” and they certainly were.  They are a riff on bbq chicken drumsticks served with crumbled blue cheese and a garlic chili sauce.

These scallops in spicy broth were almost as good as the seafood curry with coconut, which I picked for my main meal.

The dish came with three scallops - we fought over the last one!

The dish came with three scallops – we fought over the last one!

 

This seafood moilee, which included crab meat and large shrimp was served with lemon rice.

This curry featured mustard seed, coconut, curry leaf and more...

This curry featured mustard seed, coconut, curry leaf and more…

Dessert which can be a little stodgy in Indian restaurants generally, was a pleasant surprise to all. It included an orange ginger sorbet, which we didn’t try; a fig duo compromising home made fig ice-cream and a fig tartlet; mango panna cotta (see below) and banana nirvana, a sort of banana fritter topped with salted caramel and house-made vanilla cinnamon ice-cream.

The mango panna cotta was heavenly

The mango panna cotta was heavenly

At the end of the meal, I prised the chef Rakesh Ramola, out of the kitchen to ask him how he concocted such an interesting array of dishes, for example, where did the idea for the osso bucco pork vindaloo come from?  (I didn’t try this time, but will do on my next encounter!).

Rakesh hails from Mumbai, but came to Philadelphia via London where he prepared Indian delicacies for two of the top international foodie spots in London:  Harrods and Selfridges.  After working for a number of years in London, he moved to Collingswood and opened his first IndeBlue restaurant there (619 Collings Ave, Collingswood).  None of these tidbits answer the above question, however, – why are osso bucco and panna cotta on the menu?  Perhaps the answer may have something to do with the fact that Rakesh is married to an Italian.  Also, the more you understand about Indian cuisine, the more you are astounded by its depth and range. Goan cuisine calls on the Portuguese kitchen; Keralan food is dominated by seafood; Pondicherry was influenced by the French and of course there is the Imperial Raj Kitchen with its anglo-flavors and ingredients.  India is a melting pot of cusines and influences and this is represented perfectly in IndeBlue’s eclectic menu.

This is by far, the best Indian restaurant in the city.

 

 

Tuna With Green Olive, Caper and Lemon Relish

tunarelish

Thanks to a recipe offered by this month’s Bon Appetit, we enjoyed a delicious, unique grilled dinner last night.  The recipe in the mag was for slow roasted cod, which was interesting enough, but what really intrigued me was the relish topping.  And, as the temperatures were soaring to 80 this week, I wasn’t eager to slow roast anything.   Grill to the rescue.

relishingreients

I headed off to my favorite foodie mecca, Reading Terminal Market, in search of ingredients.  Since I was using the grill, cod wasn’t my first choice, but Lydia of John Yi Seafood steered me toward the Ahi Tuna Steaks.  After stops at Iovine’s for red onions, lemons and parsley; Salumeria for green olives, capers and olive oil, and Termini Brothers’ Bakery for the requisite chocolate cupcakes for my kids, I trundled home with my provisions.

I assembled the relish according the recipe, leaving out the parsley until almost dinner time.   An hour before serving, I removed the tuna from the fridge to allow it to come to room temp.  Thirty minutes before serving, I marinated the tuna in olive oil, white wine, a generous dusting of black pepper and salt.  I grilled it on high for about a minute per side (for rare) and topped it with the delightful relish.

With grilled eggplant and an arugula salad, life was good.

 

 

 

Tomato Salad, Heaven in a Bowl

tomatosaladmint

As local tomatoes arrive, I experience euphoria.  I buy baskets of them and, though I never tire of them, my family requires some variety in tomato presentation.  So I’ve been playing around with some of the more traditional uses and last night I riffed on the typical Caprese Salad with the following:

 

2 large, ripe, perfect tomatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks

kernels from one ear of corn (I used a leftover ear that we had grilled earlier in the week)

1 tablespoon finely sliced mint leaves

1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything and enjoy.

NOTE:  this would be fine without the corn; i had a surplus ear and was inclined to use it rather than let it go to waste, but the other ingredients would stand fine on their own.