Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easy and Delicious Naan

An easy and comforting dinner for a blustery evening is shrimp curry. We go on monthly Costco runs which here in New York involves renting a zip car and navigating our way out of the confusing canyons of the Financial District to Brooklyn. Frozen shrimp is one of the most useful purchases I make there. The quality is good, and if I keep cans of chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and some Indian spices in my cupboard, I can throw dinner together in a matter of minutes. Last night, I decided to try to make my own Naan. I assumed it would be time consuming and tricky, but I promise you, besides the hour and a half you wait for the dough to rise, they are painless to put together.  Oh boy, I was eating them as soon as I was taking them out of the pan.

                                                  Easy and Delicious Naan

1 package yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons milk

1 beaten egg 

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups bread flour ( the high protein in this flour makes a big difference)

melted butter

1. Dissolve the yeast with the water and the sugar in a large bowl. Once you see the surface become bubbly,  add the baking soda, milk,salt and egg and mix briefly. Add flour to make a soft dough- I ended up adding 4 cups. Knead for about five minutes- you will feel the texture of the dough smooth out- if you need to keep kneading, do it.

2. Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover and put in a warm place for an hour.

3. Punch the dough down and pinch off approximately 1/4 cup pieces, roll to a ball and place on a tray , slightly floured, cover and let rise for another 1/2 hour.

4.I have an old iron pan that I used- I wiped it with a little oil, pulled the dough balls into ovals, and put them, about three at a time, in the hot pan. With the back of a spoon I dipped in the melted butter, I basted the tops of the bread. Once they blistered on the bottom and felt relatively stiffened, I flipped them over, basted them again in the butter, and let the bottoms turn nice and brown.

See? Pretty easy, and the traditional bread with your curry makes it feel like a feast.

xxx Nana

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wild Cod Taco Salad

wild cod taco salad

               When wild cod goes on sale at whole foods I begin strategizing. This time Mexican flavors
                came dancing into my mind. I usually reach for a flavor packet and add whatever protein
               I'm using, but with fish, I always find it a bit too much as though it never left the water.
               I made the fish super crispy first, and then added the layers of flavors. I gotta say, it was
               one of the most amazing things I've made and because I rarely use a recipe and always forget
               what I've done, I'm writing it down now, as I begin to pack for my trip to Los Angeles.

                Time; really fast

                                      Wild Cod Fish Taco Salad

                 1 lb. wild cod cut into bite size pieces

                 1 can chopped jalapeno peppers

                 1 red onion rough chopped

                 garlic powder and salt and pepper

                 grape tomatoes

                 baby spinach for the base
                 1 ripe avocado

                 1 lemon and olive oil

                 1 jar of salsa (your choice, I had medium hot)

                 1 package of Frontera Key Lime Cilantro skillet sauce

                  grated sharp cheddar cheese

                  beaten egg whites

                  rice flour

                 coconut, canola or grapeseed oil for frying


            1.     dredge the fish pieces in the egg whites and then rice flour. Sprinkle the pieces with garlic

                    powder, salt and pepper. Heat a pan and AFTER it's hot add Coconut, Canola or

                    Grapeseed oil to it.

            2.     without overcrowding, fry the fish and set aside when golden and crispy.

            3.     set another small pan up to heat and add oil AFTER its hot. Add to this pan the onion

                    and jalapeno peppers. (about a heaping Tablespoon).

            4.     take out some beautiful plates or bowls and lay the spinach or any greens in them.

            5.     squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over the greens.

            6.     add the Frontera Skillet Sauce to the onion pan and combine. Take the mixture and

                    evenly distribute this over the greens.

            7.     sprinkle grape tomatoes, and avocado cubes over greens.

            8.     add fried fish pieces and top those with salsa.

            9.     let it rain cheddar cheese and resist tasting it as you walk to the table :)

                            note;     rice flour is not only gluten free but it adds a crispness that can't be beat.

                                                                                                                       Kisses, Zan

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Finding Beta Carotene in NYC

Why does eating on the street or standing in a gourmet store scarfing delights taste so good? Is it denial that you're really eating? Is it that sneaky feeling you get when you're treating yourself to 1/4 of a pound of a $25. per pound Nova? Or is it the respite from the harsh elements that throws us into places we've never tried or places we adore. I adore Dean & Deluca. It breathes new life into me when I pass through its doors. Standing by the window in their Soho location and sipping a latte or getting my beta carotene is a pleasure that I allow myself. After treats, I love to peruse the exotic wares and delectable foods. In addition to cooking and recipes and hysterical laughter, we want to show you some fun places here in our city. The truth is that sometimes the best pleasures are the treats we allow ourselves.
                                                                                                              kisses, Zan
mmmmm with a glass of wine............

This coming Friday, my friend Filip who hosted me at a Trek convention in the Czech Republic, is coming to dinner. I can still taste the pretzel bread he made sure to find me as well as dumplings in every shape and flavor you can imagine. Nothing better than doughy goodness. He did such a good job of introducing me to local cooking that I want to do the same for him. With days in New York, I know he can cover alot of foodie ground, but southern skewed fare is a bit more challenging to find.  When I know I'm having guests, the first thing I do is take out my recipe collection( in a huge binder I can barely lift anymore) and see what catches my eye.  With southern in mind, I came up with this menu: 

                                          Cheese Cream Crackers
                                          Blue Stuffed Olives

                                          All Day Baby Back Ribs
                                          Grits Casserole
                                          Lemony Chopped Raw Kale Salad

                                           Caramel Apple Pie

The cracker recipe is one I got out of the New York Times years ago, and I believe its a Mark Bittman recipe.The one change I made was to use a very sharp white cheddar instead of parmesan but they are incredibly tasty either way. They are so easy and I will give you my way of rolling out dough in case it helps! Very impressive with a glass of wine.

                                     Cheddar Cheese Cream Crackers

1 cup flour

1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar

4 tablespoons butter, cut up

1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Pulse the flour cheese butter and salt in a Cuisinart ( you can do this by hand ,too. Using your fingertips, lightly work the flour cheese and butter into a sandy mixture. ) Add cream and pulse till mixed.

Put out a long strip of wax paper the size of your cookie sheet and throw the dough on top. Form it into a rectangle  smaller than the wax paper , and put a matching wax sheet on top. Roll the dough as thin as you can between the papers, checking to make sure you have an even thickness. Now, peel off the top piece of wax paper and replace it with the same size of tin foil, lightly sprayed with Pam For Baking. Put the sprayed side on top of the dough, and flip it onto the cookie sheet, gently using your hand and forearm to support the bottom. Now the wax paper is on top, and you can simply peel it off.Cut them with a pizza wheel or just a knife. You can put what you like on top, but I put salt and a dried garlic and  red pepper mix. Bake them about 10 minutes, but be sure to leave them longer if they aren't a satisfying brown. It really makes the taste!