Category: appreciation


Puff Pastry… (pause)…..PUFF PASTRY…..

From my 1st grade school cafeteria till yesterday, its one thing that has always been such a mystery to me, which I always loved to eat but somehow had this question too that how on earth do they make so many layers of crunch which taste so good, when will I be a citizen of the Puff Pastry world?  I still remember spending my collections of coins, (5th grade school) which I had collected over a period of 6 months for that  2min pleasure of a crunchy Rs2.5 veggie puff (and have no regrets too)

Well that mystery did let me in today, I finally did it, and I “MADE MY OWN VEGGIE PUFF”. I just cant believe, I made an egg puff, a veggie puff and now the flood gates have opened.

It was Thursday and we decided to take the surface road to home while picking up mince chicken at the “Halal Market”. I saw a pack of puff pastry sheets in the freezer, jumped through the thoughts starting from   “No” to “Will I be able to???” to “Can I?” and finally resting  on “Lets try it, how bad can it get” . Reached home, took the pack out and looked at it  again. And again, repeat “No”, “Will I be able to???” “Can I?”. But this time I was really tired to get to the “Lets try it, how bad can it get”  and Thursday became history soon. Friday went with the same pace too.

Saturday somehow comes with an amazing urge to cook some nice stuff and wallah, “we have puff pastry sheets” in the freezer. Enthusiasm is one thing but actually turning it into something that you have always enjoyed, not being on the spectator side in the stadium and now amongst the players of the game, is something totally different. I was actually nervous.

I looked on the Internet and remembered one episode by “Alton Brown” on the puff pastry. Jumped onto it and within 15mins I was ready to take on the challenge.

My First ever puff pastry filling: Boiled Eggs with Cilantro Mint chatni

Oven Check : 400deg

Pizza Stone: Hot and ready in the oven to take on the task.

And then thanks to “Alton Brown” and my super Oven, I made my very first Puff.

It felt like Tom Hanks in Cast away ” I have made fire. I HAVE …….MADE FIRE”

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The only place I can imagine “Tsingtao meets corn tortillas meet indian chicken curry” ….

a BAY AREA KITCHEN 🙂

As promised, pics of tikka tacos. Made them once again yesterday and this time peetu did let me take a pic :).

Tikka Tacos…

Taco Truck

Taco Truck

Tikka Tacos was one thing I was planning on for so long and recently it became a reality. Food is one thing that really detoxifies me and it came once again to the rescue on a gloomy tiring/irritating Sunday evening. Didn’t have an awesome day and wanted to cook something for the evening to put a nice end to the weekend (funny concept ehh…END to a week-END(something like metabraces)?????). Well its about the tikka tacos and not the day so let me tell the taco tale.

Wanted to get some chiken drumsticks (started to dislike boneless stuff now) and wanted to make something not tandoori. Even though it tastes awesome, I am feeling kinda monotonous about it now. I always tell my friends about how I will start my taco truck and still  not for once did I try making a single taco , and voila there came the recipe, “I should make tacos. Lets make tacos“.

I headed straight to the mexican aisle and saw the small pack corn tortillas. Off-late  my buddies at work have taken me to different taco places and I loved all of them expect for the fact that nowhere I was able to find a nice blend of  indian curry meat and the mexican taco delight. Yeah, I had tikka bites once…they were alright…to be honest did not like their food and it was not cheap either.

So now for the recipe, I started with the chicken first and fried some cumin, cinnamon and a big black cardamom. When smelt the goodness and heard the cumins, threw in a big onion for the saute. Added big pieces of garlic and not that much ginger to the party to deepen the flavor. Sauted it for a while before adding two big tomatoes. Now comes the fun part when you get to the spices. These indian spices are like colors , they leave their unique mark on whichever painting they are used on and leave you with a very different thought even if you see a same color on a different painting .

My colors were salt,corriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala (dont ask me what goes in it. Its called garam masala and one more thing, MDH garam massala and not MTR), roasted fennel, roasted green cardamom and the star of the painting, the final sparkle, my favorite of all spices, Nutmeg. Gave it a mix till everything became a bit darker and came to a paste consistency. Added the chicken drumsticks and mixed it for a while before adding a cup of water and pressure cooked it for about 15 minutes. I did let the pressure release by itself and take its own sweet time. This ensured a nice penetration of the flavors and for me, some time to rest and prepare the salsa for the tacos

As I was doing this salsa stuff, I did not tell peetu about the tacos. She kind of knew that I was making chicken but totally voted for the indian meal when  asked  for a choice between tortillas and chapati.  Of-course who would experiment on a tiring/irritating/gloomy sunday evening? “Just gimmie something nice” was the feeling, and tacos?, no tacos was the call. Somehow I asked her to taste one taco and she reluctantly agreed. Immediately I chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, pickled jalapeño and mixed it with some salt, cayenne pepper (pinch) and lime juice. De-boned and chopped the meat and made a taco for her to taste topping it with the gravy of blended goodness.

Boy !! the sheer feel of satisfaction and that smile, the moment after that first bite, sucked all that bad stuff out of me. Sunday started feeling sunny even though it was 7 in the evening and monday was approaching, I felt awesome again. Had a bite from peetu and let the chicken rest for the night for a taco meal the next day.

After that I was sitting on my couch just thinking about how food is such an important part of our lives. It treats people in so many different ways. Some de-stress themselves by eating a lot of food, some by cooking a lot of food, but in the end its the food and the love of it which makes us all work 9-5 Mon-Fri so that we all can have that awesome sat-sun COOKING session that we have earned through the week.

~cheers

zulu

P.S: We ended up having chapati for the dinner on sunday and tacos were on the menu for the monday meal. I did not take a picture of the tacos this time. They really tasted awesome and looked even more delightful. Will post just the pictures next time on Tikka Tacos…cont…

Keep your chin up

Last Saturday I woke up really early. I thought I heard the doorbell ring. You see, a gardener was supposed to come early morning, on a Saturday (*rolling eyes*). And since my need of getting our front yard in a decent shape so that we don’t get known as the only people on the block with a horrible gardening skills, was greater than my much needed beauty sleep, I was awake since 7am. Long story short, yes the gardener did turn up at an ungodly hour of 8am on a Saturday. And I did what any normal person would do on a Saturday morning. I went back to sleep after he left.

I woke after 2 hours with a horrible realization that I couldn’t move my head. I had a shooting pain in my neck everytime I tried to tilt to my head. The whole weekend I relied on Icy-Hot cream. Come Tuesday morning, the neck pain not only showed no signs of receding, but actually resulted in me waking up in the middle of the night trying to wake up Z to ask him to help me move my head ‘coz I couldn’t do it on my own. 2 days and 2 trips to the Urgent Care and finally strong meds & a neck brace later I realized a few things.

  • When we are fine and healthy we take the simplest things for granted. I realized this when I had to ask my husband if my neck was straight or lopsided in an effort to adjust in a position with minimum pain.
  • The sympathy helps. You find yourself being bumped up in queues since people feel bad about making someone wearing a neck brace wait for long.
  • The neck brace…. Not weird at all.. Ok I’ll admit, its weird for the first 15 minutes where you think of yourself as really old & all. But the one I have is actually pretty cool. Its black & soft and definitely doesn’t look anything like the pink/beige ones you must’ve seen. And don’t even get me started on how comfortable it is when you actually need to wear it!
  • The doctors understand you when you say that you are scared of getting a shot inspite of the fact that it sounds like the only way out from the horrible pain. Their means of showing that they understand – pat your hand and look at you with an expression we generally reserve for kids who throw away all their candy just to make a point.
  • Toy Story (1-3) playing on the only TV in the hospital waiting room makes the long hours go so fast that you actually regret when the nurse calls out your name.. C’mon Woody was just trying to save everyone from ending up at Sunnyside!!!
  • And the last thing… I got asked atleast 5 times in my 2 visits whether I was pregnant or about to be.. all women out there should pray that they don’t end up getting hurt when they are pregnant. You won’t get the meds!!

Here’s to a happy and healthy week/month/year/life…

Cheers \m/

Mitsuwa….

Yesterday was my first dive into the Japanese culinary galaxy. I tried my luck on making the Miso soup and sushi for my wife on her birthday and combining it with the Valentine’s Day. (I thought I was smart :p)

We ended up having an amazing plate of hand rolled sushi, California style sushi rolls and a flavorful bowl of miso soup but  there is a confession that I can only make through this post. In the process of preparation for such an ambitious step,  I lost track of everything else.  I forgot the reasons and was totally controlled by the fragrance that the open simmering pot of konbu sea weed and wakame seeds was doing to my senses.

Making the miso soup was kind of an education to me. How different flavors can gel so well and create a real symphony of flavors.The kind of flavors extracted from  the preparation were so off the charts (read my first time use of such ingredients ever); I don’t know what’s in-store if one gets  it  from the masters themselves.
I salute the ingredients, the thinkers, the makers and the ones who have mastered this art  where you walk on this thin line,  and the result is either a ‘0’ or a ‘1’ (I had to get in binary somehow).I don’t know if there exists something like an edible miso soup. It’s good, awesome, great or BAD.
I will try to learn more from this experience, study the flavor profile of the bonitos, the wakames and the konbus a bit more and will get back with my  new dives.

I have to, I have to.

So stay tuned

I would like to thank the saleswoman at the Japanese grocery store who literally took my list of ingredients, changed it a bit on what could make the recipe taste better than what I had and handpicked it for me.

Thanks.

Thanks a lot, for you really made our evening, but most importantly you held my hand when I just decided to jump in the ocean without the safety gear.

In real life..

This Saturday the ever-trusty postman delivered the next movie on my Netflix queue, Dan in Real Life. I hadn’t seen or heard about the movie before I put it in my queue. Infact I don’t remember what, besides Steve Carell’s presence, appealed to me. But here it was and we popped it into the player while having a late dinner on Saturday. I started having second thoughts when I realized that how the 2 guys, L & my cousin, would take this senti movie. But within the first few minutes I wasn’t even thinking about all this. Without giving away too much, its a movie about how we can easily lose ourselves in our everyday lives & how that one person can walk into your life and change the whole course, make you feel alive..

It definitely resonated with me. Here you are, drifting through each day without feeling or a mass of them, without a definite course. And then one day someone just comes along.. A stranger who within the first conversation seems as if he understands the words you left unsaid. Who can make sense of your confusion, even if you cannot. He steers you away from all the mess you’ve made onto a course you didn’t even know you were meant to be on. He gently prods and pushes you to put all your fears & doubts into perspective and stands waiting in wings incase you need help conquering those fears. He gives you the confidence that you can be your best self, something that you’d forgotten along the way. And then one day, when the big question is popped as a surprise with that friend kneeling in front of you, you question yourself (while reeling from the shock of the suddenness of it), what more do you want from someone you would like to spend your life with? All those childish and romance novels induced ideas of Tall, Dark & Handsome fly out of the window. And like the proverbial bulb switching on, you finally realize that this is it. This is what you want .. this is what you’ve unknowingly waited all your life for. This unquestioning trust, the unwavering support of someone who will be there to share the good & the bad parts.. Someone who appreciates the same things as you do & will laugh away all your quirks. Somehow with this person, your flaws seem to shine too & actually add to the allure.

I don’t know if this is exactly what the movie set out to convey, but it did bring back some fond memories. Do give it a try.

Celebrations

With the year winding down, the last few hours of 2010 are filled with a scramble to get everything done to make sure 2011 is welcomed in a grand way. This year its just me, L & my sis-in-law. Our idea of a good time is kicking our feet back with awesome food (generally homemade :P) and a good drink just within reach. So this year was/is ‘nt different either.

Having a 10 day shutdown at work gave me a long, well deserved break. This was the first instance I got time to actually regroup and catch a break from the stress of the sorta-new job & having our own house. So these 7 days were filled with small trips, shopping, pigging out on awesome food made by L. But this day, the official end of the year, I would like to count my blessings for a wonderful job, a beautiful home to come to everyday, new lessons in terms of hard knocks or good experiences. But the best part has undoubtedly been an awesome family to share all the tears & joys, smiles & frowns alike. So here’s a huge shoutout to everyone who made this year a great one.. And wishing a happy new year……

Happy happy happy New Year Everyone! Make it everything you know it can be an oh so much more! – T J Thyne (better known as Hodgins from Bones)

Thanksgiving

Our plan this Thanksgiving was to do nothing but cook. Cook an entire traditional American Thanksgiving meal. So the ambitious plan was to have following ready by dinnertime on thursday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, collard greens & keylime tart for dessert. Of the list we were comfortable with turkey & keylime tart since we had made those a couple of times. But thanks to Alton Brown we were ready to take on the rest.

This was the first year we got a smaller turkey, just 10.6 lbs 🙂 Whole Foods to the rescue! Prepping & roasting the bird — easy peasy! But the fact that it was Thanksgiving ( Safeway was closed 😦 ) & our minor error of forgetting to get a few key ingredients, collard greens & gravy were struck off the menu pretty early. AB’s mashed potatoes recipe came out perfectly. Props to L for taking care of that (Having a husband who knows his way around the kitchen is AWEOME!!). And the best part, the keylime tart. I’m not a sweet loving kind of girl. But the keylime pie is perfect for me. Just right combo of sweet & tart. I favor the recipe that I stumbled on youtube once. It’s by Sarah Carey, editor of Martha Stewart Living. And as usual, the tart turned out yummm..

With awesome food & family, here’s a huge THANKS to everything that came along my way. Thanks for good memories that made me smile & the bad ones that made me realize the value of those smiles. And thanks for an awesome circle of family and friends.

Cheers…

Just wanted to say……..

Thank you … Thank you … Thank you for everything!!!!!!

Cheers \m/

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