Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Get your Kids to Eat the Good Stuff

Well you can try what Anthony Bourdain's parents did, and leave the kiddies hanging out in the car while you and your significant other have yourselves a proper adult meal (although if any of us attempted that in this day and age we all know a call to the police by some well meaning stranger would land you in hot water, so let's not even contemplate the tempting calling of times past). Seriously people the best way to get kids to try new foods is not to take them to a restaurant and force something that is alien to them in their mouths. Even certain adults have a hard time with this one, why should we expect it from a budding mind. The goal is to get the little ones to love good food, not to use food as a means for emotional scarring.

Much easier for you (not to mention less expensive, and less aggravating) is to get the wee ones to help you prepare food. I have found that my little girl is more willing to eat new things when she has contributed to the preparation of the food, because in some way she feels like she knows what she is eating and because she is proud of what she has helped to make. We prepared the sauce free version of eggplant parmesan (shown in the picture) together. She loved every minute of helping, and ate every last bite of what was on the plate. Win win for all. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comfort Food: An Oldie but a Goodie

I am re-posting my venture into absolutely delicious mac and cheese, because I have decided to transfer any food related posts form my other blog to this one. I confess that the recipe used is from Food Network, but I have a weakness when it comes to Alton Brown's recipes. He just knows his stuff, and this particular recipe made not only my husband and I happy, but it also made expats from various places appreciate the beauty of American comfort food. Click HERE for the recipe. This is a great one to play with too because you can vary the type and amount of ingredients and create a completely different flavor. For instance you can choose to caramelize the onions instead of adding them raw for a smokier flavor, or add some pancetta to make it heartier. The possibilities are endless.

I am also doing this today because unfortunately I did not have enough foresight to arrange my plates beautifully so I could take pictures of what I made today using heavy cream and cardamom, so you all will have to wait until next time I make this dish to get the recipe and imagery to go along with it. The only hint I can give you is that it is my take on an Indian dish I had at Options in Dubai, which is one of the many restaurants owned by Sanjeev Kapoor. He is someone whom I never would have found out about had it not been for the hubby and I deciding to go live halfway around the world, where we had the good fortune to meet people who could tell us about him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A beautiful thing

The best part of my weekend was doing absolutely nothing and letting my husband pamper me. I have been working a lot lately on my part-time job (that is turning out to feel more like a full time one). My husband took pity on me and thought the weather is getting cold enough for him to make his delicious red gravy. I am not allowed to disclose his recipe because he and our friend Josh are embarking on a red gravy battle of epic proportions. However, I did want to show you the beautiful sandwich he made me using the sauce, meatballs and sausage from his red gravy along with some beautiful fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and crunchy french bread. Yumm I feel super spoiled.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicken Dinner With a Twist

Today I made some really tasty chicken with at little surprise. I used some fresh lemongrass which is an ingredient that has become a staple in my kitchen, because it was such a big part of my culinary experience while my family and I were living in the middle east. The finishing touch that made the chicken extra delicious was the last few minutes left uncovered under the broiler to crisp up the skin (thank you Mr. Anthony Bourdain for making me become obsessed with this aspect of chicken eating). The following is my recipe:

4 full large chicken legs (Separated or whole will not make a difference)
5 large cloves of garlic (crushed or minced)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TBSP Olive oil
2 TBSP Teriaki sauce
1 medium green onion (sliced thin)
1 long blade of lemongrass (sliced thin)
1 cup of water

Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

In either a large, deep baking dish or a dutch oven combine the garlic, salt, pepper, teriaki sauce and olive oil ( I like putting the oil in first and then adding the other ingredients and combine them using a whisk).

Place the chicken in the dish/dutch oven and coat it in the mixture. Sprinkle the lemongrass and green onions on the chicken and around the baking dish.

Add the water and cover the baking dish/dutch oven. It is very important that I mention to you that when you arrange your chicken in your dish, you need to make sure that the side with the fattiest skin should be on the top in order to insure that the chicken does not dry out and so that the fat drips down over the flesh of the chicken to add more flavor.

 Place the dish/dutch oven in the oven and let cook for 30 minutes to allow the chicken to absorb the flavors.

Remove the cover from the baking dish/ dutch oven, and baste the chicken with the juices in the baking dish. 

Turn on the broiler and allow the skin to get brown and crispy.

Serve and enjoy with your favorite sides. This time I used jasmin rice and sauteed baby spinach.

Tasty Junk Food

While out on a mission to buy felt for some cute little craft creatures my daughter and I are going to make together, I started getting hungry. I was not thinking properly about the time when we set out on this quest and was actually looking to have us back home for lunch, because sincerely I cannot fathom the notion of spending money on lunch out when I have perfectly delicious food at home waiting in the fridge. We were in Soho so I thought quick and just at that moment we were passing Pearl River Market, which I recalled sells a lot of savory Chinese and Japanese snack foods along with cold healthy drinks. 

The picture above shows what I got us just to keep us from getting too hungry. The crackers are sesame crackers and they taste the way a Ritz cracker would taste if it was intended for a more sophisticated palate. It had hints of green onion and garlic that were subtle and made me keep coming back for more. The stuff in the wrapper is Monaka which are these really delicate cookies that can only be described as the Chinese version of whoopie pies except more delicate because instead of cookies the outer shell is made of rice flour with a texture like communion wafers and the filling is not cream but red bean paste. I washed these beauties down with some mango oolong iced tea and felt good about the fact that I had managed to get us some relatively healthy snacks and did so without spending too much, so win win for all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Your Health Chicken Soup

It has been a rainy day here in Brooklyn and since my little munchkin has been feeling a little sniffly I though I would make some chicken soup to scare away any lingering cold germs. I have always been a believer in the medicinal powers of a good pot of chicken soup. The fat from the chicken skin combined with a few choice ingredients like garlic and ginger (known for their disease fighting qualities) along with some veggies for an extra boost of vitamins and flavor, are also a great way to get some comfort on gloomy days. Here is my recipe:

3 TBSP olive oil
1 dozen chicken drumsticks
4 large garlic cloves (crushed/minced)
1 large green onion (sliced thin)
2 celery stalks (sliced thin)
8 cups of water
1 large carrot (grated)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into small squares)
2 inch piece of ginger (Sliced thin)
A handful of fresh Cilantro/Coriander leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by heating the oil in a deep soup pot and add in the chicken drumsticks and brown them in the oil. Add the garlic, green onion and celery and saute until the garlic has browned slightly and the onions and celery are letting out their beautiful aromas. Add the water and follow by adding the carrots, potatoes, ginger, cilantro, salt and pepper.Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium letting the ingredients simmer for 25-30 minutes. Take out the chicken, allow to cool. once cool debone the chicken and shred into small pieces. Add the chicken back to the soup and serve. 

I know it is not fancy eats, but this stuff will get you back in the good spirits in no time. That is what good food is supposed to do for you.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brooklyn Commune I Heart Thee

Brooklyn is one of those places that I have absolutely neglected in the many years I have been a resident of the NY metropolitan area. Luckily that has changed since my family and I relocated back to the US and chose the Windsor Terrace area as our home sweet home. 

Today I am giving some love to a fantastic place that I just discovered down the street from where I live. Brooklyn Commune is a cafe with a very unpretentious, understated ambiance and beautifully executed dishes. The menu shows a wide range of influences from middle eastern to American soul food, and best of all they make everything using local fresh ingredients. I can only say that you will find a rich flavorful surprise in every bite. For example, my falafel wrap had a mango chutney dressing rather than the typical tahini sauce, which resulted in a rich and energizing experience. Unfortunately my pictures do not do the food justice since they were taken with my phone camera, but trust me the food is off the charts. 

The shop also doubles as a market with very select items, most manufactured locally. They also have great events intended to create a greater link between area residents and local food related organizations as well as local artists and professionals. Check out their calendar for upcoming events. To get to them take the F Train to the Fort Hamilton stop in Brooklyn. Stay to the back of the train for the best exit to reach them. They are located on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Greenwood Avenue.

Pictures from top : Brooklyn Commune sign, Home made ginger soda, Flalafel wrap close-up, Falafel wrap plate, Fried Chicken sandwich, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tried and Loved

While browsing the food blogs yesterday evening I found a great recipe for some delicious treats on the Smitten Kitchen blog, so of course I had to put them to the test. I probably did it more because they looked so darn cute that I just had to try to see if I could pull them off.

The recipe was for what they call apple pie cookies. I had to do this in the style of the show Chopped because I decided to do them without much real preparation due to the fact that the hubby and I were experiencing a moment of giving in to our sweet tooth cravings. I had the ingredients for the dough but I when it came to the filling I had to improvise. I only had an apple so I substituted pears. I modified my spice blend as well by mixing a mild yellow curry in lieu of the cloves and mixed it in with some fresh ground cinnamon which I luckily had hidding in the depths of my dry spice drawer. I also decided to cut all the fruit into small pieces and mixed them with the spices about half an hour before I put the little pie cookies together. My brother, his wife and my husband were brave enough to be my taste testers and they said they love them, so we got a winner here and a definite keeper for the favorite recipes compilation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Something to look forward to

I am ecstatic because I just bought myself one of these beautiful dutch ovens. Since the weather is starting to turn I know this guy is going to be in heavy rotation in my kitchen. I cant wait to make some nice stews. I am also thinking that this will be great for BBQ roast pork. Can you tell I am excited?

I would love to hear from anyone who has any favorite dutch oven recipes to share.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet Beginnings

Since this is my first post I thought I should start with something sweet. I want to share with you my favorite cupcake bakery; Crumbs. This lovely bakery was founded in 2003 by Mia and Jason Bauer in a quest to bring quality (and dare I say, irresistible) baked goods to the masses.

I found this bakery entirely by accident while on a quest to find a pediatrician for my daughter. I can say that this has been one of the happiest and most delicious accidents I have ever had. The picture is from the bakery's site and it is my favorite cupcake( far), their apple cobbler. I think it can safely be said that they have a flavor to please any sweet tooth craving out there. If you are in New York or planning to come you should definitely try one of their wonderful creations.