Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! 2014 Year of the Horse

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year and Spring Festival!

2014 is the year of the Horse.

When I was in grade school; my friend's Mom use to make dumplings and sesame noodles for our class for Chinese New Year. I remember her explaining that she made dumplings for good luck and wealth and the noodles for a long, healthy life. When I asked why; she said, "Can't you see, they look like a purse full of money!"
She was also nice enough to give me her amazing sesame noodle recipe, but that's a recipe for another time!
Back to the dumplings....
I introduced Kishore to Chinese style dumplings when we were dating and we usually have some frozen stock in the fridge. 
It wasn't until last year that my friend gave us handmade pork dumplings for Chinese New Year. They were absolutely delicious! I was suppose to share them with Kishore, but.... OK I won't lie only 2 made it home. 
So naturally I had to ask her for the recipe which she graciously shared. Now I can make them and what we don't eat gets frozen for later! Since she shared the wealth of her dumpling recipe; it only seems right that I do the same.

Here is a my slightly modified versions of those Mouth-watering Morsels.

Pork and Vegetable Dumplings

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Onion Soup with Collard Greens

It snowed yesterday. Well, it didn't just SNOWED!
Work closed early and the Governor declared a state of emergency, so there in my naiveté I thought I would get home without too much fuss. 
Boy, was I wrong.

For most of the drive, I was going a whopping 5 mph and pulling over every 15-20 minutes to clear off the frozen wiper blades. When I finally arrived home, in one piece thank God, I found that the side streets and our street had not been plowed. So after a nice Hot Chocolate, I geared up and went out to brave the cold...shoveling our driveway so Kishore would have somewhere to park when he came home.
The end of our street...
not plowed till 10am the next day
After a 2.5 hr drive home, which usually takes 30 mins, and cleaning out the driveway, I needed some substantial comfort food. But I'll admit I was too tired, lazy, and hungry to make anything that was going to take more than 30 minutes to cook.
I wanted soup...Onion Soup to be specific...but I needed something more substantial so I added the beautiful Collard Greens I bought Monday.

Simple, Satisfying and Healthy!

Here's my recipe for Onion Soup with Collard Greens:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

South Indian Style Spicy Shrimp

Kishore loves shrimp! If given the opportunity he would eat it everyday with a nice helping of rice. Talking and cooking about shrimp always reminds me of Bubba from Forrest Gump, and I can't help but hear this in my head anytime I cook shrimp....

Bubba was right! There are hundreds of ways to prepare shrimp, it's extremely versatile. This summer I just learned a new way to prepare it when Amma visited, Shrimp Pickle.
Since it's a favorite in our home we make it a point to check different supermarket circulars for sales and then buy a few pounds and freeze what we won't use immediately... It's a nice idea, but in reality that rarely happens. It starts out with me saying "I'll cook a pound and put the rest away", and then Kishore says; "They shrink when you cook them; how about a little more....a little more and I can have it for lunch too." And that's it we just cook it all and have shrimp for dinner and lunch the next day! The other thing we like to do is get different seasonal varieties of shrimp....
Varieties of Shrimp?! 
Yes, there are different kinds out there, they all don't look like the pre-packed store shrimp cocktails.
Just to name the most commonly available in our area:
White shrimp,  Maine pink shrimp, and Tiger prawns
and my personal favorite...King Prawns Okay!

I am not a shrimp. I am a king prawn, Okay!

Besides there culinary versatility, shrimp are also a healthly crustacean. They are high in Omega-3s, low in mercury, and depending on how it's prepared shrimp can help lower your trigylcerides and give you a better LDL/HDL ratio.
Another nice thing about shrimp is they are a quick meal, they cook up pretty fast so you have to watch it. The most time consuming part is cleaning them, if you don't buy them partially cleaned already.
One of the reasons I've always disliked eating shrimp in restaurants is because they don't clean the shrimp. The  only exception I've seen was at a restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is wholly unappealing to see that, and when I say cleaned I don't just mean shelling them, I expect them to be deveined as well.

Here's a quick reference video on how to clean AND devein shrimp:

Cleaning Shrimp

South Indian Style Spicy Shrimp

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Day - Spanish Hot Chocolate!!!

Snow days bring out the kid in all of us. As a kid snow days meant 3 things: 

No School, Hot Breakfast, and Playing in the Snow (ie. Snow Angels and Snow Fort). 

The view from the Kitchen
As an adult they have a different meaning, One word...Shoveling. Instead of moping and grumbling about having to clean the foot of snow off our driveway or dwelling on the fact that our street wasn't plowed until almost 8pm; I decided to celebrate the snow day. One thing I loved when I was little was when my Mom use to make Spanish Hot Chocolate on snow days. I remember her asking if we'd like hot chocolate and then proceeding to say, "Chocolate, Báte, Báte."

This Spanish- Mexican folk song tells how to prepare the hot chocolate. It literally means beat the chocolate. The word 'báte' comes from the verb 'batear' which means to beat or whip. As you heat up the milk and chocolate you use a 'Molinillo' by rubbing it between your hands to beat the chocolate; making it deliciously frothy.

When I woke up and saw the amount of snow on the ground, I went down to the kitchen singing that little verse in my head. Needless to say we had a nice hot breakfast with hot chocolate before braving the cold to clean the driveway.

Here's my recipe for Spanish Hot Chocolate:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Hi Everyone, Happy New Year!
We hope you all have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014.

This is our second time hosting the family New Year's Eve party; this time the theme was Tapasesque!

Tapas is a Spanish style cuisine with varying hot and cold snacks and appetizers; similar to Indian Chaat. We decided on having a variety of 'bocas' ranging from Pani Puri to Rolled Stuffed Eggplant.

Here are a few shots from the table; recipes to follow at later dates.

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