Friday, February 26, 2010

Super Caroline's Bacon Turtle Burger Fun!

So here is a good one. Super Caroline, my friend from grad school (the smartest cookie around) is a human computer interface genius who happens to be a great cook, runner, bikes 9 miles to work and makes beautiful art kinda woman. She and I became friends when I had my first official meltdown in grad school. I forgot to hit save (or so I thought I forgot) on a 5000 word Art History final the night before it was due. Of course Super Caroline retrieved my paper and I owed her a home cooked Indian meal. We have been friends since and have had many an adventure fooding around Chicago.

So featured below is her dinner tonight. It looks like so much fun to make but definitely not for the calorie counters (though Super Caroline will probably run it off - oh did I mention she sometimes runs 10 miles to work on LSD - Lakeshore Drive silly).

I love this turtle burger for all the fun that can be had with food.  The photographs and descriptions are courtsey Super Caroline with some minor additions/editions by me. Also I think this would be a perfect "I am uptil 4 a.m. and I am craving bacony something" kind of food.

Very lean beef and/or buffalo meat or any gorund meat of choice (4 oz would be enough. Make meatballs with the extra).
Andouille sausage or good ole franks
Packet of bacon or more
Cheddar cheese
Garlic cheddar cheese
1 egg white
Spices (salt, peppar, bbq sauce etc)
Ginger, cilantro, chili powder can also be great additions

Start making the bacon weave. Cut some of the fat off the outside of the bacon to make it straight.
And this is how we weave bacon. See? all that 4-H isn't going to waste! (4- H for those like me who don't know its some American thing like Girls Scout but for sewing and weaving and making crafty things).
Weaving the bacon
Ta- da!...........
Mix the ground meat, spices and egg white. The egg white is used to help hold things together.
Make a meat patty, put it on the weave
Place some garlic cheddar cheese on the patty.
And more meat! Place another patty on the cheese.
And more Cheese ((I told you this was insane)
Fold the bacon weave over it.
Cut sausages in half both length wise and cross wise. If using hot dog it may not have to be split as the sausages are fatter than hot dogs - but way tastier. Make 3 cuts in the "feet" sausages and one cross wise cut in the "head" sausage (so it will look like a mouth opening). Carve out a conical tail as well.
Make holes in the bacon weave, poke sausages into the body embedding them into meat by about 1". Use extra bacon to cover the gap and bring stray ends of bacon into the weave.
Use a spatula to get it onto the pan.
Put toothpicks (that have been soaking in water) into the body to secure the sausages and keep the bacon ends secure.
Use an oven thermometer and get that dial up to beef - well! Took her 45 minutes at 400. Cooking time depends from oven to onve so poke the turtle and when the juices aren't red anymore it is well done!
Muaha haaaaaaaaaa!
"Mmmm. and for my next trick... using reptile meat to make a replica of a pig"- Super Caroline
Chef's Tip:
  • Cutting the excess edge fat off the bacon so it has a more regular shape helps a lot.
  • Do not eat all at once.. this could last you a long time. 
Warning: House can smell of bacon for a couple of days

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vaishali's - very healing Mutton curry

Vaishali's was the very first couch I surfed. Not really out of choice but more out of "I broke my leg -and I need your help" type of necessity. I did sleep on her couch for 5 days as the guest room was upstairs. All I can say is that she was an angel who came to my rescue. Also to be noted is that her husband Sudhir had broken his finger in a cricket match accident. So she had taken on nursing two handicapped people back to health as well as taking care of her two year old son. So while I was practicing making my crutches my new limbs she was cooking up a storm feeding all of us amazing food.
The most memorable was the mutton curry that she made. Her mom and Google both say that mutton is good for healing bones. Thank god because this was a treat- hands down one of the best mutton dishes I have ever had (and believe me I have had a few). Vaishali kindly shared this recipe with me.

So here goes: Make it on Sunday. Start early in the morning. Take your time cooking the mutton.
Make sure you have tons of rotis/ naans to go with this. (more than usual)

Mutton recipe
3 lbs of mutton- with bone
3 tbsp of Everest Mutton masala
Red chili powder
Salt to taste

Below are the ingredients for the pastes:

Green paste 
Fresh cilantro
Garlic 5-7 cloves
Ginger - a sq inch

Grind and keep aside.

Red Paste
2 Onions- rough chopped
2 tbsp Dry coconut powder
1-2 Bay leaf
2 tsp cumin
2-3 cloves
1 blk cardamon
1 cinammon stick
2-3 dried red chilies
7-8 black pepper corns
8-9 cashews
1 kalami flower (looking up the english name- any suggestions?)
2-3 roma tomatoes

Saute onions, add the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes. Grind mixture and add tomato to the mixture.

For cooking the mutton:
  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Add the green paste to it and slowly cook it in the oil till it turns an olive color (and the oil starts to separate around the edges of the pan)
  3. Add the red paste to the green paste and slowly mix the two pastes. Allow the pastes to fry for a while (10 mintutes)
  4. Add 2-3 tbsp of Everest Mutton Masala. Stir
  5. Add red chili pwd (according to taste), salt and turmeric.
  6. Add the mutton and stir it slowly in the paste. Allow the mutton to fry in the paste atleast 30 min.
  7. Add water and cover and let the mutton cook for 1 1/2 hours. Periodically check on the mutton and stir.

  8. Serve with roti/ naan and rice.

Wickedly delicious! Great table setting by the way.

Frushi anybody? OMG!

Before I left Chicago, Vaishali and I went to this amazing breakfast place called Orange with a Peel in Lincoln Park. Their signature dish is Frushi. Totally worth a try. Frushi is fruits wrapped in rice infused in coconut and orange juice served with mango puree and strawberry puree. Such a cute idea!
We ordered Chai Tea French Toast: Baked, chai tea-infused French toast, stuffed with Ricotta cheese, served over a chai tea latte reduction and topped with honey and caramelized apples. Can you believe this amazing combination. On a cold wintry day this is the ultimate comfort food. We also ordered their Huevos Rancheros: Eggs served with homemade tortilla chips, bean puree and salsa verde, topped with white cheddar cheese & potatoes. Not so signature but just as delicious!

Thanks Vaishali for sharing your excellent mutton recipe. I still dream about it.
Vaishali Katyarmal is an architect from India currently based and working in the Chicago Area. She founded  Silver |a+d|. She recently presented in Pecha Kucha Chicago on February 20th on what we can learn from the Gujarat earthquake and how it is relevant to the post earthquake work in Haiti. Check her presentation here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Not so successful spinach pies, but inspiring indovator

As my uncle would say "Nothing to write home about", even worse had to throw them away. So why blog about it. After all no one needs to know that disasters can happen to me, right. But I don't want to blame myself for it entirely after all no one told me that the Puff Pastry in the refrigerator (not freezer) was over a year old. Yes after I baked it I tasted what "rancid" really means. The butter and oil was rancid. But I did attempt to make a delicious filling with sauted onions, green chilies, garlic and spinach topped with some fresh feta cheese and delicious olives. I just did not know the pastry dough was bad or else I would have had amazingly gourmet home made spinach puff pies inspired by the fabulous recipe on smitten kitchen. I mean check those babies out. I know that recipe is Phylo and I was cheating with Puff pastry. But what the hell- no one told me that the dough had been sitting there for over a year. Dammit! Done ranting.

On a much brighter note... actually a much more inspiring note see the latest addition to my friend Shagun Singh's blog/ vlog 
The woman in the video is the incredibly intelligent Lina Srivastava whom I met through Shagun . She is extremely articulate and has  amazing insight on what social design could be, should be in India. (I also retweeted this link- my first retweet ever).

Discovered a new food blog with amazing pictures and was glad to hear that Ms. Humble Pies' biggest problem was photographing and presenting her food. Not so humble pie already has 42 entries for 2010. Has it been 42 days in the year already! Wow- that means we are left with only 323 days in the year or something like that. Yikes!

Yea so luckily I did not use all the spinach filling. Probably will eat them with eggs for breakfast tomorrow...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Its never too late for a Xmas present...

So as a result of my couch surfing for the past 4 months, Vanessa had to send my Christmas present to Alfred NY. I received it when I got here last week. In true Vanessa fashion it was a delightful present.
So I bet here is the story for this combination of objects:
As I wear these lovely red LL Bean woolen boots and nurse my sore ankle, I will read this book 'A Whole New Mind' by Daniel Pink and sip on a hot glass of mint tea. A whole new mind is about how the creative minded are now going to rule the world (Yes! There is hope for me!!).

Mooli (daikon), Radish & Carrot Winter Salad

Winter always has me craving for  Mooli- (Mooli ka Paratha mostly). So I found this recipe online decided to try it out on my aunt and uncle in Alfred. Check out the photo below of Alfred as of this morning. Brrr.
Well back to moolis and radishes- they are low calorie food (anybody calorie counting), full of water so they make you very full, very soon and are high in vitamin C. Everyone knows that carrots are good for your eyes. 

This is a very rustic beautiful salad.

A bunch of radish
1 root of Mooli (daikon)
Handful of baby carrots
Any medley of radish roots
5 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lemon
1 tangerine
Salt to taste
1 tbsp of chili flakes (less or more according to taste)
Handful of crumbled Feta
some fresh Parmesan cheese grated for the finish
Slivers of fresh basil

Give the radishes, moolis and carrots a rough chop.

Heat the Olive oil in a pan. Throw in the chili flakes and 4 cloves of chopped garlic.
Gently grind the remaining single clove of garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle. Grinding the garlic infuses its juices in the dressing.

Gently scoop the garlic and chili flakes from the heated oil and add to the pestle. Grate in some lemon zest and continue to slowly mix in the pestle.

Add the juice of one lemon and tangerine (carefully deseed before you squeeze in). Use a fork to gently mash the dressing.

Add the remainder oil.

Toss the dressing in the radishes, mooli and carrots.

Add the crumbled feta and Parmesan.

Dress with slivers of basil.

 Radish Roots on FoodistaRadish Roots

The view through the kitchen window in Alfred, NY. Like a postcard! Yes that is deer in the backyard.

Friday, February 12, 2010

So if I am going to be food blogging....

Yes yes... I thought about it. Why does this world need another amateur food blogger. And I thought this would be a good daily exercise.
So if I am going to be food blogging... things to keep in mind:
  1. Take fantastic, sumptuous, delectable pictures. Some of these food blogs have beautiful pictures.. its like food porn. I mean look at this blog-
  2. Cooking and eating to me is more about the experience of hanging out with my friends, talking, chatting, listening to music, drinking... I will definitely attempt to document it. 
  3. I am always excited to eat at new place, a strange place, a hole in the wall place. So if anyone does follow this blog do send me recommendations.
  4. Yes I eat insects- I know I know. But seriously try a fried caterpillar next time. A handful of caterpillar has as much if not more protein than T-bone steak. (check this video out, I'm not joking). Oh! And by the way I have cooked caterpillar and it is really delicious.
  5. It will be a good exercise to write. Make notes and be conscious of what I am eating and where I am eating.
  6. Make videos. 
  7. Eating healthy is important to me. Making food at home is the start of eating healthy. 
  8. It looks like a meat fest right now but there will be vegetarian options. 
  9. I will not abandon this blog. I will not abandon this blog. I will not abandon this blog. I will not abandon this blog. I will not abandon this blog.....
So for future inspirations:
Try some fried finkubala (caterpillar in Zambian)!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Meghna's Favorite: Beef Strips (Kalbi style) and Fish Sauce

Yes Fish sauce! Believe it or not it makes the best dipping sauce with these spicy babies.
So where do you buy short ribs? At the Mexican grocery store. But you have to tell the butcher that you want him to cut long thin slices for the grill. Those costillas or if you are into Korean food like me they look just like Kalbi. They cook up fast on a high heat or in the oven. The thinner they are the faster they cook.

Short Ribs:
2lbs of thinly sliced ribs serves around 4 people or 2 - depends on how much you want to eat.

Siriacha sauce
Sambhal sauce- or hot sauce of choice
corriander pwd
amchur (optional)
chilli powder

  1. Mix all the ingredients and generously apply on the short ribs
  2. Lay the short ribs on a baking dish (single layer)
  3. Cover with foil.
  4. Prick the foil and put in the over at 400 F for 45 minutes.
  5. OR place on a grill till cooked to your liking (medium or well done)

Fish Sauce - Dipping sauce
So this is interesting. Fish sauce is a Thai sauce used in the base of Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Filipino cooking. It is made of fermented fish and for more information you could Google it or Wiki it. But it is available in the Asian food aisles of most well stocked grocery stores.
What does it taste like: it is very salty and it is strangely not that fishy.

6-8 green chilies minced (tone it down or kick it up)
handful of cilantro
green ends of spring onions (optional)
minced garlic
juice of 5-7 limes (add more to reduce saltiness)

  1. Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice as needed (I go with more lime than less also it strengthens arms).
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of fish sauce in the mix.
  4. Use a fork to mash it.
Dip these fantastic ribs in the fish sauce.

Changes changes changes

So... since I last logged in - August 13th. A lot has happened. From being a newly single professional working my life away, I had to take a major break. I broke my leg in a bike fall (don't ask) had my foot in a cast, went through physical therapy and made the decision to quit a dead end job and follow my heart. Sounds exciting right. I hope so. So I wrapped up my life in Chicago and am currently couch surfing- Austin TX, New York NY, Hoboken NJ, Jersey City NJ, Alfred NY, Salt Lake City UT and maybe even home- India.
So what has this done for me - I have cooked a lot for all my gracious hosts and eaten at some fantastic cheap eateries that I am going to try to add to this series of posts.

Recap August 2009 to Jan 2010:

Walk to Indian Dunes- Vanessa's Birthday Nov 16th 2009
It was a slow, cold walk to Lake Michigan
We picnicked outdoor by the beach on this incredibly cold day. We shared squash soup and a sweet potato topped with Kurkure (yes Indian kurkure)
And after our long cold walk while we waited for the train in the warmth of the trainstation we had leftover chocolate bread and butter and hot tea from the thermos.

We came back from our long, cold walk and made a huge birthday dinner for 10 people. Vanessa backed this fantastic cake and I made fresh chicken curry from a chicken she bought at the Farmer's market at the Nature's Museum.
South Congress (SoCo) Austin, TX- Thanksgiving Nov 2009

Barton Springs, Austin TX- Thanksgiving Nov 2009

Drive to San Antonio- Rahul, Meg, Camilo and myself Christmas 2009
Mi Tierra - The Most Fantastic restaurant in San Antonio

San Antonio Riverwalk
Leaving Austin Jan 12th 2010