Thursday, May 28, 2009

Missed the boat?

I may be finding my feet in the kitchen, but I worry that I have been cursed with a black thumb. Y'all remember my intense, slightly psychotic excitement about the 6 tomato plants I had growing on the patio last summer. They're all dead. Well except for one wonderfully stubborn fellow, who despite no watering or attention, squeezed out this petite beauty for us this week!

I don't know why they died -- I'm guessing the containers were too small, that the sun was just too aggressive on our patio, that they just didn't like me...

But is it too late to try again? This article has me inspired... our courtyard is all concrete but maybe we could build a raised bed? And damn the zeitgest -- the community garden has a waiting list! HELP!



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Terrible" Short Rib "Tacos"

Drum roll please! The Short Ribs Recipe is finally here!

But, a double-dose of quotation marks, you ask? Stick around homies, I'll explain.

As a rule, Bren hates beer. All through college, while others drank that awful watered-down version of the already watered-down Bud, he stuck to coffee and Arizona Iced Teas (especially the Pina Colada one, which back in the day had the little packet of coconut flakes... remember those? GENIUS!). In fact he wasn't into alcohol at all.

These days, he still picks the sweet, lady-like drinks. Inevitably, the bartender will mix our drinks up, plonking the Makers & soda down in front of him, and gently laying the the gingerbread-baileys-cream-coconut-something or other concoction with an umbrella, in front of me.

We then dutifully switch them around.

One day, (at where else, Father's Office!) Bren discovered "Terrible" by Unibroue. It was love at first... gulp. If Guiness is a meal, then Terrible is a day of manly desserts... all the mythic colour and gravitas of the legendary Irish brew, except with the bonus of prune, cherry, espresso, even chocolate notes. But this is no prissy beer. It comes in a manly bottle! All dark, with just the word "Terrible" emblazoned on it, in silver. And, at FO, it comes in an ice bucket! Ha!

If you happen upon it, give it a try. Oh and, if you have a Trader Joe's around you, keep an eye out for the Trader Joe's Ale, which is often shelved right next to the Chimay; it's made by Unibroue and is a wonderful, more affordable way to dip your toe into the Unibroue universe. Just be prepared to say goodbye to that toe!

So that's the "Terrible" part. Now for the meat.

The other day, I found boneless short ribs on sale at the supermarket. They looked marvelous -- bright red and lean, and I loved the price -- nearly $2 off! I grabbed a pack with glee, not even knowing what I was going to do with them. I realise now that this is something I had always dreamed of being able to do -- grabbing some meat or produce that looked good, with no plan of how I was going to cook it, and yet able to turn it into something that night. Isn't it nice when you realise how much you've grown?!

Anyway, on the drive back to the homestead, I remembered my glory days in New York... this is where the "taco" part comes in.

Living with two Korean women (Joo!) meant that we frequently feasted on all manner of Korean treats: bulgogi (so many fun little flavours in one bowl!), kimchi jigae (oh so spicy), and my all-time favorite, kalbi: thin strips of beef marinated overnight in a secret brew, unique to each family it seems. Everyone has their own secret weapon to tenderize this chewy cut of meat: pineapple juice, pureed pear, even Pepsi!

"Marinate 'em in Terrible!" Bren said.

I balked. "But isn't that a waste of good beer?"

"No! It'll taste awesome!"

Here's the thing. Marinades don't penetrate much deeper than a 1/4" into a chunk of meat. Marinating for long periods of time doesn't help either -- that marinade ain't goin' any deeper than a 1/4" so all you're doing is turning the outside of your precious meat into mush. Ah, but what if your pieces of meat are about 1/4" thick and in need of some tenderization? Well then an overnight sweet-ish beer-bath will do quite nicely, thank you!

I loved how this turned out: reminiscent of kalbi but with a little Aarti kick! Classic Indian flavours (ginger, garlic, fenugreek, garam masala etc.) give way to an unexpected beer twang. I made some simple white rice, laid a steaming spoonful into a fresh red oak lettuce leaf, and topped it with a piece of deliciously caramelized beef that I cooked outside on the grill. A little drizzle of either extra marinade (don't use the stuff that came in contact with the beef though. That's unsanitary. Make a little extra beforehand.) or some mango chutney and you're good to go. With grilling season upon us (yippee!), this is excellent party food!

If you don't have Terrible, or can't stand the idea of "wasting" it in a marinade when it would taste perfect flowing down your gullet, I understand! I'm sure a Guiness would work just as well. Also, I didn't pound the pieces of beef thin enough, so make sure you take the time to do it; my pieces weren't as delicate as the ones I'd had at Korean joints, and so they weren't quite as tender as I'd hoped. Alternatively, if you can't be bothered to go through all that pounding trouble (which I might forgo myself!), you can find 'em all ready to go at Korean or Asian supermarkets usually.

"Terrible" Short Rib "Tacos"
"Terrible"-marinated Boneless Beef Short Ribs

You'll need:
2lbs boneless beef short ribs, at least 1" thick
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp ginger, minced
3/4 cup Terrible (or Guinness)
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fenugreek seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sweet paprika

For serving:
1 head of red oak or butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated but intact
2 cups steamed white rice
Mango chutney

1) Combine everything except beef ribs in food process, process until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

2) Prep meat. Trim excess fat and silve skin from meat, then slice each piece of rib meat into 4 pieces, cutting at an angle. Lay these pieces between two large pieces of plastic wrap, and pound away with a meat mallet or a heavy pan until they're all about 1/4" thick. I followed the instructions from Cooks Illustrated:

3) Pour some marinade into a non-reactive (glass or plastic) dish. Lay beef in the marinade in an even layer, and then pour the rest of the marinade over it. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

4) The next day, you can either cook it on the grill or under the broiler. I like the grill better. If you are using the broiler, place the meat on one of those broiler rack pans, and cook under the broiler for about 8 minutes until cooked to your liking.

5) If you're going to cook it on the grill, light your coals, and once they're covered in a layer of ash, push them to one side of your grill. Lay your grill grate over the top, and once you've cleaned it, using a pair of tongs and a paper towel, rub with some vegetable oil. Then place the meat on the grate on the side over the hot coals. Turn a few times, and cook about 7 minutes until well-browned on both sides. Move to the cooler side and continue with second batch if you have one. Remove all the meat to a platter and serve: wrap each piece of meat in a lettuce "taco" with a spoonful of rice and a drizzle of mango chutney.



Monday, May 25, 2009

Aarti Paarti Ep. 14: Mo-Beet-o Salad!

Summer is officially here, and that means it's mojito time! But not the way you think.

Sweet minty-lime cocktail from Havana... meet your root-vegetable soul mate, the humble beetroot. Dress her up in a little lime juice, mint and a hint of fresh ginger, along with some colourful blood orange, and she's ready to kick up her heels with the best Havana has to offer.

And perhaps we can sing you two into romantic bliss? With a little help from my friends, and Gnarls Barkley?

This is, yet again, a simple and cheap recipe, putting me out a mere $7 or so (excluding the cost of olive oil, which I already had). If you'd like to stretch it further, I had it for lunch over a bed of arugula and mache, with a few dollops of a creamy goat cheese. Perfecto!

Mo-Beet-o Salad!
Roasted beets and Blood Orange in mint-lime-fresh ginger dressing

You'll need:
1 bunch yellow or chiogga (candy-striped) beets
Juice of 1 lime
2 sprigs mint
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Extra virgin olive oil
1 big blood orange or navel orange
Goat cheese (optional)

1) Wash and scrub beets. Dry, cut off stalks. Wrap in an aluminium foil package, roast for 45 minutes for 45 minutes, until a knife goes through them easily. Set aside to cool, and peel.

2) In a bowl, combine lime juice, grated ginger, and mint leaves (cut into ribbons). Set aside as you slice beets into wedges.

3) Whisk enough olive oil into the lime juice mixture to make a dressing to the consistency you prefer. Season with salt and pepper.

4) Cut top and bottom off blood orange. Cut off peel. Slice between white segment walls, and drop segments into bowl. Squeeze orange juice out of remaining pith and membranes over the bowl as well. Toss gently and serve! (You may also like to serve with some creamy goat cheese, over a bed of arugula!)




Anyone got a spare, new-ish laptop they wanna give us?!

Bren and I have dubbed ourselves "Studio Baba", after the pet-name we call each other. Studio Baba puts out a LOT of content: Bren's daily video blog and cinematic tshirts, my daily blog (ahem, I know, I've fallen behind!), his 7 shows a week through Hothouse Films, the News Show, my cooking show... not to mention the myriad other projects we both have brewing on the back burner. Phew!

AND, we do this all on one Macbook Pro. Just the one. We have another computer but it is so slow that opening Facebook on it is an exercise in finding the patience of Job. And so things are starting to fall through the cracks. Namely, this blog. I haven't written in days! I feel awful about it!

So yeah... if you know anyone, send 'em my way, won't you?



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Aarti Paarti Show Ep. 13: Wannabe Nobu Black Cod!

I promise that short ribs recipe is coming. I can see you drooling from here. Have some self-respect. Use a napkin. Come on!

Heehee just kidding.

In the meantime, here's some more fodder for drooling: what do Nobu, Sponge Bob and sake have in common?

They're all in my show this week!!

Have you ever had Nobu's black cod? He marinates it in miso, mirin, sake and sugar, then cooks it over high heat so that it caramelizes on top. The slight greasiness of black cod, paired with the salty-sweetness of the marinade results in, no joke, a party in your mouth.

But Nobu, bless his heart, who has opened new spots with Bobby (de Niro. You're not on a first-name basis with him? Oh.) everywhere from Dubai to Moscow, charges a pretty penny for this dish.

What bliss to realise that, despite living on unemployment checks, that party-in-the-mouth could be mine again! There IS a way to make it at home, for far fewer pretty pennies, and with the added bonus of tamarind which bumps up the tangy quotient. It was so good that even my friend Ross, who just happened to stop by, and who really doesn't like fish as a rule, found himself eating more and more of it.

Oh, and for those of you who are vegetarians, this marinade works pretty well on tofu too!

Wannabe Nobu Black Cod!
Black Cod marinated in tamarind, white miso, sake and honey

4 black cod filets (or any fleshy white fish like tilapia or perhaps even mahi mahi; OR a block of extra-firm tofu)
1/2 cup white miso paste
1/4 cup honey
1.5 tbsp tamarind concentrate
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp sake

1) 1-3 days prior to cooking: if you're using tofu, put it on a paper-towel lined plate, place another piece of folded over paper towel on top. then, place a plate and two heavy cans on top of the whole thing. Let it sit for 30 minutes, so that all excess water is squeezed out of the thing.

2) In a bowl, whisk together miso paste, honey, tamarind concentrate, mirin and sake. Place fish in a ziploc bag, pour marinade over the fish. Seal, squeezing all the air out and gently rub marinade into the fish. Let it sit, on a plate in the fridge overnight or up to 3 days. I normally hate the overnight marinade recipes, because it's such a pain in the bum, but in this one, it's really, truly worth it.

3) When you're ready to cook 'em: preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit/200 degrees celsius.

4) Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, with a little oil in it. When hot (but not smoking!), add fish. Allow to cook 2 minutes. WARNING: it will smell a little funky! But don't worry. The smell will go away, and then it will smell delicious. It just needs to get its stink on for a second.

5) Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the filets browned side-up on the baking sheet. Throw into the oven for 10 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Serve with some steamed green veggies, like chinese broccoli or bok choy.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Best Laid Plans...

Guys... I had BIG plans today to post a gorgeous boneless short ribs recipe I conjured up this week. But then I got a last-minute cake order (yeah!) and the plans went out the window. So stay tuned; I will post it tomorrow. Until then, here's a photo to whet your appetite:



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Aarti Paarti Ep. 12: Massaged Kale Salad with Mango & Pepitas!

It has come to my attention that I have a thing for greens: Kale Frittata, Crazy Bastard Greens, Lion's Den Methi (Fresh Fenugreek Leaves), the Ugly Duckling Salad...

Perhaps it's because eating greens just makes you feel better about yourself and life in general. Heck, we know what spinach did for Popeye: not only did a can of the slimy stuff make his muscles blow up, they helped him get/keep his girl! Just imagine what greens could do for you!!

This might be my favorite way to prepare kale because it is a total surprise, flavour-wise. That hearty, masculine kale that we all know and love, pulls up its skirts and reveals its decidedly feminine side; it tastes positively SWEET! Isn't that wild? I love it!

And since I love bullet points too, here's some other reasons I love this salad:
  • It's cheap (I made enough to last a couple of days for about $7)
  • It's a snap to make, especially because there's no cooking involved
  • Since there's no cooking involved, that means no turning on the stove, handy for the hot days ahead of us
  • It lasts for days in the fridge and only gets better as it soaks up more dressing
  • It goes with practically anything
  • It's great to bring to cookouts because it can sit out, and not wilt.
Oh, and did I mention that's it GORGEOUS?! Dark, lush green, bright yellow and orange, the bright green of the cilantro... it's certainly impressive.

Plus, you get to say that you massaged your kale. And no that's not a double entendre.

Although, if you go through all the atmosphere-setting steps I went through before I massaged my bowl of kale, people *might* think you're a weirdo. Don't know what I mean? Watch! Giggle! Get hungry and make it!! Repeat!

(Oh and make sure to click "HQ" if your computer can handle watching it in higher quality; it looks and sounds so much better).



Monday, May 11, 2009

Facial tips

My skin decided to start freaking out a few years ago. So long gorgeous, flawless skin that I took for granted: hello crater-ville.

It was awful. I was so embarrassed. But the other day, a friend at church pointed out that my skin looked good, and I realised, Hey! Yeah it is! I mean, it's still not perfect but it's much better than it used to be.

So I thought I'd share what I've been doing.

1) I broke down and bought into the ProActiv hype. But it had NOTHING to do with Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson urging me to get it on TV. Maybe Kelly Clarkson. Man, why is she so cool? (And yet I have not bought one of her albums? Anyone with me? That one song was great...). ProActiv broke the cycle of constant breakouts and smoothed my skin out. BUT it didn't help the cystic acne that I had developed which is the worst.

2) Ah, but the cysts seemed to dissipate after I cut out... DAIRY. Yup. Lactose intolerance (for me) goes beyond just my intestinal tract. I ended up cutting out a good deal of dairy anyway, as part of our dessert fast (dessert once every two months only), but I stay away from cheese and milk as much as possible. It seems to have made a big difference. Thank goodness for almond milk and soy creamer for my coffee. Also, I suspect that cutting out a lot of processed sugar has helped. For the most part, I use honey as a sweetner. But, oh no, what about those scars?

3) Every week, I mix together a couple of tablespoons of yogurt with the juice of half a lemon. I spread a little all over my face, let it sit for 15 minutes and then wash it off. This does a couple of things: lightens the scars, and I suspect tightens and moisturizes my face. I'm not gonna lie girls... it smells FUNKY! But you'll get used to it, and you'll see effects almost immediately. It's fantastic! At first, I used it every other day. Now I use it about twice a week.

4) I can't believe I'm doing this, but I now wear sunscreen almost every day. I hate it. I used to pride myself on being one of the sacred dark people, who can withstand almost any amount of sun without getting burnt -- that's still true, but the sun does not help erase scars, as I once thought. Plus, the sun is glaring just a little heavier with the thinning ozone layer right? Might as well take all the protection I can get.

5) This is a weird superficial one but... I prayed for good skin. In fact, I have been praying every other day for it. Now listen, I know this is a surface-y kind of thing to ask for. But, as long as I keep it in perspective (ie, praying for all kinds of other loftier Miss-America type of things like world peace etc etc first), these kinds of requests are alright I think... the Lord knows that they're the icing on my (dairy-free) cake. I figure that when He's sick of me asking for help, He'll tell me. And so far, I think He's alright with it. Thank Goodness He's such a patient Father!

Anyway, thought I'd post this in case it happens to help any of you.

I wish I had some before and after photos. I'll keep an eye out and post 'em if I find some.



Friday, May 8, 2009

Boys Play Games

For his birthday last month, Bren treated himself to a day of videogames, and a burger at Father's Office. Our friend Zandy came over too, so that they could play together. About 20 minutes into their "endeavours", I snapped this classic photo of what happens to boys when they play video games.

Such... focus?


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Aarti Cooks: Baby's First Chicken Curry ("Murg Tamatar")

Curries scare the be-geezus out of me.

The curry is the backbone of Indian cooking. Ladle a spoonful into your mouth and a Bollywood musical number verily opens up before your eyes, rickshaw gas fumes flood your nostrils and the soliciting calls of street-hucksters ("hey madam! take, for 20 rupees only!") ripple through your memory's ears.

But curries are wicked hard to make. Which is why I turn into a little girl in front of the shopping-mall Santa when I think about them: "Mummy! I'm scaaaaaaaaaaaaaaared!".

Like the countless myths about India itself -- no, it isn't this magical, spiritual shangri-la where everyone does yoga, finds their third eye and lives happily ever after with each other; no, visiting an ashram doesn't mean you've experienced India; no the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism isn't a peaceful place where people aren't corrupt or violent or obsessively caught up in expressing superiority over others (caste system); no we aren't all born with the kama sutra ingrained in our DNA; and NO, we don't ride around on elephants all day (seriously, my acupuncturist asked me that last one) -- there are a lot of myths about curries too!

First off, there is no such thing as curry flavour or curry powder, at least not in India. "Curry powder" is a shortcut melange of spices produced mostly for/by the Western market, which I'm not saying is bad; heck I used it in my curried popcorn!

It's a quick fix, it usually tastes alright but all I'm saying is... it's not authentic. Flip through any Indian cookbook and you'll find 6-kazillion different variations of spices, all under the label "curry". In fact, "curry" just means "sauce". Curry leaves, which you'll find frequently used in South Indian cooking, do not make curry powder. There are, however, a number of spice-mixes or masalas (eg. bafaat powder, stew powder, chaat masala, chole masala) that Indian mums use frequently.

Oh which brings up another point. Masala is an Indian spice mixture, wet or dry. Marsala (with an "r") is a sweet wine. Note the difference. Tattoo it in your memory banks. Don't do it again.

Now onto the biggest secret about making a curry, one that I just figured out a few years ago.

You can have every ingredient on hand, every spice, every piece of garlic minced to the right size... but if your technique is off, your curry is a goner. It's one of those "it's all in the wrist" kind of things, a kind of intuition that (annoyingly) only comes from being under the watchful eye of a skilled mentor, and years of practice.

Mum's wrist knows all there is to know. Having cooked for one family or another from a young age, her wrist is all, "go ahead! Blindfold me! I can STILL do it!". It's not just a matter of memorizing recipes or knowing which spices sing together in both delectable harmony and yummy dissonance... it's knowing how to saute the onions just so, how to "fry" the masala until that mystical mature state, how to bloom the spices enough that they lose their bitterness but too much so they taste burned.

Basically, it's the kind of thing that no cookbook can teach you.

It's the kind of thing I should have learned from my mum. But as much as I like to rewrite history, I didn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen with mum in my formative years.

Instead, I was watching "Dallas". Truly. I love Dallas. JR EWING! GENIUS!

You're not going to be great at it, at first. But you will get better. Being a pompous butt, I thought I had the upper-hand, that somehow being born in India, having uttered my first affluvia-covered scream in Bombay, having eaten curries practically every day of my life until I was 18 -- oh, I thought that the curry would just fall together effortlessly under my hands. Oh no. So wrong.

Happily, I think I'm getting the hang of it. There's something distinctly old-school about it -- you have to be patient, attentive, alert... No, you can't check Facebook in between. You can't change your kid's diaper. You can't crack open a beer -- well ok, I take that last one back. There's always time to crack open a beer! And you'll need it! Ha!

So here's some of the techniques I've figured out. Feel free to comment with more!

This was the first thing Mum allowed me to do in the kitchen. I hated it. I thought she had given me the most mindless and boring task but I realise now that she actually entrusted the very basis of the curry to me! Well-fried onions are the foundation of most every curry.

Take your time with this part, and don't let them burn. You're looking for your onions to turn a deep dusty pink, then golden-brown (but not crispy), and smell sweet. You can make this happen by tamping them down in the center of your pot, allowing them to cook for 30 seconds or so until they get a nice crust, then re-stir and repeat. Don't undercook them -- not only will your curry taste weak and thin, the onions themselves won't dissolve, so you'll end up chewing little pieces of onion. Which isn't that great. Use red onions -- we grew up with the smaller, squat versions of the ones we get here in the States; I find them slightly sweeter and more assertively onion-y than the white or yellow ones. If that's all you have, no big deal.

You won't find this step in this recipe, but you'll find it in others. Spice powders need to bloom in oil, releasing their flavours and cooking out their "raw" flavour. I also find that blooming the spices gets rid of that silty-powdery texture too. But maybe that's in my head. :) Blooming is just a fancy term which means that you will stiry-fry the spices (added to your sauteed onions, or just to the oil itself) for about 30 seconds, until you can really smell their bouquet. Don't fry them too long, or else they'll burn and your curry's done for. You'll often find that a recipe will often tell you to add tomatoes after you've cooked the spices -- that cools the whole thing down so the spices don't burn. If you're worried about burning them, you can do what my mum advised: add the tomatoes first, let them get a little mushy, and then add your spices. They're less likely to burn that way.

This is the trickiest step, yet another point where your curry can either soar, or sink!

Some curry recipes will require you make a wet masala; throw some onions, green chilies, tamarind, tomatoes or what have you, in a blender or food processor, and hold that button until it's smooth. Or you can kick it old-school, like my aunt still does in Mangalore and use a masala stone:

It's a great workout! But no fun!

It'll be a bit watery in the blender, but once it hits the warm pan (medium heat), the water will evaporate, the masala will tighten up, deepen in colour, and it'll start to smell like an Indian kitchen in your house! You'll want to keep cooking and tossing it until you see tiny droplets of oil forming on the surface of the masala. It'll move around the pan more fluidly too, and when you do move it around, you'll see a thin trail of oil, kind of like that silvery stuff snails leave on the ground. That's the best way I can describe it. Mum -- have any suggestions on this step? I'm still learning this one.

After this point, you're home free.

This week, I decided to tackle the ol' curry. I'd made a few before, and each one is getting a little bit closer to my mum's style -- so I'm encouraged. This one is what I'm calling Baby's First Curry! It's relatively easy, as long as you have a good blender or mini food processor. Let me know if you try it.

Baby's First Chicken Curry
Tomato-Poppy Seed Chicken Curry

1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts will dry out)
1 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic
4 chiles de arbol
1/2" ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp honey
14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
1 tbsp white poppy seeds (you can find 'em at the Indian shoppe), blended in 1/4 cup milk
(OR, bypass the poppy seeds & milk, use 2 tbsp yogurt)

1) Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large deep pot over medium heat. Add onions and bay leaves. Saute until pinkish-golden brown.

2) Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, whiz together garlic, chiles, ginger, turmeric and paprika with a little water until as smooth as possible.

3) Once onions are cooked, add the masala from the blender. Cook, stirring often until deepened in colour, and oil droplets appear on the surface of the masala.

4) Add honey and chicken, coating the meat with the masala. Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes until masala sticks to the chicken.

5) Pull tomatoes out of the can and squish into the pot, crushing them with your hands. You should have about 4 or 5 tomatoes in that can. Add a splash of tomato juice too. Stir, bring to a simmer, semi-cover and cook about 20 minutes until chicken is tender and gravy has thickened. Turn heat down, add either poppy seed-milk mixture or yogurt and stir gently. Taste for seasonings. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve over rice.



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aarti Paarti Ep. 11: Fava Bean Pillows with Brown Butter & Crispy Mint

I am so refreshed and excited about Season 2 of the cooking show, guys! Woohoo!

This might be my favorite episode so far, both because the recipe is smack-your-knee delicious... but also because my wicked talented friend, Paul Newman, agreed to come play with me. His songs are deceptively simple and have a way of nuzzling their way into your heart and your memory banks. And his costuming is impeccable. I LOVE this man.

This is a fresh, sophisticated to serve fava beans, those almost neon-green beauties you'll find at the farmers market these days. If you can't find them where you are, use some edamame or peas. Cook 'em with some green garlic, ginger, garam masala and shrimp... whizz 'em up in your food processor, stuff 'em into wonton wrappers, steam and douse in browned butter and crispy mint... and a fancy-looking meal is yours in minutes, and for only a few dollars. (I got my favas for $0.99/lb at Elat Market!).

Take a look!

Aarti Paarti Ep. 11: Fava Bean Pillows with Brown Butter & Crispy Mint! from aarti on Vimeo.

Minty Fresh Fava Bean Pillows with Browned Butter and Crispy Mint!

You'll need:

1 pound fava beans (weighed while in pods), or about 1/5 cups of shelled favas
1 bulb green garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 pound cooked shrimp
2 tbsp yogurt
1/4 tsp sriracha sauce
1/4 tsp garam masala
zest of 1 lemon, plus the lemon
2 sprigs plus extra for stuffing, fresh mint
1 pkg square wonton wrappers
Small bowl of water
salt and pepper

1) In a big pot, boil lots and lots of water. Set up your steamer basket if you have one. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp olive oil in skillet. Add garlic, ginger and fava beans. Saute gently about 5 minutes.

2) Throw shrimp in your food processor. Pulse quickly until coarsely chopped. Remove from processor bowl.

3) Add fava bean mixture to the empty processor bowl. Add yogurt, sriracha, garam masala, lemon zest, mint, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

4) Grab two dumpling wrappers. Spoon 1 tsp filling on one wrapper. Place a mint leaf over the filling. Dip your pastry brush or your finger into your bowl of water and run it along the edges of both wrappers. Place empty wrapper over filling, squeeze edges together, squeezing the air out as you go.

5) Either steam or boil the raviolis for about 5 minutes. If you're boiling them, turn the heat down so your water is at a gentle boil.

6) While the little pillows are either boiling or steaming, make the brown butter: heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add a spoonful of butter, and stand back as it splutters. Keep a careful eye on it -- it will start to turn brown, and your kitchen will smell gorgeously nutty and sweet. As soon as that happens, throw a few mint leaves in and turn the heat off. Immediately pull your pillows out of the steamer/boiling water into your serving dish. Spoon a little brown butter over them, sprinkle with salt, pepper and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Serve immediately!



Monday, May 4, 2009

Robia LaMorte

This Saturday, our church held its seasonal women's brunch. I went, not knowing much about who was coming to speak, mostly drawn to the opportunity to help out in the kitchen. But oh, was I in for a treat!

Robia LaMorte was the guest speaker. I had never heard of her before but you might recognize her as "Pearl" of Prince's Diamond and Pearl. If you're a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you may remember her as the love interest of Giles, the professor. She became a follower of Christ about three months into shooting Buffy, and her story is refreshing, reverently un-religious, and spoken in a language all of us can understand. At the same time she is full of reverence for God, and she has been given some unbelievable wisdom about Him... that He wants to set us free!

Want some freedom? I do.

She has totally re-invigorated me. I can't say enough good stuff about her. Check out her stuff! She's fabulous!



Sunday, May 3, 2009

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