Comfort Food

Chai Tea

March 11, 2011

Chai Tea

Chai is the word for tea in many parts of the world.  It is a centuries old beverage which has played an important role in many cultures.  Chia from India is a spiced milk tea that has become increasingly popular throughout the world.  The spices used vary from region and among households in India.  The most common are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper.  Drinking chai is part of life in India and many who travel to India come away with fond chai drinking experiences.  Chai has become common at specialty beverage shops and there is a growing line of prepackaged consumer products.  Great chai can often be found in Indian restaurants along with great food, but I think making your own chai provides immense satisfaction and makes your house smell divine! 

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup Water

1 Bag Black Tea (Orange Pekoe, English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong or Darjeeling)

3 Inch Piece of Cinnamon Stick

2 Cups Milk

2 Tablespoons Honey

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

½ Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cardamon

In a small saucepan combine water, tea bag and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Discard tea bag and cinnamon stick.  Stir milk, sugar, vanilla, ginger and cardamom into tea.  Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture is heated through (do not boil).  Serve warm.  Serves 2

Veal Parmigiana

March 10, 2011

Veal Parmigiana

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Marinara Sauce

1 Cup Plain Dried Bread Crumbs

½ Teaspoon Salt

½ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

1 Large Egg

2 Tablespoons Water

6 Veal Cutlets (1 ½ Pounds)

3 Tablespoons Butter

¼ Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Cup Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese – Shredded

Prepare Marinara Sauce.  On waxed paper, combine bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.  In a pie plate, beat egg and water.  Dip cutlets in egg mixture, then in bread crumbs; repeat to coat each cutlet twice.  In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add cutlets, a few at a time, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side, using tongs to transfer cutlets to platter as they are browned. 

Return cutlets to skillet.  Spoon sauce evenly over cutlets.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and top with mozzarella.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook just until cheese has melted – about 5 minutes.  Serve over your favorite pasta.  Serves 6

Marinara Sauce

This sauce is very versatile!

INGREDIENTS

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Chopped Small Onion

1 Finely Chopped Garlic Clove

1 Can (28 Ounces) Plum Tomatoes

2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil (use dried if this is what you have)

½ Teaspoon Salt

In a medium sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook.  Stir until onion is tender – for about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, basil and salt.  Heat to boiling, break up tomatoes with side of spoon.  Reduce heat and partially cover and simmer.  Stir occasionally until sauce has thickened slightly – for about 20 minutes.  Use to coat 1 pound of pasta for 4 main-dish servings.  Makes 3 ½ cups.

Tiramisu

March 9, 2011

Tiramisu

INGREDIENTS

7 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar For Egg Yolks

3 Cups Mascarpone Cheese

4 ½ Tablespoons Water

1 ½ Tablespoons Powdered Gelatin

3 Egg Whites

¼ Cup Sugar For Egg Whites

1 Cup Heavy Cream – Whipped

2 ½ Cups Cooled Espresso Coffee

½ Cup Kalhua

20 t0 24 Ladyfingers

1 Cup Chocolate Shavings

In a mixer whip yolks and sugar until thick and pale in color.  Add the mascarpone and whip until well combined.  Pour water into a small bowl and then pour the powdered gelatin over it.  DO NOT STIR.  Allow the gelatin to absorb all of the water which will take about 15 minutes.  Next place the bowl on top of a small saucepan containing simmering water to create a double boiler.  Immediately turn off the heat and allow the gelatin to dissolve completely.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to a soft peak and gradually add the sugar.  Next slowly pour in the dissolved gelatin.  Whip to a stiff and glossy peak.  Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone and egg yolk mixture and the fold in the whipped cream. 

In a separate bowl, combine the espresso and kalhua.  Soak 1 ladyfinger at a time in the espresso mixture.  In an 8 x 10 inch pan, arrange the soaked ladyfingers close together in neat rows until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.  Pour ½ of the “mousse” over the ladyfingers and smooth with a spatula.  Sprinkle ½ of the chocolate shavings over the mouse.  Create another layer and chill until set. 

Serves 10 to 12

Curried Cauliflower Soup

March 8, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 Chopped Onion

1 Tablespoon Minced Ginger

2 Cups Cauliflower Florets

1 Tablespoon Curry Powder

1 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

1 Cup Coconut Milk

Chopped Cilantro For Garnish

Place onion, ginger, salt & pepper in a medium sized pot along with 3 cups of water.  Cook for 10 minutes on high heat or until onion is tender.  Next add the cauliflower florets and curry.  Cook for another 5 to 8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.  Add 1 cup coconut milk and cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and puree using a standing blender or food processor.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Serves 4

Steak Fajitas

March 7, 2011

Steak Fajitas

Steak fajitas came before any other type of fajita.  Mexican laborers created this dish out of necessity while working along the Texas & Mexico border.  Laborers were partially paid with the less desirable cuts of beef and eventually came up with a good way to use their “non-cash wages.” 

Originally, and still today, the beef used for a fajita is usually, cut into strips and placed into a wrap with a selection of vegetables.  Bell peppers and jalapeno are very popular.  The secret to tender fajitas is marinating the meat, especially if you are using skirt steak.  The meat should be no more than ¾ inch thick and should be cooked on a high heat for a short cooking time.

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ Pounds Flank or Sirloin Steak – Sliced Into Thin Strips

1 Sliced Red Onion

1 Green Bell Pepper – Sliced Into Strips

1 Red Bell Pepper – Sliced Into Strips

1 Yellow Bell Pepper – Sliced Into Strips

2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

½ Teaspoon Sea Salt

¼ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

1 Small Can Diced Green Chilies

½ Cup Chopped Cilantro

12 Flour Tortillas

Sour Cream

Guacamole or Sliced Avocado

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Salsa

In a large skillet, sauté red, green & yellow bell peppers along with red onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until crisp and tender.  Remove and set aside.  In the same skillet, sauté the steak, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in the remaining oil for 4 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness.  Return the vegetable to the pan, add the diced green chiles and the cilantro and heat through. 

Heat flour tortillas in a preheated oven (350° F) wrapped in foil for about 10 minutes.  You can also heat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds, but I prefer heating in the oven.  Remove tortillas from the oven and place in a tortilla warmer to keep them warm.  If you don’t have a tortilla warmer then leave them in the foil to keep them warm.  To assemble the tortillas spread some of the guacamole on a tortilla, top it with the steak and vegetable mixture and then top it with salsa, cheddar cheese and a little sour cream.  Roll up the tortilla to enclose the filling and enjoy!  Serves 12

Steak Fajita Marinade

1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

½ Cup Tequila

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Fresh Lime Juice

5 Large Crushed Garlic Cloves

3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

4 Fresh Jalapenos (Minced – Stems & Seeds Removed)

1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Cilantro

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

3 Teaspoons Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 Teaspoon Lemon Pepper

1 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Pour marinade over meat in a shallow glass bowl or a large zip lock bag.  I love marinating meats in these 1 gallon plastic zip lock bags!  Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.  Makes enough to marinate 3 pounds of steak.

Creamy Potato Gratin

March 5, 2011

Creamy Potato Gratin

INGREDIENTS

3 Garlic Cloves Cut In Half

4 Tablespoons Butter

3 Pounds (Peeled & Scrubbed) Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 Cups Milk

1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1 Teaspoon Salt

½ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Rub half of 1 garlic clove all over the inside of a 3 quart shallow glass or ceramic baking dish.  Throw away the garlic piece.  Rub ½ tablespoon of the butter all over the dish and cut the remaining butter into small pieces and reserve. 

With a sharp knife, cut potatoes into 1/8 inch thick slices.  In a 12 inch skillet, combine potatoes, milk and remaining garlic.  Heat to boiling on medium heat and stir occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Stir in nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Remove and throw away garlic cloves.  Carefully transfer potato mixture to prepared baking dish and spread evenly.  Top with the reserved butter pieces. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Potatoes should be tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 12

Victoria’s Naughty Naughty Mashed Potatoes

November 26, 2010

Naughty Naughty Mashed Potatoes!

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

5 Pounds Peeled & Cubed Russet Potatoes

2 Sticks Butter

¾ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder

½ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Cook potatoes in boiling water until very tender for approximately 20 minutes.  Drain well.  Mash potatoes with butter.  Add cream, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Mix well.  Super yummy and super naughty.

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