Indian Food & Cook Books

My beautiful girlfriend (who stole my heart from the very first moment I laid my eyes on her)

and I love browsing second hand book shops.There are lots of treasures to be found there and the price is right too. Recently I bought 3 old cooks books. The 3 books cost a total of $9. I like the older cookbooks because they are not about the shiny pictures or  fancy lay outs, but more about authentic recipes. I bought a japanese cook book, a book about making all sorts of pickled veggies and an Indian cookbook.

I love Indian food, and many moons ago when I lived in New York, I would very frequently eat at Indian restaurants. I especially enjoyed stuffing myself at the lunch time buffets. So yesterday I decided to do a bit of Indian cooking. I followed a few recipes as I had never made it before. I don’t use recipes often, and many times I will use a recipe as the basis and then will add my own interpretation of it. But with Indian food and their delicate spices, I decided to follow along and see what would come from it. The only “unique” ingredients that are a must have for what I’m about to show you, are one or two stalks of lemon grass and a few kaffir lime leaves. To accompany the Indian recipes I made some of my favorite Indonesian Coconut rice.

The kaffir lime leaves are an integral part of South East Asian cooking in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Laos. The leaves and fruit are said to have medicinal properties. The actually lime is from what I understand not edible and so acidic that you can’t cook with it but it gets used as a cleaning agent. Never the less, the leaves have the power to impart tremendous flavour into a dish.

So let’s start with the rice. 2 cups of rice (jasmine or basmati works well), cup of coconut milk, 1 and 1/2 cup of water. 1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tsp salt, 3 kaffir lime leaves, 1 inch piece of fresh ginger and half a stalk of lemon grass. (beat the lemon grass a bit to release the oils and flavor and then tie it in a knot. That way it’s easy to take out when it’s cooked. Put all the ingredients in a pot, stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. It’s done when all the liquid is done. A little trick. Let the rice rest for about 15 minutes before serving and after removing from the burner. If you ever try and make this, you owe me a comment afterwards and you must share with everyone that this is some of the, if not THE best rice you have ever tasted, deal? Remove the lemon grass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves before serving

Next I had 2 sausage patties (Whole Foods carries a brand called Southern Raised. Their pork products are simply delicious. I buy their bacon which is thicker and tastier than any packaged brand and their sausage patties. It’s in the butcher department) and put them in my cast iron skillet. Next I cut up a piece of lamb shoulder chop (One of the cheaper cuts.) into bite size pieces. When the patties are half way done, chop them into pieces with your spatula, and then add the lamb. Mix together well. Now add 2 tbsps of tomato paste. mix well. add 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of coconut milk. Add some spices. This is what I added, mustard powder, garam masala, cumin, turmeric and a bit of chili powder. Let it simmer on low heat.

Next ( this is getting good right ? 🙂 ) wash a head of cauliflower and break it into florets. They don’t have to be small. Cut your self 2 small green chilles or 1 jalapeno, or a scotch bonnet pepper if you like it really hot. Decide hot hot you want it and pick your pepper accordingly and add some or no seeds. I used a hungarian wax pepper. They are light green and long. They have spice but not too hot. almost like a milder jalapeno but with just as much flavor. 3 cloves of garlic chopped. 1 tbs garam masala, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp salt and a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely sliced in to thin strips.

Put you oil of choice in the pan. I used some ghee and butter. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, when they start to pop, which is pretty quick, add your garlic, ginger, wax pepper/jalapeno/ chillies. Stir and then add the cauliflower. Fry it all up for 2-3 minutes until the cauliflower get a bit of browning to it. Next add in the garam masala, stir well. add 1/4 cup of water (for one head of cauliflower)  cover and turn down the heat. Let it simmer until the cauliflower is soft but not mushy. Now if you want to kick it up a notch, you can add a dash of heavy cream, or 2 tbsps of cream cheese at the end and mix it all in so you have a bit of a cream sauce. Chop up a bit of cilantro and sprinkle as flavor enhancer.

I was blown away by how good dinner was last night. It tasted like a restaurant meal and it made me think of how expensive restaurants really are and how much money you save if you don’t go out to eat all that often. This entire meal cost me about $10 and there was enough for 4 adults. That’s right $10 for four adults. The only way this would cost you more if you have to buy the spices too. But even then you would still come in around $20. And then you have the spices for many more meals.

Make it a great day…hope you’re eating something yummy for dinner.

DO IT

I saw this on the beach just a few days ago. Can you believe it????

Thanksgiving is around the corner and before you know it…2011 will be over and done with. Time to make New Year’s resolutions perhaps??

I say this… DO IT! Do it NOW! Live your life, make the changes you dream about, time passes, enjoy every minute!! DO IT! Stop eating crap food and eat only real food have some wine with it. Exercise yourself into happiness! And that doesn’t have to be lifting weights or running marathons or cross fit or whatever else you think is fitness and made to believe by the hype of marketing. Just move your body every day. Take your loved one for a walk, so what if it’s raining. Run some sprints, jump around, play with your kids. DO IT! Are you hearing me??  DO IT!  You will love the way you feel, I promise.

Delicious little dinner…

Spicy cucumber salad, Grilled jalapenos with neuchatel cheese and bacon. Steak with a bit of  left over jalapeno stuffing (neuchatel and cream cheese are practically the same).

DO IT!

The Best Meat Tenderizer

That’s quite a claim wouldn’t you say? And it doesn’t require an expensive kitchen gadget.

But I’m serious about this one. As I’ve written about before, since we are all probably a bit more savy with our spending right now, I buy grass fed meat’s less expensive cuts. Most of the unpopular cuts are $4.99 or $7.99 a pound, a select few even cheaper . These are the tougher cuts, the ones take take a bit of know how to cook…and the secret to practically all of them is to marinate them or to make them in a slow cooking stew.

Enter flank steak. 

It’s closely related to skirt steak but it is NOT the same. The skirt steak is the diaphragm muscle. It is a long, flat piece of meat, with a tendency toward toughness. But it has good flavor. It can be grilled or pan fried quickly with good results. Another traditional method is to stuff it, roll it, and braise it. In many areas of the country (Texas, for example) skirt steak is the only cut to be used when making “real” fajitas.

The flank steak is actually the traditional cut used for London Broil. It’s confusing because what we now call London Broil is a long piece of lean meat, The ORIGINAL London Broil, was flank steak…long, thin, and full of tough connective tissue. It was cooked quickly and sliced in thin strips.

Due to the fajita popularity, skirt steak has gotten WAY overpriced, but flank steak…it’s neglected cousin, is available and priced right.

Now for the the best tenderizer EVER. No it’s, not lemon juice or lime…which both work well, it’s another form of acidity. Apple Cider Vinegar!

Make sure you don’t over cook this cut. It needs about 7-8 minutes and one side then flip and another 4-5 minutes. That timing is for a cut like the above picture which was around 1.3 pounds.

Slice thinly acros the grain and enjoy. You wouldn’t believe how tender this steak was.

I used the following marinade and left it in the fridge for 48 hours.

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2-3 tbspoons olive oil

Garlic, 2 cloves crushed and chopped

2 tbspoons soy/tamari sauce

1 and 1/2  tbspoon tony’s seasoning.

The last picture also shows some slow cooked veggies.

In a sauce pan pour some olive oil and put your burner at it’s lowest setting. When the oil has warmed, about 10 minutes, toss in some cut up zucchini, yellow squash, chopped onion, chopped clove of garlic and a diced half a red pepper. Stir together well let it cook for about 10 minutes and then cover and simmer for another 30-40 minutes. your LOWEST setting. This is the way my aunt in Italy would cook her veggies and you will just have to try it and let me know what you think. On the plate you see, some flank steak, slow cooked veggies, 2 tbspoons of rice …..and some  local fresh shrimp. The shrimp are a post for another day.

“Love is fearless in the midst of the sea of fear” RUMI

Post Work Out Fuel & Pictures

My oldest daughter is becoming quite the photographer. She takes most of the pictures for her school newspaper and the yearbook. She sent these to me the other day. I believe it was Ann Frank’s father Otto, who said “no one really knows their children, you think you do, but you really don’t.” I think many of us can make the mistake of “knowing what’s best for our children”. In that effort a lot of times, we assume we know everything about them and that’s where the trouble starts. I let my kids live THEIR lives.

Anywho, back to food.

Protein shake?? I don’t think so! Real food remember?

I’ve come around to the fact that I feel best when I re-fuel a tiny bit after lifting something heavy. BUT, my appetite is not huge by any means. My appetite would come on like a freight train when I used to NOT eat after my workouts and continued with my fast (fasting from 8pm or so till 1pm the following day). By the time 1 pm would roll around, I was ready to eat a small house!

Breakfast of champs. Half a small organic potato (boiled), half a teaspoon of butter and one egg. If you take the boiled potato out of the pan and it’s steaming hot, just add the butter and the raw egg and mix it. The heat from the potato will “cook” the egg and melt the butter. Salt & pepper to taste…or not.

Stay sane…smile a lot.

Cheat Day?

I don’t get cheat days…many advocate them. I know Tim Ferris in his 4 Hour Body book does. I think the concept became mainstream since Bill Philips first came out with Body for Life. Remember that one??? As strange as the guy looks today, he has helped A LOT of people. But he was big on cheat day too. I just don’t get the concept of a “cheat day”. What I DO get is to have an eating day. Maybe on a Sunday when it’s raining out and you and your family hang around the house for most of the day. Listening to music, reading watching football perhaps, puttering around the house. On a day like that, I like to eat more than I usually do, but I don’t eat ho ho’s and ring dings if you know what I mean. If you are going to have your “cheat day” just make something really naughty yummy with REAL FOOD!

This is what I made for Sunday visitors that were on their “cheat day”.

Broccoli Cheese Rice with bacon and jalapeno chicken sausage.

First I made a big pot of rice and when it was done I put it in the crockpot. (I used basmati rice). Next I cut up bacon, fried it up in the pan and put it in with the rice

Next I parboiled 2 heads of broccoli. I grated 1 small block of raw jalapeno cheddar cheese and a small block of goat cheddar cheese (pasture). I grilled up 4 chicken sausages and cut those into bite size pieces. I heated two cups of home made chicken stock. Once the broccoli was done (and I went all out as I gave the veggie an ice bath to stop the cooking) I cut it into small small florets. Now that you have all the other ingredients ready, add them to the crockpot. Add the 2 cups of hot broth last and mix well. 

This was A LOT of food and we just ate from it all afternoon.  Later that evening when there was still a healthy amount left over, I added some coconut milk with a bit of red curry paste mixed in. This completely changed this dish and I have some left over to serve on the side over the course of the week.

“It is love that brings happiness to people.
It is love that gives joy to happiness.
My mother didn’t give birth to me, that love did.
A hundred blessings and praises to that love.” RUMI

Homemade Salsa Trick

It’s farmers market time again here locally and I couldn’t be happier. Pretty much got a week’s worth of produce for $21.

The cilantro looked gorgeous, and the first locally grown jalapenos and tomatoes are out. Here’s a really simple salsa recipe for you with a little trick I learned that brings forth comments like “DANG THIS IS GOOD SALSA!” from friends and family alike.

1 small yellow onion, 1 bunch of cilantro, six medium tomatoes, 1 jalapeno (de-seed if you don’t want to much heat. I half de-seeded it) a few sprinkles of Tony’s Creole seasoning and a 1/4 of a teaspoon of liquid smoke.  Be careful with the liquid smoke, you just need a tiny bit. As my grandma always taught me..”you can always add more, but you can’t take it out”

Now the salsa will have a bit of a “froth” from the speed of the food processor. Just put it in a container and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. The froth will disappear.

There is nothing like fresh salsa. Compared to store bought, it’s healthier, fresher, devoid of strange ingredients and…it’s cheaper too.

Forgot to take a picture but I ate out of my crock pot all day on Sunday.

Saturday night before bed I made some boneless beef short ribs in there. A very simple version and a result to die for.

I cut up the beef in cubes. Next I cut up 2 slices of bacon and added those to a pan. When bacon grease got the pan sizzling I add the beef and browned it a bit quickly. Remove from heat. In the crockpot I added a large onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 seeded jalapeno,  a large handful of baby carrots and 3 celery stalks cut into 2 inch pieces. 1  and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Turn on low. I cooked it ALL night and all day Sunday. Made a bit of rice to go with it.

The bacon and stock give it plenty of salt, and the jalapeno gives it some pepper. Nothing else needed. Try it sometime. Food like this makes me feel good. A bit of rice with meat,flavor and juice. Eat real foods…

“There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen

“Stay Hungry Stay Foolish”

I read the Stanford University commencement speech Mr. Jobs gave in 2005, to my kids last night. Besides from wanting them to have a bit of understanding how this person affected our lives (my sons ITOUCH is permanently attached to his right hand) I thought it would be good to give them a bit of the “follow your heart” advice he espouses in there. And selfishly…I NEEDED to remind my self. We only get to go around once folks, make it count. I for one intend to make some changes and truly live the life I want to live. No more “settling”. It’s a wonderful feeling to realise that you are free…free to live your life the way you want. I think too many of us loose sight of this freedom a bit.  we get caught up in the day to day and before we know it…we’re miserable. Going through the motions and steadily getting more and more dis-connected in a hyper-connected world. It’s an interesting paradox.

So in case you’re a bit “hungry and foolish” enough to buck the trends (I won’t even get into the new fat tax in Denmark) have some yummy tomato soup with BACON! So easy to make, especially if you have an “immersion blender”. $24 well spent dollars if you ask me (although mine was a present from the love of my life…who I intend to marry very soon…but that’s just cause she likes soup a lot 🙂 ).

Heat up some chicken stock (2 cups) with a small cut up yellow onion, 3   tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. When sufficiently warm stick the blender in the pot and blend. You can add some heavy cream if you like and warm for a few more minutes. While the soup was heating I made some bacon in the oven. Crumbled that and put on top of the soup. Voila…so simple and quick. (salt and pepper to taste)

I’ve posted a picture of it before, but I just really love this home-made bar food. Grilled fresh jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, cheese and bacon. And of course my cool handy dandy pepper grill gadget. It has many more applications and will show you some of those soon.

Stay hungry…stay foolish and life your life the way you always imagined it! That’s my wish for all of you today.

Enjoy the weekend!