A Little About Me

New York, New York
As a newly married woman, it has become my mission in life to learn how to cook. Gone are the days of picking up sushi and ordering curries. In order to jump-start my education, I enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education's Fine Cooking I course where I learned the basics, from roasting to boiling to mousse-making (ok, maybe not that basic)! I've attempted to replicate some recipes - somewhat successfully- and create a few of my own. This blog is for friends and foodies and is intended to document my cooking adventures (and occasional fiascoes). Enjoy the pictures and bon appetite!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Puerto Rican Pastries

Happy belated Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I was lucky enough to spend the past week visiting my parents in Puerto Rico which meant lots of sun, beaching and nostalgia-inducing foods from my childhood on the island! Since I didn't have the opportunity to do much cooking (except for the usual breakfast items), I'd thought I'd share a few photos of my favorite snacks this week!

On our last day, we stopped by Kasalta, an old-school bakery that's been around for as along as I can remember.... I have memories of my grandparents taking my sister and I there for breakfast. Some of my favorite pastry items at Kasalta include quesitos, or sweet cheese-filled pastries, and mallorcas, sweet flaky pastries served toasted. These treats aren't something I've been able to find easily in NYC, so I have to tell you that I really enjoyed and savored every sweet bite!

A sweet glazed quesito...

with a cream cheese filling.

A toasted mallorca, doused in powdered sugar...

with delicious fluffy pastry layers.

Too bad we had to share!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Onion Soup... Not the Hardest Thing to Make After All

Anyone who knows my sister knows that onion soup is one of her two ultimate favorite foods. So, when she asked me to help her prepare a romantic meal for her boyfriend, I naturally thought of onion soup. At first, the thought was a little scary... in my mind, the soup always seemed like something rather complicated to assemble (creating a savory broth, melting all the ingredients just right, etc...) but I was able to find and tweak a simple recipe that resulted in an impressive onion soup that my sister and her man both enjoyed.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, diced)
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
4 cups beef broth
2 slices ciabatta bread, cut in half
4 oz shredded gruyere cheese
2 ovenproof ramekins

Start by heating the olive oil in a large pot and adding the sliced onions, salt, pepper and garlic powder/clove. Cook until the onions are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, butter and broth, and let simmer for another 15 minutes. This will probably make your kitchen smell really yummy.

Spoon the soup into an ovenproof ramekin or an onion soup bowl. Slice some ciabatta and place in the soup, then cover with a good helping of sliced gruyere cheese. Drizzle with a lot olive oil and season with a dash of salt and pepper. The soup in this photo was kind of a test run.... lots more cheese was added to the actual eaten version.

Place under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and the bread crisps up a bit. Be sure to watch it so it won't burn. A couple extra minutes under a broiler can really ruin a meal!

Serve immediately and try not to burn the roof of your mouth on the hot gruyere.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Protein Packed Snack

I've been a little tired lately and have been turning towards protein-packed snacks to keep my energy level up. Since there's only so many hardboiled eggs a girl can eat, I thought I'd try to make a tofu satay... one of my favorite thai takeout items! This dish packs a double punch since you get protein from both the tofu and peanut butter. Using a variation of a peanut salad dressing I've posted before, I threw together a simple satay sauce and was able to do everything in under ten minutes!

firm Tofu
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp soy sauce
2 dashes sriracha hot sauce (more if you like spice)
water to dilute, as needed
1 tbsp canola oil

In order to prepare your tofu, remove it from the package and place it on a few layers of paper towel. Cover with a few more layers and place something heavy on top in order to squeeze out excess moisture. Let sit for five minutes before cutting into large cubes.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat and place the tofu in the pan. Allow each side to cook for a minute or two, or until golden brown.

When the tofu has cooked on both sides, remove and prepare the satay sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce and sriracha. If the sauce is a little thick, add a bit of water to dilute. Because peanut butter is so thick, I like to cover my container and give it a really hard shake so that everything incorporates well. Pour over the tofu and enjoy your snack!

The Incredible, Edible, Egg Salad Sandwich

While I've posted all sorts of fancy things on here, I'm embarrassed to say I had never boiled an egg up until this weekend. While seemingly simple, boiling an egg used to freak me out because every recipe I read gave a different boiling time and way of doing it. With my husband's help - and a ruined egg or two - we finally figured out a way to make the perfect hard boiled egg, which I then made into a delicious egg salad. I used my dad's basic recipe and my father-in-law's suggestion to add cooked scallions and ended up with an entire tub of amazing egg salad!

7 eggs
1 tbsp low fat mayo
1 tbsp regular mayo
1 tsp mustard
1/2 bunch of scallions, chopped
salt and pepper

My way of obtaining the perfectly cooked hard boiled egg: Place the eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water. The water should rise an inch above the eggs. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let the eggs boil for five minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit in the hot water for another 5 minutes. Remove the eggs and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Softly smack the egg on a hard surface to crack the shell and peel. (Running the egg under cold water as you peel will help the shell come off easier.)

Chop up a bunch of scallions and saute them in olive oil until wilted. Set aside.

Combine the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. Since mayo can be high in fat, I used a combination of regular and low fat mayos. You can use all full-fat mayo, but I wouldn't recommend using only low fat because it just won't taste as good.

Lastly, chop the eggs with a knife and combine with the mayo and scallions.

Mix well and serve on some toast, or in a lettuce cup! This truly is an incredible, edible, egg salad sandwich!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Indian Style Shrimp in Coconut and Tomato Sauce

If you ask my husband, he'd probably tell you that I've been OBSESSED with Indian food lately. Being the great husband he is, he actually put up with me wanting to order dinner from the same restaurant (Haveli) five nights in the same week. Since he was so giving, I offered to cook him an Indian dinner one of the nights... a win-win situation seeing as how I got some Indian and he got something that tasted different than the usual chicken curry! Just a note, this recipe called for the addition of 5 seeded green chiles, but I couldn't find them at the market and wasn't in the mood for a spicy dinner, so add them if you dare!

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
3 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp salt
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped

Start by washing, preparing and pre-measuring ingredients. Having things ready beforehand will make things easier once you start cooking.

Heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cumin and saute for a couple minutes. Next, add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook until the onions have caramelized, about 7 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook for a couple minutes before adding the diced tomatoes.Cook until everything has reduced by half.

Raise the heat to high and add the coconut milk. Warning: possible splattering, stand back! Cook until reduced by half then add the shrimp the to the pan. Make sure to season with the salt before adding. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the shrimp has turned pink.

Add the chopped cilantro, mix and serve.

The shrimp goes well with basmati rice. I used some coconut milk to make the rice and added some coconut shreds for a little extra flavor and texture. See, who needs Indian takeout when you can make this for dinner?