Pork Pie

This ended up being our last Westeros(i?) meal, sort of. I had planned on making a roast on Sunday, the night of the premiere, but my book club ran later than expected. So then I pushed it back to Monday night but then I remembered I had a meeting to become a Deputy Voter Registrar. I had already told James we were having roast so I prepped it for him and told him all he had to do was put it into the oven for an hour. I got home around eight to a pretty decent roast. It was medium-rare, which I find gross in a roast (rhyming!), but it was fine other than that. But since I wasn’t the one who actually made it and it was just a roast and not the full meal of roast, onions in gravy, and lemon cakes I had planned, I’m considering this pork pie our last meal.

I’m aware none of that really makes sense but whatevs.

I’m glad this was our last meal because it was fantastic! I was a little skeptical because in addition to the pork, there was also barbecue sauce, apples, and cheese in the pie. I get how all those flavors could work together but when I was looking over the ingredients, my brain was all “Whaaaa?” I mean, spicy, tart, cheese, that’s just weird, man.

Well it worked, even the three year old liked it. Yep, the picky child who scoffs at anything that isn’t bread or chicken, she ate this. I mean, it had bread (crust) and chicken (pork but we tell her all meat is chicken in the hopes that she’ll eat it. It works about 50% of the time) but it also had apples and cheese so there was her fruit and dairy intake. I fully relish in every little dietary victory with her.

I don’t know why but I expected the pork to be crumbly, maybe I was thinking something akin to a Shepherd’s Pie, but it wasn’t at all. I sliced the apples very thin so they kind of just melted into the pork so you could barely taste them but you definitely knew they were there. The barbecue sauce added a nice little kick to it but it wasn’t overpowering due to the cheese. You would think this would be very heavy but it really wasn’t. I think we each had two slices and didn’t feel like oafs afterwards.

I kinda wish Westeros was a real place because its food is on point. I also wish it were a real place because of dragons, dire wolves, and Jon Snow, but it’s okay, I’ll settle for the food. But dragons would be really cool. Jon Snow would be especially cool. Kit Harrington, holla at yer girl.

Recipe

Sister’s Stew

This is the only recipe James personally requested for Westeros week. We typically choose meals together, although I have final say since I do the cooking. Usually we look through the cookbooks together but this time I was the first one to look through it. When I saw this recipe, I knew James would like it and would want me to make it. He grew up in San Francisco so he has a thing for chowders and bread bowls; this meal satisfies both those needs.

I had never made a chowder or a bread bowl so this was a fun meal to make. And yes, the name is “Sister’s Stew” but this was very much a chowder. It had cream AND evaporated milk, that’s a chow-dah. I was not a big fan of the bread by itself. You could still taste the Guinness so it had a malty flavor to it that wasn’t my favorite. I think the bread served its purpose as a bread bowl and that’s about it.

I used canned crab and clam meat because I didn’t feel like driving downtown to get fresh meat. I think it worked out well and you couldn’t really taste the difference. I say this as a person who grew up in Southwest Texas and lives in Central Texas, meaning I am not an expert on seafood or on how it’s suppose to taste. With that being said, I can tell you the difference between good and bad catfish (hint: it’s good if it’s fried, that’s it)

Everyone loved it, well, everyone but the three year old. As.usual. It was creamy and super hearty. It wasn’t fishy at all, which was nice, and the barley gave it a little nutty flavor. I’ll make this again but probably not in a bread bowl. Maybe in a bread bowl. It depends on how well the husband has been behaving. Remember that James!

Recipe

 

 

 

Black Bread

I normally post the recipes and then work on my blog post but this time, the recipe ended up being both. The experience making the bread was that entertaining. At least for me. Hop on over and read about it.

Recipe

Honey Roasted Chicken, Turnips in Butter, and Sansa Salad

I revealed myself as a Game of Thrones nerd a couple of posts ago so it should surprise no one that we are visiting Westeros this week. Also, season six premieres this Sunday so I think it’s perfect timing! And yes, Westeros is not a real place but I’ve been doing this for about four months now so I think I’m allowed to have some fun with this. I didn’t really plan on going to Westeros, or any other imaginary country/continent, when I was thinking up this blog and I don’t plan on veering away again but I need a little levity right now. Life is heavy, I need a break. I had planned on preparing Cuban food this week but when I went to the library to find a Cuban cookbook, I found A Feast of Ice and Fire and I couldn’t help myself. The book actually started off as a blog, Inn at the Crossroads, and slowly morphed into an actual book. Don’t worry, I don’t have those aspirations. I’ll settle for a movie 🙂

This meal was everything I hoped it would be: delicious, cozy (I know that’s a weird way to describe food but I needed to be comforted yesterday and this meal did the job), AND the kids ate it. Well, one kid, the baby. The three year old had a meltdown when she saw the salad, that I did NOT serve her, and was banished to her room like Jorah Mormont from Daenerys’ inner circle. 

The cookbook did not give the greatest instructions when it came to the chicken but like I stated in the recipe, I’ve roasted enough chickens to know how to do it right. The key to a juicy chicken is, duh, liquid. You also want to create some kind of cover so the steam will moisturize the bird. None of this was mentioned in the cookbook so I’m mentioning it to you. You’re welcome. The baby could not get enough of the chicken. She ate her portion and then that of her sister. She also fed some to our dog, who barfed it out. I don’t think that had anything to do with the chicken itself, though. He went to the vet yesterday and was given an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from scratching at a growth on his neck so I’m pretty sure he barfed in protest. He can be a dick sometimes.

The turnips were really creamy and awesome! Why don’t more people eat turnips? They’re so under appreciated! Growing up, I would eat them raw with just a little bit of salt. Is that not normal? I don’t care, it was great. 

The Sansa salad wasn’t anything special but I love Sansa Stark so I mostly made it to honor her. #yougogirl

I’m not cooking tonight because the hubs has a work thing but I am currently baking some Black Bread for tomorrow. Again, the cookbook didn’t have enough advice but I bake bread so I know how to do this. At least I think I know. We’ll see. Tune in tomorrow.

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

 

 

Masala Dosa

I found this recipe here.

This was our last official Indian meal. I  made another one the night after but I didn’t take pics or save the recipe because I just wanted to eat. It was great!

A friend introduced me to dosas a couple of years ago. I was pregnant and we were meeting up for lunch. I was, as usual, very hungry. She’s a vegetarian and when she suggested we share what she described as a “Indian tortilla stuffed with potatoes” I was less than enthusiastic. But, you know, I’ll try everything once! And I remember thinking “If this sucks, I’ll pick up Taco Bell on the way home.” Pregnancy does the worst things to your body…We ordered our dosa and some samosas (I love samosas) and hung out while they prepared the food. What felt like an eternity later, but was probably ten minutes, a gentleman laid a giant ass brown tortilla in front of me. Like, ginormous. It was probably as long as my forearm. I just looked at my friend and she was like “You’ll love it, believe me” and she was RIGHT! It was probably one of the best things I’d ever eaten and now I order it any time I can. 

So needless to say, when it came to planning our meals for the week, I knew I had to make some dosas. Given my history with baking things, I was a little worried about screwing it up, HOWEVER, when I read the recipe and saw that the batter had to be fermented, I felt a bit better. I know how to ferment. I brew kombucha, I’ve made coconut kefir, kimchi, have helped James brew beer, I know my way around bacteria and yeast. Somehow this little factoid made me a lot more comfortable with the meal. I figured if I could make the batter, I could do it all. 

AND I WAS RIGHT!

Sorry for being a little braggadocious but this meal gave my ego a huge boost. It probably didn’t need it but whatever. I was also on a high from running a personal record during the 10k earlier that day. 1:07 y’all!

They came out fantastic! It took a few tries to make them thin enough and honestly, I could have made them even thinner, but they were great! The baby enjoyed eating all my mistakes, which is kinda odd because the dosa itself was a little bitter. She enjoys the weirdest things. 

I was so happy when I made the first good one that I might have yelled out “IN YOUR FACE DOSA!” I might have also included a couple of ‘eff yeah’s…

I made a spiced rice to accompany it but it was nothing special. The true dame of the ball was the dosa. I MADE MASALA DOSA AND IT WAS FANTASTIC!

Recipe

Maa di Dal and Aloo Gobi

I found the recipes for this meal here and here.

I had planned on making Makhani Dal for dinner because it appears to be very popular but as I was getting my ingredients together, I realized I didn’t have the dry kidney beans that the recipe needed. I could have sworn I had dry kidney beans but as I was standing in the kitchen, irritated at myself for not looking at my ingredients before grocery shopping, I remembered I had thrown out my kidney beans last month because they were starting to smell sour. I seriously need to STOP assuming I have something when getting my grocery list together. I typically write down my list in the office, walking like thirty feet to the kitchen won’t kill me! Also, I’ll get my steps for the day. 

I’m mostly writing this down for my own benefit, those last two sentences have nothing to do with the narrative of this post. 

So because of my bad planning, I had to scour the internet for another urad dal recipe. Let me tell you, finding one WITHOUT kidney beans was not easy. I was also on a time crunch because I knew regardless of what I found, I’d have to soak the beans for a few hours. We were on our way out to spend the afternoon in downtown Austin so I knew I had to soak them before we left so they’d be ready in time for dinner. 

In walks Maa di Dal, the literal “mother of dals” Yeah, this meal is like the khaleesi of dals. The site I used referred to it as such but I can’t find anything else backing up that claim. It seems like this dish and Makhani Dal share that title so I don’t know who to believe. I mean, is Maa di Dal like Daenerys and Makhani Dal is Jon Snow? Is it going to come down between the two of them for the iron pot/iron throne? Did I just reveal myself to be a huge Game of Thrones nerd?

Regardless of what title this dish has, it filled my belly! I didn’t cook it as long as I should have because I was impatient and hungry so it didn’t come out as creamy as it should have. Meh. I had a couple of bowls and probably would have had more except I had the 10k the next day and I was afraid of, um, them working their way through my system mid race…great visual huh?

I’ve made Aloo Gobi before but it never turned out this good. My previous attempts came out dry and while Aloo Gobi is a dry meal, I don’t think it’s supposed to be like charcoal, which is what I’ve gotten in the past. When choosing meals for Indian week, I read that a good way to plan your meals is to do one dry dish and one wet dish; you don’t ever want all wet or all dry. Something about the chemistry of the ingredients and blah blah blah one dry, one wet, or two dry and one wet. You get the idea.

Aside from the initial hiccup and being very hungry and not waiting for the dal to cook all the way, I was happy with this meal. And you’ll be happy to know, the dal stayed put during the run. 

Recipe, Recipe

Butter Chicken and Palunga Ko Saag

I found this recipe online. I actually used a couple of different recipes from that website.  It’s really easy to navigate and laid out very well. I highly recommend it.

This meal was good but it was nothing amazing. Butter chicken came up on a lot of different “Must Eat” lists and that’s why I added it to our weekly meal plan. It took a lot of time to make between the two marinations but once I got going, it wasn’t too bad. I think mine came out more watery that it was supposed to but it was still good. 

I’m writing this almost a week after eating it and I can’t remember anything specific about this meal. I normally try to post within a couple of days so the memories are still fresh but last week was a busy one so I wasn’t able to post like I wanted. I had planned on eating this meal on Sunday, after the 10k, as a celebratory meal but ended up pushing it up a few days because of bad planning. The plan was to eat Masala Dosa on Friday but I didn’t ferment the batter on Thursday night like I was supposed to so we had the butter chicken instead and the Masala Dosa on Sunday. 

I’m taking this week off from cooking to catch up on the blog and finish doing some administrative work from the transfer. I had originally planned on only taking a week off every three to four months but it looks like I will need one monthly. This really does take a lot of time and sometimes it feels like a chore so I really do enjoy my time off. The biggest benefit is not spending hours in the kitchen! Indian week was very time consuming so I need quick, easy meals this week. 

I still have two more meals to go for Indian week so there shouldn’t be any interruption in posting this week!

Recipe, Recipe

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani and Malai Paneer

I found this recipe online. I’m still not a huge fan of using online recipes because I always forget to change my “Sleep” mode on my phone until I’m already cooking and my phone gets dirty. Both of these issues could be solved by me remembering to do stuff and by not being so anal; I’m aware, I’m working on it.

This meal was work. Like, it took some time and patience. You’ve been warned. 

I just learned the phrase “mise en place” It’s a French culinary phrase that means “putting in place.” If you are unfamiliar with the phrase itself, you are probably more familiar with the actual act. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show, you’ll notice how the chef always has their dry ingredients pre-measured and other ingredients chopped/sliced/diced,etc. and ready to go. This is “mise en place.” It’s meant to increase efficiency and is most helpful when making time sensitive meals, like when you have to watch milk boil so it doesn’t curdle. I started practicing “mise en place” when I started the blog (I didn’t know I was doing it, I just thought I was being organized and trying to limit frustration) and it has helped a lot. You have everything within arm’s reach and you don’t have to worry about scorching or burning something because you’re too busy chopping onions. My reason for bringing this up is this meal would not have gone as smoothly as it did had it not been for “mise en place” 

And getting everything together was probably the hardest part. Marinating the chicken was easy because, duh, it just sits in the marinade. The rice was easy because it involved boiling stuff. Even layering everything was easy. Waiting for the chicken biryani to finish cooking was not easy. It took an hour. An hour. I told James that if it wasn’t amazing, I would cry and probably break something. 

Well I didn’t cry OR break anything. Yay! The biryani came out drier than I expected but that was okay. I think the strongest flavor was the cinnamon followed by the biryani masala. It was good, probably not as good as I’ve had, but good enough. The paneer came out AMAZING, I could not stop eating it! You could definitely taste the tumeric but it was also kind of buttery. The baby would not stop eating the paneer and had even more the next day for lunch.

I’m really happy it turned out well because I didn’t have a back up plan if it didn’t. Also, I’d have been the one that would have cleaned up whatever was broken and after spending almost two hours in the kitchen, I didn’t want to have to clean any more.

Like I said, a test in patience.

Recipe, Recipe

 

 

Murg Purdina, Methi Aloo, and Nimbu Bhat

Welcome to Indian week! I am three meals behind in posting. I would have been caught up yesterday but as I was finishing the first meal’s post, the little one decided to walk by the computer and press the Power button. Squarespace doesn’t automatically save posts…needless to say I was frustrated and I walked out of the office and decided to do some yardwork.

I love Indian food and have made various dishes over the years. Most of them have come from the cookbook I’m using this week, Indian Recipes Under 30 Minutes, so they haven’t been the really great Indian dishes most people are familiar with. Since this book is sort of an intro to Indian food, I’m using it as a supplement to other recipes I’ve found online. I thought about buying a more comprehensive Indian cookbook but I’m trying to make sure my cookbook collection doesn’t get too big. Also, I forgot I was making Indian food this week until Monday and Monday was a rough, emotional day. I did not have it in me to look for a book and when I’m not up for shopping for books. you know something is not right in my world.

Like I said, I’m into day four of making meals and have realized that like Nepali food, Indian food is pretty time consuming. I just told a friend that I don’t understand how Indian people ever get to eat since the food takes so long to make! Luckily it’s all been very delicious so it makes up for all the time in the kitchen.

Even though this cookbook says the meals take under thirty minutes, the fine print says “cooked in under thirty minutes” The thirty minute time frame does not include prep time so be warned, none of these recipes take a total of thirty minutes. I wasn’t only slightly irritated by this on Wednesday, the night I made the first meal.

I’m trying to be more zen about life and accepting it as it is so as to minimize my anger and stress. Without getting into it too much, there has been some family drama the past few months and it has left me anxious, angry, and kinda depressed. I’m trying to change that and it starts with me telling myself and accepting I can’t change situations, I can only change how I react. I know, super cheesy and inspirational poster-ey (that’s a word!) but it’s my thing. So with that in mind, I was slightly irritated with the false advertising but got over it pretty quickly because, you know, what are you gonna do?

It took me a total of an hour and a half to make this meal. The hubs went out to happy hour but thankfully the girls were in a rare good, quiet, mood so I was able to cook without interruption. I mean, I was still over it by the time he got home but that had more to do with being in the kitchen for an hour and a half. Like I’ve said before, our kitchen is not my favorite room in the house because of how small it is but I will say that since I’ve spent so much time in there the past few months, I’ve slowly learned how to work in the space. It’s only taken me seven years…

The meal was really good! The chicken was so tender we could cut it with a fork. The mint flavor wasn’t too strong and it was a little tangy from the yogurt. The lemon rice lived up to its name, VERY lemony, but I liked the surprise crunch of the cashews and dal. My favorite part of the whole meal was the methi aloo. I had to give the potatoes a lot of attention to keep them from sticking to the pan but thankfully that attention paid off because they came out the right amount of soft on the inside, crispy on the out. I also liked the flavor of the fenugreek leaves. I can’t really describe it (mostly because I’m about to pass out because I’m really sleepy right now) but if you have had Indian food before and then cook with fresh fenugreek leaves, you will immediately recognize the scent and flavor.

So now I’m only two posts behind…I’m making another dal tonight in preparation for running the Cap 10k tomorrow morning. I’m also preparing dosa batter tonight for dinner tomorrow because a proper dosa batter has to ferment overnight. This cuisine is definitely testing my patience and it’s perfect timing since patience is also something I’m working on. Everything is connected, huh?

Recipe, Recipe, Recipe

Mushroom Solyanka

This was the last Russian meal I prepared last week. I had also planned on making blini and pirozhki but I ran out of time and sanity. Even though I only made three meals, I was pleased with all three. Like I mentioned in the last post, I might revisit Russia later in the year and at least try to make the pirozhki. Who doesn’t like bread stuffed with meat?!

Solyanka, along with borshch, is one of the most popular soups in Russian. It can be made three ways: with meat, fish, or mushroom. The common factor in all three is the incorporation of pickles. Pickles in soup. So good, right? I mean, why wouldn’t you want a fermented cucumber in your soup? Clearly I was not jazzed about this. What did get me jazzed was the short prep and cooking time. From beginning to end, this took me about forty five minutes. I made this the evening the older one stayed home from school so I really needed something that was fast and didn’t require too much attention.

This was a very light meal, which wasn’t all that surprising since we basically ate boiled mushrooms. The tomato and pickle did offset the strong mushroom flavor, which I was worried about. I love mushrooms but they can be a little overpowering. They also absorb liquid so I was concerned about the bloat afterwards but there wasn’t any. I only ate one bowl so that probably had more to do with it than the ingredients. It was sour, just like the name suggests, but it wasn’t too bad. It didn’t make me tick or anything afterwards so that was nice. I liked that the crunchiness of the pickle contrasted the softness of the mushroom so I guess its inclusion wasn’t ALL that bad. 

Will I make this again? Probably not. And if I do, I will make it as a side because this was kind of boring on its own. It comes down to boiled mushrooms. Boiled mushrooms are never exciting. Maybe the meat or fish version is more interesting…

And no, neither girl touched this meal. Even the little one spit out the mushroom. Kids have issues with texture. And life. 

Recipe