Saag Paneer

So many Indian food recipes, yet so little time. Here is one of the greats. One who needs no introduction. My favorite, saag paneer. Mic drop.

This one is for all of those kale skeptics out there whose hearts and minds (and stomachs) I couldn’t change with my last post for kale and saag paneer. And hey, I get it. Kale is a hard sell.

I don’t have to tell you how much I love saag paneer. Literally, if I could marry it, I would. No question. Hard stop. But, alas, I cannot. So here I am sulking and instead divulging to you this fantastic saag paneer recipe that will get your taste buds grooving.

I’ve always been a frozen spinach kind of gal. It’s SO much easier storage-wise, but I’ve made this dish a lot and I just made it for the first time with fresh spinach and my mind was BLOWN. I don’t want to be dramatic here, but the flavor and texture of the spinach was so much brighter and better with the fresh spinach than with frozen. Don’t get me wrong, I still love frozen spinach. I’m just saying, if spinach is going to be the star of the show in the dish you’re making, opt for the fresh spinach. I’m a fresh spinach convert and I don’t know how I feel about it at the moment. Someone should probably check in with me in a couple of days to make sure I’m okay.

ANYWAY, if you don’t have any paneer, don’t fret! You can always sub in some sautéed mushrooms for a saag mushroom twist, or if you’re not a shroom fan, you can sub in a firm cheese (like halloumi) or some tofu and treat it just like the paneer (fry it up and all).

Hopefully you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and if not…your loss!

This is best served over rice and alongside fluffy naan or chapatis.

Saag Paneer:

Ingredients:

  • 1lb fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp. dried fenugreek (kasuri methi) (optional)
  • 4 TBS ghee (butter can also be substituted in)
  • 10 oz paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (1/4 tsp if not a spicy food person)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 can coconut milk

Directions:

Step 1: Add the chopped spinach and dried fenugreek to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Once cooked, drain the spinach and squeeze out all of the liquid very well. I mean VERY well. Set aside.

Step 2: Add the ghee to a pan and set the heat to medium. Once the ghee is hot, add in the cubed paneer and fry on all sides until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Step 3: To that same pan, add in the onions and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions have softened and turned translucent. Then add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Step 4: Add the spinach, all of the spices, salt, coconut milk, and browned paneer to the onion mixture. Stir and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes (until the coconut milk has cooked down into a thick sauce).

Step 5: Serve over rice and alongside fluffy naan or chapatis. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!:)

Kale and Paneer Saag

By a show of hands, who here is a kale skeptic? For the longest time, I would have joined you in your kale skepticism. While I used to be one of those kale disbelievers, I’m telling you this kale & paneer saag might just turn you.

Saag (specifically mushroom saag…if you haven’t had it before, PLEASE give it a go…for me) is one of my five major food groups; I simply cannot get enough of it. That creamy, spicy, and spinach-y goodness is the best comfort food and can brighten up a really crappy day. Every. Single. Time. If you can just picture in your head for me, Buddy the Elf chowing down on his spaghetti with maple syrup, Pop-Tarts, and mini marshmallows in Elf. Well, that’s me every time I sit down and eat mushroom saag. No joke. I love it that much.

With this in mind, one might say that I am a spinach fiend. It will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’ve never been a big kale lover. Honestly, with the big kale, green healthy smoothie trend, I never really wanted to be associated with it (that sounds bad, I know, but come on, a KALE SMOOTHIE?? That just sounds gross). Recently though, I went out on a limb and tried Alison Roman’s Raw and Roasted Kale With Pistachios and Pecorino from her book, Dining In, and I began to realize that my initial distrust and hate of kale may have been unfounded.

For mother’s day we made THE Alison Roman salad (okay, FINE. no one really calls it that except for me), but WAY over-bought on the kale, so I was left with this big bunch of kale just sitting there in the fridge, lonely and calling out for me and pleading, “Please, please use me.”

I just bought a fantastic new cookbook called, East, by Meera Sodha (she also has an amazing cookbook called, Fresh India, that you should definitely try out too). It is full of vegan and vegetarian recipes from eastern countries and saying that I love it would be an understatement. I’ll just leave it at that.

So kale was on the forefront of my brain as I was looking through East one night, when I came across this recipe for kale and paneer saag (psst! it can be vegan if you use oil for the frying of the paneer and onions). It was like it was meant to be, I had everything to make it already in my pantry and fridge, so I set out on a kale saag making journey.

I will say, while this saag tasted amazing, I did need to add a little more salt and chili powder to it than the recipe calls for and it needed more time to cook out (I like my saag a little thicker). That said, served over rice it was fantastic and the ingredients are ones that you either have on hand already or that are easy to find at your local grocery store.

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for, the recipe!

Enjoy!:)

Kale & Paneer Saag

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. curly kale, with stems removed
  • 10 oz. paneer, cut into 3/4 in. cubes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 serrano peppers, finely chopped
  • 3/4 inch. fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
  • Chili powder, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1 – 14 oz. can petite, diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 4 TBS oil or ghee
  • Cooked rice or chapattis/naan, for serving

Directions:

Step 1: After the kale has been rinsed and the stems removed, working in batches place the kale in a food processor and blitz it into tiny pieces. Once all the kale has gone through the food processor, place it in a bowl and set it aside for later.

Step 2: Heat up 2 TBS of oil (for vegan version) or ghee in a large, deep skillet with a lid. Once the oil is hot, working in batches add in the paneer. Fry it for a few minutes on each side, until the paneer is nice and golden brown all over. Place the golden paneer on a plate and set it aside for later.

Step 3: In the same skillet, add two more tablespoons of either oil or ghee and turn the heat to medium. Once hot, add the onions to the skillet and let cook for about 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Then add in the garlic, peppers, and ginger and cook for another 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add in the can of tomatoes and cook for around 8-10 minutes, until the mixture resembles a paste. At this stage, add in the spices, salt, and agave. Mix well.

Step 4: Next, stir in the kale and the coconut milk to the mixture. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet with a lid. Let cook for about 15 minutes.

Step 5: Take off the lid and add in the paneer. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, adding a teaspoon of water at a time if it starts to look too dry.

Step 6: Serve over rice or with either chapattis or fluffy naan. Enjoy!

Happy cooking!:)

“Chicken” Pot Pie

A chicken pot pie is one of those universally loved dish. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s creamy, hot, and delicious! This is a vegetarian version of a chicken pot pie, but it can just as easily be converted back into a regular chicken pot pie – simply sub out the veggie sausage for chicken and you’re good to go. Even without the meat, this pie stays true to the comforting classic.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with those pre-made, frozen chicken pot pies that you just throw in the microwave and voila! Dinner done. I would have them at least once a week for dinner after a sports practice and literally inhale it as soon as it came out of the microwave. I thought it was the best thing ever. No joke. It still baffles me why I loved these so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that chicken pot pies have always been looked at as the quintessential comfort food.

I love the taste of creamy gravy mixed with peas, green beans and carrots. Add a little pepper and chili powder and I’m in heaven.

What I love about this recipe is that besides the veggie sausage (or potatoes are good too!) and carrots, everything else for the filling comes from a can. Just dump and go, easy peasy!

“Chicken Pot Pie”

Servings: 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • Salt & pepper and Cajun seasoning (optional), to taste
  • 1/4 All-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 can peas, drained
  • 1 can green beans, drained
  • Veggie sausage, boiled, chopped potatoes, or cooked, shredded chicken
  • A pinch of cornstarch (may not need)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Step 2: Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Throw the chopped onion into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté this for about 5 minutes, until the onions have had a chance to soften a little.
  • Step 3: Add in the chopped carrots, minced garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, some chili powder (if you’re feeling frisky), and some more salt and pepper to the onion. Cook this mixture for an additional 7-8 minutes, until the onions are nice and translucent and the carrots have softened. At this stage, you could also add in a dash of Cajun seasoning if you like things smoky and spicy.
  • Step 4: Whisk in the flour until fully combined. Then alternate between stirring in the vegetable (or chicken) stock and the milk. Bring this mixture to a boil.
  • Step 5: Once the mixture has reached a boil, added in the peas, green beans, and whatever other vegetables you thing should be included in your pie. Cook this for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.
  • Step 6: At this point add in either the veggie sausage/balls (the Ikea veggie balls are amazing!), the boiled potatoes, or the cooked, shredded chicken. Cook this for about 5 minutes.
  • Step 7: Take off the heat. If your pie needs any more seasoning, this would be the point at which to add it. If it looks very runny, add in the cornstarch to thicken it up a little bit.
  • Step 8: Pour the mixture into a pie pan and leave to cool until it reaches room temperature.
  • Step 9: Once cooled, place a circle of puff pastry on top, brush with the egg wash, and using a knife, add a few steam holes on top.
  • Step 10: Bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until the top is nice and golden. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!:)

Pesto Tear-and-Share Bread

This is my go-to recipe when going to a potluck. It’s quick, easy and an impressive-looking centerpiece that’s perfect for any party.

I think everyone knows this already, but I LOVE bread, absolutely obsessed. Stuff that bread and I’m dropping everything to run over to eat a piece of that bread. Not exaggerating.

This bread is perfect for if you have a potluck to go to and want to impress your friends, while simultaneously putting in minimal effort. I found this recipe on the PBS website (Pesto Pinwheel Bread), but only kept the dough the same. I didn’t have any of the stuff for the filling that the original recipe called for, so I improvised and it turned out like a fancy version of a pesto pizza.

A couple of notes, don’t bother making homemade pesto, store-bought tastes just as nice (gasp! I know, but it’s true). Also, I just eyeballed the cheese amounts, so add the cheese according to your own tastes and preferences (a little creative interpretation for you all). Lastly, I turned this bread into a flower by putting a little circle of walnuts in the middle of the bread before baking, but you 100% don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, I was just feeling a little extra when I was making this.

Enjoy!:)

Pesto and Cheese Tear-and-Share Bread Recipe:

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 500g white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 10g salt
  • 25g sugar
  • 10g fast-action yeast
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 50ml milk
  • olive oil, for greasing

For the filling:

  • 4 TBS pesto
  • 5-10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • Goats cheese, crumbled
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Pecorino cheese, grated

For the topping:

  • 1 large egg, beaten, to glaze
  • A handful of walnut pieces

Directions:

Step 1: To make the dough, in a large bowl, pour in the bread flour. Add in the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other side, followed by the sugar, softened butter, beaten eggs, milk and about 25ml of warm water. Mix together until everything is combined. Add up to another 100ml warm water, mixing between additions until a soft dough forms.

Step 2: Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Then lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Step 3: When the bread has finished rising, knock back the dough by kneading it for 20 seconds and cut the dough into two.

Step 4: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the remaining half of dough into a circle that’s about 12in. in diameter. Let the dough rest for about five minutes – it will shrink back. Roll it out again to about a 13in. in diameter and place on a large baking tray.

Step 5: Spread four tablespoons of pesto over the dough and sprinkle on the tomatoes and cheese (the amount of cheese is up to you), making the layers slightly deeper in the center. This will form the base of the bread.

Step 6: Roll out the remaining dough as in step 5. This will make the top layer.

Step 7: Brush the edges of the base with a little water and carefully lift the top layer onto the base.

Step 8: Using a sharp knife, trim the dough into a neat circle (about 12in. in diameter). Place a small bowl over the filling. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 equally-sized strips radiating from the bowl. Carefully twist each strip and press the end of each strip onto the baking sheet to stop them unravelling while they prove. Set aside to prove for about 30 minutes.

Step 9: Preheat the oven to 375ºF. After the loaf has proved, brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg and arrange the walnuts in a circle in the center of the loaf to create the middle part of the flower (the stigma). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown in color. Check after 15 minutes and cover the twists with aluminum foil if they are browning too quickly. Allow to cool before digging in.

Happy baking! 🙂

Flaky Biscuits

What’s better than a nice and flaky, buttery biscuit on a Sunday morning that’s unctuously lathered in butter and maybe a little jam or topped with a ladleful of thick gravy? Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything better either. I’ve tried my fair share of biscuits and let me tell you, these are by far the best and butteriest out there.

There are two types of people out there, the biscuit people and the monsters who don’t like biscuits (just kidding, not monsters, just different). My response to those biscuit-haters out there is you just haven’t had a good biscuit. Plain and simple. Sometimes, I’ll admit it, I’ve sat down at a nice breakfast joint and ordered a biscuit or an order of biscuits and gravy, only to be severely disappointed when my order comes out and the biscuits are bland, dry and not living up to their biscuit potential that I know is inside of them.

Here’s the solution, LOTS and LOTS of butter (not rubbed into the flour too much, leaving a few larger smudges of butter in there to create the flaky biscuit layers), buttermilk, a healthy dose of salt and not overworking the biscuit dough. That’s it. Pretty easy, right? Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “If it’s as easy as you say, why are there still people out there making sub-par biscuits?” I wish I had an answer for this head-scratching quandary, but, alas, I’m still as confused as the lot of you.

American Biscuit Pageant 2020 winner.

I found this recipe in Alison Roman’s book, Dining In, and no joke, it’s like the book knows that this recipe is my favorite, because it opens right to it every time. I think I’ve somehow conditioned (Pavloved) the book spine to open up to the biscuit page like you train a dog to sit or lay down when you hold up a treat (excuse the weird analogies, I’m still waking up this morning). I take it as a sign from a greater force that I need to make the biscuits when the page opens to directly to them. I could have been planning on making something else entirely, but after I’ve caught a glimpse of the biscuit page, it’s as if I HAVE to make biscuits or else I won’t be able to function. There’s no way to explain why this happens to me, but it does and I don’t question it.

Okay, before I divulge this amazing recipe, let me just drop in this Ode to a Biscuit, because you needed a poem about biscuits in your life. You’re welcome.

Flaky Biscuit Recipe:

Makes 6-8 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 2% milk with 1TBS white vinegar that’s sat for 5 minutes)
  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and baking soda. Dump the cubed butter into the bowl and rub it into the dry mixture with your fingers. Once there are no more large pieces of butter and just small little butter bits, you’re good to go.

Step 3: Drizzle the buttermilk all over the dry mixture and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix everything together until a ball forms. Knead the mixture together a few times in the bowl just to make sure there are no dry bits left.

Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough 2-3 more times.

Step 5: Pat the dough into 1 1/2-inch-thick circle and using a circular cutter (about 2-3 inches in diameter), cut out 6-8 biscuits. It helps to flour the cutter before trying to cut out the dough.

Step 6: Place the biscuits onto the prepared cookie sheet and brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk (be generous here). If you want, you can sprinkle the tops with flaky salt.

Step 7: Bake, rotating once halfway through, until the biscuits are golden brown and have puffed up like accordions, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before enjoying with loads of butter and jam or slathered with a healthy dose of gravy.

Happy baking!:)

Shakshuka

If I could only have one final breakfast, I’d want that breakfast to be this shakshuka with some pita or crusty sourdough bread. Hands down, no question. I mean what could be better than a tomato and spinach stew with runny eggs and cheese on top? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Shakshuka is a spicy tomato and egg dish that has it’s origins in North Africa, and today is a very popular Israeli / Mediterranean breakfast. You’re meant to dig into it with lots of pita or challah bread (I like to eat it with sourdough). If the idea of a tomato stew for breakfast doesn’t really spark you’re fire, no worries, that’s completely understandable. Shakshuka can easily transition into the lunch/dinner category without even batting an eye.

This isn’t what you would call a traditional shakshuka. I’ve taken inspiration from different recipes and have made my own shakshuka masterpiece. It combines tomatoes, chili, spinach, mushrooms, eggs and LOTS of different cheeses into one beautiful concoction.

While I love my creation, if you’re looking for something without spinach (this is for all you spinach haters out there – no judgement), check out the NYTimes’ Shakshuka with Feta recipe; you’ll love it.

On the completely opposite side of the spectrum, if you love, love, LOVE spinach, can’t get enough of the guy, I’d recommend Leah Koenig’s Spinach Shakshuka recipe from her book, Modern Jewish Cooking. It’s another banging version of shakshuka minus the tomatoes.

Tomato, Spinach and Mushroom Shakshuka

Servings: About 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 mushrooms, sliced into chunks (I used white, but use whatever kind you like)
  • 1 hot pepper, minced (whatever kind you like best: a chili, Serrano pepper, literally anything will work)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-7 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and with excess water wrung out (I used half a bag of frozen spinach)
  • 1.5 or 2 (14 oz.) can(s) of diced tomatoes (depends on how thick or thin you want it to be) OR about 3 large fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Chili powder or red pepper flakes to taste (depending on how hot the pepper you add in is)
  • Crumbled feta, shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
  • 4-6 eggs
  • Chopped cilantro, for sprinkling on top
  • Pita, challah or sourdough bread, on the side for serving

Directions:

Step 1:  If you have a cast iron skilled, preheat the oven to 375°F. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, no worries, just use a large skillet with a lid, but you won’t be using the oven. Over medium heat, heat up 3 TBS olive oil in the skillet. Add the diced onion and pepper to the skillet, season a little with salt and pepper and cook for 12-15 minutes, until softened. Stir occasionally.

Step 2: While the onion and pepper are cooking, in a separate skillet over medium heat, heat up 1 TBS of olive oil. Then add in the mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have worked through their wet stage and are finally starting to dry out again. Stir occasionally. After 5 minutes, add in the spinach and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 3: Once both the onion and pepper mixture and the mushrooms/spinach are cooked, transfer the mushrooms and spinach into the skillet with the onion and pepper. Add in the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and paprika, stir and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 4: Pour in the tomatoes and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Bring this to a simmer and leave for 10 minutes to let it do it’s thing and thicken. Taste and add more salt and pepper and the chili powder or red pepper flakes if you feel like you need it. Stir in the mozzarella.

Step 5: Make 4 to 6 little divots in the tomato mixture for the eggs to have a place to sit and then crack the eggs gently into those divots. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. If you’re using a cask iron skillet or an oven-proof skillet, place the skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 6 to 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it, the eggs tend to not be cooked one minute and then overcooked the next. If you you’re using a skillet with a lid, instead of using the oven, place a lid on top of the skillet and cook over medium heat until the whites are set but the yolks are still a bit runny. About 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan​ from the heat or oven. Sprinkle with the feta, Parmesan and cilantro. Serve hot with lots and lots of bread! Oh, and maybe some Cajun seasoning and hot sauce too!

Happy cooking!:)

Cardamom, Rose and Pistachio Sticky Buns

Looking for a gooey breakfast treat this weekend that has just the right balance between sweetness and nuttiness? These cardamom, rose and pistachio sticky buns are the warm and comforting bake that you’ve only ever dreamt of – just in time for fall!

Okay, I’m not going to lie here. When I made these, I ate about four of them in one sitting. These buns are that good (or maybe I was just really hungry, but I’m going to go with it’s because they tasted AMAZING). They taste like a version of a cinnamon roll with a sticky syrup instead of the icing, and a slightly floral and nutty flavor replacing the cinnamon. Warm and fresh out of the oven or heated up the next day in the microwave, they really hit the spot.

If you like super sweet buns, then you’re going to want to sprinkle a little regular sugar or brown sugar over the top of these bad boys before you dig in, but if you’re like me and like it when desserts are subtly sweet and not overpowered by sugar, then these will be perfect by just following the recipe.

Look at that sugar and pistachio goodness!


It’s extremely important to turn these buns out onto a serving plate as soon as you take them out of the oven. If you leave the buns to cool before turning then out onto a plate, they’ll just stick to the pan and refuse to come out. So, when you take them out of the oven, what are you going to do? That’s right. Turn them out IMMEDIATELY. This is serious bun business here.

Puffed up and ready for the oven

I wanted to be a little extra, so I topped my buns with dried rose petals; they just made the buns look so pretty! But you absolutely do not have to do this, the taste isn’t impacted at all by this addition (even though they do say you eat with your eyes first…hmmm…).


I found this on Chetna Makan’s amazing blog and just made a little adjustment to the filling. She also has a great YouTube channel that you NEED to check out called ‘Food with Chetna’. Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book would tell you it’s a bare necessity for you to go explore her channel.

And now what you’ve all been waiting for, the recipe!

Cardamom, Rose and Pistachio Sticky Buns

Servings: Makes 8 buns

Ingredients:

For the buns:

  • 225 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 25 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 g dried fast action yeast
  • 75 ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom

For the filling:

  • 75 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 10 g sugar
  • 30 g dark brown sugar
  • 20 g pistachio, finely chopped

For the syrup:

  • 60 ml maple syrup
  • 60 g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 20 g dark brown sugar
  • 20 g pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. rose syrup

Directions:

Step 1: To make the dough and put the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cardamom in a bowl and mix with a spoon. Lightly whisk the egg and add it to the flour and then slowly add the milk, bringing it together to form a dough. Then work in the soften butter with your hands until fully incorporated into the dough.

Step 2: Place it on a clean work surface and knead it for 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. Place the kneaded dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp linen kitchen towel. Let it rest for 1-2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Step 3: In a separate bowl make the syrup by combining the maple syrup, butter, sugar and rose syrup. Mix this all together very well until it is all thoroughly combined. Spread it on the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan. Use a fixed bottom pan and not a loose bottom one, otherwise the caramel will leak. Then sprinkle the pistachios evenly on top and set aside.

Step 4: On a clean work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle that’s about 25 cm x 35 cm. Spread the butter on top of the rolled out dough and then sprinkle the sugar, followed by the chopped pistachio pieces on top.

Step 5: Roll the dough from the long side like a swiss roll. Make sure it’s a tight and neat roll. Clean up the ends of the roll by chopping off the bad bits and then divide the remaining roll into 8 pieces. Place these pieces in a circle shape on top of the syrup layer in the prepared cake pan.

Step 6: Place the cake pan in a large plastic bag (I like to use a turkey-size oven bag) or with a damp kitchen towel placed over top of the pan. Let it rest for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Step 7: After the dough has rested for an hour, bake the buns for 25 minutes or until golden and cooked. Be sure to turn the buns out straight out of the oven onto a serving plate. If you leave it in the pan for long, it will get stuck to the pan, so remove it immediately. Enjoy these buns while they are warm and fresh, or warm them up in the microwave if you have left any leftovers (which I doubt:)).

Happy baking!:)

Around the World Thanksgiving

While I love Thanksgiving and the glorious smells that emanate from the kitchen all day long, sometimes I get a little tired of having the same foods year after year after year. This year, my family and I decided that we would shake things up a little, putting a fun twist on one of my favorite holidays.

Thanksgiving has always held a special spot in my heart. I think it’s because it is the one of the few major holidays that hasn’t been pervaded by presents (if you completely ignore the whole Black Friday insanity). While giving and receiving presents is nice, I love the wholesomeness of Thanksgiving. It’s a day when we simply gather together to enjoy a great meal with loved ones; meanwhile, thinking about and voicing our thankfulness for all that we have in our lives. It just gives me a warm feeling inside, that’s all.

Yes, Thanksgiving started out as a remembrance of the Pilgrims and Native Americans having a feast together, but I believe that Thanksgiving is more than that (especially in today’s world when we are actually acknowledging how wrongly the Native Americans have been treated) and can be celebrated anywhere in the world (and it is. Some countries have different versions of it, like the West African republic of Liberia, who celebrate their version of Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November). Thanksgiving is a holiday spotlighting our thankfulness, which is universal.

That being said, and the fact that the United States is one big medley of different and beautiful cultures, I thought it would be fun to have a Thanksgiving with food from across the globe. So, in the spirit of making this Thanksgiving highlight some of the best cuisines from around the world, I’m starting early (some might say extremely early considering it’s only the end of August). But if you think about it, there are only 93 days until Turkey Day 2020. It’s crunch time people.

The plan is that I’m going to have a lot of posts as the months go on with different ideas and recipes for this year’s Thanksgiving, so I hope you’re ready:) (we’ll see how this goes).

Feel free to chime in and comment your family’s special go-to Thanksgiving recipe!

Ideas so far:

Breakfast:

Appetizers:

  • Hummus, tzatziki, and baba ghanoush with falafel (Mediterranean)
  • Vegetable samosas with raita (Indian)
  • Pretzels with beer cheese (German)

Dinner (the big ‘un):

  • Ricotta stuffed shells with burrata (Italian/American) – From Alison Roman’s book Dining In.
  • Empanadas (Portuguese, Caribbean, Latin American, Filipino)
  • Spicy corn with red onion and Queso Fresco (Mexican) – From Alison Roman’s book Dining In.
  • Curry (saag, tikka masala, haven’t decided yet) (Indian)
  • Brioche buns (French) – From Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake.
  • Paneer bhatura or garlic naan (Indian)
  • Fried Plantains (Ghanaian)
  • Jollof rice (West African)
  • Roasted turkey breasts (I guess turkey has to be incorporated) (American)
  • Szechuan eggplant (Chinese)
  • Colcannon (Irish)

Dessert (equally important): (needs to be seriously trimmed down)

  • Sticky toffee pudding (English)
  • Pumpkin spiced baklava (Turkish with a twist)
  • Mochi ice cream or daifuku mochi (Japanese)
  • Sachertorte (Austrian)
  • Opera Cake (French)
  • Prinsesstårta (Swedish)
  • Churros (Spanish, Latin American, Mexican) – From Benjamina Ebuehi’s blog, Carrot & Crumb.
  • Tiramisu (Italian)
  • Black forest gâteau (German) Steph Blackwell’s Black Forest Chocolate Cake recipe from the Great British Bake Off.
  • Sfogliatella (Italian)
  • Pumpkin pie (I hate pumpkin pie, honestly)

Tomato and Basil Bread

It’s been a long week and I need something a little different and exciting in my life. This tomato and basil loaf will hopefully do the trick if you’re in the same boat as me. You wouldn’t expect a bread to have a strong tomato flavor, but I’m telling you it works and will put a smile on your face, for sure.

Today, I thought it would be fun to make a bread that instead of water, uses the liquid from tomatoes (yes, tomato juice, but I thought if I said tomato juice, you’d think of those cans of tomato juice that you use when making Bloody Mary’s…maybe I over thought that one…). I don’t know why, but trying out something weird like this just sounded fun and I decided to go with it. This recipe is a really simple one; just a little something different to get me out of a funk after a long, mundane workweek.

I really like the flavor combination of tomato and basil, so that’s what I used in this recipe, but you could just as easily substitute the basil for garlic or oregano, or whatever else your creative spirit has in mind.

If you make this according to my directions, you’ll end up with a nicely crusted loaf because I like to have a crispy layer on the outside of my bread. Crusty bread might not be your jam though, and that’s okay, instead of baking it for 45 minutes, simply lower the baking time by 10 minutes. And Voila! No hard crust!

Baking is all about enjoying yourself and having fun, so if you’re in a bit of a foul mood when you start out, you should be smiling (or at least not as grumpy) by the time your creation comes out of the oven. If you’re not, you’ve gotta bake something else and wait for the baking fairies’ magic to kick in.

I hope you enjoy this fun recipe:)

Tomato and Basil Bread:

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

  • 500g white bread flours
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7g (1 pkg) instant dried yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 310ml juice from ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced, or 2 1/2 tbs dried basil

Directions:

Step 1: Combine the yeast, sugar, and tomato juice in a large bowl. (If you have yeast that needs to be activated, leave out the tomato juice for the time being and pour in 60ml of warm water to the bowl. Let this mixture prove for about 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy. Then add in the tomato juice minus 60ml (250ml) and oil.

Step 2: Add the basil, salt, and flour to the bowl and mix together with your hands until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough is starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It will be one sticky mass. Let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Step 3: After the 20 minutes are up, knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes on a lightly floured surface. It should feel elastic and smooth by the time you are finished. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise on the counter for 1-1 1/2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.

Step 4: After the dough has risen, shape your dough into a round loaf shape. To shape, dust the top of the dough with a little flour and pull each corner of the dough towards the center. Repeat these folds until the dough feels tight and begins to resist the folds. Flip the dough over and tap it into a round loaf. Place the dough on a baking sheet and cover with a plastic oven bag. Let this prove at room temperature until it has doubled in size, just under an hour. While waiting for it to prove, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5: Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and using a sharp knife, score a deep cross into the loaf. Bake in the preheated oven or 15 minutes before lowering the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 30 minutes. The loaf will be baked around a total baking time of 35 minutes, but the extra 10 minutes will help to form a great crust on the bread. Take the bread out of the oven and let cool completely before digging in!

Happy baking!:)

Zucchini Kofta Curry

Midsummer and the zucchinis just keep on coming. If the zucchinis just won’t stop growing in your garden and you’re needing something exciting to do with all of the excess besides making yet another loaf of zucchini bread, this is for you. I promise, you’ll miss having so much fresh zucchini in the wintertime, so enjoy it while you can.

During July and August, there is never a time in my house when there is not a huge pile of zucchinis on the kitchen table. Don’t get me wrong I love zucchini, but sometimes, week after week of having a constantly replenishing stack of them on the table can strain my relationship with it.

It’s at these trying times (lol a bit dramatic, huh?), that I’m back on the prowl to find new ways to use my excess reserves of zucchini, and that’s exactly how I came upon this recipe. Flicking through my cookbooks, I saw this one and thought, “Perfect! It uses zucchini. Ding, ding. We have a winner!” I’m a very easy person to please.

That said, while I decided to make this recipe because of my huge pile of zucchinis, I absolutely love it. Even if I didn’t have zucchinis to use up, I would make this recipe again, no question.

The curry has the perfect amount of spice and tomato flavor, and while your typical kofta (either fried veggie balls or meatballs) can be a little heavy (but still delicious), this zucchini version is lighter and a perfect curry accompaniment.

My little fried zucchini koftas:)

This recipe comes from Chetna Makan‘s book, Chetna’s Healthy Indian Vegetarian, and is just one of many mouthwatering recipes from this book! If you’re a big Indian food fan, please get this book. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, I promise, you’ll love all the delicious and exciting recipes that this book has to offer.

Okay, my sales pitch is over, but seriously, make this curry.

Zucchini Kofta Curry Recipe:

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

For the curry:

  • 1 TBS ghee
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 250ml (9 fl oz) water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp gram masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 TBS dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 1 TBS heavy cream

For the koftas:

  • 2 zucchinis, about 350g (12oz)
  • 50g gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
  • oil, for frying

Directions:

Step 1: To make the curry, heat the ghee in a pan and cook the onions for 15 minutes on a medium heat until they have a deep golden brown color. Add in the green chili, garlic, and ginger and cook for another minute. Next, add in the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Then cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Step 2: Once it’s slightly cooled, blend the mixture in a blender, then pour it back in the same pan. Add the water, salt, sugar, and all of the spices to the mix. Cover again and cook for 5 minutes.

Step 3: To make the koftas, grate the zucchinis and squeeze out the excess liquid (I like to do this by wringing them out in a kitchen towel). Put the zucchinis into a bowl with the flour, salt, chili powder, and amchoor. Mix this together well – the mixture will start to come and bind together when you stir.

Step 4: Heat a flat griddle or skillet and add the oil. Shape the kofta mixture into 8 balls and lightly press them into patties. Fry them slowly on medium-low heat for 5 minutes on each side. They should be golden brown and cooked through – don’t try to use a high heat as they will burn very quickly this way.

Step 5: Stir the cream into the curry. Pour it into a serving bowl and place the cooked koftas on top to serve.

Happy cooking!:)