Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quick Tip- stain fix

As a continuation to the Tips and Tricks series, here is another quick tip that could come in handy. Though it uses food, its not for food...

Last month we were in the process of packing up to move in to a temporary place and decided to down size. I had these bar stools from another apartment and they never fit the counter in the apartment we were in. We ended up keeping the stools on our balcony, where (not realizing) they were exposed to the elements... snow, rain, winds, dirt, etc.

I cleaned off the seat portion but didn't realize that the stainless steel bases were all stained with rust or something. I posted the stools on craigslist and someone wanted to buy them. When we pulled them in from the balcony to hand over, I noticed the stains. The buyer was only 15minutes away and we had to do something. Farhan went online and found a tip to clean rust stains. Believe it or not, by the time the buyer arrived, these stools looked BRAND NEW!!!

Here is what you need: Take a sponge and soak it with cola (coke, dr. pepper, etc) and wipe the stained metal. Take a piece of foil and gently scrub the stain. Wipe the area with water. Thats it! Simple and easy :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sweet Corn and Shrimp Enchilada's

Last night I was stuck in a meeting that ran much longer than I had planned, so by the time I got home to make dinner, it was already 9:30pm. I had some white rice left over from the night before and had planned to make some black beans with it tonight. Black beans (from a can) take hardly 10 min to make so that was one item taken care of. I just needed something quick and easy to go with this...

These enchiladas were a total experiment but turned out really good! Of course, as bad as I am with taking pictures, I remembered only AFTER I ate that I should've taken a couple. Sorry folks, next time... I see this quickly becoming a favorite  :)

6 corn tortillas (6")
1 small can of sweet yellow corn
10 to 12 medium size raw shrimp, tail off, peeled, de-viened and cut in half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 medium yellow onion diced
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 cup of chicken stock or water
salt to taste
1 cup+ grated cheese (cheddar, colby, montery jack, whatever you like)
3/4 cup Old El Paso medium (red) enchilada sauce

In a skillet, saute the onion until translucent. Keeping the heat at medium to medium low, add in the cumin, cayenne, garlic and salt then mix well. Add in corn, stir and cover for a minute. Add in the tomato sauce, shrimp, chicken stock/water and stir to mix well. Cover and let cook for 5 to 7 minutes (over cooking will make the shrimp rubbery). Turn off the heat and pour contents of skillet in to a heat proof bowl, let sit for 5 min to cool down. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and check salt taste, add more if necessary. Keep to the side.

In another skillet, warm the tortillas one at a time with a drop of olive oil. Remove tortilla from skillet to a flat surface, fill with the prepared shrimp mix, roll and place seam side down in a baking/casserole dish. Repeat until all six are completed. Pour the enchilada sauce over the prepared enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven, set at 400 degrees. Once the cheese is melted and slightly browning around the edges, remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

You can also add some chopped cilantro, diced tomato and sour cream as garnish if you like. I served these enchiladas with black beans, cilantro lime rice (re-purposed from the night before) and an avocado tomato salad. As always, feel free to try your own variations...point is to make things quick and easy from what is available in your freezer or pantry.

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tips & Tricks

I think at some point I was going to do a series of "quick tips" but didn't really get around to it. In between longer posts, recipes and articles, I will be adding in some Tips and Tricks you may find useful in the kitchen... or otherwise.

My first tip/trick is a HUGE time and energy saver! If you go back to my recipe for Masoor Ki Daal, you'll remember I said to mash the cooked daal until it forms a paste... well if you happen to have a hand blender/kitchen stick (here is what I have) USE IT. No more spending your time or effort (mashing can be pretty tiring) hand pureeing your lentils!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cooking Delima's

Today I decided to try something I've seen before but never really made myself. You may remember (if you've read previous posts) that I explained some basics on "Desi" cooking. I mentioned that the curries or gravies with meat and vegetables are called "Saalan". Well today I made "saalan" without the meat.

There are some basic ingredients you use to make the gravy for meat curries... I made the same gravy but added only the vegetables...not the meat. I used turnips this time but you can do this with most any vegetable available. Here is what you do:

1 large turnip, peeled and diced (medium dice)
1 medium onion sliced thin
few whole black pepper corns
2 to 3 whole cloves
Very small piece of cinnamon stick
Red or Cayenne pepper (powder) to taste
1/4 tsp Haldi (turmeric powder)
1 tsp ground zeera (cumin)
1 tsp ground dhaniya (coriander seed)
1 tsp crushed garlic or garlic paste
1.5 cups water
2 to 3 tbsp tomato puree or crushed tomato
salt to taste

In a medium (heavy bottom) pot, saute onion in some oil until light brown. Add black pepper, cloves and cinnamon stick. Saute for a few seconds then add the red pepper, zeera, dhaniya and garlic. Mix well and then add the turnip and water. Cover and let cook on medium low heat. Stir a few times in between. When turnips are almost soft, add the tomato and mix well. the water will have reduced a little and the gravy will start to thicken slightly. Let cook until the turnip is completely cooked (soft). You can garnish with some chopped cilantro if you like. Serve with white rice or naan.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Almond Biscotti

Unlike most people these days, I have a habit of always eating "breakfast" with my coffee. This can be anything from cereal, oatmeal, eggs, donuts, pastries, etc. Pretty much anything so that the coffee doesn't go down on an empty stomach. With age, I've become more and more lactose intolerant leading me to avoid cereal on a regular basis. Also, since I've been home (unemployed) for the past 2 years or so, I've not been getting breakfast sandwiches, pasties, donuts, the unhealthy stuff one might normally grab at a deli or on the way to work.

Long story short, I noticed for the past few months that I was having oatmeal raisin granola bars. Now this may sound ok...healthy even, but not so much. Its actually quite a bit of sugar, preservatives and other things along with all the good stuff. So I recently decided to make a batch of almond biscotti to see how it might fit in. Its actually very simple to make, very few ingredients used and no preservative or artificial ingredients. I found this recipe online and made a few changes. The recipe I found also said that it would yield 42 biscotti... I was able to make about 30.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (I use raw sugar/unrefined)
3 eggs
1 tsp almond extract and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking POWDER
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fine chopped or chunky ground almonds
~2 tsp milk

Preheat your oven to 375F. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a different bowl cream the butter and sugar until light in color. Add the eggs one at a time and mixing well. Add the extracts while stirring the mix and then quickly combine the dry ingredients. Once mixed well, add in the almonds and mix again. Separate the mix into two parts. On a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper, lightly greased...spread 1/2 the batter out into a loaf type shape about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Repeat with the other half of the batter. You will have two loafs on one sheet. Lightly brush the tops of each loaf with milk. Bake these for 15 to 20min or until firm to the touch.

Remove tray from the oven and reduce oven to 300F, after a few minutes move the loaves (with the parchment paper) on to a wire rack. After 10 to 15 minutes cut the each loaf (at an angle) in to about 1/2 or 3/4 inch biscotti. Lay them cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 10 min. Flip to the other side (top side down) and bake for another 10 min. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container after they've cooled completely.

These will keep for some time in an airtight container... I made these about a week or more ago and they're still pretty fresh tasting. They also go very well with my coffee in the morning! I hope you'll try these...they're great to make and store since it yields a decent quantity and are great on the run as well!

As always, happy baking!!! I will take some snap shots soon and post them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tall Tales to Tell! Round I

Happy New Year everyone!!! With the new year, there is promise of renewed effort to this blog. I apologize for the long hiatus and hope that along with my new years resolution to stay better connected, I'll also stay better dedicated to connecting all of you (loyal readers) to the world of all things food related!

Some of you may know, I broke my foot back in July and am some how still catching up on my list of "to-do's". Things have been so hectic in fact that I write this post as I chow down on my very unhealthy lunch of Chef Boyardee ravioli! Mind you, as I share that tid bit with you, I'm compelled to tell you that during my blogging sabbatical, a major events occurred.  I shifted to using only all natural products (which spurred starting my own health and wellness business)!

Needless to say, with this new lifestyle choice has come a daily battle of what groceries to buy, which products to use, what dairy is safe and healthy and how to sustain appetites with little to no meat in the house.  I'm sure you will come across a number of experiments in my upcoming posts, while I try and learn a whole new way of cooking and shopping. Any suggestions, tips, recipes would be greatly appreciated.

Well, I'm off for now to start dinner for this evening. Thus far I've been leaning more and more toward traditional desi (pakistani, indian) cooking, given that much of it is lentils and vegetables. Easier to manage, making what I know so I don't have to think much or spend time learning new things when I'm consumed with other tasks. I'll save some of my tales from the past few months for another post.