Archive | February 2012

Rainbow Cookies (a.k.a. 7 Layer Cookies/Neapolitan Cookies)

INTRO

When I was a little kid (and I still lived in the northeast), I remember going to various bakeries with my mom (Swiss, German, Italian bakeries all served rainbow cookies, only the French ones didn’t, as they offered petit-fours, which I guess is like a French rainbow cookie in a way).  And during every bakery visit, I always headed straight for the rainbow cookies.

As I stood surrounded by the dark wood-paneled (sometimes Bavarian stylized) bakery walls, admiring those colorful little rectangles behind the glittering glass pastry case, and smelling the aroma of warm sugar, all I could think about was how magical it all seemed.

It was through those early bakery trips that I came to fall in love with rainbow cookies.

Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Bollywood Bites

INTRO

I have decided in addition to posting recipes and documenting my forays into the kitchen, I also want to include restaurant reviews in this blog.

I think eating food makes one a better cook, just as reading books makes one a better writer. By exposing yourself to different things you can learn how to improve and experiment with your own cooking. You can also find out how things should taste, like if you want to make an awesome crepe, but you’ve never had an awesome crepe, I think it makes it that much more difficult to succeed in that endeavor.

RESTAURANT: BOLLYWOOD BITES

For months now I’d been wanting to go to Bollywood Bites.  I’d heard about it through ads in a local Indian magazine I have a subscription to (a free subscription I may add, I signed up for it on a whim).  When I looked it up online, I found many reviews singing its praise.  I also read many reviews mentioning less than stellar customer service and a difficult to find location.

But I am just crazy about chaats (Indian street snacks) and I really wanted to try the ones at Bollywood Bites, to see how much better (or not) they were than the ones I’ve had other places.

So one afternoon one of my friends (Kellie) and I jumped in my car and drove to Bollywood Bites!

…Which was in a town (Pineville) about 40 minutes away from where I live (Charlotte).

And when we arrived in this town, Kellie and I could not find this place.  Now, Pineville is a small town, so there are not many places for a restaurant to hide.  We literally drove up and down the same 2 streets for about 20 minutes, both of us trying to use the Google Map applications on our phones, to no avail.  We could not find it!

Not until we Googled reviews and read one that told us to look in the strip of stores that faced away from the street near a patch of woods.

Seriously.

This place could not be more hidden if it were a cabin in the woods.

PhotobucketThe Bollywood Bites storefront.  Yes, it is open, though it looks closed!!

Continue reading

Cauliflower and Broccoli with Fennel and Mustard Seeds (Baghari phool gobi)

Hey readers!

I may bake a lot of cookies and cakes and such, but I also do enjoy eating healthy foods.  In fact, most of the time I eat a fairly “clean” diet, meaning I avoid overly processed foods.  I truly do LOVE fruits and vegetables, as much as I love sweets!

That is why I got excited when I was browsing through a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook at the library and saw this recipe for cauliflower with fennel and mustard seeds.  Cauliflower (the broccoli was my own addition) is one of my fav vegetables, and fennel (a flavor used a lot in the Italian cooking I grew up with) always appeals to my taste buds.

Cauliflower and Broccoli with Fennel and Mustard Seeds

(Baghari phool gobi)

Photobucket

Another aspect of this recipe I liked was its simplicity.  Not a lot of ingredients and no weird cooking techniques.  And the only things I didn’t already have in the kitchen were the cauliflower and the black mustard seeds.  Go to the store and pick up the stuff, simple right?

Ugh!!!! Okay so first of all, the grocery store by my house is stupid as hell.  I go there a lot because I want to support it as it is in my neighborhood and I don’t want it to go out of business and leave a gaping hole in the shopping center.  But really it is a super stupid store with a random selection and a produce area that one cannot depend on.

Like THEY ONLY HAD 2 HEADS OF CAULIFLOWER.  Wtf!!  It was not national cauliflower day, or the middle of the night, so I don’t know why they did not have more.  I only bought one (the bigger of the two) as it weighed just over the required 2lb.

But I came to regret this later, as after I chopped it up to use, I realized I ended up with less than 2lb, which is why I added the broccoli, which I thankfully happened to have in the fridge.

And of course they didn’t have black mustard seeds.  They had 3 brands of ground yellow mustard and yellow mustard seeds for obnoxiously high prices.  I don’t even know why I thought I could find black mustard seeds there.

But there is an Indian grocery store in my neighborhood also, so I just went there.  I don’t know where else to get black mustard seeds, or if yellow mustard seeds are acceptable substitution.

RECIPE


STUFF YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 lbs. cauliflower florets (I mixed broccoli–not pictured–with the cauliflower)
  • 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • About 4 tablespoons water

1. Cut cauliflower and/or broccoli into 2 inch florets, no wider at the head than 1 inch. 

Soak them in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. 

Drain them just as you are about to use/cook them.

I put them in this large stainless steel mixing bowl, filled to the brim with water.  And to make sure they were immersed in the water, I placed a large plate over them.

2. Heat the oil in a large (10-12 inch) frying pan over medium-high heat. 

When the oil is hot, add the mustard and fennel seeds.  As soon as the seeds begin to pop, add the chopped garlic. 

Stir/fry the seeds and garlic until the garlic has begun to lightly brown.

I just love it when the seeds pop!!  Watch out though, cause little specs of hot oil might shoot out at you!  Also, the garlic will probably begin to brown fairly quickly, so be vigilant!

3. Add the turmeric and cayenne.  Stir once, then quickly add the cauliflower/broccoli. 

Next add the salt and water. 

Stir and cook on medium heat for 7-12 minutes, or until the cauliflower/broccoli is done.

As far as the amount of salt and water to use, you are going to have to use your own judgement.  I started with the suggested 1 1/2 teaspoon, and after a quick taste, I determined that the dish would benefit from a bit more salt.  But then when I added the extra salt, I was worried it could be too salty, so I added more water to keep the salt/water ratio more in balance.  This is why you should taste what you are cooking as you are cooking it!

Also the recipe calls for 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Now, I LOVE LOVE LOVE VERY VERY VERY SPICY FOOD.  I order food extra spicy when applicable, and I have ordered dishes so spicy that my friends literally could not eat them, so if I had just been making this for myself, I’d probably use 1/3 teaspoon or more.  But my family is not really into that, so I only used 1/4 teaspoon.

The cauliflower/broccoli should still be somewhat crisp, not mushy or overly soft. 

If your water evaporates before the veggies are done, then add more water.

CONCLUSION

This was an excellent tasting dish!  Though I just made this and nothing else (I made it more as a trial run of the recipe, to see what I thought of it), this would make an awesome side-dish in the future.  The flavor of the fennel and mustard seed is wonderful, and the oil gives the veggies a nice kind of buttery taste.

It is also very healthy, the only not that healthy ingredient is the oil I guess, but you could use olive oil I guess.  But a little oil isn’t that bad!  And it is a pretty easy thing to make, no headaches!

As you can see in the picture above, I ended up using the cauliflower and broccoli as a topping for my salad.  It was great, each floret exploded with so much flavor!!

And the little bit of extra oil/spice water left over in the pan made a great salad dressing too!

Ciao 4 Now,

Madeline aka The Hopeful Hestia

(curious what’s up next? Well, I’ll tell you: ITALIAN RAINBOW COOKIES!!)

Valentine’s Day Dessert: Heart-Shapped Nutella Tarts with Rosewater Icing

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photobucket
And happy Unhappy Valentine’s Day for all of you who are feeling kinda screwed by love, or those of you who just can’t stand yet another commercialized holiday being shoved down your throat by corporate America!

In any event, get over it!  Lol.  Though I find Valentine’s Day rather annoying most of the time, I am very fond of pink and I love cartoon heart-shaped things (not things in the shape of an actual heart).  So I thought I’d make something special for a day dedicated to:

Photobucket Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Dinner: Heart-Shaped Pizzas

INTRO
It is popular to go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, but it can be just as fun/romantic to stay home and make your date dinner!  Don’t have a date?  Who cares!  I think it’s sad that Valentine’s Day is so focused on romantic love (eros), when there are so many other manifestations of love.

There is the love between friends (phileo), the affection of family (storage), and my favorite type of love: the unconditional, selfless kind of love that is devoid of greed (agape).  But enough of this review of Greek words for love!  Onto the food…

Heart-Shaped Pizzas

PhotobucketHeart shaped pizzas: 4 cheese Italian blend w/ricotta and olives, 1 with no olives

Continue reading

Scones: Fruit, Nut, and Chocolate

INTRO

Scones are probably the one thing (other than cookies) that I have made the most.  I could probably do it in my sleep!  Because I am so comfortable making them, I frequently change-up the recipe/how I make them.  Scones are great, in that they are so flexible.  You ca make sweet or savory scones.  You can put chocolate or cheese in them, butter or lard, you can make them cakey or bready.  And they go great with coffee!

Because I will probably make more scones and post them to this blog in the future, I am going to use this colon to designate the kind of scone this is.

Scones: Fruit, Nut, and Chocolate

Photobucket Continue reading

Super Bowl Dips: Buffalo Chicken Dip and Apple Berry Salsa w/Cinnamon Snack Chips

Like any good American (despite my disinterest in football) I watched the Super Bowl last Sunday.  And also like any good American, I celebrated with food.  In fact, I read somewhere, perhaps Parade magazine, that on Super Bowl Sunday the average American consumes approximately 1,200 calories while watching the game!  The only other holiday with higher caloric averages is Thanksgiving!  Oofa!

In any event, I saw the Super Bowl as a great opportunity for a blog post.  And I’d also happened to have stumbled upon a delicious looking recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip while browsing TasteSpotting.  Then I remembered a fabulous salsa I had at my mom’s Pampered Chef party last summer, and that was it, I decided I would watch the game and make…

Buffalo Chicken Dip & Apple Berry Salsa

PhotobucketAt my house: the assortment of snacks for the Super Bowl…I was responsible for the Buffalo Chicken Dip,

which the the orange colored stuff, and the apple berry salsa (near the wine bottle) with homemade cinnamon snack chips.

Continue reading