Friday, April 1, 2011

Home Remedies

You know you're sick when nothing on Food Gawker looks appealing. Who would've thought that day would come? Of course, it is the flu that has caused this sudden loss of appetite and my temporary two day move to the couch - where I eat, sleep, and live now.

I've been doing the usual: drinking lots of fluids, ginger tea, lemon tea, honey, salt gargles, and even cayenne pepper gargles (the lengths I will go to just to start feeling better), but you know what has worked the absolute best: The Cosby Show. Allow me to show you just one short sample of greatness:

Thank you Huxtables for making me feel better.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My friend Pimms

Seattle, on your sunny warm clear blue skies kinda days, you make me never want to leave this glorious city.

Let me introduce you to my friend Pimms. Pimms and I meant on my trip to Zambia last year and while it was supposed to close to Winter, it was still blazing hot and nothing was as refreshing as some Pimms with Ginger Ale.

If Seattle weather does anything to you, it most of all, turns you into a sissy that can't tolerate any heat. At all. I played soccer with my preschoolers the other day in 60 degree weather and we were all complaining about how hot it was - sweating through our t-shirts and all. 60 DEGREE WEATHER? I can't imagine what 80 degree weather will do to us. But I know how to prepare for it...

Shorts. T-shirt. Flip Flops. Pimms and Gingerale. It's all you need.

Ever-Refreshing Pimms & G'Ale
Makes one tall refreshing glass

Get yourself a pint glass.
Chuck in a few ice-cubes, one...or three shots of Pimms No.1 Cup (depending on your taste) and fill the rest with some Ginger Ale. Adding some lime and some thin slices of green apple also make the drink really tasty.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Childhood Favourite: Mini-Pizzas

My favourite thing at birthday parties when I was younger, other than birthday cake of course, were mini-pizzas. Oh and of course there was that bowl of cheese curls, mini-samosas, and the little cups of Coca Cola that you could grab, drink in one gulp, and head back to playing with your friends. See, that was the beauty of all those birthday parties, all the food was bite size and I've always loved food but I've also always loved to play and having those bite-size treats just meant that in under five minutes it was very possible I could complete my meal and head back to that game of musical chairs.

I've been feeling quite nostalgic, you know...craving those mini-pizzas so alas, instead of buying the Herb Pizza Dough from Trader Joe's, I finally tried making my own. And you know what? It turned out really well! It wasn't as time consuming as I thought it would be AND it was really tasty. I also like my dough thick and bready so I doubled the recipe (as shown below). If you prefer a thinner crust, go ahead and halve the recipe.

Pizza Dough
courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
makes one large pie
for mini pizzas, it depends on how small you choose to make them (I got about 20 mini pizzas out of my dough)

3 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
2 tablespoon olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like.

For a regular size pie, bake it for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

For the mini-pizzas, bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. I try to use the most basic ingredients so they aren't too heavy and/or weight the pizza dough down. I used pizza sauce, sprinkled some dried oregano and red pepper flakes, and smothered the top with cheese.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cinnamon Goodness

Warm soft sugar cinnamon goodness is what this Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread is all about:
A small chunk from the loaf.

I used to be daunted by recipes that called for yeast, but I no longer am because yeast just means that while you wait for the dough to rise for an hour you can do that laundry that's been sitting in your room or send those e-mails you've been meaning to sell or watch an episode of Cake Boss. You decide.

Don't let the long method on how to make this tasty treat put you off - it's really quite easy and incredibly glorious. Especially with some chai/coffee/tea.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Courtesy of Joy the Baker
Makes: one 9×5x3-inch loaf

For the Dough:
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside. Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together.  Keep stirring.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky.  That’s just right.

Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9×5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set that aside too.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.   Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto  a clean board.  Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the  upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Store it? Keep it? Toss it?

So how do you make that bunch of basil you just bought last longer? Store it in your pantry or refrigerate it? What herbs can you freeze? How long after the expiration date does buttermilk really last? How can you tell if your baking powder and baking soda are still good? Oh and did you know nuts will stay fresher much longer if you freeze them?

I don't have the answers to those questions but I'd like to introduce you to Still Tasty which will provide plenty of answers as well as offer quick tips. So before you chuck that half carton of unused buttermilk, you might want to think again...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chicago, I like your style.

I think of Lupe and Common when I think of Chicago.

No more, my friends, no more. I got to visit Chicago for the first time a couple of weeks ago and despite what everyone else told me I did not freeze my face off. In fact, I had a WONDERFUL time and  also got to tackle the beast that is deep dish pizza:

I like pizza. A LOT. I also like eating more than a slice or two or three when I do have pizza. I had ONE slice of this bad boy and I woke up the next morning still full. Crazy!

My food highlight from the trip was definitely the Naanwich I had from Gaztro-Wagon:

Anaheim chile, figs, leeks, and chihuahua cheese all wrapped into a delicious naan with of course plantain chips! SO incredibly fresh and delicious. Oh and of course, the meal was accompanied with delicious Chicago-made Goose Island Root Beer.

Chicago, you were wonderfully refreshing, exciting and so much fun to explore. I returned back to Seattle with this view of the mountains:

Beautiful, I know. But please let this not fool you, the rain the gray clouds and the cold have been consistent. I think it's time to put the Girl Scout Cookies on hold and put my baking pants's time to create something sweet, warm, and maybe even a little inspiring if possible - anything to contrast this weather we're having.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Food Break: Egypt

I don't feel like talking about chewy granola bars and homemade mac n cheese.

EGYPT has been on my mind. I feel sad and helpless. I'm consumed with stories of courage, brutality, perseverance, and strength. I have no eloquent words. But this woman does:

"Do not fear what has blown up. If you must, fear the unexploded."

There are a lot of women I aspire to be like. One of them is Suheir Hammad. If you haven't already read her works or youtube'd her doing some slam poetry, jump on it. Personally, ZaatarDiva is my favourite of her published works.

Egypt, you leave me feeling ashamed and strangely hopeful. Where will you go from here?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Waffles, Doughnuts, and Fried Pies...OH MY!

Destination: Portland, Oregon.
Purpose of trip: To find some of best Portland Food Carts and well...indulge.

This is the second year my friends and I have done this trip. Believe me, it was VERY successful.

Here, take a look:

We started off our Saturday morning right and headed to The Waffle Window. Quite honestly, the best breakfast I've ever had.

The best thing about being in a group of five? You get to try what everyone else ordered.

Oh and we didn't stop there. After our sugar rush, we were craving something savory...

Fresh rolled garlic flatbread, anyone? Urban Garlic is located in a lot with other food carts - one of them being a Homemade Rootbeer vendor. It was THE best rootbeer I have ever had.

We ate A LOT. But we also found time to do some wonderful things around Portland such as visiting Powell's Books (a bookstore that's a block long!) and playing pirate-themed glow in the dark mini-golf. While we waited, we managed to get in a game of Bananagrams too!

I can't believe how much we ate. What I haven't yet mentioned is the countless number of other things we ate. Are you ready for it? Burgers, fries, rootbeer floats, poutine, crepes, a korean-mexican fusion truck that fed us kimchi quesadillas, burritos, and a taco, pizza, a bagel with vegan bacon cream cheese, fried pies, and my absolute favourite...dulce de leche and sea salt shakes. Phew!

There were times when we all were convinced we couldn't eat any more but of course, as in most cases, our taste buds won over any reasoning.

Case in point:

We HAD to wrap up our trip with doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts

I'll be eating apples for the rest of the week, thank you very much.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

Let's talk about things that make me happy.

Like how sunshine on a winter Seattle day can completely change your mood.

Or how your friends in Norway and Iowa just happen to be online at the same time that you are and with that perfect timing you get to see their lovely faces and share some pretty silly stories .

And what about sitting at a cafe towards the end of the day and somebody else's dog chooses YOUR lap to sit on, chooses YOU to cuddle with.

Oh and let's not forget about the smell of warm fresh honey vanilla pound cake calling your name as it cools on the counter. You will want this smell too. Try it.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake
courtesy of Ina Garten

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease and flour the plan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest in a glass measuring cup but do not combine. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl and allowing each egg to become incorporated before adding the next egg.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add it slowly to the batter until just combined. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula and pour it into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seahawk Cookies

I'm not that into American football but I'll tell you what, I LOVE how sports teams can get an entire city/country/group of people hyped up. And that's exactly what happened last weekend when the Seahawks beat the Saints. To honor their surprise win I decided to make some sugar cookies with Seahawk coloured icing. I've been wanting to try out royal icing for a couple of months now but have been daunted by the many "royal icing tutorials" that I've seen on several blogs. I figure, anything with a tutorial is complicated.

Lies. Royal icing is not. You need quite a bit of time on your hands to let the icing dry during each stage, but it's definitely a lot of fun to work with especially if you have the time. The smooth glossy finish and the details you're able to do with royal icing is impressive. I ended up making footballs, a little football player, and 12th man flags (a flag that represents the Seahawk fan base - so loud and proud that a seismograph picked up last week's crowd's cheers during a touchdown).
I spent most of last week Friday making these cookies- mostly with a beer in one hand and an icing squeeze bottle in the other while listening to some Otis Redding. It was perfect. 

The Seahawks put up a shit show against the Chicago Bears on Sunday but I do have a couple of cookies left to drown my sorrows in. I know there are tons of sugar cookie recipes online, but this is definitely my favourite.

Sugar Cookies
Courtesy of Melissa Frye (who is not on the blogosphere, but very well should be)
3/4 cup shortening (part butter or margarine, softened)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Blend in flour,  baking powder, and salt.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured board or countertop.  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or free-hand.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 6-8 minutes or until slightly browned.  Cool completely and decorate as desired.

For the royal icing, I used a mix. I cringe when I say that because it feels like cheating but it was cheaper than the meringue powder...aah, there are no excuses. But for a first timer, it worked and it tasted delicious, I should embrace that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Granola Bar Therapy

Seattle Metro, you are pathetic. I waited for the bus for forty minutes yesterday and my bus passed by me TWICE. It was too full to stop and pick up more commuters. Now I know I seem like the fool to have waited forty minutes, but when you honestly wait more than fifteen minutes for a bus, I feel like you're invested because you KNOW that once you start walking, that bus is going to come. Alas, after forty minutes of waiting, I decided to walk.

It only took me thirty minutes to get home, and you know what, I needed it. Not in that exercise sort of way (although, I'm sure I needed it that way too) but days have been grey in Seattle and it's definitely getting to me. The walk coupled with an episode of The Cosby Show and some peppermint bark was perfect and....I squeezed in some time to bake too!

Granola. Nuts. Stuff like that. That was what a friend said when I asked what birthday treats he enjoys. Mine would be: cupcakeicecreambrowniescookiespiecakecakecake. I've never made home-made granola bars before but it was really easy, incredibly flexible, and fun!

Thick Chewy Granola Bars
Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen who adapted the recipe from King Arthur Flour

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan (I used a 9 inch round pan) in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray. 

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack.

Once cool, a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. As Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggested: If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container.

I used walnuts, a few almonds, dried cranberries and chocolate chips for this mix. I'm definitely going to make some to snack at work too. 

Photos on this post are taken by my wonderful housemate Gaew.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gingerbread Waffles

I know gingerbread and peppermint usually prance around kitchens during the holiday season. Not in mine. Those two flavours will be in my kitchen all year round, especially after having made Gingerbread Waffles for breakfast this past weekend.

I love weekends. I love not having my dreams interrupted by the sound of my alarm, I love snuggling into my blankets and avoiding the cold, and I absolutely love sweet breakfast treats. With that in mind, a weekend that starts off with gingerbread waffles? UH-MAZING. The Gingerbread Waffles are easy, tastier than cereal, and will impress anyone and every one you meet. They turned out so delicious that I had no patience to take a worthy picture of the final product. I s'pose you'll just have to make them!

Gingerbread Waffles
courtesy of Annie's Eats via Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
4 large eggs
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
½ cup sour cream
3 tbsp. unsulfured molasses

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to blend. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, butter, milk, sour cream and molasses and whisk to blend well. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk to combine until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Preheat a waffle iron. Fill waffle wells and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Cook until crisp and golden. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

My favourite pair of jeans have a hole in them in an area which makes them unwearable. Maybe it's a sign that I need to stop indulging in the boxes of chocolate, the tub of peppermint bark, and the couple of pounds of fudge that sit in my fridge. Yes, I was most definitely spoiled this holiday season with tasty treats.

Am I one to believe in signs that require me to suppress my sweet tooth? Ehh...NAH! Instead, I decided to make this delicious Cajun Chicken Pasta, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.

Now, I'll have you know: following a recipe to a tee is really challenging for me. But this also means that if I were to make the same dish again, it would taste different every time because I don't keep track of exactly how much of a spice I'll put into the dish. It's why I'm excited to blog, because trying to keep track of how much I put in a dish will be challenging but helpful.

I didn't have any pre-made Cajun Spice Mix, however, I found this recipe and it turned out great. I did only put in one teaspoon of salt instead of two.

And of course, to add even more carb-age: some focaccia bread to complement the dish quite well!

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman


  • 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
  • 1 pound Fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • ½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cups White Wine
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken piece (Anjali's note: I used 4 teaspoons here. Initially on accident, but it tasted great and I can't imagine it with anything less that 4tsp.). Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Beginning

2010, you were good to me. Graduating and finding a new job, seeing the North East and South West of the US for the first time, going back home for my brother's wedding, trips in search of tasty food to Oregon, and exploring Washington - to only name a few shining moments. Most importantly though, 2010 was a year of culinary that have subsequently led to the creation of this blog a year later. 

2011, I wish for you to be a year filled with even more love, happiness, warmth, adventure, lessons, and such. Ever year, my resolution is "no more 'what if's' or 'buts'...just do it." So this is me, trying to document my failures and successes of baking/cooking in hopes that I will learn more, try harder, and be persistent in my attempts. Let the new shit begin.