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Archive for September, 2007

yobaby

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[picture from http://www.stonyfield.com/OurProducts/YoBaby.cfm%5D

Robbie: what were you calling aboot?
just the party?
Me: yah
are you coming?
Robbie: yeah, but after high zero
Me: what is high zero??
Robbie: http://www.highzero.org/
Me: oh cool!
btw
Stonyfield baby yogurt
IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i highly recommend it.
Robbie: it sounds gross
why “baby”?
Me: the flavors are GREAT. apple, pear, blueberry, peach, they taste so good
i mean
it’s for babies
and it has babies on the packaging
but other than that
the ingredients are the same as the regular yogurt
but it’s made with whole milk
and comes in 6 packs
instead of regular milk and individual prices
so it’s a good deal
and soooo freaking delicious
PLUS there is the added benefit of looking at the babies!
5 minutes later…
Robbie: eww, gross banner on the blog
Me: hey!
i like the banner!!!!!
that’s my family!!!!

So Robbie didn’t seem to care much for the idea of eating Yobaby, Stonyfield’s organic baby yogurt, but I like it better than most other “adult” yogurts I’ve tried. I just looked at Stonyfield’s website where it’s stated that they use less sugar in Yobaby yogurts than they do in adult yogurts. This is probably why I find them so good. I can really taste the blueberry flavor in the blueberry yogurt-a delightful surprise. Also, since these yogurts are made with whole milk, there is a decadent layer of cream atop each one. At 4 ounces each, they are perfect for a rich-but-not-over-indulgent after lunch dessert. Plus: the babies.

About Robbie’s banner comment: I know the banner does not directly relate to food. It contains pictures of my family from back in the day when we were all much cuter and so much funnier.
For years, my family ate out just once a week, if that; most nights it was DBRS, or daal, baath, roti, shaak (dal, rice, roti, subji). I complained incessantly about this routine but my parents stood firm- that and they always made us eat everything on our plate. While my friends were allowed to pick at their food, my parents made sure Shyam and I didn’t leave the table until we had eaten two servings of everything- even if it was a shaak made from kandh. I might have been irritated at them for this rule when I was 8, but now I can appreciate their foresight. Although we were raised vegetarian, we developed adventurous attitudes towards food: always willing to try something new, and always ready to appreciate, and indulge in, flavors and spices. Yay, parents!

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This is my family’s version of the Breach Candy sandwich, or the Bombay Grilled Sandwich. Layers of tomatoes, onions, cheese (we used cheddar but I think we should have gone for a milder cheese), boiled, sliced potatoes, green bell peppers, sandwich masala (basically a salty chaat masala), and a chutney made from crushed coriander, green chilies, and garlic fill this sandwich. To make it at home, just butter the outsides of the bread, spread chutney on the inside of the slices, assemble the fillings, close it up, and then grill away on a sandwich press.

For all those who don’t believe in vegetarian sandwiches, really, you shouldn’t say anything until you try a Breach Candy sandwich. Eating it in the evening, hot off the grill on the crowded streets of Bombay is such a satisfying treat. Our recreation of the sandwich is one of my favorite foods to eat when I’m missing Bombay, as I was so terribly much on Saturday. I had just come back from my cousin Amrita’s old home, where I spent the morning playing with her 4 month old son, my nephew Parthiv, a little Bombay baby.

We tease Amrita relentlessly about how her little P will become a first-class FOB, growing up in Bombay, but she insists that he won’t. Although Amrita was born in Sri Lanka, she spent the majority of her life in Framingham, MA, just 5 minutes away from my house, until the day she fell in love with my other cousin, Ravi, and moved to Bombay. (No, not incest- although Ravi and Amrita are both MY cousins, they are not in any way related to each other- and yes, it’s amazing, 2 Kutchi people that aren’t related.) So now they have little Parthiv, and Saturday, 30 people or so dropped by their house to see the baby and parents. It was like they were a traveling museum exhibition: I told them they should charge admission.

To feed the folks that kept filtering in and out of their house, Nita Kaki laid out a snacking spread, straight from Bombay via Amrita and Ravi’s suitcases:

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Baked soy chaklis- these chaklis are high protein and low fat, compared to the equally delicious but very dangerous regular chaklis, which are fried spirals made with rice flour, chickpea flour, and sesame. A savory Indian answer to the pretzel, chaklis are much tastier than dry pretzels- even when they are made of soy, and baked. Amrita whispered, “They also go so well with beer!” I think you could probably find chaklis at your local Indian store, although I don’t know about the baked soy kind- these seem to be a special item. To prevent them from crushing, Amrita stored the bags of chaklis in large plastic boxes for the journey across the ocean. (NEW: see recipe for chaklis at the end of this post.)

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Nita Kaki also served poori/papdi and athana/achaar. The poori are flat, fried disks flecked with caraway seeds. Amrita’s dadi (my grandmother’s sister) made the two athanas– one with pickled whole green chili, and one with raw mango and lime. Athanas are very tasty but I used to get a little freaked out by them. So many varities, so many colors, all sinisterly coated with oil… but I got over my aversion, and good thing, because athana flavors can wonderfully complement a meal by adding dashes: chili-heat, bitterness, sourness, or meeti– sweetness.

Related: An Illustrated Guide to the Breach Candy Sandwich and Some Other Things I’ve Been Eating.

Chaklis [Murukku]
recipe from Saveur, November 2002

3 cups rice flour
1 cup chickpea flour
4 tsp. black sesame seeds
2 1/2 tsp. fine-grain salt
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground asafetida
3 tbsp. vegetable shortening
vegetable oil

1. Combine rice and chickpea flours, sesame seeds, salt, cayenne to taste, and asafetida in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, work shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups water, mixing with your hand, until dough is smooth.

2. Fill an Indian noodle press fitted with the star-shaped disk or a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ star-shaped pastry tip. Holding press or pastry tip about 2″ above a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, squeeze out a 7″-8″ long rope of dough onto cookie sheet, allowing it to fall into a spiral about 2″ om diameter. Break off dough rope with your finger and continue process, spacing spirals 1″-2″ apart. Repeat process with remaining dough.

3. Pour oil into a deep, wide medium pot to a depth of 1″ and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches and using a metal spatula, transfer dough spirals to oil and fry, stirring with a slotted spoon, until golden and crisp, 1-2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Set aside to cool completely.

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chiles, roasting

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[Greenmarket at Union Square: Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat]

There is an article on NPR.org about chiles, New Mexico, and fall.

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[pink, frothy, savory]
New Naimat Kada
124 Lexington Ave (between 28th and 29th streets)
New York, NY
212-400-1166

In the belly: Vegetarian Samosa and Kashmiri Chai
Rating: Chai is very lickable.

If only the samosas at New Naimat Kada were a little bit tastier. A small Pakistani joint in Murray Hill, New Naimat Kada proudly displays platters of masala-ed fish and chicken, kababs, and two to three vegetarian items under a glass counter that greets customers. I’ve heard most of this food is quite good. The other night, I got a sizable, hot samosa from NNK, along with a cup of salty Kashmiri chai. For just $2.50, this could be the perfect hold-me-over snack, or a very cheap, very tasty breakfast/lunch/dinner. Sadly, other than the fried pastry, there is nothing enjoyable about these samosas- the potato filling has no seasoning or spice, and the filling is generally what differentiates good samosas from the rest. These were boring samosas.

The Kashmiri Chai, on the other hand, is fantastic. It is a luxurious drink: coral-pink, lightly salty, and scented with ground pistachios, almonds, and cardamom. It’s always hot, thick, and delicious- and after the first cup, most people tend to get over their hesitation regarding salty tea. I’m excited for the evenings to become brisk and cool, and the leaves to turn crispy and red. I’ll be walking down 28th street, a steaming cup of Kashmiri chai warming my hands.

Veg Samosa: $1; Kashmiri Chai: $1.50

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[happy birthday]

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[delicate delight!]

 

Elana and I love hosting theme parties. In college, we had a few at our apartment: the Guacamole Competition, where three very fine contestants competed to make the best guacamole for the party guests to judge in a blind taste test; the Pirates and Pinatas party, where people had to dress up in pirate gear and bring Mexican food; and of course, the Cupcake party, which was legendary for 1. the number of guests that actually brought cupcakes 2. my boss’s arrival and desire to try all the baked goods and 3. a secret kiss.

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[the cupcakes at the cupcake party, my oh my]

 

This year, we decided to host a tea party. We sent out a tea-party themed evite for “The Very Proper End-Of-Summer Brooklynian High-Tea Party.” We bought a delicate, flowered tea set. For 6 hours, we baked and baked and baked. We made maple scones, lemon blueberry tarts, orange-almond cupcakes, and carrot cake. We brewed loose leaf Darjeeling tea, sent from India by one R. Whelan. We served clinking bottles of other amber brews. Our guests brought flowers, got full, and had fun. The tea party was a smashing success, thanks in part to our two most popular desserts: the Lemon Blueberry Tarts and the Carrot Cake. I’ll post the recipes here, both from Rose Carrarini’s Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, in case you feel inspired to have a tea party of your own.

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[look at me, I’m so glazed and pretty, so tart and juicy!]

Lemon Blueberry Tarts:

Serves 8 (we made about 16 tarts)

1 prebaked 11 inch Sweet Tart case*, glazed with beaten egg.
scant 1 cup lemon juice
generous 3/4 cup superfine sugar
8 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup light cream
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the blueberry mixture:
1/2 cup cherry, raspberry, or strawberry jam
4 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the tart case for 5 minutes. Remove and keep the oven switched on.

In a bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the sugar until well mixed, then beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time.

Add the cream and whisk well, then whisk in the flour.

Strain the mixture into the tart case and bake for about 30 minutes or until the lemon cream is just set, with no bubbles or puffing up. Take out and leave to cool.

To make blueberry mixture, put the jam in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until bubbling.

Add the blueberries and continue stirring until they just begin to give off a darker color- about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the heat immediately, and pour over the lemon cream. Each berry must be shiny and glazed.

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[remnants of the most heavenly, fragrant carrot cake]

The Carrot Cake

Serves 8 (for some reason, ours served about 15 people multiple times).

unsalted butter, for greasing
4 eggs
generous 1 cup superfine sugar
1 1/4 cups sunflower oil (but we used safflower)
9 medium carrots, finely grated (we grated these carrots by hand, since we don’t own any helpful baking equipment. It was fun.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

For the icing
generous 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
generous 1 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, depending on how sweet you like your icing (we used 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 inch cake tin (we used an 11 inch tin) and line its base with parchment paper (we didn’t use parchment paper, just butter.)

Beat the eggs and superfine sugar till they are light and fluffy but not too white and meringue-like.

Pour in the oil and beat for a few more minutes.

Fold in the carrots and then the flour with the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Finally fold in the walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared itn and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the tin before taking it out.

To make the icing, beat the butter with the cream cheese for a few minutes till the mixture is smooth.

Add the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar.

When the cake is cold, ice the top with the icing- it can be as smooth or rough as you like.

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[the two bakers, back in their natural habitat]

 

*Sweet Pastry (the dough for the tarts)- We felt very ambitious and decided to make the pastry for the tarts from scratch, but it’s not necessary.

Enough for 2 eleven inch tart cases (we used cupcake tins and made about 18 tarts).

31/2 cups all purpose flour
generous 2/3 cup superfine sugar
scant 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (10 minutes out of the fridge) plus extra for greasing
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

If you are using a food processor, process the flour, sugar, butter and salt for about 10-12 seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Otherwise, put the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl, cut the butter into pieces and work it into the flour with your fingertips.

Now make a well in the middle of the flour and butter mixture and add the egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Stir with a folk to incorporate the flour evenly until you have to begin using your hand.

Using one hand only, bring the dry and wet ingredients together (this might take more time in the winter).

Dust your work surface with flour, then remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on the floured surface for a few minutes until it is smooth and homogeneous.

It is now ready to be rolled.

*The Prebaked Sweet Tart Case

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2 eleven inch tart tins with butter.

Prepare the dough (see above), then cut into two. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and set it aside in winter or put it briefly in the fridge if it is a hot day.

Flour your work surface well, then roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.

Carefully lift it up with the rolling pin as it does tend to break, and ease it into the tart tin. If it does break, don’t worry- just patch it up with extra dough.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Now you have to chill the tart cases for at least 30 minutes before baking, or you can freeze them if you wish to use them later.

Bake blind with any weight system you have (they used foil filled with beans, I used foil filled with macaroni- this is to ensure the tarts keep their pouch-like shapes) for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is just turning golden.

Leave to cool before filling.

Tartlets: for individual tartlets, cut smaller pieces of dough and roll enough to fill your size tin. Just ease it in and cut off the excess bits. (Again, we used cupcake tins.)

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…or you might end up with this:

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…when you thought you were ordering this:

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…here:

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The Mediterranean Eggs, with tomatoes, capers, sheep cheese, herbs and olives, was actually listed on the menu as Baked Mediterranean Eggs, a detail I had failed to notice in my excitement over the prospect of eating sheep cheese and capers. The dish was fine, but a strange concept, I thought, and tasted like I was eating pasta sauce and eggs. However, I was expecting, and would have preferred, a Mediterranean Omelette, or even the Omelette Du Jour, which that day was with swiss cheese and mushrooms. Sadly, the homefries were not at all spectacular- kind of chewy fried potatoes with the occasional onion and nothing else. The restaurant was also slightly pricey…

Baked Mediterranean Eggs: $12.50; Omelette Du Jour: $12.50.

Belleville is in Park Slope, at 330 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

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