In honor of Thanksgiving…only a couple days away…here is a post I did last year with my mother. For me, no holiday celebration would be the same without her mouth-watering pies. I came over for a lesson in how to make her famous Pumpkin, Apple and Pecan pie and we had a great time in the kitchen together. One of the reasons I look back so fondly on our baking day together is because instead of it being the smooth demonstration we had planned on, every possible thing went wrong and I got to see my Mom’s true skills come out as she solved each and every pie problem with a bit of creativity and a lot of laughter.
I hope this post inspires you to jump in and try some pies of your own this year.Read More
Ever feel clueless in the kitchen? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Over the past few months, I’ve been keeping track of every blunder I’ve made in the kitchen so I can refer back to it when the egg whites don’t come together or when the leftovers taste like chalk. At first I hadn’t planned on publishing my ever-growing list of know-how. Then one morning, Hubby went to edit my next post and read this one by mistake.
Now that you know a bit about curry leaves, it’s time to pick them up from the store. My Indian grocery store sells them in little bags. Curry leaves are usually still attached to the stem and I get a small bag that usually contains three stems worth.
Many of the cooks I’ve learned from will say they use “half a stem or a full stem” of curry leaves as a way of measuring out how many they use in a dish, rather than naming the number of leaves (e.g. “six curry leaves”).
If you’ve bought a little bag of leaves, you’ll probably only use
Kiwis were something I’ve always avoided, mainly due to their fuzzy brown skins. However I was getting a bit tired of the same pear and omelet breakfast so on my last trip to the Indian store I decided to shake things up a bit by picking up some kiwis.
Feeling proud of my brave choice of fruit, I headed home and placed them in my fruit basket, where they continued to sit for a full week. Every morning as I reached for kiwi, I didn’t have a clue of what to do with it. Do I scoop the kiwi out with a spoon? A good option, but I like to eat my fruit before the omelet and dripping kiwi juice over the eggs wasn’t too appetizing.
I’ve still got chocolate mousse on my mind. It’s because chocolate mousse is a great “skills” recipe. It includes so many of the basic techniques a baker needs to be successful in the kitchen. Knowing how to melt chocolate will lead you into truffles, patisserie, cakes and cookies. Simple syrups are the building blocks of caramels and cocktails. Learning to whip eggs and cream to the perfect ribbon-stage will give you the foundation for tiramisu, génoise cake, crème brûlée and opera cake. Knowing how to fold ingredients together correctly is a skill that is used in so many recipes, baking and cooking alike, that it’s almost as useful as knowing how to use a knife.Read More
I love the excitement of reading through a new cookbook. Flipping through the glossy pages, admiring the photographs of each finished dish and wondering what new discoveries will be made. At the beginning of many cookbooks is a section that is often ignored. Usually titled “How to Use This Book”. This introduction is an opportunity for the author to explain how they have organized their recipes. It’s also a fun insiders look at how they approach cooking. Every cook is different but all great cooks have a confidence about themselves in their kitchen. In my own kitchen, I can whip up handmade breads and complicated curries from memory but put me in another person’s kitchen and I freeze. I experience this quite a bitRead More
Do you ever have a sudden craving for something home-baked? Perhaps some shortbread cookies, or the perfect tea cookies laced with cardamom, maybe some fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies.
You head into the kitchen, grab your mixing bowls, your whisks, your wooden spoons. You pull out the flour, the sugar, the baking powder and the butter. The butter! The recipe calls for softened or room temperature butter and all you have is a Costco pack of butter sitting in the freezer, frozen solid.
Does this mean you have to give up your sweet intentions or miss outRead More
Dry Roasting is when you heat the spices to release the oils and therefore release more flavor. It creates a warmer taste than using them raw.
Spices can be used roasted or raw in most recipes, it’s just a matter of personal preference.Read More
Is anyone else ever disgusted by their kitchen sponge? What was once bright and beautiful quickly becomes soggy, smelly and discolored. I’m guilty of making my way quickly through bulk purchases of these sponges. But don’t throw them away just yet. There is a trick I learned from my mother that will rejuvenate any sponge to it’s (almost) former glory.Read More
Last week, I had my friend Daniel over to visit. Daniel and I know each other from my music school days where we sang in choir together. We hadn’t seen each other in a while as he had been in Germany for the last two years studying abroad at a music conservatory. The town he lived in while in Germany was small with a return to a slower and simpler life that Daniel adored. He told me how the experience had changed his life and he’ll be heading back as soon as possible. He shared stories about the tiny town where no one cared about Facebook or having a TV and everyone got together on an almost daily basis as their only form of entertainment. There was nothing else to do in the town except practice your music andRead More
Shopping at the Indian grocery store has replaced my love of shopping at the mall. I wander the aisles looking for star anise or cardamom seeds. The owners of the Indian store recognize me now when I come in for my weekly shopping spree and I can even speak a little Punjabi with a friendly Punjabi girl my age who sometimes works the counter. I get a kick when strangers come up to me, their curiosity aroused by how I know my way around the store and ask “Do you know how to cook Indian food?”. They are always amazed when I answer “Oh, yes, I cook Indian food every day”. Some times when I am checking out, the owner will eye my basket of items and ask “Oh, are you making saag? Do you know how to make that?”.Read More
We love chapatis, but eating with chapatis can be a daunting task if you have not grown up eating with them and it took me a bit of time to get used to it. I remember when I met Hubby and started learning more about Indian food, I had no clue about what to do with the accompanying Indian bread that comes with the meal. The bread served with an Indian meal, either naan (yeast risen bread) or chapatis (whole wheat flat breads), are actually used as utensils and a spoon is sometimes only used once the bread has run out.Read More
We are Punjabis – I happily include myself in this statement – and because we are Punjabis, we eat chapatis.
Chapatis (pronounced chah-PAH-tees) are flat breads made from whole wheat flour, water and a little oil. If you’re feeling extra fancy you can add a bit of salt. If you experience Indian food mostly in restaurants, you may not be familiar with chapatis, since naan is more popularly served. But in our household, they accompany almost every meal. Basically, chapatis are like utensils – used for scooping up a bite of lentils or vegetables or smooshing items into bite-size pieces, even wiping a plate clean. A “real” Punjabi can tear off a piece of chapati, fold it into the perfect scooping device and scoop up a dish without ever getting their fingers dirty – all with one hand.Read More
Ginger and garlic paste is used in almost every main dish. When I was first learning to cook Indian food, I got my ginger and garlic paste from Safeway. Then I started to get it from the Indian store because it’s cheaper. Now, I make it at home. It’s the cheapest version and it is by far the most flavorful, which is what really counts.
To a beginner cook or a cook new to Indian food, making your own ginger and garlic paste at home may seem like too much effort when it can easily be bought at the grocery store. The difference however is substantial. Using fresh ginger and garlic will improve the flavor of your dish immensely and isn’t that what cooking is all about?Read More