cardamom stewed apples in vanilla port

cardamom stewed apples in vanilla port | A Brown Table

I perpetually spend my time looking for shortcuts in the kitchen. Sometimes they're easier to find and sometimes things can get a little more complicated or drawn out than I'd like them to be. When planning a meal for a bunch of people, I usually compromise with this rule - if dinner is going to require more effort, then make dessert simple or vice-versa, I find that this little rule brings harmony to my crazy kitchen and I have time to do a whole lotta other things in life. Some of these things currently include: find time to sign up for a sourdough bread class, plant a couple of trees, pick bathroom tiles, teach the cat to walk on a harness, make the dog meatballs.

This dessert checks all those requirements for me. It's easy to prepare and looks and tastes fancier, it's all about making an impression when it comes to entertaining! You literally take an apple, core it out, then stuff the core with some more apples and raisins and then cook them in port wine. The green cardamom and vanilla bean tie the flavor components of the apples and the wine by giving it a gentle floral and sweet flavor. If you want to make it even fancier, I'd highly recommend a scoop of good vanilla or coconut ice cream on the side.  You can grab the recipe here!

The folks at Wolf Gourmet are giving away one of these gorgeous 10-piece cookware sets made from shiny stainless steel and contain an inner aluminum core for uniform heat transfer. Their stainless steel cookware is easy to maintain, foods cook well due to the smooth transfer of heat and they're easy to clean! To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me what is your one favorite meal that you love to make every spring and how you keep the preparation simple. Due to shipping reasons, this contest is only open to residents of the United States and subscribers. The giveaway will run for a week and end on April 14th, 2016 at 12pm. I'll announce the winner back on this page and contact them via email. Good luck and happy cooking!

cardamom stewed apples in vanilla port | A Brown Table
cardamom stewed apples in vanilla port | A Brown Table
cardamom stewed apples in vanilla port | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these apples,

  • Use good baking apples that hold their shape well on exposure to heat.
  • The green cardamom and vanilla bean are the big flavor boosters in this recipe so skip the extracts in this one.
  • Use a good port wine, one that you like to drink.
  • If there's any leftover port sauce, I'll collect it in a jar and refrigerate to use as a sauce over plain vanilla ice cream. It's good!
cardamom stewed apples in vanilla port | A Brown Table

Disclaimer: Thank you to Wolf Gourmet for sponsoring this post and giveaway! All opinions expressed are solely my own.

peach and vanilla cake with spiced almond milk

peach and vanilla cake with spiced almond milk| A Brown Table

A few things I've picked up on, now that I spend all my time in San Francisco;

  • You can never predict whether it will be warm, hot or chilly. Windy days aren't too bad but they happen often.
  • When it comes to food options, it's rare that you can go wrong. The city has so many tasty options for different price points and for different diets. 
  • It's a dog-friendly city. 
  • My life involves food, a lot of it. But I find it interesting that this city and the people here, are hugely, food centric. It comes up in a lot of conversations and rightly so.
  • Food trends are innovative from both a culinary perspective and a technological one.

Since, I've been traveling a bit for the past few weeks (house hunting, work stuff, etc) and also avoiding the heat wave that's hitting this side of the world, I've been focussing on easier and less time consuming items to cook at home. This desserts falls right into that category of easy-to-make, less time consuming and incorporates seasonal goodness in the form of ripe and sweet yellow peaches. I start by infusing Califia's unsweetened almond milk with two types of cardamom, black and green along with crystallized ginger and a few threads of saffron. Once the infused almond milk is completely cooled and chilled, you can either drink it directly or you could make this super easy peach and cake trifle type dessert.

Peaches are one of the best gifts of summer and with a light vanilla flavored cake such as angel food cake or a pound cake, you will have the easiest and fruitiest dessert to serve your friends and family and one that requires very little effort!

peach and vanilla cake with spiced almond milk| A Brown Table
peach and vanilla cake with spiced almond milk| A Brown Table
peach and vanilla cake with spiced almond milk| A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this trifle that you might find useful,

  • If you use the sweetened almond milk from Califia make sure you adjust your sweetener levels accordingly when preparing the milk. I suggest using sugar or honey but feel free to use your favorite sweetener.
  • The amount of saffron I use to flavor the milk is a very tiny pinch and you will get a very tiny tinge of yellow color. Adding too much saffron can make this milk taste unpleasant. 
  • I love yellow peaches because they are sweet and when ripe their texture is soft. You could use something firm like a white peach but I find that doesn’t play well with the texture against the cake.
  • The cake: Here you can play around a little. I like angel food cake and vanilla pound cake to keep it simple. This way the spiced milk and peach flavors don’t get mellowed out by whatever might be in the cake. To kick things up a notch, you can also grill the pound cake or toast it a little before adding it to the dessert. 
  • I like to leave the ginger behind in the milk when I serve the dessert but if that’s too intense then you can remove it.
peach and vanilla cake with spiced almond milk| A Brown Table

peach and cake spiced almond milk trifle

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

3 cups Califia unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey

12 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

2 black cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

a pinch of saffron threads

4 yellow peaches, ripe

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh

3 cups vanilla pound cake/angel food cake, torn into bits or cubed

  1. Place all the ingredients from the almond milk to the saffron in a thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from stove, transfer the milk with the spices into a container, cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or until chilled.
  2. Peel the peaches and slice in half to remove the pit in the center of the fruit. Quarter the peach and then cut each quarter into half. Drizzle the lemon juice over the peach segments and allow to sit for 2 minutes at room temperature. 
  3. When ready to serve, toss the peaches with the cake pieces carefully in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Divide this equally between 4 glasses or serving bowls. 
  4. Remove the cardamom pods from the chilled almond milk and discard the pods. Shake the milk and pour over the cake and peach mixture in each glass. Add the leftover ginger bits from the milk on top of the cake. Serve chilled and immediately. 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia and all opinions stated here are purely my own.

homemade tandoori chicken

easy homemade tandoori chicken

One of the most popular meats to eat grilled or watch people barbecue in their homes in India, is probably without a doubt, tandoori chicken! It's definitely popular because it is also one of the most requested recipes I've been asked to share and I finally pegged a recipe that I love that tastes good and is easy to make. 

easy homemade tandoori chicken

Tandoori is derived from the word tandoor or the large clay oven where long skewers of marinated meat and poultry are cooked to perfection and where deliciously blistered pieces of naan (Indian flat bread are cooked). We never owned a tandoor at home (they can be pretty huge) and most people in India don't but there are a few tricks to make this popular chicken dish at home. 

Instead of using artificial food colorings to give the chicken its traditional red color, I used a beet which does work very well without affecting the taste though I will admit, I wish it were a deeper shade of red. However, too much beet could also end up sweetening the chicken which is something I wanted to avoid, the marinade gets a deep dark pink color and you will be able to smell the fragrance of the freshly ground spices in it. To cook the chicken in two stages, bake first and then broil to get those characteristic tandoor marks on the chicken. A good piece of tandoori chicken is succulent and juicy with complex spicy flavors mingled with notes of fresh lemon juice, spicy and sour all rolled into one. 

easy homemade tandoori chicken

My version of tandoori chicken calls for a large amount of chicken as you will see below but this way you can prepare the marinate the chicken ahead of time and freeze some for later. Just thaw a batch in the refrigerator before you are ready to cook. Freezing the chicken in batches is also a great way to save some time over the week. Serve your tandoori chicken with flatbreads such as naan, roti or rice, a refreshing salad and some plain yogurt. 

My instructions here are for the oven but you can also toss these on the grill to cook them. 

Good accompaniments to this dish are: Cucumber Mint Raita, Pumpkin Raita, Quick Onion Relish 

Recipes for Naan can be found here: Skillet Naan and Garlic Naan, Spelt Skillet Naan

easy homemade tandoori chicken

homemade tandoori chicken

yields: 6lbs chicken drumsticks

ingredients

6lbs chicken drumsticks

2 cups plain yogurt

1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 cup red onion, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup beet, peeled and chopped 

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 inch piece ginger root, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon green cardamom seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons turmeric powder

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

12 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon paprika

12 whole cloves

4 dried red chilies (I used Kashmiri chilies but feel free to use any spicy kind you prefer/you can also substitute with 5-6 fresh red/green thai chili peppers)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

extra lemons for serving

1. Remove any skin from the chicken, rinse under cold water and pat them dry with a clean paper towel. Make two deep slits across the flesh of each chicken drumstick and keep aside in a large mixing bowl.

2. Using a food processor/blender/immersion blender, pulse all the ingredients from the yogurt to the salt until completely smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken and coat the meat evenly. Cover with cling film and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (maximum overnight) before cooking. (At this point you can do what I did if you don't want to cook all 6 lbs of chicken, I divided the marinaded chicken after 2 hours and froze half of it in a ziploc bag, the rest I kept to marinate). 

3. Place one wire rack in the middle of the oven and another rack closest to the top and preheat to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place about 6 pieces of the chicken drumstick about an inch apart from each other. Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of the left over marinade from the chicken over each piece of meat and cook in the oven on the middle rack for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over half-way through the cooking. The chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 160F. At this stage, immediately switch the broiler on and transfer the rack with the chicken to the top shelf. Broil for about 3-5 minutes until the chicken pieces get slightly charred. Remove the chicken drumsticks and place in a plate, cover and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the tandoori chicken before serving. Cook the rest of the tandoori chicken drumsticks and serve similarly.

boiled peanuts with garam masala

Boiled peanuts with garam masala

Pretty much everything on Route 1 is gorgeous but for some reason I'm in love with Half Moon Bay. There are breathtaking views of rocks standing tall against the ocean waves and while sea gulls dive into the water to catch fish. But what I love most is to see stretches of farms that adorn this portion of the beautiful coast line! If I were to live on a farm and if I could choose, I would love to live right there on one of those farms facing the ocean so I could wake up to it every morning. 

half moon bay beach california

However, in real life, I make do with occasional trips to Half Moon Bay. Last Sunday, we took a short hike up one of the trails and walked our way across the mountain with the dog. Though, it was a little foggy and chilly, the view was as always, gorgeous! But I had a little surprise waiting for us at home, M has been begging for boiled peanuts for the past few weeks and I had set the slow cooker up to do its magic while we are away. 

Boiled peanuts with garam masala

I haven't used my crockpot much since we moved and I think it was happy to get some action. This recipe, itself is simple and easy, you just toss in a few ingredients and let it cook. Though, I have recommended a cooking time below, you may need to cook the peanuts a little longer as the time to cook the peanuts inside the shell to tenderness might vary based on the crockpot model you use. I like my peanuts to be tender but not mushy. 

Boiled peanuts with garam masala

boiled peanuts with garam masala 

yields: 1.5 lbs boiled peanuts/about 6-8 servings

ingredients

1.5 lbs raw peanuts in the shell

2 bay leaves

4 dried red chilies (I used Kashmiri chilies)

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 tablespoons kosher sea salt

water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1. Place all the ingredients from the peanuts to the salt in your crockpot. Pour enough water into the crockpot to cover the peanuts, the water level should be approximately 1 inch above the peanuts. 

2.  Set the crockpot to cook for 5 hours at the high heat setting. Stir the contents of the crockpot and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for the first 4 hours, then in the last one hour of cooking time, add the cider vinegar and cover back with the lid. At the end of the cooking time, the peanut shells should be soft but not mushy, the peanuts inside the shell will be completely cooked and tender. You can increase the cooking time, if you feel that the peanuts are not as soft or tender as you like them. Serve the peanuts warm with a little bit of the broth that they were cooked in.