I baked and baked as soon as I came back home. After our long trip in December, I realized I needed to do things as one does when they come back home, get everything organized and back in order. The backyard grew fast in the short bit of time we were away and everything got a major haircut.Read More
We took a day trip to Healdsburg this weekend, made our way through Napa and Sonoma valleys exploring a couple of neighborhoods we hadn't visited before. Right now with our warm springlike spell the land is painted with a beautiful bright yellow shade of wild mustard blooms and even the vineyards that still haven't sprung back from winter are looking quite magnificent against this backdrop of gold. Some of the trees are still covered with soot and black char from the recent fires and this was a nice visual respite from that terrible moment.Read More
Save the date for October 2nd, we have a cover and a release date! It took some months to work on the cover and finalize a photo, fonts and design but it happened and I couldn't be anymore prouder of how this turned out and I can't wait for you to see the entire book. I'm also thrilled and honored that my dear friend John Birdsall wrote the foreword to Season. As always, details on pre-ordering and tour dates etc. are on the BOOK tab above.Read More
I've been very accident prone for the past few weeks. First, I had a bad cold and then I fell into a bush and managed to sprain the tendons on one leg and smash the other on to a rock. Except for the sprain and my ego, nothing was fractured or damaged. And I am so thankful for that as I'm in the last few weeks of working on my book manuscript before I submit it. Gah, all these things are happening now when I really don't need it.
Meyer lemons are not exactly in season right now but the blooms are and every where you walk in Oakland, you can pick up the sweet scent of these gorgeous flowers so I tried to do something different. I've been reading Diana Henry's Salt, Sugar and Smoke and she's got me curious about smoking everything. [This is also one of my favorite books by Diana and it also made me fall in love with everything she writes.] Then I came across this Meyer lemon ice cream basic recipe from other favorite chef, Lindsey Shere's Chez Panisse Desserts and this smoked lemon ice cream was born.
To get the most out of the burning and smoking, I charred the lemons first while smoking them and then stuck them directly into the hot wood chips. The rest of the flavors involve steeping and infusion into the hot milk and cream. Ahh, yes, the Tellicherry peppercorns. I didn't forget about them. They not really there to make things spicy but rather to give a mild hint of the essentials oils inside the peppercorns. Just crack them once gently, don't try to pound them again and again and if all of them don't crack it's okay. You're looking for a very mild flavor.
Off I got to avoid future mishaps and back to writing. Have a lovely week.
smoked meyer lemon ice cream with tellicherry black pepper
[ice cream base adapted from the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook by Lindsey Shere]
Makes about 1 2/3 quarts
1 cup wood chips /saw dust for smoking [I used cherry wood]
3 Meyer lemons [about 3/4 lb]
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup [120g] sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
3 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp Tellicherry black peppercorns
6 egg yolks
Fill a small aluminum pan with the wood chips or saw dust. Place it on a hot grill, cover and set the heat to high. Slice the lemons in half and place them cut side on the hot grates and cover for about 8 to 12 minutes until the surface starts to char. Remove and flip them and place them cut side up in the pan containing the wood chips. Cover and allow to smoke for another 6 minutes. Remove the lemons from the grill and extract the juice. Strain the juice and zest two of the lemons. Keep aside.
Add the smoked and fresh lemon zest to a medium-size non-reactive saucepan. Add the milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream along with the sugar. Gently crack the peppercorns once and add them to the milk in a tea ball infuser. Heat the mixture on medium-high till it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and then let it steep covered for about 10 to 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and add then whisk in 1/4 cup of the warm steeped milk to temper. Transfer the yolk mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the tea ball infuser with the peppercorns and discard the peppercorns. Let this mixture stand for another 10 minutes. Then whisk the remaining cream and 9 to 10 Tbsp of the extracted lemon juice. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice if needed. Chill completely before adding to your ice cream maker and proceed as per the manufacturer's instructions. Store the prepared ice cream in the freezer.
[Note: Avoid adding too much lemon juice or you might end up with an ice cream that's too hard, if that happens let it sit out for 5 to 6 minutes before serving]
Good news folks, I just learned last week that my column for the San Francisco Chronicle, A Brown Kitchen is nominated in the Culinary Website category by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP)!!! This is such an exciting moment and one that I'm extremely thankful for. As always, thank for your continued support. Writing a recipe column to share the versatility and strengths of Indian cuisine has been a dream come true.
I wrote a little primer on how to establish your own Indian spice pantry at home, it's simple and straightforward with all the basic information to get you started. Check it out!
So to celebrate here's a Meyer lemon cake that I've decided to label "golden" because not only do the eggs and lemon give it a bright yellow color but I've thrown in a little bit of turmeric to bump those tones up. And.....I've made it a little boozy with this honey based liquor that M got for me from Brazil last year. If you can't find it make a simple syrup of honey and water (about 200ml) and add 30 to 40ml of honey bourbon, depending on how boozy you want it to be. Pinga com mel is a honey based liquor and if you can get your hands on some you will be thanking me a lot!
golden lemon and turmeric cake
makes one 12X8 inch cake
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (preferably meyer lemons)
2 sticks unsalted butter plus a little more to grease the baking pan
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs + 3 large yolks
1/2 cup pinga com mel
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
In a small mixing bowl or beaker, mix the milk and half of the lemon juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a rectangular 12X8 inch baking pan with a little butter and line with parchment paper.
Dry whisk all the ingredients from the flour to the zest in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Continue to whisk adding one egg at a time, followed by the yolks. Then add half of the whisked dry ingredients mixture and mix until no visible flecks of flour are seen. Add the milk-lemon juice mixture followed by the remaining flour and whisk until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is spongy yet firm to touch and a skewer when inserted comes out clean from the center. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once the cake is cooled cut the cake into 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles.
While the cake is cooling, place the pinga com mel, remaining lemon juice, water and saffron in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a rolling boil on high heat. Remove from stove and allow to cool. Pour this liquid over the sliced cake, cover with cling film and allow to cool completely to room temperature before serving. (Note: you can discard the saffron strands but I like to leave them in) Alternatively, you can leave this alcohol step out if you don't want a boozy cake.
One of my favorite dishes from New Orleans is gumbo, it's a hearty dish with a lot of spice and flavor and it has okra. Another Southern dish, that is close to my heart is fried okra, that's pure crispy goodness. Okra is popular in Indian food too and we prepare it in several different ways and I'm sharing one of my favorite ways to eat this vegetable.
If there ever was a vegetable known for its sliminess, it would have to be okra (lady-fingers). The slimy texture doesn't become an issue in soups, stew or curries but when stir-fried or cooked dry it can be a little unpleasant to some.
There are a few tricks to avoid the slime when cooking okra dry and using the slime to your advantage. This is what I do.
- Wash and rinse the uncut okra under running cold tap water and drain the excess water.
- Place the okra on a dry clean kitchen towel and dry completely before cutting through them.
- Cut the okra with a dry knife on a dry cutting board. Basically keep the water away, it activates the production of the slime.
- Avoid adding water to the okra while it's cooking.
This is how we ate okra often as kids. The okra is lightly spiced and has a little chili for heat. There's a generous helping of red onions, freshly ground fenugreek seeds, a little garlic and a splash of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.
okra with lemon and onions
yields: 2-4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil/ghee
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cup red onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (you can use less if you like it less hot, I used Kashmiri chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1 lb medium-sized okra, cut lengthwise
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
1. In a large wok with a lid, heat the oil on a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and allow them to cook for about 20 seconds until they begin to sputter.
2. Immediately add the onions and cook the onions with occasional stirring for about 4-5 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
2. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chili, turmeric, and fenugreek, cook for another 30 seconds. Add the okra, followed by the salt. Stir to coat the okra and then cover with a lid. Cook until the okra is tender, this will take about 8-10 minutes. As soon as the okra is tender, cut and squeeze the lemon juice over the okra. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or Indian flat breads such as roti or naan.