A lot's been going on here and at my column for the San Francisco Chronicle. I just got back from a day learning about my figs and how they're preserved by drying (but that we will deal with much later) For now, I wanted to share with you some of my recipes from the column that I've been cooking up, a little savory and a of course, a little sweet! There's a prawn and chorizo pulao inspired by Goan chorizo (and what I do since it is practically impossible to find outside India), a look back at San Francisco's Oyster Loaf with my special take with a bit of semolina, an easy toasted naan and tomato salad and of course, dessert, this roasted summer sweet corn custard tart with cardamom.Read More
Sometimes, it's good to take a break even a short one if you can. I normally work on Saturdays and at the bakery, that's an extra busy day for me! Fortunately, last Saturday I was able to "wrap my pastries up" a little earlier than usual and we decided to be spontaneous and drive out to Monterey Bay. We sat on the sand, soaked in the sun for a little bit and then walked around the pier after grabbing a couple of crab and shrimp sandwiches. We got to watch the seals as they lay out sprawled in the sun on the decks at the pier doing nothing but sleeping and the occasional loud growl. A rather uneventful time at the beach except for the seals but still nonetheless every bit relaxing and fun. I realized that I need to do this more often whenever possible take a break and recharge.
Our trip to the bay reminded me of lazy Sundays with the occasional breakfast that would satisfy my fried food cravings and this sandwich satisfies that moment. It starts with a golden crispy exterior that encases a tender soft layer of bread that encapsulates a savory spicy herbed chutney and a layer of cheese. That's essentially what this chickpea battered sandwich/bread "pakoda" is all about!
Here are some of my tips when preparing this sandwich that you might find useful,
- Use thick slices of good bread, it doesn't collapse as easily when dipped into the batter. Don't leave the sandwiches in the batter for too long. As soon as you dip and coat them, add them to the hot oil.
- I prefer savory fillings to this sandwich like this fresh herb chutney and layer of cheese I use in my recipe.
- I recommend using as little water as possible when making this chutney. Start with half the amount of water listed in the recipe and then slowly add more. If it is too watery you will end up with a soggy sandwich. However, if you can't get the purée to form with less water, you can drain the liquid out a little before you spread it over the bread.
- Remove the seeds from the chili pepper if you want the chutney less hot otherwise leave them in.
- Eat the sandwiches as soon as they come out of the frying oil as they will get soft and soggy over time.
chickpea battered green chutney and mozarella sandwiches
yields: 4 half sandwiches
2 bunches cilantro leaves, fresh
1 bunch mint leaves, fresh
1 serrano or thai chili pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
3/4 cup water, you may need less than this amount
4 thick slices of plain sandwich bread
2 fresh mozzarella cheese slices
for the batter
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup water
enough vegetable oil for frying
1. Place the fresh cilantro, mint, chili, ginger, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Then add half of the water and pulse until puréed. Add more water if needed but use water sparingly (see notes on tips). Taste the chutney and adjust salt if necessary. Keep the chutney aside until ready to use.
2. Take one slice of bread and spread a generous tablespoon of the chutney after draining any excess liquid if necessary. Place a slice of the mozzarella cheese and then top with a slice of a bread to form the sandwich. Slice the sandwich in half with a sharp serrated knife. Prepare the second sandwich in the same manner.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the chickpea flour, salt, baking soda and water to form a thick slurry.
4. Heat enough oil in a deep frying pan to around 350F. You can test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a half a teaspoon of the batter, if the oil is hot enough and ready, the batter will immediately bubble and rise up to the surface of the oil. Dip one halved sandwich in the chickpea batter and coat evenly. Immediately and carefully drop the sandwich into the hot oil and use a slotted spoon or spider move the sandwich in the hot oil to fry. Flip the sandwich over after about 1 or 2 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Cook on both sides, remove and drain any excess oil by placing the fried sandwich on a plate lined with a sheet of absorbent kitchen towel paper or cloth. Serve immediately and hot with a side of the remaining chutney or ketchup.
I think this might just be the final blood orange post of the year for me and this blog. As per our favorite "dealer" at the farmer's market, the season is slowly coming to an end and this dream will too. This is one gift of winter, I'd like to keep on giving forever but then again, I guess I probably wouldn't appreciate them if they were available year round.
Let's start with the meatballs and then get back to the aioli. My grandmother made meatballs often but we never ate them in sandwiches, they were always served as a small side with a bunch of other dishes. And I wish she had made us sandwiches because she did make the best meatballs! Her trick to making a good meatball that holds its shape, an egg and a few slices of bread soaked in milk and then squeezed. The combination of both of these together in meat makes a really great binding agent.
My aioli turned out to be less pink and more yellow than I would like it to be but definitely had that distinct sweet citrusy flavor of the blood orange (reminded me of my blood orange curd experience). The color will depend on how red your oranges are. The reduction method helps to incorporate as much color and flavor you can squeeze into the aioli without affecting the ratios of the ingredients to create one thick and delicious creamy emulsion.
You can use any bread to for the base of the sub and then stuff it up with your favorite greens and veggies. I'm not big on lettuce but I absolutely love arugula for its distinct peppery flavor which goes rather well with the spices that flavor the meatballs in this recipe. Layer the sub with a few slices of radishes and slather or drizzle with as much blood orange aioli as you want.
Here are some of my kitchen tips;
- The dried mushroom powder - I make my own. I just grind up a couple of dried mushrooms in a spice mill and use that use that to flavor meat. It's definitely a great way to keep a lean cut of meat juicy and enhance flavor, a trick I learned from the Mushroom Council last year in Philly.
- Aioli is a labor of love. I prefer to make it by hand with a whisk and a bowl (get the arm strength and stamina) versus the food processor. I mellowed the harshness of the garlic by using oven roasting it (you can find instructions here in this previous post), this also helped to have the orange flavor stand out.
- I recommend the reduction step to keep the water out of the aioli. Depending on how red your blood oranges are, you will end up with a pink or a more yellow aioli. I clearly had a more yellow aioli with a faint pink tinge. The addition of fresh orange zest gives this aioli a lovely bump of fresh citrus flavors.
goan style meatball subs with blood orange aioli
goan style meatballs
yields: 25 X 1 inch diameter meatballs
1 1/2 lbs ground lean beef (90% beef, 10%fat) or chicken or turkey
2 tablespoon dried shitake mushrooms powder
1/4 cup red onion, minced fine
1 teaspoon garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ginger root, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
2 slices of white bread (ends trimmed off), soaked in milk for 2 minutes and then squeezed (you should have about 1/4 cup of the resulting softened bread mixture
olive or vegetable oil for frying
1. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients from the meat to the squeezed bread slices. Mix and combine with a large wooden spoon. Divide the mixture into 25 equal parts, each approximately 1 inch diameter in size.
2. To cook the meatballs: If frying - heat a large skillet with a 1-2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. Cook 6-8 meatballs in batches for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally to cook on each side. The meatballs will be be slightly caramelized when done. Drain the cooked meatballs on a clean sheet of kitchen paper. If baking - preheat the oven to 350F and place about 12 meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and bake in the middle rack for 15-20 minutes.
blood orange aioli
yields: a little over 1 cup
3/4 cup blood orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 garlic clove, oven roasted and mashed completely
1/4 teaspoon blood orange zest, fresh
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained
3/4 cup light extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper) powder
1. Place the orange juice in a small thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes and reduce to 2 tablespoons. The final reduction should be able to coat the surface of the pan as a very thick liquid. Remove from stove and allow to cool completely before use.
2. Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic clove and orange zest and whisk vigorously until creamy and pale for about 2 minutes. Then add the salt and whisk vigorously for another minute. The mixture should start to thicken.
3. Whisk in the reduced blood orange juice followed by the lemon juice as vigorously as possible. Then slowly trickle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil while whisking fast to incorporate the oil. Then whisk another tablespoon of the oil into the mixture. Then slowly trickle the rest of the oil from the side of the mixing bowl while whisking the mixture as fast as possible. Whisk in the pepper and taste and season the aioli if necessary. The aioli will be thick and creamy in texture. The color of the aioli will depend on how red your original blood oranges are.
assembling the sandwiches
yields: I'm giving general instructions on how to assemble the sandwiches with no amounts listed. Feel free to add how much you want to make up the final sub.
sourdough baguette or any type of bread you love
fresh arugula leaves
thinly sliced radishes
salt and pepper
1. Pull out some of the soft inner bread to make a little well in the center of the baguette. Layer with a generous amount of arugula leaves, radishes and place a couple of meatballs. Drizzle with blood orange aioli and season with a little salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
I like sandwiches of all sort, shapes and sizes. Tartines are no exception and I love them loaded, stacked with all sorts of stuff with contrasting flavors and colors! I'm a firm believer that every bite into a sandwich should offer different and distinct layers of complexity in taste. So, I've prepared a little fall inspired tartine to eat and share with you this weekend.
All week long, we've been eating a lot of these guys! These tartines are layered with my green cilantro-mint chutney along with a few cubes of butternut squash, a generous layer of mozzarella and a single whole shiitake mushroom. It's simple yet tasty, full of fresh herbs and flavors and a colorful open-faced sandwich at that. An easy dish that can easily be made into a snack or appetizer for a party.
- I used a rustic ciabatta bread here but any type of rustic bread will work for the bread base.
- Fresh pumpkin cubes can also be used in place of butternut squash.
Go ahead and make yourself a few tartines and enjoy your weekend!
butternut squash and green chutney tartines
yields: 6 individual tartines
2 cups cubed butternut squash or pumpkin (about 1/2 inch sizes cubes)
1/2 cup red onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
6 slices of ciabatta bread
6 small shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup green cilantro-mint chutney (click for recipe)
1/2 cup low skim fresh mozzarella cheese (drain excess water and pat dry with a clean towel, and tear the cheese into bits)
1 tablespoon olive oil + a little more for drizzling over the tartines
a little more salt and pepper for seasoning
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss the butternut squash and onions together in a mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the salt and pepper and spread the mixture on baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 15-20 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and keep aside. Do not switch the oven off.
2. Take one slice of the bread and spread a generous 1 1/2 teaspoons of the green chutney with a butter knife. Place about 1 -2 tablespoons of the butternut squash mixture on the bread and 1 shitake mushroom in the center. Layer the top with about 1 tablespoon of the torn mozzarella cheese. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Prepare the rest of the tartines similarly and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the tartines with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.