spicy calamari

spicy calamari

There's something calming that accompanies the sound of the ocean water splashing against the rocks while the breeze caresses your face. Sticking your wet toes in the sand while you stare across into the horizon and forget everything that's on your mind. At least that what's we anticipated when we took a quick day trip to the beach in Santa Cruz. 

Amusingly enough, it was quite the opposite. The winds were very chilly and wild! So was Snoopy, the thought of sitting down calmly was not something he was in the mood for. He wanted to play with the other dogs and eat sea weed. The two of us struggled with our packed lunches which kept getting stuffed with sand. Finally we looked at each other after spending two hours of frustration trying to battle the cold winds and sand and decided that perhaps this would have been a calmer day if we stayed at home. We walked back to the car, more annoyed than ever and began our drive back home. After a few minutes in the car driving, we looked at each other and smiles started to form which turned into laughter. While the dog was being crazy at the beach he had now sunk into a deep state of slumber in the back seat of the car while the two of us were exhausted from all the craziness of those two hours at the beach. I really feel these crazy things happen only to us but then again we might not remember these moments years from now! I'm sure we will go back to the beach and definitely be better prepared than our first visit! 

mise en prep calamari

What would life not be without a little bit of craziness or spice for that matter! Calamari is one of my favorite seafood appetizers to eat in summer and I'm sharing one of my favorite ways to make calamari at home. I've added several ingredients that are commonly used in Goan cuisine that give these guys a delicious flavorful kick. Cornmeal gives these squid a super crispy crust that with will make you want to eat more with every crunch bite. I'm not a big fan of dipping sauces when it comes to eating calamari, I prefer a splash of fresh lemon juice over them but feel free to pair this with your favorite dipping sauces. 

spicy calamari goan indian style

spicy calamari

yields: 4 servings

ingredients 

2 lbs squid, cleaned
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used freshly ground dried Kashmiri chilies but if Cayenne also works great here)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
1 clove (approximately one teaspoon) of garlic , minced 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
vegetable for frying
2 cups cornmeal
a few fresh lemon wedges and a few fresh cilantro/parsley leaves for garnishing

1. Wipe any excess liquid from the squid using clean paper towels. Using a sharp knife cut the head off and the body into rings, place on a clean paper towel. (Food52 has a great tutorial on how to clean and cut squid).
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Add all the ingredients from the sea salt to the cornflour and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the cut squid until coated evenly. Allow to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 
3. Heat 2 inches of the oil in a wok on a medium-high flame. In the meantime, place the cornmeal in a medium-sized tray. Using a fork pick up the marinating pieces of squid and toss them in the cornmeal until completely coated. Place the coated pieces on a sheet of parchment paper. 
4. As soon as the oil gets hot at around 375F,  fry about 1/4th of the cornmeal-coated squid until golden brown (don't overcrowd the wok or they won't cook evenly). The squid will cook within 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, immediately transfer with a slotted spoon onto a clean sheet of absorbent paper towels to drain the excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the squid. Serve hot with fresh lemon wedges and garnish with a little fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

roasted purple yam and molasses ice cream

roasted purple yam molasses ice cream

The fun part about exploring the local markets in your new neighborhood is the fun things you might come across. My eyes and heart burst with excitement when I came across these purple/violet yams/ube in my neighborhood. Until now, I had never tried them and everything about these guys blew my senses away. They are sweet to taste but when roasted the yams give off a beautiful floral nectar like fragrance which frankly is kind of amazing! 

mashing yams

Purple/violet yams/Ube are popular in Asian cooking and you can also find them in some Indian recipes, so you should be able to find them in Asian/International markets. I made one 

sweet potato ice cream

 last year and I figured it would only be appropriate to cook these yams into an ice cream to trap those delicious scents and flavors possessed by this magic tuber. 

ice cream prep

Roasting is my cheat method for many recipes, especially here because not only does it concentrate flavors and heightens tastes but it also helps to drive out moisture from the yam. I used molasses and brown sugar to sweeten the mixture and the resultant ice cream is very soft because of the yam pulp. I think you're gonna love this one, so make yourself some roasted purple yam ice cream and the purple!

roasted purple yam and molasses ice cream

roasted purple yam and molasses ice cream

yields:

1 generous quart

ingredients

1 large purple yam/ube/violet yam

2 cups whole milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon cream cheese, plain

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark molasses

1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.  Rinse the yam under cold running tap water, wipe it dry with a clean towel. Prick the yam a couple of times with a fork and bake the yam for 45 minutes or until it is tender on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the yam is baked, remove and allow it to cool to room temperature.

2. Once the yam is cool enough to handle, peel the skin and place the pulp in a food processor. Pulse until you get a smooth puree.  Reserve 1 cup of the puree to prepare the ice cream. This can be done the day ahead and stored in an airtight container until ready to use. 

3. In a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the milk, heavy cream, cream cheese, sugar and molasses. Stir the mixture on a medium-high flame until the sugar and molasses are completely dissolved. Reduce the flame to medium-low and whisk in one cup of the reserved yam puree. Increase the flame to a medium high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, whisking the liquid continuously. Continue to whisk and cook until the liquid acquires a thick custard like consistency. Remove the saucepan from the stove.

4. Strain the ice cream base through a sieve and transfer it to an airtight 1 gallon ziploc bag. Seal airtight and place the bag in an ice-water bath. Allow the ice cream base to chill completely for about 30 minutes.

5. Pour the chilled ice cream base into the pre frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream starts to form and no longer sticks to the side of the canister. This should take about 30 minutes (alternatively, follow the instructions that came with your ice cream maker).

6. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid. Press the ice cream down with a spatula to remove any air bubbles and cover the surface with parchment paper. Cover the container with its lid and freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours or until firm. 

raw ginger strawberry smoothie

raw ginger strawberry smoothie

Moving is clearly insane, the last time I did a huge move was almost eight years ago and it was just me. This time round, it's the two of us and the dog and I can't just toss things out (I'm a big fan of decluttering, I get anxious otherwise) I need to think about everyone involved, what they love and what they don't. But now all of that is done with and I am focussed on our week cross country ride which is going to be the trip of a lifetime! There's new states to visit, places to see, foods to try out, and I'm a little excited that Snoopy gets to share in this big road trip adventure. I know, I sound crazy but I guess it's what dog (pet) parents get excited about.

strawberries

My kitchen is packed and gone but before it left, I made this delicious berry flavored coconut milk smoothie that packs the sweetness of ripe chubby strawberries and the goodness of raw ginger. There's also a reason behind this drink, I started to feel a raw uneasiness in my throat as the temperatures kept fluctuating in the weather and with the impending move and all other crazy things going on right now, I couldn't afford to be sick. Raw ginger is used as a common ailment in Indian herbal medicine so I figured why not use it to create a spring-themed immune boosting drink. There's fresh coconut milk (I used the So Delicious brand because I personally like the flavor a lot but fresh coconut milk would work well here too) and the strawberries, I used were a bit sweet so I ended up not using any sweeteners (I've listed a suggested amount but feel free to add as much or as little as you like). This smoothie turned out to be great for my throat but it's tasty enough to be served as a drink, especially as the heat waves begin to kick in.

floating strawberries on coconut milk

I did this fun interview with the very sweet Amina of The Paper Plates Blog, check it out if you have a moment to spare. I talk about a lot of things beyond food and maybe, my obsession with the Game of Thrones books. 

Also,  here are some of my favorites links that I'm drooling over;
  • Linda of Call Me Cupcake made a sour cream rhubarb cupcakes (there's a ginger cream frosting that has poached rhubarb on it!!!!).
  • Climbing Grier's Mountain's Lauren, made this hummus shrimp loaded naan pizza that is simply amazing!
  • Lindsey of Dolly and Oatmeal made this gorgeous sauté that's sits on a bed of chickpea and chive mash. This is one, to see and believe, eat!
  • This pickled chard by Love and Lemons is what's spring should be about.

strawberry coconut milk smoothie with raw ginger

raw ginger strawberry smoothie

yields: 2 generous servings

ingredients

1 1/2 cups coconut milk, chilled, unsweetened, low-fat (I used the So Delicious brand)
1/2 cup strawberries, fresh, diced in half
1/2 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and freshly minced (minced as tiny as possible)
2-3 teaspoons palm sugar (optional; I didn't use add any)

1. Add all the ingredients to a blender (you can also use an immersion blender) and mix until all the ingredients are completely combined. The sugar is optional, I didn't add any as the strawberries were very sweet to begin with). 
2. Pour in chilled drinking glasses over ice cubes or crushed ice, serve immediately. (This best drunk fresh as soon as it is prepared).

Disclaimer: I didn't receive any financial compensation or products from So Delicious and all opinions stated are solely mine. 

turmeric spice-seed almond cookies

turmeric spice seed almond cookies gf

My earliest memory of cookies are not fond ones. I blame it all on my kindergarten "Sports Day" (aka worst time of the school year) where we'd have to run across the field and pick up a cookie off a bench, eat it and then run back to the other bench and eat another one, the vicious cycle would continue a couple of times, I can't remember for how long but I think it was long enough! It was something I dreaded (I was a very lazy kid) and worst of all the cookies were not at all tasty. Now, come to think about it, I don't think it made that much sense, run and eat a cookie, No, No, No! Thankfully, I don't run across any fields for cookies but I will definitely run to the kitchen to whip some up.

almond cookie spices

My grandmother would get a dozen or more cookies that were lightly spiced and flavored with fennel and cardamom. They were fat, round and fragrant with the aromatic spices that were blended into the dough. This is my take on those cookies she had happily pick up from her baker.

I take great pride in my heritage and love infusing the flavors of Indian cuisine in everyday cooking. These cookies are extra special because they also bring back wonderful memories with my late grandmother from whom I have watched and learned to cook from. I made these cookies with Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour and then added some turmeric for color and a whole buncha seeds for flavor and spice. These cookies are deliciously crisp and thin, flavored with fennel, flax and poppy seeds and colored with turmeric. But there's also a delicate hint of black pepper for that extra amazing little kick. 

I had a really hard time trying to come up with a name for these almond cookies. The turmeric kept hinting at "Golden cookies" but I kept debating with myself, I finally settled for something a little less glamorous but hopefully does it justice. Either way, I hope you love the cookies as much as I do! 

turmeric spice seed almond cookies in can

I used Bob's Red Mill Almond flour in these cookies and the cookies turned out perfect. The flour has fine grains making it easy to work with. The folks at Bob's Red Mill are sponsoring a giveaway for one lucky winner, all you need to do is go to the Rafflecopter widget and follow the instructions. 

You can win a bag of their delicious Almond meal flour and a $20 gift card to their store. So go ahead enter and best of luck!!!

This contest will run from April 4th through April 12, 2014.

Disclaimer:

 I did not receive any financial compensation from Bob's Red Mill for this post and all opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.

turmeric spiced seed almond gf cookies

turmeric spice-seed almond cookies

yields:

30-34 cookies

ingredients

1 1/2 cups (5 1/8 ounces) almond flour (Bob's Red Mill)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 cup (7 5/8 ounces) sugar 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons flax seeds

2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 large egg

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients from the almond flour to the black pepper with a whisk until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

2. Whisk the egg lightly in a small bowl. Fold the egg into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until completely combined. Bring the dough together into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.

3. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. 

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and take a generous teaspoon of the dough, mould it into a small ball with the palms of your hand and place it on the baking sheet. Bake 9 cookie dough balls at a time and space them around 2 inches apart from each other, for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. The cookies will rise during baking and eventually flatten. Once baked, allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

dark chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

hazelnut dark chocolate chip cookies

I have a not-so-secret love for the delicious fragrance of hazelnuts. My obsession with hazelnuts starts early in the morning when I need to have a cup of freshly ground hazelnut scented coffee beans brewing away, otherwise my coffee just doesn't taste or smell as good. I once tried searching for hazelnut wood furniture in the hope that purchasing such furniture would make my house smell perfect, needless to say that didn't work out. So clearly, why wouldn't I make a hazelnut cookie to go with my hazelnut flavored coffee, it just made perfect sense (in my world).

dry ingredients

Everything about these cookies says dark, dark, dark! I used a very dark cocoa (if you want to go lighter in color then use the same amount of a regular unsweetened cocoa) with dark chocolate chips and a hint of browned butter all come together with the hazelnut flour to form a delicious crispy cookie. These cookies are also gluten-free so those of you with related allergies will enjoy them. I added a little hint of browned butter to bring out the nutty flavors of the hazelnuts, it gives them that extra little edge of flavor. 

cookie prep

Baking with nut flours is very different from using recipes that use grain flours as nuts are rich in fats, so you need to adjust the amounts of fats depending on the type of cookie you want. Since, I wanted a crispy cookie, I refrigerated the dough overnight. Here's another tip, when it comes to storing nut flours and keep it fresh, keep them in an airtight bag refrigerated or frozen, bring it to room temperature before use so it won't be clumpy. 

The wonderful folks at

Bob's Red Mill

were extremely kind to send me some of their hazelnut meal to use in this recipe and they are also sponsoring a giveaway. I'm a huge fan of their products and use a lot of their grain and nut flours in my baking, their quality is fantastic and this hazelnut flour is no exception to their product line. You can smell the delicious fragrance of hazelnuts as soon as you open the bag, needless to say,  I fell in love with it immediately! Now you can try it out too, 

Bob's Red Mill

is giving away a bag of their delicious Hazelnut Meal and a $20 gift card to their store. To enter the contest, all you need to do is follow the instructions on the widget at the end of this post. This contest will run from March 5th through March 12, 2014. Good luck! 

Disclaimer:

I did not receive any financial compensation from Bob's Red Mill for this post and all opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.

dark chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

dark chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

yields:

12 cookies

ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) hazelnut meal(Bob's Red Mill), at room temperature

1 cup (7 5/8 ounces) brown sugar 

1/4 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened dark cocoa (I used the extra dark cocoa from Hershey's)

1/2 teaspoon dark roast instant coffee (optional)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon madagascar vanilla bourbon extract

1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet dark chocolate chips

1. Place the unsalted butter in a small saucepan and heat on a medium-high flame for about 2-3 minutes or until the milk solids begin to turn reddish brown. Remove from stove and keep aside.

2. Whisk the hazelnut flour, sugar, cocoa, coffee, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt together in a large mixing bowl and keep aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla extract and browned butter. Make a well in the center of the  dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir the whisked liquid into the whisked dry ingredients with a silicone spatula. Bring the ingredients together to form a ball of dough, wrap with cling film and refrigerate overnight. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a wire rack in the center of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and roll each of them into balls. Flatten each ball with the palms of your hands into approximately 2 inch discs. Space 6 cookies on each sheet about 1-2 inches apart from each other. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until the edges of the cookies start to get crisp, the center will be slightly soft to touch. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking. Do not over bake the cookies as the chocolate will burn. Repeat with second sheet of cookies. Allow the baked cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve the cookies warm. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

chickpea scallion crepes

spicy chickpea scallion crepes

Let me start by saying, I love crepes and pancakes of all kinds, of all shapes and sizes, and of all sorts of varieties. They can be sweet or savory, it wouldn't matter, I find absolute comfort as soon as the pan rotates and the batter swirls quickly around to morph into its almost perfect geometrical identity.There's the sweet sizzle and array of tiny of circular craters that arise on the surface of this land that is waiting to be decimated by ravenous appetite. There is comfort in the magic of the crepe (pancake). 

scallions

Chinese scallion pancakes are delicious and coincidentally one of my not-so-secret favorite things to make in the kitchen. I could eat stacks and call it a day. Fresh scallions are delicious anyway and make everything better with their bright bang of flavor and color. I like to eat the white and green parts of the scallion.

chickpea flour and chili flakes

Chickpea flour is something that I grew up with, you can't escape it if you grow up in an Indian household. It's there and occupies a special place from food to beauty treatments, it's a daily staple. My mom made chickpea crepes for breakfast, my father was a big fan because that is something he grew up eating and we'd eat them often.

chickpea batter

I've combined two of my favorite crepe/pancake recipes into one. Chickpea flour crepes with red chili flakes for heat and fresh scallions. You can serve them with any sort of sauce on the side, ketchup or soy sauce, etc. Make these you will love them and they are guilt free because chickpea flour is a naturally rich in protein and good amino acids. 

savory chickpea scallion crepes

chickpea scallion crepes

yields: 6 crepes

ingredients

1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 3/4 cups water
1 bunch scallions (approximately 1/2 cup after sliced)
spray oil/olive oil as needed for frying the crepes

1. Place the flour, salt and chili flakes in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together to mix evenly. Pour the water into the dry ingredients and whisk until no specks of the chickpea flour can be seen and the batter is smooth. You can taste the batter to make sure the salt is enough and adjust accordingly.
2. Remove any dead and damaged leaves from the scallions and trim the white and green ends. Slice the white and green ends of the scallions. Reserve 1 tablespoon for the garnish and mix the rest of the scallions into the batter. 
3. Heat a cast iron skillet or non stick pan on a medium high flame. Spray the pan with oil. When the oil is hot, pour half cup of the batter into the center of the pan and carefully, rotate the pan so that the batter spreads out to form a circle. The crepe will begin to form immediately and it does not have to be a perfect circle. Cook the crepe until the edges begin to come away from the pan, flip the crepe with a silicone spatula and cook on the other side for 40-45 seconds. Transfer the crepe to a serving dish. Prepare the rest of the crepes similarly and arrange in a stack. Serve garnished with the extra reserved sliced scallions.