luke warm salad

This is super tasty…

ingredients: 4 pieces of asparagus

1/2 shallot, minced

1tbs olive oil

handful of red grapes

2 handfuls of fresh spinach

 

directions: dressing- whisk oil, balsamic, shallots, and mayo. season to taste.

cook the asparagus and shallots in oil over medium until asparagus is slightly soft, remove from heat. After 2 minutes of cooling add to spinach, grapes, and top with a balsamic vinagrette.

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Crunk Cake

Today is Dana’s birthday! Whoo for 23! Its fitting to have a cake that combines the best things about all birthdays, drinking and cake. This Lemon Whiskey Bunt Cake is one of my mom’s recipes. It’s one of those things that is easy to make last minute and is always a crowd pleaser. Whenever I eat this cake I can’t help but to think, ‘I can’t believe my mother let me eat cake with so much booze it in when I was a kid.’ Seriously, this cake isn’t the most refined dessert in the recipe book but damn, it is consistently delicious.

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LEMON WHISKEY BUNT CAKE

1 package yellow cake mix |||| 1 package (3.4 oz) lemon instant pudding |||| 4 eggs |||| 1 cup milk |||| 3/4 cup whiskey |||| 1/2 cup vegetable oil |||| 1 tablespoon lemon juice |||| 1/2 cup sugar |||| 1/4 cup unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bunt pan and dust the sides with flour.

2. Mix together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, milk, 1/4 cup whiskey, oil, and lemon juice. Transfer the batter to the bunt pan.

3. Bake for 50 minutes.

4. After the cake is taken out of the oven, stir sugar, butter, and 1/2 cup whiskey in a small sauce pan until syrup bubbles. Spoon syrup over the cake while the cake is still warm. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before removing to serve.

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Blow out the candles and wish for an after school snack

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Mrs. Kaur

Jaahaan’s mom, Mrs. Kaur is visiting from Delhi for a few weeks. I don’t know why she would visit Syracuse in January with all this snow when the weather in Delhi is balmy and wonderful. I’d been hearing stories about her mom’s obsession with PNC, so I asked for a cooking lesson and Mrs. Kaur gratefully obliged. When I arrived at Jaahaan’s apartment Mrs. Kaur  already had all the spices set out, the vegetables diced, and was ready to go. It was like entering into the Indian version of Everyday Italian with Giada. Pretty much a dream come true.

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This is all Mrs. Kaur has to work with. One saucepan, one skillet and a rice cooker. And I learned that the basic ingredients in any Indian dish are tomatoes, onions, maybe some ginger garlic paste, and some spices. Really the most essential spice is a garam masala mix. Just goes to show that Indian cooking isn’t hard. All you need is a pot, some vegetables, and a spice mix and you are cooking like a true Desi lady. Most of the ingredients used can be found in the International isle at Wegmans. Some of the more obscure items, like amchoor powder, can be found at Kashmir Grocery on Erie Boulevard.

PANEER CURRY

1/4 cup onion paste* |||| 1 teaspoon garlic ginger paste |||| 3/4 cup tomato puree |||| 1 teaspoon salt |||| 1/2 teaspoon turmeric |||| 1 teaspoon garam masala |||| 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder |||| 1 teaspoon chili powder |||| 1/2 cup diced green pepper |||| 1/2 cup diced onion |||| 1 1/2 cups milk |||| 1 package fried paneer

*To make the onion paste: mix diced onions in a blender or a food processor until an onion paste forms. Then briefly saute the paste in a skillet with some oil until the paste turns light brown. The onion paste will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

1. Heat vegetable oil in the bottom of a medium-sized pot. Add the onion paste and garlic ginger paste and saute for about 2 minutes.

2. Then add the tomato puree and spices. Allow the mixture to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the milk, green peppers, onions, paneer, and 1 /2 cup of water to the spiced tomato puree mixture.  Allow the mixture to boil until the curry thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

POTATOES with MUSTARD SEEDS

1 teaspoon mustard seeds |||| 2 potatoes, peeled, boiled, and diced |||| 1 small onion, cut into thin strips |||| 1 teaspoon garlic ginger paste |||| 1/4 cup tomato puree |||| 1 teaspoon salt |||| 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango powder) |||| 1/2 teaspoon turmeric |||| 2 teaspoons garam masala |||| 1 teaspoon dhania powder (coriander seed) |||| 1 teaspoon chili powder

1. Heat a few teaspoons of vegetable oil in a skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Beware! The mustard seeds will pop. Stand back so you don’t shoot your eye out. Allow the seeds to cook for about 30 seconds before adding the onions.

2. Once the onions start to turn brown add the tomato puree and the spices. Allow the onions to cook with the spices for another 3-4 minutes.

3. Then add potatoes and 1 cup of water to the skillet. Allow the mixture to cook until the water is totally evaporated.

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Econ homework and a plate of Indian food for dinner.

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This kitty only speaks Hindi.

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in your open-face breakfast

Sunday morning. Freshly fallen snow on the ground. Lots of Homework waiting to be procrastinated. And Dana crawling into my bed…purring like a cat and describing the contents of a breakfast sandwich. She tells me this is the breakfast sandwich to end all breakfast sandwiches.  With words like ‘prosciutto’ and ‘cheese’ being thrown around, I am willing to taste test the breakfast sandwich to end all breakfast sandwiches. Now I am open to other suggestions for the best breakfast sandwich ever title, but I will say that this is a breakfast sandwich worth getting out of bed for.

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DANA’S in your OPEN-FACE BREAKFAST sandwich (makes 4 sandwiches)

2 English muffins |||| 4 slices of skim-milk mozzarella |||| 4 slices of prosciutto |||| 4 eggs |||| 10 asparagus stalks

1. Slice English muffins and toast in the toaster.

2. Fry the eggs – over easy, sunnyside, or get fancy and steam them like Dana did.

3. Steam the asparagus. Wrap the asparagus in a wet papertowel and pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes for a super fast asparagus steaming solution.

4. Assemble the sandwiches. Use one half of the English muffin. The cheese is on the bottom, then the prosciutto, then the asparagus, then top it all off with the egg. You can add some pepper on top but I wouldn’t sugguest adding any more salt since the proscitto is already pretty salty.

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no need to knead

I’ve been meaning to make this no-knead bread for weeks by now. I finally got around to it this week. The basic idea of this recipe (which was originally published in the New York Times) is that time does the work for you. Instead of kneading the bread so that it rises, you can just allow the bread to rise on its own for a long period of time. Ideally the dough needs 16-20 hours at room temperature to rise. So if you make the dough on Tuesday night, you can have fresh baked bread with Wednesday’s dinner. Its a beautiful thing.

SIMPLE WHITE BREAD

3 cups all purpose flour |||| 1/4 teaspoon instant, dry yeast |||| 1 1/4 teaspoons salt |||| cornmeal, for dusting the pan

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir until dough is shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and then in a kitchen towel.. Let dough rest for 16 to 20 hours at warm room temperature. (Note: since it’s winter time and we are not very rich, the house is pretty cold. You might want to allow more rising time if your room temperature is colder than usual.)

2. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a bread pan and dust with cornmeal. Add the dough to the pan and sprinkle more cornmeal on top. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown.

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I wish I had better pictures of the bread, but we were just to anxious to eat it with some tomato soup. One word of advice: Do not leave out the cornmeal! It gives the loaf a nice crispy crust and keeps it from sticking to the pan. I’ve only made this bread once, but it turned out really well. I want to make some variations. Maybe some gorgonzola cheese and green onions. Or maybe some whole wheat flour with raisins and cinnamon. The possibilities are endless!

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kathy cooked!

SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

1 pound cooked shrimp |||| 2 cups celery, chopped |||| 1 1/2 cups green pepper, chopped |||| 1 cup onion, chopped |||| 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning |||| 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano |||| 4 tablespoons olive oil |||| 2 14-0unce cans of chicken broth |||| 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice |||| 1 cup tomato, chopped

1. In a large skillet cook the celery, green pepper, onion, Cajun seasoning, and oregano in the olive oil until the vegetables are tender. Then carefully add the broth and the uncooked rice to the skillet.

2. Simmer mixture for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.

3. Then add the shrimp and tomatoes. Cook until the shrimp is heated through.

Kathy cooked! I love it when that happens! Seeing that its the first weekend back after Christmas Break a pot luck was in order. Angie graciously invited everyone over to her place. I had work at the diner until late so Kathryn got started on our contribution to the pot luck: JAMBALAYA.

The food at the pot luck was so fresh and delicious. Ms Angie made  salmon fillets, Mitchell brought a nice salad with homemade dressing, Dana made her infamous artichoke dip, someone made mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy……kind of a weird combo of dishes, but it all tasted good. The pot luck spanned the entire evening with friends coming in and out. Lots of laughing and story telling and catching up was necessary after a month of vacation. And there is no better way to catch up than with a pot luck and about 8 bottles of wine.

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it’s good to be back in the neighborhood

After a long hiatus (due to computer sickness, a hellish finals week, and Christmas festivities) Basta Pasta is back and better than ever. My computer isn’t totally revived, but I think it’s going to be up and running soon(ish). Nevertheless, I musta been a good girl this year because Santa brought a lot of kitchen goodies. I got  three new knives, a whole mess of spices, no less than FOUR cookbooks (one by Padma the TopChef hottie about Indian cooking) and a wok! In the words of my four-year-old cousin upon opening a package of Spiderman undies, “Its just what I always wanted!”

So I’m coming back in style with TWO wonderful baked goods recipes: a poppy seed loaf and a decadent cranberry ginger chocolate tart.  No pictures with these recipes unfortunately. But that’s a new years resolution: pictures with every Basta Pasta entry!! Food porn for everyone! Okay, now getting back to the issue…I gave my grandparents the poppy seed loaf as a Christmas gift. They like breakfast breads and my heating bill just arrived so it qualified as cheap Christmas gift. I ended up making 2 loaves, one for the grandparents and one for my family. I found the recipe in the Joy of Cooking cookbook and the loaves turned out okay. This bread needs to be eaten in the first 48 hours otherwise its hard as a rock and pretty much inedible. Any suggestions on how to lengthen the life  of this bread are appreciated.

CHRISTMAS POPPY SEED LOAF

This recipe makes two loaves

7 cups all-purpose flour, sifted |||| 3/4 cup sugar |||| 1 tablespoon salt |||| 1 package active dry yeast |||| 1/2 cup shortening |||| 3 eggs |||| 2 cups poppy seeds |||| 1 cup honey |||| 1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and the entire package of yeast. In a seperate bowl combine, 2 1/2 cups of hot water with shortening.

2. Gradually add the water to the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Then add 1 beaten egg and another cup of flour. Beat for 1 more minute.

3.  Add the additional 3 cups of flour to make the dough. It is easiest to combine all the ingredients with your hands at this point. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, for about 10 minutes. Then place the dough in a flour covered glass bowl and cover with a dry dish towel. Allow the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, grind the poppyseeds in between towels with a wooden mallet (or just buy already ground poppy seeds at the store). Then combine the poppy seeds with 1 egg, 1/3 cup honey, and lemon juice. You can add nuts or dried fruit to the poppy seed filling if you wish.

5. After the dough has been allowed to rise for 45 minutes, divide into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into an oval shape about 1/4 of an inch thick with a rolling pin. Put 1/2 of the poppy seed filling in the center of the dough.

6. The Joy of Cooking cookbook has an excellent illustration of the technique to give the loaf a braided effect. Essentially, cut the dough on the sides of the filling into 1 inch stripes. Then alternate folding the stripes over the top of the filling. Brush the top of the loaves with 1 egg white.

7. Transfer the loaves to a greased cookie sheet. Bake the loaves in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until the bread is a nice golden brown color.

Yay for holiday baking! I decided to make this Cranberry Ginger Choclate tart for dessert after a Christmas dinner of honey baked ham, sweet potatoes and broccoli…a humble but delicious holiday feast.

This tart was quite an ambitious project spanning over two days of preparation. I ended up having to make two crusts because I cracked the first one while taking it out of the oven. But the result was well worth the effort. The cheese filling is very light and not too sweet. The tartness of the cranberries is so refreshing after too many super sweet Christmas cookies. The crust was only okay. Even on the second try, my crust was too hard. I like a soft pastry-like crust on pies and tarts. This crust ended up like an Oreo cookie. I would make this again, but possibly with some adjustments to the crust.

Some of my family liked the ginger flavor and others would have preferred the tart better without it. Personally, I love candied ginger (especially when its dipped in chocolate) but my family members are not the most adventurous of eaters and this was just a little too much. There were little leftovers though, so no one was too offended.

CRANBERRY GINGER CHOCOLATE TART

Cranberry Topping:  1/2 cup cranberry juice |||| 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin |||| 1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries |||| 3/4 cup sugar |||| juice of 1 lemon |||| 1 teaspoon lemon zest |||| 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root |||| 4 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

Crust: 1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs |||| 1/4 sugar |||| 6 tablespoons unsalted butter |||| pinch of salt

Filling: 1 8-oz container of mascarpone cheese |||| 1/2 cup powdered sugar |||| 1/2 cup whipping cream |||| 1 teaspoon vanilla extract |||| 2 tablespoons candied ginger

1. First make the cranberry topping because it needs to chill for at least 8 hours. Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice and gelatin into a small bowl. Let it stand while you make the rest of the cranberry topping.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cran juice, fresh cranberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and fresh ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer until cranberries are plump but still tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Strain into a bowl and set cranberries aside. Stir gelatin mixture into the cranberry juice mixture until the gelatin dissolves. Then stir the cranberries back into the juice. Chill cranberry mixture for at least 8 hours (I chilled it overnight).

4. Next make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind about 3/4 of a package of chocolate wafers in a food processor to make crumbs.

5. Combine cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Crumbs should feel moist when pressed together. You can add another tablespoon of butter if mixture is dry or doesn’t stick together.

6. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch greased tart pan with removable bottom.

7. Bake chocolate crust for about 15 minutes. Transfer tart pan to a rack and cool completely before adding the filling.

8. To make the mascarpone filling, use an electric mixer to beat all the ingredients together. Only beat the mixture for a minute because over mixing will cause the filling to curdle.

9. Spread filling on to the cooled crust. Then spoon the cranberry mixture over the filling. Chill for another 2-6 hours. Garnish with 4 tablespoons chopped candied ginger before serving.

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