Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aarti's Sloppy Bombay Joes

I like Indian food, but I don't have a huge attachment to it since I never ate it growing up. Mom hates the smell of curry and Dad tends to avoid anything that's too flavorful. Phil (my bf) on the other hand, loves Indian food. He has been talking about finding some easy but tasty Indian recipes for awhile now. It was all talk until we started watching the show Next Food Network Star.

Right from the beginning, we loved Aarti. She cooked the exact food we were wishing for- Indian flavors with American elements to make them a little more familiar. Not to mention she is a food blogger! When Aarti won the show, Phil and I let out a big "YEAAAHH!". How cool is that? From food blogger to her own show on Food Network? I'm a little inspired.

So in honor of Aarti we made a recipe from her first show: Sloppy Bombay Joes. I always get excited about cooking, but this recipes was especially fun since my kitchen was filled with new scents. The taste did not disappoint either. Here's the recipe with some of my tips and comments along the way.

Aarti Party at Amanda's house!
Photo: Food Network Website

Sloppy Bombay Joes


2T vegetable oil (I cut back on the amount of oil throughout, 1T is plenty here)
1 T minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced ( Aarti puts the chile in the sauce and the meat, but I just put it in the sauce since I am in denial about how much spice I can handle and didn't want to over do it. I'm glad I cut back this time, but next time I might try the whole amount.)
1t garam masala (An Indian spice blend, they didn't have it at the normal grocery store, but I found it at World Market, along with lots of other affordable spices, but that's for another blog...)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup water

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (I probably used 1T here as well)
small handful shelled pistachios, about 1/4 cup ( Make sure to get some extra to munch while you cook!)
small handful of raisins, about 1/4 cup
1t cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced (I used a green pepper)
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact, not chopped
Kosher salt
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup half-and-half (I used milk)
small handful chopped pistachios
4 - 6 hamburger buns

Begin by making the sauce: Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the ginger, garlic, and serrano pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic brown a little. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile for the turkey, in large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil. When shimmering, add the pistachios and raisins. Cook until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of oil, and warm until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 10 seconds, or until some of the sizzling subsides. Stir in the onions and bell pepper, saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes, seasoning with a little salt. Stir in the turkey, breaking up the big lumps. Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, your sauce should be ready. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Once the turkey is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little, remove the serrano pepper. Add the honey, half-and-half, pistachios and raisins. Stir through and taste for seasoning. Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro.

Toast the buns, fill with the turkey mixture and serve.

The ingredients for the sauce, prepped and ready to go.
The ingredients for the turkey.

The ginger, garlic, and serrano peppers- trust me, you wish you could smell it!
The sauce.

The raisins and pistachios add a ton of flavor and texture, don't skip out on this part.
The sauce and the meat, if it seems too runny, just let it cook a little bit longer.
Not the prettiest meal ever, but trust me, it's yummy, and tastes even better as leftovers the next day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

La Tomatina

Like most days, today I came home from work and began to browse my favorite food blogs. I saw a message board post that reminded that La Tomatina was today! For those of you that don't know, La Tomatina is an annual festival in Bunol (pronounced boon-yol), Spain. It's a giant party, the world's largest food fight, and an amazing cultural experience. How do I know? I was in Bunol up to my waist in tomatoes for La Tomatina 2009!

The roots of the festival, as I understand it, go back to a random food fight that occurred in a market back in the 1940s. Every year, the town had a tomato fight to commemorate the day. When General Franco (evil Spanish dictator) came into power, he banned all festivals and anything fun. Once Franco was removed from power, the town celebrated their freedom by having an even bigger festival.

Now, bus loads and bus loads of tourist (many from Australia and New Zealand) come into the town to celebrate. Participants are advised to dress in old clothes, not to carry anything on their person that they don't want to loose, and wear goggles (they help, a little). Girls are warned- your shirt WILL be ripped off- so wear a sports bra or one piece swimsuit underneath. I had my friends ceremoniously shred my tank-top so it wouldn't be removed by a stranger.

Before the event, locals cover store fronts and homes with tarps, and some set up tables and chairs outside their house to watch all the crazies. The official events begins at 8am, when food fight participants climb a greasy pole to retrieve a ham (if you have spent any time in Spain you know that everything is about the jamon). Once the ham is removed, dump trucks full of tomatoes roll into the streets and tomatoes start flying. The whole town becomes a sea of screaming tomatoey humanity. The tomato throwing goes on for exactly one hour, when a flare goes up and all tomato tossing must stop or you could be arrested (!). You may be wondering how this mess gets cleaned up. The locals all pitch in and hose down the tourists.

The next couple days, I had several showers but still found the occasional tomato bit in my hair. Plus I couldn't get the tomato smell off of me and my eyes were all crusty from the tomato acid. Would I do it again? Well, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to get there again since there are so many other fun adventures I want to have first, but if given the opportunity, I probably would do it again! I highly recommend La Tomatina to any adventurous travelers out there. Let me know if you have any questions about it!

The "before" pic: Amanda (me), Scott, Rosemarie

Beer for breakfast? Why not!

So much fun I want to punch my friend Rosemarie!

Does that look fun? Well, it's WAY more fun than it looks!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ground Cherries? Gooseberries? Physalis? Tasty!

In the parking lot of the shopping center I work at there is a farmers' market on Thursday, and I usually stop by after work. I picked up 2 zucchinis, 2 summer squashes, an onion, 4 poblanos and a bunch of basil. Not because I had any plans for these items just because a) I like them and b) they were on sale. As I was leaving I noticed a vendor selling "ground cherries". Seeing a good learning opportunity I asked the vendor what they were, he described them as "little sweet tomatoes" and let me sample one. They were yummy! They have little husks around them and the consistency of a tomato but sweetness of a berry.

Some people have a little devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I ,on the other hand, have a tight-wad cheaper than Ebinezer Scrooge on one shoulder and a food snob on the other. At $4 a pint the tightwad got the best of me, but as I walked away, the foodie started arguing her case- "You don't need to use all these veggies at once, and plus you have a food blog and this is a great chance to use a local ingredient you've never tried before. Go back and get those dumb cherries!" So, I did.

As soon as I arrived back at the apartment I asked google what the heck a ground cherry is, and then I realized they are gooseberries. Now this I've heard of, not sure where, probably a secret ingredient on Iron Chef. After consulting my Le Cordon Bleu cookbook (thanks Phil!) I found the following description.

"Physalis (yet another name) - also called cape gooseberry, this sweet orange berry is encased in an inedible husk of papery leaf- like sepals. Eat raw or cooked, or use as a flower-like decoration."
And on page 322, a recipe!

I continued with my adventurous attitude and ignored the fact that I had never made my own caramel or worked with hot motel sugar before. I survived without burninateing anything, and my candied gooseberries look just like the picture! They taste good too, maybe not worth the mess... but I learned a new technique AND used a new ingredient. Not to mention I took some great photos. All in all, a successful day in the kitchen.

What do YOU do with gooseberries? A quick google search revealed recipes for pies, cobblers, salsas, chutneys.... any recommendations?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Better Than the Bux: Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

I work at a coffee shop here in Madison. In fact, you probably have a similar one near you since there seems to be one on every street corner. I try to avoid eating the pastries, since my mindless snacking the first day of work put me over my daily calories before 11am. The coffee cakes always tempt me, especially the Banana Chocolate Chip variety. Phil's family was visiting from out of town so I decided to recreate it for them. At least that way I wouldn't down the whole batch myself. Well, I solved my pastry munching problem in an unexpected way- my homemade coffee cake put the store bought cake to shame! My new problem is that I can't stop thinking about my "Better Than the Bux" cake.

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel
Adapted From Bon Appetit - January 2003

12 servings

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips- 1 1/4 cups for streusel, mix the rest in the batter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 3 very ripe, mashed up bananas
3 tablespoons of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

Streusel: Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside.
The Dry Team: Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, room temperature butter, and egg in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in mashed bananas and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and blend well. Fold in the extra chocolate chips, if desired. Come on, you know you want to!

Spread half of the batter (about 2 cups) in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool coffee cake in pan on rack.

The ingredients- mostly stuff you probably have on hand.

The streusel ingredients....
...mix them up!
The dry team. Note: These pictures are of a half batch.

The wet team. I broke the yoke, opps!
The bananas and 3 tablespoons of sour cream.
My $5 mixer from the thrift store works just nicely.
Here's the part where Amanda says BAM! Extra chocolate chips!
Ready for the oven!

Fresh out of the oven, yum!
The final product! Phil says my extra chocolate chips make this more like breakfast brownies, but I see nothing wrong with that.


Bloggers love to see comments on their posts and I am no exception. My Aunt told me that she wanted to comment on my last post but couldn't unless she signed up for a google account. I investigated the problem and it is now fixed! So comment away! Even if it is just to say "hi".