Spice Ninja's Blog

Healthy Indian fusion food made easy.

Roasted quail October 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 1:13 am

My mom’s telling me to eat food that’s easy on the spice for a while. She has her reasons, but I absolutely refuse to give up spices just because I have to lay off the chillies. So, today I made myself a lovely dinner featuring some fresh quail I got at my supermarket, with a version of the ‘Awesomely Easy Potato Appetizer‘, and some green beans. The quail recipe was really simple, but I got a chance to use the wonderfully fragrant herbes de Provence that my friends picked up for me on their honeymoon.

I do have a bit of a rant I’m going to go into about using fresh meat. If you want, you can skip ahead.

So, fresh meat. Loads of people eat meat. We also know, provided we have half a brain, that it comes from some animal, bird or sea faring creature. Those things are flesh and blood and they bleat, moo, poo, eat, sleep and possibly even dream. They also have to die in order for us to be fed. I think that we owe them the respect of not whinging on about how raw meat is ‘icky’. If you don’t have the bollocks (pardon the pun) to touch their meat, you don’t deserve to eat them. Simple as that.So grow a pair, touch it, and appreciate the sacrifice – willing or unwilling.

Anyhow, back to your regularly scheduled recipe.

Roast quail with potatoes and green beans

Roast quail with potatoes and green beans

Ingredients:

  1. 2 fresh whole quail with the tips of the wings and neck cut off. Make sure you clean it of any leftover feathers and whatnot. 2 quail make approximately one person’s entree.
  2. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 tsp herbes de Provence
  4. 1 clove crushed/diced garlic
  5. Salt/Pepper
  6. 1 tsp butter (approx), plus two small wodges.
  7. 2 small bay leaves
  8. 2 small sprigs thyme (optional)

Method:

  1. Clean the quail thoroughly, pat dry with a paper towel
  2. In a bowl, mix olive oil with the herbes de provence, salt, pepper, diced garlic into a sort of wet rub.
  3. With your fingers, rub the mixture all over the birds. Let them sit for at least half an hour. Try to get the mixture between the skin and flesh as well, but remember, quail skin is very thin, so it might tear.
  4. While this is marinating, pre-heat oven to about 400-425 F.
  5. In the body cavity of each, place a wodge of butter, a bay leaf and the thyme. Rub a bit of butter on each of the birds, especially on the breast.
  6. Fold the legs of each bird, and tuck the knees under the wings. You could use kitchen string to truss them, but it’s too much work.
  7. Place them in a roasting pan, making sure they don’t touch.
  8. Roast without a lid for about 40 minutes, basting and turning over once in the middle.
  9. The quails are cooked when the juice runs clear if you pierce the fleshy bit. The skin should get nice and crispy.
  10. After they’re cooked, make sure you let them rest covered with a bit of foil for at least 10 minutes.
 

Toasted almond and apricot bread pudding

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 12:47 am

I love bread puddings. They’re fast, tasty and one of the most lazy-friendly desserts around. And, almost everyone has the ingredients sitting around in their fridge (yes, I know you have stale bread sitting in the bottom shelf there). So I just made it with a bit of a twist.

mmm mmm easy!

Toasted almond and apricot bread pudding

Ingredients:

  1. 8-ish slices of (at least) day-old bread
  2. 2-3 eggs
  3. 2 cups milk
  4. Sugar to taste
  5. 2 tbsp apricot jam
  6. A dollop of butter
  7. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. A handful of sliced almonds

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 375 F.
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and apricot jam together in a casserole dish.
  3. Break up the bread into bite sized chunks, crusts and all.
  4. Submerge the bread into the liquid. Use as much as will comfortably submerge – remember, the bread will soak up a LOT of liquid. Best to leave a little extra liquid in there.
  5. Let sit for about 10 minutes, let the bread do it’s day-old spongy thing.
  6. Cut the butter into tiny bits and sprinkle it all over the top. This will ensure a nice, golden crust.
  7. Sprinkle the almonds over the butter. Or under it. Doesn’t matter either way, just get ’em on there.
  8. Bake for about 25 mins, or until the crust becomes nice and golden. Keep an eye on the almonds, make sure they aren’t burning.
  9. Let cool and enjoy!
 

Experimental Snapper Recipe thing July 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 12:56 am

Okay, today I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that there was a snapper named ‘Dinner’ sitting there, waiting for some action. So this is what I did.

Just so you know, I’m writing this as it cooks, so it could be a tremendous disaster. We shall see.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium sized snapper fish, whole, scaled, gutted, all that good stuff.
  2. 1/4 medium sized red onion, slivered
  3. 1/2 a ripe tomato (or a full small tomato), chopped
  4. 1-2 pieces of artichoke hearts (marinated)
  5. 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  6. 1 clove garlic sliced
  7. 1/2 tsp green chilli paste, or 1 finely chopped green chili (optional) – y’all know how I like my heat
  8. 2/3 tsp chopped up chipotle peppers in adobo (keep about 1 tsp of adobo sauce for later too)
  9. 1/3 lime, sliced with the rind
  10. Few pinches, cumin powder
  11. Salt and Pepper to taste
  12. Parsley and cilantro, chopped
  13. Some olive oil for drizzling
The Before Picture

The Before Picture

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the fish, and slice some slits about an inch apart into the body.
  3. Mix a rough paste of the chipotle pepper, chopped artichoke heart, chopped/paste of chilies, ginger-garlic paste, about half the chopped tomato, some salt and a bit of pepper.
  4. Stuff the paste into the cavity of the fish, and into the slits as best you can, and spread it all over the skin as well. Sprinkle each side with a bit more salt and pepper.
  5. Spread the rest of the chopped tomato, onion, chopped garlic clove, the tsp of adobo sauce onto a baking tray.
  6. Lay the fish in between, across the pan, and lay the lemon slices, parsley and sprinkle the olive oil on top of everything.
  7. Bake open for about 20 minutes.
  8. Broil for another 5-10 minutes, depending on the oven.
  9. Hope for the best.
The After Picture

The After Picture

PS: So it turned out pretty good, so I’ll publish the recipe.

 

Fish and Eggplant Curry June 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 11:49 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Chinatown fish markets are brilliant. They are not places where you can be a sissy about touching fish or assorted slimy things. Stand shoulder to shoulder (or maybe shoulder to head) with little old ladies as they stick their hands into tubs full of live eels as you try not to faint. Then, you pull up your socks and grab a steak or assorted viscera, whatever strikes your fancy and you’re on your way.

Today I tried the fresh grouper. The Grouper fish, a lovely, delicate whitefish has a few bones, but they’re easy enough to deal with. It’s easy enough to cook – you can do a pretty fantastic seared grouper with a basic lemon zest/thyme/salt/pepper dressing and it looks impressive (provided you care enough to crisp up the skin).

Since mom is a-visiting and she’s been kind enough to feed mah belleh during the week, it’s only fair that I <strike>experiment on</strike> cook for her on the weekends. Figured I’d do a simple little coconut fish curry and on a whim, threw in some Japenese eggplant. Here’s how.

Ingredients:

  1. About 1 lb of grouper (or any other) fish – cut into 2 inch chunks
  2. Half a can of regular coconut milk (the ‘lite’ stuff is for sissies)
  3. About half a good-sized Japanese eggplant – sliced evenly
  4. One medium sized onion sliced thin (I like vidalias, but to each their own)
  5. 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1/2 tsp ginger/garlic paste (or 1/4 tsp of each, chopped fine)
  7. 4-5 curry leaves (I like to chiffonade ’em, but you can chuck them in whole too. Eat them though, they’re chock full of good vitaminey things)

Spices:

  1. Salt to taste
  2. 1/4 tsp Red chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it – this dish doesn’t need to burn a hole in your esophagus though)
  3. 1/4 tsp Cumin powder
  4. 1/5 tsp Mustard seeds
  5. 1/4 tsp Tumeric powder
  6. 1/4 tsp Coriander powder
  7. A smidgen of Garam Masala – optional

Method:

  • Sputter the mustard seeds in the heated olive oil.
  • Soften the onions with the ginger/garlic paste – until the onions start to get some color.
  • Add the coconut milk, all the spices and the curry leaves. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the eggplant slices, simmer another 5-7 minutes or until they’re soft. You can half-cover the pot for this step – it’ll speed up the softening. Good idea for when you have a hungry mother poking you in the small of your back.
  • Add the fish chunks, cook for 5-7 minutes, until JUST cooked. DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR FISH YOU BUMS.
  • Serve up with steamed Basmati rice.
Quick enough to satisfy hungry, impatient mothers.

Quick enough to satisfy hungry, impatient mothers.

 

May 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 3:05 pm

Today at the office:

Sam: *munches on granola bar*

Rachel: *looks over longingly* Gnuuuuuhhh

Sam: *hands it over*

Sarah: What’d you do with my cheese?!

Rachel: I’d better start making a shopping list.

 

Tomato Chutney May 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 10:50 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Since chai was the last post – one of the great pleasures of life is to have a steaming, hot cup of chai with some spicy tomato chutney spread over bread/pita/crackers/your fingers. This one’s fairly easy, but you have to have the patience to let the water completely dry from the tomatoes. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Ingredients:

  1. 8 medium tomatoes – as ripe as possible
  2. 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (whole)
  4. 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste – but remember, this is a chutney, so it has to load up on flavour)
  5. 1/2 tsp tumeric powder (haldi)
  6. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  7. A pinch of astafoteida (hing)
  8. About two pinches of sugar
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 8-10 curry leaves.
  11. A pinch of carrom seeds (ajwain) – optional
  12. 1/2 tsp ginger (minced)
  13. 1/2 tsp garlic (minced)
  14. 1-2 dry red chillies (optional)

Method:

Wash/chop the tomatoes to about 1/2 inch pieces. Don’t worry about making ’em look pretty.

Heat up about half the oil in a deep, wide pan. A wok will do, if you have one with a lid. (You need a lid, nothing splotches like tomatoes.) Add the mustard seeds when the oil is hot, but not smoking. Add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and all the spices. Cook everything down on medium heat – till pretty much 95% of the water is gone. Traditionalists usually make this with so much oil that, at this point, the oil starts to bubble out of the tomatoes, instead of the water. I like my waistline where it is, so just trust yourself to dry up as much water as possible, stir it often to make sure it doens’t burn.

In a smaller pot or frypan, heat up the rest of the oil, add the curry leaves and, if you want, 1-2 dry red chillies. When they get heated/sputter, add the mix to the tomatoes, mix well and serve.

Tomatoes FTW!

Tomatoes FTW!

PS: You have not lived until you have had a bread, butter and chutney sandwich. Preferably at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, with a steaming hot beverage.

 

So, Chai May 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 11:15 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Chai is an interesting thing. To some, it’s exotic. To Starbucks, it’s a latte. To me, it’s simply the most comforting of comfort foods.

Where I come from – chai is such an integral part of life that even when I ‘go off caffiene’, giving up chai doens’t even enter the equation. One of my earliest memories is of me dressing up as a tea-picker from the Indian state of Assam. I still remember getting up on stage in front of what looked like the biggest audience ever and announcing in my squeaky little, grade two voice, “I am a TEA picker from Assam. I work in a TEA garden. The TEA I PICK is drunk ALL over the world. Even the QUEEN OF England DRINKS the TEA I pick. So when you HAVE you TEA tomorrow, think of ME!”

I didn’t win. But childhood scars aside, chai (which is simply the word for ‘tea’), does have a certain air of mystery to it. Picture this:

Green, rolling hills. A misty, soft afternoon. Bright specs of red, yellow, orange and blue bobbing in between rows of almost violently emerald green. Women, navigating in between the rows of tea bushes, with baskets down their backs – held up by a rope across their heads. They nimbly pick the freshest baby leaves and throw them overhead, into their baskets. Just the thought is calming.

Chai is so much to so many people. Some of the best chai I’ve ever had was at Calcutta railway station – handed through the train window in little clay pots by small boys – hot, steaming and earthy. I’d take that first sip, and no matter where I was, all the noises and the smells would melt away and the world was just a little safer. I don’t think that feeling ever really goes away. In ancient times, chai wasn’t made simply as a beverage – it was known for its curative properties. In fact, ayurveda still includes tea leaves as part of several of its medications and cures.

I could go on about chai for hours – and everyone knows of its anti-oxidants and the fact that it can pick you up via the greatness that is caffiene. (And, FTR, it’s true that pound for pound, tea has more caffiene than coffee. However, since one uses much less tea per cup than coffee – per cup, your caffiene intake is much lower. Besides, it’s a mellow rise and fall, as opposed to coffee’s spike-and-crash method.)

Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s my version of chai – and you’s be surprised at how great this makes you feel on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Ingredients:

– 1 – 1.5 cups of water
– 1/4 cup of milk – the wholer the better. If you’re using skim/1% milk, I’d also suggest about 1-2 tbsps of 2% evaporated milk for the richness without the fat.
– 1/4 tsp of fresh chopped or dried ginger
– 1 pod cardamom (open it up by pressing between your thumb and the counter to release the yummy black seed things inside)
– Sugar/honey to taste
– 2 cloves
– 1 tsp black tea leaves (You can use a tea bag if you like, but I find that loose leaf teas are of a higher quality overall)
– a pinch of saffron if you’re feeling indulgent

Method:

Bring the water to a boil with the cardamom, cloves, ginger – and let it simmer with the spices for about 5 minutes. Throw in the sweetening agent and the tea leaves. Add the milk (and/or evaporated milk), raise the temperature to just under boiling, and reduce the heat again till it’s just about simmering. Don’t walk away from the stove at this point – the milk will make it boil over if you’re not careful. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, depending on how strong you like it. (Remember, black tea will go slightly bitter if you steep it too long). Turn off the stove and let it sit for another 2-3 minutes. Strain into your cup, and stir in the saffron.

Option #1 – You can also add a vanilla flavour to the water – but I’d recommend using a bit of vanilla pod (use the seeds for something else) instead of vanilla extract.

Option #2 – If you have a bad throat/cold/general fluey misery – try adding a semi-crushed peppercorn to the water as well. I don’t know why, but it really helps.

So good, and good for you!

So good, and good for you!