Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taste & Create: Gobi Masala/Cauliflower Curry

***Taste & Create is a fabulous monthly blog event in which participants are randomly paired off to choose and prepare a dish from their partner's blog. If you'd like to join us, please email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com by the 8th of the month!! *** 


This month I was paired with PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds.  I love being paired with her, because she cooks delicious authentic Indian dishes, and her directions are quite easy to follow, once you figure out all the ingredients!  ;-)  Her blog is vegetarian, which is a welcome change from our usual fare.

Usually it takes me a while to choose which dish to prepare, but not this time.  This time I had just purchased an entire cauliflower, when I happened across this masala recipe!  It looked so good, and I had most of the spices, so I went for it.  I forgot that you can substitute basil for curry leaves, and used parsley instead.  Still good~

It's important with this dish to have your ingredients prepped before you start cooking, so everything is ready to toss in at the proper time.  Aside from that, it's pretty easy, and delicious!

Although PJ recommends serving with roti, we used tortillas because we always have them on hand.  Follow the link below for PJ's helpful step-by-step photos and many more yummy vegetarian recipes!

Serves 4-6
1 medium cauliflower
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon fennel (anise) seeds
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
a few curry leaves (I used flat Italian parsley) 
1 tomato, chopped (I forgot the tomato, so I added 1 can diced tomato, drained)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chili powder (I reduced to 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek) or celery leaves (I didn't have either of these, so I didn't add anything) 

Break cauliflower into florets in a large bowl.  Let it rest in hot water .Add a tablespoon of salt to that water and keep aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a pan and add fennel seeds.  When the fennel seeds sizzle, add onion, garlic, ginger, and a few curry leaves to the pan.  Saute until the onions turn soft.

Add 1 chopped tomato and cook till the tomato is mushy. Add garam masala, red chili powder, coriander, turmeric, and salt to taste.  Mix well. 

Discard the water that has the cauliflower and add the florets to the pan.  Mix well and add 1 cup of water. Cover and cook till the florets are soft but not mushy.  Stir a couple of times in between to prevent burning the florets and masala, add more water if needed.

When the cauliflower is cooked add 1 tablespoon kasuri methi.  Mix well and simmer over low heat for a few minutes. 

Serve with rice and tortillas.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fried Chicken Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

I couldn't resist this recipe, which comes from my FOOD & WINE Annual Cookbook 2012.  It's a recipe from Andrew Zimmern, whose recipes I had not tried...until now.  And now, I will be trying MORE of them!  We've already had these tacos twice since Spring, and our neighbors love them too!

I learned to debone chicken thighs, not as hard as it may seem, as the recipe calls for boneless, skin ON thighs.  Believe me, you want the skin on, because it is delicious.

The fresh salsa is delicious and easy to make.  Our addition of a little extra squeeze of lime juice sends these tacos over the top. 

While Andrew serves his with corn tortillas, our family prefers flour, so that's what we use.  I'll just say "tortillas" down below and you decide for yourself!

Fried Chicken Tacos
Total:  35 minutes active plus 2 hours marinating
Serves 4

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (divided)
Kosher salt
4 large boneless chicken thighs with skin (about 5 ounces each), pounded 1/3 inch thick

1/2 pound tomatillos—husked and quartered
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 serrano chiles or 1 large jalapeƱo with seeds, chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

Warm tortillas & lime wedges, for serving

In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the lime juice with 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the chicken thighs and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a food processor, combine the tomatillos, garlic, serranos, onion and cilantro and process to a coarse puree. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and stir in the avocado and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with the pepper, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

In a large skillet, heat 1/3 inch of oil until shimmering. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Fry the chicken over moderately high heat until well-browned and crisp, about 3 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

While chicken is still hot, cut the chicken into thin strips and serve with the tomatillo salsa, warm tortillas and lime wedges.  And Coronas, of course!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Greek Stuffed Burgers

In an effort to connect with more bloggers, last year I asked to join the Secret Recipe Club.  I was finally accepted in June (9 months later!) and here we are.

The premise of the Club is quite similar to my FAVORITE blog event, Taste & Create, in that participants are assigned a blog from which to prepare a recipe.  The main difference is that this one is a "secret."

In Taste & Create, participants are partners, fully aware of who is paired with whom, and tasked with creating recipes from each other's blogs.  This has the benefit of being able to communicate and get to know your partner in advance of making the recipe, and also you can directly ask your partner questions about methods or ingredients.  We've formed quite a tight-knit community this way, and lasting friendships.

By contrast, The Secret Recipe Club is a secret assignment, where you are set off into the blog alone, and no one else is supposed to know.  Someone else all together gets to peruse your blog.  We'll all find out who had which blog on the same day and time, if it all comes together.  There are so many different members, it makes me wonder about feeling part of any sort of community at all...Since this is my very first month of participation in this club, I will let you know later how that goes.

If any of you would like to join either blog event, please follow the links above.  I think Secret Recipe Club still has a waiting list.  For Taste & Create, you will be welcomed immediately with open arms, and to sign up you can actually just leave me a comment or even email me at cowgirlmin07[at]gmail[dot]com.

Without further ado, my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month was:

Angela's Kitchen is Gluten Free and Dairy Free, in case any of you require some recipes like that.

After some debating over Angela's Fish TacosSteak and Potato Salad (still a contender for a later date), or one of her many recipes for the slow cooker, I ultimately chose one of her three Stuffed Burgers:  Greek Stuffed Burgers.  And I actually had absolutely every ingredient in my pantry, except for the beef!  (which doesn't make much sense, living on a ranch, but there you go)  Make sure you check out her other burger variations as well, there is bound to be one that calls your name!  We may end up trying every one...


These burgers are soooo flavorful!  We had a little debate about what to put on the burgers, and I opted for only mayonnaise.  As luck would have it, we were out of lettuce on the night we made them, otherwise I would have used some.  My husband also thought feta in the filling would have been good, and I think we'll try that next time.  (I also had an issue with my husband's choice of bun, but beggars can't be choosers when someone else goes to the store for you!)

We made our burgers bigger, because after dividing the meat into 16 pieces, we couldn't fathom putting 2 tablespoons of filling on each minuscule patty--it just wouldn't fit, and the patties looked so so small.  We combined the 16 pieces into 8, then felt like there was enough meat to support the filling.  We ended up with four stuffed burgers...what can I say, as cattle ranchers, we like a big burger!  ;-)
Greek Stuffed Burgers 
Adapted from Angela's Kitchen
Serves 8 (or 4 cattle ranchers)

2 pounds ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork (or a mixture)
1 clove minced garlic   (I used 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper  (I omitted this)

Greek filling:
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar (I forgot to add this)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh).

Gently mix garlic and pepper into meat.  Divide meat into 16 pieces.  Flatten 8 portions of meat into thin patties.  Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each patty.  Flatten the 8 remaining pieces into thin patties, and carefully place each patty on top of the patty with the filling.  Seal the edges of the patties, sealing the filling into the patty.

Grill over low heat until done, about 20 minutes for our burgers!

Secret Recipe Club

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rustic Cherry Apricot Galette

So I had glanced at Tamy's Apricot Cherry Galette when it was posted, enough to know it looked good, then my computer crashed and I had to put it away.

Then I got a text from a friend, saying that we were having a surprise going-away party for one of my cousins the very next morning, and we were supposed to bring something to share for breakfast.  I am in the middle (still) of processing fresh cherries and apricots, so my mind wandered back to the Galette.  I also debated making another Rustic Cherry Tart, but at that point it was already 9:pm and I was tired.  As much as I love that homemade almond paste, I just didn't feel up to it.  Breakfast was scheduled for 7:am, so I had to make something quick, shower and go to bed!

I grabbed my last sheet of puff pastry out of the freezer and thawed it on parchment paper.  (should have used a bit of flour).  I had all the ingredients except cherries for another Sweet Cherry Pie already in a bowl, just waiting to be mixed up and tossed in the freezer.  I decided rather than start a whole new recipe, I'd just improvise.

Here is my delicious Rustic Cherry Apricot Galette.  It was a hit with everyone at my cousin's party!

poorly lit nighttime shot... 
you can see the uneven "rustic" edges

and the remains after breakfast!

Rustic Cherry Apricot Galette
Serves 8-10

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

3 cups pitted fresh cherries
about 12 apricots, cut in 8ths or roughly chopped (less if they're big, you want over 4 cups of fruit total)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling

Place pastry sheet on lightly floured parchment on a sheet pan.  When thawed, use a rolling pin to roll it a bit bigger.  Poke holes in the entire crust with a fork.

Gently stir together the cherries, apricots, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract in a large bowl until well combined.  Set aside.

Mix egg yolk and cream, brush about half of the mixture on the inner part of the pastry sheet, leaving about a two-inch border with no egg wash.  Reserve the rest of mixture.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cherries and apricots to the center of the pastry sheet.  Spread them out, leaving a two-inch border and mounding slightly in the center. Use a tablespoon to remove any liquid that seeps out.

Fold the edges of the pastry over the fruit, gently squeezing the edges together so they stay.  As you work, remove liquid with the tablespoon.  This is kind of messy...but work your way around the entire pastry sheet.  The edges will not be even, and that's okay!  That is why it's called "rustic." Just fold the edges up and over the fruit, snuggling around the fruit.

Place galette in the refrigerator to chill while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

When the oven is heated, brush the pastry with the remaining egg wash.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle generously with sugar, and bake for about 10 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown.  Some of the juices may leak out, and that's okay too.

I chilled my galette in the fridge overnight, then cut it with a pizza cutter to serve.  You could definitely eat it while it's warm, but I'd let it sit 10 or 15 minutes out of the oven before slicing.

Friday, July 13, 2012


All of Min's recent activities with canning cherries and apricots reminded me of this recipe which is one of my favorites!

Pie Dough Ingredients*
For a 9-inch crust
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice water
Filling Ingredients**
For one 9-inch galette
  • 3/4 pound fresh apricots, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 pound fresh cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar + more for sprinkling
  • Juice of half a lemon
Ingredients for Assembly
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Cut butter into small cubes and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. 
  • Add butter and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal. 
  • Gradually add ice water and pulse until the dough forms a coarse meal. 
  • Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead just to incorporate dry ingredients. 
  • Flatten into a circle; wrap individually in plastic. 
  • Refrigerate dough for at least an hour. 
  • Remove dough from refrigerator; place on floured work surface. 
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rough 11-inch circle. 
  • Trim the edges to a clean circle with a pairing knife. 
  • Transfer the circle to a baking sheet or pizza pan lined with parchment paper. 
  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and spread on the bottom of the dough. 
  • Toss apricots and cherries with the rest of the cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice. 
  • Arrange the fruit on the bottom of the dough, leaving 2 inches of dough left outside. 
  • Fold up and pleat the dough over the top of the fruit, leaving the center uncovered. 
  • Lightly brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle both the dough and the fruit with 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar. 
  • Place the Galette in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. 
  • Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack immediately. 
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
*If you are in a huge hurry, Pillsbury from the dairy case can be substituted.
**1 can Comstock cherries can be substituted.  Just add apricots!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sweet Cherry Pie

I totally knew you could make a delicious pie with sweet cherries!  After picking an entire tree-worth of cherries, making Cherry Jam and Rustic Cherry Tarts and assisting the kids with a cherry stand (packaging about 90 pounds of cherries for sale!), we still had a ton of cherries left!  And I wanted pie.

I googled and googled, and finally decided on a pie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who said "Whoever said you can’t make a good cherry pie with sweet cherries was lying."  You bet they were!

I ended up making a couple changes, mainly because I already have a perfect crust recipe from Aunt Becky.  For some reason I'm opposed to using a whole egg on top of pie, although I have no qualms about using an egg YOLK.  Go here for the original recipe, below is my adaptation.  And a deliciously perfect one at that!

Number One pitted the cherries for this pie (he needs practice, because he found a pit in his piece of pie!)  My boys helped when I was putting the pie together, H-Bomb suggesting the shape of the vents to be reminiscent of "cartoon pies."  I used a different crimping technique, this one made with a spoon, which H-Bomb said was totally a cartoon pie, and Sawed Off said, "YEAH IT IS!"  The boys were happy.  And everyone was really happy when it was time for dessert!

I also have three or four batches of this pie filling in the freezer, waiting for a time after cherry season is long gone, when I JUST HAVE TO HAVE a cherry pie.  That time will come.

Sweet Cherry Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dough for a double-crust pie  (you'll need to double the recipe)
4 cups pitted fresh cherries
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream

 Coarse sugar, for decoration

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Gently stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract in a large bowl.

Roll out half of chilled dough on a floured work surface.  Gently place it in 9-inch pie pan, trim edges to about a half-inch overhang.

Spoon filling into pie crust.  Dot the filling with cold butter.

Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface, drape it over the filling.  Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edge decoratively. Brush the egg wash over over pie crust, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Cut slits in the crust with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. and bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool on a rack as long as you can before you dig in!


Incidentally, after hours of my cousin and I pitting a ton of cherries with a hand pitter, one of my friends let me borrow her old "automatic" cherry pitter.  OMG what a difference.  It was so fast, I pitted a pound of cherries in 1 minute, 5 seconds, including a hopper reload!  I searched and found this one which is remarkably similar to my friend's West German-made beauty.  If you have a cherry tree or just like to make cherry pie, you need one of these!  NEED. 

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