Monday, January 19, 2009

Three Pie Crust Recipes


This is the pie crust that my mom always makes. If you like a perfect, delicious, flaky crust, this is the crust for you. As far as I'm concerned, no other crust is worth the calories!

3 C flour
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 C shortening
5 TBSP ice water
1 egg
1 tsp vinegar

Sift together flour and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles course corn meal. Beat together ice water, egg, and vinegar. Drizzle over flour mixture. Gently stir all together and shape dough into a ball. Chill at least 15 minutes. Turn out onto floured pastry cloth and roll to fit pie pan.

Yield: Pastry for 2 - 2 crust 8" pies, or 1 - 2 crust and 1 - 1 crust 9 or 10" pies.

Leftover dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to one year. Just thaw before using!


For all you vegans out there...

1-1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C chilled safflower oil
1/4 C ice water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. Add oil and mix well with fork or hands to distribute evenly. Add ice water all at once and mix quickly to form a ball. Roll out between layers of waxed paper.

Yield: Pastry for 1 - 2 crust 8 or 9" pie.


For the days when you're feeling too lazy to roll out a pastry crust.

1-2/3 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C sugar
6 TBSP butter, melted

To make your graham cracker crumbs either throw a bunch of graham crackers in a food processor or put them in a ziploc bag and smush them with a rolling pin. Then mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until well-combined.

Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

Preheat oven to 350 F and pre-bake crust for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool before filling.

Yield: One 9" crust

Carob Tofu Cream Pie

Posted for Eric so that he might impress a girl with his "tofu robotics"...(!)

2 lb soft or medium tofu
1/2 C safflower oil
1/3 C honey
2/3 C roasted carob powder OR cocoa powder
2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp instant coffee
2/3 C hot water

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl mash tofu and mix with oil, honey, carob or cocoa, corn starch, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Dissolve coffee in hot water and mix with tofu mixture. Blend in blender until smooth (you might have to do this in two batches). Pour into unbaked 9" pie crust and bake for 35 minutes or until crust is done and filling has jelled.

NOTE - This would be totally delicious with any of these add ins: a couple TBSP peanut butter, a couple drops peppermint extract, a shot of frangelico or amaretto, etc...or just leave it as it and top with fresh whipped cream and raspberries! Yum!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Basic Roti

Tasty Indian flatbreads that’re actually really easy! This recipe will make about 10 – 15 rotis.

2 cups atta (coarsely ground whole wheat flour . . . but I think it might be ok with regular wheat flour too)
About 1 ½ tbs oil
1 tsp salt
A few tablespoons of water
More oil, for cooking

Combine flour, oil, and salt. Add water little by little, kneading until the dough becomes a soft, pliable (but not sticky) ball. Cover it tightly and set it aside for one hour.

After an hour, knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes. Unlike yeast breads, more kneading will actually make this softer! Break off 1-inch pieces and roll into little balls with your hands. With a rolling pin, roll them into very thin little flatbreads. It’s good to find a friend for this part, so one person can roll while the other can fry!

Heat a nonstick pan, and plop a rolled-out roti onto it. Holding a balled-up dishcloth on your hands (so you don’t burn your fingers!), keep turning the roti (as in, spinning it around in a little circle, not flipping it) for the first 30 seconds, so the whole surface cooks evenly. Then, still holding the dishcloth, press down on the edges of the roti while continuing to rotate it in the pan – this makes the middle puff up (so cool!). Continue cooking this way for about a minute, then flip the roti. Spread about ¼ tsp of oil on the cooked side, then flip again and do the same on the other. Flip back and forth till both sides are golden brown.

Hyderabadi-style omelettes

I've only eaten this made with egg, onion, and spices, but I bet it would also be seriously tasty with some chopped tomato and red pepper tossed in. Could potentially be served with aloo gadda (potato fry) for a spicy brunch :)

2 eggs
2 tbs chopped onions
1tsp ginger-garlic paste
½ tsp chili powder, or to taste
1 tsp meat masala
¼ tsp turmeric
Pinch of salt
about 2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
Splash of milk

Sauté onions in oil till translucent. While they're cooking, whisk all other ingredients together in a small bowl. Add to pan and cook as you would an omelette, or scrambled eggs.

Aloo Gadda (potato fry)

A little spicy, a little salty, a little crispy. This would be great served at brunch as a fan-tabulous way to kick-start a Sunday morning!

2 large potatoes, peeled, boiled (make sure they don’t get too soft, though!!), and cut into small bite-sized cubes. Should make about 2 cups of potato cubes . . .
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp moong dal
2-3 red chilis, broken into 1-inch pieces
A handful of peanuts (optional)
½ tsp turmeric
10 curry leaves
Pinch of salt
1 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp meat masala

Heat 2 tbs of oil in a pan. To test the temperature, toss a few mustard seeds into the oil; if they splutter immediately, it’s hot enough. Add mustard seeds, cumin, dal, chilis, and peanuts and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, and fry for about 3-5 minutes. Add turmeric and curry leaves; fry for about one more minute. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (about ½ - 1 tsp), and then add about ¼ cup water. Continue frying for another 5 minutes (so the water evaporates) before adding chili powder and meat masala . . . then just let it cook till it’s as crispy as you want it, adding extra oil along the way if needed.

Bendakai/Ladyfinger/Okra Curry

So I know that okra totally gets a bad rap above the Mason-Dixon line . . . but it is SO SO good in this curry. Also, in India it’s called “ladyfinger,” which I think is kind of cute.

About 1 ½ cups okra, chopped into ½ inch pieces.
½ of 1 small onion
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon moong dal
¼ teaspoon turmeric
10 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (literally, equal amounts of ginger and garlic mashed together with a bit of salt added as a preservative. Supposedly it’ll keep in the fridge for a month, and you could totally use it in stir-fries as well . . . )
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried coconut
Pinch of salt
½ tsp meat masala (a sweeter garam masala with cinnamon and cloves. You can buy it pre-made . . . Everest and MTR are good brands that you should be able to find in Indian stores in the U.S.)

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan; add the cumin, mustard seeds, and dal and cook for about 30 seconds. Add turmeric and stir. Toss in onions, then add about ½ cup water; let cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add curry leaves, ginger-garlic paste, chili, coconut, and salt and cook for about 5 more minutes, adding more water if the mixture starts to dry up; it should be somewhat watery and gravy-like. Add okra and simmer ‘till it’s tender; sprinkle on meat masala and serve with yogurt.

Alisentaloo (black-eyed peas)

In case you have some leftover black-eyed peas after cooking up a pot of Hoppin’ John, you can use them to make this quick and delicious protein-filled bhaji (snack). I’m also betting you could use canned beans, and whip this up in about 5 minutes!

1 ½ cups black-eyed peas that’ve been soaked overnight and then boiled until soft, but not mushy. You can also substitute chickpeas, regular ol’ peas, or kidney beans.
1 tsp moong dal
1 tsp urad dal
10 curry leaves
3-4 dried red chilis (broken into 1-inch pieces)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
2 tbs peanuts
1 tbs grated fresh coconut (you can get this frozen, but I’m guessing it would be ok with dried coconut, too. It’s also good without coconut at all, but it adds an extra layer of yumminess )
1 lime

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan; toss in the dals, curry leaves, chilis, mustard seeds, cumin and peanuts and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the peas and cook for about 5 minutes, until they’re heated through. Toss in the coconut during the last 30 seconds or so.

Squeeze lime juice over the top and serve.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chocolate Parathas

Um, yes.

My friend Anshuman invented these last weekend, and they were beyond fan-tabulous served with channa dal (yellow lentils simmered with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and meat masala). Sound like the strangest combination, I know, but he was convinced that the sweetness and spiciness would be brilliant together, and it was. My friend Martha and I agreed that this kind of crazy combination can only work in India.

Whole wheat flour
Mashed potatoes (no spices added)
Chocolate (he used Cadbury milk chocolate, but I bet it would also be yummy with dark)

For the dough:
Place a cup or two of whole wheat flour in a bowl along with a healthy dash of cinnamon. Add water in small amounts, kneading with hands, until dough is a soft and manageable ball – about 10-15 minutes. It should smell deliciously cinnamon-y. Let it rest for about an hour.

For the filling:

Melt the chocolate, and mix with the mashed potatoes. Proportions are up to you. The ones he made weren’t very sweet; the potatoes turned a dark chocolate-y brown, but the taste carried more of a hint of sweetness than an overwhelming rush of chocolate.

From here, you can basically follow the directions for cooking Aloo Parathas (a few recipes down), with the following changes:

When you fill the parathas, add about a teaspoon of honey before closing up the little dough balls and rolling them out.

When frying them, brush the tops with butter (he used ghee, but I think butter should be fine), and dab tiny pats of butter around the pan so they melt and run into the edges of the paratha.

Martha and I agreed that you could also up the chocolate level and top them with ice cream and strawberries to make an amazing dessert. Also, she gets MAJOR points for making a salad, with LETTUCE, that we ate with this meal without getting sick! A-mazingness!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Buttermilk Cornbread

Delicious crispy buttery cornbread! Fast and easy to make and so yummy with hot soup or stew. This recipe is my own take on a recipe I found on

1/2 C butter
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C cornmeal
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 ear corn, boiled and kernels cut from cob

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a cast iron skillet and put it into the oven to get nice and hot.

In a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Quickly, add each egg and whisk well. Measure out your buttermilk and whisk the baking soda directly into the milk. Add to the egg mixture and mix. Add in cornmeal, flour, and salt, and mix just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the corn kernels.

Remove the skillet from the oven and quickly spread the batter into the pan. Place back in the hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Chris proclaimed this the best cornbread he's ever there you go.

Vegetarian Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John, a Southern tradition introduced to me last week by my friend Ryan, is a savory black eyed pea stew that is supposed to bring the eater health and wealth in the new year. This version, made without the traditional ham and with a few additions of my own, was full of spice and super tasty when served with a warm slice of homemade cornbread (recipe to follow)! This recipe makes a huge pot so either serve your whole neighborhood or plan to eat this for a solid week.

1 pound black eyed peas, soaked overnight
8 C water
1 medium onion, halved
2 carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a large soup pot, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring once after half an hour. (Careful not to over mix or your beans will disintegrate!) Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the chunks of vegetable and the bay leaves and discard.

1/2 C brown rice
1 1/4 C water
1/2 tsp salt

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add rice and salt, cover, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 45 minutes.

2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in a small skillet and add all vegetables. Saute until tender and fragrant. Add vegetables and cooked rice to the pot of beans and mix gently.

1 can whole peeled tomatoes in sauce
1/2 pound turnip greens (or collards), chopped
4 scallions, whites and greens chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
salt to taste

Roughly chop tomatoes and add (with juice!) to the beans. Add greens, scallions, and all spices. Stir gently and let simmer for five minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed.

Enjoy with a big buttery slice of cornbread!