Dutch Baby

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Dutch baby is basically a combination of a pancake and a popover. I decided to make it one morning because I wanted pancakes but I was too lazy to make them. With the Dutch baby you use pancake-like batter and stick it in the oven with a bunch of butter and let everything do its magic.

It is important to melt the butter in the pan in the oven as it will also preheat the pan. I used an All-Clad pan as they are oven proof. I tried to use a thick ceramic pie pan previously but the middle didn't cook through fully.

Once done, you can slice it up into pie-like slices and serve with jam, powdered sugar, syrup or anything you like on pancakes.

Dutch Baby
(Serves 3-4)

You Will Need:
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of each of the following: cardamom, coriander, and nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup soy milk, or your milk of choice
1/2 stick of butter
Confectioner's sugar (optional)
An oven-proof pan

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and spices. In a separate bowl whisk eggs until well-blended, add milk and stir until combined. Carefully pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk rapidly until smooth and there are no lumps.
3. Melt butter in the oven-proof pan in the oven (this step accomplishes two things: it preheats the pan and melts the butter). Once the butter is melted and before it starts to sizzle, pour the batter into the pan, give it one whirl with a whisk and put the pan back in the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to 325 and cook 3-5 minutes more, until the sides rise and turn golden brown and the middle is golden.
4. Remove from oven and if desired, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Serve and enjoy.


Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Monday, December 18, 2017

This is a recipe for a Persian-style cucumber and tomato salad that goes well with the recently posted shawarma recipe. You can substitute the lime zest and juice with lemon if you prefer. I like the mint in this recipe; along with the other herbs you can also add fresh cilantro.

Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad
(Serves 4)

You will need:
2 small cucumbers (such as kirby), diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 large tomato or 2 roma tomatoes, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 Italian pepper or cubanelle pepper, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 tbsp fresh mint, minced
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced
Juice of one lime, or to taste
1/4 tsp lime zest
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine cucumber, tomato, pepper, shallot and herbs. Pour lime juice over the vegetables and add lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add olive oil. Serve and enjoy or refrigerate until needed.


Chicken Shawarma and Rice with Tzatziki Sauce

Sunday, December 17, 2017

This is a recipe that was part of a mission to recreate some street food explorations involving shawarmas and food trucks. Shawarma is typically made on a rotisserie-type grill and the meat is grilled for many hours. I don't even have a regular grill, so tried making it in a pan and also tried making it in the oven. Oven-roasted shawarma is probably the closest approximation to the real thing.

The key is to marinate the chicken for a while. I've tried different marinades and a yogurt-based one with just a tad of lemon juice works best, as the fats in the yogurt allow for an emulsion of the rest of the ingredients (if you don't use the yogurt, the oil in the marinade will end up sitting on top of the chicken).

Let the chicken marinate for at least one to two hours, or longer if time permits. Once marinated, roast the chicken in the oven on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Do not crowd the chicken pieces to allow them to crispen a bit. Once done, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve over rice (recipe below), with hummus, pickles, pickled jalapenos, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, or, in a pita.

Chicken Shawarma
(Serves 4-6)

You will need:
2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 hot Hungarian paprika
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice

1. Wash the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl.
2. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and crushed garlic. In a separate bowl add salt and pepper and remaining spices, stir until combined. Mix in the spices into the yogurt mixture and pour over the chicken. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.
3. At this stage you can do one of two things. you can either cook the chicken thighs on a grill until done or roast them. For roasting, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken thighs on a greased foil-lined cookie sheet (don't spread each thigh flat, rather bunch each thigh piece to avoid over-drying) and make sure each thigh piece is about 1-2 inches apart from the other. Roast the chicken until done, about 25-30 minutes until browned and fully cooked but still tender. Let rest for a few minutes before cutting into bite-size pieces.
4. Serve over rice (recipe below) or in a pita with: Tzatziki sauce (recipe below); sliced cucumber, tomato and onion; pickles, green olives and pickled jalapeno slices; hummus; crumbled feta cheese; Sriracha sauce.

Yellow Rice

You will need:
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 small Italian or cubanelle pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch cardamom
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 cloves
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup basmati rice

1. Preheat oil in a sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until fragrant and translucent about 2-3 minutes. Add the pepper and the garlic, and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the pepper is softened, about 3 minutes more. Add the spices. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and let it come to a simmer. Then add the rice. Let the rice come back to a simmer and lower the heat to low. Cook on very low heat, covered, until the  water has evaporated and the rice is cooked through. Fluff with a fork until ready to serve.

Tzatziki Sauce

You will need:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 small seedless Persian cucumber (about 1/4 cup), minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 tbsp fresh mint, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
A dash of coriander
A dash of cumin
A pinch of onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until well-mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


How to Cook Lobster

Sunday, June 25, 2017

We do lobster maybe about once a year, usually around the Fourth of July. Rather than always scrambling to remember the cooking time, for a quick reference we decided to write it down here.


We went to the store and asked the lady behind the seafood counter to keep the two lone lobsters in the tank for us as we went home to drop off the other groceries. When we came back, distracted by something, she asked: "you didn't want those steamed did ya?" We said no.


Jokingly, or maybe not, she said, "good, I would have thought less of you." And then went on to say people usually ask to have them steamed on the spot and she tried to talk them out of it as they would never be as fresh or even perhaps cold when served.

So here is how to cook a live lobster.


You will need a big pot, capable of holding somewhere between 16 and 20 quarts of liquid. Our pot's dimensions are roughly 9.5 inches in height, 11 inches in diameter, holding about 18 quarts of water. It is important for the mouth of the pot to be wide enough for you to easily be able to drop a lobster with its claws spread out. You will also need some decently sized live lobsters. Everything else is simple.

Boiled Lobster
Serves 2

You will need:
Two live 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb lobsters
Sea salt or kosher salt (1 tbsp per quart of water)
Big pot (see note above)
Optional: melted butter and lemon juice for dipping

1. Fill the pot with about 2/3 to 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil (note: the water will take some time to come to a boil, perhaps 30-40 minutes so plan accordingly). Once the water is at a rolling boil, add salt, and wait until the water comes back to a boil.
2. Usually live lobsters will come in a thick paper bag, keep them at the back of the fridge in the bag, flat (making sure it's not completely sealed so they can breathe) as you wait for the water to boil. Once out of the fridge they become active so you will have to act quickly. Unless an experienced lobster boiler, I would recommend keeping the claw bands on (some people recommend removing them, but they are easier to handle with them on).
3. Take lobsters out of the bag and set on counter. Take one lobster by the tail and invert it so that its belly is up (it will move around so be careful not to drop it, but this way of holding them prevents them from trying to get at your hand). Put it in the pot head and claws first. Repeat with second lobster. Wait for the water to come back to a boil.
4. After the water comes back to a boil, boil the lobsters for 6-7 minutes per pound, with roughly three minutes for each additional pound. For 1 1/4 lb lobster 6-7 minutes is ideal. For 1 1/2 lb lobster, cook it for about 7-8 minutes. For a two pound lobster, 9-10 minutes, etc. Note: Do not multiply the minutes based on the number of lobsters you have; the timing will remain the same no matter how many lobsters you have in the pot; base the timing on the average weight of a single lobster.
5. One option is to serve them with some melted butter mixed with lemon juice for dipping. Enjoy.

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