Monday, April 28, 2014

Methi (Fenugreek) Leaves Crostini

It all started with a trip to the Indian grocery store, where I typically buy okra and curry leaves. I was intrigued by the mehti and decided to try to prepare something slightly different from the South Indian version. So I came up with this tasty and wholesome appetizer that is a fusion of Indian and Mediterranean (Indo-terranian) cuisines. 


Mehti- 1 bunch
1 red onion, chopped
3 garlic gloves (finely chopped)
1 inch piece of ginger (finely chopped)
Urad dahl (1/2 tablespoon)
black mustard seeds (1 tsp)
fenugreek seeds (ground in mortar and pestle)-1/2 tablespoon
cumin seeds (1/2 tablespoon)
mustard leaves (5)
in pinch of sugar
grape tomatoes (about 10, chopped)
garam masala powder (approximately 1 tsp)
the tip of 1 green chili, or red chili to taste (depending on the desired heat level)-optional
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (optional)
oil for sauteing (enough to cover the bottom of a pan)-I use olive oil
and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil to top the crostini
salt and pepper to taste
sliced artisan bread (preferably multi-grain), toasted or grilled 


Separate the methi leaves from the stalk by pulling them away from the stalk with your fingers. Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop them on a cutting board
Heat the oil in  a pan then add mustard seeds, urad dahl, ground fenugreek powder, garam masala powder, and cumin seeds. 
Allow the mixture  to splutter (be careful not to burn it),  and then add green (or red) chili, if some heat is desired, the curry leaves, and onions and saute' until translucent. 
Add the chopped ginger and garlic, and saute' for an additional minute.
Then add the chopped methi leaves, 1 pinch of sugar,  and cook down for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add salt
Pour in a food processor and pulse a few times.
If desired, mix in the yogurt and pulse a few more times until incorporated.
Spoon the mehti mixture on lightly toasted bread slices. To serve warm, bake in the oven for a couple of minutes at 350F. 
Remove from the oven, add freshly ground black pepper, and drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil.

Serve and enjoy.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Seared rib-eye with Vietnamese style reduction and glazed snow-peas

I made this dish on a whim and it turned out delicious.

I had a piece of rib-eye steak in the refrigerator and decided to do something fun with it.

In a small saucer, I made a reduction with sauteed red onions (in grapeseed oil, but you can use vegetable or canola), low sodium soy sauce, Mirin, rice vinegar, fish sauce   a pinch of brown sugar and a small star anise. I did not measure the doses, but I was careful not to use too much of the vinegar and fish sauce. I cooked the mixture down until thick and set aside.

I seasoned each end with Chinese five spice, Himalayan sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
I seared both sides and then sliced on a cutting board, plated with the soy reduction on top, and served with miso and ginger glazed snow-peas, baby green dollops, and onion rosettes.

And voila', flavorful fun on plate.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tiramisu' in a ramekin

This version of tiramisu' is with amaretti instead of ladyfingers, which convey a more complex flavor and texture. Plus the round shape of the amaretti is a perfect fit for ramekins. The dose below is for 6 servings, so you will need 6 ramekins.  


3 eggs, separated
4 tbsp granulated sugar (or caster sugar, preferably)
8 oz of good mascarpone (either a true Italian brand (not just italian sounding) or the fresh mascarpone from Whole Foods
14 amaretti
1 pinch of salt
about 1 tbsp of dark rum (optional but recommended)
good quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
unsweetened powdered chocolate for dusting
freshly made espresso (unsweetened)-enough to soak the amaretti


Using a mixer (either a hand mixer or stand mixer) at high speed, make a sabayon with the egg yolks and sugar and until they form a thick cream

fold in the mascarpone and mix at low speed until smooth and no lumps  (this may take a few minutes but do not increase the speed because the cream will separate)

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites (to which you have added a pinch of salt) until they form soft peaks (note, you won't be using all of the egg whites, probably just half of the yield)

Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone cream and mix in with a spatula until well incorporated.

mix in the rum

chop the chocolate for layering and shred some for dusting on top along with the powdered chocolate (I chopped the chocolate on a cutting board with a kitchen knife, and shredded some with the small hole shredder side of a grater )

Soak the amaretti in the espresso, then  place them  at the bottom of the ramekins (one amaretto per ramekin)
spoon one layer of the mascarpone cream
sprinkle with the chopped chocolate
place another espresso soaked amaretto on top
spoon another layer of mascarpone cream
dust with the shredded chocolate and powdered chocolate
place the ramekin on a tray and cover with clear wrap
refrigerate for a few hours

Serve and enjoy :o)

Fruit Tart (crostata di frutta)

Shortcrust recipes are plentiful, so I am not attempting to reinvent the wheel, but I thought you might find my tips useful.

When making a fruit tart, you can choose from slightly different shortcrust  (fastafrolla)  recipes.  Most American shortcrust recipes use cold water as the binder, whereas the Italian version uses egg yolks, which gives the crust more of a yellow color.  I have also seen recipes with a combination of the two (some water and one egg yolk). If following a sweet shortcrust recipe, I recommend using no more than 1 tablespoon of sugar, otherwise the tart will end up being too sweet.I also prefer to add lemon zest to the dough, which confers an extra level of flavor that complements the fruit topping. For the filling, I either use homemade egg custard (crema pasticcera), or a combination of egg custard and fresh whipped cream (whipped cream, powdered sugar), combined together at a ratio of about 2:1. If your cream is too runny, you can also add a bit of gelatin to it to thicken it. Then top your cream creatively with your favorite fruit, and finish off with gelatin or powdered sugar if you wish.You will be sure to impress your guests. Enjoy!