Saturday, May 19, 2012

Invited to Aarti's Party

A few months ago I was watching Aarti's Party on food network.  She was making this meal of meatballs that she cooked in coconut milk with a bunch of seasonings and it looked DELISH.  That episode is what made me want to learn to cook Indian food.  So, with the time that passed since then, I decided tonight I would make it, and let me tell you what, I will be making this dish time and time again.  I did, however change some things up of which will be reflected in the overall recipe below!  Give it a try.  It's well worth it.



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green serrano chile, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt


  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 6 curry leaves (dried)
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced 
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1 14oz can petite diced tomatos (slightly drained)
  • 1 (14-ounce can) coconut cream 
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about half a lime) 
  • Serving suggestions: Rice, Indian bread, such as naan or chapatti or spaghetti


For the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, chile, ginger, parsley and 1 teaspoon salt together using your hands until just combined. (Don't mix any more than this or you'll end up with tough meatballs!) Make 16 balls like this: divide the mixture in half, and then in half again. Take each quarter and divide it into 4 small portions. Roll each portion between your palms until smooth. Set aside and repeat for all 16 meatballs

For the curry: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the coconut oil until nearly smoking. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves, covering the pan with a lid so you don't get popping seeds all over you.

When the spluttering subsides, add the shallots, garlic, onion and ginger and cook until golden brown. Then add the ground coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir, and cook 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the coconut cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the meatballs and asparagus. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

To finish, add the lime juice. Shake the pan gently to mix them in, and then taste for seasoning. Serve over rice, with Indian bread (naan or chapati) or over spaghetti!

***P.s. I was able to find the coconut cream, fenugreek seeds, and dried curry leaves at a local Indian marke.  The seeds and leaves pretty much go in most Indian recipes***

 Big Carl had a new adventure...

Grade: 7/7+

This wine seems to have a fuller body but not over whelming.  Was a little similar to a Chardonnay, except without the oaky tones, and was much more tasty,   Had muted fruit flavors.  Easy to drink and very easy on the wallot at only $9.99.  Perfect for a spring night and a bonfire.  "yo-ho-ho and a bottle of yum"!  Will be buying more of this!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

And this is why Big Carl and I are besties :)

I truly hate to see the bottom of a bottle, however it's fun getting there!
Over the past few months, Big Carl and I have had a few wonderful evenings together.  Of them, these are the most noteworthy (that I haven't yet mentioned):

Malbec- 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
GRADE: 8+/9-

This seemed to be a very very very complex wine.  In fact, I believe it is the most complex wine I've had to date.  It really set itself apart from all other Malbec I've had, thinking that most Malbec is the same.  This one blew my mind socks off!  First off, it really needs to be airated.  Breathing life into it will make it dance in your nose and on your tongue.  It has a wonderful bouquet of chocolate and coffee/leather and cigars.  I've often read descriptions of these but had yet to actually experience it.  It was oddly pleasant :)  On the palate, I tasted cocoa with cherry and blackberry.  It was VERY well balanced considering how complex it was and had a GREAT finish.  In a way, it kind of made me think of an older gentleman sitting up in his dimly lit office with wall to wall mahogany and a studded leather smoking chair.  With this wine, it paired perfectly with soft white cheese (laughing cow) and toasted almonds.  This is one of those wines where you can just close your eyes, and go "mmmm".  Every sip to be had as it's own character!

Red Velvet- 2009

California Vineyards
Grade: 7 (only because of the description below)

I've had this wine before, however, this time it was truly note worthy due in part to what it was paired with.  On the back label, it states that it pairs well with bacon cheeseburgers.  The first time I drank this, I read that and thought "hmm, that sounds really bizarre".  Well, I did it.  I paired it with a bacon cheeseburger and let me tell you was like angels were singing in my mouth!  I decanted this wine, and by doing so and pairing with the bacon cheeseburger, it really took on a new persona from what I previously experienced.  This time, it was surprisingly decedent.  Decanting brought out all sorts of new flavors: light spice, vanilla & oak, current and blackberry (maybe even a little fig in there).  Was even nice and creamy..."velvety".

Bordeaux Blanc

Grand Vin- 2010
GRADE: 6/6+ (being generous)

I was actually a little disappointed with this one.  I've grown quite fond of Bordeaux Blanc, however this one was kind of a lackluster! Bouquet really seemed to be missing, with the exception of a VERY light floral.  Palate was also bland.  It did have a slight buttery crispness with went well with the Chicken Korma I paired it with.  Also had a little floral and pear.  I was really left looking for more, but with each sip, it was never there.  The acidity was nice though because it cut through the richness of the Indian cuisine I prepared.  I may try again in hopes to regain my faith in Bordeaux Blanc.


Reserva- 2007
Mendoza, Argentina

Wine Spectator gave this gem a score of 90pts, which is about what I would give it too.  It had the typical malbec notes of blackberry and cherry with just the right amount of spice.  It really was DELICIOUS.  It wasnt too oaky and well balanced with wonderful tannins.  This was even excellent the next day after leaving it in the decanter.  Perfect for lunchtime...or anytime...

Tempranillo Garnacha- Old Vine

Navarra- 2008
GRADE: 6+/7-

I found this devilish angel by accident.  I was searching for something that I hadn't had before and noticed out of the corner of my eye "Garnacha".  I LLLLOVE garnacha.  Then I saw that it was blended with Tempranillo, of which I had in a restaurant about a year ago or so.  The price was lperfect at $8.99, so this angel became adopted!  52% Tempranillo and 48% Garnacha.  It's pleasantly dry and fruity.  Has a light-medium body and lightly oaked.  Has hints of spice and vanilla with a slight earthy punch.  I paired this wine with a pork loin in a red sauce and mashed potatoes and celery root.  I will buy this again as an inexpensive go to wine :)  Be aware:  Cork was a dandy to remove.  Luckly, with a little expertise

Reserva- 2006
Rioja, Spain
GRADE: 7+/8-

This was ANOTHER delicious Tempranillo.  It was a little on the pricey side, but well worth the money!  I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Had a light-medium body with a perfect finish.  Fruity and spicy with a light oak. The color was stunningly beautiful.  There is a reason why the Spaniards are at the top of the Hispanic hierarchy!  This bottle proves it

Sauvignon Blanc
GRADE: 8+/9-

This was much better than I remember.  However, last time I had a 2008.  This vintage was sooo light and crisp I couldn't believe it.  Had a little floral with pineapple and pear.  First taste I swore it was a pinot grigio!  Previously, with the 2008, it had a spicey bite to it that was rather  distracting.  This time that "bite" was missing and I seriously couldn't stop drinking it!  Started off chilled and as it began to warm, the flavors EXPLODED in my mouth with a nice flavor concentrated finish!  If I keep getting tthis kind of flavor from this wine, it will be ETERNALLY stocked in my wine rack!  LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.....Can't wait to have this again over the summer.

Monday, January 30, 2012

End of day love affair

Today is the start of a new week.  Over the course of this past weekend, I was on call with the hospital and ended up working approx 22 hours- PURE exhaustion.  So, today I carefully brought out Big Carl and told him we're going on a evening love affair.  He graciously agreed:

Albarino 2009
Bodegas: Montecillo

Grade: 7+/8-
I am pleasantly surprised by this wine.  I had an Albarino once in the past and have been searching locally for one.  Stopped at the local grocer and found this little treasure of gold!  With a beautiful golden rod color, it has a wonderful pear and floral bouquet with a touch of mineral.  It has a rather quick front with a beautiful and surprisingly long and clean finish.  The finish is where you can really notice the pear and the touch of mineral, of which was strangely enjoyable.  Even noticed a bit of citrus. In a way it reminds me of a cross between an pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc.  Has similar aspects, but truly is in it's own league.  It's crisp, refreshing, and overall delightful.  At only $13 a bottle, I will be going towards this again.  What can I say?  Spain has it going on :)...OE LAY...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cardamom, my NEW best friend

I've been wanting to cook Indian (dots) food for quite some time now.  I received an Indian cookbook for Christmas and FINALLY decided to cook from it.  All I can say is WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE????  Devan was having a long hard, cold day at work, so I thought a nice home made meal was in order, and what better than something Ive been longing to cook?  I drove all over town searching for my ingredients, using spices Ive never used before.  Also, can we say fresh ginger-root?  By the times the meal was complete, my eyes burned, my stress was through the roof, but the house was filled with the sweet and heavenly aroma of Indian cuisine :)  All served with a nice tall glass of lightly chilled Bordeaux Blanc.

Chicken Korma
1.5 lbs chicken- boneless/skinless breast
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, roughly chopped
1 tbl. oil olive oil
3 green cardamom pods
1 small/med onion, chopped fine
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. plain low fat yogurt
rice to serve

1. using a sharp knife, remove any visible fat from the chicken breast portions and cut the meat into 1 inch cubes.
2. put the garlic and ginger into a food processor or blender with 2 tbl. of water and process to a smooth, creamy paste.
3. heat the oil in a large heavy pan and cook the chicken cubes for 8-10 minutes, until browned on all sides.  Remove the chicken cubes with a slotted spoon and set aside.
4. add the cardamom and onions to the pan and cook aprox. 5 min over med/med high heat till begin to get tender.
5. stir in the garlic and ginger paste, cumin, and salt and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes.
6. add half the yogurt, stirring in a tbl. at a time to prevent curdling.  Once all has been incorporated, cook over low heat until it has all been absorbed.
7. return the chicken to the pan.  cover and simmer over a low heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
8. add the remaining yogurt and simmer for another 5 minutes.
9. serve over your favorite rice

***NOTE*** I couldnt find cardamom pods, so I just used approx 1 tsp of ground.

Masala Beans with Fenugreek
1 small onion
1tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic, crushed
1/4 ground tumeric
1 tsp. salt
2 tbl. olive oil
1 tomato, quartered (roma works well)
1 1/2 c. green beans, blanched
1 bunch fresh fenugreek leaves, stems discarded
4 tbl. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbl. lemon juice

1. roughly chop the onion, Mix together the cumin and coriander, sesame seeds, chili powder, garlic, tumeric, and salt.
2. put the chopped onion and spice mixture into a food processor or blender, and process for 30-45 seconds until you have a rough paste.
3. in a karahi, wok, or large pan, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the spice paste for about 5 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.
4. add the tomato quarters, beans, fresh fenugreek and chopped cilantro to the pan
5. stir fry the contents of the pan for about 5 min, then sprinkle in the lemon juice and serve.

***NOTE***: instead of fresh fenugreek, you can also use 1 tbl. dried.  Fenugreek is readily available from Indian stores and markets.  Also, the term "MASALA" refers to the blending of many spices to create a unique taste.  Households will traditionally make their own blends.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Potato soup...from scratch...from what I could find...

Devan was working hard yesterday in the snow and the cold!  So what am I to do?  Surprise him with some hot home made soup.  Didn't really have a lot in the fridge or cupboard to work with, but I saw a bag of potatos.  EUREKA!!!  POTATO SOUP!!!  Here is what I came up with.  I wrote everything down afterwards so I'm really hoping I didn't forget anything.

6 med potatos- cubed
2 stalks chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 chopped shallot
2 cloves minced garlic
16 oz. chicken stock (approx)
1 c. milk
1/2 container of herbal boursin cheese (I think most containers are about 5 or 6 oz)
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. ground sage
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
3 tbl. butter
1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tbl. olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a pan over med/high heat.  Add the celery and onion.  Cook 1-2 min so they begin to look translucent. Add the shallot and garlic and cook another 1-2 min.  Add in the potato and stir to coat- about another 1-2 min.  Pour in the chicken stock, just enough to cover the potatos, and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook till the potatos are tender.
2.  IN a second pan, once the potatos are almost done, make a rue with the butter and flour.  Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the flour stirring constantly.  Cook 1-2 min to remove the "flour" taste and to ensure it is mixed well.  Add the Boursin cheese and mix well with the rue stirring constantly.  Once the cheese begins to melt, add in the milk.  Continuing to stir, add in the tarragon, sage and rosemary.  Once the mixture has turned thick and smooth, add to the pot with the potatos (they should be tender by now),  Stir all together and let cook another couple of minutes.
3.  Laddle out approx. half the soup into a food processor and purree till smooth.  Add back to the pot and stir in.  Add salt and pepper to taste

***NOTE*** If the end result is too thick, add a little more milk until the desired thickness is obtained