Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Samosa Experiment

I cannot now say enough how much I love samosas. They're another Indian favorite of mine, which consist of a pastry filled with a potato, pea, and spices mixture. They're then folded up, which is actually quite difficult to do at first, and traditionally fried until golden brown. Again my very good friend introduced me to these. In college they would be in her freezer and we would pull a couple out, reheat them, and enjoy them as a delicious midnight snack.

Right away I should say that my samosas were in no way perfect and they're is definite room for improvement. I feel that the filling was perfect, it tasted just how I remember my friend's samosas tasting. Mine consisted of mashed up potatoes, peas, and a mixture of Indian spices like coriander and turmeric. The one big thing about making these is that you can bake them and then freeze them or assemble them and freeze them without baking. I chose to do the latter and must say it is nice to be able to pop a few into the oven whenever I feel like a snack.

So, the real problem with these were the pastry shell, it was lacking something. It tasted very bland to me and that there was some flavor component missing from it. However, maybe this is partly my fault because I looked for a recipe that had the option of frying or baking them. I of course chose to try and make them slightly healthier by not frying them and taking the baking route instead. Maybe if they had been fried they would have had increased flavor, even though I read numerous things that they were just as delicious when baked. Mine also came out smaller than I would have liked, which made them difficult to form into a neat and tidy triangular shape.

Despite all of these things I will still enjoy eating my semi bland samosas, though I will not be allowing anyone else to eat these until I can fix the recipe.


Filling Ingredients:
4 potatoes
1 onion
1/4 c peas
1 sm ginger root (didn't use)
2 tsp lime juice (didn't use)
2 green chilies
1/4 c cilantro leaves (didn't use)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
2 tsp coriander
cumin seed to taste

1. Roast or boil potatoes and then roughly mash, add onion, peas, ginger, lime juice, chilies, cilantro, and all spices
2. Make sure it is mixed together well

Dough Ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp

1. Take flour and salt add water slowly to make a stiff dough
2. Take a piece of dough and roll out to form an elliptical shape
3. Form dough into a cone shape moistening edges so that they adhere to each other
4. Fill the cone with the filling and then fold over the open end to create a triangular shaped pastry
5. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Mine were done sooner due to the extremely small size of my samosas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indian Cauliflower & Potatoes

Have I ever mentioned that I love Indian food? It is so flavorful and typically healthy. I owe my very good friend for introducing me to the deliciousness of this cuisine. After moving to St. Louis I haven't been sure where I could find good Indian food, so in the spirit of what has become so typical of me I decided I would just make it myself. I was even in luck all of the spices were on sale at the grocery store, this was a sign saying make Indian food!

This is the second Indian dish I experimented with and all I can say is I'm so happy I made it. I'm assuming the flavor was right, since I had never had this dish before but had always heard good things about it. I roasted the potatoes and cauliflower and then added them into the peppers and spices. I finished off my meal with some brown rice, but Naan (that's a traditional Indian bread) would have been great with this too. I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, as I've mentioned before I really enjoy that food blog and if you haven't checked it out I strongly suggest that you do.

Indian Cauliflower and Potatoes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: I scaled this recipe down since I am only 1 person, but I'm posting the original recipe here. I also didn't have jalapenos so I used green bell pepper instead because that is what I had on hand. I left out the fresh ginger too.

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water


1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F.

2. Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.

5. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables.

6. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Deep Dish Disaster

I think pizza is one of the most amazing food creations. Part of me feels like I could never get sick of pizza. There's so many different styles and types that fuel debates across the United States and so many varieties of toppings that you can pile on top. Well I've been having a hankering for deep dish pizza, something I have been dying to try. With no trip to Chicago in the near future for me, I decided that tackling the deep dish pizza in my very own kitchen couldn't be that difficult.
Oh, how wrong was I. It isn't that this was completely horrible in the end; it just wasn't right. I truly believe that the dough recipe I used was not meant to be turned into a deep dish pizza, especially because when I used the same dough recipe for another pizza (post on it coming soon) it turned out just fine. I believe for the deep dish dough to be successful I might have needed to use one that had cornmeal in it, which were some of the suggestions I saw and chose to ignore.
To make this pizza I doubled the original dough recipe (the recipe said I could do this) that I got from Smitten Kitchen, I then fought with it to get it into the pan properly and then to actually stay put. It was a battle that I only halfway won. I then placed sliced mozzarella cheese directly onto the pizza dough. I don't think I used enough cheese because this really wasn't as cheesy as it should have been, you know like the real thing. Then I only ended up putting on one topping, originally I thought I would put much more on it, but wasn't in the mood for it. Finally, I put the sauce on top of the cheese and toppings so that they didn't burn because the pizza has to cook so long for the crust to be done. Below you'll see the less than stellar thing I took out from the oven. I have to say that the leftovers, were much better than the first night. And don't get me wrong it isn't like it actually tasted bad it just didn't meet my expectations, which maybe I set too high these days.
So, I will try again on the Chicago deep dish pizza and I'll try a proper deep dish dough recipe and I'll use more cheese or maybe I'll just consider going to Pi here in St. Louis instead (hey it was good enough for the president) and get real Chicago deep dish pizza that's only 5 hours away from being authentic in the Windy City.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Restaruant Review: Olympia Revisited

Right away I'll just start off by saying yes, I have already posted on this restaurant. And well I do have a whole backlog of recipes to start posting on (once I get the pictures uploaded) and it might seem weird to re-post on this restaurant so soon, but in my defense let me just say I couldn't help it.

I found myself eating at Olympia the other night and although I was tempted by the deliciousness of the Moussaka I had last time, I knew that I needed to branch out and try something new. So I went for the gyro, the vegetarian gyro to be exact since I wasn't ready to become acquainted with lamb last night. I feel like I can't begin to do justice to this gyro, but I was in complete bliss as I was eating it.

The vegetarian gyro consisted of sauteed mushrooms and onions. I should mention that mushrooms aren't one of my favorite foods, especially when they get really limp and chewy. Oh, but these mushrooms were thickly sliced and cooked until they were just tender and were full of so much flavor. Other items in this dish included lettuce, tomato, and feta cheese. Oh, and then there was the tzatziki sauce. In the past I was a little bit put off by the thought of yogurt sauces, but I can assure you that this is no longer a problem. What I forgot is that this yogurt sauce is made with Greek yogurt, which is more like sour cream and less like the yogurt we typically think of. This is what I think makes the sauce so good. It is nice and creamy, very flavorful but not overpoweringly heavy, and irresistible when nice and warm mixed in with all of my veggies on my gyro.

So in addition to the moussaka and saganaki the gyros here are something that cannot be missed out on. This is probably why Olympia was voted the best gyro in St. Louis. I've actually been thinking about the vegetarian gyro all day, so maybe that will give you an idea of how good I thought it was.

*Note: When I was looking over the menu last night I noticed that the saganaki is actually made with kasseri, which is made from sheep milk, and not feta like I said in my previous post on Olympia.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins

These muffins seem like the perfect compliment to National Nutrition Month.

A good friend, who is also a future dietitian and a fellow food blogger, taught me about these muffins long ago when we were sitting in early morning classes during college. What made them so perfect is that they were actually a healthy muffin that left you feeling satisfied because they were packed with fiber and protein, while contributing very little calories and fat. If you ask me that's a perfect deal, plus there were blueberries and I love blueberries.
The uniqueness of these muffins doesn't stop there though. There is absolutely no eggs or butter in this batter. Yep you heard me right. The eggs are swapped out for non-fat plain yogurt and applesauce replaces the butter/oil (except for 2 tablespoons). This goes to show the millions of possibilities there are to swap, make substitutions, and put twists on recipes.
Another great thing about this recipe is all the different variations you could make. Don't like blueberries swap it out for something else or leave the fruit out completely. The recipe calls for walnuts, which I didn't include, but you could use almonds or another nut instead. This would definitely be fun to experiment with. One final thing I accidentally bought wheat bran instead of oat bran, which overall I don't think messed the recipe up. The difference between wheat bran and oat bran is what types of fiber they have. Wheat bran is high in insoluble fiber, while oat bran is high in soluble fiber.

Here is the link to my friend's blog where you will find the recipe for the amazing Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Roasted Chickpeas

A good friend told me I really needed to try roasting chickpeas, that they would be like candy to me. I was all excited to try this out and for one reason or another I became sidetracked by other things and never got around to it. Fast forward a few months and here I am finally getting around to making them. For some reason I didn't think this would be a really common thing to do, but I told the girl I work with that I was going to make these and she instantly began raving about them, so I was very confident that I would love these.

What makes these so perfect is that they can be a perfect healthy snack. They're packed full of protein and plenty of fiber as well as being low in fat so you really can't go with these. Plus there are so many options on how to season these. I personally like to make them a little on the spicy side with either chili powder or cayenne pepper.

Originally when I was checking some directions on how to make these they said to coat the chickpeas in olive oil and then add salt (only if you're not using canned), garlic powder, and seasoning and then bake. This seems like a good idea, but I found out from a few reviews that I read that this starts out well, but by the next day the chickpeas are soggy....So I'm dry roasting my chickpeas. This means I'm roasting them without adding olive oil or any seasoning and then when they come out of the oven I sprinkle them with my seasoning. Doing it this way means I completely omit the olive oil and avoid the possibility that they become soggy.

Now if I can only make sure to stop munching on them so that I can take them as a snack to work, we'll see how that one goes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy National Nutrition Month

Happy March everyone! If you didn't already know March is National Nutrition Month, which I think is very exciting. Then again maybe I'm biased for some strange reason.

National Nutrition Month was started by the American Dietetic Association to create awareness on the importance of having a well balanced diet and incorporating regular physical activity into your life. These things can be tough with our busy schedules, but with a little effort you can easily be successful.

Even if you're not studying nutrition you should still care just a little about it. With the current obesity rates among adults and children and the escalating rates of Type II diabetes and heart disease being healthy is a huge concern. People don't realize the impact that eating properly has on their health and that even just a few tiny little changes in their habits can have a huge impact.

I know that I feature a lot of baked items on my blog and that they wouldn't be considered the healthiest items, but the thing is I believe in moderation. I'm not eating these items 24/7 and make sure to savor each bite so I'm not wanting to continuously eat more. I mean I love sweets, especially chocolate as much as everyone else, but I do regularly eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lots of whole grains that are packed with fiber and lean protein. These foods leave me feeling completely satisfied and energetic as well as having an overall sense of well-being. Okay, I think you've probably had enough of my preaching on nutrition, but in honor of National Nutrition Month I dare you to make one small change.

For more information on National Nutrition Month visit www.eatright.org/nnm and as always Happy Eating!