Two Brown Girls

Two brown girls, two countries, and two kitchens in which to play!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Three-P Soup

No, I didn't use three varieties of peas in this soup. I had some potatoes that were doing their darnedest to reproduce and some onions going a bit soft, so I decided to make a blended potato soup. Then I spied a parsnip tucked in the back of the fridge. And remembered that I had accidentally ordered 3 bags of frozen peas instead of 1 last time I had groceries delivered. Thus was born this Three-P Soup: Potato, Pea, and Parsnip. I tried taking a photo but as my silly little point and shoot couldn't quite capture the depth of green opted to omit one. However I do suggest you try making this -- its lovely and filling without being heavy, perfect on a chilly-but-not-freezing night curled in front of a movie.

Potato, Pea, and Parsnip Soup (Three-P Soup)
2 small/med onions
Olive oil
12 baby potatoes
1 parsnip
1.5 cups of frozen peas
Water or stock (about 3 cups?)
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds (roast in a small frying pan)
Freshly Grated Sharp cheese (I used a nice english cheddar)
Salt to taste
All amounts are, as is so often the case around here, approximate

Peel and cut up onions (any way you like really, I do slices, but this is all going to be blended, so don't worry about it being pretty). Saute onions for a couple of minutes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add chopped up potatoes and cut up parsnip (all unpeeled, its extra fiber and less work!) and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add frozen peas, nutmeg, and enough water or stock to cover (I think it was about 3 cups but just eyeball it) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering, for about 15-20 minutes, until all the root vegetables have become slightly mushy. Add roasted cumin seeds and blend with an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor and blend). Chuck in grated cheese (about a 1/4 cup, but add more if you'd like!) Add salt to taste and serve.

This soup was surprisingly good given how thrown together it was. The nutmeg and cumin give it depth and its chock-full of delicious veggies without being offensively veggie-like. The cheese makes it a bit creamy and gives yet another flavor note, this time of salt and dairy and tang from being aged. Its all rather lovely. I recommend it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Delicious Almond-Orange Shortbread

I am on a big of a baking tear these days and have finally managed to sit down and write a post about it. Having seen this post on smitten kitchen about coconut shortbread and having just received some ground almonds in my latest grocery delivery I decided to make some almond-orange shortbread. And what do you know, it was deliciousness itself!!

Almond-Orange Shortbread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 10.2.09 who adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004

1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) ground almonds
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 teaspoons of orange zest (you can vary the amount of zest depending on how "orangey" you would like the final biscuit to be. i used closer to 1 tsp than 2.)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended (I used a spoon and my own steampower -- it took a bit of time, but it worked pretty well!). Mix in salt, almond extract, vanilla, and orange zest. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in ground almonds. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out 1 dough disk on lightly floured work surface to scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into rounds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps and reroll; cut out additional cookies. Repeat procedure with remaining dough disk until all of dough is used.

Bake cookies until light golden, about 20-25 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Disaster Cooking

I've had a series of disastrous cooking attempts. I think I may have kitchen gremlins. One of the few things that seems to be working is my mum's Sardine Salad (stemming from her impoverished college days, as I understand it).

Mum's Sardine Salad
1 tin Sardines in Hot Sauce (tomato sauce if you're a chicken)
1 chopped small onion
1 chopped small tomato
(some chopped celery or chopped carrots are also good in this)
handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
squeeze or two of lemon
Splash of tabasco (if youre using the plainer sardines...because this needs SOME flavour dammit)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a bowl, sort of roughly mash, serve over toast (or eat as is).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Egg Woes

I went through a 8 or 9 year period where I refused to eat eggs. Or rather, anything that tasted of eggs, which basically meant no scrambling, poaching, frying, omeletting, custarding or boiling. The taste seemed wrong in my mouth, and I confess that I started eating them again a few years ago not out of any great desire for eggy-ness but rather because I was told it was either the eggs or a whole range of supplements for all those necessary omega-y bits and pieces the body needs. This recipe from the NYTimes, then, sounds right up my alley -- how to disguise eggs from 1909.

1909: Eggs Eli
This recipe by John W. Keller, a city commissioner, appeared in an article in The Times.

Anchovies were a popular ingredient at the turn of the 20th century. It’s impossible to know what the quality of the average anchovy was then. A good anchovy now is plump and assertive but neither too salty nor too fishy. (And whatever you do, avoid the ones with capers.) Lots of cookbooks call for those packed in salt, but Agostino Recca, a common brand found in supermarkets, makes good-quality ones, already filleted and packed in oil, that are fine substitutes.

1 garlic clove, peeled

2 tablespoons butter

8 eggs, cracked into a bowl

1 tablespoon finely minced anchovy

3 tablespoons finely minced

Virginia ham, or other smoked ham.

Rub the inside of a large skillet with the garlic clove. Place over medium-high heat and add the butter. When it’s nice and foamy, pour in the eggs. Sprinkle the anchovy and ham over the eggs, then begin scrambling them, stopping when they’re done to your liking. Keller, a Yale dropout, adds: “Serve on a Yale blue dish.” But any dish is fine. Serves 4.

Excerpted from an article by Amanda Hesser at the New York Times Food Section 24.9.2007

I think my big change to this would be to DECREASE the amount of egg used and INCREASE the amount of ham + anchovy. Perhaps even add some good black olives chopped roughly and eating the whole lot over toast with a cornichon or two on the side. Yum.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Minimalist: The Way We Cook

As Keerthi so eloquently put it, "This is soooo like OUR LIVES." (Glad she's shelling out for that higher education...). All jokes aside, this Minimalist piece from the NYTimes certainly sums up our philosophy on cooking -- keeping it as simple as possible. On this note, a favourite for me is the following recipe:

Pasta with Butter, Cheese, Nutmeg, and Peas
Boil pasta (I prefer a long noodle, like buccatini or spaghetti, but penne is also excellent with this) until al-dente. Drain in sieve and set aside reserving a glass or so of pasta-water.

In the same pan heat butter. Add some garlic (out of the jar works just fine), a pinch or two of nutmeg, and a shake of chili flakes. Dump pasta back in. Add pasta water after a minute of tossing the pasta in the butter+flavouring combination. Add frozen peas with the pasta water. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the peas are cooked. Garnish with loads of pecorino romano+parmesan+any hard grated cheese. Add black pepper if desired.

Simple, easy, and utterly delicious (also amazing with the addition of bits of leftover roast chicken).

As for the Minimalist? I admit I am intrigued by both #3 and #4:

"3. Cut eight sea scallops into four horizontal slices each. Arrange on plates. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt and crushed chilies; serve after five minutes

4. Open a can of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, small or chopped shrimp, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are done; garnish with more olive oil."*

Pseudo-med food is always fun...

*Extracted from Source:Mark Bittman, The New York Times, July 18 2007

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Where to Eat: London

A friend of mine at NYU in New York asked me to write a quick food-related london-focused piece for one of NYU's myriad student publications, and I thought I'd post it here too to make up for the lack of recent posting.

Where to Eat, London: The London Markets

Contrary to popular belief, London is actually considered one of the best cities for food in the world. Though “typically English” foods like fish and chips can definitely be found easily, equally prominent are curry takeaways (that’s takeout in American) and kebab shops aplenty. Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of the London food scene, however, is the prevalence of farmer’s markets all over the city. Some follow the classic New York City Greenmarket formula (which will be familiar to those who shop in the Union Square Market in New York) – the stalls contain largely produce, with a few meat and cheese stalls and perhaps one or two stalls selling hot meals or cooked products.

In London, interestingly, many of the Markets are more or less a hodgepodge of clothing stores, record shops, handbag vendors, and tiny food stalls. That said, the Markets do have their individual personalities and reputations. Portobello Road Market (in Notting Hill) is known chiefly for its antiques and vintage goods, Spitalfields and Camden Markets (in the East End and Camden Town respectively) are known for their mix of eclectic small-scale goodsmakers and certain Markets (like Borough Market in South London) are more or less devoted to food (often artisan and gourmet foods in particular). However, one can be guaranteed a good, cheap meal at any of these Markets. Camden Market has some excellent ethnic offerings including Burmese and Indian for about £3 (or roughly $6.00) a meal, while Spitalfields not only has great specialty groceries offered at food stalls inside the actual market but is also adjacent to Brick Lane (the famous heart of Bangladeshi-London and filled with good, cheap restaurants). And though these are the major London Markets, be sure to look around for smaller local markets in whichever neighborhood you find yourself in. Around the corner from several of the NYU in London dorms, for instance, is the tiny Exmouth Market in which several of the vendors found at Spitalfields have smaller stalls with a range of products such as tarts, quiches, Spanish chorizo, coffee beans, and flowers. The Markets are truly a great way to taste London. And the best part? You can shop and eat at the same time!

How to Get There?

Borough Market
London Bridge Tube Station
Thursdays: 11am to 5pm
Fridays: 12pm to 6pm
Saturdays 9am - 4pm

Spitalfields Market
Liverpool Street Tube Station
Market Stalls:
Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm and Sundays, 9am - 5pm
Monday to Friday, 11am - 11pm and Sundays 9am - 5pm
Retail Shops:
Monday to Sunday 11am-7pm

Camden Market
Camden Town Tube Station
Hours vary depending on portion of market (some stalls, but not all, are open 7 days a week). Check website for details.

Portobello Road Market
Notting Hill Gate Tube Station
Every Saturday

Sunday, February 11, 2007

London Dinner Parties: Take Two

I've been trying to do an open weekly dinner party here in London -- my three flatmates and various assorted friends are all informed of date and time and are expected to bring the cook a bottle of wine. My plan is to cook for however many people as come, and so last week I made beef stew for ten, which went over quite well (then again, college students rarely turn down free food).

This week, considerably enboldened by my previous success, I decided to extend the invitation even further around, and thus this Saturday was consumed with making: Shepard's Pie for Twenty! No recipe (largely because it was really just a very basic pie in very large quantities and I'm simply too tired after all that cooking). However, here we see the lovely C enjoying her food thoroughly!

Stay tuned for the next edition of the London Chronicles!