What am I eating? I Try Pista Burfi

#954 on the List of 1001 Things to Eat Before You Die

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Burfis are a generalized term for popular Indian candies eaten at special occasions. There is a whole slew of recipes to make different types but they usually contain sweetened condensed milk, nuts, spices and are decorated with an edible silver leaf. I am not going to pretend I am any sort of expert on the subject of Indian food. Far from it. I have had a few different types of Burfis at restaurants and given to me by friends and I can tell you from my limited experience that every single type I have tried has been a win. I love the use of different spices in Indian cuisine. Instead of the typical American fare of chocolate, lemon, vanilla, or on occasion peanut butter; In Indian confectionary, you get cardamon, cinnamon, fresh ginger and pretty much anything else that is aromatic. They are a delight on the tongue and very complex. The recipe I used for this experiment is one I found on aromatic essence.

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Badam Pista Barfi (Almond & Pistachio Fudge)

Ingredients:

  • Almond Powder – 1/2 Cup

  • Pistachio Powder – 1/2 Cup

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – 300 gms

  • Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp

  • Ghee – 1 tbsp

  • Green Food Colour – 5-6 drops

  • Chopped Almonds & Pistachios for garnish


Method:

 

  • Dry roast pistachios on low heat for 3-4 minutes and set aside to cool. Grind lightly for coarse consistency.

  • We used almond powder, in case you don’t have almond powder, then you soak them overnight, peel off skin and dry them under sun and then grind to coarse consistency.

  • In a bowl take half cup each of almond & pistachio powder. Also add cardamom powder and set aside. This is your powder mix

  • Heat ghee in a pan, add sweetened condensed milk and powder mix. Mix well all ingredients and cook on medium heat till it starts to separate sides. Switch off and take off from heat.

  • Spread the mix over a greased plate into a thickness of about 3/4 to 1 inch. Sprinkle chopped nuts and press gently into the mixture.

  • Let it cool and then cut into cubes or any other shape you like.

 

Eat up and enjoy. It is excellent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Try Ras el Hanout

#715 of 1001 Foods to Try Before You Die

 

 

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Image courtesy of genius kitchen

 

 

I have decided that I am going to tackle the aromatics section of the list. I figure aromatics ship easier and I can make recipes at home for the fam. Much easier than say trying to ship a weird type of fish only found in Iceland. Why don’t I ever make things easier for myself?

I found a little baggie of this spice at the local World Market for 2.99. Duuuuuuuude. I was absolutely shocked. I have been looking and looking to get my hands on any of this and was sadly resorting to ordering from Amazon and their prices for it. I love trying new things, but 12.99 a little steep for a spice I may never use again. This was a great find.

Let me tell you about the glory that is this spice. Close your eyes.. they closed? OK.

Imagine that you are walking around a long street made of cobbled stone. You are in a Morrocan spice market. People are hustling around you hawking their wares. You are being bombarded with foreign (to me a least) sights, sounds, and smells. Especially, the smells that permeate the air are a concoction of all things deeply spiced. Not hot spices with their peppery overtones, But things like cinnamon, and cardamon. Deeply comforting spices that you want to roll around in and sip in tea.  This is what this spice made me think of when I smelled it, and the glory of it when I tasted it. I don’t know if it is accurate. I have never been to Morroco. But man, this is one of the best things I have ever smelled. It tasted even better.

I made a recipe I found on Pinterest via genius kitchen that used Ras El Hanout with potatoes. I can see how this spice could lend itself to pretty much anything. It is very versatile. Make sure you boil the potatoes first. Good luck! Make it, your house will smell amazing.

READY IN:

30mins

SERVES:

4

UNITS:

US

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g white potatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix
  • olive oil

 

DIRECTIONS

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas mark 7.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes in half and boil until ‘al dente’. Make a dressing by mixing the juice of one lemon, garlic, and Ras El Hanout. In a hot oven, pre-heat oil in a baking tray.
  3. Once par-boiled, drain the potatoes in a colander and toss the potatoes to encourage a fluffy outer. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl with the dressing and ensure that the potatoes are covered. Transfer the potatoes into the hot tray and roast for 25 minutes.

What am I eating? Pimenton de La Vera

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#680 on 1001 Foods to Try Before You Die

I finally found something I can get my hands on to try. Pimenton de La Vera is a smoked Spanish paprika. It is used in pretty much everything in Spanish cuisine. Which mean that I am sure I have had it before at some point. I love tapas. However, I wanted to single out the flavor profile so I could really try it.

I think in general I prefer Hungarian Paprika. I have no idea what the difference is, but I put paprika on my fried eggs constantly and the Hungarian stuff has a slightly different profile that accented the eggs better. That being said, this is good stuff. Smoky and spicy at the same time without being crazy overpowering where all you can taste is chilis. It was great! If you are interested you can get it at Amazon or any fancy grocery store. I got mine at New Seasons for 5 dollars a jar.

Have You Ever Had Peanuts in Your Coke?

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(Photo Credit:  Photograph by Ashley Callahan)

Weird right? I come from a family with quite a few southerners. My dad is a out and out southerner from East Tennessee. I have tried many southern staples from his childhood: ice box cake, ham hock and lentil soup, hard cake, but until recently I had no idea that this was a thing let alone a beloved treat for many families. Apparently the rumor goes that farmers from the south would pop their peanuts in their Coke so they didn’t have to touch the nuts with dirty fingers. No idea the validity of that, but according to the Coke.com website southerners have been having their coke this way since the 1920’s.

There are even recipes for cake with the peanut coke flavor pairing. They Look delicious! I mean cake… but after trying this pairing of peanuts and Coke for experimentation purposes it is a must bake for me now.

This is a gorgeous flavor combination. It is salty and sweet all at the same time. If you are a fan of salted caramel or anything of its ilk, you will dig it. Go out and buy a coke and a pack of salted peanuts and give it a try and who knows? Maybe you will become a southern convert and start frying everything and drinking sweet tea.

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Photo credit

Recipe from http://www.food52.com

Serves: 24–30

For the cake

  • 2 cups Coca-Cola
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pats
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup peanuts (roasted and salted), chopped, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

  2. To make the cake, place the cola, dark brown sugar and cocoa powder into a medium sauce pot and mix to combined being careful not to fizz over the cola. Add the butter. Place over a medium heat and bring the mixture to a bubble, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

  3. While the mixture cools, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Pour the slightly cooled but still a bit warm chocolate-cola mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into a large ungreased sheet pan or jelly roll pan. The pan should be about 12×16 (half-sheet pan size) but any similarly sized pan should do the trick.

  4. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the middle to check for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean, remove. If not, bake for 5 minutes more. Time may vary with the size of your pan. Remove from oven and let cool.

  5. To make the frosting, mix together the peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Once well combined, slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar at a low speed. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, carefully add in the salt, cream and vanilla extract. Once the ingredients have come together, turn the mixer on high and beat for 20 seconds just to incorporate a little air and to “fluff” the frosting.

  6. Frost the cake. And garnish the top with peanuts.

  7. Slice the cake and enjoy with a chilled bottle of Coca-Cola because, why not?

I Try Donut World in Gresham, Oregon

What is with all the hype?

Donut World

720 NE Burnside Road

Gresham, or 97030

 

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yelp.com

 

 

List item on my personal Portland Bucket List. 

 

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34063346_1701238289930331_5628833913066487808_n.jpgI have driven by this friendly red barn umpteen times over the years that I have lived in Portland, but I never had a cause to stop by. I decided to pop on over and check it out this morning and see what all the hype is about. I ended up sending 8 bucks for 6 donuts and a small coffee. Pricey, but doable if the donuts were any good. We run into hype problems occasionally in Portland. Where something is lauded and hyped all to hell, and is really kinda mediocre. I am looking at you voodoo donuts.

But, this was mediocre at best. Maybe, I had a bad batch of donuts or the wrong ones. I am entirely willing to give them another go. They are a mom and pop franchise, and I always try to help small businesses succeed. But really, it wasn’t great at all. I had half a cream filled one and a half an old-fashioned. The cream filled one was terrible. The cream tasted like the worst thick buttercream icing you would find on a grocery store bought cake. Plus, it was gritty? How did that happen? Maybe this is just preferential. I like cream filled donuts to have lighter almost whip cream like texture. So take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The old-fashioned was pretty decent. Not anything crazy, just ok. It had the right amount of crunch and glaze on it.

On a positive note, the dough/bread here is excellent. It was light and fluffy and had a fresh baked taste. Donut World definitely excelled there. Even though the cream in donut was inedible, the doughnut itself was well made. I’ll try it again. Who knows, maybe the second time it will be amazing. It has almost 5-star reviews across social media.

What am I eating? Cultured Butter

Sour Milk Never Tasted So Good

Cultured butter is not something I have scheduled on any list. It is something I have wanted to try for some time, and I decided to take the leap after watching a youtube series on fermentation.

 

I like this series quite a bit. He is a pretty unassuming guy who wants to ferment stuff. He made making cultured butter look pretty easy.

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After doing the simple steps, I set it on a shelf in my kitchen and waited. Two days later, and some blending I had amazingly good butter and some delicious buttermilk that I turned into buttermilk ranch dressing.

See, the thing is butter in the US is awful for a variety of reasons. Firstly, we graze cows on corn. Corn is not a natural food of cows, so it throws all sorts of things off biologically. Butter that is made from milk from cows that graze on a variety of grasses tastes fantastic. It is more buttery in flavor and consistency. It is shocking the difference when you do a taste test. I feel like if I am going to put something like butter in my body, it needs to be of high quality. Butter is quite the indulgence when you get down to it. So I have started a bit of a butter quest, taste testing different kinds of butter. Cultured butter far surpasses much of what I have tasted, and it is cheaper to make.

Check out this article on butter tasting


Cultured Butter

Recipe from New York Times Cooking

  • 4 cups good quality heavy cream
  • ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Combine cream and yogurt in a large jar or bowl. Seal jar well and shake aggressively until combined, or whisk well if using a bowl. Cover jar or bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let mixture sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 18 to 36 hours; it should thicken and taste rich and tangy.
  2. Seal the jar or cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it reaches 60 degrees, 1 to 2 hours. If you refrigerate it longer, allow mixture to warm slightly at room temperature before proceeding.
  3. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Make sure there is plenty of extra overhang of cheesecloth.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, add the thickened butter mixture and process on high until the yellow curds begin to separate from the buttermilk, 2 to 3 minutes. It will have the appearance of liquidy cottage cheese
  5. Slowly pour the buttermilk through the mesh sieve and then dump the butter curds in. Let sit for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing buttermilk to drip through. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth up and around the butter, pushing the curds down and into a ball. Twist the cheesecloth and squeeze the ball to extract as much buttermilk as possible. You will be left with a butterball.
  6. Pour the buttermilk into a separate container and reserve for another use. Place the butterball in the empty bowl. Be sure to squeeze out all excess butter from the cheesecloth. Pour 1/3 cup of ice water over the butter and, using a spatula, “wash” the butter, folding it over itself and pressing down to extract the extra buttermilk. Drain off the milky liquid and discard it; repeat this process until the liquid is clear, 4 to 6 times. The butter will start to harden; at that point your hands may work better than the spatula.
  7. Place the butter on a clean kitchen towel and pat lightly to remove excess moisture. Knead a few times with your hands and pat dry again; this will help extend its storage life. Sprinkle the finished butter with salt and knead a few more times to combine.
  8. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper, or two if you would like to divide the batch in half, and place the butter on the paper. Form the butter into a log and then roll it up in the paper and twist the ends to seal. Make sure the log has a uniform thickness throughout. Refrigerate until ready to use. The butter will last about a month in the refrigerator.

What am I cooking? Steamed Jaggery and Coconut Milk Pudding/Watalappan

#993 of 1001 Foods to Eat Before You Die

What Is It?

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http://www.indiamart.com

From Wikipedia, “Jaggery is a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar consumed in Asia, Africa and some countries in the Americas. It is a concentrated product of cane juice and often date or palm sap without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color.  It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, and up to 20% moisture, with the remainder, made up of other insoluble matter, such as wood ash, proteins, and bagasse fibers. Ancient scriptures on Ayurveda mention various medicinal uses based on the method of preparation and age.”

How It Tastes.

Jaggery tastes like Molasses and brown sugar had a lovely baby.

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White sugar is yucky.

It tastes like a ginger snap cookie that is light on ginger, but heavy on molasses.

Basically, it is delicious tasting, but you really have to like a darker sugar. Which I do. The only thing I put white sugar on is cereal, and even then it is suspect. When it comes to tea and pretty much anything else, brown sugar is my go-to. I think brown sugar has a greater depth of flavor and Jaggery is no exception. It is the ultimate brown sugar.

A word to the wise, jaggery is crunchy, so either a mortar and pestle or a little water to melt it are in order.

The pudding is melt in your mouth excellent. Rich in flavors and anything in my opinion with cardamon is a winner. The raisins add a specific subtle flavor too. Do it, make it, try it. It is worth the effort it takes to make.

Recipe Used.

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Image courtesy of http://www.loveandotherspices.com

Steamed Jaggery and Coconut Milk Pudding

Recipe Taken from loveandotherspices.com

Ingredients:
250 g Jaggery
1 cup thick Coconut milk
4 eggs
5 to 6 Cardomoms crushed
Pinch of salt
Cashews roasted and sliced
Raisins to garnish

Method:

Crush the jaggery (I used a Mortar for this), add about 2 tbsp of water and melt it in low flame. Once melted take it from the fire, keep whisking till it cools down a bit.
Add the coconut milk to the mixture and whisk.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with crushed cardamoms and a pinch of salt.
Combine the two mixtures and beat.
Strain the mixture, pour it into a bowl and steam for about 25 minutes.
Garnish it with cashews and raisins.
Notes:
* You can use a caramel syrup to increase the sweetness. Make it by caramelizing 3 tbsp of sugar and adding 3 to 4 tbsp of water, stirring continuously to get the right consistency. Pour it over the cooled pudding.
* This is best served chilled.