Aarti Sequeira’s Beef Vindaloo

Goan Beef Curry with Vinegar: Beef Vindaloo

Consider yourself warned; this is not the meal to make to impress your boss or as a romantic dinner for two. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe is fantastic!  But you really don’t want anyone you’re trying to impress to see you with gravy running down your arm as you try and get every last drop off your plate.  It’s not a pretty picture folks, but it is great curry.

Ingredients:

Cucumber Riata:

2 cups plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt

2 cups grated English or Persian cucumber (unpeeled)

1 clove garlic, minced

4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, minced finely

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Freshly ground black pepper

Wet Masala:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 (1-inch) pieces cinnamon bark

6 whole cloves

4 whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more if you’re feeling feisty!)

1 heaping tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste*, recipe follows, or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Beef Vindaloo:

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly

1 serrano pepper, sliced in half

2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin, trimmed of all excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Parmesan Potato Wedges with Lemon Thyme Aioli

The which-style-of-fry-is-the-best debate is ongoing in my house.  I like fries that are a bit more crispy and I am not picky about shape, my husband on the other hand likes his fries softer and he really likes potato wedges. Being the kind of girl I am I thought, “well, we can have it both ways.” A couple of easy tricks will give you oven fries that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.  Give them a stylish addition in the form of a little grated parmesan cheese and a lemon thyme aioli and you have a side dish that is perfectly at ease in a gastro pub or sitting at your kitchen table.

Ingredients:

Potato Wedges:

2 Russet Potatoes

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pepper

1/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated

Lemon Thyme Aioli:

1 Lemon, zested and juiced

2 Egg Yolks

1 large Clove of Garlic

1 tablespoon fresh Thyme Leaves

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Salt

3/4 teaspoon Pepper

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Blue Cheese Souffle

I love souffles, sweet or savory.  I think their depth of flavor combined with their light and airy nature is sheer brilliance.  The best thing about souffles, however, is that they are simple and elegant dishes that are practical for every day indulgences or even a fancy dinner party. Enjoy the versatility.  This recipe comes from Ina Garten.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, plus extra for greasing the dish

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling

3 tablespoons Flour

1 cup scalded Milk

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

4 Egg Yolks, at room temperature

5 Egg Whites, at room temperature

3 ounces Roquefort Cheese, chopped

1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

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Rocky Mountain Brisket

Brisket makes a great casual entertaining dish.  It’s one of those “put it in the oven and forget it” meats that allow you to spend more time with your family and friends and less time worrying about what is going on in the kitchen.  You can even cook it while you’re at work.  As an added bonus it is the perfect family-style meal: slice the meat, place the sandwich buns in a basket and put the barbecue sauce in a gravy boat and you’re good to go.  This recipe comes from my mother’s 25-year-old copy of the Colorado Cache Cookbook (by the Junior League of Denver).

Ingredients:

Brisket:

1 (5 pound) Brisket

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pepper

2 tablespoons Chili Powder

2 Bay Leaves, crushed

2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke

Barbecue Sauce:

14 ounces Katchup

2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke

3 tablespoons Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Water

4 tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon Dry Mustard

2 teaspoons Celery Seeds

6 tablespoons Butter

1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

To Serve:

8 Onion Rolls, toasted

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Pac Man Cookies

Every summer we would travel from Wyoming where I grew up to Michigan where my maternal grandparents have a house on Lake Michigan. While the beach was definitely the best thing about the trip, Pac Man cookies from the local bakery came in a close second.  I loved the cookies so much that my mom made her own version so that I could have them year round.  The base is a simple sugar cookie recipe, one that can be used to make any shape cookie you would like to eat; but you have to admit Pac Man shaped is just too fun to pass up.

Ingredients:

Sugar Cookies:

1 cup Butter, softened

2 Eggs

1 cup Sugar

3 cups Flour

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice or 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

3 to 4 tablespoons Milk

Garnish:

1 (1.69 ounce) package Plain M&M’s

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Broccoli Slaw

I like broccoli slaw.  It’s easy to make (especially if you cheat a little and get the slaw part from the prepackaged produce section) and I feel like it’s a good way to sneak in a few extra vitamins and minerals.  Add some dried cranberries, raisins, and almonds and you’ve easily elevated it to interesting as well.  It’s a simple and tasty side that you can effortlessly whip up in about 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

Dressing:

3/4 cup Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Orange Zest

2 1/2 teaspoons Cider Vinegar

3 tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice

3/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika (regular Paprika will work if that’s what you have)

1 1/4 teaspoons Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Mustard Powder

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Slaw:

1 (12 ounce) package of Broccoli Slaw

1/2 cup Almonds, sliced or slivered

1/3 cup Golden Raisins

1/3 cup Craisins

2 tablespoons Chives, minced

Whisk all dressing ingredients together.  If you have the time, go ahead and do this a few hours before you plan on making dinner as dressings are usually better when the flavors have married for a little bit.  You could make the dressing as far in advance as 2 days.

Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until they just begin to take on a little color and smell nutty.  Allow to cool about 5 minutes.

Toss together broccoli slaw, craisins, raisins, almonds and dressing about 5 minutes before you plan on serving dinner.  It really is that easy.  Sit back and enjoy the praise.

Tips and Tricks:

If you are feeling particularly ambitious and you want to make your own slaw mix the key is to use broccoli stems.  It’s a great way to eliminate waste when you buy a head of broccoli.  You can get two sides for the price of one!

Pecans or walnuts would be other great nuts to use if you don’t have almonds.

If you’d like more bite than chives can offer, substitute 1/2 cup of julienned red onion instead.

Serves 4 people.


And Your Bird Can Sing

image courtesy of pixdaus.com

I have a headache.  The kind of headache that you get from crying. The crying that comes from disappointment and frustration.

It can be hard to find the silver lining in a dark and cloudy sky.  I believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that you will ultimately find yourself where you are suppose to be.  That does not, however, lessen the sting that comes from realizing the path you were walking down has taken a sudden turn.  That the things you could see in the distance you can no longer access.

My temporary promotion is ending.  With it goes what little financial stability we had.  And truly I am not bitter.  I know I did a good job.  I know I impressed the people I needed to impress.  I appreciate the opportunities, and I know my chance for a permanent position will come, but I don’t know when.  All I can do for now is return to my previous position with the dignity and pride that comes from having done my job well.  It is the financial ramifications of this change that are terrifying.  This change takes us from, “okay, we can’t go out to dinner anymore and that 8-year-old car had better hold together” to “if I don’t get a permanent position in the next 6 weeks we will be getting rid of cable and we will not be getting a dog.”

A dog, that’s the other fading dream.  The litter we were waiting on ended up only having 4 puppies, there wasn’t a little girl pup for us.  My heart is broken.  No, it’s not the end of the world and as my husband points out it’s not “our” dog until it comes home with us, but it felt like “our” dog.  I was so excited, and then I was so disappointed.  The breeder gave us the name of another breeder who is expecting a litter and who has us on her list, but she can’t be sure we will get a dog from her either.  These puppies are not due until February 8th and so I will have to wait.  And the worst part of it is that part of me wonders if it’s just not meant to be.  Maybe this is a sign.  Or maybe it’s just a necessary delay.  Perhaps the powers that be are trying to make sure we have enough cushion.  But it’s so hard to feel like things are going to work out when at the moment they seem to be going so far away from where we had wanted to end up.

And so my search for a glimmer of silver in this darkened sky lights on a quote I saw in a Pottery Barn catalog of all places, “keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.”  With that in mind I am trying to see beyond my disappointment, my frustration and my panic.  I am trying to be hopeful and realize that a year from now, six months from now, perhaps even six weeks from now, all of the sadness and the tears will seem like wasted energy and there will be a singing bird keeping me uplifted.


Verde Chicken Enchilads

Somewhere along the way these became known amongst my circle of friends as “Meredith’s enchilada’s”, but I do want to clear up that misconception.  These are really Meredith’s take on Cherryll Walzel-Frick’s enchiladas.  She was on a Food Network special about 10 years ago and I quickly embraced the meal. I have made some minor changes, but I have stayed pretty close to her original recipe.  They do require a little bit of work (in “tips and tricks” I will give you the 30 minute dinner version), but if you have a little time they are well worth it.

Ingredients:

Salsa Verde:

3/4 pound Tomatillos

1/3 cup Onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves Garlic, smashed

1/2 cup Water

1 small Jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon Lime Juice

1/2 cup tightly packed Cilantro

2 1/2 teaspoons Salt

Enchiladas:

1 pound Chicken Breast

2 cups Chicken Stock

1/4 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon Cumin Seed

1 tablespoon Coriander Seed

8 Flour Tortillas

1 cup Vegetable Oil

6 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

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Orange Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon

Cedar plank grilling is one of my favorite methods of salmon preparation.  I first encountered it at a little restaurant I worked for in Michigan years ago.  We had dozens of cedar planks soaking in a bucket and the scent when they hit the flames was intoxicating. Since that summer if there is a cedar plank salmon on the menu chances are good that’s what I’m ordering.  Up until recently I was reticent to try cooking salmon this way at home, but since we moved into a house and have a full sized grill at our disposal this is no longer a restaurant only treat.  This easy to execute recipe is courtesy of Gina Knox founder of Fire and Flavor.

Ingredients:

4 (6 ounce) Salmon filets, skin removed

3 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

1 tablespoon Orange Zest

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon Chives, minced

Special Equipment Needed: 1 large or 4 small Cedar Planks

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Horseradish Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Horseradish goes well with so many things and potatoes are no exception. The addition of a little of this often overlooked condiment will give your potatoes a definite wow factor.  It’s a great way to get a whole lot of bang for very little buck.  Who says a side dish can’t be the star of the show?

Ingredients:

2 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes

4 tablespoons Butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup Whole Milk

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Salt, divided

2 tablespoons Chives, minced

2 tablespoons Prepared Horseradish

1/2 teaspoon Pepper, coarsely ground

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