Monday, January 9, 2012

A little sin on Sunday - Brunch with the girls

There was a time when I hated eggs. At first they were never served to me properly – as a kid I found the typically dry, overcooked scrambled eggs and the difficulty of peeling a soft boiled egg so very unappealing that it turned me off to eggs altogether. Then somewhere along the way my taste buds were introduced to eggs cooked slowly, with care and attention. And since then I have loved eggs and feel much delight in experimenting in the numerous ways to prepare eggs. I am so very adamant about my eggs being cooked slowly on not too high of heat, my sister Soniya, refuses to prepare me breakfast altogether.

A few weeks ago, to celebrate the existence of our dining table – (my previously tiny Manhattan apartment had only an island counter with stools) I invited a few of the girls over Sunday brunch.

December 12, 2011

Oeuf en Cocotte
boursin, grape tomato, herbs

Potato Gratin
garlic, thyme, cream

Yellow Cornbread
rosemary, olive oil

Berry Crossover
strawberry, cream, confectioner’s sugar

Oeufen cocotte, which may sound intimidating, is rather easy. Some refer to this dish as baked eggs or shirred eggs. The components vary, but oeuf en cocotte is typically prepared with cream or cheese inside of ramekin. I found this recipe on Chocolate Zucchini and prepared it with a few alterations seen below.

Oeuf en cocotte

- 1 egg / Or two if you prefer
- 1 tablespoon of Boursin with fine herbs
- ground black pepper,
- sea salt with herbs de provence
- paprika
- a pinch of grated pecorino romano
- chopped grape tomatoes

This is what you need to prepare breakfast for one and will require one ramekin, but make as many as needed.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a small ramekin, in this case, the exact size is not so crucial, though be conscious if you decide to use two eggs. Spoon in the tomatoes and Boursin. Crack the egg on top. Put in a tiny pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese.

Put the ramekins in a large baking dish enough to hold water. Pour hot water in the dish halfway up the ramekin. Be careful not to spill water inside the ramekins. Bake for 10 minutes, or longer if you prefer a more solid yolk.

Remove from the oven and carefully lift ramekins out of hot water. Add a tiny pinch of paprika for color and serve immediately.

Traditional Potato Gratin

I found this recipe on La Tartine Gourmande, I love this blog and cook from here religiously. She posts her entries in French and English, and I love getting a chance to practice my French. Her recipe calls for Celeriac, or celery root, which I could not find at Whole Foods so I simply omitted it and made a few alterations based on ingredients available in my kitchen. The gratin was enough for six servings and made for such a hit, and as La Tartine Gourmande says, “Can you really dislike a gratin?”

  • 1 lb & 5 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 whole garlic clove, 2 crushed, or more if you wish
  • 7 fluid oz whole milk (7/8 c)
  • 7 fluid oz heavy cream (7/8 c)
  • 3 thyme twigs
  • Nutmeg
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sea Salt with herbs de Provence
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Pour milk and cream in a pot and heat to a boil. Add the crushed garlic and thyme twigs. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow the flavors to combine for a half hour. Then remove the garlic and thyme from the pot.

While infusing the milk, peel and slice the potatoes very thinly. At the time I did this by hand, but I now have a mandoline and highly recommend that. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400F. I prepared this in a rectangular baking pan, but you can prepare them in individual sized dishes, too. Prepare the dish by rubbing the remaining garlic clove along the surface and then grease with butter. Line the dish with slices of potato and repeat for layers. Pour cream over potatoes. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Bake in center of oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Rosemary Cornbread Muffins

LinkFor brunch, my roommate Deepa actually did all the work on this one! I was so bogged down with cooking other things and tired from spending the early hours in the kitchen, she woke up and came to my rescue. I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website, and they were a scrumptious addition to brunch.

I made this on my own a week or so later and was so very unsatisfied because I had switched things up and used whole wheat pastry flour. I found the muffins far less pleasant as they cooked a bit faster in my mom’s oven. I stupidly asked my mom to remove them from the oven while I rushed to shower before my sister arrived from the airport. She took them out as soon as the timer went off but they had become far too golden. I prefer muffins and cupcakes to be soft and delicate – but I suppose if I wanted a sort of skillet style cornbread that coarse cornbread would have been fine.

This recipe when followed exactly produces a super soft cornbread with this pleasantly surprising infused flavors of rosemary and olive oil, and is quite addictive!!!

  • 1 c organic yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp natural salt
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 T organic cane sugar
  • 2/3 c organic low-fat buttermilk
  • 2/3 c extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Place cornmeal in a mixing bowl. Combine remaining dry ingredients and sift into cornmeal. Add chopped rosemary and mix briefly.

In a separate bowl, break eggs into sugar, buttermilk and oil. Blend with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. On low speed, add half of cornmeal mixture until combined, and repeat with second half. Don’t over mix.

Prep muffin pan with cupcake liners. Divide batter among cups. Bake until solid and a knife comes out clean when inserted into a muffin, approximately, 20 to 25 minutes. Keep a watchful eye, as the muffins should remain yellow, and not be golden. Remove muffins from pan to stop cooking and place them on a cooling rack.

Strawberry Crossovers

I wanted to end the meal on sweet note and found this lovely recipe for pastry made with fresh strawberries. This blog has such a great set of pictures displaying each step I’ll go ahead and suggest reviewing that for detailed instructions on how to make the crossovers. I followed the recipe to the t, and the pastries came out sweet, but not too sweet. Everyone loved them! Enjoy them immediately – they were a bit soggy the next day after refrigeration so I wouldn’t make these in advance. The nearby Whole Foods carries fresh puff pastry dough from a local bakery, which I found much better tasting then the typical frozen puff pastry. Be careful to not let the dough get too warm and also to not let the strips get too thin. It’s handy to have scissors for your kitchen, too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thatsaagreat pizza!

Ever since I left Paris I've been dying to find another slice of delicious saag pizza (Oh how I long for my Pink Flamingo Pizza) I've been begging my parents to show me how to make saag properly so I could make it at home, but they always thought it was a silly idea. Alas, the beautiful day has come and my tummy is oh so satisfied with my beloved saag pizza! My parents were really stoked tonight since I rarely please them and even more so rarely please them by eating Indian food.

Saag Paneer Pizza

Tonight, mom and I teamed up. Pizza girl plus Indian mom yields amazing Indian fusion pizza!!! This recipe for saag paneer is stand alone - she's made this recipe for years - and you can easily prepare it and serve it with naan as eaten traditionally. Or you can have it my way, slathered in melted cheese.
  • Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp plus more Laal mirch
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh ginger
  • 2 10 oz frozen spinach packages, thawed
  • 2 T butter
  • Ready made paneer, cut into cubes (soak in water for ten minutes to soften)
  • Ghee
  • Asafoetida (in India known as Hing)
  • 2 8oz fresh balls of mozzarella

Makes 2 14-inch pizzas

Put a little oil in a medium sized pot on medium heat. Add half tsp turmeric, laal Mirch, garlic, and ginger. Fry a half cup chopped onion and stir occasionally. Then add the spinach and mix well.
Allow it to simmer, and ensure no more frozen pieces are present. Add in the butter and stir. Mix the contents of the pot with a hand blender and blend until smooth. Add one cup Indian yoghurt and stir well. Add the paneer and mix.

Separately prepare the Tarka. Heat ghee and add 5 little shakes of asafetida powder, pinch of laal mirch, just for a minute!

Pour Tarka immediately in. Mom scoops up the spinach afterward and then pours it back in so that all the the tarka mjxture absorbed and the yummy oil doesnt stay in the other pan.

Add a pinch of cumin to the spinach mixture. Stir. Remove from heat!

On a floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle or circle depending on your pizza pans. I prefer to cook on either a pan with holes to allow the crust to cook well or a pre-heated pizza stone. Otherwise especially with a saag pizza you may have some soggy saag pizza on your hands. Place crust in pan.

Grate or slice the mozzarella depending on your preference.

Brush dough with olive oil with a pastry brush. Cook at 425F for 8- 10 minute you want dough cooked. Don't worry, the crust will get crisp/golden when you put it back in with the toppings.

Remove the crust and spread palak paneer on both crusts in a manner that you would put tomato sauce.

Sprinkle cheese evenly on both pizzas. Cook for ten minutes and then broil for a few minutes. Keep a watchful eye so the pizza doesn't burn! My dad prefers a more golden look so I broil for a full 3 minutes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's About Thyme for Another Potato Gratin!

I have been preparing gratins quite frequently since my mother gifted me this for Christmas (And to think all this time I was making delicate slices by hand)!


Why do you need this? 4 Reasons: Scalloped Potatoes, Homemade Chips, Beet Carpaccio, Uniform vegetables that cook evenly!!! You know something is really amazing when a mom buys it for herself and her three daughters.

Typically, I prepare a gratin with a combination of whole milk and heavy cream, but today I wanted to make something a little lighter and a little easier on our lactose intolerant digestive systems. I found this without cream potato gratin recipe on High Ground Organics and decided to give it a go. I made a few alterations and this is the recipe I ended up preparing.

A Potato Gratin, Without Cream


- 2 c red onions, chopped (USE AN ONION CHOPPER! Another great invention!)
- 8 medium potatoes, I used russet but prefer Yukon Gold, sliced thinly (with your mandoline slicer!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- dried thyme
- ½ c Chardonnay
- 2 c mushroom broth
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 c grated Comté


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prep a ceramic or glass 7x11 dish by rubbing a garlic clove along the surface. Mince this clove and the other and set aside.

Lightly sauté onions in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another few minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has evaporated.

Meanwhile, heat broth over stove over medium heat with a lid. When hot, keep lid on, but turn off heat or keep on low until gratin is just about to go into the oven.

Spoon out about a third of the onions on the bottom of the gratin dish. Inside a large bowl, stir remainder of onions, sliced potatoes, thyme, grated cheese, salt and pepper until well mixed. Pour mixture into gratin dish over onions and spread as evenly as possible.

Using a spatula, press down on the potatoes to compress them (reminds me of the days I used to sit on my suitcase so I could zip it close). Pour in the hot broth very slowly to avoid spills or running over the side of the dish. The broth should cover the potatoes about 3/4 of the way up the dish.

Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top and place uncovered on the middle oven rack for an hour. The top layer will be golden and a little crispy, and the liquid should be absorbed.

Allow gratin to set for a few moments upon removing it from the oven before serving.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


What to do with all that leftover canned pumpkin from Thanksgiving!!? Somehow the day before Thanksgiving we are all running to get the last minute ingredients we forgot or decided to add to the menu. It always happens but some how we're all still surprised to see empty shelves where canned pumpkin or yams are supposed be. This year we ventured to four stores in Toronto before finding pumpkin, and when we did, boy, did we stock up! As you can imagine after making our Thanksgiving dinner pumpkin souffle, we had so much pumpkin left to go through.

Pecan Topped Pumpkin Pie in a Puff Pastry Crust

We had leftover puff pastry from making tarts earlier and decided to nix the traditional pie crust used for pumpkin pie. You can never go wrong with the recipe on the back of the can - I feel a little better about using organic canned pumpkin when I put the spices and vanilla in myself - as opposed to buying "Pumpkin Pie in a Can," when I don't have time to cook and scoop out a whole pumpkin. Just roll out the puff pastry a bit larger than your dish to leave enough room for the crust. Pour in your filling, brush the edges with an egg wash, and bake at 375F until set. I decorated the pie with chopped pecans immediately upon removing it from the oven. I think I throw nuts in everything - vegetarians can never get too much protein.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Mini-Loaf

And still there was more pumpkin! My sister's kitchen has all sorts of lovely tools and pans she's inherited from our mom, her mother-in-law, and my college apartment, ha! I love this baking pan that's just perfect for the holidays when you want to make a bunch of mini-loaves of pound cake or pumpkin bread to give to the mail persons (?), your children's teachers, coworkers, etc.

The pumpkin makes these little loaves so moist and the chocolate adds such a pleasantly, sweet touch, especially when fresh from the oven!

[be back with the recipe, soon]