Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


David’s been acting pretty smug recently. Not just the normal “I’m-a-math-genius-look-at-my-Putnam-score” smug, or the “I like to measure all my ingredients to the microgram” smug. It’s most likely for the following:

Not only has he gotten me into an Indian restaurant, he’s actually got me to the point where I will happily pick up take out and bring it home for dinner. You may remember a while ago when I made him an Indian welcome back dinner and nailed it, despite never having eaten at one before.

Well, I finally caved and let David take me to Ambar on Ludlow last year, so I could try some of what is arguably the best Indian in the city. I tried the lamb korma and dal makhani, and it was indeed fantastic. I grudgingly admitted to David that I'd been foolish to have held out for so long.

And since then, I’ve been stopping by Akash, an Indian restaurant downtown, nearly every other week. I’m slowly trying new things on the menu, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time. For instance, why wasn’t I told about paneer pakura — which is basically a deep fried cheese nugget — sooner?

erhmagerd fried cheese nuggets

I think Akash does most of their business during lunch, because when I pick up my takeout in the evening, it’s always quiet. Service is fast and efficient, and I usually stick with my now favorite dish, the lamb korma. It has tender lamb, a tangy cream sauce, raisins, and my favorite nut, cashews, which I always get ridiculously excited about when I find them in a forkful.

David bounces around a little, getting vegetarian dishes, as we also usually get one of their flatbreads.

David's saag vegetarian selection

Though the food is always delicious, we have noticed the spice level depends on who is in the kitchen, and now have settled on a “2” on the 1-6 scale to stay on the safe side. We’ve definitely come a long way from when I was hesitant to even set foot in an Indian restaurant. Now David just has to convince me to order something other that the lamb korma!

Fat chance, David.

Akash India on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 25, 2011

A welcome back dinner fit for a king:

fancy royal menus

your table is ready, your highness

"Ooooh!" I exclaimed, peering into the frozen case. "Look David, a pheasant!" David glanced back at me from the line at the cash register, skeptical. "Do you even know how to cook a pheasant? What are you going to do with it?"

"I don't know, something." I replied petulantly, yanking open the door to the case, and selecting one of the locally raised pheasants. As we left Findlay Market, I was still coming up with ideas on how to cook the bird. BBQ? Maybe some sort of coq au vin style dish? The possibilities!

Hey, what can I say. Some women impulse buy shoes, jewelry or purses. For me, it's poultry.

After arriving home, the pheasant took up residence in our freezer, where it remained for 5 months. Paralyzed by choice, I kept changing my mind about how and when to make it. Finally, though, I made up my mind that I was going to keep it simple and roast the pheasant with some herbes de provence. David's latest welcome back dinner presented the perfect opportunity.

After giving some thought to where I thought a pheasant might usually be served, I came up with the idea of a fancy medieval style feast. A few things come to mind when I envision such an event. The first is giant turkey legs.

It's very likely that I've been conditioned by years of Renaissance festivals to associate the two, and any historical inaccuracies aside, the turkey legs were always delicious. For an appetizer, I made goat cheese pate pinwheels, which are simple and require very little prep time.

Rosemary mashed potatoes and green beans amandine completed the main course. As for dessert, I eyed the fancy Valrhona chocolate in the cabinet and decided to use it to make chocopots.

I used a duck egg to make the chocopots as well as fancy cocoa

Speaking of chocopots, have you heard a certain Cincinnati blogger's serenade to the choco pot?

I generally have about two hours to get dinner ready before David arrives home from Michigan, which is usually around 8 PM. I leave work at 6. Cooking an entire 3 course meal with a cute but entirely useless cat as a sous chef can be challenging, to say the least. This past dinner required the use of the oven for four of the items, which called for a critical path chart. I also used a Gantt chart to further organize my thoughts on the order of prep.

graphs can be sensible and pretty

Monday, June 28, 2010

naan disclosure:

I have a confession to make. I’ve never actually eaten at an Indian restaurant. It’s one of David’s final frontiers, and he’s wearing me down gradually.

David went on a field trip to Chicago for work a few weeks ago, and I decided I wanted to make something new and different.

I was going to make Indian.

The difficulties were clear—I didn’t have all day to cook, so I’d have to prep some in advance, get up super early in the morning and use the slow cooker. And then there’s the teeny tiny detail that I had no idea what I was cooking was supposed to taste like.

“Even if it’s not authentic, I’m sure it will at least be edible.” I reasoned. “If not, Papa Johns delivers until 9:45.”

After a few hours of searching, I created the menu for the evening. Literally.

Welcome to "Nomvana"

I broke out the calligraphy set and attempted to write in sanskrit. I'm pretty sure that all I managed to write was gibberish consonants run together and forgot the vowels, but it's the thought that counts.

I found a nice recipe for lamb slow cooker curry with Serrano peppers for the main, paired with raita--a cucumber yogurt sauce to scale down the heat from the Serrano. For rice, I cooked basmati with spinach and a generous amount of cumin. Dessert was the result of my recent pudding shot experiments. And because if you are going to do something, you might as well go all out, I made naan.

I shopped for all my ingredients the day before, which included staring at the fresh ginger for an embarrassingly long time, trying to figure out how much I'd need. I had debated the night before about making naan and decided to go for it. I had never tried to make naan. After I tweeted a picture, apparently I'm not alone.

this is all you need!

I don't understand why, now that I've made it. It's kind of like making pancakes. You don't need a brick oven, or a crazy rigged terra cotta flower pot (I'm looking at you, Alton Brown), or anything expensive or weird like that.

I knew nothing about Indian cooking, and I made very passable naan. You can too! I found this recipe on Chow and followed it closely, because naan recipes are all over the place if you just search the internet. This one seems pretty standard. I've made it twice now, and the results are consistent.

makes me want some hummus real bad

I would definitely classify this as a great success. David said the flavors were great, and the raita was the best he'd had. I liked the spinach+cumin+basmati dish I invented. The curry was delicious and had just the right amount of heat. And even though I've never eaten at an Indian restaurant, I can assure you, our apartment certainly smelled like one for the next couple days.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Wonders of Findlay Market:

This post details a welcome back dinner I made for David, and my trip to Findlay market to get the all sorts of yummy items to make it. That said, it’s also about how to make yourself feel better after having spent $180 on cookware.

I’d read about Le Creuset pans. They seemed to be on just about every cooks Christmas wishlist, and I recalled the Brown Eyed Baker mentioning that some could be found at TJ Maxx.

Which is where I found myself on Friday afternoon. Looking at a $140.00 Le Creuset 5 ½ qt enameled cast iron French oven.

I did some research and did a quick twitter poll. Is this pot really worth it? I asked. How is it different than a crockpot?

“Well, you can put it in the oven. Oh, and it’s not a DEATHTRAP” Said Jeff.
“NO WAY! The last time I trusted something French I ended up gagging on Saison beer.” exclaimed 5chw4r7z.

In the interest of accuracy, I feel that I have to point out that Saison style beer is not technically from France, rather a French speaking region of Belgium.

5chw4r7z’s Franco-phobia aside, the overall endorsement was that this pot would probably continue to be used in the kitchen long after I was gone. A versatile pot, good for soups and stews and braising. A heavy pot—something I can attest to after carrying the thing around the store pondering my potential purchase.

My decision made, I plunked it on the counter with two small and one large Le Creuset potterie baking pans and lugged it all home.

David would be coming back into town from Michigan the following day. I was planning on making dinner for him anyway. And what’s the point of buying an expensive French oven if I was not going to use it? I resolved to make dinner in my new Le Creuset cookware. All my new cookware, including the baking dishes.

I stayed up that evening looking at photograzing and tastespotting until my stomach started rumbling. I needed a main dish, a side, an appetizer and a dessert.

I really wanted to try making rack of lamb, so that was what I decided to make as a main. David said he wanted eggplant. I find eggplant a very strange vegetable, but stumbled upon this recipe for a vegetable tian at the Gastronomer.

For dessert I knew I was headed to Findlay market, so it had to involve Dojo Gelato in some way. I found the perfect recipe from Smitten Kitchen for vanilla roasted pears, and knew Dojo’s Mexican vanilla gelato would be a great counterpart to the dish.

I loaded myself up with re-usable bags and headed off to Findlay Market, where I found everything I needed. First stop, Kroeger and Sons for two frenched lamb racks. I got two racks and also two lamb chops because they looked nice for $45. Then over to Madison’s Produce for fresh rosemary and thyme. I also saw some figs on the shelf next to the herbs, and grabbed those. I made the figs with this recipe for roasted figs with balsamic vinegar, leaving out the pine nuts.

Then over to some of the produce vendors for a bulb of garlic, an onion, a lemon, 5 pears, an eggplant and a zucchini. Back over to the other side of Findlay to Krause’s deli for cave aged gruyere. While I was there I saw some rosemary Manchego, a quarter pound of which also ended up in my grocery bag.

Then back again to the other side of Findlay, where I picked up two bottles of wine from Market wines. Going around the front, I had my last two stops—the Colonel for spices, (a blend of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, appropriately named “Simon and Garfunkel” and one large, fragrant vanilla bean) and Dojo for gelato.

I ended up with two pints of gelato with two different flavors in each. Gingersnap and Mexican vanilla in one pint, and rose petal pistachio and chocolate in the other.

My shopping done, I brought my now very heavy bag back to the apartment and began the prep work. David got back a little early, so nothing was cooked, just prepped and in the fridge, but it all worked out. We seared the lamb well after covering it in herbs and roasted it in the oven until the internal temperature reached approximately 130 degrees.

I’d say the star of the evening was the tian. With the gruyere cheese on top of the eggplant and zucchini and the flavor from the sautéed onion, garlic and herbs, this is a dish that we will be making again soon. It looks very impressive in the pan and is incredibly easy to cook. I can imagine many variations of this as different vegetables come into season.

Kitty was not much help, but he sure looked cute

I really enjoy going to Findlay Market. People are friendly and cheerful, vendors take the time to have conversations with their customers and give their recommendations (David and I spent a good 45 minutes with the Colonel getting an impromptu spice education on a Saturday morning) and I almost always find something new and interesting.

If you have not been, go! Christmas is coming up. Don’t get your standing rib roast or holiday meal supplies from the Grocery store this year. Head down to Findlay and see what I mean.