Friday, February 19, 2016

Vegetable Samosas

So I love Indian food. I haven't always been familiar with it and honestly only since meeting my husband have I truly grown to love it. (Always liked it just had to deal with someone who thought it all tasted the same, would make the house smell and the flavour from one thing gets into everything else...*sigh* )

Anyways as husband explains it - England is like the home of Indian food (I don't get it but that's what I'm told) and despite this fact when we visited England we actually never went out for Indian food.  We do have some favourite Indian food spots here in the city and Samosas have always been one of the things I love so when I came across this recipe in Canadian Living The Ultimate Cookbook I was very excited and knew I had to try making it. 

These little pastry filled jewels are not hard by any imagination but they are a time consuming process. The entire thing took me well a long time (I was tag teaming two recipes) but I would say in total it would be a good hours worth of work so next time I would double the recipe and make more of them for probably not that much more time.   The most time consuming part of it was the filling of the Samosas so I figure if I can prepare everything next time and rope in some help for that I should be good to go.  The pastry is very similar to making a puff pastry so I treated it like that and had a good result. I learned the very important part of making sure the dough is sealed ALL the way around. But other than that this was a big success - so much so I didn't get many pictures and the monkey managed to try and sneak some every day for lunch and then would grab them out of the fridge for a snack - they didn't last long at all! I served these with the two chutneys I made (see recipes here) as opposed to the Cilantro Chutney in the book. 

The last point I'll make here is about kitchen equipment - buy thermometers and use them appropriately.  I have 4 of them:
  1. Instant read (for checking water temps when baking or meats like chicken or steak);
  2. Oven/ BBQ safe one (the probe goes into the meat and then the read out is on the side of the oven or BBQ - good for meats that have longer cook times (roasts, chicken, turkey) I always use them to make sure my meats are done and not over done;
  3. Candy thermometer - because I do with work sugars and such - I know I can use this in oil but because it's glass I don't like using it there and prefer the one that has the metal base for deep frying; and,
  4. Deep Fry thermometer - now I figure I can use my candy one in the fryer but the bottoms and entire thing is set up differently so I like using them for their specific purposes. 

Vegetable Samosas
Vegetable Samosas
Dough2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup milk
Filling2 cups diced peeled potatoes (about 3 medium sized)
1/2 cup diced carrots (about 1 medium)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 tspCumin Seeds
1 tspBrown Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander sees
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 onion chopped (I diced)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Vegetable oil for deep frying

  1. In a bowl with a pastry blender (or food processor which I don't like) combine flour, cumin seeds and salt; pulse or cut in butter until in fine crumbs. Stir in milk until ball beings to form. Press into ditch, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  2. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes and carrots until tender (about 10 min) drain.
  3. While potatoes and carrots are cooking, in large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook fennel, cumin and mustard seeds; turmeric coriander and fenugreek seeds; and cayenne pepper just until cumin seeds begin to pop (about 1 min0
  4. Add onion, garlic, ginger and salt; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in potatoes mixture and peas.  Add lemon juice and cilantro - stir to combine well and let cool. 
  5. Cut dough into 12 pieces; form each into a flat round. On floured surface roll out each piece into 6-inch circle; cut in half. (I just rolled out the entire sheet and used a large cookie cutter to make circles which I then cut in half - this made smaller samosas and more of them).  
  6. Working with 1 piece at a time, moisten half of the cut edge with water. Form cone shape by overlapping edges by 1/4 inch (Think of making what looks like a sugar cone - making sure the bottom of the cone is sealed.)
  7. Fill with 1 tbsp potato mixture (I just filled with as much as i could fit and still close the dough). Moisten top inside edges of the pastry; press to seal - make sure ALL SEAMS ARE SEALED. 
  8. Trim jagged edges of pastry; crimp edge with fork. 
  9. Pour enough oil into deep saucepan or pot to come 2 inches up the side (I just use my wonderful deep fryer). Heat oil until 350F (again I would buy a deep-fryer thermometer - I have about 4 different kinds of thermometers in my kitchen totally worth it). 
  10. Work in batches, deep-frying the samosas, turning often until golden brown (about 4 minutes per bath; I would rescue them from the oil and then onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet. 
  11. If you prefer to bake these (why? I'm mean just why?) 425F for 15 minutes).

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fettuccine Alfredo

So I have made pasta before - nothing new right?  Well yes and no - I am still counting this for the 366 challenge as something I've never made before because everything in this meal was done from scratch.  

So I have to admit that I am a HUGE lover of Fettuccine Alfredo (well more so the Alfredo sauce than the actual Fettuccine - I usually opt too have cheese filled ravioli with Alfredo sauce on top ... yes I love cheese!)

In any event this week was the husband's birthday so I figured I would give him the option of what he wanted to have for supper on his birthday.  I sent him a list of the things I had been planning or thinking of making and his response was simple - pasta, with Alfredo sauce and maybe some chicken. Now I will totally admit - that I contemplated making the stuff from the box and jar - but since I had a new pasta recipe on my list I figured why not make this into something that will fit into my challenge while I'm at it.   

Fettuccine Alfredo with herb roasted Chicken
I then thought about the Alfredo sauce and that it probably wasn't too hard. OMG I was so right - the sauce has minimal ingredients by chance I had at the house in any event so I set off.  Mind you that I still have a pasta machine that I have to crank by hand (OMG just FYI - a  lot of work - I would love to get the attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer but for now I'll just keep working out my arms lol). 

Keeping in mind that I had several things on the go I made the pasta first - I haven't really let my pasta to have the chance to rest before and I wanted to try this recipe entirely as directed. After I finished the pasta and my preparation for chicken tikka to be served another night I got together my mis en place for the Alfredo Sauce, seasoned the chicken, pre-heated the oven and off I went. 

I rolled most of my pasta before starting my chicken on the stove and then went back to finishing the pasta.  I then made the sauce before I boiled the pasta since the fresh pasta doesn't take that long to cook. The end result was very delicious and made the birthday boy very happy :D  

I will also say that this was by far my favourite pasta recipe so I will likely keep it as my stand by. 

Alfredo Sauce
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup heavy cream (in Canada I used 18% cream as I find that if I used whipping cream ti leaves a funny taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a medium sauce pan. Once the butter is melted add the heavy cream and mix well. 
  2. I then mashed up and added in the 2 cloves of roasted garlic (I do a whole head of garlic and leave them in my fridge as they are usually a great addition to a recipe).
  3. I then added the cheeses and mixed/whisked well until all of the cheese was melted. Most recipes only call for the parmigiano-reggiano cheese which is completely fine. However because we both love cheese so much I used both cheeses and frankly didn't actually measure them.  I just eye-balled the amount of cheese.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. I found because of the cheeses and the salted butter I used I didn't need too much salt but it definitely needed the hit of pepper. 
For the Chicken - honestly I rubbed it down well in salt and pepper, some basil and herbes de provence. I then put the chicken into a searing hot pan that had been coated in oil (I did use olive oil - bad choice as it has a low smoke point which means the oven did get a little smoky as I put the chicken in to cook through - next time I would use vegetable oil).  I turned the chicken once to get a nice sear and golden colour on both sides before putting it into the oven. 

Anne Burrel's All Purpose Pasta Dough 
1 pound all-purpose flour (honestly - I only measure flour now thanks to Alton Brown - buy a digital scale they aren't that expensive but if you don't have one about 3 3/4 cups)
4 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 tbsp water
  1. Measure the water and add a good large pinch of salt and stir. Set aside. Measure the flour and then place onto counter in a mound. 
  2. Make a well (hole) in the centre.  Make sure the well is large enough to accommodate all of the other wet ingredients.  Now most recipes say to crack the eggs and add them and the liquid ingredients into the well, but I find I have issues making sure my eggs are mixed properly - so I start by whisking the eggs really well in a bowl, then whisk in the oil and salt water once the eggs are thoroughly mixed.  I then pour this mixture into the well. 
  3. Starting incorporating the flour from around the edge of the well until the mixture is less liquid and more solid. I then use my hands to start mixing it all together working all the flour into a dough. 
  4. Once the dough is a fully combined mixture I start to knead - 10 minutes of picturing someone I'm not very found of seems to do the trick for kneading. Chef Anne's indicates it is important to not tear the dough but to stretch the dough. 
  5. Once kneaded wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour. 
  6. After the dough is done resting cut into quarters - start working with one quarter and keep the rest of the dough covered with plastic. I make a disk as flat as I can and then run it through the pasta maker.  Sprinkle flour over the inside and fold it into thirds - run it through again on the largest setting. Once I have the shape and size I'm going for I start to work the dough through the smaller dials. (For this one I went to the second smallest setting). 
  7. I store the long sheets on a sheet pan that has a tea towel that has been lightly sprinkled with flour. I then sprinkle flour between the lawyers of dough as I fold the dough while I work through rolling out the rest.  I also cover the entire thing with another tea towel. 
  8. Once all of the pasta is rolled I then cut into strips using the pasta maker. Next time it would have been wise to cut the long sheets into the proper length but live and learn. 
  9. Cook the pasta in well salted boiling water for about 3 minutes (starts to float).  Drain and toss with the pasta sauce. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

When you can consider a failure a success

I think I'm pretty normal (pause wait for the fits of laughter to subside) but no really I think that generally speaking I'm fairly normal in terms of my fears, thoughts and feelings.

I've said its before and I will say it again - I come across as a person with a lot of confidence but usually I'm shaking in my boots waiting for the moment I can crawl back into a hiding spot and cry - like honestly I am terrified of failure and particularly public failure. It is one of the reasons why being public about my challenge is very scary - I'm terrified to fail and to fail publicly. However, I need to find a way to get over that in life. 

In any event one of the things that has been driving me in life has been the desire to compete on MasterChef Canada - I think I could and I have also been told that I could probably do this by several people. However, there have been vocal people (my parents) who have actually said that they didn't think I could do this because I depend too much on recipes and I don't have enough creativity or knowledge on my own. (Don't even get me started on that... I do follow a recipe very closely the first time I am making something from a recipe or when I am baking). 

My husband - who is my biggest supporter - thinks I could kick ass but also doesn't think I am ready yet.  He says I'm not ready because I need to start working on some of the challenge type things they have you focus on during the show and develop some of my other skills. So one of the things he said I should start trying is having a time limit and no recipe and then thinking on my feet about what to make. So that is exactly what I did! 

I set myself a 30 minute time limit and had no plan to start. So I looked in the fridge - I had a whole chicken, head of cauliflower and potatoes.  So I knew I wanted to do a roasted cauliflower puree, potatoes and chicken breasts. 

I started with the roast cauliflower - I cut down the head into florets and spread them on a cookie sheet. I found some indian spices that were speaking to me and put that in some olive oil and then tossed the cauliflower in the oil and spices. I threw them in the oven at 350F to roast. 

I started in on the potatoes - peeling, cutting into small chunks and into well salted boiling water. 

I then broke down the chicken - cutting off the wings and legs followed by the breasts. I used a cast iron ban with hot oil before putting the well seasoned chicken breasts into the pan, to add flavour I used lemon and orange juice over the chicken with some garlic to flavour the chicken.

Now I definitely went over the 30 minutes I had set out for myself and that largely had to do with my plan.  I should have started with the chicken and then worked my way to potatoes and then cauliflower. Shortening the cooking time by cutting the potatoes smaller and turning up the heat on the oven (I could have also skipped cutting up the cauliflower and done slices of the head because they were being pureed anyways). I wanted some veggies so I marinated onions and carrot in some olive oil with some salt and pepper.  

The food in and of itself tasted amazing. However, when plating I realized that I had two mashed/pureed items on the plate and I should have left something whole to give different textures.  So while a failure in terms of textures on the plate and having it poorly composed - the food itself was amazing.