Monday, April 28, 2008


I have been to two Indian restaurant lunch buffets in the last week, and really, I could go every day.

The first one was at Temptations, on Washtenaw in Ypsi. The top picture is of Christi's artfully arranged plate at Temptations.

Here's what Temptations had at their buffet:

Onion Bhajii (spiced fried onion rings),

Vegetable pakoras,

Tandoori Chicken

Murg Makhani (butter chicken)

Vegetable Chettinadu

Channa Masala

lemon rice and plain basmati rice

and, naan

Also, a few assorted types of chutney, and rice pudding

All-you-can-eat, for about $8.50. Everything was good, although the Vegetable chettinadu was clearly made of frozen mixed vegetables. And the health inspector came in and stuck a thermometer in various dishes, which was mildly disconcerting, although everthing must have been ok, because we did not have any ill effects afterward. Except wanting to take a nap.

Then, I went to Raja Rani, on the corner of Division and William, in Ann Arbor. The second picture down is my plate, and the third down is Nick's. Also for about $8.50, and also all ya can eat, when I went they had:

Vegetable pakoras

Tandoori chicken

Chicken Tikka masala

Chicken Makhni

Palak paneer (spinach with cheese cubes)

Pakora curry (vegatable dumplings cooked in yogurt)

Mushroom mataar

Channa chatt (spicy, fresh, cold chickpea salad/relish)

carrot halwa, rice pudding


best chai ever

MMMMmmmmm. Everything was absolutely delicious. I can't even pick a favorite, but the the
pakora curry and channa chatt were new to me and soo good. And I could drink that chai all day. The buffet is the way to go, because you can try so many things. I'm not sure if they have it on weekends, but I'll find out. I grabbed a menu, and regular entrees range from 8 bucks for all vegetarian entrees to 12.50 for Tandoori shrimp. The menu is not as extensive as Temptations, but judging the buffet choices only, Raja Rani gets the edge. I'll have to go back to Temptations before I can do a more thorough analysis.

When I got back from Temptations, I made naan (bottom pic). My dear friend Christi hipped me to this recipe. I am too lazy to type it, but you can find it at Just type in "naan". The recipe I used is the one submitted by "mic". It is good and easy, and makes about 30 (smallish) pieces of naan! This led to some unorthodox naan uses, including naan with jam, and naan-dogs. And Jules learned a new word.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mrs. Wakefield rocks my world

Guess what Mrs. Wakefield invented in the 1930's? Thats right --the chocolate chip cookie. It is her inspired recipe that is on the back of every package of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips. And while I don't usually use Tollhouse chocolate chips (sorry), I always use that recipe because it is the best. That is not opinion, it's fact. By the way, if you don't have any eggs in the house (or if you are a vegan, or otherwise don't eat eggs), just replace the two eggs in the recipe with one really well mashed banana. I know, it sounds disgusting, but truly it is delicious. Actually, you can replace the eggs with banana in other cookies. Just use the ratio of 1/2 banana: 1 egg. It really works, and it really doesn't make the whole thing taste banana-y. It actually makes cookies really chewy and moist, and sort of caramalized on the bottoms. Mmmmm. It works really well in oatmeal cookies. You should try it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chicken Maxine -- make it today

My dear mother made this for us and it was deelicious. It is called "Chicken Maxine" after my great aunt Maxine. And here is the recipe along with my mom's lovely memories of Maxine herself:

Chicken Maxine
3 or 4 large chicken breasts (with skin on)salt & pepper2 tablespoons butter1/4 cup sherry wine2 pkgs frozen broccoli spears2 cans cream of chicken soup1 cup mayonnaisejuice of 1 lemon2 cups grated cheddar cheesebuttered cracker crumbs*====== Place chicken breasts in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter, and pour wine over all. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until chicken falls from bones. Cook broccoli according to package directions, undercooking by about 2 minutes; drain well in colander. Butter a 3-quart (or 2 smaller) casserole. Line bottom of casserole with broccoli. Skin and bone chicken and tear into good-sized hunks. Place chicken on top of broccoli. Mix together the undiluted soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice (no other liquid), and pour over chicken. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Sprinkle buttered crumbs over cheese, cover casserole with lid or foil, and bake in a 325 oven for 30-45 minutes, or until it is bubbly. This can be made a day ahead, refrigerated at once before baking, and baked as needed. Serves 6 ("or 3 like us", said Maxine). *to make buttered cracker crumbs: Put about 18-20 saltine cracker squares into a plastic bag. Roll with a rolling pin to make fine crumbs. Melt 3 tablespoons butter, stir crumbs into butter until all are covered. This can be made in larger quantities and stored in a covered jar in the refrigerator for instant use.===Mary's note: This recipe is from my aunt, Maxine DeWitt. She was married to my mother's big brother, Bob (whom my mother called Brother). Maxine was my most glamorous relative--beautiful, with black hair and brown eyes and always the coolest glasses. She was a wonderful cook. She and Uncle Bob lived in a big house in Highland Park, a beautiful tree-lined town within Dallas, Texas. Uncle Bob looked and sounded like Big Daddy--huge, with a deep bass Southern voice. He always drove a big Cadillac (my favorite one was pink), and he gave us silver dollars. Maxine was elegant and witty and I can still hear her rich warm voice calling us "darling".

Ode to a grocery store

I have a problem. I go grocery shopping pretty much every day. Look at my pantry pictures for a glimpe into my descent into ingredient madness. Here's the problem- I try to plan ahead, but there is really no way to predict on, say, a Friday, what I'm going to want to make, much less eat, the following Tuesday. So I buy a bunch of stuff, which I am then not in the mood for later. So I have to buy more. The other problem I have is the fantasy of things which I may possibly make at some indeterminate time in the future. This is why I have twelve different kinds of pasta, five kinds of flour, and such esoteric delicacies as "kelp powder". Alas, even with a pantry stuffed to the gills, nothing seems to add up to anything, thus requiring additional trips to the store. Oh well. Today I went to one of my favorite grocery stores for, I swear, orange bell peppers AND THAT IS IT. I wrote a poem about the experience when I got home. I call it:
Oh, Trader Joe, Why Do You Seduce Me With Your Adorable Signs, Then Take All My Money?
I went for orange bell peppers
and I found organic cheese,
Lovely, dainty haricot verts
ready for deep freeze,
Bars of Belgian chocolate
weighing in a o'er a pound,
Korma sauce and whole trimmed leeks
were among the goods I found,
A quart of Ben and Jerry's
and chocolate croissants too,
Ten types of rice -jasmine, basmati, wild,
to name a few,
Fire roasted peppers
for a dollar ninety-nine,
sweet potato french fries
that were looking mighty fine,
Tahitian vanilla, carne asada-
they leave my heart a-flutter,
tiny cupcakes, micro-greens,
and - plugra (that's butter)
It's time to go, dear Trader Joe,
Though I'll be back I must confess,
I'm out the door with so much more,
And yet - a hundred dollars less.

I really need to stop making cookies

When I got around to taking pictures of these cookies, I found only one lonely cookie left in the jar. It really wasn't even the prettiest one, because the other ones had sparkly turbinado sugar sprinkled on top. So I put it on my prettiest plate to dress it up a little. Oh well. These cookies are calle Sparkled Ginger Cookies, and they are from the cookbook "Vegan with a Vengence" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This is an excellent cookbook, even if you are not a vegan or even a vegetarian. Everything I've made from it has been good. Don't be afraid --check it out! Plus, you have to admire a cookbook that has a whole chapter on cupcakes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thai salad, and Why you should not buy Organic Apples from Krogers

Well, I had some Pad Thai ingredients sitting in the fridge, so I made a salad. It was good. Basically, I just mixed lettuce, and the leftover julienned veggies, and chopped peanuts with a dressing I made out of Pad Thai sauce and oil (1 tsp each of Tamarind concentrate and sugar, 1/4 tsp fish sauce, and approximately 1 Tbs veg oil --this is enough for one smallish salad.) You know what would have made it better? Grilled shrimp, or tofu, or chicken or something. How about shredded rotisserie chicken --easy, no?

And another thing -- Don't buy bags of organic apples from Krogers. Every single apple in the bag had multiple bruises. I should have taken them and demanded a refund, but I am just too lazy. So I chopped them up and made applesauce, kindof. When life gives you crappy apples, chop them up and make some sort of stewed apple concoction that you then try to pass off to your children as applesauce. Actually, they liked it.

Why are Afternoon Delight's muffins so good?

Really, how do they make those muffins? Allow me to sing the praises - Afternoon Delight (on the corner of 5th and Liberty) has awesome muffins that are dense and whole-wheaty without tasting too "healthy". So, I tried to recreate them, and while these will not keep me from visiting Afternoon Delight for delicious muffins, they are still pretty good. And they have fiber- Bonus !

Oat-bran Blueberry Muffins:
1/3 c oat bran
1/4 c milk
1/2 c vanilla yogurt
6 Tbs melted butter
1 egg
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c + 2 Tbs sugar
1 c blueberries (I used frozen)
raw sugar (completely optional)

1. Mix oat bran with milk and let soak for a few minutes. I don't know if this does anything, but I feel like it might keep the oatbran from tasting too dry. (If you don't have oatbran, I'm sure everything would work out fine if you just used 1/3 c more whole wheat flour and skipped this step. But know this --at Hillers they have little tubs of oatbran, kindof over by the produce. It's probably about a cup worth, for something like 79 cents. So if you get some, you can add it to baked goods and oatmeal, to up the fiber content, if you care about that sort of thing.)

2. Add the yogurt, butter, and egg to the milk mixture, and stir/mix until all is incorporated.

3. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Then mix in the bluberries.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix until there are no huge pockets of dry flour, but do not fret about lumps - overbeaten muffins are tough (and not in a good way)

5. Put into muffin tin (with little paper cups) and sprinkle the tops with raw sugar, or regular, or none.

6. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees farenheit (if you use fresh berries, probably more like 20 min)

P.S. Somebody was watching me make these and she shreiked for "boo boos" when she saw the blueberries, so that is a picture of her enjoying boo boos whilst I finished the muffins

Monday, April 14, 2008

"I'm hungry for dessert"

Somebody (not me) declared she was "hungry for dessert" -- I think the implication was that she was not hungry for an apple, more dinner, etc. Anyway, she suggested ice cream with strawberries, so that is what we had, but I tarted the strawberries up just to be fancy.

Strawberry sauce:
1 cup chopped strawberries -I think frozen would work fine too
2-3 Tbs sugar or more -depends on strawberry quality -ours was poor
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 tsp cornstarch

1. Put strawberries, sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and salt into a small saucepan over med-high heat, add maybe 1/3 cup water, cook for a few minutes until strawberries start to break down, and mixture starts to bubble
2. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with a little bit of water, until it makes a little paste, of pourable consistency
3. Pour cornstarch mixture into strawberry mixture and cook a couple minutes more until thick
4. Let it cool a couple minutes, then pour over ice cream and serve to people who have room in the dessert compartment of their stomach

Falafel folly

Here is what we had tonight: falafel (from "fantastic world foods" mix), plus hummus and pita from Exotic Bakery, and delicious pilaf made by mi madre, plus some curried potatoes that were left over from the other day - good anyway. Also, I made some za'tar and tahini dressing. It was all pretty good, although the falafel would have been better if I had fried it. I baked it instead, as I was trying to atone for the 10 pieces of peanut butter chocolate bars I already ate today. Anyway, even Cal ate the falafel, albeit doused with ketchup.

Here's the Za'tar and Tahini dressing recipe:
2 Tbs tahini
1 teaspoon za'tar (middle eastern spice mix)
half a lemon
2 Tbs or more of olive oil

Whisk all together, add more oil and or lemon until the taste/consistency is on

Don't be a tofu-phobe

I recently bought two pounds of tofu, so now I have to cook it. Many people fear tofu, including people in my own household. But tofu is good, good for you, and cheap, and so I keep persisting. Here is a new creation, with which I am very much pleased:
Glazed Tofu
1. First, make sure you have firm or extra-firm tofu, packed in water, not the vacuum packed silken tofu.
2. Take the tofu out of the package and rinse it, to remove any sourness from the water. If you are not using all the tofu, put the remainder in a container and cover with fresh water and refrigerate --change the water every day until you use the tofu (I know this seems weird)
3. Now, press your tofu. Fold up some paper towels and put them on a plate, then put the tofu pieces on (you can slice them in two width-wise to make this go faster). Now put more paper towels on top, then a cutting board and a pan, bowl, couple of cans, or what-ev. Let it sit for half an hour, flip the pieces, then press for another half hour. (You don't have to press the tofu, but it makes the texture denser, and thus, more appealing, at least to me)
4. Now, in a shallow dish or pie plate, mix 3-4 Tbs each: dark brown sugar, soy sauce, sherry(*Note: This is for 1/2 pound of tofu, which is enough for two people probably. If you use more tofu, adjust the marinade accordingly!).
5. Marinate the tofu in this mixture about 3-5 minutes per side. Meanwhile heat a large flat skillet.
6. Now, put the tofu in the pan --save the marinade for pete's sake, don't throw it out.
7. Cook the tofu about 2 minutes, then flip and add the marinade to the pan, cook 2-3 minutes more.
8. Take the tofu out, and squeeze half a lime into the pan. Let this cook for another minute or so, until somewhat syrupy. Now pour it over the tofu.
9. Eat it over rice, duh.

Ross makes chocolate peanut butter bars

Ross made these chocolate peanut butter bars from Nigella's Domestic Goddess cookbook. They were like DIY reeses peanut butter cups. Peanut butter+butter+sugar+ chocolate=delicious.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hooray for Pad Thai!

I made pad thai tonight, and finally got the flavor right. Here is the key: don't fear the fish sauce. When you open it, it is stinky, but when used correctly, it is good (and not stinky)! I had to make the sauce twice cause the first time I put half fish sauce and half soy sauce, but I could tell it was not going to taste right, so I bit the bullet and used all fish sauce, and it tasted right to us.
Here is the recipe:
2-3 carrots, julienned
3 radishes, julienned
half a cucumber, julienned
3 green onions, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
10 oz raw shrimp
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
8 oz dried rice sticks
3 Tbs fish sauce
3 Tbs tamarind concentrate
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp chopped cilantro (I used frozen)
1 Tbs oil
1 Tbs garlic-chili sauce
1 lime, sliced
1.first make the sauce: add the fish sauce, sugar, tamarind concentrate, and cilantro; set aside
2. Now the noodles: boil some water, pour it over the noodles, and soak noodles for about five minutes. Then drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again
3. Meanwhile, stirfry the shrimp until cooked through, remove and set aside. Wipe out the wok, and add the eggs, cook like scrambled eggs, remove.
4. Add oil, and heat over med-high, then add the chili-garlic sauce, and cook for 1 minute. Add the noodles, the sauce, and the carrots, stir around and cook for a couple minutes.
5. Add the shrimp, eggs, radishes, cucumbers, green onions, and peanuts, mix well.
6. Garnish with lime slices, add hot sauce or sriracha (rooster) sauce if you want it spicier.
7. Ta dah! enjoy

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Best hummus on Earth and addictive green bean recipe

The picture doesn't really do it justice, but this really is the best hummus, atop some equally delicious pita, both of which I got from the fantabulous restaurant/take out down the street, Exotic Bakery. The name doesn't really describe it, it has delicious Syrian food. Hummus, falafel, lebne, etc. plus lots of pastries, and the pita they get from a bakery in Dearborn, so it's pretty local. Everything is good, and the hummus beats the pants off the stuff in most grocery stores. They also have these awesome green beans, which I recreated in my own kitchen tonight. Here is how I made them:

1 lb green beans
1/2 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil (don't skimp here)
couple fat pinches sugar
salt and pepper to taste
half a lemon

Ok, it looks like a lot of olive oil, but trust me. Heat the olive oil in a big pan. Add the onions an cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the green beans, cook a few more minute, then the garlic, and cook yet a few more minutes. Now add the tomatoes, juice and all, and the sugar. Cook over fairly low heat for about 35 minutes, or until the green beans are soft, and almost starting to fall apart. You are not looking for crunch here. It should all be melded together, stewing in delicious olive oil. Mmmmm. Trust me and make it, it is like crack. You'll keep going back to fridge to sneak more bites, and it is even better the next day.

Holla for Challah

Bask in beauty of my gorgeous challah. These babies called for eight egg yokes, which I happened to have on hand, left over from a mistake with the initially egg separating during the evening of the chocolate mousse cake. Anyway, this challah was delicioso, I got the recipe from my "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook". That's right, Martha Stewart. I've got nothing but love for Martha, and if I had unlimited time and money, I'd probably make a stab at some of her crafts too. Sometimes obsessive precision is appealing.
Well, the bread was good, what else can I say?

The chinese grocery store

I love the chinese grocery store down the street from me. First of all, I love it because it has all manner of exotic (to me) ingredients, and second of all, I love it because it is cheap. Look at all the food I got (bottom picture), for about nine dollars. You can't tell from the picture, but that is two pounds of tofu, for a mere two dollars, my friend. That is about half what it costs at Krogers.

Plus, I got dried shitake mushrooms, fresh rice noodles that I plan to attempt pad thai with, jasmine tea, and a pound of the most adorable baby bok choi you ever did see. On the reciept they were listed as "baby bok choi junior", I'm guessing because they were so dang tiny! You can see how small they were, from the picture on the left. No bigger than your thumb! Ok, your palm maybe.
The top picture is the vaguely-asian dinner I made with the bok choi. It was salmon, grilled by the hus, the bok choi, stirfried with soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, s & p. Also, rice which I cooked in my rice cooker, and for once followed the advice I read once to rinse the rice, and it really did make it perfect. What a fool I've been all these years. It was all good, the girls really liked the rice, and I had to strip the baby after dinner lest she track rice throughout the house --her clothes were absolutely caked.

Chocolate mousse cake to soothe the soul

Ok I've been taking pictures of food for a while, so I have a bunch that I can wax eloquent about.

Above is a picture of the most fabulous chocolate mousse cake that the hus made the other day. It was very involved, and he had to use a "bain marie" etc and like a dozen eggs, and was freakin delicious. He got the recipe from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a domestic goddess" -- I have a picture of him in an apron looking at the cookbook, but he begs me not to post it. Anyway, the recipe is basically just for chocolate mousse, but then you bake it. In other words, if you don't bake it, you can just eat it in a bowl.
Well, I am new to this blogging so I cannot figure out how to post multiple pictures throughout the post, so I guess this post is all about the mousse cake.