Friday, February 10, 2012

Artisanal Food Has Moved!

Please visit my new site at WordPress. See you there!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala with homemade Naan and Raita


We love Indian food around here. Well, we recently love Indian food around here. My husband has come to love spicy food over the past months and with that a love of Asian food, including Indian.

The weekly conversation in our house usually goes something like this,
me "Honey, what would you like to eat for dinners this week."
Michael "I don't care, whatever you make will be great."
me "come on, PLEASE help me out. I hate planning a menu! Just tell me what to cook!"
Michael "silence"

Our 2012 conversation:

me "Any idea what you want me to cook this week?"
Michael "Chicken Tikka Masala and naan"

I'm pretty sure that he would request this meal weekly if it wasn't for how much he complains about his stomach hurting after eating it. He always insists on eating seconds and thirds, even though he says one serving is plenty. I guess that says enough as to how good this dish is. And the best part.. it's made in the SLOW COOKER! There are a lot of spices, but don't let that freak you out. Throw everything in at breakfast, and dinner is ready when you are.

Don't be intimidated by making your own naan. Baking with yeast is not as scary as everyone thinks it is. Make sure the water is not too cold and not too hot, a little warmer than body temperature. The food processor does most of the work in this recipe. Give it a try. You will be so proud of yourself when you are serving fresh naan, right out of your oven.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from

Serves 4

Chicken Marinade

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne- you can decrease this if you don't like your food spicy or add more if you want a kick
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

6-8 chicken thighs (skin on, bone-in)

Mix ingredients, except chicken, in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss with the marinade, cover and place in the fridge overnight.

1 can 28 oz. diced tomatoes
1 can 5.5 oz tomato paste (or if you have a 7oz jar, just use the whole thing. Nothing worse than have a tiny bit left in the jar!)
2 inches fresh ginger, grated (store your ginger in the freezer and it will be super easy to grate)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp tikka paste (I couldn't find this at Whole Foods, but guess who did?? Stop & Shop!)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried coriander

1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup cream- the original recipe calls for 1 cup, so if you don't care about fat or calories, add it all! I'm sure it tastes mighty good that way too.
1/4 cup tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Turn your oven to broil. Put chicken on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and place under the broiler about 6-10 inches from the heating element and broil on each side about 10 minutes, until the chicken gets all golden and charred on the edges.

While the chicken is broiling, in a pan over medium high heat, add two teaspoons of oil. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few more minutes. Place the mixture into your crockpot. To that, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garam masala, tikka paste, cumin, chili powder and coriander. Stir together. When the chicken is done broiling, add them straight to the slow cooker and stir everything together. Slow cook on low 6-8 hours.

Before serving stir in 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala and salt if needs it. Then stir in the cream and fresh cilantro. Serve with some white rice (Basmati would be traditional- Whole Foods also makes a white rice that is frozen and ready to heat just like the brown rice in my Kale Fried Rice post), naan and raita.


Naan (Indian flat bread)
adapted from "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman

makes 12 naan

2 tsp active yeast
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour- plus flour for rolling out dough
1 egg
2 tsp kosher salt
canola oil for greasing bowl
4 tbsp butter or vegan butter, melted but still warm

Stir together yeast and 1/2 cup warm water (warmer than body temperature, around 100 degrees) in a liquid measuring cup with a spout. Once the yeast starts to bloom (which means to get foamy). Add in the milk, yogurt and sugar.

In a food processor, combine flour, egg and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Turn machine on and add the yeast liquid through the feed tube. Process for 30 seconds adding another 1 cup of water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is a little sticky to the touch.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a few seconds, until it forms a smooth round ball. Lightly grease a large bowl and place dough in and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm/sunny spot. Let rise, until doubled in size. About 1-2 hours.

Put either a pizza stone, or if you don't have one, a baking sheet on the bottom rack, set at the lowest position in the oven. Heat oven to 500. Punch dough down and on a well floured surface, roll ball out into a long snake. Tear or cut into 12 equal size pieces and roll into little balls. Let them rest, covered with a damp towel for 10 minutes.

Roll out each piece to an oval, about 8 x 4 inches. I don't even use a rolling pin. I just pull the piece into an oval roughly that size. The instructions at this point say to hold the oval in two hands and tug with one hand to shape into a teardrop. Easier said than done, but I don't think it really matters what shape these things are. Place naan on the baking stone. Cook on one side for 3 minutes than flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes. If the bread puffs up, I press the air out of then when I flip them.

Once they come out, keep them wrapped in a dish towel to stay warm. Once all are cooked, brush with the melted butter and a sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

If you don't want to cook all 12, refrigerate the remaining balls, wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in a baggie. Cook them as you want. I like making fresh naan to go with with the Tikka Masala leftovers.

Raita (cucumber yogurt sauce)

serves 4

1 cup yogurt
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt, to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala

Mix all ingredients together and serve alongside the Tikka Masala.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry with Kale Fried Rice

There are two types of people in the world. Those who hate Gwyneth Paltrow, and those who love her. I happen to fall into the latter category. I 'm a subscriber to her GOOP site, make sure I catch any movie or TV show she's appearing in, and even think she's a pretty good singer. Since I keep up on all things GP, I also know that she is a big foodie and loves to cook. As I've told my husband a time or two, I just know that if GP and I were to meet, we would be instant friends.

So knowing that Gwyneth loves to eat and cook, I was excited to get my hands on her first cookbook when it came out in late 2010. Since then I have cooked my way though most of "My Father's Daughter" and have not been disappointed. Just about everything I have cooked has been delicious. The food is the kind of food I love to cook and eat too; simple, easy food with fresh ingredients.

Two of my favorite recipes in the book are the stir-fry and fried rice. Both are great ways to pack lots of veggies into your dinner. Actually, GP's recipe for this stir-fry doesn't include any vegetables, but I've decided to go ahead and load this up with all my stir-fry favorites. Her recipe is also for a chicken stir-fry, and I've substituted shrimp. Too much chicken eating going on around here. We needed to change things up a bit.

Another nice thing about these recipes is that they cook very quickly. The only time consumming part is the chopping. If you are in a pinch you can pick things that are either prepped for you (sliced mushrooms, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, snap peas) or really easy to slice up (peppers, zucchini, broccoli florets). If you get those taken care of, the hardest part of this dish is the peeling and chopping of the ginger. I've come to find that if you keep ginger, wrapped in paper towels and bagged, in the freezer, it makes much easier work of the peeling. A trick I was taught is to use a spoon to peel the ginger. Just scrape the spoon over the ginger and the peel comes right off, and you don't trash half the ginger like when you cut it off. With those things taken care of, the rice takes about 15 total minutes and the stir-fry, about the same. A healthy, delicious dinner ready in less time than take out!

Shrimp Stir-Fry
adapted from "My Father's Daughter" by Gwyneth Paltrow

serves 4

3/4 lb. shrimp - peeled and deveined
2 tbsp cornstarch
kosher salt and fresh pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup garlic- peeled and minced
1/4 cup ginger-peeled and minced
1/2 cup scallions- white and green parts, minced
pinch red pepper flakes-optional
8 ounces mixed mushrooms- sliced
large handful snap peas
1 small zucchini- thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper- sliced into strips
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you have on hand)
2 tbsp soy sauce (I like to use reduced sodium)
2 tbsp cilantro- chopped

Toss the shrimp with the cornstarch, a pinch of salt and some fresh pepper.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and pepper flakes and cook, stiring, for 1 minute. Add the vegetables and cook for another minute. Add the shrimp and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.

Add the vinegar and sugar and a bit more black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes at a boil so that the sugar can caramelize.

Add the soy sauce, cook 30 seconds longer and the serve, sprinkled with the cilantro, along side....

Kale Fried Rice
pretty much how it is published in "My Father's Daughter" by Gwyneth Paltrow

serves 4

1/4 lb. kale - stems removed
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic- peeled and minced
3 scallions-thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (my secret here is to buy the already cooked and frozen brown rice from Whole Foods. All I need to do it throw it in the microwave for 3 minutes and it's ready to get thrown in the pan. Of course any cooked rice, brown or white, will do.)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce

Cut the kale in half, then crosswise into strips. Or if you are like me, just coarsely chop the leaves into small, uneven, pieces. Steam kale for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, making sure not to brown it. Raise heat to medium and add the kale and scallions. Cook 2 more minutes and the add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add the soy sauce, cook for 30 more seconds and serve along with the stir-fry.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lentil Soup (with or without Sausage)

Soup goes hand in hand with cold weather. Usually by January in Connecticut we are dealing with snowfall, cold and the need for a warm meal to heat us up. Fortunately we have had warmer than usual temperatures around here so soup hasn't really been on my mind. So why did I make lentil soup? Because lentil soup is made with staples I have around the house and I didn't have the energy to go to the grocery store. Truth. I also had a half eaten package of chorizo in the refrigerator and for some reason when I saw that package I thought "lentil soup."

Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, is making a comeback on Artisanal Food. She disappeared for 2011 and I've been hesitant to bring her back into my life after the amount of butter I was plowing through during my "Ina" phase. We've been on a dairy free kick around here since our daughter was born 9 months ago, so naturally Ina's style of cooking had been banned from my kitchen. When I think "Barefoot Contessa" I immediately think "butter and cream" so I hadn't been reaching for her cookbooks. Well, Ina has the best lentil soup recipe I've ever had and that chorizo reminded me of that. And, naturally, there is no butter or cream in lentil soup!

Another great thing about this recipe is that is makes A LOT! There is a little bit of work that goes into chopping all the veggies for this dish, but you'll get at least two dinners out of it. Add a salad, and maybe three dinners. I'm good until at least Tuesday. Also on the upside for us busy people, this can be made earlier in the day (or even the night before) and reheated for dinner. I made mine during nap and put it back on to a simmer 15 minutes before we sat down.

Lentil Soup (with or without sausage)
Adapted from "Barefoot In Paris" by Ina Garten

Serves 8-10 (can easily be halved if you don't want all the leftovers)

1 lb lentils ( the original recipe calls for French du Puy lentils, which are tiny green lentils, but I usually use regular green lentils if I can't find the French variety)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large yellow onions- diced
2 leeks- chopped, white and light green parts only (make sure that you wash these well. They hold a lot of dirt in their layers)
2 large cloves of garlic -chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme- chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
8 stalks celery- chopped
6 carrots- peeled and chopped
3 quarts chicken stock (or veggie stock if you want to make this vegetarian)
1/4 cup tomato paste (I found a brand that sells tomato paste in a jar.. Bionatura. I use to always waste half cans of tomato paste..genius!!)
2 links chorizo (the original recipe calls for 1 lb of kilbasa, but I found that amount to be too much. You can adjust to your preference, use whatever type of precooked sausage you like, or omit it all together.)
2 tbsp red wine or red wine vinegar (I used Chianti that has been sitting around, uncorked, since Christmas. Pretty much just like vinegar.)

Put lentils in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a very large (I use a 9.5 quart dutch oven) pot.
Add onion, leeks, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes,stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened.

My sous-chef doing prep work for me

Add the celery and carrots and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add stock, tomato paste and drained lentils.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for an hour (or longer if needed ). You want to make sure the lentils are cooked well. Add in the sausage, if using, and the red wine or vinegar. Cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread!
Looks good right?? Not that I'm bragging or anything,
but you see that bread and butter in the photo? We made
those too. Yup. Really easy. My four year old made
the butter. It was amazing. Recipes for another post!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fusilli Alla Crazy Bastard

I can't say that this recipe originally caught my eye for any other reason besides the name. I was flipping thought the January 2009 issue of Food & Wine magazine when I came across this Mario Batali creation. The ingredients were interesting, but I wasn't sure that it would be a keeper for my book. Walnuts and beet greens in pasta?? I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. That was two years ago and this meal has been in rotation in my house since then. It actually even has its own page in my heirloom recipe book. Yes, the ingredients sound like an odd pairing, but it all works.

Just like most recipes, this lends itself well to certain substitutions. Don't have access to beet greens? Use Swiss chard, kale or collards. If you don't have fresh tomatoes, you could probably use canned, though I've never tried it and the roasted grape tomatoes are really good. What I wouldn't substitute are the goat cheese and walnuts. The creaminess and tanginess of the goat cheese makes a fabulously silky sauce and the walnuts just tie everything together and add a nice crunch. If you choose to substitute the type of pasta, you'll have to rename the dish.;)

This is a pretty simple recipe. There are not a lot of ingredients, 7 to be exact. The process is easy and the results are great. What are you waiting for?!

Fusilli Alla Crazy Bastard
adapted from Food & Wine Jan '09 recipe by Mario Batali

serves 4-5


1/2 cup walnuts
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 Tbs + 1 tsp olive oil
1 pound fusilli (whole wheat is a great option here)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb beet greens, chopped (I've used Swiss chard and collards)
pinch red pepper flakes ( or to taste)
1/2 lb goat cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 7 minutes or until fragrant and golden. You'll start to smell them when they are ready. Remove, cool and coarsely chop.

Raise oven temp to 450. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tsp oil and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper on a baking sheet (use the same one you cooked the walnuts on). Roast for 10 minutes or until tomatoes have burst.

Cook pasta in well salted boiling water. I've been told that pasta cooking water should taste like the sea so I add quite a bit of salt to my pot. The type of fusilli that I use says 8-10 minutes, and I cook it for 7. You are going to be adding the pasta to the sauce so it will continue to cook and you don't want it to get mushy. When pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining. Don't forget!!

While the pasta cooks, heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic and cook over medium heat. Keep an eye on it as you don't want to burn it. Once the garlic starts to get fragrant, add in the roasted tomatoes, greens and red pepper flakes. Cook until greens are wilted, about 3 minutes, depending on the type you are using.


Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, into the sauce. Crumble in the goat cheese and stir to melt and combine everything together. Add additional water to loosen up the sauce if you need it.

At this point you can choose to season with additional salt and pepper, though I find if you season the water well you shouldn't need any additional salt. Make sure you taste before adding more seasoning.

Transfer the pasta to individual bowls and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Israeli Couscous with Cranberries and Pecans

So I'm having a Whole Foods moment. Well, what I mean by that is that I've been inspired by my favorite store more than once in the last few weeks. I love tuna, but I also love this couscous. If I can make it myself, why buy it! (I know not everyone shares this sentiment...but just think of all the money you'll save!)

Let me throw a little food knowledge at you first. There are two types of couscous. Moroccan couscous is a tiny rolled pasta, usually made from semolina, that is mostly sold pre-steamed. This type of couscous is cooked by adding it to boiling water, removing from the heat and resting for 5 minutes, then simply fluffing with a fork. Super easy and fast. Israeli couscous, the type that is used in this recipe, looks like little pasta balls. It is cooked like pasta too. Add it to boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes, then drain. Got it? Now you have a great holiday party conversation starter, and possibly a dish to bring!

This recipe makes a lot. Which is a good thing. The sweet/salty flavor of the cranberries and salted pasta can be blamed for the inability to remove your spoon from the bowl while standing in front of the refrigerator. At least that is what people have told me.... Besides eating it for breakfast and lunch, this would also be great as a side next to poultry or pork. Throw some sautéed greens on the plate and dinner is done!

Israeli Couscous with Cranberries and Pecans

Serves 8-10 as a side, 4-5 as a lunch

12 oz Israeli couscous (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 1/4 c. chopped, toasted pecans
4 scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped


3 TBS neutral oil (canola, vegetable or grapeseed)
1 1/2 TBS Champagne vinegar (you could probably substitute white wine if you don't have champagne)
zest from 1 orange
juice from 1/2 orange
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain and put into a large bowl.

The best way to toast pecans is to do them on the stove top in a fry pan. I find that if you bake them in the oven, you are most likely going to forget about them until you smell them burning. I heat my dry pan on medium heat for a few minutes, then add the nuts. Give them a shake every 30-60 seconds. Once they give off their lovely nutty smell, they are usually done. Add these to the bowl with the couscous, along with the cranberries and scallions.

In a medium bowl combine all the dressing ingredients. (Make sure that you zest the orange before you juice it. A juiced piece of citrus is really hard to zest. I've done that more than once!) Pour dressing over the salad and fold to combine.

Don't eat it yet. As hard as it is to hold back digging in at this point, it is worth the wait to let the dish cool and the flavors come together. Tasting the dish now doesn't taste anything like it will in a few hours once it is cold. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to make this right before bed. If waiting all night doesn't work for you, give it at least 2 hours. The leftovers on day two are even better!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Best Ever Tuna Salad

Ok, so I know that 8 months is way too long to not post a new recipe, BUT I had a baby. Doesn't that allow for some laziness in certain areas of my life? It doesn't mean that I haven't thought about writing. It doesn't mean that I haven't prepared meals with the idea of photographing and sharing. My follow through has been what's lacking.

What inspired me to finally dust off my keypad was a little Thanksgiving celebration at my son's preschool. I made this tuna salad and it was a hit. For something seemingly so simple, I received more complements and requests for my recipe than any other I've ever made. One of the best compliments was from my friend Martha, who told me that her husband was not a fan of tuna salad until he ate this dish. After having about 8 people ask me for the recipe I felt obligated to write, making it easy for me to share with the masses!

I really can't take all the credit for this recipe. I was inspired by one of my favorite cold bar offerings at Whole Foods, the Fuji Apple Tuna Salad. My son eats it by the pint, and it started to get kinda pricey to keep him fed. Lucky for me, Whole Foods discloses all their ingredients in each of their prepared food items so my job was to simply get the proportions correct. Every time I make it I tweak it slightly. This is the best ratio I have come up with to date! Enjoy!

Best Ever Tuna Salad

Serves 3 hungry adults - can easily be doubled or halved

2 cans solid or chunk light tuna, drained (depending on preference)- you can buy them without salt but I go for the salted version. Have tried with both and definitely tastes better if there is salt added to the tuna- I haven't gotten the recipe perfected with adding my own salt.
3/4 small apple, small dice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1-2 TBS fresh lemon juice (I just cut a quarter of the lemon from the end and that seems to be perfect)
1 TBS chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup mayo (I use spectrum canola mayo but Hellman's is good too)

In a large bowl, flake the tuna with a fork.

In a smaller bowl, toss the apple, cranberries, lemon juice and dill

Add apple mixture to the tuna and stir to combine. Fold in mayonnaise and serve!
I like mine on a bed of greens or open face on a good piece of bakery bread. The day I made it for my son's school I put it on Whole Food's multi grain boule.

This is great the day that you make it, but even better the next!