Thursday, March 29, 2012

Curry Crab Appetizers

I really like mild curries, but Mr. Spice does not, so I rarely prepare any. I searched for a recipe that didn’t include a curry-based sauce, and found one on my favorite home organizing/cleaning site.

I went to two different grocery stores looking for the tube of butterflake rolls, and ended up with a tube of 8 large ones instead of the 12 smaller ones called for in the recipe. Needless to say, I ended up with fewer larger appetizers, which tasted great but looked too huge to be appetizers. I went online and was unable to find brands sold in stores near me selling tubes of more but smaller biscuits. I think they would look really cute in the original size, so I may try and cut the large biscuits next time. Or try the sheets of dough and cut smaller circles. I will also admit that I was not able to separate the rolls into 3 layers, just 2 so they are thicker than the recommended size!

Anyway, assembling the topping was quick and easy. Of the three taste testers, only one was able to guess the spice, it was nice and mild. Mr. Spice thought they were great, and had no idea that curry was involved. If I made these bites for a crowd that enjoyed curry, I’d double the amount used. One taste tester suggested that I could garnish future versions with an olive or small pieces of roasted red pepper for visual appeal. I used a plate with positive words on it because the Flylady website is all about encouraging people.
What is your favorite curry dish?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweet Rice Pudding Brazilian Style (with orange zest)

This recipe is from my friend Paola, who is from Brazil. The “before” and “during” photos may not look too exciting, but the end result was outstanding!

Ingredients: 1 cup rice, 6 cups water, 1 can condensed milk (I used a 14 ounce can of low-fat condensed milk), cinnamon to garnish, and optional orange peel. I used 1 teaspoon of dried orange zest because it’s in the spice rack- thus part of this saga, but I suspect that the flavor of freshly grated orange peel would enhance this recipe. If I used the dried version again, I would put in 1 ½ teaspoons of zest, possibly upping it to 2 teaspoons. The single teaspoon did not result in a strong orange flavor.

Step one: boil rice and water, then lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the water is absorbed. If you are using orange peel, add it to the pot with the rice and water at the beginning of the cooking process. I did not let it cook until the rice was dry, hopefully you can see how it looked creamy, not watery at the end of the cooking phase. Of course, I forgot to time the process, and the recipe didn’t give a time, either! Just stay near the pot, because eventually it will start sticking and need to be stirred.

Turn off the heat and add the can of milk, mixing well. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle cinnamon on top. I make every effort to serve fruit with dessert dishes, so I had one serving of the rice pudding with blueberries, and another with raspberries. Delicious! Have you ever added fruit to a recipe or as a garnish with tasty results? What was the fruit & dish you added it to?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cumin Beef Empanadas

I had no idea what to do with the jar of cumin on the spice rack, nor even how it got there! The original rack was empty when we received it as a wedding gift nearly 14 years ago- wish I could remember from whom so I could thank them again. My aunt has given me many high quality spices as gifts over the years, so there’s a good chance the cumin was from her. I don’t remember ever cooking with it, and certainly didn’t realize the many health benefits of cumin: an on-line search showed thousands of sources, and the few that I checked out listed insomnia and indigestion as some of the issues aided by its consumption. I followed this recipe from Military Spouse Magazine:
2 lbs. ground beef, 1 onion chopped, 2-3 TBSP chili powder, 2-3 TBSP cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt

I used half the ingredients, and added one diced potato as optionally suggested. I didn’t have any taco shells on hand, so I created empanadas, using refrigerated pie crust dough. To make empanadas, which are like mini calzones, or samosas:
1.     roll open the dough
2.     cut 3 inch circles using a drinking glass or biscuit cutter (make a ball with the leftover dough and roll out to make more circles)
3.     place a spoonful of the meat mixture onto the circle
4.     moisten the edge of the circle with water, and fold over, pinching the edges together to form a half-moon
5.     beat an egg in a bowl and brush over the unbaked pastries
6.     I forgot to time how long I baked them for!!! Maybe 10 minutes at 350? Check the oven regularly and remove when the empanadas are lightly browned.
I used one box with two pie crusts inside, and both pie crusts worth of circles made empanadas from half of the meat filling recipe.

Serve with vegetables of your choice. I forgot to use any of the garnish items suggested in the recipe, but seconds were requested, whew! Next time I would have salsa and sour cream on hand. I should also disclose that I am not receiving any type of payment or samples to endorse any particular products.
Do you use dough and a filling (either sweet or savory)? What are the filling ingredients?
Since I only photographed two stages of this adventure, I'll share a generic spice photo that I took.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rosemary Whole Wheat Shortbread Cookies

I have always enjoyed baking desserts over preparing main meal dishes, so I searched for a new “dessert-ish” recipe using a less familiar spice on the rack in my kitchen. I tried making shortbread many years ago, but remember it falling apart as it came out of the dish. Thankfully, taking a cooking class with Helene Dujardin gave me the confidence to try one of the recipes from her site:

I modified the recipe by using 1 cup of all-purpose flour and ¾ cup of whole wheat flour. I also used skim milk. The first batch of dough rolled out looking a bit dry; an internet search revealed that a recipe would benefit from 1 teaspoon of additional liquid for each cup of whole wheat flour substituted for regular flour. I added a bit more milk to the remaining dough, and the second batch rolled out wonderfully. 

I haven’t used my cookie cutters in years, so I couldn’t resist using interesting shaped ones! The peach-mango jelly already on hand worked very well in balancing out the savory flavor of the cookie, adding a soft touch and pleasant texture combined with the shortbread.
I have used rosemary a few times in the past when roasting a chicken, so this was a neat departure from the ordinary. I would serve these cookies at a formal event. Two book-group taste testers enjoyed the flavors and were perfectly happy with the plate of cookies that had not been made into "sandwiches" with jam. I prepared the leftover cookies with just a layer of fruit spread without the second cookie on top. Do you have a favorite "non-traditional" dessert?