Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ground Beef Kheema

For some reason, I have an obscene list of recipes bookmarked and just waiting to be created.  For some reason my brain thinks that I have all this spare time in which I can cook and bake to my heart's content.

Yeah right.

One of the recipes that I had save to try out sometime was something called a kheema.  More specifically, it was a turkey kheema recipe.  It was on my "To Make Soon" bookmark list, which means that I really really wanted to make it soon.  (I know I might be coming across as a deranged person right now, but really I'm not..  For serious.)  Of course I kept putting it off.  Then imagine my surprise one day when I was minding my own business, watching Aarti Party, and she began to talk about a kheema recipe.  I looked on in food jealousy as Aarti made a ground beef kheema on her show.

The next weekend, I was on top of this recipe...

Ground Beef Kheema
adapted from Aarti Party
makes 4-6 servings

Print Recipe
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-inch thumb) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon habanero sauce, optional
  • ~1 pound ground beef
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup beer (I used Sam Adams Octoberfest)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons malt vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1) In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. 

2) Add the onions to the skillet and cook until golden.

3) Next, add in the garlic and ginger.  Saute for another minute. 

4) Stir in the coriander, paprika, garam masala, cumin and habanero sauce and cook the mixture for 1 minute.

5) Place the beef in the pan, break up any lumps, and saute until the meat is no longer pink.

6) Toss in the tomatoes, beer, some salt and pepper.

7) Stir in the peas and simmer the kheema, partially covered, for about 5 minutes.

8) Sprinkle in the vinegar and the chopped cilantro.

9) Serve with rice, pasta, or on a bun (as a sloppy joe).

Let's be honest for a second.  I didn't read the reviews of Aarti's ground beef kheema at first.  When I made this, I added the cup of liquid (beer, in my case) that the original recipe called for.  Then I wondered why the sauce actually looked like soup for a hot minute.  Hmmm...that was when I read the reviews and noticed that everyone was complaining about the amount of liquid used in the recipe.  I updated the recipe above to only use 1/4 cup of beer instead. 

Now back to the kheema...

Why did I wait so long to make this thing?  I need to make this again and again.  I can't begin to tell you how warm, smoky, and spicy the kheema was. The beer gives the sauce an extra depth and the peas provide a nice snap with each bite.  I am torn as to whether or not I would try to add more spices next time; as in a healthier dose of the existing spices, not additional spices.  My urge to heavily season all my food wants me to do it, but this tasted great in any case, so if you're making this yourself, it's all up to you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been worn down.

My client has worn me down.  My manager has worn me down.

Yes.  They got me.  Over some red velvet cupcakes.

Let me tell you that ever since I started making cupcakes on a semi-regular basis, I have had to fend off requests for these particular cupcakes.  I routinely made the mistake of asking people for flavor suggestions and then I would hear the list of usual suspects.  Red velvet would always be on that list.  And I would always veto this suggestion because *gasp* I don't like red velvet cupcakes.

Somewhere in my distant past I had tried a red velvet cupcake and was turned off by it.  So although I hadn't tried one in years I knew I didn't like it.  And you can verify with any member of my family that I'm a stubborn one.  If you try to get my to like something repeatedly, I'll put my foot down and claim instant dislike.

I was able to fend off my client for the past year or two.  I finally caved in when my client and my manager teamed up to bombard me with red velvet cupcake requests.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
cupcake slightly adapted from the Cupcakes blog recipe
yields ~36 cupcakes

Print Recipe
  • 3 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 oz. red food coloring (half of a bottle) plus 1/2 - 1 teaspoon no-taste-red icing color gel (the original recipe states that you can use two bottles of red food coloring, but I was worried that it would give the cupcakes a funny taste)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcakes liners.

2) Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

3) Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar together for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.

4) Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add in the vanilla.

5) Add the red dye to the buttermilk and mix well to combine.

6) Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures into the batter.  Beat well after each addition.

7) In a medium sized bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Be careful, as it will fizz.

8) Add the vinegar mixture to the batter and stir well to combine.

9) Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are ~2/3 full.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.

10)  Place muffin tins in your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

11) Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the cupcake tray.  Then remove them from the tray and allow to cool completely.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
from my coworker Deirdre of Zoe's Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

1) In a mixer, cream together the shortening, butter and cream cheese.

2) Add the vanilla and melted chocolate.  Stir to combine.

3) Slowly add the sugar to the mixture, a few tablespoons at a time.
4) Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  (If you choose to pipe the frosting, you may need to double the recipe.)

I snagged this frosting recipe from one of my coworkers.  She had used it to frost a red velvet cake and it was so delicious I knew I needed to "borrow" it for my red velvet cupcakes.  The frosting that I made came out pretty much the same as hers, thank goodness.  It was light and fluffy with an extra oomph of sweetness and flavor from the white chocolate.  Most people couldn't figure out the identity of this secret ingredient but the chocolate really made the frosting outstanding.  And combined with the red velvet cake, I have to say that I may now be a red velvet cake/cupcake believer.  The cake had the cocoa flavor that is distinctive to any red velvet cake.  I also found that the texture of the cake was pretty light and airy, which matched well with the frosting.

OK, so maybe the red velvet cupcake is beginning to warm my stone cold heart.  Who knew?  I didn't take these cupcakes to my client or my manager because I ended up over-baking them by a few minutes.  I think our oven is having technical difficulties.... But I will make sure that my work family will get their red velvet cupcake fix very soon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese Polenta

For as much as I've been pretending it's still summer, I really do love fall.  And I will have more fall-related recipes on this blog soon.  But I think I've finally satiated my summer corn fixation with one final final final corn recipe.  I've been saving this one for a few weeks.  It's not because I'm selfish, but because I simply haven't had the time to get around to it.  So now here it is.  Hopefully this recipe isn't too late to catch the last ears of fresh corn at the market or store.

When I made that Chili-Corn Casserole the other day, I found that I still had a lot of polenta left over.  I decided I would use the rest of it in a variation of a Joy the Baker recipe.  And I would definitely recommend this fresh corn and goat cheese polenta action for a quick breakfast or brunch situation.  

Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese Polenta
adapted from Joy the Baker's Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese Grits recipe
yields 4-5 cups

Print Recipe
  • 1 ear of corn, kernels cut off
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 18 oz tube precooked polenta, chopped as finely as possible
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup 2% milk (or whichever kind of milk you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika and/or cayenne pepper (optional)

1) Drizzle the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the onion for 1-2 minutes.

2) Add the corn and garlic to the pan.  Saute for another 1-2 minutes, or until softened.

3) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4) Meanwhile, combine the polenta, butter and milk in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave the mixture for a minute at a time, mashing the polenta and milk together periodically to make it creamy.  (You can also do this step in a pot over medium heat on the stove, but it's quicker in a microwave.)

5) Stir the corn and onion mixture into the polenta mixture.

6) Add the crumbled goat cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste

7) Sprinkle a dash of paprika and/or cayenne pepper to taste.

I think this dish could have been amped up by using creamy polenta that was made from scratch instead of the pre-made polenta.  But if you're in a pinch, or if you just have leftover pre-made polenta, then you can make this instead.  The creamy, tart goat cheese melts into the butter polenta and provides the perfect complement to the sweet corn.  This dish would be a great addition to any meal.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Goat Cheese Frozen Yogurt

My taste buds are funky.  They make me crave things at the oddest time.

Like that time when I wanted to eat some goat cheese but the only cracker-like objects I had in the kitchen were pretzels.  Then I started craving goat cheese and pretzels.  Because it's actually a pretty good combo.

More recently I've been craving frozen yogurt.  Our neighborhood grocery store just opened up a frozen yogurt/coffee bar and it's absolutely amazing.  I walk to the grocery store at all hours.  I drive to the grocery store at all hours.  I went there at 7am one morning to get some frozen yoguyt on my drive in to work that day.  It turns out you cannot get frozen yogurt there at 7am, even though the they claim to be open then.  That was a sad day.

So imagine my excitement when one of my favorite bloggers, Julia, busted out with a goat cheese frozen yogurt recipe.  I knew I had to try this as soon as possible.  Yes, of course I waited until it was fall to test this recipe out.  You wouldn't think I'd do it during the summer, did you?

Goat Cheese Frozen Yogurt
slightly altered from the Fat Girl in a Skinny Body blog
makes 3-4 cups

  • 14 ounces 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

1) Combine all ingredients in the blender and mix until fully incorporated.

2) Pour the mixture into a sealed, freezer-safe container.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

3) Place the container in the freezer for about 7 hours.  The amount of time you will need to freeze the yogurt depends on how cold your freezer gets.  Also, it depends on how soft or hard you like your yogurt.  You can experiment with the firmness of the frozen yogurt and see what you like best.

* One of the things Julia recommended was stirring the frozen yogurt about halfway through the freezing process.  I did this as well, but like Julia said, she wasn't sure if this actually made a difference or not.  The frozen yogurt still came out fine!

What can I say?  I loved this.  The frozen yogurt was tangy from the goat cheese, and sweet and creamy from the yogurt.  To break it down, this mostly tastes like frozen Greek yogurt with sweetened goat cheese.  I know that should be pretty apparent from the ingredient list, but I was still surprised for some reason.  Surprised in a good way though.  In a good, stuff-your-mouth-full-of-goat-cheese-frozen-yogurt way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Scalloped Corn with Bacon

I know. 

I know that corn season is almost over.  I know that in spite of this fact, I've still been throwing corn dishes at you as if it was my job. Don't judge me.  I am ashamed to admit that I really only discovered the wonderful lusciousness of fresh corn dishes this year.

This doesn't mean that I've never eaten fresh corn prior to this year.  Let's not get it twisted.  I just never took the time to cook or bake with fresh corn.  So although I'm so late jumping on this bandwagon, jump on it I did.  And I'm soooo glad that I'm there.  Who knew the party was this much fun?

Just to make it funner (yeah, I just said that) I threw in some bacon too.  Because everything's better with bacon.  If you didn't know that, well, now you do.

Shout outs to Shutterbean and the Joy The Baker podcast for the heads up on this recipe.  Otherwise I would totally have missed it and that would have been a tragedy.

Scalloped Corn with Bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Habanero sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 3 cups sweet corn (about 5 ears)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 strips bacon, fried and roughly chopped*
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • Cooking spray

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly spray a baking dish with the cooking spray.  I used a 9"x13" or 1-1/2 quart baking dish.

2) Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a medium to large pan.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt.  Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

3) Sprinkle in the flour, salt, pepper, and habanero sauce to taste.  Stir to combine.

4) Pour in the half and half and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.

5) Add the corn and simmer for 2 minutes.  Taste and add more seasonings if necessary.  Remove the corn mixture from the heat.

6) In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks together, and then stir into the corn.

7) Stir in the chopped bacon.

8) Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish.  Sprinkle the fresh bread crumbs over the top of the mixture and dot with 1 tablespoon of butter.

9) Bake for 30 minutes, or until the butter is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden and toasted.

* Tip: You can use my method and lay the strips of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Pop them in a 400 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes.  When the bacon is done, simply toss the foil away!

Seriously, let's use fresh bread crumbs, people. I have tried to dodge this step in the past, but the taste difference between fresh and packaged can't be measured.  I gave in this time and I'm happy I did.  You can do it too.

The fresh corn is amazing when it's mixed with the butter, cream, bacon, and breadcrumbs.  Doesn't that sound like a perfectly balanced meal?  It's definitely balanced.  Again, don't judge me.  This is a perfect and easy side dish that would complement any meal.