Category Archives: Sides

Home Made Mayonnaise


I made some mayonnaise the other day, and was about to do something rude to myself, cause I realized, that this is so much better than any commercial mayonnaise, and why haven’t I been making this more often?

Have you ever tried making some?   I guarantee you, it’s not hard, and the taste and texture, well, hands down I think it’s better than most commercial brands.

And with an immersion blender, so dang easy to make, I’m kicking myself I haven’t made it for myself in a long time.  And when you make your own, you can customize it, however you like.   I like mine a little on the lemony side, but sometimes I like garlic or tarragon or an herby kind of mayo.

But for your basic old mayonnaise, this is the way to go.

Just 4 basic ingredients and I bet you have them all in your house.

Recipe:
1 Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Lemon juice (half a lemon works well here)
1 cup mild Oil (I like using a bland vegetable oil, but have made it with olive oil in the past, but it takes on the flavour of the oil)

1 teaspoon Mustard

That’s it.

I have to add in a caveat here, I love my immersion blender, especially the little whisk that came with it.    I use it a lot.

First off.   Separate an egg, set the white aside, you can always add it to the omelette or freeze it or do what I did, which was add it to the dog food I was making.

Sorry got sidetracked there.

Place the egg yolk in a beaker, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little mustard.  I used some Grey Poupon Country grind, about 1/2 tsp. (sorry I didn’t measure too carefully).

Whisk the egg yolk mixture together, you’ll notice it thickening up a little, well, OK a lot.  Then start drizzling the oil in, just a drop or two to begin with.
Then the magic happens.

It starts to look a little thicker, and as you add more oil, drops at a time, it all comes together.  After you’ve managed to get about half the oil in the beaker, then you can drizzle the oil in, whisking it continually.
That’s the trick, continually whisking as you’re pouring in the oil.  And drizzle the oil in very slowly.

And after you’ve got the whole cup of oil incorporated, you end up with this luscious, velvety, smooth concoction called Mayonnaise.

Which you can use how you use regular mayonnaise, cause, umm, gee, this is real mayonnaise.

Couple of hints here.
I did say it’s been a long time since I’ve made mayonnaise, and I ‘broke’ it.  Which means it started to separate, which is not what you want it to do.
But I rescued it.
I added a tablespoon of hot tap water, whisked it through just a tad and the mayo got reacquainted and made up.
Just a little trick to keep in mind.
And if you have access to pasteurized eggs, go ahead and use them if you’re concerned with any kind of salmonella contamination.   You are using an uncooked egg yolk here, and don’t feed it to anyone who maybe be immune compromised, you know the drill.

Home made mayonnaise will keep for about three days in the fridge, but mine never lasts that long, it gets eaten.

****BTW****  Is your turkey in the fridge thawing yet?  It’s not too early to haul it out of the freezer and stick in the fridge to start thawing.    Remember for every 4 lbs. of turkey, you need to have it in the fridge for 24 hours.    So that 20 lb. turkey needs to go in the fridge today.

Palak Paneer


I never realized you could actually make this at home.  I’m in trouble now.

Just kidding.

Now that I know how to make Paneer, I can indulge myself.  Well, not really, but how cool is this?  I can make it at home now, Woo Hoo!   I  have to say, you do need full fat milk for this, and no using ultra pasteurized milk or cream.  It doesn’t work, trust me on this.

Really.

Trust me.

I know whereof I speak, cause I tried making some with 2% milk and didn’t get hardly any cheese, and so I went to the store and bought some full fat milk, otherwise known as whole milk.   And the same night I made it with the 2% milk, I tried using some cream I had, and since it was ultra-pasteurized, it failed miserably.  In other words, no curd. That attempt turned into an offering to the Kitchen Goddess.

And of course you need Palak for Palak Paneer so I did a double.  Recipe that is.

So, here goes.  And for those who are interested, using 2 cups of 2 % milk got me 2 oz. of Paneer.
When I used the 4 cups of whole milk I got 5 oz. of cheese.   Just sayin…

Paneer Recipe
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt if you want, I choose not to use it

Bring the milk to a boil, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes, stir again, you should have some lovely big curds, if not add just a skootch more of lemon juice, and stir again.

Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander or do like I did, cause I couldn’t find my cheesecloth, sigh.  I used an old (bleached clean) flour sack teacloth, and poured it into that.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes or long enough to eat your breakfast, then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth (flour sack) and expel more of the liquid by squeezing it gently.   Place the entire mass of cheese in a press to expel the rest of the liquid.  I used two small plates, on top of a larger lidded plate, and weighed it down with a bunch of cans inside a bowl.  Let sit like that for about hour or so, then peel the cloth off of the cheese and cut into chunks if you’re using it right away, otherwise wrap well, and place in fridge.

Now for the Palak.    I found some spinach on sale (WOOHOO), sorry got excited there.

Palak Recipe
1 lb baby spinach, washed at least three times to remove the grit

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium tomato, diced

2 C homemade paneer

1/2  t cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1/2 t ground turmeric

freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon ghee (I made some last January, so had some in the freezer)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee and toast the cumin seeds and fennel . Once they are aromatic, add the onion and cook till translucent.

Stir in the tomato and cook until softened and beginning to break down. Season with turmeric.

Add the spinach at this point, and let it cook down for just a couple of minutes.  Cook it too long and it turns a shade of olive which doesn’t look all that great.   If you have an immersion blender, use it here and just buzz the spinach mixture a little.  You want it to break up, but not be too liquid.    Set it aside for a minute.

Take out your paneer and cut it into cubes and depending if you’re using the nice fresh-made warm paneer or using it from the fridge, you will need to warm it up a bit.
You can either brown it a little in some ghee or just warm it in the hot palak for a minute or so.
Serve with some warm Naan and enjoy.  Or do as I did and eat it for breakfast, and it was so good.  And I have enough for breakfast tomorrow, giggle.

Naan


Naan

I got this recipe from Aarti Sequaria and I figure it’s probably pretty authentic. I did put a couple of my own touches to this, cause gee, I’m the cook?
All I know is that they tasted so good.   And they went perfectly with the Palak Paneer I made for Tapas last week.  They were also a little fiddly to make.   I will make them again, but will tweak this a touch.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling,
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Melted butter for slathering on the finished naans
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

In a large glass, dissolve the dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar with 3/4 cup warm water, let sit until frothy, or the yeast has dissolved.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and baking powder into a large, deep bowl.

Once the yeast has dissolved and is frothy, add the yogurt and the olive oil into the glass, and stir it to combine. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix the ingredients together with a Danish Dough Whisk.  This is a very sticky dough.  Mix together with your hands, and put into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit for a couple of hours.  I use my oven, as it’s draft free.

When you’re ready to roll, make sure you have two bowls on your counter: one with extra flour in it, and one with water. The dough will be extremely soft and sticky-this is good! Separate the dough into 6-12  equal portions and lightly roll each one in the bowl of extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other.

You need to shape the Naan.  Traditionally it’s in a tear drop shape.  This is because they used to roll out the naan, and then kinda throw it at the Tandoori oven which cooked it.  And when you kinda throw a round shape at a curved hot oven, it can become a tear drop shape, or so I’m told.  Shape the naan.  I formed mine into a rough teardrop shape using my fingers and then a rolling pin.

I know they should be about 8-9 inches long and about 4 inches wide, but my pan wasn’t big enough.  So I made them into very roughly shaped pieces of dough 4-5-inches long, 4-inches wide at its widest point and about 1/4-inch thick. Apparently once you’ve formed the general shape, you can also pick it up by one end and wiggle it a little  the dough’s own weight will stretch it out a little. Didn’t work for me though, at least not this time.  The dough was that soft. Next time I’ll try it.  Repeat this method with the rest of the dough.
Warm a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s nearly smoking, and if you do like me and oil the pan each time you use it, wipe out the excess oil.  It can make the smoke alarm go off when the oil gets too hot.  Of course I don’t know anything about that, personally.

Just have a lid ready that is large enough to fit the skillet and have the butter ready and waiting.  Melted butter is good.

You can either dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your naans, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it or pick up a naan, and brush it with a little water using a pastry brush. Which is what I did.

And my ‘teardrop’ shapes, umm, well, let me just say this, they weren’t, teardrop shapes that is.
sigh.

Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble.

After about 1 minute, and I used a timer for the first few, you then flip the naan.  If it’s a little blistered and blackened, that’s a good thing.  You want that little bit of char, cause  that’s typical of traditional naan. Cover the skillet with the lid and another 30 seconds or more.  This side will look more like a typical Naan.

Remove the naan from the skillet, brush with a bit of butter and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.  Place the naan into a covered dish or wrap them in a clean tea towel, and continue until you’ve cooked all of them.

I used my tortilla warmer bowl, it’s insulated, and has a tight fitting lid.   And it worked, perfectly.

I did have a couple left from Tapas, and they along with some of the left over Palak Paneer are going to be my breakfast.
I will make these again, I think they’re a great quick bread to serve with a lot of different foods, but I think they do require me to make them a few times so I can get the technique down.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Chow Mein


I never used to like veggies, and in fact, like most kids I would look at certain foods with a great deal of suspicion.   And would refuse to try it, if it didn’t look ‘right’.

My parents would then counter with the argument, “How can you tell you don’t like it if you don’t try it?”

I bet you’ve had that argument with various members of your family as well.
Go ahead, admit it.

Well, before I was allowed to say “I don’t like it”, I had to eat at least one bite.  I still don’t like cooked peas, but because I tried one bite, I was allowed to say “I don’t like them”.

I did that with a  lot of veggies.  Squash, cauliflower, broccoli, cooked carrots, cooked peas…

But, at least I tried them.

And now, well, let me just say this, if my Mom could see me now.

I love veggies, pretty much any kind you care to put in front of me, I’ll eat.  Still not too fond of plain cooked peas, but…

Which leads me to this dish.

Chow Mein
To be honest, I haven’t had this in a long time, but I’ve been trying to eat cleaner, healthier and even though this is part of a larger meal, at least I’m eating veggies.

And since I’m also craving some Chinese food and the nearest Chinese restaurant is 30 miles away, I’m going to make my own.

Chinese food that is.

I’m making some Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour sauce, Ham Fried rice, and this, Chow Mein.

Chow Mein (Sid style)
2 stalks celery, sliced on the diagonal
1 carrot, cut into coins, on the diagonal
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, sliced into slivers
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup Chow Mein Noodles
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. Sesame Seed Oil
1 sliced, cooked chicken breast or cooked pork chop if desired.
Sesame Seeds to taste and garnish

Saute the celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms in 1 tbsp. oil, til just barely cooked,

add the 1/2 cup chicken stock, and Soy Sauce,  then stir in the Chow Mein Noodles,

 

and put a cover on.  Let steam for about 4-6 minutes,

then add the fresh bean sprouts and the cooked, sliced pork chop and stir in quickly.
Fold in 1 tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil.   Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Sesame Seeds.

 

 

You might have noticed, I didn’t add salt.  The Soy Sauce has enough salt in it.

To make this totally vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock instead, and to make it gluten free, just use some bean thread noodles or rice noodles.

This is my plate from last night.  Some Ham Fried Rice, and hiding under the sesame seeds, the Chow Mein, alongside some totally awesome Chicken Balls.

I kinda like Sesame Seeds…

And I got to eat the leftover Chow Mein for breakfast.
It was a pretty balanced meal.   Veggies, carbs and protein.

Tomato Gratin


I actually made this quite awhile ago, but never got around to posting about it.   Even though I made this with canned tomatoes, I think it could be adapted to use fresh tomatoes. And now with it being almost tomato season, I think it’s time to make this again, plus I think it’s a great take along for any summer potlucks.

So simple to make, and really, really tasty.    Basically three ingredients and you’re good to go.  I used Stewed Tomatoes with Celery and Onion, the No Salt Added kind,  a loaf of stale french bread, and some nice sharp Cheddar.

Pour about a tablespoon of EVOO in the bottom of a baking dish, or maybe a little more, whoops.

Add two cans of Stewed Tomatoes with Celery and Onion, don’t drain them.

The olive oil kinda pooled in the corner there, but don’t worry, it gets used.

Next add your cubed bread.   I used some French Bread, but I think this would be even better with some crusty artisan bread (which I don’t have access to here, unless I want to drive about 60 miles to the good grocery store or I could just use my own No-Knead bread).   Toss it together, and then don’t do like I did, and forget the nice chopped herbs, in my case some parsley and chives, on the counter. 

Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top of the tomato bread mixture and then sprinkle it all with some Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese.   Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or so or until the cheese melts

Serve immediately or do as I did, put a piece of foil over top and then wrap it up and take it to a party.

It was very well received.   And I had a few requests for the recipe as well.   I think the next time I make this I will actually use a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack cheese, as I think the Monterey Jack cheese will melt into the tomato mixture a little better.
Here’s where I got the recipe.

Potcakes (Potato Cakes)


A few years back we were on vacation and happened upon a restaurant called Grannies’s.

With a name like that, we had to try it.

C’mon, Grannie’s?

Visions of a grandmother standing over a stove, stirring something that smelled like heaven and tasted as good as it smelled.

So we went in and looked at the menu.  I like reading menu’s before I try the food out.  Sometimes the menu just gets downright silly with the descriptions, and you wonder why someone will shell out good money for spinach that was harvested using only gently sustainable efforts on the latter side of a new moon..

You’ve read that kind of menu, I know you have.  And maybe you’ve eaten there as well, but I love seeing the descriptions of the food offered at any new restaurant I want to try.

This menu was pretty basic, but they had one item on there that stood out for me.   And that was the Potcakes.  The only other Potcakes I’d ever heard of were the dogs that you find in the Bahamas.

So I ordered them as my side to the meatloaf, and they were so good.   Deep fried potato cakes, crispy and melty and yummy, with little bits of sweet onions mixed in.

I’ve tried to replicate them ever since, with no success.   I’ve actually eaten the evidence of my failures.  Although some have been consigned as offerings to the Kitchen Goddess. sigh

I finally done did it.   Made them, just the way I remember those Potcakes from so long ago.   And all it took was me messing up some mashed potatoes and deciding to take that failure and make a potato cake for lunch.    I’d made the mashed taters with new Yukon Gold potatoes and they didn’t have the starch in them like russets, and quite frankly they were a little gluey.  I ate a bit of them, then consigned the rest to the fridge.

I didn’t measure out exactly, but I had about 1 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes (made with fresh gold potatoes, not russet.   I just added an egg, about 1/2 cup of Wondra flour, mixed that all up with half a chopped onion and then fried them in a little hot oil.

I then glopped (technical term here) some Creme Fraiche on top of them and proceeded to eat three of them.  I left one for later.

OK, so I ate the first one I took a picture of, then proceeded to eat two more.

But they were worth it.

So, the next time you make gluey mashed taters, try adding a little Wondra Flour, a chopped onion and an egg to them, and frying them up as Potcakes.

Yorkshire Pudding


As you may have surmised by now, I like to cook.  And I also like to keep trying to get a recipe just right.  Or keep trying new ones, until I find the perfect recipe.  And by gum, I think I done it.   Found the perfect recipe for Yorkshire Puddings.

I love my Yorkies, really I do, but up til now my attempts have been a hit and miss affair.  I get recipes from friends, and they swear by them, I make them once and they turn out OK, but the next time I do it, flop.  And while I may eat the ‘hockey puck Yorkshire puds’ I still want giant, towering, light, airy, crisp puddings.  Something I can ladle my gravy over, something I can butter a little later and eat as a snack.

Just for fun I googled recipes yet again, and this time I found ‘THE RECIPE’ here , at a place called British Food on About.com.

I made them according to the instructions, in the morning, thinking if they turned out like little hard biscuits, I was out two eggs and a little time.  But they didn’t.

I did twiddle with the recipe, just a teeny bit, but that’s because I had already cracked two eggs.  I then proceeded with the recipe instructions and they turned out so well.

I was a very happy cook at this point.   I promptly inhaled two of them, and I called them breakfast at that point.

Here’s the recipe I used.   And I got a dozen lovely, tasty, airy puddings out of it.  Basically you use equal measurements of the three main ingredients.

2 eggs (I’ve been using Jumbo eggs lately cause they’ve been so inexpensive) cracked into a measuring cup.
I get a half cup of eggs from the two Jumbo eggs.
1/2 cup milk (equal amount of milk to egg)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour  (equal amount of flour to egg)
Pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and milk together, really well, or use a hand beater.   Let this sit for about 20 minutes and then sift the flour into the egg/milk batter, beating very well, until it resembles a thick cream.  If you happen to get any lumps in there, just sieve them out.   Set the batter aside for a minimum of 30 minutes or several hours if you can.  I think the ones I baked later in the day rose higher.
Prepare the pan.  I used a 12 hole muffin pan, but if you have a pop over pan, use that.  Or you can also use a good sturdy roasting pan as well.    Put a pea sized piece of lard or shortening into each hole, if using a muffin tin, then place the pan into a very hot oven, 425-450 deg., until the oil is smoking hot.  But don’t burn it.  This really just takes a couple of minutes.

And here’s my newest tip of the week, or maybe it should be the hint of the year.  Really, it is that good.  And one I wish I’d thought of myself.

One of the main tricks of making sure that Yorkshire Pudding rises is not letting the pan with the hot fat in it cool down.  So, you keep the pan in the oven, and hope you don’t let out too much heat as you’re pouring the batter in.  Then you hurry up and shut the door, and cross your fingers you’re not going to pull out hockey pucks.

Here’s the hint/tip/LIGHTBULB over the head.  Turn on a large element on top of the stove, doesn’t have to be on a high temp, then place your pan on top of that as you’re pouring the batter into the cups/pan.  No loss of heat.

Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, just til they are all puffed up and golden.

Serve them alongside a lovely rib roast, or a nice roast chicken or gee, I might just make some for myself, just because.

They were the perfect accompaniment to the Standing Rib Roast.

I hope your Christmas was a good one.  I know we ate well on Christmas eve at our house.   My guests brought a wonderful assortment of vegetable side dishes as well as some desserts.  And there are no pictures of that because, I wanted to sit down and enjoy their company.