Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Blogging hiatus

Dear Reader, this will be my last post from Pittsburgh. My fridge-cleanup effort has been successfully completed.

My blog is alive but there will be no updates until after we complete our move to the Silicon Valley and settle down in our home with Internet access, of course (which can take at least a month, gulp). To all my blog friends- I will miss reading your posts very much. I will read your posts soon in sunny California!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Vegetarian Paella

I love the taste of restaurant paella, even though vegetarian versions are not authentic. But at home, it always falls short of my expectations until today. This recipe does not leave you with enough leftovers for a week. I usually use just normal long grain rice for paella but using short grain style rice, arborio like I did today gives a nice chewy texture to the dish. I usually crank up the heat to saute up the sofrito. But long, slow sauteeing for 15-20 min improved the flavor remarkably this time. Overall, it was very satisfying to eat a home cooked paella. Now that I have made a nice, tasty paella, maybe I will buy the neat paella pans next...

1 cup arborio rice or spanish short-grain rice
1 large onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp sazon blend (optional) or dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 green pepper, finely diced
2-3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup peas
1 tsp smoked paprika (I used ancho chile powder)
1 tsp saffron
2-2.5 cups vegetable broth, warmed
6 artichoke hearts, sliced into halves
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into strips
lemon wedges

1. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a large skillet, add onion, garlic and green pepper and saute until softened, 2-3 min. Turn down heat to medium-low, add herbs and tomatoes and saute for as long as 15-20 min till very soft and slightly caramelized.
2. Soak saffron in warm broth.
3. When the sofrito is done, add zucchini and rice. Saute for 1 min. Add wine and let it evaporate. Pour in the broth, add salt, paprika. Some recipes don't suggest covering and let the paella cook in the oven. I cover the pan and cook on stovetop.
4. Add peas half-way through. After the rice cooks completely, remove cover. Place artichokes and roasted pepper strips decoratively on top. Let the bottom of rice caramelize a little.
5. Serve warm with lemon wedges.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fridge clean-up: Chocolate mayonnaise cake

I am working against time to use up the odds and ends in my refrigerator before we move next week. This nice, everyday cake used up the mayo in the fridge. It is even better the next day, quite chocolaty for a cocoa powder based cake. I split the cake horizontally and sandwiched it with raspberry jam (lots of it). The jam did improve the taste phenomenally.

Chocolate mayonnaise cake

1 cup sugar
1 cup full-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Oven 350 degrees. Beat the sugar and mayonnaise until blended. Add the vanilla and blend. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and add it to the mayonnaise mixture in 3 batches alternating with the buttermilk. Pour into a greased and floured 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Microwave Plantain chips

Microwave potato chips are catching on in the Blogging world, thanks to Uncle Bill and Nic. It seems to be already getting ahead of self-frosting cupcakes. I tried it with idaho potatoes and in my first attempt I did burn most of the slices. I guess the trick, if any, is in the even slicing. I love plantain chips and tried making it in the microwave. It worked! I thinly sliced the plantains by hand, tossed them with some salt, chili powder and 1 tsp oil. Then they took around 3 min in the microwave. The extra oil is optional but since plantains are very dry inside, I liked the addition of oil.