A dash of pig fat adds extra goodness to any dish.Now that is something which is always echoed by TV's favorite chef Anthony Bourdain.Being an ardent fan of his, I really know how true that statement is.Two pieces of dry bread become magical when layered with pepperoni.So when we are cooking with piggy goodness, that dish royally treats our taste buds.So we decided to do just that: make it a piggy feast: Chorizo night. Tony took a backseat, as hubby decided to create some Mexican Chorizo magic. Chorizo is basically a Spanish  Pork Sausage. The Mexican variety is made of  Pork(Salivary Glands, Lymph Nodes, Pork Cheek,) Paprika, Salt, Mustard Powder, Garlic Powder, Oil, Vinegar and Soy Flour. It usually does not come in a casing, and can becooked like any ground meat. It was Chef Aaron Sanchez who came to hubby's rescue with his Chorizo and Potato Pepper Piccadillo recipe. To speak in desi terms, it is a spicier Aloo Keema, which caresses the taste buds in a comforting way, and where the mutton keema is replaced with a spicy ground pork. We are after all a TV obsessed couple, where our kitchen often becomes Kitchen Stadium, where television and food meet creatively.

It was my desire for something spicy, which led to the culinary replication and adaptation.When it comes to heat, if its not Indian, then its Mexican which satisfies my spicy taste buds and heat seeking soul.We did not have jalapenos at home, and we had also run out of olive oil. So the jalapenos in the recipe were replaced by the normal green chillies which we had picked up from the local Indian store. Yes, its the very same chilly which gives Maachher Jhol, the heat quotient and that sublime flavour.The absent olive oil, was replaced by good old canola oil. The taste did not even take a beating. We opted for some Indian bread rather than tacos or tortillas to go with the Chorizo. So it was Naan with a  good slathering of butter which made it a dinner to remember. For those of you who want to skip the piggy goodness, just substitute the chorizo with some mutton or chicken keema and temper it with some chilly powder.So give the calorie count a miss and give it a try !

Chorizo: 8oz pack(I used the Mexican variety, which is basically ground meat with spices)
Potato:2 : Peeled and cut into thick rounds
Canola Oil/ Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 4-5 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Jalapenos or Normal Green Chilly: 2: finely chopped
Onion: 1 large: sliced
Bell Pepper: 1 large: cut into strips
Chicken stock: 1 cup
Cilantro: 1/4 cup: chopped

Heat oil in pan and shallow fry the potatoes until they start to caramelise around the edges. Keep aside.

Toss the onions, chillies, bell pepper and chorizo in the pan, and cook  on medium heat till the veggies soften.
Keep stirring infrequently.

Add the chicken stock and season it with salt. The packaged chorizo already has some salt in it, so use salt with caution. Mix well. Increase the heat up a notch. Cook uncovered till the stock is reduced to around half.

Then add the cooked potatoes in it , and mix well. Continue to cook uncovered, till the liquid has dried up a bit more.

Finally add the chopped cilantro.
Mix well. Cook till you see the oil of the chorizo separating and the stock has almost dried up.

 Goes very well with any kind of bread, be it Tortillas, Rotis or even normal bread. I usually serve with hot naan glazed with butter.

Bon appetit.


Chocolate Chip Cookies De-mystified:

Just when I was sorting out the pictures of this blog post, I came across a post by a fellow blogger, about a baking class he attended. And somehow I found that very inspiring, going through the pictures and soaking in  the experience. It seemed to fortify my desire of attending a baking school and improve my baking skills. I am mostly a self taught baker, who started off at the old oven back in my maternal home in Calcutta. The old oven gave way to the convection microwave, and somehow some baking or the other, although pretty rudimentary, carried on.After shifting base to this country which I now call home, I fell in love with the lovely cooking range in  my kitchen. Baking began again, with a  new zest. Somehow I am not too keen on using cake mixes or cookies, and I like doing my baking from scratch. Puddings and pies, cakes and cookies, crumbles and strudels, yes, I did spin out all those.

The all time American favorite: the Chocolate Chip Cookie: happens to be my husband's favorite too. The man is choosy about what desserts he likes to have, and also his choice of cookies and biscuits. The store bought cookies were over, and there was half a packet of semi-sweet chocolate chips which had been lying in the refrigerator. So an hour before he got back home from work, the thought of baking him some cookies came to my mind. But cookie dough usually needs to be refrigerated, and I did not have that amount of time as I normally did when I baked cookies. Normally when i bake cookies, I usually keep my butter out of the refrigerator for a few hours to soften it, and which makes blending the dough easier. And then I keep the dough covered in cling film in the refrigerator for a few hours to firm it a  bit before baking.

However it was a different case this time. This was a sudden decision which needed a different plan of action. Then I came across my savior of the day: Stephanie of Joy Of Baking.She seemed to be also in a  hurry to bake up a batch of cookies, and so she took me through how to do it in her instructional video, which did not call for the refrigeration of the dough. When my husband wiped off  8 cookies in a jiffy, I knew that the plan and the recipe had worked.  So a huge thank you to Stephanie.

I also had to cook Chicken Curry and Rice for dinner and had a Hindi Movie date with hubby at the local theatre. The cookies turned out even better than I had imagined, and so did the dinner. The only dampener in the day was the boring Hindi film. Coming back to the cookies, I must say that I faced one problem. I do not have a stand mixer as has been shown in the video I was trying to follow. Mixing cake batter is something, but trying to cream almost frozen butter with two different kinds of sugar, did not quite work with the blender at home. I scraped all the dough off  into a large bowl, and whisked it all by hand. I guess I compensated for bunking gym for a day for the Bollywood flick, as It did take some muscle power to bring it all in one good consistency.  I remembered one thing, which I had heard from many people who regularly bake, that the cookie batter does not need to incorporate as much air as a cake batter needed.  Adding the eggs  to the batter made whisking a lot easier. I added the sieved dry ingredients in batches to the wet ingredients, and that made it easier to incorporate them and I was also saved from having flour all over meself. Another thing, which I would like to add is that my baking in general improved a lot, when  I started using standard measuring cups, as using the cups at home and the spoons, is not always a good idea, for something which always requires such specific measurements.

recipe courtesy:

All purpose Flour: 2 1/4 cups
Light Brown Sugar: 3/4 cup
Granulated White sugar: 3/4 cup
Butter: 2 sticks: 226 grams
Vanilla extract: 2 tbsp
Eggs: 2
Salt: 1 tsp
Baking powder: 1 1/2 tbsp
Semi-sweet Chocolate chips: 1 1/2 cups
Parchment paper
Baking trays

Take the two sticks of butter from the refrigerator and chop them into cubes.Microwave the butter for about 10 secs, to just take the chill off, yet keep it firm.  In a large bowl, add the cubed butter and the brown and white sugar, with a fork first to break it down. Then use a whisk to blend it all together.

Add the eggs in the creamed sugar mixture one by one, and the vanilla extract and keep whisking. The blending become easier at this stage. One trick, in baking is that, when you are whisking by hand, ensure that you only whisk in one direction, as this helps in folding in air in the batter.

In a another bowl, sieve in the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients in batches in the wet mixture and blend for a few minutes more till it all comes together well.

If you have an ice-cream scoop, which scoops around 2 tbsp, then use that to scoop out dough in a parchment paper lined baking tray, leaving some gap in between. I did not have an ice-cream scoop, so I used two tablespoons to scoop out the dough. As I used butter right form the refrigerator, I did not need to refrigerate the dough. I flattened out each scoop of the cookie dough with my fingers, to give me a round shape.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for around 10-12 minutes. When the cookies turn golden brown around the edges, take them out and cool them on a wire rack. I did not have a wire rack, so I just took the parchment paper off the baking tray with the cookies on it, and placed them on a table to cool down. The centers of teh cookie will be soft when you take the out, but they will firm up once cooled. If you want your cookies to be chewy, then you should only bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Or if you want them extra crisp, then bake them for 14 minutes. I baked each batch for around 12 minutes,and they were just perfect for me.

The batter made me around 35 large cookies.  The batter did not spread as Stephanie had warned it might, as the dough had not been frozen. All that I had were a big batch of large golden chocolate chip cookies.

Any leftovers of this dough can be frozen. Make small rounds of the dough and refrigerate them in a cookie tray. after the dough balls harden up, store them in a zip lock plastic bag and freeze them. Bake them to your convenience, but you might just need to increase the baking time by a few minutes.

With Thanksgiving just round the corner, I guess its time for me to bake some bread.

As I always say, Bon Appetit.


Staking it for Steak !

If someone asked me, if I could stake it all for one special dish on my plate, and repeated the identical query to my husband, while keeping us in two separate rooms: The answer would be identical: STEAK. Yes, we can say it once and a million times, we both love our share of steaks. And we both love it cooked medium rare, with the pink center gleaming as we cut into the flesh. That is exactly Delicioso. Mashed potatoes, green beans, french fries can be piled on.
I remember a trip to Summit County in Colorado, i guess almost two year back, where we had been for some Winter Sports. Snow Mobiling on the Rockies it was. After all the adventure and adrenaline rush, it was time to dig in to some good food. A good tip by our Snow Mobiling guide, led us to a quaint place called "THE HISTORIC MINT." The restaurant had a quaint factor about it. No wonder, as it had opened it doors in 1862. Old  Timers do not go wrong with basics, do they?! A well stocked bar was good enough, but what caught our eyes were two things.There was a counter resembling a deli counter, with a black board reading out prices of cuts of meats, and a peek around, revealed a huge grill. But hold on, that was not an open kitchen which we were staring at, or were the waiters dressed in casuals. What was exactly the deal?! Well, it was pretty simple. It was a place which catered to strict meat lovers. You ordered for your cut of meat, and headed off to the big grill, and grilled it yourself. So it was a barbecue without the cold Colorado Winter, playing tricks with us. The smile on our faces spelled it all out. A 22 ounce Rib eye it was, which landed on our plate, and hubby donned the grill master's cap. I added in my own expert comments, as he sweated it out on the grill. Our travel companions had settled in for a New York Strip Steak, and Kansas City loyalist had chosen the Kansas City Strip. The grill it was for all of us. The speciality of the grill was that it was made of lava rock, and therefore it did not leave any charcoal aftertaste on the meat. when we all dug into our meat, we thanked the local for the great tip about the eatery. Long Live Chuck, we all muttered in between our gulps. Boy, it was melting in our mouths. It was surely a steakhouse with a difference.
Needless to say,w e have steak cravings every now and then. Either we head for the steak houses, or on days, when we are too lazy, to venture out, we become grill masters at home. The love for Rib eye rules supreme usually. Just about sometime back,  I had picked up a leaner cut of Rib eye,from the local deli. well, we are both on a fitness regime, after all. PAN SEARED GARLIC CRUSTED RIB EYE with some heirloom potatoes and onions, with crunchy bacon, summed up the menu for dinner.The plate looked a bit messy for we were too eager to start digging in, rather than take a few aesthetic pictures. Did i mention how juicy and succulent the steak was. The man had nailed it yet again. Give calorie count a miss for a day, and enjoy meaty goodness, with crunchy potatoes. We all need to indulge ourselves every now and then.Even my trainer Sara feels the same.

Ribeye: 2
Garlic: minced: 3 tabsp
Olive Oil

Red Heirloom Potatoes: 4 per person
Onion: 1 medium sized onion cubed.
Fried Bacon: 4 slices
Olive oil
Coriander Leave: for garnish


Ensure that the meat is thawed. Season the meat with salt and pepper  and minced garlic on both sides. Marinate for a minimum of an hour.

 Take a large skillet and add butter and olive oil to it. Heat it to medium-high, but ensure that the grease mix does not get burnt. Toss in two sprigs of thyme in it and then carefully place the steaks one beside each other. Brown the steaks around 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the meat to an oven proof casserole and bake at 350F for around 5 minutes more, if you want it medium rare like us. Add in the cubed onions beside the meat Take the meat out and let them rest on plates. Do not cut the steak just then, as this resting time allows the juices to re-allign in the steak. Keep the onions in a  separate bowl. The onions should just about get translucent and lose their crunch.

In the same pan, toss in the heirloom red potatoes. If you do not have heirloom potatoes, then use normal red potatoes, cutting them in half.

Add in salt and pepper and crank up the heat a bit, to add a crunch to the potato. Take the potatoes out, crumble the crispy fried bacon over it, add in some chopped coriander,and the baked onions.

Place the cooked steak on the plate, and add your potatoes beside it. Make sure to dispose off the thy,e sprigs,which we forgot to, before we took the pictures. We were to eager to start digging in.

Well, it is a hearty meal, so you will need to run a few extra miles on the treadmill. But let me tell you, it is totally worth it.

As I always say, Bon appetit !

For those of you who want to head to the Rockies, do stop over at:
The Historic Mint
347 Blue River Parkway,Silverthorne, Colorado: 80468