Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ice Cream Happinezz For A Much Too-Hot Day

(From Tuesday, May 24th)

I made my first purchase in India today, at an outdoor vendor in 104 degree heat and blazing sun. Well, technically my father-in-law did all the negotiating and paying. I just pointed to the big beautiful textile I wanted for our entry-way and it was acquired for me.

Amit's School

We are in Ahmedabad right now, which is my husband's hometown of 7 years. He spent time before and after in Kolkata before settling in New York for the past 20 years. We were actually making a pit-stop today for ice cream in an area his family used to hang out in, and we came across my husband's childhood school. We took a couple pics, wandered a few minutes in the sweltering heat, and quickly browsed vendors goods before we found where the old ice cream shoppe had relocated.

The cool air inside and so many cool flavors of all-vegetarian (meaning egg-less) ice creams made up for the walk in the heat. I love purple ice cream, so I got Black Currant. It was kind of like eating mini raisins. I liked it. Aside from that, I tried my family's Lychee, Fig, Butterscotch Crunch and Caramel Crunch.

My family ordering ice cream at Happinezz

I think my sister-in-law tried bites of at least 12 flavors at the counter, as she's a bit indecisive. Ok, more than a bit - she ended up with plain-jane strawberry-vanilla. I don't think she noticed that, suddenly, every ice-cream guy in the joint (6 exactly) lined up behind the counter to watch
this beautiful girl eating from tiny spoons.

Sunset, somewhere in Gujarat

Now we are in a big van driving to the next stop on the Western leg of our India journey: Rajkot. Hopefully there I can wash my sweat-sticky hands, dirty toes, and maybe even go for a proper swim at the gorgeous hotel we are to stay in ( for about $45/night).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Ahmedabad, India

McDonalds In India

(from Tuesday, May 24th)

We arrived in Ahmedabad at 3am this morning. After 2 days of luxury mall shopping, skiing and dining in Dubai, India is a shocking contrast.

Dubai at sunset

Dubai Marina and The Palm

I wish there had been a way to avoid American food in Dubai, but everything is quite western there. They have everything the same - even the most current movies in theater, and tv shows like The Daily Show are only a week delay. It's kind of like going to Vegas.

Street shots, Ahmedabad

Here in India, I'm more welcoming of some American experiences. But unlike the exact replicas in the U.A.E., Indian versions add local flavor.

McD's Indian menu

My in-law family and I were super excited to try McDonalds over here. There's such a huge vegetarian population over here, especially where we are now in Gujarat. Most of the menu is vegetarian and really interesting - they even keep meat and veg separate. You won't find any hamburgers here made from sacred cows - the McVeggie is the basic order.

Separate veg and non-veg won't ever meet by mistake

3 out of 4 of us had the awesome crispy McSpicy Paneer sandwich and my sister-in-law got McAloo Tikki sandwich. The paneer was crunchy and deep fried like chicken and covered in lettuce and melted American cheese on a bun - it was pretty fantastic and I would choose it any day over a McChicken. The aloo was good too - reminds me of a grilled sandwich my mother-in-law makes filled with potato and spices. The fries were exactly like home.

I haven't been excited about McDonalds since I was a kid - before I knew anything about nutrition. I haven't eaten from there in at least 10 years because I get sick every time (even from a shake). But not this time - everything was great, including walking into the glorious air conditioning from 104 degrees outside.

In India. McDonalds is not cheap fast food for the budget conscious, it's actually a coveted treat for the affluent.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Ahmedabad, India

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wild Alaskan Coho Salmon with Basil-Lime Pesto

Sorry guys -  not my best photos - but definitely good enough to eat!

Long story short....
I'm getting ready to leave for a 2 week trip to Dubai and India, so I've been packing and gathering. There's still more to do. I've just been soooo sick the last week that I have not been able to get much done. Something bacterial that's going around hit me hard. Fever, congestion, fatigue, and an eye and ear infection. The wrong medication hit me even harder, but I'm finally functional again after a Z-pack. Just waiting for my ear to stop ringing, hopefully in time to fly!

I have to confess this has caused me to fall off the mostly vegetarian / healthy eating wagon I've been on lately. I had even started to just lose weight without even trying! But after days of soup and not being able to cook, all I wanted was chicken fingers and fries, bacon, and steak. So today I'm easing back into the game with some healthy salmon.

Maybe I'm just freaking out because I know I'll be eating only vegetarian once we get to India. I love Indian food, but I have a hard time eating it twice in one day, let alone every meal 10 days straight.

Anyways, here's some yummy salmon for those of you who like fish, but kind of like to drown it in sauce.

Look how huge my basil plant's leaves have gotten! Time for pesto.

Salmon with Basil-Lime Pesto
*1 large serving - increase recipe per portion

Poached Salmon:
1 6-8oz wild salmon fillet (not farmed)
Sea salt
Lime slices

Basil-Lime Pesto:
3 T Olive Oil
1 T fresh lime juice
3/4 C torn basil leaves
1/8 tsp fresh garlic
2 tsp pine nuts
pinch of sea salt

Delicious pesto!
1.  Prepare the pesto. Add all ingredients to a chopper or food processor and pulse until well blended. Adjust to taste if needed.

7oz Wild Coho fillet, ready for a hot bath.
2. Season the salmon with a dash of sea salt and ground pepper. Add water to a shallow skillet to about 1/2" deep. Add a few peppercorns, teaspoon of sea salt and a few lime slices. Bring to a boil.

Poaching liquid ready.
3. Lay the salmon fillet into the pan gently. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, about 10 minutes. Fish is cooked when it flakes with a fork at the fattest part. Remove to a plate with a spatula.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sweet Eggo Sandwich

Remember Eggo waffles? I’ve sort of fallen back into the lazy childhood habit of eating them for breakfast. From freezer, to toaster, to covered in syrup, to gone, in under 10 minutes. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. 

Waffles spread with cream cheese and strawberry-raspberry preserves
Especially today, when I’m home with the flu, or whatever it is, and still don’t feel like putting any effort into eating. They’re more of a pick-me-up if you eat them with your hands, like a sandwich, with some sweet stuff mooshed inside. Sickness really causes you to regress back to the basics, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rock Shrimp, Avocado and Orange Salad

Ohmygod this salad is the BEST. Refreshing, bright, buttery, crunchy, sweet, peppery....

It's rare that I so blatantly aggrandize my creations, but you really do have to try this. Seriously...

First off, rock shrimp are amazing. I've always assumed they were smaller and inferior to the giant varieties. Not so. They taste a lot like lobster tail when broiled and soaked in butter, lemon and pepper. In this leaf-less salad, smooth, buttery, ripe avocado melds well with the shrimp. The juicy, acidic, orange cuts their richness, and toasted almonds add crunch. An orange honey mustard vinaigrette further marries the flavors, and a chiffonade of basil adds a fresh licorice pop.

Yeah. It's all that.

Rock Shrimp, Avocado and Orange Salad
(measurements are for 1 serving, increase accordingly)

For the shrimp:
1/4 lb wild rock shrimp, shelled & cleaned
1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 T lemon juice
sea salt & a generous amount of black pepper

For the salad:
1 small, ripe, avocado cut into slices
1/2 Navel orange, sliced and peel removed
1 T sliced almonds, toasted
1 medium basil leaf, cut into chiffonade
sea salt & black pepper

For the dressing:
1 T orange juice (squeezed from the navel orange)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp honey
1 T walnut oil
*I liked closer to a 1:1 ratio of oil to orange juice here, but you may want to stick to the classic 3:1 ratio if you are making a larger portion.

1. Prep the base of the salad by toasting almonds and slicing the avocados and oranges. Layer them on individual plates.  Lightly salt and pepper the salads and reserve basil for garnish.

2. Toss shrimp with a dash of sea salt and pepper, lemon juice and melted butter. Place the shrimp in a single layer on a broiler pan or sheet pan lined with tinfoil. 

3. While waiting for the broiler to heat up, prepare the dressing by whisking together orange juice, mustard, honey and walnut oil. Adjust to taste. Drizzle a couple tablespoons over each salad plate.

4. Broil the shrimp about 4" from heat until opaque - which may take as little as 2 minutes in the bottom of a gas stove or 5-7 minutes in an electric oven. Remove promptly and top each salad with shrimp. 

5. Drizzle a bit more dressing over the salad and top with basil.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Maibock and Pretzel Chip Snacks

There's nothing like a good German beer and a pretzel snack at 5pm. Although these long, sunny, spring days have me pining for some serious day-drinking. Not Oktoberfest level, just that beginning-of-the-year entry-level drinking. I guess that's what they had in mind with HB Maibock - something special to mark the change of season. And it reminds me of drinking from giant mugs in the actual Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

Beer-time leads to snack-time.  It's become a favorite treat of mine to spread cream cheese on top of Everything Pretzel Crisps and sprinkle on caraway seeds. It's like a tiny bit of bagel. My husband suggested Za'atar seasoning, so we played taste-test.

He preferred the gentle seasoning of the Za'atar, but I still went for the caraway for the added crunch and the smokey-sharp flavor. As I've said before, I'm pretty obsessed with anything that tastes like an everything-bagel.

Top: Cream Cheese & Caraway, Bottom: Cream Cheese & Za'atar

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring Fever

Juicy Cantaloup season is starting
There hasn't really been any blog-worthy material in my world lately. I also feel a bit lazy about this thing, the past few weeks. I finally achieved organizing the recipe index (see new tab above), which took quite some time, and then I kind of just took a break. Spring is fully here, and I don't care to spend it in the kitchen. I pretty much chop some fruit to bring to work, and that's about it.

Fort Greene Park, all leafy and springy
I've been itching to go out lately, whether to be social, try new food, or just enjoy the warmer weather. There are so many places in NYC to explore, and I feel like there's never enough time to get to everything. My most notable discoveries in recent weeks were Stuzzicheria (trendy Tribeca Italian fit for a date), the Chef Samir Truck (hearty, healthy midtown lunch), and Toloache (flavor-bursting creative tacos).

Doesn't it just look so nice and fun out there? Let's get outside.
Aside from exploring, I'm also gearing up for some major travel later this month. We're still firming up plans for a trip through Dubai and 3 cities in India, so my brain is a bit pre-occupied. I'm trying to drop a few pounds before donning a sari, and also collect any new clothing items I will need for 110 degree temps where you're not encouraged to show much leg. Both are coming along ok, but have taken priority over other personal projects.

Maybe this week I will get the creative-kitchen bug back, while my husband is away at work in Detroit. Maybe not. If I do, you'll be the first to know, right here!

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