Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Buttermilk Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers

Years ago, while I was still a working woman, a co-worker brought in this snack for a potluck. It's so crunchy, delicious, and easy to assemble that I wonder why it's taken so long to resurface.

1 (0.4 oz. pkg.) Buttermilk Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 (12 oz.) pkg. oyster crackers


  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir oil, dressing mix, dill and garlic powder until mixed through.
  3. Pour crackers in a large pan and pour prepared oil over crackers..
  4. Toss crackers until well coated with oil.
  5. Arrange crackers on an ungreased cookie sheet in a single layer.
  6. Bake at  250°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until crackers are golden brown.
  7. Store in an airtight container after cooling to room temperature.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Easy Kosha Mangsho - Simmered Lamb Curry

Kosha (stirred & simmered) Mangsho (meat) produces a lamb curry that is bathed in a thick gravy. Note that no water or watery ingredients are added during cooking in order to ensure a thick sauce or gravy. Tomato ketchup or paste is used, not pureed tomatoes, for this reason. Why call this recipe easy? Because it takes a couple of hours or more to cook this on the stove top. By using a pressure cooker, the cooking time is reduced drastically and the meat falls off the bones.

Bone-in leg of baby lamb works best for this recipe and purchasing from a halal meat store ensures tenderness and good quality meat. I ask the butcher to cut the leg into pieces suitable for stewing and to pack it in 3-4 separate portions. That cuts down on work once I get it home, so all I have to do is freeze it until ready to be cooked.

We generally don't eat lamb unless company's coming, so that makes it an extra-special meal. Most of the fat is removed during the butchering process, but a sufficient amount remains which gives the lamb its familiar flavor. 

It's a family tradition to add potatoes to meat dishes and I've used one large russet potato chopped into pieces similar in size to the pieces of lamb. For an added festive touch, this dish can be garnished with deep fried onions just prior to serving.

2 lbs. lamb, cut in big chunks & washed
2 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or paprika
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. garlic paste
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. cumin-coriander powder
2 Tbsp. tomato ketchup or paste (not pureed)
salt to taste

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
3 large black cardamom
1 star anise
2 large onions, halved & sliced in crescents

1 russet potato, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala (ground cinnamon, cardamom & cloves)
salt to taste

  1. Marinate lamb in next 7 ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
  2. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
  3. Take lamb out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
  4. Heat pressure cooker over medium-high heat and add oil.
  5. When oil is hot, sputter next 4 ingredients until aromatic.
  6. Stir-fry onions until translucent and add lamb.
  7. Stir well and simmer until juices are released.
  8. Cover pressure cooker & bring to full pressure.
  9. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes & remove from heat.
  10. Allow pressure to dissipate completely before removing cover.
  11. Add potatoes, stir well and place over medium-low heat.
  12. Simmer for half an hour or until potatoes are tender.
  13. Adjust salt to taste and stir in garam masala.
  14. Serve with Indian bread or steamed Basmati rice.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Burmese Stir-Fried Garlicky Shrimp

Pazun Hsipyan
These shrimp (pazun) are stir-fried until the "oil resurfaces" (hsipyan). Most of the effort in preparing this dish is spent in shelling and deveining the shrimp, which take no time at all to cook. Keep this recipe in your repertoire of dishes that can be prepared in a hurry. The shrimp can be cleaned and marinated in advance and then cooked just before serving.

1 lb. shrimp, shelled & deveined
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
1 large onion, peeled, halved & sliced in thin crescents
1 large tomato, diced
1 serrano pepper, diced
1 bunch cilantro stems, diced
1/2 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or paprika
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste

  1. Marinate shrimp with turmeric & fish sauce for 15 minutes or longer.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet/wok over medium-high heat and add paprika.
  3. Stir-fry onions, peppers & garlic until onions are translucent.
  4. Lower heat to medium, add tomatoes & simmer until oil resurfaces.
  5. Add shrimp & cilantro stems and stir-fry until shrimp are no longer pink.
  6. Adjust salt to taste & serve immediately over steamed long-grain rice.
Note: No water is used in cooking this dish. The gravy/sauce is the light olive oil (white & odorless) that I used which turned red from Kashmiri mirch and tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baked Mushroom Pilaf

Baked Mushroom Pilaf
Did you know you can bake rice from scratch in the oven? It works really well and combined with a couple of cans of soup and mushrooms, it tastes amazing! Oh, I almost forgot to mention that most of the taste comes from the butter which is the fifth ingredient! No need to add salt because the soups have plenty.

Facebook is my #1 go-to source for recipes these days. A couple of days ago, I came across a recipe called Stick of Butter Rice which I vowed to try as soon as possible. It sounded divine. Today was the perfect time to experiment because I have to take something for a Christmas potluck tomorrow. 

Normally I would just point you to the original recipe, but because I used Basmati rice, baking times were a little different and I added fresh shiitake mushrooms. The umami from the mushrooms and butter make this a winner!

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed in several changes of water & drained
1 (10 oz.) can Campbell's Cream of French Onion soup
1 (10 oz.) can Campbell's Beef Broth
1 (1/2 cup) stick of butter, sliced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425*F.
  2. Place drained rice in a 9X9 inch glass baking dish.
  3. Pour both cans of soup over rice.
  4. Layer mushrooms over top and dot with sliced butter.
  5. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 452*F for 30 minutes.
  6. Take foil off & bake for another 20 minutes just until edges crisp & brown.
  7. Turn oven off and take baking pan out of oven.
  8. Cover dish with foil and leave at room temperature for 10-20 minutes.
Serve with a salad or raita such as Fuji Apple Raita. It tastes yummy!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Baked Tandoori Cauliflower & Potato Casserole

Tandoori Cauliflower & Potato Casserole
One of my favorite food blogs is The English Kitchen, which inspired this dish. I've switched out and added several ingredients to favor my Indian palate and it turned out to be perfect!

Take it easy with the salt because grated cheese has plenty. Serve as a side dish with grilled meats, chicken, fish or shrimp.

1 large russet potatoes, peeled, sliced & blanched
1 large cauliflower, trimmed, sliced & blanched
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 oz. Greek/hung yogurt
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 (8 oz.) cups grated Mexican blend cheese 
2 tsp. tandoori masala powder
1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch/paprika
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
butter to dot the top
salt to taste

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350*F.
  2. Heat oil, and stir-fry onions, cauliflower & potatoes, cover and simmer until cooked.
  3. Season with tandoori powder, paprika and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in yogurt, mixing it into gravy.
  5. Spray a baking dish with Pam non-stick butter spray.
  6. Layer onions, potatoes, cauliflower and cheese twice.
  7. Pour chicken broth around edges and dot top with butter.
  8. Bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes until bubbling & golden brown.
Serve hot as a side dish with grilled meat, fish or shrimp.