Monday, September 29, 2008

Potato and Coconut Singara Logs

This is a recipe from my favorite Indian cookbook: Lord Krishna's Cuisine by Yamuni Devi.
It is the best Indian vegetarian book I have ever come across and these have been a favorite in our house for almost 20 years. My BF keeps kosher so in the early days he gave me this cookbook as a way to explore non-meat cooking. This is one of many Indian dishes that goes great with the Peach Chutney recipe I wrote about yesterday (scroll down and also see teh cooking demo for it.)

These are time consuming but well worth it - make a big batch and freeze half - always a hit at a cocktail party or as part of an Indian dinner.

In a large mixing bowl combine: 1 ½ cups Flour, ½ t salt, 1/8 t baking powder. Slowly incorporate the 3 T melted ghee or butter and combine until the mixture resembles a course meal. Add a few tablespoons of ice water until the dough holds its shape and can be kneaded. On a clean surface knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth and very pliable, return dough back to bowl, cover with oil and let rest for 30-60 minutes. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic. Conversely this can be done in a food processor.

Cut 2 ½ c potatoes (peeled or not) into ¼” dice. Heat 2 ½ -3 inches of oil in a sauté pan until the temperature reaches 365F. Add half the diced potatoes and fry for about 5 minutes until they become buff tan but not brown. Remove, drain and repeat. When done set aside on a towel to remove as much oil as possible.

Place 2 T of ghee or oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot but not smoking add 1-¼ t cumin seeds, 1/3 t yellow asafetida powder (also known as hing) and fry until the seeds have darkened a few shades and give off an aroma. Stir in the potatoes, ½ c peas, cooked (optional I'd only use peas if they were in season) 2/3 C shredded unsweetened coconut, 2 to 3 hot chilies, seeded and minced (keeping the seeds in makes it hotter), ½ inch piece ginger minced, 1 t Turmeric, ¼ t cayenne, 1 ½ t salt, 1 ¼ t garam masala, and combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook the potato mixture for approx. 10 minutes. The potatoes should be soft and the mixture “dry".

Remove from the heat add 1 T Lemon Juice, 1 t sugar, 2 T chopped fresh coriander and mash. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Knead the dough again briefly then divide it into 2 pieces, roll each into a rope approx. 8” long and cut each rope into 8 pieces (16 pieces) roll each piece into a ball and place on a plate when completed place a damn cloth over the dough balls. Collect the items you will need to assemble the logs: a sharp knife, a bowl of water, dusting flour and a rolling pin. Take one ball and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a thin rectangle about 6 x 4”, you can accomplish this by making a piece bigger and then trimming it with your knife. Dip your fingers in the water and dampen along the rim of the pastry, 1” away from the end of the pastry add a log shaped piece if filling, roll, press firmly to seal, place on a cookie sheet and with the tines of a fork crimp the ends of each log, repeat. Keeping the logs under moist towel as you work.

Heat the oil in your deep fryer or what ever you are using until it reaches 355F. Fry in small batches until the logs are golden brown and flaky.

Serve with Peach Chutney.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Peach Chutney recipe/Indian Food

Last week I posted a video of me making Peach Chutney as part of a larger Indian Feast - Indian food is so complex and delicious; it's also easy to make at home. It also is a great way to cook vegetarian - I never think I'm missing anything (like fish or meat) when I have a good Indian meal.

my Peach Chutney- this is something I make from my head but here is guideline to follow.

Peaches in season are so wonderful you want to have them all year around, making and putting up this chutney is one way to do that. Not only is it great as an accompany to meat, fish or curries it is great with a grilled cheese sandwich or just a piece of cheddar.

In a cast iron skillet add:
2tsp cumin seeds, 2tsp black mustard seeds and cook over medium heat until the cumin seeds brown and the mustard seeds start to pop.
1/4 cup of  canola oil or ghee (Indian clarified butter) to the frying pan with the seeds in it.
Stir in:
2 medium onions chopped roughly
Saute until the onions have wilted and become translucent - about 10 minutes over a medium heat. Add:
4-6 finely mined garlic cloves. Cook for two minutes until the garlic has been incorporated and wilted but not browned.

Stir in:
2 hot peppers chopped roughly with seeds in (I use Jalapeno but Serrano or Thai would be fine. If you are heat sensitive remove seeds - the Thai peppers are the hottest of the three list Jalepeno the mildest.)

A generous portion of grated fresh ginger - approx 2 T

Cook to incorporate (a minute or so), then add:
1/2 tsp Tumeric powder, 1 T ground Coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper,
1 tsp Chunky Chat Masala (or just regular curry powder)
Over medium heat stir this mixture of aromatics and spice until the oil starts to separate - a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Mix in:
1 Cup raw or brown sugar 1 Cup apple cider vinegar
6 cups peeled  and roughly chopped peaches
(you can use apricots, plums, mango or any variation depending on what is in season in your area)

Simmer over medium low heat for about an hour or until the mixture has gotten thick and jam like. I like for there to still be chunks of fruit so the spicy sour sweet chutney has a burst of fresh fruit flavor every time you bite into some Peach.

TASTE IT and re-season to your liking. You may want to add a titch of salt or adjust the sugar/vinegar ratio. This is my basic guideline I encourage you to take it and run. I like to add freshly grated black pepper at the end and if I use Peaches 1 Teaspoon of dried ginger as well as the fresh.

It is a great staple - don't let the Indian ingredients scare you off. Here's a great resource:

123 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016
TEL : 212-685-3451
FAX : 212-683-8458

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Want a home cooked meal?

After months of being prodded and encouraged, and months of no or very dodgy employment I have decided to strike out on my own!

Dinner parties from 2-12 at your place or at mine.
(certain restriction apply to events hosted at our space in addition to a space rental fee.)

I shop at the market, buy the freshest local ingredients and create a menu for you and your needs.

Simple, tasty, home cooked food.
I can buy wine as well.

I charge $50 an hour with a 4 hour minimum.

To prepare more elaborate parties it may take two days (or longer).

Groceries are billed separately.

Baked goods are also available for purchase if you would like a special cake, crumble cookies or pies made.

If you have a cooking need let me know I'm sure I can help you out with it.

For more information drop me a line here, or write me at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Bon Apetite!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Streit's Matzos on the Lower East Side

The press in New York have called the Lower East Side the most interesting, exciting and up and coming neighborhood in the city. Like most things the press says it's a bit of hype with some truth stirred in.

What makes the Lower East Side, where my boyfriend and I live, interesting is that it has retained it's diversity. It has yet to become a monotonous row of fancy clothing shops, design shops, museums, expensive restaurants and bars. It's working on it - especially with the addition of the Thompson LES hotel that will feature Susur Lee's first NYC dining room after being a star in Toronto for years. He's so dedicated to this endeavor that he closed down his very successful Toronto restaurant so he could focus on it.

Sorry about the digression.

The point I'm trying to make is that along with all that typical stuff, you still have lots of housing projects, poor people, a wonderful diaspora of people from all over the world, especially the food/produce aromas and bustle of Chinese culture, the persistent orthodox Jewish presence, and a fun Latin vibe. It is, in fact, still a neighborhood while most of the rest of Manhattan has become alley ways of luxury condominiums.

I walk by the Streit's factory on Rivington street almost daily. The other day, the adjacent Streit's store was open so I went in and bought some matzo for my boyfriend. But, as he keeps insisting, it turns out to be an amazing way to eat local cheese, that I can buy around the corner at the Essex street market from Ann and Benoit at Saxelby Cheese.

Make a journey downtown if you live in New York and visit a New York landmark - no telling how longer it will stay there.

For those of you unable to visit I took two videos, one from the inside, one from the outside.

I love this place.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Peach Chutney

My friend Philip was over and he has camera experience so we made a little impromptu video of me making chutney last night for a little Indian veggie feast I was throwing together.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008



From: jbrenman, 2 months ago

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

This is an educational presentation exploring humanity's water use and the emerging worldwide water shortage. It is designed to act as a stand-alone presentation. Enjoy!

SlideShare Link

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What to eat?

Increasingly, I have anxiety.

It's free floating and wide ranging.

But it takes roots in my interest in food: where it is grown, how it is grown, and how it is used.

Is it just something farmers grow that we can happily enjoy on our plates? Or, in this day and age, is food even always food? Or is it a commodity, something to be made into other things like commercial soy and corn?

What about genetically modified soy grown in fields that used to be the rainforest? That should give us all anxiety. Oil based fertilizers, decreasing seed diversity, proprietary seed companies like Monsanto who have made it illegal – yes, illegal – to save seeds (every year you plant Monsanto seeds you have to sign an agreement preventing you from ownership of your corn seeds and requiring you to buy new seeds each year).

We have created artificial “nature" (an oxymoron?) that destroys itself after one season so it can create better profit for the corporations that sell it, depriving farmers of a life that has been practiced for thousands of years based on the saving and trading of seeds and, thus, the saving and trading of diversity fundamental to safe agricultural propagation –anyone remember the Irish potato famine?

Food shouldn't be complicated. How is it we got ourselves so far away from the field, the kitchen, the kitchen table and our families? My manifesto is that we need to stop eating these products. We need to be aware that ALL PROCESSED food is worrisome, even if it is labeled Organic. How is it that a microwaved Boca Burger with soy cheese on it is considered a healthy option?

The conditioning to eat edible substances that are not truly food is deeply embedded in the way the last few generations of Americans have been raised. Think about popcorn at the movies. One goes to the movies – has always gone to the movies – and entering the cinema, the smell is overwhelming, tempting, and delightful. In response to that smell, our conditioning tells us: eat popcorn! Eat buttered popcorn! Eat it in vast quantities and alternate the salty with the sweet: soda!!!

But is it popcorn? Is it butter? Is it even sugar? The popcorn is now a single crop, non-diverse product of industrial agriculture – no variations, no diversity, and precious little flavor.

The typical conversation:

"Hi, can I have a large soda water and a large popcorn please"

"Soda Water?"

"Seltzer, you know, plain"

"Oh. And a large popcorn."


"You want butter on that?

"Is it real butter?


Now first thing that comes to mind is how is it that it is legal to ask "Do you want butter on it?" when it's not butter?

To me this represents everything that is wrong with how we eat and our commercial food culture.

How do we change such a deeply embedded culture of non-food consumption? Would it be such a challenge for someone like say the Landmark Sunshine theaters to start offering local heirloom popcorn with real butter at their theaters? And, if you really need something sweet, how about drinks sweetened with real sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup (would you like some diabetes inducing poison with your non-buttered popcorn?) Start eating real food like that and the edible non-foods available at AMC and Loew’s theaters will become clearly detestable in a short time. One's tastebuds quickly adjust to re-recognize "the real" from the the poison.

We eat things based on a certain willingness to believe what we are told:

"High in Fiber!" "Heart Healthy" "Low in Sugar!" "Healthy!" "Natural!"


We've been sold a nasty bill of goods for at least the last 30 years since the discovery of high fructose corn syrup.

Look at grocery store and butcher's windows. Ever notice the sign that proudly says:
"Corn Fed?" Funny how we take this as a sign of something good and healthy. It conjures bucolic images of Americana: “Oh what a beautiful morning – all the cattle are standing like statues – the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye!”

Sadly, corn is poison to cows and makes them so sick, with such terrible gas, that they have to be given antibiotics (yes, that’s why our beef cattle are loaded with antibiotics). And the methane produced by the abnormal digestion of corn is now known to be a clear contributor to greenhouse gases and to climate change.

Does this benefit anyone? Not the cows. Not those of us who want to eat them. But the cattle industry grows ever richer and they and their lobbyists who control policy in Washington have been give free range (more then is given to their cows) to deceive us.

OK so you've heard this rant before? Actually, I'm amazed really, after all these years, that it still gets to me in such a powerful way.

Yet food is such an emotional issue and even people who know better break down and eat shit they shouldn't, myself included. It's hard. We each have a personal history of eating and all the associations and meanings that go with it.

So, with this blog I am trying to offer a start, an approach to eating real food in the city. In the country I would think it would be even easier and hopefully wouldn’t require an on line blog to provide the information. (If you live in a suburb, well, I'm sorry for you as it seems to me there is nothing of value in suburbs, just miles of strip malls, box stores and commercial grocery stores with four miles of corn syrup infused breakfast cereals to get you and your children off to a good start!)

Since I’m really a city boy – always have been and always will be – I'm not interested in living in the country. How can I make city living, well, specifically city eating, as connected to the land as possible? And avoid the ubiquitous commercial food? And still have a life and make a living?

My fantasy would be to live in a city where it was possible to have some small plot of land that you could plant, a roof filled with solar panels that provides a majority of our electricity as well as rain water collection. A city where you could take public transport or a bike every where you needed to go, where you have density and community and are able to provide yourself with most of the basics without having to have it flown in from Chile or New Zealand or California.

I can't see myself moving any time soon. (Though I do have an ongoing affair with Vancouver that I just can't seem to quit.) How can I make my NYC realty as green and responsible as possible without making everyone around me crazy?

So I try. And I start by stressing the need to buy as much that is produced locally as possible.

There are certainly things that I would say are necessary exceptions that I hope I never have to do without. They are, in no particular order: coffee, chocolate, spices, lemon and lime, citrus from Texas and Florida (but only when it's in season there), ginger, Spanish wine and cane sugar.

Otherwise everything else is here. New York City markets have a vast selection of meat vendors from pheasant sausage to soup chickens, wonderful fish from Long Island, cheese from all over, eggs, milk, cream, yogurt, jams and of course lots of fruits and vegetables. As long as you like apples, the winter isn't really so bad.

I encourage you to make your list.
To think before you eat.
To question everything you put into your mouth
To start making a change and committing to eating real food.
To give up your microwave and your frozen dinners and your soda, to give up ordering in from restaurants that don’t provide you with edibles derived from ingredients that meet your standards (and, thus, start cooking your own food, in your own kitchen).
To realize that every little step makes a difference not only for you, and your family's health and happiness, but for the whole planet.

Another way I alleviate my anxiety is by taking part in the bigger discussion - here's a good start:
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