December 15, 2010

Easy Peasy Shrimp Salan (Curry)

Earlier this week I had discovered some kosher fresh mozzarella balls at the store and thought they would be interesting to work into a pasta dish.  I didn't have any meat ready or seafood on hand, so I ended up making a vegetarian pasta with Smart Health spaghetti, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, the fresh cheese with the sauce it came with and salt and pepper.  My husband, ever the carnivore, thought it tasted good, but would taste even better with shrimp or shredded chicken.  Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to pick up some shrimp to make the pasta again, but I forgot to get the cheese. Instead of making the pasta, I ended up throwing some ingredients together in a pot and came up with this easy shrimp salan/curry. It involves a small list of simple ingredients and about 20-30 minutes of cooking time. What you are left with is a curry that you can eat with pita or over rice.

Shrimp Salan

20-30 raw white shrimp, thawed, deveined and shell removed
3 tsp minced garlic, reserve 1 tsp to the side
1/4 tsp salt
4 Roma tomatoes, cut into half and then chopped
2 small onions, diced
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup of water
1 tsp chopped coriander
cayenne chili powder and salt to taste

In a medium pot add the oil and onions. Soften the onions over medium heat until transparent.  While the onions are cooking, prepare the shrimp and marinate in the reserved garlic and and 1/4 tsp salt and set aside. Once the onions are ready, add in the minced garlic and chopped tomatoes.  Cook this mixture until the tomatoes begin to break down.  Add in the turmeric, salt, chili powder and water. Continue to cook the onions and tomatoes over medium heat. Taste the curry base for salt and heat. Add more salt and chili powder as necessary.
Once the mixture resembles the picture to the right, add the shrimp.

Watch over the pot and stir occasionally.  The shrimp will start to curl and turn pink. Once all of the shrimp have turned pink (2-3 minutes), taste the mixture, adjust for spices and stir in the chopped coriander. Remove from heat immediately. Serve with pita or rice.

December 9, 2010

Slaw it up

I don't know about you, but lately I've been getting tired of the typical dinner salad with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and bottled dressing.  To get some inspiration, I headed to the produce section of the grocery store after my gym class and came out with carrot slaw, broccoli slaw, cherry tomatoes and pomegranates.  What resulted was a colourful salad filled with crunch and tang. 

Broccoli Carrot Slaw Salad

1/2 bag of broccoli slaw, washed and drained
1/2 bag of carrot slaw, washed and drained
10-15 cherry tomatoes, washed, drained and halved
seeds from 2 pomegranates
juice of 4 key limes
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1- 2 tsp dried oregano

In a medium bowl, mix in the broccoli slaw, carrot slaw, cherry tomatoes and pomegranate seeds.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, juice 4 key limes and mix in the olive oil and oregano.  Pour over the slaw salad and mix gently. 


December 8, 2010

My mom's Hajj send off

Last month, my mom, accompanied by my aunt and cousin, went for Hajj, the once-in-a-lifetime obligatory pilgrimage that every Muslim must make to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Prior to her leaving, I decided to have a small, all-female gathering at my place so she could meet some people before leaving and for those same people to give her well wishes before embarking on this spiritual journey.  The dinner portion of the evening turned out to be a pot luck set up in a buffet style.  Dessert was all mine.   I decided to stray away from some of the more healthier desserts out there and tried two recipes that caught my eye. For plating, I used a three-tier display tree that my mom had given me way back when.

The first one I'm going to share is a sour cream chocolate cake with minimal adaptation.  This recipe I got from Lynn's Kitchen.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour ( You could also use a nutri-blend flour to get more health benefits)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-round cake pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan lightly. In a medium bowl, stir together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, use a hand mixer to cream butter and sugar together until light and airy. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat in vanilla and reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture in two batches, alternating between the sour cream.  Make sure you start and end with the flour.  Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick test comes clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cook completely on a cooling rack.

To ice the cake, I melted 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips with a pat of butter over a double boiler. Once melted, use an off-set spatula to spread over the cooled cake.   Once the icing has set, cut into small pieces.

The second dessert item was blackberry jam bars from Elissa at 17 and Baking.  Some of the adaptations I did were cutting down the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups, reducing the sugar in my drizzle and using milk for my drizzle.

Blackberry Jam Bars

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup seedless blackberry jam**

1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons 1% milk
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a half rimmed sheet with butter.
Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add in vanilla and almond extract. Slowly add flour and salt, and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Using an offset spatula, spread the batter into the pan. The batter will spread when baking so do not fret if the pan corners are free of batter.  Drop teaspoonfuls of jam over the top of the batter. Try to distribute the drops of jam evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown.

Cook in the pan and the cut into small pieces using a pizza roller.  Mix the icing ingredients together and lightly drizzle over the bars using the tines of a fork.

**In this recipe, seedless blackberry jam is required. I searched high and low for such jam, but couldn't find it. What I ended up doing was warming up blackberry jam (with seeds) in a small pot on the stove and then straining it/ pushing it with a spoon through a fine metal sieve.

December 1, 2010

My Kind of Pizza!

I've finally got wireless Internet access in my home in Canada!  As strange as it seems, I am oh so excited...let me explain.  Usually I have my laptop stationed in our home office and that's where I surf the net, watch tv shows I've missed and blog. However, whenever my husband comes into town, he sets up his work laptop and I unplug my laptop and it stays unplugged for several days. His work laptop is off limits so that means no Facebook, no watching tv shows or's so painful being cut off like that- cut off like cold turkey.  I wasn't coping well, so I went and got everything I needed to create a wireless zone and now I'm the happiest hijabi blogger on the block!

This recipe that I'm going to share with you is a mish mash of flavours- Chinese and Italian with a twist from moi.  Adapting the ingredients can easily be done because it's a very simple recipe.  For this pizza recipe, I used  freshly made, store bought, whole wheat dough. You can make the dough at home if you wish- if you do, please share the recipe with me!!

Whole Wheat Chinese Eggplant and Baby Bok Choy Pizza

1 store bought uncooked whole wheat pizza dough (not the already bake one- I find those to taste like cardboard)
1 can of pizza sauce (I only used half the can on this pizza)
1 Chinese eggplant, washed and sliced
4 baby bok choy, washed and cut into small pieces
1 cup of vegetarian marble cheese (mozzarella and cheddar), shredded
salt and pepper to taste
5 asparagus stalks, washed (optional decoration)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Lightly grease the pizza sheet or pizza stone with some olive oil.  Place the dough in the centre of the tray and being to pull and stretch it so that it covers the base of the tray. It may start to pull back, but continue pulling it back in place and eventually it will hold.
Spread the pizza sauce over the dough and begin to lay down the Chinese eggplant coins and baby bok choy.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper on top of the vegetables and then layer the cheese over top. Just for kicks, I created a star like pattern on top of the pizza with leftover asparagus stalks I had in my fridge. You can omit that if you like.  Put in the oven until the pizza bottom has a nice crust and the dough is cooked at the centre of the pizza.