Saturday, July 31, 2010

Labor of Love

I MADE BUTTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I MADE BUTTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks to the culinary wisdom of Kiss My Spatula.

Most of you culinary geniuses are probably thinking "so what's the big deal!" The big deal is I MADE BUTTER!!!!  I was stunned, amazed, floored, mystified, in the most positive sense, by the transformation from heavy cream to whipped cream to butter...who knew it's that simple! It was nothing short of fascinating! After pouring the heavy cream into the food processor I was certain I would screw this up and waste a perfectly great pint of heavy cream. But somewhere in between heavy cream and whipped cream the clouds parted and the light shined through, clearer than ever before! 

Who knew it was so simple? I know my great grandmother and her mother used to make their own butter in India, but always assumed it was quite a laborious ordeal.  I have visions of my great grandmother churning a mammoth sized pole into an equally mammoth of a clay pot for hours and hours on end, to create a few savory morsels (she must have had some arms!) and it only took me a push of a button and 10 minutes!!! For some reason I'm taken back to elementary and feel ashamed, as if I cheated on a major exam.  

Now you know I'm never buying ready made butter, especially when I can create this ultra luxurious, creamy, decadent piece of perfection on my own!  In the coming weeks I plan to experiment with all sort of buttery goodness from orange butter to ramp butter to pound cake - the simple thought is pure heaven! (My bum may have it's own take on this, but at the moment I'm far too tempted to care)

Friday, July 30, 2010

You are what you eat....

So have many times have we all heard that saying as a child? Well if that is the case then I'm a enchilorittos.  I've been known to cook as though I'm feeding an army, even though its only 2 mouths, and more recently one. So when I made enchilorittos the other night, I had leftovers for 3 dinners and lunches! THAT'S SIX MEALS!!!! Not that I'm complaining, it's probably some of the best faux-Mexican you've ever had!! And I say faux-Mexican because as any native Mexican will tell you, or even our west coast compadres, what we refer to as Mexican is nowhere near close to REAL Mexican cuisine.

Nonetheless, this recipe is simple, cheap and yummy enough to feed your toughest critics...for days!

1 can whole tomatoes
1 can black beans
2 medium size red onions
6 garlic cloves (i tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to garlic, feel free to adjust according to taste)
3 Jalapenos (adjust according to taste)
Sour Cream (optional)
2 bushels cilantro
2 packets Taco Seasoning
Extra sharp cheddar cheeese
Monterey jack cheese

In a blender puree only drained tomatoes (I like reserve the liquid for soup), 1 medium onion, 2 garlic cloves, 3 jalapenos, 1 entire bushel of cilantro plus stems of the other and 1 packet taco seasoning. (I love cilantro and it truly makes the sauce)

Sautee half of an onion and 3 garlic cloves for about 3-4 minutes and add black beans and half a packet of taco seasoning. Add 1/2 cup of water and mash a quarter of the mixture. Mashing is truly optional, I prefer it because it allows the sauce to thicken.  Cook the beans for about 10-15 minutes until the mixture thicken.

While you're waiting for the beans to thicken, chop up the remaining cilantro, onion, and shred both cheeses.  

To assemble and bake the enchilorittos, line a baking pan with parchment paper, grab a tortilla spread the beans mixture, sauce, some cheese, diced onion and cilantro and roll. I have a habit of overstuffing and therefore use toothpicks to help secure the wrap.  Garnish the top with some more sauce, cilantro, and onions and enjoy with your fav Mexican drink!

Be sure to remove toothpicks before serving!

Bon Appetit!

**Feel free to add ground turkey or beef to the recipe and follow the same cooking instructions as with the beans!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Truffley Goodness!

So after a week of craving truffled mac 'n cheese, I finally bought all the ingredients least I thought I did.  After sweating it out for an hour and half at Bikram, I decided to suck it up and march across town, for that yummy gooey truffly goodness, through the oven this city has become of late, to Reading Terminal to buy all the mac 'n cheese necessities. I come home exhausted, barely able to contain my excitement or my stomach only to find out I forgot the fresh peas :-( .  Now I know what you're thinking, just make it without the peas, but NO, I cannot and will not bake truffle mac 'n cheese without the sweet crunchiness of peas, which contrast perfectly against the salty prosciutto, soft crunchy carrots and velvety rich truffle oil, all embedded in a sea of fontina, parmiganno, and aged cheddar!

So I guess I'll just have to resort to option #2: Veggies enchilorittos. If you haven't already figured it out, it's a combination of enchiladas and burritos with my own homemade sauce!!! According to The Suitor, it's the best Mexican dish he's ever had, minus everything we ate in Mazatlan!    

Recipes are below and pics to follow soon!

Truflle Mac 'n Cheese:

Macaroni noodles (or whatever you prefer - my favorite are the spirelli, which allows for the cheese and peas to creep into the crevices) 
1.5 cups Heavy Cream
2.5 cups Reduced Fat Milk
2 tsp All-Purpose Flour
Salt & Pepper
2 cups Fontina Cheese (grated)
3/4 cup Parmesan (grated)
3/4 Extra Sharp Aged Cheddar
6 strips of Prosciutto
1/4 cup Truffle Oil
1 cup Shiitake Mushrooms
2 cups Fresh Peas or frozen (I prefer fresh and also add chopped and deveined pieces of the shell)

Preheat the over to 450 degrees.

Cook the noodles in salted water until tender, but not too tender (approximately 5-6 minutes). While the noodles cook, butter the baking dish.  Remove the noodles from water, reserve the water to flash-boil the carrots and peas.  Chop the carrots and boil for approximately 3-4 minutes, then boil the peas and it's shells for 2 minutes.  Remove from water and shock in ice water, so they retain their crunchiness and vibrant color.

Whisk the cream, milk, little bit of salt & pepper.  Add half of the fontina, parmesan and cheddar.  Add noodles, carrots, peas, & mushrooms to the mixture and transfer to baking dish.  Mix the remaining cheeses together and sprinkle over the noodle mixture.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese melts and top beings to brown.  Let stand for about 10-15 minutes, and right before serving I like to mix in the prosciutto so it retains its texture.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


And it all comes together!!!!

Does this look sensational or does it look sensational??

Spinach Goat Cheese Quiche
Side salad
Steamed Carrots

Is it Dinner Time Yet???

Thursday's are looonnggggg. And you know they're long when it's only 10 AM and you're already thinking and planning dinner!!!!  I've been up since 5 AM, on my own accord, but I have to babysit my Philly cutie-pie today!  It's a very special day, not only do I see him after 2 weeks and be marveled by all the growing up he's done, but he is also turns a whole number in age today. HAPPY VERY FIRST BIRTHDAY LITTLE MONKEY!!!!  So this is what I have planned for us:

Breakfast - cantaloup & a birthday waffle (per mommy)
Playtime - play out back and maybe some reading
Lunch - (yogurt with pureed carrots or squash)
and if ok with his mom, bake some bday cupcakes!!!!

Speaking of birthdays, I also have to wish my very dear and "generous" friend Dido a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I won't reveal his age but let's just say he doesn't look a day past 13 ;-)   (((frosting points!!)))

So what's for dinner???
I'm thinking a lovely salad and a spinach-goat cheese quiche!  That was supposed to be dinner yesterday, but exhaustion had other plans.  Hopefully after babysitting and bikram I can still muster up the energy tonight!  

Spinach-Goat Cheese Quiche
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium size yellow onion
4 garlic cloves (I <3 garlic, 2 if you're not a garlic lover)
2 large eggs
1 egg white
1.5 cups reduced fat milk
1 small log goat cheese or any cheese of your liking (parm or Fontina work really well too!)
1 bag spinach
Parmesan Cheese
salt & pepper

Pre-heat the oven at 400 degrees and a medium skillet over medium heat. I use a non-stick pie dish but if you're using a regular pie dish spray the dish with olive oil. In the skillet, sauté onions until translucent, add garlic, spinach, salt and pepper. Sauté until spinach is quasi-wilted, we'll let the rest bake off in the oven.  In a mixing bowl or food processor combine the eggs, egg whites, milk, 1/3 of the goat cheese and puree thoroughly.  I like to make sure the goat cheese gets chopped up and blends evenly with the eggs.  Add the egg mixture to the pie dish and stir in the sautéed onion, garlic & spinach. Take the remaining goat cheese and break off into little pieces and spread throughout the mixture. I love biting into little pockets of melted goat cheese! It's so tart and creamy, I'm salivating already! I'll top with a bit of grated parmesan and a drizzle of EVOO( I love the way it melts and sets into a delicious brown crust) and bake in the over for about 35 minutes and voila you have a delicious dinner and if you're not feeding a small group, possible leftovers for lunch the next day!

Pictures to follow!!!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BlogHer '10

I have some really exciting news to share!!!  Guess who will be live blogging for a professional organization August 6th & 7th? You guess it...MEEEE!!!!!! I will be live blogging for four BlogHer '10 seminars.  BlogHer, for those of you that don't know, is a non-profit organization which creates "opportunities for women who blog to gain exposure, education, community and economic empowerment." Their conferences attract over 1500 bloggers from across the country at all levels, industries and dimensions providing opportunities to connect, share and educate.  It truly is the #1 networking opportunity and a great way to market your blog amongst the blogging community.

Not only do I get to attend the sold out conference and all its events and promote my blog for FREE (a whopping savings of $300) but I also get to meet all the guest speakers personally prior to all events!!! Someone pinch me now!

Below are descriptions of the four seminars I will be live blogging for at BlogHer '10!!!!

ROYO - Gen Y Passionistas - Leaving the 9-to-5 to Pursue Your Passion - Gen Y has a reputation for a totally different attitude towards work, play and passion...and the interplay between them than the rest of us. If you've been dreaming about pursuing your passion, your social media savvy already gives you a leg up. Come learn and discuss ways to make your passion “work” for you as you map out your dream career or business venture. Two twenty-something women, Jenn Korducki and Jill Felska, will provide insight into their journey from junior account executives at one of Ad Age’s Top 10 PR Agencies of the Decade to full-fledged entrepreneurs. Topics to be discussed include: determining when is the right time to venture out on your own, social media and your passion, financial and insurance issues, and the distinction between owning your job vs. owning your business. We can’t wait to start the conversation!

Professional: Mastering Intellectual Property Law - In this session, Latoicha Givens, founder of the IP law firm Phillips Givens, LLC, focuses very specifically on the nitty gritty of intellectual property law, registering and protecting a trademark, copyright infringement, defamation, libel and slander.

Job Lab: Get Hired - Networking with a Purpose via Social Media - With the increased numbers in unemployment, how can candidates use social media to find jobs, connect and ultimately get hired? HR professional Laurie Ruettimann moderates the discussion with Ana Roca-Castrosocial media consultant and founder of Premier Social Media; Carmen Hudson, recruiter and founder of tweetajob; and Microsoft Recruiter Heather McGough, all who will share examples and divulge the secrets of using social media as the ultimate networking tool.

Writing Lab: Humor Writing - Humor writing doesn’t just flow out of fertile brains without a lot of care and craft. Great humor writers care about things as granular and detailed as punctuation and spelling. How do some of the writers who make you LOL for realz do it? Join Anna LeflerJessica BernLizz Winstead and Awesomely Luvvie to talk about how to achieve the funny, the witty and the hilarious.

So for the next 2 weeks I will be brushing up on the 4 topics, guest speakers, designing business cards and most importantly putting together some cute outfits!!  

I'll leave you with some dessert -- Fage Greek Yogurt and Organic Blueberries!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Raw Beets Salad with Cannellini Beans and Other Deliciosos!

So dinner last night was a real gem! It's always wonderful catching up with old friends. Sampan, didn't deliver in terms of what I expected, but maybe my expectations were tainted by one too many glasses of Sangiovese.  All in all, the food was not as memorable as the first, but it truly is a great thai place with Korean influences yielding fabulous flavors!  

So I once again am on 4 hours of sleep and oddly enough am not exhausted in the least bit...even at this hour! Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining - I've put a noticeable dent on my "to-do" list and that makes me very happy. But the highlight of my day truly was my little shopping expenditure at Williams-Sonoma! I went there with a mission to pick up a DeLonghi Gelato Maker, on sale for $100!!!!!! But as my luck would have it, not only is the store sold out, the entire district is sold out! But I didn't let that get me down, after all I was in a Williams-Sonoma and there are far too many kitchen gadgets to explore, cookbooks to browse and spices to marvel.  I did come across the most ingenious baby food maker. It's a steamer, blender, defroster and warmer ALL IN ONE and I want one and I don't even have little people.

I ended up getting myself a boxed set of the Goldtouch bakeware, and a couple of cookbooks. The first is a chocolate cookbook titled The Essence of Chocolate, which I'm really looking forward to cracking open and saturating my mind of all things chocolate! And the second is the CIA's guide to vino.  It truly is a great encyclopedia of a book. I love browsing through wine  reviews, especially vineyards I've visited and compare the authors take and with my opinions. I also picked up some quality EVOO, which I desperately needed because I'm craving a freshly baked baguette dunked into some quality EVOO.  I don't know about you guys but if the EVOO is top notch, I feel as tough I can pour and drink! Now the health nut in me would never dare, but I must admit I adore olive oil tastings. If you're ever in Sonoma, you have to stop by The Olive Press and stop in for an olive oil tasting (the basil-parmesan is a must!). It's a delightful little vineyard and olive grove which produces award winning olive oils!   

Dinner tonight was delightful, a simple salad composed of the left over raw beets from yesterday, cannellini beans and other yummy veggies and a splash of balsamic vinegar and my recently purchased EVOO, and a side of some leftover spinach-ricotta ravioli!

Mixed Greens
Red Onion
Cannellini beans
Gorgonzola Cheese
Salt & Pepper
Splash of EVOO and a squirt of balsamic vinegar
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello Beet-a-ful!!

So I fell across this amazing yet so simple grated raw beet salad on the NYTimes recipe during my ritualistic procrastination. I must admit, being the foodie that I am I have yet to try raw beets. Don't misunderstand me, j'adore beets, but I've always had them roasted with some goat cheese, red onions and tangerines or part of a salad.  

Anyway, I came across some amazing beets at the local farmers market the other day and woke up this morning feeling pretty adventurous! So I followed the recipe as instructed but in true Dhara form tweaked it with a few additions, like the feta and red onions! I must admit, it was YUMMYY!!!

I also set aside a portion of the grated beets for later tonight. I have a friend visiting from out of town and prior to heading out to Sampan, for what is the most orgasmic thai food ever, I plan on having apps at home. So what's on the menu? The mixture of grated beets served over crisp endive leaves combined with candied walnuts drizzled with gargonzola! How heavenly does that sound??!?!?!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sweat it Out!

This morning I got up, after a long night of tossing and turning, and headed for Bikram! I were little beads of sweat running down my face before I even set foot into the studio. In all seriousness what is up with this weather? I know I probably say this every summer but geeez louiissee this has got to be one of the hottest most humid summers ever!!! It's truculently thundering one minute and blissfully sunny the next. And don't even get me started on the's so humid that literally it feels as tough you can swim through the streets.

I won't even get started on my hair. And for those of you who know me know it's all about me and my hair! Not only did I get the worst hair cut ever 3 weeks ago, but its so short that with this humidity I look like I have lion's mane! And I know the fashions from the 80's and 90's are returning but honey when you have a square face with a prominent jawline like mine, a lion's mane is not attractive! Speaking of which, I promise to post some personal pics soon!

In other news, I had a phenomenal post-bikram breakfast! One soft-fried egg with american cheese on 7-grain along with fabulous smoothie consisting of fat-free vanilla yogurt, organic blueberries, strawberries, and a banana with a dash of raw sugar and a healthy squirt of reduced fat milk.

I don't measure any of the ingredients, I randomly start combining ingredients in a blender and after the initial puree adjust ingredients in accordance to taste.

My ultimate-fav smoothie is a honeydew-raspberry smoothie, which unfortunate for me, Trader's was all out of honeydews. C'est la vie....

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Perfect End to an Imperfect Week!

After what seemed like the longest week ever its finally come to an end...hallelujah!  And I can't think of a better way to end it then with a glass of vino and a perfect plate of aperitifs! 

So what am I having? Glass of Mondavi Cab Sav, sweet cherry tomatoes, few cubes of sharp white cheddar, gouda, and a few slices of pepper crusted salami and prosciutto!  Now I am not a big meat eater. In fact I have been a strict vegetarian for most of my life up until college and over the last three years. Recently I have started incorporating meat back into my diet on a very sparse note (The Suitor couldn't be anymore ecstatic) and I have to admit I do enjoy your occasional piece of meat.

So what’s the lesson here? Moderation. I’m not a dieter. I could never skip a meal or deprive myself of carbs or any other food group to say the least! I will however only eat organic, grass fed and humanely killed meat…wow that’s a mouthful! Now finding such a combination is hard, however if you do your research it's out there. I found out about an “organic, grass fed, and humanely killed” farm in the greater Philadelphia area at a local farmers market. I randomly fell into a conversation with a vendor who shares the same eating habits, who was ever so kind to point me in the direction of such butcheries! And the best part is that they are right in my neighborhood!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Had Me At Hello

I had my first food epiphany while I was studying abroad in Brussels.  It was one of the first few days where personalities are masked with politeness and everyone is getting to know each other and we're all one big group vs. mini cliques. It was one of those rare sunny days in Brussels and what better way to spend the afternoon than have an outdoor lunch on stone ridden grounds of Grand Place with new "friends". I ordered a panini (no idea what a panini was - could have been 2 pieces of toast for all I knew) which my unenlightened taste-buds assumed to be a simple sandwich consisting of pears, cheese, greens, and honey on toasted bread.

When my sandwich came out I was visually blown away! It was nothing I had expected, this sandwich was sheer perfection.  Then I took a bite - OMG!!!  The sweetness of the pears combined with the crunchy bitterness of arugula and saltiness of prosciutto (which also was a first), all saturated in a medley of caramelized honey and brie in between the most perfect two pieces of ciabatta that had me at hello!

Since, I have spent years trying to re-create the perfect pear and brie panini in hopes of reliving that moment, with no avail. Come to think of it can you ever relive first moments? A first love? A first kiss? I guess it's that special allure of "the firsts". First European experience. First conversations. First pear, brie and prosciutto panini. Whatever the reason, I must say, and The Suitor will agree, there is nothing like a pear and brie panini to satisfy the wildest of cravings!

Pear Brie Panini
Ciabatta or any other hearty bread of your liking!
Triple Cream Brie (rind removed)
Fresh Arugula
Olive Oil 

1. You can use a panini grill, but I personally love using a grill pan. Preheat the panini machine. Cut uniform slices of ciabatta and brush with olive oil on both sides. Grill the bottom pieces until golden brown. Approximately 4 minutes. Repeat with the top slices of the bread.

2. While the top slices heat, start assembling the sandwich on the bottom pieces.  Layer evenly with brie. Next add a layer of pear and honey. Add some arugula and prosciutto and a dab of salt and pepper for seasoning. 

3. Finish off the sandwich with the top layer of bread and return to the panini grill for another minute or two. Just until the cheese starts melting and bon appetite!

I will occasionally substitute the olive oil for butter and use a french baguette, if I am lucky enough to hit up the bakery while they are still steaming!