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thesilverspoonIt has been a while since I’ve provided an update to my adventures in kitchen. Last week I sampled recipes from The Sliver Spoon, and I must say the results were somewhat less than spectacular. Most recipes turned out pretty good, but some I had to eat by myself for lunch two days in a row because my family refused to dig in. Oh well, at least they tried it.

What worked:

Pork chops in Gorgonzola, pg. 766 – superb, especially if you like Gorgonzola cheese
Chicken with cream, pg. 924 –  my husband hated it because he is particular about chicken, and my daughter saw him grimace when he tasted so that was the end of that meal for them. I, on the other hand, loved it.
Cream of spinach soup, pg. 221 – this was a really nice and healthy soup. The toddler liked it in spite of the green color, so ’nuff said.
Tortiglioni with mushroom and eggplant, pg. 304 – a very nice dish, I could not find tortiglioni so I used rombi and we loved it. Even the little one ate a few pieces of mushroom and eggplant.

What didn’t work (for me):

Broiled eggplant, pg. 512 –  I don’t know why this recipe didn’t succeed, but I am suspecting it had to with the broiler in my oven. The eggplant tasted like a boiled shoe. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty good the next day. I think perhaps all the flavors (basil, garlic, eggplant and olive oil) had a chance to mix. Of course I smothered it with some cream sauce from the Chicken with cream dish (see above).

Overall, I think my experiment has not made me a bigger fan of the cookbook. In all fairness, I have not tried too many recipes, but what I tried was certainly all right, and I think it will do for once in a while. The section that I still have to tap into is the Desserts. I suspect that I after sample a few of the recipes from that section, I will be ready to lay my life on the line defending the cookbook.  I’ll let you know.

Last night’s dinner was a simple affair. I was able to get the dinner prepared in about 30 minutes. It was not the most creative or exotic dinner, especially after last week full of interesting spices and flavors, but it was quick and relatively healthy.

1. Pork chops in Gorgonzola sauce, The Silver Spoon, pg. 766 – a very easy, extremely easy recipe, and a very tasty one, especially for the ones who like the strong flavor of Gorgonzola cheese

2. Mashed potatoes – recipe retold from the Whole Foods site here. I skipped on garlic and bay leaf, and mixed the cream with skim milk so it wouldn’t be to fatty.

3. Salad – mixed greens, tomato, cucumber and corn  with balsamico and olive oil

I also realize that I never properly concluded my Indian cuisine week since my last evening of Indian cuisine turned out somewhat disappointing (all my fault of course). Basically, it is a wonderful cuisine, and I will definitely keep cooking the recipes from the two cookbooks. I highly recommend both of them to anyone who needs a nice introduction to cooking Indian food. Here are the links to the two books one more time:

5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate and Indian Food Made Easy by Anjum Anand

For me, a new fiscal week starts on Sunday. I do all my grocery shopping then, and I start executing on the weekly menu. Last week, I experimented with Indian cuisine. This week I will sample the recipes from The Silver Spoon. I’ve had this book for about two years, and I used maybe 5 recipes out of it. The sheer volume of the book is so intimidating; there are 1200+ pages, and therefore tons of recipes to choose from. I was able to narrow it down to a few for sampling this week, and I will post daily updates on how the meals turn out.

So I’ve planned the menu for the week and made a shopping list according to it. I’ve noticed that when I do that, I spend less on groceries. I also try to buy only organic food, and I am convinced that people would spend about the same or less on food if they bought organic because you are limited to buying mostly fresh food which needs to be prepared. I know you can still find organic hot-pocket type food (I love picking on hot pockets since they seem like such a culinary laziness and insult. And I can only imagine the unhealthy stuff in them). If one buys processed food, then one should not complain about the price of food. Yes, preparing food is time consuming, but so is waiting in the doctor’s office when your health goes to hell as you age. So I say eat fresh, so you can stay fresh.

Last night I had the dinner ready in 1 hour. I prepared two Indian dishes and brown rice. The prep work I did the night before really helped. So, here is what I made:

1. Curried Mushrooms and Peas from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, pg. 34 – very nice and subtle flavor, and extremely easy to make

2. Green Cilantro Chicken from Indian Food Made Easy, pg. 39 – a wonderful dish in cilantro sauce, we loved it.

3. Brown Rice

Note to parents:My 3 year old daughter, who has a really picky palate, liked all the Indian dishes I have been preparing. I did hold back on the chiles and cayenne, so the dishes are barely spicy.

Indian cooking update: Last night was a mild disaster in the kitchen. I continued my culinary adventure with Indian food, and without any prep the previous night, I tried to whip up three dishes in one hour. It took actually more like hour and a half, and one burnt dish. It took me another hour to clean up the mess I made after the dinner. I also got the place all smoky. Here are the gory details:

1. Mangalorean Chicken from Indian Food Made Easy, pg. 44. – very interesting and tasty dish. I made it with tofy instead of chicken and it was very good.

2. Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Lemon from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, pg. 24 – another very tasty dish and very easy to make too. I love fried up mustard seeds, they have wonderful aroma.

3. Corn with Mustard Seeds from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, pg. 32 – now this dish should have been wonderful except for the fact that I burnt the serrano chiles, or more accurately, I charred them completely. And I didn’t realize this until after I added the corn, so the corn turned charred too. I ended throwing that dish away, I could not save the corn.

Lessons learned: Preparation is the key. If you are a working mom, or a mom, or someone who wants to (or has to) whip up a meal really fast, then either prep for it the night before or boil some pasta and throw some tomatos on it. Last night I was frantically trying to chop up the onions, garlic, ginger, grind the spices, squeeze the lemons, cut tomatos, peel the sweet potatoes … I think you get the picture. So this evening I prepped everything for tomorrow’s dinner. Tomorrow evening I just mix and cook, that’s it. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

We ate all the desserts, we put away the Christmas decorations. 2009 resolutions can begin in earnest. I am going to ease myself into exercising routine by starting with an exercise DVD: Louise Solomon’s Yoga & Pilates. I bought this DVD three years ago after my daughter was born and I used it once. That is how dedicated I was to exercise. So I am going to use it this morning and see how it goes. I will give it a week before I express any opinion on it.

Indian cooking update:

Yesterday I made these three dishes for lunch:

1. Tomato Cucumber Raita from Indian Food Made Easy, pg. 132 – DELICIOUS!
2. Spinach Pilaf from Indian Food Made Easy, pg. 120 – DELICIOUS!
3. Chicken in Cashew Nut Sauce, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, pg.65 – SUPER DELICIOUS!

It is New Year’s Eve and I have not yet made anything for dessert. In my family, it doesn’t matter what you make for entree or appetizer; if you don’t have a good dessert afterward, why bother with the rest. So my daughter and I will make two cakes. A lemon-meringue pie, which is actually really easy to make, and also Tres Leches (or Three Milks), which we love. Our cake making process is such that it allows a three year-old to stay busy in the kitchen while I make the cake. We start of with the best intentions of making something together. She scoops, I measure solids, she pours solids, I measure liquids, she pours liquids and then she gets to mix it all together. Then we decide that it is best if I give her a little bit of flour and she adds water and food colors to it. She loves to do that, and it allows me to finish the cake. Of course I could kick her out of the kitchen too, but I just love spending time with her, even though it means I have to mop the floor afterwards (and I really hate mopping floors, just ask my husband). I am looking forward to our baking afternoon.

Happy New Year! May it be peaceful, healthy and prosperous for all!


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