{Cast Iron} Garlic Naan

Garlic Naan

Several years ago I got to spend a little bit of time in India—Chennai to be exact. And as luck would have it, I happened to have visited at the beginning of Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights. Nothing I had read or heard could have prepared me for the country. It’s vivid colors, intense – and I’m talking INTENSE heat, and sounds still replay in my mind as if I was just there. And although I only had a brief 5 days there, the city will forever be imprinted in my heart.

Good thing too because I had such a junky camera at that time — my photos were terrible! :)

Anywhoo….

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Since I only had a short time, I didn’t get to travel around the country too much and stayed primarily in Chennai. I did, however, manage to squeeze in a memorable home stay with a wonderful family –the Bhatts. They welcomed us into their homes, guided us through Chennai and gave us a glimpse of their culture.

Garlic Naan

Over those days, we meandered through the city in and out of markets, braved tuk-tuk rides, and ate—like SERIOUSLY ate. I came to find that Southern Indian food is often vegetarian and was so wonderfully spiced and fulfilling that this carnivore-lovin’ gal didn’t miss the meat. It was also the first time I had ever tried dosas– which I now LOVE.

Dosas are thin “crepes” served with a variety of chutneys. They can be filled or left plain. However, my favorite are the giant paper dosas that are extremely thin and crisp and rolled into a large cylinder. There’s something totally satisfying about breaking off a piece of paper dosa with your fingers and then dunking it into a masala or chutney.

Chicken Aloo Tikka Masala & Garlic Naan

Our home stay mom, Mrs. Bhatt, also did a good amount of cooking during our brief visit. And when she did, I hung around the kitchen trying to make mental notes of how she prepared things. I really wish I would have recorded her rolling out the dough for the parathas because she did it with such lightning speed!

Since my trip, I’ve tried to recreate the flavors I tasted in India –some attempts were definitely more successful than others. Channa Masala and Tikka Masala are on my usual rotation. But I always seemed to have had an issue with making a good naan–which in my opinion, is crucial when I’m devouring the aforementioned dishes. Some recipes turned out too dry or not tender….and others just didn’t taste well.

Garlic Naan

Until I stumbled upon Aarti Sequeira’s recipe–and my search was over. Her recipe uses a combination of both yeast and baking powder which gives it the perfect texture and lightness. I adapted her recipe a bit to make my favorite garlic naan and now there’s no going back.

But here’s the thing. Others will disagree with me but unless you have a tandoori oven (or maybe an outdoor brick pizza oven?), you must–and I mean MUST, use a cast iron skillet. There’s no replacing it. I’ve tried baking naan in a regular oven, in a standard skillet, in an easy-bake oven (PSYCH!) and nothing compares to a cast iron. Just add it to another reason why I adore cast iron skillets so much.

Oh- you better be sure that the next time I manage to get to India, I’ll pack two cameras just in case to capture everything. And although it’s been years, much love and thanks to the Bhatt family for their generous hospitality. <3

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{Cast Iron} Garlic Naan
Makes 6

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
¾ cup warm water
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more for finishing
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or melted ghee)
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh garlic, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and water. Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes until it becomes bubbly. Whisk in the yogurt and olive oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, kosher salt, remaining sugar, and baking powder. Pour in the yogurt mixture and use your hands to mix the ingredients all together. The dough will be very wet and sticky at first but continue to mix/knead until it becomes rather soft and pliable. Once it comes together, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a draft free place for 3-4 hours until it nearly doubles in size.

Place the butter and 1 tablespoon garlic in a small, microwave proof bowl. Heat in the microwave until the butter has melted.

Dust your counter (or other work place) with flour and place your naan dough onto it. Using a pastry cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 6 even portions. Lightly roll each of the dough balls into the flour to help them from sticking. Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the dough portions into a circle about ¼ inch thick –it’s completely okay if it’s an imperfect circle. Sprinkle the top side with a bit of the garlic powder and remaining minced garlic. Use your fingers to press it into the dough and then pass the rolling pin over the top of it to ensure it’s secured. Repeat this method with the remaining dough.

Warm a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s nearly smoking. Be sure to have a lid large enough to fit the skillet and have the bowl of garlic butter with pastry brush nearby.

Carefully pick up one of the rolled out naan and gently lay it in the skillet, garlic side up, and cook for about one minute. The dough should start to bubble. After the minute, use tongs/spatula to flip the naan and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Flip it over again and cover the skillet for about an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute. The bread will look blistered and have blackened in a few spots.

Remove the naan from the skillet and generously brush the top with the garlic butter. Sprinkle the tops with a few pinches of sea salt and chopped cilantro. Repeat with the remaining 5 naan. Serve warm.

Slightly adapted from Aarti Sequeira

“You Know Whose” Copycat Asian Garlic Noodles

Garlic Noodles

You know who I’m talking about right?

The one who I probably shouldn’t name.

No, not Volde–DOH!  Man…that was a close one!

Oh to heck with it…… I’m talking about the An family. You know…the gatekeepers of the Thanh Long, Crustacean, ANQI (and more!) Dynasty!

Garlic Noodles

Oh how I love their butter dripping, garlic staggering roasted Dungeness crab and noodles. Many places have developed their own riff off of Mama An’s famed crab and noodles (including yours truly) but I’ll always have a soft spot for the old nostalgic and original Thanh Long in the Outer Sunset of SF. It’s where my seester first brought the family over 20+ years ago when the restaurant looked like a small mom and pop joint with mismatched plates and peeled painted walls.

Aromatic garlic perfumed the small restaurant with the constant sounds of cracking crab. But a lot has changed since then…..a boom of high-end sister restaurants and the creation of an empire.

But one thing remains the same…..those DAMN GARLIC NOODLES!!!!!!!!!!

Buttery, garlicky, decadent…..SOOO GOOD!

Garlic Noodles

So good that although I’ve posted my knock off recipe nearly 4 years ago, I believe they deserve a re-post. Especially with better pictures! Ugh…I cringe at how bad those earlier photos were.

These garlic noodles are so darn easy to make and are the PERFECT accompaniment to seafood—particularly shellfish. But like I said before, you cannot skip out on the magic ingredient – Maggi Seasoning Sauce. Don’t let anyone else lie to you…there’s really no substitute. It’s a couple of bucks and can be found in any Asian grocery store. It lasts a gazillion years so just pick up a bottle and keep it in your cupboard. Just trust me on this.

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I whipped up these noodles the other week to accompany a quick Asian-style shrimp scampi. The meal was pretty much a BUTTER FEST so obviously it was a hit. But if you want to go vegetarian, sear up some tofu and throw them on a mound of these noodles. You’ll love them just the same.

Now back to trying to scheme–I mean “build” my own empire……

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“You Know Whose” Copycat Asian Garlic Noodles
Serves Approximately 4

Ingredients:

1 pound chow mein noodles (fresh if possible)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Maggi Seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 scallion, chopped
2-3 pinches toasted sesame seeds

Cook the chow mein noodles according to the direction on the package. Drain the noodles, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy water.

In a wok or large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic but not browned, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, sugar and Maggi. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove the wok from the heat and quickly toss the noodles into the mixture. Sprinkle in the black pepper and cheese. Toss the noodles ensuring that it is thoroughly covered. You may add a tablespoon of the pasta water as needed to loosen the pasta.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

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When I was in the elevator at work yesterday, I overheard someone saying how they made their grandma’s famous linguine alle vongole for Easter Dinner.

And then it was over.

I craved pasta all day long.

Preferably a pasta that someone’s grandma made but beggers can’t be choosers–I had to settle for something I could wrangle up.

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

So as I drove home I did a quick inventory of what I had in the fridge/freezer and decided upon a quick shrimp scampi. I have a delish recipe for Shrimp Scampi on the blog already but I wanted to change it up a bit.

I opted to throw in some fresh spinach leaves at the end for a bit of greens. I had originally played around with the idea of adding peas but went for the spee-natch instead. But who knows, I may throw some peas in next time for some oohs and ahhs.

Peas and thank you!

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

The pasta was bright, citrus-y, uber garlicky (vampires beware) and totally satisfying. And the best thing? Despite me calling this a 20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach, you can probably have it done in 15. But why not pour yourself a glass of wine during the process and take the few extra minutes?

Cheers!

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20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach
Serves 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to garnish
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 thin slices lemon
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) spinach leaves
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, mix the shrimp, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and garlic salt together in a bowl. In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium heat. Add the shrimp (with all the garlic and herbs) and lemon slices* to the skillet. Cook the shrimp on both sides until they turn pink—approximately a minute on each side. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl/plate.

Turn the heat to high and pour the the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and add the lemon juice. Reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat. Add the butter and whisk/melt it into the reduced wine.

Turn the heat to medium-low and toss in the cooked/drained pasta. Vigorously toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season the pasta with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Toss in the spinach and plate the pasta with the light sauce.

Top each dish with the cooked shrimp. Sprinkle the top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

*While plating the pasta, you can remove the cooked lemon slices. Some do not enjoy the slight bitter taste of biting into cooked lemons but I’m all about it.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

It’s June in San Diego and I’m about 3 months late on starting my beach-bod workout regiment.

What can I say? Siri forgot to add it to my calendar.

So I’ve been doing what I can, a little bit at a time to make up for it. Cutting out caffeine (which explains my Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde personality in the AM), taking the stairs instead of the elevator, cutting back on starches & sweets, doing quick jogs instead of trying to motivate for several mile-runs, and supplementing my produce intake with daily juicing or fresh green smoothies.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

But you know what my achilles is?

Bread and potatoes.

I could inhale bread and potatoes 24/7. Fine if I was some hardcore athlete but the last time I checked, Instagramming hadn’t been deemed a sport yet.

It’s particularly tough when I’m grilling up some goodness and all that’s missing is a huge pile of mashed potatoes.

Drools…..

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

In an attempt to fool my mind while trying to create something lighter that still tastes yummy, I started roasting cauliflower and mashing it up with roasted garlic. Cauliflower is considered a “non-starchy” vegetable but when cooked and mashed (or pureed) it can take on a lot of similar textures as my beloved spud.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

And you know what?

It’s delicious-really! The cauliflower starts to caramelize when you roast it and when you add the rich and almost sweet flavor from the roasted garlic—you’re in for it!

This hearty Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower will never fully replace my taters, but it’s a darn good stand in until I go P90X on y’all.

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Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower head, cut into florets
12-15 garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with kosher salt and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and golden brown. Stir and turn every 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the roasted cauliflower and garlic to a large bowl. Add an additional 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 1 tablespoon butter, if you prefer) and garlic powder. Using a potato masher or ricer, mash the cauliflower until it reaches an even consistency.

Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Stir in chives (0ptional). Serve warm.

*If you’re looking for a gluten free method, be sure to use gluten free marked garlic powder and butter.

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Rib Chops

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Rib Chops

I’ve been rather bad about reporting on our Family Dinners over the past few months. And not because our menus weren’t delish but somehow amongst the endless events, time slipped by.

December’s dinner menu featured Mexican-inspired fare. We had a variety of fresh salsas, chicharrón, ceviche, salmon-dill tacos, rice, and beans. I whipped up some mango margaritas and my beer braised carnitas. And although it may not have been Latin, our sis, P, made a ridiculously amazing chocolate bread pudding. The icing on the cake? It was our adorable nephew, Leonidas’ 1st birthday!

February Family Dinner

For January, we let my seester, T, and our niece pick the theme as they’re Jan-Babies. So we were off to the islands for mouthwatering, ono grindz! Our spread included mai tais and my take on hamachi-ponzu shooters. Our eldest seester created a wonderfully light yet fulfilling banana leaf-wrapped monk fish with a curry sauce. And for dessert? Big seester made molten lava chocolate cakes and paired them with my toasted coconut ice cream and guava ice cream.

With island music playing throughout dinner, it was almost—almost like we were in Hawai’i. <le sigh….>

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Rib Chops

For this month, we revisited Italia. Big seester got me a ravioli mold for Christmas and we were eager to give them a try. For our entrées, we had raviolis three ways: butternut squash with brown butter sage sauce, spicy sausage with a marinara sauce, and lump crab with a pesto sauce. They were quite the success considering it was our first time making raviolis. And because I learned from October’s Family Dinner, I invested in a hand crank pasta machine. Best…idea…ever.

Since I knew it was going to take us some time to get the raviolis to the dinner table, I wanted to make a heartier-than-usual appetizer. We’re a big fan of lamb chops so I turned to my trusted recipe using a ton of rosemary and garlic. By slicing the racks into rib chops while giving them ample time to marinate, the lamb is able to seep in a ton of great flavor. And because my fam loves condiments, I made a quick and herbaceous gremolata to pair with the lamb to help brighten the gamey flavor.

We also found that a light sprinkle of sea salt over the rib chops not only added the perfect seasoning but it also added some great texture. My fam gobbled these appetizers up in no time flat but they can also be served as a mouthwatering entrée.

Can’t wait until next month’s Fam-Din!

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Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Rib Chops
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Lamb
½ cup chopped rosemary
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
16 lamb rib chops, Frenched and trimmed (approximately 2 Frenched racks)
kosher salt and black pepper

Gremolata
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Optional
sea salt

In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, red chili flakes and olive oil. Place the lamb rib chops in a large shallow dish or gallon sized resealable bags. Season the lamb well with kosher salt and black pepper. Pour the herb mixture over the lamb and turn the chops around to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours (I like mine to marinate overnight).

Prepare gremolata by adding parsley, basil, garlic, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes into a food processor. Pulse to combine. On low, stream in the olive oil until you reach a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the lamb 15 minutes before cooking. Preheat grill to medium high. Grill the chops on each side for 2-3 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F for rare or 135-140 degrees F for medium. Allow the lamb to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve the lamb rib chops with a sprinkle of sea salt over the top (optional) and gremolata.

Whole Wheat Pizza with White Garlic Sauce

Whole Wheat Pizza with White Garlic Sauce

You’ll never hear me saying that I’m a “healthy eater“.

But I do like to believe that I’m a “balanced eater“.

Need some clarification?

Well, let’s say I stop by Fatburger for lunch (which, incidentally, is one of my FAVES!) and inhale a Baby Fat Burger with Bacon and an Egg. I’ll enjoy every bite and morsel without guilt because I know that night, I’ll fix up some type of grilled fish and veggies for dinner.

Balanced Eating.

Well, in my book at least.

And that’s how I see this pizza. I made a rich, creamy white sauce packed with roasted garlic and smothered it on top of a whole wheat pizza dough.

Balanced.

Or Delusional. Same difference, really. :)

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Whole Wheat Pizza with White Garlic Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Dough (From Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen):
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 packages dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 lukewarm water from the tap
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Flour for the work surface
Sprinkling of  cornmeal

White Garlic Sauce:
1/2 cup roasted garlic
3/4 cup milk, warmed
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 pinches dried oregano
2-3 pinches cayenne pepper, to preference
kosher salt

Toppings:
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup caramelized onions
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
whole basil leaves
parmesan cheese
red Chili Flakes

Prepare pizza dough. Place flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. While mixer is running, gradually add water and knead on low speed until dough is firm and smooth, about ten minutes. Turn machine off. Pour oil down inside of bowl. Turn on low once more for 15 seconds to coat inside of bowl and all surfaces of dough with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm spot until doubled in bulk, about two hours.

Preheat your oven to highest setting, 500° or 550°F. If using a pizza stone, place stone in oven on bottom rack, preheat oven one hour ahead.

When dough is nearly risen, begin making the sauce. In a pan, melt the butter into the olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour—combine and cook for a 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the heated milk, careful to not let any lumps form. Continue cooking and whisking for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened to desire consistency. Remove from heat and stir in oregano, cayenne, parmesan cheese, and roasted garlic. Taste and add salt as needed. Set sauce aside.

Punch pizza dough down, cut in half. On generously floured work surface, place one half of dough. By hand, form dough loosely into a ball, stretch into a circle or desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the formed dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border around the perimeter. Top with the caramelized onions, sliced mozzarella and the chiffonade of basil. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Serve the pizza with additional fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

 

My love for Potatoes knows no boundaries. In fact, I’m even contemplating the idea of dedicating an entire month of posts to different potato recipes of the world. Mmmm……..Yum.

Needless to say, I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like. Especially when they’re all dolled up like these lovely Hasselback Potatoes.

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes to be exact.

Now say that three times fast.

 

 

 

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

 

Originating from Sweden, these potatoes are meant to mirror the fan shape created by accordions. But don’t let their looks fool you as they’re super easy to make and can dress up any dinner plate.

 

 

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

 

In addition to the elegant look, there’s also some brilliance to the way these potatoes are sliced. With the additional crevices that are exposed to the heat, the exterior becomes deliciously crispy while the interior remains super tender.

As for these potatoes, I chose to pair them with both rosemary and garlic but the options are endless. Parmesan cheese, chives, bacon…….so many choices, so little time :)

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Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 Medium Sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and dried
½ Cup Olive Oil
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Place oil and rosemary in a small saucepan and heat on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place one potato on a cutting board. Starting from one end of the potato, make slits about 1/8 inch apart but do not cut all the way through the bottom. You can also place the potato in a wooden spoon before you make the slices. The spoon will act as a “guard” to help you not slice all the way through the bottom. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Carefully slip one slice of garlic in between every few segments of the potatoes until all the garlic has been evenly distributed. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and brush them all over with the rosemary infused oil. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Bake the potatoes for 30-40 minutes, depending on size. Interior should be soft and exterior should be slightly crisp.

Serve warm.