Engaging stories of love, joy, comfort and friendship with proven scrumptious, healthy recipes, we celebrate LOVE as the secret ingredient for wonderful food!

Indian Feast

I love to learn about other cultures and their food traditions. And I love Indian food! Our good friends, Sumantra (from Calcutta) and Indrani (from Delhi), threw a big Indian feast on Friday night. We were celebrating Sumantra’s son, Sourav, heading off to Oxford for a year abroad of studying economics and Sumantra’s mom, who has been visiting for the past 6 months, returning to Calcutta this coming week. Her name is Manisha.

When Indrani invited us, I naturally asked if I could bring anything and she’s so sweet, she said, no it was a working day for me so I shouldn’t be bothered about bringing anything, just bring myself and my husband. Ha! It was a working day for her too. She came home at 2 pm and here’s the spread she had ready at 7 pm. Isn’t it gorgeous?Indian feast - homemade with roasted goat, shrimp, paneer and vegetable patties.So from the top, going clockwise, we have an amazing roasted goat dish using Manisha’s recipe, a bean dish with wonderful complex layered flavors, terrific vegetable patties, dal, a delicious paneer, boxes of dessert cheese balls waiting for their presentation time, homemade chutney with dates, a shrimp dish and rice and peas in the middle.

Manisha Sen.

Manisha – she told me she likes big bindi dots!

Indrani is a great cook and she has often remarked about how Manisha is a really wonderful cook. So we were the lucky beneficiaries of both on Friday. Indrani used Manisha’s recipe for the goat, which was wicked good. And you can tell that Indrani instinctively cooks with LOVE, as everything was so delicious and their apartment was brimming with all good feelings. I ate more than I should have, but I’m not sorry!

Indian food is layered with complex flavors. Sometimes the spice kicks in on the back end. The ingredient list for any of the recipes is always long, yet the flavor payoff is great. And as Indrani says, the best part about cooking Indian food is that you can make everything ahead of time and just keep it warm in the oven until ready to serve.

This was quite a celebration of all good things and a wonderful party. A great time was had by all. But I forgot to take a picture of Indrani, Sumantra and Sourav. :( Next time!!

After the move.

We did it!!

We moved our offices on Thursday. Two trucks and 400 boxes later, we are in our new space in TriBeCa. We finished at 2:30 am on Friday morning. It’s going to be great but right now, my hands hurt so much I’ve been coating them with hand cream followed by a thick coating of Vaseline, and wearing an old pair of my Aunt Lu’s white gloves from the 50’s to sleep in. (Not exactly sexy since I also like to wear a pair of white socks because my feet get so cold – oh well!) My Mom always said that this was the best bet to treat badly damaged hands AND keep your sheets clean. Only now I think I’m going to have to start with some Neosporin on the cuticles first, then the rest of the program.

It is truly amazing how much stuff you can amass in 10 years, particularly in my business with all the printed samples we must have on hand to show to new prospective clients. And I did a lot of editing and throwing away before the movers came and we still have so much stuff.

So we were back in the office again today, working on the unpacking and arrived home at 6:30, starving, as we had no lunch. As I mentioned before, my husband has to be on this crazy diet of no garlic, onions, tomatoes, spicy things, or lemons.

So I wanted to make a shrimp and pasta dish and I’m thinking, what can I do here? It’s easy to make a shrimp and pasta dish with garlic and tomatoes. A little shallot wouldn’t hurt either, or lemon and garlic with white wine, but this! He can have ginger, so I’m considering it but then it’s just not sounding good to me.

So I sent him out to get some parsley (we fortunately have a grocery store right downstairs in our building) and this is what I came up with – and it was crazy delicious!! Simple, quick, clean tasting and it seemed to have a creamy lemony taste, which I’m not sure where that came from – maybe a residual taste from the Sauvignon? Try this and tell me what you think.
Pasta with shrimp, olive oil, parsley and white wine

QUICK, EASY PASTA WITH SHRIMP – AND NO GARLIC
- serves 4

1.5 lbs. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 lb. spaghetti #3
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for finishing
1 cup chopped fresh parsley, washed and air dried before chopping
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt
Pepper
3 – 4 tbs pasta water

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Thoroughly wash and pat dry the shrimp. Salt and pepper one side.

Heat the olive oil until very hot. Add the parsley carefully – it will pop and really sizzle because of the water in it hitting the oil. Stir and let it sizzle for 30 seconds to a minute and then add the shrimp and turn heat down slightly. Cook shrimp 1-2 minutes, add the wine and make sure it is bubbling. Turn the shrimp and cook another 1–2 minutes. When shrimp are pink on both sides, turn off heat but leave in pan.

Meanwhile, you should be cooking your pasta till al dente. Save some pasta water and drain.

In a large bowl layer in half of the pasta and half of the shrimp mixture. Repeat the layers. Drizzle on some additional oil and the pasta water. Toss and combine well. Serve and enjoy!

Remember, it’s always about the quality of ingredients you use. Find the freshest shrimp, the best olive oil, use French grey salt and Tellicherry fresh ground pepper for best results.

Friday night super food!

Sauteed shrimp on a white plate.

Sauteed shrimp on top of kale, turnips and red pepper

I put together this dish last night. I needed to use up an unusual combination of vegetables – turnips and kale, and I had a red pepper and one plum tomato begging to be used as it’s the end of the week. (You’re probably saying, “Yuck!”) I shop once a week for all fruits and vegetables and fill in on fish and meat from my specialty shops – Esposito’s Pork Shop and Sea Breeze Fish Market near my office. I had bought some beautiful, large, fresh Florida shrimp.

So what to do? I just thought about what would taste good for each and cooked accordingly, and hoped for the best. I always warn my husband when I’m starting to do this sort of thing, winging it, to hopefully lower expectations.

I roasted the turnips together with the red pepper tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. This roasting made the turnips sweet little chunks. While that was roasting, I slowly sautéed the garlic first, then added the kale and chicken stock and cooked them until they were very tender. At the end, I sautéed the shrimp in softened shallots and dry vermouth. Dry vermouth to me, is wonderous. Unlike just a plain dry white wine, it makes anything taste like fine French food. Really. Off heat to finish, I swirled in a bit of butter, to keep the French thing going. You can do this sort of thing with chicken too and it will taste amazing. Notice, no carbs, (I could do that because Zach was not eating with us), and we didn’t miss that starch. This turned out awesome!! My husband had 4 helpings of the kale and usually he is not a big kale fan. I think he doesn’t like it when it’s not cooked tender enough.

This makes enough to serve 4, although it was just the two of us last night. But then Zach and his girlfriend finished up everything when they came home at 3:30 am. The dirty dishes were in the sink this morning. (At least they make it to the sink!)

SAUTEED SHRIMP WITH KALE, TURNIPS AND RED PEPPERS
- serves 4

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

2 good-sized turnips, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into ½” strips and then each strip cut into half lengthwise.
2 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper

Toss all together and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until turnips are fork tender and a little browned. Keep warm in a microwave (not turned on) or a warming drawer

1.5 tbs. olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 large bunch of kale, washed thoroughly, stems removed and chopped into 1” strips
1/3 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Some extra water or broth if you need it

Warm the olive oil and sauté the garlic for 10 – 15 minutes to soften. Do not let it brown. Add your kale and chicken broth, toss to combine and cover. Watch and toss often. Add more water or broth if you need to. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until kale is very tender. It will turn dark.

1.5 tbs. olive oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
1/3 cup dry vermouth
1.5 lbs. shrimp, shells removed, tails left on. Wash 3 times, dry, and salt and pepper one side of the shrimp
1 plum tomato, cut into ½” pieces
1 scant tbs. unsalted butter

Warm the olive oil and sauté the shallots on low heat for 10 minutes or longer. Do not let them brown. Turn heat up, add vermouth and let it bubble for a minute. Add the shrimp and tomato and toss and stir until the shrimp turn pink. This will take about 3 minutes. When shrimp are done, remove pan from the heat and swirl in the butter until melted.

Add the roasted turnips and red peppers with all their sauce to the kale mixture and combine. Place a mound of the kale and turnip mixture in the middle of the plate and mound a serving of shrimp in the center of the kale. Drizzle some shrimp juices on the shrimp and kale.

Enjoy!!

One dish meals

I was just thinking how much I love one dish meals for weeknights. What could be simpler? You’ve got your carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins all in one. You can serve it in a lovely flat soup bowl and hopefully the recipe will only cause one or two pots to be dirtied, so clean up is a breeze as well. The Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Chicken Sausage recipe in my last entry is a good example but there are so many. Gnocchi with Shrimp and Snowpeas, Veal Stew with Rosemary and Lemon on Polenta, Orecchiette with Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe, all listed earlier here are other great ones. Think of the many combinations you can make – use your imagination. Combine things you love and you won’t go wrong. Remember to relax, have fun, and pour love into it!Farfalle with lamb sausage and escarole.

Farfalle with lamb sausage and escarole.

Easy Friday night shrimp salad

This is something I threw together last evening and it was great!! I love warm cooking juices on a chilled lettuce salad, and you don’t feel stuffed after this dinner. It is clean and light – much better for you. We served it with a chilled White Bordeaux and it was very good, but a Vouvray or Sauvignon Blanc might be better.

Shrimp salad on an orange placemat.

EASY FRIDAY NIGHT SHRIMP SALAD – serves 2
5 large green leaf lettuce leaves
10 small hearts of romaine lettuce leaves
3 small patty pan squash, cut in chunks
1 medium onion, sliced in 1/4 “ slices, cut in half
3 tbs. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 -  1/4 “ slice of pancetta, cut in 1/8” squares
2 dried red chili peppers, minced with seeds, no stem
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 – 16 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and de-veined, preferable with the tails on
2 small green zebra tomatoes, quartered
1 small red heirloom tomato, cut in eighths

SALAD DRESSING
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
French grey salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk together mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil by droplets and whisk until emulsified.

Wash, spin dry, and chill all the lettuce leaves. Tear into bite size pieces.

Warm 1.5 tbs. olive oil in a skillet, add onions, cover and let sweat on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Uncover and raise heat to medium, add squash. Toss and cook until crisp tender. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Wash (at least 3 times) and pat dry shrimp. Salt and pepper one side

Meanwhile, in another skillet, warm remaining 1.5 tbs. of olive oil, add garlic and sauté on low heat for 5 minutes. Add diced pancetta and cook for 10 minutes or so. Raise heat to medium, add white wine and chili peppers. Let wine cook down by one-half, add drained beans and cook for 3 minutes. Add shrimp and toss until pink on both sides. Remove from heat.

Divide lettuce up on 2 dinner plates, spoon out squash and onion mixture on top. Top with shrimp and bean mixture. Arrange tomatoes in a circular fashion on top, drizzle on salad dressing and serve immediately. You may not use all of the shrimp and bean mixture or salad dressing. I didn’t. They make great leftovers and you will use them later.

What to do?

Gnocchi with shrimp and snow peas in a white bowl.
I had a craving for some gnocchi. The weather is getting cooler and gnocchi is so warm and comforting  – yummy. So that’s what I wanted for dinner and I knew we should have fish – too much meat already this week. So I ask my husband what he feels like eating and he says, “Well shrimp is always good.” He loves shrimp

Hmmmm, I ‘m thinking, Shrimp and gnocchi? I was intending something more like salmon with gnocchi as a side dish. And then I have these snowpeas that need to be used. So here’s what I did.

Everyone LOVED  it!

I hope you like it too.

GNOCCHI WITH SHRIMP & SNOWPEAS
1 tbs. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large leeks, white and very light green parts only, thoroughly washed and cleaned (slice in half lengthwise and wash all layers, then thinly slice half circles
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 Thai red chili pepper minced with seeds
½ large red pepper cut in thin long strips and then cut in half again, OR: use the 3 tops left over from your stuffed peppers
¼ cup dry vermouth
12 oz. snowpeas, cleaned
11/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails left on
1 lb. gnocchi
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Set a large pot of salted water on to boil for the gnocchi. Use coarse sea salt for the water.

Warm the olive oil on low heat, add leeks and garlic, cover and sweat for 10 – 12  minutes. The onion and garlic will get sweet and soft, stir every once in a while to make sure it doesn’t brown. Raise heat to medium and add vermouth and let bubble for 1 – 2 minutes, then add tomatoes and red pepper and let cook for 10 more minutes while you wash your shrimp (3 times), dry and salt and pepper one side. Add cleaned snow peas and sauté for 3 – 5 minutes, then add shrimp  and toss and cook until just done and they have turned pink, about 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste Meanwhile, cook your gnocchi in the boiling water, drain. Combine with shrimp mixture, garnish with chopped parsley.

Now I know the next night I want to make my version of a Mark Bittman recipe of  pasta with a Tuscan duck sauce, but the duck takes 1.5 hours to cook so I decide to buy the duck and cook it tonight while I’m cooking this dinner and it’s easy. You just need to plan it.

Trim all the visible fat from 3 duck legs and thighs. Wash and pat dry. Put them skin side down in a non-stick skillet and  turn heat to medium. When they start to sizzle, cover and turn heat to low for 60 -65 minutes, or until skin is crisp. Check every so often to make sure they are not burning. When skin is crisp, turn over and cook, covered for another 20 – 25 minutes or so, until very tender. Remove duck, cool and refrigerate. Scrape cooled duck fat into another container and refrigerate.