Thursday, March 29, 2012

Be Prepared Fish. Fun With Girl Scout Cookies

   I started out early as a door-to-door salesperson. Back in the day, waaaaay before internet shopping, there was such a thing as selling stuff door-to-door. Of course there were professionals who did this, but kids did it too. I sold lots of stuff because my school sent me out to do so. I sold Catholic Christmas Seals for The Holy Childhood. I sold subscriptions to the Catholic Newspaper The Monitor. Chances are if you loved in San Francisco any time during the 1960s, I was knocking on your door. All of those things of course were with the blessings of my parents who accompanied me on my door knocking adventures.

   However, I really had a taste for the old doorbells, and I set out on my own little sales projects. It all started when I saw this ad on the back of my Batman Comic Book.

   I saw that. A for reals teacup monkey! I wanted that monkey bad. The way I saw it, it could sleep in my underwear drawer and no one would be the wiser. It didn't hurt that merely for sending off the form, I'd also get FREE FREE FREE a genuine magnifying glass which I could use to start fires and signal for help. I wanted that monkey bad enough to steal an envelope and stamp from my mom's drawer, fill out the form and mail it off. Of course I didn't bother with the small print which involved my selling some stuff. What stuff exactly? This stuff.

   White Cloverine Brand Salve. I had no idea what it was for or did. Hell, I didn't even know what salve was. All I could think of was that monkey and the fun we'd have. Of course I never even considered the fact that I had asthma, and just being in the room with the monkey would probably kill me. After all, hadn't I already proved myself selling newspaper subscriptions and Christmas Seals? The salve (whatever it was) would be a no brainer.  As it turns out this was sort of what it was.

   Before long, a large box was delivered to our doorstep addressed to me. Of course at the age of 8, I didn't get a hell of a lot of mail, so my parents couldn't help but notice. I tore the box open, dug around a bunch of flat tin cans, pulled out my ABSOLUTELY FREE magnifying glass, and set out to signal for help. My mom of course wondered "what the hell those cans were?".

   "Salve," I said, "I'm selling it to the neighbors. I'm getting a monkey. He's going to live in my underwear drawer"

   Famous last words. The magnifying glass, the salve, the whole thing was packed up, taped up   marked in big letters "NO SUCH PERSON AT THIS ADDRESS" and dropped off at the post office.
That was the end of my door-to-door sales career. Until I joined the Girl Scouts and I found myself back in the door-to-door sales business, this time with my moms okay.

   Now I wasn't the handiest Girl Scout. I was a city kid. I did earn a Knot Tying Badge, but my big achievement, the only badge I really wanted was the now discontinued Story Teller Badge.

   Actually it was quite prescient considering I've earned my living for decades as a screenwriter. Of course the other thing I was good at was selling cookies. It was similar to situations where companies bring in hackers to check their security systems. All of a sudden I was back on peoples doorsteps, but this time in a uniform on the side of The Light. I was legit. No salve, no monkeys, just good wholesome Girl Scout Cookies.

   Which brings me to this recipe. I simply couldn't resist when my friend Beth's two little girls were selling their Girl Scout Cookies this year. I set myself a challenge. I would do something with the cookies besides dipping them in a cup of tea. Maybe I've been watching too much Chopped but I loved the idea of a challenge. I was determined to come up with something. Beth suggested that the best cookie for me  to use would be the peanutty Do-Si Do's .

I wanted to use them in an Indian flavored dish so after thinking for a bit I decided to make a crust I could use for oven fried fish which I would call "Be Prepared Fish."

Peanut Crusted Oven Fried Fish

Here's What You Need:

1 box of Do-si-dos Girl Scout Cookies
3/4 cup of roasted unasalted ground peanuts
1 tsp of kashmiri chili (1/2 tsp cayenne mixed with 1/2 tsp paprika)
1 tsp of salt
3/4 tsp of garam masala
1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 lb of fish fillets, snapper, catfish, basa (I used basa)

Here's What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Pour the buttermilk and the coconut milk into a pie plate , mix them together and set it aside
Separate the Do-si-dos. Untwist them

Scrape the filling off the sides of the cookies.

Put the cookie halves in a blender or grinder and grind them into fine crumbs.

Pour the crumbs into a large bowl.

Pour the peanuts into a blender or grinder. Grind them into a powder and pour them into the bowl with the cookie crumbs.
Add in the chili powder...

...salt and garam masala
Mix everything together well. Taste your crumb mixture and adjust your seasonings.  You may want to add more ground peanuts or chili to balance the sweetness of the cookies.
Dip the fish fillets into the milk mixture . Coat them well and them dip the fillet into the crumb and spice mixture.

Place the fillets on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and put them into the  preheated 425 degree oven.

Bake the fish for about 20 minutes then flip them and bake on the other side for another 5 minutes or so. The fish should flake easily and still be moist. This is a matter of your oven speed, so keep an eye on it. I had planned on flipping the fish after 15 minutes but decided that because of the thickness of the fish to let it cook a bit longer. This is a matter for eyeballing.

   As you can imagine I was pretty curious to taste this concoction. It worked!

   I served the fish with Coconut Dal , tomato raita, and saag with spices. Fish rolled in Girl Scout Cookies and Indian Spices was good. Who knew? So next time the Brownies and Scouts come knocking on your door, think outside the box. Try something new. You won't be sorry.
 Coming up next I finally get around to the green mango rice. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fast and Snappy Fresh Peanut and Radish Salad

   It seems that every April I have to remind myself that while I'm waiting for more and more of the fruits and vegetables of Spring and Summer to arrive, I need to take advantage of what's blooming and budding all around me. I also go looking for cheap, and it's great and good friend, easy. Maybe it's the time of year when I just don't want to work too hard. After all, the clocks have been set back and I'm only now catching up . Every now and then it's helpful to find something that everyone likes and that can be put together easily. That's where the radish and peanut salad comes in.

   Radishes don't seem to be a big part of the American diet. Other cultures seem to enjoy them more.  I grew up eating them as part of big Italian family dinners where antipasti always featured them along with pickled pigs feet and various olives and other charcuterie. And if you've never had fresh French breakfast radishes with unsalted butter and a  crusty loaf of fresh bread, you're missing a real treat.

   Radish eating isn't just confined to European food. Indian cuisine enjoys them also, where they are the stars of a number of refreshing, tasty salads. A great way to get any non or novice radish eaters in the household into radish appreciation, is to pair radishes with something known and popular. I'm looking at you, peanut. When you want something fast and fresh and tasty, get a bunch of radishes and a handful of fresh roasted peanuts and you've got salad.

Radish and Peanut Salad

Here's What You Need:

1/2 lb of radishes
1 Tbs of vegetable oil (coconut oil is great)
1/4 tsp of cumin seed
1/4 tsp black mustard seed
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1/4 tsp of salt
1 Tbs of lemon juice
2/3 cup of chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

Here's What To Do:

Chop the peanuts and set them aside.

Wash the radishes and remove the tops and tips.

Cut them in half and then in half again, quartering them.
Heat the vegetable or coconut oil in a small skillet.
When the oil is hot, add in 1/4 tsp of mustard seed and 1/4 tsp of cumin seed.
When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in 1/4 tsp of turmeric and 1/4 tsp of salt.
Take the pan off the heat and add in 1 Tbs of lemon juice.
Mix the oil and spices together well and let the "dressing" cool.
Take the radishes and the peanuts and blend them together well.

Pour the cooled oil and spices into the radish and peanut mixture.

Blend everything together well and serve it up.

   Crunchy, spicy and nutty with a nice little kick of mustard seed and lemon to make things fresh. This is a great little side salad that works with anything from an Indian dinner to a grilled cheese sandwich or burger. Fast cheap and under your control. Try radishes, they're popping up all over the place right now.

   Coming up next, a tart, sweet rice dish made with fresh green mango. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One Potato, Two Potato, Indian Party-Perfect Finger Food

   When I was a kid, if anyone had asked me what my favorite finger food was, (actually the term finger food wasn't yet coined) I probably would have said Tater Tots. I know, Tater Tots are actually supposed to be eaten with a fork, but in my house they counted as a finger food. At least when my mother wasn't looking they did. Nothing was better than tossing a nice puffy hot chunk of tater into my eleven year old maw. Or against the wall. Splat. Tater Tot War. Also when my mother wasn't looking.

   Well I've outgrown Tater Tots but like many first loves, they still hold a fond place in my heart. So when I was planning my birthday party this year, l have to admit, I was looking for the Indian equivalent. I found them, and their name is called Bonda. Bonda are a South Indian snack, sometimes sweet but more often savory. They can be stuffed with anything from vegetables in all varieties, to spicy mashed potatoes. They had me at potatoes.
   This easy tasty snack food consists mainly of spiced, mashed potatoes rolled into balls, dipped in a batter of spices and chickpea flour (yes, these are gluten free!) then fried. The filling can be made ahead, then they can be prepared ahead of time and kept warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to be served.


Indian Potato Fritters

Here's What You Need:

4 russet potatoes
4 green serrano chilies seeded and finely chopped
A 1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
salt to taste
2 large onions finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
oil for frying
3 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 dried red chili cut in half
6 curry leaves
2 cups of chickpea flour (besan flour)
2 tsp of Kashmiri chili (1/2 tsp paprika mixed with 1/2 tsp of cayenne)
water as needed

Here's What To Do:

Boil the potatoes in their peels.
Let them cool, then peel, mash them and set them aside.
Heat 3 tsp of unsalted butter.
When the butter is hot, toss in the mustard seeds, urad dal, the halved red chili,and the curry leaves.

When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the finely chopped green chilies, ginger and onions.

Cook everything down for about 3 minutes or so.
Add in the mashed potato...

...salt to taste , turmeric

and chopped cilantro.

Cook everything together for another 3 minutes or so, until it's all blended. Take the pan off the heat, set it aside and let it cool.

Shape the potato mixture into balls. There should be about 10 to 15 of them.

Set the potato balls aside.

Now it's time to make the batter:

In a large bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, salt, chili powder and water.
Mix it all together until the batter hits dropping consistency. This is a matter of judgement. The batter should neither be too thick nor too thin.

It should be a bit thinner than this. Remember, if it's not working correctly, just thin it with a bit more water.
In a kadhai or deep skillet, heat the oil for deep frying. I used about 3 cups of vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot, dip a potato ball into the batter bowl.
Coat it and place it into the boiling oil. BE CAREFUL!
Let them float and cook in the oil until they're a toasty brown.

Fish them out with a slotted spoon, place them on a paper towel-covered plate to drain away excess oil, then pop them onto a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm.
That's it. When you're ready, serve them up.

   I served them with three different chutneys, a sweet hot Seeni Sambol, a firey hot cilantro and peanut chutney and a mild, cooling mint raita. A spread of several relishes and chutneys running the gamut from hot hot hot, to soothing cool is the perfect accompaniment for cute little potato bites.

   They were super popular and in fact I doubled this recipe and still could have used a few more. As a friend said, "they're addicting". Even more addicting than Tater Tots!

   Of course I had a birthday cake.

And it wouldn't be a party without presents. Alan gave me a set of All Clad cookware  which was a total surprise. I thought he was going out on the deck to sneak a smoke when actually he was unloading them from a friend's car where they'd been hidden.

   I guess I could have used some new stuff since I've been cooking with the same metal pots and pans I first bought when I left home at the age of 21 to move to LA. They're not going to be taking the place of my clay, which was the first thing that Paula Wolfert said when I opened the box (she has them too). It just feels nice to finally have Big Girl Pans and also to get punked by Alan!

   Patsy had her own little party in a corner of the living room with her new friend Ryo.

Ryo was visiting from Japan with his dad and since he has an Akita there was a bonding over dog cookies and some sneaky cheese. He took a piece of birthday cake into a corner and Patsy literally ran after him. I've never seen her move so fast. If this doesn't look like the total picture of Cake Guilt I don't know what does.

"Who Us?!" 
   Everyone had a great time and the spicy little Indian Tater Tots won themselves a place on my permanent party rotation. I'll be out in the kitchen rattling my new pots and pans, and coming up next I'll be getting back to my Green Mango Rice. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Short Birthday Thank You!

    I'm celebrating a birthday today. Birthdays always weird me out, the whole getting older thing. The passage of time. The bigger job retouching my roots. However, there's the alternative to consider, so bring on the wrinkles!

  I was going to be sharing a recipe for green mango rice but that's been called on a account of cake. I wish I could share a piece of this delicious Princess Cake with all of you who've sent me birthday greetings, but all I can offer is a virtual slice, and a very real Thank You! It's mind boggling to think of all the people I've met since starting this blog, and since every day brings someone's birthday, it's really like being at one big continuing world-wide party. So raise a glass to yourselves and also to two friends who are celebrating James Beard nominations this evening, Paula Wolfert and Suvir Saran. Congrats to you both!

   Coming up next, Green Mango Rice, a great side dish made with unripe fruit. You can't go wrong! 
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kerala Coconut Curd For A Green St. Patricks Day Dinner.

   Every year there comes a day when everybody is Irish. I'm talking about St. Patrick's Day. It's one of those peculiarly American holidays when no matter who you are or where your family originally came from, we're all part of one big, noisy partying horde. The streets are jammed with parades, people wear buttons saying "Kiss Me I'm Irish" and the rivers run green. In some places, that can actually be a refreshing change.

   So what does a blog dedicated to Indian food have to do with the wearing of the green? Usually the greens I'm mainly dealing with are cilantro sprigs rather than shamrocks but hey, actually I'm part Irish. My full name is Kathleen Anne Bridget Gori.

   Waaaaay way back, part of my mothers' family came from the town of Killawillen in the Barony of Barrymore in the Blackwater Valley just outside of Cork. Three sisters arrived in San Francisco in January of 1851. One of them was my great, great grandmother. Things being as they were in the boom-town that was early day San Francisco, following a rather "hus-hush" evening at the Infamous Bella Union gambling saloon and Temple of Terpsichore, where where according to family legend, she was known to earn a few extra bucks of an evening blowing on dice for unlucky gamblers... was there she hooked up with a dashing 49'er from New Orleans of French Ancestry, my great great grandfather John. John got around. He was a successful businessman who did what smart guys did during the gold rush. They sold stuff to other guys looking for gold. 8 years later in 1859, he made an honest woman of her when they married at Old St. Mary's Church, still standing today. One of my favorite stories about this old church where I went to confession as a child, was it's clock tower which bore the motto: "Son, Observe the Time and Fly from Evil" (Ecclesiasticus 4:23). This gentle reminder was aimed at the men who frequented the surrounding "joints" such as The Bella Union  in the 1850s.

   Great grandpa had a lot of hobbies not the least of which was this organization of which he was the President.

"ST. MARY'S TEMPERANCE, BENEVOLENT, ANT)  LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.— Organized 1867. Regular meetings first and Third Sundays of each month. Number of members, sixty. Library open every first and third Sunday from two to four-o'clock p.m. This association has been organized for the purpose of protecting the Catholic working man against the moral and social evils (Bella note) usually attendant upon a life of arduous and precarious labor. A large reading room has been fitted up for the accommodation of the society in the basement of Saint Marys Cathedral.(no girls allowed) It has a carefully selected library, numbering at present over two thousand five hundred volumes, consisting of all the Catholic works published in America, to which will soon be added those of Irish and English publishers. There is also a good collection of other useful and instructive works. "

Their child met this guy, the second on the left in the back, Iron Mike Walsh.

   Mike was a member of the San Francisco Police Department's Chinatown Squad. Born in San Francisco in 1854, he joined the department in 1880 and at his death in 1921, was it's longest serving officer. No retirement in those days. Supposedly he was undercover ( look at him! how that worked I have no idea) and moonlighted as a bare knuckle boxer. One sparring partner was John L Sullivan. After that, the Irish fade from my mom's family tree, swamped in a sea of Italian immigrants and names ending in vowels.

  As for my dad's side, fuggedabout it! They're straight off the boat from Italy. Never the less, every year at this time, I get a little Irish pride on and go looking for green in various forms. This time I think I've found something that makes a perfect Irish looking accent to any Indian dinner, and that's a Kerala Coconut Curd.

   Before I started cooking Indian food, all I knew from curds were Little Miss Muffets Curds and Whey. Curds however are a whole lot tastier than that. They're a delicious blend of yogurt, spices and in the case of this recipe, coconut! They mix up super fast and are a perfect side on any table, no matter what you're serving.Did I mention they're fast to fix? Yes they are. Mix this up and in 15 minutes your relishing.


Coconut Curd

What you need:

For The Curd:

6 Tbs of fresh grated coconut or 8 Tbs of dried grated unsweetened coconut
6 green serrano chilies seeded and chopped
A 1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
2 bunches of finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups of plain yogurt

For the Chaunk:

3 Tbs of vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)
2 tsp of brown mustard seeds
2 tsps of channa dal (yellow split peas)
1 tsp of urad dal (if you can't find this don't worry about it)
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 dried red chilies broken in half
A few curry leaves

Here's What To Do:

Put the coconut , green chilies, ginger and some of the cilantro in a blender or food processor.
Blend everything into a fine paste.
Add the paste to the yogurt and mix it together.
Add in the salt and set it aside.

In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot, toss in the mustard seeds, the yellow split peas, urad dal, cumin seeds, halved dried red chilies, and a few curry leaves.

 Stir the spice mix around in the hot oil.

When the mustard seeds start to pop, mix everything into the yogurt salad.

 Blend everything together well.

Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the salad.
Garnish it with the cooked curry leaves.
Salt to taste
Serve it cold.
This recipe serves 8 as a side dish.

 This is a great spicy/cool relish, wonderful with the vegetarian South Indian dinner I served it with. But it works equally well with the grilled chicken I served it with the next afternoon. So, no matter where you are on March 17th, add a little bit of India to your St. Patricks Day table.

Now, here's another celebration I'd like to invite everyone to take part in, #Indianfoodpalooza !

  Creative Culinary , Indian Simmer and I would like to invite you  to come cook with us in the month of March! Learn the pleasures of the Indian table. Take the plunge!  Whether you've always cooked Indian food or don't know a dosa from a donut, everybody's welcome. The idea is to have some fun and learn a few new dishes.

To participate and be eligible to win all one has to do is this: 

  Post an Indian dish on your blog between March 5, 2012 and April 5, 2012.
   Link your dish up using the linking tool at the bottom of the post; only one entry per person
please. Entering your dish on any of our sites will have it display on all three
   Put a link in your post to this post so that your readers can join us too!

The hashtag for the event: #IndianFoodPalooza

  We  also decided to offer prizes, since that always makes things more interesting. Prizes to be awarded include:

  Dried Coconut  (which I use nearly everyday) from Tropical Traditions for one of our readers that link up a recipe (We have three separate prizes from this company; each of us will be posting
something unique.)

 A set of Indian Spices ( from
My Spice Sage. Ten (4 oz) resealable bags. See website for full product information.
  J.K. Adams artisan maple cutting board from my Creative Culinary's Vino Luci ( store; a wine accessory and gift store.

   Prize winners will be chosen and winners notified April 5, 2012 using the email included on the link created. Winners will have until April 10, 2012 to respond with shipping information or another winner will be chosen.

Please note:  We want to encourage everyone to join us and share their experience but our
sponsors are shipping prizes directly and have requested that we limit the shipping area to the Continental USA.

Inspired? Ready to give this a whirl? The check these out:

Barbara at Creative Culinary is offering a Mumbai Sandwich
Prerna at Indiansimmer is featuring Jalebi

Here are more ideas for great Indian recipes:
  1. KO Rasoi by Sanjana
  2. Chef In You
  3. eCurry by Soma Rathore
  4. Journey Kitchen by Kulsum
  5. Cook In a Curry by Maunika Gowardhan
  6. Tongue Ticklers by Harini Prakash
  7. Lite Bite by Sanjeeta
  8. Veggie Belly by Sala Kanan
  9. Kothiyavunu which is a great source for Kerala recipes
  10. Sandhyas Kitchen
  11. Cookbooks by Suvir Saran and Madhur Jaffrey



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