Cardamom Rosewater Bread Pudding

Lately we’ve been doing a lot of this….

Luca

Just watching this little dude, and feeding him, and changing him, and feeding him, and changing him. And staring at him. I can’t believe that he’s finally here, and how in love with him we are.

And as we near his one month birthday, we’re finally hitting a bit of a rhythm. Part of feeling back to some semblance of ourselves has meant being able to cook and hang out with friends. Tonight we had friends over for Indian on the front porch–daal, chana masala, and sarson ka saag (Indian greens, which I’ll post a recipe for soon).

I wouldn’t normally make dessert, but I had a ton of leftover hamburger buns from a weekend cookout, and decided to make an Indian-inspired bread pudding from them. I know that a nice sourdough or challah would be more classy, but I hate wasting food. The cardamom and rosewater were a nice touch, and the hamburger buns made a surprisingly custardy and light pudding. I would definitely make this again for dessert or breakfast/brunch with whatever bread I had around.

Bread Pudding

Cardamom Rosewater Bread Pudding

  • 8 hamburger buns
  • 3 C. whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 Tb. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. rosewater
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/8 C. golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350. Tear the buns into large pieces and place in a lightly greased Pyrex. Sprinkle the raisins over the bread. Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, and butter. Add the rosewater, vanilla, and cardamom and whisk well. Pour over the bread and let it soak in evenly. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the pudding is set and pulls away from the edges of the pan.

Tomato Coconut Milk Soup

Hurricane Sandy

The weather lately has been crazy, as anyone looking at the aftermath (and continued destructive path) of Hurricane Sandy could tell you. We’re out of harm’s way here in Tennessee, but we sure have had our NYC/NJ/New England friends on our minds the past few days–many people I know are out of power, and many that I don’t know are dealing with flooded homes or burned homes. What a massive, scary storm. Stay safe everyone!

The cold front that ended up helping to make Sandy into a superstorm hit Tennessee, and the past few days it has been chilly. I’ve been craving something simple and hot and cozy, and this soup hit the spot. It’s also good for lunch leftovers, which is great since I don’t have time to cook lunches and dinners all the time.

The soup, which is adapted from 101 Cookbooks, has endless variations, and so I look forward to making this one a staple at our home. Yum.

Tomato Coconut Milk Soup

Tomato Coconut Milk Soup

adapted from “A Simple Tomato Soup,” 101 Cookbooks 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 
1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste

  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (pref. fire-roasted)
  • 
1 14-ounce can light or full fat coconut milk
  • to serve: any of the following that sound good to you – cooked brown rice, lemon wedges, toasted almond slices, fresh herbs, a poached egg

In a large pot over medium heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft – 10 minutes or so. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute or so. Stir in the salt, curry powder, coriander, fennel, and chile flakes, and cook just until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes, the juices from the cans, and the can of coconut milk. Simmer for fifteen minutes or so, then puree with a hand blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot over rice or with any of the other toppings you desire. Can also be served at room temp or chilled with a dollop of yogurt, as in the picture above.

With a little help from a jar….

…can’t believe it’s not takeout 20 min Chickpea Madras Curry!

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Real talk: since I went back to school, nothing too inspiring or innovative has been coming out of my kitchen.  Grilling, the same 2-3 dinners on rinse and repeat, and yes, more than one evening of Thai takeout.  Every day I check cooking from afar and think “I need to make something delicious, stat!” and every Monday or Thursday night I find myself doing something boring….you know, not blogworthy.

I suspected last Thursday would be no different.  I was rushing home from 8 hours of class and I knew the cupboards were pretty bare.  As I walked with my grad school partner in crime Emily, we received a flyer for a new Indian restaurant in Central Square.  We both expressed a yearning for some Indian fare, especially with fall’s arrival and the new chill in the air.  Inspiration struck.  I remembered I had bought a jar of Indian Simmer Sauce on sale at Whole Foods a few months back.  I selected it for its notable lack of heavy cream: its main ingredients are tomato paste, coconut milk, and various Indian spices.  It’s the kind of thing you could definitely make on your own.  But some Thursdays, you just don’t have time to.

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When I got home, I looked around for what else I had to simmer with this little number.  Onions and garlic?  Check.  Jar of chickpeas?  Check.  Rice?  Check.  I set to work, and 1 hour later (which was mostly rice cooking time), I produced a curry so delicious that both of us felt it was just as good as takeout.  Now, is this the most creative thing I’ve ever made?  Does it showcase my formidable cooking skills?  Not really (plus I burned the bottom of the rice).  But I think it’s a quick meal that many of us can throw together and enjoy on a busy fall weeknight.

I want to experiment with making the sauce on my own.  Also, I think this would be tasty with some chutneys and a spiced yogurt sauce.  But it’s also damn good just as it is: a weeknight dinner with a little help from a jar.  It beats the price of Indian takeout, and it definitely beats the cream content, too.  Just wanted to share a snapshot of our weeknight dinners lately.  Want to hear from the rest of you!  What have you been cooking up so far this fall?

XO,

-S

Ingredients:

1 jar Madras Curry Sauce (or make your own if you’re feeling fancy- coconut milk, tomato paste, spices)

1 cup uncooked brown rice

2T coconut oil

1 jar chickpeas

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

toppings of choice (we had some of the last of the summer tomatoes, chopped, and some torn fresh basil).

Cook the rice according to directions. 

Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic in the coconut oil (used here to promote Indian flavors; if you don’t have any, olive oil or butter works fine).  Over medium heat until onions garlic are translucent and soft (10ish minutes).  Add chickpeas, sauté about 5-7 more minutes, then add simmer sauce until the mixture is warm.  Add toppings if you wish and serve. 

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Pav Bhaji . . or Spicy Yummy Indian Vegetables

On the northern side of Chicago, not too far from where we live, is a stretch of Devon Avenue absolutely covered with amazing Indian and Pakistani restaurants and shops. It really does feel like stepping into another country while being there. We haven’t frequented it as often as I’d like–only a few times–but the last time we were there, we dropped in an Indian grocery store to see what they had. I had plans to buy spices, but the container were all huge and I was so overwhelmed by all of the choice, I simply grabbed one spice mix box from the shelf that looked promising and left promptly.

Pav Bahji Masala (masala just means mix of spices)--this is the brand I got, but I hear "Everest" brand is good.

Pav Bahji Masala (masala just means mix of spices)--this is the brand I got, but I hear "Everest" brand is particularly good.

Boy am I glad that I did! I have no idea why I grabbed the box that I did, other than that it looked like the spice mix was meant for vegetables rather than meat, and I thought it was kind of weird and intriguing that the dish pictured on the box included a big, buttered, yeasty-looking roll.

I came home with the Pav Bahji Masala, and for whatever reason, never looked up a recipe online to learn more about the spice mix. However, the mix smelled delicious, and the picture featured a tomato-based sauce, so I ad-libbed with some canned tomatoes, lots of fresh veggies, and a tablespoon or so of the spice mix. It was spicy, and oh so good.

Apparently, Pav Bahji is a common kind of street food in central and western Indian states. Cooked veggies, especially potato and cauliflower, are mashed along with tomatoes and the spice mix to make kind of a thick stew or gravy that is traditionally served with a pat of butter on top and a roll (that’s the Portuguese influence coming in), as well as diced raw onion and lemon/lime slices on the side.

As a vegetarian, I do find that I sometimes do crave fat, specially in the winter, and so I did mix in a small pat of butter into the cooked veggies at the end a couple of times, and I must say it is very satisfying. My bastardized version of this dish is usually served on top of quinoa or Israeli couscous (the latter is especially nice), and without a roll. While the butter does add richness if you stir it in, you can control how much fat you add, and unlike many Indian vegetarian dishes, it doesn’t contain paneer, cream, or lots of ghee, all of which are difficult for a lactose intolerant person like myself. That said, I know in the traditional dish (not my own version), additions of cheese are common, so go that route if you’d like. Also, while I haven’t tried it, you could definitely add in kidney beans or chickpeas if you wanted to add some protein to this dish, and I think that would be very tasty.

Pav Bahji with broccoli, peas, and bell peppers and a lime and pat of butter to top.

Pav Bahji with broccoli, peas, and bell peppers and a lime and pat of butter to top.

I’m imagining this spice mix could be hard to come up with unless you have a good Indian store nearby, or order it off the internet. So I’ll try and look up a recipe for the spice mix to make from scratch over the next few weeks. In the meantime, my internet sources tell me that this masala contains chili, coriander, cumin seeds,black pepper, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, mango powder, fennel seeds, and turmeric.

Pav Bahji, Cat Style

  • 1 Tb. vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tb. pav bahji
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 C. diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 3 1/2 C. mixed veggies–whatever you have in your fridge (potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, bell pepper, peas, etc.)
  • a handful of chopped cilantro
  • optional: lime slices, butter

Heat the oil over medium heat, and then add the onion and jalapeno, sauteeing for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to soften. Add the ginger and garlic, and saute another 5 minutes or so. Add in the pav bahji and the turmeric and saute for about a minute. Add in the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the vegetables, and a tiny bit of water if more liquid is needed to make a sauce for the veggies. You may need to add the vegetables at different times if their cooking times vary–it depends on what you add in. Once all of the veggies are tender, take off the flame, and stir in the cilantro. Serve with a tiny pat of butter and a wedge of lime, if desired. Very nice served over Israeli couscous.