mocha pot de creme

We have some friends who, whenever they are over, one of them asks, "Is there dessert?" as we are sitting down to the meal. And while the other one, the wife, rolls her eyes and laughs off her husband's faux-pas, I always wonder if he doesn't have a good point. Would it be good policy to let our guests know what's for dessert so they know how much room to leave for the sweet ending?

Not sure why these are called 'mocha' pot de cremes because there isn't a shot of coffee or espresso in them. They're more like chocolate custards. But I didn't name them, Martha Stewart did, so we still call them mocha pot de cremes.

And just so you have all the facts, one requires hardly any room at all. Enjoy seconds and dessert.

mocha pot de creme
serves 4

1/4 C dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 C + 1 Tbs skim milk
1/4 C low-fat evaporated milk
1 large egg
1 egg white
3/4 C white sugar
pinch of salt
confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line shallow baking pan with cloth towel and set aside.

Place cocoa powder in medium mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix milks. Slowly whisk 3 tablespoons of the milk mixture into the cocoa and whisk for a thick paste. Whisk in remaining; set aside.

In large bowl, combine egg, egg white, sugar, and salt. Whisk until combined. Whisk in cocoa-milk mixture. Divide among 4 4-oz ramekins. Place in towel-lned pan and pour hot water into pan, until water is half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Transfer carefully to oven. Bake until puddings are set with slightly jiggled, about 50 minutes. Remove from water and transfer to wire rack. Let cool 20-30 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm. Excellent with mint tea.


indian beans and rice

When someone says rice n' beans, I usually assume we're talking about Mexican food, but that just shows my ignorance because it's a super common dish around the world. This Indian version, called rajma chawal (pronounced 'chavel'), is made with kidney beans and it's got umpteen layers of flavour.

In their new cookbook, Vikram Vij and his wife say it felt silly to write down a recipe like this, one so common in an Indian household. But I'm glad they did because I needed help with the spices. They encourage folks to play around with the amounts of spices to find a combo that works for their families. We made the dish as written and it's fairly spicy, but so delicious I doubt we'd change a thing.

rajma chawal
serves 6

1/2 C cooking oil (canola, olive oil, ghee, your choice)
1 1/2 C chopped onion (1 medium)
2 Tbs finely chopped garlic
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 C chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder (mild Mexican)
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cayenne (optional, but in my opinion, essential)
1/2 C plain yogurt
5-6 C water, depending on how soupy you want your curry
3 14-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 C cooked basmati rice

Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high. Add onion and saute until slightly dark brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute, then add ginger and tomatoes. Stir in spices -- chili powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne -- and saute this masala together until oil glistens on top, 5-8 minutes.

Place yogurt in a small bowl. To prevent curdling, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the hot masala into the yogurt. Stir well, then pour yogurt into the pot. Saute for a couple of minutes, until the oil glistens again.

Add water, stir, turn up the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add kidney beans, stir and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium and cook for a few minutes, until beans are warmed through.

Serve over rice, adding a dollop of plain yogurt if you wish.


mild chicken masala

Need an excuse to buy some garam masala? Look no further!

I've got just the meal plan for you. It's easy and tasty. If you're afraid of spicy heat, don't be scared. It's a 'family style' recipe from Bon Appetit designed to introduce kids to Indian cooking. So, no heat, just subtle Indian flavours.

Here's the deal, I barely strayed from the original recipes so I'm just going to link to them here...

easy chicken masala -- Really, it's easy. Marinate, then bake. That's it.
caramelized cumin-roasted carrots -- Your basic roasted carrots, but with cumin tossed in with the olive oil and salt.
cucumber raita -- That cooling yogurt & cucumber spread that's so great on everything from naan to chicken.

And I served all of the above with some store-bought naan (but here's a recipe for whole wheat naan that I've been meaning to try) and a pot of basmati rice. (Basmati has a unique fragrance and texture -- don't settle for long grain white if you can help it.)

What comes next? Soup!

Since we had chicken, carrots and rice left over, I made soup. If you'd like to do the same...

Thinly slice the roasted carrots, remove the cooked chicken from the bone and dice, and finely chop 1 small yellow onion. In a medium saucepan, saute onion in a bit of olive oil. Add in 1 tsp ground cumin. Cook for 30 seconds or so before adding carrots, chicken and 3 cups chicken broth. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low. Add cooked basmati rice, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir through chopped fresh cilantro and serve in bowls with a dollop of plain yogurt and a dash of cayenne pepper.

It just occurred to me that the amounts of onion, cumin, etc will depend on how much leftovers you have. (Sorry, I'm slow.) So if this recipe is going to be at all useful, you should know that I used 1 tsp cumin, 1 small onion, 3 cups broth, and a small handful of cilantro, to about 1 cup sliced carrots, 3 drumsticks, and a couple of cups of rice.


projects for the new year

Check out this fantastic list of tutorials -- a roundup from 2010. So many of these projects are ones that I'd love to make. But first... I need to get organized!

I mean, I've got patterns printed and waiting in my WIP box, a ton of ideas bookmarked on the computer, pdfs saved to the desktop, inspiration jotted down on our fridge's whiteboard, my queue in ravelry... it's hard to keep it all straight, really. I need a master list somewhere.

What's your system? Is it paper or digital?


jar o' goodies

Still digging out from the holiday travel miscellany around here, but I wanted to drop in to say Happy New Year!

This little mason jar of craftiness (thanks to martha for pincushion lid idea) sets off a new year of making.