Breakfast smoothies

Kale-mango-pineapple-coconut smoothie

Smoothies have dominated my breakfast landscape for the past few months. They’re delicious, and oh hey, they’re also extremely healthy and help to fulfill that pesky fruit/veggie daily requirement.

Inspiration for smoothies: the almighty Alton Brown and his tips for breakfast smoothies from Live and Let Diet.

Here’s what I use for my smoothies:

  • Immersion blender, and the handy 2-cup plastic beaker that comes with it. I imagine a blender or a food processor would work just as well.
  • Frozen bananas. As per Alton Brown, I buy big bunches of bananas (the riper the better), and let them ripen for a bit longer in my produce bowl before peeling, transferring to a large resealable freezer bag, and tossing in the freezer.
  • Additional rotation of frozen fruit. I tend to favor mixed berries, mango, and pineapple.
  • Leafy greens, i.e. spinach or kale.
  • Non-dairy milk, usually almond.

Here’s how I make them. If I’m responsible and planning ahead, I do this before I go to bed and place the filled beaker in the fridge, then blend in the morning. Lately I’ve been lazy, however, and fill the beaker in the morning, pop in the microwave for 1 minute, then blend. The night before method is preferable, however.

  • Fill 2-cup plastic beaker with 1 cup of non-dairy milk.
  • Break 1 frozen banana in half, and add to beaker.
  • Add roughly 1 cup of spinach or kale leaves, stuffing down to the bottom of the beaker.
  • Add additional frozen fruit to top (usually between 1/2 and 1 cup, depending).
  • Optional: add 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter. I haven’t been doing this lately, but it does help boost the protein/flavor content.
  • Blend and drink.

Most days, I use 1 cup of almond milk, one banana, some spinach, a few chunks of mango or pineapple, then a small handful of mixed berries. Today, however, was extra special. I started with 1/4 cup of coconut milk (we had some left over after making soup last night), then added 1/4 cup of almond milk and 1/2 cup of water (since full-fat coconut milk is so rich). From there, leftover kale was added, as well as both mango and pineapple. It was both delicious and visually pleasing (see photo).

Banana/applesauce granola

Banana/applesauce granola

Homemade granola, mixed with yogurt, is a wonderful thing. It’s delicious, filling, and so easy to make. However, while many granola recipes are technically healthy, they’re not exactly light, due to the use of oil and sweeteners. I recently saw this recipe that used pureed banana, and saw an opportunity.

I decided to use applesauce as well, for additional moisture and sweetness. This recipe definitely tastes of banana, and (if you like banana), this is a good thing – almost like banana bread in granola form.

Feel free to use any combination of nuts and dried fruit for this! Pecans and dried cherries would be particularly lovely, I think. Also, this was a very wet mixture – 2 bananas might have been a bit too much, but the end result was still quite good.

Banana/applesauce granola

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 bananas, very ripe*
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used apricots)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a medium/large bowl. Set aside. In a separate container, puree the bananas, applesauce, and vanilla extract together until blended and smooth (I used my immersion blender).

Add the banana/applesauce mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine (the mixture will be thick). Spread the mixture into a rimmed baking sheet or casserole pan (preferably spritzed with cooking spray).

Bake the granola in 15 minutes increments, stirring after each, until it reaches the desired toastiness and texture. Stir in the chopped fruit for the last 10 minutes or so of baking.

* If you only have not-very-ripe bananas, you can roast them first and they’ll be perfect. Roast the whole banana(s), peels on and everything, on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, then remove and let cool. The peels will be completely blackened and the bananas will be very soft.

Freezer breakfast burritos (light and healthy)

Freezer breakfast burritos

For me, breakfast has become one of the most important meals, but also one of the most challenging. I need a filling meal that’s also light and healthy, providing enough energy and sustenance to last me until lunch (save for a piece of fruit or something in the interim). And I also need the meal to be relatively quick. My commute is long (almost an hour, door to door), and while I used to wait and eat breakfast once I got to work, I find that I’m much more energetic throughout the day if I eat within an hour of waking up.

This means that I need to eat at home before leaving, but since I have to get up early already, I can’t spare more than a few minutes preparing and eating my breakfast. Making breakfasts ahead of time and reheating leftovers has been my solution for this, with oatmeal being the best option, but that’s grown old at this point. And I need a break from granola and yogurt once and awhile. Conundrum!

Then I saw Shutterbean’s freezer burritos post. Then I did some searching on freezer breakfast burritos and found Skinny Mom’s Kitchen. Inspiration abound, I decided to whip up some freezer breakfast burritos of my own.

These burritos are good. Really good. Super quick to reheat and eat, filling, and tasty. I am a fan. This recipe is infinitely adaptable, since there are a variety of fillings to choose from. Here’s what I went with:

Freezer breakfast burritos
Inspired by Shutterbean and Skinny Mom’s Kitchen
Makes 10 burritos

Ingredients

4 pre-cooked chicken sausages (I used Trader Joe’s garlic/herb chicken sausages), chopped into small pieces
1 package (10 ounces or so) mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
3-4 cups spinach
5 eggs, beaten
5 egg whites, beaten
2 1/2 cups lite shredded cheese (I used a Trader Joe’s lite shredded mix)
1 can refried beans (I used Trader Joe’s fat free refried beans)
10 flour tortillas

Instructions

In a large pan, cook the sausages and mushrooms over medium heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms have browned and released their liquid. Toss in the spinach and saute until just wilted. Pour in the eggs and egg whites and stir continuously until cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste, or any other seasonings as you see fit. Set aside to cool for a few minutes before assembling the burritos.

Lay a piece of foil about the width of one tortilla on a work surface, and place a tortilla on top of it. Spread three tablespoons of refried beans in the middle of the tortilla (roughly a 3 inch wide by 4 inch long rectangle). Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top of the beans, and top with 1/2 cup of the cooled sausage/veggie/egg mixture.

Roll up the burrito to your liking – mine were just sort of rolled and folded together (I wasn’t too concerned about perfecting my wrapping technique; there are plenty of YouTube videos about wrapping burritos if you’re interested). Wrap the burrito in the foil and set aside. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, to make 10 burritos total.

You could probably stick the foil-wrapped burritos in the freezer as is, but for extra protection from freezer burn, you may want to consider storing the individual burritos in plastic freezer bags as well. I was able to fit five burritos in one large freezer bag (two bags in total).

To reheat, remove a frozen burrito from the foil, and loosely wrap in a damp paper towel. Microwave for 3 minutes, or until hot. Enjoy!

Skillet chocolate chip cookie (one bowl)

Skillet chocolate chip cookie

This is the ultimate lazy baking recipe. This is for those nights when you really really want a warm chocolate chip cookie, but really really don’t want to go through the whole song and dance of measuring, creaming butter and sugar, dirtying multiple dishes and carefully spooning out dough mounds onto baking sheets.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a well-crafted, perfectly executed chocolate chip cookie, and most of the time, I don’t mind the extra effort. But tonight, I did mind the extra effort (and I only had half a cup of chocolate chips left over), so this skillet cookie was just what I needed.

Note: I forgot to put salt in the mixture, so I guessed that about 1/4 teaspoon would have worked and added to the below list. Also, this is a pretty sweet cookie, overall, so I may reduce the amount of sugar next time. Lastly, this yields a thin cookie – the recipe could probably be doubled and baked in the same size skillet for thicker results (left in the oven for longer, of course).

Skillet chocolate chip cookie
Adapted from: SparkRecipes

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into a bowl and mix (either by hand or electric mixer) until they all come together. Lightly spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other ovenproof skillet) with cooking spray, and spread the batter into the skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool before slicing and enjoying.

Microwave nectarine pie steel-cut oats

Nectarine pie steel-cut oats

When I don’t make steel-cut oats ahead of time, I still like to have the option of eating them at work for a late breakfast (or sometimes lunch if need be). For this, I take advantage of Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats. They’re not as creamy and awesome as the pure ones cooked on the stove, but they still do the trick.

This past week, I had a bag of big, gorgeous nectarines from the Alemany Farmers Market, and I was out of the frozen berries that I normally stir into my microwaved oats with honey. So, I improvised, and “nectarine pie” steel-cut oats were born.

Microwave nectarine pie steel-cut oats

1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats
3/4 cup hot water
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 large nectarine
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Chop  the nectarine into bite-size pieces. Add the oats and water to a bowl (preferably one with high sides, since the mix will rise up – otherwise you need to babysit it as it cooks and pause to stir if it starts to boil over).  Cook for 3 minutes in the microwave. Stir, then cook for an additional 1.5 minutes.

Stir in the honey, nectarine pieces and cinnamon, and return to the microwave for an additional 1.5 – 2 minutes (depending on how firm/soft you want the nectarine pieces). Stir and let sit for a couple of minutes before eating (don’t burn your tongue!).

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese and amaranth flour

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

I’ve been throwing this idea around in my head for awhile. Ever since I made Kim Boyce’s Muscovado Sugar Cake and caught my first whiff of fragrant amaranth flour.

What would happen if this grassy amaranth flour was paired with earthy leeks, in some sort of buttery bready concoction? Like, say, biscuits? Ooh la la.

I did some research and found a few biscuit recipes that involved wild leeks (a.k.a. ramps), but I couldn’t find any that involved both regular leeks and amaranth flour. I decided to do a combination of this smitten kitchen recipe for prepping the leeks and this recipe for biscuits that utilizes pencil leeks, making appropriate changes and substitutions. I also decided to add some nutty gruyere cheese. Just because.

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

I made the biscuits tonight, to serve with Alton Brown’s curried split pea soup. And they were very, very good (the soup was very good as well). The flavor of the leeks was strong and pronounced, likely enhanced by the amaranth. And as expected, the gruyere came through strongly as well – one day, I would like to make these biscuits again, with either less gruyere or none at all, to see how well the leeks and amaranth perform on their own.

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese and amaranth flour
Adapted from smitten kitchen and Crumbs On My Keyboard

Leeks:
1 cup leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and chopped, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground pepper

Biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup amaranth flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter cut into small cubes
Prepared leeks (above)
1/2 – 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, position a rack in the center of the oven, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized pan, saute the leeks over medium-high heat with a little cooking spray and a pinch of kosher salt until softened (about 5 minutes). Lower the heat to medium-low, stir in the butter, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper and more salt to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a medium/large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a food processor, or your fingers). Gently stir in the cheese and the prepared leeks. Pour in the buttermilk and fold until just combined.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the dough four or five times, adding a bit more flour if the dough sticks. Roll the dough until about 1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. Using anything with a 2-inch-ish circumference (I used an old jar), cut out the biscuit rounds and transfer to the prepared baking sheet (around 12-15 rounds). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Make this soup: Red lentil soup with lemon

I have no photos. I have nothing to give besides words. Sorry.

But you should make this soup. It is so very delicious.

I got it from my copy of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and I mostly tried it because a) I really wanted to make some type of lentil soup, and b) I’ve been dying to use my new immersion blender.

The full recipe, plus more gushing about the greatness of this soup, can be found via both Orangette and Sassy Radish.

My additions/substitutions/notes:

  • I added one leek to the mixture (since I like leeks), and I used coconut oil instead of olive for the sautéing (since I’ve been digging coconut oil recently). I found both additions to be extremely pleasing, especially the coconut oil.
  • I increased the number of garlic cloves by 3 or 4, since garlic is boss.
  • I left out the cilantro because I didn’t have any, but I’m sure it would have been divine.
  • Lastly, the recipe dictates “juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste” – I ended up using the juice from almost the entire lemon.
MAKE THIS SOUP.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie with lattice top

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

Something magical happens when you mix sour cherries with sugar and lemon juice.

Wait, let’s back up. First, we need to talk about sour cherries.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

Apparently, fresh sour (a.k.a. tart) cherries are not easy to come by, at least in the Bay Area. While markets will have piles of fresh, sweet Bings and Rainiers ready for the taking, it is much less likely that the same markets will have fresh sour cherries available. Instead, sour cherries can be found canned, frozen, or dried, and if you’re lucky, at your local farmers market. A friend informed me that she usually gets sour cherries from a farmer selling at the Civic Center market; however, this summer, due to wackier weather, this farmer didn’t have any for the selling.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

I have very little experience making pies (the last time I made an apple pie, I forgot to peel the apples first), so I wasn’t sure how I should proceed. Should I just make the pie with sweet cherries, adding more lemon juice to mimic the traditional tartness? Should I just wait until next summer and try my luck again? My sister (a pie-making guru if there ever was one) made a pie with sweet cherries and said it wasn’t that great, and I didn’t like the idea of waiting until less than a month before my 30th birthday to complete this portion of the 30 before 30 project.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

So where to get sour cherries now? Alemany Farmers Market didn’t have any. We called Rainbow Grocery, and they didn’t have any. Should I look for the canned variety? I wouldn’t even know where to start, and using canned cherries seemed to go against the whole point of this project.

So we turned to Berkeley Bowl, and lo and behold, tart cherries were in stock! The cherries had been shipped in from Washington in 2 pound plastic containers – the exact quantity that I needed.

So, back to the pie.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

This pie was amazing. I mean . . . I’m basically speechless. I’ve never had homemade, classic cherry pie before, and this was truly unreal. The crust is buttery, flaky perfection (despite the fact that I overbaked it). And the filling. Oh, the filling. Sour cherries mix with sugar and lemon juice and some cornstarch (for thickening), and the result is just heavenly. If you can find fresh sour cherries, I can’t recommend this enough.

Cherry-hunting aside, making this pie was fairly easy. It takes a while to pit all the cherries (I highly recommend a cherry pitter), and making/shaping the crust is a precise process, but otherwise it’s not back-breaking or overly complicated. And the finished product is more than worth it. Times ten.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

I used two recipes for this pie: Cooks Illustrated’s pie crust (which uses both butter and shortening for taste and texture, respectively), and Bon Appetit’s sour cherry filling (via Lottie + Doof).

I will dream of this pie every day until I can get sour cherries once again.

INGREDIENTS:

Pie crust
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Sour cherry pie filling
Adapted from Bon Appetit/Lottie + Doof

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Milk (any kind), for brushing on top

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Make the pie crust first, since the dough has to chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and assembling (and you can use the chill time to pit your cherries). For the next few steps, I used a food processor, but they can also be done in a bowl with either a pastry cutter or two knives or just your fingers.

Add the flour, sugar and salt to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix together. Take your butter and shortening out of the fridge and cut into small (1/4 inch or so) pieces. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture in the food processor, and pulse 5 times to incorporate. Repeat the same steps with the shortening. You want the mixture to resemble very coarse cornmeal. Note: I ended up with a mixture that had butter/shortening chunks that were slightly larger than small peas, as opposed to the Cook’s Illustrated instructions – since I didn’t want to overmix, however, I just went with it. The crust turned out wonderfully, regardless.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water into the mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula (add 1 more tablespoon if the dough isn’t coming together). Using your hands, shape the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into 4-inch wide disks (I forgot this step), dust with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling the fridge, remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and place a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Make the filling. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, then gently stir in pitted cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Roll out the smaller disk of dough between two lightly floured pieces of plastic wrap (this is optional; I certainly found it easier to use the plastic rather than roll out directly on the counter) into a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish, and trim the edges to 1/2 inch length (I forgot to do this, and just ended up with some extra crust – no big deal).

Roll out the larger disk of dough between two lightly floured pieces of plastic into a 12-inch round. Using a pizza cutter, knife or pastry wheel (I used a pizza cutter), cut the round into 10 equal long strips (about 3/4 inch wide strips).

Give the filling one last stir, and gently pour into the dough-lined pie dish, mounding slightly in the center, and dot with the butter pieces. Follow these helpful instructions for arranging the strips on top of the filling to form the lattice. Fold the bottom crust over the ends of the strips and seal together all around the pie. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Brush the lattice pieces with a little bit of milk, then sprinkle with sugar (around 1 tablespoon).

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet (because the filling will spill out, and the baking sheets prevents a big stinky smelly mess in your oven). Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, drape foil lightly over the whole pie until the end (I didn’t check mine soon enough and my crust was already a bit too brown, but it still came out great).

Once the pie is finished baking, remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Resist the urge to cut into the pie before it’s finished cooling; as the filling cools, it thickens up into the perfect pie consistency that’s worth waiting for.

30 before 30: Oreos (for the 4th of July!)

Oreos

I’ve always loved Oreos. Either by themselves, or crushed up as a cookies-and-cream type concoction. I prefer to not split them apart and eat the filling first, as many do; I just eat the whole thing at once, and then immediately reach for another.

Oreos

I thought about homemade Oreos all week. I craved them whenever I was hungry, even though I’ve never tasted them before. I thought I knew, but actually, I did not – they were even better than I could predict.

Oreos

The homemade version of the classic Oreo is just as good as the store-bought variety, and even more rich and sweet and satisfying. The filling tastes just like the standard Oreo filling, only creamier; the cookies are just as crisp and satisfying, and made with love.

Oreos

Oreos

The decision to make Oreos as the next item on my 30 before 30 list at this time was somewhat fortuitous: it was the weekend of the 4th of July, so I decided to utilize some food coloring for some red, white and blue action in celebration of the holiday. We also doubled the recipe (for a total of 51 cookies) and brought one batch to Rock Band night and another to the Big Time Freedom Fest. They were well-loved by many.

Oreos

Oreos

This recipe is quite easy. Both the dough and the filling come together in a snap, and are very easy to work with. The only part that’s time-consuming is assembling the cookies once the wafers are baked and cooled and the filling is ready. That’s probably why I hadn’t made these before – because I was intimidated by the time and wondered if the payoff would be worth it.

It is definitely worth it, especially if you have a special event or holiday coming up. The adaptation possibilities are endless: different colors, different flavors for the filling (chocolate, mint, coffee, etc.), maybe even different flavors for the wafers!

Oreos

Oreos
Adapted from smitten kitchen

Chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set two racks in the middle of the oven. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric/stand mixer. While mixing on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Mix until everything comes together, stopping the mixer to scrape down the bowl if necessary.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon rounded teaspoons of the batter onto the sheets about two inches apart. Using moistened hands, lightly flatten the balls of dough.

Bake the cookies for 9 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. After 9 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and immediately remove the cookies from the pans to a counter or cooling rack. The cookies should cool down and crisp up fairly quickly. Continue with any remainder of the dough.

To make the cream filling, beat the butter and shortening at low speed and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. Once incorporated, turn the mixture to high and beat for 2-3 minutes until it’s light and fluffy.

Now it’s time to assemble the Oreos. As smitten kitchen dictates, I used pastry bags to pipe the filling onto half of the cookies – however, if you don’t want to buy/use pastry bags, I imagine using a spoon would work just as well. Sandwich the other half of the cookies onto the iced ones, matching up by size as best as possible, gently pressing down to create the sandwiches.

If you want to work with different-colored icing, decide how many colors you’d like to use and divide up the filling accordingly. For each color, beat one portion of the filling with a few drops of food coloring until incorporated, adding more drops as needed.

30 before 30: Chana masala + naan

Chana masala

I made this at the end of a very busy Sunday – Jeffrey and I went shopping for a whole new bed setup, which resulted in us driving all around and picking up and assembling the various components from the late morning until the late evening. It was entirely worth it, however. Our new bed is divine. And HUGE. My goodness.

But here’s the downside: I’m a little disappointed that this is the first official post for my 30 before 30 project. I was sort of hoping to emerge powerfully from the gates, kitchen tools blazing, with a perfectly tasty and satisfying dish to triumphantly cross off the list.

But here’s the honest truth: while this chana masala was ultimately good, it was way, waaaaay too spicy. As in, we couldn’t finish our servings because our mouths were on fire – and this is after stirring in some plain yogurt and taking timid bites along with generous portions of naan.

Naan

And then there’s the naan. The naan was very good. However (and I expected this to happen), it was quite different from the true restaurant style – mostly because I didn’t have a Tandoori oven at my disposal. Additionally, the dough was very sticky – it proved difficult to pull and stretch the dough pieces into the ideal shape/thinness. But fresh from the oven, these were pretty great.

It’s worth noting that I used a recipe that bakes the naan in the oven. However, there are other recipes that involve cooking the naan on the stove, which may help in mimicking traditional naan.

Naan

Oh chana masala. Why so spicy? Most likely, I wasn’t precise enough in my measurements of the hot chili pepper or the various spices, and used too much as a result. Lesson learned.

Chana masala

I have some leftovers that are too spicy to eat, sadly. My plan is to make a batch of plain lentils and then mix in the chana masala for flavor. We shall see.

So, while this wasn’t a huge success, I learned quite a bit, and for that I am thankful.

Chana masala

Chana masala + naan

Here are the recipes!

Chana Masala
Adapted from smitten kitchen

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 hot green chili pepper, minced (I used a pepper from my frozen stash)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon (juiced)

Measure all the spices (coriander through garam masala) into a small bowl and mix together (this is an optional step, but will save you time and stress later).

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté until browned/soft (about 5 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the spices mix, cooking for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any extra tomato juice. Stir in the water and chickpeas, then simmer uncovered for 10-20 minutes (until thickened). Stir in the lemon juice and salt.

If you’re not serving right away (i.e. if your naan dough has finished rising and is ready to bake), you can remove the skillet from the heat and cover until ready to eat.

Naan
Adapted from Mark Bittman

2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine yeast, milk, yogurt, and sugar in small bowl and set aside. Add the flour, egg, and salt to a large bowl, and mix on low with an electric mixer until just combined (I used my stand mixer). Pour in yeast mixture and mix briefly (about 30 seconds), and add 1.5 cups of water a bit at a time until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky. Mine, unfortunately, was still too sticky at this point, so I had to add about 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough was usable.

Lightly flour a work surface and briefly knead the dough to form a smooth, round ball. Lightly oil a bowl with a neutral oil, put the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours). My “warm place” is our oven, turned off, since the pilot light keeps the oven warm at all times.

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place a baking sheet (or a baking stone if you have one – I don’t) on a rack positioned on lowest shelf of the oven.

Punch the dough down on the floured work surface – feel free to use more flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (Mark Bittman suggests rolling the dough into a “snake,” then tearing the snake into 12 pieces). Let the pieces rest for 10 minutes, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel.

Depending on how many pieces will fit on your baking sheet, stretch out the pieces individually into a teardrop-shaped oval, 6-8 inches long, 3-4 inches wide. Do this as best you can, but don’t go too crazy if the dough doesn’t stretch and keep its shape perfectly.

Take the baking sheet out of the oven and place the stretched pieces on to the sheet. Put the sheet back in the oven on the lowest rack and bake for 3 minutes. Flip the pieces over and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes. The finished naan will be nice and puffed, mottled and brown. Brush the hot pieces with the melted butter and serve.

I waited until after we ate to bake the remaining pieces of naan dough. If I were to make these again, I would likely halve the recipe – this made 12 pieces of naan, and the leftovers don’t keep especially well (although they’re decent when microwaved or lightly toasted).