Sunday, November 30, 2008

Goodbye Takeout!

OK, so I've been walking around the house, saying things like, "I'm the best!" and "I rock!" and "I should open an Indian restaurant!" for the last hour. Why? Because I made the second best Paneer Tikka Masala on earth! The number one honors belongs to Bombay in Hillcrest (Monsoon in the Gaslamp - same owners/menu, different locale). OK, so maybe an Indian restaurant has a tandoori oven so they don't have to use frozen naan. Details, details.

However, I have to say that this one was amazing and I did it with ingredients from my regular market. OK, so maybe this market is a natural foods market in an Indian section of town, but still, I didn't have to go to a special market.



But I want you to enjoy it as much as me, so I'm going to give you the recipe! This recipe comes from the Chicago Tribune and it is originally intended for chicken, so obviously chicken thighs or breasts or both can be substituted. Also, lamb can be used. If you're making chicken, reduce marinating time to 1 hr.

Paneer Tikka Masala

3/4 pound paneer cheese, cut into 1 x 1/2 inch cubes (local source: Windmill Farms)


1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (local source: Trader Joe's or Windmill Farms)
2 T lemon juice
2 t ground cumin
1-2 t cayenne pepper (I used one teaspoon to get a medium-spiced dish)
2 t black pepper
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1 one-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

1 T ghee (clarified butter) (local source: Windmill Farms)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 t sweet paprika
1 t garam masala (local source: Windmill Farms)
1/2 t salt
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
1/2 onion (chopped into 1-inch squares)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup basmati rice, uncooked
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 t salt
1 pkg frozen garlic naan (source: Trader Joe's)

Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add paneer and marinate as long as possible up to overnight (I marinated it for 5 1/2 hours). Put paneer on a greased cookie sheet covered with foil or parchment paper and broil, on high, for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, bring 1 3/4 cups water, 1/2 t salt, and 1 cup rinsed basmati rice to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwile, melt ghee in a saucepan. Add garlic and jalapeno and saute for 2 minutes. Add spices and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. Add paneer, onion and peas. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add cilantro and remove from heat.

Reheat naan according according to package instructions. Serve paneer with rice and naan.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Leftover Pie Crust?

My task for Thanksgiving was to bake two pies: one apple, one pumpkin. I made two pie crust recipes, but ended up with 1/2 of a pie crust recipe leftover. Not enough for a double crusted pie, but I really wanted to use it because the crust was really good. But, what to do? A quiche? Maybe. A sweet potato pie? Sounds good, but I really didn't want more sweet pie. I wanted a savory pie. So, I decided to make a meat pie. I searched around on the Google for inspiration and adapted a recipe from here.

Here's the filling:


I used individual pie plates because I didn't have enough crust for a full pie. If you have these, it makes for really convenient personal sized servings. I shredded cheddar cheese and put it in the bottom of each pie:


Then I added the filling and put the top crust on:


I was so anxious to eat this pie that I cut into it before I realized I'd forgotten to get a photo. So I don't have an FO photo so to speak. If you're interested in making this, I'll provide a recipe that assumed you have enough pie crust for a double crusted pie. The opportunities for variation are endless. It can be made vegetarian, or you can use leftover turkey with sweet potatoes, you can use lamb and change the seasonings to have a greek or indian flair, you can give it a Mexican flavor, too.

Proper English Meat Pies (serves 4)


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 t salt
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, frozen, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 T ice water
2 t apple cider vinegar


2 T canola oil, separated
2 T butter, separated
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup beer (if you don't have beer, use all beef broth)
salt and pepper to taste
4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Make crust:

Blend flour and salt in processor. Add shortening and butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to bowl. Mix 6 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl; pour over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into 2 balls; flatten each into disk. Wrap each in plastic and chill 30 minutes. After chilling, divide into 8 separate discs if making individual pies.

Roll out lower crust(s) and place in pie plate(s). Put in refrigerator and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef in 1T each oil and butter. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Add the other 1 T oil and butter to pan and saute onions, carrots, and potatoes until just tender. Return beef to pan and add italian seasoning, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Add flour and cook another 1 minute. Add beef broth and beer. Cook until sauce is thickened into a gravy consistency. Add parsley. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese into each pie plate. Spoon filling on top. Roll out top crust(s) and place on top of filling in pie plate. Cut a 2 slits in top of pie to vent.

Cook pie at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and cook for an additional 25 minutes for individual pies and 45 minutes for full pie. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wooly Goodness

Can you believe that I haven't finished sewing my mother-in-law's gift yet? I promised it last week, but since then, I haven't used my machine at all. I have a renewed knitting mojo, which I'll discuss in some other post some other time, but for now, it's all about sewing. I've got a 6-day weekend coming up and I plan to be up to my ears in thread. Oh, there is one important bit of knitting news. This is really only important to the locals. Last Saturday, I went to Knitting in La Jolla and she was having an anniversary sale. Yarns are between 10 and 50% off. Manos and Silky Wool are 50% off, a couple of Rowan yarns (All Seasons Cotton, for one) are 40% off, Kidsilk Haze is 30% off, etc. She had a TON of Manos in lots of colors - mostly solids. I plan on going back tomorrow to get more Manos. The sale is going on for another week and a half.

Anyway, on to the sewing. I've decided to draft my own skirt pattern. I have a book that tells you how to do it based on your personal measurements, and I feel that I have enough sewing experience that I can add features to make the skirt fit me well. If the pattern turns out well, I'll use it over and over. I've decided to one-up myself and sew my first wool skirt. Winter (in a manner of speaking) has arrived, if by winter you mean temperatures below 70 degrees and a few sprinkles. I have some wool fabric that I purchased in Boston, but I just wanted new fabric. You know how that goes? So, I took a ride up to Yardage Town in Escondido (for the locals, again). I've been to several of the Yardage Town locations and most of them, pardon my French, suck. I even have one in my little neighborhood and, it's OK in a pinch, but sucks. So, imagine my surprise when the location in Escondido turned out to be a real treasure trove. They had 3 racks of wool fabric, another of just suiting wool fabric, multiple racks of silk (dupioni and charmeuse), cute corduroy and denim fabric, knits and a lot of cotton, both stretch and regular. They also had gauzy cotton for breezy summer tops. The entire downstairs is remnants, and I found a couple of great pieces there. They had a lot of patterns, notions, etc. too. It was a real shocker. Go figure. Anyway, on to the fabric:


This is going to be my skirt and lining. Isn't that wool fabulous? Can't you just see it paired with a burgundy or pumpkin colored top and knee high boots? The lining is polyester, which is kind of yuck, but it's not as plasticky as other polyester linings. Trust me, I was very tempted by the silk charmeuse for a lining. I also found these on the remnant tables:


The flash is obscuring things, but the one on the left is deep charcoal gray suiting fabric and the one on the right is kind of a taupy brown with blue lines running through it. They were $3 a yard - both wool!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The PJ's

It's late, and I'm a little tired, so I'm going to be pretty brief. However, I wanted to show you the second item I sewed this weekend. I had dreams of pressing them out and giving them a real photo shoot, but instead, you see them hanging in the bathroom in bad lighting:


These are the first pair of flannel PJ's I have ever made. I took advantage of a $3/yard sale at Joann's and purchased this adorable ladybug flannel fabric.

Here's a closeup of the print:


The pattern that I used, Simplicity 2821 (Simplicity patterns were $1 each at Joann's this weekend!), is a unisex pattern that has a band around the bottom of the leg. I really liked this feature, and it is the reason that I chose this pattern. However, when I measured the pattern pieces and compared them to pants I have at home, I realized that they were more proportioned for a man. I ended up taking two inches out in length between the waist and crotch area and leaving off the band entirely. This turned out to be OK because I ran out of fabric and couldn't make the band anyway! To finish the bottom, I added piping in red to bring out the contrast color:


In the end, the changes I made really helped to make the pants fit me really well. I love the piping, too. I'm not at all disappointed about not having the band on there. Now, if only it was cold enough to actually wear them! Honestly, winter, or heck, even fall, will come eventually, right?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sewing Weekend

I'm just finishing a three-day weekend that I filled almost entirely with sewing and shopping for fabric. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? My hubby is out of town on a business trip, so I took advantage of an empty house to lug in a bunch of fabric and patterns from the garage and set up my sewing machine. My goals were a little too ambitious, but I still got a lot done. In the end, I completely finished two projects and almost completed one more. I'm going to roll them out slowly so that I actually have something to blog about. It appears that my next knitting FO may not happen for a while.

To get my feet wet, I decided to finish a project that I cut out several months ago. I tried to find out exactly when by looking back through my posts, but I couldn't find anything. I may have started it as long ago as a year! Anyway, I figured since it was already cut, it would work up quickly. Basically, that's true.


This is the Frenchy Bag by Amy Butler, in the shoulder bag size. I really like the way it turned out! I think I'll use it as a knitting bag, since I can't picture myself walking around town with a cat-themed purse. The best part?


The lining! It coordinates with the cat fabric, although the colors in the photos are so bad that it may be hard to tell.


Somebody got nosy.

Sometime later this week, I'll blog about my second finished project. I'll probably have the third one done tomorrow night, and it's the cutest one of all!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

First Tuesday in November

Here in the US that means that it is election day! I made sure to vote very first thing in the morning. It took me about 3x as long to vote this year as it usually does. I am not complaining (it only took 15 minutes), I think that this is a sign that voter turnout is going to be better than predicted. There were only 2 contested races on my ballot (plus 3 initiatives) and 3 uncontested/unopposed races, so if turnout is this high in my little section of Boston, I can only imagine what it is like elsewhere.
Because I am feeling cheerful and optimistic, I am sharing a rainbow that I saw last Tuesday. I had a rough couple days (I was very angry with my partner) then I saw this on my way into the city.

Oh, E, the "face" is the reflection of a P on a parking pass that is on the ledge beneath my windshield.

Now, for real knitting content:

A non-surprise gift. It was selected, and requested, by the recipient, a fellow knitter. Not showing the pattern here, just giving a taste of what my home knitting has been. There is ALOT of this.