How bazaar

Party on a plate
My dad visited this week to see his new grandson (my handsome nephew!) and be with us on Father’s Day. He brought me gifts from his recent trip to Turkey and several other countries. One of those gifts was a small bag with a tiny jar inside. I immediately knew what it was: saffron! It’s no secret among my family that I've wanted to experiment with this spice. My mom gave me some saffron for my birthday, but I hadn't used it yet. Cut to me making an Indian inspired meal for Father’s Day using the saffron that just a week before was in the bustling Istanbul Grand Bazaar.

I started the meal with an endive appetizer because they looked so good at the store. I filled the endive leaves with lobster and crab salad and garnished each one with a pinch of paprika. To counteract my hot apartment, I served freshly brewed iced Chai tea. My dad had a gin and tonic, which I thought was fitting since I developed my love for Indian cuisine while living abroad in England.

Lobster and crab stuffed endive
The next course was chicken satay with peanut sauce. I now want to invest in a cast iron grill for my stove since I had to partially overcook the chicken in order to cook them all the way through (the bamboo skewers don’t fit well in a pan!)

The main entrée was tikka masala. I seasoned the diced chicken with curry, garam masala, salt and pepper. The vegetables included purple and regular sweet potatoes fresh from NC (thanks, dad!), carrots, onions, red bell peppers (If my mother wasn't sensitive to hot food, I would have used chilies), broccoli, fresh ginger and tomatoes. Once everything was mostly cooked, I simmered everything together in the tikka sauce with half a cup of coconut milk. Cucumber from NC (notched using a lemon zester) was used as a garnish.
Chicken Satay

I followed this recipe to use my saffron. I was very pleased with the results. The only thing I changed was putting the rice in a bowl to keep warm and firm instead of fluffing it with a fork (I’m partial to neither). The saffron created wonderful aromatics and went well with the jasmine and onion flavors.

To cool hot mouths during the meal, I made a cabbage and radish salad. The organic radishes were also fresh from NC and looked beautiful. There’s an Indian recipe for this salad that uses a citrus dressing. The dressing consisted simply of fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice, mustard (I used my grandmother’s homemade mustard), honey and a pinch of salt. I microwaved the dressed a few seconds to help emulsify the ingredients. 

Other things that helped put out the fire included toasted naan bread and mango lassi, which I made using Greek yogurt with honey, fresh mangoes, and almond milk. 

For dessert I served donuts and ice cream. The donuts were apple cider donuts from the Wooster Sq. farmer's market and the ice cream was Talenti's coffee flavor, my new favorite gelato.

Tikka Masala
Saffron rice

Her name was Granola, she was a show girl

 My homemade granola bars: in pictures.

Eyeball the measurements. Make the granola bars your own.

I added Honey Bunches of Oats cereal to the mix

Drizzling some agave on my melted mixture

Line a Pyrex pan with buttered parchment for best results

Half-hearted Whole Food

My sister: slicing the pizza
 I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods. It’s overpriced and pretentious, but gosh darn it if they don’t have the prettiest food. Time was short when preparing for my grandmother’s birthday. So my and sister and I headed to Whole Foods (3 short blocks from Grandma’s house!) and had some fun.

I first put in our pizza order because they use a real food fired oven, so it takes a while to make it fresh. I got their whole wheat dough pizza topped with mozzarella, lemon, garlic, and artichokes. It was FANTASTIC.

Their desserts are hit and miss. The cakes are surprisingly cheap and beautiful, but one little measly macaroon is $2.00. I ended up getting a tiramisu cake and declined their offer to write “Happy Birthday” on it since there was already a design on it. This was also a big hit at the birthday dinner. My grandmother kept saying “Now, this- This is something special!”

I got a side of lemon garlic cooked broccoli rabe, but it left much to be desired. So we used some mustard greens I picked up to make a spicy salad.

Tiramisu (NC honey in the background)
These are the things I think are worth the splurge at Whole Foods: making fresh almond or peanut butter with that nut butter pooping machine; any of their produce; a couple of individual bottles of local beer; their pizza (sorry, New Haven); the hot bar for a healthy, yummy lunch; Brown Cow cream top yogurt (just trust me.)

Folks waiting for meat
Things I avoid at Whole Foods (and you should, too): Seafood (I’ve always been disappointed); anything from the middle aisles unless it’s for a gift and it’s too late to shop on Amazon; deli and cheese (there are great local places that I’d rather support for the same products); handmade soaps (these are displayed everywhere, but are so overpriced. Buy them at your local farmer’s market.)

Palatable pumpkin protein pancake


With fall here and a chill in the air, I thought I needed to switch my usual protein shake to something that would give me the warm and fuzzies. Enter the protein pancake! I’d seen variations of protein pancakes made on Twitter, but my pancakes always fell flat (Get it? Flat?). So I trusted my gut and came up with my own recipe because I’m a home cook and they are fitness instructors and who wants a pancake recipe from a gym rat?

So here’s what I came up with:

Put in a blender:
1 cup almond milk
3 egg whites
1 whole egg
½ cup pumpkin purée (plain, canned)
1 scoop protein powder (optional)
½ cup white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda


It’ll keep a few days in the fridge. Pour on a hot pan in the morning for a quick pancake that’ll fill you until lunch. Top with your favorite fruit and maple syrup.

Be still, my tart

Note to self: assemble before drinking
I used my sister and brother-in-law as guinea pigs last Friday night. I made a dessert that could have either been really great or terrible. The strawberry basil tart video on the PBS website is a wonder in itself, but I just had to make it.

I created my own version of it. I needed time to cook a 3-course Chinese themed meal, so I took some short-cuts on the pastry. I used store-bought pastry dough, thus skipping the part when I'd put basil in the dough (but also, that didn't sound too tasty.) Using my sister's fresh chicken eggs gave the custard a nice richness. I infused my milk with basil and strained it. Then very carefully whisked my ingredients, but STILL had a slightly broken custard. It wasn't noticeable in the tart, but alone, I felt defeated.

This tart, I think, was a success. However, I think only the flavor really was successful. I didn't spend the time I wanted to on the presentation (and I was three glasses deep into a bottle of Champagne.) I'd make it again, but use a homemade almond infused dough and egg beaters to mix the custard to create a smoother consistency.

What the cluck?

Different shades of brown indicate different chickens
Feeding them leftover salad!
A lot has happened recently so I've been away from my blog. I've started a new career and I’m currently moving into a new apartment, but that hasn't stopped me from making tasty meals and sweet desserts. To see what I've been up to, check out my Twitter Danielle_Cooks.

Since I've been staying with my sister, I wanted to share photos of her chickens and their eggs. Her chickens are all different colors with different personalities- and they lay different eggs! Molly can always tell what chicken laid which egg. Although I can’t tell a difference in taste, she insists the white chicken, Fro, lays the best tasting egg. They are all good in my opinion because they are the perfect size for accurate baking and they have a rich orangey-yellow yolk that improves any dish!
Now THAT'S a yolk! Salmon & eggs with dill mustard.

I've used her eggs in everything from simple fried eggs to cinnamon toast crunch cookies. Molly wants to make a cake with them so I suggested pound cake because it takes lots of eggs. They produce so many eggs that it’s hard to keep up!

The (Cal)Zone Diet

Mini Calzones
Exploring a new kitchen supply store always leads to buying something experimental. For me, it was a pastry press from the new Chef’s store in Orange, CT. It’s great for fruit tarts, large ravioli or mini calzones.

I thought I’d continue with my Italian theme and make calzones. Once again this was a fun collaboration with Tom and our friend Noah. We thought we’d try pizza dough from our favorite place for late night pizza, BAR New Haven. Their dough was so much easier to work with than the stuff from the grocery store. I don’t think we can ever go back! (Goodbye whole wheat dough!)

I cooked up a bunch of different fillings and displayed them in bowls so it was like a “make your own calzone” bar. We had lots of wine to taste leftover from a tasting earlier that day at Caseus. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!
Wine sampling

Here are tips when making mini calzones in a press:
  • Instead of grated cheese, use ricotta mixed with grated cheese and an egg to prevent it oozing out
  • Try to keep the filling tightly together before pressing since it will shrink in the oven
  • Lightly flour the press (exclude the edges) so it doesn’t stick
  • Don’t press too hard or you’ll squish the dough instead of sealing it
  • Brush the calzones with an egg wash before baking for a nice crust