Friday, April 10, 2009

TFF - Back With Blueberry Blintzes, Baby!

I'm writing on a deadline here. Must make it to this week's Tyler Florence Fridays round-up! Ok, it's a self-imposed deadline really, because what's the worst that can happen - it'll just get featured next week, no harm done. But, giving myself a deadline tricks my brain into working overtime, and it gives me an adrenaline rush!

Here's an interesting (if completely off-topic ... but what's new there?!) tidbit for you. I take it that most of you have been keeping abreast of the Pirates vs. The World drama going on, off the Horn of Africa? Well, I used to work for that shipping company, Maersk, whose vessel our brave captain was manning when he was taken hostage. As a matter of fact, I joined the company right after graduating from university. And they were good to me! No ex-boss bashing here (sorry)! I left a few years ago because of personal circumstances, so there's no bad blood. I was even fortunate enough to spend a week on one those giant cargo vessels (scrubbing the deck yarrrrrrrrr ... no, I'm kidding! It was more like hanging out with the crew and watching Titanic in the common room). That experience was one of the highlights of my life (no, not movie watching with the crew .. being on the ship .. not that I didn't enjoy chillin' with the boys ... oh ferget it!). What I do know is that they really prize their ship captains and crew. So my feeling is that the top guns in the company are probably pulling all the strings to rescue the captain of the Maersk Alabama. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and sending out positive thoughts for him and his family.

Okay! Phew! Glad I got that off my chest. Back to Tyler's Blueberry Blintzes. Two words for all you Tyler fans out there - MAKE IT! I was going through a dry patch with Tyler. Everything was rosy, with one recipe after another being a complete success. I started to think that Tyler would always pull through for me. Then I tried his Chicken Francese ... and we had our first falling out. I know I know, every relationship is different - some of you have been very happy with Tyler's Chicken Francese. But for some reason, which I haven't yet figured out, it just didn't work for me. There were some harsh words exchanged, and feelings were hurt. But (and here's the good news), like most successful long-term relationships, Tyler and I have moved past that event and we're back on track! Don't you just love happy endings?

Blueberry Blintzes (original Tyler recipe on Food Network's website)
Serves 5

Ingredients for Crepe Batter:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cold water
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for sauteing the crepes
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Ingredients for Cheese Filling:
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 lemon, zested and finely grated
1 egg

Ingredients for Blueberry Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 pints blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 lemon, juiced

For the crepes: Combine the milk, water, eggs, flour, salt and sugar in a blender. Blend on medium speed for 15 seconds, until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Scrape down the sides of the blender and pour in 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Blend it again for a second just to incorporate. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour to let it rest. If the crepes are made immediately, they have a tendency to be rubbery; when you let the batter rest, the crepes have a better texture and a softer bite.

For the cheese filling: In a food processor, combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and egg and blend until smooth. Chill the filling to firm it up a bit so it doesn't squirt out of the blintzes.
For the blueberry sauce: Combine the butter, blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring up to a low boil and stir gently until the berries break down and release their natural juices. The consistency should remain a bit chunky. It will thicken up when it cools down slightly.
Making the crepes: Put an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter for added assurance. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl it around so it covers the bottom evenly. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until the crepe batter sets; then flip it and cook another 30 seconds. The crepes should be pliable, not crisp, and lightly brown. Slide them onto a platter and continue making the crepes until all the batter is used. Cover the stack of crepes with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. This makes 10 crepes.
Assembly: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese filling along the lower third of the crepe. Fold the bottom edge away from you to just cover the filling; then fold the 2 sides in to the center. Roll the crepe away from you a couple of times to make a package, ending with the seam side down.
Ewwww, I hate chipped polish! But that's what I live with, people.
Put an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Pan-fry the blintzes for 1 min per side until crisp and golden.
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes so the egg in the filling cooks slightly and the cheese sets. Using a spatula, transfer the blintzes to serving plates. Spoon the blueberry sauce on top, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve right away.

Verdict: Blintzes are great for breakfasts and brunches. What you can do, to cut down on all the prep time, is make the cheese filling and blueberry sauce the night before. Make the batter in the morning, then go do something else for an hour while it rests (take a shower, get out of those comfy-ugly pajamas, watch an early morning talk show, or just get a few more precious moments of sleep). If you have someone to help, one of you can make the crepes, while the other starts assembling them into neat little packages - goes much faster. The recipe is wonderful, and I didn't find any faults with it. It's just that there are a lot of steps. But Tyler's girls aren't intimidated by something like that, are we?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kitty Worries And Another WHB Entry

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you could sleep for a week? Or how about if you could have a masseuse to expertly work the kinks out of your neck and back? Of course, ideally they'd be doing it for free, and there would be no time limit (that ticking clock takes half the fun out of massages - just as you're finally beginning to relax, they're over!). I'm having one of those days, where I can't seem to stop yawning.

And it's mainly because of Ozzy. I'm having kitty worries at home. Nothing too major, but still. He's got a bit of an upset tummy, and has been throwing up for the last 4-5 days, which becomes evident every morning to us. Yup, nice little puddles just waiting for me to accidently step on as I stumble, bleary-eyed out of bed. Yes I know ... "blech". But moms will understand when I say this; your first instinct isn't usually "ewwwww disgusting" ... it's more like "oh noooo, are you okay baby?". And if any of you think it's weird that I'm very maternal with my cat, erm, welcome to my blog! 'Tis how it is! So anyway, the funny thing about cats is that throwing up occasionally is pretty normal, and cats usually recover immediately. But this time it's more prolonged than I'd like, so I've been worried. The good news is that the little guy seems perfectly normal today. I also spoke to his vet and we have a decent plan of action. So here's to hoping that the next few days see Ozzykins back to his regular, bratty self!

When you have vet visits thrown into the already hectic mix of grocery shopping, library, working out, office assignments (ugh), paying bills (quadruple ugh) ... it doesn't leave you with a lot of time to get gourmet in the kitchen. That's when you really appreciate the simple, mid-week recipes that you've relied on time and again - something that you can throw together without thinking about it too much, but can still pack a real flavor punch. Because of all the fresh herbs I use to freshen up this Chicken Qorma, I'm submitting it to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging round-up, hosted by Chriesi at Almond Corner - you should see the magic she's worked on some fresh arugula for her own submission to this event!

Chicken Qorma Lite (mainly following Fauzia's delicious recipe)
Serves 4+


1.5 lbs chicken, skinless and cut into pieces
2 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2-3 small green chillies, chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped plus more for garnish
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped plus more for garnish
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp ginger paste
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup plain yogurt, whipped
1.5 cups water


1. Marinate the chicken with the salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder, ginger and garlic for half an hour.
2. Heat the oil on medium-high and saute the onions till golden.

3. Then add in the marinated chicken pieces, plus red chilli powder, and stir-fry for about 5 mins.

4. To this, add in the green chillies, yogurt and sprinkle on the shredded coconut and stir about for another 1-2 mins.

5. Pour in the water and throw in the mint leaves and cilantro. Bring the whole mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium, cover and let it simmer for 15 mins.

6. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and keep them aside. Turn the heat off. Use your immersion blender to whiz the sauce till smooth (well, almost).
7. Add the chicken back to the sauce, turn the heat back on high and reduce the sauce till it gets to the consistency you like - another 5 mins or so (I like it saucy, because I'm that kind of gal). Garnish with more mint and cilantro and serve with white rice or hot rotis.

Verdict: This recipe is actually much lighter than the Chicken Qorma you've had in desi restaurants or at parties. And the significant amount of mint and cilantro that's added in during the cooking process (rather than just as a garnish) really freshens up the flavor and adds to the aroma. You'll also like the hint of coconut in there. When I first started making this, I wouldn't blend the sauce, but that left the texture a bit gritty because of the shredded coconut. Once I blended it though, that problem was eliminated and the whole sauce just had a more cohesive flavor. Overall, a very reliable and simple recipe.