Cooks Corner

Food Network star’s recipes for Indian food are easy to follow

Food Network fans will know Aarti Sequeira, who won The Next Food Network Star and went on to host Aarti Paarti for two years, and has made appearances on Chopped and Iron Chef America.

For those who find Indian cooking intimidating, she has found a way to remove the fear factor by creating dishes that use readily available ingredients with Indian flair. In “Aarti Paarti,” her first cookbook, released this month, she has come up with a grand fusion of recipes that combines traditions and flavors of her childhood in India with American sensibilities.

So you get a simple-to-make Tikka Masala along with Bombay Sloppy Joes, Masala Shrimp and Grits and even Falooda with Pop Rocks.

I love the quick kale salad here because it teaches you that massaging the kale leaves with the dressing makes eating the kale a lot less like chewing cud, and the combination of the sweetness of the mangoes, the earthiness of the kale and the crunch of the pepitas is so amazing.

Aarti suggests using black or dinosaur or lacinato kale, but any kale will do. Just don’t skip the massaging — as she puts it, “this small step takes some of the chewiness out of the kale so that your cheeks don’t ache after eating half of it.”

Reader Question: Brownies

Q. My ex-husband and I lived in Miami in 1987-’88, and there was a brownie recipe in the Miami Herald that had brown sugar in the recipe and Toll House morsels melted on top. These were our favorite brownies. In the haste of moving away, I forgot my favorite recipes binder, and this recipe was in there.

Is there any way you might be able to research that recipe for me? It would be such a joy to pass it on to my daughter, who was born the day after I first made those brownies.

Lori Yankoski

A. The recipe actually was the grand-prize winner of a brownie recipe contest we ran in September 1987, and was created by Brenda Halvorsen, who described her concoction as “very rich and chewy, with a slight taste of a chocolate-chip cookie.” Our 40-member judging panel chose it from 378 entries, calling it “very, very chocolate and very, very rich and very, very delicious.”

Reader Question: Marinade

Q. Years ago you had a recipe for a recipe called Oriental Marinade. I kept it for years but now I lost it and can’t find it anywhere. I know it contained soy sauce and sherry and ginger but I don’t know how much. I loved the recipe. I was wondering if you have an archive of all your recipes. I loved it on skirt steaks.

Phil Baiamonte

A. Now we’d be more polite and call it Asian Marinade, but in the early 1980s our sensibilities were not as attuned. Unlike American grilling, where much of the emphasis is on the meat and the basting, Asian barbecue depends on balanced marinades to give meats a distinctive flavor. This marinade is perfect for flank steak, chicken or pork strips.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q. Is there anyone who has the recipe for the cornbread muffins they had at Kelly’s Seafood on Kendall Drive back in the 1980s? I loved those little muffins they had at the table. I have never had cornbread that good anywhere else.

Bill Rotolante

Feedback

Q. You had a recent recipe in our paper for To Die for Pecan Bars that called for a package of refrigerated snickerdoodle cookie dough (the flat sheet, not a roll). I cannot find this flavor anywhere. Do you think it might be a seasonal item?

Carol

A. I found the dough easily at my supermarket, and you can find the Great Value store brand at many Walmart locations (check to see if your local store carries it: walmart.com). But it may be simpler to just buy sugar cookie dough and sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top.

Q. I loved the recipe for Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan you published in your column. I would like to try it but my husband does not like goat cheese. Can you suggest another cheese that would do as well? Thanks again for all the good work you do, keep the recipes coming! I look forward to them every week!

Dolores

A. I would substitute any soft, spreadable cheese, such as fresh mozzarella, Boursin or even cream cheese.

Q. Your recipe for Chicken Salisbury notes add mushrooms to the skillet in the instructions but mushrooms are not listed in the ingredients. What type of mushroom, and how much?

Yolanda

A. My apologies. In typing the recipe from my testing notes I dropped a line. The recipe should have called for 1 (8-ounce) package of mushrooms, sliced. Button mushrooms are fine, though of course you could get more exotic with diced portobellos or whatever fungi appeals.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Side dish

Massaged Kale Salad with Mango and Pepitas

Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons honey

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced

Kosher salt

1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)

Small handful pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels, about 2 rounded tablespoons), toasted

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the oil while whisking until a dressing forms and you like how it tastes. Place the kale in a large bowl and add half of the dressing and a pinch of salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, toss the mango with the remaining dressing, and add to the kale. Sprinkle with the pepitas and any of the dressing remaining in the bowl from the mangoes, if you like. Toss again and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Source: “Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul” (Grand Central Publishing).

Dessert

Super-Rich Brownies

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking squares

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over boiling water. Set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, white and brown sugars and vanilla, until sugar grains have dissolved. Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend. Slowly add the flour and salt, a little at a time, to the chocolate mixture. Mix well. Add 1 cup nuts and mix. Pour into a greased 9-inch square pan and bake 40 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees (depending upon how chewy you prefer your brownie).

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour the semi-sweet morsels over the hot brownies. With a butter knife, gently spread the melting morsels over the top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of nuts. Let brownies cool at least 3 hours before cutting into squares. Makes 16.

Source: Linda Cicero from Cook’s Corner archives.

Condiment

Asian Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup water or chicken broth

Combine ingredients in blender or food processor and place in non-reactive container to marinate beef, chicken or pork before grilling or broiling. Marinate protein at least 30 minutes in refrigerator and up to overnight. Makes enough to marinate 2 pounds.

Source: Linda Cicero from Cook’s Corner archives.

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