Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Strawberry Crumble

strawberry crumble

It’s not quite strawberry season yet, at least not around these parts, but there are times when I find myself food shopping and I can’t help but stare at the joyous, organic, red berries that constantly summon my attention with several winks and a price tag that reads “On SALE!” Sales are my weakness. And so are gorgeous-looking strawberries.

Strawberries are possibly one of my most favorite fruit. Although they are available practically all-year-long in supermarkets and grocery stores across the country, when they’re not in season–usually–they’re practically good for nothing. They’re sometimes vile- both crunchy and sour, and lack in any strawberry flavor. Some will disagree about my last statement but I did say usually; there are a handful of companies that do have great tasting organic strawberries year-round.

strawberry crumble

When I do find myself picking up a package or two of these glorious red berries that are lacking in the taste department, I most-often find myself baking them. During strawberry season, rarely am I every interested in baking the marvelously sweet strawberries that I pick up from the farmers’ market– I’d much rather munch on them, toss them into a summery salad, or make jam to preserve their magnificent taste for when I need a burst of strawberry goodness during the dreary winter months.

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Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Onion Pakoras (Fritters)

onion pakoras (onion fritters)

Last week, I stared at a five-pound bag of Chickpea flour sitting in my baking cabinet. It cried to be opened. I immediately closed the cabinet, walked away, and within seconds, I ran back into our kitchen, opened the cabinet door, and grabbed the bag of flour off its shelf. I refused to ignore its cry. The first thing that came to my mind was Onion Pakoras with a two-second Ketchup Chutney.

Pakoras are something I grew up on. I love how how imperfect and rustic they are once out of the hot oil. And I love that they bring brightness to a dreary day. I also adore the sweet and spicy ketchup chutney served with them.

ketchup chutney

Often, on rainy days, I seek comfort food. I crave savory and sweet. And I adore quick and simple. Although I’ve held back on this onion pakora recipe for a week, when these were made, I was absolutely sure that it was Spring. With the small duvet of snow that blanketed the New Jersey area yesterday morning, I am now unsure of what season it is, but I am praying that the snow and rain are not a teaser to something worse. Imagine: snow in May. That’d be interesting. Wouldn’t it?

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Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Pistachio, Mint, & Spice Crusted Lamb Chops

middle-eastern food in 30 minutes.

This morning, I walked outside to experience the magic of Spring. I looked up to see a sky nearly uninhabited by clouds. I heard birds sing an encouraging song to the trees they now call home. I closed my eyes to wallow in the gentle warmth of the sun and to feel the ever-so-slight breeze brush it’s cool hand against my face. Mother Nature, we welcome your magical season of rebirth, inspiration, and hope, with very open arms.

The cool warmth of spring inspired me to share a Middle Eastern-Inspired Couscous recipe with you on Tuesday. Nothing goes better with the couscous than than this recipe for Pistachio, Mint, and Spice Crusted Lamb Chops.

pistachio, mint, & spice crusted lamb chops

In my last post, I failed to mention that this entire meal took me only about half-an-hour to prepare. Although this meal requires quite a few ingredients, don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the ingredients list- this recipe is very easy to put together. You’ll find yourself doing more chopping and mixing than anything else, which I think is quite therapeutic after a hectic day.

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Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Middle Eastern-Inspired Couscous

afghani-inspired couscous

As I write this post, I am distracted by a beauteous scenery outside. There are patches of fluffed pillows scattered across an azzurro sky. The weather is slightly warmer; its soft voice is encouraging plants to sprout, birds to sing, and people to bask in the afternoon sun.

Mother Nature’s “perhaps hand”, as E.E. Cummings once wrote, “is arranging a window while people stare arranging and changing placing.” This time of the year reminds me of times spent walking through the farmers’ market to see what the season has to share. It reminds me of a perfect warmth found in foods we love. It, most of all, reminds me of this couscous.

forking the couscous. yes, I have all of my fingers if you were wondering.

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Monday, March 14th, 2011

Just a Little Plastic Surgery

Oh, yes- just a little plastic surgery. A nose job. A tummy tuck. And a few implants here-and-there… I’m not speaking about myself. The Sophisticated Gourmet got a little surgery earlier today.

Don’t worry, it’s still the same site. Nothing much has changed- just minor things (mostly internal). I’ve revamped the look of the sidebar, added a section in the sidebar for recipe categories, an entirely new section to the site- Kitchen Inquiries (more on that in a second), a Conversions page, and an Amazon Shop!

Okay, I know that you might be wondering what the heck Kitchen Inquiries is. It’s a new feature on the site that I figured would be helpful to everyone. I am constantly answering emails regarding the use of different ingredients in recipes, ingredient substitutions, baking tips, how certain ingredients work in a recipe, etc. So, I’ve decided that if more than one person is asking me the same question, I’m sure others would like to ask that question too. Kitchen Inquiries will be a place for all of that. Of course, it is no replacement for asking questions about certain recipes on the site- you can do that in the comments section of each post or if you prefer- via email. Kitchen Inquiries will be a place for everyone to get an answer to their cooking / baking-related questions.

So, if you’ve been curious about how a certain ingredient works, how to do something as basic as whipping egg whites, or if you’re looking for general kitchen tips, simply submit your question using the contact form on Kitchen Inquiries Submission page. Once your question is answered, it will be published on the Kitchen Inquiries section of the site (which will be up and running by this Friday). A personalized email including a response and a link to the published post will be sent to you.

If you have more of a suggestion, rather than a question- you can use the same form on the Kitchen Inquiries page…

Now, for the Amazon Shop! I am still adding more to the shop as I write this post, but if you head there right now- you’ll see that it does have quite a few items. And a lot of them are on sale! All of the items in the store are things that I own and love. Like this silicone spatula. And these cookie sheets (Dare I say that I collect these things?). And these cookbooks.   I’ve included a description with almost every item in the store.

What else?

Ah- I am working on updating the About page and the FAQs page. I’m also working on a visual recipe index. And I’ve been thinking- what do you think about me starting a TSG Recipe Photos Pool on Flickr?

In addition to all of the little updates- I have posts ready to go for the rest of the week. Aren’t you proud?

I’m sure that I’ve missed a few other things that I updated, but just click around, submit a question to Kitchen Inquiries, and if you happen to see anything wrong with the site, please let me know :)

Enjoy the updated site! A new post will be up by 1PM EST tomorrow.

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