Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recipe: Spicy Indian Kidney Beans aka Rajmah

One of my favorite things about food is that different regions have variations on cuisine. The same is true for Indian food. One of my favorite Indian meals is Rajmah and rice: aka spicy kidney beans served over basmati rice. Unfortunately, I hadn't had a lot of luck finding a good recipe, until I came across Anupy Singla's book, The Indian Slow Cooker.

The following is my recipe for Rajmah, adapted from hers- this recipe makes 10 cups
3 cups dried red kidney beans. DO NOT used the canned stuff- it will change up the flavor and texture.
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 teaspoons garlic paste
3 finger-hot/serrano chiles (I used 2, and it was really quite spicy. You can omit these if you prefer)
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon red chile powder
1 tablespoon salt (you can always add more to taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
9 cups water
1/2- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put everything except the cilantro in a slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 11 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves (if you can find them). Use an immersion blender for 2-3 quick blasts to break up some of the beans. Serve over basmati rice, garnished with cilantro (be generous with the cilantro- it really adds to the flavor.)


Monday, July 27, 2015

Scenes from my Weekend: The Birthday Edition

I celebrated my birthday this past Friday, and as one should do, I turned it into a celebratory weekend. Nick got me some gorgeous roses and my favorite La Marca Prosecco as part of my birthday present. The other part involves a photo shoot with pet photographer extraordinaire Greg Murray.

Friday evening we got dressed up and headed out to dinner at new-to-me restaurant Trentina.

If you haven't been to Trentina yet, I highly recommend a visit. The decor is a gorgeous white + black + gold combination-- I wanted to move in. The space is pretty small and intimate- only 30 or so tables, and the experience is intimate to match. 

The food is truly exceptional. We saw General Manager, Larder Master, and Wild Food Forager  Jeremy Umansky speak at TedxCLE, and we excited to try some of the innovative creations from Trentina. Trentina's food is focussed on the northern Italian region of Trentino; the restaurant offers a 12-course, 3- hour, tasting menu experience, as well as an a la carte menu. Nick and I went the a la carte route, and it was spectacular. From the charcuterie board, to the crudo, the amazing house made pastas and pizza's, our meal was flawless. After dinner, Jeremy graciously escorted us on a tour of the kitchen and the larder, where he is working on some really interesting creations for the restaurant.

Saturday morning, the weather was so perfect that it was time for Beach Day part deux. 

Unfortunately, I misjudged the amount of sunblock necessary, and left with a slight burn on the back of my arms and the tops of my thighs. Oops. and Ouch.

Sunday, I did something truly amazing for me. For the very first time ever, I'm on target to complete a real New Year's Resolution by the end of the year. I became a licensed spin instructor!!! I am so excited to find my instructor gig (I have a pretty good idea of where I will be starting off), and really hone my skills as a ride DJ and coach!

It was a fitting end to a great weekend. Naturally we had to top it off with some delicious ice-cream and churros. 

This week is going to be a little weird for me: Tuesday I'm having surgery to fix my deviated septum, so I'm going to be a little out of it for the rest of the week. Don't worry though, I have some posts planned, so keep coming back to visit! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beach Day Essentials

Cleveland has no shortage of beaches. Whether you're east side or west side, there's are a series of options. My personal favorite (mainly because it is SO close to my home) is Edgewater Beach. This past weekend, I spent the day at the beach with Nick, Lisa, and Sean, and we had an absolute blast. I think I may have sighed with happiness and said "This is the life you guys" at least a dozen times. And it really was. Warm sunshine, cool breeze, no sharks….. it was so awesome that we're going to do it again.

So, as we approach another beach-worthy weekend, I wanted to round up my Top 5 Beach Day essentials:
1. A fun beach towel: The key here is that the towel is long enough that your feet aren't in the sand. Actually, for good measure I would probably recommend two: one to lay on and the other to dry off. Or a combo beach blanket + beach towel.
2. A cooler: You will get hungry, or thirsty, and you might as well take your own supplies. I prefer the cooler totes because they're just easier to carry. Ever try wheeling a hard sided big cooler in the sand? Its not fun.
3. Jams: You are going to want some music, but you don't want something that gets obnoxiously loud that your beach neighbors give you death stares. The Jambox is the perfect solution- it comes in two sizes, is extremely portable, and generates surprisingly high quality sound.
4. Sunblock: Usually, I'm under an umbrella, but I'm also a slave to sunblock. Just say no to skin cancer and wrinkles.

beach essentials

GANT beach towel

COOLA Suncare sun care

5. And last, but certainly not least, your friends: friends always make beach day that much more fun!!

Hope you have a lovely weekend sticking your toes in the sand!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

CLE Eats: Flaming Ice Cube

One of my favorite things about working is downtown Cleveland is the wide variety of lunch options. Now, I don't eat out every day, but when I do, I have some favorites. And then sometimes, I prefer to just explore. Last week, my friend Erika and I explored Flaming Ice Cube on Public Square.

Flaming Ice Cube has been around for a while, and offers a vegan menu. I might have lost you at vegan, but I urge you to hang on until the end of the post. I'm certainly not vegan, but if vegan food tastes so good, then I could definitely do it.

We started off with the cucumber detox smoothie. With cucumber, pineapple, apple juice, cilantro and kale, this was a perfectly refreshing summer smoothie. I could almost feel my body absorbing nutrients and detoxing.

Next up, I ordered the Asian Vegetable wrap -- this was delicious and filled with finely cut veggies. It was quite literally steaming with each bite-- so so good. The peanut sauce was TDF-  I could drink it. The side salad was a little too salty, but I just skipped it.

And finally, because I was feeling so VIRTUOUS after my vegan lunch, we decided to indulge in some vegan molten chocolate cake. Oh. My. God. This was as good, if not better, than a lot of non-vegan cakes. This was definitely the moment where I realized that if push ever came to shove, I could definitely be vegan (at least for a short period of time).

So, if you've been wanting to try vegan food, or are even remotely curious, I recommend Flaming Ice Cube. Its the kind of vegan meal I imagine Bey and Jay eat when they do their 22-day Revolution Vegan Diet. So go ahead, channel Bey and Jay. You know you want to.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Explore CLE: The Orchestra at Blossom

This past weekend, Nick and I joined our fellow Circle members for The Cleveland Orchestra's kickoff to summer at Blossom Music Center. Nick and I really don't like driving, but lucky for us, the Circle had taken care of this problem by providing its members with a bus that drove us from Severance Hall to Blossom. Once at Blossom, we were treated to a yummy barbecue dinner and Great Lakes beer, after which we all made our way to the lawn to enjoy the show. 

It was a beautiful summer night, and as you can see, it was a packed house to listen to the Orchestra perform Beethoven's Ninth.

As always with the Cleveland Orchestra it was a great show, but since it was at Blossom, it was a very different experience, and one I highly recommend. However, if you are an Orchestra at Blossom newbie (as I was), here are five things you should know:
1. Blossom is WAY more casual than Severance Hall. This is an all ages event, so you can take your kids. There were a few parents who had even brought a change of clothes, so the kids were in pjs about half way through!
2. Unlike most concerts at Blossom, you can take coolers into the Orchestra shows. Which means you can bring in your own food AND wine
3. The ground can get a little wet as the sun goes down, so you definitely want a picnic blanket, ideally one with the water resistant backing
4. It can also get a little chilly after sunset, so an extra blanket or cardigan or hoodie is a good idea
5. Take bug spray

We had such a great time at Blossom that we're already planning our next visit. The lawn tickets are an incredible bargain at $26/each, and there are some really fun performances coming this season. A great way to experience our world-renowned Orchestra in a super casual setting!

Disclosure: I serve on the Board of Directors of The Circle. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. That being said, I LUUUUURVE The Circle-- it is absolutely the BEST value for money for a young professional in Cleveland. $20/month gives you 2 tickets in a household (even if you're single, you should get the double and take a friend!), which includes 12 events per year, at least 6 of which are concerts. Circle Members also get a 20% discount on classical concerts, and most important, the members themselves are fun and welcoming! Additional details available here

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cooling off Mumbai Style

Mumbai is oppressively hot for about 9 months of the year. There's a brief respite in January and February during the "winter" and then briefly during the monsoon. But otherwise, it is HOT. And cooling off is a bit of a city-wide obsession. There are all kinds of remedies for cooling foods (there's an ayurvedic theory about some foods that cause heat in the body while others are cooling) -- in fact, juicing has been a trend for decades!

There's a very famous juice spot in Mumbai called the Haji Ali Juice Center - everyone in the city knows exactly where it is. My favorite part about it is that like a lot of juice spots in the city, you can wait in your car, and someone will come take your order and bring your juice right to you! You never have to leave the air-conditioned comfort of your vehicle if you don't want to!

I've never had one of these cream dishes these guys are talking about, but their juices are great!

One of my favorite juices is watermelon juice, and while mine doesn't taste like the one at Haji Ali Juice Center, its delicious nonetheless.

Here's my recipe:
Half a watermelon, cubed
A generous handful of mint
Blend, and pour over ice.
And then, and this is the special Mumbai bit, top with a half a teaspoon of Chaat Masala. Chaat Masala is a mixture of spices that result in a salty, slightly tart flavor. A great balance to the sweetness of the watermelon. Its available on Amazon, and also at your neighborhood Indian grocer!

Here's a look at the finished product!

So as our temperatures start to climb this summer, try a little watermelon juice with a slight Mumbai twist!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Scenes From my Weekend: The July 4th edition

How is it July already? While I'm very happy that summer is firmly here, this year is going a little too fast. Did you have a good 4th weekend? Nick and I both had the day off Friday, so we really enjoyed our long weekend!

Thursday marked 11 years since Nick and I got married. Yes, we were very young, but I think we were both very mature for our age, and very clear on our expectations of each other, which is why I think we've worked so well! I don't necessarily advocate marrying young, but I do advocate being realistic about who you are, and who your partner is, and not expecting either to change. If you're in a relationship where you argue a lot while you're dating, odds are you're going to do the same when you're married. The act of marriage doesn't change a relationship-- I think its important to remember that before you take the leap.

And with that, I'm done with my Dr. Phil moment. This is one of my favorite pictures of Nick and I from a photo shoot we did a couple of years ago. Thursday evening, we headed over to Alexa & Chris' housewarming party, where I ate myself silly, enjoyed a lot of prosecco, and obsessed over Megan's necklace (below). 

After sleeping in Friday morning, Nick and I took the pups to Nano Brew for some patio time and lunch. The patio was recently re-opened after a major renovation and it looks great! Clair and Webster were on their best behavior, and got lots of petting and love from our server and tables nearby, and they even got a few treats.

Friday evening, we headed off to Charity & Ben's to celebrate baby Max's first birthday.  I didn't get any pictures of the birthday boy (shockingly I had my phone put away most of the evening), but I did manage to snag this pic of Nick holding Penny (he doesn't hold a lot of babies-- this was a momentous occasion.)

Saturday, it was time to work off Max's delicious birthday cake with a challenging 45 minute ride at Harness Cycle. Chill Pop Shop was on hand giving away delicious popsicles-- who am I to say no to such yumminess?

Nick brought the pups up to Hingetown to meet me for coffee and breakfast at Rising Star

Sweaty cuddles and selfies later, we were off to the dog park for some playtime. Clair is terrified of fireworks, and our whole goal for the day was to get her as tired as possible so that combined with anti-anxiety meds, she would just sleep through all the noise.

Post dog-park, it was porch-time in the neighborhood. My drink of choice a lovely dry rose--- perfect for a summer day!

I had the most AMAZING July 4th meal of crawfish etouffee, ribs, and mac-n-cheese.

We didn't exactly go see fireworks per se, but we could see plenty of them from our neighbor's front porch. And best of all, Clair and Webster did mostly sleep through them all!

Sunday was recover day = lots of lazing around, watching The Spoils of Babylon (such a weird, ridiculous show), and napping on the couch. Sunday evening Nick and I finally got around to celebrating our anniversary with some crab legs at Salmon Dave's

Overall,  a lovely 3-day weekend, the started and ended with us celebrating 11 years of marriage!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

CLE Cooks: A taste of Mumbai

Yesterday, I finally pulled the trigger on something I've been thinking about for a few years.

I've always wanted to have a retail store, and yesterday, I finally founded my business, Bombay Taxi. Bombay Taxi will offer a selection of apparel and accessories, curated by me. And everything will have a little sparkle, because everyone should Sparkle Every Day.

Over the next few months you will notice a few changes to this page -- this site is in the process of being re-designed, and of course, Bombay Taxi will be launched too, so many exiting things in the pipeline here.

In the mean time, I wanted to take a step back and get a little nostalgic. It is the monsoon season in Mumbai, and given how wet and stormy its been here in Cleveland, its felt a lot like a monsoon here too! Anyway, one of my favorite things about the monsoon is eating grilled corn (bhutta) from the sidewalk stands in Mumbai---- Mumbai street food! Mumbai grilled corn is actually really easy to make, and while they usually use white corn in Mumbai, our more traditional yellow corn will do just fine.

Here's what you do: Mix equal parts salt and paprika (or red chili powder if you're feeling adventurous) on a plate. Slice a lemon into 4 quarters. Turn your grill on high, and de-husk your corn, but leave the stalk on as a little handle. You want naked corn on your grill. Now, grill your corn, making sure to give  it a little char on all sides. You may hear it pop- this is totally fine and normal. Once you have the char you like, take it off the grill. Use the lemon to grab some salt and lemon and rub it on the corn while you give the lemon a little squeeze. Enjoy and get messy corn-face! Its spicy and lemony and absolutely delicious!!!

So there you have it! A little taste from Mumbai for the next time you bust out your grill! Enjoy!