Wrap it up

With all of the awesome cookbooks I received for Christmas, they each have had quite a few curry recipes. As you know, I’m trying to expand my curry, and specifically Indian food palate. So, when I saw this West Indian Styled Channa Wrap in my The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel, I couldn’t wait to make it. I was planning to make this on a Thursday night, but per the usual, I didn’t look at the actual recipe instructions, and realized it took about a half hour to simmer. So, I abandoned ship, but came back on Saturday night to try it as I had just a bit more time on my hands.

This was actually the first time working with fresh ginger. My dad doesn’t like the taste of ginger, so growing up it was never included in any meals we had, let alone in the house. So, up until now my ginger relationship has been solely through sushi. As soon as I peeled it and started slicing, I was in love – it just smells so good!

The recipe calls for madras curry, but I don’t have any. I read online somewhere though that you can simply add some red pepper (cayenne) to regular yellow curry instead. This was too boring for me, so I substituted it with garam masala, the mystery spice I found a few months ago after scouring the Asian food market. Aside from cutting the recipe in half (all the ingredients and cook time) and using 10 inch tortillas instead of 8 (we always have 10 inch in the house, since we’re burrito fiends), I followed the recipe.

If you aren’t a fan of spicy foods, I would omit the hot pepper suggestion. I added a jalapeno, and let me tell you, it was SPICY! The cookbook itself says it’s a 4 out of 5 on their spicy scale, so keep that in mind. But it wasn’t unbearable, and still really enjoyable. If it winds up being a bit too spicy, try and add a little bit of white sugar. It sounds weird, but I promise it works!

West-Indian Style Channa Wrap – via The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook
– Serves 8 –

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chile pepper of choice, seeded
1 (2 x 1-inch) hunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp curry powder (Madras- style)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp salt
2 (15-oz) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package of 8-inch whole wheat tortillas

1. In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chile pepper, and ginger, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the spices and salt, and stir well. You’ll end up with a paste.
2. Add chickpeas, plus enough water to barely cover (at least 3 cups). Bring to a lively simmer, then lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 50 to 60 minutes. You’re looking for very soft chickpeas with a thick gravy, not soup.
3. Taste for salt and season accordingly.
4. Place a few tablespoons of channa inside  a warmed tortilla. Also great over rice!

July Fourth means 4 miles of agony and rum and coke brownies!

Ahh yes, the fourth of July. The day of America’s birth, and an awesome excuse to relax, drink, barbecue, and enjoy fireworks.

Sunday was Cranford’s annual Firecracker Four Miler race, which just so happens to be the first running race I ever competed in, last year. The race starts at 9:30am in Nomaheagan Park, and by the time we got there at about 8:45a it was already a good 80 degrees. Most of the race is in the sun, and since it’s 4 miles instead of the usual 5k (3.1), they didn’t have a water station until 2 miles in. Needless to say the race was a struggle from the beginning, but I somehow managed to beat least year’s time, and PR my 5k time in the process at just under 26 minutes.

For signing up early, we got a t-shirt and a sweet pint glass, just as we did last year. We’re starting a nice collection! In the end, I finished in just under 34 minutes, with the “official” (the timing system was a little shotty) time of 34:50, about an 8:40/mile pace, and my fiancé finished in just under 32 with 31:45 (also a PR). I think we wound up spending the rest of the day trying to rehydrate, which was probably unsuccessful.

After the race, we rushed home so I could get started on the treats I was going to bring to our next barbecue adventure. This time, I went with a recipe I had found on Serious Eats, from a book called Boozy Baking. Seriously, I need that book. I love bringing alcohol infused desserts to parties where drinking is involved, because it’s just so fun. These particular brownies were called Cuba Libre Brownies, but I prefer to simplify the name, and just call them Rum & Coke Brownies. Yes, there is rum, coke, lime zest, and bittersweet chocolate in these bad boys – and they were awesome! The lime zest was really refreshing, and they’re definitely the booziest treats I’ve made so far, so keep that in mind if you decide to take a stab at them!

Rum & Coke Brownies (aka Cuba Libre Brownies)
– serves about 24 brownies –


For the brownies:
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup carbonated cola
1/4 cup white rum

For the frosting:
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup white rum
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly grated zest of 2 limes

1. To make the brownies, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan or spray it with nonstick spray. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir constantly until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
4. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well incorporated, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
5. With a wooden spoon or a spatula, gently stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Gently stir in the cola and the rum; then pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it to the edges.
6. Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan completely.
7. To make the frosting, in a large bowl beat the butter, cocoa powder, and rum with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.
8. Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the grated lime zest, cut into squares, and serve.