Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Mango Lassi" Pistachio Pudding

So, as previously mentioned, I have new cookbooks and an ongoing love of learning to cook various ethnic foods. I have been poring over my new cookbooks all week; last night I spent a good two hours thumbing through Bal Arneson's Everyday Indian. Sunday is eat-leftovers-and-make-ahead day in our house.  After a dinner of leftover roast pork tenderloin, green beans, cauliflower mash, and roasted sweet potato, we moved away from the Continental US to approach Chinese-inspired stir-fry chicken (marinated in ginger, garlic, lemon, orange, Hoisin and five-spice) for lunches later in the week. Then we backtracked to India for dessert (finally keeping in mind our waistlines, albeit slightly).

This is the result:

Pistachio Mango Pudding
1 package sugar-free Jell-O pudding, pistachio flavor
2 cups reduced-fat or non-fat milk
1 ripe-bordering-on-overripe mango
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup heavy cream (or Cool Whip, if you're on a tighter calorie budget)

- Prepare the pudding per package instructions with the milk. Let set in fridge.
- Peel and slice the mango, being careful not to remove any fingers or significant chunks of your own flesh. Mangoes can be slippery! (Best trick: Slice off the broad end to create a flat surface. Prop it on this flat surface, and use a good vegetable peeler or be very careful with a paring knife to peel off the skin. Once peeled, slice off each side in a wide plank, careful not to get too much of the pith, then the sides.) Take your mango slices and cut them into cubes.
- Toss the mango with the cardamom. (If your mango isn't as ripe as it should be, add a spoonful of sugar and let it all macerate for a bit.) 
- By this time, the pudding should be set. Spoon the mango into a dish and top with pudding, or vice versa.
- Drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp heavy cream, or a dollop of Cool Whip.

Enjoy!  (With one mango and a half a cup of pudding each, we had pudding to spare, but were greedy and the mango only made two servings. So plan on pistachio-and-fruit parfaits again later. :) Or buy more mangoes!

I should note that our favorite "diet" dessert lately is sugar-free pudding with Cool Whip and fresh fruit (berries, mango, whatever the local market had that's ripe) -- the whole thing is usually only 2-3 Points, and it's surprisingly filling and satisfying.

I have learned that I cannot succeed at a diet unless I do not feel deprived, which means that I am filling up on veggies and lean proteins (like pork tenderloin or shrimp or chicken) for two out of three meals, and loading up most of my carbs in the morning. I have lost 12 pounds without giving up my jalapeno-cheese bagel with very light cream cheese. I'd call that a successful diet. (I'm certain dance class once a week plus walks around the block twice the day have nothing to do with it... ;P ) In addition to being actually, physically FULL from veggies (I pack gallon-sized bags of carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks to take with me to work and nosh with hummus), I have to get my sweet tooth fulfilled now and then. These sugar-free pudding desserts do the trick. Now that the weather is changing, I'm going to start using fruit-and-gelatin desserts (but they take more planning, because of how long the Jell-O takes to set up in the fridge). 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lamb Kebabs (Meatballs) - Kabab Laham

With the recent bonuses paid out at work (finally! Yay!), I splurged on a few books, one of which is "Cardamom and Lime: Recipes from the Arabian Gulf" by Sarah Al-Hamad. [The other is Bal Arneson's book, Everyday Indian - you will likely be seeing recipes from that one, as well.]

As it's freezing outside (by California standards) and we don't have an indoor grill, I modified this recipe to be meatballs rather than kebabs. I also adjusted a few ingredients (skipped the saffron, as I couldn't find it at the store, added fresh jalapeno for a boost of bright green flavor). It's not diet food by any stretch*, but it's darn tasty.

Kabab Laham Meatballs
Modified from the original recipe by Sarah Al-Hamad

1 lb ground lamb, 85/15
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic puree
1 generous tsp ginger puree (I used a microplane and a knob of fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 japaleno, core and seeds removed, minced
1 egg, beaten

Combine in a bowl and mix well. (I combined everything but the lamb, added the lamb last, and had a grand old time using my bare hands to make a squishy mass of more-or-less evenly combined ingredients.)

Heat a nonstick pan with a few tsp of oil over medium heat. Form the mixture into patties, balls, or whatever shape you fancy, and cook until deliciously golden and crisp, turning once to cook the other side to the same level of done-ness. (I also set the oven temp to 200*F and placed the cooked meatballs on an oven-proof plate to stay warm while I made the next batch, etc.)  I think I made 18-20 meatballs that were about golf-ball sized or a teensy bit larger.  This would also be a fabulous recipe to use to shape patties for burgers, though I'd recommend reducing the bread crumbs and using butter (per the original recipe, 3/4 cup) instead of olive oil.

The original recipe calls for shaping these over metal skewers and grilling over charcoal; serve in pita or with salad. I suspect the flavor would be even more incredible if I had a grill to use.

Served with pieces of fresh lavash bread from the local market and a side of steamed cauliflower. I sprinkled the meatballs with some of the leftover chopped parsley. :) 

* In late January, I joined Weight Watchers, and have lost 12+ pounds to date; I have about 15 more to go before I reach a weight I want to try to maintain. Part of my success is having a larger breakfast and much lighter rest of the day. The other part is not going wild on weekends, but not counting Points, either - there's a limit to how much guilt and paranoia I can handle when it comes to my food. :)