Saturday, October 31, 2009

MYOB(MakeYourOwnBurger): Red Bean, Beet and SweetPea Burger

It seems like this is a Burger week at my home. I have been making patties almost everyday this week.Today I wanted a pinkish burger and I was thinking what ingredients to mix and match. So this was a trial and error for this combo pattie. I kept my fingers crossed till I tasted the first one. I was so overjoyed that it came out so good, I took pictures and didn't want to wait to post about it.

  • Red Bean - 15 ounces, canned or freshly cooked
  • Beet - 1 , shredded
  • Garlic - 3 Cloves, minced
  • Red Onion - 1, small, diced
  • Salt - for taste
  • Cracked Pepper - 1 tsp
  • Sweet Peas - 1/2 cup, roughly smashed
  • Stale Pumpernickel Bread - 3-4 slices, ground into crumbs,for binding
  • Olive oil - 4 tbsp
  • Choice of Bread or Rolls
  • Mixed Greens
  • Fixings - Choice of Ketchup, Pickles, Dijon Mustard, Cheese singles, Avocado, Tomato etc etc
  • In a bowl, smash the red bean coarsely. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, cut onions, minced garlic, smashed peas to the bowl.
  • Add the ground breadcrumbs to the bowl and mix gently using hands.
  • Divide the mixture to 6-8 even balls and form patties. The dough shouldn't unravel. If it does, add more breadcrumbs and form a thick mixture.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the patties in batches 3-4 minutes per side on a medium flame.
  • Patties can be consumed just as is or on burger buns.

Friday, October 30, 2009

MYOB(MakeYourOwnBurger): ChickPea, Oat N Oat Bran Burger

This burger is out of the world. Believe me, it is. I have no other words to express its wholesome goodness. It was love at first bite for me. I usually make this with just the chickpea, oats and eggs but I experimented with oat bran in place of eggs this time and it was such a hit in the house. Note: The burger is Vegan but the fixing(s) are not.
  • Quick Oats - 1 cup
  • Unprocessed Oat Bran - 1 cup
  • Chick Pea - 15 ounces, canned or freshly cooked
  • Carrot - 1 , shredded
  • Garlic - 5 Cloves, minced
  • Red Onion - 1, small, diced
  • Salt - for taste
  • Cracked Pepper - 1 - 1 1/2tsp
  • Cilantro - finely chopped
  • Olive oil - 4 tbsp
  • Choice of Bread or Rolls
  • Mixed Greens
  • Fixings - Choice of Ketchup, Pickles, Dijon Mustard, Cheese singles, Avocado etc etc
  • With very little water cook the oatmeal on a stove top or microwave so it isn't soggy but cooked and plumped.
  • In a bowl, smash the chickpeas coarsely. To it add the salt, pepper, cut onions, minced garlic, oat bran and mix gently with hands.
  • Add the cooked oatmeal to the mixture and knead gently to form a coarse dough.
  • Divide the mixture to 10 even balls and form patties. The dough shouldn't unravel. If it does, add more oat bran and form the patties.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the patties in batches 3-4 minutes per side on a medium flame.
  • Patties can be consumed just as is or in burger buns.
Makes 10 patties.


RecipeReplica: Ghoulish Halloween Treats

Firstly, let me start off by saying that these lovely and healthy recipe ideas were replicated from Disney's FamilyFun Website but some ingredients have been changed. I want to make these for the Halloween Night, so I did a dry run today. I just picked 4 of the 15 hauntingly healthy recipe ideas. They are awesome!Do try it out. And, HappyNSafe Halloween to my fellow bloggers and loyal followers. Read about "Halloween History" here.

Wicked Witch of the East(is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum in his classic books. She rules the Munchkin Country)
  • Ice Cream Cone - 1, for hat cone
  • Chocolate chip cookie - 1, for hat rim
  • Pear - 1, halved
  • Thin Apple Wedge - 1, bottom flattened, for mouth
  • Thin Pear Wedge - 1, bottom flattened, for nose
  • Carrot - 1/2, shaved using the peeler, for hair
  • Raisins - 2, for eyes
  • Chocolate Chip - 1, for the wart
  • Swiss Cheese softened - 1 tbsp, for binding facial parts to the pear
  • On a flat work surface, place a halved pear.
  • Glue the raisins on the pear using a bit of Swiss Cheese as a glue.Do the same for wart, nose and mouth.
  • Arrange the carrot shavings around the top end of the pear for the hair.
  • Cut the chocolate chip cookie into 3/4 and 1/4 pieces. Stick the flat end of the bigger piece to the work surface on top of the pear using some cheese.
  • Perch the cone on top of the hat rim gluing it the surface with leftover cheese.Done!
Monster Mouth: It looks like these monsters have poor dental hygiene. They seem to be missing a lot of teeth. Is that a cavity that I see in the mouth of that left-monster??

  • Apple - 1/2, cut into 2 wedges,makes 2 mouth
  • Pear or Green Apple - 1/2, cut into 2 wedges,makes 2 mouth
  • Slivered Almonds with jagged ends - a handful, for teeth
  • Fruit Jerky - for tongue
  • Using a sharp paring knife carve mouth-like cavity inside the wedges.
  • Insert the slivered almonds both in the upper and lower gumline.
  • Carve a U or strips from the fruit jerky to make a tongue or forked-tongue.
  • Stick it inside the cavity taking care not to disturb the teeth. Done!
Finger Chip:
Prepared Guacamole is used as a dip

  • Guacamole - 1 cup
  • Cucumber - 1/2, cut into 4mm thick chips
  • Carrot - 5, the tapering ends only
  • Almonds -5, sliced bits
  • Swiss Cheese - 1/2 tsp, for gluing almonds to nail beds
  • Spoon the Guacamole into a serving bowl.
  • Arrange the cucumber chips by the rim pushing them partly into the dip.
  • Using a paring knife cut the tapering end at an angle for making nail beds.
  • Using cheese as a glue, stick the sliced almonds on the nail beds and dunk the fingers inside the dip.
Bloody Eyeball Soup:

  • Egg - 1/2 of Boiled Egg
  • Fruit Jerky Bits or Olive Slice- For Eyeball
  • Tomato Ketchup - 2 tbsp, for soup
  • Swiss Cheese - pea-sized for gluing the eyeball to the the eye.
  • Pour the ketchup into a bowl.
  • Sit the egg in the center of the ketchup.
  • Using the cheese as a glue stick the olive or the jerky bits right at the apex of the eye.Done!
PS: I am taking my toddler to a Jack O'Lantern Festival in NewYork on Halloween/All Hallow's Eve. Will post pictures the day after.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Black Eyed Peas & Vegetables Soup

Right after I made this yummy soup, I had to quickly take the pictures as I couldn't wait to slurp it.Its that good.I am sending this as an entry to My legume Affair Event started by Susan, guest hosted by Jeanne@ the CookSister! and to Cooking For Infants and Toddlers event hosted by RV @ SourashtraKitchen and Sudeshna's Cook Like a Bong.
  • Black Eyed Peas - 2 cup, cooked and drained
  • Mushrooms -  1 cup, stalked and halved
  • Carrot - 1, crinkled or horizontally cut
  • Zucchini or Green Squash - 1/2, vertically cut to about 1 inch long
  • Crushed Canned Tomato - 3 tbsp
  • Bay Leaf - 1
  • Vegetable Stock - 3 cups
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, finely chopped
  • Red Onion - 1, medium, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Cracked Pepper - 1 tsp
  • Salt for taste
  • Parsley - 2 tbsp, chopped (optional)
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and add the bay leaf, garlic and onions and saute until onions are browned.
  • Add the Mushrooms, Carrot, Zucchini, crushed tomatoes and saute until they lose a little of the rawness.
  • Pour in the stock and follow-up with pepper, salt.
  • Bring to a boil for 6-7 minutes until the liquid is considerably reduced.
  • Add the cooked Black Eyed Peas and cook further for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Ladle it into a bowl and dig in.
Makes 2 Servings.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spinach & Malai Kofta(Creamed Spinach & CottageCheese Dumplings)

'Malai' means Cream and 'Kofta' means dumplings. A dish for special occasions, Malai Kofta is the vegetarian alternative to meatballs and is generally made of cottage cheese in creamed gravy.For this recipe I used a combo of Spinach and Paneer(Cottage Cheese) to make the balls. Further, I tried it out in the microwave for the first time rather than the on stove top.

For the Kofta Balls:
  • Fresh or Frozen Spinach - 1/2 cup, finely chopped, completely drained
  • Paneer - 12 ounces(about 2 cups), crumbled
  • Parsley - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
  • All-purpose Flour - 1 tbsp
  • Cracked Pepper - 1 tsp (optional)
  • Milk - 2 tsp
  • Salt  - A dash
For the Gravy:
  • Whole Milk or Cream - 1 1/2 cups
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Ground Pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - for taste
To Grind:
  • Tomato - 3, medium, chopped
  • Red Onion - 1, small, diced
  • Cashews - 1/2 cup
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • Ginger - 1 inch, skin removed
  • Red or Green Chilli - 4
  • Cinnamon - 1/4 of a stick
  • Cloves -3
  • Star Anise - 1/2
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients under "For Kofta Balls" and form a nice dough. Divide them into even small dumplings.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, add the kofta balls and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Set aside. 
  • Grind using the blender all the ingredients  under "For Grind" starting with the spices and cashews.
  • In another microwave safe bowl, add the ground paste and all the ingredients under "For Gravy" and microwave on HIGH  for 15 minutes. Lid the bowl partly to avoid splattering. Keep stirring every 5 minutes.
  • Check for taste and add the balls into the gravy and microwave on HIGH for another 3 minutes.
Makes ~9 golf-ball sized dumplings.

Note: Can be made on stove-top too.


Jalapeno Poppers: Chestnut,Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed

There are many ways to make this yummy dish but I like mine best when it is stuffed with Swiss Cheese, Chestnuts and Roasted Red pepper.Care should be taken when removing the seeds and membranes of the Jalapeno. The first time I touched the seeds, the heat of it got under my nails and my nail-beds were on fire for a couple of days in spite of repeated washing with hand soap. From then on, I wear gloves.
  • Jalapeno - 6, medium
  • Low fat Swiss Cheese - 5 tbsp, plain 
  • Roasted Chestnuts - 2, roughly smashed(click here to see how to roast a chestnut)
  • Roasted Red Pepper -  2 tbsp, diced
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cut the Jalapeno vertically into 2 halves. Remove the seeds and membranes taking precaution not to touch them directly.
  • In a bowl, whip the cheese, smashed chestnuts and roasted peppers.
  • Using an angled spatula or a steak knife stuff the mixture into the hollowed-out jalapeno cavities.
  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and line the stuffed jalapeno in a single layer.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top of the cheese becomes slightly crusty.
Makes 3 Servings


Oven Roasted Chestnuts

If there is a food that is Simple,Yet Sublime in its taste, its got to be roasted Chestnuts. Oh, how I love Chestnuts! Chestnuts are available in plenty during Winter. This week when I went to the supermarket I saw chestnuts right by the entrance in oak barrels and couldn't resist buying it. Chestnuts can be used to stuff turkey or in a soup or in a cake in pureed sweetened form but the easiest and best way to eat it is to just roast it in the oven and consume it right after its cooled with just a dash of salt(or not). I find that the taste is almost similar to that of a roasted Jack-fruit seed. Aaha Oho!
The Not-So-Simple Health Benefits and Nutritional facts about Chestnuts:
  • Chestnuts are a power house of Vitamin C. Vitamin B6, Thiamine, Folate and Riboflavin are the other nutrients which chestnuts are enriched with.
  • Chestnuts prevent heart risks, provides energy, are very low in cholesterol and mainly are good to include in diet as other grains. Preventing common cold and enhancing fertility in men are the health benefits which comes with the presence of Vitamin C.
  • Chestnuts are similar to brown rice nutritionally and have been described as a grain that grows on a tree.
  • Chestnut protein is of very high quality, comparable with eggs, and is easily assimilated by the human body. 
  • Chestnuts are made up of primarily complex carbohydrate and have a low Glycemic index (GI).  They are low in protein, very low in fat, and are cholesterol free.  They contain reasonable quantities of vitamin C and potassium, but have very low sodium levels.  They are gluten free.
  • Chestnuts - About 40#s(should be firm to touch)
  • Salt for taste (Optional)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Using a serrated or a paring knife put a criss-cross on one side of the chestnut(Use extreme caution to not run the knife over the fingers) to ensure that they don't explode due to pressure when roasting.
  • Line them up in a cookie sheet and roast for about 15-20 minutes.
  • The shells split opens after nearly 15 minutes of roasting.
  • Remove the shell once it can be handled without burning the fingers.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt(or not) and serve in (news)paper cones.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lamb & Vegetable Kebab With Broccoli Lime Rice

Kebab is traditionally a middle-eastern food but popular in Turkish,Central Asian, South Asian and some of the African cuisines, consisting of grilled or broiled meats threaded on skewers. For this recipe, I used the oven instead of a BBQ grill and substituted lamb and vegetables instead of beef and served it on a bed of Broccoli Lime Rice.

For the Kebab:
  • Boneless Lamb - 1/2 pound, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Yellow squash - 1,small, cut into 11/2 inch thick discs
  • Green Squash - 1, small, cut into 1 1/2 inch thick discs
  • Button Mushrooms - 18-20 #s, small, cleaned
  • Red Onion - 1, small, cut into big chunks
  • Green Pepper - 1, cut into big chunks
  • Wooden Skewers - 6
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, grated
  • Ginger - 1 inch, grated
  • Mint - 3 stalks, stalk removed and diced (optional)
  • Lime - 1, juiced
  • Black Pepper - 1 tsp or more, cracked
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Tikka Seekh Kabab BBQ Mix - 1 - 11/2 tbsp ( I used "Shan" Brand from Indian Store)
  • Salt - A dash , for taste
  • Olive Oil - 4 tbsp (2tbsp for marination and 2 tbsp for basting)
For the Rice:
  • Short grained rice - 1 cup
  • Lime - 2, juiced
  • Onion - 1, small, diced
  • Broccoli - 1, small head, cleaned and cut
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Split Black Gram - 1 tsp
  • Olive oil - 1tbsp
  • Cilantro - For Garnish
  • In a glass bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, lime juice, mint, salt, pepper, turmeric powder, BBQ mix, 2 tbsp oil.
  • Check for taste and throw in the vegetable and lamb.
  • Marinate for at least 2 hours(overnight marination is preferred).
  • Soak the wooden skewers in water for 30minutes - 1 hour to avoid burning in the oven.
  • Cook the rice as per package directions and cool.
  • In a deep saute pan, heat oil, add the mustard seeds and black gram. Once the seeds begin to splutter, add the onions and brown it.
  • Add the rice and give a gentle mix.
  • In a cup, mix the juice of a Lime with turmeric powder and salt. Pour that into the pan and mix gently for a minute. Switch off the stove. Garnish with chopped Cilantro.
  • Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  • Line a 11inch X 9 inch pan with aluminum foil.
  • String the vegetable and lamb alternatively with little space in-between and baste them with oil.
  • Sit the skewers on the rim of the pan so that the juice and fat is collected in the pan.
  • Place the pan on the lower grill of the oven for 25-30minutes. Baste with oil once or twice during this time.
  • Remove from the  oven when the tips of the lamb begins to get charred. 
  • Serve on a bed of Lime Rice.
Makes 2 Servings.


Oat Fruit & Nut Bars

The base recipe for this healthy bar is from Washington Apple Commission which uses eggs and all-purpose flour. I modified this recipe by using applesauce instead of eggs, substituted wheat flour partly in the place of all-purpose flour and played around with different choice of dried fruits and nuts.The body of this bar mainly consists of oats, apple, applesauce, dried apricots, dried craisins, dates, walnuts, almonds and wheat flour/all-purpose flour combo with little brown sugar and it certainly satisfies the craving for a sweet. Check the recipe below:

  • Quaker Oats - 1 cup
  • Wheat Flour - 1/2 cup, unsifted
  • All-purpose flour - 1/2 cup, unsifted
  • Brown sugar - 2/3 cup
  • Buttermilk - 2/3 cup
  • Applesauce - 1/2 cup
  • Dried Fruits(apricots, craisins, dates, figs, raisins) - 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Nuts(walnuts, almonds) - 1/4 cup, roughly chopped
  • Apple (Red or Green) - 1, cored and diced
  • Oil - 3 tbsp
  • Baking Soda - 2 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a 9 inch square pan with oiled waxed paper and set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix both the flour, sugar, oats with salt, soda and cinnamon powder
  • Add the buttermilk, applesauce,oil and give it a quick whisk.
  • Add the dried fruits and nuts and pour into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  • Cool and cut into 12 squares.

Makes 12 Bars.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Broccoli Rabe, Mushroom and (Chicken) Sausage With Penne Pasta

There are some food pairings that are an instant Mac and Cheese,Buffalo Wings and Bleu Cheese, Fish and Chips..I'd like to think of Broccoli Rabe and Sausage as one too. The bitterness of the Broccoli Rabe perfectly complements the flavored Sausage and the mellow flavored mushroom. Therefore I'd like to think that they are a match made in heaven.

  • Broccoli Rabe - 1 bunch, cleaned, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Italian Sausage(Hot) - 1 pound, casing removed
  • Button Mushroom - 10#s, halved if slightly bigger
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, grated
  • Onion - 1, small, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes - 1 tsp
  • Pepper - 1 tsp or more (optional)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil - 1 tbsp
  • Penne or Rigatoni Pasta - For 4 People
  • Add the chopped broccoli rabe into a pot of boiling water for 4 minutes. Discard the water and set aside on a paper lined plate. Blanching them will reduce the bitterness.
  • In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the the grated garlic, onions and saute until the onions become translucent.
  • Crumble the sausage and add it to the pan and cook. Sprinkle salt, pepper flakes, pepper(if using) and mushroom and saute for about 5 minutes. Throw in the broccoli rabe and mix it gently.Switch off the stove.
  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions and set it in a bowl.
  • Top it with the broccoli rabe, mushroom and sausage mixture.
 Note: Any Sausage may be used. I sometimes try it with Turkey Sausage and its equally good.

Makes 4 Servings


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quintessential Beantown(Boston) Baked Beans

It seems that the slowly-baked beans was a favorite Boston(and whole of New England Area) dish since colonial days, when the city was "awash in molasses" due to its rum-producing role in the "triangular trade." Sugar cane harvested by slaves in the West Indies was shipped to Boston to be made into rum to be sent to West Africa to buy more slaves to send to the West Indies.There are probably a hundred ways to do this dish..but after experimenting in the kitchen I came up with a version that I like best.Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
  • Red Kidney bean/Red Bean - 15-oz can or freshly pressure cooked
  • Onion - 1, small, diced
  • Carrot - 1/2, large, diced
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, grated or minced
  • Olive oil - 2 tsp
  • Molasses - 1/4 cup
  • Tomato Ketchup - 1/4 cup
  • Hot Sauce - 2 tbsp or less (skip this if using "HOT & SWEET" ketchup)
  • Water - 1/2 cup
  • Salt - for taste
  • Cheddar Cheese - 1/8 cup, shredded
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the grated garlic. Fry for a minute.
  • Add the diced onions and carrots and fry till the onions are browned.
  • In a bowl, add the beans, ketchup, hot sauce(if using), molasses, salt and gently mix.
  • Remove the onion mixture from the stove and add to the bowl.
  • Divide the mixture into 2 ramekins and cover with an aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 30 minutes with the top covered. Remove the foil and let it bake for another 30 minutes or so until it thickens.
  • Remove from the oven and add the cheddar cheese and mix.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes prior to eating.
Makes 2 servings.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Walnut And Cheese Coated Fruit Balls

This is a kid and adult friendly appetizer that can be done in a jiffy.Looks elegant and involves no cooking which makes it even better.This recipe makes its way to Guilt-Free Snacks Event hosted by Yasmeen @ Yasmeen-HealthNut and to WYF-Light Meal Event hosted by EC @ SimpleIndianFood and to Say Cheese Event @SimplySara

  • Walnuts - 1/2 cup, coarsely ground
  • Lowfat Swiss Cheese - 3 tbsp, plain
  • LowFat Cream Cheese - 1 tbsp, plain or flavored
  • Green Grapes - 2, seedless
  • Red Grapes -  2, seedless
  • Strawberry - 2, small, crown removed
  • Mix the soft cheese in a bowl and refrigerate for an hour or so.
  • Pour the ground walnuts in a flat dish and spread out.
  • Take each fruit and start coating them with the cooled cheese using hands. Quickly roll them in the walnuts.
  • Refrigerate for an hour prior to consuming(optional for people prone to brain freeze or teeth sensitivity).

Makes 2 servings.


Shrimp In Minty Onion & Tomato Gravy

This is a lip-smacking dish that can be made in no time(if pre-cleaned shrimp is used)

  • Shrimp - 1 lb(about 35 medium shrimps), peeled, de-veined
  • Onion - 2 medium, diced
  • Roma tomato - 3, medium, diced
  • Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Ginger/Garlic Paste - 1 - 11/2 tbsp
  • Mint - 1 cup, finely chopped
  • Lemon Juice - 1 tbsp
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/8 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder - 2 tsp or more
  • In a bowl, marinate the shrimp in lemon juice, turmeric powder and black pepper.
  • In a saute pan, heat oil, add the fennel seeds. Once fried, add the onions and brown it.
  • Follow-up with ginger/garlic paste and fry until the raw smell is gone.
  • Add the mint to the pan and fry a couple more minutes.Throw in the diced tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until tomato loses shape.
  • Add the salt, chilli powder and give a gentle mix. Finally add the marinated shrimp and cook with lid on for 7-8 minutes and without the lid for a few more minutes until a thick gravy-like consistency is reached.
  • Serve hot with rice or roti.
Makes 4 servings.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Motley Mix Salad

What do you do when you have a little bit of this and a little bit of that in the fridge and pantry?Grow fungi culture or make a colorful salad with the available assortments? You should know what option I chose. The outcome was gorgeously good. I am sending this recipe as an entry for "No Croutons Required" event hosted by Jacqueline @ TinnedTomatoes.
Here goes the recipe for the Motley Mix Salad:

  • Mixed Greens - 2-3 cups, cleaned and drained
  • Roma Tomato - 1, medium, chopped
  • Red Onion - 1/2, vertically slit
  • Cucumber - 1/2, large, thinly sliced
  • Carrot - 1/2, julienned
  • Strawberries - 6, roughly chopped
  • Tangerine - 1, peeled and segmented
  • Corn Kernels - 1/4 cup, cooked, fresh or frozen
  • Walnuts - a handful
  • Olive Oil - 3 tbsp
  • Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tbsp
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • In a bowl, whisk olive oil with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • In another big bowl, add the greens, onion, cucumber, strawberries, tangerine and corn kernels.
  • Pour the dressing on top and gently mix.
  • Sprinkle julienned carrot and walnuts on top.
  • Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Avocado and Roasted Pepper Salad

I generally don't like to slave over the stove. I love to cook but I love cooking without fire even more.  This is an express salad that can be made under 5 minutes top. So easy yet so yummy - my kinda salad. So bright that its my eyes that get to feast on it prior to my mouth.This recipe makes its way and to WYF-Light Meal Event hosted by EC @ SimpleIndianFood.

  • Avocado - 1, peeled, cored and cut to bit-size pieces
  • Roasted Bell Pepper - 1/2 cup, any color
  • Roma Tomato - 1, medium, chopped
  • Any greens/lettuce - 2 cups, cleaned and cut
  • Red Onion - 2 tsp, finely diced
  • Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Lemon Juice - 1/2 tbsp
  • Lemon Zest - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt 
  • Cracked Pepper - 2-3 grinds of a pepper mill
  • In a big bowl, add the green, tomatoes, roasted pepper and mix gently.
  • In another small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Whisk gently.
  • Pour the oil mixture on top of the salad mixture. Gently mix.
  • Sprinkle the red onions on the top.
  • Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Kross-Bred Kesari: A Sweet Ride for your tastebuds

Kross-Bred? Yes. A Kross-Bred Kesari is a new term that I came up for this unique dish that in a result of mixing two different purebred kesari varieties.Since Kesari is one of the top favorite sweet item that I make at home, I decided to make it for Diwali too. If receive any laurels for this, I will have to share it with  Kalai@ Samaithu Paarkalam because the recipe for Chocolate Kesari comes from her blog. As per her post, she dreamt about it prior to making it. Hmm, I ask to myself, Why don't I dream such SWEET dreams??I came up with this Strawberry  half and decided to mix it up! You all be prepared for a sweet ride for your taste buds,you hear??
Common Ingredients:
  • Sooji/Semolina - 1/2 + 1/2 cup ( For each kesari)
  • Cashew, Raisins and Craisins - 1/8  + 1/8 cup
  • Ghee - 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
  • Water - 1 cup each, for the 2 halves
  • Skimmed Milk - 1 cup each,for the 2 halves
  • Sugar - 3/4 cup each, for the 2 halves
For the Strawberryportion:
  • Strawberry - 8, medium, sweet
  • Raspberry - 8
For the Chocolate portion:
  • Ghee - 1 Tbsp
  • Cocoa Powder - 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Ice Cream Scoop
  • 2 Spoons
  • In a skillet, add 2 tbsp of ghee and roast the dry fruits and nuts. Divide and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add 2tbsp of ghee and add the sooji/semolina. Fry it until its slightly browned. Divide and set aside.
  • Warm a tbsp of ghee and to it add the cocoa powder. Mix it and set aside.
  • For the StrawberryRaspberry half:  Clean the fruits and grind it to a pulp and set aside. In a thick bottomed pan, bring 1 Cup water and 1 Cup milk to a boil. Stir in one half the fried Sooji slowly to avoid any clumps. After it cooked and the mixture thickens, add the sugar, pulp and dry fruits. Stir until the mixture is re-thickened. Set aside.
  • For the Chocolate half: In the same thick bottomed pan,  bring 1 Cup water and 1 Cup milk to a boil. Stir in the other half of fried Sooji slowly to avoid any clumps. After it cooked and the mixture thickens, add the sugar, cocoa mix and dry fruits.  Stir until the mixture is re-thickened. Set aside.
  • Line a flat cookie baking sheet with slightly greased aluminum foil. Using a small spoon, fill half of the icecream scoop with chocolate kesari, repeating the same with strawberryraspberry kesari. Make small balls and arrange them on the cookie sheet and let it set. Taste better either refrigerated or at room temperature.
Makes ~40 Kross-bred Kesari balls.
Note: The chocolate kesari proportions have been changed to complement the other half. For the original version click here.


Health Mix Laddu Bites - Marble Sized Treats

This is another Diwali Special at my home that can be made in under 30 minutes. I know there are a lot of laddu varieties but I am sure this is quite unheard of.It all started like this:Whenever I go to an Indian store I buy this on an impulse, vowing to make something out of it but sadly I never do.When my MIL came to visit me last year she saw that the Health Mix Powder was simply occupying pantry space.She suggested it and a new idea was born.

  • Manna Health Mix Flour - 1/2 cup, sifted (This is available in Asian/Indian stores)
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup or less, powdered
  • Butter or Ghee - 4 tbsp, melted
  • Cashews - 2 tbsp, roughly broken
  • Raisins - 1 tbsp
  • In a skillet, add the melted butter/ghee, add the cashews. Once browned, add the raisins.
  • Reduce the flame to medium and add the sifted flour and stir gently until the flour starts releasing the aroma.
  • Switch off the stove and add the powdered sugar.
  • While the mixture is still warm, start making marble sized balls with both hands.The balls can be consumed right away.
Makes ~12 marble sized balls.


Stuffed Mini Eggplants in Kadai Gravy

If there is one dish that instantly takes me back on the memory lane it has to be the stuffed eggplants. A variation of stuffed eggplants used to feature in our weekly menu at least once.It conjures up a good memory of me helping my mom stuff the eggplants with the ground masala while she prepares the eggplants to be stuffed. It used to be a competition of sorts..whether I stuff the eggplants first or she quarters it first..Oh, I miss the good old days!My mom has at least a half a dozen variations for this. Eggplants with dry masala stuffing, mixed roasted gram and coconut stuffing, steamed stuffed eggplant, stuffed eggplants in spicy gravy and what not..Even though this recipe is adapted from my mom's it has deviated so much that I could almost call this my own. :).

  • ~24 Mini purple Eggplants
For the Stuffing:
  • 2 Medium Red Onion , roughly chopped
  • 2 Small Tomato, medium, chopped
  • 2-3 Stalks Curry Leaves
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 "Ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Culinary Poppy seeds,Optional (gives a nice gritty texture to the stuffing)
  • 2 Dry Red Chilli, Optional
  • 3-4 Green Chilli, crown removed and poked at several places
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Coriander powder
  • 1/8 Tsp Turmeric powder
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Fresh/Frozen Coconut Balls or 2 tbsp Fresh chunks
  • In a thick bottomed pan, heat a tbsp of oil, add the onions, garlic, ginger,chillies and saute until onions are well browned.Add the curry leaves to it and fry until it gives out a nice aroma.
  • Follow up with turmeric powder, poppy seeds, coriander powder, tomato and salt. Fry for about 5 minutes until tomato loses shape.
  • Switch off the stove.Add the coconut and let the mixture cool. 
  • Grind them to a grainy paste in a blender with very little water. If the paste is runny, then it won't make a good stuffing.
  • Trim the crowns of the eggplant, but do not discard it entirely.Quarter the eggplants without separating the sections so they are opened like flowers. Stuff the ground mixture and line them up in a plate.
  • Heat the same thick bottomed pan with remaining oil and gently add the stuffed eggplants.Brown the eggplants slightly. 
    • Pour the remaining leftover mixture on top.
    • Add a cup of water, close the lid and cook them for 15-18 minutes minutes on medium-low flame.
    • The flesh of the eggplants should be tender and the gravy thickened.
  • Serve hot with Ghee Rice or Roti, Biryani or with toasted wheat bread slice.
  • Enjoy!

    Simple Ghee(Clarified Butter) Rice

    Ghee aka clarified butter is a major player in the Indian kitchen. Ghee is made by melting butter to separate the milk solids from the liquid on the surface. This liquid is simmered until all the moisture evaporates and the milk solids begin to brown. The result is a clarified butter that keeps well.I love to use ghee to make sweets or simply to flavor rice.This is a recipe for Ghee Rice at its simplest! 
    • Basmati Rice - 1 cup
    • Onion - 1 , medium, vertically slit
    • Ghee - 3 tbsp
    • Olive oil - 1 tbsp
    • Bay Leaf - 1
    • Cinnamon Stick - 1
    • Pepper corns - 1 tsp
    • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
    • Cloves - 2
    • Cardamom - 2
    • Water - 1 1/2 cups
    • Milk - 1/2 cup
    • Salt for taste
    • Soak the basmati rice for 15mins
    • In a pan, heat the oil and melt the ghee
    • Add all the dry spices and onions and fry till the onions are browned.
    • Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Give a gentle stir and let the rice coat with oil.
    • Add the water and milk. Throw in the salt. Check for taste and cook the rice in low flame until all water evaporates for about 15 mins.
    • Serve it with any choice of side dish. Mini Stuffed Eggplants in Kadai Gravy complements the Ghee Rice extremely well.

    Makes 2 servings.


    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Chicken Tagine With ButterNut Basmati Rice

    The idea behind this dish was adapted from one of Keith Floyd's Mediterranean recipe "Chicken Tagine With Couscous". Floyd was a British chef and television personality who hosted numerous cooking shows for the BBC and published many books combining cookery and travel.He passed away about a month ago due to heart attack. RIP, Mr.Floyd. Tagines in Moroccan cuisine are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. They are traditionally cooked in the tagine pot, whose cover has a knob-like handle at its top to facilitate removal. While simmering, the cover can be lifted off without the aid of a mitten, enabling the cook to inspect the main ingredients, add vegetables, move things around, or add additional braising liquid.Don't have a Tagine? No problem. This recipe is made partly on a stove-top and partly in oven until the meat is falling off the bone.Umm, sounds very appetizing, doesn't it?

    For Chicken Tagine:
    • Chicken Thighs - 6, boneless and skinned
    • Onion - 1,medium, finely chopped
    • Tomato - 1, medium, finely chopped
    • Garlic - 2 Cloves, grated
    • Carrot - 1 large, vertically slit into ~12 pieces
    • Yogurt - 1 tbsp
    • Coriander Powder - 3 tbsp (for body and flavor)
    • Chicken Masala - 2 tbsp, any brand(available in Indian or Middle-eastern stores)
    • Cinnamon Stick - 1
    • Bay Leaf - 1
    • Cloves - 3
    • Black Pepper - 1 1/2 tsp
    • Black Olives - 12, medium, pitted
    • Dates - 1/8 cup, pitted, chopped
    • Dried Cranberries - 1/2 cup
    • Walnuts - 1/4 cup
    • Dried Apricots - 1/2 cup (optional)
    • Spinach - a handful, finely chopped, for garnish
    • Salt
    • Olive oil - 2 tbsp
    For the ButterNut Basmati Rice:
    • Basmati Rice - 2 cups
    • Slivered Almonds - 1/2 cup
    • Butter - 1 tbsp, melted
    • Cumin - 1 tsp
    • Raisins - 1/8 cup 
    • Olive oil - 2 tsp
    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    • Soak the Basmati rice in water for 15-30minutes.
    • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate for 30 minutes in yogurt, a tbsp of chicken masala, a few grinds of pepper and salt.
    • In a oven-proof skillet or dutch oven pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil and brown the chicken in batches and set aside.
    • In the same pan, heat the remaining olive oil and add the grated garlic, onions and saute until the onions becomes translucent.
    • Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves and carrot and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomato loses shape.
    • Follow-up with the remaining Chicken masala, Coriander Powder, pepper, salt and return the chicken to the pan.Add about a cup of water and cook for 10 minutes on a medium flame with the lid.
    • Move it to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so until almost all of the liquid is evaporated.
    • Remove from the oven and stir in the Olives, dry fruits and nuts.Garnish with chopped spinach.
    • In a skillet, heat  2 tsp of olive oil and add the slivered almonds. Once they are browned, add the cumin seeds and saute for a minute. Throw in the raisins(if using) and drained rice. 
    • Stir gently to not break the rice.Add 2 cups of water, close the lid and cook on low flame for ~8-10 minutes.
    • Move the cooked rice to a serving plate and spoon the chicken tagine on the top.

    Makes 4 Servings.


    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    HighTea Treats: Four-Way Finger Sandwiches

    Prior to publishing this post all I knew about High Tea was that it is an English Tradition where women gather around a table full of itty-bitty treats and hot tea. I had do some research prior to whipping up something from easily available items in the kitchen pantry.
    Some facts about High Tea Tradition:
    • Catharine of Braganza, who came to marry Charles the Second, kick-started this tradition in 1662. She is known as the tea-drinking queen.
    • Tea was generally consumed within a lady’s closet or bedchamber and for a mainly female gathering.
    • Actual taking of tea in the afternoon developed into a new social event some time in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s established by Anne, Duchess of Bedford. She requested that light sandwiches be brought to her in the late afternoon because she had a “sinking feeling” during that time because of the long gap between meals.
    • The correct order when eating on a tea tray is to eat savories first, scones next and sweets last.  
    • A tea sandwich can be consumed in two bites. It may be long and narrow, sometimes called a finger sandwich. It also may be in a triangular shape.
    • Sandwich should be consumed with 3 fingers  as a cultured person ate with 3 fingers, a commoner with five.
    So, I decided to come up with my four-way finger sandwich, "Four-Way" because of four choicy stuffing. I used wheat and pumpernickel crust-less breads. Check out the recipe below:

    For the Guacamole-Sandwich Stuffing(Makes 1 cup):
    For the RoastedPepperHummus-Sandwich Stuffing(Makes 1 cup):
    • Roasted Bell Pepper - 1/4 cup, any variety(oven-roasted with a dash of salt, pepper and olive oil @ 350 degrees F for 30 minutes)
    • Chick Pea - 1/4 cup, cooked or canned
    • Garlic - 1 Clove
    • Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
    • Salt for taste
    For the Curried Carrot Stuffing(Makes 1 cup) :
    • Red onion - 1, small, finely chopped
    • Tomato - 1, small, finely chopped
    • Carrot - 2, small, shredded
    • Hot green chilli - 1, diced
    • Olive oil - 1 tbsp
    • Salt
    • Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
    • Swiss Cheese - 1 tbsp, french onion flavor (optional, I prefer a wedge of Laughing Cow Brand)
     For the QuintessentialCucumber-Sandwich Stuffing(Makes ~ 4 sandwich):
    • English Cucumber -1/8, peeled and thinly sliced
    • Cream Cheese - 2 tbsp, plain or garden vegetable medley flavor
    • Wheat Bread - 1 slice
    • Pumpernickel - 1 slice
    • Make the Guacamole as per the recipe directions.Set aside.
    • In a food processor, grind the roasted pepper, chick pea, garlic with olive oil. The resulting hummus mixture should be creamy like a spread.Set aside.
    • In a skillet, heat the oil, add the onion and green chilli. Saute until the onion is browned. Throw in the tomato, salt, garam masala and cook until the tomato loses its rawness. Add the shredded carrot and give a gentle mix.Switch off the stove and set aside. Soft Swiss cheese may be used to bind the mixture to a spreadable consistency.
    • Cut the cucumber thinly,sprinkle a little salt and set aside for a few minutes.Drain the liquid.
    • Cut the bread slices diagonally. Further cut the 2 triangles diagonally. Each slice should yield 4 little triangles totaling 4 sandwiches. 
    • For Cucumber sandwich, spread the cream cheese before layering the cucumber. For other sandwiches, stuff the bread with a tbsp or less of prepared stuffing and serve with hot tea.
    Makes 4 tiny sandwiches.