Thursday, December 30, 2010

Apple and Blackberry Oatmeal Crumble

Christmas came and went in a blur.. The last big holiday of the year that most of us look forward to, almost since the beginning of the year is gone and I am feeling a bit like a deflated balloon. The high winds,cold climes and piles of snow on the sidewalks doesn't help. But the weatherman promises Sunny Skies for the New Year weekend and that is enough to make me cheer up. But not enough to make me cook something worthy to blog about..just surviving on eggs, rice and leftover sambhar. So here is a post from the draft. Enjoy!

  • 1-1/2 Cups Fresh Blackberry
  • 3 Medium Gala Apples
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
For the Oatmeal Crumble Topping:
  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 3 Tsp Coarse Oat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Stick(55g/4 Oz) Butter, cut into little cubes
  • 1/8 Tsp All-spice Powder
  • 1/8 Tsp Salt
  • 9" square baking dish
  • Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  • Clean and drain the blackberries. Peel and remove the seeds from the apple. Cut them into 1/2" thick chunks and add to the blackberries in the bowl.
  • Pour the lemon juice over the fruits. Sprinkle the sugar and gently mix.
  • Grease a 9" square baking dish with little butter and add the fruit mixture into it.
  • Bake the fruit for 15 minutes just until the berries begin to release juice.
  • Add all the ingredients under "crumble topping" in a bowl.
  • Using the tines of a fork or hand make a crumbly mixture.
  • Sprinkle "loosely" on top of the fruits. Do not pack it in.
  • Move the pan back into the oven and continue to bake for another 45-50 minutes.Remove and cool the crumble for 15-20 minutes
  • Serve by itself, a dollop of ice-cream or with fruity Yogurt like I did(in the picture above)
Makes 4-6 servings.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saag Paneer

I am of the understanding that an authentic "Saag Paneer" dish is made with tender Mustard greens and Indian cottage cheese called "Paneer" cooked with just the right amount of spices. Since I don't find the mustard greens in the stores anywhere near my place, I always make do with Spinach. And trust me, Spinach is an excellent alternative. A mixture of mustard greens and spinach maybe used as well.
This is one of the very few dishes from the Indian cuisine that is totally irresistible and would even please a "picky eater" who doesn't care for an Indian fare.
  • 1-1.5 lb Spinach Leaves (~9-10 Cups)
  • 14 Oz Paneer Block, cut into cubes (I use the brand "Nanak" from Indian Stores)
  • 1 Tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Store-bought or Home-made Ghee/Clarified Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Thick Yogurt
For Grinding:
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes. roughly chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 1" Ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 Dry Red Chile
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Start off by washing the Spinach in several changes of cold water and drain it completely in a colander.Roughly chop the spinach and set aside.
    • Add a tbsp of Olive Oil to a wide non-stick pan and lightly brown the Paneer cubes.
    • Drain them on paper towels. Set aside.
    • Add a tbsp of ghee to the same pan and fry all the ingredients except Cilantro under "For Grinding"
    • Switch off the stove and add Cilantro.
    • Cool and grind to a coarse mixture. Set aside.
    • In the same pan, add the remaining tbsp of Oil and Ghee. When warmed, add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds.
    • Add the chopped spinach to the pan. Toss about the pan and cook just until it wilts.
    • Quickly add the ground mixture plus salt for taste,give a stir and add the browned Paneer cubes.
    • Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes and add a cup of thick yogurt.
    • Stir gently and switch off the stove a couple of minutes later. Move it to the serving bowl and serve it with a steaming plate of rice or roti.
    Makes ~4-5 Servings.


    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Basics: Good Old Cheese Sandwich

    Hubby didn't want lunch today as he was going out for a business lunch. So I made myself something real simple and quick yet satisfying to the core. On a darn cold day like today, can there be anything more comforting than a cheese sandwich with some tomato soup to wash it down?
    • 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread( I used Arnold's)
    • 2 American Cheese Singles
    • 1/2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
    • Cast-iron Pan
    • Cast-iron Steak/Panini/Bacon Press
    • Start off by warming the tools.
    • Smear 1/2 the amount of butter on a slice of bread and place it on the pan, buttered-side down.
    • Top it with cheese slices.
    • Smear the remaining butter on the other slice,add to the top of cheese slices, buttered-side up and press it down with the steak press.
    • Cook on one-side for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 more minutes until the cheese gets all gooey and yummy.
    • Serve immediately with some tomato soup on the side.


    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Puy Lentils, Sweet Potato and Carrot Curry

    Hello World!Yes, I am alive and kicking in-spite of a mild case of "Chillblains" on my feet. For those of you who are wondering what it is, its a form of ulcer that occur when a predisposed individual is exposed to cold and humidity. My feet has poor circulation and is always like an ice block during winter. This brings a host load of problems with it -- I feel the cold in my bones no matter how warmly I am dressed. And my hubby doesn't want to come anywhere near me cause I try to use him like a personal heater. I have been told to take plenty of omega-3 rich food/supplements plus keep my feet covered at all times to keep that infernal condition at bay. :(. Its certainly making me wince every time I am on my foot which is almost all of my waking moment. Well, I am a busy bee. My little man makes sure that I am that way.

    Anyways, this is what I made last week when I didn't know what to do with all the sweet potato that were begging me to use them.I certainly didn't want to eat another pie as I had my fair share of it last month. This curry on a bed of mango-cashew rice is insanely good combo. I am so proud of myself for this curry creation. :).
    • 1/2 Cup Puy Lentils
    • 2 Small Sweet Potatoes
    • 1 Large Carrot
    • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • Salt as needed
    For Grinding:
    • 2 Medium Onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 2 Dry Red Chili or less
    • 1/4 Tsp Peppercorns
    • 3/4" Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    • 2 Stalks Curry Leaves
    • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder
    • 2 Tbsp Dessicated/Fresh Coconut shavings
    • Soak the Puy Lentils for 2-3 hours and pressure cook/cook( with water barely covering them)until they are soft yet firm. Set aside. Don't drain the water.
    • In a pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil and saute the ingredients under "Grinding" one by one in the order mentioned.
    • Switch off the stove and stir in the coconut.
    • Cool the mixture and grind it coarsely.
    • Peel the sweet potatoes and carrot. 
    • Cut the Carrot to 4mm discs.
    • Cut the Sweet Potatoes to 4mm discs and further cut them into thick strips.
    • In the pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the cut sweet potatoes and carrots until they are slightly browned in the edges.
    • Add the cooked Puy lentils and ground masala. 
    • Sprinkle water and add salt for taste.
    • Lid the pan and cook just until all moisture evaporates and the veggies are firm and tender.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Milk Solids And Finger Millet Flour(Ragi) Ladoo

    I didn't want to dedicate a whole post for this but I haven't cooked anything worthwhile since MIL went back to her home last weekend after a 4-month stay. While I have a few posts sitting in the draft, they are all unfinished(ie: in different stages of completion).And I am leading my life in a lackadaisical manner..Its going to take a while for me to get my groove back.At the moment though, I am content moping and sulking, cause believe it or not, I'm missing MIL.

    In my previous post, I had asked you guys what you did with the milk solids that settles to the bottom of the pan during the process of making Clarified Butter. I would have simply discarded but MIL doesn't waste a thing.  This Ladoo(A type of Indian dessert) is what MIL makes out of the brown bits..It was a simple, yet fabulous treat that I enjoyed very much.
    Ingredients(Makes 6-8 Small Ladoos):
    • Milk Solids(Brown Bits settled at the bottom of the pan, like in the picture below)
    • 1/2 Cup Red Millet flour/Ragi (Bob's Red Mill "Millet Flour")
    • 1-1/2 Tbsp Sugar
    • Stir in the Red Millet Flour to the pan that contains the milk solids.
    • Switch on the stove and keep stirring for a couple of minutes until the mixture is slightly warm.
    • Add the sugar. This will make the mixture slightly sticky.
    • Divide the mixture into 6-8 portions and squeeze the mixture with hands to form Ladoos.
      Enjoy with Black Tea/Coffee.


      Friday, December 3, 2010

      Basics: Homemade Clarified Butter "Ghee"

      Ghee,Clarified Butter is made by boiling unsalted butter( in a thick bottomed pan) and eliminating the foamy whey+ milk solids from butter.Even though Ghee is prevalently used in India they are also quite common in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia and few other countries. Unlike butter, Ghee neither burns easily nor have a short shelf-life. It doesn't have to be refrigerated either and can be stored up to 3 months. Many of the Indian dishes, especially sweets are made with ghee. And Ghee certainly has a fewer calories than butter. How rewarding!
      Ghee solidifies during cold weather. Melt it before using in any dish to unlock the aroma to its fullest.

      Some dishes from my kitchen with Ghee -- Fruit KesariRice Dumplings in Coconut Milk, Channa Masala, Cocoa N Saffron Vermicelli Pudding, Steamed Sweet Rice Dumplings "Kozhukattai" and of-course Ghee Rice.

      Question: What do you do with the milk solids settled at the bottom of the pan? My next post will be on what I did with it.
      Ingredients(Makes ~ 3/4 Cup):
      • 8 Ounces(2 Sticks/ 1 Cup) "Unsalted" Butter
      • 1 Stalk Curry Leaf, cleaned and patted dry with paper towel (Optional)
      • Thick Bottomed Steel Pan like All-Clad or Kadai (Indian Wok)
      • Steel Strainer
      • Start off by melting 2 sticks of butter in a thick bottomed pan.
      • Keep the heat at medium-low. Keep stirring occasionally and push the foamy whey  to the sides of the pan.
      • The foamy whey bubbles to the top and most of them settle at the bottom of the pan after 10 minutes of simmering.
      • Switch off the stove and throw in the stalk of curry leaf(if using). Let it cool completely.
      • Skim the foamy whey and the curry leaf stalk on top and carefully strain the golden brown "Clarified Butter" into a storage jar/cup without disturbing the milk solids settled at the bottom.
      • Use the ghee to make sweets, curries or biryani.
      Makes ~3/4 Cup of Ghee


      Thursday, December 2, 2010

      Gujarathi Vegetarian Medley "Undhiyo" With Roasted Chestnuts

      Did I tell you that I am loving Anjum's New Indian cookbook and enjoying it to the fullest?  First there was the Goda Masala followed by the Maharashtrian Style Chicken Curry spiced with Goda Masala and now this. This curry is like nothing I have ever tasted before.  What a splendid combo of vegetables, spices and nuts. It was such a hit in the house. For this recipe though, I picked my own choice of vegetables and added something new - Roasted Chestnuts.

      I don't know anyone who could be more addicted to hot roasted chestnuts than me. If you have no clue how to roast them in a oven, here is a step-by-step post that shows you how. For those of you who haven't tasted it before, its almost similar in taste to roasted jack-fruit seeds. Yum!
      • 3 Medium Gold Potatoes
      • 2 Large Carrot
      • 4 Small Green Eggplants
      • 1 Medium Sweet Potato
      • 1/2 Cup Frozen Lima Beans
      • 1/4 Cup Frozen Green Peas
      • 10-12 Roasted Chestnuts
      • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
      • A pinch of Asafoetida("Hing")
      • 1/2 Tsp Fennel Seeds
      • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
      • Salt as needed
      For the Masala:
      • 1 Cup Spinach Leaves, packed
      • 1/4 Cup Mint Leaves
      • 1" Ginger, peeled
      • 2 large Garlic Cloves, skin removed
      • 2 Tbsp Coriander Powder
      • 1 Tsp Cumin Powder
      • 4 Tbsp Roasted Peanuts, shells and skins removed
      • 1 Tbsp Fresh or Frozen Coconut scrapings
      For Garnish:
      • 1 Tbsp Fresh or Frozen Coconut scrapings
      • 1 Tbsp Mint leaves, finely chopped
      • Coarsely grind all the ingredients under "For the Masala" using a blender. Set aside.
      • Peel the Potatoes, Sweet Potato and Carrot. Dice the potatoes and sweet potato.
      • Slice the carrots and remove the crowns from the eggplants. Quarter the eggplants.
      • Heat the oil in the pan, add the mustard seeds and hing. Once the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the ground masala and fry for 4-5 minutes till it starts emitting aroma.
      • Add the chopped root vegetables and eggplants. Pour a cup of water and add a dash of salt. Lid the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
      • Add the Lima beans, green peas and cook for 5 more minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked but firm.
      • Check for salt, spice and throw in the roasted chestnuts and stir gently.
      • Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped mint and grated coconut.
      • Serve on a bed of hot steaming rice.


      Wednesday, December 1, 2010

      Malaysian Lacey Crepe/Net Bread "Roti Jala"

      I first came to know about this gorgeous crepe dish from the blog of trio bloggers 3 hungry tummies a few months ago. Its been sitting in the bucket list of things I wanted to try while I was on the serious lookout for the "Roti Jala" Maker. Couldn't find it anywhere in the US, so decided to use Wilton's disposable piping bags with the smallest tip to make these elegant crepes. But the downside is that I had to make the batter a little thick cause even the smallest piping tip was big for dispensing the original runny batter. The other alternative is to use a buttermilk carton(as suggested by Lorraine of "Not Quite Nigella") but I find that challenging when it comes to evenly dispensing the batter. I am yet to try plastic squeeze bottles. But the best and easiest way is to get hold of that Roti Jala Maker. And if you guys get lucky make sure to send one my way. Capisce?
      Ingredients(For 12 Lacey Crepes):
      • 1-1/2 Cups Milk
      • 1-1/2 Cups Flour and 2-3 tsp more, if needed
      • 1 Egg, whisked
      • 1/2 Tsp Salt
      • 1 Tsp Oil
      • Mix the milk, eggs and oil in a small bowl.
      • Sift the flour and salt in a large bowl.
      • Add the milk-egg-oil mixture in a steady stream to the flour while vigorously mixing using a whisk to evenly  incorporate.The batter should look like something in the picture below.
      • Pour 2 ladles of batter into a piping bag that has the smallest tip attached to it. Use a cup or tip of the finger to bar the opening of tip to avoid leaks.
      • Heat a wide non stick skillet and give a good spray of olive oil. Start making patterns like the one in the picture below. 
      • Cook for a minute until its light brown on one side. Flip and cook the other side.
      • Repeat the procedure until you run out of batter.
      • The consistency of the batter solely depends on how small/large the dispenser hole is. Feel free to make the batter thinner or thicker if you find it difficult to dispense the batter to the skillet. 
      • This can also be filled with any savory or sweet stuffing.