Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Easy Eggless and Moist Banana-Nut Bread

This has been sitting in the draft for sometime for the lack of a bright picture. I dunno, whenever I decide to make this bread the rain gods decide to bestow upon my town a downpour that quickly turns to deluge with nary a ray of sunshine for a bright picture.. By the time the sun decides to come out I have got no bread left! So what gives? Do dying bananas and rain have a connection?  Now why do I waste my "brain space" with that pointless question? I have no idea. Anyways, I doubled the recipe this time(although the recipe is for only ONE loaf) to ensure that I had some left when the blanket of gloom lifts off.

Picture1: taken on a bight sunny day. Picture2: taken on a gloomy day.No matter what, this is the best Banana Walnut Bread (sans Eggs).While I am not a professionally trained cook, I am extremely confident about quality and the taste-factor of all the dishes I post.After a decade of dabbling in the kitchen I sort of know my way around it and certainly know how to put a great meal together. While that holds true, I am not in the habit of "frequently" attaching adjectives like "Fantastic, Fabulous, Insanely-Good, Best-Ever" to my dishes because I am humble enough to know there is always someone in some-part of the world who can do it better. But I have to say I am badly itching to go over-board with all those adjectives and more for this bread. Base Recipe was taken from here.
Ingredients(Makes One 9X5-inch loaf):
  • 1-1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar (1/2 Cup if you want it Sweet)
  • 1/2 Cup Walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 2-1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Bob's Red Mill Flax-seed Meal
  • 3 Tbsp Hot Water
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Buttermilk
  • 3-4 Medium Very-Ripe "Cavendish/Chiquita" Bananas
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Sift both the flours, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.Add the salt and sugar and stir to combine.
  • Add the flaxseed meal to a small bowl along with the hot water. Stir to incorporate. Let it sit undisturbed for 10-12 minutes.
  • Peel and roughly mash the banana in a large bowl. To it add the melted butter, oil, flaxseed-water mixture, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Stir to combine.
  • Add the toasted and chopped walnuts.
  • Mix the dry ingredients with the wet, in small batches. Stir only till combined.
  • Grease the 9 X 5 inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pour the batter into the pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake at this temperature for 40 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 15 more minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. 
  • Cool it completely prior to slicing. Goes well with a cup of Black Coffee or Strong Tea.
Make sure to check couple of similar quick breads: Cocoa-Banana-Walnut Bread, Egg-less Strawberry Walnut Bread.

  • After cooling wrap it in cling wrap and refrigerate. It tastes better the next day. 
  • Can be refrigerated up-to a week

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hello Everyone! Meet Imogen, my kitchen assistant

Hey Everyone, I have a new assistant in the kitchen named Imogen(E-Mo-Juhn). With her sturdy arms and savvy ways, she is here to make mixing and kneading a breeze! She comes in a sexy package,an alluring shade of purple that gives my kitchen the much needed face-lift. Why did I choose her? Purple is the gorgeous lovechild of vibrant red and cool blue. Well, Purple screams royalty!And that wasn't the reason why I chose it. Arrrgh! I really don't have an exact reason why I chose this color. I mean, I had to choose one and this color seemed as good as any. Yeah,they all are good and at par with one another! That was the problem.

While I am "unable" to pinpoint why I chose this shade, I can with (LoL) "somewhat-certainty" tell you why I didn't choose the ones that I came this "--> <-- " close to choosing. Okay, serious considerations were given to Candy Apple Red(which happens to be my favorite color) but its too common, found in many many kitchens. Black(my second favorite color), but that wouldn't co-exist or pop in my kitchen. Raspberry Ice, too girly and so gorgeous but my son may not want it after I kick the bucket!Silver Metallic, to match with all the other stainless steel appliances in my kitchen but I want Imo to not blend but hold her own. Gloss Cinnamon, so warm and reminds one of fragrant freshly baked Cinnamon Apple pies but it wasn't a standout..After going back and forth like a gazillion times I finally decided on Boysenberry.

Umm, this is not a brag post although Kitchen-aid Mixers deserve that and more. But I am so happy with this new addition to my kitchen. She and I have just started a sweet/savory journey and I see plenty of breads, cakes and bakes in the future.

Kitchen-aid in Aqua Sky from Martha Stewart's collection(a possible successor, if something does happen to Imo, which is highly unlikely!) I know, I know. I am confused with what I want next. So many gorgeous colors and its so easy to get befuddled!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eggplant Chettinad "Chettinad Kathirikaai Kara Kuzhambhu", the Phoenix Post??

What should I call this post? A re-post?? A Phoenix post or The return of the Vanishing post? I think calling this a re-post is appropriate since it did come back with my intervention. No thanks to you Blogger! For new peeps who don't know what I am talking about, this post was initially posted about a week ago and it was cruelly/mercilessly Finished-off/Finito/Remato when Blogger was taken down for some major house-keeping and has been MIA since then. I was wishing and hoping for its comeback but it didn't happen. So I aided in its coming back. Are we clear?
Question to all you mommy peeps - what did you do, what did you get and where did you go out for lunch/dinner on Mother's Day? My day started off with my son coming to wish me shyly and to give me a bear-hug. That was the best part. Breakfast was a quick affair since we had to hit the road to visit my mom, sister and aunt. The menfolk decided that us ladies need to be taken to one of the finest South Indian Specialty Restaurant in town..After a lengthy debate we unanimously decided to go "Anjappar Chettinad" in North Brunswick, NJ. Since it was Mother's day and all, it was first come first serve basis which meant that we had to wait for the tables. Even though we anticipated a wait, we didn't expect to wait nearly an hour to get tables for twelve of us. By then I was so hungry I could have eaten a horse. Even my fussy son asked me if he could have some food. Me and hubby were taken aback at that request, in a pleasant way of-course! The menu card was scanned in a hurry-burry and a few appetizers were selected to whet our appetites. Seriously, our appetites were overworked as it was, we were ready to dive into the main course but we had to order the appetizers since our Entree` was going to take a while to be made.
So here is what I 'sampled' at Anjappar: Appetizers(Chicken 65, Gobi 65, Chicken Lollipop), Main dish(Flaky Parotta with Naatu Kozhi Kuzhambhu "Free Range Chicken Gravy", Mutton Biryani, Fish Biryani Chicken Biryani with Raita and Tamarind-y side), Dessert(Mango Lassi). After indulging in a healthy dose of gluttony, I proclaim Chicken 65,  "Parotta" and "Mutton Biryani" as the winner(s) cause they certainly tickled my taste-buds. So anyone in the vicinity of North Brunswick, NJ definitely check out this restaurant. You will be thanking me for pointing to you this little gem of a place.
So what did I get for Mother's Day? Nothing yet but my hubby decided to get me the 5Qt Artisan Retro-styled Kitchen-Aid Stand mixer in whatever color I choose. I bet it will be well worth the wait. :-). Don't you think so? With so many colors to choose from, I am spoiled for choice! If money or space wasn't an issue I would want one of each. Talk about greedy! LoL.
Update: Well, its been a week since I wrote that. I eventually did choose my KA in a color of my liking and even had it delivered from Macy's yesterday. Heads-up: My next post is going to be all about my new Kitchen-aid. You will know the color, name and how pretty she is etc etc.
Anyways, here is something relevant to the post:: So What is Chettinad Cuisine?I have briefly mentioned about this cuisine in my "Chettinad Chicken Chukka" post. Check it out if you are curious! Base recipe is from here.
  • 24 Small purple or Thai green Eggplants
  • 1 Golf-ball sized Tamarind, cleaned and soaked in warm water
  • 3-4 Tbsp Canola Oil
For the Masala Powder:
  • 2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Red Lentils
  • 2 Tbsp Split Chickpea "Bengal Gram"
  • 3 Dry Red Chilies
  • 2 Tbsp White Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Stalk Curry Leaves
For the Masala Paste (Masala powder + other ingredients, will be used as Stuffing):
  • 1 Recipe "Masala Powder" (the one above)
  • 3 Tbsp Grated Coconut
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Little water to make a "Thick" paste
For the Base Gravy:
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 Green Chili, vertically slit
  • 1 Stalk Curry Leaf
  • Make the "Masala Powder": Add the Bengal Gram, Red Lentil, Coriander Seeds, Dry Red Chili, Sesame Seeds (in the order mentioned) to pan in 1 minute intervals and dry fry them until they start emitting aroma. Add the curry leaves at the end and switch off the stove.
    • Cool the ingredients and grind them to a fine powder.
    • Make the Masala Paste: To the blender that has the "Masala Powder", add grated coconut, turmeric powder and little water. Grind it to a thick paste. This is the paste that will be used to stuff inside the eggplants.
    • Add a tbsp of oil the a french skillet and fry the onions. Once the onion is browned, add the slit green chili to the pan. Fry for a minute or so.
    • Throw the chopped tomatoes to the pan and fry until the tomatoes start to shrink. Move this mixture to a plate and let it cool completely.
    • Meanwhile quarter the eggplants, keeping the crown intact. Stuff 1/2 tsp of "Masala Paste" into the eggplants carefully using fingers.
    • Add a tbsp of oil to the pan and brown the eggplants for 3-4 minutes in high heat constantly and gently moving them about the pan. Remove the eggplants to a plate.
    • Grind the fried "Onion-Tomato-Chili" mixture with little water.
    • Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil to the skillet, pour the ground mixture and bring to a boil with little water for 5 minutes. Add the leftover "stuffing mixture/masala paste" to the pan(there definitely will be leftovers).
    • Extract thick pulpy juice from the Tamarind with 1 Cup water. Discard the pith and seeds. Pour the tamarind juice into the pan and add 1/2 cup water or so. Add salt and additional chili powder, if you need a spicier version. Drop the eggplants gently into the gravy.
    • Lid the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the eggplants are soft but retaining the shape and the gravy is relatively thickened.
    • Spoon the "Eggplant Chettinad" over hot steaming rice and serve it with a mild (dry) curry (one that doesn't overpower this prep) and boiled egg.
    •  Make Ahead Pointers: Both the Masala Powder and Masala Paste can be made a day in advance to cut back on the lengthy preparation time, which is what I always do.

    Check out the Blogging Marathoners doing BM#5:
    Curry in a hurry under 30 min: Cool Lassi(e), Harini, Kalyani, Priya Mahadevan, Suma
    Seven Days of Colorful Dishes Kid's Special: Priya Suresh, Veena,
    Seven Days of Indian Sweets: Shylaja, Srivalli
    Seven Days of Regional Specials: Priya Yallapantula
    Under 15 mins Quick Breakfast:Aarthi, Vaishali

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Creole Seasonings

    Winter may be long gone but I am not ready to give up on Winter vegetables -- especially Sweet Potato and Pumpkin. This past winter I have been eating more than my fair share of sweet potatoes in one or the other form -- as a curry, a stuffing for a curried bun, a muffin or even in a lasagna "Chatti Pathiri". I never get tired of this versatile veggie that is a nutritional powder house with so many anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that any one of the health site would tell you about. I had this with "Beet Burgers" that I had posted a couple of weeks ago.
    The "seasonings combo" for this fry is my very own and if you like the sweet and savory taste, like me, then this recipe is for you. The heat comes from the Creole Seasonings as well the Cracked Pepper. Add more or less of it as you see fit.
    • 3 Small Sweet Potatoes
    • 1 Tbsp Konriko MSG free Creole Seasoning
    • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds, toasted
    • 1/4 Tsp Cracked Pepper
    • 3-4 Garlic Cloves, roughly smashed with skin
    • 2 to 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • Salt as needed (very little since the Creole Seasonings have salt in it as well)
    • 1 Tsp Vegetable Oil for greasing the Baking Sheet
    • Large Plastic Bag
    • Oven-safe baking sheet
    • Peel the Sweet Potatoes, cut them into thick sticks and soak them in warm water for 10 minutes. This helps remove some of the starch and makes them crispy.
    • Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl.
    • Drain the sweet potatoes and completely dry them in a kitchen towel.
    • Move the Sweet Potatoes into a plastic bag along with the mixed seasonings and give it a good shake so the sticks are coated with seasonings.
    • Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil, grease with vegetable oil and arrange the sticks in a single layer without over-crowding. Over-crowding makes the fries soggy.
    • Bake at 425 degrees F for "approximately" 22-25 minutes. It all depends on the thickness of the sticks.Keep a close eye once you start seeing the tips of the fries getting browned
    Serves 3.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Chicken In Pickling Spices "Achari Murg"

    Day7 of BM#5:: Someone from the BM team was asking me why I am posting vegetarian posts when I happen to be a meat-eater. Well, I dunno. Most of the days I am content eating vegetables, greens and beans. I make an exception when hubby asks for turkey, shrimp or chicken. The last time he asked for chicken curry, which was a couple of weeks ago or so, I made this for him. He gave such rave reviews that I made it again when my sister and her hubby came for a visit. BIL sung praises about this curry and demanded the recipe. I couldn't  help bubbling with pride for my latest creation..ahem "adapted creation". The base recipe is from here.
    So this posts brings the conclusion of 7 days of Curry madness. Enjoyed it very much but not as much as the last time due of Blogger putting a damper on things..So for those of you who haven't been following, here it is-
    Day1: Edible Gherkin and the London Gherkin
    Day2: Paneer Butter Masala/ Paneer Makhani "Lite"
    Day3: Beet, Onion and Cilantro Curry + Poop Watching
    Day4: Eggplant Chettinad (Will be re-posted. Looks like Blogger won't be returning this afterall!)
    Day5: Skillet Cauliflower With Green Peas/Lima Beans
    Day6: Bengali Chachodi - A pan-fried vegetable medley
    Day7: Chicken in Pickling Spices "Achari Murgh

    • 4 Chicken Thighs, skins removed, cleaned and halved
    • 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil 
    • 2 Green Chili, slit vertically
    • 1 Ripe Medium Tomato
    • 1/4 Cup Water or slightly more
    • Salt as needed
    For the Thick Marinade:
    • 1" Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
    • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
    • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
    • 2 Dry Red Chili
    • 1 Tsp Peppercorns
    • 1 Stalk Curry leaves
    • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
    • 1-1/2 Tsp Olive Oil
    • 1/2 Tsp Salt
    • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder
    For Tempering:
    • 1 Tbsp Oil
    • 1 Stalk Curry Leaves
    • 1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
    • 1/8 Tsp Fennel Seeds
    • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
    • Dry Roast all the ingredients under the thick marinade except the Olive Oil,Salt, Turmeric Powder and Lemon juice. Roast until the seeds and spices on a medium flame until it emits a nice aroma. Add the curry leaf at the very end of roasting.
    • Grind the roasted ingredients to a powder consistency. It should neither be coarse nor fine. Mix this ground mixture with the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Turmeric Powder and Salt. Add it to the cut and cleaned chicken. The chicken should be drained completely and dried with paper towel.
    • Mix and coat the chicken with the ground marinade. Let it rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
    • Warm 2-3 Tbsp of Oil in a skillet and add the chicken along with the green chili. Using tongs flip the chicken so the oil coats all sides.
    • Cut the tomato, remove seeds and puree it. Pour it over the chicken and fry for 5 minutes.
    • Sprinkle water and salt "as needed" (keeping in mind that there was salt in the marinade) and lid the skillet. Cook for 10 minutes or so.
    • Cook the remaining time without the lid until the moisture completely evaporates.
    • Switch off stove after all the moisture is evaporated.
    • In a small pan, heat a tbsp of oil and temper all the ingredients under "tempering". Pour it over the chicken.
    • Serve it warm with Rice.
    Also check out the Blogging Marathoners doing BM#5:
    Curry in a hurry under 30 min: Cool Lassi(e), Harini, Kalyani, Priya Mahadevan, Suma
    Seven Days of Colorful Dishes Kid's Special: Priya Suresh, Veena,
    Seven Days of Indian Sweets: Shylaja, Srivalli
    Seven Days of Regional Specials: Priya Yallapantula
    Under 15 mins Quick Breakfast:Aarthi, Vaishali