Sunday, May 30, 2010

Congratulations

My friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, I think she is a week old now!



This is for my friend who got married recently, well it is going to be their one year anniversary soon. And no, the family in the frame is not THEM!

Green peas-tuvar lilva pesto



Every time I have an aha moment about something ingenious that I concoct, I just have to type a few keywords from my concoction and behold...someone has already done it. This recipe today is also borne out of one of those humbling times- agreed I am not the most inventive cook but hey I cannot help it if other people think like I do, only they had done it ages ago!

Here is a recipe for an really wonderful pesto with green peas and tuvar lilva (green pigeon peas), adapted from here

Ingredients

2 cups frozen peas
1 cup frozen green pigeon peas (tuvar lilva, the skin is still on and that adds taste to the pesto)
2 cloves garlic
3-4 tbsp grated sharp white cheddar
a handful of pine nuts, toasted
1 cup basil (roughly chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli-garlic paste.

Method

Process everything in a blender- I did not stream the olive oil in so the pesto was not all that emulsified.

That is all- serve it on your favorite pasta or sandwich- I served it on spaghetti with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated mozzarella.

Judgement

It was a bright green scoop of heaven- LOVED IT! I am sending this to Susan's MLLA#23.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cream Puffs for the daring kind

Wow, it is amazing how last minute things can get but lucky for me this daring baker's challenge was not only super fun, it was fairly easy (if you discount my 2 tries before this one-and I knew exactly what went wrong both times) and super delicious.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

For Cream Cheese-almond butter filling
1/2 cup softened cream cheese (I uesd whipped cream cheese)
1/2 almond butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix these ingredients well and then fold in 1/3 cup whipped cream. Chill until it is ready to use

For Nutella-Whipped cream filling

Fold 2/3 cup whipped cream into 1/2 cup Nutella and chill until use

For Pate a Choux (Yield: About 14)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup +2 tbsp water
3 Tbsp Organic unsalted butter
1/8 Tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 egg white+ 1 tbsp water+a pinch salt- whisk lightly, this for brushing the choux so that they get nicely browned

Method
Pre-heat oven to 425F/220C degrees. Line a big baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter
 
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg.

Brush with the egg mixture

Piping
 
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip or use a ziploc and snip off the tip. Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Baking
 
Bake the choux at 425F/220C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350F/180C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Filling
 
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.


For Chocolate Glaze
 
4 ounces/100 g. finely chopped best quality Dark chocolate(with at least 60% cocoa)

Method
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

To assembly of your Piece Montée
 
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up.

When you have finished the design of your piece montée,dip the berries in chocolate and fill in along the gaps, you may drizzle with remaining glaze and use ribbons,almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. 


Judegement

Even though I was disappointed that my vegan version failed to puff up nicely, I am glad I gave the original recipe a try- its simplicity puts it on the list of things-I-can-definitely-make-often. The best part one can go crazy on the filling- you can start by browsing the DB page, do check it out and you too go crazy, eh!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Saturday lunch at home,

after a really long time. I forget what we usually do on Saturdays, when my mom was visiting we used to have some sort of brunch at home (the idli, dosa kind) but then I never made anything when ma was here!


Sour Sindhi kadhi, and I thought it was going to taste like the usual- boy I could not have been more wrong. A beautiful recipe I found here- the only modifications were to the veggies I added.

Ingredients

3 tbsp. Gram Flour (Besan)
3/4 cup Red Gram Lentils (Arhair Ki Dal) 
 3 medium Potatoes (each potato cut in 4 pieces
16 oz bag frozen Cauliflower 
1 green pepper, cut into big pieces 
3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
½ tsp. Turmeric Powder (Haldi) 
Salt (to taste)  
2 cups of tamarind (about 1 lemon-size ball of tamaring, pulp extracted)-tomato (2 tomatoes, pulp extracted) water (leftover from when ma made rasam)
2 tbsp. Cooking Oil 
3 cups Water

For Temepering

1 tsp. Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)  
1tsp. Onion Seeds (Kalonji)
Green Chillies (to taste) (slit lengthwise)  
1 bunch of Fresh Cilantro/Coriander Leaves(finely chopped)  
1 tsp. Mustard Seeds 
1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 tsp. Red Chilli Powder (or to taste)
A pinch of Asafoetida Powder 
2 tbsp. Cooking Oil
Method
Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a pan. Add Gram flour. And fry until it is a few shades darker & smells fragrant. Add turmeric powder, 3 cups of water and salt to taste. Keep stirring until it comes to boil. 
 
In the mean time boil the red gram lentils and whisk them properly. Add this to the kadhi. Fry the  potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and green pepper. Add the vegetables to the kadhi. Bring it to a boil, cook until all of the vegetables are done. 
 
Then add the tamarind-tomato extract  (the amount of tamarind here is more than what the original recipe calls for) and cook until it thickens a little bit.
Tempering
Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a pan. When oil gets hot add asafoetida powder (heeng), mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds, red chilli powder and curry leaves. When the seeds start to splutter, pour it in the kadhi.
Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice

Judgement
Fantastic, as soon as I added the tamarind, it all came together. With the tempering, especially onion seeds, this dish was absolutely divine! And I think it tasted better as it aged... Since the hero, for me anyway was the tamarind- I am sending this to Think Spice: Think Tamarind event started by the the wonderful Sunita Bhuyan and hosted by an equally lovely Padmajha.
This beautiful dish was accompanied by a gorgeous peerkanga- thenga thuvaiyal, ma's handiwork and strawberry-orange fool for dessert

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some new pieces of jewelry

With agate focal piece, for my mom...



with sterling silver heart, also for my mom!




Most of these are finds from the Bead bazzar that happened in Marlborough, MA

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pehaps a desi version,


perhaps not!
This recipe was inspired by the event Global kadai, the theme being Indian burritos. I obviously did not make it on time for the event but my life does not revolve around food events now, does it?!

Ingredients
1 cup dried green peas, soaked for a few hours in water
1 green and red pepper, diced into small pieces
1 tsp amchoor
1 tsp garam masala
1 inch ginger
2 small green chillies
a pinch turmeric powder
salt to taste
egg, optional (or any other binding agent you can think of)

2 whole onions, thinly sliced and caramelized with a little bit of brown sugar

Method

Mince ginger and chop green chillies- make a coarse paste out of ginger and chillies using a mortar and pestle.
Pressure cook the dal with some salt and turmeric powder (I let it go for 4-5 whistles). 
In a bowl, add the veggies, mashed dal, the coarse ginger-chilli paste, all the spices and salt.
Mix until everything is combined well.
Now here is where you would add an egg to form a nice cutlet/patties/burgers but since my mom does not eat eggs, I decided to leave it out and well the end result, lets just say it was cutlet-like.
Make nice small burgers and either shallow fry them or grill them- both should work (I had to grill them since without the egg/binding agent everything was falling apart while frying)

Assembling the rolls
I used whole wheat tortillas- 
Fill them up the burgers, top it off some caramelized onions and any sauce you might like or even cheese- oh yeah I had mine with some nice sharp cheddar!

Judgement- While the taste was alright (I was a little afraid about the dried peas, they usually have a strong taste) but in these rolls with so many flavors, they were perfect. Would have really like nice round burgers instead of crumbles. Oh well, a girl has got to try right?!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Did we skip the two seasons?

I associate the orange vegetables with fall/autumn, and please do not ask me why- but I know these veggies I have used here love the slightly chilly climates. 

What is not to love about soups-easy to make healthy one pot wonders that are easy to digest! You can read more about the history of soups here, quite an interesting read, might I add. So here we go with this recipe

Roasted butternut squash- roasted carrot soup

Ingredients

1 cup chopped butternut squash (I used the chopped frozen ones)
2 cups carrots, sliced into 2 inch pieces (carrots shrink in the oven, so do not cut them into small pieces)
1 bunch scallion, chopped- keep the white and green parts separate
2 inch piece ginger
1/4 onion, chopped finely
2 tsp dill seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1-2 tsp of the versatile chilli-garlic paste
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Mix the squash and carrots with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Line them up on a baking sheet and bake in the oven preheated to 400F (mine took about 40 minutes). Once done, cool the veggies and puree them, use vegetable stock to dilute it (I used a blender, you could also use an immersion blender).

In the meantime- heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a dutch oven or any heavy bottomed pan, add dill and fennel seeds and roast for about 10 seconds. Now add onions and the white part of spring onions, sprinkle in some salt and cook them until they are translucent and may be even a bit browned. Add ginger and fry for a minute or two. Add in the pureed veggies, salt, chilli-garlic paste and pepper- add more stock or water whichever you prefer, cook for about 5-7 minutes. Taste it and season if necessary. In the end mix in the lemon juice and garnish with green part of spring onions. 

Serve hot with a nice big yummy dollop of sour cream!

Judgement

Mm mm mm..yes it tasted fab folks, my mom thought it was sweet but as for me liked it a lot, too bad there was not enough for seconds! I loved the rich, complex flavors- could taste the spicy ginger and the sweet carrots.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Red, brown-


chutneys galore...
Welcome to my world of experimentation- I am sure all of us have at some point made roasted red pepper chutney with peanuts, onions and ginger. That is what the red/orange chutney is on my photograph. The other chutney though was created in utter frustration to make and eat something totally different. Mom says "lets make sambhar and coconut chutney, goes well with idlis" and I go "nah, boring!". 
Instead here is what I came up with: Zucchini and sesame seed chutney

Ingredients

1 medium-sized zucchini, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted/browned in a little bit of oil
1-2 dried red chillies
2 tsp urad dal
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 small piece of tamarind
1 tbsp dried coconut powder
salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Method

In a pan, heat about 1tbsp of oil. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, urad dal and red chillies- roast for a few seconds (TEMPERING). Take it off heat and reserve half of it- the rest goes in the blender.
In the same pan- heat another tablespoon of oil, add the onions and fry them until they become translucent. Add chopped zucchini, and cook for a few minutes after which add the coconut powder, tamarind- cook until the smell of dried coconut/copra is faded away and the tamarind is soft (should take about 5-7 minutes). Once it is all done, take it off the stove, cool for a few minutes. This mixture goes in the blender along with the browned sesame seeds and salt. 

Grind it to smooth chutney like consistency. Towards the end add the remaining mixture of the tempering and grind it such that you can still see fine pieces of the urad dal and mustard seeds (gives it a nice look)

Judgement

While I did love the flavors, think the sesame was overpowering, one tablespoon would have been enough. I liked it even more the day after it was made- the flavors mixed very well. My mom on the other hand did not like it at all! So I guess it could be a split vote on this one, try it and let me know.