Sunday, August 31, 2008

Savory Muffins

One of the first blogs I followed religiously was Jugalbandi. I'm left laughing at the jokes, wonder-struck at the photographs and in awe at their humanitarianism.

This is by far my favorite recipe of theirs. When I started to bake, Bee left a comment on my muffin post saying she was going to make a savory version. So I went to their blog to see if they had any recipes. And I found this one. Its soft and delicious and the crust was perfect. The blend of flavors is spot-on. Creamy soft goat's cheese, sweet roasted red peppers and delicious spring onions and garlic. And it leaves room for experimenting.


As does all their recipes. I love their recipe-writing because they answer almost all your unanswered questions before you even ask! For instance, in this post, I had a 12 muffin pan and had one empty spot and Bee had actually said in her post that if you have one empty spot, fill it halfway with water!! It was as close to reading my mind as I want to get!

I made no changes to the original recipe.


Thanks for a fabulous blog, Bee and Jai. This is off to Zlamushka for Tried and Tasted featuring Jugalbandi this month.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kung Pao Tofu

There are some restaurants and foods from the Bay Area that I miss terribly. One of them is Eliza's in San Francisco, which serves amazing Chinese food. Especially the Vegetarian Kung Pao with Tofu.

I thought of calling and asking for the recipe and telling them that I needed it to remain sane! :) But they are known for their rudeness and I wasn't sure they would speak to me for very long!

So I searched the Web and decided to put this recipe together on my own, trying to remember the ingredients that went into it.


Kung Pao Tofu and Broccoli
1 package Extra-Firm Tofu, sliced into bite-sized pieces
5-6 pieces of Broccoli, steamed but still firm
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
2 Spring Onions, chopped fine, green and white parts separated
1/4 cup Roasted Cashewnuts
8-10 dried Red Chillies, broken in half
1 tbsp Oil

Sauce:
Now this is the important part. I combed about 20 recipes and finally decided on Rasa Malaysia's sauce for Kung Pao Chicken.

1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
1 t dark soy sauce
1 t sugar
1/4 t black vinegar
2 T water
1 t corn starch

Toast the tofu pieces in a pan without oil, or bake in a 180 deg C oven for about 10-15 minutes until browned on all sides.


Heat about a tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok or wide pan until smoking hot. Add the garlic and give it a quick stir. Add the whites of the spring onion, stir once. Add the chillies and stir until you get a spicy aroma. Now add the cashewnuts and the broccoli. Another quick stir.

Now add the tofu and stir for a bit until everything is completely combined. Finally add the sauce. Stir until everything is coated and the sauce has thickened. Garnish with the spring onion greens.


It turned out to be great. Home made Kung Pao. I served it with steamed rice and a quick stir-fry of bok choy and sliced mushrooms.


This is off to Sia @ Monsoon Spice for JFI: Soya.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wild Lemon

On a recent vacation, I was fortunate to be able to go walking through some amazing vegetable and fruit gardens. They were growing everything from leeks to purple cabbage to pears. I brought home lots of pears and these fantastic wild lemons.


They look a lot like an orange, but are incredibly small (about the size of a golf ball), and very very sour. In Tamil, we call them "kadarangai" and they are usually pickled with lots of spice and oil. Delicious.


This is my entry to this month's Click: Citrus. Straight from the tree to the pickling jar!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tomato Rice

The rice, delicately flavored with fresh tomatoes and spices, is lovely just as it is. Or served with a little bit of thick yogurt. A huge favorite in our family, we need to have this every once in a while as simple comfort food.


Tomato Rice

1 cup Basmati Rice
1.5 cups Water
2 Tomatoes, blanched, skinned and ground
1 Onion, sliced fine
2 Green Chillies, chopped fine
1" piece Ginger or 1 tsp Ginger Paste
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Cloves
2 Cardamom pods

Grind the ginger, garlic, cloves and cardamom and keep aside.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the onion, chillies, ground spices and stir fry well, until the raw smell of the spices goes away, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste, water (enough water to cook the rice, taking into account the water from the tomatoes - about 1.5 cups), salt and mix well.

Cook until rice is done. Fluff with a fork. Simple and delicious spiced rice.

This is off to my dear friend, Sunshinemom of Tongue Ticklers for Food in Colours: Red.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Garlic Greens and Breakfast


After reading Bee and Jai's post on Jugalbandi about Garlic Greens, I started craving it. I mean, did you see that cheese log? Mmm. I have absolutely not a single ounce of a green thumb. I even killed a cactus when I was in college!

Not sure what to do, I made my daughter plant the garlic, hoping to trick the curse! And it worked. She is so delighted as well and waters it when she remembers. And today we jumped around the little patch of garden, because there were beautiful green leaves poking out of the ground. We even ate little bits of it right there in the garden!


We had scrambled eggs with cheese and garlic greens, toast and papaya for a complete breakfast.


I got the idea from Nupur's comment on the post. Thanks Nupur. It was just fabulous. And thanks, Bee and Jai, for that post - I might even try the potatoes next since I'm feeling ever so confident!

This is off to Latha at Masala Magic for WBB's combination breakfast for August. WBB was started by Nandita of Saffron Trail.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tempura and Flavored Dipping Salt

Recently I went to a Japanese restaurant whose specialty is soba noodles and soup. I asked if they had anything vegetarian and they looked at me almost kindly, as if to say, how sad that you can't eat our food. She said she'd check with the chef - I really really wanted to try the soba. But the chef said that all the broths were fish based, so that was out. And then he said he could make me some vegetarian tempura.

The fabulous plate of tempura arrived, but no fabulous dipping sauce. I asked for it, only to be told that all tempura dipping sauce is made with fish sauce in restaurants! I looked down to see that she had provided a dipping "salt". There were two kinds - green tea salt and sea salt. The green tea salt was superb!! I asked the chef and he said he just whizzes green tea leaves and salt together! Now, why didn't I think of making flavored salt?!

A week later, I had a craving for the tempura with the salt. And so this story ends here! I never realized how easy it is to make tempura - and I'm going to make it many times over - and have it with fabulous flavored salts. Mmm. You have to try this.


Tempura with Flavored Dipping Salt

For the Batter:
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1 cup very cold Water

Beat the egg. Add the water and mix. Now sift the flour into the egg mixture and combine lightly. Do not over mix. There'll be a few lumps but that's okay.


Good vegetables to use for tempura are carrot sticks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach. I tried okra too (hmm... not so good). You could experiment with most vegetables. And of course, shrimp tempura is a traditional favorite with the Japanese. Remember that vegetables take longer to cook than seafood when you deep fry.

Dip the vegetables in the batter and coat it very lightly. Now carefully deep fry in hot oil. This was the first time that I was deep frying anything! But the tempura was well worth it.

It was delicious! I served it with green tea salt and paprika salt. And my orange "squid" chopsticks!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Soup and Toast

If you haven't heard of the Taste and Create event, I can only introduce it as one of the most fun events in the blogosphere. Started by Nicole of For the Love of Food, it pairs random bloggers together and you get to make something from the other person's blog. It opens up your horizons, introducing you to some special blogs and amazing recipes.

This month I was paired with Mable Tan of Happee Monkee. She does some fantastic baking and lovely photographs. Her writing is light and interesting, and one can lose track of time reading up on her varied posts.

Lately, I've been trying to discover different kinds of soup, and so I had to try her Mushroom Soup with Pesto Toast. And I'm glad I did, because it was fabulous. I'm eating it right now and couldn't wait to write about it! Slurp!


Mushroom Soup
(check here for the recipe - I made a couple of small changes)

1 cup Mushrooms, sliced (I used button)
2 cups Water
2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Onion, sliced
1-2 tbsp Butter

Saute the garlic and onions in the butter until soft. Add the mushrooms and allow to soften. Add the water and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Process in batches in a blender until combined. Return to heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Pesto Toast

She makes a lovely spinach and basil pesto. I used spinach, pine nuts and parmesan. Spread the pesto on toast and sprinkle with parmesan. I let it melt in a toaster oven for about 5 minutes.


The soup was so great. I know I'm going to make it very often - my daughter loved it too. And the toast was a perfect accompaniment. We are enjoying our lovely lunch. Thanks!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Okra Curry

Pachadi in Tamil Nadu, usually involves yogurt with a vegetable and/or fruit and a tempering with mustard seeds and chillies. This is a Kerala Pachadi which is more a curry of vegetables. It's pretty unique.


Okra Pachadi

8-10 pieces of Okra, cleaned and chopped
Gingelly Oil (you could use any oil you have on hand - the gingelly oil just makes it more authentic)
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste, dissolved in 1 mug of water (OR) 1 large tbsp fresh tamarind
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1-2 tsp Chilli Powder
2 tbsp shredded Coconut
1 tbsp roasted Sesame seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Sugar

Seasoning: Mustard seeds and red chillies.

Fry the okra in a little gingelly oil on a saute pan. Add the tamarind, turmeric and chilli powder and allow to cook until the fresh smell of the tamarind disappears.

Grind the coconut, sesame and mustard seeds and add it to the cooking okra. Add salt and sugar.

In a separate pan, heat some mustard seeds with a tiny bit of oil. Add the red chillies. When the mustard begins to splutter, add this seasoning mixture to the okra curry.

Serve warm with rice or rotis.


This is off to Srivalli for her Curry Mela. The round-up is going to be one for the bookmarks!

Srivalli has started a Campaign to Heal by raising money for Lakshmi, a mother of 2 children, who desperately needs heart surgery. In India, without insurance, it is almost impossible to get a loan for major surgery, even when it is life-threatening. To find out how you can help, please see Srivalli's post.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Homemade Pasta

I've been wanting to try my hand at making pasta for a very long time. Ever since I got a little confident after baking bread at home. A friend gave me a pasta machine - which I had yearned for - but to my utter amazement, I never took it out of its box! After wanting it for 6 months, I'm still surprised that I never did take it out.

And then I saw this video and wondered why I had even wanted the machine. It looked so simple to make pasta even without a machine. And it was very simple. It really was! For anyone else who is as apprehensive as I was, do try it and you'll be as happy as I am!


Homemade Pasta

1 cup All-Purpose Flour OR 1/2 cup All-Purpose + 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 egg

Make a little mound of the flour and make a well in the center. Break an egg carefully into the well (as you can see from the picture, I wasn't very careful!).


Start by beating the egg with a fork while slowly incorporating the walls of the flour around until all the flour has been incorporated and it has come together into a dough. Pour the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest for 1/2 hour.


Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to as thin as possible. This is where the video was invaluable. It is amazing how well that chap rolls out the dough. I did a fairly good job.


With a sharp knife, cut the dough into the desired shape. I wanted tagliatelle, and so I folded the dough down from the top until the middle, and fold the bottom half until the middle, like so:

And then cut into pieces. To unravel, slide the knife down the underside of the pieces and lift the knife up.


Voila! Perfect pieces of tagliatelle. I tossed the uncooked pasta with some olive oil because I was scared that the pasta would clump together when cooked.


Throw the pasta into a pot of heavily salted boiling water. When they rise to the top, or after about 5-7 minutes, they're done. Drain and cook with preferred sauce or no sauce at all (like I did). I tossed it with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Delicious!


Here's another entry for DK's AWED: Italian!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bombay Grilled Sandwich

I first saw this sandwich on Delhi Belle's blog and followed her links to the Gourmet Cartographer. I 'googled' the sandwich and found it was very popular and a huge street food favorite. I just had to find out what the fuss was all about.


Bombay Grilled Double Decker Sandwich

3 slices Sandwich Bread (I used brown bread)
1/4 cup Chutney (grind together 1 cup cilantro leaves + 1/4 cup mint leaves + 1 green chilli + 1 tsp water)
1 Tomato, sliced thin
1 small Onion, sliced thin
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, sliced thin
1 Potato, boiled, peeled and mashed with a tsp of salt
2 tsp Chaat Masala
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated (I used Mozzarella)

Spread each slice of bread with butter on one side. Spread chutney over the butter. Sprinkle with chaat masala.

On one slice add the tomato and bell pepper slices. On the second slice, add the mashed potato and onion slices. Top both slices with the grated cheese.


Arrange the potato slice over the tomato slice (veggie sides up). Top the potato slice with the 3rd slice, chutney side down. Grill on a grill pan or use a sandwich maker. Its done when the cheese melts.

Serve with a spicy ketchup. If you can make it that far - I waited about 5 seconds before I ate it (and that was only because the cheese was so hot!). It was THAT good. Worth every word of all the fuss!

This is my submission for Waiter There's Something In My... Picnic. If anyone is bringing this to the picnic, it's going to be a huge hit.

I'd like to also send this to this month's SnackShots featuring Sandwiches!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Brownies

How would you describe a perfect brownie? Chewy, chocolate-y and scrumptious? Then I've found THE perfect brownie at Cooking with Amy. In her words:
In my preferred purist version I don't want them too dense and fudgy and I don't want them too cakey and fluffy.
I couldn't have said it better. I wanted a chewy cocoa brownie.


Perfect Brownies Every Time
(adapted from here)

1/2 cup Butter, melted
3/4 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
6 tbsp Cocoa
2 tbsp Oil
2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

Beat sugar and butter together until well blended and then add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition until the mixture looks smooth.

Now add the cocoa powder, vanilla essence and the oil. Mix well.

Mix the flour and the salt together. Add about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture at a time and mix well after each addition. At this point you could add about 1/2 a cup of chopped walnuts, but thats optional, and I personally want just the plain fabulous brownie.

Pour the mixture into a greased pan and bake for 20 minutes or so. Remove from oven and let it cool completely for 10 minutes. Slice into squares and serve warm with ice cream.


Life doesn't get much better than this.

Thank you, Amy. My friends and family thank you as well (can you hear the applause and cheers? :-) )

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pizza!

My family was ready to move out because I made pizza for 15 days straight. Sometimes twice a day. I was searching for the perfect pizza dough recipe, and my family, unwittingly became guinea pigs. Happy, satisfied guinea pigs.

Well, I finally found it at Deb's Smitten Kitchen. I tried it for another week - yes, almost everyday - changing ingredients and quantities to see if I could improve on it. But no, it was just amazing as is. The only change I made was adding a 1/2 tsp of sugar, and some herbs to the dough (but that part is completely optional).


Perfect Pizza
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
1/2 cup warm Water + 2 tbsp
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp dried Herbs of choice (I used Basil)
1/2 tsp Sugar

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the olive oil and water and combine to form a ball. Knead just until it forms a smooth dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm space until the dough has doubled in size. Remove and gently press the air out while forming the whole into a smooth ball. Cover again and leave alone for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to the maximum temperature (I heated it to 220 deg C). Roll out the dough to required thickness. I like mine thin. Add the toppings. Bake for 10 minutes.


Eat. Enjoy.

This is off to dear DK for AWED: Italian. Can't wait for the round-up, DK!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

English Muffin Loaf

Only after moving away and then back to India did I realize how Indians love sandwich bread. They don't like crusty, hard loaves or chewy bagels or baguettes or muffins! Or at least, they are not available anywhere. I miss(ed) English Muffins.

I missed, that is, until I came across this English Muffin Loaf recipe in one of my favorite blogs, More than Burnt Toast. Valli is a talented blogger who gives us some absolutely drool-worthy recipes. And it's not just the wonderful photographs, but the writing too.

I slightly altered the recipe, but very slightly.


English Muffin Loaf
(adapted from Bellini Valli at More than Burnt Toast)

1/2 T sugar
1/4 cup warm water (I used a little more than that)
1 packet Fast Rising Active Dry Yeast
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp baking soda

Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add yeast and let stand 10 minutes then stir well.

Combine milk and salt in saucepan. Heat over low heat until lukewarm. Add milk mixture to dissolved yeast.

Add 1 cup flour combined with baking soda. Mix until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour.

Pour the batter into a loaf pan, sprinkled with semolina. Sprinkle some semolina on top of the dough as well. Let it rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Bake at 200 deg C for 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool.


I sliced it up and we had it for breakfast - hot, buttered English muffins with poached eggs and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you Valli for a great recipe!


If you like English Muffins, you should also check out Nicole's post about traditional English Muffins over at For the Love of Food.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Spicy Parotta with Eggs

Parottas are different from the popular Indian paratha. Parottas are flaky rotis or layered breads, which are originally from the state of Kerala.

In India, street vendors often sell a spicy version of these parottas called Kothu Parotta. They are shredded and then tossed with spices, vegetables, eggs and most often, meat. I have tried to make a vegetarian version here with eggs. It's a great meal and one that is very popular in India.

Kothu Parotta with Eggs
(recipe originally from here)

5 Kerala Parottas, shredded into bite-sized pieces (frozen Kerala Parottas are sold in most Indian grocery stores. If you can't find it, use pre-made rotis or parathas. To make the parottas, here are two links I found very helpful - Foodie's Hope and Cinnamon Trail).

1 Onion, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
3 Eggs, beaten
2 Green Chillies, split lengthwise

1 tbsp Chilli Powder
1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Pepper powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Salt

3-4 Curry Leaves
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat some oil in a saucepan. Toss in the curry leaves, green chillies and onions and stir fry until onions are browned. Now add the ginger-garlic paste and powders. Stir fry until the raw ginger smell disappears.

Add the tomato and stir fry until the tomato is cooked. Pour in the beaten eggs and scramble with the mixture, until 3/4 done.


Add the salt and shredded parotta and mix to combine. Garnish with cilantro leaves.


This is a complete meal in itself and extremely addictive, so eat with care!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

If you haven't checked out Sweet + Simple Bakes, it's a great new site that is being hosted by Rosie and Maria. It promotes baking for amateurs and gets us to make the most delicious, simple bakes every month. Kinda like a Daring Bakers for those who have never baked, don't bake much or those professional bakers who just want to get back to the basics.

For this month's Sweet + Simple Bakes challenge, we got to make fabulous Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. I've made muffins before, but this was so good and so simple. The banana added a moistness to the muffins, which we loved.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
(recipe from Sweet + Simple Bakes)

3 very ripe Bananas
1/2 cup vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
1 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
½ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
150g (little more than 3/4 cup) Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC and line a muffin tin with muffin papers.

Mash the bananas and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs in with the oil.

Put the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl and mix in the beaten-egg-and-oil mixture, followed by the mashed bananas.

Fold in the chocolate chips, then spoon equal quantities into the prepared muffin tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.


It was delicious. As always. Thanks again, Rosie and Maria.