Sunday, October 28, 2012

Popeye Pie

We mothers know how difficult it is to make our little ones have some veggies. When Aishwarya was small, Popeye was a big help in getting some greens into her mouth. She used to love that program so much that she used to eat spinach with no complaints. And thanks to that, she still continues to love spinach in whatever form. So when I came across this recipe  with her childhood hero's name, and with spinach as the main ingredient, I never had a second thought in trying this out. And guess what, this turned out to be quite a hit.

20 oz. spinach, chopped (I used frozen)
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tbs. butter, melted
1 large onions (about 3 cups), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz. cottage cheese
1/2 lb. phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
Saute onions in 2 tbsp.olive oil until lightly golden. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. If using frozen spinach, squeeze as much moisture out of thawed spinach as possible and then separate the clumps. Stir in spinach and all herbs and spices into the onions and cook out all remaining moisture. Remove the spinach mixture from the heat and taste it. It should taste spicy but the salt should be on the lower side as the feta cheese will add additional saltiness.
Once the mixture cools slightly, stir in the eggs and cheeses. Line one 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and  combine remaining oil and butter. Lightly brush the bottom of  the foil-lined pan with fat mixture. Cut the phyllo sheets to fit your pan and layer 1/2 of the sheets into the pan, brushing every 3rd layer with the oil/butter mix.  Put the spinach mixture and  press firmly into a solid layer. Top with remaining phyllo sheets, again brushing every 3rd layer with butter and oil.  Place pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove pie from freezer and (cut only through the top layer of phyllo, dividing the pan into 6 sections). I forgot this step when baking this but, this will make it easier to make clean cuts later.
Bake the  pie at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until top layer of phyllo is browned.
If you want you can freeze the pie  and  bake without thawing at 350 for 60-90 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aval Vilayichathu

When I think of a traditional Kerala snack, Aval Vilayichatu is the first thing that comes to my mind. This is an easy to make, delicious treat that my mom used to make when we were kids. During my college years, when I would be returning after holidays my mom used to make this for me to take it back to my place. Though she used to make it in large quantities to last me for a few days, this was so much in demand with my friends and roomies that we would finish it off in a day or two. This is also made as an offering in some of the Kerala temples as well. I especially remember getting this as the "prasadam" at the temple on the Vijayadasami day.

2 cups rice flakes/aval/poha
1 cups grated jaggery
1/2 cup water
1 heaped cup fresh,grated coconut
2 tsp ghee
1 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs coconut slivers
3/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder (optional)
Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wide pan. Now fry the coconut slivers and sesame and set aside. Dry roast the rice flakes and set this aside.
Make a jaggerry syrup by adding about half a cup of water.Strain it to get rid of the impurities. Add the grated coconut to this and cook till all the water evaporates. Add a teaspoon of ghee and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
If you want this to last for a few days, you may make it dryer and store in airtight, dry containers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ragi 'N Rice Idli

I love dosas any day, but the days I feel like having a healthier alternative, I go for Idli. On top of that, when I want some more nutrition in my diet, yet don't want any compromise on the  taste of  the original Idli,  I  go for these. Ragi or finger millet is a rich source of iron and calcium.In Kerala, where I am from, this is one of the first solid foods (Porridge) that a baby is fed. But other than using as a baby food, this isn't used much. But knowing its nutritional value I am on a venture to include this more and more into our regular diet. If you are also on such a mission you may also try my Ragi dosa .
1  cup Ragi flour/ finger millet
1 cup Idli rice/ idli rawa
1 cup Urad dal / black lentil
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Salt as required
Soak the rice,fenugreek and  urad dal for about 4 to 6 hours.If using idli rawa soak it 30 minutes before you plan to make the batter.Drain and grind the rice/rawa, fenugreek  urad dal to a smooth paste adding enough water .Add in the ragi flour  and mix well. The final consistency should be that of  a pancake batter. Allow it to ferment over night or for 8 hours or till the batter doubles.If its a cold day or night for fermenting keep it in the oven with the lights on.Before making idli add salt and  mix.  Pour the batter into greased  idli plates and steam like normal idlies for about 11 minutes. Once cooked and cooled remove carefully with a spoon. Serve hot with sambar and chutney of your choice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Easy Tiramisu

Today I turned a year younger- ahem! a year older  :).This is what Jai made to make this already special day sweeter.As per our  family tradition b'day cakes or desserts are always made by the family, but Aishwarya stayed away from making this as she had sniffles and didn't want to pass it on to us.As my birthday fell on Tuesday which is a working day Jai chose to this make this Tiramisu, which had to be made ahead, on Sunday. It was a bit hard on us to wait two days to take a bite into this.The wait was well worth it, it was delicious as anticipated.This is an easy recipe if you can get all the ingredients and doesn't require any cooking.
1 (7-oz.) pkg. ladyfingers, bakery fresh or store-bought
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
3 tbs. instant coffee
1cup water, room temperature
3/4 cup Kahlua, or similar coffee flavored liqueur
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Lightly spray 8X8-inch glass Pyrex baking dish with vegetable spray.
Whip softened cream cheese and sugar on medium to high speed until smooth and creamy. Add milk and vanilla .Whip heavy whipping cream on high speed until stiff. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture with spatula and blend well. Beat again until fluffy.
In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in room temperature water. Add Kahlua, stir and set aside.
one at a time, quickly dip only the bottoms of the ladyfingers into Kahlua. Place the soaked side down and line the entire bottom of the pan with ladyfingers. The ladyfingers soak up the Kahlua very quickly, so be careful not to dip them too long.Spread half the cream cheese over the ladyfingers using an off-set spatula or plastic spatula. Sprinkle or dust with 1/4 cup cocoa.
Repeat with the rest of the ladyfingers in Kahlua and place on top of the cream. Spread the remaining cream cheese mix evenly on top. Sprinkle remaining cocoa over the tiramisu.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours or overnight. You may need to use a few toothpicks to keep the plastic from sticking to the tiramisu. Before serving garnish more if you like.
Use a sharp, thin knife to cut into pieces. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Crustless Spinach Quiche

When you don't have the time to make a pastry crust, try this quick crustless quiche.You won't miss the crust as this is tasty as is. I have Indianised it by adding curry powder to suit our palette,if you are looking for a milder version just leave out the curry powder.
 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 1 onion, chopped
 5 cloves of garlic minced
 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
 5 eggs, beaten
 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 tsp curry  powder
 8 cherry tomatoes/2 medium tomatoes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and  garlic cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Add the curry powder and saute for 10 more seconds.Add tomatoes and spinach continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.
In a large bowl, combine eggs,Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan.Top it with pepper jack cheese.
Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Sending this over to Cooking made Easy  happening at Anjali's space

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dry Fruits Cinnamon Focaccia

I was on a search for a new dish to try out.When I found this recipe for sweet Focaccia I didn't have to think further on what to make. The reasons why I stopped my search there were: 1) It had cinnamon,which I love so very much and 2) it was a sweet dish. As usual I have added a few twists to the recipe to personalize it.The end result was one delicious Focaccia. Thank you Achu for this delectable bread.
Recipe Adapted from Tangy Minds
1 cup Lukewarm water
1/2 Tbsp Active dry yeast
2 cups All purpose flour
1and1/2 tsp Gluten
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1/8 cup Butter, melted
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar
Raisins and cranberry as required
In a large mixing bowl mix flour,gluten and salt. Mix yeast  1 tsp sugar  and water. After 5 minutes add this to flour mix and Stir with a spoon until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.
Cover dough and let rise for 1 hour.Pour onto greased cookie sheet.With greased hands, spread dough on the cookie sheet. Using your knuckles spread dough out forming holes in the dough. Brush melted butter onto bread.Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar and brown sugar,add a raisin or a cranberry into each hole in the dough.Rest this for 15 minutes.Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for about 12 minutes or until bread is golden brown.Drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze or spread with cream cheese frosting.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Last week it was surprisingly hot in the Bay Area. Even though this is early fall, temperatures soared to the 100s for a few days, as though we were still in summer. As I didn't want the house to get warm, I was making mostly salads those days. This is one such salad that I experimented with during the week, which turned out to be quite a hit.
 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
 1/8 cup white sugar
 1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil
 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar
 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
 1 tablespoon minced onion
 10 ounces fresh spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
 1 quart strawberries - cleaned, hulled and sliced
 Sliced onion -1
 Cherry tomatoes
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach,onion, strawberries and tomatoes. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ariyunda /Rice Ladoo

Ariyunda can be considered one of the traditional desserts of Kerala cuisine. It is something that is easy to make, yet tastes delicious. This would have taken  me about 10-15 minutes to make this batch. In the traditional way of making it, fresh coconut has to be crushed together with jaggery in an ural (a bigger version of a mortar). As I didn't have access to this way of making it, in order to get a similar effect, I have lightly roasted the coconut together with the jaggery so that these blend together well. An added advantage of this method is that as the water content in the coconut is reduced, the sweet can keep fresh longer.
Flattened matta rice(kerala brown rice)/matta rice - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery-3/4 cup
Grated Coconut  -3/4cup
Cardamom - 5
Dry roast the  flattened rice in medium heat till they turn crispy.  Once it cools powder the roasted rice  along with the cardamom to a fine powder and transfer to a bowl.
Lightly roast  coconut along with the powdered jaggery at medium heat . Put the coconut jaggery mix in a grinder and pulse this for a few times. Mix this with the rice powder mix .
Take a handful of the mixture and start shaping to small balls.(In case the mix is dry add a few teaspoons of milk little by little till its right to make the balls)
You can store them in a clean and air tight container to enjoy later.Tastes best the same day.
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