Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hot and Sour Soup

When I said I am going to make some soup for lunch, Jai asked me if I could make  him his favorite hot and sour soup. Luckily  I had all the necessary ingredients when I checked the refrigerator. This soup can be made quickly once you get all your ingredients ready. If you are a person who love hot and sour flavors then this is your soup to try.
Recipe Source: Tyler Florence
4 dried Chinese fungi (about 1 ounce), such as wood ears or cloud ears or , re-hydrated sliced shitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons canola oil
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chile paste, such as sambal oelek
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup-1/2 cup rice vinegar or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch sugar
1 bunch green onions, cut fine
4 garlic cloves,made to fine paste
1/2 onion,minced
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
2 quarts Chicken Stock/Veggie stock
1 square firm tofu, drained and sliced in 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Chopped green onions and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Put the wood ears in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse the wood ears; discard any hard clusters in the centers.

Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, wood ears, bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar ,green onions,garlic cloves paste, white peppercorns in a small bowl, pour it into the wok and toss everything together - it should smell really fragrant. Pour in the Stock, bring the soup to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for 3 minutes.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Mix the slurry into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs in a steady stream and watch it spin around and feather in the broth (it should be cooked almost immediately.) Garnish the hot and sour soup with chopped green onions and cilantro before serving.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Honey White Bread

I had been using a bread-machine  for over an year now. Since that time we hardly ever buy the bread from the shops.
If you can whip up  hot, yummy bread without much effort, who would then go for the store bought ones?
This is a white bread recipe. I also make a wheat and white bread combo, which I shall be posting some time later.
Even though this  original recipe uses an electric mixer with the hook attachment, you can do the same in a bread machine too. Though I use the bread machine, I don't use it to bake the bread because I am not a big fan of  the shape of the bread that my bread machine makes. So  I use it only to make the dough.
Recipe source:Ina ( Barefoot Contessa)
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110 degrees)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 extra-large egg yolks
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Place the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If the bowl is cold, be sure the water temperature doesn't drop below 110 degrees F. Add the yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Add the flour slowly; you can always add more but you can't take it out. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise for one hour, until doubled in volume.

Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel, and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with the egg white and bake the breads for 40 to 45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped.Leave them in the pan for 5 minutes covered with a kitchen towel after applying a bit of butter to the crust.  Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack by covering with a kitchen towel before slicing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thattil Kutti Dosa & Garlic chutney

This is my version of that dosa and chutney combo made famous by the Malayalam movie " Salt'N Pepper". I haven't yet got a chance to taste the original one. From googling about this I understand that this originated in Thrissur, which is where I am also from. So the next time I am in India, I am definitely planning to pay a visit to this dosa's birth-place and try this out.
Thattil Kutty Dosa literally means "the small dosa made in a pan". The Garlic Chutney is what was shown as the accompaniment for this in the movie. I referred to many recipes in the internet and came up with this version both for the dosa and chutney.
It is a good change from the regular dosa and we all liked it.
For the Dosa batter:
2 cups rice
1 cup urad dal
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
Soak the rice, fenugreek and the dal separately for 4-5 hrs.
Grind together the rice and fenugreek to a fine paste. Also grind the dal  to a fine paste adding enough water. Mix the rice and the dal and let it ferment over night.
Before making the Dosa, add water to the batter to bring it to a pouring consistency. Add salt and mix.
Heat the Non Stick Pan, pour 1/2 ladleful batter about 1/2 cup and small dosas. No need to spread the batter unless it is too thick.Cook in low to medium flame to get golden crust. Drizzle some oil/ghee on the dosas.Flip once the bottom turns golden and cook in low to medium flame for a minute or 2 or until golden in colour. Drizzle oil when ever desired.  Serve with garlic chutney / sambar ...

Garlic Chutney
Coconut(grated)- 1 cup
Dried red chilli -8
Garlic cloves-8
Tamarind-1 tsp
Salt- to taste

Oil-2 tbs
Mustard-1 tsp
Dried red chilli-1

Heat a teaspoon of oil and roast the red chilli till they turn crisp.Set it aside. In the same pan brown crushed garlic.Now grind all the ingredients to a fine paste adding as little water as possible. Now heat the oil and add mustard followed by red chilli,once the mustard is done with the spluttering  add it to the ground chutney.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

As I was out of action for the last few days sick, Jai was the chef of the house. He was managing the show with omelette and simple stir-fries. As I have got well now, I am getting so many requests from Aishwarya and Jai for their favorite foods.
This spinach ricotta veggie balls with spaghetti was what Aishwarya wanted. This is the vegetarian version of spaghetti and meatballs. Try this and and if you love Italian cuisine as we do, this would be a winner for you.
Veggie balls
1 Cup ricotta cheese
1 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2-2 Cups Italian breadcrumbs (plus some for rolling)
4 Eggs
1/2 medium sized onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 jalapeno
1 tbs coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and butter

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper
1tbs of red pepper flakes (opt.)
1 pound pasta ( whole grain spaghetti.)
Cook onion ,garlic,jalapeno along with butter and olive oil.When the onion turns translucent add coriander powder,cumin powder,curry powder,turmeric and cilantro, cook this for another minute till the powders are cooked.Remove from heat and let it cool.
Mean while chop the spinach and stir it in with the cheeses.If possible use a fine grater to grate the Parmesan so it kind of melts into the veggie balls.
Mix this all together  along with the cooked and cooled onion mix and add eggs and enough bread crumbs to pull it together. About 1 1/2 Cups should be enough but if you used very large eggs you might need an extra 1/2 Cup. Stir this all together but try to keep the mixture nice and light. Make a ball using about a heaping tablespoon of the mixture. Make sure it holds together, but try not to press it together too much. Then roll the ball in some extra breadcrumbs and add it to a baking sheet lined with foil.
You can either bake this or pan fry it. If you want to pan fry, just add a bit of oil to a large skillet and add the veggie balls over medium high heat. Cook and turn until all the balls are lightly browned all around.If you’re baking them, which is also delicious, then add all the balls to the baking sheet and drizzle on a bit of oil over each one.You should end up with about 30 veggie balls.Bake them at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so.They should be nice and golden brown when you pull them out!

For the sauce.
In a medium-large pot, heat oil and then all your diced onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add diced tomatoes,followed by oregano, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes and as it gets thick, add a bit more water to keep it saucy. The tomatoes will break down a bit after a few minutes.If you like a smooth sauce you can puree the sauce.Taste it and adjust it to your liking.When you’re about ready to serve this dish, add the veggie balls straight into the sauce.
Then serve the sauce and veggie balls over some cooked pasta.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spanakopita-Greek Spinach Pie with Feta

I love Mediterranean cuisine. Most of the Mediterranean dishes I tried can be made ahead of time and kept frozen for later use. If you make this as a family, as we do, it would provide you with some excellent bonding time too. You can share the work and do it in an assembly line fashion, while talking to each other.
Typically this Greek snack is made in the triangle form (like the Indian Samosas), or made in a pan and cut into squares (like Baklava or Lasagna). But  I made it into the roll form as it is easier to make and eat.

Recipe adapted:
1 lb spinach, chopped (I used  frozen, thawed and squeezed out of all water)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onions, diced
1 bunches green onions, diced (incl. 4 inches green)
1/4cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped (substitute 3 tbsp. dried)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 green chilli minced fine (optional)
1 cup. feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup. ricotta or cottage cheese
1/8 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup olive oil
18 sheets phyllo pastry
Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Spinach should be dry.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saute pan or large dutch oven. Saute the onions and green onions until tender. Add the spinach, parsley,chilli and dill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and heated through. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
If using frozen spinach, you will want to cook until excess moisture evaporates. Spinach mixture should be on the dry side.
Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta, eggs, and ricotta (cottage) cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined.Combine the melted butter with the olive oil in a bowl. Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve.Take one sheet at a time,to prevent the rest from drying, cover with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.Fold the phyllo sheet length wise thrice to to get a three-fold rectangular piece.Apply the melted butter and olive oil mix well using a brush. Place  about one or two tablespoon of spinach mix at one end of the prepared phyllo sheet and roll the sheet with the filling inside into a almost tight roll. Place this on a baking sheet with the seem side down. Brush a little of butter olive oil mix on top of the roll.Repeat with the rest of the sheets.Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the pita turns a deep golden brown. If the pita is frozen when you put it in the oven, you will need approximately 45 minutes cooking time. If fresh, plan for approximately 20 minutes of cooking time.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Moru Curry sans Coconut and Oil

Though I got over with the flu, the after effects are still lingering. Primary one is the loss of appetite - I can't stand any food at all. One way it is a blessing in disguise; when the majority  of the world is making  new year's resolutions to somehow reduce their weight, here I am able to achieve it without effort! I feel so full by just the smell of food and even my favorite dishes, I can't make myself to eat.
I had been getting a lot of advice from my moms about how to revive my appetite - one such suggestion from my MIL was to have a cake that I like - she knows me too well, I guess. But that plan didn't work as I couldn't even tolerate a single bite. So my mom suggested that I try this with some rice. Though I couldn't eat much of rice, I did end up having this as a soup.
This oil and coconut free recipe is originally by my grand mother, especially for the times when anyone was sick in the family.
Buttermilk/Curd (whipped)-1 glass
Water -1 glass
Garlic-3 cloves
Green Chilli-1
Crushed Black Pepper-1/4 tsp
Turmeric-1/4 tsp
Curry leaves-few
Salt as required
In a hard bottom pan add water,garlic,green chilli,pepper,turmeric and curry leaves. Bring this to a boil and at medium heat reduce this to half the amount.Now reduce the heat to low and add the buttermilk along with salt. Keep stirring till it just start to boil and then remove from heat. Dry roast the fenugreek and powder this to add to the curry.
Note: If you want you can temper some mustard and red dry chilli in a tbs of oil and add to the curry.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mulligatawny Soup

It came as a bit of a surprise for me that the origin of this Anglo-Indian soup is our good old rasam. Mulligatwany comes from the Tamil name, Milagu Thanni - meaning Pepper Water. Looks like the British took the recipe of the Rasam and made modifications to suit their tastes and preferred ingredients - with versions having chicken, meat and the like. For the Europeans, our rasam would have tasted like a soup  - well, when we think about it rasam is indeed a soup - though we typically have it as a sort of curry. This version here is a vegetarian one. Just like rasam which triggers your appetite, this one is also ideally suited for  stimulating your taste-buds.

1 onions, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
1 potato,chopped
1 zucchini,chopped
1 big or 1 and1/2  medium tomatoes
3/4 cup  red lentils
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp fennel powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tablespoon ground black peppercorns
3 to 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 to 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
Green onions and cilantro to garnish

In a pressure cooker, saute onion along with minced ginger and garlic. When they turn translucent, add all the powders, saute for a minute. Now add the vegetables, stock and lentil along with the tamarind paste. Pressure cook this for 6 minutes. Once the pressure is released, open the lid and using a blender, puree the contents. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. Serve with any Indian flat-breads, preferably naan.
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