Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#149 I'm Off on Vacation after a Splendid Deliverable of Oven Roasted Tomatoes

NOTE: It is almost the end of August and that means a slow transition towards cold weather. It's that time of the year when everyone is taking a break and traveling around and I am no exception. I am leaving for some fun and sun this week returning before Labor Day!  Since I will be a little slow in posting and responding to your comments I have lined up some wonderfully unique ideas and hope to post them as soon as I get back from vacation. BTW friends, I will highly recommend that you try this one out at home.  Be sure to share your expert opinions with me right here ... I will look forward to reading all of your experiences with my tomato recipe when I'm back!!   Since there is no 'good' in goodbye I will say       I'll be back!
But before I leave, I will share how things led me to roast these lovely tomatoes........

                      What do weight-loss plans and process improvement programs have in common?  Typically they start off well and progress fast but all too often fail to have a lasting impact as participants gradually lose
motivation and go back to old habits. The economy has steered us towards low resources and few Technical Writers,  but are'nt we all still required to come up with a quality control system called "process
improvement" designed to tackle mission critical system hiccups?

                    As the designated lead of one such project I had been studying the precise factors and developing a draft since the deadline was fast approaching. My endurance in writing was being tested and procrastination was slowly taking over. I've been telling myself that it's a team effort and being a Developer I must contribute much more than needed in today's situation so here I am translating Geek to English in the hope of polishing my 'Pulitzer'. Am I the only one who feels this way?

                                            Maybe I am just racing the clock and must find a way to slow down.....
Obviously, that is easier said than done--how can I  prevent myself from spiralling out of control getting grouchy, irritable and overwhelmed with too much work on my plate?

                                             So one evening this week, I left work to relax and recouperate. Sometimes things don't go our way and other times we do better than we knew we could.  At this moment in time, I must rejuvenate to get my rest & relaxation and when things are more favorable I will get back in full swing and get my deliverable out on time.

                                             Is it true that a weakness or imbalance reflects a person's vulnerability to ailments and the body's power to fight infection? Energy healing has a lot to do with how we perceive our being and the world around us. The choice is ours--relax and consume a healthy meal to bounce back right or get sick?  It really doesn't take me much effort to divert my attention to my health. There is nothing an hour of Pilates, meditation (or Chocolate Cake:)) cannot cure. An hour of Mind, Body and Soul Pilates loosened up the fatigue that was built up in my muscles. After Pilates, I had a deep desire to eat healthy vegetables for the much needed Vitamins and Minerals.

                                          How about tomatoes for dinner? Tomatoes do boast loads of Vitamin C and lycopene. A shower later, I am in my kitchen digging around my fridge for tomatoes- a vegetable I always stock up on. Last year I had lots and lots of ripe juicy tomatoes in my yard but at the moment that's not the case. This year I did not plant any vegetables except a small batch of red Indian spinach and Basil. Despite my tomato woes, I was lucky to have picked up fresh tomatoes on the vine from the Farmer's Market.  I tossed them together to roast in my oven with fresh Olive oil, garlic and cracked black pepper and dipped some crusty bread in it for a meal.

                                           I will just about do anything with ripe tomatoes. Awesome, sweet and fleshy fruit or vegetable(call it what you may) they caramelize and become even sweeter when roasted and are loaded with nutrition all because of a phytonutrient called lycopene with antioxidant properties. Restore energy with lycopene...that was my plan.  After dinner, I was all hyped up again! Above all, by the end of the week I handed in the deliverable and it was highly commended by my client!!

Yay ! What a week!!.....glad to know the weekend is here soon and I wish all of you have a relaxing one too! Oops! sorry just realized it is not the weekend yet. I just got excited putting away my laptop for a few days.

Vine ripe Tomatoes with the vine- 2 lbs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 4 Tblspns
Fresh sprigs of Rosemary-2 sprigs about 8 inches long
Garlic cloves- 8 crushed and chopped fine.
Salt and pepper to taste
Day old crusty bread is a must

1. Wash and dry the tomatoes that are still attached to the vine. Heat oven to 375 degress F.
Turn them over make a slit across them twice without cutting up the tomato. Do not remove stems.
2. Whisk together chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic with the Olive oil.
3. Stuff the dressing into the slits and place gently on a baking pan.
4. Roast the tomatoes on both sides until the juices run out and
the skin is wrinkled and brown. Now, remove the stem and vines gently and serve.
5. The best part is dipping the crusty bread into the juice and the flesh of the tomato
and eating it warm.......Delicious!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#148 Sour Doughnut? or Rustic Italian Style Tortano Bread?

                              A Tortano is a filled, round bread that has its roots in the Naples region of Italy. Shaped like a ring this bread gets the unique name from its cake-like shape and the true original is filled with cooked eggs.  The rustic style Tortano may be baked with no filling inside of it like the Royal Crown's Tortano one of the signature rustic breads from the Royal Crown Bakery in Brooklyn.  There are as many recipes for it on the web as there are bakers like me who have successfully made a loaf or two(or should I say ring or two?) 
I was so impressed with the results of my Tortano with a soft interior and crusty exterior that I am extremely pleased with the results.

Once upon a  time, I used to fear baking bread. Maybe it was the fear that yeast would take over the kitchen---just like the dough ballooning out of the oven in a certain episode of "I Love Lucy"!!
Many years ago I overcame this fear when I first attempted to bake a loaf of bread and got comfortable with how to work with yeast. N loves fresh home-made bread with a dab of butter so I kept baking bread whenever I got a chance. Once I got into kneading and shaping the dough it felt so good between the palms of my hands it became a form of  therapy and now it leads me to Nirvana!! I may have exaggerated a bit, but you know the drill--- there is an inner peace that comes with the step by step process of proofing, kneading and the aroma wafting up the stairs through the house on a warm Summer weekend.  There can be no risen bread without yeast, which releases oxygen from sugars in the flour to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol when it comes in contact with water. My first loaves of bread did not produce enough holes in winter as they did in summer , when gas bubbles are created in the dough making it rise beautifully. So I decided that I would bake bread only in the Summer and stuck to it....

Recently, I've been combining Spelt flour and unbleached flour in all my bread and roti recipes. Spelt has so much fiber and is such a good source of niacin that it benefits both the cardiovascular system and aids in controlling diabetes.   Of course this meant that the bread did not have the beautiful white color like the loaves presented by the Great Chefs in Cookbooks and the Food Channel, but who cares? What really matters is the nutritional value in the food and not its color.

A few days back, I ran into the book Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glazer. One look at the large holes in the slices of Tortano bread and I had to bake it..... the only thing about this bread is that the dough in the picture above is as sticky and will cling to your fingers in a sticky gooey blob when you lift it out of the bowl-almost disappointing. I had to stop myself from adding more flour until the very end of proofing when I scooped out the mess and formed it into the ring-like shape. It is amazing how when the ring starts proofing, it holds so well together and bakes into a gorgeous chewy sourdough-like bread.................
OK now it's time for therapy;)

There are two steps to the Tortano bread making
Step I. The night before baking make the Pre-ferment or the starter.
Step II. The next morning mix the dough and let it ferment for about 4 hrs. Shape it and proof it for about 11/2 hrs and then bake the bread for about 45 mins.

Step I. Pre-ferment

11/2 tsp Active Rise yeast
1 cup water- 115 degrees
2/3 cup unbleached bread flour
1 small potato(3 ounces)
1. Dissolve a tspn of sugar in the water in a glass measure and let stand for 5-10 mins. Add 1/3 cup of this bloomed water to the flour and beat this very sticky starter until well combined.
2. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment for about 12 hours or overnight until it is full of huge bubbles and sharp tasting.  If you rkitchen is too warm, unlike mine you can place it in the fridge after
3-4 hrs of fermenting and in the morning remove it and allow it to come to room temperature for about an hour before forming the final dough.
3. Quarter the potato, boil in water to cover intil it can be easily pierced with a knife maybe about 20 mins.
4. Drain, reserve the water for the dough. Remove skin, press the cooked potato through a ricer or sieve to puree. Reserve only 1/4 cup puree and keep in fridge.

Step II. Mixing the Dough and Baking

3  cups Unbleached Bread flour
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 3/4 cups plus 3 Tblspn Water, including potato water used for cooking.
The Starter or pre-ferment
2 tspn Honey
1/4 cup packed Potato puree
1 Tblpsn salt
1. Use your fingers to mix the flour and water into a rough, very wet dough in a large bowl. Cover the dough and let rest for 10-20 minutes.
2. Now, add the starter from Step I, honey, potato and salt and knead the dough in the bowl of the kitchen aid. Fit the dough hook and on medium speed mix until it is smooth for about 15-20 minutes.
3. It starts off feeling rubbery and then as you keep kneading it will break down and if you keep going it will eventually come together into a smooth, shiny dough.
Since this is a tremendously wet and sticky dough scrape the dough down instead of adding any more flour because that could ruin the texture of the bread. The final dough will be almost pourably wet.
4. Shape the dough into a ball and roll it in flour. Place it in a container at least 3 times its size and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until doubled in size and filled with large air bubbles for almost
4 hours. Turn the dough 4 times in 20 minute intervals between fermentation time using enough dusting of flour up until 1 hour and 20 minutes have passed.
5. Then leave the dough undisturbed for the rest of the fermenting time. Make sure not to allow the dough to overferment or collapse since that will impact the flavor and texture of your product.

Look at those fabulous air pockets that made the soft chewy bread sooooo good !!

Shaping and Proofing

6. Turn out the dough onto a well floured work surface like your cleaned kitchen counter, round it and let it rest for 20 mins. Sprinkle a wooden board generously with flour. Slip a
baking sheet under the board if you are using one for support.
7. Again sprinkling the top of the dough ball with enough flour, push your fingers into the center to make a hole, then rotate your hand around the hole to widen it to make a 3-4 inch opening. Notice
that the bread is now a circular ring about 12 inches in diameter. If you prefer, shape into loaves of elongated French bread and slash the tops.
8. Place the dough smooth side(bottom) down on the floured boad and dust the surface with more flour. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it proof until it is light and springs back when pressed. This
proofing lasts for about 1 1/2 hours.


9. When the proofing is completed and the dough springs back when pressed with a finger, arrange a rack on the oven's second to top shelf and place a baking stone on it if you have one.
Since I did not have a baking stone, I used a baking sheet.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
10.  Remove the plastic wrap gently and turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper. No worry about damaging the bread shape when you handle it since it will recover its shape. Slash it with
4 radical cuts. Slide the loaf onto the baking sheet or stone and bake intil it is very dark brown for about 40-50 mins.
11. Now, let the bread cool on a rack. Slice and make awesome sandwiches. Keep reading to see how I use the leftovers from this bread with Mussels, Brandied Mushroom Dip, Roasted tomatoes and herbed Chevre in the next posts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

#147 A Gourmet Makeover for leftover Eggplant Mezhukkupuratti

Happy Independance Day India!! We got our Freedom from British Rule on August 15th, 1947 and that day is celebrated across the country. It is also celebrated worldwide by those who migrated overseas in a grand fashion. What better time than now, to thank some of  the great Freedom fighters who gave up their life to make this happen for our loved ones. Thank You! 
In honor of this day I have a simple vegetarian dish- a tip on using leftovers. 
Call it what you wish- Spicy Brinjal Fry, Vazhuthananga Mezhukkupuratti, Begun Bhaja or Kathrikai Varuval you will end up with Eggplant Fry.  In most Indian homes there is some form of
plain old eggplant fry with eggplant and spices served with rice/rotis and a gravy.  But what do you do when you have too much of this stir fry and are tired of eating leftovers?  I don't have the heart to waste any of  the antioxidant properties in this vegetable nor do I like to waste any food for that matter. The brown color is released when the vegetable is cut for that same reason, and so I am adamant on finding ways to use leftovers. I'm sure there are many cooks out there who would hesitate when it comes to tossing vegetables in the trash, and are looking for alternative ways to eat leftovers. Here's a dip or salad that is delicately flavored and can be served with pita bread or chips using plain unwanted leftovers!!
Vazhuthananga Mezhukkupuratti- 1 cup
Sour Cream- 2 cups
Cilantro chopped- 1/2 cup
Chilli powder- a pinch
Asafoetida- 1 pinch
Lemon juice- 1 Tblspn
Dip it up:
1. Scoop the Sour cream into a glass bowl.
2. Add lemon juice, salt, chili, asafoetida and chopped cilantro into it and whisk well together.
3. Toss in the Vazhuthananga Mezhukkupuratti and serve.
4. Either mix well together or just leave it suspended in the sour cream to enjoy the contrasting taste.
Salt to taste

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#146 Summery Chopped Layered Salad

What's a summer without an array of good and colorful salads? The vegetables in my fridge were beaming with color and vibrance when I decided to put together this layered salad. I am getting the enigma of eating rich food because I've been eating out quite a bit lately.  It's not always bad to eat high calorie or heavy meals, but I admit that I love to indulge in a signifcant portion once a month. LOL! 

My love for healthy salads has been immensely wide and growing with new recipes I may throw together once in a while.  A salad can be a light but satisfactory meal in one and a display that no one can resist and that always invigorates me to make them. The beautiful layers even encourages R to dig into the salad bowl  and get a great big that's how I know this salad has got to be incredibly good.

I can eat a small arugula and pear salad anytime. Slip in a tossed or caesar salad for dinner and I am enthralled!! Part of what makes me excited about making salads like this is its appealing visual display. R says its 'bait' to draw him towards eating healthy salads:)  When you serve this salad scooping out all the beautiful layers, you get a different vegetable with each bite. A surprise for your mouth, alternating between crunchy, soft, cheesy bites and a final cool tingling for your tastebuds.

This one is a classic salad that I make almost every summer(sometimes several times each year) with a new twist.  The use of steamed broccoli is new this year with the omission of bacon or cooked meat.  Instead I sprinkled some cheese. Bacon bits are ideal for this salad, otherwise top with toasted walnuts and it becomes a whole nourishing meal!!

2 cups mixed field greens
1 cucumber skin removed cubed
2 scallions chopped
1 package frozen green peas, thawed
10 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped steamed broccoli
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 cups thinly sliced radishes
3 Mushrooms sliced
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1 Tblspn Lemon Juice
1 Tblspn Honey
2 tablespoons white sugar

1. To prepare dressing, whip up lemon juice, honey,olive oil with 1/2 tsp salt, sugar and pepper. Keep aside.
2. Take a glass bowl or trifle dish for layering the salad.  Toss each of the prepared vegetables except the lettuce with half of the dressing above.
3. now add the Mayonnaise to the rest of the dressing and beat well.
4. Start layering with Broccoli, then add the Radishes, followed by cucumber, green peas, scallions, cheese and then greens, grape tomatoes
and remaining vegetables as you wish. Top with greens and spread the mayonnaise mixture and evenly cover the salad completely.
5. Top with cheese and scallions adding slices of mushrooms to decorate the sides.
6. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

#145 High Tea Served with Mini Moong Dal Dhokla Bites

A cup of tea and these moong dal dhoklas with chutney. Yummm........  a terrific treat for my Saturday afternoon!! The past afternoon my thoughts and prayers went out to all those who gave up their young lives in the war overseas. Not just for the 30 Navy Seals but for every brave soldier or innocent Afghan citizen who became a martyr in this war. God bless the families!

A simple snack such as this one is sure to take away all the blues and relax my mind from devastating news. So I was up for making some tiny dhoklas! Moong dal is full of zinc, folic acid, iron and protein and is a fabulous nutrient especially for vegetarians. A Gujarathi savory dish(originally) that can be used as a snack or a wholesome meal. For some extra zing add some chutney and snack to your heart's content because these are wholesome snacks and much healthier than crunching a bag of the 'sought after' potato chips.

Moong dal- 1 cup
Rice- 2 Tblspn
11/2 Tbblspn Yogurt.
Asafoetida- 1/8 tspn
Grated coconut- 1/2 cup
Cilantro chopped- 1/2 cup
Red chillies or green chillies chopped - 3
Mustard seeds- 1 tspn
Curry leaves- 1 Tblspn
Baking soda- 1/2 tspn
Salt to taste
Sugar- 1 tspn

1.Clean, wash and soak the moong dal in enough water for 2 hours.
2.Drain the dal, add the rice, the green chillies and a little water and blend in a mixer to a smooth paste.
3. Tranfer the mixture to a bowl add yogurt, salt , baking soda and sugar
4. Let rest for maybe 20 minutes.
5. Mix gently and pour into a greased flat metal plate that fits into a steamer. Twirl the plate to spread the batter evenly.
6. Steam in a steamer for 10-15 minutes until dhoklas are cooked.
7. Slice into small squares or diamond shapes amd cool.
8. Heat oil and Add tempering -mustard seeds, chillies and curry leaves and let them splutter.When done add asafoetida.
9. When ready sprinkle coconut, cilantro over the dhoklas and last but not least add the entire tempered spices over it toss and serve.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#142 A Squeaky Clean Bath Loofah

Do you know how a Loofah is born? Yes, that's right the loofah that is used as a bath brush. Loofah is the dried version of a delicious vegetable that is a powerhouse of nutrition!! Orginating from the deserts of Arabia this vegetable is called  loofah, luffa, turai, turiya, tori and so on and has spread around the world now. Although I have never seen it being used across Kerala, it is very popular in Maharashtra and other parts of India.  The ridgegourd as it is known in English is loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber(loofah sponge is proof of the fibrous nature of the vegetable), Vitamin C, riboflavin, zinc, thiamin, iron and magnesium. It is low in calories and fat and and the ideal choice for those on a weight loss plan with its power to strengthen the immune system. It has insulin-like properties that aid in purifying blood and lowering blood sugar levels because of its high water content. A bland vegetable and a good combo with dals or just plain old tomato-onion gravy. This time I combined a simple almond paste with green chillies and ginger to make the gravy for fresh ridgegourd pieces to absorb and created a healthy curry for phulkas/dry puffed rotis. The vegetable does not look creepy like the Loofah....instead it is green with sharp ridges and appears to be like any other squash inside with white flesh and seeds in the middle.

Ridgegourd - 1
Almonds- 1/2 cup
Green Chillies- 2
Haldi or turmeric powder- 1/4 tspn
Ginger paste- 1/2 tspn
Asafoetida- 1 pinch
Tempering: Cumin seeds, Red chillies
Salt and Oil to taste.

1. Wash and clean the ridgegourd to make sure all the soil is removed.
2. Scrape the sharp edges with a sharp knife until the surface is smooth.
3. Slice the ridgegourd into half and quarters and then cross cut it into 1/2 inch pieces.
4. In  a blender, grind to a smooth paste the almonds, Green chillies and ginger.
5. Place a pan on heat and add a tablespoon of oil.
6. Add Cumin seeds and split red chillies and let them crackle and add the asafoetida.
7.Toss in the vegetable and salt to taste and haldi.
8. Add 1/2 cup water to allow the vegetable to cook, along with the ground paste,
9. Cook until the ridgegourd is cooked and the gravy has thickened.
10. Serve with homemade Phulkas.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On The Beaches of Florida

Back in 2007, we flew down to Fort Lauderdale Beach for a long vacation.  A boat ride through the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway floating off to look at the beautiful luxury homes that celebrities own was one of the main attractions I remember seeing.  I have an admiration for art and can only admire these grand homes from afar. This is something we had experienced on our visit to New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard off of Cape Cod in New England, and at the time I wondered who would live in such large mansions and be happy. I think these mansions are more like architectural creations than homes!  So back to Florida....R and I spent a couple of weeks driving from Fort Lauderdale to Miami, Fort Meyers, Naples, Tampa and St Petersburg.

Now talking about Fort Lauderdale, I thought it was more like a Spring break haunt for teens all year around. But it was more a tourist destination with nothing other than water sports and a busy lighted boardwalk lined with colored lighting. The Sunsets off the sighseeing boats are unforgettable!!

The next stop was at Miami Beach with the lovely shops and beachside restaurants. We walked the streets until we found a small place with awesome Cuban sandwiches -delicious grilled sandwiches!!Unfortunately I don't have pics to share:( Miami Beach is as active as you can imagine with beautiful people in swimwear and local people going around in convertibles. The drive from Miami to Fort Meyers and Naples a small town with clean beaches and slower traffic which made us want to stay longer.  Of course, we visited family at Naples before we drove over to Tampa Bay. Here we spent a night with R's brother. Had a wonderful time with the family and everyone spent the next day at St Petersburg, beaches and sightseeing.
The pristine beaches just kept calling us, so on our drive back to Fort Lauderdale we stopped over at Sanibel and Captiva Islands . I would love to go back to spend a quiet weekend on Sanibel Island only because it caught my attention. I see why it was rated the Best Beach in the US that year.

I found Sanibel to be very different from Hilton Head, South Carolina or Nags Head in North Carolina. Here I found one unique, peaceful and non-touristy beach location where you do not find busy crowds, a long boardwalk or even get to munch on boardwalk fries. The serene atmosphere reminded me of the story of Robinson Crusoe landing on a lonesome beach. It may have been a figment of my imagination, or the clean white sand and shells scattered all over that fired up this picture in my mind. In a nutshell, Sanibel beach is definitely the most beautiful in the world. No, we did not get on the cruise this was the big vessel drawing close to land on our last day at Fort Lauderdale. We watched the Celebration Cruiseline up so close and larger than life that evening.  The Celebration goes out to sea from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and is a gigantic beautiful ship. Maybe someday I can get comfortable with the idea of cruising.................

Monday, August 8, 2011

#141 What's Your Favorite Stuffed Cauliflower?

I'm exploring a new vegetable every week. I am starting this week with something very familiar to me and a favorite Indian Subji in India and abroad. The idea is to introduce something different both in taste and nutritional value to my family, hoping that the "five a day" rule applies to both of us. Incorporating somewhere between five to six servings of healthy fruits and vegetables one of which is cooked. So today's kitchen hero is the almighty Cauliflower. An affordable vegetable, a member of the cabbage family the cauliflower has little bunches of florets or clusters that match beautifully with curry and garlic. Without doubt, it can very well be roasted or converted into a Gratin and still taste absolutely delicious.  Although Aloo Gobhi is a very popular dish served with rotis, my Stuffed Skillet Cauliflower is one dish that eliminates potatoes making it less starchy and extra spicy. It  pairs well with rice, bread or rotis so well. The aroma from roasting the cauliflower was attractive enough to draw R's nose sniffing into the kitchen. I combined a savory Indian Masala paste and stuffed the florets leaving them to marinate before pan frying them in Olive oil with tomatoes and chilis. When I dropped the marinated florets into the skillet it was so fragrant that R could not wait to have dinner... LOL. With  leftovers, turn them into roti wraps dabbing lime cilantro yogurt and  making incredible packages for a hearty lunch bag.


Cauliflower -1
Garlic 10 cloves
Ginger 1 1/2 inch piece
Green chillies 2
Fresh coriander leaves 1/2 medium bunch
Whole dry red chilli 4
Shaan Vegetable Masala- 2 Tbslpns
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Cumin powder 1/2 teaspoon
Tomatoes chopped-1
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds 1 teaspoon

1. Separate cauliflower into smaller florets. Wash and drain them.
2. Cut up onions, garlic and ginger. Wash and chop green chillies. Clean, wash and chop coriander leaves.
3. Grind onions, garlic, ginger, red chillies, Shaan Masala, turmeric powder, cumin powder to a fine paste adding enough water.
4. Add salt to the paste and marinate the cauliflower florets in this for half an hour.
5. Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds and when they crackle add green chillies and sauté for half a minute. Add marinated cauliflower and cut up tomatoes and cook for five minutes on high heat saute well.
6. Add one and a half cups of water and bring it to a boil. Lower heat and cook until the cauliflower is cooked.
7. Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

Friday, August 5, 2011

#140 Mexican Fusion Tricolored Huevos Rice

We love both Mexican and Indian food. So why  not combine the two and make a fusion dish that satisfies both tastes in one meal. Have you heard about butter chicken burritos or tandoori chicken tostadas? I never stop with any experiment on food that goes two ways venturing into the era of Fusion food!! There are many versions of Mexican Fusion rice recipes but this one is a Mexican rice with an Indian Twist. A fried egg on top reminds me of a Huevos Rancheros with the ranch egg on top. The oeey goeey egg yolk runs all over the spiced rice and one spoonful excites your taste buds to no end!! Just make sure to stir up a large batch of rice and fry enough eggs to go around the table:)


Basmati rice, boiled and cooled 3 cups
Oil 1 1/2 tablespoon
Egg 1 (per serving)
Garlic 15 clove
Onion , finely chopped 1
Carrot, grated 1
Red bell pepper chopped fine 1
Yellow bell pepper chopped fine 1
Tomato ketchup 2 tablespoon
Sriracha or chili sauce- 1 tablespoon
Cider Vinegar- 1 Tblpsn
Salt to taste
Coriander Powder- 1 tspn
Cumin Powder- 1/2 tspn
Cilantro chopped- 1/4 cup for garnish

1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the garlic and onions and sauté till the onions turn light brown.
2. Add the grated carrots, the bell peppers, coriander and cumin powders and saute for two to three minutes. Mix together the tomato ketchup, vinegar and red chilli sauce.
3. Add the rice, salt and mixed the sauce in. Toss well. Now add the cilantro and toss again.
4. To serve, fill a bowl or mould with rice as tight as you can and then invert onto a plate
5. Gently remove the bowl or mould, place a fried egg on top and serve immediately garnished with cilantro and mexican chilli powder.

Monday, August 1, 2011

#139 Roasted Whole Fish with Lemon and Rosemary

In recent years I've heard of unpronounceable healthy ingredient lists and more products that are free of preservatives, artificial colors, processed foods and sugar substitutes that are becoming so popular day by day. Even sugar substitutes have advanced from the artifical Splenda to natural products like Agave nectar and Truvia. Notice how most retailers are re-considering their recipes and following healthy trends to stay marketable---I will not mention any specific brand names here.  In short, we are no longer content with plain old groceries from one big supermarket.

There are times when I seriously considered reaching out to "Peapod"- the decade old convenience of online shopping at Giant for my weekly shopping, on days when I cannot make the trip down to the store.  As far as I am concerned, I have this habit of examining my produce before I decide how I want to use it to make a special dish. Maybe I am a bit old-fashioned, but I prefer not to make a list or have Peapod deliver my groceries to the front door.  This means that I must juggle my time to run to a Farmer's Market, Asian Supermarket, American Grocery and finally stop by the Indian Store at the same time come up with the weekly Menu.  Don't get me wrong.....I do strongly support Peapod for being such a wonderful service for those who are unable to drive or for those elderly folks in a retirement home.  On the other hand, I am mortified by the idea of consuming any meat or vegetables that I have not selected myself--especially seafood when I am able to go out to buy them myself.  Sometimes the seabass or red snapper at our fish market may be past its prime and then I will pass on the fish and go for something else.  This time, I selected a whole White fish that looked fresh from the sea, asked the fish monger to take the head off and clean the belly to see if I could roast it in the oven. I was so surprised at how amazing it turned out with just a few ingredients and loads of  flavor!! The recipe was just concocted in my mind with a bunch of fresh rosemary and good old lemon. I know I will be making this all over again because it was demolished at the dinner table.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole White Fish or any other fish, cleaned, scaled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fennel seeds crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 small garlic clove, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a heavy large baking sheet with foil. Oil the foil and fish with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place the fish atop the foil. Sprinkle the fish cavity and all over with salt and pepper. Squeeze 1/2 of the lemon inside the fish cavity. Fill the cavity with the onion, lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Bake until the fish is just cooked through at the bone, about 40 minutes. Throw in some sliced red peppers, onion wedges and zuchini slices to serve with the fish and prepare a side of instant cousous.

Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining lemon 1/2 into a small bowl. Whisk in the crushed fennel, rosemary, and garlic. Gradually whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Season the lemon sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp knife, separate the 2 fillets from the backbone. Using a metal spatula, transfer the top fillets to a plate.

 Lift the fish backbone from the bottom fillets (the backbone and head should come off together easily), and discard.

Using a spatula, transfer the remaining fillets to plates. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Drizzle the lemon-rosemary sauce over the fish and serve with broiled vegetables.

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