Thursday, June 21, 2012

#215 Celery Fish with Scallions

Celery contains pthalides known to lower blood pressure. How does it do that? Well, celery relaxes the muscles around the arteries allowing the vessels to dilate which is helpful for bloodflow. The calcium, magnesium and potassium content in celery also aid in relieving high blood pressure. Have I convinced those of you with high blood pressure to eat more celery with all my nutritional and medicinal details about it? I remember making celery sticks into ants in a boat for my children years ago and popping a few in my mouth while doing so:)

Once in a while, someone in my family develops an international craving and this time it's Chinese food. I would normally reach for the take-out menu and order in.  Last night I was warned about one such craving by my husband R and I was up for it.  With the lack of ingredients for a fresh stir-fry I compensated what I had at home to make this crunchy stir fry with celery and chunky cubes of Fish filet. A friend once told me that tossing up white fish with a bit of egg white prevents the fish from breaking up during a stir fry. Wait till you see my photos below --it worked like magic!!

For the stir Fry:
Fish Filets- 3
Scallions- 4 stems sliced across
Celery stems- 5-6 cubed
Egg white- 1
Soy Sauce- 1Tbslpn
Ginger paste- 1 tspn
Garlic paste- 1 tspn
Olive Oil as needed

For the Sauce:
Soy Sauce- 1 Tbplsn
Chili sauce- 3 Tbslpn
Red pepper crushed- 1/4 tspn
Lime juice- 2 Tblspns
Tomato ketchup- 4 Tbslpns
Sugar -1/4 tspn
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and whisk until smooth.
2. Cube the fish and marinate in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and egg white mix well and keep aside.

3. Place wide skillet on the fire and add 1 Tblspn of Olive oil to it.
4. Slowly add the fish cubes and brown well without breaking them. Gently turn over until done.

5. add celery and stir fry so that the celery is still crisp tender.

6. Add the sauce and scallions and quickle stir well and remove from fire.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

# 288 Grab a Spoon-- its Carrot Ginger Web Soup

It's not Halloween, it's not pumpkin season nor is it Fall yet, but it was at that moment when I discovered a bag of sweet carrots in my fridge that Bugs Bunny came to mind. Carrots remind me of rabbits and rabbits of Bugs Bunny. A cartoon character famous in the World War II era-- appearing in a War Bond commercial, Bugs still remains the mascot for Warner Brothers. The proud holder of a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, he is still a true favorite of many cartoon fanatics.

I am not going to talk about the high beta-carotene content of Bugs Bunny's favorite but they are nutritious!

Today it's an adult version of this vegetable - a soup that reminds me of the Fall.  Since the weather is no longer following rules, I guess we are entitled to switch gears and bring the Fall into the Summer aren't we? I'm making my version of a store bought soup from a carton I've always wanted to recreate at home. While I was cubing carrots I added- a little ginger, a bit of butter and a touch of honey and the soup truly surprised me ...all in all -a very comforting, soothing and satisfying soup.  I recommend you try it out tonight so that you too can bring a little Fall into this Summer!!

 So here's my brew:

1 cup onion chopped
2 Tblpsn Butter
4 cups sliced cubed carrots
1 large carton(32 oz) chicken broth
1 tspn ginger paste
2 Cups Soy milk
1 tsp cilantro chopped
1 tspn honey
1 tspn salt
1 tspn pepper

1, In a dutch oven saute the onion in the butter and additional 1 tspn olive oil until translucent.
2. Add the carrots, cilantro, broth, honey and ginger, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and broth is
just above the vegetables in the dutch oven. Turn off the fire.
3. Cool for 15 minutes. Take a hand blender and process until smooth. Stir in the soy milk, salt, pepper and heat the soup until just warm. Serve with a yogurt web on top.
Make concentric rings of Yogurt with a spoon starting with the center. Then run a butter knife from the center to the edge of the bowl to create the web pattern.

#214 Summer Salads, Salads and more Salads

Summer is never the same without a plethora of cool and refreshing salads!! In this modern age of pre-packaged salads and salad bars we have no excuse to stay away from eating healthy. With state-of-the art refrigeration, fresh farmers markets in every town and the plethora of salad sprays available in the market today salad consumption is becoming more and more go ahead make your dinner plate shine with imaginative nutritious salads! Last year I shared a layered summer salad with my readers. But this year I have been picking up fresh ingredients from the Farmer's Market, which inspired me to make a few interesting ones. Once the glorious greens are in my kitchen, I've found that if they are trimmed, washed, dried and re-packaged they'll keep for several days in the fridge. Whether its butter lettuce, Arugula, iceberg, romaine, escarole or radichio I lay them out over paper towels after a nice wash and they stay in a deep pan covered with a damp towel. When fairly drained of water, I wrap two sheets of fresh paper towels loosely over the leaves and refrigerate in plastic bags and store for 4 days. This comes in handy for me to pull them out as desired for salads every evening.

I've put together a collection of the salads I've made this Summer with a variety of vegetables right here for you. There's no excuse to avoid salads and if you don't like plain lettuce then you can spruce it up with the creamy "Green Goddess" dressing.  
Before we begin, I will take you back to a few of my previous posts

and here's my Greek inspired Tuna salad with cucumber, tomato and avocado
I must mention my refreshing beet and orange salad with goat cheese on a bed of Arugula

Here's a no-fuss veggie wrap without the carbs!!!
Thin slices of Mango, steamed asparagus, red pepper wrapped in thinly sliced cross sections of cucumber drizzled with honey mustard dressing!!

I love vinegar based dressings yet, I favor a few of the creamy dressings like Ranch. However, recently I've been shaking up home made emulsions and oils. I've discovered a new-found love for this creamy dressing that I've made many times over, each time modifying it to my taste and adjusting the measurements to make it less creamy. Many recipes for "Green Goddess" dressing asks for anchovies but I eliminated them altogetherand made it my own......

 Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup scallions chopped
1 cup fresh Basil leaves cut up
1 1/2 limes juiced
2 tspn chopped garlic
2 tspn salt
1 tspn freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream

For the salad:
1 head of iceberg lettuce for making wedges (or any lettuce of your choice)  

1 tomato cut up
3 strips of turkey bacon cooked and crumbled.

How to make the Goddess:
1. Place all the ingredients except those for the salad in the bowl of a blender.
2. Process until smooth and use over a Wedge of Lettuce, some tomatoes and sprinkle with turkey bacon bits.

But that's not all...stay tuned for more and more innovative ways to incorporate Green Goddess Dressing and veggies in your diet!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

#213 Kerala Egg Masala halves in Home Made Puff Pastry

In the book "Master the Art of French Cooling Vol II", Julia Child recommends 73 folds for Puff pastry used to make pâte feuilletée. Puff pastry is a delicate dough made with cold water and cold butter. The dough must not be kneaded too much but folded several times and preserved as cold as possible until you are ready to bake it. As it bakes, the gaps that form between the dough are the puff pastry rising as the water evaporates into steam rising to form flaky layers. Although the storebought frozen puff pastry comes in real handy when you are in a hurry, nothing tastes as good as home-made puff pastry.
The all famous Cornish Pasty comes to mind when I decided to bake this awesome savory pastry very similar to the Cornish Pasty.  The filling is a Kerala Style Egg Fry made with the typical masala popular in the state of Kerala (South India). The pastry is then crimped into a "purse" or just folded like a small purse to enclose the hard-boiled eggs. This is also made with savory ground beef or chicken filling and a popular snack available in most bakeries.
4 Large eggs
Kerala Masala powder(has extra clove and fennel powder)- 1 tspn
Garlic-ginger paste-1/2 tspn
Chilli powder- 1/4 tspn
Turmeric powder- 1 pinch
1 large tomato chopped
2 medium onions chopped
My home-made Puff Pastry- Rolled out into a rectangle about 14 inches long and 8 inches wide.
(please refer to the photo collage above)
Egg wash for brushing pastry tops
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

I would like to share this recipe on a wonderful event being hosted by Julie from Erivum Puliyum. Julie has some really authentic Kerala recipes ..her collection brings me fond memories of the delicious home-made food I grew up on!!
thanks Julie

1. Hard boil the eggs, cool and slice into halves. keep aside.
2. Place a skillet on the medium flame of the stove, add oil.
3. Toss in the chopped onions and saute until golden brown color.
4. Add tomatoes and garlic-ginger paste. Saute until all the liquid has
evaporated from the tomatoes. add masala, turmeric and chilli powder.
5. Stil well until the aroma is given out and then add egg halves, salt and pepper.
6. Do not stir, gently toss until eggs are well coated with masala.
(If you stir too much the egg yolks will crumble and fall out of the whites)
7. Cool and prepare smaller squares from the Puff Pastry and place
one half of each egg(yolk-side down) along with a little onion masala on each square.
8. Heat oven to about 375 degrees F. Place the folded egg-stuffed pastry
packages (as shown in photos above) on a cookie sheet and brush with egg whotes.
9. Place the pastry in the watm oven and bake until golden brown and the puff pastry
is flaky and cooked.

Monday, June 4, 2012

#212 How about Toast and scrambled eggs?

An ideal breakfast or meal-in-one is always so nourishing-especially when you have children who are picky eaters. This is a creation from one of my cousins, who so generously shared another version of this recipe with me. I hope this will serve as a simple meal for those mothers out there, who are looking for wholesome meals for their children. A twist on the traditional puttu(made from rice flour and coconut), I used whole wheat bread toasted in the oven until crisp and then coarsely powdered in the blender. Layer them with leftover ground meat curry and scrambled eggs alternating with freshly grated coconut and you have a surpise treat that will blow your mind!!!

Whole Wheat Bread- 8 slices
Puttu Flour(Rice flour )- 1/4 cup
Freshly grated Coconut-1/2 cup
Leftover  curried ground chicken or fresh chicken shredded(without sauce)- 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

1. Toast the slices of bread in a cookie sheet in the oven or in a toaster until crisp but not burnt.
2. Cool and process until coarsely ground.
3. In a saucepan break in the eggs, salt and pepper and scramble until finely cooked.
4. You need a Puttu Kodam or any other "Puttu" maker to make a Puttu.
this is a Kerala style cylindrical stainless steel "steamer" used to steam rice flour and coconut
after the rice flour is mixed in with water adding a little at a time until soft and the flour is
moist enough. Place the Puttu kudam or a pressure cooker with enough water at the bottom and start boiling the water.
5. In the meantime, take the powdered toast and puttu flour in a glass bowl and sprinkle a little water at a time and keep mixing until the mixture is moist but not holding together.(Do not get the flour to hold together into a dough).
6. Take the Puttu cylinder add a teaspoon of coconut at the bottom, then a layer of moist mixture lightly over it. Then layer with ascrambled eggs. Add more flour followed by chicken mix and then more flour followed by coconut until the top of the cylinder.
7. Close the lid of the cylinder and place on the boiled water to start cooking the mixture.
8. After about 15 minutes the mixture is steam cooked blending together all the wonderful flavors and holding together by the steam passing through the cyclinder.
9. Remove and serve warm

Friday, June 1, 2012

#211 Kalbi Style Braised Beef Ribs and Neck Bones.

Happy Slow Cooker Friday! It's warm weather alright, but today there's a bad storm in our area with high winds, rain and hail. I know this is not the best weather to bring out the Slow Cooker but for some reason I seem to forget that I own a nice one stacked away in the depths of my pantry on a back shelf until I decided(or remember) to excavate it from it's hibernation. Today, I have some fresh beef ribs from the market and since the family loves a nice stew or barbecue once in a while the Slow Cooker made its random appearance. Besides, I can throw it all in the crockpot and relax in front of the TV:)
I rubbed the Ribs with cornflour and lightly browned them in Olive Oil before tossing the rest of the ingredients and slow cooking them for about 6 hours, just until the meat falls off the bone while the gravy thickens. Quite possibly these were the very best Ribs that I’ve made in a long long time and sure enough V made a verdict they were “the bomb”. Although beef does not entice me, I was drawn by the aroma so much and was tempted enough to serve myself some of the flavorful braising sauce over steamed jasmine rice!! Traditional Kalbi Sauce is used to make Korean style barbecue Short Ribs. Well ,this is a braised stew-like dish with a nice savory punch,  I threw in carrots, prunes and celery and customized it to my taste. It turned out to be a rustic home-made slow braised  and comforting dish.

Beef short Ribs and Neck bones- 2 lbs
Soy Sauce- 3 Tblspn
Honey Barbecue Sauce- 2 Tblsn
Chopped Spanish Onions- 1 cup
Sesame Oil- 1 Tblspn
Dried Prunes- 1 Cup
Beef or Vegetable Broth- 2 cups
Balsamic Vinegar- 2 Tblspn
Carrots – 2 large cubed
Celery- 2 stems cubed
Julienned Ginger- 2 inch piece.
Red Wine- 1 cup
Olive Oil 2 Tblspns
Cornflour- 1 Tblspn
Salt, Pepper and crushed red pepper flakes
How to make it:
1. Wash and dry the ribs well on papertowels.
2. Place a skillet on the slow cooker adding 2 Tbsln of Olive oil. Toss a little pepper and salt along with the cornflour mix well and toss the meat to lightly coat them.
3. Cover the meat lightly with the seasoned cornflour and quickly brown them on both sides in the skillet. ( I used the metal container of the crockpot to brown the meat and then placed it on the warm heated base of my crockpot to continue braising the meat). Since crockpots and slow-cookers are so varied just use any method to brown the meat.
4. Place the browned meat into the crockpot or slow cooker.
5. Now starting with the soy sauce, wine, barbecue sauce, spanish onions, prunes chopped, beef broth, balsamic vinegar, pepper salt, red pepper flakes and sesame oil add mixing well with the meat in the crockpot.
6. Turn the cooker on and slowly braise the meat in the liquid for about 4 -6 hours until the meat is well done and falls apart with a fork. The technique of browning the meat before and then cooking it is called braising and it has been the best cooking technique used in many Indian curries too.
7. When the braising liquid is still not thick add the carrots, celery, ginger about 15 minutes before the cooking time ends. Cook until the veggies are soft. The braising liquid is now thick and flavorful. Spoon off excess fat from the top and discard.
8. Remove and serve over steamed jasmine rice.

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