Monday, July 22, 2013

#289 Pattypan Napoleon Italiano with Radish Slaw and a Mid Summer Break

Malli's M & Ms premiered in October 2010 doing presumably well so far. Although it's had its triumphs and setbacks, Malli is happy to announce that between her Travel stories and recipes she's almost completed 300 posts!

But friends, for the past few years I've been juggling between my full time job (including a 2 hour commute to work everyday) and my family duties but I trudged along simply to keep my passion for good food alive. Lately I've been procrastinating on posts, and it wouldn't be fair if I ignored important matters that need my immediate attention. There's no sophisticated way to say this other than that I'm finding it a bit overwhelming to write, measure, cook, photograph and post recipes at the same pace. It pains me to be away from my blog where I've been spending more and more time lately. But now, I've come to realize that it's time to take a break after all(a trip to Italy is also brewing in the horizon)!

What kept me posting in spite of the time constraints is the sheer joy of meeting so many good foodie
friends who I've been lucky to meet on the way. They made the journey so profoundly exciting, and so  I do not anticipate saying goodbye to any of those sheer genuises even for a short time, yet I feel I deserve this long awaited break.

I'll be back before long. In the meantime, I hope to continue visiting all my favorite blogs so Happy Blogging to you!!

Now, all about my discovery of the Pattypan Squash:

What would you do when you see a new fruit, vegetable or fish in the supermarket? Would you immediately toss a couple of them in your cart and try out new dishes in your kitchen, or would you raise your eyebrows and simply walk away?  I know a few friends who pull back for fear of tasting unknown foods and its still a challenge for them to overcome this fear. We all love familiar foods. There is a small group of us who are more adventorous when it comes to produce!!

As for me, I have a strong inclination to touch, smell and feel the new fruit or vegetable I discovered and then I decide whether I should bring it home or walk away.  The concept is "Is there any harm?", "Will I gain or lose from the experience?" I may open my horizons and welcome one of the fruitiest of fruits into my diet, or if it makes me squirm, I will find the nearest trash bin. So why not take a shot at it rather than miss out on the most delicious vegetable that I've probably never tasted.

So, I was at the Farmer's Market just last week and noticed this large basket of the tiniest, prettiest and shallowest squash I've seen. Now my interest was piqued into finding out what it was so I ask the girl at the counter and got the answer "Pattypan squash". The white and bright yellow colored ones are most tender when they are about 2-3 inches in diameter. Of course, I took some home and roasted
them over the grill along with red pepper and mushrooms. Also known as Scallopini or shallow squash this is a summer squash notable for its small size and scalloped edges. The rosemary roasted squash has converted me into the biggest fan of my newly discovered veggie and I know I will be going back for more. Then it dawned on me why not create an elegant dish-a Napoleon with Basil Pesto before I take my break and here it is!!!

An asian style Diakon radish Slaw to cool off an elegant main dish of rosemary roasted Pattypan Squash in between flaky layers of puff pasty sheets, flavored with bright green homemade Basil pesto and mascarpone. Enjoy the rest of the Summer!!

Rosemary Roasted Vegetables

Fresh Rosemary sprigs   chopped- 1 tspn
Garlic- 2 crushed well
Olive Oil- 3 Tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste
Pattypan Squash, Bell Peppers, Portobello mushrooms sliced thick

                                                                  White Pattypan Squash

Method: Whisk together the rosemary, olive oil, garlic, enough pepper and salt to taste until combined. Heat the oven to roast about 375 degrees and toss the vegetables in the dressing.
Roast in the hot oven or broil until just soft and a bit charred. remove cool and cut into strips.

Pesto, Veggie Mascarpone Napoleons

Roasted Vegetables,
Home made or store bought Basil pesto of your choice- 2Tblspns
Mascarpone -4 ounces whipped with lime juice, garlic and salt to taste.
Puff Pastry Dough- an orange sized ball

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, using a rolling pin roll out the pastry dough out about 1/4 inch thin rectangle. Cut the large rectangle into smaller rectangles about 1 by 3 inc

hes and layout on a cookie sheet about an inch apart, bake for about 10 mins until they are puffed and slightly browned.
Remove and cool.
To assemble each Napoleon, place one piece of puff pastry on a serving plate, spread  about 1/2 tspn pest and then 1 tspn mascarpone mixture over each rectangle. Gently place roasted vegetable sliced thin over the cheese, place a second pastry rectangle over the vegetables, repeat with cheese and pesto and top with pastry.Decorate or garnish as desired.

Serve with Radish, carrot slaw:

Radish (Diakon or red) -1 lb thinly sliced lengthwise
Shredded carrots- 1/2 lb
Scallion- 1 julienned
Cilantro chopped- 1 Tblspn
Lime juice- 1 Tblspn
Olive oil- 1 Tblspn
Apple Cider Vinegar-1 Tblspn
Sugar- 1 tspn
salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper sauce- 1/2 tspn
garlic chopped- 1.2 tspn

Whisk together lime juice, Olive oil, vinegar, pepper, garlic, chili pepper sauce, salt, pepper and sugar until combined. In a large glass bowl toss the radish, carrots, cilantro, scallion and toss with a sprinkling of salt pour the dressing over the veggies and toss well, refrigerate until ready to serve. Toss with crushed peanuts (optional).

Be back soon:)

Monday, July 15, 2013

#288 Prawn Pepper Fry

The King of Spices -Pepper, it has been the most sought after spice long before the time of Alexander's conquest of India. Many continents were discovered in the plight to find and grow this medicinal spice. But, the Malabar Coast of India proudly boasts of the best possible bounty of pepper and it flourishes in the warm and humid Monsoon forests in the state of Kerala. Pepper has always been used for stomach aches, digestive ailments and even for slight fevers in the East. It is said that the monks of India were advised to swallow 7-9 whole pepper beads every day to protect their immune systems while on long treks. Above all, pepper was so valuable that it was even used to pay taxes!!

As we all know,  coastal regions like this also get the freshest seafood so large shrimp or prawns as they are lovingly called are plentiful. That's how the cool Prawn met his match in the warm black pepper and the wedlock of a Prawn Pepper Fry was established. This recipe is a true favorite in my family and one that was handed down from my grandmother and my aunt.

Although I've made this fry many times with North-Atlantic shrimp, I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing like the sweet flavor of shrimp from the Arabian Sea or Malabar Coast to get the real authentic taste. The pepper does not overpower the shrimp or the rest of the ingredients. Instead, this match made in heaven is blissful-the sweetness of the shrimp, caramelized onions and the slight hint of pepper in the background enhanced by an abundance of curry leaves makes this Prawn Fry my very special side dish.  My first cousin M is known for making one of the best versions of this Prawn fry--- I love the way you make it M and this one is for you.

Medium to large shrimp- 2 lbs
Spanish Onions-2 large or Shallots-7-8
Green chillies-5
Ginger paste-1 tspn
Curry leaves- 2-3 spring/stems
Turmeric powder-1/2 tspn
Chilli powder- 1 tspn
Coriander Powder- 2tspn
Fennels eed powder-1 tspn
Ripe Beefsteak Tomato- 1 chopped
Cilantro stems chopped-1 Tblspn (After using the fresh delicate leaves of the cilantro, the stem that holds them together do not have to be tossed, this part holds the best flavor of the cilantro)
Coconut Slices-6(Since I had freshly grated coconut I have used that in my recipe) - 1 Tbslpsn

Mustard seeds-1 tspn, olive oil and salt to taste

Freshly Ground Kerala Masala: Roast these spices lightly and grind in a coffee grinder:
5 cloves , 4 bay leaves, 1 " cinnamon stick, 1/4 whole nutmeg, 2 cardamoms, 1/2 tspn black pepper and 1 star anise.

Shell, devein, wash and drain the shrimp well into a bowl. Add enough salt, ginger paste, chili and turmeric powder in the shrimp and toss well. Keep aside.
In a Wok or frying pan, add about 2-3 Tblspns of Olive oil. When the oil is hot enougha dd mustard seeds and 1/2 the curry leaves and let the seeds splutter. Add finely chopped Spanish onions and green chilles and saute on a low to medium flame until the onions lets off caramel aroma and starts getting golden brown. Toss the chopped tomato and suate until the mixture loses most of the moisture,

Add the coriander powder, cilantro stems and a little turmeric powder and saute until the raw smell is gone. Toss in the Shrimp and stir fry until it is just cooked and dry roasted. Do not overcook the shrimp or it will be tough to eat. Add about 2 Tspns of the Freshly Ground Kerala Masala, Fennel seed powder and the rest of the Curry leaves. Remove from fire and immediately add more freshly grated pepper if desired along with the coconut slices. Serve hot.

Monday, July 8, 2013

#287 Andhra Style Stuffed Pepper Pakoras

I have this ardent love for fresh Peppers and I can never buy enough to satiate it. This year, I've been fortunate to get a fairly good outcome from growing a few of my favorite peppers right here on my deck. Now, I have more than enough and find many ways to use finger hot peppers, Jalapenos, Banana peppers and my favorite Anaheim peppers-the larger (fried) of the two in the pics.

Why are Anaheims always appearing on my menus? While on my kitchen adventures, I've come to the conclusion that they are deliciously subtle and mild in flavor. They grabbed my attention simply because they are not overly spicy, the skin is delicate when grilled and most importantly- they are pliable enough for stuffing. 

As for me, I cannot handle piping hot/finger hot peppers --the ones normally used in traditional Andhra cuisine. I can enjoy my favorite Andhra(state in India) recipes such as Mirchi Ka Salan and Mirapakaya Bajji aka Stuffed Pepper Pakora (fritters) which I will be making today with the help of these mild peppers. If you prefer to use the fingerhot or jalapeno peppers instead, go right ahead and enjoy the heat.  But for those of you who are interested here's a peek at a couple of other ways I've used them.
Mirch Ka Salan
Chipotle Ginger Soy Tuna Tacos

Stuffed peppers can be made with so many different fillings beyond my imagination, one that I am familiar with is the kachori filling that I love. Most often, crushed peanuts are used but feel free to experiment with either almonds, cashews, coconut, sesame or sunflower

For Batter:
1 cup Besan/Chickpea flour
2 Tbslpn cornflour or rice flour(to make it crisp)
1/4 tspn asafoetida powder
1 tspn chili powder
salt to taste
a pinch of baking soda

For the Filling:
3 Tblspn sunflower seeds(any nuts may be subsituted or even sesame seeds)
1 tspn ajwain
1 tspn tamarind paste
1/2 tspn brown sugar
1/2 onion chopped fine
1 Tblspn chopped cilantro.
Salt to taste
Anaheim Peppers-6-8
Oil for deep frying

Mix together the ingredients for the batter with a little water until you get the consistency of thick pancake batter.
(Make sure it is thick enough to stick to the peppers when you dip them in)
Mix the ingredients for the filling in a seperate bowl and mix well to combine flavors.
Make a slit along the side of each pepper to make a pocket, and spoon the filling into each pocket dividing it equally among all 6-8
peppers. Keep aside for a few minutes.
Place a wok or a deep frying pan with enough oil to deep fry the peppers over a medium fire.
Heat until the oil is hot enough. Dipe the stuffed peppers gently into the batter covering all sides of it.
Now, gently slip them into the hot oil very carefully, Let them fry on one side completely before turning them over.
Note: The peppers must not be turned until the lower side is completely done or it will break in the oil.
When both sides are lightly browned and cooked well, remove from the oil draining it on paper towels to get off the extra oil.

Serve these whole or slice them into bite size peices with mint or tamarind chutney.

Monday, July 1, 2013

#286 Chipotle Ginger SoyTuna Tacos

The health implications of eating animal flesh are forcing conscious people to move towards the veggie world. As a result veggie consumption has continued to grow and alleviate everywhere, especially benefiting those with allergies who are improving their health by incorporating as many vegetables as possible in their diets. If you can grow vegetables in your backyard, then you are truly blessed because the harvest is naturally nutritious and much sweeter than those from supermarkets, some are even doused with chemicals. Commercially grown vegetables must be sprayed with them so as to keep away pest infestation and it's natural that these chemicals are used. Not that these veggies are in any way harmful, but it takes hard work to completely wash out all the chemicals before cooking, leaving the added fear of missing a few spots!

I am not as dedicated a vegetable gardener as I would like to be but I reap the fruits of my labor by growing a few vegetables that are sweet, fresh and chemical free. I've been lucky to get some fresh Anaheim peppers this year, and I'm sharing how I included them in a simple Ginger soy and Roasted pepper Tuna Tacos.

Spicy Ginger Soy Chili Tuna Tacos
Spanish onion sliced- 1
Sweet Red Bell pepper-1/2
Anaheim Peppers-3
Chunk Tuna in water-2 regular size cans drained well.
Chipotle pepper and sauce- 1/2 tspn
Yogurt- 1/4 cup
Crispy Taco shells or any of your favorite soft tacos
Ginger, soy, honey and crushed red pepper -whisk together to make a dressing
Salt, pepper and olive oil as needed
 For garnish
Chopped lettuce
Chopped Tomato

Mix together 1 tspn of Olive oil, 1 tspn lime juice, salt and pepper and mix well together.
Grill the peppers over the stove or grill until dark blotches are formed on the skin. Cool.
Slice Red onion, Bell pepper and Poblano Pepper and toss them in the above dressing.
Heat a stovetop grill and grill the marinated vegetables until slightly charred.
Remove and cool. Now mix well together 1 Tblspn of olive oil, lime juice of half a lime,
1-2 Tblspn of the Ginger-soy dressing, salt, pepper and mix well in a glass bowl.
Toss the well drained Tuna into the dressing and mix well with a fork. Add the grilled vegetables and toss gently to mix.
In a seperate bowl whisk together the yogurt and finely crushed chipotle pepper in sauce until well blended. Keep aside.
Warm the Taco shells in a pre-heated oven until they are just warm and crisp.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Place two shells on a serving plate. spoon in about 1-2 Tblspns of the tuna veggie mixture into
each of them. Top with lettuce and tomatoes. Drizzle the chipotle sauce over each one and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Squeeze Lime juice over the top and Enjoy!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

# 285 Eggplant in Tomato Gravy for a Food Hero

June 16th was special for Fathers around the world.  Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there.  It wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention my father in the month of June.  This post is in remembrance of my father!!

Fishing or farming were not part of my childhood at all, although my parents made sure they raised me on some of the freshest and healthiest fruits and vegetables.  Being a scientist, my father was particular about our daily quota of vegetables, fruits and nutritious home made food.  My parents were sticklers for making sure diary, fruits, fish, eggs, grains and vegetables were part of all our meals. Many decades ago no-one talked about the 'five a day' theory or health benefits of fruits but my mother kept up with his menu pattern until he passed away.

I've been oblivious to the pains and benefits of growing your own produce myself, although my father had his own vegetable garden in the back yard where he grew fresh okra, tapioca, bananas, eggplants, guavas, tomatoes and peanuts as a mere hobby.  Our family lived in a fascinating city in India with a healthy climate all year around, the capital of the powerful Maratha empire and a colonial British architecture. The quarters we lived in had a lot of land hedged in with green shrubbery. There was enough room to grow a flower garden, a beautiful lawn and a big back yard vegetable garden with trees.

I admired his passion at maintaining a flourishing veggie garden and the fact that he grew a few of his favorites himself. Being a renowned scientist he had a busy schedule from which he had to find  dedicated time for this hobby. But he spent his evenings outside making veggie beds, watering his plants and removing weeds. Had he been alive and well, my father would have been 86 years old today but he is still my "Food Hero"!!

If I were to follow in his footsteps, the Urban woman in me would get her hands dirty cultivating an expansive vegetable garden and growing all her produce. But, in reality I'm have not an accomplished gardener like him.  I could easily be enticed into growing tomatoes, herbs, green beans and green peppers, but with some extra time and effort I would love to grow eggplants, squash and even cauliflower someday.  

 Eggplant was one of my Dad' favorite vegetables so here's to Father's day--sorry Dad I've used the eggplants from the supermarket.  I've certainly inherited his passion for this purple vegetable because they are versatile and can be flavored with almost anything but tomatoes and eggplant are a match made in heaven!!

Whole baby eggplants- 10
Chili powder- 1 Tblspn
Turmeric- 1 Tblspn
Tomatoes- 2 large
Onions- 1 chopped fine
Coriander powder- 1/2 tspn
Green chilis- 2
Garlic cloves- 7
Salt to taste
Olive Oil as needed.
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tspn


Wash and dry the eggplants. Keeping the stems on the eggplants, slice into quarters from the broader end to the stem without  completely splitting them, but keeping them whole.
Mix together half of the turmeric and chili powder adding salt to taste and 1 tspn on Olive oil.
Take one eggplant at a time and apply the chili mixture to the inside of the quartered eggplant stuffing it with the spice without breaking them apart. Keep aside.

Next, slice the onions, garlic and green chilies into smaller pieces and keep aside.
Also chop tomatoes as small as possible and keep aside.

Place a large wok over a medium fire. Add 2 Tblspns of Olive oil. When it gets warm, add the eggplants and slowly brown them on all sides by turning after every minute or two. Drain and keep aside.
In the same wok, add another Tablespoon of olive oil, when it gets warm, add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Toss in the chopped onion, garlic, green chili mixture and saute for a few minutes until the onion turns golden brown. Add tomatoes and coriander powder and let it cook together until a soft mushy red mass is formed.

Add enough salt to taste, toss the eggplants and 1/2 cup water. Cook covered until the eggplants are cooked inside and absorbs the gravy.
Serve hot with steamed rice or rotis.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

#284 Spaghetti Squash in Broccoli Rabe Pesto

The word 'Fiber' used to bring pictures of unattractive Oat Bran muffins and Metamucil to my mind, until recently. Today, we're conscious of the nutrition value on a can of beans or oatmeal while shopping. We watch out for high fiber content in the foods we buy- making sure it is just enough to satisfy our body's fiber needs. What is fiber? It is an integral part of a plant that your body cannot digest and it could come from whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits or vegetables. That doesn't sound very appetizing now, does it? It may even sound horrific(undigestible plant food), but it's really quite good for you. The discovery that fiber can help in heart, diabetes and even gastrointestinal health has made it the most sought-after dietery ingredient among health 'nuts'.

While on my quest for fibre rich products, I came across a familiar yellow oval Spaghetti Squash and bright green Broccoli Rabe. What caught my eye was this vegetable that I hadn't brought home in years, the Spaghetti Squash. It is versatile, loaded with fiber and very satisfying. Although most of its calories come from natural sugars it also contains high nutrients and much lower carbs than pasta. I split the squash into halves and gently placed it in a Microwave in a bowl filled with water cooking each half for some 20 mins. Then remove the cooked flesh away from the skin and voila you can serve this with plain old salt and pepper. But this squash has the relative texture of pasta, is a fantastic substitute and even looks like spaghetti.
Broccoli Rabe is a bit bitter when serving it steamed, so a little pulse with nuts and cheese and you have a phenomenal pesto. While my date with this long lost friend went really well, here's how it became memorable............

Anne Burrell had a marvelous recipe for Broccoli Rabe Pesto that I 've been wanting to make for some time. It
had potential for change so here it is with my own twists and turns:
1 cup Broccoli rabe tough stems removed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Lemon juice- 2 Tblspn
garlic cloves-4
salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Cook the Broccoli Rabe in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge in ice water to stop the cooking.
This will keep the color of the Rabe bright and attractive. Measure out 1 cup Broccoli rabe leaves to make the pesto and keep the rest aside to serve aside the Squash.
Drain the broccoli rabe and squeeze out any excess water; coarsely chop. Place the broccoli rabe in the bowl of a food processor and puree until it is a coarse paste. Add the nuts and parmigiano and puree until smooth.
Taste and adjust the seasoning; you probably will need more salt.
Add the yogurt and pulse until combined. Taste for seasoning once again-it should be full-flavored, slightly bitter and creamy at the same time. Set aside.

Cook the Squash in the microwave (when baked, I noticed a change in color) in a bowl of water for   10  mins.Cool and gently remove the strands of squash using a fork and into a shallow glass dish.
Add 1 tspn of freshly ground black pepper (white pepper if you have it in the pantry) a little melted butter or EVOO as needed and toss in the pesto allowing the strands to be completed covered. Serve with fresh bread or a salad.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

#283 Korean Style Eggplant Rollatinis over Cilantro Cream

When R and I feel a craving for  'Korean' food we go straight to the part of town bustling with Asian  restaurants. Bibimpap and Bulgogi are undoubtedly the Korean favorites in my family and someone orders at least one of them at every visit. I wouldn't try making Bibimpap at home without the hot stone pot it is traditionally made in, but I've tried the diverse set of pickled vegetables in Korean cuisine that creates a play of flavors. The array of seaweed salad, pickled anchovies, beans sprouts and of course Kimchi that are served before the food is brought out acts well to cleanse your palate.  Out of all these, most outstanding is the pickled cucumbers and radish in vinegar and chili-they are also simple relishes to whip up at home. Kimchi is available in plenty at the Asian grocery and so is Tofu.  I've been experimenting with Korean style foods and flavors so why not use simple veggies to create a flavor that reminds one of Korean food!!!

Would you say Tofu is processed? It is made from curdling soy milk into solids so it could fall in that category, yet it has been a prominent food in Asian cuisine for hundreds of years.  The nutritional value of this product is so high that it's highly recommended for vegans/vegetarians. When Tofu is pressed enough to drain out all the water it takes on any flavor, and makes it usable as a stuffing for vegetables useful for its high protein content.  Chili garlic paste has been used in the vinegar pickles as well as for falvoring the Tofu in this dish.

Homemade Pickled Diakon Radish and Cucumbers

Firm Tofu-  1 pack
Chili-garlic paste- 1 Tbslpns
Soy sauce- 1Tblpsn
Green onions- 2 stems chopped
Large Italian Eggplant-1 (or 2 medium sized eggplants)

Cilantro Cream:
Sour cream- 1 cup
Chopped Cilantro- 1/2 cup
Lime juice, salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients well to form cream.

                                                     My favorite chilis and chili pastes!
1. Remove Tofu from the pack and press for a few hours until all the water is removed.
You may wrap the tofu in paper towels, place over a bowl with a heavy can over the tofu
for a few hours. The water drains out slowly.
2. Crumble the tofu into a warm pan with olive oil to saute. Add chili-garlic paste
soy sauce and saute until the tofu has no water remaining. Add onions and mix well.keep aside.
3. Slice the Eggplant about 1/4 inch thick like cross sections that go lengthwise.
4. Place on a baking sheet and roast until slightly soft and browned. remove.
5. Take each eggplant section and place a Tablespoon of tofu in the middle.
6. Roll the eggplant from the narrow end and over the filling tightening gently as you roll.
7. Serve warm or cold with cilantro cream poured over th top.

Friday, May 31, 2013

#282 Eastern Europe to Asia- Cabbage Rolls with Balsamic Glaze

Eastern Europe can go between Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, and there is bound to be some version of "Stuffed Cabbage" in every part of Eastern Europe. To name a few-- the Lithuanians call it "holubki", Polish
call them "Golabki", for Serbs it is "Sarma" and it so on and on.....In Middle Eastern, Greek, Asian and Italian cuisine it is very common to stuff all kinds of vegetables with ground meat.

When my husband and I go Chinese somedays, there's one thing on the menu that I must have and that's pot stickers. It always amazes me how these tiny packages are filled with finely chopped shrimp or veggies and crimped to perfect bites. I've made a similar steamed package only instead of dough I've used cabbage. My cabbage rolls are stuffed with Asian spiced veggies and eggs and steamed. I stumbled upon the idea of combining the European cabbage filled packages tweaking it to a pot sticker filling. A kick of ginger, a sweet Balsamic dip and eliminating the dough in the traditional pot sticker. There's no harm in adding a bit of ground pork or chicken if you so wish just like the original. My stuffing is a light fried rice version  with crisp waterchestnuts, ginger and soft bamboo shoots very savory and a bit spicy with firm texture. Last but not least, the sweet Balsamic reduction cuts into the cabbage layers with a zesty sweet flavor.

1 Tablespoon cooked brown rice
chopped scallions-1/4 cup
chopped bamboo shoots- 5 oz can chopped fine
chopped water chestnuts-8 oz can chopped
Cabbage- 1 medium
ginger chopped- 1 tspn
garlic chopped- 1/2 tspn
soy sauce- 1 Tblspn
Mirin/rice wine-1/2 tspn
Chili flakes- 1/2 tspn
Olive oil
Balsamic Reduction....Reduce 1 cup Balsamic vinegar down to 1/4 cup

1. Into a medium hot Wok, add the olive oil.
2. Add ginger, garlic, chili flakes and saute adding one veggie
at a time until all of them are slightly cooked yet crisp.
3. Now add the soy sauce, wine and beaten eggs and finally the
 rice mix the ingredients vigorously in the Wok until the
eggs are just cooked and holds the rice together with the veggies.
remove and cool.
4. Remove about 10 leaves from the cabbage and steam lightly in
hot water until just cooked and pliable.
5. Place the cabbage leaf on a flat surface and add a scoop of the
fried rice mixture in the center. Roll the cabbage just like you
would roll a springroll to encase the rice mixture completely.
6. Place a vegetable steamer with water at the bottom ready.
7. When you are done with making rolls with the cabbage leaves and
there is no filling remaining, place the rolls in the steamer
above the water and steam until done for about 10 mins.
8. Make a Balsamic vinegar reduction. Serve as a dipping sauce.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Girls Weekend out on Memorial Day 2013

Once again, it’s time to kick my heels and cares away and enjoy another one of our “ladies weekend out” trips.  This Memorial Day weekend was one of the best Ladies Night Out parties I’ve enjoyed in a long time!! This time it was food related and that too in NY City with a character of its own!!

While we took the Amtrak up there we planned a “Food Tour”, visits to NBC studios and Ground zero. We had tickets to the Food on foot tour before boarding the train. This was the first time any of us had gone on such a tour but after the experience I must recommend all of you to take it at least once because it was admirable how much we learnt about culture while enjoying different cuisine all in just three short hours.

A Food tour of New York City exposed us to one special neighborhood of this great city-Greenwich Village and its local food.  A tour guide met up with us at John’s Pizzeria on Beecker Street on a cold windy day and an ugly drizzle with little visibility.
Risotto balls
We were just beginning to think if it was a good idea after all- since the weather was not cooperating and the tour was on foot,  when we were joined by Cindy the tour guide. The bright little tour guide turned up on time and cheered us up so well as if the sun was shining down bright and warm. Her positive attitude made the entire trip unbelievably fun!! Her stories about the food, culture and the history at each of our stops, the tasting sessions of bottomless food made it so lively and generous that we were disappointed when the 3 hour trip ended.
The legendary Joe's Pizza visited by celebrities!!

Gelato on a stick- my favorite is dark chocolate dipped in hazelnuts

Weather worries were forgotten in between culture stories and tastes of heavenly food.   I would like to share a few pics with you on the sample food we ate on the tour…………….

              Kathi rolls -the favorite Indian snack savory fillings inside a flour roti with mint chutney
 Winner of the cupcake wars--- a taste of the Red Velvet cake from Molly's cupcakes.
The dramatic end of the tour with mini Canoli's -Of course!!
What a great way to end the meal with a decadent canoli with chocolate chips, pistachio and powdered sugar....................Mmmmmmmmm!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

#281 Spring Cleaning --Green in a Glass

I'm on my weekly shopping spree and the Giant store logo "5 a day" blinks back at me in bright semi-circles. I rush in and out picking up groceries and a few snacks I don't need on my brisk walk down the isles of the supermarket.

Many of us bump health and dietery concerns beyond our priority list since we are always on the run.
Sometimes I am so tired I skip breakfast or dinner and then feel the lack of energy. Do you think of ways to boost your energy like I do? Not by drinking Redbull or any of those energy 'boosting' drinks that are available but with something nutritious and quick. How often do you have time to make fresh juices for breakfast or make an egg sandwich before you leave for work? 

Green shakes and juices were never attractive to me until now. But, recently my daughter "N" the natural food lover was cleaning up her apartment and in the process she moved her  fruit juicer to my pantry. What better way to put it to good use than juicing everything from the fridge!! Boost your
energy and detoxify with this awesome green juice-and while doing so you can invest in a juice extractor!!
--it certainly made me energetic!!

There are a few combinations I've always wanted to juice and I was not disappointed with the results of this one. If you hate green drinks, you will certainly change your mind after one sip of this smooth drink......

3 green apple
1 bunch celery stalks
2 cucumbers
1 inch ginger
1/2 lime

Wash, clean and dry veggies. If you have a juicer there's not much to do but cut up the veggies into cubes and pass it through the machine. Out comes the wonderfully nutritious Green Juice.

Friday, May 17, 2013

#280 No Frills Vegetable Vermicelli Biryani

We spent Mother's day evening roaming parts of a little Town Center. The weather was pleasant, although it seemed like the sun was hesitant to come out most of the day. Walking right past upscale stores we stopped at Yogi berri for frozen yo. I was thrilled with the Taro and Thai Tea ice cream they allowed us to taste--- who knew they could come up with a decent amount of unique ice-cream flavors. We got ourselves a moderate to large amount of oreo soft serve with many toppings and settled down in front of the fountain. It once used to be the center of the ice-skating ring, but now, its
been converted to a play ground. Here, children rode their strider bikes and Moms with babies on strollers slowly paced up and down.

The fountain draws attention of many kinds.... there were daughters taking pictures with Moms, some hungrily chomping down on Panera sandwiches and others just talking in loud voices. A young lady stopped by me and wanted to know where I got my ice cream ....and I pointed out the little store tucked in between the burger joint and Clydes to her.  But, it wasn't visible from where we sat so I offered to walk down with her --- her little boy running to catch up with us.  I went back to join R and enjoy the rest of the day. It has been lighter in the evenings for the past few weeks so the sun did not set until 8 o'clock. We drifted back into conversation until it was time to walk all the way over and around a couple of buildings to the garage where our car was located.

Last night dinner was something Amma made quite often....

A light and healthy main dish my Mother used to dish up in her kitchen. In fact, she made it one day even while I was visiting her last December. This is one of her favorites too.  Although my version here is a simple 'bare bones', 'no frills' kind of Biryani without fancy garnishes, you could choose to add shrimp or an egg omelette, chaews and raisins to take it to another level!

Carrot- 1 large cut into long sticks
Beans- 1/2 cup
Cabbage-1/2 cup
green peas- 1/4 cup
onions-2 chopped
green chilis-2
ginger-garlic paste- 1 Tblspn
Whole raw spices 2 each- cloves, cardamoms, cinammon, pepper and bay leaves.
Ghee or butter- 4 Tblspns
Cashews or raisins (optional)
Cilantro chopped- 1/2 cup
Vermicelli- 3 cups

1. Place a saucepan over medium fire and roast the vermicelli until it is light brown. Remove set aside.
2. Place the saucepan back on the fire and add the ghee, whole spices and roast for a minute.
3. Toss in the chopped onions and green chilies and saute until the onions are golden brown. add the beans and carrot.
4. Saute until soft and then add green peas and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Saute another minute.
5. Add the ginger garlic paste and when it is cooked, add the vermicelli, season with salt and about 3 cups water.
(Be careful with the water. If the vermicelli is very fine, add 1/2 the measure of water and if it is thicker then add 3 cups)
Any excess water will make the biryani mushy. So add less water at first and then as the noodles cook, you can add a little more if needed.
6. Slowly let it cook without stirring. When the water has evaporated, slowly let it cool before fluffing it with a fork.
7. Garnish with Cilantro, cashews, raisins or any dry fruits and serve.

Monday, May 13, 2013

#279 Sloppy Lentil Joe Turnovers/Pies

While I'm graciously waiting for Summer and patiently bearing the cold weather, I've shed any desire for having salads or ice cream. I thoroughly enjoy a plethora of fresh salads this time last year, I want to change the pattern and take an adventurous route.  Instead of plain straightforward recipes or meals, I'm about to turn the vegetarian dinner table into a garden of earthly delights mixing and matching dishes, cuisines and getting ready to make something different in the next few posts. Don't be alarmed! I am not going to go wild and cook something totally weird!! I'm merely looking for some excitement with vegetarian food--  dishes that may include eggs and seafood. Possibly ideas to use leftovers or a combination of two everyday meals put together. I will start the series today by making Sloppy Joes and then turn it into a savory turnover or pie.  The idea was born from something I read from this one

Sloppy Joes with ground beef were a favorite with my children so when I read this recipe I was motivated to re-make it in my kitchen after all these years. Many years ago,  my little girls loved to bite into the buns and have the meaty sauce ooze out onto the plate. Then they cleaned the sauce off the plates with tidbits of bread. Another top-rated dish that they loved is the Pot Pie so why not combine their two favorites into an adult version. The saucey lentil and veggie mixture inside a crispy biscuit shell was quick enough to bake and the family was thrilled with the results.  The zip in the zesty sauce,  the creaminess of the lentils  and the goey cheese make even those with a carnivorous tooth unable to resist the tempation to reach out for a second pie.  If you have leftover pastry dough, phyllo or puff pastry that is ideal for the crust. I've used Buttermilk biscuit dough from a can!!

Sloppy Joe sauce

1/8th of a tspn of horseradish
1 Tblspn mustard
1 Tblspn sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tblspn vinegar
1/2 tspn Worcestershire sauce

Blend sauce together

1/4 cup whole brown lentils
1/2 cup each of chopped onions, carrots, celery and green pepper
1/8 tspn garlic
salt and pepper to taste.
grated mozarella cheese
Biscuit dough (preferably frozen in a can)

1. Cook 1/4 cup whole brown lentils. drain and keep aside.
2. Saute 1/2 cup of chopped onions, carrots, celery and green pepper in 2 Tblspn butter.
3. Turn off the fire, add salt and black pepper to taste and 1/2 tspn garlic paste.
4. Remove the biscuit dough from the can and taking each round of biscuit, using a
rolling pin spread the dough into a larger circle.
5. Place 1 Tablespoon of Sloppy mixture onto half of the circle.

6. Sprinkle cheese over the mixture. Gently fold the second half of the dough over the stuffing
7.Crimp the edges to make sure a crescent shaped pie is formed using a fork pressing down to bind the dough.
8. Make crescents in this way until all the biscuit dough and sloppy joe mixture is used up.
9. Place the crescents on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
10. Brush the top of each pie with melted butter. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees to about 10-15 mins or until the top is lightly browned.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#278 Fish Pickle from the land of Coconut Palms

It's almost here....Mother's Day and we haven't had time to talk about the one special lady in our lives who has been the epitome of patience  while raising us?

Mother--- she wears multiple hats switching from one to the other within minutes- tantrums, school activities and trips to the doctor to teary-eyed graduations. The one person in our life who acts as nurturer, friend, protector and is the ultimate example of extreme strength.  If you ask the mother in me I'd say 'when my children smile there's sunshine in my home'!!  Although we do much for Mom throughout the year, Mother's day is in her honor and we owe it to her to put aside everything else for this beautiful day. I'm making something extra special to let her know she is loved!!!

 Fish Pickle---Mmmm. For those of you who dislike fish you  are bound to be squeamish or queasy about fish in vinegar. Would you believe me if I told you that this pickle is nothing like that nor are they like "dill pickles"? It is incredibly  flavorful and nothing 'fishy' about the taste.  In fact, this is my favorite pickle and a recipe from my heart- my Mother's of course! 

Although fish is extremely healthy and good for you, it is a tricky protein to buy. I've noticed that the feel and aroma of fish suggests how fresh it is. "Stay away from those with cloudy, red eyes", my grandma used to say. The best way to test fish is to turn over the bony part over the gills. If they look bright red it's good to go and lastly it should never smell fishy, instead it should smell of the ocean-salty fresh-- all tips from the experts. But it's not always that simple and easy to test out the fish before you buy it right?

But this is a spicy, well-loved pickle in my family for many years so it gives me great pleasure in sharing the treasured recipe for Mother's day. In honor of my Grandma and Amma--- Happy Mother's Day!!

 Any firm fish like King fish, shrimp, tuna or salmon can be used.

A few things to remember when you are ready to pickle:
  • Sterilize the glass jars in which you want to store the pickle
  • Get the freshest fleshy fish from the market (no frozen fish please)
  • Since it involves vinegar I will suggest that you stay away from using any pans that may react to vinegar.
  • Lastly, after storing them never use wet spoons!!Always store in fridge and use it within 2-3 weeks.

The method may be a little time consuming and requires time and patience so to make it easier on myself I prepare everything and set it up, before I start frying the fish.
    Measure the following and line them up:

1 lb Salmon filet
2 cups vinegar (white)
10 red chillies
10-12 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 tspn turmeric powder
Salt and brown sugar to taste
1-2 cups oil for deep frying. (corn oil or vegetable oil)

So now, let's get to work:

1. Wash and remove the skin of the fish, Pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Cut the fish into 1/4 inch cubes carefully without breaking the pieces.
3. Marinate with the salt and turmeric.
4. Heat a deep wok with oil and when the oil is hot enough, drop the fish pieces gently
and fry until light brown in color and slightly crisp. Remove drain and keep aside.
5. Grind together the garlic, red chillies and roasted cumin into a very smooth paste using a little vinegar.
6. Heat Oil in  pan and when it is heated add mustard seeds and when they splutter,
add the chili paste and saute on low fire until the oil seperates out.
7. Add the rest of the ingredients except the fried fish.
8. Taste and season if needed, then bring to a quick boil and add fish peices,
remove from fire, stir and cool.
9. Allow the pickle to cool well before transferring to a sterlized glass jar/s.
10. Fresh prawns or Shrimp may be used instead of the fish too. In that case clean the shrimp and instead of deep frying them you may stir fry them before adding to the spice and vinegar.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

#277 Who invented these Ultimate semolina cakes? ---Fluffy Savory Rava Idli

My husband R and I absolutely love idlis. Idlis are steamed cakes made of pulses and rice and makes a wholesome meal served with chutney. But, what if we don't have idli batter in our fridge and we really want nothing but idlis for breakfast? Yes, we are picky when it comes to food!! Here's another quick way to make my version of the instant rava idli batter without the hassle of soaking, then grinding the pulse/rice mixture and waiting for it to rise ---the traditional way of making fluffy idlis. Sometimes the tummy needs to eat what the tastebuds crave and its not easy when you have time consuming dishes like that!! So here's the 'shortcut' version --I've added some extra zing by mixing in ginger, cilantro, onions and veggies to the batter and it requires no grinding or waiting.

2  cups Whole grain cream of wheat (lightly roasted)(or rawa/sooji)
4 cups buttermilk
3 tbsp  oil
salt to taste
1 tsp chana
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch of asafoetida
chopped onions-2 Tbspn
2 green chillies , finely chopped
green peas and grated carrots- 1/2 cup
Swiss Chard chopped-1/4 cup
cilantro chopped-1 tblspn
extra olive oil for greasing the idli cups
soda-bicarb- 1 tspn

 1.Whisk together the rawa, buttermilk, 2 tbsp of oil and salt together in a bowl. To allow the rawa to soak the buttermilk
let this set for about 30mins.
2.Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds and chana.
3.When the seeds crackle add the asafoetida, curry leaves, onions, green chillies and sauté for a few seconds.
Then add the swiss chard, carrots, green peas and a bit of salt to just steam in their own juices.
4.When the vegetables are cooked, pour the tempering over the semolina batter and mix well.
5.Sprinkle a little water over the soda bicard in a cup, when the bubbles form mix it gently into the batter along
with the cilantro.
6.Pour spoonfuls of the batter into greased idli moulds and steam for 8 to 10 minutes.
7.Serve hot with onion/tomato chutney, pickle or sambhar.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

# 276 A Prayer and Cherry Tomato Rice

In light of the devastation at the Boston Marathon,Watertown residents stayed vigilant for fear of an escaped suspect for a day until he was found. My heart goes out to each one of them for what they had to go through. Last Friday night we all took a sigh of relief  when the second suspect was captured and taken into custody. In some way or other it affected all Americans and although we continue on with our lives, we utter a small prayer for all those who lost loved ones. We go about our routines, work, commute and dinner as usual, but now we know the distressed families are at peace now that the last surviving suspect was taken in.

Today, I'm sharing a simple Tomato Rice I made last night. The good news is it takes very simple ingredients from your pantry to make this dish, the bad news is that it will disappear so fast that you will have absolutely no leftovers for the next day. Tomato rice is a dish in India and is made from tomato paste pre-prepared and tossed over cooked Basmati rice until it is well coated and flavored lightly. The tanginess of tomato rice is even lighter when using cherry tomatoes and it appears decorative enough to serve at parties. I served the rice with large mussels stir fried with Masala paste although it does not need a side-dish at all.

Cooked Basmati rice- 4 cups
Garlic, ginger and thai green pepper paste- 2 Tblspn
Onion chopped fine- 1white onion
Ghee- 3 Tablespoons.
Cherry tomatoes halved-1 pint
Cilantro chopped- 1/2 cup
roasted cashews- 1/4 cup
Hot chili sauce with ketchup- 2 Tblspn (also available in Indian groceries)
Whole spices -3 cloves, 2 sticks cinnamon, 2 cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves
Salt and Olive Oil as needed

1. Place a heavy bottomed paella pan(wide mouthed) over medium fire.
2. Add ghee to it and additional olive oil if necessary. Add the whole spices.
allow them to roast for a few mins and toss in the onion and saute until soft and golden.
3. Add the garlic/ginger/pepper paste and let saute until the paste lets out a nice aroma.
4. Add the halved tomatoes and saute for just 2 mins. DO not over cook them.
5. Toss in the rice and chili/ketchup(substitute with 3 tblsp ketchup and 1 tspn chili sauce).
6. Add enough salt to taste and mix well. Remove from fire.
7. Serve garnished with cilantro and cashews. I served it with Indian style Masala Mussels.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#275 The last of the Soup Season-Low Carb New England Style Fish Chowder

"Chowda" (Chowder) is the kind of soup that most people associate with clams but it turns out that 'Chowder' is derived from the French-Canadian word "chaudiere" or cooking pot. Yes, just like the name suggests, this creamy white soup is made in one pot. Only, I made mine without any bacon or potatoes very unlike the traditional New England soup or the tomato based Manhattan style soup. If done right, a really good chowder involves many steps, but the results are worth the effort.

But first, I must admit that I am souped out this winter. The reason for that is because both R (my husband) and I were badly hit with the respiratory virus our friendly co-workers shared with us a couple of months ago. We were so sick that it was Soup and broth for weeks until we overcame the prolonged cough that lasted for over six weeks. Even the Center for Disease Control seemed to think this past Winter Flu overshadowed all other winter miseries circulating across the nation. But with fresh fish on hand and fresh fish broth, I wanted to get a good old Chowder brewing before we drive out the remaining cold air of the past season.
Besides, there's no harm in making one more bone warming soup just as we move on to warm weather and I was right -the soup turned out to be comforting, thick, creamy and deeelicious:)

Whole Fish- 1 lb with head
1/2 onion chopped
3 shallots chopped fine
3Tblspn Olive oil
1 tspn butter
4 sprigs thyme
6 garlic cloves, 1/2 onion, 2 bay  leaves and 1 tspn whole pepper
1 Large head of Fennel and fronds
1 cup dry white wine
2 sticks celery
1/4 cup cornflour
1 cup thick cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha- 1/4 tspn

1. Take a crock pot and add 4-5 cups cold water.  Wash and clean the fish well.
Place the entire fish along with the head, skin and bones into the water.
2. Seperate the fennel bulb from the fronds. Chop the Bulb fine.keep aside.
3. Add the garlic, bay leaves, 1/2 onion. pepper into the water and fish.
4. On a medium fire slowly let the water and fish boil. Gently remove the fish and head
from the water. When cooled seperate the flesh of the fish from the bones, head, skin and keep
the flesh aside in large chunks.  Toss the rest of the fish.
5. Strain the fish broth well passing it through a strainer to remove the fronds and any bones.
6. Chop the celery into small peices and keep aside.
7. Take the same crock pot, add butter and oil place on a medium fire.
8. Add the onions and shallots and saute along with thyme until it is translucent.
9. Add chopped fennel, celery  and saute well.
10. Add the strained fish broth- it will be about 3 cups, add wine, salt and pepper.
11. Add the Sriracha and slowly let the vegetables cook for about 20 mins,
12. Mix the cornflour with a little water and add this slurry to the soup. Simmer
until it is quite thickened. remove from fire.
13. Add the cream and stir well. Add 1 tspn of chopped Fennel fronds or dill.
serve hot.

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