Monday, January 28, 2013

#262 Refreshingly sweet Gingria

Who wants a drink? Ginger and sangria just like the name says made right at home with the right proportions of ginger that I like.  Sometimes when making  a mixed drink such as this,  the fresh ginger juice adds tons of flavor and makes your eyes fill-up with joy (or maybe it's the heat of the ginger)!!

1 Tblspn Ginger juice. (crush ginger root and squeeze out the juice)
2 ounces Cherry Syrup from marachino cherries
2 marachino cherries
5-6 ounces club soda
1 ounce red wine
Ice cubes

1. Take a cocktail shaker and add all the ingredients except the club soda and red wine in it.
2. Shake well together and pour halfway into a tall glass or wine glass.
3. Pour Club soda to about 3/4th the glass and very gently pour red wine on the surface just
to make sure it does not go to the bottom and mix. Serve.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

#261 Presidential Scallops with a touch of Thai flavor

While the President had Hickory Grilled Bison with Wild Huckelberry Reduction for lunch, as citizens we can at least enjoy a much smaller yet luxurious meal today. It is after all the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC. The weather has been swinging from warm to cold these days, and days are getting a bit longer. We have yet to see the white soft stuff that usually adorns the earth around this time in our area but this week temps have dropped down to the twenties.  School children are not the only ones who want to stay home and enjoy a snow day or two!!

It has been a fairly good yesterday, so the Presidential Inauguration was celebrated with pomp and luxury in the Nation's Capital. Other than a few road closings downtown, there are no inconveniences to daily life but loafs of tourists from all over the country have gathered for the festivities.  Since things are quiet at home, I was more than inspired to make this delightful vegetable noodle topped with a simple pan seared scallops all doused in red curry paste and creamy coconut milk. A soul-warming dinner for my family -a memorable end to the second Presidential Inauguration of President Obama!!

Servings: 3
Cooking time: 30 mins

Fresh Scallops cleaned and washed- 6-7
1/2 cup coconut milk
chopped cilantro
cucumber julienned
Whole wheat pasta- 1/4 lb
Vegetables of your choice (red and green peppers, mushrooms and bamboo shoots are recommended)
salt and red pepper flakes
Olive oil

•1 shallot, OR 1/4 cup purple onion, chopped
•1 thumb-size piece galangal, OR ginger, sliced
•3 cloves garlic
•1/8 tsp. white pepper, OR substitute black pepper
•2 Tbsp. fish sauce (available at Asian stores)
•2 tsp. chili powder
•2 tsp. ground cumin
•1 tsp. ground coriander
•1 Tbsp. brown sugar
•1-2 tsp. Thai chili sauce (or substitute 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or crushed dried chili)
•1 tsp. shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian stores)

1. Place all the ingredients for the curry paste in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
2. Marinate the scallops in about 3-4 Tblpoons of the above paste. Keep aside.
3. Cook the wheat pasta in boiling water until al dente. Toss into a little olive oil,
vegetables, salt and red pepper. Keep warm.
4. Place a skillet over the fire and add 3 Tblspns oil and 1/2 tspn butter(optional-for flavor).
5. Swirl the skillet gently on medium fire until the butter just melts, when hot add the scallops and sear quickly,
make sure not to over cook, (Tip: Watch until a ridge starts forming around the edges-then you know they are just cooked)
6. Remove immediately when it is seared on both sides and just soft to the touch. It can get tough very easily.
7. Make a sauce with ginger and 2 tblpns of Curry paste and 1/2 cup coconut milk thicken well.
8. When ready to serve, place a portion of the vegetable pasta in the center of the plate, top with 2-3 scallops and pour the sauce over it as desired(alternatively serve sauce on the side). Garnish with cucumber strips.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

#260 Veggie Samosas on the Run

I may have to run a few extra miles on the treadmill next week after all the rich food I've enjoyed during the 2012 Holidays. However hard I try to avoid high-caloric meals, it seems like I can never get away from them and there's no accountability for my New Year's resolutions either!! Did you know that at least 50% of adults make resolutions at New Years and almost 50% of those resolutions are broken in the next six months? Of course that's no excuse for breaking mine but perhaps I would be better off developing well-informed and healthy eating habits instead of making diet resolutions. LOL!!

Today I had a short cooking session for V's friend 'K' from Oregon and I shared a few of my favorite Indian recipes with her. The session ended with dinner but I took this as a reason to fry up a traditional Indian snack- samosas. Quick and easy veggie stuffed pastries fried until crisp and crunchy.

For the filling-
Russet Potato-1
Carrot-1/2 large
Frozen Green peas-1/4 cup
Cauliflower florets- 1/4 cup
Onion chopped- 1/4 spanish onion
garam masala- 1/2 tspn
amchur(dried mango powder)-1/8 tspn
ginger paste- 1/8 tspn
chili powder- 1 pinch
A combination of coriander seeds, cumin seeds for light tempering.
Salt and Olive oil as needed.
Corn Oil for deep frying.
Cilantro chopped 1 tspn
For the dough-
All-purpose flour- 1 1/2 cups
Butter- 1/4 cup
Water- 1/2 to 1 cup (or just enough to form a soft dough)
salt and 1/2 tspn cumin seeds

1. Make a smooth, pliable but firm dough with the ingredients for the dough. Keep aside.
2. Cook the potato in microwave and cool. Remove skin and cool.
3. Heat oil add the seeds and then saute onions, chopped cauliflower and carrots well until cooked through,add green peas.
4. Add ginger, garam masala, amchur,chili and salt and mix until the mixture is dry.
5. add potatoes and mash well with cilanto.
6. Make lime-sized balls from the dough and roll out as thin as possible using a rolling pin and additional flour.
7. Form a circle with each ball and then cut into half each of these.
8. Take a spoonful of potato mixture and place at the center of each semi-cirle. Fold the two ends of the semi-circle
flap over each other close enough to cover the potato mixture well and none of it is exposed.
9. The end product should look like a stand-up small pyramid. Pinch well to seal.
10. Heat about 2 cups of corn oil in a wok. When the oil is hot, slowly lower each pyramid into it.
11. Turn using a metal spatula very gently and brown all sides lightly. Remove and serve.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

#259 Ayam Betutu or Balinese Chicken in Banana Leaves

Achiote marinated chicken wrapped in banana leaves or ‘Pollo Pibil’ is a Latin dish whereas sticky rice and spiced chicken cooked the same way is called “Lemper Ayam’ in Asia. All these dishes have one thing in common seasoned meat or fish is wrapped in banana leaves and pan fried or steamed to absorb the flavor of the leaf. So no matter what flavors you create in the protein, the added flavor of banana leaf takes it to another level of taste and aroma.

A Kerala delicacy Meen Pollichathu calls for the same technique of wrapping spiced fish within a plantain leaf and then pan fried. So I’ve introduced myself to a somewhat familiar dish from Bali with my own Asian spices binding ground chicken together in package with a hint of Red Thai Curry paste. The tremendous aroma of Asian flavors and tender meat are unfathomable. Each package opens up to present a portion that attained perfect consistency. Perfect enough to turn into an unforgettable dinner on  a cold winter night and served with steamed rice!!

Ground chicken -1 lb
Garlic- 1 large teaspoon
Ginger- 1 Large Tablespoon
Shallots- 2
Green chilli-1
Turmeric- ½ tspn
Mustard paste-1/2 tspn
Red curry paste – 1 Tbslpn
Soy sauce- 1 Tblpsn
Coconut Milk powder- 1 tspn
Salt, Pepper to taste
Cilantro – 1 cup chopped
1 large banana leaf(fresh or frozen)

1.       Coarsely grind together the shallots, green chillies, cilantro, mustard paste,garlic, ginger and soy sauce.
2.       Mix it with ground chicken and add the rest of the ingredients and mix gently just to fold the spices together.
3.       Add 1 tblsp oil and season with salt and pepper.
4.       Spread and cut the banana leaf into single serve portions. Spread a little of the meat mixture.
5.       Spread about 2 Tblspn of the spiced chicken or a single serving in the middle of each single serve leaf and fold the edges well enough to hold the mixture together inside.
6.       Place a steamer on the stove with enough water to cook the chicken,
7.       When the water boils, turn down the fire and place the chicken inside the steamer container.
8.       Steam gently until the meat is just cooked .Serve withs teamed rice.

Friday, January 4, 2013

#258 New Year Resolutions of a Food Junkie-something bright red, something tart and sweet-Cranberry Chutney

Wishing you all a safe, healthy and joyous New Year 2013!!!

I was surfing a food website recently and came across this cartoon-"Today -Let's Blame Obesity" --. The temptations of junk food are growing in the modern workplace especially during the Holiday season and can break most healthy eating habits. As we step into 2013 leaving the old behind us let's welcome the new year with natural afternoon snacks by crunching on the veggie sticks packed away in our lunchtotes even though a macaroon or two may tempt us all the same:)
health If you are one of those people who can resist a macaroon temptation, steamed veggies are certainly an alternative and while there is a proliferation of new-wave cooking methods dehyrdated fruits are also gaining popularity. Just like the forgotten cranberry which is a very healthy fruit available as juice, fresh sauce or sweet craisins. Get your fair share of them this season be it dried or fresh. One of the endless possibilities of using leftover cranberries is to cook it down in a spicy chutney/relish.

Grilled salmon kabobs marinated in a little rosemary, garlic, lemon and olive oil to start the New Year. Serve them with two dipping chutneys---Mint and Cranberry. Let's hope my resolutions don't fade away by the end of the month..LOL!

1 cup cranberries
1 stick cinnamon
1 Orange
1/4 cup water
1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tspn ginger paste
1/4 tspn crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tspn Sriracha
Salt to taste

1. Place the cranberries in a small saucepan. Juice the orange and lemon and add the juices.
2. Toss one half of the orange skin after removing the seeds.
3. Now, add sugar, cinnamon, ginger, red pepper flakes, sriracha and place
over a slow fire.
4. Cook until the cranberries have popped to when it becomes mushy and the chutney is
thick. Season with enough salt to taste and remove the cinnamon stick and orange when the
chutney cools. Store.
5. Serve with grilled chicken or fish of your choice.

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