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!!

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