Sunday, February 24, 2013

Roasted Corn Salad

You can make this easy, delicious, and colorful salad anytime since frozen corn works well for this recipe.  Adding cooked black beans makes this into a formidable and satisfying salad - Lima beans, kidney beans, great northern, etc also make excellent choices. Roasted corn salad may be made a day or two ahead - in fact it improves on standing for a few hours; perfect for lunch boxes too.

Note:  If you don't want to fire up the oven just to roast the corn, try toasting them in a skillet over high heat - just stir and shake the kernels with a little oil and a pinch of salt until lightly browned.  Proceed with the rest of the recipe as given.  Bon appetit!

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh or frozen Corn kernels, roasted
1 cup diced fresh Tomatoes (regular or cherry type)
1 cup diced Jicama (optional)
1-2 cups cooked beans (optional)
1 Jalapeno or Serrano Chile, seeds removed and minced
1 Clove Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 large Shallot or 1 small Red Onion, minced
1-2 fresh Limes, juiced
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 bunch Cilantro/Parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method:


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Oil a baking pan with rim; place the corn kernels in the pan in an even layer, sprinkle with a little pinch of salt and bake until lightly roasted - about 20 minutes.  Stir two or three times during roasting for even cooking.

Remove corn kernels from the oven and let cool slightly; pour into a large bowl while still warm.  

Add the rest of the veggies, herbs, and beans if using, to the corn.

Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, lime juice to taste and the oil.  Mix well.

Store in a tightly covered container in the fridge until serving.

Serve cool or at room temperature.  Enjoy!!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vegetable-Herb Soup With Parsley, Sage, Oregano, & Thyme

Vegetable soup with parsley, sage, oregano, and thyme is a versatile, delicious, simple, and quick. I made it for a bunch of little children and they ate it all gone!:-)  The veggies can be varied according to the season or your needs.  I add a little pasta to round out everything - especially for my pasta loving  little diners :-).  Another great addition is cooked beans - the beans add protein and fiber too as well as color and great taste.

It is wonderful to have the herbs growing in your garden; it does not take much space to grow them - a large pot will work very nicely. Not only is it handy to have your own homegrown herbs to snip as you need, they are economical too and look beautiful on your patio, balcony, etc. Quite often people only use a part of the expensive bundles of herbs for a specific recipe and the rest eventually end up in the waste bin.  

The barley broth is particularly delicious in this soup but if you don't have time for it or the inclination, water or vegetable broth may be substituted; you will have great soup no matter whichever way you make it.  I make soups with water quite often when neither barley nor veggie broth is handy; the soup turns out good always and in this instance it makes a wonderful clear soup.

Vegetable Soup with Herbs

1 Tbsp Oil
1 clove garlic (OR 1 pinch Asafetida)
1 Onion, chopped
1 small sprig Sage (2-4 leaves), optional
4-5 sprigs Thyme, Oregano
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 ribs Celery, diced
1 Potato, cubed
2 Carrots, diced
1 Sweet Potato, cubed
1 small head Broccoli, separated into florets (include stems)
2 Florets Cauliflower, separated into small bite-sized pieces
1 quart/liter Barley Broth or water
Sea Salt, freshly ground Pepper to taste
5-6 sprigs Parsley, chopped
2 sprigs fresh Basil, finely chopped
2  cups cooked small pasta, (for serving)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven; stir in the onion, garlic, celery, and the herbs - oregano, sage, thyme.

Sprinkle with a couple of generous pinches of salt along with the turmeric and cook covered over moderate heat until onions are soft and translucent - about 4 to 5 minutes.

Pour in the barley broth or water and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots and potatoes gently and simmer for 5 minutes.

Now add the sweet potato, cauliflower, and broccoli; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

When the veggies are tender, remove from heat and stir in the parsley and basil.

Let sit covered for about 5 minutes.

Place a spoonful of pasta in each bowl and ladle the soup on top.

Serve hot or warm.  Enjoy!!


Barley Broth

1/2 cup barley
1 Tbsp Oil
a few grinds of Black Pepper
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Onion, chopped
1 large Carrot, minced
2 ribs Celery, finely chopped
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 cup Parsley, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large soup pot and cook the veggies with the salt and pepper gently for about 10 minutes until soft.

Stir in barley and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes to an hour or until barley is very soft.

Stir in the parsley.

Serve hot as a simple soup or use as broth to enrich your favorite soup. Enjoy!

P.S. Barley broth may be frozen for later use if not used within a couple of days.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Great Tasting Home-made Granola

Making home-made granola is so easy and you can tailor it to suit your own preferences - and it costs very little!  This is a basic recipe; in addition to oats, other rolled grains such as wheat, barley, etc may be added also.  Paji loves to munch the granola with a cup of spicy tea :-).  Practically fat free, Granola makes a very portable and healthy snack.  Top warm porridge or pudding with a spoonful of granola for a wonderful treat!

Ingredients:

8 cups Old-fashioned Rolled Oats (not quick or instant)
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Coconut flakes
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 cup raw Nuts: Sliced Almonds, Cashews, or Walnut/Pecan pieces
1 cup Dried fruits: raisins, berries, apricots, peaces, etc
Coconut Oil for coating the pans

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Coat two 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking pans generously with coconut oil; set aside.

Combine the maple syrup, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

Mix together the oats, seeds, nuts, and coconut.

Add oat mixture to the liquid mixture and mix well.

Spread the oat mixture in the prepared baking pans.

Bake for 1 hour stirring every 10 - 15 minutes for even toasting.  I like to rotate the pans too - that is move the pans' position so that they get cooked more evenly.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Stir in the dried fruits.

Store in air tight containers.

Serve as a snack or for breakfast with soy or other 'milk'.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spicy Minced Tofu with Peas, Carrots and Red Bell Pepper

Spicy Minced Tofu offers serious good eats.  Every time I make it, it is gobbled up with enthusiasm!  It is a very versatile dish that will accommodate other veggies quite deliciously :).  If you like your food with a little sweet touch, add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar especially if you are not using carrots, red bell pepper or the kedjap manis.  Do add the turmeric for its amazing healing qualities - you don't really taste it here but get all the benefits just the same :-)!

Perfect for a Chinese New Year dinner too - Gung Hay Fat Choi!

4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 pkg. Firm or extra firm Tofu (14-16 oz)
2 Tbsp Oil
1 small Red Onion, diced
Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Red chile flakes
1-2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
1 clove fresh Garlic, grated or minced finely
2 - 4 Tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce (Kedjap Manis)
(OR  Regular Soy Sauce + 1-2 Tbsp Brown Sugar)
2-3 Carrots, diced
1 large Red Bell Pepper, diced
8 oz. Peas, fresh or frozen (about 2 cups)
1 small bunch Green Onions, thinly sliced
2-4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped (optional)
Freshly cooked grains of your choice: Rice, quinoa, or couscous

Method:


Drain the tofu well and cut into small dice.

Heat the wok until very hot; add some oil and carefully swirl to coat the sides.

Add the tofu, a pinch or two of salt and the chile flakes; cook stirring occasionally until tofu is golden.

Stir in the onions, carrots, ginger and garlic; cook until onions are beginning to turn golden.

Add the peas and kedjap manis (or soy and brown sugar); cook stirring until peas are hot and cooked  through - about 5 minutes.

Toss in the bell peppers and cook until softened.

Stir in sliced green onions and cilantro.

Serve hot over hot cooked grains.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mor Kali (Vegan Rice Polenta Or Mush)

The name "Rice Mush" doesn't do justice to delicious Mor Kali. It is the ultimate in comfort food for me ... it tastes delicious, hardly takes a few minutes to cook, and takes no effort to swallow! Although called Mor Kali, this kali does not have any Mor (buttermilk/yogurt) since I make it vegan; hence I should technically call it uppu kali (savory kali) :-).  Kali is similar to cornmeal mush or soft polenta; it is flavorful and makes a great snack or light meal.  It does not need any syrup or sauce to complete it  - but may be served with the dry chutney powder Mulagai Podi and a bit of oil. Traditional mor kali uses tart yogurt; but I have made it vegan without losing any of its lovely tart flavor - the lime/lemon makes a fabulous substitute. The batter can also be allowed to ferment overnight in which case, lime/lemon is not necessary.  Adjust the amount of water to produce a soupy or thick Kali; sometimes I like a  very soft kali so I add a lot more water.

Ingredients:

1 cup Rice Flour
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
2 cups water
Fresh Lime/Lemon

2 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Chana dal
1 tsp Urad dal
1-2 yogurt cured chiles, broken into 2 pieces (optional)
1 pinch Asafetida
1-2 hot green chiles, minced
1 stem Curry leaves, minced

Method:


Combine rice flour, salt and water and let sit overnight if possible.  If needed sooner, go ahead and use it ... whenever possible, it is nice to allow some time to soak and re-hydrating the rice flour.

If you like the kali really soft, then add another cup of water to the batter.

Get the other ingredients such as the chiles, curry leaves, etc. ready.

Oil an 8 or 9 inch cake pan generously and set aside.


Heat the oil in a kadai or skillet and add the dals, mustard seeds, and yogurt cured chile if using.

When the dals turn golden and mustard seeds start popping, add the asafetida and stir for a second or so.

Stir in the green chiles and curry leaves carefully; cover pan to protect yourself from the hot oil spattering.

Stir the rice mixture well and pour it into the kadai/skillet; add about a 1/2 cup water to the rice bowl and swirl to collect all of the flour - pour this into the pot also.

Cook stirring constantly for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the mush is thick without any lumps.

Cover and cook over low heat for another 5 to 7 minutes or until well cooked.

Let sit covered for about 5 minutes; squeeze a little lime/lemon at this point if you like the kali to be a bit tangy. Mix well.

Scrape the mush into the oiled pan and smooth the top.  Let cool completely before cutting into pieces and serving.

Now for the coating on the bottom of the pan, do not discard the golden layer of kali stuck on the bottom of the pan - scrape it off and save to top each portion of the kali (or go ahead and enjoy it just by itself).

Mor Kali is typically served cold ( not ice cold but room temperature cold).  I like the soft kali piping hot :)!

Serve the kali anyway you like.  Enjoy!!