Saturday, June 17, 2017

Quick & Easy Korma (Vegetables In Cashew-Coconut Sauce)

Quick and Easy Korma really is pretty easy and fast as it doesn't require undue attention of sauteing or stirring; a great recipe for a busy day or evening. Just layer all the ingredients in the pot and in minutes delicious korma will be ready to go with your favorite grains or breads!

Omit or add tomatoes depending on what other dishes are being served at the same meal; if other dishes include lots of tomatoes, leave them out. Cooked chickpeas - tan or brown type - make a nice addition to the korma; add them along with the potatoes and carrots.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
1 small piece Cinnamon
1 Bay leaf
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 green chillies, cored and minced
1 medium Potato, diced
½ cup Green Beans, diced
2 Carrots, diced
½ cup Corn Kernels, fresh/frozen
½ cup Coconut Milk 
½ cup Green Peas, fresh/frozen
½ cup Chayote/Zucchini, diced (optional)
4 Tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Spices
½ teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
½ teaspoon Red chile powder OR Paprika
1 teaspoon Garam Masala

For Masala Paste, grind together
8-12 Whole Peppercorns
3 Cloves
4 Whole Cashewnuts
4 whole Almonds
1-2 Cardamom Pods, use the seeds
1 teaspoon White Poppy Seeds
4 tablespoon grated Coconut, fresh/frozen
1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
½ inch piece ginger

METHOD:

Grind all the ingredients listed under masala paste to a smooth paste with a little water, about ½ cup. Set aside.

Add the oil, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and bay leaf to a large pan with a lid, a 3-4 quart/liter size will work nicely; swirl to coat the bottom of the pan with oil.

Sprinkle onions and green chiles evenly over the oiled pan; layer the tomatoes on top if using.

Next, spread the green beans, potato, carrots, corn and chayote if using evenly on top of the onions. Reserve the peas and zucchini for later.

Sprinkle the spices and the salt over the veggies.

Lastly, pour the coconut milk and the ground paste over the veggies. Pour a tablespoon or two of water in the blender jar and swirl to gather up all the ground paste and add to pan. Do not stir.

Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes on low to medium heat. You can take a peek to check that all's well; but let the korma simmer covered undisturbed. It will not need additional water or stirring.

Turn off the heat, sprinkle the peas and zucchini if using on top of korma, cover again and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Check for seasoning, and coriander leaves.

Mix well and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Non-Dairy Mor Kuzhambu (Delicious "Yogurt" Stew With Coconut)

Mor Kuzhambu is a classic South Indian coconut and cumin seed scented stew of vegetables with yogurt. It is another one of our family favorites from my childhood days. I had missed this delicious recipe as a vegan; when I figured out that if tofu can be substituted for the yogurt just like in "Yogurt" Rice and Non-Dairy Kadhi, life is good again :-)! Mor Kuzhambu over plain rice and a simple vegetable stir-fry - to live for!
Non-Dairy Mor Kuzhambu with Rice & Okra-Capsicum Stir-fry
Choose your favorite vegetables similar to the original Mor Kuzhambu; some favorites are winter melon (ash gourd or elavan), okra, moqua/chayote/opo squash, taro root, cucumbers, Jack fruit seeds, ripe or green mangoes and green or ripe plantains. Green mangoes may be added to any vegetable; mango-cucumger or mango-squash is a delightful combo. When using green mangoes, adjust the lime/lemon as the mangoes may contribute to tanginess also.

If you like to avoid soy, omit the tofu and increase the amount of coconut to 1 cup.

About 6 Servings

Ingredients:

2 cups of vegetables of your choice
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Salt, or to taste
1-2 Lemons/Limes

Grind Together:
1 block (14 oz) Tofu
1/2 cup Grated Coconut, fresh or frozen
2 tsp whole Cumin Seeds
1 or 2 Hot Green Chile, core removed for a milder dish
1 Red Chile
1 tsp uncooked rice

Thalippu/Tadka:

1-2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds
2 Dry Red Chilies, broken into two
1 stalk Fresh Curry Leaves, minced

Method:

Choose your favorite vegetables from the suggestions above.

Prepare the veggies: wash well, trim or peel as needed; cut into large chunks.

Place the prepared vegetables in a large non-reactive pot (stainless steel, ceramic, etc) with 1 cup of water, the salt and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until just tender.

While the veggies are cooking, tip the drained tofu into the blender carafe along with the coconut, cumin, chiles, and rice; process into a nice smooth puree with a little water (1/2 cup or so).

When the veggies are tender, add the coconut puree; add a few tablespoons of water to the blender to gather all the remaining puree and add to the pan. Add a little more water if the kuzhambu is thick.

Simmer uncovered gently until slightly thickened, foamy and beginning to just get bubbly. Remove from heat.

Heat the oil in a small pan and do the thalippu: add mustard and fenugreek seeds and the red chilies. When the seeds pop, add curry leaves carefully and cover quickly. When all is calm, pour the thalippu into the Mor Kuzhambu. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in lemon/lime juice to taste before serving; Mor Kuzhambu should be slightly tangy.

Serve hot with rice; the usual favorite sides are some kind of thoran or dry veggie dish like Stir-fried Okra, Cabbage ThoranParuppu Usli, Parikkai Fry, Potato Roast, and/or papadams. Mor Kuzhambu will last a week to ten days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Easy Tofu Makhani ("Buttery" Tofu in Mild Tomato Sauce)

A very flavorful and satisfying curry, it is even better the next day; so plan to make enough for fabulous leftovers! Another option is to use chickpea tofu or seitan/vital wheat gluten instead of regular tofu.

You may use purchased Butter Chicken Masala spice mix instead of the individual dried spices and garam masala; but proceed with caution and use less at first as ready-made mixes may be heavy on hot pepper.

Ingredients:

1 lb Extra Firm Tofu cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Salt & Freshly ground Pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Hot Green Chile, Serrano or Jalapeno, core removed and minced
½ - 1 inch fresh Ginger, grated 
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander powder
¼ - ½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp garam masala
1 Red or Green bell pepper, diced into big pieces
3-4 ripe Tomatoes, finely chopped or 1 (15 ounce) can crushed or pureed Tomato
½ cup coconut cream
1-2 Tbsp of dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
Scallions, Spear Mint, or Cilantro for garnish
Earth Balance, to serve

Method:

Heat a non-stick skillet with 1 Tbsp of the oil and saute the Tofu with a pinch of turmeric, a generous pinch of salt, and a little freshly ground pepper until slightly browned. Set aside.

While the tofu is cooking, heat a kadai or pan, add the rest of the oil and cumin seeds; when they start to pop and are fragrant, add onions along with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir-cook over low-medium heat until the onions just begin to brown, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the garlic, minced chile, and ginger, cook for about a minute.

Stir in the spices and cook for about 30 seconds until well combined.

Tip in the bell pepper and stir cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomato, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the tofu to the curry, mix gently to coat with the sauce, cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring gently occasionally. Turn off the heat.

Uncover, stir in the coconut cream and fenugreek leaves and leave covered for about 10 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Garnish with your choice of the herbs and serve hot topped with a little pat of Earth Balance with your favorite grains or breads. Enjoy!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mexican Fiesta Bowl (Simmered Beans, Cilantro Rice & Pan-Toasted Veggies)

My family adores meals that can be ladled or piled into bowls whether they be Indian, Mexican, Thai, etc! Here is another do-it-yourself Mexican-style meal to suit a family or a crowd and one of our all-time favorites! Have all the ingredients ready and let everyone serve themselves in a bowl/plate in layers or on crisp tortillas for tostadas, soft chapatis/tortillas for wraps/roll-ups, in fact any which way is perfectly delicious.

The beauty of this fabulous meal is that most of the ingredients may be made at least a day or two ahead; warm the rice, beans, and veggies just before serving.  The veggies may be roasted in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes if you wish instead of pan-toasting; I like either way depending on the moment.

8-10 Servings

1 recipe Frijoles de la Olla or  Black/Pinto beans
1 recipe Pan-Toasted Veggies, recipe below
Shredded Romaine Lettuce to serve
Radish slices, chopped Onions, chopped Cilantro
Guacamole made with 2 avocados or 2 Avocados, diced
Salsa III, OR III to serve
Escabeche (Picked Jalapenos & Veggies)
Tortilla chips
Vegan Cheese & Sour Cream

Beans

Follow the recipes to cook the beans until very soft but not mushy; for this meal I do not mash the beans; but mashed beans are fine too.

You may use canned beans - canned beans especially will benefit from simmering with the spices.  If using canned beans, drain, rinse and simmer with a tsp of ground cumin along with a little ground chipotle chile, cayenne or smoked paprika and simmer for another 5 minutes.

The beans may be prepared ahead of time and reserved in the fridge. If made ahead, reheat well to serve. 

Pan-Toasted Veggies

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pinch Crushed Hot Red Pepper (optional)
1 or 2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 purple or brown onion, cut into thick slivers
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 cups Corn kernels, freshly cut or frozen
1 Carrot, cut into slivers/sticks the same size as the peppers
2 Bell Peppers, any color, cut into slivers 
1 large Zucchini, cut into sticks the same size as the peppers (optional)
1-2 sprigs fresh Oregano, chopped

Heat the wok until hot; add oil in and the hot pepper and let it sizzle for a few seconds.

Add the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt; stir cook for a couple of minutes until the onions are slightly softened.

Tip in the corn and carrots with the turmeric and stir-cook until carrots begin to brown a little - about 5 minutes.

Stir in the peppers and zucchini with salt to taste and keep stirring and cooking until veggies are done to your preference.

Sprinkle the oregano on top, give it good stir, and turn off the heat.

If you find that there are too many veggies, this could be done in two batches.  Keep warm or cool and store until needed. If made ahead, reheat just before serving.  

Assembly

Have all the ingredients ready to serve.

Allow each person to serve themselves.  Enjoy!!
Buen Provecho!!

Simple Cilantro-Lime Rice (For Mexican & Indian Meals)

This simple and wonderful recipe, a simpler version of the Indian Lime Rice, is fabulous to serve alongside Mexican or Indian meals! Some of our favorites to pair with cilantro lime rice for a Mexican meal are Frijoles de la Olla or Cooked  Black/Pinto beans; and if you add Guacamole, diced Avocados, Salsa III, OR III  and Escabeche (Picked Jalapenos & Veggies), etc, then you have a feast! Cilantro-Lime Rice is delicious with any type of stews, Vegetable Chili, Indian curries, chutneys, etc too!

Note: Some people do not enjoy cilantro; in this case, add a generous pinch of dried oregano and substitute a mixture of finely sliced green onions and parsley for the cilantro.

Variation: Saute 1 finely chopped onion, 1 minced Serrano or Jalapeno chile, and 1 minced clove of garlic in 1 tbsp oil; add boiling water and rice and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

About 6 Servings

Ingredients:

11/2 cups Rice, any type
11/2 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 Limes - freshly squeezed
1 tsp Lime zest
1 small bunch fresh Cilantro stems & Leaves, finely chopped

Method:

Rinse the rice well and add plenty of fresh water to cover; allow to soak for 30 minutes, drain and rinse.

Bring scant 3 cups of water to a boil and cook the rice until tender.  Let sit covered for about 30 minutes or so to cool slightly.  If not using right away, the rice may be cooled well and stored in the fridge until ready to use.  When ready to use, warm it gently until hot.

Pick over the cilantro, wash well and drain thoroughly. Trim any rooms and the stem ends if they are brown. Chop finely.

Mix together the salt, the lime zest and juice (start with juice from one lime and add more if desired); gently stir into the warm rice.

Stir in cilantro just before serving to prevent discoloring. Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blo's Whacky Cake (Vegan Chocolate Cake) With Chocolate Frosting

When a dear friend made this delicious cake, all who tasted it wanted the recipe - and she graciously passed it on - sweet! She said this was a favorite frugal family recipe from the 30's and 40's when times were tough and butter, milk, eggs etc were scarce or pricey. Even though neither cake nor the frosting uses any dairy products or eggs, a reflection of the times, the results are quite amazing.

I love to serve Blo's Whacky Cake without the frosting - who needs the extra empty calories, right? - but for company add a little whipped coconut topping (homemade or purchased) and fresh berries, cherries, etc; the beautiful jewel-like fruits brighten up the cake as well as make it more delectable!

Although the cake may be mixed and baked in one pan, I prefer to prepare the batter in a bowl and transfer it to the oiled pan for baking especially for company.

For a lower calorie treat, replace all or part of the oil with mashed bananas, unsweetened apple sauce or pureed figs.
Blo's Whacky Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:

1½ cups Unbleached flour
3 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
3/4 cup Sugar
6 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla 
1 cup fresh cold water

Powdered Sugar for dusting OR Chocolate Frosting, or non-dairy Whipped Topping
Fresh Strawberries, Rasberries OR Cherries 

Combine all dry ingredients, mix well, and add to an oiled 8" square cake pan -preferably a glass or ceramic pan.

Make 3 wells in the flour mixture; add vanilla to one well, oil to another, and the vinegar to the 3rd. Pour the water on top, then mix all together thoroughly in pan using a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees F, 25-30 minutes (test center with toothpick to see if done), then cool completely.

When the cake is cooled completely, simply dust the cake with some powdered sugar or frost with the chocolate frosting. Decorate with the berries. Let the frosting set for 15 minutes before cutting.

If you are serving the cake without frosting, whipped non-dairy topping is a delicious addition. Add a dollop of the whipped topping to each serving, decorate with the berries and serve. 

Enjoy!!

Blo's Whacky Cake With Frosting

Quick & Easy Chocolate Frosting - Makes 1 cup

1½ cups unsifted Confectioners Sugar (powdered sugar)
6 Tbsp  unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 pinch Salt
About 3 tbsp non-dairy Milk, any type
½ tsp Vanilla 
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp butter substitute, like Earth Balance, at room temperature

Combine the ingredients except the butter substitute in large mixing bowl, beat until smooth.

Add butter substitute, beat until spreading consistency adding a few drops of extra milk if too thick.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Roasted Potatoes - Aloo/Batata Roast or Patates Fournou

   
Patates Fournou
         Indian Aloo/Batata Roast

Roasted potatoes are irresistible whether they are prepared the Indian or Greek way;  Patates Fournou is so like this Indian one - only the choice of oil and spices are slightly different. Which way to go? - a tough choice - but both are delicious. In India this is Aloo or Batata Fry/Roast, in Greece, Patates Fournou.

Although I like to use small potatoes - red, white, yellow, blue or brown - any type will work very nicely. Garlic may be added to the Aloo/Batata Roast as well if you enjoy garlic.

4 Servings

 Ingredients:

2 lbs Potatoes
Salt & Pepper
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 Lemon/Lime
2-3 Tbsp Fresh Spearmint, finely sliced - for garnish
Extra Lemon/Lime wedges, as needed for serving

Indian: 2-4 Tbsp Coconut or other oil, 2 tsp coarsely ground Cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp ground red pepper.
Greek: 2-4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 3 cloves finely minced garlic, 1 Tbsp dry Oregano.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut the lemon/lime in half. Juice one half to mix with the potatoes. Cut the other half into wedges.

Scrub the potatoes well and rinse and dry. It is not necessary to peel. Trim any spots and cut them into 4 quarters lengthwise; if very large, cut accordinly.

Combine potatoes with oil, salt, turmeric, a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, choice of herbs/spices and half the lemon/lime juice.

Place in a covered baking dish.

Bake covered for 30 minutes, uncover, shake or stir and continue baking for another 30 minutes or done to your liking.

Remove from oven, let cool for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the mint over the potatoes and serve hot or warm; pass the lemon/lime wedges. Enjoy!!



Povitica/Potica (Rich Pastry Layered With Almond Filling)

Povetica/Potica ("Poveteetza/Poteetza") is a delicious nut filled Eastern European pastry. It takes a bit of planning and work, but very much worth the effort. Just watching it being made was so very intriguing that I couldn't wait to make it myself!
Vegan Povitica - My first one!
This is a veganized adaptation of a recipe from Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bake-Off fame. I substituted ground almonds for the walnuts and used other vegan ingredients but have tried to keep it as close to the original as possible. I have left the measurements in weight as the original as weighing gives more precise results.

Notes: Aqua Faba is the fancy name for the cooking liquid from garbanzo bean; if it is not handy, use other egg replacers. I added a generous pinch of Turmeric for adding a healthy golden hue as eggs are eliminated in the dough; it is not necessary for the filling. Good vanilla extract or paste may be substituted for the vanilla bean. I omitted the salt as the Earth Balance already had salt.

I used the food processor for making the dough using the dough blade; carefully follow manufacturer's directions for making dough.

Important: Using a clean cotton sheet, cotton tablecloth, or a piece of muslin makes it easier to roll the dough very thin; I used a very large flour sack type of towel. 

Ingredients:

Dough:

150ml/5½fl oz Almond milk, warmed
30g/1oz unsalted Earth Balance, melted
300g/10½oz  unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
40g/1½oz sugar
1 generous pinch Turmeric (for color)
1 tsp Active dry Yeast
3 Tbsp Aqua Faba or other egg replacement
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
Filling:

60g/2¼oz Earth Balance stick type
4 tbsp Almond milk
280g/10oz Almonds, ground
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
100g/3½oz sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder/ground Cinnamon
1½ Tbsp Aqua Faba or other egg replacement, beaten

Assembly:

15g/½oz Earth Balance, melted
about 1 Tbsp Aqua Faba or other egg replacement, beaten for brushing the top

Icing:
100g/3½ oz Confectioners or icing sugar

Method:

Dough:
Warm the milk and stir in the Earth Balance in a small pan until milk is warm and the Earth Balance is mostly melted; set aside. While you get the other ingredients ready, the Earth Balance will melt.

Tip the flour, turmeric and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Add the salt into one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the melted Earth Balance/milk mix, aqua faba, vanilla and begin mixing on a slow speed. When the dough starts to come together, mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy.

Lightly oil a bowl; remove the dough from the mixing bowl into the oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – about one hour.

Filling:
Place the Earth Balance and milk in a small pan and heat gently until most of the Earth Balance has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the almonds/walnuts, vanilla, sugar and cocoa powder or cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and blend to a sandy powder. Add the Aqua Faba or egg substitute, milk mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside. If made too far in advance, the filling tends get thick; but no worries! Just add a couple of teaspoons of warm almond milk to loosen.

Assembly:
Butter a 1kg/2lb loaf tin. My loaf tin is 5 ½x9 ½x3 inches and worked perfectly.

Spread the clean sheet over a kitchen counter/table and dust with flour. Turn out the risen dough onto the sheet and roll out the dough into a large 50x30cm/20x12in rectangle. Brush the surface with 15g/½oz melted Earth Balance.

Dust your hands with flour and gently ease them underneath the dough. Using the backs of your hands, stretch the dough out from the center until very thin. The rectangle should measure approximately 1 meterx60 cm/40x24 inches.

Check the filling; if the filling is too thick, add a little warm milk to loosen it. Drop spoonfuls of the filling evenly over the dough.

Taking care not to tear the dough, spread the filling over the dough until evenly covered. I diped the spatula in warm water periodically to keep it from sticking.

Starting at the long edge of the dough, lift the sheet and gently roll the dough up tightly, into a long snake.

Carefully lift the dough and place one end in the bottom corner of the greased loaf tin. Ease the roll into the base of the tin to form a long ‘U’ shape, then double back laying the roll over the first ‘U’ shape to form a second ‘U’ shape on top.

Place the baking tin inside a large clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour in a warm place; the bag should not touch the dough.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4.

Brush the top of the dough with a little of the aqua faba being careful not to drip into the sides of the pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C(fan)/300F/Gas 3 while keeping the povitica is still in the oven and bake for a further 45 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover the top loosely with foil if the it begins to darken too much; mine was already brown on top after the first 15 minutes so I placed a piece of foil like a tent loosely on top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing:
Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a slightly runny but not too thin icing and drizzle it over the povitica. Let rest until the icing is dry.

Slice and serve at room temperature or warmed with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Enjoy!!
Povitica showing the lovely layering  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gajrela (Carrot Halwa) Fudgy Carrot Dessert

Bright sunset colored Carrot Halwa or Gajrela is a delicious dessert - another one of the ingenious Indian desserts based on vegetables. It can be served in soft scoops or cut into fudgy pieces depending on the amount of sugar and length of cooking. Shorter cooking time with less sugar will yield a soft result whereas longer cooking with more sugar will result in a fudgy, chewy, candy; both are good!

I thought lovely carrot halwa would be wonderful as the Post # 501 in memory of Amma and as a tribute to her!

When Amma first presented it, my grandmother and other family members in the rural South were very skeptical as they had never seen carrots let alone carrot halwa! But one hesitant taste, and everyone was hooked!

Gajarela will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge; for longer storage, it may be frozen.

Ingredients:

2 lbs Carrots
1 cup Coconut Milk Or 1/2 cup Coconut Cream
1/2 - 1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Dried Coconut, finely grated (Optional)
3 Tbsp Earth Balance
5-7 pods Cardamom
2-3 Tbsp Cashews/Almonds
1-2 Tbsp Finely chopped Pistachios (optional)

Method:

Peel and grate the carrots.

Heat a tablespoon of Earth Balance in a large heavy bottomed pot and saute the carrots for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add the coconut milk/cream if you are using or water and cook covered until carrots are tender; stir occasionally to make sure the carrots do not burn or scorch.

Stir in the sugar and the coconut if using; cook uncovered stirring constantly until all the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in another tablespoon of  Earth Balance, continue cooking, and remove from heat when the halwa leaves the side of the pan.

Use the seeds from the cardamom pods, discard the outer pods. Grind the seeds to a powder with a couple of pinches of sugar using a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle the ground cardamom seeds on top of the halwa and stir well to mix.

Toast the cashew or almond pieces in a small amount of Earth Balance until golden; or use it raw. Add to the halwa and mix well or reserve to sprinkle on top.

Smear a  8x8 inch pan with rim with a little Earth Balance.

Spoon the halwa into the buttered pan, spread evenly, and sprinkle the toasted nuts and pistachios on top.

Serve hot, warm, cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Indian Pudding, Indian Style (Polenta Or Cornmeal Pudding)

I cannot believe this is recipe # 500! I am celebrating it with this delicious pudding - an amalgam of Indian and American ingredients which work amazingly well!

Polenta Pudding came into being many years ago because a lot of the sauce was left over after making Ras Malai! I did not want to waste all that wonderfully flavorful creamy sauce and thought a quick pudding would be the best option to use it up.  I was looking for cream of wheat, but all I had available was a bag of cornmeal (even though made of corn, it had the consistency of cream of wheat) - so Indian/Polenta Pudding was born to rave reviews!!

When the pudding was presented, I was asked if it was Indian pudding?!  As it was made with a lot of Indian ingredients, I said that it was :-).  As I was new to cooking, I did not know that there actually was such a thing called "Indian Pudding", a famous New England dessert!

How did Indian pudding get its name? Columbus got lost when he tried to sail to India and ended up in America; he called the native people "Indians"!  Apparently, ground corn was called "Indian meal" by the new settlers as the "Indians" introduced them to corn and corn products and the pudding made with the Indian meal was ..... Indian Pudding.

My first and original Indian Pudding was made with regular milk. Vegan milk substitutes including coconut milk work well for a wonderful dairy-less pudding.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup  coarse corn meal (Polenta)
2 cups Milk, any type
1/2 cup regular or brown Sugar
1 pinch Saffron
1 tsp Cardamom
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1- 2 tsp Rose Water (optional)
4 Tbsp Sliced raw Almonds
2 Tbsp Raw Pistachios, Finely Chopped

Method:

Place corn meal in a heavy bottomed pan and add milk; let soak for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge.

Tip in the sugar and mix well. Slowly bring to a boil while stirring constantly.

Reduce heat so that the pudding is gently simmering.

Simmer the pudding for about 30 - 45 minutes stirring occasionally as needed to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning; add more milk if the pudding gets too thick as needed.

When the pudding is well cooked and has thickened, remove from heat.

Place cardamom (use seeds only, discard the pod), saffron and nutmeg in a mortar with a spoon full of sugar and pulverize with the pestle. Stir the mixture into the pudding.

Cover the pudding  with a tight fitting lid and let cool.

Indian Pudding is best served warm.  Stir in the rose water and chill if serving cold.

Serve the pudding sprinkled with the sliced almonds and pistachios.  Enjoy!!



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lemony Linguine With Eggplant & Red Onions

Lemony Linguine & steamed carrots
Simple and delicious and spicy with a little green or red chile, Lemony Linguine makes a wonderful lunch, dinner or even as a starter. If eggplant is not your thing, use asparagus, zucchini or other favorite veggies and adjust cooking time accordingly as some veggies cook quicker than others. I used red onion to compliment the eggplant; any type may be used including scallions or leeks.

2 servings

Ingredients:

4 oz Linguine
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 hot green chile, minced OR 1 generous pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 small Japanese/Italian/Chinese Eggplant, julienned
3 cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp EVOO
Salt & freshly ground Pepper
4 Tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 Lemon/Lime, zest and juice
2 Tbsp Pine nuts or Slivered Almonds, toasted

Method:

Heat a large skillet; add the oil and when oil is hot add all the veggies, with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low to medium heat until eggplant is tender. Stir to keep the veggies from sticking.

While the veggies are cooking, cook the linguine according to package directions until tender but firm. 

Drain but reserve about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cooking water; and add the pasta to the veggies along with as much of the cooking liquid to keep everything moist.

Stir in the parsley, zest and juice of the lemon. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.

Serve hot topped with the toasted nuts. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Simple Upma With Coconut (Quick Seasoned Cream of Wheat/Semolina Pilaf with Coconut)

Simple Upma With Coconut
Simple or Coconut Upma is a hearty South Indian dish one can cook up in a jiffy with cream of wheat or semolina. In the days of yore, when we didn't have access to telephones (not to mention cell phones, emails, fridge or freezer for that matter!) friends and family often dropped by to visit without prior notice and Upma was the was a mainstay at the de rigueur welcome tea! Most people of that era wouldn't dream of running to the nearest snack shop or samosa stand even if one were available for a few choice nibbles to offer with the tea as only homemade goodies would do! Cream of wheat or semolina as well as the other ingredients is/was a staple in pretty much every household and the quick-cooking upma was indeed a welcome fare for the host and visitor alike. Simple Upma is an everyday dish that can be dressed up with roasted cashews or peanuts for guests or special occasions!

Thatha loved upma that was quite soft to the point of being mushy, which we called kali-ma :). When on a visit we would often gleefully anticipate whether we'd get fluffy upma or Thatha's kali-ma! 

Typically, the green chiles are cut in circles and most diners usually pick them out and set aside like one would parsley. But too often, I have seen that people unfamiliar with Indian food do not know to pick off chiles or other whole spices and end up chewing on them; so I core and mince chiles and ginger finely so as not to cause an unpleasant suprise for anyone. If a spicy upma is preferred,  the chiles may be chopped without coring and/or adding more. Although this upma is good to go without any side dishes like pickles or chutneys, they may be offered if desired. For young children, a sprinkling of sugar on top may be offered.

Sooji or Rava is semolina, Indian cream of wheat. Any type of finely cracked grain can be used including regular cream of wheat making adjustments in the amounts of water needed and cooking times. I love to add more wholegrain where I can and add a little bulgar (#1 grade which is finely cracked). This is a great dish for Vrat (restricted diet or fasting) days as it does not contain the usual onions or garlic which are not included on these occasions.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp oil
½ tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana dal
1 Tbsp Urad dal
1 pinch Asafetida (Hing powder) (optinoal)
1 or 2 green Chile, cored and finely minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely minced or grated
1 sprig of fresh Curry leaves, finely sliced
1 tsp Salt or to taste
2 cups Water
3/4 cup Sooji (Rava or Cream of Wheat)
1/4 cup Bulgar 
2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp toasted Cashew pieces (Optional)
½ cup finely grated Coconut (fresh/frozen) OR 1/4 cup Dried

Method:

Heat about 3 cups of  water and keep hot.

Heat the oil and ghee in a 2-3 quart pot or an Indian wok (Kadai).

Add mustard seeds, Chana dal and Urad dal when the oil is hot and cover with a lid to keep the mustard seeds from escaping while they pop; lower the heat when the mustard begins to pop.

When the mustard seeds finish popping, add the asafoetida quickly if using along with the ginger, green chili, curry leaves and the salt; cook over medium heat until green chiles soften, about a minute or two.

Pour the cream or wheat/semolina into the pan and cook stirring constantly over medium heat until they are coated with the oil, about 2-3 minutes. 

Reduce heat to low, and add 2 cups of the hot water carefully while stirring constantly - hot water may spatter at first when hitting the hot pan. Mix well, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to keep from sticking or burning. Drizzle a little more of the water as needed for the consistency you'd like.

 Stir in the coconut and turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the cilantro leaves and serve hot garnished with the cashews/peanuts. This upma is typically offered on its own with a cup of tea, coffee, or lemonade; feel free to offer your favorite accompaniments.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Masala Poha (Spiced Beaten Rice Flakes With Veggies)

Pilaf-like Masala Poha is very similar to Aval/Poha Upma with Potatoes or Aloo/Bataata Poha; another tasty recipe utilizing aval/poha/rice flakes. Pretty colorful, quick and nutritious, it can be served at lunch, teatime, or dinner. Masala Poha can also be part of a party menu or potluck contribution as it is a great make-ahead recipe. I often make it for our weekend/holiday brunch. Thick aval/poha is best for making this dish (thin is a bit too brittle and crumbly but will work just the same if that's what's available - "bird" in hand and all that!).

Masala Poha (Spiced Rice Flakes with Veggies
With all the colorful and flavorful veggies, Masala Poha makes a filling and hearty fare. Other mild flavored veggies may be added/substituted according to the seasonal availability and your preference - about 2 cups total - not including onions and bell pepper.

Variation: If aval/poha is not available, use cooked rice instead of the soaked aval/poha. Cook 1 cup of rice according to package directions and cool completely before using; leftover plain cold rice will work well.

Essential Masala Poha ingredients 

Seasonings of mustard, dals, with onions, ginger, green chile

Seasoned onion mixture with cooked veggies

Soaked Aval/Poha with seasoned veggies

About 4 Servings


Ingredients:

1 Cup dry Thick Aval/poha (Rice Flakes)
2 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
2 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 pinch Asafoetida
1 hot Green Chile (Thai or Serrano)
1 stem Fresh Curry Leaves
1 small Onion
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup finely chopped Bell Peppers/Capsicums (use all the colors)
Salt to taste
1 small Potato
1 small Sweet Potato
1 small Carrot
1/2 Cup Green Peas, fresh or frozen
1 tsp Garam Masala
Juice from 1 Lime/1/2 Lemon
4 Tbsp Cilantro/Coriander/Dhania Leaves
Roasted Cashews or Peanuts for serving
A few whole cilantro leaves for garnish

Method:

Place the aval in a bowl and add plenty of water; pour off all the 'floaters' - bits of husk. Drain well and add 1/2 cup of fresh water with 1/2 tsp of salt dissolved in it and let soak while you prepare the rest.

Wash all the fresh veggies well and drain.

Cut the potatoes and carrots into 1/4" cubes - about the size of peas; cook them until just tender using the microwave, pressure cooker or in a small pan. Set aside. (Alternately, they may also be cooked directly in the pan after cooking the onions.)

Cut the hot green chilies in half and remove the seeds and the whitish membranes with a teaspoon and discard if you want a mild dish; leave the core in if you like it spicy. Mince the chilies finely.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or seasoned kadai (Indian wok) and add the mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds finish popping, add chana and urad dal; let the dals cook to a pinkish  golden color.

Immediately stir in asafetida, curry leaves, green chilies, ginger, and onions with a couple of pinches of salt and turmeric.

Cook stirring until onions are translucent. (Stir in carrots and potatoes at this time - if they are not precooked - with a little salt and cook until they are tender.)

Tip the capsicums/bell pepper into the onions mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the peas if using fresh, and cook for about a couple of minutes. If using frozen, stir them in and then the aval.

Add the soaked aval with the Garam Masla if using and stir gently but thoroughly to mix well.

Cover and cook over low heat until hot stirring occasionally, about 5 mipeasnutes.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with the lime juice and cilantro; mix well.

Top with the nuts and garnish with the whole cilantro leaves and serve hot, warm or at room temperature by itself or with your favorite chutneys, Indian pickles, or a raita.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mushroom Carpaccio - Two Ways! (Chive-Lemon OR Tomato-Basil)

Quick & simple Mushroom Carpaccio may be made two or more ways; they are similar in that both start out with sliced mushrooms; one is simply dressed with a lemon-garlic dressing the other with a more complex tomato-balsamic-basil dressing. These make excellent starters, side dishes or potluck contributions. 

I  Mushroom Carpaccio With Garlic, Lemon & Chives

Ingredients:

8 oz. Large Brown or White Mushrooms
1 small clove Garlic, peeled and mashed
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 - 1 Lemon, juiced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp Fresh Chives, chopped

Method:

Combine the oil, garlic, 1/2 the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the stems as needed and thinly slice.

Arrange the mushroom slices on a platter or on individual plates. Drizzle the dressing evenly over them. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Taste one piece of the marinated mushrooms. Sprinkle a little more lemon, extra salt or pepper as needed.

Scatter the chives over the mushrooms and serve. Enjoy!

II Mushroom Carpaccio With Tomatoes & Basil

This one may be prepared two ways: serve the tomato basil dressing on slices of mushrooms as given below or layer the mushrooms, tomato and basil and drizzle the dressing made from balsamic vinegar, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. 

Ingredients:

8 oz  Large Brown or White Mushrooms
1 Lemon, Juiced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove fresh Garlic, mashed
2 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, finely diced
Kosher Salt & Pepper
1 Small bunch Fresh Basil
Fresh Chives, for garnishing

Method:

Combine the tomatoes, 1 Tbsp of the oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and salt.  Use a pepper grinder to add freshly ground pepper. Mix well. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the ends of stems and thinly slice.

Lightly brush a large platter with lemon juice. Arrange the mushroom slices on the platter and brush more of the lemon juice over them evenly. If making ahead, prepare upto this step and assemble the carpaccio a few minutes (not more than 30 minutes) before serving.

Spoon the dressing attractively and evenly over the mushroom slices. Drizzle the rest of the oil evenly over the veggies.

Decorate with the chives and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Roasted Pumpkin Bisque (Simple & Delicious Creamy Pumpkin Soup)

A super simple and delicious creamy soup based on Peruvian pumpkin soup we enjoyed. Sadly we don't get the same kind of pumpkin outside of Peru; but there are other flavorful ones we can use! Although my favorites are butternut or kabocha, I have used various pumpkins and winter squashes with delicious results; Buttercup, Castilla, Banana squash or any other sweet flavorful pumpkin or pumpkin-like veggie will work well.

Note: Do include a little red pepper (cayenne) to enhance the sweetness of the pumpkin.
If you are toasting the seeds yourself, saute them in a little olive oil and add a pinch or two of thyme, red pepper and a little sprinkle of salt towards the end for a flavorful treat! Croutons are a delicious option for topping the soup.

6 - 8 Servings

About 3 lbs Pumpkin (see suggestions above)
1 Medium Orange fleshed Sweet Potato (aka yam)
1 Tbsp Oil + a little for roasting
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 tsp Dry
1 pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red Chile powder (cayenne)
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 cup Coconut Milk (optional)
6 - 7 cups boiling Water
4 Tbsp Coconut Milk OR Coconut Cream for Garnishing
4 Tbsp Toasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash and sweet potato into 1/2" cubes.

Place the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in a lightly oiled pan with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and stir to coat. Sprinkle the turmeric and thyme over the veggies. Roast until the veggies are tender and begin to caramelize a little, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Puree the the roasted veggies with the nutmeg, cayenne, and coconut milk using a food processor, traditional or an immersion blender; pureeing may need to be done in batches if using a regular blender. If using a blender, some of the boiling water may be needed to process.

Pour the puree into a large soup pot with more of the boiling water a little at a time to get the right consistency without making the soup too thin. Warm the soup gently and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.

The soup should be thick and creamy; but if it looks too thick, add a small ladle or two of boiling water but not too much.

Check the seasonings, add salt and a few grinds of black pepper if needed.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a little swirl of coconut milk/cream and the toasted seeds.

Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Warm Noodles & Veggie Salad With Sriracha Tofu & Garlic-Ginger Dressing (Asian Style)

Warm Noodle & Vegetable Salad is very versatile; it is easy to prepare ahead and makes a fabulous main meal for busy days or potlucks. Colorful, tasty and filling, everyone loves it, me included!

If you want to avoid too much soy in the diet, use panfried Burmese Tofu. Tofu, nuts/seeds, noodles, and the abundance of assorted veggies make for a very satisfying meal. Use a combination or a single type of nuts or seeds.

All the ingredients can be prepared ahead including the dressing and kept separately; mix when ready to serve. Although I prefer freshly cooked and cooled pasta, it can be precooked also and brought to room temperature by removing from the fridge about 30-45 minutes before serving before mixing.

Notes: Do include Napa Cabbage; it adds a lacy look and lots of crunch! Other veggies like kale, leeks, baby bok choi, Edamame (young green soy beans), broccoli, as well as finely sliced or coarsely shredded turnips, sugar-snaps or snow pea pods etc. make great additions also.

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 large Carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Daikon radish, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Red Onion, thinly slivered
1 tsp Oil
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1-2 Persian type Cucumbers, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 small Red Cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 small Napa/Green Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 small Romaine Lettuce heart, thinly sliced
1 bunch Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 bunch fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped
8 oz Cappellini (Angel Hair Pasta) OR Spaghetti
1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges to serve

Sriracha Tofu or Roasted Tofu with only the following spices/condiments
1 block firm Tofu (14-16 oz)
1 pinch Turmeric
1 generous pinch Salt
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

Topping:
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp Slivered Almonds
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Peanuts/Cashews, coarsely chopped

Dressing:
1/2" knob of fresh Ginger, chopped
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp firmly packed Jaggery, Coconut sugar, OR Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Tbsp Asian Toasted Sesame Oil

Method:

Make the Dressing:  Place ginger, garlic, brown sugar, black pepper, rice vinegar and soy sauce in the carafe of a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a clean jar, add a spoonful of water into the carafe to gather every bit of the ginger and garlic and add to the jar along with the rest of the ingredients - the oils. Shake well to mix and taste. Adjust soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and pepper. Cover tightly with a lid and store in the fridge until needed.

Prepare sriracha or Roasted Tofu. If making sauteed tofu, drain the tofu well, wrap in paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible, then cut into cubes or batons. Heat a skillet, add a spoonful of oil just to coat the bottom of the skillet, add tofu pieces with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes, turn each piece to an uncooked side, and repeat so all the the sides are slightly golden - a couple of minutes per side over medium heat. Stir together a tablespoon of soy sauce and sriracha sauce and drizzle over the tofu, continue to cook tossing to coat all the pieces evenly. If made ahead, cool and chill. Warm in a skillet or in the microwave.

Make the Salad: Wash all the veggies well and prepare them as directed; some are sliced, some are cubed, etc. Keep the radish and carrots separate. Place the rest of the veggies in the bowl and mix well. If made ahead, the veggies may be chilled until needed.

Toast the nuts/seeds for Topping: Toast all the seeds/nuts individually using a dry skillet (no oils). As each one is done pour onto a large plate to cool. Add the roasted cashews and peanuts. cover and keep at room temp until needed.

Cook the Pasta/noodles: Boil some water with a little salt, add pasta and cook according to manufactures' directions. Drain. Add a teaspoon of oil and mix well so the pasta does not stick or clump.

Assembly

Heat a large wok, skillet or pot with the oil; stir in onion, carrots and daikon with a pinch of salt and cook until warmed through - about 1 minute or so.

Tip the pasta into the warm veggies, and turn to coat with the oil and mix well. Turn off the heat.

Add the rest of the prepared veggies along with half of the dressing and toss well. Taste and add more dressing, salt & pepper etc as needed.

Divide into large shallow bowls and top with a few tofu pieces and some of the toasted nuts/seeds.

Serve immediately.  Pass the lime wedges and extra dressing to drizzle as desired.

Eat! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Simple Kadapa (Dal & Veggie Stew With Coconut)

Kadapa With Idlis
Kadapa is a very tasty and flavorful saucy korma type of stew to accompany Idli and Dosa instead of the usual Sambar! It is very similar to Poricha Kuzhambu or Molagutal. Kadapa is delicious with roti/pooris as well as served over cooked grains. Coconut, fennel seeds, and lime juice add a lovely flavor to the stew.

NOTE: If grinding coconut is not an option, use 1 cup of coconut milk instead of the fresh/frozen/dry. If you prefer, onions and garlic may be omitted. Cumin seeds may be used instead of the fennel.

4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

Grind together:
1/2 cup fresh/frozen Coconut (1/3 cup dried)
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Green Chile, Serrano type
4 - 5 Raw Cashew nuts or a small handful of cashew pieces
1/2 tsp uncooked rice OR roasted Gram Dal (Pottu kadalai)

For the Stew:

1/4 to 1/3 cup dry yellow Moong Dal
1 cup Cooked dried Whole Peas, Black-eyed Peas, OR Chickpeas (optional)

1 small Potato, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 handful Green Beans, diced 
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Salt

1 T Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
4 - 6 Shallots OR 1 small Onion, peeled and sliced
2 Green Chiles, sliced 
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves, Garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 stems Fresh Curry leaves, sliced fine
1-2 Tomatoes, diced

1 Lime/Lemon, juiced

Method:

Rinse and cook the dal in enough water to cover until soft; pressure cooking speeds this process.

Grind together the coconut and rest of the ingredients into a smooth paste using a small amount of water. Set aside until needed.

Add the prepared potato and carrots along with turmeric and salt to the dal and cook over low to medium heat until just tender, about 8 - 10 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, heat a small pan and add oil. Stir in mustard seeds and cover until they finish popping.

Stir in asafetida, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and onion; stir and cook until onions soften.

Tip the tomatoes into the onion mixture and cook until soft.

Pour the ground coconut mixture into the dal and veggies; use a small amount of water to collect all of the ground spices and add to the pot.

Add the cooked whole beans/peas, green beans, and the tomato mixture to the dal and veggies. Bring to a boil and cook until green beans are tender - a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the lime/lemon juice to taste. Correct for salt as needed.

Serve hot with Idli, Dosa, etc. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sichuan Style Asparagus with Ginger and Garlic

A simple but delicious dish to enjoy with rice, other grains, or pasta. Other veggies like green beans, long beans, etc may be prepared the same way.

Instead of fresh or dried chiles, red pepper flakes or chili paste may be used.

Ingredients:

1 lb Asparagus
2 Tbsp Oil
1-2 Hot chiles, fresh or dry
1/4 tsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pinch Sugar (optional)
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 pinch Salt & freshly ground pepper
1- 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame seeds for garnish
Cilantro for Garnish

Wash, trim and slice the asparagus into 2" lengths. 

Heat a wok or skillet, add the oil, chiles, asparagus, turmeric, and the pinch of salt; cook stirring until beginning to soften - for about three to four minutes.

Mix in ginger and garlic, cook for about 30 seconds. 

Sprinkle the sugar if using and then the soy sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Add pepper if using and mix well. 

Serve hot garnished with sesame and cilantro. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quick & Easy Thai Red Curry

This tasty curry is so quick and easy to prepare that my family would not believe that it was actually made fresh! Fabulous food for a busy weeknight!

Before prepping the curry, start the rice, grains or pasta cooking and you will have everything ready by the time the curry is finished. If you have leftover cooked grains or noodles, then you can serve even quicker. Delicious over cooked white/brown/red rice, quinoa, couscous, rice noodles, angel hair/linguine/spaghetti etc.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

1 can Coconut Milk
2 -3 T Thai Red Curry Paste
1 - 3 t Coconut OR Brown Sugar
1 tsp Curry Powder (optional)
1/4 t Turmeric
1/2 t Salt
Stems from the Cilantro
1 small Onion, diced large
2 - 3 Carrots, sliced thickly
1 pkg Tofu, cut into 1" cubes
6-8 oz Mushrooms, quartered
4 - 6 Mini Sweet Peppers, sliced
2 cups Baby Spinach OR chopped Cabbage
3 - 4 Scallions, sliced
1 Handful Fresh Cilantro

4 Servings cooked hot Rice, grains or noodles
Roasted Cashews or Peanuts, chopped
Thai Style Chile-Garlic Sauce, to serve

Place coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, curry powder (if using), turmeric and salt in a large pan. Heat stirring to mix the curry paste well into the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, lower heat so the sauce is simmering. 

Add the lower thick stems from the cilantro, onions and carrots to the pot, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. 

Tip the tofu cubes, mushrooms, and peppers into the curry and stir gently to coat; cover. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Top the curry with the spinach/cabbage and scallions; do not stir! Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Let the curry rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in the torn cilantro into the curry and serve.

Divide the hot grains or noodles among 4 wide bowls, ladle the curry on top, sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Pass a little bowl of Thai-Style Chile-Garlic Sauce for those who would like to spice up their curry.

Enjoy!




Friday, March 31, 2017

Cazuela - Peruvian Vegetable Soup


Cazuela - Peruvian Vegetable Soup
This beautiful and flavorful soup was inspired by this; it is as handsome as it is delicious! The wonderful variety of veggies adds to its taste and beauty! I made a few changes to accommodate the availability of certain ingredients as well as the cooking to keep the veggies intact.

I make homemade broth to enhance the flavor of the soup. The fresh vegetable broth makes this soup unforgettable! I keep a stock pot with simmering water before starting to prep the veggies. As they become available, I add the clean trimmings from each of the vegetable - starting with the onion and garlic ends, ends and leaves from celery, trimmings from carrots, zucchini, and green beans, potato peels, stems and leaves of carrot greens (these add a wonderful carrot flavor), corn cobs, parsley and cilantro stems, zucchini, cauliflower stalks, etc -  to the stock pot. Lastly, don't forget the nutrient-rich and flavorful cooking broth from beans! By the time you need the stock, it is ready!

Notes:

1. I added a Morita chile in lieu of the aji paste which is not easily available. Morita chiles are available in Mexican and Latino markets.

2. Fava beans star in lots of recipes in Peru; but fresh ones aren't always available and when they are, they are labor-intensive as they have to be  and then each bean has to be peeled before adding to the recipes. So I use readily available frozen green Lima beans instead; what could be more Peruvian than Lima beans?

3. Yuca is a Peruvian root veggie and is a lovely addition to this soup; check this post on preparing yuca. If yuca is not available, taro or regular potatoes may be substituted. If using taro roots, precook in their skin until just tender, cool, peel, cut into chunks and add to soup along with carrots and green beans.

4. I love to add cooked barley or small pasta such as orzo as well as Israeli couscous to add to the heartiness; cooking them in the soup requires a lot of time and would overcook  the veggies into a mush.

5. Other dried beans may be used in place of the garbanzos; some possibilities are Limas, Great Northern, Kidney or Peruvian. The beans may be prepared one or two days ahead and reserved in the fridge until needed or frozen for longer storage.


Vegetable Broth

6 cups fresh Water
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
Vegetable Trimmings, 3-5 cups
Stems from 1 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, Thyme, and Oregano (save leaves for other use)
Lower stems from 1 Bunch fresh Cilantro (save tender stems and leaves for other use)

If you don't have enough trimmings, add a chopped onion , a clove of garlic, a couple of coarsely chopped carrots and celery pieces. The herbs are important for flavor; do include them. Bring all to a boil, lower the heat, cover with a lid slightly ajar, simmer for 30-60 minutes. Let cool and strain. Cool and refrigerate any extra until needed; will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge. May be frozen for longer storage.

Cazuela

1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 big Pinch Sea Salt
2 ribs Celery, diced (1 cup)
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Morita Chile
4-5 sprigs Fresh Oregano OR 1 tsp Dried Oregano
2 fresh Corn on the cob, sliced into 1" thick circles
1 cup Corn Kernels, fresh or frozen
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 slice Pumpkin, Winter Squash, OR Sweet Potatoes diced (about 1 cup)
1 small Turnip, diced
1 cup Yuca, peeled and diced OR 1 Potato
1 cup Green Lima Beans, fresh or frozen
1 cup Cooked Garbanzo beans
6 cups Vegetable broth, combination of water and Broth, or water
Salt & freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 handful Fresh Green Beans, cut into small pieces
1 Carrot, diced1 slice green Cabbage, diced (1 cup)
1 medium Zucchini, diced
1 cup Cooked Barley, Quinoa, Brown Rice, or Tiny Pasta
4 Tbsp EACH, Cilantro stems and leaves & Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 recipe Chimichurri to serve (optional)

Method:

Prepare all the ingredients and keep them separate as they will each be added to the pot at different times.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot; stir in onions, turmeric and the pinch of salt. Cook covered for about 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally; adjust the heat so the veggies don't burn. Tip in the celery, garlic, morita chile and oregano; cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

Add pumpkin, turnip, yuca, corn, tomatoes, garbanzos and the broth or water. Season with salt and Pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the soup for about 10-12 minutes.

Increase the heat so soup comes to a boil; tip the green beans and carrots into the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. then stir in barley/pasta, cabbage and zucchini, Turn off the heat. Let sit with lid slightly ajar for 10 minutes.

Fish out the Morita chile; make a paste using a mortal and pestle and stir it back into the soup; but if you prefer a mild soup, discard the chile.

Stir in the Cilantro and Parsley. Serve in large bowls with one or two pieces of the corn on the cob circles in each bowl. Pass the chimichurri to spoon in and mix into the soup if desired. Enjoy!