Monday, June 26, 2017

Mushroom Methi Malai Do Pyaza (Mushrooms In Tomato Onion Sauce)

Mushroom Methi Malai is pretty easy and quick once you have the masala ready, see note below. It is quite mild but can be spiced up - a little more red chile or a tiny - and I do mean TINY - smidgen of ground Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper will do the trick; start with 1/16 teaspoon or less! Be careful when handling Bhut - it is a very potent pepper albeit tasty. Earthy succulent mushrooms brighten up with a little touch of chile heat!

Kasuri Methi is dried fenugreek (methi) leaves which add an amazing aroma to this curry; in fact it would only be Mushroom Malai without it! Fresh chopped methi leaves may be added instead of the dried if available. 

NOTES: Biriyani Masala may be used instead of the freshly ground spices. If fresh tomatoes are not an option, canned will work very well. Use about half of a 14 1/2 oz can. Canned tomatoes are great when good fresh ones are unavailable. Any type of mushrooms may be used; I have used button type - white or cremini or baby Portobello. For a richer tasting curry, 1/4 - 1/2 cup of coconut cream may be stirred in at the end of cooking.
Mushroom Methi Malai
2 - 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Fresh spices: roast and grind:
1 dried red pepper, broken into two, discard seeds
1/2 t Cumin seeds
1 pod cardamom
1/2" stick Cinnamon, Indian type if available
3-4 whole Cloves
1 tsp Coriander seeds
5-7 Black Peppercorns

Curry:

8 oz Mushrooms, thickly sliced or quartered
2 Tbsp Oil
2 Red Onions, 1 finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
1-2 Green Chiles, blossom ends slit
2 tsp Ginger, finely minced
1-2 cloves Garlic (optional)
1 Bay Leaf
1 pinch Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp  Kashmiri Chile Powder/Paprika
1- 2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1 T Kasoori Methi (Dried Fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp Salt
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro for garnishing

METHOD:

Dry roast all the spices lightly until fragrant, pour into a plate to cool completely. Grind into a fine powder. Reserve.

Prepare all the ingredients and have them ready. Keep the green chiles whole and intact; slit only about 1/2 an inch on the blossom end.

Heat oil and cook the sliced onion with a pinch or two of salt slowly until golden and slightly caramelized.

Tip in the chopped onion, green chiles, ginger, and garlic if using with a couple of pinches of salt on low heat until soft; sprinkle a few drops of water if needed to keep from burning.

Add the asafetida, turmeric, chile powder/paprika; stir and cook until fragrant - about 1 minute.

Stir in chopped tomatatoes along with the bay leaf and cook until softened and a thick sauce forms.

Add the mushrooms, strring to coat with the sauce and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the ground spices and mix well. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with Kasoori Methi, and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Fish out the green chiles so no one gets an unpleasant surprise of biting into one accidentally. Garnish with the coriander/cilantro.

Serve hot or warm with your favorite grains or breads. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Jackfruit Biriyani (Rice Pilaf With Jackfruit)

Young and tender jackfruits are used to make this biriyani; although fresh is prefered, canned ones do when fresh jackfruit is unavailable. Flavorful and filling, Jackfruit Biriyani can be spicy or mild. If you really like it spicy, add half to one teaspoon of cayenne/red chile powder when adding the biriyani masala during cooking. All one needs to complete the meal is some fresh crunchy chopped salad, a green or coconut chutney, and fried or roasted papadams. 

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, soak
2-3 Tbsp Oil
1/4-1/2 cup Cashew pieces 
1 Bay leaf 
2 Green Cardamom Pods
2 Brown Cardamom Pods
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece 
Cloves - 2 
1 large Onion, thinly slivered
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 - 1 inch piece Ginger, finely minced
3-4 Hot/Mild Green chillies, minced OR 1/2 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Tomato, chopped
1 can Green jackfruit, drained well, and torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder 
1 small handful of Mint leaves, about 15 + more for garnish
4 Tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped + more for garnish
2 tsp Salt

METHOD:

Soak basmati rice in  water for 30 minutes. 

Prep the ingredients: Thinly slice onion, finely chop tomatoes and measure out all other ingredients and have them ready. Crush the cardamom pods so their pods crack slightly.

Heat the oil in a large pan - 4-5 quart/liter capacity - and add the cashews; cook until slightly golden. They can be left to cook with the rest or removed and reserved to top the biriyani.

Stir in the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms, and cloves; cook for about 30 seconds.

Add  Add sliced onion. Fry till golden.

Stir in the ginger, garlic if using, and green chiles; cook for about 2 minutes.

Add tomato, salt, biryani masala powder, and turmeric. Cook until tomatoes become soft. 

Sprinkle the mint and coriander leaves.

Tip the jackfruit, drained rice and two and 3/4 cups water; mix gently. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook on low for 10-12 minutes undisturbed; turn off heat. Let rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Gently fluff the biriyani with a fork, transfer to a serving dish if desired, and garnish with mint and coriander leaves and cashew pieces if reserved.

Serve hot with chopped salad, raita, chutney/pickles and pappadams.

Enjoy!!

Biriyani Masala (Homemade Spice Mix For Rice Pilaf & Curries)

Biriyani Masala is a must in the pantry if you love biriyani or pilaf. This spice mix not limited to flavor biriyanis only; it is a fantastic way to flavor and spice up curries also. Start with a teaspoon of the mix to spice a curry to serve four and adjust according to your taste.

Although commercially prepared biriyani masalas are available for purchase, there is no comparison to the freshly ground flavor of the homemade one. This will make enough masala for a couple of months. The masala will stay fresh and flavorful stored in an air-tight jar.

NOTES: If Indian bay leaves are not available, leave them out of the masala; instead add a regular bay leaf or two to the dish during cooking. Kashmiri/byadagi chiles are milder than the regular ones and also lend a vibrant hue to the dish; lesser amount of regular chiles may be used instead along with a tablespoon of paprika.
Biriyani Masala
INGREDIENTS:

7-8  one inch Cinnamon sticks, preferably Indian type
4 T Coriander Seeds
1 Tbsp White Poppy Seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp Cloves
2 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
2-3 Star Anise, broken to pieces
12 Cardamom Pods
5 Brown Cardamom Pods, seeds only
5-7 dried Kashmiri OR Byadagi Chiles, broken into small bits
1/2 Nutmeg, cracked into small pieces
1/2 T Mace
1 T Cumin Seeds
2 tsp Black Peppercorns
6-7 Indian Bay Leaves, torn to bits (optional)

METHOD:

Gather all the ingredients in a large pan and dry roast over low-medium heat stirring constantly for about 6 -7 minutes or until all is warm and beginning to be fragrant. Alternately, place the spices in a baking pan and toast at 300 degrees F for about 5-6 minutes, stirring once or twice. The other choice is to use all the spices raw without toasting; this will be different but still good.

Pour onto a wide plate or platter and let cool completely.

Grind the spices into a fine powder using a spice grinder; this may need to be done in batches depending on the capacity of the grinder. Small bits and pieces of the spices are just fine; but if preferred, sieve the ground spices to remove larger pieces. 

Let cool and store in a clean, dry, jar with a lid.

Use about 1 teaspoon of the masala for a recipe for about 4 servings. 

Enjoy!!



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!!