Friday, March 27, 2015

Milagai Inji Puli

Milagai Inji Puli or literally Tamarind-Chilli-Ginger, is a very famous south Indian side that tastes great with almost anything. Literally. Spread it on toast. Mix it in with rice. Add it to plain yogurt. So delicious. Here's a very simple recipe that's great to whip up and gets a lot of attention from guests.



Milagai Inji Puli
(Chilli Ginger Tamarind)

100 gms (about 1/4 cup) Ginger, cut into match sticks-sizes
5-6 Green Chillies, (use extra long ones. Snip off the top stem, slit halfway lengthwise,keep the chillies whole)
A lemon-sized ball of Tamarind, soaked in warm water and reserve the pulp
1 tbsp Sesame oil (I used Indian sesame oil - gingelly or til oil - but regular sesame oil is fine)
2-3 tsp Asafoetida (or according to taste)
A lemon sized ball of Jaggery
2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Turmeric Powder (optional)
Salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the asafoetida and the long green chillies. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Next add the tamarind pulp and turmeric powder (if using). Let it come to a boil and then add the salt and jaggery. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens.

Now add the ginger and boil for a couple more minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Enjoy.









Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dipu's Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend gave me this recipe ages ago and I should have tried it sooner, because these are some of the best cookies I've ever made.

 

It was easy. My kids did most of the work! And they did most of the eating too!!

 

Dipu's Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes about 4 dozen small cookies or 2 dozen regular cookies - mine here are the small version!)

1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
1 cup Butter, softened
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Hot Water
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 175 deg C.

Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.

Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.




 

 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Plant to Plate

Its been a long dream of mine to have a vegetable garden at home, an organic vegetable garden. In our family, we are famous for having killed a cactus! So I didn't hold out much hope.

A friend and some family started to have their own gardens and I decided I should try before I gave up. So I decided to start it in a very small way.

I got some boxes made out of old cargo boxes that were being thrown away. I lined them with plastic and made some holes in them. I filled them with soil and topped it with a layer of compost that I bought at a local nursery.

My kids and I then planted some seeds. We decided to go with super low maintenance vegetables that should grow quite easily in the bright hot sunny weather. We planted radish, ladies finger, eggplant, beans, tomatoes and green chillies, and a type of spinach.

That was about a month ago or maybe a month and a half. Here's the progress so far. The spinach grew so fast that we actually got to eat it!

From Plant to Plate.



Beans

Tomatoes

Green Chillies

Ladies Finger

And finally, the spinach was made into a nice salad. 



Next, we are going to start our own compost pit at home!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Green Pasta (for the kids)

Not sure about other kids, but mine refuse to eat spinach. Or any leaves. They love broccoli and most vegetables but hate spinach. But I've been trying very hard to get them to eat it. This is what we made for dinner tonight and they actually liked it. I wouldn't say loved but they did like it, and that's a huge step. And said they would like to have it again. Sometime.



Green Pasta
(Pasta with a lovely creamy spinach sauce)

1 cup Pasta, feel free to use any kind, cooked
3 cups Spinach
2-3 Garlic cloves
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup Pine nuts, toasted (optional or feel free to substitute any nuts that you like)

In a blender, add the spinach, garlic, salt, yogurt and parmesan and blend to a smooth sauce.

Put the pasta in a pan on medium heat and add the spinach sauce. Stir to combine and cook together for a few minutes. 

Spoon the pasta into bowls/plates. Top with grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts.

Really quite nice.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gougeres

These little pillows of cheesy French heaven are a perfect snack or appetizer. It is a baked savory pastry made of choux dough. Choux dough or pate a choux is a dough made of only water, butter, milk and flour. Choux pastry is used to make such marvelous things as profiteroles, eclairs and beignets. And gougeres are just choux pastry mixed in with cheese. Sometimes they are also stuffed with meats, or even mushrooms.

I've been quite hesitant to make choux dough since it requires you to be quick and act fast and I kinda like to take my time in the kitchen. But I was quite inspired by a recipe for a three cheese gougere that I read in Saveur, and subsequently went about reading several more recipes for gougeres from David Lebovitz and The Kitchn. All of those links above will tell you how easily these are made, and explain in step by step detail.

The one thing you must do is have all the ingredients on hand. Its difficult when the dough is cooking to then grate the cheese. So make sure your mis-en-place is ready.

Gougeres

8 tbsp Butter, cubed
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Milk
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Water
5 large Eggs
1 cup grated Cheese (I used Parmesan. I recommend any sharp cheese such as Gruyere, Comte or Pecorino)

Preheat the oven to 220 deg C.

On medium high heat, melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the salt, water and milk. When the butter has melted, add the flour. Whisk quickly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and starts sort of looking like mashed potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and add half the cheese and continue cooking the dough, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, to dry out the dough a little bit.

 

Transfer the dough to a bowl and using a hand mixer, mix the dough for 3-4 minutes until it has stopped steaming and slightly warm (be sure it isn't too hot or the eggs will cook when added).

Add one egg at a time, completely incorporating the egg with the hand mixer before adding the next one. Continue until all eggs are blended in.



Scoop all the dough into a piping bag with a plain tip or a Ziploc bag with the edge cut off (which is what I did). Pipe the dough onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Each gougere should be the size of a small cherry tomatoes. Smooth the top down if needed, so it doesn't burn in the oven. Top each one with an additional sprinkling of cheese.



Once the dough is all piped out, put the trays into the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 190 deg C and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.



Serve warm, or at room temperature. It doesn't really matter. They'll fly off the plate in a matter of minutes. :)









Thursday, March 12, 2015

My New Twitter a/c: @akrishna73

Mustard and Cheese Bread

This is a must-try bread. Just take my word for it. Even if you've never baked another bread in your life, do try this. Its delicious, easy and very forgiving. I received this recipe from a friend many years ago. I've made it many many times since then, but have only just realized I haven't posted this on my blog.


It's from Martha Rose Shulman, who is a columnist for the New York Times and an author of several cookbooks. After the great success of this bread, I ran out and bought her book. It's just amazing. Buy a copy. 


Cheese and Mustard Bread

(From Great Breads by Martha Rose Shulman)

2 1/2 tsps Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm Water
1/2 cup lukewarm Milk
1 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Oil
1 large Egg, lightly beaten (about 1/4 cup)
1/4-1/2 cup Mustard (the recipe recommends Dijon but I used an Indian mustard, Kasundi. Also I used a little more than 1/2 cup, as I love the spiciness of Kasundi).
1 tbsp Shallots/ Onions, finely chopped (I used 2 tbsp)
1 cup Sharp Cheese like Gruyere, grated (I used Pecorino, because I love it)
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/4 tsp Salt
1 beaten egg, for egg wash (optional. I didn't use it).

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand for five minutes until frothy.

Mix all the ingredients together including the yeast, in a bowl. (You can add several other options to this dough like cumin seeds, black pepper or any other herbs or spices, maybe even some nuts would be lovely). Keep mixing until they come together as dough. If too sticky, add a little bit of flour, but please go easy on the flour. Of course, you can add some water if the dough is too dry.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a well-oiled bowl and cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the warmth of the room.


Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

Punch down and shape the dough into a loaf. (Or any shape you desire). Place in a loaf pan and cover with a cloth. Leave again in a warm place and allow to double in size.


Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until down. (Adjust timings if you are making anything smaller than a regular loaf). To test if a loaf is done, knock on it gently and you'll get a hollow sound. Let it cool slightly and then remove from pan. Allow to cool for a further 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm.