Showing posts with label Eggs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eggs. Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2015

Veggie Box: Early April 2015

My early April CSA vegetable box came a week ago and showered us with a mountain of fresh greens, just as I expected. And again, I had great fun using up this bounty in all sorts of different ways.


The thing about green leafy vegetables is that they can look formidable in their raw form. But they cook down so dramatically- put them in a saute pan and a big ol' pile of big green leaves is reduced to a few tablespoons in minutes. It is easy to add greens to just about any dish that I'm cooking.

1. Spinach. I had some brussels sprouts on hand and wanted to make something warm, cheesy and comforting for a rainy evening's supper. I ended up making a gratin loosely based on this recipe. As the cheese sauce was almost done, I stirred chopped spinach into it, and it wilted instantly. Then I poured the spinach bechamel sauce onto blanched brussels sprouts in a casserole dish and baked it. The result was wonderful. I did the menu mash-up that I often do and served the brussels sprouts spinach gratin with a vegetable-heavy egg and mushroom pulao.

2. Arugula. This is the delicate leafy vegetable with a very distinctive peppery flavor and is known as rocket in some places. I used the arugula in a version of this egg and potato dish, a favorite recipe that I posted 10 years ago!

Here's the brief recipe for the potato arugula frittata:
  • Saute 1 minced onion and season it with salt, ginger and garlic. 
  • Stir in 2 medium shredded potatoes (squeezed to remove excess water) and 1 big bag (yes, that's a technical unit of measure right there) fresh arugula. 
  • Saute until potatoes are tender, then pat down the mixture. 
  • Beat 5 eggs with salt, pepper and 1/4 cup shredded parmesan or cheddar cheese, pour the eggs on the vegetable mixture. 
  • Cover and cook until the eggs are set. Cut into wedges and serve. 

3. Salad mix. This was a mixture of different salad greens and the taste was unbelievable. Tasting farm fresh greens- some sweet, some peppery, some mildly bitter- is a game changer and can convert you into a salad lover very quickly. We enjoyed the greens dressed simply with Caesar salad dressing.

4. Beet greens. (Or at least I think they were beet greens). My quilter friends dropped in for a sewing session and stayed for lunch, and I made some vegetable curry- basically matar paneer minus paneer and plus other veggies that I had on hand, and served it with greens jeera fried rice. You guessed it, this is just beet greens sauteed with cumin, then tossed with cooked rice. It works, folks. Greens make everything taste better.

5. Turnips. Roasting is my tried and true method for dispatching just about any vegetable so I gave it a try by making turnip fries. They were fine, nothing special. If I get turnips in the next box, I'll give it the Indian treatment to see if I like that better.

6. Snap peas. In my previous veggie box post, a reader left a kind suggestion that I try a dry subzi with sugar snap peas. I did just that with wonderful results- this might have been the best thing I made all week. Here's the recipe for a quick garlickly sugar snap peas subzi. It goes well with a homestyle Indian meal.

Make this subzi in a hot cast iron pan or kadhai for best results- the quick stir frying on high heat keeps the veggies tender and very flavorful.
  • Wash sugar snap peas and cut the pods into 2-3 pieces each on the diagonal. 
  • Saute 1 sliced onion until translucent. 
  • Add 4-5 cloves garlic (sliced thin), turmeric, red chili powder, cumin coriander powder, salt. Optionally, add a diced fresh tomato. 
  • Add sliced pods and stir-fry until just tender.

7. Mint. I was so excited to get mint in the box, and ended up using it in mint and cucumber instant dosas. These are based on a cucumber dosa recipe that I grew up eating. (I had to laugh when I read my post from a decade ago and said I am an early bird because I wake up at 6:30 AM on weekends. Well, these days I'm up at 5 AM every single day thanks to my baby girl who is an even earlier bird.)

Here's a brief recipe for the instant dosas. If you're drowning in zucchinis come summer, bookmark this recipe because it works beautifully with zucchini too. 

  • Peel and shred 3 cucumbers (no need to remove the seeds) into a bowl. If the cucumbers are very watery, pour out some of the excess water from the shredded cukes. 
  • Cut mint leaves into thin ribbons and add them to the bowl.
  • Add 1/2 cup ragi flour, 1/3 cup besan and 2 tbsp. rice flour (approximate quantities).
  • Season with cumin seeds and salt, and optionally minced chili. 
  • Mix into a thick batter. You'll need no water; the salt will draw more than enough water from the cucumbers. 
  • Heat an oiled griddle and pour on a ladleful of batter. Use the ladle (or better yet, your fingertips) to spread it around carefully. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. 
  • Let one side cook until golden brown, then flip carefully and let the other side cook until golden brown. If cooked patiently on a fairly low flame, the dosa is crisp on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside. 

8. Kale. There were a couple of handfuls of kale that I made into a quick kadhi.

Finally, the box had some other little herb bundles (sage, thyme etc.) that I still haven't used. And there was a bottle of the farm's homemade hot sauce. Can you tell I'm loving the veggie boxes?

* * * 

I was chatting with one of my exercise class buddies as we waited for the class to begin, and she mentioned her flock of backyard chickens. She fondly described how they cluck around in her big backyard all day and nest in a coop at night. It turned out that the chickens lay more eggs than she needs, and she sells the extras to a few of her friends and neighbors (3 bucks a dozen). I promptly put in a request and since then, I've been getting a dozen fresh eggs every week- gym delivery! Going to the gym has so many benefits ;)

But seriously, I am thoroughly enjoying being more active. My weekly routine, more or less, is one swim session, one zumba class, and two fitness classes that have 30 minutes of stretching followed by 30 minutes of strength training. This covers 4 weekdays. I look forward to all of this, but the zumba class is my favorite. The instructor is absolutely adorable, the music is energizing, I laugh heartily at how ridiculous I look, and that one hour class elevates my mood for days. Why did I miss out on this fun all this time?

At work, when my boss saw that I was serious about standing at my desk (I propped up my two monitors and keyboard with boxes and thick books for 2-3 months), he authorized a real proper adjustable standing desk for me. It came last week and I love my swanky new set up.

On weekends, we look for opportunities to get out and go for long walks and to parks and playgrounds, especially now that the weather is nicer. But I definitely laze around and some rest too, or what passes for rest when you have a 3 year old kid and 2 year old puppy at home.

Have a great week, friends. Tell me what you've been eating!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Festive Sugar High


Of Tiramisu

Last weekend, the parade of witches and zombies prowling the streets symbolized the start of the holiday season in the US.

I had big plans for a orange-and-black Halloween dinner. In the end, it worked out with some adjustments. There was a black bean soup, vegetable-cheese enchiladas in a orange-ish gravy (totally delicious, by the way) and spinach salad with almonds that have orange skin and dried blueberries (those look almost black if you squint at them).

For weeks before, I had been eyeing the tiramisu recipe (this happens to be V's favorite dessert) posted on Served With Love. What a lovely simplified recipe, but it does call for a bunch of specialty ingredients. We were at a local Italian store the day before Halloween and I stocked up on marsala wine, mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers (light finger-shaped cookies; nothing to do with bhindi) and espresso powder.

So tiramisu made it to the black and orange theme dinner because espresso is nearly black and ladyfingers are nearly orange. Why I humor myself this way I don't know. Clearly my spouse and friends eat whatever I put in front of them regardless of colors and themes.

In making tiramisu, I learnt a few new things:

  1. Marsala is a fortified wine (it has alcohol added to it) which means it keeps well in the pantry, just like brandy or sherry. A bottle of marsala can be bought and used over several months, which is great because this is not a drinking wine, and recipes that call for marsala wine usually need a cup or less. 
  2. Mascarpone is like a cream cheese but quite tasteless on its own. But it forms a wonderful base for the dessert, picking up the flavors of booze and coffee very well.
  3. Egg whites freeze beautifully. After defrosting them, they can be whipped just like fresh egg whites. 
The tiramisu recipe is a keeper for sure. The only challenging bit is when you cook the yolks together with some wine and sugar into a light custard. You need some judgement to tell when it is cooked, and it needs a good bit of patient stirring. Other than that, you mix and layer. Everyone who tasted this dessert was in raptures- it is not too sweet and utterly decadent.


Coconut Macaroons

Now what was to be done with the 4 egg whites left over from the tiramisu recipe? Luckily, the coconut macaroons I intended to make for a party yesterday called for 2 egg whites. As I cracked open 4 eggs for the tiramisu, I kept a bowl and a storage container near me. Two whites went into each of these. The egg whites in the bowl were whipped up to make a quick omelet for lunch and the container with the other two egg whites went into the freezer. I pulled them out of the freezer two hours before starting to make macaroons and they thawed and came up nearly to room temperature, and were easily whisked into foamy soft peaks.

The coconut macaroons come from a recipe by Monica Bhide, posted by Susan, the Food Blogga. I bookmarked them three years ago, I think, and finally found that they could be part of the Blog Bites end of year holiday buffet and of our Diwali celebrations.

Diwali, the festival of lights, is being celebrated this weekend and although I am not religious (understatement of the year, much?), I can certainly get behind the spirit of good triumphing over evil and the light of wisdom overcoming the dimness of ignorance. And what's not to love about the tradition of making, sharing and eating sweets and treats?

If you have saffron and cardamom on hand, the rest of the ingredients- eggs, sweetened condensed milk and sweetened coconut flakes- can be found in any ol' American supermarket. This is a big plus in my world, where trips to the Indian store for specialty ingredients are few and far between.


As you start setting out the ingredients, you already feel the ghosts of nariyal burfis past. The unmistakable blending of coconut and sugar and cardamom is sure to trigger memories of celebrations. The process of making these could not be simpler. Crush cardamom and saffron into a powder. Mix this spice with coconut flakes, condensed milk and a tinge of salt, then fold in whipped egg whites to hold everything together. Scoop little tablespoon-sized mounds on a cookie sheet and bake to perfection. Please refer to the recipe for complete and detailed directions.

Even though two of the ingredients have the word "sweetened" emblazoned right there in their names, we found that the macaroons were not tooth-achingly sweet. The taste of the coconut and the scent of the spices came through convincingly. Several people at the party told me how much they enjoyed the macaroons, even though coconut can be, you know, polarizing.

The only thing I would do differently next time would be to either lower the baking temperature for my oven or bake the macaroons on the top rack because I found that the macaroons browned very quickly at the bottom (a couple of them crossed the line between browned and burnt) before the tops had a chance to get toasty.


For anyone who does not wish to use eggs or does not have access to an oven, Suma of Veggie Platter has a recipe for coconut laddus using condensed milk and sweetened coconut flakes but skipping the eggs and the baking; check it out here.


Happy Diwali to all who celebrate it; I wish you all much sweetness and joy this weekend and for the year to come.

* * *
P.S. An announcement for interested readers in the St. Louis area- Cookbook author Raghavan Iyer (whose recipes are well-loved on several blogs) will be at Washington University next week. There are demos and book signings and buffets galore. Check out the events by clicking on the picture below:

Monday, February 08, 2010

Egg Salad, Indian Style

Many weekends, you will find V and me sitting huddled at a table with 6 other people, in a school gym or church meeting hall or some such venue, trying to answer really random questions in a trivia fundraiser. It is a very St. Louis thing, apparently.

Trivia games are fueled by the steady consumption of soda and popcorn (free! from the sponsors!) and whatever snacks the competitors bring to the table. Trivia nights combine my two favorite things, (a) trying new recipes on unsuspecting friends, and (b) justifying my hours and hours of mindless TV-watching by being able to flawlessly answer questions about important personalities like the Balloon Boy and OctoMom.

I try to bring snacks that have some nutritional value and that are a somewhat OK substitute for a proper dinner. This weekend, I made egg salad with an Indian touch. This recipe was just something I made up as I went along, but it was surprisingly successful and the bowl was scraped clean at the trivia table.

Egg Salad, Indian Style


1. Hard boil 6 large eggs. I use Kalyn's method for perfectly cooked eggs every time. Peel the eggs and cut each one into 6-8 chunks.

2. As the eggs boil, get the rest of the ingredients ready. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a pan and saute 1 medium onion, diced finely until it is translucent.

3. Add the following and saute for a few seconds:
1 heaped tsp. ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. red chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tsp. Kitchen King masala (or garam masala)
salt to taste

4. Stir in 2 chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned) and saute the onion mixture until it is quite dry. Let it cool.

5. In a bowl, mix the following with a gentle touch:
Chopped eggs
Onion mixture
2-3 tbsp. mayonnaise (or sour cream or thick yogurt)
1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Minced cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

6. Sprinkle paprika on the egg salad for a bright accent.

Serve with baguette slices or whole grain crackers. This would also be an excellent filling for sandwiches or pita pockets. I know I will be making this often for picnics in summer.

Dale's Tales


Dale's tip for staying toasty in winter: Position yourself strategically and enjoy two heat sources at one time, sunshine on your front end and heat from the radiator on your rear end!

I'll be back with a simple soup later in the week. See you then!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pumpkin Flan

This is what I made for Thanksgiving dessert- Pumpkin Nutmeg Flan, another long-bookmarked recipe that I finally found a muhurat to make. V is an ardent fan of flans and caramel custards of all types, so I knew he would love this dessert.

To keep it simple, I skipped the cookie topping in the original recipe.

The one technique that is used here is baking in a hot water bath or a bain marie. Read more about this technique here.

Here's how the original recipe came to be Recipe #35: Pumpkin Flan.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

2. Put a kettle of water to boil, for the bain marie.

3. In a large bowl, add

7 eggs
1 15 oz. can canned pumpkin puree
1 14 oz. can condensed milk
1 12 fl. oz. can evaporated milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Use an immersion blender to make a smooth mixture.

4. In another pan, melt 1 cup sugar into amber caramel.

5. Pour the caramel carefully into a loaf pan. Add the pumpkin mixture and bake in a bain marie for 15 mins. Then turn down the oven to 350F and bake until set (inserted knife should come clean), 45 minutes or so.

6. Chill, then invert before serving.




Notes:

One problem I had was that there was way too much pumpkin mixture- it would have overflowed the loaf pan. At the last minute, I had to grab a smaller bowl and set up another bain marie so as not to waste the remaining mixture. So if you plan on using these proportions, have 2 oaf pans, or one loaf pan and some extra baking cups ready.

Another thing I would do differently next time is to cover the pans with foil while baking to avoid a rubbery surface from forming.

The flan was absolutely delicious- with flavors of pumpkin and nutmeg, it was the perfect alternative to pie on this holiday.

To all those who celebrate it, Happy Thanksgiving! I have a very very long list of things that I am thankful for, but I'll only mention here my gratitude to the good folks who visit this space, share their love for home cooking and always have a kind word for me. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julia's Provencal Tomato Quiche

Years after she passed away, Julia Child is once again the talk of the town. I went to see the movie Julie and Julia this weekend, and quite enjoyed watching Julia Child's larger than life personality artfully brought to life by Meryl Streep. What I love about Julia Child has nothing to do with French cooking, really. It is the way she grabbed life with both hands and simply went on to do whatever she felt like, without being self-conscious in the least.

V and I have spent so many lazy Saturdays going about our chores with the TV tuned to PBS in the background. We would be putting away the groceries and folding laundry as Julia Child chatted with master chefs in her trilling voice, Lidia Bastianich made gigantic vats of pasta and plumbers dispensed sage advice on This Old House. I love the cooking shows on PBS- they are so authentic and professional and infused with genuine love for cooking.

Last week, I hauled home a mighty tome from the library- Julia Child's The Way To Cook, published in 1989, a cookbook that focuses on techniques. Don't you love illustrated cookbooks from the '80s? There is something utterly charming about the colors on the photos, the over-the-top garnishes and the layout of the food. The pastry and dessert chapters in this book had me completely mesmerized.

The recipe I chose was one that sounds perfect for the season- Provencal Tomato Quiche. It calls for pre-baking a pie shell, then layering it with an anchovy paste, a filling of sauteed onions and tomato blended with eggs, and a topping of parmesan cheese and fresh tomato slices. My two major modifications were- I did not want to use anchovies so I substituted olives instead, and I used a store-bought frozen pie shell. There, I said it. I do have several excuses for not making my own pastry dough! Take your pick: There was a heat advisory that day and I was loathe to spend a minute more in the kitchen than absolutely necessary. I was busy hoisting myself up a wooden ladder to see the roof-top herb garden of a nearby cafe (no joke). My lace scarf won't knit itself. But before you cast your judgement, I'll have you know that this chapter contains a paragraph called "To Prebake Frozen Store-bought Shells". So Julia has actually legitimized such behavior!

Provencal Tomato Quiche

Aug09_4

Adapted from Julia Child's The Way To Cook

1. Pre-bake a pie shell. I used a 9-inch whole wheat pastry shell, defrosted it for 5-10 minutes, pricked it all over with a fork and baked it at 450 F for 15 minutes.

2. Base: Blend ½ cup kalamata olives to a coarse paste.

3. Filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, then saute
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 medium onions, sliced thinly
until the onions are cooked but not browned.

Add 2 cups tomato puree and cook the mixture until it is very thick and the water has almost evaporated. Season the mixture with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, oregano and thyme.

Let the filling cool almost to room temperature, then stir in 1 whole egg, 3 egg yolks and ½ cup minced fresh parsley.

4. Grate some parmesan cheese and slice 1-2 fresh tomatoes.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Assemble the quiche- layer the olive paste at the bottom of the prebaked pie shell, then pour in the filling, scatter the cheese and arrange the tomato slices ("tastefully", Julia instructs. I tried). Drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

6. Bake the quiche for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Aug09_3


This quiche would be perfect with a fresh green salad. However, that evening, I had a bunch of vegetables that needed to be urgently dispatched, and as I had fired up the oven already, I simply roasted them and served them on the side. This quiche is divine. It is absolutely hearty and flavorful, a mouthful of summer.
Aug09_5


This post goes to Lisa at Champaign Taste, for her fourth annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration.

Coming up next- lentils + butter + cream= ?? Stay tuned!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Goan Egg Curry

Today's dish: a filling and comforting Goan-inspired Egg Curry.
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I am sending this picture to CLICK: Yellow for Bri.

Goa: a sliver of a state on the West coast of India, consisting of beach after beach after beach, and some beautiful temples and churches and the winding Mandovi river as well. It is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, with so many water bodies. Last time my parents were there, they picked up this very touristy (and cute) drawstring bag with some typical Goan spice mixes. They said it was a gift "for the blog". Friends and family have nearly stopped giving me gifts- now they keep an eye out for food-related stuff and give gifts to One Hot Stove instead! Anyway, the drawstring bag was coaxed into the luggage of their friends and winged its way to me. I was thrilled to bits, needless to say :)
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Inside are four neatly packaged spice mixes, all representing the typical curries of Goa. As it happens, they are all meat/fish curries, but my mother wrote a note saying that it would not be too difficult for me to come up with some meatless versions and "show them on the blog" (blog var dakhav). So that's exactly what I plan to do. Note that none of the recipes I will be making from these spice mixes are authentic in the least; they are simply my own adaptations. Each packet has a recipe on the back. The first one that I am using today is the Goan fish curry masala.
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Unfortunately, the packets don't list the spices included in the spice mix. This fish curry spice mix was a brilliant shade of red and the aroma was mostly of fiery dried red chillies. A look at similar recipes on a few different blogs shows that the predominant dry spices used are chillies, coriander seeds, turmeric and peppercorns, so those of you who want to try this at home could blend these spices and give it a try.

I converted the fish curry recipe into one for egg curry, because egg curry is certainly one of my weaknesses. My mom reminded me that fried slices of tubers (such as yam) are very reminiscent of the texture of fish (but none of the other aspects of fishiness that make me not want to eat the real thing), and that might make for an interesting curry too. I'll try that sometime when I have yam on hand. Here's the recipe, adapted from the back of the spice packet.

Goan-inspired Egg Curry

Ingredients:
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 t oil
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 fresh green chilli, slit lengthwise
1 t ginger-garlic paste
1 C coconut milk (fresh or canned)
1 heaped T tamarind pulp
1 T Goan fish curry masala (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Method:
1. Using some hot water, extract the tamarind juice and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the onions and green chilli until the onions are translucent and browning slightly.
3. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for a minute.
4. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, masala and salt. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
5. Peel the eggs and slice into quarters. Add the eggs gently into the curry and simmer for a few more minutes.

I served the curry with some freshly steamed rice and a bright salad (red bell pepper, cucumber, lettuce, lemon juice, freshly ground pepper, salt). This was a weekday dinner that came together in no time at all. The egg curries I usually make contain tomato, and this tomato-less one was wonderful, with the tamarind adding its unique sweet-tangy flavor. The spice mix is tasty without tasting too complicated and "busy", if you know what I mean, and I really enjoyed the simple flavors. I will be using each of the other three spice mixes in the coming weeks, so watch out for weird adaptations of xacuti, vindaloo and cafreal!

*** *** ***

Knitting Update...
I am convinced that knitting is an infectious disease! A few people have been sending me comments and e-mails asking me what resources were helpful as I started to knit. I am taking something of a just-in-time approach to learning to knit, picking up each stitch and method as I need it in various projects. Here are the resources that helped me immensely:
1. Learning a few basic stitches from a friend was the only reason why I even started knitting in the first place. If you don't have a friend who knits, consider taking beginner classes at a local craft or yarn store.
2. Ravelry is the most incredible resource ever.
3. Books: The Vogue Knitting book is my textbook. A friend tells me that she learned to knit all by herself from the Stitch 'n Bitch book. Your local library will have plenty of knitting books so check them out (no pun intended).
4. Knitting videos. A web search will yield many other sites for knitting videos, including several on YouTube.

There are other resources like knitting blogs (of course!) and knitting e-newsletters that I am only now starting to look into.

Want to see my latest projects? Here, I am trying my hand at simple lace designs:
Traveling Vine Cloth
Vine3


Twin Leaf Cloth
TwinLeaf


After a dozen cloths, I am finally working on my first full-size garment, a summer vest. I'll show it to you when I am finished with it, hopefully in the next week or so!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sweet and Salubrious

Back to breakfast! All the new-and-improved breakfast treats I tried so far this month have been savory, in a frank display of my personal preferences. But every once in a while, I do crave a little sweet something to go along with my morning chai.

Today's whole-grain tweak: Using whole-wheat pastry flour and almond meal for baked goodies. Whole-wheat pastry four is a low-gluten flour of finely milled whole wheat. I started using it only this month, and am I loving it! It is the perfect substitute for all-purpose flour in a variety of popular breakfast foods like pancakes, coffee cake, biscotti and muffins. Apparently, it works even in a decadent chocolate cake!

Almond meal is nothing but almonds that are ground to a flour. I got mine at Trader Joe's, but of course it can be made it home by simply blitzing down almonds to a fine powder. Nut flours can go real rancid real fast, so I store it in the refrigerator. Almond meal is becoming more commonly available because it is a useful flour replacer for those who are on a low-carb or gluten-free diet. Almond meal can be creatively used in all kinds of sweet treats like apple crisp, cherry clafoutis, lemon ricotta-almond cake and also in savory recipes like Kalyn's breakfast muffins.

In a bid to use up some buttermilk left over from this recipe, I used the proportions given in this Vegetarian Times recipe to come up with a simple pear and almond loaf. Grated pears add a beautiful moist and sweet touch to this cake.

Pear Almond Loaf

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Ingredients:
1 ½ firm medium Pears
1 T Lemon juice

2 large Eggs
½ C Sugar

Dry Ingredients (mix together)
1 ½ Whole-wheat pastry flour
¾ C Almond meal
1 ½ t Baking powder
½ t Baking soda

Wet Ingredients (mix together)
¾ C low-fat cultured Buttermilk
2 T Applesauce
2 T Oil
1 t Vanilla extract (or almond extract)

Almond slivers for garnish

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease/spray a loaf pan.
2. Coarsely grate the pears (you need about 1 cup), add the lemon juice and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar for several minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
4. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, a third of each at a time, into the egg-sugar mixture and mix gently.
5. Press the extra liquid out of the grated pears and stir them into the batter.
6. Pour batter into the loaf pan evenly. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes clean. Let it cool before slicing.

Verdict: What a spongy and delicious loaf this is! The rich almond flavor was unmistakable. The loaf rose just beautifully and I got that coveted crease on top. The almond slivers did add a pretty touch and a great crunch to the loaf (IMHO) but they sure made it a challenge to cut neat slices. I found it easier to turn the loaf on its side and cut that way. Cut into thin slices or thick wedges, this is a great loaf to pack into a lunch-box or take along on a picnic, or to serve with your favorite beverage. Instead of pears, other fruits like apple or ripe banana would work just as well, as would chopped dried fruits like dates or figs.

This post is making its way to Raaga's blog, where pears are being celebrated as the fruit of the month!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Royal" Burji...

...hits the spot in this lazy Sunday brunch. Burji is simply Indian-style scrambled eggs; "royal" because it contains a spice mix with a regal name.

It started when Bhags posted this simple dal called Bachelor tadka. She braved a "queue of shoes", smelly socks and mountains of unwashed clothes to fearlessly obtain this recipe for us, so the least I could do was give it a try. The other intriguing feature of this recipe was an ingredient called Kitchen King Masala. I started to think that this was some sort of brand name, but a little investigative work via Google revealed that it is actually a generic name for a particular blend of spices, and that several brands sell their versions of this Kitchen King masala. I wonder who came up this spice blend; the name "Kitchen King" suggests that it must be a fairly recent invention. In any case, I bought myself a packet of Kitchen King Masala (Badshah brand is what I found). Badshah (emperor) and Kitchen King! If that isn't a royal combination, I don't know what is :D

2008_44Simply put, Bhags' bachelor tadka rocks. In no time at all, it has climbed right to the top of the list of "Things That Practically Cook Themselves And Keep Me Sane On Weeknights". The whole dal gets made in the pressure cooker itself, and the combination of the ghee tadka and the masala results in the most appetizing aroma as the pressure cooker hisses and whistles madly. This recipe carries an unconditional guarantee that everyone in the home will stop by the kitchen and ask that coveted question: "What smells so good?"


I must be the last person on the planet to discover Kitchen King masala; people are busy using it in all kinds of simple and tasty dishes like potato curry, egg curry, veg pulao, masala masoor and okra-spinach curry. For despite its majestic name, the Kitchen King masala is best suited as a multipurpose masala that is best used for throwing together tasty and impromptu dishes for everyday meals for us commoners. Like this spicy burji that follows.

Egg Burji


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(serves 2-3)
Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 tomatoes, chopped fine
2 t oil
1/2 t red chilli powder
1/2 t turmeric powder
1 heaped t Kitchen King masala
1 T ketchup
salt to taste
handful of minced cilantro
Beat together
4 eggs (could omit a yolk or two)
1 T milk
salt to taste

Method:
1. Heat the oil (medium heat) and saute onion until translucent.
2. Add red chilli powder, turmeric, KK masala and salt and saute for a few seconds.
3. Stir in tomato and ketchup and saute until the mixture is almost dry.
4. Lower heat to medium-low, then stir in the egg mixture. Gently cook the eggs, stirring once in a while, until they are barely set.
5. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

I served the burji with some whole-wheat tortillas for a satisfying brunch.
2008_43


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Musical uses her surprise Arusuvai ingredient in the most innovative way. Take a look for yourself!

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The stinker Thinker. Dale ponders the meaning of life...


...and a minute later, ponders the inside of his eyelids.


Have a great week!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Indian Toast?

Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi (home to dozens of drool-worthy pictures) are hosting a new themed food photography event. The event, called CLICK, kicks off this month with the theme: Eggs!



Eggs are on the weekend brunch menu nearly every weekend at our home. We are loyal to our favorite dishes, and I love a spicy, savory brunch, so it is usually a choice between Pateta par Eeda, Egg-Onion Float, Omelette, and a fourth eggy dish that I have not blogged yet, French toast, Indian style. This last dish is completely unlike American-style French toast, which is usually rich and sweet, and drenched in syrup or showered with sugar. Indian French toast kicks it up a notch, with flecks of green chillies and cilantro clinging to savory golden brown fried bread (I wonder what the French think of either of these two types of "French" toast). It would be so much more elegant to serve the Indian-style French toast with a sweet and sour chutney or relish, but I am a slave to nostalgia, and eat my French toast with ketchup, exactly the way I loved it as a child.

Indian French Toast

(makes 2 hearty brunch servings)
1. In a shallow bowl, beat 3 eggs.
2. Add 2 T finely minced onion, 1-2 finely minced green chillies, 2 T finely minced cilantro, 1 T milk/ cream and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Dip 4 slices of bread (stale bread works great!) into the eggy mixture for a couple of minutes on each side, to allow the egg mixture to soak through.
4. Fry on a lightly oiled skillet until golden brown on each side.

The food blog world is home to some highly talented photographers; their creativity far exceeds that of the pros whose pictures are splashed across food magazines and advertisements, in my opinion. I have a lot to learn from them. While I love taking pictures of food to go along with my posts, I never get around to spending the time and effort, and mustering the creative energy to pull off "real" shoots. A complex combination of greed and impatience (and hungry looks from friends and family who are waiting to dig in) ensures that I shoot my food on the double. So this entry to their event is purely for fun and in the spirit of participation!

The pictures, as usual, were taken at top speed, before the precious toast got too cold to eat. I used a Canon PowerShot digital camera with the Macro mode. I usually do use the Macro mode because food shots are close-ups. And I never use a flash, mostly because I have yet to take a decent food picture using a flash!

I liked these two pictures and I can't choose between them: #1 has three bright contrasting colors on the white background of the plate- green herbs, red ketchup (no food is as shamelessly red as ketchup, is it??), and the golden-brown toast. This looks quite cheerful to me. In picture #2, I tried to get arty :D with a fork tempting the viewer to take a bite (don't laugh, I'm trying my best here). Many thanks to Kalyn for the thoughtful gift of that gorgeous "prop" fork.

Please help me choose one picture as the entry. Leave a comment telling me whether you prefer picture #1 or #2; thanks a ton for your input! I'll count the votes on Thursday night and send off the higher-vote picture as my entry.

#1: A Bright Start to the Day
clickeggs1


#2: Won't You Take a Bite?
clickeggs2


P.S.: I spent some time working on the Recipe Index and I hope it will be a bit more user-friendly now. The internal links should make it easier to browse through the index.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Mid-Eastern Breakfast Platter

This is my entry for Weekend Breakfast Blogging, a monthly event showcasing my favorite meal of the day! WBB is the brainchild of Nandita from Saffron Trail. This month, WBB is being hosted by Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food. Glenna wants us to explore the world from our own kitchens; her theme is : Ethnic Dishes with a Twist, challenging us to "make a dish from a culture, country, or ethnicity other than your own".

For all my distaste of touristy activities, I love culinary travel! Living in the melting pot that is the United States certainly is helpful in terms of getting access to all kinds of delicious "exotic" ingredients. For this event, I was inspired by a huge (and hugely satisfying) breakfast platter that I recently enjoyed at a tiny restaurant called Coffee Oasis right here in our neighborhood.

The star of the plate is an omelet, bursting with the fresh flavors of onion and parsley. Instead of the usual toast, this omelet is served with wedges of freshly-baked pita bread. What makes the platter so enjoyable are all the fixins' that go into it: first, a handful of salty, savory olives. Next, a mound of simple mixed salad that adds color and crunch, an finally, a small dollop of thick strained yogurt known as labneh (strained thick yogurt...resembles the chakka (Marathi word) that we use to make shrikhand). This adds a cool and creamy contrast to the rest of the dishes. This is my attempt to recreate that breakfast platter...

Parsley- Red Onion Omelet

pitabreakfast
For each person, you need...
2 large eggs
2 heaped T minced red onion
2 heaped T minced parsley
Method: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and beat together until fluffy. Add salt to taste and generous amounts of freshly ground pepper. Make omelets! (Sounds silly, but it has taken me several years to learn how to make decent omelets. Look at videos and websites to learn how. Or watch some of Julia Child's cooking shows...she makes the most amazing omelets, IMHO).

Fixings:
1. Whole-wheat pita: This was my very first attempt at making pita, and I used this beautifully detailed recipe from Jugalbandi. I used all white whole-wheat flour for the recipe, and only 2 tsp yeast (which was more than enough in this warm weather). For a first attempt, they turned out pretty good! I'm looking forward to making more.
2. Olives: You can get quite fancy here, but I used my staple bottled Kalamata olives. If you have access to a good store or deli with an olive bar, a bowl of mixed marinated olives would be excellent here.
3. Mixed salad: Slices of ripe tomato, peeled cucumber and red onion all tossed together with lemon juice and a dash of salt.
4. Greek yogurt: I served Fage 2% yogurt as an easy alternative to home-made labneh.

Simply arrange all of the components on a platter and serve. The beautiful platter that I served this brunch on was a loving and entirely unexpected wedding gift last year from sweet Stephanie.

For delicious brunch ideas from all over the world, check out Glenna's globe-trotting round-up.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

N is for Nargisi Kebab

The myriad cuisines of India all love their vegetables! Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried into hundreds of vegetable dishes. In this series, the A to Z of Indian Vegetables, we take an alphabetical journey through the various avatars of vegetables relished in Indian cuisine. For each letter, we will make a tasty vegetable dish that illustrates one manner in which vegetables are savored in India.

Welcome to the second half of our alphabetical journey...

The "N" of Indian Vegetables

The letter N inspired fourteen novel Indian flavors! Truly, the entries in this round-up are extra-creative, no two are alike, with bloggers making the most of a pretty challenging letter...

Let's start with an N flower...the Neem Flower. The neem tree is a beautiful evergreen with great medicinal value and a plethora of uses. But I had no idea about the culinary use of the neem flower! Suganya of Tasty Palettes shows us how sun-dried neem flowers can be used to make a flavorful Neem Flower Rasam. Suganya is a new blogger, and looking at her beautiful posts and pictures, I am looking forward to more of her posts!

The two N vegetables are rather unusual ones.

First up, we have the lotus root, known in Hindi as Nadur or nadru. An uncommonly beautiful vegetable (I think of it as Nature's artistic cutwork), the nadur is used extensively in some Northern regions of India, but is a completely new vegetable to me. Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi share a traditional way of making the lotus root, a delicate yogurt-based preparation called Nadur Yakhni.

The second N vegetable is Nuggekayi, the Kannada (language of Karnataka) word for drumsticks. Suma of Veggie Platter uses these slender, tapering and tender green pods to make a simple and delicious curry called Nuggekayi Palya.

Next come a big bowl of N fruits...

The Nariyal or coconut is so much more than a mere fruit! Coconuts have religious significance in Hinduism, are widely grown in coastal India, and are the superstars of Southern Indian cuisine. It would take me years to list the delicious (sweet and savory) recipes in which the coconut is used. Here, the nariyal is richly represented with a very traditional preparation. Reena of Spices of Kerala uses the coconut to make Aviyal, one of the most well-known and well-loved dishes from Kerala, and also shares two lovely tales about the origin of this wonderful dish.

Next, we have two citrus fruits.

Nimbu or lemon/lime, is on the weekly shopping list of most Indian households. The tangy and fresh flavor of lemon adds zing to so many dishes. Here, Asha of Aroma/Foodie's Hope lets the lemon take center stage with her unusual recipe for some tasty Nimbu Masala.

Navel Oranges represent our longing for the sunny days of summer. Sreelu of Sreelu's Tasty Travels shares some cool-looking, dreamily creamy Navel Orange Ice Cream Cups that are sure to be a hit at your next summer soiree!

...and two rather unusual fruits, both shared by A Cook of Live to Cook. Naraththai is a Tamil word for a type of sour orange and it is added to dough and made into bright orange, beautiful Naraththai Puris. Nellimulli is Tamil for dried gooseberry, and is blended into a delicious relish called Nellimulli Pachidi.

Then, we have one N bean: the Navy Bean, a small white bean that is the traditionally the most popular bean of England and North America. Anglo-American they may be, but here, navy beans get the traditional Palakkad treatment when Sheela of Delectable Victuals flavors them with an aromatic spice mixture to make Navy Beans Paduthoval.

Coming up next, a N cereal, the pearly grains of the finger millet, known in Hindi as ragi and Marathi as Nachni. This cereal is a wonderful example of an unglamorous food that nonetheless provides inexpensive and invaluable nutrition to millions of people in Asia and Africa. Mahek of Mahek's Kitchen shows us how we can include nachni in our everyday cooking with her recipe for a soft and wholesome Nachni Roti.

The next food is a perennially popular one: Noodles! It would not be an exaggeration to say that Maggi Noodles occupy a special place in the heart of a lot of kids who grew up in urban India (certainly me!). Tee of Bhaatukli uses instant noodles in a very creative way when she tosses together fried noodles, sauteed vegetables and bean sprouts to make a tasty Noodle Bhel.

Then comes that important N quality that we are always seeking in our food...Nutritious! Aarti of Aarti's Corner gives us a recipe for sneaking in veggies and grains into our diet in a delicious way. She combines assorted flours, grated bottle gourd and a selection of spices, and then rolls our some piping hot Nutritious Doodhi Parathas.

And now, for the first time in this series, N destinations! So, let's pack our bags and hop on a plane to Southern India.

Our first stop is Nagapattinam, a small and picturesque district in Tamil Nadu with a beautiful coastline. Read about it here. Swapna of Swad uses an authentic Tamil cookbook to make some Nagapatinam Patani, a simple yet delicious stir-fry of green peas.

Ayesha of Experimenting on Taste Buds then takes us further on our N journey, going from the sandy coast to the lush and imposing Nilgiri hills. Ayesha gives us a taste of the cuisine from this region with two festive recipes for Nilgiri Korma and Nilgiri Curry.

The final entry of the round-up is probably the most unexpected...where N stands for Nylon! What could a synthetic polymer have to do with food, you ask? I'm going to let Richa of As Dear As Salt explain that to you, as she tells us how to make an Nylon Khaman Dhokla Sandwich that is not only edible, but completely delicious.

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N is for Nargisi Kebab: Vegetables and Eggs

Forget the boxed mac-and-cheese, and the heat-and-eat soup. In my opinion, the greatest convenience food in my kitchen is that little cardboard box in the fridge, containing a dozen brown eggs! Now, one definitely does not *have* to eat eggs in order to have a nutritious and balanced diet, but for those of us who do choose to eat eggs, they provide an easy and inexpensive way to include quality protein in our diet. Eggs take up a lot of "culinary space", with hundreds of recipes and variations thereof. They can be boiled and fried, poached and coddled, and they certainly find their ways into sweet treats like cakes and custards.

In this series, I knew that I wanted to show-case eggs in one of the posts, and today, eggs form a pair with potatoes in some Nargisi Kebabs. Now, a kebab is a kebab, but who is Nargis? Well, it is a woman's name, and perhaps the most famous "Nargis" in the world is this beautiful actress. So, in the tradition of Caesar Salad, Fettucini Alfredo and the Elvis Sandwich, this is a food named after a person. I found a recipe for Nargisi Kebab in an old tattered cookbook, and it consisted of hard-boiled eggs wrapped in some spiced minced meat. Well, here I am using my "culinary license" and making up a recipe for something that I will insist on calling Nargisi kebab.

In this recipe, hard-boiled eggs are halved, and the halves are swaddled with a fresh green chutney in a soft potato dough, then dipped in an egg wash and fried to a golden-brown. Want to learn how to make the perfect hard-boiled eggs? See these helpful primers by Kalyn, Alanna and Cate. Want some tips on choosing eggs in the supermarket? See this post.

Nargisi Kebab


Nkebab
(P.S.: This is the first picture on the blog taken with my brand new camera...a thoughtful birthday gift from V last week. I'm looking forward to figuring out the features on this new toy (which is quite a bit fancier than the 6-yr-old point and shoot that I have been using all along). What can I say, I am a lucky, lucky girl! Er, and this recipe makes 8 BIG kebabs.)

1. Make the potato dough: Boil 5 medium potatoes until tender, then peel and mash the potatoes with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste and salt to taste. Knead the mixture into a lump-free dough and set aside.
2. Boil eggs: Make 4 hard-boiled eggs. Cut them into halves lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Make the chutney: Grind together 1 packed cup cilantro, 1 tsp dried mint (can use fresh), 2 fresh green chilies, 2 tbsp onions, pinch of sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice and salt to taste, all into a thick green chutney. I like adding one tablespoon of nuts or beans while grinding to help get a smooth consistency without too much water (this time I added some canned cannelini beans because I had some on hand). You want to avoid a watery chutney here since it needs to be filled into the kebabs.
4. Assemble and Cook: Divide the dough into eight equal portions. To make a kebab: take one portion of dough and divide it in two. Pat each half down in the palm of your hand. Place 1 tsp chutney in one flat half, place the egg half on it, then cover with the other portion of the flat dough and seal the seams to make a kebab. If some filling leaks out, don't worry about it. This part is a little tricky and may need some patience and a bit of experience to get it right. Beat an egg into a shallow bowl. Dip each kebab in the beaten egg, then shallow-fry, turning until it is golden-brown on all sides. Serve with any chutney that is left over, or even with a dollop of ketchup.

How do you serve this dish?
1. Cut into neat quarters and serve as an appetizer. The kebabs can be assembled several hours ahead of time and refrigerated. At the last minute, just dip them in egg and fry them.
2. Serve a couple of kebabs as a light lunch.
3. Stuff inside a roll for an unusual sandwich.
4. Pack into lunch boxes and picnic hampers.

Variations on a theme
Use your favorite chutney recipe in this kebab. You could even use a pesto- like the traditional basil pesto, or a sun-dried tomato pesto.

Fellow bloggers have come up with many savory recipes combining vegetables and eggs. Here are some of my favorite finds:

Two breakfast dishes...
Poro: Parsi Omelet from Saffron Trail,
Eggs with Vegetable Medley from A Mad Tea Party,

Two egg curries with vegetables...
Ridge Gourd and Egg Curry from Tastes From My Kitchen,
Capsicum Egg Curry from Sunita's World,

A potpourri of creations...
Paratha Frittata from Mahanandi,
Scrambled Egg in Coriander Curry from Aayi's Recipes,
Egg Thoran with Tomatillo from My Treasure...My Pleasure.

Previously on the A to Z of Indian Vegetables...
A is for Aloo Gobi: North-Indian Stir-Fry
B is for Bharli Mirchi: Stuffed Vegetables
C is for Carrot-Cashew Payasam: Desserts
D is for Dum ki Arbi: Dum Style of Cooking
E is for Egg-Fried Rice: Rice and Vegetables
F is for Foogath: South-Indian Stir-Fry
G is for Gobi Paratha: Vegetables in Breads
H is for Hariyali Tikki: Vegetables in Appetizers
I is for Idli with Vegetables: Vegetables for Breakfast
J is for Jalfrezi Vegetables: Restaurant Style
K is for Kati Roll: Vegetables and Paneer
L is for Lasuni Dal Palak: Vegetables and Lentils
M is for Malai Kofta: Dumplings

Thursday, March 22, 2007

WBB: The Eggstraordinary Giant Cauliflower Puff

This is my entry for the monthly Weekend Breakfast Blogging, an event show-casing what is certainly my favorite meal of the day. WBB is a brainchild of Nandita from Saffron Trail. This month, WBB is being hosted by Sigma of Live To Eat, and the theme is: EGGS!

A very interesting and illuminating book that I recently read is called What To Eat, written by the much-admired nutritionist Marion Nestle.

To my intense disappointment, I have chosen to live in times (and especially, in a country) where there are food wars being waged all the time! It takes a great deal of effort to shut out the blaring (and often misleading) food advertisements, heated discussions over every nutrient present in food, and the realization that the vast majority of food is produced in factories and not on farms. Reading Marion Nestle's book made me calm down a little. In a sea of food-related hysteria, she is the voice of reason, making her conclusions in an evidence-based manner, guided by unbiased research. What Nestle does is: she walks the reader through the entire supermarket- the dairy aisles, meat section, produce, breads, every aisle that one is likely to visit on the weekly trip to the store- and delves into the issues surrounding each product, coming up with her well-researched conclusion on each issue. If you want to be an informed consumer in the US, this book is a must-read. Her style is engaging and accessible, gently humorous, and lucid, even when she is discussing fairly technical issues. I was surprised at how much I learned.

Today, we are on the subject of eggs for breakfast. Have you ever been faced with a wall of egg cartons where no two look the same? Have you ever screamed in frustration at having to do a sophisticated cost-benefit analysis just to buy a dozen eggs? To give an example of Nestle's work, here are some conclusions that I could make after reading the chapter on eggs:
1. COLOR: The color of egg shells- white and brown- is simply different for different breeds of hens. It has no bearing on the nutritional value whatsoever.
2. SIZE: Extra-large eggs have more nutrients (but also more calories) than large eggs. Large eggs are a more reasonable portion size. The majority of recipes that use eggs call for large eggs, and not extra-large, so for those two reasons, I will be buying large eggs.
3. CHOLESTEROL: All the cholesterol in the eggs is in the egg yolks. Because the yolk is very high in cholesterol, it makes sense for adults to not eat more than one whole egg a day. Even one egg a day is too much if you are consuming cholesterol in fairly large amounts from other sources like meat and dairy. In my home, I make egg dishes twice a week, using 3-4 eggs each time, so V and I each consume about 3-4 eggs a week each. Good enough.
4. SALMONELLA: Egg producers know the safety features that need to be incorporated in order to control the probability of salmonella contamination, but they don't really want to take the trouble or spend the money to do so. They would rather slap on a label that warns us to cook eggs thoroughly, and leave the responsibility to the consumers.
5. DESIGNER EGGS: Eggs that claim to have high amounts of Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids etc. The higher amounts are achieved through the feed- for instance, hens are fed with flaxseeds to get their eggs to contain higher amounts of Omega-3s. For this feature, the price of the eggs is hiked up by 2-3 fold. You may as well eat regular eggs, and eat flaxseeds (or other sources) for the Omega-3s.
6. HUMANE TREATMENT OF HENS: Cartons of eggs often come with various statements saying how the hens were fed and raised. According to Nestle's thorough research, this is what the labels mean:
a) USDA Certified Organic: This is the most reliable seal. It means that hens are only fed organic, vegetarian feed, plus they are raised in sufficient space without over-crowding.
b) Certified Humane: It is a reliable certification for how hens are raised and handled, but they are a little less restrictive about the kind of feed that the hens are given.
c) United Egg Producers Certified: One should be very skeptical about this certification. For all intents and purposes, it is a misleading marketing gimmick.

OK, I'm getting hungry. Let's make some breakfast! Today's recipe comes from a bona fide breakfast cook-book: The Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen.

The book was given to me as a gift by V's brother, and I do love having it on my bookshelf. I can't say I make too many recipes from the book, but it is a great resource for ideas and inspiration. And the name Sunlight Cafe does conjure up images of a leisurely brunch in a sunny cafe with fresh flowers on the table and the sizzle of a waffle iron in the background. I like Mollie Katzen's whimsical illustrations and the playful names she often gives to her recipes: this one, the giant cauliflower-cheese puff, sounds like it came straight out of a Roald Dahl story. The dish is simple enough to make: a filling of cauliflower florets is doused with an eggy-cheesy batter and baked until golden and puffy.

Giant Cauliflower Puff


Slice
(serves 3-4, adapted from Mollie Katzen's The Sunlight Cafe)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with baking spray, then coat with a thin film of melted butter (by placing a small pat of butter in the dish, placing it in the pre-heating oven for a couple of minutes to melt it, then tilting the pan to spread the melted butter evenly).
2. Make the filling: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet, then saute 1 medium chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, minced. Add 3 cups cauliflower florets (about half a medium head of cauliflower) and saute for 5-8 minutes until the cauliflower is just starting to brown and become tender (it does not need to cook completely as it will be baked again). Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the cheese in the batter will be quite salty. Stir in 3-4 tbsp minced parsley. Add the filling into the prepared baking dish
3. Make the batter: In a large bowl, combine 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup milk (I used low-fat), 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cheese (I used a combination of shredded Monterey Jack and Brie torn into small pieces). Use a hand blender or regular blender to mix everything into a smooth batter. Pour the batter over the cauliflower in the baking dish. Set the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills while baking, like so:
PuffBefore
4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Test with a skewer or knife to make sure that the puff is cooked all through.
PuffAfter
5. Cut into wedges or squares and serve!

The verdict: We enjoyed the giant cauliflower puff immensely! It tastes like a delicious souffle without the fuss. Anyone who likes eggs and savory foods for breakfast will enjoy this. It is wonderful to start the day with a healthy serving of vegetables. Two notes:
1. The recipe is highly flexible: you can use any other vegetables (broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus is suggested by Katzen) or any combination of vegetables. You can use any cheese (or combination of cheeses) that you like, and any herbs.
2. This is a great brunch dish for a crowd. Make the filling ahead of time. Preparing the batter takes only minutes, and it can bake in the oven unattended.
3. Next time, I would choose a shallow baking dish. Using the Pyrex bowl that I did, the puff took too long to bake and as you can see, the edges started to brown too much before the middle was fully cooked. Using a shallow dish would help the puff to cook more evenly.

Some other recipes from The Sunlight Cafe that I found on other blogs/ websites, for those who have a sweet tooth...
Chocolate Babka,
Chocolate Ricotta Muffins (from our very own Mika!),
Chai Oatmeal,
and a trio of recipes: Smoothie, Fruit Salad and Pumpkin Muffins

Like eggs for breakfast? Here are my three favorite recipes:
Egg Onion Float
Indian Railways Omelet Sandwich
Pateta Par Eeda

Sunday, February 25, 2007

E is for Egg-Fried Rice

The myriad cuisines of India all love their vegetables! Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried into hundreds of vegetable dishes. In this series, the A to Z of Indian Vegetables, we take an alphabetical journey through the various avatars of vegetables relished in Indian cuisine. For each letter, we will make a tasty vegetable dish that illustrates one manner in which vegetables are savored in India.

The "E" of Indian Vegetables

The letter E inspired 11 exotic Indian flavors!

To start off, one E vegetable and seven preparations, all showcasing the beloved eggplant, that purple beauty of a vegetable, cooked and relished in a hundred different ways in India.

First up, eggplant chutney, a spicy combination of eggplant, tomato and onion to be devoured with idli and dosa, shared by Priya of Aahaar. See the recipe here.

Next, eggplants-stuffed, a cherished family recipe for baby eggplants stuffed with nutty and mild daliya powder, contributed by Suma of Veggie Platter. See the recipe here.

Then, two eggplant recipes by Pinki of Come Cook With Me, the traditional Bengali begun bhaja or eggplant fritters fried to a crisp, and a lovely stuffed eggplant dish.

Next comes a mouth-watering eggplant in coconut gravy, a curry made with the sweet long Japanese eggplants by a *huge* eggplant fan (see her post for proof), Pavani of Cook's Hideout. See the recipe here.

Bilbo from Smorgasbord comes up with a quick and easy guide to eggplant stuffed to the gills! Click here for the recipe.

Finally, the ever-creative Linda of Out Of The Garden sings well-deserved praises of the "incredible edible eggplant", along with links to her favorite eggplant recipes, and creates a one-of-a-kind recipe for eggplant with jackfruit seed gravy! It looks amazing, and you can find the recipe here.

E also represents a traditional Kerala curry, erissheri, also spelled as erissery! We are lucky enough to have two versions of this regional festival dish in the round-up.

First up, Bee of Jugalbandi relates an engaging account of the beautiful harvest festival of Onam and presents a delectable family recipe for erissheri: a combination of golden pumpkin, coconut and spices. See the post here.

Next, Asha of Aroma Hope made an unusual and delicious version of erissery using cauliflower instead of the more traditional root vegetables and gourds. See this version here.

Finally, as every kindergartener knows, E stands for egg! While not a vegetable, the "incredible edible" egg is used in combination with vegetables in many Indian dishes.

First up, spicy egg pakodas, a hearty snack by Swapna of Swad. See the recipe here.

And finally, I combined eggs with loads of vegetables and some left-over rice to make egg-fried rice.

E is for Egg-Fried Rice: Rice and Vegetables

A typical vegetarian meal in an Indian home is likely to contain three components: a carbohydrate (rice or rotis or both), a protein (usually in the form of dal) and a tasty vegetable dish. Indian cuisines have come up with many innovative ways to mix and match these components into an array of dishes; for instance...
rice + vegetable = pulao
rice + dal + (vegetable) = khichdi
roti + vegetable = stuffed paratha
dal + vegetable = sambar...
to name just a few combinations that are possible!

My friend Laureen has a sign on her desk that says...

"Quick. Good. Cheap. Choose Two"

How very true for most of life's situations! But rice-and-vegetables dishes such as pulaos and khichdis and fried rice are quick and cheap and very very good. In my eyes (those of a home cook who is always looking for quick, economical and nutritious dishes), the combination of rice and vegetables is a life-saver on busy weeknights.

For the vegetable-and-rice segment, I chose an unlikely candidate, egg-fried rice, from the hundreds of dishes possible, for three reasons:
1. I love eggs, and the combination of rice and eggs is something I have enjoyed ever since I was a kid.
2. I wanted to give a nod to Indian-Chinese fusion cuisine at some point in this series. It is such a beloved cuisine in India now (even in really tiny towns!) and it would be a shame not to acknowledge that.
3. This is a great dish to use up leftover rice and the odds and ends from the vegetable crisper for an economical meal.

Egg Fried Rice


EggFriedRice
(serves 3-4)
Main ingredients:
3 cups cooked rice (from 1 cup raw rice)
3 eggs
3 cups mixed vegetables, sliced fine (I used snow peas, mushrooms and carrots, but the other veggies that work well in this dish are peppers, cabbage, bean sprouts, peas etc.)
3-4 scallions, green and white parts sliced separately
1 tsp ginger-garlic sauce
Low-sodium soy sauce
Hot sauce (I use sriracha red chili-vinegar sauce)
Toasted sesame oil
Method:
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir in the white parts of scallions and ginger-garlic paste until fragrant.
2. Add the mixed vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes.
3. Add soy sauce, sriracha sauce and fresh ground pepper (all to taste). The soy sauce is salty enough that extra salt is not generally required.
4. Stir in the rice and fry until steaming hot.
5. Add a few drops of toasted sesame oil and the green parts of scallions.
6. Whisk the eggs with some salt and pepper. Make omelets with the egg and cut them into thin strips. Mix half the strips into the rice and use the other half as garnish. Serve the rice hot!

Variations on a theme
1. Use noodles or brown rice instead of the white rice.
2. For a vegan version, simply leave out the egg or use some mock-chicken strips instead for a protein boost.

Delicious vegetable-rice dishes from fellow bloggers:
Three combinations of pulaos (rice and veggies)...
Peas Pulao from Hooked on Heat,
Vaangi Bhaat or eggplant rice from Masala Magic,
Carrot Rice from Food-In The Main
Two one-dish-meal khichdis (rice and dal and veggies)...
Bisi Bele Huli Anna from Luv Bites
Vegetable Pongal from Mahanandi

Previously on the A to Z of Indian Vegetables...
A is for Aloo Gobi: North-Indian Stir-Fry
B is for Bharli Mirchi: Stuffed Vegetables
C is for Carrot-Cashew Payasam: Desserts
D is for Dum ki Arbi: The "Dum" Method of Cooking

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Egg Pilaf

This is my entry to the Feed-A-Hungry-Child-Campaign, a group book idea by VKN of My Dhaba.

Egg Pilaf is one of my favorite comfort foods. And for a comfort food, it is prepared very easily and quickly! A blend of lightly spiced basmati rice and chunks of hard-boiled eggs, egg pilaf is a nutritious one-dish meal. Tossing in some nuts and raisins elevates it to a festive dish that makes ordinary weeknights special. The beauty of egg pilaf is that all the ingredients are pantry staples, so it can be put together even at times when grocery shopping is way overdue.

You can use any type of garam masala for this dish, whether home-made or store-bought, but my own favorite is my Mom's blend that is so aromatic that I call it Magic Masala. You simply take equal parts of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, say, 1/4 cup each cardamom seeds and cloves, and 1 big cinnamom stick, toast them together on low heat to coax out the flavors, and then dry-grind the spices together in a spice blender to a fine powder. I store the powder in a little airtight jar in the freezer and it tastes fresh for a long time.




Egg Pilaf


Egg Pilaf

(serves 3-4 as a main dish)
Ingredients
4 large Eggs
1 cup Basmati or other long-grained rice
1 large Onion
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Ginger-garlic paste (or minced ginger and garlic)
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Red chili powder (cayenne pepper)
1 tsp Garam masala
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Cashewnut pieces
2 tbsp Golden raisins
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp minced cilantro (optional, for garnish)
2 tbsp minced green parts of scallions (optional, for garnish)

Method
1. Hard-boil the eggs: Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, then simmer for 12 minutes. Drain the hot water, then rinse the eggs in cold water. Peel the eggs when they are cool enough to handle and set aside.
2. Cut the onion into half from root to tip, then cut each half into thin slices.
3. Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a pot to heat.
4. Heat oil in a large pot, and stir in the cumin seeds. Add sliced onion and fry first on medium-high heat for the edges of the onion to brown, and then on medium-low heat till the onions are very soft and caramelized. Browning the onions gives them a rich, deep flavor, so don't skip this step.
5. Now add the ginger-garlic, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, salt and fry for about a minute or so. Stir in the cashews and raisins, then add the rice and hot water.
6. Cover the pot and simmer until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender (test a grain with your finger).
7. Let the rice rest for 15 minutes, so that the water is completely absorbed. Then fluff the rice with a fork, and toss with slices of boiled eggs. Garnish with cilantro and scallions.

Notes:
1. If you are watching your cholesterol intake, remove and discard the egg yolks and use only sliced egg whites.
2. Egg pilaf pairs well with yogurt raita (salad).