Apr 9, 2012

A Quick Dinner - Spicy Salmon

I was feeling a little lazy and tired the other day. I had had a long day and to make matters worse had skipped lunch. So when it came time for dinner, I needed something satisfying but quick and easy to make.

I settled on grilled salmon, sautéed spinach and oven roasted potato. It's delicious, healthy and can be easily made in less than 30 mins - what's not to like!

Recipe (serves 2)
2 Salmon fillets
1 tbsp spice mixture prepared before hand
(Take equal parts of whole cumin, coriander and cloves and dry roast them together. After it cools down grind them using a coffee grinder. If you store in a air tight container it can last up to 6 months).
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp tamarind paste
(If you don't have tamarind paste use 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon zest)

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Make the rub by mixing the spice mixture with the rest of the ingredients. Rub the spice on both sides of salmon. Heat the grill (stove top or indoor grill) and put the salmon skin side down on the grill once it's hot. Flip the salmon after 3-4 minutes and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes. Quick, isn't it?

Cut the potatoes into small cubes and put them in a roasting pan with some onions, cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves. Dress the vegetables with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast in a 450 F preheated oven for about half an hour or till the potatoes go soft. While the potatoes are being roasted sauté the baby spinach with crushed garlic and some chili flakes. Add olive oil to finish it up.

Serve the salmon with sauteed spinach and roasted potatoes.

 Bon appetite!

Jan 8, 2012

Breakfast In Rome - Savory French Toast with Tomato Sauce

Last September we visited Rome - the magical city of magnificent piazzas and mouthwatering trattorias. It was the first leg of a two week trip to Italy which also took us to Tuscany and Venice. Rome is full of history, every building, every stone has some story behind it. We soaked in as much history we could through our guided tours. But the high point of my stay in Rome was the little farmers market below our rented apartment in Pigneto.

I am absolutely crazy about farmers markets. I always feel like I have to go there, no matter which city we are in - NY, London, Paris or Rome. I love to get inspired by the fresh, lovely ingredients these local stalls have to offer and let my imagination run wild to create something flavorful to do justice to these beautiful ingredients. So as you can see in my mind the biggest attraction in Rome was the market below our apartment.

I didn't have much time to visit the farmers market everyday, as we were busy with history and cultural tours. On the last day of our stay, I visited the market. Brunch in mind - I bought bread, eggs and fresh mozzarella cheese. Though it was not in my plans the produce was so fresh and smelt so good that I couldn't resist buying basil, fresh cherry tomato, zucchini and white button mushrooms.

Now I had to decide how to incorporate these additional ingredients into brunch. We were leaving Rome that evening - so all of it had to go! With the mozzarella, bread and eggs I was planning to make cheese stuffed french toast. With the rest I decided to make a tomato sauce with garlic, basil and vegetables. It could go on the toast where the tangy tomato sauce would cut some of the richness of the cheese stuffed french toast.

Glad to report that the experiment succeeded :) We devoured the brunch and suitably fueled set out to wander the streets of Rome for one last time. 

Recipe (serves 2)

4 slices of bread
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 sun-dried tomato
250 gm cherry tomato
1 zucchini
4 large button mushroom
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 bunch of basil leaves
Olive oil

Heat a non-stick pan and put olive oil when the pan is hot. Mix the eggs and milk in a wide bowl, add salt and pepper to the mixture. Take two slices of bread, put cheese and sun-dried tomato on it. Put the remaining two slices of bread on the top. Then take the sandwich and dip it in the egg mixture and put it on the pan. Lower the heat, so that the egg cooks slowly and the cheese inside melts and makes the toast all gooey. When one side of the toast is done flip it carefully and let the other side cook for a couple of minutes.

In the mean time, cut the vegetables in the same size as of the cherry tomato. Put oil in a pan, wait till it gets hot, put garlic and cook it till it gets fragrant. Add all the vegetables except tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables for a few minutes till it gets soft. Then add tomatoes and cook it till it has a sauce like consistency. This should take a few minutes. Finish it off by adding basil to the sauce.

Finally, cut the toast in half and serve the toast with the sauce!

Sep 11, 2010

Yogurt, Fruit and Nut Tart - Fancy Srikhand

After a period of silence Gourmet Lab returns with a 'easy on your love-handles' dessert which has all the comforting flavours of a breakfast. The title of this post sounds like a healthy breakfast, doesn't it?

I took a scrumptious classic Indian dessert 'Srikhand' and made a fancy and a eye-catching dessert. After all we all eat with our eyes first, don't we?  Srikhand is basically a thick yogurt sweetened with sugar, favoured with saffron and cardamom. For little more richness and texture pistachio and almond are added to the sweetened yogurt.

I kept almost all the flavours of Srikhand intact and added few more ingredients to complement the existing flavours.

Yogurt, Fruit And Nut Tart - Fancy Srikhand

There are 3 components of the tart - tart shell, yogurt filling and the fruit topping.

Tart Shell
1 cup of whole wheat almond cracker crumbs (If you can't find almond cracker, use gram cracker instead)
1/2 cup almond flour
5 TBS unsalted brown butter
I didn't use any sugar, because crackers were pretty sweet. If you are using gram cracker, you can add 1/4 cup sugar or according to your taste.

To make the brown butter, heat the butter in a pan on medium heat till the milk solid in the butter turns light brown. At this point butter should have a nutty aroma. Don't over cook the butter, or the milk solid will be burnt. 

To make the cracker crumb, put the cracker in a food processor and pulse it till you have a fine crumb.

Mix all the ingredients and press the crumb in a pie or tart pan. Use the bottom of a bowl to press and smooth out the crumb in the pan. Bake the tart shell in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes or till the crust gets brown.

Yogurt filling
4 cup thick Greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup chopped pistachio
1 teaspoon cardamom
Saffron strands soaked in warm milk

Put the yogurt on cheese cloth and hang it over night to take the excess water off the yogurt.  Add rest of the ingredients to the yogurt in a bowl and mix them well using a rubber spatula.

Fruit Topping
1 cup raspberry
1 cup diced mango
1 TBS honey
1 TBS lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Mix all the ingredients in bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes till all the flavours mix well with each other.

To finally assemble the tart, take the baked shell and add the yogurt filling in the centre and smooth it out starting from centre toward the edges of the shell using a rubber spatula. Add the macerated fruit to decorate the tart.

Jun 13, 2010

Mixed Berry and Ricotta Tart

It has been a while since I posted anything. With the move from New York to London, I have hardly cooked for the past few days. My temporary kitchen still lacks basic things to make any meal. But the food in London has been wonderful so far. The portions are small compared to USA but taste wise I am not missing much. There are lot of restaurants of various cuisines from all over the world. But the food is little pricey here even by Manhattan standards.

Bakeries, pastry shops and cafes are in abundance around central London which we have been exploring over the weekend. They have lots of French desserts - they all look yummy! Inspired by the dessert shops around here, I thought of posting the recipe for a fruit tart I made when I was in New York.

Mixed Berry and Ricotta Tart

Ingredients for tart dough
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1/8th teaspoon salt
1 egg mixed with little cold water

Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.

It's very easy to make tart dough. The flour to butter ratio is 2:1. The only important thing to keep in mind is that the butter should be really cold. That helps to keep the tart flaky.

In a bowl mix flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour with a fork and mix it well. The flour and butter mixture should end up with a sandy texture. Add the egg to the mixture. Bring the flour together to make a dough ball. Don't over knead the dough, otherwise it will make the tart tough. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you have extra dough then at this point you can freeze it. It freezes really well up to a month.

If you want you can use food processor to make the dough. Food processor makes the task easier and less messy.

Roll out the chilled dough into a 1/8 inch thick round sheet on a floured surface. It should be larger than the tart mould. Carefully transfer the sheet to the tart mould. Trim the excess dough off the tart mould by rolling the rolling pin across the mould rim. Chill it for 30 more minutes. The idea is to keep the butter solid. So when heat hits the dough, butter melts and creates air pockets which keep the tart flaky.

This dough can make a 8 inch tart. But I made a 6 inch tart and froze rest of the dough. Once you have the tart dough handy you can whip up any sweet and savory tart within no time.

First partially bake the dough without any filling. Line the dough with parchment paper and add pie-weight or dried bean on the parchment paper and bake it for 10 minutes. The weights ensure that the dough doesn't puff up. Then remove the pie-weight and bake the tart dough for another 5-6 minutes till it starts looking a little brown.

Tart filling
4 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
Zest of one orange
Fruits (Berries, mango or whichever fruit you like)

Mix all the above ingredients except the fruit well.

Fill the half baked tart shell with the filling and bake it for another 20 minutes or till the filling settles.

Take the tart out of the mould and let it cool completely, ideally on a cooling rack. Fill the tart shell with your favourite fruits. I used raspberry, blueberry, mango strips and blackberry sauce (blackberry and sugar ground together and passed though a sieve to discard the seed).

May 28, 2010

Lettuce Cups

Get ready for something wonderful and flavorful. It is like a party in the mouth. It arouses all your taste-buds -  a combination of salty, sweet, crunchy, cool and warm. Yeah, it is the lettuce cup with pan fried breaded fish and mango-avocado salsa. What is not to like there. Got to try it to believe it!

Lettuce cup with fish and salsa

I made 20 lettuce cups. I wanted to make it bite sized, but it turned out to be really big bites - we ended up using fork to eat them :)  You can make it actual bite size and you will probably end up with 40 cups using this recipe.

Ingredients for pan fried fish

2 white fish fillets ( Cod, Bass, Tilapia or Catfish will work. I used Tilapia.)
1 cup all purpose flour
Salt, Pepper
Cayenne powder
1/2 cup yogurt
Breadcrumbs (I used store bought Italian seasoned bread crumb. You can make yours)
Olive oil
Sage leaves chopped

Heat a pan on a medium high flame. Add couple of TBS of olive oil to the pan.

Pat dry the fish using a paper towel. Cut the fish fillet into bite size cubes and season the cubes with salt, pepper and cayenne.
Set up the breading station by following the steps below.
In a bowl beat the yogurt and season it with salt, pepper and cayenne.
In a wide baking dish or a plate take 2 TBS of flour and season it with salt, pepper and cayenne.
Put the bread crumbs in a plate or wide baking dish.

To bread the fish - add all the fish cubes in the yogurt mixture. Let it hang out there for couple of minutes. After few minutes,  take the fish out of the yogurt mixture and dredge the fish cube in flour.  Shake off the excess flour. After that, coat the fish with yogurt again. Then coat the fish with bread crumbs. Shake off the excess bread crumb.

Pan fry the fish, on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or till it gets golden brown on each side.  Season the fried fish with salt, pepper, cayenne and chopped sage. Season them when they are still hot. It helps the seasonings to stick to the fish. Every time add 3 to 4 fishes to the pan. Repeat this process till you finish frying all the fish cubes.

Ingredients for Avocado-Mango Slasa

Olive oil
1 corn
1 mango
1 avocado
1/2 cup red onion
2 TBS lime juice
Salt, Pepper
Cayenne powder
Cumin powder
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Take the husk off the corn, rub it with little olive oil, slat, pepper and cayenne. Roast it over the gas burner. Let it cool for a couple of minutes and then take the corn kernel off the cob by using a knife. Chop the mango and avocado into small cubes. Combine roasted corn, mango, avocado and diced onions in a bowl and toss them with salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin powder, lime juice and olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro to the salsa. Keep aside.

Ingredients for Roasted Tomato and Chipotle salsa

1 roasted plum tomato
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilanto
1 clove garlic
Olive oil
salt, pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor till you get a smooth salsa.

Ingredients for Lettuce cups
1 iceberg lettuce head
Pan fried fish cubes
Avocado-mango salsa
Roasted tomato-chipotle salsa

Carefully separate the lettuce leaves.  Then tear them into small cups - large enough to hold the fish cubes.  On each cup add a fish cube, 1 full spoon of avocado-mango salsa and a little drizzle of roasted tomato-chipotle salsa. Here is the party I was telling you about! You can use room temperature or slightly warm fish for this. I think it tastes good either way.
You can use this pan fried fish and roasted tomato-chipotle slasa for dinner as well. I served red cabbage salad and some arugula leaves with the fish. I used a very simple light dressing (olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, little honey) for the reg cabbage salad.

May 23, 2010

Walnuts and Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I don't like sugar in my coffee, but I like to dip something little sweet and little firm - something like biscotti, the double baked cookies. I fell in love with them while watching a cooking show on television. The slender and sexy look did the trick for me. Then when I ate them for the first time it was like heaven in my mouth. After finishing my Masters, when I was looking for a job, I made a batch of biscotti and they accompanied my morning and evening coffee everyday during my job search process. Luckily I found the job soon, otherwise I would have needed to go on the serious dieting schedule.  I just can't resist these baked goodness.

Walnuts and Chocolate Chip Biscotti Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of orange zest
1 tsp of coarsely ground fennel seed
1 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnut

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

Cream the butter and sugar using a wooden spoon or a electric mixer. Add one egg at a time to the mixture. Add orange zest to the mixture. Keep aside this wet ingredient mixture.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and fennel seed together in a bowl. Then incorporate the dry ingredient slowly into the wet ingredient mixture. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts in the mixture. At this point the batter should feel like a soft dough.

Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper. Make two (2 inch thick and 5 inch long) logs out of the dough and put them on the parchment paper. Bake them for 35 minutes in the preheated oven.
Take them out of the oven and then cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degree F.Then cut those logs at an angle using serrated knife. If you try to cut the logs when they are still hot, you won't get a clean cut of the biscotti. Since the dough is still soft, it will break while cutting.
Bake the biscottis for 20-25 minutes or till they get golden brown in a 300 degree oven. Transfer the biscottis to a cooling rack and hold them there till they have completely cooled down.

May 17, 2010

Tortilla Espanola - Snack and Sandwich

Tortilla Espanola is a thick omelet with potato and onions. It can be served hot or at room temperature. It tastes good irrespective of the temperature, it is very versatile. I made this for a dinner party I had a couple of weeks back. I served it as an appetizer on a slice of baguette at room temperature.  I also used it for my open faced sandwich and this time served it warm. Both ways it was delicious.

To make Tortilla Espanola, instead of frying potato and onion, I pan fried the vegetables. I made sauce out of pumpkin seed, cilantro and parsley to pair with the tortilla espanola wedges.

Tortilla Espanola - Snack and Sandwich Recipe

Tortilla Espanola
1 big  russet potato
1/2 of a white onion ( about 1 cup)
1/2 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup sweet peas
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cayenne 
chopped parsley
6 eggs

Peel the potatoes and cut it into small cubes. Do a rough chop on the onion. Then add oil to a pan, when oil gets medium hot add potato,onion, salt and pepper to it. Stir fry it till the potato gets soft. Add frozen sweet peas. Stir it till it takes chill off from the frozen peas. Then add cumin powder and parsley to the potato and onion mixture. Let the mixture cool down, otherwise it will scramble the eggs when you add it to the egg mixture.

Lightly beat the 6 eggs in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne to the egg mixture.  Combine the eggs and potato-onion mixture.

Add oil to a non-stick skillet. When the oil gets moderately hot, add the egg mixture. Cover it with a lid and turn the stove to medium-low heat. Let it sit for few minutes till the edge starts to settle. Then flip the omelet using a fish spatula. Fish spatula really helps in keeping the omelet intact. If  the omelet breaks a little that is not a big deal! Then after flipping the omelet cover it with a lid and cook it on a low flame for five more minutes till the omelet gets floppy and eggs cook through. By that time the omelet will have a nice brown color on it too.

Pumpkin seed green sauce 
1 cup of toasted pumpkin seed
1 cup of fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 tsp chopped jalapeno
1 garlic clove
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup home made chicken stock or water

Combine all the ingredients except oil and chicken stock in the food processor. Process until the mixture gets smooth. While the food processor is running, add in the olive oil. You can thin out the sauce using water. I had home made chicken stock at hand, so for more flavor I used it to thin out the sauce.

Tortilla Espanola wedge on baguette

Cut the baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Put a small tortilla espanola wedge on the baguette slice and top it with the pumpkin seed green sauce

Tortilla Espanola sandwich

Take a whole grain bread slice, spread the pumpkin seed green sauce on it. Add a large warm tortilla espanola wedge and arugula on the bread slice. This makes a really good, tasty sandwich.