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.

May 7, 2010

Non-traditional English Trifle

We had some friends over for dinner last weekend. For dessert I made a non-traditional English trifle.  Instead  of lady-fingers, I used home-made lemon yogurt cake - which was very light and it didn't have butter for a change :)  I layered cake and mango-yogurt sauce and topped it with chopped mango and black berry sauce.

Someone in my house thought that the pattern I made on the dessert looked like Chinese armor and named it a 'Ming Mango Cake'. I won't mention the name of that person - who couldn't stop laughing for at least half an hour.

The yogurt cake had cardamom and saffron in it. I had some Swedish cardamom rolls couple of weeks back which was made by a student in my class. The cardamom flavor in the roll was enticing as well as surprising. In many Indian desserts cardamon is used as a flavoring agent, but I had never had cardamom in a baked good before. Since the non-traditional English trifle is English with Indian flavor, I used cardamom and saffron instead of vanilla. Actually, I used saffron because I have always liked the 'kesar pista'  flavored Indian ice cream. Kesar is the Indian name of saffron and pista is pistachio - which I have used in the mango-yogurt sauce.

The mango sauce is inspired by lassi - mango-yogurt based Indian drink. The black berry sauce added one more level of complex tanginess to the dessert along with piquant taste from mango-yogurt and sharpness from the lemon-yogurt cake.

Non-traditional English Trifle Recipe

Lemon-yogurt cake
11/2 cup flour
11/2  tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1  tsp cardamom powder
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
Few saffron strands
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degree.

Stir all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl combine yogurt, sugar, eggs and mix them well. Add oil to the wet mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients and mix them well. Add lemon zest and cardamom to the batter. Soak a few saffron strands in a little bit of warm water and add it to the batter. The warm water helps to bring out the flavor and color in saffron. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. I used a disposable 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 1/2 inch loaf pan. Pour the batter in the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or till a fork comes out clean of the center of the cake. After the cake is done, let it completely cool on a cooling rack.

Mango-Yogurt sauce
1 quart whole milk yogurt (try to use Greek yogurt which is much thicker)
1 30 oz canned mango pulp
1/2 cup chopped pistachio

If you are not using Greek yogurt then put the yogurt on a cheese cloth and squeeze out the water from the yogurt. Then add mango pulp and chopped pistachio to the yogurt. I added the entire can of mango pulp to the thick yogurt. Since the pulp is sweet it doesn't need any extra sugar. But if you don't like the strong mango flavor, you can go easy on mango pulp.

Blackberry sauce
12 oz black berry
1/2 cup simple syrup - which is made of 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar

Simple syrup - add sugar and water in a pan and bring it to a boil.

Let the sugar cool down a little and then blend the simple syrup and black berry together. Pass the sauce through a sieve to get rid of the seed.

Layering of the Trifle
1 lemon yogurt cake
Mango yogurt sauce
Blackberry sauce
1/2 cup freshly chopped mango

I used a pyrex 8-inch  baking dish to layer the trifle. Layer the bottom of the dish with slices of lemon cake, then add half of the mango-yogurt sauce and half of the freshly chopped mango. Add another layer of cake followed by rest of the mango-yogurt sauce. Then make the 'ming' pattern using the blackberry sauce :) Take a look at the picture - the black lines are the black berry sauce.  Then garnish the square made out of blackberry sauce with chopped mango. Let it chill in the fridge at least for a day. The longer you keep it, the better it tastes.

The two sauces are very versatile. You can make instant dessert if you have some left over sauce. Top any sweet cookie or wafer with a dollop of mango-yogurt sauce and a little blackberry sauce. It looks sensational and even tastes amazing.

I made this mini dessert by topping Nilla vanilla wafer with both of these sauces.

May 5, 2010

Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg salad sandwich is the perfect cold sandwich for lunch. But if you prepare it in advance it will be really soggy by lunch time. The other day, I made a egg salad sandwich for lunch and to avoid the sogginess I replaced mayo with baked potato which helped in binding the whole sandwich together without making it soggy. In addition to that I toasted the bread which also prevented the sandwich from getting mushy. I also added leek and chipotle and tomatillo chutney to give it a nice smokey, sweet and sour flavor.

Egg Salad Sandwich Recipe
2 slices of whole grain bread
1 hard boiled egg
1/2 of a yukon gold potato boiled
1 medium chopped leek
2 tsp of tomatilo, chipotle chutney (recipe follows)
Chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt and pepper

Ingredients for Tomatillo Chipotle chutney
2 tomatillo
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
Roasted cumin seed
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp honey

To make the chutney, roast the tomatillo in a 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or till it gets a nice char on it. Then add the roasted tomatillo, chipotle chili and garlic cloves to a food processor and chop it fine. You can leave it a little chunky or make a fine saucy chutney out of it. I made the smooth chutney for the sandwich. Then stir in salt, pepper, cumin powder, little drizzle of honey and chopped cilantro.

Clean and slice the leek and saute it in a medium hot pan till it gets little color.

Take the egg and cold water in a pan. The water should cover the egg. Bring it to a boil over medium flame. Then switch off the stove and cover the pan with a lid. After 12 minutes put the egg in ice cold water till it cools down. Peel off the shell and you will have the perfect hard boiled egg. Twelve minutes is not very exact, you can leave the eggs there for a few more minutes, the yolk color will still be bright yellow without any greenish ring around it.

In a bowl, mix half of a yukon gold potato, hard boiled egg, sauteed leek, chutney, salt and pepper. Mix them well with a fork, don't over-mix it.

Toast the bread using a hot pan on a stove top. Then to assemble the sandwich, put the mixture on the toasted bread and add another piece of bread on top of it.

Apr 20, 2010

Besan (Chickpea flour) crackers

Besan (chickpea flour) is the main ingredient in many Indian deep fried snacks. Like tempura batter, besan batter consists of  besan, water, baking soda, salt. Some flavoring spices, little bit of onion and green chilies can also be added to the batter. Then vegetables, chicken or fish are dipped into the batter and the mixture is deep fried. 

Though chickpea flour is very healthy by itself, the deep frying makes it  anything but healthy. The deep fried snacks are yummy though! So I always have besan in hand for those cool rainy days when you crave something hot.

Since I am moving to London in a couple of months, I am trying to use all my flour, grains and lentils before we make the move. So the other day it was the besan's turn and the challenge was to make something healthy and tasty out of it. I decided to make besan crackers with ajwain (carom seed). Ajwain has a strong bitter taste with a hint of freshness. It tastes somewhat similar to thyme and looks like celery seed.

To make the crackers, along with besan I used little semolina to give it some texture. I loved the crispiness of the crackers and the freshness from the ajwain. But it was a little heavy, one can't eat lot of them in one serving. It makes you feel very full after eating ten of them which might be a good thing. Snacks portions shouldn't be like full meals! But if you want to make it little lighter, instead of using besan flour only, you can do 3/4th besan and 1/4th all purpose flour.

Chick Pea Crackers Recipe

1 cup besan (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup semolina
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp backing powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry parsley
2 tsp ajwain
1 tsp cayenne
black pepper
1 TBS of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

Mix all the dry ingredients. Then add oil to the mixture and mix it well to give it a sand texture. Add a small amount of water to it and knead it like dough. Don't put too much water, but put enough to make a soft dough out of it.   Then let the dough sit on the kitchen counter for 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a wet paper towel. It will keep the dough from drying out.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Then put some besan flour on the surface and roll out the dough into a 1/8th inch thick circle. Then with a fork gently mark the circle which will give a nice look to the crackers. Then using a knife draw lines which are 1/2 inch apart from each other, from top to bottom and from left to right. It will result in small square crackers.

Then bake the crackers in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or till they get a little brown.

Apr 10, 2010

My Comfort Food - Chicken Curry

We may explore and experiment in our kitchen with food from different regions, but sometimes we crave for the comfort food that we ate while growing up and the food that our mom made for us for years. What spaghetti with tomato sauce is to an Italian, what a juicy burger is to an American, chicken curry is to me - its the ultimate Indian comfort food. But my version of chicken curry is a simpler version of what my mom used to make. Instead of making ginger/garlic paste I put chopped ginger-garlic. I don't even bother to caramelize onion before adding ginger-garlic paste. Caramelizing a big onion just takes too much time.

This chicken curry calls for a lot of ground spices. But all these spices are very common in Indian cooking. Once you have these ready, you can pull off almost any curry you want. All these spices are available off the shelf in Indian groceries and now a days in many super markets. But just in case you want to make them from scratch, you can easily do so by buying the seeds and using that magic tool - the coffee grinder. If you have leftover seeds then don't despair you can always use them directly in Indian curries.

Turmeric powder - its difficult to buy whole turmeric so you are better of buying this from a store.
Cumin powder - dry roast the cumin seeds and make the powder using a coffee grinder. If you are not scared of chili, you can roast a couple of red chilis with the cumin seed. Red chili adds little spiciness to the smoked cumin powder.
Coriander powder - dry roast the coriander seeds and let them cool for a while. Then grind them using coffee grinder.
Garam masala -  this is a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, clove. Dry roast all of them and grind them to make a coarse powder.

Indian Chicken Curry Recipe

1 TBS oil  (I use olive oil)
1/4 tsp sugar

1 bay leaf
Whole garam masala (cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves)

1 TBS finely chopped ginger and garlic
1 medium size onion
1 lb of boneless chicken thigh
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup red or green bell pepper

1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp maggi tomato chili sauce (available in Indian stores, or you can substitute it with chili garlic paste)
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 cup of water
1/2 cup chopped cilanto

In a heavy bottom pan, add oil. When oil gets a little hot, add sugar. Wait till the sugar gets caramelized. Be careful at this point, don't let the sugar burn. Otherwise, it will give a bitter taste to the curry. The caramelized sugar gives a nice color to the curry. You can omit this step if you want. Then add the bay leaf and whole garam masala to the pan. Then add onion, chopped ginger garlic and chicken and salt to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid. Salt will bring out water from the chicken and onion. Covering the pan with a lid will help the chicken to cook and get tender.

When the chicken gets a little tender or after 10 minutes remove the lid and cook it for another 10-15 minutes by stirring it once in couple of minutes till the onion and ginger-garlic get cooked and have a thick curry consistency. All the water that came out of the chicken should have been evaporated at this point.

Then add tomatoes, bell pepper, all the remaining spices and sauces to the chicken. Cook it for 5 minutes till the raw smells of the spices are gone and the vegetable becomes tender. Then add a cup of water and cook it on a medium flame for another 5-10 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on how thick/thin you want your curry. Stir it a couple of times so that the thick sauce won't stick to the pan. After the curry is done, stir in 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, you can substitute cilantro with parsley.

Mar 31, 2010

Sunday Brunch

Last week, I had a class on eggs in my cooking school. I made tonnes of 'proper' french omelets (Omelette roulee); which is french for rolled omelet. The entire class was very informative and also enjoyable. I found many of the Spanish omelets to be very similar to the omelets I used to eat growing up in India.

Omelette Basquaise is basically a thick omelet made with a mixture of eggs, onion, green pepper and tomato. It starts on the stove top, then moves to the oven and gets finished on the stove top. While my mom made similar omelets with mixed vegetables, those were cooked entirely on the stove top. To achieve the thickness of the omelet she used to cover the pan with a lid and cook the omelet on low heat.

After this exciting class on egg, I decided to make my version of individual baked omelet for Sunday brunch. I also made a brie and pear sandwich to go with the eggs

Oven Baked Omelet Recipe
1 portabella mushroom
1 egg
10 milliliter (splash of milk)
40 milligram onion chopped
40 milligram green pepper chopped
Half of a plum tomato (chopped and seed removed)
Salt, Black pepper
1 tsp parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Clean the portabella mushroom with a clean damp cloth. In a heavy bottom pan add oil. When oil gets hot, add the mushroom cap, top side down. Wait for the mushroom to get a nice brown color on the top side. Then flip the mushroom. Wait till the mushroom gets slightly cooked. The rest of the cooking continues in the oven.

Mix rest of the ingredients. Brush the ramekin with olive oil. Put the portabella mushroom in the ramekin and pour the egg mixture into the ramekin. In the preheated 350F oven, bake it for 20 minutes. You can add a little cheese after removing the ramekin from the oven. The cheese will melt from the residual heat in the egg and ramekin. I didn't add cheese though.

Pear and Brie Sandwich
2 slices of whole grain bread (I bought mine from a local Italian store, It was really flavorful and nutty)
2 oz of brie
1/4 of a pear sliced
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp butter

Butter one side of each slice. Then keep the buttered side of the bread slice on a medium hot pan. Add cheese slices, pear and honey on top of the bread. Add the other slice of bread on top of the fruit and cheese, keeping the buttered side to the top. Let it stay for one minute and then flip it and wait for another couple of minutes or till the cheese starts melting. But keep an eye on the heat as the bread can get burnt very quickly.

I should have cut the sandwich in the picture to show the inside, But I was very hungry...just managed to take the picture of my plate.

Mar 29, 2010

Broccoli and Egg Salad

Today, I was thinking about making a salad for lunch. But there were no salad greens in the fridge. It was raining and I was in no mood for shopping. Luckily I found a broccoli head and made this crunchy broccoli and hard boiled egg salad. And I added chewiness to the salad by adding a leftover baguette piece that was hanging around in the freezer.

Broccoli and Egg Salad Recipe

2 cups broccoli florets
2 eggs
1 cup baguette cubes
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 tsp of olive oil
salt, pepper, cayenne

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

Toss the broccoli florets and baguette cubes in salt, pepper, minced garlic and olive oil and bake it in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or till the rawness of the broccoli is gone.

To achieve the perfect hard boiled egg, in a pot take cold water and egg. Bring the water gently to a boil over medium heat. Then switch off the stove and cover the pot with a lid. Let it sit for 12 minutes and then put the eggs in ice bath/cold tap water. Let the eggs cool down a little. Then peel them under cold running water.

In a salad bowl, put the broccoli, baguette cubes and top them with the hard boiled sliced eggs . Sprinkle little cayenne and black pepper on the top.

Mar 28, 2010

Lemon Pudding

The most deliciously decadent dessert I have ever made. I didn't post the recipe because it was not mine. But I can provide the recipe on request.

Linguine with Acorn squash

Here is one more recipe with roasted acorn squash.

1 cup linguine
8 medium sized shrimp
1/2 cup roasted acorn squash
4 cloves of chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 medium leek
1 teaspoon capers
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

2 TBS olive oil
Salt and crushed black pepper
Red pepper flakes

In a large pot, boil 6 cups of water over high heat and salt the water generously. Then add pasta and cook the pasta, stirring occasionally for about 8-9 minutes or according to the package direction.  Then drain the pasta.

Leek is a member of onion family and the taste is sweet and subtle. Only white and pale green are used in cooking and dark green part is good for soup.  Cut off the dark green part, leaving the white and pale green part. Then cut the leek lengthwise into half. Then clean it under running water by removing sand that might be in-between the leaves. Then slice both halves of the leek like you slice onion. In a pan saute the leek with little olive oil and butter till it gets soft. Set aside.

Add 1TBS of olive oil to the pan. Add red pepper flakes to the oil. When oil gets medium hot, add onion and salt and saute till it gets translucent. Add garlic and the roasted acorn squash. Then add the shrimp. Shrimp will take 5-6 minutes to get cooked. Then add the cooked pasta and sauteed leek . Adjust the seasoning, add capers, lemon juice, lemon zest and crushed black pepper.  Garnish with copped parsley.

Mar 20, 2010

Chana Dal with Acorn Squash

Couple of days back, I had roasted acorn squash for the first time in my life. It was so delicious - the sweet, earthy flavor just melted in my mouth. People generally eat the fleshy part and discard the skin. But the roasted skin is as delicious as the flesh. I ended up eating the skin, flesh everything. I was so impressed by the vegetable, it has topped my produce list for this week.

Based on requests from some of my vegetarian friends, I was trying to post a couple of vegetarian recipes for this week.  So I thought of combining acorn squash and lentil. This recipe is also a spin off of my mom's mixed vegetable curry with chana dal.

Chana dal is a variety of yellow dal. It is basically, split skinned off black chickpea. You can find this in any Indian grocery store or you can use the yellow lentil found in any regular grocery store. Chana dal holds the shape better than the regular yellow dal even after cooking. But you can always substitute with yellow dal.

1 cup chana dal (yellow lentil)
3 cups water
1/2 acorn squash
1 inch ginger minced
1/2 yellow spanish onion chopped
1 plum tomato
1 TBS cup sweet peas 
Juice of half a lemon

1 TBS of oil ( I used olive oil)
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4 clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pod

In large pot put chana dal, tomato, whole spices (clove, cinnamon stick, cardamom) and water. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it for 45 minutes or till the dal gets tender with no resistance. If you are using a pressure cooker it will take 10 minutes. I don't have a pressure cooker, so I used a large pot. After the dal is done fish out the whole spices.

Add oil in a pan. When oil gets hot, temper the oil with cumin seed. Then add ginger and cook it till it gets fragrant. Then add the onion, little salt and saute the onion till it gets light brown.  The salt helps to bring out all the moisture from the onion and helps the cooking process. Then add roasted acorn squash (recipe follows) and saute for a 2/3 minutes till the squash gets little color.

Take the tomato out of the boiled dal mixture and put in the pan and mash it with spoon. Then cook till tomato gets cooked and all the vegetables get nicely coated with it. It will take 3/4 minutes.  Then add all the dal and water to the pan. Cook it for a couple of minutes and mix the dal well with the rest of the vegetable on the pan. Season it with salt. Then finish it by adding the cumin powder, lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

Serve it with steamed rice or whole wheat tortilla or Indian roti.

Roasted Acorn squash
Cut the acorn squash into half. Then brush the inside with olive oil. Roast the squash in a 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Time saving tip - you can boil the dal and squash at the same time and you don't even have to be in the kitchen. After boiling and roasting is done, you can come back and finish the dish, which all together takes 10-15 minutes.

Mar 14, 2010

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings with salad is one of my favorite dinners on a cold or rainy night. It is easy to make and also delicious – tickles all the taste buds. I pan fry the chicken wings instead of deep-frying it, I guess it makes it a little healthier.

10 chicken wings
1 ½ teaspoon of all-purpose flour
Salt, pepper and paprika


¼ cup of hot sauce
2 TBS soy sauce
½ teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon sugar
½ lemon
6 crush cloves (give the whole clove a coarse grind in the coffee grinder)
Parsley for garnish

Mix the flour with salt, pepper and paprika. Coat the chicken wings with the flour mixture. Put 1 TBS of canola oil on the pan, and then pan-fry the coated chicken wings. Fry till the chicken wings look brown on both sides. I started with 1 TBS of oil because lot of fat gets generated from the wings. So the frying process is somewhere between pan-frying and shallow frying. Mix rest of ingredients in a bowl for the sauce. Add the sauce to the pan and shallow fry it till the sauce thickens and the chicken gets coated with the sauce and oil (generated from the wings) mixtures. Then sprinkle some clove powder on the wings – this gives them a nice spicy kick. Garnish the wings with parsley.
Serve the wings with a homemade dipping sauce. The recipe for the dipping sauce follows below.

Dipping Sauce
1 teaspoon mayo
1 TBS non-fat yogurt
chopped scallion (can be substituted with chives)
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon chopped capers
Salt, pepper

Put all the ingredients for dipping sauce in a bowl and mix all of them well.

Banana Bread wih Nutella

Banana bread is one of my ‘rescue banana’ recipes. Banana is not only rich in vitamin, but it also acts as an anti-acid. After dinner, banana is a easy and healthy dessert with a little nutella or peanut butter on top. But sometime it just sits on the counter top unnoticed and turns black and mushy. That’s when my banana bread recipe comes into play, one recipe that demands for ripe, mushy banana that is not very appetizing on its own.

4 ripe bananas
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
½ cup honey
2 TBS granulated sugar
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup raisin
¼ cup chocolate chips
nutella (Chocolate hazel nut spread)

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mass all the bananas in a separate bowl using a fork, then add melted cold butter and egg to the bowl. Mix them well. Then mix all the dry and wet ingredients. Butter the pan and add the mixture and bake it for 30-35 minutes. The house smells good, cinnamon, and banana, just like home.
I am addicted to nutella. I can spread it on any baked goods, fruits or any sweet thing. Nutella tastes even yummier with this chocolate banana cake, got to try this to believe it. After the bread cools down, spread a generous amount of nutella, sprinkle some chopped hazel nut, pecan or whatever else you have at hand.

Chicken liver with Leek

After a leisurely stroll in central park, coming back home I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some onions. Even when I go to the grocery store to pick up one thing, it never stops at one. I got some beautiful chicken liver and my latest favorite vegetable, leek and bunch of other things.

Since I got my favorite vegetable, I decided to use it with chicken liver. I cleaned and finely chopped the leek and then sweated it with little bit of olive oil and salt. Sweating with butter will make it even more flavorful, but olive oil is a much healthier option. Then I sautéed chicken liver in a mixture of butter and olive oil and seasoned it with salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin powder. I served the chicken liver on the bed of leek and with a chipotle-mayo slathered ciabatta bread.

Mar 12, 2010

Sweet and Savory Weekend Brunch

Weekend brunch is one of my favorite meals. Last Saturday was a gorgeous day in NYC. I was craving for something savory followed by something sweet. Eggs, some baked items and fruits are the must haves of my weekend brunch. I decided to do something simple with the egg other than making omelet or frittata. I also wanted Heini’s yogurt cultured semi-soft cheese that I bought from Gourmet Garage to be the star of the show. The cheese is very creamy and spiced with jalapeno. It is just delicious. To satisfy my craving, I finally settled on a open faced ciabatta sandwich with poached egg and lots of melted cheese.

Ingredients for the open-faced Ciabatta sandwich
2 Eggs
½ Avocado
10-15 Cherry Tomatoes
Olive oil
Ciabatta bread
Salt, pepper, cumin powder
Heini’s yogurt cultured cow’s milk cheese with Jalapeno
Juice of half a lemon

I poached two eggs according to steps listed in the simply recipes blog and I had perfect poached eggs. Thanks Elise for sharing the recipe.

I lightly toasted the ciabatta bread with olive oil and a little salt. Melted the cheese on the bread on the stove top. Added the poached egg, sweet cherry tomato, avocado, lemon juice and drizzled olive oil on the top. Then I seasoned the sandwich with salt, pepper and a little cumin powder. The recipe serves 2 people. And here is the sandwich…

The sandwich was accompanied by pear and blue berry crisp, which I baked in individual ramekin. Here is the recipe

Fruit mixture
1 pear
1 cup blue berry
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon mixed berry jam
Freshly squeezed and zest of half orange
½ teaspoon of all-purpose flour

¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup chopped roasted pecan
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 TBS of unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients for the fruit mixture. Divide fruit mixture into two ramekins.

Put all the ingredients of the topping except the roasted pecans in a bowl. Add butter to the dry ingredients and rub the butter till texture of the mixture gets crumbly. Add the chopped pecan to the mixture.

Sprinkle the topping on top of the fruit filling. And bake it for 40-45 minutes till the fruit gets bubbly and the top gets crispy.

And the brunch served.

Mar 4, 2010

Home coming dinner

After me and my husband did a long distance relationship for 2.5 years, I decided to quit my job and just come home and start living together. Quitting my job was not an easy decision but sometimes you have to do things because you have to do it. So here I reached home. A delicious, comforting dinner was waiting for me prepared by my husband, who is really challenged in the kitchen, believe me, I am not kidding. It made my heart filled with awe…so sweet. The chicken soba noodle soup and the garlic bread were delicious. The yellow cake with pink frosting from Amy’s bread was delectable…yummy! I felt welcomed. There couldn’t have been a better dinner than this, the best meal I have ever had.