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With autumn approaching, I start fantasizing about cooking with the fall bounty. The house begins to smell of cinnamon and spice and everthing nice! My first experiment for the fall 2010 season is being licked clean even as we speak.

So I took some Granny Smiths and Honey Crisps and gave it the savory treatment. I mean why should baked apples only be turned into desserts? So I made a rice and raisin filling, stuffed them apples and baked ‘em good!

There are a few steps before the apples are ready for the oven.

Make the rice, fry the raisin and croutons, mix them together and stuff the apples and bake.

For the rice.

1tsp light olive oil

1 tsp butter

¼ cup red onion  and ¼ cup celery, both finely chopped

¼ cup Basmati rice

¼ cup apple cider

¼ cup water

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary [to be used throughout this recipe]

Pepper to taste.

For the butter kissed raisins

2 tsp butter

¼ cup raisins

And the croutons

1 tsp butter

¼ cup French bread, cubed into tiny pieces

 2 apples [Honey Crrisp and/or Granny Smith]

Preparation

Make the rice

Soak the rice for 15 minutes in warm water before cooking. This ensures long elegant grains. Meanwhile chop and dice onions and celery as finely as possible. Chop the Rosemary and set aside, this will be used to layer the flavor throughout the cooking.

In a small shallow pan melt the oil and butter and drop the chopped onions and celery and saute on a low flame for 5-7 minutes till the vegetables are soft. Drain the rice and shake of all the excess water and add to the celery and onion. Add about a teaspoon of chopped rosemary and toast the rice for a couple of minutes to coat every grain with the butter and oil.

Then add the salt, apple cider, water and apple cider vinegar and turn up the heat.

When you see the the rice grains hopping upto the surface like in the above picture [left upper section]  reduce the heat to a very slow simmer and put a lid on the pan. If you have a glass lid it will be easy to see when the rice is done, usually in about 7 minutes for a quater cup of rice. If you can’t tell, lift the lid and when the water is dried out and the grains are puffed up, it is done.

Add some more chopped rosemary and fluff the rice and set aside to cool.

While the rice is being cooked you can get the raisins and croutons ready.

Preparing the raisins and croutons.

Melt 2 tsp of butter in a pan set over a very low flame. Add the raisins and move it constantly in the pan so the raisins don’t burn. When they swell and plump up remove from pan and set aside.[ Do not drain as we need all the buttery flavor to be intact]

 In the same pan to any remaining butter add another teaspoon of butter and fry the croutons. When they are golden brown hit it with some salt, pepper and some chopped rosemary.

Prepare the apples.

As I am never able to finish a whole baked apple, I thought it would be good idea to cut it into two halves and stuff it. Prepare the apples like so and start the oven and set to 350 deg.

Cut off a small slice on the bottom for the apple to be stable in the baking dish. Rub the insides with some more chopped rosemary.

Now that we have all the parts, let’s put it all together.

Mix the rice, raisins and croutons when the rice cools down to room temp.

Pile each apple with the stuffing, the mixture fills 4 apple halves. Bake the apples in a foil covered dish at 350 for 30 -40 minutes. My apples took exactly 30 minutes. If the apples are in for too long they will collapse with the pressure from the steam within. It is a good idea to check under the hood after 30 minutes. Gently insert a fork into the apple to see if it goes through easily. If so, your baked apple is ready. Remove from the oven immediately and take off the foil. This is important as the apple can continue to cook and the skin can split.

Hope you try this savory apple recipe and do let me know how it turned out.

Best, S.

  Sending this creation to the ‘ Fall Fest’ cross blog event organized by Margaret Roach of ‘A way to garden’.

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 The sun and its warmth and light will soon be behind us… Boohoo!

 On the bright side we can fall back on winter foods to give us comfort. So here is a drink that will nourish you and warm your soul. Nuts, spices and sugar stewed in milk mmmm…

Spiced Milk/ Masala milk

For the readymade Milk Masala Powder

10 whole cardamom pods

30 almonds  

20 pistachio nuts

1/4  cup sugar

1/4 tsp crushed saffron strands or saffron powder

1/8 tsp turmeric powder

In a small blender, powder the cardamom in its skin as fine as possible, then add the nuts and continue to powder till it is gritty but not pasty. Remove and add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and store in a jar for later use. It stores well in the fridge for a couple of months.

To make the spiced milk

1 cup milk, whichever type you prefer, but not fat free

1 heaped tablespoon of milk masala powder

Heat I cup of milk in a sauce pan, add the spice powder as it comes to a boil and whisk for a few seconds and take off the heat. Let the flavors steep into the milk for half an hour. The texture of this drink is going to be gritty. You can strain the milk if you prefer. This drink is generally had warm during winter and cold during summer. Add extra sugar if you have a sweet tooth.

Quick microwave method. Heat 1 cup of milk till it begins to froth and whisk the spice powder and let it rest for  ½ an hour.

This is a wonderful drink that both children and adults can enjoy. It is served on many special occasions because of it’s richness.

FOOD NOTES

  • Make sure the nuts are dry roasted and unsalted. If the nuts are raw just dry roast them in skillet on a low flame for a couple of minutes. This is to make sure there is no moisture in the nuts.
  • This an excellent night cap.

Best, S.

Picture this, it is 7a.m on a weekday and mom is still in bed while her perfect kids are all dressed and ready for school and are helping themselves to breakfast by pouring milk and cereal into a bowl ….O.K, O.K, let’s rewind that a little bit to read; and mom is slaving cooking over a hot stove, preparing breakfast while her perfect kids are …

Mom is  the culprit here, totally. Growing up in India I started the day with a hot and savory breakfast. Nothing sweet or cold. My typical breakfast before I hopped onto a bus was freshly made piping hot rice and soup with a side of vegetables at 8 in the morning. I have continued with this savory tradition and if we do have cereal, it is only in addition to something salty. In fact on occasion, surveying  the breakfast chaos in the morning, my kids have asked “Can we just have cereal?”

I usually make this pancake on the weekends. During the week, I make a version of this pancake that has either fresh or frozen corn instead of the spinach. I try as much as possible to avoid using eggs in my cooking. Here buttermilk and baking powder combined, provide the fluff factor that you would get from eggs.

SAVORY SPINACH AND BUTTERMILK PANCAKES [EGGLESS]

 

1 cup, tightly packed baby spinach, washed.

1 cup buttermilk

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt [you may want to use less than this saltaholic]

A couple of pinches of pepper [optional]

1 pinch nutmeg [optional]

1 cup pancake mix [I use Trader Joe’s multigrain pancake flour]

¼ cup fat free cheese [Trader Joe’s fat free crumbled feta]/optional

Butter/ oil/ cooking spray, whatever your choice, whatever amount works for you. I used butter.

Wash the spinach and let it drain. Measure the buttermilk and add the baking soda, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Gently mix so the baking powder can start its leavening action. Now add the pancake mix and incorporate ever so gently and if you see clumps of flour not mixed in, it is O.K. Now chop the spinach finely and add to the batter along with the cheese and mix gently to coat all the spinach. Do not over mix, as this will result in a flat pancake.

                                                                                                                                                              Heat a pan/skillet. Once it is hot, turn down the heat to medium. Add a pat of butter and coat the surface evenly. Pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. Put a lid over the pancake.

                                                                                                                                                             I find this keeps the pancake moist while it is cooking. Cook for about a minute and a half till little bubbles appear on surface and the sides begin to firm up.

Add a pat of butter and flip the pancake and put the lid back on for another minute. Remove when the pancake is golden brown.

Serve with tomato ketchup!

Batter makes 4-5 pancakes.

I have frozen some batter and a cooked pancake. Will update you all tomorrow on its freezability!

Update; both the batter and the pancake passed the freezer test!

FOOD NOTES

  • You can skip the cheese altogether [it doesn’t have much flavor] but I add it for the protein value. To the best of my knowledge this is a vegetarian cheese as the label lists ‘enzymes’ on the back. This means that the enzymes are either vegetable or microbial in nature. If the enzymes in the cheese come from an animal source then the label would say ’rennet’. If you do find out otherwise please don’t let me know! My source for fat free cheese is gone!
  • Measure the buttermilk into the mixing bowl and leave it out, so it can come to room temp before you mix the batter. The pancake cooks faster.

Best, S

Sending to fall fest cross blog event started by Margaret Roach of ‘A way to garden’

 

 

Since I discovered food blogs, just a few short months ago, I have been obsessively blog hopping and enjoying, in particular the wonderful ‘events’ that are hosted throughout the blogging community.

I have followed Margaret Roach’s blogs for a while,  as my interests in food and gardening intersect at her ‘A way to garden’. I‘ve been meaning to participate in her summer fest, but was not ready as I was still trying to navigate the travails of blogging.

Now having taken a few baby steps I am feeling a little bit more confidant and am happy to be contemplating recipes ahead of ‘Potato’ week. Hmmm,,,, maybe I’ll even develop a recipe with all the ingredients  that have been featured until now …… That should be a lot of fun.

Only using  Cucumber, Corn, Cilantro [herb], Dates [stone fruit], Tomatoes, Tabasco pepper, Garlic and Potatoes, I’ll attempt a variation of the popular Indian street food called Chaat.

So what is a “Chaat”? It is an Indian snack/ salad/ street food/ appetizer. Potatoes are generally the back bone of a this dish. A whole host of vegetables and fruits can be added to a Chaat which is then drizzled with a sweet and a spicy, tart sauce and then liberally sprinkled with Chaat Masala. Chickpeas, mung sprouts, puffed rice, peanuts, fried lentil fritters and a number of interesting things can also make their way into a Chaat.

Here is my ‘Summer Fest Chaat’

No measurements required for the vegetables as you can combine them any way you want and any amount you want.

The Veggies

Cucumbers, cut into ½ inch dice

Corn on the cob roasted over a fire like so

and cut into ½ inch rounds, with salt rubbed over them.

Tomatoes, green/red or a combination cut into ½ inch dice

Potatoes [boiled, peeled and cut into ½ inch]. Shallow fry the potatoes to a golden brown like so

 and season with salt.

For The Sweet and Tart Chutney

½ a cup of green tomatoes with a blush of ripeness [tart]

¼ cup of cilantro, packed tight

2 pitted medjool dates [sweet]

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

1 tabasco pepper.

¼ tsp salt

Blend everything. You can add a little water if you want it a little runny.

Chilli powder [optional]

Assemble

your veggies and drizzle the chutney, lightly toss. sprinkle chilli powder. Dig in.

FOOD NOTES

  • With the corn, I was totally taking liberties as I ‘ve never seen them in a Chaat. However roasted corn rubbed over with a lemon and sprinkled with “masala’  is a very popular road side fare.
  • I used a Tabasco pepper as I grow it in my garden. You can use a milder pepper.
  • When using green tomatoes, it is better to use ones that have just started to ripen because you could go wrong with the unripe ones as they can  have a sharp acidic taste.
  • Normally there are several chutneys at the stall but my challenge was to create a recipe with the just a few ingredients so I just made the one.
  • Feel free to add whatever veggie or fruit takes your fancy.
  • The chutney will also make a great spread.
  • Chaat is usually served in a recepticle made out of dried leaves stitched together and a tooth pick which stands in for a fork.

Stressed from a whole day of figuring out this blogging thing. So much to learn if you are a computer illiterate like me. My brain is on an overload from all this blog jargon. Pingbacks, track backs huh? I give up! It’s dinner time now and I am very hungry.

Surveyed the kitchen. Left over baguettes, two days old. Opened the fridge. Some promising vegetables. Hmmm….Maybe Panzanella is what’s for dinner tonight. Oh! what’s this? Some leftover marinara sauce. Has it been done before? All the more reason to try it. Ran out to the garden, picked some cherry tomatoes and basil and I was in business.

So here is what dinner [for two] got made from.

Muddled the basil leaves with the S & P. Added the home made marinara sauce. A splash of vinegar [I used apple and lingonberry vinegar] and a tiny glug of light olive oil. Diced the vegetables and cubed the bread and tossed everything together. The salad had such a bold flavor that I skipped topping it with cheese. I added some red pepper flakes to my portion of the salad and I loved it!

FOOD NOTES

  • The panzanella requires lots of liquids in the form of the vegetable juices, oil and acid, to make the days old bread moist. With the addition of the marinara sauce, I found I used very little oil and vinegar as the sauce provided the wetness and tartness, along with some unexpected sweetness. No cheese added either. Turned out to be a healthier version than the traditional one.
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