Thursday, March 27, 2008

corn salad or makke ki bhel

i was reading something somewhere the other day about corn. sorry i can't seem to remember where i read this, but it said that fresh corn has hardly any starch. the starch is created once the corn is cooked. this was music to my ears my friends. all this time, i thought i was in love with the enemy. a practically nutrient deprived vegetable. but oooh, i love me some corn. and i especially love summer corn. i love grilled corn, i love roasted corn, i loved boiled corn. shoot, i even love corn nuts. oh yeah, and i love any items made with corn.

did you know in baroda (in the state of gujarat in india) there is an entire restaurant dedicated to this golden haired sunshine of a vegetable? they make everything out of corn. corn bread, corn roti (tortilla), corn rotlo (flatbread), corn fritters. you get the picture. i didn't get a chance to go this time, but there were some idiots around me who kept talking about it the whole time. people suck. big time.

it's not quite season yet, but my mom couldn't help picking up these 2 lovelies at SunHarvest. here, she's made a popular street food in mumbai called corn bhel. it is basically a salad with some crunchy savories added - sort of like the crunchy noodles you get at a salad bar. but the indian ones come in different shapes, sizes and thicknesses. they are called sev and they are made out of chickpea flour which is sometimes labeled 'gram flour' on the packaging. don't bother making these at home, they have to be deep fried and require a special tool. besides, for the small quantity you need for this recipe, it's just better to buy them ready made at any indian grocers.

Corn Salad or Makke ki Bhel
serves 2
prep time: 10-15 min

into each bowl add:

  • shuck an ear of corn and season with salt
  • add a tablespoon of chopped red onions (we used Texas 1015's)
  • add 1/2 diced jalapeno or to your tolerable heat level
  • add 1/2 tomato
  • add 2 tablespoons of sev
  • add cilantro
  • squeeze some lime over the top and serve immediately

Notes: not using sev won't comprimise the taste of this dish, however the crunchy texture that it provides will be missing. another alternative would be to cut up a corn tortilla into strips and fry until crispy or bake in an oven and crush over the top.

Listening to: the handsome, the suave, late Gregory Hines track - 'Creole Boy' from the cast recording of Jelly's Last Jam (1994).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Navroz celebration

here is wishing the parsi community a very happy new year! and please write down your recipes people!!! i can't seem to say that enough. ah, but you will soon see the light my friends...

okay, so now with that out of the way - i was listening to public radio this morning on my way in to work, and what do you know? they had a special on Navroz, the Parsi New Year which occurs on the first day of spring. it was so touching and celebratory on so many levels. with family roots in bombay as well as being from the state of gujarat, this holiday is especially dear to me. for those of you who may not know, the parsi population is largely in the state of gujarat and in bombay.

i was saddened to hear that parsi cuisine is one of the most unknown cuisines in the world despite its origins emanating from 2 continents and expanding many countries. UNESCO has determined that only 75,000 parsis are in existence today and have started efforts to protect this dying culture. of course, being foodheads as we are, it is quite obvious that there will be no food if there is no culture and tradition being passed down.

after reading the
transcripts on NPR, i am now encouraged, as i hope you will be too, to put forth an effort in educating yourself on the rich parsi heritage while the the community is still intact. hey, and if you are really inclined, collect some fabulous recipes along the way.

oh, and did i tell you ms. famous chef, alice waters celebrates navroz in chez panisse? i mean really, what more motivation do you need?

now someone please pass me the dhansak and falooda! Happy Navroz guys!

Notes: my mom makes a mean falooda ice cream, which i will post this weekend hopefully!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

sweet potato fries

with so many people watching their carb intake, these gems are perfect. they're a sunset on a plate. try these and don't feel guilty munching...

Sweet potato fries
serves 2
prep time:5 min
bake time: 40 min
  • wash and chop 2 large sweet potatoes into thick slices or wedges
  • add a glug of good olive oil
  • sprinkle with salt, crushed szechuan peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and oregano
  • bake at 400 deg for 30 -40 min

Notes: optional seasonings could include crushed garlic, cayenne pepper and Old Bay seasoning (love this stuff!). or - go with a sweeter route and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and brown sugar and dip in pumpkin dip- yummmm!

Listening to: the Sabri Brothers album, Ya Mustafa (1996), track 'Tajdar-E-Haram'. i confess to a deep deep love of qawaali music. and it doesn't hurt that the Sabri Brother's family has been making music since the moghul times.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

apricot cherry tea bread

maybe you have deduced from the lack of chocolate recipes on this blog, that i much rather prefer fruits and nuts in my desserts than chocolate. i'm sure in some circles that would make me an outcast of sorts. well, i'm not ready to retire my passion for fruit, and to celebrate the arrival of spring, i made this lovely tea bread.

first off, lets get one thing straight - this is a tea bread as opposed to a muffin or a cake. this is dense as it is an actual dough, and it holds up well to toasting if you are so inclined. and since this is a real dough, do not beat it and mix it to death. just stir gently. if you mix it too much, it is going to be tough and hard. not to mention it will have a very unappetizing texture. nice way of saying, 'NASTY'.

oh, by the way, i don't measure things when i bake either. i just sort things out as i go along and just wing it. of course, i'm not making Lauderee financiers or anything. in which case, i would most assuredly break out my severely underused measuring cups and spoons.

you can find the original recipe here.

Apricot cherry tea bread
makes 1 loaf
prep time: 15 min
bake time: 45 min

  • 3 oz dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten (i used Ener-G egg replacer)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange peel
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/ 4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

the play:

  • preheat oven to 350º F
  • grease 9x5-inch loaf pan
  • cook apricots & cherries in water in a covered medium-size saucepan for 10-15 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain; reserve 1/4-1/2 cup liquid. Set aside to cool
  • cream together butter and sugar (i used a fork). By hand, gently mix in egg replacer and orange peel and vanilla extract
  • sift together flour, dry milk, baking powder, soda, and salt. (i used a wisk instead of sifting)add to creamed mixture alternately with reserved apricot liquid and orange juice
  • stir apricot & cherry pieces and pecans gently into the batter
  • place batter in loaf pan
  • bake for 40-45 minutes or until bread springs back when lightly touched in center
  • cool 5 minutes in pan. remove from pan and completely cool on wire rack before slicing

Listening to: 'Ain't no way', by the original diva number one, Aretha Franklin, off her album, Lady Soul (1968). Love it, love it, love it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

vegetable pot pies and apple tartlettes

recently, i made vegetable pot pies and some apple tartlettes, because frankly i didn't have much in the way of veggies. i was alone this weekend and i had a lonely little carrot, a zucchini and a red onion - oh, and some frozen peas. so i guessed you've figured the vegetable pot pies aren't really potpies, haven't you? no, they're tarts, so sue me, i just totally misled you. well, if i bothered to cover them with pastry dough, they would've been pot pies right? i knew you'd see my point of view. and as far as the apple tartlettes go, they just sound better than apple tarts. reminds me of this crazy lady who works here who keeps saying, "she's such a tart" in all that southern twang glory.
anywho, they look a lot more fussy than they are. they're very fast and i would highly recommend this for a dinner alone. who wants to be in the kitchen for an hour when they're by themselves? not me. i really only feel inspired when i know they're are mouths to feed. so, it took me all of 5 min of prep, 5 min to cook and then 25 min to bake.
vegetable pot pies
serves 2
prep time: 10 min
bake time: 25 min

  • 1 package of individual sized frozen tarts - mine had 8 in there - only use 4
  • 1 zucchini, washed and diced small
  • 1 carrot, washed and diced small
  • 1 red onion, washed and diced
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1-2 tbspn oil
  • pinch of cumin, coriander, red chili powders
  • pinch of garam masala
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
the play:
  • preheat oven to whatever the frozen tart package says - mine said 375
  • defrosted the tarts while you prepare the vegetables
  • saute all veggies together in a bit of oil, add a pinch of coriander and cumin powder, red chili powder and garam masala. add salt and cook until cooked thru but still firm - about 5 min
  • turn off heat, add lemon juice
  • prick the tarts all over with a fork
  • divide the filling among 4 tarts
  • bake according to package instructions - mine were at 375 for 25 min.
apple tartlettes
serves 2
prep time: 5 min
bake time: 25 min

  • 1 small granny smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbspn butter
  • 1 tbspn brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn toasted pecans or walnuts - you can microwave these for 30-45 sec
  • 1 tbspn chocolate chips or butterscotch chips (optional)
  • 1 tbspn pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice or a mixture of ground cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, ginger
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • a tiny squeeze of lemon juice

the play:

  • preheat oven to whatever the frozen tart package says - mine said 375
  • defrost the frozen tarts while you chop the apple and get the other ingredients together
  • prick the tarts with fork
  • add the chips to the bottom if you are using them
  • mix the apples with brown sugar, nuts, spices, salt and lemon juice
  • fill the 2 tarts with this mixture
  • top with 1 tbspn butter cut up over each tart
  • bake according to package instructions - mine were at 375 for 25 min.

Notes: for the veggie pot pies, use whatever firm veggies you have on hand like bell peppers, cauliflower, etc. (i think that line is in every post so far, lol). for the apple tartlettes, you can pretty much use any stone fruit, i'm sure peaches and nectarines would be divine.

Listening to: 'Nickel bag of funk', by the awesome awesome awesome Digable Planets, from their debut album, Rebirth of Slick (1992)... how can you not love their lyrics?

"Tell my pops i'm out earthbound with the crew

He said butterfly may the boogie be with you..."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

appey and cardamom tea

for breakfast i made these appey, is that what they're called? i got the wonderful pan on my trip to india. it's a nonstick but extremely heavy, at first i thought it was cast iron, but it turned out to be nonstick.
it's really easy if you have dosa batter ready, if not you can use one of those instant dosa packets. i'm not going to give a recipe because it's just chop and drop. get the batter ready and add chopped red onion, green chillies, a bit of ginger and a sprig of curry leaves.
heat the pan, add a drop of oil into each hole and add about a tablespoon or two of the batter, cover. flip when the bottoms are brown. this should take about a 3-4 minutes on each side.
serve with a cup of delicious cardamom chai and you'll be set for the day.
Listening to: 'Song of Love/Narayana' by Kula Shaker from album, Strange Folk (2008)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

new favorites - stuffed poblano peppers and polish raspberry mazurkas

readers, i confess, sometimes i have no idea what to make. i don't know about you guys, but for me just the decision on what to make drives me looney everyday around 5pm. i need subtle suggestion. and that's where these guys come in the picture. if their drooling commentary isn't enough to head you into the cold barren kitchen, then i don't know what else could.
ok, enough of all my chatter... this is what i've made recently (this is a relative term for me)...

from blogger, 365 days of pure vegetarian, her stuffed poblano peppers. these came together easily. i just had to make a quick run to the store for the poblanos and everything else i had at home. the only changes i made were to add 2 tbspn of tomato paste and to cut the rice down to 1/4 cup. i served them with a side of home made guacamole and salsa. they were fantastic! my husband wrapped the whole thing in a tortilla and had at it. i think i would like to make these into chilli rellenos type things and smother them with mole the next time. yum yum yum...

from the blogger who needs no introduction - melissa of the very famous The Traveler's Lunchbox, her polish raspberry mazurkas. these were so delicious, with a light yet filling oatmeal coconut crumble layer on top and bottom. i think i got more than 12 pieces though. i took these for an event and didn't get to take a snap beforehand. however, because i know i will be making these again and again, i will definitely update this post with photos. this is perfect for those times when you're chocolated out. know what i mean? the recipe is quick, simple and easy to follow with excellent results. the only tinkering i did was to add just a pinch of lemon zest into the raspberry preserves. i don't know if it was even needed, but i do know that it was just scrumptious. next time i'm going to try these out with either a fig, orange or blueberry preserve. OMG.

i don' t know why i've always got to mess with a perfectly perfected recipe, probably one that's been handed down for more than a hundred years. i just don't know what it is with me. i have tinkering issues. what else can i say?

thanks so much guys for being extremely generous in sharing your recipes and allowing restless hands and minds to tinker on.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

whole wheat veggie wrap

saturday mornings are meant to be savored slowly, lazily and of course hungrily. this weekend, i made a quick stirfry using red potatoes and a yellow pepper i had in the fridge. they came together in a whole wheat wrap. the kick to the dish comes from the jalapeno and cilantro.
whole wheat veggie wrap

serves: 4
prep time: 10 min
cook time: 15 min

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 4 red potatoes, washed & chopped into cubes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, washed & chopped
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, washed & chopped – use per your personal preference
  • few sprigs of cilantro, washed & chopped
  • juice of half lemon
  • pinch of mustard seeds & cumin seeds
  • tspn cumin & coriander powders
  • salt

the play:

  • heat a wide sauté pan and add 2 tbspn olive oil, add mustard & cumin seeds; let pop
  • add potatoes, bell pepper, onion & salt, stir & cover for 10-13 min on low heat until potatoes are cooked thru. The last 5 min, add the jalapenos.
  • add cilantro & lemon juice, stir and let cook 2 more minutes

to serve:
in a flat pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and cook the tortilla on both sides till lightly brown, add the potato mixture and roll like a wrap, serve warm.

Listening to: the soulful groove of India Arie; "ready for love" from, Acoustic Soul (2001)