Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kiddie favorites - Baked Mac n' Cheese with roasted corn


You know you're a crazy food obsessed blogger when you run out to pick produce one day before you have to clear out the kitchen fridge, just because there is a challenge out there for your best ideas for a savory dish with baked corn.
Yep, I'm talking about the challenge from Freedom Tree, A purveyor of fine Home Accents based out of Mumbai, along with the Indian Food Bloggers Meet that is happening later this week in Bangalore . The day before I left for Mumbai, the Indian Food blogger's meet threw open this contest  and it became the perfect menu idea for the day,.. except that I completely blanked out on flavor profiles and what to make. My first instinct was to make a savory flan like custard with the corn 'juice', but somehow practicality took over and I allowed my 8 year old son  to dictate the flavors to me.

Mac n' Cheese with Roasted Corn

You need:

3 ears of fresh corn, with the husk and silk removed
3 cups cooked elbow macaroni (boiled in salted water)
1/2 cup shallots
3 tablespoons ghee
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 - 1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheese
1 cup Bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast the ears of corn over the gas stove until the the corn is well roasted with plenty of char spots. Set aside to cool and scrape the corn off the cob into a bowl. Allow yourself to gobble up about one cob's worth. (The recipe only needs 2 ears of corn for the dish).


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Heat the ghee in a skillet and add in the garlic and the shallots. Saute until the alliums turn translucent, and  add the oregano. Once the herb begins to emits its aroma, sprinkle in the flour and stir the mix until the flour turns a light brown and smells quite nutty. Gently whisk in the milk and simmer until the mix has a thick creamy consistency. Add 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and the cooked Macaroni. Fold to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust for seasoning.


Combine the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs.
Transfer the Macaroni mix into a 9 inch square baking dish and sprinkle the cheese/bread crumb mix evenly over the top. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top transforms into a golden crust


Cut the Mac n' cheese into 4 very generous portions, Serve up a couple to the kids with a glass of milk. Save the rest for yourself, along with a chilled glass of Chardonnay!

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dishes from my Other Blog - Deadly Desi Martini (a.k.a the Panakatini) - Day 207



Flavored vodkas are great, but they don't come nearly as close to infusing your own. This way, there is no limit to the different flavors that you can introduce to your mixed drinks. This is especially true if you want to introduce classic Indian flavors to your mixology experiments (Unless of course, Smirnoff decides to come up with these flavors overnight)!

I've tried experimenting with about 1/2 a dozen flavors of infused spirits, from fruits to a combination of spices. This drink, the Dirty Desi makes use of a vodka infused with cardamom & dried ginger. The proportions are flexible, I smashed up a 1 inch piece of dried ginger and 4-5 pods of crushed cardamon to 500 ml of vodka, Poured the spirits into a  bottle with an airtight stopper, like this one from Urban Dazzle. Let the spices steep uninterrupted in the alcohol for a week and then filtered out the spices.

The drink itself is inspired by a classic beverage described in the Rig Veda, The Panakam, a divine combination of flavors from ginger, lime and cardamom. I love to serve it up as a chilled, slightly fizzy martini. Maybe it just stems from the fact that I love martini glasses, the conical shape the long stems, evokes the classy 'Bond'ish aura. Well since is is a contest organized by two classy entities, The Indian Food Bloggers meet and UrbanDazzle.com, what better than to serve up a Martini  with classic Indian flavors!

Deadly Desi Martini - The 'Panakatini' (Makes 1 serving)

You need:
3 fl oz Cardamom & ginger infused vodka
Juice of 1 lime + the rind cut up into pieces
seeds from one cardamom pod, crushed
1-2 teaspoon Dark brown sugar or powdered jaggery
3 oz Ginger beer
Ice as required.

Combine the infused vodka, lime juice, the rinds, the crushed cardamom and the sugar in a cocktail shaker and muddle the mix together until the jaggery is dissolved. Add ice and ginger beer and shake the mix to combine. Strain out into a martini glass, garnish with a slice of lime and serve.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rice crepes with a Plum & salted caramel filling - The Kitchchenaid India Plum challenge.


As a kid, one of my favorite treats was this lacy rice crepe that my mom would make occasionally, a thin batter of rice, ground smooth. It was  referred to as 'verrum arisi dosai ('just rice dosai', if you care for a literal translation), a rather temperamental dish, which is probably why it wasn't made that often. Or more likely, It disappeared faster than the time it took to make them. The dish was invariably served up with a spicy, tart smoked eggplant dip (gothsu) and my mom would say that it was served that way to make up for the bland mild flavor of the crepes. Although I never voiced it aloud, I always wondered why it was never served in a sweet version.
Fast forward *** number of years, and the crepes still remain a firm favorite that I gobble down alternately as a sweet and savory version with myriad varieties of fillings, Mushrooms, squash, pears, peaches..the list goes on!

So, when the organizers of the Indian Food Bloggers Meet, along with KitchenAid India  threw open this challenge for posting dishes with plums, you bet I went crazy. Not just the thrill of creating a new dish, I love Kitchenaid & tend to collect their gadgets, from my measuring spoons onwards!

I must admit, I've neither tried many recipes with plums, or ever even thought about pairing the crepes with them, but a sweet/salty appetizer sounded intriguing. The crepe's are barely sweet despite the presence of honey and the salted caramel aspect of the plum filling makes this dish worthy of a delicious appetizer as much as a dessert.

 

I decided to make a couple of dishes, simply because working on just one of the ideas that come to mind is seriously shortchanging myself. I wanted to post the dishes together as a hot & cold pair of appetizer & dessert, but changed my mind. I will post the other dish on my other blog 'A dish a day', but here's a sneak peek of the plum sorbet dessert.


 My local farm had just started selling these absolutely divine sugar plums and the grocery store was stocked up on the larger variety. Of course, I never need any excuse to go produce shopping, so picked up large and the sugar plums of both colors. And then during the process of sampling them, promptly proceeded to snack on most of it. I was looking for the red fleshed fruits, but it turns out that the black skinned fruits could be either yellow or red colored inside.While there is no difference in taste, I preferred the darker fleshed fruit for making the filling. The filling is flavored with a single spice note, viz cloves.


Rice Crepes with a Plum and Salted Caramel filling


You need (For the Plum filling):

5 ripe plums peeled and quartered
1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons orange zest
5-6 cloves lightly crushed



Heat the sugar in a skillet until the crystals melt and turn a golden color, carefully drop the butter into the sugar and stir rapidly to create a caramel sauce. Add in the cloves, orange zest and the plums, stir to coat the fruit, lower the heat and simmer till the fruit softens. Set aside. The filling can be prepared in advance by about a day and chilled in the refrigerator until needed.




Rice Crepes:
You need:

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2 teaspoons honey

Plain Seltzer or club soda as needed
a stick of cold butter for greasing the pan
Icing sugar for dusting & mint leaf chiffonade for garnishing

Add the rice and one cup of water into the blender. Blend down into a thick paste (not completely smooth, but with a very  fine gritty texture). Transfer the batter into a container. Now, add the second cup of water, rinse out the blender jar and rinse out the container as thoroughly as possible. Pour out this starchy water into a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer. When the water appears 'syrupy' and thick, pour it out slowly into the rice batter mixing it simultaneously to ensure that there are no lumps floating around. Season with salt and the honey. When you're ready to make the crepes, pour out some of the batter into another container and dilute with an equal amount of club soda. You don't want to dilute all the batter at once and lose the fizz from the soda.

Heat a non stick skillet (Yep, this is one of those occasions that call for the good quality non sticks I've stashed away) and brush it with the cold butter. Once the butter begins to turn golden in color, pour out 2 ounces of the batter into the skillet and swirl the pan around to evenly coat the surface.


Cover the skillet allow the batter to firm up on a medium high heat until the edges begin turning brown and start leaving the sides of the pan. Gently, VERY gently, release the edge of the crepe (I find that a flexible silicone spatula works best) and transfer it to a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Spoon out the chilled plum filling in the center of the crepe, fold over twice as in the photograph,  dust with the icing sugar and garnish with the mint leaves. Serve warm. (the crepes tend to dry out when they cool down)



Bon appetit!



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