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!



Monday, July 14, 2014

Breaking Bread with Friends - The Indian Food Bloggers meet & a recipe for Pain d'Epi


AAAH.. Summer holidays, the kids are out of school and my home looks like it gets hit by a daily tornado, that somehow magically manifests itself 2 1/2 minutes after I clear up a spot. On the bright side, The farmstands are all open with a bounty of fresh 'just picked' sun kissed produce. And, as my 8 year old phrases it, 'Mommy's going cuckoo about vegetables'. I need to keep him in my good books, since he is grown to be a valuable culinary consultant, with a near perfect sense of taste and flavors combinations.

Food seems to have drummed into me an alternate deep meaning to the term 'Home Sweet Home'. My vegetable patch (over ridden with weeds and seeds of plants that survived the intense winter last year) is almost like a pet that I look forward to taking care of every day, and there is a real tangible reward, a handful of strawberries, a couple of cucumber for the day's salad.

t

Emotional attachment to the vegetable path makes it all the more harder to go on a short vacation, because I just know that a part of me is going to be thinking constantly at the daily harvests I'll be missing out on. But the bonus here is that I will be meeting up with some wonderful, talented bloggers from the Indian subcontinent. Yes, I will be attending the very first Indian Food Blogger's Meet in Bangalore, India early next month, and I have my cards from Moo.com all ready!



This stellar effort is being coordinated by Aparna Balasubramanian (My Diverse Kitchen), Arundhati Rao (Culinary Escapades), Nandita Iyer of Saffron Trail and Revati Upadhya of Hungry & Excited.
There are plenty of informative sessions & workshops planned over the course of two days, and I'm excited enough to actually say that my little kitchen garden may be moved to the back of my brain for that period of time! Especially looking forward to meeting Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, whose recipe for a Date loaf, I've been craving for way too long!

Well, in the spirit of meeting old friends & making new ones, today's recipe is for a a bread, a rustic Epi. The bread was cobbled from multiple recipes, a bit from here , a bit from there with some of my carefully jotted improvisations in between. My son wolfed his way through a whole loaf by the end of the day. After all, he did suggest the rosemary & flaked sea salt addition.

I used Biga (pre ferment) from a recipe for this months 'We knead to bake' project and combined it with another adjusted quantities from a recipe from Yum sugar. Since the Biga was already made using bread flour, I decided to continue with that instead of using All purpose flour. The result was a chewy satisfying bread which wasn't exactly a sourbread, but had some of the tang.

Pain d'Epi with Rosemary & flaked sea salt. (Makes 3 loaves)

You need:

For the Biga (Pre ferment)

3/4 cups Bread flour
1/4 - 1/3  cups milk
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the bread

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup warm water (plus extra if you need)
Milk for brushing
Dried Rosemary
Maldon flaked sea salt (or any other similar salt of your choice)

Combine the flour, milk and the yest for the Biga in a bowl. mix well with a wooden spoon, cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest overnight at room temperature. If you don't plan to make the bread the next day, refrigerate. The Biga stays viable for about 2 days. Just make sure that you bring it to room temperature before using.

The next day, combine the bread flour, yeast, salt and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Keep the machine running and add the biga in small bits, allowing each piece to incorporate with the flour before adding the next. Once the Biga has been mixed in gradually add the water. Keep the machine running on a medium low speed and allow the mixture to combine into a smooth ball of dough that does not stick to the bowl. If the dough appears 'feathered' (little bits fraying), add a bit of water to allow the dough to shape itself into a smooth ball. Transfer the dough into a bowl cover and allow to proof for about an hour. The dough would have doubled in size by this time.

Transfer the dough onto a working surface and divide into three equal parts and shape each one into a smooth ball.


 Using the palm of your hands roll one of the balls of dough into a cylindrical roll about a foot long.



Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors make 2 deep cuts at a 45 degree angle snipping the dough to about 1/4 inch from the base. Gently turn the piece of dough to the left forming a 'leaf'. Continue making parallel cuts alternating the pieces of dough to opposite sides. The end result should look like an ear of wheat.



Place the shaped loaves on a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush with milk and sprinkle the rosemary and salt over the surface, gently patting it down to 'embed into the leaf.


 Cover with plastic wrap and allow the loaves to proof in a warm spot for about an hour.


Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the top surface turns a golden brown in color. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool. 



Serve warm with fresh butter, cheese or jam. (or just rip the leaves off and scarf them down straight up!)


My favorite way is to smear the rolls with Brie or Camembert cheese and Fig preserves.

Remember that these loaves have no oil or fat to retain their moisture. They will become stale pretty quickly  if left out in the open. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a freezer for long term storage, and thaw out when the craving strikes.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dishes from my Other Blog - Pan fried Fingerling potatoes with Garlic Scapes (Day 189)


Potatoes.. how can ANYONE not fall in love with them in Infancy? On second thoughts. if there is an answer to that, the subjective self centered part of me does not want to hear it!
  Raghavan Iyer, A culinary idol of mine, recently mentioned that he was going to work on a book with Potatoes as the main ingredient, and this definitely kicked me out of my inherent laziness with working with these marble sized spuds (i.e, Peeling them after boiling) that had spent more than 2 weeks in my kitchen's Lazy Susan.
Summer is here, and so are the garlic scapes. I found these curly, wispy yet wiry beauties at my local Hillsboro farm. Garlic bulbs can be put aside for the winter, this is the time to relish the crisp garlicky flavor of these beauties. Simply dice and saute them lightly to bring out their flavor.

You need:
2 lb fingerling potatoes (I used a medley of Reds, Goldens & purple Peruvians)  boiled and peeled
3 tablespoons olive or sesame oil
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tender garlic scape stems cut at an angle
1 Serrano chile, diced
1 tablespoon ginger root julienned
Salt to taste
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Heat the oil in a cast  iron skillet and add the cumin when the oil just barely begins to smoke, once the seeds 'split', toss in the scapes, chile and the ginger. Give it a light stir and allow the flavors to bloom. Add the potatoes, and fold to allow the oil and the other spices to coat the potatoes. sprinkle salt and allow the spuds to gently crisp up and turn a golden color (at least the light color ones, the purple ones don't really have that swoon worthy appearance about them). Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with lime juice and serve warm with dal & rice.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Dishes from my Other blog - Farro Salad with a cilantro and mint dressing (Day 188)


What do you do when you want both semi junk and Healthy rolled into one..You make this salad.
I'm a sucker for Indian junk foods and my favorite has got to be the Bhel Puri. but plain puffed rice with just the veggies and none of the deep fried additions.. just does not cut it. The mouth feel textural factor is so crucial and using Farro was the perfect solution.

You need:
1 package pre cooked Farro (I used one pack from Trader Joe's)
1 cup dice heirloom tomatoes
1 cup diced kirby cucumbers.
1 cup diced Candy onions
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup Cilantro Mint chutney
1/4 cup EVOO
Juice of 1 lemon
1  tablespoon Honey
a couple of cracks of pepper
Salt to taste

In a small smoothie blender jar combine all the ingredients for the dressing (except for the salt), pulse until the mixture has a smooth creamy consistency.
Cook the Farro as per the instructions of the Package. Drain and combine with the diced tomatoes, cucumbers and Candy onions. Drizzle the dressing over the Farro and fold until the dressing coats thesalad. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Toss in the Blueberries and raspberries just prior to serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Beckons.. With a bowl of 'Neer Moar' Sorbet in Hand!


Northern India especially the region of the Punjab, is known for its Lassi, a rich creamy frothy concoction of fresh, home made yogurt churned up and served with a pinch of black rock salt, or a sweet version with sugar and sometimes a hint of rose water. There are anecdotes galore about how rural households in the Punjab buy washing machines for the sole purpose of whipping up industrial quantities of the beloved beverage. (BTW, Mango Lassi is not a well known beverage in India)



Fast forward a couple of hundred miles down south towards states like Gujarat & Maharashtra and you have the Lassi's low cal lite version, the Chaas. They often make up for the light version by generously serving it up with deep fried morsels of chick pea batter known as 'boondhi' (boondh is the term for drops in Hindi ).

Wend your way further down south and you enter the domain of the 'Neer Moar' (literally translates as 'watery buttermilk). It was a time honored tradition to place an unglazed earthern pitcher  filled with this beverage outside on the porch so that weary travelers or passers-by could quench their thirst. Its considered a cardinal sin to deny water to anybody who asks for it.

Neer Moar is basically ultra dilute buttermilk seasoned with ginger, freshly squeezed lime, curry leaves and sometimes,  a hint of green birds eye chili for a hint of heat. A generous pinch of sea salt completes the flavoring. I suppose the reason this beverage is so popular in summer is because of the added electrolytes that may be derived from the seasoning and the tiny shot of milk proteins from the buttermilk.




And then of course, there's MY version. Chilled neer moar is delicious, but a frozen treat with this homey favorite is unbeatable. It also turns out that it was nowhere as simple of freezing the regular Neer more into a popsicle. There is a crisp delicate flavor & texture to the drink and simply freezing it ends up handing you a popsicle thats all 'yogurty' on the top with a dull frozen piece of whey underneath. Not appetizing at all. A couple of tries and iterations later, I found myself with a perfect bowl of a granita like sorbet and the family found itself a new summer classic to call as a favorite!


Neer Moar Sorbet (makes 6 generous servings)

You need:
1 cup plain Non Fat Kefir
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup skim milk

For the seasoning:
1 sprig fresh curry leaves (the dehydrated/dried ones do not work well for this recipe)
2 tablespoon ginger extract*
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 a green serrano chile (optional)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lime zest.

* TO make ginger extract, grate a piece of ginger and squeeze out the liquid. Allow the liquid to settle and decant out 2 tablespoon of the liquid, discard the white starchy powder that remains at the bottom of the container.

Combine the ingredients for the seasoning, (except for the lime zest) , the Kefir, and sour cream in a blender and puree completely. Strain out into a bowl and taste for seasoning, discarding the curry leaf bits. Dilute with the skim milk and stir in the lime zest. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

 In the meantime, Chill the container of your ice cream maker overnight. Mine uses those chilled containers that rotate on the base. If you have a different design, prep it as per your manufacturer's instructions.


Whisk and pour in the Kefir mixture into the ice cream maker bowl. Let it run for about 20 minutes or until the mix thickens  as shown in the picture above and there is no visible liquid in the container


Scoop the frozen mixture into a  wide mouthed container  and place into the freezer until its completely frozen. Scoop out into chilled bowls and serve as a stand alone treat or as a palate cleanser between courses in a  formal Indian meal.




 Bon Appetit!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

ShareThis