Friday, December 11, 2015

Blending with OXO - A recipe for 'Nimona' - Green Pea soup with pan fried gnocchi and Cilantro Pesto.


When I signed up to Oxo's latest blogger opportunity showcasing their new range of small kitchen appliances, , my initial plan was to make something as simple as Lassi. I even had a name for my blog post - 'Lassi Galore' - obviously because liquid probiotic yogurt  isn't exactly in that glamorous category of beverages like say, a boozy cocktail.

All that changed last week at the eleventh hour last weekend, when a group of blogger buddies got together at Anu Rao's  (Allergyfoodie.org). We were treated to the most elegant dinner (with all the bells and whistles, place settings, matching napkins - the works). The menu, in a delightful ironical twist comprised of dishes from Bihar, an Indian state whose cuisine is unheard of for all practical purposes. And Voila, I found the perfect dish to showcase the new immersion blender from OXO.






My old immersion blender is a relic from last century - 19 years to be precise, from my graduate school days. Every other accessory it came with has moved on the the great 'discarded appliance' pile in the sky,  and truth be told, I just could not find a suitable replacement that I was comfortable with. Well, from this point onward the old Braun will be relegated to churning soap.

The first feature about the OXO immersion blender that grabs your attention is the difference in length compared to the other blenders in the market - significantly 'taller' and thus can be used in tall soup pots without the fear of getting scalded when blending large batches. 



The fact that the blade is completely detachable from the motor at the mere touch of a soft button is a feature I missed in my old appliance. As ridiculous as it seems, no more wondering if all the fibers from the spinach you pureed years ago were completely washed out! And no more fear of accidentally turning the machine on while rinsing, or getting the motor drenched. (it still makes good sense to unplug before you take the blender, whole or in parts, anywhere near the sink).
The top half of the blender also has this unique LED feature that casts a soft glow over the ingredient being prepped and allows for effectively gauging the level of blending that is needed.



You can also adjust the speed (something not found in many of the competitive products) at which you want you blender to spin. there is a dial at the top of the appliance that enables you to execute tasks from gentle blending to hardcore pureeing. An indispensable convenience for making soups. I found that I could get a silky puree without having to strain the soup afterwards.

The recipe in this post is a variation of a traditional dish from North India. Nimona is a stew made with green peas and potatoes and is a winter specialty when green peas are in season. The method of preparation varies between states, Bihar / Jharkhand  dishes exemplify the use of raw/uncooked forms of seasoning like raw onions, etc. I used the pesto to highlight the crisp vegetal flavors involved. Being a complete stranger to this dish, I take inspiration from a recipe posted by my fellow blogger Anjana Chaturvedi (Maayeka.com). Adding the gnocchi instead of potatoes and the Cilantro Pesto is my personal touch.

Nimona (serves 4)


For the Soup:


  • 1 lb bag frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee / brown butter
  • 1 two inch stick cinnamon
  • 4-5 whole cardamom pods
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon ginger - chilli paste*
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely crushed mix of coriander and cumin tied into a bouquet garni
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Wedges of lime for serving





* : Mince a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root and 1-2 green chilies (as per your heat preference) together to a paste.

For the Gnocchi:


  • 2 large russet potatoes, boiled, peeled and crumbled well
  • 2 teaspoon corn flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • oil/ghee for pan frying



Cilantro/pistachio Pesto


  • 1 bunch cilantro (just leaves)
  • 1/3 cup pistachio soaked for an hour in hot water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 green chilies (as per taste)
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lime


Soup:
Boil the peas in 2-3 cups of water until they turn soft, but retain firmness and their green color. Transfer the peas (reserving the water its boiled in)  to the blending beaker accessory and puree the peas at the highest speed. Add some of the water to make the puree as per your preferred consistency. Set aside.




In a saucepan, heat the ghee and add the whole spices , i.e cardamom, bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon, when these bloom and emit their aroma, add in the ginger-chilli paste and stir for a couple of minutes.



Pour in the puree along with the bouquet garni and allow the soup to simmer on low heat (~ 15 mintues). Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the bouquet garni and the whole spices and transfer to a tureen. Allow to cool a bit while you make the gnocchi.


Gnocchi:

Mash the potatoes, cornflour salt and pepper into a smooth ball of dough. Pinch off marble sized bits, roll them into a sphere and run these down a gnocchi board to get the ridged oval shapes.


Heat the ghee/oil and fry these bits in batches until golden brown. Drain onto a paper towel.



Cilantro / Pistachio Pesto.



Combine the cilantro, hydrated and drained pistachios, garlic cloves, green chilies and the lime juice in a food processor and blend together until it forms a thick pesto, Add salt, taste for seasoning and adjust for taste. Store in the refrigerator. this pesto tastes great for sandwiches as well.


To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowls, add a couple of the fried gnocchi (and reserve the rest for your guest to add as they choose) and a dollop of the chilled pesto.




A big vote of thanks to OXO for the opportunity to test and showcase the new immersion blender. Honored to add it to my arsenal of kitchen gadgets.




Bon Appetit!

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