January 31, 2007

Oven Poached Sea Bass with Quinoa Pilaf

While congratulating us on our wedding anniversary last week, a friend asked 'so what are you cooking for your anniversary?' Well, I didn't cook the day of our anniversary, we went to a Lebanese restaurant and then to Butterwood for dessert. But I did make something special the next day.

When we received the seasonal magazine from our grocery store, I saw a recipe with quinoa and it intrigued me. I found it in the next trip to the grocery store and wanted to try it instantly. So I made poached Sea Bass and Quinoa pilaf. Quinoa has a nutty taste and we liked its texture and taste. Then I read about all the goodness and protein in the ancient grain, and knew that we'll be making it again soon.

I've never poached a fish before and was hesitant about making it. But one of my new year resolution is try new recipes. And I created a 'indianised' version of the poaching liquid with tomato, tamarind and garlic in vegetable broth with spices. It was delicious. We had a wonderful dinner at home with nice fruity Reisling to complement the food.

For Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup organic Quinoa
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
1/3 cup mixed vegetable
8-10 almonds - blanched and chopped
pinch of turmeric
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups water
1 tspoon butter
1/2 tspoon olive oil

For Poached Sea Bass

2 steaks Sea Bass - I made it into 4 pieces
pinch of turmeric
1/2 tspoon lemon juice
1 medium onion - chopped
1 medium tomato - chopped
5-6 mushrooms - chopped
1 tbspoon taramind juice
1/2 tspoon red chilli powder
1 tspoon of cloves, fennel seeds & cumin seeds powder (Dry roast them together and powder it finely)
2 cloves garlic - crushed and chopped
2 tbspoon - white wine
salt & black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
cilantro - to garnish (finely chopped)


For Quinoa Pilaf
For 1 cup of Quinoa, use 2 cups of water.
Soak quinoa in water and let it cook until all the water is soaked and the germ rings are visible. I cooked it for 8-9 min in microwave.
Heat oil in pan and add the butter once it's hot. Temper it with cumin seeds and then add the almonds. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the mixed vegetable.
Once they are half-cooked, add the quinoa, turmeric, salt and black pepper and mix it thoroughly. Let it cook for another couple of minutes and take it off the heat.

For Oven Poached Sea Bass
Heat the over to 350 deg F.
Meanwhile, marinate the sea bass with turmeric, salt, pepper and lime juice and let it marinate for 30 min.
Heat a wide, thick bottomed pan and temper the olive oil with garlic. Once they start turning brown, add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and saute for a couple of minutes.
Then add the fennel-clove and cumin seeds powder, red chilli powder, followed by tamarind sauce.
Add the mushrooms and let it cook for 2-3 minutes till they are mixed well together.
Add the wine and mix all the ingredientwell.
Then add vegetable broth, season with salt and bring it to a boil.
Put the fish in a wide bottomed dish and add the poaching liquid. The liquid should not cover the fish, but come about half-way up to the side of the fish.
Let it cook in the oven for 20-25 min till the fish flakes easily.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
This is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Kuchenlatein.

January 29, 2007

Baked Pear with Almonds & Raisins

I made this dessert for the New Year's, but somehow forgot to post it. We received a big box of Harry & David Riviera Pears for Christmas, but there's two of us! We ate a few, distributed a few, but by New Year's, we still had quite a few pears left.

Using the pears, I decided to make a simple dessert which incorporated the taste of the delicious, sweet pears. I scooped out the pears and filled it with saffron and cream soaked almonds and raisins, drizzled it with honey and let it bake. Everyone liked the taste and the dessert dish was licked clean by the end of the night. Here's how I made it.

3 pears
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup almonds - soaked for 30 min
2-3 strands of saffron
3-4 tbspoon heavy cream
1 tbspoon honey

Heat the oven to 350 deg F.
Meanwhile, crush the almonds and raisins. Soak the saffron strands in cream and mix it with the almonds and raisins. Set it aside.
Skin and halve the pears. Scoop out the middle of the pear. I used a ice cream scoop.
Fill the cavity with the almond, raisin and cream mixture.
Drizzle honey on top and set them on a tray.
Bake it for 10-11 min so that it mixes well together, but the pear is not crumbling apart.

Serve warm. It also tastes good with a scoop of ice-cream.

January 26, 2007

Ginger-Cardamom-Jaggery Cupcakes

It has been sometime since I have been visiting Cupcake Bake Shop. I love the creativity and the different flavors that Cheryl has been experimenting with. So when she and Garett of Vanilla Garlic announced the Cupcake Round up I wanted to send in something as well.

But here was my dilemma, how do I know the difference between a cupcake and a muffin. And I realized I am not the only one with this question. There are forums which have discussed the same issue, there is a blog about this issue and several other websites with the same question.

After reading through all of them, I realized that there are some subtle differences. Here are some indicators (I say indicators as some are still debating the differences)
1. cupcake has frosting (mostly), muffins don't,
2. cupcakes use cake flour (mostly), muffins don't,
3. cupcakes have a higher content of sugar, muffins don't.

Armed with my knowledge, I was ready to bake my cupcakes. I needed a recipe. I read several recipes and then decided to create my own. I wanted to try a cupcake which included some of the spices I use in my everyday cooking . I decided on ginger, cardamom and jaggery cupcake. They are all strong flavors but went well together. I topped it with fresh cream frosting.

1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbspoon fresh ginger grated thinly
1 tbspoon candied ginger - I boiled jaggery till it became a thick syrup then added ginger to the mixture. Set it aside to cool.
1/2 tspoon cardamom powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh cream
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted jaggery - jaggery is unrefined sugar. More information here.
2 eggs

For Frosting:
1 small pack heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar

Combine flour with baking soda and salt. Add the ginger, candied ginger and cardamom powder. Add it to the flour.
Mix the melted jaggery slowly to the flour.
Mix the butter and eggs. Add sugar slowly to the butter and egg mix.
Then, mix it slowly to the flour and jaggery mix. Add the cream as needed till it becomes a smooth mix.
I baked it in muffin pan.
Heat the oven to 350 deg F. Bake for about 15 -20 minutes or till the toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely.

For Frosting
Mix them together till stiff peaks form.

This is my entry for Cupcake Round up at Cupcake Bake Shop & Vanilla Garlic.

Update- I am also sending this to Rosie at What's the recipe today, Jim? for JFI-Ginger. Happy Hosting Rosie!

January 25, 2007

Bengali Egg Roll

Egg Roll is a popular roadside snack in Bengal. Made with egg and scrumptious filling of chicken, keema or veggies, it's also known as chicken roll. After Sandeepa mentioned it, I've been craving it and recently tried it at home with veggie - mushroom and green pepper - filling.

There are a few preparatory steps - creating the filling, and the egg tortillas, but you will be coming back for more once you've tried it. After Aswin tried it, all I heard was 'Mmmmm....' and I knew it was good.

Ingredients: Serves 2-3
For Egg Tortilla
6 - Tortillas - I used store bought tortilla
7 - Eggs
salt & pepper to taste
1 tspoon oil

For Filling
1 pack- Mushroom - chopped thinly
1 - Green Pepper - chopped thinly
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
2 - dry red chilli
1/2 tspoon coriander powder
1/2 tspoon chilli powder
1/2 tspoon ginger paste
1/2 tspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
1 tspoon oil

Salad dressing - sliced thinly & mixed together
1 cucumber
1 onion
1 tspoon lemon juice
2 green chillies
salt and pepper to taste

Mint chutney
Tamarind chutney

For Filling
In a pan heat oil and temper it with red chilli and cumin seeds.
Add ginger paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add mushrooms and pepper. Fry well.
Now add chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt.
Cook till it's done.
Set it aside.

Making the Egg Rolls Tortilla
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add salt to taste.
Heat pan with a drop of oil and pour 2 tbspoon of egg mixture (approx) and make a thin film.

Put the tortilla on top before the egg cooks fully.

Flip the tortilla and cook the other side. The egg should be only on one side. The other side is used for filling.

Assembling the Egg Roll

Put the tortilla without the egg side on the board.

Put 1 tbspoon of the mushroom & pepper mixture on the tortilla. Then put a tspoon of the cucumber and onion salad. Top it off with mint or tamarind chutney.

Roll it in a paper and secure it with a toothpick. Serve hot. Enjoy

January 22, 2007

Treat from Home & Meme

I have been craving besan ka laddu for quite some time now. And I mentioned it to my brother during one of our regular conversations. It was a coincidence that a close friend was passing through Delhi around that time. And sure enough, a big Bikanerwala Besan Laddu pack came with my friend.

So for the past couple of days, I have been opening the pack after dinner and savoring a big laddu filled with ghee, pistachios, cashews and of course, love.

Thanks Bro!

Sandeepa has tagged me for the Three Things Meme. Here goes the three things in no particular order.

Three Things that make me laugh
Shows like Goodness Gracious Me & books
My Family

Three Things that make me cry
When the Levees Broke - A Requiem in four Acts By Spike Lee
Good Movies

Three Things that scare me
Stuck in a snow storm with no power & heat
Malicious intents

Three Things I love

My Family & Friends
A good book
A cup of hot ginger tea on a snowy evening

Three Things I'd like to learn
Making Sushi
Another Language
Playing a musical instrument

Three Things on my Desk
Junk Mail - still to be sorted

Three favorite food
Sushi rolls
Mom's Macher Jhol
Mishti Doi

Three beverages I drink regularly

Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid
Enid Blyton
Giant Robot
Mandrake - the magician & Amar Chitra Katha

Three bloggers I would like to tag

It was fun to pause and think about some of my favorite things. I hope you will enjoy it too.

January 18, 2007

GBP - Pasta with Garlic Greens, Artichokes & Olives

I planted garlic after some articles recommended it as a winter plant and I was not disappointed. Within a week, little shoots were springing up and in another two weeks I had my garlic greens ready. When it's cold and grey outside, it's fun to come home and see the greenery.

Since this is so quick and easy, I already have my second batch of garlic greens ready and am also hoping to have garlic for the end of the season. For first timers, this is a great way to get started.

I made pasta using the garlic greens and tossed it with artichokes and black olives. Hmm, it was delicious and filling. I have saved some artichokes and olives and am waiting for the second round of greens. Or maybe I'll try it with cilantro which has two whole leaves :)

4 Garlic Greens - chopped
4-5 artichoke hearts - chopped (I used canned artichokes)
8-10 Black pitted olives - chopped (I used canned olives)
1 tspoon lemon juice
1/2 tspoon - cumin seed powder
1/4 tspoon dry chopped rosemary
1/2 tspoon black pepper - freshly ground
1 tbspoon olive oil
1/3 cup water
salt to taste
Your choice of Pasta - I used wheat pasta

Heat oil in a pan and add the garlic greens and saute till you can smell the garlic.
Add artichokes and olives and mix them well together. Then add the cumin seed powder, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Add water and let it cook on low medium for 7-8 min till everything mixes together.
Stir in the lemon juice and take the sauce off the heat.
In a separate pan boil water with olive oil and salt. Add the pasta and cook as per the instructions on the box.
Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve hot.

This is my second entry for the Winter/Spring 2007 Green Blog Project.
My first entry here.

January 15, 2007

I Live in a Glass Palace!

This is how everything around me looks like - my car, the houses, the trees, even the grass - everything is covered with ice and have icicles hanging on and around them. It seems like I have been transported to a new city where everything is familiar but somehow transformed.

January 13, 2007

The Taste of Small Town India

Cities like Delhi and Bangalore certainly have some very fancy restaurants, and needless to say, the best food isn't necessarily to be found in high-prices places. You are better off at a run-down dhaba in old Delhi or any one of the numerous darshinis that dot Bangalore's landscape. While the range of eating out experiences in a city is quite wonderful, there is still something to be said for small-town India. I still remember, with much fondness, the lip-smacking, finger-licking delights in small, non-descript eateries in towns as diverse as Shahjahanpur (U.P.) and Manipal (Karnataka).

This set of essays in Outlook, inaugurated by none other than Pankaj Mishra, brought back fond memories of eating out in small-town India.

Mishra writes:
These eating places did not invest much in appearances. They looked out on half-open drains, and the flies faced no tougher resistance than a rolled-up newspaper. Calendars of Shiv-ji and Parvati-ji happily ensconced on Mount Kailash, or Vishnu-ji lounging on his sea-bed, usually served as wall decoration. As for service, boys in grimy banians banged the chipped cutlery down on the planks of wood that served as a table; their grubby fingers were often wrapped as much inside as outside the glass of steaming chai.
From Allahabad to Guntur, Varanasi to Surat, Bikaner to Burdwan, and Kohima to Karaikudi, this is a wonderful set of essays that celebrate cheap yet delicious food. And as Mishra suggests, "it is heartening to think that they exist, and even flourish, these oases of culinary diversity in our increasingly homogeneous world."

Mishra's opening essay here, and the others here.

Enjoy reading!

January 11, 2007

Healthy Sabzi of the Week - Zucchini

Now that the last new year sweets, cookies and other goodies have been consumed, new year resolutions have been made and days have a semblance of routine, and I have started complaining about the weather, I know I need to jumpstart my week. So, I am back with the Healthy Sabzi of the Week series.

Let me tell you I was surprised by what I found. I knew that it was a low calorie vegetable, has moderate amounts of potassium and magnesium. But what I didn't know is that it is a good source of Vitamin C. Now who would have thought that! For nutritional and other benefits, click here and here.

This is a easy potato and zucchini recipe. It has nigella (kalonji) as one of the main seasoning and is served dry or with a thick curry. It tastes great in both versions, but I prefer the dry one. The sabzi goes well with parathas.

Ingredients: Serves 2-3
2-3 medium red potatoes
2- zucchini
2 dry red chillis
2 - green chillis
1/2 tspoon nigella seeds
1/4 tspoon methi seeds
small cube - ginger - chopped thinly
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds powder
1/2 tspoon coriander seeds powder
1/4 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt to taste

Method: Clean and cut the potatoes into small cubes.
I like to leave some of the zucchini rind. So I remove the rind of in alternate strips. Cut zucchini into medium cubes.
Heat olive oil in a pan and temper it with nigella seeds, methi seeds, red and green chillis. Add the ginger in a couple of minutes.
Add the potaoes and saute it with a closed lid for 3-4 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin and coriander powder and mix it well.
Now add the zucchini, salt and water and let it cook for 8-10 minutes (closed lid) on medium heat till the water evaporates or the potato is cooked.

Serve hot with roti, or paratha.

January 09, 2007

What's growing in my garden? Can you guess?

Now this is an easy one. This is a chilli plant which had survived the winter thus far. And look, there are little chillis. Recipe with chillis is coming up.

But here is the quiz question. What plant is this? It's used soon after the picture was taken for an amazing chutney. It has a strong smell but not overpowering in this form. Put on the thinking cap and let me know :)

So what is growing in your garden for Green Blog Project - Winter/Spring 2007?

Update: Thanks for playing along. It is a GARLIC plant. I got some for garlic greens recipe (coming up) and am hoping to get some real garlic by the end of the season.

January 06, 2007

My Kitchen

This is a great little project I thought, when I read about the event at Ilva's Lucullian Delights and decided to do a tour of my kitchen too. Since this is a old house (I live on the upper apartment), kitchen would be the first place you will walk into. If you were see my home, kitchen would be the first thing you'll see :)

This is where most of the action happens. You can see the spice rack, oil container, sea salt and pepper grinders (peppers need refilling). The stove with kettle and coffee machine is in the background. The window is right above, so on a sunny morning, this is where I like to be.

Can you see I have made changes to the spice jars to suit the Indian spices? Marjoram has turmeric and Dill Weed had cumin seeds written on the caps:)

This is right opposite to the stove. You can see my dal jars, some recipe books. Recipe notes and printouts are in the wooden box. I picked up the pictures at a street fair in Cambridge, MA and they have traveled with me since then. Below the pictures is a glass table which holds a small electric grill and a toaster. The wooden door opens my pantry. Let's leave it closed for now (it's too messy inside).

In the cabinets above the microwave is where the plates, bowls, glassware, dessert dishes are stacked and the cabinets below hold the pots and pans. And finally, on the right side of the refrigerator is where the doors are - one which leads out and another which leads you inside - to the dining table.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Shall we have a cup of hot chai? :)

January 03, 2007

Mulligatawny Soup

Ever since I saw Kramer in Seinfeld try Mulligatawny Soup in the Soup Nazi episode, I was curious to try it. Then I found out that the name is originally derived from Indian Millagu Thanni (pepper water). Hmm. More research showed that pepper is no longer a main ingredient but coconut milk is. Then Ashwini at Food for Thought announced Jihva for Coconut and gave me the perfect excuse to make this soup.

According to historians, Mulligatawny Soup was modified by the 18th century Britishers and it quickly became a favorite. One of the favorite versions of the recipe is recorded by Eliza Acton in her 1845 cookbook "Modern Cookery for Private Families".
More history here and here.

I looked at several recipes in different websites and finally chose the one at allrecipes.com. And I have to confess, I took the easy way out. I made several changes to the ingredients, put them in the slow cooker and left the house. When I came back after 4-5 hours, the house was filled with the aroma of the Mulligatawny soup. The soup was thick, creamy and delicious. And as you have probably guessed, I did not put my soup in the blender. Instead, I enjoyed the chunky soup with some nice toasted rye bread.

Here is how I made it.

1 tspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic - grated
2 tspoon grated ginger
2 green chillis - slit
1/4 tspoon cloves powder
1 tspoon coriander powder
1 tspoon cumin seed powder
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
4 pods cardamom - crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 broccoli crown - chopped
2 carrots- chopped
1 large potato - peeled and chopped in small cubes
2-3 celery sticks -chopped
1 apple - peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup black beans (you can also use any lentils of your choice)
2/3 cup rice - half cooked
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1 tbspoon lemon juice
1 tbspoon fresh cilantro - chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

The method is the easy part if you decide to give the slow cooker a try.
Heat the oil in a pan and temper it with ginger, garlic, chillis. Then added the cardamom and cinnamom. Saute it for a couple of minutes. Do not brown the onions.
Add the spice mix to the slow cooker.
Then add the vegetables, beans, rice, vegetable broth, coconut milk, water, turmeric powder , cumin and coriander powder, cloves powder, lime juice and salt.
Put the slow cooker on low setting and let it cook for 6-7 hours as per your cooker directions.
Stir well to mix it together.
Garnish with fresh cilantro, pepper and serve.

This hearty soup is my entry for Jihva for Coconut being hosted by Ashwini at fabulous Food for Thought.


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