Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wheat Pita with Zucchini Fritters

No recipe for this one, because I'm lazy it's simple. The pita recipe is from one of the innumerable ones online, but it's a work in progress as I get the feel for the dough. The zucchini fritters are just shredded zucchini lightly cooked with spices and then crumbed and fried.

I think I'll dedicate this post to the beauty that is the pickled gherkin, and let's throw in a spicy jalapeno as well. I always ask for extra in my subs, sandwiches and burritos. Combined with crunchy iceberg lettuce, I don't think there's anything more one could ask for.  I certainly don't. It's so fresh and bursting with flavor that I think any such bread with filling combo would top my list of what one food I would eat for the rest of my life. It inspires me. So much so that once, I wrote a review (anonymously) that perfectly captures what I feel and (tsk, tsk) who I am:

'No, I don't want anything', I insisted. So my partner went ahead and got himself a veg burrito and placed it carefully in the fridge that night. The next morning, I woke up starving. The silver foil shone enticingly and being a believer of fate, I reached out and grabbed the damn thing.
Knife in hand, I went back in and cut myself one quarter of the burrito- coz my parents raised me right. I know what's fair and what's not. I ate it. It was..... I'm not a weird-sound-making person when it comes to food, but I made 'em. Many of  'em.
I looked at him. He was sleeping. Partners in life, I told myself as I cut another quarter. It disappeared, along with my righteous upbringing. I peered at him for a couple of seconds to make sure he wasn't showing signs of regaining consciousness. If he had, I planned to use the pillow.
When I threw the foil in the trash a few minutes later, I felt cheated. What kind of man doesn't buy another burrito for his woman, even if she insists? I need to rethink this relationship. But I know where I stand with (brand) burritos. We've mated for life.

Chapathi Dough Minions

Meet Beetroot Butt Horn and Spinach Spit Pox...(minions born in Jan, 2014)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sweet Potato Filled Zucchini Parcel on Barley Salad

The whole cooking spree that's been going on this month was inspired by my tiny vacation in December. I stayed with a friend in Bangalore and we dined at this quaint place called 'Red Fork'. I had a dish similar to this one there, and it was absolutely delicious. There was a strong feeling in me at the end of the meal- I really want to eat delicious well-presented food often, and the healthier, the better. I've been able to make quite a few dishes since. It's a nice feeling- one that would be even better if a professional cook materialized in my kitchen ever so often, but hey, my millionaire days are just around the corner ;)

This dish is quite easy and quick. Tastes really nice too.

For the Barley Salad

4 tbsp cooked barley
1/2 cup of steamed peas and carrots
3 each roasted and halved cashewnuts and almonds
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and paper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and set aside.

For the Filling

2 tbsp mashed, cooked sweet potato
salt and pepper to taste
dry herbs (optional)

Mix all the ingredients into a mash and set aside.

For the Zucchini cover

Cut the zucchini into long strips lengthwise, about 2 mm thick.
Marinate in salt, pepper and lemon juice for an hour.

On a grill pan, add a dash of olive oil and cook the zucchini until soft.

Assembly: Place the salad on  a dish. Shape the sweet potato mash into a cube. Place 4 zucchini strips- in the shape of a cross- two lengthwise, two across. Place the mash in the center and fold the zucchini around it.

I felt that the dish could have benefited with something wet- either a creamy or a zesty sauce.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Baked Broccoli and Cauliflower in Herbed Oats

So when I decided to bake these flowers today, I knew I didn't want something heavy- no eggs, cheese and stuff. So what's a good binding agent then for this bake? Oats. I cooked the oats, looked at it and went, ewwwww! I don't wanna eat oats. But that was an unimaginitive reaction.

Once I hit those oats with herbs and breadcrumbs and spice, it was a thing of beauty. The flowers baked in it well and added their own aroma. This recipe is a keeper since it is a low-fat one pot dish, and those are my favorite kind.

Baked Broccoli and Cauliflower in Herbed Oats

1/2 cup oats
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 tbsp oil
20 almonds, in slivers
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
3 cups of broccoli and cauliflower florets
6 tbsp chopped spring onion leaves
salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp chilli flakes, 
2 tsp each dried oregano, parsley
breadcrumbs, as needed.

Cook the oats in the milk and water just so that the oats lose shape.
Cool a bit. To it, add the oil, almond slivers, peanuts, spring onion leaves, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, dried oregano and parsley. 
Place the florets in a baking dish and pour this oats sauce over it. 
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and gently fold it in a bit, making sure not to incorporate it fully. 
Bake at 180 C for 45 mins.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Whole Wheat Pasta with Almond Basil Pesto

Long ago, I made pasta. Today, I made it again. Some people never learn.

Moving on to the less painful part of this plate- pesto! I love pesto. I could write a poem about it. Like 'Pesto, it's besto, makes me zesto!' I could go on. But I'll just say- this is a good combo. I halved the amount of basil leaves other recipes call for because I don't like being overwhelmed with that particular flavor.

Since I must, I'll touch on the pasta a bit. It's plain wheat flour with salt and water. I didn't fancy putting eggs in there, so its your basic chapathi dough. Lessons learnt:

1) Don't overcook the pasta. Hover over the boiling water like an overprotective mother.
2)  Don't be a hero. Don't use a bottle cap and make circles with the pasta dough because it'll 'look cute'. It's not worth it. Just saying. Random suggestion.
3) Don't be an idiot. Just buy the god-damned pasta.

Almond Basil Pesto

1 cup almonds, dry roasted
1 cup of basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 dried red chilly
1/2 tsp salt

Blitz the almonds first- just one or two pulses. Then add the other ingredients and pulse a few times to get a coarse paste. This is drier than usual, so add olive oil or water to make it smoother. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Veg Rolls with Sesame Dipping Sauce

With the new year, I've decided to cling less to sadness and be more open to joy. Though my father's passing will long remain in a corner of my heart, screaming fiercely, I hope to learn to live with it and still find happiness. It's kinda living next to railway tracks, I imagine- how people there live and sleep as if all the rattling and noise doesn't matter. One can get used to almost anything.

So instead of the usual, 'Bah! New Year is meaningless, it's just an arbitrary point on a man-made clock', I did things differently today. I made an effort.

In Bangkok, I frequented a salad bar in a market that had the most amazing sesame dressing. The nutty flavor made me a life-long fan. With these rice paper rolls, I decided to make a dipping sauce that could compare. I'm not a fan of soy sauce, vinegar, etc., mainly because I use them so rarely, they expire in the fridge, bottles almost still full.

This has got be to be the simplest sesame sauce, but it packs flavor, and doesn't need fancy (to me) ingredients!

Dry roasted sesame seeds - 4 tbsp
Dry red chilli - 1
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Process: Blitz the dry roasted sesame seeds- because of their natural oils, you'll get a powder-paste consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend. That's it! 

I think I'll try it with a dash of honey as well next time around. As for the rice paper rolls, this filling was a lightly sauteed mixture of thinly sliced carrots, onions and bell peppers with fresh lettuce from our terrace garden. For my mom, I made a version with slivers of fried potatoes. I love foods like this that are open to endless variety and experimentation.

I hope the new year brings such discovery to us all, outside the kitchen and beyond! :)