Monthly Archives: September 2011

BWW – Muffins

Linked to Susan’s Black and White Wednesdays.

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Potatoes and Phone calls

Ring Ring Ring… That’s the imaginary phone ringing. “Hello” says Mittu, pretending to pick the call.

Now this is when I start listening, cause unlimited fun comes from these phone calls. I wasn’t disappointed.

“That was grandma”. Said Mittu to me. “Oh How is she?” I asked.

“Not good. She fell down and broke her hand”. “I am so sorry, how did it happen?” I asked.

Mittu : “Grandma fell from the top of a mountain!”

Me: “Huh!!! What was she doing up there?”

Mittu: “Grandma doesn’t like her kitchen since there is no fan in there. So she went to the top of the mountain and finished her cooking there. When she was bringing the food to the table, she stumbled over a chair and fell flat.”

Me: “How did she get the table there?”

Mittu:”Oh, grandpa carried a ladder and a slide on one hand, and the table on the other.”

Me: “A slide and a ladder!!??”

Mittu: “Yeah, Don’t you know how difficult it is to climb a mountain!! Ladder makes it easy. And slide is so that you can come down pretty easy and quick.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s really clever.”

Mittu:”Now, I gotta go and see grandma in the hospital. Hope they have a spare hand to replace the one that broke.” And off she goes in her scooter to our sofa (the hospital apparently). She talks softly to her grandma and reports that things are fine.

In the background, my son is now picking up another imaginary call. I bet that is going to be fun too!

You have no idea how difficult it is to keep a straight face during these conversations. A hint of smile in your face and they run away, accusing you of mocking them. I am storing my laughter and would go to the bathroom and laugh it till tears roll from my eyes.

All this happened while I was making Kumbhakonam Kadappa for Radhika’s Blog Hop Wednesdays.

Another edition of Blog Hop Wednesdays and my blog for this week is the awesome Bon Appetit by Priya Sreeram. I had chosen at least six recipes before finalizing on this Kumbhakonam Kadappa recipe. Hop on to her place for a menu with so much of variety that its confusing to choose one!

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes                     :    3 medium
  • Moong Dal                 :    1/2 cup, uncooked
  • Onion                           :    1, chopped
  • Garlic                           :    2-3 pods, chopped fine
  • Green Chillies           :    3, chopped fine
  • Curry leaves             :    1 sprig
  • Mustard seeds          :   1 tsp
  • Water                           :    2-3 cups, adjust according to the consistency required
  • Oil                                  :   1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
Grind Together
  • Roasted Bengal Gram  :  1 1/2 tbsp
  • Fennel seeds                   :   1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds            :    1 tsp
  • Coconut                            :    1/4 cup, scraped
  • Tomato                             :    1 medium

Method:

  1. Wash the dal and potatoes. Skin the potatoes, dice them into big cubes.
  2. Pressure cook potatoes and dal with enough water (about 1 1/2 cups) for three whistles.
  3. Once done, mash the dal fine, but keep the potatoes a bit chunky. Keep aside.
  4. Grind together the items under the list for grinding.
  5. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the curry leaves, onion, chillies and garlic.
  6. Once the onions turn brown, add the ground paste and fry for 2-3 minutes till the raw smell goes off.
  7. Add the mashed dal and potatoes. Add 1-2 cups of water and cook for about 10 minutes.
  8. The consistency should be fairly thick, but not too thick either.
  9. Optional step : Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add a chopped onion and 2-3 chopped green chillies. Saute till onions are done and pour on top of the prepared curry.
  10. Serve with dosa or idly. Serves 6 – 8.

Note:

These taste the best with dosa or idly. With rice, it tastes no different than a dal.

And does anyone have a grandma who goes to cook in the mountains because they don’t have a fan in the kitchen?

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Croissants – Daring Bakers Challenge, Sep 2011

The scales had given the warning (a long long time ago), but I was in the denial mode. I am just pleasantly plump, not fat at all. But I couldn’t turn a blind eye when I was no longer fitting into old garments of mine. Forget old ones, I was not even fitting into some of my new ones!!

So there is no other go, but to accept that I may be a teeny tiny bit overweight. Solution : Butter & Sugar Break (I still have lots of dresses in which I fit in, so exercise and diet are not in the current picture at all).

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Now comes the toughest decision of this month, to bake or not to bake Croissants. Making croissants is time consuming process, depends to some extend on the weather and is full of butter! BUTTER!

I am not great friends with butter now. Also, I am not a great baker, so I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull these off. What if, after completing all the 57 steps in the given recipe, my Croissants fail? Knowing my cooking skills, you cannot rule that possibility out!

I was wondering whether I should sit this one out. But then, as I was looking at the completed challenges, I knew I had to give this a try. It was really inspiring to see so much of enthusiasm and talent in there. You rock, Daring Bakers!

I am glad I tried this, because though the procedure seemed scary at first, the actual work wasn’t that difficult. Its just that you have to chill the dough many times in between. I was really proud of myself when I finally took these out of the oven. They are not perfect or really great, but for a first attempt, they are quite decent.

My husband doesn’t have a sweet tooth and it takes a lot of bugging to get him eat a piece of cake or cookie I make. But he really loved these and polished off four of these in one sitting. Between him and my son, I could stick to my ‘butter break’ to a good extend(Ok – I cheated a bit, but only a tiny bit!).

Ingredients

  • Dry-active yeast                :  1 tsp
  • Warm water                         :  3 tablespoons (45 ml)  (less than 100°F/38°C)
  • Sugar                                      : 1 teaspoon
  • Strong plain flour              : 1 3/4 cups
  • Sugar                                      : 2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm)
  • Salt                                          : 1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm)
  • Milk                                         : ½ cup (120 ml/¼ pint)
  • Oil                                            : 2 tablespoons
  • Butter                                     : ½ cup/115 gm chilled, unsalted
  • 1 egg, for egg wash

Method:

  1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
  2. Heat the milk until tepid and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.
  3. Knead the dough eight to ten times. Place the dough in the bowl, and place the bowl in a plastic bag. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.
  4.  After the dough has tripled in size, place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches.
  5. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up). Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge.
  6. Once the dough has doubled, place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
  7. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
  8. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.
  9. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches. Fold in three, as before. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising).
  10. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle. Cut the dough into two equal rectangles. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches. Cut the rectangle into three squares. Place two of the squares in the fridge. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square.
  11. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles. Stretch the triangle out a little,into an isosceles triangle. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
  12. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely.
  14. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Note:
You can find the original recipe here.  I found this post on Croissants extremely useful.
Props and setting by my son!
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Missi Roti

Hubby was working late this entire week and he is at the office this weekend too. So I am taking life easy, with no or little cooking at home. If kiddo was not at home, I would have survived the week solely on chocolate biscuits and chips! But since that is not an option (sigh!), I made these Missi rotis than give the dinner a miss.

I saw the recipe here and gave it a try. The roti was like eating an onion bajji. It tasted absolutely fantastic.

Now I know what to do with the extra bag of Besan sitting inside the pantry!

Ingredients:

  • Wheat Flour                           :      1 1/2 cups
  • Gram Flour (Besan)            :      1 cup
  • Onion                                        :      1 small, chopped fine
  • Green Chilli                            :      1-2, chopped fine
  • Coriander leaves                 :       2 tbsp, chopped fine
  • Kasoori Methi                       :       1 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder                :       1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Powder               :       1 tsp
  • Fennel Seeds Powder         :       1 tsp
  • Chaat Masala                         :       1 tsp
  • Water, to make the dough
  • Ghee, as required
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Mix everything together, except water and ghee.
  2. Add water in 1/4 cupfuls and kneed to get a smooth chapati dough.
  3. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes (at least).
  4. Take a small ball of dough, dust with flour and roll out into a 5″-6″ circle.
  5. Heat a tawa and cook the roti for a minute. Flip over and cook the other side too.
  6. Take off the tawa, spread ghee on top.
  7. Serve with yogurt and pickle (if you are lazy, like me, to cook a side dish)

Linked to:

  • Susan’s MLLA, hosted by Cathy for September

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Hot, Sweet and Sour!

As usual, I was standing in the bus stop, to pick up kiddo after school. The school bus came, dropped him and dropped a bomb shell along with that : Kiddo’s mid-term vacation starts from Saturday, not from Tuesday as informed earlier.

Technically if you look at it, its just Monday that they have declared a holiday. But there was so much of hope in that one day, that I cannot express in words! I stood there rooted for a whole minute before I could move.

Any way, now that I know, the next step is to lure my next door neighbor Mittu (6 year old girl) to play with my son. I do everything short of putting candies in a line from her place to mine, to get her to play with my son. I have volunteered with full enthusiasm to baby sit her for the holidays.

So as I am preparing myself for nonstop noise, house full of clutter, ‘(S)he did it first!’ complaints, crying & fighting episodes and damage to the house (yet to fix the curtain rod from last time), I am sharing a recipe here that has a bit of everything going through my mind – sweet, spicy, salty and a bit tangy, but something that you won’t mind doing again and again.

Ingredients: 

  • Baby Potatoes                :    12 – 15, cut into wedges
  • Sesame Oil                       :     2-3 tbsp
  • Onions                               :    1, sliced thin
  • Garlic                                 :    1 -2 pods, crushed and chopped
  • Tomatoes                         :    2, chopped
  • Capsicum                         :     1/2 of a big one, chopped
  • Chilli Powder                 :      1 tsp
  • Soya sauce                      :      1 – 2 tsp
  • Sugar                                 :      1 tsp

Method:

  1. Cut the potatoes into wedges and shallow fry in sesame oil. Drain and set aside in a paper napkin.
  2. In the remaining oil in the pan, add the onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook till onions are done.
  3. Add the tomatoes and chilli powder. Cook till the tomatoes are done.
  4. Add the Soya sauce, salt and sugar. Cook for 2 minutes more and take off the heat.
  5. Add salt to the potato wedges and mix thoroughly. Serve with the hot and sweet sauce over it.
  6. Perfect with rice varieties, rotis or noodles.

Note:

I found this recipe here, who found it in my namesake’s site :)

I spooned the sauce over plain rice and served with potatoes on the side for my son. He loved it that way.

And yes, its really heavenly!

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BWW – Marinated Potatoes

Linked to Susan’s Black and White Wednesdays.

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BWW – Tea Bags

Linked to Susan’s Black and White Wednesdays.

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Memories and Moru Curries

Food that evokes memories is the best kind. Like this Moru Kaachiyathu. The minute I saw this, my mind went into flashback mode.

Before my marriage when I was staying with my friends, we had a cook to make dinner for us. The first day of her cooking, we found a tail in the gravy that she had made. Not one tail, but many!! Suspicious, worried and curious, my friend picked up the tail slowly and along with the tail came a whole brinjal!

Apparently it was one of our cook’s specialties : Ennai Kathirikkai. For this, you slit a whole brinjal all the way through and cook it in the gravy. We didn’t know that.

My friend tried tasting it, didn’t find it to her taste. She went inside the kitchen and made this moru kaachiyathu. Our cook did a  decent job for us, but still many a times, my friend’s moru curry would appear in the dining table.

The taste, the simplicity and the warmth of it still hasn’t left me.

So when I saw this in Ramya’s blog, my bookmarked blog for Blog Hop Wednesdays, I couldn’t help making it. I made her small potato spicy curry also to serve along this Kaachiya moru. Head out to Ramya’s blog for some awesome Kerala (as well as non Kerala) cuisine.

Ingredients: Kachiya Moru

  • Yogurt                               :           2 cups
  • Water                                 :           1 cup
  • Salt                                      :           to taste
Tempering
  • Small Onions                   :          4-5 sliced
  • Green Chillies                 :          1-2, sliced fine
  • Ginger                                :          1/2″ piece, chopped fine
  • Garlic                                 :          1 clove, chopped fine
  • Red Chilli                          :          1
  • Mustard Seeds               :           1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds           :           1 tsp
  • Curry leaves                   :           a few
  • Turmeric Powder         :           1/2 tsp
  • Oil                                        :          1-2 tsp

Method:

  1. Whisk the yogurt, salt and water thoroughly. Keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the red chillies and mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
  3. Wait for a minute for the fenugreek seeds to brown and then add the onions, chillies, ginger, and garlic. Cook till the onion changes color. Add the turmeric powder and cook for one more minutes.
  4. Turn the heat to low and add about 2-3 tbsp water. This is to bring the heat down before we add the yogurt.
  5. Now, add the yogurt mixture, stirring continuously. When it gets warm, turn off the heat and remove the vessel from the stove. Else the yogurt might curdle.
  6. Serve with rice and spicy potato curry.

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Spinach Chickpea Soup

It was raining outside and very nice and cool inside the house. The sweet smell of rain,  a mood to cook something different, to see my loved ones enjoying their food, the satisfaction coming from that… all that inspired me to cook this wonderful soup.

Or you can say that a bunch of spinach leaves about to wilt, chickpeas frozen to death, potatoes dying for attention and immense laziness to cook up a whole dinner led me to whip this up.

Whatever be the reason to cook, this garlic flavored soup tasted wonderful. With potatoes and chickpeas in it, you can have them as the main meal itself (there by saving yourself the trouble of cooking anything more).

Warm toasted bread, a bowl of hot soup, great company, candle light dinner and rain outside. Cannot ask for more in life! (hmmm…may be for the power to come back soon!)

Ingredients:

  • Onion                              :   1, chopped
  • Garlic                              :   4 cloves, chopped
  • Spinach                          :   1 bunch, cleaned and chopped
  • Chana/Chick pea        :   400 gms, cooked
  • Potatoes                         :   3 big, cooked and chopped
  • Fennel Powder             :   1 tsp
  • Coriander Powder      :   1 tsp
  • Milk                                  :    2/3 cup (or Cream)
  • Corn Flour                     :   1 tbsp
  • Stock                                :   4 cups
  • Tahini paste                  :   1 tbsp
  • Olive oil                          :   1 tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, add the onions and garlic. When the onion turns brown, add the cumin or fennel powder and coriander powder. Cook for 2 minutes and add the spinach.
  2. When the spinach is slightly done, add 3 cups of water or vegetable stock. I used Maggi stock cubes for this.
  3. Add the cooked potatoes and chickpea now. Let everything come to a boil.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the cornflour, tahini paste(if using), milk, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly so that there aren’t any dry lumps of corn flour.
  5. Add this to the soup and let it all come to a boil. Cook for another 5 minutes, check and adjust seasonings according to your taste. Take off the heat and serve hot.

Note:

I have adapted this from Linda Fraser’s book : The Vegetarian Kitchen.

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Mac and Cheese

I am home now, after visiting my brother for four days.

My 3.5 months old niece is not only the cutest baby I have seen, she is the smartest one too. In a short span of 3.5 months, she has trained my brother and sister-in-law efficiently.

She has categorized a sound system for hunger and boredom. If one gets it wrong, she would let out a war cry. Why, she had me trained in just two days!

Niecey has a way of asking us to pick her up by trying to lift her body. If you don’t pick her up, then you get a nice scolding from her in her own language. She goes ‘Wah Wah Wah’ like Donald Duck does, when he gets angry.

Well, the cute way in which she asks to be lifted, no one can resist picking her up actually.

I miss her a lot, now that I am back home. Her ‘Waaahs’ and ‘Ga Ga’s and ‘AHHHHH’s are still fresh in my mind. I sometimes have this crazy thought of catching a train and going back to see her, and ‘Goo Goo’ with her.

Well, can’t do crazy things (anymore), so just made some Mac and Cheese, the ultimate comfort food and ate my way through.

I had a Linky Party Invitation from Tina Hudgens of MOMS CRAZY COOKING last month. Not one to miss any kind of party, I hopped in. So here I am, with the MAC and CHEESE, for the first

You can check out here to see the fellow bloggers take on Macaroni and Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • Macaroni or Pasta of any shape        :       1/2 cup
  • Spinach leaves                                          :      10 large leaves, chopped fine
  • Onion                                                            :      1 small, chopped fine
  • Potato                                                           :      1/2 small, boiled and mashed
  • Milk                                                                :      1/2 cup
  • Cheese of your choice                            :      1/4 – 1/2 cup
  • Garlic                                                             :      1-2 cloves, chopped fine
  • Turmeric Powder                                     :       1/4 tsp (optional)
  • Butter                                                            :       1 – 2 tsp
  • Salt & Pepper

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Keep aside.
  2. Heat butter in a pan, add the onion and garlic. When the onion turns brown, add the spinach leaves and turmeric powder (if using), salt and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes till the spinach is cooked.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes. Mix well and add the milk. Once the milk boils, add the pasta and the cheese.
  4. Let the cheese melt. Adjust the sauce consistency by adding more milk (if sauce is too thick) or a bit more of mashed potato (if the sauce is watery).
  5. Serve warm.

Note:

Recipe serves one hungry 5 year old.

I have adapted the recipe from Radhika’s blog. Head out to her blog for awesome photos and the original recipe. I have just doubled the quantity to suit my needs.

Like the cup says, this goes best with a hug :-)

You can check out here to see the fellow bloggers take on Macaroni and Cheese.

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