Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tea party - Mini pecan pies and potato pea cups

I like all food that come in small packages. Precisely, why I loved making these mini pecan pies and potato pea cups. Both these recipes are from fellow bloggers, except that I made a few changes to the recipes.

Mini Pecan Pies
I followed the same recipe from Ahaar. Instead of pouring the filling in a 9-inch pie crust, I used mini graham cracker pie crusts. For this recipe, I used the filling for 12 mini pie crusts. I used light corn syrup and also added chopped pecans to the filling. Of course, I did top off the pies with pecans again. I used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of 1 cup. Click here for the original recipe. I baked the pies for about 40 to 45 minutes. Do keep an eye on these pies as you might end up baking them too much. If you do that, the corn syrup will crystallize and the center of the pie will become very hard. Serve these mini wonders with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Baked mini pecan pies
Potato pea cups
This is a savory treat I absolutely loved making. Once done, they look like a piece of art and are a big hit as a starter to any meal. I came across this recipe at Priya's Kitchen. Click here for the original recipe. Here is my recipe.

2 medium potatoes (boiled and mashed)
1/2 cup of green peas
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 tsp of red chilli powder
1/2 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
Salt to taste
Oil as needed
Pepperidge Farm Puff pastry sheets
1 egg (beaten) for egg wash (you can use butter too)

1. Sauté the onions in a pan with a little oil until soft.
2. Add the green peas and sauté till tender.
3. Add the mashed potatoes, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt and mix till everything is well blended.
4. Thaw the puff pastry sheets and cut into squares (you can make 9 squares from one sheet).
5. Brush with egg wash on both sides and place in a big muffin pan.
6. Put a tbsp of the potato-pea filling and bake at 425°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown and flaky.
7. Top it off with the sweet and sour chutney and serve warm.

Potato pea cups
Sweet and sour chutneyFor the sweet and sour chutney I used store-bought chutney and followed this recipe:
1 tsp of coriander paste
1 tsp of mint paste
1 tsp of date-tamarind chutney

Mix all the above in a bowl and garnish the potato-pea cups when they come out of the oven.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Grits Upma Kozkhakattai

Health recipe!
Upma kozhakattai (steamed rice dumplings) is a traditional South Indian recipe made with rice. You can either eat it as a snack or for dinner. It is usually served with chutney and sambar on the side. For my recipe, I substituted the rice with Quaker Grits (the instant variety) - you will find grits in the cereal aisle in grocery stores. Click here to read more about grits. I made ridge gourd chutney and onion sambar to go along with it. Here are the recipes:

Upma Kozhakattai

2 cups Quaker grits
1/2 cup thuvar dal
1 tbsp grated coconut
2 red chillies (broken)
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro (chopped finely)
Few curry leaves (chopped)
1 tsp of mustard
1 tsp of urad dal (black gram dal)
1 tsp of channa dal
1/2 tsp of jeera
1/2 tsp of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

1. Soak the thuvar dal in hot water for about 1-2 hours.
2. Grind the thuvar dal with red chillies and jeera and set aside. You can add water while grinding the dal as you can use this dal mixture as a water measure.
3. Pour oil in a pan and season with mustard, urad dal, channa dal and curry leaves.
4. Add the asafoetida and mix well.
5. Next you have to add water to the pan as you need to cook the grits and dal in water. You have to add two cups of water for one cup of grits/dal. So, here we have 2 1/2 cups of grits/dal and need 5 cups of water. Remember, to measure out the dal paste first. So, if you have 2 cups of the dal mixture, then add 3 more cups of water.
6. Add salt, coconut and cilantro to the dal paste/water in the pan and let it boil.

Dal paste/water coming up to a boil
7. Once the liquid comes up to a boil, reduce the heat and slowly add the grits. This process is very similar to making our regular upma.
8. Cover the pan and cook till the grits becomes soft. This will take somewhere between 10-15 minutes. Add water if you feel the grits is uncooked and cook for some more time. Do not completely cook the mixture.
9. Set aside and once you feel you can handle the mixture (when slightly warm) roll into oval shaped balls and steam them for 10 minutes. I used a steamer tray on a big pot of water.
Upma Kozhakattai ready to be steamed
10. Remove and serve hot with chutney and sambar.
11. You can also put the cooled kozhakattai's in an air tight box or freezer safe bag and store in the freezer. When you are ready to eat them, simply microwave for a few minutes and you will have steaming and fresh rice dumplings ready in minutes.
Upma Kozhakattai ready to be steamed
Recipe courtesy: Laxmi Ramachandran
Ridge gourd chutney
Ingredients2 cups of chopped ridge gourd pieces (you can leave the skin on if you like)
2-3 red chillies
1/2 tsp of tamarind paste
2 pods of garlic
1 tsp mustard
2 tsps of urad dal (black gram dal)
1/2 tsp of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

Method1. Fry the mustard, urad dal, red chillies and asafoetida in 1 tsp of oil and set aside.
2. Sauté the garlic.
3. In the same pan add the ridge gourd pieces and fry till they become a little soft.
4. Transfer all the above to a blender, add the tamarind paste and grind to a paste.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. Serve with idli or dosa.

Onion sambar
Ingredients1 cup thuvar dal
1 onion
1 tomato
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp methi seeds
2-3 red chillies
A few curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp of Laxmi brand natural tamarind concentrate (if you are using fresh tamarind soak and squeeze out water from a lime-sized ball of tamarind)
2 tsp Sambar Powder (any brand or home made)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

Method1. Pressure cook the thuvar dal and set aside.
2. Pour oil in a pan and season with mustard, methi seeds, red chillies and curry leaves.
3. Add the chopped onions and sauté until soft.
4. Add the tamarind paste and 2 cups of water.
5. Then add the chopped tomatoes, sambar powder, red chilli powder and asafoetida.
6. Let the tamarind mixture boil for about 10 minutes or until the raw smell disappears.
7. Mash the thuvar dal a little and add to the tamarind water.
8. Add salt and let the sambar come up to a boil.
9. Garnish with cilantro (optional).

Note: You can add veggies to this sambar if you like. I make plain onion sambar as it is easy to eat especially with snacks.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chocolate cupcakes with egg replacer

Health recipe!
Yes, I finally found a substitute to eggs (especially for baking). Not that I am averse to adding eggs, but the egg replacer adds fewer more calories to your cakes and cupcakes. I was so excited when I came across an article in the January 2007 issue of the Vegetarian Times magazine - that talked about egg replacer. You will be amazed to know that egg replacer does not have any egg at all! Instead it is a combination of tapioca starch, potato starch and leaveners that keeps baked goods moist and light. I immediately rushed to the Whole Foods market (you will find egg replacer in all natural food stores) and bought the egg replacer. The one that I bought is made by Ener-G-Foods. And I had to test out and find for myself if this was really good enough. So, I made the The-Devil-in-Me Double Chocolate Cup Cakes from Meena’s Hooked on heat. The result: delicious, moist, fluffy cup cakes.

A fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes straight out of the oven
You can pretty much follow the same recipe from Hooked on Heat for baking these cupcakes. All you need to do is replace the eggs with 3 tsps of egg replacer mixed in 4 tbps of water (the recipe calls for 2 eggs). The math is: you have to use 1 1/2 tsp of egg replacer for one egg. Remember, to dissolve the powder in 2 tbps of warm water before you add it to the remaining ingredients. Otherwise, the cake will not turn out fluffy enough.
The Devil in me Double Chocolate cupcakes
For sure, baked goods with egg replacer will be lower in calories and cholesterol than compared to the ones with eggs. One measure of egg replacer (1 1/2 tsp=1 egg) adds only 15 calories to your recipe. What's more, there is zero cholesterol.
Makes about 30 mini cup cakes

Friday, January 19, 2007

Food bites

A few days ago, I bought a whole wheat baguette from Whole Foods Market. I made two bite-sized snacks out of the baguette. One is the chocolate panini sandwich, that I made in my new panini maker. The other is bruschetta. Here are the recipes for both these bite-sized goodies.

Chocolate Panini sandwich

Ingredients8 slices of whole wheat baguette (cut them into 1 inch thick rounds)
4 tsps of Trade Joes Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (you can also use Nutella)
Pam fat-free butter spray

Method1. Spray one side of the baguette with Pam spray.
2. Place the buttered side on the panini maker and spread out the chocolate-hazelnut cream.
3. Cover it with another baguette - buttered side up.
4. Close the panini grill and gently press down on the baguettes.
5. It will take you about 3 to 4 minutes depending on your panini maker.
6. Remove from panini maker when the baguette is brown and you notice deep grill marks.
7. Serve warm. Makes a great dessert.
8. Makes 4 servings.
Chocolate panini sandwiches

IngredientsA couple of whole wheat baguette slices (cut into 1/2 inch thin rounds)
Pam fat-free olive oil spray
Store-bought bruschetta (I used the bruschetta from Trader Joes - check the end of this post for a quick-bruschetta recipe)
1 pod of fresh garlic

Method1. Spray the baguette slices with the olive oil spray and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for about 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown.
2. Remove from the oven and immediately rub the garlic on the warm bread.
3. Line up on a tray and top with the bruschetta.
4. Serve with pasta or salad.
Warm garlic bread served with bruschetta

Quick bruschetta
5 or 6 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red onion
1/2 tsp of dried basil (use can use fresh basil too)
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste (you can also use red chilli pepper flakes)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or regular olive oil

Method1. Cut the tomatoes into half and remove the seeds. Chop the tomato finely.
2. Chop the onions and the cilantro finely.
3. Transfer the tomatoes, onions and cilantro to a bowl.
4. Add the minced garlic, basil, salt, pepper and cilantro and mix well.
5. Finally add the extra virgin olive oil.

Optional: You can place the tomato-onion mixture on the baguette and top it off with the olive oil instead of mixing it into the mixture.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Banana pepper curry

So, finally here is the banana pepper curry recipe. Infact, these peppers were labeled as Hot Fryer Peppers at our local farmers' market. When I checked, they said these are also called as banana peppers. So, you can pretty much use any pepper/chilli that resembles the banana pepper. I wanted to make a rich gravy curry out of these peppers but ended up making a dry curry (getting more health conscious of late).

Ingredients5 or 6 banana peppers
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust accordingly as the peppers are quite hot)
A pinch of turmeric
1 tsp of ICP1/2 tsp of mustard
1/2 tsp of jeera
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

Method1. Chop the banana peppers, potato and onions.
2. Pour oil in a pan and season with mustard and jeera.
3. Add the onions and sauté until transparent.
4. Add the peppers, potato, turmeric, red chilli powder, ICP and salt and cook till the vegetable get tender.
Serve with rice or roti.

Serving size - 1/2 cup
Number of servings – 10

Instant Curry Powder (ICP)

This is a recipe from my friend Geetha, who lives in India. It's a very versatile powder that can be used for almost any vegetable - dondakkaya, brinjal, potato, green beans, bottle gourd, broad beans, raw banana, bell pepper, etc. I will be referring to this powder as ICP in my future posts. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients1 1/2 cup coriander seeds
1 cup channa dal (gram dal)
1 cup red chillies
1/2 cup dry coconut flakes (unsweetened)

Method1. Dry roast the ingredients one by one in a pan.
2. Set aside to cool.
3. Make a coarse powder in the blender and store in an airtight jar.

Note: Reduce the overall spice when you are using this powder because the ICP has red chillies in it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Pongal

Wish all of you a happy pongal!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baby potato~cherry tomato~green peas gravy

This is my contribution to Creative Pooja's veggie of the week - tomato. Infact, I got the idea for this recipe from Pooja's baby potato-cherry tomato curry. So, I made a gravy and added the baby potatoes and cherry tomatoes along with green peas for more texture. The result: a delicious lightly-spiced gravy with the flavor of cherry tomatoes bursting in your mouth.

Ingredients8 or 10 baby potatoes
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup green peas
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
2 tsp kasoori methi (roasted and powdered)
1 tbps sour cream
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Oil as needed

Make a paste1 medium onion - chopped and sautéed in oil
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
3 cloves
1 small piece cinnamon

1. Boil the potatoes in a big pot of water. Cool and peel the skin and prick with a fork all over. You can also microwave the potatoes.
2. Pour 2 tsps of oil in a pan and sauté the potatoes until brown on all sides. Set aside on a paper towel.
Baby potatoes browned on all sides

3. Halve the cherry tomatoes and sauté in the same pan.
Halved and sauteed cherry tomatoes

4. Next sauté the peas.
Sauteed peas
5. Add the masala paste to the pan with a little oil. To this paste also add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste and tomato paste and fry till the oil comes out.
6. Then add the sour cream and kasoori methi and mix well.
7. Add the peas, tomatoes and potatoes along with salt and mix till they are well blended in the gravy.
8. Garnish with cilantro.
Baby potato-cherry tomato-green peas gravy
Serve with roti or pulao.
Serving size - 1 cup
Number of servings - 5 or 6

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Penne Pasta with Lima Beans and Spinach - MBP event - January 2007

Here is my second entry to Coffee's MBP for January 2007. This time it is from the Italian cuisine. I came across this recipe from Lakshmiammal's blog. We eat a lot of pasta and this one was a variation with lima beans and spinach. While I have used spinach to make stuffed shells, this is the first time I used lima beans in a pasta dish. It tastes delicious and is very nutritious too. Click here for the original recipe. Given below is my recipe with a few variations.

1/2 pound of mini penne pasta
1/2 cup of frozen spinach
1/4 cup of lima beans
1 medium sized onion
1 tsp garlic paste
1 cup pasta sauce
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese
Fat free cooking spray
Salt to taste
Olive oil as needed

Method1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and set aside. Pour a teaspoon of oil and mix well so that it does not stick together.
2. Pour oil in a pan and sauté the onions and garlic.
3. Next add the thawed spinach and lima beans and sauté till soft.
4. Add the red pepper flakes and pasta sauce and cook well till it starts bubbling.
5. Lower the flame and add the half and half and mix well.
6. Transfer the reserved pasta into the pan, add salt and mix to coat well with the sauce. (If you have already salted the pasta water then reduce the salt at this stage).
7. Spray an oven-safe dish with the fat-free cooking spray and transfer the pasta mixture into the dish.
8. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake at 425 degrees till the cheese melts or a little long till it becomes brown. (I usually wait till the cheese browns, but I pulled out earlier this time as my daughter was getting hungry).
Pasta mixture topped with the mozzarella cheese
9. Serve hot.

Pasta straight out of the oven with the cheese melted and bubbly

Serving size - 1 cup
Number of servings – 4

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dondakkaya (tindora) chutney

Here is a quick and easy recipe for dondakkaya chutney.

Ingredients1/2 pound dondakkaya
4 or 5 red chillies (adjust according to taste)
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp of urad dal (split black lentils)
2 cloves of garlic (sliced thin)
A pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

For seasoningOil
1/2 tsp of mustard
A few curry leaves
1 red chilli - broken

Method1. Wash the tindora and cut into long strips.
2. In a pan roast the red chillies and urad dal without oil. Set aside.
3. Next add oil in the same pan and fry the tindora till tender.
4. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
5. Then add the tamarind paste and asafoetida and mix well.
6. Transfer the roasted red chillies, urad dal and tindora veggie mix to a blender.
7. Add very little water and blend to a paste and add salt to taste.
8. Season with mustard, curry leaves and red chillies.

Dondakkaya chutney
Serve with hot rice and ghee.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Vegetable Chow Mein - MBP Event - January 2007

This is my contribution to the 'Monthly Blog Patrolling' event hosted by Coffee from 'My Khazana of Recipes'. The moment I read her blog I jumped with excitement. So very true - there are so many recipes that I have saved from fellow bloggers which I would like to try and share through my blog. But, somewhere in the process of posting our own creations we miss giving credit to all the hundreds and thousands of recipes that are posted day after day on other food blogs. You can read about this event in detail on Coffee's blog. However, here is a brief note.

All through 2007 there will be a unique theme chosen for each month and you have to wade through recipes posted on other food blogs, cook and post pictures of the recipe on your own blog as well as send the pictures to 'My Khazana of Recipes' (check this blog for the procedure). Of course, you can come up with your own variations of the recipe but make sure you post the link and credits to the original recipe. As simple as that. The theme for January 2007 is 'Around the World'. So, choose a recipe from any international cuisine and get cooking!

Here is my recipe from the Chinese cuisine for Vegetable Chow Mein. The original recipe was posted by Meenakshi Agarwal from 'Hooked on Heat'. I made a few variations to the recipe. Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients1 packet of Hakka noodles
1 medium onion sliced (you can used spring onions too)
1 cup of shredded cabbage
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of shredded green bell peppers
1 tsp of ginger garlic paste
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp of Soya sauce (I used light Soya sauce because it has less sodium)
1 tsp of Sambal Oelek (red chilli paste), use more if you want to add more spice
Salt to taste
Oil as needed

1. Boil the noodles, drain and drizzle the sesame oil on the noodles and mix well. Set aside.
2. Pour oil in a pan and sauté the onions and ginger garlic paste.
3. Next add all the veggies - cabbage, carrots and bell peppers - sauté till slightly tender (not mushy).
4. Add the Sambal Oelek and mix well.
5. Add the Soya sauce and mix till it blends with the veggies.
6. Then add the boiled noodles and salt and mix to coat the noodles with the veggies and Soya sauce.
7. Serve hot or warm.

Vegetable Chow Mein

Serving size - 1 cup
Number of servings - 4 or 5

Friday, January 05, 2007

I have been tagged - meme

Dilip from Garam Masala tagged me for writing my meme. This was pure fun and I really loved writing it. So, here it is - my meme on 3 things that...
3 Things that make me laugh
1. Anybody with a good sense of humor can make me laugh
2. Movie comedy - mainly Tamil movies. I love comedy from Vadivelu and Vivek. I just cannot stop laughing
3. The new words and sentences my 2-year old talks. Of course, it makes me feel happy too.

3 Things that make me cry

1. Senior citizens who have to do things themselves - like shopping, driving, etc. I wish there was someone to help them out.
2. The birth of a baby
3. My childhood - because I can never go there again

3 Things that scare me
1. Lizards
2. Loneliness
3. Pain

3 Things I love
1. Find a quiet place in a library or park and get on with my reading (the list of books is now getting longer)
2. Spend time with my husband and daughter
3. Go on a long drive all by myself with the music on

3 Things I hate
1. Friends who backstab (I have come across many of them and it hurts)
2. People who do not keep in touch (because they are busy, are they?). After all, you need to find time to keep in touch with friends you care about.
3. Cheating

3 Things I don't understand
1. Mathematics
2. How people can be lazy
3. Sleeping till late in the morning. It makes you even lazier.

3 Things on my desk
1. Laptop
2. Bills to be paid
3. My small notebook filled with notes/info from everywhere. This book goes with me everywhere.

3 Things I am doing right now
1. Having my morning coffee - something that starts my day and charges me up. I can never miss my morning coffee.
2. Organizing my CD library
3. Playing with my daughter

3 Things I want to do before I die
1. Travel as much as I can
2. Help children in need
3. Lose weight

3 Things I can do
1. Cook good food
2. Make friends
3. Understand the finer points of life

3 Things one should listen to
1. Surely, their intuition
2. Good friends
3. Constructive criticism

3 Things I would never want to listen to
1. Self praise (people talking about themselves)
2. People talking about their kids all the time. Because I feel every child is unique and you can never compare.
3. Gossip between friends

3 Favorite foods
1. Potato fry
2. Coconut rice
3. Rasmalai

3 beverages I drink regularly
1. Coffee
2. Tea
3. Sparkling cider. This is a new find (orange juice gives me a heartburn)

3 TV shows I watched/books I read as a kid
1. Tinkle comics
2. Spiderman TV shows
3. Tintin story books

Three fellow bloggers I would like to tag
1. Tweety of Fitful Culinaria
2. Lakshmiammal3. Mad Tea Party

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Carrots, peas and potatoes with dill

This is a recipe published on 'A Mad Tea Party' a few days ago. I tried it out and it was absolutely delicious. Click here for the original recipe. Here are my pictures.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kadai Mattar

Here is my first food post this year. I made this recipe a few weeks ago. The addition of tandoori masala to the gravy is a delicious twist to this curry.

2 cups green peas
1 medium onion
1/2 cup of crushed tomato
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp tandoori masala (any brand)
A pinch of turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of kasoori methi
1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
2 tsps of lemon juice
Salt to taste
Oil as needed
Coriander leaves finely chopped for garnish

For the paste2 cloves
1 small piece of cinnamon
4-5 cashew nuts
1 tbsp coconut

Method1. Make the paste and set aside.
2. Sauté the green peas until tender and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and asafoetida.
4. Next add chopped onion and ginger garlic paste and sauté.
5. Then add the crushed tomatoes along with the ground paste. Also add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, tandoori masala and kasoori methi and fry till the oil comes out.
6. Add the reserved green peas and mix well.
7. Finish the curry by adding salt and lemon juice.
8. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Kadai Mattar

Serve hot or warm with roti or pulao.

Serving size - 1/2 cup
Number of servings - 4

Monday, January 01, 2007