Hungry on Halloween

 

I find Halloween pretty scary but unlike others my reasons are a little different. Halloween tends to deliver colder temperatures and that means I start getting confined to the indoors. The gray months of winter lay listlessly ahead and I find myself sinking low in winter doldrums.   The days continue to get shorter and I find myself struggling with layers of clothing. I initiate the much dreaded activity of my household – I take out our neatly packed winter clothes and order my boys to try them on to get an idea of what all shopping needs to be done. They absolutely detest this task – they groan and moan, whine and repine, protest and object, but I don’t budge or bend. This year my youngest son commented that, I, hands down win the honor of the scariest creature around Halloween and mind you, he was only half joking. After the clothes are sorted in different piles and a shopping list is made, I drag the boys to the mall to get over shopping.  On these occasions, my husband suddenly develops flu symptom even though no flu cases are discovered in the vicinity of 100 miles, and decides to rest while watching football.

Halloween also brings end to my kids’ fall sport activities and we face a long winter with two boys with unbounded energy. This year Halloween is even scarier as only last week my mom returned to India, transferring all the daily household duties to me. Over the weekend, I found myself in the kitchen going over the contents of my kitchen fridge and mulling over the lunch menu instead of going for my routine hour-long walk. Bags of candies were lying around and I was tempted to skip cooking and declare it a chocolate day; my kids gave me carte blanche, but my husband being a spoil sport demanded a proper meal.  I didn’t want to spend the whole day in kitchen as I was donning the chef’s hat after a long time, and decided to go with quick but appealing spicy chicken sandwich. The temperature had dropped drastically on Sunday and some sort of soup was in order. I found few stray potatoes and a carton of chicken broth in the pantry and cooked  a creamy potato soup.

Chicken Sandwich

6 Chicken cutlets

4 tbsp all-purpose flour/Maida

4 tbsp thin sooji

2 tbsp + 1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp black pepper

Salt to taste

2 tbsp Red Hot Sauce- I  used Frank’s

  1. Season chicken cutlets liberally with salt,1tsp black pepper and 1 tsp cayenne pepper.
  2. In a bowl mix 2 tbsp red hot sauce with 4 tbsp water.
  3. In a large bowl mix flour ,thin sooji, cayenne pepper and salt. You can skip the sooji and  use just flour or  bread crumbs or  a mixture of two. Add 2 tbps cayenne pepper and 1 tsp of black pepper.
  4. Heat  a cast iron skillet over medium high and add 2 tbsp oil.
  5. Dip cutlets one a time into flour mixture, shake off excess flour. Dip it into hot sauce mixture and dip again into the flour mixture coating all the sides well. Repeat the process for all the cutlets.
  6. Place 3 cutlets on the skillet, cover and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until the cutlets are cooked through. Add more oil and cook the remaining cutlets.

Onion-Pepper topping

  1. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onions and peppers seasoning them with salt, cayenne pepper and a pinch of sugar. You can add mushrooms, carrots, cabbage or any other vegetables that you fancy.

 To Assemble

  1. Spread Mayo on 2 sliced of bread.  I used French bread – any rustic bread such as Ciabatta will work well.
  2. Keep cutlet on one slice and onion-pepper mixture on the other. Sprinkle any other seasonings of choice or like me squeeze some Sriracha sauce on the chicken for extra heat.
  3. Add cheese , lettuce if desired and enjoy.

Potato Soup

1 garlic clove minced

1 tbsp chopped onion

4 small russet potatoes Peeled and cubed. Red potatoes work well too.

2 cups chicken broth/vegetable broth

1 cup milk/half and half/cream. I used 2% milk.

  1. Heat oil in a sauce pan and sauté garlic and onions.
  2. Add potatoes and cover them with water. Cover the sauce pan and cook till potatoes are tender.
  3. Drain the potatoes , reserve the water.
  4. Mash potatoes and add  to the reserved water.
  5. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper and simmer.
  6. Add milk and warm the soup for few minutes on a low heat. You could skip the broth  for half and half for a richer soup; for a vegan entry substitute vegetable stock  for  milk and chicken broth.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Pots | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aamboli Etc.

 

 

I have gone through various eating phases throughout my life..Since when I remember, I was a kadak pav devotee and  I never got tired of  it. Even today whenever I visit Mumbai, I religiously eat it for breakfast every day. When in grade school, I developed a taste for aamboli -it was my first encounter with dosa in any form .My earliest memories are that of waking up on some Sunday mornings  and finding my mom in the kitchen making piles of thick, golden aamboli.  What a perfect way to start a day (for me, not for my mom); a tall steaming mug of tea was a perfect medium to dip these pancakes for a hearty breakfast. We would then savor the aamboli with chicken or mutton curry for lunch and leftovers would grace our school lunches the next day. My mom would also make it on special occasions such as Gokulashtami and we would then eat it dipped in naralacha ras (sweetened coconut milk); this is a preferred way of eating aamboli in  Konkan region where my family hails from.

 My mom also used to make pole (a soft dosa)  with Maharashtrian style green chutney, but I always preferred to eat them, yes you guessed it right, dipped in hot tea. When I divulged this piece of information to my South Indian husband, he was totally disgusted and advised me not to ever mention it to his side of the family. Apparently, dosa in any guise should be eaten only with coconut chutney, sambar, chutney powder or potato subzi, and any other way is considered corrupt .  

I learnt many types of dosas from my mother-in-law and decided to capture them in one single post. This will be my one-stop reference when my family is in a mood for Indian pancakes.

Aamboli

 2 cup raw rice

½ cup Urad Dal

¼ cup chana dal

¼ cup moong dal

¼ cup Toor Dal

½ cup thin poha

2 tsp fenugreek seeds

  • Soak all the dals and fenugreeek seeds together in enough water from 5-8 hours.
  • Soak rice in enough water for 8 hours.
  • Before grinding drain the water, add poha to rice  along with half a cup of water and wait for 15 minutes or  till poha becomes soft.
  • Grind everything to a smooth paste.
  • Ferment overnight or for 8 hour or till the batter doubles in volume.
  • Add ½ cup grated coconut if desired.
  • Add to the batter 1 tbsp turmeric powder, 2 tbsp oil and salt to taste. Stir well.
  • Heat a cast-iron skillet on a medium heat.
  • Spread 1 teaspoon oil on the skillet.
  • Pour a cupful of batter and spread into a thick circle.
  • When one side is done, flip the pancake.
  • Sprinkle some water on top side and spread it with your palm.
  • Ccover the aamboli  with lid and let cook for a couple of minutes.
  • The application of water will keep the aamboli soft.
  • Now dig in.



Aamboli with sambar, coconut chutney and chutney pudi

Naral Ras

Add jiggery, pinch of salt and pinch of cardamom powder to coconut milk and stir to mix.

Pole

1 cup urad dal

2 cup raw rice

1 tsp methi seeds

Dosa

1 cup urad dal

3 cups  raw rice ( I use long grain)

1 tbsp methi seeds

Handlful of thin poha

Rava Dosa

1 cup Urad dal

2 cups of thin sooji

1 cup raw rice

Or

1 cup Urad dal

1 cup thin soji/ thin rava

2 cup raw rice

For the above 4 types of dosas

  1. Soak urad dal and fenugreek seeds for 5-8 hours
  2. Soak rice for 8 hours.
  3. Soak the rava(if an ingredient) for an hour or more.
  4. Grind the rice and dal together, add rawa and ferment overnight.
  5. Add salt and oil before making dosa.
  6. If making pole , make them thicker than dosa. They will be soft and spongy. Dosa should be thin and crispy.

Instant Rava Dosa

1 – 2 cup sour curd

1 cup Rice flour

1 cup thin sooji

½ cup wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

  1. Mix all the ingredients and keep them aside for couple of hours.
  2. Add chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, curry leaves, cilantro, salt and oil.
  3. Make thin  dosas on a cast-iron pan.

 

Posted in Pots | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kitchen Tale

 

Last week Nupur of One Hot Stove announced Kitchen Link party event where you give readers a peek into your kitchen, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Just two days before, we got granite countertops installed in my kitchen; gone were my tired looking laminate countertops, chipped porcelain sink and white tiles and  my kitchen was transformed into a gleaming beauty. I consider the kitchen to be a very personal place, and at first I was wary of putting it on display on my blog.  But my friends had been asking for photos of the makeover, and the proclivity to flaunt dissolved any qualms that I was having.   

 In my house kitchen is always a hub of activity. With two young boys and a husband who like to munch all the time, there is always heavy traffic in the kitchen, and if you are not watching where you are going, you are in a constant danger of collision. With so much going on, I have to establish some ground rules. Nothing, mind you nothing that you take out of the cabinets remains on the counters. But with male population dominating my household, this doesn’t always happen. Everything in my kitchen has its own place, and I like to blindly reach and magically pull out pots, pans, spices, spoons and pantry ingredients. Again, because of the aforementioned population, I sometimes run into surprises; if I didn’t know my family members well, I would think that they were purposely hiding things away from me. But overall, the whole system works for me. Most of the counter space is used only when I am actively cooking; as part of cooking preparation, I pull out needed pots and pans and serving spoons in one area, vegetables, knives, bowls, chopping board grace another section in close proximity to the sink and the flours and appliances for bread both Indian and Western, wait in line in the third section. Once I am done with cooking, everything rests back in its own space, and I am back to a clutter-free kitchen. Some people think it is a lot of hassle to constantly put things away  rather than keeping them handy on the counters or nearby, but it makes me anxious and I find it hard to settle in a place where too many things are on display. That was also a main criterion in our selection of granite; I didn’t want to go with a close arrangement giving an impression of a perpetually busy kitchen, and went with a soothing pattern and colors. A sparkling extra deep stainless steel sink and a gooseneck faucet made cleaning large vessels an amenable task. When in a foul food I can bang pots and pans in the sink to my heats content without the fear of chipping the sink; my husband has already made sure that the contractor put extra padding surrounding the sink to lessen the deafening sound.   

    

   

   

Adjacent to my kitchen is a breakfast area surrounded by five big windows that let in plenty of light into the kitchen. The eat-in area serves multitude of functions – we eat most our meals together and share our daily experiences, kids chatter about school and share secrets while digging into snacks, it serves as a homework central where I can help the kids while keeping an eye on the stove, it is also a perfect place for the messy science and art projects involving various household objects. My laptop often lands on the dining table when I look up recipes or take notes for the blog. You can also see my younger son’s pretend kitchen against the window, he is a cook in his own right and is taking cooking lessons at his school.   

   

With such a happy place, could I ask for anything more? As I type this my husband is rolling his eyes; he already has my list in his hands – now I want new stainless steel appliances, need cabinets and floor finished to a darker stain to go with the granite. But until then, this is my haven.   

  

Posted in Pots | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Butterscotch Ice-cream

 

 I am running against time. I am doing my best to make most of the few remaining summer days. My allergies have already kicked in; I have been spending sleepless nights on the couch dealing with itchy throat. If only I could stick a pencil down my throat and scratch vigorously. A mug of steaming hot water has replaced my ice-filled pitcher. My co-workers are walking around with allergy induced swollen red eyes, sneezing and coughing, and blowing noses.  It has been raining every other day and the moisture from the rain has been creating more irritants in the form of grass and mold allergies. I shudder and sulk  at the thought of six cold months ahead, but finally I suck it up and leaf through my bookmarks and cook books for a new ice-cream recipe. Chocolate-mint, cookie dough, double chocolate don’t appeal me; true to my roots I go for pistachio, mango, rum and raisin and butterscotch flavors. I discover a butterscotch recipe at Smitten Kitchen, and decide to give it a try.   

The original recipe called for one and half cups of whipping cream and two cups of half and half. I had only whipping cream on hand, and decided to go with one cup of 1% milk and two and half cups of whipping cream. But when I tasted the mixture in step 6, it smelled and tasted too eggy and I added another cup of warm cream. The result was a velvety smooth, ice-cream and my kids voted it to be the best ice-cream I had ever made.   

Butterscotch Ice Cream   

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup 1% milk
6 large egg yolks   

  1. In a small pan add butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add brown sugar and cook till mixture is bubbly about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add  1/2 cup whipping cream and whisk till there are no lumps. Remove butterscotch mixture from heat.
  3. Heat  remaining whipping cream in another medium pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  4. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in ½ cup of warm cream mixture into them. Pour the yolk cream mixture into the remaining cream that is simmering on the stove. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly till mixture is just thickened. Remove from the heat.
  5. Pour the mixture from step 4 through a fine strainer into a bowl.  Do not skip this step. I was tempted to do so, but I decided to stick to the recipe and boy was I glad that I did.
  6. Whisk in butterscotch mixture and chill for couple of hours
  7.  Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker.

   

Posted in Pots | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cinnamon Blast

  

Since the arrival of my mom, my role in the kitchen is diminished to that of a recipe tester, not that I am complaining.  I am taking this opportunity to relax, be outdoors to enjoy the mild weather, work on my bike riding skills, importune my kids and husband about paltry things and in all having a ball. Lately we have been endued with balmy eighty degree weather and I have been spending as little time indoors as possible. The bike trail that starts right outside my house has been the latest attraction of my neighborhood; people of all ages from infants to seniors along with their pets have been enjoying the scenic route. It has become my ritual to go for a four mile walk after supper every evening; my mother who has lived in the high-rise developments of Mumbai all her life is completely taken over by the trail and its landscape. The path curving in the woods dotted by blue lakes and cute little bridges, along with the crisp and pure weather has invigorated her; and she has been stretching the length of her stroll every day. 

Food has not been on my mind at all, but lately my kids have been reminding me to bake some  rolls and whip up their favorite desserts. Also earlier in the week my husband had bought a big bag of  green apples hinting me to make a pan of apple crisp, and on the Labor Day weekend I graced the kitchen to grant everyone’s  wishes.  

I have always used locally produced flour for my baking needs, but with so many people touting King Arthur flours, I decided to give  their all-purpose flour a try and also checked out  their book, ‘The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, from the library.  The recipe for cinnamon rolls caught my eye, and I was not disappointed with the crumb or the flavor. An updated recipe with a lot of visuals can be found at King Arthur’s website; the site offers wealth of recipes and I have already bookmarked quite a few of them.  Recipe for apple crisp comes from Deborah Madison’s- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and like  every other recipe that I have tried from her book, this one comes on top. 

Since both these recipes come from baking books, I am sending them to Baking from a Book event started by Champa and hosted this time by Ruchika

Cinnamon Rolls 

Dough 

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

2 tsp yeast 

3 tbsp sugar 

2 tbsp nonfat dry-milk 

1/2 tsp salt 

1 large egg plus enough water to make 1 cup 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

2 tbsp soft butter 

Filling 

1/4 cup soft butter 

3/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon 

Icing 

1 tbsp heavy cream 

1 cup confectioners’ sugar 

For the dough 

1. Knead all the ingredients for the dough in a mixer or by hand to form a smooth dough. 

2. Place it in a greased bowl, cover and rise for 2 – 2 1/2 hours or till doubled in size. The original recipe called for instant yeast which will reduce the rising time to 1 – 1  1/2 hours. 

Assembly 

1. Turn out the dough on a lightly greased surface and roll it into a rectangle measuring about 11 X 20 inches. 

2. Spread a thin layer of soft butter over the dough. 

3. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 

4. Roll into a log, starting with the long end. 

5. Using a serrated knife cut the log into 12 equal pieces. I like to pinch the cut side together to prevent the filling from falling out. 

6. Place the buns in a lightly greased 9 X13- inch pan, cover and let them rise for 1 hour until they are quite fluffy. 

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit and bake the buns for 20-25 minutes. remove from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes. 

I never frost the buns as I find them cloying sweet. If you are, then turn them out of the pan and cool to just slightly warm before frosting. 

To make the icing: Mix the heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar to make a creamy glaze; add water for thinner glaze. spread the icing on the buns. 

Cinnamon Rolls

 

Apple Crisp 

About 7 green apples peeled and cored. 

2 tbsp sugar 

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 

Topping 

6 tbsp butter or oil or mix of the two. I used 3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil. 

3/4 cup brown sugar 

2/3 cup flour 

1/2 cup rolled oats 

1/4 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 tsp cardamom 

1. In a food processor pulse all the ingredients together with the exception of apples . Keep aside. 

2. Thinly slice the apples, toss with 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 2 tbsp sugar. 

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit. 

4. Arrange the apples in a 2- quart gratin dish or 9X13 pyrex pan and cover with the topping. 

5. Bake until the juices from the fruit are bubbling and topping is brown. About 1 hour 10 minutes. 

Serve warm. 

Apple Crisp

 

Posted in Pots | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back to School Celebration

 

After nearly three months of holidays, my kids are finally back in school. After a long period of torpidity they were eager to get back into action. Not to say that they didn’t enjoy sleeping in till 11 A everyday, hanging out with their friends at a pool, playing countless baseball games, and attending various summer camps, but towards the end they started craving for a schedule. As far as I was concerned, I was jubilant, relieved and anxious. Stopped were the calls during the day from my kids complaining about each other, whining about boredom, and pleading me to come home early so that I could take them out to the pool or to the parks. I remember calling up my dad at work ad nauseam when I was a kid, to gripe about my sister ,but unlike me, my dad always showed considerable forbearance and never sounded exasperated.        

My older son started middle school this year, and as he crosses this juncture, I am getting apprehensive. My role is changing from a decision-maker to supporter as he chooses his path and embarks upon the hair-raising journey of becoming a teenager. I have been getting increasingly restless and  turned my trepidation into celebration by making Brigadeiro, another of my kids’ favorite candy. I was introduced to the chocolate treat by my middle schooler when he sneaked a couple of coated balls for me from his Brazilian friend’s birthday party. I instantly fell in love with them, and as they could be prepared  from pantry ingredients on a short notice, they are a bit of danger if you are watching your weight. Since the recipe for Brigadeiro comes from My Colombian Recipes I am sending it to Nupur’s Blog Bites #6 Potluck Edition.       

The recipe is simple and the outcome is beautiful. You can add brandy or rum for an extra dash.       

You will need        

14 oz can condensed milk.       

Brigadeiro

1 tbsp butter. I used salted butter as that was the only kind I had on hand       

3 tbsp cocoa powder. You can use powdered chocolate instead.       

Chocolate jimmies to coat the candy. You can also use sprinkles, powdered nuts, desiccated coconut or any coating that you fancy.       

1. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat.       

2. Add condensed milk and cocoa and mix well.       

3. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for about five more minutes till the mixture becomes thick and sticks to the back of the spoon.       

4. Let cool for an hour of two. I had to shorten this step drastically, as everyone was trying to sneak spoonfuls of chocolate mixture.       

5. Apply butter liberally on your palms, roll balls and roll into jimmies.       

        

Posted in Pots | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Re-cycling Efforts

 

The two things – growing up in the financial capital of India and learning to ride a bike did not mix well. I didn’t own a bike because of the impractically of storage, and it was hazardous to ride the bike home from bike rental shop due to the maddening city traffic. My husband on the other hand had tried his hand (or rather legs) at all possible vehicles, and he kept urging me to learn to ride a bike stating various health benefits as that was sure going to lure me. But we kept moving from place to place, and my battle to accumulate as little belongings as possible, swept aside my husband’s bike riding dreams.   

Once we bought our house and my kids reached bike riding age, they started appealing me to learn to ride. I had seen how easy it was for my kids (little did I know), and armed with a false sense of security, I went bike shopping. At the shop, I beseeched about full size bikes with training wheels, and after rudely laughing for a lengthy period of time (I took that as a no), the sales rep showed me the beauties that were exhibited throughout the shop. Disappointed, angry, and intimidated I returned home, and left the shopping to my husband.   

A shiny new bike was purchased, and everyone in the family looked expectantly at me. They were envisaging that I would just hop on that skinny thing, and get going. I disclosed my plans for Vahan Pooja, and postponed the ordeal to next day. Next morning, everyone was up bright and early (a very rare phenomenon) for my bike lessons and we headed to the nearest park. After a pep rally by my kids, and a suppressed snort from my husband, I embarked upon the adventure. After multiple falls, cuts and bruises and numerous trips to the park, I finally learned how to ride. My kids instructed me to practice every day and started nagging me about it. How they reminded me of my self pestering and coaxing them to practice their music instruments.   

On one beautiful but unfortunate summer evening, instead of lazing around in the backyard with an ice-cold beverage, I decided to polish my skill in our quiet neighborhood. I had hardly gone couple of blocks, when I noticed a car heading my way, lost my balance, skinned my knees, and a good part of my left leg. After this debacle, my bike was shoved in the garage, and it managed to receive only hateful glances from me.   

 This year however, construction started in my neighborhood for a long-awaited bike trail joining two nearby parks. All we will have to do is roll out of the house and we will land on the trail. As the construction geared up, my husband opened up the banned bike discussion. My kids started dreaming about five some mile bike rides, followed by picnics at the lake; they even reminded me that all the riding will help my weight loss efforts. Finally I gave in and renewed my cycling efforts. I had enough experience this time. I refused to ride in shorts and tank tops; I also bought knee guards, elbow guards and bike gloves.   

On a sweltering summer evening if you see someone perched precariously on a bike, donning thick jeans and long-sleeved top complete with protective gear; flanked by two boys clearing the way and issuing such warnings as ‘a small stone twenty  feet ahead, a car two miles away, a doggie heading our way’, you have spotted truly yours. Do stop and wave, but don’t expect a wave in return as I would be gripping the bike handles in fear, and struggling to carry through  my treacherous excursion.   

     

Posted in Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment