Creamy Red Pepper Soup/Winter soup

It is a big Blogger’s award when someone tests a recipe you tried and is pleased with the result and posts it! Loretta did exactly that on safariofthemind by baking and posting my recipe Easy-apple-crumble-cookies. Now, it is doubly kitchen tested and holds another stamp of approval! I was elated, delighted and obviously, dancing like a lunatic! Thank you, Loretta!

Roasted red pepper soup

SoupGetting back to sanity, I am posting a time tested soup recipe. I bet every country, community and anyone pushed to make their own food make soups as it is easy to cook and filling. It is a pick-me-up kind of food when I am feeling low. It helps boost serotonin, the happy hormone and so it is a surefire comfort food. Can you picture how the red, warm soup can reflect a healthy glow on your face?

I tried many versions and after a mix and match approach zeroed in on this red pepper soup which is at its best. I will stop trying new recipes and use this one from now on.

Roasting pepper is the beginning of the story. It heightens their sweetness and gives your soup a made-from-scratch taste that nothing can beat.

You can roast a double batch of red peppers and store it in olive oil for future use. I added many garlic pods to roast with them. But, if you do not have a bit of time on your hands, feel free to cook it with the carrots.

roastedIt could seem like a long process but hang on and follow the procedure slowly to get a satisfying result.

Save extra red peppers in olive oil after peeling the charred skin. Do not chop it to smaller pieces because that makes it difficult to pick them from your jar. (I learned from experience.) Use extra oil from the jar for any soup or other preparations that love a hint of peppers.

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell pepper roasted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small carrot grated
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Spray olive oil on a baking tray and place red pepper on it, spray some oil on it and roast at 450° F for 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer roasted pepper to a container and cover it allowing the peppers to sweat.
  3. Remove the charred skin and crush the flesh.
  4. Pour oil in a heavy bottom pan, add onion and saute until it is translucent.
  5. Stir in grated carrot, cumin, roasted garlic and thyme to build the flavour base.
  6. Mix corn flour in a little broth and add it to the pan.
  7. Cover the pan and simmer on low heat until carrot is tender.
  8. Cool this, add crushed red bell pepper and transfer to a blender.
  9. Puree it in a blender, filling half to its capacity.
  10. Deglaze the pan by adding red wine and stir until it reduces.
  11. Pour pureed pepper mix, sugar, remaining broth, salt and boil.
  12. Simmer it on medium to low heat for few minutes.
  13. Serve it warm with a garnish of herbs and croutons.

Deglazing is adding a liquid to dissolve tasty food residue sticking to the bottom of a pan to add extra flavour to soups and gravies.

I used an Indian Mixie to puree the pepper mix. You need a blender with some extra muscles to pull the act together. If the soup seems a little too thick while pureeing, add a few tablespoons of broth to thin it out.

Adding sugar in this recipe elevates the flavour to a whole new level. Add smoked paprika or chilli powder if you need some heat.Thyme can be replaced by dried oregano or basil as these herbs can make a subtle variation in taste. Ladle the soup into a bowl. Saute bread cubes in olive oil and serve it on red pepper soup. Top with croutons, sprinkle some lemon thyme leaves and a dollop of Greek yogurt in the center of each bowl. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.Red pepper soupThere is no match for this fresh, high-impact hearty soup! You can serve this light, creamy soup hot or warm. If it is Summer, with fresh peppers in abundance, make it ahead and serve it chilled.Capsicum soupAs the carrot is getting cooked with onion, garlic and thyme, it fills the house with a delectable aroma. My daughter commented that it smelled like simmering dissolved bouillon cubes…yes, it is that close to authentic soup!

This soup is sure to warm your hearts at the Fiesta Friday Party!

Fiesta Friday #57

 

Posted in Brunch, comfort food, Soup, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Easy apple crumble cookies/Apple oat cookies

Apple dessert cookies

apple crumble cookiesIf a genie appears before me, I would ask for an instant apple tree in my backyard.  Yes, I cannot wait many years biting my nails for it to grow and yield fruits. Hopefully, this is the best wish when the ground is covered in 2 foot snow and I am longing for a warm breezy day!

I always loved apple midst all teasing that I am carried away by its glam and polished looks. Who cares…that is true too! I cannot resist biting into a juicy apple anytime. No wonder eva-girl could not resist it either! It sure tastes like a bit of paradise!

I display a tray of apples on my kitchen island to enjoy the prettiest one at the slightest provocation. Being a no mess fruit you can eat even the peel and spit out only the core, I consider this as s straightforward food. It is so versatile with endless possibility that a multitude of dishes are spun out in Fall, when they are at their magical best!

IMG_3509

This intimidating snow is encouraging me to bake my own apple cookies!

On Friday, I was browsing through the shelves of a store when I saw a new product, apple crumble cookies. Instead of parting with some money, I took a personal challenge and tried making some. I did a bit of serious research and adapted a little and then these dessert cookies were born.

If you love apple pie like every other person and find it labourious to make it, here is a recipe for instant gratification. Made with rolled oats, apple pieces, butter, brown sugar and sweet spices this is my cookie pick for any season! When served warm, granola crumbles delightfully in this apple cookies.

Ingredients

• 1 big apple chopped to small pieces (I used a golden delicious apple.)
• ¼ cup butter
• 1 tsp cinnamon powder
• a generous grating of nutmeg
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• ½ cup rolled oats
• ½ cup all purpose flour
• A pinch of salt

  1. In a pan lightly dry roast oats. (I find that this improves its taste.)
  2. Grease a large baking tray and set aside.
  3. Cook chopped apple, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg powder in a heavy bottom pan until apple turns soft.
  4. Remove the pan and add brown sugar and stir to dissolve it.
  5. Mix oats, all purpose flour and salt in a bowl and add warm apple mixture.
  6. Stir until everything holds together.
  7. Take one of the measuring cups (1/4 0r 1/3 ) and grease it.
  8. Put a small ball of the mixture and pat it inside the cup to form a disk . Then turn it upside down, tap and drop cookie dough on prepared baking tray.
  9. Bake at 350° F for 20-25 minutes until sides and bottom starts to brown.
  10. Remove cookies with a spatula and cool them on a wire rack.
  11. Store it in an air tight container or eat them warm.

This recipe yields 8 large cookies (1/3 cup size). It is crunchy, soft and crumbly all in one. Call it a satisfying breakfast cookie or a great snack or a dessert! To serve as a dessert, pair it with vanilla ice cream.

adessertIf you are adventures like me, take a cookie, pipe some whipped cream and add slivers of fresh apple and indulge in an out of the world experience.

Arrange it on a platter and serve for a party. Eating dessert first, will not be an issue anymore!

acJust to get rid of my Winter blues I am sending this recipe to the lovely Fiesta-friday-56/

 

 

Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Breakfast, comfort food, Cookies, Dessert, Easy recipe, Not just for kids, Pack-and-go snack, Snack | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

3 Valentine’s day cakes

One cake, 3 styles

threeI was sarcastically against Valentines day for quite some time. Considering that I was liberated and should not be trapped into such senseless, commercial gimmicks, I brushed aside the day with utmost contempt. But of late, age bringing wisdom, there is a sudden enlightenment, that the drama of life is short and we have to eat our fair share of chocolates before the curtain falls.

I have wasted a large chunk of days on mundane search for food, shelter and skimpy skirts. Sensibly, it’s time to slow down and get to share some unconditional love. A warm fire, comfy chair, sweet music and short sips watching the bubble and hiss in a pair of champagne flutes spell romance to me! Heart speaking gently in harmony of the thing it knows, forgetting defects and flaws, cherishing merits and triumphs is like a perfect way to celebrate. A simple dinner and a delicious dessert would add to its glory!

I watch cookery shows all the time with lovely ingredients spread out in cute little cups, demonstrated and executed with precision. In this bitter cold weather we have right now, I have to dress up in multiple layers, drag my butt out to go and buy the ingredients. Then come back, feel tired and drop the idea of cooking anything or turning the stove on. So excuse me, I am taking the easy road…just tearing open a cake mix from my pantry and adding eggs, water and oil and baking a cake. It is presentation and decoration taking the center stage!

Decoration

  • Pistachio nuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Tempered chocolate
  • Pink cream cheese icing

Pink cream cheese Icing

  • 1/2 cup Cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar
  • beet root food colour

To make Beetroot food colour

2 large beetroots

  1. Wash and peel skin of beetroots and slice them on a mandoline.
  2. Grease two baking trays with oil and spread the slices and bake on two lower racks. Use lowest heat (100-170° F) until they dehydrate, dry and become crispy.
  3. Turn the slices to the other side in between and switch racks.
  4. When dried, powder it in a coffee grinder.

food colourCakes

Store bought white cake mix with confetti is what I used and baked with the addition of other required ingredients and following instructions. I decided to make 3 different flavoured cakes.

  1. Make a smooth velvety cake mix and divide it equally and pour into 3 bowls.
  2. Add chocolate to one and 2 tbsp red colour and a heaped teaspoon of chocolate to another and leave the third without any addition.
  3. Bake cakes in 3 square greased pans at 325° F until done (25-30 minutes).
  4. Cool it and place white cake on a wooden chopping board and cut the raised top to level the cake to 1 inch height.
  5. Cut heart shapes using cookie cutters and remove the small cakes to a tray.
  6. Repeat with the other cakes.

White cake with confetti

Mix sugar, cream cheese and colour for icing the cakes. Place one white cake piece and spread pink icing on it. Place another heart shaped piece on top and assemble it. Decorate the top with pink cream cheese icing and pistachio. Present it on chocolate chips.

White confetti cake Chocolate cake

Chocolate hearts

To temper chocolate, chop a rich chocolate bar into pieces. In a double broiler soften chocolate and stir well. Pour on wax paper or thick plastic sheet and level the top. After it cools a little, make heart shaped cuts using cookie cutter and leave it in the refrigerator to harden completely. Gently remove the heart shaped chocolate slices.

Assemble 2 layers of cake with pink icing between and on top, place a chocolate heart and cashews to garnish. Present it on cashew nuts!

Chocolate cakeRed Velvet cake

Decorate two heart shaped red velvet cakes with pink icing and silver balls. Present it on a bed of pistachio nuts. Oh no, it is not perfect, as the silver balls should have been in a heart shape…missed that!

Red velvet cakeThis red velvet cake has a unique taste and I have decided to make it again! The colour is not that red as produced by artificial colours. I understand that beetroot powder needs chocolate to retain its colour. Maybe I should try with less chocolate and more red colour next time.

3 Valentines cakesFor Valentine’s day the weather here is predicted to be very cold with wind chills plunging it down to -22°C which is -7° F, so it is good to cuddle up and not venture outside to test my mettle and get frustrated. Perhaps, watch a romantic movie at home! Happy Valentine’s day everyone!

I am linking this to Fiesta Friday #55

 

Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Cake, Celebration, Cheese, comfort food, Dessert, Easy recipe, Not just for kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Potato chip cup Frittata/Bite size egg breakfast

Omelette in potato cups

pcu I am wondering, what if chickens were not domesticated and they delivered chicks instead of eggs! I’m sure our dietary intake would be totally messed up! But thank god, we are blessed with both. So I express my gratitude to the maker, before cooking every egg!

When a plain omelette becomes boring…(as if that will even happen…just an excuse,) I switch to its other variations. Italian Frittata and Spanish omelletes are eggs cooked in a skillet with some more extra ingredients to cheer up.

Eggs in Frittata are beaten vigourously and ingredients like bell pepper, mushroom, tomato or meat are added to make a fluffy omellette in a skillet where the top remains yellow. Spanish omellete has potatoes which are diced and cooked in oil before adding to the eggs. The other main ingredient in it is onion. This is cooked in a skillet with additional vegetables on medium heat and flipped carefully to brown both sides.

Trying to name this dish, I was quite confused because I went free style to create the cups and incorporated eggs to make a Frittata but the potatoes gave it a Spanish air. As I did not flip it, I should stick with Frittata…right! Baking omlette in muffin pan is a time tested recipe. It is always interesting to experiment and change a dish ever so slightly to give it a personal touch. Adding potato in a different style is my new venture.

Occasionally, I am left with a bag of potato chips having a hostile, don’t-like-it flavour. This time it is salt and vinegar and it sat in the pantry with its opened mouth clipped. I devised a plan to finish off that bag and give it a new lease of life.  These mini Frittatas swept me off my feet with its amazing flavour, crispy potato chips and spongy eggs, making me sing its praise.

IMG_9182 There is no hard and fast rule for cracking an egg and making it, egg-citing!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 30 oval shaped potato chips
  • 1/2 white onion
  • a small piece of green bell pepper
  • few slices of tomato
  • carrot slices to decorate
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch turmeric powder
  • few coriander leaves
  • coconut oil to coat paper liner
  1. Soak potato chips in a bowl of water until it is soft.
  2. Place soaked potato chips on a kitchen towel to drain excess water.
  3. Chop onions, bell pepper and tomato into small pieces.
  4. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk gently adding turmeric powder, milk, chopped onion, bell pepper, tomato, salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  6. Take a muffin pan and drop paper muffin liners in 6 cups.
  7. Coat the inside of the paper liners generously with coconut oil.
  8. Arrange 4-5 potato chips in the paper liners with the oval ends projecting above.
  9. Fill 1/2 cup with egg mixture and decorate top with cilantro leaves, tomato and carrot slices.
  10. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the chips are crisped.

This makes 6 mini Frittatas. It is ready when the soggy chips firm up and hold like petals. I guess, longer time made the egg mixture shrink a bit. Maybe soak the chips less!

potato chipsOn soaking, the oil from the chips float to the top and it is quite alarming to see all that fat emerge. This will eventually, help you cut down on crunching those chips.

Baked in muffin pans these make an excellent appetizer, snack, breakfast or brunch item. These are delicious hot, warm or cold. They are done at the same time to serve the whole family saving time and effort. potato2 The smell of crisping potatoes and eggs baking is irresistible and everyone will rush to the breakfast table without an invite. Talk about a fun way to start a day!

I am sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday# 54 at https://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/

Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Breakfast, Brunch, Easy recipe, Not just for kids, Pack-and-go lunch, Pack-and-go snack, Side dish, Snack | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Vitenamese salad wrap/Asian rice-paper salad

Vietnamese spring rolls/Gỏi cuốn

rice-paper saladI have an unspoken resentment towards raw vegetables. It could be the pain of chewing them like a cow or the inpatients to break down all those hard cellulose. Come on, cooking was invented for a purpose!

Mom always used a threatening unkind eye expression to make me eat my veggies…so I had to pretend to be agreeable by chewing them reading a book or drowning it over a  radio voice! When it was my turn to be a mother, I was forced to instil good eating habits in my kids but…I flunked miserably! It was really lucky for them to have a father as a role model at their table. Our kitchen was overflowing with fruits and veggies and he even chopped fruits and laid them on the counter in an effort to tempt us. My daughter took to it like a fish to water, but my son secretly followed me with his sweet tooth.

Up until now, I cheat myself to eat veggies and fruits and disappoint myself. I know simple food is always the best! Inevitably, vegetables are epitomes of health, vigor, longevity and sanity! But I am hopeless! My only comfort is cocoa being a plant!

As eating vegetables on its own is a tough choice for me, this salad wrap is an attractive alternative. Colours of goodness wrapped in rice paper with its fancy appearance does the trick! The transparent skin is kind of sexy and vegetables chopped into thin strips make it pleasing to the eyes.

rice rollIngredients

  • few Vietnamese rice-paper wrappers
  • warm water for soaking the rice-paper
  • ¼ cup julienned red bell pepper
  • ½ cup julienned green bell pepper
  • ½ cup julienned carrots
  • few french beans
  • 8-10 mushrooms
  • 1 cup cooked rice noodles
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • salt & pepper
  • few cilantro leaves
  1. Julienne carrots using a julienne blade on a mandolin.
  2. Cut peppers into long thin pieces.
  3. Submerge french beans in water and blanch them in a microwave for a minute.
  4. Remove the beans and slice them thinly.
  5. Add whole mushrooms to the same water with salt and pepper and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove them, cool and slice them.
  7. Take a rice paper wrapper and plunge it in a flat bowl of warm water.
  8. Remove it gently when it softens and spread it on a clean kitchen towel to drain excess water.
  9. Transfer the soaked rice-paper wrapper on to a chopping board and sprinkle some cilantro leaves and sesame seeds.
  10. Place the cut vegetables and rice noodles in the center leaving space on top and bottom.
  11. Sprinkle salt and pepper to season.
  12. Fold the top and bottom of wrapper on to the filling and roll.
  13. Repeat with the remaining wrappers.

Dipping sauce

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp ground peanut
  • salt and pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add ground peanut on top and serve it as a dipping sauce.

rice saladDip the rolls in sauce while eating. The crunch of the vegetables and the soft wrapping with the cheerful taste of the sauce is worth a try. It can be cut into half at an angle as individual pieces and displayed on a platter for guests.

If you are not a fan of rice noodles it can be deleted completely. To make the noodles more appealing, toss it in a mixture of sesame oil, salt and white wine vinegar before bundling it with the vegetables.

These fresh rolls are very popular in Canada. I do like them as an appetizer when I visit Vietnamese restaurants. This is a compact salad, easy to handle.

Posted in Appetizer, Raw food, Salad, Side dish, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Waffles/ Whole wheat oat waffles

Whole wheat, oat, buttermilk waffles

Breakfast waffleWhen we planned to move to Canada, I gathered a lot of information about its weather, food, clothing, schools and housing! Even Columbus would not have done that much homework! All in my holy desire to make life livable in an unfamiliar land!

I happened to meet a young girl who had come on vacation to Kenya and among all other things I asked her, ‘What do you eat for breakfast?’ She went on listing things like cereal, toast, bagels, muffin, sandwiches and she also mentioned Waffles. I was indeed curious to find out what it was. She gave a child’s view of it by explaining waffles as pancakes in a pattered mould, crisped up and having a spongy interior.

From then on, I was eager to have an encounter with it at the earliest. Unfortunately, I had my first chance after a year in Canada while we were at a hotel that provided a large selection of complimentary breakfast. At their breakfast lounge they had an appliance I had never seen before! Without a clue, I was hanging around to find out how it would be used! I sat in close proximity, with the machine in my clear view to monitor the process. Slyly, I observed someone pour a cup of batter kept ready at the table on to the gadget.  After a while he rotated it upside down and in minutes pulled out 4 crispy, square pieces of waffles. I was more than amazed and kept yapping about it!

My husband  dared me to try it and introduced me to the Waffle maker and helped me make my first set of waffles. An assistant behind the counter topped it with cream and strawberries and then I sat down to taste it. Man, I was in sheer bliss! That thrill got stuck in my mind as it made a terrific impression! It could be just me…basically it is not even an intricate technique!

Then, I pestered my husband to get my hands on my own Waffle iron. It took quite some time to make the decision to buy one as he doesn’t like eating all those empty calories.

I went through many trials before I perfected waffles and then there was no looking back. This is my modified recipe with whole wheat, oats and buttermilk added to make a better batter to convince everyone to eat it. If a waffle maker is not around, pancakes are perfectly possible with this batter.

Ingredients

  • ¹⁄ ³ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¹⁄ ³ cup oat flour
  • ¹⁄ ³ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg separated
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  1. Take whole wheat flour, oat flour and all purpose flour in a bowl.
  2. Add sugar, baking powder, salt and whisk it well.
  3. Whisk egg yolk, buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract in another bowl.
  4. Beat egg whites separately in a bowl  with an electric beater until it foams to form soft peaks.
  5. Pour buttermilk mix into dry ingredients and blend well.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Allow batter to stand for 5 minutes.
  8. Preheat a Waffle maker. (Follow instruction on the maker.)
  9. When red light turns on the Waffle maker, pour 1/2 cup batter or enough to cover all the grooves and close lid.
  10. Cook waffle until the light turns off or waffle turns crisp on the top.
waffle

Tasty waffleThe popular North American breakfast Waffle is served with different combinations of toppings. They vary from butter, whipped cream, maple syrup, honey, fruit syrups, bacon,  powdered sugar, fresh soft fruits, chocolate spread or vanilla ice cream.

I served hot waffles with berry sauce and whipped cream. Then topped with some blue berries and maple syrup. This berry sauce is made by boiling raspberries and blueberries with sugar and crushing them.

Kids definitely love this kind of fancy food for its texture and toppings. Waffles is your best choice for a delicious brunch.

pacBreakfast is served everybody!

 

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, comfort food, Main dish, Not just for kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Eggplant curry/ Baingan Bartha

 Brinjal curry

BainganI have a love-hate relationship with brinjal/eggplant. I like it in tomato chutney, stir fried and fried whole with spices stuffed as in eggplant-masala . I hate it floating as big chunks in curries. But when it is roasted, charred and crushed to make this curry it is a totally new story…I am wild about it!

Eggplant is a silly name for something that is related to tomato and potato. I wonder, why call a vegetable, a plant? It is surely a plant part, still has no taste of an egg to boast. Chickens have every right to be pissed off if they know of egg plants. It should be rightfully named mammoth egg or purple egg to be suggestive but it doesn’t look like an egg to begin with…it’s more of a disfigured bulb.  Why didn’t we name it, a purple bulb or Purmato?

purmatoI am in a fun mood, so decided to rename a vegetable!

Who names these anyways? Common man! Then there should be some common sense applied. There are other vegetables with irrelevant names…like lady’s finger. Does it remotely look like a lady’s finger? Ugh! more like Shrek’s finger! Why not call it, man’s finger…okay, I don’t want to go there!

If eating your greens, means only green leafy vegetables…can purple Kale fit into the list or cabbage and lettuce come under greens?

Poor Mushroom has no room, only a fancy roof to claim. We should consider calling it an fungibrella!

Berries have more to complain with wacky names like gooseberry, elderberry, straw berry (for a dark red berry) and chokeberry (really, and eat it!).

Have you ever thought about these absurd vegetable names? Anyways, quoting Shakespeare, ‘What is in a name?’….an eggplant called brinjal or aubergine or anything would taste slightly bitter when raw and develops a complex rich flavour on cooking.

IMG_2001-001Indian Curry – Basics

Technically, Indian curries have a gravy made of onion, ginger, garlic and tomato or yogurt or coconut or pureed spinach or chillies. Curries vary with the addition of cooked lentils and vegetables. A blend of spices that differ from family to family, make each curry distinct. This also contributes to the fact that there are thousands of different curries. Seasoning it with mustard or cumin spluttered in hot oil is another integral process. Garnishing with coriander leaves, curry leaves or cream completes it.

This Baingan Bartha or eggplant masala is made following the same principle.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium brinjal/eggplant
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger, garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 medium tomato/½ cup canned cut tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp jaggery/sugar
  • salt
  • few sprigs coriander leaves
  1. Poke egg plant/brinjal with the tines of a fork to let steam escape and roast it on a fire (stove top or in an oven or barbeque).
  2. Once the skin turns blackish and flaky, remove it from the fire and put it in a container and cover it to sweat out.
  3. After it cools, peel burned skin from egg plant.
  4. Roughly chop the flesh with a knife or smash it with a spoon.
  5. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard to splutter.
  6. Add chopped onions and saute until golden.
  7. Crush garlic, ginger and green chillies and saute in pan.
  8. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tender and oil separates.
  9. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala.
  10. Toss the mashed brinjal in this mixture and stir well to coat with the spices.
  11. Cook for a few minutes and sprinkle lemon juice, salt and jaggery before turning off the heat.
  12. Garnish with coriander leaves.

1bWhen roasted and charred, eggplant absorbs a smokey taste which is the specialty of this curry. I used a fork to rotate it while roasting on stove top flame.

I used canned cut tomatoes. That gave it a reddish tint otherwise the curry looks more on the darker side. I also added a cube of butter to balance the heat.

This is a picture I took earlier when I used fresh tomato. Oh yeah, I do make this quite often!

eggplant curry This is a side dish that adds cheer to Roti, Naan or any Indian flat bread. I have linked this recipe to thenovicegardener.wordpress.com Fiesta Friday-50

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

 

Posted in Curry, Side dish, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Rosemary garlic spicy bread/ Rustic savoury bread

Happy New Year- 2015!

Herbs and garlic bread BreadWhen we turn the pages and move into a brand New Year with a lot of expectation, I have decided to push behind, sorrow, grief, laziness and walk into optimism and happiness mixed with a lot of love to greet it!

Let me start 2015 with a basic food-Bread!

There is nothing comforting than warm bread freshly baked to perfection! These days, I make more bread at home and enjoy the house diffused with its pleasant aroma. The best part of baking is to have its smell lingering on and cheering me up from all kinds of gloom.

I have a bad connotation associated with bread. It is silly that I have linked bread with the sick and convalescent. In olden days, when I was young, (oh..that is such an oxymoron) we used to carry a loaf of bread when visiting people recovering at the hospital. I do not know how it can help them except being easy to eat! Maybe the spongy texture assures them they would bounce back to life!  Anyways, my connection with bread has grown from considering it as a humble, recovery food to a versatile tool in the hands of gourmet chefs.

IMG_1590-002

Baking chemistry has always intrigued me. So I did some research to comprehend and make better breads. There are 4 main ingredients to bake any bread.

  1. Flour – All-purpose flour invariably
  2. Water to activate the yeast – more water makes the dough stickier, flat loaf with fewer holes and less water restricts the expansion of the dough ending up in a dry, hard loaf.
  3. Yeast – Instant yeast (also known as Bread machine yeast) or Active dry yeast, feeds on sugars in the flour and produces air bubbles(CO²).
  4. Salt – adds taste and controls the fermentation of yeast.

Any other ingredient added improves flavour and variation to our breads.

Kneading – the main process in making a good bread. It releases and aligns a protein in flour called gluten into strands. These strands trap air released by the fermenting yeast in irregular pockets. So do not tear or cut the dough while kneading. The best way to knead is to squish and roll, again and again with a little pressure. Continue for 8-10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth, elastic and silky (quite a workout for your hands).

Rising – it is a time consuming process. Warm temperature is important for rising and it also depends on the amount of yeast used in a recipe. In an hour, the activated yeast and gluten developed should rise the dough to double its size. Allow the rising in a greased bowl with a towel covering the top to save it from drying. Some recipes include punching and another rise before shaping the bread for baking. An additional hour of rising helps the yeast work further to develop better flavour. The dough will double in size after being punched down.

Baking – In the first few minutes in oven, yeast acts faster giving the dough a good rise and then it is deactivated by the increasing heat. The dough then starts cooking to reach its final destination.

This fundamental understanding of bread making helped me get a steady grip on this process. My first, Bread machine white bread here.

Now, I had to put all my learning to use…so I baked a special bread with additional ingredients. I love the herbs used in Mediterranean cuisine and a bread that incorporated its distinct taste was my best bet. Rosemary garlic breadAfter consulting some recipes on Rosemary garlic bread, I have adapted this recipe with added extra ingredients like chilli flakes and oregano. Oops, this bread seems to have more water! Will correct it next time!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (80-90°F)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2½ cups bread flour/all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp pepper powder
  • spray bottle with water
  • Olive oil to brush
  1. Take a cup of warm water, add yeast, sugar and salt.
  2. Mix well and let it stand for 10 minutes to foam.
  3. In a large bowl, take all purpose flour and add garlic powder.
  4. Add foaming yeast, olive oil and knead well for 10 minutes (or transfer to a stand mixer or bread machine on dough setting for kneading).
  5. When the dough comes together and is elastic add rosemary, oregano, black pepper and chilli flakes.
  6. Knead until everything mixes and the dough is still a little sticky.
  7. Transfer to bowl and cover the bowl with a towel.
  8. Let it do the first rising for an hour.
  9. Keep it in a warm place until it is doubled (allow it more time if the room temperature is low).
  10. When dough is doubled, transfer to a lightly floured surface and punch it down.
  11. Shape it into a round loaf and coat it with olive oil.
  12. Put it on an oiled baking tray and make cuts on the top using a sharp knife.
  13. Invert bowl over dough and allow it to rise a second time.
  14. When it is doubled in size (1 hour) gently brush top with olive oil
  15. Sprinkle rosemary and red chilli flakes.
  16. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake bread for 12 minutes.
  17. Spray water on the top of the bread and increase temperature to 400°F.
  18. After 5 minutes open door of the oven and spray water again on the baking bread.
  19. Bake until top is a pleasant golden brown (15 minutes more).
  20. Place the baked loaf on a wire rack to cool.

risingServe it warm or store it in a closed container and reheat it for a later use. The smell of this bread is amazing and eating it warm is a lovely experience. pour the dip!This hearty and garlicky bread with the Mediterranean herbs is a welcome change to ordinary plain bread. A dip made with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and ground pepper will add more flavour to this bread. Rosemary breadIt is very appetizing and you will love it just like me!

Posted in Appetizer, Baked, Breakfast, Finger food, Main dish, Not just for kids, Pack-and-go lunch, Pack-and-go snack, Side dish, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

2014 in review -A WordPress report

I got an email from WordPress.com, the web software I use for Coconutcraze, informing me of a report about my performance in 2014. I was surprised and thrilled that their stats team has taken the effort to reciprocate. How encouraging! This gives me the motivation to do better next year! Now to the report….

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

***

I take this moment to thank all visitors to Coconutcraze and all who left a word of encouragement, especially the five top commenters:

Last year would not have been so interesting without you!

Thank you and wish you all a “Very Happy New Year”!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Kerala Porotta/ Layered Flat Bread

Layered Porotta

PorottaThis is a flat bread which is flaky and made of several layers to become a fancy bread. It is mainly a street food in Kerala and slowly it has turned into a celebrated food. It is now served in high-end restaurants too, due to its popularity. Normally, it is made with white flour and a lot of oil…very unhealthy but addictive like all things evil! A combination of white flour and fat can make everything irresistible and yummy! No wonder, it has gained undue recognition and attention!

It is available as Malabar Porotta, in the frozen food sections in Kerala stores. The common accompaniments that go with Porotta range from spicy tomato fry, green peas masala, vegetable or meat kurma, egg curry to plain yogurt and pickle.  I have met people who are  crazy about this porotta and consider it as an absolute delicacy.

The most interesting part is to watch it being made in small road side stalls called ‘Thattukada’. I have stood there wide eyed, looking at the tactics and techniques used by the cook. The usual method employed in street shops, is to knead white flour (Maida) using a lot of oil and allowing it to rest for sometime. Then the Porotta Master, (title given to the expert cook) flattens it by hand stretching the gluttonous dough and spreading it out on the work top as a paper thin sheet. Adding more oil, he gathers it as folds and stretches it again and spirals it as a ball. It involves a lot of skillful maneuvers to get the right texture. It is again left for a while covered by a wet cloth and then rolled into disks and cooked.

Porotta has gradually moved from an eat-out treat to a home made special food. It was considered difficult to recreate it at home without the expertise of a trained cook. With a little creativity and kitchen skills, home cooks have transformed it to a family favourite meal. A lot of oil and simple modifications made it possible. I used to roll the dough thin and make fan like gathering before rolling it into a disks to create the layers. It was still a poor imitation of the original.

I came across a different method of making it, using very little oil on beyondcurries which was quite fascinating. Less oil and the whole wheat flour (Atta) to make layered porotta was something worth a trial.

First, I made some whole wheat flour Porotta to give it an acid test. It turned out to be great with the desired texture and perfect peel-able kind of layering.

wheat porottaIngredients

  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • warm water
  • oil
  • Some flour for rolling the porotta
  1. Take 1½ cups of whole wheat flour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add enough salt to 2 tbsp water and dissolve it.
  3. Pour this into wheat flour and mix well and then add enough warm water to make a soft dough.
  4. Knead it until it is a soft, pliable dough.
  5. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into 5 balls.
  7. Take a ball and roll it into a thin chappati.
  8. Sprinkle some oil on it and dust it with wheat flour.
  9. Cut the rolled dough into 5-6 strips using a pizza cutter or knife.
  10. Roll the first strip like a paper roll and continue overlapping with the remaining strips.
  11. After all the strips are rolled up, it will look like a flower.
  12. Press it down into a disk and flatten it with the hand to get the layers.
  13. Fatten it gently, using a rolling pin without fusing the layers.
  14. Cook this on a hot pan (tawa) flipping to the other side for even cooking.
  15. When blisters appear on the porotta, drizzle some oil and repeat it on the other side.
  16. Continue with the remaining dough balls.

porotta rolling   poporotta with curd After trying with whole wheat flour, I made it with all purpose flour just to compare the texture and quality. It was definitely better. If you want to indulge without a care and get closer to the real street food taste, this is the one to try.

flakyIt turns out tasty and flaky whichever way you choose to go! I made it many times now and enjoyed this layered delight and I vouch for this method.

Posted in Breakfast, Main dish, Pack-and-go lunch, Paratha, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments