Monday, January 25, 2010

Fettuccine in a Classic Tomato Meat Sauce

For once, I think I'll just let the pictures do the talking. After all, a picture is supposed to speak a thousand words.

Believe me, I am not short of words. In fact, I can wax eloquent about how delicious this pasta was.

But, I'd rather let the pictures do the talking.

I'll confess that I was rather uncertain about substituting fettuccine for spaghetti. But that was the only pasta I had in my pantry. And so it had to do. Not that I had any complaints with the final result.

Like I said, I'd rather let the pictures do the talking.

Admittedly, mine may not be the classic way of cooking pasta. I like to toss my pasta into the sauce and let it sit in it for a while so that all the flavours are well abosrbed and every strand of the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.

Yes, I'd rather let the pictures do the talking.

However, this much I'll certainly say: the husband who is not quite fond of pasta licked his bowl clean. Really.

Unfortunately, no pictures of that!!





Ingredients:

for the sauce:
Onion - 1 large, finely chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely minced
Bay leaf - 1

Crushed tomatoes - one 14.5 oz tin
Chicken mince - 500 gms

Red wine - 75 ml
Chicken stock - 250 ml
Mixed herbs - 2 tsps ( I use McCormick's Italian seasoning)
Crushed red chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp
Low fat cream - 50 ml

Olive oil - 2 tbsps
Salt
Sugar - 1 tsp

for the pasta
Fettuccine : now unfortunately, I just eye balled this!
Chicken stock cube - 1, optional

Method:

Heat oil and toss in the bay leaf, garlic and onions. Saute until the onions turn pink.

Next, add in the mince in 3 batches, frying for 2 minutes after every addition - or until the mince loses its raw colour. Once you've added all the mince, stir fry on high heat for about 5-7 minutes.

Then, add the crushed tomatoes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock and the wine and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to the lowest setting and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mixed herbs, salt and sugar and simmer for another 15 minutes after which add the cream and turn the gas off. Remember the bay leaf we put in? Toss that out.

Cook your pasta as per the intructions on the package; I normally cook mine with a splash of olive oil and a chicken stock cube - believe me, this does wonders to the taste.
Drain the cooked pasta and then toss it into the sauce. On very low heat, let the pasta and the sauce cook together for 2 minutes before you serve it.


No, I will not say a word about how yum the pasta was - the pictures should tell you everything!





Sending this off to Chaya of Sweet and Savoury who is hosting this week's Presto Pasta Nights, event started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.





Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Masaledaar Lobia (Spicy Red Cow Peas)



If there is anything I dislike more than cooking....

Oops....did I just say "dislike cooking"? Now, that is quite a sacrilege for a food blogger, isn't it?

Well, truth be told, there are days when making the "roz ka khana" does bore me to no end! Yes, there are days when I do dislike cooking.

But, if there is anything that I dislike more than cooking, it is planning and deciding what to make. Believe me, there are days when I am at an absolute loss over what to make. I go over what I have in the fridge and in the pantry and still draw an absolute blank over what to make. Of course, the husband is very helpful on days like these. "Make anything," he says. "Just make something tasty." Yeah, right!!

So when great food - food that I absolutely love - appears almost magically on my plate without me having to plan the menu and cook it , where do you think I would be?

In a restaurant? Good guess and quite close, but no.

Great food without even having to ask for it - that is possible in only one place in the world: my mom's kitchen.

Now, I can go on and on about what a fabulous cook my mom is. But I won't. Because it is something that every person knows - that nothing quite measures up to mom's cooking.

However, there is this one thing I will say about my mom's cooking: that she sometimes follows very different ways of cooking.

Take this particular lobia curry, for instance. Counter-intuitive. That is what I call her way of making lobia. After all, isn't it common practice to sauté/fry the onions FIRST?

No need, says the mater. She puts the onions right at the end in this particular lobia curry. And it tastes absolutely awesome. In fact, it is the only way I eat lobia.





Ingredients:

Lal lobia or red cow peas* : 1/2 cup, soaked at least 6-8 hrs

Whole garam masala: Cloves: 4 nos, Black Cardamom: 1 large, Bay leaf: 1
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp

Tomato: 1 large, chopped
Ginger and garlic paste: 1 tsp each
Green chilli: 2, chopped
Onions: 1 large, grated
Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp

Coriander leaves, chopped: 2 tbsps

Oil
Salt

Method:

Pressure cook the lobia with the whole garam masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and some salt. Discard the black cardamom and the bay leaf after the lobia is cooked.

Heat oil, add the garlic paste followed by the ginger paste. Then, add the tomatoes and cook till they get soft and mushy.

Add the cooked lobia and the chopped green chillies. Add some water, half the coriander leaves and the grated onions. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for at least 15 minutes on a medium high flame. Top up the water as needed and stir occasionally. Finally, add the garam masala powder, a dash of sugar and the remaining coriander leaves.

Serve hot with rotis/rice with some yoghurt on the side. I must say it again, tastes awesome!

* I have used red lobia, but you could use black eyed peas or even rajma and follow the same method. It works.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adai Dosa

For years, dosa to me only meant sada dosa, paper dosa, mysore dosa and rava dosa. The ones that are available in every Udipi restaurant. The ones that my mom made.
Till I got married, that is. Which is when I realised that there were many other types of dosas that I hadn't even heard of.

Adai quickly went on to become my favourite. For starters, it is a very non - fussy dosa: it doesn't involve a very long soaking period or any elaborate grinding. And most importantly, it is a very wholesome dosa - a lovely combination of carbs and protein.

But I fell in love with adai because of its versatility. Very easy to make and filling, it can be served as lunch or dinner or breakfast or even as an in between meals snack. To me, it is the perfect meal answer for those times when I don't feel like cooking up an elaborate meal and yet want something wholesome made at home.




Ingredients:

Rice (any short grained variety will do) : 2 cups
Black urad dal: 1/2 cup
Toor dal: 1/2 cup
Curry leaves: a handful
Peppercorn: 1/2 tsp
Green chillies: 2
Dried red chillies: 2
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Asafoetida: 3/4 tsp (this is the one thing that adds a unique taste to the adai, don't skip it!)
Salt

I make my adais spicy, so adjust the peppercorns and chillies to suit your taste.

optional:
grated coconut: 2 tbsps
grated ginger: 1 tsp


Method:

Soak the rice and lentils for about 4 hours.

Then drain the water, and put the rice and soaked lentils into a blender along with all the other ingredients listed above (till cumin seeds). Add just enough water to get your blades moving and gradually add as much more water as needed to grind to a coarse batter. I normally need just under 1/2 cup of water.

Add salt and asafoetida; also add the grated coconut and ginger to the batter, if using, and mix well.

Heat a frying pan (tava) and smear it with some oil. Then, scoop out the batter in a ladle and pour it into the centre of the pan. Working quickly, spread the batter outwards into concentric circles with the bottom of the ladle. Don't worry about making it thin; adai is slightly thicker than the normal dosa.

Add some oil on the outer edges and cook on medium high heat till the underside turns a deep golden brown. Flip over and cook for half a minute.

Serve hot with some green chutney; Personally, I love to melt a blob of butter on the hot adai and sprinkle some gunpowder on it. Spicy and delicious!!


Adais are making their way to MLLA - 19 hosted by EC, event started by Susan.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lost in Pronunciation and Dulce de Leche Flan



Dulce de leche flan is one of the most decadent desserts I have ever eaten. It has a silky, rich, creamy, melt in your mouth texture..... Yes, talk about singing paeans of praise! But then once you've eaten a dulce de leche flan, you will agree that it is deserving of all those adjectives that I have written.



No, it is not really a caramel custard, though it quite looks like one; the complex toffee and caramel flavour of this flan will drive you to...well, raptures of delight!



Undoubtedly, this is one of my favourite desserts - pity I got to know of this dessert a mere 3 years ago!





Rewind to 2006, I was in the kitchen making kulfi while my helper looked over very intently.


What are you making with the condensed milk, she asked.


Kulfi, I told her and proceeded to explain what kulfi was all about.


Even I know a very delicious dessert with condensed milk, she told me. Lichee flan, it is called she said.



Now, I just love litchis (litchi/ lychee depending on where you are and how you pronounce it) so a litchi flan did sound nice.



Then one day when we were in the supermarket, my eye fell on some really luscious litchis and thought of asking her to make the flan. Pick up what you need to make your litchi flan, I told her.


So she went around and came back with condensed milk, evaporated milk and eggs. No litchis though.


How on earth are you going to make litchi flan without picking up any litchis, I demanded.


She looked at me as if I were talking gibberish. But litchi flan does not need any litchis, she explained patiently.


Duh? Just what exactly are you making, I asked her again.


Litchi flan. It is like the ummm.....caramel pudding you make.


Huh? I was completely baffled. Litchi flan without litchis? What exactly are you making, I asked her exasperatedly. Can you spell it for me please?


And so, she typed on her phone : Leche flan.


Litchi flan, she said.


Ah ha! Laychay flan, I muttered.










I never got around to noting down her recipe. And so when I made Dulce de Leche flan, I surfed the net and landed on somes recipe that I liked; I have mixed n matched several to finally come up with this one.

Ingredients:

for the custard

Dulce de Leche - 1 tin (here'e how you make the dulce de leche)
Milk - 500 ml
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
zest of half a lemon - don't skip this, it adds a lovely flavour to the flan
1 small vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract (this time, I used vanilla extract as I didn't have the pod; I do prefer using the vanilla pod)



for the caramel:

125 gms sugar
75 ml water

Method:

First, make the caramel: add the water and the sugar together in a pan and allow the sugar to melt whilst gently stirring. Then let it caramelise; turn off the gas when it reaches a deep amber colour.

Pour the caramel into a flan pan and swirl it around to coat the base and the sides of the pan. (I used a 9" cake pan).



Split the vanilla pod length-wise and scrape the seeds. Scald the milk in a saucepan and add the vanilla seeds and pod* to the milk. Slowly add the dulce de leche to the milk, stirring constantly till the dulce de leche is dissolved. Once the dulce de leche is dissolved, turn off the gas and allow the mixture to cool a bit. You will need to stir it a bit to avoid the skin from forming on top of the milk mixture.

Lightly beat together all the eggs and the lemon rind* and add it to the cooled milk - dulce de leche mixture. Mix well.
(* if you are using vanilla extract, then whisk it with the eggs instead of adding it to the milk).



Discard the pod and pour the custard into the prepared flan pan. If there are too many bubbles in your mixture, then scoop these off with a spoon.



Pre-heat the oven at 160 deg C for 10 mins. You will need to bake the flan in a water bath, so while you are pre heating the oven, set some water to boil.

Place your flan pan in a larger baking tray and pour the just boiled water into the larger baking tray; the water should come 2/3 up the side of the flan pan.

Bake for about 40 mins at 160 deg C or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Else, keep baking in 5 min increments.

Cool your flan in a water bath till it comes to room temperature, then chill it for at least 3 hours. To serve, loosen the edges of the flan with a knife and then invert it on your serving dish. Pour all the caramel over the flan.

You could serve it right away, but I prefer to chill my flan overnight; it really allows all the flavours to infuse well.

Oh, and make sure you pronounce it as dulsay the laychay flan to avoid any confusion!



Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello, Twenty Ten!

To: Served With Love
Cc: Cooking 4 All Seasons


Sub: Best of 2009


Dear blog,

Imagine my horror when I couldn't sign in to blogger this morning. Initially, I thought you were miffed at me for having disappeared for so long without even a word. It took me a moment to realise that I was keying in the wrong password. I forgot the password to sign in to my blog - now, can you believe that!


So where was I, you demand to know.

Well, I was back in the desh. Surrounded by family, who pretty much ignored my presence and had eyes only for my daughter.


But did you miss me, you ask.

Wish I could say that I missed you so much. Wish I could say that I was itching to look you up, and write a new post but could not as there was no connectivity. But I'll say none of that. Truth is that I did not miss you - at all. But having said that, believe me when I say this - I am very very glad to see you again!

Oh come on, don't look at me so reproachfully. I did look you up - once. Remember I had scheduled a post telling my readers that I was on a break? Well that post never got published and now I know why.....I had scheduled it for Dec. 15 2010.

Yes, 2010. When I have scarcely bid farewell to 2009!! But you know me, I do tend to do scatter-brained things like that sometimes. Let'sl not dwell over my silliness for too long!


So what did I do back home, you wonder.

Since the family was not too interested in me, I turned my attention to eating. Street food, to be specific.

Batata wadas, pav bhaji, pani puri, bhel puri - I gorged on them all with a vengeance. Yes, I know I make them at home - I have even blogged about bhelpuri and pav bhaji , but the magic in eating these on the streets is indescribable!

And whether it was street food or food at home - food in India tastes fabulous. And I was really pampered when it came to eating - such a spread and I didn't have to even lift a finger to make anything!

Of course, when the husband proudly told everyone how well I cooked (she started making bread - she does bake a fabulous loaf), they demanded proof. So Christmas Day saw the family carving the succulent Slow Roast Chicken, without the wine sauce though - because we drank it all up. I would have loved to make and decorate a cake for dessert but then I had not much to work with, and so they had to make do with kulfi instead.

But then, where are the pictures, you ask.

Well, they didn't quite have the patience for that - they are not conditioned to blogging, quipped the husband. But between you and me, they drooled buckets at these pictures!

I also made some sandwiches, specifically for you. Regretably, though I read Ladies Coupe on the flight, I missed posting my book review this month. You do know how I look forward to every month's This Book Makes Me Cook, don't you? What fabulous bloggers I have come to know in the nine months that I have been part of the book club! I've read books that I hadn't even heard of and my entire approach to reading has changed forever.


How was the shopping, you are wondering.

Shhhhh. Quiet. Don't make me open my mouth (bag) and spill all the beans....I mean masalas.

Well, if you must know, I shopped - a lot. Clothes, more clothes and still more. And well, yes, one bag was devoted to food. Home made masalas and pickles, an assortment of snacks and mithais. And an idli grinder. As you know, ever since I discovered this recipe, I just enjoy making idlis! Now, with the grinder coming in, we are going to have lots of idlis.

Oh and I have come back armed with so many new recipes that I can't wait to get into the kitchen to try them out. Yes, some of them are the real traditional Marathi (CKP) recipes that I have always loved eating, but never tried my hand at making.
So while I continue to indulge my love for cakes n bakes and dabble in different cuisines, I am hoping to learn making these traditional goodies. And yes, I am planning to be more regular than I have been in these past few months, both in updating you and visiting other blogs.

There...finally, I see you smiling!

I'll be back here again really soon...

Hugs,
Aqua


PS: No, no, I haven't forgotten.......

Wish you all a very Happy 2010. Hope the year ahead brings you all you wish for and more.


It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

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