Friday, January 28, 2011

Easy Breezy Potato Stir Fry

A month before our marriage and "I don't know how to cook" was something my husband heard me say more often than "I love you". Much as I was eager to tie the knot, the thought of having to manage a house, especially handling the cooking, was giving me nightmares.

He would, of course, reassure me that I didn't have to worry about cooking. "Takeaway" and "employing someone to cook" were the words he said more often than "I love you".


Perhaps it was the lure of the shiny, new pots and pans. Perhaps it was the complete boredom with having takeaway food everyday. Perhaps it was that thing called love. Whatever it was, before long, I wanted to cook a meal for us.


Batatyachi kachryachi bhaji (loosely translated as sliced potato stir fry) is what I settled on. After all, you can't go wrong with potatoes - they taste delicious any which way you make them. Plus, though I had never actually made the stir fry myself, I had seen my mum make it very very often and knew that it was very easy to make.





"This is delicious! Who says you can't cook?!" he said when he had the potato stir fry. " Yessss, I can cook," I thought to myself happily. Carried away by the success at the potato stir fry, I took on a more challenging recipe to cook the next day. That was a disaster, but more of that on some other post.

For now, check out this easy breezy spicy potato stir fry, our favourite way of having potatoes.



Ingredients:


Potatoes: 3 medium sized
Onions: 1 large
Curry leaves: 7-8
Green chillies: 2, chopped
Coriander leaves: 2 tbsps, chopped
Mustard seeds: 3/4 tsp
Asafoetida/hing: 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil: 1.5 tbsps


Method:


Wash the potatoes and pat dry. Quarter them length-wise and then slice them into thin triangles.


Soak them in a bowl of water for about 10 mins and then drain them.


Heat oil in a non stick wok. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the green chillies, curry leaves and the hing and stir for half a minute.


Toss in the onions and saute till they soften and turn pink. Add the turmeric powder and salt and stir for half a minute.


Now add the drained potatoes and stir fry them on a high heat (you need to keep stirring constantly else the potatoes will stick to the pan and gently else they will fall apart as they start to cook) for about 10 minutes or until done.

Finally, add the coriander leaves and the juice of half a lemon.


Serve hot with dal, rice and some pickle on the side for a really rustic, hearty and satisfying meal.






Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers

Say Thai food and the first thing that comes to mind is the ubiquitous Green Curry followed closely by Tom Yum Soup or Pad Thai or Red Curry or Chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. Take any Thai restaurant anywhere in the world and you will most certainly find these few dishes on the menu, no matter that in some places, they don't quite taste like the "real" thing!


Thai cuisine is one of our favourites and one that we turn to very often. We love the spicy and zesty flavours, combined with the very aromatic herbs that almost do a tango on the tongue! Oh yes, I will say this again, we simply love Thai food.




One of my favourite Thai dishes is this grilled chicken on lemongras skewers. Delicately flavoured with basil and chilli, it is the faint aromatic hint of lemongrass that takes its taste to an entirely different level.
Not too many restaurants seem to carry it on their menus but making them at home is so so easy that you will not want to seek it on restaurant menus at all!

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Skewers
Ingredients:

Chicken mince: 750 gms
Garlic paste: 1.5 tbsp
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Red chillies: 2
Basil leaves: 2 tbsps, finely chopped
Coriander leaves: 2 tbsps, finely chopped
Lemongrass stalk: 2 tsps, very finely chopped
Fish sauce: 1 tsp, optional
Lime juice: 1 tbsp
Salt
Egg: 1, small (I use a 40 gm egg)

Lemongrass stalks: 10 nos
for the basting liquid:
Sugar: 2 tsps
Finely chopped lemongrass stalk: 1 tsp
Water: 3 tsps
Oil: 3 tsps

Method:

Wash the lemongrass stalks and pat dry. Run a rolling pin along the length of the stalks in order to release the aromatic oils. Cut the stalk into 2 (each piece should be about 5 inches long) and set aside.


Into the chicken mince, add the ginger garlic pastes, chopped red chillies, finely chopped basil and coriander leaves, lemon juice, salt and fish oil, if using, and mix well.


Lightly beat the egg and add it to the chicken mince. Mix well.

(You need to taste test at this stage to ensure that all the flavours are to your liking. To do that, fry a small ball of mince over the frying pan or zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Taste and adjust the herbs and seasonings to suit your taste).


Divide the mince into 20 equal portions and chill for about 15 minutes in the fridge.


Dab a little oil over your palms, shape each ball of mince around one end of the lemongrass stalk and place over a baking tray lined with aluminium foil.

Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or longer.

Pre-heat the oven/grill to 180 deg C. Brush the top side of the skewers with the basting liquid and grill for 10 minutes. Turn them over, brush with the basting liquid and grill for a further 10 minutes or until done.

Meanwhile, make a dipping sauce. I mix together a splash of light soy sauce, fish oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, chilli flakes and chopped lemongrass.



Serve hot with the dipping sauce and some salad on the side.
These grilled lemongrass chicken skewers are a crowd pleaser. Whenever I serve it as finger food at parties, they are gone in no time. Take a bite and you'll know why!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dark Chocolate Orange Ice Cream

I love chocolates. I have always loved chocolates. (The many cavities in my teeth and the dentist bills I have raked up over the years will bear testimony to that love!)



Initially, it was milk chocolates and chocolates with assorted nuts and dry fruits. Much later, I discovered dark chocolates and liqueur centred chocolates and my love for chocolates only intensified.





Ironically, much as I love chocolates, I don't much care for chocolate ice cream. In fact, it has been ages since I ate chocolate ice cream.









A couple of days ago, I happened to zest some oranges for making this Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake, when all of a sudden, I had this intense desire to have the chocolate orange combo in an ice cream.


The cake didn't happen that evening but I managed to fall in love with chocolates in ice creams after a long, long time!


Dark Chocolate Orange Ice Cream



Ingredients:



Low fat milk: 3 cups
Sugar: 3/4 cup* (you could do a taste test and add more, 3/4 cup works perfectly for us)
Cornflour: 2 tbsps
Cocoa: 3 tbsps
Bittersweet chocolate chips**: 2/3 cup
Low fat cream: 1/2 cup
Zest of 1.5 oranges
Orange essence: 1/4 tsp
Vodka: 1 tbsp, optional
(**if using semi-sweet chocolate chips, reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup)

Method:

In a cup of milk, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and the cornstarch till the mixture is lump-free and smooth. (I simply put everything into a liquidiser - saves a lot of effort in mixing!)


In a small saucepan, heat the cream till it starts to bubble around the edges. Pour it over the chocolate chips and mix till the chocolate chips are melted.


In another saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk with the orange zest. Heat until the milk just starts to steam. Turn the heat off, cover and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Then remove the zest from the milk and re-heat till the milk starts to simmer.

Pour the cocoa mixture into the simmering milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and cook the mixture on a low heat until it comes to a rolling boil and starts to thicken. Turn off the gas and remove the saucepan from the burner.


Add the cream-chocolate chips mixture and the orange essence to this custard and stir till properly combined.


Cool on the counter top to room temperature, add in the vodka, if using, and then chill in the refrigerator for atleast 5-6 hours, preferably overnight and then freeze according to the directions of your ice cream machine.





Mmm....mmmm....mmmmmm.....if you love the chocolate orange combo, then this is a flavour you must absolutely must try. The dark chocolate gives it a very intense chocolatey taste followed by a very delicate flavour of orange.


However, if you'd rather not mix chocolates and oranges, just skip the orange zest and the essence from the recipe. The resulting dark chocolate ice cream will satiate every chocoholic!


This delicious melting treat is off to Julia who is hosting In the Bag - December.



Friday, January 7, 2011

Cheesy Garlic and Spiced Cottage Cheese Pull Apart Rolls

Remember in this post I had mentioned a word that I like very much? Yes....serendipity.

These rolls were also, in a way, serendipitous.


It was like this....one morning, I was standing in the check out lane at the local supermarket. Behind me were two women and they were excitedly discussing some dinner party that they had been to. I didn't mean to eavesdrop but then in my defense, they were speaking a tad loudly and they bitching about the food that was served. "Except for the stuffed buns...you know, the ones with feta cheese and spinach. Those were divine," declared one of them.


Stuffed feta cheese and spinach buns....that sounded very interesting and I made a mental note to find out about those buns.





Back home, I wasted no time in googling 'stuffed feta cheese buns'. I was also simultaneouly surfing through some food blogs and landed on this post.

Now, I had bookmarked Suhaina's garlic rolls quite sometime back, but never got around to making them. Ditto with Nag's bread paneer rolls.

With the thought of those stuffed feta cheese buns still in my head, somehow an idea began to take shape - why not make the rolls as per Suhaina's recipe and use some spiced paneer as per Nag's recipe in place of the garlic butter?



Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Rolls and Spiced Cottage Cheese Pull Apart Rolls
(adapted from here and here)

Ingredients:

for the bread:

Plain flour: 1.5 cups OR plain flour : 1 cup and whole wheat bread flour: 1/2 cup*
Yeast: 1/2 tbsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Water: 1/2 cup + 2 tbsps
Olive oil: 2 tbsps + 1 tsp

*(the rolls in the photos are made from plain white flour; I have since made them with a combination of whole wheat flour and plain flour and they are just as good).


for the paneer/ cottage cheese stuffing:

Crumbed paneer: 1/2 cup
Chopped bell pepper: 2 tbsps
Chopped onion: 2 tbsps
Nando's hot peri peri sauce: 1 tbsp (substitute with any other spicy sauce or tomato ketchup)
Sugar: 1 tsp
Coriander leaves: 2 tbsps, chopped
Salt

Simply toss all the ingredients together into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

for the garlic butter:

Unsalted butter: 3 tbsps (original uses salted but I was also using cheese and hence used unsalted butter)
garlic: 2 tsps, grated
coriander leaves: 2 tbps finely chopped
grated cheese: 2 tbsps (optional but it really ups the yum factor)

Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes, then mix the grated cheese, garlic and the coriander leaves.


Method:

Mix the yeast with a tbsp of water and sugar and set aside for 10 mins, by which time you will see a creamy foam starting to form - this means that all's well with the yeast.

(in the original recipe, the yeast is whisked with the flour, but I prefer to ensure that my yeast is alive and well before I proceed with the making the dough).


Whisk together the flour and the salt. Add in the yeast mixture and the warm water and mix till all the flour comes together into a ball of dough. Depending on the flour you use, the temperature and humidity in your part of the world, you might need to use more or less water.



Add the oil to the dough, half a tbsp at a time, and knead to get a smooth dough. The dough should spring back when pressed with the fingers.





Grease a large bowl with a tsp of olive oil, turn the dough in the oil so that it is evenly coated with the oil, cover the bowl with a damp tea cloth and let the dough double. My dough took about an hour to double.




Punch out the air from the dough and divide it into two.



On a well floured surface, roll out one ball into a rectangle about 1 cm thick. Spread the paneer mixture evenly over it and roll it into a log, as such:







Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 4 equal portions.


Then roll out the second ball of dough in a similar fashion and spread the garlic butter on top, roll into a log and cut into 4 equal portions.


In well greased baking tray, place the rolls cut side up and brush the top with some milk. I alternate the garlic butter rolls and the masala paneer rolls (just for the heck of it!) as such:





Let the rolls rise for about 20 minutes and in the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.


Bake for about 30 - 35 mins till the top of the rolls turns golden brown.


Take a blob of cold butter and rub it over the top of the freshly baked rolls. This is optional but it gives the rolls a lovely shine. When cool enough to handle, pull them apart and eat.







The garlic rolls are very popular all over the blogosphere and with good reason. They are pillowy soft and oh so delicious. We had them alongwith this vegetable casserole and they were absolutely amazing.



But it was the cottage cheese rolls that had me all excited - with the addition of whole wheat flour, the stuffed rolls are filling and nutritious and I think they are perfect as a 'grab n go' breakfast or as a snack in children's snack boxes. What is more, you can vary the stuffings to suit your taste.....since I first made them, I am constantly thinking up different stuffings for the rolls: spinach and mushroom, spicy potatoes, minced meat....the possibilities are endless! So go right ahead, conjure up your own stuffings and stuff yourselves with these rolls!

And yes, these rolls have been Yeastspotted.



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

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