Monday, December 19, 2011

Experiments with food

Watching Masterchef Australia and then Masterchef USA, if you're at all a foodie and someone who enjoys cooking, it's hard not to get inspired and think about plating and flavours and I've been back in the kitchen a bit lately, stirring away. And here's what I came up with - a cheesy farfalle with broccoli, snowpeas and peas - a hit with the children, fried Borek stuffed with spiced apples, Szechuan green beans topped with Chinese fried eggs...and hopefully more to come.

There are no pictures of the Farfalle or the Borek - they vanished too quickly. Hopefully someday soon, though, I will put up pictures of the green beans. Meanwhile, recipes:

I cook about a cup dry farfalle per head
1 cup shelled peas, for 6 people
Two handsful snowpeas
2 cups broccoli
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp chili flakes and dried oregano
Grated parmesan - 1 cup
Any other cheese - 1/2 cup
6 tbsp plain allpurpose flour
1.5 cups skimmed milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Put about a liter and a half of water on to boil with about 1 tbsp salt and a few drops of olive oil in it. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add in the farfalle and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente - you should be able to slide a fork through the pasta but it should hold the fork firmly. Drain out the water and put the pasta back in the pan; top with a dash of olive oil and stir so the pasta is coated lightly with the oil - that keeps it from becoming an unappealing lump.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli and the snowpeas. Boil the peas until soft and keep aside. Put the olive oil on to heat ( not extra virgin, just plain); when hot, add in the garlic, oregano and chili flakes; toss in the steamed broccoli and snowpeas and stir for a couple of minutes on high heat and remove.

Put the milk on to heat in a saucepan on low heat. Slowly add in the flour, tbsp by tbsp, whisking away so it gets nicely absorbed and doesn't form lumps. Add in the half cup of cheese - we had blue cheese lying around so I used that - and whisk until fully dissolve. Assemble the farfalle - add the cheese sauce to the pasta, toss in the veggies, top with grated parmesan and pepper; taste to check the salt is ok and serve with a smile :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Healthy desserts

Watching Masterchef Australia seems to have released some of my suppressed-due-to-laziness urges to cook and create. So I came up with this sunshine dessert over the weekend, which had the added benefits of being healthy, pretty, simple and liked by the kids!

Hung Curd ( yogurt) - 1 liter
Powdered sugar - 2 tbsp
Peach slices - fresh or tinned ( if tinned in syrup, wash them else they can be sickly sweet)
Frozen raspberries/ blueberries - 1 cup
Pine nuts- handful, peeled and toasted

Tie up 1 liter of fresh curd/ yogurt in a thin linen cloth and leave out for about an hour, until most of the liquid is drained out. Add the powdered sugar to the hung curd and mix well. In wine glasses - because it looks so pretty and is easy to serve - put in a good dollop of the hung curd. Top with two peach slices. Add a spoonful of the rasps/ blueberries. Add another dollop of the hung curd. Sprinkle on the pine nuts. Serve!

This makes enough for 6 people. (Pic will be posted sometime soon)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tomato-rasam soup

Puds has been busy passing along her cold to the rest of the family including me. I was feeling low yesterday and decided I needed the spice-kick of a traditional saaru but without the heaviness of the dal etc. So I came up with a new take on tomato saaru, which works wonderfully as a soup, and kicked the cold on its head!

4-5 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
2-3 pieces of garlic, chopped
2 tsp rasam powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp oil
2 cups water
Salt to taste
Tempering: 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 pinch asafoetida and handful of curry leaves

Heat the oil in a pan, pop in the garlic and stor on medium flame. When the garlic turns translucent, add the tomatoes and cook until slightly softened. Add the rasam powder, chilli powder and water and bring to a boil. Turn flame to low and keep at a rolling boil for a few minutes, then switch off and let cool.

Blend it all into a smooth soup. Heat the ghee in the pan, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, pop in the curry leaves. Add in the soup and heat. Serve garnished with coriander leaves, finely chopped.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Desi Margaritas

My soul-sis was throwing a brunch to bring in her 40th birthday and rang me up a day before to ask me to come up with a signature drink for the party. I immediately flashed back to something I'd seen a friend drink during my recent Sri Lanka vacation and decided I could improve on it. So we made Tamarind Margaritas, or Tamaritas. And for those of you with Indian tastebuds or a liking for tongue-tingling, this is a winner! It tastes fabulous, goes well with Indian or other spicy food and is refreshingly different.

One fistful of Tamarind, soaked in about 500 ml warm water
4-5 tablespoonsful sugar ( or to taste)
1-2 tablespoons of chilli powder
Vodka or tequila - 500 ml
Crushed ice - about half kilo

Let the tamarind soak for a couple of hours. Then squeeze it thoroughly into the warm water so all the flavour is released. Strain it and then add sugar - it should be strongly sour and sweet, remember you're going to dilute it with ice and vodka. Add the chilli powder - it should be enough to give you a hit of heat at the back of the throat but not enough to make your tongue burn, so add chilli powder slowly! Refrigerate until nice and chilled.

Mix equal parts of vodka, the tamarind juice and crushed ice. Serve in glasses rimmed with salt - use rock salt for an added kick. Decorate the glass with a split green chilli and enjoy!

Tip: To rim the glass, dip the rim in lime juice and then in salt. The easiest way I found to crush the ice was to wrap the cubes in a clean cloth and have at them with a pestle.