Saturday, November 24, 2012

Penne Alfredo

Some places become integral part of our life that they are not places anymore, they become characters. Olive Garden is such a place for us. This has been always our favorite restaurant to celebrate small victories and remember our special days. We have been to this place N times that we can feel it, smell it. We rarely look at the menu. I would always order stuffed pasta in marinara sauce and he would go for either Fettuccine Alfredo or Five Cheese Ziti. But these days our hang out at restaurants have stopped for obvious reasons. But they could not stop me from trying restaurant menu at home.

The sharpness of fresh and aged Parmesan Cheese wrapped within richness of cream and butter ----- aahaaa, just mouth watering. I exactly wanted to replicate Alfredo Sauce recipe but my calorie conscious soul refrained me from doing so. This sauce requires cream cheese, butter and heavy cream. Instead I used plain flour to thicken the sauce and avoid/reduce quantity of cheese and cream. This pasta paired with salad and orange juice made perfect Friday Night Dinner.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 40 Minute

2 cup pasta
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese
2 loves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Cook pasta as per instructions
2. Heat butter in a thick bottom pan, when melted add flour
3. Cook flour till it turns pink/light brown. Then add heavy cream
4. Add garlic, salt and pepper stirring continuously
5. Cook for 5-10 minute till it is thick and consistent
6. Add cheese, mix well and turn off the heat
7. In a baking tray, layer pasta and sauce. Top with olive oil spray and remaining cheese
8. Bake at 350 F for 20 minute and then broil for 5 minute till cheese becomes bubbly and forms nice brown crust

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Green Bean Kachori

Kachori is simply irresistible deep fried snack where pastry sheets ( made from plain flour dough) is stuffed with filling made of either potato, moong dal or pigeon peas. The one made with pigeon peas is quite popular in Gujarat. It is winter specialty and we eagerly wait for this time of the year when we have first of the season.

However, we do not get fresh peas here. So my mom taught me this green bean version where peas are simply replaced by beans with remaining ingredients exactly the same. In the beginning, I was bit hesitant  but thought it was worth a try. If we like it we can have them whenever we want as we get fresh beans at very reasonable price round the year.

Makes about 16-18 pc
Preparation Time: 1 Hour
Cooking Time: 30 Minute + Cooling Time

1 Lb Beans
1 tsp oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
Pinch of asafetida
1 tbsp green chili paste
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (Best if Green Garlic is used)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp clove-cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp Coriander leaves
Salt and lemon juice as per taste

For dough,
2 cup plain flour
1 tsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp oil

Oil for frying

1. Finely chop  green beans using chopper
2. Heat oil in skillet, add sesame seeds, asafetida and chopped beans
3. Cook it on low flame uncovered
4. Add chili paste, salt and sugar
5. Stir frequently so it does not stick to the bottom of the skillet
6. When it’s almost cooked, add lemon juice, garam masala and clove-cinnamon powder
7. Turn off the heat, add garlic and coriander leaves
8. Now stuff is ready, let it cool down thoroughly at room temperature
9. Mix flour, oil and salt and knead hard dough like puri
10. Roll two thin puris, fill in the stuffing between them and seal thoroughly
11. Deep fry on low flame until golden brown
12. Serve hot with tamarind and/or green chutney. 

Lemon Rice

Though I am not much into rice, lately I have started liking this quick simple fix. Make it from scratch or use leftover rice, this is indeed delicious twist to regular 'Masala Rice'. I started making this kind of rice long ago just for a change from Masala Rice. Funny part is, then I did not know that it was called Lemon Rice. Then once I was talking to a South Indian friend enthusiastically about this new invention (!) and she did not react at all. Later I figured out it is quite common yet popular dish in South India.

The best thing I love about this dish is that it does not ask for any special ingredients or preparation other than soaking rice. After Dosa/Uttapam/Idli, now I have started liking this South Indian dish as well :). Ideally rice should be cooked first, but I like it better if it is cooked along with all other ingredients.

Serves 2-4
Preparation Time: 5 Minute
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

1 cup rice
2 tsp oil
1 dried red chili
1 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of asafetida
12-15 curry leaves
1 tbsp cashew nuts
1 tbsp raw peanuts (I do not like, so I didn't use)
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp udad dal
1-2 green chili, chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp lemon juice or as per taste

For garnishing,
Coriander leaves
Grated coconut

1. Soak rice for 1-2 hour and keep it aside
2. Heat oil in the pan, add red chili, when it pops, add mustard seeds and asafetida
3. Add curry leaves, chana dal and udad dal
4. When both dals turn light brown, add green chili, peanuts and cashew nuts
5. Add this mixture to soaked rice, add salt and turmeric powder
6. Cook rice covered with 2 cup of water on low flame
7. When rice is almost cooked, add lemon juice and mix well
8. Turn off the heat, garnish with grated coconut and coriander leaves
8. Serve hot

Monday, May 21, 2012

Veg. Shaam Savera

This fancy named curry is quite commonly served in Indian Restaurants. Being vegetarian, we have only few options in Entree so we end up ordering same dish quite often. I have always liked this dish but never thought of making it myself. 

During my recent trip to India, I watched Master Chef where Sanjeev Kapoor prepared this dish while all the contestants followed him at the same time. He made it look so simple yet delicious. Then other day I was thinking of using spinach in a way I had never used before. I specifically searched Sanjeev Kapoor's website for this recipe and adapted it to my taste. Basically, they are paneer stuffed spinach kofta dipped in tomato gravy. Instead I made   conventional onion-tomato gravy with a few variations. As none of us is a big fan of tomato, we both found our version better than restaurant.

Preparing Kofta is bit time consuming, but I made them in advance which saved me lot of time and energy. You just need to warm them up before dipping into gravy. With Roti/Rice/Paratha/Naan, they are simply mouth-watering.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 45 Minute
Cooking Time: 45 Minute

For Kofta:
3-4 big handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup paneer
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp green chili, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
4 tbsp gram flour
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp corn flour
Oil for deep frying

For Gravy:
2 large onions, sliced
3 large tomatos, diced
3 tsp oil
1 tsp Punjabi Curry Masala
1/2 garlic, minced
1 tbsp kasoori methi
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup heavy cream **
Coriander leaves for garnishing

** can be replaced with yogurt

For Kofta:
1. Trim spinach leaves and add them to boiling water for 2-3 minute
2. Drain and refresh with cold water, squeeze to remove excess water
3. Roughly chop the leaves and keep them aside till they cool down completely
4. Add salt and cardamom to paneer, divide it into 12 balls
5. Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, chili and garlic
6. Add gram flour and stir till it become light brown
7. Add salt, turmeric powder and spinach leaves
8. Cook this mixture uncovered till it becomes completely dry. Set aside to cool
9. Now take spinach mixture, flatten it on your palm, stuff paneer ball and roll it
10. Dissolve corn flour in water to make very thin batter (Like egg yolk)
11. Dip Kofta into corn flour and deep fry them until golden brown

For Gravy:
1. Saute sliced onions and diced tomatoes in 2tsp oil till onions are translucent and tomatoes become soft and juicy. 
2. Once cool down, grind them into a fine puree
3. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil, add curry masala, garlic, cardamom, nutmeg and kasoori methi. Cook for 2-3 minute
4. Add onion-tomato puree, salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, honey and tomato paste 
5. Add butter and heavy cream. Turn off the heat
6. Pour gravy into bowl, halve the Kofta and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve immediately

Friday, April 20, 2012

Veg. Frankie

Cooking Friday night dinner is one among the toughest dilemma I face. I want variety food that can be cooked quickly without putting much efforts. Also it should be filling and now the latest criteria is, it needs to be healthy as well. After going through half an hour brainstorming session, I came up with this idea and was happy that I could use all little leftover veggies and tofu. 

I am sure regular plain flour tortilla would taste better but that would not fit my 'healthy' criteria :) I used jalapeno sauce and taco sauce to bring moisture, but I believe, you can play with these ingredients. Salsa, sour cream or even conventional coriander chutney should equally taste fine. 

Anyway, this is perfect example of tasty yet healthy and easy dish! 

Makes 4 Frankie 
Preparation Time: 15 Minute 
Cooking Time: 30 Minute 

4 whole grain tortilla 
2 medium potatoes, boiled and finely diced 
1 cup spinach, chopped 
1/4 cup sweet corn 
1/8 cup green peas 
1/4 cup shredded carrot 
1/4 cup shredded cabbage 
1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced 
1/4 cup green pepper, thinly sliced 
1/2 cup extra firm tofu 
1/4 cup cheddar cheese 
1/4 tsp tandoori chicken masala 
1/4 tsp lemon juice 
1/4 tsp cumin seeds 
1/4 tsp sesame seeds 
Chaat Masala, per taste 
Salt and pepper 
Oil/oil spray 

To prepare frankie:
4 tsp Jalapeno sauce 
2 tsp taco sauce 

1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and sesame seeds 
2. Add spinach, corn and peas 
3. When corn and peas become tender, add diced potatoes 
4. Add salt, lemon juice, chaat masala and mix well, turn off the heat 
5. Now in a spearate pan/griddle, roast tofu slice with little spray. Sprinkle salt, pepper and tandoori chicken masala on both sides 
6. Cook until it turns light brown, cut into small pieces and keep it aside 
7. Warm tortilla on griddle with little oil spray on both the sides 
8. Spread jalapeno sauce and potato mixture; add raw veggies, grilled tofu and cheese; sprinkle salt and pepper and top it with taco sauce 
9. Roll the frankie and cook it on griddle for couple of minute 
10. Serve hot with ketchup 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CPK Tostada

Though I have never been a big fan of pizza, I am always up for 'CPK Tostada'. For last five years, we both have become addicted to CPK Tostada. We go there often and order this same dish without even looking at the menu. It is so yummy that so far I have never paid close attention to its ingredients. The only thing that got registered about this dish was that it was Mexican version of Pizza. 

Generally, I avoid outside food as much as possible. So during my last visit, I had a close look and was thrilled to figure out how simple it was to try at home. Almost all ingredients are handy and with store bought pizza crust, it's a job of minutes! 

Mine was extensively home made as I used Rajma in place of canned beans. Even I made salsa and chips at home. Preparation Time and Cooking Time shown below do not include time to prepare chips and salsa. 

Makes 6 medium pizza 
Preparation Time: 20 Minute + soaking time for beans * 
Cooking Time: 45 Minute  

* Can be replaced with canned re-fried beans. 

1 cup kidney beans 
1 tsp taco seasoning 
1 tsp olive oil 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds 
1 clove of garlic, minced 
 6 pc pizza crust 
Sour cream per taste 
2 cup cold salsa ** 
1 cup shredded lettuce 
1 cup diced tomato 
3/4 cup Mexican blend cheese 
Tortilla chips *** 

** Do not boil tomato and do not add corn kernels 

*** Use ready chips or fried/baked tortilla. I had neither of them so I mixed equal quantity of plain flour and corn flour, added salt and enough oil to sieve the flour. Rolled into thin strips, deep fried them and sprinkled with taco seasoning. 

1. Soak beans for 6-8 hours and pressure cook them with salt 
2. Heat olive oil, add minced garlic, cumin seeds, taco seasoning and cooked beans 
3. Lightly mash beans with fork or potato masher, add little water if required 
4. Brush pizza crust with olive oil and bake at 350 F for 5-7 minute until it turns light brown and crispy 
5. Spread sour cream, salsa and beans mixture. Top it with cheese and bake again until cheese is melted 
6. Add toppings of lettuce, tomato and tortilla chips 
7. Serve hot with salsa and/or sour cream

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Corn Palak Sandwich w/ Roasted Pepper

Sometimes I think I can almost survive on sandwiches. When I think about light, healthy and quick meal, sandwich is the first dish that comes to my mind. The best part is, mostly ingredients are handy and it does not need any pre-preparation. It is not fried (so quite healthy) and with salad or soup, it makes a complete meal.  

I love to play with stuffing as well as bread to create different varieties. And my latest crush is whole wheat thin sandwich breads. Though I love sandwich, I am not a big fan of consuming bread more than once a week. But I just fell in love with these high fiber, gluten-free with less than 100 calorie thins. It gives you freedom to have sandwich more often. I tried them in alu-mutter sandwich, burger and now in this recipe. I still have some left which I am thinking of trying in Dabeli!

I make sure to prepare palak-paneer sandwich whenever I buy a big bag of spinach. But this time, I wanted to try something different using spinach as main ingredient for sandwich. As I love combination of corn and spinach, I added corn. And roasted red pepper were just perfect to throw in some tempting color. 

For this recipe I used mini thins and these little bites look so cute. Though we had hot and fresh sandwich, I believe even cold (instead of cheddar, use sliced cheese) will equally taste good. 

Makes 8 sandwiches 
Preparation Time: 15 Minute 
Cooking Time: 45 Minute 

8 pc whole wheat sandwich thins 
3 cup finely chopped spinach 
1/2 cup sweet corn kernel 
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped 
1/4 cup red pepper, diced 
1/8 cup green pepper, diced 
1/2 tsp tomato paste 
2 tsp olive oil 
1/2 cup shredded cheddar 
Salt and Pepper 

To prepare sandwich:
8 thick slice of tomato 
Butter spread 
Olive oil 

1. Roast both green and red pepper with 1 tsp olive oil and keep them aside 
2. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil and add onion 
3. When onions turn translucent, add corn and spinach 
4. Add salt and pepper and cook it uncovered for 10-15 minute until spinach is soft and tender
5. Add roasted pepper and tomato paste 
6. Cook for another 5 minute and turn off the heat, let it cool down for a while 

How to prepare sandwich:
1. Pre-heat oven at 350 F 
2. Spread butter on one slice, fill in spinach stuff, spread cheese and cover with another slice 
3. Brush olive oil on top slice and bake for 10 minute until cheese is melted 
4. Put it on broil for 5 minute until bread slice turns out golden brown and crispy 
5. Serve hot with ketchup 

My Notes:
1. Instead of cheddar, feta or mozzarella cheese would taste better 
2. Instead of tomato, slice of boiled potato can be used
3. Same stuffing can be used to make rolls

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kesar-Pista Kulfi

Finally I am back to my blog after indeed a long pause. Little over 3 months of vacation in India has made me a bit lazy as far as blogging goes. In fact, not only blogging, but luxurious treatment on dining table twice a day by mom has made me lazy cook too :) Either I am too tired to cook something new or too bored to plate and take a picture. But finally I made something that was motivational enough to compel me write. 

As a part of birthday celebration of two most important men in life - my brother and husband, I decided to make Kulfi at home. And circumstances could not be better. 'Coming soon' expiry dates on packets of milk powder and condensed milk were forcing me to use them :D 

I was prepared for flop-show but final dish came out just perfect! I am happy that now I have another quick fix in dessert category.

Makes 8 Kulfis
Preparation Time: 5 Minute 
Cooking Time: 45 Minute + cooling & freezing time 

1 14 oz can of condensed milk (About 2 cup) 
5 cup whole mile 
1/2 cup milk powder 
1/2 tsp cardamom powder 
10-12 strands of saffron 
1/2 cup sliced pistachio 

1. Mix condensed milk, milk powder and milk 
2. Heat this mixture on low-medium flame in a thick-bottom pan 
3. Soak saffron in 1tsp warm milk 
4. Bring mixture to boil until it thickens, stirring continuously (It took about 40 minute) 
5. Turn off the heat and add saffron, pistachio and cardamom powder 
6. Let it cool down completely, fill kulfi molds and freeze until it become solid (For at least 4-6 hour) 

P.S. - I did not have kulfi molds so instead I used paper cups and surprising it became very easy to unmold using paring knife. Also, next time I am planning to use 4 cup milk + 1 cup heavy cream for rich and creamy texture.