Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baked Eggs on Buckwheat


I did have some buckwheat leftover from yesterday's lunch and was not very sure I want to transmigrate it into today's lunch, and instead used it for breakfast. Of course, this one is not a rush breakfast and neither is it one of those hold me and bite me in the car while driving, texting and still having one hand for doing the eyelashes. Yet, it is not difficult to make at all.


Vegetarian Eggs: this one made me wildly roar. I could imagine that chicken looking at the fat, juicy worm and saying" NO dear, I am not going to eat you, I am a vegetarian". Well, I know what they mean when they say they feed the chicks vegetarian food, but it just sounds funny.

Here is how I did it:
  • Placed some buckwheat on the bottom of my cast-iron pan

  • Cut some mozzarella cheese and spread it on top

  • Carefully break four eggs on top of the buckwheat (I was not so careful with one of them:) Next time I should visit http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-break-an-egg.html before attempting anything with eggs!

  • Season with salt pepper, scallions, and some flax seeds for full blast benefits. Bake till the eggs are thoroughly done.
Here is another version of baked eggs on buckwheat seasoned with chives and curry spice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Bean Affair


In the beginning was the Bean, and the Bean was good and they called it Rajma. Deep red in color, nutty and spicy- it is almost good enough to be eaten on its own, with just salt added. But of course the human nature is very inquisitive and it would not stop there.
When I first had Rajma at a Kashmiri friend of mine, I could not believe my senses- bean just could not taste this great. Well, it turns out that The Bean could! And since then it has been crowned as the Queen of Beans in my kitchen (bean is feminine in Romanian).

Here is a simple but delicious dish featuring this amazing Bean!

Ingredients:
  • about 4 cups cooked Red Kidney Beans (Rajma)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • bit of chili, paprika, tumeric, ground coriander and cumin....
  • oil
  • salt
  • some liquid in which the beans cooked, or just water

1. Coarsely blend the onion in a food processor.


2.Fry the spices in little oil, over low heat.


3. Add the ground onion and fry for about 2 minutes over medium heat


4. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and fry till tomatoes are soft.



5. Add the Beans with a bit of liquid and fry for about 3 minutes. Still on medium heat.


6.Slightly mash the beans with a spatula, and simmer for another 5 minutes till all the flavours are well incorporated.


7. Serve hot with naan, chapati or just whole wheat bread. You won't regret!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grilled Stuffed Potatoes


This month's contest for Manjula's Kitchen features a few ingredients, and I have been juggling with ideas to come with a recipe for the whole month. I just could not marry them successfully enough, hence my delay to come up with something suitable for the season, creative and yet balanced. Cooking for me is a creative process and at times the Muse is bemusing rather than inspiring, for the daylight can expose those would-be-so-good thoughts!
And sometimes it just happens- you open the fridge, have a roundabout look and BINGO! That is pretty much how I plan my menu. In fact, my kitchen motto's : "no ingredient left behind"... Not all at the same time though:)
Since it is summertime, hot in Texas and everywhere else around, I thought that the potatoes on grill would be fantastic. Just to prove it wrong that grilling is not just for meat-eaters and not boring- OH NO!
So it all starts with the "earth apple" -(pomme de terre)- the Mighty Potato. It was scrubbed, rubbed, cooked, stuffed and grilled- Poor Thing! This too- all in one day!


Here is how I did it...

Ingredients:



  • 8 potatoes (about same size)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 4 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
Directions:

  • Wash and scrub the potatoes. Using a spiral vegetable cutter (or an apple core remover), drill and remove the potato core. If you do not have these tools, first cook the potatoes, and then use a sharp knife to carve the center out).
  • Cook the potatoes, making sure they are not overcooked.
  • Peel the skins off, set them aside to cool.
  • Grind the garlic and peppercorns to a coarse mass.
  • Add salt, oil, yogurt and mix well.
  • Slightly melt the cream cheese and add in the olives, bell pepper and curry powder. Mix well.
  • Fill in a wide tip syringe with the cream mixture and fill in the potatoes. Again, if you do not have this tool, accurately use your finger to push the cheese stuffing in.

  • Lay them all on a baking tray and spread the garlic sauce over the potatoes, making sure all sides are well covered in sauce.
  • Grill them or broil them on high till golden- brown. Remove and serve them hot.
  • As a final touch, lay them on a bed of red cabbage leaves, for added drama. Voila! A very simple and full of flavour and crunch potato!

Exactly one day later: my garlicky leftover hero was enjoyed for lunch, with a healthy dollop of sour cream. No regrets. The only regret I have is I have not sliced a tato lengthwise for the pic. Next time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Exotic Carrot-Coconut Dry Curry

This is the recipe submitted for Manjulaskitchen.com contest for May featuring carrot, and although I had no expectations for any prize, I did get my name mentioned- hey- Fame at Last! :-)
Anyways....am short of words today, so let the pictures speak for me. (story of my life!)


one more:



One more thing- if you are not a big fan of pineapple in food, skip it. It was my husband's big idea- he has it on pizza as well, I mean, HIS half of pizza :

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 4 oz firm tofu
  • 5 medium cooked carrots
  • ½ cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple, drained
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6-7 curry leaves


Directions:

  1. Drain and remove excess moisture from the tofu by gently pressing with a clean cloth or paper towel. Chop the tofu into ½ inch cubes. Set aside.
  2. Slice the cooked carrot into ½ inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick pan and stir fry the tofu until golden-brown and crisp.
  4. Add the curry leaves and carrot pieces to the fried tofu and fry for another minute on medium heat. Remove from heat.
  5. In a separate pan, dry roast the cumin seeds, the black sesame seeds and the coconut flakes, each separately.
  6. Using a mortar and pestle, or grinder, coarsely grind the cumin seeds.
  7. Add the coconut flakes, cumin and sesame seeds to the tofu and carrot mix.
  8. Add paprika, chili powder and salt and cook the whole mixture for 2 minutes on low heat so all the flavors incorporate well, stirring occasionally.
  9. Remove from heat and let slightly cool. Add the pineapple chunks and mix well.
  10. Optional: Garnish with coconut shavings and carrot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Balti Cauliflower Tikka


Balti is funny. Every time I have to write down the name of the University I graduated from, I crack a smile. The town is called Balti (Bălţi), but if you are like me and don't have those funky Romanian characters on your keyboard (of course you don't), you end up with a very nice name for a type of Indian dish.

There is some confusion about the origins of Balti (the dish:))), but absolutely no doubt as to its popularity. This style of cooking may have originated in Kashmir, but it was perfected, developed and adapted for Western tastes in the British city of Birmingham.
My husband and I lived in UK for one year and I have to admit that the popularity of Balti dishes is way higher than in the US.

This one is a traditional tikka recipe, in which the "whatever" is marinated in yogurt and spices. I did not quite have a choice today since I had this big head of cauliflower staring at me , as if screaming" cook me, cook me- or I rot"!

So juggling the baby between my soccer watching hubby and the tons of toys spread out in my family room, I had to gather a few things and get rolling.


This is how you do it:

  • 1 medium size cauliflower
  • 1.5 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
Now get to work.

Divide the cauliflower into small florets.

Coarsely grind the cumin, coriander, garlic, and ginger

Put the cauliflower, yogurt, ground condiments, chili powder, salt, garam masala, paprika and the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a deep pan, Lower the heat slightly and stir in the tomato puree. Add the cauliflower and the marinade and cook it until the cauliflower is tender.

Add in the red bell pepper strips and cook it for another minute or so.

Serve the tikka hot with basmati rice or naan bread.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Exotic Twist with Tofu

Everyone knows that tofu is good for you, but what to do with it is another matter. In Malaysia there is no such problem: it is served in soups, deep fried, grilled, smoked, stuffed in vegetables- you name it- they have it.
I happen to own a beautiful cookbook "Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore" by Robert Danhi, Jay Weinstein, and Martin Yan. It is fascinating book on many levels. It is more a "read" than most cookbooks and yet it is a complete cookbook, full of recipes. So one of them gave me the inspiration for our today's lunch. What captured my attention is the simplicity of ingredients and the ease of carrying it out- and the outcome is surely rewarding.

I did alter a few things in the recipe by slightly adjusting the amount of condiments to fit my taste.

You will need about :
  • 1 pound of firm tofu
  • a few spoons of dark soy sauce
  • about 15 curry leaves
  • 1 red chili (I used a dry one)
  • 6-7 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger



Using a pestle and mortar (Friend No 1 in my kitchen), coarsely grind the condiments.


Transfer everything onto a deep dish, add a few spoons of soy sauce. Mix well.
Slice the tofu into matchbox-sized rectangles and place them into the marinade, making sure all sides are covered with liquid. Let it marinate for about 1 hour. (I left mine in the fridge overnight and the tofu was really soaked it....Good News!)


You will need 2 bamboo skewers for each tofu rectangle. Make sure they are pre-soaked in water for about 10 min, that way they will not burn on your grill.

Slide 2 bamboo skewers lengthways right through each tofu piece and out the other end.


Grill the tofu over hot charcoal or under a preheated hot broiler for 3 min. on each side, until the outside becomes dry and begins to speckle brown; the inside should be soft and moist.

I served them with curried veggies (asparagus, carrot, bell pepper, etc...) and whole grain basmati rice. And guess what- I had made peanut sauce to go with it- and it surely went well- but completely forgot to incorporate it in the picture...
:( Next time.






Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vatrushka- the Luscious Bun!


This is a street-side inspired pastry- served as snack throughout Eastern Europe, on schools menu and cafeterias. My mom used to put aside some of the bread dough each time she baked bread to just fill some of the buns with cheese and make our busy days as kids.
So if you know how to make bread- you are halfway done. Any type of bread flour would work for this recipe. White, whole wheat, rye- go for it!
I used about four cups of all purpose unbleached flour and two teaspoons of active dry yeast, a bit of olive oil, salt and water (sort of french bread recipe) and ended up with five pastries about four inches diameter each. I threw in about half a cup of chopped black olives to add a bit of crunchiness.


Let your dough rise for about 20 minutes. Then divide it into several tennis ball-size buns and let them rest again for about 10 minutes or until they double in size.



Now comes the fun part! Place all your buns on a greased baking sheet and make a dip in each of them using the flat bottom of a coup or a small vessel- just like that:...

( no, I am not left handed- I was having the camera in my other hand- now you see how versatile I can be :))


here we go....


Now, we are not going to leave that obnoxious well empty....
The cheese traditionally used in Moldova is usually a type of drier than US cottage cheese made out of baked yogurt (brinza de vaca), but cream cheese works perfectly well.

So the cream cheese. You need less than a pound of it, slightly melt it (if it's coming out of your fridge - or leave it alone if you just unloaded your grocery out of your car trunk in Texas) and mix in half a cup of chopped black olives and half a cup chopped bell peppers- the more color- the better.

Fill in your prepared bread buns with cheese...


...and glaze them with egg wash. Those vegetarian who don't care for eggs- do not bother about this last part. The vartrushkas will taste excellent without the egg glazing. That's just cosmetic.


Yum- yum!




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