Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ricotta, Herb and Walnut Rolls

These would make great bites in very little time. Add 2 tablespoons each of  chopped parsley, dill and chives to a cup of ricotta, add a handful of walnuts, season with salt and blackpepper, pulse for a couple of seconds in a blender,  roll everything in a couple of tortillas- and voila- a healthy snack is ready!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Crunchy Trio- the Indian Way

I guess this crunchy dish is present wherever cabbage, carrots and  onions grow, with variations in terms of the secondary ingredients used to make it. My mother makes this mix (called varzari) and marinates it, which is then used as stuffing in bell  peppers or pastries.
This one here is an Indian twist to these versatile fry. Green chili, curry leaves, mustard and paprika add a unique flavour  to the slightly crunchy cabbage, carrot and onion! It makes a perfect side dish for rice or just wrap it in a chapati and enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mexican Red Soup with a Green Bite

I love tomato soups, and the ones I usually make are mild and soothing...this one, for a change, got a pleasant bite from the green fellows in it, mainly jalapeno and poblano peppers.
Sliced celery stalks and carrots balance its tangy character and pinto beans add a bit of body and fullness. Garnish with cilantro leaves....I also added coriander seeds in the beginning of cooking it, for more intense flavour! It was enjoyed with toasted wholewheat bagels spread with butter! .

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

This is one of the quickest and simplest dishes to prepare, and a few tips will deliver a perfect roasted potato on your plate! Again, thanks to America's Test Kitchen for these great tips!

  1. Covering the potato with some sort of dish or foil till half done will get it cooked faster in its own steam and retain more flavour
  2. Add the rosemary about 3 minutes before you plan to remove the dish out of the oven, for perfect and even flavouring
  3. Mix in the mashed garlic just after removing the potatoes from the oven, for a fresh, intense garlic flavour
Hope you enjoy this classic dish (with some good red wine!).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blueberry Cheesecake with Vegetarian Jelly Toping

I have always liked jellies and as kids we had our famous cherry "red aspic" for holidays. Since I became a vegetarian, I have been reluctant to try anything with gelatin since it is obtained from animal flesh. Many folks do not know this fact and I am surprised that even some vegetarian restaurants serve it, and when asked what that was, they would just simply answer :"jelly". Well, there are alternatives there: Agar is a red algae and a unique vegetable source protein. I purchased it through Amazon.com, and it worked perfect for the jelly topping I made for my blueberry cheesecake. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Salad Wrap- A 10 Minute Affair

I love making my own tortillas and chapatis. It takes slightly more time for making them from scratch than opening the plastic bag of store bought stuff, but the tastes is certainly rewarding! Easy as 1-2-3! Flour, water, salt, a bit of muscle force- and voila- you have a perfect wrap ready to welcome any stuffing. You can wrap in almost anything...let the sky be the limit to your imagination!
This time I thought I would give it a try with a salad! It is easy to eat the salad off the plate, but how much easier it is to have it wrapped in a cozy tortilla! Especially if you are on the run!
It takes about 10 minutes to prepare the whole thing (granted you already have the tortilla or chapatti), and you have a healthy, delicious and crunchy snack in minutes!

If you do not have the ready made chapatis, it is really easy to make them from scratch! Flour, water, salt, a bit of muscle force- as I said before!

Get ready:

For 4 servings you will need:
  • 4  whole medium sized  wheat tortillas or chapatis
  • 1 carrot- julienned
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 green onion sprouts
  • 4 parsley strands
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • Place 1 tortilla or chapati flat on a surface
  • Place a lettuce leaf on the upper half of it, as you face it
  • Place little of carrot, cucumber, red and green bell pepper, green onion and parsley
  • Sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and black pepper
  • Fold the lower half over the upper half, and wrap the tortilla to form a cone shaped wrap
  • As a variation, place all the ingredients, including the seasoning, in a row starting from the lower half working towards the upper half, as you face it
  • Wrap tightly to form a tube, then cut diagonally to obtain two wraps
  • Salad wrap ready in minutes, enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coconut Rice- Fit for Gods!

Recipe in Romanian. 

Pilaf de Orez cu Nuca de Cocos

  • Orez cu bob lung (Basmati e perfect)- 2 cani (250 ml capacitate)
  • Nuca de cocos proaspat risnita- 1 cana
  • Arahide- 2-3 linguri
  • Pasta de ghimbir- 1 lingurita
  • Ghee (sau unt)- 1 lingurita
  • Sare- 1 lingura
  • Seminte de mustar- ¼ lingurita
  • Linte alba, desecata (urad dhal)- ½ lingurita
  • Ardei iute, uscat ( chili)- 2, semintele inlaturate
  • Praf asafetida- ¼ lingurita (optional)
  • Frunze curry- 5-7
  • Ulei de cocos- 1 lingurita
Modul de preparare:
  1. Se fierbe orezul in apa dupa reteta de pe ambalaj. Se lasa sa se racoreasca
  2. Se prajesc arahidele in ghee sau unt pina se rumenesc . Se lasa de o parte.
  3. Se prajeste mustarul in uleiul de cocos pina incepe sa se despice. Se toarna restul condimentelor in ordinea mentionata. Cind lintea se rumeneste si ardeiul e rosu, se adaoga nuca de cocos si pasta de ghimbir.
  4. Se prajeste pina cocosul incepe a se rumeni. Se ia de pe foc si se amesteca cu sarea .
  5. Se adauga arahidele prajite, orezul fiert si racorit, amestecind atent sa se mentina intacta forma orezului.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Noodles, Tofu and Bean Sprouts Stir Fry

After a few days of road trips, it felt so good to be home and just enjoy the comfort of a fresh meal and the softness of the sofa- my tired back! My moong sprouts were ready to be harvested and after taking stock of what was in the fridge and pantry, the making of this dish was a breeze. Separately stir fried the tofu till golden- brown. Stir-fried some garlic, ginger and bean sprouts in a bit of sesame oil, added green and red bell peppers, stirred in cooked egg noodles, seasoned with salt, soy sauce and ground white pepper. Folded in the tofu and enjoyed it a lot! Home, Sweet Home!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Six Colors, Five a Day, and Lots of Crunch

This salad is one of the most eaten in our house- we love the rainbow of colors in it, the crunchiness and certainly the goodness of a fresh salad! Yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, white and red cabbage, green onions and parsley, seasoned with olive oil, a sprinkle of apple cider vinegar and pinch of salt- ready in minutes, you will love it too!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mushroom Sauce- the Way I Remember It

Moldovan food is delectable, simple and fuss-free, and that is what perhaps makes it so special. When you taste it, you may not be dazzled by extravagant spices and complex flavours, but you will surely taste the food in it, and I mean it. A skilled cook in Moldova is considered the one who can prepare a delightful dish using few ingredients, without masking the taste of the main ingredients with "little of everything". Thus spices are used with caution (no, our food is not bland), and herbs with lots of art.

I remember as a kid taking my pail, packing up a picnic, and heading to the wooded strip along the railway track that runs not far from our village to pick up mushrooms after a few rainy days! What a treat it was for the whole family! And my mom used to make this tasty and crunchy dish using sour cream, onions, tomatoes and the brown mushrooms fresh from the forest! A bit of fresh dill and pinch of black pepper in it was a great addition and nothing tasted better and more comforting than this sauce eaten with a freshly baked slice of bread or mamaliga (polenta).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Rich and Yummy Mango Lassi

When we find good deals on mangoes, we buy in plenty! For one, we love them fresh as fruit, next, there is Lassi, the Indian shake that usually has yogurt and fruit pulp as main ingredients. This time we found the deal of our lifetime, not only in terms of savings, but what we got for those pennies too. The mangoes were just perfect- and I mean it: very large, buttery, sweet, and fragrant! So this time my lassi is less traditional with more mango pulp, less yogurt, no water or sugar at all, and plenty of body! We enjoyed it with a pinch of powdered cardamom and served it chilled, of course!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thai Coconut Milk Soup

I found this recipe in one of my exotic recipe books, while looking for ideas on how to use the coconut milk in the pantry, which was getting close to its expiration date! Supposed to be quite authentic (you tell me!), we enjoyed the taste a lot. We actually ate it with plain rice, the soup serving as gravy, as the recipe suggested. But it certainly tastes great on its own as well.

  • 12 fluid ounces soup vegetable broth 
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 2  (2")  pieces fresh lemongrass, bruised to release flavor
  • 1/2 inch cube (or a bit more) galangal sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon  tumeric
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 fluid ounces coconut milk
  • small red Thai chili peppers, slightly crushed (to taste)
  1. Heat the stock, add the lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, curry paste, tumeric and lime juice. 
  2. Stir thoroughly  and  bring to a boil, and add coconut milk, then the chili peppers. Bring back to the boil.
  3. Lower the heat to keep it simmering and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Cool the soup. Remove the lemon grass.
  5. Using a blender, blend the soup to achieve an even consistency.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homemade Corn Tortillas- Why Did I Have to Wait for This Long?

I have been seeing Masa Harina in stores for ever, but never bothered what that was for. Until last week when I was wondering how they make corn tortillas from scratch- and what better site to view a video than YouTube? So I thought of trying it myself, followed the instructions on the package to a T, and ended up with a very tasty batch of corn tortillas. If you do not have tortilla press, you can use the same method of putting the ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper and just roll it with a rolling pin, then carefully remove and cook the tortilla. I do not think i will ever again buy this delicacy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celery and Herbs Soup- a Green Triumph for a Hot Day

Cooked celery, carrot and a few bay leaves (removed after cooking), pureed with parsley and tarragon, make a great light soup for a hot summer's lunch. And I always have my soups chilled in summer. This one tasted delightfully fresh when served this way! Croutons would add a bit of crunch to it, and make it more satisfying for a hungry belly!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Plantain- A Staple for Many and a Treat for Few

Plantains have surely been on my "never-heard- or tried-before" list. Only after I married my Indian-made husband, I had the chance to meet face to face with this tough cookie. I still have a few of those on my list that I haven't explored yet, nopales and banana flower being just two of them. So when it comes to getting acquainted with new veggies or fruits, The Cook's Illustrated is my official guide. Those guys have done the homework for me, why trouble then? So I take all the advice possible, and get rolling.

Austinites know that Fiesta is a store of abundance, an I know it too. I ended up with a carload of fresh veggies the other day, and my plantains could not wait too long, so I cooked them the South American style, with coconut and plenty of passion! Enjoy!

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