Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad- Guest Post

I am delighted to present you one of my favourite's bloggers, Simona- the owner of Alison's Trials. She happens to hail from nearly the same land as I: Moldova (the Romanian one). I do not know how and why, but I feel like I have known her for ages, although we stumbled onto each other over a "mamaliga" posting of mine couple of months ago. Simona does not cease to impress me with her amazing range of dishes she makes, although my heart is stolen by her fabulous  salads, which is why I nicknamed her the Salad Diva! Juggling between a full time job in the medical field and the duties of a mother and wife- I sometimes wonder where she has got the energy from- well she knows The Secret I guess....

Today she is displaying her artful Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad, of which she remembers the following:

The best ever pumpkin I had, used to come out of my grandma's small oven that was part of the heating stove- be it fall or winter, a ton of goodness used to fill up the air with tantalizing flavours: cabbage, potato, pumpkin stuffed pastries (placinta), baked pumpkin, roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, roasted soy or chickpea beans....The sacred oil lamp burning  in its assigned corner of the room, me scooping out the pumpkin slice with my small spoon- all these stir memories of my beloved one and the happiness of the golden age!


Today, overcoming the gap of space and time, I am coming to Adelina's space and offer her a recipe employing pumpkin- a simple and quick to  make salad.

You will need:

  • 300 g. pumpkin, sliced in 1 cm. thick slices, rubbed with the sauce made out of
    - 4 crushed  garlic cloves,
    -2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper (or 1 hot and 1 mild, if you will),
    -black pepper and salt, to taste
    -2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 300 g. chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 50 g sliced almonds, toasted to golden color
  • parsley, for garnishing
After the pumpkin slices are well infused with the garlic sauce, grill them for about 4 minutes on each side, chill and mix with the chickpeas, garnish with almonds and parsley and serve.
I love juggling with other ingredients as well: steamed broccoli:

Many thanks to Adelina for hosting my post. I love her warm, pleasant atmosphere here, filled with out-of-this world flavours!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Somen, Tofu and Scallion Soup- a Light Midweek Treat

Just finished this weekend's leftovers....that happens when I throw parties: too much food. No matter how I count, I still end up with half dozen extra servings.....Which is so good in a way- you know how nice it is to wake up next day and not worry about making lunch! So after too much rice and rich side dishes, this Japanese somen noodle soup was a treat indeed.
Here is the recipe, in case you would love to try it yourself:

  • 8 oz somen noodles
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 4 oz cubed tofu
  • chili oil for serving
  • chili pepper flakes for garnishing
  1. Cook noodles for 3 minutes, rinse in cold water and divide among 4 bowls
  2. Place stock, sherry and soy sauce in a sauce pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Add scallions and tofu. Simmer for 1 minute
  4. Ladle soup over noodles
  5. Season with chili flakes and chili oil to taste.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fragrant Rice Pilau

I do not know if I missed any of the spices in my pantry, for this super fragrant pilau seems to have it all: coriander, cumin, fennel, black pepper, black cardamom, cinnamon, clove....How else can you get a complex, exotic bouquet in just one dish? I was certainly not shy about this one.  Please try it for yourself!

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 cups chopped vegetables (fresh or frozen): peas, green beans, carrots, corn
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole fennel seed
  •  ½ tablespoon crushed black pepper
  •  ¼ tablespoon crushed black cardamom
  • 6-8 clove buds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt

    To garnish:
  • 2 dry red chili peppers, seeds removed
  • 2 sticks (2”each ) cinnamon
  • 8-10 curry leaves.

  1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadai at medium heat. 
  2. Fry the chili, cinnamon sticks and curry leaves for about 10 seconds each, one ingredient at a time. Set aside.
  3. Add all the spices in the same oil, fry for about fifteen seconds or till seeds splatter, making sure they do not burn.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, fry for another minute or so, till well incorporated in the spice mixture.
  5. Add the vegetables to the spice and tomato mixture and fry for 2 minutes, until tender.
  6. Add the rice to the spice, tomato and vegetable mixture and fry for a minute, constantly mixing.
  7. Add water, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until desired texture, stirring the pilau occasionally so it does not stick to the pan.
  8. Serve the pilau hot, garnish with the fried chili, cinnamon and curry leaves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

100th Post- an Invitation "La Placinte"

Pronounced "plæchinte", these very famous and ubiquitous pastries can pass for National Dish of Moldova. We bake them all the time for a wide range of occasions or no occasion at all. There are many ways folks make these pastries, but the one I am presenting today yields a very flaky and crisp pastry!

Well, my occasion today is my 100th posting: I made it, though much slower than I thought I would!

Anyway, I am going to be slightly more generous than usual, and provide you with a bit more detail on the making of these beautiful and tasty pastries! For the seasoned baker out there, just looking at the pictures would be enough of an idea of what to expect.

For the dough you need:
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 and 3/8 cup water
  • 2 pounds sliced  raw potatoes, seasoned with salt, black pepper, spices or herbs of your choice.
  • Oil for brushing the dough
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the dough and knead a smooth, pliable dough, as if for bread. You may need to add more flour or water, depending on the humidity level of your flour and room.
  2. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal parts, slightly knead into small balls and let rest for 60 minutes.
  3. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into pizza-like crusts about 25 cm diameter.   
  4. Generously brush every single sheet with oil, and lay them one on top of the other. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Take one sheet at a time and stretch it till it becomes very thin, almost transparent. Either use your both hands and rotate the dough by grabbing its edges or stretch it on a flat working surface. Do not worry if it breaks here and there- it will get covered! (see photos)
  6. When you have a  thin sheet about 40cmX40cm, start folding it like for an envelope, each time brushing it with oil. (that is how you gate the flakiness) - see photos.
  7. When you have folded your dough, place a handful of stuffing in the center and start "gluing" its corners (see photos). You may want to glue 4 corners for a square shape and 6 corners for a round one.
  8. Place on greased baking sheets and bake for about 35-40 min at 350F.

Pofta Buna!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Green Peas in Fragrant Coconut Milk

We had coconut milk curry at one of the Indian restaurants and I fell in love with it....Of course, no waiter will disclose their recipe, that is why I reconstructed it using my bud memory. I thought there was something fragrant, almost like chai taste in it, so I thought garam masala would add a similar flavour....Pretty close. Added a bit of tamarind paste in it to cool the sweetness (enhanced by the presence of peas in it as well)- and it did turn out delicious.  Especially when served with the ever so fragrant Basmati rice!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spiced Chickpeas in Yoghurt Gravy- a Navarathri Special sure folks, this is not something that is traditionally served as Navarathri item, but it is my way of saying "love you, chickpeas, whether you are dark or light. Whether you are called Garbanzo, Kabuli Chana, Desi Chana, Bengal Gram or whatever...- you taste fantastic in any form". Tempered with a whole riot of spices and served with fragrant yogurt gravy- it was a delight for the tummy! Usually chickpeas are rather dry on their own- but this bell pepper-ish gravy made their day!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mushroom Poblano Enchiladas- a Yummy BHG Clipping

I sometimes pay closer attention to recipes that appear in magazines, and Mushroom Poblano Enchiladas from Better Homes and Gardens drew my attention and made me clip it. I found the dish simple and balanced, and easy to make, which is a major plus under my circumstances :) do you notice the brevity of my postings?

I probably violated the  BHG copyright by doing what I am doing, but credits to you, BHG- thank you thank you thank you. For the third year in a row I am getting this nice magazine and I love it!

The only thing that I did differently for this dish is roasted the poblanos (not fried), for enhanced flavour and also used yellow Monterey Jack cheese (for the top).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Navarathri, Sundhal, and a Ton of Memories

My visit to India in 2005 was all about the Pongal festival- whereas in 2007 I happened to have visited India around Navarathri and Dipavali (Diwali). How do I love the way the Indians celebrate their holidays?- I am nuts! -glamour- shopping galore- noise in the streets and fireworks in the air-and FOOD- India caters well to its vegetarian crowd

Each festival (and there are many) has its specialty foods and Sundhal is one of the Navaratri's favourites. Call it salad, snack or side dish- sundal is mainly a medley of pulses, grains, beans, cooked with spices, coconut and other goodies- in n number of combinations. Of course, there are classic recipes out there and the story is, one type of sundhal is being cooked  on each of these nine days of Navarathri (nine nights)- the last one being Nava Dhaania Sundhal (nine gram salad). I have one type of sundhal here, for the curious!

One of my blogger friends, Radhika Vasanth, has published the Kadala Parupu Sundal on her blog space, here, and I decided to use her recipe to prepare this delicious snack- and guess what- it turned out exceptional! Thanks Radhika!!!

Here are some shots of the gollu that I have taken in Chennai, 2007 (my husband's cousin' house)- the doll display done with so much skill and creativity for the Navaratri occasion!

Me somewhere at a Mylapore market- dolls dolls dolls!!! (a cellphone shot- thanks Kitthu!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mediterranian Sauce with Turnips- An Excellent Teamplayer

Turnips are widely used in all parts of Mediterranean, and can be teamed well with pasta or couscous (and of course, with fish and meat (hush hush!!). Cooked with white wine and infused with garlic- this simple sauce provides a real feast for the senses.

Here is the recipe:
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small turnips
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon paprica
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 20 black olives, pitted
  • salt and black  freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh dill, to garnish
  • cooked spaghetti, to serve
  1.  Peel the turnips and cut into julienne strips
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes, till golden brown
  3. Add the turnips and stir fry for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the tomato, tomato juice, stock, wine, paprika cayenne and seasoning. Bring to boil
  5. Stir in olives 
  6. Cover lightly and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Garnish with dill and serve with freshly cooked spaghetti.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Red Bean ...Burger- Missing Anything, Vegetarians?

My hubby  tries to avoid anything that is being processed next to meat, that includes vegetarian food that is handled in the same square foot as non vegetarian. - Oh, we can take the peperoni off your pizza, if you prefer a vegetarian one!- Thank You Very Much. 
Well, I am a bit easier, since I can close my eyes and pretend nothing happened- and that stray piece of ham in my salad ? I hope it had a safe journey!
Well well, vegetarian surrogates  do not appeal to me at all- if I really miss meat- I will get back to the real stuff (hope not). I mean all those meat flavoured vegan sausages, sliced ham, turkey chunks- give me a break!
But I do not mind making my own "burgers" and "hot dogs" (can we call them somehow differently?- hubby asks...) hmmm mmm.
I did make them many times using soy beans, lentils- but the kidney bean has yielded the best results so far- love the intense peppery character of this bean- and combined with mushrooms, bell peppers and garlic- it was so so good...Add a pinch of spice and seeds of your choice to boost its taste- and a handful of bread crumbs is a must to keep it together!  Fry in little oil- oil is not bad for you- in moderation! No. I am not missing anything. Amen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grilled Avocados- Irresistible Flavour and Texture

This one has been on my wish list for quite a while, and I was probably waiting for fall! Extremely easy to make- just brush them with olive oil and grill- they are a great spread to your crisp toasted bread slice- or just gulp it by the spoonful- hmmmm- it did taste like BBQ stuff a bit- and fresh salsa does give it a healthy lift!!! Be creative!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spring Rolls- a Burst of Freshness and Crunch- Even in Fall

It would have been more appropriate to publish this post in spring, the time when  they are most  celebrated in the countries of their birth,  but hey, we eat fresh veggies all year round, and which is more, I am not eating "by the season", since seasons are badly skewed in the American supermarkets. You know what I mean...In a way I am missing the times when we were waiting for a specific fruit or vegetable to ripen in our gardens- and man, did they taste good! On the other hand, I love the fact that I can have them whenever I want them- so seems like I am caught between these two dimensions!  Again...

Well, spring rolls are very easy to make- need rice wrappers (paper) and julienned veggies (of your choice)[carrots, bell peppers, lettuce leaves, green onions- my choice]) and cooked rice noodles. There are many ways to wrap these guys, but I got this open end idea from a buffet served at the Asian Culture Days Conference here in Austin (2004).

The "curly shrimp" on top is actually spiral cut carrot!- no scare for vegetarians!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nutty Chocolate Cake - à la Sam German!

Made with real chocolate, this cake is a treat for any chocoholic out there! The walnuts and whipped cream are a nice addition to this rich and moist creation! I made the cake using the German cake recipe in one of my dessert cookbooks- as far as the frosting is concerned-skipped a few steps there to ease my life on a Saturday afternoon! Some people call it originality- well well well....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tortilla Topped With Veggies and Cheese- And Baked- Tortilla Pizza, Really?

Oh I a Dutch with black hair?  What's in a name? Whatever it is, I prefer beating about the bush rather than throwing nicknames at my dishes- feel a bit  short of words though. 
How I made it? Start with uncooked tortilla. Spread some sliced tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and jalapeno peppers. Shove it in the preheated oven (375F). When the crust is baked (keep looking through the oven glass- it takes only couple of minutes), spread some good melting cheese and broil till perfect. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. There you go! The least messy stuff I made in months for lunch!

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