Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Eggs galore: allrecipes report

I just received a note on a site called allrecipes which has a bunch of recipes. I found their reports interesting though. Who knew eggs were this poplular? Devilled eggs and Egg salad were in their top three most-searched terms last month. I guess it's not surprising that I had an urge to try out scotch eggs this past weekend!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cream of Vegetable Soup

In my last post, I mentioned a vegetable soup that accompanied the scotch eggs surprisingly well. It took a more work than pouring out of a can (!) but the effort was so worth it....

750 ml Vegetable stock
Four stalks of celery (around 60 gms)
One small onion (60 gms)
Two medium potatoes (120 gms)
6 baby carrots
Two medium tomatoes
3/4 turnip (around 60 gms)
Two heaped tablespoons flour
15 gms butter
One cup milk
Salt to taste

  • Wash and chop all the vegetables into half inch cubes
  • Drop them in a deep saucepan with the cold stock, and cook on a medium flame till the veggies are tender. This should take about 20 minutes
  • Whip the whole mix in a food processor (D loved to help with this), and ideally sieve the puree to get a smooth extract (another activity she had a whale of a time with!)
  • Prepare a white sauce with the flour, butter and milk. To do this, first melt the butter in a sauce pan, then whisk in the flour ensuring that there is no clumping and don't let the flour brown. Once the flour and butter are whisked in to a smooth paste, pour in the milk. Boil this mix till it gets to a nice thick consistency, whisking all along
  • Add the white sauce to the puree, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat and serve hot

Monday, April 28, 2008

Scotch Eggs!

The kids and I had loads of fun this weekend, cooking up brunch for their visiting pals. Rather than the usual - which in our case tends to be omelets, smoked salmon and bagels or dosas and chutney - we went with scotch eggs, vegetable soup and garlic bread. A little eclectic, but it worked.

Scotch Eggs Ingredients:
Eight hard boiled eggs
Two uncooked eggs
One and half pounds ground turkey meat
One small chopped onion
One sprig parsley
Four tablespoons flour
Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons salt
Oil to fry
  • Shell hard boiled eggs - get the kids to do this! Roll them in flour seasoned slightly with a pinch or two of salt and pepper
  • Finely chop the onions and the parsley. Mix it into the minced meat with salt and pepper
  • Coat the eggs with the meat mixture so that the eggs are not visible. Your goal should be to have at least a couple of millimeters of meat all around the egg
  • Beat the uncooked eggs in a separate bowl
  • Roll the meat-covered egg with the raw egg, then coat in breadcrumbs
  • Heat the oil on a medium flame, then pop in the coated eggs
  • Let the coated eggs cook to a nice golden brown
  • Cut the eggs in half and set in a nice pattern, either on lettuce or with parsley springs
  • The kids will wold them down! They didn't even ask for ketchup!! I had forgotten to take pictures before the meal, hence the lonely eggs shown in the picture above!

Belly fat!

Was browsing articles on health and popped ears (I have a bout of it right now thanks to diving too deep in our pool), and for some odd reason turned up this article. I clearly need some lessons on better search techniques - wonder who I should work with on that?
"While experts do know that high cortisol levels contribute to abnormal accumulation of abdominal fat and the subsequent development of life-threatening diseases, they haven't yet come up with a magic nail to permanently deflate your spare tire."
The article also has a nice couscous recipe that introduced Feta cheese and mint into the mix. I'll have to try that next time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chicken baingan-wala (Chicken and Eggplant curry)

My mother-in-law is visiting and made a fantastic, easy curry that some of you might want to try out. I'd never used eggplant in my chicken curry, but this was an eye-opener.
Two pounds chicken (split thighs)
Half a large eggplant (three cups when cubed)
One potato, cubed
One sliced onion
One teaspoon crushed ginger
Two cloves crushed garlicHalf a teaspoon turmeric
Coriander leaves to garnish the dish
RajBhog Madras Curry Paste (Madras curry pastes are pretty spicy and easy to pull together. Here's one on recipezaar that you can try)
Three tablespoons of olive oil

  • Heat the oil, and fry the ginger and garlic, then toss in the onion and brown
  • Add the Madras Curry paste and mix in the turmeric. Saute till the mixture comes to a boil
  • Add the diced potato and chicken and cover well in the paste
  • As the chicken gets tender, add the eggplant and let soften
  • Add around a half-cup of hot water to cook the mix
  • An optional addition is two tablespoons of coconut powder, which thickens the sauce

This is a non-traditional side-dish, which can be served with rice or flat breads. It had an interesting Italian element to it all - perhaps thanks to the eggplant.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Water, again

I've been a bit of a water advocate, since I remember using it as a mechanism to still my beating heart a little when I competed in rifle-shooting events. I always felt like it was more about the act of having to stop, breath, take a sip, reflect, than the physiological effect of the water. However, with no real evidence to the contrary, I worked to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, as I described in a previous post. Now, the scientists have gotten back on the "don't over-hydrate" platform.

A couple of University of Pennsylvania researchers seem to suggest that there is little scientific data to suggest that over hydrating is beneficial in terms of weight control, better skin, etc.... Well, my approach is, as long as it's not proven to be detrimental, I'll keep with my eight glass regimen.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Deepa's Carrot Halva

"Serious competition from the Nellari family", said my brother-in-law, as he emailed me my sister's recipe. I've eaten my sister's desserts and have to admit she can do some magic in that department. Her Halva is delicious.
[For the sociologists out there, Nellari is my matrilineal family name.]


Four Cups Grated carrots
12 Oz Evaporated SkimMilk
1/2 cup sugar or sugar alternate
Sliced Almonds
3-4 pods cardomom
2-3 drops Rose waterPinch of saffron
  • Mix carrots, sugar and evaporated milk in a pan and bring to boil.
  • Cook until all the milk has been absorbed.
  • Add rose water, crushedcardomom, almonds and mix well.
  • Spread the Halva in a platter to 1inch thickness, garnish with almond slices.
  • Maybe served hot or cold.Also can be combined with ice cream.
  • Optional ingredients include raisins, lightly fried in butter and mixed in towards the end of step one

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Artichokes: A Stuffed Artichoke recipe

My sister and brother can get away with a lot...mostly because I remember my first cooking experiment and how they took it. I must have been ten, enamoured by my mother's glossy Life-Time recipe books, and insistent that I cook myself. After a long afternoon's work cooking up an artichoke, I served it to my siblings, who dutifully ate them. Then I tried...and realized I'd really not cooked the tartar sauce properly. Yeuck!! Full points to S&D for chomping away and not complaining at all!

Today's artichoke effort came about because my son K read a Pinky Dinky Doo book that featured the interesting-looking veggie and decided he needed to try it. Poor hubby got sent out last night to find a couple (he tried three stores) and I scoured around for recipes. Serendipitously, friend Aparna mailed me an Italian recipe book that gave me a couple of ideas and the following was the result.

Two medium sized artichokes
Olive oil
One egg

Half pound minced turkey
Two tomatoes
One onion
One egg
Pinch of turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder

One onion
Two teaspoons diced garlic
Pasta sauce (one medium bottle)
  • I prepped the stuffing as I normally would, i.e., with an Indian twist.... I started by frying diced onions till golden, mixing in the diced tomato, and when it all starts simmering, mix in the minced turkey and cook till the mix is dry.
  • Cool the mix, then mix in one egg so the stuffing hangs together.
  • Start prepping the artichoke. This means the following:
    - Slice the stem off, being careful not to cut into the artichoke flower
    - Pull off the outer bracts (the "petals" as the kids called them) till you get to the softer bracts
    - Chop the top of the floweret, so it has a stright edge on the top. Nip off the tips of the bracts that still have tips
    - Open out the flowerette, till you get to the central core. Gauge the tenderness of the central bracts, but I found that the center has to go. It's pretty sharp and hard
    - Having effectively created a cup for the stuffing, it's best to run water through the flowerettes, then squeeze lemon juice over them - this prevents discoloration
  • Put in the stuffing into the artichoke "cups", patting it down nicely so it's packed in well (the kids loved doing this)
  • Beat the extra egg, and dip the top of the stuffing and the encircling edges of the artichoke bracts in it. Then dip it in the bread crumbs (dad loved doing this!)
  • In a large pan, heat oil, then put the srtichokes face-down (stuffing side down) in the oil so it fries nicely. Once the tops are brown, take them off and cool
  • Start the sauce: fry the garlic and onion and pour in the pasta sauce, and bring to a simmer
  • Put the two artichokes in a pot, pour the sauce around them and cook on a medium flame for about 40 minutes (that's right!!)

This was a complex job, but tactile and hence lots of fun for the kids. The unique look and feel also made this an interesting eating experience for the kiddies. They loved the stuffing, and liked the bite and pull technique needed to get the flesh off the bracts. It reminded them of the Muringa (also called drum-sticks in India) that I use in my sambars!

Crepes, faux or not

Our dear pal H surprised us earlier this week by sending us amazing brownies and pancake mix from the classy and wholesome Dancing Deer Baking Co. The brownies disappeared pretty much instantly, with some sobbing when the kids discovered that the grown-ups had helped
themselves to some of them! This morning, D and I decided to start the day with some cooking, and we opened up the pancake mix. As we were just getting started, something triggered D to
talk about her friend J's birthday when the kids all cooked up crepes. Of course, that meant one thing. Time to experiment!!

The recipe called for whipping up one egg, 3/4 cups of milk,
two tablespoons butter and a cup of pancake mix. Instead, I opted to shift the proportions a little, only adding in a little more than half a cup pancake mix. It worked! This mix made the best ever crepes!

D did most of the mixing, with some help from dad. D also enjoyed the pouring on the chocolate sauce!!!

Thanks, H -- come have breakfast with us again SOON!