22 December 2009

Clementine Cake - my Christmas tradition

You can't read this Nigella Lawson recipe without falling in love with it! What's not to love about clementine puree and almonds?! I made this last December when clementines were aplenty in the market, now have decided to make this an annual Christmas tradition!

This is my modified version of Nigella's recipe

4-5 clementines (any other small orange like satsuma, tangerine should also do)
1 1/2 cups ground almonds (I used almond meal)
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)*

Put the clementines into a pot of cold water, bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 2 hours. When cooked, the clementines will be soft. Cut open and check to make sure there are no seeds. Put the cooked clementines into a blender, with pith and outside skin, and puree to a smooth paste.

In a bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients. Add the clementine puree and stir to make a smooth batter. Now grease a 9" baking tin well (make sure it is really greased well to avoid sticking) and pour in the cake batter. Cook at 375F for 30-35 mins.

The cake was moist and had the texture of chewy brownies.

* I prefer to put in some essence into cake to remove some of the "eggy" smell.

Simple Breakfast Sooji Utthapam

This is a traditional Konkani breakfast specialty. It's easy to make, and reminds me so much of home!

Serves 2 people

Sooji (semolina), 2 cups
1 onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped roughly
cilantro, 8 strands chopped
yogurt, 3 tbsp
water, as needed

In a bowl, combine sooji, onion, chilli, cilantro and yogurt. Add 1/4 cup of water and mix to form a smooth batter. Add more water as needed. The batter should be thicker than dosa consistency, but not too runny. Add salt and cover and keep for 1/2 hour. In this time, sooji will fluf a little. Check consistency and add some more water if needed. Grease a flat pan and spread batter to make a thickish dosa. Cover with a round lid while cooking. Utthapam takes about 3-4 minutes to cook on both sides.

08 December 2009

Cabbage, turnip, carrot soup

Winter veggies normally include root vegetables and lots of winter squash. This time we got a large, white cabbage - woohoo! I whipped up this soup last night to celebrate the snow showers that seems to be blanketting Chicago faster than I expected. It was a treat after a day of slipping and sliding.

Serves 4

1/2 head of cabbage, cut into thin strips and chopping those strips into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 small turnips, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp of lemon juice
3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup of cubed pancetta
1 tbsp of butter
Salt and pepper
  1. Add pancetta to a tsp of hot olive oil in a soup pot. Cook until the fat renders and pancetta pieces are browned and crisp.
  2. Add onions and garlic with salt. Cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Add rest of the vegetables and stir for a minute. Add stock, adjust for salt and add ground pepper. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cover and cook over low heat until vegetables are tender.
  5. Add lemon juice and stir in butter.
  6. Serve hot.

26 November 2009

Upside-down mixed berries cake

Serves 6

1 stick of salted butter
3/4 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk - I used 1% lactose free milk
1/2 cup frozen mixed berried - do NOT defrost before use
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  2. In a small bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. In a larger bowl, beat sugar and butter at medium speed until it forms a granular mix. Add one egg at a time and beat it in until mixed.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the flour mix and beat it a low speed, enough to incorporate it completely.
  5. Add cream and continue beating. Next add flour mix, beat it, followed by milk. Add the rest of the flour. With every ingredient added make sure you beat it to incorporate it completely.
  6. Fold in the frozen berries.
  7. Transfer to a buttered baking dish (8"x8") and sprinkle some sugar on the top. Bake for 45 mins until its brown on the top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

20 November 2009

Roasted ratatouille pasta

Another one of my weeknight creations reeking of impatience :) I love that I can chop up a bunch of veggies, stick them into the oven with salt and pepper and dinner's ready!
Serves 3
1 large eggplant, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 large red onion, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes strained - save atleast 1/3 cup of juice
Crushed red pepper
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsps of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsps of olive oil
1 1/2 cups of pasta
  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except the pasta in a 9x13" baking dish.
  3. Bake for 45 mins until veggies are completely cooked.
  4. 5 mins before done - cook the pasta in 2 cups of salted water and reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water.
  5. Mix the pasta into the eggplant mix and add the pasta water if more sauce is required. Stir to combine.
  6. Garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

18 November 2009

Shepherds pie

This is a quick one pot dish. Great for cooking on a week night with fresh winter produce - potatoes, onions and carrots.

Serves 4

1 lb ground meat - I used mutton
3 large pototoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 large yellow onion, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 cup string beans, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 cup of carrots chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsps of butter
2 tsps fresh thyme
1 tbsp of fresh cream
  1. Steam cubed potatoes until they are cooked through. Mash them with cream, salt, pepper and thyme . I used my food processor.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
  3. Heat some oil in an oven safe pot. Saute onions and garlic with salt until they are slightly browned and translucent.
  4. Add carrots and beans and cook for 5 more mins.
  5. Add the meat, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook until the meat is brown. Add 2 tbsps of water if the meat mix is completely dry.
  6. Turn off the heat and layer the mashed potatoes over the meat and onions. Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until the top layer is golden-brown.
  7. Garnish with fresh thyme. I served this with a side of sauteed chard.

Note: Consider adding peas to this recipe as well. I didn't have any on hand.

16 November 2009

Chicken soup

I have a mild ear ache, nagging headache and I feel like I am breathing in through only one of my nostrils. sigh..and its cold and gray outside. Chicken soup makes it all a little better.
Serves 6

6 chicken drumsticks, skinned
5 cups of water
Bouquet garni - small bunch of parsley, 5-6 sprigs of thyme and 2 sprigs of rosemary
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
8-9 shallots sliced
3 bay leaves
5-6 whole peppercorns
1 tbsp of flour
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Heat a couple of tbsps of oil in a soup pot and add the chicken. Let the chicken brown until it comes off the pot easily and let it brown on the other side as well. Set aside.
  2. Add shallots to the oil and cook until wilted and translucent. Add some salt to help with the wilting.
  3. Add garlic cloves and flour. Stir quickly for less than a minute and add 1/2 of water. Scrape the bottom the pot with a wooden spoon to remove brown bits.
  4. Now add the rest of the water, bouquet garni, bayleaves and peppercorns.
  5. Allow the water to come to a quick simmer. Add chicken legs. Bring to a boil, add salt, lower the heat, cover and cook for 35 mins until the chicken is done.
  6. When done, remove the bouquet garni and bay leaves. Squeeze some lemon juice into it before serving.

12 November 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Adapted from H's mom's recipe

2 green bell peppers
3 medium-sized potatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper pwdr
1/2 tsp cumin pwdr
1/2 green chilli, chopped fine

Boil the potatoes to cook them thoroughly. Peel the skin off, and mash them well. Add the turmeric, cayenne, cumin powders, chopped green chilli and salt to season.

Now, take the whole bell peppers and slice off the top with the stem. Empty out the inside contents to create a hollow which can be stuffed with the potato filling. Scoop the potato filling inside. Arrange the filled bell peppers on a greased baking tray and bake for 20-25 mins at 375F. I turned the gas mark to broil for the last 5 mins of baking to allow the outer skin of the pepper to roast.

11 November 2009

Cabbage-peas poriyal

Source: Vegetarian cuisine from South India by Chandra Padmanabhan

Serves 4

2 tsps olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)
1 tsp bengal gram dal (chana dal)
1 dried red chilli crushed
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
4-5 curry leaves
500g of chopped cabbage
1 cup of peas

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, red chilli, asafoetida powder and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds begin to sputter, add chopped cabbage, peas and salt to taste.
  2. Stir to mix well. Cover, lower heat and let cook until cabbage is tender and cooked through.
  3. Serve hot. If you prefer, garnish it with dessicated coconut right before removing it off the heat.

Andhra Mutton Curry

Source: Once again, Ms. Punjabi's 50 Great Curries of India

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli pwdr
1/2 tsp cayenne pwdr
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
a few sprigs cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lb stewing lamb
1 1/2 large onions, chopped fine
4 green cardamoms
4 cloves
2 tomatoes, chopped fine
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (i skipped this because I didn't have it)

Whisk the yogurt, turmeric, ginger-garlic pastes, chilli and cayenne pwdrs and the cilantro leaves together to make a thick marinade. Coat the meat with this mixture, and marinate for 1-2 hours.

In a deep pan, add oil and when heated add the cardamoms and cloves. After 1 minute, add the chopped onion and let it brown for 5-7 minutes. When onions are browned, add the meat mixture. Let the meat cook on medium/ low heat for 15 minutes, until the marinade is absorbed. Make sure you are stirring continuously so that the marinade does not burn. I noticed that at the end of 15 mins, the water from the yogurt had evaporated and the gravy had taken on a slightly brownish color. Now, add the tomatoes and cook again for 5 mins till the water is absorbed. Add the curry leaves, caraway seeds and salt. Cook for 2 minutes.

At this point, I transferred the contents of the pan into a slow cooker, added 3 cups water, and let the meat cook for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can add 2-3 cups water to the pan on the stove and cook the meat covered on slow heat until it is tender.

This recipe was DELICIOUS and is a MUST TRY! I thought it would turn out too spicy, but the yogurt tempers the chilli powders. ENJOY!

08 November 2009

Chicken Liver Mousse


1) Chicken Livers (1 lb )

2) Shallots

3) Garlic

4) Thyme & Rosemary

5) Port


Whoa, flashed back to chem lab in high-school, my nasty chem teacher wouldn't let me in, if the notes weren't done in a particular format. Hah...this'll show her!!!! I can make chicken liver pate and blog about it now....hah!! who had the last laugh Mrs B!

Anyways, coming back to the livers, first pat down the livers with a kitchen towel and salt & pepper them, add plenty of red chilli flakes (if you want some kick). Heat a heavy bottomed pan, use some high heat oil and make sure the pan is really hot, brown the livers on both sides about 3 to 4 minutes a side, the livers are done when they are slightly firm to the touch. To be sure, check the livers to see if they are slightly pink on the inside, that's done.

Get rid of the burnt oil, fry the chopped shallots and garlic with the herbs, just for a few minutes. Then add some port, reduce it down to a couple of tablespoons. Almost forgot, keep salting at each stage.

You're almost done!!, now combine everything in a food processor and blend!! Since this is not a Pate (i don't have the patience to put in the accent, so just imagine it's there) but a Mousse, sieve the blended product to smoothen it out and then fold in some heavy cream. Oh also, before you begin blending add in half a stick of butter...(haha, serves you right for not reading all the way to the end before starting.). All done now.


This soup looks fussy but was a surprisingly quick soup to make. I made the fish broth a day in advance.
Source: James Peterson's Splendid Soups
Serves 8

Fish broth - base of the soup
4 pounds of fish bones
2 medium sized onions, sliced
4 shallots sliced
a small bunch of fresh thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
3 cups of dry sherry or white wine

Soup thickener - picada
6 - 1/2" slices of french baguette
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup blanched almonds
1 ancho chilli - soaked in boiling water for 20 mins, seeded and coarsely chopped
8 cloves of garlic
salt to taste

To finish the soup
8 fillets of white fish
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup picada

For the fish broth:
  1. Soak fish bones in water for 30 mins. Change the water a couple of times to make sure that the fish bones are clean. Thorougly rinse the bones.
  2. In a 4-quart pot, combine the bones with all the broth ingredients and add enough water to cover all the bones.
  3. Bring the broth to a slow simmer and simmer for 30 mins. Strain the broth.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. In a seperate baking dish, spread out the almonds. Toast bread and almonds until the bread and almonds are well toasted.
  2. Combine olive oil, ancho chilli, garlic and almonds in a food processor. Process until you get a smooth paste. Add toasted bread and ladle in a few spoon fulls of fish broth. Process until you get a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.

To finish the soup:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot. Add the picada and stir to cook for 2 mins.
  2. Pour in 10 cups of fish broth, adjust for salt and bring to a slow simmer.
  3. Poach the fish fillets, a few at a time.
  4. Serve each fillet in a soup bowl, ladle in the fish soup and garnish with fresh thyme.

05 November 2009

Moroccon-style Lamb soup with dried apricots

Adapted from Splendid Soups by James Peterson

Serves 6

2 lbs of lamb stew meat - you can also use lamb shanks cut crosswise
1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves - chop 2, leave the rest unpeeled and whole
2 quarts of chicken or veggie broth or water
3 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1-inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
pinch of saffron
1 2-3 inch cinnamon stick
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried figs
3 small bulbs of fennel, sliced crosswise
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  1. In a 4 qt soup pot over high heat, brown the lamb in half the olive oil. Transfer browned meat to a slow cooker with the broth and unpeeled garlic cloves. Cook over high for 3 hours.
  2. When you have 30 mins left on the slow cooker: In the 4-quart pot over medium heat, cook onions and chopped garlic in the remaining olive oil until lightly browned, about 5 mins. Add turmeric, ginger and saffron. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add cinnamon, tomatoes, apricots, figs, fennel, salt and pepper to the pot. Ladle out 1 cup of broth from the slow cooker into the pot and simmer gently for 20 mins.
  4. Now add the meat from the slow cooker to the pot. Drain the broth - I saved it to use later.
  5. Simmer for another 10 mins. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 mins more.
  6. Just before serving add a dash of white wine vinegar and garnish with almonds and cilantro.

02 November 2009

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds & Pistachios

I was first introduced to this recipe a few years ago by our friends Dan & Deborah who were gracious to share this recipe. Served with a mixed greens salad and a simple dessert of stroopwafles (available at World Market) & fresh blackberries, it made for a perfect autumnal meal. I won't even get into the cheese platter!

I have since made this dish a few times and it never fails to garner the oohs, aahs and yumms.

Serves four

2-3 Tbsp ghee (or olive oil with a pat of butter)
2 onions, finely chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 lbs lean lamb (shoulder or leg) cut into bite size pieces
8 oz moist, pitted dates
1 Tbsp dark honey
Ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pat butter
2-3 Tbsp blanched almonds
2 Tbsp shelled pistachios
Small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed casserole or tagine and saute onions till golden brown.
  2. Stir in spices. Add meat and toss to coat with spice mixture.
  3. Pour in enough water to almost cover meat and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for about 90 minutes.
  5. Add dates and stir in honey. Simmer another 30 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
  7. Heat olive oil with butter in a small pan and stir in nuts. Cooks till they begin to turn golden.
  8. Scatter nuts over the top of the lamb and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with couscous.

01 November 2009

Shrimp Quesadillas

After a week-long hiatus, courtesy a licensing exam, I was able to finally return to posting on the blog. Sunday evening with very little in the fridge, I decided to try some homemade Mexican food. Now, quesadillas are not the most difficult thing to make, but the combination of these ingredients made it fresh and surprisingly light!

I tweaked some of the ingredients from this recipe on Closet Cooking

Serves 2

4 large corn tortillas
20 shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked (I used frozen shrimp which were cooked)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1/4 white onion, chopped fine
1 tsp chaat masala* (the original recipe calls for cumin pwdr but I found this substituted better)
handful of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup mexican cheese mix, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want that extra kick)

Cut the shrimp into small pieces and add the onion, jalapeno, chaat masala, cilantro, and lemon juice. Add salt (if using chaat masala, remember that it has salt in it). Set this marinated shrimp aside for 20 mins.

Heat a flat pan, and place tortilla on it. Pile on the shrimp mixture and top with grated cheese. Allow the tortilla to get a little crisp, by which time the cheese will also have melted slightly. Now place another tortilla on top, and flip the whole thing over gently to allow second side to crisp.

Cut into pieces and serve with sour cream and salsa.

* Chaat masala is a spicy tangy mixture of several Indian spices, readily available in Indian stores

30 October 2009

Shahi mixed veggie paneer

Add cashew paste and cream into any Indian curry and you have 'Shahi' (Royal) sauce.
Serves 4
1 lb cottage cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups of frozen veggies
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1" inch peice of ginger, chopped
1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp crushed red chillies
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup cashew nut paste
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup water
  1. Saute onions in hot oil till golden brown. Add ginger, kasuri methi and fry for 1-2 mins.
  2. Stir in red chilli, garam masala and salt.
  3. Add tomatoes and cook until it is the spices are well combined and most of the tomato juice has been cooked off. About 5-7 mins.
  4. Add cashew paste and cream. Simmer for 3-4 mins. Add water, veggies and simmer.
  5. Add paneer and continue to simmer for another 5 mins.
  6. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with naan.

Overripe bananas - again!

V insists on buying half a dozen out of which normally 2 end up in banana bread. This time round, I tried banana cookies from Simply recipes and they turned out like I would expect banana cookies to taste like - perfect!

28 October 2009

Onions added to Quiche Lorraine makes Quiche Alsacienne

Serves 6-8

1 9" whole wheat pie crust - I get the Whole Foods brand
5 eggs
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of cubed pancetta or 4 strips of bacon
1 tbsp of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup of chopped red onions
1 cup grated cheese - I used a mix of Manchego and Gouda
  1. Prick the pie crust's base and sides with a fork. Partially bake it in the oven for 10 mins at 375 deg. In the meantine, heat 1 tsp of oil in a non stick pan, add bacon or pancetta pieces and cook until the bits begin to brown and the fat melts. Drain out a bit of fat if its too much - now add onions and cook until they are browned.
  2. In a bowl whisk eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper and thyme together.
  3. Layer cheese at the bottom, followed by the onion-pancetta mix in the pie crust. Place the pie in the oven and a minute later without removing the pie from the oven, pour the egg mix until it reaches a 1/2" below the top of the pie.
  4. Bake for 40-50 mins until it is slightly browned on the top. Be careful to not overcook.
  5. I served this with a side of Kale with potatoes and anchovies.

Good to know: the reason we leave the pie crust in the oven while pouring in the egg mix is so that the egg mix begins to set as soon as it is poured thus preventing the crust from becoming soggy.

27 October 2009

Bok choy with garlic

Serves 3

1 bunch bok choy, seperated and chopped into 1/2" pieces - keep the stems and leaves seperate
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 tsps fish sauce or tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp water or broth
Freshly ground pepper

Heat a couple tsps of oil and add garlic. When the garlic turns slightly brown, add boy choy stems. After 2 mins add bok choy leaves and cook until slightly wilted. Add fish sauce, water and pepper. Cover and cook for another 2 mins until the stems are cooked through yet a bt crunchy. Adjest for salt, if necessary.

26 October 2009

Brussel sprouts with pine nuts and parmesan

Brussel sprouts are a winter blessing that few know how to enjoy. I am not always one of those few. This recipe is a good-quick-go-to brussel sprouts snack but definitely not eating it like candy.
1. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
2. Remove sprouts off the bark and remove the loose outer leaves. Halve sprouts and toss them with enough olive oil to thinly coat the pieces. Add a couple of tsps of Balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 mins until they are browned and slightly crispy.
4. Transfer into a bowl. Toss in grated parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

24 October 2009

Parsi Dhansak

Dhansak is a lentil-based meat delicacy which is a specialty of the Parsi community in India. Being from Bombay, Parsi cuisine is as integrated into our palette as "vada pav". Other delicacies include Salli Boti (a hot spicy mutton curry made with apricots and sprinkled with 'salli' or potato straws) and Patrani Machchi (fish steamed in banana leaves).

Recipe source: My grandmother's Parsi friend

1 onion, chopped
3/4 lb chicken breast/ or mutton (cut into bite-sized cubes)
4-5 tsp dhansak masala (you should be able to find this in most Indian spice stores)

For the dal:
1 1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
1/2 bunch methi (fenugreek) leaves
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1 medium eggplant, chopped into medium pieces
1/2 small pumpkin, chopped small
1 small sweet potato, cut small

For the spice mix:
3 cardamoms
1 piece of cinnamon
4 cloves
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 red chillies
2 green chillies
3 cloves garlic

Cut the chicken into cubes and marinate with 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. Set aside.

In a mixer, add all the ingredients of the spice mix and grind into a smooth paste, adding 2-3 tsp water.

In a pressure cooker, cook all the ingredients for the dal. I let it cook for 2 whistles. Once done, let the steam escape and when you open the cooker, use the back of a spoon to mash all the vegetables into a smooth paste. This should be fairly easy, since the vegetables tend to disintegrate into the dal.

In a deep pan, heat 2 tsp oil and when it is hot, add the onions. Let these brown for 5 minutes, and then add the spice mix. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes, and then add the dhansak masala. Let the spice mix cook for another 2-3 minutes. At this point, add the dal into the pan and mix well. Add 3 cups water (more if desired) and at this point, add the chicken into the dal. Let the dal and chicken boil on medium heat for 25 minutes.

Serve with rice and a chopped salad.

While this recipe is a little tedious, it is well worth the effort.

23 October 2009

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Kale

All the rage about Kale these days led me to this quick, non-fussy recipe at Cooks Illustrated. A good introduction for those who are intimadated by Indian cooking.

Serves 4

1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used Masoor Dal)
1 tsp table salt
1 pound kale, stemmed, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp yellow mustard powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger

1) Rinse the lentils well and strain.
2) In a medium saucepan, add lentils, 6 cups of water and salt and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes.
3) Reduce the head and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape.
4) Add kale to the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
5) In a skillet, heat butter over medium heat.
6) Add the coriander, cumin and mustard powders and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute
7) Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute or until softened and fragrant.
8) Add the lentils and kale and the reserved cooking liquid and simmer for 5 minutes.
9) Adjust seasings as needed.
10) Serve hot with rotis or rice.

This can easily be made into a soup by adding more liquid and adjusting the salt and spices, accordingly.

21 October 2009

Sweet and spicy golden beets

Serves 4

5 small yellow beets, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green peppers, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp all purpose flour
salt to taste

  1. Steam cubed beets for 15 mins until you find the pieces easy to penetrate with a fork. Heat oil in a pot, add cumin and a 1/2 min later add garlic. Once the garlic is lightly cooked, add onion, sliced peppers and salt. Cook until onions are slightly browned and translucent.
  2. Add flour and crushed red pepper. Saute for 1/2 a minute.
  3. Add beets, tomato and salt if needed. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for another 10 mins over a low flame.
  4. Serve with roti.

18 October 2009

Kale Rice

I love this recipe because its simple, very yummy, and I have a recipe where I know what to do with kale!!

1/2 bunch kale, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped
1 cup rice, cooked and cooled
2 tomatoes, chopped
cumin seeds, 1 tsp
mustard seeds, 1/2tsp
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 curry leaves
juice of 1/2 a lime
olive oil

In a wok, heat oil and add cumin and mustard seeds. When they splutter add the curry leaves. After a minute, add the onions and fry till they become soft and golden. Add garlic mince and fry for 2-3 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, coriander and chilli powders and fry on medium heat for 5-7 minutes til the tomatoes turn soft and the masala begins to glisten. Add chopped kale, mix well with the onion mixture and cook with a closed lid for 7-8 minutes. When cooked, add the cooked rice. Mix well, add salt and lime juice.

Enjoy with yogurt!

16 October 2009

Apple crumble or crisp

Apples are in season. So if you have an excess of picked apples this season - try this crumble. Easy, delicious and you don't have to worry about your apples rotting. I cut down consirably on sugar but you want to be careful doing that. Too little sugar will pull sugar out of the apples as they cook. Ideally, you want the apples to intensify in sweetness as they cook.
Makes a 7x11" pan of crumble
3 honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and cubed into 3/4" inch pieces - you can use any firm apple variety like Red delicious, McIntosh, etc.
Splash of lime juice
2 tbsp sugar
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp of flour
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp of rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cold butter cubed into 1/4"pieces
1-2 tbsp of apple cider
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. For the filling mix all ingredients for the filling in a baking pan.
  2. For the topping, roughly mix all ingredients for the topping. Squeeze the butter cubes slightly to flatten the cubes.
  3. Spread the topping evenly over the cubed apples mix. Bake until the mix is bubbling and the topping has evenly browned. About 45-55mins.
  4. Check in 30 mins - if you see white flour patches on the top, sprinkle a bit of apple cider on it and continue baking.

French lentil soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of diced onions
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt to taste
3 dried bayleaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup of french lentils
3 cups of water or veggie broth

  1. Heat oil in a pot over high heat. Add onions and cook for 5-7 mins until translucent and slightly brown.
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, salt, bayleaves, parsley and cook for another 3 mins.
  3. Add lentils, water and adjust for salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered until done. About 10-15 mins.

15 October 2009

Mutton Kheema

This is one of H's mother's authentic Bombay mutton kheema recipes. It was so satisfying and quite easy to prepare! there are a few steps that are important to follow to ensure it turns out perfect...

1 lb mutton/ lamb mince
1 large potato, cut into small pieces
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli pwdr
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp haldi
2 tbsp yogurt
1 green chilli, chopped fine
olive oil
cilantro, for garnishing

Wash the lamb mince and strain to remove all water. This is important if you want to make dry kheema. Make sure all the water is squeezed out thoroughly. Marinate the mince with all the spices, ginger-garlic paste, and salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.

In a shallow pan, add 1/2 tsp oil. When hot, add the cut potatoes and fry lightly. Then add the green chillies, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the mince and yogurt. Mix well and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, and when water has somewhat evaporated, lower flame and put the lid on. Cook for 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. Serve with naan and yogurt.

Rainbow trout with coriander and lemon

Serves 2 very hungry people
2 Rainbow trouts gutted and cleaned off eyeballs, gills, etc.
1 big bunch of corainder - chopped fine packed into 2 cups
1 lemon sliced into 1/4" thick discs
1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green chillies, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 deg. Mince coriander, garlic and chillies together. Use salt to help mince. Stuff the fish with this mix and pace atleast 2-3 lemon discs in it. Bake the fish in an oiled roasting pan for about 10 mins. Then move the pan into the broiler for 3 mins until the fish is lightly browned.
  2. I served it with quinoa and french lentil soup.

09 October 2009

Winter Squash Soup

Source: Modifications from Smitten Kitchen


1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
1 leek, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fresh sage
olive oil
some whipping cream

To prepare squash, peel skin, remove seeds and chop into cubes. Easier said than done! I struggled with the endeavor for 5 minutes, realized it was futile. Instead (as suggested by Deb), I halved the squash, deseeded them and then laid them on a baking sheet to bake for 20-30 minutes at 425F. They were cooked perfectly, and I could scoop the pulp out from the skin.

In a pan, heat 2tbsp oil and add leeks and chopped garlic. Saute for 10 minutes until leeks are cooked. Add the cooked squash, chicken broth, cumin, ginger, and herbs. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes. When cooled, puree in a blender.

Return the soup to the stove, add a little whipping cream and pepper. The original recipe asked for sugar, but I thought the soup was perfectly sweet and so skipped it.

The soup was filling and perfect for the autumn chill that has descended on Chicago!

08 October 2009

Zuccini-potato gratin

You have a couple of Zuccinis and 1 potato in the pantry - make Mekhala's Herbed Zuccini-potato torte or old fashioned gratin. I stuck it into the oven and forgot about it for 45 mins - now I have a delicious side for a couple of days. Not much to look at but delicious nonetheless.

Serves 5-6 as side dish

1 large yukon potato, cut horizontally into 1/4" circular slices
2 large zuccinis, cut into 1/4 " circular pieces
1 1/2 cups of milk and heavy whipping cream mixed half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese (parmesan or aged gouda or manchego - any cheese that is a salty and easy to grate)
2 tsps dried rosemary
  1. Saute zuccini slices in oil until they become slightly brown on both sides. The idea is to cook off most of the water in zuccini. If you don't do this, your gratim will turn out watery instead of crispy brown.

  2. Season milk-cream mix with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 375 deg. In a 9"x12" baking dish, layer the milk-cream mix such that it comes up to approx. a little less than 1/4". Layer potato slices - overlapping them slightly. To check if the milk-cream mix is at the right level, it should partially cover the potato slices on it edges when depressed into the mix.

  3. Add a single layer of cooked zuccini slices. Layer grated cheese - followed by leftover milk-cream mix.

  4. Continue layering until all of the milk-cream mix and zuccinis are used up. The topmost layer should be grated cheese and dried rosemary.

  5. Bake in the oven for 45 mins until the top is evenly browned. Check on the gratin in halfway through - if zuccini is sitting in liquid increase the temperature or if its bubbling wildly descrease the temperature. The idea is to maintain a temperature at which it is gently simmering and browning evenly while it cooks.

Good to know: The potato slices add starch to thicken the sauce and provide a stable base layer for the gratin.

07 October 2009

Shrimp Fried Rice

This is a really easy recipe to make with fridge leftovers. One important tip to make perfect fried rice: use day-old rice which has been stored in the fridge.
2 cups white rice (stored in the fridge for a day)
20-25 shrimp cleaned and deveined (i used frozen shrimp)
3-4 spring onions, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup peas (i used frozen peas)
2 pods of garlic, minced
2 eggs
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

In a bowl, combine the shrimp, salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. In a small pan, add 1tsp oil and when it is hot, add the shrimp. Let the shrimp turn golden-brown on both sides (takes about 30s each side). Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add two eggs and scramble. Set aside.

In a wok, add 2-3 tbsp oil and heat on a high flame. Add minced garlic and green onions. Saute for 1-2 minutes and then add peas and bell pepper (you can add any other vegetables, like carrots, green beans). Let these cook for 3-4 minutes. When veges looked partially cooked, add the sauteed shrimp. Add white rice and mix with the vegetables. Add the soy sauce. Stir-fry on high heat for 5 minutes. Lastly, add the scrambled eggs.

Savor the fried rice fresh off the stove!

04 October 2009

Sweet potato, onion, black beans salad

"Good chefs read cookbooks, great chefs write cookbooks" V quoted from the latest Iron Chef rumble when he tasted this salad. Ofcourse I beamed proud :) even though the statement was made under the influence of a particularly strong hot toddy for his stuffy nose and head.Serves 4

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed in 1" pieces
1 large red onions, cubed into 1" pieces
Kosher salt
2 red chillies crushed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup minced coriander
2 tsp roasted, ground cumin
juice of 1/2 lime

Coat the potato and onion cubes in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and crushed red chillies in a baking dish. Roast for 45 mins at 450 deg, until potatoes are done, onions are brown in places and caramelized.

In a bowl mix the roasted potatoes and onions with the rest of the ingredients. Adjust for salt and lime.

29 September 2009

Crepes with Mareguez sausages, red pepper and goat cheese

Crepes are surprisingly easy to make if you have a 10" non stick crepe pan. Allow for a couple of less than satisfactory crepes in the beginning. After making 1 or 2 you should get the hang of it.

For crepes - from America's Test Kitchen family cookbook

Makes 4 crepes

1/2 cup whole milk - I used low fat milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
3 tbsps water
1 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Blend all the ingredients. Cover and refridgerate for 2 hours.
  2. Stir the mixture if it has seperated.
  3. Smooth some butter on a 10" pan over medium heat.
  4. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter on the pan and tilt it quickly to cover the base and spread it.
  5. Flip the crepe when light brown on one side - about 30 seconds. Cook for another 30 seconds on the other side.

For the filling - V improvised this on the fly

Serves 3

3 marguez lamb sausages - V substituted one with Andouille sausage, chopped into bite size pieces. Sausages were spiced with fennel, cumin and red chilli.
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper sliced into strips
1/2 green pepper sliced into strips
1/4 cup chopped dried figs
2 tsp dried pomegranate seeds (anar-dana)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

  1. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry the the sausages until brown. Drain some oil to leave about 1 tbsp. Add garlic, onions, green, red pepper, salt and cook until onions are dark brown.
  2. Add figs, pomegranate seeds and 1 tbsp of water. Cook for another 5 mins, until most of the water has been absorbed.
  3. Garnish with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.

28 September 2009

Rhubarb Buttermilk Bread

Rhubarb? Honestly, I didn't know this vegetable existed until a few years ago. But seeing these intensely red-colored stalks in my supermarket yesterday made me want to try making SOMETHING with them.
I found the perfect recipe at Eating Out Loud

For the Bread:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn't have any, so made a make-do version by mixing two tablespoons of yogurt with 1/2 cup of water)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon pwdr
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup diced rhubarb (I cut these about 1/2" in size)
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients for the bread together. Grease a loaf pan well and pour the batter into it. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients to for a rough mixture. Sprinkle this onto the bread batter. (I left out the topping in the interests of making this bread a little healthier and it still tasted great). Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.

This bread is one of the best I have tasted. The rhubarb is wonderfully tart, and is a perfect combination with the sweetness of the bread!

Puttanesca sauce with gnocchi

This is a personal favorite because of the story behind the name and that it combines three of my all time highly desirable ingredients: Anchovies, olives and capers. Puttanesca sauce was cooked in bordellos to attract clientele. The idea being - the more pungent the sauce the stronger the smell as it wafts down the stairs, out the red door into the streets. At the end of the night, customers were fed this salty and tasty sauce to encourage thirst for more drink more. It's all about the entire experience.
Serves 4

4-5 fillets of anchovies, diced

1/2 onion
1 red pepper, diced - I also added 1/4 leftover green pepper
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 1/2 cans of diced tomatoes
1-2 tbsp water
1/2 cups halved kalamata olives
1 1/2 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 packet frozen gnocchi

  1. Heat 1-2 tbsps olive oil in pan and cook anchovies over medium high heat until it completely dissipates. Use a screen if necessary, the sputtering can make a mess. Now add garlic, onions and diced peppers. Saute until onions are lightly browned. You might want to add a bit of water here to avoid excessive browning. Add tomatoes and salt (if necessary - don't forget anchovies add quite a bit of salt to begin with. So taste before you add more salt). Simmer for 10 mins until tomatoes are cooked. Add olives and capers 5 mins after adding the tomatoes.
  2. While tomatoes are simmering, dunk the frozen gnocchi in salted boiling water for 4-5mins. This will start the cooking process. Take it out of the water and add it to the simmering sauce to complete the cooking process. This will ensure that the gnocchi absorbs the sauce and is evenly coated with it.
  3. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

24 September 2009

Madras Fish Curry

Source: 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi

4-5 tilapia fillets (I cut each fillet into 2 large pieces)
1 cup fresh coconut
1 1/2" piece ginger
6 cloves of garlic
2-3 tomatoes, diced
2 onions, chopped
3 tsp poppy seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1 tsp coriander pwdr
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
2 tsp chilli pwdr
3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds and 3/4 tsp cumin seeds, pounded together

Marinate the fish with turmeric and a little salt for 30 mins.
In a blender, put the grated coconut, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and poppy seeds. Do not add water (the tomatoes should have plenty of juice) and grind to form a smooth paste. I whirred mine 2-3x to make sure it was smooth.
Soak the tamarind ball with some hot water in a separate cup. Strain and set aside the juice.
In a shallow broad-based pan, heat the oil and when hot add mustard seeds. They wil start spluttering soon. At this time add the cut onions and fry until lightly colored. Add the curry leaves and this will let out a lovely aroma. When the onions have started browning, turn the heat down low and add turmeric, coriander and chilli pwdrs and stir. Let these cook for 1-2 mins while stirring, so as not to burn it.
Next, add the coconut mixture and saute for 3-4 mins. Add the tamarind water, salt to taste, and a further 2 cups of water (more if you desire a watery curry). Bring to a boil, and then slowly add the tilapia fillets. Turn the heat to low at this time. Sprinkle with a mixture of the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Cover and cook till fish is done; mine took about 15 minutes.

The dish tasted delicious accompanied by white rice. Also, if this curry is made 3-4 hours before eating, the flavors of the spices seep into the fish better. It tasted even better the next day!

19 September 2009

Roasted tomato, cippolini and green pepper

I am a believer - simple and sooo tasty! Smitten kitchen once again ~~~

Makes 2 servings
10 mini roma tomatoes or smaller tomato varieties. Stay away from cherry tomatoes for this recipes - look for more tart than sweet flavors
10 cippolini onions, blanced for 10 sec and peel the outer skin
Green pepper, cut into 2" strips
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tsp coarse salt
5 whole black pepper
3 crushed garlic cloves

  1. Mix whole tomatoes, cippolini, green pepper, olive oil, salt, black pepper and garlic in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven at 375 deg for 45 mins, stirring it now and then. During this time the outer skin of tomatoes, onions and green pepper will wrinkle and veggies will stew in the tomato juice thats released in the pan.
  2. I served the roasted veggies and soup in a bowl of quinoa.

18 September 2009

Black plum compote

We bought some tiny black plums at the Farmer's market. These visually perfect little cherry plums didn't taste like anything we expected. Tart with no sign of sugar. Thats when the idea of making dessert struck - if there is no sugar let's add some shall we!

Make 1 1/2 cups of compote

2 cups of plums, pitted and halved
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup of port

Soak the plums in lime juice and sugar overnight. Heat the plum mix in a saucepan, add port and cook over a lazy boil until the sauce thickens. Taste the sauce to check for the right balance of sweet and tart. Let cool and store in an airtight jar for a week.
It can be served with ice cream, pancakes, cookies, biscuits - possibilities are endless.
Variations: Adding cinnamon or rosewater while cooking add an interesting spin to the compote.

15 September 2009

Sweet potato and Kale soup

Another recipe that makes me want to eat more kale and sweet potatoes. This soup is a good fall soup with its subtle Thai Indian flavors and a party of textures. After having a bowl of this goodness, V remarked "this could be a great starter on Iron Chef" - I beamed proud :) - Thank you Kath eats Real Food.

Serves 4

2 sweet potatoes peeled, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 yukon potato peeled and cubed
3 cups Kale stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 can coconut milk
1 cup milk (I used 2% lactose free milk)
salt to taste
Ground black pepper
2 dried red chillies crushed
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 leek - both white and green parts sliced
3 big cloves of garlic
2 big tbsps of black raisins
salted peanuts and dessicated coconut for garnish

Steam potaoes for about 8-10mins until potatoes are done but not falling apart. In a pot, heat olive oil and saute garlic until slightly brown. Add leek, chilli flakes and saute till leeks are translucent. Add steamed potatoes, coconut milk, milk, salt, pepper and garam masala. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 mins. Keep the pot warm over low heat, process the solids and pour it back into the pot. Add kale, raisins and 1/4 cup water if necessary to manage the consistency of the soup. Cook until kale is done, another 7-10 mins.

Garnish with dessicated coconut and peanuts.

Slow Cooker Mutton Curry

I started out the day lining up all the ingredients to make S and V's Lamb Stew featured on this blog. Then, had a change of heart and a yearning for a spicy Indian mutton curry. Kittu's recipe came to mind and I adapted it to suit the slow cooker.

1 lb lamb cubed
1 large onion, chopped fine
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
3" piece ginger, minced
Whole garam masala (2 tejpatta, 1 slit green chilli, 3-4 cardamom pods, 3-4 cloves)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp kasoori methi *
1/4 bunch cilantro leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric pdr
1/2 tsp chilli pdr
3/4 tsp coriander pdr
3/4 tsp cumin pdr
3/4 tsp garam masala

Clean and cut meat into small cubes. Rub a little turmeric pwdr to the meat and set aside.

In a shallow pan, heat 3-4 tsbs olive oil and add the whole garam masala. Next, add the chopped onions and fry till light pink/ slightly brown. Add ginger, garlic and sugar and fry for 2-3 minutes. When golden, add turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin and garam masala pwdrs and fry for 2 minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Finally, add chopped cilantro leaves and cook for additional 3-4 minutes.

Take the slow cooker pan and layer the bottom with the cubed meat. Sprinkle salt on top, and then add the onion mixture to the meat. Add kasoori methi to the meat and stir well. Add 3-4 cups of water for desired consistency (you may need to check water through the cooking process). The kasoori methi* is what gives this dish its unique taste, so definitely make the effort to buy it.

I cooked the meat on the high setting of the slow cooker for 2 hours and then on low for 2 hours. The curry turned out DELICIOUS, and we paired it with rice and yoghurt.

* Kasoori Methi: Kasoori methi are dried fenugreek leaves. They have a slightly bitter bite, and are typically sprinkled over meat, vegetable curries, and lentils before serving. It is also used to flavour dough for roti and nan.

13 September 2009

Healthy (!) Pistachio Olive Oil Brownies

Healthy brownies sure is an oxymoron, but these turned out delicious, light and very satisfying!

Recipe Source: Passionate About Baking

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/3 cup
Flour - 1/2 cup
Rolled Oats - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Eggs - 2 large
Sugar - 2/3 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
Pistachio nuts - 2/3 cup; chopped
Dark / bitter chocolate - 100gms (broken into pieces & melt in microwave).

The original recipe asks you to melt the chocolate and whish it together with the olive oil (set aside and cool). I did not have any dark chocolate available, so used cocoa powder instead. I used about 2 heaped tbsps and mixed it directly into the oil. Set aside.
Next, mix the flour, oats and salt together.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, thickened and billowy, about five minutes. Mix in the vanilla, the chocolate mixture, the flour mixture, and finally, the pistachio nuts. Stir to combine evenly.
Pour the mixture into a 8" baking pan which has been lightly greased and floured.
Bake for 20-24 minutes at 350F. I would recommend checking the brownies at about 20 minutes, since mine were done even faster than the originial recipe mentioned.

Cut into squares, and enjoy hot or cold!

Chocolate banana bread with walnuts

This is a fairly easy recipe and as you can see, more than half the loaf was gone between 5 people at the end of the evening. And it is an easy way to use up overripe bananas.

Source: Adapted from Kevin's recipe from one of those vintage cookbooks in binders that look like family heirlooms :) and borrowed wisdom from America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook.

Makes 1 loaf

2 very ripe bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cups choclate bits, shavings or small cubes - whatever is easiest to do
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs

Adjust oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 deg.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar together. In a seperate bowl mash bananas with yogurt and vanilla. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and butter together in a large bowl using a electric mixer on medium speed until mixed. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined.

Reduce the speed to low, slowly mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/3 of the banana mixture. Repeat until all is combined. Don't overmix - the batter will be chunky. Pour the batter into a well greased 9-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with choclate shavings and use a scrapper to smoothen the top. Sprinkle walnuts on the top.

Bake for about 55-60 mins until the golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

Dinner with the neighbors

Long overdue we met each other over good food and perfect wine. V prepared Pork vindaloo (He'll post that recipe soon) and I made cauliflower with turnips and banana bread to be had warm as dessert with ice cream.

Word of caution: vindaloo does taste better the next day and stuffing yourself with it before heading out to an outdoor art fair in 78 deg weather is not advisable.

Cauliflower with turnip
Serves 6

1 large cauliflower broken into bite sized florets - soak in water and drain to clean
1 medium sized turnip cubed into bite sized cubes - soak peeled and cubed turnips in salt water for 15 mins to remove bitterness
1 medium onion chopped
1 inch pieces of ginger minced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 - 1 tsp ground chilli pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lime
salt to taste

Steam the cauliflower florets and cubed turnips on low heat for about 20 mins. They should be slightly steamed and not completely cooked.

Heat oil and cook onions until they are dark purple to slightly brown. Add garlic, ginger, ground cumin and coriander. Cook until the spices are well incorporated and you can smell the garlic. I learnt a new trick with mincing ginger. I freeze peeled ginger root and used the grater to grate the ginger directly into the pot I am cooking. This minces the ginger quite effectively and the root stays fresh in the freezer for a while.

Back to the recipe - Add tomatoes, turmeric, chilli, lime juice and salt and cook for 7-10 mins. Add cauliflower and turnips with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover, lower the heat and cook until veggies are done.