Cook's Hideout: November 2006

November 14, 2006

Blogging Break

Guys.. I'm off to India for a short vacation (good things don't last long.. I wish they do.. but.. you know..) Will be back in 2 weeks.. I'm planning to participate in JFI-Jaggery from India (with my mom's help).
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.. Have fun..

PS: I was wondering what Indians would make if we were to celebrate Thanksgiving?? Will think about this on my way to India..

November 11, 2006

WBB# 7-Meatless Sausage Bake

Theme for this month's Weekend Breakfast Blogging# 7 (Brain child of Nandita of Saffron trail) is baking. Good thing is she did not limit it to just muffins and breakfast breads, event is open for savory and spicy bakes too. Here is my savory, but not so spicy Breakfast bake, that does not pack on too many pounds.
I saw the recipe in one of the old Reader's digest magazine and I happen to have all the ingredients on hand. Its quite filling and can be a perfect brunch item paired with a salad. The dish can be prepped the night before like sauteing the peppers and leaving frozen hash browns and patties in the fridge to thaw. Assemble the dish by mixing all the ingredients together and baking it in the morning for breakfast.
Frozen Hash Brown and Sausage Patties (thawing)


Red pepper - 1 medium, chopped
Green pepper - 1 medium, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Hash browns - 2 frozen patties (or grated potato), thawed and crumbled
Meatless Sausage patties - 4 frozen, thawed and crumble
Cheddar Cheese (reduced fat) - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 3
Egg whites - 3
Milk - 1/2 cup (low-fat or non-fat)
Garlic powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt and Pepper - to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan; saute peppers and onions till tender, about 7-10 minutes. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper and keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk in the eggs, milk, cheese, crumbled patties and hash browns & onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the mixture into a pie pan or baking dish and bake 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Breakfast bake with Toast

November 09, 2006

Veggie Pizza

Who doesn’t like Pizzas?? But my problem with store-bought pizzas is the amount of oil in the crust and the toppings (especially Costco pizza, you need about 5 paper towels to soak up oil in the topping). To eat more healthful, I started making pizzas at home, with store-bought crust (pizza base). These bases are fairly inexpensive (not more than $2 for one base) and all you have to do is top it and bake it.
I found this recipe online and it is very unique from any store-bought pizza. I had all the ingredients on hand. The pizza turned out to be yummy and with so many veggies.. it was guilt-free also.

Pizza crust – 1 (Store-bought or home-made)
Black beans – 1 cup (about ½ a 16 oz. can, drained and rinsed)
Carrots – 2/3 cup grated (2 medium)
Onion – 1 medium, thinly sliced
Zucchini – 1 medium, thinly sliced
Red pepper flakes – ¼ tsp
Part skim Mozzarella cheese (or reduced fat Italian cheese blend) – 2/3 cup

For the Sauce:
Sun-dried Tomatoes – 8 (oil-packed or dried)
Tomato paste – 1 tbsp
Tomato – 1 medium, peeled and chopped
Hot sauce – 1 tbsp (or to taste)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

  • To make the sauce: Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand 15 minutes; drain and chop (skip this step if using oil-packed tomatoes). Grind sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped tomato, hot sauce, salt and pepper into a smooth paste. You can add water or olive oil to thin out the sauce. I did not add water and my sauce was thicker than regular marinara sauce.
  • To make the pizza: Pre-heat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Place the crust on a baking sheet and spread with the tomato sauce.
  • Top with beans and carrots.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, sauté onions, zucchini and red pepper flakes for 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Arrange on the crust, sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
We had our pizza with green salad (I tossed in the left over beans, carrots with salad greens and pesto dressing). This is my entry to this week's ARF 5-A-Tuesday hosted by lovely Cate at Sweet nicks.

November 07, 2006

Pasta-e-Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup)

I love soups because 1. You can play around with the ingredients (use all those remaining lonely veggies) 2. Can be made in one pot (easy clean up) 3. They don’t need a lot of fat and are highly nutritious 4. They are super comforting on cold winter nights (just like now).

This recipe is from Vegetarian times magazine and it tastes great and is very filling. The recipe uses fennel bulb (not used traditionally in pasta-e-fagioli) which makes the soup sweet and licoricey.

Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Celery – 2 stalks, chopped
Carrots – 2 medium, chopped
Fennel bulb – 1 medium size, chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves
Chopped Tomatoes – 1 28 oz. can
Cannelini beans - 1 15oz. can, drained and rinsed
Small Pasta (Orzo, ditoli or elbow macaroni) – 8oz.
Bay leaves – 2
Red pepper flakes - 1/4 tsp
Low-sodium vegetable broth – 4 cups
Dried Oregano – 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper – to taste
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add fennel, onion and celery, and sauté 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.
  • Add, oregano and pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Stir in tomatoes and beans, and simmer 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
  • Add broth, salt and 21/2 cups water, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in pasta, and cook 10 minutes more or until pasta is tender.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

November 04, 2006

Spotlight on: Baking: From my Kitchen to Yours

Sara of Weekend Cookbook Challenge is hosting an event to promote a new cookbook; Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (published by Houghton Mifflin Company). Sara asked me to take part in this event and I can’t thank Sara enough for that.
I received a complimentary copy of the book by Dorie Greenspan from the publishers and as per Sara’s instructions I had to pick one or two recipes from the book, bake them and blog about them. Some of the pictures in the book (including the one on the cover) are quite intimidating for a novice baker like me, but Dorie’s clear and detailed instructions make baking these recipes a cakewalk. As I read the recipes, I felt Dorie's presence in my kitchen helping me through each of the recipe. Also all the recipes have additional information on serving, make ahead, storing and playing around tips.
Trying to decide which recipe to try first was a challenge and after leafing through the book for almost 20 times, I narrowed down my search to two. My husband being a chocoholic, my two choices were the Black-and-White chocolate cake and the Gooey Chocolate cakes. I ended up making the gooey chocolate cake and I can’t tell you how good they turned out and how my family was just raving about them for 2 days.
When I first tasted this cake about 3 years ago in Chilis (Molten chocolate cake on their dessert menu), I never thought I can make it at home. But this recipe can be made at home with foolproof results, even if you're not a star baker like me.
This recipe makes 6 small cakes and you will need 6 ramekins of same size, which even the author agrees is not possible. So the tip she gives is to use disposable foil muffin pans (that come 2 per pack) and they work great (you can wash and reuse them).

All-purpose flour – 1/3 cup
Unsweetened Cocoa powder – 3 tbsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Bittersweet chocolate – 5 ounces, (4 oz. coarsely chopped and 1 oz. finely chopped)
Butter – 1 stick, cut into 8 pieces
Eggs – 2 large eggs and 1 large yolk at room temperature
Sugar – 6 tbsp

  • Center the rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Butter (or spray)6 cups of regular-size muffin pans (or the disposable aluminum foil pan), dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
  • Sift flour, cocoa and salt together.
  • Set a heat proof bowl over a sauce of gently simmering water, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl, stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
  • Whisk eggs and the yolk in a large bowl until homogeneous. Add sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the dry ingredients and still using the whisk, stir (don't beat) them into the eggs. Little-by-little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.
  • Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool.
  • Unmold the cakes onto a silicon lined cutting board and serve warm.
Dorie suggests serving these cakes with something that plays off their warm, gooey, chocolaty interior (like ice cream/ creme angliase). We just loved them as is, right out of the oven. (Will play around next time :-)
Though these cakes are meant to eat warm and runny, any remaining cakes can be wrapped in a plastic wrap (after completely cooled) at room temperature. The next day the texture of the center of the cake will remind you of ganache. I strongly recommend doubling the recipe, so that people don't complain that they didn't enough of it.
I look forward to baking more of the recipes for the upcoming festive season.

November 01, 2006

Kofta Curry

This is my take on the rich, creamy and delicious Malai kofta. I didn’t want to deep fry the koftas and I used Giniann’s tip on baking the koftas. I used my toaster to bake the koftas, but they didn’t turn as brown I would like them to be, so I shallow fried them in little bit of oil to make them crispy and golden outside and creamy inside. Even though I ended up using more oil than I thought of using, it is way too less than the malai kofta’s from the neighborhood restaurant. Here’s the recipe.

For Koftas:
Potatoes – 2 medium, boiled, peeled and mashed
Grated Paneer - 1/4 cup
Corn flour – 2 tbsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste

For Gravy:
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Tomato paste - 3 tbsp
Garlic - 2 cloves
Ginger - 1"piece
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Light cream – ¼ cup
Salt – to taste
  • To make the koftas, mash all the ingredients together and make small uniform balls. You can either deep fry them or bake them in a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes. If they don’t turn as golden as you like, sauté them in 2 tbsp of oil and drain them on a paper towel.
  • Grind half of the chopped onion, garlic and ginger into a paste.
  • Saute the other half of the chopped onion in the oil, after they turn transparent, add the onion paste, turmeric and 1/2 cup water. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste, cumin and coriander powder, red chili powder and cook for another 10 minutes. Add water if the gravy looks too dry.
  • Add the cream, salt and koftas and simmer for a little while till the koftas are warmed through.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with plain or jeera rice or chapathis.


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