Cook's Hideout: September 2010

September 24, 2010

Sneak into my Kitchen

I haven’t participated in a blog event in a very very long time. I intend to participate and a make a note about all the events I come across in a little diary, but hmm.. how do I say this.. I guess I never go back to check my notes and hence miss the event deadlines. My new resolution for the last quarter of the year (Can you believe we are almost at the end of ANOTHER year) is to make as many new dishes as I can and participate in as many blog events as I can. That reminds me of the large quantity of yeast that I have to consume before it expires, I better get baking..

Well this event doesn’t involve any cooking but I thought it is a good way to get back on blogging track. Nupur wants us to show our kitchens and if you want to show your kitchen head to her site and check out the details. So here’s a look into my kitchen: When we were looking for a house, our requirement was a kitchen with lots of storage and good counter space. One of the reasons we liked and bought this house was the kitchen, it had the storage we were looking for and the counter space we needed.

Our kitchen is a square with 2 “L” shaped counters on four sides. One “L” has the fridge, stove, sink and the dish washer. I keep a GB (garbage bowl—Rachel Ray’s lingo), oils, cutting boards and dish drainer (a tiny drainer for my little one’s stuff) on this counter.

The other “L” counter houses the breadbox, Ultra grind, corner shelf for snacks, potato & tomato bowls & the newest addition of my husband’s Coffee maker. This side of the kitchen is more for storage and less for active cooking.

I have quite a lot of pots and pans (I own 4 pressure cookers of different sizes); we used to have a pot rack in our previous apartment, but since I don’t have a place to hang, I stow them all in the pull out drawers. The drawers are quite wide and deep to hold lots of stuff.
My favorite spot however is this pull out corner cabinet where I put all my baking ingredients and extra spices.

I can be a little more organized and once in a while I get this urge to clean and I go on a cleaning spree. But I know where I keep my things and I think there’s a method to the madness and I totally love my kitchen. Thanks Nupur for hosting this no-cook event.

September 14, 2010

Arbi Curry (My favorite curry) & an Upcoming Review

After doing 2 reviews for CSN stores, the CSN Promo team selected me as a Preferred Blogger which means I get to review another product. As a new home buyer who shopped around for months looking for the right bedroom furniture, I know how important it is to find stuff at the right price. CSN has wide variety of cheap bedroom furniture and it is a One Stop Shop for everything you need for your bedroom. So watch out for the upcoming review.
We have a library right on our street, about 10 houses away and even though their timings are not very convenient during the week, I try to take some time out on Saturdays to take a walk and grab a book. Also one cool feature our county has is we can borrow books from any of the 75 libraries in the county and I’ve always managed to get various books from different libraries within 3-4 days.
My first book from our new library is Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries. It’s a big book with so many delicious dishes to try, but when I read this Arbi curry in peanut-garlic sauce, my mouth started watering right away. I know fried food is always yummy, but this dish just takes it another level.
Boiled arbi (colocassia) is dusted with besan (chickpea flour) and deep fried. Oh.. my.. these arbi pakodas are sooooo yummy. You can’t pay me enough to deep fry anything, but I can make any number of exceptions for this dish AND I deep fry on a weekday, now that is unheard of in our household. Also the peanut-garlic sauce is to DIE for, this dish is totally addictive—I promise. So people please get some arbi and start deep frying and make this incredibly delicious dish right away.

Arbi (colocassia) – 10-12 small
Besan – ¼ cup
Chili powder – 1tsp
Roasted Peanuts – 2tbsp
Garlic – 4 cloves
Coriander leaves – ¼ cup, chopped
Green chilies – 4
Salt – to taste

  • Pressure cook arbi until tender. When cool enough to peel and chop into 2” pieces. Alternately follow Raghavan’s method: Thoroughly wash arbi and peel and chop them into 2” pieces. Boil in water for about 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Mix chickpea flour, chili powder & salt, then add the arbi and toss around to coat them with the flour mixture. Deep fry until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  • Grind peanuts, coriander leaves, chilies & garlic cloves into a coarse paste. Raghavan suggests using a mortar & pestle to do this, I used my mini food processor instead.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a sauté pan; add the peanut mixture and sauté till lightly browned and garlic bits start sticking to the bottom.
  • Add 1 cup water and de-glaze the pan; next add the fried arbi and mix well to coat arbi with the thin gravy. Bring this to a boil; lower the heat and cook uncovered for 6-7 minutes or until the gravy sticks to the pieces.
Serve hot with steamed rice and sambar. (don’t forget to mix in some ghee—makes the meal heavenly).

September 05, 2010

Decadent Mango Kulfi

I thought this dessert with Mango is perfect to end Summer with (I used canned mango puree, so this can be made anytime of the year). I made this delicious & decadent dessert for my family who visited us recently. Recipe is extremely easy to make, but the end result is beyond words, super creamy & rich and the kulfi just melts in your mouth. Recipe is a combination of 2 recipes - Manjulaji’s Pistachio kulfi & Mansi’s Mango Kulfi.

Heavy cream – 2 cups
Whole milk – 2 cups
Mango puree – 1 cup (I used Kesar brand’s Alphonso mango puree)
Sugar – ½ - ¾ cup (depending on the sweetness of the mango puree)
White bread – 1 slice, cut into small pieces (I used whole wheat white bread and it worked out just fine)
Corn starch – 1tsp
Saffron – big pinch, mixed in 2tbsp of warm milk
Ground cardamom (Elaichi) – 1tsp

Scroll below to see why there's only half kulfi
  • Blend the bread with cornstarch and ½ cup of milk and set aside.
  • In a wide heavy bottom pan (non-stick is preferable), bring heavy cream and the remaining milk to a boil; make sure that you are stirring the milk frequently to avoid burning or scorching. Simmer on medium-high flame until the milk thickens from 3½ cups to about 2½ cups.
  • Lower the flame to medium and slowly stir in the corn starch-bread mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. According to Manjulaji this step prevents the formation of icicles in kulfi.
  • Next add sugar and mango puree. Let the mixture come to a slow simmer and cook for couple more minutes. Add elaichi & saffron; remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Pour into kulfi molds or into a glass dish. Freeze until set about 4 -6 hours or overnight.
  • When using a glass dish to freeze, make sure you cover it with a plastic wrap touching the kulfi to ovoid icicle formation on the surface.
  • To remove, simple place the molds/ glass dish in hot water for a minute and once the kulfi is out enjoy immediately.

Portion control for the little ones ;-)

For everyone in the U.S. enjoy your Labor Day weekend..

September 03, 2010

Grilled Naans with Tamatar Malai Rajma (Curried Kidney Beans)

Next up on my series of grilling dishes is Naans. Believe it or not grilled naans turned out to be quicker to make and extremely soft & delicious. When I tried making them on the stove or even in the oven, it takes the dough longer to cook through because of lower temperatures and the end result is usually a tougher naan. But as grill can get to a slightly higher temperatures than the regular oven and since the heat source is much more direct, naans cook faster and stay softer longer. I added 1 cup white whole wheat flour to make them slightly healthier.

All Purpose Flour – 2cups
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Yeast – 1tbsp
Yogurt – ½ cup
Baking Powder – 1tbsp
Sugar – 1tbsp
Salt – 2tsp
Oil – 2tbsp
  • Whisk flours, salt, baking powder, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add 1 cup luke warm water (around 110ºF—a few degrees up or down is completely OK), oil and yogurt. Mix until the ingredients come together into a ball (add more water or flour as needed).
  • Remove on to a floured surface and knead lightly until the dough is soft and smooth, about 5 minutes.
  • Lightly oil the bowl and slide the dough back; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1-2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.
  • Punch down and divide the dough into small balls depending on how big you want your naans. Place them on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 mins to 1 hour or until doubled in volume.
  • Next roll them out into a circle and slightly stretch or pull on the ends to form an oval shaped naan. Brush them lightly with oil and stack them until ready to grill.
  • Now to the easy part; grilling. Have the grill preheated and ready to roll: Place the oiled side down on the grill and let cook for about 1 minute. To get those beautiful grill marks, turn the naan at 45 degrees and grill again for 45 seconds. Oil the top side, turn it over, cover and grill for another 1-2 minutes. Remove and enjoy hot with your favorite curry.
We had our naans with Rajma/ Kidney Beans curry that I made from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries. It’s a very simple recipe with few ingredients but the way in which the tomatoes are cooked or “bhunao”(ed) makes the dish taste very complex-flavored and absolutely delicious. I realized I’m a rather restless cook and for some of the Indian dishes you really need to take time to get the flavors out of the ingredients.. Lesson learnt!! Coming to the recipe:

Recipe from 660 Curries.
Red Kidney Beans - 3 cups, cooked
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Ginger - 2" long, finely chopped
Cardamom pods - 2
Cinnamon sticks - 2 (3" long)
Bay leaves - 2
Tomato Paste - 3tbsp
Red chili powder - 1tsp (or more to taste)
Sweet paprika - 1tbsp
Ground coriander seeds - 2tsp
Ground cumin seeds - 1tsp
Turmeric - 1/4tsp
Fried Onion Paste - 1/4 cup**
Heavy (Whipping) Cream - 1/2cup
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Cilantro - for garnish
  • Heat 2tbsp ghee or oil in a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add the cardamom pods (elaichi), cinnamon and bay leaves and cook until they sizzle and are aromatic, 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Add ginger and garlic and fry to a golden-brown color, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup water and the tomato paste, red chili powder, paprika, salt, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and simmer until the water evaporated and a thin film of oil starts to form on the surface of the sauce, about 5 minutes.
  • Add another 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer the sauce, covered, stirring occasionally, until the water evaporates and the oil film reappears on the surface, about 5 minutes.
  • Repeat the addition and evaporation of water twice more to create a rich tasting, lush-red sauce.
  • Stir in the onion paste and simmer, covered for another 5 minutes.
  • Add kidney beans and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Uncover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce starts to thicken, 13-15 minutes.
  • Pour in the cream and add the garam masala. Cook until the cream is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.
** Fried Onion Paste (makes 3 cups):
Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a large saute pan. Add 2 pounds of thinly sliced red onions and cook them, stirring occasionally until they are caramel-brown with a deep purple hue, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Grind into a smooth paste once cool enough to handle. Stored in a tightly sealed container, this paste will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator or can be frozen into smaller batches for 2 months.

September 01, 2010

Grilled Pizza

So after having Burgers with home-made buns for our first veggie bbq, the next logical dish to make seemed to be Grilled pizzas. I found an awesome recipe for perfect grilled pizza on King Arthur’s site. This is my go-to website for all things baking, they have so many different recipes, some of which are guaranteed by KAF and I absolutely love their blog as they have step-by-step recipes of some very yummy bakes. If you don’t know about KAF, do check them out here.

Coming to the recipe, I made this recipe twice already and it’s been a big hit both times. Recipe is very easy to put together and the dough is very easy to handle as well. We made both thin & thick crust pizzas with the dough and both of them were excellent. My only addition is 2tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil to the dough.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
All purpose Flour – 2½ cups
Semolina flour – ¼ cup (I used fine Sooji from Indian store)
Whole-wheat flour – ¼ cup
Yeast – 1tbsp Salt – ¾tsp
Water – 1cup, luke warm @ 110ºF
EVOO – 2tbsp
  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in the salt, EVOO, semolina & whole wheat flour.
  • Gradually add in all-purpose flour until it forms a ball.
  • Remove from the bowl and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, for about 10 minutes.
  • Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  • Degas the dough after 2 hours and let rise again for another 40 minutes. Now, punch it down and divide into smaller pieces and roll into pizzas: We made 6 individual thin crust pizzas the first time and for our second attempt, we made 5 individual thick crust pizzas.
  • Heat the grill to medium hot; gently drape the rolled dough on the grill grate (either directly on the grill or you can buy a pizza grill topper) and grill for 1-2 minutes. This should be long enough to make it stiffer; brush EVOO on the grilled side and top with your favorite toppings. Grill for another 4-5 minutes until the toppings are hot and cheese is melted. Enjoy right away.
I think grilled pizzas are quick and easy to EAT and have an awesome smoky taste. My choice of toppings (pick all for a supreme loaded pizza or pick 1 or 2 toppings): Caramelized onions, Sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled veggies (like eggplant, red onion, peppers etc), tandoori paneer (paneer marinated in tandoor spices and grilled) and lots of cheese (of course). Enjoy!!


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