Cook's Hideout: November 2011

November 30, 2011

Scallions & Cheese Scones

It has been a long time since I took part in Nicole’s Taste & Create event and decided to sign up when Min @ Bad Girl's Kitchen asked for participants. For this month I got paired with Corina @ Searching for Spice.

Corina has a ton of great dishes from all over the world, but I narrowed down to these spicy and yummy looking Cheese scones with chili kick. I added some finely chopped green onions and used jack cheese with veggies. Also to make them a little healthy, I added some whole wheat pastry flour as well.

November 29, 2011

Herbed Tempeh Stew

We came to the end of yet another week long blogging marathon, as usual it went by pretty fast. I enjoyed making and eating all the “winter special” dishes and also the awesome dishes my fellow marathoners have cooked up this whole week. Thanks to Valli for organizing the marathon and I’m already looking forward to the next one. 

For the last day of the marathon, I made this hearty stew with tempeh, veggies and herbs. I bookmarked Vaishali's Savory Herbed Tempeh Stew recipe more than a year ago and finally got to make it for the marathon. Stews are thicker and heartier than soups. This recipe is thick, creamy and delicious -- a perfect winter meal. I let my stew simmer a little longer to make it thicker.

November 28, 2011

Gajar Halwa (Carrot Halwa)

For Day 6 of BM, I made the most widely made and liked dessert in India, Gajar Halwa aka Carrot Halwa. I read somewhere that carrot halwa is generally made in winters because the sweet carrots or gajar is widely available in winters. My MIL makes the best Carrot halwa and she makes hers with khoya, but I took the short cut and made mine with condensed milk. 

For best results, this dessert has to be cooked low and slow, on a low flame stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently at the end when the halwa is coming together. 

November 27, 2011

Ven Pongal & Gosthu

For Day 5 of BM# 10 under Winter Special theme, I have a very comforting and hearty combo, Ven Pongal & Gosthu. I'm sure these dishes are made all year round, but a hot bowl of pongal with the hearty vegetable & lentil curry just warms you up from within, making it a very special winter dish in my opinion. 
Ven Pongal
Recipe for Ven Pongal is adapted from Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin cookbook and I made Suganya's gosthu to go along with it. A perfect way to end a looong day of shopping. 
Ven Pongal

November 26, 2011

Thai Style Split Pea Soup

Bowl of hot soup is such a comforting meal on a chilly winter day. I'm not a big fan of soup, but this split pea soup is so hearty and delicious that I went back for seconds. Original recipe is from Culinate. To make it perfect for a weeknight dinner, I pressure cooked the split peas making it a perfect one-pot meal that can be made in less than 30 minutes. I also used ready made tom-yum paste that a dear friend gave me. But I have included the recipe for spice paste at the end.

November 25, 2011

Baked Manicotti

For Day 3 of BM, I made this hearty and comforting baked pasta dish. Turning on the oven makes the kitchen nice and toasty -- perfect for chilly winter nights, so you know where I spend most of my time in winters ;-). This is a stuffed pasta dish with creamy Swiss chard and ricotta filling smothered in spicy tomato sauce and topped with lots of cheese -- great to please a crowd.

Stuffing traditional manicotti/ canneloni pasta can be tricky since cooked pasta tubes are very delicate and have a tendency to tear. So to make life easy I used no-boil lasagna noodles, an idea borrowed from Cook's Country magazine. Filling recipe is adapted from Giada's Swiss Chard & Pea Manicotti. Here's how I made it.

November 24, 2011

Mooli Paratha

For Day 2 of BM# 10, I made some good old Indian style winter comfort food --- mooli paratha. These parathas are made with daikon radish which is generally available in the winter. My husband is not a big fan of mooli, so I followed Rak’s recipe to cook the mooli before stuffing in the paratha. Parathas turned out hearty and delicious, not stinky at all like my husband predicted.


November 23, 2011

Homemade Hot Chocolate

I can’t believe it’s end of November and we will be in a brand NEW year in little more than a month’s time. Time seems to fly with no worries, but here we are trying to play catch up with time. My space has been quiet for some time now due to a personal tragedy and I’m still struggling to pull myself together to do anything. But I thought Blogging marathon and hosting Kid’s Delight event will cheer me up and get me back into cooking and into the upcoming holiday mood. 

So here I am ready for another edition of Blogging marathon. Thanks to Valli for organizing 10 successful BMs this year. I picked “Winter Special Dishes” as my theme. Growing up in Southern India where the temperatures are mild to high throughout the year, dishes remain the same almost throughout the year. We use seasonally available produce, but the basic dish did not change dramatically. It’s only after coming to chilly northeast US that I realized the reason and need for making winter “special” dishes. Weather in winter makes me want to just curl up under a throw with a hot bowl of soup to warm up. 

These are the reasons I think what makes a dish “winter special”:
  • Warms you up from within when eaten, like a soup. 
  • Warms up the house when cooked/ baked, like a baked pasta dish etc. 
  • Use produce available in winter, like winter squashes etc. 
  • Since winter also means Holiday season, any dish that is rich and festive falls under this category too. 

November 15, 2011

Kid’s Delight Event Announcement – Deceptively Delicious

I am sure most of you would agree that you would prefer a healthy brownie with beets/ spinach in it instead of a bowl of salad greens. I know I definitely would. Brownie to me means rich, decadent and it does not matter if it is made with healthy ingredients and is completely raw. It’s the look and feel of the food that we are so used to that matter most. 

The same is true for kid’s foods. I’ll bet my son would rather eat that brownie without complaining than eat just beets & spinach as sides. So for this month’s Kid’s Delight event, I’m looking for dishes that are "deceptively" delicious. Make your kids’ favorite dish healthier by adding nutritious ingredients but still make it tasting good and looking delicious. 


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