Monday, February 19, 2007

Tuna-Potato Cutlets with Peanut-ginger sauce

My sister and I have very different food tastes. Shes an only-fish-eating-vegetarian and yours truly will try any animal- be it vegetarian or not ;) at least once. Barring starkly different diet preferences, pleading requests for our favorite school meal (our fifteen minute break around 11am can hardly be considered lunch), tuna-potato cutlets, were competitively fervent. We would eat this for dinner, in-school snack, after-school snack, lunch and then again dinner till all of it was gone! We might have even had them for breakfast, if our mom hadnt made a morning ritual of shoving eggs and corn flakes in HOT milk (YUCKY SHUDDER!) down our throat. There was no way we would trade these decadent pieces of kid heaven for pizza, cookies or ANYTHING, even if they did last till break.
Although, there are a zillion ways to appropriately dress a potato for Jihva, I couldnt think of a better recipe for my very first!

You will need:

For Cutlet:
3 potatoes (boiled/microwaved and peeled)
2 6oz cans solid tuna in water (drained)
1 onion chopped
4 green chillies chopped
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 cup cilantro chopped
2 tsp of cumin seeds (powdered)
2 tsp of corriander seeds (powdered)
2 eggs (well beaten)
2 cups breadcrumbs
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp vegetable oil

For Peanut-ginger sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted, unbleached peanut butter
1/4 cup chopped ginger
3 red chillies
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt (or to taste)


Peanut sauce:
Blend all ingredients together till mixture becomes pourable.

In a medium sauce pan, fry tuna, onions and ginger-garlic paste in 1 tbsp of oil till golden brown. Add cumin and corriander powders. Add potatoes and mash into the tuna. Mix on heat for about 5 minutes. The potato-fish mixture should be of "workable" consistency, ie, you should be able to make homogenous balls that dont crumble. If the mixture seems a crumbly and like it wouldnt hold together, add water till it assumes appropriate consistency. Add cilantro, mix and cool mixture. Once the mixture is cool, make oblong (about 4 cm long and 3 cm wide) balls (cutlet) and press gently to slighly flatten. Dip each cutlet into beaten egg and cover with breadcrumbs. Shallow fry in remaning oil till golden brown. Serve warm with peanut ginger sauce

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chocolate mousse and Valentine's Day

The past February the 14th was our first Valentine's day. My husband is not romantic and meself is jaded into a cynic. Nonetheless, our being hitched for life warranted a semi-brokeworthy splurge into this oh so commercialized celebration. Hubby got me a basket full of flowers, chocolate and a diamond studded ring, all handed over at my work parking lot in the romantic confines of his car (swooooooon!). Later, he fixed us a fancy dinner- Greek Flank Steak, chicken kebabs, baked potatoes and olive bread and we spent the rest of the evening sprawled on the couch eating dessert and watching back to back episodes of Law and Order SVU. Just my idea of perfect! Dessert was this liquor-infused, classic Valentine - Chocolate mousse layered with coffee-raspberry liquor soaked cake and strawberries. If the name isnt enough to take your breath away, just try it...

For Chocolate Mousse:

1 cup of chocolate chips (I used well chopped Ghirardelli 100% cocoa chocolate bar)
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream

For liquored cake layers
4 slices store bought butter pound cake
2 tbsps raspberry liquor
2 tbsps coffee liquor

1 cup sliced strawberries


Place chocolate chips, egg and vanilla in blender and chop. Heat cream until hot and small bubbles appear on the side (don't boil). With blender running pour in hot cream. Blend until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Just prior to serving pour raspberry liquor over 2 slices of pound cake and coffee liquor over remaining cake slices.

Layer cake, strawberries and chilled mousse in alternating layers in tall glasses. Serve.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Orange bowknots

We got this recipe book from B&N the other day, and it has to be the coolest ever! Its a compilation of Better Home and Garden's Test Kitchen Favorites from the '30s-'90s, with excerpts and write ups from every decade. I've been dreaming of trying the recipe for "feather-light Orange Bowknots-you'll be voted best cook in town" ever since I laid eyes on it. The only catch was that I've never baked bread or rolls before, and remembering what a process it was for my mom...I didn't look forward to it. But the method seemed easy enough and I took my time with everything making sure I stuck to instructions to the T (making slight modifications of course). Ohhhhh and were they perfect- everything I hoped for (unlike most candidates of the male gender-hmph). Mildly citrusy and melt-in-the-mouth softness...purrrrfect! If you are the kind of person who fills up with dinner rolls before the main course, you are sure to love these beauties.

You will need:

5 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 package active yeast
1 1/4 cups milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup butter, margarine of shortening (I used Land O' Lakes Light butter)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsps finely shredded orange peel
1/4 cup orange juice

For orange icing:

1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
1 1/2 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp orange peel

In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups of flour and the yeast; set aside. In a saucepan heat and stir the milk, butter, sugar and salt till the butter almost melts. Add to flour along with the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the shredded orange peel, orange juice, and as much of the remaining flour as you can (3 cups for me).

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (10 minutes). Shape dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of dough. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 hour).

Punch down dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cover baking sheets with aluminium wrap and grease lightly; set aside.

Roll each half of dough into a 12 X 7 inch rectangle. Cut each rectange into twelve 7 inch long strips. Tie each strip into a loose knot. Place knots 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (30 minutes).

Bake in a 400F over for 12 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove from baking sheets. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle with Orange Icing. Makes 24.

For Orange icing:

Ina small bowl stir together sugar, peel and juice to make icing for drizzle consistency.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Buckwheat Crepes with Maple Syrup Bananas

I'm not a night person for that matter I dont even think I'm a morning person, I'm just a sleep person. Let me sleep from 8pm to 11am and I'll still have trouble waking up. Ergo, any and every incentive I get to rise and shine, I will take. A delicious breakfast usually goes a long way, the smell of dosas on the griddle, sambar and chutney, coffee... for more reasons than one it has to be my favorite meal, period. That's why The perfect start to your day Brunch by Simone Lloyd was a must buy. Having a ton of bananas and buckwheat flour lying around, I thought of trying out this recipe, and man oh man, was this yummy! The slight crunch and coarseness of the crepes beautifully complemented warm, sweet, mushy and slightly tangy bananas (and I don't even like the fruit!). This was as great a morning buzz as I could ever want.

You will need
1/3 heaped cup of buckwheat flour
1/3 heaped cup of all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp margarine
For maple syrup bananas
3tbsp margarine
3tbsp maple syrup
2 bananas thickly sliced diagonally
Sift both types of flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg, milk and water. Using a whisk, gradually mix the flour into the liquid ingredients, whisking well to get rid of any lumps, until you have a smooth batter.
Melt 2 tbsp of margarine in a small pan and stir into batter. Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.
Melt half of the remaining margarine in medium sized skillet. When skillet is hot, pour in enough batter to make a thin crepe (I used one rounded spoonful), swirling the skillet to make an even layer.
Cook one side until lightly browned, then using a spatula, turn over and cook the other side. Slide onto a warmed plate and cover with foil while you cook the remaining crepes, adding more margarine when needed.
Maple Syrup bananas
In a small saucepan, melt margarine and pour in maple syrup. Soon after, add bananas and cook for about 5 minutes or until the bananas have just softened and sauce has caramelized. To serve, fold crepes in half and then top with bananas.
Melt a little margarine

Grandma's weekend Egg Special

A quick glance at caller id.

Me: Hi ma!
Mamma: Hi baby, how are you?
Me: Good ma, what are you doing?
Mm: I'm at work, just going for lunch.
Me: mmm...what's for lunch?
Mm: I made grandma's egg curry, pappu (lentil gravy) and rice.
Me: Wow! Ma I want some!!
Mm: It's so easy. Just fry 2 big onions and chillies (about 2 slit lengthwise). When onions carmelize add tomato and karam (chilli powder), one tomato for 2 onions. When tomatoes are cooked and you see oil seperating, add boiled eggs, you know, with slits on the sides. Mix well, but be careful with the eggs. In the end add 2-3 more chillies (slit), chopped kothimir (cilantro), and curry leaves. Make some rice in the cooker and eat hot hot.
Me: Oooo. I'll make it as soon as I get home! I'll tell you how it goes.
Mm: Ok baby, I have to go, I'll talk to you later.
Me: Ok ma, bye!


It's sad the number of posts I throw away because the pictures don't turn out right. In spite of faulty pixels I have to share the recipe for Pappu (Telugu)/Parappu (Tamil)/Dal (Hindi)/Lentil gravy. It is a staple in Indian households irrespective of economic stratification. And for me nothing satiates better than a nice bowl of rice drowning in pappu, with a small mound of pickle or in this case, egg curry. I use my dad's recipe which is different from the traditional in that it has no turmeric or chilli powder but does have a touch of ginger-garlic paste lending a beautiful aroma.

You will need:

1/2 cup of onions (sliced)
1/2 cup of tomatoes (chopped)
1 cup of masoor dal (or any thin disc shaped lentil would do)
6 cups of water
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp each of cumin and mustard seeds (for tempering)
A few curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp vegetable oil
Boil or pressure cook lentil, onion, tomato, ginger-garlic paste with water till lentil is soft and mushy. If using a pressure cooker, cook sealed for about 20 minutes on medium high heat.
In a shallow pan heat oil and add cumin and mustard seeds. Wait till mustard seeds start and stop spluttering. Add curry leaves to pan. Add this "tempering" mixture to cooked lentils. Serve hot with rice or chapatis.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Radiotoni (pasta) tossed with Beef and Red pepper

Hidden under a shroud of modesty or just plain lethargy are my husbands excellent cooking skills. His steak meal, courtesy our humble backyard grill, could put the best of the best to shame. In less than a mere 40 minutes he can put together a couple of perfectly seasoned NY strips (medium well- just the way I like 'em), crusty fluff centered baked potatoes, grilled vegetables, garlic toast AND do the dishes. Yeah, the man is definitely culinarily adept. But he doesnt do it often enough, and when he does he doesnt wait to be asked. This recipe is the outcome of one such event. I was working in the study when I heard all sorts of clanking in the kitchen and on checking, saw pasta in a pot of boiling water and hubby completely absorbed in mashing something in a metal bowl. He has had no formal training in cooking and doubt (very unlike moi) has ever watched a single Food Network show, so his techniques and methods are unique but I can vouch that the outcomes are consistently YUM. If only I can convince him to do it more often :).
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Radiotoni tossed with Beef and Red pepper Ala Selvin!

You will need:
1 lb Radiotoni (or any other non stringy pasta)
1 lb extra lean ground beef (can substitute with turkey)
1 tomato chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1-2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 tsp Lawry's garlic pepper seasoning
1 jar Trader Joe's pasta sauce
Olive oil about 2 tbsp.

-Boil water and cook pasta as per box directions. Ours took almost 25 minutes to cook to dente.
-Meanwhile, mix ground beef with garlic pepper well and let stand for 5 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes to beef mixture.
-Heat medium nonstick saucepan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and cook beef-tomato mixture. Add garlic and salt to taste. When the meat is no longer pink add pasta sauce and let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.
-While this is happening, drain pasta making sure it is cooked.
-In a seperate pan sautee red pepper with olive oil till soft and cooked.
-Add pasta and cooked red pepper to beef-tomato sauce. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil and mix together. Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Top 3 Pet Peeves

3. English words in a Tamil song: When will my people realize that English rap and hip hop are best left out of Indian songs. The "yo-yo" and "whatzzup" dont have the same American street slang effect when sung in an accent soaked like a Vada in Sambar. For instance, in one of the new chartbusters is the word, Mobile made to sound like mo-bbiile-ahh. Further wince worthy is the current experimentation of interspersing Tamil with Spanish lyrics-- as if English wasnt bad enough!! Definitely NOT music to my ears.

2. Public Smoking: This has to be the most disgusting personal habit ever. Smoking in the privacy of ones home is fine, but NOT in already claustrophobic public shacks. Uncontrolled drinking or drugs pale in comparison if not for anything else but for their lack of being more dangerous, passively. I can't think of any other compulsion that is more deterimental for those NOT involved... other than ...maybe spitting (how did I come up with this, lets just say, my cousins and I were very much feared). But of course, this isn't socially acceptable and people are not given allowances of their work time for a nice relaxing spew-- then why for smoke??

1. Idiot drivers in Phoenix, Arizona: I hate these people with a vengeance. They're the most rude, ungrateful, cranky, slowpoke pains in all the wrong places on the face of the planet. People don't thank you for letting them in front of you, they hog roads driving side by side at 15 mph on a 45 mph limit road, they dangerously cut you off and drive at 15 mph in FRONT of you, they drive speaking on their cellphones with their head cocked 90 degrees to the side, they have to FACE their passenger when talking to them, they drive beat up trucks with all sorts of random crap flying out and sometimes on the very rare occassion (much to the relief other road occupants) the pickup will move at the 45 mph speed limit, a fact that the kids hanging from the sides of the open back don't seem to appreciate too much.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Donut fritters

Its Saturday evening. Hubby and I are driving around, running random errands at the same time recuperating from the events of our respective schedules. He from a busy day at work and myself, like a good docile desi wife, housecleaning. And then, as if a test of endurance, Fate lodged a nail snug in the warm comfort of our car's front right tire which we notice in the Indian store's micro parking lot. Ever so optimistic hubby, assures me that it is only a 15 minute impediment, but adding the reality multiplicative factor turned it to almost an hour plus semi-chilly weather. Not letting this minor hitch deter us, we completed ALL our chores for the day EXCEPT my favorite, dinner. It was almost 9.30pm and we were starving, so with little thought our resolve of eating a healthy home cooked meal was flung out the window.

Comfortably seated at the local TGIF, waiting on our food, we browsed through the dessert menu. And what do we have here... donuts! Not the glazed ones, not the jammy ones, not even my favorite custard filled Boston cream. Just plain cake donuts, the kind (I soon found out) both our mom's used to make growing up. Theres something strangely comforting in the thought that hubby and I share nostalgia inspite of growing up on opposite ends of the globe! Bonding over food is beautiful as bonding gets...famous words, will be surprised if I don't kill myself overeating at this rate. Anyhow, the next day, I just had to try my hand at donuts. Of course I don't have the 3 hours my mom would take, on a good Sunday I might have one sixth of that! So, I hunted and found a fritter recipe that I saw Giada once make--Zeppole. Now , this is nothing like the real deal but with sufficient manipulation, a dash of nutmeg and a sprinkle of sugar, it was a soft, mushy and more importantly hasty mamma's-donut-craving-satiator!

You will need:

1 stick of butter
3 tbsps of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of flour
4 eggs
2 tsps of powdered nutmeg
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Sugar for sprinkling over fritters
Oil for deep frying


Bring butter, 3 tbsps of sugar and water to boil in a saucepan on medium heat. Remove from heat and add flour. Mix till a ball is formed, if this doesn't happen bring heat saucepan till a ball is formed. Transform this dough ball into a bowl, add one egg at a time and mix till completely incorporated into the dough (now slowly becoming batter). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready to fry.
In a seperate pan heat oil in medium heat. Oil is ready when the tiniest bit of batter dropped in rises to the top. Once warmed up, drop spoonfuls of batter into oil. Turn over fritters once or twice till golden brown. Remove fritters, drain out excess oil and sprinkle with sugar while still warm. Serve immediately.