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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Japanese Yam "Fries"

Japanese Yam Fries


With its rich deep magenta skin and white-ish insides, the Japanese yam looks quite stunning when cut open. The mildly sweet flavor and potato-like texture makes it an ideal candidate for making fries. Rather than deep frying in oil, it can be oven baked or pan-fried.

This time, as it was a small batch, and my pan was just the right size, I went with shallow pan-frying.

Peel and cut the yam, immerse in water and par-cook in the microwave for about 4 minutes, drain and pat dry.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a cast-iron skillet, arrange the par-cooked yam pieces in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and chili powder, allow to sit and brown on one side.

Turn them over to brown the other sides as preferred.

Serve warm.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bitter Gourd Bean Bites

Bitter Gourd Bean Bites


Sometimes  recipes come about because I am trying to use up bits and pieces, odds and ends, from the fridge before it is beyond salvaging.

Bitter Gourd Bean Bites


About half a cup of slow-cooked spicy beans and one large bitter melon were ignoring each other in the fridge. So, I decided to bring them together in this dish.

Instead of the beans, can use any leftovers like ground meat or mashed potatoes or even herbed goat cheese and feta.

Ingredients
½ cup slow-cooked flavorful black beans or pinto beans
1 large bitter melon
1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate (sold as Sour Soup Mix in Asian stores)
1 Tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt to taste
2 Tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil or olive oil

Cilantro and toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Preparation:
  1. Cut the bitter melon lengthwise in half, scoop out the pulpy innards with seeds, chop into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle some salt and allow to sit on a towel to drain for about 10 minutes
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F
  3. Arrange the bitter melon pieces on a greases roasting pan; add a drop each of tamarind concentrate and adobo sauce chipotle; sprinkle some brown sugar and salt
  4. Bake in the 425°F oven for about 12 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, add a dollop of the bean-filling on each piece and cook for about another 4 to 5 minutes, turn off the oven
  6. Top with cheese if preferred and return it to the oven for the cheese to melt (with the oven off, the residual heat is enough to melt the cheese)
  7. Garnish and serve warm


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Friday, January 22, 2016

Japanese Yam, Green Papaya, Cauliflower Spicy Coconut Flour Kofta Balls

Japanese Yam coconut flour kofta chipotle


Unlike the supersweet sweet potatoes with orangish insides sold as "yams" in some grocery stores, the Japanese yam is mildly sweet with whitish insides, and has a flaky texture that somehow embodies both delicate and wholesome.


Japanese Yam coconut flour kofta chipotle


Kofta balls floating in spicy korma curries are quite a treat, especially with rice or naan. But, this time, I served these balls as an appetizer/snack with tomato chutney and cilantro-mint chutney.

Also, typically koftas are fried, but, these delicious goodies are baked.


Japanese Yam coconut flour kofta chipotle


One of my favorites to incorporate these days is the coconut flour, so, sure enough these kofta balls have coconut flour as well.

Ingredients
1½ cups combined, of grated Japanese yam, green papaya, cauliflower
2 chipote in adobo sauce chopped finely
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup chickpea flour
salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
vegetable oil for spraying

Preparation
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 430 ° F
  2. Combine the grated Japanese yams, green papaya, and cauliflower, and all the other ingredients and knead to a moist dough that can be shaped into balls. (Since grated veggies have enough water, I don't usually add water unless the dough gets too stiff)
  3. Spray a roasting pan with oil, arrange the balls, spray oil on top as well and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes till outsides are crispy and insides are moist and well done, not too raw and doughy
  4. Serve with dips and chutneys. Or, throw it in simmering pot of curry and serve immediately.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sweet Potato and Coconut Flour Flax Meal Roti Flatbreads

sweet potato roti coconut flour


Considering the amazing properties of sweet potato, it is hard not to incorporate it more in our diets.

While roast sweet potatoes in dessert-ish form is relished by kids, I wanted to leverage its natural sweetness to make everyday foods a bit more colorful and appealing.

Coconut flour is another ingredient that adds a bit of sweetness and flavor to everyday items.

Since fusion cuisine is my forte, my signature of sorts, this dish came about quite naturally one day.

Sweet potatoes, coconut flour, chickpea flour, and all purpose flour come together with chipotle in adobo sauce, and fenugreek leaves to make this incredibly orange and incredibly tasty rotis -- flatbreads cooked on the griddle pan. I'd have preferred to use whole wheat instead of all purpose flour, but I was all out, so, maybe next time...

Ingredients
1 average sweet potato, cooked and peeled
⅓ cup coconut flour
⅓ cup chickpea flour (aka besan)
1⅓ cup all purpose flour (more or less)
2 Tablespoon flax meal
salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 Tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
2 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped finely

a few tablespoons of oil for griddle-cooking the rotis

Preparation
  1. Since sweet potato is cooked to mush, not much water is needed at first. Simply combine all the ingredients and knead to a smooth elastic dough, adding the all purpose flour a little at a time as needed. 
  2. Divide the dough into golf-ball-sized balls; roll each ball flat to about 2 millimeters thick rotis
  3. Heat a griddle much like for pancake, and cook the rotis till done 
  4. Serve with any of the curries or chutneys. here I serve it with my favorite carrot salad.
Carrot Salad: Grate carrots, finely slice celery, finely chop green chilies, finely chop cilantro, combine it all with a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt, serve fresh.





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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pea Tips with Papaya


Pea Tips with Papaya


It was too hard to resist a pack of pea tips at the Asian store. In the thick of winter here, with gloomy skies and pouring rain, it seemed like pea tips hold the promise of Spring.

Simply saute the pea tips in olive oil, with salt to taste. Stir in julienned green papaya, carrots, and celery. Optionally, add crushed garlic while sauteing. Maybe a few turns of the peppermill, if preferred.

Enjoy as-is or serve with warm brown rice or wild rice or just good ol' jasmine rice.

Christmas season has been very low key and relaxed, as always. Some banana breads and cookies got made. Staples like soups and stews and casseroles keep us well fed around this time of the year.

No new recipes came about in the last few weeks, hence not many posts, but plenty of innovative cooking happened thanks to minimal essentials in the pantry as juggling grocery shopping with good weather conditions proved a bit challenging.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lumaconi with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Kale and Chard



Large snail shell lumaconi is wonderful to stuff with favorite filling and serve warm or at room temperature. Sometimes, leftovers become the filling. This time, some pesto with Greek yogurt and sauteed chopped spinach came together to make the filling. Served with roasted sweet potatoes and beets, this was a sumptuous meal one weeknight.



Now that it is cold and rainy, the last of the kale and chard from the garden were waiting to be used up. Am told they'll manage winter fine and keep yielding, but they seem quite sparse now.



Saute some kale, chard, garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt, then add a splash of lemon juice and set aside. Roast the sweet potatoes and beets. Meanwhile cook the lumaconi to preferred doneness, drain, coat lightly in favorite vinaigrette.

Simply toss the roasted beets, sweet potatoes, sauteed kale and chard, with lumaconi and serve warm.


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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Thukpa Tibetan Noodle Soup



Soups are perfect for rainy autumn evenings, be it hearty and chunky or clear and brothy with just a hint of vegetables and noodles.

Thukpa, ubiquitous in the northern Himalayan regions, is a version of noodle soup that is always popular as it is easy to make and easy to enjoy.

Some wheat noodles and veggies come together in broth/stock, with ginger, garlic, red onion, cilantro, spring onions, carrots, spinach, and optionally chicken, simmered gently, with a touch of garam masala powder for flavor and heat.

Of course, the authentic recipes call for making wheat flour noodles as little dumplings in the soup, but I went with packaged ready-made noodles from the store... One of these days, I might try my hand at the wheat flour fresh dumpling-style noodles for Thukpa.


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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken with Vegetable Mash


Nothing extraordinary about this recipe, but I still wanted to share it here because it's one of my favorite ways to use up bits and pieces of veggies that are left over at the end of the week.

Half a zucchini, a small wedge of red cabbage, half a red onion, a bunch of celery bottoms, and half a bell pepper were waiting to be used. Simply chop them up, grind them into thick paste-like consistency, sauté to use as a starter for the curry.

Add this veggie-medley starter, some stock, cut chicken breasts, potatoes and carrots to the slow cooker and allow to simmer gently for 6 to 8 hours. Usually, I start this curry the previous night and serve it for dinner the following night.

Rub the chicken pieces with garam masala or curry powder before tossing into the slow cooker for an Indian style curry. Or rub it with achiote and adobo sauce with some cumin and oregano for a Mexican style dish. Adjust spices, herbs, seasoning to taste.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Millet and Lentil Stuffed Golden Danish Squash



I picked up a few Golden Danish/Acorn and Amber cup and Golden Kuri squashes at the farm market, hoping to make hearty roasted veggies and soups. But, the Golden Danish was perfect for stuffing and baking.




The Stuffing: 
Ingredients
1 cup millet
½ cup lentils
2½ cups stock or water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste



Preparation:
  1. Cook millet and lentils in the rice cooker, adding salt/seasonings as preferred, plus some olive oil; fluff with fork when done and keep handy
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and saute favorite veggies - onions, red cabbage, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, grated carrots, adding favorite seasoning - I used lemon pepper seasoning plus some garlic powder and parsley
  3. Stir in the cooked, fluffed millet+lentils and adjust seasoning to taste



The Baked Golden Danish:
  1. Wash and clean the skin of the squash, cut it in half, scoop out the pulp and seeds; slice off a thin portion of the squash on its curved side so it will sit flat for baking
  2. Lightly brush with olive oil, sprinkle some salt, and bake in a 400 °F oven for about 30 minutes, cut side down; then flip the halves so the cut side is up, and add a dab of butter to each half and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes; turn oven off
  3. Remove from oven, stuff each half with the millet+lentil filling, top with Pepperjack or Cheddar cheese, return the stuffed halves to the oven and bake for a few more minutes till cheese melts - the residual heat in the oven is plenty for this, even if the oven is off
  4. When ready to serve, top with feta and chopped spring onions, serve with a wedge of lemon

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poached Pears in Moscato and Port

Poached Pears in Moscato and Port


Poached pears with a dollop of ice cream is the older child's recent favorite dessert. Being a dessert-o-phile, she enjoys a variety of fruit pies and cobblers rather than cakes and cheesecakes and other decadent sweets. And, not being a dessert fan, I rarely make desserts unless there is an occasion to celebrate or the older child talks me into it.

Poached Pears in Moscato and Port


Nothing out-of-the-ordinary about these poached pears. I made one batch with super sweet Moscato wine and another batch with Port for the rich red color. And, when I thickened the Port sauce, I also mashed in some frozen strawberries that we had picked and saved earlier in summer.

Combine the wine, some water, sugar, vanilla in a sauce pan, place the peeled pears in it cover and simmer till pears are a bit tender yet firm. Remove the pears and continue to thicken the liquid in the saucepan to a syrup.

Drizzle warm syrup on the poached pears and serve with some vanilla ice cream.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Kohlrabi Eggplant and Lentils with Kale Basil Rice



The last of the Italian basil from the garden needed to be used up. So, the basil, plus a few Lacinato kale leaves from the garden came together for the delicious Basil Kale Rice.

The heady aroma of Italian basil, plus some coconut oil, along with kale makes this rich green rice a meal of its own, especially when topped with some toasted walnuts and black currants.

Here, I serve the Basil Kale Rice on the side, with the Kohlabi, Eggplants, and Lentils stew, slow-cooked with layers of flavors.

Ingredients for the Basil Kale Rice:
½ cup finely chopped basil leaves
1 cup finely chopped Lacinato kale leaves
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or any preferred oil)
2 cups cooked brown rice
salt/seasoning to taste

Preparation
Heat the oil in a pan, add the finely chopped basil and kale, sauté till aromatic, add some salt and seasoning; then stir in the cooked rice. That's it.



Ingredients for the Kohlrabi, Eggplant, Lentils Tagine/Stew:
½ cup green lentils, soaked
1 medium kohlrabi bulb, sliced
1 medium globe eggplant, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped chunky
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 green chilies, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 cups vegetable broth or water
a few threads of saffron, soaked in a few Tablespoons of warm water (optional)
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley or 2 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon each of marjoram, thyme, oregano
Juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve on the side
a few tablespoons of oil

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a pan, add the garlic, ginger, chilies, and onions, a pinch of salt and sauté
  2. Add the green lentils, broth or water, cover and allow the lentils to par-cook to medium doneness
  3. Then, add the kohlrabi slices, green bell peppers, the saffron water, if using, all the herbs and spices, a sprinkling of salt, cover and cook on medium-low heat till kohlrabi and lentils are done.
  4. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan and brown the eggplant slices, just till the outsides are golden brown
  5. Arrange the browned eggplant slices on top of the lentils and kohlrabi, cover and cook till eggplant is soft but not mushy
  6. Off heat, splash some lemon juice before serving


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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Roasted Amber Cup Squash with Israeli Ptitim

Roasted Amber Cup Squash with Israeli Ptitim


Unlike its giant cousin moghrabiah, which I cook on and off, Ptitim or Israeli Couscous, as it is labeled in the markets here, has become a staple in my kitchen. Especially because of quick cooking time in rice cooker: just 1:1 ptitim:stock, with some olive oil, herbs, and spices in the rice cooker and it is ready to eat.

I was fascinated by the variety of squashes at the farm and picked up quite a few, ambitiously determined to cook them over the autumn weekends before they start decomposing.

A couple of squashes and Cloud 9 eggplant, some kale, tomatoes and peppers from my garden made weekend cooking a lot more fun over late summer and early fall.


Roasted Amber Cup Squash with Israeli Ptitim


Having grown squash in my garden and finding it heartbreaking to see only a handful get pollinated and bear fruit while the other flowers simply ended up boosting my summer salads, I have a weakness for these beauties.

Roasted Amber Cup Squash with Israeli Ptitim


The Buttercup squash from my garden, as well as Sweetmeat squash, barely bore a couple despite me waking up early and meddling with the flowers to try to get them going some days.

Roasted Amber Cup Squash with Israeli Ptitim


Anyway, Amber cup squash has thin-ish edible skin, with a golden orange flesh that is on the sweet side. This time, I partially peeled the skin and cubed them for roasting.

Along with Japanese eggplant, red onions, and green bell peppers, the Amber cup squash was tossed in olive oil and roasted in a 450°F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.

A splash of lemon juice and olive oil, a dash of salt, and a pinch of pepper tossed with the cooked ptitim, topped with roasted Amber cup squash and onions and eggplant and bell peppers, and maybe some feta, makes a sumptuous Fall dinner.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cream of Kohlrabi Soup

Cream of Kohlrabi Soup


Some of the kohlrabi bulbs I brought home became baked kohlrabi kofta balls and oven-roasted kohlrabi "fries". And the remaining kohlrabi bulb became this easy-to-make-on-a-weeknight delicious Cream of Kohlrabi soup.

best kohlrabi recipe Cream of Kohlrabi Soup


I love the pressure cooker for cooking certain foods. While there are a lot of studies (and myths) floating about regarding loss of nutrients and picking up harmful chemicals in pressure cooking, one has to do one's own research and figure out what makes sense.

Making soups and cooking beans in pressure cooker is something I've made peace with a long time ago. When veggies are cooked in stock/liquid and the liquids are retained in the soup, I am satisfied that nutrient-loss is not alarming enough for me to reconsider at this time. The whooshing whistle of the pressure cooker annoys the kids, but, it is almost music to me. Almost.

Simply chop the onions, garlic, kohlrabi, chilies and pressure cook in vegetable broth with favorite herbs and seasoning. Then, puree it, right in the pressure cooker with a hand blender. Stir in some fat free sour cream or beaten Greek yogurt for a distinct flavor - allow to cool a bit before stirring this in so as not to curdle it. Or, if adventurous, can stir in heavy cream and grated cheeses, simmer gently to a thick consistency.

Ingredients
1 large kohlrabi bulb, cut into smaller chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 seeded jalapeño or Serrano chilies (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth
herbs and seasoning: thyme, parsley, marjoram, even shiso or other favorite herbs
salt to taste

For creaminess:
I've used any combination of grated white cheddar with cream cheese and a little bit of heavy cream
, maybe some thick Greek yogurt and sour cream beaten lightly, stirred in after cooling a bit....


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kohlrabi Greens with Golden Kuri Coconut Cream Soup

Kohlrabi Greens with Golden Kuri Coconut Cream Soup

I couldn't resist another giant bunch of Kohlrabi from the farm market for just under two dollars. The Kohlrabi greens along with some Golden Kuri squash from the farm went into a delicious coconut cream and coconut milk based mildly-spiced soup, with fresh lemon grass from my garden.

Kohlrabi Greens with Golden Kuri Coconut Cream Soup

The variety of Winter squashes available these days is astounding. My favorites tend to be medium-sized thin-skinned with orange flesh and sweet flavor-- not too huge as that will make chopping and cleaning a problem. Not a big fan of spaghetti squash or too-mild acorn squash, I go for meaty Kabocha, Golden/Red Kuri, Butter/Amber cup, Golden Danish, Delicata and such, which can be eaten with the skin on. Who can keep track of these fancy names each variety gets? Butternut squash is an all-time favorite, although I do get some help cutting and peeling it.




This is a simple soup, using thick rich coconut cream and coconut milk and Thai flavors, perfect for Autumn. Served with thin rice noodles, Thai cucumber salad, and deep-fried spring rolls, it is a huge feast for a relaxing weekend.

But, for a weeknight, just the soup would do, in all its hearty glory.

Kohlrabi Greens with Golden Kuri Coconut Cream Soup


Between the lemon grass in the garden and the citron leaves from the Myanmar store, Mingala International Market, I am addicted to Southeast Asian flavors.

Ingredients
3 cups chopped kohlrabi greens, stem and all
2 cups diced Golden Kuri squash, skin on
1 small Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
water or stock as needed
1 teaspoon coconut oil

For flavoring (pound in mortal+pestle):
some lemongrass leaves/stalk, chopped and ready for pounding
1 or 2 Thai green or red chilies
1 or 2 Kaffir lime leaves or citron leaves
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoon grated ginger

Preparation:

  1. Flavoring: Combine the ingredients in a mortal & pestle, and pound till thick paste comes together
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a pot, add the onions, flavoring, saute till aromatic
  3. Add the kohlrabi greens and kuri squash, stock, season with salt, cover and simmer till veggies are par-cooked 
  4. Add the coconut milk and simmer till veggies are done, stir some coconut cream if preferred
  5. Garnish with spring onions and cilantro and serve warm






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Friday, October 09, 2015

Kohlrabi Beet Spicy Chickpea Balls (Koftas) with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

kohlrabi kofta best kohlrabi recipe


Koftas are a favorite at home - can be made with anything essentially. Am partial to vegetable koftas. Typically koftas are fried balls and are served with spicy sauce, as a side for rice or roti or naan.

This time, I decided to baked the kohlrabi-beet koftas and serve them with cooling creamy yogurt sauce, garnished with fresh crisp veggies.

I was glad to incorporate chickpea flour, rice flour and oat bran into this recipe. These can be deep fried, if preferred.

Since kohlrabi and beets are full of water, I retain their juices and adjust the flours accordingly to get the dough into shape-able consistency.

Kohlrabi Beet Spicy Chickpea Balls (Koftas) with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce


These kohlrabi kofta balls make a good substitute for meatballs as they are fairly sturdy can can soak up the sauce without falling apart easily. So I throw them in marinara sauce and serve them with spaghetti sometimes. The cooked Kofta balls can be cooled a bit and then stored in the freezer. I've usually used the frozen koftas within a week.

When the ingredients list looks long and some of the items therein seem non-mainstream in some recipes, rather than walk away from the dish or possibly reject it for future attempts, I try to make an educated guess about substitutions and follow the recipe in spirit and see what turns up. Not that this is a complicated recipe or anything...


Ingredients

For the Kohlrabi Kofta Balls:
1 cup finely grated kohlrabi
½ cup finely grated beets
2 Tablespoon finely grated red onions
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoon cumin powder
2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
⅓ cup fine oat bran⅓ cup rice flour
½ cup chickpea flour
salt to taste
2 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil for the dough
plus oil for spraying or drizzling before baking

For the Creamy Yogurt Sauce:
½ cup plain thick Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon Tahini
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and crushed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dry dill weed
1 to 2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste

For Garnish:
baby English hothouse cucumbers, sliced
sweet cherry or grape tomatoes halved
small red radish, sliced
cilantro, chopped
spring onions and chives finely chopped


Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 420°F
  2. Kohlrabi Kofta: Combine all the ingredients to form a dough that can be shaped into balls 
  3. Arrange the 1.5 inch diameter balls in a roasting pan, drizzle or spray some oil
  4. Bake in the 420°F oven for about 25 to 35 minutes till cooked through; turn the balls halfway through to brown all sides
  5. Creamy Yogurt Sauce: Combine the sauce ingredients in a blender and whip to a smooth creamy consistency
  6. Serve the Kohlrabi Beet Koftas with Creamy Yogurt Sauce topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, cilantro, and spring onions

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Monday, October 05, 2015

Kohlrabi Oven Fries

best kohlrabi recipes fries baked roasted

Since Kohlrabi is juicy, it is not easy to make it into crispy fries. Perhaps dusting with flour and deep frying at the right temperature can get it close to home fries. But, I suspect it will still remain a bit soggy.

Anyway, I wasn't going to deep fry. So, I oven baked these kohlrabi sticks. Not quite thin as shoestrings, but not quite chunky as wedges. Adjust the cooking time for the size of the cut kohlrabi.

best kohlrabi recipes fries baked


With a mildly sweet flavor that is delicate, kohlrabi bulbs have quite the crunch when tender, almost like a crisp apple. I like to toss them in slaw and salads along with tart apples and baby red radishes.

roasted kohlrabi fries


The basic idea is not very different from roasting potatoes: Place in a roasting pan in a single layer, drizzle with oil or spray some oil, sprinkle salt, a dusting of brown sugar (for caramelization) and paprika. Bake in a 440°F oven for about 50 minutes depending on how thick-cut the "fries" are; flip halfway to brown all sides.

I let mine char a bit - I'd like to say 'on purpose' as burnt foods can bring out some delicious flavors if done right - but, sadly, I just ignored the timer's beep and let the fries sit in the oven too long after the oven was turned off.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Roasted Kabocha Squash, Chard, Kale, Quinoa Salad

Roasted Kabocha Squash, Chard, Kale, Quinoa Salad


Winter squashes are here. With its relatively thin-ish edible skin and sweet and soft flesh, Kabocha squash is a favorite with me. It cooks up fast - roasted or steamed - and needs very little to enhance or boost its flavor.

Caribbean squash and Kabocha squash were handy, plus the weather dipped to the 70s so that turning on the oven was not as self-destructive as it can be on the 100 degree days.

Slice the Kabocha, toss in some olive oil, sprinkle some salt if preferred and roast  in a 425°F oven for about 12 minutes. (Thicker slices might take a little longer).

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in stock (or water plus some salt) in a rice cooker. I prefer 1:1 quinoa:stock. When done, stir in some lemon juice and olive oil, if preferred.

A bunch of kale and chard from the home-garden came in handy to boost the salad. Simply saute them with a dash of salt and a splash of lemon juice.

When ready, toss the quinoa and chards+kale together, arrange roasted Kabocha on top and serve warm or at room temperature.

A simple salad for the sweet autumn days...

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Purple Yam Ube Kachori and Mushroom Poblano Pepper Savory Kachori


Purple Yam Ube Kachori

Kachoris are stuffed fried breads from India, usually with savory filling, served with chutneys. Mung beans, chick peas, peas and carrots, potatoes are some of the popular stuffing. They are perfect tea time snacks and are good travel bread, much like parathas and rotis.

I had some ube purple yams and wanted to try Ube Kachori. But, rather than make it savory, went with the natural sweetness of the yams enhanced by flavorful coconut flour.

Purple Yam Ube Kachori


A sack of coconut flour has been lending itself well to some of the recipes and am liking the results so far.

For the savory kachori, a mash-up of mushrooms, Poblano and Anaheim peppers came in handy.

I prefer the dough to be seasoned a bit with salt and spices, or brown sugar for the sweet kachoris, but, that's optional.

Purple Yam Ube Kachori


The trick is to fry at medium-low heat, and usually I find that I am not the best person to deep fry anything. However, these turned out all right.


Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup warm water (plus or minus a few Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon red chili powder (optional)
Salt to taste
oil for deep frying

Filling:
Sweetish:
1 teaspoon coconut oil 
1/8 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup steamed and mashed purple

Savory:
2 button mushrooms
1 Anaheim or Poblano pepper
1/4 shallot
1/2 inch piece ginger
1/8 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Preparation

  1. Dough: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the liquid a little at a time till a soft elastic dough forms; cover it and set it aside while getting the filling ready
  2. Sweet Filling: Steam the ube purple yams, mash them, add coconut flour and coconut oil to be able to shape them into smallish balls about 1.5 inches diameter
  3. Savory Filling: Finely mince the ingredients (except coconut flour and oil) and sautee it in coconut oil till rawness goes away; off heat stir in coconut flour and shape into 1.5 inch balls
  4. Heat the oil at medium low to about 350 ° F
  5. Divide the dough to make enough 2.5 inch diameter balls; flatten each ball in the palm while pressing the center to form a cup or a bowl shape; place a filling-ball and gather up the dough into a ball again with the filling enclosed; flatten this loaded dough ball with the side of the palm
  6. Deep fry in oil till golden brown all over, on both sides
  7. Serve warm with chutneys and dips



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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Purple Yam Ube Oven-Roasted Fries

Purple Yam Ube Oven-Roasted Fries


Filipino Purple Yams, Ube, promptly show up at the local Asian market during season every year. They have a gorgeous purple flesh and a delicately sweet taste, primarily used in desserts.

Purple Yam Ube Oven-Roasted Fries


Since I am not fond of desserts much, I went with a simple oven-roasted purple yam fries. Tossed in coconut oil with a dash of salt, single layer in a roasting pan, in a 425°F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. That's it. A perfect Autumn snack ready in no time.


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Friday, September 18, 2015

Caribbean Squash Coconut Cumin Koottu

Caribbean Squash Coconut Cumin Koottu


There are days when I barely make it home from work - not just the traffic, but the killing headache and associated nausea makes it all the more challenging to get home safely. Focused on deep breathing during the commute, all I can think of is getting home, hugging an ice pack and curling up on the sofa...

And on such days, just to make it fun for the kids, they get cereal or waffles or pancake puffs or something topsy-turvy for dinner - something that Papa can easily handle after his longer day at work.


I saw this West Indies/Caribbean Squash at the local market - it didn't have a specific name, so, not sure what it is called... Its taste and flesh reminded me of large sections of Matthanga, which along with Elavan made the delicious Olan, the best version, of course, being my mom's. I've always had a soft spot for Matthanga, it has a delicate sweet flavor, with a pumpkin-like soft texture when cooked.

Anyway, other than the fact that cutting and cleaning the squash is a pain, this is a simple dish that comes together quickly.

Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with naan, paratha or brown basmati rice.


Ingredients
3 cups of diced squash
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt to taste
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
cilantro for garnish

for the coconut paste:
¼ cup grated coconut
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
2 or 3 dry red chilies

Tempering:
½ teaspoon split urad dal
¼teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coconut oil
6 to 8 curry leaves, if handy

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the turmeric powder and the squash, some salt and water, cover and cook till squash is soft but not mushy, drain any excess water
  2. Meanwhile, grind the coconut paste ingredients together
  3. Stir in the coconut paste and the brown sugar, adjust salt to taste
  4. Tempering: heat the oil, add urad dal, when it turns golden brown add the mustard seeds; when mustard seeds pop, add curry leaves if using, turn off heat and pour over the squash curry

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Stuffed Snake Gourd with Coconut Flour and Chickpea Flour




Snake gourd has a distinctive taste and texture that I grew to love thanks to my mom's cooking. There are just two or three different ways in which she usually cooks it, almost always with coconut or with lentils or both.

The one issue I've always had with snake gourd is that it can be too mature and bitter if not picked when tender. Mature snake gourd tends to be woody and chewy, and not suitable for consumption.




This time, I was in the mood for stuffed snake gourd. Much like stuffed bitter gourd, it is easy enough to scoop out the pulpy innards and par-boil the snake gourd cylinders in some salted water.



The filling or stuffing was the tougher decision. Any old stuffing would be fine, like, seasoned ground meat, flavored brown rice and barley, Textured Vegetable Protein TVP, beans or lentils with quinoa and veggies... but, I wanted something different, something easy to make, yet flavorful. So, I turned to my newest obsession: Coconut Flour.





Chickpea flour and Coconut Flour stuffing:

Ingredients
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup chickpea flour
¼ cup finely diced onions
¼ cup finely dices tomatoes
¼ cup cooked chickpeas
salt to taste
2 Tablespoon coconut oil

Simply heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and tomatoes, saute a bit, then add the flours, keep the heat at low and stir continuously till the flours turn a light nutty brown, not too dark. Stir in the chickpeas and turn off heat. That's it.

The filling would be powdery flour mixture that might have a beady breadcrumb-ish texture, which will clump up nicely when packed tight. And that's what I was going for.



Fill the boiled snake gourd cylinders and bake them in a 425°F oven for about 15 minutes, with a touch of oil brushed on. Turn the stuffed snake gourd cylinders in the oven half way through cooking to brown on all sides.

Serve warm, garnished with spring onions and cilantro, drizzled with Lemongrass Flavored Coconut Milk Sauce as in the Stuffed Kohlrabi recipe.


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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Snake Gourd with Chickpeas and Coconut

Snake Gourd with Chickpeas and Coconut


Snake gourd, when cooked just right, has a wonderful blend of textures - a mild crunch from the skin and a mellow softness from the flesh.

Snake Gourd with Chickpeas and Coconut



No fanfare this time, just a simple coming together of flavors that mean comfort for me. Growing up primarily on Palakkad cuisine, coconut was ubiquitous, as was plenty of vegetables. So, I went with a touch of salt, turmeric, and dry red chilies, with the proteins coming from chickpeas. I could eat a plate of this whole and call it a sumptuous dinner.

Ingredients
1 large snake gourd, cleaned and sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas, seasoned
2 to 3 Tablespoon dry grated coconut
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
3 dry red chilies, broken into smaller pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
salt to taste
just enough water to immerse and cook the snake gourd

Preparation
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds; when the mustard seeds pop, add the dry red chilies, allow to toast a bit, then add the turmeric and snake gourd and saute a bit
  2. Season with salt, cover and allow to cook till snake gourd is tender but not mushy; drain any excess water
  3. Stir in the chickpeas and dry grated coconut, stir well, serve warm

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