Simple Sauteed Broccoli Raab with Red Chili Flakes

Simple Sauteed Broccoli Raab The evening light fades significantly earlier, leaving me practically no time to document the activities of a fading garden.  Yes, it is the time of the year, when the garden is singing its final notes, a weak chorus of greens – mustard, spinach and dandelion to name a few. We have lots of peppers bell and hot varieties and some bits and pieces of eggplants and even got a spontaneous batch of okra. A few loose tomatoes keep the sauces flowing.

It is that time of the year when the cat seems to want to stay indoors rather than run around chasing mice and other neighborhood creatures.

The following couple of weeks see the face of a few important projects at work and at home. So, at home, I am tackling a serious bit of organizing the pantry.

If the MIL heard, she would heave a sigh of relief. Her closets and pantry is always impeccable. Some of it reflects her rather neat and fastidious housekeeping and some of it does reflect the just in time ways of shopping in India.

We do have enough stores around for everyday, but I like to make a quarterly trip to Patel Brothers to stock up on big items. I am realizing that all of this however, does need a better inventory control system.

Broccoli Raab

Speaking of greens, one of my all time favorite bitter greens is Broccoli Raab. We have just begun harvesting them this year. A cool and bitter green, they remind me of fresh fenugreek. Broccoli Raab or rapini does not have the bitter sweet maple like scent of fenugreek but works well in a lot of recipes as a substitute. Freshly harvested, I cooked them very simply and we enjoyed them straight from the pan.

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Even as I look out of my window, I see leaves, colors and something a lot like Halloween.  I realize that we should have celebrated Halloween this family dinner, and in case you are wondering what family dinner is, stay tuned and someday I shall tell you all about it.

Simple Sauteed Broccoli Raab with Red Chili Flakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 3 servings

A lovely rendition of broccoli rabe with golden onions, a hint of spice and sweetness and some coconut milk to round it off.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3 pods of garlic, minced
  • 3 medium sized cipollini onions, finely chopped or 1 medium sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped broccoli rabe/rapini finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 11/2 tablespoons coconut milk (optional)
  • Lots of crushed red pepper flakes to finish

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about a minute.
  2. Add the black mustard seeds and wait for the seeds to crackle.
  3. Add in the minced garlic and cook for a minute until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  4. Add in the onion and cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the onion is beginning to turn golden brown.
  5. Add in the rapini an mix well.
  6. Add in the sugar, salt and the coconut milk if using and cook for a minute or two.
  7. Add in plenty of crushed red pepper flakes and serve immediately.
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Tomato Rice with South Indian Seasonings

Tomato RiceThis week saw a birthday- another year of life happily completed. It was not a very eventful milestone, but peace is sometimes the best medicine. Based on various events around the home and at work, it is turning out to be a birthday week, rather than a birth day and I will take all seven days and then some. I was rewarded with a surprise visit from my brother and I got to meet my cousin’s fiance.  Somewhere, along the middle of last week, we had a weeknight guest and among the dishes on the table, was this tomato rice dish that I had picked up from Anju’s Mysorean table.

My birthday treat to myself was to sleep in, two days in a row. I am weird that way, but I love and treasure my sleep. Nothing makes me happier than a nice nine hour rest, especially, during soccer season, when it seems like I spend more time on the weekends driving the kids around than anything else. I have to confess, the past few months have also taken a lot of my free time, coordinating events and book related stuff. I have enjoyed the events and have been delighted at the response that my cookbook has received, but it has come at the cost of some more free time being eked out of my already packed routine.

Now, back to the rice dish, bhaath is the Indian word for rice in many parts of India, it certainly is called bhaat in Bengali, but my friend Anju refers to vegetable based rice dishes as bhaat, essentially eggplant rice as Vaangi Bhaat and this tomato rice dish as tomato bhaat. What makes these rice dishes different from the North Indian varieties is their simpler earthier flavors and stronger spices. They do not necessarily contain a surfiet of fancy items like fried onions or saffron, but rather are a simple combination of fresh vegetables, rice and earthy seasonings all coming together in a great one pot dish, or sometimes just an addition to the table of other items.

Traditionally, a shorter grain rice might be preffered for this dish, I have however adapted it with basmati, with fewer spices and some peanuts for crunch and protien to make it work on my table as a one-dish meal. I love to make this a few time during fall, when we still have tomatoes trickling in, an abundance of herbs in the garden and colors all round.  It is indeed a beautiful time of the year! Every week of the year, I wonder whether it will be the week we close the garden down, and every Monday is often like a new gift of unexpected bounty, still will some greens, loose squashes, lively brocolli, green peppers and the handful of tomatoes we have a crop that continues to sustain us.

Tomato Rice with South Indian Seasoning

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A simple well flavored and colorful one-dish vegetarian meal that marries tomatoes with the seasonings of Southern Indian.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 2 - 3 cloves
  • 1 2-inch stick cinnamon, broken
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 3 diced tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (optional, if not using you can increase the amount of water in this dish)
  • 13/4 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup raw blanced peanuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced mint

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan for about 30 minutes and add in the mustard seeds and wait until the seeds crackle.
  2. Quickly add in the cumin, asafetida and the ginger.
  3. Add in the green cardamoms, cloves and the cinnamon stick and stir well.
  4. Add in the curry leaves and the diced tomatoes and mix well.
  5. Stir in the salt and the turmeric and continue cooking the mixture stirring gently for 3 to 4 minutes until the tomatoes soften and begin to turn saucy.
  6. Gently add in the rice and stir well.
  7. Add in the coconut milk (if using) and the water and bring to a gently simmer.
  8. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes.
  9. While the rice is cooking gently toast the peanuts until the peanuts turn a few shades darker and is aromatic. We tend to like a few darker brown spots while toasting but this needs to be done carefully as it is easy to burn the nuts.
  10. Remove the cover from the rice, you should have large fragrant reddish golden grains. Turn off the heat and stir in the peanuts and the cilantro and mint.
  11. Leave the rice covered for another 10 minutes before serving, this allows the moisture to get absorbed and the grains to swell into regal and separate perfection.
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There are plenty of possibilities with this dish, you can add in green peas or even green beans, chopped cashew nuts along with the peanuts and of course if you are so inclined a few thyme leaves to join the herb party.

 

Tomato

Looking at these tomatoes, I still feel the few we are recieving are vivid and colorful with the fresh scent of freshness. Hopefully they will last a few more weeks to allow me to savor the flavors of the garden and enjoy nourishing tomato and red pepper soup.

 

Alu Kopir Chechki – Curried Soft Potatoes and Cauliflower



Alu Kopir Chechi - Curried Bengali Potatoes and CauliflowerWe have had a stunning fall thus far, and I have been enjoying this beautiful season, immensely. Fall, is my most favorite time of the year – the colors, the fresh air and the general festiveness, all seem to call my name.

There are however, two weeks in this seasons where there are shadows that slightly overcast, my overall joyous spirit.

The two weeks of Navaratri or Durga Puja. Commencing with Mahalaya, we Bengalis revel in a ten day celebration of Durga Puja, which is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chanukah combined in its intensity and festivity. I am not exaggerating on this one. I LOVE Thanksgiving, in fact, that is what gets me back into the groove, but, it is not the kind of show stopper Durga Puja is.

There is very little, happening around here, that brings home the spirit of the last minute hustle and bustle, the sights and sounds of the last minute make shift pandals being erected. Much as I try, the cheery pumpkins and the rustling leaves do not quite cut the mustard (no pun intended) during these two weeks.

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Broccoli Manchurian – This years winner!

Brocolli ManchurianblogThis time of the year, usually culminates in a slight feeling of unrest and nostalgia. Over two decades ago, I came to the US as a student, right around this time of the year. Like the tremulous fall weather, I was unsure of what this big move would mean, and yet, like the crisp clean colors of fall I was full of hope for the future. This time of the year, always stirs that familiar restlessness in me.

Currently, we are getting organized with new backpacks, shoes, books and lunchboxes. It is just before the children start another school year, it also is audit season at work, a time where we wait and hope for things to even out. The usual regime of sorting out soccer schedules, girls scout schedules is on. I am a little disappointed that the kids bus time  this year does not work with my train schedule. They head out a little later, so, they will be leaving with either Martha or their dad.

I guess that I can try to use the extra five minutes in the morning that I shall now have leftover to walk to the train station, and of course, I will think of of how much I miss my few morning minutes with Aadi, teaching him Bengali words.

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With a harvest bountiful with Kale and fresh broccoli (the gift of a cold and rainy summer), I am excited to have come up with a dish that has proved to be quite a crowd pleaser, yes, this broccoli Manchurian has turned out to be the belle of the summer ball. It is not a very photogenic dish, so I have had trouble presenting its darker sultry looks and eventually decided that looks are certainly not everything. Indeed, when compared to the cauliflower that usually is used in this Indo-Chinese recipe. Instead, broccoli is like the smart, somewhat homey and serious kid that dazzles with its a bright green powerhouse of nutrients!

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The most common varieties of Manchurian dishes involve a tomato based spicy sauce, much like my dish. However, my sauce uses fresh aromatics, ginger and fresh garlic chives offering lighter nuances of flavor. The dish has in some cases been ruined by overly think sauces and excessive batter on the fritters. Most people associating Manchurian with a coating that is overly thick in a sauce that is laden with cornstarch have had reservations trying this dish.

People who do not like brocolli might have even bigger reservations, but I promise you this dish might just be the brocolli dish that you were waiting for. In fact, my friends who were over this weekend, skeptically started with a single florets, before progressively moving on to down a pretty large platter. In a nutshell however, it is an Indo-Chinese creation that has no real resemblance or for that matter connection with the northeastern Manchurian region of China.

If you can overlook the oil needed in frying these fritters, you will be guaranteed that your guests are going to be pleased with this dish anytime you serve it. I have worked out two different options for the base depending on what is practical in your pantry, the first base uses Indian style ketchup, Maggi’s Hot and Sweet Tomato Chili Ketchup that is found in my local Indian store. My friend’s suggestion was to replicate this with a more generic style ketchup, since I am not sure how popular our regular Greenway organic variety is. I went over and borrowed our neighbors bottle of Heinz ketchup for the second variation of the sauce and I think that they both work well.

Broccoli Manchurian – Crispy Broccoli Fritters in a Tangy Broccoli Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6

A take on the classic cauliflower based Indo-chinese recipe, this time with garden fresh broccoli.

Ingredients

    For the fritters
  • 11/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice flour (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • Oil for frying
  • 11/2 pounds of broccoli florettes
  • For the sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 4 pods of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • ¾ cup Maggi Hot and Sweet Ketchup or
  • ½ cup regular ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 medium sized red bell pepper cut small pieces
  • ½ cup chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl mix the cornstarch and the rice flour with the eggs and 1/2 cup of water to form a smooth batter. The batter should be of coating consistency. Add in the eggs.
  2. In a large skillet heat oil to a depth of about 1 inch, test with a bread crumb, if the oil is hot it should sizzle to the surface right away.
  3. Dip the broccoli florettes in the batter and add to the batter and fry until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  4. In a separate pan heat the two tablespoons of oil and add in the red onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onion is soft and transluscent.
  5. Add in the garlic and the ginger and cook for another two minutes.
  6. Add in the Maggi ketchup, or add in the regular ketchup with the Sriracha, vinegar and sugar and bring to a simmer.
  7. Add in the brocolli and toss well.
  8. Stir in the red bell pepper and the chives.
  9. Garnish with the cilantro and enjoy!
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Kale with Carmelized Onions and A Kale Story

Kale with Cumin and Caramelized Onions

Kale with Carmelized Onions and Cumin

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A kale dish with caramelized onions and raisins that takes kale to a very different level.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium sized red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of freshly chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoon raisins

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium low heat for about 1 minute and add in the onions, cook the onions low and slow and they soften, curl and gradually turn golden brown. This does need some attention and about 10 to 12 minutes to get to the golden brown color.
  2. Remove about half the onions with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add in the ginger and cook for another minute.
  4. Add in the cumin and cayenne pepper and mix well.
  5. Add in the kale and stir well, until the kale is wilted.
  6. Stir in or garnish with the reserved onions and serve.
  7. Stir in the raisins and cook until the raisins are heated through,
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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Kale is everywhere including  in our backyard. The large and hearty plants are growing happily spreading their curly, curvy, purple veined leaves of goodness.

This year’s kale has a story- what I would like to call a kale story. Of course, somewhere in this kale story is my favorite creation with kale. A simple and very flavorful creation with just cumin and lots of caramelized onions.

It is not such a surprise that Kale is quite the trend these days, because for those following a vegan diet or even otherwise, Kale offers you a chock load of calcium, iron and a good balance of Vitamins.

My kale story ties me back to my general emphasis on conscious living. My attempts at conscious living started several years back with a trip to Denmark. I was amazed at how wasteful our lifestyle here in the US was, compared to the general eco-friendly lifestyle there. People instinctively used reusable bags at the grocery store, and men in suits biked to work. Lots of food was eaten raw, and the list could go on. I felt like the big, bad, wasteful American and I wanted to change, just a little, inculcate some of this change into the two young people in our household. There is more to conscious eating, this than stopping by your local farmer’s market, of course, that is always a good start!

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Most of this year’s kale has been from my daughter’s tiny patch, and all of this started with the school science fair. I was hardly surprised that after working through quite a few different ideas, her experiment choice was around plants. She wanted to study the effect of light on plant growth. For her experiment, she studied the effects of growing seedlings under red, green and blue filters and concluded that red worked best.

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Since, she was going to actually plant some seedlings, we decided to work with Kale. We figured this way, she would be able to complete her experiment and we could use the “fruits” or in this case the leaves of her efforts. The blue plant did need some CPR from dad, before we could move it along further, but all three survived and are still thriving.

Image 1-horzAlong the way, she informed me that her friends mother had an instagram and would be sharing the science fair on instagram, and inquired whether I might do the same? Well, a few months ago when this was happening, I did not have an instagram account, however now that I do, it is a little too late to share this. I did make a mental note to monitor her play dates a little more closely, as she is anything but social media ready. I am not ready for her to be social media ready.

Kale with Caramelized Onions

Working through this kale dish, which has become a family favorite is much simpler. This is something we all agree on. This is a simple and festive dish, with the magical complex sweetness of the caramelized onion, melting into the raisins offering a gentle balance to the light and bitter notes of the kale.

Kale with Carmelized Onions and Cumin

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A kale dish with caramelized onions and raisins that takes kale to a very different level.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium sized red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of freshly chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoon raisins

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium low heat for about 1 minute and add in the onions, cook the onions low and slow and they soften, curl and gradually turn golden brown. This does need some attention and about 10 to 12 minutes to get to the golden brown color.
  2. Remove about half the onions with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add in the ginger and cook for another minute.
  4. Add in the cumin and cayenne pepper and mix well.
  5. Add in the kale and stir well, until the kale is wilted.
  6. Stir in or garnish with the reserved onions and serve.
  7. Stir in the raisins and cook until the raisins are heated through,
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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Beet Greens with Potatoes and Nigella Seeds – Alu Laal Shager Chorchori

Stir Fried Beet Greens and PotatoesToday is an incredibly hectic day, the last day of mom’s visit, I seem to want to pack everything between these last few days. The children have been feeling the same way, too! I think my poor mother has critiqued countless versions of Maacher Chop, supervised the picking of several buds of Mocha or banana blossom flowers.

She has in turn watched my daughter current dance piece and listened to her piano pieces enough times to forget that Beethoven might have really existed and the little fellow too has regaled her with his art work and music.

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Meetings in a world where family members do not live close to each other, often entail farewells and tonight was her last dinner with us for this visit. Among other things, I cooked some beet greens with potatoes, using a simple Bengali seasoning. My love for Beet Greens is well known, and to add some spark to our family repertoire I created this recipe to join the other summer recipe that is already a family favorite.

The delicate reds in the leaves seep into the potatoes giving them a pretty and very unique color. This recipe is also created for Stephanie, for her Dog Days of Summer event that supports her kickstarter project. I hope that you will consider stopping by to support the project.

Beet Greens with Potatoes and Nigella Seeds – Alu Laal Shager Chorchori

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Beet Greens get a nice Bengali touch, from the addition of nigella seeds. A colorful seasonal recipe that will warm and brighten your table.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil (can be substituted with regular olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 small to medium red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 fingerling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, slit
  • 2 cups finely chopped beet leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about a minute.
  2. Add in the nigella seeds and add in the onion and sauté it for 3 to 4 minutes and let it turn lightly golden at the edges.
  3. Add in the ginger and sauté well.
  4. Add in the potatoes and mix well. Add in the potatoes and the salt and mix well and add in sugar.
  5. Stir in the green chilies and mix well.
  6. Add in the beet leaves and cook for 4 minutes, stirring and mixing well until the beet leaves wilt and mix into the potatoes.
  7. Serve as a side to any meal of your choice.
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Bengali Red Lentils and Brocolli

Red Lentils with BroccoliWe have heard of people describing food in poetic and comforting terms, and the closest thing that evokes poetic feelings for me is well made red lentils or mushoorir dal. We Bengalis can rapsodize about these buttery smooth lentils every day of our lives. Well, today’s variation of red lentils goes beyond poetry, this variation is an accomplice in my efforts to get my mother to enjoy broccoli.

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Chances are if my husband was reading this post, he would like to highlight that the broccoli, I speak of is not just any old florets of broccoli, they are like almost anything else that I cook in summer, tender stem pieces of green beauteousness, that he has grown. This year, I have truly been thrilled to see how enthusiastically, mom has been relishing my crazy forays in the kitchen. However, I am a believer to get someone to like something, we need to start traditional.

Brocolli Plant

To be fair to mom, she is a little confused. Chances are she first about broccoli when President Bush was around, and we all know what his views on the broccoli are. Well, times they are a changing. We have a different captain of the ship today, and this is what President Obama feels. Gosh! who knew that there was a correlation between broccoli and politics! Despite, being a politically obsessed family, I knew that it would take more than just presidential endorsement to have mom give a nod to the broccoli, it would take the comforting and quintessential red lentils and then some.

Lentils and Broc

Well, jokes aside, all things considered I paired the broccoli in a simple stew of red lentils.  A tender delicate comforting bowl of well seasoned goodness. The broccoli cooked along side the red lentils was cooked in a typical no fuss Bengali manner, none of the fuss, associated with green and blanching or icing the vegetables. It was simmered till tender soft in pools of the thick and buttery soft red lentils laced with gentle kisses of spices. I finished this off, with the traditional tempering of golden crisp onions.  Growing up in our house, not all lentils got the caramelized onion
finish, this was left for the comforting and soothing lentils.

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Buttery red lentils, soft and flavorful broccoli and delicate bits of caramelized red onion. What do you expect a mother to do? A few bites later she declared, “onekta kopir moto (a lot like cauliflower)”, considering that the mild mannered cauliflower was a family favorite, looked like we had a winner!

It has been a while since I participated in one of the events that I liked a lot, MLLA, or my legume love affair an event started by Susan to celebrate lentils, that is currently with Lisa and is hosted this month by Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen.

Bengali Red Lentils and Brocolli

Cook Time: 25 minutes

A comforting creation with red lentils garden fresh tender broccoli seasoned with hints of ginger, cumin and caramelized onions.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup split red lentils
  • 2 cups of water or 3 if using the stove top
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 11/2 teaspoons powdered cumin
  • ½ pound of tender broccoli florettes
  • For the tempering and finish
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 green chillies, slit
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the lentils in the pressure cooker or the cooking pot add in the water, turmeric, salt, ginger and cumin and cook under pressure for 4 to 5 minutes, or simmer the lentils until soft and smooth. This takes about 25 minutes and needs to be stirred occasionally.
  2. While this is cooking cut the broccoli into small pieces, tender stems can be chopped into smaller pieces along with the florets.
  3. Add to the lentils and simmer for another 7 minutes, until the broccoli is tender crisp.
  4. While the broccoli is cooking, peel the onion and cut into a fine dice.
  5. Heat the oil and add the onion and cook the onion on medium high heat until the onion is nice and golden, this will take about 5 to 6 minutes.
  6. Add in the green chillies and mix this into the lentils and simmer for another 2 minutes.
  7. Squeeze in the lime juice and sprinkle with the chives if using.

Notes

If not using a pressure cooker, this will take much longer.

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Spinach, Broccolli and Red Onion Quesadillas – Castello Moments

Que_blogMy son is a cheese buff, for his young age, he loves the idea of trying out different cheeses. So, it was not much of a push for me to participate in the Castello Moments cheese campaign, and work on this sponsored post.

Currently, the line has three hard cheeses the Classic Bergkase, the Hirten and the Weissbier, each of which have their own distinction and character. What I ended up with are family sized wedges of all three of them. I decided to work with the Hirten for this recipe. A crumbly textured cheese with light pine and caramel notes, I felt that this would hold well to the spicy flavors of my kitchen. There are few things that work better in my kitchen than, cheesy quesadillas. I remade these later, using a combination of jack cheese and sharp cheddar.

 

I first tried the cheese as a simple snack, it slices into pretty slightly crumbly slices and works well with most of the red wines in our house. Moving on to the cooking domain, I had made a simple pasta dish pairing it with broccoli, the pictures for my pasta dish are lost in the latest tech shuffle.

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This weekend, I was inspired to make my own tortillas and I shall save that experience for another post, because it is certainly worth its own place in the sun. These tortillas were then converted into quesadillas  pairing them with garden fresh broccoli and some comforting spinach to boot. I usually do the same thing with a mild tasting cheddar and jack combination. My son has however pronounced that this cheese is better, so it looks like we have a thumbs up for the Hirten.

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The cheese is definitely a hard cheese, which I found makes it a little difficult to grate, however, it slices easily and I used the slices for the recipe.

Brocolli and Cheese Quesadilla -

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

A simple recipe for quesadillas.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil or Grape seed oil for cooking
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of finely chopped broccoli
  • 12 6 inch sized whole wheat tortillas
  • 11/2 cups of sliced or grated cheese (such as cheddar, jack cheese or the hirten cheese, used here)
  • 1 cup of baby spinach leaves

Instructions

  1. In a small pan add about 1 tablespoon of the oil, add in the onion and the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables soften to the point of being tender crisp.
  2. Heat a large skillet, place the tortilla over the skillet and begin heating.
  3. When the tortilla begins to turn warm, sprinkle with some of the cheese on one half, add some of the broccoli mixture and some baby spinach leaves and some more cheese.
  4. Cover the tortilla with the other half and press down with a flat spatula.
  5. Lightly sprinkle with the oil and let the half moon quesadilla turn a little crisp, turn on the other side and repeat to let the cheese melt.
  6. Remove from the fire and cut into wedges and some with some guacamole if desired.
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Win a Private Cheese Tasting in your own home – enter by clicking on the banner below. Castello Moments and this post is a collaboration between the blogger and Arla Foods USA. 
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Chili Tofu and Technical Issues

Chili TofuThis month has been a busy and balanced month. In various ways, the flavors of this Chili Tofu, synchronizes with the kind of month that I have been having. The flavors are sharp and full of fun.

I have managed to squeeze in a few days of vacation, spread over the few weeks that my mother is visiting. Since these vacation days are loose days, without any major purpose other than taking things at a slightly slower pace, and fitting in some, together time with mom, they have been immensely relaxing. I have filled them with shopping, catching up with Bollywood movies, and I some loose errands and bits of time for myself.

It is the simple things in life, that sometimes help in creating balance. Those rare simple things that we often do not think of getting into our lives.

I have been enjoying creating new dishes for mom. She seems to want to take a break from the regular cuisine of her days. To my surprise, she has also been wanting to learn some new flavors, and one of the recipes that caught her fancy was this Chili Tofu. This recipe is a lighter take on the Indo-Chinese style chili dishes. The flavors here are presented with a generous

Acadia National Park

Somewhere in the middle of fireworks and traffic, we managed to get in a week on the road, travelling up to ME, to Acadia National Park. It always amazes me to see the natural beauty of these sanctuaries, offering us beautiful family friendly recreation that works for all age groups.

pic2

The local was beautiful and rejuvenating, but just a tad too hot, although the young people in the group did not seem to mind. The kids enjoyed the junior ranger program a lot. This was their second try at this, with the first one being at Yellowstone.  I was happy to be away, the long drive allowed me to actually read and finish a really interesting novel when I was not driving.

I am a die hard night person. Well, one of my planned projects was to back up and organize an SD card that had a select 125 pictures. Except that I had a novel experience planned, and not a pleasant one at any rate. Somehow, this disk had gotten whacked out, all the files appeared deleted… I managed to detect this about 10 new pictures, once I noticed the new sequencing of numbers. Emotions, ranged for shock and disbelief to a need to fix things.

The internet is a wonderful place. After some research, I realized that the data might be retrievable after all. I had broken the cardinal rule here, I had recorded over the data. While this was not intentional, that is what the new pictures were doing they were copying over the old data out of their own volition.  Following a bunch of threads, I landed on this page and actually did manage to retrieve quite a lot of my data.

Chili Tofu-2

This now brings me back to this recipe, and the post that I had started a while ago when the spring onions were first surfacing in the markets. The preferred tofu for this recipe was the firm slice able variety.

Chili Tofu and Technical Issues

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A simple and flavorful stir fry with sharp green chili and fresh tasting green onions.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 whole green onions
  • 3 green chilies minced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups of slice able tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 3 pods of garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Separate the whites and green of the onions. Chop them both and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl mix in the green chilies, soy sauce, white wine, sesame oil and honey and mix well.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick wok, until very hot.
  4. Carefully add all the tofu, single side down and cook for about 1 minute on both sides until the tofu is lightly browned.
  5. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  6. In the oil add in the ginger and the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add in the white onions and saute for 3 minutes, until the onion is nice and translucent.
  8. Add in the tofu and mix well. Stir in the soy sauce mixture and cook for 2 minutes, until the mixture is absorbed.
  9. Add in the spring onion greens and cook until wilted and serve the tofu with a side of rice.
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Spicy Mushrooms with Garlic, Black Pepper and Chives

Summer often reminds of the shorter shelf life of things, with fruit ripening more quickly, herbs drying out if not tended carefully. For me, summer is also the season of fermentation (think dosa), easy banana breads and simple stir fries that tend to showcase the best of the fresh produce that is so readily available.

 

Mushrooms with Red Onions and Black Pepper

This is where today’s Spicy mushroom stir-fry recipe comes in handy. This lovely stir-fry is adapted from Indian Inspired Gluten-Free Recipes a book packed with flavorful and easy recipes.

Ones that fit into the fast paced days that I have been having the past few weeks. Yes, so far, it has not really been an easy, breezy summer. With my mother visiting, I have been trying to eke out more time in already packed days to spend with here, but it has been a very pleasant visit. I play with stir-fries all the time and it is always fun for me to see how the same few ingredients combined differently can offer different nuances in taste and texture. Given the high temperatures that we have been having these stir-fries are just perfect to keep your kitchen time down to a minimum, without any compromise in flavors.

The recipe is so simple and not fuss, that it is difficult not to stick to it, however I did play around with it just a little adding some fresh chives towards the end along with the cilantro. Also, added a very small hint of fresh lime. It actually turns out that this recipe has become the new household favorite, even, mom loves it and my husband actually does not notice that it is not made with homegrown produce. In fact, he does not even think about the aborted attempt at growing mushrooms. We all have some failures, when working through our passions and mushrooms were the one that got away, from my husband’s backyard.

That is another big deal, in the house, particularly the three peak months of summer, we are swimming with produce and my ever vigillant husband tries to ensure we do not waste any gas, in procuring our summer meals. What I really enjoy as a side bonus, are the empty crisper shelves in my refridgerator. Since, the produce is picked just when we use it, I do not need to store anything.

This allows me to throughly clear these shelves and wash them out with baking soda and lime, allowing me a sense of freshness that is all important and soothing especially during these summer months.

[Read more...]

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