Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheddar Corn Chowder

I was requested to bring a soup for our Annual Christmas Party last week. I decided to make chowder. I browsed online for a vegetarian version. Chowder is usually made with clam or bacon is added to the corn. I found one vegetarian recipe on food I also liked a recipe by The Barefoot Contessa, which called for bacon. I created my own version from both of them.  It was a great hit at the party. My daughter loved it so much that she wanted to have it again the next day.

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 glarlic cloves, minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme,leaves only
1/4 C all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t turmeric powder
2 Idaho potatoes,peeled and diced
6 C vegetable stock
6 C corn kernels(frozen)
2 C half-and half(or heavy cream)
1 C  grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1. Heat butter and oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook until the vegetables are soft(8-10 minutes). Dust the vegeatables with the flour and stir to coat well.
2. Pour the stock and add the potaotes. Bring it to a boil and cook until the potatoes are cooked but not too soft(7-8 minutes). 
3. Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and half and chedder cheese. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with crackers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

I love coconut sweets. Almond Joy is one of my favorite candies. I had been searching for an egg less macaroon recipe. I looked through my books and found it in The 30 Minute Vegan. I made a small batch for trial. The kids liked it. The cookie was light and less sweet.

1 C flaked coconut
1 C all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 C agave nectar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C mashed banana(1banana)
1/4 C coconut oil
1 t coconut extract(optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Oil a baking sheet. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk well.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and gently mix well.
2. Using a rounded teaspoon, create mounds from the batter and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes,until golden brown.

For chocolate macaroons, melt 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chip and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a double broiler. After the macaroons have cooled a bit,top them with the melted chocolate. Allow them to sit till the chocolate hardens.
If you do not have a double boiler, place 1 cup of water in a large pan. Place the chocolate chips and oil in a smaller pan. Place this pan in the
larger pan and heat the water.  Stir the chocolate chips till they melt.

I substituted agave nectar with honey.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bitter Gourd Pitlay(stew)

My mom is an awesome cook. She infused a love for vegetables in us by making food interesting. She used to make these lovely stews, we call them kootu with different vegetables. I learned Tamil Nadu, specifically Tanjore cooking from my mom when I was a teenager. The other day she made this divine pitlay with bitter gourd(bitter squash).  I have to share this on my blog.

2 bitter squash
1/2 C tamarind extract
1 t sambar powder
1/4 t turmeric powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 C cooked chickpeas
1/2 C cooked toor dal
For masala:
2 t coriander seeds
1 t  channa dal
5 red chili
1 t  grated coconut(optional)
For seasoning:
mustard, urad dal, red chili, curry leaves, and asafoetida
1 t coconut oil

1. Wash the vegetable, peel the scales, remove the seeds and dice. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of tamarind extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, mix and set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Drain the water by gently squeezing out the bitter squash. Mix the remaining tamarind, sambar powder,1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the vegetable. Pressure cook the vegetable for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, roast the ingredients for masala in 1/2 teaspoon oil. Allow it to cool and powder it in a blender. Keep aside.

4. Mix the cooked vegetable, dal and chickpeas in a 2 quart saucepan. Add salt as required. Add 2 teaspoon of the ground masala. Bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar if the pitlay is too bitter. Remove from the stove.
5. Season the mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and asafoetida in coconut oil. Garnish the pitlay with the seasoning.  Serve hot over plain white rice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Milagu Kuzhambu(black pepper)

Sambar and Kuzhambu are typical Tamil foods. Some of them can be medicinal too. Growing up in India, my mom used to make this awesome kuzhambu during rainy seasons. It is called milagu(black pepper) kuzhambu. It goes well with plain rice or curd rice. It is concentrated and stays fresh for a few days.

2 T sesame oil
Lemon size tamarind
2 t coriander seeds
1 t toor dal
1 t channa dal
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/4 t fennugreek seeds
4 red chili
2 t black peppercorn
10 fresh curry leaves
1/2 t asafoetida
salt to taste
mustard seeds and urad dal for seasoning

1. Roast coriander,cumin, fenugreek seeds, red chili, black pepper and curry leaves in 1/2 teaspoon oil. Allow it to cool. Add tamarind, asafoetida and powder everything in  blender.
2. Mix the powder into 2 cups of water.
3. Heat sesame oil in a 3 quart saucepan. Season the mustard seeds and urad dal. Gently pour in the mixture. Stir, and cover the saucepan. Cook for 20 minutes, till the kuzhambu thickens. Serve over white rice.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

It is that time of the year when there is a party every weekend. Lots of cooking, baking and eating. I have a friend who hosts holiday party every year. She likes to have only appetizers and dessert. We get to try a variety of Indian and American appetizers. No party is complete without a dip of some kind  served with chips, veggies, or crackers. This year I brought spinach and artichoke dip with  home made pita chips. I used the recipe that I got from the chef in my school. It was a great hit at the party.

3 cloves garlic, roasted and chopped
1/2 C chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1(14 ounces)jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1(8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
4 Pita bread, cut into triangles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish
2. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese,1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
3. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned. 
4. Lightly brush pita bread triangles with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees till they are crisp and golden.
5. Serve the pita chips with hot dip.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Garlic Rasam(Soup)

If you have a garlic lover in the house, this is the perfect recipe for them. You could make it with as much or as little garlic as you want. It is a perfect concoction for someone with a cold. I made this last week for my husband who was recovering from one. I never used to like garlic in rasam. But, I tried this at my sister's, and loved it.

1/2 C tamarind extract(1 t tamarind paste mixed in water)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 t ghee
1 tomato, chopped
3 green chili,slit
1 t sambar powder
1/2 t asafoetida
4 curry leaves,
cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
1/2 t rasam powder
mustard seesds for seasoning

1. Place the tomato, chili and curry leaves in a bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mash well with hand. Add the tamarind extract and sambar powder and mix. Keep aside.
2. In a 2 quart saucepan, season the mustard seeds in 1 teaspoon ghee. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture. Add asafoetida, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer till the smell of sambar powder leaves. Add the chopped cilantro and rasam powder. Bring it to a boil. Remove from the stove. Serve hot in a cup or over white rice.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich are one of my favorite choice of lunch on a cold day. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes on the vine and fresh basil. Adding garlic kicks up the flavor to the soup.

3 cloves garlic,minced
5 tomatoes, blanched and chopped
2 C low-sodium tomato juice
1/3 C fresh basil,chopped
1 C milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C low fat cream cheese,softened
basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Heat 1 table spoon olive oil in a large pot. Saute garlic for 2 minutes.    Add tomato and juice with enough water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
2. Add basil  and blend with an immulsion blender. 
3. Stir in the milk, salt and pepper. Add cream cheese, whisking vigorously. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sliced basil.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pecan Pie

We all have our likes and dislikes. That includes pies as well. I like Pecan pie, but my husband loves it. What do you give someone who has very limited needs? I go crazy every year trying to get my husband gifts. This year I decided to do something different for our anniversary.  I decided to make pecan pie for him. I found a recipe for Southern Pecan Pie online at  I found it easy to make. My husband loved it, and so did my son.

Ingredients For the crust:
11/2 C all purpose flour
3 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 C butter,chilled and diced
1 egg yolk
3 T ice water
Ingredients for the Filling:
11/2 C pecan halves
3 eggs
2 T all-purpose flour
1 C light corn syrup
3/4 C sugar
3 T milk
3 T butter,melted
1 t vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl,combine the dry ingredients for the pie crust. Cut in the butter crisscross with two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 
2. Mix yolk with water and stir in until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin covered with stocking.Make sure the crust is 2 inches larger than the 9 inch pie plate. Gently lift the crust and place it on a 9 inch pie plate.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
5. Arrange the pecans in the bottom of the pie crust.
6. In a large bowl, stir together sugar and flour. Mix in the eggs, corn syrup,milk,butter and vanilla. Blend well and pour over pecans in crust.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is set. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

I substituted 3/4 cups of brown sugar for sugar in the filling.
I added 1/4 cup of chopped pecans in the filling.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vegetable Kurma

It has been a long time since I made kurma.  I decided to make it for lunch.  My sister makes the best kurma in the world.  When we were young, she used to make it once in a fortnight.  I used a lot of vegetables in this recipe.  It could be served with pulav,puri,or plain rice.

1onion, chopped
3 C vegetable(cauliflower,carrot,pepper,potato,green beans,green peas), chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 t saunf(fennel seeds)
1 T olive oil
1/2 t turmeric powder

For Paste:
1 cardamom
2 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
3 cloves garlic,minced
1 inch ginger,minced
2 t fennel seeds
1 t poppy seeds
3 green chili(more if required)
1 T grated coconut
1 t cashew nuts

1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add bay leaf and fennel seeds. Once it splutters, add oinion and saute till gloden brown. Add tomato and cook till oils separates.
2. Add turmeric powder,  the chopped vegetables, and enough water. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bend the ingredients for paste in a blender.
4. Stir in the paste to the vegetables. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.    
5. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve warm with rice or puri.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vegetarian Chilli

I can never order chili when I go to Mexican restaurants, because it is made with meat. So, I searched online for a vegetarian version and started making my own chili at home. It is filled with vegetable and beans. My kids love  to eat it with rice an loads of sour cream. It makes a great single dish dinner.

1/2 C black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 C chopped tomato
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 C chopped zucchini
1/2 C chopped mushroom
1/2 C chopped carrots
1/4 C corn
1/2 C vegetarian beef crumbles(optional)
2 T chili seasoning
1 t ground cumin and coriander
1 t fresh chopped cilantro
1 T masa or corn flour
1 t chili powder(optional)
salt to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in oil on medium heat for 3 minutes. Transfer it to a slow cooker with all other ingredients, except salt and corn flour. Pour enough water. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Mix corn flour with 1/2 cup water and stir into the chili. Add salt and cook for few more minutes. Add cilantro. Serve warm over white rice. 

Dal Makhani

A delicacy from Punjab, Dal Makhani is made with  whole uard dal and rajma. It is loaded with protein and fiber. Makhan means butter. This dish is made with butter and cream. Dal Makhani  with roti or rice on a cold and rainy day will warm everybody's heart. Traditionally, this dal is cooked for hours on a low flame to bring out the rich flavor.

1 C whole black gram(urad sabut)
1/4 C red kidney beans(rajma)
2 t olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1T grated ginger and garlic
2 green chili,chopped
1 t coriander powder
1/2 t dry mango powder(amchur)
1 t red chili powder
1 t garam masala
salt to taste
2 T heavy cream
1 T butter

1. Soak the beans overnight.
2. Pressure cook the beans with just enough water, along with ginger and garlic for 20 minutes.
3. Heat a pan with olive oil on medium flame. Add cumin seeds and let it crackle. Add chili and onion and saute for 10 minutes. Add tomato and cook till pulpy.  Add chili powder, garam masala and amchur.
4. Remove the beans from the cooker and mix it into the tomato mixture. Add salt and butter. Cover and cook on low flame for 2 hours.
5. Stir in the cream. Cook for few minutes. Serve warm with roti or rice.

1.I cooked the onion and tomato and poured everything into a crock pot and cooked on low for 6 hours(added salt after 4 hours).
2. For a low fat version, omit butter and substitute 2 tablespoon fresh beaten curds(yogurt) for cream.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Herb Biscuts

One way to warm the house in winter is by baking. I do a lot of baking in winter. Last weekend, I made biscuits for breakfast. It was quick to make, took only 20 minutes.

1/2 C shortening
2 C all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 C milk
2 t chopped fresh basil or 3/4 t dried dill weed or basil

1. Heat oven to 450 F.
2. Cut shortening into flour, sugar, baking powder, herbs  and salt in a medium bowl, crisscrossing 2 knives, until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
3. Stir in milk until dough leaves sides of bowl.
4. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2 1/2 inch round cutter.
5. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.

I used Smart Balance buttery sticks.
I reduced salt to 3/4 t.
The dough should be sticky before kneading.
Place the cookie sheet in the middle rack.

Capsicum Rice

I love all kinds of pepper. Green pepper or capsicum is a wonderful vegetable that can be used in numerous dishes. I give my kids different kinds of rice for lunch. Capsicum rice is flavorful, tasty and my kids love it.

1 C cooked rice
1 green pepper, chopped
1 T olive oil
mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves, and red chili for seasoning
2 t roasted peanuts
1/2 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
For masala:
1/2-inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 t coriander seeds
1 t channa dal
5 red chili
4 black pepper
1/2 t dry roasted sesame seeds
1/2 t dry grated coconut

1. Cool cooked rice.
2. Roast the ingredients for masala in a little oil, powder them, and keep aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan on medium flame and add the seasonings. Add the pepper and cook till soft. Add turmeric powder, salt and the powdered masala. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the rice. Mix gently. Serve warm with choice of raita and papadum.