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Monday, September 30, 2013

Z ~ Zucchini Biscotti

 
The A - Z marathon comes to an end today. The marathon and month seemed to whiz by so fast that it seemed like it was done in the blink of an eye. However "Behind the scenes" was a different story altogether for everyone who participated in it, if I am not wrong. The frenzy and the excitement started months before the actual marathon started. The participants through chain of emails decided on the themes, shared ideas and helped each other with the list of recipes if needed. Like many, I made an umpteen number of recipe lists / plans on paper in advance though only a handful recipes were ready when the marathon started. However when marathon started, everything fell in place on it's own (kinda) and I enjoyed the process immensely.
And I am ending this BM with these crispy zucchini biscottis, that I had bookmarked earlier from Harini's place. My earlier eggless biscotti experiment from a cookbook kind of fell flat and so when I saw this recipe I wanted to give it a try and I was not disappointed.

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup oatmeal flour (or grind any oats you have.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 Tbsp yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp oil (I used canola oil)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cup peeled and grated carrot
1/2 cup peeled and grated zucchini
1 Tbsp of raisins / dried cranberries

Method:
* Preheat the oven to 190° C / 375 deg F.
* Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt. dried fruits and cinnamon powder in a mixing bowl.
* Add grated veggies, oil, yogurt and sugar in another bowl and whisk them well until the sugar is dissolved.
* Grease a baking tray with oil or line it with a parchment paper or aluminium foil.
* Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a stiff dough.
* Grease your hands generously with oil or dust them with dry flour. Work with the dough and shape it into a rectangle of about 4 inches wide and 3/4 inch thickness on the greased baking tray.
* Bake it for 25 minutes at 190°C / 375°F . (I baked for about 20 minutes.)

* Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely for 15 minutes.
* Slice the loaf crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces using a sharp knife.
* Place the cut side up and arrange the slices on a baking tray. Bake it at 190°C for 7-8 minutes till they become slightly brown. Turn them to other side and bake again for 6-7 minutes at190°C.
* They needed to be put on broil for a minute to get crisp. However don't be tempted to broil more than one minute or else you will end up with burnt ones.

My A - Z journey during this blogging marathon, under the following themes mentioned.

Street Food / Condiments / Pictorial / Others Theme:
S - Salsa 

Baking / Microwave Cooking:

D - Dhokla

International / Fusion Recipes:
N - Nazook
T -  Taco Shells

Regional Recipes:

Logo courtesy : Preeti
 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Y ~ Yogurt Idly

Event: Blogging Marathon #32
Theme: Regional Recipe #6
 
I came across this interesting recipe in a weekly magazine at my mother's place when I was in India. It was a "Idli Special" week and they had given twist to the mundane idlis in each recipe and I noted down a couple which caught my fancy. This particular one was a yummy twist to the traditional south Indian style dahi vadas. A wonderful idea to jazz up those plain old idlis or to finish off the left overs without any complaints. 
 
Ingredients:
20 - 25 button idlis / mini idlis
3 cups yogurt
Salt to taste
2 green chillies
1 tbsp cashews
2 tbsp fresh shredded coconut 
1 tbsp each to garnish - minced cilantro, grated carrot and grated fresh coconut
For tadka:
2 tsp oil, 1 tsp brown mustard seeds, few curry leaves, 2 red chillies broken into bits and  pinch of asafoetida
 
Method:
1. Prepare the idlis in button idly tray and keep them aside. Or cut the regular idlis into small chunks. If you are using the left over idlis, remember to re-steam them or heat them covered in a microwave for few seconds. If you dunk the refrigerated idlis directly into the yogurt mixture, the natural fluffiness / sponginess of the idlis is lost and it is hard to enjoy the final product.
2. Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle and pop, add the remaining tadka ingredients and turn off the stove. Keep it aside.
3. Add salt to the yogurt and whisk well. You can add a pinch of sugar too if you prefer.
4. Grind green chillies, cashew and coconut together adding a little bit yogurt if needed.
5. Add the ground paste, idlis and the tadka to the whisked yogurt and mix well. Let it sit for 30 minutes so that the idlis soak the flavors in the mean time.
6. Garnish with cilantro, carrot and coconut before serving.
 
 

Logo courtesy : Preeti
 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

X ~ Xoriatiki

 
 Xoriatiki ~ Greek Style Peasant Salad

Event: Blogging Marathon #32
Theme: International / Fusion Recipe #6

When A - Z marathon was announced, the one letter I thought I would have hard time finding a dish was "X".  I instantly went on an online search and surprisingly found a simple recipe within a short time. And so this Greek salad called xoriatiki was my first decided recipe of this marathon. Xoriatiki or Horiatiki Salata is a rustic, country style salad comprising of fresh, crisp cucumbers, plump kalamata olives, red onions, vibrant, juicy tomatoes and crumbly feta cheese. It is dressed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and oregano. The American versions of it may contain green bell peppers and lettuce. Greeks pair this salad with a rustic, hard crusted bread like papara.


Ingredients:
1 Cucumber - peeled and cut into half moons
2 tomatoes - cut into chunks
1/2 small red onion - sliced thin
20 kalamata olives
100 gm Feta cheese - crumbled or cubed
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (We used lemon juice.)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt to season

Method:
* Combine cucumber, tomatoes and onion in a salad bowl. 
* Mix oregano, olive oil and lemon juice / red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
* Before serving, toss in olives and place cheese over top.
* Drizzle the dressing over the top, season with salt and toss.
* Serve immediately with a crusty bread on the side if preferred.


Logo courtesy : Preeti







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Friday, September 27, 2013

W ~ WaterMelon MilkShake

Event: Blogging Marathon #32
Theme: Free Choice

In this marathon, we had an option of posting two recipes of our choice given that they don't fall under the already assigned themes. I had decided upon a walnut recipe only to realize at the last moment that it involved baking. I wasn't planning to cook anything elaborate as the last minute frenzy kicked in and went hunting in my refrigerator for any "W" thing I could use. I luckily spotted some watermelon in my freezer and so this recipe happened which is a perfect thirst quencher on a hot day. It had a beautiful pale pink color which my camera couldn't capture well. 
There is no exact recipe when it comes to milkshakes and you can adjust the following ingredients according to preference. Or even add vanilla ice cream to prepare the milkshake. Just blend everything until smooth and serve immediately.

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1 cup cold milk
Sugar if needed
1 tsp vanilla essence

 
Logo courtesy : Preeti

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

V ~ Vegan Braided Bread

Event: Blogging Marathon #32
Theme: Baking Recipe #5

Priya keeps posting such versatile recipes that one couldn't stop from bookmarking them. When I thought of baking something for the letter V, I honestly didn't have to think twice before checking my list of "recipes to try" from her blog. An added incentive was that I was planning to bake a braided bread from a long time. Leaving apart the rising and baking periods, the bread can be made in a short time. The braiding part is easy once you get a hang of it. Instead of one big one, I baked 4 mini braided loaves.

Ingredients: 
3 cups bread flour / all purpose flour ( I used both flours)
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp dried herb or 2 Tbsp fresh herb of your choice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup luke warm water (I have to add 3 Tbsp more.)
1/4 cup olive oil 


Method:
1. Place sugar, salt, yeast in a bowl and add luke warm water. Let it sit in a warm place for about 5 minutes. The yeast solution would have turned foamy by that time. 


2. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, cumin, sesame seeds and the herbs you are using in a mixing bowl.
3. Add the yeast solution and the oil to the flour bowl. Combine everything and work with it to form a stiff dough. 


4. Place the dough in a well greased bowl, cover and let it sit in a warm place for 2 hours. The volume of the dough would increase by the time.


5. Punch the dough and divide it into 3 portions. Roll and shape them into balls. Further roll each ball into a strand / rope. 
Instead of one big braided bread, I was planning to make 4 mini ones. And so I divided the dough into 12 portions and proceeded with the recipe. 

6. Braid the strands together and seal at the ends. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 deg F and keep a greased baking tray ready. 







7. Place the braided loaf / loaves on the greased baking sheet. Brush it with some oil / milk if not looking for a vegan version.


8. Bake them for 25-30 minutes until the crust turns brown. Let them cool for few minutes before serving.

My experience:
* The bread didn't turn brown even after baking much longer than the time mentioned and the bread started to go on to the harder side. I then increased the temperature to 375 deg F and then it browned in very short time.
* My oven is relatively new and am wondering whether the bread needs to be baked at 375 deg F. I have to check with Priya about this. Or I think the bread initially can be baked at 375 deg F and later reduced to 350 deg F.



Logo courtesy : Preeti

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

U ~ Urad Dal Chutney / Minapappu Pachadi


Event: Blogging Marathon #32
Theme: Regional Recipe #5

I thought of finishing this post by afternoon and didn't realize that I hit the publish button while trying to save the recipe earlier. Imagine my surprise when I saw comments for the unfinished recipe. :)
Here is one more yummy chutney to go with Indian style breakfasts or rice. Everyone in our home expects variety when it comes to accompaniments paired with Indian style breakfasts. And even I, as a cook get fed up repeating the same chutney / chutney podi. To beat the monotony and to have happy faces around the table, I keep on trying to increase my chutney/sidedish repertoire. This particular recipe came from my husband's aunt. I must admit that this one was new to me though toor dal and moongdal chutneys are commonly made in Andhra kitchens. The coconut adds subtle sweetness to the chutney and in fact, this tastes almost like the coconut chutney.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup urad dal
6 - 8 dried red chillies (I used byadagi chillies. if using other variety, adjust the quantity.)
1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut
1 -2 Tbsp freshly squeezed thick tamarind puree
1 tsp jaggery powder
Salt to taste
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp brown mustard seeds and a couple of pinches of asafoetida powder

Method:
* Dry roast urad dal until it starts to change the color. Add red chillies at the end and toast them for as well. Red chillies should turn crispy for easy grinding but shouldn't burn. Remove and let cool.
* Add toasted urad dal, coconut, chillies, tamarind, jaggery and salt to a grinder and blend until coarsely done. Add little water if needed to facilitate the grinding process. Taste and adjust tamarind / jaggery / salt if needed.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard. When they start to splutter and pop, add asafoetida and turn off the stove. Remove and add it to the coarsely ground chutney. 
* This can be served with steamed rice or any south Indian style breakfast items. Cover and refrigerate the left over chutney.


Logo courtesy : Preeti

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

T ~ Taco Shells with Spicy Indian Style Filling

Event: Blogging Marathon#32
Theme: International / Fusion Dishes

Typically a taco is a Mexican dish in which a corn / wheat tortilla is rolled around a filling and eaten without any utensils. In USA and Canada the fried, hard corn tortilla shells are popular as well. I love to use these shells for this fusion recipe with bold Indian flavors. This is what I prefer to have for my lunch when I end up having left over chana masala. A scrumptious, filling and chaat kind lunch. This recipe is a child's play when you have all the ingredients ready.


Ingredients:
Taco shells
Chole (Recipe is here.) or peas masala
Boiled and cubed potatoes
Finely minced red onion
Yogurt (that is not sour.) 
Thin sev (Recipe is here.)
Finely minced cilantro to garnish
Sweet chutney (Recipe is here.)
Green chutney

Method:
Actually the pictures are self explanatory and one can assemble these tacos in what ever way they wish, adding or deleting the garnishes according to preference.
Toast the tacos according to directions. I toasted them for few seconds in a microwave.
Fill the tacos with the following ingredients in that order - chole masala, potatoes, onions, sev, chutneys and yogurt. Top it off with cilantro and sev garnish.



Logo courtesy : Preeti

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Monday, September 23, 2013

S ~ Salsa Mexicana

Event: Blogging Marathon#32
Theme: Condiments

Salsa means literally "sauce" in Spanish though it has become synonymous with tomato based spicy dips from Mexico. There are various varieties of salsas popular in Latin American cuisine and people tend to make their salsas differently each time. They can be fresh or cooked, chunky or pulsed to a coarse or smooth texture. 
Salsa Mexican or the Mexican sauce is a fresh salsa made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chili peppers, onions and cilantro leaves. It is also termed as pico de gallo or salsa fresca (fresh salsa). It doesn't store longer because of the fresh ingredients used. It can be prepared a couple of hours ahead and left at room temperature or refrigerated until serving.
Ingredients: (makes about 1.5 cups)
2 medium sized tomatoes
1 medium sized white onion
1 - 2 jalapeno or Serrano peppers
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 - 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt
Method:
* Cut onions and tomatoes into 1/4 inch cubes. Finely chop chillies.
* Combine everything except salt in a medium bowl.
* Season to taste with salt.

  
Logo courtesy : Preeti

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

R ~ Rava Dosa


Event: Blogging Marathon
Theme: Regional Cooking

Rava dosas happen to be one of the popular south Indian breakfast/snack options, whether it is at home or restaurants. The 'no ferment', instant batter yields delicious, crispy, lacy dosas. I am partial towards these irresistible dosas and consider them the best among the varieties of dosas out there.

Ingredients:
1 cup fine semolina / rava
1/2 cup all purpose flour / maida
1/4 cup rice flour
Minced green chillies as per taste
2 -3 red onions, finely minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp pepper corns (optional)
Salt to taste 
Minced cilantro
Oil to make dosas


Method:
* Add everything except cilantro and oil to a big bowl. Add enough water to make a thin batter with pouring consistency. Some quantity of the water in the recipe may be replaced with yogurt but that is optional.
* The batter tends to get thicker when it sits for a while and so add water as needed when it gets thicker during the dosa making process. Cilantro can be added directly to the batter or sprinkled on the dosas while making them.

* Heat an iron tawa or a shallow pan. Sprinkle some water over it and when the water sizzles and evaporates, the pan is ready to make dosas. 
* Just mix the batter once more before making dosas. While making the rava dosas, don't follow the conventional dosa making method. Instead of pouring the batter at center and spreading it, pour a ladle of batter, starting from the outer circle. And then spread it thin. Don't to try fill in the small gaps with the batter. 
* Spread a tsp of oil along the edges (and over the holes in the dosa if preferred). If using cilantro now, sprinkle some over the surface of the dosa. Cook until it turns golden brown and then flip the dosa with a spatula and cook for 30 seconds more.


* Remove the dosa with a spatula and repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve hot dosas with chutney and/or sambhar.
See how crispy the edges are.



Logo courtesy : Preeti

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Q ~ Quinoa Pilaf with Cranberries and Almonds

 
Event: Blogging Marathon
Theme: International / Fusion Theme

Pilaf / Pulav is a dish traditionally popular in the Middle east , South - Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South America where rice is cooked in a seasoned broth. Depending upon the region where it is cooked - meat, fish, vegetables, nuts are added to pilaf. Bulgur wheat / quinoa can replace rice for healthy versions. This nutrient, quick quinoa pilaf that I found at wholefoods website is the western version of it. If you find it bland, serve it with a spicy accompaniment.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
2 tsp olive oil  
1 small red onion, minced 
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained 
1 cup water / vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Method:
* Heat oil in a medium pot / pan and add onions to it. Cook on low flame, stirring often, until softened. 
* Rinse quinoa well to remove the coating and drain. Add quinoa and toast for few seconds. Stir in water / broth and salt and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cranberries, cover again and continue to cook until liquid is completely absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes more. Toss with almonds and serve.
For a quicker option, quinoa can be cooked in a pressure cooker and then added to the sauteed onion.



Logo courtesy : Preeti


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