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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Waldorf Salad

I am here with a cool, crisp, summer salad though we are still a season away from our summer. :) Waldorf salad happens to be light, refreshing and especially an apt one for the sultry summer months. Prepared with fresh ingredients, it can be put together in around 5 minutes and can be served as an appetizer or a light meal. Its name comes after the Waldorf hotel, New York city where it was first created during the late 19th century. After the merger with hotel Astoria in 1897, the hotel has been since renamed as Waldorf - Astoria. The original recipe was supposedly an experiment by maitre d'hotel at Waldorf, Oscar Tschirky . Though there are several variations of this salad now, the original version had fresh apples, celery and walnuts with a mayonnaise dressing, served on a bed of lettuce.

There are many variations of the Waldorf salad now and one can adapt it to their personal preferences, by adding or omitting ingredients. Some even add grapes / dried fruits / meat. And if mayonnaise is not preferred, it can be replaced with yogurt / sour cream as I have done here.

Sweet, juicy apples, the crunchy nuts, sharp celery and the cool, crisp lettuce with a peppery yogurt - lemon dressing together truly made a delightful meal and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Adjust the quantities of the ingredients as needed for more servings. And if you are a mayonnaise eater, then use it in place of yogurt. I had prepared a single serving for my lunch today and so just shredded the lettuce and tossed it along with the other ingredients.
1 cup Shredded lettuce / lettuce
2 - 3 Tbsp diced celery
1 cup cored and chopped apple
2 Tbsp roughly chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp Yogurt
1 Tsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

* Combine the shredded lettuce, celery, apple and walnuts in a salad bowl. Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper, add to the bowl and toss well. 
* If planning to serve on a bed of fresh lettuce, don't shred lettuce. Mix all the other ingredients and serve on the lettuce leaves.

This is my Day 3 post of Blogging Marathon #26, under the theme "Soups and Salads". Check what other marathoners are cooking during this BM#26.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Sixteen Bean Soup

I was planning to go with cream of "some veggie" soup but at the last moment switched to this bean soup, as I had to clear the leftover bean soup mix from my pantry. Earlier I had prepared this soup in different ways but this time, I used the recipe printed on the bean packet, that yielded a hearty soup. This was one of the Hurst bean bags I won as part of the raffle of Susan's "MLLA - My Legume Love Affair" event. Each bean bag came with a recipe printed on them and a packet of seasoning. However I decided to let go the seasoning after going through the ingredients list. It had red food color and smoked flavor. I was sure that no one at my home would prefer the smoked flavor and besides I have this paranoia with food colors, especially the red one ever since I read somewhere that one variety use bugs to get that color. Instead I went with a vegetable bouillon and some tomato sauce that I was planning to use up by this week. And so a preferred seasoning or the one that came along with the bean bag can be used.
If this mixed bean bag is unavailable in your area, just mix and match the beans from your pantry and create your own. For an idea, you can go with any of the following - large / baby lima beans, green /yellow split peas, garbanzo, white / red kidney beans, peas, cranberry bean, black beans, navy beans, lentils, black eyed peas, northern, white bean, pink bean and red beans.

Ingredients: ( 3- 4 servings)
1 cup mixed beans
1 Tbsp oil
One onion, finely minced
1/2 cup carrot diced
1/2 cup celery diced
3/4 cup can, diced or stewed tomatoes
Salt, pepper and chili powder as preferred
Seasoning of your choice

* Soak the beans overnight in water. Drain the water used for soaking in the morning and cook beans until tender. Being an Indian, I obviously use my pressure cooker for cooking beans quickly.
* Heat oil in a pan and add onion, carrot and celery. Saute for about 10 minutes and then add the tomatoes. At this point if you would like to add any other vegetables, you can and also the seasoning packet if using. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are done (If using.) I skipped the seasoning here and went with vegetable stock and some tomato sauce instead. 
* Add the cooked beans, salt, pepper to the cooked vegetables. Add water to the desired consistency and simmer for some more time. I made it watery than the soup you see in the picture.

The result is a filling, protein rich soup.

This is my Day 2 post of Blogging Marathon #26, under the theme "Soups and Salads". Check what other marathoners are cooking during this BM#26.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vegetable - Corn Chowder

Chowder served with Potato-Cheese Bread

I had prepared chowder earlier many times and wasn't completely satisfied with the end product. When I chose to go with "Soups and Salads" as part of the BM#26 theme this week, I thought of giving it another try. A chowder recipe from a cookbook I own, named "Vegetarian" seemed very appealing because of the broccoli - cheese addition, which my family truly enjoys. And so I tried and was happy with the result though I substituted the whole milk and cream with fat free version. A rich and creamy bowl of indulgence, perfect for the winter days.

Ingredients: (3 servings)
1 Tbsp oil
1 garlic clove crushed
1 small onion, diced
1 small potato, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 - 1/2 cup broccoli florets
3/4 cup sweet corn (I used frozen. If using canned, drain before using.)
1-2 Tbsp wheat flour / all purpose flour
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock (I used a bouillon cube and added water to the preferred consistency.)
4 - 6 Tbsp grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

* Heat the oil in a pan and saute garlic, onion, bell pepper and potato for 2 -3 minutes. 
* Next stir in the flour and continue to cook for about 30 seconds. 
* Stir in the stock and the milk. 
* Adjust the chowder to desired consistency by adding extra milk / water as needed
* Add the broccoli and corn, reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are tender.
* Stir in 1/4 cup cheese until it melts.
* Add the seasonings, spoon into bowls and garnish with the remaining cheese. 

This is my Day 1 post of Blogging Marathon #26, under the theme "Soups and Salads". Check what other marathoners are cooking during this BM#26.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tea Infused Pistachio Ice Cubes

When I saw that "Tea and Pistachio" are this month's magic mingle ingredients, I thought Kalyani has outdone herself again with her theme choice. The only thought kept coming was baking something with pistachio, infusing tea. However the idea soon fizzled since neither my kids nor I consume tea / coffee and we are the ones who had to finish the baked stuff. Honestly, I even thought of letting it go this month as no interesting ideas were coming to my mind.
My husband likes to drink a non alcoholic, cold beverage at nights even during winter and at the last moment, I thought of concentrating on that area. The result is these colorful, flavored ice cubes. I had prepared plain tea ice cubes as well for iced tea and I am planning to use the pistachio ones for a nut based milkshake. My husband is away on work and so will update later after the trials. :)

Ingredients: (Yield 12 ice cubes)
3-4 tea bags
1.5 cup water
1/4 cup pistachio powder

* Bring water to a rolling boil and add the tea bags. Turn off the stove. Allow to infuse until the recommended time and remove the tea bags.
* Allow the tea to come to room temperature and add the pistachio powder. Pour it into ice tray and freeze them until solid.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ice Cream Sandwiches

I prepared a couple of vegetable based sandwiches in advance this time for blogging marathon only to come up with other posts at the last moment. So much for advanced planning. I didn't bother even to use the initially planned ones. :) I wanted to include a dessert as well in the "Sandwiches without using bread" theme and so here is this drool-worthy confection. These are perfect for kid centric parties as they can be made in advance and the assembly literally needs no time. 

Ice cream of your preference
Chopped M&M' s (optional)

For each sandwich, use 2 large cookies and about 1/4 cup of ice cream, slightly softened. Usually chocolate chip cookies / wafers are used for sandwiches and vanilla ice cream is the popular one used for the stuffing. I had run out of both and so went with shortbread cookies and strawberry ice cream though I would have preferred vanilla flavored ice cream. I used pecan shortbread cookies which are not large sized and so used about 2 Tbsp ice cream for each sandwich. 

Assembling the sandwiches:
* Leave the ice cream on counter for about five minutes to soften it. Using a big spoon, spread the softened ice cream across the flat side of one cookie.

* Place the flat side of the second cookie onto the ice cream and press gently. You can even roll the ice cream edge into chopped M&M's. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and freeze for about 15 minutes or up to a week.

This is my Day 3 post of Blogging Marathon #26, under the theme "Sandwiches without using Bread". Check what other marathoners are cooking during this BM#26.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Nylon Khaman Dhokla Sandwich

Fewer choices means less chaos to me - both personally or blog wise. There were few blogs related to Indian food when I started blogging and I could just remember who posted what and I would just hop on to the respective blog if I had to try a particular recipe that I have seen earlier there. Now the scenario is different and there are way too many food blogs. Of course, I am not complaining since one get to see a lot of variety but the thing is it is hard to enjoy blog hopping leisurely as once I used to do. This dhokla sandwich is one such recipe that I remember from my earlier recipe hunting, courtesy of an old blogger friend, Richa who is no more blogging. I couldn't let go "sandwich with out using bread" theme without these spongy dhokla sandwiches which need minimal efforts. Her recipe yields perfect textured, soft, fluffy dhoklas and this sandwich is truly a treat.

Ingredients: (2 - 3 servings)
1 cup besan / chickpea flour
1 tsp ginger - green chillie paste
1 heaped tsp sugar (I used 2 one oz splenda packets.)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp lime / lemon juice
1 tsp Eno fruit salt
1/2 cup Green chutney (Chutney made with coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chillies, salt and lemon juice.)
A mixture of 3 Tbsp lemon/lime juice, 1 Tbsp water and 1 tbsp sugar or as per taste
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 Tbsp white sesame seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida powder, 1-2 green chillie, finely chopped (I used only one as the chillie was quite spicy) 

* Sieve the besan. Combine besan, sugar, salt, turmeric, ginger - chillie paste, lemon / lime juice in a bowl. Add water and make a batter little less thinner than bajji batter. (I used about a cup minus 2 Tbsp water.) Add water gradually while making the batter, instead of dumping it once and ending up with a watery batter. Mix well so that the batter is without lumps. Add Eno's salt at the end and stir. Keep stirring as the batter froths and foams until it is mixed well. 
* Pour the batter into greased plates of dhokla stand, filling up to 3/4th of each plate. I used my plate idli stand. 
If you don't own the stand, use a cake tin and a wide pot that can hold the tin for dhokla preparation. Add water into the pot (upto one inch level) that is going to be used for steaming and put a trivet in it. Grease the cake tin and pour the batter in it. Place the tin on the trivet, cover the pot and steam.

* Steam until the dhoklas are cooked through, about 18 - 20 minutes. I placed the stand in a pressure cooker with out the weight on, as we steam idlis. Insert a tooth pick or a fork into the dhoklas to check whether they are done. Let cool a bit and run a spoon around the edges and unmould the dhoklas.

* For sandwich, take two dhokla slabs. Sprinkle the lime + sugar + water mixture over one and spread thick green chutney. Place another slab over it.

* Meanwhile, when the dhoklas are being steamed, prepare the tadka. Heat oil and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter add asafoetida, sesame seeds, curry leaves and then finely minced green chillies. Remove after 30 - 40 seconds or so. 
* Pour the above tadka over the dhokla. Garnish with shredded fresh coconut and minced cilantro.
* Cut into squares or diamond shaped ones or wedges. (I first cut the discs into square shaped ones for the blogging purpose.)
* Serve with sweet chutney and more green chutney if desired.

This goes to Blogging Marathon #26, under the theme "Sandwiches without using Bread". Check what other marathoners are cooking during this BM#26.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cracker Sandwiches

Cracker sandwiches are great fun to assemble and are perfect to curb those hunger pangs between meals. These sandwiches are versatile and are only limited by one's imagination. Depending upon the ingredients you have on hand or the types of crackers, cheeses / fruits / veggies / herbs / nut butters and other toppings used, you can end up with new varieties of sandwiches each time.
If you are looking for ideas to create sandwiches using crackers, websites of companies making crackers would be the best bet. They even have ideas for wine - cheese pairing. An idea or two is usually printed even on the cracker boxes. You can go with open faced sandwiches or fit those toppings between two crackers. It would be convenient to finish off them in a single bite or two and so, don't go overboard with the layers of toppings. Among the large varieties of sandwiches you can create, here are a few that I prepared today.

There are a large variety of crackers available in the market. I went with Triscuit plain and Ritz salt crackers for today.
1. Triscuit cracker with pear and mustard (My daughter's favorite. Or go with chocolate sauce / honey.)
2. Creamy peanut butter and berries. 
3. Cracker with tomato, cheese and pesto / green chutney. Or omit the pesto/chutney and place the cracker, cheese and tomato in the microwave to melt the cheese and sprinkle some freshly cracked pepper.
4. Triscuit cracker with a cucumber slice, topped with crumbled feta cheese and roasted bell pepper. Or substitute bell pepper with an olive. Even feta can be replaced with paneer.
5. Cracker with hazelnut - chocolate spread and banana slice.
6. Triscuit cracker with cheddar cheese, apple and honey. 

As said above, they can be served open faced or covered with another cracker. This goes to Blogging Marathon #26, under the theme "Sandwiches without using Bread". 
Check what other marathoners are cooking during this BM#26.