Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ratatouille


Ratatouille is nothing special, I thought. But I have changed my mind now. Everybody knows it and every body who cooks has surely made atleast once in their lifetime here in Germany. I always enjoyed ratatouille, but never to the extend like this time. It never turned out so good, not even somewhere near it.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from a beautiful website of Meeta. I have made ratatouille endless number of times. Many a times it also turned out good , but one problem which I often had was everything, especially Zucchini getting too mushy and everything too watery and it just did not look so inviting to the eyes. The recipes were from different books. But this recipe from her blog, just bowled me over. You can see the amount of efforts she has put into the making and then the artistic photography, which, in my opinion, is very professionally done. The important part for me in the recipe was the method of cooking for the ratatouille, which is not entirely new to me, but I always restricted myself from using this style of cooking as it demads more oil. But, the moment the first spoon is in your mouth, you forget everything and just get lost in its melody playing in your mouth. Yes, it was THAT good!

I prepared this together with my 3 year old son. He helped me cut the carrots with a cutlery knife, but then already had aching hands -the carrots were quite thick and therefore hard to cut :)
So, here it goes:

Ingredients:
1 zucchini, diced
1 medium aubergine, diced
2 carrots, diced (of which one third were eaten away by me and my son! :D They were so very sweet)
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
2 small onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
3-4 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
a bunch of basil leaves, chopped
black pepper ( I used red chilli powder instead)
flat parsely, chopped fine
olive oil
Method:
  • In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic, onion and yellow bell peppers on high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper (or chilli) to taste. Set aside, when still crispy.
  • In the same pan, sauté diced zucchini in olive oil on medium heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set side when still crispy and have a nice golden brown colour.
  • Heat some more olive oil in the pan and sauté carrots and aubergines on high heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. At the end cover with lid, add water if required, and cook on medium flame till done. Stir in between. Set aside.
  • Add tomatoes to the pan and sauté on medium or high heat till they become tender, but do not loose shape entirely (For this preparation I preferred it this way. But, cook as long as you wish, if you prefer them to be rather soft). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put the cooked vegtables back into the pan, which were set aside, and stir once. Cook for a further few minutes.
  • Serve garnished with basil and parsely.

I had no parsely, but it just turned out superb! We ate it with rice and Pollock fish (with an MSC stamp!).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

South Indian chutneys

So that I don't have to search for these tried and tested recipes in my books, I am putting down these here:

Cococnut-Groundnut chutney

Ingridients:
1/4 cup (40 g) groundnuts, roasted and skinned
1 cup (90 g) coconut, grated
and 2 tbsp water
( or
1/2 cup dessicated coconut, grated
soaked in 1 cup water)
1/3 cup yoghurt, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1-3 green chillies (for only a taste jst add a pinch of red chilli)

Tempering:
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp split skinned black gram
6 small curry leaves
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)

a handfull of coriander leaves (cilantro), washed and chopped

Method:
  • Grind together the ingredients for the chutney with a hand blender. Add salt to taste.
  • Het oil in a small pan, let mustard and urad dal splutter, add curry leaves, switch off heat, add hing, stir and add to the chutney along with chopped cilantro
  • Serve to Indian foods, more typically idlis and dosas. Can be used along with Indian style bread sandwitches with Indian spiced veggys, Pattys or even pakoras just like green chutney.

Gun Powder

This is one of the different varieties of dry powders or Podis, as they are called in the south, served with idli, dosa or simply rice. The good thing about it is that it can be made in advance and stored in airtight glass containers for months. Whenever you require it just add a little bit of any oil or even ghee to it to bind the powder. Mix with rice, idlis and dosas, and serve. I have even tried it with toasted bread and potatoes subzi. I discovered this powder in India as a teenager through my mothers South Indian friends and I just love it!
That you can also add peanut to the powder is new to me, which I found in one recipe once. And I think that gives a good flavour too. There are very many different sorts of Podis with lots of variations. Like in some, you also add black pepper or coriander seeds or fresh curry leaves.


This is how I make it:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Urad daal, skinned
1/2 cup channa (chickpea) daal
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
3 dried red chillies, or to taste
1 big pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
oil as per requirement

Other optional additions:
1 tbsp coconut, dessicated
1 tbsp curry leaves, roasted on medium heat
1/2 inch piece jagery,
(or 1 tsp sugar)


Method:
  • Roast separately the daals, sesame and peanuts, red chillies, corry leaves one after the other on medium heat until you smell the flavour and let them cool down on a plate
  • Grind everything together in a coffee mill or any dry grinder
  • Once cooled down completely on a large plate store in an airtight glass jar
  • Before serving, add a few teaspoons of podi in a small bowl or katori and add about a teaspoon of oil to bind the powder and serve with idlis, dosas, rice etc.
Another Gun powder link

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wheat flour type numbers, like 1050, 550

This numbered classification system is used in Germany to differenciate between different flour types used here, irrespective of which grain is used -wheat, rye, or anything else. The number represents the Ash mass of the flour. The number denotes in gram (g) the mineral content of 100 kg of flour after the flour is burned during ash analysis.
The higher the mineral content, in other words, the higher the number, the more outer parts of the wheat grain are present in the flour. As the outer layers are much richer in minerals than the inner endosperm. The higher the number, the darker it is and the higher is the fiber and mineral content. To make it short, the higher the number, the healthier.

Here is a table from Wikipedia on wheat flour type numbers
Ash Protein Wheat flour type
US German French
~0.4% ~9% pastry flour 405 45
~0.55% ~11% all-purpose flour 550 55
~0.8% ~14% high gluten flour 812 80
~1% ~15% first clear flour 1050 110
>1.5% ~13% white whole wheat 1600 150

This table is only a rough guideline for converting bread recipes. Since the American flour types are not standardized, the numbers may differ between manufacturers.

Ricotta Spinach Lasagna















I had a packet of Ricotta lying in my fridge. I had initially bought it for making an Indian sweet, but the amount was too much, so my hubby asked me to make something Italian with it. I did not like the idea of making pasta with it, but then one day I felt like making something with frozen spinach...and thought of "......ricotta?" I knew a recipe of ricotta and spinach, Ravioli, but neither had the time to start making this time consuming recipe nor the motivation. "Hmmm.......... A lasagna?......A spinach ricotta lasagna?? YES!!"
I'm sure all those cooking regularly know what I am talking about. Once you start using an ingredient, know its smell, texture, taste, you get more an more flexible with how to use it without having to look for recipes.

Ingredients:

Filling:
450 g frozen spinach (4 pieces of Iglo spinach)
200 g Ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vegetable stock
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch chilli powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
salt to taste (if required)

Sauce:
1 heaped tbsp all purpose wheat flour (type 405 or 550)
2 tbsp rape seed oil (or butter)
20-30 g Parmesan, grated
200 ml milk
50 ml cream
100 ml water
1 tsp vegetable stock
salt, to taste (if required)

8 lasagne plates (not requiring any precooking)
1-2 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
5-6 thin slices of goat cheese (optional)
a bunch Basil leaves, washed and chopped












Method:
  • Thaw the spinach in a bowl, covered, in the microwave with a tsp of water
  • Or : in a saucepan on the cooktop with 1/4 cup water on low heat and discard the water left after thawing
  • Stir together ricotta, mustard, vegetable stock, chilli and pepper
  • Chop the tomatoes into small cubes, mix with spinach and ricotta cream
  • For the sauce heat the oil in a saucepan, add flour and keep stirring till frothy and starts smelling good.
  • Take the saucepan from cooktop and add milk while quickly stirring with a whisk.
  • Put back on cooktop and cook while stirring regularly. Once it starts cooking, stir with a whisk constantly, reduce heat, add cream, vegetable stock and water.
  • Cook for further 2-3 minutes, add parmesan and switch off the heat
  • Wet lasagne noodle sheets with water
  • Spread some sauce on the base of a porcelain baking dish (approx. size 30 cm x 20 cm) and then place two lasagne plates next to each other. Spread the ricotta-spinach filling over it and a few tablespoons of the sauce.
  • Put the next layer of wet lasagne plates, the ricotta-spinach and the sauce and repeat the steps with the third layer.
  • Cover with the last two sheets of lasagne, pour the rest of the sauce over it, sprinkle breadcrumbs and put some slices of goat cheese on top and bake in the oven at 180 °C convection oven for 30 minutes (200°C electric)
  • Serve garnished with chopped basil
Tip:
I use a dried vegetable stock without any kinds of flavours, aromas, emulsifiers, binding agents, flavour enhancers, i.e., no Maggie and Knorr for me. I have used them before, whenever the recipe called for it and was always irritated with these totally displeasing Maggie/ Knorr taste in the food. Until I discovered that organic vegetable stocks can be a thousand times better substitutes. And that brings a world of difference in the flavour - it also tastes thousand times better, in my opinion.
You'll also find the recipe at the blog : The back burner

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sesame Bread rolls




I felt like baking some brötchen after a long time for the weekend breakfast.
The last time they had not turned out so good. I had made them for the first time then,when I had tired a mixture of rye and wheat flours. They were too hard. Don't know what went wrong, but I had experimented with the recipe and made changes. Yes, just can't help it!
This time I tried another recipe which I felt should work better and wanted to be more careful with the changes.


Preparation time: 2 hours
Baking time: 25 minutes
Temp.: 220°C (195 °C Convection)

Ingredients:

300 g whole wheat flour
100 g wheat flour 1050
100 g whole rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 packet (1 cube; 42 g) fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 - 3/8 l Leukewarm water
35 g sesame seeds, roasted
20-30 g sesame seeds for outer covering on the buns

Method:

  • Mix together all the flours, the rolled oats and salt in a bowl.
  • Make a weell in the middle and add a little leukewarm water, sugar and crumbled yeat cube into it. Let stay for a 15 mniutes at a warm place (See remark below).
  • Roast the sesame seeds and add to the flour in the bowl and knead it to bind the dough and keep aside at a warm place for an hour to rise, untill the volume of dough doubles.
  • Knead the dough again, make 12 balls and roll it in a plate of sesame seeds or press them on each ball.
  • Place on a baking try lined with baking paper or sprinkled with flour. Let it stay at a warm place for 15 minutes to rise before baking in the oven at 220°C (195° convection) for 25 minutes.
  • Serve warm or store in an airtight container after they have cooled down.
And we did enjoy them, although I need to make some changes next time. Like I would let them rise for longer. The combination was good, but I don't know if I shoud take less whole wheat to make it rise more. As from what I know whole wheat makes it more stiff. I wonder how the bakerys make the whole wheat doughs rise, which are not hard at all. I guess, I need to do some web search on that.
Note:
For those living in cold climates, to let the dough rise at a "warm place "I usually switch on the oven at 50 °C, the minimum temperature possible, and switch it off after 10 minutes or so, before I put the dough inside. Cover the dough in the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Added to answer a query:
The wheat flour type numbers: I had been wanting to write something about the different wheat flour types indicated as numbers. Infact, the reason I delayed publishing the post was that I wanted to put this info here first, but then forgot it. The link is here. And that wheat flour type 1050 is not whole wheat but the best flour next to whole wheat and helps make the bread or brötchen (buns) rise better. Usually the whole wheat breads are not made exclusively of whole wheat but contain between 45 to 70% of whole wheat flour and the rest is other flours.
So, wheat flour 1050 represents the ash mass or mineral content of 1050 g in 100 kg burned wheat flour. The ash mass of whole wheat flour is 1600.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Crannberry Scones


I found this recipe at this wonderful webpage (Joy of Baking) of Stephanie and Rick Jaworski with uncountable number of mouth watering scones recipes. There you will also find the history of baking scones.

Here is one recipe I tried which turned out superb. I have modified the recipe slightly to adjust to my needs. Otherwise the recipe is perfect.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15-20 minutes
Baking temp.: 190°C (165°C in convection oven)

Ingredients:
250 g all purpose flour
65 g (granulated) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda (I used cream of tartar baking powder instead, which also contains soda)
1 tsp baking powder
100g cold butter, cut into pieces
60 g whole rolled oats
40 g cranberries (or dried cherries)
zest of 1 orange ( I used packed orange zest instead of lemon, made a wonderful combination)
150 ml Buttermilk
Milk for brushing over the scones (Instead of the egg wash: 1 egg, 1 tbsp milk or cream)

Method:
  • In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Add butter cubes and knead the dough together with the hands till it is evenly combined, but crumbly.
  • Add the oats, cranberries and zest of orange and combine.
  • Add buttermilk and quickly knead the dough.
  • Pat into an 18 cm circle. Cut out 8 wedges out of the circle.
  • Bake in the preheated oven at 190°C (165°C in convection oven) for 15 -20 minutes.
  • I used milk to replace egg wash, which I never like because of the smell, but don't know if milk does any good
  • Serve with whipped cream. Although, typically scones are served with clotted cream (which is nothing but malai in true sense, as we know it as Indians)
Note: Next time I would like to add only half the quantity of salt to the recipe.

Bhune Aloo



I did not plan to put this up here, but this turned out so good, that I had to. And the best part is that I used so few spices with such good results. This is possible much more easily in summers here when the spring onions are growing locally and the green leaves of the spring onions are really juicy and tender.

Ingredients:

4 potatoes (medium to large), washed, peeled, diced
1 bunch of spring onions, cleaned, washed and chopped, the grens as well
1 -2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
chille powder to taste ( I added only a pinch, for my son)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp Amchur (a wonderful combination with spring onion)
1 tbsp Lime juice

Method:
  • Wash and peel the potatoes, dice and soak in little water to prevent them from turing brown
  • chop the cleaned and washed spring onion. The white into thin rings and the green into 1 cm rings
  • Depending on if you use a nonstick or a steel pan, heat 1 or 2 tbsp oil on high flame.
  • Reduce heat and add cumin, turmeric, and potaoes one after the other and stir immediately.
  • Let cook on medium heat, stirring regularly. add a table spoon of water if required now and then
  • After the potatoes are almost done, add the spring onion, the rest of the spices and salt and mix.
  • Let cook further till done.
  • Add lime juice and stirr.
Tips:
To get a nice brown colour on the potatoes,
  • the cooking should be done slowly on medium heat and do not stirr too often.
  • and enough oil should be present to prevent sticking.
  • The potatoes should have been washed in water before, as the extra starch is washed off this way.

Vegetable Pakoras

Garam Garam Pakode!

I made it last weekend for my hubby and son after they came back from their swimming classes (my son's actually!) . Now, this is one recipe where I find it hard to give measures, as I never measure for it! I have learnt it all by watching my mother and the rest is all estimates. But, I'll try to give rough measure here along with some guidelines so that you know what to expect.

Ingredients:

Besan batter:
1 1/2 cups Besan ( gram flour or chickpea flour)
salt to taste (3/4 -1 tsp)
1 tsp Ajwain seeds (sometimes wrongly called as thyme seeds, because of similarity in smell)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Amchur
chilli powder to taste (1/4 tsp- its hot for European standards)
1 tsp fennel seeds, whole or ground
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/4 tsp kala namak (black salt)
water to make a thick pasty batter

Vegetables :
all washed and dried, added to batter just before deep frying:
potao slices
aubergine slices
cauliflower florets
Other options: spinach, washed and dried; onion, sliced; Paneer, long slices (delicious!)

(~ 500 ml) Oil, for deep frying (like sunflower or peanut)

Method:
  • Mix all the ingredients for the batter to give a thick, pasty but flowing consistency. Whip it up a bit wit a whisk.
  • Cut and pat dry the vegetables. Wash the potatoes to prevent from turning brown before pat drying
  • Heat the oil in a large (3-5 liter) deep sauce pan with stable base. A wok is more suitable.
  • Check if the oil is hot (can be tested by adding a small drop of the batter, which should come up, float and give out bubbles). If yes, continue with next step.
  • add the vegetables to the batter, 6-8 pieces at a time, or as the space in the pan allows
  • Add the pieces one after the other with a spoon to the hot oil to fry in the pan on (a little more than) medium heat.
  • Turn them once with a skimmer. Depending on the temperature of the oil the time can vary. It should not turn brown too fast, or it will not be cooked peroperly inside. Too low temperatures would make it too oily
  • Once done, put on two layers of kitchen roll on a plate to drain off the oil.
  • Continue wit the next batch of pakoras
  • Serve with chutneys or sauces.

Mung Sprouts Parantha


This is one variant of using mung sprouts which I had to improvised as my hubby protested to mung salad which I love to make, where I steam the mung sprouts for short with a pinch of turmeric, add my simple home made chaat masala, chopped onion, tomatoes, some fresh cilantro, if i have it at home and lemon juice. But NO! It was too healthy for him. I guess you might know what I am talking about.

So, here is a creation which is worth a second trial. I steamed the sprouts like I mentioned above and I made the paranthas with rape seed oil (mustard), which added to the flavour a lot. I just mixed the sprouts to the usual dough while preparing it with atta (whole wheat chapati flour).
All you need is the atta, salt, spices of choice, mung sprouts steamed with turmeric and salt for 3-5 minutes with little water, if required.
I could not make these paranthas puff up so much, because of the sprouts, but they still tasted really good. If you want to know exact preparation method, here are two links: one at about.com, the other at Indian Foods link.

It can be eaten with yoghurt raita, daal or any vegetable preparation.

Apple Cake


This is a recipe of a Polish Apple Cake from my precious baking book I have. I baked it for a old colleague, also a good friend, who came to visit us with his family. We met after almost a year.
And despite my fears, it was appreciated a lot.

Preparation time: 1 1/4 hours
Baking time: 45 minutes
Baking temp.: 200°C (180 °C convection oven)

Ingredients:
The values in brackets are for a round (26 cm Ø) tin

200 g (150 g) soft butter
100 g (75 g) sugar
3 (2) eggs
4 (3) tbsp milk
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp essence
225 g (150 g) all purpose flour
50 g (30 g) edible starch (e.g., cornflour, rice or potato starch)
50 g (40 g) raisins
50 g (40 g) currents
3 (2) tbsp Rum (I took hot milk instead)
50 g (35 g) sugar
750 g (500 g) sour apple varieties (Boskop, Granny Smith)
1/2 untreated lemon
1/2 tsp Cinnamon ( I used 2 pods of green cardemom, the seeds ground)
50 g (35 g) sugar
100 g (50-75 g) chopped or slivered almonds

Method:
  1. Beat together butter with sugar till fluffy
  2. Separate egg into egg white and egg yolk
  3. beat into the buter: egg yolks, half of vanilla (essence) and milk
  4. Mix flour, starch and baking powder. Add slowly to batter while beating
  5. Wash the raisins and currents in hot water and soak in Rum or hot milk
  6. Wash, cut and peel the apples into thin small or large slices and mix with lemonjuice
  7. Mix together the raisins, apples, spices and sugar
  8. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C convection).
  9. Grease the baking try (or round pan) with butter and spread the batter over the pan with a spatula
  10. Spread the apple mixture over the dough and bake for 25 minutes
  11. Beat the egg white with the remaining sugar with clean blades of an electric beater until stiff. Add almonds caredully
  12. Spread over the cake, once done and bake further for 20 minutes on the lowest position.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Herb scones


We had these scones for breakfast this sunday along with scrambled eggs. I still have this lovely aroma of the fresh hebs in my mind. It is a wonderful recipe from my old cookbook, it being one of the first cookbooks with a lot of baking recipes. And I had made these scones before, about 5 or 6 years ago. While going through the book, I found it again. This is the original recipe with my modified version at the end. So, here it goes:


Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Oven temp: 225 ° C (convection oven: 200 °C)

Ingredients:

6 tbsp mixed fresh herbs, washed and chopped finely (like oregano, lemon balm, cress, other wild herbs)
200 g flour
50 g wheatflakes
1 tsp baking powder
1 level tsp salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
50 g butter
5 tbsp sour cream (10 % fat)
1 egg
butter for the baking tray

My eggless recipe:
6 tbsp herbs - oregano, lemon balm and mint (all from my garden), washed and chopped finely
200 g wheatflour
50 g oatflakes, soft
1 tsp baking powder
1 level tsp salt
1 pinch chilli powder
50 g butter, cut into small cubes
3 level tsp sourcream (10 % fat)
3 level tsp sourcream / schmand (24 % fat)
4 tbsp milk
butter for the baking try


Method:
  • wash and finely chop the herbs.
  • Preheat oven to 225 °C (200°C). Put butter on the baking tray.
  • Mix flour, oatflakes, salt, pepper and baking powder thoroughly.
  • put small cubes of butter over it.
  • add both the sour creams and the herbs.
  • Knead the dough and roll out 2 cm thick (1/2 ") on a flat surface with the help of some flour.
  • Cut out 12 circles and put on the baking tray. OR:
  • make 12 balls and press them flat with the help of some oil on the hands.
  • I skipped this step: whisk the egg a little bit and brush the scones with it.
  • Bake them in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Instead of the eggs I used: After about a minute, put some milk over the scones with a brush.
  • Serve warm with chutneys, or sauces or just fresh cheese.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Chocolate dessert




Preparation time: 5 minutes
3 servings

Ingredients:
For the smoothie:
2 cups yoghurt (from the fridge)
1 cup cold milk
1/2 Banana, sliced
1 tbsp haselnut spread (like Nutella)
1 chocolate muffin, cold (from the fridge)











In addition:
3 muffins with chocolate glaze

Method:

  • Mix the smoothie ingredients in a Blender.
  • Cut the muffins horizontally into two halves.
  • Take 3 dessert glasses. Put in each: the lower half at the bottom.
  • Put some fruit pieces over it.
  • Add the smoothie.
  • Followed by the other half of the muffin.
  • Decorate with another piece of fruit. and serve.
I have tried to make it as healthy and low in calories as possible. Basically this is another effort to feed my son some milk and yoghurt. And it surprisingly turned out better than I feared. But I do need to optimise it further. This was a very spontaneous idea which I just made with my gut feel.

Rhabarb Pineapple muffins



I made them like in the basic muffin recipe when Rishab's friend Sarah came to visit him along with her 1 year old brother Jonas.

The only thing to note:
I used 150 g each of rhabarb and fresh pineapple and mixed the rhabarb and pineapple pieces with the flour and then added it to the yoghurt batter. And decorated it with a chocolate couverture and a piece of pineapple.

paneer sabzi

My FIL came to visit us last weekend and brought a sealed packet of long life paneer. It has been ages that I have eaten anything with paneer here in Hamburg. And even longer since I made it myself. Atleast not since my son is born. Earlier, in summers, when we used to barbecue or were invited for one, I always made a lot of paneer and marinated it in Indian style on a skewer along with veggys to grill. Those were times....sigh! But every thing has it advantages and disadvantages, isn't it?!Well, it is not impossible now, but the motivation to spend hours in the kitchen just to make some recipe with paneer. So, when I opened the packet, I was very skeptical about how it looked. I found it much too hard. I pat dried it wih a paper towel and cut it into slices and remembered the conversation with my FIL from the last weekend where I told him that I had once tried a readymade paneer, about two years ago, which was too hard. He said that if I fry it nicely it will turn soft. But I was still a bit skeptical. I always found frying paneer very cumbersome and difficult. All the time it would stick to the base and by the time I could turn it around it would have a dark brown layer over it and break into pieces. Atleast with the self-made paneer.
Anyways, I still was enthusiastic enough to give it a try. I'm an optimist, when it comes to cooking!

I started frying them in a generous amount of oil in my large stainless steel sauté pan, leaving enough space between them to avoid breaking them while turning. I was doing it on a comparitively high heat, and as expected some pieces of paneer started to stick to the base and wouldn't turn. I reduced heat and started to scratch the base to free it of the paneer sticking to the floor. I reduced the heat further. And only after hald a minute I found the rest of them allmoving easily and not sticking any more. And then it struck me....oh yes....what a fool I've been all the time. I had been using tooo high temperaure! So, now i know it should not more thn medium heat while fring them sohtta they get a gentle golden yellow colour.. And this was fun to do too!

So, this is my recipe, where the only thing I missed was fresh coriander (cilantro):

Ingredients:

200 g Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), sliced into 1 cm x 3 cm strips, 1 cm thick
2 small onion, peeled and cut into slices
1 1/2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices or large cubes
1 -1/2 green bellpepper, diced into large pieces
200 g crimini mushrooms, stalks removed and cleaned with a wet paper towel
1 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 pinch chilli
1 tbsp corinader powder
1 tsp pav bhaji masala
(optionally garam masala)
12 mint leaves, finely chopped
salt to taste

Method:

  • Cut the block of paneer into pieces and fry on medium heat in a generous layer of oil in a sautè pan on one side till a slight golden colour appears on them. Fry the other side till they turn soft. Set aside.
  • Sauté the mushrooms, green bellpeppers and onions together in the remainig oil on high heat. If required, remove excess oil before.
  • Reduce heat after 4-5 minutes to medium and add ginger and all the spices and salt. Stir. Cover lid and cook for a few minutes
  • Add tomatoes and paneer. Cook further and switch off the heat before the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Add mint, stir. Serve with indian bread, naan, or parantha.
We ate it with chana daal and a type of turkish or arabic flat bread, which looked a bit like parantha and a bit like naan, and a simple green salad with lemon-olive oil dressing. And I must say, it was not bad at all. I might very well try it out again, if I get a chance to buy this paneer.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Broccoli and Maccheroni with Bechamel

Today I tried out something, which I always find hard to do. Which is preparing a good white sauce. It is also commonly called Bechamel. There are of course many different versions of it with different names.
Earlier when I made it, it sometimes turned out excellent, and still so often something or the other would go wrong. Whereby it is apparently one of the easiest of sauces to make. Maybe because I do not make it so often. In fact, I avoid making it, partly because it has been a matter of luck for me, if it turns out good or not, and partly because my hubby is rather more fond of tomato sauce to any kind of pasta.
But today I was in the mood of Bechamel! And I was very much in the mood of experimenting! And the best part is, I did not look up any books or recipes. Aaaannndd... my son was with me- you ask why. Well... read on! :)

So, here it goes, pasta with my version of bechamel :

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time : 20 minutes

Ingredients:
250 g elbow macaroni
1 packet Broccoli, washed and cut into small florets
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour

250 ml of brew from the cooked broccoli (if cooked separately, add water)
1 tsp heaped vegetable stock (Alnatura, for example)
(OR: 250 ml cooked vegetable stock)

40-50 g Fresh cheese
40-50 g a soft french cheese, cut into small chunks without the skin (white mould)
40-50 g Gauda, grated
1 large Tomato, diced
1/2 pinch red chilli powder (optional; replace with ground white or black pepper)

1 tbsp mustard or rapeseed oil, or olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame seed (this was my son's idea- he came with the packet and wanted to have it in the food)
1 tbsp parsely, finely chopped


Method:
  • Cook macaroni in boiling water with salt. After about 4 -5 mniutes add broccoli. Cook for further 5 minutes or until done.
  • OR : cook them separately. Use very little water for broccoli.
  • Rinse broccoli with cold water to retain the frsh green colour.
  • Keep the brew from Broccoli (if using separately) after it is done in a bowl
  • For the white sauce (Bechamel) heat the butter on medium heat, add flour and stir till golden brown in colour (a crucial step) don't let it burn. Keep a whisk at hand.
  • Remove from the stove and immediately add the brew(+ water) and stir vigorously and quickly with a whisk to mix.
  • Put back on the cooktop, add the veg. stock, and whisk. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook further while stirring continuously (Important!).
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook further for 3 minutes on medium heat.
  • While whisking further, add slowly, fresh cheese, french cheese and Gauda. Whisk till everything melts.
  • Switch off heat. Add a pinch of pepper, white or black, as per liking. This time I used not even a pinch of red chilli powder. Stir. Keep aside.
  • heat oil in a sauté pan, add onion and sesame seeds. Stir and saute till golden brown. Mix with the pasta and broccoli. Keep a teespoonful of it as a garnish for the sauce (optional) along with .
  • Serve warm with the bechamel sauce garnished with parsely.
I relished this one so much, so it landed here in my blog collection!
I KNOW ... I KNOW... THE PICTURE IS MISSING! But we were just too hungry! :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Strawberry youghurt smoothie



Call it a smoothie or a shake, this is how I often make a strawberry drink, earlier for me and my hubby and now more often for my 3 yr. old son. Like today!

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

6-8 strawberries, washed and pat dried, cleaned of the green cap or any other blemishes
2 small tubs (300 g) Yoghurt
1 scoop of strawberry icecream (or any other)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 mint leaves, chopped finely (optional)
a mint leaf as garnish

Method:
Mix everything with a blener untill smooth and homogenous.
Pour in a glas and serve garnished with a mint leaf.

Tips:
  • Substitute the strawberries with other fruits like raspberries, blueberries or blackberries.
  • When using tropical fruits, like mango (delicious!) adjust the sugar accordingly.
  • If it is too thick, just add some milk. Yes, you can replace yoghurt completely with milk too!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Vegetable stew with black bread


This was a simple but a really tasty midday meal for me a couple of days back- the left over stew from the day before and a slice of black bread heated in the toaster for short and spread with creamcheese with herbs.
I enjoyed it to the full. The vegetables tasted even better than the day before.

BTW, I have to mention that it was my 3 year old son who gave me this idea. He insisted on cutting the vegetables and this was how he did it. He uses a sharp cutlery knife, which is quite harmless. I cut the kholrabi though and a part of the carrots and the onion of course. He does not like the onion as it irritates his eyes a lot. We had eaten it with fish made by my hubby and baked potato croquettes. That tasted good too. But I enjoyed the stew the day after so very much. The weather wa also perfect. Clear sky and sunny at 26°C and I could sit at my garden table and enjoy it.

This is how I made the stew:

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingriedients:
1 kohlrabi
3 medium carrots, rounds or large chunks
1 1/2 zucchini, lengthwise or just thick rounds
2-3 small onion, sliced lengthwise
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp, heaped, Coriander powder (seeds)
1 tsp Kitchen King from Everest, a curry spice mixture
salt to taste
1-2 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp mustard or rapeseed oil

Method:

Clean and cut the vegetables. Heat 1/2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan. Add the spices, stir once and then quickly add the vegetables except for zucchini and stir to mix on high heat for a minute. Add the rest of butter and oil and 1/2 cup water and Let cook for about 5-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring in between. Add Zucchini when the vegetables are not completely done and stir once and let cook further till done. Don't make Zucchini too mushy. They should still remain a bit firm and still retain a good colour. Switch off the heat and let it cook further for a while before serving. If you want garnish with finely chopped parsely or coriander (cilantro).

Note: I used a readymade spice mixture which is very much like any curry powder found outside India. And can be replaced with many other varieties of spice blends available in Indian shops.
Butter gives the stew a good flavor, but can be replaced with any type of plant oil or reduced in amount.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Pineapple Cake



I made this cake together with my son on my birthday. It was a friday, so he was at home and we just wanted to have some fun, so we thought of making a cake togehter, which he also enjoys a lot.
Unfortunately, when I cut the pineapple, I found that half of it was already too ripe- it showed dark greyish yellow transluscent areas in the lower half. It tasted very good otherwise and didn't show any signs of fungal infection at all. So, we used the rest of the pineapple half. It had been lying since more than 4 days in my kitchen. maybe I should have stored it in the fridge, but somehow I find it too bulky for that.
Anyways, I had a tin of pineapple at home, so I did not worry. It is one of the things which you would always find in stock in my pantry!

The recipe of the cake was basically the basic cake recipe I have.


Preparation time: 30-35 min.
Baking time: 45 min.
Temp.: 200°C (390°F) electric oven / 180°C (355°F) convection oven

My proportions for the ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 (5 oz) sugar
  • 150 g (5 oz) butter
  • 1 pk. vanilla sugar
  • 250 g (8 1/2 oz) flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into round slices or a tin of pineapple slices
Method:
  • Mix the baking powder with the flour in a bowl.
  • beat the eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla sugar together with an electric hand mixer in another bowl.
  • Add the flour to it and beat further to make the batter light and fluffy.
  • Put baking paper at the bottom of a round baking tin 26 cm), grease it and the sides with butter.
  • Put a layer of the round pineapple slices over it. Let the excess juice drip off from the slices in a colander before putting it in the cake.
  • spread the batter carefully with a spatula on the slices
  • If you wish, put some more pinaapple slices on top and press them down a bit.
  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  • Serve with 250 g (9 oz) whipped cream, flavoured with vanilla sugar and swetened with 2 tbsp of sugar.

Spaghetti with spinach



This is an easy and quick recipe which I made today after coming back from a local 3 day festival, where we had gone to after breakfast. Since it was already half past one in the afternoon, I had to think up of something quick. I had to come back home as my son wasn't feeling so well , partly because it was too hot. So, nobody was in a mood to eat the snacks which were being offered there- crepe, grilled stuff and hotdogs (I don't eat them in any case) ans things like that. And this is what I made at home and was appreciated by both of my "boys"- my hubby and my son.

For 3-4 persons
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingriedients:
300 g whole wheat spaghetti
300 g frozen spinach
100 g cooked shrimps
1/2 each of yellow and red bellpeppers, diced
1/3 tin of chopped tomatoes or 1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves, fresh
1 large piece (4-5 cm) parmesan (4-5 tbsp)
1 tbsp saurcream (schmand)
1 1/2 tsp, heaped, vegetable stock (powder)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1-2 tbsp finely chopped parsely


Method:
  • Cook spaghetti for 8-10 minutes in boiling water with some salt till done (al dente).
  • Thaw the spinach in the microwave with 2 tbsp of water in a bowl (6 -7 min.)
  • or heat in a pot with little water on the cooktop.
  • Dice the bellpeppers and tomatoes
  • Sauté the shrimps quickly on high heat in 1 tbsp of olive oil with a pinch of salt and take them out befre they get too dry. If using fresh (uncooked) shrimps, then cook for longer till they get their pinkish red colour and curl up.
  • Saute the bellpepers in 1 tbsp oilve oil on high heat
  • add spinach, stir and reduce heat to medium
  • add chopped tomatoes, thyme and the vegetable stock and stir.
  • Cook further for two minutes and add the cooked spaghetti, stir.
  • Add 1 tbsp saurcream and 1 tbsp of oilveoil and mix.
  • Grate parmesan over it and mix.
  • Garnish with a tablespoon grated parmesan and the parsely and serve