Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home grown for my mom's birthday!

a herbal bouquet from my garden

This tuesday was my mom's birthday. I usually cook something nice to make that day special, a wonderful cook as she was. I knew I was going to make something light this time as all our stomachs needed a break from eating too much as we had invited friends for a barbecue on the weekend and like always I had prepared too much and we were left with enough for the next day as well. But until her birthday I really didn't now what. Then, it so happened that I went with sunnyboy to have a look at our kitchen garden in the afternoon and realised that we could make something nice with the potatoes waiting to be digged out, as my mom would have been so proud of me - of my first potatoes.
Both of us got our gloves, sunny boy has got his from his aunt who keeps buying all kinds of fancy things for him everytime she comes. It was uttermost pleasure for both of us to take them out of the earth and collect them in our bowl. Every time sunnyboy found one, he would scream with excitement "here's one more!...". We just dug out one plant for this and we still have nine. Yipeeeeee!
I couldn't believe that planting them so spontaneously end of March (or was it April?!....don't remember, need to note it down next time) actually gave results. I had planted an early potato variety and they came through without any diseases. I think they will be the only ones in my garden without any diseases this year, as I found signs of tomato blight on a couple of my still green tomatoes today. I removed those I found. My zucchini, just like my Hokaido pumpkin, are suffering from mildew now. Luckily we have had enough Zucchinis and so far they don't seem to be minding the mildew on the leaves. But the pumpkins on the plant seem to have stopped growing and no new ones are comig either. I'll have maybe five pumpkins this year of which only three would be the normal good size. I think for a pumpkin it seems too little. But the mildew is getting stronger and stronger even though I have already sprayed a lot of baking powder on the leaves. Initially it seemd to help a lot but not anymore and I don't wish to use any chemicals.
But hubby says five is not bad from a plant, more than enough for us. Well, he's right that way!

So, coming back to the potatoes. I washed them and scrubbed them clean. I didn't need to peal them as the skin looked so fresh and thin. I prepared them along with the zucchini from our kitchen garden. And we ate them along with a simple daal, rice and an avocado guacamole made with cucumber instead of the onion in it usually.

Sukhi Aaloo ki sabzi (Potatoes sauteed with veggies)
Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

6 -8 small early potatoes, skin scrubbed clean and cubed
1/2 zucchini (or 1 small), cubed
3 spring onions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into squares
1 tsp cumin
1 pinch asafoetida, crushed
1 pinch coarsely ground fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp Pav Bhaji masala (Everest) or any other curry powder of choice
red chilli powder to taste
salt to taste
rapeseed oil

  • heat oil in a saute pan and add cumin and asafoetida to splutter, stir and add the potatoes immediately.
  • cook on medium heat covered, keep stirring in between
  • after about 10 minutes add spring onion, ground coriander and red chili powder stir and cook further
  • add salt in between and stir. Once done, take out and set aside covered to keep warm
  • add little or no oil as per choice in the pan and stir fry zucchini and red pepper on medium high heat till they get a golden brown colour and cooked through but still firm to the bite
  • add salt and put back the potatoes into the pan and cook further for no more than a minute (if using an electric or ceramic cooktop, switch of heat and leave on the cooktop)
  • serve warm with rice, roti or any kind of bread. We ate it with daal, steamed basmati rice and guacamole made with cucumber instead of onion.
  • Bon Appétit!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pisto Manchego and my first prize at a blog event!

It is already a very old story now, but I must share it with you. More so to thank Ivy of Kopiaste.

So, the story goes like this: I had taken part in an event (the Round up) at her blog where she also had a giveaway, a Tupperware® Chef's knife. Well, do I need to tell you that I actually won the prize through lucky draw! She sent me the knife, with registered post. I waited excitedly. Well .....we waited and waited and waited, but the knife never came, I contacted her once but we thougt that it might be taking longer, especially the registered ones do.
One day she emailed me saying that the knife had been returned back to her and was puzzled. I was not totally surprised but very irritated as it was the second packet which had been returned that very month. I even went to the local branch office and talked to them but as you know I knew nothing could really be done. I also felt sad for Ivy as she had put enough money and efforts to send it and asked her to let it be. But, she refused and was determined to send me a gift again and asked if we try with soemthig else as we both were a bit unsure if it was not for the fact that it was knife that it was returned. I agreed as she offered to send me a book. And yes, I got it! I was nervous the whole time I waited for it!

Thank you so much, Ivy!

The reasons it took me so long to post about this are manyfold. But one was that I wanted to cook something from it before posting about it and I got the book shortly before I took a break from blogging so it never came to that. So, here it is finally!

The two things I have tried from the book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tapas : Pisto Manchego which we ate together with Tortilla de patatas, also from the book.

Pisto Manchego (Spanish)

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Pisto Manchego or simply Pisto is a spanish dish made with seasonal vegetables, especially zucchini or eggplants combined with tomatoes, onion and bell peppers. The whole thing is prepared in olive oil and resembles ratatouile in some ways.

1 large Zucchini (450 g), finely cubed
1 yellow white onion (80-100g), finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, cut into squares
1/2 orange bell pepper, very finely cut into squares (both peppers together 250 g)
6 medium ripe tomatoes (~600g), chopped
a few small sprigs oregano, the leaves and tender stem parts only, chopped
1 pinch dried thyme
red chilli or cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 large, grillled and peeled long red bell pepper (sweet pepperoncini) from the jar, chopped (optional)
olive oil
flat parsely for garnishing, chopped

  • prepare vegetables as given above
  • in a large sauté pan or fry pan, heat two tbsp olive oil on high heat and sauté zucchini in it for a few minutes, reduce heat to medium high and add onion and garlic, sauté further
  • add bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes
  • add chopped tomatoes, and herbs, cook on medium heat, stirring in between, till they become tender (about 10 minutes)
  • reduce heat to medium low, stir in tomato paste, the red bell pepper, salt and spices
  • keep cooking, stirring and mashing in between till the whole thing becomes tender and thick
  • garnish with chopped parsely and serve warm with fried eggs or tortilla de patate (Tortilla Espanõla)
Tip: The pisto can also be eaten cold and tastes even better the next day.

Typically Pisto is served with fried eggs, but I saw a picture in the book where the pisto was served together with tortilla de patatas and I liked the idea and thought of trying that combination out.

Tortilla de Patatas (Tortilla Espanõla)

Tortilla de patate or Tortilla Espanõla, as called in Spain, is a spanish omelett and is a typical and well known spanish potato dish prepared all over Spain. The main ingredients are poatoes and eggs and optionally yellow onion. All kinds variants with peppers, ham, chorizo etc also exist and every region and household has its own way of preparing the omlette. To differenciate it from the typical french omelett the french omlette is called Tortilla francesa. When served as a tapas it is sometimes called pincho de tortilla when cut up into small cubes and served with cocktail sticks. (source Wikipedia)

I prepared it without onion because sunny boy doesn't like onion and the way I have eaten long time back, prepared by a Spanish classmate in our German class, it was without onion too.
Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

about 1 kg potatoes, peeled and sliced or cubed (after peeling and being cut: 900 g)
1 cup olive oil
4-6 medium eggs, slightly beaten with salt to taste

  • heat oil in a fry pan and add all the potato slices so they are more or less covered in oil and fry till that they get cooked but not turn crisp or brown
  • take them out and drain the potatoes over kitchen roll, dab them with the paper roll if neccesary
  • remove oil from the pan, but don't clean it or wipe it, heat it on medium high heat
  • put back the potatoes and the beaten eggs and cook covered on medium heat till the egg is no more fluid. Take a large flat plate and place over the pan so it covers the pan completely.
  • turn the pan upside down holding the plate against it, so the omlette comes out onto the plate
  • place back the pan on heat and slide the omelett back into the to fry the other side as well, till done.
  • serve warm with pisto or as a part of tapas, cut into mouth sized cubes
Note: Do not add too many eggs into the dish. The proportion of potato to eggs should be such that the potatoes should be mainly coated with eggs.

The meal was lovely! And very filling too. I liked the combination a lot and would surely try it again. I was too lazy to peel the skin of tomatoes but might actually do it next time. Despite that I found the pisto so full of flavours being full of fresh red ripe summer tomatoes, especially since the zucchini was from my own garden *wink*. Sunny boy didn't wish to eat the pisto, though. Too many veggies together, especially those without any clear shape and form are not very welcome on his plate right now. But he enjoyed the tortilla, of course!
The next day I ate the pisto cold with some toasted bread, it was heavenly! I added the remaining pisto into a casserole I made with potatoes in the evening which gave the casserole a wonderful and peppery flavour too.