Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cooking tip: Sweat your eggplants

Wonderful eggplants! 

I am one of those people who LOVE eggplants. I don't think I had an eggplant before college (not even eggplant Parmesan!) and honestly they are so versatile and healthy.

Cooking tip: Sweating eggplants 

So I'm ghatstly behind getting 30 posts up for the month of January, so I'm doing my best to find ways to help with cooking and baking, even if I can't get full recipes up.

eggplants in a market in India
A selection of eggplant at a local market bhaji-wala stand in India.

Tips for cooking eggplants

First, pick a good eggplant. Eggplants come in a variety of colors and shapes. Overall, look for an eggplant that is uniformly firm and shiny.

Next, for storage, the fridge isn't necessarily best. If you store it in out for a day they will actually turn out better than if they sweat in the fridge due to moisture.

Bitter eggplants have your tongue?

Next, to get rid of the bitterness of some eggplants, slice it in rings (like large coins) and lay flat. Sprinkle salt on the slices of eggplant and let the eggplant sit out for a half hour or an hour before you cook.

Sweat eggplants and get rid of bitterness by adding salt and letting them sit before cooking. Then wipe.
Sweat out bitter eggplants by sprinkling with salt and letting them sit.

When you go to cook, dab the "brown" that comes out with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. 

Buttermilk your eggplant

If you are avoiding excess salt, you can also soak the sliced eggplant in butter milk before cooking and then rinse the eggplant before cooking.

Another option is to cut the seeds out, though to some, the seeds bring flavor and you lose a good portion of eggplant if the eggplant is small like the Indian or Thai ones.

Please check out related posts on eggplants here - TONS of ways to cook your eggplant outside of "eggplant parmesan" :)

Indian Eggplant Recipes
Thai-inspired eggplant recipes
Vegan eggplant recipes!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Simple Cinnamon Rolls - 3 bites

Easy Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Simple 3 bite cinnamon rolls! These are quick and easy and since we don't let them to double rise, you can have them after dinner if you make them after lunch!
Simple Cinnamon Roll recipe - easy to follow and customize.
Easy Cinnamon Roll Ingredients

Ingredients in Cinnamon Roll Dough:

1/4-ounce package yeast (In India they're in balls, they die quickly too)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 c warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Ingredients for Cinnamon Roll Filling:

1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for pan if you don't have spray for the pan
 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans, optional
1/4 cup nutella

Ingredients for Cinnamon Roll Glaze:
5 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 6 tablespoons hot water

Directions for making cinnamon rolls

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar and set aside. If the water is too hot, you will kill your yeast!
  • Next, in a separate bowl, mix your milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add half the flour, mix until smooth
  • Add the yeast
  • Slowly add int he rest of the flour, mixing until smooth.
  • Place dough on a floured work surface and hand kneed. 
  • Put into a greased bowl and cover to allow it to rise (1-2 hours is fine)
  • When doubled, press down dough. 
  • Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. 
  • Spread melted butter all over dough (I like to use the butter wrapping)
  • Spread nutella along the 15'' side.
  • Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough, using a sieve so you don't have chunks.
  • Sprinkle toppics, such as walnuts, pecans, or raisins.
  • Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. 
  • Cut into approximately 1'' slices (you'll get around 12-15).
  • Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter or cooking spray. 
  • Sprinkle the bottom with more sugar and cinnamon. 
  • Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let sit for 10 minutes or more (up to 45 minutes)
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Make the glaze while this is baking. 
Mix melted butter and powdered sugar with vanilla. Slowly  add water until it is smooth.
Spread over still hot cinnamon rolls. Spoon extra on top as you eat them.
This is not low carb or low calorie!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Potato Peanut Poha Pohe Recipe

It is Sunday  morning and there's time to cook since I overslept my attempt to make it to mass today. Thus, my decision to make my son's favorite breakfast: yellow poha. There are a variety of poha types, including by color and by thickness. He prefers the white thin poha that, when you add turmeric, is yellow. Hence, "yellow poha."

I am told that when a Maharashtra woman was (is?) in the "viewing" stage, she'd serve this to potential suiters to show her talents. Well, for some, their mother's or maid's talents, but it is a "must know how" to cook breakfast.

What is poha?

Poha is an unhusked flattened rice. This make it gluten free. It is found in many Indian cuisines, and also in Nepal and Bangladesh.

Recipe for Poha

There are a variety of recipes, but this is a simple-ish ones. You can choose to leave out the peanuts or potatoes. I've also had it with green peas.

2 cups flattened rice
1 red onion, sliced and diced
3-4 small potatoes, boiled (peeled if you prefer, but i used thin skin potatoes and scrubbed them)
hand full curry leaves
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp hing
1 green chili
1 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp peanuts
2 tbsp oil (high heating point is good, we use coconut oil, peanut oil is also recommended)
dash of red chili powder
1 tbsp turmeric
salt to taste
1 lemon
fresh coriander for garnish
coconut powder (if you have it, or fresh coconut is fine)
diced and seeded tomatoes (if you like, I didn't this time)

Instructions for making poha or making pohe

Rinse your poha and drain the water. Sprinkle turmeric and red chili powder on to the poha. Set aside. If you like sweet. Add a dash of sugar here too. I add the coconut powder here if I don't have fresh coconut. Otherwise, you can add fresh coconut at the end as a garnish.

Make poha - On the rinsed poha, add turmeric,
chili and coconut powder

Heat your oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add in the black mustard seeds, stir and add hing. Add in curry leaves and diced onion.
Add peanuts.
When onion is translucent,  add the green chili and white sugar.
Fry up the onion, peanuts and spices

Add poha to the pan and stir well. Be sure to not let too much stick, but, it will :)

Cook 3-5 minutes. Turn off the flame and let it steam to finish cooking.

Add garnish and serve hot!

Serve poha (pohe) hot! Squeeze lime and garnish.
Buy Poha on Amazon #affiliate

What do you think of this recipe?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Simple Strawberry Rhubarb crumble

A simple strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe

The tangynesss of strawberry and a slightly sour rhubarb with a bit of sugar and oatmeal and you've basically made a nice crumble. But for those who want it slightly more exact, I have a simple and yummy recipe for you below.

Recipe Strawberry - Rhubarb Crumble

1 cup sliced strawberries
2 cups cut up rhubarb (you can used canned or frozen).
  • If you are using fresh, you can poach them in water with a dash of sugar before hand if you don't want them to be slighly crunchy
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 c butter, melted
1/2 c sugar (raw sugar works nice, but white if that's what you have also can be used)
1/4 c brown sugar 

Simple strawberry rhubarb crumble directions

Combine the melted butter and strawberry and rhubarb. Sprinkle in the raw/white sugar. Toss nicely. Add in the oatmeal.

Put the mixture into a greased baking pan.
Sprinkle on the brown sugar.
Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

In addition, I added a bit of a butter crust in the shape of "fish" per my son's request on top. See the recipe for the crust here.

Note, you can make a pie with this as well.

Parting question: Do you like rhubarb?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quick Oven Veggie Toast Bites

The bread and butter of after school snacks is likely a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But sometimes you need something a little different, yet still simple enough and filling.

Here I have sliced a french garlic loaf into small "bruschetta" size pieces. Since I don't always keep the herbs for bruschetta around, this is something that is simple and the kids love.

Ingredients for Veggie Toast Bites

French or garlic loaf bread
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic 
(you can also use garlic salt if you'd like Amazon sells organic garlic salt)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ripe tomato
1 onion (I used leek bulb)
Dried oregano
Your choice of cheese (1 slice is fine)

Great afternoon snack or as an appetizer.

Steps for quick oven veggie toast bites. 
Melt a bit of butter in a frying pan, and crush the garlic into it. Let it warm.

Slice the bread and toast it on a pan for 1-2 minutes or in the oven for 5 minutes.

Butter the bread with the garlic butter

Dice your tomato, onion and cheese and place in a bowl.
Add oregano and olive oil.
Toss lightly.

Place onto  bread and walla! You're done! If you want the cheese melted, add back into the oven for a few minutes to melt.

Yum and fun. Kids can assist in putting their favorites on the bread as well.

What is your favorite type of toast topping?

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies - Fluffy cookies

Double chocolate chocolate chip cookies

Now that I have an oven (toaster oven, but it works!) I'm doing some baking. I will be honest – baking is not necessarily my forte. I have, in the past, made cookies and forgotten to add any flour... needless to say when I took them out of the oven, they slipped right off the cooking pan. Mess galore!

But these cookies are a modified version of Martha Stewart chocolate chip cookies. And honestly, most chocolate chip cookies are almost the same recipe.

Makes 18-24 cookies, depending on how big you make them. These are the fluffy kind (using baking powder, which Martha doesn't).

Ingredients for fluffy chocolate chip cookies

2 cups all purpose flour (in India, maida)
1 tsp baking powder
1 generous spoon of cocoa powder (I use Cadburry cocoa powder here in India)
2 eggs
3/4 c butter
1/4 c coconut oil (or just use 1 c butter)
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp flax seed (ground)
½ c brown sugar
Chocolate chips to taste (I smashed up a Cadbury chocolate bar as baking chocolate is expensive and hard to find in India)

Steps to make double chocolate chip cookies

Preheat oven to 375 (just under 200 celsius works for me, I'm not a stickler for converting exacts).

Sift flour , cocoa powder, and baking powder together and set aside. Let your kids help here. Eat your heart out Martha. We mix on the floor here.

Mix together eggs, butter, vanilla extract and your white sugar. I don't have a mixer so it is slightly lumpy. It is okay. When the eggs start to change over and become stiff, slowly add in your flour mixture. Next, add in brown sugar. Mix well. Add in chocolate and flax seed.

Drop on to baking tray with a spoon.

Bake for 12 minutes or until your preferred crispy-ness.
Buy some of the ingredients via amazon (affiliate links, so if you purchase via this link, you will pay the same price, but I may receive a small percentage of sales)
No wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish or shellfish also made without casein, potato, sesame and sulfites chocolate chips :)

What's your favorite cookie to bake now that holiday baking season is over?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tangy Butter Paneer - Cottage Cheese in Tomato sauce

Recipe for a Tangy Butter Paneer


This is a simple dish with a hint of spice, and a lot of tang! My 5 year old daughter is self-declared vegetarian (okay once every few months she will eat meat if friends are), so cheese is one food that she still loves.

What is paneer?

Paneer is a cheese that some consider to be like cottage cheese. The texture is different, espeically if you buy paneer from a store. It isn't usually liquidy (whey) and can be soft to firm, depending on where you purchase your paneer.

The recipe here is by no-means "authentic" Indian, but it is extremely tasty and easy.

Ingredients for Tangy butter paneer 

1-2 cups Paneer (cut into cubes)
1 cup tomato sauce (plain, or just blended blanched tomatoes, the riper the better)
4-6 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch chunk of fresh ginger
1 tsp vinegar
(or omit the above three and use a hearty spoon of ginger-garlic paste buy on Amazon )
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red chili pepper (to taste)
1/2 c butter
1/4 c oil of your choice

Steps to make butter paneer

Prep: Blend your ginger and garlic with the vinegar.

  1. In a heavy bottom pan, melt butter and oil. When butter is melted, add in the ginger/garlic paste. You can see I don't make mine a full paste. 
  2. Once it begins to brown bring heat down to lowest setting and add in tomato sauce.
  3. Stir well and add in sugar and chili powder. 
  4. I added a bit more water to make it like a "soup" per my daughter's request.
  5. When it combines, add in paneer and simmer 5-8 minutes.

Serve with chapati or over rice.

Seen here on sauteed spinach and chicken.

The chicken and chapati were prepared by our cook... I cannot make a chapati for the life of me. :)

What's for dinner in your house?