Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vegetarian Philly Cheese Sandwich

Traditionally this sandwich is made with meat(thinly sliced pieces of steak) and cheese stuffed in a long roll. But I ate vegetarian version of this sandwich at a mall and loved it . In vegetarian version, mushrooms along with peppers and onions are added as a substitute for meat. Mushroom has that meaty taste so they go pretty well in this sandwich.

4 hot dog rolls or hogie rolls
2 tsp canola oil
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper 
1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 Jalapeno sliced into rings
4 slices Provolone cheese
Mayo or ketchup as required

First saute sliced mushrooms in a tsp of canola oil. Saute until nice and brown. To get perfect brown color spread them evenly without crowding in a pan. After mushrooms are nicely browned remove them on a paper towel. Add remaining 1 tsp oil and saute all the veggies until nicely charred but crisp to eat. Remember to add Jalapenos last while sauteing veggies. Mix together all the veggies and add salt and pepper.
Slit open the hot dogs or hogie rolls without tearing them apart. Lightly toast them in oven for few minutes. Now divide all the sauteed veggies into 4 parts on frying pan and keep cheese slices on each of them and let the cheese melt. 
Meanwhile spread some mayo or ketchup(whatever you like) on both the sides of toasted rolls. Pick up one part of veggies and cheese and arrange it on your roll and repeat for the remaining rolls and serve. Vegetarian Philly Cheese Sandwich is ready.

Quick Tips-: Never wash or soak mushrooms in water. Just use wet towel to clean the mushrooms thoroughly.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spiced Aloo Paratha

Aloo paratha is a specialty from North India. Over there aloo paratha's are eaten for breakfast with just a blob of butter. But it also makes a good lunch, brunch or dinner. I have tried to spice up the regular recipe for aloo paratha by using nice aromatic seeds and grinding them to make a spice mixture for our spiced up aloo paratha's.

6-7 medium potatoes boiled, peeled and mashed
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped Coriander leaves
1/4 tsp dry mango powder(amchur)
1/8 tsp red chili powder
2 green chili's finely chopped
Salt as per taste
Canola oil as required for pan frying
Spice Mixture
1/8 tsp Cumin seeds
1/8 tsp Fennel seeds
1/8 tsp Mustard seeds
1/8 tsp Coriander seeds
1/8 tsp Fenugreek seeds
For dough
1 1/2 Whole Wheat Flour(Approximately) + few for dusting
Water as required to knead the dough
Couple of pinches salt
1 tsp of canola oil + few for kneading

Combine wheat flour, salt, oil and water as required little by little to make a soft dough. Rub some oil onto the kneaded dough and keep aside covered for 1/2 an hour.
Toast all the ingredients for spice mixture. Toasting brings out the wonderful flavor from all the seeds. Let them cool and then grind to make a fine powder, this is your spice mixture. Now combine all the ingredients including spice mixture.
Make a medium sized ball of the dough and roll it into a 1/2 inch circle using more wheat flour as required. Stuff it with potato mixture and close the circle by bringing together all the sides and making it into a ball again. Roll this ball evenly in a circular motion dusting more flour as required so that your paratha doesn't stick. Put your rolled paratha onto a heated griddle/tawa. Cook it on both sides by spreading oil on both the sides until it's all puffed up and gets a nice brown color. Repeat the procedure for making more paratha's. This will make approximately 10-12 parathas depending on what size you make. Serve it North Indian style with just a blob of butter. It will look like any normal aloo paratha but you will get a nice kick from that spice mixture we added to the mashed potatoes.
Just a different take on a regular aloo paratha. You can also serve some mix vegetable pickle(for recipe click here) or cranberry pickle(for recipe click here).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Pickle

Pickle is a spicy Indian condiment. And this is the perfect season to make Cranberry Pickle as we are so close to Thanksgiving, fresh Cranberries are easily available in grocery stores. Cranberries are cooked down to make a cranberry sauce and served with roast turkey for Thanksgiving. But we are going to use them today in pickle. These berries are little bit tart and sour in nature which makes them perfect for pickle.

1 12 oz bag of cranberries
7 tbsp pickle masala (available in Indian store)
For tempering
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/8 tsp turmeric powder

Wash and completely dry all the cranberries (Just lay them on paper towel after washing them until dry). In a small pan heat some oil and add mustard seeds, once they crackle add Asafoetida and turmeric and shut off the gas. Let this tempering cool.  When Cranberries are  well dried pulse them in a food processor for 2-3 times. Now, we don't want a mush of cranberries just pulse it enough so that some of them are roughly chopped. Once done add pickle masala and cooled tempering. Normally you won't need any lime juice as cranberries are naturally sour but if you think you need more of that sour flavor you may add some lime juice as well. And also if your pickle masala is not spicy you may also need to add red chili powder. My pickle masala was quite spicy so I didn't add any chili powder or salt as it had everything in it. So just give it a taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bhindi Fry

Bhindi is also known as "Okra" in US and "Lady's Fingers" in other English speaking countries. It is a very popular vegetable in India and each region has it's own unique way of using this vegetable in their delectable dishes. Bhindi/Okra can be stuffed and stir fried, deep fried and used in curries, can  be used in Kadhi(which is a buttermilk based gravy) and can also be added in dals like sambar(dal from southern part of India). These were just the example of using Bhindi/Okra in variety of dishes. I once saw Paula Deen from Food Network using pickled Okra in a sandwich on her show, interesting combination right? Let's start with my recipe for Bhindi Fry. See if you can find smaller size bhindi for this particular preparation as we are going to stir fry whole bhindi with some spices stuffed in it. But if you don't find just cut bhindi into half.

1/2 pound Bhindi/Okra (washed and dried)
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion sliced
Spice Mixture
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp dry mango powder(amchur powder)
1 tsp sugar
Salt as per taste

Mix all the ingredients for spice mixture together and keep aside. Now comes the cutting part of Bhindi. Remove the top of bhindi and don't bother to cut the other slim end if bhindi is tender, if it's not you might want to cut both the ends. Now make a slit from middle but don't cut all the way through(we just need some space inside to stuff our spice mixture). After you are done cutting stuff all the bhindi/okra with our spice mixture and keep aside. If you have little spice mixture left just sprinkle it over sliced onions.
Now heat some canola oil in a frying pan and add onions. Saute for few seconds and then add stuffed okra. Stir fry until bhindi is nice and soft. Should take about 20 minutes or so. Keep sauteing it until all the sliminess is gone. Remember to cook it uncovered so that your bhindi doesn't get slimy. Bhindi Fry is ready to be served with Roti or Naan.
Quick Tips-: Wash bhindi/okra few hours before you cook or night before and spread it on kitchen or paper towel in a single layer. If you don't dry your bhindi properly it will be more slimy in texture.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lemon and Coriander Soup

It is the season of Soups :-). I love the begining of winter, it is a perfect weather for heart warming soups. And lemon coriander is one of my favorite soup. I have seen it in one of Sanjeev Kapoor's book. I have made few changes though.This soup is fragrant, light and healthy and is so easy to make. Recently I uploaded few soup photos on my facebook page and got many requests for recipes so here it goes on popular demand ;-)

3 14 ounce cans of Vegetable Broth(I use Swanson's Vegetarian Vegetable broth)
1 carrot finely diced
1/3 cup cabbage finely diced
1 small onion finely diced
Stems from 1 bunch of Coriander/Cilantro
1/3 cup of  chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
1 inch ginger grated
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp chickpea flour(besan)
1 tsp canola oil
Couple of slices from whole lemon for garnishing(optional)
Salt and pepper as required

Heat oil in a pot add onions and saute till translucent. Add ginger and garlic followed by carrots and cabbage and saute for few minutes. Add chickpea flour and saute until you get nice aroma. Pour in the broth and let it boil, once boiled add coriander stems and half of chopped coriander leaves and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Strain soup reserving all the veggies, discard coriander stems(we got all the flavor from it infused in our broth). Boil the strained soup including veggies and add lemon juice and lastly remaining of the chopped coriander leaves and turn off the gas. Serve hot in a bowl and garnish it with lemon slices and chopped coriander leaves. Give it a taste, if you think you need more lemony flavor add more lemon juice.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oven Roasted Potatoes

I love oven roasted potatoes. They are so much healthier than fries. I usually make them along with sandwiches. There are many different ways of roasting potatoes using different spices and herbs. Roasting any vegetable brings out the natural sweetness and flavor of that vegetable.  Potatoes come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Potatoes that I have used today are Russet Potatoes, which are more suitable for roasting mainly because of it's size and consistency. They don't fall apart when roasted in the oven. And also I have not peeled the potatoes as the skin adds nice texture after roasting them.

5 large russet potatoes(washed, unpeeled and cut into 1 inch thick wedges)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper as per taste

Make a marinade by using all the ingredients except potatoes in a mixing bowl and then add potato wedges. Make sure all the wedges are coated with marinade. Keep aside potatoes for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 420 F. Arrange potatoes on a oven safe baking tray.

 Roast them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until nice and brown, turning potatoes half way through roasting.
Roasted potatoes are ready to eat!!!

Quick Tips-: Make sure you clean potatoes thoroughly as we are not peeling the skin. Also cut potatoes into same size so that they cook evenly. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Colorful Pasta

Pasta is perfect for weeknight meal as it is easy and quick to make.We went to Cheesecake Factory(a chain restaurant) once and was going through their menu. There was this pasta dish that caught my eye. It sounded interesting and so I ordered that. It not only looked appetizing but also tasted delicious even though it was Sauceless. I have made it for quite a few times now by guessing the ingredients, making modifications every time to get the perfect taste. Pasta that I use for this recipe is Mezze Penne(it's smaller version of Penne Pasta). But you can use regular penne as well.

1 1/2 Cup Mezze Penne Pasta
1/2 Cup Broccoli cut into medium florets
1/3 Cup Red Bell Pepper chopped
1/3 Cup Yellow Bell Pepper chopped
1 Medium Onion Chopped
1/4 Cup Canned or Marinated Artichoke Hearts chopped
1 Garlic clove crushed
10-12 Kalamata Olives Chopped
Couple of Sun-dried tomatoes(optional)
2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
1/2 tsp Tomato paste
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Italian Seasoning(A blend of Italian Herbs)
Salt as per taste
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp dried basil
2 tbps grated parmesan cheese
Roughly chopped basil leaves plus few for garnishing

Cook pasta according to package instruction. Meanwhile heat large skillet over medium heat, pour olive oil followed by pine nuts. Fry until light brown, add crushed garlic, onions and saute for 2 minutes. Next add broccoli, peppers and saute again for few minutes until slightly tender. Then add tomato paste, artichoke hearts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes. Saute all veggies for few more minutes and then add salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning and dried basil. Add cooked pasta, parmesan cheese and chiffonade basil, mix and serve.

Serve it with oven-roasted tomato Bruschetta(Recipe for Bruschetta).

QuickTips-: If you don't have Pine nuts on hand try adding toasted and chopped walnuts.

लाल भोपळ्याचे भरीत (Pumpkin Raita)

It's the pumpkin season!!!! Well, we get pumpkin year around but October is the peak season for Pumpkins as they are harvested in fall and early winter and are also featured at Halloween. There is much more to this vegetable than just pumpkin pie :-). Not that I don't like Pumpkin pie but there are variety of  Indian preparations for this bright orange colored vegetable. And Pumpkin Raita is one of them. In Marathi we call Pumpkin as लाल/तांबडा भोपळा because of it's color. My son brought this Pumpkin from his field trip at a Farm. So will make a few dishes out of it. And Pumpkin Raita is one of them.

Laal Bhopla/Pumpkin washed, peeled, diced into large chunks-: 1 Cup 
1/2 Cup yogurt
2 Tbsp Roasted Peanut Powder
Cilantro for garnishing
Salt as per taste
1 tsp Sugar or as per taste

For tempering
1 tsp Ghee/तूप (clarified butter)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 Green Chili chopped

Cook diced bhopla into microwave or pressure cooker until soft. It cooks pretty quickly. Once cooked mash it roughly. Add all the ingredients except for tempering. For tempering heat ghee in a small pan, add cumin seeds, once they crackle add chopped green chili's. Pour this tempering over भरीत/Raita and mix. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Quick Tips-: Make sure to cook pumpkin chunks in little water whether you microwave it or pressure cook it.