Cook's Hideout: January 2011

January 30, 2011

Strawberry Smoothie & a Giveaway

CSN Stores have given me an opportunity to giveaway $45 gift certificate to CSN Stores to 1 lucky winner. CSN Stores have more than 200 online stores where you can find everything from stylish swing set to cute cookware to chic lighting pieces. My personal experience with CSN stores has been awesome, they have a large selection of items and the Customer service is excellent.

You have three chances to become the Lucky winner:
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite Kitchen gadget is and what you would like to buy in near future.
  • Subscribe to Cook's Hideout RSS feed and leave a comment on this post.
  • Share about this contest on your blog or facebook and leave a comment on this post.
This giveaway is open for residents of US & Canada only. You don't need to have a blog to enter the contest. Try your luck. :-)
Giveaway will end on Saturday, February 5th at 11:59PM EST.

Now coming to the Strawberry smoothie recipe. My son loves Strawberry smoothie and this is my version using condensed milk. I bought condensed milk in squeeze bottle and that makes making this smoothie a jiffy.

Strawberries, fresh or frozen - 1/4 cup, chopped
Banana - 1/2 of a medium banana, chopped
Milk - 1/2 cup
Condensed milk - 2tbsp
Ground Cardamom - a pinch

  • Blend all the ingredients until smooth and serve immediately.

January 21, 2011

Warm Lentil Salad with Grapes

It's been snowing cats and dogs for us this winter. I've had enough of this lousy weather already and we are only 1 month into official winter (official winter in Northern hemisphere started on Dec 21st, 2010), so this is going to be one loooooooong winter. To top that of, this is our first snow season in our new home and the shoveling all that snow seemed to be fun the first couple of times, but now I've thoughts of moving back to our old apartment complex where the management took care of cleaning up everything. Well, since that's not going to happen, I'm thinking of starting to exercise a little, so I'm physically fit to do it myself and not start hyperventilating after 5 minutes of pushing snow. My 3 year old says, "this is hard work Amma", after messing with the snow for few minutes. I'm not looking forward to anymore blizzards and winter storm advisories.
Coming to the Lentil Salad: Salads are not something that I make that often. I like to eat salads from a bag for lunch or dinner, but I rarely ‘make’ salads at home. Being a typical south Indian, I think all the dishes have to be eaten with rice, which explains why I don’t make ‘salads’.
But when I saw the recipe for this Lentil salad in Vegetarian Times magazine, I know it was going to taste great and was waiting for the occasion to make it. I made this for Sunday Lunch for a few friends and I really enjoyed it (even for lunch the next day).

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine:
French/ Puy Lentils – 2 cups, sorted, rinsed and drained
Leeks – 2 medium, thinly sliced
Fresh Mint – 3tbsp, finely chopped
Parsley – 3tbsp, finely chopped
Pistachios – ¼ cup, roasted and coarsely chopped
Red Grapes – 1½ cups, cut in half
Feta cheese – ¼ cup, crumbled (optional)
Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Soak the lentils for 8 hours. Add 4-5 cups of water to lentils and bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Keep aside.
  • Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan, add the chopped leeks and cook on medium flame until the leeks are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the leeks to cooked lentils along with pistachios, chopped herbs and grapes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. Tastes great cold too.
To save time, you can cook the lentils the night before you want to make the salad and mix in the warm leeks and other ingredients just before serving.
Sending this Yummy Lentil salad over to Simona @ Briciole, who is this month's host for My Legume Love Affair (MLLA) event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

Also Sending this Salad over to Prathibha @ Chef & her Kitchen's "Only Salads" blog event which was started by talented Pari @ Foodelicious. Thanks Prathibha for telling me about the event.


January 15, 2011

Khandvi for ICC

For this month's Indian Cooking Challenge (ICC), Valli chose Khandvi, a Gujarati delicacy. This was truly a challenge for me since I've never tasted Khandvi before and looking at the recipe it seemed that it required quite a bit of expertise and practice to make them. Valli us to use either one of two recipes by Lataji or by Anupama Krishnamurthy. I ended up using both: Quantities from Lataji and technique from Anupama. Thank you all for the recipes.

Here's how I made my Khandvi:
Besan (Chickpea flour) - 1/3 cup
Yogurt (sour) - 1/3 cup, beaten
Water - 1 cup
Turmeric - pinch
Ginger + Green chili paste - 1tbsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - pinch
Salt - to taste
Coriander leaves - 2tsp
Grated coconut - 1tsp

For Tempering:
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp

  • Grease the back of a steel plate and keep ready.
  • In a small bowl, combine besan with yogurt, water, salt, hing, turmeric and ginger+green chili paste. Using a hand mixer, blend the ingredients to form a homogeneous mixture.
  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a non-stick pan, add the besan mixture and cook stirring constantly on medium-low flame. Cook until the mixture comes together and starts to leave the sides of the pan. (It took me about 20 minutes to get the right texture, I might have been over cautious and cooked on super low flame,).
  • Once the mixture is ready, pour it onto the prepared plate and spread out to form a circle.
  • Cut the mixture into strips and roll. Keep them on a serving plate.
  • For the tempering: heat 1tsp oil in a small pan, and add mustard & sesame seeds. Once the seeds start to sputter, pour over Khandvi.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and grated coconut. Serve immediately.
I have to say that my Khandvi's were not very successful. I had trouble rolling them and they started to break apart. But the taste was awesome, so I'll probably try to make them again with better results (hopefully). Thanks for introducing yet another yummy dish Valli.

January 10, 2011

Homemade Granola-Healthy Start to the New Year

Hope everyone enjoyed the Holiday season. To start the New Year on a healthy note, I’ve two easy granola recipes. I gave Granola as Holiday give-away gifts this year to my co-workers and everyone seemed to like them, so I’m glad that I took time to make some home-made granola instead of buying things that I’m not if they are going to use or not.

Quick & Easy Granola: First granola I made is extremely easy and I just followed the most basic granola formula-Grains+Seeds/Nuts+Mixings+Dry fruit+Sweetener+Flavoring. So here’s how I made this simple granola:

Rolled oats (Grains)– 4cups
Wheat Germ (Mixing) – ½cup
Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas) – ¼cup
Sliced Almonds – 1 cup
Pure Maple syrup – ½ cup
Canola Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - ½tsp
Dry cherries – ½ cup
Raisins – ½ cup

  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Toss the oats, almonds, wheat germ, pepitas with the maple syrup, oil and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until golden and crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Add the dried fruit as soon as the granola comes out of the oven and toss to combine.
  • Let cool. Keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola: When I saw this recipe in 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook, I could only think of one of my co-workers. She always has PB&J sandwiches for lunch and I wanted to make a batch of this granola just for her.

Old fashioned Rolled Oats – 1½ cups
Brown Rice powder – ½ cup, divided
Creamy Peanut Butter – ¼cup
Your favorite Jelly/ Jam – ¼ cup (I used blackberry jam)
Sugar - 2tbsp
Cinnamon - ½tsp
Water - ¼cup
Salt - ¼tsp

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine the peanut butter, sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30-60 seconds so that the peanut better is more manageable.
  • Stir in 2tbsp of brown rice flour, cinnamon, salt and oats. The mixture will be very thick and quite unmanageable at this point, just place it on the baking sheet and combine using your fingers.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 2tbsp of brown rice flour on top and work it in gently until it is completely incorporated. Try not to break the granola chunks too much while doing this.
  • Add the jam in little pieces, try to leave them as chunks or bits instead of mixing and coating the granola.
  • Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8 minutes. Stir well.
  • Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let cool and transfer into an airtight container. Store in the fridge once completely cooled.
I also made Chocolate-Cherry Granola from Nupur's blog and kept a container for myself after giving away 3 of them. Homemade granola is extremely easy, quick and very inexpensive to make. Compare them to the ones you get in the grocery store, they are fresh and not laden with preservatives and chemicals. I'll sure be making these granolas more this year.


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