Cook's Hideout: January 2015

January 30, 2015

Vegetarian White Chili with Roasted Poblano Peppers

Can you make a wild guess of what could be the scariest thing that can happen to you right now? We experienced it recently -- it's not flu or ebola virus or zombie apocalypse!!!!!!! It is losing your internet, tv and phone service for an entire DAY. WHAT??? Yes, it happened to us yesterday and everything went haywire at home. You would think the adults will be the ones most affected, but it was the 7 year old who declared a state of emergency and wanted to leave the house. His dad who was (supposed to be) working from home was more calm than the kid who gets about 1 hour (if that) of computer time every day and he looked soooo lost without it. Let me tell you, we got a lot done in this 24 hours: the whole basement looks clean now and I finally got a chance to look through all the new cookbooks I recently got free from the very friendly librarian. 
Thankfully we are back in action with all the devices up and running and fully connected. I was worried I won't get this White Chili post in time for the upcoming Super bowl XXXXIX sunday. But here it is for those of you looking to make something different for the party this weekend. 
Vegetarian White Chili with Roasted Poblano Peppers
This Chili uses white beans instead of the more traditional red or black beans, hence the name White Chili :-) This recipe is from Vegetarian Times magazine and has roasted poblano peppers that add nice smokey flavor and depth to the dish.

January 26, 2015

Thai Iced Tea (with Black Tea bags & Star Anise)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: 1 Cuisine -- 3 Dishes
Dish: Thai Cuisine -- Thai Iced Tea
For the final day of this month's blogging marathon under 'Thai cuisine' theme, I have a cold, refreshing Thai Iced Tea. I wanted to try a Thai dessert, but then couldn't get my hands on the ingredients, so after a little search I ended up on this Thai Iced Tea recipe by Giada.
Thai Iced Tea (with Black Tea bags & Star Anise)
Traditionally Thai tea is made from strongly brewed Ceylon tea. However, due to the high price of the Ceylon tea, a locally grown tea known as Bai Miang is commonly used along with added food coloring to make Thai Tea. It is flavored with either orange blossom water, star anise or crushed tamarind seed. This tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and served chilled. Evaporated milk, coconut milk or whole milk are generally poured over the tea and ice before serving to add taste and creamy appearance.

January 25, 2015

Vegetarian Thai Massaman Curry

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: 1 Cuisine -- 3 Dishes
Dish: Thai Massamun Curry
After the refreshing first course of yesterday's Green Papaya Salad, I have a spicy, sweet and tangy Thai Massamun curry today. This curry is very aromatic and flavorful and uses a variety of Indian herbs and spices. I thought the curry tasted a lot of tangy, sweet South Indian pulusu.
Vegetarian Thai Massaman Curry
If you have the curry paste already prepared and ready to go, then this dish does not take long to make. This curry is also very versatile and can be customized to ones likes and dislikes. I added some tofu puffs that I had in the freezer to amp up the protein, but regular tofu or soy chunks can also be used instead.

Massamun Curry Paste Recipe (Vegan)

Massamun is supposed to be the heartiest of all Thai stew-like curries. The curry paste used to make the curry is complex and elaborate, containing more ingredients, especially dry roasted flavors, than any other curry pastes.
Massamun Curry Paste Recipe
Even though it is a long list of ingredients for the curry paste, most of them are readily available in a well stocked kitchen or a grocery store. I've never seen fresh galangal or kaffir lime leaves in any of the stores that I go to, but luckily I found some canned/ jarred ones in Whole Foods that I picked up right away. They keep in the fridge for quite a while and are quite handy in making Thai curry pastes and other dishes.

January 24, 2015

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Vegan Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: 1 Cuisine -- 3 Dishes
Dish: Thai Cuisine -- Thai Green Papaya Salad
My theme for this week's blogging marathon is pick 1 cuisine and cook 3 dishes. Valli gave us 4 countries to choose from and I went back and forth between Arabian and Thai cuisines, but finally ended up picking Thai. So for the next 3 days I will be posting 3 different courses of Thai dishes.
Thai Green Papaya Salad (Vegan Recipe)
Today is a very famous Thai salad made with Green Papaya. My husband used to travel to Thailand quite frequently and he had nothing but praise for this Green Papaya salad. He tasted them at many street vendors and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. We were at a party in a Thai restaurant recently where they served Green Papaya salad, it looked amazing but had dried shrimp and fish sauce in it, so we couldn't taste it. But it definitely inspired me to make the salad right away at home.

January 23, 2015

Turkish Bulgur Pilaf (Firik Pilau)

I made this Pilau or Pilaf to go with the Turkish Fasulye/ Barbunya Pilaki that I made last week. The recipe is from 'The Middle Eastern Vegetarian' cookbook by Sally Butcher. The original recipe uses Freekeh is young green wheat and has been used for centuries in the Middle east. It is a versatile and nutritious grain and can be used in soups, salads, cakes and bread, as a cereal and can be used in place of rice.
Turkish Bulgur Pilaf (Firik Pilau)
After all that information on freekeh which I thought I had in my pantry, I was bummed to see I used it all. So I went to plan B and used bulgur instead. Roasted buckwheat can also be used instead of freekeh. The pilaf turned out delicious even with the substitution.

January 19, 2015

Makhani Paneer Biryani

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: Biryani of different Styles
Dish: Makhani Paneer Biryani
Here's a delicious biryani made with paneer for all paneer and biryani fans. Paneer is cooked with tomatoes, spices and some cream to make a lip smacking curry that is layered with basmati rice and then baked off (or cooked on dum) for an awesome tasting biryani that is sure to wow anyone.
Makhani Paneer Biryani
I had more than a gallon of 1% milk that needed to be used up real fast, so I made paneer flavored with cumin seeds, ground coriander, chili flakes and kasuri methi. Now that I had that in the fridge, I was looking for recipes to use it and found the recipe for Makhani Paneer biryani here. It sounded like the perfect dish to make with my homemade flavored paneer.

January 18, 2015

Jordanian Rice Pilaf (Vegetarian Mansaf)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: Biryani of different Styles
Dish: Jordanian Rice Pilaf 
For Day 2 of this week's blogging marathon, I have vegetarian version of Jordanian National dish, called Mansaf. Traditionally mansaf is made with lamb but the vegetarian version is filled with lots of vegetables. This recipe is from 'The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian' cookbook by Sally Butcher.
Jordanian Rice Pilaf (Vegetarian Mansaf)
I bookmarked almost all of the pilaf recipes from that cookbook. Some of the Middle Eastern Pilafs are quite elaborate with lots of flavors and textures. This Jordanian pilaf is one of those elaborate dishes. Rice is layered with spicy vegetable layer which is in turn smothered with some sharp creamy garlicky yogurt sauce called jameed (or laban moutboukh). According to the author, the secret of Mansaf  is the inclusion of this yogurt sauce. Jameed is made with strained yogurt.

January 17, 2015

Balehannu Halwa (Coconut - Banana Halwa)

This is the final dish I made for Sankranthi. The actual festival was very low key, but we are heading to our cousin's place this weekend for some belated celebrations. My cousin puts up a beautiful golu and she also celebrates 'bhogi pallu' for the kids.
As I was thinking of what to bring, I found this interesting halwa with coconut and banana in 'Vegetarian Cookbook of India' cookbook by Mridula Baljekar. I had bananas that needed to be used up before leaving for the weekend, so this was a perfect recipe to make good use of them.
Balehannu Halwa (Coconut-Banana Halwa)
Also the recipe uses dry grated coconut cooked in some whole milk to give the texture of fresh coconut. Finding good fresh coconut is a little difficult here, but I always have dry grated coconut in my fridge, so this is a very convenient recipe to make for me.

Kerala Vegetable Biryani (Vegetarian Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Biryani of different Styles
Dish: Kerala Vegetable Biryani
The theme for this week's blogging marathon is one of my favorite. My love for biryanis has made me try quite a few different varieties already. So when Valli had Biryani of different styles as one of the themes for this month's marathon, I knew this was my chance to try 3 more delicious biryanis and add them to my repertoire.
Kerala Vegetable Biryani
This Kerala Vegetable Biryani from Veg Recipes of India has been on my to-make list for quite a while now. This is a layered rice dish with basmati rice and spicy vegetable curry cooked in coconut milk.

January 16, 2015

Sweet Pongal (Bellam Pongali)

The second dish I made for Sankranthi is this 'Sweet Pongal/ Bellam Pongali'. This recipe is from Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin cookbook. Pongal, both sweet or savory, are traditionally made for Sankranthi.
Sweet Pongal (Bellam Pongali)

Puliyodarai (Tamarind Rice With Spice paste)

Belated Sankranthi wishes to all of you who celebrate it. I had a very low key festival this year because my husband was away on business and the kids had school and after-school activities. So it was a busy day with too much going on. But I did make tamarind rice (Pulihora/ Puliyodarai) and Chakkara Pongal (Sweet pongal) for the festival.
Puliyodarai (Tamarind Rice With Spice paste)
I tried both the recipes from Chandra Padmanabhan's 'Dakshin' cookbook. Both the dishes turned out just like the ones served in temples. My mom's tamarind rice is quite straight forward with just cooked tamarind, but this version has tamarind cooked with spices and it tasted just amazing. This cooked tamarind masala can be refrigerated and used as needed at a later time.

January 13, 2015

Fasulye/ Barbunya Pilaki (Turkish Everyday Beans) for #Food of the World

We are visiting the beautiful Turkey this month for the #Food of the World event. Turkish food happens to be one of my favorite and I'm always looking for opportunities to try new dishes. I borrowed 'The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian' cookbook by Sally Butcher from the library. As the book's name suggests it has vegetarian recipes from the Middle East and after reading through the book a couple of times, I am tempted to try almost all the recipes :-)
This Turkish Everyday beans recipe, Fasulye Pilaki, is traditionally made with white beans like navy or cannellini or Fasulye. Pilaki refers to the method of preparation: anything that is served cold with olive oil is a Pilaki.
Fasulye Pilaki (Turkish Everyday Beans)
I thought I had a can of white beans in my pantry but unfortunately I didn't, so I ended up using small pink beans in the recipe. I don't know the translation of pink in Turkish, so I'm going to stick with the Fasulye Pilaki (modified) name. My dear Turkish friend told me the name of the dish with red beans is called 'Barbunya Pilaki'But no matter which beans you use, this is a recipe with simple ingredients and delicious flavors. So try it with whatever beans you have in the pantry.

January 12, 2015

Baked French Toast with Chocolate Chips

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Holiday Specials
Dish: Baked French Toast
We all love French toast in our house. I have tried quite a few variations of French Toast recipes before, but this baked overnight French Toast recipe is something I tried recently with a friend for our Holiday brunch party.
We usually have pot lucks for most of our get-togethers and for the holiday brunch party I hosted, one of my friends suggested this Praline topped Overnight French toast by Paula Deen. She said she ate it at one of her friend's house and it was delicious. She sent the recipe over and we both made it together for the party. We actually put everything together the night before, which, by the way, only takes about 5 minutes and we spent the next 2 hours chatting :-) The next morning I baked it off in the oven, just before everyone came.
Baked French Toast with Chocolate Chips

January 11, 2015

Hot Chocolate (Using Ganache)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Holiday Specials
Dish: Hot Chocolate
I have another kid friendly drink for the second day of this week's blogging marathon. Both my kids love chocolate milk and I have been making hot chocolate for them once in a while this winter. They love it so much that they would do just about anything to drink (clean the room, finish homework -- anything at all, gets done in no time).
Hot Chocolate (Using Ganache)
I have 2 hot chocolate recipes on the blog already, one with unsweetened cocoa powder and the other with soy creamer. This hot chocolate recipe is made with ganache that can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator, so the kids can have their favorite hot chocolate in no time.

January 10, 2015

Carrot-Zucchini Bread

It has been a while I participated in Home Baker's Challenge and even this month I would have missed the posting deadline if I hadn't checked the FB updates. I remember seeing this month's bakes announcement last month and then completely forgot about it during thew holiday season. Thankfully I remembered about the challenge right on time and made this moist and delicious Carrot-Zucchini bread yesterday.
Carrot-Zucchini Bread
My son does not like carrots and avoids them like plague. Interestingly, I was looking through my blog posts from few years back and I wrote in one of the posts that my son loved carrots and added them in just about everything. It's all reversed now and he doesn't want to get even close to carrots. So the easiest thing to do is disguise it in some way, so he'll eat it.

Mango Nog (Alcohol free - Kid Friendly recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 2/ Day 1
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Holiday Specials
Dish: Mango Nog
My theme for this week's blogging marathon is 'Kid Friendly Holiday specials'. This is for Valli's Kid's Delight event being hosted this month by lovely Sandhya. For the first day, I have an alcohol free, kid friendly version of a holiday special drink, Eggnog.
Mango Nog (Alcohol free - Kid Friendly recipe)
Eggnog is a sweetened dairy based drink usually consumed during Thanksgiving and Christmas in Canada & US. It is traditionally made with milk and/ or cream, sugar and whipped eggs to give it a frothy texture. Brandy, rum or bourbon are often added. It is served with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg. It is also known as egg milk punch.

January 09, 2015

Cranberry Pachadi (Cranberry Chutney)

Cranberries are in season during the holidays and are used to make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. All the stores carry cranberries and I over-zealously bought a big bag for myself. I wanted to make some cranberry sauce for my Thanksgiving series and even found a recipe that I liked. But cranberry sauce is usually served with turkey and I was not sure which vegetarian dish goes well with cranberry sauce. So decided against making it.
Now I had the whole bag staring at me from the fridge. So I froze half of the cranberries for later use (at least they won't stare at me until I open the freezer, which is not as much as the fridge -- clever, isn't it??) Anyway I used some to make this warm cranberry cider and the rest to make this tangy cranberry chutney.
Cranberry Pachadi (Cranberry Chutney)

January 05, 2015

Sabudana Vada (Lower fat version)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Nashta Time
Dish: Sabudana Vada
For the final day of this week's marathon, I made this delicious low fat sabudana vada. I bookmarked Varada's recipe the minute I saw it and was waiting to make them. Unfortunately I ran out of sabudana and didn't get a chance to buy it until last weekend and then I made it for our evening snack this week.
Sabudana Vada
I rarely use sabudana in my cooking. Even though I love sabudana khichdi a lot, I don't make it that often. Couple of years ago a bought a packet of sabudana and when I soaked it tried to make khichdi, it turned into a big mass of goop. Not sure what went wrong but everything got sticky and lumpy. My MIL who was with us at the time, tried to resolve the situation by making vada out of the goop and I don't think that went down that well either.

January 04, 2015

Jonna Rawa Upma (Jowar Upma)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Nashta Time
Dish: Jonna Rawa Upma
For day 2 of this week's blogging marathon, I made a healthy and filling upma (porridge) with jonna rawa (broken jowar). I have been watching lot of recipes using jonna rawa on Telugu cooking shows recently, so asked my mom to send me some. Jonna rawa has a slightly coarse texture even after cooking, it doesn't get too smooth and creamy.
Jonna Rawa Upma (Jowar Upma)
I usually cook it in the pressure cooker to speed up the cooking process, but it also be made in the pan -- it will just take longer. This upma is a nutritious way to start any day because it keeps you full till lunch. I added only tomato here, but any vegetable or mix of vegetables can be added.

January 03, 2015

Quinoa khichdi with Peanuts (Sabudhana Khichdi Style)

Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 1/ Day 1
Theme: Nashta Time
Dish: Quinoa Palli Upma
We are starting a brand new edition of 'Blogging marathon' for this year today and my theme for this week is 'Nashta/ Tiffin Time'. Nashta is a hindi word that can mean breakfast or an evening snack. To me, it is a light meal taken either in the morning or in the evening to sustain you until lunch.
Quinoa khichdi with Peanuts
For the first day, I made quinoa upma with peanuts and potato. Recipe is adapted from Vegetable Platter. This dish is made almost like sabudana upma, but uses quinoa instead of sabudana/ sago/ tapioca pearls. Adding coarsely ground peanuts and boiled potato make it taste very much like the original sabudana khichdi.

January 02, 2015

Carrot Poriyal (Carrot-Kobbari Kura)

Here's wishing everyone a very Happy, Healthy & prosperous New Year -- 2015.
Hope everyone had a fun filled joyous holiday. Fun means lots of food in my book and I sure had lots and lots of fun for the past couple of weeks. After all the delicious bakes and holiday specials that I posted at the end of the year, I wanted to start the New Year with a healthy & simple dish.
Carrot Poriyal (Carrot-Kobbari Kura)
I watched this recipe on a Telugu cooking show and loved how simple it was with very few ingredients. My mom makes dry carrot curry with coconut, but this recipe uses grated carrot along with some ginger and coconut making it a little different from what I'm used to. I bought a bag of shredded carrots from Trader Joe's for a shortcut, but shredding it yourself will be a good bicep exercise :-)


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