Cook's Hideout: May 2008

May 27, 2008

My tiny container Garden

Here are some pics of my container garden. I have a total of 5 pots: 2 with flowers and 3 with basil, lemon basil and methi. I'm happy with the way things are going with these plants and I want to plant some more. But is it too late to plant herbs like chives or dill?? Can someone please advise.. Thank you guys..

Flower Pots



Lemon Basil


May 23, 2008

South Indian style Pepper-Seitan Curry

As I mentioned in my previous posts here and here, I have started venturing into making and cooking mock meat. I tasted mock meat for the first time at Veggie Heaven. It’s an all vegetarian Chinese restaurant that serves great mock meat dishes along with all-vegetable stir fries, noodles and rice dishes. Their menu looks like a regular Chinese restaurant menu with Taro chicken a la king, beef with broccoli, baby shrimp with chili sauce and so on. But they are 100% vegetarian and also vegan friendly dishes.

I loved their curry chicken and General Tso’s chicken. So after a little research and information from my colleague, I decided to make my own seitan at home. I bought the ingredients seen here and made my first baked seitan. It was really good. I boiled seitan the second time I made it. I thought it was better than my first try. It makes a whole lot of fake meat. I refrigerated half of it in the broth and froze the other half. I used half of the refrigerated to make this pepper-seitan curry.

Peppers – 2 medium, chopped into big bite size pieces
Seitan – ½ cup, chopped
Onions – 1 medium, chopped into big bite size pieces
Tomatoes – 2 medium, chopped
Curry powder – 2tsp (I used Priya Madras curry powder)
Chili powder – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste

  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a heavy bottom pan; when the oil starts to shimmer add onions and peppers. Cook on medium high flame, till the veggies start browning on the edges.
  • Move the veggies to one side of the pan; add seitan to the other side and sauté till they are slightly browned all over.
  • Once that is done, mix everything in the pan, lower the heat to medium; cover and cook till the onions and peppers are tender, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add salt, chili powder, curry powder and ½ cup water. Cook for another 5 minutes till all the flavors come together.
Serve with rice or roti.

This is my entry to JFI & VoW-Bell Peppers event, being hosted by lovely Pooja.

May 21, 2008

Tempeh Club Sandwich

I’ve recently started venturing into different types of soy products and gluten (seitan, I made seitan from scratch two ways: boiled & baked, will post about them soon).
I cooked with tempeh once before, but didn’t like it much. Recently I watched Toni Fiore cook with tempeh on Delicious tv and decided to give it a try. I loved it so much that I made it twice in 3 days.

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches):
For Barbequed Tempeh
Tempeh – 1 pkg (I used three grain variety)
Tamari – ¼ cup
Apple cider Vinegar – ¼ cup
Maple Syrup – ¼ cup
Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp
Ground Cumin – 1 tbsp

For the Sandwich:
Bread Slices – 8
Romaine Lettuce – 4 leaves
Red Onion – 1 small, thinly sliced
Swiss Cheese slices – 4
Russian Dressing – 4 tbsp (I mixed ¼ cup of mayonnaise with 2tbsp ketchup and 1tsp of hot sauce)
Oil/ Butter/ Margarine – for brushing on the bread

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Slice the tempeh into four pieces. Lay the tempeh in a baking dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients for bbq tempeh in a small bowl and pour it evenly on the tempeh.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check after about 20-25 minutes and if most of the marinade is absorbed, remove the foil and continue baking till tempeh absorbs almost all the marinade, but is not too dry. Remove and let cool a little bit.
  • To make the sandwich: Make an assembly line of sliced onions, tomatoes, cheese, tempeh, bread, lettuce and the spread.
  • Heat a heavy skillet on medium for grilling the sandwich. Layer the bread with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, tempeh and cheese. Top the cover slice with dressing.
  • Drizzle the skillet with little oil, swirl around and place the sandwich. Grill for about 4-5 minutes till the bread is nice and toasty. Flip and grill the other side.
  • Serve hot with a side of salad. It’s very filling and yummy!!!

This is my entry to Anupama’s Sandwich festival 2008 and to Sara’s WCC-28 TV Cooks.

May 19, 2008

Quick and Easy Sweet Potato Dessert

This dessert requires only 2 main ingredients, Sweet Potato and Jaggery. It is extremely easy to make and tastes absolutely divine and is very healthy too.
Ayurveda has suggests that jaggery purifies blood, acts as a lung protective agent from air pollution, regulates liver function and keeps the body healthy and strong of all ages. Jaggery contains Proteins, Minerals and Vitamins, which are essential constituents for the body. It is also a potent source of Iron and has a higher Iron and Copper contents than white sugar. It is also a superior product among natural sweeteners with regards to the Vitamin contents.
Sweet Potato on the other hand is a powerhouse of nutrition. Sweet potatoes are bursting with beta carotene (vitamin A), high in vitamin C, good sources of fiber and are fat & cholesterol-free.
So the combination of these two is a killer dessert that is good and good for you. I added ghee to make it a little decadent, but it is completely optional.

Ingredients (makes about 4 servings):
Sweet potatoes – 2 medium, chopped
Jaggery – ½ cup, grated
Ghee – 2tbsp (optional)
Elaichi – pinch (optional)

  • Take the chopped sweet potato in a microwaveable dish. MW on high for about 4-5 mins with little water until tender.
  • Heat ghee in a pan, add the cooked sweet potatoes and jaggery, cover and cook on medium-low flame until jaggery melts and forms a thick sauce about 5-6 minutes.
  • Add elaichi powder and take off heat. Enjoy hot or cold or at room temperature.

This year is the first time ever that I started container gardening. Until now it was sharing a balcony less apartment with room mates or living married in a light less basement.
Finally we moved to a townhouse that has not one but two balconies and I was dreaming of planting all these flowers, tomatoes, chilies etc. But after a little reality check (my son’s voice brought me back to this world), I settled with two flower pots, 2 basil plants (one regular and one lemon) and a pot with methi.
Now the million dollar question is if these plants going to survive the summer. Well that is what even I’m wondering, but both my husband and I are watering them religiously everyday (if not rains in NJ are taking care of that) and I’m planning to give them some plant food. I don’t want to leave any leaf unturned to save my plants (no pun intended). Wish me Luck..

May 09, 2008

Boppayakaya Kura: Green Papaya Curry

I’ve never cooked with boppayakaya (green papaya) until I had my son. It is supposed to be really healthy and good for nursing moms. Papaya tastes almost like sorakaya (doodhi) or bengaluru vankaya (chayote squash), but it does not have the crisp texture. Raw papayas can be a little hard to chop, but other than that they are very easy to work it. We get raw papayas in Indian stores and even in the farmers market here in NJ.

Boppayakaya (Green Papaya) – 1 medium, chopped into ½ “pieces
Green chilies – 2
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Sesame – Red Chili powder – 2tbsp*
Curry leaves – 4**
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1tbsp

  • Microwave the papaya pieces with ½ cup water until tender (it took about 6 mins in my mw).
  • Heat oil in a sauté pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds; after the seeds splutter add curry leaves and green chilies.
  • Then add the microwaved boppayakaya, turmeric, sesame powder and salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes for the flavors to mingle.
  • Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the pieces turn slightly golden brown around the edges.
  • Serve hot with rice and sambar.
Boppayakayakura also tastes yummy sautéed with the same way with just some curry powder.
* Sesame-Chili powder: Dry roast 1/2 cup sesame seeds with 6 red chilies until they are slightly golden. Grind into smooth powder with little salt. This can be used in curries with potlakaya (snake gourd), beerakaya (ridge gourd) or bottle (sorakaya gourd).

** I did not buy curry leaves for the past one and half months. Twice the quality was poor and last week, they had about 10 leaves in the packet for 99 cents. I didn't miss them too much and then I thought it was just me, but I read this at Jugalbandi and I guess curry leaves are dispensable in an Indian kitchen.

"Mexican" Pasta

I bought poblano chilies and fire roasted tomatoes to make Rachel Ray’s Chile Rellenos and I was all geared up to cook it last night. Even though it is supposed to be a 30 minute meal, a quick glance at my hungry husband and almost sleepy son, I didn’t want to make something that I was not sure about. So this Mexican chile rellenos inspired pasta dish started taking shape in my mind.

This is how I made it:
  • I boiled whole-wheat rotini (tiny swirly pasta) according to package directions; took about 15-20mins.
  • In the mean time; broiled poblanos (approximately 10-15 mins) and chopped green onions.
  • Then I sautéed the chopped onions in olive oil with garlic. After the onions are cooked, I added black beans (rinsed and drained of course), chipotle in adobo chiles, fire roasted tomatoes, chili powder, corn, salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer for 10-15 mins.
  • Poblanos were already broiled and cooling down in a covered bowl. I peeled, chopped and added them to the simmering black bean mixture and simmered for another 5 mins.
  • After that I dropped my cooked pasta in the bean gravy and oh.. my good.. was that one big pot of pasta or what. It was soo good, spicy and filling.
  • Serve hot with a generous sprinkling of cheese (I used Mexican four cheese blend).

Whole wheat rotini (or any short pasta) – 1 pkg
Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
Poblanos – 3 medium
Green onions – 2 bunches, chopped
Black beans – 1 15oz. can
Fire roasted tomatoes – 1 15oz. can
Chipotle in Adobo sauce – 2 chilies, chopped
Garlic – 1tsp, minced
Corn – 1 cup, thawed if frozen
Cheese - 1/2 cup
Chili powder – 1tbsp
Salt & Pepper – to taste

I’m sending this to Divya of Culinary Bazaar who graciously agreed to accept this Mexican inspired dish for her A.W.E.D (A Worldly Epicurean Delights) – Mexican event. It is a fantastic idea for showcasing world cuisine and I’m anxiously waiting for the round up to see what other blogger friends have come up with. Happy Hosting DK.


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