Cook's Hideout: March 2009

March 31, 2009

Banana-Walnut Bread

All the ingredients for this recipe can be combined in a food processor which makes it a perfect entry to Mansi’s BBD# 18: Quick Bread event. Bread Baking Day (BBD) is the brainchild of Zorra @ Kochtopf.
This recipe is from Vegetarian Bible by Sarah Brown. The recipe used pecans and dried apricots, I subbed them with walnuts & raisins resp.

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Bible
Self Rising Flour – 2 cups (I used 2 cups AP flour + 3 tsp Baking powder + 1 tsp salt)
Butter – ½cup, melted
Eggs – 3
Light brown sugar – ½ cup
Bananas – 3 ripe, chopped
Walnuts – 1 cup
Raisins – ½ cup

  • Reserve ½ cup walnuts for garnish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8” circular baking pan or 9”x 5” loaf pan.
  • Add bananas, flour, eggs, butter, sugar, nuts & raisins to the food processor; pulse till well combined. (I had some technical problems with my processor when I tried to turn it on after dumping all the ingredients in it; so I had to dump everything back into a bowl and use a hand mixer to mix. It was a little annoying cleaning up the mess, but the bread turned out just fine).
  • Pour into the prepared pan; arrange the reserved walnuts on the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan.

This bread tastes great toasted with some butter. I brought it to my colleague’s birthday breakfast and everybody loved it.

March 29, 2009

Tried & Tested – Tasty Palettes

I’m a frequent visitor to Suganya’s blog; for her recipes definitely, but also mostly to gawk at her snatch-from-the-monitor worthy pictures.
I have tried quite a number of recipes from Tasty Palettes before, but I have not taken pictures of them. But I made sure took pictures for this month’s Tried & Tested event being hosted by Sweatha @ Tasty Curry Leaf. Tried & Tested is the brain child of Zlamushka @ Burntmouth.

First of is Sweet Ragi Dosa. These dosas are sweet, but not overly so and my son absolutely loved them. Will be making more of these.

Lentil Fattoush: One of my colleagues was kind enough to bring me Sumac from a middle-eastern market. This fattoush turned out awesome, very flavorful and filling. The only change I made was to use avocado instead of cucumber. This will also made again.

March 27, 2009

Godhuma Rawa Halwa (Broken Wheat Halwa)

I find the broken wheat or Dalia that we get in the Indian groceries here in US is coarse and little too chewy to my taste. I love it in upma and khichdi, but halwa needs a finer rawa. My MIL was kind enough to send me some very fine godhuma rawa and that is what I used in this recipe.

Godhuma Rawa (fine cracked wheat) – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups (try a combination of water & milk or all milk for creamier halwa)
Sugar – 1cup
Cardamom – 4 pods crushed
Cashews/ Almonds/ Raisins – as per taste

  • Heat 1tbsp ghee in a pan, add the rawa and fry on medium flame till lightly roasted and fragrant.
  • While the rawa is roasting, bring water (or milk) to boil in a saucepan.
  • Once rawa is roasted to golden brown, slowing add water (milk); reduce the flame to low and keep stirring to make sure that there are no lumps. Cover and cook on medium-low flame till rawa is cooked thoroughly.
  • Add sugar and cardamom powder; mixture will get liquidy and will slowly start to thicken again. Turn off the stove once the desired thickness is reached. Stir in fried raisins, cashews and almonds. Serve at room temperature or cold.

This is my entry to this month’s JFI-Wheat being hosted by Roma @ Roma’s Space. JFI is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi.

Ugadhi Subhakankshalu

Virodhi Nama Samvathsara Subhakankshalu

March 26, 2009

Whole-wheat Pancakes

I have always used regular whole wheat flour and I was wondering why my pancakes and other baked goodies were a little dense and tasted too healthy. Until I bought this white whole-wheat flour, which planet was I on all these days?? I guess I was spending too much time in the baby food aisle that I completely missed the baking aisle. But as they say, it is better late than never and I’m so happy that I ran out of my old ww flour.

This recipe is from Vegetarian Bible by Sarah Brown.
Whole-wheat Pastry flour – 1¼ cups
Whole-wheat flour – ½ cup (Skip WW pastry flour and use 1¾ cups ww-flour)
Wheat Germ – 2tbsp
Baking powder – 1tsp
Baking Soda – 2tsp
Salt – ½tsp
Eggs – 2, well beaten
Butter – 2tbsp, melted
Buttermilk – 1¼ cups
Vanilla extract – 2tsp

  • Whisk all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk all the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until everything is well incorporated. Do not overmix.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet on medium flame; add 1 tbsp oil and wipe of with a paper towel. Pour about ¼ cup batter and cook till bubbles form on the top; about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1 minute.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup and fruit.
This is my entry to Mansi's Bread Baking Day: Quick Breads event. BBD is the brainchild of Zorra @ Kochtopf.

March 25, 2009

Vegan Tacos

Ok I said I don’t like burritos with tortillas, but I do like tacos with tortillas :-). My tacos are made with soy meat, but you can definitely use crumble tofu or cooked TVP (textured soy protein). I added readymade taco seasoning, but this can be substituted with a mixture of cumin powder, chili powder and some dried oregano or marjoram.

Great for weeknight meals and since I don’t like the fuss of wrapping in tortilla, I cook some rice; top it with the taco “meat” and all the other toppings for lunch the next day. Yumm.

6” Corn Tortillas - 10
Soy ground meat – 1 pkg (I used Lightlife)
Pepper – 1 small, chopped fine
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Carrots – 1 small, grated (Optional)
Garlic cloves – 2, minced
Tomato puree – ¼ cup
Taco Seasoning – 2-3 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Avocado – 1, diced
Grape Tomatoes – 10, halved
Scallions – 4, chopped
Lettuce – shredded
(Vegan) Sour Cream – ¼ cup

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan; add onions, peppers and carrots (if using) and sauté on medium flame till the veggies are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Add the soy meat (or cooked TVP), crumble with back of the spoon and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Next add tomato puree, taco seasoning and ¼ cup water; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes. If the mixture is too wet, cook uncovered till the extra water evaporates. Season with salt, keep in mind taco seasoning has quite a bit of salt, so adjust accordingly. Keep aside.
  • Corn tortillas are quite fragile if not warmed before hand. Heat a skillet on medium-high flame and warm the tortillas on both sides until very slightly browned and pliable. Pile all the toppings and enjoy.

This is of to Vaishali for her Its a Vegan World: Mexican event.

March 24, 2009

Vegetarian Jap Chae

This is my entry to A.W.E.D – Korea, being guest hosted by PJ @ Seduce your Taste buds. A.W.E.D (A World Epicurean Delight) is the brain child of talented DK @ Culinary Bazaar. I am lucky to have a very good Korean market not too far from us that we visit at least once a month for the fresh produce and good deals on tofu and fruit.

During my recent visit I bought some gochujang, Korean hot pepper paste to try. I already had half a package of sweet potato noodles, dang myun, that I had bought a while back. Jap Chae is stir-fried noodles with vegetables and meat. Here’s my recipe for Jap Chae.

Sweet Potato Noodles – 2 bunches
Peppers – 2, I used 1 red & ½ green
Onion – 1 large, thinly sliced
Mushrooms – 1 cup, chopped
Carrots – 1 medium, chopped into matchsticks
Chinese Broccoli – ½ cup, chopped (you can use spinach)
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Gochujang – 2 tsp
Soy sauce – 4tbsp (I use low-sodium)
Rice Vinegar – 2tsp
Sesame Oil – 1tbsp
Sugar – 2tsp
Salt & pepper – to taste
Eggs – 3

  • Cook noodles according to package directions and set aside. Sweet potato noodles are very long and hard to handle, so when cool enough to handle, cut noodles into 6" pieces.
  • Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat; add 1tbsp peanut oil, when hot and sizzling, add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds or until lightly browned and fragrant (not burnt). Add onions, carrots and peppers; sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and Chinese broccoli and sauté until all the veggies are crisp but tender, another 4-5 minutes.
  • Add gochu jang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook for couple of minutes. Add cooked noodles and stir fry for 2 minutes. Check the seasonings and adjust accordingly.
  • In the meantime, make an omelet with the eggs, cut them into strips and serve them over the stir fried noodles.

March 20, 2009

Bare Burrito

I like burritos without the tortilla because it is so much more convenient to eat out of a bowl than having to wipe your mouth after every bite, especially when eating in public. These tortilla less burritos sold as Bare Burritos in Baja Fresh and Burrito bowl in Chipotle grill are my absolute favorites. All the fixings of burrito layered in a bowl instead of wrapping a tortilla.. super convenient. Also don’t you think that bowls hold more food than tortillas??
These bowls are layered with flavored rice, beans and roasted veggies; garnished with cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa (I had none of these on hand, but they are still super good). I make them for our lunch boxes and also for last-minute guest dinners.

Long grain Rice – 1 cup

Bean Layer
Beans – 2 cups, I used a cup each of Black and pinto beans
Salsa – 1 cup, homemade or store bought, I used store bought Mild salsa
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Cumin powder – 2tsp
Chili powder – 2tsp
Salt – to taste

Veggie Layer:
Peppers – 2 medium, chopped into 1” pieces (I used green peppers, but any color pepper would taste great)
Onions – 2 medium, chopped into 1” chunks
Zucchini – 2 medium, chopped again into 1” chunks

  • Cook rice with ½ tsp dried oregano and tiny bit of salt. Cool and keep aside.
  • For the bean layer: Heat 2tsp olive oil in a sauce pan; add onions and garlic till translucent. Add beans, salsa, 1 tbsp chili pd, 1 tbsp cumin pd, salt and ½ cup water; simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  • For the veggie layer: Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat till very hot; add 1tbsp oil and the veggies; sauté them till nicely browned and cooked through. Season with the remaining 1 tbsp of cumin and chili pds. Try not to crowd the pan with the vegetables, add in single layers and cook in batches if required. Alternatively all the veggies can be grilled for that smoky flavor.
  • To serve: Spread a layer of rice, top with beans, veggies, rice, salsa and guacamole in that order. Enjoy with sour cream and grated cheese.

This is my entry to Vaishali @ Earth Vegan for her It’s a Vegan Month – Mexican.

March 18, 2009

Walnut-Raisin Flapjack

These bars are full of whole grains which makes it healthy and filling. AND they are easy and quick to make. Recipe is from Vegetarian Bible by Sarah Brown.

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Bible
Margarine – 1 cup (I used Earth Balance Soy margarine)
Honey – ½ cup
Light Brown Sugar – ½ cup
Whole Wheat flour – 2 cups
Rolled Oats – 2¼ cups
Raisins – 1 cup
Walnuts – ½ cup, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 7”x11” baking pan.
  • In a small saucepan, melt margarine, honey and sugar on medium flame.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, oats, raisins and walnuts until well combined.
  • When the margarine mixture comes to a boil, add to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • When done, remove from the oven and score into 12 pieces. Cool completely in the pan before removing the bars.

These bars are great as an afternoon treat that keeps you going till dinner. This is my entry to Sunday Snacks- Grab n Go being hosted this time around by Pallavi @ All Thingz Yummy.

Check out DK's wonderful Cranberry & Oats Bars.

March 16, 2009

Cast-Iron Skillet & Home Fries

I always wanted to buy a cast-iron skillet and I finally did. I bought a 10-inch Emerilware cast-iron skillet couple of weeks ago. It comes pre-seasoned, but the instructions recommend seasoning it before using anyway. So I religiously rinsed it with warm soapy water, dried with a paper towel, rubbed oil all over, and then popped it in a pre-heated and turned off 300°F oven. (I wish I could spend this much time on grooming myself) Once completely dry it was ready to be used.
I made home fries from Totally Vegetarian cookbook by Toni Fiore. This recipe is great for any meal, wholesome and filling.

Recipe adapted from Totally Vegetarian.
Potatoes – 6 small, chopped into 1” pieces (I used red skinned potatoes)
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Peppers – 1 small, chopped (I used 1 each of mini red, yellow and orange peppers)
Garlic – 2, minced fine
Fresh Rosemary – 1 tbsp, chopped fine
Kidney beans – 1 cup (Black beans would be great too)
Salt and pepper – to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Heat the cast iron skillet on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp oil and when hot, but not smoking, add the potatoes, preferably in one layer. Don’t move them around at this point; leave them in the pan till the bottoms are crunchy and browned.
  • Add onions, peppers, rosemary and garlic to the potatoes, mix and place the skillet in the oven. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until the onions are browned and peppers are tender.
  • Add the beans to the potatoes and roast for another 5 minutes until heated through.
  • Remove from the oven; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Any veggie can be added to these home fries, spinach, mushrooms, and zucchini make excellent additions.

March 11, 2009

Curried Rice & Bean Salad

Coming from an Andhra family, all our meals almost always included rice in some form or the other. My mom gets very concerned when I tell her that I had salad for lunch, when in reality I ate a whole 8oz. bag of greens with another 1 cups of toppings added (I don’t eat tiny salads, my salads are huge—sometimes I feel embarrassed to even open my lunch box in the cafeteria, that I sneak lunch at my desk).
So growing up salad was rarely on our menu. It was the biggest cultural shock for me when I came to US. For international dinner on my graduate school orientation, in my very early days in the US, we were served salad and pasta (with meat of course). In those days I wouldn’t touch all that “Ghas Phoos” (rabbit food for non-Hindi speaking people) with a bargepole even if I had to die of hunger. But with time I’ve become more accepting and I actually enjoy salads once in a while (please don’t talk about serving sizes here).

My mom would be very happy with this salad, ‘cos it has rice in it. This is a Friday night clean up recipe that is wholesome, filling and super simple to put together. I’m not including any measures ‘cos I used whatever I had left-over in my fridge, so change the measures and ingredients depending on what you have.

Brown & White basmatic rice – micro waved until just heated through or at room temperature
Black-Eye Peas – cooked
Shallots – chopped fine
Garlic – minced
Curry powder – I used madras curry powder
Cherry tomatoes – roughly chopped or left whole
Arugula – roughly chopped (any green leafy veggie would be good)
Lemon juice, Salt & Pepper – to taste

  • Heat some oil in a pan, add shallots, garlic and black-eye peas and sauté until shallots turn translucent; about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and salt; mix well. Remove and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add arugula and chopped tomatoes; cook till the greens are just wilted; about 3 minutes. Season with salt and curry powder.
  • To serve: layer the rice, beans and greens in the order of preference and enjoy with a squeeze of lemon juice.

This is my entry to this month’s No Croutons Required – Indian style Salads/Soups being hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen.

March 09, 2009

Beet Burger

I like beets, but they are not always on my grocery list. My DH has never had them and would never have them in the future which is reason enough for me not to buy. But I do end up buying them when they look very fresh and almost tempt me into putting them in the cart.
So that’s how I ended up with 2 perfectly plump beets in my fridge for almost a week, when I realized that I had to make something (for myself) or I would have to say goodbye to two great beet specimens.
Recipe is from “Totally Vegetarian” by Toni Fiore. The result was not your typical vegetarian burger; it’s savory-sweet (but not too sweet), delicate and crumbly. No bread is needed for this, but you would definitely need a fork.

Recipe adapted from Totally Vegetarian by Toni Fiore
Beets – 2 medium, peeled and quartered
Carrot – 1 medium, peeled and roughly chopped
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Millet – 1 cup
Whole-wheat bread – 2 slices, toasted
Wheat germ – ½ cup
Walnut pieces – ½ cup
Salt and pepper – to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Add beets, carrots and onions to the baking sheet; add 1 tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper; mix well and roast for 20-40 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
  • In the meantime, bring 2 cups water to a boil; stir in millet and cook covered on low heat for 30 minutes or until millet is fully cooked. Remove into a mixing bowl and let cool.
  • In the food processor blend walnuts, wheat germ, toasted bread cut into pieces; process until it has a fine crumb textile. Add to cooked millet.
  • When the veggies are done and cool enough to handle, process them in the food processor until finely chopped. Add to cooked millet mixture. Season liberally with salt and pepper; mix well with a spoon. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour to chill.
  • Make burgers with about ¾ cup of the mixture. I got about 16 medium size burgers while Toni made 8 huge ones.
  • To cook the burgers: heat 1 tbsp oil in a sauté pan on low heat. When the pan is hot, add the burgers. Do not touch or move them once in the pan, otherwise they will fall apart. Cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the burger), then carefully flip with a spatula and cook for another 5-10 minutes. These have to be cooked on low heat otherwise beet sugars will be burnt.

I served them with home fries for brunch and it made a complete meal. The mixture can be refrigerated until used or uncooked patties can be frozen for later use. I layered the patties with a piece of foil and froze them in a freezer bag, so I can make them whenever I have a taste for them. Actually my DH really liked them since they don't taste too much like beets. They have a nutty and a pleasant sweet-savory taste, I'm sure beet-haters like my hubby would like them.

March 06, 2009

Black-eye Peas Burgers

I have been cooking from Totally Vegetarian cookbook by Toni Fiore a lot these days. One reason being it’s a borrowed book that I have to return in couple of weeks and the other reason is the recipes are very interesting with ingredients that I have in my pantry and so I cannot stop myself from making them right away.

I like to make burgers, you know the whole mixing the ingredients with hand and making them into patties is kind of therapeutic to me. I know it sounds weird, but that’s me. I watch Rachael Ray making her meat burgers and I’m thinking to myself, I wish I could smoosh and rub vegetarian burgers like that.

Recipe adapted from Totally Vegetarian.
Black-eye Peas – 2 cups, cooked or 1 15.5 oz can, drained and rinsed
Cremini Mushrooms – 8 medium, chopped (recipe calls for 6 oz.)
Shallot – 1 medium, chopped fine
Scallion – 1, white & green parts chopped fine
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Toasted walnuts – ½ cup, chopped (Toast in a dry skillet on medium flame for about 5-6 minutes until you smell the nice toasty aroma of the nuts, don’t let them go too far or the nuts will burn)
Coriander leaves – 3 tbsp (or parsley)
AP flour – ¼ cup

  • Mash the peas with the back of a fork in a mixing bowl. Add shallot, scallions, coriander, salt and pepper; mix well.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet, add mushrooms and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add walnuts and garlic and cook until mushrooms are cooked through but not watery.
  • Add mushrooms to the pea mixture. Mix well. The mixture at this point is crumbly, but can be easily made into patties.
  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a skillet on medium heat; roll the patties in flour to coat and place them in the hot skillet.
  • Cook for 5-6 minutes or until crust forms. Flip the burgers carefully and cook for another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

These burgers can be served with or without a bun. I served them on whole-grain sandwich bread with mayo, ketchup and arugula and mini-tomato clafoutis for a filling brunch. Yum.. Recipe makes 6-7 medium size burgers. I froze the leftover patties for later use.

This is my entry to this month’s My Legume Love Affair – 9th helping being hosted by Laurie @ MedCookingAlaska. MLLA is a monthly event started by Susan @ Well Seasoned Cook.

March 04, 2009

Kale, Adzuki Beans & Potato Curry

I read an article in Vegetarian Times (March 2009 issue) that Kale and Adzuki beans are in the top 10 Super food list (# 6 & 7 respectively). Cooking kale increases its antioxidant level, but over-doing has the reverse effect. So this curry is super healthy and tastes pretty good too.

Kale is a sturdier green compared to spinach and does not cook down to a mush and as mentioned before overcooking makes it not so healthy also. This is a dry curry that goes well with rotis or rice and pappu (dal).

Kale – 1 bunch, chopped (about 3-4 cups)
Potatoes – 3 medium, diced
Adzuki beans – 1 cup, soaked overnight and cooked (I pressure cooked for 4 whistles)
Onion – 1 small
Green chilies – 2, slit
Ginger + Garlic paste (g+g)– ½tsp
Turmeric – ¼tsp
Red chili powder – ½tsp
Garam masala – 1tsp (I used Kitchen King masala)
Amchoor powder – ¼tsp
Mustard seeds – ½tsp
Cumin Seeds – ½tsp
Salt – to taste

  • Add g+g paste, turmeric and potatoes. Cover and cook on medium flame until potatoes are 3/4th cooked; about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add kale and adzuki beans, chili powder, garam masala, amchoor and salt. Cover and cook till kale is wilted and potatoes are completely cooked through.
  • Check seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.

March 02, 2009

Mini Tomato Clafoutis

For some reason I chuckle every time I say “Clafoutis “, I have no idea why, may be it sounds similar to something that’s funny.. I don’t know, but I’m chuckling to myself typing this. Well to those of you who don’t know what this funny word is: Clafoutis, is a custard-like baked French dessert that is typically made by baking fresh fruit and a batter. I used grape tomatoes instead of fruit (cherries are most commonly used) and the result was awesome; light, eggy and quiche-like.

Recipe is from Vegetarian Times magazine. These clafoutis are baked in muffin tin; they are puffed up like soufflé when hot, but drop as soon as they are out of the oven. This happens in matter of minutes, I tried to take pictures of souffléd muffins, but they dropped so fast that I don't think my pictures do justice.

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine:
Eggs - 3 large
AP Flour - 1/3 cup
Reduced Fat Milk - 1 1/2 cups (I used 1% milk)
Reduced Fat Sour cream - 3 tbsp
Fresh thyme - 1 tbsp
Grape Tomatoes - 1 cup, halved
Parmesan cheese - 3 tbsp
Salt and Pepper - to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Coat 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
  • Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in flour. Stir in milk, sour cream, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Divide half of the egg mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Place 3 tomato halves in each muffin cup, round side up, pour remaining half of the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 22 minutes more or until tip of a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool for 1 minute; unmold with a thin spatula and serve warm.
We had these for our Sunday brunch with Blackeyed Pea Burgers (recipe coming soon).

This is my 3rd entry to awesome DK @ Culinary Bazaar for her A.W.E.D - France event.


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