Cook's Hideout: November 2013

November 26, 2013

Semya Pulao (Vermicelli Pilaf)

BM# 34: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Cooking from Sapana's blog
Dish: Semya Pulao (Vermicelli Pilaf)
It has been a busy day and I'm very late for the 3rd day post for BM# 34. I was busy prepping for the Thanksgiving party and also finishing up the necessary shopping. Weather was lousy today, gloomy, cold and rainy -- totally uninspiring and dull.
I was planning to make one of Sapana's Chole recipe. I had already soaked the chickpeas, but by the time we came back from shopping, we were starving and I didn't have time to cook the beans and make the curry. Instead I made this quick to make Seviyan Pulao
Semya Pulao (Vermicelli Pilaf)
I make semya pulao often, but the addition of tomato, garlic masala paste is new and added lot of flavor to the pulao. Also using carom seeds in tempering is a different element. It tasted great and we had a filling lunch.

November 25, 2013

Dates & Nuts Laddoo

BM# 34: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: Cooking from Sapana's blog
Dish: Dates & Nuts Laddoo
It has been a very busy weekend. Saturday whizzed by really fast with 2 birthday parties -- my sister's where we had lunch and evening snack with cupcake cutting then a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend. Of course we were late for the surprise part since we were driving from one corner of New Jersey to another. But all in all it was a great day with loads of good food and fun with family and friends.
Dates & Nuts Laddoo
Sunday started out lazy but soon became busy with house cleaning and laundry. We are hosting our first ever Thanksgiving party this year and even though it's going to be a potluck, I'm getting nervous about the menu, quantity of food, decor and just about everything related to hosting a party. So rest of the Sunday quickly went by with menu planning, laundry folding and Kung Fu Panda watching (not sure how and when the last one got onto the list -- but it's definitely worth the time, kept my mind off the impending work).

November 24, 2013

Fuzian Stir Fry

BM# 34: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Cooking from Sapana's blog
Dish: Fuzian Stir Fry
Week 4 of BM# 34 and the theme for this week is one of my favorite themes, 'Cooking from fellow BMer'. I love browsing through blogs, but these days I hardly get anytime to do that, so this week's theme is great to focus on just one blog, pick 3 dishes and post them.
Valli paired me with lovely Sapana who blogs at 'Cooking with Sapana'. Sapana has been blogging for about an year, but already has about 400 recipes on her blog. So you can imagine how tough it was to chose only 3 dishes for the week :-) I picked dishes based on the limited ingredients in my pantry, because this past week my husband was travelling and I didn't go grocery shopping.
Fuzian Stir Fry
Sapana has a variety of recipes to choose from, both Indian and International. So for the first day, I picked her 'Fuzian Fried Rice' recipe, but instead of making a fried rice I made just the veggie stir fry and served it with rice.

November 23, 2013

Pineapple Sweet Pulao

This post has been in my drafts for exactly 9 months. It's waiting to see the light of day (or the light of your monitor) for way too long. It didn't fit any of the BM themes till now. I saw the recipe being made on one of the Telugu cooking show.
Pineapple Sweet PulaoAs the name suggests this is a sweet pulao made with pineapple chunks and basmati rice. Addition of whole garam masala is the interesting part of the dish. All in all it is a simple dish packed with flavors. Give it a try if you are looking for a different dish. 

November 19, 2013

Sweet Pea Kheer

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: Desserts with Vegetables
Dish: Sweet Pea Kheer
So for the final day of this week's BM# 34, I decided to make something different for 'Desserts with Vegetables'. I saw this sweet pea kheer on a Telugu cooking show and remember thinking to myself 'why would anyone use sweet peas to make kheer!!!!' But of course when Valli announced the themes, I knew I had to experiment with a vegetable that I have never used in desserts before, so here it is a kheer with sweet peas.
Sweet Pea Kheer
On the cooking show the kheer had a beautiful minty green color, but mine didn't turn out that color. I guess I didn't grind the sweet peas into a smooth enough paste to get that color.

November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Tiramisu (Eggless Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: Desserts with Vegetables
Dish: Pumpkin Tiramisu
If you are still thinking of what to make for Thanksgiving dessert, then here is a perfect recipe for you. I made this couple of weeks ago for our (very) early Thanksgiving party. After that party I realized that we don't really have to wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks to people we love and care about, it can be and should be done any time.
I was asked to bring a dessert and I thought something with pumpkin will be appropriate. I found a recipe for Pumpkin Tiramisu on Martha Stewart's site and I planned to make it. Recipe used uncooked pumpkin puree for layering with the lady fingers. I wasn't sure if it would be too pumpkiny, so I scratched that recipe. Then I found vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Pumpkin Tiramisu and after reading through the mostly positive reviews, I made it for the party.
Pumpkin Tiramisu (Eggless Recipe)
This dessert is a little time consuming to make, but it totally worth the effort. Pumpkin crème layer can be made at least 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use. Once the cakes are baked and the trifle is made, it needs to be refrigerated for at least 3~4 hours or overnight to set. The original recipe uses whipped coconut cream to make it completely vegan, but I used regular whipping cream since I never whipped coconut milk and didn't want to take try my luck at this party.

November 17, 2013

Eggless Carrot Cake with Ricotta cheese & Indian flavors

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Desserts with Vegetables
Dish: Carrot Halwa flavored Cake with Ricotta cheese
It's week 3 of BM# 34 and my theme for this week is 'Desserts with Vegetables'. I rarely make desserts with vegetables except for carrots and occasionally pumpkins. I would never dare to make desserts with vegetables that in my mind are meant for savory preparations. When I signed up for the theme, I was planning to get adventurous and try some desserts that were totally out of the box like potato halwa or something with beets. But when I saw my tasting committee, I decided to stay close to what I always make and so for the next 3 days I'm going to post dessert recipes with vegetables that you already know, but slightly jazzed up versions.
Eggless Carrot Cake with Ricotta cheese
I'm continuing my baking spree with the third baked goody of the week (after this Chatti Pathiri and Kolacky Cookies). I have been planning to make carrot halwa flavored cake for a while now. Initially I wanted to make cupcakes, but after researching on various recipes I ended up making it as a bundt cake.

November 16, 2013

Kolacky Cookies

I'm in a baking spree for the past couple of days. I made Chatti Pathiri, the Indian version of Turkish Baklava, yesterday for Indian Cooking Challenge and today I made these melt in your mouth European Kolacky Cookies for this week's 'Cooking from Cookbook Challenge'.
I bought some cherry pie filling a while back when I was making this Black Forest Cake. I had some leftover in the fridge that needed to be used up. I saved the wrapper from the container (Solo brand) because it had 2 recipes using the pie filling. These Kolacky cookies caught my eye because it had very few ingredients and seemed easy enough to make.
Kolacky Cookies
The filling for these cookies can be just about anything. Any flavored pie filling or jam or fruit preserves would work. Even chocolate-hazelnut spread would be great. I made a batch with cherry pie filling and the other with Nutella. I was worried that the filling would melt and ooze out after baking, but they held up pretty good and there was no melting whatsoever.

November 15, 2013

Chatti Pathiri for Indian Cooking Challenge

It has been a very eventful day today. I thought it was going to be a quite sunny day and had plans of making 'Chatti Pathiri' for this month's Indian Cooking Challenge in the afternoon. But one phone call changed it all. It changed my mood from sunny to gloomy and I didn't feel like doing anything. I knew it was a problem that could be fixed but still was antsy until it was fixed.
I gave up on participating in this month's ICC, even though I had been anxiously waiting to make this delicious baked dessert from Kerala. Then came the second phone call saying that the issue is solved and there's nothing to worry about at least for the next couple of months. It brightened my mood, but it was almost late after with sunset around 4:30PM, I had less than an hour to make the dessert and then take pictures.
I'm so glad that I did because both my husband and I liked the dessert a lot. My husband said the best part was the nut filling and I have to agree I loved the crunchy poppy seeds & nutty sesame seeds in the filling.
Chatti Pathiri

November 13, 2013

Baingan Mussalam & Mixed Dal--A tribute to Tarla Dalal

The news of Tarla Dalal passing last week came as a total shock to me. I still remember watching her cooking show like it was yesterday, but it was some 14~15 years back. She was like the Julia Child of Indian cooking, both in terms of cook books she wrote and also cooking shows on TV. She was a natural in front of the camera and all her dishes seemed very doable.
I remember pestering my mom to exotic ingredients from the supermarket after watching Tarla Dala's cooking show. She was the one who introduced baby corn to me way back in late 90s. Also paneer was a foreign ingredient in my mom's kitchen in those days and it was Tarla Dalal's recipes that made us acquainted to it. 
She will be missed immensely in the culinary world, but her legacy is going to live forever through her dishes. Her recipe videos are available on youtube and is a great online resource for all Indian recipes. As a small tribute to the diva our Blogging Marathon group is going to post Tarla Dalal's recipes today.

November 12, 2013

Wheat Rava Dosa (Godhuma pindi-rava Dosa)

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Instant Idlis/ Dosas
Dish: Wheat Rava Dosa (Godhuma pindi-rava Dosa)
For Day 3 of BM# 34, as promised yesterday I have the healthier version of Rawa dosa . I saw this recipe on one of the Telugu cooking channels and really loved the idea of using whole-wheat flour (atta) and wheat rawa to make dosas. These dosas have been on our meal rotation for a while now and get made at least once every 2 weeks.
Keeping with the Instant idlis/ dosas theme, these dosas need a soaking time of 30 minutes. Soaking is important when working with whole grain flours and rawas because soaking gives them a chance to absorb the water and cook evenly. Grated carrots or finely chopped onions can also be added to make colorful and nutritious dosas. 
Wheat Rava Dosa (Godhuma pindi-rava Dosa)
Potato curry can be used as a filling similar to masala dosas. But to make it a little more interesting and colorful, I made a quick carrot and green beans curry for the filling. This is a super filling and delicious meal when served with chutney on the side.

November 11, 2013

Rava Dosa with Onion Chutney

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Instant Idlis/ Dosas
Dish: Instant Rava Dosa with Brown Rice flour
For Day 2 of BM# 34, I have instant Rava dosa. I love Rava dosa and order it once in a while when we are at an Indian restaurant. There is a fast food place here in New Jersey that serves amazing rava dosa. But  I don't usually make them at home because of all the refined flour/ rawa used. 
So today to make our beloved rava dosa (just a tiny little bit) healthier (and not feel too much guilty), I added brown rice flour in place of white flour. There is no discernible difference in either the taste or the texture of the dosas, so I'm happy to report that rava dosas will be made with brown rice flour here on out in my house.
Rava Dosa with Onion Chutney

November 10, 2013

Oats Rava Idli (Instant Oats Idli)

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 2/ Day 1
Theme: Instant Idlis/ Dosas
Dish: Oats Rava Idli
Today we are starting 2ndvweek of BM# 34 and my theme for this week is 'Instant Idlis/ Dosas'. I'm one those lazy people who always forgets to soak dal and rice for idlis and dosas, but dreams of fluffy idlis and crispy dosas. I wake up one morning craving for a good homemade South Indian style breakfast, but alas somebody forgot make the batter(!!!!!) So most of the time I'm making these instant idlis and dosas to satisfy my cravings.
Oats Rava Idli (Instant Oats Idli)I mostly make adai (mixed lentil dosas) or pesarattu (moong dal dosas) which require minimum soaking time and no fermentation time. But for the next 3 days, I'm going to post recipes that require no soaking time to up to a maximum of 30minutes soaking time. They are great for mid-week or even mid-day idli/ dosa cravings.

Almond-Cranberry Biscotti (Eggless Recipe)

For this month's Home Baker's Challenge, Priya Suresh @ Priya's Versatile Recipes wanted us to bake some crispy & crunchy Biscottis. She gave us options to bake either savory or sweet biscottis. Since I have a housefull of sweet toothed people, I made the sweet biscotti. 
I have been planning to bake biscotti for a while now, but didn't get a chance to try them. I was excited when I saw Priya's picks for this month and I wanted to bake both sweet and savory biscottis, but couldn't find time to make the savory one. I'm glad that I was able to make the sweet version that was liked by all at home. Hopefully I'll make the savory ones too some time soon.
Almond-Cranberry Biscotti (Eggless Recipe)
The biscotti I made is a variation to the American Style Vanilla Biscotti that Priya wanted us to bake. Biscottis are Italian cookies that are twice baked. Italian biscottis are hard, but these American style biscottis are light and crunchy.

November 09, 2013

Shahi Biryani

I have started to enjoy making Biryanis, both to entertain and also for Sunday lunches. You can tell from the increase in the biryani recipes on the blog in the recent past. Once the rice and spiced veggies on done, then all is left to do is the layering part which is my favorite thing to do. The layered look is very pretty on the plate too. Also it is easy to multiply the ingredients and make them for a crowd.
Shahi Biryani
I'm on the look out for new and interesting biryani recipes and when I saw this being made on a Telugu cooking show, I promptly noted it down. This biryani has a spice paste that gives all the flavor to the dish.

November 05, 2013

Indian style Stuffed Peppers with Potato Curry

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Cooking with Capsicum/ Peppers
Dish: Stuffed Peppers with Potato Curry
After a spicy pickle and a creamy pesto recipe with peppers, I have one of my favorite childhood stuffed bell pepper dish. My mom used to make it years ago and I loved the little capsicum boats stuffed with yummy potato curry. So for this week's 'Cooking with Capsicum/ Bell Pepper' theme, even though I had another dish in mind I ended up making this stuffed capsicum curry.
Indian style Stuffed Peppers with Potato Curry
I have a paneer stuffed peppers cury already on the blog, but that is a rich dish with paneer and heavy cream. Today's dish is very homey with potato curry stuffing that is slightly spicy. Peppers in India are much smaller and the whole pepper can be hulled out and filled just like a plum tomato. But in the US, peppers are huge and so I halved them and stuffed the halves, then pan fried them until tender.

November 04, 2013

Bell Pepper/ Capsicum Avakaya

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Cooking with Capsicum/ Peppers
Dish: Green Pepper/ Capsicum Avakaya
Day 2 of BM# 34 and today I have a spicy hot Andhra pickle made ith green bell peppers. I'm just learning that every vegetable can be used to make avakaya. I asked my mom what to make for this week's 'Cooking with Bell Peppers/  Capsicum' theme and she said let's make 'Avakaya'.
I wasn't sure how it was going to taste, but went ahead with her proposal. It was sure spicy and tasted just like hmmmm.. avakaya should taste like but with milder bell pepper instead of sour mango. I guess you can use any color pepper, but we used green pepper here.
Bell Pepper/ Capsicum Avakaya
I think any veggie can be made into 'avakaya'. I saw someone on a cooking show make 'eggplant' avakaya which by the way my mom and I tried right away. It tasted great to me (you know my love for eggplants.. don't you?? if not check my collection of eggplant recipes), but just OK to everyone else. May be one day I'll make it again to post here.

November 03, 2013

Roasted Peppers Pistachio Pesto

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 1/ Day 1
Theme: Cooking with Capsicum/ Peppers
Dish: Roasted Red Pepper & Pistachio Pesto with Cheese Ravioli
Its time to start this month's Blogging Marathon, BM# 34. My theme for this week is 'Cooking with Capsicum/ Pepper'. I use bell peppers a lot in my cooking either to make a curry or sambar or  add them to rice dishes. So when I saw the theme, I thought I should try making some new dishes with peppers.
For the first day, I'm using store-bought roasted red peppers from the jar. You could roast your peppers if you have the time, but store bought ones are just as good to make this dish. Recipe is from America's Test Kitchen. 
Roasted Peppers Pistachio Pesto
Here pesto is made with roasted red peppers, toasted pistachios and the usual pesto ingredients, parmesan, olive oil and garlic. This can be used as a pasta sauce or as a sandwich spread or even a dip for some crudites and bread.

November 02, 2013

Poushtik Moti (Seasoned and spiced Rice balls)

Wish you All a very Happy Diwali..
Hope everyone is enjoying the festival. Today's post is going to be short because I've to cook for Diwali lunch, then attend an early Thanksgiving party in the evening. Too many things going on in the head and in the kitchen, so I'm going to keep this post short and simple.
This dish is perfect for days like the one I'm having today. Too many things going on and suddenly you realize that you have only sweet dishes and forgot to make the savory dish. You also don't want to make anything deep fried, then this dish is perfect for you.
Poushtik Moti (Seasoned and spiced Rice balls)


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