Cook's Hideout: February 2014

February 28, 2014

Andalusian Courgette Tortilla (Zucchini Omlet)

For this month's 'International Food Challenge', Sharanya of Just Not the Cakes is taking us on a culinary tour of Andalusia, Spain. Andalusia is one of the most populous and second largest autonomous communities in Spain , stretching south from sunny cities Cordoba and Seville all the way to Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea . The name “Andalusia” was derived from the Arabic word “ Al- Andalus”. Andalusia boasts many delicious foods offering travelers a chance to stimulate their palettes while exploring.
Andalusian Courgette Tortilla (Zucchini Omlet)
Sharanya gave us 4 very simple recipes from the Andalusian region and I picked the Courgette Tortilla recipe. Spanish Tortilla is typically made with potatoes, but this Andalusian tortilla is made with zucchini. It is like a frittata or a fat baked omelette. This is a simple dish that is easy to prepare and served with a salad and bread on the side makes for a filling meal.

February 27, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feast Highlight

Fabulous Friday Feast is a weekend linky party started by a bunch of food bloggers. Chef Mireille started the event and last weekend I hosted the third edition along with Usha. The idea behind the linky party is to share our weekend cooking with everyone, so all of us can feast on it too.
We are going to highlight the bloggers participating in the linky party. Last weekend Siri @ Indian Food & More brought her one pot wonder, Spinach Pilaf / Palak Pulao to the party. Who doesn't like a healthy & delicious one pot creation. Hop onto her blog to see more of her creations.
I hope more of you join in the linky party and make it a success in the coming weeks. Don't forget to check out Fabulous Feast Friday#4 being hosted by Saras, who will accept all recipes and Priya, will accept only Vegetarian dishes.
Put on your thinking caps, plan a menu for the next party! Get ready to join us this weekend at the Fabulous Feast, Linky party. 

February 26, 2014

Paneer Lababdar

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Member's Choice
Dish: Paneer Lababdar
For the final day of this month's blogging marathon, I decided to try 'Paneer Lababdar' - a dish suggested by one of the BM members. This is the first time I heard about this paneer curry and the name itself sounded very interesting that I had to try this dish.
Paneer Lababdar
Our BM members came up with an awesome list of dishes to choose from,some of them were actually on my to-make list too. But I wanted to keep this week simple because I got busy prepping for the upcoming mega month long marathon. Also a new paneer recipe is always welcome in my kitchen.

February 25, 2014

Gujarati Lauki Muthiya (Doodhi Muthia)

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 4/ Day2
Theme: Member's Choice
Dish: Gujarati Muthiya with Lauki (Bottle gourd)
For the second day of BM# 37 under member's choice theme I picked Gujarati Muthiya. This healthy & filling snack from Gujarat has been on my to-make list for quite some time. So when I saw it on the members choice list, I knew I had to try it for this week.
I wanted to make Palak (spinach) muthiya and mentioned it to my blogging friends. Vaishali came back saying that the traditional muthiyas are made with methi leaves (fenugreek) or lauki (bottle gourd) and all the other versions are not very authentic. So I changed my mind and made the lauki muthiyas.
Gujarati Lauki Muthiya (Doodhi Muthia)
'Muthi' means fist in Gujarati and the dish is named 'muthiya' because they are made into a cylindrical shape using the fist. They are first steamed and then pan fried until crisp. They are great when served hot as tea time snack.

February 24, 2014

Poblano & Corn Baked Mac & Cheese

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Member's Choice
Dish: Baked Mac & Cheese with Poblano & Corn
We are starting our last week of blogging marathon for this month and I chose 'Member's Choice' as my theme. Valli compiled a list of dishes that all the BM members suggested and we were asked to pick 3 dishes for this week.
When I saw 'Baked Mac & Cheese', I knew I will definitely be making it. I like mac & cheese, but rarely make it because my husband is not a big fan of it -- he thinks it is too milky and cheesy for his taste -- the two reasons I really like it. But now my sister is in town and she is a fan of it. Gives me a chance to try mac & cheese recipes that I have been bookmarking from a while now.
Poblano & Corn Baked Mac & Cheese
Today's mac & cheese has a Mexican twist with poblanos, corn and cilantro in it along with the regular ingredients of cheese and milk. I thought the addition of poblanos was going to make this dish spicy, but it was very mild with a slightly smokey taste in the background. Original recipe had mushrooms in it, but I skipped them and used some onions instead.

February 21, 2014

Roasted Veggies w/ Rice & Chipotle Sauce

I love roasted vegetables. Roasting the vegetables makes them smokey and taste absolutely delicious. With the chilly weather hanging around, it is the best time to start the oven and warm the whole house. I use roasted vegetables in salads (like in this couscous salad and farro salad) and in sandwiches (like in here and here).
Roasted Veggies w/ Rice & Chipotle Sauce
When I roast veggies, I make sure to make some extra so I can use them in more than one dish. This way you save energy and time, also the leftovers are great to just snack on. I saw this recipe in Vegetarian times magazine and it was just perfect because I had roasted veggies in the fridge that needed to be used up. This is a great dish to pack for lunch.

Fabulous Feast Friday #3

Welcome to this week’s edition of Fabulous Feast Friday. What are you feasting on this weekend? Join the Link Up Party so we can all feast with you! 

My blogger friends and I have teamed up so that every week there are two link up parties – One for Vegetarian Recipes ONLY and one for All Recipes. Vegetarian Recipes can link up to both parties. 

Let’s meet the team:
This week’s hosts are me for 100% Vegetarian recipes and Usha for any and all recipes.

There’s only a few simple steps to join the party: 
• Your post must include a recipe with at least one photo. 

• You must follow all of the Hosting Team on one social media platform, per your preference. 
o Srivalli Twitter Facebook Pinterest 

• Please insert our logo either in the post or somewhere on your site. 
• Add your post using the Linky Tool below. 

• Support each other by visiting and commenting on a few blogs. Vote for your favorite recipes of the week. Each week the top 3 recipes will be featured.

February 19, 2014

Roasted Chestnut Donuts (Vegan & Eggless Cake Donut Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: Street Food from Around the World
Dish: Roasted Chestnut Donuts from NYC
I was thinking  hard to decide which country's street food to make for the 3rd day of BM# 37. I shortlisted a few dishes to try, but then I realized that I live only a few miles from the greatest city with amazing street food and it would be unfair to try anything else. I'm talking about New York city. Watch this video with 50 different street foods in NYC in 60 seconds.
NYC is home to hundreds of food trucks and countless food carts. I have never had food from either till now. I always want to try but usually end up eating somewhere else. I love the smell of food around these food carts.
Roasted Chestnut Donuts (Vegan & Eggless Cake Donut Recipe)
I took a Vegan Donut making class in ICE and our teacher, Adam Sobel is the owner of a vegan food truck called Cinnamon Snail. He showed us how to make 4~5 different vegan donuts. I wanted to make the recipes at home for a long time, but didn't get a chance until now.

February 18, 2014

Poblano, Corn & Veggie Tostadas (Vegetarian Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: Street Food from Around the World 
Dish: Poblano, Corn & Veggie Tostadas from Mexico
After exploring Korea, we are going to Mexico for today's Street Food from around the World. Mexican food was probably the first international cuisine that I really liked when I came to US. In those days, there were not too many International restaurants in India and the only international dish I ate back then was Domino's pizza, which if I remember correctly didn't really like.
But after coming to the US, I became more open minded about trying new dishes and Taco Bell soon became my favorite fast food place, both because of the vegetarian options available and it was affordable for a graduate student. One dish that I still order, at least one, is Nacho cheese chalupa. I make Mexican food atleast once a week and I have quite a few recipes posted here already.
Poblano, Corn & Veggie Tostadas (Vegetarian Recipe)
Most of the dishes we get here in the US are the American version of Mexican food. So I wanted to see what is traditionally served as street food in Mexico. Street food in Mexico is called Antojitos, or small cravings. Most of them include corn as an ingredient. These dishes include tacos, chalupas, tamales, gorditas, tostadas etc.,

February 17, 2014

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Street Food from Around the World
Dish: Kimchi Fried Rice from Korea
My theme for this week's Blogging marathon got me very very excited. It is Street Food from around the world. Learning about the different dishes that are served as street food from various countries was very interesting and there are so many dishes that I wanted to make at home. But since we are posting for only 3 days, I had to narrow down my search to 3 dishes. Hopefully I can make the rest of my bookmarked dishes some time soon.
Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)For the first day, I made Korean street food -- Kimchi Fried rice.From what I've read online, Koreans make fried rice with overripe kimchi that needs to be used up. I personally love fried rice because it s a great use of leftover rice and there are infinite variations to come up with.

February 15, 2014

Vegan Kimchi with Ginger & Chiles

New Jersey is one state where you find large Indian population. In some towns it almost feels like Americans are in minority there. Most of the apartment complexes are filled with Indians and streets are filled with Indian stores, restaurants, beauty parlors, these towns look like mini Indias. 
But the town we live in has a majority of Koreans. Most of the stores are run by Koreans and stores have a lot of Korean vegetables and ingredients. Being around so many Koreans, I have always wanted to try Kimchi. It is a tradional fermented side dish made of vegetables and variety of seasoning. It tastes spicy and sour. Kimchi is Korea's national dish and is used to make other dishes like kimchi fried rice, kimchi pancakes, kimchi stew etc.
Vegan Kimchi with Ginger & Chiles
Our local Korean store has a whole Kimchi section. It's around the corner where fresh seafood is sold, so I never actually saw this side of the store in detail. When I decided to make kimchi and went to the store to get the ingredients, I took a few pictures to share with you guys.

Gujarati Gathiya for Indian Cooking Challenge

For this month's Indian Cooking Challenge Valli and Vaishali wanted us to make a very famous Gujarati snack, Gathiya/ Gathia. Gujarati gathiya are very similar to janthikalu, but the texture is totally different. Gathiya are crispy and crunchy when you bite into them, but just melt in your mouth when eaten. 
Gujarati Gathiya
To get that melt in the mouth texture, baking soda is dry roasted until slightly charred and then added to besan and other spices. Also generous amount of oil is added to the dough which helps to get the texture.

February 14, 2014

Self Saucing Chocolate Cake (Vegan recipe)

Happy Valentines Day to everyone.
After posting the Mango custard yesterday, I thought I should also post something with Chocolate for Valentines day. Valentines day without chocolate is probably unthinkable for some, but history channel says that this association happened only recently even though the roots of Valentines day go all the way back to Roman era. Chocolate is a well known aphrodisiac, but the main reason for chocolate being the center of this holiday could be the candy companies marketing strategies. Whatever it might be, here's another reason to enjoy our beloved chocolate.
I saw this recipe in King Arthur's catalog and made it the other day for my son's afternoon snack. It is super simple to put together and tasted absolutely a.m.a.z.i.n.g. The warm cake with chocolate sauce served with ice cream is just too irresistible.
Self Saucing Chocolate Cake (Vegan recipe)
Recipe is supposed to be made in 8~10 oz. ramekins or oven safe mugs, I didn't have either, so used 7oz. mini ramekins. Also I veganized the recipe by using soy milk, canola oil (instead of melted butter) and egg replacer (instead of an egg).

February 13, 2014

Mango Custard

Here's a delicious dessert recipe for any occasion. I made it a while back and wanted to share with everyone on the eve of Valentines Day. If you are still looking for something quick and easy to make for Valentines day, then this recipe is for you.
Unlike other Valentines day desserts which are either made of chocolate or strawberry, this is made with mango -- which in my opinion is more exotic than he aforementioned ingredients :-)
Mango Custard
Valentines day or not, this is a great dessert that can be made ahead of time. Fruit Custard is quite famous in India and as I was thinking of how make it a little more fancy, I thought why not add some mango puree I had in the fridge. The end result is this creamy mango flavored custard that serves as a great base for assorted fruit. A must try for all mango lovers.

February 12, 2014

Apple Galette

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Oven Baked Snacks
Dish: Apple Galette 
For the 3rd day of blogging marathon# 37, I have this simple and easy to make apple galette that I actually made couple of months ago. My son has been asking me to make apple pie for quite some time now. I didn't want to bake a full fledged apple pie as I wasn't totally convinced if he'd really like it or not. So I took the easy route and made this galette with the spelt crust scraps leftover after making this quiche recipe.
Apple Galette
Galette is a free form pie and can be made with pie crust or even puff pastry. The crust I used for the quiche had some dried herbs in it. If I had thought of making this apple galette earlier, I probably would have skipped the herbs to make this dessert. But the herbs in the crust didn't really bother us. Galette tasted great with some vanilla ice cream.

February 11, 2014

Sourdough Pretzels

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Oven Baked Snacks
Dish: Sourdough Pretzels
For day 2 of BM# 37, I made Pretzels. Pretzels have been on my to-make list for a very long time. It all started when I saw them being made at a Pretzel bakery in the mall. I was really amazed how quickly & efficiently the guy twisted and shaped the pretzels. I wanted to try my hand at making then ever since.
I made these Viennese Vyborg Pretzels last year and were loved by all. But those were more sweeter than savory with a rich challah like texture. So I wanted to bake a more traditional pretzel this time.
Sourdough PretzelsI saw the recipe for Sourdough pretzel in the King Arthur catalog and I immediately wanted to try them because I'm also looking for recipes to use my sourdough starter. The pretzels turned out chewy, soft and just perfect. I sprinkled some with coarse salt and some with turbinado sugar.

February 10, 2014

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

For this month's Home Baker's Challenge, our host Sharanya Pathmanathan @ Just Not the Cakes has chosen a very interesting theme -- American food holidays for the month of January. She gave us 6 food holidays to choose from and I picked National Shortbread Day which is celebrated on January 6th. I didn't know that there were so many food days, so big thanks to Sharanya for introducing us to these mouth watering days. Here are the other food holidays that were on Sharanya's list:
January 16 -- National Fig Newton Day
January 21 -- National Granola Bar Day
January 22 -- National Blonde Brownie Day
January 23 -- National Pie Day
January 29 -- National Corn chip Day
Aren't those totally awesome days, what a great idea to enjoy food!!
I wanted to bake Fig Newtons and Granola bars too, but as usual time was short and I made only the shortbread cookies.
Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread cookies have become my new favorite kind of cookies to bake. They are so quick and easy to put together -- combine all the ingredients and that's it, you are good to go. Dough either goes into the fridge for chilling or straight into the baking pan for baking. Also the resulting cookies have a great texture and they just melt in your mouth.

Bread Sticks

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 2/ Day 1
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Oven Baked Snacks
Dish: Bread Sticks
We begin our 2nd week of Blogging Marathon today and my theme for this week is 'Kid's Delight -- Baked Treats'. This month's Kid's delight host PJ @ Seduce your tastebuds wants us to send in kid approved baked dishes. So I have 3 recipes for this week that are approved by my little ones.
First up are Oven baked Bread Sticks. We love the soft bread sticks served at Olive Garden and I was looking for a recipe to make them for a while. When I saw this recipe in King Arthur's catalog, I baked them right away. Even though they are not as soft as the Olive Garden version, they taste great when served warm with some marinara sauce.
Bread Sticks
The original recipe makes 3 dozen bread sticks but I halved the recipe. I also added some wholewheat flour (atta) to make them a little healthy. Recipe is super simple to make and I'm sure they will be devoured by both by kids and adults alike.

February 08, 2014

Veggie Nachos

Being a food blogger, one thing that I sure don't do is post recipes ahead of a specific holiday/ festival. I wish I was more planned in that aspect. Coming from apparel retail background, I've seen companies start working on a season at least 9 months in advance, ie., designers start working on Summer designs (that will be in the store some time in April) some time in September of the previous year.
In the same way, there are quite a few bloggers who start posting recipes for summer before the end of spring. While they are thinking ahead, I am usually posting recipes I made at the end of winter (!!!!!!), that is how organized and planned I am.
Well today's dish was meant for Super Bowl Sunday and of course it is a week late. I saw Rachael Ray make this on her show and the use of veggies on nachos sounded tasty and I wanted to make it for my nacho-loving son. I actually served it for lunch (!!!) along with cilantro-lime rice.
Veggie Nachos
These are infact a healthier version of traditional cheese laden nachos. Most of the cheese is replaced with sauteed veggies. My son liked them quite a lot and I'm sure I'll be making these often in the future.

February 05, 2014

Homemade Turkish Baklava Recipe

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: National Dishes from around the World
Dish: Turkish -- Baklava
For the final day of this week's marathon I made Turkish national dish, Baklava. I don't remember the first time I tasted baklava, but it was love at first taste. Baklava is a very rich, sweet pastry made of layers of Phyllo (fillo) dough filled with nuts and sweetened with honey and syrup. 
This has been on my to-make list for a very long time. But with really good Turkish friends we have always had good quality baklavas to enjoy, I never got a chance to try it myself. So this was my chance to make baklava at home and I've to say even though the process of making it is a little tedious with the phyllo (fillo) tearing and so on, but the final product is absolutely tasty and well worth the effort. It is also less expensive to make these at home.
Homemade Turkish Baklava
Working with phyllo/ fillo dough is a little tedious and sometimes a little frustrating too as it tends to rip and tear. It is very important to keep the phyllo covered with damp towel at all times to prevent drying out. But it is not the end of the world, everything will turn out OK once the dish is finished.

February 04, 2014

Vegetarian Pupusa

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 1/ Day2
Theme: National Dishes from around the World 
Dish: El Salvador -- Pupusa
Years ago when I first started watching Food network, Rachael Ray used to make dishes from different countries/ cuisines and called them 'Passport meals' to those countries. Which means you don't need a passport to visit those countries physically, all you need is a well stocked pantry and you can easily transport to that country by enjoying the local dishes right at home. That is how my interest in trying different cuisines started.
So today I made a Passport meal to El Salvador by making their national dish, Pupusa. This is another dish that has been on my to-make list for a while now. I used the recipe from Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero.
Vegetarian Pupusa
Pupusas are stuffed, grilled tortillas from El Salvador. The fun of pupusas is in the combination of hot grilled masa harina, tasty fillings, tangy tomato sauce, and cool Salvadorian style coleslaw known as curdito. So this dish has quite a few components and can be time consuming to make. But luckily the curdito and the tomato sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance.

February 03, 2014

Vegan Gado Gado recipe

Blogging Marathon# 37: Week 1/ Day 1
Theme: National Dishes from around the World
Dish: Indonesia -- Gado Gado
We are starting this month's blogging marathon today and my theme for the first week is 'National dishes from countries around the world'. I didn't really realize each country has it's own national dish until I started researching for this theme. There is a whole list of national dishes on Wiki. Some countries have more than one national dish.
Choosing 3 dishes from countries all over the world was quite a challenge. I was really happy to see 3 dishes that have been on my to-make list on Wiki's list. So for the first day, I have Indonesian national dish "Gado Gado'.
Vegan Gado Gado recipe
Gado Gado is an Indonesian salad that is served with a creamy peanut sauce. This salad usually has both cooked and raw veggies along with boiled eggs, fried tofu and tempeh. Most of the ingredients for the salad are customizable. I read somewhere that boiled potatoes and eggs are absolute must and everything else is optional. I skipped the eggs and made this a vegan salad.

February 02, 2014

Mixed Dal Rasam

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Our weekend has been fun so far -- Saturday we went to a Chinese New year party and learnt to make dumplings from a dear friend. Looking forward to Superbowl Sunday that is going to take place right here is New Jersey. Metlife stadium is about 3~4 miles from where we live, so I'm very excited that the action is taking place so close to us, even though we will be watching the real action on TV!! strange.. right??
Well today I don't have a recipe for superbowl sunday, I have a everyday dal rasam recipe that is tasty and healthy. Saw it on a cooking show and the recipe is a keeper.
Mixed Dal Rasam


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