December 14, 2009

Creamy Goodness

Since the day I saw Meeta's Panna Cotta, I have been waiting for a chance to try it. And it happened yesterday! Actually I wanted to make panna-cotta for dessert on Saturday with my root vegetable au gratin, but didn't have enough time. Ok, I have never tried panna cotta before, but I have to say what I made have set really high expectations for me when I get to have it at a restaurant next time. It was a simple dish, hardly took about 20 minutes to make, and full of creamy goodness! I think the best way to use saffron and cardamom in a dish is to have them complement each other, but not have one flavor dominate the dish. Cardamom gives a nice aroma to anything you add it to, and well, saffron is more for the color and the taste. They came together perfectly in this panna cotta.

As a vegetarian, I substituted gelatin with agar and used cream, sugar, saffron and cardamom. Thats it! Just 5 ingredients in this delicious recipe. Well, I also used pistachios for garnish. So here's how I made it - boiled cream with sugar, added strands of crushed saffron and about 6 pods of cardamom in it, turned off the heat and let it steep for a few minutes. In the meantime, I soaked about 1 tsp of agar in a couple of tbsp of cream. After about 10 minutes, I turned on the heat again, and constantly whisking the cream, added the agar mixture. In about 3-4 minutes, the consistency changes and then I moved it over an ice bath, whisked for a few more minutes and poured it in individual serving dishes. They were covered and let set in the fridge for a few hours. And before indulging, I added some chopped pistachios. Yummy :)

December 10, 2009

Kuya's Asian Cuisine

It's been a while since I wrote a restaurant review, but thinking about Ishq in South Beach the other day has motivated me to catch up. A few weeks back when we went to CA for thanksgiving, our flight from Milwaukee was delayed by a couple of hours. By the time we landed in CA at 3 pm pacific time, we were literally starving. From the airport we headed straight to Kuya's Asian Cuisine in San Bruno, serving primarily Filipino food. This was one of the closest restaurant which was still serving lunch and had good reviews on yelp. It was a nice (but small) restaurant, and they were ready to customize any dish as vegetarian for us. We love that about Mom and Pop type of places. We ordered the Bicol Express (Spicy mixed Vegetables cooked w/ Coconut milk) without the shrimp and pork. I think they basically made use of all the veggies they had, with a good amount of tofu. The dish was delicious and we finished it really quick. I was a lot more impressed with the flavors than I expected. They also had a good hot sauce on the side that helped us up the spice level on this already hot dish. A good place for a quick lunch!


With Madison receiving close to 21 inches of snow in the last couple of days, the roads are pretty icy today. And this was our first snow storm. With at least four more months of everything blanketed in white, I am already wishing for pretty colorful flowers!

December 9, 2009

Eggplants & Lentil Stew

I made this spicy dish for lunch today. We have about 21 inches of snow already and it is still snowing - today is a 100% snow day. Seeing everything in white outside the windows and being cooped up inside the house, I was tempted to make a colorful dish and it turned out great. This is a pretty easy recipe and would take only about 20 minutes to cook, serves 6. And I am taking a big step in Recipe Writing!

6 eggplants (brinjal)
2 Tomatoes
1 Onion
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs. sambar powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1 pinch asafoetida
1/4 tsp chana dal
1/4 tsp urad dal
1/2 cup toor Dal
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard
2 Green Chilies


1. Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker, with twice the amout of water, a little salt and a pinch of turmeric.
2. Chop up the onion, two tomatoes, brinjals (small Indian eggplant), a clove of garlic, and a couple of green chilies.
3. Heat some oil, add the tempering - mustard, cumin, urad dal & chana dal, asafoetidas.
4. when the mustard pops and the dals turn red, add the onions and cook till soft.
5. Add the garlic, chilies and tomatoes, sambar powder and salt.
6. Add the eggplants, some water, cover and cook for a few minutes.
7. Once the eggplants are soft, add the toor dal, cook for a few more minutes.

A yummy stew to delish with some rice :)

December 8, 2009

Fried Okra

During spring break - when we were in Florida, we had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Ishq at South Beach. Our appetizer was Crisp fried Okra with dried pomegranate (first pic). We have not tried deep fried okra before (other than the breaded variety), and it was delicious. I have wanted to make it at home since, but as I hardly ever deep-fry, haven't had a chance to make this dish. Last week, when I had some friends over for dinner, instead of deep-frying, I simply sauteed the okra till crisp, on my cast iron with high heat.

The paring knife was great in slicing the okra, then I added some rice flour, salt, green chili powder and Amchur - dried mango powder, for the nice tangy kick. I started with about a tea spoon of olive oil, but not anymore after that. All that yummy-ness without a lot of oil :)

I am sending this to Think Spice blogging event by Sunita for the Think Amchur hosted by Bhagyashri of Taste Buds.

December 2, 2009

Simple Dessert

For tonight's dinner, I went with a 'Less is More' theme - a simple appetizer of cranberry-walnut bread with a ricotta - pesto topping, fried (not deep) okra, tortellini in a mushroom-eggplant-mascarpone cream sauce and finally the dessert.

This is probably one of the simplest desserts I have made - I whipped together the leftover ricotta (from appetizer), mascarpone from pasta sauce, added agave nectar and a tablespoonful of nutella. Topped the banana slices with this mixture and sprinkled some walnuts on top. Next time, I have to add some chocolate shavings too... yummy :)

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