September 27, 2009

Abstract Floral

This is an abstract of a Peonia that bloomed at our Owen house last summer. If I were to participate in this photography contest, I think I would photoshop this image further :)

September 25, 2009

Dal Makhani

I made this Dal Makhani when we were in Oshkosh, a few months back. This recipe does not use the traditional dals used in the dish. Instead, I used whole moong beans and adzuki beans (if you look closely, you can see the green and red beans). This is a simple dish to make and I think one can use any variety of beans for this wonderful dish. All you need are beans, tomatoes (puree preferred), onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies, garam masala, butter, cream and garnish - cumin & cilantro.

The beans have to be soaked in water for a few hours to fasten cooking. I use a pressure cooker and to the soaked beans added the paste of ginger, garlic, green chilies and some garam masala. Once the bean were cooked, I added the tomato puree, the diced onions and let it cook for a few minutes. Topped it off with roasted black cumin, mixed some cream, added a spoon of butter. Served with cilantro sprinkled on top! And don't forget the salt - as per your taste :)

September 14, 2009

Dinner Time

On Sunday, we had a couple of friends come over for dinner, and we had a wonderful time. Here's what was on the menu:

To cook the Turkish Orange eggplants I picked up from the Madison farmer's market, I made Mualle, a Turkish eggplant and lentil stew. The recipe is very simple - basically chop up the eggplants - I used two kinds, the orange ones and the green Thai eggplants, some tomatoes, onions, garlic, green chilies, mint / basil and some lentils. I used a pressure cooker for this dish - oil the bottom of the pan, layer the eggplants, and a mixture of the rest of the ingredients, and the lentils. Add salt according to taste. Top off with some pomegranate molasses, and cook for three whistles (or about 3o minutes). The Mualle is served with rice and yogurt.

I made a simple yogurt sauce, instead of plain yogurt to go with the dish, with some chilli garlic paste. The side dish was sauteed brussel sprouts.

Dessert was pears poached in a lemony butter-sugar sauce, topped with rum-raisin mascarpone and a date. Yummy!

September 10, 2009

September 9, 2009

The Icon @ Madison

Friday evening we went to State Street for dinner and ended up eating at the Icon - restaurant and tapas bar after contemplating a few others. This was our first time dining at the Icon. One of the nice things about restaurants on State street is that most of them have their menu posted outside, and we were surprised to find quite a few vegetarian options on the Icon's menu. We started with a seasonal Mango Sangria - I would go back again just for this sangria!

We ordered two hot tapas - the Patatas Bravas "spicy potatoes" with a sun-dried tomato aioli. This was a more fancy fine dine french fries, but was pretty well seasoned. The second tapas was the Piquillo Peppers "stuffed peppers" - peppers stuffed with vegetables and served with cous-cous. We did not have to wait for long for the food, and our flatbread - the special Margherita flatbread with Manchego cheese and cherry tomatoes. The best part of the flat bread was the crust. It was by far the best crust I have had on a flat bread / pizza. The portion was also pretty big on the flatbread, that we had left over for lunch the next day. We finished the meal with caramelized bananas, with pistachios and vanilla ice cream. And the wonderful dinner cost $35.97 :)

I think Icon is a wonderful place for good food without spending too much. I would seriously suggest that they reduce the crowding of the tables though. It was kinda weird to be so close to other diners at a restaurant like theirs. We would definitely go back, though I would prefer to be seated outside, weather permiting; will also be sure to take the camera along!

September 8, 2009

Crêpe Time!

Inspired by all the TV shows, I decided to make crepes at home for breakfast on Sunday. I made a whole bunch of batter, from Alain Roy's recipe, by whisking together 2 eggs, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, 2 tbsp butter, and 1 cup of milk. My cast-iron girdle was awesome with even heating, in making these crepes. The filling for our breakfast crepes was bananas browned in butter and sugar, with some cinnamon and nutmeg, mixed with some ricotta cheese and topped with walnuts. The crepes did not turn out great, but waaaay better than what the competing chefs made today on Hell's Kitchen.

For dessert tonight, the filling for the crepes were peaches softened in a rum sauce - butter, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, glazed with some rum, then went the peaches till they were soft. I finished the filling with a spoon of creamy mascarpone. Yummy!

Plantains with Cheese - Bolo de verde

I love plantains! My absolute favorite is when they are simply sauteed with spices, but I have also baked them in savoury pies. When I was in Ecuador in 2005, our first breakfast at Guayaquil was a plantain and cheese ball. I can't remember the sauce it was served with, but the taste was so good in a dish with just three ingredients - plantains, cheese and salt! My first attempt in recreating this dish was not a good one, as the plantain had ripened a bit and the taste was less than delicious. I made another attempt on Labor day, this time after a little bit of research. The outcome was so yummy, and is wonderful as a side dish. I am also thinking it would make a great appetizer.

I boiled the plantains, and along with fresh mozzarella cheese grated them in the food processor. To this mixture I added a little bit more salt, some green chili powder and my mom's milagai podi (a blend of red chilies with more toasted lentils and spices). After this Shankar took over, and made the mixture into small cutlets and baked them for about 20 minutes in a 400F oven. Next time, I am going to pan fry them before serving, instead of baking and thinking a lemony aioli would be perfect for dipping.
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