July 31, 2011

Farmer's Market - This Week

Here is the weekly update on what we got at the Farmer's Market this Saturday. New this week were Bell Peppers, Patty Pan Squash, Baby Bok Choy, Big Jim Peppers, Wax Beans, Kohlrabi and Golden Beets. We got more Door County Cherries and fingerling potatoes. Also more Corn. My mom already made a wonderful Cauliflower Pakora this morning, along with a Vegetable Biryani loaded with some of the veggies. I didn't get to cook at all during the last week. Hopefully this week I can get a go at making some delicious goodies, along with some cookies that have been on the to do list for a while. And Shankar got me a wonderful bouquet of my favorite flowers :)

July 25, 2011

Beans & Plantains from Burundi

During my recent searches for recipes from around the world I found another fellow blogger working her way around the world. Here is a recipe I adapted from her website, a simple Beans and Plantain stew. The plantain I used was a little ripe and complemented the spice deliciously. 

Ingredients: Plantain - 1 - sliced; Red Kidney Beans - 2 cups soaked for a few hours; Onion - 1 sliced thin; Chili powder - 1/4 tsp; Plantain Powder - 1 tsp - to thicken (optional) ; Salt - to taste;
  • In a pressure cooker, add a tsp of oil and saute the onions. . 
  • Once soft, add the beans and plantains.
  • Add chili powder, adjust salt and add enough water.
  • Cook till the beans are tender. 
  • Thicken the stew if needed. I served this with chapatis and rice. 
I am also sending this dish to MLLA #37, as the event is starting it's 4th year. Congratulations to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook for starting and hosting this month's event!

July 24, 2011

From the Farmer's Market

Here are the spoils from this week's farmer's market. New this week: Blueberries, Door County Cherries, cinnamon bread, asiago cheese bagels and Corn. Produce from last week's market were turned into delicious food mostly by my mom last week. I managed to sneak in one dish from Burundi during the week. And from this week's produce, my mom has already made a wonderful Carrot with onions Sambar, an eggplant saute to go with it, a spinach and beans stew; I used some of the tomatoes in making a chole last night, the fingerling potatoes were roasted in a mixture of spices, and the blueberries went into puff pastry turnovers. Shankar has requested kale chips and I want to make a mushroom & potato soup. Another week of healthy eating!

July 19, 2011

Squash with Black Beans ~ from Chad

Another dish from the archives! I made this stew when I was visiting Shankar in St. Louis last year. This is a simple stew with few ingredients, and if made with peanuts, is the national dish of Chad. I adapted the recipe from here, and used calabaza squash and black beans instead of peanuts. I used a little peanut butter to thicken the stew and served it with creme fraiche.

Ingredients: Calabaza squash - 1/2 pound, cut into cubes; Black Beans - 1 can - rinsed and drained; Peanut Butter - 1tbsp; Curry Powder - 1 tsp; Salt - to taste; sugar - to taste (optional). 
  • Boil squash in water with a little salt. 
  • Remove excess water after 5 minutes or so, add the beans, salt, curry powder.
  • Once the squash is tender, add the peanut butter.
  • Add sugar to taste if needed. 
  • Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavor and serve!
I am sending this dish to MLLA #37, as the event is starting it's 4th year. A big Congratulations to Susan of  The Well Seasoned Cook for starting and hosting this month's event!

July 18, 2011

Spoils from the Farmer's Market

One of our routines every weekend in the summer is to go to the Dane County Farmer's Market on the square. Especially with my parents in town, it is fun to take them to the market and watch them get excited about so many different things. Here is a quick glimpse on what we are eating this week that were grown locally. In smaller bags ( :( ) are spinach, arugula, shelled peas, crimini  mushrooms and cheese curds! The fruit bread is pineapple-apricot and the scones are pepper jack. I think it was the last week to get fresh  spinach at the farmer's market here. New this week are the raspberries. And I love the sunflowers :)

July 11, 2011

Colombian Avocado Vichyssoise

Here is another recipe from the archives, and I am checking off another country in Cooking the World! One of the most easiest soups that I have ever made, this vichyssoise is adapted from Soup Song. This is a very creamy dish and I served it cold, as a first course.

Ingredients: Potatoes - 2 large, chopped; Avocados - 2, Cream - 1/2 cup; Vegetable stock - 1 cup; Salt & Pepper - to taste; Chives & Cheese - garnish.
  • Boil the potatoes with salt, in stock + water
  • Allow to cool, add mashed avocados
  • Add cream and puree with a hand-blender
  • Adjust seasoning; Serve with minced chives. 
That's it - super simple! Ideally it needs to be chilled in the fridge to be served as a cold soup, which I didn't. But it was also not warm and hence no issues with the avocados. 

July 10, 2011

Jamaican Sweet Potato Curry

For the last few months, things have been pretty busy and its been a while since I have written about a dish I made for my Cooking the World Challenge. That doesn't mean I haven't been cooking :) I just need to catch up on writing! Here is a recipe that I made last year, adapted from Fork Fingers Chopsticks. This Jamaican curry is loaded with yummy spices and we loved it. I served it with my Brazilian Rice. The combination of this curry with the rice was delish! 

Ingredients: Japanese White Sweet Potatoes - 2 diced; Green Beans - 1/4 pound chopped; Coconut milk - 1/2 cup; Onion - 1/2 diced; Ginger & Garlic - 1tsp minced; A mixture of the following spices - whole or ground: Cardamom pods, Cinnamon, Cloves. Ground: Cumin, Coriander - 2 tsps; Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp; Salt - according to taste; Bay leaf -1; Cilantro - for garnish.
  • Saute the cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick in a tsp of butter, to release the aroma.
  • Add the onion, ginger, garlic and saute till the onions are soft.
  • Add the ground spices - cumin, coriander, pepper, salt. 
  • Once the spices are a little heated, add the sweet potatoes, beans and the coconut milk. Add water as needed.
  • Add the bay leaf, bring the pot to a boil, and simmer till the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice!
I think an easy version of this dish would be using pre-mixed spices like Garam Masala or Kitchen King. but then the Jamaican-ness might be lost :)

I am catching up on my reading too, the two books I am currently keeping busy with are: In hard-copy, picked up from Goodwill Stores: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. And in my Kindle: Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet by Joseph Menn. Whats on your reading list?

July 8, 2011

Yummiest Brown Butter Cookies

If you ever find yourself on the Central Coast of California, make sure you make a trip out to beautiful Cayucos and stock up on the yummiest Brown Butter Cookies. Or simply place your order online at http://www.brownbuttercookies.com/. These are some of the best cookies I have ever had, with a slight sprinkle of sea salt that is so satiating. My favorites were the Original and the Espresso - till I tasted the Bourbon one. And Shankar loves their slightly chewy Honey cookies. And their granola is an indulgence for me. The best part about these? My dear friend Carolyn is the Dough Master. All the cookies are wonderfully hand rolled to perfection, and baked. And she has been sending us these wonderful packages for our birthdays and we are so grateful to get these little delights! These cookies are incredibly delicious and we can never stop with just eating one. Better pay attention to their tag line and "Take Three, Honey" :) 

Thank You, Carolyn!

July 6, 2011

Daring Durian Cake

This year for Shankar's Birthday, I didn't have time for an elaborate celeberation. With about three hours left between his annoucement of change in dinner plans to making his birthday dinner and a cake to go with, I somehow managed to bring together a bunch of ingredients in the kitchen to taste delish! The picture doesn't do much justice to this wonderful cake with Durian as the key ingredient with vanilla and coconut finishing the explosion on the palate. I am so proud of this cake for the simple reason that I had the food processor running and added things that would normally go in a cake (butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla, coconut) without any real measurements or a recipe to go by. I cut down the volume of butter by a lot and added the frozen and slightly thawed Durian. I adjusted the sugar level as I went along. I was a little skeptical as the batter hit the baking pan and when I decided to run the spatula randomly on top of the batter and sprinkle a handful of coconut on top. But needless to say, the daring moment in the kitchen turned out to be a delicious hit. I was planning to serve the cake with whipped cream, but when it was time for dessert, just the aroma of Durian was so luring that we didn't wait for the cream. I do belong to the "baking is a science" camp, but oh well, science is also about experimenting, right? This cake is by far my most daring experiment in the kitchen!

July 5, 2011

The Peacock's Tail

Everytime I see a peacock proudly showing off its tail, advertising his higher quality to a potential mate, the one thing that comes to mind is the Handicap Hypothesis - where the male displays his "quality" to the female through costly traits. In this case, the long tail of the peacock makes it more vulnerable to predators, but a surviving peacock uses the tail to communicate his fitness potential. I am sure many peahens found this guy here quite attractive! Back to blogging after a big break :)
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