Friday, November 23, 2012

Plantain muffins

Foodies love fresh food. Seasonal. Local. So do the older generation. My father still goes to the local bazar to see what has come up on a daily basis. I on the other hand, shop for a week in advance and then try to stash everything into my inadequate refrigerator.Sometimes the more hardy ones don't even get house space in the fridge. Which brings me to ask, how many of us are actually cooking with vegetables which are "just ready"? Just the other day I chucked out a cob of corn. The kernels themselves looked appeallingly yellow, but there were fungal streaks on the husks which made me think of ergot and ensuing convulsions and hallucination. The plantains used in the following Plantain muffin recipe were hardly fresh. They were bought with the intention of using unripe, but ultimately they started taking on a yellow hue. That's when I decided to make them into muffins. The recipe was created in a slapdash manner. Nothing was actually measured, so what I am writing down now is really an approximate value.
The muffins themselves all that could be wished for; fragrant, moist and dare I say, even healthy.

2 ripe plantains, mashed
8 Tablespoon grated coconut
4 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom, ground
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup groundnut oil

Preheat oven to 180 degree centigrade. Oil a muffin tin. This mixture makes 8 muffins. Mash the plantain. Add the coconut, sugar, cardamom, flour, baking powder and mix them well. With a mixer, beat the egg and then mix the oil until frothy. Tip the egg mixture into the dry mixture and fold in to just wet all the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the moulds and bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Piedmontese pepper

Food crosses boundaries. Take the instance of chillies all over the world. Neither of the main items in this dish are remotely Italian, yet they have appropriated it very successfully! The dish is simplicity itself and hardly deserves a recipe. Its two colour tone also appealed to me. I saw it in The Good Cook and made some changes and now the Piedmontese Pepper has an Indian version! I used green pepper rather than red ones, normal tomatoes instead of cherry ones and anchovy paste in place of the  fish itself as shown in the programme.

Bell pepper, green - 2, halved and cleaned
Tomatoes - 4, quartered
Garlic clove- 4, peeled and sliced
Anchovy paste - 1 teaspoon
Basil leaves - 6, some shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 180 centigrade. Halve and clean the bell pepper. Coat them with the anchovy paste. Put a few slices of garlic. Roll the tomatoes in salt and sugar once cut. Fill in with the quartered tomatoes. Add the rest of the garlic in between the tomatoes. Add  shredded basil. Bake for 10 minutes. Take out and decorate with the rest of the basil leaves.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A take on Pomme Voison

I am still surprised when I realise that the only way I would eat potatoes would  be in the form of mutton curry when I was younger (which translates to before I went to hostel and had to start consuming whatever the mess dished out) ! I have diverged considerably since then, and certain potato dishes are de rigueur at any gathering I hold. Part of the reason is no doubt necessity, the other reason for conversion was Anne Nichols' book "Potatoes: from gnocchi to mash". The pomme voison featured is a take on the recipe in that book. I have made some changes which may not be considered strictly traditional.

Ingredients for four
1 kg large potatoes
25 gm melted butter
50 gm grated cheese, I used Tilsiter
Grated fresh breadcrumbs; white portion only of 2-3 bread slices 
1 cup chopped spring onion greens
2 and half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup water

Parboil potatoes in their skin with salted water, about 3 minutes in the pressure cooker. While this is being done, grate the cheese. Other cheeses can be used; Parmesan had been suggested in Nichols' recipe. Chop the spring onions. Make the fresh bread crumbs. Mix the cheese, spring onions, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bread crumbs. Butter a cake mould. Peel and slice the potatoes. I coat the potatoes with half a teaspoon of salt at this stage. Arrange the potatoes in a layer. Sprinkle the cheese spring onion mix and add little bit of the butter. Continue layering the potatoes in a similar manner until used up. Keep some of the breadcrumb mix to to top the potatoes. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes. Serve warm with freshly ground pepper.   

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Of cakes and biriyanis

I haven't put up a post for a long time, so, I thought to start with two together. The cake was inspired by a pound cake recipe for pistachios that I came upon on Orangette. I only replaced the pistachios with pecan, and worked with one less egg.
The Other image is of a spread that my mother cooked up to honour son-in-laws; called Jamai Shasthi. The biriyani was my handiwork. a Hyderabadi biriyani styled thingy. Not the katcha version since everything had been pre-cooked. What is lacked in depth of character was made up for how quickly it could be put together. An excellent party dish. 

There are numerous recipes up on the web. The marination and making sure that the emat remains somewhat undercooked is the key elements. The couple of points I always include in my Hyderabadi biriyani I ahve listed below.

1. Lots of crispy fried onions. Slow caramelising onions requires pateince but quite worth the effort since it adds an extra dimension. So make sure you make the effort. Once drained they can be stored, so you can make a big batch and store it in the refrigerator.

500 gm sliced onions
200 ml groundnut/sunflower oil
2 pinch of salt

2. A couple of layers of mandolin sliced potato not only adds a delicious layer of crisp potatoes at the very bottom of biriyani pan, but prevents the meat in the lowest layer from overcooking. I routinely put ghee and then put them in overlapping layers. The first layer of meat goes on this, followed by the half cooked rice.