Baked Vegetable Pasta

October 15, 2011

Okay.

So after seven months of being MIA from my blog I thought it was about time I brought it back to life! I will spare everyone from a variety of excuses for why I was essentially just too lazy to update my blog. Mind you I didn’t ever stop cooking in that time so luckily I have some great photographs and recipes to share with you all :-)

This Baked Vegetable Pasta recipe is one that I’m excited to share because it was inspired by a previous dish I have made on this blog. The Ratatouille I shared back in 2010 was a recipe that utilized simple vegetables. So likewise, in this pasta dish I used similar vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper to make a delicious yet simple dish.

Baked Vegetable Pasta Recipe:

For the sauce:

  • 10 ripe tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic-ginger paste
  • a cup of water
For the vegetables
  • 2 medium sized zucchini (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2 medium sized eggplant (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • handful of fresh shredded parmesan cheese for crust
  • few tablespoons of butter for crust
  1. Either use store bought pasta sauce or make the sauce by sautéing the onions in a few tablespoons of oil for a few minutes. Then add the garlic ginger paste and cook for a minute. Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin powder. Add water to thin out the sauce and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  2. Boil the pasta until al dente (tender in the middle) and set aside.
  3. Next, you will need to saute each vegetable in a few tablespoons of oil until tender. This will be about 3-5 minutes depending on the vegetable (for example the eggplant will take less time than the bell pepper). Make sure to season each vegetable well with salt and pepper. As you finish sauteing each batch of vegetables, remove them into a large bowl.
  4. In the same large bowl mix in the sauce, pasta, and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Mix everything well!
  5. In a greased baking dish pour in the pasta mixture. Top with shredded parmesan cheese and dabs of butter to make a crust. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the pasta has become golden brown.
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Considering brownies are one of my all time favorite desserts I thought its about time that I shared a brownie recipe on here. Something that I love to do is take regular recipes and mix them up with different ingredients to create something completely different. And thats exactly what this recipe is. Brownies are so versatile that you have room to be creative and experimental. And to be honest, mixing up and experimenting is what makes good eats. The exact recipe for these brownies can be found here. But basically the recipe has 3 parts:

1. a brownie batter

2. broken pieces of Oreos

3. cream cheese frosting.

Mix the Oreo cookies into the brownie batter then spread in a greased baking dish. Dollop some of the frosting on the batter and swirl with a knife to create a marble effect. Bake for about 22-24 minutes.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

February 27, 2011

*a cake I made for my friend on her birthday using this recipe: decadent chocolate cake but using raspberry jam as a filling and raspberries as garnish*

Chicken 65

February 21, 2011

A name is important not only for people but for food as well. Deviled eggs, mud pie, babaganoush, gooseberries, ratatouille…just a few of the many interesting food names we encounter in our lives. I am always fascinated with how a dish is given it’s name because it plays a huge role in the overall appeal. However, there are several dishes we eat which have unusual names and yet we rarely stop to think about it… maybe because we are just as strange and weird as the food we eat  :-)

Chicken 65 is an Indian dish which is particularly interesting because no one really knows where this name originated from. However, there are many theories:

  1. it was the year it was introduced
  2. its the number of days it took to prepare the marinade, but obviously after 65 days chicken will become …inedible!
  3. its the age of the chicken (65 days old)
  4. its the number of chicken pieces in the dish, but maybe cutting a chicken in 65 pieces would make it more like ground chicken than anything else.
  5. because India has so many chicken dishes, each dish is given a number instead of a name.

I don’t know how many other theories there are but those are the ones that I have heard the most. I’ll confess, I always thought it was because there were 65 ingredients in the dish …until I discovered that would be insane. But whatever it may be, this is an awesome dish. Originally it is pretty spicy and very red in color. However you can always control the spiciness to your taste.

There are two parts in making this dish. The first part is deep frying the chicken and the second part is combining it with the gravy. Both of which are listed in detail below, please use the spice measurements as a guideline as your taste may be less or more spicy than mine. Enjoy!

Chicken 65 Recipe:

To marinate the chicken-

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • salt as per taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • red pepper flakes as per taste

For the gravy-

  • a bunch of curry leaves
  • 3-4 slit green chilies
  • 3 cups of yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red color powder
  • salt

Oil for frying*

First, mix the chicken with ginger and garlic paste, salt, and pepper. Marinate for an hour.

Next, add the flour, corn starch, egg, cilantro and pepper flakes to the chicken and mix very well so that all the chicken pieces are coated.

Drop the chicken pieces into heated oil, and deep fry until golden brown. Keep the friend chicken aside.

In a bowl, mix together the: yogurt, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric, red color, and salt to make a thick paste.

In a wok heat up a few tablespoons of oil and fry the curry leaves for 2 minutes. Then, add the yogurt paste. Cook for a few minutes stirring frequently. Add the cooked chicken pieces and mix well. Keep cooking until all of the sauce has been absorbed by the chicken. Add the green chilies and serve.

Chocolate Blancmange

January 14, 2011

simplicity conquers yet again

Sometimes the most basic recipes turn out the absolute best. The ones that don’t have very many ingredients or complicated techniques. As far as desserts are concerned, they can be quite complex and time consuming. However, every now and then I get a recipe for something really simple to make that tastes amazing. If you have ever wanted a recipe for a quick dessert using whatever ingredients you have at home then you may be interested in trying out a ‘blancmange.’

I never heard of a ‘blancmange’ before my sister in law told me about it. It basically is a very thick pudding type dessert which needs to be placed in a mold and chilled much like jello. You can add any  flavoring you want, but apparently the most common flavor is almond. Similar desserts include Panna Cotta or Bavarian Cream.

We decided to make blancmange with my sister in laws recipe which had chocolate flavoring and it turned out very decadent. The texture was very smooth like pudding and is best when eaten very cold. What I discovered when learning how to make this: it takes no time at all, and is a perfect “go to” recipe when in need of an easy dessert. In fact, it’s amazingly simple, see for yourself:

Chocolate Blancmange Recipe:

  • 4 cups of milk (1 litre)
  • 4-5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 cup walnuts (you can use cashews or almonds instead)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • coarsely chopped chocolate cream cookies (such as oreos with chocolate cream)
  • chocolate bar for garnish (optional)
  • carmel sauce for garnish (optional)

Heat 4 cups of milk in a small pot until boiling. Next, add the sugar and half of the walnuts and stir well; do a taste check of the milk to see if it is sweet enough, add sugar accordingly.

In a small bowl mix the cocoa powder and cornstarch with water until it becomes a liquidy paste; add this to the milk mixture while whisking continuously. Cook until it becomes very thick then turn off the heat and mix in the butter.

Begin layering the blancmange by pouring half of the chocolate mixture into a greased mold (such as a bundt pan). Then make a layer of the cookies and the remainder of the walnuts. Add the remaining of the chocolate mixture and let the whole thing cool for a little while before putting it in the fridge.

Refrigerate for a few hours but ideally overnight will give you the best result.

Once the blancmange has been chilled take it out of the mold onto a plate and garnish with whatever you like such as shavings of chocolate or a drizzle of carmel sauce.

Make slices as if it were a cake and serve! You will find in the middle a layer of the chocolate cookies and walnuts.

Russian Salad

January 6, 2011

If you have ever had Waldorf Salad it is similar to Russian Salad because it has a similar mayo based dressing and combination of different fruits and vegetables. I can’t tell you where Russian Salad originates or anything like that because it’s hard to find online.

But I can tell you that the first place I had Russian Salad was in India and that’s the only place I ever had it. Usually at potlucks and family dinners. So, my sister in law Hafsa and I decided to make it for everyone here and it turned out amazing! The combination of vegetables and fruits seems weird at first but they actually go really well together. And like Waldorf salad that has a mayo based dressing, this one includes sour cream which brings a really great creamy texture to the dressing.

Please use the following recipe as a guideline, as the measurements for the fruits and vegetables will be better to understand after the first time you make it. Plus you will get a better idea of what ingredients you like and what you don’t.

Russian Salad Recipe:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 16 oz can of pineapple tidbits
  • 2 cups of grapes
  • 1 green apple and 1 red apple
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few teaspoons of sugar

Cut the carrots and green beans into half inch strips and set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes into bite size pieces as well and set aside. Boil all three of these vegetables (separately since they have different cooking times) until they are cooked but still have a bite to them. You shouldn’t overcook them because they will become too mushy in the salad and that won’t be good!

Next cut the grapes in half, dice the apples into small pieces, and drain the pineapple tidbits and set aside.

Place all the vegetables and fruits into a large bowl. Whisk together the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar until smooth. Then pour over the salad mixture and combine. Refrigerate overnight, it tastes best when it’s very very cold.

[the picture above is garnished on the part of my sister in law :-) with a tomato peel rose and mint leaves]

Gobi Manchurian

December 24, 2010

My “Winter Break recipes” officially start today. I finished my last exam on Monday and am determined to use this break to contribute some new recipes to my blog :) With all the exams and papers that I had these past few weeks I was finding no time to cook at all. In fact, the most cooking I did was make a bowl of cereal for breakfast.

I thought I would start off the winter recipes with a tribute to one of the best winter vegetables by far: cauliflower.

There are so many ways to make cauliflower, it’s popular in Indian food as well. A good example is Gobi Manchurian, although it is a mixture of Indian and Chinese cuisine, Gobi Manchurian is a very popular dish in India. In fact, I actually first had tried it when I was in India and liked it so much that I decided to re-make it at home.

I think overall, it’s really easy to make and it’s a great appetizer to have for a party. And of course if you’re a fan of cauliflower then I would definitely recommend trying this recipe.

Gobi Manchurian:

  • 1 Medium cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 Tbsp corn flour
  • water (to make paste)
  • salt to taste
  • red chili pepper to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 green chili finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste
  • A few tablespoons of soy sauce
  • A few tablespoons of ketchup
  • finely chopped cilantro for garnish

Make a paste out of the flour, corn flour, salt, red chili powder and water. Add enough water so that the paste is still thick enough to stick on to the cauliflower. Dip the cauliflower in the paste and fry in oil until golden brown. Keep aside when finished.

In a separate pan heat some oil and add the onions, garlic ginger, and green chili. Cook for a few minutes then add some soy sauce and ketchup in order to make enough sauce to coat all of the cauliflower. Add salt and chili powder to this as well to your taste.

Once the sauce is finished add in the fried cauliflower and mix well so that everything is coated. Garnish with cilantro and serve!

Butter Chicken!

November 23, 2010



Ahh I missed blogging these past few weeks! But it turns out things are very busy these days. Aside from school, work, and other side projects I have going on we are preparing for my sister in law’s arrival from India in 2 weeks. But, although my brother is hurrying to get everything settled before his flight on Thursday and my mom is in a frantic rush to perfect the house and my dad is rambling on about my mom’s frantic rush; we are all very very excited.

But getting back to the food, I haven’t posted anything in a while and the post for today is dedicated to any reader who has ever tried something at a restaurant and desperately had to recreate it themselves.

I think we have all been there. You go to a restaurant and have a dish that you can not stop thinking about. And eventually…attempt to recreate it. For me this was: butter chicken. I’ve had this dish in so many restaurants in both America and India and up until now I have never made it myself. The funny thing is I find myself doing this more and more when I eat something at a restaurant. I think of the ways that I could recreate that same dish with ingredients I’m familiar with. It’s actually really fun; kind of like solving a puzzle.

The recipe I used was basically this one by Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor. It’s a pretty darn complicated recipe so I tried to adapt it into simpler terms and I think it turned out really good; easy but still holds true to the butter chickeny goodness. Keep in mind you will need to alter the spice amounts to your taste, so think of this as just a guideline. Hope you like it!

Butter Chicken Recipe:

To Marinate the Chicken

  • 2 lbs of chicken (cut into 2 inch cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

To Make the Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 4 green chilies (chopped)
  • 1-2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 28 oz can of tomato puree
  • 1 cup of fresh cream
  • handful of chopped cilantro

 

Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients listed for at least 1 hour.

Once it is done marinating, pan fry the chicken until very golden brown on all sides. Keep aside.

In a medium sauce pan heat butter until melted. Then add garlic/ginger paste and green chilies and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the red chili powder, salt, fenugreek leaves, garam masala, and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Finally add in the cream and honey and mix well, let this cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked chicken pieces and combine, garnish with cilantro.

Somewhere along the lines we stop chasing after fancy things and realize that we get the most satisfaction and comfort out of the simple pleasures of life: spending time with family, reading a good book and… eating cupcakes.

It’s safe to say that during this time of the year everyone is a bit pumpkin crazy. I went to the store the other day to pick up canned pumpkin for these cupcakes and saw a sign that said “limit 4 cans per day.” Not only that but every coffee shop you turn to you find pumpkin lattes and cappuccinos and pastries. I laughed at first but then realized that I am proudly partaking in this craziness as well because quite frankly pumpkin is darn good.

I found the recipe for these cupcakes from one of my favorite blogs, Annie’s Eats. This cupcake is the ultimate pumpkin goodness, it has the perfect blend of spices that compliment the pumpkin flavor rather than overpowering it. And the cream cheese frosting is so very rich and creamy. It’s honestly one of the best frostings I have ever made. Overall it’s a great cupcake recipe to come back to again and again. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 24-30 cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe (From Annie’s Eats)

  • 2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (I just used allspice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350° and line your cupcake tray with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt in a bowl.

In another medium sized bowl mix together the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar and oil with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each one.  With the mixer on low add the sifted flour mixture until combined.

Fill the batter about three-quarters full in the cupcake liners.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).  Cool completely before you frost (about 10 minutes).

To make the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar

First beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth this should take a few minutes. Then slowly add in the confectioners sugar until all of it is combined. Beat until the frosting is nice and smooth.

Decorate them however you’d like; I used chocolate sprinkles, walnuts, and crushed heath bar.

Martha’s Mac-n-Cheese!

October 18, 2010

It has been insane these past few weeks. Between school, work, home (and the million things in between) it’s been difficult to find time to gather any thoughts to write about. Luckily I’m getting better at managing my time and sorting out my thoughts. This saves you from reading about financial markets and saves me from writing a report for my economics class about a lasagna recipe :-)

Today I would like to share a recipe I tried a while back… some good ol’ macaroni and cheese! I’m not going to tell you that this is the best macaroni and cheese you will ever eat, but I will tell you that it’s pretty darn good. In fact this recipe is probably one of the most popular in the blogging world. If you search for the best mac-and-cheese recipe this one by Martha Stewart is bound to pop up. I had to find out what the hype was all about so I decided to make it and see.

I realized why this recipe is so popular: the sauce. The béchamel sauce of this recipe is what makes this dish “re-heatable”. In other words, you can re-heat this tomorrow and it will still be rich and creamy as when you first ate it. This is very uncommon for typical mac-and-cheese.

Also unlike other mac-and-cheese recipes, this one is not gritty and that is where the cheese plays its role. I never knew this until now but if you use regular cheddar it will cause your mac-and-cheese to be gritty but if you use white cheddar and white cheeses it will have a smoother texture.

However, this recipe is a bit time consuming. You have to make that béchamel sauce (which is basically a flour and milk white sauce) which requires a bit of labor but hey…haven’t you been wanting to make a “béchamel sauce” and be able to impress people with that fancy word?

The recipe itself makes enough for about 12 people so you might want to halve the recipe if you’re not feeding an army.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 6 slices white bread, cut into mini squares
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups grated gruyere
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 3 quart baking dish.

Boil macaroni following the package directions.

Toss the bread pieces with 2 tablespoons of butter and keep aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

Melt the other 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan then add flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring.

Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture and cook until it becomes thick, while whisking.

Take the pan off the heat. Mix in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere

Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Spread out the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere, also spread out the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until golden brown– about 30 minutes. Be sure to cool it before you serve to allow everything to set. Enjoy!