Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saffron and Tarragon flavored Tortellini Soup: Weekend Herb blogging

It's been a long time I posted a proper post. Been crazily busy, nevertheless, the things in the kitchen been interesting as ever although a bit efficient :-) All this cooking should improve something ;)

We could feel Fall temperatures yesterday night and the time called for hearty soup. It was an impromptu recipe...actually started out making chicken tortellini soup, which I made before and was not very impressed about the flavor. So, this time, after a quick search thru my spice and herb stash, found two great ingredients - saffron, tarragon - that can make any chicken dish come alive...in any season.

So, here it is. My entry for Weekend Herb Blogging # 307  brainchild of Kalyn and graciously hosted this week by Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu. I cannot believe WHB is in 300's now. Wow!! Kudos to both Kalyn and Haalo
 


What you need to make this satisfying and healthy soup:

1/2 lb tortellini - I used Barilla spinach and cheese
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped (remove the rough veins before chopping)
1/2 yellow squash or zucchini, roughly slices (optional)
1 Quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
a pinch saffron
1 tablespoon fresh  or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed

How to make the soup:
  • Heat oil/butter on medium-high, add onions, carrot, celery, saffron and a little salt. Saute for a minute. Add tarragon, black pepper, saute for 30 seconds
  • Add chicken broth, bring to boil. Adjust salt if needed, add tortellini. Cook for the time mentioned on the package. Add squash, cream and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (to revive all the flavors). Simmer for 2 minutes
  • For croutons: Instead of using store-brought bread croutons, I just removed the outer layer of a jalapeno bagel, chopped into cubes, pan-fried in a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Serve the soup topped with croutons and enjoy!
Note: This soup can be doubled, just double the ingredients. A pinch of saffron goes a long way...it is not necessary to double that.
Also, pieces of left-over rotisserie chicken (white-meat) can be added with squash pieces.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pasta with favabeans


Got some fava bean pods from local grocer. After searching for recipes briefly, settled on keeping it simple.

Steps:
  • Open 2 lbs of pods to get the beans, blanch them quickly in sales boiling water, shock them in cold water, peel outer layer, keep aside
  • Cook 1 lb pasta per instructions on the package
  • Meanwhile, heat 2Tbsp evoo, add about 15 - 20 cherry tomatoes and 5 cloves of garlic, minced, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add fava beans, salt, pepper, sauté for a minute. Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • Take out from heat, add 2 Tbsp basil pesto and mix gently.
  • Serve with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of evoo. Enjoy!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

India Snapshot

Pictures taken in India -AP

Diwali lights

decorated bull - helping owner to gain livelihood

Fruit on-board

slight rain made street almost deserted


late afternoon traffic


corner shoe repair shop


street-side vendor - selling jackfruit


jackfruit segments - yum!




Sapota - sweet & juicy


Sapota flesh



Samosa - perfect snack with afternoon Chai

Saturday, February 28, 2009

RCI - Andhra Festival Foods Round-up

(after 7 month delay)
First, apologies for all the bloggers who submitted their entries, waited patiently for couple of weeks, lost hope later. Thank you for your entries, patience and hope.
Back to blogging....no, no, dusting off the blog first ;)

Here is the delicious round-up on Andhra Festival Foods: I have sorted the entries by the festivals in the order they are celebrated in a year.

Pongal/Sankranti

Blogger: Trupti
Blog: Recipe Center
Festival Dish: Puran Poli / Bobattu

Blogger: Pallavi
Blog: All Thingz Yummy
Festival Dish: Sorghum/Jowar/Bajra/Jonna Murukulu

Blogger: Raaga
Blog: The Singing Chef
Festival Dish: Puli Saadam

Blogger: Srivalli
Blog: Cooking 4 all Seasons
Festival Dish: Borrelu, Garelu, Kudaalu

Blogger: Uma Priya
Blog: Essence of Andhra
Festival Dish: Wheat Laddu


Ugadi/Telugu-Kannada New Year


Blogger: Padma Rekha
Blog: Plantain Leaf
Festival Dish: Sajjappalu

Blogger: Pallavi
Blog: All Thingz Yummy
Festival Dish: Lenthil Stuffed Sweet Flat Bread/Bakshalu/Bobbatlu/Obbattu/Poli

Blogger: Raaga
Blog: The Singing Chef
Festival Dish: Puli Saadam

Blogger: JZ
Blog: Tasty treats
Festival Dish: Kajjikayalus

Blogger: Srivalli
Blog: Cooking 4 all Seasons
Festival Dish: Borrelu, Garelu, Kudaalu

Blogger: Trupti
Blog: Recipe Center
Festival Dish: Masala Vada

Shri Ram Navmi

Blogger: Meera
Blog: Enjoy Indian Food
Festival Dish: Panagam

Vinayaka Chavithi/Ganesh Chaturdhi

Blogger: Sireesha
Blog: Mom’s Recipies
Festival Dish: Undrallu

Blogger: Andhra Flavors
Blog: For Spicy Lovers
Festival Dish: Jiledikayalu

Vara Lakshmi Vratam:

Blogger: Asha Arvind
Blog: Foodie’s Hope
Festival Dishes: Sojjappalu, Dhapalam, Poori and Murukku

Dasara/Navratri

Blogger: Padma Rekha
Blog: Plantain Leaf
Festival Dish: Sajjappalu

Deepavali/Diwali:

Blogger: Srivalli
Blog: Cooking 4 all Seasons
Festival Dishes: Karjikayalu or Kajjikayalu
and Borrelu, Garelu, Kudaalu

Blogger: Divya Vikram
Blog: Dil Se..
Festival Dish: Athirasam

Ramadan/Ramzan

Blogger: Andhra Flavors
Blog: For Spicy Lovers
Festival Dish: Haleem

Saturday, June 21, 2008

RCI: Andhra Festival Foods

First and foremost, a big apology for starting this event so late. I have completely forgotten when June has started and its time for me to host until Asha has reminded me...Thanks Asha!

RCI - Regional Cuisines of India is brainchild of Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine and this month's feature is Andhra Festival Foods, and I the lucky one got to host it :-)

When I was a kid back home in India, I actually looked forward for the quarterly and half-yearly exams, not just because I loved taking tests, but the actual reason was that soon after quarterly, there were Dasara holidays and soon after half-yearly, there were Sankranthi Holidays. On the last day of tests, my sister and I would literally run home and pickup our packed bags and haste to my grandparents' village. We would meet our friends at village, some still very much native there, some like us are kids whose parents have migrated to nearby town.

Meeting friends, catching up on all current affairs and kiddie gossip in the village, pampered by grandparents, new dresses, lots of mouthwatering dishes, are worth the entire wait...

The pictures are still vivid in my memory... the Dasara processions, Sankranti Rangoli, Deepavali (Diwali) lights, Atla-thaddi swings are all very dear memories for me.

On this occasion of RCI event, I invite you all to post your memories and foods associated with Andhra Festivals.

Since I have started the event late, I hope to buy all of us some time. Here are the rules of participation:
  1. Write a post about Andhra Festival foods on your blog by July 15th.
  2. email me at vani.gntr@gmail.com with RCI:Andhra Festival Foods in the subject and with the following details:
    • Festival Name,
    • Recipe Name,
    • Blog Name,
    • Permalink to the post
  3. Please mention RCI in your post.
I will do a roundup by July 20th.
See ya'all with nostalgic memories and delicious festival foods...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ugadi - New beginning

Just few days back, I was debating whether upgrade some of the old pictures on this blog. From my very first picture/post, I've upgraded my camera, my photographic skills (not too much, but decent). Since I make some of the recipes here frequently, I can always take a new picture and replace the old one. As I was browsing through the blog, I became nostalgic and I felt like every picture spoke to me and reminded me of when I made that, the family members present at that time, all the details...I realized, I lose all these memories for prettiness sake of the blog. So, I chose not to replace them. After all, on this blog, they are supporting the protagonists, the recipes. :-)
Introspection of past (sans over-pondering) is good as it teaches valuable lessons, no matter how the past was, good/bad/or ugly. But, acceptance is key. I've accepted that I was not-so-great-photographer :-) (not that I excel at it now...) But, hey, every moment is a learning opportunity.
 
So, as we move on from past to future via present, on this day of Telugu new year, UgAdi, I wish all of you and your families a very happy new year!
 
Following the tradition, today I made UgAdi PaCHaDi. This PaCHaDi was originally consumed everyday for the first month of the Telugu lunar year. This was done so to ward-off spring related ailments and to boost immunity. Gradually this has been reduced to a ceremonial one day ritual.
 
The paCHaDi supposed to have all six tastes (as per Ayurveda)- sweet, salty, sour (tangy), astringent, pungent/spicy, and bitter. The paCHadi uses ingredients that are available freshly in the season: neem flowers to impart bitterness, green mango, new jaggery or fresh sugar cane. All of these are fresh in the season.
 
What you need to make the paCHaDi:
 
I don't use measurements for this, nor I taste it before offering it in the prayer. 'Eyeballing' measurements comes very handy in making such preparations.
1 medium sized green mango, peeled and chopped fine (imparts astringent and sour tastes)
2 tablespoons "new" tamarind * , soaked in a cup of water (imparts sour taste)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns (imparts pungent/spicy taste)
1/4 cup "new" jaggery * (imparts sweet taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh neem flowers or 2 - 3 teaspoons dried neem flowers (imparts bitter taste)
Rock Salt to taste (of course, imparts salt taste)
 
Preparation:
 
Extract juice from the soaked tamarind.
In a mortar and pestle, crush peppercorns, mango pieces. Add neem flowers and crush again.
Add jaggery and salt, crush to a paste.
Add tamarind juice, mix well.
 
Alternately, put all the ingredients in a food processor, and grind it into coarse paste.
 
Variation: Chopped sugar cane pieces can be added to the paCHaDi at the end.
 
* "new" tamarind and jaggery are the ones that were processed in the very near past, than the ones that were sitting on shelves/panties. Both tamarind and jaggery look paler than their aged counterparts.
 

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eggs kobbari vepudu (eggs in coconut seasoning)



Ingredients to make this dish:
6 boiled eggs (not very hard)
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 green chili, slit vertically
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons freshly grated coconut meat
1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
For tadka/popu: 1 tablespoon cooking oil, 2 sprigs curry leaves, 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional), 1/2 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
Salt to taste
Method:
  • Heat oil on medium heat. When the oil is heated, add curry leaves, mustard seeds, jeera. When the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add onions, green chili, turmeric powder. Stirring occasionally, saute until the onions have softened and are light brown in color.
  • Add salt and red chili powder, mix gently. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add eggs, coconut, lower heat, cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add cilantro, mix gently, remove from heat.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekend in Houston

Hidden in the middle of Houston's concrete jungle is this beautiful (green) jewel, maintained by Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. The Gardens are breathtaking. Simply beautiful, elegant and calming. We initially planned for an hour visit. Soon, we forgot hunger and wandered in the gardens for good 4 hours, yet thirsty for its beauty.

Here are some pictures I've taken.





 















Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Guthi Vankaaya (stuffed brinjal) in old-world way



Many a time, a great meal need not to include extensive list of ingredients or a complicated procedure. This is the recipe that my great-grand-aunt has always made. Two words to describe it...simply superb. Her everyday meals were made with very few ingredients and in a relaxed manner. After a day's work with farming activities, no time toiling around the stove fueled by wood. The meals she made were always full of flavor, thanks to fresher ingredients and simple cooking methods.


What you need to make this flavorful curry:

10-12 small eggplants (brinjals)
3-4 sprigs curry leaves
a handful of cilantro, chopped coarsely
masala Red chili powder (see below)
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil

Masala Red chili powder:
Usually, this powder would be made well in advance and then used daily in cooking.
2 tablespoons red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dhania seeds, dry roasted
1/8 teaspoon jeera seeds, dry roasted
1 small garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, powder together all the ingredients. Dry it for few minutes (moisture comes from garlic) and blend it one more time.
How to make guthi vankaaya:
  • Pick brijals without any bugs. Trim the ends. Place them in a heavy bottomed, wide skillet. Arrange them in a single layer and pour the oil on top. Cover with lid and saute on medium heat till the brinjals (eggplants) are cooked well on one side. This might take 5-7 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low, and turn each brnjal so that the other side can cook. Bring back the flame to medium-high, cover with lid and cook until the other side also coked well.
  • Remove from stove, cool a little.
    Take out all the brinjals from the skillet. Puncture each brinjal in the middle without breaking it into pieces. Put 1/4 teaspoon (to 1/2 teaspoon) masala red chili powder in the puncture. Close gently ( it would not close all the way...that's ok).
  • Return the same skillet back to medium heat. Add curry leaves and cilantro, salt. Saute until curry leaves are fried well. Place the brinjals back in the skillet and saute gently. Lower the heat, cook for a minute and remove from heat.
Best way to enjoy this is, mash the brinjal and mix very well with rice. Adjust salt (usually this dish will have less salt as the brinjals are roasted full). You may add a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter). Yum!