Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Down but not out

Hello Friends,

Hope you all have been well and posting regularly :) No post from me since Monday , that's because Iam under the firm grip of the flu and even though I would love to,I cant post recipes and stories right now. Looks like the Wednesday series might elude me as well.

I will be back in a few days, hopefully fit as a fiddle :))

Ciao
-Meenal

Saturday, March 28, 2009

You asked for it "Grilled Lemon pepper Salmon"

Michele,who is a blogger pal for 4 years now had this to say to me recently “you can still take a picture of food and make it irresistible to the viewer. I’ll have to scroll and see if you have a fun and 'doable' recipe for Salmon. My kids are picky and I'm trying to get them to eat fish. So far, it's not working. But I keep trying because fish is so healthy!

Thanks a ton Michele and not a problem at all :)I grew up eating a lot of fish and it’s an integral part of my diet.So a quick and doable salmon recipe is child's play for me. Some of you who are not into salmon ,must wonder ”what's the big deal??” Well,salmon is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids,amino acids and other minerals which make it perfect in every way.Lets talk some benefits, shall we?
•Muscles, Tissues, Enzymes, Hormones etc
•Cardio-Vascular Health
•Metabolism
•Eye Care
•Brain & Nerves. Read some more here.

Beauty benefits:(ladies do I have your attention now:)?
•helps improve the production of collagen, keratin and melanin.
•prevents dry skin patches
•prevents wrinkles :))Is that reason enough??
•boost's the skin's ability to retain water.
•improves skin texture and adds luster to eyes, skin, hair and nails. More here.

Are we still thinking ??? OK, in that case,lets go to a recipe ,that should surely convert you.Iam going to start with a easy-breezy recipe for salmon .I call it the Grilled Lemon-pepper salmon

You need
4 Alaskan salmon steaks
For marinade
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

This is how you make it
Mix all ingredients of the marinate and pour over the salmon steaks. Cover and let the steaks absorb the marinade for about 10-15 minutes. You are now ready to grill the fish. Place the marinated fish on the grill and let it cook(you could pan fry it, bake,broil it,cook it in foil,whichever technique works for you). If the steaks are thin you could do each side for about 2 minutes and if they are thick , let them cook for about 4 minutes each. Be careful not to move or turn the fish too much ,as it could becomes really soft on cooking and disintegrate.

Garnish with lemon wedges, a sprig of cilantro and serve with salad, steamed vegetables, with rice or as is. Check out another of my salmon recipes here.



Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon


Hope you and your kids like this one, Michele :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Something new something fresh–part 2

Welcome back to my "Something new something fresh" – Wednesday series. Got a good response from my last week’s posting and Iam back with my second post for the series. Read more about part 1 here.



Today’s Chef is Vandana- one of my closest friends.Here's a little testimonial I had written for her once "Smart, pretty, confident, friendly ,caring and a great cook, V is a friend I would custom order, but didn’t have to because I got lucky enough to find her one fine day. One of the most genuine people I know, she’s a terrific mix of traditional and the modern……."And this was 2 yrs ago. Since then our friendship has only grown and she’s like family.


Vandana and I at Durga Puja ,2007


Vandana and I at Durga Puja,2008

Vandana is a Bombay girl(I prefer Bombay to Mumbai:)and loves her spicy street food. She comes from a close knit family and also loves corn, diamonds and Abhishek Bachchan (in no specific order) and claims that she did not cook at all before she moved to the US of A.Haha..Right!! I love her scrumptious dosas and rajasthani food. Finally, here’s the recipe I would like to share from V’s Pandora’s Box- Corn Bhel (an excellent appetizer, mid day snack and very healthy).She made it last yr at a get together and it was finger licking good.

You need
1.5 cups corn–(she used frozen corn)
1 large onion-chopped
2 large potatoes–(she used Yukon gold potatoes)
2-4 green Thai chilies finely chopped(Use 4 if you like it spicy)
2 chopped tomatoes-(optional -she doesn't use it because of allergies)
2 tablespoon cilantro chutney (recipe given below)
2 tablespoon tamarind/date chutney(she used store bought chutneys)
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
1 teaspoon Sandwich Masala (she gets it from Bombay)
1/4 teaspoon Amchur Powder - optional
Sev(Indian crispy noodles) for garnishing-(bought at any Indian grocery store)

Cilantro chutney
4 cups of cilantro leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic.
2-3 green thai chillies.
1 teaspoon (cumin) seeds
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

This is how you make it
For Cilantro chutney:
Grind all the ingredients together and add a little bit of water for consistency. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.
Corn Bhel
Boil the corn with a little salt and turmeric. Drain the water & keep aside.
Boil the potatoes and peel and mash.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients thoroughly and keep aside. This bhel can be served either hot or cold. When you are ready to serve, garnish with the sev.ENJOY!!


Corn Bhel

Monday, March 23, 2009

Soup for the soul

The Weather's been terrible here in Seattle lately but then its almost always bad (seriously,we Seattlites never know if it will rain,snow or be overcast the next hour.The Sun is always playing peek-a-boo,titillating us with occasional appearances through a cloud ridden sky and and then mysteriously disappearing on us for days on end.We are always prepared for the worst).

But even we, were not prepared for the snow storm in Dec'08 when it snowed continuously for week and we were forced to be under house arrest.Our state government was not equipped to handle all the chaos that ensued and all freeways and roads turned into free for all ski resorts.Though all that pristine snow is a sight to behold, its not fun after a week when one runs out of movies to watch,food to cook and people to call.A week then feels like a year.Arrgh, I never want to be in house arrest again with the weather holding me prisoner in my own home. For more pictures of how unforgiving snow in Seattle can be go here:)

Its almost April and we are still getting snow.As if that's not enough....the economic climate makes you want to throw up your hands in despair.With more 650,000 jobs lost in Feb'09 alone and the unemployment steadily climbing up(8.1%),we are learning to reach out for that comfort food,self soothe and just hang in there and hope it will get better.Or will It?

Its for times like this ,that I make my vegetable and turkey soup.A bowl of that, and I am instantly filled with a sense of well being and hope that all will right with the world again, for a few hours at least :) Try it, its good and did I say HEALTHY?

You need

1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 cup chopped medium onion
2 cups ground turkey
4 cups water (you can use chicken or vegetable stock too)
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped Carrots
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms(any kind are fine)
1/2 cup Corn(fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
2 medium chopped Tomatoes
1 18oz can of black beans
1 cup Cooked baby shrimp ( I added them just for fun)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 Bay leaves
2 tablespoons Parsley
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt and Pepper -- to taste

This is how you make it
In a large pot,heat oil and add cumin and bay leaves.When they splutter add onions, mushrooms,carrots,bell peppers,zucchini,corn,black beans and ground turkey.Saute till the vegetables are soft and turkey looks cooked.Add diced tomatoes and saute till they are soft and done.Add salt ,pepper,cumin powder and water.When the soup begins to boil,add the cooked baby shrimp. Cook for a few minutes and stir in parsley.Simmer until done.Take off the soup and serve hot,as is or with bread. You can add a dash of lime juice to the soup.Feel better already? Mission accomplished :))



Vegetable and turkey soup

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Reappearance

Of what, you ask?I shall tell you in a moment or...two!! Well let me tell you a bit about myself first. Iam a marketing professional, also pursuing a course at UW(University of Washington).As part of the course, Iam working on marketing project for which me and my team mates meet every weekend and plan ahead for our project. OKKK, enough of the boring stuff already.The point is,the girls in the team are a lot of fun and we get along very well.Double that fun with food,drinks and conversation, Cheers to more of that:))

We met this morning-bright and early. Alix,our gracious host arranged for coffee bagels,strawberries and whipped cream.Elise got fruit and I got...that's right,this is where it reappeared,THE PINEAPPLE UPSIDE CAKE(TPUC).

One of my favorite cakes, TPUC is an absolute essential on my recipe arsenal.I learnt to bake it when I was 10 and associate it with a lot of special childhood memories.Needless to say, I have baked it again and again.I had blogged about it in Feb2006 when I hosted a party for the Superbowl.Read more about it(here).Back then I was a regular blogger.I suppose,the reappearance of this cake is a sign that I too,have resurfaced and this time no breaks for me.Pull out all the stops,Iam raring to go:)You can find the recipe(here)


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

How did the cake taste??I think I will let this picture do all the talking.All Iam going to say is,Iam so glad everyone liked it and posed happily with the cake.Thanks ladies!!


(From left to right:Elise,Catherine,Me,Holly and Alix)

This recipe is dedicated to team CoreConcepts

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Something new something fresh

Cooking for family, friends and fun is integral to my blog, this is where I publish stories and recipes around the three:).Today I begin, a weekly feature on my blog called "Cooking with friends" Every Wednesday, I will feature a friend of mine and her wonderful recipe:)).Iam very excited and hope you all enjoy reading it as well.



Today's chef is my friend Joyeeta, a sweet and wonderful person she's also a wonderful cook(though she doesn't want to admit to being one.)We met after she came across my blog and we started talking to each other:Joyeeta is inspired by her mom's cooking,and literally cooks up a storm everytime she hosts a party.I have been to many of her parties and you can only imagine,how much good food I have tucked in because of her.Recently,I went to another of her awesome parties and she had yet again outdone herself.Joyeeta has been a sweetheart to share all those recipes from the party and one by one I will feature them all .


Joyeeta and I at the Husky Stadium

Here's one of her many recipes,"chicken Satay with Peanut sauce". Try it, its really yummy:)

You need
For Chicken Satay
Chicken Breast cut lengthwise into strips
Wooden Skewers soaked in cold water for 1/2 hr or more
Marinade
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste (eyeball the measurement)
Siracha chilli sauce (1 tsp)
salt
Cumin powder (1 tsp)
Corriander power (1tsp)
Garlic
Minced Shallots (2 tbsp)
Dark Soy Sauce (2 tbsp)
Brown Sugar (1 tbsp or more depending on taste)
1 tbsp oil

For peanut sauce(Courtesy of the Joy of Cooking)
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tbsps firmly packed light brown sugar ( i just used dark)
1 tbsp fish sauce (i used a little)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp canned Thai Massaman Curry Paste (i used Thai red curry paste)
1/2 tsp curry powder

This is how you make it
Chicken satay :Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and taste it to adjust any of the ingredients before adding the chicken.
You can also puree the marinade.Put the washed chicken strips into the marinade and let it sit for 2hrs to 4 hrs.Thread the skewer with each chicken strip.Hi Broil for 10 mins on one side,5 mins on the other.Time varies with each oven so keep checking to see if it's cooked, it should have a nice golden brown color. Garnish with basil leaves.

Peanut sauce :Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan.Whisk in a 1/2 cup hot water thoroughly.Simmer, stirring occasionally, over low heat until the flavors are well blended, 15 to 20mins. Stir in:Fresh lime juice.Serve it warm with the chicken satay!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Hawaiian Baby shower and some chowmein

What a title :))Was at a good friends "Hawaiian " babyshower yesterday which was tremendous fun.It was so funny because there was rain all around and the weather was anything but Hawaiian.Turned out to be one of the most colorful babyshowers I have been to, with everyone in their Hawaiian best.The venue -N&N's place(gracious hosts),the cake- really cute,the food-outstanding (we did potluck..noodles baked in white sauce,fruit salad, pasta salad,chowmein,hummus&pita bread),charming decor ,fun games and great company all around.Even with the weather being a party pooper,what a fine Saturday indeed!


The beautiful cake :)


Me and mine felt Hawaiian and so colorful


The lovely parents to be

Our friends have chosen a beautiful name for their soon to arrive to bundle of joy(cant disclose it till she's here)and we wish them the very best.

I&P,here's a little poem for your baby girl

"Tiny fingers, tiny toes,
Little itty bitty clothes.
Dresses, ribbons & hair to curl,
We're tickled pink I&P are having a girl!"



A dress and cute little shoes for baby M

So what did Aunty Meenal make for the babyshower?She volunteered to make Chowmein for the potluck style party,which was well appreciated .Some of my friends asked for the recipe and here it is

You need
2 pounds precooked Yakisoba noodles(I get them at Costco)
2 medium sized onions-finely sliced
2 bell peppers-julienned(I chose orange and yellow for color)
3 cups baby spinach (any other will also do)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (crimini or button)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

This is how you make it

Heat the oil in a deep vessel and add diced onions, bellpeppers and mushrooms. Stir till the veggies start looking transparent and slightly wilted. Add the baby spinach and cover for a minute. All that spinach will have wilted down, you can now add salt and cover again.Once the veggies look like they are done , add in the yakisoba noodles, soy sauce and fold in everything so the veggies are nicely blended with the noodles. Top with black pepper and take off the heat. Serve hot :)



Vegetable Chow Mein
Cheers to the lovely parents to be :))

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Freindship award

And there it was ..the "Freindship award " from one of my newest Blogosphere buddies Anu. Thanks so much Anu, Iam smiling right now.

Here's what her blog read "It’s time for celebration. For what? Blogging pal Priya Sriram has awarded me “FRIENDS” award.I am elated to receive this award buddy. So sweet of you to remember me.For more read(here)

The award comes with the following tag:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers." Here are 8 of my blogging buddies.

(Asha from Foodies Hope)
(Indira from Mahanandi)
(Lubna from Kitchen Flavors)
(Kay from Towards a better tomorrow)
(Food Fanatic)
(Sandeepa from Bong Mom's Cookbook)
(Trupti from the Spice who loved me)
(Usha from Veg Inspirations)

Congrats you guys and pay it forward to 8 of your friends .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holi Hai

Happy Holi everyone :)) For my non Indian readers who want to know what Holi is , here is some info(Holi).Every time around Holi and Diwali,I miss home so much its almost painful. My mind is flooded with good times and memories-friends and family hanging out,mom's superlative cooking,dad's organizing a community dinner and us kids helping organize and being mom's side kicks in the kitchen.

Holi was always such a blast.We started the day in our old clothes because we knew that they would be unrecognizable at the end of the day ,so why bother.White was the color of choice since it showcased all the other colors we would play with,so well.Some of us were more adventurous and wore new white and paid the price for it:))

Mom would start preparing all the goodies on Holi eve -gujhia, mathi, chaat, kachoris, gulabjamuns ,other sweets and a lunch menu(gosh, the woman never tired).Come Holi morning and we had a stream of visitors-applying dry colors on each others face and exchange holi goodies-funnn!!The ritual continued with us visiting more friends.After we had played dry holi for a few hours,the kids would graduate to the wet holi(mixing dry colors with water,the more adventurous tried to mix colors that would not come off for many days).We would splash that colored water one each other, over and over again on each other till we could not tell who the other person was .It was hilarious to return to school next day with pink ears or purple hands.Ofcourse none of us gave any thought to how all that color would come off. Let me just tell you, it took hours of cleaning just to look normal again, but always worth it.


The dry colors

And now to the Yummy part.We had our traditional Holi lunch of rajma(kidney beans), dahi bada/dahi vada/dahi bhalley( fried,salted lentil donuts in spicy yogurt),pulao(basmati rice with seasoning),poori(fried Indian flat bread),other side dishes that varied and kheer(stove top pudding made with rice, milk and sugar).Mom made sure, she passed on her recipes to her 3 kids and we proudly carry on the tradition to this day.The day ended with more friends visiting and before we knew it the day was over and we were already waiting for Next year.I still do:)

Holi in the US of A can be a lot of fun with the right people and Iam lucky to have the right people in my life. Though mom and dad can't be here all the way from India , I always feel their presence and blessings in all festivities and my celebrations with freinds.Here's one of my previous holi posts.(Holi 2007)and one of my holi recipes here(Tomato Paneer)


Holi 2008

Here are pictures from one of my host fun holi ever ..Holi 2005,we organized a get together and had about 20 friends over


just to give you an idea of the physical transformation


and how colorful too


What's holi without some singing?

So what's cooking in my kitchen for Holi 2009 How about some dahi vada(or dahi bhalley)?Dahi vada is popular street food and also is a great side dish to many an Indian dinner/lunch parties.Its essentially vadas(fried,salted lentil donuts) in thick,spicy yogurt sauce.
You need:

1 cup urad dal( washed, soaked overnight and ground to a fine paste.Dont add too much water or the vadas will not hold their shape)
2 inch piece of ginger grated
2-3 green chillies finely chopped
salt to taste
oil for deep frying(I use canola oil, you can use what you want)
2 cups yogurt
4 cups water
Red chili powder to taste
Tamarind chutney(you can pickup ready made chutney at the Indian store)
some lukewarm water to soak the vadas for a few minutes

For garnish
2 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoon dahi vada masala(available at Indian grocery stores)
1 teaspoon red chili powder
chopped coriander leaves

This is how you make it
Fold in the grated ginger, green chillies and salt to the urad dal paste and salt.
Pre-heat oil for fryingand roll up your sleeves:)wet your palm with some water and place some urad dal batter on it.Shape it like a donut,then dip your finger in water and poke a penny sized hole into the donut.Gently drop it into the hot oil.(often times, the donut looks done from the outside but actually isn't cooked on the inside.The key is to have the oil at the right temperature and fry it till it turns a golden brown.Dont leave it in the oil too long, it turns dark and hard very fast).Now place these vadas into the lukewarm water you had kept aside. Let them soak for a few minutes and watch them .Dont let them turn all soggy. Take them out,remove the excess water by pressing between both your palms and keep aside.Now, prepare the yogurt with water,and salt(to taste). Blend into a smooth consistency. Divide into two parts. Add the vadas to the first part.Once that's done,pour the second part of the yogurt on top of the vadas.You can perform this step in a nice serving dish or you could do it seperately and then transfer it to a serving dish. Once in the serving dish,add the tamarind chutney in pretty patterns, then repeat the pattern with red chillies, dahi vada masala and cumin powder. In the end add some chopped coriander for that pop of color.(My picture doesn't have the coriander , I know ..I forgot)
There you go. Enjoy this colorful , sweet and savory dish.I look forward to posting more pictures from Holi 2009 celebrations on the weekend


This recipe is dedicated my family and friends

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Worlds Best Food Blogger .. In Ballard , Washington???

Yes,that's right. Molly Wizenberg is based in Ballard, WA and writes(Orangette).According to Rebekah Denn, Seattle P.i's food writer "Food blogs abound -- as do books from blogs -- but Wizenberg always has stood out as a storyteller as well as a cook, each written entry a jewel box of an essay and an impeccable recipe."Iam a big fan and totally agree. Molly, good luck with your new book "A homemade Life". Read more(here)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Bundt Cake anyone ?

A Bundt cake is a dessert cake cooked in a Bundt pan forming it into a distinctive ring shape. Bundt cake is pronounced "bunt", the "d" being silent and comes from the german word bund for a gathering.courtesy Wikipedia).A bundt pan is a round baking pan with a tube in the middle with fluted, decorated sides.more at The Find).I got mine at Costco and the results were very pleasing.Here Iam sharing the recipe with you
You need
2 cups granulated sugar
2.5 teaspoons vanilla/vanilla essence
4 eggs
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts(walnuts and raisins)
3 cups flour
Powdered sugar for garnish or topping

This is how you make it
Beat 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs. Sift the dry ingredients, then blend into the mixture.Finally add the nuts and fold in.Pour the batter into the greased Bundt pan.Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Remove from pan while hot.Cool cake and sprinkle with powdered sugar.I garnished the cake with sliced cherries and scooped melon balls(this is totally optional by the way.I just wanted to add some color)



Enjoy:)

Bharwa Karela

Iam so happy to be back and writing on my blog again. After the not so positive returning post,let get's to my first recipe of the year.

Iam very fond of karela.For those of you not familiar with the Karela, its also called bitter gourd(yes,its bitter but there are ways to do away with that.)From what I know, the bitter gourd has excellent medicinal virtues and one of its multiple medicinal uses if for diabetic patients to lower their sugar.Iam sure its got a ton of other uses(let's save that for another day.)I can tell you that as a child, I did not deal well with this weird looking, oh-my-god-bitter vegetable(but then kids are famous for not eating their veggies.My mom was very persistent though and with time I have come to love this humble looking green colored vegetable.



Before you even ask me, I want to tell you how to remove the bitterness. Once its peeled,karela is rubbed with salt and then left alone for a while.The juice that oozes from this process this process is drained and voila,you are now ready to make "stuffed bitter gourd" a.k.a bharwa karela or any other preparation that you may want.Let's start,shall we?:))

You need:

8 long Bitter Gourds
5 grated Onions(I use the box grater)
2 teaspoons Ginger paste
2 teaspoons garlic paste
2 teaspoons Amchur(Dried Mango Powder)
1 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
2 teaspoon Coriander Powder
2 tablespoons canola oil to pan fry(you can use any other oil)
1.5 teaspoon to cook the stuffing
salt to taste

This is how you make it:

Wash and peel the bittergourds. Slit them in the Center keeping the end intact. Sprinkle salt on the peeled bittergourds(eye ball it)and let them sit for half and hour.Fry the grated onions till they turn brown,then add ginger and garlic and stir.Add dried mango powder,red chilly powder,coriander powder and cook.Take it off after its cooked and let the mixture cool. Now pan fry the bittergourds carefully till they turn brown in color.keep them aside and let them cool.Your stuffing and bittergourds are now ready for the next step.Stuff the bittergourds with the mixture carefully, leave a spoon or two for later.Now arrange them in a pan, add the mixture, remaining oil and a little bit of water, the remaining mixture and cover the pan.Now cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with rotis/paratha.



I dedicate this recipe to my friend "V" who loves it:) Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Long time no see ..its the recession, I tell you:)

Hope you are all doing well and posting prolifically on your blogs.If not then,Iam sure that all you readers have been very busy checking out the myriad blogs out there,increasing their web traffic.

It's recession time!! So,what does the recession mean for Restaurants "With job losses mounting and diners staying at home, some share values have fallen out of the frying pan and into the fire.IHOP shares have dropped nearly 90 percent. Applebys and Ruby Tuesday have also seen nearly 90 percent share price declines."Everyone is pulling back," KeyBanc Capital Markets restaurant analyst Lynne Collier told USA Today. "The economy is playing into it." (read more: Here)

Does recession mean more cooking at home ..yes , it does .According to NPR food commentator Bonny Wolf " The recession has brought back home-cooked meals in a big way.It will mean an increase in cooking classes, because people will have to learn how to cook since we haven't been cooking at home for many years," she says.
(read more: Here)

Somber though for troubled times.


(courtesy: Here)

And on that "very positive note",Iam back. Will be posting a lot of recipes from here on out- some recession proof, some not, definitely a wider range of topics facilitating more discussion. Let me know through your comments if you want to see something else on my blog.

Ciao for Now :)
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