Archive | March, 2013

Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Popcorn

28 Mar

Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Popcorn

One of two things is likely to occur when you savor this Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Popcorn:

1)      You will stop going to the movies and start watching every movie at home with a big batch of this popcorn.

OR

2)      You will start making this popcorn and sneaking it into movies theatres. Please do not blame me if you get caught. 

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Spring Fling: Edamame Chaat

26 Mar

Edamame ChaatIf you are an immigrant you know that “identity” is a loose and often elusive term. More that often you find yourself distanced from the ways of your birth country, and yet no matter how hard you try you may never completely belong in your adopted country.  Do not despair, because food often helps bridge the gap!

Food is an intrinsic part of our identities and for an immigrant easy access to childhood meals helps ease and speeds the process of settling into a new country.  This takes time and there’s certainly a learning curve. You will eventually know where to find obscure ingredients (that weren’t obscure where you came from), or discover the perfect substitutes for them.  Continue reading

Tomato & Lemongrass Broth with Orzo

20 Mar

Tomato Lemongrass Soup with Orzo

Mother Nature is playing cruel tricks on us this year. We are well into March and every time there is a faint glimpse of spring, the Weather Gods dampen our spirits with a cold front or a wintery-mix. This atypical weather makes it rather challenging to determine seasonal produce. Winter produce is almost on its way out. Spring and even summer produce is starting to preview in stores, but more than often the quality is far from desirable. So meals and menus need to be planned in the grocery store based on whatever looks good – winter, spring or summer produce – your guess is as good as mine, till you are in the store.

Last week I came across some remarkable Roma tomatoes, despite it being quite early in the year for them. Given my insatiable love for tomatoes, I returned home with several pounds of these beauties, that found their way into a heartwarming soup recipe.  Continue reading

Hash Brown & Vegetable Mini Frittatas

14 Mar

Hash Brown & Vegetable Mini FrittatasAs we (slowly) move into spring, brunches are on everyone’s minds. And why shouldn’t they be? It’s almost time for Easter and even if you do not celebrate Easter after a long winter it’s time to start brunching again. Hosting a brunch is also one the best ways to entertain friends and family. It is an inexpensive and hassle free way to entertain with flavorful and charming dishes. Several brunch dishes can be prepared in advance so you can join your guests and indulge in those Mimosas or Bloody Marys.

Frittata’s are a great way to feed a crowd at brunch.

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Orange & Cardamom Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

11 Mar

Orange and Cardamom Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

Feeding Your Appetite is 6 months old, and we are celebrating with a divinely decadent dessert!

Panna cotta (Italian for cooked cream) is a classic Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing it with gelatin and letting it cool until set. Using Greek yogurt instead of the milk creates a variation from the classic Italian dessert. The Greek yogurt creates a tangy and creamier Panna Cotta. The flavors of the cardamom with the Greek yogurt are suggestive of an Indian Shrikhand (Indian hung yogurt sweetened and flavored with cardamom). But it’s the addition of the cooked cream, orange extract and gelatin that make this dessert a closer relative of the Italian Panna Cotta than the Indian Srikhand.

This is one of those desserts that are effortless to create and yet it portrays you as a Master Chef, mesmerizing all when it’s served. So go ahead and have yourself a Master Chef moment!

Orange & Cardamom Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta
Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten’s Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries
Time: Active 15 minutes   Inactive 24 hours for setting
Yield: 5 (4-5oz) ramekins

Ingredients:
Panna Cotta Ingredients:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1 ½ tablespoons of cold water
1 ½ cups of heavy cream, divided
1 cup whole-milk (full fat) Greek Yogurt (See note)
½ teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (See note)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon fine granulated sugar
Orange segments for garnishing

Orange Sauce Ingredients:
½ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
½ tablespoon of butter
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon sugar

Notes:

  • If you live in a country where it is hard to find Greek yogurt then just replace it with regular whole-milk (full fat) yogurt. The resulting Panna Cotta will be a little less creamy and a little less tangy but will still taste great.
  • If you do not have pre-ground cardamom use a mortar-pestle to break the pods and remove the seeds. Grind the cardamom seeds in a spice or coffee grinder or using your mortar-pestle.

Method:
1) In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 1 ½ tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set it aside for 10 minutes to let the gelatin dissolve.
2) In the meantime, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek Yogurt, ¾ cup of cream, the orange extract, 1 tablespoon of orange zest and the ground cardamom.
3) In a small sauce pan stir together ¾ cup of cream and the 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar and bring it to a simmer on medium heat. Keep stirring till the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the softened gelatin and stir to dissolve.
4) Pour this hot cream mixture into the cold yogurt and cream mixture and stir to combine.
5) Pour the mixture into 5 (4-5oz) ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
6)  For the Orange sauce: In a small sauce pan heat all the sauce ingredients for about 15-20 minutes, until all the ingredients are well combined and the sauce is reduced to the consistency you want. Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside to cool.
7) To serve: Run a small knife around each dessert in the ramekin and dip the bottom of each ramekin for 3-4 seconds in a bowl of hot tap water. Invert onto a dessert plate and spoon some sauce over each one. Garnish with orange segments

Indian Whole-Wheat Pancakes

5 Mar

Saffron and Cardamom pancakes

My earliest memories of pancakes are my dadi’s (paternal grandmother’s) “meetha pudas”. They are eggless, whole-wheat pancakes laced with Indian spices and cooked in ghee (clarified butter). Reflecting on these pancakes conjures up several food memories of my childhood that are often centered on my grandmother’s cooking.

My grandmother embodied the very concept of “Feeding Your Appetite”, expressing the depth of her love through her cooking. I believe that my innate desire to cook for the ones I love is something I inherited from her. Unfortunately, my grandmother never experienced the birth and development of my culinary passion and I never had the opportunity to cook for her. Since my blog is just a week shy of its 6th month anniversary, I wanted to share a recipe that could have played a small part in developing my culinary zeal.

These pancakes are laced with fragrant Indian spices – fennel seeds, cardamom powder and saffron. Replacing all-purpose flour with

Saffron, cardamom and fennel seeds

whole-wheat flour and eliminating the eggs creates a healthier alternative to traditional pancakes. I use lesser sugar in the batter in order to add honey in the end, which really augments the flavors of the Indian spices. These pancakes are perfect for a nourishing breakfast (or after-school snack) and are a remarkably delightful way to show someone how much you care.

Indian Whole-Wheat Pancakes
Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4-5 large pancakes

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon 2% milk, slightly warm
1/8 teaspoon of saffron
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons fine granulated or powdered sugar
¾ Teaspoon of green cardamom powder (See note)
1 ½ teaspoons of fennel seeds
1-1 ¼ cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil divided
Good quality honey for drizzling on the pancakes

Note:

  • Cardamom powder is readily available in all grocery stores. In case you only have whole cardamoms pods at home you can easily make cardamom powder. In a mortar with a pestle break apart the cardamom pods and discard the green skin. Use the pestle or a coffee grinder to powder the seeds of the cardamom pods.

Method:
1) Crush the saffron with your fingers and add it to the warm milk. Mix it and set it aside for 10 minutes.
2) While the milk and saffron is set aside, you can start making the rest of the pancake batter. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the whole-wheat flour, baking soda, sugar, cardamom powder and fennel seeds.
3) Add 1 cup of milk and the saffron and milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir all the ingredients well but do not over-mix – it is okay to have a few lumps. If the consistency of the batter is too thick then add in the remaining ¼ cup (or some part of it) to this batter.
4) Heat a skillet or a griddle to medium-high heat.  Heat the oil in batches and add 1/4 – 1/5 of the batter in the center of the skillet and spread out to make a round pancake. Cook till brown on both sides and the insides are fully cooked. Repeat this process till all the pancakes are made.
5) Serve hot drizzled with a good quality honey.

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