Search results for 'breakfast'

Spinach & Pepper Jack Cheese Muffins

16 Apr

IMG_2632We live in a world filled with uncertainty and reoccurring horrific events that are so complicated to fathom. The news coverage of these recent tragic recent events – Boston and Baghdad bombings, fatal earthquake in Iran and the continuing Syrian Civil War send shivers down my spine.  The images depicting carnage of innocent citizens and widespread annihilation of their towns and cities reiterate the fragility of human lives and the world we live in. They are reminders that everyday is a gift and one must constantly cherish and love our family and friends.

The very ethos of this blog is to express your love and nurture by cooking for the special people in your life. Now more than ever, I must reiterate “Cook for someone you love”.  While we think and pray for all the families stricken by these ghastly events let’s also remember to articulate our love for the important people in our lives.  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.

Continue reading

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.

Healthy Quinoa Upma

10 Jan

IMG_2391

I revealed my love for Indian breakfasts when I shared my Chai Chocolate Truffles Recipe a few weeks earlier. I have always loved a good Upma for breakfast. Upma, is a common South Indian savory breakfast dish made with dry-roasted semolina. Vegetables and spices are added in the cooking process to create a wholesome and delicious breakfast item.

Since I am still repenting for my gluttony in the last few months of 2012, I wanted to recreate my favorite upma with a lower carbohydrate and higher protein substitute for semolina. The ingredient is (yes, yet again!) the super food – Quinoa! Quinoa, turned out to be a perfect textural substitute and a wonderful blank canvas to be enriched by the tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little ghee (clarified butter).  I only included peas and corn for the vegetable additions to this upma, but you can substitute or supplement them with  cauliflower, green beans and even cabbage. This upma is sure to satisfy your palate without undoing your ongoing New Year’s resolution of eating healthy.

Quinoa Upma Recipe
Time: 25 minutes
Yield: About 3.5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, washed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons of ghee/clarified butter (See note)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • ½ cup red onions, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 green chilies, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • ½ cup frozen green peas, defrosted
  • ½ cup frozen yellow corn, defrosted
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, chopped (optional)
  • Store bought mint chutney/cilantro chutney as an accompaniment (optional)

Note:

Method:
1) In a medium pot cook 1 cup of Quinoa along with 2 cups of water, as per the package instructions. When cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside.
2) In another medium non-stick pot heat the oil and ghee on medium heat. Once the oil is heated add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the curry leaves and cook them for 1 minute.
3) Now add the onions and green chilies and sauté until the onions start to change color. Add the ginger paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the peas and corn along with 1-2 tablespoons of water and cover and cook till the peas and corn are tender.
5) Add ½ teaspoon red chili powder and salt to taste. Now add the quinoa and toss gently to mix all the ingredients into the quinoa.
6) Turn off the heat and remove from the stove-top. Add the cilantro and give the quinoa another quick toss.
7) Season with lemon juice to taste and garnish with crushed peanuts. (Add more salt if you need to at this stage).This can be served by itself or with an accompaniment of store-bought mint or cilantro chutney.

Chai Chocolate Truffles

13 Dec

Chai chocolate truffles

I have taken longer than usual to post a recipe as I was en-route to India, followed by an onslaught of jetlag and a plethora of friends and family to catch up with. Amidst all this frenzy, I am basking in the immense pampering that comes with visiting my parents’ and relishing the diverse foods of Mumbai that I so miss in DC. Not only do I miss the food, but also the importance that is placed on all meals, specifically breakfast.

Breakfasts are an elaborate affair in most Indian households, especially at my parents’ place. While the menu is ever evolving, a staple at their breakfast table is an abundance of heart-warming cups of masala chai. Masala chai is a tea drink prepared by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. The combination of spices and herbs may vary but green cardamom and ground cinnamon are common ingredients.

At breakfast, earlier this week while I was sipping contently on my second cup of masala chai my husband broached the subject of making chocolate truffles. I am always looking to switch up flavorings for chocolate truffles and the apt timing of our conversation lead to developing this chocolate truffle recipe. These luscious truffles melt in your mouth, revealing a magnificent synchronization of earthy masala chai and creamy, decadent chocolate. Try these at your own risk – you will probably pack in more truffles than you serve your friends and family!

Chai Chocolate Truffles Recipe
Yield: 24 truffles (depends on size)
Time: Preparation 30 minutes; Refrigeration 18 hours

Ingredients:
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2.5 tablespoons honey
2 black tea bags (I used Lipton Yellow Label Tea)
6 green cardamom pods, bruised
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon powder
8 oz good quality semisweet chocolate, cut up into bite size chunks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cocoa powder for dusting (Optional)
Crushed or chopped pistachios for coating (Optional)

Method:
1) Place the bite-sized chunks of chocolates in a medium glass bowl and set aside.
2) In a medium saucepan, heat the cream along with the tea bags, cardamom pods, cinnamon powder and honey on medium-high heat, until it reaches a boil. Once it reaches a boil remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes. Squeeze the tea-bags to get all the flavor out of them. It takes about 30 minutes for the chai flavors to infuse into the cream.
3) Re-boil the cream mixture and remove from the heat once it comes up to a boil.
4) Using a mesh strainer, pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate chunks and let it rest for 2 minutes. Discard the teabags and cardamom pods. Use a whisk and slowly start mixing the chocolate and cream until you get a smooth mixture. It is important to do this slowly to ensure that minimal air bubbles enter the mixture.
5) Now add the butter and whisk well, till it is fully incorporated. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours.
6) Take a large bowl and fill it with cold water and ice cubes. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator.
7) Dip your hands in the ice-bath and then dry them completely. Roll the chocolate mixture into one inch size balls. Note: I use a rounded tablespoon measure to ensure that all the truffles are even in size. I usually need to repeat the step of dipping my hands in the ice-bath and drying them 1-2 times in the middle of rolling out 24 truffles. Body heat melts the ganache and makes it difficult to form even balls. The ice bath step helps reduce this. This is a messy and tedious but extremely rewarding process.
8) Place the rolled balls in a serving platter and refrigerate for another 6 hours.
9) After 6 hours (or more) remove the chocolate truffles from the refrigerator and coat them with cocoa powder or crushed pistachios.
10) Refrigerate the chocolate truffles for at least another hour after coating them and before serving.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Hash with Fried Eggs

23 Nov

If you cooked a holiday meal yesterday, it is safe to assume you have leftovers that may include turkey (or chicken or ham), herbs, gravy and chicken stock. We had some herb-roasted turkey breast, fresh herbs and gravy leftover. Here is the recipe of what I did with our leftovers today. I love a good breakfast hash that’s topped with fried eggs. There is something divine about runny yolks on slightly charred and crispy potatoes and onions. Granted this is not a diet recipe, but it’s still Thanksgiving weekend – so go ahead and indulge a little more.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Hash with Fried Eggs Recipe
Serves: 2
Time: 25-30 minutes (start to finish)

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into small pieces (See note)
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
¼ – ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup leftover cooked turkey, ham or chicken, cubed (See note)
2 tablespoons of leftover, gravy or chicken broth (See note)
1 tablespoon grated parmesan or asiago cheese
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of parsley for garnish

Notes:

  • Cut the potatoes into really small cubes. This will reduce the cooking time significantly.
  • Use whatever leftover cooked meat you have – turkey (white or dark meat), chicken (white or dark meat) or cooked ham.
  • If you have gravy or chicken stock leftover, it’s great to use it to warm up the leftover meat without drying out the juices. If you do not have any left, just use some water.
  • The bottoms of the potatoes (touching the skillet) will get dark brown, while you are cooking the eggs. Do not worry – the slightly charred taste is amazing!

Method:
1) In a 10 inch non-stick skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and jalapeno to the oil and cook till the onion is soft.
2) Now add the potatoes and stir them to coat them well with the oil. Add the chopped rosemary and thyme, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally till the potatoes are fork tender. If the potatoes start to stick to the bottom, add a little more oil and stir them more frequently.
3) While the potatoes are cooking in a small saucepan heat the broth, gravy or water and add the turkey to it. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the turkey/chicken/ham is warm and slightly moist.
4) Once the potatoes are cooked, add the turkey/chicken/ham to the potatoes and toss everything together. Add the cheese and stir for 30 seconds.
5) Now make a nice even bed of everything in the skillet and break the eggs (one by one) on the hash. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Now uncover and complete cooking the eggs till the whites are fully formed and the yolks are still slightly runny (or to the doneness that you prefer). Season the eggs with salt and pepper once they are cooked.
6) Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad or leftover dinner rolls for a complete meal.

Orange Zest and Saffron Dutch Baby

15 Oct

They say you live and you learn. I say you cook and you learn.

Ever had a culinary discovery that has blown your mind away and left you wondering why you hadn’t discovered it sooner?  I recently had one of these breakthroughs when I learnt about a “Dutch Baby”.

A Dutch Baby is a German pancake that is a cross between a pop-over and a pancake. It is baked in a sizzling-hot skillet in the oven until the sides of the pancake rise high above the edges of the pan and the center is light and puffy. The base ingredients eggs, flour and milk are always in the proportion or 1: ¼: ¼, so you can easily scale-up this recipe to feed a crowd. And unlike, traditional pancakes you will not find yourself slaving over the stove-top making individual pancakes, the oven will do all the work for you.

The batter is extremely versatile and can be flavored with any combination of flavors you like. I chose saffron as saffron-kissed Malpuas (Indian pancakes) are my weakness. The orange zest pairs harmoniously with the saffron and gives this classic German pancake an exotic twist. This recipe is perfect for breakfast or brunch and if you love it like I do, it may even become a daily tea-time snack.

Orange Zest and Saffron Dutch Baby
Yields: 2-3 servings
Time: Active time:  5 minutes Inactive time: 30 minutes
 
Ingredients:
2 eggs at room temperature (See note)
½ cup milk at room temperature
½ teaspoon saffron
½ cup of sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon sugar
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar for topping (See note)

Notes:

  • For the Dutch Baby to be light and fluffy and for it to rise well, it is extremely important that the milk and eggs are at room temperature. Set them out on your kitchen counter one hour before you are going to make this to ensure they come to room temperature.
  • I like to just top this with powdered sugar, but you can get really creative with toppings. Like a pancake you could top this with maple syrup or Nutella or berry compote or any topping you enjoy. The Dutch Baby that comes out of the oven is not sweet, so you will need powdered sugar or another sweet topping to sweeten it.
  • When scaling-up this recipe keep in mind that for every one egg, you need a ¼ cup of flour and a ¼ cup of milk. Also scale-up the added flavorings. The cooking time will also vary based on how much batter you have.

Method:
1) Place a 10 inch oven proof skillet in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400 degree F (205 degree C). Wait 5-8 minutes before you start preparing the other ingredients. You want the batter to be ready only when the oven is pre-heated as you do not want it sitting around.
2) Warm up the milk in the microwave for 20 seconds (do not over warm it). Add the saffron to this milk, stir well and set aside for 3-4 minutes.
3) In a medium bowl beat the eggs until they are light. Slowly stir the milk into the eggs.
4) Now whisk in the flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, orange zest, sugar and salt. Make sure you remove all the lumps while whisking.
5) Remove the skillet from the oven (make sure are wearing oven mitts) and place the butter into the hot skillet and swirl it around till it melts.
6) Once the oven is pre-heated pour the batter into the skillet and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes till it is golden brown on the edges and puffed in the center. If you want it more custardy in the center, then remove it from the oven a little sooner.
7) Remove it immediately after it’s baked and add the powdered sugar or any other sweet topping. Cut it in slices and serve.


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