Tomato Takatak

On the rare occasions I browse through recipe books, I have been always flummoxed by sun-dried tomatoes. I know what sun dried tomatoes are. I love them. But I am damned if I know where I can obtain them.

So in the spirit of necessity is the mother of invention, I set out to conjure them up. Common sense dictated that putting cut tomatoes in the sun was not the likely solution. Ants would eat them. Or I would forget about them or in the Indian sun, they would become chargrilled tomatoes.

That’s when I had an eureka moment – let us try the microwave! Not content with just trying out the tomatoes, I added some what I call my pizza-ingredients – and voila, a fairly interesting appetizer type thingummy was born.

Ingredients:
2 crisp red tomatoes cut vertically into four
3 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1/4th tsp Basil
1/4th tsp Oregano
1/4th tsp Freshly ground Pepper.

Instructions

Place the tomatoes face down on a flat microwave dish. Add all the other ingredients to it.

Microwave for about seven minutes ( or more if you prefer that slightly brown, crisp taste)

And you can try it with combinations, add the odd onion, put it on browned, buttery toast, put it with onions and lettuce and make it into a salad, add olives and some o-love will happen ( as usual, we try to give full paisa vasool in the recipes, four for the price of one)

Not what one would call a filling meal, but it can deceive your brain + stomach into thinking its eaten actual continental.

Veggies in sweet & sour gravy (I’m sure this has a better name, but I can’t recall)

You need:

Stuff. Preferably –

Capsicum (1 green + 1 red or yellow, chopped into 1 inch squares) Or bell peppers, if you swing that way.

Onion (1 medium, chopped into 1 inch squares. The 1 inch is just my way of sounding less haphazard. Don’t go taking rulers into the kitchen and measurin’. Chop as you please.)

Broccoli/cauliflower florets*(about a cup)

Carrot (1 small, sliced)

Cornflour (1 tbsp)

Paneer (half a cup, or as you please) or Tofu (I won’t judge you)

Soy sauce and hot chilli sauce (Swaad ke anusaar. Not really, you need atleast about a tbsp of both to begin with.)

Ginger garlic paste (1 tsp)

Method:

  • Bring some water to a boil. Add the carrot and capsicum pieces and blanch*. [Meaning, put it into the boiling water for just a minute and drain.] Run under cold water. The veggies, not you. So they are just cooked, yet firm.
  • Saute the paneer cubes in little oil and set aside. Then saute the onions with ginger-garlic paste. You can add sliced green chillies here – optional. Add a generous tablespoon of chilli sauce and soya sauce. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add 2cups of water and heat for a bit.
  • Mix cornflour in a little water well so it’s non-lumpy. Add to the above saucy(!) mixture. Keep stirring. The plot thickens. The gravy, I mean. Add the paneer, blanched veggies and let it boil for a minute or so.  Let it cool a bit. Garnish with chopped spring onion. Eat with lice**/fly lice**/noodles.

Oh! SALT! Of course, please add salt as you see fit. Yes, you can add it at the end if you forget earlier. We’re accommodating that way. But go easy since the soy sauce is salty.

Other veggies you can add – beans, ‘shrooms, babycorn. Get creative. Don’t add karela and baingan though. Don’t tell me if you do. I WILL judge you.

*I like these words. Florets. Blanch. Makes me sound all posh. So I invented a whole new recipe just so I could use them. Kidding.

**Rice/ Fried rice of course. Blame it on Singapore.

PS: Next time I think I’ll try adding copious amounts of dried red chilli and try to Schezuanize (Sichuanize?) the whole thing. Hmm.

Serves about 4.

Chef Sra’s Super-fudge

Cyn’s Edit:I have managed to rope in someone who ACTUALLY has a cooking blog which ACTUALLY has 193 recipes (I counted). That means she knows at least 193 recipes (gasp!).It also has such fabulous names and pictures it makes me hungry motivated every time I go and drool over read it.

Cyn says I’m the only chef with any pedigree to be writing on this blog. I wish I could justify that sweet belief by writing about a magical dish that began and ended magically, but the truth is that a little bit of it is still lying in my fridge, after almost two weeks. You see, it turned out just too sweet, despite my adjusting for ingredients and quantities available. It was lovely, but if you’re thinking of settling in front of the TV with a nice chunk of it, well … it’s difficult. I’m able to eat only a couple of spoons a time.

 This is not even my own recipe. I found it here 

 But ultimately, I used

 A can of condensed milk (200 ml)

Cocoa (powder) – grey zone between 2 and 3 tbsp

Chocolate cream biscuits – crushed to make 2 cups (reserve some of the crumbs for topping)

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

 Well-greased container – 1 (I used ghee as it was handy)

 In a pan, add cocoa to the condensed milk. (Make sure you have a bandage nearby – if you’re like me, you’re sure to cut you finger in the tin foil and bleed. I flatter myself that my cut was of ‘needs stitches’ calibre.)

 Mix well and let it boil. (At this point, I didn’t remember the instructions in the recipe and it boiled much more than it should have, and became quite thick.)

 Take it off the stove and add the vanilla.

 Add (most of) the crushed biscuits to this. Mix well and pour into the greased container.

 Top with reserved biscuit crumbs.

 Chill for at least four hours (mine chilled for 8 hours or more).

 Mine didn’t achieve the brownie consistency it was supposed to. It wasn’t cuttable, or neatly divisible.

 Just make sure you dig it out with a sturdy spoon if it turned out like mine.

 It was too dense to call pudding so I called it fudge. You can call it whatever you want.

Heck, I call most of my vegetables fudge – when I am not using them as missiles that is. So a dessert which is actually called by a dessert name works well with me.

Thank you very muchly Sra. Also, do you want to adopt me? 

P.S. Title courtesy this book

Morticia Stewart’s Burnt corn salad.

Victims:

Corn
Bell Pepper
Tomato.

Olive oil
Lemon juice
Paprika/Ground chillies.
Salt.

Modus Operandi:

Burn the corn.
Slice the kernels using a sharp knife into a bowl.
Hack the capsicum and remove the innards.
Chop it into little little, bite sized pieces.
Slice and Chop the tomatoes.
Dump into a bowl.
Rub some Salt.
Throw in some ground red chillies (or paprika)
Squeeze the life out of a lemon.
Pour a bit of olive oil.

Mix, chill, serve.

Post Mortem:
Dressing should be made like dressing should be made: Olive oil + lemon juice + salt + ground red chillies. Roasted cumin seeds work well. So do Onions, in the salad.

Sinister soundtrack:
Dadadadum. <snap snap>
Dadadadum <snap snap>
Didadadum, Dadadadum, Dadadadum <snap snap>

Stray Gray Matter’s Jiggly wobbly mango pudding

Cyn’s edition: Misundestanding happened. This was written by the (sweet, sinful – tick whichever adjective you want) In love with my life. Cyn’s internet connection was malfunctioning so the post was forwarded to Mo without the appropriate footnotes. So credit please to Ms. Stray Gray Matter

p>What to do when you find extra mangoes in the fridge…
[Mo’s wisdom: eat them]

Pick three mangoes
Hunt for a can of milkmaid
Find three eggs.
Dig out your baking bowl

[Mo’s wisdom: I warn ya, eat the damn mangoes]

Now peel and chop the mangoes, blend the pulp out of it.
Open the can of milkmaid, resist licking the lid and pour all that stuff into a clean bowl.
Now, add all the pulp into the bowl and mix.

Refrain from eating the mixture as is, or attempting to make milkshake of it [Mo’s wisdom: If I were you, I would eat it. Cyns foot-footnote – Mo the mangoes or the milkmaid or the milkshake or all of above?]
Be zen, take a deep breath, and break those three eggs into the mixture.
Now go mixie, mixie, mixie…with a whisk or blender.

Open the fridge, take out butter, cut a piece, and generously apply all around the baking bowl.
Pour the mixture into the bowl, bake at 180 C for 40 minutes. The pudding will be slightly jiggly, wobbly (high resemblance to one’s tummy) when taken out.

Wait to cool, refrigerate and dig right in. You could cut them into pieces if you have the patience.
Preferable served with a leetle bit of fresh cream on the side.

Now, go and run a 5K to make up.
[Mo’s wisdom: toldja, you should’ve just had the mangoes instead!]

[ Cyn’s foot to foot note: Mo, you really think I can make something as exotic as this? Man I am impressed that I sound so knowledgable]

A very warm and heartfelt thank you to Stray Gray the Yellow Fellow maker.

Cynic “Marta”* Stewart Braises** some Chicken

Ingredients
I kg Boneless chicken
1 Tbsp Worteschire sauce
1 Tbsp Ketchup
1 Tbsp Soya Sauce
1 Tbsp Cooking vinegar
1 Tbsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1 Tbsp of freshly ground ginger- garlic paste
Salt to taste
1/2 cup water

Preparation
First take a fork and stab the chicken. All that anger against the boss, all that pent up bai frustration, all that client angst, think about that and stab, stab, stab.
Add the salt on the festering wounds, ( also add pepper and ginger garlic paste)
In a seperate container beat all the sauces together until they are black and brown – smear the sauce on the chicken and ignore it for a couple of hours.

In a thick bottomed skillet** ( buwahahah) add oil, and shallow fry the chicken pieces until they are crispy brown.

Shift the whole lot to a pressure cooker, add some water and boil the hell out of them.

Serve on a plate, add whatever black and brown liquid remains on top. Can be garnished with onion rings if you are aesthetically inclined.

Also sing along with the following:

I have been waiting all my life for a braised pepper chickin’,
So brown and crispy, it’s just finger lickin’.
The thought of it, makes my heart keep tickin’
My finger licking, heart tickin’, braised pepper chickin

Is it ready,
Is it bready
Can I spready?
On my plate?


*Marta = Beating in konkani
** Braises, skillet am I a chef or what?

In which Mo whips up some Tapas

I begged for luck, a lot of people came. It was great fun and may be attributed to the sangria. Frankly,  I dont know how authentic it is, but I called it spanish. The trick is that even if the dish is not exotic, one must have an exotic name for it. So there, g, does that answer your koschen?.
Oh, and not all the ingredients will be available everywhere, so you can experiment.

1. Mango Salsa minus the corn (because I forgot to buy it). Served with tortilla chips. No jalapenos, I used old fashioned green chillies. You need the chillies for the flavour, not the spice.

Preparation time: 20 mins.
Audience reception
: Alright.
Chef’s difficulty rating
: 1.5
Cheat code
: Eat bits of the mango. An inspired cook works better.

2. Parma ham + Melon taken off the super market shelves, wrapped around melon with party toothpick in. Of course mine didn’t look as attractive as the one below, because it’s hard (read: nearly impossible) to cut it into equal sized pieces.

love love

love love

Wrap pieces of Parma Ham around Melon/Rock Melon. I love this. Though it’s exhausting, I love eating it, so I love making it. One should always make food they enjoy.

Preparation time: 30 mins.
Audience reception
: Brilliant
Chef’s difficulty rating: 5.  There is no cooking involved, but wrapping ham around the melon can get tiring.
Cheat code: There is no need to cut the melon evenly. Oh, and put a few drops of lemon on the melon, here and there, because I like the sound of it.

3. Moroccan Kababs

One needs to figure out a way to skewer them. If you have a way, it will be brilliant. Alternately cook them in a pan and put toothpicks.

Meat: Chicken Breast. Use chicken breast because it’s easy to cook.

Marinade: Chopped garlic + Lemon + Paprika + Oregano + Salt. Leave it overnight in the fridge.

Garnish: Parsley

Preparation time: 40 mins. Involves chopping chicken and putting meat through the skewers.
Audience reception: fingerlicking good.
Chef’s difficulty rating: 4.5. Effort is in threading meat into the skewers. Borrrrrrring.
Cheat code: Soak the skewers in water first, else they burn.

4. Prawns with lemon drizzle.

Prawns are fun to cook because they get done fast.

Meat: Prawns. Get frozen tiger prawns. Something which still has the tails. DO NOT struggle with the de-veining. It’s not worth it.

In a pan, put oil, bits of chopped garlic. And then the prawn.

Add lemon rind. Then squeeze the juice of a lemon. Put parsley on top.


Preparation time: 20 mins. 
Audience reception: A bit of the alright
Chef’s difficulty rating: 2/5
Effort: is in threading meat into the skewers. Borrrrrrring.
Cheat code: Microwave the prawns?

5. Patatas Bravas

Ah, the world famous spanish aloo chat.

Image source: BBC good food

Image source: BBC good food

Meat: Fry chopped potatoes. Add salt to them. Oh, the best part, you don’t have to peel the potatoes. 🙂

Brava Sauce: In a pan, or as they say in cook-ese, heavy bottom skillet,  put Chopped garlic + Coriander and cumin powder. Then add the tomato paste (from a can). Add a bit of sugar, and salt. and paprika. If you can lay your hand on some cooking sherry/ red wine, pour some of it in. All of this makes the whole sauce a little sour, so I added a bit of sugar to correct.

Preparation time: 30 mins. 
Audience reception: Tending to good. I made lots, and I still have leftovers.
Chef’s difficulty rating: 2.5 /5
Effort: is in chopping the potatoes. Since you dont have to peel them, works better. 🙂
Cheat code: Reheat sauce before serving.


6. Roast bell pepper/Cherry tomatoes with Tuna stuffing

Preparation time: Forever 
Audience reception: Not many people ate it.
Chef’s difficulty rating: 15 on a scale of 1-5
Effort: DONT TRY THIS AT HOME. The most disasterous thing I have ever made.

You still want this recipe?

Ah, yes, anyone wants my sangria recipe – let me know.

Mo begs for luck

20 people come for late afternoon snacks to my place, and I have never hosted such a big event. Because I was lazy enough not to get a caterer, the plan is to make the following snacks/tapas which won’t be too much of a trouble to make. I have never hosted more than 6-7 people at a time, and this seems big. The menu for now:

  1. Patatas bravas.
  2. Shrimp something which i have no clue about, I will probably call it lemon drizzle or something
  3. Bite sized Teriyaki chicken, which can be done really fast, I think, because the marinade is from a bottle
  4. Bell pepper rolls with tuna stuffing which I saw the pic of and looks very attractive.
  5. Prosciutto with Rock Melon, because I would like to eat it myself.
  6. Chips + Mango Salsa (Pi’s recipe)

What else do you recommend? Tips?

And make it quick.

Cynic’s cabbage in cutlets clothing*

Lets face it – cabbage is a blah vegetable.

 It has no character, no will power, no taste no nothing. It’s rather like those folks in a Governmental office. Pale, potbellied and billious green who will be damned if they do any work for you.

Which is why finding any good cabbage recipe is a momentous occasion worthy of many ballads and poems. Since I cannot write ballads ( ask Mo, sigh) and can manage only bad poems, I shall instead just share the recipe.**

Cabbage ( half a head) ~ 1/2 kilo – grated

Two large onions – grated

Approx 1 tsp of the following

Chilli Powder

Roasted Coriander powder

Garam masala

Pinch of Turmeric

Pinch of Amchur powder

2 tbsp of Besan ( Chickpea flour)

~ 75-100 gms of Rice flour ( you need enough for it to get bound properly)

Salt to taste

Mix the whole thing together, pat it into a cutlet, and shallow fry it on a tawa on low fire.

You can change the individual masalas depending on taste.

This can be served as an accompaniment, or sneaked into bread slices for unsuspecting kids or cabbage-hating-spouses .

* Note to self: STOP ALLITERATING

** I have actually made this today, so if I am inspired enough, I might actually take the effort of taking a photograph and posting it.***

*** Remember, this site’s USP are its lazy cooks. You cant expect lazy cooks to take photos and put them up now, can you?

Pi pirouettes to the Twist and Salsa.

Pi, who dances like magic,  teaches some easy steps to  us, the ones with two left feet in the kitchen.

1. Baby Carrots/Corns with a Roasted Twist:
——————————

A quick and healthy snack.

Ingredients:
Baby carrots or baby corns: as many as you want or
Coriander Powder
Roasted Cumin Powder (bhuna jeera, the one used in Raitas usually)
Red chilli powder or Paprika (if you want it spicy)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Lime
Honey

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the baby carrots on a tray.
Brush olive oil.
Season with salt, pepper and paprika (or red chilli powder)
Roast it in the oven for 15-20 mins or till they look roasted
Once roasted pour lime juice for the tangy taste (you can skip this if you do not want the sour tinge), some honey (you can skip this if you don’t want the sweet tinge)
Sprinkle Coriander powder and Cumin Powder
Serve

2. Mango Salsa:
————–
Ingredients:
Mango cubed (could be the sweet or sour mangoes) – 1
Jalapeno peppers (chopped) – 2-3 depending on how spicy you want it
Avocado (diced) – 1
Corn (steamed frozen corn) – 1/2 cup
Lemon juice – 1 lemon
Salt
Cilantro – chopped coarsely
Roasted Cumin Powder – 3/4 tsp

Instructions:
Mix everything
Chill
Serve with tortilla chips.

PS: Now, do the jig.
PPS: I always wanted to try making Mango Salsa, but nobody ever gets tired of Tomato Salsa.

Mo