Monthly Archives: August 2015

Two cheese Gnocchi with Brown butter-sage sauce

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I love making things from scratch. Although in this day and age where everything is instant and easy, I feel that there is very special when it is made at home from scratch. Agreed that it involves time and effort, but I feel that if I can not spend time and effort on my happiness then what is the point. My grandma used to say in Marathi ( my mother tongue) ,” कशासाठी  पोटासाठी ” which roughly translates to ” everything is for your stomach”. It is so true. You work hard to earn money so you can eat well and be healthy. So I think this extra effort is worth it when it means the health and happiness of you and the loved one.

Also, I think there is something immensely satisfying about working the dough with your hands, so I decided to make the Gnocchi at home. When you think of Gnocchi, you think of these tiny little dumpling that are made with some kind of potato and flour. However the potato was introduced to Europe only in the 16th century but history of Gnocchi goes back much further than that. Gnocchi was made with flour of some kind, egg and some kind of cheese. So when I wanted to do a series of posts on Ricotta, I decided to make the gnocchi with Ricotta.  I found this recipe on Wisconsin cheese site, and looked very tempting. When I read that it was by Michael Symon, I was sure that it would turn out good.

I am plan to post a series on Ricotta cheese.

So here is ‘Two cheese Gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce’- my first dish from the series on Ricotta cheese.

Brown Butter sauce-sage Gnochhi

Brown Butter sauce-sage Gnochhi

INGREDIENTS:

For the gnocchi:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
1/4 cup (3 ounces) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 cup (8 ounces) Part-skim ricotta cheese, drained
1 egg

For the sauce:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
12 sage leaves
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
12 fresh parsley leaves

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Ingredients for the sauce

Method:

Make the gnocchi:

Combine flour, parmesan and lemon zest in bowl. Add ricotta and egg. Mix well with wooden spoon or your fingers until dough just comes together. Do not overwork or dough can toughen.

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Dough

Scrape dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a roll. Cut dough into fourths, using bench scraper or knife. Gently roll each piece into foot-long ropes, about an inch in diameter, flouring as needed to prevent dough from sticking to surface.

Place dough ropes on lightly floured platter or sheet pan; refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to two hours, uncovered, to rest. As you may know, anything that uses flour should be allowed to rest a while. This allows the flour to bloom.

Place ropes on floured surface; cut into 1/2-inch pieces with scraper or knife.

Typically gnocchis are curled on a board or with the fork. Since we are using the ricotta cheese, the dough is very delicate so instead of using the curling method, we will just cut the dough.

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Finish the dish

Heat butter over medium-high heat in sauté pan large enough to accommodate all gnocchi without crowding.

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When butter foams, add gnocchi—do not crowd—and cook, turning as necessary, until brown and crisped on all sides, 5-6 minutes.

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When gnocchi are almost cooked, lower heat to medium and add shallot and sage leaves.

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Cook briefly to release flavors; then add garlic, lemon juice and water.

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Cook briefly, allowing sauce to emulsify and thicken a bit. Add 1/3 cup parmesan and parsley leaves. Toss to coat gnocchi. Spoon gnocchi and sauce into shallow bowls.

Serve immediately else you will end up eating all of it.

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Gnocchi

Gnochhi

Gnocchi

Today I served it with grilled marinated portabella mushrooms.

Mushrooms and vinegar

Mushrooms and vinegar

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Chicken tikka vietnamese Spring Rolls

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When I have an idea in mind, I can not rest easy until I execute on it. One such idea was variations on the Vietnamese Spring rolls. I wanted to try making an Indian version, I thought it would go really well with the concept.But before we talk about that recipe, let me tell you my  first encounter with these spring rolls.

The first time I ate these spring rolls when I was pregnant with my first child. I had a terrible time with the morning sickness and could not keep anything down. Around that time we were invited to my husband’s colleagues wedding reception. The bride and groom both were of Vietnamese origin and so at  the celebrations the food served was Vietnamese.

Forget eating and enjoying, I could not even stand the smell of most of those things. It had a lot of fish sauce,and all kinds of meat. Everyone tried to see what I can eat, offered so many things but nothing felt right at that time. Then someone got these interesting looking things that they called ‘Spring rolls’. They were nothing like the ones I knew from back in India. They did not look fried and almost looked transparent. I loved those..I loved the fresh basil and mint and the crunchy bean sprouts… it was perfect.

I have been making these for a while now and love making variations.

Today’s variation has a Indian touch. The meat used is the pickled chicken, I think it compliments the fresh mint and cilantro.

This recipe for the Achari chicken is a perfect addition to the fresh ingredients of the spring roll. You can also use chicken tikka or any other nicely seasoned meat. I have made this with marinated Tofu/Paneer to make the vegetarian/vegan version. It tastes just as well.

Achari chicken spring roll

Achari chicken spring roll

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 3/4 lb boneless Chicken ( for vegetarian option use Tofu/Paneer)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Achari Masala
  • 1/4 lb Hung Yogurt (this is basically yogurt hung in a cheese cloth)
  • 1 tablespoon refined flour
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil

Other ingredients

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Few green lettuce leaves
  • Thin rice noodles, cooked according to the packet
  • Julienned carrot
  • Few mint leaves
  • Few cilantro leaves
  • Few Rice paper sheets

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Method:

  • Heat Mustard Oil in a 10 inch nonstick pan until it smokes.
  • Add Achari Masala to the pan. Cook the spice mix for 20 seconds, then remove from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a glass bowl, mix yogurt and cooked spices well. Make sure to include the oil.
  • Cut cubes of chicken & marinate it with the pickled curd marinade for minimum 60 mins.
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Now cook the chicken on medium flame, add refined flour and cook for 8-10 mins. Once cooked evenly, keep it aside.

Assembly

Dip the rice paper in cold water for 5 seconds. Take it out and shake off the excess water. Make sure you use cold water and also don’s leave the rice paper in the water for too long. Although when you take it out, it might still feel stiff but it does soften up.

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Lay the wet rice paper flat on a board. Layer all the ingredients. In works the best to start with a piece of lettuce, this helps provide a base and stability to the roll. Now continue with the rice noodles, Chicken, sprouts, carrots, cilantro, mint.

Now roll like a burrito making sure that no vegetables are poking out. We want our spring roll to look pretty.

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Make sure that you keep these covered so they don’t dry out.

Cut in half and serve. Depending on the flavor of the chicken you can pair with the right sauce. For example when I make it with an indian flavored chicken, I serve it with a Tamarind-date chutney.

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Knafeeh

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We as a family love eating at small food joints, hole in the wall places. If it is run by a family, even better. One such place near where we live is a ‘Falafel place’, and it is one of our favorites. They serve standard menu but their falafels are so good, made fresh using the fava beans. I think the cuisine is influenced by Israeli cuisine,  they have some nice wall plaques that show the glimpses of Jerusalem.  This is where I first tasted Knafeeh.It is by far my most favorite middle eastern dessert.  The first time I ate it, I went back twice that week. The third time I decided to talk to the owner and ask for the recipe. He did not quite know the details but gave me enough to start. I read up and here is my recipe.

There are many ways to spell it like Knafee, Kanafeh but those all are the same dish. This dish is eaten as a breakfast as well. How fun must it be  to start your day with a yummy dessert for breakfast. I can totally see myself doing that.

The first time I made it, I made it in a big tray. It turned out good but when we started eating it, everyone wanted the crispy part. So next time I decided to try making it a little differently.

Knafeh

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Ingredients

Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons rose  or orange blossom water

For the knafeh

  • 3 cups, or ½ package, of shredded phyllo knafeh dough (kataifi)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup ackawi cheese  or fresh mozzarella cheese ( I like to use half and half)
  • 1 cup  ricotta  cheese
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup farina (cream of Wheat or Sooji)
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish, optional

Method

To make the orange blossom syrup, in a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the orange blossom or rose water , pour into a heatproof container and refrigerate to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle position.

The katafeh dough is like thin vermicelli. It comes in a pack which is kept in the freezer. you can use scissors to cut it in tiny pieces or in the food processor, pulse the shredded phyllo dough for about a minute to make it into a fine meal.

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Place the phyllo in a medium bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter and stir until the phyllo is completely coated.

In a muffin pan, add the buttery dough mixture. Compress it very well by pushing it into the bottom of the pan firmly, first with your hands, then pressing with the flat bottom of a cup, or something similar. You can also use a 10-inch clear pie plate or cake pan.

If the ackawi cheese is too salty, soak it in cold water until some of the salt is pulled out. Change the water every 10 minutes or so. This cheese originates from Akki region in Northern Israel. Stored in brine, it can stay good for a long time. Grate the cheese.

Grate the mozzarella cheese.

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In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it is hot, but not boiling. Add the farina and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Pour the farina over the cheese and stir to combine.

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Pour the cheese mixture over the knafeh dough in the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Cover with the remaining knafeh dough.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the knafeh is deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.

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Turn the knafeh out onto a platter and drizzle with ¼ cup of orange blossom syrup. If you are using the muffin tins, take the out on a plate and over over the syrup.

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Garnish with pistachio nuts. Serve immediately or set aside and reheat before serving. Cut into squares or slices and serve the knafeh warm, with more orange blossom syrup poured over each piece.

It is the most divine thing to eat, when you bite into the crispy outside and find this gooey cheesy filling inside.

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Turn the knafeh out onto a platter and drizzle with ¼ cup of orange blossom syrup. Garnish with pistachio nuts. Serve immediately or set aside and reheat before serving. Cut into squares or slices and serve the knafeh warm, with more orange blossom syrup poured over each piece.

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower salad with lentils & dates

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Many times we just keep getting different magazines and don’t even bother reading it. I get a couple of food magazines, I scanned through, plan to make a couple of recipes but very rarely get to it. It was different this time. When I got​ this issue of Food and Wine, I was in love with this recipe. I had to make it. So a friend of mine was coming over for lunch and I decided to try this recipe on her. She is not a hard-core vegan but prefers not having dairy products. This recipe was perfect. Cauliflower Salad 1 I made a few changes and the result was great. I  like making this since it  does not need me to stand over the stove and cook forever. Especially when my friends are visiting I like to make meals that are easy to make so I can spend more time with my friends.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds in a pie plate and toast for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the lentils with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until tender, 20 minutes. Drain well and let cool. These lentils are called Beluga lentils since they resemble the ‘beluga caviar’. 🙂 On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the cumin, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, turning, until the cauliflower is tender and golden brown. I must warn you this cauliflower is addictive. I always make one extra since I finish half of the roasted cauliflower before it makes it to the salad. 🙂

In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, honey, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth.  If you want to make it vegan, you can use Agave in place of the honey.

Very often found in the Lebanese cuisine, tahini is a power food. It is a fine paste made from sesame seeds which are rich in protein, calcium and minerals. Sesame seeds are used very commonly in the southern and western regions of India. It has a beautiful nutty flavor. You can now mix in the lentil and cauliflower to the dressing if you want or you can leave the dressing on the side. Add the lentils and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Scrape the roasted cauliflower into the bowl and add the toasted almonds, dates, onion and spinach. Toss the salad, transfer to a platter and serve.

Cauliflower salad 2

Cauliflower salad 2