September 18, 2009

If you miss the train I'm on...

... you will know that I am gone. You can hear the whistle blow a 100 miles.

I'm sure you're all wondering what these lines have to do with my food blog. Agreed that this is the blog of The Singing Chef and that music has to be a part of this journey. Read on till the end if you want to unravel this little mystery. This is a long post.

I have always talked about why blogs and cookbooks will co-exist. Each fixes a different problem, a different need. There is a certain joy in going through a cookbook, getting inspired by it, cooking something from it and enjoying it. There is a different joy in blog hopping, finding a recipe, cooking it, letting the blogger know (or even seeking inputs where necessary) and then telling the whole world what a nice recipe that blogger put up. Overall, it fosters a sense of camaraderie. This post is my way of saying thanks to my fellow bloggers for putting up some delicious recipes that have added much needed variety to our dinner table. Some of the recipes that I tried (and we loved) are:

Pumpkin Erissheri from the Jugalbandits.

Tomato Spinach Pulao from Nags' Edible Garden.

Indian Style Baked Tofu from Madhuram's Eggless Cooking.

Pasta the forgotten way from Arundati's Escapades.

Mushroom Stroganoff from Aarti's Life Goes On.

Baby Carrots and Thyme from Nandita's Saffron Trail.

Chukku Kaapi from Mishmash

I have told you all that I didn't intend for this blog to become what it has. All this is a bonus. I only hoped to create a repository of recipes that I can access easily. Today, there are so many people who write back and let me know they tried something from my blog. I feel thrilled. When my "forced-to-be-bachelors-for-a-week" friends write in and tell me they cooked a simple meal from my blog which spared them another night of Maggi, I feel honoured. Then there are some folks out there who would make it seem like I am a celebrity (one even said as much!) and have nominated this blog in the Best Baking Blog category in the FoodBuzz 2009 Food Blog Awards!

This post is as much one to thank each and everyone of you who has visited this blog, encouraged me to continue blogging (especially at those times when I felt like giving up). I want to acknowledge the friends who have come into my life through this very medium. I want you all to know that I am deeply grateful for your presence in my life today. To all of you, I say:

I'm on the top of the world lookin down on creation

And the only explanation I can find

Is the love that I've found ever since youve been around

Your love's put me at the top of the world

But why am I singing the song by Carpenters, when I started with that beautiful song by Peter, Paul and Mary?

If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,

A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,

You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Lord I'm one, lord I'm two, lord I'm three, lord I'm four,

Lord I'm 500 miles from my home.

500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles

Lord I'm five hundred miles from my home.

Because Lord I'm one, lord I'm two, lord I'm three, lord I'm four, Lord I'm 500 posts from my home. And to reach this wonderful milestone on the day that S and I celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary makes both the celebrations that much sweeter! Happy Anniversary Sachin. You've made the last three years so memorable and I look forward to all the memories we will create together.

September 15, 2009

Mushroom Capsicum Pizza

This is the pizza I've always spoken so highly of. The pizza we grew up on. Long before Pizza Hut and Pizza Corner or Domino's came into India, this pizza replaced dinner on Monday nights. After talking about it for ages, I bring to you Amma's famous mushroom and capsicum pizza.

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups Flour

1 tbsp Yeast

1/8 cup Oil

1/2 tbsp Sugar

3/4 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Water, boiling

1/4 cup Milk

For the sauce:
1 Onion, chopped finely
2-3 medium Tomatoes, chopped finely
1 Capsicum, chopped finely
4 Button Mushrooms, chopped finely
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Oil
Salt to Taste

100g Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1 tsp Oil

For the dough:

Take a huge mixing bowl and place the oil, salt and sugar in it. Add boiling water and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk now to bring the mixture to room temperature. Add the yeast and mix well. Add the flour and knead into a dough. Place the dough in a greased vessel and cover it with a damp muslin cloth. Allow to rise until double in size (roughly 45-50 minutes).

For the sauce:

In a pan, heat the oil and add the onions. Fry for a minute or two. Add the capsicum and mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the oregano, salt, sugar and pepper and fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the puree and ketchup and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes.

To Proceed:

Grease a pizza plate.

Spread the dough over the plate. (You could roll the dough using a rolling pin. I prefer doing this by hand.) Spread the oil over the dough. Spread enough sauce over the base. Sprinkle the cheese over the pizza.

Bake in a hot oven (400 F) for 20 minutes. When done, cut into wedges. Enjoy your meal.

September 13, 2009

Aloo Methi

I was first introduced to Aloo Methi when I was about 10 or so. My eldest cousin married into a North Indian family and when we visited her, she served us this with hot phulkas. Fortunately, she warned me that it might be a little bitter. I guess I was prepared for the worst. As it turned out, I ended up loving this dish. I make it at least 1-2 times a month when fresh fenugreek leaves are in season.

3 Potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced

1 cup Fenugreek leaves, chopped

1 tsp Oil

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1 tsp Chilli Powder
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the cumin seeds and the asafetida. When the cumin crackles, add the fenugreek leaves and sauté for a minute or so. Add the salt and chilli powder and cook for another minute. Add the diced potatoes and mix well. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.

This is one of those “perfect sides” with rice and dal or rotis.

September 11, 2009

Mushroom Broccoli Corn Bake

One of the things I’d forgotten about thanks to my “daily cooking rut” was casseroles. They’re versatile, they’re fun, they’re fuss-free, well almost. And the nicest part is that you can even just pop some slices of bread in the toaster, serve it along with the casserole. “Voila! It becomes a meal!” I’m slowly rediscovering the joys that only casseroles can bring (especially after a back breaking 2 hour drive back home).

1 cup Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in 1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Broccoli florets, steamed
1/4 cup Sweet Corn, steamed
1 tbsp Butter/Olive Oil

1 tbsp Flour

1 cup Milk

1/2 tsp Parsley

1/2 tsp Basil

1 tsp Chilli flakes

1/2 tsp Garlic Paste

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 slice Low Fat Cheese (optional)
1 tsp Butter to grease the baking dish
3 tbsp Bread Crumbs

Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic paste, parsley, basil and chilli flakes and fry for another minute. Add the flour and fry without browning the flour. Add the milk and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring continuously. If adding cheese, add it at this point and stir the sauce well. As the sauce thickens, add the salt and pepper. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, and corn.

Grease a baking dish with the teaspoon of butter. Pour in the white sauce - vegetable mixture. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture and bake in a hot oven (400F) for 10 minutes. Serve hot with some Garlic Bread or Garlic Toast.

September 9, 2009

Good Ol' Vanilla Muffins

After trying all kinds of different muffins, I decided to try my hand at making the plain vanilla edition (Pun fully intended!). I was quite happy with the results. This recipe forms the perfect base for different flavours and I can't wait to try them out. These vanilla muffins (known as "plain" muffins at the coffee shop downstairs - I think it they could have gotten a little more innovative there) were a great hit.

2 cups Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Oil
2 eggs
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
Butter and flour for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases.

Sift all the dry ingredients for the cake together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Blend for a minute. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy warm with a dab of butter!

September 7, 2009

Chana Salad

When we’re hosting a party, I am either extremely laidback (which means some Haldiram’s kind of items will flow from their packets, some McCain’s stuff will migrate from the freezer to the oven, and we’ll make do with what we have) or go extremely overboard (make cutlets, cut vegetable sticks and make a curd dip to go along with it, bake some savoury biscuits, crackers, muffins, mini pizzas etc, etc). It is very rarely that you would find me walking the middle path. On one of those very rare occasions, I made this salad and served it along with some readymade snacks. It was gone in almost no time.

1 cup Chickpeas, soaked and cooked
1 Tomato, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
1/2 cup Coriander Leaves

2 pods Garlic

1" piece Ginger

2 Green Chillies
Juice of 1 Lime

Salt to taste

Prepare the chutney by grinding the coriander leaves with the garlic, ginger, green chillies and salt together. Add the lime juice and mix well.

Place the chickpeas, tomato, onion and carrot in a salad bowl. Add the chutney like a dressing and toss well.

Tasty, healthy and great with drinks. There’s precious little you could ask for over and above all this. No, really!

September 5, 2009

Tomato, Basil and Macaroni Soup

I can't remember where I tasted this soup first. But I do remember having loved it at first slurp! I made this on a day that I had a lot of tomatoes and a whole bunch of fresh basil. I know that tomato and basil are truly made for each other. I threw in some boiled macaroni and made a meal out of this soup.

6 Tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup Basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup Macaroni, prepared according to instructions on pack

1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pressure cooker, cook the tomatoes, chilli flakes and basil along with 2 cups of water. Blend in a liquidizer and strain. Bring this mixture to a boil. Add the cooked macaroni and season with salt and pepper.

Perfect for those times when you want a hot, comforting, yet quick meal. Off this goes to the Think Spice Think Red Chillies event over at Kitchen Chronicles.

September 3, 2009

Baingan Bharta

I didn't always like the taste of smoked brinjals. I love brinjals otherwise, but this one method of cooking was never a favourite. If Amma wanted to make thogayal/thuvayal, she would steam the brinjals in the cooker. Now, I have come to appreciate the flavour a lot more. When Amma was here sometime back, she made this Baingan Bharta. Even my Punjabi colleagues said it was to die for.

1 large Brinjal, roasted on an open flame

1 Onion, chopped finely
1 Tomato, chopped finely
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

Place the roasted brinjal in a bowl of water.
Remove the charred skin and keep the brinjal aside. Mash the cooked brinjal a little.

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger paste along with the turmeric, coriander and chilli powders. Add the salt and the tomato and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the mashed brinjal and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala and garnish with some chopped coriander if you like.
Serve hot with chapatis/phulkas.

September 1, 2009

Eggless Chocolate Walnut Muffins

There's something nice about muffins. Something that makes them better than cake. I have not figured out what that is. It could just be that good things come in small packages. Whatever it is, I can't resist these little beauties. As I was off to Mumbai for a couple of family functions, I made these muffins to take with me for the extended family.

1 1/2 cups Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Sugar
a Pinch Salt
1/2 cup Oil
2 tsp Egg Replacer (dissolved in 2 tbsp of water OR 2 Eggs)
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
25 Walnut halves

Sift all the dry ingredients for the muffins together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor for 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the muffin pans by lining them with paper muffin cases.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cases. Decorate with the walnut halves. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

But these sweet little beauties are also being sent miles away to celebrate the wedding anniversary of my parents. Many happy returns of the day Amma and Appa!