As you have probably guessed by now or maybe not… that most Indian dishes include onions, cilantro, chilies, etc… this includes breakfast as well. A very popular way to make scrambled eggs in India is to saute chopped onions, green chilies and tomatoes. The egg mixture includes salt, lots of cayenne pepper and tons of chopped cilantro. Once the egg mixture is combined with the onions, etc- a perfect breakfast dish is created. It is usually served with soft white bread on the streets but can be eaten with a roti or parantha as well. I remember eating this mostly for breakfast growing up- but once in a while, if I was lucky, my Mom would make it for dinner! She would make us individual portions in a small metal bowl – she would cook the eggs right in there on the stove and place it in our plates with a parantha! It was delicious! You should try it with a tortilla in case you can’t get your hands on an Indian flat bread.. the combination is great. Although it’s very delicious with sliced bread or even a fresh baguette. I made this particular dish with green onions- no real reason except that I like the color of green onions and they are milder in taste and flavor- any kind of onion will do. Tomatoes are optional- some people don’t like the soft tomato texture in this dish, but I love the tang and color they provide. Cilantro, to me is the key in this dish- although I love it in any and every thing I make. I go through tons of cilantro and absolutely love the very mild leafy onion taste it imparts- some people don’t care for it, in which case, parsley can be substituted. I also like to top the egg dish with garam masala- it gives every bite a very distinctively Indian flavor. Garam masala being a combination of a number of dry spices ground together to form a powder used to cook and garnish. It can be purchased at the grocery stores now but if you are able to make it yourself or know someone who makes it- do try the homemade one- there is no comparison in taste, aroma and flavor! I do make my own in bulk and freeze it to keep fresh. The aroma reminds me of childhood- I remember my Mom mixing the spices together in a large circular metal tray before she would grind them up- every time I mix the spices myself, the smell takes me back…
I had volunteered at Sia’s school to cook something for the healthy table at the fair. The foods at that table have had vegan, ethnic and healthy desserts in the past. I initially thought of baking a healthy bread or the chocolate zucchini bread I posted a few days ago- but then I thought maybe I should make a one pot rice dish instead – and maybe even a vegetarian one. The recipe on this blog calls for chicken broth but I made it with water for the fair. I decided to make a pulao, which is a rice dish that can include vegetables, beans or meat. I usually make a pulao with vegetables or meat- I thought maybe I should do an Indian version of rice and beans. Mexican and Indian flavors have so much in common, especially cumin, cilantro and the chilies. I wanted to include the cilantro sauce my grandma used to add to her pea rice dish. It is such a great way to give great flavor to the rice- cilantro, onion and garlic are blended and cooked with cumin before basmati rice is added. It is delicious! I decided to combine the two cuisines and come up with a one pot meal! I am in love with one pot meals- they are so convenient, especially if they are kid friendly. In this case, the rice has the protein from the beans- so I would pair it with a salad and call it a day. My daughter does not like salad dressing, so she eats lettuce without anything! – how weird it that?? I guess whatever works for her- I tell her she is missing out on all the delicious salad dressings out there but then she doesn’t like ketchup either! I digress- the rice dish was a big hit at the fair. I added raisins to it- I can’t help myself- I love the sweet juice right in the middle of the savory cilantro and garlic flavor. I was a little concerned about some people not liking the sweet with the savory but I think it was okay. The kids and adults enjoyed it!
I would have to say, this is my all time favorite dessert. My mom has been making trifle for as long as I can remember. It is a very popular british dessert – my mom lived in London before she got married and learned some recipes from my English aunt.
Growing up the trifle was served in a lasagna pan- the flat casserole pan. The presentation was not as dramatic as it is in the trifle bowl- I love looking at the colorful layers of delicious heaven! I remember my mom would use canned mixed fruit and use the juice to soak the sponge cake. We also grew up with lots of custard and fruit for dessert- the custard was made out of a powder. I still remember my mom pouring the powder in hot milk to make the delicious custard. She would layer the soaked sponge cake with the fruit,custard and whipped cream. The dessert was topped with a thick layer of whipped cream and sprinkled with nuts. How good is freshly whipped cream?? I can taste it as I write about it- the fluffy and creamy goodness- so easy to eat lots of it without realizing how dangerous it is. I still remember when we first arrived in the US and I saw cans of whipped cream or the fake stuff you get in tubs- I was devastated! What happened to the real stuff- I couldn’t understand why someone would want to eat that stuff in the tub…
Once you learn the technique and process of making a trifle, sky is the limit. You can change the cake flavor, types of fruit and the flavor of custard or curd. I used to make a generic one most of the time, like the one my mom made- but then I started experimenting with the recipe. Last year I made a raspberry with mango curd trifle- it was out of this world! A few years ago I had a dessert tasting party and made a ginger bread and lemon curd trifle- it was very good as well!
It is a crowd pleaser- most people like it. In my case, I wouldn’t make it unless there was a crowd since I am quite capable of eating the entire bowl in no time!
It was a very hectic weekend. Sia’s school had a fair on Saturday and she was very excited. It was a lot of fun but the food is very unhealthy. I did volunteer at the healthy table and it did have lots of healthy options but my daughter didn’t indulge in any of them. She instead had pizza and cotton candy! Pizza, I guess is okay but that cotton candy really bothers me- just plain processed sugar and some terrible dye. I try to keep Sia away from it but it’s hard at a fair- it’s right in front of your face. Anyway, she had the cotton candy on Saturday and Sunday! We have a May fest in our town every year and this year it was on Sunday- so guess what, we had a lot of unhealthy food there as well. There was a hotdog for Sia and yes, another cotton candy! I, on the other hand, had the best barbecue chicken I’ve had in a long time. There was a vendor called the Coney Island grill company and they were serving 2 big pieces of chicken on top of white or wheat bread topped with the yummiest barbeque sauce I have ever had- and that includes the barbeque place I love to go to in Austin when ever I visit my cousin! My husband was shocked at the amount of food I had bought especially since he had bought quite a bit him self from another vendor. Well, I wasn’t worried since my plan was to devour the whole thing myself- and I almost did… well, I had to share a little bit. I also had a yummy lemon cupcake. I am usually not a cupcake person- not a fan of the icing- this one was delicious! I digress- we got home and I started to wonder what I should feed Sia for dinner?? It had to be something healthy after two days of eating junk! We were not eating out again and I didn’t have much in the fridge and I was in no mood to cook! After some thinking, I came up with quesadillas. I had whole grain tortillas in the freezer and my favorite ‘go to’ frozen vegetable- spinach. I always have some around for times like this when you have no idea what to make and need something quick, easy and healthy. I wanted to give her a healthy grain, protein and vegetable. So, I decided to make scrambled eggs with spinach and add it to the whole grain quesadilla- a perfectly balanced meal that can be prepared in an cinch. Sia loved it and I had a few bites with a salad and it was delicious! Yes, of course I had a salad- I had to- after that monster of a meal I consumed at the fair!
I continue with my quest for healthy kid friendly desserts and snacks. A friend makes my banana bread which her daughter loves- she asked if I could possibly come up with a similar recipe but with a vegetable- like a carrot cake. I remembered a zucchini bread I used to eat many moons ago from Starbucks. From work I would usually venture out to get a mid-afternoon snack which would be a tall Caffe Mocha usually with a slice of zucchini bread. The bread was absolutely delicious- I still remember the color and taste really well- this was about 10 years ago when I ate whatever I felt like and weight and nutrition were furthest from my mind. So when my friend reminded me of the zucchini bread, I immediately started looking for a recipe to adapt to my taste. I decided to include chocolate in the bread as anything with chocolate is good and I thought kids would be more likely to eat it and ignore the green stuff running through the cake! I tested a few recipes and finally liked this one- the texture was firm but moist and most of all, it was delicious! I baked it through the day, so neither my daughter nor my husband witnessed it. I gave a slice to my husband the next morning before he went to work- asked him how it was and once he told me it was really good, I informed him it was made out of zucchini. He was shocked! My daughter really enjoyed it as well, I decided not to enlighten her with all the ingredients. My husband, however, went ahead and divulged within minutes of eating it- Sia had a disgusted look on her face. I explained to her that if she likes the taste how does it matter what is inside the bread.. she thought about it for a few seconds and decided to have another slice. So my advice to parents out there would be that maybe you shouldn’t tell your kids what is in the bread- it may not go so well!!
I was watching food television the other day and saw someone make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. It looked delicious but it seemed quite labor intensive. I have been meaning to make this dish for a while but have been lazy – so I made it simpler. I decided to use less garlic- it takes too long to peel 40 cloves. I used one head of garlic instead and it was more than enough. I also coated the chicken pieces with seasoned flour before I browned them. I saved a step by doing this- I don’t have to take the chicken out and make a roux separately. I also decided to add pancetta for an extra layer of flavor – boy, what intense flavor bacon gives to a dish! Everything is good with bacon! The fresh thyme is a great addition- it brings a very earthy flavor to the dish. I served the chicken with couscous that I made with pine nuts and currants. I usually add golden raisins to my savory dishes- never used currants before- well I am a fan! They are great tiny little balls of sweetness and go really well in the couscous. My daughter who usually takes the raisins out, somehow didn’t mind the currants in the couscous. I added a little extra chicken broth to the dish so we can enjoy extra sauce with the couscous.
So, since the dish didn’t have any vegetables, I was planning on serving a salad. I had baby arugula in the fridge and decided to make it simple and add some lemon juice and salt. It suddenly occurred to me maybe I should serve the seasoned arugula on top of the dish! What a brilliant idea- actually it’s not mine- I have seen it many times on food television– they usually add seasoned greens on pizza, pasta, etc. Well it is a great idea- it tasted fantastic! The lemony arugula was perfect with the creamy chicken and the sweet couscous. It really was a brilliant dish and I think great for company. We drank a Riesling with the chicken- the same one I used to make the sauce. It stood up to the strong flavors of the chicken dish but was light at the same time. It was a very enjoyable meal indeed- nothing better in life than to enjoy great food and wine with the people you love most!
Who doesn’t love meatballs? My daughter and husband especially do- in all forms. Last week Sia reminded me I had not made them in ages- she does that even when I have not made something in a week but in this case she was right- I had not cooked meatballs in a long time. Now that I am writing this blog, I feel I cannot repeat a recipe- so I started thinking how I can make the meatballs different this time. Of course I wanted to make them healthy but thought I should disguise some veggies in the meatballs as well. I decided to saute frozen spinach with some garlic and shallots and added the mixture to the ground turkey. Speaking of ground turkey- any ground meat can be used but I am trying to use less red meat and I feel dark meat ground turkey does the job really well- although you can’t beat the taste of meatballs made out of a combination of beef, pork and veal! I also decided to add a tiny chunk of fresh mozzarella cheese in each meatball. It give the meat a nice creamy texture- also while cooking the meatballs in the marinara sauce, as the cheese melts and, oozes out into the sauce making it extra delicious! Somehow meatballs taste extra yummy with spaghetti- don’t know what it is- maybe it’s the texture of the thin long pasta but any other pasta shape just doesn’t do. Instead of serving the meatballs with plain spaghetti, I dress it up a bit. Once I cook it, I saute it with some minced garlic, olive oil, salt, dried basil and oregano. It really makes a big difference to the dish on the whole- the dried herbs and garlic take the spaghetti to a whole new level. Another great way to serve the meatballs is on a crusty roll. I usually toast the roll with a drizzle of olive oil. I then rub a garlic clove all over the crusty goodness with a sprinkle of salt. I place the meatballs on top with a slice of provolone or mozzarella cheese- melt in the toaster oven and it’s the best meatball sandwich you will ever taste!!! Of course for the adults, some salad and red wine is a must!!