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Category Archives: quick cooking

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

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K’s lunchbox is like my one excited cooking moment of the day. What to make (and subsequently pack) is a question I am asking myself almost everyday.

I make a weekly list of things I can make in the stupor of the morning that won’t take too long. It helps to have a list because in the mornings, the last thing I can do is to be creative while watching the clock hands tick away. This pasta (like most pastas in my life) is crowd pleasing and can be done in less than 20 minutes. Quantities can be altered according to need and passes muster on my benchmark for a dish that is a crowd pleaser – is welcome at a lunch / brunch buffet.

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

You know those garlic pods, that decide to spring to life in the vegetable tray of the fridge? I planted a bunch of them in a plastic takeaway tub filled with growing medium. In a week, green garlic shoots were ready for cutting. I snip them with a pair of scissors and they grow back. Conveniently placed on the wall of my kitchen, they are at arms length to be thrown into scrambled eggs, omelets, pasta, soup or a salad. Sometimes I use them in place of fresh coriander leaves as a garnish for Indian style vegetable dishes. They add a mild garlic flavour and are subtle enough not to make you want to drink mouthwash after your meal ūüėõDSC_0406

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta (Serves 2)

3  cups cooked pasta (I used penne, but any short pasta will do)

1 medium onion, sliced thickly

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/4 cup fresh garlic chives

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Olive oil

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the oil, when warm, toss in the red chilli flakes, after a couple of seconds, ensuring the chilli doesn’t burn, add the onion and mushrooms and a little of the salt.

Saute for 3-4 minutes until the mushroom and onions are very lightly caramelising.

Add the cooked pasta, and toss well. Season with salt as per taste, garnish with the garlic chives and toss again. Drizzle with 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil and serve.

Done!

Breakfast Ideas ~ Egg Salad Rolls

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Stop stealing my eggs!

Stop stealing my eggs!

I find myself dipping into Sage’s share of boiled eggs once in a while for a quick snack, an idle time eat, to pimp up my salad or just dunk into a tomato onion gravy. Having a couple of boiled eggs on hand has always allowed me to be fed on days when K is travelling or I am feeling particularly slothful.

I had to come up with an easy kid friendly breakfast recipe for my newspaper column and decided I had to pay homage to one of my favourite ways of eating boiled eggs – egg salad.

There is nothing much to ‘making’ this breakfast roll. Unless boiling an egg and toasting bread counts as cooking in your books (which it sometimes does in mine ;P)

Egg Salad Roll

Egg Salad Roll

Egg Salad Roll (Makes 2 rolls)

Wholewheat bread roll           2

Boiled Eggs                                 2

Mayonnaise                              2 tablespoons

Tomato Sauce                          1 tablespoon

Cucumber ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬ľ chopped fine

Tomato ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬Ĺ chopped fine

Coriander leaves                   a small bunch

Salt and pepper                      to taste

Chop the boiled eggs into medium pieces, toss with the chopped cucumber and tomato in a bowl.

Add the mayonnaise, tomato sauce, fresh coriander leaves and salt and pepper and gently mix.

Slice the rolls in two lengthwise, gently warm them on a tava. Place a few spoonfuls of the filling along the length of the roll.

Cover with the other half. Secure with a toothpick. Serve with some tomato sauce on the side.

*This mixture can also be used to stuff a paratha or roti like a frankie and served.

 

Fusilli with Pine Nuts and Basil in Marinara Sauce

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Last year, I attended a live demonstration at a recently opened bistro in Hyderabad where the Chef showed us how to make fresh pasta. I have attempted to make fresh pasta in the past and I loved it. It was nice to interact with the Chef, ask questions and get answers for best techniques, ingredients, etc. We were served a pasta in a basic Marinara Sauce for which the chef gave us a rough recipe. What makes me want to cry is most of these recipes for sauces, need to be cooked for hours and hours and simmered and have all kinds of fussy ingredients. No doubt they taste fabulous, but I am nothing if not a cook who wants to always cheat!

There is nothing I loathe more than standing and stirring for hours. Even when a special celebration meal with several dishes is

So here is my version of a quick Marinara, ready in under 20 minutes, and tastes fabulous (even if i say so myself). I know a lot of cooks blanch tomatoes and peel the skin off and I do it too sometimes, but not this time, this is a quick sauce. I used local desi tomatoes, if you are using the Roma variety, you may need to blanch and peel the skin off as it is thicker than the skin of country variety of tomatoes.

Fusili Pasta

Fusili Pasta

Fusili Pasta in a Quick Marinara Sauce

2 cups cooked fusili (or any other pasta of choice) pasta {Cook according to packet instructions in salted water, drain and reserve some of the water}

3-4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used regular desi tomatoes)

1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 pods of garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon each of sugar, red chilli powder/ red chilli flakes, dried/ fresh oregano and dried/ fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of grated cheese (I used cheddar, parmesan is also good)

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts (use almonds to substitute)

a small sprig of basil leaves

Put the chopped tomato, garlic, onion and 1/4 cup of water in a blender and pulse till smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and tip over the pureed tomatoes. Add the red chilli powder / flakes, oregano and basil and half the salt and pepper, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.

Taste the sauce and add the remaining salt and pepper if needed. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Turn off the flame and cool for a couple of minutes.

Toss in the cooked pasta, stir and add the cheese.

Serve out into serving bowls, top with fresh basil and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Eat when it is still warm.

This sauce can be refrigerated and stored after completely being cooled in an air tight box for upto 1 week. Makes for a good pasta / pizza sauce and also as a sandwich spread.

Chili Garlic Sauteed Vegetables ~ Sandwich

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Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

This has to be the month of sandwiches for me. After detesting dry bread with cucumber and tomato slices, I have become a sandwich fiend with a vengeance. There is nothing better than a good sandwich made with fresh bread. Generally I do not like the bread to be slathered on with either butter or mayonnaise. Just a little to get things going and add flavour.  This sandwich filling has three of my current favourites ~ mushrooms, olive oil and a readymade chilli garlic paste which is handy to have in the fridge.

I add this paste to curries, dal, pasta sauce, vegetables and even spinach for a nice kick. It is not too spicy and yet lends a wonderful depth to the vegetables. Am sure this can be made at home, I just picked it up on a whim of my now aimless supermarket trips and am (for a change) making good use of it.

I used onions, sliced mushrooms and a little bit of bell peppers. Am sure zucchini, thin strips of carrot, and even slices of eggplant will taste terrific in this. The key is to add a lot of onions  and saute them on a medium flame till they are sweet from the caramelization, but not brown or crisp.

A box of these sauteed vegetables in the fridge will make it easy to rustle up pasta, a roti wrap or even as a vegetable side on a busy weeknight.

Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

Chili Garlic Sauteed Vegetables ~ Sandwich (Makes 2)

4 slices                       Bread of choice, lightly toasted

1 medium                   Onion, sliced (about 2/3 cup)

1 cup                          Vegetables such as bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach etc, sliced

1 tablespoon              Extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon                 Chilli garlic paste (or grind together one clove of garlic with 1 ripe red chilli)

a handful of fresh herbs such as coriander or basil

1 teaspoons               Salted butter

  • In a flat pan, heat the oil and add all the vegetables. Saute on medium heat till the vegetables have wilted and the onions are translucent(about 2 minutes).
  • Add the chilli garlic paste, salt to taste and the fresh herbs and mix well. ¬†Continue to saute till the liquid from the vegetables has almost dried off. At this point, the onions should be a deep brown and still soft. Turn off the heat and cool.
  • On a medium hot tava, toast the bread lightly and apply the butter.
  • Place the sauteed vegetables in a thin layer, top with the other slice of bread and press down lightly. Toast for 1 minute on each side, ensuring the filling does not come out.
  • Slice diagonally and serve warm.

Note: these vegetables can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for upto 5 days to make a quick meal tossed with cooked pasta or in a wrap.

 

{Quick Recipe} Baby Brinjals with Ginger and Kalonji

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Baby Brinjals

Baby Brinjals

I did a column recently for the newspaper I write for, emphasizing that most beginners in the kitchen shy away from Indian cooking on a weeknight because we think it is complicated, uses too many ingredients and is a multi step process. While this is true for elaborate recipes, there are an astounding number of dishes that can be made in under 20 minutes. For instance this brinjal dish, I like to make it with the freshest and most tender green baby brinjals I can find. With a light seasoning of kalonji, this cooks in less than 10 minutes. Perfect for a week night dinner and pairs well with both rice and roti.

This recipe can be made with any kind of brinjals, although I strongly recommend the green ones.

Baby Brinjals Saute ~ with Nigella Seeds (Kalonji) and Fresh Ginger

Baby Green Brinjals                    250 grams, stems removed and quartered

Onion                                             1 small, sliced (optional)

Green Chilli                                   1, finely chopped or crushed with a mortar and pestle

Fresh Ginger                                 1/2 inch piece, grated

Vegetable Oil                                 1 teaspoon

Kalonji or Nigella Seeds               1 teaspoon

Fresh Coriander Leaves              1 small bunch

Salt                                                  to taste

In a pan, heat the oil over medium heat till hot but not smoking. Make sure the oil is not overheated, as the kalonji seeds will burn easily and become bitter.

Splutter the kalonji seeds, add the onions and quartered brinjal together and saute for about 3-4 minutes, till the vegetables begin to wilt.

Add the crushed green chilli, grated ginger and salt to taste and stir. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 minutes, checking to see that the vegetable doesn’t stick to the pan.

Stir in the fresh coriander leaves, remove from the heat and serve hot with rice or rotis.

This dish cooks in the moisture from the brinjal, in steam because it is covered. If you prefer open pan cooking, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of water every few minutes, till the vegetable is cooked.

Baby Brinjals

Baby Brinjals

Three Ingredient Soup ~ Pumpkin, Potato and Fried Garlic

pumpkin potato soup

pumpkin potato soup

I looked at the right corner of the screen of my computer to check the time, was shocked it was almost 8.30PM. Should have listened to the rumblings in my tummy. Ignoring them when your fridge is free of leftovers (happens sometimes in the Escapades household) is a sure indication that I may have succumbed to some jelly or whipped cream that was leftover from my desserts class on the weekend.

I have not been going to the gym for over 2 months for various reasons. This means that I am trying (in vain) to atleast eat right.

I knew we had a wedge of pumpkin and a few sprouting potatoes in the vegetable crisper. I sprung into action and whipped out my trusty peeler and tiny 11/2 litre pressure cooker.

Pumpkin – Potato and Fried Garlic Soup (serves 2)

Yellow Pumpkin                                 1 cup (remove the skin, seeds and membranes, chop into chunks)

Potato                                                         1 cup (peel the skin and chop into chunks)

Garlic cloves                                              2-3 (peel the skin and slice finely)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil                               2 teaspoon

Salt and freshly ground pepper              to taste

Heat a pressure cooker till quite hot. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and sliced garlic. Sauté till the garlic turns golden and almost crisp.

Add the cubed pumpkin and potato and pumpkin and toss around till they are nicely coated in the oil. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of hot water and put the lid onto the pressure cooker. Cook for 3 whistles and take off the heat.

When the pressure releases, put everything into a blender jar and whiz till the vegetables get puréed and you have a nice thick liquid.

Return to the pot, heat through but do not boil. Add salt to taste and freshly cracked pepper.

Dish out into serving bowls, garnish with the remaining olive oil and serve hot with crusty bread on the side.

Day 2 ~ Spicy Asian Style Vegetable Broth with Buckwheat Noodles

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Wishing all my readers A Very Happy & Warm Diwali. May your homes and hearts be filled with the love of your family and friends, your tummies full and your lives happy.

Spicy Asian Broth

Spicy Asian Broth

There is nothing that punctures the ego of a food blogger better than a set of terrible pictures! If you know me well enough, some of my best experiments, trials and efforts never make it to the blog because it would have been demolished even before I reached out for the camera. Sometimes, I would have made something which I felt was not blog worthy and after spooning in a mouthful, reached out to take a picture because the recipe / dish surpassed my expectation. Such is the life.

This Asian Style vegetable broth with noodles was made after a tired day, when the last thing I wanted to do was to slave in the kitchen. I put together whatever vegetables I had, seasoned it well and threw in some noodles for a carb kick. It hit home all the right spots and made for a very satisfying dinner. Please pardon the crappy pictures, trust me when I say this soup was excellent.

Buck wheat noodles have a nice texture because they are thicker than refined flour noodles. I happened to have a pack which I used, replace with any noodles of your choice.

Spicy Asian Style Vegetable Broth with Buckwheat Noodles – Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium Onion (sliced into semi circles)

1/2 cup Yellow Pumpkin (Remove the skin and slice into 1/4 inch thickness)

1/2 cup Mushrooms (I used King mushrooms, use any kind you have)

1/2 cup Spinach (remove the tough stems and chop roughly)

1/2 inch piece of fresh Ginger

1 small fresh red chilli (use dried red chilli soaked in a bit of warm water, discard water before using), crushed with a mortar and pestle

2 sprigs of fresh Basil

1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

freshly crushed pepper to taste

1 teaspoon sesame oil (or vegetable oil)

1 cup cooked Buckwheat Noodles

1 teaspoon of lemon juice (adjust to taste)

Method

Wash and slice/ dice all the vegetables.

Skin and crush the ginger roughly.

Cook the noodles as per the directions on the packet, drain and set aside.

In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and add the crushed ginger & red chilli. Fry for a few seconds, add the sliced onion, pumpkin and mushrooms and saute till the onion has turned translucent. Season with half the salt and pepper.

Add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes or till the vegetables have cooked through. Skim off any scum that comes to the top with a spoon.

Add the cooked noodles and spinach and take off the heat, cover and let sit for 4-5 minutes.

Spoon into serving bowls, serve hot with a dash of lemon juice and a sprig of fresh basil.

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