Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Acorn Squash and Chickpea Soup

This soup was inspired by a recipe I saw for a butternut squash soup here. Apart from using Acorn squash I made a couple of minor changes to soup the most important of which was the addition of saffron. I was very pleased with the end result and it tasted much better the next day as the saffron spent more time in the soup.


1 Acorn Squash
1 can of chickpeas, drained and washed
1 1/2 cup milk ( add a little more or less depending on taste and consistency and size of squash)
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp Asian curry powder
1/2 tsp paprika ( more if you like it spicy)
2- 3 cloves of garlic chopped fine
a few strands of saffron
1 tsp olive oil to fry the garlic
water/broth to thin out
salt to taste

Normally I like to oven roast these winter squashes. They smell lovely and the flavors they acquire are delicious. But I have trying to cook with a time budget and so decided to go the microwave route. The next time I make this soup I will probably try it again in the oven. 

Poke a few holes in the acorn squash and keep in the microwave to cook for 5 minutes. Keep adding minutes after that point and cook till the squash feels tender. The cooking time will vary widely based on the power of the microwave, size of squash etc. It took about 8 minutes for my squash to get tender. Take out and let cool enough to handle. 

Cut the squash, remove the seeds and scoop out the pulp. Add the pulp and milk in a blender and form  a creamy mixture. 

In a large pan, add a little butter or olive oil. Add the garlic to the oil and cook. Add the Asian curry powder and cook for an additional minute. To the pan add the acorn squash and milk mixture. Also add the paprika, honey and the washed chickpeas to the pot. Add a couple of cups of water or broth to thin out the mixture. Add salt to taste and stir to ensure that everything is mixed in.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Take a few strands of saffron and add it to the pot and cook for an additional minute. Stir the soup vigorously so the saffron gets incorporated in the soup.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


These are the most addictive cookies I have ever eaten.They are great with a cup of milk or a hot cup of ginger tea. I prefer crisp ginger biscuits to the soft chewy version. These cookies remind me of the cookies I used to eat in Bangalore. My cousin was a huge fan of ginger cookies and would munch them with her endless cups of tea.

I have made a couple of batches of these cookies this season. In the first one I used vegetaCheck Spellingble oil and then King Arthur website had a recipe for gingersnaps with shortening so I gave that a shot. The recipe here is the one from King Arthur and I am very pleased with them.

Preheat your oven at 375 F


1 cup sugar
2 and 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 and 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered allspice
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt

powdered sugar coating

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice

In a mixing bowl add the vegetable shortening, molasses, egg and sugar. Mix until it is incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a separate bowl. Mix together and add the dry ingredients to the shortening, molasses mixture. Mix thoroughly to form a stiff

Measure out portions with a melon baller or a measuring teaspoon. This will result in more uniform sizes. Roll each portion to form a ball.

Mix the ingredients for the powdered sugar coating in a shallow bowl. Roll the balls in this mixture and place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Place these balls about an inch apart.

Bake in the oven for 11 to 13 minutes.

Take out and cool for crispy, delicious cookies.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rye and Whole Wheat Bread

I love to bake bread and am particularly proud of this bread since it is such a healthy and tasty bread. Though it is not a 100% whole wheat bread I am slowly trying to take it in that direction by reducing the amount of bread flour I add. And because it has so much whole grain in it, a slice or two of this bread in the morning keeps me going for a long time.


1 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour ( I use white whole wheat from King Arthur)
3/4 cup bread flour (I used King Arthur)
2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tbsp light molasses
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water ( I find it best to add 1/4 cup and then add as much of the water as I can while I knead without making the dough too sticky)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of caraway seeds ( I did not have caraway seeds on hand and so skipped this)

Take 1/2 boiling water and add the honey, molasses and butter to it. Mix and let the butter melt. Now set aside and let the mixture come to lukewarm temperature.

Take 1/4 cup warm water in a separate container add the yeast to it. Mix and set aside. After a few minutes the water and yeast mixture should be a little frothy. Add this water and yeast mixture to the honey and molasses mixture and stir to combine.

Mix the whole wheat, bread flour, caraway seeds and salt in a container and add the liquids to the dry mixture. Stir to combine. After a wet mixture forms add the rye flour and start kneading. I spent about 15 minutes kneading this bread while slowly adding more water ( the other 1/4 cup). If the dough is too sticky add more bread flour but just a little at a time.

I am still experimenting with my kneading technique so it is still work in progress. But I did a simple stretch and fold for this bread and it seemed to work fine. However, I will probably get better results with some experimentation and research. But not to complicate it too much, knead till you get a smooth ball and then put the dough in a well oiled container , cover and let rise in a warm kitchen for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours till it doubles. Since this is a rather dense bread it will takes its own sweet time to rise.

After the rise punch the dough down, knead for a minute and put into an oiled loaf pan. Cover and let it rise again for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Set the oven at 375 F and bake for 30 minutes. If you think the top is browning too much for you cover the bread with foil and bake.

This taste delicious with butter or peanut butter and marmalade.

Corn and Fire Roasted Poblano Soup

This soup was a revelation. It was just one of those things that I put together after googling what I had in my fridge. This is a simple soup and a little different from the other corn soups out there. But it packs a punch.


1 onion finely diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 pack frozen corn kernels (use fresh if you can)
4 cups milk
3 poblano peppers ( 2 if you like it milder)
32 oz vegetable broth broth
1 tbs butter ( just enough to cook the onions)
salt and pepper to taste

Roast the poblano peppers over a flame. When they are blackened completely put them in an air tight container and close the lid. The steam from the poblano peppers helps loosen the charred skin from the pepper. After 15 minutes or so open the containers and remove the charred parts from the poblano peppers. Chop the peppers into a fine dice.

Defrost the corn kernels and put them into a blender along with the milk. Blend thoroughly

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion. Stir and cook till they start becoming translucent and then add the garlic. Cook this for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the corn and milk mixture to this pot along with the broth. Add the chopped poblano peppers. Cook this mixture on a medium flame for about 30 or more minutes till you the corn is cooked and you get a thicker creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Since we use a lot of broth in this soup it is best to add the salt in the end so we can control the total amount of salt in the soup.

This soup definitely taste better on the second day. The poblano peppers need some time to really permeate through the soup. But when they do this is a very satisfying and very rich tasting soup. Perfect for this chilly weather we have been having.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Orange Gin and Tonic

A couple of months ago a bushel of oranges and a large bottle of cheap gin happened in my kitchen at the same time. Alright so it wasn't a bushel more like half a dozen but it is such a cool word. And I was still in my infuse stage. So the bottle gin went into a jar with 5 oranges cut into 8s. It remained there for a week and then the gin was filtered into a air tight jar.

Fast forward to this 8:30 p.m Saturday and husband was in kitchen with a craving for cocktails. And 30 minutes later I was sitting down with Orange gin and tonic and some fresh bruschetta. The bruschetta was made with some fresh pesto from the last of our basil plant and some home made rosemary bread. The drink was just one past orange infused gin with two parts tonic and was perfect.


1 part Orange infused gin
2 parts tonic water

Add to glass. Chuck some ice in, stir and enjoy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegetarian Soondubu Jjigae

Korean food is a relatively recent find for me and from the very beginning it has been like love. Korean food like Indian food is served piping hot especially the jjigae. Soondubu Jjigae named after the special soft tofu that is used in this soup is a very popular Korean dish. However it is not a very vegetarian friendly dish. In the sense that even in the very diverse Korean street in NYC the vegetarian soondubu jjigae was nothing like the fiery cauldron that the regular jjigae.

This altered vegetarian version however is a big improvement and is delicious.


6 to 10 dried shitake mushrooms
2 smallish zucchinis
half a onion
2 to 3 cloves garlic
a packet of soon tofu
3 tbsp Korean chili powder
2 large chili pepper ( these are not the very spicy variety of pepper. For more about the chili peppers refer here.)
1 packet of beach mushrooms
1 tbsp mushroom sauce
1 green onion
salt to taste

The process starts with making stalk. Take 5 cups of water , add the dried shitake mushrooms, onion and garlic. Just peel the onion and garlic and add them to the water so it is easy to fish them out later. You could also add dried kelp. I avoid kelp since my husband is not a big fan of the flavor. Boil the mixture to make stalk. Filter the water and take out and reserve the dried shitake mushrooms.

In a large sauce pot, add 1 tsp oil. To this add the red chili powder. Slice the now boiled shitake mushrooms that you had reserved from the stalk making and add it to the pot. Let cook for a minute and then add the squash and the stalk. Add salt and mushroom sauce. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes. You can also use any other vegetables that you may want. Add the beach mushrooms and the soon tofu. Let boil for 5 more minutes. Add sliced green chilies, green onion. Crack two eggs and add them a few minutes before serving and allow the egg to cook in the mixture. The eggs are optional and the jjigae taste very good without the eggs also.

Another optional thing is a little bit of sesame oil just before you turn off the flame.

Eat piping hot with rice and banchan.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Green Tomato Thokku

Irene came and left us relatively unscathed. While I am very grateful that a storm that inflicted so much damage on so many people was so kind to us I was a little upset with the damages to my small patio garden. All the moving around of the large tomato, eggplant and pepper plants let to many broken branches and a bunch of produce that is too small, too green, too raw.

So long story short I found myself with quite a few green tomatoes. I was not sure how to use these. I tried adding them in stir fries, soups etc but it was not working for me. Green tomatoes have a nice tart flavour that is not disguised in stir fries.

Yesterday I had a brainwave about how I would like to use these tomatoes. What I was doing wrong was trying to mask the tartness of the green tomatoes. What I should do instead is celebrate them. So I made a green tomato thokku. This is a Indian spicy chutney that is eaten with rice and curd and is normally made with raw mangoes. And green tomatoes was the perfect substitute. They were firm enough to stand up to grating. The thokku was tart and very flavourful.


4 large green tomatoes
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp til oil
a couple of pinches of asfoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
3 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste since this quantity will vary drastically based on chili powder used and your own preferences)

Grate the green tomatoes. Heat 2 tbsp til oil in pan. When oil is hot add the mustard seeds and watch them splutter. Add the asfoetida and turmeric. Add the grated green tomatoes. Add salt and let the green tomatoes cook on a low flame. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the oil forms a nice coating over the green tomatoes. Add the chili powder. Taste, adjust seasoning (chili powder and salt) and cook for a few more minutes.
Cook and store in a bottle in the refrigerator. Enjoy.

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