Beet, Oats and Flax Seed Tikki / Croquette/ Cutlets

 

  • Hot weather in Spring : Check
  • Crabby kids : Check
  • Crabby mom : Check ( Nah, I am an angel!)
  • Weekly produce cleaning and org: Check
  • A bunch of beets : Check

It was hot sultry calm before the storm in NC. Very hot and humid weather and temperature in higher eighties.. We know what happens next here – thunderstorms and heavy rains. Predicted in the next 24 hrs.  That still did not stop us from cribbing and hoping we could have a bit of the cooler breeze. But nonetheless, as part of the fridge cleaning process, I came across a bunch of beets.. And that’s what became of these..

This was such a delight to have.. Made a cool Minty Cucumber Greek Yoghurt Dip and it was absolute heaven on hot sultry night.. Kids loved it! The only indulgence was the addition of bread crumbs made easier on self cause I used the wheat kind. The shredded raw beets and crunch of sesame on the top and great blended flavors from the spices boosted this to just another level !

Beet, Oats and Flax Seed Tikki / Croquette/ Cutlets

Prep time : 30 min  Cook time : 30 min Yield : 36 cutlets

Ingredients

For the base:

  • Fine Shredded Raw Beets : 1 and another 1/4 Cups
  • Fine Shredded Raw Carrots : 3/4 cup
  • Fine shredded Onion : 1/4 cup
  • Boiled Potatoes : 2, peeled and mashed
  • Bread Crumbs : 1/4 cup
  • Roasted and powdered Oats : 1/4 cup
  • Roasted and Powdered flax seeds : 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Cilantro Chopped  :1/4 cup
  • Fresh Mint Chopped : 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Jalapeno : 2 chopped fine ( optional)
  • Red chili powder : 1 tsp. ( optional and adjusted to spice level)
  • Garam Masala : 1.5 tsp.
  • Chat Masala : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp.

For the outer covering to create the crunchy crust:

  • Bread Crumbs : 1/2 cup
  • Sesame seeds : 1-2 Tbsp.

 To cook :

  • Oil as desired

Method:

  1. Pulse everything listed under the base in your food processor or if not in wide bowl by hand. The idea is to bring it all together to form a wet mass. This is achieved when the wet sticky potato mass combines with the fresh ingredients. You typically will not need any water at all to bring it together.
  2. Make 2 inches flat patties in diameter and about 3/4 of an inch thick out of these and set aside.
  3. Mix everything listed for the crust and set aside. If you do not wish to add bread crumbs but just the sesame seeds, it will bring out the richness and color of beets but you will still miss the crunchiness of it.
  4. Coat these patties  well in the bread crumbs –  sesame seeds mixture. Nope, I did not initially dip it in milk, corn flour paste, flour paste or any such thing. The wetness of the patty was enough to coat the bread crumbs mix..
  5. Note: The patty was wet but definitely not sticky.
  6. In a wide skillet, add a Tbsp. or so of oil  and gently swivel it so it coats the entire surface of the skillet and then heat it . ( A nonstick would be pretty useful here).
  7. Gently place the patties on the heated oil surface and cook for about 5 – 9 minutes. Flip it once in the 4-5 minute interval and gently press down to ensure they are cooked thoroughly but not smushed.
  8. Do cook it in medium high heat. In very high heat just the outer layer would be cooked and you will have soft raw middle.
  9. Serve it with cool yoghurt dip.

Minty Cool Yoghurt dip:

  •  2 cups of Greek / very thick yoghurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup of very finely shredded cucumber
  • 1/4 cup of very finely chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp. of chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

 Mix all together and serve!

Option 1 : Yes you can deep fry this.  Yes it will taste absolutely delicious, but man why would you want to do it on a hot spring night and also kill the beets?

 Option 2 :  Baking . I did try baking it on 375 – 400 for about 15 minutes. The pan version yielded better taste though.

 

 

 

 

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

I swear I do not know if baking is therapeutic. I seem to do these things when I have million other things going.. When I do seem to find a bit of time ,I usually reach for a book. Though the latter does not seem to be happening lately. I am falling behind on catching up with some great novels. I used to be a bibliophile? Notice the past tense? Sigh ! Maybe these will put me in the mood to catch up on some reading, movies and music.

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

 

A seemingly blah day can be perked up with these dainty Shortbread cookies or  Nankhatai made with wheat? Yes of course! Made with wheat and some goodies in it as well.

Improvised my old recipe on a lark and it seemed to work ..

These are some gorgeous melt in the mouth cookies. The only problem, they’re so melt in the mouth that you do need to hide the cookie tin away !

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachio, with just a hint of oranges and saffron!  Lovely!

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

The amazing bend of flavors works so much in their favor and these are truly met in the mouth. As a big plus, I used soft brown sugar . Now this provided the extra  dimension and some crunch. If you can only taste this, I tell you would be absolutley taken in ! And if you do plan on selling you house this is a great smell to entice your buyers ! Fresh baked cookies.. Can it get better than this?

This is a tweak from my other Nankhatai recipe

Prep time : 15 min  Dough resting time : 30 min

Bake time : 14-16 min  Yield : 20 cookies

Shelf life : Minimal with 3 tykes in the house ( 1 week)

Ingredients :

  • White whole wheat flour : 1/2 Cup
  • All purpose flour : 1/2 Cup
  • Unsalted Butter at room temperature : 1/2 Cup = 1 stick
  • Salt : A tiny pinch ( to enhance the flavor) ( 1/4 tsp.)
  • Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Fine soft brown sugar : 1/2 Cup
  • Saffron strands : a generous pinch, slight warmed and crushed well to be mixed
  • Chopped raw Pistachios : 1/8 cup
  • Chopped dried Cranberries ( craisins) : 1/8 cup
  • Pure orange extract : 1 tsp.
  • Zest of orange : 1 tsp. ( optional)

 Garnish: ( Optional)

Raw Pistachios : fine chopped, 2 Tbsp.

Method :

  • Cream the butter and  sugar in a big mixing bowl. Cream it well until the sugar granules are nice and invisible in it. The creaming is essential to get the texture and ensure proper baking too. In the case of brown sugar, you might still see tiny flecks of it.
  • In an another bowl, whisk together sifted whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, crushed saffron. Whisk it well to aerate it and to ensure even distribution of the soda and saffron.
  • Add the dry mix into the creamed mixture. Add the chopped nuts and cranberries as well mid way into binding the dough to ensure even distribution.
  • You should be able to form a soft pliable dough. Honestly you should not need any liquids to bind this dough and this will be  a super soft one. ( Yep, it’s loaded with butter)
  • Refrigerate it for say 30 min. ( I believe this would make crisper cookies)
  • Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Pinch out small globes from this and make  nice smooth cookie balls. Indent  with  the flat side of the fork to lend it your touch. Place it about 2 inches apart from each other to ensure good baking and breathing space.
  • Garnish with chopped nuts (Pistachios in my case ).
  • Pop it into oven and bake it for about 14-16 min
  • I baked  mine for 17 min, because we love the crispy-crunchy-melt-in-your mouth kind of cookies. These have a nice caramel color. Careful do not over bake them or burn them !
  • Let it cool on the wire rack .( And if you do not keep an eagle eye, a few of them would be sampled right away)
  • Store in an airtight container

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

Enjoy!

( Now please excuse me – a cup of Ayurvedic tea  is calling my name!!! )

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting ( on chocolate cupcakes) – Super Quick and Easy!

It was a beautiful day today. Hitting a near 80 F out in Cary, NC. As gorgeous a day it was, my furry friend decided it was a great day to officially decimate the dead fig tree. Well I had minor hopes of a miracle on the fig . You see it was lush and beautiful and even borne a couple of fruits, but it did not survive our whacko weather out here. Snow and more snow and then bright sunshine and crazy temperature fluctuations. So when then main anchor trunk ( more like it was wisp of a twig) broke and it was field day out for my 4 legged friend. Not only did she decimate it, she also quite helpfully dug a hole  for the next one to be planted. With spring break on and puppy chasing around the house, we finally got to get some minor work done.  I think M ( my furry friend) secretly watched Marley and Me in her mother’s womb. She has a near indestructible appetite for edible and non edible things !

My moment of glory!
My moment of glory!

While things were running amok and in the midst of cleaning up the kids playroom, I decided to experiment on eggless cinnamon rolls.  While preheating the oven, I thought this also calls for a batch of  chocolate cupcakes. Actually make that 24 chocolate cupcakes and then inspiration struck me. I needed  something nice and pretty on the frosting . I had been wanting to try the  blackberry frosting for some time. Thought it would be nice and not sickly sweet to top the chocolate cupcakes with . I think this will also go perfect with a batch of  lemon cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes .

 Just perfect buttercream frosting that incorporates ingredients from your pantry – butter, seedless blackberry jam  and confectioner’s sugar. That’s it ! Pretty neat eh??

Prep time : 15 min  

Frosting  for about 24 cupcakes

 Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter : 16 Tbsp. ( 2 sticks) at Room Temperature
  • Confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar : 4 -4.5 cups sifted
  • Blackberry seedless jam : 1/2 cup

In a stand mixer , whip them all together for about 5 minutes or so  until the frosting is super creamy and smooth and thick.

 Pipe it out on your favorite cupcakes.

Swirled on!
Swirled on!

For Lemon: http://www.veggierumblings.com/lemon-cupcakes-light-lemony-and-so-delectable/

For Choco -banana:  http://www.veggierumblings.com/moist-coffee-espresso-cocoa-banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/

 

 

Quick Herb Sandwich Bread – One hour bread!

When the going get’s tough, the tough get going!

When we run out of bread at 6 Am, we bake to have a fresh loaf by 7.30 AM … So espoused the sleep deprived brain of mine!

 Now most people do not claim to be sane at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, but hey I never claimed that part of my brain – you know the part when the saner actions originate from, that part was particularly alive and kicking generally.  My four legged addition to the family, a particularly feisty puppy of 5 months old decided 5.40 AM WAS THE PERFECT TIME TO CATCH UP ON THE BARKING OF AN ENTIRE DAY! YIPPE, YIPPE , YAY YAY! Let’s wake up the entire neighborhood ! Now before sleeping tykes get rudely roused ( though I have told them to just put a pillow on their heads and get back to sleep, training the puppy at work and all ) I was up in any case at 5.30 ( blame the body clock!), so keeping me company when I embarked on this madcap adventure  of a bit of this and bit of that , yielding in a successful kitchen experiment was M, my furry companion!  I so totally envy her, after all the rabble rousing bark and her business attended to, she was happily curled up near the vent of the heater, just occasionally raising her head to see to what’s happening and most of the time though happily content to be! Just be.

So here it is, my version of a quick sandwich loaf with minimal ingredients and really yum results.

This is a super quick and equally delicious sandwich bread made in about 60 minutes flat! Yep, that’s right 60 minutes including the rising time and you have it ready to make a thick delicious grilled sandwich or an equally  yum grilled cheese one or just a plain fare of toast with a dab of creamy salted butter!

Please do note, the use of Instant dry yeast is what leads to the quick rising of bread and thereby eliminating the need for a second rise.

Quick bread : check  

Easy loaf : check  

No eggs : check  

Not too much oil or sugar : check  

One rise : check  

Perfect : check   

 

1,2,3
1,2,3
Sliced to perfection!
Sliced to perfection!

Ingredients:

  • Bread flour : 2.5 cups + 0.5 cup as needed
  • Water : very warm, 1 cup
  • Sugar : 1 Tbsp.
  • Olive Oil : 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp to grease the bowl
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili flakes : 1/2 Tbsp. ( optional)
  • Fresh and died herbs  of choice: 1/4 cup
  • Instant Active dry yeast : 1 packet  ( 1/4 ounce)

Notes : Do not have Bread flour? Have only All purpose flour? works fine too. Want to try whole wheat? Try mixing the flours half and half and give it a shot! Please do try and use unbromated, unbleached flour. If you end up using unbromated flour, then do knead a bit more.

Method:

  • In a wide mixing bowl or you stand kneader’s bowl add in 2.5 cups of flour, the herbs mix, the salt, sugar  and the instant dry yeast and using a paddle attachment or a whisk make sure they are thoroughly stirred and distributed.
  • Add in the 2 Tbsp. of Olive oil and stir it well too.
  • Replace the paddle to the dough hook and add in the very warm water and knead it well. Once the dough gathers, decide if you need to add a bit more . If so because the dough is too shaggy and sticky, add the extra half cup of flour in stages of 2 tsp. or so and bring it all together and knead very well for about 4- 5 minutes. The end result would be a very soft pliable dough, but definitely not tearing apart. A bit sticky is fine. Not adding too much flour and kneading it very well for about 4 minutes will definitely help the texture of the bread by yielding a light loaf.
  • Grease the bowl with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and shape the dough in a ball and place it in it and cover with your kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm dark place for about 20 minutes or until the dough is doubled in volume so. Make sure you have nice warm dark place to let your bread rise. If you think you are unsure about where to put it ordinate have a free draft free zone, preheat your oven to about 100 F or so. And turn it off.  The  residual heat in the oven can serve as a nice environment to let your bread rise.
  • After about 20 minutes, gently punch the dough to deflate it and shape it into a free loaf or shape it in your 9 by 5 bread pan. I used the  bread pan and greased it before placing the dough in it and flat patted it. No log formation , nothing. Just a free ball rolled up and then deflated and patted gently to fit the base of the 9 by 5 pan evenly.
  • UPDATE: Slash the top layer of the dough , 1/4 of an inch – make about 2 -3 of these atleast. this will help the steam escape and prevent your bread from splitting on the top.

Baking:

  • In the lowermost rack of your baking oven, fill a baking tray with very very hot tap water and place it.
  • Place your bread pan in the middle rack of your oven.
  • Now set the oven temp to 400 deg F and cook time to 40 minutes and start. Yes, you start with a cold oven !
  • In about 40-42 minutes, you will have a beautiful golden brown loaf with perfect crust.
  • When you tap the sides of the bread and it sounds hollow – you are good  to take it out and cool it.

Remove , let it cool and slice it thick for perfect toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese and more!

Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas – Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!

I had a whole tub of Ricotta cheese sitting in the Fridge. This is not one measly tub , mind you! One whole big tub of this equals to nearly 3 cups of cheese… Sigh ! Costco shopping can be quite dangerous to me. And to the Fridge ! And to the waistline.. I mean there is only so much kalakkand and caramel cheese fudge I can make..

So there I was staring at the fridge and literally looking at the tub of Ricotta cheese and thinking – I did not buy that ! But you do what you have to do. And dinner was calling in a couple of hours . And necessity is the mother of invention ! With a little help because of the near bare contents of the fridge and little chemistry and more of if-you-are-hungry-you-can-eat-anything-, this one was made.

In any case , this one thing I created on the whim became a huge – I mean it guys… HUGE, HUMONGOUS hit at home !

Ricotta cheese is a bit like the modeling clay you can get in your hands. A blank slate to create what strikes your fancy. This time the tub of cheese became wonderful stuffed Parathas.

This one was awesome and the recipe is a sure shot keeper…

Prep time : 30-45 min   Dough resting time: 1 hr       Cooking time : 45 min      Serves :6- 8

Ingredients:

For the Stuffing:

  • Ricotta cheese : 3 cups cheese,
  • Boiled Potato : 2-3
  • Grated ginger : 1 tsp
  • Turmeric : 1 tsp
  • Salt : 1-1.5 tsp
  • Green Chillies or Chilli powder : Added to taste and spice level
  • Coriander – Jeera powder : 1.5 tsp
  • Garam masala (Optional) : 1.5 tsp.
  • Kasuri Methi : 1 tsp. Crushed well.

For the Dough:

  • Whole wheat flour: 3.5 cups
  • Ajwain : 1 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder / Haldi : 1/2 tsp
  • Kashmiri Chilli pwder : 1/2 tsp
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil : 1-2 Tsp.
  • Very warm water : 1.5 cup + as required

Prep work :

For the stuffing:

  • The ricotta cheese I used, was very very moist and there fore I emptied it out on a wide Corelle bowl, whisked it well and microwaved it for about 7 min initially. The idea is to get rid of the moisture in it, if not we will have a soggy mess on our hands. Since the quantity was nearly 3 cups to begin with, it took me an additional 7 min in intervals to achieve the granular structure of cheese. Now remember , you don’t want it turn brown at all. So keep an eye on it and cook it in stages. Soon you will have very soft and granular cheese. Objective achieved!
  • Boil or pressure cook the potato.
  • Mash them all together with the spices and make 16-18 round big lemon sized balls/globes out of these. 

For the Dough:

  • Knead the flour to get a nice soft pliable dough. Oil the surface of the dough and rest it for atleast an hour.
  • Make about 16-18 sized big globes out of these and keep them covered.
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas - Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas – Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!

 

Making the stuffed Parathas:

  • Roll out the dough globe ( by dipping it into the flour if required . Usually dusting the surface of the workspace does the trick ) to a about 5 inches in size or so.
  • Place the smaller globe of stuffing mix in it and cover it . The idea is to tent it beautifully and seams need to be overlapping .
  • Roll it out gently to get a nice big sized disc of about 10-12 inches of size.
  • Heat a flat griddle, and shallow fry it with a tsp of oil on both sides.
  • Serve the sizzling hot brown flat bread stuffed with yummy goodness of cheese, potatoes and spices with a dollop of butter, a side of yoghurt and some delish mixed veg pickle.
  • Pack on the yummy power!
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas - Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!
Ricotta Cheese stuffed Parathas – Whole wheat flatbreads stuffed with cheese , potatoes and spices!

Collard Greens,Peppers and Cottage Cheese Stir Fry ( collard collage)

And I am back with a Bang ! Sigh! After watching one of those fantastically IQ challenged movies churned out by the Bollywood  ( Chennai Express anyone??) I felt the need to seriously fuel or rather revive my brain cells. In fact dissection of the movie and its contents created a bad hangover the following day ( Btw, is there  such a thing as a good hangover?). Good or bad, I really did need to get rid of it!

I channeled Popeye the sailor man! Extoling the virtues of spinach to  any and all including unleashing the lecture to a resisting, unsuspecting family member, yours truly decided  to rescue a particularly sad looking bunch of collard leaves from the refrigerator. A trip to the farmers market had yielded this bounty! And looking at that bunch, the one belonging to the Acephala family  (“without a head” in Greek) ) the irony struck me particularly funny . Watching the movie Chennai Express could particularly create the effect of transgressing several species at the genetic level! No offense to the Acephala group!

This particular recipe, is heavily inspired by a friend’s creation. ( Dearest Vidya, thanks  for inspiring an awesome organic chemical experiment .Maybe you will now give in to writing a piece for me 🙂 )

The wonderful organic experiment !

 Ingredients:

  1. A bunch of collard greens – ( mine were not particularly in the freshest of their spirits.  A week’s time in the refrigerator I suppose dampened their green spirits, albeit only mildly! )
  2. Red onion – I had a particularly large one at hand. And since I was feeling slightly edgy ( Readers to kindly note the root cause of the aforementioned edginess from the first paragraph ) decided to use the entire one. Yep, one large red onion!
  3. Red bell pepper – 1 large one. I had a big fresh one at hand and I try and incorporate it as much as I can in my cooking.
  4. Green bell pepper – 2 medium sized ones. I had these two at hand. I suppose if I had an extra one, I would have added it as well.
  5. Yellow bell pepper -1 large one. Figured more the merrier 🙂
  6. Roma tomatoes – 2 large ones. Ripe and firm. Not squishy at all !
  7. Pressed, cottage cheese : About 8 oz

Iron chef skill aka knife wielding skills !

  • Chop everything finely length wise ( Yes,even the Collard greens . And no, it did not take much time. About 10-15 min to chop a fairly large bunch) . Chop it to about an inch to inch and a half in length. Slivers any one?
  • The panner aka Indian cottage cheese need to be cut as much aligned to the shape of all the greens. 1.5 inches lengthwise.

 The Indian touch! – Dry Spices, Masalas 

  1. Jeera or Cumin seeds : ¼ tsp
  2. Turmeric powder : ½ tsp
  3. Fresh ground Dhania ( dry coriander seeds ) powder : ¼ tsp
  4. Paprika or Chiili powder : ½ tsp for the heat ( use it sparingly if you need to lower the heat level)
  5. Garam masala or Sabji masala : ½ tsp
  6. The necessary evil : fat of your choice : 2 tsp ( I used Olive oil,  the EVOO kind.)
  7. Salt : to taste . About ½ tsp

Fresh seasonings ( if you have it at hand)

  1. Freshly grated ginger : ¼ tsp
  2. Freshly grated garlic : ¼ tsp
  3. Fresh sprigs of coriander leaves, finely chopped . About a handful.

Sizzling in the wok :

  • Add in the olive oil, 2 tsp and when it heats up add in the Jeera seeds and let it sputter.
  • Then add in the fresh grated ginger and garlic (if using them).
  • Add in the size-zero onions  and let is sauté well in the wok.
  • Then add in the turmeric powder aka haldi and add in the  peppers. ( I dumped the whole lot in them )
  • After about 5-8 min, when they are in the almost cooked stage but not mushy, add in the tomatos and let the mixture stew in for a few more min.
  • Add in the collards the very last. They do cook fast when slim-line cut and you really do not want limpy looking greens.
  • Add in the salt and the Garam masala.
  • Now if using cottage cheese, add in the pieces. I usually sauté / toast the chunky pieces on the stove stop on a pan  but this one time I did not mind adding it in directly.This particular cheese was fresh , firm but with enough sponginess in it to give the soft texture like silken smooth soft tofu. Oxymoronic description I suppose, but it saved me from sautéing them separately on the stove.
  • Add in the rest of the spices and garnish with freshly cut sprigs of coriander!

 

Verdict : delectable and completely licked clean off the bowls by the kids..

Served with : Fresh rotis ( flat indian bread )

FIne print :

  • You can add in any combination of vegetables for this one. Potatoes and carrots are awesome additions.
  • You can definitely experiment with the heat level by incorporating more peppers of the spicier kind. Jalapeños anyone?
  • Fresh Indian cottage cheese aka Paneer is commercially store bought by me. I used the low fat variety.
  • Going Vegan? Use tofu instead of Cheese.
  • Try adding in sliced slivers of peeled almonds . I am sure it would be wonderful.

Twist in the take .. Bring it on!

Use it as a pizza topping, fillers in  grilled sandwiches.. Brain cells revived yay!

Cooking time : About 20-25 min

Serves : 4-6