Archive for July, 2012

A wholesome weekend Brunch- Veg Fajitas with Guacamole

The lad is a foodie- much to my happiness! He tastes the food and gives an instant ‘thumbs up’ to well made dishes. Some of my trials are met with an honest ‘I didn’t like this much’ feedback along with a suggestion to ‘repair’ the dish. On some Friday nights ‘Would you like to have Pizza for dinner?’ is answered by ‘Do we have fresh Basil and Mozzarella?’ On one occasion when I asked him what he would like to have for dinner (please note: this question gets asked only on weekends) , he picked up one of my cookbooks (the one mentioned below) and wrote down, on a piece of paper -A starter ,soup, a main course and a dessert he wanted me to make for his dinner!

Most of the days it’s a pleasure to feed this child who happily eats his veggies and fruits without any fuss. On the flip side, he needs a lot of variety. He is the ‘forever hungry monster’ specially when I am home. The veggies get grilled, marinated, wrapped, sandwiched or they get topped on whole wheat ‘pizza’ to make them more interesting than the regular Roti-Sabji.

The Veg Fajita (recipe below) is adapted from a book called ‘330 vegetarian recipes for health’. This book which I picked up from the local Crossword store has been one of my ‘super finds’. All the recipes are vegetarian (no-meat, no-fish). The first section in the book includes a whole food guide for fruits and vegetables to grains and from dairy foods to herbs and spices. This vegetarian ‘mini encyclopedia’ includes essential facts about key health benefits as well as information on buying, storing and preparing whole food. The photographs are absolutely drool-worthy. The book showcases hundreds of step by step recipes from around the world. Most of the recipes are not only healthy but are also easy to follow.The book occupies is always kept handy on my book shelf since more than often I find myself referring to it for ideas to keep the foodie lad satiated. The Light meals and side dishes section in the book are our favourites. I would recommend this fascinating book to anyone interested in  finding out more about whole food.

For these colorful  Veg Fajitas, Mushrooms and coloured Peppers (capsicums) are marinated in a little chilli powder/olive oil ,lightly sautéed and wrapped in flour Tortillas. Fresh Mushrooms and coloured capsicums are usually found in our crisper since they are a hit whichever way they get served. I used our regular whole wheat  Rotis (Phulkas) to substitute the Tortillas.

Guacamole is a family favourite. We love Guacamole. Whenever I have access to good quality Avocados, the creamy dip gets slathered on breads or Rotis or is paired up with corn chips, khakras, Tacos anything that can be dipped or wrapped!. One of the very few veggie vendors who stocks ‘exotic’ fruits here in Nashik sometimes sells Avocados. Finding good quality Avocados is a challenge since they travel here all the way from Goa (that’s what the vendor tells me). I was happy to find some lush green Avocados on my trip to Nature’s basket, Bangalore.

A freshly made Guacamole served with the medley of colorful vegetables wrapped in a whole wheat Tortilla made for a wholesome weekend brunch. The foodie lad was ecstatic and lost count of the number of ‘Tortillas’ that vanished into his little tummy 🙂

Here’s the Recipe for the Veg Fajitas

Ingredients:

1 onion sliced

1 Red Pepper

1 Yellow Pepper

1 Green Pepper ( I skipped this )

1 garlic clove crushed

1 packet Button mushrooms (about  15-16 mushrooms)

6 tbsp vegetable oil ( I used the herb infused Olive oil  )

2-3 tsp Red chilli powder (the original recipe asks for 2 tbsp but I reduced the quantity since our Red chilli powder is quite hot, adjut this to taste)

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper for garnishing

To serve:

~ 6 small Flour Tortillas/ Rotis warmed.

Sprigs of fresh coriander

Wedges of 1 lime.

Method:

Slice the onion.

Cut the Peppers into strips.

Mix the onion slices and peppers in a bowl.

Add the crushed garlic.

Wash and dry the Mushrooms on a kitchen towel.

Remove the stems from the Mushrooms (Use them to make stock)

Slice the Mushrooms and add to the pepper mixture.

Mix the oil and Red chilli powder in a small cup and mix.

Add this to the veggie mixture and Keep aside for  20 minutes (or  till you  make the Guacamole recipe below)

Heat a pan or wok till hot.

Add the marinated vegetables and stir fry over high heat for 5-6 minutes, till the veggies are just tender.

Season with salt and crushed black pepper.

Spoon the filling on to each Tortilla and roll up.

Garnish with fresh chopped coriander.

Serve with Fresh Guacamole and  lime wedges.

I did not follow the recipe for Guacamole from the book.This is how I make it:

Recipe for Guacamole

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Avocado

1 small Onion finely chopped

1 small Tomato seeds removed and chopped

1 Green chilli chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Crushed black pepper to taste

Fresh coriander leaves chopped

Salt to taste

Method:

Cut the Avocado in half.

Remove the pit, scoop out the pulp from the peel and put in mixing bowl.

Mash the Avocado with a fork. I like to keep a few small pieces.

Add the onion, tomato, green chilli, lime juice, coriander leaves, salt and crushed black pepper.

Mix nicely and serve immediately with corn chips, Tacos, Khakras or Veg Fajitas.

Note: This is not one of the make ahead kind of dip since the Avocado oxidises very fast. If you haveto keep it for some time before serving cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate.

July 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm 7 comments

A Road trip, A Focaccia and A Soup

WARNING: This is one of the longest posts I have ever posted! Grab a cup of Tea and enjoy 🙂

The weather Gods are still unsure -whether to rain or not to rain? Meanwhile we ventured out on a Road trip to Bangalore ; more than almost a 2000km car drive to and from Nashik. We were a bit apprehensive about the road trip considering the ‘can’t sit in one place for a minute’ little one but decided to go anyway. Finger foods, drawing/coloring sets, car games, CDs later we were finally on the way to Bangalore. The back-seat of the car was turned into a mini bed for both the kids to play/eat/ sleep and enjoy.

We preferred the Nashik –Mumbai highway and then the Mumbai-Pune expressway  to the single lane and ‘boring’ Nasik-Pune highway upto Pune. It was a scenic drive especially through the clouds in Lonavala just before Pune, and then the lovely windmills near Belgaum on the Bangalore highway. The road is fabulous except for the last 50-60 km as you near Bangalore. We halted at Belgaum for the night at ‘ Hotel Adarsh Palace’ . The hotel was good, clean and serves one of the best breakfast I have had on a road trip. The little one was impressed with their mini-button idlis.

Except the 1-2 Kamat Upchar outlets and 1-2 coffe day outlets we didn’t see many Food stops post Belgaum. We had south Indian thali at the The Kamat Upchar on the Tumkur-Bangalore  highway(~60 Km from Bangalore). Not the best of meals but enough to feed weary travelers.

We were in Bangalore exactly for 1 and ½ days. I have been to Bangalore a couple of times earlier but haven’t seen the city and its surroundings in bits and pieces on each trip. We could successfully squeeze in half a day trip to Bannerghatta Zoo and the Lalbaugh gardens. The lad was thrilled to see the animals at the zoo and also commented that the road trip was worth the effort  The foodie that he is, he enjoyed the spicy-sour sweet succulent slices of ‘ Gini mooti (Totapuri) aam’ sold just outside the zoo.

The lalbuagh nursery as beautiful as it is was disappointing since I went there in search of Herbs and they don’t grow them. (Should have checked beforehand)

I got a chance to visit a Nature’s basket outlet in Indiranagar, Bangalore and I happily carried a few fresh herbs like Thyme and Rosemary, Avocados , instant Polenta and such items all the way to Nasik. Fresh Thyme and Rosemary are yet to make an appearance in the market here in Nashik, though my kitchen garden will grow them in a month or two- Fingers crossed.

We stopped over at Kolhapur for the night on our way back and don’t have much to write about the hotel ‘Sony Palace’ just 2 minutes off the highway.The drive through Lonavala was even more scenic on the way back. Glad to report that the little one not only survived the car trip but is eager to go on another trip!

The herbs survived the ride back home and were  immediately used in as many dishes as I could. The Rosemary urged me to bake a lovely warm Rosemary and Olive Focaccia.Some of the thyme went into a Roasted tomato and Thyme soup.; a perfect dinner combination for these ‘Rainy weather days’.

I have adapted the recipe for the Rosemary and Olive Focaccia from  a book ‘Baking- simple cookery series’ from my collection of cookbooks.

I have used some part whole wheat flour instead of total AP flour as  recommened in the recipe with great results. The soup was made using whatever ingredients were available, Thyme being the star ingredient.

Here’s the recipe for the Rosemary Olive Focaccia

Makes 2 Loaves

Ingredients:

700 gms strong white flour (I used 450 gms Maida/AP flour, 250 gms whole wheat flour and 3 tbsp Vital gluten)

pinch of salt

pinch of caster sugar

7g/ 2tsp instant yeast (I used AB Mauri)

450 ml warm water (or as required to make a soft elastic dough, I needed about 470 ml)

2 tsp chopped fresh Rosemary

75 gms pitted black olives roughly chopped

3 tbsp Olive oil (I used herb infused Olive oil- see note below)

For the garnish:

3 tbsp Olive oil (I used herb infused Olive oil- see note below)

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Fresh Rosemary for garnishing

Method:

Sift the Flours, salt and the sugar.

Stir in the yeast and Rosemary.

Make a well in the centre

Carefully pour in the warm water and Olive oil/herb oil. I need about 10-20 ml more water so add the water gradually.

Mix to a soft dough.

Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 mins.(Yeast Therapy 🙂 ) until smooth and elastic.

Pat the olives dry on a kitchen paper, and then gently knead into the dough.

Put in a well oiled bowl, cover with a clingfilm and leave to rise for about 1½  hrs. or it has doubled in size(mine was overflowing from the bowl)

Turn out the dough and knead again for a minute or two.

Divide into half and roll out each piece into a 10 inch (25.5 cm) circle.

Transfer to oiled baking sheets and cover with oiled clingfilm/ foil and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

Using the finger tips make deep dimples all over the dough.

Drizzle with the oil (I used herbed oil)and sprinkle with the sea salt.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden. My old oven took almost 10-12 minutes more.

Cool on a wire rack and garnish with sprigs of Rosemary.

Grind over or sprinkle black pepper just before serving.

Recipe for the Roasted Tomato and Thyme soup

Ingredients:

7-8 tomatoes halved lengthwise

1 onion sliced

2-3 garlic pods

4-5 small sprigs of fresh Thyme

2 tbsp herb infused olive oil oil (or just olive oil) and a few drops more for garnishing.

1 carrot peeled and cubed

Coarse sea salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

½ tsp of brown sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet, cut side up along with the onions, garlic pods and Thyme twigs.

Drizzle the herb infused olive oil (or just olive oil)

Sprinkle some coarse sea salt and pepper  over the tomatoes.

Roast  the tomatoes for about 30 mins.

Meanwhile Place water in a pan and boil the carrot cubes along with a sprig of Thyme till just soft ( 10 mins.)

Drain and cool the carrot cubes but do not discard the water.

Cool the Roasted tomatoes, onions and Garlic.

Carefully remove the Thyme sprigs.

Remove the skin from the tomatoes (or alternatively sieve the pulp later)

Blend the roasted Tomatoes, sliced onion, garlic along with the cooked carrot.

Transfer the pulp to a large pot.

Adjust to a soupy consistency using the carrot stock (or vegetable stock)

Add the brown sugar and adjust the seasoning.

Bring to a boil and turn off the heat.

Serve hot garnished with the herb and chilli infused olive oil along with  a warm bread.

(You may alternatively garnish with Cheese of your choice)

I served the Soup with the Rosemary & Olive Focaccia.

Note : Herb Infused Olive Oil

Warm about 1 cup Olive Oil (not necessarily Extra virgin). Add chopped fresh herbs like Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Parsley.

Add 2-3  peeled garlic cloves.

Add ½ – 1 tsp of Chilli flakes.

Keep aside for 1 a day.

Strain out the  herbs and garlic ( I like to keep the chilli flakes)

Store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. ( Mine usually gets over in a week)

I use it on breads, pizzas, soups, dips or for salad dressings.

July 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm 11 comments


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