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Simple bulgur pilaf with summer vegetables

We’ve been trying to move towards more nutritious grain. Bulgur is pretty great – back in India we ate ‘dalia’ as breakfast cereal quite a lot on weekends, both sweet as well as savory. It packs in quite a bit of protein and fiber.

For dinner this week, we brought in a lot of summer vegetables and decided to make a pilaf with them and bulgur. This one’s is quite simple:

  1. Prepare bulgur: add 2.5x water to 1x bulgur. Add 1 level teaspoon salt to each cup of bulgur. Mix it up and cook on high. This should take about 40 minutes or so. Stir occasionally, especially from the bottom so it does not burn. You will know it’s ready both by tasting (Should be softened enough to be al dente – err on the side of soft) and also – the grain would have become mostly translucent.
  2. While bulgur is cooking, prepare the vegetables: saute (separately) chopped zucchinis, carrots, green beans and red bell peppers
  3. Make sweet onions: chop a medium onion into strips and saute it on high. When it is almost done, add water and 1 teaspoon brown sugar and mix it up. Heat on high till the water evaporates, set aside.

  4. When vegetables and the bulgur are ready, mix them up.
  5. Final touches: the current vegetables and bulgur as they stand, would be quite tasty – just add some black pepper and you are good to go. However, I personally am a big fan of having a sour overtone on such a pilaf: it is summer after all. You could chop up some fresh tomatoes, drizzle some olive oil and mix those up. What I did today was to simply add some pomegranate syrup on top. You can buy this from an Indian, Turkish or Middle Eastern grocery store. I was lucky enough to have a bottle of the good home made stuff from a friend!

    Summer vegetable bulgur pilaf. (Grimbergen blonde in the background!)

    Summer vegetable bulgur pilaf. (Grimbergen blonde in the background!)

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Summer, Vegetarian

 

Chick pea – roasted eggplant stew


I was introduced to this dish by my mother in law at Thanksgiving last year. My father in law is a vegetarian and so this was his protein dish. Right after my first bite, I had to restrain myself from digging in for more: after all, Dad could not eat the turkey (Which also was pretty amazing, but this was quite something else!).

Mom explained she got this one from the NY Times. I usually like to tinker from recipes a lot, but this one I followed pretty closely. The few changes I did make:

  1. I added thyme when cooking the tomato sauce. I would have added a bit of mint too, but our plant’s not doing too good right now. I feel both these herbs bring a freshness to the whole dish.
  2. I also added oregano while cooking the tomato sauce: I felt the oregano in the sauce would complement the oregano on top.
  3. Before roasting them, I cover the chopped eggplant pieces in water or milk for an hour or two. They’ll float up, so I weigh them down with a plate. This really helps remove the bitterness from the eggplant.
  4. Feel free to add more than a teaspoon of honey. For my tomato sauce, I used heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market and tomatoes from our own garden: both are already very sweet. The honey we have right now is local wildflower honey – not mild at all. You see where I am going with this: don’t be shy with the honey! I added a tablespoon and a half.
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Posted by on August 4, 2013 in Summer, Vegetarian

 

Avocado Cookies

I don’t usually invent new dishes. I prefer to stick to recipes that have been tested by mothers and grandmothers for generations, or, failing that, one good blogger. But that was before Joy the Baker introduced me to the idea that one could use avocado instead of butter when baking. I tried her chocolate cake recipe and it was true…if you smashed up the avocado enough, you wouldn’t even know it was there. Would this hold true outside of cake?

I remembered a delicious shortbread cookie recipe from 101 Cookbooks. These sweet little biscuits helped sustain us on our drive cross country last summer, and I had been meaning to make them again. So, I tried switching out the butter for an equivalent amount of avocado.

I wanted a nice tasty cookie. I chose citrus flavors instead of apple and carrot, since I thought they would blend better with any avocado taste. And, I wanted the cookies to be green, for shock value.

The cookies were at least a partial success. They were green, citrusy, and tasty. They were not, however, shortbread. Avocado doesn’t act like butter in the fridge or in the oven, so you can’t chill it and then expect it to produce a crispy cookie. Butter also melts in the oven, which typically alters the shape of the cookies and gives you a nice round shape with smooth edges. Avocado cookies might rise or puff up slightly thanks to chemical leavening agents like baking soda, but otherwise, the shape it goes in is the shape it comes out. I didn’t realize this, so my cookies came as lumpy misshapen masses, but those of you with cake decorating funnels and tips can use them to make pretty shapes. Or just eat misshapen cookies – they will taste just as good! :)

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Dry Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups/6oz flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Other Ingredients:

  • 5 oz avocado (about 1 biggish, ripe avocado)
  • 2/3 cup/3.5 oz sugar
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • About 1 tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

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Mash the avocado with the sugar as much as you can. Ideally, there would be no chunks of avocado. Avocado chunks won’t change how the cookies bake, but it might not be pleasant to bite into a cookie and get a lump of avocado.

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Zest the lemon and the orange into the flour and mix until evenly dispersed. Add the mashed avocado and stir until the dough comes together. Squeeze in the orange juice and stir until you have a nice, even looking dough.

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Drop the cookies onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet with two spoons. Alternatively, use cake decorating equipment to create well-shaped cookies. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are slightly brown and the cookies are firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

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We ended up with about 2 dozen cookies, but this could change depending on the size of your avocado and how big you make your cookies.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Roasting cauliflower

Cauliflowers are beautiful here in Northern California. I’ve seen gorgeous heads appear week after week at our local farmers markets. We usually make the usual aloo-gobhi, or some sort of curry, but these days I am really into roasting vegetables.

Wash a medium cauliflower head, discard the stems and dry it with a paper towel. Chop up the florets – put them in a big bowl that you could cover. Sprinkle (generously!) with smoked paprika, sea salt, black pepper, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Mix them all up with a good old fashioned shake. Don’t shake too hard – you don’t want the florets to crumble.

Lay them out on some parchment paper on a tray and bake at 410F for about 40 minutes. Take them out, turn around and put it back for another 20 minutes or until softened, but not mushed.

Trust me – it will be delicious. You can eat them right away, or if you have a bit more self control, add some cheddar on top. I used them in my roasted vegetable tacos – it was really very good!

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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Summer, Vegetarian

 

Roasted Vegetable Tacos

Ever since we’ve moved to Northern California, we’ve been trying to be very good about cooking seasonally.

Even though it really is quite pleasant all year round here, I have been waiting for the summer. This is when the produce explosion hits. June just got here, and indeed, the farmer market is in full bloom. We brought home a bunch of chiaggio beets, cauliflower, potatoes, gorgeous heirloom tomatoes,kale, avocados, cilantro, zucchini, green beans and tons of berries.

We decided to roast up the loot and make some tacos with it. Here’s how they looked.

Here are some combinations that we thought worked really well:

  • Roasted Potatoes, sauteed zucchini, melted cheddar, topped with home made mint – cilantro chutney
  • Roasted cauliflower, sauteed green beans, melted cheddar, topped with the mint – cilantro chutney
  • Beets, sauteed green beans, melted goat cheese
  • Potatoes, roasted kale chips, chopped avocado

But hey – go crazy on your own! Vegetable prep coming up in a different post.Here is how to prepare roasted cauliflower.

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Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Summer, Vegetarian

 

Marmalade!

It has been a very long time since I wrote here. The reason is simple: it was a very hectic year. We moved to California and work’s been busy. So personally for me, cooking took a back seat and my patient wife took up the reins, um, spatula. This blog post in fact is dedicated to something she made.
 
Perhaps our favorite thing about California is the produce one gets. We live in the South Bay. It’s simple: you put stuff in the soil – and it grows! We got some fantastic vegetables and herbs in our own gardens. There are fantastic farmers markets out here – every single weekend. In other words – produce is just delicious! One of our friends has a beautiful orange tree in his backyard and generously shared many of their oranges with us. After using the oranges for this and that, the wife scratched her head and decided she would make marmalade.
 
Both she and I like to keep things simple: she found a simple recipe and the results were spectacular! She used this recipe. Here is a picture! It really was as tasty as it looks. In fact, I will go as far as saying that this was the best marmalade I have ever had!
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Happy thoughts, Jam!, Vegetarian

 

Cherry Clafouti

This has so far been the year of easy recipes.One of my favorite restaurants in CT serves a delicious, although heavy pear/almond clafouti. I looked it up and found a really simple recipe on Chow.com:  http://www.chow.com/recipes/29695-cherry-clafoutis-clafouti

It really was ready an hour after I read it – mmm!

I think the recipe here is a slight variation on Julia Child’s recipe. It’s egg-y – and we noted how it was essentially   a large, fluffy pancake with cherries in it. The traditional French rustic recipe, as Wikipedia notes, does use cherries without removing the pits – it does let the taste be a bit more intense.

Enjoy!

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Dessert, French

 

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