Category Archives: Spices and Herbs

Click- Bicolour

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Bi colour is the theme for the click event at Jugalbandi for this month. Thanks Jai and Bee for the oppurtunity to be one of the judges for this month.

Finding a bicolour entry has been a challenge. After a long time, I have started to cook regularly but bicolour foods weren’t easy to come by or didn’t photograph well. I made palappams, a cherry clafouti, paneer curry but nothing photographed well.

I finally settled on this paneer. This is some home made paneer with black pepper added to it.

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Whole milk paneer with crushed black pepper- White & Black entry for CLICK bicolour.

Handmade Basil Pesto for GBP Summer 07

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A recipe that mentions its source as grandmother or mother instantly attracts my attention. I have a sort of blind faith in such recipes. When Heidi of 101 cookbooks blogged this pesto recipe from her friend’s mother, it was instantly bookmarked.

Our basil herbs were fresh with new young sprouts after a recent harvest and it would be perfect with the grilled lamb chops that were making for dinner. And better yet, no food processor to clean.

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Original recipe here

Young basil leaves – 1 cup packed.

Garlic- 2 cloves

Pine nuts – 2 tbsp

Parmesan cheese freshly grated- 1/4 cup

Good quality extra virgin olive oil- 2 tbsp

For mincing, you will need a sharp mezzaluna, but I replaced it with a crinkle cutter.

There is only one step. Mince till you get a fine mince of the ingredients. Heidi recommends starting with the garlic and 1/3 rd basil. Keep adding the ingredients in parts till everything is minced. Start with garlic, then basil, followed by pine nuts and cheese.

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Once mincing is done, transfer the pesto into a bowl and add the olive oil.

At this point I kept it in the refrigerator. At dinner time, mixed it with some cold angel hair for a cold pasta side dish. It was delicious. Thanks Heidi for sharing this wonderful recipe. It was really relaxing mincing and mixing with hand and using the crinkle cutter.

As Heidi said, there is no salt and pepper in the pesto. So salt your pasta water generously.

This is my entry for Summer Green Blog Project being hosted by Deepz of Letz Cook.

GBP was originally born in the ever scheming head of dear Inji. Ever since many bloggers have discovered their green thumbs and have grown wonderful things. Join the fun!

T is for Thyme

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For this years herb garden, we have thyme, basil and parsley. We also have shallots, chives , rosemary and curry leaf from the previous years.

Thyme doesn’t need a lot of water. This is ideal for gardeners like us who don’t like to water too much.

The flowers of thyme are white and as tiny and delicate as the leaves. This flower is my entry for Flower Fest and the current alphabet is T.

Image of thyme flower at the Bookmann. 


Thyme leaves are very fragrant and goes well with veggies, rice, seafood and meat. I remember a Cajun dish with shrimp and thyme from a long time ago. That memory was the inspiration for this dish.

Shrimp with chili-thyme marinade

Recipe:

Garlic- 2 cloves

Thyme sprigs- 3 sprigs ( As the sprigs were tender, I used them whole. )

Crushed red pepper- 1 tsp

Olive oil- enough to make a paste approx. 1 tbsp

Salt to taste.

Shrimp- 1o or 12 cleaned.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind garlic, thyme sprigs, crushed red pepper. After coarsely grinding the above, add olive oil and make into a paste.

Add the paste to the cleaned shrimp and marinate for about half an hour.

Grill or saute the shrimp.

Shrimp served over wild rice

Note: I cooked the shrimp stove top on a cast iron pizza stone. Since the marinade already had oil, there was no need to add any oil to the stone.

The shrimp was very flavorful. I served it with some wild rice. The shrimp would be great as an appetiser.

Happy Birthday, Meeta.

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When summer comes, the roses in our garden steal the show. We have a climbing rose that blooms with a vengeance. Even better, once the summer blooms are gone, they bloom again around fall. What better flower to celebrate Meeta’s birthday. Her dishes are glamorous, her pictures captivating and sleek, and her writing is lots of fun. She has invited us over to celebrate, and I had to make something elegant! Got to keep up, right?

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Original recipe: Here

I made this dish when I was really hungry, and so measurements are approximate.

Make the pasta according to package instructions. I only made enough for one serving.

While the pasta is cooking, you can assemble ingredients for the pasta. I took about 15 basil leaves, a tbsp of pine nuts, a garlic clove, generous splash of rose water and streamed in olive oil into the food processor to make a pesto. Then I added parmesan cheese (grated), salt and pepper to complete the pesto.

Once the pasta is cooked, mix it with the pesto and decorate the dish using rose petals. You can leave the petals as it is. I made confetti like pattern by just slicing the petals into thin strips.

I was very very skeptical about the dish, but I ate every bite of it and enjoyed it. The aroma of the rose water is not overpowering. I think the aroma of the basil leaves blends well with the rose water. A simple dish made elegant with the sprinkling of rose flower confetti!!

Meeta, I hope you enjoy the dish and wish you a very happy Birthday!!

C is for chive

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Chive flower – my entry for Flower Fest, hosted by the very talented Sree

Chives are abundant in our garden during spring and summer. They have small purple heads and have a lot of oniony flavor. If using in salads, I seperate the flower into small pieces and scatter them. Little bursts of onion flavor. Some say chives and roses grow well together and I think this is true. The chives under the roses flourish much more than the ones that are standing alone.

This is a recipe I want to try next time with these flowers. And this one.

Tale of two pestos

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Parsley leaves and flower
Althouth we make pasta quite often, we have never made pesto before. Pasta and pesto sound so close, no wonder they are made for each other. I had some parsley growing crazy in my garden and some of them had started to flower which meant that if I dont act quickly, they would all be gone and not edible anymore. So we had to act fast. Meanwhile Satish had been craving for pasta for some time. And finally it seemed to be the best possible time for some ‘pasta with pesto’.

I just read the rules of herb blogging and it requires you to write somehting about the herb. Makes sense, but I hardly know anything about parsley except that it is used in Italian and Meditteranean cooking, and also have two forms- the curly one and the flat leaf one. The ones I grew were flat leaf . They hardly require any special growing conditions. I never watered them regularly, they just grew on rain water. I definitely had to search for more info on this herb and this is what I found.

Parsley is the world’s most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” (parsley is a relative to celery). It is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established.Parsley is among a small number of foods that contain any measurable amount of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating parsley.(Info from here.)

One of the blog posts in The Traveler’s Lunchbox some time ago had been on pestos, and it had somehow stuck to my brain. So I found the recipe, but unfortunately it did not have a recipe for parsely pesto but it did have one for a sundried tomato pesto (Pesto Rosso). It looked so fab that we had to try that out. Now as for the parsley, this recipe came to my aid.

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Parsley Pesto Ingredients( I did not measure any ingredients, just combined them all and tasted it to balance all the ingredients.)Parsley, pine nuts, parmesan grated, salt, garlic and extravirgin olive oil.
Now we all know linguini is cooked as it is, I mean in its all entire form (not broken).But recently we had eaten at an Indo Chinese restaurant in NY City and I had loved the hakka noodles which looked like linguini broken into small pieces. So that is what I did with the linguini…broke it into 3 parts.

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Linguini with two pestos– sundried tomato pesto and parsley pesto.

Made a batch of each pesto and mixed it with pasta. We were very satisfied with both pestos. The remaining pesto was used as a sandwich filler. We still had leftover pesto which we had with some bread and cheese.

 

 

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This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging held by our own Bachelor Boy.

Tagged , .

Lamb chops with mint yogurt sauce- recipe

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Creating a beautiful plate of food is immensely satisfying for the eyes and mind. On a weekend day, we decided to take our dining at home to a fancier level and that is how this dish was born.

Lamb chops are always elegant and is one of the easiest meats to cook. The strong flavor of the lamb can stand up to strong flavorings. This recipe for lamb chops is from the cookbook: Gourmet Meals in Minutes. The beautiful picture of the lamb chops on its cover is what made me buy the book.

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Recipe

Mint yogurt ( recipe from Starchefs, Chef Thomas John at Mantra, Boston)

1 cup fresh mint leaves, well rinsed and tightly packed

1 cup cilantro leaves, as above

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup onion, chopped

salt, to taste

1/4 cup raw mango, pitted and sliced

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Blend all ingredients in a blender. I used only half of the above measurements for two people.

Lamb chops( Broiled)

8 lamb chops

3 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon each of Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, veg.oil and chopped rosemary.
Freshly ground black pepper half tsp or more to taste

Thyme 2 tsp.chopped ( I used a tsp. of dried thyme) – optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Combine soysauce, mustard, Wostershire sauce, veg. oil, pepper, rosemary, thyme into a ziplock bag. Add the lamb. After squeezing the air out, seal the bag and turn to coat the lamb with the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 min.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the chops from the marinade. Brush off excess marinade off the bones or else it burns under the broiler. Season the chops with salt and pepper.

Broil the chops 5 inches from the heat until done. 4 min on each side for medium , and about 6-7 min for well done. Remove and cool for a few min and then plate. If desired, you can pan fry the chops before putting under the broiler.

To plate

Create a base using the mint yogurt. Place 2 lamb chops in an intercrossing pattern or side by side as seen in the picture.

Use a tuna can with top and bottom removed. Fill the rice into this to plate rice in a circular shape. If you have another side dish, place it on the side of the lamb chops.