Friday, November 26, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Southern Cornbread

An elegant French classic dish, Chicken Cordon Bleu is made by rolling chicken with ham and Swiss cheese. This one strays from more traditional renditions by baking the chicken breasts after stuffing rather than pan frying. As a result the chicken spirals don't get the rich golden color but they taste delicious and are a healthier take on the traditional classic. Mashed potato and green beans make for excellent sides. Here I served it with fresh greens and tomato and a southern classic - cornbread. Slightly sweet with lots of flavor from garlic and jalapenos cornbread can be served anytime of the day.        

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
4 slices of cooked ham
4 thin slices of Swiss cheese 
1 tbsp mayonnaise plus 1 tsp warm water
1/3 cup panko
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
salt to taste

  1. Place the chicken breast on a chopping board and, with your hand flat on top, using a sharp knife, slice into one side of the breast. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the other side.
  2. Open out the breast so that it resembles a butterfly.
  3. Place it between two sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap and flatten with a mallet or a rolling pin to about a quarter inch thickness.
  4. Season chicken with salt and sprinkle with some parsley.
  5. Place a slice of ham on the chicken followed by a slice of cheese.
  6. You cal roll the chicken breast or just fold it over.
  7. Brush over the entire surface of chicken with the mayo-water mixture.
  8. Combine the breadcrumbs with thyme. Now carefully dredge the chicken rolls in breadcrumbs.
  9. Place them on a greased baking sheet seam side down and bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is done. Let it rest covered for 5 minutes.
  10. Alternatively pan fry on medium heat till chicken is cooked through and is rich golden brown on the outside.
  11. Slice into inch thick slices and serve hot.

Southern cornbread
Ingredients: (Makes about 8 servings)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
11/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
11/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or butter)
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2-3 jalapeno peppers minced
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Combine buttermilk and oil and stir in garlic, green onions and peppers.
  3. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Do not over mix.
  4. Spoon batter into a greased square pan and bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes or until done.
  5. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into squares.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ricotta Baked Tomatoes with Roast Potatoes and Lemon Basil Salmon.

Ricotta Baked Tomatoes

When I see so many varieties and types of tomatoes in the grocery store it inspires me to use them as the star ingredient in a recipe and not just as a flavouring or coloring agent as we do in most Indian curried dishes. Small cherry tomatoes in bursts of color (red and yellow) are great whole in pastas and in salads. The ripe tomatoes on the vine are just incredible and as I cut them in half the aroma and juiciness and texture arrests my hand from further mutilating them. So here goes yet another stuffed tomato recipe. The soft creaminess of ricotta and crispness of italian breadcrumbs combine to give this a unique texture.You get more than just great flavour and juiciness when tomatoes are at their peak of ripeness, you get a huge helping of vitamins A and C.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 medium tomatoes on the vine
salt to taste
4 tbsp of ricotta cheese
cracked black pepper
2 tbsp italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
olive oil to brush
  1. Cut tomatoes in half. Gently squeeze out the tomato pulp without damaging the shell.
  2. Season the tomato shell with salt and pepper.
  3. In a bowl combine ricotta cheese and some of the tomato pulp along with salt and pepper. Remember the tomatoes are already seasoned. Fill up the tomato shells with this mixture.
  4. In another bowl combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley and pepper, sprinkle evenly over the stuffed tomatoes.
  5. Brush the tomatoes carefully with some olive oil and place them on a baking sheet coated with ooking spray.
  6. Grill on high for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot.

Lemon Basil Salmon

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 salmon fillets
1/2 lemon juice and rind
1 tbsp olive oil
1tsp dry basil
cracked black pepper
salt to taste
  1. Combine all the ingredients and marinate the fish for 10-15 minutes max.
  2. Grill on high for 5-6 minutes each side.
  3. Serve hot with lime wedges.

Roast Potatoes

Ingredients:(serves 4)
16 Small white potatoes
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dry basil
  1. Cut the potatoes into half. Put them in a microwave safe dish with 1/8 cup water. Microwave on high for about 6-8  minutes. Potatoes should be only three quarters  cooked.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and marinate the partially  boiled potatoes in it for five minutes.
  3. Lay them in a single layer on a greased baking sheet and roast for 10-15  minutes till fully cookes and slightly browned on the top.
  4. Serve hot with lime wedges.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beetroot salad, garlic-herb chicken and spaghetti with tomato sauce

Beetroot Salad
Beetroot contains no fat, has very few calories and is a great source of fiber. In accompaniment with carrots it has an enhanced vitamin-A content. All these bright colors make this dish rich in anti-oxidants. This can make an excellent snack of under 100 calories (when made without olive oil).
Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 medium Beetroots washed
2 carrots
Iceberg Lettuce
Handful fresh Mint
Lime juice
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)
  1. Cook beetroots in the microwave till they are slightly cooked but still have their crunch. Peel and julienne.
  2. Peel carrots and julienne as well. Mix with beetroot sticks.
  3. Add salt, pepper and lime juice and mix well. Can add a drizzle of olive oil but it taste just as good without.
  4. Serve over bed of lettuce.                                                    
Garlic Herb Chicken
Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 Chicken drumsticks
1 tbsp Olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
Sprig of fresh Chives
Lime juice and rind of 1 lime
  1. In a small bowl mix together all ingredients for the marinade.
  2. Wash the drumsticks and remove the skin. Give a few diagonal slits.
  3. Smear the marinade all over the drumsticks and let it marinate for at least 4-5 hours.
  4. Grill chicken turning once till it browns evenly and is cooked thru reaching an internal temperature of 74C. For safe internal cooking temperature please refer to Canadian food inspection agency's guidelines at :-
Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
An extremely versatile tomato sauce this can be made ahead of time. This can be frozen in batches for later use as the recipe makes about 10  cups of sauce.
For making  meat sauce add 2 lbs of ground lamb or chicken or turkey along with the onions and cook till done. Will make about 12 cups of meat sauce.
This can be served over spaghetti, and can also be used on other varieties of pasta such as penne rigate or fusilli or macaroni.
Ingredients for Tomato Sauce: (Makes about 10 cups)

12 Tomatoes chopped
2 tbsp Olive oil
4 Red Onions chopped
5 Cloves of Garlic chopped
4 Bay leaves
5 cups chopped vegetables (celery, carrots, red & green pepper, mushrooms, Zucchini, etc.)
1 can Tomato Paste
1- 9 oz can Tomato Puree
2 tsp Sugar and Salt to taste
1/4 cup each Fresh Basil and Oregano(1 tbsp each if using dry)    

  1. In a large pan heat olive oil and add onion, garlic and bay leaves. Cook till onions soften.
  2. Add all the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes till the veges soften a bit.
  3. Now add tomatoes, tomato paste and puree, sugar and herbs. At this point can add a tsp or two of hot chili sauce. Stir and bring to boil.
  4. Boil for 2-3 minutes on high, then simmer for 45 minutes. 
  5. Serve over boiled spaghetti topped with shavings of Parmesan cheese. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tomato sauce

This fresh tangy basic tomato sauce recipe can be used in many dishes. Spread it on pizza, toss it with pasta, fish, chicken or veggies. This versatile basic sauce freezes well too. So when you have lots of fresh tomatoes you can make this and freeze in small amounts. I have also added two variations of this sauce. One is the meat sauce where you can add ground chicken or mutton and use it in lasagna, or in spaghetti bolognese. Substitute meat for a bunch of veggies and make the veggie tomato sauce.

For plain tomato sauce (makes 9 cups)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large red onions chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
12 large tomatoes chopped fine
1 can tomato puree
1 can tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 bay leaves
2 tsp each basil and oregano
1 tsp hot sauce
  1. To make tomato sauce heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onion and garlic and bay leaves. Saute for 2 minutes till onions soften a bit. 
  2. Add red chili flakes and the dry herbs. Saute for 20 seconds. 
  3. Add all other ingredients and bring to a rolling boil for about 3-5 minutes. 
  4. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes stirring every so often.

For meat sauce (makes 9 cups)
In addition to above ingredients
2 lbs ground chicken or lamb
  1. Add ground chicken/lamb after step 2. 
  2. Cook on high stirring often for about 2-4 minutes till chicken/lamb cooks a bit. 
  3. Continue with the basic sauce process from step 3.

For vegetable tomato sauce (makes 12 cups)
In addition to ingredients for basic tomato sauce
5-6 cups chopped vegetables(carrots, green peppers, celery, zucchini, mushrooms)

1. Add all the chopped veggies after step 2. 
2. Cook on high stirring often for about 2-4 minutes to sweat them a bit. 
3. Continue with the basic sauce process from step 3.

Dishes you can make using the tomato sauce

Eggplant Parmesan
Chicken, mushroom, spinach Lasagna

Three cheese Lasagna
Portobella mushroom Pizza
Italian meatballs
Stuffed shells

Spaghetti with meatballs
Feta Olive pizza

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Diwali Feast (Curried chickpeas, Dahibade)

    Diwali the festival of lights signifying victory of good over evil is a festival for Hindus celebrated in October-November. I have very joyous childhood memories of Diwali. We would decorate the house with earthern diyas and flowers and make rangoli. The house would be full of sweet and savoury treats.
    Today after the laxmi puja, we had a special dinner of our favourite dishes choley and dahi vade.

    Pindi Choley (Curried Chickpeas)
    Named after its city of origin "Rawalpindi" this dish is a big favourite in our house. Original recipe calls for a lot more oil and very little water. I have modified it a bit to suit our needs without compromising the taste. This curried dish is different from other Indian curries as in the absence of onion and tomato. The dark colour is due to the anardana (crushed pomegranate seeds) which also gives it a slight sour flavour.

    Ingredients: (serves 4)
    1 cup Chickpeas soaked overnight and drained
    3 cups water
    salt to taste
    11/2 tbsp corriander powder
    1 tbsp anardana(pomegranate seeds) powder
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1tsp garam masala
    1/4 tsp black pepper powder
    red chillie powder to taste
    1 tbsp oil
    2 cloves whole
    1 small cinnamon stick
    1 black cardamom whole
    • In a pressure cooker put soaked and drained chickpeas along with salt. Cook on high till the first whistle, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
    • While the chickpeas are boiling take the rest of the powered spices in a moderately hot pan and dry roast on medium high heat till the color changes to a darker brown and the spices impart a gentle roasted aroma.
    • Wait for 10 minutes before opening the pressure cooker. Now add the roasted spices to the boiled choley and mix well. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to let the flavours blend in.
    • In another pan heat oil and add the whole spices. Let sputter for 30 seconds and carefully add the spiced choley to it.
    • Cook on high while stirring constantly for about 5-7 minutes. If the dish looks too dry add some water. Remember that chickpeas are very high in fibre and absorb a lot of moisture. So if you serving the dish after some time make sure to adjust its consistency before serving by adding some boiling hot water.
    • Garnish with sliced red onions and slit green chillies.
    • Serve with Naan, poori or roti.

    Dahi Vada (Savoury dumplings in yogurt)
    Dahi vadas are savoury lentil dumplings served topped with spiced cool yogurt and tamarind chutney. It makes a great accompaniment to any formal dinner or can be served as a cold starter.

    Ingredients:(makes 30 small sized)
    1 cup urad washed
    30 raisins
    1 1/2 cup yogurt
    1/3 tsp rock salt (kala namak)
    salt to taste
    1 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
    red chili powder
    ground black pepper
    oil for deep frying
    1/4 cup tamarind chutney
    slit green chilies and ginger(optional)
    1. Soak dal for 12 hours.
    2. Grind to a smooth fluffy paste with minimum water.
    3. Beat the batter well (till it floats in a bowl of water).
    4. Take half tablespoon of batter in your palm and put a raisin in the middle. Cover with another half tablespoon batter.
    5. Deep fry the vadas in hot oil at medium high heat till golden brown. Cool.
    6. Immerse them in a bowl of hot salted water for about 10 minutes. Press out excess water carefully and keep aside.
    7. Beat yogurt in a bowl, add some water if its consistency is too thick. Add kala namak, salt, sugar, half the cumin and red chili powder and mix well.
    8. In the serving platter, pour 1/2 cup of yogurt at the bottom. Arrange soaked vadas on it in a single layer. Pour the remaining yogurt on top. Sprinkle with remaining cumin, red pepper, black pepper and serve with tamarind chutney and slivers if green chilies and ginger.

    In Kumaon (Hills of Uttar Pradesh, now called Uttarakhand ) culture malpua is a festivity dish. It is made on every festive and auspicious occasion such as Diwali, Holi, Weddings, Birthdays, Child's naming ceremony, etc. When I was a kid my brother and I really enjoyed these yum sweet treats and now my girls do the same. Apart from the delicious taste it keeps alive the festive tradition in our family and I hope to pass it on to my girls some day. Making singhals is a bit tricky and I have spoilt a large quantity of batter when I first tried making these some 12 years ago. You need to hold a lot of batter in your palm and drop it in a continuous spiral shape in the oil. But don't worry the tiny malpuas are just as tasty and are easy to make until you are able to make the spirals. They can also be made using a Ziploc bag. Fill a large Ziploc with batter and snip a large hole in a corner. Now carefully drop the batter in a spiral pattern into the hot oil.

    Batter Consistency

     Malpua(tiny balls)
    Ingredients: (about 40 malpuas)
    2 1/4 cup suji (semolina)
    1/3 cup ghee (clarified butter)
    1/2 cup yogurt
    1 cup milk
    1 cup sugar
    oil for deep frying
    1. Take suji in a large bowl and add ghee. Mix well with finger tips.
    2. Add yogurt and milk and mix to get a droppable consistency batter.
    3. Now add sugar and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave aside for an hour at room temperature.
    4. Heat oil in a deep pan at medium high heat for 7-10 minutes.
    5. After an hour the batter will change in consistency and become drier. Add about 1/4 cup of water to bring it back to a droppable consistency.
    6. Drop spoonful of batter into the oil and deep fry till golden brown. You might need to bring the heat down a bit every so often and then take it back up to prevent them from charring.
    7. Store in an air tight container at room temperature. Will keep for 4-5 days.