Friday, December 30, 2011

Cedar wrapped Salmon on Spaghettini

Tonight's Menu 
Cedar wrapped salmon
Steamed Veges
Wine Pairing:Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Provencal Rose
Cedar Wrapped Salmon

Salmon fillets always taste great even with the simplest marinade. This week I tried grilling the fillets wrapped with pre-soaked cedar grilling paper. This paper infuses a subtle cedar flavor into the food while keeping it moist and tender. I kept the marinade really simple and served it alongside steamed veges and simple pasta. These cedar grilling papers are available in the food stores. They need to be soaked for 10 minutes prior to wrapping the food. These papers come with a raffia twine which can be used to tie the bundles. If they don't come with the twine you can use kitchen twine or for a fancy bundle use green onion or leek greens.

Wrap salmon fillets and place on the grill

Cedar Wrapped Salmon

4 salmon fillets
4 cedar grilling papers
kitchen twine for wrapping
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic grated
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp lime zest
1 tsp dill
  1. Soak the cedar grilling paper for 10 minutes just to make it a little pliable. 
  2. Mix olive oil, lime juice and zest, garlic and dill in a small bowl. 
  3. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides and pour the above marinade over the fillets. Let them hang out for 10 minutes while the papers are soaking. 
  4. After 10- 15 minutes, place the fillet face down in the center of the cedar paper parallel to the wood grain and fold the edges. Tie up with the string. 
  5. Place seam side up on a preheated grill 400F and cook for 3-4 minutes per side till done. 
  6. Serve straight on the dinner plate alongside pasta and steamed veges and enjoy.

Spaghettini Pasta
Spaghettini is just like spaghetti, only thinner. Cook according to package directions and serve with any pasta sauce as you like. Click here for my pasta sauce recipe.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Feast

Christmas Feast 
Mustard - Maple glazed Ham
Green Beans and Artichoke Casserole
Duchess Potatoes
Caramelized Pearl onions 
Cranberry sauce
Wine Pairing: Champagne, Sparkling Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon

Mustard-maple glazed ham decorated with black and brown figs, dried apricots and red walnuts. 

Its that time of year again. Excitement and anticipation, fun and celebration, sweet and savory treats. Living in Toronto, you see so much activity around this time of year that you want to be a part of it and have some fun too. My girls get their share of excitement at school with potluck parties, secret Santa gift giving and caroling. But they never think its complete without some special Christmas dinner spread.
Its the traditional glazed ham for us this year with the tang of grainy mustard and the sweetness of Canadian maple flavors all blending together to make a showstopper center piece for the holiday table. Come and join us for this seasons festive dinner.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.  

Christmas Feast

Mustard Maple Ham

9-10 lb whole fully cooked bone in smoked Ham
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup grainy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp apricot jam
pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper
  1. Remove the skin of the ham and most of the fat leaving 1/4 inch thick layer all over. Score diagonally through fat but not meat to form a diamond pattern. 
  2. Place ham scored side up on the rack of the roasting pan. Roast at 325F for 11/2 hour. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 tablespoons, about 4-5 minutes. Add maple syrup, mustard, jam, and salt; season with pepper. Cook, whisking, until well combined, about 2 minutes. Set glaze aside. 
  4. After an hour and a half remove ham and brush liberally with 1/3 glaze. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. 
  5. Brush with half of the remaining glaze and bake for 15 minutes. Repeat and continue cooking for another 15 -20 minutes till internal temperature registers as 145-150. 
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 30 minutes before carving. 
  7. Serve on a large platter decorated with black and brown figs, dried apricots and red walnuts.
Green beans and artichoke casserole (Recipe courtesy Martha Stewart Living)
Green Beans and Artichoke casserole
1 lb green beans trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch length
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cloves garlic
2 cups milk
1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
6 slices of white bread crusts removed and chopped
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the green beans 40r 4-5 minutes till they are tender crisp. Drain and keep aside.
  2. In a pan melt 2 tbsp butter. Add garlic and flour and cook for a minute. Remember this is the b├ęchamel sauce, so do not let it brown. 
  3. Gradually whisk in milk and bring to boil. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes till it thickens. Stir in beans and artichoke hearts. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
  4. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Toss the bread pieces in remaining 2 tbsp melted butter. Scatter over the beans.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 F for 10-15 minutes till sauce is bubbly and bread is golden brown.                                  
Duchess potatoes

Duchess Potatoes
4 large potatoes boiled
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
salt to taste, pepper
cayenne pepper
  1. Mash potatoes and add everything except cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly. 
  2. Pipe mixture into swirls over a grease baking tray. Bake at 415F for 20 minutes till golden brown. Sprinkle cayenne pepper over them and serve hot.
Caramelized pearl onions
Pearl Onions

200 gms pearl onions
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp rosemary
salt to taste, pepper
  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a pan and saute onions on medium high. 
  2. Add the seasoning and rosemary and cook for 2-3 minutes till they acquire a golden brown color.

Cranberry sauce

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Fruitcake

Fruit and Nut Cake

The best part of Christmas is the wonderful goodies that get baked and cooked in the house filling every corner with their comforting aroma and a feeling of warm joy. Every family has its own tradition when it comes to baking and cooking for the holidays. Some recipes are handed down to the next generation while some new ones get created. One such favorite recipe is the Christmas cake.

Christmas cake is an English tradition and is made in a number of different ways, but mainly it is a variation of fruitcake. It can be light or dark, moist or dry, frosted, glazed or dusted with sugar. I love Christmas fruitcake with loads of fruit and nuts, very crumbly, literally falling apart when cut. I usually make it in advance 2-3 weeks prior to Christmas so that there is enough time to soak it in rum. I place the cake upside down in an airtight container and 'feed' the holes with rum every four days till Christmas.

Ingredients: Makes 14-16 servings
2 Cups flour
4 Eggs
1 Cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp powdered cloves
2 tsp cinnamon powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar for caramel
2 teabags
2 tbsp rum plus more for basting the cake
few drops of pure vanilla essence
2 cups fruit and nuts(raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, candied ginger, orange peel, lemon peel, walnuts, almonds, pecans)
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Boil 1/2 cup water and put teabags in it to make a bright orange tea concoction.
  3. Caramel 1/2 cup of sugar. When it caramelizes add tea concoction, honey and rum and keep aside to cool.
  4. Take 1/3 cup flour and mix all the fruits and nuts in it. Keep aside.
  5. Sift the rest of the flour and add baking powder, clove powder, cinnamon powder and salt.
  6. Lightly beat eggs in a bowl and keep aside.
  7. Cream butter and sugar together till they are light and fluffy. Alternately add flour mixture, tea mixture and egg to make a smooth batter.
  8. Add vanilla essence and fold in the fruits and nuts.
  9. Pour the batter in a prepared 8 inch pan or cake tin.
  10. Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes to an hour till done.Check the center of the cake after 45 minutes with a cake tester. 
  11. Cool completely and place the cake upside down in an air tight container. Pour a tablespoon or two of rum every 4-5 days over the cake to feed it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lamb Curry(lamb korma) with Roomali Roti

Korma is usually made by marinating the meat in yogurt flavored with garlic and other dry spices. This softens the meat and incorporates the flavor deep within. The marinated meat is then cooked with lots of onions, tomato and whole dry spices. Korma can be mild or hot depending on the desired heat level,achieved by addition of green chilies and/or red chilie powder.
Korma can be served with rice, naan or roomali roti. Roomali roti is a thin supple roti folded like a roomal (kerchief) and has roots in the Mughlai cuisine. I  tried making it but didn't come out well. I guess it need more practice and experience. I bought some from the market and its dry texture is a perfect match for the lamb gravy.

Lamb korma with roomali roti
Lamb Curry
2 lbs lamb cut in 1.5 inch cubes
2 red onions chopped fine
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3/4 cup tomato crushed
2 green chilies chopped fine.
salt to taste
2 tsp cashew nut powder
1 tbsp oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chili powder
Dry whole spices roughly crushed using mortar and pestle
4 cloves
2 black cardamoms
4 green cardamoms
1 small piece of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
  1. Mix all ingredients of the marinade and marinate lamb pieces for a minimum of 4 hours.
  2. In a large pan heat oil and add the dry whole spices. Let roast for 15 seconds.
  3. Add onions and fry stirring occasionally. When they turn pink add ginger garlic paste and lamb chunks.
  4. Fry till onions become golden brown and lamb browns a bit and acquires some flavor from the spices.
  5. Add tomato and green chilies and cook till oil separates on the sides.
  6. Add the cashew nut powder and cup of water. Transfer the contents to a pressure cooker.
  7. Pressure cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  8. If you are cooking in a pan then add more water and cook covered on low heat for 35-40 minutes till lamb is cooked through.
  9. Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding boiling water or by boiling off excess.
  10. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve with naan or roti and salad.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji

A popular street food in Mumbai and Delhi, Pav Bhaji literally means buns with vegetables. At any point in time hoards of bombayites crowd along roadside stalls and vendors to chow down spicy fares such as dahi sev , batata vada and pav-bhaji. From Mulund to Malabaar hills, in Chaupati or Juhu Beach, every mohalla and chowk has its own set of vendors with their smoky stoves and aromatic concoctions and the king of this street cuisine is Pav Bhaji.
Thick gravy with potatoes, peas and tomatoes simmered and spiked with a special masala blend, topped with a dollop of butter, coriander, raw onion and lime wedges, served with pav or buns also crisped in butter. The inescapable aroma of this bubbling dish is everywhere on the street. Extremely versatile, every stall and vendor add their own twist to the recipe. The city's premium joints offer options to top it off with extra butter, paneer or dry fruits at an extra cost. Hope you enjoy this taste of Bombay as much as we do here. 

2 large potatoes
2 carrots
1 cup peas
2 green peppers
1 cup cauliflower
2tsp oil
2 large tomatoes chopped
1 red onion chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
1 inch ginger grated
3-4 tsp Pav bhaji masala (recipe)
Chili powder
salt to taste
fresh coriander, lime wedges and finely chopped red onion for garnish
butter cubes(optional)
  1. Peel potatoes and carrots and cube them. Chop cauliflower and peppers. Boil all these veges along with peas in a pressure cooker with 1 cup water.
  2. Using a potato masher roughly mash the boiled veges.
  3. In a large pan heat oil and cook onions with ginger and garlic till pink in color. 
  4. Add tomatoes and cook till they soften.
  5. Now add the boiled veges with salt, chilli powder and pav bhaji masala to the pan. Continue sauteing at medium high heat while stirring and mashing with your spatula. This mixture tends to spurt up a lot so make sure you have the lid on when not stirring.
  6. Cook for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend in well.
  7. Serve with dollops of butter, chopped raw onion mixed with fresh chopped coriander, lime wedges and crusty dinner rolls. Optionally you can pan fry some bread in butter to serve along the bhaji.