Friday, August 29, 2014

Stuffed Mexican peppers

I am a big fan of peppers. Green, red, yellow, and orange sweet peppers, hot banana peppers, or the milder poblano peppers, I love em all. You will always find peppers in my refrigerator. Eat them raw, enjoy them cooked, super delish as crudites, add to stir-fries, add to salad, chop-em, stuff-em. This super versatile vegetable is a staple in our house. And whenever I have more time on hand to cook, I like to stuff these beauties. Stuffed peppers exist all over the world in different forms and flavors. They can be filled with any combination of grain, meat, beans, and sauces making them the ultimate leftover and pantry cleaning source. 

These Mexican - inspired stuffed green peppers are filled with a blend of brown rice, black beans, and corn. They are hearty, delish and a great option for a vegetarian meal. You can use Poblano peppers instead of the sweet green ones or even multi-colored peppers for a pretty presentation. 

Variation to the rice and beans stuffing:
  • Substitute rice with quinoa.
  • Add some cooked ground chicken instead of corn.
  • Use leftover filling to make tacos, burritos or nachos.
  • Serve smothered in enchilada sauce.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 large green peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion chopped fine
2-3 cloves garlic minced
2 large tomatoes crushed
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp paprika
salt to taste
1 jalapeno pepper chopped fine
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup shredded cheese
  1. To make the stuffing, heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic. Cook till pink and add oregano, cumin powder, and paprika. Saute for 10 seconds before adding the crushed tomatoes.
  2. Cook for 2-3 minutes till oil separates from the sides. Add corn and jalapeno and saute for another 3-4 minutes till corn is cooked through.
  3. Add the beans and rice and salt to taste. Turn off the heat and mix everything till well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep aside. 
  4. Preheat oven to broil.
  5. Wash peppers and pat dry. Cut in half vertically and remove seeds keeping the stem intact.
  6. Sprinkle with a little salt and spray with a little oil and place peppers on a greased baking sheet cut side down. Broil for 4-6 minutes till peppers get slightly charred and soft. Remove from oven and turn over. 
  7. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  8. Fill peppers with the filling, and top with cheese. Back in the oven, cook for 15-20 minutes till cheese melts and peppers are cooked to your preference. Serve hot.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Keema Pav

Keema Pav literally means mince with buns. This famous Mumbai street food is kind of like sloppy joes with an Indian flavor. If you like Pav Bhaji then this is the non-vegetarian version for you. 
Keema or minced mutton is slow cooked in spices and generously sprinkled with fresh coriander and served with freshly baked pavs or buns (generously slathered with butter) to mop up the keema. Add some crunchy slivered red onions, a drizzle of lime juice and a dollop of butter and you will be in heaven. And don't forget those green chilies. Spicy, tangy and lip-smacking good.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 lb minced chicken or lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp grated ginger
2 large tomatoes pureed
2 tbsp plain yogurt 
1/2 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Dry whole spices (ground coarsely)
1/4 tsp each cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds, peppercorns
2-3 cloves
1 half inch stick cinnamon
2 green cardamoms
1 dry red chili (optional)
To Serve
8 whole wheat kaiser buns
Red onion rings
Green chilies
Lime wedges
Fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oil at medium heat in a pan and add the coarsely ground spice mix. Saute for 30 seconds and then add onions and garlic.
  2. Cook onions till lightly brown and then add pureed tomato and grated ginger.
  3. Cook on high till oil separates in the side of the pan. Add yogurt and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Now add the mince and amchoor, turmeric and salt. Cook stirring constantly until the mince is no longer pink. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup water, bring to boil and simmer till mince is cooked through. 
  5. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve with pav or kaiser buns crisp fried in butter along with onion, lime and green chilies.   

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chicken Fajitas

A favorite with the kids and adults alike at our house. Easy to make and fun to assemble, this is a wonderful weeknight dinner. Every one can customize their own. Pair it with lime margaritas and you have yourself a fiesta.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
For the Black Beans:

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp olive oil
Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes till onions tern pink and add the tomato paste and drained beans. Season with cumin powder and chili flakes and mix well to incorporate the tomato. Set aside.

For the Fajita peppers and onions:
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1/4 red onion
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
cracked black pepper
  1. Cut the peppers and onion in long strips. 
  2. In a pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Once hot add oregano. Saute for 2 seconds and add all the veggies. Toss on high heat till they char a little. Season with pepper and salt(optional). Set aside. 
  3. Alternately you can marinate the peppers and onion in olive oil, oregano and pepper and then grill them.

For the Chicken:
2 chicken breasts
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried leaf oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt. 
  2. Mix all the other spices and olive oil and coat the seasoned chicken breast generously with the spice mix. 
  3. Grill the marinated chicken on a moderately hot grill till crisp and brown on the outside and fully cooked to the inside. 
  4. Remove from grill. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice at a diagonal.

For pico de gallo:
1 large diced tomato
1/2 diced medium sized red onion
1/4 bunch of cilantro (use more or less depending on your taste)
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tsp of salt
1 jalapenos (or more if you prefer it hotter)
Mix up all ingredients and keep at room temperature for half an hour to let flavors blend in.

Other Toppings:
4 tbsp Sour Cream (I used hung yogurt)
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
Finely chopped Jalapeno pepper
Hot habanero sauce (optional)
Shredded iceberg lettuce

To Assemble you will need 8 medium sized tortillas:
  1. Warm the tortilla in the microwave. Top with a scoop of beans, fajita peppers, chicken, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo. Use habanero sauce as per your spice quotient. 
  2. Use all or some of the other toppings to make this your own. Many combinations are possible and each family member can get a customized meal. 
  3. You can use any type of tortilla for this - plain, whole wheat or corn.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Mushroom risotto

    This Italian rice dish cooked slowly in broth to a creamy consistency is a perfect complement to any grilled meat and chicken. Its no secret that a good risotto requires your undivided attention for about 20 minutes but its completely worth it. Make sure to serve it immediately. You can use any type of broth and wine is completely optional, although it adds a tonne of flavor. Parmesan cheese adds a fair bit of salt, so keep that in mind while seasoning it. 

    Mushroom Risotto with Peas
    Ingredients: serves 6

    8 cups chicken/vegetable broth
    2 tbsp unsalted butter
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 cup finely chopped onions
    10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
    3-4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice
    2/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
    1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
    1/2 - 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1. In a heavy saucepan bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Keep the broth warm over very low heat. 
    2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan and add olive oil. Keep heat at medium. 
    3. Add onions and saute till soft about 5-7 minutes. 
    4. Now add the garlic and mushrooms and let cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes. Saute till mushrooms are tender and all juices evaporate another 2 minutes. 
    5. Add the rice and stir to toast for a few minutes to toast and coat the grains with butter. 
    6. If using add the wine and cook stirring till all liquid is absorbed. This will take 2-3 minutes. 
    7. Now reduce heat to medium-low and add a cup of hot broth. Cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2-3 minutes. 
    8. Continue to add a cupful of broth in this manner till rice is just tender and the mixture gets creamy. This will take about 15-20 minutes and during this time the rice will absorb 6-8 cups of liquid. 
    9. Stir in the peas and cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot and enjoy.