Moving!!

Okay folks, for those of you who have been forced to follow my million blogs, good news for all of you! I’m condensing all my blogs into one mega-blog. Veggie recipes, writing, book reviews, medical musings, you name it, it’ll be there. I hope that you will all continue to visit and contribute. see you there!!

www.madetolovemagic.wordpress.com

Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms

Here’s another recipe exchange find – courtesy of my old friend Hima.

These look like they could be incredibly versatile  - write in with your tweaks and modifications, folks!

Ingredients:

4 or 5 large portabella mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
rosemary
other spices of your liking

Method

1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Lay the mushrooms gills down and brush the tops with salt, pepper and the olive oil.

3. Flip over, and do the same but this time brush balsamic vinegar on them.

4. Take rosemary (dry or fresh) and dust over the gills of the mushrooms,
n.b. *the dry rosemary is more potent than the fresh*
5. Season to taste.
6. Put them in an oven for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees until they’re tender.
7. Serve w/ a dollop of Goat Cheese in the middle.
Hima’s serving suggestion:
“You can either slice them and serve them on a salad, on a sandwich or eat them alone.  I usually end up making these with a small side of wheat pasta tossed with olive oil and some fresh diced tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and parmesan.  It takes no time to prepare and it’s a super easy clean up.”
Readers: any other serving suggestions? what other spices and herbs would you try?

Jennifer’s Kitchen, Installment 1

This recipe comes to you courtesy of my dear friend Jennifer, who lives in Alaska. Hence the warm soup. This came out of a recipe exchange, thanks to another close friend of mine. I haven’t tried it yet, mostly because it’s been about 5 years since I’ve even seen an acorn squash, but it sounds great. Let me know how it goes!

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

Serves 5

Ingredients:

1 medium acorn squash
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek (white part only), chopped
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth (try to use something thick and flavorful)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half, length-wise. Remove seeds and pulp. Set on a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Bake until the flesh is tender when pierced, roughly 45 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Remove squash from oven and cool.

2. While the squash is cooling, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy pan . Add the onion and leek. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the apple. Cook for 1 minute.

3. Scrape out the cooked squash from skin. Discard skin. Add cooked squash to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Add the broth to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and cool.

5. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Heat soup just before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

p.s. I wonder how a different combination would be – perhaps a butternut squash and bosco pear soup? anyone adventurous enough to try it?

Sultana’s Kitchen, Installment 1 – Paneer Tikka

So it’s been about a year and a half since the last time I posted here. Things have been nuts, with exams and life, and getting things back on track. A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I got together for a study group. The study group turned into a cooking party soon enough, and the results were simply fabulous. The meal consisted of paneer tikka, chili gobi (cauliflower for you non-hindi-speakers) and a simple fried rice – the only time I have ever genuinely liked fried rice.

I”ll start with the paneer tikka recipe and we’ll go from there. I never actually knew that paneer tikka could be so easy. It’s one of those things that’s only served in fancy restaurants, so I really didn’t know that making it at home would be such a piece of cake. My chum Sultana is one of those rare specimens that is skilled at everything she does. Her knowledge of culinary arts rivals her knowledge of clinical methods and current affairs, which makes her quite a source of company. This is her recipe for paneer tikka. Hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

This is going to be a bit vague as far as proportions go, but I think it’s more a matter of preferences than rigid rules.

Ingredients

64 oz. firm or extra firm paneer

Marinade:
Half a tub of yogurt
olive or canola oil

If you have a grinder:
dried red chilis (2-5 depending on how spicy you like your food)
a 3-inch piece of ginger root
6-8 cloves of garlic

If you don’t have a grinder:
chili powder (to taste)
2-3 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste (available at an Indian store)

a pinch of kasturi methi (available at an Indian store)
a pinch of curry powder (available at an indian store)
a pinch of garam masala (available at an indian store)
Green chilis
chili flakes
Salt to taste (preferably rock salt)
To serve with:
1 big capsicum (bell pepper) or 2 smaller ones
2 beefsteak tomatoes
1 yellow onion

Method:

1. Cut the paneer into thin squares. They should have enough surface area that grilling them will be easy, but they should be thin enough that the marinade will soak in properly.
2. Combine all the ingredients of the marinade together thoroughly, making sure that they are blended properly. If desired they can be whipped together.
3. Lay the paneer slices out in a shallow baking dish, covering completely with the marinade. Alternatively, they can be placed in a big ziploc bag after covering with the marinade.
4. Cover with an airtight seal and place them in the refrigerator overnight.
5. The paneer can be cooked in two ways. It can either be grilled or it can be cooked in a frying pan with a little oil, whichever you are comfortable with.
6. Both sides of each piece should be evenly browned, forming a rich golden crust. Make sure it’s cooked long enough without burning it.
7. Finally, if you’re using a grill, you can grill the vegetables on there as well. Otherwise, cut each into lengthwise pieces and roast for about 7-10 minutes in the oven.
8. Serve the paneer hot with the roasted vegetables as a side dish with roti (Indian flatbread) or rice.
9. Enjoy!

p.s. I would like to see how this would turn out with tofu to replace the paneer for a healthier option. If anyone tries it out, let me know!

new look, new ideas!

if you’re a regular visitor to my understocked blog, you will have noticed the fresh new look. I feel apologetic about the fact that there are no enticing photographs here, which I hope to remedy soon. In the meantime, I do want to change up the look a little bit, and make it visually slightly more appealing.

Other features that are being added slowly but surely:

an actual about page
a “favorites” section with good links, references and tips
an “understocked-to-well-stocked” section with good serveware, ingredients, tabletop ideas, etc. (it’s basically a wish list!)

and more to come as I am further inspired.

As always, I am always open to guest posts and abundant commenting, so contribute away!

A Wonderful Tex-Mex Meal – Black Bean Chili and Cornbread with a Kick

Today’s back-to-my-roots meal at the understocked household was lovely! Inspired by Tex-Mex creations, the combination of a light black bean and corn chili with a heavy, moist firecracker cornbread was fabulous!

I’ll share one recipe today and save the other for another day  – I don’t want to overwhelm my fair readers!

Cornbread is quite a staple where I’m from, but isn’t something I grew up with. There are as many variations on cornbread as there are people down South, but I really enjoyed this take, a spicy bread with an almost cake-like texture, flecked with tender corn kernels and the orange and green of carrots and chili peppers.

I started off by infusing some butter with the red pepper flakes right in the dish I was eventually going to bake in, which gave me a nice, evenly browned spicy crust. The yogurt and milk made it rich and moist without having to use eggs or any oil or butter in the actual bread. Die-hard Southerners may not like the sweet nature of the bread, but you can omit the sugar and the bread will be just as good, in my opinion.

Egg-free Cornbread with a Kick

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat or white wheat flour
1/2 cup self-rising all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white, cane, or brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1 cup yogurt (I used homemade whole milk yogurt, I’m sure you can substitute)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 can of kernel sweet corn
1 cup shredded carrots
1 chili pepper or jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp chopped pimiento olives
1 tsp crushed red peppers
sprinkling of feta cheese
sprinkling of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses

Method

1. Combine the dry ingredients – the cornmeal, two flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and add the butter and chili flakes to the dish you plan on baking in. Place this in the oven to infuse while you are preparing the batter.
3. In a separate dish, combine the yogurt, carrots and corn.
4. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, mixing well.
5. Add milk until it reaches a pourable consistency.
6. Chop up the olives, pimientos and pepper, and stir them, along with a bit of the Colby cheese, into the batter.
7. Pour the batter into your pan – after taking it out of the oven carefully, of course! – and spread the batter if you need to.
8. Sprinkle the top with the feta and the other cheeses.
9. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

This cornbread has a wonderful aroma and an awesome kick. It is also a great canvas for different flavor combinations.

If you want to go traditional with serving the bread, you can slather it with honey-butter. My opinion is that it might become a little too rich if you do that, but it’s an option. Other mix-ins may include sun dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers. The initial butter infusion is also a wonderful opportunity to pull in a variety of flavors, including basil, oregano, or sage. The adventurous palate may enjoy a hint of garlic, or a stir-in of dried cranberries.

What would you put in this cornbread to mix it up?

Carrot-Almond Bites

There were a couple of inspirations for today’s baking adventure, one of which was my brother’s gentle hint-dropping. I started out planning to make a carrot cake – banana bread hybrid, but ended up making some sort of cookie-muffin hybrid instead. I’m not 100% satisfied with it, but it’s pretty good. And it’s definitely not that bad for you.

Here was my inspiration, which led me to another, very similar recipe. I modified, basically based on what I have in my kitchen, and came up with a pretty decent result. Enough dillydallying, you say? Okay, here goes!

Ingredients:

1 cup quick oats
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 ripe, mashed banana
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup slivered almonds
a sprinkling of allspice
a sprinkling of nutmeg

Method

1. Combine the flour, oats, salt and baking powder together.

2. Melt the butter, and combine with sugar.

3. Stir the butter mixture into the flour-oats mixture.

4. Stir the banana and carrots into the mixture. Add the milk and oil and stir to combine.

5. Add the spices to taste and whip the whole thing together.

6. Combine with almonds.

7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto a buttered sheet or a cookie pan. These do rise so your drops can be small.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, or until you think they’re done! The color doesn’t change much, so you’ll have to gauge by texture.

Enjoy!!!

Some things that I might change if I made them again – A nut like pecan might work better than almonds. Also, I would shred my carrots smaller. I think cinnamon would be lovely, but I left it out because my mother doesn’t like cinnamon.

I do think I like baking with carrots and I will try that carrot loaf tomorrow. I’ll be sure to let you know what comes of it!

What would you do with this cookie-muffin-bite? How would you spice it up?

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