Tag Archives: summer

Herby Paneer Parcels – a BBQ idea for Vegetarians

Herby Paneer Parcels

Herby Paneer Parcels

My brother-in-law and I have a tradition of sorts. For the past few years, every Mother’s Day, he and I get together and cook brunch for our better halves. This year, we started out by thinking of doing a grill-based brunch. However, lacking time and ideas, we ended up with just one dish that used the grill. And it was this one.

Surprisingly easy to make, it tastes great. The trick is to really get the paneer (recipe here) to marinate. With summer and Memorial Day approaching, I thought I’d put this out there as an idea to throw in a vegetarian BBQ dish in the mix.

For a change I followed the recipe to a T so here is the link for it.

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Mango Salsa – Something to dance about

Mango Hatch Salsa

Mango Hatch Salsa

Mangoes are in season, so are Hatch Chiles. It is a match made in heaven. So as they say, when life gives you Mangoes and Chiles, you make salsa. And so I did.

I made a small batch first just to try things out. It was so good that my younger daughter and I polished it off in no time. I made another batch, which went fast as well. But then there was a request from the wife, who is no big fan of raw onions (I love the stuff) to make some without. And thus was created the third batch.

My favorite was the one with onion, though the one without works well too. Since, as usual, I was winging it, the proportions are approximate but it really is hard to go wrong with mangoes, chilis, onion, lime and salt.

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe mango – peeled and chopped into tiny pieces

1/4 – 1/2 red onion (depending on your tolerance) – chopped into small pieces

1/4 – 1 roasted Hatch chile (or Jalapeno or Thai Green Chili) – Chopped really small – you can discard seeds to lessen the heat – click here on how to roast Hatch Chiles

Juice of 1/2 lime – you can add more

A few sprigs of cilantro

1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin

Salt to taste

STEPS

1. Mix it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning.

2. Enjoy with Tortilla chips.

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Some grilling lessons from a vegetarian using a gas grill

Margarita Pizza made on a gas grill

Margarita Pizza made on a gas grill

As I had mentioned a few posts back, I did buy a grill, much to the amusement of my meat eating buddies. The first time I used it, it was a disaster. I was making veggie burgers on it, that I had made from scratch, and they essentially, disintegrated (the recipe was good though, see here). I was smarter the next time. I cooked the burgers on a stove top and finished them on the grill. They were perfect. Next up was pizza.

While I had made pizza with some success (see here), on a stone in an oven (our oven goes up to 550F, which is nice), I always wanted to try a grill. I did and the pizza was fabulous. However, along the way I did learn a thing or two about using the grill so I thought I’d pass those lessons on.

1. Don’t cook veggie burgers on a grill but be sure to finish them on it – Veggie burgers tend to disintegrate because the binding that is used (egg, as is often the case in homemade burgers) has not set in. A better option is to cook the burgers on a stovetop and then finish them in the grill. If you think about it, even the veggie burgers that you get in grocery stores are semi-cooked and hence can be safely put on a grill without fear of dismemberment.

2. Do melt cheese on the patty in the grill – Nothing like melted cheese on a burger patty. I used to use a frying pan with a lid to get a nice melt going, but the grill takes it to a whole new, more fabulous level.

3. Do make pizza on a grill but make sure the stone is super hot – I used a pizza stone on a grill for the first time and I made the classic mistake of not letting the stone heat long enough on the grill. As a result my pizzas started getting better and better as the evening went on. So, the lesson learned is that you need to put the pizza stone on the grill at least for an hour with the gas going at max. While super high temperatures (600F+) will likely not be achieved, the pizza does turn out much crispier than the oven. For me, the grill is the go to place to make pizza going forward.

Nice crispy bottom on a gas grill pizza

Nice crispy bottom on a gas grill pizza

4. Do watch the pizza like a hawk – With the high, direct heat in the grill, it is easy to burn the pizza. So watch it like a hawk till you get a sense for how long it takes to cook pizza on your grill.

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A South American Veggie Burger V2.0

A South American Veggie Burger V2.0

A South American Veggie Burger V2.0

A few weeks back I had posted a recipe for a veggie burger that was inspired by South American flavors. Lissa, from New Zealand had made some suggestions that were intriguing, so I decided to try them. She has suggested using black beans, coriander (cilantro) and jalapenos. So I set out to experiment.

I decided on using sweet potato, black beans and quinoa as the base, but when I looked at my sorry looking sweet potato, I decided to toss it rather than risk food poisoning. I had a couple of potatoes in the pantry, I decided to use one instead. I had some fresh corn so I decided to throw that in as well. I used “Slap yo Mamma” seasoning and some salt. But you can use salt and pepper and it should work. Overall the recipe worked very well. Enough for my picky kid to say this is awesome and that I should make it again.

Below is a list of ingredients. And, I am playing around with an application (Vignets) that one of my clients has developed to show you the recipe. This is just a first, very rough attempt at using it. LMK, what you think.

INGREDIENTS (for 8 patties)

1 Boiled Potato – peeled and mashed

1 cup cooked Black Beans (I had made Black Bean stuffing for enchiladas, I used the leftovers)

Kernels from a corn husk – boiled till slightly soft

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa – cook according to instructions

1 egg

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1/2 Jalapeno – chopped fine

Seasoning – Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Fajita Seasoning etc etc. whatever takes your fancy

Panko breadcrumbs

STEPS

See the slideshow(Vignet) here

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A South American Veggie Burger

A South America inspired Veggie Burger

A South America inspired Veggie Burger

I bought a grill. When I mentioned this to a meat-eating friend of mine, he burst into laughter. He wanted to know what a herbivore would do with one. I had big plans for the grill, visions of veggie burgers, pizzas and grilled veggie salads floated past me in my imagination. I was ready for a rude awakening though. The first time I tried to make veggie burgers, they fell apart on the grill. I salvaged what I could and finished them off on a frying pan on a stovetop. I am thinking of using a pizza pan next time to cook them. Maybe they’ll hold up better. I still have high hopes for my new acquisition.

The flavors of the burger though were good enough to merit a foodydoody post. So here goes. In an inspired moment (these are few and far between) I decided to use ingredients typically found in South American/Latin American cooking to put together a veggie burger.  A combination of Sweet Potatoes, Quinoa and Pinto Beans seemed like a good idea and so I went with that. I used an egg as a binder and that was it.

INGREDIENTS (for 4 burger patties)

1 Sweet Potato – peeled and boiled

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa – cooked according to instructions

1/2 cup refried beans – I wanted to use real pinto beans but decided to use them too late, hence didn’t have time to cook them. Ended up using canned refried beans instead.

1/2 tsp Ground roasted cumin

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp Red chili powder

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1/2 Chipotle in adobo sauce – chopped fine

2 cloves garlic – minced

1 egg

STEPS

1. Mash the sweet potatoes.

2. Add everything else.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Shape into patties.

5. Pan fry with a little oil on a frying pan. NOTE: You may want to finish in the oven for 10 minutes at 400F.

6. Serve with fixins.

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A summer menu – Cold Peas Soup with Basil and Stuffed Tomatoes with Brown Rice and Feta

Peas Soup with Basil and Stuffed Tomatoes with Brown Rice and Feta

Peas Soup with Basil and Stuffed Tomatoes with Brown Rice and Feta

A few weeks back when the kids were at the grandparents’ I made a more-than-one-dish dinner for the missus. I have already posted the recipe for the Kale/Cranberry/Almond Salad here. The other two things that I made were a Cold Peas Soup with Basil and Stuffed Tomatoes with Brown Rice and Feta.

Both the recipes came from Saveur magazine and I took the ingredients from the recipe but may have changed the proportions a bit. For example, in the Stuffed Tomatoes, I used considerably less oil than the recipe called for. The food was good. Especially the Stuffed Tomatoes. I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful they were considering the simplicity of the recipe. The soup turned out well too. But as the wife said, it was “good” not “great”.

The one really interesting thing for me was that I came to learn that the combination of parsley, mint, olive oil and garlic really gives a very strong Mediterranean flavor. The stuffing for the tomatoes was reminiscent of Dolmas.

Easy to make and enjoy, the recipes are here. Happy summer y’all!

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A Cranberry Almond Kale Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Kale Cranberry Almond Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Kale Cranberry Almond Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Whole Foods Market is my go-to place for cheese. A few weeks back, I was at my local Whole Foods to get some mozzarella for pizza when a sample station caught my eye. There was a lady giving out samples of a kale salad with almonds and cranberries in some kind of a citrus vinaigrette. It was fabulous. The lady also had a coupon for a $1 off the salad. It was close to lunchtime and I am cheap, so I bought some salad (with the coupon, of course) and had it for lunch with some bread. It was a very satisfying meal.

For those of you who haven’t heard, kale is in fashion among foodies these days. A leafy green vegetable, it is part of the cabbage family and has high levels of beta carotene, Vitamin C and K and Calcium. It is considered a superfood and people add it to everything from smoothies to salads to stews. Kale chips (see here) are a pretty good healthy alternative to potato chips.

Kale can be bitter. The first time I used it, I put it in a veggie burger like I would lettuce or spinach and my kids weren’t happy. I have learned over time that you can massage the bitterness out of it by something acidic, like a vinegar, mask the bitterness by blending it with fruits and veggies, or just cook it.

Fast forward a few weeks and the kids were with their grandparents. I decided to cook a meal for my wife. Since it is summer where we live, I decided on a menu of cold peas soup with basil, stuffed tomatoes with brown rice and feta and the aforementioned kale salad. I got the recipes for the first two from Saveur and improvised the last one. This post is about the salad.

INGREDIENTS

Kale – washed and cut into small bite sized chunks. Get rid of the stalk or keep it if you like.

Cranberries – whole dried or craisins, you pick

Almonds – cut into slivers and dry roasted on a pan

Lemon Vinaigrette – Olive Oil, Vinegar, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Lemon Juice – steps below.

STEPS

1. Make the vinaigrette. The standard recipe is 1 portion of acid (vinegar) for 3 of oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). To this I added a minced clove of garlic, salt and pepper to taste and some lemon juice. Shook it all up in a glass jar (with the lid closed, of course) for it to emulsify. Then I put it in the fridge for an hour or so.

2. In a salad bowl massage the vinaigrette into the kale leaves. Use as much or as little vinaigrette.

3. Top with cranberries and toasted almonds.

4. Toss and enjoy.

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