Tuesday, June 26, 2007
This summer I planted Sweet Basil in my Herb Garden. It's growing quiet happily and smiling with its pretty little white flowers. It is better to prune the Basil regularly so that it gives out new branches. I could see the stems getting woodier. So I decided to prune them and make some good Pesto. Basil has a spicy mint-clove combo flavor. It's more or like our Tulsi (Tulsi belongs to Basil family too).
In Italian culinary, Pesto is a sauce made by pounding the Herbs using a Pestle. Not to do any injustice to the meaning I decided to make Pesto the Authentic Italian way. As soon as I kept my buddy Mortar&Pestle on the Island, I could hear grumblings from my mom (my sis supporting her) that I could do it with no time with the food Processor. Ignoring their comments, I started making Pesto. I felt like doing it with M&P as it really brings out the fullest flavor of the herbs. I admit it is laborious and time consuming but it is worth doing it for a striking difference in the taste.
Bunch of Fresh bail Leaves
3 cloves of Garlic
1/2 Cup of walnuts
1/2 Cup of Olive Oil(combination of EVOO and olive oil)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine Garlic and Wanuts in the mortar. Pound(up and down movement) them first
using the pestle. Add Basil leaves and drizzle olive oil and grind(Circular motion)them together. Add salt and peeper to taste. Grind it till the oil is well integrated to the basil mixture and becomes a paste.
Now the Pesto is ready to season any pasta.
I read in many books that pesto goes well with the long pastas like Fettucine,Linguine. I decided to use Fettucine to go with the Pesto.
Fettucine Pasta : 1 Packet
Cook pasta al dente or according to the instructions on the package. Drain well. Toss the pasta with the pesto sauce and garnish with cherry tomatoes(grilled it for a min) and serve.
Mom : It's like Delivery Lehium(Medicine given to mothers soon after delivery).
Dad : Denied to taste. I admit that you have to have a tooth for the pesto.
Mr B : It's different. I liked it.
Daughter : It's yummy. Supera errukuma!
Son : You should have given the pasta before adding the green thingy.
Sister : Not so great.
Mine : I liked it . But a hint of lime juice might have enhanced the taste.
Advice: Make Pesto only if you like the basil taste. I prefer olive oil over Extra Virgin olive oil as the latter is more Pungent.
Friday, June 8, 2007
This Culinary spice is also called as hing(Hindi), Perungayam(Tamil). There is no southindian kitchen without this spice in their spice box. Hing is sold either as blocks(dark Amber Color) or Powder(Mixed with Rice flour. Hence the powder is less scented and less effective than the block. Hing is nothing but gum or resin extracted from the sap of a fennel like plant. This spice has
exceptional digestive qualities.
Usually I prefer powder as it is hard to pound the block. My Mom gave a nice idea to make powder out of the block that I want to share with you all. Take the Hing block in a microwave bowl and microwave it for one minute. Flip the side and do it for one more minute. The hing becomes triple it size like a crunchy ball. Pound it using the Mortar and Pestle. It becomes powder in no time.
Store it in an air tight container and use.
Tips: A glass of thin Buttermilk with 1/2 teaspoon of Hing powder aids indigestion.
My Pyar to the Garden started when I was young(around 7 years old). The House where I grew up when I was young had a big thattati(Open Space like a huge balcony) with the raised walls. I used to keep rose pots, Table rose plants(don't know the botonical name) all over the walls. I used to plant Brinjal and Greens in the broken Cement thoti(Cement tubs which is used to store water). I used to visit my little garden as soon as I wake up . The same was true When I came back from school.
The habit continues even now. I stand atleast 15 to 30 mts in the Garden in the evenings after I come back from office. Mr. B gets mad at me seeing taking out weeds in between the Vegetable plants. He says I am over doing. He says that we will do roundup and it's gone. But I wanted to grow my vegetables organic and it might kill the plants too. The bond between me and my Garden gives me immense pleasure . I enjoy when I am at Garden and forget myself totally. I think the interest matters.
Mr. B Prepared the Vegetable Bed for me nicely . I put like 4 bags of Garden Soil over the bed. I bought 2 trays of Vegetable Plants for gaskosfamilyfarm near by my house. They have huge selection of Annuals and Vegetable Plants. The buying Spree didn't stop there. I bought from everywhere Home Depot, Shoprite Garden Center, Stults Farm....
Apart from this I planted Bush Beans ,Bitter Gourd and Keerai(Greens like Red leaves) from the seeds which I brought from INDIA 2 years back. They are growing very nicely.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Soy Milk is a real good alternative drink for people who are dairy-allergic. It's a good source of protein. I am not a regular drinker of soymilk. But I do drink occasionally. I got inspired by my Chinese friend and started liking it. So I and she went and bought Soy-milk-maker that costs around 70$. She bought because the soy-maker she had became old and not working efficiently. I just bought for the sake of buying and curiosity.
I did do a lot of research on soymilk benefits. I got both negative and positive feedback. When I brought it home, my husband commented that it was just one more addition to the cabinet space. But to justify my buy, I told that I can make coconut milk, sesame milk and so forth. In fact I tried but everything ended up in real disaster. The machine is good to make soymilk. You can extract almond milk/rice milk too. My friend makes like soy + black bean combination. I am trying to use it at least once a month for myself and take it to my office for my friends.
To extract Soy-milk with the soy-milk maker, I soak the beans overnight. It takes about 15 minutes to get soy-milk with this maker. The only drawback with this is I can't make just one glassful of soy-milk. I have to put water to a certain point in the vessel for the maker to start which forces me to put lot of beans too. But the procedure is very simple.
Fill up the filter with the soaked Soy Beans.
Add clean water to the cylinder between the water level marks.
Plug the cord in and press the start button. That's it.
Whenever I make this my family members gave a look as if I am making something so disgusting. Nobody ever wanted to have a sip of it. But I like it. The Soymilk that comes out of the maker is too hot. So be watchful once it is done.
You can make soy-milk out of dry beans too. But you get better soy-milk by soaking the beans overnight. Soaking the beans gives good yield and healthy soy-milk as soaking reduces the phytate contents found in the dry Soy beans.
I am planning to make Tofu soon. Watch out my space for the Tofu recipe.
Home made Tomatillo Salsa
green pepper 2
red pepper 2
White onion 2
Jalapeno pepper 2
Red Chilli Powder(coarse)
Cut the peppers and paneer into strips and onion in rounds. Place all the cut vegetables in a big bowl. Keep the Paneer separate. In a separate bowl combine yogurt, chili powder, Tandoori barbeque masala, lime juice, olive oil and salt and make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the vegetable and paneer and toss gently . Let it marinate for ½ hr.
Preheat the grill or oven to 250° F. Place the grill sheet brushed with olive oil. Place all the marinated vegetables over the sheet with a slotted spoon . Bast olive oil over the vegetables. Do it for both the sides. Grill until the vegetables become softened and slightly blackened with the grill marks. Grill the Paneer separately. Handle Paneer gently otherwise it will get crumbled.
Heat the pan and warm up the Tortillas. Keep them warm inside a Tortilla warmer or cover it up with a kitchen towel. Assemble the Grilled Vegetables, shredded lettuce,Sour Cream, Cheese, Tomatilla Salsa, on a big plate.Let your guests serve themselves according to their taste. If you are rolling up, take a tortilla, spread the vegetable in the center(down) of tortilla , spoon the shredded lettuce, Cheese,Sour Cream and Spicy salsa and carefully roll up the tortilla.
It makes a perfect nutritious meal when you have some cooked black bean along with it. You can have zillions of variations in the filling you choose. Let your imagination roll.
I used Grilled Jalepenos and homemade Tomatillo Salsa to give it up an extra notch.
I usually buy the large tortilla for easy rollups and less messyness .
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
White onion -1
Cilantro leaves -few sprigs
Jalapeno peppers -2
Lemon Juice-1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste
Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Preheat the grill to 350 degrees.
Keep the grilling pan brushed with olive oil. Bast oil often on both the sides of the vegetables and grill them till the skin become blackened and charred.
Coarsly grind the Grilled ingredients with cilantro and salt using M&P
or a blender. Pulse it if you are using blender.
This salsa pairs well with tortilla chips .