Vegetarian Concoctions

February 27, 2007

Potato and Leek soup

Filed under: Barley, Celery, JFI, Leeks, Mixed Veggies, Orzo, Parsley, Potato, Soup's on, Soups — Hema @ 4:43 pm

It is crunch time!  I did’nt realize February has but 28 days. It has been a busy month and I have missed out on posting a strawberry treat for AFAM. Reading my previous post on hot and sour soup, Asha suggested that I send my soup for Alanna’s “Soup’s on” event. I sent in the link to Alanna without even mentioning the event in my post:) hehe…stupid me. That, obviously is not acceptable. So, here is another soup that I brewed up keeping in mind the deadlines for two events: the “Soup’s on” and ……..yeah, you got that right “JFI-Potato“. This time, it is my chance to say ‘Ek pathar se do shikaar‘(two prays with one stone). I mixed and matched ingredients from 4 different recipes in 3 different books (Potato, leek and pea soup, Spinach and orzo soup, spring soup with barley and leak and carrot soup). Hence, the recipe is very versatile and additions and deletion can be made according to taste…just make sure you use the potatoes and leeks though, if you want to retain the name on it. Potato gives the soup its texture and leek its fabulous flavor. Here is what you need:

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Potatoes – 2 nos medium sized

Leek – 1 no

Bay leaves – 2 nos

Red onions – 1/2 medium sized

Garlic – 2 cloves

Parsley – 1/2 bunch

Celery – 1 stem

Barley – 2 tbsp uncooked

Orzo – 2 tbsp uncooked

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Water – 5-6 cups

Chop up the potatoes, leeks and celery to 1/2 inch pieces. Heat up olive oil and saute the onions till they are translucent. Add the garlic and bay leaves and saute for a minute. Add all the veggies and cover it up with water. Add salt and let this simmer away till the veggies are cooked well. Take half the soup out, let it cool down and then puree it. To the other half that is on the stove, add uncooked orzo, barley and chopped parsley. Continue cooking till the pasta is done. Dilute it further if required. Now add the pureed half and add salt and pepper according to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

February 23, 2007

Hot and sour soup

A Chinese soup. Well, Indo-chinese to be precise. Chinese was the first international cuisine to crop up in India with the ever famous hakka-noodles, manchurians and chow-meins. They had the same chinese names, but the flavour was suited to the typical Indian tongue – hot and spicy. I have, till date not visited a chinese restaurant in the USA. The reason – within the first few days of my arrival, I was enlightened by some of my fellow Indian-students who got here before me, on various food issues for a vegetarian in the USA.

First of, Chili is not chilli but beef. Always notice the number of ‘L’s in the word. (The restaurant ‘chilis’ caught my attention soon after I arrived and was dissapointed to find out what the word actually meant. The red chilli logo was decieving too. I have never visited chilis either.) Pepperoni toppings on pizza can very well be misunderstood for tomatoes. Hot dog is not actually dog meat. Chinese is not the Chinese we get in India – very very bland here. Thai food is closer to IndoChinese food than Chinese.

Based on the vital advices of my seniors, I drew lines on where to eat and where not to. I have now realized that the Chinese we get in the US is lot more authentic than what we get back home. In fact Indo-chinese is an entirely different cuisine. I have seen menu cards at Chinese restaurants and a lot of dishes look and sound delicious and the best part of all is that, they carry a number of vegetarian items too. Who cares if it is bland? I can always add an extra splash of hot sauce to my order. So, once I convince my husband, we will be heading out to a good chinese restaurant soon.

Until then, I shall seek solace in the taste I believed to be Chinese. This recipe for hot and sour soup is adapted from the my new recipe book – Tarla Dalal’s Chinese recipes. (BTW did you know she has her own blog now?) As always, I checked the list of ingredients and put in my own measurements with a few additons and subtractions:

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Shredded carrots and cabbage – 2 cups

Spring onions – 10-12 stems

Soya sauce – 1 tbsp

Balsamic vineger – 2 tsp

Cornflour – 1 1/2 tbsp

Grated ginger – 1 tsp

red chilli flakes – 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)

oil – 1 1/2 tsp

sugar – 1/2 tsp

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Ajinomoto (optional) – a pinch

Thai peanut sauce – 1 tsp

Mix the cornflour with a little water. Switch your stove to the maximum heat level and let your pan heat up till it is scotching hot. Add the oil and immediately the veggies. Saute for a minute and add the red chilli flakes, ginger, sugar, salt and the ajinomoto. Add 2 cups of water and reduce your flame to medium heat. Add the soya sauce and the cornflour. My secret ingredient – Thai peanut sauce. Just a tsp to soften the flavor of the soya sauce. Taste for salt and heat and add pepper accordingly. Let this simmer for a couple minutes and you are ready to serve it.

 

February 20, 2007

Vegetable pot? pie???

Filed under: American, Cheese, Mixed Veggies, Pie, Puff pastry and phyllo sheets — Hema @ 12:05 pm

What would you eat when hubby is not in town for a weekend and you are at home looking after your toddler? Left overs? Maggi noodles? Yeah, thats what I usually do especially since he does not travel that often. My attitude – ‘Why cook for one person?’. And then the little one keeps me busy. So, it is not like I have nothing to do.

This was one of those occasions, H was out attending a conference. (BTW, I have no idea why they need to start registration on a Saturday and have the key note speech on a Sunday. What are weekdays for?) Anyway, I was at home craving Italian and actually decided to make some pasta for myself.  But guilt pricked at the wrong time…how could I eat something he likes and then enjoy the meal? And worse still – I couldn’t believe I was thinking like my mother.  I had always made fun of her about being too sentimental over such things.

Now with the pasta plan ruled out, I was still craving something interesting. I did what was most logical under such a circumstance. Cook something that I love and hubby detests. And, that was easy – eggplants, paneer(yes, paneer! can you believe it?), molten cheese, white sauce…..I had quite a few options. I was not in the mood for Indian food. The thought of having white sauce as a base made my mouth water…that day. Right now, as I write this sentence, I am thinking paneer…yummmm:)

I always wanted to make my own vegetarian version of chicken pot pie and this was the day! I scrambled through each shelf in the refrigerator and brought out some veggies, including eggplant. Milk, butter, cheese and a pack of puff pastry sheet came out too. I did not have an oven safe circular bowl of the right size to make it look like a pot pie, but this is what I ended up doing:

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Mixed veggies – eggplant, shredded carrots, onions, bell pepper, celery – about a cup

Milk – 1 cup

Shredded pepper jack cheese – 1/4 cup

Butter – 1 tbsp

Olive oil – 2 tsp

All-purpose flour – 1 tbsp

Puff pastry – 1 sheet

Salt and pepper to taste 

Start with the veggies. Add the olive oil to a pan and then the veggies. Saute for 3-4 minutes and transfer it to a bowl. In the same pan, Add the butter and once it melts the flour goes in. Roast it till the raw smell goes and then add the milk. Let this thicken up and then add the cheese, salt and pepper to the simmering white sauce. Add the veggies, give it a stir and switch off the stove.

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Let this cool down and fill it into a puff pastry sheet. Poke some holes on it and bake according to manufacturer’s instructions on the puff pastry carton.

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What I made was actually nothing close to the classic pot pie. The pot pie usually has a biscuit crust and I substituted it with a puff pastry sheet. There was no cream, mushroom or potatoes in it. It was something I seeked refuge in for the day but I did have a meal that was not just delicious, but utterly filling too! I loved it and now, I am waiting for my husband to attend another conference:) The next time, I would cut the quantities in half and also use the oven-safe bowl that I bought soon after.

October 3, 2006

Mysore Sambhar

Filed under: Cookbooks, Indian, Karnataka, Main meals, Mixed Veggies, South Indian — Hema @ 1:21 pm

One of my favourite cookbooks DAKSHIN, by Chandra Padmanabhan had been lying on the counter- top without being used for a long time. I got this as a gift from my MIL 2 years back and have tried various recipes from this book with wonderful results each time.  This recipe for Mysore sambhar always caught my attention, since this was a new recipe to me. The only reason I had not tested this was because there was no tamarind in the list of ingredients and sambhar sans tamarind……hmmm? Yesterday, however I decided to go for it. I couldn’t help but add a little bit of tamarind never-the-less. I was quite impressed with the outcome. Though, the tamarind did add that little bit of taste that I like, I am pretty sure the recipe would have been as good if not better even without it.

Tur Dal  – 3/4 cup uncooked

Water – 3 cups

Beans – 1 2/3 cups

Potato – 1 medium

Green peas – 1 tbsp

Tamarind – 1/2 lime sized ball

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

For the paste:

Dhania  – 1 tbsp

Grated coconut  – 6 tbsp

Hing –  1/2 tsp

Methi (fenugreek) seeds – 1 tsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Raw rice (soaked) – 1 tbsp

Red chillies – 6 nos

For tempering:

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin – 1 tsp

Red chilli – 1

Curry leaves – 5-6 nos.

Cook the dal and soak the rice in water for about 15 minutes. Cut vegetables to about 1 inch size and boil in water. Add the tamarind and salt when the vegetables are half cooked and let it boil up together till the vegetables are fully cooked. Make a fine paste of all the ingredients listed with minimum water. The original recipe did not have methi (fenugreek) seeds, but I decided to add some for the flavour. Add turmeric and the paste to the veggies and let it simmer up for about 5 minutes on medium flame. Next add the dal and cook the sambhar for another 3-4 minutes. Temper with Mustard, cumin, red chilli and curry leaves and serve hot with rice.

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September 1, 2006

Minestrone Soup

Filed under: Italian, Mixed Veggies, Soups — Hema @ 3:16 pm

I love drinking soups. Drinking? or is it eating? Hey! do we eat or drink soups? hmm……

I just got back from a google search hoping to find a good answer. I thought I could do two searches ‘eat soup’ and ‘drink soup’ and decided to go with the one that generated more links with the phrase. I typed in ‘eat soup’ first. Some links popped up but I did not get a convincing answer. ‘Drink soup’ was typed in next, and Lo behold! the very first link said – Google answers: Do you eat or drink soup?. Apparently people have been smarter  than me and thought about this before:)…and long live google. Forget the internet, I dont think I can think of life without google. Soup, as I understand, is eaten. Mainly because you dont pour it into a beverage glass and gulp it down (though I do it a lot of times when I have left over soup). It has to be relished with a spoon, sip by sip. The second important reason being, more often than not, it has veggies that have not been pureed. So is the case with minestrone soup. Definitely not one of the soups that can be drunk…not even leftovers. It is a wholesome, nutritious and delicious meal in itself. Here is the recipe.
Blanched, peeled and Chopped tomatoes                     1 cup

Chopped Onions                         1/2 cup

Corn kernals                               1/2 cup

Peas                                          1/2 cup

Diced Carrots                             1/2 cup

Chopped Yellow squash               1/2 cup

Chopped Zucchini                       1/2 cup

Chopped Celery                          1/2 cup

Pinto or Kidney beans (Rajma)     1 cup

Fresh basil leaves                       8 – 10 nos.

Dried Basil                                 1 tbsp

Dried oregano                            1 tsp

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Sugar                                       1 tsp

Butter                                      1 tbsp

White vinegar                            1 tsp

Small shell pasta                        1/4 cup (uncooked)

Olive oil                                    2 tbsp

Chop all the vegetables into about 1/2 cm pieces. Heat up the olive oil and saute the onions till they are transparent. Add the tomatoes and cook them till they are soft. Add the remaining veggies. Add enough water to cover up the vegetables and put a lid on the pot. Let this simmer on a medium heat till all the vegetables are well cooked. This should take about 20-25 minutes. Mash it up lightly with the spoon. Dilute the soup if you like it more watery. Infact, using vegetable broth instead of water is a good way to enhance the flavour of the soup. Add the dried basil and oregano leaves, salt, sugar, pepper, vinegar, butter and the beans. The canned beans work just as well. Make shell or any small size pasta according to package instructions. I break up spaghetti into very small pieces if I dont have any other small pasta. The cooked pasta goes in next. Finally add in fresh whole basil leaves and stir the soup lightly. Make sure you do not mash the beans or pasta. Serve hot with bread.

 

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