Category: Italian

Oven baked Rutabaga Fries, a Review & a Giveaway

So after more than a month of no blogging, I am back and plan to keep it that way. I could give you the reasons for not blogging, but I realize I will just end up whining. And that is something I just don’t want to do, especially today.

Since I have been away for so long I thought I would come back with not only a recipe but a giveaway as well.

A few weeks back Ariosto seasonings sent me some samples to review.  (Do understand that even though these samples are free, I have not been paid for the review and the opinion I share today is unbiased, or as far as being unbiased goes)

Ariosto seasonings have been very popular in Italy for over 47 years. They have an excellent range of Italian seasonings which combine the right amount of specially selected herbs, spices and Sicilian sea salt to perfectly flavor meat (chicken, beef, pork and lamb), fish and side dishes. The seasonings use herbs such as rosemary, sage, juniper, bay, oregano, garlic, thyme, sweet marjoram, basil, coriander, onion, parsley, carrot and celery to create traditional Mediterranean mixes. All the seasonings are natural as they don’t contain preservatives, colorings or MSG.

I received several packages of Ariosto seasonings. One was for poultry and meat, one for tomato sauces, one for roasted or fried potatoes, one for fish, and one with garlic and chili pepper.

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February SRC: TSRI’s Tomato Feta Pasta Salad

I am not used to posting recipes one day after the other. And that is why I should have drafted this post earlier. Especially since this month I was very good at managing my SRC recipe selection. For once I did not procrastinate till the last moment to try a recipe. But that’s the only thing I was good at it this month.

I thought I would have the weekend to complete the writing part of the post- as the making part had been taken care of. But on Saturday, we had a pre-Super Bowl party at home and I got busy with that. And on Sunday, half day was spent hungover and the rest watching the super bowl. I also managed to lose $10 to V, betting on the Patriots to win! I was not happy.

So, as always, even though the intitial planning was great, by the end I was left rushing through another SRC post.

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Guest Post By The Pious Hippie: ‘Mint is the New Basil’

My friend, lets call her Madame M, started a blog called the Pious Hippie a few months back.

Madame M and I have been friends for 9 years now. We met in college and instantly connected. Madame M has always been the intelligent types- class topper in school, and the streak followed her to college.

If ever I had a sister, I (and am sure I can vouch the same for my mom) would want her to be exactly like Madame M. I mean the girl is seriously talented. Intelligence aside, she is witty, writes amazingly well, is beautiful, cooks well, is charming, dresses great and well I could go on and on about her, but the bottom line is she is one of the best persons in my life and thanks to her I am a better person today.

In college, Madame M was the chef. My friend Ruchi and I would just lie on her bed, entering the kitchen only when it was time for us to eat.

Yup. My friends were amused when I started a food blog.

Madame M was the cook and I bet she can still beat my a** off when it comes to cooking. I guess she gets it from her mom.

Today, Madame M has been kind enough to guest post for me.

Do check her blog. Its quite interesting, with a lot of wit and humor thrown in. She tries to illustrate all her thoughts with drawings. You’ll get an idea of what I mean from this blog post.

Handing over to Madame M.

“MINT IS THE NEW BASIL”

by the Pious Hippie

Daniel Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind, said that human beings are now searching for meaning in their day to day lives. Work just for work’s sake isn’t going to cut it any longer.

We want to do something that has meaning; that makes a difference in the world. We are looking for ‘our calling’.

I was deeply impressed by the book. And this particular chapter- on Meaning- made me think about the meaning of my life. What was my calling?

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Ricotta Cheese Balls

Another post!

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so soon!

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Surprised, eh?

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Alfredo Sauce (With Fettuccine) for July SRC!

When V and I had gone to Ogden, Utah, for a week, we ate at this restaurant called Jasoh. I don’t remember now what V ordered, but I had ordered this alfredo fettuccine served with mushrooms and duck, topped with a chocolate gastrique. It was sooooooo good!

A gastrique is a reduction of vinegar and sugar brought to light caramelization, to which a little stock is added. It is a base to which many other ingredients, or just a few, can be added to form a sauce. It is generally used to create a sweet and sour sauce.

This was the first time I had eaten something savory that had chocolate in it and was really happy to have been adventurous enough to try it! I really wanted to try cooking the chocolate gastrique on fettuccine alfredo, but never got around to doing it.

So, when I was given “From Apples to Zucchini” for my this month’s SRC assignment, I was glad to know Pam had a recipe for Alfredo sauce. I had to give Pam’s recipe a try!

In From Apples to Zucchini, Pam focuses on recipes that feed her family responsibly, with as much nutrition as possible.  She takes great pride in remaking recipes to be healthier, lower in fat and calories than the original, just to prove that healthy doesn’t mean boring and tasteless. The discovery of this site couldn’t come at a better time- I have resolved that this time I am going to take my weight loss program seriously and I have a feeling Pam will be of great help!

Her version of the alfredo sauce is considerably less in fat than the actual version and still tastes great. Its an easy recipe and V and I enjoyed eating it. I also made the chocolate gastrique to go with it but was not as successful- of course, with some tweaks I made it good enough but not like how I had it at Jasoh. And since there were so many afterthought additions, there is no recipe that I can write here today.

Although the gastrique recipe is still a work in progress, Pam’s alfredo sauce recipe is a keeper! Its an easy recipe and as Pam points out its really light in calories as well!

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Portobello Pesto Pizza

I won’t be posting on GMT this week. It’s just that I have a ton of recipes in my drafts, so I decided this week I’ll catch up on the backlog of posts I have.

My basil plant has been flourishing and I had tons of basil leaves. Of course, I had to make pesto. While looking for ways to use that pesto, I stumbled upon Brown eyed Baker’s Portobello pesto pizza.

I love Michelle’s site and she has a ton of great recipes to choose from. Luckily, I had some frozen homemade pizza dough that I needed to use up and this recipe fit the bill perfectly.

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TWO WRONGS DO MAKE A RIGHT- THEY MAKE ONE GREAT DESSERT!

I was reading an article today that talked about how within just 6 days the Japanese repaired a section of the Great Kanto Highway that had been badly damaged by the earthquake. The article further goes on to state that many workers returned to their jobs only a day after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami and some businesses in the worst-hit regions have already reopened.

My prayers go out for the people of Japan who have suffered such grave loss, and hearing such stories of the Japanese determination just strengthens my belief that if any one nation has the power to rise again after such a tragedy- it is Japan. It emerged triumphant from the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and even now they will rise again. No wonder they are called the land of the rising sun!

Its such a simple lesson that one can take from the Japanese tragedy and the fortitude of the Japanese people- one could either resign and sit after such a disaster and accept it as nature’s will or one can stand up and be determined to get back on his/her feet.

Not that my tragedies in the kitchen are even remotely related to what Japan has gone through and is still going through, but the lesson learnt is to never give up and some wrongs can be made into a right if you have the will and determination along with some creativity.

I have joined the Daring Baker’s gang and February would have been my first DB challenge. But I failed in completing it as my first attempt was a failure and I was busy travelling after that to give it another shot. The challenge was to make Panna cotta and florentine cookies. My first attempt at Panna cotta was a big flop. It would not have been such a flop had I not used silicon muffin moulds for setting the Panna cotta. I am assuming so because the ones I left to set in the ramekins turned out fine. But out of the 13 servings I had, I put only four to set in the ramekins. Since I these were to be served for a party of 8 I knew I had to think of another way to serve them or make a completely different dessert. So instead I set out to make a chocolate Zucchini cake. Now, that is another story!

For the Zucchini cake- my parents bought a new oven and it was the first time I was baking a cake in it. I was scared- I had made buns earlier in it and they browned too quickly from the bottom and not from the top. So I knew the oven did not have even heating and I would have to keep a constant watch. If technical issues were not enough, human error on my part made sure that a disaster was on its way. I decided to use an angel cake pan for the batter. I knew that I would need another pan so I greased a small loaf pan too. But, I don’t know why, when I started pouring the batter I thought I should be good with only the bundt pan. I should have known better to not overfill. There was a voice that did tell me to pour the batter in the other pan as well (and it was right there- all greased up), but I was left with only a ladleful (or so I thought) and thought I should be able to manage with one pan. And in spite of my better judgement I filled it to the top. I knew it then and there I made a mistake.

And then it happened. Like lava the cake batter started overflowing from the pan and touching the sheet pan I had put underneath the rack. And my heart sank. It overflew and dropped on the pan and started burning since the sheet pan was on the lower most shelf and the house smelt of burnt cake, even though on the middle rack the cake was still baking. There was smoke all over and once the batter stopped falling from the pan, I removed the sheet pan and removed the burnt cake batter. The cake, once baked, was in no shape to serve as is, though it tasted really good.

The party was the same night and I had two failed desserts, albeit tasty! I did have the crumbs from the cake and a smooth, partially set panna cotta. I decided to make parfait like desserts with the two disasters. And boy, were they a hit. The creaminess from the panna cotta combined with the moist, chocolatey cake made a perfect dessert! (Of course, individually too they make fabulous eats!)

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ZUCCHINI PASTA- GLUTEN FREE RECIPE

 

Happy Republic Day to all Indians!

Its Day Two of Denver and I got myself to go to the gym! Last night, we had Indian food at this place called India Tavern. V and I both enjoyed the food- it was really good and the host was a very sweet and friendly guy. We both ended up overeating, so gym today was definitely in line! I also tried eating healthier (as much as I could)- fruits and bagel with light cream cheese (yes, yes – “light” cream cheese- I really do need to lose weight!). (FYI dinner still awaits so I shouldn’t be jumping my gun.)

And, if you think I am bad with my weight issues, V is paranoid. He found a teeny weeny bit of paunch- and he has been freaking out since then- standing in front of the mirror, frowning at his almost negligible waist! And then, today on being asked what did he have for lunch, prompt came his response – a salad! Like, he could dream of eating anything else! (and here I am rejoicing for choosing “light” cream cheese instead of “regular”) Oh, the shame he brings to the Punjabi in me 😉 (Punjabi people in India are known for eating a lot- and eating food full of butter and cream!)

So to keep the spirit of being healthy (or well, trying to be), I decided to post the low-carb zucchini pasta recipe I tried a few days back. I remember hearing/reading (memory fails me here) about this pasta a long time back. The idea stuck on my mind for some time, and the other day when I passed the zucchinis at the supermarket I thought I’ll give it a try. Luckily, I found a similar recipe online too. (Click here for the link).

The recipe is quick and easy to make. It would have been quicker had I a mandolin, but since I did not, cutting the zucchini into long strands did take some time. Loved the flavors, and more so because it is so healthy!

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BASIL & ALMOND PESTO

Its pesto time! Had a couple of basil leaves left from the time I made Pizza at home, so pesto was the way to go. Generally pesto is made with pine nuts, but I did not have any on hand and it is difficult to find them in the place that I stay. Many people use walnuts as a substitute but I feel roasted blanched almonds are a better substitute.

Traditionally, pesto is made in a mortar and pestle. Some Italians swear that the key to a good pesto is chopping the ingredients by hand rather than in a food processor. But, well, chopping by hand takes time and I wanted a quick recipe. I will definitely try chopping by hand the next time I have time on my hand and let you know the difference. But, for now I am happy with my food processor made pesto!

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EGGPLANT PARMESAN

I am not fond of eggplants. Never have been. But, post marriage, since V likes them A LOT, I have been forced to change my preferences. (Yes! Marriage is all about the compromise). And now I have finally warmed up to this vegetable. So, the other day when we ordered Eggplant Parmesan at a restaurant, I did not mind trying it out. It was really good and that’s when I made a mental note to myself to try making it at home.

And thus, began the search for a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. I googled and one of the first search results had Bobby Flay’s version of Eggplant Parmesan. I remember watching the throwdown episode which showcased this recipe. Don’t remember who won, though, but I do remember Bobby Flay’s version was liked by a lot of people.

The sauce for this recipe is amazing. Roasted red peppers give a beautiful flavor to the sauce. It is time consuming to make it though and I would suggest to make the sauce a day or two in advance. And even though the recipe calls for fresh herbs, since I did not have any, I used dried herbs, with pretty good results. But, not having fresh herbs on hand gave me a brilliant idea to start my own herb garden (woohoo!). That’s going on my ‘next project to tackle’ list.

The recipe also calls for different kinds of cheeses and I am aware that such cheeses are difficult to find in India. Actually, even in the US, where I stay, its difficult to find such cheeses. So I used only Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese. It worked out fine.

I served this dish at a get together we had at our place, and the ones who tried this dish, loved it- one called it ‘restaurant style‘ :). But, the fact that it was an eggplant dish did not sit too well with many others and they weren’t too adventurous to try it. (I know the pre-marriage me would have also not tried it.) Next time, I’m going to mask the inclusion of eggplant by calling the dish by its italian name melanzane alla parmigiana. That way, eggplant haters will get fooled into trying the dish and eventually end up liking it! (Gosh! I have such a brilliant mind- slightly evil but brilliant nonetheless :):)!)

The sauce can be made 2 or 3 days in advance. Although the dish is best when freshly made, it can be assembled and refrigerated the day before, and then baked before serving. Alternatively, bake the dish a day in advance, cover and refrigerate; the next day reheat in a preheated 400 degree F oven for about 20 minutes.

Don’t get scared by the long list of ingredients, the result is well worth it! And do make the sauce in advance so that the workload is less on the day you decide to eat it.

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