Tag: italian

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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CAESAR SALAD

I often wondered where did the name Caesar Salad come from. Was it named because Julius Caesar liked it? Well, duh, no! So I researched and here is some Caesar Salad trivia: the salad’s creation is attributed to Caesar Cardini (an Italian born Mexican- yes mexican!). He stumbled upon the idea to make this salad during July 4th celebrations, when most of his pantry emptied out and he had no choice but to make a salad with what was on hand. And, voila! Caesar Salad was born!

The salad is simple, quick to make and tasty to eat. The recipe I use is from a magazine I bought in India, published by Femina. All the recipes in that magazine have been great. The original recipe calls for mayonnaise but I use tartar sauce. I like the sharper flavor that tartar sauce adds. The original recipe also calls for anchovies, instead I add a few drops of worcestershire sauce. You can add grilled chicken as well, but I like to keep this salad vegetarian.

Unfortunately, I always forget to photograph the salad and by the time I realise, its all gobbled up!

CAESAR SALAD

DRESSING:

1 garlic flake, finely chopped

1 tbsp grated Parmesan

salt to taste

5 tbsp mayo (or tartar sauce)

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Few drops of worcestershire sauce

FOR THE SALAD

1 head Romaine Lettuce

Croutons, about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup cherry tomatoes, optional

Shavings of Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. The consistency should be that of yogurt. Just before serving, in a salad bowl, add the lettuce, cherry tomatoes and croutons and drizzle the dressing on top. Using tongs, mix well together. The salad should be well coated. Top with shavings of the parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

 

 


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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TIRAMISU CAKE

V and I are both down with stomach cramps, me more than him. Thankfully, I can say that it is not because of my cooking. Its a result of eating out (even though at other people’s houses) every day over the weekend. Some thing just did not sit right with both of us. So for lunch today I made khichdi, a light Indian dish made of rice and lentil. Its easy to put together and to digest as well. Have it with curd and a little ghee, and you have comfort food at its best.

Talking about comfort food. It’s been raining here like crazy. And what’s more comforting than hot coffee- well, actually there is- cake soaked in espresso topped with coffee infused mascarpone cheese. Ahh! Tiramisu! Yes, I know- given my condition, I can not afford to have such a delicatessen! So, instead I chose to relive the memory of the time I did make a Tiramisu cake- the weekend we had our first house guests.

Dorie Greenspan yet again came to my rescue with this awesome recipe for a Tiramisu cake. I was glad to find a recipe that did not call for store bought lady fingers. I did end up making a lot of blunders. I forgot to read the instructions properly and instead of mixing all of the whipped cream for the filling, I mixed in only 1/4 th. I also had to double the amounts of the syrup, as the stated amount was just not sufficient for soaking both the cakes. I used ricotta cheese as I could not find mascarpone cheese anywhere:(! But, besides the filling being a little gritty, the taste wasn’t amiss. Also, I almost ended up burning one of the cakes as it baked in less than half the time mentioned in the book. But, fortunately, I checked and took the cake out. The cake in the other pan took the mentioned amount of time to bake. And, even though I bought Kahlua, the store clerk forgot to remove the alarm and I had to do with brandy! Just one of those days!

In spite of all the mishaps though, I got rave reviews for the cake. The coffee flavour was right on target- the frosting and filling weren’t too overly sweet- just the right amount of sweetness. I have realised Dorie and my palate for sweetness is quite similar. The cake was moist- thanks to the doubling of the syrup. Everyone loved it!

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SPINACH MUSHROOM FETTUCCINE

I finally completed my second trunk yesterday. With that, Project Trunk is under wraps! Finally! This called for a celebration!

I had mushrooms lying in my fridge for some time now. V hates mushrooms- well hate would be too strong a word, but he is NOT a fan. I like mushrooms a lot. But, its quite ironical that growing up, I hated all dishes that had mushrooms in them.

Then, one fateful day (boy, do I like to dramatize things!), my friend from college, called us for lunch at her home. She made this garlic mushroom bread that was awesome and since then I have been in love with mushrooms.

Lot of people believe that it takes one dish to change a person’s opinion about a vegetable. And, I am a living proof of that!

So I thought I’ll try to get V to change his mind about mushrooms, and decided to make this pasta recipe I got from a special cookbook edition of Femina. The recipe is the same one that they use at Pizza Hut for their creamy Spinach Mushroom fettuccine. The first time I tried this recipe was while visiting home, and I made it for a party my parents were throwing. Everyone loved it. I made it again at my aunt’s place- it didn’t come out as good as the first time- there were some ingredient issues- but still was liked.

This was my third time, and this time the dish had a mission- to turn V to a mushroom lover. I had to get this one right! So, I set the table and went all out- they say people eat with their eyes first and I hoped that for V the first impression would be the last one.

 

V loved it- a lot! Proof..u ask? Look at the pics at the end. Its still too early to say whether he is a mushroom convert, but well, its safe to say that he will happily eat this dish again.

It does use a lot of cream though- but luckily, I had just one small packet of cream, and thus could not use the whole amount asked for. It still turned out great.

(P.S. : V got me those flowers!:))

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