Italian Cuisine. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Bruschetta topped with Roasted veggies,Arugula and Pecorino & Parmesan cheese – Super Healthy & Yum!!!

I have always loved ciabatta bread in any form as I simply adore rustic variations of bread and bread alone! Every time I peek in to Trader joes my favourite store in the neighbourhood, I never fail to pick a Ciabatta and my favourite Pizza Dough made with whole wheat.

Ciabatta is an Italian white bread  made with wheat flour and yeast. The loaf is somewhat elongated, broad and flattish. It’s name is the Italian for slipper. There are many variations of ciabatta. Like many artisan breads, ciabatta bread tastes best when it is fresh. People should try and purchase it freshly baked on the day they intend to use it, although wrapping it in plastic can help it to last longer. However, plastic wrapping will tend to make the bread slightly soggy, which can be an undesirable or unacceptable trade-off. To refresh ciabatta bread which is slightly stale or soggy, it can be sprinkled with water and toasted in an oven immediately before serving. Otherwise, stale ciabbata bread can be allowed to go truly stale and turned into croutons. I simply love the lightness of this bread when toasted because of its airy texture. Ciabatta in its grilled form can also be used to make sandwiches / Paninis.

INGREDIENTS:

Half Loaf Ciabatta Bread.

1 Medium Red Onion diced thin and long.

1/4 Cup chopped Cremini Mushrooms.

1/4 cup chopped chinese eggplant.

1/4 cup chopped red peppers.

1/4 cup diced olives.

1/4 Cup Tangy Arkansas Tomatoes or Hierloom Tomatoes/ Tomatillos.

Bunch of Arugula Leaves. (Substitute with baby spinach leaves)

Handful of shredded Fontina cheese.

Handful of shredded Pecorino Romano Cheese.

Marinate Ingredients:

3-4 Cloves of Garlic.

1/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

1 Tsp Fresh/ Dried Basil.

Pinch of salt.

Fresh Cracked Pepper as per taste.

Chopped Cilantro Leaves.

PREPARATION:

  • Chop the veggies, mushrooms,cut the olives in to halves and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, add the ingredients for marination and toss it over the veggies. Allow to marinate for half hour at least.
  • Pour on to a baking tray and spread all the veggies all over the tray with your hands. This coats all the ingredients with the oil perfumed with the spices.
  • Roast in the oven preheated to 350 F for about 7-10 minutes or until the veggies are nicely roasted. Set aside.
  • Cut the Ciabatta bread lengthwise in to thin long strips. Line a tray with parchment and arrange all the slices on the tray.
  • Sprinkle each bread with salt and pepper and brush with extra virgin olive oil.

  • Bake at 400F for 7-10 minutes until almost crisp. Set aside to cool.
  • Peel a garlic clove and rub it all over the slightly roughened surface of the bruschetta bread. This perfumes the freshly baked bread with the garlic and gives it an extra flavour to the brischetta.
  • Now, place all the bruschetta slices on a baking tray. Line each of their surface with a spoon of marinara sauce. If not available, line with simple Tomato ketchup. This helps the topping to stick to the bread.
  • Now neatly place the roasted veggies over the bread smeared with marinara sauce.

  • Top the veggies with fresh arugula and finally sprinkle pecorino romano and delicious parmesan cheese.
  • Pop in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts and holds all the veggeis firmly.
  • Enjoy delicious Bruschetta topped with roasted veggies, arugula and cheeses with a bowl of your favourite Tomato Soup.
  • Sweet Heaven!!!

Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties.

GUEST POST – Tangy Tomato Porichcha Rasam.( Tomato broth with roasted spices simmered to perfection)

This post comes to  you straight from the middle of the world, all the way from Ghana, from a very good blogger friend and my guide in so many culinary aspects – Lata Raja.of Flavours & Tastes, ..Yes, lets hear it for her!!! I had always wanted the authentic tamil recipe for Poricha Rasam and I urged Lata to post it on Anubhavati for the Guest Blog Series. She felt it was way too simple for a Guest Post – But in many ways, the most tasty things in life are extremely simplistic. So here goes…the recipe for Poricha Rasam,. Try it and I am sure you`ll love its delicate flavours of tamarind, tomato and the zing from the roasted spices.

Porichcha rasam:

Porichcha rasam can be made quite easily as it does not involve soaking the tamarind and extracting pulp. Also the dhal used is far less in quantity, that you may use the more lighter water that surfaces on the top after the thick precipitate settles down, which we may eventually use for sambhar.
INGREDIENTS:
Tomatoes 2 large
Toor Dhal extract 300 ml ( pressure cooked thuvar dhal, mashed and water added to it)
Asafoetida powder a pinch
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste.
To be dry roasted and ground to a paste:
2 teaspoons channa dhal
3 pieces dry red chilli (adjust according to spice requirement)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
4-6 black pepper corns.
Tempering:
1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
few curry leaves.
Garnish
Fresh coriander leaves.
PREPARATION:
  • Boil tomatoes and remove the peel. Mash the  pulp and add to the dhal extract.
  • Add some more water and bring this to a boil with salt and turmeric powder added to it.
  • Add the ground paste and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Add asafoetida powder.
  • Remove from the stove top and temper with the ingredients listed.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped  coriander leaves.
  • Serve with hot steamed rice.
HINTS:
  • Optionally some coconut may be added to the grinding of the roasted spices to make a variety of Mysore rasam.
  • On days you dont have cooked toor dhal ready,  you may mix paruppu podi in water, if you have handy, and add to the tomatoes. In such a case, reduce the spice because the paruppu podi will have salt and spice in it.
  • For a more tangy taste, squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lime fruit after removing from the flame. Alternately you may make a small ball of tamarind and boil along with the tomatoes and remove the scum while pulping the tomatoes.
  • You may choose to grind only the channa dhal and coriander seeds along with red chillis and add the cumin powder and black pepper powder to the tempering.
I tried Lata`s version of Porichcha Rasam yesterday and loved the results. I did have loads of tomatoes leftover from the making of Delicious TOmato Thokku, which were slowly beginning to get over ripe. …I remembered Nupur`s event and I quickly tried Lata`s Poricha Rasam but made a few modifications though.
  • I used dilute tamarind water for a base as I prefer rasam with a little tang.
  • I also used “Arkansas Tomatoes” as i felt that they were almost close to the flavourful tangy tomatoes that you get in India. I was very pleased with the results.
  • I dry ground the dry roasted spices and added them to the toor-dhal-tomato water.
  • Aromatic and tang infused Porichcha Rasam was very delicious and comforting.
  • Served with Beans Poriyal and Ten  Minute Cucumber Kootu.

Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Summer Salad with Roasted Veggies – Cooking with Leftovers.

This weekend, I was intent on cleaning out the refrigerator. Period! Every time I ask my significant other for a particular ingredient, he meaningfully looks at me as if to say “Well, the pantry is bursting on its seams…And you want more spaghetti?”

“Well”, I answer, “what I have is Penne, but what I need for that delicious Mushroom Lasagna is definitely Lasagna Sheets….!!”

But no, this time I was  intent on my single minded goal, to clean out the refrigerator,,,,that pepper left over from my simple Capsicum Subzi, the mushrooms from the Mushroom Butter Masala, that I made on friday night along with parathas…and the Speckled Butter Beans in the freezer, which I love, to add to my protien zing! I also remembered Nupur`s event on Using Up all the ingredients lurking in the kitchen pantries. Although she wanted the recipe from a fellow blogger`s site, I liked the intention of cleaning up the pantry/fridge. The simple aim is to Use it or Lose it.

Here goes my simple summer salad with roasted veggies…Tons of flavour and loads of vitamins and protein packed goodness..all in one!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Bunch Romanie Lettuce.

3 Carrots sliced long.

1 Green Bell Pepper sliced long.

Handful of Black Olives.

Red Onions sliced long.

3 zucchini sliced in to thin pieces.

1/3 Cup Mushrooms.

1 Cup Speckled Butter Beans.

Parmesan Cheese to Garnish.

4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard.

4 Tbsp buttermilk.

1 Tbsp Honey.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash all the vegetables well to remove grit, dirt and any traces of wax or pesticides.
  • Cook the butter beans in the pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Pour just enough water to cover the butter beans inside the cooking vessel. Set aside to cool.
  • Chop the carrots, zucchini , Bell Peppers, Yellow Squash and Onions in to long pieces.
  • The zucchini, peppers and squash are all vegetables are can be easily roasted. The carrots on the other hand would take a little  more time, so it makes sense to chop the carrots slightly more thinner than the other veggies.
  • Place on a cookie sheet tray. Season with salt, black pepper, basil and drizzle Olive Oil and give it a quick mix with your fingers.
  • Roast in the oven at 375F for about 10 minutes or until the aroma of the roasted veggies wafts in the air.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Take the salad bowl and first add chopped Romanie lettuce.
  • Next add the roasted and cooled veggies ,add chopped olives,  and mushrooms.
  • Season with a little more salt and pepper and give a quick whisk.

DRESSING:

  • Combine Buttermilk Ranch, Dijon Mustard and honey( which is at room temperature) . Incorporate all the ingredients with a whisk or spoon and pour over the salad.
  • Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
Kid Friendly Recipes. · No Need of Onions!!! · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Yummy Mango Slices sprinkled with niceness!!!! – Street Foods & Snacks.

dsc00755

I really dont know whats with me and mangoes. I find gazillion ways and including mangoes in my dishes now and then. I remember, as a child in our earlier home in Chennai. my dad had planted a mango sapling when I was a baby!. By the time I was in high school, the mango tree used to give lovely green mangoes in the summer. They were not the greatest variety or the best tasting, but there is a certain pride in going in to your own backyard and plucking mangoes from a tree laden with them. There is an aroma to this freshness – the mango perfect and tight, with the milk oozing from the stalk, at the point where it has been severed from the tree. Amma used to make Avakkai pickle, Maavadus from the little ones and of course the regular Mangaa Curry. Summers in Chennai….beyond the heat, had so many memories for me…

One such recurring memory is the regular shopping visits to Nalli, Kumaran Silks etc in T.Nagar. All these store, entice you with their innumerable lovely breathtakingly woven silk sarees, but the mango vendors outside these stores, enticed me to go shopping!!! Amma would give me a firm look as if to say, “Come on, we`ve come all this way to finish Diwali shopping in such short time, and all you can think about is mangoes???” The shopping would be over and we would rejoice and run to the vendors. They would cut the mangoes in to lovely slim long slices right in front of your eyes and then cut out little patters on top to resemble a little crown made of sticks…..the mangoes would be so tender, they would bend in his arms. He would then roughly pull out a newspaper, dash a little of his secret-ingredient spice powder, and then swathe the mangoes over the powder and hand over the paper to us. Ditto treatment for the pineapple slices. There cannot be a word to describe the taste of those mangoes, wrapped in spice powder,shared with cousins, standing spell bound, in a crowded shopping area……

My effort to recreate the T.Nagar magic was pretty limited, although it does take me on those trips some times. The ingredients are simple and clear – loads of mangoes…

INGREDIENTS:

2 Mangoes cut in to thin slices.

1 spoon salt

1 spoon red chilli powder

A dash of hing

PREPARATION:

  • Combine the powders and set aside. Please alter the red chilli powder levels, if you think its soo spicy.
  • Arrange the sliced mangoes on a plate.
  • Sprinkle as desired and serve fresh.

Spiced Mango Slices are an anytime snack over at my place. Picnics are always a fun place to make them since they are so easy to assemble. They serve as a very simple yet novel starter snack, favourite among the kids and the adults alike…. Its our favourite movie time snack!!!

ENJOY!!!

Sending yummy mango to Shaheen`s favourite snack food event at her blogsite @ www.funandfoodcafe.com.

Reposting for this event.


Cakes / Pastries / Cookies/ Bread/Muffins. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Delicious Spinach & Cheese Savoury Muffins.

Muffins have always been a very Quick Fix snack for me , as all one needs to do is to decide whether its going to be a sweet or a savoury muffin. Once that hair plitting decision has been made, all that has to be done, is to quickly take a once over into the pantry to see the week`s leftover vegetables/ fruits. …and there the decision is made. In this case however, I wanted to incorporate spinach in my everyday menu, and hence the decision on the star ingredient. Everytime, spinach is paired best with some sort of cheese, t hat brings out the flavour of this leafy vegetable. I hd picked out a sharp cheddar cheese at Costco`s this weekend. I also has some of the medium spicy Monterey Jack Cheese left over from last time.  I wanted some more spice, and decided on adding some onions too…I love the smell of bread, pizza or anything baked with the goodness of onions…This was really a trial run, but I was very very happy with the results….and my daughter almost finished all the muffins, at our little  picnic by the lake. This post is specially for my good friend Priya…Here goes…

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour.

1/2 bunch spinach

1 onion

1 tsp salt

1 Tsp Dried Basil.

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese.

1/4 cup shredded Montery Jack Cheese.

Parmesan Cheese to Garnish over the Muffins.

1/2 cup margarine.

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Dash of Pepper.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the half bunch of spinach clean and pat dry with a cleam kitchen towel. Chop roughly.
  • In a mixer add the  roughly chopped onions first and then the roughly chopped spinach  and puree. Add minimal water only if needed.
  • As always, we start our process of baking with the wet ingredients. Melt the margarine and pour in to the mixing bowl.
  • Simultaneously power up your oven to “BAKE” at 375 F.
  • Use butter/margarine/oil to grease the muffin pan.
  • To the mixing bowl add the pureed spinach mixture and give it a whisk.
  • Add salt, dried basil, pepper and whisk again. If at this point, you feel that the mixture is way too thick, add a little water, say about 1/8 – 1/4 cup depending on the consistency.
  • In another container measure out the flour and add baking soda and baking powder. Mix it well.
  • Slowly add the flour to the puree in the bowl little by little.  When completely done, incorporate all the ingredients with a whisk by slow movements. Brisk stirrng would rob the batter of all the air, which is important to impart a spongy consistency to the muffins, in the absence of eggs.
  • Finally add the grated cheese. It could be simply cheddar, or a mixture of whatever cheeses you have on hand. The taste of the muffins, would be influenced by the taste of the type of cheese added.  let it be one with a medium sharp flavour like the Monterery, Sharp Cheddar, Provolone etc.
  • The final consistency of the batter should be almost like idli batter which does not run, but is not too firm.

  • Pour out equal amounts of batter on to the greased muffin plates, garnish a little parmesan cheese over each muffin  and pop in to the oven.
  • Bake for 12-18 minutes depending on the strength of the oven and the amount of batter poured in to each cup.

  • Enjoy the aroma of onions, herbs and cheese wafting in your entire kitchen.
  • Delicious and simple Spinach & Cheese Savoury Muffins are ready.

HINTS:

  1. Substitute the cheese with paneer for a vitamin and protien packed snack. Paneer has no inherent taste of its own, so you might miss out the original intented taste.
  2. For a sharper flavour, you could use half of spinach and half of arugula. Arugula has a peppery taste, so tone down the type of cheese used. Use a cheese thats more milder like mozarella, parmesan, or light cheddar.
  3. Leftover Muffins, could be cut in to circles crosswise and used as patties in sandwiches, panninis etc.
Rice Varieties.

Broad Bean & Green Beans Kadai Pulav.

Oh yes, you got it right….Broad beans and green beans together in this pulav make it bursting with nutrition and taste. Broad beans are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, potassium and iron. They also contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward and motivation system).They are highly nutritious and prove to be a powerful storehouse of many essential nutrients required by the body, especially phosphorus, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A and iron. In addition, the beans also find a respectable place in the legendary tales of different countries.

Broad Bean and Green Beans Pulav combines the best of the vegetables and rice to bring you a one pot meal filled with all goodness of fibre, nutrition, iron and carbohydrates.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Basmati Rice.

2 Cups Water.

A small blob of butter.

1/2 Cup of Broad Beans.

1/2 Cup French Cut Beans.

Salt to taste.

Turmeric.

To Roast & Grind to a Powder:


4  Tsp Dhania.

2 Tsp Jeera.

2 Tsp White Sesame Seeds.

2 Red Chillies.

Small Stick of Cinnamon.

5 Cloves.

Seasoning:

Mustard.

1 Tsp Somph / Shahjeera.

Curry Leaves.

4 Green Chillies Slit vertically.

Asfoetida.

Cashew.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the basmati rice and set it aside to soak for 10 – 20 minutes.
  • In a dry kadai, dry roast the ingredients specified. Allow to cool for a few minutes and powder to a medium coarse consistency.
  • Take a medium sized wok/kadai and add 2 spoons of ghee.  When hot, add mustard, somph, green chillies, curry leaves, asfoetida and fry for a few seconds.

  • Add the broad  beans and the french cut beans and stir for a few minutes.  Now add the ground powder masala to the veggies on the stove.
  • Since they have already been dry roasted, we would only need a few minutes for the powder to cook and coat the veggies.
  • Now add the washed rice to the kadai. Stir well until the rice grains are all coated with the powder masala.
  • Add a few spoons of chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Now add the 2 cups of water and mix well.
  • Transfer the entire contents to a electric rice cooker.
  • Add a blob of butter / a spoon of ghee to the cooker vessel. Stir and allow to cook.
  • When done, garnish with a few more spoons of chopped corriander and serve HO T with Cucumber Raitha.
Snacks & Tiffin Items

Easy Breezy Vegetable Cutlets –

Cutlets have always been fancy food for me even when we were little kids. I guess we all love fried foods and I was no exception. Whenever there used to be a chance to eat out, which used to be few and far between, my favourite orders would always be “cutlets” in a fast food restaurants, and Veggie Fried Rice for dinner or lunch. I never even  thought about altering it even once at any point of time in my life. I guess there were things that mom would never make at home, so it held its fancy for a long long time, as long as I got married and had my daughter!!!  My all time favourite cutlets were at Balaji Bhavan in T.Nagar and at Woodlands Drive In Restaurant on T.T.K Road, Chennai.

Recently, I realised the pleasure in cooking and serving food made at home, to our loved ones and decided that I had to make vegetable cutlets at home. Made with clean and fresh vegetables, and pure cooking oil, it is an unmistakably delicious fried treat, to be had with hot piping coffee on cold and rainy days!!! The list of ingredients could be long and winding, but it needs instant and quick assembly…more so with the help of modern day conveniences like microwave, food processor etc .

INGREDIENTS:

4 Medium Potatoes Boiled

1 small onion chopped

5 Green Chillies Chopped

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder

Pinch of Turmeric POwder

1 Beetroot Grated

2 Carrots Grated

1/2 cup peas.

1/2 cup tender green beans.

4 garlic pods finely chopped.

Ginger grated.

Fennel

Jeera

2 Tbsp Maida

Oil.

Handful of cashew

Pinch of Sugar

1 Tsp lemon Juice.

Bread Crumbs to completely coat the patties.

Cilantro Chopped.

PREPARATION:

  • Boil the potaotes for just one whistle with salt. Set aside.
  • Chop onions, garlic, ginger and chillies finely.
  • Grate carrots, beetroot and keep aside.
  • Take 2 bread slices and pulse it for a couple of seconds to get smooth bread crumbs.
  • Take grated  beans and peas and boil in microwave  for 4 minutes.
  • In a kadai add oil somph, jeera, green chillies, onions and saute.
  • Then  add turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and stir well.
  • Now add the boiled veggies,broken cashew pieces  and maida  and saute for a few minutes.
  • We do this to completely remove all moisture from the cutlet batter.
  • Now take the mashed potatoes in a abowl  and add the veggies that have been sauteed.
  • Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro.
  • Incorporate the mixture with your hands and make it to a homogenous consistency.
  • Make in to balls and pat it in to the bread crumbs mixture so it sticks on both sides.

  • From then on, one option is to deep fry in hot oil until the cutlets are well done.

  • Another healthier option is to shallow fry in the dosa pan until both sides are crisp and golden brown.
  • Serve HOT with sweet and tangy tamarind chutney or with Tomato Ketchup.