Continental Fare · Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Ratatouille / Confit Byaldi – The favourite dish of a rat with a whisk and a dream!

Ratatouille

When this Disney Pixar movie was released I was astounded at the very thought that was the centre of the entire movie – Remy`s burning passion for cooking inspired by his Chef Gusteau and his astounding sense of smell. He always cooked with his sense of smell and that was something very magical and endearing about it. The expression of the famous food critic Anton Ego when  has a bite of the Ratatouille whipped up by Remy is  one of extreme happiness as he is immediately reminded of his mom`s cooking.  The movie ends on a happy note with the food critic Anton Ego funding a new bistro run by Remy the rat and some more of his friends. The climax of the movie is by far my favourite, where Remy patiently slices all the vegetables in the mandoline, splatters sauce on the base of the dish and arranges all the sliced veggies in the baking dish. I had never noticed that she does cover the dish with parchment paper which is what the recipe calls for. The movie has been outlined with such tremendous detail and capture new details every time I watch the movie!

Since I day I watched the movie, I had been wanting to taste the original version of this dish and I must push that dream to a little later until I can visit my dream destination – the City of Love – Paris. This weekend I found myself with all the ingredients I wanted except of course the eggplants. I still decided to go with my heart and made it yesterday for my family and they loved it. Every bite was filled with the bite of the crunchy veggies baked in the aromatic tomato sauce and pillows of cheese ravioli! Bon Appetite!!!

INGREDIENTS:

FOR TOMATO SAUCE:

5  Medium Tomatoes.

1 Garlic Pod.

1 Medium Onion.

1 Small Carrot.

1 Tsp Salt.

1 Tsp Brown Sugar.

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar.

1 Tsp Dried/ Fresh Basil.

For the Ratatoiuille Base Sauce:

1 Onion.

1 Garlic.

1 Tsp Oregano.

2 Tsp Parsley.

1 Bay Leaf.

2-3 Cups of the Prepared Tomato Sauce.

For the Vegetable Layer:

1 Zucchini  sliced in to thin circles.

1 Yellow Squash sliced in to thin circles.

1 Japanese Eggplant sliced in to thin circles.

1 Carrot Sliced into thin circles.

1 Red/Yellow/Green Peppers for colour. ( I did not have them so my version was made without them.)

Salt & Pepper to season the veggies.

PREP WORK:

  • Arrange all the sliced veggies on a large tray and season them with salt and pepper.
Veggies lined up for seasoning!
Veggies lined up for seasoning!

PREPARATION:

  • Take the first six ingredients and make a slightly chunky basic tomato sauce. Add your favourite herbs – Basil / Oregano etc.
  • Simmer the chunky tomato sauce over a medium flame for about 20 minutes until  some of the water evaporates and it becomes slightly “saucy”!!!
  • In another wok, add 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and then pop in the herbs listed under “Tomato Base” – bay leaf, parsley and some oregano. When they fry  in the oil, add t he garlic and the onions.  Allow to brown only slightly and then add your prepared “Ratatouille Base Sauce”. Give it a quick stir and let them all come together.
  • Take a shallow baking dish and firstly add a layer of the prepared Ratatouille Sauce.Spread them around the base of the dish.
  • Arrange the sliced veggies atop the sauce concentrically alternating each of them with the other . This does give it a dash of colour and symmetry! You might be left with a few more of the sliced veggies, but that’s fine.

IMG_3322

  • Make sure that the slices peek out from the sauce and they are not dunked in it completely.
  • Season one last time with a twist of your pepper mill and sprinkle a few drops of balsamic vinegar over the top.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F in the mean time.
  • Before placing the Ratatouille inside the oven, many recipes call for  lining the inside of the dish with parchment paper  but I didnt have any.
  • I went ahead and popped it in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until the veggies are well cooked but not limp. They should not be allowed to brown.
  • I served my Ratatouille as a side for Cheese Ravioli in Tomato Sauce.

IMG_3324

Mexican Cuisine. · Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Vegetable Enchiladas.( Corn Tortilla rolled with filling baked in Chilli Pepper Sauce/ Tomato Salsa)

Ingredients:

1 Medium Onion sliced thin.

2 Carrots sliced thin.

1 Medium Bell Pepper.

2 Medium Zucchini.

1/2 Cup Corn.

1 Bunch Cilantro.

1/2 Cup Salsa.

1 Can of Chilli Enchilada Sauce./ Tomato Salsa.

8 Spinach Tortillas. (Plain ones can be used too)

Handful of Mexican Cheese.

2 Tsp Mexican Blend Seasoning.

Half  a Lemon`s Juice.

PREPARATION:

  • Slice all the veggies thin and place them on a greased tava . Sprinkle salt and pepper and mexican blend seasoning and mix in well.
  • We do this step instead of roasting in an oven as that might make the veggies soft, while we want to retain its crunchiness.
  • Roast  the carrots, zuchinni and the onions until they are brown and  carmelized and delicious.
  • Remove from tava  allow to cool and sprinkle chopped cilantro and  lemon juice.

  • Keep the greased baking pan ready and layer the base with the enchilada sauce / tomato salsa.
  • You can use the chilli sauce which is a light green colour, or as a variation you could use the store bought medium chunky salsa.
  • Now take all the tortillas and warm them on a tava like you would do a roti and set them aside.
  •  Take a tortilla, scoop out some guacamole and spread it all over the face of it.
  • This would serve as the base on which we would add the flavoured roasted veggies .

  • Scoop out the veggies – roasted onions, carrots, zuchinni, corn, cheese and cilantro on to the tortilla and tightly roll the tortilla and place it face down on the sauce in the pan.

  • Continue and finish with all the tortillas and place them one after the other in the pan.
  • Sprinkle some more cilantro over the rolled tortillas and pour out all the remaining salsa/ chilli sauce.
  • Add mexican cheese and some salsa and bake for 30 minutes until the tortillas are all cooked well and the cheese bubbles.

  • Serve hot with refried beans and guacamole.
  • I made Enchiladas with 8 tortillas and froze  three portions for lunch for TH.
  • Typically you could serve them one of them on a platter with the following sides:

Refried Beans.

Sour Cream.

Guacamole.

Shredded Lettuce.

Roasted Veggies.

  • This would make a filling meal by itself as it has a variety of ingredients with various textures. Your share of carbs, protein, and vitamins all in one go!
  • I made two batches – One with the chilli pepper sauce and the other with regular medium tomato salsa. Both had very different tastes and textures yet with all the gooodness rolled in one!

Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Healthy Low Cal Cracked Wheat & Oats Pongal. (Diabetic Friendly Recipes)

Healthy Low Cal Cracked Wheat Pongal.

It has been a constant endeavour to enrich the quality of the food we eat, by reducing unwanted fat, cholestrol, calories, and increasing the fibre, protien and nutrients. After reading up about the benefits of Cous Cous , Quinoa , Bulgur Wheat and Cracked Wheat, I have been waiting to experiment by substituting rice with these protien and fibre rich ingredients.

WHAT IS CRACKED WHEAT???

Cracked Wheat  is a wheat product made from whole raw wheat kernels which are crushed or cut into smaller pieces. There are a large number of uses for cracked wheat, and the food makes a popular dietary supplement in many cultures. Many grocery stores carry cracked wheat, which should be stored in a cool dry place until use so that it does not go rancid. If not used within one year, cracked wheat should be discarded.

A similar product, Bulgur wheat, is also made by cracking wheat kernels. Bulgur, however, is made from wheat kernels which are steamed and toasted before cracking, so that they develop a rich, nutty flavor. Bulgur also requires minimal cooking, since it is already partially cooked. Cracked wheat, on the other hand, uses whole raw wheat berries.

Because cracked wheat is made from whole wheat berries, it carries a great deal of nutrition and fiber since it includes the fiber and nutrient rich outer bran  and germ of the wheat. For this reason, it is often added to healthy diets, especially those eaten by people who are concerned about heart health. Other whole cracked grains may be used as well, for variation in flavor and nutrition.

There are a wide range of uses for cracked wheat. Many people use it as a base, like couscous serving vegetables or meats alongside it. It can also be used in grain pilafs, and many recipes for multi-grain pilafs call for cracked wheat, since it is fluffy and flavorful. Many people also include cracked wheat in multi-grain bread,pancakes, upma, dosa , and other grain dishes. The crushed wheat berries may be soaked or partially cooked when they are included in recipes such as bread, to ensure that they are fully cooked when the food is served.

COOKING WITH CRACKED WHEAT:

As with all grains, cracked wheat should be washed before use, to remove residual dirt and other compounds which may have adhered to the wheat during growing, processing, and shipping. The easiest way to do this is to measure the wheat out into a fine grained colander, running water over it and gently stirring it with a spatula or by hand to make sure that each grain is washed. Soaking the washed cracked wheat will also make it cook more quickly.  Cooked cracked wheat can be stored in a snug container under refrigeration for several days for use in salads, pancakes, and other foods.

INGREDIENTS:

Cracked Wheat + Oats + Moong Dal.

1 1/2 Cup Cracked Wheat.

1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats.

3/4 Cup Moong Dal.

6 Cups Water.

2 Tsp Pepper Cummin Powder.

1/2 Cup Finely Grated Carrots. (Optional).

Salt.

Seasoning:

1 Tsp Ghee.

8-9 Whole Black Pepper.

1 Tsp Jeera.

2 Tsp Pepper Jeera Powder.

Handful Cashews.

1 Tsp Jeera.

PREPARATION:

  • Dry roast the cracked wheat on a dry tava until you get the aroma. Set aside on to a cooker vessel.
  • Dry roast the oats also on the tava and grind to a coarse texture. Add to the cracked wheat.
  • Dry roast the moong dal and add to the same vessel.
  • In a seasoning ladle, add a spoon of ghee and when hot, pop in the whole pepper, 2 Tsp finely chopped ginger and curry leaves. When all of them are well fried, add this to the ingredients in the vessel.

Seasonings...
  • Lastly add the finely grated carrots, salt and 6 cups of water.
  • Stir in well and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Allow the  steam to completely vanish and then open the cooker.
  • Take a flat bottomed pan and add 2 spoons of ghee. When melted, add curry leaves, whole black pepper, jeera,  1 tsp pepper jeera powder, 2 tsp grated / chopped ginger and fry for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the cooked craked wheat + oats + moong mixture to the kadai and mix in well.
  • IF you feel that its hardened up a little, simply add some milk to the kadai so it will loosen up the pongal and make it mushy.
  • Add sufficient salt and the remaining 1 Tsp Pepper jeera powder and mix in well.
  • When the Pongal has come together, add one more spoon of ghee and switch of flame.
  • Keep closed to lock in the flavours and serve Hot with Chettinad Onion Tomato Chutney

HINTS:

  1. Moderate the amount of water depending on the graininess of the Cracked Wheat and the rolled oats. If you use Quick Cooking Oats, it hardly takes any time to cook. If you feel that the water is a little too much, simply let it stand for a few minutes and this will harden up the moong dal. Then proceed to make the Pongal.
  2. If its too thick, simply add milk, as mentioned in the post to loosen it up.

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.
Italian Cuisine. · Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious.

Garbanzo Lettuce Salad with simple Olive Oil Dressing.

Garbanzo Lettuce Sald with Olive Oil Dressing.

A very effective alternative to an evening meal filled with rotis, rice, subzis filled with oil onion and veggies, etc is of course a salad. A salad renders itself very different based on the ingredients, the dressing and the garnish  and instantly provides with 2-3 servings of fresh raw veggies. Romanie Lettuce would always be a main ingredient in my salads at home, as its  an excellent source of vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene), vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, manganese, and chromium.

ROmanie Lettuce also scores over iceberg lettuce in terms of having TEN TIMES more beta carotene and lutien and 4 times more folate, apart from scoring higher than Icerberg Lettuce in every other nutriet.

  1. Romaine’s  Vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green leaf that can be added to your daily intake.
  2. The fiber in Romaine lettuce adds another plus in its column of heart-healthy effects. In the colon, fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. This forces the body to make more bile, which is helpful because it must break down cholesterol to do so. This is just one way in which fiber is able to lower high cholesterol levels.
  3. Equally beneficial to heart health is Romaine’s  folic acid content.
  4. Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, manganese and chromium. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and the minerals potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus.

Additional Information:

Always look for tightly packed Romanie Lettuce Heads that are completely green and show no signs of wilting.

Just before use, wash in cold water, pat with a clean kitchen towel and discarding the lower white portion, cut in to bite sized pieces.

Wrap  unsed cleaned lettuce in brown paper/ tissue and store in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Bunch Romanie Lettuce .

1 cup cooked Garbanzo beans.

Handful of chopped Olives.

Monterery Jack Cheese with Jalapeno 1/8 cup. (Garnish).

Dressing:

1/8 Cup Olive Oil.

3 Garlic Cloves Chopped.

Salt.

Freshly Cracked Pepper as per taste.

Dried Oregano – 2 Tsp.

PREPARATION:

  • Roughly chop the romanie lettuce and pop in to the mixing bowl.
  • Add cooked garbanzo (white channa) , chopped olives salt and pepper.
  • In a small cup add the olive oil and to it the finely chopped garlic.
  • To the olive oil, also add cracked pepper and dried oregano.
  • Allow the various flavours to infuse in to the olive oil.
  • Just before serving, add the olive oil dressing to the chopped veggies.
  • Garnish with grated monterey cheese.

HINTS:

I prefer to keep all salads simple and not add too many ingredients and over power so many tastes.

Use of cheese is optional and the type of cheese also depends on the availability. Substitute with mozarella, parmesan or asiago.