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Vegetables in Spinach Sauce

15 Oct

 

Sometimes I miss those days while I was in England to study. I went with all the preconcieved notions about the britishers being snoot and England not being so friendly country to be in. But still I made the decision to go there rather than any other country.  To be really honest, while I lived there I actually fell in love with country. I found it a bit similar to India.

The weather, the food and their accent were the most delightful things. India’s quite diverse in its food culture, Britain is nowhere close but I was still impressed with the diversity they had. Mostly there are more of migrated foreign residents so the restaurant variety was pleasing to see from Thai, Chinese, Portuguese, Lebanese to Korean, American, Japanese etc. Food and the people around always bring warmth. I wonder why Britain is considered to be one of the rude countries or not very friendly. My experience there has always been overwhelming. I love their accent, it’s somewhat like India that the dialect and accent varies as you go from north to south.  The people are certainly very helpful and also speak a very polite language.

Weather being the most unpredictable was fun to see. The summers were warm and lots of sunshine, an ideal time to hit the beach. On the contrast the winters were dark and gloomy with very little sunshine. However, the fall was usually unpredictable sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny and moments of chilliness. So often we would get drenched in the rain or catch the chilly winds while walking back home. After all that walk in the most unpredictable weather, nothing could beat a home cooked meal.

So I often made a bake which wasn’t too difficult and also quick. I visited my aunt while I was studying there and she used to make the most amazing bakes. My fondness for bakes grew even more. The best she made was a cauliflower and cheese bake. There is alot of creative bakes you can make with alot of combinations of the vegetables. Either  you can put all the vegetables or can make specific bake such as broccoli and potato bake, or corns in spinach sauce, or mushroom, corn and zucchini bake. What I mean to tell you is that you can do experiments with all sort of things.

There has been a desire to make a nice creamy spinach sauce. I looked around a few recipes but honestly I followed my instincts. When I actually made this recipe I realized my mum used to make chicken balls in spinach sauce which tasted really yum. Maybe it wasn’t a replicate but the bake turned out to be good too.

So, at first I washed the spinach thoroughly and shredded it nicely and kept it aside for a while so the water drains out completely.

spinach bake

Then, putting a teaspoon of oil in the pan, I put the spinach and cooked on a low flame. I let it wilt. Then, let it cool down and churned it in the grinder. Dont worry about the quantity it will now seem the half of you had initially taken but it is enough to give it a great taste and colour to the dish.

spinach bake

Meanwhile, I put some butter with refined flour and some milk to make white sauce.

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Seasoning is essential in the white sauce, and then put the pureed spinach in the sauce. Let it boil.

spinach bake

Stir stir stir!!

spinach bake

Throw the peas!!

spinach bake

 

Add corns  to the sauce. Then simmer for 2  minutes carefully keeping in mind the thick consistency. Mix well and keep aside.

spinach bake

 

Sauté the carrots and beans.

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spinach bake

Boil the potatoes and keep aside.

spinach bake

Now grease an oven proof baking dish.

spinach bake

Put the potatoes as the bed for the vegetables,

spinach bake

now add the sautéed vegetables, carrots and beans.

spinach bake

Pour the spinach sauce

spinach bake

and garnish with cheese.

spinach bake

Throw in the preheated oven 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.

spinach bake

Eat Hot tastes delicious with garlic bread!!

Ingredients:

1 cup shredded spinach, nicely washed

2 cups milk

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp refined flour

2 boiled potatoes

½ cup corns

½ cup peas

1 cup beans chopped

1 carrot chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

2 cubes grated cheese

 

Method:

  1. Wash the spinach and drain it well. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Heat a tsp of vegetable/ canola oil and put in the spinach and let it wilt. Add the garlic.
  2. Cool the spinach and grind it in the mixer. Keep aside.
  3. Heat butter in a pan, add the flour and the milk. Season it with salt and pepper. Let it boil.
  4. Add the spinach. Mix it nicely.
  5. Add the corns and the peas. Stir and remove from heat.
  6. Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius. Boil potatoes and keep aside.
  7. Sautee carrots and beans. Keep aside.
  8. Grease an oven proof baking dish.
  9. Lay the potatoes in the dish, then put a layer of beans and carrots.
  10. Pour the spinach sauce.
  11. Put some grated cheese and put in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for 20 minutes.

 

spinach bake

 

 

 

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Mascarpone & Pesto Chicken with Grilled Bell Peppers

17 Sep

I love all the seasons but this time of the year is my favorite; when the summers are going and winters are setting in. The weather in between these seasons is wonderful when there is sprinkle of rain. When the weather is good, a tempting meal is always essential. While I sipped into my tea last evening with this pleasant weather, I wondered what exciting I could make. Nothing could beat a creamy soft chicken, freshly baked in my oven.

So I  had actually bought mascarpone long time back and had been wondering what savory dish I could make with it. Making tiramisu or a cheesecake is a standard thing to do. But I really wanted to try to be innovative. So trying these flavors with the chicken was a wonderful idea. Also, I added some grilled bell peppers which always go along well with a baked dish. Another wonderful thing about trying this chicken was I didn’t wanted to pan fry or cook it. I wanted to bake it! Let me tell those you haven’t tried baking a chicken, it’s actually the most easy thing to do.

So firstly I washed 3-4 pieces of chicken breast…..

Pesto Chicken

Then I mixed the mascarpone cheese, homemade pesto and season it with salt and pepper. Let it rest aside….

Pesto chicken

Slit the chicken breast and put the pesto mixture…

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Drizzle some olive oil on the chicken and season with salt, pepper and oregano…

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Put the bell peppers and season them and oil them… Cover the chicken fillets with breadcrumbs and put in a well greased shallow dish…

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Bake it for 20-25 mins at 180 degree celcius…

pesto chicken

 

Serve oozing hot with some crispy bread….

 

Here is the recipe:

Preparation Time: 15 mins

Baking Time: 25- 30 mins

Serves: 4 person

Ingredients:

4 chicken breast fillet

3 tbsp mascarpone cheese

1 cup Pesto sauce

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cubed yellow bell pepper

1/2 cubed red bell pepper

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius/ gas 6.
  2. Mix together the pesto and mascarpone. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside.
  3. Use a small sharp knife to make a slit along the side of each chicken breast to form a pocket. Fill carefully a quarter of the pesto mixture into each chicken breast pockets.
  4. Brush a little oil about 1 tsp all over the chicken breast and season it well with salt, pepper and oregano.
  5. Tip the breadcrumbs onto a large plate and season it with salt and pepper. Place each breast on the plate and press all over with the breadcrumbs.
  6. Place the chicken and bell peppers in a lighly oiled shallow dish. Drizzle over some remaining oil.
  7. Cook in the oven for 20-25 mins until the chicken starts to turn golden ans is cooked through and serve with a crusty bread.

 

Vegetable-Egg Fried Rice

8 Jul

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” -Oscar Wilde

I came across this quote by Oscar Wilde which really made me stop and think. I actually paused and thought what he actually meant by it. It is the mere importance of FOOD. All of us eat food to live. But there are few (like us, who totally indulge in food) who savour the taste and relish their each meal. In a fast paced society, where everyone is competitive and busy in their chores and work, I would suggest take out time for your meals where you enjoy it.

“As I can’t stand people who donot take food seriously” -Oscar Wilde

A thoughtful meal can actually win anyone’s heart. A food has such a deep connection with  our soul. The time taken to think and prepare the meal actually puts lot of your concern, love, positivity towards the food prepared. There is no one who denies the effort and the love with which you cook. So go ahead and make someone feel special and feel loved and create something exotic!!

The fact that I love food soo much is because I can show my love for people around me through my food and it also gives me a chance to explore the creativity in me. So there are many time when I create my own recipies ad I am thrilled. This vegetable fried rice is one of them.

rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped yellow bell peppers

3 scrambled egg

1 chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped french beans

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp minsed garlic

2-3 chopped white  (part) spring onion

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 tsp soya sauce

1 tsp red chilli sauce

1 tbsp vinegar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup uncooked rice

1 3/4 cup water

1 tsp olive oil

salt

Method:

  1. Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water. Drain the rice well in a sieve.
  2. In a medium, heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, combine 1 3/4 cup water, the rice and a bit of olive oil and salt. Bring to boil over high heat. As soon as water is boiling, lower the heat to simmer and cover. Cook at a gentle simmer until the water is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 12 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, undisturbed with the lid on, for atleast 5 minutes and for as long as 30 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the rice gently with a fork. Keep aside.
  4. Mix the vinegar, red chili sauce, soya sauce and salt. Keep aside.
  5. Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Add onions, when transparent add garlic. Gradually add carrot and beans. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Add the scrambled egg.
  6. Now add the rice in 3 batches. When you add for the first time, mix the rice carefully with the vegetables (not breaking the rice). The second time you add, pour the vinegar mixture evenly all over and add red bell peppers. Mix carefully. Finally when you add rice, mix along the yellow bell peppers and the scallions and mix it carefully.
  7. Serve hot!

 

 

 

Rosemary and Garlic Chicken

7 Jun

Some how I have been really willing to use the flavor of rosemary in my food. So my recent trip to the grocery store demanded me to bring this new herb rosemary. It usually goes well with meat and chicken. So I decided to go with chicken. Somehow I enjoy using herbs in my cooking as it gives a very refreshing flavor.

Rosemary has some great health benefits such as it helps in cancer prevention, improving memory, pain relief,  mood elevator, digestive problems, and immune booster. Not only it is good for health but its pine-like aroma and pungent flavor goes well with chicken, lamb, pork, salmon and tuna dishes.

chicken rosemary

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 lemon slices

10 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

1 complete bone-in chicken

2 potatoes

Method:

  1. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, rosemary leaves, salt, and black pepper. Stir it vigorously.
  2. Clean the chicken. Pat dry. Add the emulsified mixture to the chicken. Rub the mixture well with the chicken.
  3. Add cut potatoes and slices of lemon.
  4. Put a foil on a baking tray. Place the chicken, lemon and potatoes well.
  5. Grill the chicken for 30-40 minutes.

 

rosemary chicken

 

Verdict: Flavors are great with lemon and rosemary. Serve it instantly out of the grill. The flavors are great and also appreciated by young children.

 

Lebanese: Chicken Shawarma

2 Jun

Lebanese cuisine is one of the popular in Eastern and Western world. The most popular dish is Shawarma. The one I am sharing with you today is chicken shawarma, if you a vegetarian you can easily replace chicken with cottage cheese.

If you usually wonder what you would like to eat as a super, yet low fat. This is a great recipe to try out. I must share with you that, this is something I often make when JS and I are on a low fat diet. The dip I use with this one is very nutritious as it contains Sesame. It is easy to cook and the marinade can be prepared a day in advance too. Sometimes Lebanese spice might not be available in your nearest store, so I also suggest Chinese Five spice to use it as a replacement. The result would be the same as the components of the spices are quite similar.

When I first made this recipe, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. When I saw the final result, it was at par or even better what we usually eat at the restaurant.

 

shawarma ingredients

Serves 2

Ingredients:

250 gm boneless chicken

2 pita bread

some tahini dip

some arabic pickle

Marinade

1 tsp vinegar/ lemon juice

1 tsp lebanese spice/ chinese five spice

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 cup thick yogurt

1 well beaten egg

1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tomato-sliced

1 onion-sliced

Method:

  1. Slice the chicken into long thin pieces.
  2. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a bowl. Add chicken and keep aside for atleast 4 hours or more in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add chicken along with the marinade. Stir fry for 4-5 mins till a little golden brown from some sides. Cook for 3-4 mins or till tender.
  4. Cut each piece of pita bread horizontally into half. Warm the pita bread in a pan.
  5. Spread 1 tsp of tahini paste in the pita pocket. Add the cooked chicken.
  6. Serve with Arabic Pickle.

 

shawarma

 

Tahini Dip

29 May

You could serve Tahini dip with wafers, pita bread or in chicken shawarma rolls. It consists of Sesame which is very nutritious.  Not only are sesame seeds an exellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nuttrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sasamin and sasamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholestrol-lowering effect in humans, and prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
tahini dip

Ingredients

1/2 cup sesame seeds

4 tsp oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup curd

1 garlic flake

3 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste in a mixer. Serve as a dip.

 

Green Thai Curry

16 May

Green Thai curry has always been one of my favorites whenever I go to dine out. The mere taste of basils,and  kaffir lime leaves is piquant. Usually I used to make the paste from scratch but since these days alot of us prefer quick cooking, I tried the paste. The Real Thai (brand) products available in the market (not very expensive) are quite good in terms that they are tasteful. Usually a sachet is better for a one time use, firstly they are not as expensive as the jars and secondly, the jars might get fungus too soon (depends how often you would cook or eat thai food).

Thai green curry

Ingredients:

1 sachet Real Thai Green Curry

1 coconut milk tin (400 ml)

500 g boneless chicken

100 g mushrooms

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 inch galangal (thai ginger)

1 stalk lemon grass chopped

5-6 kaffir lime leaves

1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

salt to taste

1 tsp sugar

 

Method:

  1.  Wash and clean the chicken. Pat dry. Keep aside.
  2. In a pan put 2 tsp vegetable oil and add the green curry paste. Saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the boneless chicken. Cook till 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, galangal and chopped lemon grass. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk. Simmer the gas and stir a bit. Add sugar.
  5. Add salt, basil and lime leaves.
  6. Serve with boiled rice.

 

 

 

 

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