Friday, February 24, 2017

Where does time fly? and one more Edamame dip

Two whole months into the new year - really where does time fly? It has been good times in our Portland kitchen.
We ended the year with a trip to Guatemala. Beautiful and diverse country, great food, great weather and; I so wish I hadn't come back. We mainly stuck to the tourist circuit: Tikal, Antigua and Panajachel.  Tikal was by far my favorite. The forests were lush and to see the Mayan ruins poking through was quite something else. We splurged on tours with an archaeologist who is also a great storyteller and it was fascinating to listen to the story of the rise and the fall of the Maya and their understanding of  Astronomy and science. We toured Tikal and Yaxha and got drenched in the glorious tropical rain. Three days was too short; I could have stayed a few more and toured more sites.
Ruins at Tikal

Anitgua was  all cobblestone streets, colonial buildings and a festive atmosphere for Christmas. We took in colorful parades, beautifully decorated altars and great music. Christmas Eve was a partye! We went to a beautiful  late night service at the church. And then had to walk around, waiting for our host family to get back because we couldn't figure out how to operate the lock to our apartment. Long day, we decide to hit the sack and they tell us we HAVE to join them for the fireworks. What a sight it was! Antigua is in a canyon. The night sky was ablaze with fireworks, from the surrounding towns on the hill. Then we were ready to hit the sack, but we were asked to join the family for fruit punch and tamales..
Moral of the story: try to stay with a family  when visiting new country
Church in Jocotenango

Christmas Eve procession

Altar in Guatemala City

Christmas Day procession
Restaurant where we (and Bill Clinton) ate Pepian

Panajachel is the kind of place where you go to do nothing. The lake and the mountains are beautiful. The streets are crowded with vendors. There are coffee shops where one can sit and play chess.

The beginning of the year started with a massive parcel of food from my parents, followed by more food from my aunt and then followed by even more food that my cousin couldn't finish on his own!
I feel very lucky!

I do have a recipe to share. It is an easy flavorful edamame dip- sandwich spread, thin it use it as a pasta sauce, layer it between 2 tortillas and make an un- quesadilla..

Edamame and roasted Poblano dip

(fills 2 8 oz mason jars, can be frozen)

3 Poblano peppers
1/2 bag  frozen shelled  edamame(the standard is a 12 oz bag)
1 clove garlic peeled
1/2 a bunch of cilantro stem and leaves
juice of a lime (add to taste)
salt to taste
1-2 tsps of olive oil
water to thin

Roast the Poblanos directly on a gas flame, rotating until the skin is charred all over. If you don't have a gas stove, put it under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes and turn to blacken all over. Put the poblanos in a bowl and cover with a lid and allow to steam. While you are waiting for the Poblanos to cool, cook the Edamame and the garlic in a tiny bit of water( stove top or microwave).
Once the Poblanos are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.
De- stem the Poblanos and add it along with the cooked Edamame to the blender/food processor. Add the Cilantro, lime juice and salt and pulse/blend till you have a mostly smooth paste with some chunks. Add water to thin (if needed) and blend again.
Transfer to a container and top with the Olive oil.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Used books and recipes

I have a thing with used book stores. You enter one  and you are  transported to a land of possibilities - hit with that delicious smell  of old books and visions of hidden stories waiting to be discovered.  A name scribbled, an inscription, an old bookmark left in the book seem to tell you a story in parallel with the one you are reading. One of the books I found recently had a hand scribbled recipe for a marinara sauce in it.

I hit the jackpot with three good reads this month all picked up at used book stores. 

Blue boy - tells the story of Kiran, growing up in an Indian- American household in Ohio Cincinatti and his struggle to belong. He doesn't fit into any of the existing cliques - the indian kids crowd or the crowd at school. The story is told with a gentle humor without ever making Kiran's pain feel discounted

This book moved me deeply - it is beautifully written without ever feeling pretentious

Pigs can't fly - Another book that talks about belonging and identity. Turtle springs into the limelight after helping rescue .. In Hoover Dam. The Cherokee nation discovers that she is adopted illegally and begins pursuing a return.

The dinner - Two brothers meeting for dinner; seems innocent enough. The book unfolds like a play through the dinner courses each revealing a new layer to the story.  It is dark and funny at times.

If any of you reading this are interested in any of the books above; leave me a comment and I'll be happy to mail it to you. All I ask is that you  pass it along to someone else after you read and help in prolonging a book's life

What's been cooking - a lot of recipes from other sites. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and hope to be posting more frequently next year.

Carrot Halwa
Jam Tarts (with homemade jam, made in a 9 inch tart tin)
Ginger bread with fresh ginger
Red wine caramel sauce
Fruit crisp bars (made with homemade jam again instead of the fruit)
Banana bread- my current favorite
Seeded banana bread
Butternut squash soup
Za'atar potatoes
Raagi mudde and saaru

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cake for breakfast

I had a good week - a really good one that I have to tell everybody about. I actually managed to read a book- which was not a cookbook, not a young adult novel, not a graphic novel. It is called 'The Free' and is written by Willy Vlaughtin. The book talks about war by following the lives of people that are indirectly impacted by it. The writing is simple; no convoluted sentences and so moving. There is a beauty in the simplicity. The book will leave you moved and filled with hope.

And then I  fed my family cake for breakfast.
 Whoever came up with the concept is a genius. Bake a cake in a loaf pan, call it a bread and you get to eat it for breakfast.
This ginger loaf falls into that category.  If you have the patience you could bake it in a muffin pan. It is not too sweet and has the warming heat of ginger.

Ginger loaf - adapted from Orangette

I have adapted the instructions to make this a one bowl + 1 skillet cake

One (~3-ounce) piece of unpeeled ginger root to make a heaping 1/4 c of chopped ginger
 ¾ cup  sugar
 2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
 1/2 cup olive oil
  1 1/4  cup non dairy milk + 2tsp apple cider vinegar
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 ½ tsp. salt
 ¾ tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Heat oven to 375 deg F
Grease a loaf pan with olive oil

Chop the ginger finely(should look like rice grains) either by hand or in a food processor. If you are using a food processor; remember to pulse. You don't want ginger puree.

Measure out 3/4 cup of sugar into your mixing bowl. Take out a couple of tablespoons and combine it with the ginger in a skillet (or if you are feeling lazy, use the microwave). Cook on a low flame till the sugar liquifies and turn off the heat.
Zest the lemons/ lime into the mixing bowl and rub it in with a fork, and inhale...aromatherapy.
Add the oil, the milk+vinegar and whisk really well.
Now measure and dump the flour on top of  the whisked liquids.
Add the salt, baking powder and the baking soda and distribute in the flour. Mix with the liquid ingredients  just until blended.
Add the ginger and give it one final whisk
Dump into greased loaf pan
Bake for 35 to 40 mins.

Cool in pan for 10 mins and then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Brew yourself a cup of tea and cut a slice and enjoy.

Use part or all whole wheat flour - if using all whole wheat; up the milk by a quarter cup
Oil - Olive oil imparts a lovely taste; but vegetable or canola oil works fine too
Sugar - Turbinado gives the best results. White is ok too. Next time I am trying it with Jaggery.

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