Monday, June 9, 2014

Rhubarb

It almost seems  mandatory to write about Rhubarb and to be excited about it  when early summer rolls around.  You might wonder, and  rightly so, what  the big fuss about this humble - vegetable? fruit?  is. It is hard even to classify it - the pinkish stalks of a plant. It can't be that everyone is excited about its tartness. I think it is something bigger: The humble Rhubarb is the harbinger of summer's bounty and that is why it is given this warm welcome. I will admit, reader that I too hold the Rhubarb dear - I consider it a good omen to start off preserving season with Rhubarb.
So what does one do with Rhubarb? other than pie. The most creative ideas I have come across from some of my favorite blogs.
- Mousse
-Scones
-Marmalade
or embrace the tartness and pickle those stalks (which I am dying to do)
I bought the Rhubarb because I told myself it was tradition and with lofty aims to make these strawberry - rhubarb crisp bars. But the week went by and the stalks languished in the fridge. Left with 2.5 stalks of salvageable Rhubarb and 3 ripe tomatoes, I made this tomato - rhubarb sandwich spread/chutney/whatchamacallit.
Tomato Rhubarb Chutney - desi shtyle

2.5 stalks of Rhubarb cut into thin pieces
3 tomatoes diced
A thumb sized knob of ginger cut into matchsticks
1 tsp of canola oil
pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
pinch of fenugreek powder
3 dried red chilies
1/2 - 1 tsp of chili powder
To taste
- salt
- tamarind or lime juice

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and the dry red chiliies. When the mustard splutters, add the hing and the fenugreek powder. Stir for half a minute. Now add the diced Rhubarb, the ginger and the tomatoes. Add a little salt and a splash of turmeric and the chilli powder. Continue to saute on a medium flame until the tomatoes break down fully and oil starts to leave the sides. Taste the chutney. Adjust the salt. If the chutney is not tart enough add about a 1/4 tsp of tamarind concentrate or juice of half a lime.

This made about 2 pint jars of chutney that lasted in the fridge for about 3 weeks.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stir Fried Plantains

"The English are obsessed with the weather" was a strong belief that I held, growing up on a diet of Enid Blyton, P.G Wodehouse and Jane Austen. Living in God's Own Country, I really couldn't appreciate this English obsession:   The landscape stayed a beautiful lush green throughout the year. The sun always shone ; even if for a brief period between cloud bursts during the monsoons.There were hot days and hotter days and the brief period between the Southwest and Northeast monsoons was extremely pleasant.
Let me just say that Oregonians are way more obsessed with the weather than the English. And yay! spring is here and to celebrate there has been all kinds of cooking.

Carrot pickles and Spiced Almonds that got eaten before getting photographed




and  stir fries




 I present the humble plantain -stir fired with Sambal Olek and red onions. It is good enough to eat straight from the pan or served with some boiled rice.
If you have ever cooked with plantains, you know what a pain it is to prep and peel. The plantain skin has a sticky oily residue and you have to oil your knife and hands before prepping. But if you steam the plantains with the skin; it is a snap to peel and you can also reduce the amount of oil you use.

Stir Fried Plantains
3 large plantains
1/2 red onion sliced
2- 3 tsp of oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a few curry leaves
1 tsp Sambal Olek
Water or stock to baste.
Salt to taste

Cut each platain into 2 or 3 pieces along with the peel and put it in a microwave safe bowl that has a lid. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and steam the plantains in the microwave until the skin of the plantains turn black.( this took me 10 mins) in my microwave. Cool until you can handle. 
Use a paring knife to peel the plantains.The peel should come off easily in one segment. 
Slice the plantains into rounds.

Heat the oil in a large work. Add the cumin and the curry leaves. When the cumin splutters add the red onions. Add a little salt and fry until the onions just start to brown. Add the sliced plantains and stir to coat with the onion and spices. Add the Sambal Olek and cover the wok with a lid and let the plantains cook for 5 minutes. Check the plantains. They should feel dry. Add a teaspoon or tow of water or stock and cook until it is absorbed. Check and repeat again if necessary and adjust the seasonings as you go. 
The stir fry is ready when the plantains are tender and don't feel dry. Top with green chilies and serve.






Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ginger Chocolate Scones

Spring break week was a mixed week; there were ups and there were downs. And for me the best way to combat the down feeling is to bake something. And these scones and their accompanying write up were the perfect solution.  This would never have made it as post if it were not for my cousin in New York. Thank you Amita - if it weren't for you I wouldn't have taken a picture. 
But apparently there is no satisfying all your customers: the little one wanted it to be made with all chocolate,  the oldest wanted no chocolate and  the middle one wanted no ginger or chocolate. 

Ginger Chocolate Scones 
adapted from bikram baking

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c canola oil
1/2 c cold soy milk

8 oz. bar baking chocolate minus two pieces
1/2 c candied ginger
2 tsp freshly grated ginger

sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 deg F
Line a baking tray with foil and lightly grease.

Chop the chocolate and ginger finely. For maximum therapeutic value do this the slow way with a knife.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl lightly with a fork. Add the oil and continue mixing with a fork or your hands or a pastry cutter until you have pea sized clumps. Now add the soy milk a little at a time just until the dough comes together. Fold in the two gingers and the chocolate.  
Take about a third of the dough and pat it into a rough circle on a clean cutting board. Cut into 6 wedges and arrange it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Dust some sugar on top of the scones and  bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and dig in.







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