Monday, April 2, 2018

Of cross country races and roasted Tomato Jam

We have become the cross country groupie parents. Those parents who go to their kids races and are ever prepared. we have the layers, the big umbrella and the rain boots on the ready. Those parents that spend an entire weekend driving back and forth for 300 + miles to watch their kids race for all of 15 minutes. We know the names of most of the kids and the other groupie parents too. Did I know we would come to this - no; but I tell myself only 2 more years before they go off to college and have to make every minute count.
Seattle was one of the more pleasant excursions. We managed to meet friends and family and had breakfast at this place called Morsel. The biscuits were huge and light and flaky all at the same time. We had a goat cheese sandwich on a tomato curry biscuit, The highlight of the sandwich was for me; a confection that they called roasted tomato jam. It was tomato heaven in winter - bright, tart and a tiny bit sweet. 
The jam gods smiled on me because I came home to a tray of ripe Roma tomatoes that were sitting unused on the kitchen counter.

Roasted tomato jam - technique adapted from the Kitchn

12 or 13 roma tomatoes ( they were smallish)
3 cloves garlic
1 big nub of ginger, grated skin on
3 hot green peppers, chopped (Serrano)
black pepper
olive oil, sugar, salt.

Heat your oven to 350 deg F on a roast setting
Quarter tomatoes, smash and peel the garlic, grate the ginger and chop up the peppers. Coat 11x13 glass pan with olive oil and arrange  tomatoes in  a layer( they will not all fit). Scatter the  green chi,lies garlic and ginger over the tomatoes. Grind a generous amount of black pepper over the tomatoes and  shake salt over. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of  sugar and lightly drizzle Olive oil. Cover with the rest of the tomatoes and season again with salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil.

Roast @ 350 for 90 mins, stirring a couple of times in between. The tomatoes should extruded their juices and collapsed but still be slightly liquid like a pasta sauce.  Raise the temperature to  450 and bake  for another 20 to 30 minutes till the tomatoes have thickened into a nice gooey jammy consistency.

Scrape into bottles. Cool on counter. Lasts for 2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen, Great as a sandwich spread or stirred into yogurt or to boost your pasta sauce.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Quick and easy creamy cauliflower soup

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a relaxing holiday. We spent a week getting pampered by my little sis, playing with the little cousins  and visiting the battle sites of the civil war. I made my first gingerbread house ever with my niece and nephew (from a kit). It takes a lot of frosting to hold the house together! Eating the gingerbread house and the leftover decorations was  more fun for the kids. I made them brush their teeth afterward, in case you are reading dear sis. We baked sugar cookies and I let my niece and nephew eat as much as they wanted becoming cool aunt in their eyes.  And my sister fed us - Dosa, Idli, Pav Bhaji, Dal, Usli, Bhindi masala and tondekai palya - this is just a partial list. I think we ate her out of the house.
Now it is back and some minor resolutions to eat well - nah who am I kidding, we got goodies galore from Bangalore. We will eat soup and assuage our guilt.

 You can make home made soup in 15 minutes - no instant pot, just operational efficiency. I whipped up this soup yesterday when the big cousins came over. I didn't cook the vegetables in stock or water. I just steamed  and cooked in a smidgen of oil. This made transferring to the blender much easier and far less clean up. And it is a healthy, filling, creamy soup that warms you up and makes you feel rather virtuous too.
Do seek out white pepper for this recipe. It adds a fruity delicate  aroma that is very different from black pepper.

Creamy Cauliflower soup 
1 red onion
1.5 tsp of oil
1 head of cauliflower
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp whole white pepper corns
6 sun dried tomato halves not in oil. If using oil packed, drain the oil
a small handful of raw almonds
salt to taste

Chop the onion into slices or chunks. Heat the oil in a tall saucepan that has a lid. Add the onions, turn the flame to medium, add a tiny pinch of salt and close the lid allowing the onions to sweat.

While the onion is cooking, clean the head of cauliflower, Take out the dried leaves and chop into big pieces - stem and all. Peel the garlic.  Put the cauliflower and the garlic in a microwave safe bowl, add a splash of water, cover with a lid and cook until tender but not mushy. It took me 6 mins in my microwave on full power.

The onions should be done by now. Tip the onions and cauliflower into a blender. Add the sun dried tomatoes, white pepper and almonds  and blend. Add water as required to keep the blades running.
Empty blender content  into the saucepan you used to cook the onions and add water to dilute to desired consistency. Heat on medium flame until heated through, Season to taste with salt.

Top with toasted almonds and a swirl of pesto. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Potatoes with Sumac and Z'attar

Thanksgiving or for that matter any festive meal is not complete without potatoes in my family. Everyone crowds into the tiny kitchen and snacks on the boiled potatoes and hover around till the potatoes come out of the oven or the skillet and very generously offer to be taste testers. The quantities provided in this recipe might seem alarming, but they disappear quickly. If you do have leftovers, they are great in a grain bowl or tucked into a wrap or sandwich or just warmed up for a snack.

Boiling and then cooking the potatoes in oil makes for a crunchy but melt in the mouth texture. The combination of Sumac and Z'attar elevates the deliciousness.

This is a technique more than a recipe. In my houshold, I have to figure 2 Yukon Golds per person.

8 Yukon Gold potatoes

4 tbsp of vegetable or peanut oil

1 1/2 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of Sumac + more to taste

1/2 tsp of Z'attar 

Salt and pepp to taste

Boil the potatoes until they are firm tender. Cut the potatoes in half. Put in a saucepan large enough to hold the potatoes ( at least a 1 gallon saucepan ) and add enough cold water to cover. Lightly salt the water and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, cook for about 10 - 12 minutes till the potatoes can easily be pierced with a paring knife. Drain the potatoes well and cut each half into 4 parts.

Or you can cook it in the microwave. Prick the potatoes well all over with a paring knife. Lay them on the microwave safe plate and cook. figure about 21/2 minutes per potato. i.e if you have 6 potatoes microwave for about 15 minutes. Once the potatoes are cooked, cool a little and cut each potato into eighths.

You can do this ahead of time and hold the potatoes in the fridge.

Heat oil in a large wok. When the oil is hot, reduce the flame. Add the Paprika, and about a teaspoon of salt to the oil. Now add the potatoes and gently lift and scoop to toss them with the seasoned oil. Increase the flame to medium -high and let the potatoes cook undisturbed for 3- 4 minutes till they have brown spots. Toss and cook for another 3 minutes. Do this until all the pieces have a bit of brown. Taste - add more salt if necessary. If the potatoes look dry add in a little more oil, a tsp at a time

Turn off the flame and add the Sumac and Z'attar and mix well. The potatoes should taste tart and bright. Adjust the flavorings if you have to.  Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.