Sweet Potato Soup With Smoked Chiles

As written by Milo… 

All my journeys to the US so far have been eventful, but my October 2011 to Hadley Massachusetts visit was the most memorable. It was October 2011 and well into Fall, but it felt late autumn. The foliage was stunningly vivid with hues of green to orange to deep maroon. It was during this time that many parts of North-Eastern America including Massachusetts experienced untimely and heavy snow fall. The leaves of most of the trees hadn’t yet withered away, as a result of this snow accumulated over the trees, which caused most of the trees to bow with many of their branches snapping. This caused unprecedented power outages. The area in which I lived was also hit by a resultant power outage (I was lucky to have the power restored within 24 hours, but far flung counties didn’t have power for several days).

 With no power and no telephone lines working I was entirely dependent on my iPod to keep myself engaged. It might have been mid morning when all of a sudden I had Carol’s (my onsite Manager) friends come over to pick me up. They insisted I join them to Carol’s house. Without power where I lived I had no choice. I readily agreed. Apparently Carol’s area although affected by the snow had uninterrupted power.

 It was very kind of Carol to invite friends affected by the untimely snow to her place. With lots of conversations and an American Football match we didn’t realise it was just about time for dinner. The motivation for this post was the soup, which Carol had prepared for all of us for dinnertime.

 The soup had this perfect smoked chilly aroma. While it was frigid cold outdoors the soup kept us warm indoors. I couldn’t resist but ask for the recipe, which Carol gladly shared along with a can of Chipotle Peppers.

 Once I returned back to India Varsha and I prepared it, as told by Carol with minor Indian customization. Here is one more addition to the menu of cookingwithmyspouse, courtesy Carol.

 

Ingredients –

2 tbsp unsalted butter (We used 2 tsp butter),

1 medium onion roughly chopped,

2 garlic cloves (We used 5 cloves),

3 medium sweet potatoes peeled and quartered,

4 cups chicken stock,

1/2 cup honey (We omitted),

1/2 cup heavy cream,

2 tbsp pureed and canned chipotles,

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish –

Crushed tortilla chips

Method –

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and sweat the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until translucent.

Raise the heat to high, add the sweet potatoes ans stock, and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the honey, cream and chipotles.

Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), puree until smooth.

Strain through fine mesh strainer (optional).

Serve warm, sprinkling each serving with a handful of crushed tortilla chips.

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Grilled Veggies

As written by Milo….

I happened to visit this very popular barbeque joint in the city that I live in, but it was with office colleagues.

I was impressed by the variety of vegetarian barbeques they offered. While I try to work-out a plan to take my family to the barbeque joint to treat their taste buds, I thought it was worth a try to have some barbeque/grill experimentation at home. With my ever enthusiastic foodie wife to be my aficionado it wasn’t difficult.  Here is the recipe.

 

Veggies:

1 corn cob, average size

250 grams mushrooms, preferably with large bulbs as they tend to shrink after grilling

16 paneer cubes (cottage cheese) of about 1 inch each

16 baby potatoes

1 large onion

12 baby corns

Marinade/Sauce:

200 gms low fat curd (should be made by skimming off cream of regular milk at home)

15 to 20 garlic pods,

3 tea spoons ghee,

2 tea spoons red chilly powder

1 tea spoon dhania (coriander) powder

2 tea spoons pepper corn,

3 tea spoons amchoor (dry mango) powder

2 tea spoons cashew nuts

Salt to taste

Sauce preparation:

In a large bowl mix the curds (drain the excess water), chilly powder, dhania powder and amchoor powder.

In a pestle crush the pepper, garlic and cashew nuts into a coarse paste. Add this paste to the bowl. Add ghee and salt to taste.

Salt should be added to the marinade and not the vegetables. Vegetables tend to loose water if salt is added, making them excessively soft, which is definitely a no-no for this preparation.

Mix the contents well and set aside. Do not let it separate as water and solids. Stir occasionally.

Veggies preparation:

Wash the corn cob and cut it into discs of about 2-3 cms wide. Wash the mushrooms well to ensure all the dirt and grime is removed well.

Do not peal the baby potatoes, they taste better with the skin on. Make ridges along the skin of the potato occasionally making deeper cuts to thoroughly washed potatoes. Potatoes are the toughest vegetable in the recipe, therefore they need to absorb the marinade/sauce well. Peal the onion and cut it only into 4 pieces. Use the outer larger pieces. Wash the baby corns.

Steam the vegetables well in a steamer (we used an idlee maker). Do not use a cooker as the vegetables may get over-cooked. Place the tougher vegetables at the bottom e.g. corn cob discs, followed by potatoes then softer vegetables like mushrooms, baby corns as they get cooked/steamed easily. Let them steam on a high flame for 5 minutes followed by 10 minutes simmer.

Steaming is a better option than using any sort of tenderizers.

 Grilling:

Mix the steamed vegetables and the marinade and set aside for 2 hours. Stir occasionally as the curd tends to separate as water and solids.

Butter a shallow grilling pan and place the marinated corn cob discs and baby potatoes on it. Allow the vegetables to be lightly soaked in the marinade. Grill at 150 C for 20 minutes, occasionally turning and applying a layer of the marinade (frame this sentence well)

After this place the paneer cubes and the mushrooms into the pan. Add the marinade again to ensure the vegetables are lightly soaked. Grill for 10 minutes at 150 C.

Now add the baby corns and the rest of the marinade. This time the vegetables should be covered well with marinade, almost the consistency of a semi thick curry. Grill the vegetables for 15 minutes at 150 C. Let the pan stand inside the oven even after 15 minutes.  Once the oven cools remove the pan out and stir well, ensure that tender vegetables like baby corn and mushrooms do not break. Paneer also tends to get very soft. (To avoid paneer becoming excessively soft use ice hard paneer cubes directly and do not wait for the cubes to thaw). Set aside for at least 2 hours for the vegetables to absorb the goodness of the marinade.

After about a standing time of 2 hours stir the vegetables well once again. The marinade must have become thicker and reduced in quantity, ideally to a quantity just enough the coat individual vegetable pieces.

Before serving grill the vegetables once again at 175 C for 15 minutes. Serve an assortment of all the vegetables, with a spoon or 2 or the cooked thick marinade steaming hot, with a mug of chilled beer.

Nothing better than celebrating a hot summer Sunday afternoon indoors.

Chicken Biryani

 

This is one recipe that was lying in my inbox for a long time. This was given to me by one of my colleague and friend Sandhya. This is the method that is followed at her place in Hyderabad. I was waiting to try it but was not getting a chance to make it. We seldom bring chicken at home (once in 2 months). So last week I made up my mind to give it a try. I marinated the chicken on Saturday, cooked the rice on Sunday, assembled both the things and dished it out in no time. It was a success and we all liked it. It hardly takes much time. This was my first attempt to make Kacchi Biryani (raw meat is cooked along with half cooked rice).All my previous attempts were with cooked meat layered with cooked rice (Lucknowi /Awadhi Biryani). From now onwards I am going to follow this method for making biryanis.

I tweaked her original recipe a bit. She suggests adding a tsp of Kasoori methi and half cup of milk with saffron over the rice. Adding Kewra essence was my addition.

Thanks to Sandhya for her recipe!!!

                                                        

Ingredients for the chicken marinade –

400 gms chicken pieces,

2 cups of yogurt,

A small bunch of coriander leaves,

A small bunch of mint leaves,

3 green chilies,

2 tbsp ginger garlic paste,

Juice of 1 lime,

2 tsp red chili powder,

2 tsp garam masala powder (roast and grind together 4 cloves, a piece of cinnamon, 1 tsp pepper corns, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp poppy seeds, 1 small piece of nutmeg, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp sahi jeera),

Ingredients for the rice –

1.5 cups long grain basmati rice,

Few mint leaves,

3 cloves,

A piece of cinnamon,

1 bay leaf,

Water,

Salt

Other Ingredients –

3 big onions thinly sliced,

Oil,

Few drops of kewra essence.

Method –

Marinade chicken pieces with salt, lime juice, ginger garlic paste, ground coriander, mint leaves and green chili paste, red chili powder, garam masala powder and yogurt.

Keep it aside for a minimum of 4 hours.

Wash the rice well and soak in sufficient water for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Fry 2 big sliced onions in oil till brown and keep aside (caramelized onions).

Keep water for boiling in a big vessel. Add sufficient salt (I used 2 tsp salt), few mint leaves, cloves, cinnamon and a bay leaf. Let the water boil.

Now add soaked rice and let the rice get half cooked. Drain the water completely from the rice and keep aside.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a deep heavy bottomed vessel and fry one sliced onion till golden brown.

Add marinated chicken pieces to the onion stir well and top it up with half of the caramelized onions.

Lay the half cooked rice over the chicken pieces and sprinkle the remaining caramelized onions on top of the rice.

Sprinkle a few drops of kewra essence and cove the vessel with a tight lid.

After 5 minutes keep the vessel on a hot griddle on a stove and dum cook for 30 minutes.

Serve hot with raita.

Carrot Kheer

 

We had some guests for lunch on last weekend and I made this Carrot Kheer for the dessert. I had read it on some of the blogs and decided to give it a try. It tasted good and was a good change. Do add a lot of dry fruits and don’t forget cardamom powder and saffron strands. Serve chilled.

Ingredients –

5 medium sized carrots peeled and cut into small cubes,

½ liter + 1 cup milk,

3/4th cup sugar,

1 tbsp ghee,

A handful of dry fruits,

2 pinches of saffron,

1/4th tsp cardamom powder

Method –

Take carrot pieces and 1 cup milk, put it in a cooker vessel and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Let it cool and grind to a smooth puree along with the milk.

Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed saucepan.

Fry the dry fruits till light brown and put the carrot pulp. Fry the pulp for approx 4 to 5 minutes.

Add half liter milk, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron.

Let it boil. It thicken slightly on boiling.

Keep in the fridge for a minimum 3 to 4 hours. It tastes better when served chilled.

Zebra Cake

April 3rd was my MIL’s birthday and I baked this cake for her. This was the first time I was baking a cake with eggs and I was glad to see the end result – it was soft, fluffy and tasted just great. (Please overlook the cracks on the cake. No matter what I always get it.). It just took 15 minutes of preparation time. We polished off half the cake in less than 5 minutes 🙂

There are many blogs that have this cake recipe, but I followed Divya’s blog. She has put step by step images to assemble the cake. Thanks Divya!!

Ingredients –

2 cups All Purpose Flour,

1 tbsp baking powder,

3 large eggs,

1 cup sugar,

1 cup milk,

1 cup oil,

1 tsp vanilla essence,

2 tbsp coco powder

Method –

Mix All Purpose Flour and baking powder together, sieve and keep aside.

Beat 3 eggs and sugar till fluffy. (It took me approx 6 to 7 minutes).

Mix in the milk, oil and essence.

Pre heat the oven at 175 degree C for 10 minutes.

Now start mixing the flour in the above mixture. Mix well and break all the lumps.

Divide the mixture into 2 halves.

In one mixture add coco powder and mix well. Keep the other mixture as is.

Take a greased baking pan and pour one ladle of white cake batter in the center. Let it spread on its own. Do not tilt the pan to spread it.

Now put one ladle of coco cake batter on top of the white batter and let it spread on its own.

Again put white cake batter and coco batter alternately till all the batter is over.

Bake the cake till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean (In my oven it took approx 25 minutes)

Mushroom Quiche

It’s been a long time I have posted something on the blog. Our house was getting renovated all this while and it’s not that I was busy with it. I just could not get connected to the internet. Things were not in its place.

Now that everything is set I will try my best to post at least one recipe every week.

So here is a recipe for a Quiche I adapted from Nags of Edible Garden. She has an amazing space. You just cannot go wrong any where in making this and is absolutely delicious. I had a few mushrooms remaining so decided to go on with the mushroom stuffing. You can have a chicken or paneer or any other vegetable stuffing of your choice. So here is the recipe.

For the filling-

8 to 10 button mushrooms,

1 big onion chopped lengthwise,

½ tsp Pepper powder,

1 tsp butter,

Salt to taste

For the topping-

2 eggs,

1/4th cup milk,

½ cup grated cheese,

Salt to taste,

½ tsp Pepper powder

For the crust-

1.5 cups All purpose flour (Maida),

1/4th cup cold butter (I used Amul butter),

1 egg,

Salt to taste,

Iced cold water to knead the flour

Method –

Cut 1/4th cup butter into small cubes and mix it well with the All purpose flour.

Break an egg into the flour, add salt and knead the dough lightly with very little cold water. Make a ball of the dough and refrigerate it for an hour.

Heat 1 tsp butter in a pan and fry onions till brown. Next add chopped mushrooms and continue frying till mushrooms are cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Switch off the gas and allow it to cool.

Roll the dough with a rolling pin like a thick chapatti and place it in a greased pie pan/cake pan.

Bake it at 230 degree C for 10 minutes.

Take it out of the oven and fill the mushroom stuffing evenly on the crust.

Beat 2 eggs lightly mix in milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Pout this over the mushroom filling and bake it at 175 degree C for approx 20 minutes. Check if the milk egg mixture has got set by piercing a knife. If not, then bake for some more time.

Allow it to cool for 10 minutes and carefully de mould it. Cut and serve when warm.