Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Eggy Crumpets and Bacon

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.
                                                                                            ~John Gunther

This past weekend I happened to make Crumpets for my family  and seeing my family enjoy it so much, I thought I should share this simple recipe with all of you. I came across Crumpets for the first time while I was watching Jamie Oliver's show,  and was very curious to know how they tasted. So here I was on the look out for these circular shaped things with pores on them which almost looked like a small pancake but only harder. I finally found it in Trader Joe's and with a mouth watering recipe in hand, I decided to give it a shot.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 1 packet of crumpets                                   
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of red crushed pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • butter/oil
  • 6-8 slices of bacon
  • maple syrup
 Heat some oil in a non-stick pan and fry the bacon.

Mix the eggs in a bowl and whisk them with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Soak the crumpets well in the egg mixture. Add some butter/oil to a pan and fry these Crumpets till golden brown. Turn and fry them on the other side. 

Serve them with a drizzle of maple syrup and the bacon.  DELICIOUS....!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Penne with Pesto and Anchovies

Making dinners on weekdays is a challenge,  especially after a long hectic day at work, picking up the kids from school, chauffeuring them around for activities, going through their home work and tests, and then making a well balanced meal for dinner. Here I am sharing with you a quick and easy pasta dish that we had this week.

Veggie alert: Just skip the  anchovies!


Penne - 1 packet
Shallots - 2 (finely chopped)
Anchovies - 8 fillets
Olives - 10 pitted  black kalamata (or any of your choice)
Sun dried tomatoes - 10-15 (more if you like)
Pesto sauce - 1 cup
Pecorino cheese - 1/2 cup
Fresh Basil - 2 sprigs (roughly chopped)
Garlic - 3cloves (minced)
Olive oil - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste


Cook the penne in a pot of boiling water.  Start making the sauce while the pasta is cooking.  You will see the penne rising to the top of the water when it is almost done.  Cook the penne  to 'al dente' stage.  Drain the pasta and keep it aside.


Heat 1-2 tsp of oil in a sauce pan. Gently saute the minced shallots, garlic, and the anchovies. The anchovies will dissolve in the oil. Now add the sun-dried tomatoes and olives.  Stir everything together.

Now add the drained pasta to the sauce pan and mix well.  Check the salt.

Add the pesto sauce and  the chopped basil and mix well.

 Sprinkle some Pecorino cheese.

Dinner is served!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kerala style chicken curry with potatoes

Today, I am going to share with you my most favorite chicken curry recipe which I have enjoyed since my childhood. Back when I was a kid, chicken, mutton or any other non-veg dish other than fish, was always considered a special item that was prepared only on Sundays. So I used to look forward to that day  when my mom used to make these special dishes and would enjoy them to my heart's content.

Curries of Kerala typically contain grated coconut paste or coconut milk. Seasoning, tempering or tadka is part of almost every dish in Kerala and has mustard seeds, pearl onions, curry leaves, and dried red chilies. These are added to hot oil where they first sizzle and then splutter. Most of the non-vegetarian dishes are heavily spiced and can be mellowed down by adding coconut milk or coconut paste.


Chicken - 4 breast pieces (cleaned and cut into small cubes)
Onion - 1 1/2 ( chopped into big cubes)
Potato - 3 (cut into cubes)
Ginger - 1" piece (chopped and mashed)
Garlic - 3-4 cloves (mashed)
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Coriander/cilantro leaves - handful (chopped) 
Mint leaves - 3-4 sprigs
Coconut oil - 2-3 tsp
Vegetable oil
Salt - to taste

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves -1 sprig
Dried red chillies (thin variety) - 3-4

Spice powders:
Turmeric - 1/4-1/2 tsp     
Chilli powder - 1-2 tsp
Coriander powder - 2-3 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1-2 tsp


1.Pressure cook the chicken, mashed ginger, garlic, chopped coriander leaves, mint leaves, turmeric, pepper, salt and half a cup of water. Allow it to cook for one whistle. Switch of the stove and let it rest.

2.On a low flame, dry roast the chilli, coriander, and the garam masala powders until you get a nice aroma.  Be careful not to burn it.  Keep it aside. 

3. Grind one cup of grated coconut with 3-4tsp of the roasted masala powder to a fine paste. Add water in small quantities while grinding or else it will not grind to a fine paste. 

4.On a medium flame, heat 3 tsp of vegetable oil in a shallow pan.  Once it is heated, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add 3-4 whole dried red chillies and curry leaves.  To this, add the onions and saute them till they become translucent. Now add the potatoes, salt, and turmeric and saute them.

5. Open the pressure cooker and  add the chicken stock from there to the pan. Also add the remaining roasted masala powders to it. Mix it well. Close the lid and let this cook for a couple of minutes till the masala gets incorporated well.

6.Now add the chicken to this mixture.  Mix them well.  Check the salt in the curry.  Add some water if it is too thick.  Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes until you see an oily layer on the top.

7.Once you feel it is done, lower the flame and add the ground coconut paste.  Stir it slowly. Allow it to cook to 5 more minutes till you see a dark reddish-brown gravy. At this point, add the coconut oil. Switch off the stove.  Here I have served this spicy chicken curry with Puttu. Enjoy !!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dinner at Amber!

We were back at Amber again this weekend after almost a month to satisfy my son's craving for their mouthwatering butter chicken.  I consider myself very lucky to be living in Silicon Valley where one can find restaurants offering all the different cuisines of this world.  Not to mention we have Indian restaurants in every nook and corner of Silicon Valley.  Amber India is one such restaurant where one can satisfy cravings for Mughlai  inspired North Indian  and Tandoori dishes.

      I had visited Amber a couple of times a decade back and had tried only their buffet and came to the conclusion that it was not really worth all that money.  Recently, a close friend of mine asked  me to try their a la carte dishes. Initially, I was a little hesitant  since Amber is a bit on the pricey side.  Entrees are $10-25, with most being in the $15-20 range.  But anyhow, I decided to give it a shot  and we ordered a few things out of which their Tandoori chicken blew me away.  First of all, it did not have any coloring on it. It was so juicy and tender that a full plate of Tandoori chicken disappeared in no time.  This has made us go there almost every weekend.  In fact, the host there knew us so well that he started offering us the same table every time we showed up there. 

On Thursday night when my son came to kiss me goodnight, he promptly reminded me that he wanted to go to Amber for dinner on Friday, leaving me with no other choice! I did not even have a shadow of a chance to use my well thought-out excuse, "Oops, I forgot to make a reservation, let's go somewhere else." The other thing I forgot to mention about Amber is that you have to make a reservation.  And don't choose peak time because the Amber at Mountain View gets packed during peak hours.  Even though you have made a reservation, you will end up waiting till they find you a table.

Their menu is extensive and I have tried most of their dishes that have caught my imagination and my all time favorite is their Tandoori chicken.This weekend, I found another item to add to it and that was this Naan/Bread called Frontier Naan (Naan stuffed with nuts and raisin paste).  It definitely completes the Mughlai experience.  Now I have found a new craving to go back to Amber and can't wait for Friday to arrive soon......

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spicy Catfish fry

 I didn't picture myself writing a new post the very next day after I published the first one.  But I had to share this because it so happens that my most favorite food  is going to end up on my dinner table tonight.  Oh yeah...!

Today, I happened to be running some errands and spotted some fresh Catfish fillets at Costco.  I stopped in my tracks for a second dreaming of myself sitting in my grandmother's kitchen enjoying the delicious aroma of fried fish lingering everywhere. If not for the 21-24hr flight journey to get to my grandmother's place, I would have definitely satisfied my appetite for some yummy spicy fish accompanied with hot steaming rice right away at her place.  Hmmm...now I have to cook it myself to satisfy this desire.

Being a Keralite, fish is something I enjoy cooking and consuming, or should I say, devouring! In fact, when I am in India, I always accompany my parents or relatives to the fish market no matter how smelly the market is just to see the fresh fish being sold there.  Fish being a staple diet of Keralites is cooked in various ways.  I can just go on writing about fish forever.

 Here is one of the recipes that I use very often for frying fish.
I know it won't even be close to my grandmother's recipe but I think I have at least a few of her culinary genes somewhere in my body.

 If God had intended us to follow recipes, 
He wouldn't have given us grandmothers.
                                                                           ~Linda Henley 

Catfish fillets - 4(cut into 3 or 4 pieces)
Pearl onions - 4-5
Red chilli powder - 1-11/2tsp (depends on how spicy you want it)
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger - a small piece
Curry leaves - few
Oil for shallow frying
Salt - to taste

Blend all these ingredients to a smooth paste with very little water and rub it on the fish slices.  Marinate them for 15 to 20 minutes.The longer the better.

Heat some oil in a non stick pan and add  a few pieces of the marinated fish in one layer.  When you are frying fish, please do not flip the fish until it browns on one side.
Once it turns golden brown turn it and let it brown on the other side. Garnish it with some onions mixed with some lime juice and salt.

This goes well with some steamed rice or rotis.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's day weekend!

Here I am, writing my first blog.  Can't believe it!!  Hope I am doing the right thing by sharing my passion for food with everybody and not embarrassing myself. I always wondered how easily a new cookbook shows up on a book store shelf and why it is so hard for me to even put a few thoughts in writing about something that I cooked so passionately or ate at some place.Well, after years of dreaming about myself doing this,pushed by friends, inspired by my husband, I finally found this Mother's day weekend to be a good start.

This year, Mother's day happened to be very different from the previous years.  Instead of going out with my family to get my cravings fulfilled, I wanted to fulfill my cravings at home.This is a real shock for somebody who knows me very well because I hardly cook during the weekends, unless we have some guests or I am in the mood to cook.So this happens to be the weekend in which I had a few recipes in my mind and I finally put it to test.

May 6th 2011

It all started on Friday afternoon while I was flipping through TV channels and suddenly caught a glimpse of  David Rocco sampling some cheese in Sicily and  preparing a pasta dish using Pecorino cheese on the Cooking Channel.  I have little knowledge about different kinds of cheese.  If a recipe calls for a particular cheese for that dish, I just follow that.

For example, that afternoon, I was at the Subway sandwich store and lady at the counter asked me what kind of cheese I wanted for my Tuna sandwich and I didn't know which one to choose.  I replied "The one in the front".  That's the extent of my knowledge about cheese.  I know the names but I am not sure where to use which one.

So here is reason I wanted to try this particular recipe that David Rocco was showing on the Cooking channel.  He was mentioning how well the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes goes well with the Pecorino cheese almost like a marriage.  Well, now he literally got me salivating.  I couldn't wait to get all the ingredients for this recipe and satisfy my craving.  The other thing that really pushed me to try this one is its simplicity.  I did not have to write down or print the recipe to remember the ingredients.  Just amazing how you throw in a few things and you have this beautiful dish and your taste buds are satisfied.

Spaghetti con Pomodorini e Pecorino: Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Pecorino

I can't even describe to you how we enjoyed, for a change, being at home on a Friday evening and licking our pasta bowls clean.
 May 7th 2011

Well, it didn't stop right there..the next day(i.e., Saturday), I wanted to surprise my foodie family with my first Frittata for brunch.  This time it was Kelsey Nixon's veggie Frittata which inspired me.  I had all the ingredients ready.The oven was pre-heated to 375degrees and everything else was going on so well, when I realized that my skillet did not have a metal handle. I got all flustered and being a pessimist at times, I thought that my time for making Frittata had not arrived yet.  So, I started changing my plans to make an omelette instead.  So everything was in the skillet cooking just like a Frittata and here I was, still wanting to see my first Frittata instead of an omelette.  I did not give up...I gathered all my courage, slid the whole thing onto a plate slowly with my heart beating rapidly and put  it back on the skillet for the other side to cook.  Whoa...what a relief.  With the help of a lid, I got my Frittata all done.  Success with my first Frittata! 

Enjoyed the brunch thoroughly with my kids and my hubby.  Actually I was liking the way we were enjoying our weekend brunch instead of ordering Frittata at some restaurant.

Garden Vegetable Frittata

As you know, Frittata is a dish where you can add anything that is available in your fridge.  So these were the ingredients that I used for my Frittata.
Eggs - 8
Bacon - 3 to 4 strips (got them crisped)
Green onions - 2-3 sprigs
Cherry tomatoes - 1 cup
Green bell pepper - 1/2(chopped)
Green peas - handful
Red potatoes - 2-3(sliced thinly with skin)
Parmesan cheese- 1/2 a cup(mixed it with the eggs)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper for taste

May 8th 2011(Mother's day)
Even after celebrating Mother's day with few of our friends and dining out at Buca di Beppo which also happens to be an Italian restaurant and having a late night last night, I was still back in the kitchen on Sunday morning to try out another Italian dish.  Wow! I am really surprising myself.  By now, my husband was also beginning to wonder if something was seriously wrong with me.  Normally, I would have blamed him for not planning ahead of time to take me to some nice place for brunch or lunch.  Well,this was very unusual of me.I am really having some big time Italian food craving.  Also, I must say some cooking shows capture you so much that you feel the urge to have that dish right away.  I couldn't postpone making this dish any further.

Again, this was a Sicilian dish from one of David Rocco's show.Very simple,very yummy and a sumptuous meal.  I have never watched David Rocco's shows with so much interest but this episode really captured me.  It featured all these wonderful dishes that were so easy to make and by just watching the show you could tell that it would turn out just the way it was featured on the show.

Salsiccie e Fagioli: Pork and Beans

I know...you must be thinking that the name sounds so simple.Well, believe me, it is very very simple.
The only change I made to this recipe was to use Sicilian chicken sausages instead of pork.

I must say that this is definitely a  real comfort food and now I know even though the name sounds so simple why the people of Sicily enjoy this hearty dish so much.My daughter being a big sausage fan enjoyed this dish to her heart's content.

By now, I was so done with Italian food that my taste buds were all going numb.  I was now craving a good Bento box to boost my taste buds.  So we ended up at Miyake and enjoyed some sushi and tempura in a Bento box.  It was indeed a very nice way to celebrate Mother's day finally.