Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scallion Pancakes


Scallion pancakes, a simple Asian dish that feels like a fusion of two Indian flat breads: stuffed paratha and laccha paratha. A stuffed paratha, as the name suggests has a stuffing, in this case spring onions/ scallions. A laccha paratha has flaky layers, just like this one! So overall, scallion cakes is very close to Indian flatbreads. 




Wikipedia describes it as follows: A scallion pancake is a Chinese savory, unleavened flatbread folded with oil and minced scallions (green onions). Unlike Western pancakes, it is made from dough instead of batter. Variations exist on the basic method of preparation that incorporate other flavors and fillings. Scallion pancakes are served both as a street food item and as a restaurant dish. They are also sold commercially, either fresh or frozen in plastic packages (often in Asian supermarkets).

After having tried these pancakes in different places, I had it on my mind to try them at home. In the last month's edition of Bread Bakers, we took the theme Griddle Breads, and Robin Beck of A Shaggy Dough Story shared her version of the pancakes, I had to try them! Here is the link to her post: Scallion Pancakes




The recipe is pretty simple and needs just a few pantry ingredients like flour, salt and oil. You need LOTS of scallions, so make sure you bring in a bunch or two. The recipe calls for thinly sliced scallions, an essential step to make sure the scallions do not rip the dough and come out. I used my Herb Scissor to do the job. The scissor is made from great quality steel and comes with five blades. The distance between the blades is just right to get thin slices and not remove the juice out of the herbs. I love this new product and it has made my tasks of cutting leaves and herbs from Cilantro to scallions, chives and mint very easy and guess what, it is dishwasher safe too! I highly recommend this product. Get yours today from here




To go with the pancakes, I made a dipping sauce, just like the one described by Robin, and it was awesome. The sauce took the scallion pancakes to a different level altogether! I also made a carrot salad to serve with the dish. I was recently sent a carrot sharpener, YES a sharpener that sharpens carrots to help plating a dish beautifully. Check this link to know more. While the device is good, the carrot it shaves is too thin and I was not able to fold it into a flower. So instead of a flower, I ended up making a salad with salt and vinegar. It tasted amazing too. Ok so now, back to the recipe. I made four pancakes from the amounts in this recipe and boy, we were left craving for more. I suggest you start with double proportions and make a BIG lot of these amazing pancakes!   




Ingredients

For the pancakes

All purpose flour 2 cups
Boiling Water 1 cup
Thinly sliced scallions 2 cups
Sesame Oil or Chili Oil 
Salt 1 tsp
Oil for frying

For the dipping sauce

Soy Sauce 2 tbsp
Rice Vinegar 2 tbsp
Sesame Oil 1/2 tsp
Ginger root 1 inch, grated
Sugar 1 tsp
Scallions
Toasted Sesame seeds



Method

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and salt. Slowly pour 3/4 cup water and bring the dough together. If needed, add extra water. Once the dough is soft, cover with shrink wrap or just place in a bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients under dipping sauce and keep it ready. Wash, dry and slice the scallions. I used a herb scissor, but a sharp knife would be just as good. 




When ready to make, divide the dough into four parts. Cover the three parts again, and using the fourth part, roll the dough into a disc of about 8 inches. Brush some sesame oil or chilli oil (if you like it spicy) and roll the dough jello style to make a log. Spiral the log and flatten to form a disc. This step is key to get flaky pancakes so roll and spiral the dough tight. Roll it out to about 8 inches. Brush some oil and spread 1/2 cup scallions evenly on the disc. Roll into a jello roll again, spiral and flatten. Roll it to a disc of 6-7 inches diameter. Repeat with remaining three parts of the dough.

Heat an iron griddle or nonstick pan. Spread 1/4 tsp oil on it and let it heat. Lay one of the pancakes and cook for 2-3 minutes, till brown spots appear on it. Turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel, remove excess oil and cut it into wedges. Sprinkle some sea salt or kosher salt if desired and serve hot with the dipping sauce.




I also made a simple carrot salad to go with the pancakes. Using my new carrot sharpener, I sharpened a carrot. Added rice vinegar, salt and some sugar. Set it out in a bowl with some scallions on top.


**One or more products in this post were sent to me complimentary for review purposes. However, all the opinions are unbiased and completely my own.





Monday, February 22, 2016

Baked Hash Browns with Roasted Garlic Aioli


Waking up on a Sunday morning and thinking what to make for breakfast? This happens very often in our house. I always want to make something new on weekends but then I also want to click pictures and add those recipes for my blog. But again, it is weekend and I get lazy to start the day with the blog! That is the chief reason that certain weekend special breakfast and brunch recipes have not made it to this page yet! Now I am trying to have those recipes here, and I convince my husband to take pictures for me. Just because I am bored on Sunday mornings! And he does that for me :) 



Yesterday, I felt like having a restaurant style breakfast and thought of hash browns. If you have noticed, each place, each chain of restaurants in the US have their own style of making hash browns. While Black Bear Diner makes it with thick cut potatoes, IHop has really thin shredded potatoes, baked on both sides. The one from Dennys is similar, and Dunkin Donut has small little fried rounds of goodness! I love to devour on at least a packet or two whenever we find a Dunkin when we are on vacation. It is sad that they are not present in North California yet!

Now getting to the recipe, I generally do not like to fry things and continuously look for alternatives like baking or paniyaram stand recipes. This is also a part of that effort. While I have seen a lot of recipes that use the waffle maker to get crisp hash browns, I decided to try baking. Just gathered the ingredients: russet potatoes, olive oil and spices; used my brand new spiralizer to spiral the potatoes and baked it all to get perfectly crisp and well cooked hash browns. I also made a roasted garlic aioli to go with the hash browns. It tasted great and made a perfect holiday breakfast!




Here is a little bit on the spiralizer I used. I was sent this vertical spiralizer from Brieftons, to try and review it. I thought it was perfect to use this one for making long strands of potato for breakfast. This 4 blade spiralizer is easy to use and easy to clean. You can spiralize vegetables in different thickness, from the angel hair size right upto 55 mm wide noodles. I like the fact that the blades can be changed with just a turn of the knob and there is no hassle to store the blades like other spiralizers. The construction is such that when you press vertically, gravity does most of the work to aid easy turning of the handle. It is sad that the thickness cannot be changed in this spiralizer. I would have loved the machine if that was possible. Overall, I am satisfied with the device and it works pretty well. If you would like to get one, click here.




Ingredients

For the Hash Browns
Russet Potatoes 2 large
Olive Oil 2 tbsp
Garlic Powder 1 tsp
Salt, Pepper
Parsley/ cilantro to top

For the Aioli
Garlic 2-3 pods
Mayonnaise 4 tbsp
Sour Cream 2 tbsp
Salt, Pepper
Parsley  



Method

Preheat the oven to 425 F/ 220 C. Peel the potatoes and using a spiralizer with a 3 mm wide blade, spiralize the potatoes. In a large mixing bowl, add the potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder and salt. Mix well. Line a baking dish with cooking spray or line it with a parchment paper. Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish and spread it out in a single layer. Piling the potatoes will make them soggy. Also, to make the aioli, peel the garlic pods and place them in the same baking tray. 

Sprinkle pepper powder on the potatoes, and bake the hash browns for 5-6 minutes or till the top is crisp. Turn it over and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Then broil the potatoes for a minute on high. Remove the tray from the oven and remove the garlic pods. 




To make the aioli, crush the roasted garlic using the back of a spoon. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper. Add the roasted garlic and parsley. Mix well. 

Serve the hash brown with the aioli and tomato ketchup. This dish can be served as a side with omelette, boiled eggs, beans on toast or even as it is for a light weekend breakfast.  







**One or more products in this post were sent to me complimentary for review purposes. However, all the opinions are unbiased and completely my own.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Thai Papaya Salad | Som Tam


Green papaya salad is a spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. It is of Lao origin but it is also eaten throughout Southeast Asia. Locally known in Cambodia as bok l'hong, in Laos astam som or the more specific name tam maak hoong, in Thailand as som tam, and in Vietnam as goi du du. Som tam, the Thai variation, was listed at number 46 on World's 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011.




Simple yet vibrant mix of vegetables and sauces, this papaya salad can be made within minutes, and I promise; it vanishes within seconds! If you like to start your dinners with a salad and then have the main course, make a bowl each for your family members, but if you are like us; who can eat salad as a main course dish, make a big batch. Two of us devoured the entire bowl of salad for dinner last night! Just had a simple noodle dish along with our salads. And we could have had more for sure! So make a big batch, and you sure will enjoy the meal.

Coming to the technique of making the salad. The process is as easy as 1-2-3. Visit your farmers market to grab colorful vegetables, spiral or julienne the vegetables, make the dressing and combine it all! While a lot of recipes online suggest you use a julienne maker to strip the papaya, I personally feel that a spiralizer does the job in lesser time. There are three different types of spiralizers: the simple hand-held spiralizer, a horizontal spiralizer and a vertical one. In this recipe I used a horizontal spiralizer.




Brieftons sent me a 5 blade spiralizer to help ease cutting and cooking. I loved the idea of having a spiralizer at home, and used it immediately to make this dish. The standing spiralizer comes with five blades: angel hair, fine shredding, crude shredding, flat blade and the curly fries blade. The construction of the spiralizer is nice and solid, the blades are sharp and using it simplifies the task to a great extend. Cleaning is super quick and the machine comes with slots to store 2 blades in the base. Couple of cons of the spiralizer is the lack of space to keep the remaining blades and the bad suction of the base that does not hold the spiralizer in place while you use it. Apart from that, it does the job pretty quickly. I prefer this over the vertical and hand-held spiralizer, for the ease of operation. Get yours from amazon here




While I have used papaya, peppers, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts and scallions in this recipe, you can feel free to replace any of the vegetables except one, the raw papaya; else the salad will no longer be a papaya salad :p Also, being a vegetarian, I did not add fish sauce or oyster sauce, but you can surely add that if you eat it. For those who do not like garlic, leave it out from the dressing, not very much change in the taste and flavor. Hope you enjoy this salad and it becomes a regular in your kitchen like it has in ours!




Ingredients

Raw Papaya 1 small
Peppers/Capsicum 1/4 of each color
Purple Cabbage 1/2
Carrots 2 large
Scallions 2-3 stalks
Bean Sprouts 1/4 cup
Cilantro 
Roasted Peanuts 1/4 cup
Lime wedges 

For the Dressing
Olive Oil 2 tbsp
Chili Oil 1 tbsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Soy Sauce 1 tsp
Minced Garlic 2 pods
Sugar, Salt, Lime Juice
Ground peanuts 2 tbsp




Method

Mix all the ingredients of the dressing except ground peanuts and set aside. Peel the papaya and carrots. Using a spiralizer, spiral out half the papaya, carrots and cabbage. I used the 3 mm blade, but you can use a thinner or thicker blade as per your preference. Set aside. If you do not have a spiralizer, use a julienne maker and make thin juliennes of papaya and carrots. Deseed the peppers and slice them into thin slices. Also cut the white portion of the scallion into thin strips. Wash and keep the bean sprouts ready.

When ready to eat, mix the vegetables in a mixing bowl. Add the dressing,  lime juice, ground peanuts and blend it all in. Remove in serving bowls/ plates; top with cilantro, a wedge of lime and ground peanuts. Enjoy!








**One or more products in this post were sent to me complimentary for review purposes. However, all the opinions are unbiased and completely my own.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thai Red Curry

Today is the last week for the Blogging Marathon 61 and under the category of meal ideas; here is a third meal on the blog. After posting Indian Methi Matar Malai and paratha on day 1, Italian meal on day 2, today is a new cuisine; Thai. If you have been following my blog closely, you would know that Thai cuisine is making its appearance pretty often. So after pad thai noodles and basil fried rice, here is Thai Red Curry to complete the basic Thai meal trio.




Red curry is a popular Thai dish consisting of red curry paste cooked in coconut milk and added with meat or vegetarian protein such as tofu. The vegetables generally used in red curry are radish, baby corn, mushroom, bamboo shoots, water chestnut, broccoli and carrots. But when made at home, this curry can be made from vegetables of your choice. Add the ones you like, leave out the ones you dislike! Along with vegetables, there are herbs, red curry paste and coconut milk in this dish.



The base Thai red curry paste (prik gaeng ped) is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, and remains moist throughout the preparation process. The red coloring derived from dry red spur chillies. The main ingredients include (dried) red chili peppers, garlic, shallots, galangal, salt, cumin seeds, peppercorns, coriander root, coriander seeds, kaffir lime peel, shrimp paste,  and lemongrass. Today, the prepared Thai red curry pastes are available at markets produced in mass quantities, and also available in bottled jar produced by some brands. Make sure you look at the label if you do not prefer a sauce with shrimp or fish. Many brands have a vegan version of the paste.



I bought the vegan version of the paste, but you can choose to make it at home too. Though I have not tried it yet, there are tons of recipes online. I used baby corn, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms chiefly because that is what we like and I had at home. I would have added zucchini and bean sprouts if I had them! This recipe is super forgiving and adaptable. Just choose what you like and leave the rest. Also, if you eat meat, you can add meat too. 

I used packaged coconut milk, but again you can use homemade too. If you buy the ready one, choose the one that is thick to ensure your curry does not become runny. Basil leaves are essential in this dish and adding fresh basil leaves gives the dish its freshness and flavor. Some recipes also call for peanut butter or crushed peanuts. You may add them if you like. Serve this dish with brown rice, pad thai noodles or basil fried rice. Complete the meal with this cold Pina Colada!



Ingredients

Vegetables 1 cup ( I used baby corn, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms)
Green and red pepper 1/2 medium
Spring onion whites and green 3-4 stalks
Extra firm tofu 1 box
Unsweetened coconut milk 1 1/2 cup
Thai red curry paste 2-3 tbsp (homemade or store bought)
Thai Basil 7-8 leaves
Red Chili Sauce 1 tbsp
Soy Sauce 1 tsp
Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
Salt, Pepper, Lemon Juice, Sugar




Method

Cut the vegetables and set aside. Remove excess water from tofu and cube it. Heat oil in a pan, add peppers and saute. Then add the spring onion whites and mix well. Then, add the vegetables in the following order: baby corn, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Let them cook for a while and then add the red curry paste.  

Once the vegetables sizzle, add coconut milk, red chilli sauce, soy sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Mix well, add salt, pepper and sugar as per taste. Thin the curry with water as required and finally add roughly cut basil leaves. Finally, add the tofu cubes.

Mix well, and once it all comes together well, turn down the flame. Sprinkle the spring onion greens, add a couple of basil leaves and serve with a side of boiled noodles or sticky rice. The curry tastes equally great with some brown rice.










Check out the Blogging Marathon page for more recipes from other blogging marathoners doing this BM#61.



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Minestrone Soup

Today is the second day of Blogging Marathon under the theme One pot meal or meal ideas. Yesterday I posted an Indian main course, Methi Matar Malai. Today it is time for an Italian inspired meal: Minestrone Soup, Garlic Breadsticks and the signature Italian salad.  



Soups are sometimes served as the primo, or first course in Italian cuisine. In some regions of Italy, such as Veneto, soup is eaten more than pasta. One of the famous Italian soups is the Minestrone Soup. It is essentially a thick soup made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes.

Because of its unique origins and the absence of a fixed recipe, minestrone varies widely across Italy depending on traditional cooking times, ingredients, and season. Minestrone ranges from a thick and dense texture with very boiled-down vegetables, to a more brothy soup with large quantities of diced and lightly cooked vegetables; it may also include meats. In modern Italian there are three words corresponding to the English word soup: zuppa, which is used in the sense of tomato soup, or fish soup; minestra, which is used in the sense of a more substantial soup such as a vegetable soup, and also for dry soups, namely pasta dishes; and minestrone, which means a very substantial or large soup or stew, though the meaning has now come to be associated with this particular dish.



There is a very famous restaurant chain in the US that serves Italian food; Olive Garden. The restaurant works on a simple model, order your pastas and we shall serve unlimited soup or salad along with the yummy garlic bread sticks. I love going to the place to enjoy baskets full of garlic sticks. This Minestrone soup is their signature dish and that is what we enjoy pretty often at home for dinner. The soup recipe is what I am sharing today, and the garlic breadsticks and salad are not far behind. I shall be uploading them soon too!

Ingredients

Vegetables ( Carrots, Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes,  French Beans, Green and Yellow Zucchini) 1 1/2 cup 
Onion 1/4 cup
Tomato Puree 1/2 cup
Kidney beans, Pinto Beans and black eyed peas 1/4 cup
Pasta of choice 1/2 cup dry
Garlic, 1-2 cloves minced
Celery 1 stalk diced
Black Pepper, Salt, Oregano
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Vegetable stock/ water 2 cup
Cilantro 



Method

Combine the three beans to make about 1/4 cup together. Soak them overnight and then pressure cook them in 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. Set aside. Wash and dice all the vegetables separately. Cut the cherry tomatoes into half. Roughly chop the spinach leaves. In a heavy bottom saucepan sauté garlic in 1/2 tsp olive oil. Add the garlic and celery. Let them flavor the oil and then add the diced onion and sauté. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Once the onion is soft, add the vegetables in the following order: French beans, Carrots and Zucchini. Leave about a minute between adding the next vegetable. Now let the vegetables cook for a couple of minutes. 

Add the beans, mix well and then add the tomato puree. I just pureed 1 tomato to yield 1/2 a cup of puree. You could use canned puree too. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock/ water and the dry pasta and let them cook for 7-8 minutes till the pasta is soft. Then add the spinach and cherry tomatoes. Let the soup simmer for a few minutes and then check for salt, oregano and pepper and adjust as per taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve with garlic breadsticks and salad.




Check out the Blogging Marathon page for more recipes from other blogging marathoners doing this BM#61.