Monday, August 21, 2017

Everything you need to know about Infusing Olive Oil

This post is sponsored by Thoughtfully Gifts. All opinions are mine alone. #sponsored #thoughtfully



Try infusing your Olive Oils with dried herbs. These oils are not just flavorful, they are super easy to customise and fun to make!


Have you been to an Italian Restaurant and had some delicious flavorful Herb infused Olive oil with bread? Or had a soup topped with Basil infused Olive Oil? Have you had the amazing Gilroy Garlic infused oil? If you like any of these, this post is MADE FOR YOU! 

My husband and me love all sort of infusions. From infusing water with mint and cucumber to infusing oil with varied flavors, we do it all. I have been doing it for a while, but it got way simpler after I got the Olive Oil Shoppe from Thoughtfully Gifts. So I finally put up a post on infusing! 


All about Infusing Olive Oil

Infusion is the process of soaking dried herbs, tea or flowers in a liquid like water or oil to extract flavor. Infusing makes the liquid flavorful, often colorful and super tasty. Oils generally pick up the flavors pretty quickly, but the flavors intensify over time. It is perfectly okay to leave the herbs in there for a long time. 


The ingredients required for infusing oils is rather simple; oil and herbs to infuse. The apparatus I used comes from the set from Thoughtfully Gifts. There is a fusti (container to store Olive Oil) with a wooden stand, funnels, glass bottles, spice rack and dipping plates. Having all this helps in making infused Olive oil in a clean and quick way! 


The process of infusing Olive Oil is rather simple, but one has to ensure everything is clean before you start. If the funnel or bottle is not clean, it can easily contaminate the oil as it stands for weeks in the bottle. And yes, use the BEST quality ingredients to make your oil. It does make a difference, I promise! 

I made SIX tiny bottles of Infused oils with varied uses. The result was PERFECT in a week, yet I am going to wait to try the oils post another week. I already used the Basil Oil on my Roasted Tomato Soup and we instantly fell in LOVE with it! I am so glad I used my Fusti et al to make the oils. No mess, no wastage and a fun activity to spend a lazy Sunday with hubby! 


Heads up to the upcoming Wedding Season! 

Can you believe we are planning for the upcoming wedding season already? This season is going to be great for us because my brother gets married to his love this year. I can hardly wait for his BIG DAY! 

If you are also planning a wedding, yours or that of a close one; I would suggest you head straight to Thoughtfully Gifts. I would have happily added them to my wedding registry when I got married! They have some really unique and fun products, this Olive Oil Shoppe being my favorite and The Tea Lab following close! 


Though I did not get any of these special gifts on my big day, I am glad to be trying it out now. We got the Olive Oil Shoppe and had such a wonderful time last Sunday; infusing oils and mixing flavors to make our personal favorites! 

When this BIG package from the company arrived, I was overwhelmed. Neatly packed, well curated and easy to understand instructions define them! All their products are fun and they definitely make a gifts that last and are remembered throughout the year! 

So with all this information, you need to head straight to the instructions and start infusing! Don't forget to share your infusion ideas with me in the comments below! 


Ingredients

Good quality Olive Oil 2 cups
Infusion Herbs like Oregano, Rosemary, Garlic, Chilli flakes



Method

Wash and dry the bottles, funnel and fusti well. Fill the fusti with olive oil. You can store oil in the fusti for upto a year, so don't worry about the remaining oil post infusing. 

Using a funnel add 1 tsp of herbs you want in the bottle. You can mix and match from basil, oregano, chilli flakes, garlic, rosemary and thyme. 


Pour the olive oil into the bottle, close the bottle and shake well. Store the bottle in a cool dark place for 1-2 weeks to allow the flavors to infuse well. 

Do a taste test after a week and keep it for longer if it still does not taste as you like. Enjoy this oil with the following:





Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Super Quick Eggless Pumpkin Bread

An easy peasy bread made from Pumpkin Purée. Who knew TWO simple ingredients could make this Fall perfect bread SO MOIST and YUM? 



Pumpkin 🎃 🎃 in August? YES! I was not sure if I wanted to start making Squash and Pumpkin dishes this month but I finally did. On my last trip to Michael's Craft store I saw Fall decor, Pumpkin and a ton of other things for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Starbucks is advertising Pumpkin Spice Latte already and not to forget that Walmart and World Market is stocking up on Fall essentials. 

Last year I wasn't happy seeing all these arrangements in August, but this year my love for squash is on a new high. I have already made one batch of this Pumpkin Soup, this loaf of Multigrain Pumpkin Bread and a few servings of Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yes, all this even before half of August has passed us by! 



As I mentioned, last week I bought myself two cans of Pumpkin purée while shopping for other grocery items. The first thing I wanted to make was Pumpkin Dinner Rolls. However, I wanted to make something that needed twine. As I was out of it, I decided to make a sweet bread using the pumpkin. 

This recipe is pretty similar to most other quick breads; uses flour, sugar, baking powder and pumpkin. I wanted to skip the eggs from the classic recipe so I used buttermilk instead. The result was fabulous; absolutely moist and soft bread thanks to the buttermilk and pumpkin purée. 

The best part of this bread you ask? I used just the base of the stand mixer and ONE more bowl to make it all! No mess, no extra vessels and no complex procedures. It is as simple as mix, pour, bake! 



If you want a Fall bread or something for Thanksgiving breakfast, I bet this one is for you. make a couple of loaves and serve with some maple syrup. I loved the combination and my husband even enjoyed some warm bread with Vanilla Ice cream! It was such a pleasure to have the same bread for breakfast and dessert! It is lovely how the kitchen smells when you just warm the bread, not to forget how lovely the house smells when it is baked! We finished the whole loaf in under 3 days; yes two people, one loaf of pumpkin bread and 3 days! 

This recipe is really easy and convenient to make because I bet you have everything needed here in your pantry, and milk in the refrigerator! No complex ingredients, no exotic requirements. If you like a crunchy add-in in the bread, toss in some pumpkin seeds or chocolate chips in the bread. Better still, top the bread with a mixture of seeds like this Multigrain Pumpkin Bread. It makes the bread even better!   



Not a Pumpkin Lover?

I urge you to try the squash a couple of times before giving up on it. It is pretty addictive I promise! But if you cannot get yourself to like it, you can very well make the bread using mashed banana or carrots. It works really well with those too. 



Pumpkin Lovers?

If you have a love for this orange squash, I bet you love the seeds et al! Don't forget to add some seeds in the batter or on it for texture. Better still try one of these recipe to go with this bread: 




Ingredients 

All purpose flour/Maida 1 3/4 cup
Brown/White Sugar 3/4 cup
Pumpkin Purée  1 cup
Buttermilk 1/2 cup ( or Milk 1/2 cup + Vinegar 1 tsp)
Oil 3 tbsp
Pumpkin Pie Spice 3 tsp
Baking Powder 2 1/4 tsp
Baking Soda 1/4 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp



Method

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and keep ready.

In the base of the stand mixer add the buttermilk (or room temperature milk mixed with vinegar), oil and pumpkin purée. Whip till smooth. Then add pumpkin spice and sugar. Mix again for a couple of minutes. 

In a bowl sieve together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Transfer to the wet mixture and mix for a minute or so. Do not overmix. 

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan. Place in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. If the sides start to harden and the center is wobbly, cover with some foil and bake. 

Once a toothpick or skewer comes out clean from the center, remove from oven and cool. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing. 






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Indian Style Cauliflower Peas Naan Pizza

Combine Cauliflower, Peas and spices with Garlic Naan to get a super delicious and easy to make Naan-iza! You will be addicted, I promise! 


P-I-Z-Z-A; one word is enough to get everyone's mouth watering! Pizzas make a regular appearance on our menu, especially on weekends. But making the same Veggie Pizza all the time can get boring. To break away from that, I make a TON of other pizzas like Chole Naan Pizza, Easy Summer Fruit Pizza, Pav Bhaji Pizza or Paneer Pizza.

Most of the pizzas I have on the blog are made from scratch. However, when I am pressed for time I choose to make pizzas from store bought pizza base. And when I can't get myself to go to the store, I use frozen naan to make pizzas. 

A couple of days ago I was craving pizza and it was pretty close to dinner time to make it from scratch. So I pulled out a few California Lavash Garlic Naan. To keep things simple, I made a super simple Cauliflower Peas sauté to top the naans. The combination was PERFECT and we had an awesome Indian inspired dinner! 



Why Cauliflower? 

Wondering why I chose Cauliflower for the topping? Let me tell you, I am obsessed with this vegetable since a while. I made a ton of recipes lately using this white beauty. From Cauliflower Sauce Mac n Cheese and Cauliflower Dipping Sauce to Gobi Manchurian and Indian Spiced Roasted Cauliflower; I have made these and many more recipes. 

Who would believe that I HATED cauliflower not long ago. And now that I like it, I guess I am making up for all the years that I refused to eat it. Now with Thanksgiving already on my mind, I am planning a couple of Cauliflower dishes to make really soon! 


Variations

I was on a small mission of finishing everything from my refrigerator the day I made this. However, if you do not like cauliflower or are looking for something different; try paneer or tofu to top the pizza. And meat eaters have a TON of options to select from. 

Another quick hack is to use leftover sabji that you might have in the refrigerator. If you have an Indian style cauliflower potato or cauliflower peas sabji cooked and stored, just add some sautéed onions and garlic to that. Mix it all and use as a topping for naans. 

If you like a loaded version, add some grated paneer or cheese to the topping. Plus, sprinkle some on top too. I chose to skip that and just sprinkled some cheese before spreading the topping. 

If you make this recipe or any other recipe from my blog, don't forget to share it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag me or use #herbivorecucina. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter for latest updates from the blog! 


Ingredients

For the Topping

Cauliflower Florets 1 cup
Green Peas 1 cup (fresh or frozen)
Onion 1/2 medium diced
Garlic 1-2 cloves minced
Turmeric Powder 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Curry Powder 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
Oil 1 tsp
Lemon Juice 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro 


For the Pizza

Plain/ Garlic Naan 2 
Mozzarella Cheese and Cheddar Cheese 1/2 cup, shredded
Onion sliced
Red Chilli sliced 


Method

In a pan heat oil and add cumin seeds. Once they pop add garlic and sauté till fragrant. Then add onion and sauté till the onions are cooked. Add cauliflower and peas, mix well and sprinkle a pinch of salt.

Cover and cook for 6-7 minutes, till the cauliflower is soft. Then add turmeric powder, Curry powder and red chilli powder. Mix well and cook covered for another couple of minutes. 

Taste the salt and add more if need be. Add lime juice and cilantro leaves; mix well. Cool till you prep the naans.


If using frozen naans, remove from packing and sprinkle cheese on the sides. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for 5-6 minutes, till the cheese melts. 

Remove from oven, spread the cauliflower topping and bake for another 8-10 minutes, till the base is crisp. Remove from oven, sprinkle some onion and red chillies. Serve warm. 

Looking for more Indian style pizzas? Try these: Chole Naan PizzaPav Bhaji Pizza or Paneer Pizza.




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Stuffed Baked (Not Fried) Zucchini Blossoms

Fresh Zucchini flowers stuffed with cheesy herb filling and baked to perfection. This low calorie version of an Italian Classic recipe is a keeper! 


Every year I start small container garden in Spring. While herbs, peppers, mint, lemongrass and cilantro are planted every year, I try a couple of new vegetables every season. This time I decided to grow Zucchini, Broccoli and Eggplant. And boy, they are growing really well. 

I decided to plant Zucchini Squash not as much for the zucchini themselves as for the blossoms. We have enjoyed an Italian version of Deep fried Zucchini blossoms stuffed with cream cheese and cottage cheese. For a long time we wanted to try a BAKED version at home. 

So while the plant slowly grew big and started bearing buds, we waited for some healthy bright flowers to make an appearance. Sure enough, they started blooming in May and we are enjoying them and the baby zucchinis so often now! 


While the only dish I have had using the blossoms is this stuffed version, I believe Eastern India also have a pakora recipe made from these blossoms. Now I have that in mind, can't wait to try them with my next lot of flowers. 

I have an unlimited supply of these flowers until spring, but if you do not have these, do not worry. I have seen many Farmer's Markets sell bags full of these flowers. Just make sure you use the flowers the same day as you buy them. It is recommended to consume the flowers in under 24 hours after harvesting.


The first time I had zucchini blossoms was in an amazing place in Boston. The Italian restaurant had these on their menu and I could not resist them. They were deep fried and all the cheese oozed out the moment you cut them. The taste was spectacular and the flavors really bold. I have been wanting to make them since. Finally, with these blossoms in full bloom, I made them recently! 




Variations

I stuffed these blossoms with a combination of cottage cheese and cream cheese. However, you can choose one or the other depending on what you like. Plus, make changes to the garlic, onion and spices with a different filling if you like. 

Another big change is that I baked these instead of frying. You can go ahead and fry them. Just make sure you wrap them really well to ensure the filling doesn't ooze out. Coating the flowers with breadcrumbs or panko helps to seal the filling in there. 

If you have small flowers, piping the filling into the flowers works really well. I like to do that to avoid spreading the stuffing all over the flowers. It works like magic! 

I can't wait to make yet another batch of these and a big batch of fried blossoms! 


Ingredients

Zucchini Blossoms 3-4
Cream Cheese 2 tbsp
Cottage Cheese 2 tbsp
Mozzarella Cheese 2 tsp
Garlic 2-3 cloves, minced
Onion 1/2 cup, diced
Basil 2-3 leaves, minced
Oregano/ Italian Seasoning 1/2 tsp
Chilli Flakes 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste



Method

Wash the flowers and remove the green parts. Wash in cold water and store in the refrigerator between paper towels. 

When ready to make, first heat oil and add garlic. Sauté till fragrant and add the onion. Sauté for a couple of minutes and turn down the flame. 

Once cool, add the cream cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella and mix well. Finally add the basil leaves, oregano, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Mix everything well.

Preheat oven to 400F/ 210 C. Fill each blossom with the filling. Ensure to keep some room to fold the edges. Push down toward the base with a spoon.

Twist the tops and seal. Place in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or till the edges start to darken; turning them over once in between. 

Remove and serve with Marinara Sauce on the side. 




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Naturally Colored Tricolor Swirl Bread

A Sandwich Bread loaf full of vegetables. Plus, this one looks really chic for a tea party or for a sandwich!  



We have into August now and it is the month full of festivals and celebrations. From Friendship Day to Raksha Bandhan and from India's Independence Day to Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi, this month is packed with fun!  To start off, I posted this Instant Microwave Peda recipe a few days ago and it is time to post something for August 15th. 

India celebrates it's Independence Day on August 15th and I like to post something Tricolor to celebrate the day. I have posted Tricolor Dhokla and Carrot, Spinach and Garlic Bread over the past couple of years and today it is yet another orange, white and green recipe! 



While it is really easy to color any food item with edible color, I prefer to make it with naturally colored products. Roasted pepper, carrots and orange juice work really well for orange color; any any of the leafy greens give a bright green color to food. 

This year I made a bread with vegetable puree added. I was pretty skeptic when I set out to slice the loaf, not knowing if the colors would come out as I wanted. The bread had just orange on top, with a tinge of white and green. See how it is so pretty inside! 




I do not think I am waiting another year to make it again. I HAVE to make another loaf as soon as I can! I think I should add Beetroot next time! Would LOVE a little pink in my bread, how about you? 

The first time I saw a bread made using vegetable puree was at a bakery in Mumbai. The place is called Gaylord's and they have some of the best breads and bakes. They had a signature loaf that was orange and green. They used tomatoes and spinach to color the bread and I used to LOVE sandwiches made from that loaf. The bread would even be great with just butter on top! 

I have been hoping to make something like that for a while, and what better than Independence day to make it. I added the white bread to signify India's flag and swirled them all together. The final product has a flavor from the vegetables, softness from the butter and an amazing texture. 



Variations

I made this bread with all purpose flour as I was not sure wheat flour would work well with all the purees. However, if you are making just one colored bread, you can definitely use whole wheat flour or multigrain flour. Here are a few breads I made using them: Whole Wheat Pizza Braid and Multigrain Pumpkin Bread.

Not a fan of Peppers? Use tomato or carrot puree as I did in this  Carrot, Spinach and Garlic Bread. However, roasted pepper gives the bread a bolder flavor compared to carrots or tomatoes. Plus, if you prefer pesto or kale or any other greens, you can add those too. Plus, if adding garlic paste to the white dough works well too. 


Last, if you do not want lo make a loaf, you can make tiny buns using the dough too. And if you are in a rush or want a different kind of bread, just let the doughs rise and then mix them together before rolling the loaf. It makes a beautiful pattern in the bread post baking! 




Ingredients

All Purpose Flour 3 cups
Olive Oil/ Unsalted Butter 3 tbsp
Red Bell Pepper 1 medium
Spinach 1 cup, packed
Sugar 1 tsp
Dry Active yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp)
Salt 2 tsp
Water as required




Method

Coat the bell pepper with oil and wrap in a piece of foil. Roast on open flame or in the oven. Keep rotating and roast the entire surface. Turn down the flame and keep wrapped for a few minutes. 

Remove the foil and peel the pepper. Also remove the seeds. Place the flesh in a blender and process to a smooth paste. Add some water if required. You should have about 1/4 cup puree.

Next, puree the spinach leaves with as little water as possible. You should have 1/4 cup spinach puree.

In a bowl heat 1/2 cup water. When just warm, add sugar, 1 tsp salt and the yeast. Let the yeast bloom for 10 minutes. 



In a large bowl, add 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature) or olive oil. Mix everything together and add 1/3 of the bloomed yeast. Knead for 8-10 minutes till the dough comes together and is soft.
Coat the dough with some oil and place it in a bowl. 


Repeat with red pepper puree and then with spinach. You should have 3 cups of dough, orange, white and green. 

Cover all the doughs and rest in a warm area for an hour till they double in size. Line a bread pan with parchment paper or with non stick spray. Set aside. 

After the doughs have doubled, punch down and knead for a minute or two. Roll out the orange dough into a large rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. I did that on a cookie sheet. 



Roll out the white dough into a rectangle of almost the same size. Place the white dough on the orange. Repeat with green and place it on the white layer. 

Roll the dough into a tight loaf, ensuring the layers stick together. Carefully transfer the loaf to the prepared tin and rest covered for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F/ 250 C. Place the bread and bake for 20-22 minutes, till it is no longer wobbly and the top is darker in color and crisp. It will become soft once it cools down. 

Remove and cool completely on a cooling rack. Slice the bread and enjoy with a side of butter or warm marinara sauce. Or use them to make sandwiches.