Thursday, July 14, 2011

Potato & Vegetable Samosas

When I think of Indian food I see myself at my favorite Indian restaurant enjoying endless papadum, cool and refreshing mango lassi’s, warm cheesy garlic naan, and more navratan korma than my stomach has room for.  Up until a few months ago it never occurred to me to try and make this cuisine for myself. 

I did some research and decided to make simple saag paneer.  On my quest to make everything from scratch I spent my afternoon making the cheese and, consequently, a huge mess in my kitchen.  Then, due to my lack of all the required specialty spices, my spinach tasted nothing like what is should have.  In the end all I was left with was a craving for takeout. 

Needless to say, when we decided to make samosas, I was hesitant.  However, these samosas were much easier than I had expected.  The dough, although a little messy because of all the handling, is very simple.  These samosas can be either baked or fried, but we decided to take the healthier route.  They can be gobbled down plain or enjoyed with a mint yogurt sauce.  Here’s a tip: enlist your friends to help you when it comes to stuffing the samosas because it’ll make the tedious task go by much faster!   

Total preparation time: 50 minutes
Serves: 6

Pastry Dough: 
2 c. flour
½ t. salt
4 T. oil
6 T. water 

Unlike making regular pastry dough, fat is incorporated into the flour by a technique called  moyan dena, or by “rubbing into”.  Place the flour and salt in a bowl, make a well and pour in the oil.  Pick up some of the flour and oil with one hand and, using the same motion of washing your hands, rub the flour and oil together.  Continue this technique until the oil is evenly incorporated and the mixture is slightly crumbly.  Add the water and mix until a smooth dough is formed.  Set aside and let rest for 30 minutes.  

2 T. oil
1 T. water
4 large potatoes
1 c. green peas
2 T. curry powder
1 t. salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.  Remove potatoes from the water and let cool enough to handle.  Cube the potatoes into ¼-inch pieces. 

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the potato cubes and green peas.  Then, add the water to create steam, cover, and cook until the potatoes are soft.  Add the salt and curry powder and stir until all ingredients are evenly coated.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350  F

To stuff the samosas, roll the dough out until it’s ⅛-inch thick.  Cut circles 8-inches in diameter and then in half, creating semi-circles.  Take each semi-circle and make a cone by turning the two corners around and together.  Press the two mating faces of the dough together to form a seal.  Now, spoon the filling into the cone and crimp the dough closed using the prongs of a fork.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking periodically for browning.  They’ll be done when you can’t stand waiting for them any longer!

Mint Yogurt Sauce:

6 ½ oz. plain yogurt
2 T. chopped mint
2 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients, mix well, cover and refrigerate.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vegetable stir-fry with tofu-scallion dumplings

Once a week Andrea, Kevin, and I cook a vegetarian dinner together. Tonight we made an easy, customizable, staple dish – spicy vegetable stir-fry. An impulse buy at the Asian grocery – thin, circular wonton wrappers – led to our side for the night, tofu-scallion dumplings.  Though they were a bit labor intensive, the delicate and surprisingly authentic tasting end result was worth the work.  

The great thing about stir-fries is that you don’t need to be precise with ingredients. Just throw in your favorite veggies and a healthy handful of fresh ginger and garlic into the wok and enjoy with rice or noodles and a dash of soy sauce. This dish, especially with wholesome brown rice – is filling and nutritious!

Total prep and cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4

2 cups brown rice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbs ginger, chopped
½ package firm tofu, cubed
1 large head broccoli
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
6 oz spinach, chopped
Chili garlic paste, soy sauce, and sesame seeds to taste
Sesame oil

1.     Bring 4 cups of water and the rice to a boil. Reduce to low heat and cook for 40-50 minutes.

2.     Meanwhile, sauté garlic, ginger, and tofu in sesame oil in a large wok, until tofu starts to brown. Turn off heat and let sit until rice has 15 minutes left.

3.     Add broccoli and peppers to pan. Cover and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir spinach in and cook on low heat for two minutes more.

4.     Serve stir-fry on top of rice, adding chili garlic paste, soy sauce, and sesame sauce to taste.

16 wonton wrappers
½ package firm tofu, chopped
5 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp ginger, chopped
1 egg
Sesame oil
Soy sauce to taste.

1.     Sauté tofu, garlic, and ginger in sesame oil for about 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a small bowl.

2.     Wisp egg into another small bowl and set aside.

3.     With your fingertips, wet the outside perimeter of the uncooked wonton wrapper with egg. Put 1 teaspoon of tofu mixture in center of wrapper, and fold in half. Press wonton edges together firmly. Repeat 15 times.

4.     Bring a pot of water to boil. Submerge uncooked dumplings and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until dumpling poof out and soften. Carefully remove from water with a slotted spoon.

5.     Serve warm with soy sauce.

By - Nora Dunne


Spinach Linguine with Avocado Alfredo

This is by far one of the easiest and delicious recipes I have ever made. If you have a magic bullet, total prep time is about 10 minutes, and the pasta only takes 12 minutes to boil. It's a really good summer recipe, as it is served room temp, or even cold.

Total cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2-4

1/2 box spinach linguine (next time I want to try to make my own)
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 tbs olive oil
1 lemon
2 ripe, soft avocados
1/4 c fresh basil

1. Boil water for pasta. Add salt and 1 tbs olive oil to water. Add the pasta when water reaches a boil.

2. While the pasta is cooking, chop the garlic and put in 'Magic Bullet' along with 2 tbs olive oil, and the juice of one lemon. To prevent the lemon seeds from getting in the blender, I squeeze the lemon directly into my hand and catch the seeds. Pulse on low for just 5 seconds, or enough to mix without liquifying.

3. Drain pasta and set aside to sit at room temp.

3. Add the avocados and fresh basil to the magic bullet, and continue to pulse until creamy.

4. Top the pasta with avocado sauce and garnish with lemon zest and cracked pepper.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mexican Polenta Pancakes with Avocado & Tomato Filling

This recipe was also adapted from 'The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook,' but we added a few of our own ingredients to spice it up.

Total cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4-6

Polenta Pancake:
1/3 cup yellow polenta (cornmeal)*
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk with splash of white vinegar)
2 eggs
30g (1 oz) butter, melted
vegetable oil

Avocado Filling:
2 very ripe avocados**
6 spring onions, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 can black beans
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
(optional) tabasco or chili sauce

1. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a bowl. Combine buttermilk, eggs and butter in a separate bowl and beat to combine. Add to the center of dry ingredients. Beat until liquid is incorporated and batter is completely free of lumps. Set aside and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for roughly 20 minutes.

2. Avocado Filling: Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Scoop the flesh in a bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the spring onions, tomatoes, jalapeno, lemon juice and (optional) chili sauce.

3. Grease a small frying pan or pancake griddle with oil or butter. When hot, pour in enough batter to thinly cover the base of the pan (or to about the size of a tortilla). Cook over medium heat until the underside is golden. Turn pancake over and cook the other side. Transfer to a plate and place in a low-heat oven to keep warm. Continue with the remaining batter, re-greasing the pan when necessary.

4. When all of the pancakes are made, immediately top with cheese so it gets melty and yummy. Spread a layer of black beans on one half of the pancake and top with avocado filling. Fold the other half over and sprinkle more cheese, garnish with extra spring onion, or top with fresh ground pepper.

Notes & Variations
This recipe gets another 5 stars. After eating these polenta pancakes (courtesy of Kevin), I don't think we'll ever go back to store-bought tortillas. They were so fresh and delicious, and the subtle sweetness balanced the spice from the jalapeno and chili sauce.

The recipe calls for the polenta to sit for roughly 20 minutes, however we found that it really made no significant difference.

For other variations, try adding other vegetables such as red or green pepper to the avocado filling, or try additionally topping with fresh lettuce or spinach. You can even add refried beans or rice to the filling for a more traditional taco.

Lastly, we found that this recipe only made five tortilla sized (7") pancakes. We ended up doubling the recipe and having a few leftover. They'll be great for an egg, cheese and spinach omelet for brekkie! Or delicious with some nutella and mixed berries!

* Polenta is a complex carbohydrate that fills you up while adding valuable vitamins and minerals to your diet without the fat. It has 40g of carbohydrates and only 1g of fat per 100g.

** Many people assume that Avocados are a fat and should be avoided. Actually, avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. While still best in moderation, they also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients.


Tagliatelle with Tomato and Walnut Sauce

This recipe was adapted from 'The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook'. It's an excellent cookbook full of simple, delicious vegetarian recipes - pictures included!

Total cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4-6 (unless you find it as delicious as we did - then it only serves 2)

4 ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley*
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
500 g (1 lb) tagliatelle or pappardelle
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain the water and allow the tomatoes to cool. Peel the skin down and discard. Chop the flesh of the tomato into roughly 1/4 inch pieces.

2. Heat half the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Cook the onion for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes, parsley, red wine vinegar and wine. Reduce the heat and simmer for roughly 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Five minutes before the sauce is cooked, heat the remaining oil in a medium frying pan and add the walnuts. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes.

4. While the sauce is cooking, boil water for the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain and return to pan. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve the pasta and the sauce topped with walnuts and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese

Notes & Variations
The recipe originally calls for 1 celery stick, finely chopped, and 1 medium carrot, grated. We chose to omit these ingredients.
You can also choose to substitute canned, store-bought pasta sauce in place of the ripe tomatoes to allow a much quicker sauce cooking time if you're in a rush - although you'll sacrifice flavor and nutrients. In our recipe, we used 2 ripe tomatoes and 1 & 1/4 cups of pasta sauce. If you choose this option, the sauce only needs to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Nora and I give this recipe 5 stars. It was absolutely delicious and our plates looked just like the picture from the book. The roasted walnuts have a lot of flavor, and give this dish a 'meaty' taste and texture. It was super easy to make! Try adding other vegetables to the sauce for even more variations.

*Fresh Parsley is a vegetarian hero food. It contains 200mg of calcium and 9.4mg of Iron per 100g, and contains significant amounts of the nutrients which many vegetarian diets lack. Be generous with the parsley in this recipe. Your body and your taste buds won't regret it!