Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Basic Spinach Soup

Wintry days are upon us and we long for supper that can warm us from the inside.. We had a big bunch of fresh green spinach from the farmer's market trip last weekend. Greens lose their nutrients very quickly and I was not keen on letting this beautiful bunch languish in the crisper, so when I found this recipe, I decided to try it immediately. This soup was simplicity itself to make and warmed us up wonderfully.

- 1 big bunch Spinach, ends trimmed off
- 1 Onion, chopped into big chunks
- 2-3 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp dried Basil
- 1/2 tbsp Butter
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
- freshly ground Pepper
- Salt
- splash of milk

Toss Onion, Garlic and Spinach and 3-4 cups of water into a Pressure cooker. I didn't bother with chopping the spinach. I cooked this for about 2-3 whistles of my slow but trusty pressure cooker. Once this cools down a bit, puree till silky smooth. Took 30 seconds on my Braun Immersion blender. Add rest of the ingredients and boil for just a few minutes. I made a slurry of corn starch and added it to thicken it just a little bit, since I added too much water to start with. That's it - easy as can be and if you like Spinach, this is worth a try.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lemon Rice (Elumichampazha Sadam)

Today, we had guests over and we served Lemon Rice and Aviyal - a traditional South Indian combination that is a sure winner! I made the Aviyal from Ammupatti's blog and as do most of her recipes, it turned out excellently. I just followed it to the letter.

My lemon rice has never turned out so well, so I thought I'd jot down the recipe here.


- 3-4 juicy Lemons
- 1.5 C Rice
- 4-5 Green chillies
- 1 inch piece of Ginger
- 10-15 Curry leaves
- 1.5 tbsp Oil(preferably Gingelly)
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp Urad Dhal
- 1 tbsp Chana Dhal
- 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1-2 tbsp broken Cashews/Peanuts
- fistful Coriander leaves, chopped

Cook rice with lesser water than usual so that the grains remain separate. A good way to ensure the lemon rice doesn't end up a sticky yellow mass is to spread the hot rice around on a wide plate and drizzle with a tsp of oil to coat evenly. Now, let it cool.

Heat the rest of the oil in a small kadai/shallow container. Add broken cashews and fry until it turns light brown. Remove from hot oil and add to the rice. Next, add dhals and fry until they turn reddish brown. Remove and add to rice. Now add the mustard seeds, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds pop and the chillies sizzle, add the turmeric to the hot oil and turn off the heat. Add salt and let it cool completely. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the oil mixture and stir to mix evenly. Pour this over the cooled rice and mix gently, taking care not to break too many grains. Add coriander leaves as a garnish.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vegetable Gratin?

I made this simple dish a couple of nights ago, and it was warm and comforting supper on a cold winter night. Gratin is a French culinary preparation, where food is baked with a nice crust. One can be quite creative with the additions to the gratin and it is really a technique rather than a recipe that I'm listing here. Some vegetables and pasta, thrown together(I added the pasta for making this a one pot meal) and bound together with some Bechamel sauce and baked with a bread crumb and cheese topping. It turned out to be a hybrid of a traditional gratin and a baked pasta, but we enjoyed it nevertheless. I might try to make it more healthy the next time with some whole wheat pasta and more vegetables.

1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
1 Potato, thinly sliced
2 medium Carrots, diced
1 C Broccoli florets
1/2 lb pasta
Handful melting shredded cheese

My Bechamel sauce
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Flour(all purpose is fine)
- 1.5 C Milk
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Dried herbs(optional, I added basil)

Make the sauce, add vegetables that have been microwaved earlier and let boil for a 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with bread crumbs and shredded cheese. Bake till crust is golden(about 20 min at 375F).