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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not Quite Traditional Gazpacho

Now that summer is here, it's time for us soup lovers to switch to chilled soups. And there is nothing quite like a bowl of flavorful, refreshing gazpacho to start off a picnic or a roof top meal.

I have seen tons of recipes for gazpacho, and I took these as inspiration to create my own. I know it's probably far from traditional, but it tastes good, is super easy and is packed with flavors that just scream summer.

So fill the cooler and head on down to the beach. It's time to enjoy the summer!

Not Quite Traditional Gazpacho
Serves 8

1 Red Onion
1 English Cucumber
1 Red Pepper
1 Jalepeno, seeded
5 Large Tomatoes
5 cloves Garlic
1 can Large Diced Tomatoes (28 ounces)
2 pieces Pita Bread (day old is best)
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Salt and Pepper

Garnish- Plain Yogurt

Cut all veggies into large dice. Place all ingredients in blender (in batches if necessary) and blend until almost smooth (I like mine a little chunky, but it's your preference). Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight for the best flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Quinoa Salad with Chicken & Apple

Nothing says summer like barbeques, picnics on the beach, and tasty, light summer food.

This salad is great because it is both a fresh and light accompaniment to any meal, or a healthy summer lunch or dinner! I love quinoa, but you could use couscous, bulgar, rice or even pasta in this recipe, and it would be fantastic.

I like to make this salad one evening for dinner, and keep the leftovers for lunch the next day! The perfect tasty timesaver!

Summer Quinoa Salad with Chicken & Apple
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups Quinoa
3 cups Water
4 Chicken Thighs, boneless and skinless
Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Large Apple, peel on, diced small (I used a Fuji apple but you can use whatever you have)
2/3 cup Yogurt
1/2 Red Onion, diced small
1 Zuchinni, peel on, diced small
1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Place the quinoa and the water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 12 minutes until the water is soaked up. Remove from heat and let sit for another 10 minutes or so. Fluff with a fork.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place in a pan over medium heat with a drizzle of oil and cook for about 4 minutes on both sides until cooked through. Let cool then shred with your hands.

In a large bowl, mix together lemon juice and zest and chopped apple. Stir in the yogurt. Add the onions, zuchinni, black beans, raisins and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Potato Parathas (Indian Flat Bread)

I think Indian food has to be one of my absolute favorites. The flavors are so warm, earthy and pungent. It is definitely one of the cuisines that I crave the most because of its distinctive qualities.

However, sometimes it is difficult for me to find good Indian food in restaurants, and I find that I am often disappointed. So, I have taken to making it myself. I was blessed to have visited India and tasted the cooking of a true Indian household, and am always trying to replicate these flavors at home.

And I have found a way to fit it into my work-life schedule. I mean, after all, the rumour on the street is that Indian food takes time to cook. Yes, it is true that some low and slow cooking is required, but this can be overcome with either a pressure cooker (which I have never used), or a weekend cook up. During these weekend cook ups, I make a bunch of dahl (indian lentil curry), pre portion it, and place it in my fridge and freezer for many meals to come! The best part is that it tastes better and better as the time passes.

So what is better with Indian curry than fresh Indian flat bread? And I am telling you, this is the easiest, quickest, tastiest flat bread that you will ever make!

Enjoy it with:

or my absolute, all time favorite dish,  

Potato Parathas (Indian Flat Bread)
Recipe modified slighty from Bal Arneson, The Spice Goddess
 Makes 6-8 Parathas

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 to 1 cup Water

1 cup Mashed Potatoes, room temperature
1/4 cup Red Onion, minced
1 tbsp Whole Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp Garam Masala (I made my own by using the ingredients below)
2 tbsp Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

For Garam Masala:
1 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cardamom
1 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

Combine the flour and water in a bowl and knead until it forms a smooth round ball similar to a stiff pizza dough. Cover the dough and set aside.

Put the mashed potatoes, red onion, mustard seeds, garam masala, cilantro, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well.

Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it into a disc with your fingers. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and using a lightly-floured rolling pin, roll out the disc into a thin patty (like a tortilla).

Place 1/4 cup of the filling into the middle of the patty and then fold the edge of the dough over the mixture and form into a ball, with the filling in the center. Roll out the paratha gently, being careful not to squeeze the filling out.

Put a nonstick skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and place a paratha into it. Cook until brown bubbly spots appear and then flip the paratha and cook the second side until it is done, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and brush with a little vegetable oil.

Continue until all the parathas are done.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Banana Walnut Bread

I never realized how I take banana bread for granted. I mean, it is so easy and quick to make, that I almost forget how much I love it.

Then one day, I was with a friend in a coffee shop. She reached for a slice of banana bread, pre-cut and wrapped in cellophane. And she said... "I want a piece of banana bread... I love banana bread and I haven't had it in so long!" She then proceeded to buy it for $3.00! Can you believe it? $3.00 for a slice! 

So I asked her why she didn't just make banana bread at home. After all, she is a pretty good baker. 

And her response? "I have never made banana bread." WHAT?!?!?! Never made banana bread? How could this be possible?

What about Zuchinni Bread? or Carrot Cake. No, no, no. She hadn't made any of them before.

Why? I asked.

The answer? She didn't think it would be so easy. Well, here is a recipe that proves her wrong....

Banana Walnut Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1/4 cup Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 cup Mashed Ripe Bananas, about 2 large ripe bananas 
1 1/4 cups Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf tin and set aside.

Cream together butter and vanilla. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs.
Stir in the apple sauce and the banana

Sift together the dry ingredients. Stir into wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the buttermilk and the walnuts.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until done. Cool on a wire rack.