Jan 27, 2011

Task of creating tastes without the vice. Savory herb infused cakes

Seems like a long time back when I heard that life isn't about tasks, it is also about tastes. 

But sometimes it seems that such tastes often come at a price that we end up paying in terms of calories, among other things that we wish we did not have to pay. When the king of a distant land said that life is about tastes, he probably did not have to think of the task  of making food the way we do  and with the things we have, now. He could take hours at a breakfast table, go riding, take a hot soak and then go..I don't know. Somewhere where I can't go. And nor can you for that matter. Ad return to well laid tables full of fantastic casseroles and souffles.

And with all the handicaps I have the King of the distant land did not-- a lab to go to, articles to write, walks to take, gardening to do,cook -- I still think I have a better life over that king.  You know why?

I am living my life first hand. And nowhere am I living it better or more in touch with reality than when I am makin food. I pity that king who had only the idea of tastes. But no idea about the lovely task of creating that taste. I feel I have a privilage, something I am sure you guys will agree because love the task of creating the tastes that wowed the king of the distant land but with a little less of the vices. 

And here is one table that I laid, that I think surpasses a king's table. Set on a lovely sunny january morning, here is what we had for breakfast

A fruit and veggie salad-- with ingredients and herbs from my home grown garden
And ...french savory herb infused cakes--without bacon, cheese and cream. But with yogurt and milk.  

Did you know that yogurt was a really great substitute for cheese, especially in savory cakes? And that you could use mushrooms to get over bacon?

You won't miss out on any of the grand taste and you can even feel great about makin eat and eatin it.

Here is a recipe for the savory herb cake!

 1/2 cup of milk. I used 2% reduced. But you can use whole milk or even light cream
1 tsp of fresh or dried rosemary
1 Pack of mushrooms, sliced. Good substitute for Bacon
3 cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 heaping cup of all purpose flour
2 tsp of baking powder
5 medium eggs
6 tbsf of olive oil
1 cup of yogurt mixed. A very good substitute for cheese.
2 tbsf oregano
1 tbsf dried or fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

How to do it

Preheat oven to 350F

  • Bring the half of the milk to a boil and add the rosemary. Stir well. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Strain the milk and discard the rosemary.
  • In a skillet, heat 2 tbsf olive oil. Add the sliced mushroom and garlic and fry for about 3 mins. Till mushroom turns deep brown.Cool
  • In a bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. With a whisk beat in the eggs one after the other, beating well after every addition. 
  • Add the rosemary infused milk and 4 tbsf of olive oil.
  • Stir in the fried mushroom and garlic, yogurt, oregano, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Pour into a 9 inch bread pan and bake for 35-40 min, till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in the racks for 5-10 mins

Slice and serve while still warm

All that's french and grand  but without the vice :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jan 24, 2011

A dish for mondays-- fish in parsilade

It is monday..and there is no accounting for the rush and crush. Though I have yet to figure out what exactly it is about Monday, that hurries everyone and everything so. I have to say it must be something in the word itself. Quite frankly I like Mondays. I start to feel as if I have the whole week to complete everything.  Things that I haven't completed in the last week, the week before that one and in all the weeks I had so far in my memory. I get stressed on Friday's when I feel very unproductive and wish it was monday all over again :)

Of course after the wine and walks in the woods on Saturday :)

But yes Monday brings hope If it is rainy, wintery, flurry or plain old sunny..here is a dish that will wake you up to Monday and everyday of this week

Sepions a la Plancha-- French makes it sound simple, delectable and fresh :)

Make a mixture of  8 cloves of garlic, half a cup of parsley, half an onion ( finely chopped) salt, pepper and 3-4 tbsf oilve oil. On a dry skillet, throw in your small fish fillets, cuttle fishes or whatever variety of mollusks you are using. Let each side 'seal' (don't move around stuff) for 1-2 mins on the hot surface, before turning them. Let the other surface seal for another 1-2 mins. Transfer the sealed fillets on to a tray, add the mixture, also called parsilade, toss and broil on low for about 6-8 mins.

Have with wine

Your Mondays just got a little slowed down

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jan 17, 2011

A vacation that never ended ...a Pineapple upside down cake happened.

Quit your job
Buy a ticket 
Get a tan
Fall in love 
...and Never return

On a July afternoon a painter was leaving town. All his life he wanted to make money selling his panting.  After ten years of futile efforts he figured Miami was not interested in his art. He decided to leave town and on his way tout, he  saw a big newly opened store window. With angry strokes, he wrote the above lines. 
Another  explorer was leaving town that very night. He was in Miami for a short stopover before heading off to his campsite in the Everglades. His campsite was his home from home in Ireland. He spent about eight months tucked down in the glades. He stopped for a smoke on his way to the station. When he looked up he saw the freshly painted words on the store window.

I  was in Miami a couple of years ago. Seeing these words scrolled on a store window I got curious. It turned out to be a T shirt message writing service. While I was waiting for the same words to be scrolled on a white T shirt, in walked the owner. A businessman to the hilt. We got chatting and I remarked on the lucky one who managed to take a vacation and never return. The owner smiled, tipped his hat and walked away.

Later I learned...that night the explore after his smoke, went into the desert place next to the store and ordered a slice of upside down pineapple cake.  He bit into it absentmindedly. But as the moist, sugary, caramelized pineapple slice struck his palette, it was like lightening. He was speechless. He ordered a whole cake. And then another and then another. Three cakes down and a owner speechless later, he walked out. The next day he bought the store and opened a T shirt writing business. The best in town. 

Guess the painter did not know what he was missing that day he left for good.
If you are here for a stopver, you can leave. And if you are planning on a vacation from this blog, you can't anymore. For here is that Pineapple Upside down cake that turned the explorer into businessman and without which a businessman turned into an explorer (?).
Can't win either way :)

Upside down Pineapple cake (recipe adapted from Paula Dean)

2 cup all purpose flour + 1 tsp for dusting
1 1/4th  cup sugar
1 stick of butter molten + 1/3th stick molten separately + 1 tsp for coating the pan
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/8th tsp of  salt
1 can of sliced pineapple.
1 cup pf brown sugar
1 9 inch round pan

Butter and dust the pan
Spread the brown sugar on the pan. Coated the bottom completely.
Pour 1/3th stick of molten butter evenly on top of the sugar. Now place the four slices.
In a bowl beat the rest (1 stick of butter) for 2 mins.
Add the sugar slowly and keep beating till foamy. About 3 mins.
Add the eggs one at a time and keep beating well after adding each one.
Now add the vanilla.  
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder.
Add the dry mixture to the egg-sugar –butter mixture. BUT along with the milk. Start with the flour mixture followed by the milk. Do this is three installments, beginning and ending with flour. Beat well.
Now, carefully spread the batter over the pineapple in the baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350F for 8 mins. Place the pan in the warm oven and bake for 1 hour, or till tooth pick comes out clean when inserted in the center
Turn off oven and let the  cake rest inside the warm oven for 15-20 mins. Take it out and let it cool completely. 1 hr.
Loosen the edges by running a knife around the edges in a smooth motion. Place your hand on the cake and carefully flip the pan. Tap the back of the pan gently till cake comes out :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jan 4, 2011

Sur la table-- a salt plate that serves a million needs

A very happy 2011...I guess is in order? :) :)

I can't help..absolutely can't help but reflect on how quickly the years go by. And it wasn't thaaat long ago when new years seemed well paced. I remembered events and non events making the space between two consequitive years. Now..they seem on top of each other. Years whizz by and it is only on the first of each year do we see-- for real-- the years that are passing as by. 

We are going faster and faster and faster...and yet we are going the same way to the same place in the same direction. I ask you guys today..can we pause for a heart beat to see and soak in the year that went by? I am a little afraid that we are missing out on a few things in our earnestness to go faster..

Did I just kill the mood for the new year..?

Fear not! This is a foodie here and with foodies around there are no mood killers.  So here is what I did in my new year to pause-- even turn back time. Aha! I got your attention here...haven't I?

Tada!! I got this fantastic salt plate for my December birthday from R! 

A salt plate cut from Himalayan salt slabs up  in Pakistan. Pink salt plates. And the best thing is this: each plate is hand cut and hence unique. Mine has a big crack and that's just that way it is :) And it turns pink and glowing once you put it on a flame. You can use it inside the oven and also to serve. A serveware- bakeware-cookware-grillware. With no technology but just a slab of salt. And oh it acts to season your food in its own unique saltly way. And no need to wash too! the salt is an antibiotic :)

Unique salt plate that reminded me of how someone back in the days may have discovered this little mine and ended up grilling food over open flame...but for the first time on that slat plate. And you know what..that is exactly what we did. Grilled fish with raw vegetables over open flame. Time did stop and home smelled off grilled fish over salt plate that has not seen any technology. It was glorious...

The smoke and smell sealed in the memories of 2010 while welcomin in 2011...leasurely. The way I and R like it
cheers and happy new year...here is to a slow languorous one :)