May 23, 2011

Mustard-chili garlic flavored vegetable Gnocchi-- what is so Italian about it anyway?

You can't get creative, unless there are constraints.

All in favor..stay tuned to this post.

Now that I have been living alone for sometime (soon to be over as R is joining me in a day or so), my grocery list has to say it...' longer shelf life'. That is good. And not so, as well. You see, if I buy something, then I must come up with recipes to use them (I am a compulsive cook. I cannot exist without venturing into the kitchen. Just 15 minutes with all the flavors and the stress just drains away). And that means having to find ways of making so called ' incompatible' ingredients marry each other.
I find this job surprisingly easy. Mixing and matching and pots and pans--quite the wizard in the kitchen. The elf in the window is a fun experience. And believe it or not, the recipes that come out of those thoughts are really some of the most flavorful and unique ones, I have so far been able to conjure up. 

Take yesterday. I had panko (Japanese bread crumbs), some gnocchi (Italian potato pasta), lot of veggies ( I always have tons on hand) and whole mustard (a thoroughly Indian spice). The result was this awesome, flavorful pasta dish that is treat for the eyes, heart and the belly. Take a look at the 

Mustard-chili garlic flavored vegetable Gnocchi

1/2 a pack of gnocchi
1 small onion
2 medium tomatoes. Cubed
Slices carrots (1/2 cup)
sliced mushrooms (2-3 cup)
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp Tomato-Basil seasoning.
 2 handful of panko 
1/2 tsp pf whole mustard
1/4th tsp pf dried chili flakes
1 tsp of good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Some basil and a slice of lime for garnish

Prepare Gnocchi according to package directions. But all you do is heat tons of water till it come to a boil. Add salt liberally. Throw in the Gnocchi. And cook for 8-10 mins. Drain and reserve

That said, lets get to food. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard and chili flakes till they sizzle. Add all the other ingredients. Cook for 3-4 mins till the tomatoes break a bit, the onion  and mushroom softens. 

Add the panko. Stir for a minute. Add the gnocchi. Stir and toss. Season with salt, pepper and tomato Basil seasoning.
Garnish with Basil and a slice of lime.  
Have it hot.

And never say incompatible..ever :)

Happy eating and healthy living!!

May 18, 2011

A word about Pizza

As if... there was still even the remnants of a letter left to be said on this subject.

But even when the last of the very last words have been spoken--about anything, for that matter--- there still is the epilogue. So I, decide to write the epilogue for the age old ...Pizza.

No problems, I suppose?
You will have some in a minute..I promise :)

I was born a pizza hater. Ever since I heard the word Pizza, almost fifteen years ago, from a cousin who went to study food management....I knew, absolutely knew, I would not like it. And the first bite was almost my last, some fifteen years ago. Seven years later, when I first moved to the United States, I hated the smell of pizza. Stale drippy cheese 'topped' with some chunks of stuff which smelt equally stale and infinitely revolting. Hello! Domino's, Pizza Huts and Papa John's and all of you, I hope you are reading this post :)

I still do. I mean, hate the low cost-stale-smelling Pizza. Luckily, I was introduced, by sheer chance, to gourmet Pizza in the last couple of years. And here I must mention the wood fried, thin crust, mostly veggie pizza from Regent's Pizzeria in San Diego. Right by where I live. I still remember the first bite. Garlic, basil, tomato and light warm cheese and crusty edge. Me and R (a fellow pizza hater) had one of the best pizza that night. I was a convert from that moment.

Ever since that fatefully lucky nite,  I have been open to gourmet pizza. A world away from pizza. And yet there is no mistaking the pizzaness in these dressed up versions. Last week although, I discovered  two of the best gourmet pizza places I have had the chance of eating in. One of them is Oggi in Cambridge, MA and the other is ..I have to look that one up. But it is right in Harvard square. You cannot miss the queues in front of that store.

By no means the only two... as I have told you, I am open to a lot of them. But these are difficult to beat. 

Deliciousness in every cent of the 2.50$ a slice and flavor in every breath between the bites. Fresh ingredients. Really creative combination. They are gourmet without a price tag. I crave one of these every day. Not that I give in....but says much about the place when a pizza hater craves a bite.

If you are town and care for some good pizza...come by to these places. For an experience that is locally gourmet.

My favorite in both these places...or actually even in Regent's too is tomato, basil, roasted garlic and eggplant. Bit of red pepper flakes and some time on your hand. I have to say. An Indian from India, with no palette for pizza and cheese votes for the right to write an epilogue on Pizza :)

But then I started hating red of starting with the wrong food :) I meant foot, of course.

Happy eating and healthy living!

May 12, 2011

All about Mushrooms

You heard right! lately it has all been about the fungus that tastes so rustically.... good

I know a lot of people who trashes mushrooms. The pretexts? No flavor, strange texture, fishy smell...the list is as endless as is baffling. Anyways, I seem to love this one. For all the reasons it is un justifiably hated. It has a subtle rustic flavor, that gets enhanced when lightly sauteed with fresh ingredients. The fresher the ingredients, the lighter the sauteeing and the more flavor you can build on it, the better it gets.

I have been having some form of mushroom for a couple of weeks now. Here is how it goes.

Usually it has capers, bell peppers, roma tomatoes, some bit of onion, a heavy dose of garlic and the best smelling Sicilian extra virgin olive oil. Sauteed on low heat for no more than a minute or two and had with tons of pepper, basil (or sage). With some crusty bread and smoked salmon (or canned sardines) on the side. A glass of red is always a great thing of course :)

Summer is here..and the bloom continues.

Happy eating and healthy living!

May 5, 2011

Right of the packages-- Sardines and mushroom with Gnocchi and Tomatoes

We all have those days. So you will know the feeling

Away from home. Tons of work. Stress building up. No time for major food adventures with food?  That can't be true! The best thing about food is that it is an adventure. A gourmet burger at a fancy restaurant or a bowl of Ramen. As the warm food finds its way to your table, the adventure begins...
 Only when you cook, though...the fun begins with the grocery store. And in the midst of all that stress and blues, a bit of color and fiddling in the kitchen sure does good for the nerves, not to mention the stomach. 
Today I share with you a simple meal that you can whizz up from semi cooked stuff, but will make you feel at home...anywhere and anytime. 

Sardines and mushrooms with Gnocchi-tomato-basil

A couple of big cloves of garlic, minced
One green pepper
Handful of mushrooms. I like baby bellas. Sliced.
A handful of baby spinach
1 handful of Roma tomatoes, halved. Feel free to use any tomatoes
Two cans of smoked sardines. In olive oil, please
1 tsp of your favorite herb. I like Basil.
Half a packet of gnocchi.
Salt and pepper to taste

All you need is an appetite for good food and some adventure :)

Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and reserve. In a skillet, add all the other ingredients. Saute briefly. The oil of the sardines is all you need. Add the Gnocchi. Saute for another minute. Serve it and have it...with some dry red to boot

A cure for yourself...and others
Happy eating and healthy living!