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Daring Cooks make Rice with mushrooms, Tofu, Potatoes and artichokes

Posted by vivnidhi on August 14, 2009

Vegetarians Win!! Yeah well, I should not rejoice so much. My expertise at preparing any non-vegetarian food is pretty bleak………and if I have to cook seafood, its worse. I (with the husband’s help 😉 , of course ) can handle salmon well now ….and we know when it is done, but the rest of the stuff leaves me shivering. I tried making scallops thrice and only once did I get it right, rest of the times the family could not eat leather. So, this time we attempted squid…..and I FAILED ……….and hence, everybody ate vegetarian…….YEAH!!

Before I say anything about what I made and what happened, I must mention the accompaniment. This month I learnt to make allioli (the traditional way) and it is just phenomenal. No garlic lover should not – not try it.  To me , it was like tasting sheer bliss. I LOVE garlic. I can eat allioli with bread, pasta, roti, parantha, of course rice , just about anything (OK, spare the desserts 😉 )

This month’s challenge was hosted by Olga of  Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes . . She chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain.  (Please note Olga’s tips (2) and (3) at the bottom for alternative cooking).

Allioli is my favorite and so lets begin with that. I made it the traditional way and just loved it. This will be made a lot in my house. A lot of people find it strong, but for this spice accustomed tongue, it was just great!

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Allioli…..the traditional way

 

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
Ingredients:

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  4. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
  7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  8. Add salt to taste.

José’s tips for modern recipe:
(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

Why did I FAIL? OK, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to food. If a recipe calls for an ingredient and that ingredient is within my means, I try and go the extra mile. Well! in this case several extra miles around the town and just would not find the short grain Spanish rice. I went crazy and really could not believe that I could not find it. (I saw it at Kroger after I had finished all my experiments.) Anyway, I got short grain brown rice !!! Guess what I cooked sea food till the brown rice got tender. now who could eat what I had dished out? The husband, who could not believe his ears (and was really pleased) when I told him that I would be buying squid for him, asked me to never buy that stuff again :-)) . So all ate my vegetarian basmati version 🙂 . 

Here is the recipe:

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Equipment:

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or frozen if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • Tofu 1 block cubed and baked at 400 F for 15 minutes
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 Potato  cubed
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below) (pronounced so-frito)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Basmati rice – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional

Directions:

  1. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the tofu cubes in the pan.
  2. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  3. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  4. Add a bay leaf to the tofu and add also the artichokes,potatoes and the mushrooms.
  5. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  6. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  7. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  8. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  9. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  10. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  11. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  12. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

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Sofregit ingredients: Onion, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Sofregit tastes superb with just about anything.

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Sofregit’s ready!

Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
(7) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

My first attempt at cooking Spanish food apart from Sangria and we had a lot of fun in spite of the failure. The husband made  some sangria and I made flan. Thanks for a good meal Olga. Dinner’s ready!!

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Rice with mushrooms, tofu,  potatoes and artichokes

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Some Crema Catalana too…. (Olga’s recipe)

Expenditure:

Artichokes 2………………………..from Meijer ……………..$ 3.34 (I had bought some from Randazzo for 59 c each…..ah supermarkets)

Mushrooms 1 lb……………………..from Kroger …………….$ 1.00 (deal, deal)

Short grain Brown rice 1 lb…………from Arbor farms market $ 1.69

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Total……………………………………………………………..$ 6.03

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Posted in - Bay Leaf, -Artichoke, -Cumin seeds, -Garlic, -Green Bell Pepper, -lemon, -mushrooms, -Olive Oil, -Onion, -Oregano, -Potatoes, -Saffron, -Tomato, -White Wine, Alcohol | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

American Chop Suey

Posted by vivnidhi on July 14, 2008

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The “AMERICAN CHOP SUEY”

Almost all restaurants serving Chinese food in India boast of the “American Chop Suey”.

American Chop Suey (also American Goulash, Chili-Macaroni, Chili-Mac, Mac ‘n Beef, Macaroni and Beef, or simply Macaroni) is an American pasta dish. The preferred name and recipe varies by region, for example, the name American chop suey is most prevalent in New England. Commercial preparations of this dish are commonly marketed as Macaroni and Beef. Classic American chop suey consists of elbow macaroni and bits of cooked ground beef with sautéed onions and green peppers in a thick tomato-based sauce. Though this decidedly American comfort food is clearly influenced by Italian-American cuisine, it is known as a chop suey because it is a sometimes-haphazard hodgepodge of meat and vegetables.………….source Wikipedia

Food historians generally agree that chop suey as we know it was invented in the United States in the mid-1800’s, possibly by one of the Cantonese immigrants who flooded California searching for work. Constrained by the lack of Asian vegetables, and trying to produce a Chinese dish palatable to westerners, a Cantonese cook stir-fried whatever vegetables were handy, added some meat or chicken, and served the finished product on a plate of steamed rice. He christened his creation, chop suey, which is the English pronunciation of the Cantonese words “tsap seui” (“tsa-sui” in Mandarin) which means “mixed pieces”. …………source Chinesefood.about.com

Anyway, American chop suey is quite a favorite of a lot of people and its quite wholesome and delicious too.  Here is a recipe that I learnt from a professional cook Mrs. Minocha in Aurangabad , India.

The recipe:  (4 servings)

For the Noodles:

  • Maggi/Ramen/Mama noodles  2 Packs (200 grams)

For the Sauce:

  • Garlic 7 cloves (minced)
  • Tomato sauce/Ketchup 1 cup
  • Soya Sauce 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Sugar 1 1/2 Tbsp.
  • oil 1 tsp.
  • Corn starch 1 Tbsp. (called corn flour in India)
  • salt to taste

For the Vegetables:

  • Onion 1 sliced lengthwise
  • Green Bell Pepper/Capsicum 1 sliced thin
  • Cauliflower 3 Flowerets chopped
  • Carrots 2 sliced like matchsticks
  • Green Beans 7-8 french cut(lengthwise)
  • Soya sauce 1 Tbsp.
  • Crushed Black Pepper 1/2 tsp.
  • Oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste

The actual recipe called for Mama noodles first boiled in salted water and then deep fried. I used Maggi masala Atta (whole wheat) noodles (available in Indian grocery stores) . Ramen noodles can easily be substituted. I did not use the masala sachet i.e. the seasoning. I sprayed the noodles with oil spray and put them in a preheated oven. 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Make sure to keep moving them every 3-4 minutes to avoid them getting burnt.

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Noodles on the baking tray

For the Sauce: Heat the oil and fry the garlic for 1 minute.  Add tomato sauce, red chilli powder, salt , soya sauce and sugar. Add 1- 1/2 cups water. Let the whole thing come to a boil. Mix the corn starch with 1 Tbsp. cold water and add it to the sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 more minute. Orange color is added in Indian restaurants but I have never felt the need to do so.

For the vegetables: First par boil cauliflower in a little salted water. I used the microwave for 1 minute. Heat oil in a wok and fry onion for a minute. I use high flame for the vegetables. Next add the capsicum and cabbage. Next add carrot, green beans and cauliflower. Mix well. Next add salt, soya sauce and crushed black pepper . Mix well and turn off the heat. The key is to keep the vegetables quite crunchy.

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Baked noodles, sweet & sour sauce and Chop Suey Vegetables

To assemble: First make a layer of the vegetables. Add fried noodles on top and pour the hot sauce on top of the noodles. Indianized American Chop Suey is Ready!!

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Dinner’s ready. The crunchy noodles had to be hidden cause the son couldn’t keep his hands off them!

This Indian-Chinese “American Chop Suey” (Shouldn’t we be thankful it does not involve more countries;) ) is headed to DK of DK’s Culinary Bazaar for AWED Chinese. This is the main course……….a complete meal in itself. Hence it is also headed to Archana of Archana’s Kitchen for Monthly One dish Meal event. Enjoy!!

Preparation time for this would be about 20 minutes and cooking time would be 25 minutes.

Posted in -Cauliflower, -Garlic, -Green Beans, -Green Bell Pepper, -Onion, -Tomato Sauce, -Whole wheat flour | Tagged: , | 25 Comments »

Here’s Hot and Sour Soup

Posted by vivnidhi on May 31, 2008

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This is a big favorite in  the house with “Indian Chinese” food. So, here’s a soup- Chinese but completely Desi. Credit for this recipe goes to Mrs. Minocha of Aurangabad, India who taught us to cook Indian Chinese food. A lot of my friends and I have learnt some good cooking from her.

The Recipe:

  • Green Bell Pepper 1 chopped coarse
  • Cabbage 1/2 cup chopped thin
  • carrots 2 cut into cubes
  • Green Beans chopped into 2 ” lengths 1/2 cup
  • cauliflower 2 flowerets broken into smaller pieces
  • garlic 6-8 cloves minced
  • Soya Sauce 4 Tbsp.
  • Vinegar 1 Tbsp.
  • sugar 1 tsp.
  • Black pepper powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
  • Cornstarch 3 Tbsp.
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Spring onions 1 bunch chopped fine
  • Boiled egg whites 2 chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste

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Getting ready for the soup

Heat the oil and fry garlic for a minute.

Add cauliflower, french beans and carrots. Fry a little more till they soften a wee bit.

Add red chili powder and 6 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil and then add soya sauce, sugar, vinegar, bell peppers and cabbage. Boil the soup for a couple of minutes more.

Lastly add spring onion and black pepper powder. Make a paste of cornstarch in cold water and and add to the soup. Taste for salt and vinegar. Add more if desired and serve hot.

Bow when you are praised;)

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The soup’s hot!!

I would like to send this as an entry to Eat Healthy – Fiber Rich, an event hosted by Sangeeth.

And yes, this is also my entry to Fortune Cooking Contest hosted by Nithu & Shriya. It is dedicated to my mother whose sun sign is cancer, hence she qualifies with the cauliflower entry and she loves the soup too.

Now, are there any other events missing my entries??

Posted in -Cabbage, -Carrot, -Cauliflower, -Garlic, -Green Beans, -Green Bell Pepper, -Spring Onions, -Tofu, Eggs | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Indian Chinese Menu for the JIHVA

Posted by vivnidhi on May 31, 2008

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Bell Peppers, Tofu and a budding cook’s hand

In everyday Hindi, Jihva means tongue. This week, my jihva has been devoid of taste, thanks to a lingering cold. So, the jihva needed something really spicy to perk it up. And, this month’s VOW-JFI hosted by Pooja of The Creative Ideas calls for bell peppers. This is my entry for the two year completion of Jihva started by Indira of Mahanandi.

Excuse for me to cook up something Chinese (only in the US, I realized that there is an authentic Chinese also;) , otherwise our Desi Chinese was Chinese food to me:) ) I can’t think of “Indian Chinese” food without capsicums (bell peppers, got carried away to India again) So, tonight’s menu is Hot and sour soup, Chilli Tofu Fry and Rice!

Here’s Chili Tofu Fry for you. Well, I know you sort of make it too, but try this too……….oh please try it. Its good you know, its been experimented upon, its the best……….it is ………..try it please.

now what do you want me to beg…………

OK, people , try it if you feel like:)

The Recipe:

  • Tofu Extra Firm 3 slabs chopped in cubes
  • Green Bell Peppers 2 chopped lengthwise thin
  • Garlic 6 cloves minced
  • Spring Onions 4 chopped fine
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tsp.
  • Soya Sauce 4 Tbsp.
  • Black Pepper Powder 1/2 tsp.
  • sugar 1 Tbsp.
  • Cornstarch 1 Tbsp.

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All chopped up

Place the tofu pieces on a greased baking sheet and spray some on the tofu as well. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Turn over and bake for 10 minutes more.

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Baked Tofu

Spread the julienned bell pepper on the baking tray and spray some oil on it too. Bake at 400 degrees F till they are crisp on the sides.

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Crispy bell pepper

Heat the oil and fry garlic till it turns light brown. I had to run around my son as he ran away with the spoon. So, mine were dark brown but that was fine too:)

Add 1-1/2 cups of water and increase the heat to high. Once the water starts boiling add soya sauce, sugar and tofu pieces. Next add bell peppers, spring onions and black pepper powder.

Make a solution of cold water and cornstarch.  Add to the tofu chilli fry and its ready! Best served immediately. OR the sauce can be made ready and then add the tofu and bell pepper and heat just before serving.

Tastes great with rice , though my son ate it with roti as his mother refused to make any other curry. The Husband was pleased, now what else do I want in life, huh?

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Tofu Chilli Fry is ready….now, will you try it…….please….

Posted in -Garlic, -Green Bell Pepper, -Spring Onions, -Tofu | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »