Monthly Archives: March 2013

Carrot Pakora


I was asked to join with some other bloggers in a new place called Taste and Create.   Basically, you are paired with another blogger and make a recipe from their blog, take pictures, and blog about it.   Much like another group I’m a member of.  And since I really don’t go out into the blogosphere and look for more food blogs, I’m more a stumble upon and gee where did I see that recipe at person, being assigned a blog is great.   And I got assigned a doozy of one, and I’m so excited to explore it in more detail.

I love Indian food, the hotter the curry, the better, but I really only know a few dishes to make,  and this blog makes a lot of Tamil dishes, so I get to learn  about Tamil cooking as well.  And I’m also trying to eat more meat free dishes as well, so being assigned this blog Veg Nation was serendipitous.  I love that word, anyway.

And gee, guess what, we’re having Tapas this week so I get to try a recipe out on a bunch of people.    My only problem, there are too many good ones on her blog I want to try.    I want to try some of these, Corn Cheese Balls, and then there was this one, Carrot Pakora.  ,And as soon as I can locate finish making some Gram Flour, I’m making these for Tapas Night.

Roasted some canned chickpeas til they dried out.

I then put them in my spice grinder to make the meal.

Also had to make some rice flour.

Which was interesting, and even though I didn’t get it as fine as maybe it should be, I tried.

Finally I was ready to make the Carrot Pakora’s.
Grated up the carrots, and chopped the onion.

Added them to the rice and gram flour.   Mixed it together with the spices, tasted it, and added more chili powder and some cumin.  Just felt it needed it.   However, I did need to add a fair amount of water.   I didn’t measure it, but the whole mixture was so dry, that when I tried to make it into balls and fry it, they just fell apart in the oil.   And I really think I should have added even more water, cause I lost a lot of the carrot in the oil.
Since we were entertaining last night, I wanted to make these as part of our Tapas Night.
So I made the balls, and set them aside.

And fried them up a little later on, and they were very tasty, different, but tasty.   I am going to try and buy some real rice flour and real gram flour and make these again.    I liked them a lot.

These were served with a mango chutney, which I happened to buy a while ago and had no idea what I was going to use it for.  Just wanted it, in the pantry, just in case.

Here’s Veena’s recipe

2 grated Carrots
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup gram flour
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp Asafoetida  (I didn’t have any of this)
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp. cut coriander

Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them and transfer it to a bowl, add the onion and coriander and then add in the flours and the spices.   (Veena says that the moisture in the carrot is enough to mix the flours but I had to add more water).
Heat the oil in a pan or in my case, I used my Fry Daddy, ( I don’t use it often, but boy am I glad I have it.)
Make small balls of the dough and drop them in the hot oil, let them fry for about 3 minutes or until they brown up, remove from the oil and drain on some paper.

Serve warm with chutney, I used some mango chutney I had in the cupboard.

There you have it, my first recipe for Taste and Create.    And I’m so glad I was asked to join.   I got to try to make something I’d never heard of before and it was good.

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Penguin Eggs


Gotcha.

I’m not really going to tell you how to cook Penguin Eggs, really, I’m not.   But if you want to have some fun with some chicken eggs, the next time you make and bring Deviled Eggs to a gathering or just at home, try holding out a few eggs and make some Penguin Eggs.

I made these for Boat Club and got a lot of positive response, in other words, people laughed and had fun with the idea.

Now for the confession. I had planned on making some Deviled Eggs to bring with me to Boat Club, and so I boiled a dozen eggs.   I then got out my new container, the one made to hold Deviled Eggs and transport them, and counted the slots.  Well, gee, I had more eggs than slots.   And while I knew I could just go ahead and stuff the eggs and put them in the middle, and they would get eaten anyway, I decided to have fun.

I knew I had a can of black olives in the pantry, turns out it was the medium size and you really want the jumbo black olives, if you decide to play with your food too.  But the medium size  worked.
I also had some carrots in the fridge, but unfortunately I just had the slender, dieting type, you do want fatter carrots for this as well.  At least the ends have to be fatter.    But I made it work, cause that’s what I do.   And so what if one of the penguins kept falling off of his feet, I just told everyone he had too much to drink.

To start with, peel a few hard-boiled eggs.  You know how to make hard-cooked eggs and if you don’t have much luck making them, then you need one of these.

I have one I’ve used for a very long time now, they are called Eggsact Egg Timers, and all you have to do is watch the dark lines and you too can make, not only great hard-cooked eggs, you can also make soft-boiled eggs and every version in-between.  Oh and Eggsact Egg Timers have no idea who I am, I just like to share some of the great toys tools I’ve found over the years.

Didn’t mean to get side tracked there, but now that you know how to make a great hard-cooked egg, and you’ve peeled it, you’re ready for the second step.
Set the eggs aside while you open and drain the can of black olives, pick out the best looking and firmest ones.   Then get your carrots out and cut a nice slice off of the top of the carrot.  This is the foot for the penguin.  Cut a little ‘V’ out of the front, and set aside.
OK, you are now ready to assemble.  Oh, and before I forget you do need some toothpicks as well.

Take one of the eggs, and place a black olive on top, slide a toothpick through and into one of the slices of carrot, making sure the ‘V’ you cut is to the front.

And that little ‘V’ you cut out, cut that in half and use it to stuff into the little hole in the olive, and you now have a beak.

Oh, and before I forget, you also want to cut some of the olives up so you can make little wings for the Penguins as well.  Just cut a slit in the side of the egg, and slide a piece of black olive in there.  I cut the olives in fourths for that one.  Just eat the ones you don’t use.  No point in them going to waste.

When you are done with all the Penguins you’re going to make, take the rest of the olives and place them around the Penguins, and serve that way.

For transporting these guys, I did lay them down,

And here they are at Boat Club;

Go forth and have fun with your food.

Spanakopita Bites


I found some Phyllo tart shells on sale a while back and bought them without knowing just what I was going to make with them.   And then I remembered my friend Debi and the great Stuffed Grape Leaves she showed us how to make.   Well, that day we also made some Baklava and since there was a bunch of Phyllo dough scraps left over, Debi made some Spanakopita tarts.  And they were so good and disappeared so fast.

So, guess what?   I was totally shameless and stole her idea so I made some for the Boat Club Potluck this month.   I’m not using leftover phyllo dough, but I am using the phyllo or fillo if you insist, pre-made tart shells I bought.

It just so happened I also had some Feta Cheese in the fridge, as well as some Parmesan Cheese and the tart shells, and onions, and eggs, and I found a package of frozen spinach buried in the bottom of the freezer as well.   I had all the ingredients.    Don’tcha just love it when it all comes together?

   Nice little bites of goodness, well, I thought they were.   Although Debi did tell me I didn’t put enough onion in them, so next time, I’ll up the onion, or better yet remember to put the minced onion and garlic in them in the first place.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I sautéed the green onions, and totally spaced the minced onion  and the garlic clove,   sitting on the counter all by its lonesome afterwards as well.  sigh.   I was in a hurry to get these made and I forgot stuff.  So here’s the real recipe and do as I tell you, not as I did.  However, the Spanakopita Bites, still tasted good, just not as good as they could have.

30 Mini Fillo Shells, brushed with butter and set aside.

1 8 oz package of Frozen Spinach
4 oz. Feta Cheese, either the block or crumbles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
4 green onions
1/2 cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 350 deg.
Thaw the spinach and put into a colander to drain, then squeeze out the liquid.  Do a rough chop if needed, makes it easier to fill the tart shells if you don’t have to deal with a bunch of stems.
Saute’ the onions til they have softened about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, stir around for about 30 seconds, take off the heat and set aside.
Place the spinach, cheeses, onions and garlic into a bowl, then pour over the lightly beaten eggs and milk, mix together.

Spoon some of the filling into the tart shells, and bake for about 20 minutes or so until they have browned  and the egg has cooked through.

Don’t forget to sample one as you take them out of the oven, you need to make sure they are edible after all.

Serve warm or at room temperature.    You can also make these ahead of time, and just warm them in the oven for a few minutes, they are very forgiving that way.

Boat Club for March


Every month it’s the same, an astounding variety of dishes and not only variety but deliciousness abounds.    This month there was such a gracious bounty I wasn’t able to taste it all.

I do want to say Thank You to Cheryl-Ann, Quinn and Doug for hosting our monthly get-together,  we do appreciate them.

We had a crowd this month, and quite frankly some of the dishes were gone by the time I got to them.  But I did get to taste Miss Merle’s Coconut Cream Pie.  She’s a bit of a legend around here, and brought two pies for dessert.  I felt privileged I was able to snag a piece.  OK, so I went and got dessert before I finished eating my meal, I just didn’t want to miss out on the pie.

So for those who keep track of these things, here’s the round-up of the dishes that were brought and shared this month.

Deviled Eggs with Penguins guarding the olives, but they didn’t do a good job, the olives and the eggs disappeared.   See the fingers reaching for the eggs, sheesh, some people.

 

Above, some Spanakopita Bites, I’ll detail the how to’s later on.
To the right here, Meatballs in a really yummy onion gravy.   By the time I got there the meatballs were gone, but the gravy, was awesome.  Of course I’m a sucker for onions anyway.

Boiled taters and beans.

Taco Dip, and pardon the picture, but my camera decided to add some lines to this.  This was very good as well, and it disappeared in short order.

 

Above, coleslaw, the good vinegary kind.

To the left, a rice dish that was very tasty,  I love rice.

And to the right, Sausage Rolls, giggle.   Made by an English lady, so you know they were done right.   I indulged, and it made me realize just how much I love those.

Grilled Sausage cooked with some cabbage, but served separately.   Found out they are stocked in our local grocery store, so guess who’s going to buy some soon.

 

An interesting salad.  Topped with cheese and mixed nuts.  And I had managed to snag some of this as well.

Boiled Shrimp, simple and beautiful.

A salad made with apples and other good stuff.

Another plate of Deviled Eggs, which was a good thing, they are always a popular dish.

Meatballs in Mushroom gravy.    I don’t know if I should admit it, but I spooned some onto a slice of the herbed bread and had that.  I do love gravy on bread.  A little indulgence on my part.

Above some cheese and tomato topped Foccacia.

To the right, really awesome guacamole, with pico de gallo on top.  YUM

The herbed bread I had with some mushroom gravy on top.

Spinach Salad, with bacon and hard cooked eggs.   I really have to remember how much I like this kind of salad, so I can make it for myself sometime.

And last but certainly not least, Ham.  I have to learn how to make ham like this.  Tender, juicy, flavourful.

And for the desserts:

A nice mousse and cake layer.

Miss Merle’s Coconut Cream Pie.   She brought two, which was a very good thing.

Eclairs.  Nuff said.

Chocolate Cake

And last a Cherry Jello dessert.

You can understand why I didn’t get to taste everything, there was just too much food.   I did overhear one lady asking who I was, cause I was taking pictures of the food, and it was explained that I had a food blog.   And you know when you’re surrounded by awesome cooks and people who make wonderful food and best of all, share it at our monthly potlucks, it’s nice to document it a little.   And besides which, this way I get recipes and how-to’s and manage to add to my repertoire as well.

And that’s it for March, whew.   Now to see if I can figure out what to make for our Tapas Night, which is coming up.   Putting the thinking cap on…

Baklava


I’m not real fond of sweet desserts but I am helpless, when it comes to Baklava.  I simply cannot resist it.    If I see it on the menu somewhere, I’ll order it, or torture myself with   ” I shoulda/coulda had that” if I don’t get it.   I love nuts, human and otherwise.

And where I am going with this?  Well, a few months back, when Debi Jordan was kind enough to come out and show us how to make Stuffed Grape Leaves, Robin also brought the makings for Baklava.    I’ve been really remiss in not posting about that, but I didn’t have a recipe, just lots of pictures of how to make it.   And if I had realized just how easy it is to make Baklava, well, let me just say, I would have made it for years now.  And eating it as well.   Which may not be all that great cause I really have trouble not eating it when it is in the house.

Here are the basic ingredients:

Fillo Dough, sugar, butter, walnuts, lemons, honey.   Simple huh?  You put all those things together and you get WOW.
You actually start by melting some butter.  Set that aside for a minute and get the fillo dough out.  Unroll it, then, using a sharp knife cut it in half.   We actually put it on a large baking sheet.

Brush the bottom of the pan with some of the melted butter to start with.

Also, it helps to cover the fillo dough  with a damp towel once you’ve unrolled it.  This stuff dries out and gets brittle fast.  Take out a sheet of fillo dough, place it into the pan you’re using and brush it with some melted butter, repeat until you’ve built up a layer of 8 sheets.   Once it’s melted, layer the fillo dough in an oven safe pan, and brush the layers with melted butter.   Robin was working on three pans here.  But she was up to it. She knew what she was doing.    It was a regular assembly line.
If you notice, the fillo dough extends up the sides of the pan, you need at least a 2 inch deep pan for this.

After you get the first layer of fillo sheets down, and buttered, dump about a cup to a cup and a half of chopped walnuts down on top of the phyllo

Spread it out evenly, then continue with the next few sheets of fillo dough.   you do want about 8 or so sheets of dough down.    Then spread out some more walnuts, layer with more fillo sheets.  And of course each sheet gets brushed with some of that melted butter.   And no, you can’t hear your arteries clogging up, you really don’t use as much butter as you think on the sheets of fillo.

Just had to say it.

Continue on with the next layers of fillo dough, about another 8 or 9 sheets.
You then cut it all the way through to the bottom, (trust me on this, you don’t cut it after you’ve baked it).

If you happen to have a little butter left, just pour it on over the top.

You want to make the honey/sugar syrup to pour over the top while this is baking.  So go ahead and place the pan in a 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is nice and brown.

In a small pot place 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, a cinnamon stick if you choose, and about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice together and bring to a boil.  Let it cook down for about 10 minutes or so, until it is nice and syrupy.  Add the honey and stir to combine.

After you remove the Baklava from the oven, pour the honey/sugar syrup over the top, and let it rest.    You really can’t eat this right away, it needs to sit and age for a couple of days –  really it does.   I know from experience.   But after a few days, YUM is all I can say.   I had to hide this from myself, and only allow a piece every few days.   And I made that pan last, sigh.

 

Sorry had to keep taking pictures, but doesn’t this look YUMMY?  sigh, now I’m in the mood to make some more Baklava.

Hey Robin, you wanna come over my house and bake again?

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 lb Walnuts – Finely Chopped
  • 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1.5 C. Butter (3 sticks), Melted
  • 1 Package Frozen Phyllo Dough (16 oz) Thawed
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1 C. Water
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 C. Honey (Net weight 12 oz.)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla

Mix the walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together, set aside.   Melt the butter, and place in on a warming pan to keep liquid or use a small crock pot.  Works, really.
Take out the thawed phyllo dough   (notice I’m using both spellings here, just saying) and place on a large cookie sheet, cover with a damp towel.   Preheat the oven to about 325 degrees, or maybe just a tad cooler.
Take out the pan size you’re going to be using.   We used three pans here, but a nice big 9×13 pan would work.  Brush the bottom of the pan with some of the melted butter, and then place one sheet of fillo dough inside, brush it with some of the melted butter, and continue with another sheet of fillo dough until you have 8 sheets layered.   (Here is where you make a choice about how many layers you want.  You can do up to four layers of nuts and dough.  I’m going to give directions for three layers. )  Spread out 1/3 of the walnut mixture evenly over the pan.  Spread another sheet of fillo dough over, brush with butter and repeat 7 more times.  You can stagger the sheets of dough here so that they do cover the top evenly, and extend up the sides just a tad.  That helps to keep the filling inside.
Repeat with the last layer of walnuts and dough.  Take a sharp knife and cut this into squares or diamonds at this point.  Cut all the way to the bottom.   You can’t cut it after it has baked, the phyllo dough shatters.   And if you have any butter left, just go ahead and pour it over the top evenly.   Place in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an hour and bake.
While it is baking, make the sugar syrup.  Place a cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice  into a pan and bring to a boil, let it cook for about 10 minutes or so until syrupy.   Then add the honey and vanilla and stir to combine.
Pull the pan of baklava out of the oven and pour the sugar/honey syrup over.   Set aside while it cools, then cover lightly and put in a safe place for at least 1 day if not 2 or 3 for it to set up before you eat it.  If you can wait that long.

Kale Chips


So much food, so little time, lol. Just kidding, I think.

I’ve wanted to try these for a while now. Kale Chips that is, and when I found myself with a gracious abundance the other day I decided I had to make some.  Not only had I bought a little bunch of Kale last week, a friend brought me another bunch the other day and I decided it was time. I wanted to make some Grønlangkål, with the smaller bunch, for some reason I’ve craved dark leafy veggies, but with the other bunch,  I thought KALE CHIPS. So of course I did what any self-respecting person would do, I researched all the recipes I could find online. Well, a lot of them at any rate.
Do you have any idea how many people are making these and blogging about them? I mean really? A lot.

So then I went and looked at the variations, cause the basics are simple, Kale, EVOO, Salt and heat. So I found one blog and dang if I can find it again, but they added some soy sauce and sesame seeds to the kale, another one hinted at using Za’atar for seasoning and others used all kinds of exotic stuff to flavor. Me, I wanted to make the basic one first, but then I thought gee, why not do part of it with soy and sesame, but I’m going to go one further, a few drops of sesame oil in the soy sauce.

And then of course there is the Za’atar which my friend Debi Jordan (singer extraordinaire) introduced me to. I have some in my spice drawer. So I now had three flavours.

Basic instructions:
Get a nice looking bunch of Kale, then wash the heck out of them.  All those little crevices, and curly bits, they can hide dirt.

Next up, cut out the stems, you don’t need them, and they’ll do some good out in the compost pile if you got one.  I don’t yet, but I was thinking of it, so does that count?   And blot them dry or use that salad spinner you have tucked away in the corner of the cupboard, that you can never get to.  Oh wait, that’s me, sorry, I just blotted with some paper towels.  Couldn’t reach the salad spinner, but if I could have that would have been the way to go.

Sorry, got side tracked there.

Next up, tear the kale into smaller chunks, toss them with about a tablespoon of olive oil and spread them out on a baking sheet, in a single layer.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Place into a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes, then check on them.  If still limp, then bake for another 5 minutes and check again.   And don’t forget to taste test at this point either.  I did and they were good.  But they did need to be crisper so I kept at it.   Those suckers do shrink up though, wow.

(Next time I make these, I’m just going to spray the kale with some olive oil cooking spray, then sprinkle with some sea salt and Za’atar. )

I did one sheet with just olive oil and salt, and then sprinkled a little Za’atar on top, and those were good.

The soy sauce and sesame ones, not so good, but that may be my fault.   I ran out of counter space and time, and turned off the oven and left them in there after letting the oven cool down for a few minutes.   The Kale Chips got very crisp, and maybe just a little too crisp?   At any rate, I ate a few of them anyway.  They are a vegetable after all.   And you do need your veggies.

And they are all good. Giggle, and almost guilt free, well, that tablespoon of olive oil is good for you anyway, and a little salt doesn’t hurt either. But just a little. You don’t want to over do a good thing.

Got the chips done, and snacked on them for a bit, but I still have a few left, so I’m going to use them for seasoning.   I have some chicken stock in the fridge, and will crumble up a handful of these chips on top and have me some Kale soup.

That is if I have any left by lunchtime…