Potato Skins

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My third recipe for this theme of USA cuisine was supposed to be this awesome s’mores mug cake. The only mistake I did was to wait to make it till the last minute because, mug cake. How difficult can it be? Mix ingredients and microwave for a minute, duh! But then I tried to be smart and made some changes to the ingredients and then it crashed badly, like really badly. Then I figured I would stick to the recipe but found I was out of some ingredients. Yeah, mug cake can actually cause so much grief. Anyway I fell back on potatoes which is the ultimate saviour as also very American. The added benefit is that the daughter loves it and I figured a cool way to sneak in veggies inside all that cheese. So not everything ended badly!

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The original dish is potatoes, bacon and cheese. But I needed a vegetarian version of it and so I replaced the bacon with some vegetables and also some cheese with butter and landed with a super easy evening snack.

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Potatoes 4

Garlic butter 2 tbsp

Onion, small 1/2

Tomato, small 1/2

Mozzarella, grated 4-5 tbsp

Salt

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • Cut the potatoes vertically in half and scoop out the flesh as much as you can leaving just the skin and little flesh
  • Melt the garlic butter and apply it on both sides of the halves and scooped potatoes
  • Place it on a baking tray skin side down and bake for 10 minutes
  • Turn the potatoes over and bake for another 10 minutes
  • Finely chop the onion. Deseed and finely chop the tomato
  • Mix the two with salt and pepper or any other seasoning
  • Take out the potatoes and turn them over
  • Fill each half potato with the onion tomato mixture
  • Top it with grated mozzarella cheese
  • Bake for 2-3 minutes or till the cheese melts
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. You can use plain butter or any other flavoured butter instead of the garlic butter
  2. The filling can be any vegetable of your choice like carrots, peas, corn, mushroom, etc. In that case you have either sauté it before adding it to the potatoes or bake it for 10 minutes with the potatoes but add the cheese in the final 2 minutes.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Cuisine of USA.

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Quick Bread – Zucchini Bread

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We had the children’s day celebration at our apartment complex for which they organised a drawing and colouring contest. Sounds good, right? But no. Parents were breathing down the necks of the little ones (read 8 to 10 year olds!) giving them detailed instructions on what they need to draw or the colour they need to use. My daughter made those sad puppy dog eyes making me feel like an ignorant negligent parent in contrast. I have been ranting ever since to all and sundry about how parents need to leave their kids alone to take their own decisions and make their own mistakes so that they can learn their own lessons. Then I found out that the kid whose mom gave the maximum instructions actually won the contest. Now I am in two minds – maybe I should have helped her afterall. She would not have been heartbroken about not winning. But then maybe this will help her deal with life better in the long run. Parenting is tough! Rant complete and I am feeling better already.

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Now on to the dish of the day. I luckily found zucchinis at the local supermarket much to my surprise. I grabbed it and simply had to make a zucchini bread. It turned out fabulous especially with all that cheese in it. Since it is a quick bread, I could eat some before the daughter was back from school and became competition. Yay!

I have begun to replace all purpose flour with wheat flour in most recipes except yeast bread where I think they make a significant difference to the airiness of the bread. In muffins, quick breads, etc. I can manage a reasonable amount of lightness to the dish with whole wheat flour. You could use all purpose flour in this dish just as the original recipe.

Adapted from here

Makes one 7″ loaf

WHAT WE NEED

Zucchini, grated                      3/4 cup

Whole wheat flour                 1 cup

Baking powder                        1 tsp

Baking soda                              1/4 tsp

Salt                                             1/2 tsp

Milk                                            1/2 cup

Apple cider vinegar                1 1/2 tsp

Egg                                              1

Olive Oil                                    1 1/2 tbsp

Cheddar cheese, grated         1/2 cup heaped

Mixed herbs                             2 tsp

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper
  • Squeeze the grated zucchini gently to release some liquid. I did not do it because I used whole wheat flour which absorbs more water and I did not want the bread to be dry. Squeeze out some liquid (around 2 tsp or so) if you are using all purpose flour.
  • In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together
  • In another bowl, combine the milk and vinegar. Any vinegar will do. I used apple cider vinegar
  • The milk will curdle a bit. Then add the egg and oil and mix well
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine ensuring no dry flour is left
  • Add the zucchini, cheese and mixed herbs and mix lightly
  • Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour
  • If the toothpick inserted comes clean, the bread is done
  • Cool it for 10-15 minutes in the loaf tin and then unmould it on to the wire rack to cool further
  • Once it is completely cooled, (around an hour) slice and serve
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Cuisine of the USA.

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Khachapuri

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At first glance, the name Khachapuri does sound like a chaat available at Chowpatty beach in Bombay, somewhere between sookha puri and pani puri. But probe further and you discover that it is a traditional Georgian bread filled with cheese. In fact, it is the national dish of Georgia. It is usually shaped like a boat and filled with cheese, egg and sometimes few other ingredients. The crust is ripped off and used to dip in the cheese for a mouthful of bliss. Sulguni is the most commonly used cheese in Georgia but it is replaced with mozzarella and other cheese in other countries. Since it is a staple food in Georgia, the price of making the khachapuri is used a measure of inflation, called the Khachapuri Index. I am unable to think of any reason for why I should not migrate to this European country. Sigh!

I made a few changes to this dish because the husband and daughter are not big fans of cheese plus they need a spicy version of every dish. So I replaced part of the cheese with some fresh paneer / cottage cheese. Then I crumbled it and mixed some chilly powder, mixed herbs and salt into it. So, for the first time the husband asked for seconds and that is when I realized how much happier I was when he would not and I had all the delicious bread to myself.

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Country – Georgia

Recipe adapted from here

Makes 2 large breads to serve 3-4 people

WHAT WE NEED

For the dough

All purpose flour                            1 3/4 cups

Sugar                                                 1 1/2 tsp

Salt                                                     1/2 tsp

Instant yeast                                    1/2 tsp

Lukewarm milk                              1/2 cup

Lukewarm water                           1/4 cup

Oil                                                     1 1/2 tsp

For the filling

Mozzarella, grated                          1 cup

Fresh cottage cheese                      1 cup

Mixed herbs                                     1-2 tsp

Red chilly powder                           1/2 tsp

Coriander leaves                             5-6

Eggs (optional) (see notes)            2

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large bow;
  • Add warm milk and water and knead till the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by hand
  • Add oil and knead again till the oil is absorbed, about 1-2 minutes by hand
  • Set aside the dough in a greased bowl and cover it till it doubles in volume, around an hour
  • Punch down the dough and press it a few times and set it aside for another 30 minutes
  • Crumble the cottage cheese and add the chilly powder, mixed herbs and some salt and mix well
  • Preheat the oven to 230C for 20 minutes
  • Take the dough and divide into 2 halves and roll out the first half into a 9″ circle
  • Spread the paneer mixture on the circle leaving an inch gap from the edges
  • Roll the circle from two opposite sides three times leaving a large gap in the middle
  • Pinch together the edges and shape like an ‘S’ to make it look like a boat
  • Fill the open section with paneer mixture and top it with mozzarella cheese and few finely chopped corainder leaves
  • Repeat the same procedure with the other half of the dough

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  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it well with oil / butter
  • Transfer the two breads on the baking sheet
  • Bake for 15 minutes or till the top of the dough is nicely brown
  • If you are adding eggs, take out the bread from the oven and make a small hole in the cheese at the centre of the bread
  • Break open an egg at the hole and bake for another 5-6 minutes till the egg whites are set but the yolk is a bit runny
  • Take out and let it cool slightly
  • Using a fork, scramble the egg into the cheese and serve warm
  • Enjoy!

 

NOTES

  1. It is not mandatory to add eggs and can be skipped. If so then bake for 18 minutes instead of 15 minutes or till the top of the dough is golden brown. When I baked one bread without the egg, it seemed a little dry while eating. So, I suggest you mix 1-2 tsp of milk with the paneer when you add salt and spices. It should reduce the dryness.
  2. Instead of paneer, you can add feta cheese, farmer’s cheese, etc. I plan to add some veggies next time like mushroom, boiled corn, cherry tomatoes, etc to make it a little healthy
  3.  It is better to use freshly made paneer / cottage cheese. The store bought ones are usually dry and may not be the best option for this dish but maybe you can adjust the milk a little more and make do. I used paneer made from 1 litre milk and it was almost used up in this dish
  4. On hindsight, I thought it would be better to make 3 portions instead of 2 with the same dough which would result in a smaller size, more filling and less dough per person.

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter ‘K’.

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 75

Italian Lunch Spread

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Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on my blog or talking to me will know I adore all things cheese and all food Italian. I have been planning on making a full fledged Italian meal forever now but never got around to doing it. The Thali theme for this month’s Blogging Marathon finally forced my hand and I ticked an item off my bucket list.

Disclaimers first – This may not be an authentic Italian meal considering it is purely vegetarian except for an egg in the Eggplant Parmigiana. This would be the meal you would have in popular Italian restaurants in India. My limited research tells me the meal usually consists of –

Soup

Antipasti / Starters

Primo / First course – Usually a risotto or pasta

Secondo / Second course – Usually some meat or fish

Dolce / Dessert

I have made –

Mushroom Soup

Bruschetta – A simple and lip smacking starter that goes well with the soup

Pasta in Arrabiata Sauce for the First Course

Eggplant Parmigiana – A tasty baked eggplant dish topped generously with cheese

Mushroom and Capsicum Pizza with lots of Mozzarella cheese – I used a healthy pizza crust recipe with oats and wheat flour which results in a guilt free indulgence.

Vanilla Panna Cotta – An easy and quick dessert to round up the meal

The usual Italian meal also includes a cheese platter and seasonal fruits. I have omitted them and replaced that with a Pizza in typical Indian style because all we know about the Italian cuisine is pizza, pizza and some more pizza.

I have detailed the recipe for Bruschetta here which is a perfect answer to an easy and tempting starter and can be made quickly if you have unexpected guests.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – Thalis.

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Corn and Capsicum Soup

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I believe this is the longest I have gone in my blog without a recipe including cheese. And how could we let that happen? Though this one doesn’t have cheese as a main ingredient, it does lend a lovely flavour to the soup and though it is optional, I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

This soup has curry powder as its main flavour. I did not have it in my kitchen and figured that it shares a lot of ingredients with our very own garam masala and so the substitution was made with delicious results. I have used only green capsicum but you could use a combination of green and red. Usually I wouldn’t mind if the vegetable stock is substituted with water but I would not recommend that here because the garam masala and stock blend well to flavour the capsicum and corn. So do take time to make or buy the stock.

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Serves 2

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Olive oil                                    1 tbsp

Capsicum, large                    1

Onion, medium                     1

Garam masala                        1 tsp

Shelled corn                           1 1/2 cups

Vegetable stock                    1 cup

Milk                                          1 cup

Salt & Pepper

Cheddar cheese, grated      to garnish

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Heat oil in a saucepan
  • Chop and add the capsicum and fry for 2-3 minutes
  • Chop and add the onion and fry for 2 minutes
  • Add the garam masala and salt and mix well
  • Add the corn, pepper and vegetable stock and bring to a boil
  • Simmer for 5 minutes till the vegetables are cooked tender
  • Let the mixture cool and then blend it to a smooth puree
  • Add milk  and the puree to the saucepan and mix well
  • Bring to a boil and turn off the heat
  • Garnish with grated cheddar cheese
  • Enjoy!

 

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This post is part of the September Mega Marathon under the theme – Soups.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 68

Cheesy Potato Soup

 

I figured another soup recipe would be a good finish to this week’s marathon.  I was struggling to choose between a nutritious beetroot soup (a recipe that has been in the  ‘to do’ list for ages) and this creamy, cheesy, rich potato soup. Not much of a contest especially since it’s so much easier peeling and cutting potatoes as compared to beets. 
I adapted this from here deleting the bacon (obviously!) and also the cream and flour. I replaced the celery with coriander and voila! Rich, tasty soup is served. The daughter finished it up in a jiffy which is the ultimate stamp of approval.

So here goes –

Serves 3

WHAT WE NEED

Olive oil                                     1 tbsp

Onion, medium                       2

Carrot, small                             1

Coriander stalks                       8-10

Russet potatoes, medium     3

Milk                                              200 ml

Vegetable stock / water          300 ml

Cajun seasoning                       1 tsp

Salt

Pepper

Cheddar cheese, grated     to garnish 

WHAT TO DO

  • Chop the onions, carrot and coriander stalks finely.
  • Heat the oil and add the onions.
  • Once the onions are translucent, add the carrot and coriander stalks and mix well.
  • Was, peel and cut the potatoes into 1″ cubes.
  • Add the potatoes to the other vegetables and let ten cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ilk, stock, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.
  • Mix well and cover to cook.
  • Let it cook for around 20 minutes till the potatoes are completely cooked.
  • Cool and blend to a smooth purée consistency with an immersion blender.
  • Warm the soup before serving.
  • Garnish with cheese 
  • Enjoy!

 

This is my post for the Blogging Maraton under Root Vegetables.

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Vegetarian Lasagna…well almost

  

I discovered two things today –

  1. I am getting old
  2. “Add more cheese” does not solve all problems. Really!

So I decided to make the vegetarian lasagna for the first time because I had made a new year resolution of trying new dishes and also using up stuff without wasting.

I bought the lasagna sheets almost six months ago and have been postponing it ever since. Along with it I also bought a canned spaghetti sauce to try. Then I read ‘Cooked’ and have been obsessed ever since about cooking from scratch. But then I had to use up the sauce and so I did, for the last time use canned sauce, just so it doesn’t go waste.

I cooked the vegetables and brought out the sauce all with a square dish in my head. After fifteen minutes of searching for it, I realized I had broken it trying to make Butterscotch Blondies. I am getting old or what!

Then I tried adjusting the same in a larger rectangular pan which was way larger than I thought. So the sauce and vegetables weren’t enough. So I did what I always do -add excess cheese to cover up. Doesn’t work with the lasagna. So I made some white sauce again and added it to the dish and yet I had only two layers. Sigh!

But, as unbelievable as it sounds, it did taste well and we had a good lunch. 
    

I didn’t follow any particular recipe. I just figured it based on all the lasagna I had eaten plus some common sense. So here goes –

WHAT WE NEED

Spinach                          1 bunch

Olive oil                          4 tsp

Garlic pods                     3

Onion, medium             1

Button mushrooms      8

Sweet corn                       1/4 cup

Baby corn                         6-8

Capsicum, large             1

White sauce                    4 cups

Lasagna sheets              6

Grated cheese                 1 cup

Parmesan, grated          1/2 cup

WHAT TO DO

  • Wash the spinach thoroughly
  • Heat 1 tsp oil and add the spinach. Cook it well with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Chop the garlic, onion, mushroom, baby corn and capsicum finely.
  • Heat 3 tsp oil in another pan and add the garlic.
  • Once the garlic start browning add the onion.
  • After the onions turn translucent add rest of the vegetables and cover and cook.
  • Once cooked, add the spinach to the other vegetables and mix well. Add salt.
  • Preheat the oven at 200C
  • In an 8*8 pan, spread a layer of the white sauce.
  • On top of it, add a layer of vegetables and the. The lasagna sheets
  • Repeat the layering another 2-3 times. Ensure that the top most layer is that of white sauce.
  • Spread the grated cheese (cheddar or mozarella) and Parmesan on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes till the sauce is bubbling.
  • Broil for another 5-7 minutes till the cheese on top has golden brown spots on it.
  • Enjoy!

  

NOTES

  1. Other vegetables that can be added are carrot, zucchini and eggplant. You can also make it as a spinach and mushroom lasagna by omitted the other veggies except onions.
  2. The instructions on the lasagna packet did not have any pre-cook instructions. Check to see if your packet has specific cooking suggestions to be followed before layering the lasagna sheets to bake.

  
   

This is for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – New Year Challenges.

  
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Crispy Garlic Pita Toasts

  

I couldn’t finish all my pita bread in those sandwiches I made and the ominous warning on the packet of using the bread within 24 hours  had me worried. What to do? What to do? That’s when, coincidentally, I chanced upon this recipe – the perfect solution to all my pita problems. Crispy pita toasts with garlic flavour. I was in bread heaven.

  

The lovely part was that it was quick and easy and made with all the ingredients I had readily available, not to mention the daughter loved it. Blissful day!

So here goes –

WHAT WE NEED

Pita Bread                               2

Olive oil                                    1 tbsp

Salt

Pepper                      

Garlic cloves                           2-3

Cheddar cheese, grated      1-2 tbsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Cut pita bread into quarters
  • Brush them with olive oil
  • Finely chop the garlic and top the pita bread 
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese on top
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes till the pitas are crispy and golden brown
  • Enjoy with any dip of your choice!


  

NOTES

  1. The cheese is optional but I used it because that would make it easier to give it to my daughter.
  2. You can also add paprika with salt and pepper


This is part of the
Bake-a-thon 2015 


 

Vegetable stuffed Pita Sandwiches

   

I love pita bread and this recipe here is one of my regular ones. Technically there is no recipe. I just add what I like and what I have on hand and the sandwich is ready, which is what a sandwich is all about. So this is usually a Friday dinner since grocery shopping is Saturday and I am left with bits and pieces of various vegetables. No one veggie is enough for an entire meal but together they work very well.
 

In this particular one, I have used French beans (which now grow in my garden and will henceforth be part of all my mixed veg dishes), baby corn, cherry tomatoes, onions and spring onions. To this I added some cayenne pepper, cumin seeds, ajwain and salt. I mixed some sour cream (which was leaping to its expiry date) and mayonnaise in equal parts and added some yellow mustard and onion powder for some flavour. Some cheddar cheese needed to be finished and so they were added too. Voila! 

So here goes my recipe –

WHAT WE NEED

Pita bread                               3

Onion                                       1, large

French beans                         8-10

Baby corn                                6-8

Cherry tomatoes                   10-12

Spring onions                         A handful and then some for garnish

Olive Oil                                   1 1/2 tbsp

Cumin seeds                           1/2 tsp

Ajwain                                       1/4 tsp

Cayenne pepper powder      1/2 – 1 tsp

Salt

Sour cream                               1 1/2 tbsp

Mayonnaise                              1 1/2 tbsp

Yellow mustard                       1/2 tsp

Onion powder                           1 tsp

Cheddar cheese, grated         3-4 tbsp

WHAT TO DO

  • Finely chop the onions, spring onions, beans, baby corn
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves.
  • Heat some oil and add cumin seeds and ajwain
  • Add the onions and spring onions and sauté
  • Once the onions are translucent add the beans and baby corns
  • When the beans are half cooked, add the cherry tomatoes and mix well.
  • Add salt and cook covered on medium heat for around 10 minutes.
  • Open the lid regularly and sauté the vegetables.
  • Switch off the gas and set it aside.
  • In a small bowl, take the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard and onion powder and mix well to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C
  • Cut the pita breads into halves so that they resemble a semi circle.
  • Slowly pry open each bread half so as to be able to stuff it.
  • Apply the sour cream mix and then add the vegetables
  • Take care to ensure that the bread doesn’t break.
  • Once all the bread halves are stuffed, put them on a baking tray and spread the cheese on top.
  • Bake for 5 minutes or till the cheese melts.
  • Take it out, garnish with spring onion greens and serve warm.
  • Enjoy!

  

  
NOTES

  1. I wanted to have the pitas toasted and so I baked them for ten minutes. If you are doing the same, bake for 5 minutes and then add the grated cheese and bake for another 5 minutes.

 

This is my post for the Blogging Marathon hosted by Srivalli under the theme – Stuffed dishes. 
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Egg & cheese toast

  

This is my favorite start breakfast because it’s easy, quick and filling. If I have bread at home, I usually make one of these for each one of us and since it’s quick, I can sleep an additional 15 minutes in the morning which is absolute bliss!

   

The funny part is I just saw this series of images on Twitter or Pinterest long ago with bacon and it seemed like a nice idea then. I obviously did not use the bacon and substituted it with a tomato. On very lazy days ( which is more often than I care to admit) I omit the tomato too and just go with the egg and cheese. It’s a must try.

So here goes –

WHAT WE NEED

Bread slice 1

Egg 1

Tomato slice (optional) 1

Cheese slice 1

Butter for greasing
WHAT TO DO

  • Cut the interior of a bread slice somas to have a small square and the frame of the slice with a hole in the centre.
  • Heat a pan and grease it with butter.
  • Put the slice frame on it and break an egg into it and let it cook.
  • Once the yolk sets, add the tomato slice on top of it.
  • Add the cheese slice on top of the tomato slice.
  • Once the cheese slice starts melting and sticking to the bread slice, add the cut smaller square of the bread on top of the cheese.

  

  •  Add some butter on top and slowly flip the entire toast with a spatula.
  • Let it cook for a minute.
  • Once you see the cheese slice lifting off the pan, remove the toast carefully with a spatula.
  • Enjoy! 

NOTES

  1. If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to cut the bread slice into a square, just use a small cup and cut it into a circle. 

This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – Instant Breakfast.
 
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