Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dried Fruits, Nuts and Seeds - All in a Bread

I have been wanting to bake a bread with dried fruits for a while now. I have this wonderful vegetarian cook book called: Vegetarian: Over 300 Healthy and Wholesome Recipes Chosen from Around the World, that I have been referring to quite often over the past several years. The book is edited by Nicola Graimes and has a wonderful recipe for a fruit and nut bread. I halved the proportions of most of the ingredients from the original recipe in this book (page 496) so that I could make a loaf that would yield biscotti size pieces which would be ideal for an afternoon snack or morning breakfast with a cup of hot tea! The bread is quite nutritious too, see the ingredients below and you'll know why! 

Note: I tend to use less sugar than called for due to the sugar content of the dried fruits.

1 cup pancake and baking mix; I used the multigrain mix from Trader Joe's.
1 egg, beaten.
1/3 cup low fat milk.
1/2 tsp baking powder.
1/8 cup sugar.
1/2 cup chopped raisins.
1/4 cup cranberries.
1/2 cup mixed nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, pistachios, almonds, walnut pieces).
7 dried figs, chopped.
1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder.
1/4 tsp ground cloves and cardamom powder.
A dash of freshly grated nutmeg.

The oven will need to be preheated to 350 degrees C. Apply a light coating of butter to a bread loaf dish (I use the Anchor Hocking 5 Inch x 9 Inch Glass Loaf Dish). Now mix the baking mix, baking powder, spices, nuts, and seeds in a large bowl. Mix the sugar and dried fruits in a separate bowl. Now, add the beaten egg and milk to the dried fruit and sugar bowl. Stir. Pour this into the large bowl containing the baking mix with the nuts and spices. Mix gently to make sure that the the mixture is homogeneous and has no lumps of flour. I use a spatula for this and make clockwise turns and flip over the spatula after every turn. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf dish and bake for about 20 minutes. Use a fork to test whether the loaf is done. It should come out clean when inserted into the loaf. Remove from the oven and cool.

To cut the loaf into biscotti size slices, use a spatula to release the loaf from the sides of the dish and lift the loaf. It lifts pretty easily. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. Cut  into 1 inch wide slices.

Serve with butter on top! Yummy.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Green Onion and Corn Soup

When I normally get back from work late, and have less than half an hour at hand to whip up a healthy meal, I often think soup. I had this inviting bunch of green onions in the refrigerator. So I got together some frozen corn kernels and before I knew it, I was making this soup.

You will need:
A bunch of green onions, finely chopped.
One cup of frozen corn kernels.
Salt, pepper, and a pinch of brown sugar.
Soy Sauce.
Finely chopped cilantro to garnish.

Saute the chopped green onions in some butter in a pan. Once wilted, add the corn kernels and saute some more. Now add 2 to 3 cups of water (adjust this amount depending on how much final liquid content you want in your soup) to the pan and bring it to a boil. Once the corn is almost cooked, add the salt, pepper, sugar, and soy sauce to taste. Cook for a few minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with Cilantro and pair it with a hearty salad and a slice of bread from the local bakery!

Beetroot and Potato Stuffed Puff Pastry

Don't get all dubious about this stuffing, it really does taste rather remarkable. For all of you who think beetroots are a boring vegetable, think twice! So I picked up this gorgeous bunch of organic beetroots at the local farmer's market. I used the greens in a dal recipe and the beets for this stuffing.

You will need:
7 small potatoes.
1 small beet.
2 cloves of garlic, grated.
1" piece of ginger, grated.
1/2 tsp of cumin and coriander powder, each.
1/4 tsp sugar.
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
Defrosted puff pastry (Trader Joe's or Pepperidge Farm).
Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Monterrey Jack).
Milk to seal the pastry, Flour to roll the Pastry.

Stuffing - Pressure cook or boil the potatoes and beet. Cool, peel and mash them in a bowl. Add the grated ginger, garlic, cumin and corriander powder, salt, sugar and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.

Now, defrost the pastry sheet and cut into any size that is convenient. I tend to roll out the sheet a bit to thin it and cut it into 6" by 4 " rectangles. Place a spoonful of the stuffing onto one side of the rolled out sheet. Place a generous helping of the cheese on top. Now flip the other side of the pastry over and seal the edges. Repeat for as many pastry puffs as you want. The remaining stuffing can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days at most. Place in the oven and bake at 350 F until done.

Note: I often use leftover stuffing to make a grilled sandwich the next day. In fact, for a healthier alternative, try the sandwich instead of the puff pastry. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Avocado and American Cheese Sandwiches

So here is another quick recipe, a mouthwatering sandwich that takes minutes to prepare and goes very well with chips or a hot soup.

You will need:
Two slices of organic whole wheat bread (Yes! I buy it from Trader Joe's).
A slice of organic American cheese.
Half an avocado, sliced.
Butter, salt to season.
Several drops of Trader Joe's Jalapeno Pepper Hot sauce.

Place the avocado slices on one bread slice. Sprinkle a few drops of the hot sauce on the avocados. Season with salt if desired and finish the sandwich by placing the cheese slice on the avocado, followed by the other bread slice. Now, spread some butter on top of each slice and grill the sandwich. Brown the sandwich tops and serve immediately with chips.


Minty and Spicy Avocado Dip

I am back after several weeks of a much deserved vacation. My lab and my research has been keeping me pretty busy. I tried some new ideas in the kitchen in the first couple of weeks of 2011 and I just had to post the recipes.

So the other day, I was at Trader Joe's and I picked up some delicious avocados. They are a rich source of folate and vitamin K and heart healthy fats.  I decided that I would use half of it in a sandwich (recipe on a later post) and use the remaining fruit to make a dip for pita chips. The result was a simply delicious and spicy dip.

Here is the recipe.

1/2 avacado, chopped into small pieces.
15 mint leaves, washed and chopped coarsely.
1 green chilli, chopped.
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice.
1/2 tbsp creme fraiche from Trader Joe's.
3/4 cup low fat, plain yogurt.
Salt to taste and a pinch of sugar.

Add all the above ingredients except the lemon juice to a food processor. Grind until the avocados are blended with the creme fraiche and yogurt to form a smooth paste. Now add the lemon juice and give a final stir.

Pour the dip into a serving bowl and serve with regular pita chips!

To add more spice, play around with the amount of green chilli. I found that one chilli provides just the right kick to this splendid dip.