Thursday, 31 January 2013

Tortilla-ish roti wrap

Strangely, this is my third post about cooking, though I am particular not to make it a cookery blog. Whatever. This particular stuff is a clear winner in the eyes of my husband, and I have made it countless times. It makes it blog-worthy because it's a cinch to whip up.
Ingredients (Makes 4)

Wheat flour - One cup (Seriously, that will do)
Water - 1/4 cup (approximate)
Oil - One teaspoon
Onion - Half of a large one; finely chopped
Tomatoes - One small; finely chopped
Avocado - Half; diced
Walnuts - toast on a griddle or oven for eight minutes, chop finely
Strawberries - Three; chopped
Lemon - Half
Cilantro - a handful; chopped
Chaat Masala (Optional. Makes it Indian)
Pepper and Salt to taste


Warm the water, first step. Then by gradually sprinkling it over wheat flour, knead it nice and hard, until the dough becomes pliable and non-sticky. Dab Olive oil over it, ball it up and keep it covered for 15 minutes, minimum.
Divide them into golf-sized balls, roll them out into 1/8 inch chapathis and cook them on a tawa/pan. When a chapathi is ready, take a pinch of everything - onion, tomatoes, avocado, strawberries, cilantro, and place them in the center. Squeeze a little of lemon over it, sprinkle salt and pepper, chaat masala and wrap it, closing both ends.
An interesting way to make sure the wrap stays together is to make a paste of wheat flour with water, and apply over the edges and glue them over. Keep the tawa on high flame, and place the chapathis with the glued side facing down, and cook it for a few seconds, until the edges stick together.

This is how it looks once done

Pluses: It's healthy, salady and easy
Minuses: It's too yumm you tend to overindulge.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Lemony cheese-free Cheesy Awesomey Vegetarian Linguine

Phew... That's a lot of adjective for a humble linguine. But you know what, this linguine deserves all that commendations and a truckload more. Because, for starters, this is entirely my own creation. And, for a change, my creativity stood by me like a good friend. It turned out freakishly delicious (I'm missing something here. Something that spells like M.O.D.E.S.T.Y.).
And ever-so-picky-eater daughter loved it. My husband, a pasta hater, ate it without complaint, which precisely mean this is uber delicious.
Ok, without much further ado, let me introduce you to the yummy world of vegetarian linguine.

I could not do step-by-step pictures for this recipe because, let me be honest with you, when I began to make dinner with linguine, I did not think it would be blog worthy. But when I whipped up this scrumptious... someone stop me from rambling!
To make the sauce:
Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
Garlic - 2 cloves crushed
Red Onion - 1 (medium)
Well-ripened tomatoes - 2 (medium)
A cup of mixed vegetables - Carrots, Peas, Beans, Cauliflower, Broccoli - All chopped as finely as possible
Fresh Thyme or Dried Italian Seasoning - couple of sprigs
Sugar - 1 teaspoon (yes One!)
Pepper - 3 teaspoons
Milk - 2 Tablespoons
Heavy Cream or Milk Powder (Optional, entirely)
Butter- a dollop (diet freaks could drop this)
All Purpose Flour - 1 teaspoon
Lemon - 1 large
Nutritional Yeast - 1 Tablespoon (again optional, but it's yumm and totally true to its name)
Salt to taste
Dry roast All Purpose Flour on a pan till it turns pink with a few brownish tinges. Keep it aside. Heat Oil in the same pan, add one clove of garlic and onion to it, and saute till onion turns translucent. Meanwhile in a saucepan, add tomatoes with a cup of water, remaining garlic, a pinch of sugar, pinch of salt and a sprig of thyme. Bring it to boil, reduce to simmer and close the lid. Cook for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are mushy.
Add the mixed vegetables in the onion-garlic mixture and saute it on low flame with a pinch of salt. Mash the tomato mixture with a ladle and add it to the vegetables in the pan.
Boil water in a saucepan and cook linguine as per instructions (My two cents' worth: Do NOT break linguine. It spoils the thrill of eating nice, long strips. If your saucepan is small for the whole linguine strips, dip the bunch in and wait till the dipped end becomes flexible enough. Swirl it in, and push some more of the linguine in the water, and work around till all of the strips get in whole.)
In a small bowl whisk the roasted all purpose flour with milk or cream or water until smooth and pour it right into the pan when the veggies are cooked to a consistency of your liking. Add salt, pepper, sugar and give the sauce a nice stir, and let it boil till a sauce-like consistency is reached. Remove from the flame, and, add thyme and a zest of one lemon. Add butter and now is my favourite part, add the nutritional yeast into it. The nutritional yeast, an inactive yeast, gives the eggy, meaty, cheesy flavour to the sauce. If you are vegetarian, it's the best that can happen to any sauce, trust me.
Digressing again, people, digressing.
Drain the pasta, and dunk it into the sauce. Delicious as it can get.
By the way, I suppose you could use all those squiggly jiggly pasta types like fettuccine,fusili, or linguine's better-half, sphagetti, as well. Try it and let me know.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Rose Essence - A right-from-scratch method to prepare your own

It's been a long, long break from the blog. Despite my fervent promises, I totally orphaned it for a few months, and got carried away with mundane chores. Since I also had a few writing projects and book reviews coming on, I think I have a legit reason for this delay.
So yes, I thought I should stay true to the reason behind the creation of the blog - lead a life closer to nature, resist buying any kinds of bottled products - edible or otherwise.
Now we all know rose water is an excellent toner, even more excellent flavour-enhancer to desserts. We had a festive occasion during fall, so kind of overindulged in roses. What was left was a mound of nice-smelling fresh roses and I didn't have the heart to dump them.
I checked with Dr.Google, and no surprises there, I came upon a lot of homemade rosewater methods. This one is kind of a mix of many methods, so I couldn't offer credit to each one of them. But this is to all those innovators who have tried rose essence extracting. I'm just a plain copycat.
Here it goes:

Pull out a large pan and add half-a-cup of water. Sprinkle rose petals all over it. (Do not hesitate to overcrowd it. The more the better.)

Place a stone or a slab or any raised platform that is flat enough to hold a vessel in the center.

And a tiny, little bowl that could hold the essence.

Flip the lid upside down and close it over (Reason: Upside down provides a nice smooth convex surface for the rose essence droplets to slide down right into the bowl.). Simmer it for 30 minutes. Check the water in the base after 15 minutes, add a quarter cup, if need be.

And bam! here is your purest form of essence that has a heady fragrance(that totally depends on the type of rose you use, like Incense Rose or Fragrant Plum.)
Just if you are wondering what to do with the left-over mushy roses and water, squeeze the petals and collect the pink water in a bottle. It is the best and most effective toner you could ever get. Take my word for it since my skin on face is soft bordering on loose and this, I really really think, has helped tone it to a great extent.
Like I said, the essence could be used for to enhance flavor in desserts or a toner as well. Don't worry if your rose petals didn't quit give you the fragrance. Nonetheless, it's a pro in toning job.
Happy Extracting!