Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tomato Peanut Chutney

Summer rains are a much sought after phenomenon. The parched earth laps it up and cools itself down. But like everything too much of a good thing is also a problem. Last week we were deluged with rains, had a breather for few days and this weeks seems like a wet one again. While this is the time for fruiting, all the excess water makes them get more leaves which is not good for me the farmer. Hopefully the sun will return and the plants can do their thing.

Here is a sample of vegetables that went out on a recent CSA delivery.

Growing food is a hard thing. Bugs, drought, animals which like to gnaw on the fruit, determining when to water when to stop, when to add compost and when not to, when to harvest and when not to. Not that I did not have before but I am only in awe of people who do this for a living. It is frustrating as it is rewarding. There is no comparison to farm(backyard) picked fresh vegetables. Support your local farmer. The job they do is back breaking without a lot of financial benefits. The taste and the quality is going to be rewarding for you to give it a chance.

I like adding peanuts to chutneys. Just enough so it does not overpower the taste of the main ingredient but just enough to give that smooth texture to the chutney.

Tomato Peanut Chutney
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
  1. 4-5 medium sized ripe tomatoes chopped
  2. 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts (skinned or leave the skin on)
  3. 1/2 cup of chopped red onions or shallots
  4. 3-4 dried or fresh red chilies
  5. 1 tbsp frozen or fresh grated coconut (optional)
  6. a few sprigs of coriander leaves
  7. few cumin, coriander and pepper corns, 1 tsp split urad dal
  8. salt to taste
  9. 2-3 tsp of oil

  1. Heat a wide mouthed pan and add about a half tsp of oil, saute the split urad dal(ulutham paruppu), when it starts to brown add the cumin, coriander, pepper corns and the red chilies and saute for a 1/2 minute more and remove to the blender. You can add the red chilies here or with the onions.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the pan and saute the onions till they start to brown.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and saute till they get mushy.
  4. Add the coconut if using and the peanuts and saute for a minute more.
  5. Add salt and turn off the heat.
  6. Transfer the contents to the blender and when cool blend to a fairly smooth paste.
  7. Serve with idli, dosai or as a spread for toast.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Spicy Smashed Garlic Roasted Baby Potatoes

Has summer been treating you all well? Looking towards the sky for rain has been my ritual this summer. Can't complain as the rain gods have been pretty alright.

I usually try to grow potatoes during the summer but did not this summer. Having newly grown baby potatoes would have been even better. Garlic and potatoes are a match that can set anybody's taste buds sing with joy. Potatoes can be cooked in several different ways but nothing can beat the taste of roasted potatoes right?. While baby potatoes work best for this recipe, if all you have is bigger potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and proceed with the recipe.

Recipe in pictures,

Wash and boil the potatoes for 8 minutes, drain and cut them in half.
Smash the garlic remove the skin and chop the garlic into fine pieces. Heat the cast iron pan and add oil.
Add the garlic and saute it for a minute. Fish out the garlic if you prefer, add in the potatoes.
Add chili powder and salt and saute till the potatoes are well roasted. Will take about 15 minutes.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 1 lb of baby potatoes both red and yellow
  2. 6 cloves of garlic
  3. 1/2 - 1 tbsp of chili powder (use as much or less as you want, this amount will make it spicy)
  4. salt to taste
  5. 1 tbsp of oil

  1. Wash and cut the potatoes in half, if they are really small leave them whole.
  2. Boil the potatoes for about 8 minutes in total. Not to cook but to just soften them a little bit.
  3. Mash the garlic with the back of a knife and then chop them into smaller pieces.
  4. To a cast iron pan add oil and add in the garlic. let it flavor the oil, you can fish them out and then add the potatoes. (see note:)
  5. Saute the potatoes for another 15 minutes or so till it well roasted. Towards the last few minutes of roasting add the chili powder and salt and saute for a couple more minutes.
  6. Note:Garlic tends to burn quickly so remove them from the heat and add them towards the end. I fished them out towards the middle and added them in the end.

Goes well as a side or an appetizer by itself.

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Farm to Plate - Currant Jelly

I have seen currants on a lot of European blogs. They looked kind of pretty and when I had the chance to grow them in my farm, I planted a couple of baby currant bushes. The first three years the plant grew vigorously and I was reluctant to trim it. The berries were hard to reach and the few that ripened were hidden in a mass of leaves. Last year I started reading about pruning and figured out how to prune the bushes. Pruned them in early spring as recommended. This summer we have an abundance of fruit but the problem now seems to be how to harvest them. The 3 lbs of fruit that we harvested was made into jelly.

The fruit are not that great was eating like other berries. They have seeds and are tart. But they are perfect for making jelly. I used the recipe from Martha Stewart for the measurement of sugar and fruit. I had a little over 3 lbs of currants. Using a recipe that calls for fruit but uses the juice is always tricky because the given measurement of fruit does not give the required amount of juice or pulp. Adjust the sugar quantity of the juice the fruit eventually produces. The recipe from Martha Stewart said 4 cups of juice for 3 lbs of currants. I got about 3 cups of juice for the same quantity.

If you want a plant that regularly produces fruit for a jelly but you don't want to do too much work, currant bushes are the plants for you. If planting and then harvesting fruit seems like something you don't want to do, look for them in farmer's market or see if a friend grows them ;)

The jelly making process is pretty easy. Making jelly at home means you can control the amount of sugar and the ingredients that go into it. Here it is just 2. What more can you ask?

Wash and drain the currants and add to a thick bottomed vessel with about 1/3 cups of water.
Cook the currants till they are soft and mushy. Use a hand blender or a back of a laddle to break them down further.
Strain the currants through a mesh strainer to get the juice.
Add the sugar to the juice and let it come to a boil.
Cook for about 20 - 25 minutes till a drop placed in a plate of water does not dissolve.
Transfer to sterilized jars.

With some bread toasted with butter or ghee morning breakfast is fun and delicious.

Currant Jelly
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
  1. 3 1/2 lbs of currant which yielded 3 cups of juice
  2. 2 1/4 cups of sugar

  1. Wash the currant and remove the stems. Take them in a thick bottomed pan with about 1/3 cup of water. Let it come to a boil and become soft about 8-10 minutes.
  2. You can use the laddle to mash the fruit. I use the hand blender to further break down the fruit.
  3. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the skin and seeds to get the juice.
  4. Take the juice and the sugar in a heavy bottomed pot. Let it cook for about 20 - 25 minutes till a drop poured on a plate with water does not dissolve in the water.
  5. Transfer to sterilized jars.

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