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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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cilantro Lime Quinoa in an Instant Pot

I have heard a lot about the electric pressure cooker, did not pay it much mind as I was perfectly happy with my regular pressure cooker. On the other hand, I have this crusty old electric rice cooker with a non stick insert which is starting to peel off. I have been looking for an electric rice cooker with a stainless steel insert instead of a non stick one but have not been very successful in finding one. The ones I found on Amazon (where else) were either too expensive or a brand I have never heard of.

As I continued searching I chanced upon the Instant Pot brand electric pressure cooker with a stainless steel insert. Not just a rice cooker but as luck would have it a full fledged pressure cooker. I found lots of glowing reviews and a pretty ardent following for it and there was no dearth of information. Slightly more than what I wanted to spend for rice cooker but at under $80 for a 6 quart a pretty good buy for me.

Was I glad or what? Nothing against my crusty old pressure cooker but with none of the leaking and the mess associated with not controlling the heat or pouring a little extra water. I am not saying the Instant Pot won't leak but it is very rare.

Cooking lentils, rice, beans is done in no time at all and of course with none of the mess which is a big deal for me. Since the time can be controlled much better I can easily control how much I need the beans cooked and that is a big deal for me. While the Instant Pot itself can be used for sauteing and cooking in it I still prefer my stove top for sauteing purposes. Guys this is not a paid promotion but me gushing about my favorite toy in the kitchen.

I would like to eat more of Quinoa but cooking it has always been a hit or miss if I am not careful with the amount of water and the timing. Can't eat mushy quinoa. When I am in a rush and doing too many things this is not something i want to spend time on. This is where the Instant Pot becomes a life saver. Just a minute of cooking time and perfect quinoa is ready.

Add the quinoa, water, cilantro leaves, squeeze in the lime juice, add salt and let cook in the Instant Pot in manual mode for a minute.
Once cooked fluff up the rice.

I wanted to go a bit fancy and add some cilantro, lime and make it a cilantro lime quinoa for a quinoa bowl with cauliflower.

All of us enjoy eating burrito bowl. Cilantro lime rice is what we usually have but occasionally to mix it up and to avoid the rice trap. Anything tastes good in these bowls. Quinoa when cooked correctly gives the bowl an extra dimension.

How to cook quinoa in an Instant Pot from this blog article.

Cilantro Lime Quinoa
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
  1. 2 cups of Quinoa (I used red)
  2. 2 cups of water
  3. 1/2 of a lime
  4. 1/2 cup of loosely packed chopped cilantro or coriander leaves
  5. 1/2 - 1 tbsp of butter (use olive oil for a vegan version)
  6. 2 tsp of salt
  1. Wash the quinoa in several changes of water till the water runs clear.
  2. Add 2 cups of water (quinoa water ratio 1:1)
  3. Squeeze in the lime juice.
  4. Add in the butter, coriander leaves and salt.
  5. Put the weight on the top in sealed position and in manual mode set it cook for 1 minute. This should cook the quinoa under high pressure for a minute.
  6. Once the cooking is complete let the pressure naturally and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes before opening the lid.
  7. Once opened fluff up the quinoa.

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