Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grain of the Week - 38 - Indian Cowpeas

What we know as cow peas in India especially in South India is smaller and brown in color when compared to the Cow peas of Southern US which are much bigger and usually cream colored or white.

These cow peas are a much preferred legume for cultivation in the drier, sub arid regions of South India. The cow pea provides plenty of nitrogen to the soil and it is used intercropped with other cereal crops for the nutrition it provides to the soil.



Cow peas are rich source of dietary fiber and protein. It also contains potassium and iron which are required nutrients for the body. Cow peas is cooked in several different ways. The most popular recipe in the Kongu region is this way of cooking it in a kuzhambu usually with eggplants/brinjal. They can also be cooked with bottle gourd, bitter gourd.



The broken cow peas can be used to make this lentil-rice dish called arisiyum paruppu saatham.

Par boiled cow peas can be used in salads and can be eaten as such. I had a colleague who ate cow peas and vegetables only for lunch - no rice.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Crisp

I told you about the baking bug that bit DD2? That is when she baked this Blueberry Cake and these really easy Chocolate chip cookies.




That bug probably infected me as well, when on seeing some early season apples in the farmer's market I wanted to make some warm apple crisp. The apples where slightly yellow in color and with a name like ginger gold hard to resist. Look at the picture and tell me, aren't they the most good looking apples you have ever seen?



As Fall approaches apples are the only thing that makes me look forward to the shortening days, lowering temperatures and waning sunlight. As you see fresh apples in your farmers markets give these crisp before the apple season runs out.

Apple Crisp is special because it was perhaps the first baked goodie we ever made (DH made and I helped) some 18 odd years ago. The recipe was from this very friendly front desk lady at his office. They were made for Christmas that year. That was the crisp that came to my mind. Just a food memory not the actual taste. Don't ask me why looking at apples in the intervening year not bring the same craving. I told you the apples were pretty looking! The guy in the farmer's market also parted this nugget that they are good cooking apples.



I wanted the most easiest of recipes and I found in here. I used gur sugar which is unrefined cane sugar which makes the resulting apple crisp slightly darker in color when compared to using brown sugar.

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt and brown sugar.
Keep the apples sliced and ready. Add the sugar flour mixture to the apple.
Mix the apples into the sugar/flour mixture so the apples are well coated. Separate them into greased ramekins or a bigger baking dish.
In a mixing bowl take the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Mix them together using a whisk.
Cut the butter into smaller pieces, and add them to the flour and incorporate it into the flour.
If using a fork and spoon don't work, use the tip of your fingers to incorporate the butter into the flour so it resembles small granules.
Sprinkle the butter-flour mixture on top of the apples in the ramekin and baking dish.
Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 35-40 minutes till the top is browned and crisp.



Apple Crisp
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Baking Time:30-40 minutes
Ingredients
    Preparing the apples
  1. 3 Ginger Gold apples or Granny Smith Apples - peel, core and slice the apples into thin half moons
  2. 1 cup brown sugar /jaggery - unrefined sugar - gur
  3. 1 tbsp flour
  4. a pinch of salt
  5. Preparing the crisp topping
  6. 3/4 cup flour (I used unbleached white whole wheat flour)
  7. 3/4 cup brown sugar /jaggery - unrefined sugar - gur
  8. 3/4 cup quick oats
  9. 1/4 tsp baking powder
  10. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  11. 8 tbsp cold butter

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare the apples first. In a bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Use a whisk to mix evenly.
  3. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Add the sugar and flour mixture to the apples and mix to coat the apples.
  4. Grease ramekins (if you want individual portions) or a square baking dish. Add a couple of tbsp of apple to the bottom of the ramekins or all of the apples if using a baking dish.
  5. Now get the crisp topping ready, in a mixing bowl take the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Mix them together using a whisk.
  6. Keep the butter cold till you are ready to use it, cut the butter into smaller pieces, and add them to the flour and incorporate it into the flour using a fork or a spoon or both.
  7. If using a fork and spoon don't work, use the tip of your fingers to incorporate the butter into the flour so it resembles small granules.
  8. Sprinkle the flour-butter mixture on top of the apples in the ramekin and the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes till the top is golden brown and crisp.
Serve warm with ice cream or they are perfect as is.

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Guess! - Revealed!

Guess the Vegetable!


Hint: The vegetable has something to do with swimming.




The vegetable is indeed Bottle Gourd. This is the kind that has skin that is really thick. The bottle gourd that is usually available here in the US is the one where the skin is really thin. These thick skinned bottle gourds once dry are used as floatation device using which is how I learned swimming.

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