Niramish is the Bengali word for mixed vegetables. There are of course, a million ways to cook niramish depending on the cook. I decided to make some last night using frozen mixed veggies because I was in a hurry. Normally, I love using a variety of fresh vegetables, especially picks from the local farmer’s markets. There are some nights though, speed is of the essence. Given the choice of eating something unhealthy or making something fast and tasty out of frozen veggies…Well it’s no contest. It ended up tasting great and it was quick!
There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls. They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable. But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce. I could eat it by the bucketful. To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas. Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me). It is my “green eggs and ham”
Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
½ inch piece of ginger grated
OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together
5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed
5 tbsp hoisin sauce
½ cup peanut butter
1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek
1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)
Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.
To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ inch piece of ginger grated
5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock
½ tsp salt
½ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek
1 Tbsp Palm Sugar
3– 4 tbsp of water
Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.
Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)
Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)
Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally
1 Shredded carrot
1 cup bean sprouts
twelve pieces of long chives
handful of Cilantro
handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)
Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half
Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)
Or use only vegetables without any proteins
Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.
There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.
Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.
Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.
So let’s get to the recipe.
2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.
There’s nothing tastier than a pork butt or shoulder roast slow cooked in a crockpot or in the oven. It’s one of those things that can cook in the background while you go about your business. I usually season my pork butt or shoulder with a rub of fresh garlic, sea salt, cumin, a little ground coffee and onion powder (with a little olive oil thrown in). I know you’re thinking ground coffee? What the heck? But it really is tasty. Not too much just a few teaspoons but it really amps up the other flavors. It’s a pretty basic rub down because I like to add other spices to the pulled pork later on to make different dishes out of the same piece of roast. A good size pork roast can yield BBQed pulled pork sandwiches, or tacos and burritos. I’ve even made pulled pork momos, tamales and potstickers. Who can go wrong with a well done pig?
This time I decided to make pork Empanadas out of the pulled pork. It was fast and worked well for a weekday dinner with a fresh slaw made with red cabbage. The leftovers are great for lunch the next day too. Everybody at your work will want some of your lunch as soon as you start heating it up. Guaranteed!
On a side note. Today, July 6th, I finally finished off the Master Cleanse. I was so excited to eat real food. I was thinking about it last night going to bed and dreaming up what I’d make for breakfast. I thought of eating these Empanadas but didn’t feel like that for breakfast. So, I decided to make an egg white frittata with caramelized onions and asparagus spears and fresh basil. I was super excited. I took two bites and couldn’t eat another thing. I got kind of nauseous. I guess I have to slow down and eat a few little things. Let my body catch up slowly. I ate only raw vegetables and fruits yesterday so today I should be able to ease into real food. We shall see. On the bright side, I do feel really, really good and I think I will try this again next year some time, maybe not for the whole 21 days though.
Pulled Pork Empanadas
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk (save the egg white for the egg wash)
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Pulled Pork Filling:
1 1/2 pound of cooked, pulled pork
1/2 onion, diced
4 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chipped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water
egg white, beaten
1 tsp water
For the dough: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined, add butter and pulse a few times until it resembles coarse meal.
Mix together the egg yolk, water, and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the mixture to the dough, pulsing until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently knead until it just comes together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
For the filling: Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno together until onions are translucent and the garlic is flavorful. Add in cumin and water and simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes. Toss in cilantro leaves before turning off the heat.
Assembly: Roll out the Empanada dough into 5 – 6 inch circle (I was making a little larger ones because it was for dinner). Place 1/4 cup (or more if you want it fuller) of meat mixture on one end of the dough. Bring the other half over the meat mixture and using a fork crimp the edges. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Whisk together egg white and water and brush each empanada. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
There’s nothing like a refreshing and hearty dip on a hot summer day. I’m always looking for fun new ways of making salsas and dips that are not heavy and creamy. The Caribbean side of my family love eating Pigeon Peas. In fact it’s a staple of most Caribbean rice dishes. Pigeon peas are hard to find fresh here and I have to go to specialty stores to get the canned version. The closest cousin I have found to the Pigeon Pea is the Blackeyed Pea. I love the texture and mild flavor of Blackeyed Peas. The skin is not thick and it has an almost creamy mouth feel. Perfect for a salsa. I used canned Blackeyed Peas and canned Corn in this salsa. You can definitely use roasted fresh corn and pressure cook some Blackeyed peas. Since this was one of many items I was cooking yesterday, I decided to just go with the canned. It turned out great and saved me some time. With the fresh ingredients, you don’t really notice that the peas and corn are canned. The heat from the chilies are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the Mangoes. Paired with fresh home-made BIG tortilla chips as a scoop, this salsa is “da bomb”!
Blackeyed Pea and Corn Salsa
2 cans (14 oz) of Blackeyed Peas (rinsed and drained)
1 can (14 oz) sweet corn (rinsed and drained)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1-2 Thai chilis, take the seeds out if you want it less spicy
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced
15 or so green spanish olives, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 mangoes, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lime
1/2 cup pomegranate vinegar
fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp sugar or honey
In a large bowl place the washed and rinsed canned Blackeyed peas and corn. Add all fresh chopped ingredients and toss lightly. Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dip and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Great with large home made tortilla chips.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
12 inch uncooked (or cooked) flour tortilla chips
Oil for frying
Cut the tortillas into fourths and fry in oil until golden brown, drain over paper towels. Can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight container or zip lock bags before serving.
I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf a couple of days ago. The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over. I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes. I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out. I was delighted. The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor. It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces. I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!
Garlic Herb Potato Bread
1 cup garlic mashed potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup warm milk
5 cups or a little more bread flour
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm. Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy. In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well. Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Put dough in a greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased. Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down dough and shape into two loaves. Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly. Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.
I hate things going to waste. I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers. It’s annoying. A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house. It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover. I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over. I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over. It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish. I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog. A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge. I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun. Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2. So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge. Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.
I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it. This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely. I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!
Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza
Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)
Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken
1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well). Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone. Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top. Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.
I’ve never put together this particular combination together before. I was adding spices as I went along. The combination of the brown rice and red lentils go pretty well together because they cook for the same amount of time. The red lentils almost disappear, adding a richness to the texture of the rice. It had a nutty flavor from the rice and a touch of sweetness from the raisins that goes really well with the cardamom flavors. A great rice dish that goes with so many proteins like pork chops, gola kabobs (that’s how we ate them) and as a light meal by itself.
Gola Kabob literally means round kabobs. Kabobs can be made dry, in a gravy or skewered on a stick (that’s where the word “shish” comes in handy, it means to skewer). Gola Kabobs originated in Pakistan. The dry version can be eaten with Naans, Parathas or Rotis, while the “wet” version can be eaten more easily with rice. I love making a Naan sandwich with Gola Kabobs, some fresh greens and topped off with a little Raita. I think of it as a Pakistani Gyro. Gola Kabobs are traditionally made with beef or lamb. I decided to make mine with ground turkey and pair it with a brown rice and red lentil kitchuri (bengali for “hodge podge”). I’ll have to post that separately to make it easier on everyone. It was a tasty and hearty dinner that doesn’t cheat on flavor but it’s really low in fat. My kind of meal!
Turkey Gola Kabob in Gravy
For the Kabobs:
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 dried red chilis
1 bay leaf
4-5 whole green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
4-5 whole peppercorns
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 small stick cinnamon
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tsp garlic and ginger paste
For the sauce:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 tbsp oil
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp toasted coconut
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium cast iron skillet heat the first 8 ingredients listed under Kebob until toasted. Put in a coffee grinder that is dedicated to spices and NOT coffee and grind until it is powdered. Add this to the ground turkey along with garlic, ginger paste, cilantro and salt. Mix well and form into round balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat oil and add chopped onions, salt, paprika, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add in water and simmer for a few minutes. Add the gola kabobs and let it simmer gently covered for about 8 minutes. Add yogurt and cook another minute or so. Add toasted coconut and chopped cilantro right before taking off heat. Serve with Kitchuri or plain rice.
We eat a lot of chickpeas in South Asia. In cooked food, in fried fritters, in sauces and especially salads. I wanted a quick and easy salad with a little crunch and some protein in it so it could double as a filling lunch and not merely a side dish. I loved how this salad came together. Perfect for a summer Saturday after a killer workout!
Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 tbsp pomegranate vinegar
1 tbsp honey
lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
2 tbsp flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients of the vinaigrette until an emulsion forms. Toss together all the salad ingredients and pour dressing over the vegetables. Let it sit for a few minutes before eating!