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.
I love things you can make that are visually stunning, tastes amazing and takes little or no effort to make. Like this Peach tart. It is gorgeous and people will rave about it and it takes just a few minutes to put together. I love it! All you need is a package of store bought puff pastry sheets (you can be a Martha Stewart and make your own, but why?) and some fresh ripe peaches and you’re golden. ANYBODY can make this. Literally the peach tart for dummies. Try it for your next get together and watch the rave reviews come in!
Peach Tart for Dummies
1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
1/4 cup sugar
2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tsp water
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Defrost puff pastry dough in the refrigerator. Take out one sheet and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. No need to roll out. Pierce the puff pastry with a fork. Thinly slice two fresh large peaches and layer them in three rows on the puff pastry sheet leaving a half-inch clearance on all four sides. Sprinkle sugar on top of the peach slices. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. In a small microwave safe bowl heat apricot jam and water together for about 45 seconds. Brush over the peaches until shiny. Serve cooled.
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’m still on my blueberry kick. I already made some scones so I decided to try some crumble bars. I wanted them to have a nice crust on the bottom, sort of like a lemon bar but have the moisture of a coffee cake and the crunch of a streusel topping all rolled into one. There are a huge variety of crumb bar recipes out there. I decided to combine some of the things I liked about a few of the old stand by recipes I had for cherry crumb bars and lemon bars to come up with this one. It turned out very nicely. I didn’t even have to add nuts to the top to give it the satisfying “crumb” texture, the blueberries kept their integrity without turning into a gooey sauce and the bottom crust was fantastic, holding it all together. This thing can be eaten as a bar, but I’m telling you it’s unparalleled with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream on top! (Or at least that’s what everyone else who ate them up told me. Only 4 more days to go on this cleanse…)
Blueberry Crumble Bars
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (save to add to the mixture later)
4 cups fresh blueberries
juice of one lemon
3 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder. Using a pastry blender cut in the butter with the flour mixture until a crumbly mixture forms. Whisk egg and vanilla together and pour into the flour mixture and blend well. Mixture will be crumbly. Press half of the flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9 x 13 pan and bake for about 18 minutes.
In the meantime, add the rolled oats to the remaining flour mixture and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the blueberries with lemon juice, corn starch and sugar, taking care not to smash any of the berries. Take the crust out of the oven, it should be a light brown color, spread the blueberry mixture evenly on top and sprinkle the flour/oat mixture on top of the blueberries. Return to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until golden brown on top and berries are nice and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cool completely and cut into bars.
It’s blueberry season! They are abundant and delicious and to top it all off, they are a superfruit, full of antioxidants and nutrients. I found an awesome deal on blueberries today…80 cents a pound. I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries. I’m going on a blueberry kick for the next few days. I’m going to be making blueberry preserves, crumb bars, muffins, sauce…I’m doing a happy dance in my head. But first I think I’ll start with the basics….A wonderful lemon blueberry scone. Scones are great with coffee anytime. As a dessert or as a breakfast or brunch item. They also freeze really, really well which means I can have some when I get off this Master Cleanse (I just had a food porn moment).
Lemon Blueberry Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream
a little extra cream and some turbinado (raw) sugar for brushing and sprinkling on top
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add lemon zest to the flour mixture and mix together. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s a coarse mixture. Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour into the flour mixture and fold the mixture together, when it’s fairly well mixed, gently mix in the blueberries taking care not to smash the blueberries. Don’t over work the dough. On a floured surface, press the dough dough gently to form a square about 1 inch thick. Cut into half then into half again so there are four squares. Cut the squares at a diagonal to get the triangle shape. If you want smaller pieces cut the triangles again so you get a total of 16 pieces. Place on a ungreased cookie sheet. Brush the tops of each triangle with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes at 400°F. Let the scones cool on a cooling rack before serving.
I have a sweet tooth. There’s no getting around it. I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though. I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make. The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me. I can get by with a little bite or two. But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena. I have no idea why. Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse. If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site. Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD. I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally. I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great. The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together. Like these cookies for instance. I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great. I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict. I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside. The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips. I’m told that I’ve succeeded. So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.
Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper. In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well. In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy. Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated. Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips. Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies. Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool. Makes about 36-40 cookies.
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.
Leftover bananas can sneak up on you. It seems like one day they are firm, yellow and delightful and the next day they are dark brown and overripe. Thankfully bananas are very versatile. They are fantastic for baking, making smoothies and drinks and even in savory dishes. I enjoy making banana bread with my overripe bananas and have posted my favorite version here. This time I wanted to make some muffins that were healthy AND delicious with some chocolate thrown in to make it special. I used mini chocolate chips because 1/2 cup goes a long way and feels like there is a lot more than there is! They turned out moist, flavorful and delicious. This recipe makes one batch of 12 muffins. If you get up early, you can throw the ingredients together stick it in the oven and go for a 22 minute run and come back to incredible warm muffins for breakfast. It’ll improve your performance (guaranteed) when you know such deliciousness is waiting for you!
Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta, or Indian WW flour)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, baking soda, egg, melted butter, milk and yogurt until well incorporated. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended (don’t over mix). Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and using an ice cream scooper fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the muffins to rack to cool for 15 minutes.