Superbowl SuperDip

A dip that lets you ditch the chips! Single servings can be handed out to each in beer mugs, so no worries about careless superbowlers double and triple dipping.

I don’t use cheese in the layers, instead I use two layers of yogurt- one for the usual sour cream and the other for cheese. Believe me, you will not miss the usual suspects. Enjoy!

SuperDip

Special tools:.

Tall transparent beer mug to layer the dips.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup refried pinto beans
  • 2/3 cup drained yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (garbanzo) hummus
  • 1/3 cup guacamole
  • 1/4 cup salsa (1/2 cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved + 2 scallions chopped fine + 1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced + 2 tbsp minced cilantro + 1 tbsp lemon juice + dash of salt)

Method

Carefully make the following layers of 1/3 cup each: beans, yogurt, hummus, yogurt, guacamole. Top with salsa.

Serve with chips or vegetable crudités.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. To make the layers; carefully spoon the dip in the center of the glass and then push it out with the spoon. This will avoid trailing strands of dip in the sides.
  2. You can always use smaller portions with disposable transparent glass. A transparent container lets one see all that awaits the excited palate.
  3. Homemade refried pinto beans: soak beans overnight and cook the beans until soft and drain. Saute diced onions in a little oil; add a little of cumin powder + cayenne pepper + all-spice powder + cinnamon. Add 1 cup of cooked beans and 1 cup water. Cover and cook for 15 mins. Then cool and mash with a potato masher.
  4. Homemade hummus: You can use canned garbanzo beans or cook them from scratch (soak beans overnight and then cook till tender). Run through a processor with seasonings of your choice: garlic, sesame paste, cayenne etc.
  5. Homemade guacamole: For this dip you can uses just avocado and a little salt for seasoning and lime juice to avoid premature oxidation.
  6. You can substitute one of the layers of yogurt with cheese if you want- I would use goat cheese to surprise your palate.

Tangia Lamb Stew

This is a mishmash of sorts: Chinese inspired stew in a Moroccan pot. I experimented with the stew in my recently acquired Tangia pot. Really a sign of the times- the global village we live in that gives everyone the ability to draw from diverse cultures.

The Tangia pot is like an amphora jar, unlike the more popular Tagine pot where the oversized lid allows for a large space for steam to circulate steaming top the layer while braising the bottom layer. In a Tangia, on the other hand, all the layers meld into one.

An absolutely easy-peasy, no-hassles recipe with no pre-browning (just a trot to your local Asian market). I replace the Moroccan spices with a melange of soy-based sauces giving that unmistakable Hong-Kong, Cantonese depth of flavor. I throw in some of my own twists (kicap manis and sake which have served me so well on previous occasions).

It turns out that the sous-vide (under vacuum) version works equally well. I am a reluctant sous-vider but this one may have made a convert out of me. Enjoy either the tangia/oven or the vacuum pack/sous vide version!

Special tools:

Moroccan tangia pot.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless lamb, fat trimmed and cut into stew sized pieces
  • Sauce: 1.5 tbsp Chou Hou Sauce + 1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce + 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce + 1 tbsp Malaysian Sweet Soy Sauce (kicap manis) + 2 tbsp sake
  • Aromatics: 1 bay leaf + 2 star anise + 1 tbsp dried orange peel
  • 1 large potato peeled and cut into bite sized pieces and steamed till fork tender and slightly cooled
  • Garnish: sliced scallions + chopped cilantro

Method

Put all ingredients, except the garnish, in the tangia pot. Seal top with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F for 2 hours.

Garnish and serve with greens (tender pea greens in picture). Alternatively, serve with steamed rice.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. It is very likely you wont have a tangia pot, then choose a baking pan with as narrow a mouth as possible. Place a droplid on the surface of the stew- this way the ingredients are encouraged to stew in their own juices, quite literally.
  2. To be doubly safe, I place the tangia pot in a hot water bath (bain marie). Though in Morocco the pots may indeed be placed in actual village baths. Ha.
  3. If you cannot get kicap manis (1 tbsp), mix 1 tbsp soy sauce with 1 tbsp brown sugar.
  4. Sous-vide version. Vacuum seal and cook at 155 F for 8 hours.

Ayurvedic Shot

I adapt this from Thrive’s health shot. It was such a hit with friends, family, acquaintances over the last holiday season, that I feel obliged to share my version with all. The haldi (turmeric) and sonth (dried ginger) components make it unmistakably Ayurvedic. I love the taste, first and foremost; then I am equanimous, as a yogini, after 🙂

It’s the season for apple cider and the few intrepid winter farmers’ markets grab your attention with this. So it was only fitting that I incorporate this into the shot; something like Temperate meets Tropics. Enjoy and embrace the yogi/yogini in you!

Cider Ayurvedic Shot
Special tools:

Blender.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz) apple cider (serves 2)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (or fermented turmeric powder) + 1 tsp ginger powder (sonth) + dash of sea salt + pinch of ground black pepper
  • 3 cubes of frozen tender coconut water (or just ice cubes)

Method

Blend all the ingredients in your powerful blender for 45 seconds or so.
Serve immediately.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. To make coconut water ice-cubes: Pour coconut water into freezing trays. It freezes in about 2 hours in the freezer. Then remove th cubes and place in a container in the freezer. Use as required.
  2. Sonth is dried ginger. It is different from fresh ginger; it has a deeper flavor and taste. Ginger powder in your supermarket is indeed sonth (fresh ginger cannot be powdered).
  3. Both turmeric and ginger powder do not technically dissolve easily in a liquid medium; the blender helps in the “emulsification”, in addition to the froth.
  4. Instead of the 1 cup apple cider, you can use –1 cup tender coconut water + 1 tbsp honey + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar– (as in Thrive’s health shot).
  5. Warm Shot: Instead of using the iced cubes, you can warm the cider with the exact same ingredients for a comforting warm shot.

Festive Frappuccino

A powerful blender is an incredible tool. I even saw on youtube it pulverizes concrete! Not kidding.  Amazingly some ingredients taste even better when reduced to molecules. Here the powerful blades crush the almonds and the ice into a frappe consistency (or thinner) with a pleasing froth. Makes me wonder what other bewitching tchotchke lies round the corner.

I realize that we are responsible for the consequences of what we eat. In that vein I have convinced myself that the dark chocolate coated almonds with a hint of turbinado sugar and sea salt (from none other than Trader Joe’s) is one of the harmless munchies. Inspired by the classical Italian affogato, I use these Trader Joe’s almonds with espresso for a 2-minute frappuccino. A dash of liqueur celebrates the holidays.  Serves two in a dainty Cocktail or an Old Fashioned glass; but just one in a Highball glass. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Blender.

Ingredients

  • 1 shot of espresso (15 gm coffee beans/30 gm shot)
  • 10-12 almonds coated with dark chocolate, salt and turbinado sugar
  • a splash of Cacao (or Coffee) liqueur
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk)
  • few ice cubes

Method

Blend all the ingredients in the blender and let it run for 30 secs or more. Serve immediately, with a few almonds on the side.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. I used the fancy Dutch Strietman to extract the shot, but the humble stove-top Italian Espresso maker is as spectacular.
  2. You can also use drip coffee or French Pressed. Freeze the coffee to make iced cubes in the recipe.
  3. If you cannot find the chocolate coated almonds, then used almonds + cacao powder + dash of  (Sicilian) sea salt.
  4. I show the liqueur I use below, but feel free to skip this for  a non-alcoholic, morning version.

Rolled Cabbage Latke with Goat Cheese

When it comes to latke, don’t battle with nostalgia. Sometimes, one man’s greasy is another man’s gratifying!

Chaya egged me on to make a healthy Hanukkah posting. I experimented over two weekends during Hanukkah to finally produce the response to Chaya’s challenge. On the first weekend, I used root vegetables and on the second I used cabbage. Both the results were finger-licking good, as endorsed by my tasters, and off-the-meters on the health-o-meter: very little oil and chock-full of veggies. Believe me, a very very palatable way to consume your vegetables. Not sure how to interpret this but I was constantly hearing “can’t believe this is cabbage” 🙂

I wanted a different presentation, so I went for this roll. It has many advantages. Firstly, you don’t need to make individual latke hovering over a hot plancha (like I did last year at a friend’s Hanukkah party).  Secondly, you can fold in goat cheese (or any other filling of your choice) right into the body.

Instead of eggs, I used besan (chickpea flour) as a binder.  It imparts an interesting taste, lends a light-crispy bind of the veggies and keeps the vegetarians in your guest mix even happier. Also, Chaya assures me that besan is kosher. Enjoy the oblong latke!

Special tools:

Parchment paper.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups shredded cabbage + 2 julienned turnips +  1/2 sliced onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder + salt to taste + pepper
  • 1/3 cup besan
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese for filling
  • sour cream or drained homemade yogurt for serving

Mix all the ingredients well. The vegetables have a natural moisture that will wet the dry flour (besan). If that does not work for you, then add 1-2 tbsps of water and lightly mix. Line a baking tray with parchment. You need the parchment to help you roll.  Make a mat of the mix on the parchment, about 1 cm in thickness. Loosely pat it down and level off the edges, make sure the edge is not very thin as it may cook much faster than the rest. Bake in the middle rack, at 400 F for 25 mins.  Check on it for the last 10 minutes, to rotate the sheet or pull it out of the oven if already done.

Rest the baked vegetables for 10 mins or so till it is cool enough to handle but not complete cold.  Dot the top with little blobs of goat cheese. Then holding down the parchment sheet with one hand roll the vegetables (like you roll the mat for sushi rolls). The parchment paper will be completely on the outside. Tighten and shape the roll and let rest for a few minutes. Then remove the parchment and discard. Cut the cylinder diagonally with a sharp knife and serve with sour cream or yogurt.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Besan is available at Asian (Indian) groceries, or you can simply order over the internet.
  2. You want to create a loose mat of vegetables; so do not press down too hard, only lightly.
  3. You can use root vegetables (celeriac, sweet potatoes, turnip etc instead of or in addition to cabbage).
  4. You could also add shredded potatoes, then you don’t need to any further binder, since the starch in the potatoes will hold the mat together.
  5. Cutting the log diagonally gives more volume to each latke; but, feel free to cut them into round disks.  Use a sharp knife. I tried to first use a serrated bread knife, but found that a regular sharp chef’s knife was a better choice.

After-Diwali: Gajar Halwa Bread Pudding

If you didn’t already know, Indian sweets (mithai, mitha) are really, really sweet. And, at Diwali you are immersed in it for weeks. In this age of health-awareness you may still want to have your gajar halwa and eat it too!

I offer here an alternative to your pancake breakfast you can pull off in your microwave: a leftover halwa bread pudding. Or, simply a dessert.

Special tools:

Blender.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups loosely packed hand-torn cubes of  left-over bread (rye sourdough)
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk + 2 eggs + pinch of salt + 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 4 pieces OR 1 cup, mashed of (left-over) gajar halwa

Method

Place the bread in a microwave-proof pan. Blend the rest of the ingredients into a smooth liquid. Pour over the bread and let soak for 2 hours (if not overnight). Microwave with the lid on, for 4 mins; check and, if required, for another 2 mins. Let the pudding rest for 2 mins before serving warm.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Handcrafted at a local baker’s, the rye sour dough was my choice of bread. This Finnish contribution  to humankind has more personality than Shahrukh Khan!  But, you can use whatever bread you can lay your hands on.
  2. You can use carrot cake instead of the halwa; lest you are looking for ways to consume your left-over carrot cake.
  3. I used almond milk, but you can use any other milk. It plays the role of softening the bread, without actually watering it down.
  4. EVOO is used in cakes and desserts both in French and Italian cooking. And, I love that idea! So I threw this in here (instead of the usual butter).
  5. You can also serve this chilled.