Monday, April 30, 2007

My CSA Bag has Fava Beans: It Must Be Spring

Before I get to the recipe, a bit about CSA.
A few years ago, I noticed that the only locally grown ingredients on my dining table were the head of lettuce from Salinas, CA and the garlic from Gilroy, CA.
Though we'd regularly frequent the farmer's market, we couldn't always go there. When we couldn't, the produce came from the global market place!
We live in Northern California, where one should get locally grown produce all year around.
Enter Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Before the harvest season starts, I sign up to become a member of the farm.
Every week, throughout the harvest season, I pick up a bag of organic, fresh, locally grown produce from a pick-up site in the neighbourhood.
Just look at a recent CSA bag!!!

Being a part of the CSA has completely changed the way I cook.
In the pre-CSA days, I'd look at kale, the different types of chards, fava beans but I'd pass them saying 'I'll get them next time'....which never came.
I was mainly apprehensive of them fitting in my Indian-Maharashtrian kitchen.
But once I started getting these vegetables in my CSA-bag, I was forced to use them...forced to think outside the box (bag).
In no time the vegetables that once seemed exotic became a part of our much loved foods: kale-pulao, bok-choy amti (daal), chard-parathas, pasta with dandelion greens etc.

Now on to the recipe....

I read this recipe for the fava bean salad in a magazine in my dentist's waiting room. Don't remember the name of the magazine(was in too much pain) but do remember the ingredients...pain or not, I am a foodie.
The cilantro is my addition.
I think parmesan (not the kind that comes in a box) and cilantro go well together.

Fava Bean Salad
2 cups shelled fava beans
6-7 stalks, spring onions
4-5 stalks cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup, parmesan cheese, loosely packed
1-2 tsp oil (I used olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the fava beans for just over a minute.
Heat oil, and on a low flame cook the spring onions.
Cook the onions slightly (about 1-2 minutes).
Take the onions off the heat and let cool slightly.
Add the beans, cilantro, cheese, and pepper.
Toss well.
Taste the salad before adding the salt. The amount of salt will depend on the saltiness of the cheese.

I'm sending the salad to Meeta's Monthly Mingle: Spring Is In The Air.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kale & Beans in Tomato Gravy

Years ago, a colleague at work once mentioned how he ( yes, he) prepares several gravies over the weekend to which he adds cooked beans, lentils, veggies, or any combination thereof for quick weekday dinners. Though it sounded like a great idea, I never got around to trying it.

Recently, just as I was finishing my trial run of an instant gravy, I remembered my friend's do-ahead tip. So I promptly packed the gravy off into the fridge; after it had completely cooled, of course.

Later in the week, I warmed the gravy and to it added several cups of chopped kale (Lacinato Kale) and a can of white kidney beans. When in season, I frequently substitute kale for spinach. White kidney beans were used because I had them on hand, but any other kind should do just as well.

Verdict: A keeper.
Both the gravy recipe and the notion of preparing gravies ahead of time.
Kale and the beans paired extremely well with the gravy.
There were no leftovers! As my mother would say 'chatta-matta' (everything was licked clean)!

Kale & Beans in Tomato Gravy

3 cups chopped kale
1 can white kidney beans, drained
1 medium sized onion, cut into 4-5 pieces
3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 medium sized garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
2 green chillies
2 tsp khus-khus (poppy seeds)
10-12 pieces of cashews, lightly roasted
2 tsp of your favourite garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste

1. Soak the khus-khus and cashews in some warm water.
2. Blend together the onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and chillies with a cup of water.
3. Heat the oil and to it add this soupy tomato-onion blend.
4. Cook it over medium-low heat for 6-7 minutes, more if the raw smell persists.
5. Meanwhile, in a blender make a smooth paste of the khus-khus and cashews.
6. Add this to the tomato gravy along with salt , turmeric, and garam masala.
7. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
8. Add the kale and beans. Mix well and cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes.

To make just the gravy, stop after step 7 and let the gravy cool completely before packing it an airtight container and storing in the fridge.

I'm sending the Kale & Beans in Tomato Gravy to Mahanandi's JFI: WBB-Greens.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Busy Mom and Cupcakes

It was her daughter’s birthday.
The little one wanted to take chocolate cupcakes with pink flowers for her friends in school.
Much as she wanted to make the cupcakes herself, she couldn't and was understandably heartbroken.
The store bought ones just won’t do. So what does one do?
Never fear when the Cooker Baker is here!
(pathetic joke, I know….but nevertheless funny).

Here are the chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow pink flowers that I made for my friend's little one.
Needless to say they were a huge hit in that pre-school class!



(The original recipe came from the box of cocoa but I've tweaked it a bit).
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa, I used Trader Joe's organic cocoa powder. This made a huge difference in the taste of the cupcakes.
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup skim milk. Any other kind should be ok. But I've always used skim milk.
1/2 cup vegetable oil, I used olive oil
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (Yes, boiling water.)

1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 drops pink food colouring

Marshmallow Flowers
marshmallows, large, about 30
pink sprinkles
pink jelly beans, about 30


1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Put cupcake liners in the cupcake pan. This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes. Since I did not have so many cupcake pans, I used store bought disposable foil pans.
3. Combine and then sift flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt.
4. Combine the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir well.
5. To the wet ingredients add the dry ingredients and using a hand mixer beat on medium speed for about two minutes.
6. Add the boiler water and stir well.
7. Fill each cupcake cup 2/3 full with the batter.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the should come out clean.
Cool completely before decorating.

1. In a medium bowl beat the butter for about two minutes.
2. Add the sugar, vanilla, one tbsp milk, an a couple of drops of the food colouring; beat this mixture for another two minutes.
3. Add more milk if the mixture is too dry.
4. Adjust the colour of the frosting by adding more food colour.
5. Cover, till ready to use.

Marshmallow Flowers
With a kitchen knife cut each marshmallow in five slices. The slices will take on an oval-ish petal-like shape.
Dip each petal in sprinkles and set aside.
Note: dip the petals in the sprinkles right after you cut them. The moistness of the cut petal will help in adhering the sprinkles to it.

Frost the cupcakes. You won't need a lot of frosting as the marshmallow flowers will cover most of the cupcakes. But you still want enough frosting to form a pink background for the marshmallow flowers.
Arrange the marshmallow petals, use five petals for each cupcakes.
Add the jellybean to the center of the cupcakes.


This is my entry for Coconut Chutney's SHF#30: Flower Power.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Off to a (smelly) start

Moola (mooli, radish) often gets a bad rap for it's pungent smell.
But those who like it, enjoy radish in all it's forms.
Be it radish parathas like
these or a radish curry like this.
Here is a simple Maharashtrian-style koshimbir (salad) and my entry for Nupur's
A to Z of Indian Vegetables.

Moolya-chi Koshimbir

2 cups grated moola (radish).
2-3 tbsp urad daal, soaked
1/3 cup peanuts, roasted and ground coarsely
salt, to taste
1 tsp sugar
4-5 leaves kadhilimba (curry leaves)
oil and jeera for the phodni (tadka)
kothimbir (cilantro) for garnishing

Put the grated radish in a colander and sprinkle with some salt. This steps serves the dual purpose of removing some water and reducing the pungency of the radish.
After about 30 mins transfer the radish to a bowl.
Add the daal, the peanuts, and sugar to the radish.
Heat oil for the phodni, add jeera. Once the jeera browns, add the curry leaves.
Pour this phodni over the radish mixture.
Taste and adjust the salt.
Garnish with kothimbir.

Enjoy with steamed rice or with plain rotis; even tastes great as a sandwich filling!

First Post

Last year while googling for a recipe, I stumbled upon a food blog, Nupur's One Hot Stove. In one go, I went through the entire A-Z of Marathi Food series.

For someone like me, who has food on her mind all the time and who is fairly tech savvy, this world of food blogs was surprisingly unknown.
Before long I was hooked and couldn't wait to be a part of this world!

I love to cook and bake; find both these very relaxing and therapeutic and it doesn't hurt that we are a family of foodies. We really do live to eat.

Do stop by my blog and take a look at what this Cooker is up to.
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