Friday, October 29, 2010

Jazzed up Crescent Rolls

You know those Pillsbury Crescent rolls you get at the grocery store? The ready-to-bake dough that is neatly tucked away in those pop-up cylinders, that, I must admit, scare the living daylights out of me (OK, not quite that scary, but startling, nevertheless!). Sometimes when I make soup for dinner, I just bake some crescents on the side. They work well for dunking purposes. Plain crescents are pretty yummy by themselves, but when jazzed up, they taste even better!

There are quite a few different ways I transform plain, ordinary crescents into out-of-this-world crescents and the most popular kinds in my household are the fruity crescents and the cheesy crescents. For the former, I use some jam or preserves (my personal favorite is the orange marmalade filling) while for the latter I like to use cheddar cheese (my personal favorite being the sharp variety).

The method is pretty straightforward, really and the main thing to remember is to follow the instructions on the container!
  1. Follow instructions and get the dough out on a baking sheet.  
  2. Spread some jam/jelly/preserves of your choice onto each individual crescent dough and then roll each into well, a crescent (again, instructions are on the container). 
  3. And then shove it into the oven per instructions and bake, err, don't want to repeat- but yeah, the instructions are right there on the container. (And that is the last time I say that!)
  4. The same for the cheesy kind- just place a little cube or thin slice of cheese of your choice (I think cheddar works best) and then roll and bake away.

Ready to be baked (the ones on the right have strawberry preserves in them, the left ones have cheese)

Perfectly baked and ready to be gobbled up!

Dunk those in your soup! Especially the cheesy crescent-- delicious!

Very simple, right? The good thing about this is that you can get all creative with that dough and take plain old crescents to a whole new level. And then, show off a bit! ;) 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Other Egg Curry

I often make egg curry where you boil some eggs, make the usual curry sauce with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes and throw in the eggs into the sauce. Pretty simple and of course, delicious.

Now I remember, back when I was a kid, my mom used to make the regular egg curry (with the boiled eggs) and also another kind wherein she would first make an omelette and then cut it into bite sized pieces and put this into the curry sauce. To be honest, I used to hate that version of egg curry! But apparently my dad quite enjoyed it. Not sure about my brother, though.

Last evening I ended up making the very same egg curry, omelette style!

I took:

1. Eggs- whisked them up the old way with a fork and made one big, fluffy (and it was super fluffy!) omelette. I then cut the omelette into bite sized pieces.

 Gorgeously Fluffy Omelette!

Cut up into bite sized pieces

2. Onion finely chopped, grated ginger+garlic, tomato paste.

3. A couple potatoes.

4. Cumin, fennel and mustard seeds, salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, oil, water.

The Curry Sauce:

1. Just heated up some oil in a pot, spluttered cumin, mustard and fennel seeds and threw in the onion, ginger and garlic and sauteed it a bit. Then added some tomato paste, followed by some salt, red chilli powder and garam masala. Added some water and brought it to a boil.

2. Then added the potato (rough chopped) into this and covered the pot so as to cook it.

And Finally: 

After about 15 minutes, when the potato was cooked, added the omelette pieces into the curry. Covered the pot and let everything hang out.

Omelette curry! Almost looked like fish curry!

Served with:

Some quick simple peas and "jeera" (cumin) fried rice. The fluffy omelette pieces had soaked up the beautiful curry sauce. One bite and it was a blast of juicy goodness in your mouth........mmm, fantastic!

Omelette Curry over some peas-jeera fried rice

It is funny how my taste buds have changed over the years. I mean, I used to hate this omelette curry as a kid and look at me now--- I quite like it! My husband and son like it too. As for my daughter..........well, she reminds me of me all those years ago!! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not your ordinary Chicken & Mushroom!

The other day, I picked up this nice package of Hummus from Costco. Nice because it has several snack sized cups.......pretty convenient, I think. Well, the primary purpose was of course to have the kids take it as part of their school snacks and lunches (that is what most of us go to Costco for, right?). But then the plan sort of backfired on me and well, I was left with these 16 2 oz unopened cups of hummus lying in the fridge. Well, sadly for the kids, their plan of not eating the hummus backfired on them! HAHA! (Note the evil laugh!)

I made some really delicious chicken and mushroom dish and what do you think I incorporated to get that beautiful consistency as well as the flavor? One guess!

I took: 

Boneless skinless chicken breast, mushrooms (the regular white button kind), some cherry tomatoes, a couple cloves of garlic, some salt, black pepper, red crushed pepper, tad bit of water and the "secret" ingredient- hummus!

The cooking:

OK, I'm telling ya, the cooking involves pretty much nothing. Literally the easiest thing to whip up, ever!
  1. I cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces, minced up the garlic and threw the two together into some heated oil in a pot. Stirred it all to brown up the chicken and basically cook it. Salted it and also added some black pepper as well as some red crushed pepper flakes.
  2. Then I threw in the mushrooms that I had cut into halves and sauteed them together with the cooked chicken. I then added some beautiful red cherry tomatoes for color. The mushrooms and tomatoes had released some water, but to increase the quantity, I added some more water.
  3. And finally I stirred in some of that awesome hummus into the chicken and mushroom. It not only added an extra flavor profile to the whole dish, but also gave it an excellent consistency. I let it simmer for a few more minutes and then tasted it and was bowled over! It was so delicious!!!! I knew for sure that the kids and the husband would love it too. 
Not your ordinary chicken and mushroom! 

Was I right?

Of course! The family loved it like crazy! I served it with brown rice. And it was superbly yummy!

Was the secret revealed?

OK, I admit- normally, I would have just shut up. But well, I wanted to tell the kids that hummus is in fact pretty yummy and therefore the "secret" had to be revealed.

The Kids' Reaction?

Oh we knew it, Mom!



So is the hummus over?

Err, no. Not to worry, though. I am sure it will get incorporated into yet another brilliantly delicious preparation, thanks to yours sincerely!


Monday, October 11, 2010


Normal Breakfast at my house: Cereal, Bread, perhaps eggs. 

Normal Breakfast back at mom's house: Dosa, Idli, Poha, Sabudana khichdi, Akki Rotti, just to name a few and the ever famous Uppittu (kannada) or Uppindi (telugu), better known as Upma.

Sometimes, especially on a weekend, I decide to make something special for breakfast. Now special to me of course means something that I would eat if I were back at my mom's place in India. I love upma because well, for starters, it is delicious! And it is extremely quick* and simple to make. And as you know, I am always up for simple, quick and delicious!

There are several kinds of upma one can make. You know, the very basic one where you put err, nothing- basically like a savory porridge. Then you have the kind where you incorporate onions and potatoes (and tomatoes, that I love). And then there is the whole mixed veggie kind. And then again, there is the kind that incorporates only green peas and it is simply delicious.

You need:

Green peas (I just use the frozen kind), Coarse Rava/Sooji- available at any IGS (you could substitute this with cracked wheat, works awesome!), salt, green chilli(es), hot water, oil, mustard seeds.

  1. I take a pan and put in a few teaspoons of oil. Heat and then splutter some mustard seeds followed by some green peas and green chillies (depending on how much heat you like). Quickly stir. 
  2. I then pour in the coarse Rava/Sooji (usually for 2 of us, I take 1 to 1.5 cups) into this pan with the peas and then add salt to taste. Stir it all up for about 2-3 minutes. I don't mind if it kind of browns up a bit, in fact, I like it.
  3. Then I take the pan off the heat and pour in hot water and immediately stir it all up. There is going to be some major boiling-bubbling action going on, but don't worry, it is all part of the fun! ;) And then I place the pan back on the heat and cover it up and let it simmer. 
  4. Usually in about 7 to 10 minutes, all the water would have disappeared and the upma is ready to be served! 
  5. If I am in the mood, I garnish with some chopped up cashew nuts, grated coconut and cilantro. YUM!
Green Peas Upma- YUM!

If you know couscous and like it, I am sure you will like upma too. Do give it a shot!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Akki Rotti

If you do not know the language, Kannada, then you might be wondering about the title, "Akki Rotti." Well, Akki stands for Rice and Rotti stands for Roti/bread. So simply put, it is bread made of rice flour. I simply LOVE this preparation and as usual, I think that my mom and Avva (mom's mom) make THE best akki rottis in the world!

The standard version incorporates finely chopped onion, green chillies and cilantro. And of course, the innovative version or well, MY version, incorporates spinach and even grated carrots!

You need:

The standard version: Rice Flour (available in any IGS), finely chopped onion, some chopped or slit green chillies, cilantro, cumin seeds, salt to taste. I sometimes use grated coconut too......adds to the taste.

The spinach or grated carrots version:  As above plus chopped spinach or grated carrots. Easy!

Oh and a few teaspoons of oil (yep, you don't need a lot of oil for this!)

First, the Dough:

You know how you make pizza dough? Or dough for rotis/chapatis? This one is pretty similar.

1. So take rice flour in a mixing bowl, add the chopped onion, green chillies and cilantro, cumin seeds and salt (and coconut, if you are using it). If you are using spinach, then go ahead and put that in too. Ditto for grated carrots.
2. Take some water in a cup and start pouring it into the above flour mixture bit by bit. Start mixing it all together with your fingers. Keep adding water until you can make a nice pizza-dough like dough. It should all hold together when you make a ball out of it.

Next, the making of Akki Rotti: 

1. Take a pan (my mom & grandmom use aluminium kadhais/woks for this. But I just make-do with regular pans..........) and put a teaspoon of oil into it.

2. Then take some of that dough you made and form a rough ball out of it and then put this into the pan and start patting with your fingers, so as to spread it out. It is almost like the reverse of making a pizza base out of pizza dough. The difference being, you make the pizza base with your fingers underneath the dough and spread it out, while here you use a pan as a support and spread it out with a patting action going on. Here, this picture should help a bit:
See how I spread out the dough with my fingers? 

3. Then switch on the stove and cover the pan with a lid and cook the rotti. You don't have to cook both the sides because the bottom part gets cooked with the heat from the stove and the top part gets steam cooked because of the combination of the heat and the lid on top.

4. I like my akki rotti nice and brown and crunchy and so I cook it for about 7-10 minutes on medium heat......if you prefer it white and soft, then just cook for 5-7 minutes and it should be good to go!

5. Can be eaten with chutney or Indian pickle or even with any kind of curry. Pretty rustic and yummy!!

Akki Rotti with tomato chutney

Making akki rotti can be pretty tedious the first time around. But as with anything, practice makes perfect! If you want a really healthy, rustic version of this already rustic preparation, use Ragi (finger millet) flour.

Note: You gotta make sure that when you start patting out the dough to make the rotti, the pan has to be cool and not hot--- because if it is hot, then patting it out is going to be one messy job.

When I make akki rotti for the entire family, I just use 4 pans at a time. That way I get 4 rottis in one shot!