Monday, January 30, 2017

Chicken noodle soup

Recently I bought this cookery book, "From Mama's table to mine"  by Mr. Bobby Deen in a nearby dollar store. He is the son of my beloved celebrity chef, Ms. Paula Deen. The original price was $39 but it was on sale that day and I consider myself lucky to get it for a dollar. I love the way the recipes are modified for reduced calorie consumption with added nutrition. His recipes are focused on healthy foods without changing the taste.
This is one of the best books I have ever bought and one day I tried Bobby's chicken noodle soup. My version is a little more spicy and Indianized. But for more accuracy and his ingenious tips , one must definitely buy this book. I prepared this chicken noodle soup using the ingredients I had at hand. I love the way it turned out. To my surprise my hubby too likes it very much and asked me to keep a portion for his lunch box too. I am glad that I have learned something new and good.
Try this and let me know !

Chicken with bones - 1/2 lb (200 gm)
noodle - Top ramen 1 pack
chicken stock - 2 cups
olive oil - 1 tbsp
butter - 1 tbsp
bay leaf - 2
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
whole black pepper - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
sea salt - to taste
red onion - 1
green chili - 2
garlic - 5 cloves
carrot - 1 (100 gm)
celery - 2 sticks
spring onion (scallion) - 2
cilantro - handful
tomato - 1 (100 gm)

Chop the carrot, celery , onion , garlic to small cubes. (I used Vidalia onion chopper for this step).
Mince the green chilies, cilantro, green onion.  Keep them all aside.
Chop the chicken to small cubes (1 inch size). I requested the butcher to chop the chicken for soup and got it absolutely right.

Heat oil + butter in a pressure cooker (3 liter or bigger).
Add bay leaf. Then goes the onion, garlic together. Saute in medium heat for 1 minute.
Then add all the chopped vegetables.
Saute till onion turns soft. Then add the chicken pieces, minced spring onion, cilantro, green chili.
Add crushed pepper + cumin , turmeric,  salt and saute everything together for 3 more minutes.
Add finely chopped tomato.
Pour the chicken stock (store bought). Bring to a boil.
Close the lid. Put on the pressure valve.
Cook for 5 whistles and switch off.
After the pressure reduces, open the lid.
Keep the flame at low.
Break a pack of noodles and add to the boiling soup.
Cook for 3 minutes or till noodles get cooked.
Switch off.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Chicken noodle soup is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Makes 4 to 5 servings.
Serve along with croutons or bread.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to make raisin from grapes ?

Homemade raisins and dry fruits are made possible by using an equipment called dehydrator. Dehydrators come handy when sun-drying process becomes almost impossible in some places. Also this method is more hygienic (no dust) and convenient too. In India, sundried foods are prepared during summer and it is like a family event in many homes :) Still I remember how I used to enjoy making vadagams (papad), vatral etc along with my amma and her friends. I will make a separate post for that soon. Sundried papads made in open terraces in India are really hygienic (as people handle it with utmost care), environment friendly and lot of fun to prepare too.  But many of us in the cold countries have to trust a dehydrator to preserve the homegrown vegetables, herbs and fruits. The power consumption of dehydrators should not discourage anyone from using it. Because the absence of chemicals in manufacturing process justifies that cost and also the power cost is negligible. Here is an interesting page on cost of dehydrated food.
Though I was amazed at the possibilities of using a dehydrator at home, I never thought of buying one, till I saw it on sale in ALDI last year. I got this for less than $ 14 and I am delighted with that purchase, because I have used this many times to make delicious raisins, vadagams and dried vegetables (vatral) .

The dehydrator from ALDI and the raisin I made in that.
Homemade cloth base for dehydrator plates
Raisins made in dehydrator

store it in airtight container at room temperature.

Kesari made using homemade raisin

Seedless grapes - 1 kg

The dehydrator is an equipment (see photo), that would have a heating coil at the base and some plates with holes stacked above it. The center hole and the holes in the plate facilitates the hot air circulation.
I covered the plates using a new thin cotton cloth and cut out the center holes for aeration. But that is not necessary, if the grapes are larger.
First rinse the grapes thoroughly (thrice or more times). Remove the stems.
Pat dry using a clean cloth.
Place on all the plates of the dehydrator (evenly spaced).
Arrange the plates over the coil.
Switch on at maximum heat.
It may take nearly 2 to 3 days for drying the grapes to a hard stage.
I always run the dehydrator when I am at home and switch it off while sleeping. But many people run it continuously and it gets dried in 24 hours for them.
Finally place all the dried raisins in a single plate and continue drying for 6 more hours if needed.
Dry it till it turns more harder than store bought to ensure longevity (as we are not adding any chemicals to preserve them).

Before we use it any recipe (raw) we can soak a handful of raisin in few tsp of water and puff them in microwave. It will get the same softness like store bought.
I use this in many desserts, oats and fruit cake.
Making raisins is a good way to turn sour grapes to sweeter ones.
Buy the organic grapes (optional) during season at a lesser price and enjoy perfect raisins throughout the year.
yields : 2 cups raisins

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

French fries in air fryer

If there is a contest between all 'the world's most favorite foods' , then I am sure French fries will win that crown.  From kids to grandparents, I have never seen anyone saying no to it. But with the rise of calorie consciousness, everybody wants this to be inside their calorie limit.  In those moments our airfryer comes as the helping hand. It won't be too much, if I say airfryers and French fries are made for each other. Of all the recipes I made using the airfryer, Potato fries came absolutely the same like oil fried.
I couldn't believe the results I got. I have used russet potatoes, as it is more starchy and it is believed to produce the best French fries. Here is an interesting link to know more about different varieties of potatoes.

Preparing an authentic French fry is like an art. It has many steps and here is how pros do it.

I have my own version for airfried potatoes and I am sure it gives a perfect fry, which tastes more similar to oil fried ones.

Air fried French fries

Russet potato - 1 (large)
Himalayan pink salt (or) sea salt - 1/8 tsp
turmeric powder - a pinch
extra virgin olive oil - 1 tsp

Preheat the airfryer for 5 minutes at 400 F.
Rinse the potato and remove the skin.
Slice it into long strips of 1/3 inch thickness.
Put in a bowl and add other ingredients.
Mix well.
Put this in the airfryer basket.
Cook at 400 F for 5 minutes, take out and toss well.
Start cooking again at 350 F for 5 more minutes.
Check every 3 minutes and mine got ready by 8 minutes.
The potato will become crispy on outside and soft inside.
It will get a golden color with a hint of mild red in some spots.  That is the perfect stage.
Take out and enjoy while it is hot.

This fries tastes much similar to restaurant made (while hot). It gets soft , if left outside for more time.  But it can be made crispier again using airfryer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rice stuffed capsicum

Till last year I was thinking that these big box stores are stocked with just baby items and paper towels only, as most of the people I know would suggest these stores for bigger families only. Then one day we too started going there out of curiosity and now I understand the benefits of buying the groceries in bulk. (But I am still in love with locally grown fresh produce and am buying them religiously. Costco's' produce may be good for larger families, as they all come in big packs like 10 lbs of apple, 20 lbs of onion like that. So you can buy them , if you can consume them quickly). So my costco shopping list would always consist of milk, egg, non perishable items like paper towels, evoo, coconut oil,v8 etc. Best of all , I admire the quality of goods they give at an affordable rate. Believe it or not, they are selling desi ghee and Indian yogurt also in some zip codes. I tried this kirkland butter to make some ghee and it is tastes just like a native homemade Indian ghee. That's my best finding there along with the evoo.  My hubby came to know of this Quinoa rice through his friend and thus it entered our house too. Though we can have it by simply microwaving, I make some variations some days.
I made this on a weekend,  as my readers know that I wish to make something special on every Friday evening for hubby. This simple recipe may make you look like a genius and your sweetheart may think that you have cooked for hours to create this. So try this and enjoy a happy dinner together :)

Note: We can make this recipe by baking the capsicum too. But I am showing a more quicker and aromatic method, the shallow frying.  

Microwaveable quinoa and capsicum 

Shallow frying the capsicum in 1 tbsp evoo.

Microwave the sachet. One would be enough for 2 people.

Stuff the capsicum with cooked rice

Cook again.

Microwaveable quinoa+rice - 1 cup
Capsicum - 2
salt - little
extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp

Rinse the capsicum. Remove the top (along with stem). Remove the seeds using a spoon or blunt knife. Sprinkle little salt inside and coat the outside with olive oil.
(If you wish you can bake the capsicum at this point at 350 for 10 minutes or till tender).
I suggest shallow frying, as it takes much lesser time and smells good too.
Heat a tbsp of oil in wok.
Place the capsicums and cook covered in low heat. Flip or stir few times. It may take less than 5 minutes to cook it to crisp-tender.
Take them out.
Microwave the 'seeds of change' Quinoa rice as per directions. (Microwave at high for 2 minutes, after cutting a small opening at top).
Take the rice and fill the capsicum cups. If needed , sprinkle some cheese on top (I didn't do it).  Keep the remaining rice for serving along.
Carefully place the capsicums with the cut side up (see photos). Cook covered for 2 minutes in medium heat.
Take out. Serve hot.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as dinner.
Makes 2 servings.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sweet Potato Fries in Air fryer

As every new year begins, most of us enthusiastically write up some goals. One among them would be ' getting in shape ' :) . But we all love those fries too. The modern technology has fixed that for those food lovers and now we can have our fries too using this new gadget.
To start the new year,  I thought it would be more appropriate to write about this user friendly gadget, the air fryer.  I bought this Bella air fryer online during last 'thanksgiving sale' for less than $ 50. At first I saw this in my brother's house and I loved the French fries he made for me. I gave  a lot of thinking before buying this new equipment, as I am getting more choosier on which gadgets sits in the kitchen counter after buying that kitchenaid mixer :) Anyway I love all my kitchen gadgets and somehow will find space for everything :).  I was comparing the conventional oven with this air fryer. As I am sure that our conventional oven can do everything an air fryer does. But the air fryer takes lesser time, cooks more evenly and it is easier to handle this less weight fryer basket too. It would be more convenient to use air fryer during hot weathers while we all love our oven's heating effect during winters :) Above all, the most deciding factor for me was the 'thanksgiving offer' and those ads. I didn't go for the much pricier brand as it was not on a 'sale' :) and bought this Bella brand and I adore it.
Bella Air fryer :Product details:12.28"H x 10.35"W x 13.03"D,  2.5 liter capacity, 1500 watts, Model no. 14538

I have tried many recipes using this air fryer and I am sure it will become the next favorite for all the home chefs :) Anyways we can do these sweet potato fries using a baking oven too. Click to see my earlier recipe Baked sweet potato chips / fries .  If you are trying to make this in a big batch for more people, then prepare the sweet potatoes, mariante and keep in fridge till frying. Or do the frying for half way and keep frozen, then do the air frying without defrosting whenever needed.
I made fries using 3 medium size sweet poatoes (almost 2 lb). I did the air frying in 2 batches and it turned out amazing. I have used the yellow sweet potatoes as it is more healthy. But we can use the expensive Japanese yam (Indian sweet potatoes) too. The air fried 'fries' would not be crispier like oil fried. But personally I consider these fries as more delicious as they are not greasy.
Try this and I am sure you all will love this recipe.

Sweet potato fries made in air fryer

Rinse the sweet potatoes, peel them and rinse again.

Cut it in to thick strips (thin ones may brown soon)

Sliced chips

Add salt, turmeric, chili powder, evoo, cumin powder

Put in air fryer basket in 1 lb batches

Fry in air fryer (see timings and temp below)

Enjoy a worthy snack , because we all deserve these :) 

Sweet potato - 2 lb
salt - 3/4 tsp
red chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp

Soak and rinse the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt.
Scrub and peel the sweet potatoes. Rinse and wash thoroughly again.
Cut it into  thick strips (thinner ones get brown easily, as sweet potato is sweet :).
Put all the ingredients along with sweet potatoes , in a large mixing bowl, mix well.
Preheat the air fryer basket for 3 minutes at 350 F.
Take the basket out, fill it with prepared sweet potatoes upto half the height. I do 1 lb per batch in my Bella fryer (see specifications above).
Set time to 20 minutes. Fry for 10 minutes.  Take out, toss and cook  again for nearly 10 minutes.  If it starts browning unevenly, then reduce temperature  to 320 and cook for 5 more minutes. IT would be done.
Air fried 'sweet potato fry' is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve hot with tomato ketchup as snack or side dish.

The total process may take 20 - 30 minutes for air frying, depending on the capacity. 
Preparation time for 2 lb may take 15 minutes.
The leftovers (if any) can be frozen and air fried again for a crispy fry. But DO NOT thaw them before putting in air frier.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year

Wishing all a beautiful, Prosperous and peaceful happy New Year ,
Viki Xavier.

Perfect Traditional Adai Dosai

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