Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tools of the Trade Tuesdays: Bella Cucina Panini Maker

Today I would like to introduce you to my friend- the Bella Cucina Panini Maker.

Price: < $20 (after discounts)
Available at: Macys, Amazon etc.

If I have not raved enough about it already in my other posts, I will say it again here. I absolutely love this device. What’s not to love about it? It is available for less than $20 (at Macy’s during their sales), it has a non-stick surface so cleanup is a breeze and it is so easily portable that you can carry it with you when you travel to make your Paninis on the go. Additionally if you prepare your Paninis ahead of time, the grilling takes only a min or more for each, so that you can include Paninis as a dish to wow your guests at your next party  :)

Now for the small drawbacks with this Panini maker. It is not super heavy, so if you are putting together a double mac and cheese size Panini, you might need to rotate it to grill evenly. Also this is capable of grilling two Paninis side by side by that depends on what bread you are using and also how big each one is. Ideally I would say you can make only one at a time.  If you are particular about making 2 at the same time, go ahead and invest in a more expensive one that is capable of accommodating that so you are not disappointed.

It makes lunch/dinner or a snack so easy to make. Just go ahead and put anything you like between two slices of bread, apply butter or oil on the outer sides and voila you have a restaurant style Panini that melts in your mouth in under 2 min. A plus is that since the sides are grilled, this stays soft for a long time even when no longer warm; so if you want Paninis at your next picnic, there is no one to really stop you! 

Images are from the web, from Macy's website.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Murungakkai Poricha Kuzhambu (Drumstick Lentil Soup)

I have never had any Poricha (Poritha in Tamil meaning fried) Kuzhambu in my home before marriage. First off we call it "Kootaan", so no Kuzhambu at all for that matter :)

My husband has a great love for podis, kootus and thogayals. So there are many of these recipes that I have learnt from my mother in law and this is one of them. This recipe can be used for any vegetable with either toor or urad dhal. However this particular combination of drumstick and moong bring out the flavors well. This recipe is no different from that of the Keerai Thandu Kootu that i posted sometime ago.

Time: 20 min

Difficulty Level: Easy

  • Chopped and washed drumsticks (2 nos)
  • Moong dhal - 3/4 to 1 cup in 3 cups of water 
  • Salt
  • turmeric powder (a pinch)

To roast and grind
  • grated coconut (1 tbsp)
  • pepper corns (1 tbsp) or red chillies (4-5 nos) or combination of both in lower amounts
  • jeera (1 tbsp)
  • urad dhal (1 tbsp)

To temper
  • oil
  • mustard (1 tbsp)
  • urad dhal (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • curry leaves

Method de Preparation
  1. Cook drumsticks in a vessel without closing it with water and some salt and turmeric till the stalks are soft. Feel to see if they have cooked by pressing.
  2. Cook in another vessel in the open (do not pressure cook) moong dhal with the required water with turmeric. Allow to cook to the point where it can be gently mashed when you press between fingers.
  3. In a tbsp of oil, roast all the ingredients listed till slightly brown, grind when cool and keep aside.
  4. Once 1 and 2 are done, mix together, add the ground mix, allow everything to come together. Add more salt if required.
  5. Season with mustard, urad dhal and curry leaves in a little bit of oil and you are done :)

Variations: You can reduce/increase the amount of peppercorn according to spice level. Reducing/Increasing amount of moong dhal will help you vary consistency.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cholam (Corn on the Cob Indian Style)

If you have grown up in India and in any of the coastal regions like Chennai or Mumbai you could not have missed this delicacy that is a staple on the beachside. It is a totally different story that growing up I have never been allowed to eat much street food due to my dad being a medical doctor and hygiene issues. I wish I could reverse that now. I have tried to compensate for that once I got to college and he has also become increasingly lenient with the confidence that an Andial can end *whatever* should it arise.

To more pleasant things now. I have had an electric stove top until 2 years ago and just could not get this to grill effectively. The past two years since having a gas stove top; we make this regularly every summer when fresh corn is in galore. This is so simple to make, such a nutritious snack and can be modified for kids and adults alike by varying what spices you would use.

Time: 10 min

Difficulty level : Easy

  • Corn ( as many as you would like)
  • lime juice or lime (cut into 2 halves)
  • 1 tbsp chilly powder 
  • 1 tsp salt

Method de Preparation:
  1.  Peel the cover of the corn but don't take it away. You will be grilling it using that to hold. Just fold it backwards.
  2. Remove all the tender husk and string like fabric.
  3. Turn your gas stove top on and move corn back and forth on the fire. Keep rotating it so all sides are exposed to the heat.
  4. You might hear a few corn crackle. That is expected. How would you feel if you were held to the flame - I expect you would crackle too, right?
  5. Keep going until you can see it brown/blacken. Depending on how dark you want it, turn off heat and keep this aside.
  6. In the meantime mix together the chilly powder and salt. Cut the lime in two halves. 
  7. Now for the fun part. Take the corn in your left hand (yes, even if you are left handed), and take the lime half in your right hand. Dip that lime (the cut side of course) into that chilly salt mix. Get a good amount on it. Then apply it along the length of the corn squeezing the lime along the way so that the juice also enters the grooves. Repeat till the corn is covered. For kids, omit the chilly salt mix and use butter and some salt instead.
  8. Now grab your favorite book, go to a secret spot in your home and enjoy. I say secret spot because there will be these people who always say no when you ask them if they want one and that they will have just a bite. Beware that after they try it, a bite is all that will be left for you!

If you have a grill, by all means use that instead of doing this on the stove top. But cooking on that flame gives it a unique taste too.

Tools of the Trade Tuesdays: Cookright Hard Anodized Chef's Pan, 12"

Tools of the Trade Tuesdays - Introducing a new series on Tuesdays, I can’t promise every week though :)

Like most people who come to the US for graduate studies I had not cooked anything in my parents’ home. I learnt to cook more out of necessity than out of interest. As I spent more time, I have come to realize that I love it, I see it as an art form and I gain immense pleasure from feeding people and seeing their taste buds satiated. I am excited to try out new dishes, and love to exchange recipes and ideas with friends, family and strangers.

Along the way like most of us, I have developed a style and some favorites in the kitchen that I refer to here as “Tools of the Trade”. Due to these tools I look forward to cooking, cleaning and the associated prep work. They make my life easy and I am glad that I found them along the way.  The purpose of this series is to share my favorites and if you have any that you love, please write me a note to forayintomykitchen@gmail.com and I’ll feature them and try those out too.

Tools of the Trade Hard Anodized Chef’s Pan 12”

Price: $29.99 (before discounts)
Available at: Macys, Amazon etc.

I might be biased, of course I am ; but if there is one nonstick pan you should invest in go for this Tools of the Trade vessel.

The nonstick surface is really good ( I have been using mine for over a year at least once a week), the size is perfect for medium to large # of people (2-8 nos) and can be used for a variety of entrees. I have used it to make side dishes, main entrees and mutliple cuisine types. It is not super heavy, has a lid and a handle to hold when stirring, cleans easy and is very resonably priced.  Addiontally its wide base spreads heat evenly and open mouth allows vegetables to fry quickly.

The same kind of pan is available by other popular brands also like Circulon, Analon etc.  I think this size and style is perfect so you can pick your favorite there. But for me, I like many of the Tools of the Trade vessels for their price and durability. I have so far bought all of mine at Macy’s during their home sales when you can rack up pretty good deals. There is one that is ongoing and ends today :P

Images are from the web, from Macy's website and from milo.com.

Related Posts with Thumbnails