Sunday, September 29, 2019

Cauliflower Ceviche Tostadas

We are addicted to these tostadas! You wouldn't think that a vegetable on crisp corn tortillas would induce excitement, so believe me when I say you will make this over and over again. Geets' friend Marisela makes it for us one night. We sit down to a traditional Mexican home cooked meal. Corn and poblano soup, followed by these outstanding tostadas. Cochinita pibil sends us over the edge with sauteed green chiles and onions, ending with an orange bundt cake! The meal is outstanding, a food memory I will cherish, along with the love she dished out.   

The recipe comes to me from Geets, who obtains it from Marisela. Blanched cauliflower florets are marinated in Clamato, a tomato and clam based juice. Red onion, radish, cilantro, green chiles, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce along with seasonings also give the marinade a zesty flavor. If you cannot find Clamato, use V-8 or regular tomato juice. The recipe didn't call for it, but I add a heaped teaspoon of tajin, a chile and lime powder. Regular chile powder could be substituted. 

Marinate the ceviche for few hours, but it tastes best if it is made the day before. Buy the tostadas. It is way too cumbersome to fry them. It helps that the stores have numerous good products. Slather some mayo on the tostada. Cover the mayo with cauliflower using a slotted spoon to drain the liquid. Garnish with chopped avocado and more cilantro. Get ready for the crunch!

Adapted from Marisela De La Parra and Geeta Rodrigues
Serves 6-8

1 small Cauliflower
1 small red Onion, chopped finely
6 red Radishes, thinly sliced
1 green Chile or Jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Lime Juice
1 cup Clamato (See Notes)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
3 tablespoons Cilantro, minced finely
1 teaspoon Tajin or Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Ground Black Pepper
2-4 Avocados

Chop cauliflower into small bite size florets. 

Heat water till boiling. Season with salt.

Drop cauliflower into boiling water and cook till firm, about 2 or 3 minutes. 

Fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. 

Drain cauliflower and add to cold water to stop cooking.

Place red onion, radishes, green chile, cilantro, tajin, Clamato, Worcestershire sauce and lime juice in a glass bowl. 

Add drained cauliflower to Clamato juice. 

Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. 

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight for best flavor. The cauliflower takes on a pinkish hue after marination.

Prepare tostadas assembly style. 

Keep mayo and cilantro leaves handy.

Cut avocado into small cubes. 

Lay a few tostadas on a baking sheet or clean countertop. The number depends on how much space you have.

Start by smearing tostadas with a tablespoon of mayo.

Use a slotted spoon to drain heaping portions of cauliflower. Cover the mayo with drained cauliflower. Draining the cauliflower allows the liquid to stay in the bowl, not on the tostada.

Scatter avocado and cilantro over the cauliflower.

Eat them right away! 


Clamato is my choice, If you cannot find it, use V-8 or an tomato juice.

Tajin is Mexican seasoning, a mix of chile powder and dried lime zest. 

Tostadas are available in practically every grocery store in the US. I'm not sure what an adequate substitute would be.  

The ceviche keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.

Friends think the pale pink florets are shrimp! Corrected, they eat with gusto! I did say they are addictive! Thank you Marisela and Geets for this veggie wonder!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Spicy Baby Back Ribs

Ottolenghi continues to astonish me with his varied repertoire. These ribs have me drooling as I read the recipe. The next thing I'm at the store with a rack of ribs in my basket! 

The sauce comes together with mundane contents of my kitchen, namely ginger, green chiles, cilantro, brown sugar, tomato paste, coriander seeds and of all the contradictory ingredients, an Indian style mango pickle! Ah yes, the recipe calls for pomegranate juice but I use pomegranate molasses instead. 

A covered slow braise is followed by a high heat open roast. The ribs becomes fork tender as the luscious sauce thickens. The ribs release a lot of fat. I let the sauce sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight and then spoon off the fat layer.  Eager appetites and fingers await!

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4-6

2 pounds Baby Back Pork Spare Ribs

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 heaped tablespoons Ginger, finely chopped
1 Green Chile, finely minced
3 tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
1/2 cup Cilantro leaves
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Tomato paste
3 tablespoons hot Mango Pickle
2 teaspoons Coriander Seeds, roughly crushed
1 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Ground Black Pepper

Trim and cut spare ribs into single portions. Wash and pat dry. Place ribs in a glass baking dish.

Heat oven to 300F/150C.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Saute ginger and chile in hot oil till fragrant.

Add pomegranate molasses to ginger and saute for 20 seconds.

Add cilantro, brown sugar, tomato paste, mango pickle and coriander seeds to saucepan. Stir well.

Add water and bring sauce to a simmer. Cook sauce for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season ribs with salt and pepper.

Pour sauce over ribs. 

Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours. 

Raise oven temperature to 375F/190C.

Uncover the ribs and bake for 30 minutes. 

Take them out of the oven and enjoy! 

These ribs are literally and ridiculously finger licking good!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fig, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Tartine

An abundance of figs leaves me reeling. The table is laden with ripe Brown Turkeys spitting at their seams. It is a daily game I play with the squirrel to see who gets the ripe fig. I believe I am the early bird in most cases. This year my trees have been overly bountiful with dozens of fruit, so I regrettably share this bounty with squirrels and starlings.

The tartine accompanies the soup. Grilled sourdough is smeared with softened goat cheese. Quartered figs nestle on the cheese. Thinly sliced prosciutto is randomly scattered over the figs. Season with sea salt and black pepper. And onto the plate they go.

Serves 1 

1 large slice of Sourdough Bread
Goat Cheese at room temperature
4-5 Figs
1 Prosciutto slice
Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Toast the sourdough slice. 

Slice the toast into fingers.

Smear the fingers with goat cheese.

Cut figs into halves or quarters.

Arrange figs on cheese.

Slice prosciutto thinly and scatter over the figs. 

Season with salt and pepper. 

Take small bites of big flavor!

How many ways can you savor figs? Only time will tell.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Strawberry Buckwheat Bars

I make this to appease my sweet tooth and oh boy, that's just what it does. Sometimes you come across a recipe that leaps out and grabs you as you peruse through cookbooks, or in my case the Ipad. I've saved this Epicurious gem as I wait for strawberry season. It is here, shelves burgeoning with bright red berries. Nothing to stop me now.

All purpose flour and buckwheat flour, brown and white sugars, baking powder and salt are whisked. Butter is cut in till the mix looks grainy. An egg binds them all together. The mix looks like a crumb topping at this point, clumping together if squeezed with your fingers.

The filling comprises of chopped fresh strawberries, preserves, cornstarch and lemon juice, heated for a few minutes till you have a jam-like consistency.

Half the crumb dough is pressed into a baking pan. The strawberry sauce is poured over it evenly. The remaining dough is crumbled over the preserves. Baked and cooled, I cut small squares and indulge. They are divine!

By Susan Spungen on Epicurious
Makes 20-24

2 1/4 cup all purpose Flour

3/4 cup Buckwheat Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup light Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 cup or 2 sticks cold Butter
1 Egg


3 cups hulled and quartered Strawberries
12 oz Strawberry Preserves
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

Place flours, sugars, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.

Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour. Pulse 10-15 times till mix is grainy and  resembles a crumb topping.

Break and egg in a bowl and whisk it. Add whisked egg to flour and pulse till egg is mixed in. Look for a grainy, crumbly texture.

Scrape flour mix into a bowl and refrigerate while you make the filling. 

Place strawberries, preserves, cornstarch and lemon juice in a small saucepan. 

Stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes till cornstarch is dissolves and the mix looks glossy.

Heat oven to 375F.

Line a 13x9 baking dish with parchment paper leaving an inch overhang on the long sides. Place a few dabs of butter in the bottom of the dish so the parchment stays firm.

Press half the flour mix into the pan. Use a flat spatula to press the mix to an even thickness. 

Pour the strawberry sauce evenly over the dough. 

Sprinkle the remaining flour mix over the strawberries so fruit is adequately covered. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes till top is golden and fruit is bubbling.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Lift the parchment paper onto a cutting board or flat surface. 

Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into squares. 

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

These bars are uniquely different. Savory and sweet, they satisfy a raft of senses. Thank you Susan Spungen for this terrific recipe!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Chicken Shashlik Kebabs

A trip to Russia gives me an appetite for their kebabs. I resource a not-so-traditional chef who cooks with a Russian slant, Bonnie Morales. Her recipes are a little to the left of the Russian kitchen, if that could be a thing! She tweaks her grandmother's heritage into novel items. For me shashlik conjures food memories of the Nineteen Seventies. A move to New Delhi compels us stay at the Ashoka Hotel. Dinner at the tandoor restaurant with my Dad, where the succulent chicken shashlik comes to the table with a lime green sauce. The memory of those dinners and that tasty skewer still resounds. I have attempted several recreations. This one comes closest.

Marinate chicken thighs in yogurt, a slew of herbs and garlic. The longer you marinate the better the chicken will taste. Overnight is best. Heat your choice of grill. Mine is an easy-peasy gas grill. I have this skewer set  that lets the kebabs sit on the grill without touching the grates. It is genius!  Thighs cook fast. Before we know it the skewers are plated and we dig in.

Adapted from  Kachka by Bonnie Morales
Serves 4

2 pounds boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
1 cup low fat Yogurt
1 small white Onion
1/2 cup Parsley
1/2 cup Mint leaves
1/2 cup Cilantro
1 cup Dill
2-3 Garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1 large red Onion
Lime wedges

Clean and cut chicken into two inch pieces. Rinse well and pat dry. Place in a nonreactive bowl.

Pour yogurt over chicken.

Chop parsley, mint, cilantro and dill roughly. Save a little dill fronds for garnishing.

Chop white onion and garlic cloves finely. 

Add herbs, onion, garlic , salt and pepper to chicken.  Stir well so chicken is coated. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight for best results.

Allow chicken to come to room temperature before you grill. 

Start your grill of choice. 

Chop the red onion into 2 inch pieces.

Assemble skewers by starting with a red onion piece followed by chicken. I usually skewer 6-7 pieces of chicken on each rod.

Spray skewers lightly with an oil spray.

Grill on medium heat for 10-12 minutes on one side. Rotate skewers and cook for another 8-10 minutes. 

Serve chicken with wedges of lime and dill fronds.

Skewers are polished off with a glass of crisp chenin blanc. The summer sun adds to the alfresco element. Tandoor restaurant memories fade as we make new ones.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sprouted Moong Bean and Jackfruit Subji

Ganesh Puja comes around and once again I am far from home, comfortably ensconced  in Geets' home in Indiana. But that doesn't stop me from cooking the requisite thali. One is to be served on Ganesh Puja night and the second to a bunch of her friends the next day. Both thalis will be essentially the same, with just a few changes. Being in Geets kitchen is a pleasure, one that is doubled as she stands by my side. We cut and chop together as we sing along to golden oldies from Bollywood musicals.

 Planning the thali is an exercise we relish. The round starts with khaman kakdi, a cucumber salad with peanuts. A roasted eggplant bhareet follows. Cauliflower with peas and the sprouted moong with jackfruit follow. We use peppers from her garden. Corn from the farmers market. Cauliflower sambare and potato tomato curry are added. We fry ripe plantain fritter,or umber. Geets fries papad, her favorite fry. Shrikhand is made with hung yogurt and saffron. Mango ice cream sits in the freezer. The vegetarian meal seems excessive, but is easy to prep and prepare. 

I soak beans in water overnight. Drained beans are nestled in damp muslin cloth. Covered they are left in warm place for twenty four hours at least. I find Geets' garage the best spot. A day later the beans have long white sprouts. Warmth is the key to sprouting beans. It might take longer depending on how warm your house or the climate is. I usually sprout beans easily in summer, Winter is a matter of coaxing the beans over a longer period. Those of us who can buy sprouted beans are just plain lucky!

The brahmni or goda masala added is special to Maharashtrian cooking.You could find it in Indian grocery stores. Mine is an family recipe made by a masalawalla in Bombay.  

We serve the meal in an item I have never seen before...a disposable thali! And what a delight it turns out to be. It keeps all the items separate. From a distance it even looks like silver! Innovation Indian style!

Serves 10

3-4 cups green sprouted Moong Beans OR 1 1/2 cups dried Moong Beans
1 can green Jackfruit
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
Pinch of Asafoetida or Hing
1/4 teaspoon Mustard seeds
5 Curry Leaves
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Chile Powder (more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon Brahmni Masala or Garam Masala
2 teaspoons grated Jaggery
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
fresh Cilantro

If you are using dried moong beans, start the subji two days ahead of serving day. The beans need an overnight soak in water followed by a couple of warm days to sprout. 

Wash moong beans well and cover upto two inches with cold water. Let beans soak overnight. Drain the beans. Place a large muslin cloth over a colander or bowl, allowing the ends to hang over the edges. Spoon beans onto muslin. Dampen beans and cloth with a little water. Cover with the cloth and place the bowl in a dark, warm place overnight. Open the cloth and check the beans. If it is warm, the sprouts should've formed. If not return the covered bowl to the requisite place and wait a few more hours or more.  

Rinse sprouts. If you are not using the sprouts immediately, cover them with water. Drain before using.

Open the can of jackfruit and rinse pieces well. Chop into 1 inch chunks. 

Heat oil in skillet.

Add hing.

Splutter mustard seeds in hot oil.

Drop curry leaves into oil. Be careful. They will splatter oil.

Add sprouts and jackfruit to skillet. Stir to mix.

Add turmeric, chile powder, brahmni or garam masala, salt and jaggery to beans. Saute for a few minutes till masalas coat the vegetables. 

Add enough water to barely cover the beans. Bring to boil and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes. 

Scatter fresh cilantro over beans and serve. 

The thalis are appreciated and relished by all. The new age disposable is big hit! It feels good to see them enjoy this traditional meal.