Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Note To Manufactuers

A couple of years ago I wrote this note to all food producers, promoters and marketers. I find it interesting that people still do not know that the word "natural" means nothing in the world of food production. There is no regulation on the use of the term, and everything can be spun to be considered natural. That includes preservatives, chemicals (not the same thing, and another issue I have, or would have, if I trusted the industry), artificial flavoring, and genetically modified foods.

Yep, genetically modified foods can be considered natural. And apparently, Kashi considers them to be natural. Another small health-oriented company that is now owned by Kellogg's, they have been advertising aggressively in the past few months, highlighting their healthy, natural, product.

Which apparently uses genetically modified soy in most of their products
(in all but 7 actually, which have been certified to be non-GMO), which has caused a great deal of outrage in consumers all around the country according to this USA Today article. How did they find out? Because a grocer in Rhode Island decided to stop carrying the brand, placing a note on the shelf where the cereal would normally be found that informed customers why they were no longer carrying that, and other supposedly healthy brands that contained genetically modified foods.

From Kashi's website:
What’s Kashi position on GMO?
Kashi believes people should have the ability to make well-informed choices about what they’re eating and what foods they’re sharing with their family, including choosing foods that do not contain GMOs. That’s why we’ve partnered with the Non-GMO Project to begin verifying our foods as non-GMO.
So in all fairness, Kashi is working to have all of their products verified as Non-GMO. Given that they are working hard to do the right thing, why haven't they used that in their advertising campaign? Why would they expose themselves to claims of being deliberately misleading?

Whatever the surface reason, I can only assume that the underlying reason remains the same: to sell their product. That is and always will be the bottom line for most of these companies who view the food products that they sell as commodities. Kashi may care, but Kellogg is calling the shots.

And that is and always will be why I will never, ever, buy a product that has the word natural anywhere on its packaging.

Photo taken from this most excellent post on the subject at Eat Drink Better.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Aloo Baingan (Potato and Eggplant)

Eggplants have been looking good at Treasure Island, and they are on the Clean Fifteen list of the EWG Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce so I have been buying them quite often, now that I know that the secret to cooking them is to make sure they are well cooked. Potatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list so I always buy organic potatoes when I can. Luckily, they usually have some kind of organic potatoes at Treasure Island, so I will grab a couple every now and then, just to have on hand.

When I found myself with both an eggplant and a couple of potatoes in the pantry, I decided it was time to put the two together. I neither had the ingredients nor the inclination to make Spicy Eggplant Stew with Potatoes, Mushrooms and Chickpeas, so I decided to just use that as the base for this dish.

The nigella seeds add a peppery dimension that perfectly complements the earthiness of the eggplant and potatoes. It travels well so it's ideal for workday lunches, and it is quick and easy to prepare.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp nigella seeds
2 chili de arbol peppers
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup tomato puree
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium or 3 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish

Place oil and nigella seeds in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook until the seeds start to sizzle. Add the chilies, cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the garlic ginger paste and stir for a few seconds, then the onion. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the potatos and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Continuing to stir frequently, add the eggplant and cook for another two minutes. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper and cook for another minute, until the spices have released their fragrance.

Add the water and the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, until the potatoes and eggplant are both tender, about 20 minutes. Add the cilantro, stir once, and remove from the heat.

Serve with chapatis or brown rice, garnished with more of the cilantro.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Za'atar and Lemon Garlic Sauce

Having hated cauliflower as a child and only recently having started to enjoy it, I have been using it with a vengeance these days. I still do not like it raw, but when it is roasted it has a sweet, almost nutty taste. And it is so easy to roast any vegetable, really. It is a quick, easy way to get your vegetables on the table.

I had been roasting it with coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other spices for an Indian flavor. And it has been delicious, but I am always looking to expand my flavor profiles. I still had za'atar on hand from the grilled asparagus I made a few weeks earlier, so I decided to give that a try. The lemon-garlic sauce gave it an added dimension that was the perfect match for the za'atar.

Makes 4 servings

1 head cauliflower, cut into medium size florets
1 head garlic, cloves separated and trimmed (but not peeled)
1 Tbsp za'atar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 deg. F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the cauliflower florets, garlic cloves and za'atar in a large bowl. Add the za'atar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste and stir until everything is well coated.

Spread the cauliflower and garlic onto the baking sheet and place in a middle rack in the oven. Bake until just tender, about 20 minutes (start checking after 10 minutes). Remove from the oven.

As soon as the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out from the skins into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste and mash it up into a paste. Add water to reach desired consistency.

Serve the cauliflower with a generous dollop of the lemon garlic sauce garnished with more of the za'atar.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pad Thai My Way

While this pad thai is a little one-dimensional in terms of ingredients and color, I must say that it was absolutely delicious, especially for a first-time effort, and especially when I was not feeling like making much of an effort at all. It was Sunday and I needed something for dinner and Monday's lunch and I was not feeling particularly inspired. I was coming off of two weeks of dals, curries and chapatis and I wanted something different. I actually wanted to make my new favorite fried rice, which is fast and easy, but I had not made any rice, and I have learned the hard way that you really do want to make sure the rice is at least a day old, or you end up with more of a steamed than a fried application.

So I decided that I would get some chicken thighs and just do a quick stir-fry with those. None of the vegetables at the store that day looked particularly good, so I just grabbed some green onions and decided to keep it simple.

I did not want to make rice and I had been leafing through recipes for stir fries made with noodles, so I decided to check out the noodles in the Asian section of the grocery store. Imagine how pleased I was to find brown rice noodles. There were two kinds, maifun (angel hair) and pad thai. As soon as I saw the pad thai noodles I decided it was time to take a stab at it.

I knew I did not have all of the ingredients for the "authentic" version, at least the version I have had most often at the many Thai restaurants where I have eaten it in Chicago, but I decided not to let that stop me. I used the recipes I had found in cookbooks and online more as inspiration than instruction.

I didn't soak the noodles enough in the hot water, at least I don't think I did because it took longer for them to cook once I put them in the wok than the instructions said it would so I had to add more water to keep it from drying out. I dredged the chicken in cornstarch as I usually do when I am stir-frying, but that step was unnecessary, as the starch from the rice noodles was more than enough to thicken up the sauce. I didn't even have the energy to chop the peanuts so I just threw them on whole after the dish was plated. And even just by looking at the photo you can see that it is crying out for cilantro and lime.

But even considering all of that, the result was a success, especially for a first version. I am sure I will continue to refine it, but in the meantime this recipe does the job, and it is easy enough for the novice.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp garlic chili paste
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 lb boneless thinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 bunch scallions, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces, greens and whites separated
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
cilantro, for garnish
sliced lime, for garnish
8 oz brown rice noodles

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the brown rice noodles in a large bowl of hot water and let them soak for about 10 minutes, until they are tender. Drain the noodles and set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat. When it starts to smoke, add the peanut oil and swirl it around the bottom of the wok. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds, then add the chicken. Let the chicken set at the bottom of the wok for a few seconds, and then start stirring constantly, cooking until there is no pink visible on the chicken pieces and they have started to brown.

Add the whites of the scallions and stir fry with the chicken for a minute. Reduce the heat to low. Add the sauce and the noodles, stirring until the noodles have incorporated the sauce. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the noodles are just cooked. Add the peanuts and the scallion greens.

Serve immediately. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You Thought Pink Slime Was Bad

Tom Philpott has an article in response to all the recent hullabaloo around pink slime on Mother Jones' website that presents four things that are even more gross in the commercial meat and pork industry.

This is why I stopped buying meat and poultry at the grocery store, and started buying it from a local butcher.
And why you should, too.

Just saying.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Curried Ginger Carrot Soup

I adapted this Curried Ginger Carrot Soup from the Carrot Ginger Soup I have been making for years. I originally found the recipe on a site that archived the recipes from the usenet group, a group that is now sadly defunct. That is also the site where I found the sweet and sour cabbage soup recipe that I love so much.

The first time I made the recipe I added the tablespoons each of curry powder and cardamom for which it called. The result was almost inedible, the spices were so strong. I reduced the amounts to a teaspoon of each and the results were much more palatable, and I made it frequently. I believe this was the first recipe that I made with my stick blender (which, again, I feel the need to mention HOW MUCH I LOVE), which made it all that much easier to make.

But over the years it has fallen by the wayside, and even though I almost always have carrots on hand I haven't made it in a few years. I have thought about it now and then, but something else always catches my attention and I have kept it just hovering there in the background, knowing that it is there if I need it.

I think one of the other reasons I haven't made it more often is because of that extra step of having to mince both the garlic and the ginger. My recent discovery of garlic ginger paste has taken care of that problem for me, though, so that might be why I finally decided to make this soup again.

In the intervening years between the last time I made this and now, my knowledge of Indian cooking has grown, and so has my collection of spices. Instead of just adding just curry powder and cardamom, I decided to create my own blend of spices. And, since I had some on hand, I threw in a little bit of cream at the end. What I love about cream is that it only takes a little bit to make a big difference in the overall taste and texture. Be careful, though, because too much can overpower the more delicate flavor of the carrots.

This version of the soup turned out to be quite delicious. It would make an excellent starter, or a satisfying meal in itself with some pita bread and a nice big salad.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 8 servings

1 lb frozen carrots --OR-- 4 cups cooked sliced carrots
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp tandoori or garam masala
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 Tbsp toasted cumin seeds, for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic ginger paste and let sit for a few seconds, then stir it around for a few more seconds. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the
spices and cook until fragrant but not burned, about 1 minute. Add the carrots and stir until they are coated with the spices. Add 1 cup of the broth, or enough to cover the carrots. Cover, lower the heat and
simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Using a stick blender or a regular blender, puree the soup. If using a regular blender, return the soup to the pot. Put the pot over low heat and add the rest of the stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper
and heat through. Remove from the heat and add the cream. Top with cumin seeds and serve.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tacu Tacu (Peruvian Rice and Lentils)

I am not sure why I marked this recipe for Peruvian Rice and Lentils from the May 2009 issue of Gourmet (RIP) magazine. I am even less sure why I decided to make it a few weeks ago. What I am sure of is how glad I am that I did both of those things.

The ingredients are simple: rice, lentils, onion, garlic and aji amarillo paste. The aji amarillo (yellow pepper) is the defining ingredient in Peruvian cooking, according to many sources I ran across in my search for more information. I had only recently started seeing references to it when I first saw the recipe, so I was curious about it. I think that is probably the main reason that I decided to give it a try.

It took me a while to find it. I went to my usual shops that carry Latin American ingredients, but had no luck I was seriously considering just using jalapenos or serranos, but the main reason I had decided to make tacu tacu was because I was curious about the aji amarillo paste. I finally found it at La Unica on my last trip down to Devon Avenue to get atta flour. I was finally ready to get started.

This modest little dish turned out to be delicious! I substituted brown rice for the regular rice and just let it cook for 40 minutes instead of 20 and it came out perfectly done. I think I might start cooking my brown rice this way all the time. That little bit of garlic really enhances the flavor.

I already knew that rice and lentils go well together, but adding the aji amarillo and cooking it until it is crispy and browned on the surface takes it over the edge. There is a unique mellow smokiness to it that I can only assume comes from the aji amarillo. I don't know if it would work with a different kind of pepper, and I don't plan to try. I have already made this twice, and it is going into my regular rotation.

The typical way to eat tacu tacu is to top it with a breaded steak and/or a fried egg. It was delicious by itself (and a complete protein with the combined rice and lentils), but it is amazingly good with a fried egg on top of it.

According to the recipe I used, the rice and lentil mixture is fried all together in a large skillet and turned at 3-minute intervals to disperse the crispy browned bits throughout. The problem with that for me was that the leftovers lost their crunch. So the next time, I just cooked enough for one serving, pushing the lentils and rice together into a patty shape while I left it sit for about 3 minutes.

After the five minutes, I turned everything. Since it doesn't really hold together as a patty, I simply flipped it in pieces with a spatula, and then pushed it back into the shape of a patty. I'm not sure why I felt the need to keep it patty-shaped, but I liked the way it looked, and I think it gave me more confidence that the pieces against the pan were getting crispy. I repeated this process a few times, to make sure there were plenty of browned bits all the way through the mixture.

Once there were enough crispy browned bits I put the mixture on a plate, and once again pushed everything together into the shape of a patty that was just larger than the egg. I made sure not to over-fry the egg, so the whites were still somewhat soft and the yolk was runny enough to seep into the rice and lentils. The end result is a crispy, crunchy, velvety, spicy blend that has a flavor all its own. The mixture keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. It is the perfect dish to make for weekend brunch, and then you can just fry up a patty and top it with the egg for a quick weeknight dinner.

There are other recipes I plan to try now that I have this jar of aji amarillo paste (such as Papas a la Huancaina, another definitive Peruvian dish). But it is worth seeking out the paste just for this dish alone, I guarantee it.

Home Cookin Chapter: Pasta and Grains

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup dried brown lentils
7-1/4 cups water, divided
2 tsp finely chopped garlic, divided
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided, plus oil for frying
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp bottled aji amarillo paste

Sort and rinse the lentils. Combine with 5 cups of water in a three-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Cook 1 teaspoon of garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a three-quart saucepan for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the rice and continue to stir and cook for another few minutes, until the rice just begins to snap and pop. Add the remaining 2-1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir to loosen and fluff the rice, then add it to the lentils.

In a large skillet, saute the onion over medium-high heat in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the garlic and continue to saute until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes in all. Stir in the aji amarillo paste and, continuing to stir, cook for another minute. Add the onion/garlic/chili mixture to the lentils and rice.

Heat enough oil to cover the surface of a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add about half a cup of the lentil onion mixture and mold it into a large patty by scraping the edges together with a metal spatula. Let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes, being careful not to let it burn.

Although the mixture will hold the shape of the patty while it is cooking, it will not stay together, so turn it in smaller batches with the metal spatula to get the crispy edges on top. Bring it all together into a patty shape and let it cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the bottom is as crusty as the top, again being careful not to burn it. Repeat at least two more times, being careful not to burn it, but making sure the patty is full of the browned, crispy bits.

Place the mixture on a plate, again using the spatula to bring the edges together into a patty shape.

Top with a fried egg. Enjoy.

*The rice, lentil and onion mixture can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to get frying.

adapted from Gourmet Magazine (RIP), May 2009

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sweet and Sour Navy Bean and Bacon Cabbage Soup

Here's a little bit of genius, if I do say so myself. I had a pound of dried navy beans that I was looking to put to good use. I am working to come up with a good baked bean recipe, but I did not want to go that route. What to do?

These days I always have a few quarter-pound packets of bacon ends in the freezer, so I thought about making a quick version of my Navy Bean and Bacon Soup. I had all of the ingredients so I set about cooking the beans.

I always cook a pound of beans and then use half, freezing the rest. That way I get double duty out of them. But my freezer is, as usual, full to capacity and I started to think about what I might be able to take out in order to make more room for the beans.

And I remembered some Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup that I made with such a huge (cheap) head of cabbage that I had enough to freeze half and still worry about how I was going to eat the rest before it went bad. That was taking up a lot of room in the freezer, and I don't like to leave it in there too long, as the cabbage does get a little grainy when frozen. But that seemed a little too similar to the Navy Bean and Bacon Soup for me to have both on hand.

And that's when genius struck. I recently started putting some kind of brats or sausage in the cabbage soup, but I didn't have any on hand and didn't feel like trekking down to the Apple Market to get some, so I had made a vegetarian version. What would happen if, instead of plain old tomatoes, I used the S&SC soup as the base for my new soup?

The result was spectacular. The cabbage soup adds a dimension of tartness that elevates the navy bean soup to a new depth of flavor, and the navy beans really thicken the cabbage soup. It would work just as well with brats or sausage, I think. In a world that was already blessed with two delicious soups, bringing them together has created a third variation that is truly divine.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


Makes 6 to 8 servings

1/4 lb bacon ends, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 cups cooked navy beans, with or without liquid*
1 quart sweet and sour cabbage soup
1 cup pureed tomatoes

Cook bacon in heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat until it is well browned. Remove all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the grease. Add the beans, cabbage soup, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the flavors have come together.

Season to taste, keeping the saltiness of the bacon in mind.

*adjust amount of sweet and sour cabbage soup to achieve desired consistency.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Monday, April 09, 2012

Curried Egg and Chapati Tacos

Here's a lovely way to use up any leftover chapati dough you have lying around over the weekend. This was a totally spur-of-the moment dish. It was Saturday morning, I had chapatis, and I had eggs. It took just a quick moment to put it all together.

This doesn't even require a recipe. I simply heated up about a teaspoon of grapeseed oil over medium heat in a small non-stick skillet, then added about a half teaspoon total of black mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds started popping I stirred in a heaping teaspoon of sweet curry powder. After stirring for about thirty seconds I poured in 2 well-beaten eggs (seasoned with salt and pepper, of course), scrambled them (keeping them on the soft side - that's how I like them), and stuffed the mixture into the chapatis. Cilantro would have been the perfect garnish/accompaniment, but parsley was what I had so parsley was what I used. It worked.

This was good enough that it would be worth making the chapatis specifically for the purpose. I plan to do just that the next time I need a quick, tasty breakfast. And they travel well if you need to take them on the go.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Saag Paneer / Paalak Paneer

Saag paneer is one of the first Indian dishes with which I felt comfortable enough to order in an Indian restaurant and be fairly confident of what it was I would be receiving. Smooth, creamy spinach with cubes of cheese that tasted like a cross between mozzarella and ricotta cheese (although at the time I was not even familiar with ricotta - I would have said cottage cheese, but with a drier consistency). We always went there for dinner, so I had not yet had the opportunity to sample a range of dishes, so once I found a dish I liked, it became the dish I always ordered.

It was not a bad choice. Equally tasty with either basmati rice or naan, it was healthy, filling, and so creamy smooth that it slid down my throat in the most luxurious way.

Now that I am comfortable making chapatis, I decided it was time to tackle paneer. I have seen recipes for making your own, and I have seen it made on every Indian cooking show, but I thought maybe I should buy it already made the first time I am going to use it, so I have some idea of how it is supposed to behave. I found a package on my last trip down to Devon Avenue. It looked like a cross between cream cheese and tofu, but it was much more sturdy and, easy to manage.

I ran into some confusion when I was looking for a recipe for saag paneer. I could not find anything in any of the Indian cookbooks on my shelf. I finally found a recipe for paalak paneer in The Everything Indian Cookbook that called for spinach and paneer, so I decided to try that. I thought maybe the difference in the names was a regional thing. After rooting around online, I have learned that the difference between saag paneer and paalak paneer seems to either lie within the consistency of the dish, or what kind of greens are being used. I am only guessing here, and basing this on bits I found here and there online, but as far as I can tell saag is a dish made of spinach or other greens, while paalak means a dish made of spinach only, so if you made mustard greens and paneer you would call it saag paneer, not paalak paneer. On the other hand, I have also read that paalak paneer has a thinner consistency than saag paneer and that is the difference between the two dishes. If there is anyone out there who can help clarify this for me, I would be most grateful.

So I decided to use the recipe for paalak paneer in the Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide. I cubed and fried the paneer according to the instructions (although I used only enough oil to coat the bottom of my cast iron skillet). The rest of the recipe was straightforward enough that in a short time I was looking at that beautiful bowl of deliciousness you see up at the top of this post. It was delicious with homemade chapatis, but it would be equally good with rice.

The only thing I will do differently the next time I make it is that I will not remove the seeds from the serrano peppers. There was no heat at all. They did add to the flavor, but it could have used some of the heat. It was one of those situations where I knew better, but followed the directions in the recipe anyway. I will leave the seeds the next time I make this, which will be soon.
Home Cookin Chapter: Ingredients

Makes 4 servings

1 cup fried paneer*
2 Tbsp oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and minced
2-1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup tomato puree
2 serrano chilies, seeded and minced
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
Salt to taste
1 10-oz package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup water, at room temperature
1 Tbsp heavy cream, for garnish

In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil on medium. Add the onion and fry, stirring continuously until the onions are a golden brown in color, about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes.

Quickly add the green chlies, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, corinader, cayenne and salt; saute for 30 seconds.

Add the spinach and fry for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and cook, uncovered, on low heat for about 20 minutes. If the mixture starts to dry out, add more water. Cook until the spinach
is soft.

Add the paneer to the spinach mixture; saute, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Garnish with the heavy cream and serve hot.

adapted from the Everything Indian Cookbook, by Monica Bhide (Adams Media, 2004)

* In a deep skillet heat enough oil to cover the bottom over medium heat. Fry the paneer, a few pieces at a time, until golden brown on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Monday, April 02, 2012

Tomato Garlic Sauce with (Homemade) Pasta

There's nothing I like better than a rich, thick, hearty pasta sauce that has been simmering over the stove for hours (if not days), but sometimes I just don't have the time and I need something just as delicious that takes mere minutes to create. Last weekend was one of those times.

I have been on an Indian kick for the past few weeks, which is all good, as it is a delicious and quite healthy cuisine. But it was time for a break and I decided to make pasta over the weekend.
I have refined my technique since I first started making it. Mostly, it's just been little changes here and there, but the latest change is worth mentioning. I have added a bit of semolina flour to the mix, and I am pleased with the results. It gives the dough a little more chew. Instead of using 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, I am using 1 to 1-1/4 cups of AP flour and 1/4 to 1/2 cup semolina flour. I may keep going, adding more semolina in small increments to see what kind of difference it makes. I am also curious to see what it would be like to make an all-semolina pasta. I will keep you posted.

For the sauce, I used what has become my basic easy tomato garlic sauce. I included it in this post for my eggplant casserole, but I think it deserves a post all its own. It's an amazingly easy to make, delicious pasta topping, and it works in casseroles and on pizza as well. You don't have to make your own pasta to enjoy this sauce. And it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, so it is perfect for those nights when you need something quick and easy that tastes anything but, and I always have the ingredients on hand. You can, too.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 2-1/2 to 3 cups

2 Tbsp olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 26-oz box Pomi chopped tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and basil.

Break the tomatoes down while bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to the desired consistency.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (
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