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Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Food for Thought"-Is fresh food better than canned food?

Is fresh food better than canned food?
By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, About.com
Photograph from: Wikipedia/canning
Canned Foods
© 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone
Question: Is fresh food better than canned food?Studies show that canned foods are just as nutritional, if not more so, than fresh foods
Answer: The current trend is pushing fresh, organic foods for nutrition and health, but truth be told, fresh vegetables are not necessarily more nutritious than canned. A 1997 study1 by the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition found that canned fruits and vegetables provide as much dietary fiber and vitamins as the same corresponding fresh foods, and in some cases, even more. For example, canned pumpkin provides 540% of the Recommended Daily Intake of vitamin A, while fresh pumpkin only provides only 26%.

Fresh foods begin losing vitamins as soon as they are picked, and often sit in warehouses or in transit for as long as two weeks before they find their way into the market to sit even longer waiting to be purchased.

Fresh fruits and some vegetables are harvested before they are even ripe, and depend upon time and other means to reach the ripened state. Canned foods are harvested at their peak of ripeness and normally cooked and processed from the source within hours, thus preserving more vitamins than their fresh counterparts.

Over 1,500 food products are available in a canned state, lending convenience and diversity to those with a busy lifestyle. The sodium content in commercially-canned foods has been significantly reduced, up to 40% over old canning methods.

Most canned foods are also now available in low-salt, no-salt, low-sugar, and no-sugar preparations for those with special dietary needs and/or those who want a more natural flavor.

Other artcles in support:

In opposition:

Any thoughts? Anyone??

"Everyday Cooking"-Potato and Peas Paratha

Yesterday's 'Navaratri Potluck' was a big hit.It was so nice to meet all friends together,share good food, laughter and for a change we (the adults) got to play cards while the kids played on their own..without (much) brawling! I really look forward to such potlucks..where things are kept casual..... just catch up with friends,relax, share recipes and good food,laugh..be your own self....it is soooo much fun !
The 'bread pakoda' appetizer I took along for the party....was liked by everyone.Everyone joked about the color combination in the pakodas.....to be 'very patriotic'! See... now I have a 'special' appetizer I can take along to 'Independence day' potluck ..if we have any!
Since we got back home really late after the card game (which I won... once..yeah!!) last night,waking up this morning was....ummm a bit difficult.But 'E' wakes up at his usual 7.30am time..so we had to too!
What's cooking for lunch?.....No that was not 'M' asking me about lunch(he hardly does!)...it was me asking myself...
'M' isn't interested in food as much as I am.He loves to eat good food...but I guess....he's too lazy (and yes...verryyyyy busy) to make it himself,try out different things,learn about it..etc.His way of 'helping' me in the kitchen would be to order 'pizza' for the meal! Hahahha!
So......without much hesitation..on what to cook for lunch... decided to make Aloo parathas.My friend 'V' had been asking me to put up this recipe,as she likes the parathas I make.So this one is for her...
She herself is an incredible cook....and I have hardly tasted anything she made, which was far from 'perfect'.
For the stuffing/filling:
2-3 large potatoes boiled mashed without any lumps
1/2 cup cooked green peas mashed well
1/2tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin-coriander powder
2tsp chopped mint (optional)
1tsp garlic paste
2tsp chopped cilantro
salt to taste

For dough:
1 +1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp oil
1/4tsp ajwain/owa seeds
salt to taste
water for kneading

1) Mix flour,oil,salt,ajwain seeds and knead into a soft dough.Keep aside covered.
2) Mix the mashes potatoes,peas,garlic paste,cumin,garam masala,chili powder,cumin-coriander powder,salt etc and knead well.
3) Make lemon size balls of the dough.Roll into a small circle.
4) Put a small lemon size ball(little small than the dough itself) in the center of the rolled out dough.
5) Cover the stuffing completely by folding the dough from all sides.Stuffing should not ooze out.
6) On a well floured surface, gently (without heavy pressure) roll out the paratha.Roll out thicker than chapatis.
7) Roast the parathas on hot pan, with occasional brushing with oil.
8) Roast till both sides are golden brown.
9)Serve hot with mint-coriander chutney/raita/ketchup/butter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

'Appetizers"-Bread Pakoda

So after yesterdays try on Rava dhokla.....which failed, decided to look for some easy appetizer recipe for tonight's 'Navaratri Potluck'.Found this interesting site -'www.showmethecurry.com'.
Those women are doing a great job with the recipes and they even have videos on the website.It's pretty helpful to be actually able to see the recipe being cooked.

I decided to give their 'bread pakodas' a try.

Near my college in Pune,there was this small snacks bar named 'Bipin',which served similar bread pakoras..they called it 'bread patties'. They would make a sandwich of bread with spicy aloo stuffing,dip in besan and then deep fry the whole sandwich like pakoras.It was served with this amazing sweet-sour tamarind- jaggery chutney and chopped onions on top! Ohh boy...my mouth is already watering..with those memories.It was such an amazing snack..especially after long days at lab..practicals...lectures...rainy days. Of course we had to keep our 'calorie consciousness' aside to enjoy that tasty pakora!


Here's the recipe from 'Showmethecurry':
Sandwich Bread – 3 slices
Tomato Ketchup
Cilantro or Mint Chutney
Oil – for deep frying

For the Batter:
Chickpea Flour – 1.5 cups
Water – 1/4 cup
Baking Soda – 1/8 tsp
Salt – to taste
Red Chili Powder – to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1/8 tsp
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1/4 tsp
Chaat Masala – 1/2 tsp

1. Cut the edges off the bread slices.
2. Open the bread and spread Mint/Cilantro Chutney.
3. On the other side spread the Tomato Ketchup. Keep aside.
4. In a flat bottomed platter, add in the dry ingredients for the batter. Mix well.
5. Slowly add in the water.
6. Mix well to a smooth batter, making sure there are no lumps.
7. Heat the Oil (for deep frying) on medium heat.
8. Once the Oil is hot, dip the bread sandwich in the batter.
9. Make sure to get all the sides and corners.
10.Place gently in the Oil and allow it to cook (golden).
11.Turn and cook on all sides.
12. Once done, take the Pakoda out and place on a paper towel.
13. Allow it to cool down just a little and cut into desired sizes.
14. Serve hot.
1. For a variation, dip plain bread slices in the batter and fry.
2. Allow the Oil to heat up at Medium heat…and evenly.

I made little variations:

1) Made Mint+Cilantro chutney

2) Added owa/Ajwain seeds to the batter

3) Added 1/2tbsp rice flour to the batter.

Though I liked the ease of this recipe (no aloo stuffing needed) and looks attractive after cutting,the taste is surely not as delicious as 'Bipins' bread patties. Next time,I will surely make aloo stuffing and try out 'Bipins' way..and serve with that tangy tamarind and jaggery chutney.

As for today...these bread pakoras will be the appetizer for tonight's party! Let's see what my friends at the potluck party,have to say about these?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Black bean and Corn Quesadilla

Had a rough start to the day.'M' usually leaves for work at 6.45 am on Thursdays. 'E' and me sleep till a little later.But today 'E' decides to wake up even before 'M' leaves for work.So obviously I have to wake up early and start the day....
Then.....after the daily chores,I decide to try out this 'Rava Dhokla' for a Potluck party on friday.But...the rava:soda ratio was all messed up and..so was my dhokla....all brown colored and tasting like 'soda'. Cancelled the plans of making this for the party, and started to work towards making lunch. Had planned to make 'Wheat dosas' with grated carrots..and eat it with leftover curries in the fridge..and mint-coriander chutney.But the 'unlucky' streak continued..and my mint-coriander chutney was... bitter..strong tasting....too minty.....not good :(
On top of everything..'E' was in a special mischievous mood today.He spilled one box of juice all over himself, stuck play- doh balls all over the furniture,wanted to play with scissors (!),wanted me to pick him up all the time....and muchhhhh moreeee....
Good part though...was I got a little better at photographing food!( That's what I think!).I took this picture of the 'Black Bean Corn Quesadillas' this morning,between all the craziness...and I believe it came out good! This quesadilla is based on the flavor/tastes of the 'flatbread' we had at the farmers market the other day.I tried it out and it came out really good.
1/2 cup Black beans,boiled (I used canned,drained) and seasoned with salt,chili powder,cumin coriander powder
1/2 cup corn(frozen,thawed in microwave) seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup Tomato salsa (recipe follows)
1 cup Pepper jack cheese shredded/Mexican blend chesse
4 Spinach/Corn/Wheat Tortillas
1 tbsp Cilantro chopped
Olive oil to warm and crisp the quesadillas.
For Salsa:
3-4 ripe tomatoes boiled,peeled and crushed OR 1 can of crushed tomatoes
1tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic chopped finely
1 tbsp onion chopped
1/4 tsp cumin coriander powder
1/4tsp sugar
salt,pepper,chili powder to taste
1) In a pan,heat 1 tsp oil,add crushed garlic and onions.Fry for 1 min
2) Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, chili powder,pepper,cumin-coriander powder and heat for 2-3 mins.Turn off heat.
Quesadilla assembly:
1) Spread about 1-2 tsp salsa on the tortilla.
2) Add 2 tsp black beans, 2tsp corn, 1/4 tsp cilantro,1tbsp pepper jack cheese and fold into half.( Semicircle)
3) Warm on a heated flat pan by brushing olive oil on both sides
4) Warm till the cheese melts and the tortilla gets golden brown marks.
5) Serve hot with sour cream or salsa.

1) Quesadillas can be made with various different fillings like fried Onions+Mushrooms/ fried broccoli/ green peppers/just cheese/Chicken etc
2) Cheese-I personally like the pepper jack cheese due to its spicy taste
3) Instead of corn tortillas,I have also made them with regular whole wheat 'chapatis'.(I usually make them for 'E').They taste pretty good too!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"For Little Tummies"-Squash 'Sweet Hearts'

'E' had a play date yesterday morning with my friend 'P's son and one another boy from his playgroup.Was wondering what snack I could make for them? Just 2 days ago,had asked my mom about the 'pumpkin pooris' she used to make for us.Since,I had the butternut squash left in the refrigerator,decided to make these.

My friend 'P',who by the way is a food fanatic like me, was curious about these pooris too.So we decided to make them together.The pooris came out pretty good but I wasn't so happy with appearance. We just made them into 'rounds' and fried.

In the evening though,before 'M' came back from work,decided to remake the squash pooris and this time.....give them a makeover into 'Squash Sweet Hearts'.

'M' was happy to munch on his childhood's favorite food ,'E' was excited about the 'heart' shape and I...felt ...elated to see my 'sweet hearts' happy!

1 cup Butternut squash grated
1-2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup jaggery
1/2tbsp sugar
1/4tsp Cardamom powder
1/8 tsp Nutmeg powder
1tsp oil
salt to taste
Oil to fry
1) In a pan,mix together grated squash,jaggery and sugar.Cook till all the sugar and jaggery melts. On low flame cook about 2 mins more till the mixture looks translucent.
2) Add cardamom and nutmeg and let it cool completely
3) Slowly add wheat flour,salt,oil and knead into a soft dough.Add only as much flour as the squash jaggery mixture can absorb.Can add 1 tsp milk,if dough becomes too hard.
4) Roll out the dough (thicker than chapatis) and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
5) Deep fry in oil until golden brown.

Note: I am sending this recipe to Laura Tabacca's Blog (http://thespicedlife.blogspot.com/
for her 'Family Recipes Event'.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Potato and green beans patties

'E' goes to Pre school on Monday,Wednesday and Fridays..so these are the days.... I can do elaborate cooking. For lunch made green bean subzi and chapatis.Now you will say..what's so elaborate in 'Green bean' subzi..but believe me....with 'E' hanging around in the kitchen with me...with all his toys(made into an obstacle course for me), his constant nagging, emptying the shoe-closet in the dining room,demands that I should race his 'hummer' truck once in a while, draw a car on a paper even when I am making dough for chapatis.....ufff....and what else...the list goes on.....With all this ....peeling green beans,cutting into small pearls....let me tell'ya verryyy time consuming...
So after he went to school.....I made the green beans subzi..with green beans cut like small pearls, onion,tomatoes and garlic.This is not the usual way I make it,but tried this one out today.It came out OK....not as I had expected.
In the evening,for dinner,hardly had any appetite for the same green beans and chapati.So turned them into these delicious patties with potatoes and made a complete meal by serving those like 'burgers' in whole wheat bread.Also,realised that, its a great way to 'hide' the beans into the potato,so kids cannot make out what they are eating!Though I cannot complain about my little 'E'..he likes the green bean subzi with chapati.
Here goes the recipe:
2 large boiled potatoes -mashed
1 cup green beans (cooked and seasoned with turmeric,chili powder,cumin-coriander powder and salt) or prepared leftover subzi
1 tsp garlic ginger paste
1-2 tsp mint leaves chopped( Mint is imp.It will cover the 'beany' taste of beans )
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4tsp garam masala
salt to taste
Bread crumbs to fry
Oil to fry
Tomatoes,onion slices to garnish
1) Heat 1tsp oil in a pan.Add cumin,garlic ginger paste,fry for a min.
2) Add the mashes potatoes,green beans,chilli powder,mint leaves,garam masala,salt etc and mix all together
3) Let cool.Mix well.
4) Make into patties,roll into seasoned (salt,chili powder) bread crumbs and shallow fry in oil
5) Serve with Ketchup/mint chutney and with tomato and onion slices (like cutlets)
6) Can be eaten as veggie burgers in burger buns or plain slice bread.
7) Instead of mixing the green beans,they could also be stuffed inside the potato covering and then shallow fried.

Monday, September 21, 2009

'Everyday Cooking'-Farmers Market

Ithaca Farmers Market

Had a perfect 'lazy' Sunday.Got up late...didn't cook much...except for the 'Quiche' for the around the world' segment....then went to farmers market.
Ithaca Farmers market is located on the shore of Cayuga lake. Many people come to relax and sit near the water, feed the ducks,play music ... There are boating rides, food stalls, fresh veggies and much more.Its nice to taste the variety of different foods at the stalls..there is Chinese,Vietnamese,Indian,Cambodian,Cuban....baked goods,juices,health foods...you name it..and probably find it there.
We tried these delicious brick oven baked 'flat breads' yesterday.They had it in 3 varieties...
1)southwestern(with corn,black beans and salsa), 2) herb oil and asiago cheese 3) tomato and mozzarella.We tasted the first too.
They were made by thinly rolling out dough which was also hand stretched(the shape was pretty rustic). Then were topped with one of the above combination of toppings,cheese and baked in the brick oven for 3-4 mins.They came out crispy thin, the cheese was bubbling all over the bread and incredibly tasty. Loved em'.
Can't wait to try making them at home myself!
After the delicious lunch, bought some veggies at the stalls. There were these orange banana peppers...which the lady said aren't hot.Planning to stuff those and make some pepper boats/ bhajjis.

All the others will be used in the recipes as and when need.We will see..how they come out!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Around the World in 30 Weekends" -Weekend 1-France

Dish name: Spinach and mushrooms ‘Quiche’
Though Tokyo and London has unseated Paris as the world’s culinary capital, for all practical purposes, ‘French cuisine’ is still considered as the ultimate cuisine.
What better place could I start my culinary journey of ‘Around the world in 30 weekends’ other than France?
I decided to make ‘Quiche’. In French cuisine, a quiche is a baked dish that is based on a custard made from eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust. Other ingredients such as cooked chopped meat, vegetables, or cheese are often added to the egg mixture before the quiche is baked. Quiche is generally an open pie (i.e. does not contain a pastry covering), but may include an arrangement of tomato slices or pastry off-cuts for a decorative finish. Quiche can be eaten warm but is more commonly eaten cold, making it a suitable component of the food served in a typical summer picnic.

I have baked quiches several times before and this one is my favorite vegetable combo. It is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables and eggs. ‘E’ loves to eat this quiche with ….what else???…Ketchup! Its ‘M’s favorite dish too. Whenever we go grocery shopping to Wegmans, he wants to pick one up from the eatery section. I always promise him to bake one myself .....yes..I do!

So here we go to France…

1 Ready to bake frozen pie crust
6 eggs
1 bag baby spinach finely chopped
1&1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
¾ cup pepper jack cheese
½ cup mozzarella/cheddar cheese
1tbsp whole milk/heavy cream
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1/8tsp black pepper
1tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
1) Preheat oven to 375
2) Bake the empty pie crust for about 8 mins.
3) Heat 1tsp olive oil; add the finely chopped spinach and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 mins. Add salt, black pepper. Turn down the heat. Keep the pan in slanting position to drain all the excess liquid. Gently press the vegetables and get out all the excess liquid. This can be used in soup later.
3) Whisk 6 eggs and milk. Add the cooked vegetables and half of the pepper jack and cheddar cheese.
4) Pour into the half baked pie crust, top with remaining cheese, red pepper flakes, arrange remaining mushrooms in circles and bake for about 45-50 mins till the eggs set and top turns golden brown.
5) Cut into wedges and serve (with Ketchup if you like!)