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Friday, November 27, 2009

"Fusion Cuisine"- "Tandoori Spiced" Baked Salmon Fish Sticks with Parmesan Crust

What I love about learning to cook and trying out different cuisines is....you not only learn to appreciate different tastes and 'taste combinations' but also get a chance to explore various cooking techniques and methods. And the fun part is...you can pull together all the tastes you like from different cuisines and put together a whole new cuisine i.e Fusion Cuisine which 'wows' your taste buds!
Over the course of this blog..and my overall 'cooking life' I have learnt various techniques and cooking methods from different cuisines and wondered how I can use to make my favorite'dishes' better OR easier OR Tastier OR Healthier??
Here are a few examples-
I tried a 'pastry' like outer crust to make Vegetable Samosa.This uses ice cold butter and water to make a crispy/flaky crust.
I learned to make the famous Indian dessert Rasmalai from Ricotta cheese.
I used 'Tostitos' to make 'Sev poori' like 'Tostitos Chaat'. All these and many more....were fun to cook ,eat and share.
Here is one such 'fusion' recipe of Indian and Italian flavors. I used spice rub like 'tandoori chicken' on fresh Salmon sticks and crusted them with Parmesan-bread crumb mixture. They came out SUPER delicious! The salmon was tender on the inside spiced with indian spices and the outer crust was crispy because of the breading technique. I also made a 'tangy-Spicy-Garlicky'dip with mayonnaise to go along with the sticks.
1 medium sized fresh Atlantic Salmon fillet(ask for 'center 'cut salmon and de-skinned)
1/2tsp Tandoori masala/ Kitchen king masala/ any punjabi flavor masala
1/2tsp Cumin-coriander powder
1/2tsp Chili powder
1/4tsp turmeric
1/2tsp garlic paste
1/4tsp lemon juice
olive oil

For breading-
1/2cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup Italian herbed bread crumbs
1/2 cup Grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Black pepper
chili powder
1)Mix little salt and chili powder in the all purpose flour
2) Beat the egg and add salt and pepper
3) Mix together the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Create an assembly line of all these ingredients.The sticks will be dipped in all the three ,one after the other

For the Dip:

1/4 cup low fat Mayonnaise
1/4tsp Chili powder
1/4tsp garlic paste
1/4tsp chopped Cilantro
Mix all the above together and serve with the fish sticks.

1) Cut the de-skinned salmon into thick 'sticks'. Not too thin otherwise they won't 'hold' nicely.
2) Mix together 1tsp olive oil,tandoori spice, cumin-corainder powder, turmeric,chili powder, lemon juice, garlic paste, salt etc .Rub gently on the fish sticks. Leave in the refrigerator for 1-2 hrs.
3) Pre heat the oven to 425F
5) Dip the spiced sticks in all pupose flour , then the beaten egg and then in the Bread crumb-Parmesan mixture. This creates an nice crust on top of the sticks.
Place on non stick baking tray( or tray sprayed with cooking spray)
6)  Drizzle the sticks with olive oil lightly.
7) Bake in the oven at 425F for 20-25 mins till golden brown.
8) serve warm with the above Spicy-garlicky Mayonnaise dip!

Enjoy the fusion of Italian and Indian flavors in these tender and flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside fish sticks! Crunnnnch crunnnnch.....hmmmm delicious!

1) Use Chicken tenders instead of Salmon to make Chicken fingers.
2) Mozarella cheese sticks can also be made in the same way!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- 'Rustic' Italian Vegetable Soup

What do you do when you feel under the weather? Actually the weather in Ithaca is most days 'gloomy'.Ithaca is located in a valley. 6 months we have winter and heavy snow...then the other 6 months summer has many rainy days and no sun at all! It is obvious many a times I feel under the weather....crave some warm foods to heat up the body and soothe the mind. Soups work like magic in these situations! I love sipping on piping hot soups on such 'gloomy' days.I love all kinds of soups...but more than 'Cream of anything' like Cream of Spinach, Cream of broccoli....I love 'broth' like soups....my speciality tomato soup, Sweet Corn soup, and this Italian vegetable soup. They are both nutritious and flavorfull....so tempting! You immediately feel the warmth and the release of 'serotonins' to cheer you up!
This particular 'Italian Vegetable Soup' is pretty rustic looking....all the components maintain their individuality but yet all the flavors marry in a delicious way.It is similar to "Italian Wedding' soup...but without any meat.
1/4 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup frozen/chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/4cup cooked black beans/ any cooked beans of your choice
1/2tsp garlic finely chopped
1/4tsp black pepper
1/2tsp Italian seasoning( Thyme,Rosemary,Basil,Parsley etc)
1/2tsp Fresh/ dried Basil
1/2 cup Crushed tomatoes
1/2tsp chili powder
1/2tsp sugar
Olive oil

For Toppings:
Olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Herb-Garlic Croutons

1) Heat 1 tsp olive oil,add the crushed garlic and other veggies.Saute for 2-3 mins till the veggies start wilting.
2) Add the crushed tomatoes and saute for another 3-4 mins.
3) Add 4 cups water to the pan. Add all the herbs and spices. Add salt.
4) Simmer till all the veggies cook tender.
5) To serve, place soup in soup bowl, top with drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of parmesan cheese and few herb-garlic croutons.
6) Sip hot and feel fresh and energetic right away!


I am sending this recipe for the 'Monthly Mingle -Soups' event by -

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Whole wheat Veggie+Paneer Frankies/Wraps

'A' mentioned yesterday about the chicken frankies she made for sunday night dinner....and here I was drooling with the thought...and couldn't wait to bite into one!
When me and my sister were in school,our parents would take us to 'Pune Camp' during Christmas to see the festivities.It is here that we had our first 'frankie'. It was a flour tortilla with egg coating wrapped around spicy chicken and onion....it was just yummmm! They serve it sizzling hot along with raw onions.Just mouthwatering and a 'all -in -one' meal too!
There are many types of frankies -either with chicken/meat filling or veggie or paneer filling.It is a very famous street food in 'Mumbai'.
Since then, my mom would always make it for us at home....and she had added her 'own touch' to it. Here is how she makes veggie frankies.She uses mixed veggies to make the filling. The chapati/tortilla is smeared with tangy-spicy-sweet mint chutney.The roll is warmed up on a flat pan/tava with a little butter on top!

For the Chapatis/Tortillas/Wrap
They are usually made with 'All purpose flour' and little whole wheat flour added to it.But my mom and hence me.... prefer to use the 'whole wheat flour'.
1 cup Whole wheat flour (if you want all pupose flour add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour+1/2 cup all purpose flour)
2tsp oil
Mix flour,oil , salt and knead into a soft dough with water.
Roll out the dough into circle thin chapatis/tortillas.Roast lightly on hot flat pan/tava.The chapati will finish roasting after the filling is filled.

For the filling:
1/4 cup finely chopped cabbage
1/4 cup finely chopped cauliflower
1/4cup finely chopped carrots
1tbsp finely chopped capsicum/green pepper
1tbsp corn kernels
1 boiled mashed potato
1/4 cup chopped paneer
1 onion finely chopped
1 onion sliced ( to garnish)
1/2tsp Ginger garlic paste
1/2tsp chili powder
1/4tsp garam masala
1/8tsp Chaat masala
Heat oil in a skillet.Add the ginger garlic paste,onion.Fry for 2 mins.Add the rest of the veggies,paneer and fry again till the veggies are cooked through.
Add the salt, chili powder, garam masala,chat masala etc and mix.

For Mint chutney:
1/4 cup mint paste
1/8cup jaggery
1/2tsp tamarind extract
1/4tsp chili powder
1/4tsp cumin-corainder powder
1/4tsp crushed garlic
Mix everything together and make into a smooth paste.The chutney should be 'Tangy-spicy-sweet'.

Assembly of the frankie:
You can brush the chapatis with beaten egg mixture to give a 'egg coating'. I did not use egg for this one and kept it 'vegetarian'.
1) Take 1 chapati, apply spoonfull of mint chutney on all sides.
2) Add 2-3 spoons of the above filling.Place few slices of raw onions on top.
3) Roll into 'cigar' shape by tucking the ends as you roll.The roll will be nice and tight and the filling will not drop out.
4) On a flat pan,heat a dab of butter/oil. Place the frankie roll on it (the seam side down) Roast till golden brown.Carefully turn on the other side and roast again
5) Serve hot with Ketchup/ hot and sweet sauce/ raw onion slices/ green pepper slices etc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Sweet Treats"- Ricotta Cheese 'Rasmalai' with Saffron/ Sweet Ricotta cheese dumplings in sweetened milk

This weekend was pretty good.Saturday took 'E' for a Puppet show in a near by school and then in the evening, our good friends 'M' and 'V'called and said they would stop by to meet us in the evening. Now we were meeting them after a longggg time..and needed to catch up....and ofcourse I wasn't letting them go without having dinner with us. I already had prepared Idli batter.So it was easy enough to make idlis,sambar and chutney.My friend 'M' loves Idlis...so that was going to be a feast for her. What to make for Dessert???
I had been planning to make this Ricotta cheese Rasmalai for a long time.I had bought Riccotta last week itself, but did not have time to get to it. So it was perfect ....I would try this one for tonight's dessert!
My friend 'P' had made it few times..and also 'A' had made for one of her party.Looking at the recipe...it seemed pretty straight forward. When I made it myself..it was really 'NO BIG DEAL RASMALAI'. It was so quick and easy and tasted pretty good!! The 'ras/ basundi' is done similar to the 'authentic recipe' and tastes the same,but the 'malai/ dumplings' are made by baking the ricotta cheese in the oven.How easy is that??? The dumplings come out pretty close but there is obvious texture difference and are not as 'Spongy' as the authentic paneer dumplings in Rasmalai. But wait.......a 'Health fact'
Paneer has about 21% fat ......while Ricotta cheese....even the whole milk Ricotta cheese has 11% fat!!! The Ricotta is a 'whey' cheese..ie...made from the liquidy whey left after the milk is curdled.
So if you are craving Rasmalai but also watching your waist line...this may be an option for you!!! Guiltless(may be less guilt) Indulgence!!!
For 'Malai'/Dumplings:
15oz Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 pinch cardamom powder
Mix everything till well blended, spoon a couple tsps in a 'muffin' pan. Makes about 12 'dumplings'.
Bake at 350F for about 35-40 mins, till the cheese sets and the sides turns slight brown.Check with toothpick. The cheese 'discs' will look like these after baking-

For the 'Ras'/ Basundi:
There are many ways to do it. You can use either whole milk or half and half or condensed milk etc.
I made mine with some whole milk, some 1% milk and condensed milk.No particular reason.The basundi came out nice and sweet,not too thin or thick.
1and 1/2 cups whole milk
1 and 1/2 cups 1% milk
14oz condensed milk
1tsp corn starch
1 pinch Saffron
1/2tsp Cardamom powder
1 pinch nutmeg powder
Chopped almonds/ pistachios etc for garnishing
1) On low heat boil together all the milk,corn starch for about 20 mins.
2) Stir continously and make sure the milk doesn't burn.
3) Check for sweetness.Add sugar if it isn't sweet enough for you.
4) Add the saffron cardamom,nutmeg etc.Let it cool.

Either arrange all the cheese dumplings in a big serving dish and pour the 'ras' on top OR place the dumplings in individual serving dishes and pour some ras on top.Garnish with chopped nuts, saffron etc.Serve at room temp or chilled. I think it tastes best 'Chilled'.

Enjoy this sweet-creamy-cold sensation with unique flavors of saffron,cardamom and nutmeg!!!


I am sending this entry to JFI-Saffron hosted by http://chefinyou.com/