Showing posts with label Basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Basic. Show all posts

Aug 3, 2010

Vegetable Stock for the soul and of Chalks and Chopsticks

If you missed me talking about my tale of tardy and of begging hosts for a couple of days past the deadline, here’s another one for the record. I have been late for my own event. I had grandiose plans of posting not only how to make a basic vegetable stock but how to make pasta at home and toss it with pesto made from home grown basil.

All I have managed before the grace period (Aug 5th) expires is to post this robust vegetable stock which has the distinction of being made by him. It is a part of his weekend ritual to chop and dice carrots, celery, onions and any other veggies that may have been left over from the week. He will then proceed to make a simple stock that will last us a week. 

Unlike store bought stocks, you can adjust the amount of salt you put in and this is a fat-free version of the more buttery stocks, where the veggies are first sautéed in butter before being boiled in water.

I have never frozen the stock because it gets added to soups, dals, risottos, curries, khichdis and pulaos I make for the family over the week. The picky eater is unaware that the khichdi he is eating has concentrates from carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions.

Here’s his (not the kid but the spouse) simple but delicious vegetable stock that adds a layer of flavor to everything it gets added to.

Vegetable Stock (adapted from the book, Zuppe, Risotti, Polenta!)

1 medium onion, chopped in big pieces
1 carrot or 8-10 baby carrots (chop the big carrots in 3-4 pieces)
2 celery stalks, chopped in fours
A few stalks of cilantro (optional)
Leftover veggies like spinach, greens of every kind, broccoli, mushrooms, peas and cabbage.*

Whole spices: (add more of the following for a spicier version)
4-6 black peppercorns
1-2 cloves
1/2 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1 bay leaf (optional)

Put all the ingredients together in 4 ½ pints of lightly salted water. Bring to a gentle boil, lower the heat and simmer for an hour. The stock will reduce and get a dark tinge brown to tan, depending on the veggies used.

Let cool, before straining and transferring to air tight containers. Keep in the refrigerator for up to ten days. I always use up the stock by the then so I can’t vouch for the stocks fridge shelf life. If you do not have immediate plans to use it all up, freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove and transfer to a freezer container or Ziploc bag.

*Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and do not overdo the broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, for obvious reasons.

Other vegetable stock recipes:

Aqua’s Mushroom Stock
Sunshinemom’s Vegetable Stock


Of Chalks and Chopsticks

If you are wondering why I am announcing two events in the same month, in back to back posts, I chalk it to my obsession with multi-tasking and my inability to be organized. I had committed to hosting Global Kadai at the beginning of the year and promptly forgot about it. And how could I not get obsessed with Chalks and Chopsticks? I was itching to host it since it started and so I begged the trio who started it all. The three gracious ladies,  Aqua, Sra and Bong Mom , agreed to pass the baton on to me and there was no way I was going to pass it up. Since the announcement is three days into the month, I will take some self-imposed liberty and make the deadline three days late, or better still five days, just so it is easy to remember.

If you haven’t heard of (and I can’t imagine you not having heard of it by now) Of Chalks and Chopsticks, let me clue you in. This is a monthly event, conceived by Aqua and calls for food inspired fiction or fiction inspired by food, whichever way you want to looks at it, from bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Here are the rules:

Send in your entries at this address by September 5th.

The subject line should say: Of Chalks and Chopsticks – 4

The email should provide:

The Blogger’s name

Title and URL of the post

Some information, borrowed from earlier editions

The writing should be original, i.e. yours.

There is no word limit or theme – you can write on anything as long as the story has food as a centerpiece. That is, a food related/ themed story.

The story could be based on real life, just make it sound like a story and not a regular post.

Old posts are accepted but a new one is always more exciting.

These posts can be shared with other events.

Link you post to this and Aqua’s post.

PS: This is not a part of the original rules but I will make one anyway. Try to pen an intelligent, cogent piece of writing, even if it is just a paragraph. If you have a great story idea but are not sure of your writing skills or coherence of the story, send it to me or one of the writers for a look over. We can give you suggestions and help you out the best we can. And please, keep the use of excessive exclamations out!

For inspiration and some excellent stories, stay tuned for Sra's roundup.

Jun 11, 2009

My mother-in-law’s secret…

When I got married, my mother-in-law passed on a family secret she had also passed on to her other two, older, daughters-in-laws. Well, it is more of a cooking tip than a secret but it is such a family staple that everyone know about but no one talks about (well, till now!) that I think of it as her ‘secret’.
Well, as all things brilliant go this one is actually quite simple. Indian households, including my MIL’s, use large quantities of ginger-garlic paste in preparation of curries and other varied recipes. With three growing sons and a husband fond of good food, she learned early on that it made her life a little easier if she ground ginger-garlic-green chillis and cilantro into a paste and stored it in the fridge to be used when needed.
As her three sons grew older and eventually got married, the tip was passed down to every new bride. To me, who had not cooked a lot before getting married, the simplicity of the tip was just brilliant.
A jar of this paste in the fridge lasts about 10-14 days, if you don’t finish it all off first. It is really handy when you are cooking for a lot of guests or if you make curries that call for ginger garlic paste. I also use it for marinating meats and fish.

1 cup coriander
14-15 cloves of garlic
4 inch of ginger
5-6 green chillis (vary according to preference)
1 tsp of salt

Grind the ingredients together to form a smooth paste. The salt helps preserve the paste for a couple of days.
The addition of green chillis and cilantro to the paste gives the curries and marinades a flavor that is hard to describe but tastes very good when the dish is cooked.

Jun 4, 2009

My Masala Dabba

First a background lesson in Masala Dabba: Every Indian kitchen has at least one masala dabba if not two. The concept is just genius and my hats off to whoever invented it. A MD is usually a round, flat container with a lid and has little containers, usually 6-7, that fit inside it. With the plethora of Indian spices one has to use while cooking, it is handy to have the most commonly used ones within easy reach. My mother-in-law has two dabbas – one for ground spices like turmeric and red chilli powder, and the second one for whole spices like cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon sticks and black peppercorns.

Red Chilli Pwdr, Garam Masala (Everest), Cumin Seeds, Turmeric Pwdr, Mustard Seeds, Cumin Corrainder (Dhana Zeera) Pwdr and in the centre cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon sticks

I have to admit I don’t clean my masala dabba very regularly. I just clean the container that needs refilling before putting it back with the rest of the messy ones. But yesterday, I accidently dropped the MD on the floor, spilling all the spices and ended up not only cleaning all the little containers but also my kitchen floor. Let me admit, while I am at it, the floor too needed a good moping. (Hey, don’t judge me!)
My MD along with my kitchen floor is now sparkly and shiny. When else will I get a chance to photograph it and put it on my blog? Here’s a picture of my masala dabba, all sparkly and clean.
Now only if it could stay this way.

May 17, 2009

Golden Ghee (Clarified Butter)

I have a confession. I never liked making ghee back home in India. It was an elaborate process that took 2 hours of a Sunday morning. The preparation started two weeks before that. My mom would carefully skim the layer of cream off the hot milk and put it in a designated pot in the fridge. When the pot was almost full she would add a tablespoon of yogurt to the cream pile. The yogurt helped separate the milk solids and water.
Once the pot was full, it was my job to run it through the food processer or the blender till the cream was formed into delicious lumps of butter floating in the whey. The whey then had to be separated from the butter and the butter washed three times in water. It was a sticky, messy affair.
Once the butter was washed and clean, my mom would put it on a low flame on the gas to melt and turn into delicious golden ghee. The whole house would smell of the melting butter and our neighbors would know we were making ghee.
Here in the States, making ghee is as easy as put the unsalted butter in the pot, turn on the heat and 25 minutes later you got delicious, golden ghee.


16 oz or four sticks of unsalted butter
1 heavy bottom pan
1 sieve

Cut the butter into small squares. Place a heavy bottomed pan on low heat and add the butter to it.
The butter will start frothing and bubbling in the next 5-10 minutes. In the next 10 minutes it will start turning golden brown and clear.
My mom’s simple test to know for sure if the ghee was done was to sprinkle a few drops of water on it. If the ghee was done, it would spatter and sizzle. If not, keep it on for a few more mins.
Once the ghee is done turn off the heat and take the pot off the gas. The ghee at this point is so delicate that even the residual heat on the burners can burn it.
Once it is cooled, strain and transfer to a heat proof pot. Ghee will keep at room temperature for a month and for a very long time in the refrigerator.

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