Full Tummy

Come join me in seeing and tasting food the way I do, take a sniff with me and enjoy the flavors like I do.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fall Fresh Fruit shopping

Yesterday, Husband and I went to our neighbourhood european style produce and cheese store: Milk Pail. We always have fun going there, looking at the abundance of fruits and vegetables, and picking out something new each time we go there. Here is all that we got this time...

Granny Smith (green) and Gala apples (red).. The Grannies are going to make a yummy apple cake, with NO oil/butter, sometime this week.. The Galas will go into some fresh apple juice.

Pumpkin... the symbol of fall... this mini one will make some sweet pumkin sabzi, indian style, maybe over the weekend.

Persimmon.. to me, it is yet another symbol of fall.. I totally adore this fruit, not too sweet, not sour, perfect crunchiness... Ahhh!! Half of these have already been devoured since this picture was taken.

Oranges... yet another orange colored purchase for this weekend's groceries... These will serve as dessert on some dinner nights, and may make some yummy juice over the weekend.

Avocadoes... did I ever mention that husband loves them, he eats them raw, right out of their skin!!! These will make some yummy guacamole, or I might try that Mexican soup we had in a restaurant the other day.

Bananas... we have been craving some good oatmeal in the mornings these days, since its so cold outside.. These will top our oatmeal for breakfast!

Thats the arrangement in my kitchen utility cabinet...

Russian Meal: Pelmeny [Tortellini]

Pelmeny is as Russian as food can get. These are soft little dumplings filled with a variety of usually bland possibilities, usually its beef, sometimes pork, rarely chicken or cabbage. I dont really know about the smaller cities, but in Moscow nobody I knew would make it from scratch. We used to buy it frozen. So, I figured it really was not that bad a deal that out here in Palo Alto, California I can still get the frozen Pelmeny. In fact - I could get a much healther version of them - the Chicken variety!

These are the Pelmeny I buy from either the Russian Store Samovar or the european market Milk Pail in Mountain View. These are just plain old Tortellini - little tiny dumplings with a filling inside. so you could easily substitute them with any store bought tortellini - cheese / spinach / meat ... etc.

Popkoff's Pelmeny with Chicken - frozen

Russians eat these Pelmeny totatlly un-glamorized, of course. Boil pelmeny in salted water, drain, pour in a bowl, dollop of sour cream, dill leaves, ready to eat. Yes, it would taste heavenly, but my taste buds now dont find that too appealing, so I make a whole meal out of them in a different way...

Pelmeny (Tortellini) with Zucchini

2 small zucchinis - thinly sliced up in semi-circles
1 onion - thinly sliced up in half of semi circles
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 packet Pelmeny / Tortellini, boiled in water with 1 tspn oil till al dente , drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch of dill, finely chopped

* Heat oil in a pan
* Add onions and stirfry til 3/4th done
* Add zuchhini and stir fry till 3/4th done
* Add soy sauce, salt , pepper to taste, add dill leaves. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
* Add the drained pelmeny/tortellini
* Switch the flame off and cover, stir in between a couple of times. You want to keep them moist, so dont stir fry further.

I vary the veggies lots of times, but the trick is to keep the veggie mix simple, so that the taste of the tortellini / pelmeny shines through. Never forget the dill though, this is a very Russian herb, and gives a lot of the dishes their Russian flavor.

The result is yum-yum-yummy.

Pelmeny/Tortellini with Zucchini / Onion / Dill

Russian Meal: Vegetarian Borscht Soup

Since husband and I have both been recovering from cold and sore throat, we have been having a lot of soups / fluids. Today I decided to make it a russian affair - Borscht soup and Pelmeny (russian tortellini filled with meat usually).

Borscht is characterized by its deep red color. So the main ingredient is of course - Red Beet! It is made in a variety of styles depending on the region you are from. It is usually made with Beef in Moscow, usually made with chicken in Ukraine, and I mostly make it vegetarian to make it in a jiffy.

Here is my vegetarian version of it, followed by the non-vegetarian version for those who are interested.

Vegetarian Borscht

1/2 cabbage - finely sliced
1 raw beet - peeled and grated
1 big russet potato chopped into 1 inch of bigger cubes (dont make the cubes too small)
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion - chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (Russians would never use anything other than butter, but I am a health-izer)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large cube of beef buillion (optional, can replace with veg stock or omit altogether)
1 tablespoon of lemon pepper salt mix [I get mine from costco]
1 tspn black pepper
1 big bunch of dill - finely chopped

*In a soup pot, heat oilive oil.
* Add garlic cloves, fry till pinkish.
* Add onions, and cook till transparent.
* Add potatoes, saute till edges are transparent.
* Add cabbage and beet, and around 1 cup of hot water, let the volume of cabbage reduce a little.
* Then add more water to cover up the soup.
* Add red wine vinegar, beef buillion (optional), salt, lemon pepper mix, black pepper.
* Let it all simmer for around 10 minutes or so.
* Add the chopped dill and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Russians would serve this with a dollop of sour cream, along with buttered dark rye bread.

Vegetarian Borscht, simmering away in the pot

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ultimate melt-in-your-mouth pancakes

Who said a pancake mix cannot make yummy fluffy pancakes???? Not my box!!! My box makes the yummiest lightest pancakes!!! But, with a little help...

1 cup pancake mix [I use Bisquik Buttermilk pancakes' Complete mix, the one in which you have to add just water]
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tspn sugar
1 tspn baking powder
1 egg

* Blend all the above ingredients using a blender or whisk or hand immersion blender.
* Pour ladlefuls on a hot greased griddle.
* Cook on that side until bubbles form and edges look a little dried up (around 1 min).
* Turn and cook on other side for around half a minute.

Yield: 6-8 regular sized pancakes

Pancakes are ready to turn, when bubbles form and edges look dry-ish

Pancakes, stacked up, waiting for some maple syrup

Back from a blogging break...

Yes, for those of you who noticed, I have been on a blogging break for the last month. Husband quit his startup job at the end of October due to lots of politics at work, that left him mostly at home when he was not in his meetings and interviews. So he did a lot of the cooking at home, while I was at work. A lot of travelling was happening too, went to Denver to my sister, nephew and niece for an elongated Thanksgiving break - which was so much fun!!! :-) And the 11-month old nephew gifted husband and me some of his little little germs which left the two of us sick for a whole week!!!

So here I am now, thanksgiving break is over, we are both recovered, and husband is on the verge of accepting an offer from another fun startup!!! Back to blogging....!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Paalak Saag

We had a very sweet family as our two-floors-below-us neighbor, back in Moscow. Roshni aunty. With two very cute little daughters. They were from Delhi. Aunty's food was very different from Mom's. Mom's was always focused on nutrition, health, etc. Aunty had a lot more of a free hand.

Here is one of her healthy recipes that Mom (and eventually I) adopted into our regular menus. This recipe is to Roshni aunty, and all the love she has given to our family over the years.

Paalak Saag

1 packet Frozen spinach (Deep brand's frozen spinach works best for this recipe, you can find it in indian stores)
1 onion chopped
1 tomato chopped
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons besan
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2-3 green chillies, chopped
red chilli powder

1. Pressure cook the spinach cubes (no need to thaw) with 3/4 cup water for 1 whistle.
2. In a bowl mix yogurt and besan until smooth.
3. When steam of the spinach pressure cooker settles down, open it, and add to it the yogurt-besan mix. Keep stirring with a whisk, while heating on medium flame.
4. In a separate pan, heat oil, add jeera. Then add onions and green chillies. Saute till brownish. 5. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, fry for a couple of minutes.
6. Add tomatoes, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Cook till mixed up well, and tomatoes get tender.
7. Add this mix to the spinach pressure cooker, and give yet another whistle.
8. Serve with rice or rotis.

Paalak Saag

Grainy Low-fat Cranberry Nut Bread

To satisfy my immensely large sweet tooth, I try to incorporate fair amount of healthy sweets into my diet. This keeps me away from the unhealthy stuff that I keep on eyeing in the cafeterias at work :) I like easy baking recipes too. Quick sweet breads are my favorite. I had already posted my banana nut bread recipe last week, here is yet another. I made this yesterday for husband and me to have for breakfast / afternoon snack.

This bread is loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C, because of all the cranberries and orange juice that goes into it. Cranberries are very good for women, they help us with our menstrual health - they reduce cramps, help in yeast infections and UTIs, etc.

I buy cranberries in fall when they are abundant in local european-style produce store Milk Pail. I then transfer them in freezer ziploc bags and freeze them. They last me all the way until the next fall!

Grainy Low-fat Cranberry Nut Bread

This is my submission for Saffron Trail's WBB# 7: Baking for Breakfast

1 .25 cups all purpose flour
0.75 cup whole wheat flour (substitute with all purpose flour if not on hand, reduce baking powder by 1/4 tspn too in that case)
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
0.5 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice (no or low pulp)
1 tbsp grated orange peel or orange extract
2 tbsp shortening
1 well beaten egg
1.5 cups fresh/frozen cranberries
0.75 cups nuts (walnuts / pecans)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bow mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda.
3. Stir in Orange juice, orange peel / extract / shortening / egg. Mix well with hand whisk until blended
4. Stir in cranberries (I dont even chop them) and nuts (I get the halves from costco, and dont chop these either)
5. Turn into a greased (with butter) 9 x 5 inch loaf pan
6. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
7. Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 mins, then remove from pan. This is important, this resting time eases the loaf out from the pan.
8. When cooled down, cut into thick 1 inch slices. I individually wrap these up in sandwich ziploc bags for easy portability to work for breakfast with some yummy soymilk.

Grainy Low-fat Cranberry Nut Bread

Aloo - Zucchini Sabzi

We lived in Moscow (Russia) for a long-long time. The most popular and readily available vegetable out there is Potato! A close second are cabbage, carrots and beets. Russian food is predominantly potatoes and meat.

No wonder that my Mom had to find out newer ways to keep us busy with potatoes. This is one of her dishes. I vaguely remember her picking this up and adapting from an ages old Sumeet food processor's accompanying cookbook.

Aloo - Zucchini

2 medium sized white potatoes
1 medium or 2 small green zucchini
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 chopped onion
2 chopped tomatoes
1/2 tspn kalonji seeds (black onion seeds, they look very similar to black sesame seeds)
red chilli powder
garam masala

1. Clean potatoes. No need to peel if using white potatoes. Slice into thin slices with a slicer.
2. Slice zucchini using a slicer too.
3. Heat oil
4. Add hing and kalonji seeds.
5. Add onions and saute on medium till 3/4 done.
6. Then add potatoes and cook covered on medium till 1/2 done
7. Add zucchini, and cook covered
8. In a separate small pan, saute tomatoes till they are soft.
9. Add to the potatoes-zuchhini pan, add salt, turmeric, red chilli powder
10. When almost done, add some garam masala and amchoor.

Aloo Zucchini

Eggplant Raita

Eggplants have hardly any nutritional value. They are low in calories, and in fat, and in sodium. They have not much vitamin content, some cancer fighting minerals in under-decent quantity. Not a major source of protein either. If you take the skin off the eggplant, there is hardly any fiber content to boast about either.

Having said all of this, we still happen to like eggplants. A lot. Here is one of our favorite ways to cook eggplant.

Eggplant Raita

1 big eggplant
pinch of hing
1 tspn jeera
1 tspn rai (smaller mustard seeds)
1/2 tspn urad dal
1/4 tspn chana dal
7-8 curry leaves
3 green chilles
1/2 onion - finely chopped
chopped cilantro
2 cups yogurt
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Roast baingan like for baingan bharta. I do this in my oven at 450 degrees F. I rub a teaspoon of oil on the eggplant's skin, and put it on a foil-lined tray for around an hour, turning once in between.
2. When done, peel and take the inside stuff out, mash it. I also use any water that got drained from inside the eggplant, adds to the flavor.
3. In oil add tadka of hing, jeera, rai, urad dal, curry leaves, chana dal, chopped green chilles
4. Mix the the tadka in dahi. Add mashed baingan to dahi too. Add salt.
5. Add finely chopped onions for crunch. Add chopped dhaniya.
6. Mix and serve as a thick raita.

Eggplant Raita

Menu for the week of Nov 6 - Nov 10

Here is something new about me that my fellow bloggers didnt know so far. I am a Bollywood dance teacher. Yes - the bollywood kinds. This takes up a lot of my time. I teach for 2 hours each on two weekday evenings, after my regular work day. So I dont get any time to prepare a healthy meal on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as I am not home until 9pm !

But this is the last week of classes... the big dance show is this weekend. So its the last week until January when I need to plan really well for the week day menus.. So here we go...

Monday Oct 30:
(I have 2 hours to cook)
- Aloo - zuchhini sabzi
- Guvar with chana dal from Indira's blog
- Paalak Saag (for Tuesday)
- Asparagus sabzi (for Tuesday)
- Eggplant raita (added to the menu on husband's request)
- Toor dal - Sada Varan
- Rice
- Also bake Cranberry Nut Bread for breakfast for the week
- Husband to cut apples and pears and make juice

Tuesday Oct 31: (No time to cook)
- Left overs

Wednesday Nov 1: (No time to cook)
- Leftovers
- Husband to make fresh dal: sada varan
- Husband to make rice

Thursday Nov 2: (30 minutes to cook)
- Borscht soup
- Garlic bread
- Cut carrots and make carrot juice

Friday, November 03, 2006

Asparagus Soup

At our home, we have one day every week which is a soup or salad or sandwich night. This keeps us from getting bored of the regular indian fare, as well as adds a healthy light point to our weekday diet.

This week, it was Asparagus Soup with Ham/Cheese/Basil Paninis.

I should've called this Cream of Asparagus soup, but it really has no cream even though it is a lovely creamy texture. So lets just drop the whole "cream" thing and call it plain ol' asparagus soup :)

Asparagus Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion - chopped roughly
2-3 cloves garlic (optional)
1 white potato - chopped roughly
1 bunch of asparagus - buy the one which is thinner stalks, wash them in cold water, chop off the end 1/4th of throw away (The thicker white part). Chop the rest of it into 1-2 inches spear-lets.
1/2 tspn black pepper
1 tspn chicken stock powder, optional, replace with any other kind of stock if you wish
1 cup milk
1 can corn, drained

1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. Add onions and garlic and saute till transluscent
3. Add potatoes and saute for 5 minutes
4. Add asparagus. Add around 4-5 cups hot water.
5. Add black pepper, salt, chicken stock, optionally add 1/2 tspn red chilli powder
6. Boil for 10 minutes or until everything is tender.
7. Blend this whole thing in a blender or an immersion blender along with half the can of corn.
8. Return to the pan adding the rest of the corn kernels. Add milk.
9. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Asparagus and potatoes floating away

Asparagus Soup

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Guilt-Free Banana Bread

So I have said it a million times - I am a health-izer! I try to make every recipe healthy. To me the nutritional value of food takes higher priority over its presentation. For example, I wont add 1/2 a cup of oil to give a glossy-separated look, when only a tablespoon is enough.

So here is yet another of my own recipes. This time, a baked goody. The classic banana nut bread. Believe it or not.. it has no extra fat added to it!!! So it is as healthy as it can get. Also, I have fortified it with more fiber, by adding some whole wheat flour (sometimes I add oat flour instead).

This is a guilt-free dessert you can have to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. I bake it once every few weeks and take it along with me for breakfast.

Guilt-free Grainy Banana Bread with Nuts and Raisins

This is my submission for Saffron Trail's WBB# 7: Baking for Breakfast

4 egg whites
1+ 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour OR oat flour [i use whole oats that i ground in my coffe grinder to make a flour out of it - use 1 cup whole oats to get 3/4 cup oat flour]
3/4 cup sugar
3 very ripe bananas, well-mashed
1.5 tspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
1/2 cup black raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x5 bread loaf shaped pan with oil/butter/. This is the only fat that goes into the recipe.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites using a whisk / electric mixer. Add bananas to this and mix again.
3. Add sugar, baking powder, salt - mix well.
4. Add white flour, whole wheat/ oat flour. Stir well with spatula till all the batter is wet, dont over stir.
5. Stir in raisins and nuts
4. Pour this batter into the loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 50 minutes to an hour. Test with toothpick for checking if ready.
5. Run edges with a knife and take the loaf out on a cooling rack. Let sit for 10 minutes.
6. When not hot to touch, slice the bread. I put each slice into individual sandwich ziplocs, for easy portability to work for breakfast each week day!

Grainy Banana Bread with nuts and raisins

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dill Potatoes

Dill is a really popular herb where I was brought up - in Russia. In fact it is the most popular green thing out there :-) I make a few russian things with it... the Borscht soup (ooh, lets put it on the menu for next week), sauted/steamed cabbages, russian dumplings Pelmeny. But had never seen it being used in Indian cuisine, though it is always sold in the Indian grocery stores out here in California. I figure some Indian cuisines do use it, maybe I never got exposed to it.

Here is my dill take on aloo-methi :)

Dill Potatoes

Another entry for Saffron Trail's WBB# 6: A Twist in the Plate

4 medium size white potatoes
1 big bunch of dill
1 tspn cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tspn rai seeds (looks like a smaller and red mustard seed)
pinch of hing
salt to taste
1/4 tspn turmeric powder (I go low on turmeric in my cooking)
red chilli powder to taste
1 tspn dhaniya-jeera powder (Coriander / cumin - coarsely ground in 1:1 ratio)
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Boil the potatoes till tender but not mushy. Cool, peel, and cut into cubes.
2. Wash the dill bunch as is, hold the bundle from the thick stalks and keep chopping finely until you start reaching the thick stalks.
3. In a pan add the canola oil, heat it. Add hing, jeera and rai and let them dance around.
4. Then add the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, dhaniya-jeera powder directly in the oil and stir for a minute
5. Add the potatoes, cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stir frying to get the browned up a little
6. Add the finely chopped dill leaves. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
7. Then sprinkle around 1/4 cup or less than that water and cover and cook for a little bit.

Potatoes with dill

Monday, October 30, 2006

Menu for the week of Oct 30 - Nov 4

Me and my husband - we like to eat in on weekdays, and out on weekends. This way we get our share of nutritious healthy food, as well as get to have fun. Our weekday lunches are at work - I hit the salad bar, he hits the deli sandwiches. When both of you are working and still want to eat healthy yummy dinner at home, it needs planning. If you plan it out, you can get it right.
I have always been taking notes on my laptop in a Text file about whats the menu for this week, I usually do that either before or after grocery shopping, and mostly on Sundays. Now that I am in the world of blogging, I decided to make my menu planning public and share with all of you as well.

Monday Oct 30: (I have 1 hour 30 minutes to cook)
- Chicken 65 from Past Present and Me's blog
(already marinated the chicken yesterday, on Sunday)
- Mushroom and Peas sabzi
- Toor dal with green chillies and garlic
- Rice
- Also bake Banana Nut Bread for breakfast for the week
- Husband to cut apples and make Apple juice

Tuesday Oct 31: (I have 45 minutes to cook)
- Roasted indian style Tilapia from Towards a better tomorrow's blog
- Green bell peppers with Besan
- Potatoes with dill

Wednesday Nov 1: (No time to cook)
- Leftovers from Monday and Tuesday
- Husband to make fresh dal: sada varan
- Husband to make rice

Thursday Nov 2: (30 minutes to cook)
- Asparagus Soup
- Panini sandwiches with ham, cheese and basil
- Cut carrots and make carrot juice