Thursday, August 14, 2008

Apple-Cherry Pie for Navya

A dainty, frilly, latticework pie for little Navya, who amazes us by how 'not little' she is every time we see her.
A perfect pie for the girl with curls and a sweet pink bow in her curls.

Hopefully she will remember the pie with nostalgia tinted glasses and not keep in mind the shoddy latticework :) This and this was very helpful, it kept me from tearing my hair out in frustration.
For the dough
2 cups all purpose flour
2-3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoons salt
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
For the filling
3-4 apples, sliced, depending on the size of the apples
1/2 cup sugar, adjust to liking and sweetness of the fruits
1 cup cherries, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 teaspoons orange juice
1 tablespoon flour
Sift the dry ingredients for the dough just like you would for cake. The add the butter and mix together, it doesn't have to be smooth dough at this point. Then add the cold water and knead till it becomes smooth and pliable. Cover with cling wrap and keep in the fridge till you make the filling.
For the filling, mix everything except the flour. Cover and keep till juices start flowing (about 10-15 mins).
Divide the dough into two parts. Roll out the first part to the shape of your pie plate, a little bigger than that.
Add flour to the filling, toss once and pour into the pie crust.
Make the lattice(watch the video for instructions, its too much work to write) and seal the edges together. If your strips break, like mine did, just seal them together with water. Once its done, its hardly noticeable.
Brush with egg wash and bake for 30-40 mins in a 350 degree oven. I had to do the baking in two parts since I was taking it over to Navya's. So I baked it for 15 mins and then wrapped it in foil and baked it for 15-20 again at her house. So this is not an accurate measure of time. I just kept looking till the crust turned brown and I could smell the pie.
The above mentioned sources have way better tips. So if you have read this till this point, well, too bad for you! :)

Banana Nut Bread

Not the most appetising picture to put on a food blog,eh?

What do you do when you have overripe bananas? Make banana nut bread!

I made mine with this recipe. A little skittish due to my spectacular baking failures, I stuck to the recipe and it turned out great. The only changes were more nuts (can you ever have enough?) and raisins. It was more cakey than bread, but I loved it.

Summer Salad

I don't know why I decided to call this Summer Salad. Maybe because it was zesty and peppy (can you describe a salad as peppy?). Because it lovely to have in summer, or maybe I'm unimaginative when it come to naming foods? I was having a lazy day, like I often do and wanted a no cook meal. So I mixed up whatever I had in the fridge. Well, normally that thought is what results in my kitchen disasters, but this salad turned out pretty decent. I had some fruits still a couple of days away from garbage bin so put them in the salad and added some honey and lemon to the vinagrette.

I really enjoyed how the tart and sweet mixed with the bitter greens and I got a mouthful of flavor in every bite.

I had a bag of mixed greens to start with. I added thinly sliced cucumbers, carrots, tomato, onion, red bell pepper, pear and blueberries. I mixed up a basic vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. There are no guidelines for proportion, I just kept tasting and adjusting till I liked it. To finish off, I added some shaved parmesan on top.
If I could have changed a couple of things, I would have used cherry tomatoes instead of roma and I think I would have put green apple instead of pear. I love a pear on its own, but here it was kind of soft and bland, stand up to the other flavors. I didn't take away from the salad though.
I still thought it was....pretty decent! And its so puurrty!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mediterranean Pasta

I tasted a Mediterranean pasta somewhere and since then I've been dying to try it at home. It seemed really simple, a different take on pasta and the flavors really exploded. The restaurant where I first tasted it had a base of pesto and pasta tossed olive oil, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and olives.
I skipped feta cheese and artichoke hearts since I didn't have any and added capers because I love them! I also had half a red bell pepper, so I roasted that and added it.
1/2 cup of pesto
4-5 sundried tomatoes cut up in slivers
4-5 olives, halved
4-5 capers, drained
1//2 bell pepper, roasted and chopped
a handful of pasta, any shape
2 tsp olive oil
To make pesto, grind together basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and stream in olive oil till it forms a smooth paste. Add some salt for taste and keep 1/2 cup aside at room temperature. Cover the extra pesto with olive oil and it will keep in the fridge for atleast a week.
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water and drain and toss it while hot with olive oil. In a bowl put a couple of table spoons of the starchy pasta water, pesto sauce and add hot pasta and rest if the ingredients. Toss again. Garnish with basil leaves, more parmesan cheese and serve.
I have to confess I was a little too generous with the salt. So with the salty parmesan, salty capers, salty olives and salty pasta water the end product was..yes-you-guessed-correct-and-no you-don't-get-a-prize...salty!
Nevertheless, I'm not giving up on this pasta. I hope I have a better sense of proportion the next time round though.
Update! I made it again, skipped the pasta water, adjusted my scary proportion of parmesan and it turned out just the way I wanted.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mexican Salad

Hazy summer days gave way to sinister skies today. The day started out like any other, bright and full of promise but soon turned dark with grey clouds hovering and completely obscuring my view of Manhattan. It was depressing and gloomy in the apartment and I needed something to pep me up. Creamy avocado came to the rescue. Buttery avocado slices enveloped bright yellow corn kernels and sweet green peas. Vine tomatoes and freshly squeezed lemon juice gave the tang with some chaat masala to keep things interesting.

This is my favorite salad of all times because the I always have all the ingredients in my pantry.

1 can of black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 a ripe avocado
some cilantro leaves
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste
pepper to taste
chaat masala (optional)
Defrost the corn and peas. Mix together with rest of the salad ingredients. Add lemon juice, salt etc. At this point I put it a container with a tight lid and shake it vigorously. This breaks up the avocado and it coats everything in a buttery layer. You can add bell peppers if you have them. Chill slightly and enjoy. This is an absolute winner with kids since the flavors are simple and everything is bite sized.
Oh! And I think I have found the perfect way to choose ripe avocados, you just pop out the stem on the bottom and if it comes out cleanly, the avocado is ripe. I have a record of getting the perfect ones using this method so I'm sticking to it!
By the time I made this salad the sun had popped out again. But this is what Manhattan looked like.

A view of the storm from the cozy confines of my apartment.

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