Saturday, April 28, 2012

Its all Greek to Me

Or maybe not, since I am quite fond of the Greek cuisine. Now only if someone could teach me how to pronounce the names correctly! But the best part is whatever the name of the dish is, it always tastes super delicious and is always so healthy. 

So I've always been partial to a few things Greek. My first brush with the Greek culture began, not with food, but with the super funny movie- My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I loved it! In the movie, they were all loud and into each other's business all the time and their lives revolved around food. Ring a bell? 

Whenever the name Greece pops into my head, I immediately think of Athenos, the white houses on the hills, Mamma Mia (not the greatest movie choice, I know!), the turquoise waters, Grecian Goddess dresses, and last but not the least- the delicious Mediterranean food. 

I was out dining with my dear friend 'A' over the weekend, and I ended up ordering, once again, the Greek Salad. I told you, I'm partial to it! I decided enough was enough. I didn't really know why I was eating the really simple salad at a restaurant when I could be making it at home.





Probably the easiest salad to assemble and tasty to eat. Originally Greek Salad uses cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, light dressing and a topping of Feta Cheese. 

I like my salads a little more colourful, so I went ahead and added some bell peppers along with a lettuce head and replaced Kalamata olives with green and black olives.

Btw, did you know Greek Salad was called 'Horiatiki Salata' or was it just me whose head was burried under the sand until now?!
Here's how you can make it too

Serves: 4

Complexity: **

Time taken: 15 mins

Ingredients

1 medium lettuce head, Romaine if you can find it, torn into bite sized pcs
2 large tomatoes/1 pint cherry tomatoes, cubed/ halved
1 large red onion, thinly sliced in half moons
1 english cucumber 
1 cup of pitted black and green olives
1 medium red, green and yellow bell pepper each
crumbled feta cheese as per requirement

Salad Dressing

1/2 cup Olive oil
1/2 cup Lemon juice/ red wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves

Method

Chop up the veggies into similar bite sized pieces. All pretty. 



Tear the lettuce leaves and make a bed of leaves at the bottom of the bowl


Now add all the veggies to the bowl. So colourful. Can you imagine how nutritious its going to be?! Don't forget all the flavours...mmmmm..... 



In a small jar, pour in all the dressing ingredients. Make sure you either pass the garlic through a press or grate it finely. Lid the jar and shake shake shake. The dressing will be emulsified and ready to use. Drizzle over the salad



Top off the salad with the delicious salty, crumbly, feta cheese. Go with as much or as little you want

Toss, add your pinch o' love and toss again. You can serve the salad just as it is or you could go ahead and use it like I did for Chicken Gyro (recipe follows). Indulge! :)  


Oh this is what inspired me never to order a Greek salad when I was at a restaurant and instead make it at home. Can you see the teensie plate behind my BIG glass of the strawberry drink?! It was delicious, no doubt, but I'd rather have something I made, wouldn't you? :) 









Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pretty Little Breakfast

The show Pretty Little Liars has just begun airing here, and I have not got a chance to catch up on the episodes. But I liked the name of the show, and the title of today's post is inspired by the name of the show. 


No connection to the show whatsoever. This breakfast isn't 'Little' either. I don't even know why I named the post this way. I am weird. No, wait, I'm Unique! 


Oh I forgot this is supposed to a post about food. So long things short, I woke up way early in the morning, should-be-illegal-early, and since I had time on my hands, I thought about pampering myself. I decided to take the eggs n bread idea a little ahead and tried, for the very first time ladies and gentlemen, to make crepes! 


Now, now, quit snickering. It looked like a daunting task at first. But as they say, things are difficult before they are easy. ( I don't think my mind is focused only on food right now, so bear with my ramblings). I wanted to go all out and make a really fancy- make-my-day kind of a breakfast today but had limited ingredients in my pantry. But you can go all out, bring out the big guns, and pamper yourself today, cause if you won't then who else will?!?! So repeat after me, "I shall pamper myself today!" 






That's that on the Life Lesson for the day, now off to some cooking shall we? 


Serves: 2


Complexity: *** 


Time taken: 15 mins




Ingredients


For Crepes (makes 4 crepes)


1/3 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup plain flour (feel free to use whole of either)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cup milk


Crepe Topping


2 eggs
salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried herb of your choice like oregano/ parsley/ combination
1 green chili finely chopped
bacon crumbs/ veggies of your choice
1 tsp butter


For Cheesy Hash Browns


2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated
1 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic crushed
3 heaping tbsp of cheddar cheese
1 tsp butter




Method


For the crepes, 






Combine all the dry ingredients first. Crack open the egg and add it to the dry ingredients. 






Slowly pour in the milk and keep whisking till you get a runny batter. The consistency of the batter should be like a thick shake. Set aside for a couple of minutes.






Heat a non stick skillet on a medium low flame. Grease the pan with very little butter just to add the buttery taste or you could even use cooking spray. 






When the butter is melted and starts to foam, ladle a spoonful of the crepe batter onto the pan and swirl it around so the batter is evenly distributed. Make sure the thickness is the same everywhere and the layer should be really thin. 






Let it get cooked for a couple of minutes on medium low flame. With the help of a spatula, flip the crepe over. 


Now, crack open a single egg right in the middle of the crepe. Choose a skillet that is flat bottomed. Mine wasn't and my egg slid to one side. 






Add the dried herbs, salt and pepper on the the egg real quick, before the white of the egg starts to get cooked. Now with the spatula, start folding in the corners of the crepe inwards towards the egg. Just slightly, like an envelope. The white of the egg will help the edges stick. 






Now is the time to add your favourite bits on the egg. You can go with cheese, veggies, fresh herbs, anything. I went with bacon crumbs.....mmm yummmmmmm.....





Let it cook for a minute or so, depending on how runny you want the yolk to be et voila! Your crepe- Ki style is ready! Simple and yet so elegant, isn't it?! 


Oh but there's more to come to accompany that goodness.... 


While your crepes are being made, take another skillet and melt 1 tsp butter in it on a medium low flame. We don't want the butter to brown. I also prefer salted butter, as it always compliments potatoes better. 






Mix the grated potatoes with all the ingredients. The water from the potatoes with the flour will help combine everything better and very easily. Make sure you salt them well. 






Divide the mix into two and spoon one part in the skillet with butter. Flatten it out with a spatula till it is just 1 cm thick. Mmmmmmm... has the amazing garlicky, cheesy aroma hit your nostrils yet?! 






Let it cook for 5 mins each side till the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and reddish golden in colour. 






To serve, don't think I've forgotten my secret ingredient- Our Love; take your favourite plate, because we want to pamper ourselves. Place the crunchy yet soft, cheesy hash brown in the plate. Layer it with the beautiful crepes with eggs. Garnish with fresh herbs or if you want a kick in the morning, with green chillies, like I did. 





Don't forget a serving of fresh fruit along. Sit peacefully and relish the deliciousness of your Pretty Little Breakfast with your loved ones. Indulge! :) 











Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Health by Colours

And I'm back from my visit to the US of A. It was like a dream, still feels like it. Too short, definitely! I wish I had time for more, so much more; for the beauty, the lovely people, the breezy summers, the culture and not to miss- the food, has captured and made a permanent place in my heart. 

I have to confess, I did gluttonously indulge on the delicious delicious food there, tried quite a few new things and loved it all. Thanks to all the walking there, I didn't put on any more weight! Whew! I simply can't forget, the pancakes from IHOP, the drinks at Hooters, the Japanese food I ate there, the Kung pao chicken at Panda express, the hot dogs at the flagship Pink's, the yummy (I love you with all my heart) bacon, the pizza at Rusty's and so much more...

However, I'm happy to be back, to my reality now, among my lovely readers. Btw, Vegas, can't wait to be back there soon enough!!! 

I've missed you. As thrilling and wonderful my first experience to travel abroad was, I longed to be back to my (not-so-fastidious)schedule of cooking in the kitchen and then sharing it with you. 

Ever since I landed back, the summer here is 'killing me, softly'- just like the song. And its really difficult to eat something that is not light and easy to digest. So I have been trying to eat salads as much as possible. The veggies are not as fresh as they are in the winters here, but as long as I am getting my choice of veggies, I don't mind. 

Dear readers, did you all know that if you eat colourful food, natural ofcourse, you will get almost all the nutrients that you require for a day. The more colourful your food is, the healthier it is. Try eating food of different colours on a regular basis and watch your skin glow and your hair shine. Inspired by the VIBGYOR theme, I thought of making this salad. Feel free to add or leave out anything that you feel like. 

Dedicated to all the veggie lovers out there- yes! we exist!! I have for you this yummy, almost guilt free salad, with store bought dressing. Cu-h-mon, who wants to chop the veggies and even make the dressing at home! Tee hee- our li'l secret. I won't tell if you won't. 


Serves: 4 large servings


Complexity: **


Time taken: 20 mins (including chopping)




You'll need  


1 Medium size lettuce head or a bag of mixed greens
1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large red onion, cut into half moons
4-5 spring onions/ scallions, greens and whites separated
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 avocado, cut into strips
3-4 stalks fresh parsley or/ and 3-4 stalks fresh coriander
handful blue berries/ black berries (optional)
1 large cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds
2 oranges, peeled, slices cut into halves
bacon crumbs (optional)
low fat Caesar's dressing
Home made croutons
A Pinch of love


Method


Take an empty bowl- a large one, like this,




Start layering according the the colours of the rainbow first goes in violet- the red onion




Did you notice the pretty little salad tossing hands, my purchase from Ikea *big happy smile*. Alright, back to salad assembling, add something blue on hand like berries, I didn't have them on hand. So I went straight to greens


Add the green bell peppers




The sliced cucumbers,




The leafy greens or just lettuce like I did,




The greens of the scallions..... keep layering, quick quick...




Something with both green and yellow- I had an avocado and please don't cut it first before chopping all the other veggies otherwise it will darken in colour like mine did. 




Next comes the yellow bell peppers...




Isn't this all pretty to look at?! There's more to come. Add the halved oranges. 




Then come the halved cherry tomatoes. Don't you just love these sweet red babies!


The rainbow salad's done. Yet I still didn't feel like I was done. I went ahead and added the whites of the scallions, 



Topped it off with a handful of herbs, I went with fresh curly Parsley and coriander. I do reckon, that you would be good with either one as well. 



Add the croutons. Scroll down to see how I made the golden crunchy deliciousness at home. 



Then drizzle about 1/3 rd cup of low fat Caesar's dressing on everything. Even less if you want. You could also just go with 1/3rd cup of lemon juice and a little bit of salt and pepper for the dressing instead. Always a hit! 



Next, the absolutely optional, but to die for 1/3 cup of bacon crumbs. You know I wouldn't indulge in them on an everyday basis but its ok once in a looooooong while....  



Toss, toss, add your pinch of love and toss again and your salad's ready to eat! Gobble it down like I did. Indulge! 


For the home made croutons, take 2 slices of bread, crustier the better. Apply little butter over it. Cut it into small squares, and layer it on a baking tray, buttered side up and pop them in the oven to toast for 5-7 minutes till they turn golden brown.  Your croutons are ready to eat. Use them for salads or to dress up your soups. They taste absolutely delish. Indulge!