Blistered Garlicky Green Beans

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Growing up, my sister and I ate all our veggies. With my mom, there was no other option – the rule was to finish everything served on the plate whether or not we like it; if we didn’t like something, the only available option was to not have seconds. As a grown up, I haven’t necessarily been “eating all my veggies”. It’s not like I will let them go to waste (there are always stews and gratins and quesadillas to make the boring veggies disappear), but I can admit that I sometimes conveniently “forget” to buy those vegetables when I’m shopping.

My husband frequently bugs me about having “favorites” when it comes to vegetables (hello, potatoes! goodbye, spinach), and now that we have a baby, he warns me that I may not have the necessary moral high ground to make our kid eat all his veggies. Reminds me of an episode of The Big Bang Theory I recently watched where Howard (Simon Helberg) finds out they are expecting a baby, and he is totally freaking out, and tells the guys “I shouldn’t be raising a kid. I don’t even eat my own vegetables.”. Green beans were probably near the top of the list of vegetables I didn’t really care for, until I made these.

These blistered green beans from the Bon Appetit magazine are the best green beans I’ve ever had, and I don’t say such things lightly. Granted I picked this recipe only to get through the mountain of green beans we had languishing in the fridge, because someone (me) didn’t want to eat them (forget about cooking them), but I’m so very glad I did!

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Smashed Potato and Corn Bites

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I’d been eyeing Smashed Potatoes on Instagram forever, and I will never understand why I was waiting until now to put them together with a cheesy corn and pepper topping (reminiscent of “corn chili cheese toast” we used to have growing up in India).

These smashed potatoes (baby potatoes that are first boiled, then smashed, and then baked till crispy, almost frittered) are excellent by themselves, dipped into a nice garlicky aioli, or under a soft boiled egg (you know I try to put an egg on everything!). I imagine they would make a wonderful base for a “chaat” (savory Indian street food), topped with spiced yogurt, tamarind chutney and chaat masala (you’ll see that soon enough on the blog). A great side with meat or fish, too, although I have yet to try it.

Make just the potatoes, or top with anything that strikes your fancy, and enjoy the salty, fatty goodness of it all!

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Infinitely Adaptable Instant Pot “end of the week” Soup

This is a template to employ some good ol’ chop therapy, clear out your fridge, and make some soup while you are at it. I call this a template because the base recipe can be adapted to any ingredients you have on hand that you want to use up, that have nowhere else to go. Random sausage links, throw them in. 2 ugly carrots, sure. Stale baguette that’s too dry to do anything with, absolutely! Old can of black beans with no future, use it up!

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Tiranga Shrikhand Bars (frozen yogurt bars)

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Ever since my friend Shruti told me how to make shortcut Shrikhand (a sweet and creamy dessert from my home state of Maharashtra in India, made with hung yogurt, sugar, ground cardamom and saffron) using Labneh, I must have made it dozens of times. It comes together in no time – whisk together Labneh (extra thick middle-eastern yogurt cheese aka yogurt that is the consistency of cream cheese) and sugar with a pinch of ground cardamom and saffron, and chill in the fridge for a bit. That’s it!

I make it quite frequently to go with elaborate Indian meals – meals that have 7 or 8 other components as it is. So making the shortcut version is an easy win, especially if you make the mango version of it, called Amrakhand (Aam = mango), with mango pureé subbing for half the sugar. I’ve had this idea of converting Shrikhand to a bite-size, easy to freeze format, so that its easy to get a quick taste of it occasionally without investing any time/effort. I thought it would be a great idea to try a “Tiranga” (Indian tricolor) version of it to celebrate the upcoming Indian Republic Day (January 26th).

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[for young chefs] Corn and Cheese Galette (Tart)

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This freeform buttery pastry tart (“galette” in French) is as beautiful as it is delicious – full of sweet corn and cheesy goodness! The puff pastry sheet makes this recipe extra easy and extra quick. In the time it takes for the oven to preheat, your galette will be ready to go in the oven. Anyway who sees (and tastes) this galette will never know just how easy it is to put together! Easy enough to make for our young chefs at home, of course under adult supervision!

Galettes have all of the deliciousness of pies and tarts, with just a fraction of the effort. Following a few basic steps when handling puff pastry sheets opens up a whole world of quick and delicious appetizers and desserts, so its definitely an ingredient worth getting to know! Typically sold frozen (by Pepperidge Farms and Pilsbury), it can be super easy to work with if handled with care!

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[for young chefs] Kheer in a jiffy

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Kheer is a classic Indian sweet pudding, made with all sorts of things, from vermicelli to rice, to wheat berries, to tapioca pearls – the flavors are as diverse as the different states of India that make it!

Vermicelli Kheer (shevai or semiya kheer) is one of those quick desserts that we make to celebrate things big and small: the traditional recipe involves cooking vermicelli (previously sautéed low and slow in ghee, or clarified butter) in warm milk, perfumed with cardamom, until the milk reduces to about half its original volume. Raisins are plumped up in more ghee, cashews fried in some more, and finally the entire saga of it all is topped with saffron (bloomed in a teaspoon or so of warm milk).

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