Hot and Spicy Sesame Noodles

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I am a huge fan of sesame noodles and I invariably order it everytime I find it on the menu of a restaurant. It’s such a simple dish with very few ingredients yet packs a flavorful punch. So here is my take on it:-

Total Time – 10mins

Serves – 4

Ingredients:-

  • 1 packet whole wheat spaghetti (cooked and drained as per the instructions on the packet)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves minced or 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2-3 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted Sesame Seeds (black or white or both)
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Method:-

  1. Mix all the ingredients together except the noodles to make a dressing.
  2. Pour the dressing over the warm noodles and toss to coat.
  3. Finally sprinkle some sesame and cilantro on top. You can even add some freshly chopped scallions while serving.

ENJOY..:)

 

Thai Red Curry

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One of the most popular Thai dishes which is really easy and quick to make. Spicy, healthy and light, it’s very rare that a dish fits in well in all these three categories which is what makes it so popular. So here you go:-

Serves – 4

Ingredients:

  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Red Curry Paste – 2-3 tbsp (you can follow this recipe to make it at home)
  • Coconut Milk – 1 can (14oz/400ml each)
  • Thai Chilies – 2 finely chopped
  • Brown Sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Soy Sauce or Fish Sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Baby corn-1/2 cup
  • Red Bell Pepper – 1/4, sliced
  • Green Bell Pepper – 1/2, sliced
  • Mushrooms – 1/4 cup
  • Broccoli –  1/2 cup
  • Tofu or Chicken Breasts- 1/2 cup
  • lemon grass -1 stalk finely chopped
  • Green Onions – 5 stalks finely chopped
  • Garlic Cloves – 3-4 minced
  • Basil Leaves – 1 bunch and some extra for garnishing

Method:

  1. In a pan, heat the oil. Once hot, add garlic and chilies and sauté for a few seconds. Add in the red curry paste and mix well.
  2. Add the coconut milk and mix again. Then add in the sugar, soy sauce or fish sauce.
  3. If you are making a non-vegetarian dish, then add the chicken now, cover and allow chicken to cook partially.
  4. If you are making it a vegetarian dish, skip steps 3 and add the vegetables to the gravy. Add baby corn, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, lemon grass and mushrooms. (Leave broccoli at this stage.)
  5. Let it cook for a minutes and then add tofu.
  6. Add the basil leaves and cook for another 3-5 minutes. And then add broccoli.
  7. Cook till chicken / tofu is cooked.
  8. Garnish with a few more Thai Basil Leaves and serve hot with some steamed rice.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sausage and Rosemary

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This delicious snack is so quick and easy to make. You can serve it at parties or have it as a family meal.

All you’ll need is:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 large mushrooms 
  • 2 links of italian sausage (casing removed) (Replace with paneer for vegetarian version)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 6 scallions (chopped)
  • Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Freshly chopped rosemary (keep some sprigs for garnishing)
  • Salt and pepper as per taste

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove the stems from the mushroom and keep aside.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic. Sauté it for a minute.
  4. Add the sausage and crumble it using a wooden spoon. Cook it till it turns brown and then add the scallions.
  5. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, add the chopped rosemary, mix well and finally turn off the heat.
  6. Fill each mushroom generously with this sausage mixture and sprinkle some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top. 
  7. Season them with some salt and pepper and arrange them in a baking dish. 
  8. Bake them for about 20-30 mins. Garnish with some fresh rosemary sprigs before serving.

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Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine gravy (Poulet a L’estragon)

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I’ve always wondered what exactly is French cuisine and what differentiates it from Italian cuisine as wine and cheese form a major part of both styles and both have a very rich and subtle pallet. After a little research, it turns out that during medieval times French cuisine was highly influenced by Italian cuisine and as centuries went by, it slowly got rid of its italian influence and developed its own unique style.

I wanted to try one of the classic french dishes called Poulet a L’estragon which is Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine sauce.

(Recipe taken from Nigella Kitchen)

Here is what you’ll need:

2 teaspoons garlic oil (or regular olive oil with 1tsp minced garlic)
2 fat scallions or 4 skinny ones, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon freeze-dried or fresh tarragon
2 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
1/3 cup vermouth or white wine
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fresh white pepper, to grind over
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus a pinch more for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Heat the garlic oil in a frying pan or Dutch oven that has a lid and in which the chicken breasts will fit pretty snugly. Add the scallions, stir, then sprinkle in the freeze-dried tarragon, stir again and cook them in the garlic oil for a minute, stirring some more as they cook.
  2. Put the chicken fillets into the pan, curved side down, and cook for 5 minutes, watching the scallions don’t burn. If they look like they’re beginning to, scrape them from the pan and let them sit on the chicken pieces.
  3. Turn over the breasts, and add the white wine (or vermouth). Let the wine bubble up, then add the salt. Put the lid on, turn the heat down low and leave it to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through by making a small cut into the thickest part and ensuring the juices run clear – if not, simmer for a few minutes longer and check again.
  4. Remove the chicken breasts to warmed plates. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, add the cream and stir well, then sprinkle in the fresh tarragon, stir again and give a good grind of white pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts, and give a final scattering of tarragon to serve.

Needless to say, the recipe turned out to be pretty awesome, my husband couldn’t believe I made this at home.;) The beauty of this recipe is that it has the perfect balance of flavors with such minimal ingredients and each playing a subtle role in bringing out its richness. And as Nigella suggests, relish the remaining gravy by scooping out every last bit of it with some nice fresh French Loaf, I loved it. This is definitely one of those dishes which makes me feel that I can never have enough of it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did..:)

Couscous with Italian Sausage and Fennel

DSC_0787I had never used fennel as a vegetable before, so I was eager to try it out in a recipe that would compliment it well. Couscous, by virtue of being adaptable to different flavours, was a perfect fit for this recipe. To satisfy our carnivorous souls and also to enhance the flavour, I decided to combine these with some fresh italian sausage.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced olives
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8½ ounces mild italian sausage, cut into small chunks
  • 1 large fennel bulb chopped (keep some fronds for garnishing and discard the rest)
  • ½ teaspoon harissa paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 cup couscous
  • salt if needed (depends on the chicken stock you are using, low sodium one would require additional salt on top)
  • freshly chopped basil or fennel fronds for garnishing

Method:

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the garlic. Saute for a few seconds and add the fennel.
  2. Once the fennel turns soft, add the sausage and stir-fry on medium to high heat for a few minutes.
  3. Add the harissa. When the sausage starts leaving oil and turns dark brown, add the olives, sundried tomatoes, oregano and chili flakes. Cook for a few seconds and then add the chicken stock and salt if required.
  4. Once it comes to a boil, add the couscous, stir well, and turn off the heat. Cover the pot immediately and let the dish steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Fluff the couscous with a fork. It should be soft and fluffy, if not, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of boiling stock or water over it, cover, and steam for a few minutes. Be careful not to add too much water as it can easily overcook. Garnish with freshly chopped basil or fennel fronds

Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce(optional). You can find the recipe for Tzatziki here.

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Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

So this was our second valentine since we got married and I had planned a surprise meal for my husband. But as usual nothing went as planned. Just a day before valentine, there was a snowstorm here in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, so we couldn’t leave the house. I wanted some alone time so that I could prepare everything, but to make things more difficult, my husband was asked to work from home that day. Yes, I was excited to have him all to myself but I wanted my plan to somehow work too. I desperately wanted him out of the house for atleast an hour, but such a lazy bum he is, he refused to budge even after all my excuses. Luckily we ran out of milk and that is an emergency situation in our house as both of us are big Coffee freaks, so finally he had to step out.

I had some chicken breasts in the freezer so this was the quickest recipe that I could prepare in that time frame and with the things that were available in the house. Here it goes-

Ingredients:-

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons, one juiced and one sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6-7 pieces (about 2 lbs.) chicken breasts, pat dry
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or fresh chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, or fresh chopped
 Method:-
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic,  lemon juice, cornstarch, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken in a rimmed 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Place the breasts and spread them out evenly in the pan. Pour olive oil mixture all over chicken, turning pieces to coat all sides.
  4. Arrange slices of lemon over the chicken. Sprinkle the freshly chopped thyme and rosemary generously.
  5. Bake uncovered for about 30-40 mins or until chicken is cooked.
  6. Finally, garnish with additional chopped fresh herbs, if desired. Enjoy!

For best results, chicken can be marinated in an air-tight plastic container for a couple of hours or overnight in the olive oil mixture.

 
 
 
 

Quinoa salad with kidney beans and corn

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This is our go-to recipe these days. Even though I’m not a salad freak, I relish this one so much that I can have it every other day. In addition to being a great source of protein, fibre, iron, calcium & magnesium, it has a very nice flavor too. No wonder they call it a ‘Super Food’.

So here is what you’ll need:

  • 1½ cups quinoa(raw)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ cups cooked kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts(lightly toasted)
  • 1 cup cooked corn
  • ½ large onion finely chopped
  • 1 finely chopped tomato (medium size)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 finely chopped green chile (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp of grated feta

Dressing:

  • 5-6 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes

Method:

  1. Wash quinoa in a large bowl thoroughly, rubbing grains, changing the water a couple of times and letting them settle, until the water runs clear. Drain the water and transfer the quinoa to a medium saucepan. Boil the quinoa in salted water for about 10-12 minutes; till it absorbs all the water. Remove from heat and let it sit for another 5-7 mins. Drain the remaining water if any, and transfer to a large bowl. Fluff it with fork to help it cool more quickly.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by adding all the ingredients of the dressing in a small bowl and whisking it.
  3. To the bowl of quinoa, add the rest of the ingredients including coriander, feta and nuts. If you are using canned beans, drain its water completely before adding it to the mix. Finally pour the dressing over the salad mix and toss well. Serve at room temperature.

Hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do..:)