Spinach and Potato Bake

Love what you do, do what you love…

After a long break, I am sitting here staring at the screen thinking of something profound to say. Trying to make a come back, with a bang. However, words fail me! I don’t have an explanation for my absence. I don’t know how long I am back for or how frequently I will post a recipe for you. What I do know, is I love food and as long as I can cook, I will share it with you.

Today’s recipe is a simple, hearty winter warmer. Layers of potato, garlicky spinach, cream and cheese, a perfect matrimony of decadence and nutrition.

Ingredients:  11          Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One large bunch of spinach, finely chopped
  • Three medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • two to three garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Two eggs
  • 300ml of cream
  • 250 gms of grated cheddar cheese
  • 125 gms of grated parmesan cheese
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Heat oil in a pan. Add onion, once translucent add garlic. Cook until aromatic.

Now add the chopped spinach, season with salt. Once wilted, drain the excess liquid (tip: you can use the liquid as stock in your gravies or pasta sauce).

In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Now grease a baking dish with some olive oil. Make a double layer the of the sliced potatoes, then add the spinach mixture and finish with a double layer of potatoes.

Pour the cream and egg batter and finally top it with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until cooked and golden brown on the top.

I usually serve this with a side of roasted vegetables or a salad. Either way it is lip smackingly delicious.

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Aloo Shimla Mirch (Potato with Capsicum)

A childhood memory, a taste of home…


Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Beeji (maternal grandmother) and Massi (maternal aunty). These two women are cornerstones of my upbringing. I owe a big part of who I am today to them. Even now every year when we visit India, I can’t help but feel the same excitement I did when I would visit Beeji and Massi during my school holidays.

Life was pretty simple as a child. Eat, play, nap and repeat. Although I think all I did was eat, eat, eat and eat. Among all the lip smackingly delicious dishes Beeji and Massi made, Aloo Shimla Mirch was my favourite. So much so I demanded that it be cooked everyday.

After all what’s not to love about potato and capsicum cooked in an onion and tomato paste. Flavoured with cumin and coriander powder. This dish right here is a perfect side dish to an Indian meal.

Ingredients: 11  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Three to four medium potatoes, sliced
  • Two medium green capsicums, sliced
  • One medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • Two medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons coriander powder
  • Half a teaspoon chilli powder
  • Quarter teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil 

Heat oil in a wok. Add cumin seeds, once aromatic add onions and cook until lightly caramelised.

Once the onions are browned, add tomatoes. Followed by all the dried spices. Mix well and cook the onion tomato paste on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.


Now add the potatoes and mix well. Cover the pan, turn the heat down and cook the potatoes for ten to fifteen minutes.
Finally add the capsicum, season with salt and mix well. Coven the pan and cook the dish on a low heat for another 15 minutes. 


Your lip smackingly delicious Aloo Shimla mirch is ready to serve. Serve alongside dal tadka and plain yogurt, enjoy it with warm rotis or plain rice. 

Wild Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Polenta

Glamourising vegetarian food, one dish at a time…

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After moving to Australia and travelling around the world, I have noticed how underrated good vegetarian food is. For some reason the vegetarian culinary repertoire across most restaurants rarely showcase delicious fresh produce or out of the box cooking techniques. I am no masterchef but I suppose having been a vegetarian for 27+ years I can definitely put up a cracker of a vegetarian dish sure to give even some of the meat dishes a run for its money.

Today’s dish is definitely one that will even knock the socks of an avid carnivore! Ragu traditionally is a slow cooked Italian meat based sauce served with pasta. However since I am all about challenging traditions in the kitchen, my ragu recipe is quick and easy and above all vegetarian!

I have used a medley of Mushrooms as a star of this dish. A mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms provides an abundance of different textures and deep mushroom flavor. I haved served the stew with a creamy polenta, believe me when I say it’s a match made in heaven.

So without further ado, here’s my lip smackingly delicious autumn winter classic.

Ingredients:  18  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves:

For the Ragu

  • 20 gms of dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 200 gms of sliced swiss brown mushrooms
  • 100 gms of shimeji mushrooms 
  • One brown onion, chopped
  • Five to six pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Eight to ten parsley stems, finely chopped
  • 10 to 12 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese (optional)
  • 300ml of light cooking cream
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

For the Polenta

  • One cup of polenta
  • Three cups of water
  • One tablespoon butter

For the Garnish (optional)

  • One bunch of asparagus, hard ends trimmed
  • One tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 0.5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

 

Begin by soaking the porcini mushrooms in hot water and keep aside.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add chopped onions, followed by chopped garlic and cook until the onions are slightly caramelised and you can smell the delicious garlic aroma.

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Now add chopped parsley stems and about six to eight sprigs of lemon thyme. These fresh herbs help in flavouring the oil and give the dish a great fresh flavour. Cook the onion mix on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

Add the assorted mushrooms, except the porcini mushrooms to the onion mix and let them sweat on a low heat for about seven to ten minutes. 

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Now add the remaining lemon thyme sprigs to flavour the mushrooms. Followed by porcini mushrooms including their stock. Right about now, you should be smelling the mushroomy goodness!

Once the mushrooms are tender add cream and goats cheese. Season with salt as desired, cover the pan with a lid and let the ragu simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

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To make the polenta, in a saucepan bring three cups of water to a boil. Now lower the flame and add the polenta. Stir continuously to avoid lumps and polenta sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the water is absorbed and the polenta has thickened add a tablespoon of butter and stir it through to give the polenta its richness and shiny glaze. Finally season with salt as desired.

Finally for the garnish, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the asparagus, followed by lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Continuously toss the asparagus until evenly coated with the balsamic glaze. Take off the heat once tender.

To assemble the dish – place the creamy polenta at the base, ladle the delicious mushroom ragu on top and finally add the asparagus as the final garnish. 

Enjoy this lip smackingly delicious hearty dish with a beautiful red wine and you may just find yourself teleported to Italy.

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Vegetarian Mezze

 Can’t go to the Mediterranean…bring the Mediterranean to you…

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 A wise man once said “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. Travel definitely makes you worldly in more than one way. Through travel one creates timeless memories and also learns about great histories, rich cultures, beautiful art and my most favourite, local cuisine. If I could I would be on a perennial holiday.

Unfortunately life isn’t a bed of roses, most of us have something called ‘a job’ and ‘a boss’ waiting for us Monday to Friday – day in day out! The dreary grind of everyday life makes travels and holidays seem like a dream.  

While a holiday may not be on the horizon for you, your kitchen is right where you left it last night! Why am I telling you this? Well go back and read the tag line, it’s true – Can’t go to the Mediterranean…bring the Mediterranean to you… Lets take a culinary cruise to the Mediterranean.  Today I will be showcasing three vegetarian mezze. Each of them unique in texture and flavour, but what’s common in them – they are a taste of the Mediterranean and so easy to make. Time for a drum roll – Potato and Cream Corn Fritters, Caper Lemon Brussel Sprouts and Paprika Beans with Goats Cheese.

‘Mezze’ or ‘Tapas’, depending on the country of origin is one of the most popular variety of appetizers or snacks in the Mediterranean. They can be served both hot and cold and overtime have evolved into an entire meal. The whole idea behind serving these appetizers is to encourage conversation among the crowd, giving people an opportunity to eat, drink and chat.      

So without further ado, fasten your aprons we are off to the Mediterranean tonight!

Potato and Cream Corn Fritters

Ingredients:  8  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves:   4           

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  • Five medium-sized potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • 200 gms of cream corn
  • 1/2 cup of coriander
  • one egg (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • salt to season
  • Olive oil to pan fry

Start by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. The cream corn has a lot of moisture and will easily bind the ingredients. However you can add an egg if you think the mixture is dry.

Make round patties by rolling the mixture in the palm of hands, you should roughly have about eight to ten patties.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the patties and cook them until crispy on both sides.

You can serve this dish with tomato sauce or tzaziki.

Lemon Caper Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients: 6     Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 

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  • 300 gms of brussel sprouts, halved
  • Three tablespoons of salted butter
  • Two tablespoons of chopped continental parsley stems, finely chopped
  • Two teaspoons of capers
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to season

 Begin by steaming the brussel sprouts for about seven to ten minutes until they are soft and keep aside.

Melt butter in a pan, add parsley stems and capers, followed by the steamed brussel sprouts.

Toss the brussel sprouts, making sure the butter coats each of them. Once they are slightly charred season with salt and toss again.

Finally drizzle with lemon juice, give it a final toss and they are ready to serve.

Note for my vegan readers, to make this dish vegan simply replace butter with almond butter or extra virgin olive oil.

Paprika Beans with Goats Cheese

Ingredients: 11     Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

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  • 400 gms of canned red kidney beans
  • 400 gms of diced canned tomatoes
  • One medium-sized onion, finely sliced
  • Two to three garlic pods, coarsely chopped
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese
  • Two teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon of ground cumin powder
  • One teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley to garnish

Heat olive oil in a pan, add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent.

Now add the diced tomatoes followed by smoked paprika, cumin and sugar. Cook this sauce base for five to seven minutes on a medium heat.

Time for the beans, one tip – always rinse canned beans before cooking with them to get rid of all the salt and grime. Add the beans, half a cup of water, cover the pan and cook the beans for seven to ten minutes on a medium heat.

The beans are now ready to serve. Garnish with crumbled goats cheese and fresh parsley. To make this dish vegan simply avoid the goats cheese.

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Next time you have a dinner party and don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen, try out these three lip smackingly delicious under 60 minutes recipes.

For now think of the Mediterranean and get cooking!!!