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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Four Delectable Wheat Meat Dishes

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

Gluten has strongly polarized the current generation of food-loving folks. Depending on who we talk to, either gluten is the root cause of all evil and ailment, to be censured and possibly banned from diets; or, gluten is quite an essential part of a nutritionally-balanced meal that includes optimal whole grains which provide a rich array of vitamins and minerals.

Celiac disease is very real. Research connecting diabetes and gluten is well published. And, many seem to have high sensitivity to gluten in their diet, even if not diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Over the past few years, after staying gluten-free months at a time, switching to quinoa, millet, amaranth, brown rice for weeks a stretch, it seems to make no significant difference to the folks at home. So, I've made peace with gluten for now, promising to revisit the issue in a year or so. 

I am not a nutritionist, but, I do believe in consuming as much natural, primarily-vegetarian foods as possible with minimal processing -- leaning towards fresher,  homemade options than conveniently packaged heavily processed foods. As to going grain-free? I am still researching and experimenting.

Anyway, all that is to segue into these 4 delectable vegetarian recipes for using homemade wheat meat. 

Every once in a while, I make a batch of  wheat meat with variations in flavor and cooking methods just to see if this is still tolerated by our digestive systems. Since it stores well in the fridge and freezer, I can use a little at a time incorporating it in a variety of dishes.

I. Wheat Meat Bulgogi with pickled ginger

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

Nothing much to it. Instead of beef, which we don't eat, simply slice the wheat meat and toss with other ingredients like, pickled ginger strips, pickled carrots and beets, julienned summer squash and cucumbers, thinly sliced onions soaked in vinegar,

II. Wheat Meat Crumble Burritos

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

Cut up the wheat meat chunks into smaller pieces and run it in a food processor to make a coarse crumble. Saute some onions, bell peppers, tomatoes along with the crumble, add some Taco seasoning and there you have it.

III. Wheat Meat Fajitas

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

Similar principle as above, but just thinly cut them to strips along with peppers and onions.

Homemade corn tortillas fresh off the griddle makes this interesting.

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

IV. Wheat Meat Meatballs

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

Since wheat meat is already cooked and ready to go, simply crumble it in a blender, then add egg and wet slice of bread for binding. Either bake or pan cook till it has a crusty outside and firm enough that it can hold its shape well in the sauce.

wheat meat delectable victuals vegetarian bulgogi fajita meatball

Other wheat meat dishes shared earlier:

Wheat Meat Pot Roast

Wheat Meat Philly Cheesesteak

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Halibut with Kolhapuri Thecha Fish Curry

Halibut with Kolhapuri Thecha Fish Curry

Kolhapur is a region in Maharashtra, India, known for many wonderful temples and palaces, botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuary, and not the least of all the inimitable Kolhapuri Chappal - sandals that were my weakness as a youngster, I couldn't have enough of them.

Kolhapuri Thecha is this fiery chili concoction that can double as a sauce/paste as well as chutney/dip.

Here, in Halibut with Kolhapuri Thecha, I use it as a rub and cooking sauce which is not for the weak-stomached or the weak-kneed eater.

There's habañero and ghost pepper, which just rip the insides out for me so I stay away from them; but I enjoy jalapeño and Serrano just fine, in small doses. I went a little easy on the red chilies with this Thecha but adjust the heat to your taste. The other adult in the house relishes way more heat than I can handle, so, I enjoy making this once in a while, not often.

Simply rub the halibut chunks with this, and, add it to the sauteing veggies as well to layer the flavor in this simple fish curry. There is still some pristine Alaskan fish that the other adult caught over summer that I wanted to cook up in an interesting way.

This Red Chili thecha can be made with fresh red chilies, or even green chilies. Simply roast the chilies first to enhance the flavor. I went with using dry red chilies as they were handy.

For Kolhapuri Thecha:
8 dry red chilies
8 large garlic cloves
½ medium onion, diced (optional)
2 Tbsp dry roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Halibut or other favorite fish cut into chunks
Vegetables - red bell peppers, red onions, red tomatoes - chopped
a few Tbsp vegetable oil as needed
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds


  1. Soak the dry red chilies in the lemon juice and a little bit of warm water to reconstitute it for grinding
  2. Combine the Kolhapuri thecha ingredients and grind to a fine paste, including the soaking lemon water
  3. Rub the fish chunks with some of the thecha paste, reserving some for cooking
  4. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, when they pop, add the cumin seeds, then add the remaining thecha paste, saute for a few minutes till oil separates
  5. Add the chopped veggies, stir well, and saute till veggies soften a bit
  6. Then add in the fish chunks rubbed with the chili thecha, splash some water as needed, cover and cook till fish is done -- internal temperature is about 145 °F and is flaky and opaque
  7. Serve warm with a side of rice

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bisi Bela Huli Millet

millet bisi bele bath bela huli vegetarian indian delectable victuals

"Bisi bela huli anna" translates to "hot lentils tamarind rice" in Kannada, a typical vegetarian dish that is out of this world when done right. Instead of the "anna" which is the rice part, this dish is made with millet.

This may not be the conventional method of preparation here, but, this is what I like to do: Simply add the chopped veggies, lentils, millet, tamarind paste, spices, salt to taste, in a pressure cooker, with enough water to cook it through. When cooked and ready, add some fresh tempering and garnish, and serve hot, with a generous dripping of ghee.

Most of the time, I use my home-made Sambar powder for the spice mix and flavoring, but this time I went with store-bought mix of spice powders that are easier to find at the local grocery stories.

Pressure cooker:
3 cups assorted chopped veggies: eggplant, onions, squash, peppers, broccoli stems, carrots (optional: peas)
½ cup Tuvar dal (split pigeon peas)
1.5 cups pearl millet
2 Tablespoons tamarind concentrate (I use Vietnamese Sour Soup Mix)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red hot chili powder (optional)
salt to taste
enough water to immerse the contents and build up pressure - about 5 cups

Garnish: ghee-roasted cashews

¼ tsp urad dal
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp mustard seeds
3 or 4 curry leaves
1 tsp vegetable oil


  1. Pressure cook: Combine the ingredients for the pressure cooker and cook till done; the cooked dish will be mushy with a porridge-like consistency
  2. Tempering: Heat oil in a small pan, add urad dal and allow it to turn a mild golden brown, add the mustard seeds and let them pop; cover with a perforated lid if preferred as the mustard seeds will spatter all over when they pop; add the fresh curry leaves, remove from heat and add to the bisi bela huli millet from the pressure cooker
  3. Garnish: Heat some ghee in a small pan and roast some unsalted raw cashews till golden brown, toss in Curry leaves if available

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Friday, November 04, 2016

Millet Meal Polenta Patties

millet meal polenta cakes kozhakattai delectable victuals blog vegetarian fusion

Pearl millet ground up to a coarse meal is something I keep handy. It works great as a substitute for rice meal in some of the Indian dishes. This time, equal parts millet meal and corn meal came together with a dollop of ground lentils to make this polenta.

In case this is sounding complicated, the recipe is very close to Arisi Upma Kozhakattai, only, instead of 2 cups of rice idlee rava as called for in that recipe, I substituted 1 cup millet meal, plus 1 cup corn meal.

Once the thick porridge-like Upma/Polenta is made, roll into a log and pack it in foil, refrigerate it till it sets. I left it in the fridge the previous night, then cooked it for dinner the following evening.

Simply slice up this log when ready, pan cook both sides till brown and the insides are warm. Dust the slices with some chickpea flour before pan-frying to get the extra crispness and brownness, if preferred.

Saute some onions, peppers, tomatoes, and any other favorite veggies. Serve these Millet Meal Polenta Patties topped with the veggies, some feta, plus chopped kale, chopped celery leaves, and chopped spring onions.

Since some yellow pear tomatoes, red cherry tomatoes, kale, and spring onions are still alive in my home garden, now in mid-Autumn, I went with these, but, any combination of veggies would work just as well.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Kohlrabi Daikon Slaw with Bits of Dates and Sunflower Seeds

Kohlrabi Daikon Slaw with Bits of Dates and Sunflower Seeds

I think the titles sums up this dish quickly, nothing more to write...

Julienne some kohlrabi, Daikon radish, carrots, and thinly slice some red onions. Toss together with a quick homemade dressing and serve fresh.

Of late, I am addicted to the chopped dates rolled in oat flour - my mum-in-law gave me a giant 4 pound container of it. I've been making Date-tamarind chutney for Bhel puri with it, adding it to oatmeal and salads... it's been fun to try and use these sweet treats in different dishes.

Thanks to heavy rainfall, my Kale is still doing fine in the home garden; the onions have sprung up with these lovely shoots, reminding me of Spring when it is just mid-Autumn. Some Lemon drop chilies are still hanging on to the plant as well.

2.5 to 3 cups of julienned veggies - Daikon, Kohlrabi, Carrots, Onions
(Optional: Thinly slice one lemon drop chili and add it as garnish if the eater is up for it)
¼ to ⅓ cup chopped dates (rolled in oat flour)
¼ cup roasted seasoned sunflower seeds

2 Tbsp thick plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 tsp Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Baby kale leaves
thinly sliced lemon drop chilies
chopped spring onions

Whisk or blend the dressing ingredients, toss in with the slaw and serve garnished.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stuffed Ridge Gourd Curry

Stuffed Ridge Gourd Curry

Ridge gourd looks rather unappealing and a bit spiky, like cactus, but is one of my favorites in the cucumber family. Not for its inherent flavor or properties, but for its skin/peel. Ridge Gourd Peel Chutney is incredibly delicious, perfect for stirring into a bowl of steaming brown basmati rice with a spot of ghee and enjoying the simple earthy goodness.

Stuffed Ridge Gourd Curry

This time, while the peel still got made into chutney, the innards/flesh got made into something a bit more exotic than my usual koottu, which is a south Indian lentils-based coconut-cumin sauce.

Simply slit and stuff 2-inch pieces of peeled ridge gourd with spice paste, much like Stuffed Eggplant curry. Then cook in a favorite gravy/sauce.

Serve warm with rotis, naans, parathas, or cooked millet.

Stuffed Ridge Gourd Curry

About 6 2-inch pieces of peeled and slit ridge gourd, ready for stuffing
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

For the Spice paste:
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt to taste

For the curry sauce:
¼ cup vegetable stock
¼ cup mirepoix - finely chopped celery, onions, garlic
1 or 2 Anaheim peppers, sliced thin
½ medium onion sliced thin
remainder of the spice paste after slitting and stuffing
salt to taste


  1. Stir the spice paste well and keep handy for stuffing
  2. Slit the ridge gourd pieces just enough so they are intact at one end and can be parted at the other to stuff with the spice paste
  3. Stuff the ridge gourd pieces and keep handy
  4. Heat oil in a pan and add the sliced onions and Anaheim peppers, plus the mirepoix and the remaining spice paste from stuffing; saute till aromatic
  5. Gently arrange the stuffed ridge gourd pieces in the pan, add the vegetable stock (and water as needed), cover and cook undisturbed on medium low heat; turn the ridge gourd pieces periodically to cook all sides evenly
  6. Finish cooking uncovered till the ridge gourd is soft and cooked through and flavorful
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with naan or paratha

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Sunday, October 09, 2016

Kohlrabi and Green Papaya Thoran

Kohlrabi and Green Papaya Thoran

Thoran is typically just a dry dish made using coconut and green chilies that are ground up and stir-fried with steamed veggies, topped with tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves. Many of the vegetarian South Indian recipes here are based on this basic thoran.

Green Papaya and Kohlrabi don't have the same texture but they go well together when cooked, especially in this simple form.

4 cups finely diced green papaya and kohlrabi, peeled first
¼ cup dry grated coconut
3 green chilies, coarsely chopped
½ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
4 to 6 curry leaves (Murraya Koenigii) torn to small bits
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Cook the kohlrabi + green papaya with enough water and salt till it is cooked through but not mushy, and no excess water remains (drain if needed)
  2. Meanwhile, combine the green chilies and coconut in a blender and grind to a fine powdery paste
  3. Tempering: Heat the tablespoon of oil in a small pan, when shimmering add the mustard seeds, when they pop add the cumin seeds and torn curry leaves, turn off heat and keep handy
  4. When the veggies are cooked through and dry, stir in the coconut+chilies, then top with the tempering
  5. Stir well and serve as a side with brown rice or even flax-and-whole-wheat roti

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Lab-Lab Beans aka Hyacinth Beans Chundal

Lab-Lab Beans aka Hyacinth Beans Chundal sundal navarathri

Chundal ('ch' as in chair, not choir) is a specialty around Navarathri time - the nine nights, ten days long Indian festival going on right now. Each of the nine evenings, a different chundal is on the menu along with a sweet dish.

Almost all beans and pulses and lentils are fair game for making this style of chundal, referred to as sundal by most Tamilians. Black chickpeas, green chickpeas, chickpeas, dried peas,  kidney beans, white navy beans, black turtle beans, black-eyed peas, as well as the top favorite Lab-lab beans aka hyacinth beans aka mochakottai.

Soak the dried lab-lab beans overnight. Drain and pressure cook with salt till cooked but not mushy. This is the tricky part as lab-lab beans is pretty tough to cook quickly. Sometimes, I've had to pressure cook it twice to get the right consistency - firm to the touch and holding shape, but soft melt-in-the-mouth texture when eaten.

Fairly quick and easy to make, with the main flavoring coming from tempering*, plus grated ginger and green chilies, this is a low-fat protein-rich snack that kids enjoy at home.

*Tempering: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, add a teaspoon of urad dal; when it turns golden brown, add mustard seeds; when they pop, add some cumin seeds, torn curry leaves, grated ginger and finely sliced green chilies. Add in the cooked lab-lab beans, adjust salt to taste and serve warm. Optionally, fresh grated coconut can be stirred in as well.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Sprouted Whole Green Mung Bean Salad

Sprouted Whole Green Mung Bean Salad Sprouted fenugreek

Sprouted lentils and beans come about often in my kitchen. At least once a week, a batch of it will be sprouting (unless I get lazy and skip a few weeks, of course), ready to be sprinkled on salads and wraps.

Adding a handful of fenugreek seeds along with lentils or beans to sprout is one of my favorites. Sprouted fenugreek brings a good amount of fiber, iron, and fantastic quality protein.

Of course, there is always the risk of harmful bacteria like salmonella and E.coli if the sprouts are not treated with care, but, the method I've been using so far seems to work all right.

Sprouted Whole Green Mung Bean Salad Sprouted fenugreek

In a glass jar, soak the moong beans and fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Drain and rinse, with as little touch by hands as possible. Place a piece of clean cheese cloth or netting on the mouth of the jar, and screw the jar ring in place. Allow to sit undisturbed in a cool dry place for 2 days, making sure to rinse and drain at least once a day to keep it moist and cool. No handling needed.

Once the sprouts are as mature as you prefer, simply drain well and refrigerate for daily use. I make it into this favorite salad right away and store the salad in the fridge. This makes a fantastic filler for wraps and pita pockets.

Sprouted Whole Green Mung Bean Salad Sprouted fenugreek

¼ cup finely diced cucumber
¼ cup finely diced onions
¼ cup finely diced raw mango
¼ cup finely diced colorful red/yellow/orange bell peppers
¼ cup finely diced firm tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
¼ cup finely chopped clean, fresh coriander leaves aka cilantro
2 medium green chilies, chopped finely (optional)
2 cups loosely packed mung bean and fenugreek sprouts
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste

Stir well and enjoy!

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Chickpea & Coconut Flour Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Chickpea flour Coconut Flour savory Pancake

Last of the home-garden zucchini was waiting to be used. It felt like a pancake kind of day. Not the boring old flour-and-eggs kind served with butter and syrup. But, the loaded-with-veggies savory kind that I've passed off as "pancakes" since kids' infancy.

For the longest time, both kids rejected the traditional pancakes; and, when offered at friends' place the morning after her first sleepover, the then 6 year old came home and wondered why the pancake she was offered was so buttery, soggy, and sweet.

No surprise, as the title says it all, these are griddle pan cakes made with a mix of chickpea flour and coconut flour that has been infused with a generous amount of grated zucchini.

Since the batter is easy to make, I did not measure it out with any precision. Just a bit more of chickpea flour than coconut flour, salt, turmeric, chili powder, plus grated zucchini, and enough water to make the batter thick.

Served with spicy herb green dip and sweet-sour red dip, plus a dollop of thick plain Greek yogurt, these zucchini pancakes get polished off quickly, much like... hot (pan) cakes.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Verum Arisi Adai

Verum Arisi Adai palakkad cuisine flatbread griddle-cake

Verum Arisi Adai translates to just Plain Rice Adai, a Palakkad specialty. Among the various Adais -  thick, griddle-cooked pancake-like flatbread - this Verum Arisi Adai is my only favorite. This is more my mom's specialty, and I didn't used to make it often.

It is a fairly thick adai, even up to a quarter inch thick, and needs to cook over medium-low heat for enough time so insides are not raw. My mom usually makes 3 or 4 "holes" on the surface and drops some oil in to help with crisping the surface.

My favorite additives to the plain rice adai batter are: chopped greens like kale, beet greens, spinach, grated carrots, finely diced onions, finely chopped coconut, whole black pepper, coriander and curry leaves. Of course, not all of these at the same time - that would just overload the adai.

Verum Arisi Adai palakkad cuisine flatbread griddle-cake

Soak 2 cups red par-boiled rice overnight (with 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds), grind it to a coarse batter that is thick, with very little water; should be able to scoop a handful, roll it into a ball so it will still hold its shape on its own. This batter tastes better when allowed to ferment overnight with natural wild yeast fermentation, no additives.

However, since I don't get the traditional variety of rice here, and since I don't want to go to the trouble of soaking and grinding the long grain rice batter just for me, I have this alternate recipe using coarse rice meal like for Arisi Upma Kozhakattai.

  1. Soak required amount of Coarse ricemeal (also sold as Rice Idlee Rava in Indian stores), grind it with just enough water to make a thick paste; and allow it to ferment overnight 
  2. When ready to make the adais, add a tad bit of rice flour if the batter is too brittle and breaks apart when made into adai; the flour seems to help keep it together;
  3. Add in grated carrots or kale or onion or any other favorite veggies, adjust salt to taste, and cook on a medium hot pan on both sides till cooked through
  4. Serve with favorite chutneys or pickles; I serve it with pickled beets
While the original par-boiled rice Verum Arisi Adai will be just fine no matter how long after getting out of the pan, this quick short-cut method adai has to be eaten hot off the pan as it can get quite hard ("jaw-breaker") if allowed to cool down. It is very filling - just 2 medium sized (5" diameter) Verum Arisi Adai makes a big brunch.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Arisi Upma Kozhakattai

Arisi Upma Kozhakattai

These steamed coarse ricemeal balls, Arisi Upma Kozhakattai, is my mom's specialty. She whips up a batch or two in no time at all and it is an all-day kind of meal - breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, these taste good with suitable chutneys and dips.

Now, the recipe is my mom's, so, the measurements are not precise; which suits me fine as I rarely measure the ingredients before I cook.

Basically, coarse rice meal, "arisi ravai" or "rice idlee rava" as sold in Indian stores, is coarse ground raw rice about the texture of coarse cornmeal. It is versatile in south Indian tiffin/snack dishes.

This rice meal is cooked in water with some salt and oil to a fairly thick consistency - like the standard Upma - so as to be able to take a handful and shape into egg-shaped balls. Then, steamed gently and served hot with chutneys on the side. Alternately, I've tried this with leftover thick polenta shaped into ovoids and steamed as well.

During my fledgling days of pottering about in the kitchen, I often goofed up and made the upma too thick so that after steaming, they became hard as rocks, making my dad nickname them hand grenades. But, I think I've learnt a thing or two since then, so, am happy to make this dish whenever the mood calls for it.

2 cups rice idlee rava
½ cup dry grated coconut
4-5 cups hot water (more or less)
salt to taste

tempering: 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2-3 dry red chilies (broken)

optional: ¼ cup toor dal, soaked for 2-3 hours and ground to a fine paste

  1. Heat oil in a pan and when shimmering add the mustard seeds, when they pop, add the dry red chilies, then add the hot water, some salt, and bring it to a boil
  2. Slowly add the rice meal while stirring constantly so as to not form any lumps
  3. Add the dry grated coconut and the toor dal paste, if using and stir till well incorporated
  4. Adjust salt to taste, cover and cook on low heat till all the water is absorbed and the rice idlee rava is cooked through and comes together to a medium-thick scoopable consistency
  5. Allow to cool a bit so it is easier to handle, and scoop a handful of it and form little oval balls
  6. Steam them in idlee cooker or other simple steamer apparatus for about 8-10 minutes
  7. Serve warm with chutneys like mint chutney or curry leaf chutney, or my favorite ridge gourd peel chutney

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Home-garden Apple Pie Crumble with Oats and Chex

Home-garden Apple Pie Crumble with Oats and Chex

Yet another Apple Pie Crumble, with Oats and Cinnamon Chex™ for the crunchy topping. Standard single crust pie crust recipe that I always use for the home-made pies. Why Cinnamon Chex? The crunch from it is the latest family obsession for home-made crumbles.

The solitary capricious little apple tree managed to bear enough fruits for Codling moth and us.

Home-garden Apple Pie Crumble with Oats and Chex

Jars of apple sauce got made and canned. 

Home-garden Apple Pie Crumble with Oats and Chex

(Hard) Apple Cider came about thanks to the home-made wooden apple press.

Home-garden Apple Pie Crumble with Oats and Chex

Mini Caramel apples got made as well, when the older child felt like it. Which was pretty much every other day. As it is easy to make especially with ready-to-melt caramels chips and ready-made toffee crunch, it seemed all right to indulge.

Home-garden Apple Pie Crumble with Oats and Chex

Finally, our neighbors came and got some of the apples (with permission, of course) from our tree, what was left after the pests got some.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Three Ways to Enjoy Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberries

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

The jaded adult that I've become, I have a general idea of what will arrive in my CSA basket each week, depending on the month; and just nod approvingly when my expectations are met.

However, every once in a while, I forget that there are some special gems that come in the CSA basket. Like, these "Ground Cherries" or "Husk Cherries", which are not cherries at all, of course.

Orange pearls inside an Oyster-Lantern!

Generously sweet with a hint of tropical fruit blend, these sprightly cousins of  the more common tomatillos are a treat to be relished.

Known by alluring names like "Cape Gooseberries" and "Poha Berries" these Ground Cherries seemed like the perfect thing to try out some fun recipes while gearing up for Fall and bidding farewell to Summer.

Ground Cherries Relish

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

When something comes so naturally sweet, it lends itself well for quick-cooking relishes and chutneys. This Ground Cherries Relish recipe balances sweet, sour, and spicy, just the way I prefer it.

Some Lemon Drop chilies were ripe in the garden. They start out the usual green and  then turn into this gorgeous bright yellow. Plus some ripe red Thai super chilies were handy. A couple of mini orange bell peppers came into the mix. All in all, a rainbow of colors (minus the ever-challenging blue, of course) thanks to the purple onions.

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

Top a slice of crusty artisan bread with a generous spoonful of this ground cherries relish for a satisfying fall snack. Or, add a dollop to a warm bowl of kedgeree or porridge. Even simply dip favorite wheat crackers in the relish and enjoy.

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

Ground Cherries Relish

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
minced red onions
1 mini red bell pepper chopped
1 mini orange bell pepper chopped
1 or 2 minced lemon drop chilies
1 or 2 minced thai red chilies
1 cup Ground/Husk cherries, husked & washed
salt to taste

Saute the onions, bell peppers, and chilies; then add the cider vinegar, lime juice, and water, allow to simmer gently; toss in the cherries and cook till the relish thickens to a spreadable or scoop-able consistency. Allow to cool and store in fridge for up to a week.

Ground Cherries and Bitter Melon Sambar

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

Very much like my usual Bittermelon Sambar, to which I added some Ground Cherries to give it a boost.

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

As these are delicate fruits, they disintegrate in the sambar if simmered for too long, so, I toss some in towards the end and cook it long enough to meld the flavors while the ground cherries still retain their shape.

Ground Cherries and Asian Pears Salsa Fresca

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

The Asian pear tree in the backyard was weighed down with low-hanging fruits this year. Since they sort of skip a year and can be temperamental depending on the degree of neglect I subject them to, I was thankful for the fruits we got this year.

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

Being sweetish, with a crisp crunch, Asian pears are perfect to snack on. I make pear sauce out of it and can it for later. Birds and wasps and hornets get to these juicy fruits before we do usually, but, since the branches typically get weighed down with fruits, it seems all of us creatures get our share.

Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberrie Three ways to eat

For this Ground Cherry and Asian Pear Salsa Fresca, I went with what's readily available in the garden:
Asian pears
Lemon drop chilies
Onions, and onion shoots
Cherry tomatoes
Red bell peppers
Plus, Ground Cherries, of course

A sprinkling of salt,  a generous dash of McCormick's Original Taco Seasoning, a few drops of lime juice, a splash of Apple cider vinegar, and a driblet of Olive oil is all it takes to get this bowlful of Salsa Fresca.

Three Ways to Enjoy Ground Cherries aka Husk Cherries aka Cape Gooseberries tomatillo salsa fresca

Serve it along with Pan-seared Yelloweye or Herb-Almond-encrusted Halibut Fingers. Or, simply wrap it in crisp lettuce leaf and enjoy a quick and satisfying snack. Stir it in with Angel Hair pasta along with some feta for that virtually-Greek al fresco kind of dining experience. Add it to pancake batter and make some savory pancakes oozing with flavor. I enjoyed it with Dosai and even Verum Arisi Adai recently.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Herb and Almond Encrusted Pan Seared Halibut Fingers

Herb and Almond Encrusted Pan Seared Halibut Fingers

I said, "Holy Bagumba!" emulating Flora, from Flora & Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo, when I came to know about the humongous halibut that the nicer half caught in Alaska. Yes, even accounting for the fact that fishermen tend to exaggerate, the proof was in front of my eyes, I couldn't discount it.

Not being a big fish and seafood fan, the catch-o'-the-day stories don't excite me much personally. But, knowing the health benefits of pristine fish, and knowing how much the rest of the family loves to eat the recent Alaskan catch, and, especially knowing how expensive halibut can be, I am grateful that I get to cook it up for them in as many interesting ways as possible.

These pan-cooked halibut fingers are encrusted with my favorite herb+almond coating. Served in a bed of crisp Romaine hearts, they are perfect as snack; or can be served as a major part of a balanced dinner along with veggies and buckwheat bhaturas.

Herb and Almond Encrusted Pan Seared Halibut Fingers

Some home-garden mint, fennel, oregano plus raw almonds and one Serrano chili got pulsed coarsely, with a dash of salt, to make the crusty coating.

This time, I dredged the halibut in seasoned Pride of the West™ batter mix, then, dipped in lightly beaten eggs, then, pressed onto the herb-almond crumbs to make a firm coating. Then, pan fried in a cast-iron skillet till done.

A simple dish that comes together quickly and is immensely satisfying for the folks at home.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Salmon en Papillote

Salmon en Papillote baked packet chimichurri sauce mint fennel peppers

The nicer adult in the family brought back lovely, pristine Chinook Salmon from his fishing trip in Alaska. Plus, humongous halibut, lean cod, and some yelloweye.

As I was exploring ways to cook the salmon, the ever-popular en papillote appealed to me to be the quick and easy thing.

I would've preferred to slather on some South Indian spices and wrap it in banana leaf and bake it. Maybe next time...

Since this was good-sized skin-on fillet, it was easy to sear the skin first and then cut to portioned pieces for baking.

Salmon en Papillote baked packet chimichurri sauce mint fennel peppers

Although sauce is optional and Salmon-purists may frown upon added flavors, this time the dish was asking for my favorite fresh herbal chimichurri sauce using the fennel, mint, and oregano from the garden. A generous layer of this chimichurri sauce was spread on the salmon.

Salmon en Papillote baked packet chimichurri sauce mint fennel peppers

Some flame-blistered chilies, sliced lemons, fresh fennel leaves, mini red bell peppers, and slivered garlic went into the packet as well.

Parchment paper packets were not fancy, just a rectangular piece that wraps tight and seals, with just enough room to puff up in cooking.

Salmon en Papillote baked packet chimichurri sauce mint fennel peppers

Bake in a 450° F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. I went with longer baking time and the parchment paper browned a bit, but it's all good.

Salmon en Papillote baked packet chimichurri sauce mint fennel peppers

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Friday, September 09, 2016

Yellow Eye Pan-seared with Wild Rice and Blanched Green Beans

Alaskan Wild Yelloweye rockfish Pan-seared with Wild Rice and Blanched Green Beans

The other adult came back from Alaska with a modest catch of pristine fish.

Humongous Halibut was among the catch. As was immaculate Chinook Salmon. Plus lovely lean Cod. These are the only kinds of fish, caught fresh in unspoilt waters, that we like. Some Yelloweye came home as well and I sure won't turn up my nose on them either, especially when I know the source and the work that went into catching them and bringing them home for us.

The good part is, it was all cleaned and cut and vacuum sealed and frozen, ready for storing and using over the next few months.

And, yes, I had to ask if the fish suffered much, trying to make peace with the handful he brought home, talking to the frozen packets as if they were alive, thanking them for nourishing us.

Although we don't eat much of ocean's bounty, these few above are the best of the best so am glad to have them.

Alaskan Wild Yelloweye rockfish Pan-seared with Wild Rice and Blanched Green Beans

This is a no-fuss pan-seared yelloweye rockfish dish. Quite a mouthful there.

The fish was marinated in ginger-garlic paste. Then pressed on to seasoned coating and pan-seared in my trusty cast iron skillet to seal and brown the sides, then covered a cooked till the insides were done to flaky tenderness.

Wild rice was cooked in the rice cooker with some garden herbs and aromatic spices. Green beans were blanched to crisp-tender perfection.

Alaskan Wild Yelloweye rockfish Pan-seared with Wild Rice and Blanched Green Beans

Some blistered mild chilies are a fantastic accompaniment for the fish, with some lemon slices and sauteed onions.

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