Thursday, March 31, 2011

Asian-style Egg-white Frittata

For a while it all went swimmingly well, and then, suddenly, not so much.

The first two weeks i cooked and wrote and worked out in a frenzy, with five posts in my blog and four pounds lost to show for it. And then as suddenly as it started, my recipes were backfiring, my diet went out of the window and the pounds stopped coming off. And as if it could get any worse, last night, I sat up and gobbled down a full can of dulce de leche (which I'd made myself!- talk about digging your own grave! huh!) and then had nightmares of calorie monsters proliferating like cancer cells inside my body. Yeah, obsessed is the word.

But today, a marathon of motivating, mood-uplifting food movies later, I'm back on track. Fried Green Tomatoes, Julie and Julia, Eat Drink Man Woman... Permanent fixtures on my DVD rack that I'll never tire of watching! Not only does it have some crazy-delectable food scenes , but the overall feel-goodness of these movies are impossible to ignore! Seriously, go watch them right now, if you haven't already! Also, do let me know of your favourite food movies so that i can watch them as well! :)

Anyways. Without further ado... the recipe for the day - Asian Egg-white Frittata

Okay, so, i just wanted an excuse to use my latest pride and joy in the kitchen - my brand new cast iron skillet. Or maybe i didn't know what do with all that stuff i brought home after going crazy in the Asian aisle of the supermarket last week.

Whatever it might be, the result, i have to say, with all modesty, is RIDONKULOUSLY good! And not to mention, a weight watcher's dream. So healthy, and so friggin' tasty. Its almost unreal. 

Asian flavour base : the usual suspects - Thai green chillies, lemon grass, shallots, spring onion, ginger (if you manage to get galangal, thats the best, i didn't, so i had to make do with ginger) and garlic.

Some shitake mushrooms, soft tofu and spinach.

And finally, eight egg whites seasoned with salt and pepper. ( i was tempted to add some thick coconut milk to add to the Asian tropical flavour and make the frittata more creamy, but decided against it and stuck to the healthier version)

I served it with some Chinese dipping sauce I'd made for a party earlier. But ketchup would do. And chances are that you'd have three quarters of it directly from the pan, before you remember to take the sauce out of the fridge. It's that delicious.

Asian-style Egg-white Frittata

8 egg whites
1 sprig of lemon grass
1 sprig spring onion
2 shallots/button onions
1 inch piece ginger (or galangal, if you can lay your hands on it)
1 clove garlic
3 green chillies
3/4 cup shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup soft tofu
1 bunch of spinach
1 table spoon oil (i used peanut oil, but you can use whatever you have in your kitchen)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Finely chop the ginger, garlic, shallots, green onion and lemon grass

3. Wipe mushrooms clean and slice them into medium sized pieces (Never wash mushrooms- they get all waterlogged n mushy!) Wash spinach and julienne into thin strips. Crumble tofu into bite sized pieces

4. Heat the oil in your skillet/pan and add the chopped ginger, garlic, onion and lemon grass. Saute for a minute or two.

5. Add mushrooms and saute till brown. Then, add spinach and saute till they are wilted

6. In the meantime, separate egg whites from the yolks, add salt and pepper, and whisk well until mixed properly.

7.Once the mushroom and spinach are done, add the whisked egg whites to the skillet. Gently stir the contents (without scraping the bottom) so that the mushroom, spinach and the rest of the ingredients and scattered evenly through the frittata.

8. Cover the skillet with foil, place it in the middle rack of your oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, so that the top is lightly browned.

9. Slice and serve warm.

[PS: I've made frittatas before i had an oven- all you have to do is close the pan with its lid and reduce the flame to a minimum after adding the egg whites, so that the frittata cooks evenly. The bottom might getting a little over-browned and crispy, but thats tasty too! ]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Heartbreak, and Hasselback Potatoes

For one shining moment, I thought - dream job, dream company, dream city. This was it. The proverbial turning point of my life, that one single moment when the stars aligned themsleves perfectly in my favour, and everything in the universe conspired to offer me my dream in a silver platter.

Turns out, it wasnt.

I don't know what's worse - The run-up to the big event, the anything-is-possible moment, when, even as the more sensible half your brain is telling you to hope for the best but expect the worst, the other half is racing forward, already foreseeing a future of glittering possibilites, of that coveted position in a prestigious organisation, of the perks, the money, the apartment, the vacations.... Or the moment immediately after, when your heart is sinking rapidly like a dead weight,  when you suddenly realise, this is not going to work out after all. Not this time, atleast. And that for all the time you spent expecting the worst, and preparing yourself for this moment, the disappointment is way too difficult to bear.

 It is times like these that you need some serious TLC.  Some tight hugging, some hand-holding and some good ol' comfort food. Some carb-ridden, crispy- creamy, garlicky goodness. Like some amazing Hasselback Potatoes right here.

They are Swedish, I'm told. And pretty darn good-looking, might I add. And super delicious too. Not to mention, absolutely easy and hassle-free to make. Just what you want at the end of long, hard day.

It  starts with our humble friend, the big fat gnarly potato getting a much-needed scrub up. Really, we are going to be keeping the skin in this recipe, so go ahead and scrub away until it looks bright and spanking new, like this!

And then, out comes the garlic. Two cloves, cleaned, peeled and sliced very very thin. As thin as you can manage without slicing your fingers away too.

Cut a thin slice off the base of the potato so that it  can rest securely without wobbling about. Slice across the potatoes without going completely through, until you have thin slices of potatoes all connected at the base. Shove garlic slices in between the potato slices.

Place the potato on a baking sheet, drizzle generously ( roughly a tablespoon each) with olive oil and butter, rain down some salt and pepper and thrust it into an oven preheated to 425 degrees F.

Bake for an hour (basting the potato with the oil-butter mixture in the sheet every twenty minutes or so) until the potato goes tender and the skin becomes super-crispy. I had it with homemade coriander-pistachio pesto. Now, how bad can that be?

Hasselback Potatoes
(Recipe adapted from Purple Foodie)

1 large potato
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F

Scrub and clean potato thorughly

Thinly slice the two cloves of garlic

Slice off a small part of the potato's base so that it stands still without rolling about. Slice across the potato without going through completely so that you get close thin slices that are connected to the base.

Wedge the garlic slices in between the potato layers

Flavour with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and butter

Bake for one hour, or till the potato becomes tender and the skin gets crispy. Basting the potato with the melted olive oil butter mixture every twenty minutes or so would help in enhancing the buttery taste of the potato.

Coriander-Pistachio Pesto 

1 large bunch of coriander

3 cloves of garlic (I like mine very garlicky, you could do the same with two cloves!)

1/4 cup of pistachios

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor and once it is ground to a homogenous mixture drizzle the olive oil slowly into the jar with motor still running.  Take it out of the jar, taste and add more salt/pepper if needed.  



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rosemary-Balsamic Carrots

There's a ton of stuff to be done.

The house is in a mess, the clothes basket is overflowing, and the dryer hasn't been emptied of its last load yet. Facebook messages to be replied to, job applications to be sent and half-written blogspots to take care of.  GMAT practice tests, conveniently forgotten. Library book, past due date. Gym, skipped.

And then, there is dinner to be taken care of. Is there anything worse that cooking a solitary dinner for yourself? No one to keep company, no one share, and no one to take the first bite and go "mmmm!".

I couldn't get myself to slave over the stovetop for a dinner all for myself. So, i threw a bunch of carrots into the oven instead, and  hoped that it come out good.

It did.

Roasted Balsamic Carrots

First, of course, comes the carrots... peeled and cut to identical-sized pieces.

Then comes the flavours...Extra virgin olive oil, a splash of good old balsamic vinegar, a dusting of dried rosemary and ground cumin, along with salt and pepper to taste

Mix it up nice and thrust it into an over preheated to 375F. 20-25 minutes, and you have a miracle in your hands!

PS: And like any other recipe, this is just a starting point for your imagination to take off. As Jamie Oliver summarized so succinctly in fabulous show, all it takes to roast root veggies is Oil+Acid+Herb+Salt+Pepper. Mix n match different kinds of vinegar/ lemon juice/ orange juice with any kind of herbs and spices (rosemary/thyme/oregano/cumin/coriander), and I promise, you'd have a winner any which way!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bean Sprouts Sandwich

There is something about sprouting beans that makes me feel incredibly cold-blooded.

They are these hardy little buggers when you first meet. You soak them in water and wait all night until they go all soft on you. And then, more moisture, more tender loving care, until they are ready to sprout into these fragile minuscule little plantlings. It's intense, you know. Like watching someone giving birth. And then -you sit down and chomp them down by the mouthful.

See what I mean? Or is it just me? Did i just gross you out?

Anyways, moving on....Tomatoes.

This might be the time to add a little disclaimer here. Don't get me wrong, i love tomatoes. I love them roasted, cooked, sun-dried, mashed, sauced, ketchup-ed and in any possible form, but raw. There is just something about red, fresh, juicy tomatoes that makes my taste buds want to revolt and throw up in agony.

So, make that oven-roasted-till-they-are-shrivelled-and-dead tomatoes.Dry caramalized goodness. Yum!

I'd had this vision of a delicate and dainty canapĂ©, an assemblage of bean sprouts, dressed down with  lemon juice, salt and pepper, resting on a slice of perfectly roasted tomato. Ideal finger food for a kitty party. Or a book club meeting. Or wherever bored ladies congregate,try to eat without messing their lipstick, and drink wine with their pinkie finger sticking out.

And lovely it was, except that it took me five full minutes to try and transport it to the near vicinity of my mouth without squishing the tomato and dropping my carefully assembled sprouts all over my face. So much for lady-like pursuits.

A quick change of plans. The aforementioned canapé, now sandwiched between two slices of Mumbai Pav, topped with a dollop of -hold your breath- pomegranate raita! The sweet bite of the pomegranate and creaminess of greek yogurt with the lemony mouthful of sprouts -Stroke of genius, if i may say so myself! :)

One perfect bite!

Bean Sprouts Sandwich

Moth beans, sprouted


Lemon Juice

Coriander leaves

Greek yogurt/ hung curd

Fresh pomegranate

1.Soak moth beans overnight, drain excess water and keep moist until they sprout.

2.Slice tomatoes that throw them into the oven at 400F until they are roasted completely

3.Toss sprouted beans with lemon juice, salt, pepper and oodles of finely chopped coriander

4.For the yogurt dressing, add pomegranate seeds to greek yogurt. (Squeeze some of the pomegranate so as to release some of its fresh juices into the curd) Season with salt, pepper and chat masala (optional).

5. Stack up the layers between the slices of a halved bun/pav and take a wholesome bite!

Note:I haven't given exact measurements as this is such a forgiving recipe that you can hardly go wrong. Add, subtract or replace ingredients and flavour more or less according to your taste. It'll be great anyways! :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orange- Mint Cucumber Salad

Okay! Here we are, Day 1 of my big fat MakeOver!

Of course, i wanted something super-special for the first day... So, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the superbly cool, incredibly charming...

CUCUMBER! (Drumroll, please!)

Oh! no, no, please don't go deflating like a balloon on me, you really have no idea how cool a vegetable this is, both literally and metaphorically!

I've heard cucumbers being praised to the heavens and then dragged down to the pits by nutritionists and weight watchers, and I do admit it that its more or less just plain H20 in there, with limited nutritional value, but what I adore this cutie veggie for is that it is the perfect blank canvas to just load the flavours on! Stack it up between two slices of bread or stir it up with some thai peanut sauce, anything and everything goes well with the humble Mr Cucumber!

And while we are at it, why don't we dress him up with some orange juice? A dash of mustard for spice? And of course, a sprinkling of mint to keep it fresh and clean.

Now, how bad can that be..

Pair it with spicy curry, rich meat or flavoured rice- But for weight-watching me, its going to be a huge bowl of it for dinner tonight! :D

Orange-Mint Cucumber Salad
Medium Sized cucumbers - 2
Orange Juice* (Fresh juice or bottled) -1/4 cup
Yellow Mustard -1 tbsp.
Honey -2 teaspoons
Salt -I tsp.
Pepper -1 tsp.
Mint leaves –I bunch
Chop cucumber into thin even slices and keep aside
Mix rest of the ingredients well together and add salt and pepper to taste.
(To make this a vinaigrette, drizzle extra virgin oil slowly into the dressing while whisking in quickly with the other hand so that an emulsion is formed)
Pour the dressing into the bottom of the serving bowl and add sliced cucumbers on top.
Finish off with a good amount of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
Mix well and serve! :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fighting the Fat Demons!

If you've ever come by my Blogger Dashboard before, you'd know that this blog has been around for ages. It was created on a particularly busy day at work, the kind of day when deadlines are whooshing past like cars on a freeway and there is so much work to be accomplished that anything else seems more inviting than the immediate job at hand. Plus, opening a blog required peering intently into my monitor and hammering into my keyboard, and from where my boss sat, it really looked like i was doing hard work! :)

But blame it on ADD, procrastination or just plain laziness, this baby has led a still-born existence ever since, with not a single post to its credit. I'd work up the enthusiasm to try out something in the kitcchen, click pictures, jot down the details of the recipe in fly-by bits of paper, but somehow the interest would fizzle out before it worked its way into a proper blog post. So why now, you ask? 

Well, apart from the fact that (i) I’m unemployed and have so much time in my hands that I don’t know what to do with it (ii) I’ve been following some incredible blogs that make me want to write again, and that (iii) I’m suddenly having guilt pangs for being in possession of having a perfectly good blogger url that is just being wasted away, I’ve also have had an epiphany of sorts. That I'm at the quarter-century milestone of my life, past the angst-ridden teens, past the age of confusion, when I should be completely and totally in control of my life and finally enjoying life, doing things that I love to do- Except that i don't. I've been trying to lose weight for ages, and I'm still fat. I've been trying to decide what i want to do with the rest of my life; but I’m still stuck in limbo. I never give my 100% to anything, I’m too lazy. So, this blog is going to be my online journal as I go in for a makeover. For a much overdue Operation Clean Up and Start Over. For getting a grip on my life.

So, here's the deal- Fifteen pounds to be lost in two months and a new healthy recipe every other day. Sort of like a Julie/Julia project (not surprising, as I’ve seen the movie only a million times!), but a low-cal fat-free version, if you please!

Wish me luck!