Cooking Class for the Newcomers-Encore Club of Short Hills and Millburn

Cooking Class for the Newcomers-Encore Club of Short Hills and Millburn

FullSizeRender (12)

The Newcomers-Encore Club is a social club open to all residents of Short Hills and Millburn, no matter how long they’ve lived in the area. The Club organizes various fun events and activities through out the year for its members.

FullSizeRender (14)

One of my good friends Neetu Salhotra approached me with an idea for offering a cooking class for the Newcomers group. I agreed and we both exchanged a few ideas and emails to come up with the following menu for the group.

  1. Quinoa with roasted Cauliflower, Cranberries and Walnuts
  2. Curried Brussel Sprouts with Paneer and Bell Pepper
  3. Lentil pudding

I printed recipe cards and handed it to everyone. There was a lovely group of 10 wonderfully enthusiastic people ready to whip up these dishes. I split them into groups of 2 and they were so good at following the recipe and carrying out their tasks like chopping/ cooking/ seasoning/ garnishing-that we finished the class right on time for all of them to taste the dishes that they cooked as a team.

It was interesting that they all had one thing in common to tell me that they learnt a few new ingredients that they used in the class-

  1. Freshly ground garam masala
  2. Fresh coriander seeds
  3. Fresh cardamom seeds for the pudding
  4. “Jaggery” for the pudding- it is a healthier substitute for sugar
  5. Dried Fenugreek leaves for brussel sprout dish

IMG_2532

 

I think it is extremely gratifying to know that people have a nice take away from the class apart from learning to cook couple dishes -in this case- introduction to a set of new ingredients that they werent used to cooking with and now are willing to incorporate in their everyday cooking:)

I am very grateful to all of you and always appreciate the team effort that leads to such wonderful cooking experiences with beautiful people like you.

Stay tuned for more events coming up soon…..

 

 

 

Baked baby eggplant topped with onion, habanero mango salsa, goat cheese and basil

Baked baby eggplant topped with onion, habanero mango salsa, goat cheese and basil

Image

I love baby eggplants but in India we always removed the skin and cooked it to a point where it gets mushy and it would drive me

nuts when my mom would insist that i eat this mushy eggplant curry with my rotis/bread. I wanted to come up with an eggplant dish that I would rather enjoy to eat than be forced to eat:(

So here goes people!

This is by far my best take on the Mighty Eggplant! and takes you less than 15 minutes to prepare this. Its an awesome dish to consider if you have guests coming over.

Ingredients:

4-8 baby eggplants

Olive oil

Goat cheese crumbs

5-6 Basil leaves

Salt to taste

Black Pepper

Lemon pepper powder 1/4 teaspoon

Garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon

Finely chopped onions- 1/4 cup

Habanero Mango Salsa( I sometimes make this at home using habanero peppers and finely diced mango cubes with onions and tomatoes but you can always find and buy a bottle of any salsa at the supermarket if you do not want to deal with the heat of habanero peppers)

Note: You can substitute any salsa depending on your or the guest’s tolerance to spice levels. BUT I strongly recommend this combination:) Trust me its delish!!!if you can tolerate spice or heat!

Preparation:

Cut the baby eggplants in half and place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper(for easy clean up). Then sprinkle salt, black pepper, lemon pepper and garlic powder on top of each half to make sure that they are well seasoned. Then drizzle some olive oil on top of each half and top it with some chopped onions, 1/4 teaspoon of the habanero mango salsa and garnish with some crumbs of goat cheese and chiffonades of basil.

Stick this into the oven at 350 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes. Voila! I insist on a particular combination of salsa and cheese for this particular recipe since the habanero (heat) and the mango (sweet) in the salsa cuts the tanginess of the goat cheese and the flavors become so well balanced.

Poached eggs with Carrot & Potato Puree and toasted brioche bun on top

Poached eggs with Carrot & Potato Puree and toasted brioche bun on top

IMG_5527

This is my take on a French dish inspired by Jaques Pepin the legendary French Chef whom I respect and admire a lot. I have been wanting to make this dish for quite some time now and finally found the time and a great recipe for a mouth watering carrot puree.

So here goes:

Ingredients:

For Carrot & Potato Puree:

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter/ olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For poached egg:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • small bowl
  • salt to taste

1/2 slice of Brioche bun toasted in olive oil or butter

Preparation of Potato Carrot Puree:

Add the chopped carrots and potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water and cook for about 30 minutes till they turn soft. Then transfer the cooked carrots and potatoes to a food processor. Add mayonnaise, salt, turmeric, ground cumin, garlic powder, curry powder and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle olive oil or butter and process for 20- 30 seconds until creamy.

Preparation of Poached Egg:

First bring water in a saucepan to almost boiling. If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling. At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to come together more easily.

Crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently slide the egg into the water. With a spoon, nudge the egg whites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.

Turn off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked.

Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.

Plating:

Take a plate and using a spoon place the carrot potato puree in the middle and spread to form a circle. Then place the poached egg on top of the carrot potato puree and the toasted brioche bun on top with some cilantro as garnish.

Easy Vegetarian Pad Thai Recipe

Easy Vegetarian Pad Thai Recipe

I am originally from India and so have a tremendous respect for spices. This is where my love and passion for Thai food comes to play. Me and my husband both love thai food but unfortunately whenever we go to restaurants, we are told that most dishes have fish sauce in them -such a bummer!

photo 4 (1)

I wanted to master the recipe for a vegetarian pad thai recipe for a long time and have been trying different brands of noodles, different combination of sauces to get it right and finally I think I may have it. I would love to share it with you all.

So here goes the easy peezy recipe for Vegetarian Pad Thai :

Ingredients:

1 packet of medium wide Dried Rice noodle (Asian-Korean market)

1 packet of (ready to cook) Bean sprouts

Bell pepper   1

Onion     1

Grated Ginger and Garlic paste fresh (or from a bottle)

Chopped green Scallions or Spring Onion 1/4 cup

Chopped Asparagus -1/4 cup

1 packet of Firm tofu

Red pepper flakes

Canola oil

Salt to taste

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon chili Soy sauce(or plain soy sauce) i like it spicy:)

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon peanut butter(unsalted)

1 teaspoon chili paste

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preparation of the Pad Thai Sauce:

Take a bowl and add chili soy sauce, water, peanut butter, chili paste and whisk well. Then add the cider vinegar as well as brown sugar and whisk well till all the sugar dissolves.

photo 2 (1)

Preparation:

Chop the vegetables in thin strips or in other words Julienne onion and bell pepper.

photo 3

Tip: Wrap the firm block of tofu in a paper towel for about 5 minutes so all the water gets drained. This helps it get a nice brown coating when its throw in the oil (since it loses most of moisture during the time its wrapped tightly in a paper towel)

Chop the block of tofu into cubes and transfer it to a pan with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add some chopped garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Toss it till all the sides turn crispy and into a golden brown. Remove the cripy tofu an transfer to a paper towel that soaks up excess oil.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the dried rice noodles and let it cook for aboout 2-3 minutes. These rice noodles can be overcooked easily if one does not time them perfectly.

photo 1

Once the rice noodles appear Al Dante or cooked but crunchy then transfer them to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process.

photo 2

photo 4Take another pan and add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Add ginger garlic paste and the julienne vegetables along with chopped asparagus and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle salt and garlic powder and mix well. Then add the bean sprouts and cook for another 2 minutes. photo 5

Transfer the cooked rice noodles resting in the ice cold water to the above pan of veggies and toss well. Also transfer the crispy tofu that has been resting on the paper towel to the pan of noodles and veggies and mix well.

Finally add the bowl of sauce that we prepared using soy sauce, chili paste, peanut butter, cider vinegar and brown sugar.

Toss well carefully without breaking the rice noodles or tofu and making sure that the sauce coats the noodles, veggies and the tofu.

photo 3 (1)

For garnish, add the green scallions and roasted chopped peanuts on top.

Ta da! Enjoy your vegetarian pad thai!

Refreshing Whole Wheat CousCous Salad

Refreshing Whole Wheat CousCous Salad

image (6)

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Cous Cous- 1 cup

Cayenne Pepper- 1 teaspoon

Chopped Green Beans- 1/4 cup

ChoppedYellow Squash- 1/2 cup

Green Peas- 1/4cup

Chopped Carrots- 1/4 cup

Onion- 1

Tomato- 1

Jalapeno- 1(optional for heat)

Fresh garlic- 3 cloves

Salt to taste

Garlic powder- 1 teaspoon

Cumin seeds- 1 teaspoon

Curry powder- 1/2 teaspoon

Preparation

This recipe takes less than 10 minutes if you have all the vegetables chopped and ready. So if you are pressed for time or want to make a quick dinner all you need is to chop the veggies ahead of time or you can buy the chopped frozen vegetables from the supermarket. You can thrown in pretty much any veggie and improvise this recipe.

Firstly chop onion, tomato, jalapeno, green beans, carrots about 1/2 an inch and try to chop them evenly so they cook evenly.

image (2)

Take a non stick saute pan and keep it on low flame. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then add cumin seeds. Wait for the cumin seeds to get toasted and splutter. Now add the chopped onion, tomato, jalapeno and vegetables along with salt to taste, garlic powder and curry powder. Mix well and saute for about 2 -3 minutes.

image (3)

Now add 1 cup of whole wheat CousCous and 1 1/2 cups of water.

image (4)

Mix well and keep covered for about 5 more minutes till couscous absorbs all the water. Fluff cooked CouCous with a fork and serve with Tzatziki on the side.

image (5)

I also make a chilled Raita with onions, cucumbers and green chillies to be served along with this salad.

Enjoy!