Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Season's best wishes to all of you from our kitchen at Ginger & Garlic! May the new year bring us all peace and happiness and get us closer to achieving our dreams, big and small :)

Here is to wishing all of you lots of delicious cooking, eating and love to spread this season...

Here is a Christmas fruit tree I prepared many years ago which still continues to be a huge reader's favorite after so many years.. super easy and always gets the oohs and aahs and wows whichever Christmas party it goes... enjoy!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Vegetable Biryani

Biryani is like the ultimate rich comfort yet classy food for us. It is also a dish I feel is made for potlucks and get togethers. It travels well and is made to be cooked ahead. You can make it as simple or as rich as you want with addition of roasted cashews, raisins and deep saffron.

When perfectly spiced, biryani can be as warming to the Indian soul as people would say chicken soup is over here :)

I have made chicken biryani a few times but we make veggie biryani a lot more often. I like the veggies slightly undercooked, but if you want fully cooked veggies then just increase the veggie cooking time by 5 mins and check for doneness.

Every biryani needs a yogurt raita to tango. Our yogurt raita is usually super simple, just beaten non-fat yogurt, grated half a carrot, few mint leaves torn, salt, pepper and pinch of cumin powder. Mix, taste and let rest in refrigerator.

If there are two things I feel are crucial to this biryani they are fresh mint leaves and a good quality saffron. I add mint leaves at every stage - while rice is cooking, while veggies and simmering and also in raita. It gives a wonderful aroma and balances the rich spices very nicely!

There are a few steps in this dish but with proper planning it can go from start to finish in less than an hour and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Recipe:

Rice:
1.5C rice (ideally basmati, but any long grain rice should do)
2.5C water
6 cardamom pods, 3 bay leaves, short cinnamon stick, handful of fresh mint leaves
dash of oil & salt

Mix everything together. Cook in rice cooker. Turn off heat a little before cooker says rice is done. Keep checking periodically - I look for a stage where water is just absorbed and grains are separate but rice is not fully cooked - about 80% cooked.

Remove from rice cooker. Spread in a large plate and fluff. Add a touch of ghee or butter. And leet cool to room temp.

Veggies:
1C cauliflower florets, 1 carrot chopped, 3 small potatoes - chopped, 1/2 red pepper, few musrooms (really any combination of 2-3C chopped veggies)
2Tsbp oil
1/2tsp mustard seeds and cumin seeds each
1/2tsp turrmeric powder
2tsp biryani spice blend
1/4C water
1/4C yogurt
few mint sprigs
salt

Heat oil. When hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and biryani masala. Add all the veggies, water, salt and cover and let cook for 5-7 mins. Then remove from heat and add yogurt. Mix well. Let cool uncovered.

Toppings:
Fried onions:
1/2 of large onion - sliced. Heat in 2 Tbsp oil over low-med heat until onions are nicely browned and slightly crunchy. Set aside

Roasted handful of cashews

Warm 2Tbsp milk and add 1/4tsp saffron strands. Mix well and let sit.

2Tsbp beaten yogurt

Chopped cilantro and lemon wedges

Layering:
Pre-heat oven to 375
In a largee cassarole pan, layer 1/4th of the rice. Then add 1/2 of veggie mix. Dash over some saffron milk and a Tsbp yogurt. Repeat with another layer of rice and veggies. Top with another rice round. Add more saffron milk, cashews, half of fried onions on top. Seal tightly with an aluminium wrap and then close the lid.

Cook for 20mins @375.

Remove from oven, garnish with cilantro and remaining fried onions and serve warm with raita and lemon wedges.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pesto Pinwheels

Holiday season is a time for family, friends, lots of chats and laughter and an endless stream of potlucks! 

We kickstarted the holiday season with two potlucks. I signed up to bring appetizers for both. I love to bring appetizers because that's a course which gets the first share of hungry tummys. And besides with a side of a good glass of wine and a healthy appetite, anything tastes super great and gushing compliments are over to the cook :)

I brought these pinwheels for both potlucks. They are super easy - I mean really can not get any easier and are guaranteed crowd pleasers.

I have always had people ask for more beyond what I made and that I consider as a crowd pleasing appetizer!

During holidays I always keep a packet of frozen puff pastry dough from Trader Joe's and a couple of pestos - the usual basil pesto, sun dried tomato pesto - and that's all you need for this recipe.

The only forward looking prep is to thaw the dough in refrigerator. Then a half an hour before serving take it out on counter and unroll. Spread a thin layer of one or multiple pestos. Roll it back up. Using a serated knife cut small rounds lenghwise (so you get more rounds). Bake at 400F for 12-15 mins or as per pastry package instructions.

That's it - you have a green pesto pinwheel, or a holiday red and green pinwheels or let your imagination be unbound!

These pinwheels travel well too. You can always assemble at the host's kitchen or make them in advance and just pop in microwave or pre-heated oven for a few minutes before serving. And I usually just serve them on their own, no other condiments necessary.

This appetizer is also great for chilly evenings - just make a batch, serve with your favorite wine or beer and munch and sip while watching a good movie -- one of the many blisses of a merry season :)    

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Banana Cake

It was my daughter's birthday recently.. I can't believe how fast time has flown! She is also my sous-chef in the kitchen - she is foodie by birth and just like her mom loves cooking and eating and restaurant hunting :)

Every year for her birthday I try to make fancier cakes like almond cake or chocolate cake with frosting but this year I thought of making a simple banana cake. She loves banana bread and after many iterations I have a much less fattier version of banana bread which we love eating. So I thought why not try that into a cake? 

The result was absolutely delicious! And we devoured the full cake in a matter of 2 days. This is absolutely going to be my go-to kids cake. 

I avoid frosting as much as I can on kids cakes, so we skipped frosting and instead dusted the cake with powdered sugar. But by all means frost away! Vanilla buttercream frosting would be divine with this cake!

Recipe:

Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas - smashed with potato smasher
5Tbsp unsalted butter - melted
1 egg - beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
handful of dried cranberry (optional)
1.5C all purpose flour
1/2C + 2Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1.5tsp baking soda

Recipe:
Pre-heat oven to 360F

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda). Set aside.

Mix wet ingredients (bananas, butter, egg, vanilla extract). Add walnuts and cranberries. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Grease a 9" round baking pan with butter. Pour cake batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 mins until the top is slightly browned and center is cooked through (insert a toothpick to check). 

Remove from oven and let cook on a rack for 20 mins before prying the cake out of the pan.

Serve warm or cold - but we like our banana cake warm!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Happy 7th Blogversary to Ginger & Garlic!

This November Ginger & Garlic turned 7 - wow, I can't believe it was 7 years ago that I wrote my very first quinoa salad post. I never thought anyone would read it. And I was ecstatic when someone did read it and comment!

It has been a long journey since then. To some extent I think the changes in how I blog reflect my own personal journey over the last 7 years. And this 7 year blogversary is making me sentimental enough to walk down the memory lanes....
Carrots with Saffron & Cardamom

This blog started off with a simple enough reason. I rarely set foot in kitchen until I moved to US for grad school. I was trying to be a better cook, reading recipes on internet, on the many blogs popping up in 2008-2009 timeframe and experimenting a lot with various recipes and cooking techniques. 

I also wanted to improve my photography -- and most importantly, I love to write, always have! This is probably the primary reason I blog; I love to write. Anything. And cooking was a great medium for me.

In an alternate universe I wish to be a successful chef and a writer, owning a beach front house where I just write, cook & bake. In this universe, I am happy to be a working mom who loves to food blog :)

The blog started off at a point when I had a major lull in my career - I felt stuck where I was and felt a bit helpless. I wanted a metaphorical escape. My husband, always the supportive type, encouraged me to start a blog, which he said will add up to something over the years - sort of like a digital diary/recipe box. I agreed. And started Ginger & Garlic.

As are most new bloggers, I was attention seeking, number of comments on a post signified to me the value of that post - and that's what I chased by posting often, posting more fancy things, blog networking etc etc. It worked. The blog was vibrant and I felt like a part of blogger community. I was super happy but not fully satisfied deep down, I think.

Around then life happened. My career picked up, a few great opportunities (in hindsight) came along at work, I jumped on them and worked like crazy; often neglected the blog for months at a time. But the blog was always at the back of my mind - every weekend I would open up the webpage and browse through old postings, always with a smile on my face :)

And then we decided to start a family. The morning sickness put me off of food in general and I couldn't even look at food pictures, let alone blog about food. So came the longest break from first trimester through the birth of the baby. I picked up steam during my maternity leave finding time to blog about cooking as a new mom - it was a wonderful period!

And then career picked up again. None of these things are planned. An opportunity comes your way, you pounce on it and do the best you can. It was a simple matter of prioritization then - family, work and some time for personal care. The blog always took the hit :(

But one thing I did not want to happen is to kill the blog or orphan it. So I came up with a new plan. The holidays Nov-Dec, right when work tempers down is when I'll invest in my blog. Then by spring time I am back in my got-to-prioritize routine. It's not much, but it's something. And something is better than nothing.

Over the years I also learnt to be true to why I blog. It is not for appreciation or acknowledgement. There are readers who will always read no matter how infrequently I post; and then there is Google which will ensure good content stays on through search., I learnt to let go of chasing appreciation and instead focused more on creating a portal where I can write about what I cherish - something which I hope to hand down to my daughter.

Something I hope she will read to her kids when she grows up and something I'll look back years from today to immerse myself in the time of "back-then" as if it never left me.... and that's why I blog.

Happy 7th Blogversary, Ginger & Garlic!    

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and Let The Holiday Season Begin!

A very happy thanksgiving to everyone who celebrated. Our thanksgiving was a quiet affair spent talking and eating and sipping wine with friends at home lazily over the course of an afternoon! 

For me there is so much to be thankful for this year - from family and friends to work to our house to my daughter's wonderful teachers and of-course all of you readers!

Thanksgiving is officially a home cook's holiday - a time to celebrate every home cook laboring over the stoves or ovens to put a warm and delicious food on table for their loved ones day after day. Thanksgiving always puts me into the gear for the upcoming holiday season and for emptying that recipe bookmarks I let build over the year.

The menu this thanksgiving was a set of simple oven heavy dishes. I love oven only recipes in winter, you avoid the wait and watch and stir phase next to the stove which just means extra time for sipping tea or playing with daughter.
Pumpkin Pie

We had a turkey free dinner so chicken was the star of the table instead. I cooked NYTimes Sam Sifton's roasted chicken provencal - which is a super simple roasted chicken seasoned with liberal amounts of herbs de provence (blend off rosemary, thyme, majoram and other French herbs) baked with lemon slices, potato wedges and whole cloves of garlic. It's a dish that fills here
Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
your kitchen with warm heart-warming aromas and really could not be any easier to make! I'll snap a pic next time we make it. But do visit the recipe

Holiday Pinwheels
For starters I made holiday pinwheels again - a super simple dish - just needs puff pasty and a blend of pestos (or one, whatever you have at hand). No matter how many pinwheels I make, there is always someone asking for more - and that's a sign of a successful appetizer :)

There were three sides - my daughter, now an almost 5 year old, whipped together a cranberry chutney from Trader Joe's crushed cranberries.

We made some roasted red peppers and tomato soup with garlic bread to go-along with it and some roasted sweet potatoes seasoned with local honey, olive oil and S&P.
Vegertable Biryani

For vegetarian guests there was a veg biryani made with cauliflowers, potatoes and carrots; topped with roasted cashews, saffron and fried onions.
Cranberry Chutney & Honey Roasted SWeet Potatoes
And the dessert was the quint-essential thanksgiving dessert - a home-made pumpkin pie! I used this Allrecipes. Pie turned out wonderful - I increased the seasoning and added some fresh grated ginger for additional perk of flavors. We enjoyed the pie with some home-made whipped cream.

Hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving and let the holiday season or eating or shopping or whatever it is that you do -  begin!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Strawberry Muffins

Really, is being foodie a gene we pass around from mother to child?

Last week I reached home from work and I got an excited call from my four year old who has just been picked up from her preschool by her dad.

"Mommy, I have a great idea - let's bake something today! Let's bake cherry pie!" she said in her most excited voice. 

It was a school night and I had plans for dinner and then had some office work lined up -- so I tried to derail her from the plan "but we don't have pie crust at home honey, so let's bake on the weekend, okay?" I say. 

Being a true foodie, to that she says "but we can make it, right? you can ask Google how to make crust! Google knows everything" 

hmmm.. "well yes, I can do that but how about we go to park instead or (reluctantly) may be I'll let you watch a Daniel Tiger instead!"... "no, let's bake something please" she says.

Wow, if today baking ranks above park and (gasp) TV then two things are for certain: 1) we are baking something today and 2) I have got a little foodie at my hand -- foodie is indeed a gene!

Pie crusts can be tedious so we instead settled on using up some of the fresh spring strawberries from farmer's market to make strawberry muffins instead.
Muffins are super easy, here is what you will need:
(makes 9-10 large muffins)
Dry ingredients:
  • 1-3/4 C whole wheat or all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C brown sugar or white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
Wet ingredients:
  • 1.5 C chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/2C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
Recipe is super simple too:
  • Pre-heat oven to 375
  • Mix the dry ingredients and set aside
  • Mix the wet ingredients
  • Add the dry mix to the wet ingredients and mix well
  • Line up a muffin tray with liners. Add enough muffin mix to each pod to fill it completely
  • Bake for 20-25 mins until the top looks toasted and it's cooked through (insert a toothpick in one muffin to check)
  • Remove from oven and enjoy!
So that's how we spent our evening -- baking muffins, then taking their photos and devouring them with milk and a hot cup of green tea!
  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Baked Kale Chips

I am a hand-me-down owner of a large vegetable patch dedicated to many varieties of kale at our home. One of the many things the previous owner had loved and cared for when they were here.

And even with my minimal care which is mostly trial and error based, the kale is flourishing! Now the only problem is I have to find more ways to use up the kale and fast! :) 

I make kale daal, going to try kale paratha, have a favorite quinoa and kale mediterranean salad with almonds (recipe coming soon!) but the one tried and trusted kale recipe we have come to love is this baked kale chips!

These chips are nice and crunchy and you can play with seasonings a bit to what you like. Believe me you can't eat just one! But unlike other chips, in this case it's guiltless grazing, cool, right? :)

These are super easy to prepare and are very nutritious and healthy snack. I make two baked tray full of kale chips over the weekend and keep a bowl full of chips right on the kitchen table which is the perfect place to snack around.  

There are many other ways to use up the chips too: I crush the chips and add them to rice or salads sometime for color and texture. They go really well with morning oatmeal or smoothies. But really they almost always seem to vanish themselves right off of the bowl :)

Making them is easy:

  • Take 4-5 large curly kale leaves and using hands tear the leaves into small pieces
  • Wash the leaves well and dry them *completely* (drying takes time, but this is very important so take your time)
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F
  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and add the kale leaves in a thin layer (don't overcrowd otherwise you won't get the crunchy effects)
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt and paper and using your hands ensure the leaves are well coated with oil.
  • Bake for 12-15mins (12 mins will give you moderate crunch with still a few soft bits; 15mins will be super crunchy)
  • Take off of oven and eat!
Sometimes I also drizzle with lemon juice after they are out of oven for a tarty taste! Or sprinkle some chili flakes before baking if I am making it for adults.

Either way, so healthy and quick... this is our #1 way to enjoy this superfood!

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This page and all of its contents is copyright of Prajakta Gudadhe. All rights reserved.

This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.