Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cous Cous Salad with Mixed Peppers

It was only when started working on this post did I realize that I am in love with peppers; yes, the red, green and yellow variety. In the last less than a year of me writing this blog, and me cooking/documenting a lot, I have made a lot of dishes with peppers and repeatedly. I am surprised people around me haven’t killed me yet. But then again, maybe, it is the prettiness and varied nature of the peppers and for some, the healthy aspect that prevents us from getting bored. In fact, I also realized, that there are so many recipes that I haven’t even documented, but I guess they will find their way in soon.

Today’s post is Cous Cous with mixed peppers. I have always loved Cous Cous and now, it is a regular on our dinner menu. Couscous is a North African semolina dish that is traditionally served with a stew or accompanied with vegetables. Extremely simple to make and very, very versatile, Cous Cous is available in dried, instant form, and can be cooked and is ready to eat in under 5 minutes. Even though it resembles pasta, it is much and is among the healthiest grain-based products. It has a superior vitamin profile to pasta, and In terms of protein, couscous has 3.6 g for every 100 calories, equivalent to pasta, and well above the 2.6 g for every 100 calories of white rice. Furthermore, couscous contains a 1% fat-to-calorie ratio, compared to 3% for white rice, 5% for pasta etc. (Source: Wikipedia)

Now that I have justified the wonderful qualities of Cous Cous, how about an actual recipe? This is a great summer salad; can be had warm or cold, and variations can be adopted. I served it as an accompaniment to some bread and pasta with mushrooms in white sauce- however, I am sure its a much healthier meal, just by itself.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cocktail Sausages

A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man, and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her.                                                                                                                                      Helen Rowland

The food world is a funny place to be; a little bit of sugar suddenly makes the world a much nicer place. 
A little maple syrup on waffles, Honey on pancakes, a simple chocolate cake, and even some honey in a cheesy dip, can ironically make the world seem not so bad after all. Comfort food, as I keep rambling about, becomes a lot more comfortable, with a dash of sugar in it. Especially if you are coming from the family where I come from, where every meal must end with something sweet to eat (including breakfast, lunch and dinner- and dinner sometimes followed by 2-3 courses of dessert), and married to a man, whose day is excelled by means of an additional piece of chocolate or a spoonful of ice-cream, for me- not having a sweet tooth IS IMPOSSIBLE. For some reason though, over a period of time, my craving for sugar has reduced, and with me getting only older with time- I assume it’s just good for me.

I come from a family, where sausages are actually considered unhealthy; pork sausages that is. Having pork sausages at home was a luxury. However I developed a taste, or rather a love for sausages during my stint in London, and since then it is a relationship that I am sure will last forever. I use more of the chicken variety now; makes no difference to my life- but I yes, psychologically, I just feel less guilty. The versatility of the sausage is brilliant- for breakfast, lunch or dinner, sausages accompanied with ANYthing including a slice of bread can lead to a satisfying meal.

I do adore food. If I have any vice it's eating. If I was told I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, I could put up with sausage and mash forever.                                                                                                 Colin Baker

The recipe that I am sharing today is one that has been pending forever; not because I didn’t have the time to post it, but simply because I never documented it. It is the perfect blend of two of my favourite ingredients. 
I had stumbled across this recipe on Nigella’s website (Original Recipe can be found here) soon after I got married. Ak calls this our ‘House Specialty’; the Cocktail Sausages and the recipe finds its way into our meals quite often. In fact, I never even though about posting it, since I made it so often. I have tested it out on multiple occasions, with a variety of guests; young and old, meat eaters and the no-red meat eaters, "I like chicken only" people and many others; and each time the recipe was a big success. Most often in fact, there is not even a single piece left. It goes well as an appetizer and I have often made it as an accompaniment to a main course as well.  The best part is that, it can be made well ahead of time; the longer the sausages are marinated for, the better the flavours are- sweet, sticky and savoury.Thank you Nigella for this wonderful, really easy recipe.

p.s Must Try this recipe with Chili Flavored Sausages- the addition of the spice takes the recipe to another world altogether!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Double Chocolate Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Decadence: A literary movement especially of late 19th-century France and England characterized by refined aestheticism, artifice, and the quest for new sensations.

This post is about true decadence and self-indulgence. A Tough one for me to pander to, especially when it comes to food; my indulgences are more often to do with clothes and shoes or travel J and that usually leaves me feeling content enough and rejuvenated. There are very few food items that make me feel indulgent- Cookies and Cream ice-cream, being one and variety in food, of course. For Ak however, it’s simple- All it takes is a piece of chocolate. Anything brown is sufficient to coddle the taste buds. Come sickness or health, good times or bad- a piece of chocolate caters to all moods.

About a week back, my sis-in-law and the nieces sent me a recipe for a double chocolate fudge cake, as a must-do for Ak. They had tested it out- and of course, had loved it; hence the recommendation. The cake recipe is a mix of coffee and chocolate, and it seemed to me as the perfect end to a weekend. Thus, I began the act of indulgence- post dinner, on a Sunday night. To give me company in the act, Ak tried out the Manhattan Cocktail. To coincide with the really hot summer day, Brown became the colour of the evening.
A couple of really wonderful things about the recipe; it is literally a 1 pan and 1 cup task, it is eggless, the blend of coffee and chocolate is perfect etc. Last but not the least, I think it would be a great dessert serving for a larger gathering, if done in individual portions- I may try that soon. It really is so simple, that at moments like this I realize- simple pleasures in life are not tough to achieve.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Italiano Grilled Peppers

It’s the peak of summers. Hot and Dry. This weather drains me out completely. Work is at an all time peak- and I feel scattered. Almost feeling disorganized- Very unlike the 'ocd'ish me.

This post has been pending for a couple of weeks. In reality, in fact, it may have been due for a few months- the fact being that this recipe has been tried and tested, many a times over. It is one of my essential favorites and we make it quite often.  These are grilled peppers with Italian flavors, but I do make an oriental version as well, which I will post about another time. The recipe is such, that even people, who don’t like peppers, are tempted by its colourful, enticing aesthetic.

Bell Peppers or Sweet Peppers or simply peppers are one of the most versatile vegetables; they can be eaten raw, steamed, grilled, cooked, stuffed and even baked.  I love peppers in all forms, except the Indian style maybe, which is with potatoes- and that’s probably because I am not a big fan of potatoes. Peppers, especially the red ones, have extremely high nutritional value, especially Vitamin C; in fact, one large red bell pepper contains 209 mg of vitamin C, which is three times the 70 mg of an average orange (Source: Wikipedia). The difference between the three is however not much. Red peppers are merely completely ripened green peppers. These are the sweetest of the variety, and the green ones have a slightly bitter taste. Hence, a combination of the three is a good blend of flavours. This post was a part of a recent dinner for my cousins; where the focus was on assorted food, and since I was the only one cooking, I decided to make some simple, handy recipes. The ingredients here can be mixed and kept well ahead of time; it is grilled/sautéed for a couple of minutes just before serving.

A charming technique to dress up the dinner table!

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