Friday, December 25, 2015

Basil pesto...

Today I'm posting a very basic recipe, recipe for a pesto. The word pesto means something made by crushing or pounding. To many pesto is synonymous to basil pesto, but it can be any herb or ingredient.The most common known recipe for basil pesto involves Italian basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt. But thousands variations are there. Like I have used walnuts instead of pine nuts, the simple reason being pine nuts are very expensive and also difficult to find where I live. One can replace basil with spinach or coriander or some other green fresh herb. So basically it is a combination of green herb, nuts, olive oil, salt and cheese. Pesto is generally used as sauce for pasta. It can also be used as spread for sandwich, or as pizza sauce or as dip. I do love to have a spoonful of freshly made pesto, just like that.

Traditionally morter and pastle is used to make pesto. I have used a food processor to do the same. The basil I have used is homegrown. It is very easy to grow basil in Indian climate.

Things needed to make Basil Walnut Pesto:

  • Basil: 4 cups
  • Walnut: 1/2 cup
  • Garlic: 2-3 cloves
  • Parmesan cheese: 1/2 cup
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste

Steps of making Basil Walnut Pesto:

1. In a food processor add walnut, garlic, cheese and salt, using the pulse mode finely chop all the ingredients. Gradually add the basil and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend until a smooth paste is formed.

2. With the blender running add the olive oil. Blend well so the olive oil emulsifies well with the paste. Add less olive oil if you are going to use the pesto for sandwich spread. Add more olive oil if you are going to use it as paste sauce.

3. Taste the pesto, add salt or cheese accordingly.

4. Pesto turns dark and takes a brown color if exposed to air. So immediately transfer to a sterilized glass jar, pour olive oil to cover the top. Close the jar and store in refrigerator for 7-8 days. Pesto can be frozen and store for months. I prefer to make fresh pesto as needed.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Asian style meatballs...

The list of favorite food in my family is quite long. It extends from simple humble alu sedho (mashed potato) bhat (rice) to mutton biryani. Every now and then I get requests to prepare something special for lunch or dinner. The requests mostly come from the little one in my house. I respect my daughter's food preferences and try to introduce her with variety of food. Thankfully she loves to try new food. And whenever I cook up something new or different from the usual she gladly accepts to play the part of the food critic. I find it amusing the way she tastes the first bite from her plate or licks the gravy or chew few little grains of rice. I think she is profoundly influenced by all the judges of cookery shows on TV, specially Masterchef. Fortunately she is a very lenient judge, most of the time I pass with flying colors with a request to make that particular dish again for her. She is the most important reason that motivates me to create something new in my kitchen.

So on a note to impress her while preparing some meatballs to go with the pasta, I thought to give it an Asian twist. Instead of basil, cheese etc I used soy sauce, ginger, garlic to flavor the meatballs and it came out so good and replaced pasta with fried rice. I shallow fried the meatballs. The meatballs can be baked in oven or deep fried, as per choice. I glazed the meatballs with sweet and spicy combination of sriracha, honey and soy sauce. The result was finger licking good.

The ingredients for this recipe are easily available. I used minced chicken to make the meatballs, you can use any other meat of your choice. Depending on one's taste the amount of red chili sauce and honey can be altered. If you like the meatballs to be very spicy add chopped green chilies or red chili flakes to it. These delicious meatballs can be served either as a starter or a side dish.

Things needed to make Asian Style Meatballs:

(Serves 3-4)

For the meatballs:

  • Minced chicken: 300 gm
  • Onion (very finely chopped): 4 tbsp
  • Ginger (grated): 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic (minced): 1 tbsp
  • Sesame oil: 1 tbsp
  • Soy sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Egg: 1
  • Corn starch: 2-3 tbsp
  • Black pepper powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

For the glaze:

  • Soy sauce: 3 tbsp
  • Sriracha or red chili sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Honey: 2 tbsp
  • Rice wine vinegar: 1 tbsp
  • Ginger (juice): 1/2 tsp [grate the ginger and squeeze the juice out] 
  • Garlic (grated): 2 tsp
  • Black pepper powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Corn starch: 3-4 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Other ingrdients:

  • Vegetable oil: 3-4 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds and spring onion to garnish

Steps of making Asian Style Meatballs:

1. In a bowl take all the ingredients for meatballs, mix well and make 14 equal size balls. 

2. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan, when the oil is hot shallow fry the meatballs till nicely brown from all sides. Take out the meatballs and keep aside.

3. Mix all the ingredients for the glaze in a cup. Taste and adjust salt, honey and chili sauce accordingly.

4. Wipe off excess oil from the pan. Add 1 teaspoon of oil in the pan, when the oil is hot pour the glaze mix and let it boil. As it starts to boil add the meatballs, cook over medium heat and keep coating the meatballs with the glaze.

5. Transfer into a serving plate or bowl, garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green part of the spring onion. Serve hot. Pour the excess glaze in a small bowl and serve it as dipping sauce.

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