Sizzling Fajita Whole Wheat Pita

August 29, 2008

The wheat flour I bought to bake whole wheat focaccia earlier was still lying around on my kitchen counter. Wanting to use it again, I started looking for recipes and I ended up here. I’ve been a silent reader on Jugalbandits’ blog for over a year. Theirs in one of the blogs I visit everyday. Their writing is witty, funny, sarcastic (I love it!), lively and really inspiring. Their enthusiasm for living a healthy life is remarkable. I don’t know if I can find any more adjectives for them..am kinda running out. 🙂 However, Bee and Jai, I do want to say thank you for your blog and I really do appreciate it!

Whole wheat pita

Now I made the pitas, but did not know what to eat them with. Don’t get me wrong, they were really tasty, however I wanted it to be complete healthy meal. When I opened the refrigerator to see what all I had, I had nothing substantial. J and I are going out of town for the long weekend and I have been avoiding going to the grocery store till after the trip. All I found were frozen Morningstar products, marinated onions that I keep on hand for sandwiches, etc., and cheese. J and I whipped this dish out and it was quite tasty for not using any fresh vegetables. It may seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it just took us 40 mins to prepare the meal..including 30 mins. of marinating time. However, there was a lot of cleaning after the everything was done, but J took care of it 😀

Ta

PS: I marinate one onion at a time and it stays good for at least 10 days in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Sizzling Fajita Whole Wheat Pita
(Serves 3, Makes 8 pitas)

Ingredients

For Whole Wheat Pita

2 cups Whole wheat flour
2 tsp dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

For Vegan Steak Fajita

1 packet Morningstar Steak strips
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dried garlic (you can use fresh..I was just lazy to use the fresh one)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
salt
pepper

For marinated onions (Can be made few days ahead)

1 red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

For Yogurt-Feta Sauce

2/3 cups yogurt
1/3 cup feta cheese (I used mediterranean herb feta cheese)
1/2 tsp dried garlic
salt
pepper

Method

For pita bread

Knead all the ingredients together into a soft dough. The dough should be smooth and it may be slightly sticky. Add olive oil, just enough to coat the dough and let it sit covered in a warm place for 1.5 hrs. Deflate the dough and knead for one min. Divide the dough into eight equal parts and roll them into balls. Place the balls in a baking sheet and cover them with a towel to prevent them from drying. Place a baking stone (if you are using a baking sheet, place it inside the oven when you are ready to bake pitas) and preheat the oven to 500 degree F. Take one ball and roll it out so that it is 3/16 of an inch thick, sprinkle semolina/cornmeal if using baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Bake it for 4 mins. approx. If it starts browning, take itout immediately even if not puffed up. Once done (does not smell yeasty), take it out of the oven and let it cool on wire rack. Repeat till all dough is used up. Once cooled, wrap the pitas in aluminum foil.

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For marinated onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Slice the onion into thin rings. One trick I have learned for slicing/chopping onions is that put the onion in the freezer for 15 mins. Take it out and then chop/slcie to avoid “crying” over the onions. When kept in the freezer, the gas that gets released while chopping an onion also freezes. So no more crying! Line a baking sheet with foil and lay the onion slices on the sheet. Bake the onions for 30 mins. While the onions are getting baked, in a bowl mix balsamic vinegar, oil, brown sugar, herbs and salt and pepper. Once onions are baked, cool them and add them to the balsamic mix. Store them in an air tight container for a later use.

For fajitas, mix all the ingredients other than the morningstar vegan steak in a bowl. Add herbs or anything else you might want to add per your taste. Pour the marinade in a ziploc bag. Add frozen vegan steak to the ziplock bag and shake it to coat all the pieces. Let them sit for at least 30 mins. Heat a skillet on medium heat and cook the steak pieces for about 5 mins.

For yogurt-feta sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Refrigerator it, until you are ready for assembling the pitas.

For assembly, spread about 1.5 Tbsp of the yogurt-feta sauce on the pita. Add pew pieces of vegan steak and onions. Fold it and tada..its ready to serve. You can also do the same in a pita pocket.

This goes to Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen for the Tried & Tasted event featuring Jugalbandhi for the month of August and to Sia of Monsoon Spice hosting the JFI – Soya blog event.


100% Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

August 26, 2008

Focaccia bread is one of my favorite breads. Actually, now that I think about it, each and every bread is my favorite! Focaccia bread is similar to pizza, the main difference being focaccia having a thicker crust than pizza. I had so much fun baking my first focaccia that I had to make a whole wheat version of it.

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After reading a lot of posts on whole wheat breads from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, I had to buy the book. I am an avid baker, but not by any chance a pro. So this book was a big help in understanding the science behind baking using whole grains. If you are really interested in whole grain bread baking, this book is definitely for you.

I adapted the focaccia recipe from the book. The book calls for a 17 x 12 inch focaccia. However, this being my first time with whole grains, I halved the recipe. The final product was a crunchy yet chewy warm focaccia. J had his with some asiago cheese spread whereas I was quite content with the plain focaccia dipped in olive oil!

Ta

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Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Focaccia
(Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads)
(Makes 13 x 9 inch focaccia)

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour (preferably fine grind)
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
1/2 + 1/8 tsp dry yeast
1 cup + 1 Tbsp water (room temperature)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
3/4 Tbsp olive oil

For Olive oil topping

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt

Method

In a bowl, mix flour, salt, yeast, water and agave nectar for about 2 mins.The dough will be sticky, but smooth. Add olive oil to the dough and mix for another 15 sec. Let the dough rest, uncovered for 5 mins and then mix again for 2 mins. If the dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil to grease the parchment paper including the side walls. Place the dough on the sheet pan. Rub the top of the dough with 1 tsp of olive oil. Flatten the dough using the palms of your hands. The dough might not cover the entire pan. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

The next day remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit out for 4 hours. While the dough is resting, pour 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan. Add all the dried herbs mentioned in the ingredients. Heat the oil for 3 mins. Let the oil sit at room temperature.

Remove the plastic wrap covering the dough and drizzle 1 tsp of olive over it. Using your fingertips, starting in the middle, press the dough so as to fill out the pan. The pressed dough may still not fill the pan. Loosely cover the pan and let it sit for 20 mins. Repeat this procedure again. The third time, pour the herbed oil and using your fingertips again press the dough. You will see air pockets as you press. This time the dough should fill most of the pan. Cover the pan and let the dough sit for 2 hours.

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Preheat the oven at 500 degrees F. Add sea salt on top of the dough and place it in the oven. Reduce the oven temperatutre to 450 degrees F and bake for 15 mins. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and let it bake for another 11 mins.

Remove it from the oven and let focaccia cool on a wire rack. After 10 mins. slice it and serve with some olive oil.

This bread goes to Bread Baking Day # 13: 100% Whole Grains hosted by Jude of Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate.


Tikhi Bhakri (Spicy Wheat Flatbread)

August 25, 2008

Bhakri is a crispy unleavened wheat flatbread. I say spicy in the title, but it is not really spicy at all. It does include a small amount of red chili powder..thus the name spicy I guess. However, bhakri dough is very stiff..stiffer than parathas’ dough. I think making bhakris is an arm workout in itself…the main reason I think twice before making them 😉

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Tikhi bhakri has been my favorite breakfast ever since I can remember. When we were kids, mom made this for us every Sunday morning. We used to so look forward to it. Hot bhakris with a dollop (I know..but I loved it!) of ghee on top of it and some godkeri (a gujju pickle) and lasan chutney on side with hot cup of tea! It was purely heaven. Both my sister and me would stuff ourselves up with bhakris and tea and then skip lunch. Even now, whenever I visit India, mom makes this every single morning of my visit.

When J and I visited India about 2 years ago for our second wedding ceremony (We got married once here in the US and my family couldn’t get here due to late visa appointments and a second time in India), it was his first time there and naturally he was quite nervous about meeting my family, relatives, indian food, etc. It was during this trip that I realized that in India (at least in our home), we have so many varieties of foods, gujarati, maharashtrian, north indian, south indian, street food..the list can go on. But all this is still Indian food..with Indian spices, curries, etc. unlike here in US where we cook/eat italian, indian, mexican, middle eastern, etc. cuisines. It was very difficult for J because first he had to be a vegetarian for two weeks..which he could manage (barely! 😉 ) and second he couldn’t take indian food for 3 times a day for two straight weeks. We had to go to restaurants for italian food and pizzas so that he could get a break. But one thing that he loved and begged my mom to make it, was tikhi bhari. He pretty much had it 3 times a day on some occasions. It is a prefect breakfast for us now…i.e. when I am ready for an arm workout!

Ta

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Recipe: Tikhi Bhakri
(Makes 6 bhakris)

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups wheat flour (atta)
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp oil
Salt per taste
Warm water for kneading


Method

In a plate with sides, mix flour, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and oil. Pour warm water in the mix and knead till you get a stiff dough. Make six equal pieces of dough. Roll each piece of dough into a round disc..about 1/4″ thick.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Place one rolled disc onto the skillet. When you see bubbles forming on the top side of the disc, turn it to cook the other side. With a clean kitchen towel press on the top of bhakri. Turn it to the other side and repeat pressing it down with the kitchen towel. This makes the bhakri crsipy. Once cooked on both sides, place the bhakri on a plate and pour a small amount of ghee on it. Repeat till all bhakris are cooked. Enjoy it with a cup of tea!

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Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes topped with Baked Strawberries

August 22, 2008

With end of summer nearing, I am grabbing all the berries I can. Especially strawberries and blueberries. So of course I end up with a huge quantity of berries…more than I can handle. Same thing happened last week and I had to find some way to use them before they spoiled. Trying to find some ideas, I came across this recipe at A Life (Time) of Cooking. The recipe is so simple and yet so delicious. If you have not tried it yet, please please do try it.

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I baked the strawberries and stored them in the refrigerator for next day’s breakfast. The crepes filled with strawberry mascarpone were cheesy, sweet and just yummy!

This entry goes to:
1. MBP – Fruit Fare hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. MBP is the brain child of Coffee of The Spice Cafe.

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2. WBB – Combi Breakfasts hosted by Latha of Masala Magic. WBB was originally started by Nandita of Saffron Trail.

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Ta

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Recipe: Strawberry Mascarpone Crepes topped with Baked Strawberries
(Serves 2, Makes 4 crepes)

Ingredients

Baked Strawberries

1-1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod

Crepes

3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
3/8 cup milk (I used 2%)
1.5 tsp sugar
3 tsp butter (melted)
a pinch of salt

Filling

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp baked strawberries


Method

For Baked Strawberries, preheat the oven at 350 degrees F, hull the strawberries and place them in a baking dish. Add agave nectar, crushed cardamom seeds, and cinnamon stick to the baking dish. Mix the ingredients in the baking dish and bake for 30 mins.

For strawberry-mascarpone filling, add 1 Tbsp of baked strawberries and agave nectar to mascarpone. Mix till you get a smooth mixture.

For crepes, whisk flour, egg, milk, sugar, salt, and butter together to form a smooth batter. Refrigerate the mix for 30 mins. Heat a skillet and brush some butter in the skillet. Pour a small portion (1/8 cup) of batter into the pan. Tilt the pan till you get a thin layer of batter in the pan. Cook until brown on the bottom, approx. 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the crepe over and cook on the other side for about 30 secs. Transfer to a plate and repeat till all batter is used up.

For assembling the crepes, add a small amount of (about 2 Tbsp) of strawberry mascarpone to the crepe and roll it. Top off the crepes with remaining baked strawberries. Serve immediately.


Bateta Vada Party!

August 18, 2008

It was during my non-blogging days that Anita of A Mad Tea Party had organized the puri-bhaji party. Though I did not send in my entry, I did end up cooking it at home after seeing so many different varieties pop up all over the blogging world. So when she announced yet another party..a Batata Vada party, I just couldn’t resist participating.

I won’t lie and say I hate deep fried food…unless of course it is literally swimming in oil, then I do! Both J and I love anything that is deep fried. But we make a conscious effort not to eat deep fried foods. We rarely deep fry anything at home. Main reasons being: 1. unhealthy 2. what a wastage of oil! I just don’t know what to do with the used oil and I hate to throw it in garbage. I remember my mom using that oil to cook various vegetables and dals over the next few days. However, we do not cook dishes that require oil that often. I would love to hear what you guys do at home with the remaining used oil.

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In my entire life I had only made bateta vada once. They tasted really good, but I never made them again because of the above reasons. However, I loved (still love) eating them every time mom made them. Just thinking about them would make my mouth water. When I explained to J about what we would be having for dinner, he was little bit skeptical…mainly because he did not know/understand what I was talking about. So I used the terms “deep fried potato sandwich”..which made him smile ear to ear! I made vada pav, which is easy once you have the vada all done. When we sat down for dinner, I could barely stop my self from chowing down the vada pav in one bite. J, who had it for the first time ever, loved it as well.  I hope y’all enjoy the gujju version of bateta vada! Happy Party’ing! 😀

Ta

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Recipe: Bateta Vada (Vada Pav)
(Makes 8 bateta vada)

Ingredients

3 medium sized potatoes (boiled)
2 green chillis
1 inch piece of ginger
3 tsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar
salt per taste
1/2 cup besan (gram flour)
1/4 cup water (may vary per personal choice)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
8 burger buns
Oil for deep frying

Lasan (Garlic) Chutney

5 cloves of garlic
1/2 Tbsp red chilli powder (+ or – according to your taste)
salt per taste

Tamarind Chutney

1/2 Tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp jaggery
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt per taste

Method

For lasan chutney, grind garlic and salt together till you obtain a smooth mixture. Now add red chilli powder and grind till you get a thick, smooth mix.

For tamarind chutney, in a microwave safe bowl, add tamarind paste and jaggery and 1 tsp of water. Heat in the microwave for 40 sec. Stir the mix while melting the jaggery. Add salt and cumin to the tamarind-jaggery mix per. Add water as necessary for desired thickness of the chutney.

Grind ginger and green chilli together. In a bowl, mash the boiled potatoes. Add the ginger-green chilli paste, salt, lime juice, sugar to the mashed potatoes. Adjust the amounts of salt, sugar, lime juice according to your taste. Make golf sized balls of the mashed potatoes mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix besan, salt, red chilli powder, baking powder together. Add water while continuously mixing (to avoid any lumps) to get a thick batter.

Heat oil in a pan till it is piping hot. Take the potato ball and dip in the batter so that it is covered with batter evenly on all sides. Gently drop the battered potato ball in the hot oil and let it fry till light brown. Scoop it out of the hot oil and lay it on a plate covered with paper towel. Repeat the process till all the potato vadas are fried.

For vada pav, apply garlic and tamarind chutney on the inner side of a burger bun. Sandwich the vada between the bun and enjoy the sweet, spicy, fried goodness!


Zucchini Aloo Tikki

August 15, 2008

I am not a big fan of zucchini. The main reason being I just don’t know what to do with it. In one of our recent visits to the grocery store, I saw this huge, beautiful pile of zucchinis and I couldn’t resist buying them, and I never stopped to think about how I should cook them. A week went by and I kept ignoring the looks they gave me every time I opened the refrigerator. Finally, when I could take it no longer (I am sure they couldn’t either!) I took them out of the refrigerator and 20 mins later, I still did not know how to cook them! After looking what other ingredients I had on hand, I decided to try out zucchini tikki.

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Aloo was not part of the equation when I started prepping. However, I realized that zucchini needed something to help it bind in a tikki form. Hence, the addition of potato. I did not want to fry the tikkis for obvious reasons and baked them instead. Of course they did not look as pretty as they would have if they had been fried. But they were not bad..actually they tasted pretty darn good for a bland vegetable. I probably should have mashed the zucchini instead of grating, because it had kind of a stringy look..however no stringy texture. What a healthy way to eat your vegetable AND get a spicy kick out it ..what could you ask for more? 🙂

Ta

PS: I would love to hear your ideas on how to cook zucchini..somehow it just seems such a bland and boring vegetable. 😕

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Recipe: Zucchini Aloo Tikki
(Makes 6 tikkis)

Ingredients

2 medium sized zucchinis
1 potato
2 green chillies
1 small piece of ginger
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt per taste
pepper per taste


Method

Preheat the oven at 400 F. Boil the potato and finely grate the zucchinis. Grind green chillies and ginger together. In a bowl, add the boiled potato, grated zucchini, bread crumbs, green chilli-ginger mix, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If needed, add more bread crumbs to bind the tikkis.

Aluminum foil a baking pan and spray some oil over it. Place the tikkis and spray some olive oil over the tikkis. Bake the tikkis for 15 mins or unless they are lightly browned. Enjoy these with some ketchup or chutney!


“Ground Beef” & Ricotta Pesto Lasagna

August 13, 2008

When Sia of Monsoon Spice announced JFI – Soya, I did my little happy dance (with J rolling his eyes). The reason for my excitement was the fact that we eat soy “meat” almost every week. Without that, I do not know how J and I could co-exist … at least without losing our sanity. 😉

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For the dinner party last weekend I had the grandiose idea of making some lasagna, which of course I had never made before! I didn’t even know what ingredients to use for lasagna. But then I remembered seeing this at Meeta’s What’s for Lunch, Honey?. Both J and I, do not like mushrooms, so I thought of using the “ground beef” with some tomato sauce. Now, with the ingredients decided, the next challenge for us was to boil lasagna pasta. Neither J nor I had ever dealt with lasagna pasta sheets before that day. Thankfully we had a pot big enough to fit the pasta. Making (I mean boiling) pasta is almost always J’s job. I am too much of a klutz to handle hot water (that’s what he thinks). After J was done draining the pasta, I layered the lasagna and trust me this was the most fun part of the whole lasagna making process.

The lasagna tasted really good, with creaminess of pesto (Thanks Meeta!) and a slight tanginess from tomatoes. Everyone loved it and the fake meat did taste and feel like real meat. I cannot vouch for it, as I have not tasted meat ever. But judging from 4 people’s reaction, I guess it did taste like real meat.

Off this goes to:

1. Sia’s JFI – Soya event. Photobucket

2. Dee of Ammalu’s Kitchen – Herb Mania – Basil

3. DK of Culinary Bazaar’s AWED – Italiano

Ta

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Recipe: “Ground Beef” & Ricotta Pesto Lasagna
(Serves 6)

Ingredients

1 lb lasagna package
1 package Morning Star Meal Starters – Crumbles (Frozen 12 oz)
1 cup Marinara sauce for “meat” crumbles
2 cups additional Marinara sauce (I used Prego)
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cup ricotta cheese (I used low fat)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + extra for sprinkling over lasagna
4 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp melted butter
salt per taste
pepper per taste


Method

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

For pesto, add basil, garlic, pin nuts, olive oil, butter, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse till you get a creamy mix. In a big bowl mix the pesto and ricotta.

In a pan, heat the “meat” crumbles for about 2 mins. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and heat the sauce for 4-5 mins. Keep the mix aside.

Boil the lasagna pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta once its cooked.

To assemble the lasagna, butter a baking dish. Pour one cup of additional marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Lay 3 sheets of lasagna on the marinara sauce. Cover the lasagna sheets with ricotta pesto mix. Lay 3 more lasagna sheets over pesto and then layer with “meat” mix. Cover with more lasagna sheets. Continue the layers till all ingredients are used up and ending with final layer of lasagna sheets. Pour 1 cup of additional marinara sauce over the lasagna sheets. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the marinara sauce.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 mins. Uncover the baking dish and bake again for another 20 mins. Enjoy!