Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

FOOD-0-GRAM

Recipes for a rainy day

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Ultimate rainy day therapy  
After the blazing summer, a rainy day is welcomed with open arms. Dull and gloomy, and all you want to do is be under the covers, hands wrapped around a warm bowl or a cup, and eyes transfixed on watching your favourite movie or reading an amazing book.
As it’s pouring and roaring outside, your Facebook news feed will be bombarded with status updates of “I want khichuri”.
Well I don’t want khichuri every time it rains! Sometimes you get stuck thinking — what else can you eat in this downpour? Well, here I am to help you expand your rainy day menu!

Chicken and dumplings
Ingredients:
Chicken and stock:
1 (3 to 3½ pound) whole organic chicken
2 bay leaves
½ tsp thyme
4 to 5 black peppercorns
1 head garlic, split through the equator
2 tbsp salt
Buttermilk-onion dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onions
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk substitute
Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
¼ cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Chopped onions, for garnish

Method:
For the stock:
Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large pot and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Skim the surface of the fat and scum as it cooks.

When done, remove the chicken to a cutting board. Strain the stock and shred the meat into big pieces — the stock will be used for the sauce and the chicken will be folded into it.

For the dumplings:
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, onions and buttermilk together. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

To prepare sauce:
In a pot, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves and sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions.

Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture.

The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped onions before serving.

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Buttermilk substitute
Ingredient:
Milk (just under one cup)
1 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice

Method:
Place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line. Let stand for five minute. Then use as much as your recipe calls for.

Easy peazy potato soup
A delicious and incredibly tasty soup! It coats your mouth and throat with its richness. It is best served with warm bed rolls.

Ingredients:
3 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled
½ small onion
1 cup vegetable broth/stock (you can use Continental powder stock)
¼ tsp rosemary
1/8  1/4 tsp white pepper (using more will make it spicy)
½ tsp salt, or to taste
5 raw cashews
1½ cups milk

Method:
Chop the onion and sauté it until soft in a medium-sized saucepan. Cut the potatoes into cubes and add 2/3 of them to the pan, along with the broth, rosemary, white pepper, and salt. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Pour into blender along with cashew and milk. Blend until smooth. Return to pan, add remaining potatoes, and cook, stirring often, over low heat until hot. If you want it smooth and silky, add all the potatoes in the blender.

Roma’s crab soup
After a food photoshoot, I was left with some big crabs. I made up this recipe with whatever I could find at hand.
Ingredients:
1 can coconut milk
2½ cups of water
A large ginger, halved (julienne)
¼ cup lime juice
2 stalks coriander leaf
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 large onion (sliced)
4 large crabs (segmented)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp power vegetable/chicken stock

Method:
Bring two cups of water to a boil and add the crabs. Give 3 minutes for the crabs to be cooked. Drain the water and set the crabs aside. In a pot add coconut milk plus 2½ cups of water, lemon grass, ginger, onions, and vegetable stock. Bring this to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the liquid of the aromatics and put it back on the heat.

Add fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and crabs. Check the salt, add more if needed. Add coriander and shimmer for 2 more minutes.

Dim sum
The meaning of the word literally means ‘touch the heart’, and it touches my heart and soul! After pasta, dim sum is my most favourite dish of all time. You know the things that make you go ‘mmmm’? Dim sum is it!

Ingredients:
200g ground chicken
200g shrimp, shelled, de-veined and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 green chilli pepper, finely chopped, seeded and membrane removed (jalapeno)
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp soy sauce, plus some for dipping
1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp sesame oil
½ lemon, juiced
¼ tsp salt
1 package wonton wrappers (available at all superstores)

Method:
Mix together the chicken, shrimp, chilli, ginger and onion. Blend the cornstarch with half the egg and stir into the meat mixture with the soy. Season to taste with salt. Arrange the wonton wrappers on a work surface. (Just a little tip, try to keep the wonton wrappers under a wet tea towel till you will use it. It will stop the wrappers from drying out)

Dip a tablespoon in cold water and then drop 1 tablespoon of filling onto the centre of each wrapper. Brush the wrappers with the remaining egg and pull up the edges, pinching together lightly at the top, leaving a small gap so the filling can just be seen.

Prepare the steamer by adding water to the wok and bring to a boil (the water should not touch the bottom of the steamer basket). Line the bottom of the steamer basket with very thin muslin cloth or line with the optional cabbage leaves.

Stand the dumplings in the steamer in a single layer without letting them touch. Set the bamboo steamer over the pot, then cover with the bamboo lid. Steam for 10-12 minutes, or until the filling feels firm and is cooked through. (Watch the water level adding more water as needed).

Serve in the steamer basket with dipping sauce.
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Crazy cheese fries
This is what happens when I’m sick of having the same thing, and there are a lot of things in my fridge.

Ingredients:
1 cup shredded Kissan cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 small capsicum, chopped (optional)
125g chopped smoked chicken salami (preferably from White Hen, in Banani)
4-5 chopped black olives
1 pinch of oregano

Method:
Place all these ingredients on top of 1½ kg of French fries. Make sure you put it in an oven proof dish. If you are going to do this in a microwave, I’d say don’t, but if you do here is what you have to do: Place a microwaveable plate on top of the dish, but don’t cover the whole thing. Leave a little space. Also place a cup with a bit of water in it, so that the fries do not get rubbery. Microwave for a minute, check if the cheese melts, if not put it in for 30 seconds longer.

If you are going to grill it in the electric oven, preheat the oven at 180 for 10 minutes and bake it for about 5 minutes at 125 degrees.

Nahid O’s special beef stew
There are certain dishes that no one can make except your own mother. This is one of them. It’s just amazing and she always makes it with the biggest smile. It tastes great on a chilly or rainy night with hot ‘ata rooti’ or plain rice.

Ingredients:
1kg beef, sliced
300g onions, round slices
300g potatoes, 5cm round slices
300g tomato, round slices
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
2 tbsp mustard paste
½ cup ghee
½ cup soy bean oil
3 tsp salt (add more at the end if you think it’s needed)
1 tsp black pepper

Method:
Mix the beef, mustard paste, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, salt and black pepper together. Cover and marinade for an hour. Mix the ghee and the oil in a bowl or cup. In a heavy pot, layer meat, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes (in that order). In between each layer, spoon in the oil and ghee mixture 2-3 tablespoons at a time. If there is any of the oil-ghee mixture left pour it over the layers when they are done.

To cook in the oven:  Cover the pot and put it in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 250°.

To cook on the stove: Cover and put on the stove at a high heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes lower the heat to low and cook for a further 45 minutes.

Serve with plain rice, ‘ata rooti’ or polao.