Archive | June 2016

Kohlrabi Gratin

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Kohlrabi Gratin (In memory of Mutti)

When I woke up this morning I, at first, was a little bit ‘confused’; for a couple of minutes I believed it was still in the middle of the night.
Instead of bright sunshine finding its way into the house it was like I was back in England – dark, gloomy and wet!!!

Looking out of the window I found:
Sky as dark as a sky gets when ready to burst open and pours rain down on us.
Clouds hanging so low that one can easily imagine being able to touch them.
Cooler climate, less daily use of A/C’s or Fans in the house and offices.
All this and much more goes with the momentary season here and what is known as

MONSOON!

All this made me change my mind in the last minute what to post this time.

For the past few weeks I wanted to post a few dishes from my home country, Germany, especially using some of my late mother’s recipes. Although she was an average cook (but a very good and keen baker) who kept very few recipes written down (hence the reason why I have to make most of her dishes from memory with a few of my own in-puts here and there) she always brought food, including vegetables, to the table which as a child I hardly ever disliked and in fact have still very fond memories of, even today. Her food was simple, nothing too fancy, and by today’s standards certainly not highly photogenic, but always delicious – mainly great comfort food!

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So todays dish for example would be something she would quickly make in the morning before going to work and all it needed later was appr. 30 minutes in the oven to heat through.

Thanks Mutti – I know we both liked this casserole! Especially on a miserable rainy day.

Kohlrabi Gratin

I used 2 separate bowls this time since in one I added Chilli for Jo, but not in mine.

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So, for those 2 dishes I used the following:
4 x medium sized onions, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
6 x medium Kohlrabi, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
4 x potatoes, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
1 x tub of pre-washed Spinach, just over 2 hand full
1 x + Tbsp dried Thyme (if you can get fresh, use this)
200 ml Vegetable Stock (from a cube)
¾ of a small tetra pack of double cream, (app. 200 ml)
2 x tsp of sunflower oil
A generous lump of butter
Salt, pepper and nutmeg (use to your own liking)

For the topping:

Simple: I just put 3 x slices of bread, grated cheese (I had to use Mozzarella, nothing else here)
(Any hard cheese like sharp Cheddar is good), 1 x small sprinkling of Paprika (hence the colour of the gratin), a little bit of softened butter into my Mixy and blitzed this for a few seconds– ready!!

How to make:

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Take a wide pan or wok (so useful), add oil and butter, and let it foam on medium heat only. When it’s done add all the onions and sauté those gently, with a pinch of salt, for maybe 10 minutes until they slightly change colour.

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Now add the kohlrabi, potatoes and thyme and, best with 2 spoons, mix carefully. Add more salt and black- (or white) pepper. Cover with lid and continue cooking for 5 or so more minutes.

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Add cream and stock, cover again, and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. When liquid has reduced a bit add spinach. Stir once more carefully, cover with lid, switch off heat and move container to side.

Preheat oven to app. 190 C, butter lightly your casserole dish or 2 smaller ones, as I did, and fill them with the cooked mixture.
Top all this with the cheese/breadcrumbs- mixture made earlier.

Put dish or dishes on baking tray and continue baking the gratin in the oven. Keep a watchful eye on this, oven heat various and you do not want a burnt gratin.

That’s it really but do take time to read my notes:

In the distant past I also have used medium sized individual ramekin dishes for lunch- or dinner parties and they were always a great success.

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Mutti sometimes added sliced sausages (anything she had in her kitchen at that moment, i.e. Frankfurter’s, Fleischwurst, Ham etc.)
Don’t skimp on the cream here, using just milk will not do, it will be bland.
Of course you can use as much or little of the 3 main ingredients as you wish.
Glamorous for a photo session this dish might not be, but it is nevertheless a good, satisfying comfort dish!

Guten Appetit!
Carina

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Ulli Theeyal (Little Onion Curry)

ഉള്ളി കറി

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This is a wonderful sidedish to our Kerala Cuisine, mostly associated with part of the traditional Onam Sadhya, but if you like onions, and we certainly do, I promise you it is very difficult to resist not having it fairly frequently as a side dish to any curry or just with some rice or even just with a couple of freshly made chapattis or parathas. The choice is yours – all I am asking is that you please do give this dish a try.

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Before you start your preparation make sure you have a small face towel near you (to wipe away the ‘tears’ which will come from peeling a small heap of tiny onions), some music to while away the time needed for peeling and also assemble all the remaining ingredients within easy reach.

For the Theeyal you see in the final dish I used 2 heaped cups of peeled onions – and as you can see there is not too much to show for in the end and that’s the reason why I normally make 2 or 3 times the amount for us two!!

Soak a small lump of Tamarind pulp in luke warm water for 15 mins, squeeze, discard the pulp but retain the brown water for later.

Over medium to lowish heat gently fry 1.5 cups of grated coconut*, 5 dry red hot chillies*, 1.5 tsp of coriander seeds, 1-2 Tbsp of sliced onions, 1 Tbsp of broken cashewnuts*, – keep gently stirring all the time, if anything burns throw away and start afresh.

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The coconut should take on a dark! Colour (I personally prefer just a slight shade lighter).

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When done, let it cool down a bit and then in your Mixy grind all this to a very fine paste, adding a spoon full of water if needed. Keep aside.

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Now in a large deep pan or wok heat up 2 tsp of coconut oil* or vegetable oil if preferred, still working on low heat now, add a dash of turmeric powder, mix and then add all your washed little onions and at least 6 green chillies*, slit in half.

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Keep stirring until everything is well mixed, turn up your heat to medium, keep stirring and once the onions start taking on colour add the tamarind water. Bring this quickly to a boil, add all the ground masala from your Mixy, check for salt and also add some more plain water, maybe ½ cup or so. Stir once more, cover with a lid, turn down the heat a bit and let it cook until the gravy thickens. This might take anything from 15 to 20 minutes – just keep checking. At the very end, when everything is cooked, add 1-2 tsp of brown sugar*, mix and serve.

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Now in a small pan heat 1 tsp of coconut oil, add just ¼ tsp of mustard seeds and a tiny pinch of fenugreek seeds (rubbed between your fingers to release their beautiful flavour) and 1 or 2 dried red chillies, and when the seeds finish crackling, pour this over your Ulli theeyal.

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Bring to your table and watch the smile on the faces of all who are eating this – like we do shortly when we sit down for our lunch.

Notes:
• Try to use very small onions, otherwise cut in half.
• Frozen grated coconut is fine but never use dehydrated!!
• You can of course use less or more of those red chillies, but 5 are just right (I think).
• Use broken cashewnuts, they are cheaper than the whole once – after all they go into the Mixy.
• Personally I only use a tiny amount of Sweetener.
• If you can get coconut oil use it, it brings out the flavours more – otherwise vegetable oil is fine.
• And by the way – it tastes even better the next day IF you have any left.
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Carina

PINEAPPLE PACHADI

(Malayalam: പച്ചടി)

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The last week has been quite a bit hectic on the social front – meaning, eating out nearly every day! And this is not good for me, not good at all – tell me friends how does it happen that one always eats a bit more when one does not have to cook oneself?

So in order to get back into my (healthy) eating routine I made a wonderful little treat for myself.

P….P….Pachadi! It is most delicious, refreshing and healthy and is normally served as a side dish, a wonderful accompaniment for plain rice, snacks like dosa and idli and goes especially well with hot and spicy curries. You can even find this and other Pachadi’s in top international Indian Restaurants.

Pachadi is also part of the traditional Kerala Onam Sadya and is also often served at weddings (and all this on the traditional Banana leaf).

I use a whole large pineapple just for myself when I want to get back “on track” – it keeps a couple of days in the fridge alright and anyhow there is never any left for a third day.

Try this recipe and you too might get hooked on Pachadi.

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For what you see in the photographs I used:

1 large pineapple, chopped into fine cubes (2 cups)
½ tsp of Turmeric powder
2 ½ tsp of Chilli Powder (adjust to your own taste)
½ cup plus of Curd, slightly beaten for smoothness
Salt to taste
(2 Tbsp Jaggery or other sugar) I did NOT use any of these, since our pineapples are quite sweet naturally and I also like that “kick”.

Items you will need to grind into a smooth paste are:

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½ cup of grated fresh (or even frozen – but never dehydrated!) coconut
2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsp of black mustard seeds
A couple of Tbsp of water (if needed)

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Before serving you will need to temper with the following:

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3 tsp of Coconut oil
1 tsp of mustard seeds
2-3 dry red hot chillies
Some curry leaves

Now start cooking Pachadi:

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Add 1 Tbsp of water to the pot, followed by pineapple, salt, turmeric powder (sugar etc if you are using) and the chilli powder. Mix gently and cook on medium heat until pineapple becomes soft. Here again I like a little bit of ‘crunch’, but it’s up to you.

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Add your coconut paste and cook for a few more minutes until all the water evaporates.
Switch off heat and let this cool down for 10 minutes before you add your curd. Do not boil any more after this or it will curdle.

Remove to a nice serving bowl.

Heat oil, add mustard seeds and when it splutters in a minute or two add the dry red chillies and curry leaves and immediately pour it over the waiting Pachadi. A word of warning thou – be very carefully when you drop the dry chilli into the oil. Twice now they ‘shot’ at me quite ferociously and barely missed my eyes. Not funny – from now on I keep my face averted.

And as you can see from “Mini” and “Mo” (the cats!) and their bowl I just had a little bit of long-grain basmati rice with my Pachadi.

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Enjoy
Carina