Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Il pesto e pronto

Hello choons. Ive been wanting to make more things which I can keep in the fridge, and give out gingerly when people beg for it, so I decided to make pesto a few moons back. What happened is that my parents went off to the hills and brought back some whole walnuts with the shells on. I also have a lot of fresh basil growing in a pot outside my house, so I was sorted on these two ingredients. The others are easy to get, you dont have to travel far and wide, its not exactly fiddlehead ferns or anything. This pesto is not really grainy, but is of sauce consistency. You can make it how you like really, your kitchen is a democracy. Also for this post, the title means the pesto is ready in Italian. My lovely friend Neeharika is learning Italian and it is always good to associate food type with the actual language in my opinion. Whatever. So now Im gonta write the post. Ready, steady, start. 


What you need

Here are the main ingredients, apart from the salt and pepper

An old bottle
A largeish cup of fresh basil leaves, one handful is enough (wash the leaves)
Cheese to taste, preferably fresh parmesan, but I had some leftover Edam and a bottle of parmesan flakes so I used that
Three garlic cloves, pounded in a mortar pestle
Five walnut kernels, or around two tablespoons of lightly crushed walnuts ( it is a wonderful process to take out the walnuts by hand and look at them and create a mess, but im assuming you love mass produced walnuts from a packet, so use those)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
A couple of tablespoons of olive oil 
Three tablespoons of water (to make sauce like, not a necessity) 

Half a lemon and a smattering of sugar if things go wrong, keep on stand by basically 

What to do 

Blend everything together. Seriously thats it. These quantities make less than a small bottle, but the taste is so good, and the pesto is so potent, that a small teaspoon of miserliness goes a long way. Also, I had to add the juice of half a lemon and some sugar to make the flavors come together, it was a tad bitter otherwise. You can taste and make up your mind. 

This is so tempting, I can eat it like chutney. But I make sure that I take only small quantities out of the bottle, because it is really potent. Anyway, you do your thing, I do mine. But make the pesto, will go a long way. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I love my father and lets use up mangoes because we wont get them soon

So today is Father's day, and although ive never really celebrated it earlier, it is a great occasion to show off my cooking skills and make my father feel special. He is wonderful really, however grudgingly I may admit that. I remember once, when I was 17, I had failed all my exams mostly. My "class teacher" (never understood this, as opposed to what kind of a teacher?) warned my father and said that, "She will fail in the boards!! Understand this Mr. Menon!!" How did my father deal with this? He took me to Sagar ( a wonderful eatery for South Indian food with chains across my city) and fed me doshas. He then took me home and calmly sat me down. He said, "Baba, you really need to study now. You shouldnt fail. Even though I dont care, but do it for yourself." That was all I needed. I sincerely studied a ton, and got decent marks. He has another wonderful quality. He never pushes me to do random stuff.  If I cant do something, or dont want to, he never will say, NO YOU HAVE TO. He is a tennis coach, and I am not even remotely inclined to sporty activities. So he never said that I will have to be the next Steffi Graf (shes my favorite of all time :D). I barely know how to play tennis, and Im in a happy space. And I love that he gives people so much joy through his work. Ok enough said. Back to cooking. Yo. 

(Amrakhand-an Indian dessert using mangoes) 

What you need: 

A father 
Some time on your hands
A friend for help because the original help is busy and generally in life 

Two ripe mangoes 
One tin of condensed milk 
One tub of 400 grams yogurt 
100 grams of cottage cheese/paneer, crushed by hand

What to do: 

1. Peel the mangoes and take out the pulp. Its best to use your hands really, because you 
can truly take out the pulp properly. You can also use a spoon you prude. 

2. Keep the pulp in a bowl, and add the crushed paneer to it. 

3. Whip the yogurt till it becomes smoothish, but not lassi like. My lovely friend, philosopher, guide Dhiviya did this step. 

4. Add the condensed milk to the bowl with the mango pulp and cottage cheese. Add the contents of this bowl to the mixie and blitz away! 

6. Fold in the contents of the mixie to the yogurt bowl ( it is a saucepan here, go figure). Notice the concentration. 

Left (Crazy cooker), Right (Awesome sauce Dhiviya)

7. Notice the lovely marble type formation, and the yonex container. Once upon a time it had tennis balls in it, now it has podi in it. (Podi=gunpowder chutney) We never throw old tennis ball containers away in the Menon household, oh never never. 

 And here is a close up. . . 

8. Add it to a decent we can serve this to guests bowl. Freeze till you want to eat it. Around four hours is gooch. 

All the best with this choons. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Keep calm and make labne and zulu please go for a walk

Ok so Zulu needs to walk. She really does. Blah. Today I will show you choons how to make labne. Labne is this middle eastern dip/spread on bread thing. I dont know where it originated but I love it. And I suggest you make some too. I made a second bottle but my house baby Ria was chillaxing one day on the kitchen slab and she broke it. So im going to try again soonish. Anyway, labne. I havent blogged in ages and so im really rusty and all embarrassed that Ive lost my touch, although I really doubt it. So here goes. . . . 


Luscious lets eat some more labne 

What you need: 

24 hours

Two tubs of 400 grams yogurt, I used nestle A plus 
A bunch of mint and coriander chopped up 

Around fifteen pepper corns, pounded up in a mortar pestle 
Garlic to taste, pounded up in a mortar pestle  
Salt to taste 
A lot of olive oil ( a small bottle of the relatively cheaper buy one get one free spanish kind will do, but dont buy pomace, because thats shady and we are not shady) 

A thin cotton cloth/hankie or a sieve, cloth works better 
A spare glass bottle, the kind we keep around at home when achaar/ surreptitious 'mixed fruit' jam gets over 

What to do: 

1. Add all the yogurt on top of the cotton cloth, and tie the cloth up in a bundle type thing. Then, tie it to your kitchen tap. Or any place from which you can hang things. After some time, considering its 45 degrees outside, put it in the fridge.

2. This process should continue for 24 hours, or atleast 12 hours. The idea is for all the extra water to come out. You can use homemade yogurt but it takes really long, or atleast I feel so. I apologize for no pictures. Sniffles. 

3. Once you take it out of the cloth, look at it closely. It is necessary to realize that you've made yogurt cheese effectively. You can make cheese at home. Wheee. 

3. Carefully add the salt, pepper and garlic to the cheese and mix around. 

4. Prepare a herb plate/huge katori, which is essentially just the coriander and mint on the plate/huge katori. 

Huge katori

5. Roll the yogurt cheese into balls, and place it on the herb plate. Coat it with the herbs. 

I love this picture. You better love it too.

6. Put a little olive oil in the glass bottle. Add some of the balls, and then put some more oil. Repeat the process until all of them are finished. 

7. You now have a perfectly acceptable bottle of home-made bread spread. It looks awesome, so show off value is high, 9 3/4 / 10 types. 

8. Put it in the fridge. Ignore the lets-put-on-weight Nutella and the fake mayonaise. 

Also, for choontaintment, look at Zulu's latest hiding place. Shes so in your face sometimes. Shes right under my chair. And we dare not disturb her fiefdom because she bites. 

Ok, thats it for now. See you later gators.