Banana Fritters

Banana Fritters

I got the idea of making banana fritters when I ate beignets at Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C. I added the ripe banana just to give it a hint of banana flavor. I served my fritters sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, but if you are adventurous you could serve it with chocolate or caramel sauce.

Banana Fritters
2 eggs
1 teaspoon oil
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons sugar
1¼ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 very ripe mashed banana
Oil for deep frying
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Beat eggs, oil, milk, vanilla and sugar. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth. Stir in the mashed banana.

Heat oil for deep frying in a wok over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter gently into the oil. Fry until both sides are lightly golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while the fritters are still warm. Serve immediately.

Cabbage Thoren

Cabbage ThorenCabbage “thoran” is a dish my mom made often. It is a Kerala specialty and the main ingredients are shredded cabbage and grated coconut. Thoran means dry vegetable dish, in that it does not have a gravy. I am sharing with you a basic thoran recipe. You can switch the star ingredient, cabbage, for French green beans, carrots, or spinach.

My mom was my favorite chef and I loved the food she made for my family. During dinner, she would often tout the health benefits of the vegetables she cooked. When we had cabbage thoran, her lecture would go something like this: “Did you know that the cheap, humble looking cabbage can do wonders for our bodies? It has more vitamin C than oranges. It helps to repair the wear and tear of our bodies and also treats ulcers and certain cancers, while strengthening our immune system.” I am sure my brothers and sister can hear my mom’s voice right now. I catch myself doing the same thing at my table with my children!

My daughter-in-law, Dharti, likes this dish so I find myself buying cabbage more often than I used to. Shredding cabbage is easy to do with a mandoline. In India we used a small stone mortar and pestle to crush the ingredients required for this recipe, but you can use a blender or food processor to do the same job.

Cabbage Thoren
1 small cabbage, finely shredded (about 6-8 cups loosely packed)
1 teaspoons red chilli seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 cup grated fresh coconut (or grated frozen coconut)
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black gram dal
6 tablespoons sliced shallots
1 sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies (optional)

Coarsely grind the chilli seeds, cumin seeds, finely grated garlic and 2 tablespoons sliced shallots in a food processor. Two or three pulses should do. Add coconut and turmeric and pulse again so that all the ingredients are coarsely ground.

Wash the shredded cabbage, drain well and put it in a saucepan over medium high heat. Make a well in the center of the cabbage and add the ground ingredients. Cover the ground ingredients it with a little cabbage and put the lid on the pan. Cook for about six minutes. Stir well and if there is water, remove the lid and let the water evaporate. Remove from heat.

Heat oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the black gram dal and let them brown lightly. Then add the curry leaves and chopped shallots. When the shallots turn light brown pour the seasoning is ready. Pour it over the cooked cabbage. Stir well, garnish with fresh green chillies and serve.

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry pancakes3There’s nothing like waking up to pancakes on a Sunday. I wish I could have them more than once a week. I must admit that, for many years, my pancakes were made from a box of Bisquick. This morning, I made some blueberry pancakes from scratch, thanks to the crew from America’s Test Kitchen. And they are simply amazing!

My family knows I love cookbooks so when they visit me they often bring me books. My nephew, Bobby, and his wife, Anna, visited recently from New York and they brought me, The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook – 2001-2013. Thanks, kids, I love the book. The blueberry pancake recipe that I share with you today is adapted from this book. So, get in the kitchen and give this recipe a try. I promise, you will not go back to making pancakes from a box!

Blueberry Pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh blueberries

Place the blueberries in a mesh strainer and wash them gently by running cold water over them. Dry the blueberries on a paper towel lined plate.

In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Whisk the egg, melted and cooled butter, and buttermilk until combined. Make a small well in the center of the dry flour mixture; pour the milk mixture and whisk very gently until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat; add 1 teaspoon of oil and turn the pan to coat the entire surface. Pour ¼ cup of the batter onto three spots on the pan; sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the blueberries over each pancake. Cook until large bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. About two minutes. Turn the pancake’s and cook until golden brown on the other side. Make the rest of the pancakes in the same manner. These pancakes taste best topped with butter and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Yummy!

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup2A bowl of hot soup is a welcome comfort on cold winter evenings. I make soup for dinner quite often  because it is easy to make, filling, and light enough for an evening meal. The mushroom soup recipe that I am sharing with you today is a basic recipe which can be changed easily with whatever vegetables you have on hand. For example, if you don’t have enough mushrooms, you could add a potato, two carrots, two sticks of celery and make a vegetable soup. Soup and toasted cheese sandwiches are made for each other. Try this recipe and let me know how it turns out. Stay warm!

Mushroom Soup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups chopped button mushroom and stems
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup hot water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Wipe the mushroom clean and slice into ¼ in thick pieces. You can use the stems as well.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until transparent. It will take about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and stir well so that the pieces are coated with butter. You can turn the heat up to medium high at this point. Stir once in a while until the mushrooms release their liquid. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot and cook until all the water evaporates.

Add chicken stock or vegetable stock and the hot water. Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mushroom are fully cooked and tender. It will take about 20 minutes. Let the soup cool.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Put the puree back into the large pot and add the cream. Bring to simmer over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with croutons and little blobs of cream.