Red Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Red Quinoa and Asparagus Salad
Quinoa comes in a rainbow of colors. You can even find a packaged blend in rainbow colors. When cooked, each color is slightly different from the other in texture and flavor. I find white quinoa is the best substitute for rice and it cooks a little faster than the others.

Red quinoa, in today’s recipe, works really well because it has a rich nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. Check the package to see if the quinoa is pre-washed. If not, wash the quinoa in several changes of water to remove the bitter outer coating, before cooking. You can buy quinoa at Wegmans or Trader Joe’s. You can also purchase it on line from Amazon.

What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa? Please share your comments on my blog or on my Facebook page.

Red Quinoa and Asparagus Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus, (about one pound)
5 radishes, cut into matchsticks
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
5 oz (142 g) sweet baby lettuce (or lettuce of your choice)

Cut the asparagus on bias into 1-inch pieces. Blanch the asparagus in a pot of salted, boiling water, for three minutes. Drop into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Wash the quinoa in a sieve under running water, until the water runs clear. Drain. Add the quinoa and stock into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to the lowest point, cover with a lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. Cool.

Juice and zest the lemon and add to a large bowl. Add asparagus, radish, tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the quinoa and toss to combine. Chill for five minutes.

Put a large handful of baby lettuce on a plate and top with the red quinoa and asparagus salad. No dressing required.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

Zucchini and Corn Fritters
There are several ways to enjoy these zucchini and corn fritters. You can put them in a sandwich, have them as a side dish, or pair them with a spring salad for a lovely, light lunch. You can make these fritters gluten free by using one cup of pure cornstarch instead of the cornstarch and all purpose flour listed in the ingredients. While reading about gluten free, I learned that anything can be contaminated with gluten during processing. If you want to be on the ultra-safe side, it’s always best to buy ingredients that are certified gluten-free.

When I made these fritters the first time, I did not squeeze the excess water from the shredded zucchini and it made my batter too thin. So, use a cheesecloth to squeeze the excess water from the zucchini. Save the liquid. You can always add a tablespoon or two of the zucchini water to make the batter a thick, pouring consistency.

Summer is a great time to experiment with fresh herbs. I used oregano in this recipe but you can use whatever herbs float your boat! Or, Indianize it with cilantro, whole crushed cumin or coriander seeds, and dry chilli flakes.

What are some of your favorites herbs and spices? Do you use herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, and marjoram to give your Indian recipes a new twist? I look forward to your comments on my blog or on my Facebook page.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 20

2 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup Argo cornstarch, (Argo & Bob’s Red Mill are gluten free)
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon pepper
1¼ teaspoons salt, (or to taste)
4 cups shredded zucchini, (squeeze water out)
1½ cups thawed frozen corn
1 cup finely chopped green onions, (white and green parts)
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeño, (optional, depending on heat and your preference)
5 tablespoons grape seed oil, (or oil of your choice)

In a large bowl add slightly beaten eggs, cornstarch, flour, baking soda, pepper, and salt. Use a cheesecloth to squeeze excess water from the shredded zucchini. Save the liquid. Add zucchini, corn, green onion, oregano, and jalapeño to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well to combine. Stir in a tablespoon or two of the zucchini water if the batter is too dry.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil for shallow frying and when it shimmers, add half cup of the batter. Gently spread to form a three-inch pancake. Make three more fritters. When the edges start turning light brown, about three minutes, turn over and fry the other side for two minutes. Remove on to a paper towel lined sheet pan. Make the rest of the fritters.

Reposting – Black Eyed Peas Curry – Lobia Curry


Black Eyed Peas Curry – Lobia Curry
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6

3 15.5oz (439g) cans of black eyed peas, drained
¼ cup oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf, torn into two
2 black cardamoms
1-inch piece of cinnamon, broken into bits
½ of one star anise
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 cups blanched, skinned, and diced tomatoes
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1½ cups of water
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 tablespoons kasori methi, crushed
2-3 slit green chillies, (optional)

Place a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and when it shimmers, add the onion, bay leaf, black cardamoms, cinnamon, star anise, cumin, and cloves. Fry the onion and spices until the onion turns light brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir constantly and cook for about two minutes or until the raw smell of ginger-garlic disappears. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, and chili powder. Stir well and let the tomatoes cook until the oil separates.

Next, add the black eyed peas, water, and salt. Let it come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Finally, add the garam masala, kasori methi, and green chilli. Stir and let it cook for another five minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro or whole green chillies.

How to Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

How to Season Your Cast Iron SkilletMy mother-in-law had two beautiful cast iron skillets that I loved to use when I cooked in her kitchen. When I moved to the U.S., I bought a couple of my own. Cooking in a cast iron skillet increases the iron content in food. The longer the food is in contact with the skillet the more iron it will absorb. Cast iron skillets can be used to cook on the stove, the oven or the grill.

You may ask, what is seasoning and why do I need to season my cast iron skillet? Coating your cast iron skillet with cooking oil or shortening and baking it in an oven at 350° F for an hour is called seasoning. This process makes the surface of your cast iron skillet non-stick.

This past weekend, I used my cast iron skillet to make a scrumptious apple pie. I will share the recipe with you soon. But first, I want to share some easy steps on how to season your cast iron skillet. If taken care of properly, a good cast iron skillet can last a lifetime. It can be passed down to your children as an heirloom. I bet they will be happy to inherit it.

Here are the steps on how to season your cast iron skillet:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Wash the skillet with warm, soapy water. Use a sponge or stiff brush to clean grime.
3. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
4. Use a paper towel or a piece of cloth to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening to the inside and outside of the skillet.
5. Place the skillet upside down on the oven’s center rack.
6. Place a sheet of aluminum foil below the rack to catch any particles or oil that may drip.
7. Bake for one hour.
8. Turn off the oven and allow the skillet to cool completely, before taking it out of the oven.