Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes.  I look forward to fresh summer Roma tomatoes so I can make this dish.  I learned how to make these from my Italian neighbor, Jeanette.  When we lived in California, my husband used to grow our vegetables.  I used to take the extra veggies to Jeanette.  In return, she taught me how to make her Italian dishes.  She is the one who introduced me to Italian cooking.

This recipe is very simple and versatile.  I put the roasted tomatoes on my cheese board when throwing a wine tasting party.  They are great with a full bodied red wine.  I also use them in pasta dishes and sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes (these were grown by my neighbor, Billy.  I think they are absolutely beautiful)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (mine is in a spray bottle.  Makes it easier to use.  If you don’t have a spray bottle you can drizzle it on with a small spoon.)
  • 1 tablespoon of my Italian Spice Mix
  • sea salt to taste

PREP:

  • Cut the Roma tomatoes in half
  • Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and place them on a foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle them with sea salt and my Italian Spice Mix
  • Drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil

COOK:  Preheat your oven to 400 F.  Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake them till they are browned.  This takes 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Arrange the cooked tomatoes in a bowl or platter.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with grated Romano cheese and fresh basil for a finishing touch.

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes Feature

 

Amritsari Masala Fish

My mother’s side of the family is from Amritsar in Northern India.  Many people in India are vegetarians, so that is how I was raised.  No meat, chicken or fish was cooked in the house.  My mom’s younger brother used to like to eat meat outside the home.  My uncle used to put me on his scooter and take me with him on his meat eating excursions.  He would go to a road side stand and order Amritsari Masala Pork Chops and Fish.  He would buy me Tutti Frutti Ice Cream and Pineapple Cream Pastry in exchange for a promise to not tell anyone at home that he had gone out to eat meat.  You see, my grandmother would not have approved of our culinary outing.

The culinary excursions my uncle took me on were definitely a high point of my childhood.  It was so much fun being with my fun loving uncle, riding on his scooter and eating wonderful food.  Today my uncle is a vegetarian and I have become a pescatarian.  When I visit Amritsar next year, I will go back to the road side stand with my uncle, but this time I will have the Amritsari Masala Fish.  Of course, followed by the Tutti Frutti and the Pineapple Pastry.

Here is my recreation of the recipe.  In the feature photo I served it on top of Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala).  It can be served over any vegetable or grain.  In the photo below I have served it over spiced cauliflower and carrots.

Amritsari Masala Fish Feature 1

INGREDIENTS:  Four Servings

  • 4 pieces of firm white fish.  I used Tilapia loins here.
  • Enough Indian Spice Mix to coat the fish.  If you prepare 1/2 cup of spice mix you should have plenty.
  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil to coat the fish and 2 tablespoons to coat the non stick skillet.
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

PREPPING THE FISH:

Amritsari Masala Fish Prep

  • Rinse the fish.  Pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper and Indian Spice Mix over the fish
  • Drizzle on a tablespoon of grape seed oil
  • Rub in the spices and flip the fish.  Repeat procedure on the second side.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

I have kept the spiced, uncooked fish covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a day or more.  If the fish is very fresh, it will keep well.  The spices prevent it from going bad.  This is a good way to prep protein ahead of meal time.

I have also used this same method to prepare, chicken, pork chops, lamb and turkey for my husband.  This Indian Spice Mix is very versatile.

COOKING THE FISH:

  • Coat a large non stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium-high and let the oil get hot.  When the oil is ready it will shimmer.
  • Place the spiced fish pieces in the pan.  You should hear a sizzle.
  • Leave the fish alone to let the spicy crust form.  You will see the fish turn opaque halfway up the sides.  This is the time to turn the fish.  DO NOT KEEP MOVING THE FISH, TURN IT ONLY ONCE.
  • Pour over the juice of 1 lime.  Cover the pan with a lid.  Turn the flame to low and cook for about 2 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Transfer cooked fish on to a platter.  Pour any pan juices over the fish.  Serve immediately.

RECIPE NOTES:

  • I have also used this recipe to make Indian Fish Tacos.  I will post the fish taco recipe the next time I make it.
  • If you are using this recipe with other proteins, please adjust your cooking time so that a good spice crust forms and the protein is cooked to your liking.

 

Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala)

I love okra.  My neighbor, Billy brought me this lovely okra from his garden.  I decided to make Bhindi Masala.  The okra in this dish is not at all slimy.  This is a classic Northern Indian recipe.  The original recipe uses dried pomegranate seeds instead of tomatoes for tartness.  Tomatoes are native to South America so the original Indian recipes do not have tomato.  My neighbor also brought me these amazing tomatoes, so I decided to use them.  These days tomatoes are used in many Indian recipes.

INGREDIENTS:

Bhindi Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of fresh okra
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 1 inch of fresh turmeric
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala (this is a hot Indian spice mix.  I make my own, but you can buy it at an Indian grocery store)
  • 10 sprigs of cilantro leaves
  • grapeseed oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Bhindi Prep

  • Slice okra into thin discs.  Discard the stems.
  • Slice the onion into long thin slices
  • Pull the cilantro leaves off their stems
  • Finely dice the ginger.  If the skin is fresh leave it on.  If the skin is dried out, peel the ginger.
  • Dice the tomatoes
  • Finely mince the green chili

FRYING THE OKRA:  Frying the okra on high heat burns off the slime.  The result is an okra dish that is not at all slimy.

  • Coat a heavy non-stick skillet with grapeseed oil
  • Turn the heat on high and let the oil heat up till it is very hot
  • Add the okra in a single layer.  You may have to cook the okra in batches.  Coat the pan with more grapeseed oil after frying each batch.  If you put more than a layer of okra in the pan it will steam instead of fry.
  • Fry the okra until it is dark brown and the slime has burned off.  Let the okra sit for 4-5 minutes.  Then stir.  Then let it sit for 4-5 minutes and then stir again.  Keep doing this until no more slime appears when you stir.
  • Remove the okra from the pan into a glass bowl.  Let it sit while you make the spicy base.

COOKING THE SPICY BASE:

Bhindi Cook 1

  • Place the onions, ginger, and chilies in a large, heavy stainless steel skillet.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric.  I love the flavor of fresh turmeric.  You can buy turmeric when it is available  and store it in the freezer.  Pull out a piece 5 minutes before you are ready to grate it.  It grates well when it is fresh or partially frozen.  Don’t thaw it out fully because it will get mushy.  I usually buy fresh turmeric at the Indian grocery store.  I have on occasion seen it at my local supermarket, but it is more expensive than at the Indian grocery store.  You can also use powdered turmeric, but it will be added later along with the garam masala.  Do not add it at this point because the powder will burn.
  • Add a little grapeseed oil and sauté the aromatics, on medium heat, till the onions turn golden.
  • Make a hot spot in the center and add the tomato paste
  • Cook the tomato paste for a minute and then stir it in

Bhindi Cook 5

  • Stir in the garam masala and let it toast for 1 minute.  If you are using powdered turmeric instead of fresh, add it along with the garam masala.
  • Add the tomatoes and cilantro leaves
  • Stir and let the tomatoes cook down for 5 minutes
  • Add the fried okra
  • Stir and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Transfer to a platter and serve family style.  It is usually eaten with rotis, dal and yogurt.  I have not yet posted my recipe for rotis (an Indian flat bread), but here are the links for Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale) and My Mom’s Yogurt.

Bhindi masala can also be served as a side dish with any meat or fish.  I like topping it with Amritsari Masala Fish.

Amritsari Masala Fish IG

The dish as served above makes a yummy, satisfying and figure-friendly meal.  ENJOY !!!

 

Avocado Mediterranean Salad

I found some avocados on sale at the Indian grocery store in Austin.  This is the first time that I ever saw avocados at the Indian grocery store, so I was very surprised to see them.  What surprised me even more was the low, low price.  Only 38 cents a piece!!!

When I got home, my neighbor had delivered some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden.  I already had the mint and cilantro growing in my sun room.  I feel very lucky to have such wonderful ingredients.  All these fresh ingredients inspired me to make this delightful Avocado Mediterranean Salad.

Ingredients:

Avocado Med. Salad Ingredients

  • 6 avocados
  • 4 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 Serrano chile
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 bunch of large mint leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (some people really don’t like cilantro.  If you are one of these people, use flat leaf parsley instead.)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Prep:

Avocado Med. Salad Prep

  • Cut the avocados in half.  Remove the pit.  Peel them, the peel comes off easily just with the fingers.  Sprinkle them with a little lime juice so they don’t turn brown.
  • Dice the Persian cucumbers skin and all.  This should yield 2 cups.
  • Remove the seeds from the Roma tomatoes and dice them.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Finely dice the red onion.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Mince the Serrano chile.
  • Tear the leaves off the cilantro.  This should yield 1/2 cup.
  • Tear the mint leaves into small pieces.  This should yield 1/4 cup.
  • Squeeze the juice of one large lime.  This should yield 1/4 cup.

Combine all of the above ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE AVOCADOS.  Add salt and pepper  to taste. You can also adjust the acidity to your liking by adding more lime juice if you need it.  This is your Mediterranean Salad.

Avocado Med. Salad

The Mediterranean Salad can be enjoyed on its own, but it makes an elegant and delicious presentation stuffed into an avocado.

Avocado Med. Salad Plated

 

Recipe Note:

If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, use regular cucumbers, but you will have to peel and de-seed them.  Another good alternative is hot house (also called English) cucumbers.  The English cucumbers are seedless and also do not need to be peeled.

Please let me know what you think by commenting below.

Kale Feta Egg Breakfast

My neighbor brought me some fresh kale and white onions from his garden.  His beautiful produce inspired me to make a breakfast skillet.

Ingredients:

KFE Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of well-washed kale.  Pull the leaves off the stems.  Tear them into bite-sized pieces.  Don’t throw the stems away.  Finely chop them and use them like you would use chopped celery.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs.  These lovelies came from my chickens.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes.  Use more if you want to spice it up.
  • 1 fresh green chili, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.  Crush the oregano leaves with your hands just before using.  Crushing them allows the oils to be released.
  • 4 ounces of feta cheese.  Use the feta you like best.  I used French feta which is very creamy and made of sheep’s milk.
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook:

Coat a large heavy duty stainless steel skillet with the olive oil.  Add the diced onion, diced kale stems, minced garlic, chili and oregano.

KFE Cook 1

Sauté over medium-low heat until light brown.  Add the tomato paste, blend it in with a wooden spoon and continue to sauté for another minute.

KFE Cook 2KFE Cook 3

Add the kale leaves.  Do not stir.  Cover with a lid and let steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid.  The kale leaves will have turned bright green.

KFE Cook 4KFE Cook 5

Stir the steamed kale leaves into the onion mixture that is sitting below.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Using your wooden spoon, make 6 spaces, 1 for each egg.  Break your 6 eggs open and place one in each space.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each egg.  Cover with a lid and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

KFE Cook 6KFE Cook 7

Crumble the feta cheese on top.  Cover with a lid and let the cheese get soft for 1 minute.

KFE Cook 8

This makes a great anytime meal.  My husband and I enjoyed it for our Sunday brunch.  Not only is this dish delicious, it is also gluten free and figure friendly.

 

 

Cauliflower Thai Curry

I was inspired to make this curry because my little Kaffir Lime Leaf plant suddenly took off.  In the photo below it is sitting in the peacock planter.  I also had eggplant and orange bell peppers left over from my Chargrilled Veggies recipe.  All these ingredients lend themselves to making Thai Curry.  I served it on a bed of Buckwheat Pilaf

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Thai Curry Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, broken down into small florets
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into pieces about the same size as the cauliflower florets
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro stems, finely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 inches of fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 10 Kaffir Lime Leaves. Crush them with your fingers just before using.  This will release their oils.
  • 2 green chilies, finely minced.  I leave the seeds in.  De-seed them if you want to tone down the heat.
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of black onion seeds.  These are also called Nigella in English.  In Hindi they are called Kalonji.
  • 1 tablespoon of Thai green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 3 inches of fresh turmeric which will be grated into the dish.  If you don’t have fresh turmeric you can use a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  • 12 0z bag of Faroe Island scallops.  You can leave these out if you want to make the dish vegan.  I bought my scallops at our local Bastrop, Texas H. E. B.  The company who imports them is Singleton.  The Faroe Islands are between Iceland and Norway in the cold North Atlantic Ocean.  These scallops are a superior product.  They are natural, dry and come flash frozen.
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan
  • 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook:

 

  • Coat a large skillet with grape seed oil.  Add shallots, garlic, ginger, green chilies, cilantro stems, Nigella seeds, zest of the lime, Kaffir lime leaves and 1/2 the cilantro leaves.  Reserve the other half for garnish. Grate in the turmeric.  If you are using powdered turmeric DO NOT add it now.  If we add it now it will burn.  I will tell you later in the recipe when you can add it.
  • Place on medium-low heat and sauté until golden brown.
  • Add the eggplant and sauté for 5 minutes.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 3

  • Add the bell peppers and sauté until slightly brown.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 4

  • Add the tomato paste and the green curry paste.  This is the time to add the turmeric powder if you are not using the fresh turmeric.  Sauté for a few more minutes so that the pastes cook.  Deglaze with the sherry vinegar.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 5

  • Add the cauliflower and sauté until the cauliflower is slightly brown.

 

  • Add the coconut milk along with a little water.  Cover the dish and cook on a low flame until the cauliflower is fork tender.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 8

  • Add the scallops (optional).  Cover and let steam for 3 minutes.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 9

  • Add the lime juice and the reserved cilantro leaves to garnish.

Cauliflower Thai Curry Cook 10

 

It just so happens that this weekend is Songkran, Thai New Year.  This is a traditional curry eaten to celebrate the holiday.  HAPPY SONGKRAN.

 

My Mom’s Yogurt Bowl

Ingredients:

Yogurt Bowl Ingredients

  • Strawberries–3 large
  • Kiwis–2 large
  • Agave Nectar–1 tablespoon
  • Chai Masala–1/2 teaspoon (optional,  can use pumpkin spice instead)
  • Mini Chocolate Chips–2 tablespoons
  • Yogurt–1 cup

Prep:

  • Slice the strawberries lengthwise.  Using a small heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out a heart from each slice.
  • Peel the kiwi, slice into rounds.  Using a small tear drop shaped cookie cutter, cut out a tear drop from each slice.
  • Place the cup of My Mom’s Yogurt in a bowl.  I used a lotus shaped bowl because my Mom’s name was Kamal, which means lotus flower.
  • Sprinkle the yogurt with the Chai Masala.Yogurt Bowl Chai Masala
  • Arrange the fruit slices and chocolate chips on top.
  • Drizzle with agave nectar.

Yogurt Bowl IG

This yogurt bowl was inspired by an Italian food blogger, thepaleat.worpress.com.  She happened to make this yogurt bowl today and post it on Instagram.  It just so happens that today would have been my mom’s 79th birthday.  So in her honor, I used her yogurt to make this bowl today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM.  LOVE YOU ALWAYS.

Chargrilled Veggies

Spring is here.  My husband fired up the charcoal grill for the first time this year.  I was inspired to do some quick and easy meal prepping for the week.

Take whatever fresh veggies you can find.  Slice them into thick pieces.  If you have peppers, leave them whole.  Just poke a hole in each pepper so that it does not explode during the cooking process.  Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with my Italian Spice Mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chargrilled Veggies Prep

In the photo above, I have tomatillos, baby carrots, baby turnips, eggplant, and a variety of peppers and squashes.  I also have Roma tomatoes but my husband put them on the grill before I had a chance to take the photo.

Grill the veggies till they are tender and charred.  I prefer charcoal but you can use whatever you like.

Chargrilled Veggies on The Grill

Once all the veggies are done.  Make a plate for today’s meal and refrigerate the rest in glass containers covered with plastic wrap.

Chargrilled Veggies Stored

 

Then all you have to do for the rest of the week is reheat the veggies and add proteins.  My husband also cooks different meats on the grill and reheats them later in the week.  I prep seafood for myself and cook what I need as my protein for the week.

Delicious, healthy and quick meals are easy to put together all week long.