Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kale Navy Bean Soup

The harsh cold weather is not letting us slip on to spring jackets and light clothes.  It is contrary that in Spring you have to wear boots and thick coats to keep warm.  You have to go along with what nature brings in.  That being said, the food you consume should be apt for the weather.  Soups are the comforting food of my family during winter, hence my next recipe is a soup again.

Kale Navy Bean Soup is a simple soup that is very mild in flavors.  One of the best aspects of this soup is that you don't need  any canned broth especially when you are concerned about those BPA coated cans.  Another plus point of this simple soup is that it uses kale.

Kale, also known as borecole is one of the top rated super food.  Kale is also regarded as the 'Queen of Greens'.  These green leaves are popular for their exceptional nutrition and health benefits.  They belong to the cruciferous family such as Cabbage, Collards, Broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.  These nutritional powerhouse are packed with calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.  Kale helps to reduce the risk of cancer and lowers cholesterol.

Kale doesn't have any bitter taste, so I include them in dishes and soups knowing that I am serving something healthy for my family. 

Serves - 5


1 1/2 cup - dry navy beans or great northern beans soaked over night
3 cups - water
2 cups - kale leaves chopped
1/2 cup - diced onions
6 cloves - garlic minced
15 - cherry tomatoes cut into halves
1/2 tsp - red chili flakes
1/2 tsp - Italian herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme)
3 + 1/2 cup - water
2 tsp - extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp - fresh basil leaves chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

  • Soaking 1 1/2 cup of dry beans will yield 4 cups of beans.  Pressure cook the beans with 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt till 3 whistle blows.  Keep them aside till the pressure subsides.
  • Take one cup of the cooked beans, add 1/2 cup of water and grind them into a smooth paste.
  • Take a sauce pan and cook the minced garlic in 2 tsp of olive oil till light golden brown.  Add the chopped onions, herbs, salt and pepper and cook till onions are translucent.   Cook the chopped kale for 2 -3 minutes or until they are wilted.  Add cherry tomatoes and cover and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Now add the cooked beans, beans paste, chopped basil and 3 cups of water and cook for 15 minutes or till the flavors are well blended.
  • Serve them hot with pull apart bread.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Vegetable Poha With Punjabi Chhole/Vegetable Rice Flakes With Chickpeas Curry

Wednesday was supposed to be the first day of Spring....well it is full of snow here.  The weather is so unpredictable these days and I am not expecting a warm Easter.  Flu is taking its turn in my family, kids are sharing their cold with each other, even if I try my best to keep them apart, they stay together when you tell them not to do so.  Honestly I am longing for bright sunlight and those sunny days.

Nobody is really having a good appetite for big dinner last few days and I was just making soups these days.  Today I decided to cook something more than a soup and thought of making some Poha which my family loves when accompanied with Chhole.  My hubby's Aunt used to make Poha for us when they used to live close to our old house.  She lives little far away now and I really miss her Poha.

Poha is flattened rice or rice flakes.  They are pre-cooked so the cooking time for preparing Poha is minimal.  This makes it an easy meal to prepare.  People use it as breakfast too, but we prefer it as  dinner with some chickpeas curry.  It really gets ready under 15 minutes.

Ingredient for Vegetable Poha

Thick Poha - 4 cups
1 - medium size onion chopped
1 - small potato cut into small piece (.5 cm thickness)
2 - green chili chopped
1/2 cup - broccoli chopped
5 - button mushrooms chopped
1/4 cup - chopped coriander leaves
1/4 tsp - mustard seeds
1/2 tsp - Chana daal (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp - raw peanuts
1 1/2 tbsp - oil
salt to taste

2 tsp - lemon juice
1 tbsp - chopped coriander leaves

Ingredients for Chhole
1 1/2 cup - dry chickpeas soaked overnight
1 - teabag
1 cup - onion chopped
5 cloves garlic chopped
2 tbsp - finely chopped ginger
1 tsp - kashmiri chilli
2 tbsp - Punjabi Chhole Masala
1 - tomato chopped
1/4 cup - chopped coriander leaves
1/4 tsp - mustard seeds
1 tbsp - oil
salt to taste

Directions to prepare Poha:

  • Take 4 cups of dry Poha in a deep bowl and add water to it till it is soaked for 1 minute. Gently mix it and drain the water through a strainer.  Turn the tap on and run the water over  the strainer with Poha for 30 seconds and keep it aside to drain completely.
  • In a big non-stick pan or cast iron pan heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and splutter mustard seeds.  Roast the Chana daal and peanuts in the pan for couple of minutes.  Add the chopped onions, mushrooms, potatoes, green chili, turmeric powder and salt and cook till onions are light golden brown and the potatoes are cooked.  Now add the chopped broccoli, cilantro and cover and cook for 2 -3 minutes.
  • Using a fork fluff the wet Poha and sprinkle salt to taste.  Add the poha to the cooked vegetable mix in the pan and gently mix till the poha is mixed well with the vegetables.  Adjust salt per taste.
  • Garnish with lemon juice and chopped Cilantro.
Directions to prepare Chhole:
  • Pressure cook the soaked chickpeas with teabag and enough water (just enough to completely cover the chickpeas) till 4 whistle blows and turn off the burner and let it cool.
  • In a non-stick or cast iron pan, splutter 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in 1 tbsp of oil.  Cook chopped onions, garlic and ginger till golden brown.  Add turmeric powder, chili powder and Chhole Masala and cook till the raw smell goes away.  Add chopped coriander leaves and tomato and cook for couple of minutes.
  • Open the pressure cooker and remove the tea bag.  Add the Masala mix from the above step to the chickpeas and add 1 cup of water and pressure cook till 2 more whistles blow.  Let the pressure subside completely before you open the cooker.
  • Transfer the prepared chhole to a dish and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Enjoy the Poha with Punjabi Chhole.
  • Don't over soak Poha.  It might tend to stick together when there is more moisture.  Make sure you use Thick Poha.  You can get them from Indian store.
  • You can use any vegetables of your choice to prepare Poha.
  • If you are not using a tea bag, tie 1 tsp of tea leaves in a cheese cloth and cook it with chickpeas.
  • If you think your Poha is too dry sprinkle 1 tbsp of water while cooking it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Asparagus Shallot Whole Wheat Pizza Blanco

Pizzas without a tomato sauce are commonly referred to ‘Pizza Blanco’ in Italy.  They are more like an artisan pizza with thin crust and infused with flavors from herbs.  Doesn't that sound delicious?  And who doesn't like to make one of these pizzas at home when you can get a flavor similar to that. 

I made the Pizza Blanco for lunch on Sunday while I was trying to decorate the cake that I posted earlier.  Now you can guess why my frosting went wrong.  Multi-tasking while cake decoration is not a good idea :).  Anyways, the pizza was rich in flavors and it was really delicious.  My family loved it very much.  I just threw some asparagus and shallots as topping and they turned out to be a yummy combination.  The flavors of the pizza are attained by brushing the crust with olive oil that is infused with herbs and garlic.  You can use any topping of your choice.  

Yields - 2 thin crust pizza
3 cups - whole grain wheat flour
1/4 cup - luke warm water
1 packet or 1 1/2 tsp - instant dry yeast
1 tsp - sugar
1/2 tsp - salt
1 cup - luke warm water
1 tsp - extra virgin olive oil 

To Brush
2 tbsp - extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp - red chili flakes
1 clove - garlic grated
2 tsp - fresh  or dry basil
Kosher salt to sprinkle
10 stems - asparagus
10 - shallots or pearl onions thinly sliced
1 clove - garlic grated
1/4 tsp - red chili flakes
1 tbsp - extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
2 1/2 cups - grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup - Parmesan cheese

  • Mix 1 packet or 1 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast  and 1 tsp of sugar with 1/4 cup of luke warm water and keep it aside for 10 minutes or till it is frothy.
  • Knead the wheat flour, yeast mix, salt  and 1 cup of water to form a elastic dough.  The dough might stick a little bit, but its OK.  Add 1 tsp of olive oil to coat the top of the dough.  Cover and leave it to rise for 1 hr.
  • Pre heat oven to 410 degree F.
  • Wash and pat dry the asparagus.  Remove the bottom hard part of the asparagus and cut them into halves lengthwise.
  • Add the asparagus, sliced shallots, grated garlic, red chili flakes and 1 tbsp of olive oil to a bowl.  Toss them gently to coat well without breaking the asparagus and separating the shallot slices.
  • In a small bowl mix together 2 tbsp of olive oil, grated garlic and chili flakes for brushing.
  • Dust the pizza pan with wheat flour.  Punch down the air from the pizza dough and divide the dough into 2 balls. Roll the dough ball on a floured surface into a thin crust.  I rolled the dough into a rectangle shape.
  • Place the rolled sheet on the pizza or baking pan and use your fingers to spread it more if the corners don't have a good shape.
  • Brush the garlic basil oil on the rolled dough and sprinkle kosher salt.  Add 1 1/4 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese on the rolled dough.  Arrange half of the asparagus Shallot mix on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese above it.
  • Bake for 12 - 15 minutes till the side gets light golden brown.
  • Make the second pizza with the rest of the dough and toppings.  Enjoy them while they are warm.
  • You can add more herbs like oregano, rosemary and even use pepper to add more flavors to the brushing oil.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eggless Layered Chocolate Cake

Cake decoration is not taken seriously at Flavzcorner yet. The pictures explains that ...lol.  Whenever a birthday approaches in my family, that's when I will be thinking of cake decoration.  I adore the cake decoration, but never put a real effort to perfect them.  Butter cream frosting is not my favorite, but if offered I would never deny a piece of cake that is frosted with butter cream.  I am all for the light whipped kind of textured frosting.  That being said Swiss butter cream frosting is one of my favorites.  Since its Lenten period we don't use eggs, I was perplexed on what to go on top of the cake that I was planning to bake for my hubby's birthday.  I decided to go with cream cheese frosting on the cake since I made some chocolate flavored cream cheese frosting for my son few days ago for a project he was doing in his school for creativity.  They were making ginger bread house.  He took the frosting to school and they didn't really use the whole container of frosting I made and they decided to munch on the graham crackers by dipping in the chocolate frosting.  So I knew that it will be a good frosting to top my cake.

I had all planned and on the way back from work after picking up my little ones I was so excited and told little Noah that I was going to make a layered cake with some roses on it thinking that it would remain as a secret till we present the cake before Daddy to cut it.  In the evening when Daddy came from work, little Noah was anxiously waiting for him and he ran to him and told him the secret of baking the cake.  Not that Daddy won't guess that I will be making a cake, but secrets never remain as secrets with my little ones :).  Anyways I decided to bake a small 6 inch cake just enough for our family on Sunday.  My recipe for frosting went out of control when I tried to tweak a little bit with sour cream, my measurements went wrong and there was total chaos.  Hubby and kids were outside washing the cars as it was a pretty sunny day.  All my plans to make a beautiful cake was going down the drain.  The cream cheese frosting got little curdled and it was a bit hard to frost even though it tasted yummy with coconut flavor.  I decided to go forward with my plan of making roses with whatever frosting I had.  By the time all came in for lunch, the decoration was over, kids were happy to see the roses even though they were not perfect.  Hubby encouraged my first attempt on the roses, so I was totally happy about the cake.

Since the cake was super moist and yummy, I thought to blog about it anyways.  I will blog about the frosting once I perfect it.  The cake recipe was tested few times and this is the perfect measurement I came up with all the ingredients to make it as a soft moist cake without eggs. 

Yields - Two 6 inch cakes

Ingredients for dark chocolate layer 
Dry ingredients
3/4 cup - All purpose flour
1/2 tsp - baking soda
1/4 tsp - salt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp - sugar
2 1/2 tbsp - unsweetened cocoa powder

Wet Ingredients
5 tbsp - oil
2 tbsp - low fat sour cream
1 tbsp - apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup - water
1/2 tsp - pure vanilla extract

For light chocolate layer
1 tbsp - unsweetened cocoa powder
Rest of the ingredients are the same as the dark chocolate layer

Nutella for applying between the layers

  • Pre heat oven to 350 degree F.
  • Sift all the dry ingredients for dark chocolate layer except sugar for 3 times and keep it aside.
  • Using an electric stand mixture with the batter paddle or using hand mixture mix all the wet ingredients with sugar for 2 minutes.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute till all ingredients are blended together and the batter is smooth.  Don't over mix the batter.
  • Line a 6 inch round pan with greased parchment paper and pour the batter into it.  Bake the cake for 20 minutes.  If using a thick metallic pan, the time should be increased to 25 - 30 minutes or till the center of the cake springs back when touched.
  • Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
  • Meantime prepare the second cake for the lighter layer by following the above steps.
  • While the second cake is baking, cut the bulged top of the first cake evenly using a sharp knife.
  • Repeat the above step for the light chocolate cake too.
  • Apply little bit of the frosting on the cake stand or cake board on which you are going to assemble the cake to glue the cake on to the stand or board.  Place the light chocolate cake on the stand and apply almost 1/3 cup of nutella on top of it. Now place the dark chocolate cake above it and apply the cream cheese frosting on top and on sides.
  • Pipe the cream cheese frosting or frosting of your choice to create some decorations.
  • The left over can be refrigerated.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Baked Veggie Bread Rolls

It doesn't seems like winter is ready to wrap up any soon.  For the last couple of days, there was an abundance of sunlight which was deceiving enough to give an impression that spring was around the corner.  Kids had fervent desire to jump outside to play in the sun.  Being little over protective since the stressful week of sickness due to cold, I simply denied their request to go out.  Sunny days are not as far away, I assured them.  My assurance was not convincing enough, it started to snow again.  Let Nature take her turn to sort thing out.  The anxious wait for spring still continues....

Let's come to today's post.  When we were kids, my Mom used to make these bread balls by stuffing vegetable mixture and frying them.  These savory treats were given to us as our evening snacks after school.  I try not to deep fry things as much as possible.  But when it comes to some snacks, dodging from deep frying may not be an option.  Luckily the baked version of the bread rolls I experimented came out delicious and was well received by my kids and hubby.  It was a eureka moment for me when I took the first bite out of the sample rolls I took out of the oven.  The verdict was to bake the rest of the rolls.

I was a little surprised when my little one who doesn't handle heat that well, took a small plate full of rolls and enjoyed it with some ketchup   Knowing that the heat and the spices may help to relieve the cold faster for him, I encouraged him to have more rolls.  These rolls when accompanied with Chai are the proper way to enjoy it.

While I was playing around with my camera to adjust the light, I took some pictures of my orchid that bloomed again since I got them.  Here are the beautiful flowers of the phalaenopsis orchid I got.

Yields - 25 rolls

25 - bread slices (wheat or white)

2 - medium sized potatoes washed and quartered with skin on
1/4 cup - grated carrots
1/2 cup - fresh or frozen green peas
5 - button mushrooms chopped
2 - green chili chopped
1/4 cup - fresh coriander leaves chopped
1 - onion finely chopped
3 cloves - garlic minced
1 tsp - grated ginger
1/4 tsp - mustard seeds
1/2 tsp - dry Methi or fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 tsp - chili powder
1 tsp - coriander powder
1/2 tsp - garam masala
1/4  tsp - ground ajwain
1/4 tsp - turmeric powder
2 tsp - oil
Salt to taste

2 tbsp - oil to brush or use cooking spray to slightly coat the top.
Bread crumbs to coat - refer directions


To make bread crumbs
  • Pre heat oven to 250 degree F.
  • Remove the sides of the bread and transfer all the side pieces on to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Pulse the bread pieces in a food processor or chopper to get the crumbs.  Season with salt and pepper.
To make the filling
  • In a sauce pan, bring the quartered potatoes to boil by adding enough water to cover them and cook till they are soft for about 15 minutes or till a fork gets into the pieces easily.  Drain the water and let it cool.
  • In a non stick or cast iron pan splutter 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in 2 tsp of oil.  Roast the garlic, onions and ginger till light brown.  Add turmeric, coriander, chili powder, garam masala, dry methi leaves and ajwain powder and cook till the raw smell is gone.
  • Add the grated carrots, mushroom, green peas and salt.  Cook it covered for 5 - 6 minutes.
  • Peel the skin of the potatoes. Mash the boiled potatoes and add to the vegetable mix.  Give a good stir to mix all the ingredients well.  Add the chopped coriander leaves and turn off the burner.
To make the rolls
  • Increase the oven temperature to 400 degree F.
  • Take a bowl of water and dip your hands in the water.  Using wet hands flatten the bread slice by putting them in between the hands and pressing it.  Take 1 - 2 tbsp of filling and place it in the middle and roll the bread along the long side. Press the end using wet fingers to seal good.  Dip it in the prepared bread crumbs and place on the baking sheet with the seem side down.
  • Roll rest of the bread slices with filling and coat with bread crumbs.  Brush the top with oil or use cooking spray.  Bake for 15 minutes on one side.  Flip the sides and bake for another 6 minutes or till lightly brown.
  • Serve the warm spicy and crispy rolls with ketchup.
  • Ajwain seeds or Bishop's weed or Carom seeds or thymol seeds has a taste closer to Thyme.  It is a spice that is widely used in India, Pakistan and other near east countries.  It has a strong aroma that adds a wonderful flavor to some authentic North Indian food.  They are also used as a digestive aid.
  • Ajwain and Methi leaves can be found in Indian stores.
  • You can use pressure cooker to cook the potatoes by cooking till one whistle blows.
  • You can use pre-made bread crumbs if you don't want to make from the bread sidings.  I usually make use of the sides.
  • Adjust the heat & spices according to your spice level.
  • Any left overs can be refrigerated and can be used later by toasting them in a toaster or on stove top.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Quick & Easy Mixed Bean Vegetable Soup

Winter being well know for its cold weather is also reprehended as cold or flu season. And when the little ones get sick, it is no fun.  Our little one was down for four days with cold and congestion.  It was a stressful week.  We were so busy at work.  I had no choice other than to work from home during these days.  So I was not able to do any major cooking, but had to rely on some easy and quick recipes.  Soup was an easy choice to go with.

Mixed bean vegetable soup is a well tested recipe in my kitchen.  Soup that can be prepared within 30 minutes in a pressure cooker is an ultimate cooking panacea.  The nutrients from vegetables and the protein from 13 different kinds of beans will definitely satisfy the requirements for a healthy soup.

Bob's Red Mill 13 bean soup mix

Preparing something good and healthy is one thing and getting a compliment for what you made is another thing that can be counted as a bonus.  Sometimes you don't get a compliment for something that you prepared that tastes good, but you get the satisfaction when people avidly go for the seconds which proves the point.  I had the chance to serve this soup to someone who asked me 'Did you really make it?'.  It was an untold compliment.  My family loves this soup.  This is one of those recipes, which is simple yet healthy and tasty and can be prepared within 30 minutes.  To me these are some easy breezy dinner ideas which rescues me when I have a long day at work or when I am too lazy.

Serves - 5


1 1/2 cup - mixed beans soaked overnight (refer notes)
3 cups - water
5 cloves - minced garlic
1 - onion cut into big pieces
4 cups - fresh cut vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, mushroom, multi-colored pepper, carrots)
10 - cherry tomatoes halved or one roma tomato chopped
1/4 cup - chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp - red pepper flakes
2 tbsp - tomato paste
2 tsp - extra virgin olive oil
2 - 3 cups - water
salt and pepper to taste


  • Discard the water from the beans and rinse once.
  • Pressure cook the beans with 3 cups of water for 10-12 minutes or till 3 whistles blows.
  • Turn off the burner and let the pressure subside completely.
  • Meantime heat a saucepan with 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and roast the minced garlic till light golden brown.  Add the onions, pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes followed by the 4 cups of vegetables.  Saute for couple of minutes and turn off the burner.
  • Add the sauteed vegetables, 2 cups of water, cut tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pressure cooker.  If the water is not enough to cover the vegetables, add 1 more cup of water.
  • Pressure cook for 15 minutes till 1 whistle blows and turn off the burner.
  • Wait till the pressure subsides completely and remove the lid.
  • Add the chopped basil and tomato paste and boil for couple of minutes.  Adjust the salt and pepper per your taste.  If the soup is too thick add water and boil till the desired consistency is attained.
  • Enjoy the warm soup with fresh pull apart bread.
  • 1 cup of dry mixed beans soaked overnight will yield 1 1/2 cups of beans.  I normally use Bob's Red Mill brand of 13 bean soup mix.  If you cannot find the mixed bean soup mix, substitute it with a mix of navy, black, red, pinto, baby limas, large limas, garbanzo, red lentils, great northern, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, yellow splits, green splits, and lentils.
  • Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces to cook evenly.
  • Use a pressure cooker that holds a volume of 4.5 litres or above.
  • If you forgot to soak the beans, don't worry, you can pressure cook 1 cup of dry beans + 3 1/2 cups of water till 11 whistle comes for 20 minutes.

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