Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Strawberry Wine Jam

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

There are lots of things in our life we take for granted and keep them in dark corner to be never appreciated.  The reality kicks in when it is taken away from us.  Going behind what you don't have will never keep your life satisfied, finding contentment in what you have is rather logical.  The other day I was listening to the radio on my commute to work and heard about these students with cognitive and physical disabilities play music with the help of their music teacher who patiently teaches them to play music using ipad app.  You could hear in the background the kids shouting with joy when they play the notes without a fault.  It was really amazing to hear how talented those kids were and how the people who were around them had transformed their lives.

As berries are abundant in this season, I made a small batch of strawberry with red wine jam couple of weeks ago.  I had made this last year too and I love the taste.  Since it has wine, I always make a small batch just for both of us.  We have not done the berry picking yet this year.  This time I would love to visit a blueberry farm and stock up some. We are looking forward for a farm visit with our friends soon before the season ends. 

6 cups - strawberry hulled and chopped
1/2 cup - dry red wine
1 cup - sugar
1 tbsp - lemon juice

  • Mix the wine, sugar and chopped strawberries in a non-reactive or glass bowl.  Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for 1 day.
  • Strain the juice and cook it in a sauce pan till it gets into 1/3rd the volume and thickens slightly.
  • Now add the strawberries and Cook for 10 minutes, use a potato masher to mash the strawberries and add lemon juice to it.  Cook for another 10 minutes by stirring occasionally.
  • Spoon 1 teaspoon of the jam on a clean cold plate (previously kept in the refrigerator).  Gently tilt the plate to see if the jam got thick and its not runny.  Turn off the burner and ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars.  Secure the jar lids and let them cool.  If you are not using the water bath canning method, refrigerate the jam immediately.
  • If you try to cook the jam with the juice, it will take longer and the color of the jam will not be appealing.  So reduce the amount of juice by cooking it separately as given in the directions.
  • The opened jar of the jam should be kept refrigerated.
  • If you want to keep the jam outside, follow one of the water bath sterilization technique.  There are lots of YouTube videos available that shows the canning.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fenugreek Leaves Stuffed Indian Flat Bread / Methi Ka Paratha

The most awaited summer is here and kids' schools are closed.  I have my veggie garden setup and I am still working on my patio plants.  My main chores after work on weekdays are cleaning up the garden.  Weeds seems to thrive better than plants and our lawn, so it's hectic to keep things pretty.  Besides weeds my nerve pulling visitor of my garden is deer.  They started munching on my roses and even my hydrangeas this year.  Hope they will find something else to satisfy their hunger and keep my plants alone.                                           

I had been pinning lots of great ideas from pinterest for the garden and been persuading my hubby to start the summer project for our garden.  Hope I will be able to share some decent pictures of my garden  soon.  Kids were super excited when we bought the hummingbird feeder a week ago.  The next day morning after hanging the feeder on a low height pole we noticed that the feeder was empty.  There was no way humming birds would have finished all the nectar and we suspect the deer is the culprit, as we had caught them feeding on the bird seeds few weeks ago.

                                    Deer having the breakfast...yes its from the bird feeder..

 So now the hummingbird feeder is hanged much higher, but for kids' disappointment the level of the nectar has not changed and we didn't notice any humming birds yet.  Last year I had lots of gladiolas in my garden and humming birds and butterflies were frequent visitors.  Hope this year the deer will let my gladiolas bloom again.

Summer time is packed with activities and busy weekends.  So I usually cook something quick and easy to spend more time outside.  But last week, I had some time off and made these Methi parathas and served them with some dum aloo (a mildly spicy & creamy dish made with baby potatoes and yogurt) for dinner.  It was absolutely delicious and my daughter was savoring on the gravy of the dum aloo after she had her parathas.

4 1/2 - 5 cups - whole wheat flour
2 cups - picked and chopped fresh Fenugreek leaves (refer notes)
1 1/2 cup - mashed potatoes
1/4 tsp - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - salt
1 tsp - chaat masala (refer notes)
1/2 tsp - ground ajwain seeds
1 1/2 cup - water
extra wheat flour for rolling
ghee for applying on paratha

  • Mix all the ingredients from the above list in a mixing bowl of stand mixer.  Attach the hook and knead for 5 - 6 minutes. Add extra flour if needed or till the dough form a ball which is not sticky anymore but soft and elastic.  If not using stand mixture, mix the ingredients using hand and knead till a non sticky smooth elastic dough ball is formed.  Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a tawa /cast iron flat pan or a flat pan.  Keep the heat on medium.
  • Divide the dough into 25 equal balls.  Dust the rolling surface with wheat flour.  Take the extra wheat flour is in a plate.  Dip a dough ball in flour and roll into a flat round paratha (don't worry if it doesn't come out round).  Place the rolled dough on the heated pan.  Cook it for 1 minute on one side.  Flip the side, you will see brown spots on top.  Cook the other side till small brown spots appear.  Remove from the pan and keep it in a caserole dish/ a dish with lid. 
  • Apply some ghee on top of the cooked paratha.
  • Make the rest of the parathas the same way.
  • Enjoy with your favorite curry.
  • You can get fenugreek leaves from Indian stores those carry fresh produce.  If you are buying the bunch, use a kitchen scissors to clip the roots off before separating the bunch.  This helps to get rid of most of the sand/dirt.  Make sure you wash the fenugreek leaves well to remove any dirt.  After washing the leaves, drain them in a colander to remove water.  Let them air dry for 10 - 20 minutes.  You can either pluck the leaves or use a kitchen scissors to chop the leaves including the tender part of the stem. 
  • You can get chaat masala from Indian stores.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Capunti With Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chicken Sausage & Goat Cheese

Being a foodie I am always fascinated by different cuisines and I like to try them in my kitchen.  Few weeks ago I picked up this different shaped pasta from my grocery store with the notion to make something interesting.  They had a wide range of Italian pasta those were imported and it was really hard for me to pass the aisle without adding them to my cart.  Are you interested in knowing different types and shapes of Pastas?  If so, check out the list of some of the pastas here.

My hubby had the chance to taste snails during his trip to France and he captured the video of the dish to show us what he had. But I have to admit that I am not daring enough to try something that is extremely exotic like that. I can try any vegetarian meal in any cuisine without any hesitation, but when it comes to non-veg I will be finicky. While on his trip to Europe from Work, he found time to visit the French market and got me few varieties of cheese. One among them was a block of Goat Cheese seasoned with crushed black pepper. I was thrilled and excited to try the new cheese and there originated my Capunti Goat Cheese combo and it was absolutely delicious. I went again yesterday to check out the grocery store for more imported pasta and there was no trace of such thing in that store. I may have to wait to get this pasta or may have to check some Italian grocery stores for decorative cut pastas.

I would say don't turn away from this recipe if you cannot find Capunti pasta, you can substitute it with any tubular or decorative cut pasta those are softer after cooking.   The best thing about this recipe is that you can prepare this dish within 20 minutes.


18.7 oz / 1. 2 lbs - Capunti pasta
1/4 cup - sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/2 tsp - dry Italian herb seasoning (oregano,basil, pepper, capers, garlic & olives)
2 cups - cooked & sliced Chicken sausage like Al Fresco
10 - grape/cherry tomatoes cut into half
1/4 cup - extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup - pasta water reserved from cooking pasta
2 cloves - garlic minced
1/2 cup - grated goat cheese
1/4 cup - fresh torn basil leaves
salt & pepper to taste

  • Cook pasta in salted water according to the package directions.  Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over the pasta so that they don't stick together.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the water in which you cooked the pasta.
  • While pasta is cooking  you can roast the minced garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil till golden brown in a sauce pan.  Add the Italian herb seasoning, sun dried tomatoes and reserved pasta water.  Cook it covered for 2 minutes.  Now add the sliced cherry tomatoes and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.  Add the cooked sausage slices.  Cook for another minute and turn off the burner.
  • Mix the drained pasta with the olive oil sauce you just prepared in the above step in a big bowl.  Add the fresh basil and grated goat cheese before plating the pasta.
  • You can use other shaped pasta those are smaller in size if you cannot find Capunti.  But Capunti has a soft texture and goes well with this recipe which makes this a special pasta dish.
  • You can substitute Chicken sausage with any sausage of your choice.

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