WHOLEWHEAT CHICKEN BASIL WRAPS with BELL PEPPERS … & winners for the Mainland China Book Giveaway

“When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.”
Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life
And life goes on, whether we have a kitchen or not, we still have mouths to feed. I am the queen of the makeshift kitchen in the morning before the workers plod in, and still attempt to whip up a decent balanced meal as often as I can. I know the kids, especially the younger one, gets disturbed with the ongoing work, which by the way, is stretching beyond our control. The way to little juniors heart is through his stomach, and I knew that these wraps would please him!
Of course mothers are never far off the mark. You should have seen to 100 watt smile I got for these…“NICE Mama, NICE!’ He’s a little foodie, often watches Master Chef Australia, dragging me to the telly in hungry fascination. Hear him discussing ingredients, contestants face expressions, asking if maybe I can make that yummy {calorie ridden in my eyes} lasagna. He notices the Kitchen Aid {the machine I dream of}, the ovens, the knives and can almost sniff ingredients out!
I mentioned ‘inspiration of the kebab type from my search results mentioned in my previous post, and here I am. When I thought of making these kebabs, I had junior PAB in mind. We share the love of subtle taste, colour and presentation in cuisine, as does Mr PAB. Give them both a well laid out, ‘good’ looking platter and you can see the sun shine in the middle of the night! They are not demanding men in any way, but are most charming and appreciative … and life seems worthwhile once again!
The bazaars are exploding with juicy, fresh bell peppers. On days that I get a well priced stash, I roast a few to make them last longer, and keep some for salad. I used a combination of roasted and fresh ones here in the wraps. The roasted ones, with their beautiful smokey flavour, were added to the mince while grinding, and the crisp fresh julienned ones tossed into a salad. Satisfied that nutrition and yumminess were both in there, the wraps were wonderful. {If you are unsure of the spices and salt in the kebab, fry a small bit of prepared mince to taste the flavours, and adjust ingredients if required}. And if you have pickled peppers on hand, do consider adding them to the mince while processing  it, as they add delightful tanginess to the kebabs.

While the hub and me chomped on ours wraps, all bundled up in white parchment for pictures to be taken first, we were transported back to the days when we used to visit London in the late ’80′s and early 90′s, digging into the most delicious doner kebab rolls, stuffed with salad, served with lashings of sauce. It was often bone-chilling cold there, but the enthusiasm of the lads serving the wraps coupled with the first bite always warmed us up. Those were the days, and these wraps brought back the nostalgia!

Before I get to the recipe, time to announce the winners for the Mainland China Book Giveaway, picked via Random.OrgNalini Hebbar and Avanika. Congratulations to the two of you; I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do. Could you please e-mail me your full postal address so Random House can mail the books to you. Thank you for having me host this Sohini!

Chicken, Basil & Roasted Bell Pepper Kebabs
Makes approx 10-12 rolls
Ingredients:
500gms chicken mince {I use thigh tenders}
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1-2 tbsp pickled peppers/jalapeños {home-made recipe here}
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 roasted red bell peppers
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil {I used Borges from here}
Salt to taste

Method:
Pulse the onion, basil and jalapeños in the processor for about a minute till finely chopped.
Add the rest of the ingredients and process on medium low speed till it all gets well mixed and comes together.Transfer to a glass or steel bowl and chill for at least 1 hour.
Heat about 2-3 tbsps of oil in a heavy bottom frying pan. Lightly oil your palms. Take a small portion of mince & roll it into a sausage like roll, back and forth to form a kebab. Gently slide into the pan & shallow fry till brown on all sides, about 8-10minutes.
Note: The kebabs should be fried just before serving as they taste best fresh,  thought the kids love taking them to school for lunch too!

Bell Pepper Salad
2-3 bell peppers in different colours, finely sliced
1 large onion, finely sliced
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil {I used Borges from here}
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Method:
Whisk the olive oil, lime juice and salt. Reserve in a bowl.
Toss the other ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Add the dressing just before serving, and toss well.

Assembling:
Fry the wholewheat chapati or tortilla on a hot griddle/tava with a few drops of oil on both sides.
Place a kebab, followed by freshly tossed salad, roll and serve!

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{Product Review & Recipe} Cottage Cheese & Bell Pepper Quesadillas, Pickled Peppers and Gulab Jamuns – Strange Bedfellows? Maybe …

“Life is the sum of all your choices”
Albert Camus

Given the choice, I would cook and bake all day with olive oil as my happy cooking medium … SIGH if only I didn’t find the price a little prohibitive. My dream came true when Sharon brought me a selection of the recently launched Borges Olive Oil product range {more here}. The bottles staring down from the shelf in the living room tempt me {yes, the kitchen is still ‘work in progress’}, and of particular interest is the Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil that Borges has developed specially for the Indian market. It’s a blend of refined and virgin olive oils, making it ideal for Indian cooking.

I was skeptical as to whether it would withstand the high heat for deep frying but decided to give it a shot since another product was awaiting review … a gulab jamun mix from GITS! The marriage of 2 reviews together inspired me, so I set off to ‘knead the dough’ to make Gulab Jamuns, also known as ‘waffle balls’!

There are many things I stay away from. Top of the list is deep frying, unless of course it is  Beignets & Donuts, or maybe Churros; ready to eat packaged foods is also not quite me. My mantra is very much ‘Do It From Scratch‘, and I rarely deviate from my path. Some time back I received an interesting foodie parcel from GITS, a company at the forefront of the instant foods revolution in India. It had a selection of ready to cook, as well as ready to eat foodstuff. A quick check of the fine print read no preservatives; I was happy to live with this for once. The gift bag had ready-to-eat Dal Makhani and Palak Paneer which were very impressive, and then yesterday I needed to make a quick dessert and the Gulab Jamun mix caught my glad eye! I wasn’t too convinced about how it would turn out but thought I would give it a shot, as it offered me a chance to deep fry in Extra Virgin Light Olive Oil!

Gulab jamun is one of Indias most popular desserts and is traditionally made out of evaporated milk blended with wheat flour, fried and soaked in sugar syrup. It jamun gets its brownish red color because of the sugar content in the milk powder or khoya. Gulab jamun originates from an Arabic dessert, Luqmat Al-Qadi {Arabic for “the judge’s bite”}, that became popular in the Indian Subcontinent during the Mughal era. Rosewater syrup is often used; however saffron syrup and honey are also common. The dessert also became popular in Turkish-speaking areas, spreading to the Ottoman Empire.

The result was most unexpected and made me eat humble pie. I have never eaten such delicious ‘dough balls deep fried and soaked in syrup, as Allesio said on twitter; we have discussed jalebis and ras malai in the sweet past! The gulab jamuns were outstanding, with a generous addition of finely chopped dry fruits. that formed a part of the mix. They were excellent served chilled too. The box had instructions to make 25 little balls, but I made 16 and they were just right when ready. This is one product that I will certainly use in the future. My SIL asked me if the olive oil imparted any unnecessary flavour etc to this dessert. Surprisingly not! It is a clean, light olive oil and seems quite ideal for Indian cooking.

Going backwards, for lunch I made these cottage cheese quesadillas, the cottage cheese marinated in an extra virgin olive oil marinade which I got from my sis. It’s a staple I use, and good quality EVOO really makes a difference. These quesadillas are a great hit with the kids, and can easily be made into non vegetarian ones too. They taste wonderful stuffed to the gills with pickled jalapeños. Were especially good crisp and warm as it was pouring cats and dogs. Recipe follows, as does the recipe for the pickled peppers, which are last, and certainly not the least!

Pickled jalapeños is something I have been making for the last 2-3 years, but couldn’t  recall  the name of the blog I found the recipe at. Then saw it at David Lebovitzs while googling, and decided it’s a great  recipe to share. Tangy and sharp, pickled peppers are part of our foodie existence and at any given time I have one jar ready in the fridge, and the next undergoing pickling. We can’t live without them. The kids love them to bits, especially the daughter, and the peppers are an inherent part of their every meal! In India, it is during the monsoons {or the rainy season} that these bright green peppers flood the market. Now is the best time to bottle them!


 

Cottage Cheese & Roasted Bell Pepper Quesadillas
Makes 12 wraps
500gms cottage cheese, cut into 2″ strips
5-6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil {I used Borges from here}
1 tbsp dried oregano
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
12 small whole wheat tortillas {I used 5″ chapatis/Indian flatbread/rotis}
1 each roasted red and yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 green capsicum, julienned
Pickled jalapeños {recipe follows}
Cheddar cheese, or cheese slices
Method:
In a large bowl whisk the olive oil with the minced garlic, oregano, lime juice, red chili flakes and salt. It should be slightly extra salty and very tangy as cottage cheese is very bland.
Leave it marinate for 30 minutes. {I often leave this in the fridge overnight, for both the cottage cheese and chicken variations. Cuts down the work the next day}

Turn into a large wok and stir fry gently on high heat until all the liquid evaporates. Let cool slightly.
Lay a flour tortilla flat. Grate some cheese over it, or place a cheese slice across. Scatter a few juliennes of green capsicum, followed by a scattering of pickled jalapeños. Top with a 2-3 tbsp of the cottage cheese filling, followed by the roasted bell peppers. Gently fold into half, and place on a hot griddle with a few drops of olive oil. Decrease heat to minimum, press the wraps down with a flat spoon for the cheese to seal the sides together. Turn and repeat for the other side, cooking each side for 2-3 minutes till slightly crisp.

Serve hot or warm.
Note: You can substitute the cottage cheese for boneless chicken strips for a non vegetarian version. This makes for nice lunch box fillers too.

Pickled Jalapeños
Adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook by Michael Symon and Michael Ruhlman
300gms jalapeño peppers, sliced {I snip them with kitchen scissors}
1 cup apple cider vinegar {I’ve used white vinegar in the past & it works well}
1 cup water
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds {I forgot to add these}
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, lightly bruised
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp sugar

Method:
Place the chopped jalapeños in a glass preserving jar.
In a non reactive saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible. {You can use them sooner, but Michael says they’re worth the wait... I agree totally}
Note: I store them in the fridge, but like anything preserved it’s always better to take your own precautions. Can according to jar manufacturers instructions.
Also, I like to add 2-3 whole slit sharp green chillies to the jar to increase the heat as the jalapeños we get here aren’t very hot.

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TURKISH PIZZA ANYONE..Serving Pides with Pride!

“Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.”
Anna Quindlen
Turkish pizza anyone?

…they call them PIDES, street food from Turkey. Quite similar to something called lahmajoun, an Armenian pizza. Scrumptious, I tell you!! I saw this post by Elle @ Elles New England Kitchen while following DB Filbert Gateaus posts 2 days ago & I was sold…hook, line & sinker.
Pide – Turkish Pizza

Pide is a staple Turkish food and you’ll find it all over the country. The Turkish eat an astounding four times as much bread as any other nation. Most of this must be mouth-watering pide, the Turkish flatbread sold in every store and baked on every street corner. Pide is also the name of Turkish pizza, the bread topped with lamb, onions, cheese and tomato or any variety of combinations. Pide is a long thin banana shaped bread, rolled with some skill from a small ball of dough. The bread is then covered with the topping of your choice and slammed into a large, solid fuel burning oven for about 10 minutes. The resulting pide is sliced up and served piping hot.

Serving Pides with Pride!

Just the words ‘Turkish pizza’ transported me to an exotic land, the land of my dreams; there was no stopping me. Morning broke &, thanks to Elle, I was engulfed with sweet dreams of Turkey & it’s street food.

This spice, sumac, comes from the berries of a wild bush that grows wild in all Mediterranean areas, especially in Sicily and southern Italy, and parts of the Middle East, notably Iran. It is an essential ingredient in Arabic cooking, being preferred to lemon for sourness and astringency.

I am the proud owner of a bag of Sumac powder that my sweet niece thoughtfully got for me from Dubai. She often makes the Turkish Adana Kebabs I posted long ago, recipe here, & enjoys them a lot. The bag of sumac, a beautiful purple-red powder, has been beckoning me to use it for a while; pide seemed to present one such opportunity, since I had been longing to use sumac for something other than adana kebabsdelightful, delicious & simple kebabs.

A small change to the recipe was the use of a fresh papaya tenderizer to soften the lamb…that’s just me because I do not like my lamb chewy. The flavours were great, the process SIMPLE; & the big bonanza…the kids loved them!
Moreish‘, rustic & delicious!
For the kids, I used a small amount of marinara sauce as the base sauce first, followed by the the topping & additional Baby Gouda cheese grated on top … was terrified of getting rejected on the ultimate pizza frontier I guess…but they loved them. Served pides to the kids as flat pizzas, the regular way & sliced. Was elated that they enjoyed pides so much; love it when they explore their tastes & experiment with new flavours; HUGE relief.

Here’s the recipe as adapted from Elles @ Elles New England Kitchen

Dough: ( I made 1 1/2 times the original recipe, got me 10 Turkish pizzas)
Active Dried Yeast – 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Flour – 4 cups
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Method:

  • Mix the yeast, sugar and 1 cup warm water in a mixing bowl. Proof for 10 minutes.
  • Add flour, salt and oil, mix slightly, then knead the dough on a floured board until smooth.
  • Shape into a ball, cover and let dough rise for about an hour.

Topping:
Ground lamb – 500gms (or your choice of meat)
Fresh green papaya – 1 tsp ; grated fine (very optional)
Onions – 2 small; finely diced
Garlic – 6-8 cloves/ 2-3 tbsp minced ( I like plenty of garlic)
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Tomatoes – 4-5; seeded and chopped
Green capsicum – 2 small; diced
Coriander – 1 bunch; finely chopped
Tomato paste – 2 tsp
Sweet paprika – 2 tsp
Sumac powder – 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Low fat cottage cheese – 300-400gms (I used Le Bon)
Method for topping:

  • Marinade mince + 1 tsp papaya paste +1 tbsp minced garlic + 1 tsp sumac powder for 30 minutes, in the fridge.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the oil and saute the onions and remaining garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the mince & stir fry on high till cooked through well & any liquid dries up. If you use papaya, the mince will have a kind of pasty consistency, not crumbly. Take off heat.
  • To this, add the tomatoes, coriander, green capsicum, tomato paste & spices & mix it all up. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Heat oven to 450°.
  • Divide dough into 10 portions and roll out to thin circles. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, and place 2 dough circles on each. Spread some of the topping on the first 2, top with grated cottage cheese or feta, then put the baking sheet in the oven.
  • Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready, and toss it in the bottom of the oven quickly, then shut the door. (I forgot to do this)
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Remove from pan to a cooling rack.
  • Roll pizzas up to eat.

Rolling in the PIDES – Pizza, the Turkish way

This one’s on its way to my old friend Ben @ What’s Cookin US for his I Love Baking’ event, a baking event for baking loving people…& to Susan’s @ Wild Yeast Blog for Yeastspotting.

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