Cooking | Mushrooms and Onion Scapes Soup … cooking in season #soup #vegetarian #healthy

“Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”
Auguste Escoffier

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup Mushrooms and Onion Scapes Soup … for the soul! I was completely mesmerised by the onion scapes I bought at the local bazaar. I love this fantastic season. Each time I step into the overflowing fruit and vegetable shop, I rediscover seasonal produce from last year. That day two large bunches of scapes stared at me, and again, shouting my name out LOUD!

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup How could I resist it? I asked the guy for a few stalks, and he packed the whole bunch off with me. Said, “Take the whole bunch. I know you’ll do something with it. All yours!!” Seriously, they are beautiful. I put some in a milk-jug and they began opening into the most beautiful flowers a while later.

onion scapesWasn’t very sure what I’d with so many, but knew how pretty they would look in a vase! Sometimes the real beauty of nature comes from flowers like these. I love them! A discussion with Man Friday followed where he declared these were garlic scapes. A nibble later, I figured they were definitely more oniony than garlicky. 

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup 550 Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup I had mushroom soup on my mind that morning. With the weather nippy all over again, soups offer the ultimate comfort; a healthy option, even better. This one is simple, uses staple pantry ingredients, and can go gluten free too.

Mushroom and Onion Scape SoupIn the past I have made it with mushrooms, potato and a generous amount of fresh coriander. The base is often milk and some vegetable stock as I usually have a large jar of homemade stock in the fridge. When I feel indulgent, you can find me pouring in some low fat cream too! Oh and often walnuts to add texture…

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup Some onion scapes needed a more handy alternative to sitting in the milk jug as it was rather full. The soup offered the perfect destination. As I said, you can pretty much play around with the ingredients. Is fun!

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup I did something else with the soup too that night. I was making breaded chicken fillets for the kids. Instead of doing the normal egg, flour and breadcrumbs coating assembly line, I sneaked some soup into a bowl. Dunked the Italian seasoning marinated breast fillets first into soup, then into wholewheat home made breadcrumbs, and shallow fried the fillets.

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup While the son enjoyed his in burgers, the ‘constantly on a diet’ daughter ate crumb fried fillets with char grilled broccoli. The son came back to say these were the best tasting burgers ever! “Really nice Mama!” Must have been the soup!! Soup has been the call this  winter! Loads of it.

Handi cookingSo what’s your favourite comfort or soul food in winter? Do you make soup from scratch? I did an amazing Smokey Roasted Tomato Soup {pictured above} for a client I am developing recipes for. Heard the other day that a friend was making pumpkin and peanut butter soup. I was completely intrigued. I guess it’s time to explore more soups as winter is still here.

Handi cookingAnd before I scoot, it’s time to announce the winner {s} of the Nirlep giveaway on my blog. A 1000 apologies for the delay, but I was travelling a little bit, and now the elder teen has her board exams. Between driving her up and down, and feeding her ‘comfort food’ on demand 24 X 7, there seems to be little time to blog!

Handi cooking Food however is always cooked in the PAB household, so the handi has been put to good use. I am really happy to have received it for review because I didn’t know what I was missing! The Nirlep handi is very very versatile indeed. From cooking pasta until al dente to making pasta and pizza sauces, to numerous rounds of steamed bathua leaves or chenopodium{or lamb’s quarter}of bathua ka raita, to delicious stir fried chicken mince, then meatballs too, I have seriously used it a lot!

Nirlep Anodized Cookware

I am thrilled to offer one as a giveaway that was announced when I reviewed the utensil.  The winner of the Ebony Handi is Swapna Mickey. Since we had a load on entries, Nirlep offered to send Nirlep Cookware to two more participants. They are Reeta Skeeter and Manjeet Kaur. Congratulations ladies and thank you so much for joining the giveaway {and for waiting so patiently}. Will mail you shortly.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Chicken Quark Crossover Puff Pastry … Savoury Comfort!

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”
Sheilah Graham

These savoury pastry puffs seemed just right for the severe cold spell our entire region is reeling under. The papers compare us to the North European freeze where our highs are hovering around 12C and lows around 3C {add to it some treacherous wind chill}… beating winter temperatures at Geneva, Barcelona, Madrid and Paris! Oooh just reading that feels even colder. The difference lies in the fact that we don’t have central heating as standard fitting in houses here like the West, and thus the chill is even worse. North India, winter chillSchools across the region have been shut for another 2 weeks as majority of the classrooms, school buses etc aren’t heated either. We’re just not equipped to deal with such low temperatures, and the poor are the worst affected. Extended power cuts, as the grids try and cope with the increased demand for power, add to the arctic freeze! Inconsequential things like my little blog suffers. When electricity finally shows up, important chores like laundry & turning on the oven take precedence over time spent online! These days I struggle to find time to post, blog hop etc…Chicken Quark Crossover Puff PastryI’ve finally found time to post this week, and this time it’s some savoury comfort food. I just had to share a delicious pastry we really enjoyed ‘hot and puffy‘ the other day. With puff pastry calling me from the  freezer, I wanted to make mince pies with my homemade mincemeat reserved from the Garam Masala Christmas Fruit Cake. I even had stars stamped out and frozen for the tops from some  earlier left over puff pastry I used in these Rustic Apple Galettes. BUT, the need that day was different. We craved something comforting, warming and cheesy, and my plans changed to savoury.Chicken Quark Crossover Puff PastryIt was a day of cleaning the fridge out … some leftover chicken from yet another batch of  Chicken, Bell Pepper Mushroom Jullienes and also a little left over quark cheese. Coupled with inspiration from a White on Rice sweet post on Homemade Strawberry Crossover Puff Pastries, I made these. A heart warming combination of chicken, sautéed mushrooms and roasted bell peppers, some creamy homemade quark mixed in with mozarella, embracing each other in a creamy delicious way… need I say more?Chicken Quark Crossover Puff PastryYes, these were indeed delicious! For a tutorial on how to make puff pastry and how to do crossover puff pastries, you must  stop by at the beautiful White on Rice blog. I got terribly distracted while making the cuts on the pastry and did it any old way, but they have a nice systematic approach in pictures for you to see.Chicken Quark Crossover Puff PastryI continue to use the Ottolenghi recipe for rough puff pastry, and it is wonderful. Haven’t needed to look for another as I love the results of this recipe. Have to add a disclaimer to say that it is very dangerous to have ready made puff pastry in the freezer you can even hear it beckoning to you in your sleep! That is one baking temptation I need to break! It’s a bit of a long task making the pastry, but once ready, it’s a real cakewalk, and a pleasure to have on hand!

Chicken Quark Crossover Puff PastryChicken Quark Crossover Puff Pastry
250gms rough puff pastry
50gm quark {homemade recipe here}
50gm mozzarella, grated
2 chicken breasts, cooked & chopped
100gms mushrooms, finely sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 stalks of garlic greens, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
Method:
Filling
Sauté the onions, garlic greens and red chili flakes in 1 tbsp oil till fragrant, 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms and stir fry until they give up their water. Add chopped chicken and stir fry for 5-7 minutes on high. Season with salt and pepper.
Take off heat and add the quark and grated mozzarella and mix until the cheeses have melted. Cool completely
Assemble
Preheat the oven to 225C. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Roll out pastry as thin as possible into a large rectangle, trim the edges, and cut into 6 equal portions.
With a pizza cutter, cut strips into 1/3rd of each side, leaving 1/3rd space in the centre for the filling.
Place 1/6th of the filling in the centre, and fold over the sides, pulling one strip from each side alternatively to meet in the centre. Secure with beaten egg yolk. Continue till all the strips are used up and the filling is covered. Brush lightly with the beaten egg yolk. Repeat for the remaining 5.
Bake till the tops are golden brown and the pastry is puffy, about 20-25 minutes.
Serve warm.Chicken Quark Crossover Puff Pastry
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

I’m sending these for the COMFORT FOOD EVENT hosted by Tamanna @ The Dazzling Kitchen
and also to Val @ More Than Burnt Toast for her event ‘Best Thing I Ever Ate

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper Julienne … where French cuisine deliciously meets Russian Cuisine in India!

“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”
Marcel Boulestin

Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneYes, I was back at a delicious food blog, The Mansurov’s, a favourite, but lack of time the past 2 months has kept me away from most of my faves. I have no idea what happened to time, but can’t believe that it’s December already! Hello? Still so much to do before the year goes by, bookmarked posts to try, breads to bake, cookies to make, fruit to soak for the cake, drafts to finalise … time to hit the panic button! If 11 months flew by so fast, then the rest of 2010 will be gone in a heartbeat!I’ve always wanted to bake a chicken pie at home, ever since we had some at Harry’s in Sydney way back in November 2008. Harry’s pies were served with peas and mash, and probably had gravy too. It’s been on my list to make forever, but I’ve never found a recipe that appealed to me a 100%. I had a vision in my mind … it would have a yummy ‘chicken with veggies’ interior, held together by a luxurious creamy sauce, with this puff pastry top etc. I repeatedly ‘chickened’ out each time, and my home made puff pastry found other use.Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneThis time as well was the same, well almost. Push came to shove, and we had folk for dinner. I sorted out almost sorted out the menu, but couldn’t get the right main course. Browsing the net, I saw this at Lola’s and I just knew it had to be the one. Her opening lines were as delicious as the dish itself. Just the fact that this is where French cuisine met Russian had me virtually eating the julienne right off her blog. Seriously, something strangely beautiful happens to the flavours of the sauce when you roast the flour before you add the butter. I think Lola mentioned clarified butter somewhere in her conversation. Will try that the next time… mmm!Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneIt’s become a favourite in our house already. I’ve made it twice in the last 2 weeks. Am contemplating making a vegetarian version of the julienne, maybe using broccoli, mushrooms, roasted bell peppers and cauliflower. The sauce is creamy and comforting. Once it bakes with the chicken and mushrooms, and stands for a short while, it takes all the ingredients into a ‘warm embrace‘ of sorts. YES, it’s quite the dreamy chicken pie I’ve been waiting for!Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneChanges? Yes, but just a few and more for want of substitution. No full fat cream available here, so I went with low fat cream. Added milk to thin the sauce out as mine was very thick the first time around. I added a grating of Gruyère, chopped garlic greens and roasted bell peppers too. The second time around, I sautéed chicken and mushroom in a huge wok and mixed the warm white sauce through. I then ladled them out into the ramekins. I found it easier to work this way as I was making the dish for a crowd. It’s a great make ahead main course dish, and nice for the hoilday season. You can set up the individual ramekins, or one large serving. Top with mozzarella at this time, {or even later}, cover it with foil and refrigerate it. Before serving, heat in the oven covered for about 15 minutes, and then grill for about 10 minutes on high until the cheese is bubbly and golden on the edges. Don’t skip the mozzarella and the pinch of cayenne … it does contribute beautifully to finishing the dish well!

Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneChicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper Julienne
Adapted from Mansoravs
Makes 12-14 small ramekins
Prep: 45 mins | Bake: 20 mins | Oven: 180C
Ingredients:
6 small breasts of chicken, cooked, chopped
200gms button mushrooms, sliced fine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
4-5 stalks garlic greens, chopped fine
3 roasted bell peppers, red & yellow, chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
50gm butter
200ml low fat cream {I use Amul 25% fat cream}
50gm Gruyère, grated {or cheddar}
1 1/4- 1 1/2 cup milk {as required}
200gms shredded mozzarella {I use Himalayan Buffalo Mozzarella}
Paprika
Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper Julienne
Method:
Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large wok. Sauté the chopped onions, garlic and garlic greens until fragrant, and the onions begin to colour a bit. Add the chopped chicken and mushrooms, and stir fry on high heat till the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt & pepper, and red chili flakes if you like. Take off heat, stir in the roasted peppers, cover and keep warm.
Now make the white sauce.
In a dry heavy saucepan, gently roast the flour on very low heat till light brown and fragrant. Add the butter and stir through well. Almost immediately begin to pour the cream in, whisking with a balloon whisk constantly to avoid lumps getting formed. Follow the cream with about 3/4 cup of milk, keep stirring and adding more milk as required. The sauce should be thick, and will continue to thicken as it cools. Grate in some Gruyère or cheddar, a grating of nutmeg if you like, season with salt and once the cheese has melted through, mix it into the warm reserved chicken, mushroom, bell pepper.
Divide this equally into 12-13 ramekins, or turn into one big baking dish, top with mozzarella, a pinch of cayenne and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to turn a little golden. Stand for about 10 minutes, and serve hot.
Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneServing suggestions: Char-grilled broccoli salad, potato-mushroom croquettes, and a rustic garlic bread.
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