Baking | Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers, and a quick Hummus #comfortfood #simple #savoury

“Comfort food….food that reassures. Is different things to different people.”
David Tanis

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & HummusOat & Wheat Cheese Crackers, and a quick Hummus…for one of those days when you are tired, feeling under the weather and craving comforting food. For days like this only quick, simple and flavourful seriously works. For days like these, a food processor is your best friend. Nothing to beat a workhorse that does everything, takes the work out of the cooking or baking, pampers you unknowingly, and delivers like nothing else!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus I had a bunch of chickpeas left over as I boiled extra the other day while stirring up a quick chickpea curry. I always boil extra chickpeas as having some on hand offers plenty of quick rustle up food ideas. Salads for one. I made this layered savoury chickpea parfait often. Doubles up as a healthy, filling and quite delicious tiffin too!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus But I was in a mood for crackers. Just one of those strange days where I craved baking something savoury, and had an idea in my head. Working as a fit foodie makes me constantly strive for fun wholegrain alternatives to things. They got to be yum too. I used butter in these crackers, but I think you could easily use olive oil. I might throw in some ground nut meal too the next time to substitute some of the flour. Just a thought…and more ideas to work on!Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus The hummus happened as I was inspired by a quick hummus recipe that popped into my inbox not so long ago. I recall it having sesame paste as optional and it stayed in my head. There is nothing much to a hummus or chickpea dip. Just throw a bunch of ingredients into the faithful food processor, give them a whir. Balance flavours as you so desire.

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus More garlic if you are like us, more lime juice too. Plenty of extra virgin olive oil, maybe fresh herbs. Skip the smoked  paprika if you don’t have some on hand, degi mirch {kashmiri mirch} or red chili flakes. I have to say though that smoked paprika adds some fine earthy, moorish flavours to the dip…

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara There are other dips you could try. A Quark, Garlic and Chives Dip, Baba Ghanoush or Muhamarra would be wonderful here too. Else if nothing else, some nice cheese, fruit and wine will complete your cheese board.

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Product Review & Soup | Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette in the Philips SoupMaker … and a giveaway

“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 Escoffie

Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette 600Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette made in the Philips SoupMaker. Days in the lives of food bloggers are sometimes very interesting. It was an exciting day when ‘it’ arrived. An appliance that was highly anticipated, and lived up to it’s expectations… after a few hiccups while I figured the soup maker out of course! From there on, it was smooth sailing! What followed was conversations that flowed smoothly {and sometimes chunkily} over soup of many kinds.

Soups on PAB I admire good kitchen designs. How fun and creative can minds get. I have been using the Thermomix now for several years and was always fascinated by it’s ability to cook and blend like magic. Along comes another option, at a fraction of the price, almost a tenth actually, and promises fuss free simple soups the winter through, and smoothies galore through summer. Bonus…frozen yogurts and fruit compotes too!Kitchen appliancesNew toys are always fascinating for food bloggers and this one shone. It’s a simple machine, though a better manual with CLEAR instructions might have helped. It took me a little figuring out, cleaning my steamed spectacles a few times. I wish there was a better manual to go with it, maybe better online videos. After sifting through very vocal and gibberish Spanish videos galore, an advertorial video on the website, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong.Mushroom Walnut Oats SoupFor my second experiment, a mushroom walnut oat soup, one of my all time favourites that I cooked with Chef Vikas Khanna for Food Food Tv. I wanted chunky soup and presumed that it would give me ‘chunky chop’. So I cooked it, and cooked it…and cooked it again. Thought the machine was spoilt. Later, the better half suggested that maybe chunky is cooked but with the choice of pre-cut sizes. Obviously he was right!! I turned to something quite genius the machine offers – a manual blend!Soups on PAB In the beginning I forgot to add oil, butter etc. Later I realised that it didn’t really matter. You can always top soup with some EVOO, a vinaigrette, butter or Parmesan. Once I got the hang of things, we were swinging soups by a dime a dozen! I loved some things about the soup maker, not least how sleek and shiny it was.

  • It fits small on the counter, so is great for compact kitchens. Of course, it’s great for big kitchens too. Mine is spacious, and the soup maker is sitting happily next to the Thermomix and Philips AirFryer
  • It’s simple to use once you get the hang of it. Just put everything in, give it a good stir, shut it and forget about it. Turns off after the soup is made.
  • Makes a comfortable serving of 4.
  • Keeps the soup nice and warm since the body is like a thermos.
  • Is handy to take to the table as the cord slips off easily, transforming the soup maker into an elegant jug.
  • Has a clean, non drip, pourable spout.
  • Last but certainly not the least, it’s a quick wash and dry design. No uncomfortable bits an bobs to deal with, a straight clean jug.
  • Did I tell you that the finger touch menu buttons on the top are neat, fascinating and so simple? {Don’t push them too often the first time, or the poor thing gets confused. I know because I confused the poor machine, then called Ruchira for advice! My problem was eventually the ‘chunky chop’}

Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette The good thing is that once you get a HANG of things which should ‘happen’ almost instantly {I confused mine with my Thermomix which behaves a little differently}, there’s no looking back. Suddenly soups are all you want and your creativity takes over. I’ve been in this healthy ‘fitfoodie‘ frame of mind even more of late while working with Saffola as part of their Fit Foodie Panel. The soup maker makes me think out of the box even more! It takes the ‘work out of the soup’.

Saffola Oats Fit FoodieIf you are looking for inspiration, the Philips SoupMaker comes with a packed book of recipes. Interesting smooth to chunky soups across seasons, hot & cold soup recipes, smoothies, compotes, frozen yogurts too. Use local produce like fresh beetroot, baby mustard greens, or go gourmet with ingredients like courgettes and Gorgonzola cheese, the book has something for everyone. Even quick recipes for fruit compotes with apples and plums, and smoothies! A quick strawberry fro yo tempts you so. I know where the mangoes will head this summer!

Fresh produceQuick, easy and pleasing to the eye is how Philips as a brand has developed kitchen appliances. The AirFryer was one such example, and the rice cooker is another. Philips has been nice to offer a Daily Rice Cooker as a giveaway to a reader of my blog.

Philips Rice Cooker

To qualify,
All you need to do is leave a comment telling me what your favourite soup is.
Please leave a valid email address. Will pick a random winner at the end of the month.
The giveaway is open to anyone who has a permanent address in India.
Thank you for being part of the giveaway!

 

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Cooking | Baby Mustard Greens Indian Stir Fry … #freshproduce #NorthIndia #vegetarian #stirfry #healthy

“The easiest diet is, you know, eat vegetables, eat fresh food. Just a really sensible healthy diet like you read about all the time.”
Drew Carey

Baby mustard greens stir fry 800Baby Mustard Greens Indian Stir Fry  … quick, as spicy as you like it, simple and fuss free. Fresh produce is one of the highlights of winter in North India, and mustard greens a quintessential favourite. Someone asked me the other day if I only bake, and I almost gawked! I cook more than I bake, or maybe equal amounts. I love to cook, and love trying new stuff. I just don’t blog it often enough.

Fresh produce, Winter, North IndiaSo turning a corner near home yesterday, I chanced upon this young lad selling a cartload of farm fresh vegetables. The greens caught my glad eye and I hit the brakes. They weren’t the normal greens we see everyday. They were tiny, or rather baby, mustard greens … fresh, tender and absolutely delightful. All I could think of was ‘I wish I had my camera‘. The next best thing was of course to buy some, take it home and shoot! So I bought a bunch of stuff for a princely Rs100 {less than $2} and raced home in excitement.

Baby mustard greens stir fry North Indian winter is incomplete without a meal of sarson ka saag and makki ki roti. It’s a dish I make often through the winter, yet this year I haven’t got there for some silly reason. The upside of course that winter is longer and colder this year, so there’s plenty of promise of the dish showing up in the days to come. Since that is a more involved dish to make despite the several shortcuts I take, the Baby Mustard Greens Indian Stir Fry seemed a simpler option.

Baby mustard greens stir fry A quick consultation with Sangeeta who rules the roost for fresh produce and is a ‘food knowledge bank‘ in my eyes, and I knew what I would make. I cooked up a simple stir fry … loads of green chilies and loads of flavour, and served it up with one of my favourite non vegetarian dishes – a chicken korma. Kept the leaves whole for this since they were small and tender, yet you can always chop them up.

Baby mustard greens stir fry& Chicken kormaAlso feel free to reduce {or increase } the green chilies. they add a nice touch of heat served alongside the mild and flavourful Awadhi Chicken Korma, which incidentally is one of our family favourites. That korma, shared here and seems to get better each time we make it! It’s simple and uncomplicated too, with staple pantry ingredients.

 

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

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