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 | Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto … In season with bell peppers

“… the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds.” 
Michael Pollan

Roasted bell pepper pesto Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto is what my roasted bell peppers were headed for! It’s strange how winter in the subcontinent is different from winter in the west. Come winter and the local bazaars are flooded with the best of fresh produce. It’s the time of the year when colours paint the vegetable shops in brilliant hues. It’s time for bell peppers, celery, broccoli, strawberries, cape gooseberries, mustard greens, fenugreek, garlic greens, beets and beet greens, juicy tomatoes ... and of course truckloads of cauliflower!

herbs veggies fruitsThis year we’ve had a deluge of local bell peppers. At a dollar and a half a kilo, these beauties are a steal. I toss bell peppers into just about everything. The kids thankfully love them in every form, the dog is a willing accomplice too. Any obliging little bits that jump off the chopping board head straight into Coco’s greedy little mouth!

Roasted bell peppersEach time I bake something, I throw in a few peppers  to roast alongside. I love char grilling them; sometimes use the Air Fryer when the oven isn’t on! Roasted bell peppers work well in tossed into pastas, in salads, in sandwiches, on bruschetta, also in pasta sauces.

Roasted bell pepper pesto Which brings me to the pesto. It’s absolutely brilliant and so adaptable! Play around with the ingredients as you like. Use the pesto in a pasta sauce, as a sandwich spread, as a dip, thin it out as a salad dressing, add it to a chicken bake, in quesadillas, with kebabs, stuff it into roast potatoes, even add it to soup …. it never fails to please!

Roasted bell pepper pesto I LOVE it paired with peppery arugula which is growing with wild abandon in my very neglected patch. Add a little feta, maybe caramelised onions, some smoked chicken ham to please the kids …. and I’m in business! I love a good green pesto too, and you can well imagine where my next bunch of arugula is headed! What is your most fun way to use pesto? And which pesto do you love the most?

Nirlep Anodized CookwarePlease don’t forget to enter the ‘Nirlep Handi giveaway‘ if you have an Indian address. I’ve been cooking up a storm in mine. You could soon be doing the same very soon! The giveaway ends tomorrow!

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

Baking | Smoked Indian Chicken Curry / Dhungaar-e-Dum ka Murgh … giveaway to end 2013

“People close to me called me ‘Curry in a Hurry.’
I was moving through life at 100 miles an hour trying to further my career and be a great mom and make everyone happy.”
Ann Curry

Smoked Indian Chicken Curry , Dhungaar-e-Dum ka MurghSmoked Indian Chicken Curry / Dhungaar-e-Dum ka Murgh … a simple slow cooked baked Indian chicken curry that makes life on the table seem somewhat easier. I normally cook curries on the stove top. This time was different, and it worked out quite well. Smoking it added a delicious dimension!

Chicken KormacurryI haven’t posted a curry for ages even though I cook them often, including chicken and lamb korma. I’ve recently done a ‘butterless‘ butter chicken and the feedback was great. Mr PAB even commented saying it was better than buttery butter chicken!! At the time I took no pictures as it was still ‘work in progress‘…

Nirlep Anodized CookwareNirlep contacted me and asked if I would like to review any of their products. With a range as varied as Premium Steel Casseroles to a simple sandwich pan, I left it to them. All I asked for was something I could maybe pop into the oven, since I know they do a stove top range. Not that I don’t cook stove top {read I DO ALL THE TIME}, but the baking blog needed a connect!

Smoked Indian Chicken Curry , Dhungaar-e-Dum ka Murgh They sent me a beautiful hard anodized handi, so I grabbed a chicken and set to work. The curry is simple as can be. It’s a simple overnight marination which tenderises the chicken. I cook it on the bone, but you can go boneless too if you like. This time I added green chutney to the marinade, some caramelised onions too. Experiment as you like because you never know what will hit the sweet spot!

Caramelised onionsAs all Indian cooking, this curry works on beautiful ‘andaaz‘, eye balling as it is better known. A bit of this, a dash of that, a few green chillies for flavour, maybe a couple of beautiful red ones too. Mix it all in and marinade straight in the pot, and then throw into a low oven the next day. An hour and a half later, you have CURRY, a nice thick wrapped one!!

Smoked Indian Chicken Curry , Dhungaar-e-Dum ka Murgh OR … heat a little clarified butter in the handi / pan {OK you can use oil}, caramelise some finely sliced onions, pick out the chicken pieces from the marinade and cook over high heat to seal the juices and get the pieces beautifully browned. Add the rest of the marinade, give it a quick gentle stir, seal tightly … into the oven again! Of course you could also cook over a very gentle stove top.

Passionate About BakingI have a few idea for the handi. A Basque Lamb Stew, kaali dal, stir fried veggies, Thai green curry, kadhi … all in the pipeline. Maybe a little ambitious but pot bread too. It’s quite cold {read freezing} here these days, so as soon as the weather lets up, it’ll be time to bake bread. Have to keep the yeast monsters happy!

What I love about the Nirlep Ebony Handi / anodized pot…

  • Good quality, feel good pot with a snug lid
  • The handles don’t get hot
  • Heavy duty
  • Convenient ergonomic design which is ideal for sauteing, cooking, heat distribution
  • That it goes from the stove into the oven, and back with ease
  • That you can serve right out of it, fuss free!
  • Easy clean up

So tell me dear readers, what would you make if you had a pot / handi like this? Nirlep will be happy to giveaway a similar pot to a reader of my blog. Additionally, I will add a cookbook from one of my favourite Indian authors and chef Vikas Khanna. He’s a large-hearted, fun, talented guy who is passionate about what he does. I love ‘My Great India Cookbook‘ {one of his 3 cookbooks ranked #1 in India by Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2013}. I figured you might love it too, so I am including it in the giveaway. The giveaway is open to anyone who has an Indian postal address and loves to cook/bake of course!! {Entries close on the 15th Jan 2014}


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

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