Swiss Chard or Spinach Focaccia

One of my weaknesses is bread! I enjoy looking for different types of bread recipes. Somewhere along the way I came across the idea of adding swiss chard to focaccia. I just don’t feel as guilty consuming so much bread when I am having something healthy along with it!

This focaccia recipe is great as an appetizer and also perfect for lunch with a bowl of soup. It freezes well – it’s a handy side to have on hand since it is so versatile with meals.

Best of all, the “No Knead Focaccia” recipe from the King Arthur Flour website is the simplest recipe I’ve come across since it doesn’t require kneading! I’ve adapted the recipe slightly below.

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Ingredients

Dough:

1 1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast.

Topping:

2 bunches swiss chard , ( remove the thick stem) and  coarsely chopped ( 6-8 cups)  OR

6-8 cups coarsely chopped spinach

1-2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt ( preferably)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-2 green chillies ( hot ) finely minced or ground (optional)

1/3 cup olive oil

Preparation

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoon oil.

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed with an electric mixer or 1 minute.

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The dough will be sticky. Scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread with a spatula or greased hands.

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Let rise for about 45 – 60 minutes till the dough doubles.

In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the topping .

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When the dough is risen, add the swiss chard to the dough and spread to cover the dough.

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Bake at 375  for about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool. Cut in squares.

Podi Gudu (Spicy Scrambled Eggs)

Podi gudu and puris were a typical breakfast of mine, growing up in Hyderabad.  For obvious health reasons, puris (fried puffy bread) aren’t the most popular breakfast item any more, and even I don’t feel like making them often because they are fairly time-consuming! I’ve found though, that this flavorful scrambled egg dish is a great lunch item  – as a wrap filling, using a chapati or tortilla- for us adults or kids. For those who do not eat eggs, using tofu is a great substitute.

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Ingredients

2 large eggs, beaten (OR 4 ounce tofu, drained and crumbled)

1 tablespoon oil

1-2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoon bell pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon, each salt and pepper

1 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped

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Preparation

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until light brown. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté for another few minutes or till soft. Add the tomatoes, green chillies and seasonings.

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Stir for 30 seconds and pour in the beaten egg or crumbled tofu.

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Cook on low heat for one minute. Stir until the eggs are set; add the cilantro and serve.

Millet Patties

On my recent trip to India, my sister in law told me that she had recently started cooking with Millet. She explained that it has nutritional benefits similar to Quinoa and some other grains but cheaper and easier to find. Millet is a drought tolerant plant which has been grown in many countries pretty easily whereas Quinoa is pricier because it is mainly grown only in the Andes region of South America. Although not a complete protein like Quinoa, it still has quite a high protein content.

Millet is a leading staple grain of India – it is ground and used as a flour to make “rotis” (indian unleavened bread) and also eaten as “ragi” porridge. Though I remember as a child I was given this porridge and I did not like it at all!

Substituting millet for rice was an easy way to start experimenting with recipes, so I used the hulled millet which was available at Whole Foods. I toasted the millet and cooked it like rice. Everyone seemed to eat it though the consensus was that they preferred rice.

The next day I decided to do something different with the remaining cooked millet. After looking online at a few recipes for cutlets and croquettes, I decided to try making my own version combined with leftover vegetables which was a big hit!  It seemed like the perfect grain for making these cutlets, perhaps because of the starch in the millet, egg or breadcrumbs aren’t needed to bind or coat the patties.

I used my favorite frying pan which is my cast iron pan – very little oil is needed and it is practically non stick. (I use my cast iron pan daily… to make pancakes, grilled cheese, chapatis or dosas to name a few!)  The pan does take a little while to heat up – I usually turn it on to medium heat and then after 5-10 minutes or when it is hot, I turn the heat down to low. The patties turned out crisp using the cast iron skillet and I didn’t need to add much oil.

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Ingredients

1 cup hulled millet

2 1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coarsely grated carrots

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1-2 small green chilies, finely cut up

1/2 cup cooked corn kernels

1/4 cup finely diced green or red bell pepper

2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

oil for sauteing

Preparation

Toast the millet in a skillet for 3-4 minutes till the millet starts to pop. Add the millet to a saucepan and add 2 1/2 cup water and the salt and bring to boil, simmer till the water is absorbed and the millet is cooked.

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Using a potato masher , mash the cooked millet. add the remains ingredients.

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Take about a 1/3 cup of the mixture, flatten into patties.

Heat a cast iron ( or non stick skillet ) and add 1 tablespoon oil to it and add the patties. Cook on low to medium heat, and cook on low heat for 5-8 minutes till the patties and brown and crisp.Serve immediately or keep warm in a warm oven .

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Spicy Swiss Chard , Spinach and Corn

My very good friend from Spain introduced me to Swiss Chard. She told me she would buy it regularly, but the stores in Columbia didn’t carry it at the time. So, she asked one of them to stock it for her. Now I know why; it is a delicious leafy green vegetable which is full of antioxidants, Vitamin K, and Calcium. It’s easy to digest and all of the nutrition is great for bone health!

The first time I made it I combined it with baby spinach because I had some left over from a previous meal. It cooks quickly and is easy to make – Swiss Chard has become a frequent guest at our table. Instead of corn, you could add Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tofu cubes, or mushrooms!

Ingredients

4-5 cups Swiss Chard leaves, chopped coarsely (discard the the thick stems)

4 cups baby Spinach (or regular Spinach)

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 green chillies, cut fine

1 cup onions, cut fine

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup corn, cooked

Preparation

Put a large pot of water on high heat. When it starts boiling, add the swiss chard and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the water. Blend the greens with this water until smooth.

Heat oil in the same pan; add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for 1 minute till the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and green chilies and cook until the onions become light brown in color.

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Add the blended greens , salt and turmeric; stir for 2 minutes.  Add the corn; simmer for a few minutes until done.

Indian “Tortilla”

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Many years ago we were invited to our Venezuelan friend’s house for dinner. Much to our surprise, the main course was Calamari. Since we’re not the most adventurous eaters and I don’t eat seafood, it was a very awkward moment!

They were, however, most gracious – the quickest item our hostess could come up with was Tortilla Espanola, probably the most common dish served in Spain. Needless to say, the “Indianized” tortilla became one of our favorite one-dish meals. Sometimes I make a quick potato omelet with a salad for lunch or dinner.  Its also a great meal to use up left over vegetables, versatile so you can serve it as a hot meal, or as a room temperature “tapa” as they do in Spain.

Notes: I prefer to use cooked potatoes as it uses less oil than if you have to saute the raw potatoes prior to making the omelet.  Sometimes I boil a few potatoes with the skin on and store them this way in the refrigerator for a few days and use them in various dishes as needed.

Ingredients

2 – 2 1/2 cups potatoes. cooked and sliced

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup diced bell pepper, red or green 

2 – 3 long green chillies, chopped fine

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine

6 -7 large eggs, beatenIMG_2205

Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium size cast iron skillet (or any other skillet). Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes until soft.  Add the potatoes, bell peppers and spices and continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes.

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Add this mixture to the bowl of beaten eggs along with the cilantro.

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Wipe the skillet and add a tablespoon of oil, and pour the egg mixture back into the skillet. Cook on low till the eggs are nearly set.

Take a large plate, cover the skillet and turn the eggs on to the plate.

Add a tablespoon oil in the skillet and slide the egg back into the skillet. Continue to cook the omelet for about 3-4 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 4- 6.

Shredded Cabbage with Peppers

IMG_2152Cabbage is not the most popular vegetable, but one of the healthiest.  I found this recipe some time ago which my family enjoys – it is quick to make and a nice addition to most meals. I like the texture, flavor and color that red bell peppers add to the dish, but any other vegetable like potatoes, peas and carrots can be added instead.

The most timing consuming part is chopping the cabbage. You can either buy the pre-packaged “coleslaw” cabbage in the salad section of the grocery store, or use an adjustable slicer like a mandolin which makes it easy to cut the cabbage very thin.  To cut it by hand, cut in half and remove the core first.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1-2 green chillies, slit (or dry red chilies)

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

4 cups finely shredded cabbageIMG_2147

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 large red (or green) bell pepper, thinly sliced

Lemon or lime

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Preparation

Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds, cover pan until the seeds start popping.

Remove cover, add the chili’s and garlic, and stir for a few seconds till the chili’s just start to turn brown. Add the cabbage, salt and turmeric.  Stir fry for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the red pepper and continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes until the cabbage is crisp tender.

If you like cabbage to be a little more tender, continue to stir till the cabbage is cooked a bit more.

Add a squeeze of lemon or lime and garnish with cilantro.

Black-Eyed Peas Stir Fry

Black-eyed peas are one of the most versatile legumes to make. They are very nutritious – high in iron, Vitamin B, C, zinc, soluble fiber and protein. Down here in the South (we live in South Carolina), black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Years Day as they are considered to bring “good luck” for the coming year. I use canned or dried… depending on how much time I have to prepare the meal. If using the dried beans I soak them overnight with a pinch of baking soda, which reduces the cooking time. We (and most Indian families) have a pressure cooker, which makes it even quicker to cook dried beans and lentils – black-eyed peas cook in 5 to 7 minutes with a pressure cooker, versus 45 minutes to an hour on the stove top. This recipe is very flavorful and a good one for children as well. IMG_1963

Ingredients

2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed OR .. 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and cooked in water for about 45 minutes till peas are tender  (just reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid)  Cooks to about 2 cups of cooked peas. 1 tablespoon oil 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 small onion, chopped 1-2 whole green chilies, slit 1 teaspoon salt lemon juice 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)

Preparation

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes until light brown. Add the green chilies and stir for 30 seconds. IMG_1956 Stir in the cooked black-eyed peas and salt, stir for a minute and add about 1/2 cup water and simmer for about 3 minutes. IMG_1955 Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.

Chilli Cheese Toast

Growing up in India, Chilli Cheese Toast was served often at “tea time”, when we would have a snack along with a cup of hot tea at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  Cheese toasts originally were deep-fried – needless to say they were delicious!  No one thought about calories back then or about all that fat we were consuming!

As time went by, a healthier version was created – lighter but as flavorful and quick to prepare. The toasts are perfect for lunch on a cold day along with a salad or soup, or served as an appetizer.

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 Ingredients

4 slices of firm whole wheat bread

2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons finely cut onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1-2 finely chopped green chillies

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder (or a mustard spread)

 

Preparation

Place the bread in the oven, on broil, to brown one side of the bread.

Mix the remaining ingredients to a smooth paste.

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Apply the cheese spread to the side of the bread which was not toasted.

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Place under the broiler until light brown.

Cut into quarters or in half.

Serve immediately.

Sprouted Mung Bean Salad

The Mung (Moong) bean is small green bean commonly found in Indian and other Asian cuisines. It is one of the easiest beans to sprout- it takes about 3 days.  Mung bean sprouts can be used in sandwiches, added to leafy green salads or stir fried with vegetables and meats. My favorite way of eating these sprouts is to use them in this salad recipe below.

Mung bean sprouts are easy to digest and and high in protein, Vitamin B and fiber.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup dry green mung bean

1 large tomato, chopped,

1 medium cucumber, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 small green chili, finely chopped (remove the seeds)

2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper (optional)

1 lime, squeezed

Preparation

Soak the mung beans overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the beans, place in a sieve or strainer, cover with a lid or foil and place in a dark place such as inside a kitchen cabinet.

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In the evening, rinse the beans and put them back in the cabinet. You will see sprouts appear in a day or so – repeat this every morning until the sprouts are about 1/2″ long or more as desired. Refrigerate in an airtight box if not using it at once.

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Add the sprouts to a large bowl. Mix in the remaining salad ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: Some people prefer sprouts to have a softer texture. If so, add the sprouts to a large bowl, pour boiling water to cover the sprouts. After about 5 minutes, drain and cool the sprouts before adding the other ingredients.

Mushroom Rolls

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Many years ago a friend of mine had invited my mother-in-law and I to her house for tea and served us some delicious mushroom rolls. For those who may not know this, in India (& England) we have “tea time” at 4pm where we typically drink tea as well as nibbling on a snack. And yes, hot tea…many of my friends here have asked me why we drink tea in India when the weather is so hot! I just knew that this is what we did and never gave it another thought until I read an article which then made sense to me about this aspect…when we drink hot tea, we sweat and that in turns cool us off!

So back to the mushroom rolls, it was something we had never eaten before… needless to say I asked for the recipe and have made it ever since, modifying the recipe a bit. I use this recipe for parties as an appetizer or as a side dish along with a meal. It can made ahead and even frozen and reheated before serving. Our favorite dipping sauce is Maggi’s Hot & Sweet tomato chili sauce but they are also great with ketchup.

This recipe was a good cooking lesson for my now 12 year old grand daughter who enjoyed cutting the crusts, rolling the bread and filling them up… and though she likes most vegetables, she says she won’t eat them as she doesn’t like mushrooms!

Note: I did not forget the salt… the other seasonings have enough salt in them so no additional salt is needed.

Ingredients

16-ounce package of sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon season-all

1 teaspoon McCormick Montreal seasoning

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

1 loaf of soft white or wheat bread (regular supermarket brand)

2-3 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Heat oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and cook till the onions are light brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms to the pan along with the seasonings, worcestershire and hot sauce.

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 Cook on medium heat till the mushrooms are dry. Cool.

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Cut the crusts of the slices of bread, and roll each slice flat with a rolling pin.

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Add a teaspoon of the mushroom filling on one edge and roll them up.  Spread a little butter on one edge of the bread so when you roll the mushrooms in the bread to the end, the bread sticks. Cut into 3 pieces.

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Arrange all the rolls on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes till they are brown.

Note: The crusts of the bread can be toasted in a warm oven about 250 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes. When they are dry, grind them into breadcrumbs in a food processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.

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