Goodness in a jar

I’m a recent tomato convert, all thanks to Sahar‘s tomato and cheese sandwiches which saved me during a very hungry work day. She slowly proceeded to treat me to more tomato cooked goodness in the form of pasta arrabiata, eggs and tomatoes and much more. I then  worked my way to loving a Bloody May to eventually turned a full-fledged tomato aficionado. These days I’m practically moody, if there are no tomatoes in the fridge.

I’m also more lenient towards dried tomatoes in general, because of its succulent sweet and tangy flavour. Since sun-dried tomatoes require time and patience I scrounged all over the internet for ‘Oven dried tomatoes’. For the version I tried, I kept the spices used basic – salt and garlic pods, so that the tomatoes can be flexible when included in any type of cuisine. The kitchen also smells divine when these fruits are in the oven. Yes, the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable.

Making this requires a good part of your day, so start early and keep busy.

Oven Dried Tomatoes

*Clean and wash tomatoes and cut them into very thick slices. If you cut them thin, there are more chances of them burning easily. Depending on the size of the tomato, slice them into two-three slices.

* Arrange on a tray and sprinkle some salt and allow the water to drain for about 30 minutes or so.

* Preheat oven to 200F and line tray with baking paper with some olive oil spread on

* Arrange tomato pieces on a tray and bake till the juices have dried and the fruits have shriveled.

*Flip them over a few times and depending on the size of the tomato. It usually takes about 4-6 hours for them to be fully dry.

* Cool the now raisin like tomatoes and store them in a sterilized jar with Olive oil.

* You can add these tomatoes in pastas, salads, sandwiches and much more.

Open Sandwiches with prosciutto and Gouda

I used these tomatoes to make an open sandwich with prosciutto ham and Gouda cheese.

Chilli

The photo above is one of my favorite pictures. This was taken in Kerala, India in the backyard of my grandmother’s garden. The chilli in the photo is locally called Khandari Molagu.  It’s the tiny cousin of the commercially available chilli, and is three times more spicy. The ripe red chillies are pecked on and often consumed by birds. Sometimes, the word ‘Khandari’ is also used as a nickname on a smart mouthed and mischievous person. While growing up, my firecracker of a best friend was called that.

I’ve never leaned much onto the spicy side, since i have such a huge sugar tooth to tend to. More recently my trainer told me to cut down on salt and add pepper or any kind of spice to my food. After some serious research online, i discovered that spice is a metabolism booster. And, if you are aiming to lose weight, the best thing to do is slowly include spice in your food.

I bought a packet of the dried red chilli, at an Asian store close by. It is similar to the ‘Khandari’ variety. Now a days, I throw in a few chillies in salads, soups, mains and pretty much everything.

So, have you got your chilli yet?

Christmas in Germany

Christmas, or Weihnachten as it is called in Germany, is a season to make merry, spend money and fatten that tummy. Most cities have ‘Wiehnachten Markets’ which sell christmas items, clothes, pottery, chocolates, food and of course the main attraction the Glüwein stall. I did my fair share of drinking the spiced hot wine this holiday season.

Here’s what goes on in a typical Weihnachten Market.

Pumpkin Soup

Another year ends and there are books still unread, places you didn’t travel to and that muffin top, that you didn’t get rid of. But we have another 365 days added to our cart, to make another resolution list. And shamelessly one resloution of mine has been to get fit, for a few many years now.

My better half and myself enrolled in a gym a month ago, the interiors of which we saw just for a day. But we have slowly changed the eating habits – cut down on buying junk – chips, chocolates and forzen desserts. I’ve also resolved to give up sugar, which means no jam and quark for breakfast and no sugar in that morning coffee. So being the eternal foodie that i am, I’m hope to cook healthy and eat healthy in 2012.

Soup has always been great for weight loss. It’s healthy, light on the stomach and tastes great.

Ingredients

A few medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
1kg peeled, deseeded pumpkin
1 large (about 160g) onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable or chicken stock*
Cream, for serving
Ground nutmeg, for serving

Meathod

Add chicken stock in pan, along with pumpkin pieces, onion and garlic. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook till the pumpkin is soft and mashable.

Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

After cooling, add to blender and puree till smooth. Transfer the contents to the pan and cook still the soup is reduced.

Serve with a swirl of cream and garnish with parsley.

Hummus

Zaks, a tiny hole in the wall restaurant in Frazer Town, Bangalore is probably the reason why i fell in love with Hummus. I often went there starving with close friend and fellow foodie Sahar in tow. We would gormandize plates of hummus and pita bread and leave the place very happy and not too broke.

Hummus is served as a dip/spread usually with pita bread, you can also have them with crackers. For the calorie conscious, a tablespoon of Hummus is about 27 calories and a cup about 415. It’s healthy and very easy to make.

Ingredients

400gms Chickpeas

2 tablespoons Tahini Paste

3 cloves garlic

Juice of 2 lemons

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cumin

Salt

Salt to taste

Water

Meathod

Soak chickpeas in water overnight and cook them in water till they are soft.

In a blender, add the boiled and cooled Chickpeas, tahini paste, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and cumin. Blend well to reach a preferred consistency.

Add in a bowl and garnish with a finely chopped coriander, crushed pepper and a swig of Olive oil.

NOTE: Tahini Paste is commercially available. If you prefer making your own paste, you can store it for a maximum of three months. For Tahini paste, roast sesame seeds lightly. Ensure you don’t brown them while roasting. Cool the seeds and blend with some extra virgin olive oil till it is a smooth consistency.