Tag Archives: dinners

Zucchini, Potato, and Scallion Pancakes with Chived Sour Cream

18 Sep

Whew, it has been a tiring weekend. I’m trying to sell my car, so yesterday consisted of getting my car’s oil changed, having it inspected, getting it washed, vacuuming it out, digging up old maintenance records, and taking pictures of it. Hopefully I can sell it soon and get a car that is more…well, badass.


Then today has been full of laundry, dishes, vacuuming (again!), and rug doctoring. Yes, the good ol’ Rug, M.D. I am trying to rid my carpets of all evidence of having two naughty (but stinkin’ cute) dogs living with me. The house is looking better already, but between homework and cleaning, I am exhausted. Remember when weekends used to be weekends?

But despite being so busy, I’ve managed to whip up some amazing meals lately. Last night I tried out Zucchini, Potato, and Scallion pancakes. Foodgasm alert! These pancakes are nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfectly but simply flavored with salt, pepper, and scallions. They were absolutely perfect with a cool dollop of chived sour cream on top. I served the pancakes with roasted carrots— a nice reward for a long day of work. Plus, I pilfered the recipe from a brilliant blog I’ve just stumbled upon called REC(ession)PES. I think the name speaks for itself 🙂


Zucchini, Potato, and Scallion Pancakes with Chived Sour Cream

(recipe by REC(ession)PES)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup lowfat sour cream
  • 1 bunch chives

Preparation:

  • Clean and scrub, but do not peel, the potato and zucchini. Using a box grater, grate potato and zucchini into a colander and toss with a teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then scoop up about a handful into a clean dishcloth. Wring out over the sink. Place dried grated vegetables into a large bowl. Repeat, switching to a clean dry dishtowel if need be, until you’ve dried all the grated vegetables. You want the potato and zucchini to be pretty dry at this point.
  • Slice the scallions into ¼ inch slices, and add to grated veggies in bowl. Add the flour, beaten eggs, and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Add in a few extra dashes of salt if you like.
  • Chop chives and combine with sour cream in a separate bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pick up about a handful of veggie mixture, and shape into a ball in your palm. Smoosh it into a cake by flattening it with your other hand, and add to skillet.
  • Repeat until you fill the pan, making sure not to crowd your pancakes. Cook about 3 minutes, until the bottoms are golden, and the cakes have set, being careful not to burn the bottoms. Then flip them over, and continue cooking for approximately another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Adding more oil to the pan as needed, repeat until all the pancakes are cooked. Serve topped with dollops of sour cream and chives.

Makes about 15 pancakes with topping.

Indian Stir-Fried Black-Eyed Peas with Mushroom Croquettes, & Farewell to Crappy Pictures

3 Aug

I just borrowed two Indian cookbooks from the library– India’s Vegetarian Cooking: A Regional Guide by Monisha Bharadwaj, and Pure & Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine by Vidhu Mittal– and so far, I’m impressed with both! As I browsed through the pages of each cookbook, I was in awe of the vibrant pictures and helpful descriptions of the process. I bookmarked several recipes to try out. I have a feeling I will be renewing these books several times 🙂

The other night I tried one recipe from each book to make Stir-Fried Black-Eyed Peas (“Bhuna Lobhia”), and Mushroom Croquettes (“Khumb ke Cutlet”). What attracted me to these recipes was that they called for easy-to-find ingredients. In fact, for the main dish, I only needed to buy tomatoes and peas…I had everything else on hand or was buying the ingredients anyway for other dishes I was making that week. Love that!


Both dishes were amazingly flavorful. The mushroom croquettes had a crunchy exterior, then a nice thick layer of soft potato, and and finally some tasty stir-fried mushrooms and peppers in the center. I imagine it being like a tater tot for grown-ups (but obviously way better!) 🙂 I thought the croquettes tasted wonderful on their own, but next time I make them I might also include some sort of chutney to add some brightness.


The black-eyed peas were also wonderful. The ginger, garlic, cilantro, cumin seeds, and other Indian spices were a fantastic combination, and one I’ve yet to encounter in Indian restaurants. I will definitely be making this dish again and again!

Will you miss crappy pictures like this one? I won't!

In other news, the pictures you see in this post are [hopefully] the last crappy pictures you’ll see from me! I am excited to report that my husband and I just bought ourselves a Sony Cybershot DSC-HX100V as an early Christmas present! We were certainly due for a new camera; I bought my last one in 2003 and it is a measly 5 megapixels! So practically a stone age camera.

Oh and my husband just got a new job (hooray!) so he had to take advantage of his employee discount of H.H. Gregg while he still could 🙂 I am hoping my food photography improves markedly, but I know I need to still learn more about proper lighting and composition; a new camera won’t solve all my problems. Feel free to leave me some tips!

Stir-Fried Black-Eyed Peas/Bhuna Lobhia

(adapted from recipe by Monisha Bharadwaj, India’s Vegetarian Cooking: A Regional Guide)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (equal parts ginger and garlic, combined in mini food processor)
  • 1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Preparation:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, fry until dark, and then add the onion and stir-fry until golden. Stir in the ginger-garlic paste and mix well.
  • Add the black-eyed peas, sprinkle in the chili powder and tumeric, and fry for 1 minute. Then add tomatoes, garam masala, sugar, and salt. Stir, add about 1/2 cup water, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 mins. The beans should retain their shape. To further thicken the sauce, mash a few of the black-eyed peas.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Mushroom Croquettes/Khumb ke Cutlet

(adapted from recipe by Vidhu Mittal, Pure & Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato, boiled for about 20 mins, and grated
  • 2 bread slices (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated mozzarella or other melting cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt, plus more, to taste
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tbsp bell pepper, chopped

Preparation:

  • Dip the bread slices in about 2/3 cup of water and immediately squeeze out the water. Mix bread with  potato, cheese, and salt. Set aside.
  • For the filling, heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add mushrooms, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for about 30 seconds and remove.
  • Divide the potato dough into 15 equal-sized balls. Stuff each ball with 1/4 tsp filling, and fold to seal the filling inside. Reshape.
  • Heat a deep fryer to 360 degrees (or fry on stovetop). Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain on paper towels, then serve.

Makes 15 croquettes.

Falafel with White Bean Yogurt Sauce & Tabouli

31 Jul

There are few things better in life than falafel enveloped by hummus and pita at a good Greek restaurant. While I’ve done a good job of making hummus in my own kitchen, I always thought falafel was something so delicious and complex that I’d never be able to recreate it. The closest I’d come was to buy a falafel mix, which proved sorely disappointing. Without hope, my quest to find a perfect falafel recipe never really began.

That’s why, when I randomly stumbled upon this recipe for falafel, I was only cautiously optimistic. I couldn’t allow myself to get my hopes up only to be disappointed! To say I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted this dish would be an understatement.


It was fantastic!! The falafel itself was crispy and flavorful and not too dry (like poorly executed falafel can sometimes be). The white bean yogurt sauce was the perfect accompaniment as a cold, refreshing topping to the warm falafel. And the tabouli was also amazing! Admittedly, I had never tried tabouli before so I can’t speak to its authenticity, but I can say that it tasted bright, fresh, and lemony. I can’t imagine a better side dish for the falafel!


Not only was this dish a delight to eat, but it was also rather simple to make. There isn’t much chopping because the recipe mostly relies on the food processor. The only thing that’s cooked on the stove is the Israeli couscous (unless you do your frying on the stove, that is), and the falafel only takes a couple of minutes in the deep fryer for almost immediate gratification.


And to top it all off, this recipe comes from Melissa D’Arabian’s Ten Dollar Dinners. So you can easily whip up a delicious meal that tastes like it belongs in a great Greek restaurant, for less than $10! This recipe is definitely something to be excited about.

Falafel with White Bean Yogurt Sauce and Tabouli

(adapted from falafel, white bean sauce and tabouli recipes by Melissa D’Arabian)

For the Falafel-

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups canned chickpeas
  • 3 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • Generous 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • Generous 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup flour, plus 1/4 cup flour for shaping patties
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Spinach, for garnish
  • White bean yogurt sauce, recipe follows

Preparation:

  • In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, parsley, cilantro, egg, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine and season with salt. The mixture will not be smooth, but it should not have  large chunks.
  • Add in the baking powder and 1/3 cup of the flour and pulse to just combine. Remove to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a deep fryer to 360 degrees F (Note: you can also fry on the stovetop if you don’t have a deep fryer– see the original recipe for instructions).
  • Remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. While waiting for the deep fryer to heat, drop spoonfuls of the chickpea mixture onto a plate with 1/4 cup flour. Roll into balls on the floured plate and press gently into patties.
  • Fry in batches of hot oil for about 3 to 4 minutes each side and drain on paper towels.
  • Serve the falafel on a bed of spinach and topped with white bean yogurt sauce.

For the White Bean Yogurt Sauce-

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cooked white beans
  • 1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • Puree the white beans, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and olive oil in a mini food processor until very smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
For the Tabouli-

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional, I didn’t use it)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
Preparation:
  • Cook couscous according to package directions, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the couscous and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and zest with the olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • In a large serving bowl, mix together the couscous, parsley, cilantro, mint (if using), tomatoes, and scallions. Toss with the vinaigrette and season to taste.
  • Allow to sit for at least a half hour so the flavors can marry.

Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Panzanella Salad & Becoming BFFs with a Top Chef

4 Jul

Wow, it has been almost a month since I’ve posted. I’ve been doing a lot of travel in the past month, including a trip home to New York state (not the exciting part) for my sister’s high school graduation, and going to Columbus for a friend’s wedding. In between all of the travel, I’ve been super busy with my summer class, and my husband has been doing the grocery shopping, and we’ve slipped into a routine of eating a variation of the same seven meals each week. So boring! Well yesterday I finally did the grocery shopping myself and picked up some ingredients for a new recipe I’ve been meaning to try, Grilled Panzanella Salad. Minus the meat, of course (vegetarian alert).

But before I get to this delicious recipe, allow me to update you.

Let’s start with New York. My baby sister graduated from high school which was rather emotional for me, but I am so proud of her! She is a little genius. Think I can take credit for her brilliance because I always used to “play school” with her and teach her all of the material I was learning in school, even though I’m seven years older?? I like to think so 🙂

My mom and I spent nearly an entire day on cupcakes for my sister’s graduation party the following day. After baking and decorating 100 cupcakes, my delusions of someday opening a cupcake bakery have vanished. It was hard work! But the result was impressive, if I do say so myself.

Ghiradelli squares on top of Reese's peanut butter cups for caps, and pirouette cookies for diplomas

To add to the excitement of graduation day, one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Angelo Sosa from Top Chef D.C. and Top Chef All Stars, was in attendance!! Remember, I am not from the exciting part of New York, and my tiny hometown of approximately 6,000 is not used to anyone important being in our midst. But Angelo’s nephew was graduating with my sister, and I could not pass up the opportunity to meet one of my idols. So after the graduation, we had a wonderful conversation about Top Chef, food, my dad’s restaurant, and my life in Indiana! Hooray! Hopefully this means we are now BFFs.

Me and Angelo Sosa!! By the way, he is the most beautiful man I have ever seen in person. The pictures really don't do him justice.

But now I am back to my dull and school-filled life in Indiana. All the more reason to grill up something special for the holiday weekend.

As my luck would have it, about two minutes after I started grilling some lovely vegetables for the Grilled Panzanella Salad, my propane ran out 😦 But you know my motto, when life gives you lack of propane, make Grilled Panzanella Salad with a panini press. Or something like that. Using the panini press was less time-efficient, but the end result was a close enough approximation to what I could get on the grill.


The salad is lovely. Perhaps it’s not truly a panzanella salad because I omitted the salami, but I don’t think anyone would miss it. You get a delicious charred flavor on the vegetables, with soft cubes of grilled ciabatta bread to soak up all the lemon vinagrette. Top it with some fresh herbs, and you’ve got a bright, flavorful dish that would be a welcome addition to any cookout.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend! Happy birthday, USA!

Vegetarian Grilled Panzanella Salad (adapted from recipe by Food Network Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from about half of a medium lemon)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 6 scallions
  • 2 large bell peppers (any color), quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 10-ounce loaf ciabatta or semolina bread, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Dried (or fresh) basil, to taste (I used approximately 1 tbsp dried)
  • Freshly grated parmesan

Preparation:

  • Preheat a grill to medium high. Make the dressing: Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  • Brush the grill with olive oil. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill cut-side down until slightly charred, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet.
  • Put the scallions, peppers and zucchini in the same bowl; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the bread with olive oil.
  • Grill the bread and vegetables until charred, about 2 minutes per side for the bread and scallions and 4 minutes per side for the peppers and zucchini. Transfer to the baking sheet and let cool slightly.
  • Cut the scallions, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and bread into bite-size pieces; transfer to the bowl. Add the herbs,  dressing and any juices from the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss.
  • Top with parmesan cheese.

Makes 3-4 servings.