Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bathing The Microwave Oven

Iknow, I know, I've been making a big mistake, but truth be told, this is how I clean my microwave oven. Thoroughly, with a scrubber and detergent under the kitchen sink, or under the bathroom tap, like I did today, slipping on the soapy floor in the process. The stars were kind and I didn't hurt myself but I have been getting quite a few outraged queries on how I can do that to the microwave because it can short-circuit or set the house on fire.

Actually, I didn't do this till a few years ago. I saw a friend doing something similar to this and when I exclaimed in surprise, she said, "Just make sure it's not plugged in," with a hearty laugh. I used to wipe it down. Then after I started bathing it, I would dry it for a day or more, turning it over a couple of times in the fond hope all the water in all the holes and crevices would drain and evaporate.

Well, no longer. I go back to the non-easy way of more frequent and less invasive maintenance. I'm sending this off to Akheela of Torview Toronto who's hosting Black & White Wednesday this week, created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and now organised by Cinzia of Cindystar Blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Legume Love Affair-52: The Round-Up

Innovation, gorgeous photography and a lot of learning marked this edition of My Legume Love Affair, created by Susan. I hosted the October edition. Here are the entries I received. The winner(s) named at the end.

                                             Chole Baingan - Garbanzo Beans with Brinjal


                                                   Susan Mathew of Chacko's Kitchen

                                                Jota/Bean, Sauerkraut and Potato Soup


                                                           Simona of Briciole

                                                                 Methi Mattar Malai

                                                           Sharanya of Sara's Tasty Kitchen
                                                                         Spinach Dal

                                                       Sharanya of Sara's Tasty Kitchen

                                                                 Yardlong Beans Usil

                                                             Cham of Spice Club
                                                     Peruvian Mayocaba Bean Bowl with
                                                              a Roasted Pepper Sauce
                                                                  and Fried Plantains

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dessert Hummus

                                                                 Janet of Taste Space

                                                                     Hummus, Revisited

                                                     Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe


                                                              Lubna of Yummy Food

                                                          Ammini Ramachandran's
                                                                  Pacha Sambar

                                                        Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen

                                                     Roasted Garlic Black Bean Stew

                                                             H T of Teczcape

                                                         Broccoli Paruppu Usili

                                                          Siri of Cooking with Siri

                                                     Rajma Chawal/Beans and Rice

                                                     Finla of My Kitchen Treasures

                                                           Vegan Refried Bean Soup

                                                      Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook

                                  Green Pea Dessert with Agar Agar and Coconut Milk

                                                 Sra of When My Soup Came Alive

Using a set of numbers generated by random.org turned up Janet of Taste Space as the winner of the Super Natural Everyday: Well-Loved Recipes From My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson.

In the same way, I determined that the winner of Hurst Bean Box would be H T of Teczcape. This prize is available only to US residents.

You can reach me at srablogATgmailDOTcom for clarifications, if any.

Simona of Briciole is hosting the November edition - MLLA 53.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pease Pudding, Twisted

Desperation is the mother of invention. What else would drive you to combine green peas, agar agar/China grass and coconut milk? This bears no relation to the traditional pease pudding which is made with yellow split peas and served with ham or bacon. Going by the majority of the ingredients, it could be more South-East Asian than anything else. But really, it is just the product of a fevered imagination.

Two days away was the deadline for MLLA 52 that I'm hosting for Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and I still had not zeroed in on a dish. I didn't want to make any of the routine stuff because I didn't want to have to sit and eat it. What if it bored me? I had heard of green pea burfi (fudge-like) too, but I didn't want to have to use any elbow grease - burfi has to be stirred and watched over.

Among the entries I had got so far, chick peas had been used. So had rajma. There's a green pea entry too, but along with the rest, they were mostly savoury dishes. And I badly wanted mine to be different because I didn't want to be a host in name alone but in spirit too. And I had some agar agar needing to be used up.

I looked up instructions on the proportions of water and agar agar needed for the latter to gel the former. It seemed to be 5 gm for just a little under 1 litre of water, so I set about making it yesterday before leaving for work.

I kept it in the fridge and hit upon the idea of the topping only much later. I had decided not to use any other flavouring but when I tasted it, it seemed a little bland, except for the taste of pea. But I didn't really fancy the idea of garnishing it saffron or with raisins and cashews. I went for sesame instead, and then I spied a packet of poppy seed. I toasted a tablespoon of each and sprinkled it on the pudding. It really lifted the taste and lent it texture too.

This morning, I messaged my friend S asking her if she wanted to try a mystery pudding - I had to know what others thought of it before I put it up on the blog. I was prepared to confess, of course, that it was 'peasy' but I thought I'd check anyway. My friend S is a big foodie and I knew she'd be sporting enough to play a guessing game.

When the afternoon rolled around, she came over and I gave her the plate in which I'd set the pudding and asked her to guess. Cucumber and pista were among her first guesses but they weren't right.

I dismissed all her guesses so finally she asked if she could smell it.

She couldn't smell anything. (Neither could I.)

Then she tasted it. She still couldn't taste anything green. I was relieved to know she couldn't taste any green pea because I doubt most people would be drawn to it if it tasted peasy.  I guess it smelt that way to me because I was too close to the whole affair.

Or maybe the sesame-poppy seed topping helped mask it.

What you need
Green peas, frozen: 1 cup
Agar agar/China Grass: 5 gm
Coconut milk: 200 ml
Coconut sugar: 25-50 gm (I used a block, not loose) (You can use ordinary sugar too)
More coconut sugar/white sugar (optional): 2 tsp
Water: 1 cup

Sesame seed and poppy seed: 1 tbsp each

How to proceed
Soak the agar agar for at least 15 minutes in the water.

Heat the coconut sugar in less than 1/4 cup of water to get it to soften/melt.

Microwave the green peas till half done in less than 1/4 cup water. Cool and grind into as smooth a paste as you can.

Boil the soaked agar agar with the water. Once it comes to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for about 10-15 minutes till the agar agar strands have melted completely.

To this add the softened/melted coconut sugar.

Stir once and add the green pea paste.

Mix well and turn off the heat.

Add the coconut milk and mix gently.

Check for taste and add the white sugar or more coconut sugar if you want to.

Pour into a shallow rimmed plate and leave it to set. As it's agar agar, it even sets without a refrigerator, and quite rapidly.

After it's firm enough (after about 2 hours, just to be safe), it's ready to eat.

Sprinkle the sesame-poppy seed garnish on it. It unmoulded easily after it was cut into pieces.