Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for March, 2010


Posted by fourclankitchen on March 27, 2010

There are probably dozens of versions of quesadillas out there. All involve some form of tortilla and melted cheese and usually other fillers. My family likes beans as the filler (although I have been told by some that this makes it a burrito- who knew?). I am on a no canned products kick since the BPA (bisphenol A) story unfolded. This stuff, typically an additive in hard plastics, is also used as a can liner (including some cans that carry organic products). So I am trying the no can thing.
This means that what used to be a quickie meal at our house now requires some planning. I do the kidney beans in a slow cooker over the weekend and use the beans during the week. Unused beans submerged in their cooking liquid can go in the freezer and thawed as needed, but this is usually not an issue in our house. Beans soaked overnight can also be cooked in a pressure cooker if you have one.

Once you have the beans cooked (or if you use the canned variety), you go from cutting board to table in literally 15 min. flat. You can’t beat that for a weeknight meal and lunch for the next day.

So here is how. You mix the beans with chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro and flavor with salt, lime juice, ground cumin and paprika. Heat the tortilla, add some cheese (a sprinkling), the bean mix and then some more cheese. Heat till cheese begins to melt. That’s it.

If you want to dress this meal up, serve it with guacamole or salsa and chips on the side.

3 cups kidney beans cooked with lots of salt.
1 tomato chopped up in the food processor (do not puree)
½ cup onions chopped fine in the food processor
1 ½ tbs. lime juice (lemon will also do, but it is less fragrant)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped fine in the food processor
1 tsp salt- or to taste
½ tsp paprika (use cayenne to kick it up a notch)
1 tsp cumin

Tortillas: any kind you like. I like the large whole wheat or spinach-onion tortillas.

Drain the kidney beans and leave in a colander while you get your chopping done. Separately chop the onions, tomatoes and cilantro in the food processor and add to the beans. Then add the spices and adjust the salt if needed.

Heat a griddle at medium-high heat (I like a cast iron griddle or an Indian tawa). Smear it with the teeniest amount of oil. You only need to do this once or twice over the course of cooking many quesadillas. Heat your tortilla for about 30 secs. (don’t crisp the tortilla- it needs to stay pliable so you can fold it). Flip the tortilla. Spread a thin film of grated cheese on one half. Spread the bean mix over the cheese. Then add another layer of cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla over or roll into a burrito. The quesedilla is done when the cheese just begins to melt (you can peek, but it should only takes a couple of minutes).

Posted in Main Dishes, Mexican, Vegetarian | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Japanese Somen (wheat) Noodles with Rainbow chard

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 23, 2010

Japanese Somen (wheat) Noodles with Rainbow chard

Somen noodles are widely available in the US and can be made into a quick or elaborate dinner, depending upon your time constraints. These noodles come in different sizes, which differ only in how substantial they feel in your mouth. Cook the Somen noodles according to the package instructions (it is the only English number on the back of the package). Add some stir-fried vegetables, eggs or thinly-sliced chicken to the cooked noodles along with your favorite Japanese sauce. The recipe below is a quick weeknight affair and uses only ginger, garlic and chard.

1 lb medium diameter Somen noodles (you can use any thickness, but the thin ones are easy to overcook and easily become sticky).
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ inch ginger, minced
1 bunch rainbow chard (about 4 stems), the leaves and stem coarsely chopped
½- ¾ tsp salt, or to taste
2 ½ tbs. oil, divided
4 tbs. yakiniku sauce (or other Asian stir-fry sauce)
1-2 tbs. water
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Boil water in a large pot and cook Somen noodles according to package instructions. (The cooking time will vary depending upon the thickness of the Somen noodles. Do not add salt to the water, since the noodles are already pretty salty). Drain, wash in cold water and set aside.

Add 2 tbs. oil to a thin-walled wok. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic, stir for a minute, then add the rainbow chard. Saute, stirring frequently for about 5 min, till the chard starts to wilt. Add salt, taste and adjust the salt. Remove chard from the wok.

Add ½ tbs. of oli, 4 tbs. of yakiniku sauce (any soy-based sauce of your choice will do) and 1-2 tbs. of water to the wok. When the mixture starts boiling, add the noodles and using 2 forks or chop sticks, separate the noodles, so that they are fully coated by the sauce, about 4 min. Add more yakiniku sauce, if needed. Then add the stir-fried vegetables, mix and adjust the salt. Garnish with cilantro, if you like the taste. Serve immediately.

Posted in Asian, Main Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Beets with potatoes and fresh grated coconut/Beet Thoran

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 14, 2010

This is a continuation of the posts I have been writing using the food ingredients touted by the NYT as the 10 best foods we normally don’t think to consume ( /the-11-best-foods-you-arent-eating. On top of this list are beets. I have already posted a recipe for a beet soup here. Today, I want to post a recipe for beet toran, a toran being a type of curry with roots in southwest India (Kerala). The idea here is to temper beets and onions with an infusion of cooking oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger and dried red peppers and cook till the beat crunch is just on its way out. I also add potatoes to provide textural contrast to the crunch of the beets, but you could leave ‘em out if that does not appeal. This dish is tranformed in the last 5-10 min when grated coconut is added. As the coconot gets roasted, it releases coconut oil (this oil is good for you, until further notice) and provides a nutty, toasted coconut flavor. I serve it with rice and raita or some lentil/dal concoction. The next day, I take it to work rolled in whole wheat tortillas.

For the infusion:
3 tbs. oil
1 tsp Black mustard seeds
6-8 Curry leaves or more (available at Indian grocery stores, leave out if you cant find them)
1 dried red chili broken into pieces (optional)
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic

3 medium sized red beets, grated in the food processor.
3 medium sized potatoes microwaved till nearly done (10 min in my dinosaur microwave).
½ cup grated unsweetened coconut (thawed if using frozen coconut- available at Indian grocery stores)
1 tsp coriander powder
Pinch of Asofoetida (hing)
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika (adds color and flavor, but no heat)
1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
cilantro for garnish (if desired)

Mince the ginger and garlic and grate the beets in a food processor (this would be very tedious if using a box grater). Heat cooking oil in a large wok (I use a 14” Chinese wok) or cast iron pan. When the oil gets hot, add the mustard seeds, asofoetida, curry leaves, dried chillies, garlic and ginger till the seeds sputter and a delicious aroma fills your kitchen. Add the beets, then the coriander, turmeric, salt, paprika and stir to mix. Allow beats to cook till they nearly lose their crunch (about 10 min on fairly high heat). The idea is not to allow the beets to release water and steam in their own juices, you want the stir fried taste. Now add the potatoes and continue to stir till the potatoes turn bright read (1-2 minutes). Add grated coconut and allow the coconut to heat up, release oil and get just slightly browned- about 5-7 min. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and lentils or naan and raita.
The times provided here are for a wok, which is very thin walled and heats up to a high heat. A cast iron pan would also do nicely. Adjust the heat if using a steel pan.
Note: Do not throw the beet stems and leaves. You can chop them into this right here. But if you are a purist, they can be used in a soup or a Chinese stirfry at a later time.

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, the 11 best foods (NYT), vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Apple Yogurt Cake

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 7, 2010

When you are rounding the bend to middle age, your idea of a luxurious breakfast is no longer a confectionary slathered with cream and syrup. But you occasionally still want something just a touch out of the ordinary. Something that comes together easily enough to get to the newspaper before the morning is over, but delectable enough to set Saturday apart from Friday. This cake is it.

It also has an interesting history about which you can read at Smitten Kitchen.

The dominant flavors in this cake are olive oil and lemon. You don’t really taste the grated apples- they just add moisture, tartness and freshness. The whole milk yogurt provides the richness. I have never tried my hand at Italian desserts (this one is actually Greek), but the manner in which the olive oil perfumes this cake has convinced me to inch in that direction.

Apple yoghurt cake (Adapted from The Spanish Table via Smitten Kitchen).

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk yogurt (I like Brown Cow, with the cream top)
3 tbs. lemon
1 tsp almond essence (optional)
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 tbs. butter melted
3 cups shredded unpeeled, cored apples (I used honey crisps, but really anything will do)

Place the oven rack at the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Butter and flour a 9” springform pan. Grate the apples in a food processor and set aside. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Using the food processor beat the eggs and the sugar for about a min. Add the lemon, almond essence and butter to the sugar-egg mix. Then mix the sugar-egg mix into the flour mix, alternating with the olive oil, till all the ingredients (except the apples) are fully blended. Then mix in the grated apples and pour into a springform pan. The original recipe calls for baking the cake for 55-60 min. However, my cake took about 1 hr. 5 min. So start checking at 55 min with a sharp knife/cake tester and take it from there.

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Nanaimo Bars (from Laura)

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 5, 2010

This came from my friend Laura, the queen of sinful desserts:

Here is a recipe I recently made. Since it is a popular Canadian treat, I used the Olympics as an excuse to finally make it (I had found the recipe months ago). They are named for the town of Nanaimo, just outside of Vancouver. Everyone loved them, though they are very sweet. I tweaked the top ganache layer from the standard recipe, but otherwise it is typical. If you think it is worth posting be my guest.

Bottom Layer

½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds or walnuts
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Middle Layer

½ cup unsalted butter
2-3 Tbsp. cream or milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp. vanilla pudding (the original calls for custard powder, which can be found in Indian grocery stores)
2 cups icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)

Top Layer

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 C milk or cream (approx.)

Make the Bottom: Melt first 3 ingredients in a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 9″ x 9″ pan.

Make the Filling:
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Make the Topping: Melt chocolate and milk in microwave, stirring until smooth. Cool. Once cooled, but still liquidy, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator till the topping solidifies, about 1 hour.

Posted in Dessert | Leave a Comment »

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