Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for May, 2010

Zucchini Bread

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 29, 2010

So why should you pay attention to the 500th zucchini bread recipe of your life?  Well, if you are satisfied with the one you have, move right on.  I have used the recipe in James Beard’s “Baking with Beard” for the longest time making only minor changes over the years.  But Gina de Palma’s recipe caught my eye, because the walnuts in it were toasted and it used more zucchini and less flour.  It also called for a lemon glaze, but I really don’t like complicated desserts.  Besides who needs a glaze on a bread that already has so much sugar, particularly if you eat this for breakfast?

I made a couple more changes:  I swapped out ¾ cup of the regular granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar) with ¾ cup of dark brown sugar.  In the end the batter was a little dense, so I added ¼ cup milk (you could leave this out or adjust it down, depending on how much zucchini you packed into your measuring cup).

Zucchini bread (adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma)

1 cup walnuts, chopped up into little pieces or processed in the food processor

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

1cup olive oil (vegetable oil if you don’t have it)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cups zucchini, shredded in the food processor or grated

¼ cup milk (optional)

Position a rack in the cener of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Grease either a 10 cup bundt pan or two 9x5x4 pans (I used one 9x5x 4 and one 8x4x3: it was fine) with butter, then dust with flour to coat the pan completely. Tap out the excess flour.  Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until they are brown and give off a nutty aroma about 10 min (do not overbrown).  Cool completely, then finely chop them in a food processor.

Mix the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices in a bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 min), then add the vanilla extract.  Beat in the dry ingredients at low speed until thoroughly combined, then at medium speed for half a minute.  Add the zucchini and the walnuts on low speed until they are completely incorporated.  Add the milk, if using and combine thoroughly.

Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 45-50 min till a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan completely for 10 min. before serving.

Posted in baked, Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Cilantro Mint Mango Chutney

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 21, 2010

I have got cilantro and mint coming out my ears.  Also, I had an overripe Ataulfo mango, not ripe enough to stick in the compost bin and not good enough to eat.  So I made a mint-cilantro chutney/dip with this mango.  It is a cross between the Indian mint chutney (some versions of which call for a raw mango) and a mint-mango salsa that I ate at my student’s wedding last year.

This dip is wonderful eaten with naan or any flat bread, as an accompaniment to an Indian or Mexican meal or a a spread on a sandwich.  You also throw in a spoon or two into a soup and totally transform it your soup.  So here goes:


2.5 cups of mint leaves (I used spearmint), stemmed.

2 cups of cilantro leaves (no need to remove the delicate stems)

1 ataulfo mango, peeled, seeded and roughly sliced (any other mango with a low fiber content will also do: e.g., Manilla and Keitt)

4 medium cloves of garlic

½ cup sweet onions, coarsely chopped or quartered

1 ½ “ ginger, peeled and crudely chopped

1 small bird pepper, stemmed (optional, if you don’t like the heat)

3-4 sprigs of chives if you have it

2 small limes (adjust according to your taste)

Salt (to taste).

Rinse the mint and cilantro leaves and shake off excess water.  Add all ingredients, except limes and whir in the food processor till you get a smooth puree.  Remove from food processor, add the juice of 1 lime, taste and adjust the salt and tartness. Add the juice of the remaining lime if you like it more tart.  Serve as suggested above.  We had it this weekend for lunch with naan and thinly sliced radishes, carrots and Dubliner’s Cheese from the Farmer’s market.  It was perfect.

Posted in condiments, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Buttermilk Biscuits

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 14, 2010

Recipes for “the best biscuits you will ever taste” are as common as there are cooks.  So I won’t make the same claim for these buttermilk biscuits.  But I will say that they are optimized like the parameters of a well-executed molecular biology experiment.  There are not many parameters to optimize actually, but here are the key ones: use cold butter, do not overhandle the dough, cut the biscuits rather than breaking off and balling them up and use buttermilk if you have it. Once your biscuits are cut and ready to bake, there is only more parameter to tweak:  if you like soft biscuits place them close to each other (1” apart) and bake them in a jelly roll pan rather than a baking sheet.  If you like them crisper, set them farther apart and use a baking sheet. That’s it.

Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso’s The New Basics)

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

1 tbs. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1tsp sugar (2 tsp-1 tbsp if you prefer them sweeter)

6 tbs. butter (the original recipe calls for 5 tbs., but uses ½ and ½ instead of buttermilk)

¾ cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup full fat yogurt+1/4 water ( the original recipe calls for the same amount of half and half)

egg wash (1 egg yolk + a little milk or water) for brushing the biscuits)

Turn the oven to 450˚F. Make the dough in the food processor: it works best.  Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the food processor and give it a whir to mix the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into small pices (about 1/3” thick) and toss them into the processor.  Using the pulse button, cut the butter into the flour till the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.

Add the buttermilk and pulse until the dough just holds together.  Do not overprocess.

If you do not have a processor, then mix the dry ingredients and work the butter into the dry ingredients either with 2 forks or with your hands (less tedious). Then add the butter milk and work the dough with your hands till it holds together and you can form a reasonably smooth ball.

Roll out the dough to a ¾” high circle and cut out 8-10 2 ¾” inch biscuits and place 1” apart on an ungreased jelly roll pan (the one that has a lip).  Brush biscuits with egg-wash and bake for 12-14 min in the center rack of the oven.  Serve with warmed honey, butter or with grapefruit marmalade and a thin slice of cheddar (my favorite).

Posted in baked, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Side Dishes, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Curried cabbage and peas (Bandgobhi aur matar ki sabzi)

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 7, 2010

I love vegetables belonging to the mustard family, especially cabbage.  When fresh English peas are available, making curried cabbage and peas moves to the top of my list, especially for a weeknight meal.  The recipe is simple if you use a food processor to shred a green or purple cabbage, cole-slaw style. Boiling peas in salted water until they are in the zone between just hard-just soft also speeds up the cooking process.  So here goes:


½ a head of cabbage (green or purple or a mix, shredded cole-slaw style in the food processor)

½ onion, thinly sliced in the food processor

1½ cup fresh green peas, shelled and boiled until just turning tender (alternatively, use frozen peas, thawed drained).

2 tbs. oil

pinch of hing (asafetida, omit if you don’t have it)

½ tsp turmeric pwd.

1 tsp mustard seeds (black)

½ tsp grated ginger

1-2 dry cayenne peppers, broken into 2-3 bits (available at the Indian or Asian grocery stores)

salt to taste

1-2 tbs. water, as needed.

Cilantro for garnish, optional.

Set peas to boil in salted water, or steam for 20 min, with a little salt sprinkled on them. If boiling, drain peas in a colander as soon as the water begins to boil and the peas begin to soften. Heat the oil in a large pan (I like a cast iron wok, it gives you the crisp stir fried cabbage taste rather than icky soggy cabbage taste). When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, cayenne peppers, asafetida and ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 min till fragrant. Then add the onions and the turmeric and stir-fry till the onions soften and begin to turn brown (5-7 min in a wok).  Then add the peas and the salt and stir fry for 1-2 min till the peas pick up the flavors.  Then add the cabbage and stir to mix all ingredients.  Stir fry on medium-high heat for 10—15 min, till the cabbage is mostly soft, with just a touch of crunchiness (sort of like the cabbage in Chinese moo-shoo).  If the cabbage starts to brown too much, add water, a tablespoon at a time.  You don’t want too much water, it will cause the cabbage to wilt prematurely and leach its flavor into the liquid.  Yucky stuff. Taste and adjust the salt and garnish with cilantro, if using. Serve with rice, raita, daal (lentils) or any flat bread.  If you have leftovers, you can roll it up in tortilla and take it for lunch the next day.

Variations:.  You can mix the cabbage with carrots or kohlrabi (or make this with the latter alone).  You can subsitute the peas with edamame or lima beans or potatoes.  You can finish this off with a ¼ cup of shredded coconut (unsweetened, buy frozen at an Indian grocery store).  You can add cashews or pepitas or curry leaves to the initial temper (mustard seeds etc). You get the picture.

Posted in Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Gulab Jamun

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 2, 2010

The name means rose (colored) berries when translated from Hindi.  As things that are bad for your waistline, this is as bad as it gets: a ball of fried milk-based dough doused in saffron-scented sugar syrup.  If I am putting you off, this desert is not for you.  But if you are looking for the ultimate soul food: warm, gooey, sweet, syrupy and perfumed with the loveliest of spices (saffron, cardamom),  gulab jamun is for you.

As always with Indian food, there are many versions of gulab jamun.  Some require paneer (Indian cheese) and milk solids (khoya),  ingredients that many don’t have on hand. Others insert a whole peppercorn at the center of the gulab jamun (this could be interesting).  The one I am posting here is made with ingredients everyone is likely to have on hand and can be made in 15 min.

Gulab Jamun (adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer).

1¼ cup sugar

3 cups water

7 tbsp powdered milk

3 tsp flour + a pinch of basking soda (the original recipe calls for 3 tsp self-rising flour)

1 tsp semolina (cream of wheat)

3 tsp butter, melted

cardamom powder- a couple of pinches

pinch of saffron, crushed in a mortar or between your fingers

milk to mix

oil for deep frying

The original recipe also call for 4 drops of rose water.  I dislike this stuff in food, so I have omitted it.

Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan on a medium flame. Dissolve the sugar, then bring the syrup to a boil, 2-3 min.  Add  the cardamom powder and  crushed saffron and set aside. Put powdered milk, flour, baking soda, cream of wheat, butter  in a bowl. Mix well with a little milk to make a smooth, pliable dough. Divide into 15-20 equal portions, and roll each portion into a smooth ball. Heat the oil and gently deep fry the balls until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel and put into the syrup. Bring the syrup to a boil, then remove from the heat. Serve warm.

Posted in Asian, Dessert, Indian Food, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

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