Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls and Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 29, 2017

 

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The cafeteria at work sells Vietnamese Spring rolls for a ransom.  I thought it was time to switch to home-made ones and really, they are so easy to make and so versatile that they should be in your lunch rotation.   You can use whatever you have in the fridge and scale up to any number of people you want to feed.  Plus throw a couple of dipping sauces in.   My favorites are peanut sauce and nuoc cham, the Vietnamese sweet chilli garlic sauce.    For the Spring Roles, I  am providing a list of what I consider to be essential ingredients, plus a list of other ingredients that you can pick from.  I am providing  no quantities, you can scale up and down as you wish. You can buy the peanut sauce and nuoc cham and you can easily find vegetarian versions of each.  I am providing a version of nuoc cham that I obtained from the blog Cafe Sucre Farine and will post a recipe for peanut sauce another time.

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Ingredients:

Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham): 

2/3 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbs fish sauce

2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp sambal olek (chilli sauce)

1-2 tsp cilantro stems, chopped fine

 

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Spring Rolls (Essential Ingredients):

  • Spring Roll Wraps (any size), available at almost all supermarkets
  • Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • Mint, Finely Chopped
  • Avocados
  • Firm Tofu, or substitute cooked shrimp/ left-over noodles,  or simply add more avocados and bean sprouts.  Anything that provides body will do.
  • Roasted, unsalted peanuts, crushed

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Optional ingredients:

  • Lettuce, finely slivered
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Radish, shredded
  • Raw Mango, shredded
  • Scallions, green parts, finely minced
  • Serrano peppers, finely minced
  • lime
  • Teriyaki Sauce, Soy Sauce, Salt

 

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Method:

  1. Purchase or prepare dipping sauce(s).  For home-made  Nuoc cham, mix all listed ingredients and you are good to go.
  2. Prepare the Tofu:

Cut the Tofu slab into 5 horizontal sheets.  Heat oil in a frying pan and add the sheets.  Cook on high heat for a few minutes till both sides are browned (see image).  If you like, you can flavor the tofu with some teriyaki sauce as I did, or soy sauce or salt.  Cool and cut into match-sticks (see image).

3. Prep all other ingredients and have them available.

4.Place warm water in a large pan large enough to submerge the Spring Roll wraps.  A 9×13 baking pan works    well.

5. Assemble the Spring Rolls:

  1.  Submerge the Spring Roll wraps in the warm water till they soften and lose shape.  This takes seconds
  2. Place the wrap flat on a cutting board.
  3. Place ingredients on the wrap leaving a 1.5″ border on three sides.  Include the essential ingredients and any other ingredients of your choice from the optional list.  Do not overstuff.
  4.  Fold in the top and bottom and then the short  side.
  5. Roll the wrap and gently press the edges.  The edges will seal easily.
  6. Continue, till you are out of ingredients.
  7. Serve with dipping sauces.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, baked, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Whole Wheat Naan (Indian Leavened Flat Bread)

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 28, 2015

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Naan as anyone who has made a trip to an Indian restaurant knows is an Indian leavened flat bread (most Indian breads are unleavened).  Given their high cost at the grocery store, I decided that I would try my hand at making these at home.  I found a recipe that uses Indian whole wheat (atta) flour at a website called Monsoon Spice.  While atta  is  technically a whole wheat flour, this variety of wheat has been bred over millennia to have very little bran and thus a relatively high glycemic index.   Regular whole wheat is not a great option for naans either since it is  tough-tasting and not at all delicate like a naan, typically made with all-purpose flour, is supposed to be.  I had read some place that whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat flour ground superfine,  was a very good whole-wheat flour to use in breads, pizzas and even pastries (!) so I decided to give it a shot.  I was very pleased with the naans this produced, very supple and delicate.  So here is the recipe with a small number of adaptations from the original.

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 Ingredients:
2½ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I am guessing that this can also be substituted by whole what pastry flour)
¼ cup warm milk
¾ – 1 cup Yogurt (I used 1 cup)
1 packet Yeast
½ tbsp Sugar
¼ tsp Baking Powder
1-1½ tsp Salt
2 tbsp Oil
Warm water for kneading

Flour for dusting and rolling the naan.

Ghee/butter for frying and for brushing on top.

Toppings: anything you like. I used: Nigella seeds (kalonji), garlic & chopped cilantro.

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Method:

1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk (110˚F).
2. Mix flours, baking powder and salt.  Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, slowly add  yogurt, oil and yeast. Add little warm water as needed. Continue to knead till you get a soft pliable dough, about 7-10 min.   You can also make your dough in a high-end blender or food processor or you can knead by hand.
3. Make a smooth round dough ball and coat with a thin film of oil.  Cover the dough with a cheese cloth or plastic wrap and keep it in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours till the dough doubles  in size.  I turn my oven on at the lowest setting for 5 min and then turn it off and let the dough rise in the oven.
4. Punch down the dough to release air and divide it into 8-12 equal  sized balls.

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Cooking the Naan: 

There are several ways to cook the naan: in the oven, on a grill and on a griddle on a stove top.   The recipes for all of these are available on various websites.   I used a Lodge cast-iron griddle on the stove as follows:
1. Heat the tawa/griddle till quite hot.

2.  While the griddle is heating, roll or stretch the dough into a round or tear-drop shaped flat bread about 1/4 inch thick.   Sprinkle your toppings and gently press them into the dough using a  rolling pin.  I pressed a few Nigella seeds on both sides.
3. Flip the naan and sprinkle a little water and  place the water side down on the heated griddle. Cook for a minute or so  until you see a few bubbles form and  then flip. The naan should have brown blisters/spots on the side that was down.

4.  Cook the second side for a minute or so as well.  If desired,  smear some ghee/butter to the top of the naan before serving.

Serve with curries, pickles or any Indian meal.  Naans also make a great pizza base.

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Flavoring/Tempering the ghee (tadka): Optional

As an alternative to smearing ghee alone on your cooked naan, you can temper the ghee with nigella seeds, minced garlic and cilantro and smear this concoction on the naan right before serving.  Simply heat 2 tbs of ghee in a small sauce pan, add the nigella seeds, minced garlic and chopped cilantro till the ghee turns aromatic, a matter of few seconds.  Take the ghee off the fire and your schmear is ready.

Posted in Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Indian Food, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Granola

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 28, 2015

IMG_0892 I frequently mean to make granola and it seems relatively easy.  It’s the ingredient list that is daunting and causes me to move on to other dishes.  This time I decided to go with what I had by liberally adapting a granola recipe (Melissa Clark) from the New York Times.  I reduced the amount of oatmeal, swapped most of the maple syrup with honey and changed the type and the proportion of nuts based on  what I had on hand.  I omitted the dried fruits entirely (these are basically candy) and did not find this to be a glaring omission. IMG_0891

 

Ingredients:

1.  2 cups oatmeal (I used McCann’s quick cooking oatmeal).

2. Total seeds (3.5 cups) as follows:

a. 1 cup pistachios

b.. 1/2 cup cup slivered, blanched almonds

c. 1 cup sesame seeds.

d. 1 cup pecans

3. 1 cup desiccated, shredded coconuts (flakes would have been nicer).

4. 1/2 cup olive oil

5.  Sweetners: honey, maple syrup, brown sugar

a.  1/2 cup honey

b/ 1/4 cup maple syrup

c. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

6. 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt (1/2 tsp is using regular table salt or other kosher salt)

7. 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground IMG_0893

Method

1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.

2.  Coat the bottom of a 18×12″ jelly roll pan with oil (I regretably did not do this).

3. Mix all ingredients and spread evenly in the pan.

4. Cook, uncovered for ~45 min (start checking at 30 min, when the granola tastes toasty and starts to clump).

5. Allow granola to cool for a 10-15 min in the pan.  Break into lumps before the granola hardens further and store in an air-tight container.

Note:  You could add dried fruits (apricots, raisins) to this, but should do it after the baking process.

Posted in baked, Breakfast, Brunch, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Small batch Pomegranate Jam

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 7, 2015

IMG_0873I have taken to making small batch jams (1 jar at a time) using frozen fruit and whatever fresh fruit I have left in the fridge at the end of the week.  These taste better than the store bought stuff, have a fraction of the sugar and once made, will work on a piece of toast or a cracker as well as they work as a sauce or relish thrown over chicken. Also, you bypass the canning process.  This pomegranate jam, which actually also contains an apple and an orange,  would be a great replacement for pomegranate molasses in the Persian chicken stew, Fesenjan.  So give it a try,  all you need is a frozen bag of fruit and half an hour on a weekend.

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Ingredients:

1 lb bag of frozen pomegranate

1 orange

1 apple

3 strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water (as needed)

Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste (optional).

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Method:

1.  Cut and core an apple to small bite sized pieces (no need to peel).

2.  Peel the orange part of the orange rind using a vegetable peeler and chop to little bits.  Then peel and discard  the while pith (too bitter) and chop the orange into bite sized pieces.

3. Halve the strawberries.

4. Now throw all of the fruit slog with the frozen pomegranate into a medium sized pot and cook uncovered  on low heat for 15 min.

5.  Now add the sugar and cook for another 20-30 min on low heat, stirring on and off till the  consistency of the jam is to your liking.  Do not walk away during this time or your jam could burn.   Taste your jam and add the lemon juice if the jam tastes too sweet to you.

6.  Blend the jam with a stick blender  till you have the consistency you like.  You may need to add the water at this stage.

7. Place in a mason jar and store in the fridge or freezer.  I do not know how to can, but if you make a jar at a time, you don’t have to.  The jam is great in the freezer for several months.

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Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, condiments, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Onion-Tomato Chutney

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 24, 2015

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This is a versatile and delicious condiment that is at home with an Indian flatbread, a rice pilaf,  tortilla chips or grilled chicken or vegetables.  Really,  you could eat it by the teaspoonful with no accompaniment  and feel that life is good.  It is served in Indian restaurants as an accompaniment to Dosas (rice crepes) and is apparently a staple in many homes in the southern half of India.

This version is based on an adaptation of a recipe I found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJtE7oEigGY  although I made some minor changes to fit what I had on hand and what is easily available.  These changes follow the recipe.

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Ingredients:

2 tbs oil

1 really large onion or 2 or 3 small ones, coarsely chopped.

4 large dried red peppers, torn into large pieces  (these can be as hot or mild as you please, see note below)

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tsp minced  ginger (optional, not in the original)

1 tsp minced garlic (not in the original recipe)

Large pinch Asafoetida (hing), omit if you don’t have access to it

A few bits of the seedless tamarind or 1/2 tsp of tamarind concentrate (see note below)

1 tsp almond or peanut butter (the original recipe calls for 50 g of cashew nuts or sesame seeds, peanuts or roasted yellow split peas, see notes  below)

3/4 tsp  brown sugar (original recipe calls for jaggery, see notes)

salt to taste

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Method

1.  Heat oil in a large cast iron or other skillet.

2.  Add the red chile pieces, hing, ginger and garlic to the oil, stir for a few seconds, then add the onions and salt.  Continue to saute till the onions pick up a light brown color.  The browner the onions, the more complex the chutney will be, but you do not want to crisp the onions.

3. Now add the tomatoes, almond butter and brown sugar and sauté until the tomatoes turn soft.

4.  Cool and then blend in a blender or a food process until smooth.  You may have to add a few tsp of water to get the consistency you desire.  Taste and adjust the salt and sugar.

5.  Serve as a condiment or side with rice, flat breads, roasted vegetables or chicken  or as a schmear for any sandwich.

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Notes on the Special Ingredients and their substitutions:

1.  Dried red peppers:  The main point here is the color and the flavor and not the heat.  The recipe calls for the large and rather mild Kashmiri chillies.  Here in the US, it is easy to find dried red peppers used in Mexican cooking.  I picked up a bunch at the local grocery store (they are also available at Whole Foods)- these were simply called Mexican Peppers and were pretty hot.  If you want a milder pepper, go for the dried Anaheims and discard the seeds.  Do not use the Indian, Thai or Chinese small red peppers, they will most likely kill you.

2. Dried tamarind cakes  (nearly seedless) are sold in Indian and oriental grocery stores (see image).  You have to break off a chunk of the desired size.  In this recipe you can dump the chunk directly into the skillet, but for most recipes, you soak in warm water for 15 minutes and rub the tamarind with your hands and strain it to get the pulp.  If you are feeling lazy,  you can go the tamarind concentrate route (see image of the container).  I also see cans of tamarind juice sold in the Mexican section of grocery stores, this work just as well and are probably the best option if available.

3.  Jaggery is unrefined sugar sold in lumps at the Indian grocery store.  Brown sugar is a fine substitute.

4.  I used almond butter instead of the 4 options the original recipe provided.  I think the point here is a mellow richness and smoothness to a chutney that can have a very dramatic flavor profile.  So I figured that almond butter is a fine substitute for whole cashews or peanuts since they do become butter-ish once they are blended anyway.

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