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PEPPERS STUFFED WITH PRAWNS: HOLIDAY HORS D'OEUVRES


My neighborhood looks like Winter wonderland. We received the season's first major snow a few days back, and after all the storm, its all calm and serene. With the golden sun playing magic on the white snow, I sip my mid-day caffeine-free fix, and  type away tales of food and some more food. Yes, its the Holidays !!! The man and me are both home, till the New Year rings in ! Yay ! Just the mere thought of all the parties, all the fun, all the Yuletide cheer, has given me an extra zeal.

Speaking of parties, I am sure all of you are gearing up. So many parties to host, and so many parties to attend. Not to forget all the festive food. What strikes us first at a party are the hors d'oeuvres. For me, that is the make or break situation for a party. Just like first impression almost. A good appetizer helps the guests unwind in the best possible way, helps kick up the tempo of any party. So if the host or hostess have been cringing with the appetizers, that's a let down for me. As a hostess, what I plan the first, is what I am gonna serve as hors d'oeuvres. The Man excels in his list of hors d'oeuvres. He does not believe in repeating appetizers, for the same group of guests. So usually its always something new which the Man whips up.Are they lip smacking, or not!! The way the appetizers fly off the trays should qualify him to compete in culinary competitions popular on television(read Chopped or even Iron Chef maybe).

So for a recent party, the Man decided to make some Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Shrimp. I kept scooping spoonfuls of the stuffing, when he was not looking, as it was super tasty. Finally he had to warn me that we would have nothing to serve the guests, if I carried on like that. Cravings or no Cravings ! So I just carried on being the photographer,as he went on creating magic with the Peppers. The Man had picked up multicolored Poblano Peppers, making sure that they were nice and firm, and checking if the skin was intact through out. He is a bit particular about his ingredients, when he is in charge of the kitchen. The peppers themselves were such a lovely sight, as he laid them out on the cutting board, I could not stop but admire. The Shrimp mixture was very French, with the butter and the garlic and onions. The kitchen was insanely aromatic. Now this is a dish, which requires some patience and surely some time. One cannot hurry with this, as stuffing something like small peppers,without tearing them apart, surely needs some time.The guests at the party could not help gushing about the hors d'oeuvres,and nearly everyone was taking down the recipe from the man, even before they refilled their spirits. Now that is success !!! If you want to be the star of the party you host this holiday season, give Deb's Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Shrimp a try and see how you become the star of your own party.

So here's hoping that all of you have a Happy Holidays. Wine and Dine with family and friends, cook up a storm, eat your heart out, dance like there's no tomorrow.

Merry Christmas !!

Oh ! Don't forget the cookies and milk for Santa . He is packing his sleigh and checking his list.


STUFFED POBLANO PEPPERS WITH SHRIMP: 


Ingredients: 
Shrimp:  1 lb: Cleaned and De-veined
Onion: 1 medium: Chopped
Garlic Cloves: 5-6 large cloves: Chopped
Green Chilies: 2 :Chopped
Black Pepper: 1 tbsp
Salt: To Taste
Butter: 1/2 stick
Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
Canola Oil: : 1-2 tbsp
Poblano Peppers: 10 (The store did not have that many Poblanos, so Deb used a few Green Ancho Peppers)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese: for topping the peppers
Coriander Leaves/Cilantro: Chopped: 1/2 bunch
Green Bell Pepper: 1: Chopped

Procedure: 
Chop the shrimp into bite sized pieces. Wash the Poblano Peppers and dry them with a paper towel.

In a large non stick pan. add in the butter and the olive oil. When the butter melts, add in the chopped onions, chopped green chilies and chopped bell pepper. Fry them, till the onions start getting translucent and the bell pepper has softened. Add in the chopped garlic, fry till the garlic is aromatic, and has started to change color.


 Add in the chopped shrimp, the black pepper and the salt. Cook on medium heat, till the shrimp is cooked. Do a taste test. Dry out any of the cooking liquid. Remove from heat and keep aside.




In another non stick pan, add a dash of canola oil. Once its hot enough, add in the Poblano Peppers and fry them for around 3-4 minutes. The idea is to soften them a bit so that they become pliable, while getting stuffed. Remove from heat onto paper towels, to remove excess oil.



Once the peppers have cooked, make an incision on one side,and use a teaspoon to stuff in the shrimp mixture in the prawns. Then add in the chopped cilantro and stuff them in lightly.



Place all the stuffed papers, in a lightly greased baking dish.

Top the stuffed peppers with shredded cheddar cheese.



Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F for about half an hour.


 Serve hot !!!

Bon Appetit !!






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ASIAN STYLE PRAWNS WITH VEGGIES :

Last weekend started on a pretty early note for us. We finally managed to wake up on time, to make it to the Farmer's Market near the Missouri river. We had been planning for quite some time, but by the time we usually wake up, the Farmers would be home by then. So this weekend, we were quite pleased with ourselves, when we did not hit the snooze button on both our cell phones.

The chill of the cold winter morning could not deter us. We were armed with a  zeal to shop. Shopping bag in hand, we reached the historic River Market.

Haggling, and some more haggling followed. It was quite a loot with which we came back home that afternoon. Finally, as I was sorting through all that we had bought, I noticed that there were some Veggies, which we had picked up, which are not great favorites of ours. The lure of getting fresh produce made us pick up Green Beans in particular, which neither me nor D-Boy are too fond of. I almost stared at the green beans for a complete minute or so, in silence.

I had to think of something to do with the Green Beans in the next few days, as this is a veggie which does not stay for too long in the refrigerator.

Green Bean Casserole was ruled out, as we are not too fond of it. I was debating on Green Beans Bharta, which I found to be quite appealing on a another Blog. Apparently a Bangladeshi spin on cooking veggies. Maybe I can try it out next time. Making that Bharta meant, I would have to cook another side dish,to go
 with the rice. That was an idea which I was not too fond of. I wanted a one-pot dinner.So I decided to go the Chinese /Asian path. Some prawns were in the fridge. In went some mushrooms, some carrots, some bell peppers, a dash of soy and it was Weekday dinner. Some white rice, and we were munching away.


ASIAN STYLE PRAWNS WITH VEGGIES : 

Ingredients: 
Medium sized Prawns: 1/2 lb: De-veined and shelled
Carrots: Diced 1/2 cup
Green Beans: Diced: 1 cup
Button Mushrooms: 1/2 cup
Bell Pepper: Diced:  1/2 cup
Dark Soy Sauce: 4 tbsp
Sriracha: 1 tsp
White Vinegar: 1 tbsp
Black Pepper: 1 tbsp
Salt: To taste
Onion: 1 medium sized. Sliced finely
Large Garlic Cloves: 5: Minced
Green Chilies: 4-5: Chopped
Corn Starch: 1 tbsp
Sesame oil/Canola Oil: 4 tbsp
Chicken Stock: 1 cup

Procedure:
Ensure that all the veggies are cut in similar sizes. Blanch the carrots and green beans  for a few minutes , then shock them in cold water, to stop the cooking process. The idea is to retain the crunch of the veggies.


In a large non stick pan, add some oil and once its hot enough, add in the sliced onions.


Fry them around for a few minutes, then add the bell peppers, the minced garlic and the chopped green chilies.Fry them for another couple of minutes, till the garlic has started to change color.



Add in the veggies and mix everything well. Stir fry on high heat.



Add in the prawns and mix well.


Season with salt and pepper.



Add in the sauces, vinegar and the chicken stock. Let it simmer till the prawns are cooked.


Once the prawns are cooked, dissolve the corn starch in some water, and add to the pan. Stir it, till the gravy gets velvety and thick. Turn off the heat.


Serve with hot steamed rice.



Bon Appetit !!!


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MURI GHONTO: Fish head cooked with spicy rice


"Muri Ghonto," screams weekend decadence. Which Bong, worth her/his salt, would not love to dig into Muri Ghonto on a Saturday afternoon, with some gorom bhaat. It becomes the first course, the second course, or even the third course, for those of us who swear by this heady fish dish. I love love love Muri Ghonto, especially from Momma's kitchen. I must add that no one, literally no one makes Muri Ghonto like my Momma. Oh ! Calcutta and Bhojohori Manna can take a backseat please. I am so particular about her signature recipe, that even after all these years of cooking, I still refer to her original recipe, once, before I even start the prep work.Its like Bible.

Bongs love their quota of fish, and every bit of their fish. I might not be true blue Bong in terms of my knowledge of Rabnidra Sangeet or Bangla Sahitya(Bengali Literature), but I am a true blue bong, for my love of Fish. I am primarily a non veg eater, and Fish is surely my first love. I still remember how I made sure that a deep fried Machher Muro( Fish Head ) was a part of my Bridal Shower lunch, and that Mom had not missed it, amidst all the craziness going on at the last hour.So a dish made with spicy rice and a large fish head, has to be one of my all time favorites.

Well, yes, there are a few variations in which this quintessential Bong delicacy is whipped up, and I am sure every family swears by their concoction. My mom makes it with Gobindo Bhog Chaal (a fragrant short grained rice) . Varaitions include cooking with Chire(Poha/Flattened Rice) or even Moog Daal(Mung Beans). I have to resort to the Basmati Rice, as I do not have the luxury of getting a supply of Gobindo Bhog Rice. Muri refers to Muro or Fish Head. And Ghonto refers to a style of Bong cooking.  Usually the Head of a Rohu Fish( a biggish fresh water fish) is the ideal choice for the Muri Ghonto. Its often said that the larger the Rohu fish, the tastier the resulting dish is. Well, its definitely not a dish for the squeamish, as a love for the Fish head is a pre-condition. I have had Fish head dishes from quite a few Asian cuisines,and even an Italian soup, which had a serving of Fish Head, but nothing comes close to this spicy and heady Bong delicacy. So go ahead and cook up a storm this weekend !!




MURI GHONTO: 
Fish head cooked with spicy rice : 



Ingredients: 

Rohu Fish Head: 1: Cut into 4 pieces
Turmeric: 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Mustard Oil: 4-5 tbsp
Cumin Powder: 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp
Potato: 1 large: Cubed
Basmati Rice: 1/2 cup
Bay Leaves: 3
Cloves: 2
Cinnamon Stick: 1/2 inch
Green Cardamom: 4
Ginger-garlic-onion paste: 1 1/2 tbsp

Procedure: 

Coat the fish head with salt and turmeric. Heat oil in a non stick pan, and shallow fry the fish head. When the fish head is half fried, use the stirring spoon, and break the fish head into pieces. Fry using a splutter guard. Keep the fried fish head pieces aside. 




 In another non stick deep bottom pan, add mustard oil, and add the whole garam masala and the bay leaves. Once they get aromatic, add the onion-ginger-garlic paste and fry it around for a few minutes. Once the masala starts to change color, then add the dry spices and mix well, and fry for a minute or so. Make sure that the dry spices don't get burnt, add a few splashes of water if needed. 




 Add in the fried fish head pieces and the rice and mix everything well. Fry this mixture for around a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. 



 Add in the diced potatoes and enough hot water to dunk it all. Mix everything well. Add salt to taste. Cook covered, till the rice and potatoes have cooked and the water has been absorbed by the rice. Keep stirring frequently.



 Check for seasonings. Cook uncovered if you feel that there's too much moisture. 

Serve hot with steamed rice !! 

Bon Appetit !!! 

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Grilled Pomfret for a weeknight !!!


Mention Grilled Fish to me, and its Pomfret which always comes to my mind. The Amreekan or the quintessential continental version of Grilled Fish still has to fight many battles of loyalty to me, to de-throne the seemingly simple Grilled Pomfret. I have grown up loving this delicacy, courtesy my Mommy's Mumbaiya roots. The way one can pack in a heavy punch with this Fishy Delight, is beyond comparison. A few drops of lemon juice on the freshly grilled fish, and some salad for crunch, by the side, and any weekday dinner will start to look up.

Who doesn't like an easy weekday dinner? That's something we always look forward to. And if we can manage to do the prep work a little bit in advance, then it becomes even easier. These days I am on the look out for dishes I can cook, where the cooking time is minimised. Maybe its a lazy streak, maybe not. But I am impressed when I can  leave the kitchen faster and settle down on my comfy couch, with a cup of hot tea.

We had picked up two packets of Pomfret a few days back. While Hubby wanted a Pomfret gravy at first, my mind was more towards Grilled Fish. So after thawing a packet of fish, I divided the contents for two dinners. The first day was the Fish for the Gravy(which is also my Mommy's recipe and not MIL's not so tasty take). I scored a few whole Pomfrets(well, they were not too big), on both sides. In a shallow box I made a simple marinade and let the fishes soak in for a day. I had always seen Momma soak the fishes in a vinegar based marinade for a few hours before she whipped up a batch of grilled fish. She always said, that it helped to firm up the fish, and that it would not break during grilling. So I grabbed some white vinegar, some ginger-garlic-onion paste, green chili paste, lemon rind,paprika and mixed them well together for the marinade. I slathered the marinade on both sides of the fish and even stuffed some in the cavities. Refrigerated the marinated fish in an airtight container for a day. I seasoned the fish, just before it went on to the grill.

The next evening, the job was much easier. Made the man crank up the small grill and grill away. Boys love to grill, and one should give them a few days or nights at it,to keep them smiling !

Its the simplicity of the marinade which shone through dinner that night. We had wolfed down our fishes in no time, without even exchanging words. It was that good, that it made even a talkative couple like us, super quiet, at dinner.

GRILLED POMFRET: 

Ingredients: 
Cleaned and whole Pomfret: 2
Onion-ginger-garlic paste(or grated): 5-6 tbsp
Paprika: 1 tsp
Green Chili Paste: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Lemon Rind: 1 tsp
White Vinegar: 1 1/2 tbsp
Canola Oil/ Non Stick cooking spray: For Grilling

Procedure: 

Clean the fish and score them horizontally on both sides. I made three scores on each side so that the marinade soaks in better.

Make a marinade of onion-ginger-garlic paste, green chili paste, lemon rind, paprika and white vinegar and mix well. Slather the marinade on both sides of the fish and even fill in the cavities with some marinade. Let it soak in the juices overnight, in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you are running short of time, then marinate for an hour at least, after the fish has been thawed.

Crank up the grill and spray some non stick cooking spray. Season the fishes well, and then grill them uniformly on both sides.



Dig into Grilled Pomfret  goodness !!

Bon Appetit !!







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MALAI TIKKA: Thanksgiving Special by the Man !!

Thanksgiving is all about feasting and bonding over feasting. Now, who doesn't like that.Its loads of work for the host/hostess, but a great occasion to all those get to just eat and eat and eat some more. As our Anniversary, coincides around this long weekend, we are usually vacationing at this time of the year. Puerto Rico, Mexico and even India have seen us at this time of the year. We make sure, we abide by the norms, We eat and we eat a lot. So this year, when we were not travelling, we decided to dine in at home. But no mundane dishes for us. We were too late, in planning all this, so there was no time for a big ole Turkey dinner(or lunch). Moreover it also did not make sense, to cook such a large bird for just the two of us. Friends and Family who are always in town this time of the year(read when we are away), were all out of town this year. Irony !! So we thought, lets stick to the theme of the bird, and cook up something closer home: Chicken, and by chicken, did I not mention KEBABS !! 



Why Kebabs? Well, there's another reason for it. We have a neighborhood Kebab joint, which serves a pretty decent Kebab platter. We had been planning on a Kebab dinner for a few weeks, and on almost  three occasions, when we even landed up there, we found that they had closed early. Either the joint is about to shut shop, or we were just being plain unlucky. SO my Kebab cravings were almost driving the man crazy. No wonder he suggested, that he would cook up a batch of MALAI TIKKA for Thanksgiving Dinner. I always love Kebabs when its cold and frosty. And when I do not have to do any of the prep work, or the grilling myself, then I love Kebabs a bit more. All I had to do was to kick back and relax through out the day, while the man prep and primed lunch and dinner. Ahh, the pleasure of a long weekend with a man who loves to cook !!

 The man had taken pains in all the prep work. Chicken breasts had been cubed uniformly, and marinated a day in advance. I know its a common practice, to use any kind of Cheese in the Malai Tikka, but the man had stick to his own concoction. Yogurt, heavy Cream, lemon juice, Cayenne Pepper, salt and not to forget Kasoori Methi, along with the grated onion-ginger-garlic. Poultry is always better, when it gets a chance to soak up flavors, as its such a flavorless meat typically. So the hours of marination did their trick. The result was obvious with the heady aroma from the kitchen , when the meat, hit the grill. The sizzle of the grill made me even hungrier.I kept hovering around, on the pretext of taking a few shots,and sampling my way through the first batch of Kebabs.Quality Control, I assured him, as he smiled one of his signature smiles. Aah, that smile, which stole my heart, when I was all of 16 !!!


MALAI TIKKA: 

Ingredients: 
Chicken Breast: 1 lb: Cubed into 2-3 inch pieces

Marinade: 
Yogurt: 1 cup
Heavy Cream: 1/2 cup
Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp
Black Pepper: 1 tsp
Salt: To taste
Cayenne Pepper: 1 1/2 tsp
Onion-ginger-garlic paste: 4-5 tbsp
Kasoori Methi: 1tbsp
Coriander Powder: 1 tbsp

For Grilling:
Canola Oil/ Cooking Spray:
Butter

Bamboo Skewers: 8-10
Red Onion: 1 medium sized : Cut into thick slivers:

Procedure: 

Marinate the cubed chicken pieces for at least 3-4 hours, in a covered bowl, in the refrigerator. It best if its done a day in advance.



Soak bamboo skewers in water for an hour, so that they do not get burnt once they hit the grill.


Crank up the grill.

Skewer the meat, making sure that you leave a couple of inches free at the top and bottom, so that they can be turned.

Spray the grill with some non stick cooking spray, and grill the kebabs in batches. Make sure that the grill is not over crowded.


 Make sure to baste the kebabs with the marinade, so that they don't get dry.


Turn the skewers so that they get uniformly cooked on both sides.



Remove the kebabs on a large platter and add dollops of butter, which would instantly melt into the poultry, infusing goodness.

Grill the onion slivers till they turn translucent but are still crunchy. Keep aside.

Let the Kebabs rest for around 5-7 minutes, before you start digging in.

Serve with hot rotis/naan/pita and the grilled onions.  If you are not much of a red onion fan, then you could also serve the kebabs with a cucumber salad.


Bon Appetit !!!






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