Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “Cheese”

When Roasted Veggies Are The Way To Go

I love simple food. It’s a life saver when you’re back from a 30-hour jet-lagged journey and exhausted. Recipes which call for a zillion ingredients and a lot of time, I don’t really have the patience for. So, when I opened the fridge to find two aubergines and tomatoes staring at me, shouting ‘eat me, eat me’, I just couldn’t help myself.
It’s November when the weather is neither hot or cold — just the perfect balance. A time you need comforting food for the troubled soul.
Out came the roasting pan and on the stove went a pot of salted water. In 30 minutes I was hungrily digging into a plate of roasted vegetables with Penne, topped with grated cheese all gorgeous and oozing with flavour.

Roasted Vegetables with Penne

Penne (handful)
2 tomatoes (chopped roughly)
2 aubergines (chopped roughly)
4-5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs dried chilly flakes
Pinch of salt and sugar
Grated cheese (for garnishing)

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degree C.

Cook the Penne as per packet instructions in salted water.

In a roasting dish, put all the ingredients and toss so everything is coated with the oil. Cover with foil and pop into the over for 25 minutes.

By the time the vegetables are roasted, the pasta would have cooked. Keep aside a bit of the starchy water.

Mix the Penne with the vegetables. Add the water if there’s not enough sauce to coat everything.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve hot!

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

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The left over bake

I realised on Sunday that it’s been a while since I’ve written about what I’ve been cooking! Yes I’ve posted about the new things I’ve eaten but having cooked something new, no. Everyone has a grocery day and mine happens to be Saturdays. On Saturdays I go to the weekly vegetable market, where farmers set up little stalls filled to the brim with delicious and fresh veggies. However, thanks to pending deadlines I was unable purchase my weekly goods.

So Sunday morning, tummy rumbling, I opened the fridge to find some tomatoes, two bell peppers, two cucumbers and an eggplant. This is what happens when you forgo your weekly visit to the vegetable market! The only thing left to do was create something exciting (it’s Sunday after all). And thus my ‘left over bake’ is exactly what it sounds like. An attempt to finish off remaining vegetables but create something delicious at the same time.

Ingredients

100g pasta (I used macaroni)
2 bell peppers (I used one red and one yellow, diced)
1 tomato (diced)
1 onion (chopped fine)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
1 tsp chilly flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbp olive oil
2-3 cheese slices (I only had the processed kind)

Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and chilly flakes first. Add the onions and bell peppers. Stir for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato, tomato sauce and oregano. Stir till about cooked through. Season according to taste. Keep aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Cook the macaroni till al dente in a pan of boiling salted water. (You can do this while preheating the oven)

In a baking dish mix the cooked vegetables and macaroni together. Layer the top with the cheese slices and bake for 15 minutes. (To get a crunchy cheese layer, change the oven nob to top heat for the last 5 minutes).

Serve with a side salad or garlic bread.

Just out of the oven... hot hot hot!

Just out of the oven… hot hot hot!

Just perfect with a glass of white!

Just perfect with a glass of white!

All for the love of pasta

There’s something about Italian cuisine which has gotten the world hooked on to it. Pasta is a regular dinner feature on every family menu while thanks to home delivery, pizza and its many versions have become party/game food. I mean have you watched any match at your home with crazy friends without beer and pizza? (Surprisingly I found more Italian restaurants in Paris than French!) Italian cuisine has a wide variety of foods of course, but you’ll come across pasta and pizza anywhere in the world.

Like every other family, I love pasta. Many a night after work I’m thankful to the Italians for having invented this delicious time saver. Boil water, put pasta in, cook and drain. Easy four steps with a sauce and some grated cheese! Takes me less than 15 minutes I swear!

I’m digressing again. I keep pasta in all forms and shapes. Macaroni, Fettuccine, Spaghetti, Penne, Linguine, Fusilli… Come and check out my pasta cupboard! In fact in a flea market in Florence, I kinda went nuts staring at the variety of pastas rather than buying jackets or shoes!

Anyway, when I have some time I prefer to make pasta with a lot of love and care instead like the ones during late night hunger pangs. Recently I made spaghetti using button mushrooms with cheese sauce and a side of apple salad. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

Spaghetti with mushrooms and cheese sauce

Ingredients

Half packet spaghetti (for 2)
Handful button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
Half teaspoon chilli flakes (use the packets you get during pizza delivery)
500ml milk
1 tbp regular flour
Knob of butter
1 cube cheese (grated. I used regular processed but feel free)
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg (grated, according to taste)
Parsley to garnish

For the salad

1 small apple (diced)
1 small cucumber (diced)
Handful of crushed pistachios
1 tbs mustard
1 tbs vinegar

Method

Boil the spaghetti as per instructions on the packets and when done, drain and keep aside.

In a pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat the onions first. Once translucent, add the garlic and chilli flakes. Then put in the mushrooms and let them cook through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be a little patient.

For the cheese sauce, start with the roux. Heat butter and flour in a pan until the mixture has browned. Add the milk while continuously stirring. Make sure no lumps form. When a thick bechamel sauce is made, grate in the nutmeg and add the cheese. Your cheese sauce is ready. Finally, mix the now cooked mushrooms to the sauce. Then, to make life simpler, add the spaghetti to the sauce. Coat well and garnish with parsley.

The salad takes five minutes to make. Add the diced apples, cucumber and pistachios in a bowl. Then for the dressing, mix the mustard and vinegar well and drizzle over the salad.

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There you have it, lunch is ready in a matter of 30 minutes or so! And it’s a great recipe for vegetarians!

The Carbonara conflict

I love a good Carbonara. Which is really weird because I despise runny yolks. I cannot, simply cannot stand eggs sunny-side up or a soft boiled egg on a Nicoise salad because the yolk runs and coats everything on the plate. But a good Carbonara is always an exception to the rule.

Carbonara’s heritage is really concocted. All agree that the dish originated in Rome; the how, however, has various versions. Some believe it was during WWII when American GIs took their ration of ham and eggs to Roman cooks to be made into a meal. Another theory is that this dish was a favourite among the Carbonaro (charcoal burners) and later gained popularity among the masses. Origins aside, the dish came into prominence post 1945 and has gained a tremendous fan following world wide.

When I visit an Italian restaurant for the first time, I always order their version of the simple yet tasty dish of pasta, eggs, cheese, black pepper and pancetta (some recipes advertise cream or creme fraiche). Based on how good it is, (and of course the portion size) I decide whether to go back or not. 

The Colony Bistro

I recently visited this bistro with my sister. We both love Italian food and when I found out that they had received a bar license, well, you can’t really stop a determined person can you. It’s located in the Amar Colony Market in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. You can choose to walk it from the Moolchand or Kailash Colony metro station or take a rickshaw for Rs30.

The bistro can seat more than 30 people at a go and also has a cute two-seater outdoor table, perfect for the evening. The music combination is interesting with Florence and the Machines, jazz and house. The white walls and deep brown furniture gives the place a nice feel.

So far so good. The menu offers a variety of Chinese, Lebanese, Italian and north Indian so we order a plate of onion rings, a peach iced tea and a beer pint to begin with. The beer always lives up to its promise but unfortunately the rings and iced tea didn’t. The batter had no salt and was soggy while the iced tea served up a lot of ice. Then came the mains. Full marks to their portion size but the Carbonara was not the way I like it. It is good for someone who likes a cheesy white sauce engulfing their spaghetti with crispy bacon bits but not for someone who looks forward to the yolk proudly displayed on top. 

I always like a simple Carbonara. Fry the bacon and add the al dente spaghetti to the pan. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites, black pepper and a LOT of Parmesan cheese. Taking the spaghetti and bacon pan away from the heat, add the eggy mixture so it coats each strand without curdling. As the sauce thickens, add a bit of the salty pasta water to loosen the mixture. Serve with the egg yolk on top, fresh Parmesan shavings and a bit of parsley. It’s THAT simple. 

My sister ordered a creamy cheese chicken served with spaghetti which was far better and worth the money. This bistro is famous for deserts and especially the Banoffee pie. The taste was excellent but unfortunately, the base had completely melted. Thus the cream too had begun to make a mess.

Personally, I would go back a second time. Instead of the Carbonara, I would try another cuisine because I enjoyed the over all ambiance. The music was enjoyable, there was not much delay between courses and the staff were courteous. Plus, their portion size is a big draw and it’s easier on the pockets (pocket pinch for two is approximately Rs1400) than going to a place like Hauz Khas village. But I definitely would steer clear of the Italian items on the menu card.

 

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