Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pure & Simple Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

As a bookseller, it can be a bit disconcerting when someone tells me that a relative has published a book.  Last week, I heard that my teammate's mother had written a cookbook, so with some trepidation, I looked it up: Pure & Simple Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine by Vidhu Mittal.  Lo and behold, not only was it on the shelf in our cookbook section, it was mouthwateringly beautiful! Several pages at the beginning are comprised  of a glossary of spices, vegetables, legumes, and kitchen tools that are used in the book, each entry accompanied by a photo and a brief description. With multiple color photos of each recipe, this is the kind of cookbook that makes me hungry. By 10am I'd shown it to several coworkers, and I wanted to take the rest of the day off to go home and cook an Indian feast! 

Aloo Paratha

On Friday afternoon, after several hours of pie and cookie baking, I realized that James would soon be home from work with our friend Johnny in tow.  I'd mentioned that we should try something from the new cookbook, so I started trolling for recipes that looked quick & easy.  I settled on Aloo Paratha (Indian Bread Stuffed with Potatoes) and Sabz Pulao (Mixed Vegetable Pilaf).  The boys arrived around 6:30, and Johnny and I made a foray to the grocery store for ingredients.

Sabz Pulao
There weren't too many vegetables to chop, so prep time was minimal.  We put some potatoes on to boil for the flatbread and set the rice in a pot to soak.  I chopped cauliflower, cilantro, green chiles, and potatoes while Johnny mixed the dough for the bread.  When the potatoes were ready for mashing, the bread dough had finished resting and the rice had soaked long enough.  We assembled the pilaf ingredients quickly in a skillet, and left it to simmer until the rice & potatoes were cooked through.  This turned out to be just the right amount of time to cook the flatbreads - I rolled them out while Johnny cooked them one at a time.  While the process might seem intimidating, it's really quite simple. The dough is much more forgiving than others I've used.

Our total time in the kitchen came in around an hour.  I even had enough leftover pilaf & potatoes to make a tasty scramble with a few eggs the next morning.  I will definitely try more recipes from this lovely book!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wacky Cake

This recipe has been around much longer than I have.  My mother got it from Jane Edwards, our neighbor across the street in Wilton, Maine.  Jane was born in 1900, and she was also my first babysitter.  So who knows who old this recipe might be?  All I know is that it's always been one of my favorites.  It requires only a measuring cups & spoons, something to stir with, and an 8" square baking pan.  It's quick, tasty, cheap, simple, and vegan! 

Wacky Cake

1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 Tablespoons melted shortening or flavorless vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
 powdered sugar for dusting

1.Preheat oven to 350

2.Mix dry ingredients in an 8” square baking pan. 

3.Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

4.Bake 40 minutes.

5.Cool in pan on wire rack.

6.Dust with sifted powdered sugar.