Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash in Indian Spices

The long days and warm nights of summer always seem to drift away too quickly for my liking. But happily, fall's vibrant foliage, crisp air and long cozy nights come to the rescue before we have a chance to miss summer too much. While I love summer dearly, my tastebuds definitely crave the richness and comfort of the foods during fall the most.

Among the ubiquitous "pumpkin-spice" e v e r y t h i n g, the versatile butternut squash shouldn't be forgotten! I've used this delicious squash in soups, in Thanksgiving stuffing and in the past few years I have made a tasty and simple Indian version in the Kadhai or Cheena Chatti.  The sweetness of the butternut squash is slowly drawn out by the even caramelization you get from the thick cast iron Khadai. This well-known technique of cooking Indian vegetables is one that I've grown up watching my mother use and one I see used in the expert hands of my mother-in-law as well. The natural sweetness of the squash pairs beautifully with the mild heat of the indian spices and transforms this simple vegetable into something wonderfully complex with full depth of flavor.

Here's the recipe for Khadai Butternut Squash. (Which happens to be vegan!) I hope you have a chance to cozy up and enjoy it!

Roasted Butternut Squash in Indian Spices

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced.  (lucky for me my local supermarket has taken the work out of it for me with prepackaged peeled and diced butternut squash) :)
oil 3-4 Tablespoons
1 small onion dices
1/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds 
1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
chili powder to taste
salt to taste
amchur or dried mango powder to taste
water as needed

1. Warm up oil in a cast iron pan
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds and heat until the mustard seeds begin to sputter or pop 
3. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent and slightly browned. 
4. Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic and sauté for 1 minute taking care to not burn the garlic

5. Add the spices - 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, chili powder (to taste), salt ( to taste) 

6. Add the peeled and diced butternut squash
7. Toss the squash until evenly coated with spices 
8. Reduce the flame to low-medium and cover for 10-12 minutes checking once in between to make sure squash isn't burning. (If so add a tad bit more oil and sprinkle with water and then cover again)
9. Once the squash is soft reduce the flame to low and cook another 10 minutes allowing squash to slightly caramelize. 
10. sprinkle a dash of amchur at the very end and toss gently
11. garnish with cilantro

Warm, spicy, mildly tangy, salty, with a sweet caramelized crunch right at the end. 
Pairs perfectly with plain steamed white rice or chapati. Delish!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Balsamic Caramelized Onions

Wow! It has been way too long since my last blog post.  It really feels really good to be back at the keyboard and behind the lens! Since the arrival of our second little bean the days have flown by leaving me confused as to what time or even day it is. It has been the most wonderful kind of whirlwind, full of diapers, wipes, onesies, binkies, bottles and best of all drooly, toothless kisses!

Now that the baby is getting a little bit older and her big brother can keep her entertained, I can squeeze in a few moments to get back to the other things I love like cooking, eating (mostly eating), entertaining and taking pictures!

Just recently we had a great group of our friends along with their amazing kids over for a fun dinner party. As the kids had fun making their very own mini pizzas the adults munched on one of my favorite appetizers: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Crostinis. I really love how easily a few simple ingredients can transform an everyday onion into something both rustic and elegant.

I ended up having quite a bit left over of the caramelized onions I had made for appetizers. Caramelized onions are so versatile and so delicious there was no way I was going to toss them.  My husband happens to be a pro with cooking meat and grilled up beautiful pan roasted chicken breasts for dinner the night before also.

The next day I hadn't even thought about making lunch for myself when my stomach hit empty. I opened the fridge for a little inspiration half hoping that something would just magically appear if I stared long enough. Then, it hit me! What could be easier than topping those juicy chicken breasts with a bit of the caramelized onions for a quick lunch !? Uhm. Amazing.

Fast forward to the next day after that. Same story. The morning had flown by and I was making lunch for my son when that familiar grumbling started in my own belly. What do I do? I didn't want chicken again. As I blankly looked onto the grilled cheese sandwich I was making for my son, inspiration struck! I decided to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich as well but mine would be filled with delicious caramelized onions! The first bite (and each bite after) of gooey cheese and sweet onions was heaven!

Now after dinner I can't wait for leftovers!

Juicy Chicken Breasts with Caramelized Onions that almost melt in your mouth!

Gooey cheese and caramelized onion goodness!

Balsamic Caramelized Onions

2 Red Onions
3 Tablespoons of Butter or Oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1 TeaspoonAged Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Sugar

1. Thinly slice the red onions 
2. Melt butter in a heavy bottom pan 
3. Add Onions and saute on low heat until translucent
4. Sprinkle the sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar 
5. Cook until above ingredients have reduced and onions have a deep brown hue
6. Put this on (almost) everything!