Cafe de Olla, Iced

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I usually blog two weeks a month as part of the Blogging Marathon event. But last month was a little more hectic than I thought it would be, so I couldn’t publish the posts though I was ready with the recipes and clicks. So the recipe is seeing the world a month later than it’s supposed to be, but let’s be happy that it’s here now. 

The recipe here – a simple Mexican coffee recipe, is flavored with orange peel and cinnamon. The sweetness comes from panela, an unrefined whole cane sugar. I didn’t have it, so I used brown sugar which is a good substitute. 

I served it as iced coffee as it was a hot day. I liked that version a lot. Read on for the recipe. 

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Book : Travel, Surf, Cook by Salt and Silver

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • peel from half an orange
  • 1/4 cup ground coffee
  • ice cubes
  • milk as needed

Method:

  1. In a big pot, add four cups of water along with sugar,cinnamon stick, cloves and orange peel. Bring it to a simmer.
  2. Add the ground coffee and bring to a boil. Take off the heat. 
  3. Filter the coffee into four glasses and enjoy your drink. For the iced version, fill a glass with ice cubes. Add the filtered coffee and milk as you need. Enjoy it chilled!

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Mixed Berry Smoothie

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For most part, its the parents who introduce new foods and palates to kids. But when it came to smoothie bowls, the role kind of reversed at my house. It was the kid who got us hooked onto this trend. Almost every night, he prefers a fruit smoothie in a bowl topped with a bunch of fruits and treats for dinner. After a few days, my husband also joined the kid. So every now and then, smoothie bowl is the dinner for the whole family. I like it a lot because its a no effort meal and its healthy.

There is no fixed recipe that I follow for this one. Bananas along with flavored yogurt make this really easy. It really fills you up and you are not hungry ten minutes after your meal! But its not banana all the time, its mostly a mix of whatever fruits we have in the fridge at that point of time. Sometimes I add oats to give it some body. I started using flavored yogurt instead of milk initially to finish off the tiny yogurt containers that were slowly taking over most of my fridge space! But now I feel yogurt is a better choice since it fills you up really well. Plus the flavor factor is better, of course.

I still have a lot more smoothie bowl recipes in my drafts, but I have no idea when I will get around posting those! But right now, lets enjoy this mixed berry bowl that is being served here today.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • 1 cup milk or flavored yogurt
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • honey to flavor
  • Your choice of toppings

Method:

  1. Thaw the berries. Blend along with milk/yogurt, banana and honey.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice. Here I have used chocolate chips, granola, strawberries and sliced kiwi.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Asparagus soup

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe:  Asparagus Soup

My refrigerator is almost always low in essentials. As I am typing this post, all I have in the vegetable trays are tomatoes (tons of it, thankfully) and some broccoli. But as long as I have tomatoes and onions, I don’t go into panic mode. Because there is tons of Indian dishes you can make based on these two humble vegetables.

But no such easy way out when you are trying other cuisines. So I was pretty lucky that I had asparagus stocked up because that’s was my choice for my last Swedish recipe. Asparagus soup. I tried this recipe from the book The Scandinavian Kitchen. The soup is easy to prepare and tasted good. The author Camilla Plum explains that Asparagus has always been an expensive treat and the green asparagus is relatively a recent addition to the kitchens there.

Read for the recipe.

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You would need:

  • One medium onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • a handful of parsley
  • water or stock as needed
  • 3/4 cup milk or cream
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar

Slice one medium onion, two stalks of celery and a bunch of asparagus. Discarded the white bottom part as it would be too fibrous. Save the tips for later. Add all this to a thick bottom pan.

Slice the middle portion (after you discard the bottom 1″ and save the tips) into small pieces and add it to the pan with 4 cloves of garlic, salt, parsley, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Add enough water or stock to cover the vegetables. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked completely.

Let the soup cook completely. Puree it and pass it through a sieve to remove any fibrous part. Bring it back to a boil, adding 3/4 cup of milk or cream and the saved asparagus tips. Adjust seasonings and serve.

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Artsoppa- Pea soup

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe: Artsoppa – Swedish pea soup

I find it easier to select when my choices are few in number. When its a vast ocean of choices, I always feel lost. So when it came to this week’s Swedish theme, I picked my recipes from the library books. Since the vegetarian choices are pretty limited when it comes to Swedish cuisine, it actually made my job a lot easier :D.

All I did was to compare the two books I had and look for common recipes. This pea soup was there in both the books, though both had different takes on it. This soup usually has meat on it, but I skipped it my take of the recipe. I read it in Wikipedia that this soup is traditionally served on Thursdays along with pancakes for dessert.

So read on for this recipe that is adapted from Niklas Ekstedt’s book Scandinavian Classics.

1ärtsoppa pea soup

For 6-8 servings, soak 2 cups of split or whole peas overnight. Dried yellow or green peas would do. The next day, add 2 liters(8 cups) of water or stock, one sliced onion and 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and oregano and cook until the peas are completely soft.

I did this on my Instant pot. About 20 minutes in Manual mode. Once the pressure releases naturally, season with salt and pepper and serve. I sprinkled some dried nuts, seeds and fruit mix on top for some crunch.

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Sahlab – Milk pudding

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BM # 74: Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Are you pudding me?
Recipe: Sahlab / Milk pudding

Its rare that I get so attached to a book, but the book Puddin’ has had that affect on me. I have tried about 3-4 recipes from that book and not a dud so far. The bad part is that I didn’t click pictures of those, but they were delicious nonetheless. What I like is the ease of preparation, especially when it comes to a crowd. Ten minutes, maybe fifteen and you are done!

The negative side of that book is that it uses whole milk and cream. A.lot. For someone who is trying really hard to stop expanding in size and trying harder to shrink a little bit, that’s not the right book. So for this theme, I wandered into the world of internet looking for “waist friendly” puddings. That’s how I came across this recipe.

Sahlab is a popular Middle Eastern drink. It is a silky smooth milk pudding made with a ready made mix called Salep which contains root of a special orchid. I used corn flour, which is the recommended substitute if you can’t find Salep. This pudding is extremely simple to prepare and tastes nice on a cold winter day. Do give it a try!

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Recipe source:

Serves 3 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour or sahlab powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or per taste
  • Cinnamon/ nutmeg/chopped nuts/coconut flakes for sprinkling on top

Method:

  1. Heat milk with sugar and corn flour whisking continuously until the milk starts to thicken. It took about 8-10 minutes for me.
  2. Pour onto a cup, sprinkle nutmeg and chopped nuts on top and drink cold or hot.

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Lentil bulgur kofte

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Its shameful admitting that your pantry supplies are low to the world multiple times. But unfortunately, that has happened too many times with me. So now I accept it as a fact in my kitchen and move on. But moving on meant some real big changes to the recipe here.

I started with the Turkish recipe for red lentil kofte made with Bulgur, my second ingredient from Pavani. To begin with I didn’t have masoor dal, but I had whole masoor dal. So that seemed a reasonable comprise, though it meant the beautiful orange color had to be sacrificed. Second and more importantly, I didn’t have parsley or coriander which are really important to the recipe. Thirdly, spring onions had to go cause I had none. And then, there wasn’t any lettuce leaves to serve them on.

My solution was a simple one. Make substitutions and omissions, enjoy the result but don’t claim that its the original in anyway. So here I am, a recipe inspired from Mercimek  Koftesi, but with many many changes to call by its original name. It was really tasty, so despite the adjustments, I really loved it. Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe adapted from: My Cooking Journey

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils, I used whole masoor)
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, pureed or 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika/chili powder
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped ( I didn’t have any)
  • 4 spring onions, chopped (I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Soak the dal the night before, this step is optional.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the chopped onions until they turn pink. Add the spices, seasoning and tomato paste/pureed tomato. Let it cook until the raw smell goes off.
  3. Add dal with two cups of water and let the dal cook until its done. There should be a little water left in the dal mix for the bulgur to cook. Wash bulgur, let it drain and add it to the onion-dal mix. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 20-30 minute to let the bulgur cook. You have to use fine bulgur here, so its a good idea to pulse in a blender if you have coarse bulgur.
  4. After 20-30 minutes, the mixture would have absorbed all the water. Its time to add the chopped parsley or coriander leaves and spring onions along with lemon juice. Taste test and adjust seasonings. When the mix is cool enough to handle, take about 2 tablespoon and shape it into a kofta. Serve on lettuce leaves. I added sriracha for me and my husband and served the plain ones to my son.

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Peanut butter smoothie

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BM # 72; Week 4, Day 1
Theme : So many smoothies, so little time
Dish: Mango smoothie bowl

While me and my son like smoothies in a bowl, my husband likes it direct from a glass.The man likes it fuss free, but I love to fuss over it and ‘dress it up’. Anytime I am serving him smoothies, I pour it straight out of a blender to a cup or glass. Its easier for him to keep sipping while working or taking a call.

One of our most repeated smoothies is the basic peanut butter banana smoothie. I almost always add some source of chocolate as well, some cocoa powder, hot cocoa packet or nutella. But today I didn’t…today I took it back to the basics.

Smoothies are filling by themselves but after about an hour or so, my stomach starts crying for food again. That hunger pang stopped when I started adding some peanut butter  also to it. A tablespoon or two can go a long way to keeping the hunger in check till lunch. The calories maybe higher, but hey..it stops you from reaching out for that packet of cookies.

So here is a simple smoothie which can be modified in so many ways to fit your mood and your pantry contents.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • honey as needed
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup milk

Method:

  1. Blend everything together. Pour into a glass or bowl. Use toppings of your choice. I added some granola, banana slices and strawberry.

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Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

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BM # 72; Week 4, Day 2
Theme : So many smoothies, so little time
Dish: Kiwi Strawberry smoothie bowl
There is a farmer’s market nearby our place where you get really good fruits and vegetables at really reasonable prices. I don’t go there often, but whenever I go, I always pick up kiwis from there. And pears. And oranges. And apples. Grapes too. Strawberries are a given. Oh well…you get the picture.

My fridge would be overflowing for many days after my trip. My son, who is fine with fruits in general, is not a fan of kiwi or pears. Now, kiwis are sold a dollar for 5 pieces at that place. How can I resist buying it?! So I buy a big bunch of it and then make smoothies to erase the evidence of the forbidden fruits. I have always felt that pear lends a wonderful flavor to smoothies. I am a fan of fruits, so I might be biased.

So here is what went into the smoothie today, kiwis, pears, strawberries and bananas. I spared the apples and oranges and grapes this time. Read on for the recipe, which is more of a guide than a fixed recipe.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pear, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 8-10 strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped
  • honey to taste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or milk to blend
  • Toppings of your choice
Method:
  1. Wash and clean all the fruits. Peel and cut them into smaller pieces. Reserve 2 strawberries and a small portion each from kiwi and banana. Blend the rest with milk or yogurt, adding honey per your taste.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate from the pieces set aside before blending.
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Mango smoothie bowl

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BM # 72; Week 4, Day 1
Theme : So many smoothies, so little time
Dish: Mango smoothie bowl

If smoothies were the rage a while back, smoothie bowls are the rage now. The minute I saw smoothie bowls, I stopped pouring smoothies into glasses. Why? Because smoothies are thick and I don’t like having to suck them in through a straw. Its almost like my mouth and cheeks are getting a work out to get that smoothie from the glass to my throat!

I hate it even more drinking directly from the glass. The same reason again, smoothies are thick. You drink it one small sip at a time and an entire morning passes by the time the you work your way through a big glass. So when I saw this brilliant pictures of serving smoothies in a bowl with some beautiful toppings, I was smitten. Smitten bad.

It also makes it easy with my kid. He has a heavy traditional Indian meal when he comes home from school. In other words, I feed him a heavy dinner at 4:30 PM. So a couple of hours later, when he is hungry, but not too hungry, I give him a salad or a smoothie bowl. Like this one here. Since its made of ready made mango puree served with a good dose of chocolate chips, I can’t tell you that its exactly healthy. But I can tell you this…it sure was tasty. Oh, yeah!

Read on for this simple recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup ready made mango puree
  • 1 cup ready made flavored yogurt
  • milk/ water to bring it to the right consistency
  • Toppings of your choice.

Method:

  1. Blend the puree with yogurt. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add some milk or water as needed and blend again.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice. Here it is clementines, chocolate chips, chia seeds, canned cherries, cashews.

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Zucchini carrot soup

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I chanced upon this book The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right at the library and I decided to buy the book pretty soon after. The main reason for the purchase was the options which the book gives for making your own salad and soup. There is a section, ‘Create your own soup(or salad) combos’ in the book which had me hooked.

The author has divided the soup as a combination of herbs, meat, vegetables, starch and other flavorings. She lists out 10-12 items under each of these. So you can pick 1 or 2 herbs from the list, pick couple of veggies so that it adds up to 1 pound (1/2 kg), 1 or 2 starches  like black beans, rice or pasta and then flavor it the way you want. Its very similar to the ‘build your own’ salad my friend Swapna taught me to make, so that’s another reason I like the book :-).

True, I haven’t tried a lot of dishes from this book, but I have repeated the couple of recipes many times. So read for this version of Mexican Chicken and Black Bean soup,made in Instant Pot.

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Recipe adapted from: The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into circles
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans or rajma
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart/liter vegetable broth (I used water)
  • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes (or 5-6 tomatoes, pulsed in the mixer)
  • 2 handfuls of coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. I used the electric pressure cooker here (Instant pot). Saute the onions and once it changes color, add the chillli powder, salt and oregano. Saute for a few moments, then add carrots and zucchini.
  2. Saute that for a couple of minutes and add everything else except the lemon juice.
  3. Cook in soup mode for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally and add the lemon juice, if preferred and serve hot.

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This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.