Thursday, February 16, 2012

tilapia with vegetables

(this was really written on January 27th but I never got around to publishing it)

Ta-da! Look who's back.
Sorry for being MIA. I just can't seem to stay committed to anything, I'm so all over the place.
Quick update: We've moved to a new apartment and it's exciting because I'm sort of trying to do up the place but it's going slow, what with Newbah and college etc.

I cooked something today while the baby was sleeping and actually managed to take pictures! Wasn't sure how it would turn out but I just served me some lunch and, Yum.

Here's how it goes, before I forget:

Oil, I used Olive.
Tilapia, 2 fillets, quartered
1 small onion, chopped
Ginger/garlic paste - 1 to 2 teaspoons, depending on how much you like. I think I put a little more than one.
Red chili powder to taste. I didn't want to make it too spicy in case I wanted Newbah to have a taste (that didn't happen), so I put a little less than a teaspoon.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
Salt to taste - I still can't figure it out with this sea salt business. I need to go buy some regular salt.
Half a tomato, because that's all I had, but I would definitely put more next time. Diced.
Two really skinny carrots, sliced into little rounds. I feel like the carrots shrank since I bought them. Shrank is a word?
3 mini sweet peppers, sliced. You must use only three, one of each color; no more and no less, else everything will be ruined.
About half a cup of french cut green beans, I used the frozen kind.
Black pepper and dried basil, just for sprinkling
Cilantro; obviously, the more the better.

(Scramble with Friends is distracting me right now but I will ignore it and keep writing about fish)

And so, I chopped up my little onion and threw it into this wok-like-but-not pan that I found in the cabinet, with what I felt was an appropriate amount of olive oil. Probably like, 1/4 cup, maybe a little more/less. I'm still getting used to the stove here so for a while I was just doing stuff like slicing carrots and I realized nothing was happening to the poor onion at medium heat. I then raised the heat till the onions were soft and slightly cooked but not brown. Transparent is what you call it, I believe. I added the ginger/garlic paste, cumin seeds, chili and coriander powders, and the diced tomato. I let everything cook and simmer for a bit (we're probably back down to medium heat now) and added the carrots. The reason I added the carrots so early on is so they could get cooked through better before I put in anything else, because everything else I was using cooks up faster than carrots. I am rambling.

Once the carrots seemed like they were softening up a little bit, I threw in the sweet peppers and green beans. While I waited for the beans to thaw in the pan, since I had taken them straight out of the freezer, I quartered my fish fillets, cilantro, took lots of pictures and what not. I really wanted to put the pictures in here but I found it was easier to just put them on my tumblr like so. Check it out!

And so upon the bed of vegetables and such, I carefully placed the pieces of tilapia, turned them over after a couple of minutes, and then covered the pan with the heat on low.

Then I realized nothing was happening so I turned it back up to medium.

I, in the meantime, super-human that I am, cleaned/washed/wiped/threw away/put away everything that I had used in the kitchen so far, started the rice in the rice cooker, drank a glass of milk and did other such extraordinary things. Somewhere along the way I turned the fish and everything else with it over a few more times, carefully so as not to break it, and sprinkled it with black pepper and basil. And closer to when the fish was done, I added some chopped cilantro.

I don't know how you tell when fish is done cooking but when it looked to me like it was done, I turned the stove off.

And then Newbah woke up from her nap and I fed her zucchini puree. And I fed myself this:

Don't forget to check out the rest of the pictures at guftugoo!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

vegetarian chili, if I may call it that.

This is how I make my so-called Vegetarian Chili:
(the trick is to get the beans prepared beforehand, or start early, so they're done by the time you actually get down to preparing this for a meal)

base ingredients:
1 cup uncooked beans (red, pink, black, whatever) (I once used Great Northern beans - SO good)
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (or use it finely chopped, whatever's easier for you)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds (zeera)
1 or 2 tomatoes, diced (the more the better, always)
green chilies, chopped (or jalapeno, habanero, anything)
the hot spices you put in here depend on how hot you want this thing to be. I use everything hot I can find - red chili powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper.
salt to taste.

optional, flexible ingredients (basically, throw in whatever you find in the kitchen)
carrots, finely sliced
celery, chopped
mushrooms, sliced
green beans, cut
mini sweet peppers
What else? I'm sure you can find a whole bunch of yummy things to add in. Anyway, keep the total of all of these veggies to about one and a half cup at most. You want it to be more beans, less veggies.

Boil the beans. Wait no. Soak the beans overnight, if possible. It'll just be quicker to cook them later on. Boil the beans till tender in a pot with salt to taste, and don't let them dry out while cooking. Add more water if necessary to make sure there's liquid in the pot once the beans are cooked through.

In a separate pan (like, a wok, or a regular frying pan, but a big one) heat up a few (4?) tablespoons of oil, and start by frying the onions until they are transparent. Add the ginger-garlic, all the chopped vegetables you want going into the chili, as well as the green chilies, and all the spices you picked out, including the cumin. Throw in the tomatoes and let everything get nice and soft and gooey. Not really gooey but just soft. Mushy, a little bit. The tomatoes. I like my carrots and celery and such to remain solid, a little crunchy but not too hard. Don't forget to put the salt. I do that all the time. I like to divide my salt between the boiling beans and the onion-tomato mixture so there's an even saltiness all around.

So. When the onion-tomato-vegetable mixture seems about done, add it to the beans+liquid and stir well. Let everything come to a simmer for a few minutes so the liquid thickens with the vegetable mixture, and once it is all is nicely blended, garnish it with cilantro, turn the stove off, and cover.

It's ready to be served! And yum, this is one idea of comfort food. Especially when it's hot and fresh!

I'm falling asleep right now because of the chili I made today, and ate for a late lunch.

Today's Chili: red beans, mushrooms, french cut green beans. sleep-inducing not-letting-me-study evil food.

Btw, I am literally falling asleep on my keyboard right now so if you notice any flaws in this recipe, please point them out in the comments. Thank you!