Spinach & Artichoke Puff Pastry Braid

spinach puff pastry braid

Hello my lovely readers! We are days away from Eid (woohoo!) and that means it is time for Eid Eats, that delicious roundup of Eid recipes. This year it is hosted by My Ninja Naan & Chocolate & Chillies. Do hop over on to their page to check out whats cooking! I have had a bit of a history of bringing desserts to the table. There were the Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Stars, the Coconut Barfi, and the Eid classic of Sheer Khurma. This year I decided to break from tradition and share something that I make for all kinds of parties, not just Eid. This Spinach & Artichoke Puff Pastry Braid is filled with a creamy bechamel filling that has some spice from green chillies, the sweet nubbiness of corn and fantastic flavor all around. It is a cinch to put together with store bought puff pastry dough and looks so pretty on the table. It also meets my two main requirements for a party. One is that the filling can be prepped ahead of time, the second that it reheats beautifully. The Spinach & Artichoke Puff Pastry Braid is versatile in that it’s perfect for tea, brunch or even lunch depending on what you serve it with. 

spinach and artichoke puff pastry braid

spinach puff pastry braid

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Crunchy Corn and Green Chilli Aaloo Cutlets / Potato Cakes

Aaloo Cutlets

One of my brothers likes to tell the story of how when he was back in Karachi during one of his college breaks he walked into the kitchen to find a girl he had not seen before with her head submerged in our deep freezer, furtively foraging for something to eat. When he asked her who she was she responded by asking him who he was to which he said “I live here” to which she exasperatingly replied “I’ve never seen you before”. My poor brother then retorted with “well I haven’t seen you either” Once they has resolved their impasse and she had told him she was one of my friends he asked where I was and she said “not home” and continued to rummage through the deep freezer until she found these Corn and Green Chilli Aaloo Cutlets. Moral of the story:  food first, all else later.

corn-chillies-potato-cutlets

 

With their crunchy exterior and creamy spicy interior nubbed with corn these are one of my mothers trademark cutlets/kababs. The friend above was not the only one who would drop in after school to snack on these babies. They were pretty much a hands down favorite of most of my friends. Some of my happiest memories from those days are the ones that were made in my sweltering kitchen, friends sitting around the table, plates with cutlets and ketchup smears and lots of the unrestrained laughter that is the hallmark of teenage years. 

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As an adult, one who is forever ‘behind’ in the things that need to be done I can really appreciate how much work it would have taken for my mother to keep that freezer stocked for the hungry teens that were always welcome in our house – whether we were home or not. My hope is that by the time my girls are older they too can have that same experience. I don’t think it’s ‘cool’ for kids to hang out at each others houses when Starbucks is an option, but I would like to think that if you cook it they will come 🙂

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Thai Chicken Sliders with a Coconut Peanut Sauce and a Coconut Lime Slaw

Summers are for sandwiches. When I say sandwiches I mean anything you can stick between two pieces of bread – burgers, sliders, regular sandwiches, paninis – whatever the mood calls for. Last summer it called for these delicious Thai Chicken sliders more than once. I enjoy them so much that I may have made them a few times over the fall and winter as well – just to ‘test’ the recipe you know. Now it is with great excitement that I bring to you these flavorful Thai Chicken Sliders with a Coconut Peanut Sauce and a Coconut Lime Slaw. I simply adore the contrast between the flavorful mildly spicy coconutty chicken, the rich creamy peanut sauce and the bright fresh slaw. I enjoy it so much that if I don’t have any appropriate bread handy then I am happy to turn it into a big salad. And let’s be real – I am not one of those people who usually likes to eat salad for lunch and not feel like she’s been cheated.

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The original recipe is from Olga at Ocean View Kitchen. She is an incredible food photographer and if this recipe is anything to go by then she is a helluva chef too! I made the recipe as written the first time and it was very good. In fact the marinade was so good that I felt that it was a crying shame to ‘waste’ it and transformed it by turning it into a coconut peanut sauce to top the sandwich. I also like to serve any extra on the side for dunking veggies in. If I were a more organized cook then I would be able to plan food so that extras of ingredients never go to waste. Since I am not I tweaked the recipe to make it work with just one can of coconut milk. Over time I have also stopped making my own slaw and buy the Asian style coleslaw from the store instead, frequently supplementing with the veggies in my fridge. Red peppers, shaved carrots, diced cilantro, sliced onions (white), julienned deseeded chillies, scallions (green onions) all have made an appearance in this slaw. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the day I took these photos I, by some miracle, actually had red cabbage leftover from another recipe so I went ahead and used that.

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Sambal Oelek  – that great hot sauce love of mine – makes an appearance in the sauce here, but you could just as easily substitute it with jalapenos, sriracha, or any other Asian style hot sauce. I would walk away from the Franks here if I were you. I really do dig Frank’s, but here it simply doesn’t work.

KID FRIENDLY NOTE: I have recently discovered that my kids will devour this chicken if I omit the hot sauce entirely and just increase the ginger for extra flavor! The leftover chicken is also great with veggies for school lunches!

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Spicy One Pot Burrito Bowl

In most cases when you’re of desi (south asian) origin a lifetime of eating spicy food means that you automatically lean towards other cuisines that are spicy – Mexican, Thai, other East Asian foods. If they aren’t ‘naturally’ spicy foods then you make changes – my bechamel sauce for my lasagna has green chillies in it. True story.

Am I embarrassed to admit it to all you wonderful foodies out there? Only a little 😉

Spicy One Pot Burrito Bowl

Meals like this lovely spicy one pot burrito bowl really hit the spot on many fronts. First of all it’s spicy (you can always dial down the spice if you wish), second of all it comes together fairly quickly and in one pot (hooray for less washing up), and thirdly it is so good for you with it’s healthy combination of lean chicken, beans, and brown rice. The best part is that because of all the flavor that gets worked into the dish you don’t miss white rice at all. Trust me in my household that’s an accomplishment.

Spicy One Pot Burrito Bowl

A few quick notes before we go on to the recipe. First of all I used the chilli flavored canned tomatoes which helped give this dish an extra layer of hearty smokiness and second of all I used this brand of brown rice and my cooking time reflects that. If you use a brand that takes longer to cook then add in a half cup of extra water and let it cook on low heat. Also, if you want to make this a vegetarian dish then omit the chicken and sub the broth with vegetable broth or water.

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Taco Lasagna

I am not that good with crowd pleasing dishes – most things I make don’t quadruple well and if you’re Pakistani a small family dinner easily means 40 people and a whole bunch of quadrupling. Over time this cooking for a crowd has become a lot easier and I have fewer meltdowns (lol). However, that is in part because I have started building an arsenal of delicious recipes that are easy to whip together, make in advance, and double if need be.

Taco Lasagna

This Taco lasagna is the latest addition to that collection. The components come together quickly and since you bake it the day of the event it tastes fresh and delicious. I make it with a side of a cheesy spicy garlic bread loaf (recipe to be posted) and a nice bean salad.

Taco Lasagna

The best part is you can actually make this (minus the dicing bit) with a 1 yr old hanging off one hip as long as you give her a little bit of cheese to snack on. Oh and keep her away from the jalapenos if she is convinced all green things are delicious.

Taco Lasagna
Serves 8

Meat Mix:
1/2 cup diced onion
1 lb ground chicken (or beef)
Spicy taco seasoning – 1 packet or make your own and use 3 tbsp
24 ounces salsa
1 cup corn kernels

Ricotta Mix:
1 egg
15 oz carton ricotta cheese
1 jalapeno diced
2 cups shredded cheese – I used Monterey Jack + Mozzarella
Generous pinch of coarse salt and pepper

Additional ingredients:
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (you can sub w regular, just parboil first)
2 cups shredded cheese for topping the lasagna
Chopped green onions for garnish

Note: Most pans and lasagna noodles aren’t friends. There is usually some rejigging and some swearing involved. To mitigate some of this lay out your (uncooked) noodles once in the pan to figure out how many noodles you will need and how many layers you will get so you can readjust layers accordingly. I am giving instructions for a roasting pan (what I use) and a 9*13 below.

Meat Mix:

Saute the onion in a little bit of olive oil until translucent, add the ground chicken and the seasoning then cook until the meat is browned. With chicken this is v quick. Add in the corn kernels and salsa and warm through.

Ricotta Mix:

While the meat is warming empty the ricotta container into a large bowl and mix in the egg, seasoning and diced jalapeno (deseeded or otherwise). Once well combined mix in cheese.

Roasting Pan:

Drizzle a little oil on the base of your pan layer as follows – a ladle or two of bolognese, 6 lasagna noodles vertically across, 2/3 taco meat mix, lasagna noodles, 2/3 ricotta mix, lasagna noodles, then lasagna noodles, then the meat mix dotted with the remainder of your ricotta mix, top with cheese.

9*13:

In a 9×13 baking dish, start by layering 4 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Next, layer ⅓ of the ricotta, ⅓ of the beef mixture, ⅓ of the salsa, and ⅓ of the cheese. Repeat the layers 2 more times.

To Bake:

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 350, cover the dish foil (tent to prevent it from sticking to the cheese) and bake for 35 minutes. If you don’t use foil then you will end up with what I like to call extra crispy edges (I was out of foil the day I took pictures). Remove foil and bake until the top is nice and bubbly and broil for a minute or two.

Taco Lasagna

Taco Lasagna

 

 

 

 

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Hara Bhara Kababs – a Guest Post from Aruna of Aharam

Hey guys – remember Aruna?  She was good enough to have me over at her blog Aharam and has now been kind enough to share a recipe from her impressive repertoire with you guys.

If you haven’t been over to her blog yet then be sure to check it out – it literally blows my mind that she knows how to make the number of things she does. And by blows my mind I mean inspires me to push myself a little harder 🙂

Thanks Aruna for sharing a yummy nutritious recipe with my readers and now with further ado here she goes…

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Hara Bhara Kabab is one of those omnipresent items on Mumbai restaurant menus. It is a simple
pan-fried patty of mashed potato mixed with spinach-coriander puree and boiled peas spiced up
with some green chilli and ginger paste.

I love Hara Bhara Kabab because it is rather versatile. You can munch on it by itself, spice it up some
mint or coriander chutney, or then have as a side with dal tadka and rice. A perfect Hara Bhara
Kabab is golden brown and crisp on the outside and melt-in-the mouth soft on the inside.

I chose it as the guest post recipe for Sarah because she has children and Hara Bhara Kabab is quite a
nutritious and delicious snack for children. It is also perfect as a starter for dinner parties in the
holiday season as it suits most palates.

Enjoy! 

Makes: 16-20 Servings
Preparation Time: 60 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients
1. Potatoes – 6 Large
2. Spinach Leaves – 2 Packed Cups (1 Large Bunch)
3. Coriander Leaves – 1 Packed Cup
4. Peas – 1/2 Cup
5. Cashews – 8 to 10 (Split in halves vertically)
6. Green Chillies – 6 to 8
7. Ginger – 1.5” Piece
8. Black Salt – 1 tsp
9. Besan or Gram Flour – 1 tbsp (optional)
10. Salt to Taste
11. Oil for Shallow Frying
The Prep Work

1. Boil the potatoes till they just start to soften and are mashable.
2. Wash with cold water and drain all water from the potatoes.
3. Set the potatoes aside to dry and cool to room temperature.
4. Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water.
5. Drain all the water from the spinach leaves and set aside to cool.
6. Boil the peas and drain all water.
7. Set the peas aside to cool.
8. Grind the blanched spinach, coriander leaves, ginger and green chillies to a smooth paste. Avoid using any water; if you do need to add any water just add a teaspoon at a time.
9. Peel and mash the boiled potatoes.
10. Add the spinach puree and black salt to the mashed potato.
11. Mix well.
12. Add the boiled peas and mix with a gentle hand.
13. Taste and add regular salt as required. The salt should be a tad lesser than required. Remember all fried items taste saltier after frying.
14. Take a small portion and for a ball.
15. Pat down to form a patty.
16. If it does not hold the shape, add 1 tbsp besan/gram flour to the mashed potato and mix
well.
17. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Making the Hara Bhara Kabab
1. Divide the potato mix into 16 to 20 equal portions.
2. Roll each portion into a ball and then pat down to form a patty.
3. Heat a tava or a griddle.
4. Spread about 1 tbsp of oil on the surface of the pan.
5. Plan a few Hara Bhara Kababs on the pan.
6. Over medium heat, let the kababs cook.
7. Lift each kabab to see if the side touching the pan is golden brown.
8. Flip the kababs over and cook the other side. If required, drizzle a few drops of oil around the
edges of the kababs.
9. While the second side is cooking, press half a cashew into the side that has been cooked.
10. Flip over and cook for a few seconds.
11. Repeat the process till all kababs are cooked.
12. Serve warm with Pudina/Mint Chutney or Coriander Chutney.

Tips
 Be careful not to overcook the potatoes. If you do, then the potato mash will become soggy.
 Drain the potatoes, spinach and peas completely. I usually leave them in separate colanders
for about 20 minutes. This ensures that there is no excess water.
 If your potato mix is soggy, add more besan. The raw mix does taste of besan but as you
cook the kababs, this taste will disappear.
 Do not make the potato mix very hard either. I find that the kababs harden a bit after they
are cooked.
 You can make these kababs well in advance and heat them up just before serving.

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White Pizza w/ Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms and Spinach – a Guest Post from “I’ll Cook You Wash”

Hello people – do you know Indira? Of course you do, I just did a guest post over her at her blog in the form of an indulgent fajita pizza. Indira is bringing some class into our post exchange by making her spin on a much loved white pizza. You already know I think she’s cool and so less babbling from me and more talking from her… Indira you’re up 🙂

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Today I’m excited to visit all of you Flour & Spice readers. I’m Indira over at I’ll Cook, You Wash and Sarah has become a pretty good blogging buddy of mine. We’ve been talking about guest posting for ages and I’m happy that we can finally do this.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a super fancy and easy twist on comfort food. What’s more comforting than pizza? I mean, pizza comforts you when you don’t even need comforting…Pre-emptive comforting if you will.

In recent years, I’ve moved past the classic cheese and tomato sauce combo (don’t worry, that staple isn’t going anywhere) to experiment with different toppings and sauces. I’ve always found comfort in what I think are indulgent flavours – white wine, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, butter – and one day the thought to combine them all hit me. Hello inspiration! While I’ve been using this pizza as comfort food (i.e. cut haphazardly and inhale accordingly), I also feel that it will work very well at a dinner party or special occasion. You can also cut into smaller squares and serve as mini appetizers.

Granted, there are quite a few elements to putting together this pizza, but it’s very minimal prep and can be cooked simultaneously so that you can use the waiting time to take a bath, change into your comfortable clothes, set up a show you plan to binge watch, and close off all your other responsibilities for the night. By the way, I sincerely despise any sort of kneading, and making use of flatbread is one of the more genius ideas of mine *blows on fingernails & buffs them against shirt*

Important note: a bit of planning will cut your cooking time significantly. The garlic by far takes the longest to cook, so roast your garlic beforehand (up to a week & a half before you make the pizza) and store in the fridge. It will help you get to that first bite so much quicker.

White Pizza w Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms and Spinach

 

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A Simple and Delicious Sun Dried Tomato Pesto w Toasted Walnuts

Frantic. That is the word that comes to mind most evenings when I am trying to cook, feed the girls, bathe them, change them and put them to bed. I always think of things I would like to cook the night before, elaborate things, yummy looking things – things that would take more than 15 minutes, but when it is crunch time those dishes hardly ever make an appearance. Fortunately for me – and you – there are many yummy from scratch dishes out there that can come together pretty quick. The fact that I have made this particular one three times in the last week speaks for itself.
Pasta w Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

I like the ‘usual’ basil/parm/pinenuts pesto, but the price of pine nuts and the amount you usually need keeps me at bay. This sun dried tomato pesto with it’s more humble composition of pantry staples packs an even more delicious punch of flavour and is as versatile as it’s greener counterpart. Add it to your grilled cheese, smear it onto your chicken and bake, or just keep mixing it into your pasta over and over again like I do 🙂

The recipe for this pesto comes from the beautiful blog Simply Scratch. It is intended to feed two people and that makes it perfect for me and my girls (daddy is a desi food kinda guy). Because it makes such a small amount you are best off using a mini blender like the Magic Bullet. If you are to double it and make it ahead then I suggest using only 1 garlic clove not two as the raw garlic flavour tends to get stronger over time.

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Reduced Fat Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese

Okay people I know it’s summer and you’re thinking “Mac and Cheese? Really???”, but trust me on this one. Or rather, trust Vaish at Chefette Spicy on this one.

When I saw this post of hers I knew I had to make it. I frantically added the ingredients to my grocery list and went out that night (at 9) to do groceries so I could make this pasta happen asap. Also my fridge was weirdly empty and that was just freaking me out. Just fyi, I am now at the other extreme and equally freaked out.

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Corn, spinach, and cheese. What’s not to love? I usually find that ‘lightened’ up versions of dishes just don’t work for me, but Vaish clearly knows what she is doing because this recipe is DELICIOUS. Like really, really freakin’ good. And you know the desi in me couldn’t help, but add a few green chilies – and then the desi of me remembered she had a jar of Sambal Oelek in her fridge…I am not a fan of hot sauce on everything, but on this it really works. 

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Quick Tomato Tart

This past weekend I had my uncles and their families over for lunch. They were supposed to come around 1 and it was 1:15 when I realized that I had forgotten to make the tomato tart. 15 minutes later I was waiting for it to come out of the oven and despite the fact that I rushed the process a little it still turned out well.

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The recipe is slightly adapted from Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa D’Arabian and I have made it many times by now. It makes for an especially lovely summer lunch with a side of lightly dressed baby arugula and is equally good as a ‘snack’ on its own. I usually make it in a tart pan, but on one occasion when my tart pan had run away from home I put it out on a baking sheet and found that I quite like the effect.

You can switch the Parmesan out for goat cheese if you prefer. The mustard flavour is mild at best, my mustard hating sister (Yeah, I know, weirdo) enjoyed the tart and didn’t even know there was some Dijon action happening.

The tomatoes are clearly the star here so make sure you get the reddest most beautifully ripe tomatoes you can find!

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