Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dogwood trees in bloom around Cary,North Carolina - An enticing colorful feast for the senses.

Dogwood is North carolina's state flower. In Cary and Raleigh Dogwood trees are found  abundantly, they display spectacular eye pleasing bloom in Spring, during summer they get covered with  green leaves and the same green glow changes into shades of  red/orange color in fall. No wonder Dogwood ( Cornus florida) is one of the most popular tree planted to beautify the  landscapes. Floral beauty of Dogwood Trees can be enjoyed from end of February until mid of April. Enjoy the photographs of the Dogwood blossoms captured around my home in Cary.
For more information on Dogwood plant click NC state university's Horticulture Information page link :- Nc state horticulture

By end of the February Dogwood trees start getting flower buds.

Dogwood plant buds captured at Sunset time during 1st week of March.

This Dogwood flower has mix of white,yellow and pink shades.

Dogwood flowers clicked around 8.00 am.

This is white dogwood (Cornus Cherokee princess)
Dogwood with red bracts ( Cherokee Chief)

Dogwoods beautiful green glow in summer.

Dogwoods bright red appeal in Fall season.
 Fully bloomed dogwood tree with sun set background captured during 1st week of April.
Click pictures to see larger image.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cooking with Mix Greens - Bok choy StirFry with Red radish, Spring onions, Dill - Seasoned with garlic and green chilies.

Locally grown fresh produce is full of flavors and nutrition, adding them to routine meal is a natural way to stay healthy. I had cooked Bok choy stirfry few years ago and some how I never picked this vegetable for long time. Recently Martin, Chef and owner of Martin's Curry rice shared one nice locally grown bok choy with me, I was delighted to have Bok choy back in my Green vegetable list. Martin's restaurant is based on a Japanese concept. He serves Red, Green,Yellow curry in Mongolian style, his curries are infused with Indian spices. My favorite curry sauce is Red with extra spicy hint. I choose  fish, tofu and locally grown veggies with perfectly cooked fluffy brown rice. Please check Martin's Curry Rice restaurant website  for unique  healthy weekly changing  menu. Martin strongly supports using  locally sourced ingredients, his vibrant cooking spirit is very inspirational. Thanks Martin for  inspirations to cook healthy meals.
I divided one bokchoy in two portions and  cooked  two stir fries with different combination of greens This is simple stir fry recipe with garlic, green chilies and onions.

1)   Bok Choy Stir-Fry - This is first portion of 5-6 leaves. I cooked with combination of  red radish and spring onions.

Ingredients :-
  • 5-6 leaves of matured bok choy - chop out the  bottom hard portion of stem, separate stem and green leaf - slice stem and finely chop greens.
  • 10-12 Red Radish - trim both ends and make thin round slices.
  • 1 bunch spring onions - trim roots, separate greens and white onion part. Finely slice white onion part and chop the greens.
  • 3-4 green chilies - finely chopped
  • 10-12 fresh garlic cloves - make thin lengthwise slices.
  • 1 Tb.spoon oil
Note : Rinse all greens under running water several times to get rid of sand and  other impurities.

Cooking Process :-
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in thick gauge pot. (min 3 quart size) Add sliced white onion portion - saute for 2 minutes over  medium heat.
  2. Add green chilies and garlic - saute for a minute.
  3. Add  sliced white stem portion of bok choy + sliced red radish - saute for another four minutes.
  4. Now add  chopped spring onion greens and bok choy greens - mix all well, sprinkle little salt and saute over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring with wooden spoon.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook for another 3-4 minutes without lid. Enjoy with rice and roti.

2)   Bok Choy Stir-Fry - This is cooked with remaining leaves and stir fried with combination of  Dill, green spring onions (Kandyachi Pat).

Ingredients :-
  • 8-10 leaves of  Mature Bok choy - chop out bottom hard portion of the stem, separate greens and stem, slice stems and chop the greens.
  • 1 bunch - Spring onions - trim roots, separate greens and white onion part. Finely slice white onion part and chop the greens.
  • 1 bunch Dill - cut the root portion and finely chop dill greens.
  • 1 Whole garlic bulb - peel each clove and make thin lengthwise slices.
  • 3-4 green chilies - finely chop.
  • 1.5 Tb.spoon oil.
Note : Rinse all greens under running water several times to get rid of sand and  other impurities.

Cooking Process:-
  1. Heat 1.5 tablespoon oil in a heavy gauge large size pot. Add sliced white onion portion - saute for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Next add sliced garlic and chopped green chilies - saute for one minute.
  3. Now add  sliced white stem portion of bok choy and continue to cook by stirring at an interval with wooden spoon, about  4-5 minutes. Maintain medium heat.
  4. Add bok choy greens, spring onion greens and salt  - saute  over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Keep stirring as you saute.
  5. Finally mix chopped Dill greens and saute for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, adjust salt seasoning. Reduce heat to lowest setting, let it cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve hot with roti and rice.
Dill (shepu), Bokchoy, Spring onions, green chilies, garlic cloves.
Cooking stage - Before adding chopped Dill

       (Bok choy Stir-Fry-1)            (Bok choy Stir-Fry-2)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Buckwheat, Split-skin-on Moong Dal and Quinoa Curry infused with Cilantro (Hara Dhania), enriched with Chayote cubes.

Different varieties of  Lentils/Beans/grains  are my favorite cooking ingredients. They contain protein, vitamins, minerals, fibers so it gives me great cooking satisfaction. Every time I let my instincts decide to pick the combination, this time -- "Quinoa, Split moong Dal, Buckwheat" got paired up. I further enriched it with chayote chunks. No Garam masala  is used except one single bay leaf to go with generously used  fresh cilantro (हरा धनिया) and at the end I gave Cumin Tadka. This is tasty, healthy  wholesome vegan-gluten free curry.

Ingredients :-
  • 1 Cup finely chopped onions
  • 1.5 inch ginger piece - finely crushed
  • 5-6 garlic cloves - finely crushed
  • 3-4 green chilies - finely crushed
  • 1 Bay leaf ( 3 inch long)
  • 1 chayote squash - peel skin, remove seed, cut in half an inch cubes ( known as chow chow, Bangalore brinjal, Bangalore Kathirikai)
  • 1/2 Cup -  split green moong dal with skin
  • 1/2 Cup - Quinoa
  • 1/2 Cup - Buckwheat groats
  • 1 Tb.spoon oil + 1 Tspoon oil for Tadka/Vaghar/Phodni/tempering
  • 1 heaped T.spoon Jeera (cumin)
  • 2 Cups  - fresh finely crushed cilantro (Use small mixer jar) + some chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 6 Cups water

Cooking Process :-
  1. Wash-Rinse split moong beans, soak in water and keep it aside. Mix Quinoa and buckwheat, rinse together until water runs clear, drain water and keep it aside.
  2. Combine ginger+garlic+green chilies+ 1 cup chopped cilantro  in a small blender jar;  finely crush without adding water.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pressure cooker/ pressure pan, (This curry/dahl can be cooked in stock pot too) add 1 bay leaf, sizzle for 15 seconds  then add chopped onions - saute for 5-6 minutes until they turn soft and translucent. Add crushed ginger-garlic-green chilies-cilantro  mixture - saute for one minute.
  4. Now add only split moong beans and cubed chayote squash with 4 cups water, Simmer it on high heat for 10 minutes without putting  pressure cooker lid.
  5. Add rinsed quinoa+buckwheat, salt and two more cups of water. Once it starts boiling close pressure cooker/pan lid and place whistle. Reduce flames to medium. Once it builds enough pressure inside cooker and ready to blow first whistle reduce the heat to lowest setting. Allow one whistle and shut off the heat in 2-3 minutes.
  6. Once pressure cooker completely cools down, open the lid and check the consistency. You may add little water if you find it too thick. If you add water then again simmer for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Final Tempering :- In a small skillet heat 1 teaspoon oil, just hot not smoking hot. Add one heaped teaspoon cumin seeds; sizzle for 15 seconds or until cumin seeds slightly get dark in color and get aromatic..quickly shut off the heat and add one cup finely crushed cilantro in tadka oil, stir-saute well for 30 seconds and quickly pour over cooked curry.  This additional one cup finely crushed cilantro sauteed in Tadka oil will bring green glow and  flavor the curry with  intense cilantro aroma. Before serving garnish with few more chopped fresh cilantro leaves. Enjoy with rice and roti or as a wholesome thick soup.
Note :-  I cooked this curry in prestige junior supreme pressure pan, 2 liter size was a bit congested too cook so use bigger  than 3 liter size pressure cooker. For cooking this curry in pot use at least 4 quart size pot.

For one more Indian style Quinoa recipe - "Quinoa Spicy pulao with samo rice" Click

This picture is taken after cooking step No.4,  before closing pressure cooker lid.