Blog - Curry Twist

Apple Cardamom Muffins In Ontario, Canada

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Fall is our favourite time of year, with changing colours transforming ordinary landscapes into brilliant works of art. Leaves in glowing reds, shimmering oranges and pale yellows adorn the trees, making a long, leisurely drive into the countryside one of the highlights of this season.

This year, unseasonably warm weather slowed the progress of Fall and dimmed the colours on the trees, making our scenic road trips a little less vibrant. On the other hand, this meant that we could still sit outside on a restaurant patio by the water, watch sailboats pull into the marina, and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in the sun!

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The sandy beaches and warm waters of Lake Ontario beckoned to us on an unusually hot day recently and we headed off to Presqu'ile Provincial Park for a day of sun, sand and hiking.

This park has lovely, long, shallow sandy beaches, lots of great hiking trails and one of the oldest lighthouses in the region. It is a nice day trip out of Toronto, if you want to get away from it all.

On the way, we stopped at The Big Apple, a huge bakery, restaurant and farm market which is visible all the way from the highway. We came home armed with a delicious medley of apples and jugs of fresh apple cider. The apples were crisp and slightly tart - perfect to eat and cook with!

If you love cooking with apples, try these easy apple muffins. Loaded with chunks of fruit and delicately scented with cardamom, they are great for breakfast. Or, pair them with home made Saffron Rosewater Ice cream and wow your guests with an unforgettable dessert!

Apple Cardamom Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup each: granulated white sugar, brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup apple cider

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced into very small pieces (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup Demerara sugar for sprinkling, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin cups or spray lightly with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder and ground cardamom in mixing bowl.

Combine butter and sugars in separate large mixing bowl with hand blender.

Add eggs, beating lightly after each addition.

Mix in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in 1/4 cup segments, alternating with the milk.

Add the apple cider at the end and mix well to blend.

Fold in the apple pieces with a spatula, mixing them into the batter.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin pan and lightly sprinkle tops with demerara sugar, if using.

Bake for 30 min or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Let muffins rest for 10 min, then serve warm. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate any leftover muffins.

Makes 12 Muffins

 

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Pan Fried Trout In Ontario

Ontario is at it's most beautiful in the Fall. The leaves change colour to shades of red, yellow and orange, the air turns cooler and fresh produce fills the markets, tempting me to get creative in my kitchen!

My favourite Fall activity is taking long, scenic drives around the country side, marvelling at the glorious colours, exploring farmer's markets along the way and stopping at scenic spots for an impromptu picnic of the goodies we have picked up.

Ontario is dotted with many beautiful provincial parks that provide the perfect opportunity to hike wooded trails, canoe on the lake or just sit by the waterfront and soak it all in. On a recent extended road trip, we explored northern Ontario with stops at Killarney park, St. Jacob's farmer's market and Lang Lake to name just a few. The peace and tranquility of the area, the stunning scenic beauty and the flavours of fresh, local food will remain golden in our memory. 

Locally caught fish such as trout and pickerel were featured on most restaurant menus during our recent trip. We loved their delicate flavour and the myriad of ways they were prepared in the form of soup, chowder, deep fried, grilled, steamed or bathed in a cheesy, creamy sauce. My favourite was a simple preparation of crisp pan fried trout, seasoned with herbs and lemon juice. Not only was it flavourful and healthy, it really let the taste of trout shine through.

In my recipe here, I have followed a similar cooking technique but punched up the flavours a bit by adding my own favourite spices - garam masala and cumin. It's surprising how well these spices blend with the delicate flavour of trout.

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Pan Fried Masala Trout

You can play around with the spice and herb profile of this recipe. Simply substitute the cumin and garam masala with herbs du provence or oregano and the coriander with fresh basil or Thyme. Serve with Fall tomato jam and a nice salad!

1/4 cup each: all purpose flour, fine breadcrumbs

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp each: ground black pepper, ground cumin, garam masala, paprika

1 lb trout fillet, or any other fish of your choice, cut into 4 pieces

2 tbsp each: oil, chopped fresh coriander leaves

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Line a tray with parchment to hold dredged fish. Have another platter ready to hold fried fish.

Combine flour, breadcrumbs, salt and spices in medium shallow flat bowl or plate. Dredge each fillet in spiced flour mixture and place on tray. Do not stack fish on top of each other. 

Warm oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Fry fish in batches so as not to overcrowd pan. Place dredged fish skin side down in pan and cook for 3-4 min until skin is crisp and cooked through. Gently flip fish and cook for another couple minutes until it is golden and lightly crisp. 

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over fish and garnish with fresh coriander. 

serves four

Credit for the lovely produce pictures in this blog goes to my friend Karen Bergmann. Thank you!

Curried Pumpkin Sabzi In Ontario, Canada

Fall in Ontario is always breathtakingly beautiful. Cool crisp nights and warm sunny days encourage you to go explore forest trails, where you can walk for miles surrounded by trees whose leaves display the entire palette of colours, from brilliant reds and oranges to pale yellows and greens.

Driving around back country roads, stopping occasionally to buy fresh fruits and vegetables straight from farm stands and picnicking by a stream or waterfall is my favourite way to enjoy a beautiful fall day. Hiking in the many gorgeous conservation areas around Ontario, trampling on crunchy fallen leaves, admiring the tapestry of changing colours from a peak, while the dappled sunlight shines through the trees is another favourite!

Sun ripened, farm fresh produce is a real luxury this time of year and I try to make the most of it by practically turning vegetarian! Pumpkins are one of my favourite harvest vegetables and I love to cook them with spices, the way my mother used to when I was growing up in India. Just passing a field filled with ripe pumpkins evoked so much nostalgia in me that we had to stop and buy a couple to bring home!

Curried pumpkin sabzi is a delicious sweet, sour, hot and spicy creation that is best made with fresh pumpkin and enjoyed with warm naan, chapati or deep fried puris!

Curried Pumpkin Sabzi

2 lb fresh ripe pumpkin

2tbsp each: vegetable oil, butter

2 dried whole red chilies

1/4 tsp each: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds

A tiny pinch of asafoetida (Hing), optional

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp each: cayenne pepper, turmeric, ground coriander, ground fennel, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori methi)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder) or lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Cut pumpkin into quarters, remove and discard peel and seeds. Dice pumpkin into small 1 inch bite sized pieces. you should have about 5 loosely packed cups (750gm) diced pumpkin to cook with.

Warm oil and butter in deep non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add red chilies, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds. Let sizzle for 30 sec, then add asafoetida, if using.

Add onions and garlic, saute for about 5-7 min until softened. Add diced pumpkin, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, ground fennel, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves and salt. Mix well, cover skillet, reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 20 min or until pumpkin is tender.

Add sugar, amchoor (mango powder) or lemon juice. Cook, covered for another 10 min, stirring occasionally. Uncover skillet, turn up the heat to medium and cook off some of the excess sauce for about 2 min. Fold in the fresh coriander.

Serves four

 

 

 

Fall Tomato Jam In Ontario, Canada

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Fall is my absolute favourite time of year! The trees create a gorgeous kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and golds as their leaves change colour. The days are cool, crisp and filled with glorious sunshine. And best of all, the abundance of fall produce inspires me to get creative in the kitchen!

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Living in southern Ontario, I like to best experience this season by taking long scenic drives through the countryside, along winding roads where we can admire the stunning fall colours. Stopping at farmers' markets along the way to pick up local specialties such as smoked meats, preserves, fruits and vegetables, and savouring them by the side of a serene lake is my idea of a perfect weekend!

Traveling through small Ontario towns  lets you discover hidden gems of restaurants, where chefs use locally grown produce in wonderfully creative ways. The best recipes are those that let the flavour and freshness of the ingredients shine through. It is amazing how a few fresh ingredients, simply cooked can taste so fantastic.

Fall fruits and vegetables, sun ripened and picked at the peak of their freshness have an unforgettable flavour all their own. Although there is a huge variety of fresh produce available this time of year, sun kissed, vine ripened tomatoes top my list of favourites! Bursting with flavour and sweetness, i just can't get enough of them. I end up buying so many that i can't possibly cook with all of them and have to act quickly to preserve them. One of the ways i do that is by making jams and chutneys which let me enjoy their delicious flavour throughout the year.  

This tomato jam doubles as a chutney and is perfect with Indian food. It is also great with toast, crackers, burgers, grilled meats, poultry and seafood! Quite often, I'll just spread it on a thick slice of olive bread and make that my breakfast. Ah, what a way to start my day!

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If you wish to have a milder flavoured jam, pick out the whole garam masala spices at the end of cooking. I usually leave them in and the jam gets more and more aromatic and full flavoured as time goes on! 

Tomato Jam With Whole Garam Masala

10 large ripe plum tomatoes

2 tbsp oil

10 each, whole: cloves, cardamom

1/2 inch stick cinnamon

1/4 piece of nutmeg, optional

1 star anise

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorn

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup each: sugar, apple cider vinegar

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp chilli pepper flakes 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil again. Remove from heat, drain tomatoes and transfer to a bowl. Cool to room temperature, then peel and chop them roughly.

Warm oil in deep non stick skillet set over medium heat. Add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), star anise, black pepper and bay leaf. Saute for a minute, until spices are fragrant and darken in colour. Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and chilli pepper flakes.

Mix well, cover skillet partially and bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until jam is thickened, about 30 min., stirring occasionally. Tomatoes should be well cooked into a jam like consistency at the end of cooking time. If that hasn't happened, uncover skillet, turn up heat to medium and cook off excess liquid, stirring all the while.

Taste for seasonings, adding more if necessary. Transfer to a sterilized jar and keep refrigerated.

Note: the whole spices in this jam are not meant to be eaten.