Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

One of my dear friend had sent this wish to me a couple of years ago. Now I am passing this "Loaded" New Year Wish to all my blogger/browser buddies worldwide. Here's to a Happy, Halcyon and Prosperous New Year.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall.
May your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.
May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the I.R.S.
May New Year's Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends.
May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that day.
Wish You all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2010!

Asparagus and Mushroom Curry

Asparagus may be considered as 'The Aristocrat of Vegetables' but it is also the most under appreciated vegetable because most people don't care to try it all that much or plain don't like the taste of it. The second under-appreciated vegetable in my opinion has to be mushroom as many of the vegetarians shy away from it because of its meaty taste.I used to be one of them. But not any more. I have come to love these vegetables and make it a a point to make something out of them now and then.Roasting the Asparagus and Mushroom will bring out the sweetness and make them taste better than they already do. Further the roasted vegetables get an added dimension of flavor from the gravy.The end-result is a dish that makes an excellent and healthy topper for rice or a nice side-dish for just about anything.
Am sending this as an entry for "Create for a chilli Chopper" event hosted by Sanju Modha@ KORasoi.

  • Asparagus - 1/2 bunch (about 7-8 stalks)
  • Button Mushroom - 1/2 cup (about 10#s)
  • Roma Tomato - 3, medium, diced
  • Red Onion - 1, small, medium, diced
  • Chilli powder - 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
  • Cracked pepper - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Green chilli - 2, verticaly slit
  • Olive oil - 3 tbsp
  • Salt - for taste
  • Clean the asparagus by holding it upside down under cold running water.
  • Hold both the ends of the asparagus in both hands and bend slighly. The stalk will snap at a point. Seperate the edible part and drain on a paper towel.
  • Clean the mushroom with a moist paper/tea towel.
  • Smear the cleaned asparagus and mushroom with little oil, cracked pepper and salt. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease a cookie sheet with a little olive oil and roast the cleaned vegetables for 15 minutes or less.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, add the olive oil and heat until it smokes slightly.
  • Add the cumin seeds, turmeric powder. After a few seconds, add the ginger/garlic paste and fry till it loses its raw smell.
  • Add the chopped onion and saute until they are browned.
  • Follow-up with tomato, chilli powder, green chilli and little salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes with little water on a low flame with lid closed until a nice gravy is formed.
  • Add the roasted vegetables and saute for about 5 minutes.Check for salt before removing from the stove.
  • Serve hot over plain/flavored rice or on the side for flat breads, noodles, fish or meat.
Makes 2 servings.

Tip: Roasting step is entirely optional.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

RecipeReplica: Chicken Curry with a Sourashtrian Spin

This recipe has been adopted from the recipe-hub of one fabulous blogger with an extra-fabulous blogspot.She is none other than Radhika Vasanth of Sourashtrian Kitchen.She has a wealth of recipes and exciting events happening in her spot. The minute I saw her Madurai-style(Sourashtrian) chicken recipe with its swanky name, I wanted to try it. So try I did with variations and was I happy? Yes, overjoyed cause it turned out so well.Thanks, RV for letting me try and text it.

  • Chicken Drumsticks - 10
  • Red Onion - 2, large, finely diced
  • Tomato - 2, medium, finely diced
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp or more
  • Turmeric Powder - a pinch
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Salt for taste
  • Cracked pepper and salt - 1 tsp, for marinating the chicken
  • Mint and coriander leaves - a handful, chopped, for garnish
To Grind:
  • Cinnamon Stick - 1/2
  • Cloves - 3
  • Fennel Seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper corns - 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
  • Put deep slits on the chicken drumsticks and smear a tsp of cracked pepper and salt. Set aside.
  • Dry roast all the ingredients under "To Grind" on a low flame until it gives a nice aroma.
  • Cool the roasted spices and coarsely grind in a blender.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, add a tbsp of olive oil and heat until it smokes.
  • Sear the chicken and brown them in batches. Set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining olive oil and add the diced onions.Saute it until browned.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and follow up with turmeric powder.
  • Saute the mixture until the paste loses raw smell.
  • Throw in the tomato, chilli powder, cracked pepper and salt.
  • Sprinkle a little water and cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes until a nice gravy is formed.
  • Now add the chicken, ground spices and gently mix until the chicken is well coated with the masala.
  • Add a few cups of water and cook on a medium flame with the lid closed for another 30 minutes or so.
  • Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped herbs.
Tip: This came out on the spicy side. People who don't care for much heat should reduce the amount of  chilli, pepper and ginger and use as required.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

RecipeReplica: Star Embossed Health-Mix N Oats Cookies

I have to thank Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes as she was kind enough to let me borrow her Ragi Cookie Recipe. Priya is one of the most dedicated bloggers I have come across. She has one-post-a-day policy of sorts and we all can count on her to come up with something nice and yummy everyday. She brings a whole new meaning to the word "dedication".Priya, You go girl!
Coming to the cookies, I made some alterations to the ingredients and ended up with the melt-in-your-mouth cookies which was a true hit during Thanksgiving.Additionally, I embossed these cookies with stars on the top to embrace the festive spirit.Sending this as an entry to Cakes and Cookies event hosted by Sara.

  • Manna Health Mix Flour - 1 1/2 cups
  • Quick Oats - 1/2 cup
  • All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
  • Baking Powder - 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
  • Packed Brown Sugar - 1/4 cup
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Butter - 1/2 stick, softened
  • Milk - 3/4 cup
  • Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Powdered Cashews - 2 tbsp
  • Dried Figs - 3, finely chopped in a food processor
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a bowl, beat both the sugars and softened butter.
  • To it add baking powder, cashew powder, baking soda, chopped figs, both the flours, quick oats and knead to a soft dough.
  • Divide the dough into 20-25 even sized balls and flatten it using your palm.
  • Arange them about an inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.
  • Emboss the top of the cookie with a star-shaped cookie cutter for a festive touch.
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes and completely cool on a cooling rack prior to serving.
Makes 20-25 Cookies.


Acknowledging Awards - 2

I love awards. This little beauty was passed on to me by Aruna Manikandan of Veggie Paradise many moons ago. Thanks a bunch Aruna.

The next couple of awards have been passed by Sailaja Damodaran of Sailaja's Kitchen. Thanks for your generosity.

This pretty award was given to me by Sumi of Sumi's Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Sumi.

Last but certainly not the least, this was shared by AshaLatha of Asha-Oceanichope. I love it. Thanks a lot, Asha.

I too would like to be generous in sharing this with my blogger buddies. Please accept it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flashback to the Day of my Eye Surgery

As per me, women fall into 3 broad category when it comes to beauty –

1. Women WHO ARE CONTENT with god-given beauty. How I envy them!
2. Women WHO WILL BE CONTENT only if their beauty rivals that of Cleopatra. How I feel sorry for them!
3. Women WHO ARE NEITHER CONTENT NOR DISCONTENT. Now, I who fall into this category, am mad at myself for being blessed with an indecisive brain that puts me in this limbo-state.

Well,Overall I am happy with the way I look but there are times when I wish my nose was sharper, my frame taller or my vision brighter. The latter thought/wish has been on the forefront of my mind and kept getting stronger ever since I came back from my trip to Italy. Why? One big reason – SUNGLASSES. High-end designer shades adorned everyone’s face and I was green with envy by the time I came home. Now you all might wonder what I am getting at. Be patient and read on..

Due to my high power(Did I mention that I used to be blind as a bat without my soda-bottle thick-lensed glasses?) I can’t wear certain sunglasses, especially the “wrapped” frames. You see, high-powered prescription sunglasses can’t be bent due to refractive properties and such. I craved for wearing one such pair cause it gives an instant makeover to anyone who wears it. No surgery needed. LoL. Who wouldn’t want to look better than what they are? I did mention I wasn't a Category1 girl. Didn’t I? I could have tried it on with contacts in my eyes. But I am allergic to contacts. Therefore my non-surgical options were NIL. So I have to say this lust for Sunglasses guided me like a beacon to the Lasik-shore. Why was I hesitant to try this option before? Due to my overactive imagination as usual. I was under the opinion that for this surgery: 1.Steel clamps will be used to keep the eyes open. 2.Eyelashes might be shaved(oh, the horror). 3.Hot laser beams will be used to burn a layer of the cornea to correct the defects, like a welding Hey I did have a reason to assume this. I remember reading about laser back in High school. An intense beam of coherent light can't be cool,right?
Anywayz,I chose Sankara Nethralaya Hospital in Chennai due to its reputation. Using some high-level contacts I was scheduled for surgery with a doctor who operates on Presidents and bigshots. She is a pioneer in the field of corrective surgery and I wanted only her to operate on my eyes. You see, I couldn’t trust my eyes with anyone else.
She clarified all my doubts and I was all set for specks-free days.So it was scheduled.

Day of Surgery: No valium was given to calm my nerves. I was scheduled for 2PM surgery and I arrived at the hospital at Noon. Walked the corridors in a state of agitation until I was called to the OR Lounge where I had to wait a good 30 minutes or so for my turn. My eyes were cleaned,head was covered with a mask and I was led into the dark, frigid OR where masked faces awaited me. I was asked to lie down on the bed/gurney and surgical tapes were used to seal one eye shut and pry the other one open for Epi-Lasik procedure.My face was covered with a sterile parchment-like mask and anaesthetic drops were sprayed into my eyes.All went well upto that point. The doctor told me she was going to lower the machine(microkeratome) that was going to cut a flap of my cornea for the procedure. That was when I started panicking. I was blinded by the miniscule flash lights at the bottom of the machine and no one to hold my hands and calm me down. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and just when the doc was about to lower that machine I jumped the gurney screaming “Let me out, Let me out”. I scared the living daylights out of her. She certainly did not expect that bit of insanity from me. Lol.The nurse lady pulled me back and the doc asked me what would calm me.
I laid out 3 conditions: 1.The mask should be removed from my face or atleast slit open for me to breathe all that cold air. 2.The nurse should hold my hands at all times( I needed to feel that touch of reality). 3.The doc should give me a running commentary of the surgical process.
If all the above conditions were accepted I would undergo the surgery else I was gonna walk out and be happy with my good old harmless glasses that won’t cut a slice of my cornea like some fruit.
The poor doctor had no choice and agreed to all the conditions.A nurse came and lifted(without removing) that papery-mask off my face and held my hands. The doctor promised to talk to me throughout the surgery.I didn't feel any pain when the suction-ring was placed to keep the eyeball in place or when the flap was cut. The vision became very blurry and I could see the doc peeling the flap aside like a page in a book.I tried not to panic. Jumping the gurney at this stage would be a foolish move.Can't run with part of the eyeball hanging down now, can I? The crucial time was when I had to focus on the cooling-beam of laser(Excimer Laser) which looked like a smoky-green jiggly-spot.Yes, there was motion inside that smoky green spot.The spot was static though. Get it?   I loudly started saying GREEN GREEN GREEN for the 5 seconds that I had to focus on that beam.What the laser was trying to do was to reshape the cornea by vaporizing layers of tissue to make it defect-free. No sparks flew. Lol. Once that was done, the doctor used a small broom-like instrument to reposition that peeled flap of cornea back to its original position. Then the bandage-contacts were put on top to allow the cornea to re-attach/re-generate?? The doc asked me if I want the procedure to continue or I come back another day for the other for a penny, in for a pound. Right? I decided I might as well get it done with. Now that I knew the drill, I was cool with slicing and vaporizing. It took all of 20 minutes for start to end but it was the longest and scariest 20 minutes of my life. I have to say childbirth wasn't this bad.***Phew*** After the surgery, my eye voluntarily shut itself and wept tears of pain. I started feeling the pain 15 minutes later. Ouch Ouch Ouch. It was like poisonous sting of 100 scorpions inside my skull. Painkillers helped.
Road to Recovery: This is the most painful part minus the pain. There was no pain from Day2. Only mild discomfort due to those crappy contacts.Necessary evil! The painful part is that I was asked not to wash my hair for 2 weeks(Yikes!), Not to scratch my eyes at all times(A herculean task when my eyes are so itchy!), Ensure no rogue water-droplets enter my eye for 2 weeks(All senses on high alert for 2 weeks!). So I haven't washed my face with soap in 2 weeks, only wiping with wet cloth. Gross! I get nervous breakdown everytime I take below-the-neck bath and I haven't hugged my toddler son in 2 weeks..Boohooo..No pain, no gain,right?
But the best part is that I can see without my glasses clearly for the first time in two decades. The best part is that I can go buy my favorite pair of Dior and Maui Jim shades without a second thought of whether it can be made into a prescriptive sunglasses or not. Lastly, the best part is that the worst part is over.Woohoo.

For anyone who is considering this Lasik procedure, don't wait. Just do it. I hope my inside scoop helps. For everyone else, did it make for a good read?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Super Simple Badam Kheer - Stove-top Almond Drink

All, I am back with Badam Kheer. So many postings to go through, plenty of awards to claim in 2 weeks absence. I am grateful for all the comments and well-wishing emails from fellow bloggers and buddies.The eye surgery went well. I can see clearly(hmm, almost) without glasses for the first time in two decades. Thats really something. Isn't it? Reading fine prints is a challenge but doctors have asked me to be patient. Now, that is a virtue that is hard to come by. While I wait "patiently" for my cornea to fully recover, I would like to virtually share this recipe for a super simple and yummy drink that I make frequently at home. Try it, you'll like it.
Ingredients :
  • Almonds - 1 cup, blanched
  • Skimmed Milk - 5 cups
  • Sugar - 2/3 cup or more
  • Yellow Food Coloring/Saffron strands - a pinch, Optional
  • Slivered Almonds - for Garnish
  • Cardamom Powder - a pinch
  • Make a fine paste with the blanched almonds and a cup of milk in a blender.
  • Cook the Almond paste in a thick bottomed stock pot for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Dilute/soak food coloring/saffron in a bit of milk and keep aside.
  • Add the sugar and continue to stir. The paste will loosen and re-thicken.
  • Add the remaining milk, cardamom powder and cook on a low flame for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in the food coloring/saffron milk and switch off the stove.
  • Garnish with Slivered Almonds.
Makes ~3-4 Servings.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mini Break for Eye Surgery

Dear friends,
I am taking a break for about a week or so as I am going for corrective eye surgery today(Epi-Lasik). I am a bundle of nerves thinking about it but I am trying to convince myself that it can't be as bad a childbirth. I had re-scheduled my posts as it needs a once-over prior to getting published.I will be back with a bang after a week. In the mean time, take care and feel free to stop by my spot for some post-peeking.

Cool Lassi(e)

Friday, December 4, 2009

MYOB(MakeYourOwnBurger): Barley Bean Burger

This is yet another recipe that has been invented in my little kitchen. I let my imagination run wild and came up with this yummy little burger that can also be consumed just as is without the burger buns.Sending this as an entry to Madhuram's Barley event.
  • Garbanzo Beans(Chick Pea) - 1 cup, cooked
  • Barley - 1 cup, soaked overnight and pressure cooked
  • Onions - 1. small, diced
  • Garlic - 1 cloves, smashed
  • Carrot - 2, small, shredded
  • Parsley - a handful, chopped finely
  • Salt for taste
  • Pepper - 1/2 tsp, optional
  • Whole Wheat Bread Slices - 2, crusts removed, soaked in water and smashed
  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp (for shallow frying)
  • In a bowl, smash the cooked garbanzo beans roughly.
  • Throw in the cooked barley along with onions, garlic mince, carrot, parsley, bread mush and salt+pepper.
  • Using hands blend them and divide it into roughly 4 balls
  • Form each individual ball into patties.
  • In a pan, heat the olive oil and shallow fry the burgers 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Serve as is or with any choice of fixings.
Makes 4 patties.


SugarPlum Balls Minus the Sugar

Now this is a healthy and awesome treat for young and the old alike.This is packed with fiber, certain vitamins, a breeze to make and tastes good, which in my opinion is a major bonus. So don't hesitate to try this at home. Kids will love it and so will you.

  • Almonds - a handful, blanched
  • Cashews - a handful
  • Pecan/Walnuts -a handful
  • Dried sugar-free figs - 4
  • Dried apricots - 4
  • Dark Raisins - a handful
  • Craisins - a handful (optional)
  • Dates - 6
  • Pear Juice - 1/8 cup (Any naturally sweet juice of choice can be used)
  • In a food processor, coarsely blend(pulse) all the dry fruits and nuts with little bit of orange juice.
  • Divide the mixture into 10-12 bite-size balls and refrigerate for an hour before consuming.
Makes 10-12 bite-sized balls.


Barley Pilaf

This is my first time cooking with Barley. If not for blogging, I wouldn't have given it a try. Blogging is giving me an opportunity to expand my culinary horizon and I am loving it. I certainly will be making this pilaf on a frequent basis.It  is filling, very yummy,healthy and wholesome.
  • Barley - 2 cups, soaked overnight and pressure cooked with little salt
  • Bell peppers(red, green, yellow) - 1/4 cup, julienned(cut to strips)
  • Cubanelle pepper - 1, julienned (optional)
  • Corn Kernels - 1/4 cup, fresh or frozen
  • Carrot - 2, small, julienned
  • Onion - 1, large, diced
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, minced
  • Cracked pepper - 1 tsp or less
  • Toasted Pine nuts - a handful (slivered almonds mayb be used instead)
  • salt for taste
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • In a deep skillet, heat the oil and add the minced garlic.
  • In less a minute, add the diced onions and saute until browned.Once the onion is browned, add the peppers, carrot and the corn kernels.
  • Add a little water and cook the vegetables in low flame for 5 minutes with lid closed.
  • Add cracked pepper and barley.
  • Sprinkle salt for taste.
  • Gently mix to contents in the pan and cook for 5 more minutes with a little salt.
  • Serve hot with hot and sweet sauce. 
Tip: Barley must be soaked overnight just like chickpea and take the same amount of time like chickpea to pressure cook.

Makes 2-3 servings


A troubling Tale: My maiden Plane-Trip to India with a Terrible-Two Toddler, Genre: High Drama

Act One: Flying High

Inspite of my hubby warning me about the possible pitfalls in my decision to go alone with my hyperactive toddler, I went ahead anyways because I want my son to get to know his other set of grandparents,learn new things and see new faces etc etc. The fun began right after we stepped into the son's diaper leaked and his travel pants got soaked in,you know..Plus he knew somehow that he was going to be away from papa and was all over him like a rash. It was a battle between me and him to pry him away from his dad after which he cried a river for a good half an hour while in the line.The passengers who heard his wail must have been fervently praying and hoping that they don't get a seat next to this little guy. The security check was a nightmare because I was busy removing shoes and such while my son ran in between people and played hide-n-seek. Then he refuses to step into the fligt because of the loud noise emanating from outside..Onboard he spills cream on a fellow passenger, dunks his finger into the passenger's dessert cup,kicks a formula bottle of an infant and spills it on the aisle, plucks a couple of hairs from the man in the front, opens and closes the tray table atleast 500 times and punches the remote of the TV like a gazillion times...Well the list goes on and on..Then during the 2-hour layover at Brussels he went and sat on a lap of a complete stranger and carried on a conversation for atleast 15 minutes and so so..I call this half of the journey a walk in the park.

Act two:Clingy Situation

This is what I would call an "Ordeal" because this is when I reached a point where I had a major meltdown.

While the plane was rushing on the tarmac, right after touchdown on the Indian soil, in the early hours of dawn to reach its destination, my son was rushing towards the blissful oblivion only sleep could provide. While this might have been a Yay scenario some other time, it proved to be a real nightmare this time. Why? Haven't you heard? Never(pause) Ever(pause) wake a sleeping baby. But I had to, to disembark, you know. The minute we deplaned, my son climbed on to my hip like a monkey would a tree and refused to let go. Keep in mind that he isn't the only luggage I am carrying. Since I wanted to feel warm and comfy inside the plane, I had dressed up in layers which I decided to keep on cause I needed my hands free and luggages light to accomodate my precious cargo. It was hot and I was bothered. My son was startled to see that many people racing to beat the crowd to line-up for the H1NI screening at the airport.The minute I removed him from my hips, he started his waterworks and clung on to my jean-clad legs as though his very life depended on it. I had to drag myself to the line, patiently waiting for my chance to get my swine-flu form stamped and such..when I get there, I was rudely yelled at for not filling a seperate form for my finish it and head up to the immigration counter where I was asked to fill another form for my son..something that I wasn't apprised of on-board. My kid raised his howling up a notch and tried pulling my jeans down..all around me were sea of people looking at me with loads of pity in their eyes..that did it! I unravelled right there..lack of sleep combined with anger at the merciless authorities for putting me through this turned into a bout of pitiful tears. I know they were doing their job but in my stressed-out state, logic was the last thing on between cussing, crying and cajoling my boy, I fill out the form and drag myself back to the line,finish my formalities before I drag myself to the baggage claim area. My son now rolls on the floor kicking and screaming wanting to go back where we came from for an escalator ride. You see, he was fascinated by the idea of gliding without walking.Finally the agents take pity and make an exception for me to go out,handover my son to the waiting arms of my MIL. Thirty minutes later, I head outside again with my luggage, ready to face whatever awaited me there. I let out a BIG fat **sigh** when I saw my son napping in my MIL's arms peacefully. Silly you if you thought this was the end of it.

Act Three:Trying times

While I was waiting for the carousel to deliver my luggage, my son takes a power nap in my MIL's lap and is fully recharged for a brand new series of torment. We reach home safe and sound at 2Am.By this time my body is screaming for much needed revival sleep that still eludes me not because I wished it but because my toddler was in high spirits as he was the center of attention and he wanted to prolong that. Finally we both get exhausted and hit the bed a couple of hours later. We both must have slept for 15 minutes or so he lets out a howl that could have woken the dead. The reason was because of the night watchman's whistle and I had to coax him back to sleep. At 6AM in the morning, he again lets out a scream that could have shattered the glasses in house due to the dogs barking outside. I don't have to tell many how lively it is in India in the early hours of dawn..

Act Four:Hope Floats

As me and my boy are struggling to reverse our bio-rhythm(body clock), "Having fun under the Indian sun" is yet to begin. So I keep wishing and hoping..

**Let the fun times BEGIN**

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 Cookathon -- "When it Rains, It Pours"

Ahem, everyone,I am back with a post after a double-day Cookathon for Thanksgiving day.I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a nice time bingeing/boozing with family and friends.
This year Thanksgiving was at my home with kith and kin. When I had agreed to do this, I hadn't realized what a trying chore it would be.As usual I had dreamt bigger and created a mega-menu of 22 dishes ranging from Appetizers-Soups-Maincourse-Dessert.Two days prior to Thanksgiving I concluded that it would be an impossible feat. So I had to curtail the menu,skipping a few and finally ended up with 17 dishes. BTW, I couldn't have made this all possible if not for my dear dear friends who came a day early to help me cook these wonderful dishes. So this year I am really truly thankful for having such wonderful friends who are a true example of the phrase "A friend in need is a friend indeed". Am I lucky or what?Thanks, girls.

Thanksgiving 2009 Menu-card:
I have only given the generalized menu since I don't want to spoil the surprise. Some of the recipes are mine but most of them are from fellow bloggers who were kind enough to let me borrow their recipes and from bosom buddies.The details will be revealed as and when I post the recipes. So keep checking periodically.So here goes the menu..
  • Stuffed Mushrooms and Stuffed Mini Peppers
  • Chip and  Dip
Main Course:
  • Veggie Pilaf
  • Fruity Rice
  • Veggie Lasagna
  • Cumin Rice
  • Navratan Kurma
  • Gravy Chicken
  • Chunky Lamb in Mint Gravy
  • Raita
  • Rasam (Pepperjuice)
  • Cookie in a cup
  • Fruity Kesari
  • Stuffed Fruit
  • Butter Cookie
  • Stove-top Pudding
  • Halwa
My Kitchen - "A calm after the storm": This is where all the magic happened -

I will post the recipes soon. At the moment I am completely drained of energy from all that cooking.Need plenty of R&R to get back to normal. So see ya guys.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving/Happy Holidays 2009

I wish all my fellow bloggers/friends a "Happy Thanksgiving". The recipe for this Cheese-N-Veggie Gobbler sandwich is from one of these magazines -- FamilyFun Or Parenting, October/November edition. Sorry, didn't pay attention to the month/name of these magazines. You see I came across this while I was in the Pediatric lounge, pensively waiting for my son's swine flu shots. I had to draw the picture on my palm so I don't forget how it looked like in the magazine.Lol. Since I had all the ingredients at home, I replicated this the same day and was patiently waiting a whole week to post about it.

  • Wheat Bread - 2 slices, cut with a round cookie cutter, for the face and a small rectangle for the nose
  • Cheddar cheese Singles - 1, cut with a round cookie cutter(for the face), and 2 triangles for the beak
  • Bright colored peppers - assorted crescents, for the feather and a red crescent for the Wattle
  • Raisins - 2, for eyes
  • Assemble the cheese and wheat slices for the face on a flat plate.
  • Arrange the crescents for feathers around the face.
  • Perch the rectangle wheat slice on the face for the nose.
  • Place raisins for eyes.
  • Angle the cheese triangles for the beak.
  • Place the red crescent for the wattle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

South Indian Mini Meals(Version 1)

Who doesn't love variety on their plate? I am a major fan of mini meals that certainly pleases the eye and other senses. Mini meals are a rare indulgence in the house due to the amount of work involved. Mini items they may be..but they require major

Plate for one, please:
  • Mini Idlis with Homemade Milagai Podi/Chutney Powder(Click here for the recipe)
  • Teeny Tiny Puffy Poori(Wheat Unleavened Bread) and purple potato fry (Click here for recipe)
  • Ulunthu Bonda (Dhal Fritters)
  • Sweet Bonda With Banana and Jaggery(Raw sugar)
  • Eggplant and Potato Gotsu (Thick Moong Dhal Soup)
  • Peanut Chutney (Click here for the recipe)
Ulunthu Bonda(Makes 25-30 mini bites):
  • Urad dhal - 1/2 cup, soaked in water for an hour or so
  • Green chillies - 3, halved and chopped to bits
  • Red onion - 1, small, diced
  • Cracked Pepper - 1/ 2 tsp
  • Baking soda - a pinch
  • Cilantro - 2 tsp, chopped
  • Salt for taste
  • Canola Oil - for deep frying
  • Grind the urad dhal with very little water.
  • Transfer the ground dhal to a bowl and to it add salt, cracked pepper, chopped chillies, baking soda and the onions.
  • Briskly mix it and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Scoop small portions and deep fry in oil until browned on both sides.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve hot with peanut chutney.
Sweet Bonda(Makes 25-30 mini bites):
  • Wheat flour - 1 1/2 cup
  • Ripe Banana - 1, pulped
  • Jaggery(Raw sugar) - 4 tbsp, shaved
  • Cardamom powder - a pinch
  • Baking soda - a pinch
  • Canola Oil - for deep frying
  • Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl
  • Scoop marble-sized portions of the batter and deep fry in oil until browned.
  • Drain and paper towels and serve as is.
Tip: Don't have the patience to shave the Jaggery? Use dark brown sugar instead.

EggPlant and Potato Gotsu(Makes ~3 cups):
  • Moong Dhal - 1/2 cup
  • Onion - 1 large, vertically slit and divided into 2 portions
  • Tomato - 3, medium
  • Eggplant - 2, small, chunked
  • Potato - 1, small, chunked
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • Turmeric powder - a pinch
  • Asafoetida(Hing) - a pinch
  • Green chilli - 4
  • Curry leaf - 2 stalks
  • Cilantro - for garnish
  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp
  • Mustard and Urad dhal - for seasoning
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Pressure cook the Moong dhal with half the slit onions, 2 green chillies, 2 tomatoes, garlic, hing and turmeric powder.Smash it to a smooth pulp and set aside.
  • In a pan, heat the oil, add mustard, urad dhal for seasoning.
  • Add the curry leaf, onion and saute until browned.
  • Add the cut eggplants, potato, remaining tomato and bring it to a boil with a 2 cups of water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Pour the smashed moong dhal and mix it gently.
  • Add salt and garnish with cilantro.
  • Serve hot with steaming idlis.

    Puffy Poori/Puri N Purple Potato Sides

    My only request before you are put-off by the purple potato -- Give it a try. I don't know if purple potatoes are available everywhere but they come in little netted packages in the gourmet-foods section of the supermarket. What prompted me to try this potatoes? Curiosity, why else? Now I am hooked. These mildly sweet bodied potatoes look gorgeous and taste awesome(even better than red or golden potatoes) when made into curry that goes so well with Poori/Puri and Yogurt Rice.

    For the Potato Sides:
    • Purple Potatoes - 6-8, small ones, cut, boiled,peeled and roughly smashed
    • Red Onion - 1, large, vertically slit
    • Gralic - 3 cloves, minced
    • Mustard & Urad dhal - for seasoning
    • Green Chillies - 4-5, vertically slit (A tsp of cracked Pepper may be used instead)
    • Curry leaves - Leaves of 2 stalks, cut chiffonade-style  (optional)
    • Salt - for taste
    • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
    • Cilantro - for garnish
    For the Puffy Poori/Puri:
    • Wheat Flour - 1/2 cup
    • Kachori Mix - 1 tbsp (optional)
    • Salt - a pinch
    • Warm water, for kneading
    • Canola oil, for deep frying
    For the Potato Fry:
    • In a pan, heat oil, add the mustard and urad dhal. Once the mustard starts sputtering, add the garlic, onions and fry until the onions are browned.
    • Add the green chillies/cracked pepper and smashed potatoes.
    • Sprinkle salt and a little water. Gently stir and cook for 5 minutes.
    • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with curry leaves and cilantro.
    For the Poori(Mini):
    • Mix all the ingredients except for the oil with the warm water and make a thick dough.
    • Divide the dough into small portions, about the size of a chickpea.
    • Roll it into small circles and do not dredge it in flour(The puri will absorb more oil this way. Dip in oil and roll).
    • In a deep pan, heat the canola oil.
    • Deep fry the rolled-out dough until they puff up and slightly browned.
    • Drain on paper towels and serve with potato sides.

    Basics: Chutney Powder (Idli Podi/Kaara Podi/Mailagai Podi)

    Who wouldn't love Idli Podi? Its the most easiest to prepare and yummiest accompaniment for hot steaming Idlis(Steamed Rice Batter). I love love Podi with Idli, Dosai and even mix it with rice, just like the Paruppu Podi..Here is an easy way to make it and enjoy it right from your kitchen. You need a powerful mixer to grind the pulses. Puny little juicers won't do the trick.If you don't have the tools to do it at home, there is always ready-made stuff in the Indian stores.
    In the picture below, the one on the left is homemade and the one on the right is readymade(MTR Brand).
    • Bengal Gram(Kadalai Paruppu) - 1/2 cup
    • Urad dhal - 1 cup
    • Dry Red Chillies - 10#s
    • Sesame seeds - 2 tsp
    • Curry Leaves - 10-12 stalks
    • Asafoetida - a pinch
    • Salt for taste
    • Olive oil - 1 tsp
    • In a thick bottomed pan, dry fry both the dhal until they are browned.Set aside.
    • Dry fry the sesame seeds until they are browned and set aside.
    • Heat the olive oil and add the hing, curry leaves and red chilli. Fry on a very low flame until the curry leaves are crisp.Sprinkle salt over the hhot mixture and switch off the stove. 
    • Once all ingredients are cool, corasely powder them in a powerful mixer.Check for salt. Add more if needed.
    • Store in an airtight container and use it as needed with little oil(Olive oil or sesame oil)

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Mixed Veggie Pilaf

    Pilaf/Pulao/Plav is a versatile dish that can take any form and perform.Its meaty version may please meat-lovers but its vegetarian version is sure to please all alike. I am partial to the vegetarian version with plenty of colorful vegetables..especially multi-colored peppers, peas, carrot and beans. So here is my version of this kitchen all-rounder.Use any medley of colorful vegetables for this. This star-quality dish is a standalone and doesn't need any accompaniments. To round it off, perhaps you may drink Yasmeen's tried and tasted Chocolate and Protein Oat shake, that is made with Xagave(Agave syrup), a natural sugar replacement that is making waves right now. Intrigued? So am I. To enter for a chance to win Yasmeen's generous giveaway of a book with recipes of Xagave check out the rules here. Good Luck.
    • Basmati Rice - 2 cup, soaked 30 minutes prior to cooking
    • Cubanelle Pepper - 1, julienned
    • Mini peppers - 2 each of red, orange and yellow, julienned
    • Carrot - 1, peeled and julienned
    • String Beans - 4-5, halved and vertically slit
    • Sweet Peas - a handful, fresh or frozen
    • Cilantro - 1 bunch (if small), else 1/2
    • Ginger - 1 inch, skinned and roughly chopped
    • Garlic - 4 cloves, skinned and halved
    • Red Onion - 1, large, roughly chopped
    • Tomato - 1, medium, chopped
    • Mint - a handful
    • Hot Green Chilli -5
    • Cinnamon - 1/2 stick
    • Cloves - 3
    • Cardamom - 1
    • Cracked pepper - 6 peppercorns
    • Marati Moggu(Dried Capers) - 1
    • Bay Leaf - 1
    • Olive Oil - 4 tbsp
    • Water - 3 cups
    • Salt for taste
    • Coarsely powder the dry spices- cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cracked pepper either in a blender or mortar/pestle and set aside.
    • Grind the ginger, garlic, red onion, tomato, cilantro, green chillies, cilantro and mint with little water.
    • In a wide thick bottomed pan, heat the oil,add the ground dry spices and bay leaf.Fry them for less than a minute taking care not to burn them.
    • Add the cut vegetables, fry them for a minute and pour the ground paste. Close the lid and let it cook for 5 minutes.
    • Add the soaked rice and 3 cups of water. Add salt and gently stir taking care not to break the rice.Close the lid and cook on a low flame for 8-10 minutes.
    • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cut peppers(optional).
    • Serve hot with cold Onion Raita or by itself.
    Makes ~3-4 Servings.


    Friday, November 20, 2009

    TwilightSagaFood: 'New Moon' Cheesy Crescents

    As I promised, here is the New Moon Treat some of you were waiting for. For this I had to scratch my brain and finalize on something that resembles a Waxing Crescent Moon(A sliver of a thing seen soon after sunset). These crispy and cheese flavored crescents will make an excellent accompaniment to Tea/Coffee or a replacement for popcorn. Recipe Idea adapted from Easy Home Cooking, June/July 2003 edition.

    • Quick Oats - 1/4 cup
    • Whole Wheat Flour - 1/4 cup
    • Shredded Cheddar& Monterey Jack Cheese - 1/2 cup or more
    • Parmesan Cheese - 1/8 cup, grated
    • Smart Balance Spread - 1/8 cup, softened (Margarine was used in the original recipe)
    • Water - 1 tbsp
    • Pine Nuts - 1/4 cup, dry roasted and smashed roughly
    • Salt - a pinch
    • In a bowl, mix both the cheeses, margarine, salt and water until completely blended.
    • Mix the flour with the above mixture and add the nuts and oats. 
    • Combine all and shape the dough in the form or a log.
    • Wrap it in cling wrap and let it sit for 4 hrs - overnight.
    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    • Using a serrated knife slice the dough into thin chips.
    • Cut crescents from the chips using a cookie cutter.
    • Repeat the same with leftover dough and line them all up in a greased cookie sheet.
    • Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are browned.
    • Cool and consume.
    Makes ~30 crecents.

    'New Moon' Quotes by Edward Cullen(Hero) to Bella Swan(Heroine):
    • I love you. You're my only reason to stay alive.. if that's what I am.
    • You smell just exactly the same as always. So maybe this is hell. I don’t care. I’ll take it.
    • I thought I’d explained it clearly before. Bella, I can’t live in a world where you don’t exist.
    • Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars—points of light and reason.. And then you shot across my sky like a meteor...
    • You will always be the most beautiful thing in my world..
    • Your hold is permanent and unbreakable. Never doubt that.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Root-A-Rama Soup - Rocking with Root Veggies

    I am proud of this creation for 3 reasons:
    • Catchy name that I decided to bestow on this soup. 
    • You won't find this combination of root veggie soup anywhere(Yup, I googled it and saw this combo nowhere) 
    • It turned out extremely well for an experiment.
    I used four root veggies(Root, Tuber-root, Tap-root and blah blah blah) for this soup- Celery Root, Onion Root, Ginger Root and Sweet Potato.Actually five if you consider the Garlic cloves that I used. So yummy this soup turned out that it is going down in my long-list of all-time favorites. If you let me, I will go on touting about this soup in such an audacious manner that it might upset some of the readers. So I will shut up and just type.BTW, I am sending this as an entry for this month's  No Croutons Required event hosted by Lisa@ Lisa's Kitchen.

    Main Ingredients Used:

    •  Celery Root - 1, skinned and chunked
    •  Sweet Potato - 2, skinned and chunked
    •  Red Onion - 1, large, vertically slit(save a few slices for a caramelized garnish)
    •  Ginger Root - 1/2 inch, skinned and diced
    •  Garlic - 3 clove, minced
    •  Bay Leaf - 1
    •  Cracked Pepper - 1 tsp
    •  Vegetable stock - 2 cups, homemade or store-bought
    •  Milk - 2 cups, skimmed or whole
    •  Salt for taste
    •  Olive oil - 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
    •  In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic, bay leaf. After a minute, add the onions and saute until they are browned.
    •  Throw in the chunked sweet potato,celery root, cracked pepper, ginger and salt. Mix well.
    •  Pour the vegetable stock and stir. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
    •  Add the milk and stir frequently until the mixture thickens for about 7-8 minutes.
    •  Switch off the stove and cool.
    •  Puree the mixture with an immersion blender or in a blender. Pour a portion of it into a serving bowl.
    •  In a skillet, add a tsp of oil and caramelize the onions.
    •  Sprinkle it on top of the soup.
    Makes 6 Servings of thick soup.

    Tip: Chop the celery root and sweet potato into roughly same-sized chunks for even cooking.Add more milk if you want a thinner, runny soup.And Celery root may be substituted with any other root that will go well with sweet potato.

    Enjoy! I certainly did(Burrrrpp)!

    I Had A Dream

    Note: I swear I had this dream in the early hours of this fine Thursday morning that woke me up and had me typing away this post. THIS IS NO FIB. A dream laced with so much vividness, a hint of incredulity, a tinge of weirdness, a lot of imagination,that it woke me up to write this.Again, this is NOT MADE UP and I KID YOU NOT.
    Ever since I have started blogging,I have been on a blogging-rush 24/7. Even when I am doing something, I am thinking what I should post, what I should cook and all that. Sometimes, when I am on the edge of sleep and wake, I get wonderful ideas of write-up and such.But this is a full-fledged dream that woke me up..a dream about me being at Priya's(of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes) house for lunch. All I know about her before this dream is that she is a dedicated, consistent blogger who posts away a storm from Paris..that she can speak Tamil(I have seen her comments in Tamil at other blogs), has a couple of school-going kids(mentioned in her post) and seen her picture in a Super-Blogger Sunday Post of EC's SimpleIndianFood.

    So here goes the dream: (Read only if you can spare 10 minutes of your time)
    I am at Priya's house for lunch on a fine Sunday son is sleeping in her guest bedroom..her kids(both boys in my dream) are playing in her lovely backyard that has a basketball hoop and a big black board that has french-english translation chalked on what I meant about my dream being vivid/detailed?My hubby and her hubby are talking about world peace,world economy and such while she is showing her kitchen where all the magic happens.She has served us "Mooli Paratha" and "Lorette"(a french delicacy, in my dream, that is) as a dessert. I googled about this Lorette and there is no such thing like that. She then shows me a book full of Paratha recipes and we bond over Culinary books. My son wakes up and we get ready to leave.Me and my hubby hop into our SUV, yes SUV and we drive back to the US. Hey, its my dream and we sure can drive from Paris back to my home..Anything is possible in dreamland.
          I thought about posting this entire thing as a comment in her blog..but I surmised that she might get freaked out or something..weird things do happen in the net..I should know..but what can I do? I don't have a control of my subconscious mind and I had to post about it to let you all know how blogging had affected me.
    You won't believe me when I say I was a shopaholic prior to this new passion..I would always go out for shopping at least once a week to buy something that I WANT but convince myself that it is something that I NEED. When I was at work(which I quit to care for my son) in NYC, I will forgo lunch and run to Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue stores during lunch break to get myself stuff..that is my extent of shopping craze. Recently,I had ordered 2 shirts and a top from EXPRESS.COM and it came 3 weeks ago and I haven't yet opened it. My hubby is like, if that is the case, then you certainly don't need send it back..Yeah, like that would happen! LoL.Its like my priorities/passions have changed overnight. I am hooked on blogging.
          So Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes, invent a dessert called "Lorette" and dedicate it to me. And don't freak out. I am not coming after you in my SUV, you hear? Atleast not until they invent an SUV that can fly over the Atlantic. So you are safe.Hey, did you know that there is a belief that early morning dreams come true? Lol

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    TwilightSagaFood: Edward Cullen's 'Twilight' FruitNVeggieVamp Drink (No animals were tortured to make this drink)

    "Twilight" When You can live forever, what do you live for?

    Okay, do not laugh. I am a sucker for all vampire novels/movies. Why wouldn't I? The idea of Eternity, Superior Senses and Ravishing Looks certainly appeals to me. Coming to the point, people say that Ms.Meyer's Twilight Series is for young adults. I say its for young-adults and adults-young-at-heart. Reading those books made me feel bubbly like a Champagne and a perma-smile pasted on my face for quite sometime.I read all the four books in 3 days..something of an accomplishment with a young toddler. So what does a twi-hard fan do to show her support for the second edition movie release? She makes a drink in honor of the most gorgeous vampire characters of all time -- Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson. BTW, my hubby frowns at me whenever I drool at that "Tall drink of water"(who is atleast a half-a-dozen years younger). Lol.
         Anyways, once the idea of beet-n-apple drink took root in my mind, I was of thinking of what other things I can incorporate in it and ended up with this recipe. Please don't be put off by the color, its very tasty and refreshing and perfectly safe for humans.Can be consumed with or without pulp.Come back Friday for a "New Moon" surprise.BTW. I am sending this as an entry for HealingFoods challenge hosted by Yasmeen.

    • Bloody Beet - 1/2, chunked
    • Blood Red Apple Drink Concentrate - 8 Fluid Oz(I used Apple & Eve Juice Concentrate)
    • Pomegranate Arils - a handful
    • Ice Cubes
    • In a small pan, add the chunked beet and add water to barely cover it. Cook it for 10 minutes in low flame.Once its soft, switch off the stove and cool.
    • Add the chunks, juice and the pomegranate arils to a juicer jar and blend.
    • Drink as is or strain the pulp and consume with or without ice cubes.
    Makes 1 Serving.

    My favorite Twilight Quotes: Edward Cullen(the vampire hero) Quotes to Bella Swan(the human heroine):
    • If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I'm not ashamed of it.
    • The sound of your heart is the most significant sound in the world..
    • I prefer brunettes.
    • Look after my heart.. I've left it with you..
    • So the lion fell in love with the lamb..
    • What if I am not the superhero? What if I was the bad guy?
    • You are my life now..
    • When I told you that I didn't want you, it was the very blackest kind of blasphemy..
    • I've decided that if I'm going to Hell, I might as well do it thoroughly..
    • Hell's not so bad if you get to keep an Angel with you..
    • Yes, You are exactly my brand of heroin..


    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Acknowledging Awards

    I was so happy when I got a couple of awards from Priya of Priya's Feast. They were the first award bestowed on my blogging self for my Diwali entries. No doubt I am overjoyed and encouraged to work hard and acquire some more..Since I am a newbie I am still "learning the ropes" of awards and, a bit late in claiming them..

    Thanks a bunch Priya.

    This is from SrishKitchen,second place for EFM-Oats Series. I will cherish this one, Srilekha. Thank you.

    These 2 were passed on by Nithya of 4th sense samayal, Sweet Sarah of Vazhayila.Thanks a bunch you both.



    Immunity Boosting Salad - Packed with Vitamin C

    Did you know that Flu Season starts to peak during November and continues to peak until April?I didn't know either until I stumbled onto a website that claims it is so. So I will take their word. People who don't care to get the seasonal/swine flu shots should do everything to stay healthy. That means boosting the immune system with Vitamin C rich food. Ever since this swine flu breakout, I am in a perpetual state of worry wondering if/what/when I might get infected with HINI or any other strain of virus. I am doing everything to NOT get sick and pass it on to my little one, starting from washing my hands religiously to eating right..Anyways, here is a recipe that is good for the body, both inside and out, packed with Vitamin C and Antioxidants(Dark leafy Greens + deep colored Veggies/Fruits).I don't care for the store bought fatty dressing cause it negates the purpose of eating healthy. So I just use seasoned Olive oil as a dressing for this.Sending this as an entry for HealingFoods challenge hosted by Yasmeen.

    • Dark Leafy Greens - a handful(European Mixed Greens)
    • Red, Yellow and Orange Mini Peppers - 1 each (maybe roasted for an additional flavor)
    • Sweet Clementines/Mandarin Orange/Any Orange Segments - a handful or slightly more
    • Pomegranate Arils - a handful
    • Seedless Grapes - a handful
    • Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
    • Cracked Pepper - 1/2 tsp
    • Salt - a dash
    • Mix the greens, veggies and fruits in a bowl.
    • Whisk the Olive oil with salt and pepper.
    • Pour over the salad and gently mix.
    • Refrigerate prior to eating or not(I prefer it slightly cold)

    Check this post of mine for more tips about preventive measures and such..

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Brunch Setting For One

    There are times when you are in a desperate need of pampering..When you find yourself in such a situation, you should cook something nice.For yourself, that is! This is my go-to menu when I need a bit of TLC, which is more often than not.
    3-Course Brunch for One Menu-card:
    • Homemade Muesli with Milk
    • Spinach and Artichoke Frittata
    • Persimmon and Banana Smoothie with Pomegranate Arils.(Any other fruit can be substituted for Persimmon)
    Homemade Muesli: Click here for the recipe.
    Spinach and Artichoke Frittata:  Frittata is a baked Italian Omelet made with eggs, cheese, vegetables and meat(optional). I love the combination of spinach and artichoke.But any veggie combo or veggie-meat combo can be used.
    • Egg White - 2
    • Egg Yolk - 1
    • Milk - 2 tbsp
    • Onion - 1/2 small, diced
    • Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
    • Cheddar Cheese - a handful, shredded
    • Parmesan Cheese - 1 tbsp
    • Artichoke Hearts - 1/2 jar(~5 chunks), diced
    • Spinach - a handful, cleaned and drained
    • "Very little" Salt for taste
    • Cracked Pepper - 1 tsp
    • Olive oil - 2 tbsp
    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    • In a bowl, whisk the egg whites and yolk. Add the artichokes, cheese, salt, pepper, shredded cheddar and gently mix.
    • In a thick bottomed oven-proof pan(cast-iron or all-clad), heat oil and the minced garlic. Follow up with chopped onion and saute until browned.
    • Add the spinach and saute until it wilts.
    • Pour the egg mixture and reduce the flame. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then move it to the oven.
    • Bake for 10 minutes or so until the mixture sets.(Again, this is personal preference. Some like it fully cooked and some like it under cooked.Your choice).
    • Divide into 2 portions(saving half for later) or enjoy it as a whole for a hearty brunch.   
    Persimmon and Banana Smoothie with Pomegranate Arils:After such a hearty omelet, a light dessert rounds off the meal nicely. I mixed the banana with persimmon to offset the hint of bitterness of the ripe persimmon.
    • Hachiya Pudding - 1, very ripe, peeled and chopped
    • Large Banana - 1/2, sliced
    • Milk/Yogurt - 1 cup
    • Pomegranate Arils - 1 tbsp
    • Blend the first 3 ingredients and sprinkle pomegranate on top.

    HomeMade Swiss Muesli - A Swiss Favorite!

    What is Muesli? As per the Wiki, Muesli, pronounced Mew-zz-li was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. It is available in the supermarket cereal aisle but it can also be made fresh. Homemade Muesli is so easy to make and the beauty of it is that the ingredients can be altered as per personal preference.Once you get a hang of making this at home, you ain't ever going shopping for the packaged one. So here goes the recipe that may appeal to most(for one serving).

    • Uncooked quick rolled Oats - 1/4 cup
    • Corn Flakes/Bran Flakes - 1/4 cup
    • Wheat Germ - 1 tbsp
    • Wheat Bran - 1 tbsp
    • Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
    • Choice of nuts(Cashew, Almond, Walnuts) - a handful
    • Choice of dry fruits(Craisins, Raisins, Apricots, Figs) - a handful, chopped
    • Apple Chunks - a handful
    • Olive oil - 1 tbsp
    • Honey - 1 tbsp
    • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
    • Mix the Olive oil and Honey in a bowl and slightly warm it. 
    • In a oven proof dish mix all the other ingredients and pour the warmed oil-honey mixture.
    • Give it a brisk stir and pop into the oven for 30 minutes stirring now and then.
    • Remove from the oven and cool for an hour.
    • Enjoy with warm milk.Sliced banana may be added on top.
    Makes 1 Serving.

    Tip: Multiple servings can be made in advance with the exclusion of apple chunks. Store in air-tight container to maintain the freshness.


    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Basics: Rustic Stuffed French Toast

    French toast is much loved in my family. This would be my first choice for a weekend breakfast or brunch on a lazy day. You will have to excuse the dirty shot of this toast cause I was ravenous by the time I made it and had no patience to do anything besides taking a hasty shot prior to gobbling it up.

    • Wheat Bread - 4 slices
    • Egg - 2
    • Banana - 1, pureed
    • Cinnamon - a pinch
    • Milk - 4 tbsp
    • Sugar - 1/2 tsp
    • Confectioner's Sugar - for dusting, optional
    • Butter - 1 tbsp, melted
    • Whisk the milk, eggs, cinnamon powder, and sugar in a shallow dish.
    • Spread the banana puree on one side of the bread slices.
    • Sandwich 2 slices with the puree side inward.
    • Dunk the sandwiches in the egg mixture and let it sit for 7-8 minutes per side until all the mixture is absorbed.
    • Warm half the butter in a skillet and toast the bread on a low flame 3-4 minutes per side until its browned on the outside.
    Makes 2 Servings.


    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Spanish Vegan Paella(Pa-YaY-Yea)

    What comes to mind when you think of Spain? Matadors, Flamenco dancers and PAELLA. Paella is a saffron-flavored dish made with rice, meat, seafood and vegetables. I have made many versions of this - with meat, seafood, both meat and seafood and just a vegetarian version. So what makes this a Vegan one? I soaked them Saffron Strands in water rather than milk. Lol. This is going as an entry to WYF:Specialty Food hosted by EC@ Simple Indian Food.

    • Basmati Rice - 2 cups, soaked in water for 30 minutes prior to cooking
    • Vegetable Stock - 2 1/2 cups, click here for the recipe
    • Mini Bell Peppers - 6, any color, oven-roasted(optional)
    • Cubanelle Pepper - 1, oven-roasted(optional)
    • Green Sweet Pea - 1/2 cup, fresh or frozen
    • Saffron - a pinch, soaked in 3 tbsp of warm water for 30 minutes
    • Onion - 1 large, slice vertically
    • Green Hot Chilli - 4, vertically slit
    • Cracked Pepper - 1 tsp
    • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
    • Salt for taste
    • In a thick, deep bottomed skillet, heat the oil and add the onions. Saute until browned.
    • Add the green chilli and cracked pepper and fry it for a couple of minutes.
    • Pour the vegetable stock plus saffron soaked water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and give it a stir.
    • Drain the water completely from rice and add it to the skillet.
    • Add the roasted or freshly cut peppers(I used oven-roasted peppers for this recipe) and green peas.
    • Check for salt and cook with closed-lid for 7-8 minutes on a low-medium flame. 
    • Serve immediately. Note: Paella really stands on its own. Side-dish is Optional. 
    Makes 3-4 servings.


    Basics: Basic Vegetable Stock

    Looking for a healthy, low/no sodium vegetable stock. Stop looking in the supermarket's aisles. This can be made fresh at home with easily available ingredients.

    • Water - 4 cups
    • Red Potato - 1/2
    • Carrot - 4, quartered lengthwise
    • Celery - 2 stalk, halved
    • Bay Leaf - 1
    • Pepper Corns - 1 tbsp
    • Red Onion - 1/2 medium
    • In a thick bottomed pan, pour the water and throw in all the ingredients. Boil for about an hour in medium flame until the liquid is reduced into half.

    Tip: Make in batches and freeze in little containers for later

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    FromFamilyNFriends: Chicken in Walnut Gravy

    This is from one of my closest friends.She and I have been thick as thieves for almost 15 years. That kind of friendship is hard to come by. She is my confidante, my agony aunt and best friend all rolled in one. When I told her I want to post her Walnut Chicken recipe, she was only too happy to share. This recipe is all about bringing the subtle nutty flavor of the Walnut to the forefront. Not too much spice additions either. Thanks Ms.Khary.

    • Chicken Drumsticks - 10
    • Walnut - 2/3 of a cup, ground to a coarse powder
    • Onion - 1, large, roughly chopped
    • Tomato - 2, medium, roughly chopped
    • Garlic Cloves - 4, skinned
    • Ginger - 1", skinned and chopped
    • Ground Black Pepper - 1 + 1 tsp
    • Garam Masala - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp (Available in Asian store in the Spice section)
    • Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
    • Chilli Powder - 1 tbsp (optional)
    • Salt for taste
    • Olive oil -  2 tbsp
    • Cilantro for Garnish
    • Skin the drumsticks and put deep slits on them. Mix a tsp each of Garam Masala,  Black Pepper, Salt, Turmeric Powder and smear it on the drumsticks. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
    • In a pan, warm 1/2 tbsp of oil and sear the chicken in batches until a brown crust is formed on the outside(This keeps the chicken moist n juicy on the inside).

    • In a pan, heat a little oil and fry the onions, tomato, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and fry until the onions are browned. Grind to a paste in a blender with little water.
    • In the same pan, transfer the chicken and pour the ground paste, add little water, spices and salt. Bring it to a boil for 20-25minutes with the lid closed.
    • Once the gravy thickens, add the walnut and cook for a couple more minutes.
    • Garnish with Cilantro and serve hot with choice of bread, roti or rice.
    Makes 3-4 servings.