Sep 28, 2011

The story of the Red Cabbage and the WaterCress

Talking of food made at home being cheaper, I agree with Mr. Bittman (I do encourage all of you to actually go and click that link, since it has a wealth of relevant information and also a lot of cool sites to visit).

Take a look at the above photograph. That costs less than 2$. And for a single diner, can last 2 days. For a family, definitely a day. Takes? less than 10 min (prep included). I am confused, how does anyone claim that come cooked food is expensive and/ or time consuming? I have to say, it is just a notion. One that can quickly go down the drain. But yes, we need those drains in place. I am happy to put my 5$ into it. Are you?

Talking of simple food that are delicious and colorful, I think the red cabbage is a bit unappreciated. There is something about the color, me thinks, that get cooks and eaters wary of it. I was too. So, I understand, if you feel that way. But when I go grocery shopping, I never end up buying any of the relevant stuff that I think I need. Instead I end up bringing home all kinds of stuff that happened to catch my fancy that day.

That is how I ended up with a head of red cabbage. And it stared it me every time I opened the refrigerator door. That went on for five days. On the sixth day, I decided to chop a good portion of it. And as the knife shredded the--rather tough, I would argue--layers of the cabbage, a simple recipe started formulating in my mind. All it needed was some green. To the refrigerator I go and the only green to be there was a bunch of watercress. Watercress and Red Cabbage  .

If you think, that is the surest road to perdition (in other words, a disaster in the kitchen), try this recipe. Not only will you enjoy the walk down that road, you surely will want to go down that road quite a few times. To end the story of the red cabbage and the water cress, the next three days, I picked up these very two from the grocery (and these time I  made sure to stay focused) and made the same recipe for dinner. On four consecutive days.

Now, if that does not at least make you willing to try this recipe, I am sure reading the recipe will do:)

Red Cabbage and Watercress Stir Fried Salad


One smallish head of red cabbage. A green cabbage would work as well. But try the color.
1 small onion. Sliced
Half a bunch of watercress. You can easily use some Arugula, Spinach.
1/2 tsp of whole mustard. This is really the key ingredient. You must try and find it.
4-5 curry leaves. You can substitute with some dill or even Thyme.
2-3 cloves of garlic. You can use ground and dried garlic powder too
1/4 tsp of sliced ginger. No substitutions, here
A heavy hand of red chilli flakes
2 tbsf olive oil. + 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling later on
Half a lime
Salt and pepper. I like freshly ground black pepper. But any would work
Some parsley or cilantro or coriander for garnish. You pick your herb. I like em' all.

In a skillet (that would hold all ingredients), heat the olive oil. When hot enough, add the mustard. Wait for a second and let the mustard sputter (that is when the mustard releases their intense flavors). Lower heat and add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry (or whatever you are using as a substitute). Adding herbs at this point infuses the recipe from 'within' and is a very Indian way of making quick stir fries. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the coarsely sliced cabbage. Keep sauteing for additional 3-4 minutes. You can use higher heat setting if you feel the need. Add the chilli flakes and the greens. Mix around and wait for the greens to just wilt down. Season with salt and pepper. Whatever you do, leave the crunch alive. That is the second high point of the recipe (the first was the use of whole mustard).

Plate the dish, add a dash of lemon juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. To make it non vegetarian, you can add a couple of poached eggs on top. But the try the recipe without the egg. It is legit and worth it. Top off with parsley/cilantro.

A warm stir fried--South Indian inspired, even-- cabbage and watercress salad. Summer summer...

Happy eating and healthy living!

Sep 16, 2011

Japanese style baked Tofu with Saffron and chili flakes

'Tofu is not a food'

I was once told so by a dear blogger friend of mine. I of course disagreed. Today I thank my lucky stars that I did not agree with that. In fact, I like the fact that Tofu is like a blank canvas , but with a texture. You know, blank canvases have often inspired great art. All good art started off from one. And when it comes to food, I find no reason to disagree.

This very Japanese style Tofu recipe is one which needed a blank canvas. With a bit of crunch from pickles, color from saffron, heat from chili flakes and flavor of soy sauce (or Tamari, if you will), a block of Tofu turned out miraculously comforting. I can almost say that it will go equally well with Paneer or baked cottage cheese. A side of jasmine rice topped with toasted sesame seeds, some wilted spinach drizzled with garlic salt and olive oil. Comfort could not have been any less colorful and healthy

Japanese style Tofu--with saffron, chili flakes and soy sauce
You will need

1/2 lb of extra firm tofu. You can use Paneer or cottage cheese. If you are using cottage cheese, drain the water to make it easier to work into squarish shape
3-4 big pickled green chili

For the marinade
a few strands of saffron, soaked in 3 tbsf of olive oil for 10-15 min
1 pinch of chili flakes
3-4 tbsf of good quality soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper 

Mix all ingredients of the marinade together. Cut the tofu/paneer/cottage cheese in recatangular pieces. Lay them on a baking tray. Pour marinade all over. Add the whole pickles. Let stand for 10 mins. Bake at 420 for 40 mins and then at 450 for another 15-20 min. Alternatively, you can slow cook for 30 mins, followed by 5 min on high heat. You can even shallow stir fry (but I would recommend the slow cooking or baked.. There is something soothing about the recipe that way).
Serve warm with some wilted spinach topped with olive oil and garlic salt. Some jasmine rice on the side.

There was once a blank canvas. All we did was add color.

Happy eating and healthy living

Sep 11, 2011

Baked Whole Mackarel--- Greek-asian fusion

I know you may not like Mackerel. Or, do I know that?  
It seems to me that there are not many takers for this fish, which is full of flavor (a bit like blue fish, for all you east coasters), is meaty and oily, cheap and what's best?  Very low in mercury and dirt cheap (3$ per fish--big ones)

What stops us from eating it? 
Unfamiliarity does bad things to an excellent and flavorful source of vitamins, omega 3. But worst, it refrains us from eating something delectable and good for the earth too (not many things are, you must agree)

Of course, there are some of us who eat it, love it and would like the rest of you to join us. For the records, the Japanese eat it (salt cured Sushi), the Spanish eat it and so does a fair number of people in India. I have heard the French do it too. 

I have done it many ways. 
However, this one recipe was based on a combination of a vegetarian recipe and a Bitman recipe. I chanced upon fortuitously in Lynn Allley's 'Vegetarian slow cooker' (I know) and got started in the kitchen.  The recipe balances out the stronger flavors of the Mackarel (which some people don't like that much, but I adore), but enhances the subtle ones. 

All I can say, in words of Mark Bittman is ' don't knock it until you have tried it'

2 whole mackarel-- cleaned.

For the marinade
3 cloves of garlic--slivered
1/2 tsp of freshly grated ginger
3-4 tbsf of soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
A bit of chilli flakes

For filling
Some thyme stems
2-3 thing rings of lemon
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsf olive oil

In a shallow pan, or a baking tray, place the whole clean fish. Generously rub salt and pepper on all sides including within. Stuff the fish with lemon slices and Thyme springs. Score the fish i.e. cut 2-3 slices on one side. In a bowl mix together oil and all ingredients of the marinade. Spread all over the fish. Wait ten minuted

Bake for 20 min at 420F 
Slow cook for 20 min  (the gas burnet/heater is at the minimum setting). Follow by 5 min of very high cooking

Fish should be opaque for done-ness. Serve warm or immediately with some mashed potatoes and garden salad. Oh a bit of champagne may go really well.

Happy eating and healthy living.

Sep 5, 2011

Simple and Simplistic. The Debate goes on over Ramen with Pimenton shrimp and veggies

When is it simple and when is it, simplistic?

I have drawn criticism for a few recipes (one example being this one) that are apparently simplistic. Asked to clarify, the offendant tells me that recipes (those she deems to be too simplistic) require a few ingredients, needs no expert to make but can please the crowds. 

Can there be any such delicious recipes that has too few ingredients and is too easy to make? Can there be any such recipe that is too simple?

But, I do think that there are recipes that are simplistic, indeed :) Those we make and take joy in eating. But do not usually entertain with. And I am guilty as charged. Just not with the ones, I have been charged guilty with. Till date, there was no corpse to show. Today I unveil one of the crimes that  I commit every weekend.  A 'type recipe' that is not simple, but simplistic. But always a soul pleaser. Can't do away with that now, can we?

Ramen with Pimenton Shrimp and veggies. On a side note. This recipe is a method. You can very easily vary the spices and veggies to get awesome food (even healthy) from different flavored Ramen noodles they have in grocery. Try it. Occasionally :)

Ramen with Pimenton Shrimp and veggies

2 packets of Ramen. I like their new lemon shrimp. But the plain vanilla chicken or shrimp flavor will work just fine
2.5 cups of water or chicken broth.
A combination of crunch veggies. I half a pack of mushroom (sliced), a bell pepper (sliced), a medium onion (sliced). 
2 tomatoes cubed.
1 Serrano pepper (for heat)
A handful of shrimp. I like fresh
Cilantro for garnish.
1 tbsf garlic powder
1. 5 tbsf Pimenton. Pimenton is spanish Paprika. They come in all flavors. Smoked, sweet, hot. I like the smoked one for these
A tiny tiny pinch of chilli flakes
@ tbsf olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning

In a large pot, pour water, tomatoes and Serrano pepper. Bring to a boil. Boiling  broth (or water) with tomatoes and pepper adds flavor to the cooking medium for the Ramen, making them tasty from within. Add the seasonings that come with the Ramen. Stir. Add the Ramen. Lower heat and cook for 2-3 min till Ramen is soft but not mushy. Add the Pimenton, mix well. Add a bit of water if things get too dry. Season with a bit of pepper.
Dish up in two plate
While the Ramen is cooking, you may need some deftness at multi tasking. In a pan, heat 2 tsbf oilive oil. When screaming hot, add the veggies, mushroom. Stir fry for 2 mins. The crunch must be intact. I am using the word must here. So heed, fellow cookers. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Top each plate of Ramen with veggies.
Finally, after clearing off the veggies, add a bit of oil and add the shrimp. Season with a tiny amount of chili flake and salt. After 2 min, top off the Ramen-veggies with the shrimp. 
Garnish with Cilantro. And serve immediately. I mean right off the stove

All the work, the layering, the multi-tasking. Now that is not simple. But, this recipe does not call for nifty combination of ingredients that makes people go..hmmm. So ask me and I will tell ya, it is simplistic, to enjoy but not to be enjoyed with :)

Happy eating and healthy living.

Sep 1, 2011

Hello World...


hope, you have been blogging furiously. Some day (soon, I hope!), I will have the time to mule over lost contacts, and missed recipes--over a cup of tea. But for now, all I can say is  glad to be back.

As I was writing, the words, 'HelloWorld' I happen to remember my first class in programming. That seems from a few light years back. But truly, was about ten years, maybe? Right after high school, this was a summerof idling away time. But, when you idle away way too much, time gets boring. How amazing is that? Something is alluring, only when you chase it ? I delegate that feeling to crazy teenage years.

Back to what I was saying. So yes, this class...a 30 days workshop so to say to learn Java. I remember nothing of the course. I have never after used Java. I did not even develop the fondness for programming, that this workshop promised to do (that was their big agenda!). Interestingly, of all the conversations I had with instructors, new and old friends, of the work that i did (and did not), of the innumerable coffee and tea sessions, strangely I remember only two words


The first senetence we were taught to write in that Java course. And of course, wverything else that followed always started with HelloWorld.

Those are still the only two words, I can think of when anyone says programming :)

Now, why did I tell this anecdote? I have to say, I can't recall a bit. Just the word Hello, I would have to presume. Isn't it dismally wonderful how two universal words like hello and world reminds me of the one thing I care (understand) little about? :)

Someone said, a long time back, a word only means so much as the meaning that is conveyed between the speaker and the spoken. I believe it. I believe you all will know that I do mean I am wonderfully happy to be back. After a summer that has been full of swirls, mochas, ices and heats.

Starting with a wonderfully simple Rissotto, that has no cream, just a dollop of butter

A cup of arborio/ small grain Rice. You can use any. I did with Jasmine.
1 cup of lentil, soaked overnight. The cooking time of lentil is longer than rice, so the pre soak
2.5 cups of warm chicken or vegetable broth. You can use pure water too
2 biggish onion
3 tbsf butter
Salt and Pepper
Parsley  and shredded cheese ( I like Gouda) for garnish

In a pot, add the rice, lentil and broth/water. Put on low heat and cover. Cook for 10 min. Meanwhile, gently brown the onion in butter. Add the butter and onion mixture to the cooking rice. Cover and cook for another 15 min, on very low heat (if you are afraid of burning the rice, just put the whole thing in the oven--check for plastic handles!-- at 300 for 40 min). The Lentil maybe a little textured, and the rice a bit mushy. But that's all right. Season with salt and pepper. Turn of heat and leave covered till you are ready to serve.
Garnish with some shredded gouda/ any cheese will do. Some parsley and a dash of lime juice.

Have with some poached eggs, quiche (if you like). Wine if its past 10 AM :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jul 23, 2011

A recipe for 'Break ups' that don't hurt.

Break ups are fun? 
Always, when they are salted and buttered and has a French touch.
I suppose the only the French know how to break up without, hurting.  And here is a recipe for  that :) This recipe for these buttered French styled break ups is inspired from Around my French Table (Dorie Greenspan). A must buy.

1 and 3/4th cup of all purpose flour
2/3 rd cup of sugar
9 tbsf unsalted cold butter, cut into 18-20 pieces
3-5 tbsf cold water
3/4 tsp of salt
1 egg yolk (only the yolk), for the glaze
  •   Put the flour, sugar in the food processor and pulse to combine.
  • Add the butter cubes and keep pulsing till the mixture looks like a coarse meal
  • With the machine running, add water, one tbsf at a time, till the mixture resembles a dough. A very malleable dough
  •  Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can mix them using your in a big bowl. Keep in mind that the bowl should be big enough to ultimately hold all the ingredients.

  • Wrap the dough in a plastic and refrigerate it for an hour (or up to about two months!)
  • When you are ready to break up, take out the dough and divide into little golf size balls. Roll each into a 1/4th inch squarish shape and place on a baking tray
  • Alternatively, for a more professional touch, using a rolling pin (or for less professionalism, I have used my hands) make a rectangle out of the dough (the recipe says 1/4th inch think, 5 x 11 inches, but I have managed to get a 1/4th inch crude rectangle) 
  • Beat the egg yolk and brush  surface of each square (or the big square if you are going that way) with the egg.
  • With your fork, decorate each (or the entire surface of the big rectangle), in cross hatched pattern
  • Preheat the oven at 350 for 10 mins. Bake the cookie for 35-40 mins or until they are golden. They will be firm to touch and will have some spring in the center
The perfect ones will be firm outside and tender within. The somewhat homey ones (like mine) may even have  burnt edges. Either way the break ups will melt your heart, and won't hurt a bit :)

 Happy eating and healthy living!

Jul 9, 2011

Less is more: Tomato braised Cornish (or not) hens

Small is good.

But what is better?

Wait, you don't have to answer that! There are a million answers and all of those will be just as good as the one I give :

Lesser the better. Recipes that go minimal are often the best. 

But before we get into recipes that are more or less, a few words about cornish hens
I have heard about cornish hens for quite some time now. Never really felt the need to give these tiny tots a try. But of course, last weekend,  I and R did. I have to tell ya, I was not very impressed (Trust me, I was all set to). But somehow other than marginal ease of cutting the hen up, I could not find much to justify the price which is about five times higher than the ones I get--- organic free range whole chicken. Taste wise they are the same. Almost. And the bigger chicken feeds more and lasts a whole longer :)

One thing to note: Cornish hens cook quicker and look cuter on the dinner table :) Not a tiny fact, in my opinion

But the highlight of the recipe is the recipe of course, which I designed such that it did not over power the flavor of the chicken (that I was expecting to blow my mind). The only ingredient you will need are Tomatoes. Sweet, flavorful, grown in local gardens and should be picked up at the farmer's market. I do not use the word should lightly. But, when I do, it is not meant to be taken lightly either :)
I would not mind the slight extra payment for these gorgeous tomatoes. In fact, with these tomatoes of course, any good chicken will taste just as good and total cost of the recipe will be much much lower.

Bottom line: Invest in tomatoes. The hens (even the small Cornish ones) can be of lower price.
The end result was a delicious colorful and fragrant recipe:-- thyme infused tomatoes that I used to braise my grilled/broiled cornish hens. 

Ingredients for this dish needs to be of good quality, since we are going very minimal over here.

Tomatoes: really good quality sweet tomatoes. I very strongly recommend spending 4$/lb for 3 of these guys from your local farmers market. Do not use regular tomatoes from the grocery. The result will not be good
2-3 springs of thyme. You can use whole stems
A pinch of chili flakes
3 tbsf vegetable oil for broiling the chicken
2 tbsf garlic salt. You can use 1 tbsf freshly grated garlic too
1 tbsf salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 tbsf of good quality extra virgin olive oil. I like Spanish ones
Chicken/hen:-You can use 1 cornish hen. Cut it into breasts, things, legs. Or you can use a bone in skin on cut of any chicken. I would say about 1-1.5 lbs is good
1/3rd cup of hot water
A wedge of lime for garnish

Now to the process which is STRAIGHTFORWARD
Rub salt, pepper, about 2 tbsf vegetable oil and all that garlic (if you are using raw, try placing within the skin to protect it from burning under the broiler. Burnt' garlic tastes nasty). And broil it in the oven at high (450-500F) for 20 mins. Once done, take it out and let rest while you deal with the tomatoes.
In a skillet deep enough to hold all the chicken/hen, heat the remaining tbsf vegetable oil. Add the chili flakes and cubed tomatoes and thyme springs. Once a little soft (2 mins) add the broiled chicken and hot water (slowly release all the gorgeous tomato stuck at the bottom). Cook on low heat for another 10-15 mins. Salt and pepper carefully, you have already salted the chicken.
Fish out the thyme (I like to leave it in there for the country feel) and garnish with lemon. A dish for the summer, you bet

 Happy eating an healthy living!

Jun 29, 2011

Lamb Persilade

Seldom does one come across a technique that is so unique and straightforward, you are left to wonder, why do it any other way. And often times, the end products are deliciously rich and lean-- at the same time.

All you need are fresh ingredients and some patience.

Here is a lamb recipe, that is a great take on grilled lamb persilade ( A mixture of garlic, parsley and olive oil). The slow roasting allows for meat to cook in its own juices infused with all the fragrances that screams summer and green. Again Mr. Bittaman, you do it the minimal way :)

Lamb persilade: Watch the video for a good demo

1 lb of butterflied leg of lamb. Usually 10$/lb i.e. cheap. Has more meat than the leg per se. And has a hge surface area, that allows faster cooking and deeper infusion of flavors into the meat. But by all means if you want to splurge, go for ribs of lamb. I would say you could do thins with butterflied leg/breast of chicken and also maybe fatty fishes (like Haddock)
1/2 cup of parsley
1/2 cup pf cilantro leaves.
If you have a preferance for any one of those, go for a whole cup of your chosen varaity
A few springs of Thyme. I just learn't this. Thyme is the subtler variety of ajwain. So you can use Ajwain leaves for this one, just go very low ( a few leaves at most)
Zest of a lemon
Salt and pepper
a whole jalapeno
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/4th to 1/2 cup of fragrant olive oil. I like Sicilian and Spanish. But use whatever oil you have. But olive is what I will recommend

Puree everything together and you have a persilade. Smell the green summer paste. Chances are you will want to have it just like that.  Make slices all over the lamb/chicken/fish.Liberally salt the insides of the butterflied leg of lamb (or the thigh/ breast of the chicken OR all over the ribs OR the haddock cubes). Slap the insides of the butterflied leg of lamb (or the thigh/ breast of the chicken OR all over the ribs OR the haddock cubes)with the persilade. Wrap the meet like a sandwich. Just flip one side over the other. FOr ribs and fish of course you don't have to do this. Salt and persilade the upper surfaces of the meet sandwich.
Cook in the oven at 400F for 1 hour (for fish no more than 20 mins). The broil on high for 4-5 min for some browning.

Serve with some Lebanese flat bread, Indian bread and a bold dry red. I like Sicilian and Chianti.

Happy eating and healthy living

Jun 26, 2011

Southwestern Potatoes

There is not a lot when we think about southwestern food. At least...not me. 

That just shows how much there is still to learn. And with food..the learning is the fun thing. And a simple recipe by Mark Bittman was all it took to reveal this fantastic point of food..once again to me.
Apparently Bittman got inspired by this recipe on a flight! There must be something about this one that makes avid foodies learn new tricks.

You got to to try it to understand the fantastickness of this one

Mark Bittman

2 ears of corn. Husked, cleaned and shaved carefully as close to the stick as possible. Collect the corn and discard the stick.
1/2 cup of black bean, soaked overnight. Better still, you can use the ones from store. Drain the water of course.
1 jalapeno
2-3  potatoes. Coarsely cubed.
 A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup pf good quality cheese. Tangy varieties are best. I have pepper jack and Cheddar. Both worked great
1 tbsf lime juice
3 tbsf oil
Salt and pepper
cilantro for garnish
In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsf oil. Add the corn and the jalapeno. Brown the kernels for 2 mins..but don't dry it out. Plate up and reserve the corn.Add another 2 tbsf oil, and brown all the potatoes. Will take time. So don't rush. Once they are brown all over, reduce hear cover to cook through for 3 min. Add the corn back in the skillet. Add the beans, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. A bit of lime juice in here is good. Take the skillet off the stove, transfer to a oven friendly container, add the cheese cubes and broil for the cheese to melt in your broiler. If you don't have a broiler, just reduce heat on the stove to the lowest setting and let the cheese melt.May take 1-3 mins. But no more. 
Garnish with Cilantro

Have it on a Sunday morning. A southwestern style potato salad.

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jun 13, 2011

A bit of musings and a lot of ramblings. In a pot

A bit of food mood here. And a willingness to share.

1.' You cook because you want to cook, the kitchen is optional'. Can't agree more, Mr. Bittman

2. There is no better way to cook than looking at as many well written traditional cookbooks as possible. From as many places as possible. The pictures and the history and the story makes you want to create.

I currently have 6 hardbound ones on my Amazon shopping cart. A couple of names here, ' The Italian farmer;s table, My Tuscan Kitchen, The Arab tale, Olives and oranges'. Recently bought, "Around my French Table'. Dorrie Greenspan knows how to cook and tell a tale.

3. There is no alternative to imagination and a fabulous pair of knives. Chicken should slice as easy as butter. With lesser mess

4. Almond paste. Raspberry and blueberry extracts. Use these and you have a wholly different baking extravaganza. Yes, even with the simplest white cake. No. Not marzipan.

5. If you don't like garlic and chocolate and Ramen. Please refrain from food.

6. Berry Food. A new dessert favorite.

wait...this is turning out to be all about desserts..

7. Whole chicken tastes best when defrosted in the refrigerator for 3 days.

8. There is something wonderful about one pot cooking. The aroma and the simplicity. Almost any recipes can be made into one pot wonders. A quickie is smoked paprika, hot paprika, chicken, tons of onion and a bit of garlic, salt and pepper. Slow cooked. All goes in together, my loves.

9. Talking of Paprika. Is there anything remotely lovelier than this spice. Smoked, hot, sweet, Spanish pimmenton (Spanish smoked paprika), from cyprus, from sicily. Each smells of the earth on which it grew.And I have spent money galore on having these at my disposal. Cooking just became poetry.

10. There is a world of difference between organic and conventional.

11. Milk is a good substitute for hot water. So is broth. But hot water works just as well

12. Hard Cheese, olives. breads and some smoked sardine. Okay throw in some Spanish or Sicilian Olive oil. Summer summer...where art thou? Right here honey..under the olive tree by the river.
I don't like the Greek version much. Oh, loves these are extra virgin extra delicate ones. Use olive oil, when cooking. And extra virgins for the love of it :)

13. Saffron and Pistachio reminds me of ice creams that I don't like. I steer away from them.

14. Talking of ice creams. Strawberry and chocolate are the only ones I will ever have. Yesterday, once more?

15. Of cheese and wine: Okay..first the cheese. A recent love. Smoked Gouda, Havarti, Brie are my favorites. Dislike cheddar and parmigiana. Goat with some herbs, olive oil, garlic and pepper corns are a thing of beauty and a joy forever

16. What about it? Wine. Red and dry. I like the Sicilian ones, Chianti and any cabernet Sauvignion. Whites are for cooking. Okay not Riesling. They say Riesling is from the mountains. Sure smells like those.And sweets are for ....

17. Bread:All kinds. All. All..and loves. All of them

18. I have to say I have a thing against butter tikka masala. The name of the dish? Both. I forget. It was created by the British. Fie Fie.

19. Bengali food is loverly. Kerala is God like. But the best is from the mountains of the north east. The smoke, the charring and the noodles. Scallion, garlic oil over boiled noodles. Darjeeling tea..and food at its rustic best

21. Mark Bittman, Rachel Ray and myself. We love the kitchen and we love to gab. And we love simplicity.

20. There is no job better than a food writer. Who travels. In spirit.

Happy eating ad healthy living.

Jun 4, 2011

Tortillitas-- A savory pancake. To wander or wonder?

When one thinks of it Madrid..or Malaga that one thinks of?

I tend to think of a month of walking. You heard right. Walking through the back countries of Spain. Stopping only for the infinite variety of local food and the wine.  Always the Wine, Olives, home made cheese bread. Taverns and music. Summer Sun and the occasional thunder storm. 

Spain is the absolute best that the old world can offer..

uh uh arguments. We are just wandering or wondering..are we? :) 

Mark Bittman, of course gets to write about his journey. And I am afraid in not so romantic, terms but of course delightful no less.  And of all the recipes, he throws out, I tend to like this the most. 

Of course, Mr, Bittman, I quickly discovered, as always, this was a technique to quench the travel bug that hits us all the time. From nowhere and then vanishes into nowhere leaving us feeling hungry and a tad sad... Of course with Tortillitas, there is a solution to this bug. One can make this as Spanish, as Indian, as anywhere in the world the mind wants to wander or wonder about.
Here is my take on the savory pancakes. Not very Spanish,  I am afraid, but somewhat a mix of Sicilian with a hint of smokiness. For the very very original from Toscana Taverna (meaning Tuscan tavern) in Madrid,  please follow the above link :)

For a trip down Sicilian coastline, follow me. Or follow your heart if you are the occasional foodie adventurer


1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 a tsp of smoked paprika. You can use smoked Spanish paprika (pimmenton) or Hungarian Paprika.
2 cloves of garlic. Finely minced

1/3 cup chopped green onion or scallions
About 1/2 cup tinned sardine. Please use smoked ones in olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives, parsley, thyme or cilantro
1/2 tsp of orange zest
2-3 tbsf Olive oil.

1. In a bowl, combine flours and baking powder with salt and pepper. Add a little more than a cup of water and stir to combine; consistency should resemble pancake batter (if batter is too thick, add more water, a little at a time). Stir in the green onions, chopped sardines, zest, paprika, garlic and herbs.
2. Put a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and film its bottom generously with olive oil. When oil is hot, pour in half the batter until it fills center of pan; spread gently with a spoon to form a large pancake.
3. Cook about 3 minutes, or until pancake is set around edges; flip pancake and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, then flip it again and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until it is crisp on outside but still moist inside. Remove from pan and serve immediately, while remaining batter cooks.

And you have the magic tortolittas to take you to Sicily...or wherever your heart choses and yet fears to go?

Happy eating and healthy living!

May 23, 2011

Mustard-chili garlic flavored vegetable Gnocchi-- what is so Italian about it anyway?

You can't get creative, unless there are constraints.

All in favor..stay tuned to this post.

Now that I have been living alone for sometime (soon to be over as R is joining me in a day or so), my grocery list has to say it...' longer shelf life'. That is good. And not so, as well. You see, if I buy something, then I must come up with recipes to use them (I am a compulsive cook. I cannot exist without venturing into the kitchen. Just 15 minutes with all the flavors and the stress just drains away). And that means having to find ways of making so called ' incompatible' ingredients marry each other.
I find this job surprisingly easy. Mixing and matching and pots and pans--quite the wizard in the kitchen. The elf in the window is a fun experience. And believe it or not, the recipes that come out of those thoughts are really some of the most flavorful and unique ones, I have so far been able to conjure up. 

Take yesterday. I had panko (Japanese bread crumbs), some gnocchi (Italian potato pasta), lot of veggies ( I always have tons on hand) and whole mustard (a thoroughly Indian spice). The result was this awesome, flavorful pasta dish that is treat for the eyes, heart and the belly. Take a look at the 

Mustard-chili garlic flavored vegetable Gnocchi

1/2 a pack of gnocchi
1 small onion
2 medium tomatoes. Cubed
Slices carrots (1/2 cup)
sliced mushrooms (2-3 cup)
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp Tomato-Basil seasoning.
 2 handful of panko 
1/2 tsp pf whole mustard
1/4th tsp pf dried chili flakes
1 tsp of good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Some basil and a slice of lime for garnish

Prepare Gnocchi according to package directions. But all you do is heat tons of water till it come to a boil. Add salt liberally. Throw in the Gnocchi. And cook for 8-10 mins. Drain and reserve

That said, lets get to food. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard and chili flakes till they sizzle. Add all the other ingredients. Cook for 3-4 mins till the tomatoes break a bit, the onion  and mushroom softens. 

Add the panko. Stir for a minute. Add the gnocchi. Stir and toss. Season with salt, pepper and tomato Basil seasoning.
Garnish with Basil and a slice of lime.  
Have it hot.

And never say incompatible..ever :)

Happy eating and healthy living!!

May 18, 2011

A word about Pizza

As if... there was still even the remnants of a letter left to be said on this subject.

But even when the last of the very last words have been spoken--about anything, for that matter--- there still is the epilogue. So I, decide to write the epilogue for the age old ...Pizza.

No problems, I suppose?
You will have some in a minute..I promise :)

I was born a pizza hater. Ever since I heard the word Pizza, almost fifteen years ago, from a cousin who went to study food management....I knew, absolutely knew, I would not like it. And the first bite was almost my last, some fifteen years ago. Seven years later, when I first moved to the United States, I hated the smell of pizza. Stale drippy cheese 'topped' with some chunks of stuff which smelt equally stale and infinitely revolting. Hello! Domino's, Pizza Huts and Papa John's and all of you, I hope you are reading this post :)

I still do. I mean, hate the low cost-stale-smelling Pizza. Luckily, I was introduced, by sheer chance, to gourmet Pizza in the last couple of years. And here I must mention the wood fried, thin crust, mostly veggie pizza from Regent's Pizzeria in San Diego. Right by where I live. I still remember the first bite. Garlic, basil, tomato and light warm cheese and crusty edge. Me and R (a fellow pizza hater) had one of the best pizza that night. I was a convert from that moment.

Ever since that fatefully lucky nite,  I have been open to gourmet pizza. A world away from pizza. And yet there is no mistaking the pizzaness in these dressed up versions. Last week although, I discovered  two of the best gourmet pizza places I have had the chance of eating in. One of them is Oggi in Cambridge, MA and the other is ..I have to look that one up. But it is right in Harvard square. You cannot miss the queues in front of that store.

By no means the only two... as I have told you, I am open to a lot of them. But these are difficult to beat. 

Deliciousness in every cent of the 2.50$ a slice and flavor in every breath between the bites. Fresh ingredients. Really creative combination. They are gourmet without a price tag. I crave one of these every day. Not that I give in....but says much about the place when a pizza hater craves a bite.

If you are town and care for some good pizza...come by to these places. For an experience that is locally gourmet.

My favorite in both these places...or actually even in Regent's too is tomato, basil, roasted garlic and eggplant. Bit of red pepper flakes and some time on your hand. I have to say. An Indian from India, with no palette for pizza and cheese votes for the right to write an epilogue on Pizza :)

But then I started hating red of starting with the wrong food :) I meant foot, of course.

Happy eating and healthy living!

May 12, 2011

All about Mushrooms

You heard right! lately it has all been about the fungus that tastes so rustically.... good

I know a lot of people who trashes mushrooms. The pretexts? No flavor, strange texture, fishy smell...the list is as endless as is baffling. Anyways, I seem to love this one. For all the reasons it is un justifiably hated. It has a subtle rustic flavor, that gets enhanced when lightly sauteed with fresh ingredients. The fresher the ingredients, the lighter the sauteeing and the more flavor you can build on it, the better it gets.

I have been having some form of mushroom for a couple of weeks now. Here is how it goes.

Usually it has capers, bell peppers, roma tomatoes, some bit of onion, a heavy dose of garlic and the best smelling Sicilian extra virgin olive oil. Sauteed on low heat for no more than a minute or two and had with tons of pepper, basil (or sage). With some crusty bread and smoked salmon (or canned sardines) on the side. A glass of red is always a great thing of course :)

Summer is here..and the bloom continues.

Happy eating and healthy living!

May 5, 2011

Right of the packages-- Sardines and mushroom with Gnocchi and Tomatoes

We all have those days. So you will know the feeling

Away from home. Tons of work. Stress building up. No time for major food adventures with food?  That can't be true! The best thing about food is that it is an adventure. A gourmet burger at a fancy restaurant or a bowl of Ramen. As the warm food finds its way to your table, the adventure begins...
 Only when you cook, though...the fun begins with the grocery store. And in the midst of all that stress and blues, a bit of color and fiddling in the kitchen sure does good for the nerves, not to mention the stomach. 
Today I share with you a simple meal that you can whizz up from semi cooked stuff, but will make you feel at home...anywhere and anytime. 

Sardines and mushrooms with Gnocchi-tomato-basil

A couple of big cloves of garlic, minced
One green pepper
Handful of mushrooms. I like baby bellas. Sliced.
A handful of baby spinach
1 handful of Roma tomatoes, halved. Feel free to use any tomatoes
Two cans of smoked sardines. In olive oil, please
1 tsp of your favorite herb. I like Basil.
Half a packet of gnocchi.
Salt and pepper to taste

All you need is an appetite for good food and some adventure :)

Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and reserve. In a skillet, add all the other ingredients. Saute briefly. The oil of the sardines is all you need. Add the Gnocchi. Saute for another minute. Serve it and have it...with some dry red to boot

A cure for yourself...and others
Happy eating and healthy living!

Apr 28, 2011

Party with a salsa chicken salad...a carribean one at that :)

As the heat turns on way before the beginning of the official summer of 2011 (we ain't complaining though!), time for some of the Caribbean stuff. Mango, fruits and citrus with some of the oomph of Basmati and some of the ouch of jalapeno roasted grilled chicken..

Mango-pineapple and pepper Chicken Rice salad: Recipe adapted from The NYtimes.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks . You can use the regular breasts too
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems 
One smallish onion. Sliced
1 big tomato. Sliced
One red bell pepper
One green pepper
1 big jalapeno sliced thinly.
1 large mango, cut into small cubes (or use 2 small mangoes). 
1/2 a cup of chunked pineapple.
1/4  cup or a bit less of almonds or cashews. optional!
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 tbsf Worcestershire sauce
A pinch cayenne
2 tbsf  olive oil

Let the parrty begin :) Hey we have all the colors and all the oomphs and ahh's. So it is got to be a party :)

Prepare Basmati according to package directions. Plate it on the salad dish, once done.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cashews and sugar-spice mixture to the skillet; cook, stirring, until nuts are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape nuts into a bowl. 

Wipe out skillet with a paper towel. Season chicken all over with salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add scallions and cilantro stems; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add garlic, jalapeno and chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Add the onion and peppers and saute for another minute Pour in the Worcestershire and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute.
Remove pan from heat and immediately add nuts, mango, tomato, vinegar and cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve over the bed of Basmati

Have it with some margarita...summer is just begining :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Apr 5, 2011

An Indian and a cooking Hat.

Sometimes, very rare times of course,  you just feel proud of what you have. Just plain proud.

I made this? I made...this? I made, this? I made thiss!

That is how it feels like :) 
A couple of days ago an Indian came to dinner. And this recipe is inspired by that dinner. It goes something like this...something like this ....

"The Indian came to dinner at my place. My place, for very odd reasons, is known for its food, but not for  the Indian ness in food. That is odd...given that I make Indian food quite a lot. But of course there must be a wink and nudge to some dish that had my fancy that very moment. So  that afternoon, I set out to make the most Indian of all dishes there ever was. And I looked into old cookbooks, I looked into new blog posts. And I looked every where for the most Indian flavored recipe I could find.

There was a ton of them. A whole afternoon of spices and flavors in my head. As the sun begin to set on the Indian food empire,  I set my stove on fire. But before the hard gathered knowledge could take to fire, I happened to duck under the cabinets to put on my Cooking Hat. 

The moment I had the hat on the knowledge disappeared. The only thing I was left with were the lovely Indian flavors and my cooking hat. The result was this Italian inspired Indian recipe. With Tofu-Mushroom and tomatoes flavored with garlic and fenugreek.

The Indian came to dinner. We had wine, spoke of politics and all the things that mattered till of course you sat down to dinner. Long after the long long dinner, the satiated looking Indian told me  It was one of the best dishes he had had so far. 
....But it was not quite Indian.'

Here is that recipe that made me proud at the begining of the story but let me down at the end :) It was delicious :)

Roasted Tofu-Mushroom in garlic and fenugreek flavored tomato sauce

A pack of extra firm tofu. The firmest you can find. Drain and cut into bite size cubes
A pack of mushrooms. Cleaned with a damp towel.Never wash. And sliced into two.
2 big tomatoes. cubed
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic. minced
1/2 a tsp of fenugreek.
1/2 cup of unsweateened coconut powder/flakes. Plus some for garnish
Lemon juice of 1/ lemon
1/2 cup of hot water
Half a cup of cilantro for garnish
3 tbsf of olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning

In a baking tray, arrange the tofu cubes and mushroom. Drizzle with two tbsf oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 F for 30 mins. Alternatively shallow fry in batches. In a deep pot, heat 1 tbsf oil. Add the fresh tomatoes and garlic. Saute for a couple of mins. Add the fenugreek and the fire roasted tomatoes. Mix together well. Add the tofu and mushroom. Add the water. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Add the coconut and let everything marry for 5-7 mins. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
Take it off the stove, ladle in bowls and garnish with cilantro and a little powdered coconut

For a very very Italian in the Indian :)

Happy eating and healthy living!

Mar 17, 2011

Braised chicken and vegetable: one-pot one-stop wonder

A friend currently pointed out that my weekly blog has turned into a biweekly, maybe kind of post place.
Feels good to me missed and yet guilty to have not posted. But more importantly...


Thank you dear Subrashish (the obsessive blogger with a passion for interesting history  of 'stuff') for reminding me of what I love to do.

Return of the prodigal daughter (I am not very prodigal, am I?) is best celebrated with a simple hearty french dish that I have been making quite a lot. A simple chicken and veggie one pot wonder that h is perfect for spring. Has all the flavors of the retreating winter and the upcoming spring. But be aware, the wonder comes at a cost of no spices and and  hence you would need the freshest vegetables in town (dig rabbits dig). Who needs a whole lot of stuff when ingredients are nice and juicy. Fresh and creamy :)

Braised chicken and vegetable: one-pot one-stop wonder and leaves a spring in its wake

2-3 lbs of chicken. Bone in. You can leave the skin on. You can also use lamb for this one.
1 big onion. Coarsely sliced
A bunch of small carrots (not baby ones) with their tops intact and slightly trimmed
A cup of peas. Whole or just pods are fine
4-5 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of chicken stock or hot water
1 big lemon. Zest and juice the lemons 
Olives (optional)

In a pot, heat oil. Add the chicken/lamb and brown on all sides. About 4 min on one side and 2-3 mins on the other. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, peas and mix well together. Add the hot water/stock slowly scrapping all the bits at the bottom. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat, add the zest and juice and let it cook covered on low heat for ~ 45 mins to an hour. Add olives and mix well. Let cook for another 10 mins.

Is delish with the new red potatoes of spring and gas of hearty Red :)

Spring is here!

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 28, 2011

Coconut chicken-- from the backwaters of Kerela. A largely unknown cusine from India

What is about white flakes that enthrall us?

To many white flakes suggests warm soups and log fires in cottages. To a few, I know it suggests holiday seasons and baking bonanza. To me, however it speaks of sand Vistas of flaky tropical sands stretching by blue lagoons and backwaters. Nope its not a dream. This vision comes to life in many a tropical islands. But one place such a vision makes it stand is Kerela. The lagoonal back country where legends have it that God once lived. Along the shores of the Arabian Sea, this back country in India boasts some of the most exotic and yet largely unknown cuisine of India.  

Based broadly on coconut products, the cuisine is fragrant, light and flavorful. Idyllic to boot and absent in restaurants :)

A treat for beach and tropical food lovers, edibles in kerala are scented with the seductive smells of coconut, mustard and herbs. A retreat into the lagoonal world of white sands and flaky coconuts with coconut chicken. 

All you need is a sense of bliss and a few ingredients

Very important: A packet of good quality unsweetened coconut flakes. You find them usually in whole foods or any regular groceris these days. Just ask :)
2 lb chicken. Bone in with some skin. Pieced as you see fit. But not too big. You can do drumsticks and bone in thighs too.
1.5 cups of coconut
2 cardamom, 
a few cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of grated garlic
1 tsp of freshly grated ginger
1 medium onion, chopped.
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of coconut water. You can use warm water or chicken stock as well
1/2 a lemon or lime
3 tbsf olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot, heat oil. Once oil is hot, add the cloves and cardamom. Let sizzle for a few secs. Add the onion and brown em'. 2-3 mins. Add the chicken and fry for 5-6 min, turning a few times. Take 1/2 cup of coconut, mix it it with  a cup of the coconut water/water/stock and turmeric. Add it to the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Put a lid and cook through. 10 min. Open the lid, let the water dry out and oil separate out. 10 min. Add the ginger, garlic, bay leaf, milk and the remaining coconut. Mix everything well together. Let cook again for 5-7 mins. Add the juice of half a lemon.

Serve over a bed of jasmine rice. A re-treat or wat? :) A margarita on the rocks ain't a bad idea either :)

 ~ Happy eating and Healthy living~

Feb 22, 2011


It is such a misnomer. One cannot chill with a Chili!

But its one food that you never go wrong with. And this version-- adapted from dear old Rach--allows you to be creative (read crazy) and cuts down on time, calories and regime. So much so that there is time to chill for a whole day once you got a plate full of this stuff on a Sunday brunch :)

Here is a recipe for chili that lets you chill out :)  All I ask is you have 30 or so minutes and some ground lean meat.

1 lb (one package) of lean ground meat. I use Turkey. But lean beef or pork or chicken is good as well
1 lb of sausage. Try to use one which has some paprika in it. Reddish in color. Again chicken, turkey etc is good.Take the casing off.
2 cans of black beans.
1.5 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of cayenne pepper.
1 tsp of paprika
2 tbsf Wostershire sauce. You can also use some red wine vinegar or balsamic. But try to go with the wostershire. Its good
4-5 tomatoes. Crushed in a food processor. You can also just use a can of tomatoes
2 tbsf olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of chicken stock. You can also substitute with hot water.

For the garnish
Plain yoghurt
Some sliced ripe avocados
A slice of lime


Heat oil in a deep pot. Add the sausage and the ground meat. Break up with your spatula as you go. And brown well on all sides. About 5 mins. Add the wostershire sauce, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper. Cook for about 1 min. Add the beans and the tomatoes. Mix and cook for another 3 mins. Add the stock/water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10-15 min. Add water/stock if food starts sticking to the bottom.

Plate up and garnish with cilantro, yoghurt and avocados. A brunch that will see see you through the day!

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 15, 2011

Garlic nut coated sphagetti and cumin treated salmon

They say tis the day of love.

To me there is no love that can be shared and enjoyed better than a wholesome dinner and a bit of cheap wine on the side.

Garlicky nut coated spaghetti and cumin treated salmon.
A piece of my love to each one of you :)

Garlic-Nut Spaghetti
Mix together the following in a food processor
4 cloves of garlic, 1/3rd cup of toasted pine/almond/walnut, salt, pepper and 3 tbsf olive oil.
Make half a packet of spaghetti as per package direction. Drain and toss with the nut mixture
Serve warm or cold. Good either way

Cumin treated salmon
Place two center fillets of salmon on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1.5 tbsf olive oil in a skillet and pop 1 tbsf whole cumin and 1/2 tsp of chili flakes.  Pour the entire mixture over and around the salmon fillets. Bake at 425 F for 15-20 min.

Serve with some love and a bit of heat

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 5, 2011

Fish stew-- beachy flavors from the mediterranean to Indian ocean

I am no Mario Batali or Mark Bitman who gets to take a culinary road trip down the Spanish back country with Gweneth Paltrow in tow. 

I am like you. 
I order a book of that journey on Amazon. At the minimum price and track that package every day. But, I have a sense of what that road trip may have involved.
A stop at tavern to smell the pimenton followed by a lazy afternoon spent at a back country tomato garden. The gardener had the most lovely homemade wine to offer. On the way back to the hotel, a stop at the local farmer's store. Juicy sweet onions, a bag of the fresh peppers (red, orange, green), wild garlic. And oh yes lets not forget some good old fashioned freshly toasted cumin. A local bottle of wine may be a casual pick up.

You get that picture.
I like to add the touch to that journey, with some coconut powder and some curry leaves. I am a hopeless coconutaholic, which just means I need no encouragement whatsoever to use coconut. The reason I think about coconut in this journey, has to do with the fact that I love the golden and warm beaches of India as much as I like the thought of walking through Spanish back country reading a Hungarian cookbook that I don't understand. A tribute to all that is good about beaches and beachy fare. It can only be done perfect with some  fish. 
A fish stew that is a wink and nudge to all the beachy flavors!

1 big fish. I like sea bass, trout, sardines or snapper. Cleaned cut into big chunks. 
Marinated with 1 tsp of chopped garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of turmeric, a dash of lemon, a dash of vinegar, salt and pepper. Wait 20 mins.
1 big onion. Sliced
2 peppers. Any combination of color or monochrome works too. Sliced coarsely
3-4 medium tomatoes. Pureed in a food processor.
1 tbsf of chopped garlic
1 tbsf smoked paprika. Regular works too.
1/2 tbsf powdered cumin
1/2 tsp of whole mustard seeds
3-4 red dried chili peppers
5-6 curry leaves. Optional and can be substituted with any herbs. I like Dill and or Oregano
2-3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 cup of unsweetened coconut powder/flakes
1. 5 cups of warm water
2 tbsf oil +1 tbsf oil for broiling fish.
salt and pepper to taste

Stew away!
Broil fish for 20 mins  turning once. You can also shallow fry your fish.
In a pan, heat 2 tbsf oil. Add the garlic, cloves, bay leaf, curry leaves, whole mustard, onion, curry leaves and bell peppers and chili peppers. Fry for ~ 3-4 mins. Add the paprika and cumin. fry for no longer than a minute. Don't burn the lovely paprika! Add the pureed tomato juice. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water and let it come up to a boil. Add the broiled/shallow fried fish and the coconut. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let everything stew. 10 mins.

Serve over a bed of warm rice or with flat bread. A side garden salad helps :) And do not forget the rustic red wine to go with it. No white for this one

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 1, 2011

A new blog!

A new blog is in order.

Okay..friends and long time supporters of this blog need to feel bad. For this blog, food.thought for is now going to become a weekly blog-- a post every Sunday morning-- featuring the usual. Stories, recipes and musings.

But starting today February first (mark your calenders) I will write another blog. A daily food blog featuring veggie and fruity side dishes, appetizers and desserts! No fuss, no rush, no grand ideas. Simple, unique  recipes that can be tweaked any which way. Even to accommodate your protein, should you need it terribly :)

The name is ...drumrollls please

A Veggie Roller coaster!!

Featuring daily recipes of a veggie side/appetizer etc.

The idea came from my garden. Yes, the one that I have been tending for the last 6 months and have now started reaping the bonanza. Herbs and produce. I feel I should and must share those recipes and flavors :) So here is what that garden, the produce and bounty of herbs look like :)
So see you all around and as always

Happy eating and healthy living!

Jan 27, 2011

Task of creating tastes without the vice. Savory herb infused cakes

Seems like a long time back when I heard that life isn't about tasks, it is also about tastes. 

But sometimes it seems that such tastes often come at a price that we end up paying in terms of calories, among other things that we wish we did not have to pay. When the king of a distant land said that life is about tastes, he probably did not have to think of the task  of making food the way we do  and with the things we have, now. He could take hours at a breakfast table, go riding, take a hot soak and then go..I don't know. Somewhere where I can't go. And nor can you for that matter. Ad return to well laid tables full of fantastic casseroles and souffles.

And with all the handicaps I have the King of the distant land did not-- a lab to go to, articles to write, walks to take, gardening to do,cook -- I still think I have a better life over that king.  You know why?

I am living my life first hand. And nowhere am I living it better or more in touch with reality than when I am makin food. I pity that king who had only the idea of tastes. But no idea about the lovely task of creating that taste. I feel I have a privilage, something I am sure you guys will agree because love the task of creating the tastes that wowed the king of the distant land but with a little less of the vices. 

And here is one table that I laid, that I think surpasses a king's table. Set on a lovely sunny january morning, here is what we had for breakfast

A fruit and veggie salad-- with ingredients and herbs from my home grown garden
And ...french savory herb infused cakes--without bacon, cheese and cream. But with yogurt and milk.  

Did you know that yogurt was a really great substitute for cheese, especially in savory cakes? And that you could use mushrooms to get over bacon?

You won't miss out on any of the grand taste and you can even feel great about makin eat and eatin it.

Here is a recipe for the savory herb cake!

 1/2 cup of milk. I used 2% reduced. But you can use whole milk or even light cream
1 tsp of fresh or dried rosemary
1 Pack of mushrooms, sliced. Good substitute for Bacon
3 cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 heaping cup of all purpose flour
2 tsp of baking powder
5 medium eggs
6 tbsf of olive oil
1 cup of yogurt mixed. A very good substitute for cheese.
2 tbsf oregano
1 tbsf dried or fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

How to do it

Preheat oven to 350F

  • Bring the half of the milk to a boil and add the rosemary. Stir well. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Strain the milk and discard the rosemary.
  • In a skillet, heat 2 tbsf olive oil. Add the sliced mushroom and garlic and fry for about 3 mins. Till mushroom turns deep brown.Cool
  • In a bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. With a whisk beat in the eggs one after the other, beating well after every addition. 
  • Add the rosemary infused milk and 4 tbsf of olive oil.
  • Stir in the fried mushroom and garlic, yogurt, oregano, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Pour into a 9 inch bread pan and bake for 35-40 min, till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in the racks for 5-10 mins

Slice and serve while still warm

All that's french and grand  but without the vice :)

Happy eating and healthy living!