It needn’t be..

Oh sure, it’s rainy, and cloudy, and dull, and all sorts of grey. The raindrops are caught between being drops of water and flakes of snow – which is quite magical really. An optical illusion almost.

But everything needn’t be given up as a lost cause. Like this soup, for example:

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Spinach noodle soup with poached eggs – Fine Cooking Magazine

The simple, heartwarming goodness of spinach and the golden, sunny orb of an egg yolk.

In a 4 to 5 quart pan, heat 1 tbsp oil, add ½ small finely chopped onion, and cook until translucent. Add 6 cups of broth/stock, 1 smashed clove garlic, 2 thin slices of ginger, and kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Add 6 oz ramen noodles (discard the seasoning), 1 oz. baby spinach and cook, stirring to break apart the noodles, about 1 minute. Crack 2 large eggs into the pot, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit until the whites have set, about 3 minutes. Serve with a dash of sriracha.

Note:

  1. I used Knorr vegetable bouillon instead of stock.
  2. I did not use ginger.
  3. To poach the eggs, I simmered the soup, covered, for about 4 minutes on low heat instead of turning off the heat.
  4. And I sprinkled it with red chilli flakes instead of the sriracha sauce.
  5. Next time, I am thinking of adding fresh basil and mint to it.

It was umm..umm..good!! Just what the climate ordered!

Noodles you say?

A little bit of this and that today.

I am thinking of starting a Facebook page for my art. Such as it maybe. It might motivate me to “make time” to paint more, create more.

Why do we put aside, so easily, that which feeds our soul?

And speaking of feeding souls, I want to share with you a very simple Chinese noodle recipe. It is so simple and yet so flavourful.

1/8 to 1/4 cup oil
8 stalks of spring onion, chopped, a handful of the greens set aside for garnishing.
1/4 of a cabbage, finely chopped
*1 to 2 green chillies or Thai red chillies, each slit in half
2 decent pinches of ajinomoto
Salt to taste
1 10 oz. pkg of Wel-Pac Lo Mein Egg Noodles

*(I used 5 chillies because we like our food spicy. Very spicy. ;D)

1. Heat oil in a wok on high heat. When it’s smoking hot, add the spring onions, ajinomoto, chillies and cabbage in quick succession.
2. Add salt.
3. Stir fry, stirring almost constantly for 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
4. Cook noodles according to directions on the package. Drain.
5. Reheat cabbage mix, add noodles and stir fry for a couple of minutes until thoroughly mixed.
6. Garnish with the spring onion greens.
Serve piping hot with your favourite Chinese curry.

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But the noodles were so delicious that I just ate them without the curry!

Bon Apetit!

Un peu de Paris…et Pizza.

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My heart still trembles to think of it. I have been to Paris. Spent a week in her lap, walking, walking…simply walking, and breathing in all that is Paris. Even the street names sounded so pretty, rolling off the tongue with their exquisite foreignness. Rue de Rivoli, Rue Montmartre, Avenue du Champs-Elysees, Rue des Mauvais Garcon, Rue de Louvre, Rue de…well…

In the heart of Paris, close to Montparnasse, is where we had the most exquisite pizza of our lives. Pizza Margherite. Every mouthful was a saucy, cheesy delight. And it helped that we were desperately hungry. The anticipation was at a pitch and the pizza did not disappoint. Now every single pizza that we taste gets held up to the one we had in ‘Paree’. Tough, I know. But there it is. We must all have a dream.

Making a ‘good’ pizza has ever been a challenge. Either the crust is too doughy or too wafer-y or too undercooked or too overcooked…

But this time..it was different.

The dough (Olive oil dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day):

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2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 packets yeast – I believe 2 tbsp..
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary (optional)
6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1. Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and rosemary with the water in a 5 qt bowl.
2. Mix in flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon, until all the flour is incorporated.
3. Let rest approximately 2 hours.

Note: The rosemary is our addition.
More importantly, I used half the recipe. It made 4, approximately 9″-10″ pizzas.

The sauce:

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1/4 cup olive oil
4 pods of garlic, minced or crushed
1 28 oz. can Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil and add garlic. Saute for 15 seconds.
2. Add the sage and oregano, stir for a quick second.
3. Add the tomatoes. Mash them roughly with your spatula.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes, until thickened. Cool.
6. Grind.

Light the fire. Call on the grill.

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Do you smell the fire? That sizzling charcoal-y earthiness?

While the heat is raking over the coals, lets put the pizza together…

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Divide the dough into 4 equal sized balls.
Stretch, roll each one out into an approximately 9″ round, 1/8″ thick base.
(We made them one at a time so the dough did not get soggy from the sauce.)
Top with sauce, mozarella, and toppings of your choice.

Put it on the grill, at 450, for about 8 minutes.

Note: We use the Green Egg and the outside temperature read 350.

And viola: Pizza a` Paris.

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Well….maybe not precisely…but close enough. 😉

Bon Apetit, mes amis!!!

A votre sante`!

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I cannot write, therefore I bake.

I ground my woes with cinnamon;
added heat to my argument with ginger;
spiced up the lack thereof with cloves;
threw in an almond-y nuttiness for good measure;
And I baked it all with a dash of my literary woes.

Result?

A silly, not so rhyme-y rhyme and,

some mindstoppingly delicious almond gingerbread biscottis.

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There has been a certain lack of poetic zingyness around my innards lately. But that is alright. I have faith. I will catch the tail end of that wind soon enough and soar once again to new poetic heights. Well, at least one can hope. It’s all in the attitude, right?

But until then, I will make do with these!

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There is nothing a little sweetness cannot cure.

Recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/12/gingerbread-biscotti/

Simple meals.

Some days, one’s palette craves for something simple and elegant. Unpretentious, soulful and deeply satisfying.

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Pasta with olive oil, garlic and fresh parsley.

1/4 cup olive oil

{We use Pompeian Olive Oil which is hands down the best we’ve had so far.}

7 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise

4 Morning Star sausage links, at room temperature and finely chopped

1/2 a bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1/2 package of Angel Hair Pasta, cooked and drained

Heat oil, add the garlic and saute for a few minutes.

Add the sausage and stir quickly for a couple of minutes. You will have to stir or the sausage will stick to the pan.

Add salt to taste and the pasta. Toss until well coated.

Add parsley and serve.

Accompanied by…..

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Rosemary, Olive oil Focaccia.

Mixing

2 3/4 cups lukewarm water

2 tbsp (2 packets) granulated yeast

1 1/2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp dried rosemary

1/2 cup olives, finely chopped

6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, rosemary, olives with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14 cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you are not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.

{I usually make only half this recipe.}

Baking

{Using half the recipe}

Twenty minutes before baking, pre-heat oven to 425 F.

Grease a cookie sheet with a little bit of olive oil or line with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.

Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.

Gently shape it into a rectangular shape using your hands and place it onto the cookie sheet. Continue pressing lightly and spreading the dough across the sheet until you cover most of the surface area.

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Drizzle a wee bit of olive oil over the dough and let it rest and rise, uncovered, for 20  minutes.

After the Focaccia has rested, place the cookie sheet on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is medium brown.

{I only have to bake it for about 20 minutes.}

Cut into slices and serve warm.

This recipe is from the book ‘Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day‘ by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

{With a couple of modifications by moi.}

And this was followed by……

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Banana Almond Milkshake

2 ripe bananas

1 cup Vitamin D milk

1 cup Almond milk

1 (5.3 oz) Dannon Oikos original yogurt, any flavor

A dash of vanilla essence (optional)

Put in a blender and blend. It is yummy!! Not too sweet, but sweet enough. ❤

What better than soup for a sore throat?

There’s only so much of canned soup one can have! One can. Okay, maybe two, if push came to shove. There’s something about its tinny sliminess that gets stale rather quick, don’t you think?

Now, I LOVE soups ! Especially soups made from scratch, using fresh home made stocks, which have the wholesomeness and the earthiness of mushrooms, carrots, leeks, fresh parsley….steaming hot and oh so flavorful!
And served with freshly baked French baguette dipped in extra virgin olive oil and a side of apple/hickory smoked cheese to nibble on…yum..my bowl of heaven.

And soups was what I have had to subsist on this week since swallowing anything thicker, crustier, meatier was quite out of the question given the supremely delicate condition of my poor throat. *cough cough* *and no bread and cheese either 😦 * *cough cough* Oh…Woe is me! 😉

So, having decided to go the tinned route, since I was in no condition to cook either, I tried the above mentioned tinniness. Oh dear! THAT was a dead end, I am afraid.

So, I hoisted myself off the bed, put aside my self pity (only for the moment mind you) and made myself the following….

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Red chard with lentils.

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A note: One of the prerequisites of being an Indian is to own a ‘pressure cooker’. We cook all our daily rice and lentils with this most versatile of cooking utensils. (I have even been known to use it to make popcorn) Any who’s, I usually put all the ingredients of the following recipe in the cooker with water and cook it for three whistles, then let it simmer on low heat for 5 minutes and switch it off/take it off the gas/heat. Once the cooker let’s off all the steam and can be opened again, I add the ‘tadka’.
But I am sure you could cook it in a stock pot just as well while taking the precaution of stirring it often to avoid burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

So, here’s what you’ll need 🙂 :

1 bunch chard, washed and roughly chopped
About 1/2 cup red lentils/split masoor daal
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 small green chillies or 1/2 a jalapeño, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in the pot with enough water to cover them and cook on low heat until softened or pressure cook as mentioned above.

Once its cooked, stir with a spatula to ensure its well combined.

Garnish with tadka:

Heat 2 tbs oil in a small vessel. When hot (do not let it burn), add a tbs of mustard seeds, cumin seeds. Let the seeds splutter and then add 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Stir for 5 seconds. Pour into the soup.

Stir and serve hot.

This can also be eaten with chapati/roti/parantha or steamed rice.

I would like to mention here that this is NOT my recipe. My husband found it on the internet one day but we forgot to write down the name of the website or the author of the recipe. So I do apologize for being unable to give proper credit where it is due. 😦

Anna he poorna Brahma.
Bon Apetit!

Re-inventing ‘self’ through Lunch.

I love how we re-discover ourselves every so often. How we find ways to keep our selves entertained or find ways to add a dash of spice to an otherwise mundane day, week.

Re-inventing ourselves, that is the true spice of life dont you think? That and variety of course.

When we open our minds to possibilities, it is amazing how they come flying in through every crevice and opening, be it a window or a door or a crack in the wall, until one has to say, stop, let me catch my breath. Let me savor every opportunity in and of itself before I drown under it all and am swept away upon the tide of bewilderment and excess.

I had already been flirting with the idea of meditation (at the risk of sounding a bit batty, I have been getting these messages from all sides, through people and reading of course, that I should take up meditation), Yoga which is always a good thing to take up and eating healthier, when, last year, our son brought home a packet from school, selling magazines for a fund raiser! See how that works? I promptly opted for the Yoga Journal and the Vegetarian Times.

And I wasn’t disappointed! The Yoga Journal has a lot of articles on the benefits and ways of meditation, about different styles of Yoga…Its an all round feel good kinda magazine. Just reading it makes me feel so restful and at peace.

The Vegetarian Times has a lot of slurp-a-licious and tempting recipes.

So, feeling inspired, I took it one step further. I decided to try at least two new recipes per week for lunch. It allows us, my husband and I, to add even more varied vegetables, herbs and beans to our already diverse menu. And it is such a thrill to see fresh green and red chard, blushing turnips, the delicate curve of an endive, popping yellow pepper, shy tomatillos, fresh herbs etc, in one’s shopping basket isn’t it? And then, I thought, why not blog about it? So, here we are.

Today, I poached an egg!! For the very first time!! I had never even seen anyone poach an egg forget knowing how to do it. But you never know until you try right? And try I did! (Told you I was inspired!) And guess what, call it beginner’s luck or what have you, I poached an egg! I did it!! Even my sweet hubby was impressed! 🙂

So we had poached eggs over Asparagus, a slice of Ancient Grain bread with Aged Swiss and a sweet Pomelo for dessert.

And here’s how I cooked it.

4 tbsp olive oil, divided
12 1/4″ thick slices baguette (We had toasted Ancient Grain bread instead)
1 clove garlic, halved
2 tbsp distilled or white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 tbsp snipped chives

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Place paper towel lined plate next to the stove.
2. Spread 2 tbsp of oil over half of baking sheet. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on top of oil, and press down to coat one side with oil. Flip the slices over on baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden. Rub each toasted slice with garlic.
3. Bring 1 inch salted water to a boil in a skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus; cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain, and keep warm.
(Here, I heated up some olive oil in the skillet and stir fried them for a few minutes. Just before removing them from the skillet, I sprinkled them generously with lemon-chilli spice mix from The Gourmet Collection.)

4. Bring 2 qt. water, vinegar, and salt to a boil in a 9 inch saucepan over medium heat. Crack one egg, and drop it into the water, holding shell as close to surface as possible. Rapidly repeat with remaining eggs. Bring to gentle simmerr. (Small bubbles should break surface around edges, not bubble up from bottom of the pan.)
Reduce heat to maintain temperature. Poach eggs 3 minutes. Transfer to prepared plate with a slotted spoon.
5. Divide asparagus between 4 plates. Top each serving with one egg. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chives and garnish with toasted baguette slices.

Serves: 4
Per Serving: 330 Cal; 14 G Prot; 17 G Total Fat; 33 G Carb; 3 G Fiber; 1 G Sugar

BON APPETIT!!

Daniwaal Korma

Daniwaal Korma on a cold wintry evening with lachcha parantha.
Spicy peppercorn, nutty coriander seeds, the pickling effect of yogurt and anise and the fresh taste of cilantro.
My husband and son couldn’t get enough of it. I am a vegetarian and couldn’t join them in their feast, but, the sheer pleasure on their faces as they bit into it was treat enough for me.

Most of the recipes in this book are really good and easy to cook. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to cook Indian food or would like to give it a try.

Anna he poorna Brahma…
Bon Appetit!!