Archive for December, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I know it doesn’t look like it much, but I really do try to cook and eat healthily! Lately though, I’ve just been feeling a little indulgent. I’ve had too many sweets, way too much cheese, carb overloads. Ahh, well…. I guess after the new year I may get back to being good. But for my last recipe of 2010 lets make it a great one! A delicious creamy, cheesy soup! My favorite soup, actually.

  • 1 bag frozen broccoli or 1 lg head of broccoli cut
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 2c water or veg broth
  • 2Tbs butter
  • 5 shallots or 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 TBS dijon or whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot sauce or chili paste
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1c  shredded cheese (this time I used sharp cheddar, gruyere, and raclette- a french cheese I had never seen before, so I had to buy it! I recommend to include sharp cheddar – you can also use only cheddar and not a blend)
  • dash of seasoned rice vinegar (optional)

Cook the broccoli and grated carrot in the water or veg broth. I just this year discovered Imagine “no chicken” vegetable broth and I think its really good. Before that I would use water, and sometimes to flavor the water more, boil along onions and garlic and some dried herbs, its your choice. Cool and blend together lightly, but not too much. I like to still have some cute little flowerettes in the soup.

Heat butter and sautee the garlic and onion till translucent. Sprinkle flour over it, while stirring, trying not to form lumps. You may need to use a whisk. Let the flour cook for a few minutes while stirring, so it does not taste raw. Stir in the milk slowly, while stirring constantly. Then add the broccoli. Bring to a simmer and add the mustard, turmeric, chili powder, hot sauce/chili paste, pepper, salt, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.  Once it thickens (you may need to add extra milk or broth if its too thick) turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until fully melted. Lastly add a dash of rice vinegar to perk it up (optional).  Measurements are approximate, because I didn’t really measure and you may like more or less. Its nice with a garnish of shredded cheddar or chopped spring onions and a couple slices of crusty bread (italian or sourdough for example).

Enjoy! I made this a week ago, and wish I had a bowl of it right now!

Sending this to “Only Greens” event  by Sara and Pari

Palak Paneer

Spinach and cheese. A match made in heaven. I can have paneer in anything… but at least the spinach makes it feel a little healthier!

  • 1.5 ltr of milk made into paneer (1c or so?) cubed
  • 1/2 bag of frozen spinach or 2 bunches of fresh
  • 1c water
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin (or small onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 in ginger grated
  • 2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 1/2 tsp jeera
  • 1 tsp  chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbs kasoori methi
  • 2 big tomatoes, pureed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 TBS cream or butter

Boil the water in a pot and add the spinach. Cook it with the lid off for a few minutes, until cooked. Blend this (along with the water) until its the consistency you like. I don’t like it too chunky or smooth, but somewhere in between.

Heat a pan and add the ghee. Once hot, add the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle a few seconds and add the shallot/onion. When the shallot is turning golden, add the garlic, ginger paste, the powdered spices, the kasoori methi. Stir, then add the tomato puree and salt. Cook it until you see oil coming around the edges and it becomes a paste. Then add the spinach and finally the paneer. (You can lightly sautee the paneer cubes before adding, but I usually only do that for guests or if I want to make it extra special.) Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Top with a bit of butter or cream.

Sending this to “Only Greens” event  by Sara and Pari

Crispy Okra Fry

MMM, okra! One of my very favorite veggies (not quite as beloved as eggplant). I like it in almost every form, but I especially love it fried (is it any surprise??). The important thing is to not let it get slimy, and there are a couple tricks to accomplish that. First, wash and completely dry them. If there is any moisture while cutting it releases the mucousy stuff. Then use a dry knife and wipe the knife every so often. Do not salt it until nearly cooked or after frying.

For frying, this is what I did:

Slice the okra lengthwise into thin strips.

In a bowl, mix besan flour with 1 TBS or so of rice flour, red chili powder to taste, pinch of turmeric powder, pinch of chaat masala or garam masala. Cover the okra pieces with the mixture. I havent given quantities because it depends on how much okra you are using. Add just enough besan flour to coat the pieces, not too much. And do not add any water or liquid!

You can shallow fry if you have a very large pan to accommodate all the slices without crowding, or do it in batches. Or you can deep fry them. Sprinkle salt as soon as you remove them from the oil. You can also squeeze lemon over it, and serve immediately.

Sending this to “Only Greens” event  by Sara and Pari

Tiramisu and Merry Christmas!

We are big fans of tiramisu, and we order it most of the time when we have dessert out somewhere. But, I never tried to make it till now. It came out REALLY good. Next time I might make everything from scratch like Swathi! Check out her impressive Orange Tiramisu.

  • 24 ladies fingers cookies
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 4 egg yolks(room temp)
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1c heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3/4-1 c strong filter coffee or espresso
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder and chocolate shavings optional

Keep a metal bowl inside the fridge for whipping the cream.

Beat together egg yolks and sugar. Heat it over a double boiler or bain marie, stirring constantly with a whisk until thickened. Remove from heat. Add vanilla.

Stir in half the mascarpone at a time till well blended.

Beat whipping cream with a pinch of salt just until stiff peaks form. Don’t overbeat it or you will get butter pieces and it will separate. Fold this into the custard (egg yolks and mascarpone) mixture.

In an 8×8 dish, begin to layer the ladies finger cookies by dipping the tops into the espresso/coffee then laying flat side down in rows. Next pour over a layer of cream mixture. Repeat with ladies fingers and cream. Then put cocoa powder into a tea strainer and sift it over the top. Keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Top with chocolate shavings before serving.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

My second award!

I’m so happy to receive the Lovely Blogger award from Sayali at Spice Mantra. Thanks again. I really appreciate it! It is truly encouraging and gives me a reason to keep writing. I know I have been a little busy and ignoring my blog lately, but I love to read each and every comment from you all.

Do check out Sayali’s blog where she has lots of healthy recipes. Of course my favorite are the fried ones like tiranga vada and of course the choupati chaats!

Purple Mustard Greens and Potatoes – Rai

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some purple mustard greens at the farmer market (this was a couple weeks ago, but Im just getting around to posting now!). The color was so gorgeous and intense that I wanted something that would showcase its flavor, but I couldn’t decide what to do with it. I had gotten a cookbook from the library “Purba: Feasts from the East” by Laxmi Parida. It is filled with delicious Oriya recipes. One of the recipes is called poi saga rai. Poi saga is a type of green pictured here, but I am substituting for the mustard greens. Rai is described as a “moderately spicy and slightly moist entree”. I worried that it may be a bit bitter as mustard greens sometimes are, but it wasn’t at all. It was quite mellow and this was a very tasty dish. Unfortunately they did not retain their purple color after cooking, however, the color did transfer to the potatoes!

Here is what I did:

this photo doesn't do it justice

  • 1 bunch of purple mustard greens
  • 2 potatoes
  • salt

Sorisa masala:

  • 2 pods garlic
  • 1cm ginger
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • pinch of turmeric

Rasuna(garlic) baghar:

  • 1-2 pods garlic, crushed
  • 1tsp mustard seeds

For the masala, crush together ginger and garlic and mustard and then mix in the other ingredients to form a paste using little water if necessary. Separate the stems from the leaves and finely chop the stems. Roughly chop the leaves. Peel and dice the potato and put into a pan with enough water to just cover them. Add the stems and the sorisa masala and salt. Bring to a boil. When the potatoes are almost cooked, add in the green leaves. If there is excess water in the pan, turn up the heat to evaporate it.

Heat a small bit of oil or ghee  and add in the crushed garlic and the mustard seeds until they pop. Pour this seasoning/baghar  slowly over the potatoes/greens. Garnish with grated coconut(optional).

I am sending this to Aipi’s Bookmarked Recipes

And Only Greens by Sara and Pari.

Spinach-Sundried Tomato Pesto – Repost

My post about pesto pizza has been pretty popular. And I think I know why. I found out I was selected as one of  “Today’s Specials” on Foodpress! I am really honoured! Foodpress is all about the foodies, and I’ve found many great blogs/recipes that way, so check them out if you get a chance.

Again, here is the recipe for pesto, and I would like to send this to the “Only Greens” event hosted by Sara and Pari.

Pesto is quite a versatile accompaniment. It can be used as a condiment, a sauce for pasta or pizza, slathered on bread, or eaten by the spoonful. Oh, is that last one just me? There are also a lot of ways to make pesto. My recipe uses less oil than most and its still delish.

Here it is:

1/3c toasted walnuts

2 big cloves of garlic

1/4c freshly grated parmesan

1/2 bag of baby spinach

1c packed basil leaves

3 ladles of pasta cooking water (or add a little plain water to aid in blending)

6 sundried tomatoes (in oil)

1/2 lemon juiced

salt to taste

1-2TBS EV olive oil

Basically, blend everything together, except the olive oil. Once it is mostly smooth, drizzle in the oil while blending if possible, to emulsify (thicken and combine). Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, with a thin layer of oil on top, for a week or so.

Carrot Cake Pancakes – Vegan

A few weeks ago I was listening to Splendid Table on NPR and someone had mentioned carrot cake pancakes. Immediately I had visions of how I would make them… the softened carrot, perfectly spiced, but with something to make it extra special. Honey butter! yeahhh. Anyway, I promptly forgot about this until recently.

I had a few things in the fridge to use up, and here it was Saturday morning, thinking what to make for breakfast. Then it struck me. Vegan carrot cake pancakes!

Here is what I did:

gorgeous shredded carrot

  • 1 heaped cup flour (I like to mix all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground ginger, allspice, cardamom
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and powdered clove
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts
  • 1TBS flax seeds (ground)
  • 1/4c water
  • 1TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1TBS brown sugar
  • 1c thick coconut milk + 1/4c  water(or more as needed) or use any milk of your choice such as almond, soy, etc. undiluted
  • @1c grated carrot (or 2 medium)

Honey Butter (not vegan):

West Virginia Knotweed Honey

  • 3TBS butter softened
  • 2TBS honey
  • 1tsp orange zest

To make the honey butter, keep butter at room temperature until softened. Mix in the honey and orange zest until well combined.

*A note about the honey* I love to pick up local honeys when I’m travelling and this is one we got as we were driving through WV. It was labeled as Bamboo Knotweed.  I really like buying different varieties of honey and tasting the unique qualities!

To make the  “flax egg” combine ground flax seeds and water in a small bowl and keep aside for 5 minutes. It works better if the water is warm. After a few minutes it will be a gel-like consistency similar to egg whites.

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, and stir well. In another bowl mix the flax egg, sugar, coconut milk, and carrot. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, be careful not to overmix. Stir in the walnuts.

Heat an iron or nonstick skillet until water sizzles when sprinkled on it. Put a thin film of butter in the bottom of the pan. Pour or ladle the batter in the pan, fitting 3-4 pancakes around 4 inches each. Once bubbles appear on the surface and it is golden brown underneath, flip them over. Serve with honey butter and some extra honey.

Pesto Pizza with Semolina Dough

This is my favorite pizza dough recipe so far. The dough is so easy to work with and gives a nice chewy texture. I found the recipe here and have not really changed it, but sometimes I add italian herbs to the dough.


  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2/3 c semolina flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBS olive oil

To make the dough, stir sugar and yeast into warm water and let it activate for 5 minutes.

Mix flour and salt in a bowl and add the yeast and olive oil to it, making a soft dough. Knead on a well floured surface for several minutes until the dough becomes smooth. Lightly oil the dough and bowl and cover with a damp towel. Keep in a warm place and let it rise until doubled.

Roll the dough to desired shape (mine was rectangular). I like to fold the edged up and over in toward the center to create a “lip” on the crust. Pinch the folded edge together. Let this rest while preparing the toppings. In the meantime preheat the oven to 425 F.

Toppings I used:

Spread a layer of pesto onto the dough. Top with shredded cheese, then sundried tomatoes, then zucchini. Sprinkle with herbs and salt and pepper or whatever seasonings you like. Then crumble the feta cheese over the top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Im sending this to Yeastspotting

and to Vegetarian Foodie Fridays.

Early Christmas Gifts and My First Award!

A knock came at the door while I was… .Well, okay, I admit it, I was taking a nap!!! Ooooh there’s a package! What could it be???

A package from India!!

Yes, okay I knew it was on its way, but that doesn’t take away the joy of receiving goodies from loved ones across the world, right?

Here is some of the yummies that were inside:

So, first things first, there is the mysore pak, yum! A pressure cooker gasket, and that ADORABLE  little mortar and pestle. Good Indian coffee, too.

And all the homemade spice mixes!! Priceless. Clockwise from top there is upma mix(which somehow always tastes better than mine), chutney pudi, uchalu pudi, vangibath, menthya & pepper for bisi bele bath, dry coconut, palya pudi, sambhar pudi, and last but far from least… 2 kinds of red chilies (guntur and byadagi).

Uchalu is the most unique of these and as far as I know, specific to Karnataka regional cuisine. Made from niger seeds, red chili, garlic and jaggery it is mostly had with jowar roti or chapathi. This page has some more info, and a slightly different recipe. I’ll be posting a couple recipes using this in the weeks to come.

Another wonderful surprise I received was my very first blog award from dear Akila at Akila’s Kitchen. Thank you so much!!

Akila hosts events with Dishes starting with “letters of the alphabet” starting from A. Great concept! The current one is letter “D”.  She also has “D”elicious recipes on my must try list,  like idli 65 and mango rasam!

I would love to pass this along to these fabulous bloggerettes!

Thanks to all who visit me here, I appreciate every one of you!

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