December 26, 2010

Mango Times: Mango-Ricotta Cookies

I am also taking these cookies to Nupur's Blog Bites 9: The Holiday Buffet. This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite blogs AZ Cookbook. I have made the Lemon-Ricotta-cardamom cookies before for Xmas a couple of years back and loved them.

I pretty much followed the recipe, with a few minor changes. In my stand mixer, I added 1 stick of sliced butter, followed by 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Actually 1 cup of this is not regular sugar, but palm sugar. Then I added 2 eggs after the butter+sugar was creamy. For the ricotta part, I added 1 cup of left over Mango peda dough, which is basically a mixture of ricotta cheese + mango pulp + sugar, cooked for a while to get the dough consistency. Then the dry ingredients - 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, a pinch of cardamom went in along with a pinch of salt. My dough was a little thicker than I expected, mostly because I didn't add enough ricotta. Should have reduced the amount of flour, which I thought of later. Anyways, the cookies were 'dropped' on a baking sheet lined with parchment and baked for 15 minutes in 375F oven. Once cooled, I dusted them with a lot of powdered sugar. I got 36 cookies made last night. Only half are remaining this morning. Looks like Santa had a feast :)

Mango Times: White Chocolate Mango Pie

Here are the two last-minute dishes that I am taking to Nupur's Blog Bites 9: Holiday Buffet. I made this White-chocolate Mango Pie a couple of weeks back for an ugly sweater party. And I also made Mango-Ricotta cardamom cookies last night for Xmas.

The pie was assembled in a puff pastry shell that I had waiting to be used up. I grated mango-chili dark chocolate on the shell before adding the filling. The recipe for the filling was adapted from here. I used a pack of Trader Joe's frozen mango chunks. Soften the mango with a little water on the stove top. I added about 3 tbsps of sugar and let it cook for a few minutes. Once I could mash the mangoes, I added 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips, 1/2 a can of frangipane (almond paste). Then I powdered about 2 tbsps of tapioca pearls and added the powder to the simmering mango mixture. A small pinch of salt and the whole thing simmered for a few minutes. Then the filling went it the shell, and was baked at 350F for about 40 minutes. 

I added snowflakes with a mix of white-chocolate and cardamom, but as you can see, I have ways to go on my squeeze-bottle skills. The pie also needed more cooling before we sliced it. That didn't matter though as the plate was empty by the end of the evening!

December 25, 2010

Baked Pancakes from Germany

Christmas day morning brunch was a simple yet delicious Baked German Pancakes with a banana-pecan topping. These pancakes are so easy to make and could be a regular if not for the volume of butter! My simple version for a 10-inch cast-iron pan is: Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Heat the pan, add a tbsp or more of butter, spread in the pan. In a blender, add 3 eggs, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tbsp powdered sugar. Blend these together for a few seconds, pour in the pan, slide the pan in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, till the pancake come out golden. Squeeze half a lemon over it and sprinkle come powdered sugar. 

For the topping, I basically sliced up 3 bananas, heated them in a pan with 1/2 tsp butter, added a handful of pecan pieces, 2 tsp of ginger honey and 1 tsp of bourbon maple syrup. Top it with grated lemon peel and fresh nutmeg. Serve over the pancake. Yummy goodness :)

December 21, 2010

Mushroom Stew

As the holidays near, the days seem to be getting busier & busier. Couple of weeks back, the Sunday was a whirlwind with friends coming over for both brunch and dinner. Brunch was a simple Rava Idli with sambhar & chili powder. Dinner was a little more elaborate with this mushroom stew, Kerala red rice, cucumber raita, rasam & dessert. 

I put together this spicy mushroom stew at the last minute, and it went fast. Saute a halved & sliced onion in butter + olive oil, add the 16 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms when the onion have softened. Add a diced tomato, season with salt, 1/2 tsp chili powder and 1 tsp kitchen king masala. I also added 1 tsp of cumin + coriander powder. Add 1 cup of water and cook for a few minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve. That was definitely easy :)

December 14, 2010

Djuvec from Serbia

For a Thanksgiving potluck at my friend Emilie's place, I made this vegetable casserole adapted from a recipe here. It was such a delicious dish and was almost over that night. Though the original recipe called for baking, I ended up cooking it on the stove top on my Le Creuset. I used the following vegetables chopped: Potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, celery, red and orange bell peppers, onion. I sautéed these vegetables, added enough water, seasoned with vegeta, salt & pepper. I also added a handful of Arborio rice and a cup of Israeli cous-cous. Covered and simmered till all the water is used up and garnished with chopped mint. Made for a filling vegetable dish. 

I am sending this dish to the food blogging event Dish Name Starts with: D, hosted by Akila's Kitchen.

December 13, 2010

Ethiopian Gomen ~ Stewed Collard Greens

As the end of the year approaches, I am scrambling to finish off a list of things both at work and at home. New Year = new things to do! And on the blog front, I want to catch up on the posts from my Cooking the World. In 2010, though I didn't get to finish making a recipe from all the independent countries of the world, I am a little more than half-way through. However, posting all the recipes? Hmm!

We have never had Ethiopian Gomen at a restaurant before. Its such a simple recipe, adapted from here. I modified the recipe for Niter Kebbeh - seasoned ghee. Basically, I chopped up the collard greens (from the farmer's market), wilted them in the microwave with a little water. In my sauté pan, I melted a tbsp of ghee, added a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let it simmer for a few minutes before adding 1/2 a chopped onion, couple of slit serrano peppers, a clove of minced garlic, a pinch of turmeric. Once the onions were soft, I added the greens and let it cook for a few more minutes. I kind of overdid the peppers as the Gomen turned out to be a lot more hotter than we wanted. Not so hot that serving it with yogurt couldn't take care of!


December 4, 2010

Quick dish from Congo - Moambe with Eggplant

The latest book from which I have been cooking is the Ethnic Vegetarian by Angela Shelf Medearis. I used the last two eggplants from my garden this year for this stew and served it with rice. Here is my slightly modified version.

Heat olive oil+butter in a pan, and saute 1 sliced onion. Add the cubed eggplants (2 rosa bianca) and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Once the eggplant has cooked, add 1 tbsp tomato puree, season with salt & 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. I also added 1/4 tsp cumin+coriander powder. Add 3 tbsp of peanut butter, let the sauce simmer for a few more minutes. Add a little water if the sauce is too thick. Season with freshly grated nutmeg. The stew was creamy & flavorful. 

November 21, 2010

Tropical Fruit Bake

Couple of weeks back I found a ripened papaya, 3 mangoes and a few bananas to be used asap in my kitchen. The mangoes & papaya flew all the way from Florida with Shankar. We hardly get these yummy tropical treats in our part of the country and at this time of the year, they are also at the end of their growing season. Hence I have found that the best way to give a boost to their flavors is by baking these fruits. Here is my simple Caribbean-ish recipe. 

Slice / chop all the fruits and mix in a big bowl with 2 tbsps of sugar, 2 pinches of nutmeg, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom. Also add a couple of pinches of salt and for this bake, I also added a dash of ground pepper. Then came  a few teaspoons of Palm sugar (Karupatti) ground with a few almonds. Then went in 1/2 tsp of grated ginger and 3-4 tbsp of ginger liqueur (Canton). Finally I sprinkled a handful of grated coconut, transferred the salad to a baking dish and baked in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. I like mine served with yogurt and some granola for added crunchiness. Yummy!

I am sending this recipe to  Monthly Mingle, hosted by Deeba of Passionate about Baking.

November 16, 2010

Weekend Rangoli & a Recipe

Shankar & I spent last part of last weekend in Chicago - we went to watch the show "Traces" which sure did leave  trace in me, had a wonderful dinner @ Le Colonial - a French Vietnamese restaurant. And staying in downtown in a room with a view from the 38th floor was a splendid bonus. On Saturday we had brunch at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill and did some shopping. We also managed to gorge on the Diwali Special buffet at Priya Restaurant on our way home. After all the activity, Sunday was a relaxed day at home. I managed to spread out my painting supplies once again on the dining table and painted a small 8x8 Rangoli. The pattern extends to two of the sides. The best thing is, it is already spoken for :) Now at the collection of David Hill, Madison.

Rangoli with acrylics on canvas
For dinner on Sunday, I also managed to make a few dishes including this simple Brussels sprouts side dish. I simply halved these vegetables, sautéed them in olive oil + butter, added salt & pepper for seasoning and let it cook for a few minutes, Then transferred them into a baking dish, sprinkled some chopped toasted walnuts and shredded Gruyère cheese. I also sprinkled a handful of shredded parsnips (being used in another dish), for crunchiness. Baked for about 10 minutes in 350F oven. Yummy!

November 3, 2010

Latest from my table

I started to play around and try making a couple of these highly customizable beaded bookmarks as an option for the fundraiser I am doing in my friend's memory. And to my utter delight, a friend who came over picked up both the "pilot" pieces I made, motivating me to make more. And here they are - from my little corner craft table today! I am hoping to list them for sale on my site by the end of the week, with all proceeds benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Beaded Metal Bookmarks

November 2, 2010

Irish Lace Cookies

I made these lace cookies for my lab meeting the first time. Since it takes only less than 10 minutes to prep and another 10 minutes to bake, I have since made them a couple of times. Also, this recipe is so versatile, once I made them just by throwing a handful of different ingredients together :)

The ratio is basically use 1 part of flour to 4 parts of butter, sugar (creamed together) and rolled oats. I started with powdering a handful of almonds with a little sugar, then adding the above ingredients (butter at room temperature) in the food processor along with a pinch of cardamom, and 1/2 tsp vanilla flavor. Drop the dough by a teaspoon leaving room between the cookies and flattening a little. Baked in a pre-heated 350F oven, they turned out to be so good. I also drizzled a little bit of melted blueberries & lavender dark chocolate :)

The blog I used for this recipe has been removed since and hence no reference :(

October 26, 2010

Samoan Coconut Rice with Ginger Pesto

This was a simple yet flavorful dish I made when I was in St. Louis a few months back. These recipes were adapted from the book Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen. The coconut rice was super easy to make - the rice is cooked in a mixture of water + coconut milk - I used about 1/2 a can and a couple of pinches of salt. I also sprinkled a pinch of nutmeg when the rice was cooking. For the ginger pesto, I ground together the following: 1/4 cup of cilantro and mint leaves, 1 inch thick piece of ginger, a handful of walnuts, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 small shallot - chopped, a tsp of olive oilsalt and pepper and some water. We had this as a side dish with our dinner.

Samoan Coconut Rice with Ginger Pesto

October 17, 2010

Playing with Yarn

Though I learnt to crochet years back, I hadn't been working diligently on any projects or finishing the one Afghan I started. Recently, with the inspiration from the fund raiser, I have been working with the yarn I have accumulated and making neck warmer/ scarfs. The rose colored one is the neck warmer I am sending to one of my friends. I also added three buttons to it and it is made from a wool / acrylic blend yarn. The middle lavender with silver strand one is more lengthier and made of a acrylic/rayon/nylon yarn. The most recent one in awesome gold/orange is actually made with two different skeins of yarn - I just pulled them together through the hook. 

The first two have the same 'Dew drops' pattern and the last one has a 'Tipsy cluster' pattern. The stitches are from the book "The complete photo guide to crochet" by Margaret Hubert. I have loaned this book from the library, but it is so good, especially with pictorial representation on the stitches that the book is making it to my wishlist! I might have made more progress on my crocheting if I had come across this book before. But right now, I seriously wish I could pick up skills with MATLAB as fast as I can with yarns & hooks :)

October 14, 2010

Blitva from Croatia

Croatian Blitva was so easy to make and so delicious, it is going to be a recurring dish in my kitchen, especially as I look forward to using all the left over greens in the garden. I followed the recipe from Maninas: Food Matters. In a small pan, I sautéed chopped potatoes in olive oil, added a little water and let them cook till soft. I used two kinds of potatoes as you can see in the picture. To this, I added chopped rainbow swiss chard and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Seasoned with salt and pepper and once the chard has also cooked, mixed in a couple of tbsp of crushed peanuts. We had this with rice and Eritrean Alitcha Birsen for dinner!

I am sending this dish to the food blogging event Dish Name Starts with: B, hosted by Akila's Kitchen.

October 12, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin

For Blog Bites #8, Nupur of One Hot Stove has challenged the food bloggers to come up with new ideas for one dish meals. I love one pot meals and for this BB8, I have modified Kevin's recipe from Closet Cooking and inspired by a couple of other recipes, made a one dish meal with Brussels sprouts. Not only do I like one pot meals, I use only one pot (in this case a pan) to make them. I am so glad to have these Acroflam pans that can go from the microwave to the stove to the oven to the table! 

I started with shredding a few parsnips, given by a friend from her CSA box. I also chopped up an onion, and halved roasted chestnuts. In my pan I initially boiled the Brussels sprouts for a few minutes. I saved them and in the pan heated up a tsp of butter + olive oil and sauteed the onions and parsnips. I removed these from the pan and heated a tbsp of butter till it was brown. I made a simple sauce by adding flour to the butter and whisking it with milk. Then came about a tsp of veggie broth powder and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Into this sauce went the Brussels sprouts, onions and parsnip along with salt and pepper. I also added the roasted chestnut and some leftover plain cooked rice that I had. I also added one whisked egg to this mixture. Topped it off with bread crumbs and a mixture of cheddar cheese + raw cow's milk cheese. Then the pan went into the over preheated at 400F for a good 25 minutes. The au gratin was delicious served with a dollop of Greek yogurt!

October 11, 2010

Krazy Kiddo

Off? Are you sure recliners are not for my comfort?

October 10, 2010

The Great Salt Lake

I spent last week in Utah, mostly at Snowbird attending the 17th Annual Conference of the Wildlife Society. After the conference at which I had a great time reconnecting with friends, getting inspired by some of the talks, great conversations with my advisor and arguing about diversity! On Friday I traveled in Salt Lake City and my last stop before my flight back home was the Great Salt Lake State Park. I went to Saltair drive near the airport. The water level was pretty low and I had to walk a little to the water's edge. The day was gorgeous and it was wonderful being outside. I did taste the water and felt it was saltier than sea water :) Here are a couple of my shots!

September 30, 2010

A Cause & A Venture

The right side of my brain has been more active recently, especially after spending my day with mathematical models. I have been inspired by my friend Sujju Prakash, who has been making jewelry as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of Dr. Prakash Krishnaswami from K-State. I am trying to help, in my own little way and as an added bonus I kill some of the boredom when Shankar is not around. 

I have a google site ~ Bee's Beads & Colors ~ where I am selling handmade earrings & my paintings & in a few days hoping to add some of my crochet stuff. All of the proceeds will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Below is my productivity tonight after a day of wildlife, vaccines & models!

September 29, 2010

Kourkouto from Greece

One of the first dishes I made when I started my Cooking the World Challenge was Kourkouto from Greece. I came across this recipe at Peter’s Kalofagas blog and adapted it just a little bit. I didn't have the Kasseri that he mentions and hence doubled up on the feta, reduced the amount of oil and left out the scallions. And the "pie" was great was lunch with a dribble of hot sauce. Since Peter does such a great job with his recipe, I am not reposting it here. Definitely a great dish to use up some of the zucchini and a good alternative to the usual zucchini bread.

September 28, 2010

Eritrean Alitcha Birsen

The summer has been keeping us pretty busy and I was happy to have my break from blogging. We were travelling quite a bit and generally spending more time outdoors. Also, with Shankar not being around during the week, I have been cooking mostly during the weekends. Anyways, now with fall already here, there is going to be more time spent on the couch and catch up on blogging and other things.

Tonight I made a simple savory lentil recipe called Alitcha Birsen from Eritrea. The recipe is from here and I modified it a little bit. I sautéed a small tsp of black cumin, a clove of minced garlic, half a  chopped onion,one nice Valencia tomato and a couple of small green chilies from my garden, and a few radishes from my friend's CSA box. To this I added 1 cup of pressure cooked lentils, added a tbsp of hot sauce (instead of berbere), seasoned with salt and brought to a boil. Once cooked, we had the savory lentils with rice and Blitva for dinner!

I am sending this entry to Susan's My Legume Love Affair #27.

With this, I have completed cooking from 75 countries! I don't think I will finish my Cooking the World challenge before the end of 2010, but hopefully soon in the next year. 

September 27, 2010

Super Special September

The theme of this month's Daring Baker's Challenge is Decorated Sugar Cookies with themes that are special  to us about September. The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking. Shankar and I have a very long list of events to look forward to this month, including our 7 years of happiness being together! Hence, my cookies reflected that and also his love for the Green Bay Packers :) 

I am not a big fan of icing and this is my first attempt at decorating cookies ~ using royal icing I made in a ziploc bag. The recipe for the cookies can be found here.

Our next biggest day in September is today, when we celebrate the Adoption Day of Amy and Nikko. I can't  believe its been 4 (long) years since these two babies walked into our lives - they are testimony to love at first sight and not a day has gone by where they haven't filled our house and hearts with loads of love.

Amy enjoying a very special frozen custard and a swim
And here is a very special video of Nikko...

July 8, 2010

Amy in her new Pool

How else could she cool off in this crazy heat, after playing in the dog park?

July 6, 2010

Brazilian Rice in my new Le Creuset

Celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary last week, Shankar totally surprised me with a Le Creuset 5 1/2 Qrt Dutch oven! And we had our friends Brooke and John visit from Nebraska and spend the weekend with us. We had an awesome time, my only regret being that I didnt get a chance to cook a good meal for them. I made pancakes and french toast for breakfast and rava dosas stuffed with cheese for dinner one day, but that was it. I was hoping to use my new pot for making something yummy.

And I did make two yummy dishes tonight in the new pot. First I made a Brazilian rice, inspired by this recipe. In the pot, I added a tsp of butter and a tsp of olive oil. To this I added 1/2 a chopped onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic and let it cook. Then I added 1/2 chopped tomato. Once the tomatoes were soft, I added 2.5 cups of water and brought it to a boil. To this I added 1 tsp of vegetarian broth powder and seasoned with salt and pepper. Once the broth was boiling, I added 1 cup of rice and cooked under high heat for 5 minutes and simmered it for another 5. The rice turned out to be very flavorful but in a subtle way and not over power the accompanying curry. Perfectly cooked flavorful rice garnished with chives = Yummy :)

July 5, 2010

Katogo Matoke from Uganda

I had a non-functional keyboard on my laptop for the past week and has not been able to post on the blog and missed quite a few events. I am back now with a new keyboard, and hope to catch up. 

This recipe from Uganda adapted from here, has the influence of Indians who migrated there. The recipe is simple and doesn't take much time. I heated a tsp of olive oil in a pan, tempered 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds and cumin, and added 1/2 a chopped onion. Once the onions were soft, added 1 chopped tomato along with 2 cloves of minced garlic, grated ginger and a couple of chopped green chilies. To this I added 2 chopped plantains, and a pinch of turmeric, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of cumin/coriander powder. Then I added 1 tbsp of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of water. Once the stew boils, I served it with hot rice!

June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Pavlova from New Zealand

After missing a couple of the Daring Bakers events, I managed to participate in this month's challenge. The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. The recipe for the wonderful dessert is here.

I followed the recipe pretty closely. I didn't make the mascarpone cream for drizzling though. I mixed a syrup of horlicks in cream for a malty drizzle. Yesterday I served them with bananas and with blueberries today. A special thanks to Aakriti for helping with the free-form pavlovas. Having never tasted a pavlova before, I am definitely hooked to them now. And I am ticking off New Zealand from my Cooking the World!

June 24, 2010

Inspired by Africa

Here is one of  my latest paintings...the pattern is inspired by a ceremonial cloth from Africa, which was on exhibit at the Art Museum in St. Louis.  I was gonna paint a kolam on top of this after a this layer of glazing. Shankar likes it as it is. Hmmm.......

Acrylic on 12x12 canvas

June 23, 2010

Purkouri from Cyprus

Here is my last entry for Blog bites #4: Whats lurking in the kitchen? This time, it is half a jar of cracked wheat that has been wanting to be used. Well, I didn't use all of it, but at least it is a start! This recipe is also adapted from Pille's blog Nami-Nami and is from the book Falling Cloudberries: A world of family recipes by Tessa Kiros.

This is a very simple recipe similar to the upma from South India. I heated some olive oil in a pan, and sauteed 1/2 a chopped onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Then added 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes which was also lurking in the pantry. Once the tomatoes were cooked, I added 1 cup of cracked wheat. Seasoned with salt, pepper and chili powder. Added 2 cups of water, let it boil, reduced the heat and let the wheat cook for a few minutes. Once the water was all absorbed, turned off the heat, and let it sit for a few minutes. Served it with yogurt and some walnuts, along with the Sauerkraut soup for dinner. Very filling! 

June 22, 2010

Waiting for Friday

Its only Tuesday and I am already waiting for Friday, when Shankar is coming back home with my two birdies. The house is way too quiet without them - I know we like them even when they are screaming. I miss being greeted by Nikko even before I open the door, Pepper calling for me to come near her and wanting to get on my fingers. I even catch myself looking out for Nikko ready to jump on me when I come through the hallway :) And it is no fun having Shankar all to myself without the crazy competition for attention from Nikko!!!

Mixed Beans Vada

Thanks to the inspiration from Nupur and her Blog Bites #4, I managed to make use of and finish yet another lurking ingredient in my kitchen - a half -used bag of mixed beans intended for a soup. I have been holding on to this for more than an year now. Given that this bag required pre-planning and the beans had to be soaked before I used them and I hardly ever plan my cooking - this bag had a comfortable spot in the pantry. As I was looking for recipes to use these beans, I came across this recipe by Divya on Dil Se. I hardly ever do deep frying at home - my frequency of deep frying is 1-2 times an year and wasn't sure I wanted to last weekend. But the birdies are in St. Louis till the end of the week and my friends texted that they are running a little late and I decided to give this a try. I had  already soaked the lentils the previous night hoping to make a kurma. And I am so glad I made the vadas instead, as they were a hit and I actually ended up making another batch in the evening. 

I ground into a coarse paste without adding water, about 3 cups of pre-soaked mixed beans in the food processor with a little salt. I also added 3 tbsp of rice flour to make the vadas crispy. To this I added finely minced 2 green chilies, 1/2 an onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Seasoned with a little more salt and asafoetida powder. Mixed them all, and fried the vadas in oil till they were brown. 

And to continue the theme of using up lurkers, I made a simple no-cook chutney by using some of the left over produce in the fridge to dunk the vadas in. In the food processor, I ground together two carrots that were waiting to be used up, a bunch of cilantro that has started wilting, two cups of peanuts, 3 green chilies, salt and a tsp of cumin with water. The chutney was spicy and went well with the not-so-spicy vadas. And I used all the soaked beans for making more vadas in the evening!

June 21, 2010

Painting Landscapes

After years of playing with different paints on various surfaces, I finally got to sign up for a class on versatile acrylics at the UW Extension last week. The class for me was mostly about learning new techniques and get a better understanding on some of the stuff I already do. It did not help being the only newbie in class though. The first thing we did after doing the color wheel, tints & shades was to do a still life in black & white value. One of the hardest thing I have ever done! whew!

The next day we did our "master project" that you are seeing below. I didn't get to finish it till tonight. It was a fun time and I ended up asking a lot of questions to the instructor. I am kinda happy with the way it turned out. What I am not happy about is the foreground with the grass & shrubs. I love my dead trees and the sky :)

June 18, 2010

Simple Stew with Lentils (Kootu)

Here is a quick South Indian stew - what we call as a kootu in Tamil. In this version I made for dinner on a weeknight, I used the vegetable called Snake Gourd that I got from St. Louis. But any green vegetable would go well in a kootu. I used moong dal which is much easier to cook without a pressure cooker. In a pot, boil together a cup of moong dal and sliced snake gourd seasoned with salt  and a pinch of turmeric. Once the dal is cooked completely and the vegetable is soft, add 2-3 tbsp of shredded coconut. On a separate pan, heat a tsp of oil and temper 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds, 1/4 of cumin, a tsp of urad dal, 2 diced green chilies, 1/2 tsp of grated ginger and a few curry leaves. Add this to the boiling veggies and take off from heat. If it is too thin, add a solution of rice flour to thicken. Serve with rice or roti.

June 17, 2010

Slaai from Swaziland

This Swazi avocado slaw is a simple variation of the Avocado salad with ginger. Basically I marinated diced avocado in lemon juice and ginger, seasoned with salt. Then added a bunch of crushed peanuts and chopped mint to this and mixed it well. Voilà - we had a yummy salad with dinner. I really  liked this variation and this gingery avocado is my new favorite instead of a typical guacamole. Recipe is from Celtnet

June 15, 2010

Lone Elk Park @ St. Louis

Our last weekend in St. Louis we went to the World Bird Sanctuary and drove through the Lone Elk County Park. We didnt get to go hiking here as dogs are not allowed. There were plenty of wildlife and it was an awesome place to to spend a wonderful evening.

The herd of bison had quite a few calves running around

The elk that chased Shankar back to the car

Sauerkraut Soup from Estonia

Nupur's latest Blog Bites #4 is all about unearthing some of the stuff thats been lurking in the kitchen and use another blog as an inspiration to use up some/ all of the lurking ingredients. Here is my first contribution, using up half of a jar of sauerkraut from 2008, that was a gift from a friend. I wasn't really keen on using this before and had it tucked away in some corner shelf. So, when Shankar pulled it out as one of the first things I should use up, I was glad to find this wonderful soup recipe from Pille at Nami-Nami. Given that is it from Estonia, I am also ticking off one more country in my Cooking the World. 

It was a simple soup to make, the only laborious(!) part is chopping the veggies. Given the chilly weather we have been having in WI for the last couple of days, the soup was wonderful with Purkouri for dinner. Basically I sautéed 1/2 a chopped onion and about 1/2 a jar of sauerkraut (after rinsing it) in a little ghee (ingredient needing to be used up), added 2 chopped carrots and 2 chopped golden potatoes, 1 tbsp of tomato paste (another ingredient that has been lurking) and enough water. I also added a bay leaf, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg for seasoning. Let this cook for about 20 minutes. I thickened the soup a little bit with a tsp of rice flour. I also added a handful of chopped walnuts before turning off the heat. These walnuts became the magic ingredient adding a whole lot of texture to the soup! I added a dollop of quark on top and garnished with some shredded carrots and mint. Yummy! 
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