December 21, 2012

Mini Mango Tartlets

I made these for my last Art Show reception. It was an easy recipe and the tartlets tasted great!


Ingredients: Pie Crust -1 (I used one from Trader Joe's); Cream Cheese - 8oz; Mango pulp - 1/2 cup sweetened; Sugar - 4 tbsp; Cardamom - 1/4 tsp powdered; Corn Starch - 1 tsp.
  • Set oven to bake at 400F.
  • Cut the pie crust to lay inside a regular or mini-muffin pan. I made the mistake of pre-baking them inside the pan and the sides kind of collapsed. To avoid this, invert the muffin pan and bake the shells on the outside. Bake for 8 minutes till slightly brown.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients well with an electric mixer.
  • Now put the shells inside the pan, add a table spoon of the cream cheese mixture and bake again for another 15 minutes or till the cheese is set. 
  • Let cool for at least 10 minutes and move to a cooling rack.
  • Enjoy :)

December 18, 2012

Egg Curry with Okra

Ever since we had dinner at Mingalaba Burmese Restaurant in the Bay Area last month, I have been dreaming about their okra egg curry. And during thanksgiving I tried tor recreate the dish from what I tasted there. And here is my version which was pretty close to the restaurant's. The only change I would make it add tomato paste to it and make the dish a little more tart. This was the second dish we made minus the okra for the cooking class.

 
Ingredients: Eggs - 4, hard boiled and sliced in half; Onion - 1 (finely chopped); Okra - 1/2 pound, sliced to 1 inch pieces and teamed in the microwave for 5 minutes; Tomatoes -  2 (chopped); Tomato Paste - 1 tbsp; Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp (Alternately use minced garlic and ginger); Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp; Red chilli powder - 1 tsp; Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp; Garam masala powder - 1 tsp; Curry Powder - 1/2 tsp (optional); Salt - 1 tsp; Cilantro - for garnish.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.
  • Add the chopped onions till it becomes translucent.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste followed by the chopped tomatoes and salt.
  • Cook for a few minutes and add the okra pieces.
  • Add the rest of the spices. 
  • Fry it for 2 minutes and then add water as needed. Add cilantro now or garnish later.
  • Once the sauce is cooked, add the eggs and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

December 11, 2012

Spicy Stuffed Eggplants

This is one of my two favorite recipes to make with these little eggplants (brinjals). The other recipe is the 'ennai kozhambu'. We usually get the best ones either from Chicago or Milwaukee and hence it is a special treat. Made this dish below for the Thanksgiving Lunch we had at home with friends.



Ingredients: 2 pounds small eggplants - slit crosswise from the bottom to the stalk; Spice powders - can be any number of different variety or a mixture. Here I used: Chilli powder, sambhar powder, coriander powder, black pepper + cumin powder; Salt - adjust to taste; 1 tbsp oil
  • Put the eggplants in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 5 minutes till they are soft. Do not add water.
  • In another small bowl, add all the powders, add a tsp of oil and salt. Mix well, taste and adjust salt.
  • Remove the eggplants from the microwave, stuff the inside with the mixture. Microwave for about 5 more minutes.
  • Add rest of the oil in a pan, and toss the eggplants in it. Cook till the skin is blistered / roasted on all sides.

December 10, 2012

Gobi Paratha

This morning I gave a private cooking lesson to a friend in Madison. She wanted to learn how to make stuffed parathas and egg curry. We made Cauliflower (gobi) paratha and here is my recipe!

 

Make the dough first and let it rest.
Dough

Wheat flour - 1  cup (Atta from Indian store - a more finely milled wheat flour)
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Water - as needed

To prepare the dough - mix all the above ingredients, adding water as needed and knead to a dough.
Cover and keep it aside for 15 minutes.

Stuffing

Cauliflower - grated - 1 cup
Onion (small)- 1/2 finely chopped 
Green chillies - 2 finely chopped - hot variety
Ginger (grated) - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Jeera/Cumin Powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/4 tsp
  • Heat a tsp of oil in a saute pan, temper the cumin.
  • Add Onions, green chilies, ginger and saute for a couple of minutes
  • Add the Shredded cauliflower and the spices and cook till the mixture is dry.
  • You can also heat this in a microwave (dries the mixture more easily than stove top)

Making Parathas

Rolling pin and board
Pan to fry
Wheat flour
Butter
  • Make two small lime sized balls from the dough. Roll them out into small roti. Dust with wheat flour as needed
  • Place one tbsp of stuffing on the top of a rolled out roti and spread it.
  • Then keep another rolled out roti on top of it and remove air pockets and seal the corners by pressing it lightly. 
  • Now roll it out with the stuffing inside gently.
  • Heat a pan and put the rolled out paratha on it. Apply butter as needed. Cook both sides well till brown spots appear.

December 3, 2012

Productive Day

I started and finished this piece today - something I haven't done in a while. The sun will get a small mirror in the center tomorrow after the coats of varnish. The painting is done henna style with acrylics on wood (not sure of the type) with textured lines. The painting is on a 12x16 cabinet door from the Habitat ReStore of Madison, WI. They are also doing a Salvage Art Show from April to June next year. I have a few more pieces of cabinet doos lying around that might also get some paint action before then. I am so thankful to have two of their stores in Madison and just the other day found two maple brand new cabinet doors for $3 each. The last day to apply is in the first week in Jan. This piece might get donated if it is not sold before then. Lately, I am very fortunate to sell paintings as I finish them :) This will be on show at a Holiday Art Fair this Friday and Saturday. 

The pieces I do on cabinet doors can still be used on a closet. That would be super cool! 

 

November 28, 2012

Easy Breezy Dessert

On the day of Thanksgiving, while my guests were still on their long drive, I cooked and prepped a few things. I made a quiche for breakfast on Friday, made the Cheesy Jalapeño Garlic Bread, made a couple of Indian sweets to send to my brother and I was planning on making a flan for dessert. I ran out of time / got tired and eventually just made this for dessert. It was still yummy - used up left over stuff and was done and in the fridge before the guests arrived. And it was perfect timing for me when they got home to boil some pasta and make a quick garlic alfredo and poach some eggs for the fettucine. 


To make this dessert (I am sure there is a South American version of this somewhere) - I simply sauteed a couple of ripe plantains and a couple of bananas (did not have enough plantains on hand), moved them to the bowl, coated with a sauce of dulce de leche + coconut milk boiled together, grated some dark chocolate on top. Voila! Yumminess :)

November 27, 2012

Baking Cheesy Jalapeño Garlic Bread

November is a crazy busy in a good way month for us. Last year, I wanted to work on a novel during NaNoWriMo, but had to postpone it due to more than two weeks of travel. This month, I signed up for Art Every Day Month. I have been doing art almost every day, but has been unable to keep up the posting / blogging. We were traveling for a little more than a week and when we got back, it was already thanksgiving week with guests arriving from out of town. Things have been, needless to say, hectic. But having guests also meant I got to cook a lot of delicious dishes - even a whole bunch of experiments in my kitchen. I am so thankful for such wonderful friends who enthusiastically encourage my culinary experiments.


This bread has been making the rounds on Pinterest for a while and I decided to give it a try. I mostly followed this recipe and added diced jalapeño peppers to the dough, used garlic in the melted butter and grated some on top of the bread and used white cheddar to fill. The bread turned out really good and I will be playing a lot more with this recipe with various flavors. Next on my list is the cranberry-walnut bread that I crave from Trader Joe's. 

November 9, 2012

Garlic Pickle

Home made pickles are easy to make and a lot more delicious. And can be low fat too. Here is a quick recipe for garlic pickle. I used a pickle masala bought from the Indian store in Chicago, but instead of the masala, one can add regular chilli powder. Also, I used a lot less oil than whats normally used for pickles - the only caveat being that the pickle has to be used up quickly, which is no issue at my home.



Ingredients: Garlic - 2 cups (crushed lightly);  turmeric - 1/2 tsp, Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp, mustard seeds & fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp for tempering; Curry Leaves - few; Asafoetida - a pinch; Sesame Oil - 1/4 cup; Pickle masala - 4 tsp (substitute more chili powder); Salt - to taste
  • Cook the crushed in a microwave for about 3 minutes (to remove excess moisture and the raw smell/taste)
  • In a pot, add 1/2 the sesame oil and once hot, temper the mustard & fenugreek seeds.
  • Add the curry leaves, garlic & let it cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the cayenne and turmeric, season with salt. Let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add the rest of the oil and if using, the pickle masala, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or so. Add the asafoetida and mix well.
  • Open and cook for a few more minutes for the flavors to meld 
  • Store in an air tight container and use up quickly!

November 8, 2012

Mexican Baked Eggs

I made this for brunch on Sunday before we watched the Packers Game. And actually I cooked it in the microwave and took much less time and energy than baking. Actually more like put together. I put two corn tortillas in the boat dish, topped them with a mixture of black beans (from a can) + my homemade salsa + shredded cheese, then broke an egg on top and cooked in the microwave till the eggs were medium done. For a side, I cooked some quinoa and tossed it with my homemade pesto and a little goat cheese for garnish. 
 

November 7, 2012

Brussels Sprouts Hash

Once again I have been bitten by the Pinterest bug. I have been seeing posts for a brussels sprouts hash with eggs on top and started craving them. And I made the hash with curry powder and coconut. It was yummy and we had it with rice and a sweet potato -yogurt gravy. I have come to appreciate my Cuisinart processor more and more everyday. This took less than 10 minutes to make including the prep time :)

Ingredients: Brussel Sprouts - 1/2 pound; Onion - 1/2; Garlic - 2 cloves; Madras Curry Powder - 1 tsp; Green Chilli - 2; salt & pepper - to taste; Pecans - handful, toasted; Coconut - shredded, handful.
  • Trim the end of brussel sprouts, and with the shredder attachment on the processor, shred them along with the onion & garlic.
  • In a pan, heat some oil, add the shredded mixture, toss to coat.
  • Add the curry powder, salt & pepper and let it cook covered for a few minutes.
  • Add the coconut and pecans and fry uncovered for another 3-4 minutes.

October 27, 2012

Grilled Cheese

There are times one just has to ignore habit and indulge! We had a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner one day last week, just because I had a craving for it. This one was made with my favorite oat & nut bread with  3 years aged cheddar, caramelized onions sauteed with apple slices and cracked pepper. Yum :)

 

October 15, 2012

8 Season's Grille

Madison Magazine's festival of Food was last week in Madison. And I won a couple of gift certificates for the 8 Season's Grille. On Saturday, S and I had a romantic luncheon there, with a three course meal. Well, we had leftovers for the next day's lunch. I was surprised we had not been to this place before. The ambience was neat and the food was good - except for a couple of minor things. 

The chai was very dilute and though S liked it, I couldn't be happy with it, especially after the wonderful description they had on their menu. Chai needs whole milk folks. Especially when it is made from a concentrate. And my quinoa quesidilla was minus the quinoa. Even when I mentioned that to the hostess, there was no explanation and it was disappointing. But the bisque was totally worth going there in the first place. Delish! And the huevos rancheros was wonderful too. We couldn't have enough of the key lime pie. 

Thank you Madison Magazine for the free lunch :)


Chai

Roasted red pepper - tomato bisque

Quinoa Quesidilla

Huevos Rancheros

Key Lime Pie

October 11, 2012

Lablabi - Tunisian Chick Pea Stew

This simple dish with chick peas and garlic from African Dinner night turned out to be Shankar's favorite of the evening. Almost all the African dishes I have looked into so far have turned out to be very flavorful, yet easy to make one pot meals. Lablabi has many variations, but I followed this recipe, and it was very yummy!


Add two cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas in a pot with four cups of water (or less). Add three cloves of minced garlic, salt and cook for a few minutes. Then add two tablespoons of harissa - I used store bought one this time, though harissa (or hrissa) is pretty easy to make. Adjust salt per taste. I didn't have cumin powder, so I added toasted cumin. Cook till the chickpeas are tender. In a separate pan, brown two chopped up slices of bread (I used 7 grains). Before serving, add a spoon of olive oil and juice half a lemon over the chickpeas and stir in the croûtons. A delicious stew in a few minutes!

I am sending this to Flavors of Tunisia, hosted by Simply Food.

October 7, 2012

Pickle

We recently had visitors from Kansas and they brought along with them some delightful & hot red peppers. The only thing I could think of making with them was a 'thokku' or a grated pickle. I also had some frozen raw mangoes that were waiting to be used up and so here is my experiment at making them work together into a delicious side kick!



Ingredients: Raw Mango - 2 (chopped); Red Chili - 8 sliced (leave seeds in for more heat); turmeric - 1/2 tsp, Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp, mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp for tempering; Curry Leaves - few; Asafoetida - a pinch; Sesame Oil - 1/4 cup; Pickle masala - 1 tsp (optional)
  • In a pot, add 1/2 the sesame oil and once hot, temper the mustard seeds.
  • Add the red chili and saute for a few minutes
  • Add the curry leaves, mangoes & let it cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the cayenne and turmeric, season with salt. Let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add the rest of the oil and if using, the pickle masala, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or so. Add the asafoetida and mix well.
  • Open and cook for a few more minutes for the flavors to meld 
  • Let it cool and grind to desired consistency. Alternately, you can grate the mangoes beforehand.
  • Store in an air tight container and use up quickly!

October 6, 2012

Tomato Rice

S and I watched a movie called Today's Special this afternoon, which is about a Sous Chef in New York who finally ends up as the Chef in his father's Indian restaurant. The nostalgic factor was pretty high in the movie with one of the older lead characters listening to the old & classic hindi songs all the time. Anyways, it brought back memories of some of the comfort food that my mom makes. The beauty of these dishes that I generally think of as comfort food is that they are simple. Easy to make, doesn't take too much time and makes you want to lick your fingers at the end of the meal :) 

The tomato rice is one such quick fix recipe in my mom's kitchen, and it has taken me multiple attempts to bring back the taste I remember from my school days! The trick is in letting everything simmer for a while. I find that when I am crunched for time, I seem to turn off the heat too soon. And these days I seem to appreciate the simmering similar to learning to appreciate negative spaces in a painting :)



Ingredients: Tomatoes - 3 (chopped); 1 medium onion - sliced; Green Chili - 2 sliced; turmeric - 1/2 tsp, Cayenne pepper - 1/2 tsp, mustard seeds & cumin & lentils - 1/4 tsp for tempering; Curry Leaves - few; Asafoetida - a pinch.
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, temper the mustard & cumin seeds & lentils, add the sliced onions, green chili and saute till translucent
  • Add the curry leaves, tomatoes & let it cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the cayenne and turmeric, season with salt & pepper. Let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add water as needed, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or so. Add the asafoetida and mix well.
  • Thicken the sauce if needed. 
  • Cook rice separately and mix with the cooked tomato sauce.
  • Serve hot with a dash of ghee!
I am sending this to the Favorite Recipes Event (Vegetarian Recipes) hosted by the Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

October 3, 2012

Salsa Verde

A couple of weeks back, our friends J & J were visiting us and brought with them a bag of delicious tomatillos and green peppers that were mild. All the pepper plants in our garden were eaten by either squirrels or bunnies this year and the tomatillos are just starting to fruit. I have been using the gift from my friends in different dishes and finally used up most of them in this simple salsa verde. Five ingredients and its totally tasty!



Either in the oven or on stove top, roast Onions (1 sliced), Peppers, Tomatillos, Cilantro and Salt. Cool and then grind to desired consistency! Simple :)
 

September 22, 2012

Butter Beans & Eggs Stew

This is a stew one of our friends made for lunch a few years back. I started adding the egg to it more recently, when I was experimenting on another dish a friend's mom used to make. Its so simple, yet so tasty. 


Ingredients: Butter Beans - 1 can (16 oz); 1 small onion - diced; 1 ripe tomato - chopped;  Curry powder - 1 tsp; Salt & Pepper to taste; Egg - 1; Green Chili - 1 diced; turmeric - 1/2 pinch, Cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp, mustard seeds & cumin - 1/4 tsp.
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, temper the mustard & cumin seeds, add the sliced onions, green chili and saute till translucent
  • Add the tomatoes & let it cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, cayenne and turmeric, let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add the beans, cook for a few more minutes
  • Ad enough water to submerge the beans. Let it come to a boil
  • Once the sauce starts to thicken, beat the egg lightly and add, mix thoroughly.
  • Turn off the heat when the eggs are cooked. Serve hot with rice!
I am also sending this dish to MLLA #51, as the event is starting it's 4th year. Congratulations to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook for starting and to Desi Soccer Mom for hosting this month's event!

September 17, 2012

Madagascar Zucchini Skillet

Though its been a while since I have posted anything on my cooking the world challenge, I am slowly moving along and covering a new country now and then. Here is the zucchini skillet I made a few weeks back. It was quick, easy and delicious.

 


Ingredients: Zucchini / Summer Squash - 4 - sliced; Tomatoes - 1 chopped;  Garlic - 2 cloves minced; Green Chilies - 1 minced; Salt & pepper - to taste.
  • In a skillet, add olive oil and once hot, add the garlic and saute till slightly brown. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes & green chilies, cook for a few more minutes. 
  • Add the squash / zucchini and cover with a lid. Cook till the vegetables are tender
  • Stir to mix everything and serve!

September 13, 2012

Red & Wild Rice with Cheese

We get all these amazing cheeses in WI and one of my favorites is a cheese that can be cooked / grilled. The stall at the farmer's market selling this cheese is always crowded and there is a line for tasting the wonderful slightly roasted cheese. Last month I got one of these and with a twist on the paneer fried rice, made this Cheese & Peas pulav. Turned out great!



Ingredients: Wild Rice - 1 cup, Himalayan red rice - 1 cup;  Onion - 1/2 chopped into small pieces; Cheese - 16 oz chopped into small cubes; Peas - 1/3 cup; Salt & pepper - to taste; Curry Powder - 1 tsp; Olive oil - 1 tbsp.
  • In a pressure cooker, add olive oil and once hot, add the onions and saute till translucent. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Add the peas and the cheese, cook for a few more minutes. 
  • Add the curry powder, saute for a few more minutes. Add the red & wild rice and cook for about 3 whistles
  • Stir to mix everything and serve!

September 11, 2012

Moroccan Carrot Salad

A few weeks back, this Moroccan Carrot Salad with Black lentils seemed to be all over Pinterest. I finally gave in and tried this recipe. I did however make my own dressing with yogurt, curry powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin & coriander powder. I also finally got to use the black lentils (also called the vegetarian caviar) I got from NY last year. The salad turned out to be really good and the dressing was yum!

 

July 28, 2012

Spinach with Tofu & Peanuts

Last weekend we brought back a variety of produce from the farmer's market and on Sunday I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen and made enough food for the week! We also ate out one night and did take-out on another and the week went by really fast and busy. Now about 20 of my paintings are ion exhibit at the Historic August Weber Haus in Cedarburg, WI. I did another event at the International Hostel in Madison on Friday night, had my booth at the Edgerton Community Market this morning and will be live painting for the first time during a concert next week. Life is busy!

 

Here is a quick greens / tofu scramble recipe. I made this dish with Amaranth - a delicious find at the Dane County Farmer's market.

Ingredients: Spinach / other greens - 2 cups chopped, Onion - 1/2 chopped into small pieces; Tofu - 16 oz scrambled; Peanuts - 1/3 cup roasted;  Green chillies -  2 diced; Mustard, Cumin, Yellow split peas - 1 tsp for tempering; Salt & pepper - to taste; Curry Powder - 3 tbsp; Olive oil - 1 tbsp.
  • In a pan, add olive oil and once hot, add the mustard, cumin and yellow split peas an wait for the mustard to pop. Then add the onions and saute till translucent. Season with salt & pepper
  • Add the peanuts, cook for a few more minutes. Add the tofu and spinach.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes, add the spices. Cook about 10 minutes or so till spinach is tender and the tofu is starting to brown a little. Serve warm with toast for breakfast or with rice and roti!

July 21, 2012

She is a Beauty

I just finished this piece yesterday and am hoping she would go to the home of an inspiring friend. This friend has a yurt for a second home which is so heavenly and is adorned with blue & sparkly stuff. This henna-style peacock painted on wood would fit in perfectly and I can't wait for my friend to see this piece next week. 7x15 inches - acrylic on wood. Check out my works at www.artbybala.com and also do like my FB page at www.facebook.com/artbybala for regular updates!

 

June 29, 2012

An Easy Crowd Pleaser

Sometimes even failed experiments can turn into something wonderful! That's certainly the case with this crowd pleasing Almond Cookies I made for Shankar's birthday party. I was going to make a meringue, but over-beat the egg whites. So, I added ground almond and powdered sugar with the egg whites and baked it as cookies. They were a huge hit at the party, as they were gluten free too. We used the frosting (coconut + pecan + sugar + cream cheese) to sandwich the cookies and it was yum!

 

June 28, 2012

Maple, Dates & Pecan Scones

One of the first thing I do when I go to work is to throw scones in the oven for 13 minutes and ice them. Yesterday was my day off and what do I do first thing in the morning? Bake a batch of delish scones and glaze them! I love my work :)

I have a standard scone dough recipe - the most simplest - I think it was adapted from the Joy of Baking. I then add whatever flavors I think of to this basic recipe. I use my food processor in making the dough, and add the buttermilk or cream as I keep mixing and hence no standard measure for this ingredient. 



Ingredients (for 8 scones): Flour - 2 cups (I use a mixture of all-purpose, whole wheat and whatever else I find appealing); Sugar - 1/2 cup (brown, white, fine); Butter - 5 or 6 tbsp; Baking powder - 1 tsp; Baking soda - 1 tsp; Salt - 1/4 tsp; Dates & Pecans - 1 cup (chopped); Maple syrup - 2 tbsp; Buttermilk or Cream - as needed.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F
  • In the food processor add all the dry ingredients (except the dates and pecans) and pulse a few times 
  • Add the butter, sliced into small pieces and pulse till the dough is crumbly
  • Add maple syrup, run the processor and slowly add the buttermilk till the dough is soft, but not wet
  • Add the dates / pecans, pulse once of twice and transfer the dough to cutting board
  • Shape into a large round and slice into 8 pieces or use a mold. Sprinkle some sugar on top
  • Bake till golden (15 - 20 minutes)!
  • For the maple glaze, I mixed powdered sugar with maple syrup and a little water - heated for 30 seconds in the microwave and brushed on top of the scones.

Now there is healthy breakfast to go for the rest of the week!

June 18, 2012

Iced Chai - Concentrate

I brought back this wonderful growler (for a locally made Kombucha) from work today and taking a leaf out of my work kitchen, decided to make a chai concentrate. This is a concentrate that can be mixed with 1:1 milk for a delicious iced chai. I basically used my Cuisinart Coffeemaker to brew my tea and added sugar and spices. In the coffeepot, I added cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and dried ginger. I added the tea leaves in the filter, and in my coffee maker you can steep by removing the pot (the pause and pour stuff). So, I would let the leaves soak in hot water, insert the pot, and remove for the next round. After about 5 rounds, here is a half gallon of chai concentrate.   

May 11, 2012

Curried Chickpeas with Butternut Squash Soup

I made this soup for a vegan special yesterday, for about 15+ servings over a hot plate. Comfort food :)



Ingredients: Onion - 1, chopped into small pieces; Diced Tomatoes - 2 cans; Butternut squash puree (from imagine) - 3 packs;  Carrot -  2 diced; Chickpeas - 1 large can; Salt & pepper - to taste; Curry Powder - 3 tbsp; Paprika - 1 tbsp; Coriander + Cumin Powder - 2 tbsp. 
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, add the onions and saute till translucent. Season with salt & pepper
  • Add the carrots, cook for a few more minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes, add the spices. Cook about 10 minutes or so till the veggies are tender.
  • Add the squash puree. Simmer for about 10 minutes and adjust the seasoning.
  • I used a hand blender to puree part of the soup and left about 1/2 of it chunky. Serve with warm bread!

May 2, 2012

Cookie Time

I will be visiting my brother and a few friends this weekend and made a bunch of cookies today to take with me. My brother wanted chocolate chips in the cookies and so here are delicious White chocolate almond raisin coconut cookies with oats! Quite a mouthful :) 

 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Mix the wet ingredients: 1.5 cups of sugar, 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup ghee (I ran out of butter hence substituted ghee) -- cream together. Add 2 eggs, flavor (I used Kentucky bourbon sorghum vanilla syrup!).
  • Add the dry ingredients while mixing: 2 tsp baking soda, 2.5 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Stir in the add-ons: 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, 1/4 cup coconut flakes, 1/4 cup rolled oats.
  • Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  • Use a ice-cream scoop, space them well apart and bake for 12-15 minutes till golden
  • Cool and enjoy!
With these amounts and a standard scoop, I got about 52 cookies. 

April 27, 2012

My Baby is 3

Kalki turned three today! Its so hard to believe that he is already 3 and he has been enriching our lives for the last 2 and 1/2 years. We celebrated yesterday with a big non-fat frozen vanilla yogurt. He also got  hardy balls that he can't really chew on to play with now. And a new rope toy. He is a very happy baby and he makes us happy :)

 
 
 

April 25, 2012

Another Sweet Treat

Breakfast from a couple of days ago: Challah bread with raisins from Whole Foods made into a French Toast with leftover 2 tsps of sweetened condensed milk, one egg, a tsbp of coconut and a tbsp of chopped walnuts :) A hearty one for sure!

April 23, 2012

Plantains with Peas

Inspired by a recipe on Global Table Adventures, I made this as a side for last night's dinner. I didn't have corn and hence substituted peas. I made this spicy by adding berbere spice mix. I also sprinkled a tsp of coconut on this before turing off the heat. Checking Cameroon off my list!


Ingredients: Plantain - 1; chopped into small pieces; 1/2 Red Bell pepper - diced; Peas - 1/2 cup (I used frozen);  Salt & Pepper to taste; Berbere - 1 tsp (use any spice mix). 
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the plantain & red bell pepper. Season with salt & pepper & spice mix.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes, add about 1/4 cup of water.
  • Cover & simmer for about 5 minutes till the plantain is tender
  • Uncover and cook for a couple more minutes to slightly roast the veggies.

April 22, 2012

Happy Baby

Nothing makes my baby more happy than going for a long swim in a lake & playing with sticks :)

 
 
 

April 21, 2012

Isthmus Green Day 2012

Volunteering for the Isthmus Green day, 4 of us managed to stuff 1000 bags with about 11 different things in a span of 3 hours yesterday. And today is the big day happening at Monona Terrace in Madison.  The keynote speaker is Mark Bittman and I am so excited to see him and hear his presentation this afternoon. Moreover I will be volunteering again at the main stage during his talk. I don't own any of his books, so hoping to come home with may be a picture with him. To top off the excitement - Dane County  outdoor farmers market starts today at the capitol! yay!

April 17, 2012

Green Eggplant & Lentils stew

When S brought home amazing Thai green eggplants, I knew I had make mualle again. This time I made it without pressure cooking and also with a Caribbean spice blend that one of my friends gave me. And I got to use more of the pomegranate molasses too! Served it with rice, ven pongal and fried papads!

 

April 16, 2012

Sweet Plantain Treat

When we were in India, we never used ripe plantains for anything and I feel like I missed out on the deliciousness of the ripe plantain all those years! Even when we moved to the US for the most part when I didn't get a chance to cook the plantains and they get ripe, we have thrown them out. Oh my! Now I look for the ripe with darkening skin plantains in the grocery store. 



Here is a simple yet rich sweet treat made with ripe plantains. Simply slice the plantains, pan fry them in a little oil or if feeling adventurous - in ghee or butter. Arrange on a plate, drizzle some sweetened condensed milk on top and enjoy. I had left over sweetened condensed milk and it came in handy to use up a ripe plantain! If not, simply boil a little milk with sugar and pour on top. Super rich & yummy!

April 12, 2012

Painting & a Show

When I started this week, my goal was to finish two paintings and I did it! This is the last Mandala Painting (acrylic on canvas) for a show that starts tomorrow. I can't believe I am already starting my third show - all in the span of 2-3 months and this month is super awesome because I am having two concurrent shows. I will be putting up my paintings at BC Hair on the east side of Madison tonight, and this show will go on till the end of May. Check out my website Art by Bala for more. 



I am also planning to stop by the one at Froth House later tonight and see if any of the pieces sold this week. The opening last Friday was really good with about 20 or so friends stopping by. I have also sold three paintings so far at Froth House and a couple of necklaces.

Though I am not working at the University anymore, I am still continuing my research and things are busy. Too many things going on and my table is so full. Both exciting & exhausting!

April 11, 2012

Semolina Cake for Valentine's Day

Unlike last year's Valentine's day time consuming Biscuit Joconde Imprime, this year I made a sweet semolina recipe (Rava kesari) and molded it to a heart-shape and topped with rose petal spread. We took this to a friend's house for lunch. Simple, but delish! 



Ingredients: Semolina (rava / sooji) - 1 cup, milk - 1/2 cup, water - 1 1/2 cups; Sugar - 1 1/2 cups; Ghee - 2-4 tbsp; Cashews - 4-5 tbsp broken pieces; Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp; Food Coloring - orange - few drops; Saffron - 5-6 strands.
  • Heat the pan and add semolina and toast till golden
  • Remove from heat & transfer. Reheat the pan and add 1/2 the ghee
  • Add the cashews and roast till brown
  • Add water and milk, bring to a slight boil
  • Add the semolina back, stirring to break any lumps
  • Add sugar, saffron, cardamom and let cook till the semolina is completely cooked
  • Add a few drops of the food coloring. If using powder, mix with a little water & add
  • Add the rest of the ghee
  • Cool and mold to desired shape!

April 8, 2012

Healthy Medley

These days I hardly take the time to plan and execute a wonderful slow cooked meal. Its mostly make do with what I have on hand. Here is a medley that turned out to be a lot more tastier than what I expected. I shredded carrots & brussel sprouts in the food processor, sauteed them for a few minutes with seasoning till the sprouts were cooked but still crunchy, added a handful of walnut pieces and whisked the saute in a bowl of yogurt. Creamy & crunchy at the same time with the added texture of walnuts. We were wishing the dish would never get over - it was that good :)

 

April 6, 2012

Art Show Opening & Reception

A few months back, I wasn't even dreaming of this, but today I am very excited for my second art show happening at The Froth House in Madison, WI. The paintings went up on April 1 and today is the reception. I am happy I will get to see friends I havent seen in a while and a few are coming from far away places (not just for this, but definitely a bonus :)). Will post more pictures after the event, but here is a sample -- an festive elephant & an Om Ganesh. My paintings are generally very colorful and they seem to pop out really well against the red wall of the Froth House! To add to all this excitement - my next show starts in a week! In the meantime, check out www.artbybala.com to see more of my works.

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