November 17, 2013

Dessert Planning

I am having guests again this year for thanksgiving and I have been so happy the last couple of weeks since finding out! And of course, trying to figure out what to make for the big dinner. So many different dishes are being considered and finally I decided on the dessert today! Yay!

I made this Coconut - Orange -Caramel flan in 2012 April for a party. Version 1 was made in small ramekins in the microwave. It was slightly dense as I forgot to add the milk, but still very delicious.

The bigger piece was made in a quiche plate in the oven and was perfect. Almost everyone had at least 2 pieces and one friend had 5 :) Hopefully it will turn out as well when I try it the week after next! Now I have just got the soup and a couple more dishes to decide...

November 11, 2013

The Perfect Gift

I am celebrating yet another trip around the sun today and look what you all got me this year. Since I am so close to my target I went ahead and got this wonderful set up. Even managed to take booth shots yesterday before the snow here today. Thanks again and keep sharing my art with your world! 

Trimline Canopy tent & Flourish mesh panels that even include the set up for a french door, weights and 2 tall director's chairs are already here!


November 6, 2013

Kelekosh from Azerbaijan

As I cook my way around the world, here is yet another recipe that I adapted from the AZ Cookbook - a Creamy Yogurt Soup! I like to make this soup in the fall, though in our house we love to eat yogurt anytime. I also used some Quark in this which made it even more delicious. This reminded me of thick kadhi from Indian cooking.

Ingredients: Yogurt + Quark - about 3 cups; Onions - 1 yellow - diced; Garlic  - 2 cloves minced; Mint - 2 tbsp chopped; Walnuts - 1/2 cup chopped; All-purpose flour - 2 tbsp; Egg - 1;  Salt & Pepper - to taste; Water - 2 cups, as needed. 
  • In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt / quark, flour and egg.
  • In a pot, add the walnuts, toast for a couple of minutes. Add a tbsp of butter or oil and add the onions and garlic. 
  • Once the onions are soft, add the yogurt mixture, turn down the heat and cook for a few minutes. Add enough for desired consistency. Cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Season with salt & pepper. Garnish with mint. 
  • Serve warm!
The original recipe called for using a tablespoon or so of rice in the mixture and cook till the rice is soft. You could always add a tablespoon of cooked rice towards the end. 

October 30, 2013

Hand Painted Coasters

I saw these amazing Spanish porcelain tiles at the Habitat ReStore in Madison and knew right away that I wanted to create coasters with them. I have not played with these before and the process involved a lot of learning. And for once, youtube was not really helpful. But in the end, the coasters are turning out beautiful. These are the ones I have completely finished so far. A second batch is waiting to be sanded and coated with another layer of resin and a third batch is waiting to be painted. A total of 88 tiles for 22 sets. Pricing and ordering information on these limited edition coasters can be found here. Perfect for the holidays, wouldn't you say?


October 27, 2013

Going Pro

I am doing a little fund raiser on IndieGoGo to take my art to the next level: Next summer, I want to hit the professional art festivals in the mid-west including Madison's Art Fair on the Square. I need your help and support for getting there. Please check out my campaign by clicking the link below, contribute whatever you can and help me spread the word about my works. And I have some wonderful perks for you along the way. In case you are new to my works, please check out my facebook page and my website

August 16, 2013

Sweet Potato Salad

When S was in St. Louis last month I had asked him to get me a couple of pounds of the white sweet potatoes. The last of those were used yesterday for dinner in a delicious salad from North Africa, adapted from World Food Cafe - 2. It was hard to not keep eating this salad as the rest of dinner was cooking!

Ingredients: Japanese White Sweet Potatoes - 2 boiled, peeled and diced; Ginger - 1 tbsp minced; Saffron - a pinch; Onion - small, diced; Cumin - 1 tsp; Cayenne Pepper - 1/2 tsp; Black olives - 1 handful; Cilantro - 2 tbsp chopped; Lemon Juice - 1 tbsp; Salt - according to taste; 
  • Add olive oil in a hot pan, and saute onions and ginger for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the sweet potatoes, saffron, salt, cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except lemon juice, cook for a few more minutes. 
  • Turn off the heat, sprinkle the lemon juice, serve!
I made the easy version by cooking the sweet potatoes first in the microwave. Another option would be not to cook them ahead, but after adding them in the pan and using enough water to cook them through.

August 14, 2013

Kalki says...

every time we take him out for a swim!

August 13, 2013

Spicy Baked Falafels

These days, one of the utensils in the house that gets used a lot seems to be the mini-muffin pan. Snacks and finger food are a lot easier to bake in these and saves me a lot of time and effort of deep-frying. I have baked falafels before, and now I adapted the recipe some more. Loved how they turned out! 

Ingredients (For 24 falafels):  Chickpeas - cooked 2 cups; Egg - 1; Tahini - 1 tbsp; Onion - 1/2 diced finely; Cilantro - minced 1 tbsp; Garlc - 2 cloves minced; cayenne pepper - 1tsp; Cumin - 1/2 tsp powdered; Salt & pepper - to taste; olive oil - 1 tsp;  Water - as needed.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F
  • Coarsely blend the cooked chickpeas in a food processor. Transfer to a mixing bowl
  •  Add all the rest of the ingredients with the chickpea and mix them thoroughly
  • Take about 1- 1.5 tbsp of this mixture and add to each well of the muffin pan. Pat down a little
  • Bake for about 20 minutes till they are golden
  • Serve hot with a sauce on the side
I am sending this recipe to What's with my cuppa? hosted by Nandoo's kitchen and to Bake Fest hosted by Manjula, an event started by Vardhini.

July 31, 2013

Cucumber Sweet & Sour Pachchadi

As I was browsing through my food pictures to see what I want to post today, I came across this one from a couple of years back. Now that we are also getting a lot of cucumbers from the CSA work-share I am doing this summer, its time to revisit this easy recipe. This recipe is adapted from the book Cooking with Pedatha - A cookbook of vegetarian recipes from Andhra. 

Ingredients: Cucumber - 2 medium - chopped; Tamarind paste - 2 tbsp; Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp; Sambhar powder - 1 tsp; Sesame seeds - 1 tsp; Jaggery - 1 tbsp; Curry leaves & Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp; Green Chili - 1 diced;  mustard seeds & cumin & lentils - 1/2 tsp
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, temper the mustard & cumin seeds, lentils, green chili , curry leaves and saute till translucent
  • Dry roast the sesame seeds and blend into a coarse powder
  • Add the chopped cucumber, tamarind paste, sambhar powder, sesame seeds, jaggery and turmeric. 
  • Add salt, adjust seasoning. Let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Garnish with cilantro & serve!
I am also sending this dish to ONLY Cookbooks Event hosted by Runner Girl in the Kitchen and started by Pari

July 26, 2013

Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I had the opening reception for my biggest show of the year last night. The Gallery at Yahara Bay Distillers was a wonderful venue with gracious hosts and we all had a great time. The best part was when three of my paintings found a new home and I hit the big 100 (# of paintings sold/donated since I started showing in Feb 2012). 

As usual, I made the hors d'oeuvres for the evening. I spent a good chunk of time on Wednesday in the kitchen and all four items were baked (three of them in mini muffin pans)! At least the weather was a little cooler to manage having the oven on for a good 2-3 hours.

One of the dishes I made was chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter frosting. The batter was adapted from a cake recipe and improvised quite a bit.

Ingredients (For 48 cupcakes):  All-purpose Flour - 1 1/2 cups; Cocoa Powder (I used Dagoba drinking chocolate with spices) - 1 cup; Sugar - 3/4 cup; Butter - 2 tbsp; Vanilla - 1 tsp; Salt - dash; Baking soda - 2 tsp; Baking Powder - 1 tsp;  Eggs - 2; Yogurt - 1/2 cup;  Water - 1/2 cup.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F
  • Line muffin pans with baking cups
  • In the mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients, mix them quickly
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix well with an electric mixer
  • Pour the batter into the baking cups, about 3/4th full (about a tbsp)
  • Bake for about 20 minutes! 

For the peanut butter frosting, I whipped together 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, milk  2-3 tsp - as needed. Once mixed to the desired consistency, I used a ziplock bag to pipe some on the cupcakes!

I am sending this to Cupcake Fest, hosted by Sreevalli.

July 9, 2013

Cherry Almond Pie

Last weekend S and I were in Oshkosh, for the Paine Art Center's Faire on the Green. We had a good time with friends and a good day with our little booth at the fair. One of our friends has a cheery tree - and a couple of our other friends were gracious enough to share some of their pickings with us. So I spent a good chunk of time today pitting them and the first batch I pitted were used for a cherry pie.

I just mixed 3 cups of pitted tart cherries with 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp Almond extract and 1/2 cup chopped almonds for the filling. Poured the filling in a pre-made crust from Trader Joe's and baked for 40 minutes. Now I am ready for an early dinner and dessert.

March 25, 2013

Mtedza - Peanut puffs from Malawi

Tonight was African Night at home. I made a peanut - calabaza squash stew and mbatata (Sweet potato cookies) and mtedza - these delicious & nutritious cookies made with peanuts. I adapted the recipe from here and used almond meal in addition to the peanuts and also some candied ginger! I used very less butter and added a little milk to bring the dough together. Checking Malawi off my list and Snacks for the rest of the week :)

Ingredients (For 16 cookies):  Whole Wheat Flour - 1/2 cups; Peanuts - roasted, 1 cup; Almond Meal - 1/4 cup; Sugar - 1/4 cup; Butter - 2 tbsp; Vanilla - 1/4 tsp; Salt - dash; Candied ginger - chopped, 1/4 cup; Milk - 1 tbsp. 
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F
  • In a pan, I roasted the peanuts, as I had raw ones at home.
  • In the food processor add the roasted peanuts with the sugar and pulse till peanuts are chopped. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except milk and pulse.
  • Add the milk and mix a little till the dough comes together.
  • Shape into small ball, flatten a little, and put them evenly spaced on a cookie sheet
  • Bake till golden (15 - 20 minutes)! 
  • These can be dusted with icing sugar if needed. 

March 24, 2013

Sautéed Eggplants

I never liked eggplants, or as the smaller Indian varieties are called - Brinjals, as a kid. These days I can't seem to get enough of them, especially as the smaller varieties are hard to find. My ultimate comfort food, cooking with them, is the Ennai Kozhambu, and the next best thing is to saute them with coconut or peanuts. I am not a fan of mushed eggplants and try to cook them in the microwave first and not turn them much when sautéing.

Ingredients: 6 small eggplants - quartered; Coconut - frozen is better than dessicated - 2 tbsp; salt to taste; Red Chilli powder - 1/4 tsp; Turmeric - a dash; 1/2 tsp cumin; 1/2 tsp coriander powder; 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds; 1/2 tsp Urad dal + yellow split peas; 1 tbsp oil
  • Slice the eggplants, put them in a bowl with enough water and microwave, covered, for about 7 - 8 minutes.
  • In the saute pan, add the oil, wait till it is hot, add the tempering - mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal and yellow split peas. 
  • Wait for the mustard to pop and the lentils to turn red. Add the almost cooked and drained eggplants. 
  • Season with coriander powder, salt, chilli pepper, turmeric. Mix well, taking care not to mush the eggplants.
  • Let cook for about 5 minutes or so. Add the coconut powder, and cook for a couple more minutes.

March 7, 2013

Jalapeño Cheddar Quiche

Quiche has become a standard breakfast fare over the weekends here, especially since I love to bake in the winter. I either make them crustless or use a store-bought pie shell for the crust (we like the one from Trader Joe's after a friend's recommendation). Most of the time, it doesn't take a lot of planning, as long as I have eggs, some cheese and veggies at home. When we had friends over for a break last year, I made this Jalapeño & Cheddar Quiche. 


Ingredients: Pie Crust -1; Cheddar cheese - 8oz, grated; Eggs - 3; Parmesan Cheese - 4 tbsp; Mushrooms - 1/2 cup chopped; Jalapeños - 5 count minced; Red / Green Bell peppers - 1/2 cup chopped.
  • Set oven to bake at 400F.
  • Follow the instructions for the pie crust and pre-bake it for 15 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl add the eggs, cheddar cheese (hold back 2 tbsps), season with salt, pepper  and  mix well with an electric mixer.
  • On a saute pan, cook the peppers and mushrooms till a little tender and season with salt, pepper. I also use a dried herb mix from my garden for seasoning. 
  • Add the veggies to the egg mixture.
  • Pull the pre-baked crust from the oven, mix the parmesan and cheddar cheese, add 2 tbsp on the bottom.
  • Add the egg/ veggie mixture and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Pull out from the oven, add the rest of the cheese on top, garnish with jalapeños and bake for another 10 minutes. 
  • Let cool slightly, slice and enjoy!

March 3, 2013

the girl and the fig

Last month we were in CA - a business trip for S and a fun time for me - we made a day trip to the Sonoma Valley and hit my favorite wine celler - The Cline. After a wonderful tour of the winery, we went to the town and had lunch at 'the girl and the fig'. It was a early Valentine's day celebration for us and we had fun.

Started the lunch with their cheese board of Goat cheeses, fig and apricot compote with pears, candied nuts and fig cake.

Entree was a Butternut Squash Arancini with peppercress, oyster mushrooms and mixed chicories.  The portion size was really small and a little disappointing for an entree, but it was delicious.
And we finished off with Walnut Clafouti and ice-cream :) Next time I am making Claufouti, it's going to be in single servings in a muffin tin!

February 18, 2013

On the Wagon, Off the Wagon...

 Being on a diet has been an interesting experiment so far. I did manage to survive the first two weeks on the phase I South Beach Diet and losing a few pounds in the process. But I did not follow the diet 100% though. For the most part I was ok, and I would say the success rate of the first two weeks was about 90 - 95%. The phase two was a bit more challenging and I did about 80%. Then came a bunch of traveling and the diet was out the window. And anytime life gets busy, it seems like the blog gets the least attention. So, here is a round up of some of the dishes I ate during the phase I. I probably ate about a cup of rice in those two weeks. Loaded up on a lot of veggies. 

Cabbage Kootu & Carrot / peanut Saute

Roasted cauliflower & Pan seared tofu

Chard with chickpeas & Ratatouille
Sambhar with Raita and Cauliflower

Spicy egg fry & Dal with Radish
 I did not really feel any big difference other than that my brain refused to acknowledge satiety no matter how much I ate. Am not sure if it was really an endocrinological response or just psychological. At one point I felt like I was making up for lack of starch by eating more and had to watch out for that. I am going back to phase I again this week and next, to help shed the pounds I gained while enjoying great food while traveling :) 

January 14, 2013

New Home for a Painting & Dieting Woes

After three weeks of trying to find a time that works, this painting titled "The Pond" went to its new home! I hope this brings lots of joy to the person who took it home. I am glad another one of my paintings has moved on :)

And last night, I had a reception for a group show with two more local artists. It was fun and if not for my migraine, I would have stayed for longer. Days 3, 4 and 5 on the South Beach Diet Phase I have passed and it has been eventful. Day 3 was good with a big burst of energy in the afternoon and I painted for about 3 hours. Friends were visiting that night and I made an eggplant moussaka adapted from the Moosewood cookbook and Vegetarian cooking. The side was a simple sauté of broccoli and cauliflower with coconut. We had the soup I had made the previous day and it had become a lot spicier, even for my taste. Dessert was a simple fruit salad and mochi icecream that I watched everyone else eat, till S gave me a small bite :) My friend who came over, had also done the South Beach Diet and it was really wonderful to actually talk to someone who has gone through with it and has seen tremendous results. She was very encouraging and I am glad to have the support.

Day 4 was bad, I woke up with the migraine and my stomach was hurting. I had an egg with salsa and sour cream for breakfast. S cooked during the day and made a delicious sambhar with onions, radish and eggplants, a green beans / carrots saute, a raita with cucumber, tomatoes and onion. I had a big bowl of all of this with my tofu scramble for lunch. After the reception last night, I had the same for dinner but with 1/4 of a cup of rice. Falling off the wagon already! I figured I might as well make some sensible accomodations that suffer too much.

Today, I had leftover sambhar and the broccoli/ cauliflower saute for lunch. And more of the leftover moussaka for dinner. Migraine also continues on day 2, but I managed to paint for an hour today and am now well rested. Only 9 more days to go :)

January 11, 2013

New Year, New Diet

All these years, I never thought I would go on a diet. But, reality is different and the amount of time spent on the couch, combined with increasing waist line among other things has led me to kick start a weight loss program. As being a vegetarian is already a restricted diet, I was not sure what I wanted to do in terms of controlling what I eat. Inspired by some friends' posts on facebook - one of them is on a paleo diet, and also by some folks I follow on pinterest, on a little whim I decided to do the South Beach Diet. This diet is basically cutting down on sugar / starch intake. There seems to be a lot of options too for vegetarians and well, I started yesterday. 

It was a little stressful yesterday as I felt unprepared to jump right in. Anyways, I had dark coffee to start the day. Then I had an fried egg for breakfast. I made a tofu/egg/carrots scramble, a curried lentil soup with green jackfruits and a saute of carrots. Though carrots are not allowed in the phase I of the diet, thats all I had at home and didn't want to not use them up. I went shopping last night, even a little over board, just to make sure I have enough to eat whenever there is a craving for sugar. I made adai - with three different lentils and very little rice fir binding last night with a coconut/carrot chutney.

I also had a nasty headache last night and wanted to make sure I ate well today. So I decided to go back to food I am very familiar with and knew I liked from before. Today, I made a spicy roasted red pepper - tomato soup and a shepherd's pie without the crust. For the soup, I used a berbere spice powder I got from St. Louis the last time we were there and it added a good amount of heat to the soup. I used up the tofu scramble made yesterday along with cottage cheese, broccoli, sour cream, mushrooms and scallions for the pie. Lunch today was delish and filling. For a snack this evening, I made a chickpeas sundal. 

I could totally tell the difference in my body from lacking sugar intake. I am not sure how much of it is psychological. I was more tired yesterday than today, but there could be other factors. Today I felt more fulfilled and happy, mostly because I cooked for myself! Most of the time, I cook for others and take great pleasure and satisfaction from seeing others eat well, but today I did everything for myself and it did feel good. 12 more days of no sugar / no starch :)
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