Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Kitchen Renovation

Almost a year to the date. I look back at the past year of drawing up plans, visiting the township offices, working with a contractor who let me have my way and gazillion inspections; and am pleasantly pleased with the result. Especially the kitchen. Though ready way back in February, for a perfect birthday treat, I never got around to taking pictures of the kitchen - a clean kitchen ;)

The best part of the kitchen - the huge granite island. A whitish granite with hints of green and mauve. Love the glass inserts and the steel pendant lights.

By far, my most favorite - the range. By far, his most favorite - the vent. By far, the most difficult decision - the backsplash.
The biggest nightmare of this kitchen design - disguising the soffit.
With absolutely no wall cabinets to eat into, the microwave is tucked into the island.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Easy Breezy Bruschetta

If I think Italian and If I think appetizer... I have to be thinking of Bruschetta. Introduced to it at La Belle Vie, though I have never been able to replicate it completely, this came close.

Heirloom tomatoes seeded and diced. A good measure of olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper. Basil and chopped capers. All let to marinade for an hour in the fridge and topped on crusty bread. Can never go wrong with this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time for Tart

Inspired by Tartelette's Swiss chard, Goat cheese Proscuitto Tart, this eggetarian version has vegan goat cheese, swiss chard and grape tomatoes with a generous dose of chervil.
Took the easy way out and used a store-bough puff pastry sheet instead of a home-made base. But it was still good...

Puff Pastry Sheet
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard washed, dried and torn into bits
12-14 grape tomatoes
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 oz crumbled goat cheese
a few sprigs of chervil

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat and cook the onion until translucent, add the Swiss chard and cooked until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Layer the onion and Swiss chard at the bottom of the crust and slowly pour the egg mixture over it. Top with slices of grape tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the tart starts getting golden brown and the custard is cooked. Spinkle with freshly chopped chervil.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ratatouille's Ratatouille a.k.a. Confit Byaldi

This is all thanks to my vegetarian friends and "taster". Else, I doubt I would have tried this one. It has been in the back of my mind ever since I watched Remy whip one up more than two years ago. The recipe is an exact replica of the one posted on NYtimes - right down to investing in an offset spatula for the plating.

1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a bay leaf
Kosher salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.
Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diwali Spread

Its Deepavali... The festival of lights in India... And when all of us end up in Portland, we whip up a feast...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Amuse Bouche

Grated potatoes baked up with butter till golden brown. The usual filling for these nests would be smoked salmon and capers topped of with creme fraiche and dill. But here, is the vegetarian version. Roasted red peppers with a slice of onion, tomato and avocado, topped with creme fraiche and cilantro. Lovely beautiful colours. Though it is hyped as an quick make-ahead appetizer, it takes a while for even a non-stickler like me to assemble them all... But definitely an easy-to-make crowd-pleaser.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Plum Tart

After having dismal luck trying to find peaches or pears or nectarines, settled for these unripened plums to make my plum tart. Let it sit for a while with sugar and fell in love with this vanilla cream. Wasnt quite sure how pouring in cream as the tart base wouldnt make the tart soggy and was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the mini tart turned out. And this tart travelled all the way across the country to B's tea party.

1 1/2 Cups milk
1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp melted butter

Bring the milk and split vanilla bean to boil and remove from heat. Beat the yolks, sugar and cornstarch until pale white. Return to heat and simmer with constant stirring till it thickens. Remove the vanilla bean. Add in the butter. Forms a great base for fruit tarts and probably can be used as custard for a summer fruit salad.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall is in the air!!!

And we were not even in New England. Just at the Adirondacks. Have never had much luck with fall colors. The one year, C actually managed to take me in tow, it was past peak. The next few years, I always had a paper submission deadline while they went off for hikes to see the gorgeous colors in northern MN. Last time we drove to Willoughvale, it was past peak too. This was the first time I saw fall in all its glory. Granted we, I mean, he had to drive about 600 miles. But, it was worth it. Absolutely no traffic. Stop anywhere to take in the views. Now, only now, do I begin to comprehend C's madness.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Peruvian adventure in Portland!!!

We sat and listened while the waitress wowed us with her "Peruvian" accent as she described the specials for the day. Definitely only for the adventurous she said. The alligator with carrots and something else.. A crab soup of some sort. She was almost finished describing the day's specials. "Are we going to eat 'gators and crabs?!!" a small horrified voice piped up. Her eyes wider than ever. No hon, your parents and aunts and uncle just arent *that* adventurous. She relaxed as we settled for an abolutely amazing potato frittata, a fresh citrusy quinoa salad, chicken wings, the most tender lamb shank (no wonder its star dish) and mushrooms with the best fries ever. Not to forget, an exquisite sea food soup where the shrimps were skewered on lemongrass. Oh the so subtle taste of lemongrass in those perfectly cooked shrimp. Almost a peruvian take on the chicken pot pie... only better!!! And did I mention the potato bread with the spicy sauces(of course, only one was spicy enough for us). And for dessert, we resisted the "sigh of lima" and fell for the creme brulee trio. How, just how did you make that pear creme brulee??!! Outstanding. At Andina it was definitely from the Andes!!! Maybe one day I will confirm that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Almond-butter cookies

It took me about a year to return a neighbor's favour. Made almond butter cookies for her but also made these gluten-free version. Adapted from smittenkitchen's yet another recipe.

1/2c quinoa flour
1/2c tapioca flour
1/4c flaxmeal
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips
Mix all these in a bowl

1 c almond butter
1/2 c butter
3/4 c sugar
1/2c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whip the butter toegther. And then cream in the sugars. Beat in the egg and mix in the vanilla extract.

Mix in the flour mixture. Roll into teaspoon sized dough balls and press flat. Sprinkle salt and sugar. Bake in preheated oven at 350F for 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gluten-free Banana-Berry muffins

This muffin reminded me of why I went away from the gluten-free flours to almond meal/tapioca flour mixture. Though much better, there was still the faint lingering bitter after taste. Need to identify the culprit - millet flour? Or, maybe.. convert it to a cupcake and slather it with a good dose of some yummy frosting??!! The banana-blue berry combination was a good match, pretty much like the milkshake.
1/2 c millet flour
1/2 c quinoa flour
1/4 c potato starch
1/4 c flaxmeal
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp xanthum gum
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 c frozen blueberries
1 c mashed banana
2 eggs
1/2 c oil

Preheat oven to 375F
Beat the 2 eggs. Beat in the mashed banana.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. With a spatula mix in the egg-banana mixture and oil alternately, ending with oil. Stir in the blueberries last of all. Pour into moulds and Bake for about 25-30 minutes.

People definitely refrain from flying on 9/11. A very empty flight to PDX today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Next time, the court will be closer or "grass"ier ..

After spending all of the long weekend clearing out the trash I had so carefuly stowed away in each and every closet in the house, it was a breather to watch this 4th round match in person. Saved the entire weekend. Yup, Melzer won most of the interesting points. But then gave away the very next easy one. Consistency was the name of the game here. And who else will deliver when it matters the most. But of course, Federer. Such a thoughtful husband - carefully picked out a 4th round match that Federer would play in. An interesting match though a straight-setter (secretly thankful it dint drag out to another set and let us get some sleep before the work week hit us).

Even made an appearance on the big screen. Had never thought that the cameraman came with an enourage of volunteers handing out ben-n-jerry icecreams to people who scrreamed the loudest. Does that happen in other grand-slams too? In other sports too????...

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Never really liked hummus. Was always a little too bland for my taste. And then I chanced upon smittenkitchen's kick-ass recipe. All it takes is some forethought in soaking the chickpeas overnight and pressure-cooking it. I throw out the paprka and use the spicy red hot chilli powder I use for my curries. And it comes together in a jiffy. We paired it with some whole-grain gluten-free crackers and had a healthy snack as we watched Coco Chanel. And right now, I feel a thousand years old!!! Au revoir!!!

1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight, pressure cooked)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup tahini paste
1/3 cup lemon juice
chili powder and salt(to taste)
Process them all. Garnish with olive oil, fresh cilantro and chili powder.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A nibble of heaven in New Haven

Well, it ll starts out on a weekend and I am working (and yes, we do get to paradise from here, trust me) and I managed to get a virus on my laptop surfing for recipes. When nobody could help me remotely, a drive to Hudson, MA was mandatory. And, he joined me on my way to CT to help with the drive. Ain't he sweet!!! Sure enough by 5, I had a new laptop (never mind that it took till Friday to get all my stuff to the new HD) and ready to work, ahem tackle the traffic that lay ahead. Well, perfect time to stop for dinner, he said. As always he quickly dismissed the french restaurant I picked and so we wound up at Ibizza. No crowds on a Monday!! Great!! We start with a hunk of warm bread and this.
This, is no ordinary olive oil. I was certain it was infused with "something". But no... Reminded us of the time in Venice, where this guy explained to us how the olives from the coast are rich with the taste and smell of the sea. If one could probably capture in a bottle, the taste and smell of some olive garden off the spanish coast, this would probably be it. And so we started, with the best olive oil I have ever tasted to date. Continuing on to a gazpacho. Unlike the gazpacos I am familair with - the chunky tomato based ones I have seen on food network, this was a wonderfully cold cucumber-pepper-honey dew melon based clear soup. Pair them up with some cheese croquettes, they are a great appetizer. Up next, a potato tartine and salad, and this duck breast accompanied by an avocado-carrot salad. Takes guacamole to a whole new level. And for his vegetarian entree, tonnes of roasted vegetables swimming in a mind-blowing sauce. And end it all with a warm chocolate souffle like dessert, I bet they do have a spanish name that does it justice. Anyways, there it is, Ibizza. Went there expecting tapas and was introduced to some really traditional Spanish fare. Heavenly, indeed!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fried Rice, the way I like it...

Back when we were in MN, we loved the fried rice we got at a local restaurant in Plymouth. Have never been able to find a similar one since it shut down till recently. Have tried a gazillion times to duplicate *that* fried rice, to no avail. This one comes close.
The trick was to thinly slice the beans and carrots diagionally. And wait for the oil to be screaming hot before stir frying. I started with carrots and added the beans next and peas last. Seasoned with some salt. And then scrambled eggs on the side of the same pan. On the side, added soya sauce, hot sauce, tomato hot and sweet chili sauce, a dash of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar to cold rice. And then added the rice mixture to the veggies and eggs, for another coupleminues of stir fry. A colleague says fish sauce would add great flavor, but havent convinced my vegetarian taster a.k.a husband yet.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cantaloupe Aqua Fresca

Ever since, C made the watermelon aqua fresca, a few years ago, this has been a favorite summer drink. This time, I tried the cantaloupe version. Come together ina jiffy IF you ahve the fruits diced and a couple big strainers. I dont mind the extra pulp, so I dont strain througha cheesecloth. Makes it less messy. And I dont dilute with water it as much.
4 cups melon
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbspn lemon juice
2 cups water
And I dont mash the fruit by hand, I let her rip in the blender... And voila!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Panna Cotta

While I am a die-hard chocolate fanatic, C is a sucker for anything seasonal. Even in the middle of summer, I'd prolly make chocolate cakes and tortes but she'd prolly make this one. A completely refreshing summer desssert - courtesy the buttermilk. Here's the one I made from her recipe which she tweaked from her colleague's. Instead of the fruit compote she just uses macerated berries but since I had pounds of cherries sitting on the counter, I reduced them down with sugar. And restrained myself from tossing in a few bars of chocolate ;)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Food Blogging

Its difficult for me to collect pictures of food (that I will soon beeating) for blogging. Push comes to shove, I concentrate on making the dish and then devouring it. And only when I am ruminating, does it strike me that I forgot all about taking pictures. Here's all I have to show for the wonderful pickled acorn (inspired byLa Zucca), creamy acorn squash soup, green salad with apples and cider vinaigrette, roasted cauliflower pasta (inspried by Genoa), an extemely light bean burger on a bed of roasted veggies and a delightful chocolate chestnut mousse verrine (again a La Zucca inspiration). Leonidas is my absolute favorite!!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Washing the dishes

So, here we are.. Found this amazing molten chocolate cake recipe... Makes like a mousse.. Rises like a souffle... With warm molten chocolate interior... Decadence!!! So, I tested the recipe in the afternoon.. And tasted it too... alone... by myself.. A girl needs to reward herself for all the hard work, and hey!! I was going to bake it again in the evening... Eight minutes at 400F.. Would be perfect... right??!! Not really... since it was sitting in the fridge all evening, it needed more than 8 minutes.. Realised that a minute too late .... So, here we are... Two years and still going strong... I think ... I survived my encounter with a true "lava" cake and he still seems ok with doing the dishes... Maybe he agrees with Morley...

WHEN we on simple rations sup
How easy is the washing up!
But heavy feeding complicates
The task by soiling many plates.

And though I grant that I have prayed
That we might find a serving-maid,
I'd scullion all my days I think,
To see Her smile across the sink!

I wash, she wipes. In water hot
I souse each pan and dish and pot;
While taffy mutters, purrs, and begs,
And rubs himself against my legs.

The man who never in his life
Has washed the dishes with his wife
Or polished up the silver plate--
He still is largely celibate.

One warning: there is certain ware
That must be handled with all care:
The Lord Himself will give you up
If you should drop a willow cup!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A new kitchen.. An old recipe

Finally, the renovation is complete. The 50 year old house has an updated look. Moving from the 1-bed apartment its all vast expanses of refinished red oak, pastel colored walls, empty echoing rooms with a good dose of steel. As always with me, the kitchen is the only room fully furnished and functional. I wonder if I will ever use all the 4 bed rooms, but the kitchen has been working full-time even before all of the backsplash went up. This is the first weekend the house is devoid of all construction material and I fell back on my tried and tested banana bread recipe. Also, my first success with gluten-free baking when I discovered the wonderful almond meal.

3/4 c almond meal
3/4 c tapioca flour
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp xanthum gum
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 c chocolate chips
1/4 c chopped walnuts
1 c mashed banana
2 eggs
1/2 c oil

Preheat oven to 350F
Beat the 2 eggs. Beat in the mashed banana.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. With a spatula mix in the egg-banana mixture and oil alternately, ending with oil.
Bake for about an hour.