If you've been following this blog for a while now, you would have noticed some changes, not just in the layout, but also in the content. What started as a dessert blog has more or less changed into a savoury blog with lots of healthy eating options and mostly vegetarian.

Who'd have thunk?!!! Me? Vegetarian? Even I sometimes balk when I think about being vegetarian. But honestly, I don't know if it's growing up, listening to my body, being ecological or being just time constrained, I prefer eating vegetarian atleast when I'm at home. I find it difficult to be vegetarian when I'm eating out in India. Here, in Bombay, I hesitate to walk into a posh restaurant and be happy with the vegetarian fare over the non vegetarian. At home is a different matter, I get to play around with ingredients, flavours, textures and create dishes where meat would actually be superfluous if added.

Though I tend to use seasonal veggies available in my local grocery store, when I do have access to special ingredients, leaves, shoots & such, I'm eager to try them out and see how they taste. I've always loved arugula, but have never been able to manage a regular supply of it. On my recent trip to Hypercity in Malad, I was so happy to see so many salad greens on the shelves. I came back with bags of arugula, micro greens, bocconcini and other varieties of cheeses which I don't always get locally.

I wanted something which focused on the creaminess of the bocconcini, had the bite of the rocket leaves and natural sweetness of winter carrots. Throw in some red onions for a punch and some orange carpels and juice to mellow it down.


It's a recipe made entirely on a whim and that's when I realised I'm really getting the hang of salads. I tried it out for a couple of days, the first two times I had orange carpels which I impatiently pulled out and use, the third time, I just used orange juice in the dressing. And that worked magically. If you do segment the oranges properly, I'm sure it would be lovely. Just that I don't have the patience to do it with the mandarin variety.

Ingredients

2 cups rocket/ arugula leaves
1 winter carrot grated
1/2 red onion sliced
1/2 orange segmented
4 rounds of bocconcini halved.

Dressing.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp orange juice
salt & pepper to taste.


Whisk all the dressing ingredients till completely mixed.
Toss all the salad ingredients together.
Drizzle dressing over. Serve with a nice crusty bread.



Arugula, Bocconcini & Carrot Salad


So I'm back to my blog after like forever. I've almost forgotten all the fun things I've done this last month while my laptop was ailing. Well, I'd been avoiding this place for sometime. I didn't know what to update. Do I really need to update? If you are wondering, or were ever worrying, chill.

Not that I'd stopped cooking or baking. The baking slowed down a bit, but when I did step in, it was pure indulgence. As for cooking, in tandem with my sporadic approach to running this year, it swayed between healthy and easy to cook meals, and then completely losing my senses and ordering massive amounts of takeaway.


One of those things I made when I was in my senses was this Chicken Teriyaki Bowl. Adapted from norecipes which is linked to PBS. Well, basically Marc writes for PBS and hence the recipe appears in PBS. This recipe is simple enough to be a quick meal for even the laziest bum aka me on weekends. Well, thats actually me on most days. Daily cooking is not my forte and just thinking about meal planning for a week and then actually cooking it is enough to boggle my mind.


I followed Marc's recipe as close as I could. I did not have sake, so I just used water. I did have mirin, which if you do not have, try a white dessert wine, or who am I kidding? Add some extra sugar to white wine. Bah! Just don't make it too sweet. This might seem a little wrong to Indians used to eating spicy food redolent with all the masalas the peninsula can offer. If you are those kinds which I mentioned right now, this recipe is not for you. It is mild, bordering on bland with light flavours. But to me, light soy, a little sweet with a little astringent are good flavours. I actually shied away from adding ginger or garlic to this dish. I went uncomplicated and marinated the chicken in salt & pepper. That's about my patience level.


I used a chicken breast I had in the fridge, and I filleted it down the center to make two thinner halves. One which I cubed up for this dish and the other which I grilled for use in a sandwich later. I used the same measurement for sauce, cos I'm Indian, I like lots of gravy, Subtlety in flavour and all is ok, but hey I need my gravy to mop up my rice.

Ingredients

200g Chicken breast/thighs cubed into bite size pieces(thighs are better. thighs rock.)
Seasoning of salt & pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake/water
Bowl of boiled rice
1/3 cup blanched peas.

Marinate the chicken in salt & pepper.
Whisk sugar, soy sauce, mirin, water & salt together and keep aside in a bowl
In a non-stick frying pan, over medium heat, gently fry the chicken undisturbed till it's browned on one side. Flip and wait for the other side to be equally browned.
Whisk the teriyaki sauce and add it to the chicken, tossing to coat the chicken.
Let the sauce boil and reduce till it becomes a thick shiny glaze.
Serve chicken atop hot boiled rice, pour extra sauce in top, sprinkle with peas.

Dig in!


Chicken Teriyaki Bowl


I literally trawled the internet today and asked myself, why am I maintaining this blog. It's a question which pops up every other time I check this account. Is it helpful to anyone? Does anyone actually read this blog with any intent to make anything? Has anyone actually made any of these things I ramble on about? Do you have feedback to share with me? Has any of these things actually tasted good? Or are all these just figments of my imagination?

Perhaps it's my writing, it doesn't prompt reading. Perhaps it's the theme, it is too dreary. Perhaps it's my food, it looks too unappealing. Perhaps it's the ingredients, I use out of the way things too much. Perhaps it's the recipes, really, are they really that complicated?

I've had these doubts since the time I started the blog. Perhaps, its those doubts which translate into reality. Perhaps perhaps and perhaps, oh these doubts... why do they taunt me so much?


I read recently, you can never really remember the beginning of a dream. So I rolled back the years in my head and tried remembering really, what made me start this blog. Of course, there were folks asking for recipes. There always are. But I'd never really felt compelled to document anything. What really made me start? I can only think that I looked upon it as a way to start writing again, a place to jot down stuff, all those random stream of thoughts that run through my head. Well food thoughts actually. And I remembered these onion scapes. 

I will always remember onion scapes with fondness. It was in 2012, I took a year off. Think of it as a gap year for someone who'd always been either studying or working. I did go for a course in 2012 too, but more of a fun course at Le Cordon Bleu. When you're single and really are always wondering what next in life, sometimes it feels good to take some time off and sort yourself out. Not that I've finished sorting myself in anyway. But it did help that year. I went back to my folks in Kerala, spent more time there in the house I grew up in than I had in years. I enjoyed spending time with my mum, hanging around the kitchen, watching movies together, trips to SM Street, a pit stop at Kalandans for Sharjah, umpteen trips to the tailor who never ever had my mum's stuff ready. She enjoyed having me around, driving her around, taking her places where my dad would definitely have said no to. She'd try and wake me up in the mornings to go to church. Occasionally she'd succeed and we'd walk to our local parish church. The tiny stores down the street would just be opening up on our way back. We'd almost always stop for bananas, eggs, milk, a few veggies. Daily shopping for a running household. Something I'd never experienced after leaving home.


On one of those days, I spotted these pretty stalks with tiny white flowers. Armed with my food experiences in a country not my own, I was ready to pounce on any new ingredient I saw. I insisted, oh how I insisted, I wanted Mum to make something with this. She resisted for a while, said I wouldn't like it, but gave in to my continued cries of 'let's try, let's atleast try it'. It came out as a thoran, sprinkled with copious amounts of freshly grated coconut. The sting of the onion tamed by the mellow flavours of the coconut, gently melding into something so tantalising, it was something I looked forward to having for lunch almost every other day. So much so my parents now look at an onion scape and say 'Vava likes it'. They can't think of either of their other children who haven't even tried or have so fallen in love with these babies.

Onion scapes are not always available. They are quite seasonal and appear around November, December. Luckily for me when I went home for Christmas, I spotted them again at the store and pounced on them. Mum introduced her other children also to this new greens, though I don't think either of them took to it as much as I have. I brought another whole bunch and brought it back with me to Bombay despite Mum's warning of them being a bit too much to be carried back.


I had plans, major plans for my tiny bunch of scapes. The dream of a quiche with the zing of the scapes mingling with an eggy custard and earthy mushrooms took root. But, as always I revert to my roots when it comes to something that so quintessentially reminds me of home. I made thoran. Again. and Again. Till all I was left with were two scapes and nothing else.

Quiches are easy to make. They are also quite heavy what with all the butter, cream, eggs and cheese. I don't make it often cos it seems like too much of an indulgence for one person. But the simplicity and ease with which the dish comes together makes it worthwhile. They keep well in the fridge, but my 'generous' self almost always finds consumers to finish them off.

To my mind, the only thing that would make anyone think twice about a quiche is the pie crust. Fairly easy, for people in countries where you get pastry crust off the shelf, in India, we are still quite far away from such things. A good thing too. We have enough processed and unhealthy stuff around. To me, a pie crust should be flaky, buttery, with just the right bite that doesn't immediately crumble apart and make a mess around. And it's easy enough to achieve as long as you use chilled butter, chilled flour, chilled water, chill the base, basically chill chill chill everything. Dice the cold butter into small cubes and rub/cut it in gently to flour. Add a bit of water to bring it all together and chill in fridge for 15 minutes before using. The chilled butter in the oven, melts, creating air pockets which makes the crust so tender. So yes, chill chill chill.



Ingredients

Pie Crust

150g all purpose flour
100g cold butter diced
2 tbsp chilled water

Filling

200g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 onion scapes, cut in rings
1/2 yellow pepper diced (optional)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
salt & pepper

Method

Pie Crust

Rub butter and flour together gently till it resembles coarse flour (looks like puttu podi for malayalees)
Bring it together to a ball. Add water a teaspoon at a time till it just holds together.
Flatten into a disc, cover in cling wrap and chill in fridge for atleast 15 mins. 

Pre heat oven to 200C and keep an 8" pie tin ready

After 15 mins, roll out the dough and lay it over the pie tin. Press it gently into the edges of the tin. Scrimp/Cut the overhang.
Cover the base with parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights/beans/rice and bake in oven for 20 mins.
Remove beans & parchment paper and continue baking for another 10 mins.

Filling

Meanwhile, in a skillet, sweat the mushrooms with garlic and a pinch of salt, till the liquid has completely dried up.
Sprinkle the cooked mushrooms, chopped onion scapes & yellow peppers on the baked pie crust base.
Whisk egg, cream & milk together in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour this over the base.
Bake at 200C for half hour or till the custard is just set


Onion Scapes & Mushroom Quiche


I picked up a red cabbage last week from the veggie rack at the food store. I didn't know what to do with it, but I thought I'd get it first and think later on. This is part of my initiative to eat more veggies (Uh oh I ordered chicken lollipop again tonight) and try new things.

I googled and found this on BBC Goodfood. It's really good. And the peanuts, they taste so good in this salad. So crunchy and so filling. The original recipe asked for groundnut oil, I used the toasted sesame oil I had at hand. It added a nice nutty flavour to the salad.


Tangy Carrot, Red Cabbage & Onion Salad.


Spread a little goat cheese
Spread fig slices
Poach an Egg and place on top
Add some fried bacon
Drizzle balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Voila!
Breakfast is yum!

Figs, Poached Egg & Bacon on Toast



Roasted Strawberries! Have you tried them when I told you to last time? Click the previous sentence for the recipe.

This is part of my bad girl breakfast series when I go ahead and up my toasts to another level altogether. This one has Roasted Strawberries, Feta & Mint leaves on buttered Toast.


Roasted Strawberries on Toast


Didn't I have you at nachos. Didn't I? And aren't you feeling a bit bad that I don't really have nachos in this pic? Fear not. It's because nachos didn't really strike me at all! Not till dinner time and I just felt an extra crunch missing.

This salad is almost the same as a Pico de Gallo except I added peppers cos I was in the mood for them and I had a both red and yellow peppers at home. It's always been a little exotic, these peppers. We never had them when we were kids. And to me for the longest time, I really didn't think there was any difference. But slowly I can differentiate them in taste, though even now I'm really not that confident of a blind taste test.


Red & Yellow Peppers Nacho Salad


For someone beyond a certain age, I sure order in a lot. That is despite having a cook who comes in daily and would make anything I'd ask her to. One problem I have is, I don't like warming up food. I'd rather have it fresh than from the fridge. Of course, there are exceptions. But most days it's either the local Chinese or Punjabi food which makes it to my dinner plate.

Then I realised. The one thing I order the most is something called Teppanyaki Noodles from Wok Hei. I have an unreasonable amount of these noodles. So I thought maybe I should try making it at home just to make myself feel healthier. Off I went in search of Teppanyaki Noodles.
 

Sesame + Spinach Noodles (Wagamama)

It doesn't need any further explaining, does it?



Tomato, Basil & Feta on Toast




The photo does not do justice to the dip. It's a dip I can go back to any day as a sure fire winner for a party. But, the last time I called people over, I forgot the recipe!!! The dip looked green and no amount of tweaking from my end, would make it this colour. My maid and I could remember only the colour and not the ingredients and we played around with it quite a bit. It was tasty enough, but somehow we couldn't get this particular dip out of my our heads. So we tried it again today, despite not having anyone over. Her kids like this dip a lot and wipe it out really quick every time I send it over with her.

Veggie Cream Cheese Dip


It's the season to keep yourself warm. And warmth is best done with hot chocolate, warm broths and Christmas cards from friends far away. It was quite a surprise getting a card from Jenny. She'd asked me for my address a couple of weeks ago. I shared it, but didn't really check why she needed the address. My neighbour knocked on my door when I got back from my vacation and handed me the card. It isn't everyday I get a handwritten card from anyone. And the thought made me really happy. Thanks Jenny & Roy. My times with you guys in London were some of the best ever. Not to mention all the time we spent together in Bangalore.

Hot Chocolate


When my sister asked me for a Chocolate Fondant recipe, I told her, "it should be simple right? After all, you and I have been baking since forever. And it doesn't seem to difficult."
Wrong. I've been sadly proven wrong. Somehow I've got this bee in my bonnet I'd make anything but a fruit cake this year and hence a lot of other things make their way out of my oven. Chocolate fondant has been going on the past couple of days. My colleagues at work have been quite pleased that I'm so keen on fondant cos I take all my disappointments boxed up to work.

Chocolate Fondant


For my first experience cooking with pork, I decided to try making Pork Buns. David Chang has popularised these traditional Chinese buns through his restaurant Momofuku and there are enough and more recipes online to follow through. Now more important than these recipes, to me at this point, are my learnings with pork. I've never cooked pork and I've never seen my mom cooking pork. My aunt makes the best pork dishes ever. But since I haven't seen the actually cooking process or seen the raw meat, I had no idea what to expect. So below are a list of pointers from my end for cooking and dealing with raw pork. A few of them for me to remember and not panic the next time, a few of them hopefully will help other folks cooking with pork for the first time.
Unfortunately, I don't have pictures for each of the different stages. I have to say, I was getting a little worried and taking shots were the last thing on my mind. So here goes.

Pork Belly Buns a la David Chang & Pork Belly 101


Some days, some weeks, some months, you space out. You worry about your place in life, in this world, in this universe. Nothing seems to make much sense for a while. A little chocolate, a few berries, toasty bread soaked in a custard base seems to just hit the spot for those moments of just forgetting everything. Forget the extra inches, the jiggle that never lets go, the jeans that's become a tad too stretchy. Embrace the butter, the sugar, the egg and just let go.


Strawberry Chocolate Bread Pudding


I had these really interesting kebabs at one of our company parties. Being in a food company, you get introduced to all sorts of things.This was one of those. They served it with slices of raw mango which was just soo right for the October heat in Bombay. Now that November is not helping us any further in the temperature department, these babies are just right as a cool starter for a party at home.

Yoghurt Kebabs


Last week, my boss took my colleague and me out for dinner to Masala Library. He wanted us to experience an Indian restaurant that does things different. It was certainly interesting, some of those things were really good, but to be really honest, there was nothing that really blew me away. Perhaps I've become too picky. Like they were trying too hard and not really getting there. One of those things I really enjoyed there was the jalebi caviar. Little boondis of jalebis packed into a circular disc surrounded by a pool of rabdi. I knew I had to try making it. So here it is, my foray into Indian desserts on this blog.

Jalebi & Rabdi


As I must have mentioned earlier, I'm trying to put an end to my eating out tendencies and make more stuff at home. I'm not saying everything I make is fantastically healthy, but I'm thinking its perhaps better than not knowing the ingredients used and the amount of fat used. In this case, I know how much butter I'm injecting into my body if my serving size is unusually large and also I can rest assured I have enough veggies going inside me.

Beetroot, Sweet Potato & Spinach Au Gratin



Persimmons are a very seasonal fruit. They come right around end of Oct - early November and very quickly disappear. I've hardly seen them with the regular fruit sellers, but have had to go deeper into the market to see them. There are two varieties of persimmons Fuyu and Hachiya. In India we get only the Hachiya. To me they taste like a cross between a chikoo/sapota and a mango. It has a smoother texture than sapota and is actually quite nice.


Persimmon Bread



I've liked the Facebook page of the Bon Appetit Magazine and so read up on quite a lot of the stuff they put up there. Considering the number of recipes I put up from there it shouldn't be a surprise actually. This one sounded nice and a little weird which makes it totally up my alley I think. It involved Italian Sausages, some kind of apples which we don't get in India and Watercress (I'm sure I've never had that and if I have wouldn't recognize it if someone gave it to me again.) I played around and made it my own... Buhahahaha! Does that surprise anyone?


Sausages & Apples in Red Wine


I have this habit of trying out new things all the time at restaurants. So a couple of years ago when I'd gone with my friends to Pondicherry, we went to this café called Le Vietnam. Why would there be a Vietnamese café in a former French Colony? Well, as my friend informed me Vietnam was also a French Colony at one point.

Banh Xeo