Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sauteed Mushrooms and Tomato Soup

I have been extremely busy at work lately. After a hard day in the office, what I crave for is a good home-made meal. But long work hours can really dampen my cooking spirits. The solution then, at least for me, is to come up with something quick but nutritive enough to liven me up for the evening. Soups and salads work well under this category. Here's a soup recipe that I tried recently. Let me know if it refreshes you up!


3 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 diced tomato (medium)
2 tbs chopped white onion
1 medium garlic clove
1 tbs corn flour for medium thickness of soup; 1 1/2 tbs for a thicker consistency
3 cups of vegetable stock
3/4 cup water
3/4 tbs dry parsley
1 tsp olive or vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper

Some suggestions:

1. You can use chicken or beef stock to fit your taste.
2. You can use any herb of choice. I prefer limiting the use to one herb of choice, that way the soup will have a distinct taste and flavor. Too many flavors get lost in themselves.


1. In a pan, saute the mushrooms, tomato, onion and garlic over some oil. Saute until the smell of the mushrooms stands out.
2. Add the parsley, pepper and salt. Saute for another minute.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat and set it aside to cool.
4. In a pot, heat the vegetable stock. Keep stirring occasionally.
5. Take half of the prepared mushroom mixture and puree it in a blender using water.
6. Once the vegetable stock starts boiling, add the corn starch paste, stirring continuously.
7. Add the mushroom puree and the remaining mixture. Continue stirring for another 5 minutes.
8. Add salt as per taste.


Serve hot with some cream and top with chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve with a side of french baguette or whole grain bread.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Roasted Stuffed Red Bell Pepper with Saffron Cream Sauce

While roaming the streets of Paris, we treated our taste buds with all the good food from the cafes and pastry shops along our way. Having both lunch and dinner in fancy restaurants would get pretty expensive, but crepes made on little stands on the side of the street filled our tummy well within budget. So during the day, when we used to be on the run, we mostly ate those savory crepes and sandwiches. For dinner though, we made it a point to eat at some nice restaurants in the city. While we enjoyed all the food that we ate, the menu and the food at one such restaurant is worth mentioning. The dinner menu was diligently designed by the chef and included a mouth watering salad and entree for everybody, no matter what one's preference: vegetarian, seafood or meat. Pratik ordered the following at this restaurant, but I just happened to like it so much, that I ended up eating most of it. Try it out and let me know whether I was being mean :-)


For the stuffing-
5 red bell peppers
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 pkg (~ 400 g) extra firm tofu
1 tbs Gochujang (Korean) sauce (Alternately, you can use chopped green or red chillies. The intention is to make the stuffing spicy to complement the slightly sweet saffron sauce)
Salt to taste
Few cilantro leaves for topping the stuffed pepper
Cooking oil spray

For the sauce-
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp saffron strands
1 tsp clarified butter


For the stuffing-
1. Pressure cook 1 cup of basmati rice with 2 cups of water.
2. Cut the tofu into thin slabs and fry them on some oil until both the sides are crisp.
3. Mince the fried tofu coarsely.
4. In a skillet, heat 1 tsp of oil and add 3 tbs of chopped basil. Fry for about a minute and then add the minced tofu. Fry for another 2 minutes and add the Gochujang sauce. Mix all these ingredients well and add the mixture to the cooked rice. Add salt as per taste. Cover and let this sit for half hour to allow the flavors to combine.
5. Remove the stem of the red peppers and clean the inside.
6. Stuff the peppers with this mixture. Line them on a baking tray and spray some cooking oil on them.
7. Broil them, turning the peppers around until all the sides are evenly browned.

For the sauce:
1. In a sauce pan, heat the clarified butter. Add the milk and heavy cream and simmer.
2. Add the saffron and sugar when the milk is hot.
3. Continue stirring until reduced to half.

1. In a plate serve one stuffed red pepper and pour about 1/2 cup saffron sauce on the top. Top with some leaves of cilantro.

Have fun!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fruit & Nut Cake

Pratik and I were in France recently and though I would love to write a separate post about the details of our trip, for now, here's a quick one line summary: Marseille is beautiful, Cassis is paradise, we didnt even know places like Aigues-Mortes and Les Baux existed, the Eiffel Tower is all worth the hype and the Arc de Triomphe was our favorite tourist attraction. The reason I mentioned our trip was that if you happen to visit Paris (or for that matter any other city in France) you cannot miss the many cafes and boulangeries (bakeries) that line every street of this fascinating city. That's the first thing that I noticed when I got there (obviously!). I wish I could experiment every single cake I ate during my stay in France, but here is a recipe which I can say turned out to be quite close to the taste of one that I had during my cake-and-pastry-filled vacation.

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried tropical mix
1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted cashews
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 325 deg F.
3. In a sauce pan (over medium heat), mix the sugar, water, butter, spices, cranberries, tropical mix. Boil for 5 minutes and set aside to cool until luke warm. Add the cashews.
4. Stir the flour (seived twice), baking soda and vanilla extract into this mixture.
5. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (About 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven).
6. Remove the from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
7. Cover and store the cake for few days if possible before serving.
8. Say hello to Paris from the comfort of your home!