Monday, July 28, 2008

Roasted Corn & Vegetable Soup

It was a beautiful evening. I felt like walking and walking and walking and walking. Pratik and I recently found out about this trail, less than a mile from home! For approximately 3 miles it runs through a dense wooded patch and the rest continues through open corn fields. On one side is a small fishing pond which is equally calm to sit at. This past weekend, we walked hand in hand through these tranquil woods and corn fields. This was probably one of the most relaxing weekend walks we have had in a long time.

Coming back from the walk, we just decided to spend the rest of the evening in our backyard, grilling some sweet corn. And dinner simply turned into a delicious feast, yet another quick barbecue between the two of us. The sweet corn on the cob, chunky burgers topped with sharp cheddar cheese bought fresh from the farm market that morning, and our favorite freshly baked bread were the stars of the evening. The added zing was this roasted corn and vegetable soup which I had attempted the previous evening. I have to admit that this was also one of the recipes which just turned out superb inspite of not following any fixed proportions. Just a handful of this and a fistful of that worked really well!

2 sweet corn
3-4 different varieties of sweet and hot pepper
1 inch hot paprika
2 medium carrots
2-3 different varieties of zucchini
3/4 pint cherry tomatoes
1-2 cups of water or vegetable stock
2 cloves of garlic
1tbs chopped cilantro

1. Arrange the tomatoes closely on skewers. Brush with some olive oil.
2. Cut the vegetables lengthwise in to strips of medium thickness. Brush with some olive oil.
3. Arrange all the vegetables, tomatoes and corn on the grill. Roast on all sides until grill marks appear.
4. Remove from the grill and let cool completely. Remove the kernels of corn.
5. Blend through a food processor with some garlic & paparika. Leave some kernels of corn as is if you wish and add them while you simmer the soup.
6. Add water up to desired consistency to this mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes in a soup pot. Add salt and pepper as per taste.

Serve hot with some crusty Parmesan cheese bread or any baguette toasted with cheese. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top.

Note: If you desire, you can roast the garlic too. Just keep a close eye if you decide to do this because nothing as bad as the taste of burnt garlic.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saffron Rice Pudding

It's been a blissful summer so far. Not only did we get to spend some memorable time with our family but Pratik and I were also able to complete several of the ever lingering things on the "to do" list. And it feels great to be back with more time to cook and blog!!

My parents and my in-laws visited us in Hershey during the months of May and June. We spent most of our time away, vacationing in Texas, California and Canada. I must say, it was a one-of-a-kind vacation, not only because we all had fun, but also because every single one of us was craving for this time together. And oh yes, these days were not just fun filled, but also calorie filled. Tons of tasty food cooked in "ghee" at home, greasy pizzas and creamy pastas while on vacation, topped with zero exercise. Yeah, I neither cared nor dared to stand on the weighing scale.

Besides all these good things happening this summer, I am now also working some flexible hours at work. I get to take off early on Fridays and that means more time to try new recipes on Friday afternoons. This creamy saffron rice pudding was an outcome of my first such Friday. It is nutty and creamy and above all it is original! The saffron gives this dessert a rich color and perfect taste. An exquisite recipe to leave an everlasting impression on your guests.


1/2 cup long grained rice
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 tbs of milk for soaking the saffron threads
2-3 tbs raisins


1. Wash the rice with tap water and blanch in boiling water for two minutes. Drain all the water.
2. Add 1 cup of milk to the rice and bring it to a slow simmer. Add the sugar. Continue to add the remaining milk in small proportions just like while making a risotto. Stir the mixture to ensure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. You can add more milk depending on the desired thickness of the pudding.
3. Warm 1 tbs of hot milk in the microwave and soak the saffron threads. Stir with a spoon until the milk turns to a bright yellow color.
4. Add this to the pudding. Add raisins and stir the pudding.
5. The rice pudding is ready when the grains of rice are cooked completely. I kept the rice very very slightly undercooked to give it a nutty texture.
6. Place the pudding in small ramekins or dessert bowls and bring it to a room temperature. Chill for two hours before serving.


Serve chilled (preferably) with some more saffron threads and raisin topping.

Note: Basmati rice will make the most flavorful pudding. But if you want to keep the dollars low, any long grained rice would do just fine.