Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thanks, Sorry and a Pasta!

For all you dear friends, let me begin this post by saying a big “thank you” and “sorry”.

Well, sorry for not being able to respond to your comments and read all the lovely posts that you have published over the last few days. Although I did manage to take a sneak peek on the blogroll, I have been completely unaware of any details.

And, thank you for taking the time to stop by and sharing your thoughts on my different take on Ratatouille.

The past few days have been flooded with things at work and of course home! With the gorgeous summer almost coming to an end here, I spent the past couple of days wrapping up field work associated with several projects at work. I was working crazy hours and one night had to go watch the installation of a road traffic messaging system from 9pm to 3am. At home, I attempted to make a cheesecake on Friday night which turned into a complete fiasco and I was torn to bits with the humiliation. After my cheesecake disaster, we were left with no dessert for Friday night!

So there I was in the kitchen with no dessert and moreover, nothing cooked for dinner and in no mood to eat out or carry out!!

I was lucky to find some pasta, cherry tomatoes and home made basil pesto sauce. Yeah, you got it! I am going to be talking about my latest pasta recipe here. It got my mood back after pouring gallons of tears on the lost cheesecake! It also best compliments my current busy schedule, although I hope I am not cooking pasta forever!


Pasta (of your own choice)
3 tbs Basil Pesto Sauce (as I had described here)
10 Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
Salt (as per taste)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Cook pasta until al dente stage (or as per instructions on the packet)
2. Drain most of the water from the pasta, leaving about a big spoonful in the pot.
3. Heat some olive oil in a pan.
4. Add the cherry tomatoes and sautee for about 4-5 min.
5. Add the salt and mix well.
6. Mix the pasta, sauteed tomatoes and the basil pesto sauce together.


Serve the pasta with some bread and a light wine.

I am sending this entry to the my friend, Ruth, who hosts the weekly Presto Pasta Nights event.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Ratatouille….when I had this very Provencal product for the first time, it left a much bigger impression on my mind than I had thought it would. I had heard about it, seen pictures online but every time I kept saying to myself---this is just any other mixed vegetable stew, so what’s the big deal? Well, it definitely is a big deal and I was convinced when I ate Ratatouille for lunch at our French friends, Fab and So’s place more than a year back. They are originally from Provence in France. So I will leave it to your imagination to guess how good this lunch must have been! As for me, I was literally dancing after eating this ratatouille. All of my favorite vegetables, cooked together with olive oil, garlic and the world famous “Herb de Provence”……I almost wanted to lick the pot!

Unfortunately it was not until recently that I had a chance to cook Ratatouille at home. Yes, I know that you are going to think that I just talked of being so utterly obsessed with it, but then why hadn’t I tried making it at home for such a long time. May be I was waiting for the long spell to break with a very special gift that I got from the same friends when we visited them in Marseilles. Yes, Herb de Provence! That was my gift directly from its birthplace. Could anything go wrong with my Ratatouille now?

Given the experimental bug in me that refuses to give up, anything and everything could have still gone wrong. That’s because I wanted to make a broiled version of Ratatouille. And so I did! I managed to retain its authentic flavors while taking the liberty to tweak the recipe. It was definitely a hit with my friends on a recent Friday night dinner!


3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbs Herb de Provence
1 onion, diced
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 large green bell peppers, diced
1 large red bell peppers, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 large zucchinis, cubed
1/3 cup cheese (Optional)
Salt and pepper as per your taste

1. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof dish under the broiler.
2. Add garlic and onions and broil them until they start to turn slightly brown.
3. Add all the vegetables except the tomatoes and broil the mixture until it is almost cooked, mixing after every 7-8 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes until all the vegetables are completely cooked.
5. Finally add Herb de Provence, salt and pepper and mix well.
6. Top with cheese and broil for another 5 minutes.

Serve the ratatouille hot as a side or main dish. Eat it plain or serve with a side of French bread or couscous.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chunky Monkey-Reinvented

Happy Valley can be a strange place. Among the many things it can get one addicted to, for me, ice-cream ranks right up there along with Penn State football. After spending some time in State College, PA, the other name for Happy Valley, I seriously considered using “ice-cream” instead of “apple” in “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Think about it. Just that one scoop or even one spoonful of ice cream straight from the container and into your mouth brings a smile to your face. No more stress. No more headaches. No more complaints. Who needs a doctor then?

Happy Valley takes pride in being home to one and sort of home to a second famous ice-cream establishment. The first is the University Creamery located on the Penn State campus. This is the largest creamery on any university campus in the US and they offer a wide variety of ice-cream, sorbet and milkshake selections. Not only are they well known for their ice-creams but most Penn Staters would agree that they make some pretty good yogurts and cheeses too! Take a peek at their website and if you decide to order online, I can guarantee you that every penny you spend in the shipping cost would be worth it.

The second brand was founded by two individuals, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. These guys met in 7th grade, stuck together as friends, completed an ice cream making program from Penn State and founded their world famous ice cream company, Ben and Jerry’s. Famous not only for their innovative flavor combinations, but also for those captivating and amusing names given to those scrumptious flavors, Ben and Jerry’s definitely make us smile with their scoops!

Now with such a rich ice-cream history, is it a wonder that Happy Valley is called Happy Valley?

Amongst all the good stuff Ben and Jerry’s has to offer, I think their Chunky Monkey ice-cream has to be my absolute favorite. So I decided to try it out at home and put my own spin on it. Turns out, the recipe is really easy and moreover, does not require an ice cream maker. So just sit back, relax and enjoy and more so, smile.


1 pint heavy cream
1⁄2 cup 2% (reduced fat) milk
3⁄4 cup of sugar
1 tbs light brown sugar
1 ripe banana
1⁄2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Slice the banana lengthwise and sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake it in the oven at 250 deg F until the sugar caramelizes.
2. Once it is done, remove it from the oven and mash it completely.
3. In a big bowl, whip the heavy cream and milk with an electric hand mixer at medium speed.
4. Add the sugar, mashed banana, walnuts and chocolate chunks and continue to whip until the mixture becomes thick and frothy.
5. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream container for 2 hours.
6. Later, remove it from the freezer and whip it again for 5-7 minutes.
7. Repeat this procedure at least 2-3 times to get a soft and creamy ice cream.


Remove the ice-cream from the freezer 2-3 minutes before serving. Scoop out some into individual dishes. Top with more walnuts, sliced banana, chocolate syrup or just serve it plain without any toppings.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Veggie Sushi - Really?

Ever since I ate Sushi for the first time at Benihana, I fell in love with this fabulous creation!

Sushi, a part of Japanese cuisine, is prepared with white, short grained Japanese rice flavored with rice vinegar and rolled with layers of raw fish and vegetables (typically uncooked). Sushi rice becomes sticky when cooked which makes it easy to roll and bind with the layers inside. Well cooked and finely dressed rice are the essential qualities that make a good sushi!

Making sushi is an art. It is challenging and requires a lot of skill in its preparation. There are special sushi chefs whose expertise is concentrated on preparing just that. The type of sushi depends on the stuffing and how it is rolled. This is not only challenging but also requires a lot of creativity. Especially here in the US, you will find several different sushi stuffings, some of which might have never existed at any sushi bar in Japan. You can read more here.

My first experience of eating sushi at Benihana was incredible. My second time was at Raku –an Asian Dining and Sushi bar in Bethesda, Md. It was here that I ate a complete vegetarian sushi entrĂ©e. I was completely bowled over by it's taste, quality, selection of ingredients and presentation. While that taste was still lingering on my tongue, Sharmi of Neivedyam announced the Jivha for August-Rice. With that, my long planned adventure of making vegetarian sushi kicked in. As always I have experimented with my ideas and played with different ingredients. It was an absolutely fabulous experience. I hope you enjoy making some in your kitchen.

One verdict though- It takes quite some time to prepare the rice, spread it evenly on the nori sheet, layer the vegetables and then to roll and cut it! Make sure you don't don it in a jiffy!

1 ½ cups of Japanese sushi rice
3 cups of water
½ avocado
2 slices of pineapple
½ cucumber
¼ cup tofu, minced or sliced ( I had the tofu grilled and marinated in sauce)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
4 nori sheets
Wasabi sauce
Sushi Mat

I really recommend that you watch this video to get a better picture of the rolling process….

1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Once cooked completely, fluff it with fork on a plate. All it to cool completely.
2. Once cooled, add the rice vinegar and mix well. Let it sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors combine.
3. Open up the sushi mat completely away from you.
4. Line the longest edge of the nori sheet with the side of the mat closest to you.
5. Place approximately a handful of the cooked rice at the center of the nori sheet.
6. Wet you hands and press the rice evenly to coat the nori sheet with a 1 cm thick layer of rice.
7. Spread a very small amount of wasabi sauce in the middle of the rice layer horizontally.
8. Line the fillings (avocado, cucumber, pineapple and/or tofu) on the side closest to you. You can stick to one filling or do different combinations.
9. Hold the fillings with your fingers and lift up the layer and start rolling the nori sheet along with the mat.
10. Keep pressing under the layer such that the roll is a perfect cylinder. Avoid pressing on the top.
11. Once the roll is completely pressed and cylindrical, cut it into ¾ inch thick rolls such that they are bite sized.

Serve 4-5 different rolls in a serving on individual plates. Enjoy with wasabi and soy sauce on the side.

So that is my entry for JFI-August!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Summer Salad with Oranges Grilled in Barbeque Sauce

"Earth Food", the theme selected by Meeta for her monthly mingle event was quite thought provoking. Honestly, it was a bit of a challenge to come up with a recipe that would fit the bill. I thought about a couple of different possible options like preparing a meal in which every ingredient was from my home kitchen garden, something that was grown without using pesticides, so that it would make an Earth friendly food! Then I thought of putting together a simple recipe that could be cooked on a charcoal grill, thus saving electricity used for heating coils. I also considered cooking something with vegetables grown under the soil. Such a meal would exemplify the significant amount of effort required to keep our Earth uncontaminated, to continue growing vegetables and roots underground. Inspite of thinking about this whole array of options, I wasn’t too happy with my alternatives for this August mingle.

That’s when Pratik came to my rescue (Yes, and this time I am not mentioning his name to get excused of playing some prank on him, as I had described earlier). He had put together a mind- blowing salad eons ago. I liked it so much at the time that I had clicked some pictures of this beautiful salad. I am glad I took those pictures because I believe this recipe fits the Earth Food theme for this month’s mingle. This original and delicious salad was made out of some left over greens, a couple of oranges, some tomatoes, mushrooms and cucumbers and a vegetable patty, all of which would have had to be trashed had they not been used to make this salad! I should also mention two other incidents that made me put in my two cents worth and contribute towards efforts already underway to save this beautiful Earth of ours. I feel that this mingle and these two incidents connect and compliment each other very intimately.

A few days ago, I came across this post from Dilip, the CEO of the “Feed a Hungry Child” organization, based in India. I was very touched and pleased to know the noble cause that the organization is working towards. Although the group is currently based and focused in India, it aims to broaden its reach and feed hungry children all around this globe! After going through their website and understanding the saintly endeavors they are in the process of planning, I decided I didn’t want to be a mere reader! Pratik and I officially joined the organization and are planning on actively taking up several activities in the future to raise money for the organization from the United States. You can read more about the organization here. I will also be posting some planned activities for this cause on my blog sometime soon. We are very delighted to have joined this group as their associates in the United States. We invite you all to join in and donate some smiles!

The second incident that reinforced my change in attitude towards our eating habits was Jai and Bee’s post, which showed a picture of a starving child in Sudan being stalked by a vulture. As the post discussed, it really made me think twice before I threw away even the skin of a carrot or a broccoli stem. This could indeed be a feast for some of the starving children on this Earth. After having read this post, I also felt content at not having thrown away watermelon rinds a few days ago and instead having created this burger recipe out of it.

These two incidents made me go back and think of this meal that Pratik had put together for a dinner. It has changed my life for good. The greens and the fruits that were on their way to the trash-can, happily made it into our stomach to offer us a light and nutritious dinner! And that’s what I want to encourage everyone to do. Don’t trash your left-overs. And the next time you are about to do it, think about the fact that someone in the world does not even get the amount you are just about to throw away. I am sure then that there will always be some way of converting those leftovers into a complete meal.

Meeta deserves special thanks for hosting this wonderful theme and making us all think about making our Earth beautiful again!

Here is the recipe for this salad:

4 handfuls of lettuce or mixed greens
1/2 large sized tomato
1 handful of mushrooms
1/4 cucumber
2 oranges
1 vegetable patty
2 tbs barbeque sauce
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper as per taste

1. Marinate the orange slices in the barbeque sauce for 10 minutes.
2. Cut the tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber and oranges as you prefer.
3. Grill the marinated oranges for about 3 minutes on each side.
4. Grill the vegetable patty until crisp and golden brown. Cut the patty in strips or cubes.
5. Mix all the ingredients in a salad bowl with some salt and pepper.

Serve the salad on individual plates with any whole grain or french baguette and a chilled drink.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Spiced Fruit and Nut Topped Pancakes

I love American breakfasts. Pratik and I used to be regulars at The Waffle Shop in State College, PA when we lived there. It is a great local breakfast place which offers good ambience and delicious food! Of course, there are others that I like, especially Cracker Barrel and The Blue Moon Coffeehouse. And these places are not just about their food; their most attractive features are the elegantly kept petite bottles of syrup, little packets of jam and those miniature cream and sugar bowls! And to top that comes a bubbly waitress with a full pot of hot hazelnut roast coffee in one hand and decaf in the other. Seriously, I think I can sit and eat there forever! I generally eat small portions but I really don't know what gets into me when I am at these breakfast places. I can easily finish my entire portion, steal about half of Pratik's and yet have room for a few cups of coffee! When its all said and done, I walk out craving for some more!!

Well, eating breakfast outside on any day would always be welcome (if we had the pennies!). Nevertheless, I usually like to whip up something appetizing at home. I came up with these pancakes topped with spiced pears, oranges and nuts for breakfast on Sunday. Check them out! They are too good to resist!


1/2 pouch pancake mix ( I used Betty Crocker's Buttermilk Complete Pancake Mix)

For the fruit and nut topping:
1 pear, sliced
1 orange, peeled, and cut into pieces
½ tsp cinnamon
4 cardamoms
1 tbs honey
2 tbs maple syrup
4 tbs water
Toasted almonds or other nuts that you may like (coarsely chopped)


1. Prepare the pan cakes as per the instructions on the package.
2. For the fruit and nut topping, heat 4 tbs of water in a sauce pan.
3. Add the spices, honey & maple syrup. Heat until it starts to bubble.
4. Add the pears and oranges and heat for another 2 minutes on a low flame. The topping should then be ready.
5. Toast some chopped almonds in the oven at 325 F.


Place 2 pan cakes on a plate. Pour the spiced fruit topping over them. Top with the toasted almonds.

Who said good fruit topped pancakes are available only at restaurants?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

Who doesn’t like these crunchy cheese bites offered at any Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants? Well, we all do. My only complaint when I eat outside at any restaurant is the amount of cheese and oil that they load into everything. Of course, any thing that is showered with oil and bombed with cheese is going to taste remarkable, right?

So the challenge in home cooking for me is to keep the taste neat while maintaining a low calorie level and at the same time, to fulfill the requirements of a balanced meal. Additionally, everyday meals need to be ready within 30-40 minutes.When I started cooking at home, this was not a simple task ….in fact, this was like a gigantic challenge for me! That’s when seasonings stepped in my life. I am not a big fan of spicy meals (‘cos that’s not good for your tummy either!), but I have realized how a thoughtful combination of a pinch of this and a pinch of that can make your family and guests want more. Also, I generally try and avoid using canned foods on an everyday basis. Pressure cookers offer a big helping hand in avoiding canned foods and speeding up the cooking time.

Here is a low calorie take on the black bean and cheese quesadillas with a marvelous combination of taco and fajita seasoning. Wait! There is more—they are cooked under 30 minutes and topped with “NO” fat sour cream. This is my entry for the Summer Express Cooking Event started by Mallugirl. Try a bite….


4 soft taco size flour tortillas
1 small onion cut into thin strips
1 medium tomato diced
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
½ cup cooked and mashed black beans (You can substitute this for re-fried or pinto beans)
¼ cup shredded American or Cheddar cheese (I used Tomme Noire des Pyrenees Cheese bought during our recent vacation in France)
½ tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp fajita seasoning
4-5 tbs sour cream
4-5 tbs salsa
4-5 tbs guacamole
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp oil


1. Soak the black beans overnight in water. The next morning, strain the water and pressure cook the beans well with some water. Mash the cooked beans, roughly. If you are pressed for time, you could also use pre-cooked canned beans.
2. In a saute pan, heat some oil. Add the jalapeno peppers and onions and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft. Add the beans, seasoning and salt. Saute the mixture for about 10 minutes.
3. Heat a griddle and place a tortilla on it. (You can heat as many tortillas at a time as your griddle can accommodate)
4. Place some cheese on one half of the tortilla. Add the onion, tomatoes and beans cooked together on top of the cheese. Top with a little more cheese.
5. Fold the tortilla over. Bake until the base turns golden brown.
6. Flip over and finish the other side in the same way.


Cut the quesadillas into 2 quarter pieces. Top with some sour cream and extra seasoning if desired. Serve with a side of guacamole and/or salsa.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tomato Basil Linguine with Merlot Laced Artichokes

This was probably my 2nd or 3rd recipe post since I started blogging. Back then, I was not even aware of the various food blogging events and this recipe was just lazily sitting on my blog without any visitors!But because I lost all my posts (Want to know how? Read this), I thought it would be okay to send this as an entry for two upcoming events, Waiter There is Something In My…Sauce and Presto Pasta Nights.

Over months ago, I had picked up a Merlot laced artichoke spread while shopping at Harry and David. In their pasta section, I found tomato basil linguine which also made its way into my kitchen. I initially intended to use the pasta and the spread separately. But when I am really pressed for time, I end up wearing my "concoction queen" crown and just start throwing in ingredients that I think might work well together. Most of the times thing work well and whatever fails never shows up on this blog :-) So in went the spread and the pasta into the skillet together. This recipe was thus also one of my hit-or-miss attempts, nothing short of throwing darts. Try it out and let me know if I hit the bulls eye.


Tomato Basil Linguine
3/4 cup Merlot laced artichokes spread (contains artichokes, tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, black olives, extra virgin olive oil, onions, lemon juice, garlic, salt, balsamic vinegar, all mixed in Merlot)
1/4 cup sliced olives
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs basil
1 tsp fresh rosemary


For the Sauce
1. In a saute pan, heat 1 tbs olive oil and add the artichoke spread, olives and salt.
2. Stir until the mixture bubbles.
3. Let it stand for 5 minutes before tossing together with the pasta.

For the Pasta
1. Cook the linguine with 1 tbs dry basil, some salt and olive oil.
2. Cook to the al dente stage; drain the cooking water reserving one big spoonful to use later.
3. Mix the sauce with the pasta and garnish with chopped rosemary.

Thus, the store bought spread was converted into a pasta sauce. Now can I call that 70 % store bought and 30% home made and take a full credit for this delicious sauce and pasta? Why not? This is a perfect toast to the time that I have spent watching Sandra Lee do her semi-home made cooking. You can also prepare the spread used in this pasta at home with the noted ingredients. But then, if you make a trip to Harry and David, a lot of other good specialty foods will also walk into your kitchen (I can almost guarantee this!). So why bother making the sauce at home? May be you will come up with a new pasta combination that way. Bon appetit!


I have been very busy lately. Busy doing what? Its not really one particular thing that has kept me occupied. To top that, I made the horrible mistake of inadvertently deleting my earlier blog, which had taken weeks to build. Sia and others, now you know why you cannot see your comments on my previous posts. So first of all a big "thank you" to all who took the time to read my previous posts and left trails on them. Well, I spent last Sunday uploading all the posts again and rebuilding those profiles, links, blog events, etc. This was a perfect lesson on how NOT to submit yourself to the “undo” feature that operating systems today provide. The “CTRL Z” is so well blended into every cell of my brain that I tried to “undo” the blog tragedy hoping it would be a matter of just one click, only to find my Sunday ruined entirely.

Ahh! I guess this is the perfect time to present 7 random facts about me, for which I was tagged by Komal. Here we go:

1. Long before my current misfortunate blog murder, I had mistakenly added salt instead or sugar in some recipe and for about half a second, held my spirits high, thinking I just need to hit “UNDO”!

2. Nobody ever asks me, what I love to eat and drink the most? If they do, I can undoubtedly say “TIRAMISU” and “DESI CHAI”. Yes, if I knew that today is my last day of this life time, I would spend all the time I have, eating Tiramisu and sipping on our Desi Chai! That’s how much I love this Italian Dessert and Indian tea.

3. What do I hate the most in life? I can most positively say, “SHOPPING”. I made my sister, mother and my mother-in-law shop for my wedding dress, accessories and all those associated girly things for the big day. Ironically, I can spend hours at Wegmans, Harry and David or Crate and Barrel and like.

4. I have a weird fear (and somewhat hatred) for cats, dogs and crows! My heartfelt apologies to all you pet lovers. But, want to know what I would love as a pet? “A SNAKE”……I love these big noodles from the core of my heart!

5. If I don’t like something or don’t want to do a thing, I can and will come up with any goddamn “EXCUSE”.

6. If Pratik teases me over something (which he does very often), I just add extra red chilli powder in his food and watch him turn red while enjoying my portion! I do this trick so often and yet, he never realizes that it’s only his food that's hot!! Also, have you noticed the number of times I mention him in my posts. That’s just so that I get excused for other pranks that I get caught on!

7. And now for some philosophy, since everyone has a lot of thoughtful facts in their posts. I do not believe in God. How could someone make stuff like bitter gourd & radish good but chocolate & cheese bad for health? I just call this mean.

That’s it until I get tagged for something else. I guess that is enough to get me popular for now!

Now that the ball is in my court, I tag all bloggers who read this post!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Soy Bean Salad with Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

Among various things that I learned from my mom as I was growing up, perhaps the strongest was her emphasis on the benefits of home and healthy cooking. Not only did she ensure that our family got a good healthy home cooked meal but also a balanced diet. This recipe for soy bean salad is inspired by my mom's cooking. Although as kids, my sister and I turned our faces away while our mom tried to make us eat this healthy salad, over the years I have learned to appreciate this recipe simply for the amount of nutrition that it provides. As usual, I have made my little changes to the original recipe and have added a slaw with it!


For the beans:
2 cups of Soy Beans soaked overnight and cooked thereafter
4 tbs Basil Pesto Sauce (I usually have this made in advance so that way it can be used when needed).

For the Slaw:
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 tbs light mayo
A pinch of sugar, salt and pepper
For the beans:
1. Pressure cook the soy beans soaked overnight. Let them cool for about 30 minutes.
2. Mix the basil pesto sauce and the cooked beans and saute them in a pan.
3. Saute the mixture until the beans start to turn dry and the outer skin shrinks.
For the Slaw:
1. Mix all the ingredients for the slaw.
2. Cover and cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.


Serve the warm soy beans with the slaw as a light dinner. Let me mention that they are quite filling as a light meal. Alternatively, you could also serve a spoonful as a side with your dinner entree.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Watermelon Burger Patties (?)

Whenever we are at the grocery store during the summer, Pratik insists on buying watermelons. I am sort of reluctant because I find this gigantic fruit really messy to cut. To top that, Pratik doesn't want to do the cutting 'cos even he dislikes getting watermelon juice all over the the kitchen counters towards the end of the job! So I generally end up buying the sliced watermelons. That way our job of cutting the watermelon gets easier. Another thing I dislike about the watermelon is that the rind has to be thrown away. So I wasn't very excited when Jai and Bee announced "watermelon" as the AFAM fruit of the month. I actually even thought of not sending in any entry for the event.

Now, my husband isn't much of a talker, but when I decided not to participate, we switched roles and I had to listen to his rant about how I was only being lazy about having to cut the watermelon (Mind you, he still wouldn't cut it for me and yeah, I know I could have got the cubed ones for three times the price). In return for Pratik using the "lazy" word on me, I came up with this recipe and that ultimately gave me my peace of mind :) You should have seen the expression on Pratik's face when he had the first bite of this watermelon rind burger! Of course, I was the one who was talking after that.

1 cup shredded watermelon rind
1 tsp red chilli power
1 tsp chopped rosemary (You can substitute this for any herb that you like)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Handful of breadcrumbs
Goat cheese for topping

1. Remove most of the juice from the shredded watermelon rind by squeezing it with your hands. Save the juice for later use if necessary.
2. Mix the rind, chilli power, rosemary, cinnamon and salt. Mix the bread crumbs slowly to make a dough like mixture. Add bread crumbs as necessary depending on the consistency of the mixture.
3. Make 4 small or two large burger patties by pressing between your palms.
4. Coat the outer sides with bread crumbs.
5. Heat some oil in a pan and cook the patties until they look golden brown and crispy on the outside.
6. Top the patties with some goat cheese and rosemary leaves.

Serve the patties with some ketchup or sweet and sour sauce and some garlic bread on the side.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spinach, Chick Peas, Mushrooms and Carrots Soup

It was that time when my fridge was full of left over food and surprisingly, the clean up gave birth to this new soup. I initially did not plan on making it into a full blown recipe. However, the combination of vegetables and spices just knocked our taste buds out. I can positively say that you should try it not only when you have to clean out left overs from your refrigerator, but even otherwise.

2 cups of chick peas (One 15.5 oz can)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 cup of carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of hot water
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbs olive oil
Salt to taste

1. Heat some oil in a pot. Add the chopped onions and tomatoes and fry them until they are soft.
2. Add the spinach and carrots and fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue stirring. Break the mushrooms with the spoon used for stirring, if you desire the have smaller pieces in the soup.
4. Now add the red chilli flakes, salt and pepper and stir until this combination smells spicy.
5. Add the vegetable stock and water and simmer on a low flame from now on.
6. Add the chick peas and continue to simmer until the soup thickens up a bit. You can add corn starch if you desire a thicker soup. But the vegetables in this soup are quite sufficient to keep a thick consistency.

Serve the soup with some cheese on the top and a portion of french baguette on the side.

This soup is full of nutrients and has very little fat. It is an ideal meal on any given day. The perfect recipe to get proteins and fiber for your body in one shot.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Eggplant Crunch Rolls

For the first time since I started blogging, I decide to take part in a blog event: JFI, which is Indira's brainchild and being hosted by Sangeeta for July. It is a great idea that intends to celebrate a particular ingredient and the different recipes that come out of it. So, first, a big thank you to both.

Sangeeta chose "Eggplant" as the ingredient for the month of July. "Interesting" was the first word I said after reading the announcement post. For years, I have been eating eggplant cooked the traditional Indian way, where it is really the spices that are mixed in, dominate the final flavor of the product. One reason for that is that it doesn't have any pronounced taste of its own, say like peppers or carrots. So, I never either liked or hated this vegetable. For me, it were the spices that mattered.

Another reason why coming up with a good eggplant recipe seemed a bit challenging was that once cooked, this vegetable turns extremely mushy. One thing I wanted to try was to make the final product crunchy and also retain the non-dominant taste of the eggplant itself. After all, the Jivha is for Eggplant and not for the spices that go with it :) And yeah, this blog is about adventures in cooking. So I was going to have some fun!

Wanna take a guess as to what added the crispness, but didn't damage the taste of the eggplant??.........You got it! Water chestnuts!! Despite cooking, water chestnuts hold onto their crunchiness and tend to be very neutral in taste. Not only that, but water chestnuts are extremely healthy as they contain fiber and vitamins, but very little sodium or fat. So hey, I experimented with my ideas and played with the ingredients. I had to stick to the punch line for my blog!

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Egg Plant Crunch Rolls.


1 large egg plant (makes approximately 10 rolls)
1 3/4 cups water chestnuts, finely diced (2 cans of 50 oz dry weight each)
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp Sriracha (hot chilli sauce)
1 tbs fine paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies
1 tbs chopped fresh fenugreek leaves (methi leaves)
1/4 cup white onion
1 tbs oil


1. Heat some oil in a skillet. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste, fenugreek leaves and onions and fry for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the diced water chestnuts. Keep stirring.
3. Add the soy sauce and hot chilli sauce. Stir well and let it cook for a 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
4. Make thin slices of the eggplant lengthwise.
5. Grill the egg plant slices on both the sides until they start turning brown.
6. Stuff the mixture of water chestnuts in the center of the grilled egg plant slice and roll them up. Insert a tooth pick in the center to keep the roll together.


Serve the egg plant rolls hot. Sprinkle some chopped fenugreek leaves on the top. Sprinkle some red chilli powder on top to make it extra spicy.

Enjoy the CRUNCH of an eggplant!!

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!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Night Barbeque

Pratik and I love being outdoors. That's why summers are great because you can spend a lot of time outside: gardening, going on a hike, relaxing by the pool and when it comes to food, having barbeques. Barbeques are special in that you can be outside but still be around home if you dont feel like getting away.

For me, the best part of having a barbeque party at home is that everyone involved has something to contribute. I love experimenting with the different inputs that I get from the guests in terms of what to and what not to add and then coming up with my own concoction. One common notion however, is that barbeques are not for vegetarians. Now, read the recipe that follows and you will realize why that might be the biggest myth in the world.


For the basil pesto sauce (Used as marinade):
2 cups basil
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper as per taste

Vegetables and other ingredients for grilling (Cut into cubes):
Choice of red, green, yellow peppers
Indian Paneer
Any other vegetables of choice

1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts, cheese, salt and pepper and process until a coarse mixture is formed.
2. Slowly add olive oil with the machine running and combine until the desired consistency is reached.
3. Let the sauce stand for 10-15 minutes before using as a marinade for grilling vegetables.
4. In a large bowl, mix the vegetables, paneer, tofu etc. with an appropriate proportion of sauce such that all the pieces are coated with the sauce. Cover and store the mixture for an hour before grilling.
5.At the time of grilling, arrange the pieces on skewers and grill them evenly on all sides.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My favorite salad in the whole world....

That I post all my recipes as a blog was originally Pratik's idea. But suddenly I found myself on this blogging spree. Today evening I made this very special salad that is almost irresistible. I ate it first at this restaurant called Chocolate Avenue Grill that opened recently in Hershey. Of course the salad that I ate in the restaurant is out of this world but my little changes (as usual) still kept the taste pretty neat and lovable. What I like most about it is the dressing and the selection of fruit s that make this salad so colorful. Try it sometime and I can assure you that it will brighten up your evening...

2 tbs poppy seed dressing
1 orange, cubed
10-15 strawberries depending on their size, cut into halves
Field greens
10 whole almonds

1. Mix the field greens, oranges, strawberries and almonds
2. Drizzle the poppy seed dressing on top of the salad.

Now is that difficult??

Add a grilled veggie burger or grilled portabello mushroom or for meat lovers, any grilled meat for added flavor. But even without all this topping, the salad is deliciously crisp, juicy, sweet as well as tangy. Making time is no more than 5 minutes!!!


Monday, May 7, 2007

Portabello Mushroom Caps Grilled in Balsamic Vingeratte and Sandwiched between toasty Sesame Semolina bread smeared with …yeah tangy Horseradish sauce

One thing worth mentioning while cooking is the "taste". I watch Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals almost everyday. Most of the times all these celebrity chefs present mouth watering dishes. I never remember a time when something that was seen on the TV screen did not appeal to me. (Except Alton Brown's show.....I just find this guy way too disgusting.....his food even worse).

Anyway, one day I decided to try out one of Rachael's recipes at home. I followed exactly the same procedure, same measurement, same vegetables, same sauces, same everything....but unfortunately the recipe did not taste as great as I thought it would. That was when I realized that while I was watching her cook, I was slowly and unknowingly developing a taste of the same recipe in my mind, which was different than what it turned out to be eventually. I kept wondering why my recipe didn't "feel" the same as the original, although I never really had tasted the original recipe in the first place. Wondering where I am going with all this?? ......This is the thing...Cooking is an art. You need to experiment a whole lot with what you cook. You will never get it right in the first shot. And that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Remember your cooking pots could be different, your cooking oil might be different, the sauces you use could be altogether different brand and therefore different taste, your vegetables and meat are possibly from a different producer. All these factors contribute a great deal to the taste of anything you make. So just continue playing with the quantity of ingredients, cooking times, oven temperatures or any other factors which you think might have turned the taste of your entree' down. I am sure with some little tricks here and there everybody could become great cooks as long as you put your heart into it! With all this said here is a recipe for a delicious sandwich which will leave your family and friends licking their plates.

Portabello Mushroom Caps Grilled in Balsamic Vinaigrette and Sandwiched between Toasty Sesame Semolina bread smeared with …yeah tangy Horseradish sauce!!!

1 loaf sesame semolina bread
1 large cap of portabello mushroom cut into long strips
2 spring onions cut lengthwise
1/4 red onion cut into thin strips
1/2 red tomato diced or cut into strips
1 tbs balsamic vinaigrette
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs horseradish sauce
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs grated cheese of choice
Handful of field greens or crisp lettuce

1. Mix the mushroom, spring onions, onions, tomatoes in a dish. Add the balsamic vinaigrette, maple syrup and salt and mix well. Broil this mixture until the mushrooms and veggies are slightly crispy. (You can also leave them juicy and moist if you like it that way).
2. Grill 8 slices of bread in a panini grill or any stove top griddle.
3. Once the bread and the vegetables are ready, arrange the slices on your platter. On one side, spread some cheese, field greens and the prepared mixture. On the other side, spread very little horseradish sauce. Put the horseradish spread side on top of the other side. Arrange on the platter and serve hot with some chips or fries or fruit!!!

Remember to alter the quantity of balsamic vinaigrette and horseradish sauce according to your likes. Like I said earlier, cooking is an art, there is no right or wrong.....happy cooking!!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Grilled Vegan Sandwich

Here is a real quick fix sandwich for some fast after work dinners........I made this from some left over red peppers, mushrooms and hot dog rolls.

Grilled Vegan Sandwich

Ingredients: You would need the following ingredients for stuffing in one hot dog roll-
1/2 red pepper cut into strips
1/4 red onion cut into strips
1/4 cup mushrooms of choice cut into strips
2 tbs barbecue sauce
Salt per taste
Red chilli power or flakes per taste
1 hot dog roll

1. Mix the peppers, onions, mushrooms, barbecue sauce, salt, red chilli power together in an oven proof dish. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Broil the above mixture until the veggies start to turn slightly brown. Remove from the oven.
3. Either broil the bread smeared with butter or grill it until the sides are toasty.
4. Stuff the veggies in the hot dog roll and serve them hot with any chilled drink.

1. Smear some poppyseed dressing on the bread after grilling it and then stuff the veggies.
2. Use some other vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, green pepper, spinach etc.

All in all, cooking is about your instincts. I just love to experiment with different flavors that make any dish. I start with a basic flavor that I would like to taste in the recipe. Then I decide the other ingredients that would complement the basic flavor. It is important though to achieve a balance of all the ingredients in your final product, at the same time you should let your basic flavor dominate!!! That's how I keep my taste buds on the prowl all the time..... last thing before I end this blog.... I watched Spiderman 3 last Friday....It is soooo packed with some stunning graphic effects and actions scenes. I especially liked the new Spidey clone and the Sandman. It would have been even better, if there were some more goody Spidey action shots. There were moments when I got desperate to see Spidey instead of the villains but nevertheless, Spidey 3 undoubtedly is worth seeing!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007


Over the past few days I tried several recipes at home, but didn't write about any because I was extremely upset over Miami's performance in this years basketball playoffs. They are my favorite team and I just could not take it. I mean come on.......the 2006 champs being swept in the first round ?? That means I have to wait another year to watch them maul Detroit at the Palace. This is how crazy I am about this team: I watched them lose to the Pistons in Game 7 during the 2005 playoffs and cried for the next 30 minutes, called my dad in the middle of the night and explained to him how Miami deserved to win, and refused to talk to anybody for the next whole week. Thats how much I like watching them. This year was different though. D-Wade got injured, some other players were sub-par during the regular season and Shaq was the only one who showed some spark. Yet they managed to win games before the playoffs and so I was hoping that the series with the Bulls would be fun. Honestly, I didn't expect them to win without Wade being 100%. This guy is special. He knows exactly when, how and where he should be to be able to shoot through. The 2006 championship was undoubtedly his solo effort. After that win, I remember dancing on the couch for like 15 minutes cheering at the top of my voice. But this year proved to be a dud. Nevertheless, I am back to being myself and will update this blog more frequently.

Here is the recipe for these delicious crepes that I made Friday night to eat while I watched the third game in the Heat-Bulls series.

Spinach, Red pepper and Mushroom Crepes

Ingredients :

1 cup complete buttermilk pan cake mix
1 cup shittake mushrooms cut into strips
1/2 red bell peppers cut into strips
1/4 cup spinach
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
Olive oil

1 cup milk
3 tbs all purpose flour
2 tbs butter
4 tbs parmesan cheese
Few drops of dark chocolate sauce
1/4 tsp salt


1. In a sauce pan, heat some olive oil and saute the mushrooms, red pepper and spinach. Add some salt and red chilli flakes.
2. Melt 2 tbs of butter in a sauce pan and add the all purpose flour to this. Let this cook for 4-5 minutes so that the sauce doesn't taste powdery.
2. Slowly add the milk to this mixture stiring continuously. As this starts to thicken up, add the salt. Continue stiring until another 5-7 minute. Finally add a few drops of the chocolate sauce.
3. Make the batter for the pancakes as per the directions. Add some extra water to make it thin.
4. Heat a round griddle and spread some oil over it. Pour some batter on the pan and roll it over the griddle to spread evenly and thinly. Flip over after one side is cooked. Cook the other side for 1-2 minutes until crisp.
5. Stuff the mushrooms, red pepper and spinach mixture on the crepe and roll it.
6. Top the crepes with the sauce and drizzle some chocolate sauce on the top.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Crumbly Walnut and Date Bread

It's intresting how my brain throws out recipes when my I am faced with challenging traffic engineering problems at work. Today I was modeling a study area for some future year roadway network when I thought of making this walnut date bread. My simulation model failed to yeild the expected results but this recipe that I tried after I got home surely turned into a huge success.

Last Monday I ate a banana nut bread at Starbucks, the taste of which is still on my tongue. That is probably why I was thinking of making some light fluffy bread on my next trial. Oh, by the way, for all the coffee lovers, whenever you are at Starbucks don't forget to try their caramel toffeenut latte/cappuccino. You may not find it on their menu. Pratik thinks this is the girliest coffee ever, so he says that guys should not get it, but then again, Pratik drinks half of my latte everytime.

Here is the recipe-

Crumbly Walnut and Date Bread---


1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking power
1 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large egg (Egg can be substituted for 1 tsp of baking power)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt


Pre-heat the oven to 350 F

1. Mix the dates, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water to this mixture. Mix well and allow it to cool upto room temperature ( 1- 1.5 hours).
2. Lightly toast the walnuts. Let cool and give a rough chop.
3. In a food processor, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking powder.
4. Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly like breadcrumbs. Add the walnuts.
5. In a bowl whisk the egg and add the vanilla extract.
6. Fold the egg mixture and the cooled dates into the flour mixture and mix well.
7. Grease a 9x5x3 baking pan and place the above mixture into the pan.
8. Bake at 350 deg. F for 30-40 minutes. Bread is ready when toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.
9.Let cool in the pan for a while and then turn over on a wire rack and cool completely.
10. Cut pieces of desired size and enjoooooooooooooooy!

I have this really bad habit of approximating ingredient quantities in all recipes. It is certainly not the right approach when baking. Also, baking time and temperature are very specific to the oven in use. Make sure you modify these little things while trying out any recipes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Italian Asian American Fusion

Cooking is my passion.......not to the extent yet that I would be happy to accept that as a profession...but almost that!! Thanks to the food network channel, this passion is kept ever expanding and delightful......The only other time I turn my TV on is to watch Espn...Go Heat!! And that is the only time I probably don't think of cooking!!

So here I was on a boring afternoon at work trying to think of a recipe I hadn't tried yet which could whet my appetite (These days I am really bored of eating pasta, burgers, pizzas, chinese food....anything cheesy greasy.... strict no no!!) I mean, I don't mind using any ingredients that go into these foods but the final product should taste altogetherly different. So, simply said, I wanted to use a pizza dough, pizza sauce and cheese and turn it into a pizza which wouldn't taste like pizza. Hehehe.....funny isn't it?

And hello....... I came up with this super rich recipe that turned out to be simply yummo....

Here it goes:

Rosy Lemony Spicy Vermicelli---

1 cup milk
3 tbs all purpose flour
2 tbs butter
4 tbs parmesan cheese
1/2 tbs red chilli flakes
1/4 tbs fresh chopped rosemary
1/4 tbs fresh chopped lemon thyme
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp butter
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 scallion thinly sliced
1 tbs asian spicy grilling sauce
Vermicelli (You can use spaghetti but I prefer the thinner vermicelli for this recipe!)
Firm tofu

1. Melt 2 tbs of butter in a sauce pan and add the all purpose flour to this. Let this cook for 4-5 minutes so that the sauce doesn't taste powdery.
2. Slowly add the milk to this mixture stiring continuously. As this starts to thicken up, add the chopped rosemary, lemon thyme, red chilli flakes and salt. Continue stiring until another 5-7 minutes. Add the cheese and mix well.
3. Grill the tofu in a pan with some oil or butter.
4. In a pasta pot, cook the vermicelli until al dente stage. (I usually use some oil and salt while cooking pasta).
5. While the pasta is cooking, in a seperate pan, lightly stir the red onions and spring onions over some butter. Add the asian spicy grilling sauce to this mixture and continue stirring.
6. Drain all the water from the pasta. (Reserve 1 big spoonful of the cooking water to use later).
7. Add the vermicelli to the onions and mix well with the pasta water. Add the tofu.

To Serve:
In a plate, serve the pasta and pour the sauce over it. Decorate with a sprig of rosemary. Serve with lemonade on a hot summer afternoon or with any light wine for dinner.

Meat lovers can easily alter the recipe and fit in chicken, beef or pork in place of tofu. Try using mushrooms, tomatoes etc. for a different taste.

Oh, by the way, today I completed planting my kitchen garden for the summer. I am growing two different varieties of tomatoes and green peppers in vegetables. In my herb garden, I have cilantro, mustard, rosemary, lemon thyme and possibly green chilly!! Also, our flower garden will soon be blooming with petunias and violas....I can't wait to watch them grow!!