Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beetroots in Coconut Milk

My life would have been so much easier if chocolate chip cookies had been beneficial to our health compared to say, slices of beetroot. Don't get me wrong here. I absolutely enjoy every bit of my fun filled life..........until it comes to making Pratik eat beetroot. Yep, his dislike for them matches only to my dislike for crows! I have come up with so many beetroot recipes to date that my brain has given up on ideas. None of them have worked so far!

And that is exactly when you folks came to help me. I want to thank each one of you who left me some gorgeous recipes and links for making use of the abundant beetroots in our home. I also searched online and some have even made beetroot ice-cream! In fact, Alexa has made a wonderful beetroot mousse filled in chocolate cups! Now that is certainly commendable and I am sure it tasted great! But I think it is reasonable to conclude that you folks also have to come up with something eye catching to make your family eat beetroots?

In whatever form, I am just happy when I see the recipe work. This side dish of beetroots in coconut milk is not only healthy but packed with abundant flavor from fennel seeds. And as I had expected it worked well on my husband! Hurray!


4 medium cooked beetroots, cubed
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground fennel
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup whey or vegetable stock
1/2 cups coconut milk
1-2 tbs lemon juice
Cilantro for garnish


Heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions and garlic, ground fennel, turmeric & curry powder. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cubed beetroots and mix well. Add whey or vegetable stock and simmer until reduced by half. Add the coconut milk and simmer again for 5-7 minutes.

Add salt and lemon juice and mix well.


Serve warm as a side. Garnish with cilantro.

I am sending this recipe to Sunita for her wonderful "Think spice" event. I hope the fennel spices up your event anniversary menu.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce

What do you do when you are left with a dozen tomatoes after using them in all kinds of soups, salads, sandwiches and more?

# 1: You vow to stay under control the next time you see these delicious red beauties at the market!

# 2: You create this extraordinary tomato cream sauce to please your family and almost make them forget that all they have been eating for the entire week has been tomatoes in various forms! Yeah, you have to make this sauce to believe that I am not exaggerating here. It is seriously a knock-out of a kind! Topped on any pasta or gnocchi, it offers a satisfying and easy to prepare meal, especially when you are super-tired. Our pasta tasted extra special because we ate this while watching Micheal Phelps take that 8th gold. And boy, is that man for real? What a win!

In ecstasy over this Phelps phenomenon, we helped ourselves to a few extra servings on this pasta! The freshness of the tomatoes added with the smoothness of the cream and two very dear spices, bay leaf and whole peppercorn, take this sauce to a whole new level!

And now before we go to the recipe, please tell me, what do you do when you are left with a dozen beetroots after using them in soups, salads, sandwiches and more? I know #1-- don't lose control when you see them at the market the next time. But for now, please help me with # 2 How about a spicy pink sauce for another pasta night?


Serves 4
Pasta of your choice
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
4 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water, whey or vegetable stock plus more if needed
2 tbs tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
Parmesan cheese for topping


Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the bay leaves and peppercorn and lightly roast for a minute. Add the garlic and onions and saute for about 2 minutes.

Now add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft. Add the tomato paste, water or whey or vegetable stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for another minute or two.

Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the box.


Mix the sauce well with the cooked pasta. Top with some grated or powdered Parmesan cheese. I prefer to leave the bay leaves in the sauce but you can pull them out before serving.

I am sending this pasta over to my friend, Ruth for her weekly Presto Pasta Night event! Ruth is a wonderful lady and her event has given me the perfect pasta recipes for numerous dinners! I hope you enjoy this one, Ruth!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blueberry Buttermilk (Yeah Buttermilk!) Panna Cotta

Whoever came up with the idea of letting the common man onto a farm to pick fruits must have been a genius. Pratik and I had been fascinated by the idea of picking berries on a farm for a while, but had never actually got a chance to try it out. So when we made a trip to Canada this summer to visit my aunt, we were delighted when she asked whether we wanted to go strawberry picking. In that excitement, I remember letting out a brief shriek, confusing my aunt about whether I was really excited about the idea or whether it sounded so disgusting that I was in some sort of panic mode. It was hysterical. Anyway, things were sorted out and we jetted off to one of the farms close to her home.

It was an awesome experience. We could pick what we wanted, eat what we picked and to top that, take home a basket full. All for just 5 bucks. Eating all the strawberries picked fresh off the farm on a beautiful summer day! What more could one want? The tartness of these fruits, along with their sweetness is what makes these summer fruits extra special!

Back from the trip, my memory still fresh from the lovely strawberry picking experience, I went looking for strawberries at our farmers market. I wanted to try out a strawberry panna cotta. As luck would have it, they didn't have any! However, the bluberries there looked fabulous. I picked some up with the idea that I would now make a blueberry panna cotta instead.

Like most of you know, panna cotta translates to 'cooked cream'. Given our calorie filled vacation though, I wanted to create a lighter, healthier version. So I experimented with using buttermilk instead of the cream. We absolutely loved the result and will definitely make this again!

As a completely random side, are any of you watching the basketball games at the Olympics? Chris Kaman, playing for Germany, summarized Team USA's performance absolutely perfectly after Germany got routed by them yesterday: "Nobody is going to beat them. No way, it's just not going to happen". Gotta love those guys! More on that later.

Here we go with the recipe:


2 cups low fat buttermilk
1 cup milk (I used 2% fat but whole milk will be the best)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 tbs vanilla essence
1 tbs unflavored gelatin
2 tbs cold water
1/4 cup of fresh blueberries
1 tbs sugar for the blueberry puree
Mint sprigs (optional)
Few extra blueberries for topping (optional)


Grease 8 small ramekins with some oil.

Process the blueberries and 1 tbs of sugar in a food processor until smooth. If desired, strain this puree through a fine sieve.

Soak the gelatin in cold water.

Combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring it to a slow simmer stirring continuously. Add the soaked gelatin in this mixture while whisking steadily. Add the blueberry puree and mix well.

Pour into the greased ramekins. Allow to cool outside for 10 minutes. Keep in the refrigerator overnight.


To unmold, dip the ramekins in hot water for about 10 seconds and carefully flip on to a plate. Alternately, run a knife along the edges of the ramekins and then flip on to a plate. Top with mint sprigs and more blueberries if desired.


It is very important to stir the buttermilk continuously while simmering to prevent it from curdling. I have used buttermilk to keep the dessert healthy. You could use a combination of buttermilk, half & half; heavy cream (1 cup each).

Health Benefits:

Buttermilk is lower in fat and helps digestion. For more information click here.

Blueberries (or for that matter, berries in general) are packed with antioxidants, help in improving vision, protect against cancer, help protect the brain & promote gastrointestinal health. For more information click here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cauliflower & Potato Gratin

The taste of the cauliflower gratin served at my friend’s house when we were in France last year is still tantalizing my tongue. When I took the first bite, I was in heaven. The vegetable combined with the cheese sauce just melted into my mouth. Needless to say, the cauliflower was picked fresh from their own garden and the cheese was authentic French. An absolutely satisfying and savory experience. Truly one of a kind! It was, I thought, the best way to convert the otherwise bland cauliflower into a hearty meal.

In the previous few posts, I have been raving about my trips to the farmers market. I don't want to go on and on about it, but I really think that fresh cauliflower right from the garden as in our friends case or a farmers market, as in my case, can totally change the taste of this gratin. Believe me, I've tried the same thing with frozen stuff and it isn't even half as good. I invite you all to try out this amazing cauliflower and potato gratin, created with the finest cauliflower head, unblemished baking potatoes and fresh cheese bought at our farm market.

Dig in!


1/4 cauliflower head, cut
1 medium or 3/4 large baking potato
2 bay leaves
1tbs lemon juice
Salt and pepper

For the cheese sauce-
1 tbs butter
1 small shallot, finely cut
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 tbs all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1tbs heavy cream
1/4 cup mix shredded cheese such as sharp cheddar, pepper jack, etc.
1-2 hot and sweet peppers
4 tbs powdered Parmesan cheese


1. In a pot of boiling water, add some salt, lemon juice and the bay leaves. Stir and add the cut cauliflower. Cook partially covered for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain the water and let the cauliflower cool. Add some pepper. Then remove the bay leaves.

2. Cut the baking potato in small cubes. In a microwave dish, place the cubed potatoes with 2 tbs of water. Cover partially and microwave for 4 minutes. Remove, let cool, then add some salt and pepper.

3. In a sauce pan, heat some butter and saute the shallots, garlic and hot and sweet peppers. Add the flour and cook for a minute. Slowly add the milk, whisking gently as you add the milk. Add the heavy cream and continue to whisk slowly. The sauce will gradually start to thicken. Now add the powdered Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and stir. Add half of the grated mixed cheese and stir.

4. Pre heat the oven to 350deg F.

5. Grease 4 ramekins with some butter or oil. Divide the cauliflower equally in the ramekins. Layer the mixed cheese equally and evenly in the ramekins. Layer the potatoes. Now add the cheese sauce until the tops are covered. Sprinkle top with some more Parmesan cheese, if desired. Alternately you can create the same layers in an oven proof casserole dish.

6. Bake at 350deg F for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes before serving.


Serve hot. Sprinkle some pepper on top and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Perfect Carrot Cake!

Every weekend I buy huge bounties of berries, fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. During my last trip, I was totally in the mood to make a carrot cake, and so some gorgeous juicy carrots were what I picked up first. Then came everything else. But it is not just the produce section that gets my attention. The fresh jams, pickles, dressings, sauces, pies and cookies also keep me lingering at the market for a long time. While browsing through these sections, I also picked up a jar of spiced apple sauce the same day.

When I got back home, I began my search for the perfect carrot cake recipe. After reading tons of recipes here and there, I decided to follow the trusted source for baking. Not only did I get what I was looking for, the recipe also allowed me to use the spiced apple sauce. For my cake though, I completely omitted the cream cheese frosting.

Thank you Stephanie for teaching me the perfect carrot cake!

The ingredients and the recipe can be found here.

Cool Summer Salad

Today was a perfect Saturday morning. The air was cool outside and the morning sun was shining bright. After a good night's sleep, I walked in the backyard with a cup of tea and with no to-do tasks in my mind. Such mornings are very rare, when I am not thinking of the next thing to do while finishing the one in hand. One cup of tea was followed by another, and yet there was no rush!

This flawless start followed through for the rest of the day. I almost felt like I had forgotten what it feels like to take things so easy. To top that, Pratik asked if I could make one of his favorite beetroot salads for lunch. How perfect, I thought.

On went the apron, out came the grater and 15 minutes later, my man, who otherwise goes berserk over candy and chocolate, was eating this fantastic beetroot salad.

Beets add the vibrance, peanuts & yogurt add the creaminess and lettuce and carrots add the crunchiness to this cool summer salad.


For the salad-
1 medium beetroot, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 lettuce head, cut into 4 quarters
2 tbs lemon juice

For the peanut dressing-
2-3 tbs lightly salted peanuts
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp red chilli power


1. Lightly mix the shredded beetroot, carrot, 1 tbs of lemon juice and some salt.
2. In a coffee grinder, grind the peanuts until they are finely powdered.
3. Mix the powdered peanuts, yogurt & red chilli powder with some salt. This is the dressing for the salad.


Arrange the four quarters of the lettuce on a serving plate & drizzle 1tbs lemon juice. Add a dollop of the peanut dressing over the lettuce cups. Spoon the shredded beetroot and carrot over the dressing. Add more dressing on the top and garnish with some chopped cilantro, if desired.