Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A few plants from my garden:)

I love gardening. Its been just a couple of full-summers since we moved into our current home and this is our second summer here. I managed to grow a few flower plants and a few veggies. Here they are :)

Wait for the recipes of home-grown mint and methi :)

A small patch is all I had for mint and look at this now! Also, this excludes what I had given away to my lucky neighbors.

Below are my methi pot's :)
When i don't use as much herbs (thyme, chive etc), they go into a vase.
Now a few pictures of my flower patches starting with Asiatic lily. I love these bright orange lilies. In between you would also see pansies, pinks etc which I use as fillers to get the brighter side of the entire patch.
Thickseed and daisy buds.
Do any of you know the name for these?
Zinnias and Jasmine...I actually managed to keep my jasmine plant alive in winter!! Yeayyy!
Actually, all these flowers are from the second-phase of summer (June-July). The first phase started with Tulips, Daffodils and a few others (pictures of which are posted in the below link) as soon as the last frost has passed late April/early May.

There is a third phase too. Flowers like Dahlia, Oriental lilies, Calla lilies and a few other plants whose names I don't remember (Aug-sept). I also brought up a few plants from seeds, hollyhocks, lupines, poppy, ginger etc. I think they will blossom only next year in summer though.

Hope you all enjoyed and wait till August and I will share the third season flower pictures :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You name it

Most of us love to have something sweet to eat post dinner isn't it? But for a few us its an absolute must to have sweet after dinner. My hubby is one of them. If he doesn't find anything in the fridge he comes over to me and asks sweetly, "veetle yedavadu sweet iruka?" (have got any sweet at home), in a tone capable of melting a rock. So I usually make sure there is something.

But, the other day I didn't have anything to make at home other than a few cherries. So I dipped them in vanilla frosting and chilled it for 1 hour. It tasted divine after that. Simple and it took me less than 5 minutes to make this. (excluding the chilling time, you will need 1 hour for the frosting to get hard around the cherry).

I was inspired by Godiva's famous strawberries dipped in chocolate.

I haven't thought of a name for this one. I could come up with, cochees (cold cherries). Would anyone like to name it?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thai Green Curry

I love Thai food. I am not sure if its because its spicy or because its close what I call spicy. Anyway, here is my "renewed" version of Thai Green curry. It can be either veggie or non-veg (chicken). I invented this below version to suit both veg and non veg. Confused? Don’t will know what I mean when you read the entire post :)

Bell Peppers: 2
Mushrooms (optional): 1 cup
Zucchini: ½ (again…this is optional)
Beans: roughly chopped ½ a cup
Coconut milk: 1 can
Chicken (if non-veg): skinless, boneless 1 lb, cut into bite size pieces
Olive oil: 3 tbsp

For the green curry paste:
Onion: ¼, I dint have spring onion. If you have use 3 of them
Ginger: 3 inches
Garlic cloves: 4
Fresh Coriander: 1 cup
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Pepper powder: 1 tsp
Green chil: 3
Lime juice: 1 tsp
Sea food sauce: 3 tbsp. If veggie version, try using hot sauce

• Blend all the ingredients in the green curry paste until fine with about ¼ cup of coconut milk.

• Heat a pan and add 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil. Then fry all the veggies until they are half done. This shouldn’t take more than 7 minutes on medium heat.
• If you are using chicken, add the remaining 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil in another pan and fry the chicken pieces until they are well done. Make sure you remove them from heat before it starts to brown.
• Now heat another pan and add the green curry paste and the rest of the coconut milk.

• When the paste comes to a boil, add salt and the veggies. Switch off the stove after 2 minutes if veggies version.

• For chicken version, add the chicken pieces to the veggies before switching off.
• Garnish with basil leaves.

That’s all! Easy eh? Serve hot with jasmine/basmati rice. This should serve 4.

Variations: Lemon Grass is an important part of any Thai curry. Include lemon grass (2 stalks) while grinding the green curry paste. I didnt include it because I didnt have it at home.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mushroom Pasta...

Friends, whom we can call close/best is a blessing and a privilege. I must say I am lucky in this respect. My best friend who happens to be a vegetarian, keeps asking me to try something "different" in pasta, veggie-version. She herself is a good cook (and the first follower of my cooking blog). So I started thinking of simple and basic ways of making bow-tie pasta recipes for her and finally managed to get the right one which is healthy and tasty too. I used Mushrooms as my main ingredient. After making pasta, I called her immediately with excitement and told her about it. But, much to our disappointment her husband is allergic to mushrooms! Now my quest still continues...

Until then, perhaps you all can enjoy this simple, 10 minutes dinner recipe.

Bow-tie pasta-2 cups (uncooked, I used whole wheat grain pasta)
Mushrooms: 1 cup
garlic: 1 tbsp, finely minced
basil: a few leaves if fresh but i used dried 1 tbsp (or any of your favorite herb)
rosemary: 1 tsp (or any of your favorite herb)
shredded almonds and pecans: 3 tbsp
Butter: 1 small cube
Dry white wine (cooking wine): 100 ml
Cheese: I used shredded Parmesan

  • Cook pasta according to the packet instructions and drain.
  • Dry roast the shredded nuts and leave them aside (be careful not to burn them).
  • Heat butter in a large pan and add the garlic and the herbs.
  • When you start getting the aroma, add mushroom's and fry them for 1 minute.
  • Now add wine and cook the mushrooms (should be done in 5 mins). Add a little salt.
  • Wait until almost all the wine is absorbed and then add the cooked pasta and nuts and simmer for 2 minutes before switching off the stove. Quickly check if the salt is enough, else add just a little more.
  • Transfer into a bowl and serve immediately on a warm plate. After serving the pasta on a plate, sprinkle the cheese generously.
That's all!

This evening I am going to try slightly different version and add asparagus and peas too. I will post the picture with this variation later this evening.

My first award:
Thanks Suja for the beautiful award's. Indeed I am extremely happy and this first award will always remain close to my heart. I appreciate that you remembered to give this to me.

Most of you already have this I am unable to share this with many people. So, I want to share this especially with Jagruti, Gouri, Invincible and with everyone in this space.

Below is one of my favorite picture we had taken last year on the way to Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Baklava is one of the sweets which deserves to be categorized under, "sinful delights". This sure is for someone who needs a lift of spirits! Its fairly easy to make and your family and friends will be pleasantly surprised that you actually managed to make Baklava at home!

Baklava is originally from Turkey and is pronounced as "Baak-lava" or "Baak-leva". But its most popular as being referred to as Baaklava.

Phyllo dough (look for it in the frozen food section in the grocery store. thaw it for 30 mins)
Clarified butter (or unsalted butter)- 1/2 cup
shredded walnuts - 1 cup
Shredded almonds-1/4 cup
finely grounded Cinnamon- 1 tsp

Sugar syrup ingredients:
Sugar-3/4 cup
Honey-1/4 cup
vanilla extract-1 tsp

1. Mix walnuts, almonds and cinnamon and keep aside.

2. Take a 9"/13" baking tray and grease it with butter on bottom and sides.
3. Open the phyllo dough and cut the sheets in such a way that it fits the tray (usually if you cut into half that should fit 9/13 tray).

4. Keep one half aside and store the rest of the dough in the freezer.
5. Take 2 sheets of dough and grease it with butter. (make sure that you work your way around super quick because phyllo gets dried real fast. If you think you cannot do faster then cover the rest of the dough with wet cloth)
6. Place these two sheets in the baking tray. Repeat this process until you finish 8 sheets.
7. Then sprinkle 3 table spoons of nuts (from step 1).

8. Then place 2 more greased sheets of phyllo followed by nuts. Repeat until you finish the nuts.
9. The top layer of phyllo should be at least 6 layers.

10. At this point, preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C.
11. Gently cut the dough with a very sharp knife all the way till you hit the bottom(any shape you like). (this is difficult, so cut the dough very carefully, I usually choose square or diamond).

12. When the oven is ready bake it for 30 mins. After 30 mins take it out and see if the top layer has turned light golden brown. If not, then bake for another 10 mins. make sure you keep an eye on this after 30 mins because phyllo gets burnt fast.

Sugar syrup:
while Baklava is baking, boil water and sugar until sugar completely dissolves. Then add honey and simmer for 20 mins. 3 mins before you turn the gas off, add Vanilla extract. The consistency would be slightly thick (something like gulab jamoon syrup).

Finally when Baklava has turned golden color, remove it from the oven and pour the sugar syrup all over it immediately. Yes, drench it completely and evenly. You will hear that 'chhhhhsssss' sound....but that's fine. That's it! You will need to let it cool down at least for 2 hours before you serve it because its going to be really hot and also the syrup needs to be absorbed. Leave it uncovered while its cooling down. When it cools down, gently take the pieces out.

I gave so many steps so that it is easier to understand. Its really not difficult. try it and let me know how it came!