Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I like this Italian salad for the obvious reason that it is addictively delicious. And that we can use up leftover breads. Especially when there is a little more than usual, after a frenzied bread-baking period.
And I can pretend that I am eating healthy as there are  some vegetables in here --( compare it to bread pudding! another item that I like ). The other day we had to do a lot of work in the yard, including some big time tree pruning. By the time it was done, we really appreciated the crunch and chewiness of this salad. Along with a glass of wine, it tasted like heaven!

I am not going to do the ingredients list for this one. hehe

Let's  go straight to the making. This is what  I did -- dont know if it's the right way, but it worked fr me.

400° F oven. Halve a baguette lengthwise or cut long thick strips of a boule on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat two or three tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Medium heat. Add a few crushed - 4 or 5 - cloves of garlic. Let'em sweat in there. (serves them right! ). Now is the time to prepare the veggies you want to add. I had some yellow cherry tomatoes -- about 2 cups, an orange bell pepper, a few diced  red tomatoes, and some arugula. Of course, a sliced red onion should be there. And chopped fresh basil. . Put all these except the arugula in a large mixing bowl. Add a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Check the garlic. Add crushed red pepper flakes to the oil, if you like. I did. You may take out the garlic chunks now, if you prefer. Pour in the hot  garlic oil into the mixing bowl with the veggies. . Toss well. Get the toasted bread out of the oven, and tear  to bite sized pieces. Add that to the bowl. Toss . Add the arugula. Toss. A round of olive oil, if you like. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Garnish with more basil. Enjoy with a glass of wine. :)

PS: You may add other veggies to this salad, grilled or pan-seared for a minute or two. Zucchini, butternut squash, green beans, mushrooms and asparagus -- all will add spice and substance to the experience. and what if we added various meats or fish? wow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kerala yellow split pea & snake gourd stirfry---parippu-padavalanga thoran

A simple Kerala meal has three main dishes to accompany rice. One dish with a sauce that can be mixed with the rice, called chaarukoottan. This could be a lentil-based vegetable stew-like dish, a yogurt-based dish with sauce, a broth-like vegetable dish, a coconut milk based dish, or a fish or meat or egg dish with sauce. The second accompaniment to rice is a dry or semi-dry dish -- this could be a vegetable stirfry called thoran or a mezhukkupuratti, or meat stirfry, or a lentil, or egg. The third side would be a varavu -- a fried something. Again, this could be a fried fresh or dried, salted fish, a fried vegetable or fried meat. Salads like pachadi, kichadi are other sides. Pappadams, pickles, relishes and kondaattams and yogurt are always there, as sides that enhance the whole meal.

This recipe here is a tasty accompaniment to rice and sambar or rasam, or rice and any meat or fish stews. Basically, it is a lentil-vegetable stirfry. It is a "thoran" because it has coconut in it. A really simple meal would be if we had this with rice and yogurt and a hot or tangy pickle.


yellow split pea - 1/2 cup
snake gourd, cut in small pieces- 2 cups approx.
onion, cut in half and sliced, - 1/2 cup
garlic, crushed - 4 cloves
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
crushed red pepper - 1-2 tsp
coconut, grated - 1/2 - 3/4 cup
mustard - 1/2 tsp
dried red chili, broken into 2 pieces- 2
curry leaves
oil - 3 tbsp

Soak the yellow split pea in water for a few hours. Cook with a pinch of turmeric till tender, not mushy.

Prepare the snake gourds. Cut into pieces, and cook in a little water, till tender but firm.

Heat oil in a wok or skillet. Pop the mustard seeds. Add onion and garlic and curry leaves.Add the dried red chili peppers, and the crushed red pepper. Saute for a few minutes till onion is wilted and garlic is a light brown. Add the grated coconut. Stir well. Medium heat. Saute for a few minutes. Add the cooked lentil and snake gourd. Stir well. Add enough salt. Mix well till everything is incorporated.

Serve with rice along with a chaarukoottaan., or by itself, with yogurt, and a pickle, if you like.

A note about the rice -- all the above dishes go best with Kerala matta rice.


However, the parboiled rice that we use here does the job all right too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shortbread thumbprint cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
11/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

raspberry jam for filling

350°F oven.

Whip butter till fluffy. Stir in sugar + cornstarch + flour.
Beat well -- 3-4 minutes on high.
Make 1" inch balls out of dough. Place each ball 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Make small indentation with thumb in the center of each dough ball. Chill for 20 minutes at this point -- optional.
Fill each indentation with a scant 1/4 tsp jam.
Bake for 10 -12 minutes, till the edges begin to turn a very light golden brown.

Transfer cookies to cooling rack.

adapted from allrecipes.com