Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Looking a Lot Like Christmas!

I don't know if it's just me or the holidays season is going by too fast. Christmas is only a week away! I was so consumed in my work after the vacation, I thought there wouldn't be any holiday fun for me. So I packed all that I could in the last weekend. I hosted some San Diego food bloggers for a holiday potluck. Who doesn't want to eat with a bunch of great cooks? There were a few appetizers, a wonderful winter salad with lemon-tahini dressing (yum!), two kinds of chili and a pecan pie, and some bubbly mimosas to down it all. I made two of the appetizers - pesto pinwheels and fig compote bruschetta. I used store bought pesto and pastry sheets to make the pinwheels.  The fig compote was home-made using the figs in my garden! Lightly grilled baguette topped with fig compote, goat cheese and chopped walnuts made for a perfect appetizer. I like these kind of finger foods for parties. You can hold your drink, eat and have a conversation all at the same time.

For more holiday cheer, hubs and I went to see some amazing holiday decoration displays in a nearby neighborhood. It almost felt like we were in the north pole - except there was no snow. Oh, the decorations were lovely! Every single house in the Christmas Card Lane was decked out and you couldn't pick a favorite if you had to. It was all so magical. The pictures hardly do it any justice.

I also attended another holiday party at a friend's place. It was nice not to worry about hosting and cleaning the place and cooking for a change.

Although nothing holiday related, I tried two new things over the weekend. Some simple white bread - since husband was tired of being the Guinea pig for my whole-wheat or multi-grain bread making trials. I did sneak in 1/3 of whole wheat flour but this version was loved a lot more than my previous attempts. You know what I love on top of a slice of bread? Poached eggs! That's right - I poached not one, but two eggs without having any disasters! I'm so proud of myself and so very thankful to Anne Burrell for showing the perfect technique. I know what I'll be making for brunch the next several weekends.

A few more days of work and we'll be off on a mini getaway to celebrate Christmas. If I don't get to wish you before that, hope you have a fantastic holiday in the company of your near and dear ones. Do eat lots of food without worrying about the calories. There's always the new year to make resolutions!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pumpkin Bharta

While most blogs are exploding with sinful holiday goodies, I'm sharing a very healthy and simple side dish today. Why? Just because I thought the blogosphere needed some variety. Not really, it just makes me feel good about healthy eats before the holiday mania begins ;).

Bharta or Bharit, as we call in Marathi, is a typical Indian side dish made with mashed vegetables. Yes, the description is not very appetizing. But who doesn't like baingan bharta? Mom made a variety of bhartas in my house, all just as tasty and nutritious- doodhi/bottle gourd, green bell pepper, even okra. This particular recipe is a favorite of mine and is great since it uses the season's best. One of the reasons I love it so much, other than the taste, is because of the vibrant color it adds to the plate.

Pumpkin Bharta/Bhopalyache Bharit

3 Cups pumpkin cubes (~2 Cups cooked & mashed pumpkin)
2 Teaspoons oil/ghee
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 Teaspoon fenugreek/methi seeds
2 Pinches asafoetida
3-4 Dry red chilies - broken in half/2 Small green chilies - chopped
1 Sprig curry leaves
1 Cup yogurt
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnishing

  • Steam/pressure cook pumpkin cubes. Don't worry about peeling the skin before cooking. It comes right off after the pumpkin is cooked. Just make sure you wash it before cooking.
  • Scoop out the flesh and mash it slightly with the back of the spoon or a fork. I like my bharta chunky.
  • Heat oil/ghee in a kadhai (or if you have those small tadka kadhais), add mustard and fenugreek seeds. 
  • Once they splutter, add asafoetida, curry leaves and red chilies. If you like green chilies instead, feel free to use them. I prefer the smokiness of red chilies. 
  • Add this tempering to the mashed pumpkin and mix well. 
  • Add yogurt and season with salt. 

Garnish the bharta with chopped cilantro and serve with hot roti.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Hello readers! I know my wishes come (very) late - but I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. The weeks after Diwali just flew by between some work related travel and my dance exam. And what went by even faster was our relaxing vacation to Jamaica for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a great week spent eating spicy curries and enjoying tropical weather. Getting back to work wasn't fun - I'm hammered with deadlines. The only comforting fact is that the holiday season just around the corner (can't believe the year is almost over)! We got back to a decked out neighborhood and a much cooler San Diego. It's nothing like the East Coast during the holiday season, but I'm finally in the mood for some winter cooking - oven working overtime and soups and stews simmering on stove tops. Today's recipe is a favorite of mine - cream of mushroom soup! This is a healthy, 'guilty-free eating before the holidays' recipe ;).

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 Package baby bella/brown mushrooms (roughly 2 Cups chopped)
1/4 Medium onion - finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves - finely chopped
1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano (feel free to use rosemary or sage)
A dash of Mrs. Dash (hah!) original spice mix (or use Italian seasoning)
Paprika - to your liking
1Tablespoons + 1 Teaspoon butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 Cups milk
Water if needed
Salt to taste

  • Clean and chop mushrooms finely. If you like your soup chunky, cur accordingly.
  • Add a teaspoon of butter to a pan and ad the chopped garlic, onion and mushrooms. Season with the spices and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms are soft (about 4-5 minutes).
  • Heat a pot on the side and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the flour once butter is completely melted. Whisk continuously so the flour doesn't burn.
  • Once the color of flour turns slightly dark, add milk and boil on medium-high until the milk thickens. Make sure to keep whisking so there are no lumps.
  • Add the seasoned mushrooms, salt to taste, close the lid and let it simmer for a few minutes until all the flavors come together. You can add some water if the soup gets too thick and bring it to a boil again.

The soup tasted delicious with some toasted whole grains bread. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...