Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Berry Healthy Breakfast Smoothie

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After a very long time, I post something potable on this blog. My weekdays have again become the gruelling battles to attain metrics. Exercising with this schedule becomes a distant reality and a round of golf a weekend luxury, something sacrificed to rest the overworked body. Atleast we can eat healthy. Since, Lunch and Dinners are an indulgence for me, Breakfast are where I like to make up for all this. Maybe too little at this stage, but a start is a start.

Smoothies first hit the US market in the 1960's with the advent of the health industry and vegetarianism. But the smoothies of that time differ from the smoothies of today in terms of the fact that the old days smoothies contained only Fruit Juice, fruits & ice. Today's versions have milk ice or frozen yogurt added to them.

Incase you want to dig in more into the history of the smoothie or how they have evolved over the years read this or my favorite wikipedia thread.

This also happens to be my entry to Mansi's WBB Balanced Breakfast event. it is the 20th edition of the WBB ( which stands for Weekend Breakfast Blogger's ), so I didn't want to miss out on it, plus I had given a commitment to Mansi that I would surely send in a contribution (Srivalli, yours is in the works) ...read more on WBB Balanced Breakfasts on Mansi's blog .


2 Cups Strawberries
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Tblsp Honey

1. Wash and cut strawberry tops .
2. Put all ingredients in a blender.
3. Blend & drink to your health. (Garnish with a sliced Strawberry)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Yeh Cheese(Cake) bada hai mast mast !!!

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So, rounding up my cook a meal for your wife day and getting into another one (the weekend has begun), I give you a relatively easy and tasty cheesecake. Cheesecakes occupy a significant place in my life and our household. Much before, my wife fell in love with me, she fell in love with the cheesecakes I made at Hotel Management Training facility. Even though she would hate to catch my sight and interact with me, she would queue up to get a bite of the cheesecake. Time flowed by, and I moved on to a different department in a different city, we met again,fell in love and tied the knot. The Cheesecakes stopped coming. The only cheesecakes we had post marriage were the ones we had every other weekend at the Cheesecake Factory at Beachwood, OH. Thus it was but natural for me to round up the meal with a cheesecake made by me after all these years.

Now cheesecake comes in a wide range of styles on the way it is made, taste and the type of cheeses it uses. For more information on the different styles and sub-styles read this wikipedia thread. It provides a real meaningful and academic insight. Taking a queue from one quote mentioned there, it is indeed a canvas to work on.

I typically made a cheesecake that used a short crust base and was set (with the aid of gelatin). This time however, I used a cracker (biscuit) crumb base and baked the cheesecake. For knowledge sakes, it was a cross between different styles namely, the Ann-Arbor and the New York style. The heart shape again was not by design. I could not get to find a springform pan in the city (I have really searched high ...donations are welcome :D), the heart shaped cookie cutter was the only one available. Needless to say, both mother and son, polished of the whole thing in minutes (and there were 8 batches that were made).


For the Base / Crust
3/4 cup cracker crumbs ( I use either Glucose biscuit or Marie crumbs)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

For the Cheesecake:
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt ( hung for 2 hours to drain water )
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cream cheese ( I used the amul version available...worked fine)
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Cup Strawberry Puree

For the Coulis
1 cup Strawberry puree, chunky
1/4 cup sugar
2 tblsp water

Method: For the Base:

1. Mix butter and biscuit crumbs and blend until crumbs are evenly moistened.
2. Press crumb mixture over bottom of prepared pan ( read springform, else use a big cookie cutter ..easy to remove as base is crumbly).
3. Bake crust until just golden, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside while preparing filling.

For the Cheesecake:

1. Combine yoghurt, sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. set aside.
2. In a large mixer or a bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
3. Slowly add the yoghurt mixture, eggs, and vanilla to the cream cheese mixture; beating on low speed until combined.

4. Add in the Strawberry puree slowly, so as not to curdle mixture.
5. Pour into prepared pan over the base.
6. Bake at 160°C for 45 mins, or until the center is nearly set.
7. Cool for 30 minutes, remove the sides of the pan, then cool completely. Chill for 4 to 6 hours.

For the Coulis:

1. Combine ingredients.
2. Put on a low flame. Simmer, reduce a little and remove. 10-15 minutes
3. Chill.

Before signing off ....Happy Holi !!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mint Potatoes

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This is something I had been thinking of doing for a long time...to cook baby potatoes in chopped mint. The only dilemma being whether I wanted to toss them in mint or have them marinated in mint and then spit roasted. In the end, I kept the spit roast option for a later time.
Thankfully, because this was meant to be an accompaniment to the Ravioli and I wanted something simple. Also, the green color of the dish fully complemented the red color of the ravioli perfectly.
A most important aspect of menu planning is not only to ensure you do not repeat your ingredients in the menu ( 2 potato dishes would have killed the menu), but also to ensure you do not repeat the colors too often.

Mint Potatoes Ingredients:

Baby Potatoes - 10-20
Mint, Chopped Finely, - 1/2 cup
Garlic, Minced - 3 tblsp
Shallots, Finely Chopped - 1/2 cup
Black Pepper, crushed - 2 tblsp
Salt - To Taste
Butter - 10 gm
Lemon Juice - 20 ml
Parsley - 1 1/2 tsp

1. Par boil baby potatoes. Peel and keep aside.
2. Melt butter in a pan. Add in the minced garlic & shallots.
3. Saute till shallots turn translucent.
4. Add in the baby potatoes. Toss well and cook till done.
5. Add in the mint, black pepper & salt. Mix well. Cook for additional 2 minutes.
6. Add in the lemon juice and toss well.
7. Sprinkle some parsley and take off flame.
8. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve hot.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Heart Shaped Cheese Mushroom Ravioli in Herbed Tomato Sauce

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There are weekends and then there are weekends. Of late, the day after I arrived from my Chennai trip, I was told that I would be moving to handle a new business for the organisation. Though it was something I had handled before in the company, the only difference this time being that it was not looking too good and almost everybody was looking at its numbers on a daily basis (read CEO's ). That day was the beginning of the end ...atleast for my spare time. Numerous crazy, 18 hour days followed, days turned into weeks and finally a month. With some sanity coming back to things, I decided to take an extended break...a luxurious 3 day off. I spent the time catching on some much sought sleep :), a lot of golf and quality time with the family. One of the main events of this quality time was the "cook a meal for your wife" day.
After a long time, I finally decided to don the chef cap and cook some exotic fare. It wasn't an elaborate meal, a just right trio of main course, the accompaniment and a 'to-die-for' dessert to round things off.
The menu for the evening was,
Heart Shaped Cheese Mushroom Ravioli in Herbed Tomato Sauce
Mint Potatoes
Strawberry Cheesecake with Strawberry Coulis
Could have tossed in some garlic bread but then that would have meant to sacrifice a round of golf :)

To start with Ravioli is a stuffed pasta whose name is derived from the verb ravvolgere (meaning 'to wrap').

Heart Shaped Cheese Mushroom Ravioli in Herbed Tomato Sauce


For the Pasta:
Refined Flour - 1 Cup
Egg - 1
Salt - a Pinch
Water - To knead into a dough

For the Filling:
Garlic, minced - 4-5 cloves
Onions,finely chopped - 2
Mushrooms, finely chopped - 5-6
Cheese - 10 gm
Olives - 5-6
Black Pepper- 2 tsp
Chilli Flakes - 2 tsp
Salt - To Taste
Olive Oil - 2 Tsp

For the Sauce:
Tomato, concasse - 5-6 No.s
Tomato Paste - 1/2 Cup
Onion, finely chopped - 1 Cup
Garlic, minced - 6 cloves
Basil - 1 Tblsp
Thyme - 1/4 Tsp
Oregano - 1 Tsp
Tarragon - 1/2 Tsp
Black Pepper - 1 Tblsp
Parmesan Cheese, grated - 1/2 cup
Salt - To Taste
Olive Oil - 2 Tblsp


Make the pasta dough:

1. Combine the ingredients.
2. Knead until a firm & smooth dough forms.
3. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.

Make the ravioli filling
1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. 2. Add Onions & garlic. Saute till onions turn translucent.
3. Add in the mushrooms and cook till they are done.
4. Add in the grated cheese, olives, chilli flakes, black pepper and salt.
5. Mix well and cook for another 2 minutes. The filling is ready

Make the sauce:
1. Heat Olive Oil in a non-stick skillet.
2. Add Onions, garlic, thyme, basil, tarragon & oregano.
3. Cook till onions turn tender. (5 minutes)
4. Add tomatoes & tomato paste. Bring to a boil.
5. Add in water, black pepper, salt & grated cheese. Simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes.

Make the ravioli
1. Roll the dough into thin sheets.
2. Arrange tablespoon-size dollops of the filling 1 1/2" apart on one of the sheets.
3. Brush a little egg white around each dollop, then place another sheet directly on top.
4. Gently press around the filling to remove any air pockets and seal the sheets.
5. Using a cutter or a knife, cut out ravioli squares or shapes that you want. ( I used a heart shaped cookie cutter)
6. Sprinkle with flour to prevent the dough from sticking.

Cooking the ravioli
1. Boil water with salt and a few drops of oil added to it.
2. Cook the ravioli in plenty of boiling salted water until they float to the top, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Take out and Drain well.
4. Toss with the tomato sauce.
5. Garnish sprinkled with some fresh parsley. Serve.

Note :
1. The tomato sauce is the basic way to make it. I ended up using the short cut by using Prego. You can do the same by using either Prego or Ragu.
2. Another thing that I tried out was using cream cheese in the filling.

Friday, March 14, 2008

God's Pharmacy - Interesting Read

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Came across this forward that was sent to me by my better half, and she in turn got it from my mom-in-law. Never saw the connection...like a lot of other nature's amazing ways that stare us in our faces but we never seem to notice them.

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and YES science now shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, Avocadoes and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? .... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm cells to overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Grapefruits, Oranges , and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells
They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.

All photos courtesy stock. xchng

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Taste from the Bengali Household - Aloo Poshto

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The very mention of Bengali cuisine brings to mind the rich desserts like sandesh, rossogulla and rajbhog or the simple and tasty fish dishes like machher jhol, yet it is the vegan fare that is as tasty and make for a good meal. Dishes like Aloo Potol, Shukto and cholar dal may not have found its way to many non-bengali households or fancy restaurant menus, but once they do, atleast in our households they gain prominence and become a repeat favorite.
Aloo Poshto is one such dish. Poshto, Short for Poshtodana which is the Bengali name for Poppy Seeds, literally translated means Potatoes with Poppy Seeds.

Aloo Poshto


Potatoes - 3 No.
Poppy Seeds - 2 Tblsp
Green Chillies - 2 No.
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Mustard Oil - 2 Tblsp
Whole Dry Red Chillies - 2
Water - 1/2 cup
Salt - To Taste

1. Roast the poppy seeds and alongwith green chillies and a few tablespoons of water, grind it to a smooth paste.
2. Dice the potatoes into cubes. ( 1.5" x 1.5"x1.5" )
3. Heat Oil in a pan.
4. Shallow Fry potatoes till light brown. Drain and keep aside.
5. In the same oil, add whole dry red chillies and turmeric powder. Fry briefly.
6. Add in the poppy seed paste and fry for 4-5 minutes or till oil starts leaving sides of the pan.
7. Add the lightly fried potatoes and mix well.
8. Add water and salt. Stir well.
9. Cook till potatoes are soft and the dish turns a little dry.
10. Serve Hot.

Note: This is also my post for Sandeepa's RCI - Bengal event.

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