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Mini Tomato-Basil Bread Puddings

9 Sep

Mini Tomato Basil Bread PuddingBread puddings are the epitome of warm, homey comfort food. We always remember all the delicious dessert bread puddings and often overlook that savory bread puddings are celebrated soul friendly brunch entrées or a dinner side dishes.

A few years ago I came across a remarkable Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding recipe created by Giada de Laurentiis. Over the years I have created several brunch versions of this and have enjoyed all of them. It’s a versatile recipe that can take on the addition of any favorite omelet ingredient – ham, mushrooms, green peppers etc. This version doesn’t deviate too far from the original recipe. I add in some Fontina cheese for extra creaminess and some hot sauce for an underlying kick. Creating individual portions in cupcake tins gives a little vigor to comfort classic. Individual Tomato Basil Bread Pudding

These mini tomato-basil bread puddings symbolize comfort food at its best – rustic, humble, inexpensive and heartwarming!  Continue reading

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pound Cake

26 Aug

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pound Cake

It’s really hard to accept that schools and colleges have reopened and Labor Day is exactly a week away. As always, summer months have just flown by. While summer produce and sometimes the weather lingers into late September, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. This weekend is the last official summer hoorah characterized by barbecues, picnics, beach time, road trips and several parties. In short it’s another long weekend to celebrate with some fantastic food. Sliced Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

To pay homage to my favorite season and all the wonderful memories of this summer I have developed this Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pound Cake recipe. The lemon and blueberries in this cake reflect the bright flavors and colors of summer while the ricotta adds a tang and richness to a simple pound cake. When you bite into this light and moist cake, you taste the brilliance of each ingredient and relish how well they all come together. While this recipe is a wonderful addition to any Labor Day picnic or barbecue you can impress your loved ones with this at any brunch or tea party! Continue reading

Grilled Avocado with Wasabi Ponzu

20 Aug

Grilled Avocado with Wasabi Ponzu

 “The greatest ideas are the simplest.” – William Golding

One of the most exciting aspects of trying new restaurants is stumbling upon an uncomplicated dish that blows your mind away. Every once in a while we encounter a dish that so simple and yet so gratifying. It’s astounding how a combination of a few simple ingredients unite to create a huge wow factor.

I had one of these moments when I ate a Grilled Avocado with housemade ponzu, fresh wasabi and nori salt at Daikaya Izakaya in DC.  A buttery avocado had been transformed into a grilled delight seasoned with earthy Asian flavors.  One taste and I knew a grilled avocado just can’t get better that this.

My recipe variation attempts to further simplify the dish.  I use widely available, store bought wasabi paste and ponzu. I add some green onions for brightness and substitute sea salt for nori salt. This unique recipe idea attests to the fact that the greatest ideas are the simplest. So for when you do try this – bon appétit or rather as the Japanese would say “itadakimasu”.  Continue reading

Tilapia Tacos with Avocado, Mango & Arugula

13 Aug

Tilapia Tacos with Mango and Avocado

Loving to cook and spending hours by a stove-top on a hot summer night do not necessarily go hand in hand.  While I like to limit my time in the kitchen on a really hot night, it never comes at the cost of a wholesome and appetizing meal.  The abundance of fresh seafood and superb summer produce are the perfect inspiration and ingredients for light, uncomplicated and exceptionally flavorful meals.

I recently came across Giada De Laurentiis’s Tilapia Fish Tacos with Arugula recipe and instantly feel in love with it. Giada’s recipe is an uncomplicated appetizer served up in wonton cups with a wasabi scented crème fraîche topping. I adapted her recipe to create a nifty summer night dinner that despite being economical and accessible is sophisticated and wholesome. Flakey Tilapia is flanked with sweet mango, creamy avocado, peppery arugula and a gently spicy Sirarcha kissed sour-cream topping.  Each of these delicious parts come together to create a nutritious taco that’s ideal for a hot summer night.  Continue reading

Grilled Peaches with Burrata & Honey

8 Aug

Grilled Peaches with Burrata and Honey

August is National Peach month and hence it’s only appropriate to pay homage with at least one peach recipe. And why shouldn’t I? Peaches really are a universally loved fruit and just happen to be my favorite stone fruit. There is nothing quite like biting into a sweet, juicy and fleshy peach in the heart of summer. While peaches taste great in their natural form, grilling them turns them into something quite magnificent. It takes a peach from being just a fruit to a versatile ingredient that can be used in an appetizer, a salad, a main course, a side dish and most certainly a dessert.

Last summer I tasted a really scrumptious appetizer of Grilled Peaches with Burrata and Honey at Acqua Al 2 in DC. It was a flavor and Grilled Peach Crostinitexture explosion of warm, sweet grilled peaches complemented by rich, creamy and savory Burrata cheese on a bed of crusty bread, finished with a drizzle of honey.  It was so simple and yet so spectacular. Regardless to say this is now a summer favorite in my kitchen. The recipe below is my rendition of AcquA Al 2’s masterpiece.  It’s an intimate appetizer for date night and yet elegant enough to impress the most discerning foodies. Continue reading

Bacon & Chive Yogurt Dip

1 Aug

Bacon and Chive Yogurt DipI recently ate a scrumptious but rather unhealthy Roasted Garlic and Bacon Dip. The base of this dip was mayonnaise and hence the fat content was off the charts. My father recommended that I test making something similar with hung yogurt.

Yogurt dips are a wonderful light and figure-friendly appetizer for the warmer summer months. Since yogurt is so versatile there’s a multitude of yogurt dip recipes available. Despite yogurt being the common denominator you can always find a way to switch things up by playing around with the additional flavor elements.

This recipe eliminates the mayonnaise to reduce an overabundance of fat. I also use a lower fat cut of bacon. The bacon specks running Bacon & Chive Dipthroughout the dip provide a fantastic smokiness and textural crunch. The chives add an aromatic and visual brightness that’s imperative in any brilliant summer appetizer. I use just a hint of roasted garlic to let the main stars of this yogurt dip – the bacon and the chives shine bright.  Continue reading

Kerala Chicken Curry

30 Jul

Kerala Chicken CurryI recently discovered ‘god’s own secret’ in ‘god’s own country’*……..

No it wasn’t a religious pilgrimage; it was a weekend retreat in an enigmatic paradise- Vivanta by Taj – Bekal, Kerala . It’s a parallel universe of natural and man-made beauty where extensive natural foliage unites with beautifully manicured lawns and the alluring backwaters rally around lotus filled ponds. It’s an escape from reality with a chance to rejuvenate and stimulate all your senses.

Photo Credit: Hotel Website

Photo Credit: Hotel Website

If you think the landscape and the world class spa are the only draw to reinvigorate you here, wait till your taste buds are tantalized in the dining room. As expected at a Taj hotel the chefs are experts in global cuisine but since we were in Kerala my prime focus was traditional costal cuisine. Their fluffy appams (pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk), coconut kissed piquant vegetable and meat curries, and fresh seafood further reinforced my love affair with food from the Malabar Coast.

Serving Suggestion

Serving Suggestion

This chicken curry recipe is a slightly adapted version of a Nadan Kozhi Curry (Local Chicken Curry) that I learnt from Chef Dhandapani on this trip. It embodies what I love about Indian coastal curries – several layers of spices that come together harmoniously with a touch of coconut milk. Consider this aromatic and flavorful chicken curry an ode to a wonderful weekend at The Vivanta by Taj, Bekal and a sneak preview to your potential trip to discover “god’s own secret” in “god’s own country”. Continue reading

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