Thursday, March 31, 2011

Budding blogger : Reshmi

Meet Reshmi of Rasoi in the Budding blogger series..

She says --

Everyone has a personal reason for cooking and special people to cook for. For me, cooking is all about entertaining & that means enjoying delicious food with family and friends. And all that starts in "Rasoi".

I'm Reshmi, a student from Los Angeles, USA. I was born & raised in Bhilai, Central India. I have been to different parts of India, stretching from North to all the way to the southernmost tip. This gives me all kinds of reasonable authority on food. I'm not much into eating. Rather it is simply awesome to see people enjoy the food I have prepared & then to see a perfect look of satisfaction on their faces. That's it!!

My interest in cooking started when I got married. I've spent the last two years in cooking and blogging about cooking as well. I love to cook every day something new for my better half.

On my husband's suggestion I got around to creating a blog that focuses on food, recipes and healthy diets. And to share my taste, research, experiments & findings, Rasoi was born. I love sharing all that I have learned. The sources of my recipes are - my mother, Internet, Magazine, TV shows, Cookbooks, friends and ofcourse, my own experiments.

All I want to say is "Cooking is a wonderful life"!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bees on Nob Hill & Honey at Macy's Union Square

Chef jW Foster at the bees of Nob Hill

What's the buzz on Nob Hill? It's probably honey bees! Restaurants and hotels with kitchen gardens are nothing new, but a hotel with beehives is something quite out of the ordinary, especially in the middle of a city like San Francisco. Executive Chef jW Foster at the San Francisco Fairmont arrived a year ago from Dallas, where he established a 3,000 square foot herb and vegetable garden. His desire to save the bee colonies and promote awareness about colony collapse and the importance of bees inspired him to collaborate with Marshall's Farm to bring bee hives to the rarefied air of Nob Hill, in particular the roof garden.

The rooftop beehives yield about 60 pounds of honey, harvested 2-3 times a year and is used in the hotel restaurant. He says the lavender honey has a particularly pungent flavor as does the eucalyptus batch. The health benefits are part of the appeal of using honey, and it fits in to the Fairmont's "Lifestyle cuisine. " Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine is centered around health and wellness without sacrificing flavor, think of it as the next generation of spa cuisine. The hotel restaurant uses honey in ice creams, vinaigrettes, desserts, in the afternoon tea service, and in marinades.

Chef Foster also makes gravlax with pacific cod, using honey instead of sugar. He'll be demonstrating how to make this dish at Macy's during the Macy's Flower Show on April 9th at 1 pm (tickets to the cooking class with the chef and beekeeper Helene Marshall are $10). Gravlax is a raw, cured dish and the chef shared some tips with me about cooking with honey including not using too high heat which changes the flavor. He suggested "letting it shine" and using it as primary flavor, emphasizing it when cooking. Another tip? Use it as a finishing touch, the way you might use olive oil as a drizzle on fruit, ricotta or prosciutto. Supporting the bees is also a teaching tool at the hotel, where the chef offers tours of the roof garden and a view of the bees at work to culinary students and to guests. While Macy's may not invite bees into the store, flowers and honey are more than welcome.

Broken corn idli



Ingredients

1 cup blackgram dal (urad dal)
2 cups broken corn kernels (cornmeal)
Salt to taste

Soak the dal for 1/2 hour. Soak the broken corn kernels in warm water for an hour. Grind the dal till smooth paste and then add corn kernels. Grind again for a few minutes. Add salt as required. Ferment the batter for 4-5 hours.

Grease the idli plates with a bit of oil and pour a ladle full of batter into the plates. Steam the idlis in the cooker. After a few minutes, pierce the back of a small spoon to check if it comes out clean...else steam cook for a few more minutes.

Serve hot with spicy sidedish.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Super blogger sunday: Padhu from Padhu's kitchen

Meet Padhu of Padhu's kitchen this week's edition of Sunday super blogger series. She has a collection of more than 200 recipes in about a year and half of blogging. The pictures and garnishings on her recipes are eye catching. Read more to know about her while she shares some interesting and useful tips about garnishing which makes food a visual treat.

EC: Tell us something about yourself and your hobbies

Padhu : An optimistic and a creative person, mother of 2 adorable children and a person with diverse interests willing to explore ideas and learn something new. My inquisitive mind has made me venture into various fields like waste management, art & crafts, organic gardening, Beauty, cooking, Yoga, web designing etc. I started my first website on Health and Beauty Tips  in early 2007 which focuses on Natural Health & Beauty Care.

I have also conducted hobby classes and art camps for women and children and my most unforgettable experience was conducting craft camp for the special children.

With respect to managing job and family, my family has always been my priority. Being a self employed woman, I am able to adjust the timings to suit my needs. Mostly I work after my kids leave and make it a point to be with them when they are back.

My food blog was started in August 2009. I make it a point to post once or sometimes twice a week. I do not cook specially for the blog but only post recipes of what I cook for my family. But I do bake specially for the blog.

EC: Who and what inspired you to start food blogging?

Padhu : My children used to appreciate and love my cooking very much. In order to make them happy, I started cooking variety of dishes for them. They loved it very much. I wanted to maintain an online diary of those recipes tried and tested in my kitchen, so that they could refer later, when they settle down elsewhere. Thus Padhuskitchen was born. What started as a hobby has become a passion now.


EC: What changes has blogging brought in your life ?

Padhu : Although I have attended baking classes before marriage, being a fitness freak I have never shown much interest in it. But now after seeing all the blogs with so many cakes and muffins, I am tempted to bake now. I have learnt many things about international cuisine and baking. It is nice to keep in touch with people of same interest.

EC: The pictures on your blog are so beautiful. Give us some tips for good photography

Padhu : Thank you very much for your compliments. At present I am using a Sony DSC –T20/T25. When it comes to food photography, I am just a beginner. I make it a point to click pictures during day time in natural light and never use flash.

For me more than food photography, I love food art, fruit and vegetable carvings and food presentation. I feel presentation of food is as important as taste and smell. I will share with you a few tips on garnishing from my experience.

First of all you don’t have to be a chef or an expert in the field to make garnishes, anyone can do it.

1. Make sure your garnish matches with your dish. Use only the ingredients you have used in the dish for garnishing. For e.g. you can garnish carrot rice with 2-3 simple carrot flowers.

2. Make it as simple as possible. Do not over do it or clutter the plate with decorations. A simple tomato rose garnish for a raitha or salad makes it look appealing.

3. Make the plate look colorful - Mix and match colors

A colorful plate looks pleasing and inviting to the eyes. For salads, you can mix carrot (orange), tomatoes (red) and green bell peppers to make it look attractive. Just sprinkling coriander leaves over tomato rice makes it look colorful.

4. Fruit salads can be kept in a melon basket or a pineapple boat at the centre of the table.

5. As far as possible use edible garnishes.

6. Use white plate for colorful dishes and a colored plate for light colored dishes.

7. You can cut vegetables and fruits into different shapes using cookie cutter and serve to make it more attractive.

With little imagination anyone can make the food look presentable and attractive.

EC: Tell us about your "How to" series. What are your recipe sources and plans for your blog for the year? 
Padhu : “How to” series was mainly meant for a novice who has never tried cooking before. I also have plans to share very simple and basic recipes.

Most of the recipes in my blog are passed on to me by my mother and aunty. Some of them are from friends, neighbours, TV shows and magazines. I love traditional food very much and I feel it is losing its importance now a days. So I want to bring back traditional recipes, festival recipes and also have plans to post quick and healthy Indian recipes which can be prepared in a jiffy during the morning hectic hours.

EC: Can you give some tips for new bloggers to make their blogs popular?

Padhu : Have your own style, stay focused and most important is you must have passion and interest and of course persistence is also required.

EC: Your favourite vegetarian recipe

Padhu : Love all the recipes posted in my blog. Since I have to choose only one recipe, I am going for Tomato soup

Thank you so much EC for giving me this opportunity. I feel honored. I was featured as a budding blogger in your site 1 1/2 years back, now I feel so elated on being featured as a Super Blogger in the very same site.




Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ideas To Make Your Mother's Day Extra-Special

mother's day ideas
Mother’s Day is a day for honoring and remembering Mom. Each year one day is set aside as a time to say thanks for all the great things Mom did in raising, loving, and even disciplining in order to instill values, morals, and love into the lives of children.

Mothering Sunday has become a tradition of cards and Mothers Day gifts. But shopping for a gift for a woman who has just about everything she may want or need is generally a chore. Of course, Moms say not to bother with a gift; just the presence of the children is gift enough. But, getting a gift is something children like to do as an expression of love and appreciation.

So, what is probably the best Mothers Day present? Chocolate, of course. There are not too many Moms who would not love to get a nice box of chocolates on her special day.

The nice thing about giving chocolates on Mother’s Day is that they come in such a wide variety. Getting one box with different kinds of chocolate is like giving a mystery. Some Moms like to pinch the bottom to try to determine what is in the center of the chocolates, and some like to take a bite and be surprised. Either way, chocolates are a fun gift.

Chocolate Gifts
The great thing about giving chocolates on Mothering Sunday is that they fit everyone’s budget. Whether spending a lot for designer chocolate, or giving a modest gift, there is something appropriate for Mom. If the budget is tight, try giving Mom an Easter bunny with her name written on it. It can be either a solid chocolate bunny or a hollow one, again depending on the budget.

Chocolate Easter eggs filled with coconut or crème, depending on Mom’s favorite, is a good gift. Some Easter eggs are decorated with pretty icing and a message can be written on them.

Get really fancy and give a chocolate flower and fruit basket. Then Mom can have her choice in eating healthy one moment and indulging the next.

Other Ways to Make This Day Special
There are several other ways to make this day special for your Mom. If you don't believe in giving gifts or lunches, take her out for her favorite activity, it could be a picnic, a play or movie, or even something as adventurous as Skydiving.

If she is the homely type who'd rather spend time with her family, then make yourself available for her. Cook for her, rent a movie and spend time with her, or arrange a tea party for her with her friends. Remember, if you know your mom well, you can surely come up with a plan that will make her feel special.

And last, but not the least, do not end your endeavors once Mother's day is gone, continue to keep her happy and make every day special for her, because a Mom is, after all, your best gift in the world!

Budding blogger: Uma

Meet Uma of Uma's Kitchen in the Budding blogger series this week

She says --

I am a home maker from chennai. I was intersted in cooking from childhood. Recently when i was browsing the net and looking for recipes I got interested in writing a blog myself. I thought it would be very useful for my daughters and others as well.

The recipes in my blog are all the ones that I have tried out at my home. Most of my recipes are the ones that I have learnt from my mother, mother in law and some of them from friends and other blogs. The recipes are all simple Indian vegetarian food.

I am trying to post lot of traditional recipes that we cook in our home as part of our day to day cooking. Of course I will be posting a lot of sweets and savories in the course of time cooked during each festival which would help lot of people who are away from home.

I am also trying out various recipes from other blogs and of course trying out recipes from across the world like Italian pasta,pizza,Chinese noodles and cooking it to our Indian taste.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best Summer Workouts Outside of the Gym!

summer-workouts-weight-loss
More often than not, I wish I could lose weight without having to go to the gym, and though there's no magical way to do it, there are several activities that can easily act as effective summer workouts, and as you are mostly having fun while doing these, you don't even realize that its a workout! Whether you need to stretch those tired muscles, increase flexibility, or burn calories and seriously lose some weight, there are tonnes of summer workouts to choose from. And with the added benefit of doing these in fresh air, enjoying the summer heat, the trees and the mountains, and the sheer joy of being one with nature, you are more likely to attain better results than burning calories running on your treadmill at the gym!

Jogging/Running
Jogging is an excellent exercise for losing weight, because it consumes calories at a rapid rate. Combined with eating less, this guarantees an efficient weight loss. Plus, there's no special skill required; just get into your running shoes and choose a nice jogging-path along a trail or in a park and you won't even fell like you are exercising! Listening to an iPod would work too, but I find it better to observe birds and trees as I run, especially during my lapse around the lake. Running improves co-ordination between your muscles, and makes your leg-muscles wotk well. It also helps increase hear-rate, exercising the heart and the lungs at the same time. Those who run regularly are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss as they age, and it also helps lower your blood-pressure, as well as maintain elasticity of your arteries. But if you have aches and joint-pains, like knee-problems or weak ankles, make sure to consult a doctor before you start running, so as to prevent injuries. Also, invest in comfortable running shoes, and make sure to choose a proper running track and avoid bumpy, un-even ground to prevent physical damage.

Biking/Cycling
Cycling (img credit) is a great fun summer activity that is especially enjoyable when done with kids. Biking is one of the most effective exercises to shed off those extra calories and exercise your legs, abs, thighs and butt. Even a small amount of cycling would be good enough to boost your metabolism level, thereby helping your weight loss program. It helps to improve the overall balance and coordination, minimizes the risk of coronary heart disease and helps in preventing health problems like strokes, diabetes and cancer. It also keeps your blood pressure under control, as well as build stamina and endurance. If you choose a bike path with elevation, you can be sure to burn some serious calories, and have muscular, well-toned legs! but in the least, its a great way to exercise without a lot of stress, especially if you choose to keep it light.

Rowing/Kayaking
Rowing is a great aerobic exercise for total body workout, as it involves use of many muscles of the arms, legs, abdomen, and torso. Also, it has minimal stress effects on back and body, as opposed to running or cycling. Those who love water sports should definitely try to go rowing or kayaking in a nice lake or a bay. Of course, the more adventurous people seeking a real workout can go into the sea and try rowing against the waves, which will burn a large number of calories in a short amount of time. While Rowing, lean back from your hips while pushing back with your legs and torso. Bend your arms as you pull on the oars until your elbows pass behind your chest and the handles are an inch from your stomach, keeping your back straight the entire time. Kayaking is one of my favorite activities, especially during summer, as most of the camp-sites have lakes or inland bays that offer a great view and a great workout!


Hiking/Trekking
Taking short and scenic hikes in summer may be the best way to enjoy nature and increase fitness at the same time. Research has shown that Hiking or Trekking can stem heart disease, decrease hypertension by dilating blood vessels, decrease cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (the good cholesterol), decrease weight by burning calories, and prevent ageing of the immune system. Hiking also alleviates osteoporosis by improving bone density; If that's not enough reasons to hike, walking at a comfortable pace while taking in fresh air improves and maintains mental health by producing calming brain chemicals called endorphins, which basically act as mild tranquilizers. but more than that, you'll achieve a sense of satisfaction when you hike up to a mountain peak and look down below to see how much you came up, that is, after you've explored the breath-taking views from a mountain-top!

Outdoor Sports
Tennis and Volleyball are the two perfect outdoor sports for summer. Playing Tennis for an hour thrice a week can do wonders to your body, both physically and mentally. It builds flexibility, muscle co-ordination, agility, stamina and acts as a great aerobic and anaerobic activity. Studies have shown that competitive tennis burns more calories than aerobics, inline skating, jogging or cycling. Volleyball works great too, and is definitely more fun; even if you may not burn as many calories as with Tennis, its easier to hook up a net on the beach of in a shaded park and get some physical exercise alongwith loads of fun. Golf is another sports which can act as a nice workout, provided you don't use a golf cart throughout your 18 holes! It also makes the mind more alert and improves eye-sight and judgement.

Swimming/Water Aerobics
Swimming uses almost all of your major muscle groups, and it places a vigorous demand on your heart and lungs. The major advantage of swimming is that its an overall body exercise, and it boosts your metabolism. When your metabolic rate goes up, you burn more calories. And more calories burned means faster weight loss. Swimming is not as effective for weight-loss as running or cycling, because when you are in the pool you don't heat up and sweat as much as you do on land, and your body does not have to work hard to cool you down as much once the exercise session concludes. Also, you feel more hungry after a swim-session than after a gym-session, so you might tend to eat more. So the post-workout effect of swimming is lesser than that of other activities. neverthless, Swimming helps builds endurance, muscle strength and cardio-vascular fitness, without being harsh on your joints; lots of people have found swimming to be a form of meditation too when you just let your body relax and swim with a very low effort.

Its imperative to be conscious about keeping yourself fit, and though nothing can replace a complete workout at the gym, summer is a time when you can choose certain activities that other seasons do not offer, so make the best use of it! Choose physical activities that you enjoy and that are readily accessible. Remember, any kind of exercise gives maximum results when you enjoy doing it. Choosing to spend a few days outside rather than in your gym can be good for your mind, body and spirit, and you'll feel more refreshed and energised. I've done this myself, so I can vouch for it; now its your turn to try and see for yourself!

So whether you yearn to lose weight or just be fit, try the above summer workouts to augment your fitness routine at the gym, and experience the difference!

Related Articles:
What to Eat Before & After a Workout
How to Count Calories for Healthy Weight-Loss
10 Tips to Eat Right & Stay Fit

Rainbow Cake ~ Shay Aaron


For more minis by Shay Aaron, please visit:
Flickr: flickr.com/photos/shay-aaron

Cheesy carrot onion toast


Ingredients

Bread slices
1 cup grated carrot
2 small onions chopped finely
Finely cut coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Chaat masala
Grated cheese as required
Butter

Apply butter to the bread slices. Spread the grated carrot, onions and coriander on the bread slice. Sprinkle salt and chaat masala as required.

Spread a layer of grated cheese over it.



Cover it with another slice of bread and toast till golden brown. Serve hot with sauce.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super blogger sunday : Sharmilee of Sharmis passion

Meet Sharmilee of Sharmis passion this week in the Super blogger series. She has a collection of more than 180 recipes posted over a period of 2 years. The pictures on her blog are very beautiful and would tempt any reader to grab some of the delicacy from the screen itself. Apart from telling us about herself and her blog, Sharmilee also shares some interesting and useful tips about baking and food photography..

EC: Tell us something about yourself

Sharmilee: I am Sharmilee, mother of a 1.5 yr old daughter living in Coimbatore with my family. I started Sharmis Passions 2 yrs back as a platform for the passion for clicking and cooking. But to be frank when I started this blog I cooked to click but now am interested in both clicking and cooking :)

Attimes it is tough to allot time for clicking with the 1.5 yr old hyperactive kiddo but still with my family's support and my passion for food photography it gets going. I struggle to take things at the last minute....So I usually preplan things and have atleast 10-15 posts in drafts. So its easy to post in different categories and I try to post atleast twice a week.

The main reason for me to start a food blog was the passion towards food photography and secondly I can say I wanted to have a record of all the traditional and new recipes with proper measurements. The first thing I do in the morning is check my dashboard and it brings a wide smile on my face when there are comments waiting for me to be moderated.


EC: Who and what inspired you to start food blogging ?? Which food blogs inspire you ?

Sharmilee: Once when I was searching for a recipe and that was the first introduction to food blogs to me. When I was in my 2nd trimester I wanted some distraction apart from my job so chose to create a food blog as I was keen in feeding healthy and tasty food for my family.


EC: The pictures on your blog are so beautiful..Tell us something about your food photography lessons and some tips for our readers

Sharmilee : Thanks for your words!! I browse through http://www.digital-photography-school.com and get tips from there. I really feel very happy when people appreciate my photographs because I spend so much time in clicking(sometimes the clicking time is more than the cooking time :))

I've just bought my DSLR and still in the learning stage but with what I have learnt I can give u few tips:

1. Never use flash especially when food photography is considered.

2.I believe in taking a decent picture than spending more time in editing. Attimes when my picture isnt

satisfactory I try to make the dish another time for clicking sake because first I should like my pic before presenting it to others.

3.Always keep the food near by a window where the light is neither harsh or dull. Take the food in different angles and take more pictures and choose the best.


EC: You have baked so many goodies..some tips on baking and which recipe of yours would you suggest for a first time baker

Sharmilee: I am still a beginner in baking. Will you believe I bought an oven only after Sharmis Passions was born and yes I bought it specially for my blogs sake and of course now my family enjoys my baked goodies too. I would suggest Simple Moist chocolate cake without eggs as this is the top popular posts in my blog and also many of my readers and friends have tried this and have given me good feedback.

With what I've learnt so far :

Measurements are very important in baking, eyeballing wouldn't do any good in baking at least when you are beginning

Always start with small measurements as I still follow that. And try to stick to the orginal recipe for few trials then experiment on them.

EC: Do you think blogging has widened your perspective and exposure?

Sharmilee : Of course yes I love my identity as Sharmilee from Sharmis Passions and I thoroughly enjoy blogging, cooking and clicking for that sake. I would say that it has made the lazy me cook and try out new recipes as well. And has earned me so many blogger friends worldwide and now few of them are close too.


EC: Your favourite vegetarian recipe

Sharmilee: Choosing one among all my creations is a pretty tough job so here is the recipe index : :)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day ~ Paris Miniatures


St. Patrick's Day ~ Kathy Obrenski


For more minis by Kathy Obrenski, visit:
Flickr: flickr.com/photos/weelittlewest
Blog: weelittlewest.blogspot.com
Website: weelittlewest.com
Etsy: etsy.com/shop/Weelittlewest

Budding blogger: Raksha Kamat

Meet Raksha of Raksha's Kitchen in the Budding blogger series..

She says - 

I am a software professional with a full time job and a mother to a 2 yr old daughter. I believe that we should make time for ourself and our hobbies. I am born and brought up in a joint family of a cool place named Goa. A typical joint family comprising 25 people.

I never cooked food of any type before my marraige as my mom and aunts never allowed me and my cousins to enter the kitchen. A few days before my marraige I learnt a little bit of cooking and I noted down a few things. My mom was very worried as what will I cook and what will I feed my hubby.

Soon after marraige I got settled in the Silicon Valley of India - Bangalore. My hubby being a complete foodie always encouraged me to cook. Initially he helped me cook. At that time he knew cooking much much better than me. Gradually, I develped interest in cooking. I started reading lots of cook books and viewing Khana Khazana and other cooking shows on TV.

I used to experiment all that I learnt on my hubby and he never critised me. He used to become happy and his happiness encouraged me to cook better. It has been 5 years since I am married and I am proud that I learnt a lot of things and have become a very good cook. I started my food blog which is hardly 1 month old.

This new world of blogging has encouraged me to try out new recipies and to exhibit my talent. I also get to learn a lot of things from fellow bloggers. Cooking has become a passion for me since the day I started blogging.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Masala peas wheat wraps


Ingredients

For covering -
2 cups wheat flour
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
3 tbsp milk

For stuffing -
1 tbsp gram flour.

Beat the oil and milk well. Add salt to the dough and then the mixture of oil and milk. Add water as required to make a soft dough. Keep covered for atleast hour an hour. Divide into small balls and make rotis of medium thickness and cook on hot tava till brown spots appear.

Make a paste of gram flour and water and add it to the peas masala. Heat it to get really thick. Place a little mixture in the center of the roti and roll slowly and tightly. Make a thick paste of wheat flour and water and apply in the corners so that the stuffing does not come out. Heat the roll on the tava for a minute and serve hot.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Super blogger sunday : Nivedita of Nivedita's kitchen

Meet Nivedita of Nivedita's kitchen blog in the Super blogger sunday series..She has a collection of more than 300 recipes in two years of blogging and is still going strong. She is good at so many varied activities and popular in the social networking site too. Read more about her..

EC: Tell us something about yourself

Nivedita: HI all, Its difficult to talk about myself :-) but feel happy to do so. Let me introduce my life in short to you all. Don't get irritated with so many I's

Being a Civil Engineer, instead of construction and estimation, I am always happy in creating new dishes and using the measurement spoons for it. :-) I love to bake a cake or make a dosa for my family rather than construction. My first love is reading and I read while I cook too. And the second and again first love is Cooking. Entered the kitchen at the age of 7, still love to try new things. I love to dance(finished 2 dance exams), I was a state level basketball player, I love jogging, yoga and new interest : Karate

I have tried writing down my feelings in my another blog, which introduces me as a writer or poet. Still trying to improve in it. Love to be a fish in the water(Swimming is another activity I love). I love to do painting, I love music, I love everything. My only problem is " I get adjusted under any circumstances, with any thing or any where ". I love Maths, yes, I love to play with numbers. (done Vedic Maths course)

Computer is my another baby which I always love to play with and experiment with (done many courses including hardware, I can repair the computer also) now, I Love Blogging :-) My blog is officially started in 2007 but my first post published was in 2009 March :-) I was too scared or lazy or was not sure about my getting success here. I have tried and shared many recipes in my blog Nivedita's Kitchen and tried to share my feelings in another blog Me and my thoughts!!


EC: Who and what inspired you to start food blogging ?

Nivedita: During childhood, cooking was my necessity. Now, there are many people who really inspire me to try cooking new food. My daughter, my blogging friends, great chefs from all over the world are few among them.


EC: How do you think blogging has changed your life ?

Nivedita: Yes!! Blogging has really changed my life to the maximum. I have entered the totally new world where I have got wonderful friends. I have become more confident about new cooking, I have taken risks to learn very new things. Blogging has helped me to improve my writing skill. It has given me a wonderful social network. I feel proud to say "I own a blog where I have more than 300 recipes which have been tried and tasted by me."

EC: Your views on plagiarism and how can we fight it ?

Nivedita: I hate the word "Plagiarism".  People who do this are useless. I really get irritated and very angry with those. The original work has to be appreciated and should get the credit. I am not sure about stopping it, But we all together can fight against it by spreading the awareness about Plagiarism in our blogs by blocking that person from entering into any contest and if possible by complaining about that person.


EC: How do you manage balancing your job, family and blogging ?

Nivedita: Being a working mother of two kids, and presently a single parent (my hubby stays abroad), managing everything from groceries to vehicle servicing, is not an easy task. But, I believe in my own quote "when you are dedicated, you always have time"

EC: You have tried so many variety cuisines...which is the easiest and tasty..also which is your favourite ?

Nivedita: Very very tough question. I love everything that is eatable or edible. I really can not decide my favorite, easiest and tasty food. Most of my posts in my blog starts with a sentence "I love this one :-) "

However, I would like to tell about one recipe which is really very easy and very tasty. Its Chapati Poha, which is prepared using left over chapatis. Its yummy, healthy and very tasty food.

EC: Your favourite vegetarian recipe

Nivedita : Again the tough question. Here I don't want to cheat my self. I love to eat anything, my favorite is raw food, believe me, I can stay only salads for many days.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweet and Sour Potatoes with Mango

mango-curry
One of the most interesting and challenging part of cooking is experimenting with flavors and spices, just like the blend of flavors in this Vietnamese-style recipe for Sweet and Sour Potatoes with Mangoes! It was an effort to replicate what we enjoyed at our local Tofu House restaurant. The blend of spices with soy sauce, thai chillies, red pepper, semi-ripe mango and rice vinegar resulted into a winning sauce base for the baby potatoes to be simmered in. The addition of Mango in a curry isn't an idea many would relate to, but try this, and I promise you will love it!

Ingredients
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar (you can add more if you like the taste)
1/4 cup tomato puree
1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water (more to make the gravy)
1 tspn garlic powder
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (the red one)
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)

The ingredients above yield about 2 cups of thick sweet and sour sauce

7-8 baby potatoes
1 small medium-rip mango(more green than yellow)
chopped scallions - for garnish

Method

Sweet and Sour Sauce
Mix all ingredients for the sauce (except cornstarch and water) together and bring to a boil in a small pot. Mix together the cornstarch and water, add to the other ingredients and stir to thicken. You can add more vinegar or water till you achieve your desired consistency.

Boil the baby potatoes and dice them into 2 (or you can leave them whole). Prick them with a toothpick so they can be better flavored with the sauce. Chop the mangoes into thin slices and keep aside.

Now take a pan, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil, then saute the potatoes in it for some time. Then add the sweet and sour sauce, half of the mangoes and grated ginger, then cover with a lid and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes. Keep stirring in between.

Once cooked, check for flavor and consistency of the sauce; add water or seasonings if required. Chop some scallions for garnish.

Serve the Baby Potatoes cooked in Sweet and Sour Sauce with Steamed rice. Garnish with remaining chopped mangoes and green onions.

More Baked Goods ~ Stephanie Kilgast


For more minis by Stéphanie Kilgast, visit:
Etsy: petitplat.etsy.com
Flickr: flickr.com/photos/_sk
Website: www.petitplat.fr
Blog: petitplatbysk.blogspot.com

Budding blogger : Shreya

Meet Shreya of Watermelon Wedges in the Budding blogger series this week..She says

I am a twenty year old who comes from a family which loves food. I have always loved food. I started cooking when my mother started working and to make dishes she wouldn't usually make. I baked my first cake at fifteen, and it was a success. Cooking calms me down. I like the concentration that goes into cutting vegetables, weighing and measuring ingredients. It makes calms me down. During exams I barge out of my room, go to the kitchen and whip up something to eat. It was during times like these I tried my hand at baking a casserole, making an egg stir fry and pasta.

My love for cooking and baking coincided with my start of a college education. Studying in Mumbai I now had a chance to eat more different kinds of food, and it has helped develop my palate. I notice ingredients now, which I never did before.

I got the idea of starting a food blog when a lot my friends started asking me for recipes. I believe it will help me share what I am learning about food. I am a fearless eater and cook. And am learning constantly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Betelnut "Offal Good" Secret Menu

I haven't said much about my new role as editor at BlackboardEats, but I'm breaking my silence today. I really enjoy assigning reviews, sharing deals at top restaurants and working with chefs and restaurateurs to create exclusive culinary experiences. Most weeks subscribers get 30% off at a noteworthy restaurant, but today something a bit different is on offer that I'm excited to tell you about. Chef Alex Ong at Betelnut has put together a menu utilizing offal, in particular veal sweetbreads, chicken livers, lamb tongue and fish heads. Chef Alex Ong grew up in Malaysia, a country of many culinary influences including Thai, Chinese and Indian and his dishes reflect those flavors. Three of the dishes are based on Malaysian street food dishes and one is a very special curry served for celebrations.

veal sweetbreads
One of the Chinese style dishes is salt and pepper veal sweetbreads topped with fresh ginger, garlic and Szechuan peppercorn topped with scallions, five spice, and salt. This dish reminds me most of crispy calamari. The sweetbreads are mild and the vibrant Asian flavors make the dish irresistible.

lamb tongue
A dish with Northern Malaysian and Thai influence is the cured lamb tongue served cold with lime, galanga and crispy taro strips. This almost looks like a sashimi plate! It's very elegant and light.

chicken livers
Another Chinese influenced dish is the crispy chicken livers that come with black pepper sauce and roasted onions. The chef soaks the livers in milk three times then dredges them in cornstarch and deep fries them. The exterior becomes crunchy but the interior remains soft and creamy. You'll want a beer to go with this. Like anything that is fried and crispy, these are addictive.

fish head curry
Nonya cuisine is unique a combination of Chinese and Malay styles. In the South in Singapore you'll find more Indonesian and Indian influences. I've read that fish head curry might have been created in the 1950s by a Keralan chef who wanted to use every edible part of the fish. It is cooked in an Indian style curry of coconut milk, tamarind and shrimp paste. It's a dish served at home for celebrations like birthdays or anniversaries. The cheek and collar meat are most succulent but the curry has okra and cauliflower in it too. It's pure comfort food, whether or not you ate in Singapore.

Betelnut Restaurant
Betelnut is consistently chosen as one of the Top 100 Restaurants by the San Francisco Chronicle. The restaurant is lively and has wonderful atmosphere, with vintage 1920's Shanghai style. While people typically come in for what the chef calls "the happy meal" meaning Cecilia's minced chicken in lettuce cup and Szechuan string beans, I hope they will come to try some of his Malaysian menu specials, available for the next two months for BlackboardEats subscribers only.

If you'd like to try these amazing dishes, I hope you will subscribe to BlackboardEats.com in San Francisco, download a passcode today and enjoy as many of these dishes as you'd like!
Note: These dishes will be available for 60 days, for subscribers who download passcodes.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Burger

apple-bread-recipe

Who doesn't like Burgers, right? And as the Labor Day BBQ's are right around the corner, I'm sure everyone is looking for a unique recipe to impress friends and family this coming weekend. If a Vegetarian Burger fits your menu, then you'll be happy to find this perfect low-fat veggie burger recipe which also stars a secret ingredient - Chocolate!! Yes, you heard it right, a burger recipe with chocolate in the mix?! You have got to try this out, whether you like vegetarian food or not! Check out this unusual yet healthy and delicious gourmet recipe for a sure fire way to wow your guests. [Photo courtesy of Janine via wikimedia]

This recipe comes from Hotel Chocolat, a luxury British chocolatier who specialize in fine cocoa chocolate, especially for Xmas, birthday gifts and corporate gift ideas. Besides being devoted to producing the finest chocolates, the company works hard to help improve the livelihoods of the cocoa farmers who supply the raw product. See their website for a wide range of chocolate inspired cuisine and quirky gourmet chocolate gift ideas.

This recipe approximately serves four people, and is easy to prepare in around forty minutes. Once you spice it up with some healthy veggies, alfalfa sprouts and your favorite seasonings sandwiched between slices of whole-wheat buns, I bet you'll become a bit of a vegetarian yourself!

Ingredients
1 Courgette
1/2 tsp Curry Powder
1/8 tsp Turmeric
100g Millet or Quinoa
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion - chopped
100g Hotel Chocolat Bitter Chocolate and Black Truffle Salsa
150g Pecan Nuts
50g Breadcrumbs
1 Egg Beaten
Salt - Pepper - to taste
3/4 pint of water

Method
First grate the courgette into a pan filled with 1/4 pint of salt water for 10 minutes to allow the courgette to absorb some of the water. After 10 minutes, rinse in fresh water, pat dry, and place to one side.

Add the millet, curry powder and turmeric to 1/2 a pint of water, then bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Fry the onion and the courgette in 1 tbsp of olive oil until golden. Add the Bitter Chocolate & Black Truffle Salsa and mix until the courgette and onion are evenly coated with the salsa. Take off the heat and place to one side.

Finely chop the pecan nuts and add to the cooked millet, then add the breadcrumbs, beaten egg, cooked courgette and onion, mix together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Take handfuls of the mixture to create your patties, using your hands or a round pastry cutter to create evenly sized burgers.

Heat a frying pan with 1tbsp of olive oil and carefully place each burger into the hot frying pan, allowing 3 minutes for each side or cook until golden brown. Alternatively, place the burgers on a BBQ grill and cook on both sides until grill marks appear.

Serve the burgers loaded with your favorite condiments and veggies - lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, pickles, alfalfa sprouts - whatever you fancy. Here's to a hale and hearty healthy vegetable burger that will lure veggie as well as meal lovers alike!

Related Recipes
Spicy Vegetarian Cutlets (Patties)
Veg Paneer Tikka with Mango Sauce
Grilled marinated Tofu Wraps

Croissant ~ Paris Miniatures


For more minis by Emmaflam & Miniman of Paris Miniatures, visit:

Bran rice kuzhi paniyaram

Ingredients

2 cups bran rice
1/2 cup blackgram dal (urad)
1/2 cup red poha(flattened rice)
Salt to taste
3 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp bengalgram dal
1 tsp black gram dal
Coriander leaves
Curry leaves
1 cup chopped onion

Soak the rice for 5-6 hours or preferably overnight. Soak the dal and poha seperately for 1-2 hours.

Grind the urad and poha mixture first till super smooth. Remove to a seperate vessel and then add the rice and grind well till soft and not grainy. Add salt and mix well with the urad batter. Allow it to ferment for 6-8 hours.

Add chopped onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves, ginger paste and tempered mustard seeds, bengalgram dal and black gram dal. Mix well. Pour into hot paniyaram pan and cook on medium flame till cooked and brown spots appear on both sides.

Serve hot with sambar or chutney of your choice.

** The batter is same as for bran rice idli and bran rice dosa...So once you grind the batter, you can prepare all the three.
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