My sister Savithri is another fabulous cook in our family in addition to being a baker extraordinaire. She loves salads and made this fresh and juicy greek summer salad for our 'sisters spa day'. We spent a wonderful evening doing yoga, drinking refreshing hydrating teas, watched a couple of chick flicks, and eating this healthy salad. The main ingredients for this salad are juicy tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, lemon juice, feta cheese, black olives, and chopped mint. We added red peppers to this version, you can make several variations on this salad by adding chickpeas, other colored peppers inlcuding hot peppers or banana peppers. It was filling, super healthy, low in calories, and delicious. Taking time out to relax, breathe deeply, and eat healthy are great ways to manage the overwhelming pressures of a busy life. I'm noticing the positive impact already!
3 cups whole milk or half-and-half
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced, rinsed, and patted dry
Step 1: Make the Mornay Sauce (Bechamel with Cheese)
- Heat the milk in a saucepan (or microwave it until its steaming).
- In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter melts add the flour and cook until the flour lightly browns.
- Add the milk to the butter and flour in a stream while continuously whisking.Whisk until the sauce thickens and you can draw a line across the spoon coated with the sauce.
- Add the cheese (grated, and reserve some for the topping) and mix in until its melted.
- Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Add the potato slices to the sauce and stir to coat. Carefully arrange the slices in individual ramekins and ensure you add some sauce in between layers. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and dot with butter. Set in the oven. Raise the heat to 400°F and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven, let it cool. You will then need to loosen the edges of the potato and then invert the ramekin on a plate. Flip your potato stack over and voila, individual potato dauphinoise.
To continue Shankar's theme of fusion food, this is another delicious recipe from my friend Lavanya Krishnan. The pasta salad is kicked up a notch with the addition of garam masala, but it doesn't overpower the dish. I wasn't sure how this was going to taste, but it was lovely. The yogurt -- mildy flavored by the onions, masala, and cilantro -- mixed with the beans, peas, and red peppers, was healthy meal.
The next time you are looking for a quick fix lunch or dinner, I recommend this recipe. Serve it chilled.
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet, saute the onions and peppers with the garam masala.2. Add the peas (you can use frozen peas here), and cook through.
3. Turn off the heat, and mix the onion pepper mixture with the pasta, and black beans.4. Toss with the dressing.
5. Cool in the fridge, then serve.
Kanchana is out of town, so I thought I'd do a bit of guest blogging. If memory serves, my last guest post detailed a particularly horrendous failure in the kitchen - so I'm glad to be back with a story of success.
Ethnic cooks who attempt foods outside of their background are frequently accused of putting some of their ethnicity into their creations - even if they weren't trying to! In spite of such criticism, there is definitely a tremendous value associated with fusion foods not just to the palate, but socially and economically - just look around at the variety of fusion cuisines now widely accepted as well as the number of celebrity chefs who make a living from those cuisines. Without claiming to step into their ranks, here's a recipe that brings together flavors from Southeast Asia and the American heartland. I hope you enjoy it!
1 cup milk
1/2 cup fennel root
1 chopped lemongrass stalk
1/4 cup minced galangal
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 sprig rosemary
2 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp butter/olive oil
- Substitute all butter with olive oil for a lower cholesterol levels.
- If you don't have access to galangal, just skip it - ginger is NOT a substitute. The two roots look a bit similar but do not taste similar. Besides, there's already ginger in the recipe!
- If you're not up for lots of chopping, you can leave out the onions/celery/carrots. They should already be in your stock. I prefer adding the mirepoix in both - kind of a double-strong stock. Besides, the additional veggies are good for you too! This recipe is something your mother will love - it makes you eat your vegetables and drink your milk.
- Similarly, you don't necessarily have to add the aromatics to the roasting pan - it's just really nice how the aromatics roast into the squash.
- Buy a Vitamix. It's awesome!
The following recipe is taken exactly from Gopi's site www.zrox.net/Recipes.
- 1 lb penne or ziti pasta
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
- ½ tsp. crushed pepper flakes
- ¾ cup Pepper Vodka
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Chopped basil leaves, garnish
- Finely grated pecorino cheese, garnish
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, return to the pot, and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until reduced to about 3 to 4 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat evenly.
Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with the basil and top with a sprinkling of the pecorino cheese.
Notes by Gopi Sundaram:
I got this recipe from Emeril Live on the Food Network.
The sauce may look like it won't suffice for the whole pound of pasta, but it'll be okay. Too much cream sauce would make it too heavy. If you really want more sauce, add another 14oz can of tomatoes, and proportionally increase the quantities of vodka, cream, and pepper flakes.
I usually use farfalle instead of ziti or penne pasta, and use a blend of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses instead of pecorino.