Saturday, December 22, 2012

Festive Pastries- Merry Christmas!

These are fun if you enjoy baking with your kids- they will remember it! Or just in case you love baking for no other reason than the joy of baking!
Shorted dough filled with {homemade} mascrapone cheese and black olives. Easy breezy!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Roasted New Potatoes the Indian Way

Whenever we visit Moldova, I make sure I pack all sorts of condiments and spices that surely come handy there. These potatoes were new crop of the year and they deserved a special welcome. Butter roasted with paprika and cumin, garnished with sliced fried onions,  mustard seeds and crushed garlic- a treat for the tummy as well as the eyes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tamarind Rice- the Sweet, the Sour, the Crunchy, the Irresistible

Of course, there are many manners of making tamarind rice, but I prefer soaking the tamarind pods. Never mind the extra time for preparing the pulp, the taste shows up in the final dish. Concentrated 
tamarind seems a bit intrusive, and the ready made tamarind sauces are not worth the buy.
Fried green/red chili, mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, peanuts and the beautiful tangy tamarind sauce are simmered together with Basmati rice to produce this staple South Indian delicacy. Whether a snack or a side dish, it's mouthwatering.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Aloo Palak- Spinach and Potato Curry

...still steaming, if you see the photo! A favourite among my North Indian dishes. Spinach and cubed potatoes are fried with onion, garlic, ginger and spices (powdered cumin and coriander, chili, garam masala), then stewed till done in little water. Garnished with spluttered mustard seeds- and you have an excellent side dish to go with chapati or naan- or just good wholewheat fresh bread!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Layered Black Beans and Rice

Layered black beans, rice and chipotle sauce, between 3 large cooked tortillas. Topped with Monterey Jack cheese and sauce. Placed the dish under the broiler for the cheese to melt- quick and easy. And looks like saying: where are the guests?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homemade Egg Rolls

These ones are made with ready made egg roll sheets, but what makes a grand difference is the inside. Fresh, crisp carrot, soy sprouts, bamboo shoots, bok choy, stir fried and seasoned with salt and a sprinkle of  rice vinegar. Add cooked rice noodles, wrap, deep fry till golden brown and serve with chili sauce or your favourite dipping sauce.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cream of Mushroom Soup

There is no way for me to make a trip to the grocery store and come without "mus-rooms"- my little girl's  insistent request. And they go into different dishes, from curries to roasts, but this time a soup was in order. The technique used for makeing "cream of..." type soups is that of making of gravies, using a thickening agent, either flour or starch.
Here I used brown button mushrooms and spiced up the soup with black pepper and celery seeds. Yum.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Raspberry Jam, and Cupcakes

There are tons of raspberries in our Moldovan backyard that end up in the blender for the most fragrant, delicious jam you would lay tongue on! No heat process, just sugar and berries. Touted to heal all sorts of colds and weaknesses...I assume it keeps a lot of its vitamins intact, since it is not heated....Who knows? If anything, it is very tasty. Especially over a plain yogurt sponge cupcake. Yum.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Roasted Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup

Abundance is the word when it comes to fresh garden grown vegetables in Moldova. I mean it. So much of it, that a lot just goes waste on good crop years- especially the smaller sized veggies, that could not make their way through the mouth of the canning jar. Well, by waste I usually mean that chicken or other hungry species may indulge in these sun ripe delicacies. 
Like this large bucket (about 15 lb.) of tomatoes that I fetched from a lady's garden, a neighbor, that was begging me to "salvage" the tons of tomatoes that would otherwise have gone waste- if I loved them SO much and if they were indeed $5+ a kg. in US (organic, for sure). (here she made a few cross signs- in disbelief).

I cooked a whole hoard of dishes using them for the following 1 week or so, but soups topped the list simply because they are so delightfully light and nourishing. I love roasting bell peppers and tomatoes before pureeing them into a nice smooth soup- seasoned with ground cumin and salt- garnished with croutons- a winner, no doubt!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Squash, Bell Peper and Tomato Medley- Vegetables Rule

Again, one of last year's dishes from our fall visit to Moldova! (well, one has to cook and eat even on vacation!!!). Yellow tomatoes- the sweetest kind, and so juicy and full of flavour! But most important- fresh from our garden, as good as gold! More of a stew than a fry, since tomatoes release so much juice! The green squash and red bell peppers add texture and color, and taste goodness, plus chopped scallions and garlic- YUM! -and the guy next to it on the plate is linguine, just in case!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spinach Ravioli- Coltunasi cu Spanac

...and potato- a classic in Moldova, Italy and many other places obsessed with dumplings. A bit more elaborate than the mold released ravioli, but worth the try. Seasoned with garlic sauce and served with tomato sauce-delightfully filling and tasty. And healthy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spring Roll Samosa- A Crispy Delight

If you love samosa, but do not want to go through the dough making, here is a quick fix: get a pack of spring rolls (they are actually egg rolls, but have no eggs, so we'll call them springrolls;)) and stuff them with the regular potato masala used for samosa- spiced  crushed potatoes and peas, in my case. They are quite easy to use, and versatile. Just moisten the edges and seal: fold into rolls, triangles, parcels...deep fry and voila!

Friday, June 1, 2012

3 years of Blogging and Happy Eating with Healer Baskar

I thought of celebrating my 3rd Blogoversary with some food for thought. I did very little editing from the original source, mainly paragraph breaking and making a few titles bold for easier reading.

Anatomic therapy by Healer Baskar- just reinforcing the old wisdom of Ayurveda.

Healer Baskar from Tamil Nadu preaches how we can, on our own, prevent and cure all disease without any medicines. Here is a link to his website . He has his preaching in videos. You can find these in youtube.

There are several parts and it takes a total of about 6 hours. Since it is in Tamil (now you can also find them in Telugu, Kannada in youtube), below you will find the essence in English (I have just added a few items on top of what someone had already captured). Those who understand even slight Tamil can get the most out of the videos as he uses a lot of English.

According to him, the contamination of blood is the root cause for all diseases. If you rectify this, and follow his simple instructions, you can cure almost all diseases.

Here is the gist.

• By cleansing the blood of impurities all diseases can be cured.
• By regulating the food, drinking water, breathing air, sleep and work or physical activity the blood can be purified.
• By regulating the food 50% of the diseases can be cured.
• But only by regulating, drinking water, sleep, physical activity, and breathing air, the permanent cure can be maintained.

What is Anatomic Therapy ?

Eating slowly.
We need to take our time and chew our food until it has turned to mush. Take small bites instead of big bites. This means at least 4-5 chews per bite of food.  Don’t go for big bites. You can eat just a smaller portion and feel satisfied if you give your system time for the digestive and hormonal processes to take place so the signal gets to the hypothalamus in your brain.

Eating slowly helps to keep the amount of food you're eating small until you feel the satisfied feelings. It also prevents you from gorging yourself, and gives you more time to accurately reflect on whether your stomach feels full yet or not. It takes about a whole 15-20 minutes for your stomach
to send the message to the brain that you are full, so you could be eating 15 minutes more than your body wants. Eating slowly prevents overeating and will get you satisfied with less calories without feeling hungry or deprived; there are now "plates for eating slowly" that keep your food warm
while you enjoy.

Don't fantasize about food. It is a proven fact that watching TV makes you want to eat more. It's because of all those mouth-watering commercials with close ups of perfectly prepared food. Instead think about how good those fresh strawberries you are going to taste for lunch.
Sweets aren't the only things that taste good. Cakes and cookies taste good to your taste buds. Have fatty foods but by no means should be eating it as much as some do today. But yes, it does taste so good. But remember, other things taste good, too. These are all perfectly acceptablefoods, eaten in moderation of course, as with everything else. And even foods that don't seem so appealing can taste good with a little preparation, such as adding some Cinnamon to applesauce, or cooking broccoli before eating it if you don't like the taste of raw broccoli.

Add Six Tastes in your Food. 
There are 6 tastes and it’s having a balance of these tastes in our diet that creates harmony in the body and mind. Each taste has contains certain elements (space, air, fire, water, earth), so depending on what you are made of, there are tastes that will be more balancing for you than others. A table has been attached at the end.

Eat only when you're hungry. Modern Western culture seems to think that people get hungry at about 9 AM, 12 noon, and again at 6 PM. While this may be a generally good schedule for eating, remember that (usually) you don't have to eat at meal time if you're not hungry yet. Also, if you are hungry between meals, go ahead and have a healthy snack. It's not good to starve yourself between meals; if you allow yourself to become too hungry, you'll just overeat when the meal comes. It's all about listening to your body. You cannot follow this suggestion, however, until you have mastered Step 2, knowing when you're hungry. Another thing to remember is that by eating a little bit whenever you're hungry throughout the day, you shouldn't be eating so much at meal times, because you won't be as hungry and because you haven't waited and starved yourself. If you follow the suggestion of eating between meals if you're hungry, but continue to eat the same amount as if you had not snacked at meal times, you'll only end up gaining weight.
When you're having a meal, stop when you're satisfied, not when you're full. Don't you hate when you feel as if your stomach is full? This is a sign that you have made a mistake in the way you just ate. After you're done eating, your stomach should not feel empty, but also not completely full. Acquire the habit of eating slowly so you can stop when you are satisfied, not full; the brain needs about 20 minutes to get the "Not hungry anymore" signal.
Know what being hungry feels like. This takes some practice. Know that being hungry is a feeling of needing food, any food, in the pit of your stomach. You are not hungry whenever you want to be, but when you HAVE to be.

Quick points for proper food intake
• Chew food with saliva (don’t rush), take your time
• Eat with lips closed
• Do not talk, watch TV etc.,
• Just focus on eating
• Think of good thoughts, enjoy the food
• Sit down on the floor or cross leg and eat.
• No water 30 minutes before and after (just a few teaspoon will do if needed)
• Wash feet before eating
• Don’t over eat. Listen to body signals when to stop
• Eat six taste foods each meal

The Six Taste Foods:
Earth, water: sweet
Grains, pasta, rice, barley, bread, starchy vegetables, dairy, sugar, honey, Legumes such as lentils and beans, sweet fruits like mangoes and bananas as well as certain cooked vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, carrots and beets)
Water, Fire: salty
Table salt, soy sauce, seaweed
Earth, fire:  Sour
Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, pickled foods, salad dressing, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, vinegar, soy
sauce, alcohol
Fire, air: pungent
Peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, cloves, ginger, mustard, salsa, raddish, wasabi
Air, earth: astringent
Lentils, dried beans, broccoli, green apples, pears, grape skins, cabbage, pomegranates, tea, turnips,
cauliflower, asparagus and artichoke. Grains include rye, quinoa and buckwheat, and herbs and spices
like turmeric and marjoram.
Ether, air: bitter
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, green and yellow vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts, beets,
eggplant and zucchini. Additionally herbs and spices such as fenugreek, turmeric and dandelion root
and certain fruits like olives, grapefruits as well as bitter melon.

Priority of foods for best health
Baskar lists the priority of foods for us to follow per his technique. Topmost priority is fruit as there is jeevan (life) in it. Meat is very low in his
priority. So does alcohol, tea, coffee.
1. Fruits
2. Cereals, sprouts
3. Vegetables cooked
4. Cooked items like roti, chappati, rice etc.
5. Meat
6. Tea, coffee, alcohol

Tell or talk to body to heal condition. Do a lot of breathing exercise.
He recommends taking oil bath with sesame oil frequently, not to drink water especially when we are in an air conditioned room as we will work
the liver a lot, etc. o i

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vegetable Medley- Tocana de legume, a Moldovan Original

 There are times when no spice is allowed to alter or mask the taste of a delectable dish like this. Yes, if  they were grocery store vegetables, then you do need to give them a kick, indeed. Not these veggies from our own Moldovan garden, grown with rain, clean soil and LOVE. A dish called Tocana (tocanita)- a sort of medley, that I made during our fall visit to our home place in Moldova. Little garlic and dill is the only flavour that complement so well this dish made of absolutely fresh vegetables: tomato, egg plant, onion, yellow and red bell pepper. A side of plain rice is the only thing you need for great companion!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thinking Outside the Lettuce Head- a Winner Salad

A winner- Hooray! Thanks for the 2nd prize with Manjula's Kitchen April Contest!

Ayurveda identifies 6 Tastes by which all foods can be categorized: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Ideally one should have a mix of all of them, when one is in good health. Lately my husband has seriously been exploring this field and I have taken this as a task: making food to serve as medicine.
It is so easy to get into a salad boredom by mixing the same old lettuce and tomatoes…and that’s where I found myself for a while. The salad I am submitting for the contest is a beautiful balance of the above listed tastes, apart from being nutritious, tasty and pleasing to the eye.
I thought of thinking outside the lettuce head- and here I came up with a different salad that turned out excellent- and oh, so colorful! All of the ingredients are available at the produce section of any large grocery store. Even better, try your luck with local farmer’s markets to assure freshness and quality.

  • Radicchio- half head
  • 1 Cup Cauliflower florets
  • 1 Cup Sliced carrots
  • 1 Cup Sliced yellow bell peppers
  • Small bunch arugula or watercress
  • Small bunch of chives
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin seeds

Olive Oil Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper

  1. Roughly chop the radicchio head.
  2. Blanch the cauliflower florets and the sliced carrots for about 3 minutes. Cool.
  3. Mix in the radicchio, cauliflower, carrots, sliced yellow bellpeppers, chopped chives and argula/ or watercress.
  4. Season with olive oil sauce
  5. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve. Season to taste with salt.
  6. To make the Olive Oil Sauce, mix in the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Freshly Made Mascarpone- Simple Beauty

And that is what was used to fill the Pasca. Scroll down. Makes such a versatile dish: spread, bread / casserole filling, salad partner, sweet filling. Certainly a better choice compared to the one from the grocery store. But then we all know that.

Here is the recipe link: thank you so much, Kathy!

Thank you and Bon Appetit. As simple as that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Pasca-Cristos a Inviat!

How lucky can it get? Western Easter and one week after- Eastern Orthodox Easter. But that happens with Christmas too... Not complaining. This time we had a beautiful party at our place, we called it an Indo-Moldovan Easter, for I had dishes from both cuisines. Even the guests brought their international flair: two were from Germany, one from Taiwan, three from USA, of course, I am from Moldova and hubby from India. God bless everybody, and Happy Easter!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fresh Ricotta and Veggie Pizza

Every year we visit Moldova, my dear mother makes pizza for us. At least once. She gets so excited about that, since it is still a sort of novelty dish in that part....It is a big day for the whole family, especially my little nephews. My only request for her is to use the fresh cheese she makes home, similar to ricotta. Purely because it is so good. And not "cheesy".  With garden fresh tomatoes, yellow and red, bell peppers, mushrooms.....the best of the season, for it was indeed the time when all these goodies taste the best! ...memories.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

White Chocolate Ganache Torte- Welcome Spring

Having grown up and lived in a four season climate, I always loved the change...the expectation of the new to come and old to vanish, but not for long. So is the story of seasons. And since Spring officially starts on March 1st in Moldova, it is marked with the Festival of Mărţişor. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it, and I give it full credit:

"Mărțișor (Romanian pronunciation: [mərtsiʃor]) is an old Romanian celebration at the beginning of spring, on March the 1st. Simbolically, it is correlated to women and to fertility as a means of life and continuity. The tradition is authentic in Romania, Moldova, and all territories inhabited by Romanians and Aromanians. Alike though not identical customs can be found in Bulgaria (see Martenitsa), while similar ones exist in Albania, Greece and Italy.

The name Mărțișor is the diminutive of marț, the old folk name for March[4] (Martie, in modern Romanian), and thus literally means "little March". It is also the folk name for this month.

Mărțișor, marţ and mărțiguș are all names for the red and white string from which a small decoration is tied, and which is offered by people on the 1st day of March. It is also a symbol of the coming spring."

We used to exchange these red and white string decorations amongst friends, family, and most of all- teachers. Teachers would have their tops covered in Mărțișori :).

Red for Love and Passion, White for Purity and Innocence- Welcome Spring with a cake I made for my little family. White marshmallow fondant covered chocolate cake, iced and filled with white chocolate ganache cream- it was such a delight...well, it still is, as I am writing. The sugarpaste  mărțișor  is going to be framed.....i guess. That is, if I get time or my little one does not eat it. Sides of cake: stamped flowers and leaves. The writing: edible pen ink! I mean it: all edible. I am picky though of what I eat on a cake! :))))

and of course, every cake starts with a candle!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Exotic Mamaliga or Corn Upma

Am sure Indians heard of Corn Meal Upma, many might have even tasted it, but what are the chances the corn meal is the golden, best of flavour corn that grows only in a place called Moldova? Every time I go home, I bring a couple of kgs of corn meal for the authentic Mamaliga, that corn meal can hardly be found in the same ground texture anywhere else. Besides, it comes from our own corn field, treated with Love, not GMO-s and what not. Perfect Marriage. Spices,  and corn meal. The rest is just addition to the picture.

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