Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Valentine's Day Surprise

The romantics of the world celebrated Valentine's Day a couple of weeks ago. The cynics would rather call it Hallmarks Day or Flowershop Day or even Hershey's Day because of the volume of sales for cards, flowers and chocolates on this particular day !
But cynicism aside, no woman that I know would refuse a gift of flowers (or chocolates for that matter :P). There is something about the freshness of flowers, the colour and warmth and exuberance that seems to seep into the very air surrounding fresh flowers !
TH and I do not celebrate Valentine's particularly. We do exchange e-cards when we remember and try and get a nice meal, usually at home. So imagine my surprise when the bell rang and I discovered that the UPS delivery guy had dropped off a rectangular box at my doorstop. As far as I knew, we were not expecting any deliveries and I was a little flummoxed. I ripped open the box, (oh yes, I am a very curious person...I cannot wait to open any boxes ! ), I saw that it was addressed to me :) (Thankfully !! else I would have had some explaining to do when TH came home )
Inside was a bunch of assorted colourful tulips, glass vase and all ! The card said that TH had ordered tulips for me and had arranged to have them delivered !!!
Surprise Surprise :) It was a very sweet gesture and I loved it !

Then in order to have something in return, I decided to have a fancier meal than we usually have ! I made sprouts curry, made with sprouted moth and whole moong. Paired it up with store bought masala naan. I made my favourite black bean corn salad as a side.
Dessert was Protein Rich chocolate mousse ! Protein rich, you ask ? Read on !
By the time TH came home, dinner was ready, the house was clean and neat (as neat as it can be with a mischievous toddler in the house) and was smelling fresh and pleasant, due to generous squirts of room freshener !
Dinner was a success and all three of us had a nice time around the dining table !
And so ended this years Valentine's at our house !

Black Bean Corn Salad
Servings - 4 to 6

( Dinner plate on Valentine's Day 2008 - Masala Naan, Sprouts curry and Jicama Black bean corn salad )


1 can black beans
3/4 C corn (Fresh or Frozen)
1/2 C onion (diced)
1/2 medium sized jicama (diced)
chopped coriander

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp spicy prepared mustard
1 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste
red chili flakes to taste (optional)

1. If using fresh corn, boil it until tender but not mushy. It should retain its shape.
If using frozen corn, then thaw to room temperature and drain all water. (I put it in the microwave for about a minute and its ready to use)
2. Mix with the remaining salad ingredients in a bowl. Reserve the coriander for later.
3. Mix all the dressing ingredients in another bowl and whisk until incorporated. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if required.
4. Pour dressing over the bean mixture and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle chopped coriander.
5. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.

The salad can be served cold or warm. If you prefer it warm, then just cover it until its time to serve. This is a hearty, filling salad and has tons of fiber and protein.
If jicama is not available, diced cucumber can be added for crunch. But if it is available, I would recommend using the crunchy sweet root for a delicious difference !

Tofu Chocolate Mousse
Servings: 6


1 packet silken tofu ( like the Mori-Nu brand for desserts and entrees)
3 oz semisweet or dark chocolate
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 C sugar (more or less according to preference)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Puree the tofu in a blender until smooth. Add a couple of tablespoons of milk if required.
2. Combine chocolate chips, cocoa powder, sugar and maple syrup in a bowl. Place over another smaller bowl container simmering water and stir until chocolate chips melt.
3. Then remove off the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly until no lumps remain.
4. Add chocolate mixture to the blender and blend again until well combined. You might need to scrape down the sides several times to ensure that no white streaks remain in the mousse.
5. Pour into several ramekins or serving glasses and refrigerate until ready to serve.
6. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or chopped nuts and enjoy !

The mousse was creamy and rich and sweet and delicious !
The taste of tofu was a little discernible but wasn't odd in any way and did not mar the taste of the mousse. If you have an unused block of tofu, then this recipe is a must try !

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Evening in Frisco

As evenings went, there wasn't anything extra special about this one..It had been an ordinary day replete with the usual chores and toddler management experiences at my end :D ..Nothing worth celebrating or making a fuss about, really..But if you get down to it,almost every day is like that, isn't it ? Except for the occasional birthday or a festival..But why wait for a day circled on a calendar to bring out the special china or do something nice and special with your family ? I think we should try and celebrate every day for what it is worth ! Doesn't have to be extravagant or anything that requires a lot of advance planning..Sometimes all it takes for a day to be special are simple maybe a special meal with all the family members present, gathering everyone and taking spontaneous pictures, sitting together and playing board games (any games, for that matter !) and talking and laughing !!
Its true that we remember the big bashes for a long time, big gatherings, lot of people, rich food...they are the big pearls that adorn the golden chain of life..but the other moments,spent in the warm company of close family, where you feel safe and loved and contented, these are the moments that make the strands of that golden chain!
TH and I decided to make such memories for ourselves and our toddler P. We decided to
have a small celebration on account of P's 18 month birthday :)
I baked a cake from this recipe..It turned out great..although I made modifications to substitute the eggs..Along with the cake, I also made an easy savoury drum rolls needed here ...A snack made with puffed rice and grated carrots might not sound very appetizing , but once you eat will be tempted to make it every day !
Healthy, easy to put together, delicious ! What else could I want from a snack !

Healthy Puffed Rice Snack


2 C plain puffed rice
3/4 C grated carrot
1/2 onion, diced small
finely chopped coriander
1 small tomato, diced (optional)
cayenne pepper and salt to taste (very little salt is needed)

1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 C unsalted peanuts
pinch of asafoetida

1. Take a wide mouthed bowl and put in the puffed rice, carrots, onion, tomato, cayenne pepper and salt. Add a little sugar (optional). Mix well.
2. Prepare tempering by heating the oil and then adding the mustard, coriander seeds and peanuts. Once the mustard seeds start sputtering, switch off the heat and add the
3. Add the tempering to the puffed rice mixture. Mix well.
4. Garnish with the chopped coriander.

This dish is best eaten fresh. The puffed rice tends to get soggy if kept too long.

The same snack can be made by substituting puffed rice with puffed wheat or even
cheerios or any combination of the three.
For added crunch and colour, sprouts or even boiled corn will be a nice touch.

Enjoy and Hope you make good memories for yourselves today :-)