Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Switching to a Vegan and Gluten Free Diet

It has been so long since I posted anything here. Life has been taking many different turns and I had to spend a lot of time and energy on other things to keep the wheels moving.

I am back now and I do hope to post very often even if it's a just a short post with a picture and the list of ingredients. I have been doing some research on the skin condition I have (Rosacea) and have decided to follow a vegan and gluten free diet to see if that would help with Rosacea. I intend to capture my experiences and learnings in this blog as I switch to this new lifestyle.

Rustic Pear Tart with Cinnamon and Candied Ginger

The word 'Rustic' evokes a feeling of spontaneity and simplicity in my mind. I am a perfectionist and would keep repeating things until I think that it's perfect. But of late, I have come to appreciate this term Rustic as it gives me the freedom to be just creative without worrying about perfection. My daughter told me once while we were doing some art project that 'There is no mistake in art'. I believe she had heard it from her teacher. Wouldn't we agree?  

Rustic Tarts give you that freedom to have a crust that does not have to look perfect around the edges.
I like Pear for its slight crunch and sweetness. This tart is very easy to make and a great way to have your kids eat a lot of fruit.I followed the crust recipe from NPR's Splendid Table with some modifications. This crust is flaky and buttery but does not need a whole lot of butter.


2 medium sized Pears - thinly sliced lengthwise  - you can also use canned pear slices
2 tbs Candied Ginger cut into small pieces
2 tbs Brown Sugar
1tsp All purpose flour
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Sea salt

Crust : Makes one 9 or 10 inch crust
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking powder 
4 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch bits
3 tbs regular or reduced-fat sour cream


1. PreHeat Oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Filling - Toss the pear slices with all the other ingredients in a bowl.

3. Crust -  In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and process to mix. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Put the work bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.
Add the sour cream to the flour mixture and process until the dough comes together in the bowl. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it several times on a lightly floured surface. Form it into a 1-inch-thick disc, wrap it in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.


Line a work surface with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, generously dust with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Dust the top with flour and roll into a rustic 12-inch circle, adding more flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Transfer the crust to a baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mat in place.
Lay the pear slices in decorative, overlapping circles on top of the crust, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Spoon any remaining pear juice over the slices. Pick up the edges of the crust using a spatula and fold over the pears. The crust will not meet in the center.

Bake the tart until lightly browned and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with spinach and mushrooms

Happy new year everyone!! Hope your year is filled with the wonderful joy of cooking wholesome meals for your family. I have been focusing a lot on sustainability and have decided to go completely local and seasonal this year. I figured it is possible to cook gourmet food even if you restrict yourself to buy only locally produced seasonal veggies and greens. Another focus for this year will also be improving my photographic skills so that the pictures I have in this blog look more pleasing and appetizing.

Winter has the name Squash written all over it, right.. So, here’s my first time buying and cooking Spaghetti Squash. My daughter loved scraping the spaghetti out of the squash. I loved how simple and easy it was to cut and scrape. When I said that we'll have Spaghetti Squash for dinner, my husband thought that it was spaghetti with squash and he was pleasantly surprised to see that it's just all vegetables and no white carb.


Source:Creative Commons

1 Spaghetti Squash - Standard Medium size
Button Mushrooms - about 500 gms - washed and cut
Fresh leaf Spinach - about 500 gms - washed and dried
Olive oil - 1.5 tbs
Cheddar Cheese - 3 tbs
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Roasted almonds - 1/2 cup (optional)


Source:Creative Commons
1.Poke the spaghetti squash all over with a skewer or fork.

2.Microwave it on high for about 12 minutes.(This depends on the size of the squash. Mine was a standard grocery store size). In between, turn the side once to make sure all sides are evenly cooked.

3.You will see water oozing out of the skin. The squash will be hot. Use your mitt to take it out and let it cool for a few minutes.

4. Now cut in half lengthwise.Use a fork to scrape the strands.


In a medium size pan, heat olive oil and stir in mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes and add spinach. Saute until spinach wilts. Add salt and pepper. Stir in the squash and saute once or twice to mix everything. Now add more salt and pepper as required and add the cheese.

Serve hot in a bowl and sprinkle the almonds. The almonds add a nice nutty taste to this meal. You can also add roasted peanuts or cashew nuts. 
What is your favorite spaghetti squash recipe? Let me know so I can try and enjoy..

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cafe Flora - A great eat out for Seattle Vegeterians and Vegans

Life has been busy for the past 5~6 months with school/work and kids. We lived on a strict schedule and any deviation from it caused setbacks that were hard to deal with.And as a family we didn't get to go out to a good restaurant in a long while. Now that the exams are over and we have some breathing room we decided to enjoy the holiday season by trying out some new vegeterian friendly restaurants in Seattle.

First on our list was Cafe Flora. It is a cute little restaurant in Seattle that serves the growing Vegeterian/Vegan community here. We loved the atmosphere and the open space. The environment was calm and mellowing yet had some vibrance to it. We decided to try out the QUESADILLA VERDE for starter.

It was nothing like the quesadilla you have in mind. It was mildly sweet and delicate with roasted yams,pumpkin seed cilantro scallion spread and pepper jack cheese.

And for the main course we tried the FORAGED CHANTERELLE PIZZA and FALL PUMPKIN PIZZA. The Chanterelle mushrooms were locally foraged . The pizza also had Crimini mushrooms, Kale,basil cashew cheese, roasted Delicata squash and gremolata.

The pizza was delicious and it took us only a few mins to finish all pieces. Then we tried the Fall Pumpin pizza. It had Creamy pumpkin pesto, Gruyere Cheese, sherried apples, chili pecans, and fried sage. The taste was divine. I couldn't take a picture of that pizza as it was all gone by the time I took my camera out.

We also had vegan chocolate cake for dessert. With our appetite deliciously satisfied our hearts were light. We came out of the restaurant with a happy feeling. It was a great holiday evening with family and it will stay in our memory forever.

If you live in the Northwest area, you must visit this place and enjoy the vegeterian delights as we did.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grilled pita sadwich with sauteed spinach and potatoes

Pita bread is one of my favorite flat breads. I try to have it in the freezer most of the time to put together an easy sandwich.After trying out Meena's Aloo palak for the tried & tasted event, I wanted to use that as a filling for pita sandwich. Here's the recipe for a quick grilled pita sandwich:


1 whole wheat pita bread - sliced into 2 halves
1 tbs Hummus(I had roasted red pepper hummus)
2 tbs shredded cheese (pepper jack or cheddar)
1 cup sauteed Spinach with Potatoes(Recipe


1.Take one half of the pita bread and spread one side with hummus.
2. Spread the cheese on top of the hummus and fill with spinach and potato mixture.
3.Keep it in a panini grill and let it cook until the cheese melts.
4. Serve warm with any spicy sauce. (I used Masala ketchup)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tried & Tasted - Aloo Palak (Potato 'n Spinach)

This week has been pretty busy for me as I had some final interviews for my MBA admission.Hope to hear some positive news soon. Coming weeks are going to be even busier with the summer vacation for my daughter and her summer camps/classes etc., ..and our India trip.. I can't wait to see how Chennai has changed.. I'm excited about taking my daughter to the places where I had been as a child..will be interesting to see her reaction...

This month's Tried & Tasted event is hosted by Jean of Kits Chow. Jean has chosen Meena's Hooked on Heat as the blog of the month.I have visited Meena's site many a times since I was introduced to food blogs and love her recipes. I chose to try the aloo palak from her recipe collections. I decided to use it as a filler for my pita sandwich. you can also eat it just as it is. A quick healthy salad ready in under 30 minutes and it tastes great..

Here's the recipe:

2 large bunches of spinach,chopped
1 large potato, sliced into thin wedges
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste


1. Heat oil in a deep non-stick wok and saute cumin and coriander seeds with garlic and onions till fragrant.
2. Add in spices and fry for a few seconds.
3.Throw in potatoes, season with salt and fry for a few minutes till partly done.
4.Add in spinach, and stir fry till it starts to wilt and potatoes are cooked through. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spinach and Split yellow mung beans (dal) soup

Mung dal is favorite in our household and I try to use it atleast every other day. It is a great source of protein and has good fiber content too. When you buy this dal from the Indian store, you roast it a little bit and then store it to extend it's shelf life.

I am trying to use leafy greens as much as possible in my cooking. Spinach is the most common leafy green I get and I try different kinds of recipes with that. Here's our all time favorite soup recipe using spinach and mung dal from The art of Indian Vegeterian Cooking. This recipe is slightly modified from what you see in the book.

Servings: 5 or 6


1 cup split yellow mung beans(dal) - can be substituted with split green peas
1 cup fresh spinsch,washed,trimmed and coarsely chopped or 1/2 pkt of frozen spinach
5 cups water
3 green chillis
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Cumin(jeera) powder
1 tbs minced fresh ginger root
1 tbs ghee or canola oil
1 ts cumin(jeera) seeds
1/4 ts asofetida
1/2 tbs lemon juice
salt to taste


1. Wash and drain the mung dal. If using frozen spinach, defrost it at room temperature,place it in strainer and press out all excess water.
2. Place the mung dal, water,turmeric,jeera powder,ginger root,green chillis and a dab of ghee or oil in a heavy non-stick suacepan.Strring occasionally, bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low,cover with a tight-fitting lid and gently boil for 1 hour or until the dal is soft.
Alternatively, you can pressure cook the dal to save time. Combine all the ingredients in a 6-quart/liter pressure cooker, cover and cook for about 25 minutes under pressure. Remove from the heat and let the pressure drop by itself.
3.Off the heat, uncover and add the salt.Beat with a whire whisk or rotary beater until the dal soup is creamy smooth.Add the fresh spinach,cover and boil gently for 5-8 minutes more or cook frozen spinach for 2-3 minutes.
4. Heat the ghee or oil in a small sauce pan.When it is hot, pur in the cumin seeds and fry until they are brown.Add the asofetida and fry 1-2 seconds more. Then quickly pour the fried seasonings into the soup. Cover immediately. Let the seasonings soak into the hot dalfor 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon juice,stir and serve.

I am sending this recipe to the RCI: Jain Cuisine event hosted by PJ from Seduce your Tastebuds. Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine started the RCI events and she has been letting fellow bloggers host the event every month.