Thursday, July 29, 2010

Drink your Milk!

I have a sneaking suspicion that PreeOccupied will no longer remain just a food blog. At least not for the next few months.

May I warn you not to be totally surprised if one day all you see on this space are details about a pregnant woman’s diet and food habits, not to mention her aversions towards anything that can be eaten. Or drunk.

I have never been fond of milk. Surprise, surprise.

If you ever meet my Mum she would tell you horror stories about a certain four-year-old deliberately toppling her glass of milk almost every day during breakfast. Or get all teary-eyed and gurgle the milk out without any effort.

That same four-year-old brat has grown up to be in her first trimester now, and all she sees are people breathing down her neck to drink milk. She is pretty sure there will be no escaping this time, and has finally become a very consenting mom-to-be, drinking the recommended quota of milk. But in her own way!

The Badam Milk way…

Ingredients for Badam Milk are:

1 liter milk
Handful of almonds
Handful of cashew nuts
Handful of pistachios
4-5 green cardamoms
Pinch of saffron strands

IMG_9841 Boil the milk on low medium heat for about 10 minutes. Soak the saffron strands in a tablespoon of water and add to the boiling milk. Watch the plain white milk turn gourmet at that very instance!

In a mortar and pestle coarsely crush the nuts and the cardamoms all together. Add them to the milk and cook for 5-6 minutes more. Add sugar to taste.IMG_9847 Let the milk cool down completely before chilling it for 4-5 hours. Give it a good stir and serve chilled.

The Badam Milk makes a wholesome, healthy and high on protein and vitamin drink, especially for pregnant women who need that extra ounce of everything! IMG_9860Not to mention the natural benefits of milk. The nuts, cardamom and saffron pack in a whole lot of taste and flavor and makes it more desirable even among stubborn adults like me.
IMG_9844IMG_9859 IMG_9852

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From India, with Love!

With family comes gifts and extra baggage space in the airlines for all the things you have been wanting to transport from “home”.

madhuThese Madhubani paintings were  bought by my husband and they were lying in New Delhi all these years. Finally, my dad-in-law got them with him!

And this is my new spice chest which my sister gifted me this time. IMG_9814 IMG_9815 spice 
These little terracotta frog and turtle go so well with my “money plant”.

Did you see the Lakshmi that has newly arrived?
IMG_9811This was a wedding gift from a very favorite aunt. This again was lying in my in-law’s house in New Delhi and has arrived with my sister and brother-in-law since they had lots of extra baggage space.
lakshmiI am yet to find a niche for this carved on wood Lakshmi. But till that time she is sitting with my two Italian stone owls and a set of books.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Masala Salmon

I did not know I was making this Masala Salmon until I picked my new barbecue recipe book.

I got two Salmon steaks from Chinatown and its only 10 minutes before dinner time, that I got ahead with making this recipe and I am so glad I did!
Page 373 of The Barbecue Collection has this recipe, which is quite easy. The original recipe has curry paste in it, but I personally don’t like curry powder or paste so I conveniently left it out. The rest of the ingredients remained the same.

Ingredients for Masala Salmon are:

Two Salmon steaks
1 small red onion
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 green chilies/ hot peppers
2 teaspoon grated root ginger
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 vegetable oil

Finely chop the onion. In a skillet, heat oil and deep fry the onions till they turn red and crispy. Reserve the oil and remove the onions with a slotted spoon. Let it cool. IMG_9666
In a blender, add the ginger, garlic, yogurt, green chilies, coriander, lemon juice, the fried onions, very little of the oil (from the onions) and salt. Give it a good swirl. This is the marinade for your fish.

Slobber the fish steaks with this marinade. For basting, drizzle the remaining oil you used to fry the onions.

IMG_9667 Let the fish stand in its marinade for about 15 minutes.

I used the broiler of my oven (on high) and grilled the salmon for about 7-8 minutes on each side.


I served the Salmon Masala with some Potato Wedges and a Mexican-inspired Salsa. (Remember all those fresh vegetables I got from the Farmers’ Market?)IMG_9668
For the Salsa, I chopped finely a small red onion, half a cucumber, a firm red tomato, two red radishes, a handful of coriander and a few green chilies (I used the Thai green chilies). The seasoning was a simple lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (or a pinch of red chili powder), and half a teaspoon of cumin powder. That’s a whole lot of flavor and crunch in a bowl.
IMG_9669IMG_9672A perfect, delicious and remarkably “healthy” dinner was awaiting us, and it took me less than an hour to make it! The flavor the fried onions added to the fish was just so classy, I intend to do it to a few other recipes I have in mind.

Only wish the local Pakistani restaurant offered fish this good. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Thursday Morning @ North York Civic Centre Farmers' Market

Remember the weekly haat and the bazaars we have back home in India?

Translate the same set up and you are transported to a Farmers’ Market in the Western world. Only less chaotic.

I am just back from the Farmers’ Market next to the Mel Lastman Square, sipping my morning chai, actually my hands are still dirty from touching the corn, and ruffling that huge dog who could not resist from drinking from the fountain there! I am like that dog, the power of self-control is a whimpering low, especially when it comes to sharing something exciting with you!
The memory of that toddler picking a raspberry up and putting it straight in her mouth is still fresh, just like the fruits and vegetables here.

IMG_9630IMG_9631 IMG_9632 IMG_9621 IMG_9635 And honest to God, I am not making it up when I say you could smell these Basil from a mile. Okay, maybe not a mile!

IMG_9625 Those are pea sprouts for your salads!

IMG_9642 IMG_9626 IMG_9633

All you see is freshness all around you, including a nod and a smile from the farmers who are selling their produce!
IMG_9628 IMG_9634 IMG_9638

My husband loves garlic and these of course are the freshest you can lay your eyes on!
IMG_9639 IMG_9640 Have you ever seen more fresh-looking green beans and in so many pretty colors?

Talking of colors, who can compete with this riot created by root vegetables…
IMG_9646 IMG_9645IMG_9649

Not to miss the dainty head of Miss Cauliflower!
IMG_9648 So I say bye-bye to you with this broccoli photo to arrange back the vegetables I got from the Farmers’ Market today!

IMG_9647 Farmers market mosaic Have a great Thursday and enjoy all the freshness around you!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

My two favorite things to do with Cherry Tomatoes are throw them in a baking dish with some EVOO, salt and pepper and grill or roast. Or just keep them on the dining table (all washed and cleaned), still on their vines as a centerpiece.

After the pretty cherry (or grape) tomatoes had spent some adequate time pepping up my dining table while simultaneously being popped in for some in-between-meal snack, I decided to make use of them for my dinner of chicken cutlets and a smoked salmon cream cheese-avocado sandwich.

IMG_9592 They say true luxury should be rare, authentic and special. I think so too, and that’s why I use cherry tomatoes to decorate, make little hors d'oeuvre by either stuffing them with fresh “mozz”, tossing them in salads or just pricking them on fruit picks with some complementary fruits (like grapes and olives) and some cheese.

These are the roasted cherry tomatoes I served with my dinner last night. About 300 grams of plump cherry tomatoes on the vine, drizzled lavishly with the best extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with some freshly cracked pepper and salt.

IMG_9597 Crank the oven up to 375 and roast the tomatoes for about 20-25 minutes.

IMG_9600These roasted cherry tomatoes are great hot, straight out of the oven. They are wonderful warm or at room temperature, and make spectacular leftovers the next day.

And the fun part is eating them straight from their vine. Try it!