Monday, June 30, 2014

Blackberry Jasmine Iced Tea

This weekend was hot...

It was beautifully sunny, with clear blue skies, but incredibly hot! 
And of course the harbingers of this warm weekend weather would be...
On the up side - Our blackberry bush bursting with juicy ripe dark purple blackberries.
On the down side- Our AC unit going on the fritz. 

The heat and lack of AC, of course led us to be two pretty cranky people, but we tried to make the best of it.
We both were trying different ways to cool down: popsicles (recipe coming soon!), ice compresses, water from the garden hose, and cool drinks. We finally decided to try to cool off in the garden, sitting in our swing and picking/ eating blackberries. In that one afternoon we picked a little more than a pint, with plenty more still ripening on the bush. These blackberries are twice as big and twice as sweet as the ones I use to buy in the store; luckily for us they are too big for the birds to pick! :)
After we ate a good number of blackberries, the question was what to do with the ones we hadn't was absolutely out of the drink it is! I grabbed a few sprigs of mint and off I went to make our cool refresher! This ice tea is a great summer cooler. Light, refreshing taste; floral jasmine flavor melding with sun ripened sweet blackberries, and a hint of mint to top it  all off.

Here is my recipe for this Refreshingly Floral Blackberry Jasmine Iced Tea:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mongolian Spicy Stir Fried Noodles

I went to California a few years ago with my Aunt to visit family in Mountainview. The weather was nice, and the parks were lovely. While I did have a nice time, I would have to say the 4 major highlights of the trip were:
1- Walking through Muir Woods. Walking along those huge ancient giant trees it makes you wonder what they've been through and what they've seen, figuratively of course...trees don't have eyes.

2- Accidentally Off roading in a Nissan Maxima while trying to find Big Basin Redwood State Park, and finding out later we had been driving through the middle of it the whole time!

3- Spotting a handsome young man at a Starbucks on El Camino Real...only to meet him 3 years later at a Starbucks in NJ and 1 year later marrying him. :)

4- and of course The noodles at New Mongolian BBQ on Castro St. in Mountainview.

The noodles were delicious! It was lunch and a show. You would go in, pick what you wanted off the menu or opt for the buffet style stir fry. We opted for the buffet, we made our way to where they had a large spread including numerous raw veggies, thinly sliced raw marinaded meats and seafood, a wide array of sauces to pick from, and at the end of it all oodles of cooked cold noodles! After you picked what you wanted, you headed to the front of the store where the chef stood in front of this huge round grill, with a large sword-like spatula. He'd take what you chose and cook it right in front of you. Truth be told, it took longer to pick from the buffet then to cook it!
I loaded mine up with Snow Peas, other veggies, sliced lamb, and a spicy, spicy sauce, yum!
This week, after the rain we had an abundance of Snow Peas. So I decided to make a version of those quick spicy noodles showcasing those snappy garden fresh Snow Peas. This is a great versatile recipe that can be veg or non-veg; it's completely up to you what to put in it. Use the recipe as a template for a tasty quick meal.

Here's my take on those Spicy Stir Fried Noodles:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fabulously Spicy Falafel - Chickpea Fritters

This past week has been warm, humid and very rainy. While it's great for the plants and the garden...I was missing the sun. Luckily for us, we are in for a beautiful weekend, warm and sunny. Today, we spent the better part of our day outside in the garden, harvesting, tending and staking plants. I asked Kishore what we were going to do for dinner, after some thought we decided... Spicy Falafel it is! When we've had a long day, don't really want to spend too much time cooking, one of our favorite quick light dinner meals is Falafel. The nice thing about falafel is that it's a great throw together meal. I always have some canned chickpeas available in my cabinet; along with cilantro, parsley, and mint in the fridge or garden depending on the time of year. 

The first time we had Falafel was at this lovely Lebanese restaurant that was literally in the lower level of the owner, Maria's, home. When you came in she, and her mother or daughter would be sitting at one of the tables chopping herbs, or rolling stuffed grape leaves; she'd ask you what you were in the mood for meat or vegetable. On this day there was this lovely herbal smell drifting from the kitchen and I said, "Whatever you are cooking now, that's what I want to try." Out she came, 10 minutes later, with steaming hot falafel stuffed into a warm homemade whole wheat pita with cucumbers and tomatoes with tahini was delicious! I had to ask Maria her secret in making these, she kindly said, "Always use fresh herbs, the fresher the better. Grow it if you can, that's the secret to good falafel." Well, I happen to agree with her and take her advice to heart about any dish involving herbs; So once we had made our dinner decision... Out I went to cut some fresh garden herbs for this Fabulously Spicy Falafel!

Here is my recipe based on Maria's, Fabulously Spicy Falafel:

Monday, June 9, 2014

In My Kitchen - June 2014

I stumbled upon or should I say StumbleUpon'ed the cooking blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial this past weekend, and came across a cool monthly happening there called "In My Kitchen." 
It is a monthly peek into the kitchens of bloggers worldwide. I'm so excited to join the conversation and share the views from my kitchen!

So here we go....

This Month in my Kitchen...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Broccoli and Rainbow Chard Quiche

So as I've mentioned in the last few posts we've been harvesting lots of greens from our garden; lettuce, spinach, rainbow chard and now broccoli. This year for fun we decided to try growing broccoli. Everyday we would go out and check to see if the crown was starting to show. When it finally started growing we were so excited! I've always liked broccoli; crunchy and tasty it's the perfect side for a number of dishes. 
Garden Broccoli Progress :)
I usually eat it steamed, well...more like I show it the hot water, it cringes and I eat it. I think it's an absolute sin to overcook broccoli. Much like spinach, I avoid eating it in restaurants because it's often served in the shape of stinky, green mush. This no doubt is why so many people have an aversion to it, and frankly I don't blame them!
Since the weather has been so nice we've collected 4 large heads of Broccoli so far, and I've had to come up with other ways to eat it then gently steamed. We've tried it: Raw with dip, in Pasta Salad, as a Side with Salmon, in Chopped Salad, Stuffed Broccoli Leaves, and of course Broccoli Quiche.
Broccoli is a great vegetable, full of vitamin C, protein and fiber; all very important in maintaining health. This quiche is great as an appetizer, brunch, or as a light meal.

Here is my recipe for Garden Fresh Broccoli and Rainbow Chard Quiche:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Fig and Feta Spinach Salad

Al fresco Sunday Brunch

As the weather gets warmer we are less inclined to eat heavy meals opting instead for light refreshing satisfying meals. And of course a major reason for light meals is...
Red Kitten Spinach
Who really wants to stand in front of a hot stove or grill when it's hot?....Answer no one! 
As I mentioned in the previous post we planted a varied kitchen garden this year, and one of the most plentiful vegetables we've been harvesting the last few weeks has been spinach. We've had a range of dishes including Spinach Pastas, Spinach Dals, Spinach Pakoras, Spinach Quiches...and of course Spinach Salads. We also shared the harvest with Family and Friends.
It's funny, as a kid I hated Spinach...I mean I HATED Spinach. I always thought of it as cooked bitter mush, reminding me of the gross seaweed that gets tangled in your feet on the beach. Yea, not particularly appetizing imagery. Then something changed, after moving out here there was fresh baby spinach available, no more canned, frozen, or bitter spinach. You can keep those cans Popeye!

Baby Spinach leaves are tender, flavorful and not bitter at all. I prefer to eat them raw in salad; it almost feels wrong to cook them. I leave the more mature leaves for cooking purposes.
This salad is chockfull of vitamins, spinach contains iron, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals important for skin, hair, and bone health. It is great as a light meal, an appetizer, side dish, and goes great with grilled chicken.

Here is my recipe for Sweet Fig and Feta Spinach Salad with Zesty Honey Mustard Dressing:

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