Mango Graham Cracker parfait with coconut

When fresh fruit is in season, I try and use it as much as possible for most of my meals, either the fruit by itself in its entirety or included as an main ingredient in the recipe [hear, hear.. as if you couldn’t make out from my entries].

So for the summer it is mango and peach (obviously) and more specifically mango.  Nothing against the peaches, I still have ’em stocked up, but mangoes being my favorite fruit will dominate this blog at least for a week more.

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I make my own yogurt at home and on the very day it is made, I prefer using it for something fancy when it all set very solid.  Fresh fruit and freshly set yogurt- here comes Mango graham crackers parfait as an afternoon snack for my little one and of course me too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 2 mangoes- pureed in a blender
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Graham crackers- 1/4 cup (I used the breakfast style Graham crackers- Three Sisters brand)
  • Sweetned coconut flakes- optional

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Instructions

  • Crush together crackers and sugar in a bowl
  • For the parfait, place some mango puree in a glass followed by the yogurt.  Add some fresh fruit followed by the graham crackers.
  • Repeat till all the yogurt and the puree is used up.
  • Top off with some diced fruit and some crackers.
  • Sprinkle some coconut flakes and serve.

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Better Limeade and Mango Salad with Sweet mint Pesto

I am a little sad that Gilt Taste closed down.   More than the high-end grocery shopping that the site offered, I was more drawn to the recipes and the stories.  Well, at least as of now, I do not see any way of going back to those sections.   I however did try some of the recipes that I liked from the site, the most recent being yesterday.  However, like my most of the other recipes, I had my own variations and substitutions.

Better Limeade based on Ruth Reichl’s: How to make a better lemonade article on Gilt Taste.  

For me the basic component of the entire recipe that makes it a super hit is the sugar syrup. I have been making lime and lemonades for many years before, but never this way and this is decidedly a really better tasting method.

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 2 large Lime/Lemon
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Instructions:

  • Make the sugar syrup- dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 3/4 cup of water and heat till the water is clear.
  • Turn off the heat, zest the lime/lemon and let it cool. (this can be stored in the refrigerator upto a week)
  • Add the lime juice to the water (use water per your taste and how tangy you want the drink to be).
  • Stir in sugar syrup, mix well.
  • Serve over ice and garnish with mint leaves.Image

Mango with Sweet mint pesto

This was one of the recipes on the Gilt taste that was on my must try list.  Francis Lam has a funny and witty way of telling his stories and I have always enjoyed his recipes.  The original recipe calls for using ripe peaches.  I am sure it would taste great with peaches but for now, I have abundance of mangoes in my pantry and decided to give it a try.  Turns out I was not wrong to try.  It was delicious.  I have already decided to use it as a dessert for my guests sometime. A healthier option for sure and an interesting twist to your everyday fruit.

For the Sweet mint pesto.

  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Almonds ( as in the original recipe). I used cashew nuts for this one.
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice.

Instructions:

  • Toast the nuts lightly.  Pulverize them in a processor.
  • Add mint leaves and make into a coarse paste.
  • Add lemon juice and olive oil.  Add the salt and the sugar.
  • Make sure that it is not too pasty, you would want the pesto to be able to coat all of your fruit.

The Salad:

  • Cut the mangoes into 2 inch pieces.  Arrange them in a dish.  Zest lemon all over and shake well.
  • Add the sweet mint pesto and rub evenly with your hands.
  • Chill the salad for 30 min and serve.Image

Carrot and Orange Soup

Winning points for this soup- bright, refreshing, filling and healthy.   I admit when I first heard of this soup, I was a little apprehensive about using orange juice.  I must say, that was the best part of the soup.

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Source: Anne Sheasby: Fat-free Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 sprig of cilantro with stems intact
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • Orange rind-grated
  • Orange juice from 2 oranges
  • 1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Recipe

  • Melt butter in a large pan. Add finely chopped cilantro stem, carrots and stir well, coating the vegetables with the butter.
  • Cover and cook for about 10 min, until vegetables are soft.
  • Add the stock, orange juice and the rind.  Add nutmeg powder, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to boil, reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer for about 40 min, till tender.
  • Cool and process the soup in a blender.
  • Return to heat and add yogurt. Reheat gently, stirring.
  • Ladle the soup into bowl and top off with a dollop of yogurt and garnish with cilantro.

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Pistachio & Rose Syrup Oranges

The original recipe from Anne Sheasby’s cookbook “Fat-free Vegetarian” uses rose water for this Middle Eastern dessert.  I substituted rose water for rose syrup (a slightly more concentrated and sweeter version).    A refreshing twist to the routine peeling of oranges and certainly makes it more interesting.

Pista Rose oranges

Ingredients

  • 3 large oranges
  • 2 Tbsp Rose water/Syrup in my case
  • 2 Tbsp of  pistachio nuts- roughly chopped

Recipe

  • Slice the top and bottom off the oranges to expose the flesh.  Using a serrated knife, slice down between the pith and flesh, around the fruit, to remove all the peel and the bitter pith.  Slice into regular sized rounds.  Save the juice you get while cutting the oranges.
  • Once all the oranges are cut, arrange them in a serving dish.  Mix the reserved juice with the syrup and drizzle over the cut oranges.
  • Cover with a clear wrap and chill for about 30 min.
  • Sprinkle the choppoed pistachio nuts before serving.

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Note:  You could get some more flavor by sprinkling cardamom powder along with the nuts.

 

 

 

Simple mixed vegetable rice salad

I am back after a much needed break.   My ill-health last few days has resulted in an incredible increase on unwanted weight ( I am not kidding when I say, I put on close to 11 pounds in a week, not at all good, I know).  I feel much better right now and have decided it is time to let go of the extra pounds that I gained.

Let the “diet” begin 🙂

This particular recipe is easy to make, colorful and quite wholesome by itself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Corainder
  • 2 medium tomatoes- skinned and chopped
  • Salt and pepper- to taste

Dressing:

From the original recipe:

  • 6 Tbsp low-fat French or Tomato Dressing
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Place the dressing and mustard in a screw top jar and mix well.

Note:  I used my own tomato home-made dressing:

  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet, add mustard seeds, let them splutter, add chopped tomato and a handful of coriander.  Cook till soft, add some salt and red chilli powder and blend till smooth.

Recipe:

  • Cook the rice in a pan of lightly salted boiled water for 10 min until tender but not overly cooked.
  • Drain the rice, rinse under cold running water and drain again.  Cool completely
  • Place rice in a large serving bowl.  Add the chopped vegetables.
  • Stir the dressing into the rice and adjust seasoning per taste.Untitled 7

Quinoa and Olive Salad

The inspiration for this recipe? A half can olives lying in my refrigerator, a lone carrot and some fresh homegrown mint and cilantro 🙂  Also it does not hurt to say that I am on a healthy diet regimen “again” and looking more at soups and salads these past few days.  So, here comes the Mediterranean inspired quinoa salad.  It is super-easy to prepare and has the promise of being very tasty,  healthy and filling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup-  quinoa (you can see the directions for cooking quinoa here)
  • 1 small tomato-chopped (even better are grape tomatoes- I ran out of them)
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives-chopped
  • 1  carrot- grated or sliced finely
  • Handful of slivered almonds (substitute per your liking)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro/coriander
  • Handful of chopped mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 large lemon
  •  Salt and fresh ground pepper- to taste
  • Olive oil-1 Tbsp

Instructions

  • Cook quinoa till you see the white spiral around the seed. Fluff with a fork.
  •  Add chopped tomato, carrot, olives and nuts.  Toss to combine.
  • Season with salt and ground pepper.
  • Add chopped herbs.
  • Drizzle the salad with olive oil.  Gently toss to coat.
  • Squeeze a lemon all over and toss again.
  • Serve it as it is or cold (tastes best either ways)

Quinoa Olive Salad

Spiced Quinoa with Red Pepper Coriander and mint sauce

Quinoa (pronounced as “keen-wah”) originated in the Andes region, where it was successfully domesticated 5,000 years ago for human consumption.  It is a grain-like crop (the edible portion is actually the seed) which owing to its high protein content and delicate texture has become quite popular to substitute more starchier rice and pasta.    Other than being a complete protein source, quinoa is also high in iron, magnesium, and fiber.

Ingredients:

  • Quinoa- 1 cup
  • Water- 2 cups
  • Red Bell pepper- 2 large
  • Tomato- 1 large
  • Onion- 1 medium
  • Cilantro- 1 bunch
  • Mint- 2 sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Coriander seeds- 1 tsp- optional

Cooking Quinoa:

  1. Measure 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water.
  2. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in water, soak for 5-10 min. Drain. (Washing quinoa removes a natural coating called saponin, which can make it taste bitter.
  3. Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water in a sauce pan. Add some salt, 1 tsp olive oil.  Bring to boil.
  4. Lower the heat and cook for 15-20 min until done.  You should be able to see that the quinoa has turned a little translucent and see tiny white spirals curling around the quinoa seeds.

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Red bell pepper and cilantro sauce:

  1. Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan
  2. Add chopped onion and fry till brown.
  3. Add freshly grated ginger, followed by tomato.
  4. Cut cilantro stems into pieces and add them (This is the best use I ever put my cilantro to, the stems give a great flavor, and you are bound to love it- provided you are as crazy for cilantro as me).
  5. Cook till mushy.
  6. Stir in cut bell pepper and fry for 4-5 min followed by cilantro and mint leaves.
  7. Cook for 2-3 min. Add crushed coriander seeds (optional).
  8. Grind to a smooth paste.
  9. Return to heat and cook stirring for 2 min.
  10. Add freshly crushed pepper.
  11. Adjust salt to taste.

Seasoning quinoa

  1. Add 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan and stir in finely chopped onion. Cook till browned.
  2. Add 2 tbsp on bell pepper, cilantro sauce.
  3. Cook till oil starts leaving sides.
  4. Add cooked quinoa and lightly stir to coat.
  5. Fry for 2-3 min.
  6. Transfer to a plate and serve with generous amount of sauce.

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Notes:

  • The seasoning step mentioned above is to add a little more flavor to the quinoa and can completely be omitted.
  • Some recipes call for addition of herbs like rosemary and spices like black pepper while quinoa is cooking for a little extra flavor.