Category Archives: Salads

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad

I know, that’s a long title!

It’s really hard to name a dish that is an amalgamation of so many different ideas, so I decided to just state what it is rather than a coin a word or phrase. But you must agree; it does read like a dish out of a fancy restaurant menu.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

I love to visit and browse around artisan food stores, especially those that stock small batches of ingredients or products by local food producers. One such amazing place I discovered last year was Craft & Co. I was invited to their annual Christmas Market, which was an amazing experience as I got to learn about so many unique handcraft food products and also have a chit chat with their makers.

Now this can be a highly inspiring experience, something you will not get when you buy a product off a supermarket shelf. When you have a chat with these food producers, you will be amazed at the passion they have for their products. Sometimes it’s just one product; for eg: a lady might be selling jam but then that would be a recipe that she has perfected over many years, completely handmade and bottled. She would use the best quality ingredients when in season and make small batches. And make it again next year when the particular fruit is back in season. That’s how food used to be generations ago…..local and what’s available in season.

While there were so many products on display, I was quite drawn to Red Rock Olives. Excellent quality olives and olive oils but what really caught my attention was the ‘olive salt’. Now I had never heard of an olive salt till then and I was so intrigued by how it would taste.

The lady at the counter (sorry dear, I forgot your name though I remember your beautiful smile) sensed my interest and encouraged me to try some. She asked me to dip a sourdough piece first in olive oil and then a bit of salt before tasting. It was quite different to anything I had tasted before; at first, you get the hit of salt which then gives way to the tangy familiar taste of olives. It’s subtle but it’s there….

So I bought two bottles of Red Rock olive salts, the ordinary olive salt and the chilli infused one. The ordinary one was part of a giveaway I did last Christmas and the chilli infused one, I kept for my personal needs.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I have used it so many times before, I somehow never managed to do a recipe for the blog. And since it’s a product I really enjoyed using, I thought of sharing it with you guys. This post is not sponsored, just me telling all of you about this amazing product. And if you are visiting the Grampians, do visit Red Rock; I have heard it is a stunning place.

Today’s recipe is actually a super simple one in spite of the long name. I used salmon fillets and marinated it with some of the olive salt, sweet paprika, olive oil and then pan fried it. The couscous salad is again a no brainer, but a delicious one since it works as a salad and side. Great option for lunch boxes!

The butter sauce is not strictly necessary but I wanted to add more flavour. Again, extremely easy….

The whole dish comes together in under an hour, and works perfectly as a midweek dinner.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Note – The olive salts (and other olive products) can be purchased from the Red Rock website. And of those who cannot get their hands on this, you can still make this dish by using any sort of marinade or dry rub for the salmon.

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

  1. 6 salmon fillets (with skin)
  2. 1 ½ tsp Red Rock olive salt
  3. 1 tsp sweet paprika
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil

For the butter sauce:

  1. 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 2 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  3. ½ large red chilli (less heat variety)

For the couscous salad:

  1. 1 cup cooked couscous
  2. 1 medium red onion; sliced
  3. 6 cherry tomatoes; halved
  4. 6 baby radish; sliced
  5. 1 small Lebanese cucumber; sliced
  6. A handful of green olives; chopped
  7. 1 medium yellow bell pepper; sliced
  8. A handful of capers
  9. ½ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
  10. Juice of ½ lemon
  11. Salt; to season
  12. Freshly cracked black pepper; to season

Method:

Salmon:

  1. Make sure that all the fish bones are removed, wash and pat dry.
  2. Add the olive salt, paprika and olive oil to the salmon; rub well all over and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a pan and pan fry the salmon fillets in batches. Since you have already added oil to the marinade, extra oil is not needed but you can add more depending on the type of pan you are using. Also fry skin side first to get really crispy skin.

Butter sauce:

  1. Add the butter, garlic cloves and chillies to a cold pan and place on low heat. Let the flavours infuse into the butter slowly so make sure it’s on the lowest heat.
  2. Remove when the butter starts to take on a light brown colour.

Couscous salad:

Prepare the couscous as per packet instructions or you can follow this method which works for me every single time.

  1. For 1 cup couscous, use 1 ½ cups water. Bring the water to boil, season lightly with salt and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the water starts to boil, add the couscous, mix well and take off heat. Keep covered for 5 minutes. Open the lid and gently fluff the couscous using a fork. Transfer to a flat plate or container to cool the couscous faster or the ambient heat can overcook.
  2. Once cooled, add all the veggies to the couscous and refrigerate till it’s time to serve.
  3. Just before serving, add the lemon juice, parsley; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss well.

To serve, spoon a portion of the salad on the plate, place a salmon fillet and drizzle with a little butter sauce on top. Tuck in!

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

If you follow me on Insta stories, you would have seen my weekly cookbook series. I do not have a huge collection but a handful of old, new and trusted ones that I cook from often. And last week, I had spoken to you about ‘The Food & Wine Lover’s Guide to Melbourne and Surroundings’.

Whenever we take a holiday in and around Melbourne, I always try to incorporate a bit of food wine experience into it. A visit to a farm, local food store, farmer’s market, restaurant or winery….something unique that celebrates the region. And this book has come handy on so many occasions for this purpose.

The book also features a few recipes from Chefs, restaurants and food producers of different regions. This salad really stood out to me because of the combination of flavours. Tomato and mozzarella is a classic combination but the addition of fire roasted bell peppers, watercress and the mustard dressing takes it to a whole new level.

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

What I loved most about this dish is that it can be served as a salad or as a side dish to grilled fish, meat or perhaps some grilled paneer/tofu. It’s warm and so full of flavour that makes it a delight even during the colder months. We enjoyed it as a salad with our Indian thali and also as a side with grilled fish, both times equally enjoyable and delicious.

This salad is all about the freshness and quality of ingredients. And using different varieties of tomatoes makes it all the more delicious. If you have a local deli nearby, then that’s probably the best place to get your hands on the buffalo mozzarella. I prefer fire roasting over oven roasting whenever possible; that burnt smoky flavour is hard to replicate completely inside an oven. But you can roast the bell peppers any way you wish to. Roast just enough to char the outsides but the flesh inside still has a bite to it.

Roasting bell pepper - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Enough said! Let’s get on with the recipe….

Ingredients:

  1. 1 heirloom tomato; sliced
  2. 1 ox heart tomato; sliced
  3. 1 medium red bell pepper
  4. 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  5. 1 large mozzarella ball
  6. ½ cup picked watercress
  7. 1 tsp seeded mustard dressing
  8. Olive oil
  9. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  1. Roast both the bell peppers over an open flame till nicely charred all around. Cover with a cloth for a few minutes before peeling off the skin (this makes the process easier). Deseed the bell peppers and slice into thin strips. Alternatively, oven roast the bell peppers and then do the same.
  2. Cut the mozzarella ball into wedges and keep aside.
  3. In a bowl, add the sliced bell peppers, mustard dressing and watercress.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan and flash fry the sliced tomatoes for a few seconds, season with salt.
  5. Cool slightly and add the tomatoes to the bell peppers along with the mozzarella wedges.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss lightly.
  7. Serve immediately.

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing

It’s been a pretty ‘meh’ week so far and I can’t wait for it to get over. My health took a beating and what followed were days of extreme fatigue and tiredness. And I think when women fall sick, we tend to suffer more emotionally than physically.

The week actually started off on a really good note. On Monday, I went on an impromptu lunch date with two of my girlfriends and we had a really good time. Those stolen couple of hours for ourselves were a blessing in our otherwise harried lives. But the euphoria didn’t last long because by the end of the day, I started feeling weak and terrible.

I hardly got any cooking done, surviving on takeaways and basics the whole week. I am quite behind on deadlines but I really couldn’t care less. A big lesson I have learnt is to listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to and I am doing just that. And since I hadn’t tried out anything new, I decided to share with you guys a gorgeous salad that I did a while ago for a client – a Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

If you like delicate flavours, then you will love this crab salad. It’s light and summery with a hint of heat from the chillies and aromatics. And that fresh herb dressing only adds to the sweetness of the crab meat.

Purchasing crab meat can be an expensive affair and I would recommend getting those huge mud crabs and taking the meat out yourself. A bit time consuming but way more affordable. And if you have kids, get them onto it…will keep them silent for a while though you might end up with shells all around.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Excellent as a refreshing salad on its own, but it can become the most gorgeous looking party canapé just as easily. I used fried Indian pappads to become a crunchy vehicle for this beautiful salad. You can find all sorts of small sized pappads in Indian stores (sometimes in major supermarkets too). I used the masala pappads for that extra dash of flavour but you can use plain/pepper or cumin studded ones. Generally as an accompaniment, I tend to roast the pappads but for a canapé, I prefer fried as it stays crisp for longer.

You could also opt for crackers or mild flavoured potato crisps….anything crispy that doesn’t overtake the sweet freshness of the salad. A glass of sparkling and this pretty canapé is bound to get conversation flowing….

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

And as always, I love to hear from you when you have tried any of my recipes. Feel free to drop a comment, mail or share on social media (remember #thespiceadventuress so that I will not miss it). Have a great weekend folks!

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms white crab meat
  2. 1 small Lebanese cucumber; chopped finely

Read the full recipe here…..

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

Grilled Steak (with curry flavoured smoked sea salt) with Chimichurri Salsa and Fennel Salad (dressed with strawberry port wine vinaigrette)

Quite a mouthful title, isn’t it?

It had to be because today’s post is my dedication to the farmers and food and wine producers of the panoramic Yarra Valley.

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Travel, for me, is not about just visiting a destination. It is about the whole experience of discovering what that place has to be offer, albeit at a small level. It is about bringing back not just memories but also intimate knowledge about the culture, food and life of that region. So when I got this amazing opportunity to visit Yarra Valley as part of the regional food group tour, I bought back some incredible food products and wine using which I created today’s recipe.

From the Gateway Estate, I bought home this bottle of strawberry port wine which I used to make the salad dressing. I really wanted to bring back some dry aged steak but unfortunately travelling by public transport didn’t allow me that luxury.

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While walking around the regional farmer’s market at Yering Station, I came across the Smoke and Roast stall. Getting to hear about my fascination with spices and the like, the owner offered me a sample of their signature curry flavoured smoked sea salt which I have used in today’s recipe as the spice rub for my steak. I also bought a pack of their original smoked sea salt and this gorgeous looking salt container.

While I have used plenty of smoked sea salts before, I have never come across a curry flavoured one. Bang on flavour; totally recommend this one for your spice pantry.

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I also picked up a bottle of Yering Station ‘Old Beenak Road’ Shiraz 2013. A single vineyard wine, I could not have asked for a better pairing to my steak. It was rich yet velvety and smooth with the hint of ripe blackberry fruit and peppercorn spices. The wine tasting session did improve my knowledge and helped me pick a really good bottle.

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Our final stop in the journey was at the Locavore Studio from where I didn’t bring back a product but rather recipes and cooking skills. I learnt to cook the perfect steak and also picked up a great chimichurri salsa recipe, both of which are put to use today.

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Usually I photograph the food for the blog beforehand for optimal light conditions. But today, I am inviting you to our dinner table – no unwanted props or stylized food; this is how we eat whenever I make something special at home.

So come along on this delicious journey……

Ingredients:

For the fennel salad:

1. 2 cups mixed salad leaves
2. 1 fennel (white bulb); sliced lengthwise finely
3. 1 small red bell pepper; sliced lengthwise finely
4. 1 small red onion; sliced lengthwise finely
5. Fennel fronds; for garnish
6. For the vinaigrette:
• 4 tbsp strawberry port wine
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Salt, to season
• Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you do not have strawberry port wine, use vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic or any other port wine. Orange juice is also a great one to experiment with.

For the chimichurri salsa:

1. 1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves; finely chopped
2. 1 cup fresh coriander; finely chopped
3. 3-4 fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
4. 1 garlic clove; crushed and finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp strawberry port wine (red wine vinegar can also be used)
6. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
7. Salt, to season
8. Dried chilli flakes; a pinch (or more to suit your preferences)

For the steak:

1. 3 Scotch fillet steaks (the best quality you can buy)
2. Smoked curry flavoured sea salt rub
3. Olive oil
4. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you cannot get the smoked sea salt rub, use any spice rub of your choice or just salt and pepper.

Method:

To prepare the salad:

• Cut all the vegetables and place in a bowl. Refrigerate till serving time.
• To prepare the dressing, mix all the ingredients given under vinaigrette. Vigorously shake well to form an emulsion and keep aside.
• Dress the salad just before serving (remember to shake the vinaigrette again) and garnish with fennel fronds.

To prepare the chimichurri:

Combine the chopped leaves, garlic, port wine, olive oil, salt and chilli flakes. Taste and adjust balance if necessary. Refrigerate till serving time.

To prepare the steak:

• Heat the grill to smoking hot; most people make the mistake of not heating the grill enough so make sure its smoking hot.
• Crush the smoked sea salt lightly (the salt crystals were chunky).
• Rub olive oil onto both sides of the steak well and then rub the smoked sea salt all over the steak.
• Place the steak pieces on the grill lengthwise; after a minute turn the steak breadthwise on the same side to get the nice criss cross marks. Half a minute later, flip the steaks over and repeat the same (almost one minute each). This is an approximate time for a medium done steak.
• Remove and rest for 1-2 minutes before serving.

Note:
• If you prefer medium well, then place in the oven at 180°C for 2-3 minutes.
• Timings are always an approximate as the cooking times will vary according to the cut and quality of meat that you are using. So go by the feel of the meat and cook to your preferences.

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Grilled Fennel, Walnut and Cherry Tomato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Aioli

Spring is finally here and I am so happy to see my toes again after a long, almost endless bleak winter.

The cherry blossoms lining my street, the fresh vibrant produce in the markets, the skirts,singlets and thongs are all making me very happy. And I wanted to try and create something light and vibrant to capture the essence of this beautiful season. But I also wanted it to be more than a regular salad. I wanted it to make a statement when it arrives on the table. A bit of fancy, but oh so simple!

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This is my first time cooking with fennel and I wonder why did I put off using such a beautiful vegetable till now. Fennel has such a delicious crisp and fresh texture; an amazing ingredient that can be used in so many ways in your cooking.

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Today, I am keeping it simple; just grilling the fennel to lend a nice charred flavour yet retaining its crunchy texture. The cherry tomatoes are also lightly blistered on the grill but not taking it too far as I wanted that pop of fresh sweetness in the mouth. Splashes of green from the Lebanese cucumbers and rocket, a nutty edge from the roasted walnuts, shavings of good quality Parmigiano Reggiano and finally finished off with a generous drizzle of fresh turmeric aioli.

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The fresh turmeric aioli was a last minute inspiration. I wanted more than a simple vinaigrette dressing; something creamy yet with refreshing flavours. And then I remembered a conversation that I had with a couple of my social media friends about the use of fresh turmeric. I usually use fresh turmeric grated into my morning smoothie and so when I had posted the same, many of my friends wanted to know how else to incorporate fresh turmeric into everyday cooking as it is a powerful immune booster.

And thus, this turmeric aioli happened. This one can be whipped up in no time and keeps well in the fridge for use in sandwiches or tacos. I kept the texture slightly on the runny side (not as thick as mayo) as I was using it for a salad.

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So here’s how you can re-create my grilled fennel, walnut and cherry tomato salad with fresh turmeric aioli. A gorgeous salad with fresh vibrant flavours….

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Ingredients:

1. 1 large fennel
2. 1 punnet cherry tomatoes; halved (keep a few whole for aesthetic purposes)
3. 1 Lebanese cucumber
4. ½ cup walnuts
5. Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) block
6. 1 cup rocket leaves
7. Macrobiotic sea salt, to season (use regular salt if this is not available)
8. Freshly milled black pepper
9. 2 tbsp olive oil
10. Fennel fronds, to garnish
11. Fresh turmeric aioli, to dress the salad

To make fresh turmeric aioli:

1. ½ inch fresh turmeric root
2. 1 egg yolk
3. 1 lemon
4. Salt, to season
5. Vegetable oil (at least 2-3 cups)

Method:

To prepare the aioli:

1. In a food processor, add the egg yolk and squeeze in juice from half a lemon. Season with salt.
2. Blitz the mixture and add oil slowly through the top to start the emulsification process.
3. As the mixture starts to emulsify and thicken, add a pinch of grated fresh turmeric. Blitz with more oil till desired consistency is achieved.
4. Taste and adjust; if less tangy add more lemon juice. If you feel that the turmeric flavour is not coming through, then add a pinch more and blitz for a few seconds. Taste and repeat if necessary.
5. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Note – Fresh turmeric has a very strong flavour which is why it must be added in extremely small quantities.

If you would like to see a video of making aioli; then I liked this one.

Aioli can be made without a food processor; just whip the hell out using your whisk or egg beater.

To prepare the salad:

1. Remove the fronds from the fennel and keep aside (used later to garnish the salad). Cut the fennel bulb into medium thick slices.
2. Heat the grill to smoking hot. Brush the fennel slices lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Grill on high heat for a couple of seconds on either side to get a nice char but still retain the crispness of the fennel.
3. On the same grill, grill the tomatoes for a few seconds. We just need a blister on the tomatoes and do not want it to go mushy.
4. Slice the cucumbers using a mandolin or peeler to get thin strips.
5. Roast the walnuts in a pan; take care not to burn.
6. To assemble; place a handful of rocket leaves on a plate and line two slices of grilled fennel on top. Add a couple of cherry tomatoes and walnuts. Roll 1-2 cucumber slices and place it on the plate. Add 2-3 shavings of Parmesan and garnish with fennel fronds; then dress lightly with a few spoonfuls of turmeric aioli. Finally sprinkle the macrobiotic sea salt and black pepper on top.
7. It is not necessary to plate the salad in this manner; use your own creativity and I am sure you will come up with even better results.

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And if you haven’t already read about all the excitement through my social media channels, I recently bought my first DSLR and this post is the first I shot with it. Notice any differences?

Behind the scenes with my new baby.....

Behind the scenes with my new baby…..

Ethiopian Tomato Salad

There’s a new salsa in town!

Yes, I am talking of this humble Ethiopian tomato salad which has become our homestead’s current salsa fixation.

Similar ingredients…yet not similar flavours, the signature flavour that marks this tomato salad different from a traditional salsa is ginger.

Vegetarian meals are quite common in Ethiopia; simple and humble meals yet packed with flavour making the best use of ingredients available locally. Some of the common dishes that make up a traditional Ethiopian vegetarian platter is the yemisir wot – an oily red lentil stew generously spiced, yekik alicha – a yellow split pea stew flavoured with turmeric, tikil gomen – carrots, potatoes and cabbage simmered in a turmeric sauce.

Simple salads are also an integral part of the platter, this Ethiopian tomato salad being an example. And of course, no meal is complete without the breaking of the injera.

Much like the Indian style of eating, Ethiopians believe in a communal meal – friends and family coming together around the food. And fancy cutlery has no place here, pieces of injera are broken and the fingers are deftly used to scoop up the lentils, stews and salads. Eating with your hands might seem like the most natural thing for those who are used to it but for our Western counterparts, this can often be the most challenging part of a meal.

I found some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the market and used these for this salad. I used both the green and red varieties but you could use just regular tomatoes. Also, I love chunky pieces of tomatoes in my salsa/salad instead of the saucy types so I went for a rough chop.

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Like I mentioned, the signature or defining flavour of this Ethiopian tomato salad comes from ginger. Grated ginger is added to olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to make a flavourful dressing for the tomatoes. And for that touch of heat, chopped yellow onions and fresh jalapenos!

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This Ethiopian tomato salad recipe comes from here.


Ingredients:

1. 3 large heirloom tomatoes; roughly chopped
2. 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (use white or red if you cannot find yellow)
3. 2 fresh jalapenos, finely chopped (deseed if you wish to)

For the dressing:

4. 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5. 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6. 1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger
7. Salt, to season
8. Black pepper, to season

Method:

1. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and keep aside.
2. Mix the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos in a large bowl.
3. Add the dressing and mix well just before serving.

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Enjoy it as a traditional salad or as a chunky salsa….I did both!

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Cherry Tomato Salad

This is the perfect summer salad for me! Simple, delicious and pretty…

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I love cherry tomatoes; the burst of slightly tangy, slightly sweet freshness when you bite into these red beauties. The wonders of nature so delicately captured!

This cherry tomato salad is perfect with your summer barbecues, a much needed freshness to grilled meats or seafood. It makes the perfect antipasto too or sitting enticingly on your cheese platter. So if you are entertaining this festive season, then this one is a must-try.

Simple ingredients yet when bought together produce magic on a plate, but then the best food is always the simplest…..

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The only indulgence to this already perfect recipe was that I used Macrobiotic sea salt, a sample of which was given to me by ‘The Spice People’. This is a natural and extremely healthy sea salt that has been hand harvested from the Great Barrier Reef. But you could use any salt that you want to, even the humble table salt is good enough for this amazing cherry tomato salad.

Shallots, red wine vinegar, pepper, salt and chives….a delicious summery vinaigrette encompasses these perfect cherry red tomatoes adding a flavour dimension that explodes in your mouth, every single bite.

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This recipe is from Bon Appetit, a great online source for food enthusiasts.

Ingredients:

1. 500 gms cherry tomatoes; get the freshest you can find
2. 4 tbsp olive oil
3. 1-2 shallots, finely chopped
4. 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5. 2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
6. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
7. Macrobiotic sea salt, to season

Method:

1. Leave half of the cherry tomatoes whole and cut the rest into halves.
2. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the shallots; sauté lightly till soft.
3. Then add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes; just get the tomatoes slightly soft but not really to turn it mushy.
4. Add 1 tbsp vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
5. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.
6. Add the remaining olive oil and garnish with the chopped chives.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Stuffed Cucumber Salad

For a person who has an insane passion for all things food, many find it incredibly surprising that I own very few cookbooks. I have 4 books, pertaining to food!

And this is even more surprising for those who know that reading is my biggest hobby, one that I share in equal measure with my boys. But whilst we have a huge collection of other books, I have never found myself wanting any cookbooks.

But I find that slowly changing now; guess the passion is becoming an obsession and I do gravitate towards the food section every time I am in a bookstore now. The cookbooks that fascinate me the most are ones from the yesteryears; most of these do not have any amazing photography, exotic ingredients or cooking styles. But these books do have a wealth of information and stays true to the writer’s background, culture and tradition.

And one of the best places to find such treasures is at my local Red Cross charity shop. One man’s waste is another’s treasure! You can find me at least once a month here and I come home laden with vintage props, table cloths, cookbooks etc… You will find things here that are impossible to come across in a regular store and at such incredibly low prices.

One of my favourite cookbooks that I purchased from here is Marguerite Patten’s 1000 Favourite Recipes (and shhh, the book just costed me a dollar!)

A thousand recipes…….and that’s where this stuffed cucumber salad comes from.

This stuffed cucumber salad is the perfect canapé for your spring/summer party. It is easy to make, refreshing, delicious, looks pretty and stylish too.

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I made a few changes to the originally outlined recipe and created my stuffing using boiled eggs, tomatoes, feta, parsley and chives. Pick out the freshest cucumbers that you can find and go for ones with slightly thicker skins so that it holds shape. And to get a contrasting look, I peeled the skin of the cucumber in an alternate fashion.

So let’s get to making stuffed cucumber salad – refreshing crunchy cucumber slices filled with soft mashed eggs, tangy sweet tomatoes, salty creamy feta and fresh herbs.

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Ingredients:

1. 1 large, thick (not the overripe ones) cucumber
2. Salt, to season
3. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
4. 1 tbsp lemon juice
5. For the filling;
• 2 boiled eggs
• 1 tomato, blanched, skinned and chopped finely
• 2 tbsp feta cheese
• 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
• 1 tbsp chives, chopped
• 1 tbsp mayonnaise

Method:

1. Peel the cucumber skin in alternate strips as shown in the picture. This is not mandatory but adds to the visual appeal of the finished dish.
2. Cut the cucumber into thick circles; scoop out the seeded part in the centre leaving just a thin layer at the bottom to hold the stuffing.
3. Season the cucumber slices with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This also helps to draw out the excess water and firms up the cucumber a bit.
4. To prepare the filling, mix the eggs, tomatoes, herbs, mayonnaise and then sprinkle in the feta. Mix well to form a creamy texture; if you think the mixture is runny, then add more eggs or cheese to firm it up.
5. To assemble, line the cucumber pieces, fill with the stuffing and garnish with chives. Place in a platter and refrigerate till serving time.

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There’s just one more day remaining for my first blog anniversary giveaway to end. Have your taken part?

Celebrating Summer with Mango Salsa

Recently, I came across this online article by Marissa Jayne and this got me thinking about the ways in which I can be a better woman and not just a better person. We often get to read about women being the weaker sex, being exploited etc… But very few talk about the other side of the coin – women who are their own enemies!

Marissa talks about nine different ways in which you can better yourself as a woman and I so totally agree with each one of these. But the most meaningful one for me, especially in today’s times, is the first point – ‘stop the shit talking!’

We are quick to judge, especially other women. All of us have done it at some point, including me. Every time we see another woman, we want to comment about her looks, her clothes, hair, the way she talks, the way she brings up her kids etc…., not once thinking that she too is just another woman like you with strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, likes, dislikes, trying so hard to be the best that she can in her own way. But by being aware of this tendency to judge and consciously refraining from it as much as possible has definitely helped me become a better woman. I believe it has helped me become a happier and more content woman, strengthened me and earned me immense respect from others of the tribe.

Marissa has not really written anything new; but she has definitely helped to remind us once again why and how we can be better women.

Coming to today’s recipe, it is an easy and very common one that you would have come across many times. I want to put it up on the blog because I simply love it and I am always making variations of this salsa with whichever fruit is in season. You should try it with peaches and pineapple too.

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I like to add a slight Indian-ness to my salsa with black salt and chaat masala. Both are easily available at all Indian grocers these days. It adds a slight tang to the whole salad lifting up the sweet and spicy tones to a whole new level. I know I have added chillies; yes, two whole ones but you can either skip it or add less.

And I love to serve this salsa with wheat wafers or roasted Indian pappads.

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Ingredients:

1. Ripe mango – 1, finely diced
2. Red onion – 1 medium, finely diced
3. Ripe, red tomato – 1 medium, deseeded and finely diced
4. Lebanese cucumber – 1 medium, finely chopped
5. Green chilli (I like it hot!) – 2, finely chopped
6. Lemon juice – to taste
7. Coriander leaves – ½ cup, finely chopped
8. Black salt/kala namak – a pinch
9. Sea salt – to season
10. Chaat masala – ¼ tsp

Method:

This one should be the easiest salad to make.

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl with a tight lid and season with black salt, sea salt and chat masala.
2. Close the lid and shake vigorously to combine.
3. Keep refrigerated till serving time.

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Hope all of you have noticed my new blog name; more on it later as I am still working on the URL. But do let me know your frank opinions and comments.

Spicy Green Salad

I love to window shop! In fact, I can spend countless hours walking in and out of shops, browsing the innumerable shelves, ogling at window displays, checking out prices, deals, discounts, bargains…ohh!

Now there is a huge difference between actual shopping and window shopping. The former is not always a positive experience; you need to fire up your grey cells figuring out what you actually need and what you don’t and finally (even after using up all the brains you have) end up blowing your hard earned money buying stuff you didn’t actually need.

But on the other hand, window shopping can be a very positive and therapeutic exercise. It gives you hope, allows you to dream – to work harder and save even harder to make money and buy all that you ogled at. And dreams are good – as the wise say, ‘a man is dead without his dreams.’ Ok, in practical words – get your act together, your bank balance has hit rock bottom.

Window shopping actually allows you to save a bit of money, because you always think that you can find a better product or a better deal at another ‘window’ and you move on without actually buying anything.

And it keeps you in top shape! All that walking is good for your heart, tones up your muscles, keeps you svelte. Just remember to wear sensible shoes though!

And it keeps boredom at bay!

So I am off to yet another mall (a new one!) for my weekly fix of window shopping. Ooh! I love this life….

And if all this sounds like a truckload of crap, let’s just jump over to today’s dish.

About today’s dish, the name says it all, doesn’t it? For all who thought salads are bland, here is a spicy revelation.

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for tons of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

When I first read this recipe, it excited me beyond measure because I have never really had a salad that has a spice quotient to it. This is a spicy salad but that does not mean it has the numbing, fiery heat that takes away from the flavour of the vegetables. And flavour means that my family would eat a bowl of greens happily!

This salad is quite versatile and can be paired in so many ways. Goes beautifully with this delicious crispy grilled chicken or maybe this salmon fry or perhaps these juicy sardines.

A bowl of greens - food photography and styling - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for tons of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium broccoli; cut into florets
  2. 50gm snow peas
  3. 6 green asparagus; cut into half (remove the thicker bottom part and peel the outer skin lightly)
  4. 1 purple carrot; ribbons (no fancy equipment required; a peeler would do)
  5. 8 green beans
  6. Mixed greens; a good handful
  7. 1 lebanese cucumber; sliced diagonally
  8. 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; chopped
  9. 1 tbsp spring onion (green part)

For the dressing:

  1. 2 tbsp sesame oil
  2. 3 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
  3. 2 spring onion (white part); finely chopped
  4. 2 garlic; finely chopped
  5. 2 dry chilli; broken into bits (reduce quantity if you desire less heat)
  6. ½ tsp coriander powder
  7. ½ tsp ginger; grated
  8. Juice of 1 lemon
  9. Salt; to season

Method:

  • Blanch the vegetables like broccoli, green beans, snow peas and asparagus. Remove into a bowl of ice cold water to keep it crunchy. After a few minutes, strain and keep aside.
  • Heat sunflower oil in a pan and lightly brown the garlic. Add the spring onions, dry chilli, coriander powder and ginger. Remove from heat, cool and add sesame oil and lemon juice. Season with salt.
  • Place all the vegetables in a bowl and add the dressing just before serving; toss through with love and care.

Note – You can use any type of vegetable for this salad; so choose what’s in season depending on where you live.

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for a ton of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

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