Americans Celebrating Easter in Seoul

I was away from home on Easter, in Seoul, South Korea. While Easter is not a recognized holiday in South Korea, it is celebrated at the American bases. Inside the US Army base, there are Easter egg hunts, elaborate brunch buffets and kids running around in bunny costumes. I visited the the Garrison Yongsan base, which is located in the center of the capital city of Seoul, and headquarters of US military presence in South Korea. Continue reading “Americans Celebrating Easter in Seoul”

Healthy Brunch – Not Just For Sundays

Do you have days when you crave for breakfast for dinner or brunch on a weekday? I recently had one of those, where I did not want to eat the usual lunch fixings for lunch. Since I work from home, I have the luxury to cook my own meals on most days. So, on a Wednesday afternoon, I decided to do brunch! I feel like there is a certain leisurely, let-yourself-go attitude that comes with weekend brunch. We tend to indulge in high fat, sugary treats more on the weekend, than on a weekday. To keep with the tradition of eating healthy during the week, I created myself a healthy & quick brunch menu.

The menu comprised of whole wheat blueberry muffins, red pepper & goat cheese frittata, potato latkes & fresh strawberries. It took me an hour to prepare all these items, which were light yet filling. But the excitement of eating freshly baked muffins and enjoying a brunch in the middle of the week was priceless!

If you want to follow my league, here is how…

It’s best to start with the muffins, as you have time to prepare the rest of the dishes while your muffins are baking. Preheat the oven to 400F. I used a recipe I found online & modified it slightly. I added a larger quantity of fresh blueberries (1 ½ cups), some extra honey & a few toasted almonds. I filled up large muffin cups so had a yield of 9 muffins in total. Given they were made with wheat flour, no white sugar & fresh fruit; I consider them to be guilt-free! Even if you don’t make them for brunch, they are perfect for on-the-go snacks, afternoon treats or breakfast for next morning.

My version of potato latkes are inspired by something I ordered at a French bistro, La Madeline. I don’t know how they prepared them but mine are so easy, anyone could do it. In a food processor, fitted with the grating paddle, add 3 large potatoes (peeled), ½ onion & ¼ cup fresh parsley. Once completely grated, transfer to a large bowl lined with paper towels. Drain the excess water by pressing on the potato mixture with your hands, and then transfer to a clean bowl. Add 1 egg (lightly beaten), ¼ cup grated parmesan, salt & pepper. Mix well.

In a large fry pan, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat, evenly coating the pan. Take a handful of the potato mixture and flatten it in the palm of your hand, as if creating a patty. Drain out any excess water. Gently place the potato patty in the fry pan. Reduce heat to medium-low & cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Repeat the process with the rest of the potato mixture.

While the muffins & potatoes are being cooked, heat a small oven-safe wok on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoon olive oil. Lightly stir fry ½ finely diced red bell pepper. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl with some salt & pepper. Pour over the red peppers. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon chopped black olives & 4 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese on the egg. Let cook on low heat till the eggs begin to settle (about 5 minutes). Transfer the wok to the oven (which was set at 400F) & cook for another 5-7 minutes till the frittata starts to brown. Remove from wok by flipping the frittata onto a plate. Allow to cool for couple of minutes before serving.

I used fresh cut strawberries but you can serve any fruit you have lying around. In a small bowl, add 2 cups chopped strawberries with one teaspoon sugar and juice of ½ a lemon. Mix well & serve cold. You can also add blueberries to it for a delightful treat.

10 ways to eat your boiled eggs

Have a lot of leftover Easter eggs and don’t know what to do with them? Well, there is good news for you! You can use your hard boiled eggs in lots of international recipes that your family won’t get bored with. Some of these are even good for entertaining. So take a stroll around the world and see how you can expand your egg-horizon within the boundaries of your own kitchen.

 

1.      Deviled eggs – A tradition at every backyard party, but you need not stick to the basic flavors. Mix taco seasoning and a sliver of avocado. Dot some salsa on the top and serve it on a nacho. There you have a Mexican bite deviled egg.
2.     Egg Biryani – Biryani is a rice dish cooked with a meat (chicken, goat), fried onions and saffron. Boiled eggs can be sliced and used for decoration or eliminate the meat entirely and make it an egg biryani.
3.     Egg salad sandwiches – Chop the eggs in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toast bread slices, layer with a spoon of butter, lettuce, tomato and the egg salad and enjoy on a summer afternoon.
4.     Egg curry – A simple Indian style curry can be prepared with green peas and potatoes. Fry whole boiled eggs till the skin crackles and add to the curry. Serve with naan.
5.     Egg pâté – A Russian egg pate is so easy to make that you would want to take it to every summer gathering. Grind the eggs with dill, scallions, butter, mayonnaise and salt to make a paste. Pour into a mound and chill in refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, decorate with sliced cucumbers, olives and crackers.
6.     Egg pakora – Pakora is an Indian style fritter. The batter is made with gram flour, water and spices (cumin seeds, red chili powder, garam masala and salt). Cut the eggs in half and dip each piece in the batter. Deep fry in a wok with vegetable or canola oil until golden brown. Serve as a snack with mint chutney.
7.      Eggplant parmesan – Make traditional eggplant parmesan with slices of fried eggplant, layered with slices on mozzarella, marinara sauce and sprinkled diced boiled eggs. Top the final layer with sauce and bake in a 35oF oven for 30 minutes.
8.     Use in salads – Adding protein to any salad makes it a more wholesome meal. Add sliced or halves boiled eggs to potato salad, spinach salad or a smoked salmon salad.
9.     Meat balls and patties – Sounds strange but mashed up boiled eggs do magic to your meat. It makes it soft, retains the moisture and adds more flavor. For meatballs, combine ground beef, onions, parsley, eggs, bread crumbs, fresh garlic cloves, paprika and salt. Grind all the ingredients in a food processor till chunky but not mushy. Shape into balls and pan fry with olive oil till completely cooked.
10. Nicoise salad – The French version of the American Cobb salad, the Nicoise salad makes a complete and healthy meal. Use light vinaigrette and honey mustard dressings for the veggies before plating them. Place canned tuna meat, cooked whole green beans, and boiled potatoes on a plate lined with lettuce leaves. Decorate with olives, cut tomatoes, slices red onions and quartered boiled eggs.

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What to do with leftover Easter chocolates?

Ever had a problem with too much chocolate left over from Easter? I do! Every year, I am left with certain varieties that I don’t particularly enjoy and end up with a stock in my pantry.

Like everything else, chocolate too has a shelf life. If stored properly, it can last as long as a year. But who wants to wait that long?

Use your chocolate in baking. You don’t always need to buy morsels or baking chocolate, most candy bars work fine. Here is a simple recipe that takes only a few minutes to prepare. You will find most, if not all ingredients at hand already. It makes a special treat and your guests would think you have spent hours making it.

Easiest Chocolate Soufflé (serves 4)

¾ cup chocolate (chopped up) You can use semi sweet, milk or dark as you prefer.

4 oz butter

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

6 tablespoon all purpose flour

In a microwave safe bowl, mix the butter and chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Gently stir and let cool. In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar and flour. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well. Spray 4 small ramekins with cooking or baking spray. Fill each ramekin with chocolate mixture dividing evenly. Don’t fill more than 2/3rd of the way. Bake in oven at 400F for 20 minutes. The soufflé will rise up. Sprinkle powdered sugar, decorate with berries and serve immediately.

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