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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A taste of Italy a casa mia

The Italian language club, Ciancia met at my place last night. I have to say it was one of my most memorable evenings. Not sure if it was because of the wine, the food, or the conversations, or a combination of all of the above.

I prepared some wine and cheese platters, antipasto, penne arrabiata and fettuccini with white truffles. A good friend had gifted me a jar of fresh white truffles for my birthday, which I decided to use on this special occasion. I made a simple sauce of butter, cream, salt and pepper. Then I tossed it with the fettuccini and grated parmesan. Finally, I shaved the truffles on top and then gently tossed the pasta before serving.

People from all walks of life gathered in interest of a mutual passion for Italian food and language. The linguistic skills ranged from zero to native, so you could join in a conversation of your aptitude. Each person was required to bring a bottle of Italian wine, a dish or pay $10. We had an upside down moussaka, penne with meat sauce, salads and endless bottles of red and white wines.  

The grand finale was my home made Gelato in three flavors – chocolate, mango and maple-walnut. I could not find a recipe for mango Gelato anywhere, so came up with my own. Needless to say, it was over before you knew it!

The crowd was very diverse and eclectic. We talked about everything from food, travel, music, living abroad, volunteering, to spiritually and business. I feel like I made some really good friends who share many mutual interests.

We wrapped up the evening at midnight, by when my feet were desperately asking for some rest. I went to bed with the lingering sweet taste of truffles in my mouth.

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Mango Gelato Recipe

Make the plain base and refrigerate overnight

Peel 2 ripe large mangos, take all the pulp out into a bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, add all the mango pulp and 1 cup of the plain base in a blender. Blend until the mango is completely pureed and no chunks are remaining. Whisk into the rest of the plain base. Churn in ice cream machine for 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Pizza with Pizzazz

Instead of going out with friends for dinner, this Saturday night, I decided to host a pizza party at home. It wasn’t your typical order delivery and drink beer, rather a more mature and sophisticated pizza party for refined adults.

I bought fresh ingredients including pizza dough and toppings to make two different kinds of pizzas. The guests got a hands-on lesson in pizza making and were in the kitchen making pizza. We talked and cooking over a bottle of Chianti, making the evening more enjoyable and relaxed.

The first one we made was an eggplant goat cheese and pesto pizza. First, we sliced 1 medium eggplant into ¼ inch slices and lightly fried them in olive oil, until brown on both sides. Meanwhile, we finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic and rolled out our pizza dough onto a pizza stone. We first coated the sides of the pizza dough with olive oil, and then sprinkled the chopped garlic on top. The fried eggplant slices were arranged in a circle so that the entire surface was covered. This went in a 375F oven for 15 minutes. While we waited, we made a quick pesto using Knorr pesto sauce mix. Just followed the directions on the package. We then sprinkled the sauce over the pizza and added about 3 oz crumbled goat cheese. Now it was time to let it bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the crust was golden brown.

The second pizza was relatively simple as you didn’t need to cook the toppings. We used multi-grain dough to make the base. This time we used Knorr’s four cheese sauce mix and spread it evenly on the rolled out dough. We first baked the pizza throughout for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on the edges. For the toppings, we sprinkles ½ cups finely chopped purple onions, 2 tablespoon capers and 6 oz sliced smoked salmon. (You could even add fresh arugula leaves to it if you like.) This was our smoked salmon pizza.

Both pizzas were significantly different from each other and what you traditionally eat at pizzerias, but were delicious! The guests enjoyed it, learned something new and had a memorable dinner experience. It’s another example of how you can makeover a regular family meal into something with more pizzazz.

Making Gelato at home

Making Gelato at home takes time and commitment. It is not difficult, but needs some advance planning. Here is a basic recipe to make your own Dulce De Leche Gelato.

The first step is to make a base. This can be plain (which will be used in most flavors) or chocolate.

1. Combine 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream in a saucepan, with a cooking thermometer attached. Place over medium-high heat and cook stirring occasionally, until it reaches 170F.

2. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, whisk 4 egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar, until mixture is thick and pale yellow.  Temper the eggs by adding the milk mixture one soup spoonful at a time, while whisking constantly.

3. Return the custard to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 185F. At no point the custard should bowl or form skin on the top.

4. Pour the custard through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Let cool at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight. At this point, your freezer bowl (if using one) should be kept in the freezer overnight.

5.The following day, blend half of the custard mixture with ½ cup of Dulce le Leche (I use Nestle) but you can make your own with condensed milk. Blend until smooth, then whisk in the remaining custard. Pour into the ice cream machine and let it churn for 30 minutes (or as directed by your particular machine).

6. Warm ½ cup of Dulce le Leche in a microwave safe bowl. Drizzle it over the churned Gelato and let it churn for another 5 minutes. Transfer to an air tight, freezer safe bowl. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Enjoy with a cookie, over a dessert or by itself!

Tips on making homemade Gelato

          I have been making my own Gelato from scratch since last summer. It is a two-day labor-intensive but very rewarding process.  I have a new appreciation for it now that I am making my own. First thing I learned was Gelato is relatively healthier than ice-cream. Whereas ice-cream is made with 100% cream, Gelato is 1/3 cream and 2/3 whole milk. Also, one of the ingredients for Gelato is egg yolks, so it is not a strict vegetarian dessert.

Gelato making process is very similar to that of custard. In fact, some places in U.S. serve Frozen Custard, which is a similar concept.

It tastes best fresh but needs to be consumed within a week of preparation. Obviously, if you add preservatives and store in commercial refrigerators, different rules would apply. In casa mia, Gelato è servito fresco.

Gelato can be made at home in small batches only. I have a small machine that makes 2 Quarts max. I usually make 1 Quart at a time which fits comfortably in the freezer bowl and the storage containers. It serves 8-10 scoops.

I use only fresh ingredients – no frozen fruits, or pre-ground nuts. You can definitely taste the flavor of the ingredients. Occasionally, I do cheat and use grated coconut flakes or dulce de leche from a can. I have also tried alcohol in my Gelato and it tastes goooood!

Lastly, ice in Gelato is bad. When I go quality testing (for fun) at other Gelato shops, my two pet peeves are – creaminess and iciness. The texture of the Gelato should be creamy (like Greek yogurt) but not thick like ice cream. Often, you can taste bits of ice particles in the Gelato (a drawback of the kind of machine you are using for churning or freezing), which is a huge turnoff. I am in love with Gelato, not Sorbetto!

My next post will give step-by-step instructions on how you can make your own Gelato at home.

Declaring my love for Gelato

Revealing my secret today-I have always had a thing for Gelato! To me, it is better than ice cream. It tastes softer, creamier and richer in flavor. Moreover, some of my favorite flavors – pistachio, hazelnut, mango, fig – are more readily available in Gelato, than ice cream.

This quest for Gelato has taken me on a long journey. In 2008, I travelled to Italy, where a large portion of my meal budget was spent on Gelato. On my first evening in Rome, as I was walking past a café, I ordered myself a large scoop of mixed berry gelato. I had to ask the cashier twice when he billed me for 10 Euros (approx $20 at the time).  Well, I was hooked right from the first bite. For the next seven days, I substituted breakfast, lunch and many dinners, with chocolate, hazelnut, lemon, strawberry, pistachio, coffee, stracciatella and many more flavors of Gelato.

After I returned home, I searched for all Gelato vendors in Atlanta. I tried the fresh stock at Whole Foods, Alon’s Bakery and Paulo’s. I even ventured into the frozen isles of upscale grocery stores. Not many options available and whatever I did try, it didn’t come close to what I had in Italy. Needless to say, I have been looking for the perfect Gelato in every city I visit.

Europe by plane is not Europe at allSpring of 2010, my boss and I were in Tucson, Arizona attending a Human Capital conference. We ate dinner one evening in a local shopping center and decided to have dessert at a Gelato parlor next door.  It was packed on a Sunday night and rated highly in the area. During our conversation and my declaration for the love of Gelato, my boss mentioned a place in Hilton Head in South Carolina, called Pino Gelato that he frequently visited. It was next door to his vacation property and he claimed it was one of the best he had tried. I had to find that out for myself!

Next thing I knew, I was talking to the owners of Pino Gelato in Hilton Head, tasting their product, touring their facility and learning about how to purchase a license from them to open a store of my own in Atlanta. The owners, John and Ramona were very passionate about their Gelato and managed their operations hands-on. Even the other license owners I talked to were very happy with their business.

I decided to put the business idea on hold for the time being, but not my love. Once I returned from Hilton Head, I bought an ice-cream machine, a food thermometer, a coffee grinder, several air tight plastic containers and the Ciao Bella recipe book.

Which takes me to my next post on Tips on making homemade Gelato

Discovering new possibilities in Montreal

Dining at La Salle A Manger in Montreal last night, I discovered a couple of novel culinary treats. The menu was atypically categorized as just Raw, Cold, Warm, Vegetarian, Meat and Fish. I tried the gravlax with yogurt with orange and fennel salad. It was a burst of flavors, contrasting citrus against the soft salmon. From the Warm, I ordered sweetbread in apple, walnut, and cream sauce. This was my first time eating sweetbread for me, since I am not much of a meat eater. In fact the meat was so tender and creamy, it melted in my mouth, that I could have never guessed I was eating veal throat meat. The restaurant boasted its meat selection in a glass closet which you could view from the dining area. No wonder it was so fresh and delicious! This was my first discovery.

The second one was Farroto. Being an Italian food lover and an excellent cook of risotto, my first guess was that Farroto was its long lost cousin who wasn’t adventurous enough to go out and explore the world, therefore it never got as famous as Risotto. Turns out I was right! Farro is a spelt, hearty, grain from an older generation. It has a nutty texture, similar to that of dirty rice (rice with husk) and cooked the same way as risotto. The vegetarian dish that I ate had well roasted pieces of root vegetables (turnips, potatoes, carrots) with faro in a heavy cheese sauce, topped with parsley leaves. I will have to go back and try this at home.

There were homemade desserts and cheese selection for the last course. I picked the pistachio biscuit, topped with chocolate cream, with a side of oranges, served on a plate lightly painted with Mexican dark chocolate. It looked like artwork that exploded its palette one it entered your mouth.

More on where to eat in Montreal

Cooks across borders

I was talking to a friend last night who is a jazz singer. She works long hours and wants to have a light snack that is quick to prepare, when she come home late in the night. She said her favorite treat was homemade popcorn sprinkled with chaat masala. That got me thinking I should write about this!

Have you ever tried blending flavors from two different countries to create one stunning dish? The art has come to be known as “Fusion” and has gained significant popularity over the recent years.  I believe there has always been some degree of fusion taking place but it’s been geographically limited to neighboring countries. For example, the Mediterranean countries borrow cuisines from each other.  In the Far East, Singapore adopts spices from India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Restaurants and chefs have gone a step further by combining distinct cuisines into one meal. Vermillion in Chicago, Mesa Grill in New York City and Lukshon in Los Angeles are a few top rated ones. Even on the show, Top Chef, the contestants were asked to create something by picking flags randomly. The Mexican-Chinese pairing was quite challenging!

If you want to experiment with international flavors at home, you need not be a Master Chef.  Even if you know a few basics, proceed confidently.

Trick #1: You family already enjoys pasta. Why not grab a sauce from another country and add it to your favorite pasta. Here are some ideas to get you started…

Thai+Italian=Make a thai red curry with penne pasta, then add shrimp or chicken depending on what your family prefers.

Indian+Italian=Top chicken tikka masala on a flat bread or pizza.

Mexican+Italian=Serve a gazpacho with shells or macaroni pasta.

More tricks coming each week.

Have any tips of your own? Please share in the Comments section.


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My Eats featured on Tiny Green Mom

Tiny Green Mom has featured my recipe for Caponate Pasta Bake in her month long series of healthy recipes for the entire family. The blog is very informative for parents who are interested in a green lifestyle and latest organic products, amongst other things. Make sure to bookmark it.

I made the pasta last night for a Ciancia (Italian conversation club) get-together. It’s very healthy, flavorful and easy to make. Ciancia members meet once a month and each of us brings an Italian dish or wine to share, while we try to practise our language skills, network and meet friends. The next meeting will be at my place where I plan to make an assortment of Gelatos! If you have a favorite flavor, let me know and I would make sure to post the recipe for you…

Eat Round the Clock in Montreal

The city of Montreal is just across the border, yet an entire world away. Crowned as City of Festivals and Paris of North America, the French influences are found everywhere from architecture, language, culture to cuisine. While there are a number of great eateries to choose from, here are my personal top choices that you could cover in a day.

Nocochi Pâtisserie Café, Montreal

Start your day off at Olive et Gourmando, a lively bakery located in Old Montreal. There is a good chance there will be a wait to get in, but its well worth it! You can chose from dozens of freshly baked croissants, pastries, muffins or my personal favorite, the banana chocolate brioche. It goes well with a hot cappuccino after which you have enough energy to stroll through the neighboring attractions including Basilique Notre-Dame, district’s riverside edge and Pointe-à-Callière (Museum of Archaeology and History).

fresh pastries at Olive et Gourmando, Montreal

For lunch take a stroll through the neighborhood of petite Italie ( Little Italy) which will transport you to a street in Naples. While there are dozens of restaurants to choose from here, restaurant Casa Napoli offers the best value for money. A family business of over 28 years, the owner offers northern and southern Italian cuisine in an ambience of The Godfather. There is also a dainty sidewalk patio too where you can watch Italian families shopping for traditional items or catching up with friends. There is plenty to choose from the menu. The mozzarella is so fresh that it melts in your mouth. The pizzas live up to the restaurant’s name as well. It is the closest you can come to going to Naples being in Canada.

Take the metro to Sherbrook and a bus ride over to Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts). You could visit this extensive and one of the most famous museum’s firs , and then walk two streets over to Nocochi Pâtisserie Café (2156 Rue Mackay, Montreal, QC H3G 2J2, Canada, (514) 989-7514). This small delectable café is perfect for afternoon tea. Here you will find a variety of petite size melt in your mouth cookies, cakes, chocolates, nut filled dates, nut filled apricots, marzipans and Turkish delights. They are not cheap and you can get by eating a lot. They also have some nicely packed boxes to take back home as gifts.

Vieux-Montréal is home to a considerable number of restaurants catering to most tastes and wallets. However, a must try right off the bustling Place Jacques-Cartier is a French bistro called Le Jardin Nelson for dinner. It gets quite busy on weekend nights and they don’t take reservations. If the weather is nice, ask to be seated in the back patio where you would feel like you have entered a tropical garden paradise. There is live jazz music almost always. It even has raincatchers to protect you in case the weather is uncooperative. While the menu can cater to picky eaters as well, try the traditional crepes that are offered with a variety of fillings from mushrooms, rabbit, and duck to lobsters and shrimps.

Le Jardin Nelson, Montreal

Visit one of the three locations of Juliette e Chocolate for an after dinner treat. They serve traditional or old-fashioned, dark, milk or white chocolate as shots, milk shakes or smoothies, combined with fruit or if you are more adventurous with spices, and even married Liquor for cocktails, hot or shakes. And that’s not all! If you still like a dessert to go with your chocolate, you can order crepes, pastries or fondue. And please don’t forget to take one of the many varieties of brownies they make to have later. “The only thing I can’t resist is temptation!” – Oscar Wilde.

After partying at the numerous bars and clubs that Montreal is famous for, night owls usually end up having La Poutine. It is a fast food invention of Quebec consisting of French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy. You can find it in surprising combinations (even with foie gras) at pretty much any corner of Montreal. It is not the healthiest snack but a must try in this region.

~ As appeared in Do It While You’re Young in September 2010.

More on where to eat in Montreal