Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday Food for the Soul: Spaghetti Aglio Olio Pepperencino

This Spaghetti dish is one of my favorite go-to recipe these days because I have kind of got tired of the normal Spaghetti Bolognese or any other that is smothered in tomato based sauce...
This Spaghetti is simple to make and light on the palate...
and you can have it as is, or pair it with any creamy/saucy chicken main dish or veggies.
Like here I have paired this spaghetti with the yummy lemony Chicken Piccata and steamed garlic spinach.
Spaghetti Aglio Olio Pepperencino... meaning spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and red chilli flakes

Spaghetti Aglio Olio Pepperencino
1 packet Spaghetti
5 garlic cloves crushed and then minced
1 and 1/5 tsp of chilli flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt or normal salt

1- Boil the spaghetti according to the package with some salt till al dente (as in not squishy, but firm)
2- In the meantime add the garlic, chilli flakes, olive oil and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
3- Drain the spaghetti and keep warm in a large plate or a serving bowl.
4- Pour the garlic chilli mixture over the spaghetti and mix.
5- Serve warm with any main course dish or relish it even at room temperature.
You can increase the chilli flakes or the garlic in the oil emulsion if you want it mire robust in flavor.

Isn't it easy peasy? 
Do let me know if you try this dish and how turns out, and if its a nice change from the normal spaghetti that one usually has with the tomato based or meat based sauce. 

Here the yummy spaghetti is served with Chicken Piccata and steamed baby spinach.
For recipe of the delicious lemony Chicken Piccata click here

For another delicious and a vegetarian alternative to Spaghetti Bolognese- click here

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pottery Obsession revisited!!

You wont believe how excited I was to finally figure out how to rekindle my passion for pottery after a sabbatical of two years...
I had learnt pottery for a couple of months while in New York from a fantastic studio (and written about it all here)
but after we came back to India and were posted in the back of beyonds of Rajasthan, I had kind of given up hope of ever getting back to my love of pottery...
After all how in world was I going to manage a wheel and a kiln and the other paraphernalia that goes with doing your own pottery?? and go along with my husband and family on our nomadic travels all over the country every one or two years??
Even though I checked out some Shimpo wheels that were surprisingly available in India but they were all very highly priced!!
ummm... and I didnt want to invest so much money in something that I may or may not be able to carry on further...
So I scoured around for some other alternative... even going so far as to look up DIY wheels at home- but everything seemed too daunting.
And then I stumbled upon a wonderful lady who is a retired Air Force Officer's wife and teaches from her place.
She could't have been more helpful, and with her guidance and suggestions, I procured a Kick-Wheel with some trepidation...
Why trepidation you ask? because I had learnt pottery on an Electric Shimpo Wheel which could be controlled with just a little pressure with your foot...
And here I was buying a wheel that I had absolutely no idea how to work on, but as usual, I took a deep breath and dived in!
Within 10 days the wheel was here and I was soooper pumped up...

But my enthusiasm waned a little when I realised that I just couldn't get it going!!
it was too stiff and ungainly and too slow to actually be able to centre any clay...
After hunting around for a normal potter (kumhaar) who make those terracotta vessels and pots for everyday use, I went to his humble abode and begged him to come back with me.
He too was baffled with this contraption... he had only worked with the traditional spokes-wala wheel and but he tried his level best to get my thingy going but gave up!
Then he finally advised me send it back and get an electric wheel because he had never seen anything like this and he couldn't even teach me the basics with it.
I was despondent... c'mon I had had it sent all the way from Delhi and I couldn't just send it back without giving it my best shot!
So every morning me and my husband's buddies (batman) tried kicking it religiously and vigorously...  oiling and greasing was also on...
Bit by bit it loosened up and became smooth...
and voila...I could finally centre my clay and make some wobbly bowls and cylinders!!
there's a loooong way to go yet and I have still to get my rhythm in sync with the wheel, but my mornings are going well...
the smooth whirr of the wheel and the chirping of the birds and my soft music playing in the background....
and I. am. content.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day smile emoticon
to all new moms, old moms, moms of moms grin emoticon and the feeling of being a mom!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Food for the Soul: Triple Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake

I am always looking for ways to use up my over-ripe bananas languishing in my fruit basket in a healthy way other than banana smoothies or banana shakes...(though its another matter that my kids love both!)
And especially with the weather warming up... the bananas go squishy within just a couple of days!
So other than the normal Banana muffins and the absolutely delicious Banana Chocochip Bread with Cinnamon Swirl ( you have to try it!) I was itching to try out bananas with some chocolate flavors...
So when I came across a banana chocolate bread recipe on the internet, I thought why not up the ante and add chocochips as well as chocolate sauce topping??
hence the *triple* Chocolate Banana Cake for you!
Do I see the chocolate lovers doing the happy dance?
The banana adds the super moistness to a normal chocolate cake and the extra chocolate ingredients make  it deliciously decadent and secretly sinful.....
super yummy combination, I say!

so here is the absolutely simple recipe:

Triple Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake

1 cup All purpose flour (maida)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
(sift the above dry ingr. twice and keep aside)
1/2 cup butter or refined oil if you are counting calories.
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 bananas (mashed well with a fork)
2 eggs
2 tbsp chocolate chips

1- Preheat the oven at 180C or 350F and get the bundt pan ready. If no bundt pan, then grease and flour a loaf pan of 9x5 inch
2- Take the chocolate chips and mix them in the dry ingredients (flour,cocoa,baking soda and powder) that you had sifted earlier and kept aside.
TIP: Adding the chocolate chips/nuts/dates etc to the flour mixture prevents them from settling down at the bottom of the pan.
3- Cream the two types of sugars and the butter/oil till light and frothy.
4- Add the eggs and the bananas to the sugar mix 
5- Now add the flour mixture bit by bit and mix gently with a spatula- Do not use the electric beater and do not over mix- Just stir till all the ingredients are combined.
6- Bake for 40 minutes at 180C and check with toothpick. (it should come out clean with a few crumbs clinging to the toothpick) and the top should be springy to touch.

For the topping sauce I used Dark Chocolate melted in a double boiler and dripped onto the cake.
If there is no dark chocolate lying in your fridge begging to be used- then you can improvise with the Hershey's Chocolate Syrup- works just as well!

and I also made muffins with same batter.
yes I know- I cant let go of a good thing if I have one!!
so here's a picture of my Chocolate Banana Muffins with melted white chocolate glaze.

....and the icing on my cake was my little visitor today at tea-time who loved the cake so much that he came back for second helpings!! :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 2015 Desktop Calendar

There have been times when I do get an artist's block...
and the past couple of weeks I have been battling that!
and maybe PMS as well!!
where my creative juices seem to have dried up and I couldn't come up with a single good idea to put down on paper or the sketchpad...
everything seemed lacklustre and all my references and stored up inspiration boards seemed uninspiring and boring!
Where I was roaming around the house with a grouchy bear attitude- snapping at everything and anything!
Its another matter that my kids have thier exams and this grumpy mood is the worst possible mood to be in when you want to teach your kids....
"How come you cant comprehend a simple Math problem that I have gone over with you- like a zillion times??"
"This is how you write your formal letters? where is the date? and the thanking you? and you DONT write "yours lovingly" to the principal of your schooooool!!!"
the three boys in my life were kind of wary around me...
they whispered.
they walked on tiptoes...
looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders.
and I stared at the blank screen on the computer...

.....on top of that, the month of May was looming close... real close and there was no inspiration for the Desktop calendar that I have for my readers every month!
and I had already cheated them of the April Calendar coz I was gallivanting in Dubai...
I think holidays and breaks seem to do that to goes out of sync with one's daily routine and work- so coming back to work seems like an uphill task!
couldn't do that to my loyal readers (was already getting feelers and subtle messages from them) and my "artist's block" was not letting up!
and then a dear friend requested me to make a logo for her.. (she is an avid photographer and a travel junkie) and she needed something for a new Facebook Page that she was launching....
and I had so much fun making this cute little cover picture that it got me bouncing back to the drawing table!!
here is the image that I made for her:

and do check out her Facebook Page

And so, to make a long story short...
this illustration finally unplugged the block and inspired me to make this month's Desktop Calendar!
Have FUN, coz its the summer holidays!!

Please right click on the image+save+set as desktop calendar!

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