September 03, 2014

China -- Vegetarian Shanghai Fried Rice

BM# 44: A-Z Cooking Series -- Around the World in 30 days
Country: C for China
Dish: Vegetarian Shanghai Fried Rice
So after trying 2 dishes from South America (Argentina & Brazil), we are travelling all the way to Easten Asia, to China. C for China was an obvious choice for me. Being in the apparel retail industry for as long as I did, I've had a lot of interaction with China and lot of Chinese too.
I went to China 8 years back for business and had a chance to try the local Chinese dishes. Traditional Chinese food is very different from the Chinese food we get in both India and the U.S. Both of the Indo-Chinese and American-Chinese dishes are highly customized and cater to the local palate.
Chinese cuisine is highly diverse and varies between the provinces. Styles and tastes are varied by class, region and ethnic backgrounds, A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine but perhaps the best known and most influential are Cantonese, Shandong, Jiangsu and Szechuan cuisines. These styles are very distinct from one another due to factors such as availability of ingredients, climate, history, cooking technique and lifestyle.
Vegetarian Shanghai Fried Rice
I had so many Chinese dishes in mind that I wanted to try and I even asked one of my close Chinese friend to give me few recipes too. She told me few simple salad recipes, but that was before we went on India trip. At some point in the middle, I remembered this Shanghai Fried rice that I ate in Shanghai and I decided to make this simple fried rice for today.

September 02, 2014

Brazil -- Acarajé (Black Eyed Peas Fritters - Vegetarian recipe)

BM# 44: A-Z Cooking Series -- Around the World in 30 days
Country: B for Brazil
Dish: Acarajé (Black Eyed Peas Fritters)
Today we are going to northeast of Argentina, to the largest country in both South America and Latin American region, Brazil. Brazil is one of the countries that my husband frequently visits. It remained a Portuguese colony until 1808 and is now the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world.
My knowledge of Brazil is limited to the Amazon rainforest (about 60% of the rainforest in within Brazil and 13% in Peru), Rio de Janeiro (from watching lot of movies) and of course football.
Brazilian cuisine varies greatly by region, reflecting the varying mix of indigenous and immigrant populations. It has European and African influences. Root vegetables like cassava, yams, and fruit like acai, papaya, guava, passion fruit and pineapple are among the local ingredients used in cooking. The national beverage is Coffee. Brazil has been the world's largest producer of coffee for the past 150 years.
Todays' dish is an African cuisine inspired Brazilian dish called Acarajé. It is a deep fried fritter made from peeled black-eyed peas. It is found in Nigerian and Brazilian cuisines. It is traditionally made in the northeastern Brazil, especially in the cities of Salvador and Olinda, often sold as street food.

September 01, 2014

Argentina - Creme Caramel with Dulche de Leche

BM# 44: A-Z Cooking Series -- Around the World in 30 days
Country: A for Argentina
Dish: Creme Caramel with Dulche de Leche
This month, our blogging marathon group is setting off on a culinary journey around the world. I have to say this group is filled with hyper active women who get crazy ideas and thanks to our ever enthusiastic leader, Valli, we are able to channel all our energies into something interesting and exciting at the same time. So after our A-Z Indian cooking series, we started thinking on what the theme for the next mega marathon would be and A-Z International cooking series was the next obvious and logical choice.
Starting today, we will be visiting a different country and enjoying a dish or two from the local cuisine. I've always loved the concept of Passport to a certain country by making and enjoying their dishes right at home without even leaving your kitchen. Rachael ray used to make some of these passport style dishes in her '30 minute meals' years ago.
Deciding on one country to cook from a whole list was a difficult task for me. To make things simple, I decided to cook from countries that I'm really familiar with. Since my husband travels a LOT and gets a chance to taste the local food, I've cooked from the countries he visited. Also I'm lucky to have a very diverse group of friends from different countries. I've asked them to share their favorite recipes that I can cook for this series. For a few countries, I played it safe and cooked simple dishes that I'm sure the whole family likes. 
Creme Caramel with Dulche de Leche
A for Argentina: Starting off the series with Argentina. It is located in the southeastern South America and one of the countries that my husband frequently visits. He likes the country, but says it is really difficult to get vegetarian food there. Not surprisingly because Argentina has the highest consumption of red meat in the world. But he found some authentic Italian restaurants that serve amazing Italian food that he enjoys a lot.
Argentina is famous for its Tango and for delicious milk based desserts like dulche-de-leche, alfajores and so on.

August 30, 2014

My Top Essential Summer Cookout Must Haves

Man Crates is a very unique company that delivers awesome gifts to men in custom wooden crates. Their mission is to end the difficulties in finding a gift for men. I can totally relate to that because I'm never sure what to buy for my husband. One glance at their site tells you that they have very interesting gifts and I'm especially impressed with the Zombie Annihilation Crate, that might be what my husbands gets as his next gift :-)
Man crates reached out to me to do a post about my favorite must-haves are for a summer cookout. Since this weekend is the last official summer weekend for this season, I thought I'll share some of my essentials.

1. Since we always have a vegetarian cookout, we always rely on good store-bought Veggie Burgers that stand up to grilling. We have couple of favorites, Morning Star Garden Veggie Burger and Gardein Chipotle Bean burger.

2. It's hot and kids get really thirsty outside. So homemade mocktail or store-bought juice boxes are a must.

3. Fresh and juicy Corn on the Cob, either grilled or boiled.

4. Reynolds Aluminum foil is my friend for mess free grilling and easy clean up.

5. Games organized for the little ones to keep busy and my favorite happens to be Limbo. All you need is a long stick and some good music, you are all set to go.

Don't forget to check out my Vegetarian Summer BBQ Recipe ideas. Enjoy your Labor day Weekend.
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Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Past weekend we went to Apple picking for the very first time. I'm not a big fan of apples and apple picking never appealed to me that much. But I wanted to do something fun with the kids on the weekend and found a pick your own apple farm very close to my sister's home. We didn't pick too many apples since it started to drizzle and rain and the kids started getting restless. They actually had fun playing in the hay bale maze for a little bit before it started to rain harder.
Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Apple Picking
You must be wondering, why the talk about apples when the dish here is made with tomatoes. As I said we didn't pick too many apples, but the farm also has a fresh produce market and they had colorful cherry tomatoes that I picked up. Since it is almost the end of summer and finding fresh, juicy tomatoes is going to be difficult, I couldn't resist from buying them.

August 29, 2014

Mango Jam (with Pectin)

It is officially the end of end of mango season. I was lucky enough to taste the final mangoes of the season in India. My mom and I ran to the market in the middle of a hot day as soon as we heard there're mangoes in the market. My daughter and I totally enjoyed the sweet Banganapalli mangoes, while the self proclaimed mango phobic person (my son) looked at us like we were crazy. It's been good 14 years that I ate a good Andhra mango.
Mango Jam (with Pectin)

Banganapalli mangoes
I was excited to see some mangoes on our recent visit to the local Indian grocery and bought a whole crate out of sheer excitement, only to find that most of them had dark spots on them. They tasted super sweet and juicy, but the dark spots started to grow bigger by the day. With my husband travelling, I couldn't possibly eat all of them, so decided to make a jam with the rest of them -- this way at least we can preserve and relish the mangoes longer.

August 27, 2014

Recipes for Vinayaka Chavithi (Ganesh Chathurthi Specials)

Ganesh Chathurthi:
Make these festival special dishes to offer to Lord Ganesh.
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