The Palace Of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts SF

One of my latest finds in SF is The Palace of Fine Arts. Its a beautiful structure – central rotunda, flanked by pillared walkway on either side, overlooking a beautiful lake. It is on the most popular itineraries for SF visit and is definitely on any photographers visit to the city. Bing/Google Image search has some really pretty pictures of the Palace. On our way to Varun’s swim class or going towards Golden Gate Bridge we usually drive by it. The carvings atop the pillars and the rotunda peek out amidst the trees and we always think about going there. I am surprised it too us this long to visit it!

Palace of Fine Arts SF

Palace of Fine Arts SF

A few weekends ago, Varun wanted to go feed the ducks. He read about it in some book and asked me to take him someplace to feed the ducks. I looked up online and to my surprise saw that the Palace of Fine Arts listed as one of the places in our neighborhood to feed ducks. So we took some sunflower and pumpkin seeds and went one Sunday morning.

Palace of Fine Arts SF

Parking was easy to find at that hour. We walked on the pathway around to the spot where there were many other kids (with their parents) with the same intention of feeding the ducks. Varun was so excited to see the ducks that he just kept jumping. He threw a few seeds to the ducks and then snacked on some. One for them and one for him. Taking turns. Though eventually the ducks didn’t get a turn.

Palace of Fine Arts SF

Palace of Fine Arts SF

We strolled around the path. Watching more ducks, photo-shoots of families and couples against the beautiful backdrop of the trees or the monument. I didn’t have the best light to photograph it but it was the best morning in days. Vihaan slept. Varun walked along without protest or tantrums. I was in a good mood too as the kids behaved.

Palace of Fine Arts SF

Walk around Palace of Fine Arts. Fort Mason Farmers Market. Lunch over Crepes or Roti Roti Chicken and potatoes.It may just become our Sunday morning routine!

Pan fried Pumpkin and Halloumi Salad

Panfried HAlloumi and Pumpkin Salad

Salads can be sexy too. Interesting. Appealing. But most importantly filling and easy to make.

To continue with our weight loss journey, I made pan fried Pumpkin and Halloumi Quinoa Salad. Pumpkin made it filling and interesting. Halloumi added a salty touch and a unique rubbery texture. Quinoa gave it an excellent protein base. Pan frying it made it easy to make. I am usually a fan of using the oven but a few months ago a friend pointed out how energy inefficient it is to bake a pumpkin for hours in the oven. Although that is incredibly hands off to cook in over, it probably is more energy intensive. I agree with her and decided to quickly make this in a skillet.

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North African Lemon Dressing

North African Lemon Dressing

Tucked in the corner of the top kitchen shelf  was an old blue hardcover. The spine binding was falling off, the cover was faded. I had seen it when we moved in January and shoved it further as I crammed some plastic water bottles in front of it. All in the name of unpacking and getting settled.

Last week, I was looking for some serving bowls when I peered into this top shelf. The plastic containers and bottles came crashing down upon me revealing the The New York Times Cookbook (1992).

North African Lemon Dressing

Curious, I took down the book and thumbed through its yellowing pages. It was obviously well used with some watermarks, check-marks, scribbles and other recipe cut outs taped to its inner cover. Flipping through the pages, the north African Lemon dressing caught my eye.

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Mind-blowing Super Easy Tiramisu

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Father’s Day weekend and a weeklong Vipul’s trip to London (read as absence at home) made my heart go fonder. My heart debated should it be JEALOUS ( it absolutely was when I saw his pictures drinking beer outside pub’s in London); HAPPY that I get to hog the entire bed, plain UPSET that he gets to be off parent’s duty for an entire week or GLAD that when we go to London, I get to sightsee without kids (as he will be on parent duty as he has already been to the tourist spots).

Finally, his LUCK prevailed. It was Father’s Day weekend, it was not the weekend to be MAD at him or his work travels. His arrival made me forget all the negative feelings (after a jibe or two at him while I saw his pictures from London Eye) and I decided to make it up ( to my own sanity) by an extra large serving of Tiramisu.  Oh, I mean how can I be MAD at him. I ought to make him something special 😉 . That’s how this extra large – super delicious Tiramisu was made on Saturday night.

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Seriously this is the best and most easy recipe of Tiramisu possible. It is so freaking easy that I am afraid I am gonna make some next week as well. It’s easy because most of the ingredients are store bought and the only hard part of beating egg yolks and mascarpone cheese is made easy by using an handheld electric whisk.

Leaving it overnight in the fridge makes the flavors meld, the biscuits soften and everything becomes this one big flavor feast that only begs to be had over and over again. It ends the meal on a special note.

It can be doubled easily and made ahead. Be warned, its easy to make and even more easy to have second helpings. And more than one serving, it will dent your summer bikini plans. But with a luscious dessert like this on hand who gives London or bikini’s a damn?

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Tiramisu Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups boiling-hot water and 4 tablespoons instant-espresso powder ( Alternately make 2 1/2 cups of espresso which is what I used)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Tia Maria (coffee liqueur) (I use Kahlua, which works well)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup dry Marsala
  • 1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tub whipped cream ( or use 1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip it till it forms stiff peaks)
  • 36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1. Stir together espresso ( or hot water and espresso powder), 1 tablespoon sugar, and Tia Maria in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool. Set aside.

  1. Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.

If whisking by hand it will take about 10 mins of constant beating till the eggs are foamy and double in volume. I figured double in volume is good enough. And it was.

  1. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

4. Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

  1. Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a shallow Pyrex 9 X 13″ pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary.Spread half of mascarpone filling on top.

Remember there is no need to grease the bottom of the pan.

 

  1. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan. Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa.

  2. Chill, covered with loose foil , at least 6 hours to overnight.

Serve chilled.

 

 

Bharli Vangi – My love – hate relationship with Masala Stuffed Eggplants

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

I HATE Eggplants.

Growing up I have never touched them. I used to hate when mom made anything with eggplants. Vangi-batata tyachi bhaji ( eggplant and potatoes curry), bharli vangi (masala stuffed baby eggplants) , vangyache kaap (skillet fried crispy eggplants) , bharit (spiced roasted eggplants mash).

I used to even hate the name vangi.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

I was subject to them often. As a pure vegetarian extended family, there were no meat products around. Eggplants were as “meaty” as my family went. They relished it. Just like a chicken curry or tikka on any party menu; eggplants featured on menu whenever they were in season.

Fast forward to undergrad days, my room-mates who didn’t mind eating eggplants/ possibly even loved them didn’t buy them because ” Rutu wouldn’t eat them”.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

Till one weekend in Seattle, Poonam made this tangy curry called Khatte Baingan. With fried eggplant sliced simmering in a tamarind- fennel curry, I was a convert. And so was one other friend who used to hate eggplants as much as I did.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

With that experience, I tried eggplants on the next trip to India. And since then I love my mom’s masala stuffed eggplants.

I don’t beg her to make them but I can have a hearty helping whenever she makes them.

I don’t have to ask her to make them often, my dad loves them so they feature quiet regularly on dinner menu at my mom’s house.On one of his Indian stores shopping trip, dad bought home eggplants and rest is a blog entry below.

Amused by my blogging efforts, my mom even measured and wrote up the recipe for me.

Here is the recipe for my ma’s famous masala stuffed eggplants. The ingredient list seems long but the recipe is simple and results in an aromatic gravy that you can sop up with naan or with some peas pulav. The purple eggplants gleam like gems in the curry and are as visually appealing as they are tasty.

The curry tastes great the next day. Luckily this is easy to make in a larger quantity and have later.

Masala Stuffed Eggplants

Bharli Vangi Recipe

  • 1 Medium yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon peanuts coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon corriander leaves
  • 4 tablespoons corriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala powder
  • 4 tablespoons dessicated coconut
  • 1/8 tablespoon asafoetida
  • 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar or jaggery
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 – 10 small eggplants
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafeotida
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water
  1. Roast the onion on medium flame till it begins to char on the outside.

  2. Coarsely chop the onion and then grind the onion along with all the apices listed above including the salt. This is the masala that we will stuff in the eggplants.

  3. Make two criss- cross slits in the eggplant in the middle, almost all the way to the stem. Take care to not slice it completely. We need to create these “pockets” in eggplant to stuff the masala in.

  4. Spoon the masala in the eggplants pockets generously. Set aside. You will probably have some extra masala.

  5. In the meantime, heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Once heated, add curry leaves , asafoetida, mustard seeds to the oil. Once they splutter add turmeric.

  6. Add the eggplants and toss them gently so they are coated in oil.Add the remaining masala to the pan. Add water.

  7. Cover the pan with a lid and let the eggplants cook through on medium-low heat for 10  -15 minutes till they are softened; tossing midway through to ensure even cooking.

Serve warm with roti, bhakri or pulav.