Lunch Crunch

Most Saturday afternoons I plan my lunch for the rest of the week. By the end of the afternoon, five little boxes are packed and ready to go! Come Monday morning, I grab one from the fridge and head out the door. That’s how I get by without having to wake up before I’m at work. Now you know!

Here are two of my favorites from last summer:
1. Lentil and millet salad with raw mango and feta. Cook green lentils till soft, sauté with cumin. Cook millet till soft. Add to green lentils. Layer the salad as follows: Bed of baby spinach or greens of your choice. Then lentil-millet mixture. Top with chopped mango. Sprinkle feta cheese on it. Add chunky veggies of our choice: Onions, carrots and cherry tomatoes shown here.

This is a good one for the summer. The sweetness of the mangoes is offset nicely by the tart feta and earthy flavor of millet and lentils. To be honest, I think the mango makes this salad special. Makes the salad luscious and exotic.

2. Lentil salad. Green lentils are cooked till they’re soft, then sautéed with cumin. Toss in a little chopped onion. Add chunky veggies of your choice: carrots, broccoli and bell peppers shown here and serve on a bed of greens.

Serve undressed. Ummm, you know what I mean.

Came across some lunch-likeminds on web at the Daily Tiffin! and they're hosting 'Show me your lunch box'!! See you at the round up!

I Candy

One of the most disconcerting things about moving to a new city is that one does not recognize the skyline. Driving in the fading light, I've tried to guess the names of buildings. Fascinated by their handsome silhouettes, I wished I knew them better. Kinda like chocolate truffles in a display case. They seem so exorbitantly good-looking, so sinfully delicious and I wish I knew more about them, but I don't want to be caught staring too long ;)

It started out innocently enough. Dark chocolate and cream were warmed gently, just short of boiling. Stirred in some butter and then added chopped nuts. Even snuck in some Chambourcin wine. A dense chocolate ganache formed. With excruciating self-restraint, we piped them into truffle shapes and let them cool and harden just a tad more. Finally, we rolled them in Scarffen Berger Cocoa. voilà! Exquisite little Dark Chocolate-Chambourcin truffles!

This was also part of the Chocolate Workshop from a few weeks ago. 'Twas a great way to relax and have fun learning something new. Also, this is my placatory post to all my friends who are faithful dark chocolate fans. I may have inadvertently upset you with the white chocolate story ;) Forgive me and welcome me back to the fold. I am one of you!


Flan Élan

Didja hear? Eva Longoria and Tony Parker are getting hitched! OMG, the fabulousness!! I am squealing like a pig here, the excitement is too much! Eva Longoria has been the solace of my old age. When revealing my age, I have often reminded people that "My collagen is as old as Eva Longoria's". Instant respect!

Being a dutiful desi, I am now obsessed with Eva and Tony's kids. Please God, may their first born be a girl. I hope she is completely gorgeous and plays basketball. If they have a son, he will just be another hot, athletic French man. What's the fun in that?


For your viewing pleasure: The happy-couple-to-be! Image credit: Ladies Love Sports 2

In keeping with the 'completely gorgeous' theme, this week's creation was a chocolate flan. Recipe from Lora Brody's "Chocolate American Style". Mucho useful information and droolworthy pictures put together by a pro, this book is quite unbeatable. I came across many interesting ideas...chocolate chip mandelbrot, marble cake and chocolate flan...

The flan was a combination of coffee, chocolate and caramel - won hands down!! Turned out dense and creamy. The chocolate held its own, nicely complemented by coffee. Caramel took the whole experience up a notch.

Voice of experience:
1. Less caramel will also work.
2. I need to be a little more gentle in whacking the flan out of the ramekin. They looked like they'd been chased out by an impatient cook! Still, that top photograph is a centerfold no?! Maybe I went a little over board with the roses. A little vice is good for the soul ;)

Update: Find true love online! Stop by Lara's DMBLgit gallery for April 2007!


Boulder Coffee Co.

Night owls like me, often seek inspiration and sustenance, sometimes in equal measure, later in the day. Happily, one can find both at Boulder Coffee Co.

Housed in an expansive triangular-ish building, Boulder Coffee is located at the corner of Alexander and Clinton. In addition to a solid array of coffee and tea, they also offer a mind-boggling selection of baked goods. Chocolate crumb cake brings back fond memories... amazing how many lustful thoughts that pastry case has inspired. They also offer coffee cocktails (insert more lustful thoughts here) and have a pretty good selection of sandwiches. Something for everyone.

I've saved the best for last - I love the 'funky and intimate' interior. They swtich things around often so it never gets boring. Its a tough call - between sweet treats, the non-conformist building and funky decor :-) The baristas are very good - friendly and look after their patrons like guests.

Wait, theres more! Boulder Coffee Co features live music almost every night (see calendar below). Lets not forget free wifi. And I'm not the only one who is hooked!

This one goes to Natalia of From Our Kitchen for Food Destinations #5 If you're in fair Rochester, pretty much anytime between 6 am and midnight (yikes, this is a workhorse of a coffee shop!), don't miss Boulder Coffee Co. Chances are you will find me slinking in (or out of) there, appropriately caffeinated.

Boulder Coffee Company on the web
Boulder Coffee Company on MySpace. Bonus: Includes calendar!
To quote from RocWiki, Boulder rocks!

Soup gone wild

I may as well confess, gentle reader, that I usually make soups in twos. One of my many symptoms. But theres a method to this madness, allow me to explain.

When the soup craving comes knocking, the synaptic firing pattern usually signals a message along the lines of, "I'm craving a hearty soup". Theres no indication whether the craving center needs a spicy soup or a creamy soup and so I usually make both. There you have it, the inner workings of my mind. Clear as mud! Besides, eating any given flavor of soup over two consecutive days is a sure way to get bored with it ;)

So anyhoo, as a creamy counter point to the Moroccan Lentil Soup, I tried making Wild Rice Chowder. Wild rice is very interesting, its not quite rice. Ha. But this fact endears it to me. Once a dyed-in-the-wool "Bombayite", I have been tempered by the gentle ways of the midwest and who knows, I may be soaking in some Upstate New York as well. So gentle reader, this business of wild rice being neither wild nor rice struck a chord with moi, but I digress. Wild rice has a nutty taste that I quite like. Came across a recipe from Canada in World Vegetarian Classics (see picture below) for Wild Rice Chowder.

Heres what I did:
1. Sautéed about a third cup of chopped white onion and fennel with a sliver of butter.
2. Added a half teaspoon of garlic, a third cup of diced carrots, mushrooms and celery.
3. While the vegetables are sweating, cook the wild rice according to intructions. Nothing to it - wild rice is not like basmati. Wild rice is low maintenance.
4. Add cooked wild rice to sautéed vegetables. I added some milk and about a tablespoon of cream. If you'd like to add stock, now would be the time to get some stock!
5. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper to taste.

The net result is a mild soup, creamy but with a nutty, chewy flavor thanks to the wild rice. The additon of fennel (my improvisation, not in the book, so don't blame them!) adds a hint of sweetness. My other vegetarian chowder recipe is for corn chowder. Both are reliable and of the two I think the Wild Rice Chowder is more flavorful. Of course, this is only until summer when we will fall in love with corn all over again!

This one goes to Morsels and Musings for Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)

Wild rice info:
1. Wild rice can be grown in swampland. (This is good news if you're environmentally inclined)
2. Wild rice used to be a staple food in the diet of American Indians (This is good news for either and/or both)
3. Nutritionally, wild rice is high in protein and low in fat (Rah rah wild rice!)