Padre Island

 This labor day weekend, wise guy and I set off to Padre Island, a 3 hour drive that turned out to be more like 5. The drive was not so great with me pouting ( to indicate my petulant annoyance!) all the way and the wise guy deciding to stop at a random Mexican joint in Refugio for dinner (it seemed like a popular spot except our innumerable ways of saying no carnitas seemed quite ineffective!).

Anyway once I set foot on the beach all was forgotten. Funny how the ocean has that effect on people.

And we found a great place to eat- JBs German Bakery where the smell of freshly
baked bread and the sights of pristine German engineering kept us going back for more.

This picture of a gorgeous grilled chesse sandwich was taken in color and then converted to black and white. 

Submitting this to Black and White Wednesday started by Susan, now taken on by CindyStar. This week the event is hosted at Cook almost Anything.

Just peachy…

Grab hold of ’em awesome peaches that are in season right now!

Once you have eaten them in all forms and shapes, try this refreshingly simple recipe

You will need,

2 peaches, diced into smallish pieces

For the dressing

2 inch piece ginger, grated finely
1 tbsp honey
juice from half a lemon
garden fresh mint, if you have on hand

In a bowl mix the dressing first and then add the peaches.

That is it, really!

Chill the salad before serving.

Trust me on a hot Houston afternoon, you would want something cool.

Hippity- hoppity hop to India for some delicious DB challenge this month

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

For the Mawa:
1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk
For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed crumb
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (10 oz) (280 gm) castor sugar
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 cups (500ml) (9 oz) (260 gm) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract (optional)
Cashewnuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)

1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.
You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

5. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.
7. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.
8. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.
9. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.
10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

Masala Biscuits (Spicy Savoury Indian Cookies):
Servings: Makes about 2 dozen biscuits/ cookies that are 2 1/4” (55 mm) to 2 ½” (65 mm)wide. (I halved the recipe, skipped green chilli peppers, added some caraway seeds and dill seeds)

Made these late last night and they tasted awesome- more importantly the house smelled heavenly (oh I had almost forgotten how awesome fresh curry leaves smell!)

1-3/4 cup (420 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fine white or brown rice flour (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (or according to your taste)
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
3/4 inch (20 mm) piece of ginger, finely grated
1-1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn, crushed coarsely
1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed coarsely
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped curry leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander/ cilantro
3 to 4 tablespoons (45 ml to 60 ml) cold yogurt
1-1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (or white sesame seeds)
A little oil to brush the tops of the biscuits/ cookies

1. You can do this by hand also, but I prefer to use my food processor. The advantage with using the processor is that the warmth of one’s palms/ fingers doesn’t warm up the dough and melt the butter.

2. Put both flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl and add the pieces of chilled butter. Pulse until the mixture takes on the texture of breadcrumbs. 

3. Now add the chopped green chillies, finely grated ginger, crushed peppercorn and cumin, sugar, the chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Pulse a couple of times to mix well.

4. Then add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and pulse again. Add one more tbsp of yogurt (or two, as much as needed), and pulse again until the dough just comes together and clumps together. You want a moist dough, not a wet one – somewhat like pie dough.

5. Do not over process or knead. The dough should be just moist enough for you to use your hands and bring everything together to shape into a ball. Flatten it into a disc and cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least hour. You can also leave it overnight (up to about 24 hours) and work on it the next day.

6. Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line your baking trays with parchment or grease them with oil.

7. Lightly dust your working surface and roll out the dough to 1/8”(3 mm) thickness, not more or your biscuits/ cookies will not be crisp. Sprinkle the sesame seeds uniformly over the dough and use your rolling pin, very lightly, to press them in.

8. Using cutters of your choice (about 2-1/4 inch (55 mm) to 2½ inch (65 mm) in size), cut out biscuits/ cookies and place them on lightly greased baking trays. Brush a very thin coat of oil over them. This will help them brown while baking.

9. Bake them in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or till they’re done and golden brown on the top. Remember the baking time will depend on the thickness and shape of your biscuits/ cookies. Let them cool on the trays for about 5 minutes and then cool them on racks. Once they’re completely cool, they should be a bit crunchy and not chewy.

Sometimes…you just have to…

…you just have to given in and make it yourself rightaway.

A few days ago I was craving Nam Nam noodle’s seven spice tofu rice platter and I realized that I find myself wanting to eat this fairly often- so decided to take charge and create my own version of this really flavorful dish.

For the tofu

Remove the tofu from the packaging. Place the tofu in some paper towels and keep heavy weight on the tofu in order to drain all the liquid , about an hour(keep removing excess liquid every 20 – 30 minutes or so)

Cut the tofu into slabs and marinate with the concoction below (WARNING: the marinade is spicy)

~ 2-3 tbsp tamari
~ 2 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
~ 1 tbsp minced ginger
~ 1 tbsp sesame oil

Rub the marinade on both sides of the tofu slabs and refrigerate for at least an hour (can do overnight too)

Bake the tofu in an oven preheated to 350 F for an hour turning every 20 minutes or so

While the tofu is baking, cook jasmine rice as per packaging instructions (I made basmati rice)

For the veggies

Adapted from No face plate


1 orange or red bell pepper, juliened
1 can baby corn, drained
1/2 onion, sliced
1 luffa, juliened (mine was from a friend’s garden)
1 minced garlic

Spice mix

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons soy sauce

In a saute pan, add a bit of oil and saute the ground spice mixture sans (minus) soy sauce until the aroma builds.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute or two

Add the rest of the veggies and saute them on medium high heat (you want the veggies to cook quickly- like they will in a wok, or if you have one, better yet- use the wok)

Once the veggies are tender, drizzle with soy sauce and cook for a few more minutes

Serve hot- plate the rice with tofu and veggies on the side

Judgement: Now that is one damn good staple- you can make ahead the tofu, the rice and the veggies.  It tasted awesome, if I may say so myself.

Submitting this recipe to MLLA #62 started by the most gorgeous Susan and taken over by another gorgeous blogger Lisa.  This month the event is hosted by yet another gorgeous blogger Siri. This event has been running of 6 years now- that is right 6…

Gluten free cauliflower crust pizza

This was love at first sight- the moment I laid eyes on this recipe I knew I had to make it. I said to myself ” oh you big white cauliflower in the fridge- here I come”.

2 small pizzas
Cauliflower crust (originally from detoxinista)
1 medium sized cauliflower (approximately 4 cups grated)
1 egg
3,5 oz soft cream goats cheese (100 g) (I used goat cheese- probably different from goat cream cheese)
Salt & pepper

1. Grate the cauliflower in a food processor.
2. Microwave it will a bit of water for about 5minutes (it cgot cooked
3. Drain the cauliflower by wrapping it up in a dishtowel and squeezing all the water out. In a bowl mix cauliflower rice with cream cheese, egg and salt and pepper.
4. Heat oven to 400 °F/200 °C. Line a baking sheet and place 4 portions of cauliflower mix. Use your hands to form the crusts on the sheet, they should be about 1-1,5 cm (1/3 – 1/2 inch) thick. Bake the crusts for approximately 30-35 min, or until firm and golden.

Tomato sauce
1 can of organic, chopped tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil (from the garden of course)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of dried chili flakes
Salt & pepper

1. In a skillet heat oil and add onion, sauté for a few minutes. Add garlic and saute a few seconds and then add the rest of the ingredients. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, while stirring every few minutes.
It should be a bit saucy.

For toppings, I went with thinly sliced yellow squash and a bit of grated sharp cheddar

To finish the pizzas:
1. Add  tomato sauce on each crust (1-2 tbsp), spread it evenly.
2. Add your toppings
3. Bake the pizzas for approximately 10 min at 450 °F /225 °C until the cheese is golden.

Voilà, you have a gorgeous gluten-free pizza- let your imagination run wild.

I am submitting this to the monthly Bookmarked Recipe event hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes.

Summer Drinks

A wonderfully refreshing, perfect-for-summer Polynesian drink- of course with a bit of my own experimentation. You can read about this drink which is now considered to be mostly of Tongan origin here at wiki.


2-3 cups of watermelon
3/4 can of coconut milk
1 tbsp grated ginger
few sprigs mint (fresh from the garden)
1/2 cup coconut sugar


In a food processor, blend the coconut milk, sugar, ginger and mint.
Then add the chopped watermelon and pulse it a few times (ideally it is grated with a fork but come on….a lazy me…nah ah..)

Enjoy it cold!

A vegan mango milkshake with almond milk and scented geranium leaves 
Stay Cool mes amis!