Broccoli Brie soup

I like the broccoli cheddar soup at Panera. Apart from the side that it has a lot of sodium, it’s pretty tasty. It’s the same with the french onion soup as well. Ever since my IR diagnosis, my tryst with bakeries hasn’t gone too well. There is a lot of bread at Panera (that I am not supposed to eat). So I am almost always stuck with a soup and salad combo. Sigh. I love sandwiches, especially paninis 😦

Anyways, before I go back into sad storytelling mode, I decided to try a twist on the broccoli cheddar soup, substituting brie for cheddar. My friend B from Mongolia recently asked me what I did with broccoli stalks, after using the head of broccoli. Threw in the trash, was my answer. Duh. Well, she said she made soup with it. *Lightbulb moment*

I hope you are brave enough to try it and I also hope you enjoy it as much as the hubby and I did 🙂 This is great for lunch or dinner!

Ingredients:

Broccoli stalks – 2 (the thick stalks)

Vegetable stock – 1 cup

Chicken or veggie bouillon cube – 1

Brie cheese – 4-6 ozs (or less, if you are extremely conscious) – save a few pieces for garnish

Salt and pepper- to taste.

Dill and parley – for garnish

Method-

Clean and chop the broccoli stalks and pressure cook them in the stock until the stalks are really soft. You can do the same in a stock pot. It will take additional time to cook, that’s all.

Using a hand blender puree the stalks in the remainder of the stock until very smooth.

Add the bouillon cube and bring to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt, bouillon cubes normally contain a lot of salt.

Next add the brie cheese and reduce the heat. Mix until completely combined.

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with the remaining cubes of brie and a dash of dill and parsley

How simple was that? I will be trying the broccoli cheddar soon (when I have some more broccoli stalks saved ;))

Bon Appetit!

 

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Nutty banana-fig bread

My tryst with low-carb food has been going pretty well. Apart from the occasional spoon of sugar in my tea, I haven’t had the urge to splurge on high carb food. And after losing 12-15 lbs on this diet, I am a pretty happy camper. I recently ordered Kal brand Stevia and my first few experiences were bad. It made everything super-sweet! But then I realized that I needed to know exactly how to use it. For my first baking experience, I tried an almond flour plum bread, which in the end was weirdly sweet and had a pudding consistency. Thankfully it wasn’t so bad that I had to throw it away. For my second baking experiment, I wanted to make a banana bread and this time I was determined to use less stevia. Surprise! It’s so good, just like normal moist banana bread. This banana bread is low-carb and you can’t even tell 😀 I did cheat a little bit with the chocolate chunks. Next time around I will substitute those with homemade sugar free chocolate chunks.

Ingredients:

5 small overripe bananas

6 Calimyrna figs (I used the ones available in a container at Trader Joes)

3 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla essence/extract

1/4 tsp stevia (appx. 1/2 cup sugar equivalent, or more if you like it sweeter)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville) (Substitute 1 1/2 cups regular all purpose flour/maida for all of you high-carb people out there!)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup walnuts, broken into pieces

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Put bananas, figs, eggs, vanilla, stevia and oil in a food processor. Pulse ingredients together until completely mixed.

Add the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Pulse everything again until well blended.

Pour batter into a greased 7.5″x3.5″ bread loaf pan and put the nuts and chocolate chips on the top. Shake the pan to make sure the batter is evenly distributed.

Bake it in the pre-heated oven for appx. 55-60 mins. Keep an eye on it after 40-45 mins and cover it with foil, if you think it’s getting too dark on the top. I baked mine on the middle shelf and I didn’t have to cover it.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 -15 mins before  turning it out and cooling it completely, right side up.

Bon Appetit! I have already eaten two slices since I baked it 😀

Tofu-mushroom-bell pepper stir fry

I’m not super fond of tofu (I know it’s healthy and all!), but I try coming up with interesting recipes in the hope that I will like one of them (secretly hoping the husband likes tofu too *fingers crossed*) ! While surfing www.foodgawker.com (officially my fave thing to do!) I found this recipe and I thought it was interesting. Finally after making it, since the husband did not complain while eating, I think I have a winner in the tofu section 🙂

Ingredients:

1 pack extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks

10 oyster mushrooms, sliced

4 shiitake mushrooms, stalk removed and sliced

1 tbsp tamari soy sauce (you can also use any other dark soy sauce)

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 cube chicken bouillon (use vegetarian bouillon if you want a completely vegetarian dish)

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

Cooking oil (not olive oil, sesame will do. I used canola.)

Method:

Stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken bouillon, cornstarch, and water in a non-reactive bowl.  Set sauce aside.

Remove tofu from package and try and drain as much water out of it as possible. Cut into ¾ inch chunks.

Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a skillet over high heat. When oil is smoking hot, add the tofu. Panfry, stirring occasionally, until tofu is browned on all sides, about 4-5 mins. Remove the tofu and set aside.

In the skillet add another tbsp of oil and reduce heat to medium-high. Stir-fry the mushrooms until they start to soften, and then add the green bell peppers and minced garlic. Toss the mixture around a few times to cook the peppers, but make sure they’re still crisp, between 30 seconds and 1 min. Add the fried tofu and stir-fry carefully, making sure you don’t break the chunks of tofu, just until heated through, about than 1 minute.

Add the sauce, and stir into the mixture until thick, less than 30 sec. If sauce is too thick, add a little more water and stir it in thoroughly.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Bon Appetit!

Kairi/Mavinakai/kaccha aam aka raw mango

I recently found raw mangoes at the Asian store. In Bombay they call it kairi, in Hindi it’s kaccha aam and in my mother tongue, Kannada, we call it mavinakai. They immediately made me reminisce spring time in India. There would be hawkers selling raw mangoes, tamarind, starfruit, bora berries etc on carts outside school 🙂 I hated fresh bora berries, never found them appealing, but I did somewhat develop a taste for the dried ones, they were tangy and that’s what I liked about them. I’ve found ripe mangoes in the US in almost every season. They are not the best tasting, but I was surprised to see them available year round. In India, ripe mangoes are available only during the summer. Needless to say raw mangoes are available in spring and late winter.  I love mangoes – raw or ripe!! I sorely miss the Alphonso mangoes also known as the king of mangoes. I have begged my parents to bring some, but they never do since the mangoes won’t pass through customs 😦

But anyways, back to my tryst with raw mangoes at the Asian store – my eyes lit up when I saw them and I picked up a few. I was very keen on making panha (sweet raw mango drink). I already made one batch, and the second one is underway. I’ll post the recipe of whichever one tastes better 🙂 The advantage of living in a cosmopolitan city like Bombay was being able to sample food from all over India. Panha is primarily a Maharashtrian drink. I also know of Gujaratis making panha, so maybe it’s a common drink in the West in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

After using up most of the mangoes, I had one left. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that one mango. Chop it up, sprinkle it with salt and chili powder and savor it 😀 That’s how the hawkers on the street would offer it. Tamarind, mangoes and starfruit sprinkled with salt and chili powder and probably some other secret ingredient that made those acidic and tangy fruits taste heavenly! I finished eating the pieces just before I started writing this post. My lips are still burning, after all I used the ‘extra-hot’ chili powder that I found in the Indian store. I have a propensity and high tolerance for heat. But I should probably use regular chili powder or cayenne pepper next time. It’s going to take a while for my lips to cool down 😉