Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rice Noodles Salad

It has been about 3-4 years I have been learning painting from one my friend and teacher. She is one awesome teacher. When I joined I told her that I wanted to learn all the mediums beginning with pencil shading and gradually working towards water color. I am still learning to use all the mediums but watercolor has become my favorite. Let me tell you one thing, watercolor is hard! It takes lot of practice and patience. My teacher had told me that when I started so I am prepared! I recently finished recreating a fascinating painting by Georgia O'Keeffe's : 'Leaves of a Plant' with watercolors. I enjoyed painting it even though it took me longer than expected. There are lots of mistakes which I should have avoided but its a learning process one painting at a time! I hope to do better next time. Here it is for you to see -

Watercolor reproduction of Georgia O'Keeffe's 'leaves of a plant'

Now let's jump to our recipe for the day. Simple salads that feature fresh produce are my favorites in summer. I love salads but I feel hungry much faster. So I am always in search of recipes that can incorporate carbs as well as protein. I recently had one such salad that was a perfect combination of flavors of fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, rice noodles and peanuts. After I tasted it, I had to recreate it at home. It was fun to make it and now has become my favorite! Let's see how to put this all together -

Serves: 4

2 portions of Vermicelli Rice Noodles
1 Red Bell Pepper (Yellow or Orange work well too)
6-7 sprigs of Green Onions
6-7 sprigs of Cilantro
1 sprig (6-7 leaves) Mint (optional)
1 small Cucumber
1 small Tomato
1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts (preferably unsalted and dry roasted)
Salt per taste
1 Lime
1 tsp Oil

Rice Noodles Salad

Preparation - 
Cook noodles according to instructions on the packet. Once cooked, drain and immediately put in cold water to stop them from cooking further. Drain again and put in a serving bowl, sprinkle with oil and mix well. This will help noodles from sticking.
De-seed bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.  Cut all these vegetables in 1/2" dice and add to the noodles.
Clean the green onions and chop in 1/2" dice. Finely chop cilantro. Add both these to the noodles too.
Coarsely grind peanuts add to noodles.
Squeeze lime juice and add salt to noodles and mix thoroughly. Remember you will need salt for all the vegetables so please add accordingly. Mix well.
Let it sit for at least 30-45 minutes before serving.

Tips - 
  1. Tomatoes and cucumber seeds loose too much water when mixed with salt. That is the reason I remove seeds.
  2. Ideally, you can make everything ready ahead of time and mix just 30 minutes before serving.
  3. You can add small pieces of tofu if you wish. 
  4. I noticed that green onions have to be tender or use less quantity as it overpowers everything. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Vegan Thumbprint Cookies

Do you love to cook? Also love to share what you make best? There is a perfect event for all of us in this category - Food Swap! A dear friend of mine, TC, invited me to the first ever food swap she organized. Her idea was simple if you like to cook and cook big batches, then bring it over and share! She also wanted to keep it within circle of friends. Everyone was very enthusiastic and brought variety of things to share. It was very fun event to be part of. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She then decided to do that as a quarterly event! And it is gaining popularity! Do not forget to checkout what people brought for the events on the Sunnyvale Food Swap FB page.

Now you must be wondering what is the connection between the food swap and the thumbprint cookies! TC herself made citrus marmalade for second swap. It was so awesome that I did not waste even a single minute to enter my name on the swap sheet. Luckily she also liked chutney I had taken for the swap. I had the marmalade with toast for my breakfast. It was the most flavorful Marmalade I have had. I wanted to use that marmalade wisely and first thing came to my mind was thumbprint cookies. TC had shared her recipe with me but somehow I misplaced it and could not find when I needed. Quick search found me this recipe from Whole Foods and I decided to give it a try. And voila it worked like a charm!! I later found TC's recipe as well and it is almost same with few tweaks.

Vegan Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup Almonds
1 cup Rolled Oats
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/2 cup Agave Syrup
1/4tsp Fine Sea Salt
6-7 tbsp Citrus Marmalade (or any other jam you have)

Preparation -
Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Coarsely grind almonds and oats in food processor. 
Mix together flour, oil, syrup, salt and ground almond-oats mixture to form dough. 
Make walnut-sized balls of the dough, then arrange  cookies 2" apart on baking sheets. 
Press thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. 
Spoon a teaspoon of jam into each indentation.

Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely, then serve immediately or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Flavorful and healthy!

Tips -  
  1. I used lot of marmalade as I made large impressions in the cookies and I needed to finish big bottle that TC had given me. 
  2. I am sure any other nuts should be okay in this but I have tried only with almonds.  

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