Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Pie

 Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Pie

Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Pie

Cooking is one one of my greatest joys but there are times when I’d rather spend my evening watching Don Draper and his merry band of (m)admen (guilty pleasure and vicarious pursuit of my nipped-in-the-bud advertising career).These are especially busy days that leave me with aching feet, and little energy and enthusiasm for the kitchen. Yet I wouldn’t want to serve up a slapdash meal or succumb to the greasy charms of fast food. What I need then is a recipe that’s vegetarian, healthy and easy to do. In fact, all of us moms appreciate only too well, the thought and effort that goes into meal planning, and we all have a list of recipes for week nights that check off all these boxes. Continue reading

Three Shades of Green

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I’m sure my Facebook friends are suffering from flower fatigue, thanks to my compulsive posts depicting the glorious flora of the rainbow nation. But when I wake up every morning, the one thing I look forward to (even though I’m not a morning person), is a stroll with a cup o’ chai in my garden. I spend about fifteen minutes saying hello to my plants, checking the progress of the veggie patch, looking for baby sprouts and buds and watching the birds. After the long winter, it feels like a rare privilege to watch nature’s magic unfold and every time I see a new blushing blossom or shy sprig stretching ever so slowly to reveal its full form, my heart swells with awe and gratitude for the creative power in the sky who makes this all possible.My soul has weathered with age and life’s experiences, but these little miracles of nature still manage to strike under the surface and release the spring of wonder and undiluted joy. Continue reading

Nuts About Beet

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Making kids eat beet is a bit like subjecting them to Schubert or Mozart, while their souls swing to the hip-hop beat. In fact, I know most people aren’t nuts about beetroot, and that’s precisely why I tried this salad. I wanted to make beets cool. Most times they are seen on cheffy dishes -watched TV and then forgotten. But there’s a reason why chefs are cooking so much with beets these days. It’s because  they’re not just healthy, but can be quite versatile if you make the effort to complement their sweet astringency with the right flavour partners….kinda like finding a soul mate…takes some effort but when you get it right, it’s magic. Continue reading

Some Like it Hot

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My son who’s precariously positioned on the rapidly crumbling edge of childhood threatening to dive headlong into the tumultuous waters of adolescence, thinks Darth Vader is way cooler than Luke Skywalker. “Vader sends Skywalker to school Ma”, quoth he. My response of course was typical – I cluck-clucked like any mother hen that with heroes such as these, it’s no wonder his generation is growing up too fast, and getting mixed up in their heads blah, blah, blah. But the truth is that we all find exploring the dark side more exciting than strolling in sunlit parks. Whether it’s book or film characters or even real-life people, those with a naughty streak, inner demons, an abrasive facet to their personality or even a sexy scar, are much more fascinating, intriguing…mysterious. Being Ms or Mr Goody Two Shoes is officially out. Bad has never had it this good…ever. Continue reading

Creamy Without Calories

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Like Sade’s velvety voice, the luxurious creamy texture of this Roasted Butternut Squash Avocado and Feta Salad, wraps you in a soft, downy, duvet. I wanted to make a filling salad sans meat, so I chose ingredients with rich texture that would perfectly complement crisp slices of rye bread. Butternut squash is such a great veggie – sweet and aromatic. And it gets better when roasted with a splash of olive oil, acquiring a lovely caramelly crunch that adds an extra facet of flavour. Avocados are cream in vegetable form and yet super healthy. Their subtle flavour contrasts well with strong flavours like that of  feta.

The salty feta, gentle avocado and sweet butternut form contrasting ribbons of flavour without being jarring. We enjoyed the salad as a main course and even without the bread it would make a filling yet not stodgy lunch or brunch. Continue reading

Pro Corn

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Inspired by the buttery brightness of a bag of polenta and the sunshiny sweetness of sweet corn, I made this delightfully versatile corn cake or corn bread for dinner. And served it with a bowl of home-made tangy tomato and garlic sauce. You could make it for breakfast, a picnic, in the form of muffins….the variations are endless. It’s a dish that you can really have fun with it. It took me all of forty minutes to assemble and bake, so stow away the recipe for a lazy day when you want a good meal but don’y feel like slaving over it.

I added sharp cheddar, jalapeños and fresh cilantro to the basic batter. You can experiment with bacon, feta, cooked spinach, onions, chopped olives or just about anything to give it your own little twist of flavour. It makes a nutritious, substantial and interesting vegetarian meal – a fact that gives me a smug sense of satisfaction when I’m trying to notch up meatless days on my calendar. Continue reading

Potatoes Get a Spicelift

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Roast potatoes just got bold, brassy and bodacious in the fashion of Bollywood films (subtlety be damned!). Dressed up in a rich spice mix, these roast potatoes can hold their own unlike plain salted roast potatoes. The recipe, adapted from Pushpesh Pant’s India Cookbook,is a fried potato dish from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh known for its fiery cuisine. Cooking for a party, I figured it was much easier and less labour-intensive to roast the potatoes instead of frying them, I also tweaked the quantities of the spices a teeny-weeny bit because the quantities in the original recipe would produce a much milder flavour than I wanted (you can add or reduce the red chillies to your taste). Continue reading

Hello Halloumi

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This is one of those dishes that just kinda magically happened. It began with half a head of cauliflower and half a head of broccoli. Thought I’d roast them and make a pasta salad. Then remembered that I had some lovely, tangy sundried tomatoes, which would lift the relatively blander flavours of the flowers and the pennette. The tang needed a hit of salt and hello halloumi! I hit upon adding some pan-seared halloumi to make this a well-rounded complete pasta dinner. Feta or goat’s cheese would be fitting substitutes if you can’t get your hands on this firm and flavourful Middle Eastern cheese. Vegetarian, healthy and super fresh – my boys finished every little crumb. Oh and before I forget, do add freshly cracked and not ground pepper – it makes a world of difference in terms of flavour balance. Continue reading

Curried, Not Squashed

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Love, love, love butternut squash; it’s sweet, aromatic and yummy in savoury dishes. The other day, I needed to make a quick lunch of something substantial to go with either plain steamed rice or chapatis (unleavened Indian bread). Came up with this super simple and delicious butternut squash and coconut milk curry. It needs very few ingredients and is versatile too if you want to throw in some boneless chicken or other veggies like carrots, peas, potatoes etc. This curry always perfumes my kitchen with the delicate fragrances of cinnamon and cardamom, which I love because it whets everyone’s appetite and evokes that homey feeling. Continue reading

Flower Power

Cauliflower is not my husband’s favourite so it’s always a challenge to primp it up and make it attractive.

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This recipe – cauliflower-bacon gratin is adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, is savoury, creamy and oozing with melted cheese.  Little crunchy pebbles of bacon show up in every mouthful like smoky jelly beans hiding under the creamy veg. Although the original recipe uses only cauliflower, I decided to throw in some broccoli to add a burst of fresh colour. Continue reading