Dibribac's Blog

Fireflies in a Jar


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Chiappa Sage Walnut Pesto

A while ago I came across a series of videos on Jamie Oliver’s Youtube Channel featuring the Chiappa Sisters known for their super – quick pasta sauces. Having watched tons of Italian videos, I was automatically trained to associate Italian chefs/cooks with a very noticeable hint of the Italian accent. And this is where I made the biggest mistake of assuming the Chiappas sounded, looked and cooked more Welsh than Italian. Boy was I wrong! Jamie, you’re right. These girls can cook and with a strong punch of flavor.

With a gorgeous herb garden at home that was longing to be used, I was waiting for the perfect recipe to do justice to these beautiful herbs. That’s when I bumped in again at the Chiappa pages on Youtube and stumbled upon this refreshingly easy and unimaginably delicious Sage Walnut Pesto sauce. The minute I read the word “Sage”, I was intrigued. I had to watch the video. At the end of it, I realized this was not only super quick to put together. It was also the kind of recipe that did pure justice to ingredients without butchering the original flavor too much.

A hop, skip and jump later, I was in my kitchen with a handful of fresh Sage ready to begin.

The Recipe (Serves 3-4)

Ingredients

Sage – a handful

Walnuts – a handful

Garlic – 1 clove

Lemon juice – 1 lemon

Olive oil – about 5 tbsps or until it forms a creamy glistening mess

Parmigiano Reggiano (please. no plastic parmesan that comes in a green bottle) – about 1/2 cup; 1 heaped tbsp reserved for garnish

Sea salt – according to taste

Method

  • Blitz sage, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil, parmigiano reggiano and salt in a food processor
  • Cook a favourite pasta of your choice. The Chiappa girls used Penne, I used Fussili
  • In a pan, put the blitzed mixture with a couple of tbsps of pasta water. Wait for a few seconds to cook the garlic (do not brown the garlic).
  • Add the pasta, toss to coat and garnish with the remaining cheese.

Simple and extremely delicious.


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Shall we say comfort dessert?

Is there any such thing as comfort dessert? if there is, this is definitely one. Put together a forgotten box of strawberries (any fruit actually) with some crumbled up flour/sugar/butter mixture and you have yourself the most delicious dessert. Take it to the next level by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side and your dessert is screaming pure decadence. 

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That’s my strawberry crumble with a huge chunk missing :P

You can get better recipes on the internet. I literally eyeballed the ingredients.  So if you have any fruit that’s dying to be eaten, place them on a baking tray depending on how much fruit you have. Mix in some caster/light brown sugar (for 400g of strawberries, I put around 1/2 cup of sugar). Throw in some real vanilla seeds from a pod if you have one. I didn’t so I just used a tbsp of vanilla extract. Tossed it up gently with my fingers. 

In a mixing bowl, I took about a little more than a cup of flour, around 3/4ths cup of sugar (caster or light brown), a dash of freshly grated cinnamon and around 3/4ths of a stick of butter (chilled) chopped into small cubes. Mix them up with a hand mixer until they look all crumbly. Do not over mix into a paste. Sprinkle some ice cold water. Toss until it looks all crumbly like tiny marbles in sand (I know… weird description!) Place this mixture over the fruit mixture. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the oven safe dish and bake for 50 mins or until it achieves your preferred color of brown and crispness. 

Serve with cold vanilla ice cream or eat as is :)


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New Obsession

If there is one thing I’ve wanted since I was a teen, it is to grow my nails long and paint it with pretty colors. Try as I might, my nail-biting habit always got in the way. I would grow them for a few days and file them naturally using my teeth. It seems nearly impossible and yet the past few weeks has been my longest attempt ever. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people who flaunt their well-manicured nails (one of them being my very own sister). I’ve had to shake hands with people who had everything from straight as a line square nails to slightly curved round nails. Next to them, mine looked like a joke. It was high time and I decided to grow them trying very hard to avoid biting them.

It’s been 3 weeks since I last bit my nail and I can proudly say they are back at their last longest. With my birthday just around the corner, my husband decided to treat me to some manicure supplies as motivation and a birthday gift from a nearby nails supply store. It was even better as the store had brands like Essie and Zoya at nearly 50% off. Knowing they are one of the more expensive brands, I decided to pick up a few colors. I should say I am obsessed with one particular color from Zoya. It’s the color Mira from Zoya. Don’t judge it too fast from the picture on their website. The picture bounces off the glossiness from the glass. This color is a dusty almost regal color with a matte undertone. It’s perfect as is or with a top coat to give it a more glossy look. It’s also weightless which is great as I am not a big fan of lacquers that make you feel like you’re carrying mini weights on all nails.

When I first looked at this shade, I wasn’t too sure if my skin tone could pull off such a nail color. Boy was I wrong! The color is just super pretty and is perfect for all skin tones. And I have to say I’m quite impressed with Zoya’s colors. Each one of them look perfect and they are the kind of colors I would love to wear.  I still haven’t tried the other colors. I have “don’t sweater it” and “armed and ready” from Essie. I also have this pretty shade form China Glaze called “Wagon Trail”. I absolutely love these colors. Will check back in on what I think of the rest.


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My Precious

I don’t think there is a single person in the world who has ever hated an immersion blender after owning one. There can never be. Immersion blenders are my favouritest kitchen gadgets of all time. These magical sticks can literally transform a lifeless kitchen into an able and lively one. You can say that’s funny but I feel like I can accomplish anything when I use my Cuisinart hand blender.

And what caused this sudden flood of excitement?

I ran out of mayo. I am lazier than ever to go to the grocery store. So I decided I would make mayo. I have seen it done and figured it shouldn’t be that hard a recipe. I looked into my barren fridge again and realized I had just one egg.

Mayo Experiment no.1: So maybe I let the whole “I can accomplish anything with my stick blender” get to my head. I chucked in all the ingredients without measures and started the emulsification process. To my dismay, it was one smooth drink and never turned into the gloppy mess that we want. There goes my mayo down the drain!

After the failure of my 1st experiment, I forced myself to look into the internet for an “eggless mayonnaise” recipe. I swear I was laughing when I was searching for an eggless version. I am totally against eggless anything and find eggless recipes an excuse to cook the real thing. Nevertheless, I found one that had ingredients I could manage to procure immediately.

Mayo Experiment no.2: Bumped into The David Blagh and found this beauty of recipes. I made the very first one and this time I tried the stream-your-oil-in version to make the mayo. Delish! Seasoned the mayo with some pepper at the end of it. Just so delicious it is as good as the real thing. On second thoughts, even better than the real thing. Why? Have you ever had a look at the label of a store-bought mayo bottle? They add so many other ingredients besides eggs, oils, vinegar, lemons. I read the label off my old bottle and the first ingredient was enough to put me off -”Modified potato starch”.

That said, do try the eggless version or the regular egg version. Making mayo at home is so simple and far more cost effective and tastier and safer than store bought ones. Bon Appetit!


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Chai Tea

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In my recent quest to lose some weight and get back in shape, I decided to stay off coffee for sometime now. I have replaced it with tea and that includes the milky masala chai. And no, you cannot call it chai tea because the chai is in the tea. Chai is tea in Hindi. The spices you add to chai is called masala. 

I figured if I was going to be giving up so much caffeine, the least caffeine I could give myself was through some moderately caffeinated black tea. Surprisingly, I have strayed away and now am able to appreciate caffeine free teas. The best part of it all is the absence of jitters or caffeine buzz or mood fluctuations. I find myself calm for most of the day. I am able to stay positive and make rational decisions without the dramatic push that I usually get from coffee. 

I haven’t started experimenting with loose leaf teas yet. I have begun with tea sachets hoping I will acquire a taste for a more grassier tasting tea. I bought 3 flavours from Celestial Seasonings – Bengal Spice (an imitation of Indian chai with spices minus the caffeinated tea), Morning Thunder (incase I was looking for some caffeine – I have not tried this yet. Will let you know pretty soon) and Sleepytime (more to relax me at night than put me to sleep. Note: It can put anyone down to sleep as it has this plant called valerin which is known for its relaxing properties). Besides these, I also have a bit of green tea and raspberry leaf tea from Traditional Medicinals (which claims to be good for the female system). 

So far, I am falling more and more in love with just plain tea without adding any milk/cream/sugar/honey. I have heard Lupicia has a great collection of Japanese teas. Plan to make a visit soon. Any suggestions are welcome! 


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How on earth have I missed Whole Foods? Seriously, who does that? In my newfound spirit to eat more healthy, I was looking at different websites to pick up what everyone was doing and where everyone was shopping. I had heard of Whole Foods through some family but never really got around to it. Maybe because I was questioning “I get the same tomatoes at Sprouts (my 1st love)”.

So yesterday as I was trying to make a list of things to buy to fill up my pantry, I wondered if Whole Foods might be a new experience for my parents visiting from India. We have a few stores that cater to Western products but none with this intensity back home. And I was right.

Aisle after aisle, I felt like a kid shopping in a toy store. Not only did everything look so healthy, it all looked beautiful. The variety… oh the variety… I have never been to a store that had so much to offer, no wonder I see many people around America becoming vegetarians/vegans. After a couple of hours, I ended up with some goods that are out of my normal shopping spectrum and headed home.

This morning as part of my plan to get breakfast no matter what, I decided to make a smoothie. Ok maybe this is not as lean or low in fats but a healthy and delicious smoothie nevertheless.

Banana/Almond Butter/Flaxseed/Raw Hemp Smoothie

Ingredients

1 whole banana

1 T almond butter (crunchy or smooth)

2 T flaxseed (ground or whole)

1 T raw green hemp seeds (ground or whole)

A swirl of honey

1 c. milk

2 T plain yoghurt (feel free to go crazy with the flavors)

Method:

  • In a blender, put 2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt. To this, add 2 T flax seeds and 1 T raw hemp. Give it a whizz until blended through.
  • Add the milk, the banana and the almond butter. Blend until all ingredients are well-combined.
  • Lastly, serve in a tall glass and top off with a swirl of honey.

Healthy, uber delicious and packed with fiber, potassium, vitamins and more. If you live in America, be sure to check out Whole Foods. If you already have, do let me know if there is something else I should be checking out. Have fun!


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Creamy Egg Salad Sandwich

I know… it’s been ages since I’ve published a post. It has been super busy and super exciting with mom and dad here. Traveling almost every single weekend, loads of shopping and many movies to catch up together on Netflix! Yes… the one thing most people living in America can’t do without!

Off late, I have been on a pretty food cooking spree. And that means healthy, yummy and beautiful-looking (I know many of my Indian friends are going …. what on earth??! Since taste surpasses texture in Indian cuisine… Ok, that may not be entirely true… but I can hardly think of any Indian that plates up every single meal. There. That’s my point) Thanks to my recent craving for colorful and pretty salads, I have begun to explore. Finally, I can say I am starting to think fibre can also be tasty. And that is something I will reserve to talk about in another post.

Last night, I was thinking to myself… how hard can it be to just get a bowl of cereal, pop a slice or two of bread in the toaster, crack an egg, beat and whip an omelette or simply make a porridge of oatmeal or millets? Let me tell you. Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day pour moi. Why? Because I grew up drinking a runny sweetened porridge that we call “kanji” before heading to school or college. Mom would always have them waiting at the dining table and all I was expected to do was drink it up and dash to school.  Breakfast was always something I knew, in the back of my mind, was good for health. Yet, something I never got around to make a habit until quite recently. Now I manage to get something every once in a while. It’s still not as good but something nevertheless.

So this morning after what I thought was another futile attempt at waking up early, I was woken up by my brand new community with the gazillion sounds of a gazillion bulldozers that are clearly not supposed to run at 8AM. Not good for the sleepy soul. A couple of coffees later, I decided I wanted to get myself a good breakfast. And to me, a good breakfast has to have eggs. I popped open the fridge only to find I had barely any veggies or other ingredients. My mind started doing its own weird thing and took me to an airport late at night. Most airports close their best restaurants by 8 or 9pm. The only places that are open then are small cafes that serve coffee, cakes, salads and basic sandwiches. And I thought… creamy egg salad. When I told my mom I was going to make us some creamy egg salad sandwich, she cringed her nose and said she wasn’t too comfortable knowing that it would have yellow mustard in it. I convinced her if she tried this, she wouldn’t be disappointed. She loved the sandwich and was pleasantly surprised at how the flavors had blended well covering the sour flavors of yellow mustard.

Creamy Egg Salad Sandwich (Makes 4)

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1/4 cup light mayo

1 tsp yellow mustard or any mustard you have on hand

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp powdered black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1 tsp chives (optional)

Method:

  1. Bring some water to a running boil in a saucepan. 
  2. Add the eggs and let them boil in the water for 15 mins.
  3. In the meantime, take a medium bowl add in the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Once the eggs are done, run them in cold water immediately. (Trick to avoid eggs going green – grey)
  5. Mix it all up until it looks absolutely divine.
  6. Take a slice of bread. Add 2 tbsp of the creamy egg salad and close it up with another slice.
  7. Relish this Delish!

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