Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bread Uppuma

This is one of the best recipes for transforming an ordinary bland starch such as bread to something quite interesting.

  • 6 bread slices cut into small cube
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely cut
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 green chillies, chopped
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 cloves, garlic
  • 2 spoons, ginger chopped into tiny pieces
  • 2 tsps. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/5 cup water
  • 2 Tbsps. oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh coriander for garnish

Add oil to a warmed pan, increase heat, splutter mustard seeds, add cumin and let it turn light brown. Add chillies, garlic, onion and ginger, sauté lightly. Add tomatoes, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes, do not pulp.
Add the bread cubes and mix in with the contents of the pan. Add water and salt, toss lightly. Cover and turn off heat. Before serving onto a plate, garnish with coriander leaves.
Cooking time with prep is about 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Eve dinner at Lorenzo's Trattoria on the Hill. An experience.

Our 10-day trip to Costa Rica exceeded expectations in every way. We came back rejuvenated - indescribable nature, food, people ... What a country!  Life there seemed to be uncomplicated, pure, and innocent.

While still reminiscing the trip and still in a daze, I went to work the next morning and took care of several of the pending items. I didn't realize we were just a day away from New Year's Eve. So, what do we do on the 31st? I had no plans. And, really was not in a mood to party. The flip side was nobody had invited us either!

At almost 10 P.M. on December 30th, I called up a few restaurants on 'The Hill', the center for some of the best Italian restaurants around here. Note, the words 'around here'. That's because Italian food in St. Louis, i.e. even on The Hill is at its best mediocre compared to the Italian restaurants in Philadelphia. Good food can completely spoil you and turn one into a unforgiving critic. That's me.

I got reservations for 6 P.M. at Lorenzo's on The Hill. We were there at 6:05 P.M. and seated immediately. The place appeared to be a home turned into a homey restaurant, extremely elegant. We started off with an appetizer. I will stick to what I ordered and not tread on areas that are not my expertise or hardly of any interest. So, strictly sticking to vegetarian here.

Tomato Mozzarella
Tomato and fresh mozzarella with red onions, capers, Kalamata olives, fresh basil and red wine vinaigrette. Nothing unusual and quite delicious. 

Potato Gnocchi

House-made potato gnocchi with luganiga and arugula in gorgonzola, fontina and parmesan sauce.  The presentation as you see here looked delectable. However, I found the white sauce was so white and bland lacking any kind of intrigue or interest. I doused it with crushed red pepper but that hardly added much except for a kick here and there. I was quite hungry, so dug in right away but after a few helpings decided to abandon it completely. Hmm, on a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 4.5.

What was quite annoying through this expensive dining experience was the fact that at least four times if not more, the waiter and the maître d' asked us if they can box our dishes while we were just about a fifth done. Maybe they were trained to do so or maybe they had people waiting for the next seating. We had not planned to be seated at 6 P.M. to get up and leave at 6:45 P.M.


The next course was the dessert, a traditional Tiramisu, the best of course of the evening. I should have ordered one for just myself but we decided to share as people around seemed to be in a hurry to be seated, and couldn't wait to get us off our seats.

The final vote? It would be our first and last time. There are other Italian restaurants to try anyways. We will come back to The Hill but definitely not to Lorenzo's. They lost us not so much for the average food as for the service. We did not feel it was a dining experience at all.

A dessert with puffed rice called 'Aval'

This dessert is called Aval Kesari, a no frills, no drills kind of a dessert.

In India, it is made as offering for prayers. Follow the steps in my recipe, start to finish it should take about 20 minutes.

Take a look at the recipe here from