Recipes for Vegetable Lasagna and White Sauce Pasta

What will happen to this world if we do not have people who love to cook and experiment with their food? People like me, who cannot cook to save their life, however are die hard foodies, would always be thankful to people like Poonam Batra and Gaytri Vyas, who have very kindly shared their recipes with us.
Poonam Batra shares this recipe for Veg Lasgna, with healthy option thrown in too.
Ingredients:
Stuffing
Mixed Chopped Vegetables (Beans, Carrots, Peas) 2 cups
Zucchini 1Cup – Chopped
Cottage Cheese 1 Cup
Onion 1 Piece – Chopped
Chilly Powder
Salt to taste
Olive oil to Sauté the vegetables
Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes 1 Kg
Sugar 3 tsp
Chilly Powder 1/2 tsp
Fresh Cream 3 tbsp
Oregano
Salt to taste
Topping
White sauce 1 1/2 cup
Fresh cream 3 tbsp
Cheese 6 tbsp
Salt and Pepper
Ready Made Lasagna sheets 10 no.s
Method
Boil the sheets in water with few drops of oil. Drain and keep it on a greased dish.
Stuffing
Sauté onions till pink. Add vegetables and cook partially. Add zucchini; make sure they are not very soft. Add the seasoning.
Tomato Sauce
Blanch the tomatoes, Peel the skin and mash. Mix everything except the cream and boil to make sauce. Add cream in the end. For healthy variation, skip cream and add milk instead. Keep aside.
White Sauce
Mix cream and grated cheese with the white sauce. For healthy variation, add grated cottage cheese and skip cream n cheese all together.
Assembling
Grease a baking dish. Line it with sauce and layer it alternatively with Lasagna sheets, vegetables and sauce. The top layer should be of the sheets. Cover with white sauce and bake till done.
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Gaytri Vyas shares recipe for White Sauce Pasta.
Ingredients

1.     2 tbsp. butter
2.     2 cups milk
3.     1 and a half cup full cream milk
4.     1 cup boiled pasta of your choice
5.     1 small tbsp. all purpose flour (maida)
6.     Mushroom thinly sliced
7.     3 processed cheese cubes or more if you prefer
8.     Black pepper
9.     Salt to taste
10.   Oregano for flavor

Method
1.     In a pan add 1 tbsp. butter, and sauté the sliced mushrooms till they are brown and
        keep them aside.
2.     In another pan, add butter, flour, roast flour so that it cooks but make sure it doesn’t get 
        brown.
3.     Add milk to it and stir continuously so as to avoid lumps.
4.     Let it heat a little and add cheese cubes in it after grating it or cutting in small pieces
        so that it melts easily.
5.     Now cook it until it comes to a boil.
6.     Add pasta, and cooked mushrooms.
7.     Bring it to a boil and you will notice that the sauce gets thicker.
8.     Add salt and pepper to taste (do not add before as the milk may curdle)
9.     Add roasted oregano on the top and enjoy with your loved ones.
Tips

1.     You can add other vegetables also of your choice.
2.     I’ve cooked it without flour but then it is not that thick.
3.     Put off the flame when the sauce is not that thick. It becomes thicker while you eat it.
4.     Domino’s oregano tastes best as the topping.
5.     This sauce can also be cooked with only vegetables, which also taste yummy.

Again friends, no one claims to be an expert here, and we all are together just for love of food. So go ahead and try these out, I am sure you would have a good time. Feel free to post your inputs, feedback or changes to these recipes in the comments.

My First Food Raid – The Brick House Diner – A Vegetarian’s Perspective

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.
 
So today was the day when I went for my first “FED raid” as they call it. It was so frickin’ brilliant. Bunch of foodies gathering together, literally ordering everything possible from the menu. As I was going to visit this place, I was reminded of the episode from How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall waits 8 years to eat the best burger in New York.

And as today I was coming back from the “raid”, my sister’s first reaction after coming near me was that I smell of food. So mission accomplished.

A yummy non veggie burger, look at the cheese dripping out. Yumm !
So we all, as decided, went to a place called The Brick House Diner, located right in front of Venky (the college). The best part about the “Diner” is its location. As soon as you turn left towards Venky, you can spot the shiny neon sign.

The interiors are, as the name suggests, made of brick, although the space is short for large gatherings. It is a comforting, non formal setting and that is what works I guess when you open a diner opposite a college.

The Raiding Party, waiting patiently for their food to arrive
The Raid Party, from another angle

So I heard that the place was famous for its burgers. There are very few places in Delhi which serve good burgers and that too vegetarian ones (and no I am not including Mc Donald’s in the list, for the love of god people, come on). There has been Hard Rock, American Diner and News Cafe. The last one i haven’t been to, but have heard a lot. Burgers have always been a non veggie paradise and I still have yet to come in contact with the best burger in Delhi. The best vegetarian burger!!!

The litchi ice tea. The transparent thing is the litchi Jello-O, superb
So it started out quite differently than usual with 2 drinks coming our way. The first one being a frappe and the second one was a litchi ice tea. The frappe tasted like any other nescafe frappe and it wasn’t until my friend pointed out that it was sweeter and chocolaty than normal frappe. I am not much of a coffee person and frankly couldn’t make out much. But the litchi ice tea was quite a surprise. It was regular ice tea with a hint of litchi. Pretty good but the surprise was a litchi jelly masquerading as an ice cube. For the longest time, I was wondering that why wasn’t the ice cube melting. Very clever and innovative. This has potential to be a sure hit with the campus crowd.
Finally starters for the vegetarians, one in green color, the other in brown
Some non veggie starter, looks fantastic.
Again something for Non-vegetarians
Shrimp Tapsa, the non veggies couldn’t stop eating and we couldn’t stop looking and get jealous

For starters, there was a tapas platter containing two veggie skewers. One green in color and the other brown. The green one had peanuts and peas and I couldn’t make out about the other one. The former was definitely better than the brown one and overall made for quite a good start.

The Erstwhile Garden burger, ahem
The Non-Veg burger again (don’t know which one) in its full glory

After the drinks, came the main course. There were a million varieties for non veg burgers and only 2 for vegetarians. But the chief chef had cooked up a very special, experimental 3rd variety for the health conscious, calorie counting campus crowd, which is not on the menu. The chef was trying it out for the first time and was asking us for opinions about the same.

The experimental one was a garden burger, another one was a veggie’s delight and the third one was a beetroot and corn burger. We ordered one of each variety but sadly due to a mix up with the waiters, we got 4 garden burgers and one veggie delight.

Fresh and crispy French Fries – They did a great job with those

Now I am fundamentally and conceptually against healthy food. And I am generally not excited when anything is named after a salad. The garden burger was kinda dry and for the first time I was missing a tomato slice in it. (FYI I hate tomatoes). I have always wanted my burgers to be juicy and succulent and this sadly wasn’t. There was no cheese (gasp gasp). But still a decent effort and considering that it was made specially for the FED raid, it was very sweet of the chef. But here’s hoping that it never makes to the final menu .

The second burger, the veggie delight, was juicier and thankfully had cheese. However, I could not taste any of the garlic mayo as promised. The third burger never came but honestly would love to see what they do with beetroot in a burger.

Pestolicious Pizza, it really was pestolicious
Melt in your mouth Pizza filled with Cheese, Superb !

The pizza we ordered was a pesto based veggie pizza. Now too much of pesto can really screw up a pizza and make it bitter. But here the pesto was in moderation and unlike the usual tomato based pizzas which are oh-so-common. The best and I mean the best part is the base of the pizza. It is a secret recipe and is made by mixing two kinds of dough and what a dough that was. The base was soft and melt-in-your-mouth kinds. The veggies nicely cooked and the cheese strands literally filling your mouth coming together with the oh-so-soft pizza and perfectly cooked veggies. People were sniggering at my tendency to put mustard on it but hey I liked it better with the mustard.

The best part about the place is the pricing. It has its pricing spot on, aiming at the campus crowd. Burgers for Rs. 80 and pizzas for Rs. 150-170 something, this was a shock in these Rs. 500-700 ranged burgers available nowadays.

The big daddy of ’em all – The Ghost Burger, three layers of patty and you can see the half fried Egg in between
Chicken something Pasta – Looked heavenly
The pasta again, 2 seconds before it vanished from the plate
The non veggies on the other end of the table had huge grins on their faces as they gorged on the “Ghost” burger (3 layers of patties and a half fried egg (hmm??) in between) and chicken pasta and some such. The place clearly has more varieties for non veggies as most burger joints are. There was a vegetarian version of the Ghost burger too, which was prepared using the same ingredients as the Garden (erstwhile) burger. Loved the size of the burger (it was incredibly huge) but think will stay away from it as I wasn’t a big fan of the garden burger to begin with.
Laurel and Hardy

And the regret of my life, the greatest Pic of the GHOST Burger, the veg version

I am especially interested in their “Man v/s Food” contest where patrons have to eat 5 big ghost burgers in 1 hour. And it will have a wall of fame and a wall of shame too. And of course their jello shots which fellow FEDs got after I had left after eating my share and that too ON THE HOUSE (WHAT THE HELL!!!). They couldn’t stop talking about it too and then posted a pic to make me jealous.

The Jello shots, which fellow FEDs got on the FREAKIN’ HOUSE (daaammmnn !), they look divine and am sure tasted that way too

So vegetarians can go to this place for its comfortable, non intimidating surroundings and jelly filled ice teas and surprisingly soft pizzas. Not so much for the burgers though. For non veggies, well by the looks of my fellow feds, they’ll be back for sure for more burgers and pastas and what not.

Mouthful of the Ghost Burger
The FED responsible for it all, Harbeer, having time of his life.
Shubam and this pic needs no caption.. hehee
Me looking at the carnivores go at their burgers, SIGH !
A satisfied bunch, with Chef and Owner, Bhuvnesh

PS The awesome, mouth watering, makes-you-wanna-drool pics are provided by none other than the Chief FED – Shashank, we should probably name him something like “Captain” or “General” !

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.

The Big Chill Cafe – Dessert-a-thon : A report from FED raid

The Big Chill Cafe, a name that has risen to incredible heights in food scene of Delhi over the last decade. I am not able to recall any other joint that serves non-Indian cuisine that is as popular as The Big Chill Cafe. And as surprising as it sounds, my first rendezvous with them was just 2-3 weeks back, and since then I have been there 4 times, my last visit being last night itself.

What started as as a single restaurant in East of Kailash, now has 4 outlets, the original being closed a few years back. They are known for their desserts, more than anything else, and with my limited experience with them, I am not surprised. Whatever I have tried there till date, I have not been disappointed.

Giving the reputation and my desire to visit The Big Chill Cafe, when FED had to call for a meetup, it seemed to be an obvious choice, and the agenda was very clear, to sample very single cheese cake on their menu and then some. With date and time decided, 10 of us descended on Big chill for a RAID. And order was made pretty much simple to the waiter serving us, get ALL the cheesecakes on the menu and if there were some not on menu, get those as well.

This is what out table looked like 😀
Chocolate Double Decadence
Mississippi Mud Pie
Tiramisu Cheese Cake
 There we were 10 of us, sitting on a table with about 10 cheese cakes along with Banoffie Pie, Chocolate Truffle and Frozen Yoghurt, though I do not recollect all the names and the ones I remember might not be accurate, however you will get an idea.  There was Mississippi Mud Pie, Chocolate Double Decadence, Blueberrry Cheese Cake, Tiramisu Cheese Cake, Irish Cream Cheese Cake, Plain Cheese Cake, Mango Cheese Cake,  and waiters looking at us in amazement. Then started the conveyer belt, the desserts started doing the rounds and we were digging in each one of them one after the other. Each better or as good as other other one, least favorite of someone was the most favorite of other. Surprisingly we reached a point where small amount of some cake was left on the table and no one wanted to eat it, no one was full, however the senses were overloaded. Now we needed to change the taste, enough with those ‘starters’ :D.
FEDs at The Big Chill Cafe
FEDs at The Big Chill Cafe
Garlic Bread
Fattoush Salad
Penne Pasta with Mixed Sauce
Spaghetti and Mushrooms

Chicken Lasagna
Veg. Peri Peri Pizza
 Then came the main course, here I must mention that every time I have been to the Big Chill Cafe, they have managed to surprise me with their service and efficiency. The rates are quite reasonable for current times and portion sizes are good. We ordered several things including Pastas, Pizza, Garlic Bread and Fattoush Salad, I personally cannot comment on authenticity of the food, however we enjoyed everything we had, and it was not different from my experience earlier where we had a Pesto Pasta, Four seasons Pizza and Mezze Platter.
Veg. Four Seasons Pizza

Mezze Platter
Overall my 2 cents say, Big Chill Cafe is about no pretensions eating, in a relaxed atmosphere. The place is almost always full, informal, chirpy and they do not accept reservations over the phone and waiting for a table is quite expected.

It was a great evening, and as I have mentioned earlier on FED, that joy of sharing food is like no other, and this is what we discovered on that day as well, and thanks to The Big Chill Cafe for making it a pleasant experience.

If I am asked to rate this place, I would give it a 4/5.

PS : All pictures in this post  have been shot using my mobile phone camera, so pardon the quality.