Good morning. My name is Manjari, and I am a foodie.
It started when I was 17, the age that I started exploring the culinary “scene” in downtown Ottawa – late, I know, but better than never, right? I discovered delightful little out-of-the-way bakeries and patisseries with to-die-for pecan date squares, tiny sandwich shops, tea stores and coffee shops. This was the age that I discovered dim sum, with its endless parade of apronned Chinese ladies touting their exotic (and delicious) wares – shrimp and pork shu mai, barbeque pork buns, sticky rice with beef, chicken feet, turnip cakes… the list goes on. I fell deeply in love with pho before I had reached the age of 20.
I also developed a passion for cooking, and in doing so, developed a new bond with my mother (with whom I had for a few years been at odds – I blame teen angst). She taught me to cook all of the traditional vegetarian Indian food that I had grown up with – black eyed-pea curry, stuffed baby eggplants, okra, dosa, and of course, the ubiquitous dal. We also started to cook non-Indian food, experimenting with homemade sushi, rice paper rolls and black bean mango burgers and, much to the delight of my brother and dad, perfected our recipes for pecan pie and sticky date pudding. The three years I spent living with 4 fabulous girls in our little house in Kingston was peppered (pun intended) with food adventures – chocolate pudding cake, courtesy of S, lemon squares (courtesy of H), quinoa salad (again, H), macaroni and cheese with hot dogs (seriously), and a tireless parade of chocolate banana bread.
These days, I still turn to cooking as a kind of escape from the harried and stressful world of grad school and the anxiety associated with entering the work world. There is nothing easier than whipping up a quiche Lorraine as a quick weeknight dinner, nothing lovelier than the smell of hazelnut espresso biscotti lingering in the air while you are bent over your books, and no better way to end an evening of work than with a freshly baked oatmeal cranberry cookie.
Here is my favorite recipe for avocao bruscetta, a surprisingly easy and quick appetizer or weekend snack that is a fresh, creative way to enjoy the subtle, creamy taste of avocados…perhaps on a terasse with a crisp glass of pinot grigio? Just a suggestion….
Avocado Chimichurri Bruscetta
Adapted (slightly) from Vegetarian Times Magazine
Juice from 1 large lemon
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
salt and pepper, to taste
French baguette, sliced and toasted lightly with olive oil
Fold all ingredients together until well combined, taking care not to mash the avocado.
Top freshly toasted baguette with bruscetta, and serve on a lovely late spring day.