Pumpernickel Gypsy Toast (aka French Toast)


I made some Gypsy Toast (aka French Toast) with my favorite bread today then decided to research it. After some googling and wiki’ing and ask’ing, I made an interesting discovery.  The oldest known recipe for this lovely and easy breakfast (or lunch or dinner) dish is found in an old Roman manuscript from the 4th century. It is a book of  recipes and may have been compiled as early as in the time of Tibirius. Wow. That really gave me goose bumps. I have to wonder what kind of bread they used. I’ll save that for another morning of googling, wiki’ing, and ask’ing.

It should really be called Roman Toast.


  1. Pumpernickel bread, 4 slices
  2. Eggs, 2
  3. Milk, 1/3 cup
  4. Canola oil, two tbsp
  5. Sugar-free sweetener, 2 packets (or honey or sugar…)
  6. Cinnamon, pinch
  7. Nutmeg, pinch
  8. Lemon, juice of 1/2
  9. Confectioners sugar to sprinkle on top


Whip the eggs, milk, sweetener, and spices together. Soak the bread slices in the egg mixture for two minutes, turning over halfway.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or griddle on high until hot.

Put the soaked slices of bread in the frying pan and turn the heat down to half. Cook about 30 seconds on each side or until egg mixture on the bread is lightly browned on either side.

Remove from pan, sprinkle lemon juice and confectioners sugar on top and serve.


Nankhatai – Butter Cookies

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This recipe has many variations and it’s the easiest and quickest way to add something yummy to your table. This cookie can be made with or without sugar. You can use sugar free sweeteners or make it savory, and it can also be made from a blend of different ingredients like sooji (semolina) to give it the extra protein. I sometimes make these cookies with gram flour also called besan (chickpea flour).


  1. All purpose flour 1 1/2 cup (or substitute up to half with Semolina or Besan or a mix of the two)
  2. Butter 1/2 cup (or non-dairy shortening)
  3. Confectioners sugar 1/2 cup
  4. Salt, a pinch
  5. Baking powder 1/2 tsp


Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Your baking tray should go into the center, not top or bottom of the oven.

Melt the butter for 20 seconds in the microwave and add all ingredients together in a bowl large enough so you can knead the dough easily.

Nankhatai 5

Mix using your hand and knead into a soft but not too sticky dough. At first it may actually feel too dry to shape into cookies and will resemble bread crumbs. Add a teaspoon of milk and knead some more. Add more milk as needed so the dough forms a nice ball but doesn’t stick to your hands.

Nankhatai 1

Shape the dough into little balls about the size of a tablespoon and indent with a finger. This helps the cookie bake evenly. When I don’t indent the cookies their centers are sometimes not cooked enough.

Nankhatai 2

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. The bottoms should be lightly browned. You can dust the cookies in confectioners sugar or leave them as is.  They can also be brushed with egg before baking and that gives them a shiny look.

Nankhatai 4



Beet Greens and Sweet Pepper Salad Sandwich

Beet greens and peppers 12

We had leftovers from the Beet Greens and Sweet Peppers Salad I made yesterday, so Hubby made me a sandwich today and it hit the spot! I like artisan bread or a bread of substance for sandwiches but we didn’t have any at home today. He made this using sesame burger buns and they worked. The bread is the most important ingredient in a sandwich. If it gets soggy, it’ll ruin everything. He toasted this roll so it would hold up better with the salad which has released more juices overnight in the fridge.


  1. Sesame roll
  2. Deli mustard
  3. Slice of cheese (or vegan cheese)
  4. Onion blossom sauce (optional)


Toast the sesame roll (or your choice of bread).

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Add mustard to one side (top) and onion blossom sauce to the other (bottom). I don’t know why Hubby does it this way but it works.

Beet greens and peppers 09

Add a slice of cheese to the bottom (he has a good reason for that)

Beet greens and peppers 10

Heat the leftover salad in the microwave for a minute and add to the top put the bottom over the top (so the salad doesn’t fall out) and flip sandwich over. The heated salad will melt the cheese a little but by having the cheese on the bottom it won’t get too gooey. Enjoy!!

Beet greens and peppers 11

Beet Greens and Sweet Pepper Salad (cooked)


I love most vegetables and until recently had never thought of using beet greens for anything. Now I eat them raw in salads, I put them in my juicer, I also add them to smoothies. This is a cooked salad. It is a very yummy vegan dish that takes only 15 minutes total prep and cooking time. It has a lot of flavor mainly from the vegetables themselves.  I made some yesterday and served it with Tamarind Rice. I have yet to make tamarind rice from scratch but will do soon. I buy the frozen packets from the local Indian store. It does contain peanuts so anyone with nut allergies should avoid the store bought version. I will figure out a recipe minus nuts and add it to my blog soon.

Don’t throw away the beets :). I will post a recipe for them soon too.


  1.  Beet greens from two or three beets (minus beets and stalks) washed and sliced
  2. Sweet peppers 5 or 6, sliced
  3. Onion, medium, sliced thinly
  4. Tomato, large, chopped
  5. Balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp (or more to taste)
  6. Cilantro (dry 1 tsp or fresh 1/2 cup chopped)
  7. Garlic powder 1 tsp
  8. Canola or other oil suitable for frying, 2 or 3 tbsp
  9. Salt (I don’t add any) and cayenne pepper (I like a 1/4 tsp)


Beet greens and peppers 01

In a medium sized saucepan, add oil and onions and stir fry over medium high until they are brown at the edges and turning soft. Add the tomatoes and continue frying for a minute until tomatoes are soft but not dissolved.

Beet greens and peppers 02

Add the sweet peppers and all ingredients except the greens and stir for a minute.

Beet greens and peppers 03

Add the greens, stir everything together, cover the pot and turn off the stove. Wait ten minutes and serve!!

Beet greens and peppers 04

Eggplant Bhurta – simple and quick


I got this recipe from my cousin Amna in Chicago. Amna was one of the world’s best cooks until she was confined to bed. Now she’s the best teacher anyone could have. I’m either in Chicago in her kitchen or on the phone with her from my kitchen in Florida.

Eggplant Bhurta, or Baingan (Eggplant in Hindi) Bhurta, or Bangin’ Baingans (as the hubby calls it), this is a very flavorful and easy dish to make in a very short time. The picture above is not very flattering. I forgot to take a photo until after we’d eaten most of it so this is a closeup of the leftovers 🙂 with my trusty phone.


  1. Eggplant – 1 large
  2. Cooking oil – 2 tbsp (I sometimes use more if I serve this with steamed rice)
  3. Onion – 1 medium
  4. Tomato – 1 large
  5. Tomato paste – 2 tbsp (optional – I like the tartness)
  6. Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  7. Cilantro – 1 cup chopped
  8. Salt and cayenne pepper to taste



Pierce the eggplant all over with a fork and bake in the microwave oven for 7 minutes (standard microwave).

While the eggplant is baking, chop the onion and tomato.

Fry the onions in the oil until soft and glassy looking, add cumin powder and fry until the cumin gives off a roasted smell then add tomato, and tomato paste. Continue frying until tomatoes are just tender.

Cut the eggplant lengthwise into four. Strip the skin off (allow to cool first) and discard. Chop the eggplant and add to the onion and tomato mixture and stir fry for about two or three minutes. Add the salt and cayenne powder and cilantro. Cover and let simmer on the lowest setting for about five minutes to infuse the eggplant with all the flavors.

I served this with Biryani yesterday but it’s good with steamed rice or any of the Indian or Pakistani breads.

Flying North in Winter?

No, it isn’t the deep dish pizza or Hot Doug’s Hot Dogs or the Book Cellar. Although, any and all of those would bring me to Chicago at any time of year, but this week, in the midst of yet another deep freeze it is my beautiful cousin Amna. Temps were a little friendlier when I booked the tickets. Had no idea I was flying into a third polar vortex. Yikes! But I’m happy to be with Amna although Amna may have been happier flying south to Florida in the winter but she has Post Polio Syndrome and can’t really leave home without a very complex entourage of nurses and equipment to keep her mobile while breathing safely. For now it’s a fun family reunion in her cozy apartment at the top of a building on the truly great Lake Michigan. And yes, as I cook away in her kitchen, I stop frequently to watch the winds push the ice floes around on the lake. It’s an amazing sight. Amna is no longer able to get to the window but I take lots of photos and stream them to her iPad so she knows what’s happening outside.

Amna has lived in Chicago for over thirty years and had never heard of a polar vortex until this winter and  now wow the third one is about to send this beautiful city into another deep freeze. After a week of above freezing temps, the lake is once again transforming into a winter wonder world. It is a beautiful city at any time of year.

I think I’m going to create a new item on my menu bar for Amna’s Chicago Kitchen. My cooking is inspired by her. I cook healthy foods. I try to. We have heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc. etc. etc… in our family and we’re doing our best to keep it all as far away as possible for as long as we can.  My goal is to keep things clean, easy, fresh, whole, and as vegetarian as possible.
I hope you’ll visit again. Ciao

Biryani with Soy and Green Peas

Biryani with Soy and Green Peas1

Ingredients for Garam Masalah

(Mix the following Garam Masalah spices in a bowl)
Cumin – 1 tsp
Cinnamon – 1 piece about an inch
Cardamom – 5
Cloves – 6
Peppercorns – 6
Bay leaf – 2
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Note…. When you mix the dry spices together, do a few extra batches and put them in ziploc bags for future cooking adventures. Saves time.

These spices are the basic whole (not ground) ingredients for “Garam Masalah.” Whole spices taste more delicate and the aroma is infinitely more pleasing. You can get all the above whole spices in a single bag from a local Indian store in the spices section. Just ask for a bag of whole mixed spices.

Other Ingredients

Onion – 1 medium, thinly sliced
Corn or Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Ginger and garlic paste – 1 heaped tsp (I buy the mixed paste at the Indian store)
Tomato – 1 medium, chopped into small pieces
Peas – 1 1/2 cups (I use frozen)
Soy meat – one cup (I use the Laxmi brand) soaked in two cups of warm water for 20 mins
Tomato paste – 2 or 3 tbsp
Cilantro – 1 cup chopped
Rice – 2 cups (I like the very long-grain Basmati from the Indian or Pakistani store)
Cayanne pepper powder –  to taste (I use 1/4 tsp)
Salt – to taste

Biryani with Soy and Green Peas3


Fry the onions in the oil on medium heat until golden brown.
Add ginger and garlic paste and fry for two minutes stirring to prevent sticking.
Add the whole garam masalah mixture, the chopped tomato, and tomato paste.

Drain the soy chunks and add them to the mix. Add the peas. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes making sure the mixture stays moist (you can add a little water at a time so it doesn’t dry out too much).

Biryani with Soy and Green Peas4

In a separate pan, cook the rice until almost tender. I use 1 1/2 times water to the rice (with salt). Drain any left over water and then layer the soy mixture on top. Cover and cook over low heat until rice is tender. Add chopped cilantro over the top and continue to cook over very low heat for about five minutes.

When you ladle it out into a serving dish, do not mix the rice and soy mixture too much. Just fold  with a spatula. You can always add more fresh cilantro at this point.

I served this to friends in Chicago (yes I’m crazy to be in Chicago when it’s so cold here) and they loved it. I also made eggplant and daal to go with it. Recipes follow soon.

Enjoy in good health!

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