Continental Fare · Kid Friendly Recipes.

Corn Au Gratin served with Toast. (Corn cauliflower and herbs in white sauce baked with a cheesy crust)

The first time I ever had Corn Au Gratin was at Mathsya Restaurant on Mount Road, Chennai. I had no idea what an “au gratin” was and the only real reason I ordered the dish when my other cousins had chosen Matar Pulav and fried rice was I liked the way that it sounded all fancy and french! But when I got the dish all I could see was white gooey mass cleverly filled in a serving dish with a lovely golden crust with a splash of green chopped cilantro. But the minute I dug in to it, I was transported to food heaven….it was a celebration of soft, white sauce, a dash of pepper, pieces of sweet corn,  with clear undertones of butter and cheese….there was no looking back. I now had a new favourite dish. I tried it in every new restaurant we would dare to try. This was officially my new benchmark for my judgement on a restaurant.

The next best time that  I can definitely recall was at Eden, Besant Nagar, Chennai. It was called “Corn Florentine” and was just priced at 150 rupees! It was absolutely amazing, hot, and gooey filled with cheese and I am guessing spinach. My daughters loved it and enjoyed the textures and tastes! When we came back to the US she wanted me to recreate the dish for her at home. It is an easy dish to make, with ingredients available at home. If you already have the bechamel sauce made ahead, all you need to do it add corn and spinach and cauliflower and bake! That simple! I promise you, it would never be disappointing. Such a lovely wholesome dish filled with corn and spinach and any other vegetable you like served with warm toast!!!


1 MediumOnion Finely chopped.

1 cup Finely shredded cauliflower.

2 Cups Fresh Corn.

Salt to taste.

1 – 1 1/2 Tsp Pepper Powder.

1/4 Tsp Dried Oregano.

4 Tbsp Butter.

4 Tbsp All Purpose Flour.

1 3/4 Cup Milk.

1/3 Cup Shredded Cheese. (Anything cheese that melts easily but not get too sticky – I used a combination of Asadero, Mozarella and sharp Cheddar.)


  • In a wide mouthed kadai add 1 tsp of butter and allow it to melt slowly. Add the finely chopped onions and let them saute well.
  • Meanwhile pop the cauliflower in the food processor and give it a quick pulse. I prefer to pulse the cauliflower as this easily blends in to the dish without sticking out, yet providing valuable body and soul to the dish.
  • You can omit the cauliflower if needed.
  • Once the onions are sauted add the cauliflower and corn. Add salt to the veggies and allow them to cook for a couple minutes. Switch off and set aside.


  • In a clean kadai add the 4 tbsp of butter and allow to melt. Slowly add the all purpose flour and whisk briskly under medium low flame.
  • Allow the flour to cook in the butter and whisk briskly until it turns a light yellowish shade.
  • Slowly add the milk and continue stirring. The roux mixes in to the milk and you get a lovely creamy off white sauce.
  • Keep stirring until all the flour has dissolved in to the milk.
  • Add the pepper powder, salt  and oregano and stir it well.
  • Now add the shredded cheese and allow to slowly melt.
  • Switch off the flame and set aside.


  • Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180 C and grease an oven proof pan. I used a 9 inch cake pan.
  • Add the cooked veggies to the white sauce and stir well. Taste at this point to check if the spice from the black pepper and the salt are fine. Adjust the levels now as you cant alter anything once the dish is baked.
  • Pour in to the baking pan and top with bread crumbs. This renders the au gratin with a lovely crusty top filled with gooey goodness inside, but can be totally omitted if you prefer to.
  • Top with more shredded cheese and pop in to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes DEPENDING ON THE STRENGTH OF THE  OVEN , THE CAPACITY, THE BAKING DISH ETC.
  • When done, keep outside to cool for a few minutes.
  • Serve piping hot au gratin with warm toast on the side.


  1. The consistency of the white sauce before baking should be creamy and silky. When you dip a ladle in to the sauce, it should coat it well and not be runny.
  2. The consistency of the baked au gratin should be a little soft and gooey but NOT runny.
  3. Add chopped spinach if you have some in your refrigerator. Corn and Spinach Au gratin has a totally out of the world taste!
  4. The first time I made au gratin I had used little pepper so this made the final dish a little bland. Pepper is the only spice and taste in this dish, so go ahead and spice it up!
  5. Adding one or two garlic pods before adding the onions to the butter give it another twist to the au gratin altogether!
Italian Cuisine.

Penne Pasta & Roasted Vegetables in Quick White Sauce.

Penne Pasta with veggies in white sauce.
Penne Pasta with veggies in white sauce.

My forays in to italian cooking are definitely inspired by Giada Laurentis of foodtv fame, but I have my own methods and madness of cooking up a storm here. I always like to start with a lot of veggies as I am always looking at ways to compensate the body`s requirement of fibre, iron etc, that might not form a part of our regular south indian cooking. I dont have a fixed recipe in the mind when I begin, but some how as I chop the vegetables, somewhere in the back of my mind, there are instructions and my hands fluidly follow them…

Today I knew that hubby dear would come home ravenous, and I need to give him a filling dinner with a lot of vegetables. I looked at the vegetables that I had to start my pasta…Yes I did have the Whole Wheat Penne, as I had already tried the angel hair pasta the last time and well, in my opinion penne is a lot more easier to pick wth a fork!!! I would have appreciated butternut squash or my all time favourite – zucchinni, but I had to make do with what I had…Onions, carrots, peppers and hey I had some fresh mushrooms. I still had some leftover Italian flat leaf parsley from two weeks back, which I had saved in a ziploc, rolled tightly in a soft fresh tissue towel. I also felt like using cilantro today, although I knew that was distinctly “Not Italian”!!!

The instructions would definitely “seem” a little winding and long, but its definitely a quick dish to make, once you get a hang of things.Don`t worry about the ingredients – You could make do, even if you have one or two of them missing.


1 pound of Whole Wheat Pasta. ( I used the one with the extra fibredsc002161

1 Onion sliced thin and long.

1 green pepper sliced.

1 carrot sliced thin and long.

12-13 Mushrooms sliced.

Small Bunch of Itlain Parsleychopped. (Optionally use dried parsley)

3 spoons of Part Skim Ricotta Cheese.

2 spoons of Part Skim Cream Cheese.

1 spoon of Light Sour Cream.

1 spoon of dried basil.

1 spoon of dried oregano.

A pinch of nutmeg.

Salt & Pepper.

1 spoon of butter.

Mozzarella Cheese to top.


  • Saute the vegetables and mushroom very lightly for 2 mins in a spoon of butter. This enhances the flavour of the vegetables and the mushroom.  This step is optional and can be omitted.
  • Line a baking sheet with oil spray and add all the sliced veggies and mushrooms. Sprinkle salt and pepper sufficiently and some of the chopped parsley and dried basil.
Veggied with parsley, basil and pepper ready to get roasted.
Veggies with parsley, basil and pepper ready to get roasted.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F and pop it in to the oven to roast for ten  minutes or until the veggies are roasted and soft. Pull out and keep aside.
  • In a wide mouthed container add enough water to allow the pasta to drown and cook for 12 mins or according to the instruction on the pasta container, along with  1 spoon of salt.
  • When its cooked almost 70% drain out the pasta and save one cup of the pasta water.
  • In a cup mix the ricotta cheese, cream cheese and sour cream and add some chopped cilantro and chopped parsley.
  • Into the baking dish containing the roasted veggies, add the hot pasta, dried basil, dried oregano and a pinch of nutmeg  and the cheese mixture.
  • Mix well so the cheese will slowly melt in the heat of the pasta. If you find that its too dry, add 1/2 cup of pasta water and mix the vegetables, the pasta and the cheese sauce.
  • Add more salt or pepper if you deem it necessary.
Mozzarella Cheese sprinkled over the pasta before baking.
Mozzarella Cheese sprinkled over the pasta before baking.
  • Sprinkle part skim grated mozzarella cheese over the pasta and pop it again in the oven covered with a foil sheet  for about 1o minutes at 350F.
  • Bake for another 5 minutes with the foil removed.
  • Serve simmering Hot pasta to your family and enjoy the fragrance of the cheese sauce, herbs and veggies.