Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Sugar Cookies

For Aishwarya's Halloween class party on Friday, I had to send something that relates to the theme. I made these cookies with help from Aishwarya and Aishwarya did the entire frosting. The sugary cob-webs was a big hit with the kids. So if you are planning to bake something for this Halloween for the kids, and/or with the kids, you can try this.
Happy Halloween!
Yields 35 cookies
Ingredients for Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Frosting:
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (the sugar must be sifted)
1 tablespoon milk (adding in more if needed for proper spreading consistency)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (can use 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in place of the almond)
food coloring (use your choice of colors)
For cookies;
In a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended.Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only).On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough into about 1/4-inch thickness.Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.Place cookies 2-inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake 4-6 minutes.Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely before icing.

For the frosting
Mix the confectioners sugar in a bowl, along with milk (start with 1-2 tablespoons, you may need more milk for the perfect spreading consistency). Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until the icing is smooth and glossy (if the icing is too thick, add in a small amount more of corn syrup).
Divide into as many separate bowls as you wish for different colors. Add in food coloring until desired intensity is achieved. I made frosting of two consistencies; one was thick and the other, thinner than that. I colored the thin one black. And I used a spoon to spread the thick icing on the cookies. On top of the wet white thick icing, pipe on the thinned back icings in circles. Drag a toothpick through the icing, starting at the middle, towards the outermost circle to make a spiderweb pattern. Let dry overnight. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Wish all my friends a fabulous Diwali.For this Diwali I thought of sharing with you all one of my favorite desserts - Rasgulla. Rasgullas are offered in the world-famous Jaganath temple at Puri as an offering to goddess Lakshmi. And so I thought it was appropriate that we have this for our Diwali celebration.
Recipe Source:Rak's Kitchen

Milk(full cream)-1 Litre
Lemon juice- 3 tbs
Sugar-2 cups
Water-3 &1/2cups
Cardamom powder-1/8 tsp
Ice cubes-12 nos
Bring the milk to a boil. Now lower the heat, add the lemon juice and stir well. After a few minutes milk will curdle and whey becomes clear and will separate. Now switch off the heat and add ice cubes and mix well. Drain the whey using a strainer  and rinse the cheese under cold water, and squeeze out the water well. This process removes the sourness of the lemon from the cheese. Transfer the cheese  into a  cheesecloth or muslin cloth. Then squeeze the excess water by keeping the cheese(wrapped in cheesecloth) under a heavy pan (or anything that is heavy). After 40 minutes check the cheese by taking a little  bit in your palm and rubbing with your fingers. After rubbing it for about 15-20 seconds, you should be able to make a firm but smooth ball. If it is not ready, keep it pressed for a little longer. Now knead this for 7-10 minutes gently to make it like a soft and smooth dough. I have tried using the food processor and that also works fine.
Make smooth equal sized  balls. You can make around 25 balls. Meanwhile put the sugar,cardamom powder,clove and water in a pressure cooker and  bring to a boil. Add the cheese balls  carefully one by one .After the pressure cooker starts steaming, put the weight and turn the heat to low and cook for about seven minutes. Open the cooker when all the pressure is released by itself. By now Rasgullas  would have doubled in size.
Refrigerate this and serve chilled!
Sending this  over  to 'My Diwali My Way' hosted by Khushi of 'A Girl`s Dairy'

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fruit Salad with Custard.

Last week, it was the  Diwali Celebration at Aishwarya's school. All the Indian parents made a dish each to give a taste of India to the staff and teachers of the school. Since I had a hectic week even otherwise, I thought of making a "make ahead" dish. As I am desserts person, I opted for this one. This is something I could make blindfolded as we make this so often at home. My mom used to make this when I was a kid and I literally "grew up" having this!
This was well appreciated by everyone who had this at the feast and I had the recipe requests from many. So here is a quick, simple and healthy dessert for the holidays.
Custard powder -4 Tbs (can substitute this with corn starch)
Milk -2 1/2cups
Fruits ( apples,grapes,oranges,pineapple, banana or any others of your liking)-1 cup
Sugar- 5 Tbs
Vanilla extract -1/2 tsp ( if using corn starch)
Jello-1 packet (You will only need half of the Jello for this quantity of fruit salad)
Mix the custard  powder or  cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold milk. Bring the rest of the milk to a boil along with 4 table spoons of sugar. Take the milk away from the heat; add the custard mix. Cook this for about 5 minutes or till the custard  thickens. (For those of you who are using corn starch in place of the custard powder, add a little bit of yellow food color to give your custard the usual color and add the vanilla extract to this.) Refrigerate this for 5 hours or till evenly cold. Make Jello as per the directions on the pack but use 1/2 a cup less water so that the Jello can be cut into little pieces after it sets. Refrigerate this till it sets and cut into small pieces. Meanwhile cut the fruits into little bite sized pieces. Add 1 tablespoons of sugar along with juice of half a lemon and mix well and refrigerate this too. After 5 hrs or so mix the fruits  and jello along with custard and serve

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hara Bhara Kebab

For this week's Blog hop Wednesday by Radhika, I was paired with  Archana . She has a wonderful food blog with so many tempting dishes.While going through her blog I came upon  this recipe and remembered a promise I made to my daughter last summer when we were in India. While restauarnt hopping there, Aishwarya had tried this and as she is a big fan of anything green, got a big liking for this. She made me promise that I would try this out once back in the US,but I completely forgot about this until I saw it in The Mad Scientist's Kitchen.  Thank you Archana, you  just made my daughter one happy girl.
Recipe source:The Mad Scientist's Kitchen
3 potatoes, peeled and boiled
1 cup frozen peas,
1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped
2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
2tbs mint chutney
1tbs chat masala
3tbs slightly crushed cashew nuts
3 tbsp corn flour
3 tsp olive oil
Blanch spinach and green peas,squeese out the water and puree both spinach, peas and chillies without addding water. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the oil. Mash until fairly smooth.
Take a spoonful of the mixture, the size of a golf ball, and flatten it to make a burger shape. Repeat with the remaining mixture.Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and lightly fry the patties for 2 minutes on each side, cooking them well. Drain on kitchen paper towels. Serve hot.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vegetable Pot Pie

With all the festivals one after the other and other celebrations at home I couldn't find  time to  take a breather for my blog  or visit any of my blogger friends as much as I love to do. I hope all of you are enjoying this festival season as much as I am.
If you are looking for an easy and satisfying dish to make for your family or friends,this festival season look no further - this is the ideal one. It is a quick recipe and the beauty of this is that if you are hard for time, you can even split this recipe and and make the vegetable portion beforehand and refrigerate it. When you want to serve it just pop it in along with the puff pastry in the oven to get a hot and appealing meal.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced yellow onion
1/4 fennel bulb, top and core removed, thinly sliced crosswise
2 tbs all-purpose flour
3/4 cup good vegetable stock
1/8 tsp star anise  powder
1/8 tsp fennel powder
Pinch saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh paneer
1/4 cup diced potatoes
2 tbs green peas
1/4 cup peeled,diced carrots
1/4cup peeled, diced butternut squash
1/8 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 sheet frozen puff pastry,thawed

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute until translucent. Add the flour, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, fennel,star anise,saffron, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and season to taste. The sauce should be highly seasoned.
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water . Lift out with a sieve. Add the carrots,peas and squash to the pot and cook in the boiling water. Drain well. Add the paneer,potatoes, mixed vegetables and parsley to the sauce and mix well.
Heat oven to 400 degree F.Cut the puff pastry into eight rectangles. Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls  Place on a baking sheet and bake along with the puff pastery for about 20 minutes till the pastery is  golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.Serve hot .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mint Aloo Chaat

This is the 6th week of Blog Hop Wednesday and this week I am paired with Radhika, the mastermind behind this series. As many of you know, she has a wonderful food blog; and each time I visit her space I find recipes that call out to you. This recipe caught my attention due to its simplicity and ease of preparation. It was well liked by my family. I especially loved the freshness that lingers back in your mouth even long after having this.
Recipe Source: Tickling Palates
Baby Potatoes-1/2 Kgs.
Coriander leaves-1 bunch
Mint leaves-1/2 bunch
Green chillies-3 – 4
Corn flour-1 tbsp
Chaat masala-1/2 tsp
Salt-To taste
Butter-2 tbsp
Pressure cook the baby potatoes with a pinch of salt and remove the skin. If your potatoes are big cut them in two.  Wash the coriander and mint leaves.  Grind  the leaves, green chillies, ginger and salt together to a fine paste adding just little water.In a bowl mix the corn flour with little water without any lumps. Add this to the ground green paste and mix well.Put  potatoes into this and mix well to marinate. Let it stand for 10-15 mins.Melt butter in a pan and add the marinated baby potatoes and mix well. Cook over low flame till the butter mingles with the potatoes and coats it well. Take care not to burn.
Switch off the stove and sprinkle chaat masala generously and give it a toss. Transfer to a plate and serve hot.
Sending this over to Blog Hop Wednesday

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nutella Raspberry Crepes

We don't typically cook anything for breakfast on weekdays. We would either have something simple like boiled eggs, cereals or just reheat some oats porridge made the previous night. It is only on Sundays that we have a freshly cooked meal for breakfast. Typically it is  Jai who makes the breakfast  and as Aishwarya loves pancakes, that would be the most frequent one.(He makes excellent pancakes from scratch - I'll post the recipe for that later).
Today, for a change, I thought of taking the mantle to make the breakfast. When I asked Aishwarya what she wanted today, she demanded something made with Nutella, her favorite spread. So I thought of making this delicious crepe that I often make using Alton Brown's original recipe.
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
Nuttella as required
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a plate.
Spread each crepe with about 1 tablespoon of hazelnut spread. In one half of the crepe, arrange rasberries on top of nuttella  and fold the crepe over in half. Repeat this with all of the crepes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apple 'N Carrot Turnover-A Tribute to Steve

The news of the sad demise of Steve Jobs was a rather upsetting one, though expected. We all knew that he was not keeping well,  but we were hoping for him to comeback bouncing to active life the way he had done always - whether in career or life.
For me living in Cupertino, Apple is a part of the everyday life. I have to pass the Apple headquarters almost every day. I see Apple employees tutoring kids in my daughter's school, and of course, so many of my neighbors work for Apple. And one of the first things that my friends from India ask me when they realize that I live in Cupertino just a block away from the Apple Headquarters is that whether I had ever seen Steve Jobs. I used to joke that Steve used to have lunch at our place every other day! But the sad part is that though I had lived for over 5 years now so close to Apple, I had never once got a chance to see this icon of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship even once!
I dedicate this apple turnover to the memory of one of the ever resilient and iconic figures  of the new generation.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cups (1/4-inch) diced peeled carrots
1 cup (1/4-inch) diced peeled gala apple
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly pepper flakes
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 recipe of pie crust (use only 1/4 cup sugar)
1 tablespoon milk
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and chilli flakes sauté for 3 minutes. Add carrots; sauté for another 3 minutes. Add apple; cook 2 more minutes or until carrot and apple are tender. Stir in salt. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Gently stir in cheese and basil. Separate pie dough into 8 pieces. Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.(Combine 1tbs mustard sauce and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl. Apply a thin layer of this on the rolled out dough - this is an optional step, only if you love the flavor of mustard sauce). Spoon about 2 tablespoons apple mixture onto half of each circle, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Fold dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal. I have used a mold.  Brush milk over dough. Place turnovers 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 19 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kesari / Suji Halwa / Sheera

Today being the first day of  Saraswati Pooja, I thought of making Kesari as an offering to Sarawati devi. My reasoning was that since Saraswati pooja is of major significance for the kids, the offering also should be appealing to my little one. After the pooja she was happy to gobble up the major share of it and is looking forward to what the offering would be for tomorrow!
I am dedicating this post to all those little ones who are about to take their first steps to the world of knowledge on this upcoming Vijayadasami day.
1 cup of rava (semolina)
1&1/2 to 2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of cashewnuts (optional)
1/4 cup of raisins(optional)
4 tbsp of ghee
A pinch of orange food color
1tsp cardamom or 4 cloves or a mix of both
2 & 1/2 cups of  hot water
In a thick bottom pan roast cashew and raisins in 1tbs of ghee. (As my daughter doesn't like cashew and raisins in kesari I didn't do this step.)  Set the roasted nuts and raisins aside. Heat another tablespoon of ghee and roast the rava till it turns to a light pink color. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of hot water to this. Stir constantly while doing this.  When rava is fully cooked, add the sugar and stir well. If you are adding color do that at this time. When the sugar is fully dissolved, add the remaining ghee. Keep stirring until the rava starts leaving the sides of the pan and white streaks start to appear. Garnish with the fried cashews and raisins and cardamom powder. If you prefer to cut it into little squares or diamonds transfer it into a greased tray or mould and once it cools down cut it in your desired shape.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chilli Soy

This is a dish that I usually make as an accompaniment to go along with fried rice. The original recipe is something I had from way back - I don't even remember where I got it from. I had made my own variations to this over the years. I would highly recommend this for any vegetarians who loves the Indo-Chinese cuisine, as my family and I had always loved this dish.
Soy chunks - 200 gm
Corn Flour - 1 tbsp
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Ginger pate - 30 gm
Garlic paste - 50 gm
Chilli Sauce - 3 tbsp
Soy sauce - 3 tbsp
Vinegar - 3 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Egg (optional) - 1 no
Oil - for shallow frying
Cook the soy chunks and squeeze out the water. Mix all the remaining  ingredients and marinate the soy chunks with it and keep for an hour. Shallow fry the soy chunks. You can have it as such or you can add a little more zing by doing a little more as below.
Stir fry vegetables like carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, onion etc. and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup and mix the fried soy with this. This is typically how I love to have this.
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