Friday, April 29, 2011

Chocolate Biscuit Cake - Royal Wedding Special

The whole day today, there was only one thing on the television - the Royal Wedding. After watching it for a while, I felt I was part of the celebration. Then I saw the groom's cake and it looked so delectable. So me and my little ''Princess" decided to make this. Aishwarya was a big help; she was happy mixing the butter, sugar and the chocolate, though she sneakily licked some of it :-). Aishwarya tried out her Karate in breaking the biscuits to pieces. This worked out well and we had a nice after dinner dessert.
Original Recipe is from Oprah, courtesy to Darren McGrady, the former Royal Chef.

8 ounces tea biscuits
4 ounces unsalted butter , softened
4 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate , for the cake
2 tsp milk
8 ounces dark chocolate , for coating (optional)
Line 3 individual dessert bowls with cling-wrap film, such that the cling-wrap film is extending out.
(If you are planning to make it as a single cake, use a 6" x 2 1/2" spring-form pan. Grease the sides with 1/2 tsp butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.) Break each of the biscuits into almond-size pieces by hand and set aside.Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. Melt the 4 ounces of dark chocolate  by double boil method, adding 2 tsp milk. When the chocolate is cold enough add it to the butter mixture while constantly stirring. Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.Spoon the mixture into the prepared bowls. Make sure there are no gaps while filling.
Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Optional: If you want to give your cake a beautiful final touch, coat and decorate after removing the cake from the refrigerator.  Pour 8 ounces of dark chocolate over it after taking out the cake from the bowl. Or just dust it with cocoa powder as I did.
Sending this to "Cooking with your Little Sous-chef "Event  at Sugar'N Spice

Thursday, April 28, 2011

MAITRI! Strawberry Banana Friendship Smoothie

When Priya and Rashmi, the brains behind the MAITRI movement asked if I would be interested in joining this friendship chain of food bloggers, I didn't think twice before answering yes.

 So when I got my mystery friend, Divya's parcel with the mystery ingredient I was all excited to find out what it was. Along with the secret ingredient, Divya had also sent me a cute Wilton Bunny cookie cutter along with a sweet little card! Thank you, Divya for the lovely gifts and the wonderful card!

I could make out that the mystery ingredient was flaxseed meal, though I never used it in my cooking before. Thanks to MAITRI for expanding my cooking horizon!

1  banana
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons flax seed meal
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 cup Strawberries, sliced
Cut banana into small pieces and place into the blender. Add the  milk, flax seed meal, and honey. Blend on lowest speed until smooth, for about 5 seconds. Gradually add the strawberries while continuing to blend on low. Once the strawberries have been incorporated, increase speed, and blend to desired consistency.Serve with a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt or whipped cream.
Sending this over to  Saffronstreaks seasonal indulgence – series summer coolers event and Ticklingpalates  Fun N Sun event

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Upside-Down Double Apple Muffins

I am not a morning person. I don't like to miss my beauty sleep to get up and make breakfast for my family. So make ahead breakfasts are the norm in our house. Of these, apple muffins and banana muffins are the favorites. This recipe uses apple sauce as well as apple - hence the name. This is a healthy breakfast that gives you your proteins, fruits and carbohydrates all in one go. And of course, you can make this ahead of time.
Recipe Source:Mott's 
Serves 12
2 medium apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs water + 1tbs lemon juice
½ cup raisins (or cranberries)
4 tbs butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup apple sauce
1 egg
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut apple in half and remove core. Cut each half into slices approximately 1/8-inch thick. Stir together brown sugar and water in medium saucepan. Add apple slices. Cook, stirring gently over medium heat, until apple slices are softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle raisins in bottom of lined muffin pans. Arrange apple slices over raisins, drizzling with brown sugar sauce. Set aside. In large bowl or mixer, beat butter with granulated sugar until thoroughly combined. Add apple sauce and egg. In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Gently blend into apple sauce mixture. Spoon batter over apples and raisins, spreading evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes before turning muffins out onto wire rack to cool completely.
Sending this to Show me your muffin event at Dil Se

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yin Yang Tofu

Tofu is a relatively young ingredient in my repertoire. It has only been 10 years since I had started using this in my dishes. Whenever I come across a new recipe for tofu that I think will suit our tastes, I gives it a try.
This is a variation of the recipe that I got from Martin Yan's Invitation to Chinese Cooking. I substituted some of the ingredients with what I had in my pantry. It turned out true to its name - one half soft and sweet and the other robust and spicy. It was indeed a harmony of flavors, colors and textures.
Serves 6
For Yin sauce:
1/3 cup vegetable stock
3 tbs oyster  flavored sauce (vegetarian)
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp pepper

For Yin Tofu:
1 tbs cooking oil
14 oz. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" cubes
5 oz. spinach (or you can use button mushrooms, sliced)

For Yang Sauce:
3 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs tomato  ketchup
1 tsp soy paste
1/2 tsp chilli-garlic sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

For Yang tofu:
1 tbs cooking oil
14 oz. soft tofu, drained an cut into 1/2" cubes
5 oz. spinach (or you can use 2 oz. frozen peas and 1/4 cup water chestnuts, sliced)

Combine the ingredients for the yin and yang  sauces in separate bowls. Place a wok over high heat. Add 1 tbs of oil, coat all sides of the wok. Add firm tofu, spianach and the yin sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. (If you are using mushrooms, water might come out when cooking, in which case add 1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbs water to make the sauce thick.)
Once the sauce thickens, place it on one side of the serving platter.
Clean the wok and place it over high heat; add 1 tbs oil and coat all sides of wok. Add the soft tofu, spinach and the yang sauce. Repeat the process just as in the case of yin tofu. Place the prepared tofu on the other side of the platter and serve.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monkey bread

Today Aishwarya  wanted to help in the kitchen ,and she asked me if we could make Cinnamon buns. As it takes some time to prepare them and as I didn't have that much patience, I ended up making Monkey bread. Unlike the traditional  way of making this in Bundt pan I made this in my muffin tin. I love it this way because each person can have their own individual serving. As I used Refrigerated biscuit  dough we were able to put it together in less than 5  minutes. Aishwarya was a good  sport and helped me from lining the muffin tins cutting the biscuits into quarters, dusting the pieces with cinnamon sugar and packing them in the muffin tin. All I did was boil the butter and pour over the biscuits and  bake them. I remember last Mothers Day when my husband helped Aishwarya make this for my special Mother's Day breakfast. Those of you out there looking for an easy recipe to surprise your Mom or wife can give this a try  and  I am sure the mother in your life is going to love this. Jai and Aishwarya, thank you dears for last year's wonderful mothers day brunch! I loved it so much. I will stock the refrigerator with biscuit dough so that this year you both don't have to panic and do any last minute shopping to surprise me ;-)
Source:All Recipes
Refrigerated biscuit dough-1 (12 ounce) package
White sugar-1/3 cup
Ground cinnamon-3/4 teaspoon
Butter/Margarine-2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons
Brown sugar-1/3 cup packed
Chopped walnuts (optional)-3 tablespoons and 2-3/4 teaspoons
Raisins-2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin tin with  8 paper muffin liners.
Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag. Cut biscuits into quarters. Shake 6 to 8 biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the lined muffin tin. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in pan. If using nuts and raisins, arrange them in and among the biscuit pieces as you go along.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the biscuits.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Let bread cool in muffin tins  for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Do not cut! The bread just pulls apart.
Sending this to "Cooking with your Little Sous-chef "Event at Sugar'N Spice

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vegetarian Sheperd's Pie

I was looking for a dish that is easy to make and transport and also would be a  crowd pleaser to take for potlucks. It was thus I found this recipe for Sheperd's Pie. I gave it a try as I wanted to make sure that it was indeed a good one as it sounded.When I was cooking this for lunch today my little girl, who was enjoying her spring break, asked me what I was making for lunch. When I told her it was Sheperd's pie she was very happy as she thought it was a  sweet pie like the ones which she is used to. When the Pie was done and I called her for lunch she was not a happy camper knowing that it was not sweet but still gave it a try  as it smelled good. She had one piece and ended up having a second helping. And she even insisted that I save her a piece for dinner. I was  a bit surprised at this coming from her, because she is a girl who doesn't like leftovers or even having the same dish repeated within a week . So,  my friends, in short what I intented to say was this dish was well liked by my family and I am sure this will be liked by yours too. Even though I have made the vegetarian version of Sherperd's Pie, those of you who eat and love meat can substitute the meal starters with ground meat.
Recipe Source:Simply Recipes
Morningstar meal starters/Soy granules -1 cup-1 1/2 lbs
Onion chopped-1
Vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas-1-2 cups
Potatoes (3 big ones)-1 1/2 - 2 lbs
Butter (1 stick)-8 tablespoons
Broth-1/2 cup
Worcestershire sauce-1 teaspoon
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice
Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.
Add Soy granules Morningstar meal starters and sauté for about a minute. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of vegtable broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10minutes.
Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.Place soy and veggies in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spicy Chocolate'N Fruit Biscuit

When I think of making appetizers for any party or gathering, I think of something that I can make with very little effort, and which won't need much of my attention. Thus I can focus more on making the other courses to serve for the occasion. So typically for appetizers, I try not to make something from scratch, but would prefer to use some off the shelf ingredient that would reduce my cooking time and effort. This is one such recipe that meets all these criteria as I have used the Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated biscuits, which are available at the refrigerated section of any supermarket. I have used apple and bananas for this recipe, primarily because these are the two fruits that are always there at our house. But you can substitute them for any of the seasonal fruits, as long as they are firm and not watery, or you may use only one of them.
Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated biscuits (any variety)-1 can (16.3 oz)
Semi-sweet Chocolate chips-1/2 cup or to taste
Chilli powder-1/2 tsp
Banana- 1
Apple- 1
Salt - 1/8 tsp
Milk -2 tbs
Peel the apple and banana and cut it into little pieces. Mix in the salt, chilli powder and the chocolate chips. Roll out each biscuit into 6" rounds; fill it with the fruit mix. Fold dough over the filling and seal it well. Apply a thin glaze of milk over each biscuit. Bake this in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or till the biscuits turn golden.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vishu Katta

Wish You all a Happy and prosperous Vishu! For us people from Thrissur  in Kerala Vishu is not complete without Vishu Katta for breakfast. This is my moms recipe which I have simplified without any change to the original taste.
Sona masoori/Raw rice-1 cup
Coconut Milk (thick milk)-2 cups + 2 cups
Water-1 cup
Cumin powder-1/4 tsp
Salt-1/4tsp or to taste
Pressure cook the rice along with 2 cups of coconut milk ,1 cup water ,cumin powder and salt   (putting the weight on after the steam comes and cook at low  for 6 minutes ). Once the pressure is released, open the pressure cooker and add the remaining milk and stir it along with the cooked rice and cook till the coconut milk starts to leave out oil. Transfer the vishu katta to a plate and level the top with a spoon. When the Katta cools cut into desired shape.
Serve it with Jaggery syrup

For the Jaggery Syrup
Jaggery-1 cup
Water-3/4 cup
Dried ginger powder-1/8tsp
Coconut milk-1/2 tsp
Cumin powder-1/8tsp(optional)
Make a syrup using jaggery and water. Sieve the syrup and add the remaining ingredients and cook it till it just begins to boil.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tomato Orzo Soup

I had some left over tomato soup in the refrigerator, but that was not sufficient for the three of us for a full meal. Then I thought of this recipe that I had book-marked some time back and gave it a try as I was too lazy to make anything else. Lucky for me and my family who ate this, this turned out quite good.
Recipe Source:Taste of home
1/2 cup each chopped carrot, celery and onion
1/8 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (19 ounces or 2 1/2 cups)Tomato soup or ready-to-serve tomato basil or hearty tomato soup
1 cup Vegetable broth or chicken broth
1/3 cup uncooked orzo pasta
Saute the carrot, celery, onion, basil, oregano and thyme in oil for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Add soup and broth. Bring to a boil. Stir in orzo. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until orzo and vegetables are tender.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baked Soft Tacos

There are days when my daughter feels like playing chef in front of her friends when she have them over. She will then pester me till I allow her to do something. As she is only 9, I am not that comfortable with her doing the real cooking ,so I let her help me put this together. I will make the filling before her friends come and when they are almost ready to have lunch Aishwarya gets to don her apron and little chef's hat and fill this tacos, roll them up and sprinkle the cheese and I help her with the baking. She gets the satisfaction of being the chef and her friends that of having a nice meal; and I get the satisfaction of seeing her happy. Those of you who have little girls and boys who like to play pretend chefs can try this out. This is so easy for even a 2 year old to help with. So go ahead and try this with your little one and enjoy a wonderful meal with the added satisfaction of involving your little ones in the cooking.

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
In a nonstick skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Spoon about 1/2 cup off center on each tortilla; sprinkle with cheese. Make a roll to close. (Do not fold ends in.) Lay rolled tacos, seam side down, in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. When all tacos are in dish, spread remaining shredded cheese on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until tops are turning golden and filling is hot and bubbly. Serve hot with sour cream, shredded lettuce,avocado and diced tomatoes.

Sending this over to "Cooking with your Little Sous-chef "Event at Sugar 'N Spice.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Curried Pizza

For this month's Sweet Punch challenge, our host Divya chose Pizza by  Pioneer Woman. The topping was to be of one's own choice. So for the topping I used my mushroom fry and curried soy. It was well liked and enjoyed to the last bite.Those of you who love spicy pizzas do try this combo.
Recipe source - Pioneer Woman
For the crust :Makes 2 crusts
 Active Dry Or Instant Yeast-1 teaspoon
All-purpose Flour-4 cups
 Kosher Salt-1 teaspoon
 Extra Virgin Olive Oil-⅓ cups
Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.
In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined.
Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it. ***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.
For the Topping:(for 1 crust)
Curried Soy Granules Ingredients:
Soy granules Morningstar meal starters-1 cup
Onions-1/4 cup
Tomatoe paste-1tbs
Ginger garlic paste-1/2 teaspoon
Meat masala-1tsp
Cheese-1/2 cup
Mushroom Fry-1/2 recipe
Heat a pan and add 2 tbs oil to it add the onion and ginger garlic paste when the onions turn light brown add the tomato paste and saute for another 2 minutes.Add meat masala to this and saute till the oil oozes out .Add the Soy granules(meal starter) and saute till well combined ,add salt to taste!
To make the Pizza
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet and use fingers to coat thoroughly. Remove HALF the pizza dough from the bowl. Stretch pizza dough into a large rectangle, pressing with fingers to finish forming. Dough will be very thin.
Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and use fingers to spread.Apply a little bit more of olive oil over the surface of the dough. Spread mushroom fry and curried soy granules all over the pizza. Sprinkle cheese on the top .
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from pan and slice with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately!
Sending  this to  Pari’s ONLY FUSION event  Guest hosted by Priya.
Only Fusion (1)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Red Velvet Bites

Today is one of my friends birthday and she loves anything coconut so I thought of making these bite sized cakes with coconut topping for her special day. My original plan was to make these like little lamingtons, but I was short of time, so this is how it ended up.
Recipe Source:Joy of baking
Sifted cake flour-2 1/2 cups
Salt-1/2 teaspoon
Dutch-processed cocoa powder-2 tablespoons
Unsalted butter, at room temperature-1/2 cup
Sugar-1 1/2 cups
Eggs-2 large
Vanilla extract-1 teaspoon
Buttermilk-1 cup
Liquid red food coloring-2 tablespoons
White distilled vinegar-1 teaspoon
Baking soda-1 teaspoon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.To make this cake I used a sheet pan.Butter the pan and line with parchment paper and then pour the batter into it and bake for 25 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.Once the cake cools frost it using the cream cheese frosting and top it with coconut flakes
For the frosting:
Cream cheese, softened-1 (8 ounce)
Butter, softened-1/4 cup
Sifted confectioners' sugar-1 1/2 cups
Vanilla extract-1 teaspoon
Sweetened coconut flakes.
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.
Sending this over to A week long sweet celebration event by Magpie

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kinnathappam-Thrissur Style

This is what we used to call Kinnathappam, and I know that kinnnathappam tastes and looks different in North Kerala. But since this is the only name for this dish that I know of, I am sticking to this name. If anyone else know any other name for this please let me know.
Unlike my maternal grandmother, who loved cooking, my paternal grandmother hardly ever cooked.This is one dish she used to make, and this used to be a favorite of mine. Now this is Aishwarya's favorite too. In fact, she loves making this with me. She does most of the work, except for the frying the coconut pieces and doing the final steaming. She would do all the measuring and mixing. This is one dish where I don't have to worry about her taking a lick of the batter also. Since she is allergic to raw eggs, I don't usually let her help out with most of the other dishes because of this. But licking this batter is compensation enough as this is such a tasty batter. If you are someone who likes licking the batter for cookies and cakes, you would simply love this batter too! And you can take a lick of it or have your little ones lick it without a worry, as there are no raw eggs here.  So whatever be the name, I would like to share this with you all.
Roasted Rice flour -1cup
Coconut milk-3 and 1/2 cups
Sugar-1/2 cup ( to your taste)
Coconut pieces or cashew nuts-2tsp
Ghee-1 tbs
Cardamom-6 Powdered fine
Heat a pan and add the ghee and sliced coconut pieces and fry till coconut pieces turn golden. Leave it aside to cool. Now mix the rice flour with the coconut milk,honey ,sugar  and cardamom add the fried coconut along with the ghee. Consistency of  the batter should be that of  dosa batter, a little lighter than the cake batter.To get the desired consistency you can add additional water if needed ,do this little by little.Now to a  greased plate  pour the batter about 1/2 " amount .Place this in a steamer and cook for about 10 minutes.You can check the doneness with a tooth pick ,if the tooth pick comes out clean when inserted in the cooked appam then its done Now remove from the steamer .When cool cut into desired shape.
Sending this over to  Walking Through The Memory LaneKerala Kitchen EventCelebrate Sweets-Sweets with Rice by Nivedita hosted by Priya"Cooking with your Little Sous-chef "Event at Sugar'N Spice

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