Sunday, December 30, 2012

Molten Chocolate Cake

With festivities happening all around us, I couldn't resist posting one more of holiday recipes from my draft; though I myself is not in  any shape to enjoy any of these. I am surviving for the past few days on kanji, apples and Horlicks. Yet I wanted to post this for the sake of my friends and well-wishers. Wishing and hoping for a better tomorrow - both for you and me!
Wishing you all a  new year which is better than  any so far.
Recipe source:Joy of Baking
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

Molten Chocolate Cakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Generously butter and flour  four - 6 to 8 ounce (180-240 ml) molds, ramekins, or custard cups.Place the prepared molds on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside while you beat the egg yolks.
Beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) Beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.
In another clean bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar and whip just until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula or wire whisk gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. Divide the batter between the prepared molds. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks a little wet and wobbly. You may have cracks on the top surface of the cakes.

Immediately remove from oven and let them rest for a minute or two. You can serve the cakes in their molds or you can run a palette or sharp knife around the edge of each cake and then invert onto the center of each serving plate. Carefully remove the mold. Sprinkle the top of each cake with confectioners sugar and place a dollop of softly whipped cream, clotted cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream on top of each warm cake.

Note: You can prepare the chocolate mixture several hours ahead of time. Simply make the recipe, pour into the prepared molds, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.  Bake just before serving. When the batter is cold the cakes may take a minute or two longer to bake.

Makes four Molten Chocolate Cakes.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Ginger Drink

Holiday Ginger Drink is a non-alcoholic, spicy-sweet and sour drink perfect for the cold climate. This is an ideal substitute for alcoholic beverages that can be served at parties for kids and teetotalers. As prepared, this is of syrupy consistency. Some may like to have it as it is, but I prefer adding an equal amount of water or soda.
(This is Jay posting Vidhya's Ginger Drink recipe on her behalf - she is still out sick. Any queries, wait for her to be back in action)
Ginger chopped fine- 250 gms
Sugar- 750 gms
Water- 2 1/4 litres
Dry Red chillies- 3-4
6 limes (extract the juice)
Peel and wash the ginger and cut into thin slices. Make lime juice and keep aside. Put all the above ingredients together with the water and bring to boil. Boil for at least 15 minutes  first on high then on low heat till it is  slightly thick. Let cool. Strain the mixture and add the lime juice. Now bottle it and use as required. I love adding equal amount of soda and having it to wash down a rich meal.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Peppermint Bark

Hope you all had a great X'mas. For us we had unexpected and unwanted guests namely Flu and cold who played spoiled sport. I am yet to recover though Aishwarya and Jai are feeling much better.
Aishwarya and I made this peppermint bark to give to her  friends on the last day of school  before the Christmas break. It is so easy to put together and will be done in no time. If you are a peppermint lover you sure would love this.
Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
2 pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional-1/2 tsp
Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Vattayappam /Steamed Rice Cake

Vattayappam is a steamed rice cake which  is a Christmas delicacy in Kerala where I am from. But if you want to have a bit of Christmas all year round, you can still make this.This makes a delicious breakfast or an any time snack.
Wishing all my friends best of joy  and best of cheer!
Raw rice( Sona masoori)– 2 cups
Idlli rava– 1/2 cup ( Cooked  Rose matta /matta-1 and 1/2 cups)
Grated coconut/Thick coconut milk – 1 and 1/2 cup
Active dry yeast – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 cup
Salt – a pinch
Roasted Cashews and Raisins – as needed (Optional)
Cardamom-  4 powdered
Method :
Soak the rice in water for 5-6 hours and drain it. Pressure cook idlli rava using one cup of water for 5 minutes or till cooked.  Grind one and half cups of this cooked idlli rava  with grated coconut,sugar and socked rice adding just enough water to a smooth batter.Be careful while adding water,the batter should not be very watery,it has to be in the consistency of dosa batter.Add the yeast and salt  to this batter and mix well .Cover it with a lid and keep it in a warm place for to ferment or till it doubles.I kept this in my oven with the light on and it doubled in 3 hours .
Add cardamom powder if you’re using and gently stir .Grease a flat pan or idly mould with little oil or butter and spoon in the fermented batter.Steam this for 15 minutes,if you're using cashew and raisin you can add them when its half done.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Fruit Cake

This is an alcohol free Christmas fruitcake that can be made with little advance planning. Typically for making fruitcakes you need to soak the fruits in rum at least  for 24 hours. But as this one doesn't use any rum, this can be enjoyed by teetotalers or even kids.
So if you were putting off starting the preparation for the Christmas fruitcake, and is panicking that now there is not enough time to get that perfect soak for the fruits, there is an alternative for you.
Recipe Source:Edible Garden
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup chopped cashewnuts
1/4 cup black raisins
1/2 cup mixed dry fruits (dates, cherries, orange peels)
1 + 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 clove + 1 cardamom pod + small piece of cinnamon + a pinch nutmeg (pound together to powder)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
In a pan on medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar slowly. It will first melt and then turn dark brown . Keep stirring and let it turn a deep dark caramel color. Don't let it burn. Turn off heat and add about 1/4 cup water. The sugar will harden. Turn the heat back on and slowly heat the mixture until the sugar crystals dissolve. This will take around 10 mins. Let this cool and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C.
 Add 3 tbsp flour to the dry fruits and nuts and completely coat the nuts and fruits with flour. This is done to prevent  them  from sinking to the bottom of the cake  while baking. Set aside.
Mix the remaining flour and baking powder, spices, and salt until well combined.
Beat the butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy - about 10 mins by hand, 3-4 mins with an electric beater. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Add 1 egg and beat. Then add a bit of the flour mixture and fold. Likewise, alternate between the eggs and flour mixture until they are used up.
 Add the cooled caramel  fold in and finally add dredged fruits and gently fold in. Pour batter into a greased cake pan and smooth the top.
 Bake for 50-55 mins until the top turns a dark brown and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with dry crumbs. You can start checking from 45 mins on wards The top will look like it's overdone but don't worry, make sure the inside is also completely cooked.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gobi Manchurian

This is one of the universally loved Indo-Chinese dishes. I haven't come across anyone, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, who doesn't like this. The beauty of this is that you can have it as an appetizer/starter or as a side-dish that goes well with fried-rice, noodles or any of the Indian breads. Even though this involves deep frying, for those health-conscious friends of mine there is another option. Instead of deep frying the fritters, you can bake it at 400 degree F in an oil sprayed baking tray. Just make sure that you add a tablespoon of oil in the batter before dipping the cauliflower to get crispy fritters.
1 Cup Maida or All purpose flour
1 Cauliflower
1/4 cup Corn Flour
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Oil
3 tsp Tomato Sauce
3 tsp Chilli Garlic Sauce
1/2 tsp Soya Sauce
1 tsp Vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped Onion
1/4 cup Spring Onion
2 tsp Garlic
1/2 tsp finely chopped Green Chilli
1 green pepper sliced
1 tsp Corn Flour
1 tsp Sugar
To make Fritters
Mix allpurpose flour and corn flour, black pepper, salt, in a bowl ,add water, stir well and make a medium thick batter not too thick or too thin.
Cut florets from cauliflower, dip florets in batter and deep fry till they turn golden color.
For Sauce : The amount of sauce given is for a dry version if you want a more saucier version double or triple the ingredients.
Heat  oil, add chopped onion and saute till onions becomes translucent. Add green chillies and garlic. Saute for 30 secs. To this add black pepper, tomato sauce,  chilli garlic sauce / chilli sauce , vinegar, soya sauce,green pepper, sugar, salt to taste and mix well. Add fried cauliflower fritters, coat well with sauce.Garnish with spring/green onion

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kaw Soi Dok -Burmese Noodle Salad

What I love about California other than the wonderful climate is the fact that its a melting pot of different cultures. Because of this I am able to get authentic recipes from all around the globe. A few days back a friend of my friend shared this recipe from her native Myanmar. This is the first time I am trying Burmese cuisine, though Myanmar is a neighboring country of India.
This noodle salad tastes good either hot or cold.
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion sliced and fried in oil till crispy
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 cloves of garlic
1 cube taste maker or  (1 tsp dried shrimps, pounded into floss)
1 limes, quartered
2 tbs tamarind pulp or to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbs red chilli paste(sambal paste)or dried chilli flakes
2 tbs soysauce or fish sauce
4 hard boiled eggs
shredded cabbage,sliced deep fried tofu,scallion and bean sprouts (optional)
 Boil  fresh  or dried Chinese noodles as per instruction.Heat oil add the crushed garlic cloves  along with turmeric.Add the noodles along with all the sauces and mix well. Add a teaspoon of crispy onions,some sliced boiled eggs and cilantro.  Finally sprinkle chilli flakes and squeeze some lime juice, and mix well. It should be salty, sour and spicy. To add more zing you can add shredded cabbage,sliced  deep fried tofu,scallion and bean sprouts.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Strawberry Crumble

Typically I don't cook anything for breakfast. When it is the cold months, I can't have cereals with cold milk - and warm milk and cereals are not a combination I like. So being the fruit lover that I am, discovering this recipe was a god-send for me. Once I get this prepared and has it ready in the refrigerator, I can relax the next few days. Just scoop out a few spoonfuls and a quick minute or two in the microwave and I have a hot, wholesome, healthy breakfast ready. And the added attraction is that this is a very delicious dessert too, with a scoop of ice cream to go with it.
Recipe Source: Paula Dean
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350º F.
In a large saucepan, combine strawberries and sugar. Let stand for 30 minutes. Cook strawberry and sugar mixture, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until blended. Stir cornstarch mixture into strawberry mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 1 minute or until mixture is thickened. Spoon mixture into 6 (5 ounce) ovenproof ramekins.
In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.Mix in the almonds. Divide mixture evenly over strawberry mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spinach Orzo Soup

It had been raining the last few days. One of the problems of rainy days is that I feel like munching something all the time, with the obvious consequences. The solution I found for this was simple. Keep some healthy soups handy in the refrigerator. This is a soup that can be had by itself and tastes so good either fresh out of the pan or re-heated.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, smashed or minced
1 large onion
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your taste)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess water
1 1/2 cups orzo
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 eggs
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Cook the garlic and onion over medium heat until fragrant and slightly translucent. Turn the heat to medium high and add  turmeric,red pepper flakes, spinach, and orzo. Cook for about a minute, then add the broth.
Bring to a light simmer, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until the orzo is just barely tender. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool down for a moment or two.
Whisk eggs in a bowl,  Add a small ladle full of the soup broth to the eggs and whisk vigorously. (If you want to be really sure not to curdle the eggs, take a ladle of soup and cool it a bit before tempering the eggs.) Whisk in two more ladles of soup broth, whisking each well and letting them cool.
Add the egg mixture to the soup pot, whisking very well. Return to very low heat, add the lemon juice and keep stirring the whole time. Cook carefully over low heat until the soup has thickened slightly. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and Parmesan if desired.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Triple Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

There is something about this season that makes you indulge in baked goodies and chocolates. At least it is so for me. It may be because of festive mood that is in the air or the fact that the year is about to end and your new year resolutions doesn't hold good any more. Or could it be that with the new year around and a new set of resolutions to make, this may be the craving to go for a last binge? Whatever be the reason, I find myself tempted to make more of such treats.
But this time around, when I wanted to make some chocolate brownies, to reduce my guilt, I thought of going for a healthier alternative using  black beans . Even though there are brownies made with black beans alone, I didn't dare venture that far.These brownies tasted just like the regular ones and till I told them, my tasters couldn't tell them apart.
Recipe source: Joy the Baker
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and pureed in food processor
1 1/3 cups white sugar
2 eggs plus 1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Walnut chunks and coarse sea salt for topping (optional)

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving 2-inches of overhang on all sides.  Butter and flour the parchment paper as well.
Fill a medium sauce pan with 2 inches of water.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Place butter, semi-sweet, and unsweetened chocolate in the bowl.  Place the bowl over simmering water and stir until chocolate and butter are melted and combined.  Remove the bowl from the simmering saucepan.
Allow the melted chocolate mixture to cool for a few moments.  Whisk in the eggs and white, one at a time, until mixture is glossy. Whisk in the sugar.  Whisk in the bean puree and vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and sea salt.  Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the chocolate mixture.  Use a spatula and fold to incorporate.  Once thoroughly combined, pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Top with walnuts and sea salt, if using.
Bake brownies for 25-28 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few chocolate crumbs on it.  The center may seem undercooked, but it will cook further as it cools.  Brownies are better slightly underdone than overdone.
Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Use the overhanging parchment paper to remove the brownies from the pan and slice.
Cut brownies into 9 or 12 generous pieces.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jeera Rice

The party season is on. Though the Thanksgiving  is over, the party schedule still remains hectic - with both hosting and participating. I have already started planning the dishes for Christmas and New Year. I know a lot of you out there would be like me, who loves planning ahead.
Jeera rice is a rice dish that I always include in most of my lunch or dinner parties. One reason is that this goes well with any of the Indian curry preparations. Another reason is that it is an easy, yet deliciously flavorful rice preparation.
Recipe source: Vah Re Vah
1 cup basmati rice (pre soaked  for 30 minutes)
1tbs butter or ghee
1/4 cup cilantro
2 green chilli
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
1/8 cup mint (optional)
1 pinch saffron (optional)
to taste salt
1 and 1/2 cup water
Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.Add cumin and once they splutter,add green chilli , mint and cilantro and saute for a minute. Add water  and  add presoaked rice along with saffron and salt. Pressure cook this for 5 minutes after steam comes and you put the weight on at low heat. Serve this with raita and curry of your choice.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Creamy Oreo Pie

My aunt  was telling me about their Thanksgiving lunch and she mentioned about the Oreo Pie that they had for dessert. It was made by her daughter - my cousin, Aswathi ; making desserts being one of her many talents. This was the first time I was hearing about an Oreo pie, though I knew about using Oreos to make cheesecakes. On my request she shared the recipe with me - to be shared with all of you.  This is a no-bake recipe, so easy to put together. This can be easily made even by those budding cooks. And the final product is guaranteed to be delicious. 
This can also be made as a single big pie in a 9" pan, in which case the only change you may need to make is to double the ingredients.
Hope you will all enjoy this as we did.
Thank you my dear sis for sharing this wonderful recipe. Looking forward to more such delicious contributions from you.
4-ounce whipped cream/cool whip(about 1 cup)
1/2 package Oreo cookies (about 20 cookies)
1/2 a  package of cream cheese,4-ounce softened
1/6 cup sugar
1/8 cup butter (1/4 stick), melted
4 individual cups/bowls
Crush 12 Oreo cookies in your food processor. (You can also put them in a ziplock bag and smash them).
In a  bowl, mix the crushed Oreos with melted butter. This is the bottom layer (crust). Divide the crust evenly among your 4 cups. Press the cookie crumbs down firmly.
Crush 6 more cookies and set aside.
In your food processor, or with your mixer, combine softened cream cheese with sugar. Mix until light and fluffy.
By hand, mix in whipped cream or cool whip, and the 6 crushed cookies . When everything is mixed well, divide the mixture among the 4 cups.
Crush the remaining cookies, or cut them in half to garnish each cup.
Allow the Oreo Pie Cups to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving celebration without a pie, especially a Pumpkin pie, is incomplete. If you want to get that taste of the home made pie, but is pressed for time with all the Thanksgiving dinner preparations going on, you may resort to a pre-made pie shell and make your own fillings. This will cut the time and effort for making a pie into half.  You can still enjoy a scrumptious semi-home made Pumpkin pie.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Two 8-inch pie shells
3 eggs
2 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups milk
For serving:
Whipped cream
In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, and spices and mix well. Add cream and milk and beat on low until combined.
Pour filling into pie shells. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake pies on middle rack for 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes longer, until filling is thickened, tops are lightly browned, and/or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (or mostly clean). If you're making a bigger pie, or an especially deep pie, you will need to increase the baking time. Cool finished pies on a wire rack.
Serve cooled pie with whipped cream on top!
Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes 'N Vegetarian Gravy

Even though thanksgiving is a few days away, we had already had a few "advance" thanksgiving get-togethers from this weekend. Mashed potatoes with gravy is part and parcel of a typical thanksgiving meal. Whenever I gets invited to a traditional thanksgiving meal (even  the advance thanksgiving dinners), I typically offer to make the vegetarian gravy so that the hostess would have one less dish to take care of. For yesterday's get together, I made the mashed potatoes as well. One thing I noticed about this gravy  is that its equally loved by both vegetarians and non vegetarians,so I always make it a point to make enough to meet the demand.  It feels great that something you have made is in so much of demand. After all, the proof of the pudding is in eating!
Usually I make the plain mashed potatoes. But this time around, when I came across this recipe, I thought of trying this out as it sounded different and delicious. And it turned out to be such a crowd pleaser.
Recipe source:Foodnetwork and
3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
16 fluid ounces (2 cups) half-and-half
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 ounces grated Parmesan
Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
Heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and Parmesan; stir to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

Vegetarian Gravy

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 tbs flour
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp to 2 tbs cornstarch( as required for your desired thickness)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
Heat the butter over medium heat in a large skillet and saute the onion for 2 minutes along with the garlic. Add the flour  and saute for 5 more minutes.
Add the vegetable broth and cornstarch, stirring to mix the cornstarch well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently to make sure no clumps are formed.
Add  soy sauce and reduce heat. Cook for one more minute, stirring.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dinner Rolls

If you are on a search for a good dinner roll for this Thanksgiving, this would be a good one to try.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup slightly warm milk
3 tablespoons melted but not hot butter
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine wet ingredients plus the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment
Add in flour a cup at a time, still using the paddle attachment
Once fully incorporated, switch the dough hook and knead until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 10 minutes. The dough will remain quite sticky, this is normal.
Cover and let dough rest in mixing bowl for an hour
Punch down and turn dough out onto a board or countertop, it will still be somewhat sticky so use some bench flour to help keep everything together
Portion into 12 equal pieces and place onto a half sheet pan (use a SILPAT if you have one). We use a scale, which comes to 2.5oz portions, but if that's too Bill Nye for you just make three equal pieces, cut each of those into two and then each of those into two.
Cover and let rise for another hour, remembering to start pre-heating the oven to 350º halfway through
Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.Once out of the oven cover with kitchen towel for 5 minutes.
(Brush with butter if desired)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Boondi Ladoo

Wishing all my friends a Happy and Blessed Deepavali!
I don't make Boondi Ladoo that often. But when I made it this time, I was wondering why I wasn't making it more frequently. I found it almost as easy as making instant gulab jamuns. All these times when I had some guests over at short notice, I used to go for the instant gulab jamuns. But that does't give the "wow" effect like the boondi ladoos. And the best thing is that these tastes much better than those store bought ones. I would recommend this recipe to those who are a little apprehensive about making laddos. Contrary to what you might have heard, it's no rocket science :)
Chickpea Flour (Besan) – 1 cup
Rice flour - 1tsp
Cooking soda - a pinch
Salt - a pinch
Water – 1/2 cup
Oil – for deep frying
For Syrup:
Sugar – 1 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Yellow color - 2 drops
Cardamom Powder and cloves – 1/4 tsp
Cashews/Almonds/Pistachio – 1/4 cup, powdered
Cashew - 1/4 cup split
Mix sugar & water, let it boil till it reaches almost a one- string syrup consistensy (a string that breaks after it forms).
At this stage remove the syrup from heat mix in the color and cardamom powder and clove. Keep it aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix chickpea flour, cooking soda, salt and rice flour. Add 1/2 cup water. Mix well until there are no more lumps and keep aside. Start heating oil for deep frying.
Once oil is hot, place a small amount of boondi batter onto a boondi maker or flat ladle with holes and gently tap the sides with a spoon to allow batter droplets to fall into the oil. Don't hold the boondi maker more than 1 1/2 inches above the oil, as this would result in elongated boondi. Fry boondi until light golden,do not fry boondi till crispy as the ladoo won't be soft,. remove them from the oil allowing excess oil to drain off and place them directly into the sugar syrup. Mix the fried boondi into the sugar syrup until they get coated.
Note: Wipe the bottom of the boondi maker clean (each time) before continuing to fry remaining boondi.
Once all the boondi is fried and submerged in the sugar syrup, add the nuts and mix well.
Let boondi soak in the syrup for 10 mins to 15 mins.If  your boondi's are large you can slightly crush a bit with your hand before shaping them into balls.
Do not cool the boondi mixture completely , then it will be hard to shape it.While still warm  take a scoop full of boondi mixtrue into your palm and gently squeeze the mixture between the palm to make a round ball.
Ladoos can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 days but should be kept in the refrigerator for any longer time. They should be served at room temperature.
Makes approx. 15 ladoos.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Easy Rasmalai

With Diwali around the corner,I thought of posting an easy and delicious dessert.This has been my go to dessert for Diwali potlucks and parties.You can make this a few hours before your party or a day or two before. Personally I like to make mine atleast a day before,as it tastes so much more better with time.
 15 oz ricotta (use a paper towel to absorb as much water as possible)
 1/2 cups sugar
 5-6 cardamom (get the seeds from the pods and powder it with a mortar and pestle)
 a pinch of saffron (optional but adds a lot of flavor)
 1/2 pack of MTR badam drink mix
 500 ml whole milk
 1/2 cup Cream
 Pre-heat oven to 350°C. Drain water from ricotta using paper towel or cheese cloth.  In a baking dish, mix ricotta, sugar, powdered cardamom and saffron together.Or you may line muffin tray with liner and spread an even layer . Spread into an even layer.Bake for about 50 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
When the ricotta has cooled, slice into squares. Mix cream,milk and badam drink mix together simmer this over medium heat for sometime till the milk mix thicken a bit and pour over the baked cheese ,remove the liner if used . Let it soak for at least a few hours but best to leave it overnight. Cover in plastic wrap and store in fridge.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Japanese Curry Rice


A friend of mine asked me if I knew how to make the Japanese Curry. I was taken aback a little - may be due to my ignorance of Japanese cuisine. I told her that the only curry I know of is the Indian curry, but I was curious to know what this is. Then I came across another friend of mine, who shared with me some instant curry sauce as well as the recipe for making this. Once I made this curry with the instant sauce cubes, I wanted to try making it the traditional way, as this was well liked by my family.
As per what I have heard this is a very popular dish in Japan and the instant sauce cubes are the most widely used ones because of its convenience.
for the roux
1 and 1/2 Tbs butter
1/8 C flour
1 Tbs garam masala (or curry powder)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (add less if you want it mild or more if you want it spicy)
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tbs tonkatsu sauce (or worcestershire sauce)

for the curry
2 tsp oil
1 large onions sliced thin
1 package  mushroom (you could also use beef, shrimp,chicken or tofu)
1 carrots cut into chunks
1 sweet potato
1 cup sliced beans
4 C water
2 large yukon gold potatoes cut into large chunks
1/2 C peas
1 tsp kosher salt (use less if you use regular salt)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs tomato paste
4 to 6 garlic cloves
Cilantro a few
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat and add the onions along with garlic cloves. Saute the onions until they are turn translucent add the tomato paste and saute for about 2 minutes,now add the curry powder or garam masala saute for another minute. Add potato , sweet potato, salt and add water and simmer.When the potato is half done add the carrots and sliced beans.Cook till you can pass a fork through the carrots and potatoes .
For the roux, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and garam masala, stirring until you have a thick paste. Add the cayenne pepper and some fresh ground black pepper and incorporate into the roux. Add the ketchup and tonkatsu sauce and combine. Continue to cook until the paste starts crumbling. Remove from heat and set aside until the veggies are ready.
To make the curry, just laddle about 2 cups of liquid into the roux then whisk until it’s smooth. Pour this mixture back into the other pot and gently stir until thickened. Add the peas and  mushroom and heat through.Garnish with cilantro.
Serve over rice or noodles.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Caramelized Apple

Even if you are a big fruit lover I know there would be days, especially cold ones , when you are in no mood to have fruits. Last few days were such days - all wet and cold with frequent showers. So I thought of making this warm and comforting caramel apples which no one would have a problem having despite the weather. I was right and ended up making it twice in the last 3 days
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tart apple (peeled, cored, sliced)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup apple juice/cider
a pinch of salt
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the apples, sprinkle on the sugar, cinnamon and salt.Add apple juice or liquid of your choice and let it come to a boil. Stir until it reduces to a syrupy consistency.  Once syrupy, remove from heat. Have this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Popeye Pie

We mothers know how difficult it is to make our little ones have some veggies. When Aishwarya was small, Popeye was a big help in getting some greens into her mouth. She used to love that program so much that she used to eat spinach with no complaints. And thanks to that, she still continues to love spinach in whatever form. So when I came across this recipe  with her childhood hero's name, and with spinach as the main ingredient, I never had a second thought in trying this out. And guess what, this turned out to be quite a hit.

20 oz. spinach, chopped (I used frozen)
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tbs. butter, melted
1 large onions (about 3 cups), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
4oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz. cottage cheese
1/2 lb. phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
Saute onions in 2 tbsp.olive oil until lightly golden. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. If using frozen spinach, squeeze as much moisture out of thawed spinach as possible and then separate the clumps. Stir in spinach and all herbs and spices into the onions and cook out all remaining moisture. Remove the spinach mixture from the heat and taste it. It should taste spicy but the salt should be on the lower side as the feta cheese will add additional saltiness.
Once the mixture cools slightly, stir in the eggs and cheeses. Line one 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and  combine remaining oil and butter. Lightly brush the bottom of  the foil-lined pan with fat mixture. Cut the phyllo sheets to fit your pan and layer 1/2 of the sheets into the pan, brushing every 3rd layer with the oil/butter mix.  Put the spinach mixture and  press firmly into a solid layer. Top with remaining phyllo sheets, again brushing every 3rd layer with butter and oil.  Place pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove pie from freezer and (cut only through the top layer of phyllo, dividing the pan into 6 sections). I forgot this step when baking this but, this will make it easier to make clean cuts later.
Bake the  pie at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until top layer of phyllo is browned.
If you want you can freeze the pie  and  bake without thawing at 350 for 60-90 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aval Vilayichathu

When I think of a traditional Kerala snack, Aval Vilayichatu is the first thing that comes to my mind. This is an easy to make, delicious treat that my mom used to make when we were kids. During my college years, when I would be returning after holidays my mom used to make this for me to take it back to my place. Though she used to make it in large quantities to last me for a few days, this was so much in demand with my friends and roomies that we would finish it off in a day or two. This is also made as an offering in some of the Kerala temples as well. I especially remember getting this as the "prasadam" at the temple on the Vijayadasami day.

2 cups rice flakes/aval/poha
1 cups grated jaggery
1/2 cup water
1 heaped cup fresh,grated coconut
2 tsp ghee
1 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs coconut slivers
3/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder (optional)
Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wide pan. Now fry the coconut slivers and sesame and set aside. Dry roast the rice flakes and set this aside.
Make a jaggerry syrup by adding about half a cup of water.Strain it to get rid of the impurities. Add the grated coconut to this and cook till all the water evaporates. Add a teaspoon of ghee and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
If you want this to last for a few days, you may make it dryer and store in airtight, dry containers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ragi 'N Rice Idli

I love dosas any day, but the days I feel like having a healthier alternative, I go for Idli. On top of that, when I want some more nutrition in my diet, yet don't want any compromise on the  taste of  the original Idli,  I  go for these. Ragi or finger millet is a rich source of iron and calcium.In Kerala, where I am from, this is one of the first solid foods (Porridge) that a baby is fed. But other than using as a baby food, this isn't used much. But knowing its nutritional value I am on a venture to include this more and more into our regular diet. If you are also on such a mission you may also try my Ragi dosa .
1  cup Ragi flour/ finger millet
1 cup Idli rice/ idli rawa
1 cup Urad dal / black lentil
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Salt as required
Soak the rice,fenugreek and  urad dal for about 4 to 6 hours.If using idli rawa soak it 30 minutes before you plan to make the batter.Drain and grind the rice/rawa, fenugreek  urad dal to a smooth paste adding enough water .Add in the ragi flour  and mix well. The final consistency should be that of  a pancake batter. Allow it to ferment over night or for 8 hours or till the batter doubles.If its a cold day or night for fermenting keep it in the oven with the lights on.Before making idli add salt and  mix.  Pour the batter into greased  idli plates and steam like normal idlies for about 11 minutes. Once cooked and cooled remove carefully with a spoon. Serve hot with sambar and chutney of your choice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Easy Tiramisu

Today I turned a year younger- ahem! a year older  :).This is what Jai made to make this already special day sweeter.As per our  family tradition b'day cakes or desserts are always made by the family, but Aishwarya stayed away from making this as she had sniffles and didn't want to pass it on to us.As my birthday fell on Tuesday which is a working day Jai chose to this make this Tiramisu, which had to be made ahead, on Sunday. It was a bit hard on us to wait two days to take a bite into this.The wait was well worth it, it was delicious as anticipated.This is an easy recipe if you can get all the ingredients and doesn't require any cooking.
1 (7-oz.) pkg. ladyfingers, bakery fresh or store-bought
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
3 tbs. instant coffee
1cup water, room temperature
3/4 cup Kahlua, or similar coffee flavored liqueur
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Lightly spray 8X8-inch glass Pyrex baking dish with vegetable spray.
Whip softened cream cheese and sugar on medium to high speed until smooth and creamy. Add milk and vanilla .Whip heavy whipping cream on high speed until stiff. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture with spatula and blend well. Beat again until fluffy.
In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in room temperature water. Add Kahlua, stir and set aside.
one at a time, quickly dip only the bottoms of the ladyfingers into Kahlua. Place the soaked side down and line the entire bottom of the pan with ladyfingers. The ladyfingers soak up the Kahlua very quickly, so be careful not to dip them too long.Spread half the cream cheese over the ladyfingers using an off-set spatula or plastic spatula. Sprinkle or dust with 1/4 cup cocoa.
Repeat with the rest of the ladyfingers in Kahlua and place on top of the cream. Spread the remaining cream cheese mix evenly on top. Sprinkle remaining cocoa over the tiramisu.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours or overnight. You may need to use a few toothpicks to keep the plastic from sticking to the tiramisu. Before serving garnish more if you like.
Use a sharp, thin knife to cut into pieces. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Crustless Spinach Quiche

When you don't have the time to make a pastry crust, try this quick crustless quiche.You won't miss the crust as this is tasty as is. I have Indianised it by adding curry powder to suit our palette,if you are looking for a milder version just leave out the curry powder.
 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 1 onion, chopped
 5 cloves of garlic minced
 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
 5 eggs, beaten
 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 tsp curry  powder
 8 cherry tomatoes/2 medium tomatoes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and  garlic cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Add the curry powder and saute for 10 more seconds.Add tomatoes and spinach continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.
In a large bowl, combine eggs,Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan.Top it with pepper jack cheese.
Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Sending this over to Cooking made Easy  happening at Anjali's space

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dry Fruits Cinnamon Focaccia

I was on a search for a new dish to try out.When I found this recipe for sweet Focaccia I didn't have to think further on what to make. The reasons why I stopped my search there were: 1) It had cinnamon,which I love so very much and 2) it was a sweet dish. As usual I have added a few twists to the recipe to personalize it.The end result was one delicious Focaccia. Thank you Achu for this delectable bread.
Recipe Adapted from Tangy Minds
1 cup Lukewarm water
1/2 Tbsp Active dry yeast
2 cups All purpose flour
1and1/2 tsp Gluten
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1/8 cup Butter, melted
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar
Raisins and cranberry as required
In a large mixing bowl mix flour,gluten and salt. Mix yeast  1 tsp sugar  and water. After 5 minutes add this to flour mix and Stir with a spoon until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.
Cover dough and let rise for 1 hour.Pour onto greased cookie sheet.With greased hands, spread dough on the cookie sheet. Using your knuckles spread dough out forming holes in the dough. Brush melted butter onto bread.Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar and brown sugar,add a raisin or a cranberry into each hole in the dough.Rest this for 15 minutes.Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for about 12 minutes or until bread is golden brown.Drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze or spread with cream cheese frosting.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Last week it was surprisingly hot in the Bay Area. Even though this is early fall, temperatures soared to the 100s for a few days, as though we were still in summer. As I didn't want the house to get warm, I was making mostly salads those days. This is one such salad that I experimented with during the week, which turned out to be quite a hit.
 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
 1/8 cup white sugar
 1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil
 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar
 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
 1 tablespoon minced onion
 10 ounces fresh spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
 1 quart strawberries - cleaned, hulled and sliced
 Sliced onion -1
 Cherry tomatoes
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach,onion, strawberries and tomatoes. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ariyunda /Rice Ladoo

Ariyunda can be considered one of the traditional desserts of Kerala cuisine. It is something that is easy to make, yet tastes delicious. This would have taken  me about 10-15 minutes to make this batch. In the traditional way of making it, fresh coconut has to be crushed together with jaggery in an ural (a bigger version of a mortar). As I didn't have access to this way of making it, in order to get a similar effect, I have lightly roasted the coconut together with the jaggery so that these blend together well. An added advantage of this method is that as the water content in the coconut is reduced, the sweet can keep fresh longer.
Flattened matta rice(kerala brown rice)/matta rice - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery-3/4 cup
Grated Coconut  -3/4cup
Cardamom - 5
Dry roast the  flattened rice in medium heat till they turn crispy.  Once it cools powder the roasted rice  along with the cardamom to a fine powder and transfer to a bowl.
Lightly roast  coconut along with the powdered jaggery at medium heat . Put the coconut jaggery mix in a grinder and pulse this for a few times. Mix this with the rice powder mix .
Take a handful of the mixture and start shaping to small balls.(In case the mix is dry add a few teaspoons of milk little by little till its right to make the balls)
You can store them in a clean and air tight container to enjoy later.Tastes best the same day.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Anda Paratha - Egg-Stuffed Indian Flatbread

If you don't have enough time to make an elaborate meal, yet want to make sure your family gets their daily dose of proteins, carbs and veggies, this is the dish for you. This is also ideal if  you want to sneak in some veggies into your kids diet. With Aishwarya, my problem is that though she doesn't mind having most of the veggies,she doesn't like to have eggs in most typical forms. So this is one of the ways I can get some of the goodness of the eggs into her.
Wheat flour  -  2 cups
Eggs - 4 nos
Fresh Cilantro, diced - 3 tbsp
Green chilli peppers, diced - 4-5 nos
Fresh spinach - 1/4 cup, optional
Ajwain (carom seed) - 1/2 tsp
Mozzarella cheese - 1/4 cup, optional
Chaat masala - 1/4 tsp, optional
Salt - to taste
Butter - as required

Mix the wheat flour with 1 egg, ajwain, salt, green-chilli and 1 tbsp of cilantro. Add 1/2 a cup of water to this and mix it well. Form it into a dough with the consistency of the usual roti/chapatti dough, by adding additional water as may be required. Let it rest for at least 15 mts.
Beat the remaining 3 eggs along with the spinach and a bit of salt in a bowl. Take a golf ball sized dough and roll it out as thin as possible into a disc shape. Put this roti on a heated tawa (pan). Now take about 3 tbsp of egg mix and spread it over the entire top of the roti. Sprinkle cilantro and cheese over the eggs. Now fold the paratha from 3 sides to form a triangle. Flip the paratha over and roast by applying butter on both sides till done.
Sprinkle a pinch of chat masala and serve it hot. You may serve it with a dollop of yogurt or with some ketchup or mint chutney.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

We were a little too indulgent on fried goodies for the last few days and I was feeling a bit guilty about that. So I wanted to make something healthy for a change. So I made this healthy soup for dinner tonight and it was enjoyed by all.
Recipe source: Food Network
1 lb leek, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
14 ounces yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small, approximately 3 small
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon chives/green onion snipped

Chop the leeks into small pieces. In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft. Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spring Roll

Last few days I had been making sweet dishes and snacks mostly that Jay began to complain. Though Aishwarya and me are both sweet lovers, Jay prefers the savory stuff generally. In fact, he often says that he would have eaten more than the amount of sweets in the first few months of our marriage than he had in his whole life till then ! So to pacify him, I thought of making something savory and crunchy.
Spring rolls gets its name from the season of spring - the time when the vegetables that goes into making this are in abundance and the spring festival when it used to be consumed typically. These days these are almost synonymous with Chinese cuisine. These come in a variety of different ways - fried or non-fried, sweet or savory - but typically would have a wrapper which is filled with whatever you prefer.
What I have here are the fried spring-rolls with vegetable filling.

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, small diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 head small cabbage, thinly sliced
4-5  mushrooms, , diced
1 1/2 cups soy granules washed in warm water
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cube of tastemaker
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
 1 egg, white and yolk separated
1 package large (8 inch) spring roll wrappers

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except egg yolk and wrappers.
Brush egg yolk on three corners of wrapper. Add 2 tablespoons of filling in center of wrapper, Fold the spring roll skin from the bottom over the mixture, making a tight tube of the mixture. Fold corners in from the sides, and press to stick against folded roll. Then roll to the other end and stick it shut.  Repeat with remaining egg roll wrappers.  Deep fry the spring rolls in oil at 350°F for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Work in batches. Flip half way through. Remove and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


In Kerala, where I am from, Lord Ganesha is offered Unniyappam and Neyyappam on special days. Most people think both are the same - the only difference being that one is made in special pans that gives it the unique round shape and the other (Neyyappam) is made in normal pans. But in realty both are not the same. Neyyappam doesn't have banana as an ingredient and is made using ghee (Neyyu) and hence the name. While for Unniyappam banana is a must and is fried in coconut oil. Neyyappam typically would have a crunchier outside and a softer inside.
Today being the Ganesha Chaturthi day, I made this as an offering for Lord Ganesha in the typical Kerala fashion.

Raw rice: 1 cup
Jaggery: 1cup
Coconut pieces: 1 tbsp.
Cardamom powder: 1tsp.
Ghee for frying the neyyappams
Soak rice in water for atleast 3 hours. Drain water and grind rice with as little water to a fine paste.Make a syrup of  jaggery .Add this along with  cardamom powder and coconut to the ground paste,mix well. Final consistancy should be like that of a dosa batter.Set aside for another 5-6 hours.Then heat a kadai or a pan with ghee. When the ghee is very hot ladle out spoonfuls of dough into pan .When cooked on one side , carefully flip to other side.Cook till both sides are golden brown or till a skewer  inserted into the appam come out clean.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Caramel Flan

Jay is a big fan of flan, though he is not typically a "sweet" person :)) . So I make it a point to make flan whenever I want to make him dance to my tunes ;) .  I make different variations of the flan depending on what I have on hand that day. Today as I had only condensed milk in my kitchen, I made this version of the flan. Though it was a creamy and yummy, compared with the flan made with heavy cream, this didn't feel as rich. Looking at the calories, probably this would be a better alternative. But if you don't care about the calories and would rather have a richer, creamier flan, go for this instead.

1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
HEAT oven to 350°F. Combine sugar and 1 tablespoons of water in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar begins to melt. Swirl the pan over the heat until the syrup darkens to a medium amber color, about 10 minutes; don't stir with a spoon.Working quickly, carefully pour into an 8-inch oven-safe ring mold or 6 custard cups. Using potholders, tilt mold to completely coat bottom and halfway up sides of mold.
WHISK eggs in large bowl. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, milk, vanilla and salt. Set prepared ring mold pan  or custard cups in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pour egg mixture into mold or cups over caramelized sugar. Fill larger baking dish with 1 1/2 inches boiling water. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until custard is set. Carefully remove mold from hot water. Cool on wire rack  for 1 hour. Cover and chill several hours, preferably overnight.
To serve: Invert onto a serving plate after running a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Spoon caramel sauce over flan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

General Tso's Tofu

All three of us like tofu dishes. Though I make a variety of different dishes with tofu, this one is the most loved tofu dish in our household ever since I tried it the first time couple of years ago. This one goes well with   any of the Chinese rice preparations, with plain rice or even with any of the Indian breads.
Recipe source:
1 (16 ounce) box firm tofu
1 egg
3/4 cup cornstarch or all purpose flour mixed with salt and pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
3 chopped green onions
1/2 chopped onion
2 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoon minced garlic
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
red pepper flakes
3 tbs of worchester  sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
 Drain, dry and cut tofu into one inch chunks-You can freeze the tofu the night before to get a more"chicken-like" texture, if desired.Mix egg with 3 Tbs of water.Dip tofu in mixture.Sprinkle cornstarch over tofu to completely cover.Heat oil in pan and fry tofu pieces until golden brown and set aside. Drain oil.
 Heat 3 Tbs vegetable oil in pan on medium heat and add onions, ginger and garlic, cook for about two minutes (be careful not to burn garlic).Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and vinegar.
Mix 2 Tbs of water and 1 Tbs cornstarch and pour into mixture, stirring well.Add fried tofu and coat evenly.
Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

Last time I did grocery shopping,  I had bought a big bagful of potatoes. I wanted to use them up and was thinking of trying newer recipes. When I told that I was planning to try something new with potatoes, Aishwarya wanted the hash browns itself instead.  So I ended up making hash browns, albeit differently than I used to make.
The advantage of this method is that once you put it in the waffle-maker, you can just relax till it is done- no need to watch it over, flip it when done on one side or any of those things if you were to make it on a pan. And the end product tastes as wonderful as the real deal.
I would recommend this for turning up a quick break-fast when you are in  a hurry.
1 medium potato
salt and pepper, other seasonings, to taste
1/2 tsp Butter
Wash, peel and shred the potato. Preheat waffle maker to the highest heat.Liberally salt potatoes  after 5 minutes place it in a  towel and squeeze the water out. (This is imperative for crispy hash browns!)
Put potatoes in a bowl and top with salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like (I added some paprika and garlic powder) and butter cut into little pieces
Spray the pre-heated waffle iron with cooking spray, and layer the potatoes on the iron, about 1/4 inch thick.
Close the lid and let them cook, checking on them after about 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pineapple Cream Cake

Jay turned one more year younger today ;) He just wanted a biriyani for his special day, but the baker in me could not let go another chance to bake a cake. Since this was to follow a heavy meal, I wanted to make something light and thought of this pineapple cream cake. I haven't made this in a long time and I knew Jay loves it. For anyone looking for a light and refreshing cake, look no further.
Happy Birthday, Hubby Dear :*

Ingredients for the cake:
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup  unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups  granulated white sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease two 9 x 2 inch  cake pans.
 Sift or whisk the flour with the baking powder, and salt.
 Beat the butter until soft and creamy (about 1-2 minutes). Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add egg yolks, in two batches, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture (in three additions), and milk (in two additions), beginning and ending with the flour.
Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing the tops with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Bake 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake just comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.

Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack. To prevent cracks, reinvert cakes so that tops are right side up. Cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for the frosting and filling:
Heavy whipping cream – 400ml
Icing Sugar – 3-4 Tbsp
Pineapple Extract – 1 tsp
Pineapple cut bite size –1 cup
Beat the heavy whipping cream,pineapple extract and sugar together until it forms stiff peaks.

Final assembly of thecake.
On the first cake  sprinkle some pineapple sugar syrup(Prepare pineapple sugar syrup by mixing pineapple juice and sugar).
Spread whipped cream and top it with pineapple pieces.Put the second cake on top of first and sprinkle with pineapple syrup.Now frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining  cream. And decorate with pineapple slices and cherry.Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pizza Quesadilla 'N Guacamole

Ever since the school reopened, my daughter returns home hungry for something to eat. From this year she is in middle school and has longer hours to spent at the school. Plus, she also has PE to do. I guess all this is making her hungrier by the time school ends. So I need to have something to feed her when she is back from school and this is one such dish which is easy to make yet is well liked.
Pizza Quesadilla
8 flour tortillas
8 ounces of shredded mozzarella /provolone cheese
1 16-ounce jar of pizza sauce
Pre-heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add one tortilla and cook until soft, about 15 to 30 seconds.Turn this over and brush tortilla with a thin layer of pizza sauce (so thin that if you turned it over, none would drip).Now spread  1/4 cup or little more of cheese mixture on one half, fold in half, and cook on both sides until cheese melts  and tortilla is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Repeat with  remaining tortillas. Cut each quesadilla into 4, serve with a little bowl of pizza dipping sauce.

3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tsp  cayenne pepper/2 green chillies sliced
1tbs olive oil

In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper and olive oil . Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Palada Pradhaman

  എല്ലാ മലയാളി സുഹൃത്തുക്കള്‍ക്കും  എന്‍റെ  ഓണാശംസകള്‍ !!
Of all the various items in a typical Kerala sadya (feast), the one that most people I know look forward to having is the Palada Pradhaman. The conventional way of making this is a long and difficult one, but this method of making it using a pressure cooker makes the whole process much easier. Thanks to my SIL who introduced me to  this method of cooking.
 1/4 cup Ada
 5 cups  Milk
 1/2 cup  Sugar
 1/2 tbs Butter
 1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
Boil milk and sugar together in the pressure cooker.  When milk starts to boil, reduce the heat to low. Put the weight on the valve when steam starts to come out of the vent. Allow the milk to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and wait till the cooker cools down to open it. Meanwhile, boil water in a vessel and add the ada. Cook till the ada become very soft to touch. Drain the ada and keep aside. Heat a thick bottom vessel and add the ada along with butter and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the milk from the pressure cooker and keep stirring till the milk thickens to your liking. Finally add  some cardamom powder and remove from the stove. Keep stirring till pradhaman cools off completely.

Here are some of the other paysams you can try out for this Onam.
Kadala Parippu Pradhaman         

Carrots and vermicelli kheer/payasam
Parippu Pradhaman

Semiya/Vermicelli payasam

Neypayasam (Ghee Payasam)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chocolate Overload Cake

Today is Aishwarya's birthday. She wanted an overdose of chocolate in everything on her special day. She wanted her lunch all chocolaty - with Nutella sandwich, chocolate brownies, chocolate dipped strawberries and chocolate milk to wash it all down with !! And she wanted her birthday cake to be a chocolate cup cake with chocolate frosting. This is what I came up with - with an overload of chocolates to please my little darling.
This has milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate in it. The birthday girl hasn't seen this yet. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this Chocolate Overload would satisfy her craving for chocolate.

Chocolate Whipped Cream:
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 - 4 tablespoons (35-50 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch processed)
1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream
 Place your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Place the vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and cocoa powder in the cold bowl. Stir in about 2 tablespoons of the cream to form a thick paste (this will dissolve the cocoa powder). Then add the rest of the cream and beat just until stiff peaks form. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml) whipped cream

Chocolate Butter:
200gm butter
200gm dark chocolate ,chopped
Combine chocolate and butter in a pan and stir over low heat.When the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth,cool until mixture becomes spreadable.

Chocolate Strips:
2 cups White chocolate,chopped
Cut strips of baking paper the height required.  Melt the chocolate in two batches.I used the microwave and microwaved the chocolate for 20 second increments stirring at the end of every 20 seconds. take a small amount of white chocolate and spread it out over the baking paper strip using an angled spatula.  Once the chocolate starts to set  cut the chocolate into strips.

Chocolate Curls:
Milk chocolate,shaved into curls using a sharp knife

Chocolate Cake carved in the shape of a cup cake

Method to assemble:
Slice the cake in half horizontally. If you want your cake to be moist, you may drizzle some sugar syrup over the cake. Apply a layer of chocolate butter followed by a layer of chocolate whipped cream over the bottom layer. Now place the upper layer on top of it and and apply the whipped cream frosting all around the cake. Place the chocolate strips around the cake. Now pipe the top of the cake with chocolate butter and decorate it further with chocolate curls.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Adai Dosa / Multi Grains Crepes

Adai Dosa is a popular, power packed variant of the traditional dosa. Being high on the pulses this is a much more healthier option than the original. Unlike the traditional dosa, this takes very little preparation time as this doesn't need fermentation at all. I find it very convenient to make when I have to put something together in a jiffy. Even the typical soaking time needed can be reduced if you have a super powerful grinder like the VitaMix, which I use. This typically reduces my soaking time to a mere 1 hour.

Rice - 1 cup ( I used jasmine rice)
Chana dal-1/2 cup
Green Gram Dal  - 1/2 cup
Masoor Dal / Red Lentil - 1/2 cup
Toor Dal - 1/2 cup
Urad Dal  - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 large
Green Chilli - 5
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Curry leaves a handful
Chilli powder - 2 tbs or to taste
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Ghee/Butter/Oil for making dosa

Wash and soak the first 6 ingredints in water for 3 hours.  After 3 hours puree in a grinder to a fine paste by adding little water, the final batter should be thick as a pancake batter or dosa batter. Now take onion, green chilli, ginger and curry leaves in a food processor and chop them finely.Add it to the batter and mix well.(if you love a dosa of even texture you can add these along with the grains when you are pureeing them). Add asafoetida, salt, chilli powder to the batter and mix well. Heat a nonstick pan. Take a ladleful of batter and make into a thin dosa.Apply ghee on the dosa and cook till its crisp to your liking.Serve  hot with cuthney of your choice.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

 If you are looking for a way other than regular banana bread to finish of those bananas that are browning, do give this a try.Soon you would  deliberately brown your bananas just for this recipe.
Recipe Source: Savory Sweet Life
1 stick of salted butter, softened to room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)
1 tsp. vanilla
1&1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbl. cocoa powder
1/2 cup of sour cream/Plain yogurt
1 cup of mini chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips work too)
optional 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan, or 2 mini pans with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.
Add baking soda, cocoa, and flour.
Mix everything until well incorporated (about 3 minutes using a mixer).
Add chocolate chips and nuts (if applicable).
Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake for 60 minutes – 70 minutes.
Insert a tooth pick into the center of the loaf and check to see if it comes out clean when you pull it out.
Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
Invert the loaf pans onto a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or cold.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Watermelon Agua Fresca

The last few days had been scorching hot in the bay area. For a hot summer what better thirst quencher than some freshly made watermelon juice. Add some lime juice and fresh mint to it and you will get a heavenly drink. Agua Fresca are non-coholic, Mexican blended beverages made with a variety of fruits and other  ingredients. I first came across this in the menu of the Mexican place that we frequent and was curious to know what it was. Once I tried it, I knew this is something I can make at home.

4cups of  seedless watermelon  cubed
1/2 cup  water
Sugar/honey to taste
2-3 tbsp of fresh lime juice
15 mint leaves
Puree the watermelon and water in a blender until smooth. Add sugar to taste. Add mint leaves and lemon juice and pulse the blender once more.Seive this to remove the pulp.Pour this into seving glass and fill each glass with ice and stir before serving.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spiced Herbal Tea

For this Blog Hop Wednesday by Radhika I was paired with Anisha of Flavours the vegan way.I had planned a few recipes to try from her space but when I showed Jai the recipes this is what he wanted me to try. I think his decision was influenced by the cold he had.He loved it and said he felt better and Aishwarya and I, though fine enjoyed it as well.This was so much like the traditional Chukku kappi which is a dried ginger and herbal tea but with a twist.Thank you Anisha for introducing me to this tea.
Recipe Source:Flavours the vegan way
Ingredients :
500ml Water
1tsp Pepper corns
1tsp Cumin seeds
1 inch piece of Cinnamon
10-12 Mint leaves
10-12 Holy basil
1 leaf of Lemon Grass(I didn't add this as I didn't have this)
1/2 inch Ginger
Lemon juice to taste
Honey to taste

Crush the cinnamon, pepper corns and cumin seeds using a mortar and pestle. Crush or bruise the herbs and ginger.Add the herbs and spices to water in the tea pot and microwave it for 4 minutes. You can use stove top to boil the herbs in water, it's just faster in the microwave. Strain it. Add lemon juice and honey to your taste.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Almond Burfi

I had some friends coming over today - and today being the Friendship Day, I thought I should treat them to a sweet treat. Almond burfi is something that can be made ahead and I prefer it that way as it tastes better the second day. I made this yesterday and took a photo then itself, as I knew I won't have time for any of that today. I didn't cut into slices, as I know that once cut, there would be hardly anything left to serve the guests :).
This may not look so strikingly good, unlike many of the other sweets, but one bite of this would surely get you hooked.
When I started this blog, I never imagined that I would end up having much more friends through this than I had so far in my life.I dedicate this post to all my wonderful blogger friends!
Happy Friendship Day!

1cup almond powder
1cup milk powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4cup Sugar
Few saffron strands
2tbs ghee
Dissolve the saffron strands in milk and add all other ingredients except ghee along with the milk to a heavy bottom nonstick pan and cook on medium heat stirring continuous.When it turns thick add the ghee and continue stirring till ghee starts to ooze out , immediately pour this mixture to a greased plate.Let them cool completely.Slice  burfi in your desired shape.
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