Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thanksgiving - Veg Gratin

I made two main dishes for a mostly vegetarian thanksgiving get-together with friends. They both turned out to be successful.

The first one was a gratin. I followed the directions to the word, and it came out great. What I like the most about it is that it uses much less cream than most gratin recipes. The potato-wiping step might be a little overkill, but I think important.

The source of this recipe is Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving from NYTimes.

Adapted from “Cooking Know-How”
Garden Vegetable Gratin
A layered potato casserole, a gratin (pronounced grah-TAN) is a French dish named for both the technique and the dish it’s baked in: a fairly shallow, oval, oven-safe baking dish. Nonetheless, you can make it in a standard 9-by-13-inch baking dish, more in keeping with standard American cookware. Here’s a perfect version for your holiday table: a side dish that just may even conquer the main course!

Ingredients
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 ounces shallots, diced 1 medium carrot, diced
1 small zucchini, diced 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons stemmed thyme 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon grated or ground mace 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth 1 cup low-fat or fat-free cream
Preparation
1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Place the slices in a bowl, cover with cool water and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add the shallots, carrot, zucchini and peas. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and mace. Stir well to warm through. Remove from the heat.
5. Layer the potatoes and vegetable mixture in a 10-cup gratin or 9-by-13-inch baking dish by first blotting some potato slices on a paper towel, then layering them across the bottom of the dish. Add some of the vegetable mixture, spread it over the slices, then blot dry more slices and add them as another layer. Keep layering the casserole, like a lasagna, ending with a layer of potato slices.
6. Whisk the broth and cream in a large bowl. Pour it over the contents of the baking dish.
7. Bake, uncovered, basting occasionally, until it is golden and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 hours.

Yield: Makes about eight side-dish servings.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blueberry muffins

We went blue berry picking with my mom-in-law. And I made some muffins using this recipe from smitten kitchen.

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

Creamed butter and sugar, add egg, beat, add sour cream, vanilla, Add dry ingredients, add to muffin pans and bake.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sateh Special - Sindhi delicacies to be eaten cold!!

So my mom-in-law is visiting and I'm learning so many new Sindhi recipes and a thing or two about the culture too. We're celebrating the festival of Sateh, when we cook on one day, and eat everything cold the next. Here's all the delicacies she's been making:

- Satpuda
- Chothe
- Lola
- Mattha

The next day, we ate everything for lunch, along with some yogurt. What a meal!

Chothe:
-------

Take three parts maida. Add Whole ilaichi dane. Soak 1 part sugar in water (do not try to dissolve, just soak till the water reaches above the sugar level). Add oil to the maida (muthi padtu mon), and then knead the dough with the sugar and water. Do not knead too much - just until it all comes together. Let it rest for a while. Then make large disks and press firmly on the edges, so that the dough is tight and does not break (I skipped this step, and the chothe didn't come out smooth). Then roll it out till about a quarter inch thick (this needs to be fairly thick). Then cut into quarters (or sixths) and fry on a low flame in oil till golden brown. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Mattha:
-------

Boondi - get ready made salty boondi, or mix some with besan, salt, chilli powder and water. fry through a zara in hot oil. cool and set aside.

Moong daal Pakodi - Soak a cup of yellow moong daal for 5-6 hours. Grind coarsely. Add salt, green chillies, ginger, (add ginger chilli-ginger while grinding), red chilli powder, hing, dhania powder, amchur, saunf, crushed pepper, crushed whole dhania, chopped corriander. Mix and make small pakodis on a medium flame.

Slice and boil some Tinde with salt till soft and set aside.

Take about a cup and a half of yogurt. Add enough water to make a thin chaas. Add salt, sonth powder (about a teaspoon), crushed mustard seeds (about a table spoon) and mix well. Add the tinde, soaked boondi and pakodis and chill. Serve the next day.


Lola:
-----
Take 3 cups of whole wheat flour (roti ka aatta), add muthi padtu mon with oil. Soak 1 cup of sugar in water and use this to knead the dough. Do not over knead. Make big disks, roll out into thick rotis and roast on a very low flame till brown on both sides. finally spread some oil (or soak in oil/ghee for a few moments).

Satpuda:
--------
Knead a soft dough with Maida and water (slightly tougher than roti). Make a paste of maida and oil in a small bowl. Roll out the maida into a big roti. Cut into 1/2 inch strips. Now take one strip, and start pressing from one side, to make it really thin, while applying the maida-oil paste generously. Make sure there's enough oil. Also keep rolling the thin end uniformly. Attach two strips to make it long (so that the rolls are large enough). Tuck in the end at the bottom and set aside. When a few Satpudas rolls are done, roll them out carefully from top (so you see concentric rings). Do not reverse the direction of the rolling pin, so that the layers are not flattened out. Now fry them at a medium flame while fluffing out the layers with the zara (think of this as crushing a layered paratha, but inside the oil). This is an acquired skill. Once it's light golden, remove and drain vertically till most of the oil is drained out. Finally drain on a paper towel and sprinkle sugar generously over the Satpudas. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peach Gallette

This one was inspired by a recipe I saw on Food TV and the base came from Mark Bittman. I messed it up slightly, but I'm writing what should be the recipe.

for the crust: 1 1/4 cup A.P. flour, 2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 8 tbsp cold butter, 3-4 tbsp ice cold water. Make the dough like a pie dough in the food processor (I made it by hand). Roll and place on a parchment paper.

For the filling: 2 peaches and 2 nectarines, peel, slice, add a tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tbsp corn starch. place in the middle of the crust, and fold the edges free form. sprinkle some sugar on the top edges (for browning) and place in a 375 degrees oven for half an hour.

Serve warm or at room temperature with sweetened whipped cream.

Sprouted Moong Cutlets

Mix together - Mashed potatoes, soaked bread, sprouted moong, salt, chopped green chillies, crushed ginger, cilantro, lime, amchur, dhania powder, garam masala. Make flat cutlets and fry.

Honey Melon Kiwi Drink

This is a great cooler for the summer. Blend together big chunks of Honey dew melon, kiwi and some sugar. Strain and serve. May also add lemon or lime.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blackberry or other fruit Gelato/Icecream/Kulfi

This was super easy...but absolutely awesome...just blend the fruit and strain it (a fruit like blackberry..) mix with milkmaid and freeze.

I made black berry and Peach/nectarine...Tasted the blackberry while it's still in the process of freezing...it tasted great!! Should make this even in off summer with frozen fruits...

Plum Clafoutis

Slice plums and some cherries (or any other stone fruit) and arrange on a buttered dish. For the batter, melt half a stick of butter, whisk together 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, and vanilla. For dry ingredients, mix half a cup of flour, half a cup of sugar, a pinch of salt and some baking powder. Mix the butter and wet ingredients into the dry and whisk till combined. Cover the fruit with this batter and bake at 350 for 40-45 mins (till golden on the sides and done from the middle). Enjoy the summer fruit!!

Lemon-Berry Tarts

Great for the peak of summer. I made these in individual ramekins (I have these cute ones in the shape of a baking dish). Make the tart dough. I used this kinda unusual french tart dough recipe from David Lebovitz. It worked really well. I did it in a microwave though. In a microwave, heat 6tbsp of butter, 1tbsp oil, 3 tbsp water, 1tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt. When the butter starts bubbling, add 1 rounded cup flour and mix. Spread the dough evenly in the ramekins and mark with forks. Bake at 400 till light golden. Cool.
I also made his lemon curd (this was actually leftover from the cake I baked a few days ago.
Fill the tart with lemon curd and decorate with mixed berries. Serve with sweetened whipped cream. I made the mistake of skipping it first, and it tasted a bit too tart. With the cream, it was heavenly.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Picnic Meal - Peanut Noodles

We went to this awesome concert at Tanglewood yesterday and packed some tomato avocado sandwiches (simply apply Mayo to the bread, slices of tomatoes and avocado and salt/pepper), some strawberries and some cookies. The main meal was peanut noodles - very quick to make and yummy..

It's based on what I remembered from an Ina Garten recipe. The original recipe has sugar snap peas, which tastes great, but I had cooked edamame on hand, so that's what I used.

For the dressing: Peanut butter (I used the natural crunchy one from TJ's), soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, sriracha, ginger paste, fresh minced garlic. Whisk everything together.

Add boiled noodles (spaghetti or any other - this time I used egg noodles from the asian store), strips of red bell pepper and the cooked edamame. Chill in the refrigerator and pack.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Paneer Kofta Curry

When the milk is about to go bad..Bring milk to a boil in a big pan, and add lime juice. Stir till the milk separates, then strain out the paneer and let drain. Boil, peel and mash potatoes. Mix potatoes, paneer, corn starch, salt, chopped cilantro, finely chopped green chillies and a pinch of garam masala. Make small round koftas and fry on a slow-medium flame. For the gravy, blend together boiled onions, soaked cashewnuts and khuskhus, ginger-garlic paste and a green chilli. Heat oil, fry the white paste, add water, salt, sugar and cream and boil on a medium flame. Add koftas and serve.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

White summer cake with Berries and Lemon Curd

One of my best friends defended her PhD thesis. I baked this cake for celebrating. The frosting did not cooperate much due to the crazy summer heat, but the flavors were perfect for the summer.

Parts: Cake, lemon curd, frosting, berry filling and toppings.

Cake: I cheated and used boxed mix. I used Betty Crocker classic white cake. Follow the instructions on the back, but add a few tbsps of lemon juice and some lemon zest. Either make three layers, or bake two uneven layers, and slice the larger one into two to make three layers.

Lemon Curd: This recipe came from David Libovitz. It took longer than expected, but note to self - do not overcook, or the butter will separate.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/12/improved_lemon_curd.html

1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar (or 1/2 cup, 100 g, if using regular lemons)
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, cubed


1. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt.
3. Add the butter cubes and set the pan over low heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted.
4. Increase the heat and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to become jelly-like. It's done when you lift the whisk and the mixture holds its shape when it falls back into the saucepan from the whisk.
5. Immediately press the curd through the strainer. Once strained, store the lemon curd in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to one week.

Frosting: One and half packs of cream cheese + one and half stick of unsalted butter, let it soften at room temperature. Add some lemon zest, vanilla extract and add 5-6 cups of icing sugar while mixing with a hand mixer. Adjust sugar according to the taste and consistency.


Berry Filling
: Chop Strawberries, raspberries, black berries and a few blue berries and mix. Add a little lemon zest.

Toppings: Sliced mangoes, kiwi, strawberries cut into vertical quarters, other berries.

Assemble: Take the first layer of the cake, spread some of the frosting, and then spread the berry filling, which will stick thanx to the frosting. Add the next layer of the cake and spread the lemon curd. Add the third layer, frost it completely and then arrange the mango slices, in a circle, followed by concentric circles of the berries. Add a slice of kiwi in the middle.
Of course feel free to decorate as you like it (I just did it this way and came out very pretty, except for the melting icing).

Veg. Biryani

This recipe comes from vahrevah.com with a few modifications.

Soak rice for about half an hour. Soak saffron in water. Chop veggies in big chunks (green beans, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms. Make chunky chips of the potatoes. Slice onions (horizontally to get fine slices). In a pot, heat oil+ghee, add small ilaichi, big ilaichi, bay leaf, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon (and shahee jeera, which I forgot). Add ginger + garlic paste and add the vegetables. Saute for a long time, till the veggies are slightly underdone, and browned on the outside. Add some green peas right at the end. Then, add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala and saute for a few seconds. Then add salt and yoghurt and cook for a bit. Remove half the vegetables and then add more yoghurt.

In the mean time, in a big pot, boil water with oil, salt, bay leaf, green ilaichi and cloves. Add the rice and cook till slightly underdone, then drain out. Brown onion slices on a slow flame till dark brown in a little bit of oil. Chop nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, raisin, etc). Finely chop coriander and mint (which I didn't have). Add the saffron to some yogurt and add some rose water to it.

Now, start with the vegetable layer (the one with extra yogurt). Then add the layer of half the rice. Spread the saffron yogurt, sprinkle the nuts, half the brown onions, coriander and mint, Then later the rest of the vegetables, and repeat. Cover and cook on a low flame for about half an hour. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Key Lime Meltaways

I made this for a get together...and they were a big hit.

Here's the original link from SmittenKitchen

Here's the recipe (I made half a batch).

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Grated zest of 4 tiny or 2 large key limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (a.k.a. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.

3. Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

5. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The ultimate chocolate cake

I made this once for L. on his birthday. He made it once for mine. The frostings were different (I did an elaborate orange curd butter cream, he did a chocolate ganache). We love this cake layer recipe.

Recipe from Epicurious.

For cake layers

* 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut


* 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
* 3 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla


For ganache frosting

* 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter


Special equipment

* two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans

print a shopping list for this recipe
Preparation

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Double-Chocolate-Layer-Cake-101275#ixzz0nmMDTeiM

Monday, May 10, 2010

Edamame, Tomato, Avocados salad

This was really really good. I'm sure variations would be nice too...I got these cooked, ready to eat edamame from Trader Joe's. They made this salad a breeze to make.

For the dressing: lime juice, salt, pepper, roasted cumin powder, olive oil.

To this add: Shelled, cooked Edamame, cherry tomatoes, cut in half, chopped avocados, red or spring onion, cilantro.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Black Bean Salsa - Party Batch

I made this black bean salsa for one of my best friend's baby's first birthday party. It was a huge hit. This made a big foil pan (enough to feed about 45-50 people as an appetizer).

3 big cans (29 oz) black beans
2 big cans (28 oz) petite Diced Tomatoes (Hunts)
2 medium cans yellow golden corn (Del Monte)
3 large green peppers, seeded and diced
2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 big red pepper, seeded and diced
1 or 2 bunches of cilantro, finely chopped
3 bunches of spring onion, white and green, sliced
1 big red onion, finely diced
juice of 4 limes
1/4 cup cumin, slowly roasted and coarsely ground
4 tbsp red chilli flakes
3 tbsp Corriander-cumin powder
1 tbsp Red chilli powder
4 tbsp Dried Oregano
Salt to taste.

Mix everything together. Serve with two bags of tortilla scoops.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Methi Malai Matar

Every time I make this, I say to myself - "This is perfect for making for a crowd, since it's so quick and easy and yet Yummy"..but every time I prepare a menu for a party, I never think of this..

Hopefully having the recipe here would help..This is a slightly simplified, no-fuss recipe..hence there's no dry spice to grind etc..I also use frozen Methi (which is the only kind I get and works perfectly).

Soak a small handful of cashew nuts and a table spoon of khus khus in milk. Thow out a handful of chopped Methi leaves and squeeze out the liquid. In a pan with some oil/ghee saute the methi leaves for a couple of minutes. This helps make the final gravy less green. Remove and set aside. Thaw out and lightly cook a couple of handfuls of green peas and set aside. Roughly chop a large onion and grind into a smooth paste (along with one green chilli). You may add fresh ginger/garlic in the paste, or use ready made paste. In the same pan, heat some oil/ghee. Add cumin seeds, followed by the onion paste. Saute till onion paste is on the verge of getting color. Grind the soaked cashew nut and khus khus into a smooth paste and add to the pan. Also add milk, salt, a spoon of sugar and a pinch of garam masala. Simmer for a bit. Add the methi leaves, green peas and some fresh cream and let simmer for a few more minutes. Serve with parathas or Naans.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cheese Straws..quick appetizer

I took these to a friend's birthday party..and worked out well. The recipe is from

SmittenKitchen


Combine 11/2 cups grated sharp cheese like cheddar (I used a mexican blend), 1/2 cup soft butter, 3/4 cup of flour, salt, red chilli flakes, and a table spoon on cream into dough. Roll out and cut into strips. Bake at 350 for 10-15 mins. Cool and serve.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chat Night

So we had friends over, and one of them doesn't eat onions and garlic..so I thought up a chat menu that can be customized both ways..It turned out to be a huge hit..Here's what I came up with..

1. Mung dal wada with or without onions and spring onion dip. Mummy's recipe from here.
2. Khaman Dhokla. Used Talod na Dhokla and followed the package directions exactly (it's important to follow the proportions exactly). Then for the tadka, added mustard seeds, green chillies, sesame seeds, curry leaves and water. Boil and spread. Garnish with cilantro, fresh coconut and Sev.
3. Radga Pattice. Recipe follows.
4. Kulfi - Hugely popular..Ideas from showmethecurry.com, but modified quite a bit. Recipe follows.


Ragda Pattice:


Pattice:

Boil, peel and mash potatoes (use Russet for good results since they have more starch). Add salt, lime juice, chat masala, red chilli powder, chopped cilantro, and corn starch. Make medium sized tikkis and shallow fry with very little oil.

Ragda:
Soak white peas (You get it in the Indian grocery stores under the name "safed matar" or "safed vatana") overnight. Next morning, drain the water, rinse it well and pressure cook till soft with plenty of water, salt and turmeric powder. Soak tamarind in water for about half an hour. Add the tamarind water to the ragda, add some red chilli powder, chat masala and roasted cumin powder (go easy on the spices. Ragda should be very lightly spiced for the flavors of the toppings to shine). Adjust the consistency with water and boil some more.

Toppings:
Salt, red chilli powder, chat masala, fresh grated coconut, chopped cilantro, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, pieces of lime, Sev, three chutneys (recipes follow).

Date Tamarind chutney:
Soak tamarind for about 2-3 hours. Also soak some seedless dates and jaggery. Grind together the dates and jaggery, and sieve through a big strainer, along with the tamarind. Add salt, roasted and crushed cumin seeds and red chilli powder.

Green Chutney:
Grind together cilantro, mint, green chillies, ginger, Dalia (roasted chana), whole raw zeera, hing, turmeric powder, and water. Squeeze some lime juice. May also add garlic.

Garlic Chutney:
Grind together garlic cloves, red chilli powder, salt and water.

To Assemble (can adapt as per your preference):
In a bowl, start with 2-3 tikkis. Ladle out Ragda on top of the tikkis, spread the three chutneys, sprinkle other toppings and serve.


Kulfi


Boil about half a gallon of whole milk on medium heat and stir to avoid scorching. Reduce to almost one third the volume. Dissolve about one tbsp of cornstarch in some cold milk and add to the boiling milk. let the milk thicken slightly more. In the mean time, soak a few strands of saffron in milk for about half an hour, and create a paste using a pestle. Add this to the milk. Add one can of evaporated milk, one can of condensed milk, about a cup of sugar, stir and let cool. Add about 8-10 fl. oz. (3/4 carton of the 16 ounce pack) heavy cream. Add fresh cardamom powder and coarsely crushed cashew nuts, almonds and pistachios. (The flavors can be adapted..think plain malai, Mango, Rose, fruits, etc). Now, fill small plastic disposable cups upto about 3/4th full. Cover with a small piece of aluminum foil, and insert an ice cream stick (The foil helps keep the stick in place before freezing). Freeze for 6-7 hours or overnight. Rub the kulfi with palms before serving to release. May use kulfi molds, if available. Enjoy!!

Tip: I didn't try this, but I saw this tip twice in my research: grind a slice or two of white bread and add to the boiling milk to avoid crystals. Cornstarch worked fine for me, though.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moving Special - Leftover Chat Samosa & daal samosas

L. has the habit of leaving a small portion of something nice to eat for later. That means We were left with packets of dry snacks containing a handful of each (Moong Dal, Mini bhakarwadi, and home made poha chivda). I was making green peas samosa to use up the samosa wrappers (Did I tell you I use Goya Empanadas Wrappers, cut into half as samosa wrappers..work great) and some green peas. And in a moment of epiphany, these unbelievably tasty samosas were born. I boiled and mashes some green peas. Added a teaspoon of ghee and sauted them. Added salt, chat masala, Hing and tiny bit of chilli powder. Then, I added some mint chutney (which had, mint, coriander, green chillies, cumin, lime, etc). And then added a handful each of the dry snacks. Mixed everything up, filled the samosas and fried them. Chatpata samosas on a snow day. I didn't even need ketchup with these..they were so good. Next time, I make some chat samosas, I'm going to look around in our snack corner.

A few weeks ago, I also made dal samosas, as a last min appetizers for a dinner party. This was literally last min. I boiled 1 cup of moong dal with 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker for a single whistle. This kept the dal undercooked and dry. Heat some ghee, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, Hing, and the daal. Add red chilli powder (I used paprika for color), turmeric powder, and amchoor (or chat masala) and salt. Cook for a bit, cool and fill up and fry the samosas. Absolutely yummy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pancake - Two ways

L. Loves Pancakes. Here are two recipes that work for my reference. One is with buttermilk (works fantastic, but has a lot more butter) and the other one is with regular milk. Both are are from Food Network.

Buttermilk pancakes:

Ingredients

* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
* 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
* 2 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* Blueberry Maple Syrup, recipe follows

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except 2 tablespoons butter until evenly combined and moistened thoroughly (some small lumps will remain). Set mixture aside to rest while griddle heats or cover and store in the refrigerator to rest up to 12 hours before using. (If batter rests, stir briefly before using.)

Heat a large seasoned cast iron skillet, frying pan, or griddle over medium heat. To check that the pan's properly heated, sprinkle a few drops of water on pan or griddle and water will "dance" around before evaporating.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan. When it foams, ladle 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles cover the top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, another 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately topped with Blueberry Maple Syrup.

Regular Pancakes:

Ingredients

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
* 2 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the milk and vanilla.

Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Whisk the butter into the milk mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, and whisk until a thick batter is just formed.

Keeping the skillet at medium heat, ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet, to make a pancake. Make 1 or 2 more pancakes, taking care to keep them evenly spaced apart. Cook, until bubbles break the surface of the pancakes, and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook about 1 minute more on the second side. Serve immediately or transfer to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.

Procedure for adding fruit to pancakes: Once the bubbles break the surface of the pancakes, scatter the surface with sliced or diced fruit, or chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Flip with a spatula and cook for 1 minute more, being careful not to burn toppings.

I think I might have found the perfect one. A bit of extra effort, but they were really good:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) or more unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Additional melted butter
  • Pure maple syrup

Preparation

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and whisk until batter is smooth.
Beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Heat nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush generously with additional melted butter. For each pancake, fill 1/4 cup measuring cup half full and drop batter onto griddle. Cook pancakes until bottoms are brown, about 3 minutes. Using spatula, turn pancakes over and cook until bottoms are brown and pancakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plates. Serve warm with syrup.

Monday, February 22, 2010

3-4-5 KopraPak (Coconut Burfee)

It's time to move again..and to clean up the freezer. I had quite a bit of frozen coconut to use up, and so I decided to make Koprapak. I usually make it with condensed milk, but this time I needed a dry version that will travel and stay well. So, I asked mom for her recipe..it came out well, except at one point it stuck on the bottom, giving it slight color (mom's is nice and white)..and it was a tad too sweet..and I first thought it was because my tolerance for sweetness in Indian sweets has gone down..but then I kept thinking about it, and then realized...the sugar in the US is finer, hence if we measure it by volume, you get more of it. Next time, I will reduce the sugar slightly...too bad it messes up the nice 3-4-5 measurement!

It's really simple - 3 parts milk, 4 parts sugar and 5 parts coconut. Mix together (leave aside half part sugar) and heat slowly till it leaves the sides of the pan and most of the liquid evaporates. Add cardamom and saffron. Add the remaining half part sugar right at the end and stir vigorously (If using Indian sugar, grind it..US sugar works fine as is). This helps the re-crystallization process. Now transfer to a greased plate. Cool, and make pieces. this recipe actually gives a nice, dry pieces (Chosla as we call in Gujarati). Enjoy!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday to Jaipur Mummy

I baked a cake (well, she's in India..but we wanted to celebrate anyways). I tried this different kind of cake. I wouldn't call it a complete success. I didn't get as much volume as I should have and I burnt the brown butter the first time around (I was lost in thoughts..really)..so had to throw it away and start over...but overall it was delicious...the cake did rise, and encompass pear and chocolate like the recipe says...just that I felt that I still need a lot more experience with eggs-flour-sugar...

Link to the SmittenKitchen Blog

Al Di La’s Torta di Pere [Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake]
Courtesy of Al Di La Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn

(Notes from the blogger)
Aside from the chocolate chunks, the bits of pear and the browned butter (like I you need to hear anything else before you take off in the direction of the kitchen) one of the coolest things about baking this cake is the eggs, that are beaten far beyond “combined” or “fluffy” but until they have the volume of a shiny, velvety ribbon of a custard, or in other words, if you have an electric mixer of any sort, this is the time to use it. You don’t want to skimp on this set.

The next coolest thing about this is that as I was making it, I was so befuddled by putting the pear and chocolate pieces on top of the cake, as I clearly remembered them to be inside it. Yet the cake rises up in the oven and tucks them into their fold and, lo, it is a glorious, delicious thing.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice (I used anjou, but would recommend a softer variety, like a bosc or any other of your favorites)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (I cheated and used flour), set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)

While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.

Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.

Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes [updated, thanks for your responses], or a tester comes out clean.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Makar Sankrant Special

This Makar Sankrant was all about tradition - well actually only food traditions..There were no kites..there was no Haldi Kumkum...but there was food...

My MIL makes carrot halwa every year..so I did. My mom sometimes makes Khichdo, so I did (actually a couple days later), and I grew up with Tilgul..so I made some of those too...

Here are the quick recipes:

Carrot Halwa:

Peel and grate carrots. Heat some ghee and saute them. Add whole milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream and keep stirring. Add sugar and keep stirring till the mixture thickens. Add cardamom, nutmeg, fried cashew, etc.

Tilgul:

The important thing to remember here is: one part "stuff" (Til, Dalia, peanuts, etc) and half part gud.
Roast one cup Til on a low flame, till nice and nutty. Roast a quarter cup each of Dalia and peanuts and break coarsely. Add some fresh cardamom powder to this dry mixture. Heat 3/4 cup gud on a low flame and sprinkle some water. When the syrup is ready (drop a ball in cold water, and if it holds shape, it's done)..add "stuff" and make tilguls or chikki.

Khichdo:

The proportion here is: one part each of Toor Daal and Faada (broken wheat). Pressure cook each of them seperately with two parts each water (so, total four parts). Mash the dal well and mix the two. Then, add the same amount of sweetener by volume (half each sugar and gud). Mix and cook everything till slightly thickened. Add cardamom, nuts, Charoli (special in this dish) and raisins. Serve hot with lots of ghee. It makes a complete meal.

(I know the proportions are confusing here...basically, I took 3/4 cup of toor dal and added 1 1/2 cups water and pressure cooked it. In a different cooker, I boiled 3/4 cup of broken wheat (Lapsi fada) with 1 1/2 cups water. This is very important, since you don't want to end up with a liquidy gooey mess. Then I mix the two in one pot, and with a big spoon, shift the whole thing to one side of the pot (kind of like a semi-circular cylinder), so that 50% of the space is empty. I fill that space with half sugar and half gud. So, basically, when you're done, it should look like a pie chart from the top, with 50% of your original ingredients, 25% sugar and 25% gud. There is no better way to do it. Many of my mom's traditional recipes are like this where the measure of sweetness is not based on the original ingredients, but based on the volume of the cooked product - and it always works..Shrikhand, Puranpoli, Sheero, Laadu...All of them...so it's worth mastering this technique)

Tilgul ghyaa and god-god bola.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Year's Eve Dinner - And Ramblings about the perfect menu

I always find menu planning more challenging than actual recipes. These days there are millions of recipes online and you can find one for practically everything. But there is not enough material out there that talks about planning the perfect menu. It's so cool when everything goes well together and the meal works out perfectly.

I think the reason menu planning is so challenging is that it is not static (well..even recipes should not be static and should change based on seasons, availability of fresh ingredients and the taste and preferences of people you're cooking for..but you can get away by following a good recipe closely). Menus are inherently dynamic. So much depends on the occasion, and the number of people and events that are to follow or precede the meal, etc. But like good recipes, good menu planning guidelines are wonderful. And every once in a while, you stumble upon the perfect menu...and the perfect setup. This New Year's Eve dinner was like that.

Here's what I made:
Mediterranean Puffs
White Bean Soup
Bread with Olive Oil Dip
Pear and Endive Salad
Roasted Red Potatoes
Mushroom and Thyme Risotto Cakes with Green Salad
Dessert (Brought by my friends) : Chocolate Mousse Bomb Cake.

We had a beautiful candle lit table setup (with an unbelievably beautiful pink carnation center piece). The thing I found interesting about the menu was the use of a different cheese in each course - Feta in the appetizer, Blue cheese in the Pear Salad and Parmesan in the Risotto. I also indulged in fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary and chives to lace everything from the soup to dip to potatoes to the risotto. It was clearly a rich meal..perfect for a big celebration.

Here are the recipes:

Mediterranean Puffs:

For stuffing, combine chopped olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, feta, salt, pepper, red chilli flakes and some dried oregano. I thawed out one sheet of pepperidge farm frozen puff pastry (I thawed out for too long, so it was stuck..I used it without unfolding it, which made it thicker). I simply cut it in four pieces, and placed the filling in the middle. Baked it on 350 oven for about 10-15 mins.

White Bean Soup:

This food network recipe always works well. I added some fresh thyme and rosemary for the extra touch.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/tuscan-white-bean-and-garlic-soup-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 shallots, chopped
* 1 sage leaf
* 2 (15-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
* 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
* 4 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
* 1/2 cup cream
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 6 slices ciabatta bread
* Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and beans and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic and simmer until the garlic is softened, about 10 minutes. Pour the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Be careful to hold the top of the blender tightly, as hot liquids expand when they are blended. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pan. Puree the remaining soup. Once all the soup is blended and back in the soup pan, add the cream and the pepper Keep warm, covered, over very low heat.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the slices of ciabatta bread with extra-virgin olive oil. Grill the bread until warm and golden grill marks appear, about 3 minutes a side. Serve the soup in bowls with the grilled bread alongside.

Pear and Endive Salad from Epicurious:

I used some ready caramelized pecans instead of hazel nuts. I also used the same vinaigrette for tossing the salad which I useda a bed for the risotto cakes.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Endive-and-Pear-Salad-with-Gorgonzola-Cream-Dressing-101596

* 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 4 large heads Belgian endive, sliced
* 1 large pear, halved, cored, sliced
* 1/3 cup sour cream
* 1/3 cup plain yogurt
* 1 1/4 cups crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

* 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked
* Chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Whisk 3 tablespoons vinegar, oil and honey in large bowl to blend. Add endive and pear and toss to coat. Blend sour cream, yogurt and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar in medium bowl; mix in cheese. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Mound pear salad on platter. Top with dressing, then nuts and chives.

Mushroom and Thyme Risotto Cakes with Roasted Tomato and Arugula Salad:

I did not do the arugula salad. Instead, I just tossed some spring greens in a simple vinaigrette and used that as a bed.

Epicurious | November 2008

by Andrew Friedman

subscribe to Bon Appétit
Ingredients

* 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3 large cloves garlic, minced
* 12 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
* 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
* 1 medium Spanish onion, finely diced
* 1 1/4 cups arborio rice (12 ounces)
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs


* Accompaniment: Roasted Tomato and Arugula Salad

Preparation

In large heavy sauté pan over moderate heat, heat 3 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add 1/2 of garlic and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer to colander and let drain until ready to use.

In medium saucepan over low heat, bring stock to simmer. Cover and keep simmering.

In large heavy pot over moderate heat, heat 1/4 cup oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion and remaining garlic and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and sauté 4 minutes.

Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir 1/2 cup simmering stock into rice and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Continue cooking and adding stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes. (You will have about 1 cup stock left over.)

Remove from heat and stir in drained mushrooms, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, until cold, about 4 hours. (Risotto can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, up to 24 hours.)

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Transfer 1 cup flour, eggs, and bread crumbs to 3 separate shallow bowls. Stir 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into flour. Stir remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into bread crumbs.

Stir remaining 2 tablespoons flour into risotto, then, using wet hands, shape into 12 (1/2-inch-thick) patties.

In heavy large sauté pan over moderate heat, heat 1/4 cup oil until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 and adding 2 tablespoons oil after each batch, dredge cakes in flour (tapping off excess), then egg (letting excess drip off), then bread crumbs, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Keep warm in oven while frying remaining batches.

Serve warm with salad.