Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Banana Muffins

I had some over-ripe leftover bananas which were put to good use for these muffins...soft and just sweet enough to quench our cravings. You can have them for breakfast or sneak it in for a mid-day snack. Enjoy!

All Purpose flour- 195 gms
Baking Powder- 2 tsp
Baking Soda- 1 tsp
Granulated Sugar- 115 gms
Egg- 1
Bananas- 3, extra ripe ones mashed
Buttermilk- 1 cup
Oil- 2 tbsp
Vanilla Extract- 1 tsp

Preheat oven to 190C.
Keep a 12 hole muffin tin ready...either line it with muffin cases or lightly spray the tray with cooking oil or butter
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
In another bowl beat the egg, add the mashed banana, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients. Mix just until well incorporated..not too much.
Spoon into muffin cups till about 3/4th full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Take it out of the oven, cool for about 15 minutes in the tin and then turn it onto a rack and cool completely.

I am sending these muffins to the CoL- Leftover Delicacies event hosted by Spicy Lounge. If you have made something with leftovers...then yes, this is the event to take part in.

Gimme Greens!

I was all geared up to do some hardcore brunching on Saturday and more importantly i was more thrilled to use some of my new Le Creuset cookware I'd picked up a few days back when i went on this immense shopping spree. I have of course decided to return some of the clothes and shoes id picked up (I always always have second thoughts)...clothes because i have no patience to wait in line to get to the trial rooms and so i just buy it, come home, sashay around and then return it if i don't think it looks drop-dead-gorgeous..oh and also high waists may be back in style, but nah i don't think I can every be comfortable in it, after being so used to the super low waists...ah the freedom it gives you!. And shoes...i really liked it, and was proud i was being adventurous and went a lil off the usual style..but Ro passed snide remarks about it and its totally ruined it for me now... I keep telling myself I shouldn't really care about what he thinks about my clothes, and I really ignore it most of the time, but when I'm doubtful about something and if someone says its not the best, then im convinced I made the wrong choice...its only for clothes and shoes and bags btw..all the other things...I am so level headed, I find it very difficult to change self-made decisions, in fact.
Sorry, I'm rambling again....so what i meant to say was...lying in bed at 10, still...I was charting out what to make and how to style it for my pics when i realized that the 'wretched monthly visitor' had made its presence felt and i automatically went into bitch mode. Dragged myself outta bed almost in tears at having spoilt such a pleasant Saturday and walked into the kitchen pouting. My delightful, every happy husband had the telly blaring and James Martin on Saturday Kitchen Live was suddenly annoying. Ro was cooking and i was already pissed he hadn't noticed i was pouting..instead he sang..'good morning sunshine' and thrust a ladle full of something into my face...In between grabbing my coffee, I snapped at him and said:
I don't want to try it...
He wouldn't let go, eat it, eat it...it doesn't taste like liver at all...
LIVER???????????? WTF? You know i don't like liver, kidney, brain, eye, balls etc...and why do you ask me to try it every damn time.
Ro was confused...'are you mad cos the birds woke you up AGAIN?
NO! you dodo....you wouldn't know, I'm in pain... I hope you'd be a girl in your next life.
Laughter....non stop...'would I have massive boobs if I'm a girl in my next life?
Ladies and gentlemen, that's my husband for you....how he manages to make me smile in between all this, is beyond words.
So i plopped on my sofa and declared I wasn't going to move a finger and Ro said he would take over cooking for the day. After a heavy breakfast (not me), he started lunch preps at 1.30pm and made this rather yummy stir fry with rice and curd and his liver fry (yuck!), while i watched a corny chick flick..with a cold cider and a smirk on my face...maybe its not bad I'm a girl, after all;)

Stir fried beans with shallots and garlic
Sliced runner beans- about 2 cups
Shallots- 2, roughly chopped
Garlic- 3 pods, roughly chopped
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt & pepper- to taste
Olive oil- 1 tbsp

In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté shallots and garlic till light brown.
Add the runner beans, salt, pepper and cumin powder and give it a good stir.
Close with a lid and cook on high for about 5 to 6 minutes or till the beans are cooked just enough..not too mushy. You might want to stir in between, and if you feel its sticking to the pan, add a tsp of water.
Serve hot with rice.

Here is another easy peacy green bean recipe, a great accompaniment to any main.

I am sending these entries to the Vegetable Marathon Event hosted by Anita's Kitchen where the theme is Beans.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Spanakopita- a Greek savory pastry

I am not an ardent fan of Greek food, but from the one time I tried it, the only dish that impressed me was the Spanakopita. Did some research online and I had to make it part of one of our Saturday brunch sessions...which btw is my favourite meal of the week. You can make them like small filo parcels, but I went ahead and made a pie. I am not in a mood to ramble, so here goes:

Spinach- 500 gms (washed and blanched)
Egg- 1
Feta Cheese- 120gms
Onion- 1, roughly chopped
Garlic- 2 pods, roughly chopped
Filo Pastry sheets- 6 to 8
Melted butter- 1/4 cup for brushing the filo
Olive oil- 1 tbsp
Sat and Pepper- to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C
In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté onions and garlic till light brown. Add the blanched spinach and sauté for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep aside.
Whisk the egg in a mixing bowl and add the cooked mix. Crumble the feta cheese over this and mix till well combined. Its ok if the feta cheese is still lumpy in a few places.
Assembling: Grease a baking dish with butter and place 4 filo pastry sheets on top of each other, generously greasing after each layer, except the last one. Spread the spinach filling over the pastry evenly and cover with the remaining 4 sheets, again following the same procedure of buttering each layer before you put another on top. This time, go ahead and grease the lastpastry as well..so that the buttery top gives a nice golden brown colour.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove and leave to cool for a while and then cut into squares and serve with a salad.
Notes: If you want to serve it as a starter, you can make filo parcels instead..like how we roll for spring rolls or samosa with the spinach and feta as filling.
You can replace feta with ricotta cheese.
be careful while you take the filo pastry sheets, it can easily tear and even worse become dry..so have a wet towel ready and keep covering it to keep it moist

I am sending this to the AWED Event hosted by Curry Leaf where the theme for this month is Greek Food. Kudos to DK who kick-started this event. I am also sending it to Dil Se who is hosting this months Healing Foods Event, an event started by Siri's Corner, and the theme is Spinach.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Fancy a cuppa?

Anjum Anand is a celebrity chef based out of London and we used to religiously follow her cookery shows on BBC from our Nottingham days. Her show 'Indian Food Made Easy' was quite interesting and she used to come up with the simplest recipes and healthy ones, for that matter. I remember trying out one of her dal recipes and it was easy and tasty.... I have to dig it up from the BBCiPlayer, try it out again and post it here for my personal reference.
I don't know if its the weather change or the power work out sessions where I sweat a lot and then walk out into the cold, that's causing this, but my throat has been acting a bit weird lately. Its either the start of a sore throat or even worse a cold. So yesterday after contemplating with myself on whether i should or should not take the over -size umbrella with me to the gym and then worry about it not fitting into my locker and dragging it all around, I decided to just use my hoody to protect myself from the rain....outcome of which was a sneeze after I got home and I knew I was gonna get into trouble if I didn't act fast. So I made this peppery, gingery, spicy masala chai after a hot water bath and boy did it feel great (the bath and the Chai btw!). I wouldn't say it cured my throat issue instantly, but it sure did ease it a bit and offered some sort of comfort. A couple of days more with the chai and im sure it will be taken care of. This Masala Chai, Anjum style, has come to our rescue a lot of times but most of all its unbelievably therapeutic on a cold, rainy day.

Masala Chai (adapted from BBC Food- makes 1 large Coffee Mug)
Milk- 300ml
Water- 150ml
Peppercorns- 4
Cardamom- 3
Fresh Ginger- 1 tsp, peeled and chopped
Cinnamon Stick- half inch
Sugar- to taste
Tea Bag- 1

Lightly crush the peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, fennel and cardamom in a pestle and mortar and add to the milk and water. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, making sure the milk doesn't boil over.
When the volume has significantly reduced to about a cup, add the tea bag and simmer for some more time. If you don't need strong tea, take it out after a minute.
Strain into a cup and add the sugar. Serve Hottttt!

Notes: The original recipe calls for a pinch of fennel seeds which I omitted, since I didn't have any.
I also reduced the cardamom pods significantly since I didn't want it to over power the ginger and pepper.
I use whole milk and I don like my tea milky, so i sometimes reduce the milk significantly.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Beef Stew to complement the weather

Why why why is it raining non-stop and windy again??? Just when I was beginning to enjoy walking out in open shoes and thin jackets, the weather goes for a toss again...just when I started gym sessions and has to drag my lazy ass out, it starts pouring, and the devil in me contemplates on whether to bunk or not...just when i have a few markets to cover as part of my photography stint, the wind ruins it and I cant take pics with my gloves on...not to mention my plants which have been out on the balcony..some of them uproot and some almost dead. So its not been the best week for me, weather-wise, but on another note, I'm enjoying the work out sessions and already feel a whole lot better. My whole day goes by in a jiffy now that the gym takes up close to 2 hrs and I'm lethargic and tired to cook a full fledged meal. This stew, however, was super easy since i cheated my way through a bit (a lot actually) but i shall not harp on that. The point is, if you have a pressure cooker, life is just way simpler than usual. I still have my pressure-cooker phobic moments, but its of great help whenever i want meals in a short time span. Also, since it was any way cold and windy and wet, why not add to it with hot stew. Here is my take on it:

Lean, diced casserole beef- 500gms
Swede- 1 cup
Carrots- 1 cup
Onion- 1/2 cup
Leek- 1/4 cup
Baby Potatoes- 3
Red wine- 1 cup
Chicken/ Beef stock- 2 cups
Flour- enough to lightly coat the diced beef
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste
Thyme- 1 sprig
Oil- 1 tbsp
Green chillies- 2, slit lengthwise (optional)

Season some flour with salt and pepper and lightly coat the diced beef with the same.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Chop up the swede, carrots, leek, onions and baby potatoes into big chunks and add it to the hot oil. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for a while. Add the wine, the beef and the stock and the green chillies, mix well. Add the sprig of thyme and close the cooker. Cook till about 3 whistles (approx.) and keep aside till the steam dies. Open, check for salt, spice etc. and add if required. The gravy should be nice and thick and the beef cooked through. Garnish with thyme and serve hot with dinner rolls..which i did make as well, but with a twist.
I followed this recipe from Spicy Chilly's blog and boy was it a delight. When I told you I cheated, I was not joking. I used the Hovis bread mix for the buns and spiced it up with a whole lot more chilli flakes and avoided the green chillies. I followed Bharathy's procedure to the dot and I must say its definitely a keeper. I could even chomp on it without any accompaniment, although I must say it made a world of a difference with the stew.
Notes: The stew can be made in a stock pot as well, just that the cooking time will be much longer, say 2 to 3 hours on low low heat. What's even better was that it tasted more sumptuous the next day:)
You can throw in mushrooms, celery etc. etc...its again, your choice of veggies
Sainsbury's has an assortment of casserole veggies, which i keep using for a lotta dishes, and its perfect for this stew.
I also used store-bought meat gravy instead of the stock and it tasted yum..although I had to dilute it with about half a cuppa water.

I would like to enter this recipe to the Julie & Julia competition give away hosted by Matt and Carla of foodforfriendsyeah.

PS: Don't you think Sainsbury's should start paying me for the immense amount of publicity I give them ;)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Coconut Shrimp

I'm a total drama queen (my husband would love to support that with a few examples, but I shall pass) and i love all things dramatic..which is why i am glued on to More 4 on Thursday evenings to watch Brothers & Sisters. Those of you who have no idea what it is...its just plain drama. I watched the last episode and actually had tears in my eyes (also I'm PMSing I think!) when Kitty read out this poem for Rebecca and Justin at their wedding on the beach, after which she collapses cos she's a cancer patient and blah blah ...people from the US who are way ahead in Season 4...do not tell me what happens after that because I want to watch it on telly and be dramatic about it (I am so itching to catch the next episode online, but i shall resist)...people in India who watch it..sorry for the spoiler and people in UK who watch it...empathize with me. I actually have so much work I need to submit and I have been sitting on it for way too long. My editor keeps buzzing me on chat, asking when I'd submit them and I keep giving excuses. If she reads this, I'm dead!!!!! 'You have time for bloody melo-drama, but cant submit a 700-word article..pah!!!' she'd exclaim.
Anyhoo, the reason I brought up B&S is because, Coconut Shrimps were served as appetizers at their rehearsal dinner and it inspired me well enough to google it and make it the very next day (OK! that sounded a whole lot interesting in my head). I think its of Caribbean or Latin origin, I'm not sure, but they were absolutely yummy and a great starter with cocktails (well, in their case its always wine, but who cares). Once again Ro, the drama's that I watch have inspired me to make mouth-watering dishes, and the next time you whine while I sit glued to the TV, think twice!!!

Peeled and cleaned King Prawns- 200grams (I tried it with a small quantity, just to be on the safer side)
All Purpose Flour- 100grams
Corn Flour- 2 tbsp (optional)
Shredded coconut (not too sweet)- about 2 to 2 1/2 cups
Egg- 1, well-beaten
Pepper powder- 1 tsp
Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to deep fry

Heat oil in a sauce pan.
Season the AP flour and corn flour with pepper powder, chilli powder and salt. Place the prawns in the flour mix and coat on all sides, evenly.
Keep the eggs and the shredded coconut ready.
Dip the flour-coated shrimp in egg, roll it in the shredded coconut and then dunk into the hot oil. Fry for about 2 minutes (both sides) and drain on kitchen towels. Continue the process till all the prawns have been fried crispy brown.
Serve with some garlic mayo, or if you don't have the patience (like us) eat it while frying (of course I had to harass Ro into taking a pic before it was all over).
Notes: I am not a big fan of deep frying because I cant seem to do it without making a mess. So the next time, I'm gonna try baking it instead.

I would love to thank The Yummy Team for passing on the Sunshine Award to me and as usual would love to pass it on to all the creative cooks out there.

PS: I was discussing B&S and DH with my sis-in-law and her comment was, 'Once you have kids, there will be enough in-house drama to deal with.' I'm wondering whether I'll enjoy that kinda drama..well, I'll just have to wait and see. Adiós people!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Stuffed pizza-dough Buns

I had some left-over pizza dough and had to use it up before it got spoilt. I didn't have enough to make a pizza and the calzone was way too tedious. However, i did have some mince meat at hand, which Ro usually uses for his sandwich lunches, and then i had an idea..why not make stuffed buns. Yes, mincemeat stuffed buns it was! They were so yummy, especially hot from the oven and we gobbled it all up at one go..needless to say, they were pretty filling and we skipped dinner that day.

For the buns:
All purpose flour- 145 gms + extra for dusting
Active Dry Yeast- 1 tsp
Salt- a pinch
olive oil- 1 tsp
Warm water- as required (I used about 100ml)
Mix the yeast into the water, stir to dissolve and keep in a warm place for 10 minutes
Mix the AP flour and salt together in a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and oil to form a slightly sticky mixture. You can keep adding water till you get the deserved consistency.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and pliable.
Place it back into the mixing bowl, cover and keep in a warm place for up to 2 hrs. It would double in size by now. Punch the air out and knead for another 2 to 3 minutes.

For the stuffing:
Mincemeat- 500 gms
Turmeric- 1/4
Chilli Powder- 1/2 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste- 1 tsp
Coriander Powder- 1 tsp
Pepper Powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Onions- 1, roughly chopped
Green chilli- 1, slit
Oil- 1 tbsp

Mix all the spice powders, ggp and salt with the mine and pressure cook with a wee bit water for 10 minutes, after putting the weight on or approximately 3 whistles.
heat oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions and chilli till they turn light brown. Add the cooked mincemeat along with the gravy (if any) and sauté till they become a darker shade of brown...not too dry though! You can add salt, spice etc at this stage if required.

Shape the dough into medium size balls. Make a depression in the centre, like a cup rather and spoon in the mincemeat and seal the edges. Roll into a perfect round, if you want. I really didn'tbother to :)

Egg wash: Beat an egg with about about 1 tsp milk and using a basting brush, generously coat the buns just before you put it in the oven. This browns the top.

Bake in a pre-heated oven (175C) for about 20 minutes. Serve hot with a hot cuppa anything :)
Notes: You can use any filling of your choice..let your imagination run wild. In the 1-2 hrs the dough was set aside, you can prepare the filling.
I tried this once with a pizza base mix (store bought) and it was a world easier.

I am sending this recipe to the Yeastspotting event hosted by Susan and the Bread Baking Day (BBD#28) event hosted by Tangerines Kitchen. BBD is an event created by Zorra.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sherry- poached Pears

We were out to dinner at Browns, yet again! and i am really really getting bored with the food. The menu has only about 10 mains and we have already tried almost all of it. The only thing we keep going back for, are the cocktails, which i must say are no longer attractive because, wait-for-it, I have tried them all, except the cream, whisky and rum based ones. We were going through the menu and i was like, had it, had it, had it and Ro finally exclaimed that I was an alcoholic mallu :)
My favourite, the Moonlight Martini, is definitely on the must-try-at-home list.
Anyways, let me not get side tracked..what i meant to say was, we never order desserts from Browns for the simple reason that it doesn't even slightly appeal to us in any way, but this time, we were just desperate for something sweet and was lazy to go elsewhere, so ordered the Poached Pear drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with ice-cream and we loved it. Above all, I had to try it out at home and I DID.
Outcome: Incredibly easy and gorgeously tasty dessert and i am so making this the next time i have people over.

Dessert Pears- 2, peeled
Dry Sherry- 1 cup
Orange juice- 1/4 cup (freshly squeezed or store bought. I obviously used store bought)
Sugar- 1/2 cup
Cloves- 2
Nutmeg- a pinch
Cinnamon stick- 1 inch
Ginger- 1/2 tsp, grated
Peppercorns- 2 or 3

In a saucepan big enough to hold the pears, mix the sherry and sugar and bring to a boil.
Add the orange juice, spices, ginger and pepper. Coverand simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the pears and cover and cook on low heat for another 20 minutes or so. Pierce a knife of fork in between to see if the pears are cooked. Make sure you don't over cook it, as it would fall apart.
Transfer to a serving plate and pour some of the syrup over the pear and serve either hot or cold and if you want to jazz it up a bit, add a dollop of mascarpone cheese or ice-cream.
Notes: Dab some lime juice over the peeled pears to prevent it from browning.
The dessert pears were incredibly sweet and the syrup added to it. I might reduce the sugar a bit the next time.
You do not have to keep the pear intact, you can slice it up and poach it which means it would be much easier to serve if you are serving for a larger group.

PS: And that's my daffodil which has been growing like wild fire. More pics here.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Curried 'Where's The Meat' Veggie-Pea Stew by Cool Lassie

Even though I'm comparatively new to owning a food blog, one of the things i enjoy is the amazing bunch of friends i have made online. Its incredible how the world of blogging actually brings people closer.
The guest post scene seems to have caught on pretty high in the blog world and i wanted to join the bandwagon as well:). Even though its just been a while since we've met in the blogosphere, I am extremely grateful to Cool Lassi(e) of Pan Gravy Kadai Curry who has been such a sport and helped me with this guest post. I welcome and thank Cool Lassie for passing on this amazing Curried "Where's The Meat" Veggie-Pea Stew recipe to kick start the guest post series. I am still bugging some of my friends and relatives who cook extremely well to send in their recipes, but its just been a task trying to coordinate. But for now here is the 'COOL' Lassi(e) with her kick-ass veg. recipe. You can read all about her, her interests, her inspirations and of course her fabulous food here.
Like she's mentioned, its definitely a stove-top sensation and I absolutely agree:)

Curried 'Where's The Meat' Veggie-Pea Stew

Black chick pea- 1 cup, cooked
New potatoes- 2, small, quartered with skin
Carrots- 1, small, cliced
String beans, 6, roughly chopped
Turnip- 1 small, peeled and julienned
Fennel see- 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds- 1/2 tsp
Home-made vegetable stock- 3 cups
Olive- oil- 4 tbsp
Curry powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

To cook and grind:
Onion- 1 large, chopped
Roma tomatoes- 2, medium, sliced
Garlic- 3 big pods
Ginger- 1/2 inch, peeled and chopped
Dry red chillies- 2
Pepper corns- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 stalk
Parsley- 2 stalks, coarsely chopped

In a thick bottomed skillet, heat a tbsp of olive oil and sauté the garlic, onions ginger, dry red chilli. pepper corns and curry leaves till the onions are browned.
Add the tomatoes and sauté till they lose their raw smell.
Switch off the stove and add the chopped parsley to the pan and allow mixture to cool.
Once cool, grind the mixture to a smooth paste
Dry fry the fennel and coriander seeds till they are nice and aromatic and grind them coarsely using a pestle and mortar.
In a stock pot, heat the remaining oil and add the fennel-coriander powder, curry powder, potatoes, carrots, turnip and the beans.
Sauté on medium heat, stirring frequently until the veggies are browned.
Pour the vegetable stock and add the ground paste.
At this stage add salt and if you need more pepper, you can do so as well.
Close with a lid and cook on low flame, until you reach a chili-like consistency
Take off heat and serve hot with crusty bread or a side to cous-cous, fried rice, plain rice or even roti.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Borrowed Recipes- Punjabi Paneer Makhani and Masala Bhindi

Punjabi Paneer Makhani

Miri from In Vogue at Home, a cousin of mine, and above all a good friend was telling me how she made this Punjabi Paneer Makhani and the pic she posted on her blog convinced me it was indeed a must-try. After exchanging a whole lotta details about the procedure, I decided to go ahead with it. It turned out extremely rich and tasty and even though it just doesn't look anything like what she's put up, I'm still kicked at the fact that Ro and myself loved it.
When i saw the recipe first, it looked long and tedious, but Miri convinced me it wasn't and she was right. I followed the recipe more or less the same way with the following alterations:
  • I didn't have kasuri methi leaves, and so i used a 1/4 tsp Fenugreek powder.
  • Before I added the jeera to the hot ghee/ oil, I also added 2 cardamom pods, 1 bay leaf, 2 cloves and half an inch of a cinnamon stick
  • I also used canned tomato puree and since it was bit tart i added a few tsps of honey instead of sugar and solved the problem.
  • I added a dash of cream which was optional :)
We paired it with Coriander Naan (store bought) and it was a hit. Thanks Miri, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Masala Bhindi
I also tried out Tarla Dalal's Masala Bhindi and it looked nothing like the pic on the website. It tasted average, and I think it's got to do with the fact that i have no patience when it comes to deep frying. The ingredients and measurements can be found here and the procedure is simple. Marinate the slit bhindi with all the ingredients and fry till nice and crispy. I didn't want to deep fry it, so i sautéed it in about 2 tbsps of oil.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Oh! Honey Honey

Yes, I made this beautiful Honey Cake yesterday and couldn't wait to post it. It was so moist that it was crumbling in my hand and the taste....the honey, spice and coffee in it was way too delicious for words.
Had major withdrawal symptoms not baking, and we were feasting on fruits as an after meal dessert whole of last week. I finally had to do some baking and at 9 in the night I made this brilliant honey cake which i think is my most favourite after the French Yoghurt Cake. I somehow feel baking is therapeutic, well second to a shopping spree or a spa package of course ;)
This Honey Cake is apparently part of the Jewish New Year tradition and I adapted it from a recipe on this website. I have halved the measurements since i was a bit sceptical on how it would turn out and in spite of that i got a comparatively large cake.

All purpose flour- 1 3/4 cup
Baking powder- 1/2 tbsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Ground Cinnamon- 2 tsp
Ground Cloves- 1/4 tsp (about 2 to 3 cloves powdered in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar)
Granulated sugar- 3/4 cup
Brown Sugar- 1/4 cup
Vegetable Oil- 1/2 cup
Honey- 1/2 cup
Egg- 1 large or 2 small
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Warm coffee or strong tea- 1/2 cup (I added 1 tsp instant coffee to half cup warm water)
Fresh orange juice- 1/4 cup
Whiskey/ Rum- 2 tbsp (optional)
Almonds-1/4 cup (sliced)

Moist Honey Cake
Preheat the oven to 175 C.
Butter a 9x9 inch pan (I used a Square Spring form cake pan)
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking pwd, baking soda, salt, cinnamon pwd and ground clove powder.
Make a well in the centre and add the white and brown sugar, honey, oil, egg, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and whiskey (if using).
Whisk lightly till they are all mixed well and using a hand beater on low speed blend well till you get a nice thick batter.
Pour into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle the almonds on top (if using) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean.
Wait for about 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
Drizzle some cream and serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes: I think you can substitute orange juice with lime juice
The cinnamon was a wee bit over powering, so i would reduce it to 1 tsp the next time.
I didn't use the almonds and also avoided the whiskey since a friend who was around was anti- alcohol. Id definitely try it out the next time.
I'm thinking walnuts would also be an interesting addition. next time, i guess:)

I am sending this to the Bake Off event hosted by Champa.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Celebrating Spring with Bubbly Cocktails

Weekend was brilliant with the weather being so generous to us...loads of sun and not windy at all..which meant it was definitely time for the outdoors. Central London was bustling with people and i declared out loud that Summer was definitely around the corner and the tourist season was catching up. We tried out this brilliant Malaysian fine dining restaurant called Awana in the posh area of South Kensington and it was one of the best ever..shall review it later.
But for now....here are a few cocktails i tried, to celebrate spring. Had them with a biryani lunch on Sunday and it was perfect. I'm really enjoying the bar tending bit..even if its at home and I'm so kicked that i finally learned how to open a bottle of bubbly on my own..without running to the next room when Ro tries to do so.

Manning Mimosa (makes 1 cocktail)
This is a bubbly cocktail made with Prosecco- an Italian sparkling wine- and is good for all occasions, but best for brunch.

Orange juice- 6 tbsp (freshly squeezed is way better)
Lemon juice- 2 tbsp
Orange liqueur like Cointreau or Grand Mariner- 2 tbsp
Chilled Prosecco- to top
Fresh mint leaf- for garnish
Mix together the orange juice, lemon juice, liqueur in a Champagne flute. Top with Prosecco, garnish with mint leaf and serve immediately.

Strawberry Smash (makes 1 cocktail)
This is more like a Mojito, but with a bubbly. You can basically put in any herb of your choice and adjust the amounts as per your taste.

Fresh strawberries hulled and sliced- 3
Fresh herb- 6 leaves ( I used mint leaves)
Gin or white rum- 1 oz ( I used Gordon's Gin)
Lime Cordial- 1 oz
Prosecco- 2 oz
Lightly muddle the strawberry and mint leaves in a 'rocks glass' until the strawberries become pulp-like and the herby smell of the mint leaves are strong. Add the gin and lime sour and give it a stir. Fill about 3/4th with ice and top with Prosecco.
Notes: Lime cordial can be substituted with a Lime sour or even lime juice for that matter.
I avoided ice cubes in my drink
You can use cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme etc., but don't overdo, as it can be a bit over powering.
If you want a mocktail, use sparkling water instead of Prosecco.

I would also like to raise a glass to Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey? for completing 4 awesome years of blogging. I am sending these Bubbly Prosecco cocktails to the Monthly Mingle event hosted by her where the theme is to prepare anything with Champagne, Processo or sparkling wine. These cocktails are an awesome way to celebrate. Kudos to you Meeta.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Square Pizza ... cheated a lot on this one ;)

I had no clue making a pizza was this easy... especially with the pizza base mix from Sainsbury's. Like i mentioned before, Friday's are Pizza days for us and we gorge on Dominos usually. Tried Pizza Hut once and we were thoroughly disappointed with them. We make an order online and Dominos deliver to the dot...literally. Pizza Hut was 45 minutes late and the two times we called to find out what was happening, the Manager had no clue where the delivery guy was and told us he left half an hour from the store...weird? yes i thought so too...we had a major argument with the delivery guy who again had no clue what was going on and it was a whole big mess. We swore never to order from PH ever..i even wrote a stinker to them regarding this and they wrote back saying sorry and we could have a free pizza next time...ya right!..like there ever will be a next time!
So coming back to the post...there were two sachets of the base mix, one of which i used for the calzone and the other i made this pizza. Since pizza was anyway junk food, i went all out and made it as unhealthy as possible...with absolutely no veggies. Next time i shall include bell pepper, mushrooms etc....if there is a next time, that is. Like most of the recipes here, very few have returned to our kitchen.

Sainsbury's/ Asda Pizza base mix- 1 sachet
Pizza Topping sauce- half a bottle. I used this (told ya i cheated).
Chicken sausages- 1/2 cup (diced)
Shredded chicken- 1/2 cup (cook chicken with any spice of your choice or just salt and pepper and once cool, shred them or dice them into small pieces. I used some Mexican seasoning for this)
Grated Parmesan cheese- 1/4 cup
Grated Cheddar cheese- 1/2 cup + more to sprinkle on top

Follow instructions and prepare the dough. Roll out the flour on to the pizza tray and leave it in a warm place to rise. I didn't have a pizza tray, and so had to use the square cookie tray. Anythings fine.

While that's taken care of, prepare your toppings..get the chicken and sausage ready.
Assembling: spread the pizza sauce on to the base..generously, if you want a strong tomato taste, (I went a lil light on this) leaving about an inch gap around the base..just so you get a crispy edge.
Layer with some parmesan and cheddar first. Then add the sausage, chicken and the rest of the cheddar and parmesan.
Cook in a preheated oven (200C) for 20 minutes or until the base is crispy.
Notes: I screwed up on the rolling out bit..again! and so it tore a bit in the centre which i tried to fix and again screwed it up, so the centre didn't come out crisp..although i didn't mind the fact that it was incredibly soft either.
You can put any topping of your choice..including the cheese. Mozzarella is a must actually, but since i realised i didn't have any, only when i started cooking, I went ahead with the mature cheddar and i love love cheddar cheese,so i didn't care much.
The lazy me decided to use store-bought pizza sauce which was good enough. But if you are particular about making your own..there are loads of recipe online. Same goes for the base too.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Eating healthy gone down the drain

Oh well...i knew it better than anyone else that i couldn't stick to all that gyan i gave about eating healthy. I have however reduced my cake/cookie/ brownie baking to once a week and have started eating fruits instead. Have also made it a point to have more veggies along with meals...even if its just blanched and seasoned and maybe a dash of salad dressing too. I would like to say low fat dressing, but sorry, its not..so there goes the eating healthy bit.
Anyhoo...i was watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives and in between the lesbian-ic tensions between Katherine and stripper Robin, I managed to catch the name of the French toast Katherine was making. She made it with this bread called Brioche and i had to find out what it was. Google came to my rescue and i learned that it was this super high calorie bread with a high egg and butter content. Opened Sainsbury's website and searched for the same, and as luck might have it, they did have the Brioche bread. Off i went to S (after DH of course) and after hunting around in the bakery/ fresh bread section for a while i came across different varieties of the Brioche bread. There was the loaf, the long buns and the ones with chocolate chips etc. I opted for the long buns. Came back home and couldn't wait to try it. It is incredibly soft and mildly sweet and i loved gorging on it just like that..no topping, no filling nothing. Sunday brunch was the Brioche French Toast with caramelised bananas, I had already decided. See Ro was wrong...mindless drama like DH did inspire me after all :P

Brioche buns- 4
Eggs- 2, beaten well
Milk- 1/2 cup (I used whole milk)
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Sugar- 2 tbsp (optional)
Cinnamon powder- a pinch

For the caramelised bananas:
Ripe bananas- 2, sliced lengthwise
Brown sugar- 3 tbsp
Butter- 1 tbsp
Orange juice- 1 tsp (optional)

Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon powder till nice and frothy.
In a casserole dish, place the four brioche buns and pour the egg/ milk mixture over it. make sure they are all well soaked.
Heat a non stick frying pan and toast on either side, till light brown.

In a sauce pan melt the butter and brown sugar till it forms a caramel like consistency. Add the banana slices to the pan and coat them with the same for about two to three minutes. Don't over do it though.
Arrange the toast on a serving plate, place the caramelised bananas on top and drizzle the left over caramel syrup.

Notes: You need not pour the egg mixture over the brioche, you can also dip and toast all of them like how you do a french toast.
If you are not eating them immediately, keep them warm in an oven. I could toast all four of them at one go in my frying pan.
You can add a dab of butter to the pan before toasting, if its not non-stick
I am yet to master the art of caramelising without burning it and so mine looks a bit watery...

PS: The pic doesn't do justice, but trust me this was delicious.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Kerala Beef Fry (Beef ularthiyathu)

I still haven't gotten over my pressure cooker phobia after this episode and so prefer to use it only when Ro or someones around. In spite of that, each time the whistle sounds, i jump out of my skin and everyone has a good laugh except my husband who thinks its high time i grew out of it. Easy for him to say hmpffff!
One of the first blogs i started following on a regular basis was that of Sig's and if at all there was a wee bit of inspiration, it was because of her. The first recipe i tried of hers was the Kerala Beef fry and it was alright, not perfect like hers. I just couldn't get the colour right and I'm sure taste-wise it wasn't anywhere near hers as well. I went on and learned how to make it my mom-in-law way and have stuck to that always. But then, I came across the Blog Bites event hosted by One Hot Stove and noticed that the first edition was on Cookers. Also, one of the rules mentioned I should try a recipe from another food blog and I thought I should give Sig's recipe another go. And this time it was way better than my first trial. I almost managed the colour and taste was also brilliant.

Here are some of the details:
I followed Sig's recipe to the dot and used my Hawkins Contura Anodized Pressure Cooker which we got as a wedding gift..about 4 years old now:). One thing i added were the curry leaves which as Sig mentioned is not really an option but since there was a ban on curry leaves in the US at that time, she had to do without it. I added tonnes of it like she mentioned and it sure did make a difference. Thanks to Sig for all those mouth watering dishes that have inspired me to lift a finger.
Some of the other pressure cooker recipes i have tried are:
Spinach Dal, Beef Curry inspired by mariasmenu, Dal Fry and the Chicken Curry from yours truly :)

I almost forgot, I would love to thank the duo of Adukala Vishesham for passing on this award. I must add, that my husband gets way more excited than me when he sees awards on my blog and i really didn't know he subscribed to my blog till a few days back..i was incredibly touched :)
I think i have already been scandalous and mentioned things about me. You can read it here. And I would like to pass this award to two of my good friends Miri of In Vogue at Home and Swar of Whats Cooking Today in particular..all others, like i have mentioned before, are awesome cooks and are incredibly creative, so feel free to grab the award, brag about it, display it on you blog and link it back to whoever awarded it, share 10 things about yourself and pass on the award to anyone you like.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Grilled Herring with Roasted Herb Potatoes

On Saturdays we wake up just in time to catch Saturday Kitchen Live on BBC1 and most of the time it evokes so much of interest in Ro that he has to go out and buy something immediately. Last week we had guests, and Roast Beef was on the menu. Unfortunately it was a bit of a flop because some of us wanted medium rare and others well-done and finally it ended up being over-cooked. The gravy was brilliant though...
This week Herring was on the charts and so Ro immediately went out to Sainsbury's and picked up fresh Herring fillets. Now i must warn you, if you despise fish like me, this is not the dish for you. It is incredibly smelly and fishy and has loads of tiny bones. But my husband loves it and so he did the entire prep. and ate it all on his own with great interest. He of course tried to force it down my throat and i politely (you must be freaking kidding me!polite i mean) declined and stuck to my spicy Buffalo Wings instead.

Grilled Herring
Herring- 6 fillets (approx 45 gms each)
Olive oil- 3 tsp
Salt & pepper- to season
Lemon- 1 tsp

Pre-heat oven grill to 170C.
Place the clean herring fillets on a baking tray, drizzle the Olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn over and repeat the process
Grill for maximum of 6 minutes on each side.
Squeeze a lime over it and serve.

Roasted Herb Potatoes
White baby Potatoes- 8 to 10
Fresh Parsley- a handful, roughly chopped
Thyme- 1 tsp (i used dried thyme)
Pepper- 1 tsp
Garlic- 1 pod, roughly chopped
Salt- to taste
Olive oil- 2 tsp

Boil water in a saucepan and throw in the potatoes and cook till a fork goes through easily (about 25 to 30 minutes)
While that's taken care of, crush together the parsley, thyme, pepper powder, garlic, salt and 1 tsp olive oil in a pestle and mortar.
Wash the potatoes in cold water and cut them into half. Pour the herb marinade over and toss well. Make sure all the potato halves are well coated.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan and roast the potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium flame. They should not be mushy, but just about crisp on the outsides.

Notes: This is the unhealthy way of doing it, you can do the roasting bit in an oven for about 20 minutes to get a crispy potato.
You can use any herb of your choice like dill, basil etc.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Brunch Specials

I have decided to go a little light on the cooking bit and do some healthy stuff for a while, because all the baking and the fancy food is beginning to show on me, especially around the hips. As it is i am lazy to cook and click and type it out, so imagine how its gonna be now? Worse? I am not going to abscond, but I'm gonna limit my baking to once a week and include loads of veggies and fruits to our diet. I am opening the blog out to anyone who wants to chip in a few recipes of their own, so the blog doesn't come to a stand still. So please do send me a recipe with a pic and il put it up, and its just not the bloggers I'm talking about..I know so many friends of mine who are awesome cooks and i might have to push them a bit to send in stuff, but i am gonna do that. For now here's a brunch special which is almost a week old. I whipped it up last Saturday when we had a friend staying over and Ro and W agreed to help me with it and so it wasn't really a big deal at all. I completely bossed over them and got most of the work done...cheeky me huh?

Wholemeal Buttermilk Pancakes with a Berry Compote
For the pancake:
Wholemeal flour- 1 cup
Brown Sugar- 1/4 cup
Baking Powder- 3/4 tsp
Baking Soda- /4 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Buttermilk- 1 cup
Egg- 1
Vegetable oil- 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp

Mix together all the dry ingredients (first 5) in a bowl.
In another bowl whisk the eggs and mix the buttermilk, vanilla and oil till well incorporated.
Add this to the dry ingredients and stir well. Its ok if the pancake batter is a bit lumpy. Keep aside for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and pour in a ladle full and cook till you see bubbles appearing on top. Carefully flip over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Berry Compote (adapted from the Low Gi-Diet Cookbook):
Mixed berries- 200 gms (i used blueberries and raspberries)
Brown sugar- 1 tbsp
Honey/ maple syrup- enough to drizzle

Put the berries in a saucepan and gently heat until they are warm and have softened. Add the brown sugar and give it on for a little longer, just to get the sugar melted.

Stack the pancakes and serve topped with the warm berries and a few drizzles of honey or maple syrup or even whipped cream :)

Notes: Pancakes are horrible once cold. So try serving them as and when its done.
The berry compote may be a bit tangy, but since you are serving with honey or syrup over pancake, it should be fine.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes on the vine- 250gms
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)- 2 tsp
Salt and pepper- for seasoning
Balsamic vinegar- 1 tsp (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C and place the tomatoes on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Drizzle with vingar (if using) and EVOO generously and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or till the tomatoes are soft.

Sausage Veggie Bake
Onion- 1, thinly sliced
Garlic- 3 pods, mashed
Broccoli- 1/2 cup
Cauliflower- 1/2 cup
Carrots- 1/4 cup
Spinach- 1 cup
Sausages- 1 cup, chopped into in inch pieces
Salt and pepper- to season
Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese- 1/2 cup (grated)
Oil- 1 tbsp
Milk- 350ml

Blanch the cauliflower and broccoli florets. Keep aside.
Clean the spinach leaves, drain and transfer them to a bowl and close with a lid. Cook in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Drain off the water and keep aside.
Cook the sausages in some oil. Drain on kitchen towels. Keep aside
Heat the oil in a frying pan and throw in the onions and garlic. Cook till transparent and fragrant. Add the broc, cauli, carrot and spinach, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook till done. Just before you take it off the fire, add the cooked sausages and give a final stir.
Transfer into an oven proof casserole dish.

Make the Colman's cheese sauce as per instructions. Boil the milk and add the contents of the sachet and stir till you get a lump-free mix. I went ahead and added some cheddar cheese as well.
Pour the cheese mix over the veggies in the casserole dish, sprinkle the rest of the Cheddar cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven (170C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with garlic bread or on its own. It is very creamy and i wouldn't say its healthy healthy, but i feel a whole lot better at having all these veggies :)
Notes: You can basically add any veggie of your choice...beans, mushrooms, potatoes, leek etc and go fully vegetarian or add chicken, mince meat, bacon etc. and make a whole non-veg meal out of it too. If you add pasta to the above recipe, it can be a whole meal on its own.
You can make your own cheese sauce/ white sauce. The recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Easy Peacy Chicken Curry

I suck at making Indian food. I have taken this liking towards conti cooking and baking and the sauces and filling options available here make it even better. When it comes to making Indian dishes, I'm a big flop. I cant even make a normal chicken curry taste good, and I have no clue where i go wrong. This is the recipe i stick to when i have a craving for chicken curry. Whatever new recipes i try, it all ends up looking and tasting the same to me. I didn't bother posting this till now, because i keep forgetting what to add or how much to add and end up with pathetic results. The last time i made this curry, it turned out good and i decided i had to note it down somewhere, and hence this post (curry) in a hurry :)

Chicken- 1 kg, with bone (I used thighs)

To marinate:
Kashmiri chilli powder- 3tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Dark Soy Sauce- 1 tbsp
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 1/2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1, 1" piece
Cardamom- 4
Coriander leaves- a handful
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tbsp
Pepper powder- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste

Onions- 1 large, roughly chopped
Tomato- 1, roughly sliced
Curry leaves- a sprig
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp

Grind all the above mentioned ingredients together and marinate the cleaned chicken pieces for a minimum of 2 hours. Make slashes on the chicken pieces so that the marinade seeps through and the flavours are absorbed.

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and splutter mustard seeds.
Throw in the curry leaves and onions and sautee till soft.
Add the tomato and sautee well on medium fire till the oil starts separating.
Add the marinated chicken and stir fry on high heat for a couple of minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the left over marinade, if any, mix well and pour about 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook till the third whistle.
Remove from fire and wait for the pressure to release on its own. Open the lid and check salt, spice etc. and add if required. If the gravy is not thick, you can put it back on the hob top and boil till u get a thick gravy. I usually avoid this.
If you need a roast-like prep, in a frying pan heat some more oil and sautee the chicken slices with the gravy till they become semi-gravy like, and coated with the masala.
Serve with rice, roti or even bread.
This is another chicken-roast recipe, a favourite of mine.
Notes: The cooking time was half an hour and i love the pressure cooker for making this easy. You can also do the same in a Kadai, just that cooking time will be more. I'm sure it yields the same result.