Thursday, 29 April 2010

Brussels Sprouts cooked with grated coconut (thoran)

We do not have any Indian grocery stores nearby and so no access to the 'Indian vegetables' if i may call them that. The fact that we get green chillies at the local grocery store itself is a big blessing, which if you are a bit late in the day, they run out of those as well. Once in a while, at the Asda which is a lil further away, we get Ivy gourd which we both love but do not get enough of. I got totally sick of eating the usual beans, cabbage and carrot as a side to our meals, and I had no clue what to make with the artichoke and parsnips and bok choy on a regular basis. That's when Ro once made these Brussels Sprouts stir fry, which were a welcome change and has made its way to our table top quite a number of times in different form. Although they are very similar to a cabbage, I somehow find it incredibly easy to handle...much better than a cabbage, the chopping up, etc etc. The point to be noted is that, we have now learned to use the veggies that are readily available here to whip up dishes that suit our palette.
We have tried quite a few variations of cooking Brussels Sprouts...grilled it, baked it and stir fried it....but i think this prep made in our very own mallu way tops the charts. I served it with rice and methi dal when we had friends over on Sunday.

Brussels Sprouts- 250 gms, washed and roughly chopped
Grated coconut- 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/4 tsp
Green chillies- 2, slit
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Oil- 1 tsp
Salt- as required

Crush the coconut, green chillies, turmeric powder and cumin seeds to a coarse mix. I did it with a pestle and mortar.
Heat oil in a hard bottomed vessel and splutter mustard seeds. Add curry leaves and the coconut mix and saute for a few second...till it becomes nice and aromatic..but careful not to burn the coconut.
Add the chopped sprouts and stir well, making sure the coconut mix is well-blended.
Sprinkle salt. Close with a lid and cook on medium heat till well cooked.
Open the lid at intervals and give it a stir to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
If its is too dry, then add very little water (1 tsp or so) and stir well.

Serve with rice, roti or anything for that matter :)
I am sending this to Health Nut Challenge 5: Crucial Cruciferous hosted by Yasmeen, where one of the cruciferous veggies' is Brussels Sprouts.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Whisky Coffee Cake with sour cream

I finally went and bought a free standing mixer and yes it was a decision well made. No more hand aches and no more messes. It was my first attempt at making a cake with sour cream and I'm honestly not sure what the advantage was. We had it with tea on Sunday which is quite ironic because, the coffee cake is to be served with a cup of coffee (not made with it). The whisky did make a whole lotta difference to the flavour and Ro almost had a heart attack cos i used up quite a bit of his Single Malt Whisky :)

The recipe has been adapted from 'Easy Cakes' by Linda Collister
Unsalted butter- 175 gms (at room temperature)
Light Muscovado sugar- 225 grams ( i didn't have any, so I used light brown sugar)
Maple syrup- 2 tbsp
Eggs- 4 large, beaten
Plain flour- 400gms
Irish Whisky or orange juice- 2 tbsp
Soda powder- 1/2 tsp
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Salt- a pinch
Sour cream- 125 ml

Put the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a large bowl and beat on high speed with an electric mixer or whisk until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the egg, beating well after each addition
Sift the flour, soda powder, baking powder and salt into the bowl.
Add sour cream and the whisky/ orange juice and gently mix all the ingredients with a large spoon.
Pour the batter into a greased pan and even it out with a spatula.
Bake in an oven preheated at 180C for about 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. My cake cracked a bit on top, because I kept it for a tad too long. Be careful you don't make this mistake.
Remove the pan from the oven and after about 5 minutes, trip onto a cooling rack.
Whisky glaze
Whisky- 4 tbsp
Maple syrup- 4 tbsp
Butter- 1 tbsp

Melt butter in a sauce pan and add the whisky and maple syrup, stirring continuously on very low heat.

Just before serving, invert the cake onto a deep plate and spoon the glaze over the warm cake. Let it cool completely. I sliced the cake and drizzled about a tbsp whisky glaze over the slice, so that way, those who do not want the glaze are not forced to have it.
Notes: I halved the recipe and so got one 9inch cake. Bundt tin or a loaf tin works fine.
I used golden syrup instead of maple syrup. Taste would have been slightly different, but it was fine.
The whisky glaze is purely optional. You can serve for dinner with whipped cream as well.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Borrowed recipes

Raw banana's cooked in a spicy coconut mix
I had no clue what to do with the raw bananas I picked up on impulse at the Indian grocery store a few days back and before it rotted in my fridge, I had to rescue it. I honestly didn't even know what the real name was, to do a google search, but lucky for me, I stumbled upon the 'Vazhakka Thoran' recipe Collaborative Curry had posted a while back and blindly followed it, with the assumption we were both talking about the same thing :)
It tasted excellent (although I have no clue how it was supposed to taste) and Ro and myself enjoyed it with hot rice, curd and pickle...absolute comfort food, I must say!
The only change I made was, I added a 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder because I did not have green chillies and I guess that's why the colour is a bit different from theirs.

White Chocolate Cookies
I came across this recipe Dimah of Orange Blossom Water had posted and had to give it a shot. I love white chocolate and ended up eating quite a bit of the cooking chocolate I picked up for this recipe. I omitted the lime zest, but followed the rest of the recipe to the dot. I also wanted to do the drizzle, but chickened out at the last minute due to sheer laziness. I couldn't wait to dig into it and so ate quite a few before cooling them and boy it tasted so good..nice and warm and the chocolate chunks lightly melted. Its a definite keeper.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

The weekend was tedious with guests, one after the other and some staying over. Cooked, baked, cooked and cooked and Ro cleaned after my mess a zillion times and I have had enough of it...the cooking and cleaning bit. I hate it when my kitchen is in a mess and the wooden floor is dirty after my expedition and I have to clean it up even if I'm super tired. Same goes for dirty vessels. After over loading the dish washer, twice, we still had enough and more vessels to wash, which Ro gratefully agreed to do 'in a while' which turned out into a few hours and I was super pissed that I had dirty vessels in the sink. So i ended up doing the dishes with a vengeance and have vowed not to cook this entire week....Ro, go figure!
I love entertaining guests though...its good fun to have friends over. We drank, ate, shared old memories into the wee hours of the night and today morn dragged ourselves outta bed to start a rather pleasant week (weather-wise atleast).
This gorgeous drink perfectly complemented the weekend weather. I had to make use of the strawberry season and what better way than to make a pitcher of chilled, berry-licious lemonade spiked with some incredibly strong basil leaves. I also served it as a cocktail at night with a dash of gin and vodka...which, needless to say, did the trick:)

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Makes about 5 to 6 medium size tumblers (loosely adapted from Martha Stewart's recipes)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice- 1/2 cup (juice from 3 large lemons)
Sugar- 6 to 7 tbsp (or according to your taste)
Water- 3 cups (approx.)
Fresh basil leaves- a handful (or less if you don't like it too strong)
Fresh strawberries- 6 to 8, hulled and halved
Vodka or gin- as required (optional)

Purée the sliced strawberries and basil with a hand blender. It should be smooth and the basil should be well chopped.
Transfer the juiced lemons into a large pitcher or bowl. Add the required amount of water and sugar and mix well.
Add the strawberry purée to the lemon mix and blend well using a wooden ladle. You can add the alcohol at this point, if using.
Fill a glass with ice cubes and top with the lemonade.
Alternatively, chill the pitcher in the refrigerator till you want to use it.
A tip: Before you juice the lemon, roll them lightly on the kitchen top, with your palm, which would apparently make the juices flow freely.

I am sending this to Indrani of Appayan who is hosting yet another spotlight event, this time the theme being 'Summer Foods & Drinks' and also to the Thanda mela event hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Grilled tandoori-flavoured prawns

The Prawn craving continues and this time I wanted to grill it. Weekend is gonna be hectic with a few friends coming over, so not rambling too much. Enjoy!

King Prawns- 250 gms, de-veined and cleaned
Yogurt- 2 tbsp
Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Tandoori masala- 1 tbsp (If you have this, omit coriander and cumin powder)
Salt- if required
Wooden skewers- 6- 8, soaked in water
Oil- enough to grease the griddle pan/ grill

Mix all the ingredients together and marinate the prawns. Keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
Thread on the skewers, oil the pan and once its really hot, place the prawn skewers in batches (if required) and cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until well cooked.
Serve as appetiser or side with a mint-coriander yogurt chutney
Notes: I used my electric George Foreman grill, so it heated up pretty fast and my prawns were done in under 4 minutes altogether. nice and juicy, that is. Fire top grilling pan or a frying pan should be fine.
My tandoori masala was incredibly red in colour which was a put off, but used it whatsoever.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Prawns in a spicy, tangy tamarind gravy

Cravings are bad, real bad, especially when its a sweet craving. I seem to have way too many cravings now...especially on my way way from the gym if i stop by at Sainsbury's, I have this tendency to pick up all sorts of junk....which makes my work out sessions highly insignificant. Like yesterday I picked up a loaf of the most amazing, yummiest banana cake ever! if you cant bake em, buy my motto:)
Its been ages since I made some authentic mallu grub, simply because we really haven't been wanting it so badly. But the other day my craving mind wanted some spicy prawn curry and after searching online for a recipe that suited my needs and convenience, I settled for Sarah's Spicy and Tangy Prawns. The picture looked so tempting (so weird, but i always judge a dish by its picture) and I had to give it a shot. I stuck to the recipe more or less with a few changes here and there. This is how its goes:

King Prawns- 250gms ( I used cooked and peeled prawns)
To marinate:
Ginger Paste- 1 tbsp
Garlic Paste- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder- 1 tsp
Coriander Powder- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp
Pepper Powder- 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves- i added lots

Onion- 1, roughly chopped
Kokum (kodampuli)- 2 to 3 small pieces soaked in about half a cup of warm water
Coconut Slices- 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Coconut oil- 1 tbsp

Marinate the cleaned prawns with all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section and keep aside for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In a frying pan, heat the oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add some more curry leaves and chopped onion and sauté till they turn golden brown.
Stir in the marinated prawns and mix well. The masala from the prawns would now be mixed with the onion mix.
Add the coconut slices and the kokum water and heat on medium for a few minutes, stirring in between and making sure the prawn doesn't over cook.
When the gravy reduces to less than half, increase the heat and saute till it becomes dry.
Serve hot with rice and curd.
Notes: Sarah has used another technique which i didn't try because I always end up over cooking my prawns and since mine was pre-cooked, i didn't want to take that risk.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Mushroom and Salami Cutlets by Miri

Me and Miri of In Vogue at Home are cousins, but it wasn't till recent times (about a year back probably) that we started talking to each other over chat and realising that we had way lots in common than we gave credit for. And as coincidence would have it, we started the food blog more or less at the same time and would have numerous discussions over chat about interesting blogs we've discovered, events we want to take part in, pushing each other to be active bloggers, shopping, photography, bitching and just about anything and everything. She came down to London for a holiday and we ended up having the best time ever...and more than a cousin, I now value her as a close friend. So when Miri agreed to do a guest post on my blog, I was thrilled. She has some interesting recipes on her blog and what interests me the most is her love for vegetables and how easy her recipes are. She experiments with them and her love for mushrooms gave way to this interesting combination of salami and mushrooms ...a combination I would have never thought of. Thanks Miri for being generous enough to do a guest post for me :)
Here is the recipe she coined:

Fresh Mushrooms- 400 gms, chopped
Salami or Bacon- 4 slices if using Salami and 3 if its Bacon (I used Salami)
Butter- 2 tbsp
Eggs- 2
Bread- 1 slice, crumbled (I used Brown Bread, but any type would be fine)
Onion- 1 small, roughly chopped
Black pepper- to taste
Salt- to taste

For frying:
All purpose flour, 1 egg, beaten and bread crumbs (in this order)- take as much as required
Oil- enough for shallow frying ( basically just to brown the cutlets)

Heat the butter in a pan and fry the onions. Once they are golden brown, add the chopped mushrooms.
Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft
Add the chopped salami, crumbled bread and eggs
Once the mixture cools a little, shape them into small pancakes, or rounds or ovals or any shape you fancy

Coat the cutlets in flour, dip it in the egg and breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels and serve them on their own as a starter or with fluffy mashed potato and some green salad. If you want to store them in your freezer for later use, you can do that as well.

Notes: The Salami and Bacon will already have some salt in it, so be careful when you add salt
The bread acts as a binding agent here instead of boiled potatoes which are commonly used in cutlets.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Lime-chilli marinated scallops in a black bean sauce

Again one of Ro's Saturday Kitchen Live (SKL) preparations this is. I woke up on Saturday, pretty late that is, to a very happy, chirpy Ro brimming from ear to ear saying, 'I know what I want for lunch.' 'Good for you baby, I know I want coffee,' was my sleepy reply. While i settled down with my coffee in front of the telly, Ro was all ready to go out shopping for his lunch. Thanks to BBC SKL, Scallops had won over the bet with Monk Fish Tail (yuck!) and thanks to BBC SKL, it turned out pretty yummy indeed!
The inspiration was SKL, but Ro ended up doing his own thing, as usual.

Scallops- 350gms
To marinate:
Lime juice- 1 tsp
Red chilli- 2, thinly sliced (less if you please)
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste
Corn Flour- 2 tbsp

Ginger- 3 tbs
Black bean sauce- 150ml (we used the Sainsbury's sachet, but here is a fairly straight forward recipe)
Oil- 1 tbsp
Spring onions- 2 stalks, roughly chopped

Mix all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section add the scallops. Keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a pre heated wok, add the ginger and stir fry for a minute or so till the raw smell goes.
Add the marinated scallops and stir fry till they start to brown.
Pour in the black bean sauce and stir fry for two minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble, all this on high heat.
Add the spring onions, stir for a few more seconds, take it off the flame and serve hot with rice or noodles.
Notes: The black bean sauce was very salty and so if you are using that, then you might want to go easy on the salt when you marinate the scallops.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A twist on the Mexican Burrito

I haven't been cooking for the past 4, 5 days and its awesome! My hand mixer broke down and so I cant bake. I am still contemplating on whether to buy another hand beater worth 13 quid, or a free standing one which is a whopping 200 quid. Ro insists i buy the latter cos then i would be a professional like Nigella Lawson...minus the boobs of course, and wouldn't have to complain about my hands hurting while whisking egg whites and while i transfer the beater from the aching hand to the other, splatter egg whites all over my kitchen top and then complain and crib about cleaning it up, which ultimately Ro gets to do. So all in all its a better bet for him, and erm,...for me too:). I took the break down as a good sign, decided to test my patience and try out this diet. The first 2 days i somehow managed and then i went and ate a much for my patience and yes, I do not have the will power to do anything nice like that. Restrictions don't work well with or anything else..yes, I was a horrendous teenager!
Global Kadai, started by Cilantro aims at trying out recipes from around the world and incorporating an Indian twist to it. This month it is being hosted by Dil se and the theme is Indian Flavoured Burritos or Wraps . I had to take part, one because Mexican food is my fav and two, i liked the sound of that challenge :). This burrito was made a few days before i went into my illogical state and looking at it now makes me want it so bad.

Beef Burritos with refried beans and Indian spices (Makes 4)
Minced beef- 250 gms
Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste- 1 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder- 1 tsp
Pepper Powder- 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Meat masala- 1 tsp (optional)
Salt- to taste

Onions- 1, julienned
Green Pepper (Capsicum)- 1, roughly chopped
Tomato- 1, sliced
Refried beans- 1 tin (200gms)
Olive oil- 1 tbsp
Sour cream or yoghurt- 4 tbsp or more according to your taste
Monterey Jack Cheese or Mature Cheddar Cheese- 1/2 cup (or more)
Coriander leaves- a handful (I avoided it)
Tortillas- 4

Mix all the powders and GGP along with the mince meat and pressure cook with about 2 tbsp water for about 10 minutes after you put on the weight (approx. 3 whistles). Let off the steam, open the lid and if there is a significant amount of water, cook on high heat for a few minutes till some of the water has evaporated. You can add salt, spice etc. at this point, if its isn't enough.
In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onions and green pepper till soft.
Add the cooked mince meat to this and fry for a while, say 2 to 3 minutes, just to make sure they are all mixed well.
Add the refried beans, give a final stir, switch off the burner and assemble the burrito.
Heat the tortillas in the microwave for about 3 to 4 seconds and place on a cutting board.
Dab about 1 tbsp sour cream and spread it out.
Add 2 tbsps (or more, or less) of the filling (meat mix) on to the tortilla, add a few tsps of the sliced tomato, enough cheese and sprinkle some coriander leaves (if using) on top.
Wrap it up and you are good to go. If you want to know how to wrap it, here is an easy tutorial. Its not that difficult. I learned it after watching them roll it at the Tortilla Mexican Grill :)
I heat the burritos for about 8 to 10 seconds before serving because i like the cheese a bit melted.

Notes: I didn't have any lettuce, so i avoided it. It would be a perfect wrap if you add a few lettuce leaves as well.
Also rice. I am not a big fan of rice in my burrito, but you can add them too if you want.
Salsa, guacamole etc etc can be added to the burrito to make it more rich.
If you want the pepper to be crunchy then add it only towards the end, do the onions first and then add the pepper.
The refried beans need not be added to the meat mix in the frying pan. You can add a few tbsp while you assemble the burrito.

My Burritos had a very Indian flavour, especially of cumin and the meat masala. That added with the cheese and refried beans were a total hit and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

A Crafty Affair

Not a food post, this is. Weekend was pretty laid back other than going shopping with Ro which i shall never in my life do again! As it is men's things are so boring, on top of that formal wear and my husband is not an easy pleaser. Did you know there are four freaking types of collars for formal wear? The Windsor collar, the Prince of Wales collar, the Duke of York collar and the Buckingham collar. Is it only here in Britain or everywhere else that they name collars and make the confused, even more perplexed and impatient? (imagine what it would be back in India...a Salman Khan collar, a Mohanlal collar...hahah)
I needed a drink after numerous visits to the changing room and 'this is not right, that is not right' sagas. There was a TGIF nearby and we hopped in there to grab a couple of cocktails and eventually ended up having dinner as well. Their cocktails were massive enough to keep us occupied for the entire 30 minutes we waited at the bar for our beeper to go off.

Came back home at around 11 and I still was in 'high' spirits. Decided to put my crafty side to work. A few weeks back I stumbled upon this blog and was very impressed with the food and craft ideas. One particular craft caught my eye and i had to do it asap. So last week I picked up some cotton yarn from John Lewis and decided to start work on a photo frame inspired by this craft by Paul. I always start something and half way through get impatient and leave it at that. I have half painted vases and glass painting kits that are stored somewhere in a corner, card boards which i bought last Christmas, saying i would personalise my greeting cards and fabric paints that have ruined quite a few of my tees. Ro said i would leave this also half way through and dared me to finish it. I had to prove him wrong and so I started work on the frames. I was all done in a matter of 2 hours and was so so proud of myself. Since the first one worked out well, I made a couple more for my two best friends and I'm gonna send it out to them. I followed Paul's instructions, more or less, but here is what i did:

What you need:
Yarn- 4, in any colour of your choice. I liked Paul's colour combination and so i decided to follow the same. I used four cotton yarns in baby blue, baby pink, pista green and lemon yellow colours.
Strong cardboard- 1 cut in any size you prefer ( I used my greeting card boards- size 26 x 18)
Size 0 paint brush, Glue, Scissors, Utility knife, ruler
Patience :)

How to go about it:
I wanted to put in a 4x6 small print picture and so cut out the centre of the cardboard in that size.
Starting from the top, using the paint brush, spread the glue from one end to the other, horizontally..this would be the the front part.
Starting from one end, carefully stick the yarn (any colour you choose) across the entire length, take it around the back and continue till you get the required number of rows. I divided my frame into about 8 equal parts, so it was easier to figure out the rows required.
Continue gluing and sticking, till you finish the entire board.
I did an easy job of just sticking the photo from the back and then using a thinner cardboard to make a stand. It served the purpose.

The colours are so pastel and very warm, its a perfect bridal shower, baby shower or new born gift. Of course you can change the colour combos and patterns, I'm just illiterate about it. Pro's like Sunitha are so good at crochets and weaving, I am ashamed to say i used up beautiful yarn for crafts...but at least i finished what i here's cheers to myself:)

Thanks a lot Paul, for inspiring me with your crafts.
This now holds a perfect place in our living area:)

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Cheesy Mini Buns

I made some chicken curry buns (recipe shall follow) and half way through I was sick of stuffing the buns and decided to take the easy way out and make some tiny cheese buns instead. It was so adorable, that I didn't even feel like eating them....and after we gorged on the stuffed buns, we were too full and so we had these mini buns for breakfast this morning. Heated it up for a few secs in the microwave, dabbed some butter on and we were good to go.

I used the Hovis bread mix and followed their instructions. Rolled them into lemon size balls, placed them in a muffin tray and sprinkled some grated mature cheddar cheese on top. Baked in a preheated oven (200C) for about 30 minutes and they were pretty and perfect. Next time however, I would probably add a quarter cup cheese to the dough as well...just to jazz it up a bit.


Friday, 9 April 2010

Reposting a few entries

Sorry peeps I have nothing new or impressive to post today, so I am reposting a few entries for an event id like to take part in.

Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes is hosting a Pancake Event and I just about made it. The deadline is tomorrow. So here goes:
My decadent (if I may say so myself) Wholemeal Buttermilk Pancakes with a Berry Compotewhich id like to say is pretty healthy and is a common brunch item on a Saturday morn.
The Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes which are easy and taste just as nice and a perfect lazy day snack.

Oh and one more thing, the next season of Britain's Best Dish is starting soon, and the producer got in touch with me asking if i was interested in taking part. For those of you who are not too familiar with the is hosted by ITV and is a competition for amateur cooks and they look for the best starter, main course and dessert. The winner gets 10,000 pounds(nice eh?). They are holding their regional auditions in May and if any one's interested, do put in a comment and il pass on details. I'm definitely an amateur cook, but I realised I can cook only for Ro and not anyone else....leave alone on TV! I go into panic mode if I have guests over and obviously Ro takes over then ;) So I'm gonna pass.

Have a fab weekend!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

'Bake or Shop' Day- Baked Chocolate Puds

Remember my 'sweet' cravings at night that i have mentioned before? Well, Tuesday night was one of those nights where i didn't want to have the Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream in my freezer, but wanted an ultra moist cake instead. Ro hates it when i am still in cooking mode after he gets back home, and acts all cute saying its 'together time' and hates it even more if i need to use a blender at 9 in the night. So i gave him a and baking is therapeutic for if it wasn't baking, then it had to be shopping and yes i wanted a Prada bag, nothing less than that :) He said shop, but do it right now...which I obviously couldn't and so I just decided to go ahead and bake. I wanted to bake this walnut upside down cake, but Ro begged and pleaded to bake a chocolate cake instead. He is so chocolate biased, and he tricked me into making this boring chocolate cake. Considering I made it in a matter of 1hr, it was nice and spongy and served the purpose, but i so don't want to make a boring chocolate cake on my 'bake or shop' day again.
This is adapted from my moms, extremely easy, Beat & Bake Chocolate Cake recipe.

All purpose flour- 100gms
Sugar- 1 cup
Cocoa Powder- 45gms
Baking Powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Baking Soda- 1 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 1/4 cup
Egg- 1 large
Milk-1/2 cup
Boiling water- 1/2 cup (add 1/2 a tsp instant coffee powder once it starts boiling)
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp

Pre heat oven to 170C
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add all the wet ingredients, except the boiling water.
Beat on medium for about 2 to 3 minutes and add the boiling water. Fold in the batter...not too much, just enough to mix it well. It may be a bit runny, but its ok.
Transfer to greased cupcake moulds or a 6" cake pan. Cook for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes before you take the cupcakes off the mould.
I greased some ramekins and poured the batter into those. I got 6 normal cupcakes and 4 ramekin puds.

Notes: You can use a little less than 100gms of butter for oil.
I screwed up with the oven temperature, and so after baking it on 170 for 25 minutes, i reduced it to 150 and cooked for another 30 minutes.
My cupcakes were ready in 40 minutes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Spicy Beef Curry

After 4 days of lazing around, watching movies, BBQ and eating out, Tuesday was such a pathetic day. Ro woke me up saying the weather was so good and to go out and do a buncha chores.. I nodded, turned around and went back to sleep. Woke up pretty late and was so lethargic and not in the mood for anything. I even skipped gym, in spite of it being a beautiful day. Hadn't cooked all over the weekend and so i was thoroughly dreading it. I wished, that by some mere luck, there would be leftovers in the fridge which i could use, but no, hadn't cooked anything for 4 days, then how on earth would there be leftovers?
At around 6 in the evening I got out of my comfort zone and decided to make something super easy. Had some diced beef, thawed them and decided to make a beef curry in the pressure cooker. Also, i hadn't made an Indian curry in a long time and thought this would be the best time. It was nice and spicy and absolutely easy...for me, easy would be something I don't have to keep stirring, don't have to cut a whole lotta veggies for, and should be tasty and serve the purpose..if only life was that simple right?

Diced Beef- 500gms
Onion- 1, roughly chopped
Tomato- 1, chopped
baby potatoes- 6, cut into bite size cubes
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Cinnamon- 1" stick
Cloves- 3
Curry Leaves- a sprig
Oil- 1 tbsp

To marinate:
Chilli Powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek Powder- 1/2 tsp
Pepper Powder- 1/2 tsp
Meat Masala- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Ginger Paste- 1 tbsp
Garlic Paste- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste

Marinate the diced beef with all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section. Keep aside (I didn't have the patience and time to keep it for an hour or so, I cooked it immediately)
In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and splutter the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cinnamon and cloves.
When it is nice and fragrant, add the onions and sauté till light brown. Add the tomatoes and on high heat cook for another 5 minutes, or till they are mashed.
Add the marinated beef, diced potatoes and mix well. The masala would coat the potatoes and the onion mix.
Add half a cup of water, close the cooker and when you see the steam, put on the weight and wait for the whistle. After the first whistle reduce heat to medium and I wait for another 8 to 10 minutes...but it may be different for you.
Remove from the heat and wait for the pressure to die, or if you are in a hurry like me, let the steam escape and open the lid.
If it is too watery, put it back on high heat and cook for a few more minutes. If it is too thick, stir in some warm water.
Check for salt, spice etc. and add if required.
Serve hot with rice, rotis or even upma (instant MTR btw!)

Note: Substitute coconut milk for water, and I'm sure it would taste even better.
I have made this curry without any tomatoes and mustard and curry leaves still turned out pretty awesome.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Thin Cut Beef Steak with Herby Potato Wedges

We got some brilliant thin cut steak from the butcher and so decided to grill it. Added some blanched string beans, grilled courgettes and potato wedges and it was a wholesome meal. I didn't take pics of the final meal because the steaks smoked up and caused my smoke alarm to go off. I, as usual, panicked and then Ro had to turn it off. By then I lost my appetite and was in no mood to style it.

Thin Cut Beef Steak Marinade (for about 6 to 8 thin cut steaks)
Worcestershire Sauce- 3 tbsp
Soy Sauce- 3 tbsp
Chopped Coriander Leaves- 1 tbsp
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Pepper Powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1/4 tsp (optional)
Salt- only if required

Place the steak slices in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper, on both sides. Mix all of the above ingredients and pour over the steak slices. Cover with a cling film and marinate for a minimum of 3 hours in the refrigerator. Bring it back to room temperature before you grill it. Heat a grilling pan and cook the beef, about 2 minutes on each side, for medium rare (which is what we prefer) and since the slices were thin cut, it cooked really fast. If you want it well done, keep it on for a lil more time.
Herby Potato Wedges
Baby Potatoes- 6
Rosemary- 1/2 tsp (i used dry)
Thyme- 1/2 tsp (dry)
Garlic- 4 pods, roughly chopped
Shallots- 2, roughly chopped
Dry red chilli- 4. crushed
Salt- to taste
Oilive oil- 1 tsp

Boil the potatoes with enough water in a saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or till they are just about cooked, but not mashable consistency. Take off flame, keep it to cool and cut into wedges. Alternatives, place the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots, garlic and chilli flakes till lightly brown. Add the potato wedges, herbs, season with salt and sauté well for another 4 to 5 minutes..or till the potato skin becomes lightly brown and crunchy.
You can mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, marinate the potato wedges in it and bake in a preheated oven (170C) for about 20 to 25 minutes, if you have lodsa time.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Thai Green Curry (Chicken) and memoirs from our Thailand trip

For our 1st wedding anniversary we took off to Thailand and had an amazing week in bothPattaya and Bangkok. A few kms off the coast of Pattaya is this brilliant Island called Koh Larnwith its pristine beaches and crystal clear water. After an adventurous deep sea diving expedition, we got to this Island and lounged around, sipping on Singha Beer and munching on all sorts of exotic sea food. In between a few dips in the water and sun bathing, we managed to try some exotic Thai food which I must say was bloody cheap and tasted out of this world. Since I wasn't too much of a seafood fan, I opted for chicken and other meat varieties which was not bad at all. Ro went berserk trying lobster and crab and everything fishy and wouldn't stop talking about it. Even now he brings up his savoured sea food expedition in Thailand. We also went with full enthusiasm about trying street food in BKK, but chickened out seeing all that was on display. I shall not say 'what' and gross you all out.
The Thai green curry and red curry in particular caught my fancy and I tried it at home quite a while back. It tasted just as how I remembered it to be and is one of the easiest curries i have ever made. Considering it was my first time with a Thai dish, it turned out pretty awesome. It was served with white jasmine flavoured rice, but we had it with just plain rice and it sure was good enough. You can make this with any meat, sea food, meat and seafood and as a vegetarian dish.. You more or less can decide what goes into it.

Chicken Breasts- 500 gms cut into bite cubes
Bell Pepper- 1 medium size chopped lengthwise(any colour)
Onion/ Shallots- 1/4 cup
Spring onions- 1/4 cup (optional)
Green chillies- 2 slit lengthwise
Thai green curry paste (any brand, store-bought)- 3 tsp (heaps)
Ginger paste- 1 tsp
Garlic paste- 2 tsp
Coriander pwd- 1 tbs
Chilli pwd- 1 tsp (can substitute with Chilli sauce as well)
Fish sauce- 2 tbs
Dark Soy sauce- 1 tsp (or 1 tbs of the regular soy sauce)
Coconut milk- 1 can
Coriander leaves- chopped fine, to garnish
Oil- 2 tbs
Salt- to taste

In a large wok, heat the oil and sauté onions and peppers till soft. Add the ginger and garlic paste, coriander pwd and chilli pwd to this and mix well. In goes the cleaned chicken pieces and once they become light brown, add the Thai green curry paste. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the sauces (fish and soy sauce and if using chilli sauce, that too at this stage) and salt and make sure the entire chicken is covered in this mix. In goes the coconut milk, simmer till the meat is cooked through. I left it on low heat for quite sometime so that the gravy and coconut milk flavour will nicely be infused into the chicken pieces. Add the green chillies and keep stirring once in a while. Just before you take the curry off the flame, sprinkle the spring onions and give one final stir and when you serve it, garnish with coriander leaves. I think the coriander leaves add that extra taste and flavour to the whole meal, try not to avoid that. Ro however got mad seeing the 'leaves' and managed to remove quite a bit of it.

If you do not have the store bought Thai Green Curry Paste, here is a recipe i found online.
Green chillies- 3 chopped
Garlic cloves- 2 minced or approx tsp of paste
Lemon grass stalks- 1, sliced
Kaffir lime leaves- 6
Shallots- 3 finely chopped
Coriander leaves- a handful
Ginger- 1 inch piece finely grated
Peeled rind of half a lime
Coriander pwd- 2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Shrimp paste- 1 tsp (optional)
Pepper- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- 1/2 tsp or more if desired

Blend all the ingredients together till it forms a thick paste and voila you have your Thai green curry paste. If you have leftover, after using the desired amount in your curry, you can transfer it into a jar and store in the refrigerator for future use. It is an added task to make the paste, but an easy one if you can find all the ingredients.
Notes: You can throw in beans, corn, carrots, peas, potatoes, broccoli, egg plant or any other green vegetable you fancy. Paneer is also a good substitute for meat i guess
The entire dish is made uncovered.
If you have the Thai green curry paste and coconut milk, the desired taste will be achieved no matter what.

Leaving you with a few pics from the trip
Pattaya Bay as seen from the boat that took us to Koh Larn.

Told ya it was blue blue blue:)

Dry fish sold at Koh Larn Island

All sorts of exotic fruits being sold at the Floating Market

That's us at the Floating market...super tanned from our Pattaya expedition :)

This is a reposted entry, and I'd like to send it to Jagruti of Joy of Cooking for her event Joyful Eating Whilst Travelling