Thursday, 27 May 2010

Borrowed recipes

King prawns in a spicy coconut gravy

I was all thrilled at discovering a Thai grocery store on my way back from the gym two days back and since i had a Thai cook book from the library with me, i had to try atleast one recipe before returning it. Its actually walking distance from my apartment, but since it was windy and cold i decided to hop on to a bus. It was just two stops away, but i went into day dreaming mode and missed my stop. OK didn't panic because i was sure the next stop wasn't too far, but it was and i ended up pretty far away from the destination, one that i had never been to. Had to walk to another bus stop, wait for a good 15 minutes for a bus and after all that chakkar, i said goodbye to Thai cooking. Picked up some prawns from Sainsbury's and decided to try out one of Shab's recipes. The king prawns and drumsticks in a thick coconut gravy seemed apt for the weather and i wasn't disappointed. Didn't have any drumsticks and so went ahead with just the prawn curry. It was delicious and soothing, not to mention spicy, on a cold day like yesterday. ThanksShab, for the tasty recipe. I followed her recipe to the dot. Do check it out here.

Pear clafoutis
I stumbled upon Mowielicious quite a while back and keep visiting it just for the amazing pictures. However, since i had an abundance of pear leftover (this is before the pear loaf btw) I decided to give a shot at the Pear Clafoutis which is pretty much easy if you have all the ingredients. It was a late night expedition and lighting wasn't good and i was pissed off about something and so only took one picture, that too on the kitchen top, which obviously hasn't come out well. Don't judge this one by the pic, because it really really tasted good...warm especially. Do give it a shot sometime. Recipe followed to the dot and can be found here.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Pear & Walnut Loaf

I made some Poached Pears with orange and spices some 2 weeks back when we had guests over and there were about 5 pears i had completely forgotten about and while Ro was looking for something under a shelf, he came across the pears in a plastic cover. The green pears had become super ripe and i was shouted at saying i always buy so much of everything and then it gets spoilt and needs to be thrown out....which is not always true. C'mon cut me some slack..i buy them with great enthusiasm saying id make this and that, and i do too....but sometimes I forget or most of the time laziness gets the better of me and i ignore.
So these pears were transferred from the shelf to the refrigerator where it hatched for about 4 or 5 days and then again i got shouted at by Ro saying i don't have any intention of doing anything with it, might as well throw it out and save some space. I had just gotten back from the gym after a really "vigorous" work out and this happened just as i plopped on the sofa. I was so pissed off and decided to prove him wrong. Did some super fast research online and decided on a Pear Loaf by Smitten Kitchen. I halved her recipe because it was my first attempt at making a fruit based bread. I am glad i tried it out because it was super easy and one of the moistest, yummiest and exotic recipes i have ever tried. It is definitely gonna make its way back into my kitchen and then it would hopefully not be with pears waiting to be rescued:)
Ro ate quite a few slices with some left over cream cheese frosting dabbed on top..and oh i also made him say I'm so awesome and a whole lotta things like that :)

Plain flour- 1 1/2 cups
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Baking powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder- 1/2 tsp

Chopped walnuts- 1/2 cup
Oil- 1/2 cup
Eggs- 2
Sugar- 1 cup
Conference Pears or dessert pears- 4 or 5, cored, peeled and pureed. I got about 2 cups of puree.
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp

Combine the first five ingredients together in a bowl.
Transfer a bit of this mix into another bowl, add the walnuts and toss it around so they are all evenly coated.
Beat the eggs using a whisk in a mixing bowl and add the oil, sugar, pureed pear, vanilla extract and the coated walnuts and stir to combine well.
Add this to the flour mix and stir till combined well and no flour is seen.
Transfer the batter into a 9 inch greased and lined bread tin or a square pan and bake in a pre heated oven (175C) for about 50 to 60 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Take it out of the oven and about 5 minutes later, place it on a wire rack till it is completely cooled.
Cut it into slices and store in an air tight container.

Notes/ Changes I made: I pureed the pear instead of grating it and that's why the colour is a deeper brown I guess.
I reduced the quantity of cinnamon down to a half tsp since we are both not too fond of the strong taste and in spite of that it still had a nice tang of cinnamon, not too strong but you knew it was there.
I chose to use oil instead of butter and also added walnuts.

Sending this to the Green Gourmet event hosted by Preeti of Relishing Recipes and to the Blog Bites event hosted by Nupur of One Hot Stove, where this months theme is Adaptation.

I would also like to thank Nitha of Amateur Perceptions and S S of Treat your Tongue for passing on the lovely awards. I have waaaay too many pics i like and over 1000's of pics to choose from. These two were on the recent albums and so here you go:

This was at about 4pm in the quaint town of Salisbury near Stonehenge. The sky was just brilliant. Ro and myself are doing a photography series on skies and this is one of my personal favourites.

This is again on the way to Stonehenge where we stopped to take in all of the English countryside and the road was covered in these colourful leaves....autumn at its best. I had to take a self pic and then i started this whole 'shoe series' of my own :)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Pink Lemonade

We had amazing weather yesterday...a high of 25C...and we like the rest of London had to enjoy a day out in the sun. So a bunch of us decided to make some finger sandwiches and brownies, grabbed a few cans of beer and cider and headed out to Regent's Park at about noon. Played a few rounds of Frisbee and then just lay back and enjoyed the sun. I remember having pink lemonade on my last trip to the US and i so so loved it. Unfortunately we don't get ready mixes here and so I made a jar on my own for the picnic. But after the beer and cider, we didn't really have space for the lemonade and so I brought it back, spiked it with vodka and enjoyed it just as much :)

Lemon juice- 1 cup
Sugar- 1 cup or more
Cranberry juice- 1 1/2 cups
Water- 1 + 3 cups or more

In a saucepan take 1 cup water, add sugar and heat till all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.
In another jar mix the lemon juice, cranberry juice and rest of the water. Add the sugar syrup once it has cooled down and mix well.Add sugar, water as per requirement. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour.

Fill a high ball glass with ice, add a part of vodka to the pink lemonade and you get a "Cranberry Kick."
Notes: You can add soda water or sparkling water to the lemonade if you want a fizzy drink.

Sending this to Divya's 'Show me your Smoothie' event and Srivalli's 'Thanda Mela.'

PS: Having major aches and pains cos of the unaccustomed exercise. I realized that playing frisbee is better cardio than a 15 minute stint on the treadmill.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Naadan parippu curry (moong dal simmered with coconut & spices)

I slept in really late this morning and woke up alarmingly at about 11am. Ro was working from home today and so I couldn't skip lunch. I mean i could have always made some sandwich and satisfied him, but I didnt have enough bread and cold meats to do so. Ro in between conference calls remembered about lunch and very sweetly offered to make rice and said rice and curd and some leftover chicken drumsticks would do. I was glad and atleast to be supportive said id make the rice. Just when i was getting the rice outta the jar i saw the dal container and i had this urge to make the naadan parippu (dal) curry. Asked Ro how long he had between calls, did some research online (oh ofcourse i need youtube and atleast 3 or 4 blog references for anything and everything) and decided to go for it.
This is the second time I'm trying this and i must say I'm proud of the outcome. For one, my hand blender is kick ass. The last time, the coconut mix wasnt smooth enough which left bits and pieces of coconut floating around and it didn't taste like what my grand mom used to make back home. This is a familiar dish to all the mallu's, and an absolute favourite of mine. I also made sure Ro got hooked on to it as well :)

Moong dal- 1/2 cup
Water- enough to cook the dal
Green chillies- 2, slit

To grind:
Grated coconut- 1/4 cup
Shallots- 2 small
Red chilli seeds- 1/4 tsp or less
Garlic- 2 pods
Cumin seeds- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

To temper:
Coconut oil- 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida- a pinch
Curry leaves- a sprig
Dry red chillies- 3

Grind all the ingredients in the 'to grind' section to a smooth paste
Cook the dal with enough water and salt- about 2 whistles in the pressure cooker.
Open the lid, mash the dal if required and add the slit red chillies and more water if required. Stir and simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add the coconut mix,combine well and simmer for a further 5 to 6 minutes.
Check for salt, spice etc. and add if needed.

Heat the oil in a tadka pan, splutter the mustard seeds, add the curry leaves, asafoetida and rest of the ingredients and sauté for a few minutes.
Add to the dal mix and stir well.
Serve hot with rice, pappad and pickle.
Notes: I like my dal a little watery, so i added some water just before adding the coconut mix. It was still thick according to my standards
Also, mashing the dal is purely optional.
The coconut oil was a lil over powering, so i might skip that the next time.

I am sending this entry to the 'Delicious Dal's' event hosted by Veggie Platter and to 'My Legume Love Affair 23' hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Caramel sandwich cake with cream cheese frosting

We were invited to a friends place for dinner over the weekend and I wanted to take something sweet for the couple, who had just completed a month of wedded bliss (bliss now..lets see for how long that is eh?). So after contemplating on a lot of options, going over and over about it with Ro and finally being shooed away saying, 'make anything and it will be fine,' I finally decided to make a Caramel cake. Now that was a task, because i don't have any patience and so was a bit skeptical about making the caramel syrup which i have managed to screw up lots of other times. Saw a bottle in Waitrose, but decided against it. Over confident, yes my exact thoughts!
And of course i had to frost it, that too cream cheese and nothing less. The last time i tried a cream cheese icing recipe, it all went for a toss with the consistency wrong and the taste nothing close to what it was supposed to be like. This time however, i was adamant I wouldn't screw up and to my surprise I didn't :)
The cake was incredibly moist and I was completely floored by how awesome the frosting tasted.

For the Caramel syrup:
Granulated Sugar- 1/2 cup
Water- 1/2 cup (really hot water)

For the cakes:
Powdered sugar- 1/2 cup
Plain flour- 1 cup
Soda powder- 1 tsp
Baking powder- 1 tsp
Condensed milk- 1/4 cup
Butter - 100 gms (at room temperature)
Eggs- 5 medium

Making the syrup:
In a heavy bottomed pan, on medium heat, caramelize the sugar. Once the sugar starts melting, it will change to a golden brown colour. Keep it on further till you attain a dark brown colour and it begins to lightly boil. At this point, pour the boiling water and stir for a further 2 more minutes to make sure all the caramel is melted and you get a smooth syrup.
Take its off the flame and keep aside to cool. You would have about 3/4 cup of caramel syrup.

Sieve together the plain flour, soda powder and baking powder. Keep aside.
Cream together the butter and powdered sugar till light and fluffy. You can do this by hand or using a mixer. I managed to do a decent job using a wire whisk.
Add the condensed milk to this and mix well to get a slightly stiffer consistency.
In a freestanding mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs till thick and double in amount.
Add half of the beaten eggs to the butter- sugar- condensed milk mix and combine well.
In goes the flour mix. Combine till nice and smooth.
Add the rest of the egg mix and fold in, without deflating it too much.
Add the cooled caramel syrup bit by bit and mix till its combined evenly.
Pour the batter into two greased sandwich tins and bake in a preheated oven (175C) for 30 to 40 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Cream cheese frosting:
Philadelphia cream cheese- 1 tub (200gms)
Butter- 100 gms (at room temperature)
Powdered sugar- 600gms
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp

In a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment cream the cheese and butter till smooth. Add the powdered sugar bit by bit till they are all blended well.
Keep the mixer on medium high and blend for a further 5 more minutes till light and fluffy

Place one cake on a cake stand or plate and generously spread some frosting on top.
Place the second cake on top and do the same. Dab some on the sides too if you want, but the sandwich cake didn't require me to do so.
Add some sprinkles if you like and you are good to go.
Notes: You can bake the entire cake and then slice it in half and do the filling also, in which case it wont really be a sandwich cake.
The caramel stage is very crucial. Keep an eye on it and be careful not to burn it. Take it from someone who's made that mistake:)
You can add some caramel sauce to the frosting instead of vanilla for that extra zing.
I refrigerated the cake for a while so the frosting was in tact. I suggest you do this if its particularly hot weather.

Verdict: My friends called up the next day to say the cake tasted really yum. I'm just gonna ahve to take their word for it and consider it a keeper :)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Honey- vanilla panna cotta with a mango mousse layer

This one's from the drafts. I am still trying to wriggle out of major cooking responsibilities by making egg burji and easy peacy things like that for dinner. Thank god for frozen chappati's andparathas...if it wasn't for those i would have really gone mad, long back.
This was my first time with gelatin and i must admit I'm not that big a fan. Just that its a painfully long procedure, waiting for it to set etc. and I don't have the patience, as you must have already guessed. Also, i just don't understand why the local grocery cant house some canned mango puree or pulp. I saw them at the Indian grocery once, but thought they would be available at Sainsbury's or something. Bad luck there, so i had to buy canned mango slices and then puree it. Something wasn't right and i was not too happy with also wasn't as sweet as i thought it would be.
Isn't yellow just so welcoming? I'm in love with that colour.

For the bottom layer- Panna Cotta:
Whipping cream- 150ml
Whole milk- 50ml
Granulated sugar- 35 gms
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Honey- 2 tbsp
Gelatin- 2 gms (I used powder)

The bottom layer:
Pour the whipping cream and milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla extract and sugar and on low heat, stir continuously till the sugar dissolves. Add the honey, mix well.
Take it off the heat and add the gelatin powder. Stir well, till it completely melts and no lumps are seen.
Strain the mixture and keep aside to cool.
Have your serving glasses ready. Once the liquid mixture has cooled, pour them into the serving glasses, about half full or however you fancy.
Chill it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hr.

For the Mango Mousse:
Mango puree- 150 gms
Sugar- 15 gms
Whipping cream- 120 ml (whipped till soft peaks form..not too dry)
Gelatin- 4 gms (I used powder)

Heat about 30 gms of the mango puree and sugar in a sauce pan over low heat, stir well to dissolve the sugar.
Take off the fire and add the rest of the mango puree, mix well. Add gelatin and stir till it dissolves.
Add the whipped cream and blend well to form a light yellow mousse.
Take the serving glasses out of the refrigerator and scoop the mousse on top of the set vanillapanna cotta.
Chill overnight. Drizzle some honey on top before serving.

Notes: If you are using gelatin leaf, then follow instructions and do as required and then add it to the mixture.
You can fancy it up a bit by slanting the glasses and then trying to set the panna cotta.
You can use martini glasses, short glasses or any glass you prefer. I used small wine glasses.
I did a dirty job with the whipped cream and so the mousse was not as light as it was supposed to be.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Paneer Mattar Masala

Well, I had to get off my ass and start cooking something, otherwise we would have had to survive on love and fresh air..with love not doing that good a job...hmpfff! All the lethargy and sickness made me very bitchy and made Ro very pushy or whatever he was then. We started off this decent discussion on why i didn't want to vote at the General Elections, and then it somehow took off on a different tangent and ended in a fight...and now I'm not talking to him.
On a nice note, I finally "woke" up yesterday, did my laundry, cleaned up..well to an extent and also went out and obviously..but still..and picked up lots of shit like Nutella and mini toffee yumyums and crisps. I also had this longing for paneer and so picked up a slab and made this paneer mattar masala which turned out quite nice (Well anything after 1 week of eating leftovers would have tasted heavenly).
Because i am an awesome, loving wife, i shared it with Ro who was mean and didn't even say it tasted good. Now the mean bitchy me wouldn't have packed him lunch today, but i did and then in the afternoon he sends me a mail (well because my phone's conked that's why!) saying some nice things and so I've decided to forgive him.

Paneer- 225 gms, cut into medium size cubes

To marinate:
Yogurt- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek powder- 1/4 tsp
Lime juice- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

White onion- 1 large, thinly sliced
Tomatoes- 2, medium, thinly sliced
Green Peas- 1/4 cup (I used frozen peas)
Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Jeera seeds- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder1/4 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder- 1/4 tsp (if required)
Salt- to taste
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp

Coriander leaves- to garnish

Marinate the paneer cubes with all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section. Keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
(You can get the onions and tomatoes ready during this time)
In a non-stick frying pan, heat the oil and shallow fry the marinated paneer, in batches if required, till lightly brown on all sides...don't over cook. Drain on kitchen towels, keep aside.
Pour the remaining oil from frying the paneer into a wok and once hot, throw in the jeera seeds.
Once they start to sizzle, add the onions, ginger paste and garlic paste and sauté on low heat till they turn golden brown.
Throw in all the powders, except garam masala and sauté well till you get rid of the raw smell.
Add the chopped tomatoes, stirring in between till the oil separates.
Add the frozen peas and mix well into the masala.
In goes the fried paneer. Mix it all together, making sure the paneer slices are well coated with the masala.
Sprinkle the garam masala, give it one final stir, sprinkle the coriander leaves, turn off the heatand cover and leave for about 5 minutes.
Serve hot with rotis.
Notes: You can loosen up the mixture a bit with some water or cream.
The oil was a tad too much, I'll definitely reduce it the next time.

PS: This post is dedicated to my cousin in ND with whom i caught up after so long and we yapped for about 2 hrs. Even though we keep chatting on FB and the like, I miss her terribly. She loves paneer so so much and so here S, I'm virtually treating you. Muah!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Blowing my own trumpet :)

I spoke too soon about Ro taking over cooking and the house cos i was sick..well he fell sick as well and now we are both under house arrest..Blah! To add to the misery, the weather is so crappy and i haven't gone out in 4 days...that's the longest I've stayed indoors. I'm feeling a whole lot better today, but still lethargic and am just not in the mood for anything, leave alone cooking. My house is in such a mess, desperately need to go grocery shopping and the laundry pile is longingly looking at me. We've been making do with sandwiches, soups, 2-minute noodle kits and pizza for the past few days and to tell you the truth I'm totally enjoying the 'not cooking' bit. I could really get used to it :)
On another note, a recipe of mine got published in the Hindu Metroplus, Trivandrum edition yesterday and i thank a good friend of mine who gave me that opportunity. I had no clue it was out till a few friends started buzzing me on FB saying they saw the article...i had no idea what article they were talking about till i browsed online to find they had put it up. You can read it here (link) if you're interested (the pic is about 1 1/2 yrs hair is not that long any more, and my arms are def not that toned now :O). thats the most exciting thing thats happened to me in a claim to fame :)

Last weekend we went out to Greenwich Park and the Cherry Blossoms, among others, were a marvelous sight which im having trouble getting outta my mind. Since i dont have anything else to post, thought I'd post a few pics.

Hope I'd be back on my feet this week...see ya

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Foil Baked Fish with Indian Spices (..and spicy would be an understatement)

Weekend went by in such a whiz that i still haven't recovered from it. It was a Bank Holiday and hence 3 day weekend. Had some college friends from up north staying with us and on Sun, hadRo's college mates over for a BBQ session which was washed out and so had to have it inside. In between late nights, partying, drinking and chatting I had to squeeze in the BBQ cooking and the odd lunch, dinner and snacks we were grabbing at home. Fell sick...bad cold, cough, throat pain and fever after they all left and its just today that i have gotten out of bed. Ro has been working from home since Friday and had everything under control..including taking care and fussing over the 'sick' me. I am completely taking advantage of it staying in bed and ordering things around. I think i am done with cooking. An overdose of it always is a buzz kill for me. All i want to do is not do anything which i have managed to. Ro has meetings all day today and has a drinks and dinner session after work which means no cooking or doing anything today also. Friday, i can make do with some leftovers and weekend, I'm hoping Ro would still be his enthusiastic best and spare me. So till I get back on my feet, I am gonna post stuff that was in my drafts and when that's over, I'll just wait till i get my mojo back :)
As i have mentioned quite a few times about how 'not' a fan i am of seafood, this dish totally caught me off guard and i loved every bit if it. It was the first time i tried out something like this and i did so only because I vaguely promised Ro some time back i would give it a shot after seeing Gordon Ramsay on a Houseboat in Kumarakom where a Kottayam kochamma (aunty) was teaching him how to do the authentic meen pollicha (baked fish in banana leaves) technique. Ro is from Kottayam and he couldn't stop bragging about it and i as usual with my contradicted views said, 'oh no big deal, that doesn't even look that great..its such an over rated thing.' ..karimeen (pearl spot) to be precise...I know, I know! A whole lot of you would love to disagree, but what to do, like Ro says I'm a disgrace to the mallu's ;)
Although mine is not the authentic preparation and didn't look anything like what GR had on the houseboat, it sure was delicious (if i may say so myself). Thanks to Collaborative Curry for providing me with a base recipe and procedure. Here you go:

White fish fillets- 2 x 200gms (Cod, Snapper, Halibut, Monkfish etc. We used River Cobbler)

To marinate:
Kashmiri Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Yoghurt- 1 tsp
Lime juice- 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

Onions- 1 large, roughly chopped
Tomato -1 large, thinly sliced
Ginger- 1 tbsp
Garlic- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek powder- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Kokum- 2 small pieces soaked in 1/2 cup warm water
Vinegar- 1 tsp
Coconut milk- 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- a few sprigs
Salt- to taste
Oil- 1 tbsp (I used coconut oil)

Kitchen foil
Baking tray

Wash and clean the fish fillets and marinate with all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section. Keep aside for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In a frying pan, heat some oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they start to splutter, add the curry leaves and onions and sauté on low heat, till transparent.
Add the chopped ginger and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes to get the raw smell off.
Add the turmeric, pepper and fenugreek powder and mix well till the oil starts separating. At this point add the tomatoes and the vinegar and saute further, till the tomatoes are well mashed and the oil separates.
In goes the kokum and the water. Increase the heat to high and when the gravy starts to simmer, and its somewhat thick in consistency, reduce the heat and add the coconut milk. Check for salt, add more if required. Mix well, take it off the heat and transfer to a bowl.

Place the same frying pan back on fire. Increase the heat to high and if there is not enough oil lining the pan, pour some more oil. Slide in the fish fillets one by one and sear on both sides (1 minute each side max.) flipping carefully.


Pre-heat oven to 175C
Place the kitchen foil in the baking tray with enough left over to wrap it up. Add half of the gravy at the bottom, place the fish fillets on top and cover with the rest of the gravy. Cover it with the foil, fold the edges so it resembles a parcel and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve hot with rice or on its own. We picked up a wine case from Laithwaites Wines with a mix of Spanish, French, Australian and South African wines and now we are in the process of learning how to pair it, what goes with what etc. We marvelled this spicy fish with a glass of Pinot Noir and it was brilliant with the rich flavours the fish brought out.

Notes: This was extremely spicy and so do reduce the chilli powder, pepper powder measurements accordingly.
If you bake it wrapped in a banana leaf, this would taste even better, I'm told.
Make sure you don't over cook the fish, and then it starts falling apart

The Yummy Team passed on some beautiful awards..thanks girls.