Friday, 30 September 2011

Passion fruit-basil lemonade

We have been having some exceptionally hot weather (30C) this side of the world, and its horrible. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for skimpy shorts and margaritas, but when you are kinda done with summer and want to move on to the changing leaves, scorching hot and humid weather doesn't really work well for me. I mean it was just last weekend I put away my summer wear and pulled out all my knitwear and even shopped around for some new scarves and jackets. When on earth will I be able to pick up this gorgeous pair of ankle boots, that I have been eyeing?? When, when, when???

So instead of dreaming about hot chocolate and mulled wine, I have gone to making cold drinks, yet again. I was out all of yesterday and by the time I got to my last stop, the grocery store, I was pooped and wanted something cold. Strangely I was craving passion fruit juice (I mean who craves passion fruit juice???)..and I dint think twice before picking it up. Came back home, jazzed it up with some fresh basil and lemonade and it was an awesome combo.
I was so thrilled with my discovery, i forced myself to keep about a glass in the fridge for Ro, who came back from work, spiked it with gin and said it was much much for all the hard work! (although i admit it tasted great). There is not much of a recipe here, I just threw in a few ingredients, but I thought I should pen it down, just for picture sake :)

Passion fruit juice- 3 cups (any brand, I used Rubicon)
Passion fruit pulp- from two small fruits
Lemonade- 1 1/2 cups
Basil- about 3 tbsp, torn
Ice cubes- as required
Muddle together the basil leaves and passion fruit pulp lightly.
Top with the passion fruit juice followed by the lemonade
Throw in the ice cubes, garnish with a basil leaf and serve

Notes: Add some gin or vodka for some extra kick
The passion fruit juice can be really sweet, so dilute it with some water if required.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Chilli, ginger and coriander focaccia

Its unbelievable that we are having awesome weather and apparently it continues on to next week. We have been enjoying it thoroughly and as we do every year we also went for the open air movies at the London Scoop. We have one more coming up on Wednesday and that should officially end our summer sojourns :)

I am also super thrilled, I've managed to post another recipe without much of a gap, thanks to a 'no working on weekends' rule Ro has come up with. So while he's spread out on the sofa reading Asterix and watching the F1 highlights, here I am typing out a recipe. Its been ages since we've spent a weekend at home and today also would have been no different if it wasn't for the Greenwich marathon that passes through our place and they've shut down all transport and even the tube station.
So all day we lazed around, got drunk and the initial plan was to just not do any cooking, but the past few days we've been eating out and so I got down to it and cooked. This focaccia was the outcome and we dunked it in olive oil and munched away with a chicken roast. Discovered this fab website with a lot of baking tips and recipe ideas and I have already bookmarked a few. Do head over and check it out when time permits.

I must admit that the first time I tried out a focaccia recipe, it flopped on me, big time. This time however, I was determined to follow instructions properly and although a couple of ingredient substitutions did leave me confused, I managed to pull it back together. The coriander leaves add a great flavour to the bread and you know the chillies are present, but not in an over powering sort of way.
Recipe has been adapted from here
Plain flour- 200 gms
Sea salt- 1/2 tsp + enough to sprinkle
Chillies- 3, finely chopped
Coriander leaves- a small bunch, finely chopped
Ginger- 1/2 tbsp, grated
Active dry yeast- 3.5 gms
Water- 112ml (roughly 4oz), warm
Olive oil- 1/2 tbsp
Slightly warm the water and add the yeast. Whisk to dissolve and leave aside for 6 to 7 minutes to reactivate.
In the meantime whisk together the flour, salt, half of the chillies and coriander leaves and ginger in a mixing bowl.
Once the yeast has frothed, add it to the flour mix and knead using a dough hook attachment for about 5 to 6 minutes or if using your hands, flour the work top and knead well for 10 minutes, till the dough is no longer sticky, but smooth and pliable.
Lightly grease a bowl, place the dough in it, cover with a wet cloth and set aside in a warm place to rise.
After about 2 hours, the dough would have doubled in size, so punch it down, knead for about 2 to 3 minutes and make it into a presentable round shape. Roll it out if you cant really stretch it, but don't thin it a lot.
Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and dimple it at intervals with your finger.
Top with the remaining coriander leaves and chillies and keep aside for an hour or so to proof again.
Once the dough has risen again, brush with olive oil generously, sprinkle some sea salt and place in an oven preheated at 190C.
Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or till golden brown.
Take it out, cool on a rack for about 5 minutes and then slice and serve.
Notes: The ginger was a wee bit over powering for my liking, so id go easy on it or maybe even avoid it altogether next time.
The original recipe called for a mix of very strong and strong bread flour. Didn't have any, so used plain flour instead. I'm sure the outcome would have been much better if I'd used bread flour.
If using instant yeast, then add everything together to the mixing bowl and knead. You can also go directly to the second proofing stage if using instant yeast.
Replace the toppings with garlic, sun dried tomatoes, olives etc. if you want variety.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cream cheese frosting

It was Ro's turn to select a cake and he selected the boring chocolate cake (well no surprises there). I tried to convince him to change his decision saying he needed to have variety in life and too much chocolate is bad for character building (inside joke btw!) and things like that, but he said he'll live with it. So chocolate cake it was.

To be honest I don't even know why I made up this system where we alternate our preferences when it comes to dessert because unlike me, Ro is not fussy at all. he will eat anything I make and even say wow. The occasional once or twice he said something vaguely dissatisfying and I was almost in tears. Now you know why I panic when I have people over, simple..its because Ro keeps saying everything is nice and I honestly cant figure if he's just saying it to make me feel great or its ACTUALLY nice. 

Anyhoo, I made a passion fruit and poppy seed cake the last time and so this time Ro selected the chocolate one. All he asked was a simple choc cake, but I cant leave it at that can I? So I searched (yet again) and decided on a recipe from Bakers Royale. I also had a tub of cream cheese which I had to use up and since the peanut butter was also sitting in the fridge untouched, I decided to pair the two together. I am not a big fan of heavy cakes and chocolate is not my thing, so I only took a bite and from that it was not that bad. The cake is not that sweet and the frosting imparts the sweetness that the cake lacks. It blends pretty well. But that's all I'm gonna have of the cake. It's all for Ro to devour. The things you do for love, I say! :)
Cupcake recipe has been adapted from here
Dark chocolates- 1 oz (more than 70 percent cocoa), roughly chopped
Unsalted butter- 4 tbsp
Cocoa powder- 1/4 cup
Plain flour- 45 gms
Baking powder- 1/4 tsp
Baking soda- 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Egg- 1
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Sugar- 75 gms
Yoghurt- 1/4 cup

Peanut butter cream cheese frosting from here
Cream cheese- 3 oz
Icing sugar- 17 gms
Creamy peanut butter- 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Whipped cream- 1/4 cup
Into a saucepan throw in the chocolate, cocoa powder and butter and stir until melted and combined. Keep aside to cool.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Keep aside.
Into a mixing bowl break the egg and whisk well with the sugar and vanilla until pale yellow.
Pour in the cooled chocolate mix and stir well to combine.
Add about 2 tbsp of the flour mix and fold it in till well combined.
Add the yoghurt, whisk well and throw in the remaining flour. Fold it in together till they all come together.
Pour into 6 muffin liners till 2/3rd full and bake in an oven pre heated at 176C for 20 minutes.
Cool on a rack completely and only then frost.
Into a clean mixing bowl add the cream cheese and sugar and whisk on medium speed for about a minute or so.
Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and continue whisking for a couple more minutes, till everything is mixed well and its light and creamy.
Fold in the whipped cream gently until you get a smooth mix.
Either pipe it on to the cake or dab a couple of spoons onto the cupcake and make a mess out of it like i did :)
Notes: The original recipe for the cake asked for sour cream which i substitutes with Greek yoghurt
Don't bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Keeps the consistency thick
place the cakes in air tight containers and it stays in the fridge for a couple of days.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Tindora and prawn stir fry (kovakka-konju mezhukkupuratti)

Not in the mood to blabber today, just that we were at an Indian grocery store yesterday and Ro and me were like kids left loose in a candy story. Went ballistic and picked up a whole lot of junk, one of which was fresh tindora, a vegetable I absolutely love.

I remember seeing a prawn and tindora dish at my place once and I conveniently put it aside because I couldn't care less about the tindora. Years later and here I am desperately trying to replicate the recipe in my home. So are the ways of life, said my intellectual husband while savouring this tasty dish. I had to pen it down before I forgot the recipe.
Tindora (kovakka)- 350 gms, cleaned and sliced lengthwise thinly
Small prawns- 200- 220 gms, peeled and cleaned
English shallot- 1, finely chopped
Chilli powder- 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder- 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Dry red chillies- 2
Salt- to taste
Oil- 1/2 tbsp
Marinate the prawns with 1/4 tsp chilli powder anda pinch of turmeric powder.
Pre cook the tindora in a pan with a few drops of water and the remaining chilli powder and turmeric powder.
Keep stirring in between and if you find that it is sticking to the bottom, add some more water and cook uncovered.
Keep it on medium heat and cook uncovered till they are no longer crunchy, but be cautious and prevent it from becoming mushy.
Once done, keep aside
Heat oil in a frying pan and splutter mustard seeds.
Throw in the curry leaves and dry chillies, stir for about 3 to 5 seconds and add the shallots.
Saute till they turn light brown.
Tip in the pre cooked tindora, prawns and sambar powder, season with enough salt and stir fry for a couple of minutes, or till the prawns are completely cooked through.
Serve with some steaming hot rice.
Notes: Use 2 or 3 small Indian shallots if you don't have English shallots
The original recipe uses dried shrimp, but since I'm seriously averse to it, I decided to use fresh ones.
If the prawns take time to cook, pre cook it the same way you did the tindora and then add it together at the end

Friday, 9 September 2011

Minced pork cocktail kebabs

First of all Happy Onam to all you gorgeous people. I am craving a traditional feast, but then sheer laziness to make it and the unnecessary exorbitant prices the restaurants are charging for it is making me stick to er, a pizza for dinner. My plans of posting the pictures have also gone awry as I dove straight into work and was left with no time whatsoever. Now I have just lost the enthusiasm to do the same.

My life revolves around the weather, a fetish I developed after moving to the UK, and so here is the update. Its officially Autumn in our neck of woods and I must say its not as depressing as I thought it would be. In fact I'm secretly enjoying the gloomy weather and continuous rains to an extent. The only down side is the fact that photography has taken a back seat as it starts getting dark early and since I start cooking only by around 5, I've missed out on what little sunlight is pouring through.
This dish however happened by fluke. I had picked up some minced pork to make some burger patties and since I didn't know what else to do with the leftover meat, these kebabs were born. Since it was a comparatively warmer and brighter day today I decided to embrace the occasion by taking these pics outside on my balcony. I am pretty sure I wouldnt be seeing this kinda weather any time soon, so I'm thinking there would be a bit of a delay with my next post as well. Just letting you all know in advance, you see. Coming back to the recipe, you can make them as patties if you prefer or make larger kebabs using the entire skewer. I am thinking this is a brilliant appetizer idea served along with a dip.

On a completely different note, please head over to Miss Tam Chiak owned by the lovely Maureen, and check out my guest post 'South Indian Egg Roast' among other fabulous reviews and pics. Once again thanks a lot for giving this amazing opportunity.
Minced pork- 450 gms
Curry powder- 3 tsp
English shallots- 3, finely chopped
Coriander leaves- a handful, finely chopped
Green chilli- 1, sliced
Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt and pepper- to taste
Wooden skewers- 5, broken in halves
Soak the wooden skewers in a glass of water for at least 1 hour.
Into a mixing bowl add all the other ingredients and using your hand, mix well until well combined.
Cover and keep the bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 176C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Wet your hands lightly, take small portions of the meat and press on to the skewers, leaving a couple of inches below.
Make sure they are not too heavy, or otherwise it would fall off.
bake for about 9 minutes on each side and then drain on paper towels.
Serve with a spiced mint yoghurt dip and some salad greens and you are good to go.
Notes: You can use minced beef or even boiled and mashed vegetables instead of the meat.
The above mentioned amount makes about 5 medium sized patties as well.
The curry powder mentioned is a mixture of all sorts of spices and powders and we get it here in grocery stores under- mild, medium and strong. I think you can use any meat masala in its place.
The kebabs are not spicy at all, so increase the amount of chilli powder or green chillies for a more spicier version. I made the dip spicy instead.
While adding salt, go according to your instinct because you obviously cant taste raw meat. The next time i am definitely going to jot down the measurement.
Go ahead and grill it on an outdoor BBQ or even in an oven for a max of 3 to 4 minutes each side. I tried one batch in the frying pan, but that means you have to add oil and I ended up making a mess. But not everyone's like me, so go ahead and fry it if that's more convenient.