Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tea Ceremony & My Girl's Grape Juice Recipe

It started out rather innocuously. From an inconvenience I felt once when making several cups of tea one at a time in the microwave. Making it the old fashioned way on the stove was just too slow for that day. I thought if I could get a teapot small enough to get in the microwave and large enough for a few cups of tea I could just pour it all out in one stretch. As with all such things, the idea stayed just that for a long time. Then something brought it back to the top and I made an impulsive buy of a teapot  only to find it too tall for the microwave! That got returned and the whole plan got discarded. At least for the time being. Last week we drove to an outlet mall that we hadn't visited in the longest time and I spent some time in a favorite store of mine. The Corelle Outlet. You can find all sorts of cute kitchen stuff there. Many Indian parents shop there before their return trip to get some unbreakable everyday stuff for a good price. I bought some stuff that I liked and then I remembered the teapot. My son spotted this cutesy little guy and the decision to buy was immediate.

As luck would have it I spotted something else on the shelf. The glasses that reminded me of those roadside teashops where tea was always served hot with a flourish or thud in one of these!  My dad depended on them to quench his thirst when going on long trips. So we came home, washed teapot and glasses with soapy warm water and our tea ceremony got started. It will last at least for the duration of the holidays when time and temperament seems inviting for such an act. I had planned on using my lovely teacups but once I got the glasses, they were the natural pick:-)

Here is how we do it. Around 4 to 5 in the evening, kids and Mom gather in the kitchen. Mom gets the teapot and kids get the glasses, help with pouring 2.5 glasses of milk plus 1.5 glasses of water. Add in 5 tea bags and 4 tbsp of sugar, close the lid and microwave for 4.30 or more. Now you can let it sit in there and steep or take out depending on your needs. Remove the teabags, stir the sugar and pour out carefully into glasses. Make sure eager hands touching their glasses "for the same amount of tea as parents" don't get spilled over. Call Dad and gather round the table to sit and sip the tea. All of us are enjoying this very much. Who would have thought? Bring on the holidays anytime I say.

My Girl's Grape Juice Recipe
She is always busy if she gets the board and the marker. This time when she was done this is what we saw.  A recipe for grape juice. Thought I'll post it here. 

Above picture is an illustration of the method. Recipe follows:

I did ask her what to do once you have all the listed ingredients to get the grape juice. She gave me a look that said, why ask about something so basic!! I'd say remove skin from the grapes and put all in the blender is what she meant:-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas & A Happy 2011!

Stars sent lovingly from India have been hung up with lights and all. See one of those above. Just ignore the dark wires:-) Nativity is setup, appam batter is ready, stew pieces are cut and duck roast is done. Fruit cake has been distributed and gifts are under the tree. Now all that is left is for Santa to visit and for us to attend Mass. Did I say that I love holidays especially guilt free ones with no pressure from work? Hope the holidays are going well for everyone and that Christmas is indeed Merry. Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year too . A picture of our roasted duck is below.

Oven Roasted Potatoes
I oven roasted  the potatoes in the oven instead of frying in oil this time. A much better and easier way to do it. Here is how:

Preheat oven to 475F
Just peel and cube 1 or 2 potatoes. You could also cut them into circles as before.
Sprinkle some oil, mix and sprinkle some salt.
Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-28 minutes.
If doing circles reduce the time to 12-15 minutes and check.
Let cool for potatoes to come off the sheet and add to the roasted duck curry. Done!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crab Stir-Fry/Njandu Ularth and Crab Curry

Crab in any form is yummy especially so for my husband. We bought a nice bunch of cooked crabs from Costco and it was up to me to make something out of it this time. I was a little weary due to the disastrous crab preparation I perpetrated upon the household the other day from two rather expensive cans of crab meat. But that is when Mrs. KMM can truly come to your rescue. She had a Njandu Ularth recipe in her Nadan Pachakarama and I followed mostly except for the quantities and one other change. I did not shell the crabs. Used them as they are which is preferred by the Main Crab Eater in the realm. My girl and I are used to this too. My boy stays clear of the whole thing at this time of his life. Maybe soon.. Here is the recipe

In The Mix
crabs -3 lbs (cleaned, cooked and separated into pieces)
mustard seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 2 or 3 sprigs
big red onion - 2sliced
torn dry red chili - 2 tbsp(ran out of this so i added the powder form below)
dry red chili powder - 1 1/2 tbsp
garlic - 10-12 cloves crushed and then gently sliced if required
pepper powder - 2 to 2 1/2 tsp up to your spice tolerance (too lazy to crush whole pepper mentioned in recipe)
kudampuli - 2-3 pieces in 1 cup of water (cleaned and heated in a microwave with the water - my Mom)

How To Do
I am glad that cooked crabs are easy to find. Not sure if I'd be this willing to venture into crabland if I also need to deal with live crustaceans! To deal with the cooking, let us go with Mrs KMM. She says to put crabs, turmeric powder and salt into boiling water and cook for about 1 hour.  Cook until the shells turn orange. Put cooked crab into cold water to keep the flesh firm. Then she suggests to shell the crabs which I didn't do.

Moving onto what to do once you have cooked, separated and unshelled crabs ready to roll -
Heat oil in a pan and break mustard. Add curry leaves and onions. Add salt to mix well with onions. Saute for a while until onions turn translucent and then add red chilies including powder. Keep on sauteing and add garlic and then pepper powder. Saute some more till they have a pleasing look all together.

Now add the kudampuli with its water and then add crab pieces. Mix well together, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes so the crab meat imbibes some of the flavors. Open and dry out well in the heat before taking out to enjoy with hot cooked rice. Yum! The shells are easy to break but make sure to keep an empty platter for all those shells to collect in. This can pile up before you have time to think!

Crab Curry
I had some leftover crab after taking what was needed for the Ularth. So went ahead and cooked it with the egg curry recipe and below is the result. With this ularth and curry any memories of the previous crabby incident has been erased forever:-) Just replace the eggs with about as much of cooked crab in shells (about 1/2 lbs?). Add a bit of vinegar to taste in the end and voila!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


 Nope, no new food posts yet. Just saying a hello to say we are eating but just not anything new:-) I have some in mind but picture taking opportunities are hard to come by since the dark winter evenings are here. Hope Thanksgiving went well for those who celebrated. We made some yummy duck roast in honor of TG a week ahead and happily skipped the Turkey this year. Went to Grand Canyon via Las Vegas instead. Watched Cirque De Soleil's Ka while at Las Vegas. Not bad. Kids totally loved all of it. Moving vertical and horizontal stages were awesome! Grand Canyon was too cold by sunset watching time. We barely managed it. Yet, judging by the crowd I am not sure I want to do the trip when the weather is more pleasant. Too much crowd is not fun in the buses as well as with kids. GC indeed is a sight to see. I kept wondering about the people who had never heard or seen pictures of it blundering on to this brilliant brilliant beauty of a canyon carved by the Colorado River jumping at them. Awe inspiring. Next time maybe we will trek down a bit. We went to the south rim. Didn't drive to the west rim where the Skywalk Glassbridge is.  The 12 hours driving was rather fun with us all together. Holidays are special to all I guess.  Can't wait for the X-mas hols now. Nativity is set and the tree is up. X-mas here we are!! Well, almost. Must be the overworked employee in me getting excited:-) Projects have cooled down to a manageable level so shouldn't complain.

Come to think of it, I do have some food related stuff to relate. Did I tell you about the new Waffle Iron we got sometime back? I can't find the exact model but this one comes closest.

Better than reheating those frozen store bought waffles. Possibilities are endless with the toppings: honey, fruits, butter, jelly, sunny side up, bacon. All goes well with a crisp yummy waffle. I get this waffle mix and simply follow the recipe on the can.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mrs. KMM's Fish Pappas

I have a small set of fish recipes that I am happy with. But that doesn't mean one should cold shoulder new recipes. So it is that I took up my trusty old copy of Mrs KM Mathew's 'Nadan Pachakarama'. Leafing through a few recipes that I have and not tried, the word 'pappas' caught my eye. This was not a common preparation at my home but I knew it goes well with Thirutha/Kanampu (Mullet) or Karimeen (Pearl Spot). We love Bass in any form. Be it striped or black. My son's day is made when we fry a Bass. It didn't take long for me to connect the tasty Sea Bass to this awesome recipe.  We buy it fresh from the local Chinese store. The first time I made it, taste was good but gravy looked watery and something felt absent. So when family (includes HAunt who is our top advisor on food matters here) came for a short visit I decided to give this one more concentrated effort and it was worth it. I tripled the recipe and made small updates to the original steps. Recipe follows:

In The Mix
fish - 2 striped bass : cleaned and cut into pieces (~1.5 kg)

coriander powder - 6 tsp
kashmiri powder - 1 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
fresh ground pepper - 1/2 tsp or more as needed

olive oil - 1 tbsp or more
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
methi (uluva) - a few

medium sized onion - 2 sliced
ginger - 1.5" piece peeled and sliced lengthwise

garlic cloves - ~25 thin cloves (slice/crush large cloves)
green Serrano chili - 4 to 5 halved lengthwise
curry leaves - a sprig and a half

water - 4.5 cup or more as needed

kudam puli (Garcinia cambogea )  - 8-9 petals washed thoroughly in warm water to remove any smokiness
canned coconut milk  - 1/3cup or less 

How To Do

Heat 1 tsp oil in a flat bottomed pan and gently fry the fish pieces on both sides. I didn't score the pieces. About 1 min to each side is more than enough. Use two spatulas if necessary so as to not break the fish. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine the 4 curry powders including pepper in a bowl with some water and keep aside.

Heat remaining oil in a pan and break mustard seeds. Then saute onion, ginger, garlic, green chili and curry leaves by adding to the pan in that order. Onions should start to brown and chili should still have some color left. Add the masala powder mix and saute in low to medium heat. This will take a few minutes. Once the aroma start to rise, add water and mix well together. Add salt at this stage so it can be mixed well with the gravy. Now add the fish and kudam puli pieces. Gently mix taking care not to break up the fish. Boil once on hi and lower heat. After this, it is better to just lift up the pan and rotate once or twice to mix things up when needed. Check and add salt if needed to balance the puli/sourness. Let the gravy come to the desired consistancy at this rate on medium to low heat. Pieces should look well coated with gravy.

Add coconut milk and mix by rotating the pan. Use a fork gently to bring the milk everywhere and rotate again. Boils once and remove from heat. Remove some puli pieces if you are not big on that part of the flavor. I remove about 2/3rd of the pieces at the end and only keep 1 or 2 in the setting curry. Enjoy with hot rice, vegetable thoran and buttermilk curry/moru kachiyathu. Hmm... Yum....Bliss here I come!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pan Seared Chicken Legs

I know I know. It's been a while and I have nothing but the same old excuse to put forward. But hey, to make things a little fun let me talk about something new. At least it created a lot of excitement in our little household. I am talking about the 'Next Food Network Star' from Food Networks. I had watched Season 1 long time back and then this season 6 is the next one I got to watch. Good timing since the final Star ended up being a cook with Indian background.  Liked all the finalists but was extra glad to see Aarti win. Missed her first episode this last Sunday but won't be missing anymore since it is being recorded. I am looking forward to her American recipes with Indian flavor in the hopes of getting the kiddos back on track with homemade food. Little tummies are being monopolized by burgers, pizza, cold sandwiches and the likes lately. Keeping to this spirit I tried out a chicken recipe that was on the Food Network site by Cheryl Smith with a mild Indian update and it worked wonders and earned 4 fans right away!

I hope it is OK with Food n/w and Cheryl Smith for me to write it up here.

In The Mix

chicken drumsticks with skin on - 6 (recipe calls for chicken breasts. tried both & prefer drumsticks)
olive oil - 3 tbsp (to be used in halves)
kosher salt - to taste
freshly ground black pepper - enough to cover the pieces well
herbs - enough to sprinkle on (had no fresh herbs. dried rosemary and thyme worked well and dried basil and parsley equally good)
garam masala - 1/2 tbsp (from 1:1:1 mix of cardamom:cloves:cinnammon powders)
garlic cloves - 8-10 peeled and crushed

How To Do

Preheat oven to 400F.

Wash and drain the drumsticks well. If using chicken breasts, I found cutting into large pieces resulted in yummier fare. Cover the pieces with half of the oil. Make deep scores in the meat if needed. Now season each piece with a good amount of pepper and salt. This is very crucial. Don't be shy with the salt and pepper. Add in the garam masala too at this time.

Heat oil in a pan and add the pieces one by one with skin side down. Sprinkle on the herbs and add garlic to the oil.

Cook over medium high heat. When the skin gets golden brown, turn over and repeat for a minute or 2. Now spread the pieces on a baking pan and bake for about 15 minutes or as needed. Remove from oven, drain on paper towels and get ready to eat the tenderest juiciest chicken ever. Perfect with yogurt and rice/vermicelly pulau. What makes it even easier is to do the frying part in an oven ready pan. Then we can just push the whole thing into the oven right after the frying step and baking time gets down to 8-10 minutes. Just great!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Waldorf Salad

I first laid my tongue on a forkful of Waldorf Salad at the Cafeteria of my previous workplace. I know, not the best place to taste any cuisine the first time. But the Chef at that time was really good and there were many items that I liked for lunch. On days the Waldorf was offered  if there was hot Panini to go with it they had a totally satisfied customer in me.

I guess it is common knowledge that Waldorf salad was developed by the maĆ®tre d’ of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. I am glad it spread out of there. This saving grace for me among salads, has a special place in my tummy. The recipe has many variations and is easily available with an internet search. I'll just post what I did.

In The Mix
celery - 1 cup diced
granny smith apple - 1cored and diced
any red skinned apple - 1 cored and diced
mayonnaise - 3 tbsp or more
yogurt - 2 tbsp or more to sub for mayo (optional)
fresh squeezed lemon juice - 1 1/2 tbsp
salt - to taste
lettuce leaves - for decoration
seedless grapes - a bunch
raisins - a bunch to sub for fresh grapes (optional)

How To Do

Combine the diced apples with celery and toss with lemon juice. Mix grapes and raisins to this. Take the mayo in a separate bowl and merge all together. Add salt as needed. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Voila!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stuffed/Baked Fish

The baked fish is finally here and got some pics while it lasted. So enjoy! I used to make a decent fillet based baked fish some time back but for some reason or other it hasn't happened in a while. That is when we happened to sit through some food n/w shows involving baked fish in many ways. My husband decided it was time to take matters into his own hands and try out something. It was delicious from first go and we haven't stopped. Here is the recipe.

In The Mix

2 whole fish cleaned (we use striped sea bass. trout might be good too)

for the marinade
fish masala - enough to marinate the fish. (Shan seems to be a good brand for this)
vinegar - 4 tbsp or more as needed
salt - enough to taste
foil - to wrap the marinating fish

for the stuffing
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
kashmiri chili powder - 2 tsp
onion - 2 medium sized sliced
fish masala - 2 tsp
ginger - 1/4" piece
garlic - 4-5 crushed cloves
tomato - 1 diced
fresh squeezed lemon drops - optional, as needed
curry leaves - 2 sprigs
olive oil - 1 tbsp
salt to taste
olive oil - enough to lightly fry the whole fish

How To Do

Splice though the middle of the fish on one side of the bone making sure the tail end is closed. We just need an opening to put the stuffing in, not to be open wide. Score in horizontal lines on both sides as if for cutting large pieces. Marinate overnight in the fridge with the for the marinade ingredients. Wrap the fish in aluminum foil while doing this to haul in the flavors.

Preheat oven to 350F

Heat oil in a pan and start frying the marinated fish. 1 or 2 minutes on each side just to get the skin to hold in the juices while baking is enough. Set aside to drain.

Heat oil in another pan and add the onions. Saute for a short time and add in the turmeric, chili powders and fish masala. Combine all, add curry leaves and saute till onion browns lightly. Add salt at this time. Now add the ginger, garlic and tomato and saute till all are incorporated together for a good stuffing. We were out of tomatoes this time and so the fish in the pic is sans the tomato. It does make a difference in taste. Sprinkle in some fresh squeezed lemon drops to balance the taste as needed in this case.

Now cover and fill the fish with the prepared stuffing, Wrap in aluminum foil and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes first. Bake another 10 minutes while checking in between for doneness. No need to turn over. Once done, take out, wait for it to cool if you can and go for it with hot rice and yogurt, on top of a piece of artisan bread or as is. The aroma of fish baking in the oven is too tempting to resist!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Spaghetti and Sausage

The baked fish is taking its time, so I thought I'd write up this favorite pasta recipe from my husband. As always it took a while to perfect and is now set for posterity. I don't care much for pasta but I am totally there for him when he makes this one. Simple and delicious, here it is:

In The Mix

thin spaghetti : 16 oz. (one pack)
water : enough to cook the spaghetti
salt to taste

to bake
sliced mushroom : 4 oz (1/2 cup)
red bell pepper : 1/2 julienned
green bell pepper : 1/2 julienned
zuchini : 2 sliced into thin circles with skin on
asparagus : 2 or 3 sticks.  (cut into 2 to add the heads and slice the bottom half to add as optional)
red onion : 1/4 to 1/2 sliced
tomato : 1 diced into thin pieces (optional)
crushed garlic : 4-5 cloves
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil : 2 tbsp

to saute
hot sausage : 5 or 6 (we use hot italian sausage)
water : enough to cook the sausage
tomato : 1 diced to saute
spaghetti sauce : 3/4 of 32 oz. jar (we use Classico all natural triple mushroom sauce from Costco)
olive oil : 1/2 tbsp

How To Do

Preheat oven to 400F.

Boil water with salt, and add the spaghetti. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes in boiling water. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

Boil water and cook the sausage. Drain and slice into thin circles once cooled. 

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and grease with half of the olive oil. Take all the properly cut 'to bake' ingredients and spread on the sheet. Now sprinkle/mix the salt, pepper and remaining olive oil on the veggie goodness. Bake for about 15 minutes. Take out, mix together and bunch up to combine the flavors well. Bake for 10-15 minutes more taking care not to burn any of the ingredients. Take out and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and saute the tomato. Add the sausage and saute for 2-3 minutes. Now add the spaghetti sauce and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add the roasted mixture. Don't over mix. Check for salt and add if needed. Pour over spaghetti in a plate and devour!

My husband has quite the green thumb when it comes to flowers. He takes after my brother! Really it is from his Dad:-) Enjoy this black beauty from our garden covered in rain drops.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Still Here..

I haven't gone anywhere folks. Still pottering around! Hope Easter Holidays went well for those who observe it. Kitchen fires have been burning and yummy food devoured but mostly the good old trusted recipes. Visitors, work and Kid activities do not leave much time for blogging. The husband for his part has concocted a fantastic stuffed/baked fish inspired by a Food Network Show I think. It came out way better than my own baked fish for sure. I'll be posting this here as soon as we can get a decent pic. Till then here are a bunch of spring flowers from the backyard and some cupcakes I made for a fundraiser in my son's class.

Updated with Cupcake/Frosting Recipes on April 18, 2010
It looks like these are probably some recipes that my kids will want to look up later. I have made so many batches of cupcakes and frosting that I have lost count. I experimented with a bunch of recipes I found online and finally settled on the ones that appealed to all of us. So here they are with links as well as the actual recipes for easy reference:

You will need the following for cupcakes and frosting:
cupcake baking pan (available in target, grocery stores etc.)
cupcake liners (available in Michaels, grocery stores)
reusable piping bags with different tips for frosting (Found a nice set in a grocery store for $3.99)
sprinkles (Michaels, grocery stores)
always bring the butter called for in recipes to room temp before creaming.
if refrigerating the frosting, give a quick whip to bring it back to life for use.

Vanilla Cupcakes from : The layout of this site is easy to follow and you feel like you can try things from it right away and will come out right. Well, it is true. The vanilla cupcakes came out just perfect every single time I made them!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 egg whites from large eggs
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

The first time I made ~ 12-15 cupcakes by halving all the measurements above. The full quantity makes about 25-26 cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line the pan with cupcake liners.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt with a whisk. Add shortening, milk and vanilla and combine together very well. Remember to scrape bowl always. I used the whisk for this step. Now beat in egg whites and the full eggs in two steps. Beat until fluffy and smooth. About 3 minutes did it for me.

Fill liners to a little less than 2/3 with the batter. Bake for about 19-20 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I find that it is better for me to take out the cupcakes with liners from out of the pan within 2 minutes of coming out of the oven to prevent the cakes from sticking too close to the liners. Now let cool completely.
The cakes are ready for frosting!

Chocolate Cupcakes from : I DID NOT make this cupcake but plan to soon and I have complete faith in the site that this will come out just fine too. So this is for future reference since this is what the kids would really love.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup water
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla
4 oz melted unsweetened baking chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with liners.
Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
Mix at low speed for 30 secs and at high for 3 minutes after scraping bowl.
Fill liners to a little less than 2/3 with the batter. Bake for about 19-20 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Coffee Cupcake adapted from  Martha Stewart's site : I didn't use the whiskey etc and the espresso powder was replaced with nescafe classic instant coffee powder I had at home. I am sure it will be even more tasty with espresso powder but this one came out wonderful and the kids too loved it! I also halved the recipe to get about 12-13 cupcakes.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tbsp instant coffee/espresso powder
1/8 cup milk
1/2 stick (4tbsp) unsalted butter (room temp)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the boiling water over coffee powder and stir well. Cool and combine with milk.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
Beat butter and the two sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy. About 3 minutes.
Add the egg and beat well. For recipe using more than 1 egg, always beat in 1 at a time.
Beat in the flour mix in 3 steps alternating with the coffee mix, beginning and ending with flour.

Fill liners to a little less than 2/3 with the batter. Bake for about 19-20 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.

That ends the cupcake recipes from the web that worked out to our taste. Now for the frosting. The chocolate frosting is what took the most tries but the journey to get there was rather sweet:-) 

Buttercream Icing from : Easy to make and since Wilton is a major source for decorating supplies, it is only understandable that they have a very useful site. For decorating tips, start here and go from there..

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter (room temp) - the recipe for 1/2 cup butter & 1/2 cup shortening. I replaced
                                                             the shortening with butter for convenience.
1 tsp clear vanilla extract ( I used regular color. clea is used for pure white color I think)
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

Cream the butter (and shortening if following the org recipe) with an electric mixer.
Add vanilla and slowly add sugar, 1 cup at a time beating well at medium speed for about less than 3 min.
Add milk and beat at medium speed until fluffy.

Frosting is ready. Will keep in a closed container in the refrigerator upto 2 weeks.

Best Frosting Ever Had by missydew, a contributor to  PW's Tastykitchen. This one is a little intriguing as it uses flour. I had my doubts too but for reasons I cannot fathom, found it a very satisfying frosting. It went very well with the coffee cupcakes. It feels light and fluffy on tasting and is a bonafide dessert.

1 cup milk
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar

In a pan, whisk the flour completely into the milk and cook at medium heat. Keep whisking so no lumps will form. Continue till the mixture really thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. Now add the vanilla and combine together.

Meanwhile cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes will do the trick.
Beat in the flour mixture to a whipped cream consistancy. This is best spread with a table knife or thin spatula.

Chocolate Frosting from This frosting has the right sweetness and the right chocolaty taste and we loved it.

1/3 cup butter (room temp)

4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa powder (I used a heaped 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
extra milk as needed

Beat butter until fluffy. Slowly add 2 cups of the powdered sugar.
Beat in 1/4 cup milk and vanilla. Add in the Cocoa and the remaining powdered sugar.
Since the powders can fly when beating, I folded them together with a spatula first and then
did the beating.

More milk by the tsp can be added for the desired consistency. Time to decorate!

Goes well with vanilla cupcakes.

That brings us to the end of the dessert saga. I know I will come back to this compiled post many a time if the young customers at home really mean what they eat!

Added 5/19/2012:

Found an even better chocolate frosting at joyofbaking and have to add it here for later.
unsweetened chocolate - 3 oz chopped coarsely
unsalted butter - 1/2 cup softened
confectioners powder - 1 cup
vanilla extract - 1 tsp

 Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel  bowl over boiling water and cool to room temp.
Cream butter with a mixer for about one minute and add sugar slowly and beat until light and fluffy. About 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract  and add chocolate on low speed to mix well. Then beat on medium speed to the right consistency (2-3 min)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Madakku San / Coconut Filled Crepe

This scrumptious snack dislodged itself from the memory shelf when I came across Malabar Spice's loveletters. We called it 'madakku san' and my husband knew them as 'mutta kuzhalappam'. At malluspice's I came to know they were called loveletters!

For a long time I didn't get a chance to try making them as life kept intervening with its usual pace for things essential. An opportunity finally presented itself when I thawed a bit more fresh frozen grated coconut than necessary for the batch of idiappams . While scratching the head for a recycling idea, it dawned on me that the already sweetened coconut could be used for one thing and only one thing. Those lovingly made folded crepes of my Mom's! The 'kuzhal' in the name familiar to my husband dictated that I should role them up as at mspice's. Did it both ways and as expected they ended up delicious regardless of how the fold was. BTW, Mrs. KMM called these 'madakkappam'.

In The Mix

all purpose flour - 1 cup
salt - a pinch or two
whole milk - 1 1/4 cup
water - 1/4 cup
egg - 1
vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
grated coconut - 1 cup (or whatever is leftover after making idiappams:-)
sugar - start with 2 tbsp. (unfortunately I didn't keep track of this but add enough to feel the
crunch of sugar among the coconut flakes when you surreptitiously
spoon some into your mouth.)
lemon juice - 1 tsp (little less)
oil - as needed

How To Do

Mix the milk, water and salt with all purpose flour and whisk well. It is a good idea to use a colander to filter out any remaining lumps. Then add beaten egg and vanilla essence. Mom told us that her latest venture, a vanilla plot next to our old garden is flourishing and that she even found a buyer for the venerable beans! I was incredulous when she first told me of this. Whoever heard of vanilla beans in their backyard? Don't they just appear in those expensive little bottles on the store shelves? Apparently not. Ask the people of Madagascar or Mexico. Granted most of the time they come from synthetic sources but whole natural bean extracts are equally popular albeit expensive.

Coming back to the recipe, mix the coconut, sugar and lemon juice together. Lemon juice is Mrs. KMM's idea as I don't remember Mom doing this. I would add a little less than 1 tsp for next time.

Heat a flat frying pan and brush with oil. Keep at medium heat just at first and then switch to low heat all the time since the crepe batter is rather flimsy and low heat will keep the spread under your control. Well sort of .... I had a tough time to get them into shape but since you can fold or roll them, the aesthetics are easily taken care of. Guess you can experiment a little with the batter consistency (only add warm milk) to get the perfect shape at one go. Pour the batter and stay where you are to transfer it to a paper lined platter as soon as the underside shows a familiar browning. Now comes the fun part.

Place a spoonful or as much as you want of the coconut mix right at the center like for a masala dosa and fold from both sides to get 'madakku san' as shown on the left side here.

Of course it is not fun to brush up just your own memories. Place the sweetened coconut on one end and roll away to get 'mutta kuzhalappam' as the husband remembers them. These 'loveletters' appear on the right side in the pciture. So here we are, enjoying a great snack because of idiappams! Who would've thought?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Royal Eggplants from Paytpooja

 While I was sitting there reading and drooling over Paytpooja's Stuffed Eggplants & Potatoes I didn't think I could ever make this complicated dish. That too a vegetable! But all that is water under the bridge. Now I just love those veggies. Slowing metabolism spawns wisdom:-) I happen to have a soft corner for eggplants which was not a regular item at our home. The thing with eggplant is you either like it or you hate it. There seems to be no middle ground.

Hope Geets will not mind me renaming them the Royal Eggplants because that is what they are. Like it says in her post, a dish fit for Kings! My eggplant hater of a husband couldn't remember hating them ever after the first delicious morsel was in...

I took few more shortcuts and the outcome was still fantastic. Reduced the masala ingredients to fasten the process as it was my first time. Got enough to make it twice! Hope I got the right proportions. I also combined masala 2 into the main ingredients list so the storable masala is separate. I am reproducing Geeta's recipe here with the small adaptations I did for convenience:

In The Mix

japanese eggplants - 6 (washed & dried)
red potatoes - 6 ( i love these. peeled regular potatoes are equally good too as tried that too)
red onion - 1 meduim sized
fresh grated coconut - 2 tbsp
chili powder -  1/2 tbsp or less ( change according to your heat tolerance)
garlic cloves - 6 or 7 peeled and crushed
salt to taste
olive oil - enough to fry

for masala  - recipe needs >1 tbsp

mustard seed - 1 tbsp
whole cumin - 1 tbsp
split urad dal - 3 tsp
channa dal - 3 tsp
toor dal - 2 tsp
whole methi - 1/4 tsp or less
whole black pepper - 2 tsp
whole coriander seeds  - 1/2 tsp (didn't use it since i didn't ave it at home)

How To Do

to make masala
Recipe calls to fry each separately.  Being a little lazy and having clamoring kids around, I took a flat frying pan and fried the dals and cumin in separate clusters at the same time. Small quantities made this possible. Microwaved mustard, cumin and methi which is a great tip.First 10 seconds and then maybe 5 more taking care not to burn at any stage. Let everything cool.. Again small quantities helped me to grind it all together in our pepper mill.. Only a little more than 1 tbsp is needed for the recipe. Store the rest in an airtight bag/container. I had enough to make it twice. Once you have the masala, the second time is a breeze. Next time I will make more following the recipe measurements.
Preheat oven to 450F. This is the broil setting in my oven. Place the onion on a foil on the top shelf for 30 to 40 minutes. While onion is in the oven you can make the above masala if it is not already done. Roast the grated coconut till golden brown. Take the onion out at the end of designated time and peel off the black layers. Place the onion in a grinder along with the coconut. and grind to a smooth paste. Add about 1 tbsp of the prepared dry masala, chili powder and salt. Blend well.

Slit the eggplant with a sharp knife from the nose to the stalk  taking care to keep shy off about 1" from the stalk so the slit pieces can be held together there. Now generously spread the masala onto each layer of the eggplants making sure to keep all layers together in shape. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F ( Open the door to bring down the temp from previous broiling step if necessary)

Time to tend to the potatoes.  Cut in halves if using red potatoes. Peel and cut into 2-3 pieces if using regular potatoes. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes on both sides till golden brown. Fry red potatoes cut side first. A few minutes on each side  will do the trick. Take out, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt on both sides when hot . Potatoes will complete cooking in the oven so no need to over fry. Covering up the potatoes with any remaining masala makes it tastier as the recipe suggests. I leave some masala free for my girl who loves potatoes.

Remove some of the \oil if necessary and place the eggplants into the pan one or two at a time depending on the space.  Spread out the slit layers and fry onl all sides. Drain on paper towels.

Add the crushed garlic cloves to the oil for a few minutes and take out when soft.

Place the eggplants and potatoes in one or two baking dishes or cookie sheets lined with foil. Sprinkle with garlic cloves and bake for about 30 minutes. Wait! Hold your breath please. Out comes the most spenldid veggie dish I have seen in my entire life!!! Thanks paytpooja for this awesome recipe!

Potatoes will not keep for long but the eggplants can be frozen according to paytpooja. I have yet to do this because the egplants and potatoes vanish in no time. Perfect with hot rice or the breads.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

No more baking posts. I promise! This is the laaaaaast.... I had always turned away from cookies in general, especially sugar cookies when presented on the usual platter of snacks. I don't have a sweet tooth. Honestly.  Then why oh why did I go and make these? One word. Kids! Yup, they were day dreaming as well as night dreaming about frosted cookies ever since Christmas came around. Since I haven't done cut-out cookies at all, I wasn't sure what or where to start. With work and some holiday activities going on I simply couldn't get to these until later.

Decided on this recipe from how2heroes mainly because of the video demo for both sugar cookies and royal icing.  Denise's instructions are clear and filled with useful tips. Both kids diligently watched with me and on their own and were a big part in the process. If you remember those superbly made Christmas Cakes from Casino in Cochin with the yummiest icing (yes, even for my non-sweet tooth!)  then you will know why I wanted hard (royal) icing. This one came out fine but nowhere close to that icing/cake combo. Maybe it was the combo of fruitcake/icing that made the taste so great. Wait a minute! I think I will check this out next time I make fruit cake.

I am repeating the recipe here for easy reference. I hope the video will stay forever as that helped the most.

For Sugar Cookies

In The Mix

unsalted butter - 24 tbsp (3 sticks brought to room temp)
ranulated sugar 1 1/3 cup
kosher salt - 2 tsp
egg  yolks - from 3 eggs
pure vanilla extract - 2 tbsp
all purpose flour - 3 3/4 cups (I sift this)
parchment paper or silpat - to line cookie sheets

How To Do

Beat the butter and sugar until the color changes to a lighter shade and fluffy. I used a hand mixer but an electric stand mixer is bothering me in my dreams ever since I saw how much easier it is to use it. But the sheer idleness it will face once the cookie making is over prevents me from getting my hands on one. We'll see how long I can hold off:-)  Add kosher salt and vanilla extract. Beat in the egg yolks one by one. Beat till well combined. Add in the flour in small quantities and beat till fully incorporated. Denise cautions that beating too much will move the cookie texture to that of short bread.

I loved the idea of using plastic wrap to spread the dough. So I made it in two batches as the recipe suggests. Just place the dough b/n two sheets of the wrap and roll away into a consistent thickness. This dough is totally flexible and my inexperienced hands found it to be an easy task. Repeat with the second part. Now keep the sheets in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour. This is to make the cookie cutting easier. The dough will obey the cutter and handling in general better when not too soft. I made the cookies the next day. Need to take it out a good 15 minutes before you start to cut so the dough will yield properly.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Remove the top plastic sheet, use cutters and other tools and have fun making all kinds of shapes like we did!

Line cookies sheets with parchment paper and place cut out cookies with a spatula about 1/2 inches apart. Cook for 12-15 minutes. I swapped the racks as well as turned the sheets around 8 minutes into the baking for even baking as suggested. Take out and cool on a rack before icing.

For Royal Icing
Denise gives a video demo for the icing too.  We didn't prefer the tartness of the icing from the lemon so for the second batch I didn't use lemon but and substituted with water instead. I also added almond extract the second time which came out good too. Used meringue powder (egg white mix) instead of fresh eggs.When she tasted it before the icing hardened, my daughter said it tasted like sweet tart. Once it hardened the tartness blended in and couldn't be detected as overpowering but kids still preferred not adding the lime. I made the icing each time but there was enough left over from the first time and so just making the icing once and using economically might last it for the two sets of cookie dough.

In The Mix
confectioner's sugar - 1 lbs
meringue powder - 1/4 cup (Michael's has it)
water - start with 7 tbsp
vanilla or almond extract - 3 tsp
food coloring
parchment paper - to make piping cones

How To Do

Beat the sugar and meringue powder at low speed first for a minute or two. Add in water and vanilla extract and beat together. Add more water 1 tbsp at a time till the right consistency is achieved. Being able to make a figure of 8 as the video shows and seeing it well before it melts back into the mix is the right indicator. Divide into as many colors you want to do. Add a few drops of the food coloring and combine. Remember to keep aside some as is for white coloring.

We had a few colors and so I made as many cones as I needs with the parchment paper. Fold the paper from one end till it meets diagonally to make a triangle. Cut off the sheet and cut the diagonal. Fold together into a cone with the diagonal side forming the tip of the cone. Taping the cone and standing it in a glass for easy pouring are all wonderful/quite useful tips. Thanks Denise!

Cut off the end if needed and start the artwork. This is the bestest part of the entire thing!!! Total unadulterated fun since elementary school days:-)) Cookies were cut in many imaginable shapes and were colored as it pleased us.

Will I repeat this exercise? But of course! Remember the adage, "It is the  participation that counts"? No, I am not talking about when India comes up with zeroes or close in the Olympic Gold tallies but about  real applicable situations:-) Well, this was one such situation. Once the cookies were done and the colorful icing was prepared and coned even the reluctant Dad jumped into the fray.

I told you we went to town with the icing and shapes. Didn't I?

Frosted cookies were left overnight for the icing to harden and while I won't advice the sweet fest for the health conscious or the slow metabolism crowd, the young citizens were happily devouring one crazy design after another. Enough said!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Melting Moments from spicyana/joyofbaking

Exactly to the day today, it's been two years since I started my food and book blogs. These are important spaces for me and I am glad that they still give me something fun and meaningful  to do when I have the urge.

Reflections has given me the sweet blog award. The little ice cream cake with a mint on top is mine.  I cannot think of a better way to celebrate this anniversary. Thanks Nancy! She is not just sweet but also very witty and intuitive and deserved it best.

I had wanted to try making coffee cookies. Had a recipe and ingredients all set to go. Unfortunately they didn't come out well most likely because of the coffee powder (not instant)  I used. Next time I'll try dissolving  instant coffee granules in hot water before adding.

Since that experiment went south I started on this with some trepidation. spicyana is an awesome baker and always has easy to follow instructions. The recipe from joyofbaking looked good and here I am with yet another attempt at making cookies. Luckily for me this time it turned out well and these melt in the mouth cookies are keepers. It didn't go well with the kids though and as good parents we did our duty by finishing it for them!

In The Mix
all purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
corn starch (corn flour in UK) - 1/2 cup
salt - 1/4 tsp
powdered sugar - 1/4 cup
unsalted butter - 1 cup (bring to room temp )
pure vanilla extract - 1 tsp

powdered sugar for sifting/placing - 1 cup
you will need parchment paper to bake the cookies in.

How To Do

Whisk together corn starch, flour and salt and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (2 minutes) Add vanilla extract and beat together. Add the flour mix in small amounts while beating. Beat till all blends well. Do not over beat. The corn starch is apparently what makes these guys melt in the mouth by making the dough lighter. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper. Take dough out from the fridge and form 1 inch balls. Place these 1 inch apart on 2 of the cookie sheets. 12-14 minutes of baking will do just as the recipe says when cookie edges start to brown. Cool for a few minutes on a rack. Sprinkle half of the powdered sugar onto the remaining cookie sheet and place the cookies on it. Now comes the fun part! Sift the remaining sugar powder on top of the cookies and voila! You have picture perfect cookies calling out your names:-) If little ones made tiny cookies, those will come out fine too. 6-8 minutes might be enough for those.

To be honest, when I tried it right after baking, I didn't think it melted anywhere. But the story changed next day when I tried the tempting rounds again. Not only did it melt in the mouth but once you take up one, your hands keep reaching for more rather involuntarily!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Out Of The World Ribs

Hope the year so far is going well for everyone.

We had the usual cold/cough/fever cycles but it was not too bad. We weathered it with a quick trip to Disneyland, one to the theater for The Princess And The Frog and watching Iron Chef episodes galore at home. Santa's visit was a success as expected and now we are all back on the hamster wheel.

Today's recipe is not of the ribs that came from Adam for Eve, but the pork rib appetizers that my husband prepares occasionally. They can pass for dinner when accompanied by  rolls or artisan bread or any other carb of your choice. H has developed a surefire method that yields the same delicious results every time. So please follow the steps exactly even if it is not that exact or else....

Kids and adults love this alike and each time we make this for a party they vanish in seconds. So he makes it just for us once in a while.

In The Mix

pork baby back ribs - 2 lbs (mostly from Costco)
Bull's Eye BBQ Sauce Original - as needed to coverall the meat (we love this particular brand)
freshly ground black pepper - to taste (start with 1 tbsp)
salt - to taste

How To Do

Cover meat with pepper and salt and marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Now take out the meat, spread BBQ sauce, cover in an aluminum foil and marinate for 4 hours cold.
Take out and add more sauce, cover and marinate cold overnight.
Optionally put the whole thing in a sealable food grade bag to get better results. It tastes great even if you don't do this part.

Preheat oven to 350C.

Fill a medium oven safe pan with water and place all the way at the bottom of the oven.
Place marinated ribs on regular cooling racks and keep on top rack of the oven.
Place cookie sheets covered with aluminum foil under the rib racks to catch drips if any.

Bake for 30-35  minutes or till cooked.

Take out and let cool for 5 minutes. Slice gently following the rib lines and bite into tender juicy meat for hours of satisfaction! Ketchup is an easy dip for this.Finger lick cleaning is allowed during a satisfying session:-)