Jan 15 2010

Zucchini Bread

Published by under Cakes & Cookies

Last Sunday at Church, after the service a kind lady offered me a small loaf of her home made Zucchini bread as a Christmas gift. I was very touched by the gesture. We always sit in the same pews (she in front of me) every Sunday and she never forgets to wish me whenever we meet at church. The irony is, I don’t even know her name! The Zucchini bread was scrumptious. It had chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins and it was soon gone. The best Christmas gift I got this season.

Her Zucchini bread reminded me that I had always wanted to try making it, but had never got to it. So in honor of my dear friend from Church I decided to make my own Zucchini bread.

Zucchini Bread
Ingredients
1 and 1/2 cup wheat flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup shredded Zucchini
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Sieve together wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Beat the sugar, essence and oil on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add the flour slowly while mixing. Do not over beat. Fold in the Zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake in a 9 inch loaf pan for about 45 minutes.

Notes:

  • To prevent the chocolate chips and the walnuts from settling to the bottom of the bread, toss them in a tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter.

No responses yet, your thoughts are welcome!

Dec 28 2009

Christmas Sweets 2009

Published by under Cakes & Cookies,Holidays,Sweets

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It brings back memories of Christmases past and its a timeĀ  when you can reminisce about all the things that have happened throughout the year. Its been more than 10 years since I have spent Christmas with my parents. I never get a chance to visit them during the holidays.

The fondest memories I have of my childhood is the time when we would all gather around the kitchen table to help mom make all the Christmas goodies. Santa rarely visited our house back then and it didn’t matter to us. We looked forward to adorning our new clothes and staying awake till we got to the midnight mass on Christmas eve. After coming home from church, mom would have a feast prepared for us. We would all eat, drink and sing Christmas carols.

I try to keep some of the traditions alive, especially where food is concerned šŸ™‚ . I try to make at least some of the traditional sweets that my mom used to make and also include some quick cooking goodies that I have learn over the years. This year I wasn’t sure if I was going to get around to making the Christmas goodies, but somehow I found the time to make some with the help of my dear hubby.

Christmas Sweets

From left: carrot cake, kul kuls, maple pecan cookies, chocolate fudge, milk toffee, donuts, mava cake

I cannot share all the recipes with you in this post. Here are a couple of simple ones. Enjoy!

Chocolate Fudge with Nuts and Fruit
The recipe is derived from the Eagle brand Condensed milk recipe. I find that adding semi sweet chocolate makes the fudge a bit too sweet. Here is my variation..
Ingredients
1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsalted cashews
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Prepare a 8×8 or 9×9 square cake pan, by lining the bottom and sides with some parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Place all the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool and coarsely chop the nuts.

In a non stick pan, add the condensed milk and the chocolate. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly until all the chocolate is melted. Take it off the heat and add the chopped nuts, cranberries, raisins, salt and vanilla. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared cake pan. Refrigerate for about 4 hours. When the fudge is firm, remove it from the pan and cut into desired size pieces.

Use any nuts and fruits that you like in the fudge.

Maple Pecan Cookies
Ingredients (makes 3 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
36 pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg and maple syrup. Mix until combined. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour to the wet ingredients a little at a time, while beating it on low speed. When all the flour is mixed in, stir in the chopped pecans.

Drop the dough on parchment lined cookie sheets by rounded teaspoons. Press a pecan half on top of each cookie. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove on cooling racks and allow to cool.

The recipe for the carrot cake can be found here.

2 responses so far

Dec 06 2009

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Published by under Appetizers,Sides,Soups & Stews

The first snow of the season calls for some comforting soup. There is nothing better then curling up with a warm blanket, a good read and some hot soup on a cold snowy day. So when the weather guys predicted snow for Saturday I got the soup pot out and made this wonderful fall soup.

This soup is made with root vegetables, but any leftover vegetables in the fridge would do. I had some leftover parsnips, sweet potatoes and rutabaga from Thanksgiving. Root vegetables have a longer shelf life and can last for days if stored in a dry place.

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
Ingredients:
4 slices of center cut bacon (optional and can be replaced with 2 Tbsp of olive oil)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 large carrot diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium red skinned sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 a medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 Qt chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper

In a large bowl toss the parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, salt, pepper and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 1 hour.

In a large pot add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil (leave this out if you are not using bacon and use the 2Tbsp olive oil to replace the bacon) and the bacon(cut into 1/4 inch strips). Cook on medium low heat until the bacon has rendered its fat. Remove the bacon and reserve on some paper towels for garnish later. Add the onions, celery, carrots, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables are tender(about 15 minutes). Add the roasted vegetables and the chicken stock and cook covered for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup to desired consistency. Add more chicken stock if you want the soup to be thinner. You can blend the soup in a regular blender as well, but be sure not to overfill the blender jar and allow the soup to cool a little.

Garnish the soup with the bacon bits and some chives or green onions.

One response so far

Dec 03 2009

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Published by under Cakes & Cookies

I have a subscription to the Bon ApƩtite magazine and almost every issue has an ad for the Ghirardelli chocolate. The November issue had an ad with these scrumptious double chocolate cookies. The cookies looked so decadent that a chocoholic like me could not resist trying them out. So I made a batch yesterday and decided to share some with a friend and her sweet daughter.

I have tried to stay as true to the recipe as I could. Just reduced the sugar by a third and added some extra flour (recipe called for 1/3 cup) to make the batter a little more thick. The cookies came out great. They require a little more effort than the regular chocolate chip cookies, but they are worth it. Nothing beats the aroma of fresh baked cookies, especially during the holiday season. Santa will be very happy to find these waiting for him when he climbs down that chimney!

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients (Makes 2 dozen cookies)
1 bag Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (11.5 oz)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 eggs
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 bag Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips (12 oz)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and the butter in a double boiler. Combine the flour and the baking powder in a small bowl. In a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar until thick (approximately 5 mins). Stir in the melted chocolate. Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir until well combined (do not over mix). gently fold in the walnuts and the semi sweet chocolate chips.

The dough will be a little wet compared to other cookie doughs. Place the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 mins. Then divide the dough in half and roll into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long using some plastic wrap. Refrigerate the logs for another hour or until firm.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Unwrap the dough and cut each log into 3/4 inch slices. Place the slices on parchment lined baking sheets about 1 & 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes.

Notes:

  • When melting chocolate in a double boiler, make sure that the water is just simmering and not boiling. Also make sure that the water does not touch the bowl in which you are melting the chocolate.

3 responses so far

Nov 05 2009

Shrimp and Calabash in a Coconut Curry.

Published by under Indian,Seafood

I call this the ‘Blend of Cultures’. This is a very traditional East Indian curry that I have modified and cooked the Malvani way. And I must say I am very happy with the result. For those who do not know, I am an East Indian Catholic and am married to a Malvani (from the Konkan Coast of India) guy. So I am always trying ways to blend the two cultures. In the East Indian version of this dish, coconut milk and vinegar is used in place of the roasted coconut paste and the kokums.

Calabash which is also called Bottle Gourd or Lauki (in Hindi) is widely available throughout India. This is my mom’s favorite vegetable and she would be happy to eat it everyday if she can. Myself and my sister-in-law share this liking with her as well. I think its a girls and guys thing in our family as the guys don’t seem to enjoy it as much :), but who cares, they get to eat whatever we cook!

Hope you enjoy the blend of my cultures as much as we did! Comments are welcome as always.

Shrimp and Calabash in Coconut Curry

Ingredients:
1/2 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 small Calabash (bottle gourd or dudhi or lauki) peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup grated coconut
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp coriander seed
2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
6 curry leaves
3 Kokums
2 Tbsp meat masala
1 and 1/2 cups of water
coriander to garnish
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp cooking oil
salt

In a skillet, heat 2 tsp of cooking oil. Add the crushed garlic and 1/2 cup of the onions. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut and coriander seed and cook it till the mixture is evenly browned. Take it off the heat and allow it cool. Grind the coconut mixture with 1 cup of water and salt till it forms a paste.

In a 3 quart cooking pot heat the oil on medium heat. Add the curry leaves (stand back to avoid getting splattered). Add the onions and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the calabash,and the salt and let cook for about 10 minutes. Add the meat masala and stir well. Add the crushed tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water. cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Add the coconut and onion paste and the kokums. Stir and cooked covered for another 5 minutes.

In the end add the shrimp and cook covered for 5-7 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Notes:

  • Calabash or bottle gourd is availbale in Asian and Indian grocery stores. If you cannot find it substitute with Zucchini.
  • You may also substitue the kokums with 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar.
  • The Cucumber and Onion Salad goes great with this curry.

4 responses so far

Sep 15 2009

Potato Bacon Frittata

Published by under Breakfast

A simple and easy egg dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner. For those who haven’t heard of Frittata, it is an omelet that is baked. Its a quiche without the crust.

The Frittata can be made using other fillings as well. The Italians even add pasta. I have made a sausage, peppers and onion Frittata in the past and it turned out great as well. I love the flavor that the bacon imparts to the potatoes. How can you go wrong with those two ingredients?

Potato Bacon Frittata

Ingredients: Serves 4
2 large Idaho potatoes
6 slices of center cut bacon
4 scallions, chopped
3 eggs
3/4 cup egg product (egg beaters)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Cook the Potatoes. Peel and chop them into a 1/2 inch dice. Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and add it to a saute pan (use one with a metal handle, which can be used in an oven). Cook on medium low heat until the bacon renders. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, garlic powder and the chili flakes. Toss well with the bacon. Raise the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes until the potatoes start to brown. Add the scallions and cook for another 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the eggs, egg product, milk, salt and pepper. Beat until all ingredients are well mixed. Add the mixture to the potatoes and lower the heat to low. Using a silicone spatula gently mix the eggs and the potatoes. Cook on low heat for 4 minutes and then transfer the pan to a 350 degrees F, preheated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Notes:

  • You can use 3 egg whites instead of the egg product.
  • You can leave out the bacon and use 1 Tbsp of olive oil instead.
  • Serve with a side salad for lunch or dinner.

7 responses so far

Sep 10 2009

Meat Masala

Published by under Condiments & Spice blends

In some of my Indian recipes I have posted on this website, I have used an ingredient called “Meat Masala”. This is nothing more than a blend of spices that goes into preparing any meat dish. The term “Masala” in Hindi means blend of spices. Indians use various blends of spices(Ā masalas) that are used for different dishes, like fish masala for a fish curry, sambhar masala which is used for a south Indian lentil and vegetables curry and many more.

Meat Masala

In India, each family has their own recipe for the masala. This is safely guarded secret recipe that is handed down from generation to generation and tweaked as per the liking of the person making it. The ingredients in the masala vary. Some masalas have few and manageable ingredients and some have as many as 50. This masala is usually made at home in large quantities to suffice the family for at least 1 year.

Once a year the women of the family would shop for the ingredients and get together to roast andĀ pound them using a stone mortar and pestle. This tradition is slowly being lost in the hustle and bustle of the busy lifestyle that people now live. These days it is much more convenient to purchase the masala at the grocery store.

To those who wish to try my recipes that call for the meat masala, here are a few tips:
1. Check to see if you have an Indian grocery store in the neighborhood and buy the masala there. Check to see the manufactured date on the box, the fresher the better!
2. Try and find it online. Though I think it may be a bit expensive buying online.
3. Use the curry powder which is now available in many supermarkets.
4. Make you own blend with the spices you already have in the pantry. Some of the common ingredients and proportionsĀ in the meat masala are:

  • chillies(65%)
  • cardamons(3%)
  • coriander(6%)
  • cloves(3%)
  • turmeric(6%)
  • cinnamon(3%)
  • cumin(6%)
  • black Cialis for sale pepper(6%)
  • nutmeg(1%)
  • bay leaves(1%)

The masala tastes best when freshly ground. Ideally stone ground is prefered compared to a spice mill, as the masala does not get heated. If you make more than you need for a recipe, store the remaining masala in an airtight jar in a cool, dry and dark place.

Meat masala is not limited to meat dishes only. It can even be added to beans and other vegetable curries. Adding more masala than what the recipe calls for may result in the dish tasting a little bitter. Always lower the heat and add the masala while cooking so that it doesn’t burn. Add the masala to the recipe and cook it for a couple of minutes before adding the liquids to get rid of the raw taste.

Hope this post helps you to understand the very versatile ingredient in my kitchen!

2 responses so far

Sep 02 2009

Zucchini Fritters

Published by under Appetizers,Indian,Sides,Vegetarian

Another traditional dish which I learned from my grandmother. Traditionally this is made with Chinese Okra which is grown abundantly in Vasai and is generally available throughout the monsoon season (June-September). These crispy fritters are perfect accompaniments with fish curry and rice.

Chinese Okra is not available in US supermarkets, but can be sometimes be found in Asian and Indian grocery stores. I have used Zucchini here instead.

Zucchini Fritters

Ingredients: Makes about 24 fritters
1 medium Zucchini
1medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine
1 green chilli, chopped fine
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp meat masala
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup chick pea flour
salt
2 Tbsp cooking oil

Cut the Zucchini into 4 slices lengthwise. Taking two slices at a time, chop them finely into strip. Add to a bowl with all the remaining ingredients except for the oil, rice flour and chick pea flour. Allow to rest for about an hour. This was my grandma’s trick to avoid adding water to the batter. When you let the mixture of Zucchini and onions stand for a while, the salt draws out the water from the veggies which is enough to form a batter.

Add the rice flour and chickpea flour to form a thick batter (thicker than pancake batter). Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a saute pan(preferably non stick) on medium heat. Drop the batter one tablespoon at a time, flattening it with the base of the spoon. Fry on each side till they are brown, remove on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Notes:

  • Add extra rice flour if the batter isn’t thick enough.
  • The batter can be frozen for up to 1 week.
  • If using Chinese okra, peel the Okra, slit it into half lengthwise, seed it and slice it thinly.
  • You could use 1/2 tsp chili powder,1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder instead of the meat masala.
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