Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I got my pack of Maggi tomato soup and suddenly had this idea of making soup from scratch. I had fresh vegetables that in themselves have a lot of flavor and I did not want to put them in a ready made soup powder. And my inspiration came from Saffron's lovely Minestrone soup.
The only other soup I made from scratch was Saffron Hut's Cream of broccoli soup. And that was when my love affair with broccoli started. The soup beautiful brought out all the flavor in the broccoli and placed it at a level you cannot avoid loving.
- 1 cup : Orzo/any pasta, cooked
- 2 cups: finely diced vegetables, I used carrots, green peppers and tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp : Red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup: Garbanzo beans/chick peas, soaked&cooked till soft or canned
- 2 nos : Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp : Ginger, finely chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp : Coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp : Coriander powder
- Salt n Pepper for seasoning
- Coriander leaves for garnish, I also used carrot leaves.
- 1 Tbsp : Olive Oil
- Cook the pasta al dente as per the instructions on the pack. I added a little salt and a few drops of olive oil to the water.
- In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and when hot add the finely chopped ginger and garlic.
- Add the chopped onions in about 30secs. Saute till translucent and add the green pepper. Cover and cook for a few minutes till the peppers turn a little soft.
- Next add the tomatoes and carrots, cook covered for 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes loose shape and the carrots get soft.
- Now I added 1/2 tsp of coriander powder for some extra heat. This addition is upto you. You can add any dry herbs instead.
- I used fresh tender carrots that came with their leaves and so I added them too. The leaves to had a the nice carroty flavor which I really liked.
- Once the leaves wilt, add 2 cups of water, coconut milk and salt. Allow it to boil for a few minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and coriander leaves and simmer for a few minutes. If you want to thicken it, you can mix a tsp of corn flour/corn starch in cold water and add it now.
- Season with crushed pepper and taste for salt.
This was one of the best soups I've had. The addition of coconut milk gave it a flavor of Thai food which was yumm. I would strongly recommend this addition when you make minestrone soup or any other veggie soup for that matter. The coconut milk gives a nice rich n creamy texture to the soup. The orzo paired really well with the veggies and was a nice mouthful. I have only now begun to realize how well garlic and coconut pair, and this soup was a strong proof to that. I felt that orzo takes a little longer to cook than regular pasta and so cooked them separately.
I had the soup with half a bun toasted on a pan with some olive oil. This combo was purrrrfect for the cold outside. The warmth from the pepper, ginger and coriander powder paired with the soft veggies was ultra satisfying !
I am sending this soup bowl to Alanna, check her page for more soup ideas !! The cold can never get to you now :-)
Thursday, February 22, 2007
A looooonnngggg time ago I read about rice-grain shaped pasta and like a sincere foodie I put down in my shopping list and got a small pouch of it home. Well, and there the story ended too...atleast until now. The pack of pasta moved from table to closet and from one shelf to another but never saw the light of the stove !! It has been a near 3 months now. Some time last week I was at home in the evening and was in no mood of cooking something. A salad seemed like a good idea. I had seen a show on Food TV where orzo was used in a salad. Now one of the reasons for the orzo to lie in my kitchen was I had no clue what I could make of such a beauty ! But now I had a plan :-)
The salad had a lil of everything. Some juicy carrots, nutty almonds and sesame seeds, tangy lime and some crunch from onions. There was also some grated ginger and fresh coriander that took the whole salad to a new level.
- 1 cup - Orzo, rice-grain shaped pasta
- 1 nos - Carrot, grated
- 1/2 nos - Red onion, finely chopped
- a small piece of Ginger, grated (~1/2 inch)
- 1 Tbsp - Sesame seeds
- a few almonds, slivered
- Salt and Pepper for seasoning
- 1 Tbsp - Olive Oil
- 1/2 Tbsp - Lemon juice
- fresh Coriander leaves for garnish
- Cook the orzo as per the instructions on the pack. Add a few drops of olive oil to have separate gains and also a pinch of salt.
- In a microwavable plate toast the sesame seeds in the microwave for 30-40 seconds until they start crackling. Do the same with the almonds too, they'll turn crunchy. Both these add a nice crunch and nuttiness to the salad.
- In a bowl add the olive oil, grated carrots, ginger, cooked pasta and all the other ingredients.
- Season with salt and pepper, a dash of lemon juice, garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and nuts.
- Toss them all together and you have a refreshingly light yet filling salad all ready to eat in less than 20 mins.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I was busy working on some school work last week and well how long can a foodie dedicate herself to just books. Since the weather was bad I was at home for most part of the day too and the hall where I sit to study overlooks the kitchen !! Now it takes a loooot of will-power to sit there and not get into the kitchen to dish something out right !! So finally one evening I decided to make a few muffins. I was craving for some warm simple vanilla muffins, so I went into the kitchen and getting all the stuff I would need onto the counter and poooofff the power went out !!! Yes, the power !! It was 6 in the evening and the whole place went into pitch darkness... :-( I was alone at home and ......and......well......and....ummm....well..... I am a lil scared of the dark u see.... :-(
So I called my brother and my friends and well...they did come to the rescue. I immediately rushed to a friends house 2 blocks from mine and we were around 6 of us huddled in their hall. They had a gas stove and not the electric one and the leftovers came to our rescue again. We heated up a few tortillas a bowl of sambar, a bowl of rasam and a cup of cauliflower curry were all wiped clean ! The power outage lasted for about 6 hrs !! But it was fun, we all sat down and exchanged stories of how wonderful the power cuts were to us as kids in India. It was the official play time for us. The best part being that in summer the power cut would follow a routine...so the homework schedule would be built around it and it would be a lot easier to play hide n seek...hehe
So here goes the recipe:
- In a bowl combine your dry ingredients(first 6 in the list) and mix well.
- Pre-heat your oven to 300F.
- Now add the cubed chilled butter and rub into the flour mix. It will slowly turn into a crumbly mix.
- Grease a muffin pan with some butter and have it ready so that once the wet ingredients are added you can send them into the oven as quick as you can.
- Now add the cream cheese mix, required amount of milk and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and fold them in to combine.
- Add in the chopped strawberries and incorporate it well without beating/mixing the mixture too much.
- Transfer the batter to the pan to fill 3/4th of each cup and rush it into the oven. Look at how well it rose in the oven :-) yayyyyyy
- Send it into the oven and bake for about 20-30mins based on your oven and until the muffins turn a light brown on the top.
P.S: The batter for this muffin is not a flowy one, it resembled more like a chapati dough gone bad due to extra water. It was all sticky and mushy, I had to use two spoons to fill the muffin cups, one to scoop and another to help me drop them into the muffin pan.
The amount of butter was how much it took me to get a slight crumble texture to the flour.
You can play around with the flavorings, probably almond extract or rose essence would be good too. You can use any fruit, fresh/dried berries and even nuts. I prefer a smooth & soft cake and don't like nuts in mine and so skipped them. but you can add what ever you like, probably even chocolate chips.
I liked the way my muffins rose in the oven and would totally attribute it to the sour cream and beaten cream in it.
Baking powder: It is a a mix of baking soda & some kind of acidic agent like cream of tartar and can be used by itself in any dish.
Baking soda: It needs a moist acidic environment to work in. And so you will see recipes calling for ingredients like buttermilk or lime juice or vinegar and in this case sour cream. You should combine them just before the dish is ready to be cooked as they react almost instantaneously to create CO2 bubbles that help is rising.
Read more here and here.
Enjoy your muffins with some nice warm tea or milk !
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
On one of Giada's Everyday Italian show on Food TV that I watched during my stay at my brothers place, she made some chocolate tiramisu and the recipe looked simple enough to recreate at home. I looked for more recipes online and found one with no egg too. Last Friday, we went to a grocery store and in the spur of the moment I decided I wanted to make Tiramisu that nite cos it is one of P's fav desserts ! I could not remember all the ingredients but couldn't. The store I went to had no espresso powder or mascarpone cheese and just when I was going to drop the idea, I found that the back of the ladyfingers package had a recipe for Tiramisu and they had very thoughtfully given a substitution for mascarpone !! Lovely !! So I got all my ingredients and set out to make 'one of the best desserts I have ever made' in P's words :-)
Okay, enough of the talk .. now to the recipe:
- 24 Ladyfingers (one pack for me)
- 1 cup - Coffee liqueur like kahlua OR
- 11/2 cups : Water
- 2-3 Tbsp: Coffee powder (dint find instant espresso mix, so used the coffee powder at home)
- 11/2 cup: Milk/semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp : Heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp : Vegetable Oil/butter
- 2 cups: Heavy whipping cream (keep refrigerated until ready to use)
- 2 Tbsp : Sugar
- 1/2 tsp: Vanilla essence
- 1 Tbsp : Coconut, very fine flakes(optional, adds great texture)
- 5 Tbsp : Mascarpone cheese (must be at room temp)
- 2 Tbsp : Sugar
- 1 Tbsp : Cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup : Chocolate shavings
- 4 oz : Cream cheese, at room temp
- 3 Tbsp : Sour cream, at room temp
- 2 Tbsp : Heavy whipping cream
- In a microwave safe bowl and add 2 Tbsp of whipping cream and the 1 1/2 cups of roughly chopped chocolate to it. Microwave for 30secs, stir and heat for 30 more secs. Stir to get a smooth sauce, the residual heat from the bowl will help melt the chocolate and so don't heat longer than a minute. Allow it to cool.
- Fold in the softened mascarpone cheese (or substitute) and coconut flakes into the melted chocolate sauce and set aside.
- If you don't find mascarpone cheese, then add all the ingredients under the substitute list and mix well to get uniform consistency. First take the cream cheese and beat it till its a little smooth and then add the whipping cream and sour cream.
- Take 2 cups of whipping cream in a bowl and beat until it starts to thicken a little. Add the sugar and vanilla essence now and continue to whip until you achieve soft peaks. Easy to get with a electric beater, it took 10-12 mins of continuous beating by hand. Refrigerate till ready to use.
- If you are not using coffee liqueur, make some fresh espresso at home or use regular coffee. I got 11/2 cups of water to a near boil, turned off the heat and added the instant coffee powder to it.
- Line the dish with a double layer of plastic wrap, it makes it easy to transfer the tiramisu in to a plate while serving.
- Have the coffee/espresso in a wide plate like dish so that it makes dipping easy. Dip the ladyfingers in the coffee and arrange them in your dish. Don't over dip them as they crumble very fast absorbing a whole lot of liquid. Just one short dip on each side is more than enough.
- Layer them at the bottom of the dish and add a few spoonfuls of the zabaglione (chocolate-mascarapone cheese mixture) and spread evenly.
- Dust some cocoa powder, chocolate shavings and some instant coffee powder on top.
- Repeat steps 2-4 for as many layers as you want.
- Cover the dish with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-5 hrs, I left it in overnight though.
For topping I made some more chocolate sauce and strawberry relish. This post is already too long to accommodate another recipe. It will come in my next post adn will be my entry to Maheshwari's AFAM event. This one is surely being sent to Meeta for her Sweet Love-MM, P, my roomie for the last 2yrs moved y'day and this one is for her, 100% Love you and miss you :-(
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
On one of Emril's shows he made buttermilk biscuits. I am always on the look out for eggless baking recipes and this one caught my attention. I was going to try this one too while I was with my brother, but well ....
So when I got back and finally made my way into the kitchen after a break, I made this for a surprise dinner we arranged for a dear friends b'day. I have never eaten biscuits here in the US before( not that I knew these were called Biscuits...what happened to Parle G !!) , but my frnds told me they taste a lot similar to the ones at Popoye's and KFC. yayyyyyyyyyyyy :-)
You can find the original recipe at the end of this post :
I can't follow a recipe word-by-word and so added some garlic salt that I had instead of plain salt. I eyeballed all the ingredients and might not have stuck by the measurements he gave, and that surely dint matter :-) Double check to see if you are using salted or unsalted butter before you add salt. I also used lesser butter, just abt 1/4th of a stick (~ 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp) for 2 cups of flour and it did not effect the texture too much.
To add a special twist I added some finely chopped jalapeños and red onions and some grated mozzarella cheese as a topping. You could also added them to the dough. I intended to do that but forgot about them while making the dough and dint want to over work the dough by adding them in the end.
After extracting rounds from the rolled dough instead of reworking the extra pieces I just rolled them out to make perfect finger foods with tea.
All the recipes I saw insisted on these being served immediately after they are out of the oven. That is because they are warm and soft from the butter in it. Also rite out of the oven they have a crunchy crust and a soft melt-in-mouth inside. This is lost after the initial hour. I had a few leftover for the next few days and found them good to eat even then. A 20sec microwave made them soft again but they loose their crunchy crust though.
These are surely a must try recipe guys, do add your own twist to them and enjoy :-)
The link does not seem to work well, so here is the recipe:
Buttermilk Biscuits:From Emril Lagasse's show on Food Network given here.
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons buttermilkPreheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and blend thoroughly. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and quickly blend in, making sure to not overwork the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of 1/2-inch. Use a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, press out as many biscuits as possible. Gather up scraps and quickly knead back together, then cut out as many additional biscuits as possible. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Thank you all for your suggestions/comments regarding the template. Your views did give me new ideas. I am going to stick to the current one for now and work on the color combo of the other template. The green in the center column wasn't supposed to be green in the first place. It looks 2 shades lighter & more sober on my computer screen !! This is a problem with many colors, they don't look the same on all computer screen resolutions. There are very few web-safe colors and until I find one that universally looks similar on all screens I am going to go with the white background. Thank you again :-)
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
This is how Cincinnati looks right now !!
It started snowing at 12:30 pm in the afternoon and this picture was taken at 4:00pm. You can hardly see where the road is, there are two cars parked (one farther behind in the pic) but the road is nowhere is sight !! Well, it is 6:00 pm now and it hasn't stopped snowing even for a minute yet !! The forecast said 3-5" of snow...but I am sure we passed that mark many hrs ago !!
On a day like this all I want to do is to sit on the couch and pretend to do my research work from home i.e., self declared holiday !! So, what would a meal on such a day look like ??
Leftovers Day !! yippieeee...who said leftovers were boring !! haha
the new look for the blog, do take a look at this. Based on the comments/suggestions I received till now....it looks like a 50-50 !! Help meeeeee :D
Friday, February 02, 2007
I got bit by the 'revamp-your-template' bug that has been infecting quite a lot of people in the blogosphere these days !! I have been living with the thought for quite sometime now and finally I decided to actually spend some time and make a few changes. I wasn't brave enough to make changes to the main blog already and so started experimenting on the blog I created for such adventures long long ago !! :-)
Here it is : http://templatetrails.blogspot.com/
Let me know if you like the look or if you have any other color/font/style suggestions. I would really appreciate some feedback :-)