Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas cookies continues...

Here comes another Christmas treat in my cookie series.

Pinwheel Cookies
Zebra cookies
Gifting home baked cookies is the great way to celebrate these holidays. But why settle for one type of cookies when you can easily have many ?

One base
+   Some
=    Bourbon biscuits
   Choco cookies
   Pinwheel cookies
   Zebra cookies

Doesn't the above equation reminds you the old chemistry class or Maths Theorem class ?
This is the secret formula for my Christmas cookie treats. By keeping the bourbon biscuit recipe as my base recipe I did little variation and did 3 more kind of cookies. Thanks to Nithu's kitchen, the Bourbon biscuit now got two more little sisters, Pinwheel cookies and Zebra cookies.

For both the cookies, I used two coloured cookie dough with single recipe.

Ingredients :

One layer -- the chocolate layer the ingredients same as the choco cookies.
Second layer -- Plain one, except the cocoa powder and instant coffee.

Preparation  :
--- Prepare the two separate dough as mentioned in the choco cookies. Don't make the dough  more soft. Play with water and make sure all the crumbs are held together and knead the dough.
--- Wrap both the dough separately and refrigerate it for an hour.

*** Click here to find the recipe and the method to prepare the dough

Method - for Pinwheel cookies
--- Preheat the oven to 350 F
--- After an hour, take both the dough out from the fridge, unwrap them.
--- Take either one of the dough, divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll one dough to 3-4 mm thickness on a parchment paper and make approximately  10" x 8 " rectangle.
--- Follow the same  procedure for another color dough and make another rectangle.
--- Place rolled white dough on to the chocolate dough, press gently to make an even layer.
--- From one end, start rolling the rectangle dough tightly and form a log. Wrap the log and refrigerate again for an hour.
--- Follow the same step for the rest of the dough.
--- Take the dough and cut 1/4 inch thick slices. Now you can see nice two coloured swirls.
--- Place them on the cookie sheet and bake it for 10 - 12 minutes.
--- Once baked, cool it and put it in air tight container.

I did not roll tightly the first set of dough and also did not refrigerate it. So the dough was little flimsy and I was not able to cut the log properly. This led me to Zebra cookies.

Here comes the method for making these cookies.

--- Since the log was flimsy I was not able to cut the dough log in proper round. So I cut the log  to 1/2 inch  plus thickness.
--- Then cut the 1/2inch dough vertically, flattened it and formed a round shape. I got uneven color on the flattened uncooked cookie.
--- Made some impression using the fork, sprinkled some raw sugar. Placed on the cookie sheet and baked them at 350 F at 10 - 12 minutes.

These cookies were a big hit, my husband still asks me how I made the patchy effect on the Zebra cookies and the double swirl effect on the Pinwheel cookies.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas choco cookies

When I think of Deepavali, the first thing strikes my mind is the fresh smell of new clothes, next comes the smoke of crackers and different kind of sweets and savories. When I think of Christmas, it is decorations, Christmas tree, exchanging gifts and baking delicious cookies and cakes. It is just 4 days to Christmas and I like to drive through to see the light decorations in the night. It is very nice to see the houses, malls and the streets decorated with hundreds and thousands of lights.

My holiday celebration started from the Thanksgiving day. Windows are decorated with the cute multi coloured  LED lights and a kutti Christmas tree as a center piece of attraction. As a final part of the celebration, here comes the Christmas treat.

Baking cookies and cakes at home is a holiday tradition. Ginger bread, sugar cookies, butter cookies and cookies cut into various shapes related to holiday themes, fruit cakes... So many varieties.

Choco cookies
Infact, these choco cookies are ' little sister ' of the Bourbon biscuits, which I tried from Nithu's Kitchen. I used the same recipe, instead of filling the cream in between the two biscuits I used it to decorate on top of each cookie.

Ingredients :

1 cup -- All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup -- Butter
1/2 cup -- Sugar
1/2 tsp -- Instant Coffee Powder**
1/2 tsp -- Baking Soda
1/2 tsp -- Baking Powder
2 tbs -- Cocoa
1/2 tsp -- Vanilla Extract
4 - 5 tbs -- Milk
** Instant coffee powder is optional. But always try to use instant coffee are freshly brewed coffee when you are using chocolate in any recipe. This will enhance the chocolate flavour more.

--- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
--- Mix the sugar and butter along with the vanilla extract.
--- Sieve all the dry ingredients (Flour, Coco powder, Baking powder, Baking soda) except the instant coffee.
--- To the dry mixture, add the instant coffee. If using fresh brewed coffee, you can add along with the sugar butter mixture.
--- Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix well. If required add milk half to one tsp at a time to the mixture and form a dough.
--- Take the dough and roll them to 3- 4 mm thickness on a plastic sheet and cut them according to desired shape and bake it at 350 F for about 12-15 minutes.
--- Once the cookies are out, cool them completely before doing any decoration on it.


This is a very simple cookie. To have a celebration touch I decorated these cookies with the store bought Icing tube, resembling the snow effects.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade frozen roti

Are you a kind of person, who does preparatory works on weekends and do a little work on weekdays, specially when it comes for food?

My Chita Mami used to do lot like this when I was staying with her in Chennai. She will cut all the vegetables required for the week, prepare Idli / Dosa batter ready, sometimes she also make Milagu kuzhambu, puli kachal, tomato thokku for Monday's lunch. This preparatory work always make our work easy. She is very smart and fast and in 1.30 hrs she will make sambar / Rasam, curry, sadam for lunch, breakfast. Also pack 3 set of lunch boxes, get ready herself.  Everything used to be very easy and fast because of the already cut veggies.

Frozen roti is one such thing.

Though I am not lazy to cook and have plenty of time, I still have the frozen roti in stock for those emergencies. This will be very handy whenever we come home late and are either too bored or tired to cook. I used to buy my supply of frozen rotis from the grocery store. While it was cheap and convenient, it felt a bit 'heavy' and I could never eat more than 2 rotis in a meal. I then realised why shouldn't I try the same at home.

Ingredients :
Roti dough - prepare as per your taste
12" x 12" size Cut Polythene sheets
Some oil

Method :
--- Make the roti dough and press the rotis as usual.
--- Take a  polythene sheet, oil it on a side. Place the roti on oil side.
--- Brush some oil on the other side and place ne more polythene sheet.
--- The pressed dough should be sandwiched between the sheets.
--- Make as many roti as you want and repeat the same procedure.
--- Put all the sandwiched rotis in a ziplock bag and throw it in the freezer.

This will stay upto 2 months, I tried many times.

Whenever you want to cook, these rotis are no need to be thawed. Just take it from the freezer remove the sheet and put them on hot pan and cook it. If you keep it out then it will stick on to the sheet.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. I made couple of dishes and gave a sweet surprise to him.
Banana cake with Fondant Icing topping and Coconut Macaroons

I wanted to serve this lovely white macaroons with a nice cup of coffee on birthday morning. But I ended up doing that the day before his birthday.  You want to know why? It was a lovely cold white Saturday morning. It was snowing outside, first snow fall of the year. The white crisp snow very much reminded me the white fluffy flaky coconut macaroons.  How can anyone control the temptations ?

I found this lovely recipe in a magazine that I was reading at the library. I frequent the food and health related magazine section in the library and always have a  piece of paper handy in case I come across an interesting recipe. This one came that way. But this recipe is special to me. This had a nice story behind it.

A 10 year old girl, name Sabrina Shefer doing 5th Grade from Minooka, Illinois bakes these Coconut macaroons for a cause. She bakes these lovely macaroons and other cookies the earlier day and goes to farmer markets early morning along with her brother and sell them. And all the money they earn goes to the charity. How sweet...

What a fool am I,  forgot to note the magazine name and the charity organisation that she works for. But clearly taken the recipe of hers :(

Ingredients :

2 1/2 cup -- Unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup -- All purpose flour
2/3 cup -- Condensed Milk
1 tsp -- Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp -- Baking powder
1/8tsp -- Salt
1/2 cup -- Nuts (optional)

Method :
--- Preheat the oven to 350 F
--- Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and condensed milk, Vanilla extract thoroughly without any lumps
--- To the mixture add the shredded coconuts, nuts and mix well. Make sure all the coconut are well coated with the flour mix.
--- The mixture will be more sticky.
--- Just take a small heap of coconut mixture and place it on the greased cookie sheet. Don't make any balls out of it.
--- If using ice cream scooper, it will be well and good. If you trust your hands, better grease a little with butter and do it, so that it will not stick to your fingers.
--- Bake the macaroons at 350 F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until you see golden brown color on the edges.

--- Don't bake it for too long, the coconut will start to burn at the bottom, check for the golden brown colour carefully.

My husband was so happy and truly surprised. Both enjoyed the chill morning with the coconut macaroons and hot coffee

UPDATE 20-Dec-10
Oops, I forgot to mention about adding vanilla extract earlier. Have corrected it now.
Thanks to 'Anonymus' for pointing it out.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bourbon biscuits

A glass of warm milk and plate of freshly baked Bourbon biscuits, Oh its great !
Bourbon biscuit is one of our favorite biscuits from the childhood. We all grew up eating this biscuit. Hope everybody agree with me. Even last week we bought two pack from an Indian Grocery and finished it on our way back from the shop. FYI, the distance from the shop to our home is only 2 miles. We can't stop eating after having one. I like the large crystal sugar on top of the biscuit.

I used to wonder how they make this biscuits. Even in my dreams I never thought of baking one by myself. 
But I did it, I baked my all time favorite Bourbon yesterday.
Thanks to Nithu, she commented in couple of my earlier posts. When I visited her space the first post I saw in 'Nithus's Kitchen' was Bourbon biscuit. Can't believe by myself, can we do these biscuits at home? If yes, then why shouldn't I try at once ?

Whenever I am trying a new recipe, always I will call my husband and tell him . About this Bourbon, I didn't give him any clue. Wanted to surprise him. Quickly went to the kitchen, took all the ingredients and started working on the biscuits. Since its our favorite one, I doubled all the measures.
Did a couple of changes from the original recipe.
**Instead of granulated sugar, I used Brown sugar.
** And I used 1/4 cup Vegetable oil and 1/4 cup butter. This is because I had only one butter stick, I needed 1/4 for cream, so...
Rest all I followed the same from the original recipe For the recipe, click here

The biscuits turned out perfect. Indeed my husband was little shocked on seeing this. He was so happy and announced that from now on he is going to stop buying outside. How is it !

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Healthy quick snack

First flurries of this season drizzling outside and I am feeling chilly and cold inside. Wanted to munch something hot to warm up myself from the cold. The first thing came to mind are Pakodas.

Sometimes if it is raining, my mom will make crunchy hot fried items like Pakodas, Bhajjis and Vathal. We all sit and enjoy eating under soft glow of candle light, this is because of the Power cut in India. As you all know if its electricity department see a lightning or a thunder they will switch off the power. Oh God, when this is going to change in India?

Now coming to my story, I wanted to eat hot crunchy pakodas at the same time I wanted it to be healthy. This again because of the spark from the sudden flash on Sunday. Didn't you read that yet, click here to know more about it.

I baked the pakodas, which I tried from Trendy Relish. To make little more healthier I added some vegetables in it. The recipe is very simple and easy. Hardly I spent 10 minutes to prepare and 20 to 25 min for baking.

Ingredients :

1cup -- Chickpea/Besan Flour
3 tbsp -- Rice Flour
I no -- Medium size onion
1 cup -- cut vegetables**
2 no -- Green chillies
Salt as per taste

** I used some green and orange bell peppers, Cabbage.
I stopped using baking powder for this, as this is baking well for me. But in the actual recipe they used 3/4tsp of baking powder. So the choice is yours.

Method :
--- Preheat the oven to 400 F
--- Mix the dry ingredients well.
--- Add cut vegetables, green chillies and onions to the dry mixture .
--- To the mixture add 2 tsp of oil.
Oil will give some crisp effect to the pakodas. You can very will omit this.
--- Add water little by little to the mixture, until everything binds well. If its little watery no problem, add some more flour and adjust.
--- Line the cookie sheet with Parchment paper, otherwise the batter will stick into it. I spoiled one cookie sheet like this. Experience talk :))
--- On the sheet, take the batter in small portions and arrange them. No need to give more space in between each uncooked pakodas, since its not going to expand like cookies. But make sure they are not touching each other,
--- Using pastry brush, brush some oil on the uncooked pakodas. This is get a nice golden brown color on the pakodas
--- Bake it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the sheet out and turn the pakodas and brush some oil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.
--- After 15 minutes healthy crunchy snack is ready to serve.
This is one of the best way to make kids to eat vegetables.

Whole Wheat Pizza

Did anyone say NO to pizza ? That too if it is made of cent percent healthy stuffs.

Last Sunday, I took the kitchen cleaning job. Though I live in America, still my litchen is very Indian. Like our mom does in her kitchen, I changed all the kitchen cabinet papers and put them a new one. When I was doing so, I came across an article from a health magazine, which I was using to put inside the cabinets.
'7 Steps to eat clean and healthy food in the dirty world'
  1. Be a (Mostly) Vegetarian
  2. Eat Organic
  3. Skip the White stuff
  4. Count the ingredients
  5. Identify it
  6. Eat the whole thing
  7. Ban the brew
Suddenly, a light flashed inside me. Being a vegetarian, at least I should follow some simple steps to stay healthy. This Whole wheat pizza is the one spark from that flash.
This is 100% whole wheat pizza with lots of green vegetables and cheese. In my dictionary, Pizza means cheese and cheese means Pizza. Everybody might think that this girl has put this much cheese on her pizza and still calling healthy. Oh yes, the main highlight in this Pizza is the cheese. Its a gluten free, cholesterol free with 0g trans fat. I found this amazing cheese alternative from 'Whole Foods' organic shop.

You can find lot different flavoured cheese alternative in this brand. I am a big fan of this. These cheese alternatives are best substitute for the fatty cheese.
Twice I bought whole wheat pizza crust, wanted to try the same at home and the result was very encouraging. I would like to share the recipe, so you all can also enjoy a healthy comfort cheese pizza.

Ingredients :

For Pizza Base:
3 & 3/4 cup -- Whole wheat flour
1 pack -- Dry yeast
2 tsp -- Olive oil
1/2 tsp -- honey / sugar
1 tsp -- Salt

For Topping
2 to 3 cups -- Rice shreds cheese alternative**
1/2 cup -- finely chopped green and yellow bell pepper**
1/2 cup -- finely chopped onion**
1/2 cup -- sliced tomatoes**
1/4 cup -- Organic tomato basil sauce**
**Above are the things which I used, you can always change or add your style of toppings.

--- For pizza base, take a cup of  Luke warm water to activate the dry yeast. The water should be neither hot or cold. I do not have any food thermometer at home. To activate the yeast I take half a cup of water. Put it on the stove for about 30 - 40 seconds and switch off the heat and add remaining half cup water. This is my small trick to activate the yeast. If it works to you, share it with me.
--- In the warm water add the full pack of yeast and honey / sugar. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes.
Warm water is to activate the yeast and Sugar/ Honey is the food for the yeast.
--- Now you can see a thick layer of foam over the water, if not probably the yeast is not activated. Better luck next time, you have to try again with fresh pack.
--- When the yeast is ready to use, mix it with the wheat flour + salt. Add water in little, as you start kneading the dough.
---  Once the dough is ready, apply the oil over the dough and cover it with a damp towel for couple of hours.
--- This is the time span yeast will take to grow. After an hour you can see the whole dough has doubled in size.
--- Knead the dough and again keep it for an hour.
--- Pizza dough is ready to roll. Cut the whole dough into four quarters.
You can make a 9" pizza from a quarter, if you  are not going to use all, take unused dough apply olive oil and put it in a zip log bag and throw it inside the freezer, it will last for minimum 2 month.
--- Roll the dough to 1/4" thick, add the toppings and bake it in the oven for 425 F for 12 to 15 minutes.
Yummy, cheesy, healthy pizza will come out of the hot oven.

Now tell me, did anyone say NO to this organic healthy pizza ?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

French fruit cake

Baked this cake last Sunday, for a birthday party.

Wanted to surprise all with a different cake than my usual one. I was planning a cake with lots of decoration using the fondant icing. Since I did not have enough knowledge about it,  was little afraid to take a risk on a birthday cake. When I was talking about this with my husband, he suggested me to use some fresh fruits in the cake, because he likes my Pineapple upside down cake a lot. This kindled some idea and planned to decorate the cake with colorful fresh fruits.

Birthday means colorful, fun and joy. So I did colorful cake. Double layer Chocolate cake, white color frosting cream, and fresh fruits on top, sliced almonds with skins on sides.

Ingredients :

For Cake recipe
 2 1/2 cup -- All purpose flour
 1/2 cup -- Cocoa powder
 1 tin -- Condensed Milk
 1 cup -- Butter
 3/4 cup -- milk
 2 tsp -- Vanilla essence
 2 tsp -- Baking powder
 1 tsp -- Baking soda
 1 cup -- Chopped nuts and Raisins
 7-8 -- Sliced Pineapple rings**

For Decoration
 2 box store bought whipping cream
 Fresh strawberries halved**
 canned Orange**
 Sliced skinned almonds

--- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F, and grease the 2 nos of 8"pan. If you are having only one, not to worry  grease one pan and keep it ready. Once a cake is baked we can bake other in the same.
--- Melt the butter and cool it. Add milk, condensed milk and mix thoroughly.
--- Shift all the dry ingredients. APF, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder.
--- Add the dry ingredients in batches to the wet ingredients along with Vanilla essence.
--- Mix well and make sure there are no lumps. Now add the nuts and raisins to the cake batter and fold the batter from the center to mix the dried nuts and fruits.
--- **I wanted a layer of pineapple in between the cakes, so in one pan I arranged the pineapples rings on the bottom.
--- Pour the cake batter in both the pans. Eyeball measuring half quantity in each pan.
--- Bake the cake in 350 F for 35 - 40 minutes. If using two pans, keep changing the pan in the racks in equal time interval for even baking. If using one pan, bake a cake first, cool completely then take the cake out. Wash the pan, grease it and follow the same procedure.

--- Once both the cake are done, cool the cake completely.
--- Mix the whipping cream with a dry spatula and keep it ready.
--- With a knife cut the top bulged portion of the cake. Apply a little cream in the center of the plate or board in which you are going to mound the cakes. This is to avoid the movement of cake on the board or plate.
--- I kept the pine apple cake as a down layer. If you are doing without that, keep any of the cake. Upside cut portion to be kept down. Now apply the cream on the top.
--- Take another cake and place it on the cake with the frosting, make sure you are keeping the cut side down. Again like upside down.
--- Using a clean big spatula, apply generously the icing cream on the sides and then gradually move to the top. If you feel the icing is little too jelly to handle the icing on the cake. Keep the cake into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes and then work again.
--- If you see some dents and marks on the icing, no problem. We are going to apply a nice nutty layer on the sides which will cover everything.
--- Take handful of sliced almonds and pat it down on the sides.
--- On top of the cake, according to your desire decorate with strawberries and oranges.
--- You can use any fruits and decorate. No STOP sign for your imagination


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pocket Sandwich

I wanted a day off from cooking and cleaning, so my Husband promised me to take out for lunch one day. So last weekend, we planned to go out for lunch. From the time we woke up, we both were sitting and watching  movie. My kutti friend, Kirthana also joined us, but we both enjoyed some music in Youtube.
Since the movie was very interesting, we both canceled the lunch and decided to go for dinner.  But it was drizzling and was very windy and chilly that we lost all will to make the 20 mile drive to our nearest restaurant.

So we dropped that plan totally. Since I was not in a mood to cook, we bought some ready to eat Indian food. I picked a new dish called Babu's Pocket Sandwich from the frozen section. It was very good and different. I wanted to try the same in my kitchen and the result, taddan... Pocket sandwich

It is a stuffed roti at heart, but more sandwich-y in thickness. Don't want to confuse you people a lot. Straight away I am going to the recipe.

Ingredients :
For Roti, you all know.
-- Wheat flour
-- Salt
-- Water
**I had a bunch of fresh methi, so I added the same. Also added wheat bran.

 For stuffing, your choice. Below is what I made today.
-- 2 boiled Potatoes
-- 3 boiled Carrots
-- 1/2 Bell pepper
-- 1 medium size onion
-- Small tomato
-- 3 tsp Tomato Puree
-- some Raisins
-- 1 tsp Garam Masala
-- 2 tsp Oil
-- Salt and chili powder according to taste.
-- 1 tsp butter

-- First make the stuffing part ready.
-- Heat the oil in pan and saute the onions, once it is soft add bell pepper and tomatoes.
-- Don't add any water, just close the pan and cook. Once it is soft add the boiled carrot and potatoes, tomato puree, raisins along with the chili powder and salt.
-- Mash all the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
-- Before turning off the heat, add Garam masala powder, butter and mix it thoroughly.
-- Your stuffing is ready now. Let it cool completely. So that you can work easily later while stuffing.
-- As usual make the roti flour and roll it thin.
-- Brush some oil over one side.
-- Take 3-4 tbsp of the prepared stuffing and place it in the middle of the oiled side. Make it like a little rectangular block in the middle.
-- First close the small side in both direction and crimp the edge and then close the other two lengthy side in the middle. Take the water in your finger and apply as glue at the edges to make it adhere.
-- Uncooked sandwich is ready.
-- Heat a non stick pan and grease it with oil. Place the sandwich and cook.
-- Cook for 3 - 4 minutes in medium heat and flip the other side carefully and cook for another 2 minutes.
-- You can see the sandwich will be in golden brown color.

Pocket sandwich is ready to serve. Since we stuffed all good things inside the roti, we no need to go for a separate side dish. Simple tomato sauce will go great with this.

This is an easy recipe for a good lunch, evening snacks and for a dinner. You can use your own imagination for inside stuffing and enjoy this pocket sandwich. In my opinion, this will be great time saver for parties and get-togethers. You can prepare the uncooked sandwich ahead of time and refrigerate it. You can cook it just before the party and serve hot and tasty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moroccan spaghetti

'Who does not love Pasta ?' Oh, no I am not asking the question to you, this is asked by DK in Chef in You, under her recipe Moroccan Spaghetti . The answer is Me. Once upon a time I was not a big fan of Pastas, but now it is directly opposite. All credits goes to DK.

I love to browse foodie sites a lot, one day when I was doing so I came across this wonderful colorful recipe. Specially the photo was eye catching. So I read the whole recipe and found it was very simple, hence decided to give it a try. The very next day went for shopping and searched for Spaghetti's in the Pasta section. Since it was first time me and my husband looked almost all the brand in the aisle and took a whole grain pasta pack. It was a funny nice experience. I even posted a blog about this, If you would like to read about that, click on Fun and Dreams blog.

Let me cut short the story and come directly to the recipe.

Multi grain / Whole wheat Spaghetti -- Approximately 1/2 lb or less
Cherry Tomatoes -- 1 cup
Onion -- 1 medium Size
Chick Peas -- 1 cup cooked
Cut Vegetables (carrot, Potato, Bell pepper) -- 1 cup**
Tomato Paste -- 2 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste -- 1 tsp
Olive oil -- 1/4 cup
Chili Powder -- 2 tsp
Salt -- as per taste
Cilantro --  few bunch
Saffron -- a pinch

** I used a cup of vegetables, not used in the original recipe.

-- Cook the spaghetti as per the instruction given on the pack
-- Until that cooks, in a pan saute the onions till it become soft. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute. This is to avoid the burning of Garlic.
Here is a quick tip. In case if you don't like garlic, you can put the whole garlic and cook for some minutes and you can take it out from the pan. before adding other ingredients.
-- If using vegetables, add them now and cook it until the veggies become tender or else you can even add the cooked veggies. If you are not using, skip this step and jump to next step.
-- Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and add them to the pan along with the chili powder, salt and tomato paste.
-- Mix the saffron in little water and add the water to the paste. This is the one of a key ingredient which gives nice texture and aroma to the recipe.
-- Cook the above mixture for 5-8 minutes and add the cooked chick peas and cook for few minutes.
-- Now add the cooked spaghetti to the veggie pot and mix well.
-- That's it colorful Moroccan Spaghetti ready.
-- When serving add the cilantro and garnish them.

Isn't that dish so easy.

I am sending this recipe to Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes for the event 'Tried and Tasted - Chef In You'

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bournvita Milk cake

Here comes another sweet treat for Deepavali...

Its again my Mom's recipe, in which I made a small twist to make it little more delicious. She will make yummy cake for Deepavali. Most of the time, she call me or my sister to help in this, as this cake gives a good exercise to our hands and shoulders.

I enjoyed making this cake today, because I did a lot of workout after a very long time. Hard work always pays off. The amount of work you put in making this dish will yield a fruitful result. Ok, let me straight away come to the recipe now.

--- 1 cup Maida / All-purpose Flour
--- 3/4 cup Bournvita / Sweetened cocoa / Drinking Chocolate
--- 1/2 tin Condensed Milk
--- 3 cup Sugar
--- 1/2 cup Ghee
--- 1/2 cup Roasted nuts ( I used Cashews)


First Stage --- In a sauce pan add ghee and Maida and fry it for 10 - 15 minutes, until a nice aroma fills the whole kitchen. Exactly it will be like a freshly baked biscuit from a nearby bakery shop. If you want to taste the mixture, don't hesitate go and give it a try, it will taste like biscuits. Don't get too absorbed by aroma, because you might burn the mixture. Once it is done, keep the mixture aside and let it cool.

Second Stage --- Now comes the chocolate part, mix the bournvita and the condensed milk. Its a little messy work. To make it easy, first mix the bournvita in little warm water and make the cocoa batter without any lumps. Now pour this mixture to the condensed milk and mix it. No need to mix thoroughly, anyways we are going to put all these into a giant pot.

Third Stage --- Grease the pan or plate and keep it ready.

Final Stage --- Take a heavy bottom pan. Add sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Make sugar syrup with a single string consistency. Don't keep the burner in high flame, have it in medium flame and cook. Now add the roasted Maida and mix thoroughly. After few seconds add the Bournvita, milk mixture. That’s it all in one pot. Now comes the arm exercise. You have to constantly stir the mixture till it thickens. This is to avoid the mixture sticking to the bottom. Once the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan add the roasted nuts in to it. Turn off the mixture and transfer it to the greased pan.

--- Though the mixture tempts you, please don't attempt to put your fingers in to it. Experience talk, I burnt my finger today.
--- keep aside the tray for cooling, meanwhile when the cake is warm, take a greased knife and cut the cake according to desired shape. Let the cake cool completely before taking from the pan.

Share the joy and happiness along with the bournvita sweet treat...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coconut Ladoo

Happy Deepavali to all...


My mom will make delicious sweet for Deepavali. When we were kids, me, my sister and brother all three will sit and help her. We do Somasi, Jeera puri, Ladoo, Mixture, Thattai, Jamuns, Halwa, Badhusha, burfi, the list go on and on...Oh God, I am missing her a lot.

When ever she get Milkmaid, condensed milk me and my sister will cut the wrapper and send them to the given address to get recipe books. Though we will not cook we were so excited to see the recipes. We both sit and enjoy seeing the preparation and the presentation of each and every recipe. We used to dream to make and present such yummy dishes. We still have all the recipe books at home.

One main recipe, which we liked was Coconut Ladoo. Since I didn't have those books now, I found this sweet ladoo recipe from Dhivya Kudua's Easy cooking.
When I saw the recipe, remembered all the days which I spent seeing the ladoos in the 2 D picture.

Its very simple, easy and tasty recipe.All we need is only 2 main ingredients :
--- 1 tin Condensed Milk
--- 31/2 + 1/2 cup grated coconut

Preparation :
--- Take a heavy bottom pan mix the condensed milk and the grated coconuts
--- In a medium flame, cook the above mixture for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan.
--- That's it, the ladoos are ready to roll now. Once the mixture is warm, grease your hands with little ghee, roll them into small balls. Then roll the balls in the 1/2 cup coconut to give a nice coating.

More sweets are yet to come... Enjoy !!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chocolate Cake Balls

Happy Halloween.
Isn't the cutie nutty balls are attracting you to grab one ?

Last Thursday, we went out for a 3 day trip to Smoky Mountains with couple of our friends. For any trip, I always take our foodie bag with lots of food which can stay for a couple of days. This time my husband wanted me to make Choco cup cakes for the trip. Since we planned to start in the evening, I spent the whole day in cooking. I had the Choco cakes as a last item in my list, because it will take only 30 - 45 min.

The clock flashed 4.00 and I tuk, tuk grabbed all the ingredients and made the choco cake batter. Turned the oven on to 350 F and poured the batter into the tray and baked it. Once done, took the tray and kept aside for the cakes to cool. The cup cakes were looking exactly the same as I baked last time. Meanwhile I was getting ready and packing all the baggage.

I was so happy and excited to take those cup cakes out from the muffin tray, unfortunately I couldn't :((
Those cup cakes were not coming out of the tray. Think, I forgot to grease and flour the tray in a hurry. Though the cake was fluffy and nice, I was able to take only the top part not the whole cake. Sad story !
Didn't have anytime to think about the cakes, wrapped the tray and placed it in the fridge and went. We were back from the trip on Monday. Wanted to do something out of the cake, which is lying in the fridge for 4 days.

While searching for a recipe to fix, found this Cake balls recipe, for a moment I went ..... speechless. Next second, felt so happy and relived from a great tension.
This is the best recipe when we have cake leftovers. Easy to make and tasty to eat.
Here comes the recipe...

Required Ingredients
--- Left over cake (I had chocolate cake with lots of nuts and choco chip)
--- 1 box Frosting cream (I used store bought Pillsbury, Vanilla cream)
--- 1 pack Mini Chocolate chip ( I used Semi sweet)
--- Nuts (optional)

--- Scratch the cakes into very small pieces.
--- According to the cake quantity, add the frosting cream and mix thoroughly.
--- Make small balls.
--- Line all the cake balls in the cookie sheet and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours
--- Once the cake balls are harden enough, Melt the chocolate chips and dip the above cake balls.
--- Again refrigerate all the balls.
--- You can serve these balls with chocolate coating or else you can roll them over the nuts and also form a nutty layer on top.
--- Either way the balls will be delicious to eat.


Sending this chocolate treat to Madhuri Kumar's, Cook-Curry Nook for her 1st Anniversary celebration.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Easy Choco cup cakes

I did this cutie cup cakes a month ago along with my cute kutti friend.

Her name is Kirthana, 2 yrs old, my best friend in our neighborhood. She is very naughty, but very sweet. We both watch, sometimes even dance for rhymes and Tamil songs. As of now, songs from film Boss enkira Baskaran and Enthiran tops her favorite list. But her all time favorite is Aayarpadi Mailigayil song.

I will not go to my kitchen when she is around with me, first of all she wants our full attention and my laptop. Next reason as you all know, working in oven with a naughty little is very difficult. Hats off to all Moms !
Of course I baked this easy choco cup cakes when her mom was with us, she is equally sweet. Like mom, like daughter. She is another person who always appreciate my cooking and blogging.

One day when we both were talking, I was telling how easy to bake a cake and what are the essential things we need to bake a simple and tasty cake. Also about the variations we can do having one base recipe. While talking, I just grabbed all the available ingredients from the pantry and started working on this cakes.

Now comes the cake story...This cake again I bookmarked long ago from Cook curry-nook by Madhuri Kumar. But I did little substitution and variation and baked in conventional oven.


In Madhuri's cake, she used Flax seed 4 tsp substituting 4 eggs. I didn't use any, instead I used 1/2 cup of Milk powder + 1/2 cup of milk.
Also for a little extra taste I added 1/5Th cup of strong brew coffee.
For decoration I used 1/4 cup chocolate mini chips and toasted almonds.
Rest all the ingredients same. You can find the actual ingredients and the recipe here.

Instead of baking in 8inch pan, I poured the cake batter in muffin tray. On top of it I sprinkled the mini chocolate chips and some toasted Almonds. After 20 min , sweet choco cup cakes are ready.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tomato & Onion - Made for each other

Tomato and Onions are made for each other, especially when it comes for Thokku or Chutney.

This is my mom speciality thokku. Whenever we go for any tour for 2-3 days, my mom will make this thokku a day earlier for the trip. This will stay upto 4-5 days without needing refrigeration*.
*Condition - we should use a dry, clean spoon and seal it in airtight container.

As I said in earlier post, Sambar is the best combination for all South Indian dishes, but it has to be served hot and fresh. Thokku doesnot need any special VIP treatment and whats more the taste actually gets richer after a day. This is one of the best dish that we can rely on during a long road trip. Like Sambar, this is also go well with all dishes. Idli, Dosa, Roti, Bread, Rice, Puri, Pongal, vadai. Anything you name, this will be the best.

Ingredients :

All the measurements depend on individual taste.

-- 4 Roma tomatos
-- 3 medium size Onion
-- 4+ Tbsp Chilli powder (+ According to taste)
-- Salt according to taste
-- 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
--1 tsp each Mustard, Channa Dal, Urad Dal
-- 1 tsp Fenugreek

Procedure :
--- Cut Tomato and Onion into small dice.
--- In a heavy bottom pan heat oil and add Mustard seeds.
--- After the mustard cracks add Channa and Urad dal along with fenugreek.
--- Once dal turns the color add Tomato and onion.
--- Saute the mixture for 5 minutes, then add the chili powder and salt as per the taste.
--- Cook the mixture until the whole mixture becomes half and less. Now both Tomato and Onion will loose their identity and become one.
--- Turn off the thokku when the oil oozes out from the mixture.
--- Time taken approximately 30 - 45 minutes.

For better result, cook the thokku with little extra chilli powder and oil, because after a day the thokku will absorbs the chilli. And the extra oil will extends its life span.

As a tradition, I started doing this thokku for all our trip. When we ever we plan for a trip, first thing comes to my mind is Thakkali thokku and Chappathi. You can read about my foodie bag here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Story of Sambar

A magical word, whenever we read or hear the word Sambar, we feel hungry. It is also a magical dish goes well with all. The best combination for all South Indian dishes Idli, Dosa, Pongal, Upma and mainly with rice.

Sambar is everyone's favorite. When I was working, a German lady worked with us. She liked sambar a lot. She used to order food from Vasantha Bhavan quite often and drink only the sambar with appalam being the side dish. Not only her, a lot of my friends from North India go crazy when they see sambar.
When my in-laws were here, sambar used to figure in our menu atleast twice a week. Every time I do it was not the same. They liked my sambar a lot. When my mom met them last week, they especially praised my sambar, how nice is that !

Here comes the 'Story of Sambar'. Dedicating this post to my husband, because he sent this link a month ago and nagging me daily to publish it. I was waiting for a perfect Sambar photo and at last I did it yesterday. Dosen't my plate looks colourful !


I read the same story in a couple of other sites in the net, but I am not sure how authentic this story is.Sambar was a 18th Century dish which accidentally originated in Tanjore, when Marathas were ruling. The King Sambhoji was a great cook in the palace and he always cooked amti made of special Kokum. Click here to know more details about Kokum.

In a particular season Kokum were imported from Maharastra to Tanjore for cooking. Once kokum didnot reach on time to the palace, that time one of his sous chef suggested about Tamarind to the king and asked King to do some experiment with tamarind pulp. Sambhoji tried a dish with Toordal, vegetables and tamarind pulp. King served this recipe in his coterie and they all liked this recipe. Also named it as 'Sambhoji's amti'. Later the name turned as 'Sambar'. What a happy ending :))

Will post some more history soon... Bye

Saturday, October 9, 2010

From America with Love, Contd...

Last comes, the Almond cookies.
This is the third cookie which I sent to India, a special treat to my family. For the other two cookie recipe, check my earlier post  here .

Since I did one cookie with lots of nuts and rich in taste and another with chocolate chip, wanted my third cookie to be mild and rich in taste. So went for Almond cookie using almond paste.
When I searched for the recipe, I ended up recipes using only the Almond paste without flour, If I would have followed it, I might have left with a dozen cookies. So I made my own recipe and the result was perfect.

1 can / 8oz - Almond Paste, 1 Cup - All Purpose Flour, 1/2 cup / 1 Stick - Butter, 3/4 cup - Sugar, 1 tsp - Baking powder, 1 tsp - Baking Soda, Few roasted Almonds (optional), A pinch of salt.

Method :

-- Pre-heat the oven to 350 0F
-- Melt the butter and cool it. To the melted butter add Sugar,salt and almond paste and mix well.
-- Sieve the Flour along with baking soda and baking power.
-- Mix the dry and wet ingredients and knead gently, till all the flour mixed together. The dough will look similar to Chapathi dough.
-- If you are using Almond, coarsely powder the almonds and add in the mixture.
-- Using rolling pin, flatten the dough to 1/2 an inch thick.
-- Cut the dough according to the desire shape and bake it.
-- Baking time 10 - 15 minutes.

I used approximately 2" dia cap and cut the cookie dough, so got around 25-30 Almond cookies.

The almond paste has some sweetness in it, according to your taste please vary the sugar level and enjoy the almond cookies with a cup of hot coffee.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

From America with Love

Few weeks ago, one weekend I did 3 different types of cookies. Those were very special cookies which travelled India. One whole day I spent with APF, Oats, sugar, baking powder, variety of nuts and hot oven, continuously my oven was at 350 0F from the morning till 5.00 in the evening.
No more build ups, will tell you the story behind it.

After confirming the return tickets of my in-laws, we all went for shopping and bought different kinds of chocolates, nuts and other things for give away purpose. But I was not satisfied with the store bought stuffs. Wanted to send something special to them and to my parents. I decided to send some cookies along with them. Since the cookies are going for two big families, I wanted to give more, atleast 3 dozen each. So I did 3 different cookies.

First comes, Lace cookies. A perfect name for the cookies and an high five to the person who named it! It looked like a brown coloured lace in the cookie sheet when I took it from the oven. It was very rich in taste and look. I tried this from Maduram's Eggless Cooking and did small variations from the original recipe

I did not have Rosewater and sufficient quantity of Pistachios, so I used a tsp of Vanilla extract and added 1/2 cup of walnuts to the Pistachios that I had. After mixing all the mentioned ingredients my dough was not in Idli/ Dosa batter consistency as specified by Madhuram. It was more like regular cookie dough. I was little concerned. Experimented initially by doing very small balls and baked 4-5 cookies. The end product was amazing. The dough spread out evenly and baked well.

I followed the same measures of ingredients, but ended with more than 50 cookies. The size of the lace cookies  were more or less like our regular cookies, correctly say palm size, :)) Happily sent more cookies to India

Next comes, Chocolate chip cookies.
Once in two weeks, I do Coconut Raisin Oats cookies. One day I ran out of my speciality cookies and we had to buy Chip Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. My Mother in-law liked the chocolate chip in the cookies. Ha,ha,ha... Who doesn't like chocolate? She asked me whether I can do the same cookies at home. I was so happy and explained the making of chocolate chip cookies and the variations we can do in baking cookies. Also mentioned the various type of chocolate chips available in market. Next week I did Chocolate chip cookies. She was so happy.

So my second choice to give away was Chocolate chip cookie. Recipe for this, same as Coconut Raisin Oats cookies, instead of Shredded coconut and Raisin I used a cup of Mini semi sweet chocolate chip.
In a hurry, I forgot to take the photo of cookies. If I do next time, sure I will post the same.

Third recipe, my own recipe... Coming up in my next post.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Power of Turmeric

Turmeric, Vermillon, Haldi, Manjal in Tamil, Pasupu in Telugu -- Many names with many faces.

This post is all about Turmeric. I am going to share my good old memories with Turmeric, with some facts.

Last week, when we were shopping in a Homeopathic shop for my Mother in-law, we found this Nutrition magazine. This magazine is all about Natural ingredients and its medicinal value. While we are glancing the book, we came across an article about Turmeric. Later that day, me and my Mother in-law  had a very good discussions about the turmeric.

Do you know a fact, it is called as South Indian Saffron. Erode in Tamil Nadu is the world's largest producer of Turmeric.

Turmeric - we use in our daily life in wide variety of way.
Cooking, always comes first in every bodies mind. We always add few pinch in our daily cooking.
Next comes our rituals. Vermillon plays a vital role in our Hindu Religion.
In early days when we were kids, my mom ask us to write the monthly grocery list and always first thing we write is 'மஞ்சள்' (Manjal). We can see in all houses that people will apply Turmeric in the main door to welcome, the Goddess, Lakshmi. Turmeric is equally treated as a most sacred ingredient . In all Poojas, Wedding or any function its important we have Turmeric.

Another form of turmeric, where we come often is cosmetics. It is mainly used in soaps, face creams, etc. High five to 'Vicco turmeric' girls, I also one among those. When me and my sister were kids, all Fridays we apply Turmeric + coconut oil all over our skin. My mom always say that it will heal all the skin diseases and gives shine to our skin. Later days, we stopped doing that, its a different story :)) Ha, ha, ha...

These are the forms which we know mainly about Turmeric. But the main form of turmeric is as a Medicine. It is an anti bacterial agent. It got a healing power to heal almost all major disease. Digestive problems, Liver disease, Arthritis, Brain and Mood benefits, Cancer, specially Breast cancer.
'Curcumin' is an antioxidant found in turmeric. This is main ingredient in all the medicine which helps to cure the above diseases.
To know more about turmeric, pls check in below sites :
-- Turmeric India
-- Pure Skin by Maggie
-- Turmeric for cancer

Every mother will give masala milk - A cup of milk with a pinch of pepper and a pinch of Haldi powder, when we cough badly. We will feel a nice soothing effect after drinking the warm milk.

Last but not least it is used as colouring agent, Natural dye. Hey, its my subject, I can't leave this :))
Moral of the story -- Prevention is better than cure.
Why to gulp medicines when we have immediate solution in our hand. Include turmeric in the food and daily life and get rid of all disease in initial stage.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pineapple Upside down Cake

I baked this delicious looking and tasting Pineapple upside down cake yesterday. Doesn't this look pretty !

You all might be wondering where this girl vanished suddenly. She has been cooking and baking so many dishes and giving sweet surprises to her in-laws. What to say friends, my in-laws shortened their stay here and flew back home last Monday :(

I am having so many new informative things and recipes to share with , but since the time they left the home seems so empty and dull without all the constant buzz . Absolutely no cooking for first 3 days and survived with frozen rotis. Slowly I recovered and started seeing my routines in Food network shows. In one of the show I saw a similar cake using corn meal, so wanted try it. Same day I bought cherries and pineapples.

I will always take a month to try a recipe after book marking it , luckily this time I tried Pineapple upside down cake within two days. Found this wonderful recipe from " Cooked Dil Se..." by Siddhi. This is again a recipe where I faced couple of challenges.
First thing in the morning found my oven door broken and thanks to my apartment guys, for fixing it quickly. The original recipe has a stick of butter. Oops, I forgot to buy it.  Want to know what I did, tadaan, replaced it with 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.  Also added lots of walnuts and Raisin for more taste.

That's it poured my cake batter on top of  pineapple and cherries and baked it for 40 minutes in 300 F. Once baked cooled the cake in the pan for some minutes then turned the cake. I can't believe myself, at last I baked pineapple upside down cake... Huh huh can't wait to share with you all...


If you want to give it a try, you can always find the recipe here. Enjoy !!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dates Bread

Another bread in series. I bookmarked this recipe long back and tried this few days before. Wonderful healthy recipe.

I am a chocoholic, used to have a packet of chocolate in the fridge. Some months ago, I replaced them with  dates. More concern about my health, wanted to stay healthy, so only... I was eating regularly, after few days I stopped it, since it was too sweet.

Since we didn't eat, the whole 2 lb box was kept untouched. Long long ago, I found this recipe in "Parita's World" and bookmarked it and waited for a loaf pan. Last month, when I was shopping with my in-laws , I was telling the same above story and they bought me the loaf pan.
From that day, it has been raining breads in my kitchen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Banana Bread

Bananas are the one and only fruit in my grocery list every week. Never knows how it gets over in my home. Some times my husband will have it for the break fast. I used to eat bananas for breakfast and also as main meal for my Lunch not now...! Those are the days, before my in-laws arrival.
Also I mainly use it for baking, will always use bananas in the place of eggs. So in some form we will have bananas daily.

Last week, we had left with over ripen Bananas. From the day it started to change color from normal yellow to golden yellow, my mother in law was asking us to eat. Me and my husband found the jar of cookies more tempting. After a day, the color of the banana changed more, the black dots over the skin spread all over the banana. Neither I liked to eat it or to throw. So decided to bake cookies using it.

I wasted one more day and the bananas were looking very bad at this point, the skin was totally blackish, but fortunately the fruit inside was unspoilt. I searched for a new dish and found one but I could not try that as the quantity of banans that I had was not sufficient. Planning to make tomorrow, if it turns out well sure I will share with you.

With the above mentioned 2 bananas, I did banana bread, from 'Medhaa's' blog. It was a big surprise to my in-laws and to my husband, because I just went inside the kitchen and came out with a lovely, tasty bread. Didn't gave them any hint about baking.

Recipe here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

At last I did it...

Hope you didn't forget my earlier post ' Cocoa burfi' and my experiment with Nanaimo bars. And also I promised that Hit or Flop I will share with you all.

I tried Nanaimo bars yesterday and here is the result. My first two layers were perfect, had a little difficulty in the third layer. Yet it was a big hit.

Nanaimo bars are rich in taste. No simple words can fully describe the taste of it, unless you try one. Nutty bottom layer filled with lots of Walnuts, Coconut, wafers, sweet and cocoa. Middle layer with soft custard Icing and the Top layer with rich chocolaty taste. Want to try this recipe at once, pls click here for the recipe with clear steps and photos from Chef in You.

Thus comes to frutition, one of my long pending chocolate dreams.