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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Caramelized Spiced Apples

In my last post I mentioned that my husband made a wonderfully aromatic and tasty side dish to go along with the scrumptious waffles. It's such a simple recipe that takes the most basic ingredients and adds a nice complement to any meal. This would be a great dish not just for breakfast but for any time of the day. It's great on its own or serve it with some vanilla icecream for dessert . It is a nice method to turn the everyday apples into something exiciting and exotic.
My husband served the apples along with some sliced plums.

1-2 apples sliced
1 tsp butter
1 pinch cinnamon
1 tsp sugar (optional for topping)

Melt the butter in a pan, to this add the sliced apples. Cook these till caramelized on both sides. Sprinkle a little cinnamon depending on your taste. Turn off the heat and sprinkle a little sugar over the slices while still hot, so that it melts a little.

The apples can be cooked through or kept a little crunchy depending on your preference.

Whole Wheat Waffles

What a wonderful Saturday it has been so far!! I was allowed to sleep in today and woke up to the wonderful aroma of waffles, apples and cinnamon. It was such a great way to start the day. My husband had prepared breakfast along with some really good tea. It was a nice treat. The morning was cloudy and gray and with such a delicious breakfast, I was transported to a far away place and felt  I was on a holiday.

At one point in time, I thought making waffles was almost next to impossible and had to rely on the readymade frozen variety. But ever since I got the waffle maker, I can never go back to the cardboard like frozen version. Nothing tastes better than the homemade version. Add to this a compote of fresh berries and thats one of the best breakfast menus I can think of. The waffle recipe is so easy and quick that I even make it on those rushed weekday mornings.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp oil
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk (whole or skimmed) or water

Beat the egg well. To this add the vanilla essence and mix well. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. To this add the oil and egg mixture. Then slowly pour in the milk and mix together to form the batter. The batter should be thick but easily pourable. Adjust the quantity of milk to adjust the batter consistency.

Ideally you would want to separate the egg yolk and white and beat the egg white till you have a nice foam. Start out with the egg yolk and vanilla essence and then add the other ingredients. Then fold in the egg white once the batter has been created. Do not overmix the batter. You should mix it just enough so that all the ingredients get incorporated.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gajar Halwa/ Carrot Pudding

This is one of my favorite desserts. Ever since I discovered grating in the food processor, its the easiest dessert to prepare. Its also an easily scalable dessert and is a great potluck dish. However, it has been a while since I made it. So when I realised that I had a tonne of carrots, I thought why not make gajar halwa. Yum yum yum is how I would describe the end result.

The best part of the recipe is that you can easily adjust the proportions of ingredients to make it a healthier dish or you can make the following recipe for the traditional delicious dessert.

4-5 cups grated carrots
1/4-1/2 cup ghee/clarified butter
1 cups whole milk
2-3 tbsps ricotta cheese
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 cup raisins - soak this in a little water
1/8 cup roasted cashews
3/4- 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Heat a large pan and add the ghee and the carrots to it. Stir, cover and cook this till the carrot is cooked and softened. Keep stirring occasionally so that the carrots do not stick to the bottom. At this stage, add the ricotta cheese and cook this till the ricotta cheese dries up a little. Then add the milk to the carrots mixture a little at a time and cook this till it evaporates. At this stage, add the sugar and cook till the mixture is cooked to a halwa consistency. Add the cardamom powder, the raisins and the cashews.

Soaking the raisins makes them plump up, enhancing the taste. The ricotta cheese helps provide the "mava" taste and texture.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Corn Patties/Cutlets

I drive past a field everyday with a big sign "Fresh Corn sold here". I finally gave in and bought a bunch of corn cobs this weekend. We have been enjoying them roasted on the grill almost every other day. I wanted to make some corn dishes to use the corn while it was fresh and that led me to my friend's blog post where where she lists a delicious corn patties recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand and was on my way to making these immediately. The patties turned out really tasty and this is definitely a recipe that I will make over and over again.

1 corn cob - pressure cook this or boil it till the corn becomes tender (I pressure cooked it till 1 whistle)
2 medium potatoes - boiled and grated
1 tsp cumin-corriander/ dhana jeera powder
1  tsp red chilli powder
2 cloves garlic grated
1 inch ginger grated
1 tbsp corn flour/ corn starcth
Salt to taste
2 tsp semolina/rava
2 tsp cornmeal
1/8th tsp red chilli powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp oil

Grate the cooked corn cob. To this add the grated potatoes, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, salt, dhana jeera powder and corn flour. Mix them well to form a dough like mixture.
Mix together the rava, cornmeal, chilli powder and salt. Spread this mixture out on a flat plate. This will be the coating of the patty to give it a crisp texture.
Make a small ball of the dough, roll it in the coating mixture and flatten it into a small disc. Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry these discs, so that they are evenly browned on both sides.
Serve them hot with ketchup or chutney.

The corn flour helps bind the mixture together into a dough so that it stays together while forming the patty. You may need to adjust the quantity based on how soft the potato corn mixture is. You can move the patties to a preheated oven (350F) once they are browned on both sides, for five minutes to get a crispier texture. You can also use this patty in a sandwhich.

I am submitting this recipe to One Hot Stove's BB6 Potluck Edition

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chirote / Chiroti

This is a Maharashtrian delicacy. It is a deep fried sweet, generally made at Diwali time. My husband really likes this dish and its frequently high on his wishlist. So, a few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and make it for him. However, I did not want to have a fried high calorie snack within easy access to munch on every day. So, I decided to experiment with the baking process. I decided to make it the traditional way, except to replace the frying prcess with baking. I must say that the result was a resounding success. Now, I don't cringe everytime I eat a piece. It's guilt free good eats!

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp oil
1/8 tsp salt
water to knead a firm dough
2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
2 tbsp rice flour
powdered sugar to dust over the chirote

Mix together the flour, salt, and oil. Add the water slowly and knead this till you have a firm dough. Set this aside and cover with a damp towel for about 5 minutes. Whisk together the ghee and rice flour to form a paste. Roll out about an inch of dough into a thin round circle (we will need a total of three sheets). Now spread 1/4 tsp rice and ghee paste over this dough sheet. Roll out another dough sheet of similar dimensions. Stack this on top of the ghee covered sheet. Again, spread some ghee and rice flour paste and layer with the third dough sheet. Cover this dough sheet with the ghee and rice paste. Now, roll this stack of sheet into a tight roll. Cut this into 1 inch thick rounds. Roll out each round. This can be rolled out so that the layers are visible from top, as I did here or form a rectangular shape along the other direction.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the rolled out chirotes onto a baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Turn the chirotes over half way through the cooking process, so that the resulting chirotes are nicely brown.

Dust the chirotes with powdered sugar while they are hot.

If you want a more traditional chirotes, follow the steps till the baking process and fry instead. You can also make a one string syrup and dunk the chirotes in the syrup and let it dry before storing. The chirotes should be cool before storing otherwise they will turn soft.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grilled Artichoke

This is a beautiful vegetable. It resembles a flower and belongs to the sunflower family. I used to pass this vegetable by, every time I visited the grocery store. But the only way I had used it was via its canned form-the canned artichoke hearts. I finally saw this on the menu of a restaurant that is famous for its cheesecakes and decided to try it. Ever since that day, I have picked it up in the grocery section instead of passing it by. It's an extremely healthy vegetable, high in Vitamin C. Though many methods list a tedious way to cook it, the following method is a no fuss way to cook it, so that it can be enjoyed often.

1 Artichoke
2 tbsp white vinegar
salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 large pot of water (enough to submerge the artichoke completely)
Dressing of your choice to serve with the artichoke

Take the pot of water and add the vinegar to it. Start to heat this mixture. To prepare the artichoke, cut off about 1 inch of the top of the artichoke. Remove the stem and peel it. Add the artichoke and stem to the water prior to boiling. Artichoke will tend to float but we want it to be completely submerged in water, so that it cooks properly. To achieve this, cover the artichoke with a small strainer or sieve and place a small weight (heavy plate/small vessel, etc.) on the strainer. Let the water come to boil and let it boil for about 20-30 minutes. To check if it is completely cooked, insert a knife into the base where the stem was attached. If it goes in without any resistance, then it is completely cooked. Remove the artichoke and the stem.

Artichoke, being from the sunflower family, has a center thistle surrounded by the green leaves. This resembles small needles and is not edible. It must be removed. To do this, cut the artichoke into two halves lengthwise (not along circumference). You will see the thistle at the base just above the artichoke heart. Use a spoon to scoop this out. Make sure that you remove all the needles. Now, use a brush and cover the artichoke and stem with a layer of oil and sprinkle salt. Grill the halves or you can broil it. Remove it when it has a nice grilled/charred look.

How to Eat this
Serve the grilled artichoke with your favorite dressing. Italian and ranch go well with artichoke. Peel off each leaf, dip in the dressing, and scrape off the pulp from the leaf using your bottom teeth. The bigger outer leaves are very fibrous and may not have a lot of pulp. As you work your way towards the center, the leaves become more tender and the amount of pulp increases. The bulk of the artichoke is the heart and the stem, which are citrusy and delicious.

The artichoke will start oxidizing and will turn brown as soon as you cut it. It's necessary to get it into the acidic water as soon as possible. The color of the artichoke will tend to change a little after it is boiled. It will turn brownish green. You can eat the artichoke after boiling as well without grilling.

Carrot Raisin Muffins

These days we are surrounded by calorie information about everything we eat, making it difficult to avoid the numbers and are aware of the high calorie foods. So when I decided to bake a batch of muffins to share with my friends, I decided to go with a healthy recipe, so all of us could enjoy it guilt free. I also made some cream cheese frosting for those who preferred the decadent taste. It was a great hit with the calorie conscious crowd as well as those with a sweet tooth. I am immensely happy with recipe and hope you try it too.This is a modified version of the carrot walnut cake recipe.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp wheat bran
1.5 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup yogurt, fat free
2 eggs
1.5 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream cheese
2-3 cups confectioners sugar, to taste

Sieve together all the dry ingredients - flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Add the bran and mix together. In another bowl whisk together the oil and sugar, add the eggs and whisk them together. Add in the carrots and the yogurt. Add the flour in parts to the wet ingredients mixture and fold it in. This mix may need to be thinned out to a consistency where it can be easily poured into the baking pan with a couple of tablespoons of milk. Fold in the raisins.
Grease the muffin pan (this recipe makes 12) and pour the batter in. Bake this for about 30 minutes at 350 F.

For the frosting
Whisk the sugar and room temperature cream cheese together. Spread it on the muffin for a sweeter taste.

Use a sharp knife or a toothpick to test for doneness. Pierce the center and if it comes out clean, your muffins are ready.
Enjoy it for breakfast or as a snack. A glass of warm milk or even hot tea goes great with it.

Sending this recipe to Siri's Healing Foods event hosted by Suma at her veggieplatter blog

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Veggie and Beans Taco

It has been really hot for the last couple of weeks and I was not upto slaving over a hot stove last weekend. So I asked my husband what he would like to eat and ended up vetoeing all the suggestions he made like fried rice, dal fry and aloo paratha. He finally said "why don't you make a burrito?" So we went to the grocery store to get the required ingredients like tortillas and hot sauce. I hadn't ever tried a mexican dish at home before, so I was really looking forward to it. We reached the tortilla aisle and realised that all the burrito size tortillas came in really big packs and we would never be able to use all of those. While I was wondering what to do, my husband was exploring the aisle and found a small pack of about 10 taco size corn tortillas. That decided it - tacos it was! I must say it was light and refreshing and made a wonderful Sunday lunch.

8-10 corn tortillas - taco size
1 can black beans - rinsed (alternately, you can soak 1 cup of beans, pressure cook it and add a little salt to it)
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
sour cream
shredded cheese mix

For the salsa
2 tomatoes diced
1 red onion diced
1 avacado diced
2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
1 chilli finely diced
1 lemon

For the grilled vegetables
1 corn cob or 1 cup frozen corn- thawed
1 yellow onion sliced
1/2 green bell pepper sliced
1/2 orange bell pepper sliced
1/2 red bell pepper sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste


For the salsa
Mix together the diced tomatoes, red onion, avacado. Add the juice of the lemon, salt and pepper and mix well. Lemon juice should be added after the avacado to retain the green color or it will turn brown. Mix in the chilli, per taste.

For the vegetables
Heat oil in a pan. To this add the sliced onion. Stir fry this for 3-4 mins till the onion is transparent. Then add the bell peppers and the corn. If using frozen corn, add the corn after the bell pepper has been stir fried for 2-3 mins. Add the cumin and salt to this.

To assemble the taco
Cook the tacos on a pan, a couple of mins on each side. To this, add the beans, followed by salsa and the grilled vegetables. Add a dollop of sour cream and cheese. Top with the shredded lettuce.

Serve with hot sauce.
The simplest way to peel the avacado, is to cut it around the length into two pieces, remove the inner seed and then use the spoon to scoop out the avacado.

This is a great meal to-go. Just pack it as shown below and you have your next day's tasty lunch ready. It is easy to assemble just before you eat. I have added some jalapenos to the salsa and grilled vegetable mixture here, since my husband likes it a little spicy!

I am submitting this recipe to Susan's MLLA which is hosted here by Siri this month.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

After my first successful foray into the world of baking bread, I decided to make whole wheat bread (which just sounds healthier). I am not really sure what the difference between all the different wheat flours is nutritionally, but just by looking at the textures of the different flours, it seems that whole wheat probably has more fiber than the more processed all purpose or bread flour. My first attempt was just not good, and I had to throw it away. I didn’t count on the dough doubling up in size so fast, so the next time I made it, I cut back drastically on the amount of yeast. A couple of other tweaks and the end result was very tasty. We have been enjoying this with bread and jam for breakfast this week.

¼ tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1.25 cups warm water
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
½- 1 tbsp oil to grease bowls

Heat the water and milk mixture in the microwave for a minute, or on the cooktop till warm. To this add the salt, sugar and yeast and set aside for 5-10 mins. This mixture will turn slightly frothy after 10 mins. In a mixing bowl, take the wheat flour, and add the yeast mixture to the flour. Mix these ingredients well and set aside for 10 minutes. The resultant mixture will be sticky dough. Knead this well for about 10-20 minutes. The dough will be smooth and at the end of the kneading, you should be able to stretch a small piece of dough into a thin sheet without tearing easily. It should be thin enough that it looks like a membrane that light can be seen through. Transfer this to a bowl which has been greased with oil and cover the bread dough with a moist towel. Set this in a warm place for about 3-5 hours till the dough has risen and is double in volume.

Take this risen dough, shape it into a dough roll and put it into a well greased bread pan. Let the dough rise for the second time till it is double in size. At this point in time, you are ready to bake your bread. The second rise time can vary and it took me about 2 hours for the dough to rise.

Bake the bread at 375 F for 25-35 minutes. It took 30 minutes for the bread to look completely done. It was well browned on the top and sides as well.

The water-yeast mixture must be frothy before it’s added to the flour. However, since we haven’t added a lot of yeast as a starter, it will be slightly frothy and bubbly. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your yeast if it is old before you add it to the flour. If it doesn't become frothy, you need a new packet of yeast. A longer rise time may be needed if the surrounding temperature is cooler than 75F. You can assist the dough rising process by keeping the dough in your oven with the light on to provide a warm environment for the yeast. The longer you knead the dough, the lighter your bread will be. The stretch test is the best way to determine if you have kneaded the dough long enough. Gluten bonds are developed via kneading and the more you knead the dough, more bonds develop in turn making the dough more elastic.