Friday, March 27, 2009

Sesame Peanut Noodles

In this month's edition of Taste & Create, the talented Nicole paired me with HoneyB of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. She has such an amazing blog and is quite the baker.

I actually bookmarked about 10 recipes that I wanted to try, sadly knowing I could only enter one for T&C. But, oh, the mac and cheese and the galette truly made me want to reach in and grab a bite!

I chose the Sesame Peanut Noodles. We would have this quite often when we were in California, but I haven't seen it here in India and so, I was excited to see this recipe. Its creamy and peanut-ty and lovely!

Sesame Peanut Noodles
(modified slightly from the original recipe)

6 oz Noodles, cooked and cooled (I used thick Udon noodles)

1/3 cup Peanut Butter, smooth
1/2 cup Water
3 tbsp Ketchup
3 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Sesame Oil

2 Scallions, greens and whites separated
2-3 tbsp Peanuts, crushed (this is the only part that I modified from the original)

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and heat on medium in a saucepan. Stir until well mixed together.

Mix the heated sauce with the cooked noodles. Garnish with the scallion greens and peanuts.

Thanks, HoneyB. We loved the noodles and will definitely be making it again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sago Cutlets

Sabudana or Sago pearls are very similar to Tapioca and may be easily confused for the other. But they have very distinct tastes. Sago is used extensively in Indian cooking.

Until recently I didn't know that they are mostly carbohydrates and have minimal nutritional value! On the other hand, they are delicious, especially in these cutlets! And you can get your protein from the nuts! :)

Sago Cutlets

1/2 cup Sago Pearls
4 small Potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
2 Green Chillies, chopped fine
2 tbsp Cilantro Leaves, chopped fine
3/4 cup Bread Crumbs
Salt to taste
1/4 cup Nuts, crushed (almonds or peanuts or cashews work well)

Soak the sago for about 8 hours. Drain the sago and dry on a tea towel.

Mix together the sago, mashed potato, chillies, cilantro, salt, bread crumbs and nuts.

Roll them into walnut-sized balls and flatten to form a cutlet shape. You can make them as large or as small as you'd like - smaller ones cook faster.

Heat about a teaspoon of oil on a skillet and place the cutlets, a few at a time. Allow to cook until slightly browned and flip over, until both sides are golden brown.

Serve hot with chutney. The cutlets are great the same day. If you are saving them for later, store in the refrigerator and heat in a toaster oven for a few minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fun Food Stuff

I have seen some really cool bread products - for instance, Jude's bread bowls for soup. Recently I went to a friend's house for a BBQ and saw the most interesting bread product ever. Check it out:

Isn't that cool? It's a bread (made in a bread machine) that has been hollowed out. The hollowed out bread has been used to make different sandwiches and then neatly placed back into the original bread. Easy to carry along for a picnic and held at least 30 sandwiches. I thought it was quite cool.

Next up, when we were traveling in Singapore, I came across an Auntie Anne's Pretzels. They are my favorite pretzels - especially the Jalapeno ones. I went right up to the counter excited to have a jalapeno pretzel after a really long time. And I was faced with this menu:

Now, that's what I call adapting to the area. Seaweed Pretzels? Really? How about Green Tea?! And, no, they didn't have Jalapeno.

Back in India, we came across a vendor selling freshly squeezed sugarcane juice.

These vendors have been around for a long, long time. But this was the first time I was actually looking at it closely. And can you believe the entire thing - including the wheels are made of wood?

Every single part of that machine! Quite amazing. And so, here is my entry for Click: Wood, because it is so unique to India, and a great show of craftsmanship.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream

After seeing the Daring Bakers make ice cream, I simply had to try my hand at it. It took a lot of research, and lots of running around and lots went wrong. But the ice cream was amazing. And it's all due to David Lebovitz! He's a genius :)

I changed his recipe around quite a bit. I tried not to, but I had to. We don't get vanilla beans here and so I had to substitute more vanilla extract. And we don't get heavy cream either (I just couldn't believe that!), and so I went with regular cream.

I also don't have an ice cream machine, and had to use DL's method for making ice cream by regular old churning. He said in his post that it should probably take 2-3 hours, but I first put it in the freezer at 7 pm and I did the last churn at 3 am! And I couldn't go to sleep because all my effort would have gone to waste.

Everything was worth it. Some fantastic vanilla ice cream (couldn't call it "plain, ol' vanilla", because it just ain't so)

Vanilla Ice Cream
(slightly altered from David Lebovitz's recipe)

1 cup Milk (I had to use part-skim!)
A pinch of Salt
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups Cream
5 Egg Yolks

Heat the milk, vanilla, salt and sugar together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yolks. Gradually pour the milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly.

Pour the milk mixture back into the pan. On low heat, keep stirring while it thickens.

Meanwhile set up a large bowl with a 50-50 mixture of ice cubes and iced water. Set a smaller bowl into the large bowl. Empty the cream into the smaller bowl and let it chill. Set a small holed strainer over the smaller bowl.

The milk mixture will slowly begin to thick. Continue stirring until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. A good test would be to run your finger over the coating on the spoon - it should leave a mark without running.

Immediately pour the mixture through the strainer into the smaller bowl containing the cream. Keep stirring until the entire mixture cools down and is chilled.

When cold, pour the mixture into a large (shallow is good) plastic container. Put it in the freezer.

Now starts the not so fun part. Every 45 minutes to an hour, take the container out and give it a good churn with a metal spoon or even a hand-held mixer or stick blender (those make it all easier). Make sure to break up all the frozen parts from the edges in. The better you blend everything, the less icy the end result.

Keep churning until the entire thing is frozen. This took me a good 7-8 hours! But that could also be my freezer. Hopefully yours will freeze up sooner! Good Luck!

But don't you see how fantastic that looks? It's all worth it. Really, it is!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kadamba Sadam

After many days of making cookies and brownies, I couldn't bear to "cream butter, add sugar". I needed something savory to work with. And what better blog to turn to than Suganya at Tasty Palettes. Her recipes are amazing and her photographs are beautiful. And hers is the chosen blog this month at Tried And Tasted, started by Zlamushka and hosted this month by Curry Leaf at Experiments, Emotions, Experiences with Food.

This is a recipe that we enjoyed growing up but I haven't had it in a long time and had no idea how to make it. I was excited when I found it at Suganya's blog and decided to make it for lunch. As she says, its truly comfort in a bowl.

Kadamba is an assortment or string of similar things and sadam means rice. So this is basically a vegetable curry (made with as assortment of mixed vegetables in a spiced tamarind curry, mixed with rice). When we made this at home, I remember the curry cooked with the rice so that they were all mushed together, but I couldn't wait to try Suganya's version.

Kadamba Sadam

(recipe from Tasty Palettes)

4 cups Mixed Vegetables (I used carrots, peas, shallots and beans)
3 tbsp Tamarind Paste
1 Tomato, chopped
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/4 cup Coconut Milk (I left this out)
1/2 cup Toor Dal, cooked till soft and and mushy
1 pinch Asafetida
2 tbsp Cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste

Spice Mixture:
2 tbsp Chana Dal
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Urad Dal
6 dried Red Chillies
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/4 cup Grated Coconut
1 tbsp Oil

Roast the spice mixture ingredients in the oil. Cool the mixture and grind with the coconut to make a smooth paste.

1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
3-4 Curry Leaves

The directions, exactly from Tasty Palettes:

Dissolve tamarind paste in 1 cup of water. In a deep vessel, boil tamarind water along with salt, turmeric powder, tomato and mixed vegetables for about 15 minutes. The vegetable should be fully cooked and the tamarind shouldn’t smell raw anymore.

Add the cooked dal and spice paste and allow sambar to boil for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Finally add the coconut milk, if using and switch off the flame. Mix well and let the coconut milk to heat through. Stir in asafoetida and cilantro.

In a small skillet, heat oil/ghee and splutter mustard seeds. Remove from flame and add curry leaves. Add this seasoning to the sambar. Serve this sambar with rice and additional ghee, if preferred.

Mix generous ladles of sambar into rice (called saadam in Tamil), mix well and serve warm ‘Kadamba Saadam’ with crunchy cucumber slices, vegetable chips or appalam. The rice should not be dry, but porridge like consistency.

If you want to include onions, slice ‘em thin and sauté with mustard seeds while seasoning and add to the sambar. Omit asafoetida though, as it doesn’t go well with onions or garlic.

This was true comfort food for me and my family. We loved it. Thanks Suganya!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nutella Brownies

There's absolutely nothing to say about these brownies except that they are in one word Un-Friggin-Believable! I am on a cookie/ brownie cooking spree of my bookmarks.

I have also been keeping my daughter occupied during her holidays. And today I made these with my nephew - he's so enthusiastic and excited about cooking - so let me just say they tasted even better!

I made a few alterations to the original recipe. My nephew doesn't like peanut butter, so we substituted 1/2 cup Nutella for the peanut butter - so now we have 1 cup instead of 1/2 cup nutella. And the chocolate chips were added on as a topping, but we mixed it right into the

Nutella Brownies
(recipe from Noble Pig, and originally from Culinary in the Country)

1 cup Butter
2 cups Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 large Eggs
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Cocoa
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Nutella
1/4 cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

On a low heat, melt the butter and add in the sugar and vanilla while stirring to combine. Remove from heat and cool completely. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well to combine after each addition.

Add the flour mixture, a bit at a time, to the egg mixture until completely mixed in.

Heat the nutella in the microwave for a little bit until you get it to a runny consistency. Add the nutella to the batter and mix well. Now add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Pour into a square baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting. We couldn't wait and that was a mistake. Parts of it were still warm and so a little like melted chocolate in the center (sigh - can't go wrong with some molten chocolate, can you?!). It did eventually all firm up. And the kids walloped it with some strawberry ice cream (I would've chosen vanilla, but hey, it's all for the kids!).

As I said before Un-Friggin-Believable. Truly Death By Chocolate!! And what a good way to go!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Savory Cookies

So on Day 2 of cooking from my bookmarked cookies recipe this week, I chose savory cookies from my friend Aparna's blog, My Diverse Kitchen. I've been lusting after these cookies ever since I saw it on her blog.

The taste was delicious and flaky - not spicy but with just a hint of cheese and pepper. You could add more if you'd like to bring some zing to it, but since I was making this with and for my daughter, I didn't go overboard with the spice. But this recipe is so versatile that you could any flavors that you'd like. The only thing I did different was omitting the egg - I was happy to use it but didn't have any and wasn't running to the store for one ingredient.

Savory Cookies
(original recipe from My Diverse Kitchen)

1 cup cold Butter
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cheese (I used fresh grated Parmesan)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp mixed dried Herbs (I used Herbes de Provence)
1-2 tbsp cold Water, or enough to bring the dough together

Preheat the oven to 190 deg C.

Rub the butter into the flour to resemble breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, baking powder, pepper and herbs and combine. Add enough water to bring the flour together to form a kneadable dough.

Roll the dough out and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Since my daughter got to choose, we made lots of stars, butterflies, moons, diamonds... basically anything she fancied!

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned slightly on the bottom and edges.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

This was a fantastic recipe, Aparna. Thank you so much!

This is off to Ashwini of Ashwini's Spicy Cuisine for MBP: Snacks and Savories. MBP was originally started by Coffee of the Spice Cafe.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Butter Cookies

I've given myself the name of Habitual Bookmarker. I bookmark so many recipes from other blogs and sites, that its getting a little out of control. If I made all the stuff I bookmarked, I'd be a happy camper, but they've accumulated and are threatening to hijack my computer if I don't start paying them some attention.

So here goes, the first of the many many that I've bookmarked in the Cookies category. These butter cookies are delicious and would be amazing with a cup of hot tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Elsye of Dari Dapur Saya is one of my favorite bloggers - she has lovely photographs with simple recipes that are always spot-on.

Butter Cookies
(recipe from Dari Dapur Saya)

1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
Cream the butter. Add the sugar and continue to whip until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat.
Fold in the flour. Cover and chill the dough for an hour and a half.
Take the dough out and roll it out. Cut into desired shapes. Bake for 10-12 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack.

Other cookies on this blog: Potato Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Cookies, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This is off to Trupti for MBP: Kids Food, an event originally started by Coffee.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bakewell Cake

So this month's Sweet and Simple Bakes' recipe was a Cherry Bakewell Cake. Maria and Rosie really do their homework and give us the most tried and tested easy bake recipes. And every single time, the recipe is a winner.

This time, though, it just didn't work for me and I have no idea why! Maybe one of you could tell me where I went wrong. I'm still posting it here because everyone loved the flavor of the cake - it just didn't look all that hot. See the S+SB website to see how this cake is supposed to look!

And another thing - I'm not a huge cherry person, actually I dislike cherries. So I went with the raspberry option that Rosie had given us. So I'm just going to call it a Bakewell Cake!

Bakewell Cake
(recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)

For the Cake:
8 oz Butter, well softened, + extra for greasing
8 oz Caster Sugar
4 oz ground Almonds
4 oz self-raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp almond extract or essence
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt

For The Filling & Top
12 oz Cherry Jam/ Conserve (I used Raspberry Jam)
6 oz Icing Sugar
5-6 tsp Water or Lemon Juice (I used Lemon Juice)
1 tbsp flaked Almonds, lightly toasted

Mix all the ingredients for the cake together. Pour it into two 8 inch round sandwich tins.

Bake at 180 deg C for 30 minutes. It's done when a skewer comes out clean. Spread the jam on top of one of the cakes and sandwich them together.

Stir together the lemon juice and icing sugar until thick and creamy and pour over the cake. Top with the toasted almonds.

So everyone loved the cake, but I'll tell you what went wrong for me. The height of the cake was half what it was supposed to be. But the quantity of batter was so little that I realized that the two cakes would be really small.

And the icing just didn't become white and translucent - it kinda just blended into the cake. You could taste the icing but couldn't see it.

Thanks, Rosie and Maria!