July 13, 2010

Apricot Biryani

This is one of my all time favorite rice recipe with fruits and nuts. Adapted this recipe from a show in Food Network. I love the flavor, though I did make a couple of changes from the original.

Preparation time:20 minutes

Cooking time:25 minutes
Yields:4 servings
For the Rice:
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 tbsp chili paste
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 ttsp ground cloves
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
1/2 cup chopped apricots
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup crispy shallots
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
salt to taste

Onion Sauce: (Makes 2 cups)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 tbsp chili paste
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp coconut milk
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tsp salt

For the Onion Sauce:
1.Melt the unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown.
2.Add the chili paste, ground cloves, and ground cardamom and cook mix.
3.Pour in the vegetable broth and coconut milk. Raise the heat to high and simmer for 10mins.
4.Remove the pan from the heat add the soy milk and salt. Puree in a blender until smooth.

For the rice:
1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, soak in warm water for 10 minutes.
2.Add the rice in a pot filled with boiling salted water.Cook until tender, takes about 6-10 mins.
3.Meanwhile, melt the butter with the curry paste, cardamom, and cloves in a saucepan.
4.Once the rice is done toss with the butter mixture until evenly coated. Keep warm until ready to serve.
5. Just before serving add cashews, pumpkin seeds, apricots, shallots, coriander and mint leaves.

Note: Serve this rice with pepper fry chicken or mushroom.

May 24, 2010

Zucchini Pancake

Preparation time:15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 3

2 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 garlic, minced
3 green chili,chopped
3 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 tbsp whole wheat flour
salt and pepper

1.Whisk egg is a bowl along with salt and pepper.2.Take another large bowl and add all other ingredients. Finally pour the egg mixture into the bowl.3.Heat a large skillet and spray oil. Drop 3tbsp of the batter into the skillet. Cook about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

4.Continue with remaining batter. Serve warm along with ketchup.
HINT: Make small pancake so that its easy to flip.

April 27, 2010

Chicken and Pesto Pasta

What is the perfect way of making pesto ?? Do you think there is any exact procedure to make one ? Well, I know there are lot of different ways in making pesto, but one should always stick to the main ingredients which are basil,garlic,cheese and olive oil. I say the perfect pesto would always be made with fresh basil. The other ingredients, meaning the kind of pasta and vegetables or meat are left to ones own choice.
I had this dish in a lot of restaurants but the best was at a restaurant called Tropea Ristorante Italiano, they served this pesto pasta in the name of Rigatoni zii teresa. Cant forget the fresh flavors ...mmmm!!!So creamy...deep smell...oh it was a delight. However it is quite hard to get the restaurant flavor at home. But all that's necessary is to cook with fresh ingredients and fresh cheese. Dont substitute cheddar or any pre-sliced cheese. Sometimes I cook them with chicken, sometimes with mushrooms but my pesto sauce is the same. So try it out and you will have no regrets in serving this for a party too !!

1 tbsp White Pepper
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 pound julienne chicken breast
2 tbsp butter
2cups Buitoni sea shells pasta
1 cup pesto sauce
3tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese
pesto sauce:
1 bunch basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup roasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

For Pesto Sauce:
1.Grind the basil, garlic, roasted pine nuts, cheese and olive oil with a pinch of salt.
2.Add olive oil little at a time mixing well until the sauce binds together (for a thicker sauce add less oil).Check for seasoning and adjust.
For Pasta:
1.Mix white pepper,garlic and chicken. Keep it aside.
2.Heat the butter in a large skillet.Add marinated chicken let it cook for 10-15 minutes.
3.Meanwhile cook the pasta according to package direction.Just before draining the pasta into a colander,remove 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside.
4.Add the pesto sauce into the chicken mixture and toss it with pasta.Finally add the cream and pasta water. Cook for another 5 minutes.

5.Finally pour the pasta into serving bowl and garnish with grated parmigiano cheese. Serve hot.
HINT: Garnish with roasted pine nuts for crunchy taste.
NOTE: Use fresh basil for fresh flavor.
VARIATION: Can use 1 tbsp of soar cream instead of heavy cream.

April 22, 2010

Tofu Kabab

Here is a simple but classic method for the Tandoori delight,Tofu Kebabs. These kebabs are not only easy to make but will satisfy your craving for fried food. And this is certainly a favorite food for all seasons. Usually Kebabs give you a feel that its too complicated to make, but actually its not. There is no rushing and sweating to make this dish. Just follow few simple steps and in no time you will have nice hot, tender and juicy appetizer.
As for the vegetables selections, I used onions and capsicum. You can also consider using egg plants, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini. I am confident that the kebabs will be a perfect appetizer for all vegetarian lovers.

Preparation time:15 minutes

Standing time:3-6 hours

Total cooking time:15 minutes

2 cloves of garlic,crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger,grated
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 cup plain thick yogurt
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1tbsp lime juice
salt to taste
1lb firm tofu,cut into 1 inch cube
1/2lb broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 capsicum,cut into 1 inch squares
1 onion,cut into 1 inch squares
oil to spray

1.Combine garlic,ginger,coriander and mint leaves.Grind it to paste along with 1/2 cup of water.
2.Whisk yogurt in a separate bowl and add the paste.Add rest of the dry ingredients and tofu cubes.Set aside for 3-6 hours.
3.Thread tofu,capsicum,broccoli and onion alternately.

4.Brush yogurt mixture lightly over skewer and place on lightly oiled griller tray and cook, brushing with the remaining yogurt mixture occasionally under high heat for 5-6 minutes.
5.Turn and cook,brushing again with yogurt mixture, for 5 minutes or until tofu is cooked or firm.Serve with saffron rice or mint chutney,if desired.

HINT:Dont over cook the tofu.15-20 minutes is sufficient for the tofu to fully cook.Soak the skewers in water before threading tofu and vegetables.
NOTE:I used Shan's tandoori masala.It gave a very good flavor.

April 21, 2010

Cheesecake Streusel Bars

Cookie Swap by Julia.M.Usher is on my "best books" list. I remember the countless hours I spent browsing all the wonderful pages of this book. The recipes are simple, they turn out right and yield delicious results. There are wide variety of holiday cookie recipes. The pictures are wonderful, and steps are very detailed.

While browsing through the pages one recipe caught my interest, the streusel bars. I never tried making cheese cake (quite skeptical about how it would turn out) but for some reason today I was in a mood for cheese cake. So after scanning through my refrigerator for listed ingredients I was ready to try them. The recipe required foil for lining the baking pan, since I ran out of them, I sprayed some butter and it work pretty well for me. As for the baking pans, for this recipe I used two 9 inch square pans. I had bookmarked other recipes too and am planning to try out some over the weekend, and I cant wait !!

Preparation:20 minutes
Baking time:15 plus 30 minutes
Makes: 2 dozen bars


Cocoa Streusel Crust:
2 cups plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup plus 3 tbsp light brown sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter,softened and divided
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Cheesecake Filling:
8oz cream cheese,room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs,room temperature
2 1/2 tsp bourbon
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
For topping:
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup walnut halve, lightly toasted and cooled
Caramel Drizzle:(optional)
4tbsp caramel sauce

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line two 9x9x2-inch pan with butter.
2.For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/4cup plus 3tbsp flour, 1/4cup plus 3tbspbrown sugar,2tbsp cocoa powder, and salt. Using a fork or your hands, thoroughly work in 3/4cup plus 1 tbsp butter until you have a moist dough.(there should be no dry spots) Press the dough firmly into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Prick generously with a fork.
3. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Remove and let it cool completely before filling.
4.For Cocoa Topping:Combine the remaining powder 3/4cup flour,3/4cup brown sugar,2tbsp cocoa powder and netmeg in a small bowl. Work in the remaining 3tbsp butter until the dry ingredients are uniformly moistened. Set aside for step6.
5. For the filling:Place the cream cheese in the bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually add the sugar then the eggs one at a time.
6.Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and spread into an even layer.
7. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the filling, followed by the chocolate chips and pecans. Gently press the topping into the cheesecake.
8.Bake the cheesecake about 30 minutes, or until slightly puffed ad firm through to the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle 3 to 4 tbsp of caramel sauce over the top of the cheesecake.
9.Cover the pan and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
10.Remove the cheesecake from the pan and slice them into blocks with a spatula. Trim any uneven edges with a knife.
The book contains eight themed cookie parties that are designed to do precisely this. With a party every season and occasions as diverse as kids birthday and bridal showers- this book will show you how the joy of special cookie swap can transcend the month of December to be shared with loved ones at any time of the year. As a specialized form of potluck, a cookie swap has all the same traits that make a potluck so effortless to host.

HINT: For the neatest cuts, use a sharp knife, wiped clean with a warm,damp cloth between slices.
NOTE: Never substitute pre-ground nutmeg for freshly grated, as the former can be harsh and bitter. For best flavor and texture, serve at room temperature withing 2 to 3 days, before the streusel softens.