Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Semiya Usli - A Rice Noodle Snack

Time flies. Before I knew it, the lease on my old apartment expired and LWTT and I had decided to move in together. Packing, moving, unpacking, a 3 week trip to India and then finally settling in to our new apartment and more than three months have gone by! Blogging has been at the back of mind through all of this, and today I decided to jump back in!

I had the day off and the apartment all to myself, so perfect for some experimenting in the kitchen I thought. Last month, my parents had visited from India, and had stocked my kitchen with all kinds of stuff. I rummaged through my "pantry" (or one shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets) and saw a packet of semiya (thin rice noodles). I was going make Semiya Usli, a perfect tea time snack! Spicy, salty, crunchy perfect with a cup of steaming hot tea!


1 onion finely chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
3 or 4 dried curry leaves
3 dried red kashmiri chilies (typically I would use green chilies, but didn't have any)
2 cups semiya
2 to 3 tablespoons of dried coconut (freshly grated coconut is way better if you have it)
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil six cups of water in a pan and then add the semiya, stirring and cooking for 5 to 6 minutes. When cooked, drain water and set aside. Then, heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan and add mustard seeds till they start to splutter. Next add the rest of the oil and the onions. Cook on low till the onions are soft and translucent. Next add the cashews, curry leaves , coconut and chillies and stir together. Stir in the cooked semiya and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy as a tea time or any time snack!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Coffee Walnut Layer Cake

This week, when I came across an article in the New York Times featuring this Coffee Walnut Layer Cake, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would be making and indulging in it over the weekend! Check out the article by Nigella Lawson, she also shares her Banana Chocolate Chip Tea Cake recipe (yes its from Nov. 2004, but new to me!). http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B06E7DF163EF937A15752C1A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=

The cake was moist and delicious, flavors of coffee and walnuts were so great together. I was surprised that with just a tablespoon of instant coffee that the cake actually had a distinct coffee flavor.

I followed the recipe for the cake religiously. I don't have a food processor (yet!), so I used my blender, which was a bit messy, but worked just fine. Plus the batter was yummy too, so I offered LWTT some, even after protests that it contained raw egg and I could get salmonella etc etc I found myself standing over the sink licking my blender clean! I am not a huge fan of frosting, so for the frosting part I halved the sugar and butter and added about two tablespoons of milk. Even with half the amount of frosting, I had plenty for a layer and also to cover the entire cake.

Taco Nights get a Makeover!

One of the first things that LWTT made for me were Tacos, and soon we would have Taco Night every now and then. While the tacos were great, they were usually from a "taco dinner kit" and reading all the unnecessary items on the ingredients list would give me heart palpitations, so I was on the look out for a healthier option.

I found Blue Corn Taco Shells, and was pleased to see that it was made of blue corn flour and canola oil and nothing else! They are made by Garden of Eatin, I have never heard of them, but will keep an eye out from now on.


For the taco filling, I cooked up some ground turkey (about a pound) in about a tablespoon of olive oil with 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes and seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, salt and pepper with 1/2 a cup of water. I also added some jalapeno. I usually also add parsley or cilantro, but turned out I bought basil as I was in a rush instead. I also made my quick and simple salsa.


Heat taco shells in the oven for 5 minutes or so to make them crispier. Then fill with turkey, salsa and top with cheese (or not).

We enjoyed the tacos with chips and guacamole and some yummy corn that LWTT simply nuked for about 40 seconds or so, and then went on to claim that he made corn! My supermarket simply did not have good avocados, so I found these packets of avocado pulp instead, and the packaging said that all it contained was avocado, lime juice and cilantro. To the pulp I added some chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeno, lime juice and salt. In taste, the guacamole was close to what I would have made, had I used real avocados, but in texture a lot smoother than what I like.

Overall a great meal, and from now on some what Healthier Taco Nights!

Monday, June 23, 2008

French Breakfast Puff's for Taste and Create

I made these French Breakfast Puff's (aka Pouf's) for Taste and Create's June Edition. I was paired up with Temperance of High on the Hog, check out her "poufs" here. http://hoghigh.blogspot.com/2008/05/french-breakfast-puffs.html
Also check out For the Love of Food at http://forfood.rezimo.com/?p=626#comments, Nicole is so kind and hosts this fun event!

The poufs came out great, they were fluffy and cakey, but not cake like. They were so easy to make, I will make these again for brunch perhaps when I have friends over. I got 12 out of the batter, with 4 smaller ones. I have devoured three of them already! I am going to force myself to share the rest with co-workers!

I pretty much followed the recipe, except:

1. Used a tablespoon of mayo instead of 1 egg (I thought I had eggs turned out I didn't!)

2. Used butter for the shortening part

3. Used self rising flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder

4. Used the nutmeg

5. Used a tablespoon of water to thin the batter down a bit.

6. Baked in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, till the edges were browned and a knife in the center came out clean.

7. Used a melted tablespoon of butter and poured a bit on each, and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar (1/2 cinnamon stick ground and mixed with about a tablespoon of sugar).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Indian Alphonso Mangoes

My brother sent me a link to this article mentioning the arrival of Indian Alphonso Mangoes in the US. http://nymag.com/daily/food/2008/06/king_of_all_mangoes_returns_th.html
They were to be available in select Food Emporiums, including one right by me. After dinner, I dragged a curious LWTT and strolled into the Food Emporium by me expecting it to be mobbed by Indians desperate for Alphonso mangoes! But no that is not what I saw. I walked around the fresh produce section, and saw the usual mangoes that you get here. No sign of the Indian Mangoes. I literally scoured the place, and then ...in a basket, with no signage whatsoever, I saw them! They were green and needed to ripen, but each mango was wrapped in white packaging to protect them. I was so ecstatic to find them, and then was also shocked by the price - $4 each! Ahhh... the dilemma! After some soul searching and explaining to LWTT, I picked out 2 and decided to splurge! The lady behind the check out counter reminded me that they were $4 each, I said yes I know, but they are really special and delicious. She laughed at me like I was a fool. She then asked me what was in there, "...gold?". Another woman said "...No, curry!". What a spectacle I was creating. Anyhow, I rushed home with my treasures and nestled them on a nice dish to ripen.

After watching them for about a week, as they were slowly changing color from green to a light yellow, I decided one was ripe and ready to be devoured. I sliced it in the typical way, leaving me with two "cheeks" and the seed in the middle. It smelled divine. I then sunk my teeth in one of the "cheeks" as the juice went running all over my hands, down my wrist, reaching my elbow! Oh I was in heaven, and I tried to savor each bite, reminiscing about my childhood feasting on mangoes every summer, but before I knew it, it was gone! Oh well, I still have one more to enjoy!

And... I peeked into the Food Emporium today and saw Indian Mangoes boldly displayed and were selling 3 for $5! Hmmm... wonder if I will submit myself to this decadence again!

Upma: A quick meal for those hectic days!

We would usually eat Upma at home for breakfast and also for tea. But I made some for dinner. It is quick and simple and you can put in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Upma is made by roasting sooji, which is semolina, although semolina is finer than sooji, which makes this Upma a lot creamier in texture.

My mother makes it with cashew nuts and garnishes with coriander and freshly grated coconut, I didn't have any of those so made a less grand version. It was creamy, spicy and delicious!


1 cup semolina
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water
1/2 an onion chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 tomato finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste


In olive oil saute onions, garlic, tomatoes and peas with spices till well cooked and set aside. Roast semolina in a about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil stirring constantly to not burn for about 10 to 15 minutes. Next stir in onion mixture and stir, pour in water and stir to remove lumps. Season with salt and enjoy warm!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mini Key Lime Pies

Growing up in India, we would eat condensed milk on toast every now and then, and it was such a treat. Condensed milk is sweet, rich and delicious! I bought a can of condensed milk with the intention of eating it with toast or just licking off my fingers, but saw a quick and easy recipe for key lime pie on the can and decided to try it. I also had mini graham cracker pie shells which I used as well. I was going over to a visit a friend, she has a lovely deck (a rarity in New York city) and was going to grill for me, what a treat! I took the mini key lime pies for dessert.

The mini pies were really good. They were cool, tangy, sweet, and with the graham cracker crust even better!


1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of lime juice (about 3 to 4 limes)
1 teaspoon zest of lime
graham cracker mini pie shells (I made 6)
lime slices for garnishing


Mix condensed milk and lime juice till incorporated and then fold in the zest. Pour into pie shells, garnish with lime slices and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. I made them last minute, so chilled in freezer for about an hour and then in fridge till we ate them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bell Pepper Cheese Tartlets for Taste and Create

I had bought these tartlet dishes a while ago because I thought they were so pretty and never really used them. I saw this delightful recipe from Nirmala at Amma's Special and was so excited to use my tartlet dishes.
http://passionatetrials.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/bell-pepper-cheese-tartlets-jfi-bell-pepper/. Nirmala and I got paired up as part of Taste and Create's Spring Edition. The way it works is that you re-create something from your partner's blog. Check out details here http://forfood.rezimo.com/?page_id=606.

I was so happy to be paired up with Amma's Special, as Nirmala has delicious pictures and recipes on her blog, ones that make your mouth water endlessly!

I pretty much followed Nirmala's recipe faithfully, except, I baked my tartlets for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I was so happy with my tartlets! They were so easy to make yet so lovely, and the aroma of bell peppers baking in the oven was heavenly. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks Nirmala! And also thanks to Nicole at For the Love of Food for hosting this event.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Arugula Mango Salad and Polenta with Mushroom and Onions

I made this quick salad and baked polenta for friend who came over for dinner. This is now one of my favorite meals especially as it is practically summer!

For the Arugula Mango Salad, I tossed baby arugula, chopped mango, chopped red bell pepper, sunflower seeds and crumbled feta cheese with olive oil, salt and freshly crushed pepper. This combination was delicious and pretty healthy too!

For the Polenta, I sliced pre-made Polenta into 1/2 inch slices and baked with Parmesan cheese on top. For the topping I sauteed red onion and mushroom in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and dried basil. Garnished with sliced grape tomatoes and you have a feast for the eyes as well!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Souffled Eggs

The New York Times recently had an article about souffled omelette's/eggs and I had wanted to give it a try. I could not find the article, but I sort of remembered how it was to be done so gave it a shot. You can vary the topping depending on what you have. I used onions and tomatoes, but next time will try with mushrooms and cheese as well.

I only used 3 eggs, but was able to fill a whole pie dish. The eggs were soft and puffy like little clouds that would melt in your mouth. I don't think I could go back to a regular omelette after this!


3 eggs separated
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 onion chopped fine
1/2 tomato chopped fine
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons jalapeno finely chopped (optional)
Handful of parsley finely chopped.
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus some for greasing pie dish

Salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste.


Grease pie dish and pre heat oven to 350 degrees. For the topping, saute onions, tomatoes and jalapeno in Olive oil and season with salt and pepper and set aside. Beat egg yolks and milk, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Next using a hand mixer, whisk egg whites till frothy, then add vinegar and beat eggs till soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into yolks but do not over mix. Pour mixture into pie dish and bake for about 5 to 7 minutes or till the top is very slightly browned and firm. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Note: I was not patient enough and when I took it out, the bottom was still runny so I poured the runny part into the onion and tomato mixture to cook and then poured that on the eggs. The eggs still turned out nice and fluffy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bread Beginnings

Saturday afternoon was rainy and pearfect for experimenting with bread making. While the dough was rising I made the Pear and Ginger jam, more so to distract myself from peaking at the dough every few minutes, which however did not really stop me from doing so! For my first attempt at making bread I used this simple recipe I found at busy cooks.

I followed the recipe faithfully except:

1. I used whole wheat flour instead of bread flour.

2. I made 4 slashes on the top instead of 3 : ).

It tasted great with the Pear and Ginger Jam and the usual suspects butter and cheese.The crust was delicious but the inside was a bit dense. Perhaps it was because I used whole wheat flour and not bread flour, or maybe I didn't let it rise enough, didn't knead it enough, who knows! But, I kept staring at and touching my bread in complete disbelief that I had created it! Looking forward to future experiments with bread making, and, overall was quite pleased with my humble bread beginnings!

Pear and Ginger Jam

When my mother was visiting, one evening when walking back to my apartment from the subway she bought some pear and ginger bread. I was intrigued with the combination ever since and so came the idea for pear and ginger jam. However, after some research I realized that I was not the only one to think of this great flavor combination. I saw several recipes for pear and ginger jam and they used crystallized ginger and pectin and I wanted to try something without them because I didn't have them. So I kind of made up a recipe using all my Internet jam knowledge.

The jam was spicy with the ginger and cloves and then when you ate a piece of pear it was sweet but not too sweet. I am hooked on this combination!


5 pears
1 cup of sugar
2 inches of ginger peeled and thinly sliced
20 whole cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 3/4 cup of water.


Core pears and chop into small chunks and toss with lemon juice. Place pears and water in a pot and cook on slow for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add ginger and cloves and bring to a boil for a minute or so and then simmer. Using a potato masher, mash down pears mixture till desired consistency is reached. Add sugar, stir and cook on slow fire for 15 minutes. Next bring to a boil stirring constantly till most of the water is evaporated. The consistency will be syrupy when hot, but will get a jammish consistency when cooled. Pour into hot clean jars when hot. Seal, let cool and then refrigerate. I was able to fill 3 small jars with about a cup of jam in each. I did not sterilise the jars, I have a feeling the jam will go soon and make sterilising not necessary! Now if only I could bake a pearfect loaf of bread to go with it hehe!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Okra with Onions and Tomato (Bhindi Sabji)

When I saw Okra in my local supermarket I picked some up without even thinking about it, as previously I have only seen it in Asian markets. Growing up we had Okra at least once or twice a week as a part of lunch or dinner. Okra is so quick and easy to prepare, delicious and apparently has many nutritional benefits. Although I crave it more just for its unique taste and texture!

Okra prepared this way would have been perfect with Rotis or Parathas (Indian flat bread). But, I ate it with rice and left over curry. Yummy!


About a pound of okra, washed, ends cut and removed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 a tomato chopped fine
1 onion chopped fine (I used a white onion, but red would be even better)
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons of chopped chilies (I used jalapeno)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil


Heat oil in pan and toast cumin seeds. Add onions and brown. Add garlic when onions are almost cooked. Next add coriander powder, chili powder, chillies and stir. Then add okra and cook on medium heat stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomato and stir. Season with salt and serve warm.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am going to DC for the long weekend and thought these chocolate chip cookies would be a nice traveling treat for the train journey. I saw a recipe on joy of baking and went for it. http://www.joyofbaking.com/ChocolateChipCookies.html

I tried to wait for one to cool a bit before I did my taste test, but didn't have much luck with that! The cookie had a cakey light texture and then the melty chocolate was divine! I will definitely make these again, next time with room temperature butter!

I pretty much followed the recipe except:

1. I halved the recipe and got 13 cookies.

2. My butter was not at room temperature, so I cut it in to small pieces added sugar and creamed and then added eggs. I would not recommend this, as the butter and sugar kind of flew around a bit and made a mess! I would ahem stick with room temperature butter next time.

3. I used whole wheat flour

4. Used only granulated sugar and no brown sugar (only coz I didn't have any brown sugar on me)

5. I baked on foil, which I then used to wrap the cookies to take on my journey.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Night Dinner

I made this for a friend who came over for dinner. I have been wanting to make some coconut fish curry for a while. I saw this simple recipe on BBC and thought I would give it a shot. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/coconutfishcurry_74888.shtml
While I really wanted to make fish I "chickened" out instead!

My only experience buying fish was with my mother and occasionally my father in a Chinese or Korean store in Queens that had a live fish tank, and you could pick your fish and they would cut it up for you. Even back then, I could not be part of the selecting and and if the packet of fish touched me by any chance I would not be happy! But when the fish was all cooked and ready I would feast on it. What an ingrate I was! Well, I still have to overcome my fear of buying fish and seafood and when I do I will be sure to report back!

I made some basmati rice to go along with the coconut chicken curry which was so fragrant and also a mango cocktail which was quite delicious. The chicken itself came out well seasoned and tender, but the curry could have been a lot better! I was trying to multi-task with making the mango cocktail and rice and forgot to add the tomato paste before the coconut milk! Overall it was OK, but I will be diligently working on improving my coconut curry making skills!

Update: I think I was too hard on myself, I had some rice and curry today and it was delicious! Maybe it just needed to sit there for a bit for all the flavors to meld together.

Coconut Chicken Curry:

I followed the steps in the BBC coconut fish curry recipe above except:

1. I used boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite size chunks which I marinated in salt and freshly crushed pepper for about 30 minutes before cooking.

2. I used coconut milk instead of coconut cream

3. I used 2 tablespoons of tomato paste instead of chopped tomatoes, and added after the coconut milk.

4. I used red chili powder instead of green chillies.

5. I did not grate onions, instead chopped really fine.

6. Used 1 clove of garlice finely chopped and 1 teaspoon of garlic paste as well.

Mango Cocktail:


1/2 ripe mango peeled and chopped

About 200 ml of spiced rum

1 10 oz bottle of maaza mango juice

Seltzer water

Lime for garnishing


Soak chopped mango in rum for 30 minutes longer if possible. After soaking blend rum and mango (I used am immersion stick blender). Mix rum mixture with maaza and pour into a glass till 3/4 full and top with seltzer and a quick squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Carrot Date and Almond Muffins with Bananas Inside and Sunflower Seeds on Top!

This has been my first full week away from blogging since I started a couple of months ago and it was agonizing! I had a lovely week though with my Mother around. And then, she left yesterday. I got so used to her being around, and even though we got on each others nerves every now and then, I miss her a lot!

After I made the carrot cake when Mother was here, I had mentioned to her that I wanted to try making it substituting bananas for some of the sugar. I also wanted to use sunflower seeds in it somehow. I thought these muffins would be a nice welcome home present for my Mother when she got onto the Internet after a long flight and some rest back in India.

I used pretty much the same recipe as my Aunty Freda's carrot cake recipe. The only things I changed were:

1. Substituted 1 cup of mashed bananas for 1 cup of sugar

2. Used chopped almonds instead of the pecans

3. Sprinkled sunflower seeds on the top and used a spoon to press them in a bit

4. Pre heated oven to 400 degrees and baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then lowered to 350 and baked for another 15 to 20 minutes (25 to 30 minutes in total). Apparently the high temperature makes the muffins puff up.

5. My batter filled a 12 muffin tray (I used paper liners), and I had extra batter which I baked in a square tin.

I tasted one right out of the oven, barely giving it a chance to cool. I cut it in half and it was steaming! It was soooo good, I think the bananas and sunflower seeds give it a couple of extra layers of taste. These are going to become a staple I can tell!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Parmesan Polenta Rounds with "Hearty" Salad

For dinner tonight I used some of my mothers favorite ingredients (polenta, hearts of Palm and artichokes) especially those that you don't get in India easily. We had both done some heavy feasting on the weekend, so this also made for nice quick and light meal.

I had only eaten polenta in restaurants and did a search to find out more. My search revealed that the ready made kind you get in a tube is a lot inferior to the home made kind. This was my first try, so I thought I would experiment with the ready made kind and then later could do a comparison with the home made kind. To go with the polenta I made a "Hearty" salad where I tossed hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, oranges and olives with salt, pepper and olive oil.

The polenta was delicious and I am hooked! It was crisp and parmesany on the top and the bottom part was nice and plump. The "Hearty" salad was surprisingly delicious, considering I didn't do much. I was a bit wary when my mother stood by the kitchen counter and peeled an orange and tossed half of it in the salad! But it worked and it was one of those dishes, where you can focus on the yumminess of each ingredient and one that I kept eating, and each bite was different, one salty, one sweet till it was gone and I wanted more! Plus the polenta and salad complemented each other I thought. I will make both the polenta and this salad again, and they look pretty together too!

Ingredients (Parmesan Polenta Rounds)

A tube of ready made polenta
About a 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly crushed pepper
Dried basil
Olive oil for greasing baking dish


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease baking dish. Slice polenta into about a 1/4 of inch round slices. Place in baking dish. Place about a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese on each round. Sprinkle each round with a pinch of dried basil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes. Eat hot!

Ingredients and Method ("Hearty Salad)

Toss equal portions of bite sized pieces of hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes. I used hearts of palm from a jar and canned artichoke hearts. Add a handful of sliced olives and half an orange peeled and broken into segments. Toss altogether with a teaspoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

I came across Beautiful Bones: An Osteoporosis Food Event hosted by Food Blogga and wanted to participate. http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/2008/04/beautiful-bones-osteoporosis-food-event.html. On her site I saw that quite a few of the ingredients I was going to use for dinner tonight were calcium rich, such as Polenta, Parmesan Cheese, Artichokes, Tomatoes and Oranges! So I am sending this over.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Aunty Freda's Carrot Cake

My mother who is visiting walked me through this recipe. My mother makes this cake quite regularly and learned the recipe from her sister, Freda. Aunty Freda usually makes it on the stove, using a large pan with a base layer of sand, places the baking pan on the layer of sand and then covers the whole thing to create a mini oven. I guess this method is great if you don't have an oven or if your oven breaks down. I tried it using my regular oven.

This cake is not your super sweet or rich carrot cake. Its more heartyish kind of like carrot cake loaf. I made this cake as my contribution for a picnic. It was a great hit and I got a lot of requests for the recipe!


2 cups and 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
2 cups of sugar (I used 1 and 1/3 cup of refined sugar and 2/3 cup of brown sugar, this was not premeditated! Because of this, as suggested by mother I added about 2 tablespoons of milk to make the batter thinner)
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups shredded carrots (My Mom and Aunt use grated carrots)
4 eggs beaten

1 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon baking Soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Oil for greasing 2 square pans
A pinch of salt


Grease baking pans and dust with flour. Mix flour, sugar, nuts, dates, carrots, salt and allspice. Add oil to beaten eggs and then mix with dry ingredients. Stir together till batter is consistent. Let mixture soak together for a hour. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees about ten minutes before baking. Right before baking, add baking powder and soda and mix together till incorporated. Pour into baking pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or till the top is brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Take out, cool (if you can wait!) and enjoy at room temperature.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mushroom and Asparagus Quinoa Risotto and Cornflake Crusted Chicken

My sister had mentioned this Peruvian restaurant close to where she lives that had a Quinoa risotto on their menu and I was really keen to try it out. I did a search and came across this recipe http://www.heythattastesgood.com/2007/12/quinoa-risotto.html. I also saw this recipe for cornflake crusted chicken that I wanted to try http://www.pbs.org/everydayfood/recipes/cornflake_chicken.html. So thought the Quinoa risotto and Cornflake crusted chicken together would make a nice meal for Friday evening.

The Quinoa risotto was great and flavorful and the chicken was crunchy and delicious! I will make this again, as the chicken is baking you can work on the risotto or take care of other stuff!

Ingredients (Quinoa Risotto)

1 cup of Quinoa
About a cup of sliced mushrooms
3 or 4 stalks of asparagus chopped into about 3/4 inch pieces
1 small onion chopped coarsely
1 clove of garlic chopped fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and freshly crushed pepper
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese


Wash and drain quinoa 2 or 3 times and then toast in a heated pan for about 2 minutes stirring. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, heat oil and cook onions till translucent. Then add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add mushrooms and asparagus and thyme and stir. Season with salt and pepper. After a minute or so add the quinoa and then the water and milk. Stir together and cook slowly till liquid is almost absorbed. Make sure to stir every few minutes. Stir in cheese to melt soon before serving.

Ingredients (Cornflake Crusted Chicken)

Chicken pieces (I used drumsticks and chicken thighs)
salt and freshly crushed pepper
seasoning of choice (I used Mrs Dash Italian blend)
1 egg beaten with a tablespoon or two of water
About a cup of cornflakes crushed. (I used my bare hands, but in a plastic bag is probably better)
oil for greasing baking tray.


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Using a knife, cut slits in the drumsticks and using a fork jab the chicken all over. Season with salt, pepper and Mrs Dash on side and then other. Use hand to rub seasonings all over chicken. Next dip each piece of chicken in the egg and then cover with cornflakes and place in baking dish. Bake chicken for about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Falafel and Hummus

I have tried making falafels previously, but from a box, and so wanted to try making them from scratch. I came across this recipe at http://bakingbites.com/2005/01/oven-baked-falafel/, however, when I was making them I did not have my computer so I kind of used my memory and improvised as I went along!

I did not bake them, but instead pan fried them. I also added 2 tablespoons of flour to thicken the paste. They came out great and nicely seasoned, with a slight crunch on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. I ate them with pita's warmed on the stove and some grape tomatoes, and umm some hummus that did not come out that great! I made a lot of the hummus by mistake, so I still have a chance to salvage it by adjusting seasoning I am guessing! I will report back on any progress!


1 can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking powder
About a cup of parsley
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder (I used whole cumin that I crushed)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
oil for frying


Wash and drain chickpeas. Blend chickpeas, parsley, seasonings and water till it is a smooth but grainy paste. I used a blender, and I used a spatula to move the mixture down so everything was incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Place mixture in bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you make hummus! Take out from fridge and fold in the flour. This makes it easier to hold the shape. Next mix in the sesame seeds, make small balls and then flatten and pan fry. From the pan frying I learned that you should put the pan on high heat, then place the falafels on the pan let it be for a minute or two then add a tablespoon of oil and then flip and cook on other side for a couple of minutes. This way you get that nice brown crunchy outside.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cakes

I have been dying to try these molten chocolate cakes. I did a Google search and saw a recipe on Joy of Baking. http://www.joyofbaking.com/MoltenChocolateCakes.html. It seemed simple enough with not a whole lot of ingredients and a few simple steps.

I followed the recipe except that I did not have cream of tartar and a quick search revealed that I could use white vinegar as a substitute. Apparently cream of tartar and white vinegar act as stabilizing agents and keep egg whites nice and stiff when you beat them into soft peaks. Also, when I started measuring and preparing I realized I had just 2 eggs instead of 3 like the recipe asks for. But I was already melting the chocolate and butter! So I decided to carry on with the experiment!

Overall they came out great. They rose nicely and then fell to reveal the chocolate gooeyness in the center. The outsides were light and crunchy and the middle was intense chocolate heaven! I will make these again, but perhaps use a bit less sugar and the additional egg.


1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted

butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170 grams)
semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (I used 60% bitter-sweet ghiradelli chips)
3 large
eggs, separated (I used 2 eggs)
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white
1 teaspoon pure
vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (I used white vinegar)
1 tablespoon granulated white


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and grease 4 ramekins with butter (my batter filled 5 ramekins/cups). Melted the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl that I propped on a pan of water on low heat. I used a spatula to mix it through and make sure it didn't burn. Take it off the heat when its all melted and incorporated, but keep on the pan so it stay warm and liquidy. Next I separated the eggs, and measured the sugar. I beat the yolks and 1/3 cup sugar using an electric handheld mixer till thick and creamy and a light yellow color. Then I added the vanilla and beat for a minute to incorporate. Next I folded the chocolate mixture into the yolks and set aside. In another bowl beat the egg whites and tablespoon of sugar and when frothy add vinegar and beat till soft peaks form. Next fold the stiff egg whites into the chocolate mixture, do not over mix. Pour into ramekins leaving about an inch at the top. Bake for 10 minutes and then check. They should have risen, but the center is still shaking. Turn the oven off, but leave them in there for a couple of minutes. Take out and serve soon with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy chocolatey goodness!