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.

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.
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. 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 I also saw this recipe for cornflake crusted chicken that I wanted to try 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, 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. 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!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Apple Cornflake Crumble

My mother used to make this dessert with apples and a crunchy cornflake topping that we loved! With a scoop of vanilla ice cream it was even more heavenly. Anyhow, I asked mother dearest how to make it and little did I know that she used to make it when she had extra apples lying around! I always thought it was a special dessert and difficult to make! I added a couple of things and adapted her recipe.

I must admit that I forget to add the flour to the topping, so I had loose cornflakes and sliced almonds floating on top of baked apple goodness! Initially I was not going to share this recipe till I got it right, but it tasted so good that I felt compelled to share it right away! The recipe below shows how to do the topping correctly. It still tasted great though, and my apartment smelled divine when it was in the oven!

Mother says, you can use any fruit for the bottom layer, and the juicier the fruit, the more flour you would add to thicken the juices. For the topping you can use any kind of nuts along with the cornflakes.


3 granny smith apples, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
1/4 cup orange juice (mother uses a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice with sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
About a cup of cornflakes
2 tablespoons of sliced almonds
1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds (this was my addition)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoons butter melted


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish with butter. Arrange apples in the baking dish. Mix orange juice, 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and then pour all over the apples. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on apple. To make the topping, mix the cornflakes, 1 tablespoon of flour, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture on top of apples evenly. Pour melted butter all over the topping. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until apple is cooked and soft and the top is crunchy. If the top appears to be getting burnt, cover with foil and continue baking. Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream.

Pasta Mama

I made this dish with stuff I had in my fridge and added some kalamata olives which my mother loves. I did not know what to call this dish and so, since it was for my mother, Pasta Mama it was!

It turned out really good and each bite had more flavors to discover. I will make this dish again, it was so quick and delicious!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion chopped coarsely
1 clove of garlic chopped finely
About 2 cups of Arugula
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup kalamata olives sliced in half
salt and freshly crushed pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Cooked pasta (I used linguine)


Heat oil in pan and cook onions till translucent. Add garlic and cook stirring for a minute or so. Add tomatoes from the can including all liquid. Add sage, basil and thyme and stir. Next add the arugula and stir to wilt. Add olives, season with salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm over pasta with crumbled feta cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Green Bean Almondine

I made this for my mother who wanted "western food". We ate this with some pasta. It made for a great side dish! I will definitely make this again and its so simple, healthy and tastes good. Does not get better than that!


About a cup and half of green beans with their ends chopped off
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
About 6 grape tomatoes sliced in half
Juice of half a lime
salt and freshly crushed black pepper


Heat oil in pan and cook green beans, till tender but still crisp and crunchy. Stir often to not char the beans. I think they were on for about 5 minutes I could be wrong. Add almonds and stir till almonds are toasted. Toss in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add lime juice and mix together. Serve warm.