November 13, 2018

Chocolate almond barfi

Chocolate almond barfi


Happy Diwali everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful celebrations with your friends and family. It was wonderful to get friends and family spend some time together.

This Diwali, I decided to make this dessert on an impulse - Chocolate almond barfi or fudge. The texture was indeed fudge-like, not the kora pak we Bengalis like to call it. Chewy with the almond and chocolate, it was quite delicious.

I even added in some white chocolate chips on top to entice the little ones, but they stayed away. The adults, on the other hand, all enjoyed the barfi.

Festivals have a way of bringing up all the food memories of sharing food during festivals, people who made it special, and of eating and cooking. I was on my way back from work and I heard a cookbook author on NPR echo those same thoughts.

And Fall is full of these festivals and celebrations. Birthdays, Diwali, soon Thanksgiving and Christmas. How do you like to celebrate these special moments?

Ingredients:
(makes about 12-15 squares)
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup besan or chickpea flour
2 tbspoon cocoa powder
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup ghee
1 1/2 cup sugar

Method:
Take some ghee and coat a plate you would be using later. Set it aside.

Then, take a tbspoon of ghee and heat it on a thick bottomed pan. Roast the chickpea flour till the raw smell disappears. Set it aside.

Add the sugar in the pan along with the milk. Once the sugar dissolves, add in the ghee. Then slowly, a few tbspoons at a time, add in the almond flour, chickpea flour, cocoa powder. Make sure to mix it well together so there are no lumps.

Keep stirring the mix for about 10-15 minutes on medium low heat till it leaves the sides.

Chocolate almond barfi

Transfer it on a plate and let it cool. Add in some almond flakes or chocolate chips on top. Cut and make squares and serve.

November 04, 2018

Confetti cake

Funfetti or confetti cake


Just as we wind up Halloween, I stay up trying to make a cake for Tiny M who is coming up on 6 years. Not a little guy anymore!

His request for this year were confetti cake and Pokemon cookies. So when they went to bed, I browsed through recipes and zeroed in on Smitten Kitchen's recipe.  I wanted to make a two-layer cake, so I doubled up her recipe except egg whites partly because I had only 3 eggs at home and it was too late to get more.  I also had vanilla bean paste at hand and used it. The only thing I did not double was the sprinkle measurement, but it was close.

Let me tell you, her idea of using cornstarch in this cake is genius! I haven't used cornstarch in cakes before and wasn't so sure, but I went with the directions.  It made the cake soft and the white cake also pops the colors of the sprinkles.

I used whipped cream instead of the butter cream for some lightness and a little sprinkles to round it off.

Ingredients:
(recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 and 1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tspoon salt
3 large egg whites
1 cup buttermilk (I just made it from yogurt)
2 tspoon baking powder
4 tbspoon cornstarch
1/2 tspoon vanilla bean paste or 2 tspoon vanilla essence

Frosting
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tspoon vanilla bean paste

Method:
Heat the oven to 350degF and butter and flour your cake pans. Set them aside.

Now mix the sugar and butter for 3-4 minutes till it mixes well. Add the egg whites one at a time till the mixture looks fluffy.

Then add in the vanilla paste and the buttermilk and I couldn't say it better than what Deb says in her blog - it starts to look like curdled milk or fresh paneer. Don't be alarmed. It's okay.

Add in the cornstarch and baking powder and mix it well together. Then add in the flour till it all mixes well.

Now add in the sprinkles and fold it in with a spatula, but be careful. The color from the sprinkles will start to run, so avoid too much mixing.

Separate it in two pans and bake. Mine took 24 minutes so anywhere between 20-25 minutes till the toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool. Make the whipped cream right before it's ready to be served.

For the whipped cream, mix heavy whipping cream with sugar and vanilla and mix till the soft peaks form.

Funfetti or confetti cake
Now spread some whipped cream evenly between the two layers and all around the cake.

Use some sprinkles for decorations and serve.

October 19, 2018

Malai chamcham, the long way by accident

Malai chamcham


Shubho bijoya everyone. Here the temperatures dropped right before the pujo, so it has been a lot colder this year.

But that doesn't dampen the festival spirits, right? Even though the work week is busy and regular stuff and pujo is over the weekend, it's fun to make something special during the week.

Growing up, Durga pujo was more about meeting friends, fun, and eating out more than the religion part, and I am hoping that kids get some of those moments too. Even if it means carrying the Pokemon tins, chess boards and coordinating with friends.

It turned out to be fun, they sat around and played chess and games while we caught up on our end.

During the week, I made malai chamcham. I didn't intend to make it the long way, but it turned out to be so. I forgot to follow the advice I give out here and put sugar in the heavy cream in the beginning. So I started over again for malai, this time with whole milk. The result of it all - delicious malai chamchams, that reminded us of sweet goodness during the busy work week.

Here is how I made it:


September 25, 2018

Squash bounty

Summer squash with paprika

It's that time in the farmer's market when every vendor is eager to get rid of their zucchinis and summer squashes.

They are plentiful, there are everywhere and they are cheap. And pretty much every time I go, I pick up some. You can get a nice long one for a dollar or a mix for a couple of bucks.

I planted a few zucchini plants this summer, but I didn't get any zucchinis. I got a lot of flowers, but no zucchinis, but with farmer market I have nothing to worry about.

This is the new favorite - zucchins and squashes strifried with some curry leaves and paprika. It turned out really good, and we munched on some as an appetizer while we waited for the rice and dal to be done.

September 18, 2018

Lemon rice or lime rice? It's still delicious

Lemon rice


I am finding it's hard to come back to regular blogging after taking a break. The time is taken up by other things - taking kids to their appointments, work, laundry, you name it.

But that doesn't mean that I am not cooking, or am not as excited when I try a new recipe. Slowly, but surely I am making my way back here.

For Ganesh chaturthi this year, we had some friends over to make for modaks and idlis. There was lemon rice, coconut rice, sambar, bhaji, chutney, fried stuffed anaheim peppers and vermicelli payasam to go with it.

My MIL makes the best lemon rice. She makes it whenever she is visiting and this time I made it using her recipe. I didn't have lemons so I substituted lime. It turned out great.

It is a staple around festivals so I am noting it here. I haven't added any nuts, but some peanuts or cashews also taste great in it.

July 20, 2018

Cucumber, herbs and onion salad for summer

Cucumber, herb and onion salad


If you follow my Instagram, you know that I just harvested a couple of cucumbers from the garden. I planted cucumbers for the first time last year and liked getting cucumbers for a quick salad from the garden when they were ready.

This year, the cucumber plants have sort of taken over the garden. There are two pepper plants growing next to them, but are now completely hidden by these massive cucumber plants.

I am wondering if I should move the pepper plants. Do you think it will survive the move?

I took both the cucumbers and used it for dinner last night. I cut some cucumber for the kids and for us, I made a quick cucumber salad. For this sudden inspiration, I just used what was available at home, and like most of the recipes here can be customized to your ingredients and taste.

I used basil and parsley - herbs growing in the front porch. But cilantro and mint would taste good too. I used aged cheddar cheese but feta would also be a good option. The onions give a kick so I would recommend it.

Add a slice of crusty bread and it can make a good lunch option too.

July 16, 2018

Vietnamese summer rolls

Vietnamese summer rolls


It's been a while since Nicole and I did a cooking play date. We were finally able to find a time to cook together and we decided on making some Korean bibin bap.

It turned out great, except, we forgot to take pictures. We were so busy talking and having fun that it totally slipped our minds to take pictures. I promise to come back with the recipe and step by step picture.

But I do have some summer rolls to share with you. This is what you need to survive the hot summer -- with some crunch, fresh herbs and a tangy dip.

Your need a rice paper, some fresh vegetables, maybe some protein and some fresh herbs. The rolling is the key and once you do a couple the rest will get easy. The only trick is to do it quick, before the paper gets too sticky.

May 26, 2018

Lime and sour cream bundt cake

Lime and sour cream cake


I stumbled upon this recipe while making a cake for a colleague's baby shower. I had a whole bunch of limes and while I came across lemon and sour cream cake recipes, I didn't find any for lime. But one can hardly go wrong, right?

So I substituted and made some small changes and the lime and sour cream recipe is ready. If you are entertaining or going for a get together on memorial day, this is a great and easy cake for the occasion.

The tartness of the lime glaze on top really adds freshness to the cake. 

May 16, 2018

Enchorer Kalia

Enchorer Kalia


Summers in India meant mangoes and jackfruits. Growing up, we would visit my thankuma's bari (paternal grandmom) every summer and it was a feast of the summer fruits - jamrul, aam, kathal to name a few.

There are mango trees in the yard and a huge jackfruit tree in the front which would be laden with giant jack fruits. We would eat aam (mangoes) and kathal or enchor as it is called in bengali almost with every meal. 

The ripe jackfruit has a sweet smell and is eaten as a fruit. The unripe one (enchor) is sticky and is generally cooked as a vegetable. 

It has been a while since I had some. So when I found some frozen one in the Indian store, I picked it up. I cooked it very much like a fish or a chicken kalia with onions and ginger garlic. I didn't add any potatoes or shrimp although both of them are popular choices and go very well with enchor or jackfruit. 

April 18, 2018

Bok choy chicken stir fry

Bok choy chicken

Flu visited our home this year! After reading all the news reports on how bad the outcomes for flu cases were I was super nervous when Tiny M tested positive for flu.

I armed myself with a big pot of chicken noodle soup, kichudi and saar bhath along with fever medicine, and nebulizer. After a week of tension and high fever, thankfully we are all on the other side and bouncing back.

The taste buds are craving some spices now, so I made this quick stir-fry with the chicken leftover from the chicken noodle soup. The cooked chicken reduced the cooking time.

The bok choy and the chilli-garlic sambal paste picked up from Asian store and came in handy for the stir fry. I really liked the combination, so the next day I added some red peppers and celery and made another batch. That tasted even better.

I recently saw another chicken recipe that I am craving to make now - miso chicken. Has anybody tried it? 

It's quick to make and is a great side dish with either rice or chapati.

March 23, 2018

Butternut squash chicken

Pumpkin chicken


This recipe comes from the depth of winter, on a Friday. It was too cold and snowy outside, and I was getting ready to make dinner.

Chicken curry was on the menu and what is a chicken curry that does not have some chunky potatoes that soaks up the flavor, right? As I went to the pantry I realized there were no potatoes. No Potatoes! I searched the fridge to see if I had half-potato lurking in the back. No luck.

Then I saw the half butternut squash hanging out in the fridge and I wondered if the squash could be added. It was too cold, too late to go out.

So I decided to substitute potatoes with squash and  chicken curry with the butternut squash. Guess what?  Everyone loved it. The sweetish notes of the squash with the garam masala and chicken were natural partners. In, fact we liked it so much that I have made chicken curry with potatoes and squash many times since that snowy evening.

March 04, 2018

Alu pyazkoli diye tilapia macher jhol (tilapia curry with potatoes and spring onions)

Tilapia curry with green onions and potato

There is something about the sunlight that tells me that spring is near even though we had a snow storm yesterday. And when Aswin got some spring onions this week, I knew some macher jhol or fish curry has to be made.

I usually have to defrost the fish and I get lazy which means fish curries have not been a frequent occurrence in this new year, but this time I did it right away.

In a few hours, the fish was being sauteed, and the fish curry was bubbling away. My father makes delicious patla macher jhol (a light soupy curry), and I took inspiration from that to make this tilapia jhol with lomba patla aalu (long, thin potato strips).

I added some panko to the tilapia right before frying which added an extra crunchiness to the fish. So if you see any spring onions in the store, pick up a bunch and make this. The tilapia can easily be substituted with cod or white fish.

January 05, 2018

Starting the year right - pasta, garbanzo beans salad

Pasta, garbanzo beans salad

The end of the year went by quickly, the fall was busy with some travel.

I was in Boston in October and right across from the hotel was Eatly. So before I had to leave, I did a quick tour of the store and picked up different kinds of pasta.

I used one of them to make a pasta salad in the new year. It says on the packet that it is a Sardinian pasta . The shape and size was perfect for the salad, the kids called it a worm pasta and Aswin called it larvae pasta.

Despite the name challenge, we all enjoyed it. Aswin and I ate the pasta salad which is really easy to put together. The kids ate a deconstructed version of the same salad - veggies, garbanzo beans and pasta separate.

How about you? Hope your New Year is starting on a good note.

Ingredients:
1 cup small pasta - boiled
1 cup boiled garbanzo salad
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped avocado
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped carrots

For the dressing:

bunch or cilantro and parsley - chopped
1/4 tspoon smoked paprika powder
1/4 tspoon roasted cumin seed powder
1/4 tspoon fresh ground black pepper powder
1 tbspoon lime/lemon juice
1 tbspoon oliveoil
salt to taste

Method:
Pasta, garbanzo beans salad
The ingredients list may sound long, but it really depends on what you have at home. You can always substitute one vegetable or ingredient for another.

I made it as a warm  salad (especially with the cold weather) by freshly boiling the pasta and garbanzo beans and mixing the vegetable in the still warm mix.

I like to add the mix all the dressing ingredients separately, but you can also add them directly in the salad mix.

Mix it serve immediately.Enjoy!

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