Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Creamy Kadhai Paneer

Paneer...An all time favorite at my house specially with my husband! He can have paneer any time any day. Paneer and bell peppers are cooked in a kadhai in a creamy onion tomato gravy and added are dry powdered fenugreek leaves that gives it a distinct nice flavor.

This is very easy to prepare and is a perfect entree to go with Butter Naan, Poori's or Parantha's. If you too are a paneer lover, you must try this gravy and trust me, this one is a stealer!

Here is the recipe (Click here for printable version)

2 cups cubed paneer
2 medium bell pepper (washed and cut into thin long strips)
1 large onion ( chopped into big pieces)
3 tomatoes (chopped into big pieces)
1 tbsp chopped ginger
2 large green chillies
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp red chilli powder (or per taste)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Asafoetida- a pinch
Salt- to taste
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp dry powdered fenugreek leaves

1. Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a pan. Then add the ginger, green chillies and onions. Saute it until onions turn translucent. Then add the tomatoes and saute it until they become a little tender. Turn off the gas and let it cool for a while.
2. Once the mixture cools, add it to the blender and mash it into a puree.
3. Now heat the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee in the pan and add asafoetida. Then add the cumin seeds and as they start to change color, add the strips of bell pepper.
4. Saute the bell pepper and as they start to turn tender (not mushy), add the pureed mixture. Let the mixture cook while stirring in between till it starts to become a little dry.
5. Then add all the dry spices and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of water and let it cook until the water is soaked up and the mixture starts to leave oil from the sides.
6. Add the 1/2 cup of milk and stir it for 2 minutes. Then add the paneer cubes and let it cook on medium low heat. You can add more water if required. (depends on the thickness of gravy you like)
7. When the paneer is almost done ( about 5-7 minutes), add the fenugreek leaves and let it cook for 1 more minute.
8. Serve hot with your favorite bread. (Don't forget to garnish with coriander leaves....like i forgot :P )

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas with Key Lime Pie

Wish you all a Merry Christmas! Hope all of you aree having fun with your family and friends. We too are with our family for this whole weekend and having fun! I ran an event on my facebook page and asked people about their favorite Christmas dessert and I was supposed to pick 2 recipes from them to bake during the Christmas week. I picked Key Lime Pie and Fruit Cake suggested by my cousin and friend respectively.

My cousin doesn't have much of a sweet tooth and only likes those cakes (strictly non-chocolate) that are loaded with fruits. When he asked me to bake a Key Lime Pie, I decided to make it as I was sure with this there isn't gonna be a fight feeding him dessert :D 

I had never eaten a Key Lime Pie ( Somehow never felt like tasting a tart dessert).....So I quickly googled and settled on Martha Stewart's website for the recipe and the only change I did is added a little sugar too to make sure the pie is not too tarty and reduced the amount of zest.

As I had never tasted a lime pie before; my cousin was the judge for the recipe. I was so happy to hear that this Key Lime Pie turned out great and he really liked it. :) Everyone in the family loved the pie including me and next time I won't hesitate to try a tart dessert :)

Check out the recipe (Click here for printable version)

For Crust and Pie filling:
1 and 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
5 tbsp white sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 can (14oz) condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lime juice ( squeezed freshly from KEY Limes )
freshly grated zest of 3 small limes.

For Cream:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 tbsp sugar

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degress F. Combine crushed graham crackers, metled butter and 3 tbsp sugar in a bowl and mix nicely. Then press into a 9-inch pie plate and bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool completely over a wire rack.
2. Lower oven to 325 degree F. In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, 2 tbsp sugar and the zest. Pour into the prepared cooled crust.
3. Bake the pie in oven for 15-17 minutes until the center is set but still quivers when you nudge the pan.
4. Let it cool completely on wire rack and refrigerate later.
5. Right before serving, whisk the heavy cream and 1 tbsp of sugar in ur electric mixer with whisk attachment or electric hand blender until it forms soft peaks. Spread it over the cooled pie.

Enjoy the dessert!

Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays. I'll be back with Fruit Cake soon.
Sending this to Champa's Bake Off Event.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Potato Stuffed Spicy Baked Mushrooms

It was an impromptu decision to make these today. I had already prepared the lunch and all was set. Opened my refrigerator and saw I had a few button mushrooms left that should be put to use soon enough or else they may spoil. At first I thought let me make Mushroom Peas gravy and we will be done for the dinner. Then don't know what came to my mind, I decided to make these stuffed baked mushrooms, probably because I had one more leftover I could put to use. I had made aloo paranthas in the morning and had some potato mixture left in the fridge. I am glad I made these baked mushrooms .....These were delicious! We enjoyed having them as a snack.

 My husband poped one HOT mushroom in his mouth (as soon as they came out of oven) and it was a fun show to watch him jumping afterwards :D

These were so perfectly spiced, baked well and smelled so heavenly! And these are one of the quick and easiest appetizers/snack to make.

Here is the recipe (Click here for printable version)

12-15 button mushrooms-large, washed and stemmed
1 large potato (boiled and mashed)
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 medium green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
some cheese (i used pepperjack) to sprinkle.
some red chilli flakes, dried oregano, parsley and basil.
Some parmesan cheese flakes or you can use the shredded dried parmesan cheese.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degree F.
2. Make a mixture for the stuffing by adding potatoes, onions, green chillies, chopped ginger, garam masala, red chilli powder together in a bowl and mix well.
3. Now add the potato mixture filling to the top in each mushroom.
4. Now sprinkle some shredded pepperjack cheese on each mushroom. Then sprinkle some of red chilli flakes, oregano, parsley and basil. Finally top it off with some parmesan cheese.
5. Arrange the mushrooms on a greased baking sheet and bake the mushrooms for about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy them warm (not HOT ) :D

Sending this to Champa's Bake Off Event.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrating 100 posts with Pineapple Sponge Cake!

I was in India when my blog completed its 1 year so I couldn't make anything special and celebrate. Yesterday I posted my 100th recipe and I was so happy after posting it. I didn't want to miss celebrating this time and hence decided to bake a cake for the occasion. Pineapple Sponge Cake -- I am sure it takes everyone (who belongs to India) down a memory lane. This is one of the best cakes you get from the bakeries back in India. Whether India won a cricket match or after school/college results(of-course good results :P), a happy family moment or a mid-night birthday celebration- Pineapple Sponge Cake was everyone's choice!

This cake is so soft (I think it's evident from the name- Sponge Cake) with delicious chunks of pineapple and fluffy creamy icing. Yum! Yum!

I loved baking and decorating this cake. I think I should decorate my cakes more often so that I get to improve every time I do it. I would love to take some professional cake decorating classes and make beautiful icings and cake decorations.

I adapted the recipe of Sponge from Martha Stewart's website and made some small changes to match my taste.
Look how fluffy and spongy this is!
Here is the recipe (click here for printable version)

For Sponge Cake
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs (separated)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For Icing
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3.5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp imitation rum extract

For filling and decoration
Pineapple chunks (you can use fresh pineapple or use the canned ones that comes in pure pineapple juice)
I used Dole's pineapple chunks and used the juice to sprinkle the cake. Also some cherries would be nice.

Sugar water (1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup of water)

Preparing the Sponge Cake:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9-inch baking tray.
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Keep aside.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or using electric hand blender) using whisk attachment, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla essence and 1/2 cup of sugar on high speed until thick and pale. The mixture will double in amount. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to a bowl and clean and wipe dry the mixer bowl and whisk attachment.
4. Now beat the egg whites with rest 1/2 of sugar at medium speed until stiff and glossy about 3-4 minutes.
5. Fold the egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture and mix lightly with the use of a spatula.
6. In three additions, add the flour mixture mixing lightly after each addition.
7. Now transfer the batter to the greased baking pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.
10. Let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Preparing the icing:
1. Put the bowl of your electric mixer and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 minutes.
2. Add the heavy cream and sugar in the chilled bowl and using whisker attachment beat for high speed until it forms a soft peak. It won't take more than 2-3 minutes.

Assembling the cake:
1. Cut the cake in half horizontally using a sharp knife to make a 2 layer cake. You can also make a 3 layer if you want.
2. Now sprinkle some sugar syrup and pineapple juice on the 1st half of the cake. Spread a layer of icing and some pineapple chunks.
3. Put the second layer on the cake. Poke the cake at some places using a fork and sprinkle the sugar syrup and pineapple juice.
4. Now cover the whole cake with icing and even the top and sides with a help of a flat spatula or cake decorating spatulas.
5. Decorate as you like with cream, pineapple and cherries.
6. Chill the cake in the refrigerator.

Serve chilled!  Ehh..I think you got some icing on your upperlip....or should i say a moustache!! :D

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kashmiri Dum Aloo for ICC and some Awards

I am back from a wonderful, relaxing and fun vacation. Cancun is beautiful, beaches are so nice and water is so clear! We did some water sports, long walks along the beaches, enjoyed the mariachi music.......total fun vacation! Now we are back to our sweet home and I am back to my blogging. By the way, this is my 100th post. I should definitely make something sweet next to celebrate my 100th post :)

Today I prepared Kashmiri Dum Aloo for the Indian Cooking Challenge. Srivalli provided the recipe but I also surfed and looked over a few other recipes. Did some small modifications and prepared these delicious Kashmiri Dum Aloo.

Dum aloo belongs to North Indian or more specifically Kashmiri cuisine. Baby potatoes are first fried and then cooked under low pressure in yogurt based gravy. This is the first time I prepared this gravy and really liked it. Its so delicious with a blend of so many different spices. Fennel seeds powder really brings out the flavor of the gravy.

Here is the recipe ( Click here for the printable version)

Baby potatoes- 16-18
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp, roasted and ground into a powder
Garam masala- 3/4 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder- 2 tsp
Fresh yogurt- 1 and 1/2 cups
Green cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp
Ginger powder- 1 tsp
Fennel powder- 1 tbsp
Mustard oil- 3 tbsp
Cloves roasted and powdered- 4-5
Asafoetida- a pinch
Vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil- to deep fry potatoes
Salt- to taste
Hot water- 1/2 cup

1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly and prick all over with a fork.
2. Keep the potatoes in salted warm water for 15 minutes, then drain and wipe dry.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and deep fry the potatoes until golden brown from outside. Drain on a kitchen towel and set aside. After they cool a little bit, prick the potatoes once again with a fork.
4. Whisk the yogurt with kashmiri red chilli powder, fennel powder, ginger powder and cardamom powder.
5. Add the fried potatoes and let it sit for 15 minutes.
6. Now heat the mustard oil in a pan and add a pinch of asafoetida and the powdered cloves. Let it splutter for a few seconds and then add the 1/2 cup of hot water and salt. Let the water come to a boil.
7. Add in the yogurt potato mixture and mix.
8. Cover the pan with a tight lid and let it cook on a medium low flame for 15 minutes or until the potatoes absorb the gravy and oil surfaces.
9. Sprinkle the garam masala and cumin powder.

Serve Hot with Naan, Roti or Poori :)

And now let me say thanks to KonstantKraver for the Lovely Blog Award. I am truly touched. According to the rule, I have to pass it on to 15 deserving blogger but I think you all deserve it for the lovely recipes you post by taking time out of your hectic schedules. So please copy this award and flaunt at your page.

Second, I won an award from Lakshmi of Cook it up with love. I submitted my recipe of Creamy Apple Cinnamon Pockets for her event and won this Creative Chef Award. Thanks a lot Lakshmi. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Veggie Puff Pattice

As promised in my last post, here I am with another puff pastry recipe. This time a savory one. As I said, these puff pastries are so easy to work with. One can make puff pastry dough at home but its a long process. I do intend to try making that and I hope I accomplish when I do that.

I remember, veggie puff pattice were a staple snack for us back in college. Everyday after the class, we (friends) would go to the college canteen and have these veggie pattice with tomato ketchup and drink coke and never would get bored of these pattice; not that we didn't have more options; but this is what we all loved to eat.

By the way, as you are reading this recipe, I am away in Cancun, Mexico vacationing and having a great time with my husband celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary. :)
I had set the time and date for this post to publish and i will read all your lovely comments when I get back after 4 days.

Meanwhile from me to you --

Recipe for Veggie Puff Pattice (Click here for printable version)

1 puff pastry (half of 17.3 ounce package of frozen puff pastry package)
1 cup boiled, peeled and finely chopped potatoes
3/4 cup mix veggies boiled ( I used the frozen mix veggies)
1/4 cup crumbled paneer (cottage cheese)
2 green chillies (finely chopped)
1 tbsp coriander leaves (finely chopped)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
salt and red chilli powder to taste
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp melted butter

1. Defrost puff pastry per instructions on the package.
2. In a pan, heat oil. Add cumin seeds to hot oil and as it starts to change color, add the green chillies.Let it saute for 15-20 sec.
3. Then add all dry spices and let the spices cook in oil for 15-20 sec. Then add the potatoes, paneer and veggies. Mix it well and let it cook for 5-7 minutes until the spices are blended well. Take it off the gas, add coriander leaves,mix and let the mixture cool down.
4. Now, roll the pastry on a floured surface to 16x12 inch rectangle.
5. Using a sharp knife cut the pastry sheet into squares of atleast 2 x 2 inch if you want smaller but more pattice and bigger if you want bigger and less pattice.
6. Using a pastry brush, remove the excess flour of the pastry sheet.
7. Now spoon the mixture diagonally in every square. Brush water on the edges and seal the edges together in shape of a triangle (or any other shape you may like).
8. Place the prepared triangles on a greased baking tray and keep the baking tray in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
9. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the pattice top with belted butter.Bake the pattice in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes.

 Serve warm with tomato ketchup. Yum! Yum! Yum!

Sending this to Champa's Bake Off Event and Lakshmi's Creative Chef Awards Contest.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Creamy Apple Cinnamon Pockets

I love puff pastry sheets. They are so useful and handy to work with and they fluff up so nicely. There are so many things that you can make with these sheets right from strudels to patties to spring rolls and what not!
I too made a couple of things today with these puff pastry sheets for snacks. One sweet recipe and one savory. My next post is going to be about the savory one. :)

For now let's enjoy these flaky, puffy creamy apple cinnamon pockets.

 I did not follow any recipe but made up my own based on what I had in hand. These turned out so perfect and delicious. These pockets melt away in your mouth as you bite them. We enjoyed having these as snacks in the evening.

Here is the recipe (click here for the printable version)

1 puff pastry (that's half off 17.3 ounce package of frozen puff pastry)
1 apple (peeled, cored, very finely chopped)
1/8 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp milk (for milk wash or if u like darker color of crust, use egg-wash)

Sugar Glaze (optional)
1/8 cup sugar + 1 tbsp water

1. Thaw the puff pastry per instructions on the package.
2. After the pastry dough becomes easy to handle (after about an hour), roll it on a floured surface to approx 16x12 inch rectangle. ( i didn't measure with a tape :P that's why approx :D )
3. Using a pastry brush remove the excess flour from the sheet.
4. Now using a sharp knife, make 4 cuts lengthwise and 5 cuts horizontally giving you about 20 squares.
5. In a bowl, take sour cream and mix sugar and cinnamon to it. Then add the apples and raisins and coat them well.
6. Spoon the mixture in the center of the square. Brush the edges with milk, bring the edges together in a any shape you like, I used rectangle, and seal by pressing the together. Repeat with all the squares.
7. Now using a sharp knife, make 2-3 small slits on top of each pocket.
8. Place the prepared pockets on a greased baking tray and put the tray in the refrigerator for 15-20 min.
9. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F while your pockets are in the fridge.
10. Once the oven is pre-heated, take out the baking tray from the fridge, brush the top of the pockets with milk and put it in the oven.
11. Bake for 10-12 minutes.They will be perfectly browned from bottom, light golden from top and perfectly flaky and puffy.
12. Drizzle some glaze on the top and serve.

PS: Let the pockets cool down on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before you start hogging on to them else you will end up burning your mouth :)

Sending these to Champa's Bake Off Event. and Lakshmi's Creative Chef Awards Contest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Banana Zucchini Cake

Few zucchini's sitting unused in the refrigerator, one over-ripe banana and a book called Chocolate & Zucchini at your kitchen book stand! What do you do? I did exactly what anyone else who loves baking would have done. Quickly run through the recipes and find delicious looking Chocolate & Zucchini Cake. It looked interesting. Although my husband raised an eyebrow, looked puzzled and questioned with a wrinkled nose- Zucchini in a Cake? Won't that be weird?... hehehe.!

I decided to make some changes in the recipe like reducing egg, adding more sugar, also banana. I didn't want to waste the fruit and also as we all know
chocolate+banana= heavenly

Therefore, chocolate+zucchini+banana= Heavenly Delicious!

I went by the equation, and made this gooey, heavenly delicious chocolate banana zucchini cake with sugar sprinkled on the top. Trust me, no-one will be able to figure out that this cake has zucchini in it.

Here is the recipe (Click here for the printable version)

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
4 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 large eggs
1 cup unpeeled grated zucchini
1 large overripe banana (mashed)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Confectioner's sugar (for sprinkling on the top)- optional

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 10-inch cake or springform pan with oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In a food processor, process the sugar and butter until creamy. You can also do this by hand using a sturdy spatula.
4. Add the vanilla essence, coffee granules and eggs mixing well between each addition.
5. Reserve a cup of the flour mixture and add the rest to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined. The batter will be thick.
6. Add the mashed banana and mix. Don't overmix.The batter will be lumpy.
6. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips to the reserved flour mixture and toss to coat.
7. Fold into the batter and blend with a spatula- don't overmix.
8. Pour into the prepared cake pan and level the surface with a spatula.
9. Bake for 40-50 min, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 min, run a knife around the pan to loosen the cake and take the cake out carefully on the cooling rack.
10. Let it come to room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or glaze with melted chocolate.

Slice, Serve and Enjoy :)

Sending this to Champa's Bake Off Event

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eggless Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is always fun! First of all its gr8 to have a 4 day long weekend with family and friends. Second of all lots of shopping, black friday deals, outlet malls opening at 12 midnight (yes u guessed it right! we were shopping all night) and last but not the least delicious Thanksgiving feast! 
So what if we are vegetarians, we enjoyed the thanksgiving as much as the turkey eaters did :)
I made different types of "Chaats" for the Thanksgiving treat--  Pani Puri Moong Daal ke laddoo, Garma Garam Pakore, Crispy Lachcha Tokri Chaat and Paav Bhaaji...yummmmy!!

Pardon me for the clumsy pictures....I was in hurry to get done with the preparations before the guests could arrive and this is all I could do in all the hustle bustle.

This is not it! Desserts included NY Style Cheesecake and this delicious Eggless Pumpkin Pie! O my mouth is watering again! 

This is the first time I tried a pumpkin pie and it turned out perfect and delicious! Flaky buttery crust filled with spiced pumpkin and baked to perfection! I followed the recipe from Anushruti's blog- Divine Taste with few minor changes here and there!

This is a perfect Thanksgiving treat. Enjoy the fall with pumpkins, pies and more!

I am going to put out the recipe in my own words here. ( Click here for printable version)

For the crust:
  • 1 cup unbleached plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5-7 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
  • 2 cups (1 can) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Method for the crust:
  1. Mix the flour with the salt and cut the cold butter into the flour using a pastry blender or with your fingers until you get coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Alternatively, combine the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and process with 12-15 short bursts until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. Put in the cold water and form into soft dough. Do not handle the dough more than required at this stage.
  4. Gather the dough into a ball and chill well for about 35-40 minutes.
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface. Roll out the dough to a circle, approximately 12″ in diameter to line a 22.5cm (9-inch) pie dish or tart pan with removable bottom. Prepare the edges and chill while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling:
For the pumpkin puree:
 In a pan, mix in the pumpkin puree, condensed milk, cornstarch, spices, sugar, salt and beat until there are no lumps. Then put the pan on gas at medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the puree is warm. It shouldn't be boiling.

To make the pie:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spoon the filling into the chilled crust and level with the help of a palette knife.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling is set and the top crust is a nice golden brown.
  4. Allow to cool, cut into wedges and serve warm as is or with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream.

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