Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole


Thanks giving is around the corner and my husbands office has a Thanksgiving potluck. Previous years I have just picked something at the grocery store or made something Indian but this year I wanted to cook something traditional. Looking at the list of the food, I picked the sweet potato casserole and Googled for recipes. I have never cooked sweet potato before and I only like to eat it is as chips or wedges. This is a combination of recipes found online and what I liked as I tasted along. But the end result came out perfect, better than I had hoped. I had a large casserole for the potluck and a tiny ramekan for me. This recipe makes one 10 x10 size casserole.


Ingredients:

5 large (approx 4 pounds) sweet potatoes 
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 stick cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
7-8 seeds cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

For topping

1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups mini marshmallows

Boil the sweet potatoes until soft. Peel and mash. try and remove all lumps from the mashed potatoes. Boil the milk and add the cardamom seeds and cinnamon to it. When the milk is infused with the spices, remove from heat and strain. If you have powdered cinnamon, you can just add that and skip this step. Cool milk to room temperature. Add butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cardamom powder and milk to the potatoes and beat well with a electric mixer. Pour into a greased baking dish or casserole dish (I forgot to grease my Pyrex dish but it turned out fine). In a separate bowl, mix the topping ingredients except the marshmallows. Layer on top of the sweet potato mixture, patting down to make it smooth. In a preheated oven, bake this casserole for 30 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. Top with mini marshmallows and return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes or till the marshmallows are golden brown.

Pack and send with husband :)

Kanda bhaji (Onion fritters)


Back home in Mumbai, whenever I had vada pav, I had to have some kanda bhaji as well. Hot, crispy, spicy, rolled up in a newspaper and perfect every time; with a side of dry garlic chutney. I have fond memories of countless tons of bhaji eaten. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. Incidentally, this was also the first food item I ever cooked. Usually I am not very fond of frying, health reasons, smoke reasons and also as I have a hard time using up the used oil. Yesterday I wanted to make my favorite Mumbai foods and so I thought of making these along with pav bhaji. There was a huge pile but when it was time to click photos a few were left. Here is the recipe...

Ingredients:

2 large onions
1/2-3/4 cup besan (gram flour)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dhania-jeera powder (cumin-coriander)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 green chilies very finely diced (optional)
Oil to fry (Peanut oil preferred)
Salt

Cut the onions into long strips. Mix in the salt and spices and let it sit for approx 20 minutes. This causes the onions to sweat and there is no need to add additional water to make a batter. Add the flour. The flour should hold the onions together, if not add more flour. It will be a comparatively stiffer batter than most pakora batters. Deep fry till golden brown. Serve with ketchup or dry garlic chutney. Another way to serve it is with pav - just like vada pav.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Strawberry Trifle


I have been thinking of making trifles ever since I saw trifle bowls in Walmart. One of the reasons my quick shopping trip is not quick is that I end up buying things that I imagine I am going to cook with or in. After finally buying the bowls, I needed a good trifle recipe. My favorite dessert anytime is chocolate and I am trying to change that to include some fruits. Remember the fruit cream recipe?  Well  this is another one of those, a strawberry trifle. And since I like easy cooking I have omitted some lengthier steps and stuck to easy assembly with super results. An actual trifle would be made with layer of custard in the layers, but I have substituted it with whipped cream. I made this recipe as individual servings and the recipe is for approx for 4 servings. If you like one ingredient more then feel free to add more of that. Also if you are making it a large trifle bowl, cut the pieces thicker than for individual servings.

Ingredients:

8 slices Pound cake (store bought or home made)
12-16 Strawberries 
1 cup Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup Strawberry Jam / Preserve
8 teaspoons Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)

Remove the stem and calyx from the strawberries and cut into slices. If you are using thick jam, add water (1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup) to it to give it a thinner sauce-like consistency.  Layer the bottom of the trifle bowl with slice (or pieces) of pound cake, approx 1/4 of an inch thick. Try not to leave any gaps. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the liqueur on top of the cake. Next spoon about 2-3 teaspoons of strawberry jam on the cake. Cover the jam with strawberry slices. Add a spoonful of whipped cream on top of the slices. Make sure you reach the edge of the bowl. Repeat the layers. For the top layer, pipe the whipped cream  to make it look pretty. Let this trifle sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve Chilled.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Carrot, Babycorn and Tofu Stir fry


This stir-fry was made for some carb-conscious friends who came over for dinner. Its an easy recipe with the chopping taking the maximum time. I approximated the recipe with the ingredients I had in the refrigerator and any proportion of the three ingredients should be fine. I wanted the dish to have a chili garlic flavor and those are the main spices here. The chili paste used is a bottled ground fresh chili paste from an Asian market. The proportion below makes about 2 servings. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Ingredients:

5 medium size carrots, cut in long sticks
1/2 can baby corn
1/2 block of tofu, approx 15-18 pieces
4 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
2 teaspoons ketchup

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Dry tofu pieces on kitchen towel and add to pan to shallow fry. When the sides becomes golden, remove from heat. In the same pan add remaining oil and when it is hot add the chili paste along with garlic. After the garlic starts to caramelize, add the carrots and baby corn. Then add the soy sauce, salt, pepper, teriyaki sauce and ketchup. Finally add the tofu and mix well. When everything is well sauced and sizzling, remove on a serving dish. It tastes great by itself and can be served with white steamed rice or fried rice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fruit Cream


This is one of my husbands favorite desserts. And an easy recipe with great results. I made this the first time last week when we had family visiting and loved it so much that I have already made it three times again. The thing is since it has fruits in it, it makes you feel good about eating it. And if you stick with low fat cream, it cant really be too many calories right?  I have added fruits I like but feel free to add your favorites as well. I eyeballed everything in the dish but will try to give you an approximate of the quantities used.

Ingredients:

1 cup Whipped Cream
1 apple
2 bananas
1/2 can (8 ounce) pineapple
20-25 Grapes
8-10 Strawberries

Dice the apples, cut the banana into quarters, the grapes in half, strawberries into quarters and pineapple into small wedges. Take fruit into a bowl and add cream just enough to coat the fruit and then a little bit more. Be careful to remove the fruit juice, else the cream will color. Chill and serve.

Hara bhara Pulao (Green Pilaf)



Last week my sister-in-law visited us and we had a feast to celebrate. With a little help from the frozen section I had a full fledged Indian party food ready. The menu - Paneer Butter Masala, Khatte Aloo, Boondi Raita, Hara bhara Pulao, Butter Naan, Kachori, Dhokla, Salad, Fruit Cream and Mango Icecream. As this followed a Indian style high tea, we didn't even eat all the food cooked. But it made a great after party the next day with no cooking. I plan to have most of these posted in the coming days and here is the first one - the pulao. I made this pulao in a rice cooker and prepped in the cooking vessel over the stove. I was afraid of losing the green color but it was as vibrant upon cooking as it was going in.

Ingredients:

2 cups rice
1 cup frozen spinach
1/2 cup coriander
1 medium onion chopped
3/4 inch ginger diced
3 to 4 green chilies
Stick of Cinnamon bark
3 to 4 cloves
Pinch of Hing (asafoetida) 
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons dhania jeera (coriander cumin) powder
2 tablespoons ghee
Salt to taste
Coriander for garnish
Water

Thaw the spinach and puree in a blender along with the coriander and chilies. Add a little water if needed to puree. 

In a rice cooker vessel, put the ghee and add hing, cumin and mustard seeds. When they start popping, add the onions and saute till they soften. Then add the cinnamon, cloves, dhania-jeera powder and ginger. After another minute, then add the spinach-coriander and chili puree. Cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the rice and 2 cups of water. Cook in the rice cooker till done. 

Fluff up the rice with a fork when it is slightly cooled to separate the grain. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with any raita of your choice.




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Simple Poha


To help me prepare for the test, my husband took up cooking responsibilities for the weekend. The first treat was this Poha on Saturday morning along with piping hot tea. This is a very simple recipe and my husband likes to add peanuts to it for some crunch. So here goes...

Ingredients:

2 cups thick poha (flattened rice)
2 tablespoon oil
1/2 medium onion chopped
1/4 cup peanuts
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cumin and mustard seeds
Big pinch of turmeric
Salt
Coriander for garnish

Place poha in a sieve and rinse. Heat oil in wok. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When they start popping, add onions. As onions soften, add peanuts with spices and saute for about 1 minute. Add the poha and salt and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes till everything is well integrated.
Serve with chopped coriander sprinkled on top.

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