Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fruit Kabobs at Pool Party

With the temperature rising close to 100 degrees here, just staying on land during the day is not easy. So this weekend, a few friends got together and had a pool party. The menu was a fabulous  potluck  -  strawberry-orange slush, potato burgers, bean burgers, chicken kabobs, grilled asparagus, grilled pineapple, roasted corn and beer :). These were an after thought but would fit right in - fruit kabobs. It is simple to make and no cooking required. Portion below is for 4 skewers. I would measure 2 per person.

Ingredients:

4 strawberries
8 grapes
1 slice pineapple (canned or fresh)
8 1 inch pieces watermelon
1/2 banana chopped in 1 inch pieces

Cut the pineapple slice into 4 quarters. Take a skewer and insert a piece of water melon followed by banana, grape, watermelon, pineapple, grape and finally a strawberry. Make the rest of the skewers the same way. Chill in refrigerator till ready to serve. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pineapple Cake - semi homemade

This week I celebrated birthdays of two of my friends. For one I was present and one in spirit. For the one I attended, I made a pineapple cake. It has been kind of a ritual of make a cake with pineapples. Every year I make a different type of pineapple cake and this year it was pineapple cake with whipped cream's turn  – the first two were pineapple upside down cake and pineapple cupcakes. For the base of the cake, I used a simple white cake box mix (since I had some at home) and added crushed canned pineapple. You can also use a pineapple cake mix or your own cake mix at home. I made a 9 inch cake and used ready made cool whip. You can also whip cream at home. My secret ingredient (as I like to call it) was cardamom. It is subtle and adds a layer of flavor. 

Ingredients:

1 white cake box mix (Duncan Hines preferred)
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple
1 8 oz can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice
1 pineapple slice
13 pieces of maraschino cherries
1 large tub of cool whip
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Preheat the oven. Mix the crushed pineapple, eggs, oil and water, substituting the pineapple proportionally with the water i.e. a cup of pineapple would replace a cup of water. Add the cake mix and make the batter as directed. Butter and flour two 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Divide the mix between the two pans and bake as per directions on the box. After the time given on the box, usually 30 - 35 minutes, test the cake with a skewer inserted through the middle. If it comes out clean the cake is done, else check for a few more minutes. Cool the cake completely. You can also place the cake in the refrigerator to cool it faster. Prepare a cake board by lining it with foil. Sometimes the cake rise more in the middle than the sides, so if the cakes have domes cut them off to make them level. 
To assemble - place one of the cakes on the cake board with the cut-dome side up. Spoon some of the juice of the canned pineapple on the cake. Spread about 4 tablespoons of whipped cream on the cake. Next place the pineapple chunks on the cream. Fill in the space around the chunks with whipped cream. Place the second cake on top, cut-dome side on the cream. Place about 1/2 cup of cream on top of the cake and spread with a spatula. Place cream similarly on the sides and spread evenly. When the top and sides are evenly coated, place the cream in a piping bag fitted with a 1M pastry tip. Make rosettes (twisting the pastry bag clockwise with steady pressure) on the top of the cake positioned like the clock face. Drain the cherries and place one on each rosette. Place a pineapple slice in the center and place a cherry in the center. Refrigerate till ready to serve. Place a candle, make a wish and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Walnut Pesto

Pesto is to Italian cooking what coriander chutney is to Indian cooking. It has freshness from the basil, spice from the garlic and texture from the nuts and cheese. Olive oil makes it a perfect emulsion to have in as many ways as you want. Pesto is originally made from pine nuts but I use walnuts in mine, you can use either. Also pesto has pecorino romano in equal proportion to parmesan but I just use Parmesan as I have that on hand. You can use half parmesan and half pecorino if you have both the cheeses. Finally lemon juice - it adds freshness to the pesto and helps keep the bright green color of the pesto. But add it only if you are using the pesto on the same day.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
3-4 tablespoons walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan 
1 tablespoon lemon juice- if using the pesto the same day
Salt

Place the garlic, basil and salt in a blender. Blend to make a paste. Add the walnuts and cheese and blend while pouring the olive oil slowly in a stream till it is creamy. Serve in a variety of ways - here is one.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis and Whipped Cream

I want to be Alton Brown someday. Not only is his knowledge of every food incomparable his recipes are genius. Case in point this chocolate mousse. Its eggless - no messing with egg yolks and takes minutes to put together. Literally its a 15 minute preparation, chilling time extra. To put it together with raspberry coulis and cream? That was how I ate it at a luncheon and the combination is amazing. The tangy sweet coulis and decadent mousse with the cream is a perfect bite. I used a mix of semi sweet Ghirardelli and unsweetened 70% cocoa Callebaut chocolate. And I added powdered sugar to the cream to get the right sweetness. The recipe below is as per Alton Brown. 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup strong black coffee or 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon rum
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Put the chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat till most of the chocolate is melted. The remaining chocolate will melt as you stir it. Keep aside and cool to body temperature.
In a another chilled large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cup of heavy cream till stiff. (Add powdered sugar before beating the cream). Mix 1/4 of the cream into the melted chocolate to lighten it. Mix in the remaining cream in two parts.
Mix the gelatin in the remaining 1/4 cup cream and let it rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes heat it gently (not in a microwave) so it is warm - don't boil. Mix it with the cooled chocolate.

Raspberry Coulis:
2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup fine sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Pass the raspberries through a sieve and collect the juice. In a saucepan, add the sugar and water and heat to dissolve the sugar. When cooled, add the lemon and raspberry juice and mix well. Chill it. 

To assemble:

In a slim wine glass, spoon about 1 tablespoon of coulis at the bottom and fill 3/4 of the glass with the mousse and chill for an hour to set. Just before serving top with whipped cream and serve.
If you want to have just the mousse, spoon into martini glass, wine glass or pipe into chocolate shells and chill for an hour. Just before serving, spoon some whipped cream on top and enjoy...
And the winner of the giveaway is # 25 Saba... Congratulations! Eileen will be contacting you regrading the gift card information. And thank you everybody for participating in the giveaway. I hope to have another one really soon. Hope to hear from you all then as well.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wonton Cups with Corn

I had eaten these a long time ago and after I started blogging, I have seen these appetizers on blogs a lot of times. And finally I have made them. These can be filled with different fillings, I have used onions and peppers as the primary fillers here. Easy to make and even easier to eat, they disappear fast. The crunch from the wrappers contrasts with the soft vegetables. They can be eaten with or without the toppings.

Ingredients:

1 pack wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1/3 green pepper
1/3 red pepper
1 cup corn
2 green chilies finely diced
1/3 inch ginger finely diced
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
Olive oil to brush the wonton cups
Salt
Sour Cream - as topping
Salsa - as topping

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Press the wonton wrappers into a mini muffin pan. Brush (or spray) the wonton cups with olive oil to help brown them. Blind bake for about 8 minutes. Keep aside. 
Chop the onion and peppers finely. De-seed the tomatoes and chop them fine as well. In a pan heat oil and add chilies and ginger (and sesame seeds if using). When they start sizzling, add the onions and peppers. Saute for 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes. Saute till all the vegetables are cooked and slightly soft. Add corn and salt to the onion-pepper-tomato mixture and saute for a minute. I used frozen corn which I microwaved for about 3 minutes. If using fresh corn add them with the onions. Remove from heat and add the coriander. Mix well and stuff into wonton wrapper cups. Return to the oven for 4-5 minutes. Serve hot or warm with salsa and sour cream on the side.

PS: There is a giveaway going on at my site - you have 2 more days to participate. Please leave a comment!
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