Monday, January 31, 2011

Tortilla Spirals / Mexican Roll-ups

These are a great starter for a Mexican themed party. They are easy to make and few ingredients go a long way. They do need a 2 hour lead time as they have to be refrigerated. The quantity below makes about 24 roll ups.


4 tortillas, 6 inch diameter
6 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 cup finely grated carrots
1/4 cup finely grated green peppers
1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature and add all the ingredients except salt. Mix thoroughly and adjust for salt. Take about a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mix and spread evenly over the tortilla. Leave an edge of 1/2 centimeter / 1/4 inch around the edge to prevent squeezing out.

Roll up tightly and cover with cling film. Refridgerate for 2 hours. Then remove from wrap and cut each roll into 1 inch pieces while chilled. Bring to room temperature and serve with a side of salsa. Enjoy!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate Nut Clusters

Smooth, melt-in-the-mouth, with crisp roasted almonds, once you make these, you will be making them again and again.

My first foray into chocolate making was a class at a local store during valentines day last year. All I did after that was make some dipped strawberries. Then this year as Christmas and New Year came by, I thought of making some nut clusters. You can also put these into a chocolate mould or you can spread it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and make chocolate bark instead.

The type of chocolate you use will depend on how sweet you like your chocolate to be. If you like it really sweet, use milk chocolate, else try a mixture of milk and dark or bittersweet, semi sweet, unsweetened. I use half semisweet and half bittersweet with a sprinkling of 70% cocoa, unsweetened Callebaut chocolate. The high cocoa percentage gives it true chocolate taste. The portion below makes about 20 clusters. If you like them extra nutty, use a 1/4 cup extra almonds. These can be made with walnuts, pecans, peanuts or cashew nuts as well. You can add some raisins (at the end without roasting) as well to make a fruit and nut cluster.


1/4 pound semisweet chocolate
1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate
1 inch cube 70% cocoa unsweetened chocolate
1 cup almonds

In a heavy bottomed pan or wok, dry roast the almonds. The nutty almond flavor truly comes through this way. Cut the almonds into 2. They are soft when they are warm. 

If using a block of chocolate, break into approx 1 cm chunks. Put these in a microwavable bowl and melt by zapping them 30 seconds at a time. Zap - stir - zap - stir till it is melted. It took me about 2 minutes 10 seconds on full power using chocolate chunks. Mix the nuts with the chocolate and using a spoon drop them on a plastic plate or on a baking tray lined with parchment. Anything else will cause the chocolate to stick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to harden. If using moulds follow the same procedure, only make sure the top of the mould is smooth else they will not stay stable. 
To serve just place them on a platter. If you are gifting them, place them in a box with tissues or foil wrap them as in picture.  Enjoy and get complimented on your chocolate making skills!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chinese Fried Rice

Two of my tastiest  memories of Chinese Fried Rice was when we had this dish at a restaurant in Dalhousie some 15 odd years ago and when my friend cooked it for lunch when we were in college. I learned it from my friend and every time I cook it I try to make it the exact same way. Its a simple procedure once you have the various sauces and spices in your pantry. You can make this with fresh or stale rice, stale rice cooks better as some of the moisture has been lost in storage. If you are using freshly cooked rice, cool it completely before frying it. With french beans, there is a thread by the side which has to be removed, don't forget to remove it.  Here is how it goes...


4 cups cooked rice
1/2 large onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch knob of ginger, grated
1 green and red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup mixed vegetables - peas, carrots cut in roundels, french beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small head of cabbage, chopped 
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or 1 tablespoon red chili sauce or green chili sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt, add at the end since soy sauce is quite salty

Heat oil in a large wok. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Then add the onions and ginger and cook till they are tender. Then add the other vegetables and quickly saute on high heat/flame. Continue till they soften a little, approx 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add all the sauces and pepper. Add the rice and stir on high heat. Adjust for salt and add sauces as per taste. Serve hot!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bread Roll

Potatoes and bread... how can you go wrong with any recipe which combines these two. A simple potato stuffing is the heart of this yummy snack. It can be breakfast, a starter or a evening snack with tea.

The bread you use for this will make a difference to the final product. I like to use plain white bread because that is the taste I like in this dish. You can use wheat / multigrain / brown bread as well. Use the freashest bread possible. That will need less water to mould evenly around the filling. Breads in india tend to be a little hard and need more water to mould into a round. American breads do this with just a few drops. Try varying water quantities till you get the perfect roll. Too much water will make it soggy and too little and the roll will absorb too much oil while frying. The recipe below is as per American bread. These can also be baked at 350 F / 180 C till they turn golden.


10 slices bread with edges cut off
Oil for frying
Water to soak bread

Take bread slice with the edges cut off. Sprinkle  a few drops of water and flatten the bread. This can be done by hand or with a rolling pin on a flat surface. Place a 1 inch ball of filling and wrap the bread around it. You will be reshaping the ball in the palm of your hand to make a perfect round with all the bread sealing the filling. 

Heat oil in a vessel deeper than 2 times the size of the bread roll. To check the doneness of oil, put a small edge piece of bread in it. If it bubbles rapidly and rises to the surface, the oil is ready. Place 3-4 balls at a time and fry till golden brown.

Serve with side of green chutney, tamarind chutney or mint chutney along with a cup of piping hot tea! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate Pudding

Some old milk was staring at me from the refrigerator. Doing a quick toss between a cold coffee and pudding, pudding won out. I had in mind a recipe from a long time that I wanted to check as well. The resultant pudding is silky, luscious and delicious. A few bites are all you need. Give a crunch to it by adding some roasted almonds or walnuts. This pudding can go into your trifle as well. The proportions  below are approximate at best. It is a very forgiving recipe, a little less or more will not harm the outcome. The measure is for approx 4 servings.


4 cups milk, whole if possible
1 1/2 tablespoons corn flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate, grated
4 tablespoons sugar

Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel, leaving aside 1/4 cup and bring it to a boil. Mix the cornflour and cocoa in the remaining milk, making sure there are no lumps. Add to the hot milk, stirring constantly. Add the chocolate at this time as well. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat till the milk thickens. There will be a shine to the milk as well. Taste for sugar and adjust if needed. Strain the pudding to remove any lumps. Nuts, if desired,  should be added at this time. This is also the time to cool it to room temperature to use in a trifle. Pour into ramekins and let it set in the fridge for about 1 hour.
To serve, garnish with some chocolate shavings and serve cold!      

Friday, January 7, 2011

Basic Potato Stuffing

This is the basic stuffing which can be used for making a variety of snacks. Stuffed bread sandwiches, Aloo puffs, bread roll all use this filling. Regarding the green chili and ginger paste; I usually make it in bulk and store it in the fridge. Just remove the stalks of the chilies and skin the ginger. Chop into large pieces and pulse it in a blender till it resembles a fine paste. You can then use it as and when required in curries and snacks and anything else you want to add a zing to. Here is how the versatile potato filling is made...


4 large potatoes
1 small onion (white or red)
1 heaping teaspoon green chili and ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (I use Badshah brand)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder (dhania jeera)
1 tablespoon oil
1/3 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon amchur - optional
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Boil the potatoes, de-skin and mash well. Heat oil in a wok, add mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to crackle, add onions, green chili and ginger paste. Saute on medium till onions are translucent. Add the mashed potatoes, spices, salt, coriander and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
This can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. In the coming days, I will be posting recipes using this filling.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eggless Brownies

Happy New Year friends!

And to start off the New Year, here's something chocolaty, decadent, satisfying - Brownies. And I have to confess - I am a convert to egg-less. After years of believing that only with-egg desserts are moist and flavorful, this brownie is all that I want a brownie to be. Also the texture of the brownie is a cake-like. If you like fudge-like brownies - keep coming back to the blog. So here's the recipe without any more writing...


1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
200 grams Amul mithai mate or 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
100 gms melted Amul butter or 1/2 cup refined vegetable oil + pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup yogurt + milk equal portions
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
200 gms melted chocolate (dark or milk)
1 tbsp cocoa
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C.

Take a large bowl and mix the wet ingredients - the yogurt / milk mixture, oil, condensed milk, sugar and melted chocolate. If you are adding walnuts, in another bowl, take a tablespoon of flour and add the walnuts to it. Coat the walnuts evenly. Keep aside. Then mix the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, couple of tablespoons at a time. When all the ingredients are incorporated, beat for about 2 minutes with a hand mixer. Take the floured walnuts and fold into the batter.

Take a 8x8 inch metal or glass cake pan. Line the bottom and sides with foil. This lets you pull out the brownies out of the pan easily and also it's easier cutting and clean up. Pour in the batter and level. Bake for 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center to check doneness. The toothpick should come out clean, if it comes out with wet batter bake an additional few minutes.

Cool the brownies. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Serving suggestions:

Brownie with icecream - warm the brownie and add a scoop of vanilla icecream on top. Drizzle some chocolate and caramel sauce on top
Brownie sundae - crumble some brownie pieces into a sundae glass. Top with 2 scoops of icecream of your choice. Add hot fudge and nuts on top.
Brownie trifle - Layer the bottom of a trifle bowl with brownie pieces. Next layer chocolate pudding, followed by whippped cream. Repeat for one more layer. Sprinkle shaved chocolate on top


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