Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Apple Fritters with Toffee sauce and Happy Christmas

Holidays have started and winter is upon us, and it seems it will be a rainy Christmas this year, unless if the weather god decides against this, then probably we still can hope for some sunshine.
This is, that time of the year again to unwind ourselves from our daily nitty-gritty of life, have a relaxing time in comfy of our home and with family and friends. Hope you all are gearing up to Christmas celebrations in your home respectively. Well, can’t believe another action-packed year is about to end soon.

We have put our small Christmas tree up and well decked, all for the love of our dear daughter who likes putting up Christmas tree and decorating it with many items. With Christmas tomorrow, everyone have started marathon baking sessions and that's for sure. We also have thawed small chicken and have put it for marinating, as we will be doing this stuffed and roasted chicken recipe tomorrow. As sides we will be having lots of roasted veggies like Brussel sprouts, carrots and onions etc. And then I have made this Christmas fruit cake  on Sunday and another Chocolate Swiss roll today. Not to mention, orange jelly with vanilla cream and loads of seasonal fruits. Then I will be doing two cocktails, non-alcoholic – pina colada for me and apple colada for apple lovers in my family as they are not too fond of pineapple flavor.

Well I know internet is now full of various types of Christmas cakes, fruit cakes, dessert, casseroles etc, but then if you are like me, who likes fritter as snacks sweet or savory both with evening tea, then probably you can give these apple fritters with toffee sauce a try for sure. Another great way of having them is with dollops of ice-creams or double cream or even with home-made custard after dinner as dessert. We had these fritters in one of the Chinese restaurants here as we were having a Chinese buffet and from then onward these apple fritters were on my mind.
You can make ahead them, then just pop them in oven or microwave to re-heat them and serve with home-made custard or toffee sauce, a perfect accompaniment with evening tea or the last-minute dessert recipe after your Christmas dinner.
Now to the recipe
Apple fritters with toffee sauce
Recipe requirements ( makes - 15-16 fritters approx)
2 ripened gala red apple
3/4  cup of self raising flour
¼ cup of corn-flour
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cinnamon powder
1 tsp of nutmeg powder
¼ tsp of red pepper powder
1 cup of cooking oil for frying the fritters

Apple Fritters 
Cut apples into half and then slice them thinly. Two apples will yield at least 14- 16 apple fritters.
Now make the marinade by mixing in all the spices- red pepper powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder and salt. Rub this spice powder over each apple pieces. Keep aside for at least 1 hr, after one hour discard the water coming out.
Dissolve corn flour in some water, add in self raising flour, and adjust salt. Make the batter as dropping consistency.
Put a deep bottom pan over heat, add in cooking oil and let it heat up properly for deep frying.
Coat each pieces of apple in the corn-flour+self raising flour well, and quickly release it in hot oil. Fry each side for 3-4 mints. Take out and drain excess oil over kitchen towels or old news paper.
Toffee sauce
1 cup of sugar
2-3 tbs of butter
2-3 tbs of cream ( optional)
Melt sugar in a melting saucepan over medium heat, stir it so that it doesn’t stick on the base, and add in butter when the caramel is formed.Add in cream also but I have not done that , cream gives the toffee sauce more richness.You may even make it with muscovado sugar or light brown sugar.
Now drizzle this  sticky toffee sauce quickly over the deep fried fritters and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Well on this Christmas Eve and as you all will go on creating memories and traditions just like other festivals that you all celebrate. So, it doesn’t matter what goodies you will be baking, it doesn’t matter what gifts you will be purchasing or gifting , it doesn’t matter what decorations you will be doing on your Christmas tree or in your home. But what matters is the feeling to share and give unconditionally.

The moments that you now create and live will be heard over and over again, even if you someday no longer live there to re-tell. Pass those thoughts, those treasured recipes on to the next generation, surround yourself with the warmth of love, your loved ones now shower on you.

Light up some fairy light or candles, have a relaxing time and unwind yourself. It will seem quite busy and hectic schedule for many, but then in coming years, you will be re-calling some ever lasting silly or nasty or emotional memories that you always can cherish.

And let it be peace and love that should guide us in our journey that we call life.  You all have a relaxing Christmas and happy holidays.

Wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fiorelli Pasta Cooked with Broccoli and Curly Kale leaves- Vegetarian pasta recipe

I can go on describing the beauty of pasta shapes in detail and in poetic verses if I have that capability to do so, but then I have limited skills for that matter. But give me these pretty shaped fiorelli pasta , and I will try to  cook with green vegetables that go on, unnoticed or most of the times people don’t bother to include them in their meal plans. I don’t know what was going through in my mind when I was pairing up broccoli and curly kale leaves together for this pasta preparation, but then I am glad it was well received by my folks.

Anyhow, I think these two vegetables- broccoli and curly kale leaves, are mostly under-rated vegetables, but I would suggest using them more often as they bring balanced nutrition in our eating pattern.

This fiorelli pasta recipe is, a truly vegetarian delight, a keeper recipe, but if you really want to jazz it up, then add in fried shrimps or chicken pieces. You may even add in Turkey mince as well, but then this would be a true Ragu bologna sauce as it will be having mince meat cooked together with vegetables. For the time being it’s a simple pasta sauce that was cooked for these fiorelli pasta.
Now to the recipe

Fiorelli pasta cooked with broccoli and curly kale leaves
Recipe requirements
300 Gms of fiorelli pasta or use half pasta packet
1 broccoli cut into small florets
200gms of curly kale leaves chopped roughly
For the sauce
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of oregano or 1 tsp of mixed herbs
1 large tomato
3-4 tbs of pasta sauce
1 medium size onion
2-3 fat garlic
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4 tbs of olive oil
Cheddar cheese and red pepper flakes for garnishing
Put a large saucepan with ample water on medium-high flame.Add in a half tsp of salt and 1 tsp of oil into it. Add in fiorelli pasta and let it cook. Add curly kale leaves half way thro, let it cook. Drain water after the pasta is cooked well. You may add in kale leaves and broccoli later, while making the pasta sauce.Kale leaves takes some time to cook well so it’s good to do a quick blanching like this way.
Now to the making of pasta sauce
In a heated pan, add in olive oil, now add in finely chopped garlic, and stir/fry it for 2 mints.Now add in finely chopped onion and stir/fry it for 3-4 mints or till they turn translucent.
Now add in finely chopped tomatoes. Add in broccoli florets and stir/fry it for 4-5 mints at medium-high flame.
Add in red pepper powder, dried oregano or dried mixed herbs what ever you are using it and salt. Add in pasta sauce to this and coat the spices well over broccoli florets. Add in a cup of water or you may use the starch water that you have drained earlier while cooking fiorelli pasta.
Adjust seasonings if required, and add in cooked fiorelli pasta with blanched curly kale leaves to this simmering sauce and let it mingle well for about 3-4 mints. Add in a dollop of butter at the end and some cream to enhance the sauce but it's not necessary if you wish to make it low-calorie recipe.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese or grated parmigiano-reggiano –cheese. I even like to have some red pepper flakes over it.

If you want more sauce then please increase the quantities of sauce ingredients, this sauce is just enough to coat cooked pasta so it won’t be having any extra sauce in your serving plate.
If you wish you may add in red wine like Merlot etc to enhance the flavour.

Please feel free to include cooked shrimps or chicken to this pasta recipe, if you wish so.

Happy Cooking 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dim-Panpor'er Dalna - Egg papad/poppadom curry

As I was writing this post, suddenly my eyes got glued on the date of the day , well why would any one will be interested in knowing a date unless we are talking about the date, I mean the “real date”, but is it just a mere co-incident that today is 11/12/13, wow! now that’s something, is really a stunner. And people are taking things pretty seriously about this date or day what ever, some even are planning to get married or doing the auspicious shopping etc.Well, to that I just thought “ek recipe post to Banta hai”, so here I am with “dim-panpor'er dalna” meaning – egg papad/poppadom curry (if puritans will allow me to translate accordingly), but seriously curry is a generic term and there are many variations.

I don’t know where “dalna” as in Bengali curry stands out, but yes this has gravy and spices all blended well with hard-boiled egg and fried poppadom.We do make “panpor'er jhaal” where we will fry the papad/panpor /poppadum and then make spicy gravy with onion-ginger-garlic and cubed potatoes. And yes, Bengalis can’t cook any curry like things without potatoes in it or may be it’s just us.
Anyhow, I have talked about the mint plant which was planted in jiffy here . That plant is showing splendid signs of life as its all green now, although I can't say that about those two garlic pods.

 I really don’t know what made me crazy about these aromatic mint leaves, but I have been using them regularly in gravies,biryanis or whipping up quickly mint yogurt dip/mint raita etc. I have used them in this curry also and then I added coconut milk to the mundane dim’er dalna...now to be honest, I have never ever made Bengali egg curry with coconut milk till that day.I had clicked these pictures somewhere near in July probably and as I was de-cluttering the picture folder couple of days back, I figured it out it never made up to the published list of recipe post….And it has been saved in there for these past months..Nothing new about me, you all know that well.
I have used coconut milk in fish and chicken recipes but not with eggs, and if I tell this to my Mother or MIL they would dismiss it completely saying “tumake r ranna korte hobe na” and yes they are puritans and traditional to the core. Now, with those challenges ahead, I did make this and no, I dare not serve them, this dim’er dalna. I am afraid they will be scolding me, even if I tell them see Rick Stein also makes Bengali egg curry with coconut milk. They would say who is Rick Stein, a Hollywood actor, and to that I really don’t have any answer. But call this Bengali egg curry or not, I leave it to you,  but certainly this is another variation from traditional Bengali egg curry and yes it has been made many times by this Bengali lady since then.
For the time being if you are like me, easy going and believes in tweaking on recipes, then please go ahead and make this, I have loved this egg curry with all those soft edible bits of  panpor/poppadums and that minty flavor and of course the gravy with the sweetness of coconut milk. Now to the recipe procedure

Dim Panpor'er Dalna- Egg Curry with Papad/Poppadom
Recipe requirements (serves 4-5)
Free-range egg- 4-5 hard boiled
5-6 poppadoms/ready-made papad fried or micro waved for low oil version
2 medium size onions finely chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic grated
½ inch fresh ginger grated
2 medium size potatoes cut into large cubes
Half a can of any brand of coconut milk or about a cup of coconut milk
4-5 mint leaves
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
2 tsp of home-made spice blend powder- which is just dry grounded coriander seeds+cumin seeds+cinnamon stick+cloves+cardamom where last three is added just for fragrance and coriander +cumin seeds are more in proportions.
Alternately you may use 1 tsp of coriander powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
¼ tsp of garam masala powder
2-3 tej patta/ bay leaves
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2-3 dry red chilly/pepper
4-5 tbs of cooking oil (any oil of your choice)
Put eggs with enough water in a boiling pot and let them boil. We need hard-boiled egg for this curry. De-shell them once they are hard-boiled. If you wish you may rub some turmeric powder at this time over them, otherwise leave it, it’s not necessary.
Now chop onions, ginger and garlic accordingly. You may even grate ginger and garlic as this imparts lovely flavor to any gravy as they release fresh juices when grated.
Heat up a fry pan/wok/kadai, add some oil you may fry the hard boiled egg evenly and the poppadoms as well. But as I said, we are making a low-oil version so, I have slightly popped them in microwave for 1 mint and then crispy poppadums are ready. Traditionally these are deep-fried to make Bengali panporer dalna- poppadum curry.
Now temper it with cumin seeds, dry red chilly and tej patta.Add in onions, ginger and garlic and  pinch of sugar and pinch of salt and keep on frying for about 6-10 mints or till they turn nice brown.
Now add in cubed potatoes and fry another 3-4 mints. Add in all the dry ingredients- turmeric powder, red pepper powder and home-made spice blend and adjust salt. Splash some water so that the spices don’t burn out. Keep on stir/fry for 3-4 mints. Add in chopped mint leaves. Coat spices well over potato cubes.
Add in a cup of coconut milk and 2 cups of water. Let it come to one strong boil.
Now add in hard-boiled egg and fried poppadoms or microwaved poppadoms/papad.
Let it simmer for about 10-15 mints or till the potatoes are soft. Tip- Poppaadums soak a lot of gravy and may sometimes go soggy, and in that case, you may add in papad at the last stage of preparing this gravy when the potatoes are already cooked well. And if you like soggy poppadums then add accordingly.
Now at the end add in garam masala and a tsp of ghee.
Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice. You may prepare this with paneer and shrimp as well for variations.

If you like crispy fried coating of eggs in your Egg curry , then fry them before you add them to the gravy.
Ready-made papad/Poppadums itself have many variations – there is crushed black pepper-corn poppadums or jeera/cumin seeds poppadums and many others.The above recipe was made with cumin seeds flavoured papad/poppadums.
You may replace egg with paneer or even with shrimp/chingri for other variations or may skip eggs altogether for making simple papad curry.

This is a mild curry and if you like more hotness, then add in split green chilies to increase spiciness.

Edited on 5/01/14 

Dim panporer dalna the way my mother does and most of the times made in our home also.

Recipe requirements
4 free range eggs
5-6 papad/poppadums (any flavor)
2 medium size potatoes
2 medium size onion
3-4 fat garlic
1/2 inch ginger
Seasonings and flavoring
¾ tsp of turmeric powder
½ tsp of red pepper powder
2 tsp of home made spice powder
½ tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of salt.
Pinch of sugar
3-4 tbs of cooking oil/mustard oil
2 bay leaves or tej patta
3/4 tsp of cumin seeds
1 dry red pepper
Boil eggs properly, hard boiled eggs is what we will be using in this dalna/ curry.
Now prepare the masala
Heat up a saucepan, add oil, temper it with cumin seeds, bay leaves and dry red pepper.
Add in finely chopped garlic and ginger. Keep on stir/fry for 3-4 mints.
Now add in finely chopped onions.
In a separate fry pan, fry the papad/poppadums.Now fry the potato cubes to evenly brown them.
Meanwhile keep an eye on the other one, where onions +ginger+ garlic are being fried.
Add in fried potatoes now.Add in all the dry seasonings- red pepper, turmeric powder and home-made spice powder. I always stock up home- made spice powder- which is a mixture of coriander+cumin+cinnamon in a ratio of 2:1:1 all dry grinded. Sometimes I do also add green cardamom to it.
Coat well the spices over potatoes+ fried onion, gimger and garlic.And keep on stir/fry at medium flame. Add in about 2 large cups of water. Let it come to one strong boil.
Add in fried papad and boiled eggs. If you wish you can fry the boiled eggs to have the crunchy texture, but generally I don’t do that.
Let it simmer for about 7-10 mints at medium flame. Please check if the gravy requires some water then add in warm water and also if the potatoes are cooked through. Once done,add in garam masala at the end, switch off the flame and let it rest there.

Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice. I have not added tomatoes and generally don’t add them but if you like that, then please include them.

Happy Cooking 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe- Our way

It was one mundane afternoon, after finishing up cooking and cleaning, I was about to iron some clothes that were drying up, but then ironing clothes is something I really don’t fancy doing on one lazy afternoon. I had my Cous-Cous Upma ( archive post from 2010) for lunch.And as I was about to start ironing the clothes( the picture of ingredients right above the method steps has that iron even which I somehow cropped it out as that would have been embarrassing, now who needs iron as food props, right ?) The most dreadful chore so as to me, I decided, no actually I was craving for some chocolate cake and then recalled dear daughter has made a wish at the breakfast table for chocolate cake also. You know how kids and chocolate are inseparable.
As I was deliberately postponing the inauguration ceremony of my new Bundt pan, I thought may be it’s now time to do so. Here is chocolate Bundt cake recipe made on one mundane afternoon.

I love how freshly brewed coffee smells, kind of a reckoning, brings all senses alive, a sudden kick to wake you up, and perhaps when this is included in chocolate cake, this imparts a lovely aromatic blend and that dark chocolaty color. I took out spreadable butter, yogurt and eggs prior of making this cake and let it rest for a while. Then as it happens while making a cake, rest was done as accordingly.
When I spotted this Bundt pan  in a super-market here, it kind of drew my attention instantaneously.

I liked the delicate pattern of this Bundt cake, although this is a small tin as compared to the standard Bundt tin measurements, but there is this lovely design which makes me more inclined to use it over and over again.

 Although, this chocolate cake that you see now is the first time that I tried the Bundt cake, but since then I have made carrot cake, two batches of chocolate cake and one tutti –fruity cake as well. The base recipe for the cake remains same, like I replace drinking cocoa powder with more flour and shredded carrots or tutti-frutti assortment as the recipe calls for it. But today it is chocolate Bundt cake recipe for you for the time being.

Chocolate Bundt Cake
Recipe requirements
1 ¾ cup of cake flour/self raising flour
¼ cup of good quality cocoa powder
2-3 tbs of yogurt
2 free-range eggs
5-6 heaped tbs of butter spread
1 ½ tsp of instant coffee
¾ tsp of baking soda
½ cup of sugar

Sift cake flour well and then mix in coco powder. Now add in baking soda.
Cream together sugar and spreadable butter well until light and fluffy. You may use vegetable oil as well
Make half a cup of coffee with the amount of coffee powder mentioned.
Now add in egg one at a time mixing through. Add in yogurt, mixing well.
Now in a big mixing bowl, mix in half the amount of flour+ cocoa powder mixture with butter+sugar+egg+yogurt mixture.
Now keep on mixing the rest of dry mixture with wet mixture and lastly freshly brewed coffee until you get a nice gooey chocolaty cake batter.
Prepare the cake tin with spraying some oil, and then dusting off evenly with plain flour.
Preset the oven at about 175 deg C or gas mark 4 .
Pour the prepared cake batter in the floured cake tin. Place the cake tin in the middle rack and then bake for about 30-35 mints. Please check your own oven settings and timing for cake baking. I guess fan assisted oven are slightly different than convectional oven in a standard microwave. Best is to read user manual and then proceed. Always keep an eye on the cake in oven.
Take out when the cake is done and let it cool off.Flip the side upside down with the help of a plate.Dust off extra flour from the top of cake with a brush.Now prepare sugar icing as usual or have it with out that.
I would suggest having it with a scoop of your favorite ice-cream. Delicious.And do you know you can even pack it in your travel-bag as a quick snack.

Edited on 6th Dec 2013
I made this cake yesterday again with few changes as I was running short of self raising flour....
*Used plain flour and then added 1/4 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsp of baking powder.Added strong brewed coffee about half a cup* ..
The cake batter was quite on a runny side but it turned out just like fudge cake ..dense and moist,uploading a picture with vanilla caramel ice-cream....now "delicious" is just a word here ....

Happy cooking and baking