Thursday, December 15, 2016

Of This and That - Some Musings

This will be my last post for 2016… It’s raining heavily outside, sitting down with my laptop on our dining table, occasionally I glance through my balcony doors to look far ahead, but the visibility is zero. I made a glass of chilled iced lemon tea for myself...Music playing in the back ground, you know those ageless and soul-soothing old Hindi songs – like one from film ‘Anupama’. December makes me feel cold inside, although the temperatures outside will defy all things winter has to offer here. There is nothing as such a typical ‘winter’ in Malaysia – rain and sun-shine all through the year. How I longed for the coldness, winter has to offer and the white snow clad houses and streets, is a forlorn story here.

But even in those scarcity of true feelings for winter, we created a space in our heart which made us believe, yes believe, that these last few days of 2016, this festive spirit will linger on. We have put up a Christmas tree just like we used to do in UK. 

Warming up our cold hearts, this tree reminded us to believe in everything about life- whatever the challenges, obstacles one may face, believe in yourself – this will pass through. We have made it so far, hopefully we will keep doing so in future as well. In all those challenges, we should not forget about all the blessings which god has bestowed us all. Pause for a moment, take out time from your busy schedules and please count all those blessings. The true spirit of festivals lies there.

The shopping malls are all decked up and busy here with beautiful Christmas decorations and huge Christmas trees and people shopping for their near and dear ones. We usually sit down on those numerous benches inside shopping malls and watch the world go by leisurely. 

There will be people shopping on the likes of Gucci/Prada/MK / Miss Selfridge/ Topshop/Zara and what not, in those numerous shopping malls, during these last few days before Christmas. But to me Christmas, or for that matter any festival, is all about togetherness of family and friends. Gifts are just add-on like cherry on top of an assembled black-forest cake.

Couple of days back, we had a long weekend, so, dear daughter called up her few friends from our residential-complex and had a mini-Christmas snack party. 

The home was filled with the warmth of their girlie-chat, laughter and fun. Time flies and even before I realize, these girls all in pre-teen age are ready to create their own stories, just like we did decades ago.

Since these are holiday time, I thought instead of doing a recipe post, a proper menu post will be more helpful.
The snack- menu had chocolate cupcakes, cucumber and mozzarella cheese sandwich, baked chicken drumsticks and roasted spiced potato wedges with plenty of cold drinks.
There was another platter which we had on Sunday - roasted potato and orange sweet potato, tofu fried rice, baked spicy salmon steak and California rolls (this one is a type of  'Sushi'- store-brought though)…And there was plenty of litchi mock tail as refreshments.

Recipe for Oven- Baked Salmon Steak
Salmon steak pieces- 4-5
½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
 2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of cardamom powder
½ tsp of cinnamon powder
 1 tsp of black pepper powder
Salt as per taste
Take all the spices in a big bowl and mix in well.
Now rub spices all over the salmon steak pieces.
Cover and keep it in fridge for about half an hour.
Now preheat an oven at 175 deg C.
Place the salmon steak pieces over a baking tray and put that in the middle rack.
Bake for 30-35 mints. Take out serve hot. These are absolutely delicious.

Roasted spiced potato wedges have the same spices as listed above. The only addition was mustard oil and chili flakes to marinate them well.Bake the potato wedges at 180 Deg C for 40 mints.

Cucumber Mozzarella sandwich- Layer thinly sliced cucumber over buttered sandwich bread and then top it up with grated fresh mozzarella cheese or cheese slices. Press the sandwich and viola ready in jiffy.You can use tomato as well.Tomato and Mozzarella is another great combination.

Tofu Fried Rice
 3-4 cups of cooked rice- for 3-4 people
you can use brown rice as well
 200 Gms of extra firm tofu
2 tsp of thick soya sauce
1 tsp of oyster sauce
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of black pepper powder
 3 tsp of grated fresh ginger
 1 stick lemon grass
 3-4 tsp of soybean oil/ or sesame oil
In a big wok/fry pan, add in oil. Add in firm tofu pieces and fry them at high heat for about 3-4 mints.
Take out and keep in a separate plate.
Add in grated ginger, cut lemon grass  and any vegetables you would like to add- I have used carrots and tomato finely chopped. Toss well and cook at high heat for 3-4 mints.
Add in all the sauces and spices listed above. Adjust salt.
Add in fried tofu and coat well with spices and sauces.
Now add in cooked rice and mix well. Serve and enjoy.

These recipes can be found in archived posts here…

You all have a great festive time.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and have a Happy new year …….

See you all in new year 2017…Welcome 2017....bye –bye 2016…..

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fettuccini with Tofu and Vegetables

It’s December and this means an entire year is wrapping up soon. In 2016, we re-located to Malaysia and which meant whole lot of adjustments. New school and friends for dear daughter and us trying to get a grip of new place. Leaving behind the familiarity of everything in UK and starting all over fresh again, is never an easy task. But so far so good, and yes, it has been a great learning for us. We have slowly started enjoying our weekend outings and this brings us to understand the cultural differences we have over here. In spite of being in the centre of constant changes, we have managed to make few friends over here.
All I can say, a year has made me realize that nothing in this world is permanent, people will come to our lives, impacting us, teaching us valuable things about life and then leave, leaving behind their memories. Life itself is a collage of all great memories- Experience it and treasure it.

I had fettuccini pasta, and thought of using it up with tofu and other vegetables. We like to add lots of veggies to our pasta dishes which gives nice colours and texture.  This can also be made ahead and can be served as cold salad.
Now to the recipe

 Fettuccini with tofu and vegetables 

Recipe requirements
400 gms of Fettuccini pasta
 400 gms of extra firm tofu
Vegetables of your choice
 2-3 tbs of pasta sauce
4 tbs of butter
¼ cup of sour cream
 ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
Salt as per taste
Black pepper as per taste


Take a large pot with ample water. Add in salt to it. Let it come to one boil. Add in dried fettuccini and cook al dente (cooked but still firm).
In a separate fry pan, big enough to hold all the pasta and with vegetables. Add in butter, let it melt and then add chopped vegetables- like onion, carrots and tomato. Add in tofu pieces. Add in pasta sauce.
Stir/fry all for about 4-5 mints. Add in cooked fettuccini with the cooking water. Add in parmesan cheese and sour cream. Mix all the ingredients very well and coat well with sauce. Adjust salt and seasonings- black pepper etc.

Sprinkle some chilli flakes and enjoy.

Happy Cooking Friends and have lovely weekend

Friday, December 2, 2016

No- Bake Chocolate and Lemon cheesecake

I was never a fan of classical orchestra music, but don’t know what happens with Hans Zimmer, and I do really like what he creates- these past couple of days I have been listening to his masterpieces- and one is the sound-track of Inception- Time. The tune is so haunting and keeps lingering on. It gives you motivation and sadness at the same time. Another one is ‘A Way of life’. Those are real masterpieces. Any way music is to soul and so is the food. There are many soul satisfying foods as well.

We were carving for some cheesecake and my daughter was asking for a cheesecake for a long time. I was having some left-over crumbs from this recipe of – Chocolate mice, so wanted to use it and it ended up as the crust of the no-bake cheesecake. The slight hint of lemon was also an added bonus. So, the no bake cheesecake with lemon and chocolate flavour was born. The end product was very appetising and soul satisfying just like music by Hans Zimmer.
Now to the recipe

No-bake chocolate and lemon cheesecake

Recipe requirements
For the top

  • 1 and half cup of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 and half cup of cream cheese
  • ½ can of condensed milk (optional)
  • Roughly about 3-4 tbs of lemon juice
  • ½ cup of chocolate powder
  • For the base/crust
  • 5-6 tbs of butter at room temperature
  •  20-25 Chocolate biscuits -
Crush chocolate biscuits in a mixer or you can use rolling pin as well. I have used oats and chocolate biscuit for this recipe (available here as Oats crunch biscuits). You can use crackers as well. The crust was delicious with chocolate flavour and sweet.
Now in a big mixing bowl, mix together biscuits crumbs and butter with your hands. The mixture will be like a moist crumbs.
Take a  round 9'' inch cake tin and put the mixture in to it and press gently to make it firm. This will be the base/crust of no-bake cheesecake.
In a separate mixing bowl mix in mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and condensed milk with lemon juice and about 1 tsp of fresh lemon zest. (You can skip condensed milk if you wish but then you have to increase the cream cheese and mascarpone content and also will have to add castor sugar to make it sweet.)
Now pour this mixture over the base. Tap the corner of the cake tin so that it evens out.
Now sprinkle chocolate powder all over it.I have used Caotina drinking chocolate powder. You can use any other brands as well. But for me it’s Caotina for sure.

Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight. Serve it next day.
Tip- You can use Oreo biscuits as crust as well.

Happy Cooking Friends and have a relaxing weekend