Popular Recipes

Friday, October 9, 2009

"For Little Tummies"- Jello Fruit Mold

'E' still has some cold and was really cranky yesterday. The doctor said colds can last about 2 weeks and I shouldn't be worrying so much. I know, I shouldn't be worrying over cold,but you know...with all the 'Swine Flu' everywhere...I do worry and want to make sure he is OK.
As you must have guessed, I am not spending 'creative' time in the kitchen for couple days or so.Cooking mostly what I absolutely need to cook.
Therefore ....
I am going to share this recipe I made back in June....for 'E's playgroup 'Sprinkler Party'. Before they dispersed for Summer vacation,E's playgroup had organized this party.It was a potluck party and all parents got something to munch.I wanted to make something 'Summery'( is that a word?) and of course which kids will love and enjoy.As a kid, I remember liking the 'Jelly'(as we called it in India). Here they call it 'Jello'. I decided to make 'Jello' Mold with 'Fruits' to make it more healthy and of course ...look attractive!
It was pretty simple to make,I messed it once though.My fruits were floating in the gelatin instead of settling in the mold.I re-did everything and the second time it came out much much better. Here is the recipe and tips to make the 'perfect' mold in one try!
1 packet Strawberry/raspberry Jello Gelatin (buy the flavor to match the fruit color you are using)
8 strawberries sliced like petals
1/4 cup blueberries
Non stick cooking spray
Water to make Gelatin
1) Make the Jello gelatin as instructed on the packet (to step of mixing water and stirring)
2) Spray a glass mold with cooking spray.
3) Arrange the fruits as you like on the bottom of the glass mold.Be creative..make beautiful shapes and designs!
4) Pour very little gelatin on top of fruits.If you pour more gelatin or hastily,the fruits will start to float in the gelatin instead of sticking to the bottom.So pour only as much as need to slightly cover the fruits.
5) Refrigerate the mold for 1/2 hr.The gelatin will help the fruits stick to the bottom of the mold and 'stick' there.
Keep the remaining gelatin at room temperature(this should not set)
6)After the fruits and gelatin in the mold set,pour the remaining gelatin on top slowly and gently.
7) Cover with plastic wrap and carefully lift the mold and refrigerate for 2-4 hrs.
8) To remove the mold onto serving platter,place the glass mold in warm water for 2 mins.
Once the sides loosen ( carefully run knife edge on the sides),cover the glass mold with serving platter and turn upside down.(Like flipping a cake from the mold)
9) Serve immediately and enjoy ....It melts pretty fast!
1) Use cooking spray for easy removal of the jello mold
2) Can use almost any fruits except for pineapple..I think the enzymes in the pineapple will not let the gelatin set.
3) Layered gelatin can be made with different colored gelatin's and fruits.Overlay one color on top of the other.
4) For more ideas:

Here are couple pictures of my little 'E' ...enjoying the Sprinklers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Appetizers"- Spinach-Cheese Swirls

How many times have you actually read the 'Recipe Ideas' which are printed on the carton when you buy something? For me atleast...not many times.I am pretty much decided what I want to cook before I open... or sometimes... even before I buy the ingredient.So very few times have I actually read a recipe and saved it.This one is.... one of those few times!
I was looking for a 'appetizer' recipe for a dinner party at my house.We had invited our friends and their parents visiting from India.Now, I did not want to make the same old typical appetizers...pakodas,vadas,samosas etc especially because I wanted to make something 'new' for my friends parents.So while searching for a 'novel' appetizer....I came across this recipe...Where???.....In my freezer! Hahaha!
I had some Pepperidge Farm puff pastry in my freezer.Just before making my weekend brunch favorite 'Veggie puffs' ,I happened to look at this recipe on the back of the box.And Tadah!!!!! I had the appetizer recipe idea for the dinner party the next week! Everyone devoured it and none was left over after the party!
Here is the recipe from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Carton: (I modified it a little bit to suite our taste and for my convenience)
1 Puff pastry sheet
1 bag Spinach,cooked and well drained OR Use frozen-thawed and well drained
3/4 cup Pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/4tsp Black pepper
1tsp oil
1 egg
1tbsp water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

1) Thaw Puff pastry sheet as per packet instructions and preheat oven to 400F
2) Heat 1tsp oil, add garlic paste stir.Add chopped onions and fry for 2 mins.Add the cooked, well drained spinach,salt and fry for 2 more mins.Let it cool.
3) Beat 1 egg and mix 1tsp water - use for brushing puff pastry
4) Add the cheeses,red pepper flakes,black pepper to the Spinach mixture and mix well.
4)Unfold puff pastry on lightly floured surface.Brush with egg mixture.Top with spinach and cheese mixture.Spread evenly.
5) Starting at the short side closest to you,roll like a jelly roll.Cut horizontally into 20 slices.
6) Place slices,cut side down on baking sheet ( sprayed with cooking spray).Brush with egg mixture.
7) Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown.
8) Serve warm with Ketchup/Hot chili sauce.

I actually made the rolls and slices the day before the party and froze them on a baking sheet in the freezer.On the day of the party,half hour before I wanted to serve it,I just popped them in the oven and ....Voila! We had our delicious Spinach Cheese Swirls!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Sweet Treats"-Kaju Katli and Kaju Flowers

Kaju Katli: A Cooking lesson
So today was the big day,when my friend 'V' (who still is modest and does not want to me to reveal her actual name to give her credit!) was going to teach me and my other friend 'P' ...how to make Kaju Katli. 'P ' and I decided to make 2 batches...one 'V' would demo us and other batch 'P' will make simultaneously. It was great to get a 'hands on' demo and the Kaju katlis came out much better than my last weeks experiment. We could cut perfect diamonds and put the silver leaf on to make it look 'authentic'. Thanks to 'V' ...I finally could make real Kaju Katlis! And Thanks to 'P' for lending me the 'Silver leaf' and making my katlis prettier!
Here is V's recipe
1 cup Cashews
1tbsp Milk powder
~1 cup Sugar
1/4tsp Cardamom powder
1 pinch Saffron
1/4 cup water
1 pinch salt
1tsp ghee
1) Soak cashews in water for 1 hr.Coarse grind the cashews with about 1/4 cup (or as less as possible) amount of water. Measure the amount of paste.
2) Remove the paste in a nonstick pan.On medium heat,stir the paste.Add as much sugar as the quantity of the paste.(i.e.for 1 cup paste add 1 cup sugar)
3) Keep stirring the paste till it looks 'dough' like and starts to leave the edges of the pan.Add salt and 1tbsp milk powder and mix.
4) Add saffron and cardamom,mix well.
5) Apply ghee to the counter top/non stick foiled surface.
6) Roll out the Kaju katli dough with rolling pin on the flat surface
7) Stick the silver leaf on top
8) Cut into diamonds
9) Kaju Katli is ready!

Last Evening:
I was very excited last evening for today's cooking class but wasn't quite happy that I did not have the 'Silver leaf/Vark' to put on the Kajukatli to make it look 'authentic'.So,just to check if AC Moore would have it,'M' and I went to the store.But ..No..they did not have any:(
But what they had was....'Pearl dust' which is used to color 'fondants' for cake decorations.This dust is edible and comes in various colors.'M' encouraged me to be innovative..and said that I could make some other designs with the Kaju katli and decorate as I wish.I really liked the idea,and thought about making 'Kaju flowers'.I bought the 'flower' shaped fondant cutter and some pink pearl dust.I already had the 'sprinkles' to make the flower centers.Here are my Kaju Flowers:They look too good to be eaten!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Appetizers"-Steamed Cabbage and Carrot Rolls

This morning was pretty relaxed as 'E' did not have to go to school today(He goes only 3 times a week) and also mainly because...we had left overs from last night and therefore did not need to cook for lunch today.Last night made 'Pav Bhaji' for dinner. Whenever I make Pav Bhaji ,'M' always reminds me to make it sufficient atleast for 2 meals.Reasons for that-Well...
It's one of his favorites ... so eating it once doesn't satisfy his 'craving' for Pav Bhaji.Secondly, pav bhaji tastes better the next day...all the flavors marinate and come together well....and lastly...it saves 'cooking' the next day! How thoughtful is that!
So, I had some time on hand...and I decided to experiment on Cabbage I had in the refrigerator.
The whole idea behind these rolls was...kind of 'fusion' of 2 recipes or cuisines. First one is the 'Alu chi vaadi'/Patra Rolls' made in Maharashtra with Colocasia leaves.The second inspiration was 'Paula Deen's (Food Network)Cabbage rolls stuffed with meat.
I used the ingredients that are used to make Patra rolls but used Cabbage leaves instead of Colocasia leaves and instead of using any meat (as in Paula's Cabbage rolls),I used carrots and besan.
There were some modifications I had to do to make Cabbage 'work' like Patra in this recipe-like boiling the cabbage leaves prior to making the rolls and trimming the stems to make the leaf more pliable.
The rolls came out pretty good (Making them was a bit messy though)...and they tasted really delicious after shallow frying (like patra rolls).To my surprise even 'E' liked those!
Here is the recipe of my experimentation:
1) 4 Whole Cabbage leaves
2) 1/4 cup Carrots(Julienne cut) Fancy name hmm...i.e cut thinly into strips!
3) 3/4 cup besan/gram flour
4) 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
5) 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
6) 1/4tsp tamarind extract
7) 1/4tsp jaggery
8) 1/4tsp Chili powder
9) 1/4tsp Ajwain seeds
10) 1/4tsp turmeric powder
11) Oil to fry
12) Salt to taste
1) In a big pot keep water for boiling. Carefully cut 4 whole cabbage leaves from a cabbage head.
Immerse them in boiling water for 3-4 mins just to soften them and make them pliable.
2) Mean time make a thick paste of besan,chili powder,sesame seeds, turmeric, ajwain, salt, tamarind and jaggery.The paste should be thick enough to coat the leaf surface.It should taste spicy, and little sweet-sour.
3) Take out the cabbage leaves from water.Let them cool a little bit.With a sharp knife,carefully trip the backside if the cabbage stem.(So that it becomes thin like leaves and easy to roll later)
4) Keep the biggest leaf on flat surface.Apply the besan paste on the inside of the leaf evenly.
5) Keep the next leaf on top of the pasted leaf.Repeat the same and stack the leaves on top of each other.
6) On the last leaf,spread the besan paste and the julienned carrots.
7) From the edges,start rolling the leaves into a big roll
8)Stick the edges with besan batter
9) Oil a plate/pan, and keep the roll on it.Steam the roll in a cooker( without whistle) for about 15 mins.Let it cool
10) Cut the roll horizontally into discs.
11) Shallow fry the rolls/discs in oil till golden brown.
12) Serve hot with ketchup.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Pat a Cake"- 'Car' Vanilla Cake

Had a perfect lazy and relaxing weekend. Since 'M' had to work on his MBA assignments, did not go out much either.Just attended 'E's friends birthday party.
Lately I have been experiencing 'homegrown' competition......are you wondering what that means??? Hahaha! "M' had been pretty active in the kitchen on weekends.Last weekend he made 'sheera'...this weekend he made 'Aloo-Chole' for Saturday night dinner.And he is really good...all the seasonings are perfect! It's a threat to my 'head chef' position in the house...but I love the 'threat' of this homegrown competition...it gives me some time off the daily cooking!
So, since I was 'relaxing' this weekend,I thought of sharing this cake which I baked for my Little 'E's 2nd birthday(in June 2009).'E' is crazy about cars...and needless to say he has tons...literally tons of those.So, when I thought about baking a cake for him,I did not have to think much....'CAR' was the first thing that came to my mind.Here is the cake I baked for my Little Racer...

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2-1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) milk
3/4 cup (175 mL) vegetable oil
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the icing:
2 cups powdered sugar, sift before measuring
1 1/2 tbsp butter, soft
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 to 4 tbsp milk
1 tbsp cocoa powder for chocolate icing
Edible colors

1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease one 9x13-inch (23 x 33 cm) rectangular baking pan.
2) In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Don't over beat. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.
3)Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean.
4)Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin knife, then turn out onto a rack. Let cool completely before covering with frosting.

1)Combine all icing ingredients in small mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and well blended. Adjust for spreading consistency if necessary, adding more milk or more powdered sugar.
2)In a small bowl mix some cocoa powder in the icing to make chocolate frosting

3) Divide the rest of the icing into parts and mix the desired colors for the car.

Cut the Vanilla Cake into 'Car' Shape by placing a car stencil on the cake.I just drew and colored the car on a paper and cut out the shape.

'Car' Cake after been cut.

Slice the cake horizontally into 2 layers. Spread the chocolate frosting in between and place the upper layer back again.

Spread and decorate the 'Car' with remaining frosting mixed with desired colors.
The 'Car' is ready to Race!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Around The World in 30 Weekends"-Weekend 3 = Egypt

Dish Name: Basbousa(Egyptian Semolina Cakes)
Middle Eastern ‘Basbousa’ is a dessert traditionally served in Middle Eastern countries, primarily Egypt. Sugar syrup drizzled over the top makes it a unique dessert for any occasion, but Middle Eastern Basbousa is traditionally served with tea or coffee.

I first had this dessert when I was working at Cornell University. One of my colleagues wife is from Egypt. She once made this cake and send it to the lab for all of us.
Is was so delicious, sweet, moist, little crunchy from the almonds…we just devoured it!
I asked for the recipe the very next day….and since then, I have been making this dessert at home for ‘M’ who just loves it! It reminds us of the 'Eggless Rava cake' that mom used to make back in India.
We hardly have it with tea or coffee as they have it in middle east, as it is too sweet to have with tea/coffee. It makes a perfect dessert/ snack on its own though!
Here we go to Egypt ...with the sweet taste of Basbousa:
For the Cake:
1 and 1/4 cup Semolina/Rava
1/4 cup All Purpose flour
3/4 cup Yogurt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Almonds for garnishing
For the Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2tsp lemon juice
Boil water,sugar,lemon juice,together for 10-15 mins.
1) Mix together melted butter,semolina,yogurt,all purpose flour.Keep aside for 1/2 hour
2) Add sugar,baking soda,baking powder,salt,lemon juice and mix together into smooth batter( Consistency like cake batter) Add little water if necessary.
3) Garnish with sliced almonds and bake at 350F for 40-45 mins.
4) Pour warm syrup over hot cake evenly.Let soak for 15-20 mins.Cut into classic 'diamond' shapes of Basbousa or into wedges like a pie.
5) Enjoy hot/warm/cold!