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Friday, December 18, 2009

"Sweet Treats"- Chocolate-Walnut Fudge

'Fudge' was a rare treat for us in India. Most of the Fudge I have eaten in India, came from 'Lonavala'.This is hill station and picnic spot in Maharashtra. My school picninc went twice to Lonavala and that's when, one friend of mine, introduced me to 'Chocolate Fudge'.It was an instant addiction...loved the chocolaty-chewy fudge with occasional crunch of walnuts! Since then, everytime I went to Lonavala....I had to stop by for the Fudge!
Since coming to USA, fudge hasn't been a rare treat at all! You find it everywhere....and in so many different flavors...you can't imagine! This time..I thought instead of buying..I am going to give it a try....and make it myself!
I made it in two layers....Chocolate-Walnut layer topped with 'burfi' like white layer....
Need I say.....it looks pretty and tastes yummlicious??

1 -14Oz can Sweet condensed Milk
1- 12 Oz semi-sweet/dark chocolate morsels
5tbsp  butter
1/2cup Milk powder
1tsp Vanilla essence
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 tsp sugar

1) Toast the walnuts in oven at 350F for 7 mins.Let them cool
2) Line a square pan with aluminum foil. Leave excess foil on all four sides, to make it easier for removing the fudge.
3) Make a double boiler- Heat a big pot of water.On top place a little smaller glass/metal vessel which will fit snugly on the big pot.The steam from the big pot should heat this small vessel.
4) For 'Burfi' like white layer-In the double boiler, add 1/4 can condensed milk, 1/2 cup milk powder, 2 tbsp butter,1tsp sugar. Let it cook on the boiler and stir continously. Cook for 3-4 mins till everthing comes together and becomes sticky.Take off the boiler.Add few drops of vanilla essence.
5) Spread this mixture on the pan lined with aluminum foil.Spread into thin layer and let it cool.
6)For Chocolate-Walnut layer- Place another glass/ metal vessel on double boiler.Add almost all the chocolate morsels(keep handfull aside for decoration later), the remaining condensed milk and 3 tbsp butter.Let the mixture melt gently on double boiler and stir continously.Make sure it doesn't burn.
7) The chocolate morsels will melt and the mixture turns 'shiny' .Cook for 3-4 mins.Add walnuts, vanilla essence.Mix.
8) Layer this hot mixture on top of the 'white burfi' layer. Smooth the top side.Let it sit at room temp till it cools down.
9) Refrigerate 1-2 hrs.
10) Carefully remove the hardened fudge from the pan.Peel off the aluminum foil carefully.Turn the fudge up-side-down so that the white layer is on top now.

11) Cut into squares with a  sharp long knife.Wipe the knife with wet paper towel, in between the lines.
12) Press the left over chocolate morsels onto the white layer for decoration.
13) Store the fudge in refrigerator.

Indulge into ultimate 'chewy chocolaty' fudge with occasional 'walnuty' crunch!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Aroma from a Guest Kitchen" - (Guest:Padmaja Vaithi)= Grilled Chicken And Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches with Fontina Cheese

Aroma From a Guest Kitchen :
In this new segment I will be asking my Friends/Guests/Contributors to share their Kitchen creations, recipes, thoughts..... with all of us here.

Today's Guest : Padmaja Vaithi
My good friend from Ithaca,NY who shares a passion for food with me, is an awesome baker (we can ask her for her cake recipes for future contributions!) and a very good person...ofcourse!

Padma Says:
Almost every weekend I prepare the menu for the following week, before I go to do my grocery shopping. If that week’s menu is not on my kitchen board, Monday’s lunch is bread. (For my husband)
Having the menu planned ahead helps me include all food groups and different cuisines, group meals with intense labor with least work and also in sync with day to day activities, makes me work faster and more effectively…… especially with the prep work and a lot with my catering.
This week, as always I put out the same question to my husband “What do you want for next week?” Instead of his usual “whatever” or “observed silence” he said Chicken Sandwich with ………..some ingredients that randomly popped out of his mouth…………..I looked at him for a moment as if asking “Does this even make sense or are you just mocking at me?” Studying that LOOK ………which I’m sure is every wife’s weapon he said “Come on, surprise me.”

Well that is very easy for me; I could just send an empty box for lunch. What could be more surprising than that? (As suggested by my younger sister.)

However, I didn’t have to try too hard either. I have this faithful binder full of recipes cut out from magazines and sorted into groups : JUST FOR KIDS, CAKES, DESSERTS, PASTA, ONLY CHICKEN………..there must be a Chicken Sandwich recipe in here somewhere and sure there it was.
"Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich with Fontina Cheese", Cooking Light (June 2004).…it was a cover recipe.. .
Naturally, the cover picture and the recipe from the magazine is its best marketing tool, so I showed that picture to my husband and it got sold. He said sure……..
Lately, I discovered this combination of Dijon mustard, thyme, lemon and chicken to be mouth watering good in Martha’s Crusty Mustard Chicken recipe. If you want to try this combination start with this Sandwich recipe. It sure didn’t fail surprising my husband’s taste buds……
Try serving it with a hearty soup (Like a Cheddar Soup) and/or with some vegetable chips to round off the meal to that wholesome finish.

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches with Fontina Cheese
Chicken Breast Halves - 1 Lb, skinless, boneless
Fresh Lemon Juice - 1 tbsp
Dijon Mustard - 1 tbsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- 2 tsp
Dried marjoram - ¼ tsp
Dried thyme - ¼ tsp
Garlic cloves - 5 nos, minced and divided
Cooking spray
Onion - 1 Cup, vertically sliced
Sugar - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - ¾ tsp, crushed
Red Pepper flakes - ¼ tsp
Salt - ¼ tsp
Roasted Red Bell Pepper - 1 Bottle, (7 Oz), drained and sliced
 Buy the roasted bell pepper from the “Mediterranean Bar” rather than the bottled kind.
The bottled kind has water to its weight, which is wasted.
Red Wine Vinegar - 1 tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper - 1/8 tsp
Rosemary Focaccia - 1 Loaf (12 Oz), cut in half horizontally
Low-fat Mayonnaise - 4 tsp
Fontina Cheese - 3 Oz, thinly sliced

Yields: 4 servings. (Serving size: 1 sandwich quarter).
462 (24% from fat); Fat: 12.2g (sat: 4.7g, mono: 3.7g, poly: 1.7g);

Protein: 39.5g; Carb: 51.2g; Fiber: 5.6g; Chol: 90 mg; Iron: 3 mg; Sodium 981 mg; Calc: 199mg
Source: Cooking light magazine. Cover Recipe.

Wegmans – Boneless, skinless breast chicken - $5.66
Lemon - $0.79
Dried thyme (Bulk Section) - $0.08
Flora - Roasted red bell peppers, 12 Oz - $2.69
Wegmans – Focaccia Bread - $3.50
Fontina cheese, 3 Oz (Val D’Aost) - $5.12
TOTAL = $17.84

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Appetizers"- Chicken-Zucchini Roll-Ups

Just couple days ago..I was watching "Iron Chef America- Battle Zucchini'.The chefs had to make 5 courses with Zucchini. They made amazing dishes which you wouldn't even think were possible with Zucchini. The
Judges were arguing whether Zucchini really has any 'Flavor' of its own??? Some said yes..it definately has a 'Flavor'. The other said.....no zucchini doesn't have any real flavor, but picks up the flavor of other ingredients.
I agree on both sides....Zucchini definitely has a subtle but distinct flavor and it surely does take on the flavors of other ingredients in the dish.
Though I do not rate Zucchini as one of my Favorite veggies...I still buy it to make Zucchini bread (I love it!), I use it in Pastas, make Zucchini  fritters, use it in Sambar etc etc.
And Now......I have discovered....a new way to use it!!!
To use it as a 'wrap' for appetizers!
The little Chicken -Zucchini Roll-up Bundles looked cute and tasted awesome!!!
The chicken was Spicy and well complemented by the soft texture and subtle flavor of zucchini.

6 Bite size (or little bigger) pieces of boneless chicken( I cut out cubes from a boneless chicken breast)
6 long thinly cut Zucchini strips.

1/4tsp Ginger garlic paste
1/4tsp Chili powder
1/4tsp mint paste
1/4tsp turmeric
1/4tsp tandoor masala/ garam masala
1/4tsp cumin-corainder powder
few drops of lemon juice

1) Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger garlic paste, turmeric, lemon juice, chili powder, tandoor masala, salt etc.Let it sit in refrigerator for 15 mins.
2) Carefully cut thin strips of zucchini. Not too thick or thin.They should be sturdy enough to hold shape and able to wrap around the chicken.
3) Sprinkle little salt and chili powder over the zucchini strips.
4) Carefully wrap the strips around Marinated chicken and secure with a tooth pick.

5) Heat some oil in Non stick skillet.
6) Place the Roll up bundles carefully in the oil, vertically(tooth picks still on). Let it brown from bottom.Then turn around till the other side browns. Chicken at both ends should be browned.
7) Then turn the bundles around on their sides. Let the zucchini brown a little bit. Do not over cook. But the chicken should be cooked well through.Check with a  toothpick.
8) Cover the pan with a lid and let the bundles cook for 1-2 mins.
9) Remove promptly and serve warm.

A perfect Party Appetizer sure to wow your guests!