Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chicken Kofta Curry - Day 7

Apologies for the bad picture. It doesn't speak at all about the melt-in-your-mouth quality of these koftas or the mellow taste of coconut milk, studded with cashews. It was a hurried weeknight dinner, thrown together with pantry staples and there just wasn't enough time to find a good angle. Hunger won over the desire to capture the image satisfactorily.

I used the chicken meatballs recipe from this previous post. I had made and frozen a batch the previous week. They were dunked in a simple curry of coconut milk and fresh ginger-garlic paste and scooped up with store bought naans. I really don't remember the proportion, but for the sake of the recipe am going to put down what I think is right. You can adjust your seasoning as you go along.

Chicken Kofta Curry

1/2 can coconut milk
1 onion, chopped real fine or made into paste
2-3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2-3 small green chilies
1 tsp jeera
1 tsp nigella seeds
pinch of turmeric
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cashews, grind some to paste and fry the rest
chopped coriander leaves.

Heat some ghee in a kadai, splutter the jeera and nigella seeds and fry the onion paste and ginger-garlic paste. Add the green chilies, cashew paste, yogurt and both milks. Let the mixture boil for a while and add the cumin and coriander powder. Slide in the meatballs/koftas. Take the curry off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves and fried cashews.

Congrats marathoners! We did it...7 days, 7 recipes. A vacation, a houseful of guests and dozens of pending chores, we still managed to get our posts in by midnight. It feels wonderful to have done it with such a enthusiastic group. Like Nupur said, this helped me clean up my drafts folder and usher in the new year on a clean slate.
I loved your comments and the hurried look I got at your posts. I look forward to getting to read even more in 2010!

Wish you and yours a very happy new year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nectarines- a slice of summer- Day 6

There's that time of the year again, where we buy into hype and believe we can change our lives by making resolutions - resolutions that, if you are anything like me, will never come into effect. Nevertheless, I persevere. This year I resolve to quit my whining about winter and simply learn to appreciate the joy of fresh snow, festive spirit, winter sales, cozy sweaters and leafless tress...err, we were talking about the good things about winter, right?
I love the romance of piping hot soups and hearty stews in cold weather- in theory. Its hard to feel this kind towards my least favorite season of the year, when the wind knocks your breath out, your nose turns a shade of purple that would be fetching if it weren't a body part and you need half an hour to thaw after venturing out for ten minutes. I can see the armies of winter-defenders forming right now, 'but its all snow and magic and hot chocolate and more crap'; it is also shoveling till your arms fall off, getting stuck in wicked storms, wearing ten thousand layers of clothes to get your mail and an understanding that you will lose sensation in your toes and fingers within minutes of stepping out of the house.
Have I mentioned that I'm not a winter person yet? Coz' I'm not. Not by a long shot, while the foodie in me rejoices at the changes in eating habits, my summer diet could keep me happy all year round.

Dear Winter
While I see the charm in cuddling in a blanket on a cold night, I don't appreciate freezing my butt off when said blanket is not an option. Also, I don't like it that granny thermals have replaced, umm other stuff, for sexy nights with the husband. All those people writing odes to fresh snow and singing about the romance of winter can stuff it. I want coke with ice, moisture beads forming on the glass, dingy fan stirring up stale air, sweaty armpits airing through sleeveless cotton blouses, melting puddles of kulfi, pepsi cola in plastic tubes, short shorts and tank tops, dusty beams of bright sunlight, all night card games in the garden with mosquitoes, the smell of mangoes ripening in hay, glasses of freshly churned buttermilk, shimmering tar roads in the afternoon sun...everything that is not winter. So, you can keep your lovely winter squash and give me back my sunny days.

Now you (and I) see how my resolutions always end up. What brought this rant on was an extremely windy day in NYC, and the fact that I didn't have adequate winter gear. Also, I spied these photos in my drafts folder, of a summer characterised by my indulgent diet of fresh fruits. I haven't met a fruit I didn't like. And summer gave me a chance to pluck and eat some straight off the trees/vines. I ate them raw, sticky juices running down my chin, baked into pies, dumped into salads, sprinkled with sugar and sometimes salt.

This nectarine cake and the nectarine pie bring me memories of my summer. Just look at the sunshiny nectarine upside-down cake. Look how pretty the colors are! I used my tried and tested upside down cake recipe from Susan, simply substituting the nectarines for pineapples.
I also made this pie after I polished off the cake. Its a basic pie, with a rustic homemade quality. I suspect that comes from my lack of experience at making pie crust. I used this recipe and followed it without any substitutions. I'm not going to repost the pie crust recipe since I didn't make any changes to it. For the nectarines, I simply did mixed them with some sugar and spices and stuffed the pie crust.

Nectarine pie
3-4 nectarines
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Skin the nectarines, halve and pit them. Mix them with the sugar, butter, flour, vanilla and cinnamon and keep aside for a bit.
Line a pan with the rolled out pie crust and blind bake it for about 10 mins. Pour the nectarine filling in, the nectarine with their flat side down, cover with another sheet of pie crust and bake for another 20-25 mins at 350 degrees till the crust is light gold and looks done. Make some slits in the top crust or use a pie bird to prevent it from exploding in your oven. Serve warm with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
I couldn't get around to reading any posts from the marathoners, but I will before tomorrow. And no, this is not another resolution, just an intense desire to read what you guys have been posting. We are almost at the finish line now, and it feels wonderful!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Butterscotch Cherry Blondies- Day 5

What could compare to the seductive power of brownies, with their fudgy chewy insides and the dark chocolatey goodness? How about it's equally alluring cousin, the blondie? Often relegated to the status of a brownie without chocolate, the blondie relies on dark sugar for a lingering sweetness. Tart dried cherries prevent it from being one note, and butterscotch chips provide the requisite bite. Drizzled with agave syrup (this girl loves her sugar), they turned out perfectly moist and very very addictive.
I used a version of this basic blondie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from How to cook everything. Like SK says, this is an infinitely adaptable one, I can imagine this with all kinds of nuts, chocolate chips, chunks, some amaretto; or you could just keep it plain and enjoy the star of the show- the deep, complex flavor of brown sugar.

Butterscotch, cherry blondies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and whisk till it is blended nicely. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients- the flour, salt and baking powder, soda. Stir in the chopped cherries and butterscotch chips and pour in a greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins or till a cake tester comes out clean. You will smell this dessert before you taste it...the bouquet of molasses and butter is quite irresistible.
Pull it out of the oven and drizzle some agave syrup while it is still warm. If you want neat bite size pieces with sharp corners, let cool and then cut into pieces. If you are anything like me, you will eat it warm, right out of the pan, crumbs be damned.

I'll be back from my vacation tomorrow and will respond to comments and catch up with all fellow marathoners. My google reader is overflowing and I'm so psyched about reading all the entries!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rice Walnut Risotto- Day 4

Rice kheer is no friend of mine. Most of my attempts to make rice pudding resulted in something akin to doodh-bhaat, and not the creamy concoction I desired. Probably because I never took to rice kheer the way I love my seviyaan. Growing up kheer always meant seviyaan- roasted in homemade ghee, sweetened with khoya and garnished with plump, golden raisins and meant to be scooped up with fluffy, hot puris. Well, then I got married and discovered the East Indian kheeri- made with boiled rice, something I didn't quite care for. It took several long years for me to make peace with the hubby's idea of kheer. Even then the rice sensed my hesitation and simply refused to turn into the rich dessert I envisioned. I tried cooking it in the rice cooker, as one recipe advised, cooking it all day on a low flame, adding khoya, condensed milk, roasting the rice, heirloom recipes culled from secretive grandmothers...just about every tip in the book. It just did not work, the kheer was too watery, too thick, the rice lacking any flavor or texture. And then, when I had all but given up, there seemed one trick I hadn't tried yet. This came after a satisfying mushroom risotto dinner, the rice was cooked so perfectly and every mouthful exploded with flavor. So why not cook the kheer like risotto? I love risotto...the starch from the rice binding the dish in gluey deliciousness. Warm, undoubtedly creamy and rich, it would slide down the gullet as only comfort food can. So this risotto was born out of a desire to make the perfect rice kheer...and it happily evolved into something I could call pudding or risotto and not betray my beloved seviyaan.

Rice Walnut Risotto?
2-3 tsp ghee
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
5 cups milk
1 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
a couple of pinches of saffron
2-3 pods of cardamom
1 tbsp raisins
The secret to a good risotto is technique and patience. You need to give the rice time to release its starch slowly. Its easier than it sounds though. I used Arborio rice, which is used in traditional risottos, its a lovely starchy long grain that lends itself nicely to this dessert and is available more readily than the other varieties.
To start, pour the milk in a pan with the cardamom and put it on low heat till the milk starts bubbling gently. Dissolve the sugar in the hot milk, add the condensed milk to it and keep it on a gentle simmer till you finish cooking. Add the saffron strands to the milk mixture.
Toast the rice on ghee till it is slightly translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped walnuts and toast them too. Add a ladle of hot milk and stir the rice till the milk is absorbed. Then add another ladleful. Keep doing this till you finish the milk and the rice is cooked through. Keep stirring and cook the rice on low to medium heat.
Risotto gets a bad rap for being notoriously difficult to cook at home, but I find it pretty forgiving. Just make sure the liquid in the pan is all absorbed before you pour in more and you should be good.
This risotto had a wonderful mouthfeel with the nutty walnuts and sweet raisins, and the rice...the rice was infused with most delicate hints of saffron and cardamon. I garnished with slivered almonds, you could eat it out of the pan, on a cold winter night.
This one is for day 4 of the marathon. I am back from my vacation and will check your posts tomorrow. Thanks for the comments, you guys know just what to say to make a girl happy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quinoa Hash Browns- Day 3

A disappointing brunch at the over hyped Public yielded this surprise; a quick search on the interwebz turned up the original recipe by Chef Brad Farmerie.
Without much ado...

Quinoa Hash Browns

1 cup quinoa
3-4 medium potatoes, grated
salt-pepper to taste
2 small green chilies
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Squeeze the grated potatoes and get as much moisture out as you possibly can.
Grind the quinoa in the food processor to a rough powder. Mix it with the potatoes and add the seasonings.
Line a baking dish with parchment paper and pour the mixture in, patting it down firmly. Cover with another piece of paper and bake for about 25 mins in a 450 degree oven. Cool and keep it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, cut the baked quinoa-potatoes into squares and shallow fry till golden brown.

This is such an interesting twist to regular old hash browns, the rough ground quinoa grain making it a wonderfully rustic and hearty addition to the brunch menu. Baking the mixture beforehand also took all the moisture out of the potatoes resulting in the crunchiest hash browns I've ever had. I still maintain that Public is over hyped and you don't need to pay 20 dollars for these babies, mixing them at night and frying them up for breakfast was easier than writing this post!
Day 3 in sunny Miami and I'm still managing to keep up with the marathon. Thanks Nupur for bringing some much needed discipline into my routine,and Sheetal for doubling my enthusiasm by joining the marathon! I will do some extra long posts when I get back.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blood Orange Cake- Day 2

This marathon thing is such a rush! A big thanks to Nupur for thinking this up; blogging every day is a great way to get back into the groove. Gone are the much abused excuses of 'no time', 'I'll do it tomm' 'hit a bloggers block' and other stuff I come with to explain my procrastination. Now I wake every day knowing there is something on my to-do list that I love doing! And I love sharing this with fellow bloggers, the sense of a shared goal making this mad rush all the more fun!

Today I've got another recipe from my summer, a citrus cake to continue the sugar rush. I knew I had to taste this fruit when I heard the name, how can you resist something called a blood orange! I've never met a fruit I didn't like, but I do have this thing for the fresh, juicy and tart delights of citrus fruits. So when I saw these beautiful crimson-fleshed oranges at the farmer's market, I did something typical of me and picked up more fruits than I could count. I managed to make a serious dent in the first few days, enjoying them plain and then with my last batch made this cake.

I used Ina Garten's lemon cake recipe as a guideline for this one, simply substituting the lemon with blood orange. And yes Ina, I used only good vanilla and picked my own fruit from my massive orchard in Hamptons. Not really, but say what you will about Ina and her Hamptons, her recipes are foolproof. I also used olive oil in place of the butter, not because I worry about the calories or anything, just because I wanted to see if it works. It did, wonderfully.

1 cup olive oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1/3 cup grated orange zest
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup blood orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla essence

Mix the olive oil and sugar together, then add the eggs one at a time. Add the orange zest and essence. Sift the dry ingredients- flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and keep it. Mix the buttermilk with the juice and then add the dry and wet mixtures to the oil-sugar-eggs mixture alternately. Ina suggests doing this by beginning and ending with the flour. I followed her instructions and it sure beats dumping in the entire flour at once and then wrestling with your mixer to keep it from flying everywhere.

The batter is enough for two 8 inch loaf pans. I baked mine in one round pan and one in a bundt pan, it turned out fine. Bake at 350 degrees in a pre heated oven for 45 mins,or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Glaze and syrup

Mix 1/2 cup of the orange juice with 1/2 cup of sugar and cook it over a low heat till the sugar dissolves. Just like simple syrup. Pour this syrup on the cakes and let it absorb.
For the glaze, mix some juice with confectioner's sugar and drizzle over the cakes.

It was a moist, crumby cake with an added dimension of flavor due to the tart oranges; the crimson color of the juice staining it a shade of pretty, I'll let the picture speak. Speaking of which, the cake was demolished within seconds of taking this carefully set up picture.

Thanks guys for the comments, I'm on a vacation right now and can't wait to get back and read your posts!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gulkand Malai Kulfi- Recipe Marathon Day 1

I understand how people get attached to their blogs. Its so much more than a virtual space, a friend who waits for you, ungrudging, while you deal with your life. Never judging or criticising, just asking for a visit, every once in a while. Yeah, I can see how that bond has power over me.

It has been silent on the cooking front for a while now, my indulgent cooking giving way to quick fix meals and more often than not, a hurried slice of pizza in the school cafeteria.
However, what better way to finish the year off than with a return to the old lifestyle with Nupur's Recipe Marathon!
7 days, 7 recipes, 28 (at the last count) participants!
Here is a recipe that was languishing in my folder for a while now. I made it when summer was on its way out and leaves were already changing color. Rich and creamy with the wonderful floral notes from dried rose petals, its a dessert I crave just as much in the brutal NY winters too. Gulkand is somewhat like a preserve made from dried rose petals and sugar, one of those rare things that are good for you that also taste good. I love it plain, but the I have to admit that the kulfi is sinfully delicious.
I used a modified version of this recipe from Allrecipes, although you can hardly go wrong with just Gulkand, cream and a little bit of sugar. Also, it was just enough for two, you might want to bump up the measurements if you are serving more.
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups light cream
4-5 tablespoons Gulkand
2 drops Rose essence.
I skipped the bread and any other flavors in the Kulfi; I wanted it to taste like the creamier version of Gulkand but you could add cardamom. Boil the cream, add Gulkand, stir in evaporated milk and rose essence and chill. Try some heavy cream if you are feeling brave, and sugar if you like your desserts extra sweet. And that's it!
The process is simple but the star ingredient can be a little elusive, so if you can't arm twist anybody from India to carry Gulkand for you, I have seen some canned stuff in Indian stores. Having never tried it, I can't really vouch for it, but its sugar and rose petals. That combination cannot be wrong!
So, hope you have a fantastic holiday season and I will see you tomorrow for Day 2 of the marathon!

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