Monday, July 21, 2014

Creamy Dark Chocolate IceCream

Once you own an ice cream maker, you are constantly in the hunt for new recipes and you will experiment with all the possibilities that could whip up.  I have to warn you that its pretty addictive.  At least that is true in my case.  I love making ice cream for my kids rather than buying them.  My kids are at the point where they say No to the store bought tub ice cream.

People who know me always inquires, 'But it seems suspicious that you make these and don't gain any weight?'.  Well, the truth is that I don't have a big appetite for sweet treats, I enjoy them moderately.  The guilt of indulging too much sugar and the fear of increase in waist line always haunts me, so as soon as the inner conscience starts to bicker, I evade from the sweets :)  That doesn't stop me from making them and enjoying them moderately.  Baking and preparing desserts are therapeutic to me.

Here is the recipe of Creamy Dark Chocolate Ice Cream I made couple of weeks ago.  I also made some Popsicle with layering vanilla (before adding chocolate) and chocolate ice cream out of this recipe.  But I never got the chance to take pictures as they were dissipated into thin air when I decided to serve them to the group of kids in my family who were exhausted after a fun filled volley ball match in our backyard.

4 cups - half and half
5 - egg yolks
1 cup - sugar
1/2 tsp. - salt
1 tsp. - vanilla extract
1 cup - semi sweet dark chocolate chunks/chips

  • Whisk the egg yolks together in a bowl and keep it aside.
  • In a heavy bottom sauce pan, mix  half & half, sugar and salt and bring to simmer.
  • Take 1 cup of the warm half & half mixture and pour into the egg yolk mixture by whisking continuously.  The egg mixture is warm enough now.  Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan.
  • Cook the mixture for 15 - 20 minutes by stirring continuously on medium heat till the mixture reaches custard consistency and coats on the back of the spoon.  Turn off the burner.
  • Take the bowl with 1 cup of chocolate chips/chunks.  Pour the hot custard through a fine mesh sieve (to remove any coagulated egg) into the bowl with chocolate chips.  Use a spoon to stir continuously so that the chocolate melts and mixes well.
  • Add vanilla extract and stir well.
  • Cover the custard and refrigerate over night.
  • Make the ice cream according to the ice cream maker's instructions.
  • Enjoy them fresh or store them in air tight container in the freezer.
  • If you don't have ice cream maker, pour them into Popsicle molds and freeze.  Either way you can enjoy this silky smooth and luscious treat on a sunny day!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mango Almond Ricotta Cheese Bars / Mango Badam Burfi

I had mentioned in one of my previous posts my love for Indian sweets.  Burfi is my favorite among all and I only make them occasionally though.  But whenever my brother visits us, I make sure to prepare this sweet as he likes them too.

 I have some funny story related to Burfi from my childhood which has been told over and over by our parents and laughed about several times.  I don't remember it as I was 5 or 6 years old and my brother being younger than me had no chance to remember the incident.  We were in North India and my parents had a big circle of friends.  During one of the usual visit to one of the family friend's house, my lil brother found this plate full of Burfi on the table, which was of course for the guests.  He went straight to the table and innocently grabbed a piece.  I too joined him and enjoyed the sweets well.  On the way back home, my Dad stopped at the sweet store; bought couple of boxes of Burfi.  He was disappointed at our behavior which we had no clue.  It was the time for learning good manners for both of us; how to behave in other's house; get snacks only when it is offered or just simply say 'no, thanks'; the lessons went so on.  So with the new lesson learned we happened to visit the same family after a month or so.  There again was plateful of snack for us.  This time both of us pretended that we didn't see the snack at all.  The snack was untouched for some time, the mom of the house might had felt something fishy, she came up to us and offered the snack.  As learned from our previous disciplinary session we both said, 'OUR PARENTS SAID WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EAT FROM HEREEEEEEE'.  Even imagining the face of my parents makes me chuckle now.  They might have been ridiculed so much in front of their friends.  From Dad and Mom's stories we found out that my parents intervened and corrected the 'verbiage' we used and tried to make up for what we said.  But that was a good lesson we learned how to behave at other's house.  My Dad being an Air Force Officer, he was strict about table manners and discipline when we were kids, but I guess that helped us to mold our behavior later on.  So now you can guess why we love Burfi so much!!!

1 tub (30 oz) - Ricotta Cheese  or Paneer
½ cup - Sugar
2 tsp - Butter/ghee
2 1/2 cups - Milk Powder
1 cup - raw almond crushed/coarsely grounded
1 1/2 cup - mango puree
¼ tsp - Cardamom powder

  • Melt 1 tsp of butter in a non-stick pan and add the Ricotta cheese to it and cook for 3-4 mins.
  • Add the sugar, milk powder, mango puree and crushed almonds to the Ricotta Cheese.  Use a long wooden spoon to stir occasionally.  Use a low flame to cook it ,otherwise  it will splash and cause burns.  It takes almost 40 minutes for the mix to thicken and separate from the sides of the pan.
  • Add the cardamom powder and stir for another 1 min and turn off the stove.
  • Apply 1/2 tsp of ghee on the rectangular 8' x 8' /20 cm x 20 cm glass/ ceramic pan and transfer the burfi to the container.
  • Apply 1/2 tsp of ghee and flatten the burfi using a spatula or spoon.
  • Garnish it with almonds.
  • Cover it and refrigerate for overnight.  It can be sliced into desired shapes.
  • You can substitute almonds with cashew nuts or skip the nuts.
  • If you are not adding the nuts, make sure you substitute it with milk powder so that the burfi can be set easily.
  • Make sure you use a flame between low and medium so that the cheese will not be burned and the hot mixture doesn't splash. 
  • Use a wide deep bottom pan that have enough space to remove the moisture quickly.
  • I set the timer between every 10 minutes to stir the mixture since I was using low flame.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Strawberry Wine Jam

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

There are lots of things in our life we take for granted and keep them in dark corner to be never appreciated.  The reality kicks in when it is taken away from us.  Going behind what you don't have will never keep your life satisfied, finding contentment in what you have is rather logical.  The other day I was listening to the radio on my commute to work and heard about these students with cognitive and physical disabilities play music with the help of their music teacher who patiently teaches them to play music using ipad app.  You could hear in the background the kids shouting with joy when they play the notes without a fault.  It was really amazing to hear how talented those kids were and how the people who were around them had transformed their lives.

As berries are abundant in this season, I made a small batch of strawberry with red wine jam couple of weeks ago.  I had made this last year too and I love the taste.  Since it has wine, I always make a small batch just for both of us.  We have not done the berry picking yet this year.  This time I would love to visit a blueberry farm and stock up some. We are looking forward for a farm visit with our friends soon before the season ends. 

6 cups - strawberry hulled and chopped
1/2 cup - dry red wine
1 cup - sugar
1 tbsp - lemon juice

  • Mix the wine, sugar and chopped strawberries in a non-reactive or glass bowl.  Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for 1 day.
  • Strain the juice and cook it in a sauce pan till it gets into 1/3rd the volume and thickens slightly.
  • Now add the strawberries and Cook for 10 minutes, use a potato masher to mash the strawberries and add lemon juice to it.  Cook for another 10 minutes by stirring occasionally.
  • Spoon 1 teaspoon of the jam on a clean cold plate (previously kept in the refrigerator).  Gently tilt the plate to see if the jam got thick and its not runny.  Turn off the burner and ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars.  Secure the jar lids and let them cool.  If you are not using the water bath canning method, refrigerate the jam immediately.
  • If you try to cook the jam with the juice, it will take longer and the color of the jam will not be appealing.  So reduce the amount of juice by cooking it separately as given in the directions.
  • The opened jar of the jam should be kept refrigerated.
  • If you want to keep the jam outside, follow one of the water bath sterilization technique.  There are lots of YouTube videos available that shows the canning.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fenugreek Leaves Stuffed Indian Flat Bread / Methi Ka Paratha

The most awaited summer is here and kids' schools are closed.  I have my veggie garden setup and I am still working on my patio plants.  My main chores after work on weekdays are cleaning up the garden.  Weeds seems to thrive better than plants and our lawn, so it's hectic to keep things pretty.  Besides weeds my nerve pulling visitor of my garden is deer.  They started munching on my roses and even my hydrangeas this year.  Hope they will find something else to satisfy their hunger and keep my plants alone.                                           

I had been pinning lots of great ideas from pinterest for the garden and been persuading my hubby to start the summer project for our garden.  Hope I will be able to share some decent pictures of my garden  soon.  Kids were super excited when we bought the hummingbird feeder a week ago.  The next day morning after hanging the feeder on a low height pole we noticed that the feeder was empty.  There was no way humming birds would have finished all the nectar and we suspect the deer is the culprit, as we had caught them feeding on the bird seeds few weeks ago.

                                    Deer having the breakfast...yes its from the bird feeder..

 So now the hummingbird feeder is hanged much higher, but for kids' disappointment the level of the nectar has not changed and we didn't notice any humming birds yet.  Last year I had lots of gladiolas in my garden and humming birds and butterflies were frequent visitors.  Hope this year the deer will let my gladiolas bloom again.

Summer time is packed with activities and busy weekends.  So I usually cook something quick and easy to spend more time outside.  But last week, I had some time off and made these Methi parathas and served them with some dum aloo (a mildly spicy & creamy dish made with baby potatoes and yogurt) for dinner.  It was absolutely delicious and my daughter was savoring on the gravy of the dum aloo after she had her parathas.

4 1/2 - 5 cups - whole wheat flour
2 cups - picked and chopped fresh Fenugreek leaves (refer notes)
1 1/2 cup - mashed potatoes
1/4 tsp - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - salt
1 tsp - chaat masala (refer notes)
1/2 tsp - ground ajwain seeds
1 1/2 cup - water
extra wheat flour for rolling
ghee for applying on paratha

  • Mix all the ingredients from the above list in a mixing bowl of stand mixer.  Attach the hook and knead for 5 - 6 minutes. Add extra flour if needed or till the dough form a ball which is not sticky anymore but soft and elastic.  If not using stand mixture, mix the ingredients using hand and knead till a non sticky smooth elastic dough ball is formed.  Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a tawa /cast iron flat pan or a flat pan.  Keep the heat on medium.
  • Divide the dough into 25 equal balls.  Dust the rolling surface with wheat flour.  Take the extra wheat flour is in a plate.  Dip a dough ball in flour and roll into a flat round paratha (don't worry if it doesn't come out round).  Place the rolled dough on the heated pan.  Cook it for 1 minute on one side.  Flip the side, you will see brown spots on top.  Cook the other side till small brown spots appear.  Remove from the pan and keep it in a caserole dish/ a dish with lid. 
  • Apply some ghee on top of the cooked paratha.
  • Make the rest of the parathas the same way.
  • Enjoy with your favorite curry.
  • You can get fenugreek leaves from Indian stores those carry fresh produce.  If you are buying the bunch, use a kitchen scissors to clip the roots off before separating the bunch.  This helps to get rid of most of the sand/dirt.  Make sure you wash the fenugreek leaves well to remove any dirt.  After washing the leaves, drain them in a colander to remove water.  Let them air dry for 10 - 20 minutes.  You can either pluck the leaves or use a kitchen scissors to chop the leaves including the tender part of the stem. 
  • You can get chaat masala from Indian stores.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Capunti With Sun Dried Tomatoes, Chicken Sausage & Goat Cheese

Being a foodie I am always fascinated by different cuisines and I like to try them in my kitchen.  Few weeks ago I picked up this different shaped pasta from my grocery store with the notion to make something interesting.  They had a wide range of Italian pasta those were imported and it was really hard for me to pass the aisle without adding them to my cart.  Are you interested in knowing different types and shapes of Pastas?  If so, check out the list of some of the pastas here.

My hubby had the chance to taste snails during his trip to France and he captured the video of the dish to show us what he had. But I have to admit that I am not daring enough to try something that is extremely exotic like that. I can try any vegetarian meal in any cuisine without any hesitation, but when it comes to non-veg I will be finicky. While on his trip to Europe from Work, he found time to visit the French market and got me few varieties of cheese. One among them was a block of Goat Cheese seasoned with crushed black pepper. I was thrilled and excited to try the new cheese and there originated my Capunti Goat Cheese combo and it was absolutely delicious. I went again yesterday to check out the grocery store for more imported pasta and there was no trace of such thing in that store. I may have to wait to get this pasta or may have to check some Italian grocery stores for decorative cut pastas.

I would say don't turn away from this recipe if you cannot find Capunti pasta, you can substitute it with any tubular or decorative cut pasta those are softer after cooking.   The best thing about this recipe is that you can prepare this dish within 20 minutes.


18.7 oz / 1. 2 lbs - Capunti pasta
1/4 cup - sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/2 tsp - dry Italian herb seasoning (oregano,basil, pepper, capers, garlic & olives)
2 cups - cooked & sliced Chicken sausage like Al Fresco
10 - grape/cherry tomatoes cut into half
1/4 cup - extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup - pasta water reserved from cooking pasta
2 cloves - garlic minced
1/2 cup - grated goat cheese
1/4 cup - fresh torn basil leaves
salt & pepper to taste

  • Cook pasta in salted water according to the package directions.  Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over the pasta so that they don't stick together.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the water in which you cooked the pasta.
  • While pasta is cooking  you can roast the minced garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil till golden brown in a sauce pan.  Add the Italian herb seasoning, sun dried tomatoes and reserved pasta water.  Cook it covered for 2 minutes.  Now add the sliced cherry tomatoes and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.  Add the cooked sausage slices.  Cook for another minute and turn off the burner.
  • Mix the drained pasta with the olive oil sauce you just prepared in the above step in a big bowl.  Add the fresh basil and grated goat cheese before plating the pasta.
  • You can use other shaped pasta those are smaller in size if you cannot find Capunti.  But Capunti has a soft texture and goes well with this recipe which makes this a special pasta dish.
  • You can substitute Chicken sausage with any sausage of your choice.