Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cookies And Cream Ice Cream



I know it's again an ice cream recipe!!!  I am fully utilizing the ice cream maker I got last year.  And these ice creams are vanishing rapidly on these hot sunny days.  No matter if it's in Popsicle form or tub ice cream, kids love it.  I made a Popsicle batch with this recipe and the second batch I stored in containers and served them in waffle bowls and cones.  My kids loved them with warm chocolate syrup on it.  It is the creamiest ice cream I ever made.  I wanted the Cookies and Cream ice cream to be creamier as possible, so I decided to use the custard base and altered my real fruit ice cream recipe a bit here and there to get the texture I was looking for. 



After making the first batch of popsicle in the morning, I had one family who came over in the evening to say hi after dinner.  I thought to share the popsicles with them and I was shocked to see only 2 of them left when I opened the freezer.  I had no other option than to share the 2 popsicles with them.  I got raving comments and I was so glad that I decided to share what I had.




I don't claim this to be low fat recipe, but it is not too sweet either.  So it kind of balances.  After all, its homemade and you know exactly what goes in there.  To be guilt free, I serve them in small waffle cones, so that I know I am indulging my craving for a dessert with smaller quantity.  I insist that you try this recipe and I am sure you will fall for it!!!


Ingredients:
2 cups - whipping cream
2 cups - half and half
4 - egg yolks
1 cup - sugar
1/2 tsp - salt
1 tsp - vanilla extract
1/3 cup - crushed Oreos without cream

Directions
  • Whisk the egg yolks together in a bowl and keep it aside.
  • In a heavy bottom sauce pan, mix whipping cream, half & half, sugar and salt and bring to simmer.
  • Take 1 cup of the above cream and half & half mixture and pour into the egg yolk mixture by whisking continuosly.  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 continuosly on medium heat till the cream egg mixture thicken and coats on the back of the spoon when taken out.  Turn off the burner.
  • Add vanilla extract and stir well.
  • Pour the custurd through a fine mesh sieve to remove any coagulated egg.
  • Cover the custurd and refrigerate over night.
  • Make the ice cream according to the ice cream maker's instruction.  Add the crushed Oreos towards the last few minutes of the churning process into the ice cream.
  • Enjoy them fresh or store them in air tight container in the freezer.
  • Use crushed Oreos or chocolate syrup as topping  before serving.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mixed Berry Jam With Ginger and Orange

In Winter, I was yearning for warm weather and Sunny days so that I could post more recipes with pictures taken in bright light.  But when its summer, time is a big constraint in doing so.  I am really struggling hard to post at least one recipe per week.  I am pretty sure that might be a common thing most of the bloggers have to hurdle to keep it going!!!!
Last year we went for strawberry picking and ended up with tons of tiny strawberries as the harvest season was almost over.  But it was a fun packed activity to enjoy with family.  I made my first batch of strawberry jam last year.  Even though they were very tiny strawberries, they were very sweet and were deep red in color.  Later I experimented with blueberries and they were a hit in my family.  This year we didn't go for any berry picking.  But our local farmer's market were loaded with blueberries and strawberries as they were in abundance this year.  So I decided to try a mixed berry jam with some twist.  Since my first batch of experimental jam was a success, I went for a bigger batch this time.  I was really happy with the results and was able to share with my family too.



These jam bottles when packed and labeled could make a good gift for family and friends.  If you happened to go for berry picking or ended up buying lots of berries, then don't think twice, try this recipe and you will be not be disenchanted.  After all, what can be better than a homemade with love 'Mixed Berry Jam' :).



Yields - 4 (32 oz) jars

Ingredients
15 cups - hulled and chopped Strawberries & blueberries 
1 3/4 cup - sugar
1/3 cup - fresh orange juice
2 tbsp - fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp - orange zest
1 1/2 tbsp - finely grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  • Take a deep heavy bottom sauce pan.  Add the strawberries, blueberries and sugar to it.  With a potato masher or a big wooden spoon, mash the berries well.
  • Add rest of the ingredients to the pan and cook for 1 hr on medium heat.  Stir occasionally to bring the froth down.  After 1 hr take a cold spoon and scoop the hot jam and drop on a plate, if the jam looks thick enough and not runny when the plate is slightly tilted, its the right consistency.
  • Ladle the hot jam into sterilized storage jar (refer notes) and immediately close the lid.  This helps to create vacuum and seal the jars.  Once the jars and cooled completely store them in refrigerator.
Notes:
  • You can try with half the recipe if you don't want to make 4 jars of jam.
  • Don't skip the ginger and lemon zest, this gives a nice flavor to the jam.
  • Since the blueberries were really sweet, I added only 1 3/4 cups of sugar.  Adjust the sweetness per your taste.
  • Don't make the jam too thick, it will thicken as it cools down.  It is better to have a spreadable consistency for jams.
  • To Sterilize jars Bring a large pot of water to boil and carefully immerse the mason jars and their lids in the hot water.  Make sure that you don't put the plastic coated lid into the water.  Let it stay there for 5 minutes and boil.  Turn of the stove and let the water cool till you can transfer it to a clean surface and dry it completely.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Szechuan Shrimp


In one of my previous post, I had mentioned our love for Chinese food.    It is easy to fix a Stir fry or rice for dinner when time is a constraint.  So my pantry always has a stock of Chinese condiments.  Trial and error in my kitchen with Chinese recipes had yielded several mishaps and success.  One among them was the Szechuan Shrimp or Szechuan Chicken and I believe I got a fairly good grip on the technique to make this dish by now and it was endorsed by my hubby!!


We have a Chinese carry out place close to our house, which is at a walking distance from my daughter's eye clinic.  Whenever I had to take her to the doctor, I could never pass the Chinese place without buying the dinner.  The aroma that waves around that area is strong enough to tickle my palate and tempts me to get something from there.  To enforce my urge to buy Chinese food, kids impel me to do so and we end up having Chinese dinner.  It always amazes me to watch how the cooks toss the vegetables, splash the sauces without even measuring into the big wok and vigorously stir frying the dishes yielding a quick and lip smacking meal.  Peeking at the cooks how they perform their culinary tactics while chatting to the lady at the store is one thing I enjoy while going there. 




If you never tried making Chinese food at home, its about time to try your culinary skills and I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Ingredients

For Shrimp
30-40 - medium size shrimp cleaned
5 - cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tsp - ginger grated
2 tsp - sesame oil
1/2 tsp - pepper flakes
salt to taste

Vegetables to Stir Fry
1 - Onion cut into square pieces
2 - Carrots cut diagonal or long strips
2 cups - broccoli florets
1 cup - green & red peppers cut into square pieces
1/2 cup - button mushrooms sliced
1 - stem scallions chopped
1 tsp - sesame oil
1/4 tsp - pepper flakes
salt to taste

Sauce
1/3 cup - Soy Sauce
1 tsp - rice vinegar
2 tsp - brown sugar
1 tsp - corn starch
1/4 cup - water
1/4 tsp - pepper flakes
2 - 3 tbsp - sesame oil

Directions
  • Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and keep it aside.
  •  In a wok or cast iron pan, add 1 tsp of sesame oil and add the vegetables and stir fry on high heat for 1- 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper flakes to season.  Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.
  • In the same wok add 2 tsp of sesame oil and cook the garlic and ginger till golden brown.  Add the shrimp, salt and pepper flakes and cook till shrimp is half done.  Add the sauce into the shrimp and lower the flame and cook till sauce gets thicker. 
  • Add the stir fried vegetables into the shrimp and give a good stir and turn off the heat.
  • Garnish the Szechuan Shrimp with chopped scallions and enjoy with chinese fried rice.
Notes
  • The key in making stir fries is to use high heat and less oil.  A wok or cast iron pan works better in this case.
  • Don't over cook the vegetables.  They need to be crisp and crunchy for this dish.
  • You can use any meat of your choice in this dish.
  • Adjust the pepper flakes as per your spice level.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Orange Creamsicles



The official day of summer was here few weeks ago and we had few days with temps in the 90's.  It was a good reason for me to start experimenting with some summer treats that helped to quench the scorching heat.  When sunny days are anticipated and plans are made the weather becomes unpredictable these days, it's getting record hot temperature at different parts of the nation and getting cooler for last few days where we live.



 I had been longing for high temperature to use the new Popsicle molds that I got early spring.  Among the flavors my kids demanded for Popsicle experiments, the easy one was orange.  To jazz up the regular orange flavor, I decided to experiment it with cream and it resulted in delicious creamsicles.  I was more than happy to make more of these treats for my kids when it finishes each time, as I knew that they are enjoying a healthy treat which is loaded with Vitamin C from the orange juice and the nutrition from dairy.  To be honest, its not just a kids treat, we do enjoy them too.  They are irresistible and full of citrus flavor which my family loves.   I got raving comments from my family and the kids in my neighborhood who tasted these treats.   So if you don't have a Popsicle mold, don't hold yourself from buying a set, I ensure you that these creamsicles are the best summer treats you don't want to miss.


Ingredients

Cream layer
2 cups - whipping cream
2 cups - freshly squeezed orange juice without pulp
1/2 cup - sugar
1/2 - lemon juice
1 tsp - orange zest

Orange layer
4 tbsp - orange concentrate
1 tbsp - sugar
3/4 cup - water

Directions
  • Combine all the ingredients for the orange layer and pour the juice to fill 1/4 th of each Popsicle mold.  Reserve the rest in the refrigerator for another batch.  Freeze it for 30 minutes to 1 hr.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the cream layer with a long spoon.  Pour up to 3/4 th of the Popsicle mold with the cream mixture.  Insert the Popsicle sticks and freeze up to 4 hrs.
  • Store the rest of the cream mixture covered in the refrigerator till the first batch is ready and make rest of the popsicles.
Notes
  • You can skip the orange layer completely and just use the cream mixture.  I had made these 3 or 4 times now and my usual is just one layer of creamsicle.
  • Store the Popsicles in the ziplock bag or glass container in the freezer till ready to be served.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kerala Style Pumpkin Red Beans Curry/ Mathanga Payar Curry


 Any kind of gourd curry is well appreciated in my family.  So I try to make use of them by mixing with protein rich vegetables to serve up a healthy dish.  Mixing them with legumes is the traditional Keralite style of cooking Acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin... you name it.  These gourds are available in different shapes, sizes and are best available during fall season.  I prefer them less ripe when making traditional Keralite curries.  So I grab them whenever I eye them in the market during off seasons.  I do freeze the left over pumpkin, which comes handy when you don't want to spend time cutting and deseeding them to make a quick dish.



Little about Pumpkin
The origin of Pumpkins is unknown,  even though they are believed to be originated in North America.  This gourd is very versatile in their uses in cooking.  Their leaves, flowers and seeds are edible along with their flesh.  They are widely used from dishes ranging from simple Salads to indulging desserts.  Researches indicate that the Phytochemicals found in Pumpkins can significantly reduce the blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides.  Their higher fiber content helps to stimulate digestion.  Apart from their use in cooking, they are used to make jack-o-lanterns during Halloween season in North America.



Red Beans Info
Red beans or Azuki beans are widely used in Keralite dishes.  They are widely cultivated in NorthEast Asia and are readily available in Indian stores.  These beans require overnight soaking before cooking.  Like other beans the water in which the beans are soaked should be discarded, because they contain toxins.  Soaking the beans releases these toxins into the water and when cooked these toxins will be completely eliminated.  So it is always recommended to soak any kind of beans before cooking them.

Ingredients
3 cups - Pumpkin seeded and cubed
1/4 cup - Red beans soaked over night and pressure cooked (refer notes)
1 -  white onion chopped
2 - cloved garlic cut into halves
4 - small green chili splits
1 - tomato chopped
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
1 1/2 cup - water
salt to taste

To grind
1/2 cup - grated coconut
1/4 tsp - cumin / jeera
5 - small shallots/pearl onions
1 - dry red chili
1/4 tsp - turmeric powder
1/4 cup - water

Tadka/Garnish
3 - shallots thinly sliced
1/4 tsp - mustard seeds
1 tbsp - grated coconut
1 tbsp - oil
1 - sprig curry leaves

Directions
  • Pressure cook all the ingredients from the first list except the cooked beans till 2 whistle blows.
  • Meanwhile the pumpkin is cooking grind all the ingredients from the second list to a smooth paste and keep it aside.
  • Once the pressure subsides, mash the pumpkin using a potato masher or a laddle.  Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup of water if the mashed pumpkin is too thick.
  • Add the cooked red beans and the coconut paste to the mashed pumpkin and cook till it boils for 2 - 3 minutes.  Turn off the flame.
  • In a non-stick/cast iron pan, splutter 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in 2 tbsp of oil.  Add the shallots and grated coconut.  Cook till it turns golden brown.  Turn off the flame and add the curry leaves.
  • Garnish the curry with tadka and serve with warm steamed rice.
Notes
  • I usually soak 1/2 cup of red beans overnight and presure cook them with 1 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt till 4 whistle blows.  I freeze the rest of the red beans in glass containers for later use.  Make sure not to over cook the beans.
  • Pressue cooking the beans and pumpkin together tends to lose the yellow color of the curry, so I always cook them separate.
  • Adjust the amount of chili if the pumpkin is sweet.
  • I don't use lot of water to cook the pumpkin, I prefer this curry to be thick.

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