Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Apple Banana Strawberry Smoothie


In April you would expect April showers, but this year the rain was scarce. Last week we got some April Snow instead of April showers.  It just lasted for half an hour and melted.  The feel of spring is not in the air yet, because most of the days its cloudy and cold.
I see a flock of deer in my front yard most of the mornings.  They are out to reveal the presence of Spring by nibbling the tender tips of our tulips.  These were the special tulips my hubby got from Netherlands, but the lucky ones to enjoy them are the deer.  I literally gave up on tulips from last year.


 Last weekend was a sunny day even though the temperature was in the 40's.  I heard the lawn mower of our neighbors outside.  After such a long break of staying inside, everyone wants to come out in the sun and do something even though it is chilly.  Being a food blogger, the sunshine means time to click.  The easiest thing I could make was a smoothie before the sunshine fades.  When I made the first batch and took the pictures, my little ones came and asked if they could have it.  I gave them a small quantity to test because they like loads of sugar in the smoothie and I didn't add any in this smoothie.  To my surprise they asked for more and they finished everything.  I had to make another batch for rest of us.



Serves - 2

Ingredients:

2 - Apples cored, peeled and cubed
1 - medium size ripe banana peeled
2 - Strawberries hulled and quartered
1 cup - cold water

Directions:
  • Blend all the ingredients in a blender and enjoy them immediately with few pieces of ice.
Notes:
  • This smoothie should be enjoyed when it is fresh, otherwise it will change its color.
  • I didn't add any sugar/honey to the smoothie as it was already sweet.  You can add sugar/honey as per your taste.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kerala Style Spicy Mutton Curry



Mutton aka goat meat is classified as 'red meat' even though mutton fans claims it as healthier.  It’s consumed widely in Middle East, Northern Africa and Asia.  Mutton stew is a delicacy served with laced crepes during Christmas and Easter feasts in Christian families in Southern India.  I remember my dad used to buy mutton during the weekends when we were in North India, where you get the baby goats that are claimed as very tastier.  I was never a fan of mutton.  My hubby was neither a fan.  So I refrained from making mutton curry at home.  It was sometime during my pregnancy with my elder son, I started to like the spicy mutton curry my Mom specially makes for me during the occasional visits.  But my taste for mutton subsided very soon due to my bad experience with cooking this meat.  Every time it resulted in chewy stringy piece of meat due to lack of availability of good baby goat.  So I stopped buying it and my kids never developed a taste for it.  I would be an exception to the non-vegetarians, because, I never had heard from an Indian that they dislike Mutton.





I remember my grandma used to put papaya pieces while cooking the mutton which was then taken out when the curry was ready.  But I never knew the purpose of it; I always wondered what was the point of adding papaya to the curry.  Now I know that it was used as the meat tenderizer. The key to make a good mutton curry depends on the quality of the meat.  Meat from young goats and meat from young male goats won't have a leafy smell and they cook faster.  Older meat is best cooked through slow, moist cooking which takes more time to cook. Pieces with thigh bones enhance the flavor and juiciness of a good mutton curry.  Knowing the tips/trick to make a good mutton curry really helped me to experiment with the mutton curry that I prefer to eat.  Last Saturday I was determined to give my Mom's recipe a try with few changes that I thought would enhance the flavor to our liking. I have to say, the curry imparted the aroma that would have tickled the palates of any mutton lover even though I thought I should have cooked the mutton for couple more whistles in the pressure cooker to get a little more soft meat texture. 




When I was making the curry, my elder son Nathan was home and he was very much pleased with the aroma of the curry and he tried the gravy.  He gave me a thumps up, which is hard to get from him.  Since I got the confirmation from him, I was confident to do a post on my Experimental Mutton curry.  So I pulled my camera and clicked few shots for the post. This mutton curry had changed my attitude towards mutton and things are changing in the Thomas family now.  The younger ones still gave a big NO to the curry even without trying. But I am sure I can change their attitude towards mutton by making delicious mutton curry.


To marinate
2 lbs. - mutton pieces with bone
1 tbsp. - lemon juice
1/2 tsp. - salt
1/2 tsp. - freshly cracked pepper
1/2 tsp. - turmeric powder
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
5 - dry red chili broken into half & deseeded
1/4 tsp. - fenugreek/Methi seeds
1/4 tsp. - turmeric powder
1 cup - caramelized onion paste/2 red onions thinly sliced (refer notes)
1 tbsp. - ginger garlic paste
1 - medium size potato peeled, washed & cubed
1 - medium size carrot peeled, washed & cut into discs (optional)
2 1/2 cups - water
2 tbsp. - oil

Gravy Masala
1 1/2 tsp. - coriander powder
1 tsp. - hot chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. - red kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp. - garam masala (cinnamon, cardamom, clove, anise seeds & fennel powder)
1/4 cup - water
1/8th tsp. - asafoetida/hing powder
1 - bay leaf
1 tsp. - oil
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
salt to taste

Tadka
3 - small shallots thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. - mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. - freshly crushed coriander seeds
2 - dry red chili broken into half
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
1/4 tsp. - freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. - coconut oil

Directions:
  • Wash the meat thoroughly and drain.  I add some lemon juice and salt while washing the meat to remove any smell.
  • Now add the lemon juice, salt, pepper powder and turmeric powder to the meat pieces and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for minimum 1 hr.
  • In the pressure cooker, splutter 1/4 tsp. of fenugreek seeds in 2 tbsp. of oil and add dry red chili on low heat.  Once the red chili starts to change color, add the caramelized onion paste/the sliced onions with salt.  If using caramelized paste, just sauté for 1 minute, else cook till the onions starts to become translucent.  Then add the ginger garlic paste and turmeric powder; cook till the raw smell goes.  Add cubed potatoes and carrots.  Sauté for a minute.  Then add the marinated meat the pressure cooker and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups of water.  Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook till 6 whistle blows.  Once the pressure subsides, open the lid and check the texture of the meat.  If the meat is still tough, cook for couple more whistles.
  • Make a paste of chili powder, Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala ,asafoetida powder by adding 1/4 of water to the mix.  Heat one 1 tsp. of oil in a non stick pan, add the masala paste to the hot oil and cook by stirring continuously on low heat for 3 to 5 minutes till the raw smell is gone.  Add tomato paste/chopped tomato to this and cook for another minute till the paste comes together a big lump.  Turn off the flame and add the masala mix to the cooked meat along with a sprig of curry leaves in the pressure cooker.  Add one bay leaf; secure the lid and cook till 2 whistles blows.  Turn off the flame and let the pressure subside.
  • Mean time prepare tadka by spluttering the 1/2 tsp. of mustard seeds in coconut oil, add the crushed coriander seeds, sliced shallots, red chili, fresh ground pepper.  Sauté under low heat till the shallots become golden brown.  Turn off the flame and add the curry leaves. 
  • Transfer the mutton curry to the serving bowl and add the tadka above it.  Serve the mutton curry with Kerala Porota, rice or Indian flat bread like Roti or Naan.
Notes:
  • Since mutton/goat meat takes longer to cook, it is always better to add a meat tenderizer like papaya pieces or papaya paste.  Alternatively you can marinate the meat with lemon juice or yogurt.
  • It is advantageous to use a pressure cooker for this curry, otherwise you may have to slow cook the meat for at least an hour to get a tender texture.
  • You can add more water to the curry per your desired consistency.  I prefer thick gravy than runny gravy, so 2 1/2 cups of water was adequate to attain the thickness.
  • I used coconut oil for making the seasoned garnish/tadka which imparts the authentic aroma and taste of the Kerala style curry.  So I highly recommend the tadka made in coconut oil for this curry.
  • You can use tomato paste or fresh tomato in this curry.  Caramelized onion paste and tomato paste helped me to attain the thick consistency for the gravy.  



Friday, April 10, 2015

Green Smoothie With Apples, Avocado, Grapes And Spinach


The sun is shining bright through the window and fills me with the rapture to wake up from the passive mode of my blog.   I am enjoying some sunshine and a long waited vacation time.  Meantime I have the recipe for a green smoothie I tried.  I know the word 'Green Smoothie' is not well received by everyone.  The raised eyes brows, the disgusted look and unpleasant face are some of the common gestures people make when they hear the word 'Green Smoothie'.  But I think if we take baby steps in making green smoothies, it will be lot better than hopping all the way to the 'All Green Smoothie'.





This recipe includes only one green leafy vegetable.   Trust me, there is no leafy after taste because of the apple, grapes and honey added to this smoothie.  The nutrient rich Avocado and Spinach makes this smoothie a healthy and filling option for those who try to skip meal to lose the extra adipose.  Besides the ingredients in this smoothie helps to rejuvenate your skin, boosts up your immune system and provides hair health benefits.





Serves - 2 Adults

Ingredients:


1 - Avocado pitted and flesh scooped out
2 - Apples peeled, cored and cubed
20 - baby spinach leaves
25 - green seedless grapes
2 cups - cold water
1 tbsp. - honey



Directions:
  • Blend all the ingredients together in a blender and enjoy them immediately.
Notes:
  • You can increase the amount of water per desired consistency.
  • If using Green Granny Smith apples, you may have to adjust the amount of honey.  I used yellow apples in this recipe.
  • You can add few pieces of ice cubes too while blending the smoothie for a chilled smoothie.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lemon Yogurt Cake With Lemon Cream Cheese ButterCream Frosting






Happy Easter to everyone!!!  Kids got tons of candy from friends and school and I am in the hunt to find their hiding spots and keep them away.  But they somehow sense my hiding spots.  I remember the same story with my brother and me; my Mom used to hide the candy from us as we liked to feast on them when we were young.  My brother was an expert in detecting my Mom's candy hide out spots and we used to sneak in and eat the candy secretly.  I see wrappers all over the place in my house and I have to make my little one pick it up as he is the one who likes to leave it where ever he wants after gobbling them.  But the good thing about them is that they share the candy with their cousins and friends too.
 






Its spring break for kids here and they are having a gala time.  I didn't make anything special for Easter, but I made this Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Butter Cream frosting for my lil one's birthday.  Since his birthday was few days before Easter and we were observing lent, I made this eggless layered cake.  I think the pastel yellow color choice I made was apt and it fitted perfectly for an Easter recipe :)
  



The amount of frosting will be good enough if you are making a three layered cake otherwise there will be left over.  So instead of making a three tiered cake, I made 2 tiered cake and a single layer square cake and the frosting worked out good to decorate the 2 cakes.  You can reduce the recipe into half to decorate a 2 tiered cake.




Ingredients:
2 - 8 inch round lemon yogurt cakes
Filling
8 oz/226g              - plain cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cup/350gm - sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp                    - fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp                    - lemon zest
2/3 cup                   - cold heavy whipping cream
few drops of pastel yellow gel color

Frosting
2 8oz/226g                        - plain cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup/8 tbsp./1 stick   - unsalted butter at room temperature
4 cups/950g                     - sifted powdered sugar
2 tbsp.                                - fresh lemon juice
1 tsp.                                   - lemon zest
few drops of pastel yellow gel color to color half of the frosting

Directions:
  •  Bake two 8 inch lemon yogurt cakes by following the recipe for the lemon yogurt cake for each 8 inch cake.  The recipe makes one 8 in cake, so you need 2 such batches.  Refrigerate the cakes overnight.  The cake will be flat at the top, so no need to cut the cake.
Filling
  •  In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer beat the plain cream cheese till there are no lumps with the paddle attachment.  Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat till smooth.  Add lemon juice, lemon zest and color  and beat for 30 seconds.  Now change the paddle attachment and fit the whisk attachment.  Add the cold heavy whipping cream and whip till soft peaks are formed. 
  •  Apply the filling on top of the cake board and place the first cake.  Apply dollops of filling on the first cake and spread evenly.  Place the second cake and apply the frosting on top and crumb coat the cake with rest of the filling.  Cover the cake and refrigerate till the frosting is prepared.  There was little left over for me.
Frosting
  •  Beat the cream cheese till now lumps are found in a mixing bowl of a stand mixture using paddle attachment.  Now add butter and beat till the mixture is smooth.  Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and  beat till all the sugar is used.  Replace the paddle attachment with whisk attachment.  Add the lemon juice and lemon zest beat till stiff peaks are formed.  Scoop out half of the white frosting and place in  a bowl.  To the remaining white frosting in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer, add few drops of yellow color and whip till there are no streaks of yellow color are found and everything is mixed well.
Assembling
  •  Frost the cake using a offset cake spatula with the white frosting.  It was really hard to get the smooth edges as the frosting was not as stiff as butter cream frosting as I didn't add loads of sugar. I decorated  the cake with #2D tip to make stips, #22 tip to make stars are swirls and the edges, #2A to make small round shape.  I inserted few raspberries in between the edges.
  •  Refrigerate the cake if not using right away.  You can leave the cake outside for 2 hrs before cutting if the temperature is not too high.

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