26 November 2009

Upside-down mixed berries cake

Serves 6

1 stick of salted butter
3/4 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk - I used 1% lactose free milk
1/2 cup frozen mixed berried - do NOT defrost before use
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  2. In a small bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. In a larger bowl, beat sugar and butter at medium speed until it forms a granular mix. Add one egg at a time and beat it in until mixed.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the flour mix and beat it a low speed, enough to incorporate it completely.
  5. Add cream and continue beating. Next add flour mix, beat it, followed by milk. Add the rest of the flour. With every ingredient added make sure you beat it to incorporate it completely.
  6. Fold in the frozen berries.
  7. Transfer to a buttered baking dish (8"x8") and sprinkle some sugar on the top. Bake for 45 mins until its brown on the top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

20 November 2009

Roasted ratatouille pasta

Another one of my weeknight creations reeking of impatience :) I love that I can chop up a bunch of veggies, stick them into the oven with salt and pepper and dinner's ready!
Serves 3
1 large eggplant, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 large red onion, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes strained - save atleast 1/3 cup of juice
Crushed red pepper
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsps of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsps of olive oil
1 1/2 cups of pasta
  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except the pasta in a 9x13" baking dish.
  3. Bake for 45 mins until veggies are completely cooked.
  4. 5 mins before done - cook the pasta in 2 cups of salted water and reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water.
  5. Mix the pasta into the eggplant mix and add the pasta water if more sauce is required. Stir to combine.
  6. Garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

18 November 2009

Shepherds pie

This is a quick one pot dish. Great for cooking on a week night with fresh winter produce - potatoes, onions and carrots.

Serves 4

1 lb ground meat - I used mutton
3 large pototoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 large yellow onion, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 cup string beans, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 cup of carrots chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsps of butter
2 tsps fresh thyme
1 tbsp of fresh cream
  1. Steam cubed potatoes until they are cooked through. Mash them with cream, salt, pepper and thyme . I used my food processor.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
  3. Heat some oil in an oven safe pot. Saute onions and garlic with salt until they are slightly browned and translucent.
  4. Add carrots and beans and cook for 5 more mins.
  5. Add the meat, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook until the meat is brown. Add 2 tbsps of water if the meat mix is completely dry.
  6. Turn off the heat and layer the mashed potatoes over the meat and onions. Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until the top layer is golden-brown.
  7. Garnish with fresh thyme. I served this with a side of sauteed chard.

Note: Consider adding peas to this recipe as well. I didn't have any on hand.

16 November 2009

Chicken soup

I have a mild ear ache, nagging headache and I feel like I am breathing in through only one of my nostrils. sigh..and its cold and gray outside. Chicken soup makes it all a little better.
Serves 6

6 chicken drumsticks, skinned
5 cups of water
Bouquet garni - small bunch of parsley, 5-6 sprigs of thyme and 2 sprigs of rosemary
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
8-9 shallots sliced
3 bay leaves
5-6 whole peppercorns
1 tbsp of flour
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Heat a couple of tbsps of oil in a soup pot and add the chicken. Let the chicken brown until it comes off the pot easily and let it brown on the other side as well. Set aside.
  2. Add shallots to the oil and cook until wilted and translucent. Add some salt to help with the wilting.
  3. Add garlic cloves and flour. Stir quickly for less than a minute and add 1/2 of water. Scrape the bottom the pot with a wooden spoon to remove brown bits.
  4. Now add the rest of the water, bouquet garni, bayleaves and peppercorns.
  5. Allow the water to come to a quick simmer. Add chicken legs. Bring to a boil, add salt, lower the heat, cover and cook for 35 mins until the chicken is done.
  6. When done, remove the bouquet garni and bay leaves. Squeeze some lemon juice into it before serving.

12 November 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Adapted from H's mom's recipe

2 green bell peppers
3 medium-sized potatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper pwdr
1/2 tsp cumin pwdr
1/2 green chilli, chopped fine

Boil the potatoes to cook them thoroughly. Peel the skin off, and mash them well. Add the turmeric, cayenne, cumin powders, chopped green chilli and salt to season.

Now, take the whole bell peppers and slice off the top with the stem. Empty out the inside contents to create a hollow which can be stuffed with the potato filling. Scoop the potato filling inside. Arrange the filled bell peppers on a greased baking tray and bake for 20-25 mins at 375F. I turned the gas mark to broil for the last 5 mins of baking to allow the outer skin of the pepper to roast.

11 November 2009

Cabbage-peas poriyal

Source: Vegetarian cuisine from South India by Chandra Padmanabhan

Serves 4

2 tsps olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)
1 tsp bengal gram dal (chana dal)
1 dried red chilli crushed
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
4-5 curry leaves
500g of chopped cabbage
1 cup of peas

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, red chilli, asafoetida powder and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds begin to sputter, add chopped cabbage, peas and salt to taste.
  2. Stir to mix well. Cover, lower heat and let cook until cabbage is tender and cooked through.
  3. Serve hot. If you prefer, garnish it with dessicated coconut right before removing it off the heat.

Andhra Mutton Curry

Source: Once again, Ms. Punjabi's 50 Great Curries of India

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli pwdr
1/2 tsp cayenne pwdr
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
a few sprigs cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lb stewing lamb
1 1/2 large onions, chopped fine
4 green cardamoms
4 cloves
2 tomatoes, chopped fine
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (i skipped this because I didn't have it)

Whisk the yogurt, turmeric, ginger-garlic pastes, chilli and cayenne pwdrs and the cilantro leaves together to make a thick marinade. Coat the meat with this mixture, and marinate for 1-2 hours.

In a deep pan, add oil and when heated add the cardamoms and cloves. After 1 minute, add the chopped onion and let it brown for 5-7 minutes. When onions are browned, add the meat mixture. Let the meat cook on medium/ low heat for 15 minutes, until the marinade is absorbed. Make sure you are stirring continuously so that the marinade does not burn. I noticed that at the end of 15 mins, the water from the yogurt had evaporated and the gravy had taken on a slightly brownish color. Now, add the tomatoes and cook again for 5 mins till the water is absorbed. Add the curry leaves, caraway seeds and salt. Cook for 2 minutes.

At this point, I transferred the contents of the pan into a slow cooker, added 3 cups water, and let the meat cook for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can add 2-3 cups water to the pan on the stove and cook the meat covered on slow heat until it is tender.

This recipe was DELICIOUS and is a MUST TRY! I thought it would turn out too spicy, but the yogurt tempers the chilli powders. ENJOY!

08 November 2009

Chicken Liver Mousse


1) Chicken Livers (1 lb )

2) Shallots

3) Garlic

4) Thyme & Rosemary

5) Port


Whoa, flashed back to chem lab in high-school, my nasty chem teacher wouldn't let me in, if the notes weren't done in a particular format. Hah...this'll show her!!!! I can make chicken liver pate and blog about it now....hah!! who had the last laugh Mrs B!

Anyways, coming back to the livers, first pat down the livers with a kitchen towel and salt & pepper them, add plenty of red chilli flakes (if you want some kick). Heat a heavy bottomed pan, use some high heat oil and make sure the pan is really hot, brown the livers on both sides about 3 to 4 minutes a side, the livers are done when they are slightly firm to the touch. To be sure, check the livers to see if they are slightly pink on the inside, that's done.

Get rid of the burnt oil, fry the chopped shallots and garlic with the herbs, just for a few minutes. Then add some port, reduce it down to a couple of tablespoons. Almost forgot, keep salting at each stage.

You're almost done!!, now combine everything in a food processor and blend!! Since this is not a Pate (i don't have the patience to put in the accent, so just imagine it's there) but a Mousse, sieve the blended product to smoothen it out and then fold in some heavy cream. Oh also, before you begin blending add in half a stick of butter...(haha, serves you right for not reading all the way to the end before starting.). All done now.


This soup looks fussy but was a surprisingly quick soup to make. I made the fish broth a day in advance.
Source: James Peterson's Splendid Soups
Serves 8

Fish broth - base of the soup
4 pounds of fish bones
2 medium sized onions, sliced
4 shallots sliced
a small bunch of fresh thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
3 cups of dry sherry or white wine

Soup thickener - picada
6 - 1/2" slices of french baguette
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup blanched almonds
1 ancho chilli - soaked in boiling water for 20 mins, seeded and coarsely chopped
8 cloves of garlic
salt to taste

To finish the soup
8 fillets of white fish
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup picada

For the fish broth:
  1. Soak fish bones in water for 30 mins. Change the water a couple of times to make sure that the fish bones are clean. Thorougly rinse the bones.
  2. In a 4-quart pot, combine the bones with all the broth ingredients and add enough water to cover all the bones.
  3. Bring the broth to a slow simmer and simmer for 30 mins. Strain the broth.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. In a seperate baking dish, spread out the almonds. Toast bread and almonds until the bread and almonds are well toasted.
  2. Combine olive oil, ancho chilli, garlic and almonds in a food processor. Process until you get a smooth paste. Add toasted bread and ladle in a few spoon fulls of fish broth. Process until you get a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.

To finish the soup:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot. Add the picada and stir to cook for 2 mins.
  2. Pour in 10 cups of fish broth, adjust for salt and bring to a slow simmer.
  3. Poach the fish fillets, a few at a time.
  4. Serve each fillet in a soup bowl, ladle in the fish soup and garnish with fresh thyme.

05 November 2009

Moroccon-style Lamb soup with dried apricots

Adapted from Splendid Soups by James Peterson

Serves 6

2 lbs of lamb stew meat - you can also use lamb shanks cut crosswise
1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves - chop 2, leave the rest unpeeled and whole
2 quarts of chicken or veggie broth or water
3 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1-inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
pinch of saffron
1 2-3 inch cinnamon stick
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried figs
3 small bulbs of fennel, sliced crosswise
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  1. In a 4 qt soup pot over high heat, brown the lamb in half the olive oil. Transfer browned meat to a slow cooker with the broth and unpeeled garlic cloves. Cook over high for 3 hours.
  2. When you have 30 mins left on the slow cooker: In the 4-quart pot over medium heat, cook onions and chopped garlic in the remaining olive oil until lightly browned, about 5 mins. Add turmeric, ginger and saffron. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add cinnamon, tomatoes, apricots, figs, fennel, salt and pepper to the pot. Ladle out 1 cup of broth from the slow cooker into the pot and simmer gently for 20 mins.
  4. Now add the meat from the slow cooker to the pot. Drain the broth - I saved it to use later.
  5. Simmer for another 10 mins. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 mins more.
  6. Just before serving add a dash of white wine vinegar and garnish with almonds and cilantro.

02 November 2009

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds & Pistachios

I was first introduced to this recipe a few years ago by our friends Dan & Deborah who were gracious to share this recipe. Served with a mixed greens salad and a simple dessert of stroopwafles (available at World Market) & fresh blackberries, it made for a perfect autumnal meal. I won't even get into the cheese platter!

I have since made this dish a few times and it never fails to garner the oohs, aahs and yumms.

Serves four

2-3 Tbsp ghee (or olive oil with a pat of butter)
2 onions, finely chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 lbs lean lamb (shoulder or leg) cut into bite size pieces
8 oz moist, pitted dates
1 Tbsp dark honey
Ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pat butter
2-3 Tbsp blanched almonds
2 Tbsp shelled pistachios
Small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed casserole or tagine and saute onions till golden brown.
  2. Stir in spices. Add meat and toss to coat with spice mixture.
  3. Pour in enough water to almost cover meat and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for about 90 minutes.
  5. Add dates and stir in honey. Simmer another 30 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
  7. Heat olive oil with butter in a small pan and stir in nuts. Cooks till they begin to turn golden.
  8. Scatter nuts over the top of the lamb and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with couscous.

01 November 2009

Shrimp Quesadillas

After a week-long hiatus, courtesy a licensing exam, I was able to finally return to posting on the blog. Sunday evening with very little in the fridge, I decided to try some homemade Mexican food. Now, quesadillas are not the most difficult thing to make, but the combination of these ingredients made it fresh and surprisingly light!

I tweaked some of the ingredients from this recipe on Closet Cooking

Serves 2

4 large corn tortillas
20 shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked (I used frozen shrimp which were cooked)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1/4 white onion, chopped fine
1 tsp chaat masala* (the original recipe calls for cumin pwdr but I found this substituted better)
handful of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup mexican cheese mix, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want that extra kick)

Cut the shrimp into small pieces and add the onion, jalapeno, chaat masala, cilantro, and lemon juice. Add salt (if using chaat masala, remember that it has salt in it). Set this marinated shrimp aside for 20 mins.

Heat a flat pan, and place tortilla on it. Pile on the shrimp mixture and top with grated cheese. Allow the tortilla to get a little crisp, by which time the cheese will also have melted slightly. Now place another tortilla on top, and flip the whole thing over gently to allow second side to crisp.

Cut into pieces and serve with sour cream and salsa.

* Chaat masala is a spicy tangy mixture of several Indian spices, readily available in Indian stores