Friday, October 31, 2008

Simply Zucchini Crostini

Crostini is an Italian appetizer or starter with savoury toppings on fried/toasted bread.It literally means little crusts".It is usually made by slicing crusty bread and toasting/grilling in the oven drizzzling with oil and served with a variety of toppings.Here I have tried to create a crostini without bread and using zucchini instead.I have seen recipes where toasted bread is topped with zucchini and I decided to zucchini itself as a base.It was a quick and delightful treat and so here it is.


Zucchini: 1 large
Tomatoes: 1-2
Mozarella Cheese : few small slices/shredded
Salt&Pepper: as per taste


Cut zucchini into little bit thick round slices -no need to peel the zucchini.Place these in a baking sheet and season both sides with salt,pepper and your choice of seasoning and drizzle with olive oil/use cooking spray.Broil for 7-10 minutes or until they start to brown.If the slices are too thick then boil the other side for 2-3 minutes as well.They should be correctly cooked -thats the idea.

In a bowl,cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper.You can add any other seasoning like chilli flake,basil,oregano etc as per taste.I have stuck to the basic salt and pepper only.

Take a round broiled slice of zucchini and top it with tomato pieces.Top the tomato with a small piece or shreds of mozarella cheese and place it back on the baking sheet.Do so with all the slices.Now place the baking sheet in the oven and broil these for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese starts melting.

Serve as a colourful and tasty veggie appetizer or even a healthy snack.It is savoury and though softer compared to normal crostini,it is crunchy and healthy.Zucchini makes it crunchy that is.

Zucchini is actually an immature fruit of the zucchini flower though it is treated as a vegetable.It belongs to the Curcubita Pepe or the gourd family and is a summer squash and so this entry is my contribution to Waiter there's Something in my Gourd event held this time by the creator herself,CookSister.

This healthy appetizer also goes to EC of SimpleIndianFood WYF:PartyFood event

Roasted Pears with Sweet Couscous

Pears are fall fruits.They are also an excellent source of natural dietary fibre.At the same time they have no calories and is found to sustain blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart diseases and certain cancers,thus making it a part of healthy diet.I love pears as such and use different varieties available in US,but here I have roasted them and have stuffed them with sweet couscous for a warm filling dessert. (Idea Source: have earlier stuffed mushroom with savoury couscous,but I also enjoy this sweet version.

Pears: atleast 2
Melted Butter: 1 -2 tbsp

Couscous: 2-3 tbsp
Dried Cranberries(craisin)/raisins/dried fruits/apricots :handful
Nuts(your choice): handful
Sugar: as per taste

Peel and halve the pears.Using knife/fork/weapon of choice,remove the seeds.Then using a spoon,carefully create a deep cavity/hole inside each pear half.Else,we are creating a pear boat.Apply melted butter on both sides of a pear boat and keep it in a baking sheet.Do so with all pear boats and then roast these under the broiler for 6 -8 minutes each side.Keep aside.

While the pear boats are roasting,we can prepare the sweet couscous.In a small saucepan,mix water and sugar together and bring to boil.Simmer and add raisins/craisins and your choice of nuts.I used craisins and walnuts.It would be better if the nuts were toasted.Add couscous,mix well and then switch off.Cover and keep aside for five minutes till couscous gets cooked.Use water depending on the amount of couscous.If ther is more water than couscous,it will be like couscous pudding or something.

Take a pear boat and stuff the cavity,with spoonfuls of sweet couscous and garnish with more dried fruits and nuts and serve warm.

This warm peary dessert is on its way to Fresh Produce of the month:Pears, to Martha-a lovely Italian in the US.

Another closer look..

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Classic Caramel Sauce

Caramel is a range of canfections dark brown/beige in color and derived from caramelization(removing of water) from any type of sugar.It can be used to provide flavour in puddings and other desserts and filling for candies etc.
Caramel is also a soft dense chewy caramel-flavoured candy made by boiling,milk,sugar,butter and/or cornsyrup.It is also known as milk caramel.Normally this milk caramel sauce is the base for making dessert sauce and several toffees/candies.I came across a classic milk caramel sauce at Simplyrecipes and decided to try it.I followed the recipe as such and since I had only quarter cup of cream,I halved the recipe.So here it is.

White Sugar: 1/2 cup
Unsalted Butter: 3 tbsp
Heavy Cream: 1/4 cup


Keep all the ingredients ready and at hand.The entire process takes only few minutes and involves a lot of heat,so make sure you are fully concentrating in this task.

Heat sugar and water in a thick bottomed sauce pan.Stir well using a whisk or wooden spoon till boiling point.Once bubbles appear,stop stirring.From this point on,you can only swirl the pan if needed.As soon as all the sugar is melted,you will get a beige/dark amber colour.Immediately add the butter and whisk vigourously till entire butter is melted.Once butter is melted,remove from gas.Take a deep breathe and count till three.Slowly blend in cream and whisk until the sauce is smooth.Cool in the pan for a few minutes.Then pour in a sterilized glass jar and let it cool to room temperature.This can be refirgerated for upto 2 weeks.Warm it up before serving.It can be used to top icecream,desserts and as a filling for candies.

This is a wonderful sweet and easy recipe and do follow the notes and tips and wonderful pictorial recipe here while making your own caramel sauce.

This sauce is my entry to MBP:Sauces,an event started by Coffee and currently hosted by Rachel.

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is a variety of thick Italian soups created with seasonal vegetables,beans and pasta or rice.It can be vegetarian,meat based or contain meat/chicken broth and thus has no set recipe.Common ingredients are beans,tomatoes,onion,carrot etc.Here I have recreated a minestrone soup which I saw in WomansDay magazine with little adjustments as per items available and it was perfectly comforting.


Onion: 2 medium
Garlic: 1 clove
Carrot: 1 medium
Zucchini: 1 small or 1/2 cup chopped
White Navy Beans: 1/2 cup
Green Beans: few
Elbow Macaroni: 1/4 cup
Tomatoes: 2 medium
Salt: as per taste

Spices as per taste and choice/availability
Red pepper flakes
Dried parsley

Grind together:
Parmesan Cheese: 1-2tbsp
Parsley/cilantro leaves: 1/4 cup chopped or more
Garlic: 1 clove peeled


Soak the beans overnight and pressure cook it with little salt.You can also use prepared canned beans by draining and rinsing them.Finely chop onions and mince the garlic.Cut all the vegetables into smaller pieces so that they cook faster.

Heat olive oil in a soup pot and then add chopped onions.Cook until brown ,stirring occasionally.Add minced/crushed garlic and cook until fragrant.Then add water and also veg broth if you are using.I only added water -2-3 cups.Bring to a boil,adding salt.Then add macaroni pasta,carrots and other vegetables and boil for 10 minutes or until done.Then add 3/4th of cooked beans,spices and more salt if needed and simmer for few more minutes.Grind together remaining beans,parsley/cilantro,cheese and garlic.I used cilantro.Add chopped tomatoes to the soup along with half of the ground paste.Mix well.

Serve hot along with extra cilantro paste.You can top the soup with a dollop of paste or serve the paste as a side.The paste can also be used as a dip.

The picture was taken at night-dark and chilly and on a full soupy stomach.This was the last bowl,which I captured in the available light,before it was devoured.The pic may not be that tempting,but the soup surely is and is perfect for chilly nights.This goes to Sra of WhenMySoupCameAlive who is currently hosting Legume Affair-FourthEdition,an event started by Susan of WellSeasonedCook,and an event which I long wanted to take part but could not do so due to laziness,lack of recipes and and all other crazy things.

Award Time:
I have been given the "HARD WORKING FOOD BLOGGER" award by PRIYA of EasyNTastyRecipes. THANKS PRIYA FOR THINKING OF ME.

I have also been awarded the delicious "Chocoholic Award" by Yasmeen of HealthNut and Rekha of PlantainLeaf.Sweet Award from Sweet Girls and lets celebrate with chocolate.THANKS YASMEEN & REKHA,I surely am a chocoholic.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chocolate Nut Shortbread with Stewed Apples

Enid Blyton needs no introduction. A prolific story teller for young and old readers.I still enjoy reading her,and am excitingly waiting for my daughter to grow up and jump into reading world especially Blyton's works.Actually most of my summer holidays were spent reading her and one of her best book is 'Naughtiest Girl in School Series'. The four book series tells you the story about young and short tempered Elizabeth Allen and how the spoilt girl adjusts to the life in a boarding school and grows up to become an accomplished human being.

The first book -'Naughtiest Girl in School' starts with a short tempered girl who is getting ready to go to supposedly wonderful Whyteleafe School and she is stubbornly determined to come back home.On reaching there she gets herself into trouble knowingly and sometimes unknowingly and we can see that she comes out grown up and sensible from each and every incident.Well,we can always say'its always like that,a hero/heroine will come out unscathed at the end',but when I was reading it for the first time,I was transported virtually to a residential school in English countryside -full of greenery,a castle for school,riding horses,vegetable garden,going for shopping with a friend to a town mall wearing my warm winter clothes etc.As for the food,it was the first time I came to know about currant flavour.I made my mother order currant icecream if not a currant cake like Elizabeth.

When I found that the BookClub members have chosen Naughtiest Girl for October,I was more than happy to be part of it.It is a book to be lived,devoured and felt and so is the food from the book.I wanted to make currant cake,but I could not find any.Currant in certain cases can be substituted with raisins,but not in a currant cake.So I have satisfied myself with a Chocolate Nut Shortbread(Elizabeth's tuck box had this) which I served along with stewed apples(idea from the same book)-for a warm delightful dessert.Well,shortbread can be had anytime,it is a cookie,but me being naughtiest came upon this :D

A Shortbread is a cookie made of one part sugar,two part butter and three part flour or oats.Oats are traditionally used though substituted by flour.Shortbread have a crumbly texture(butter/shortening inhibits the formation of gluten strand making it crumbly) and are called so beause of the high fat content(shortening).They are baked at low temperature to avoid too much browning.Mine had cocoa and melted chocolate,so it was brown,naturally.Also a shortbread can be shaped as a large circle,smaller individual circles/cookies or thick wedges or bars.

All Purpose Flour: 1-1/4 cup
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: 2 tbsp
White Sugar: 1/4 cup + more for glazing
Salt:a pinch
Cold Unsalted Butter: 1 stick
Semisweet Chocolate chips: 1/4 cup OR 1 square baking chocolate
Walnuts: 1/4 cup finely chopped

In a bowl,add flour,cocoa powder,white sugar,salt and whisk well to blend evenly.Cut in slices of cold butter into this and pinch and fluff the butter in the mix so that the entire mix looks like moist sand.Finely chop walnuts or any other nuts you have and melt the chocolate chip.You can melt in a microwave or double boiler as per convenience and choice.Add the melted and a bit cooled chocolate and walnuts to the sand like dough and fold in.

Transfer the dough to a greased baking sheet and pat into a thick 1/4 or 1/8 inch circle.Also you can halve the dough,round each half into a smooth circle on separate baking sheets.Smoothen the edges of the circle with a spoon and also make impressions on top.(They will be lost unless they are firm/big)Sprinkle sugar on top and using a sharp knife cut the circle into even no: of wedges-first half,then quarters and then fourth like that.Leaves the wedges in place.

Bake on a preheated oven at 300F for exactly 1 hour.Cool for a few minutes.Cut the wedges apart and serve as per choice.

I served them for dessert along with stewed apples.Stewed apples is nothing but apples stewed in water,sugar and spices and is easy to make.

Apple: 1peeled,cored,chopped into small cubes
Butter: 1-2 tbsp
Brown sugar,Cinnamon,Nutmeg: as per taste

Melt butter in a pan and add brown sugar and little water and bring to boil.Add apple cubes and spices and cover and cook for a few minutes or until tender.I did not cook long as I wanted the apples to hold shape.So add water only as much as needed.Serve as such or as a side dish.

You can serve like this placing the warm apples atop the shortbread

Now let me see what other naughtiest girls(Simran,Bhags,Rachel,Dee,Aparna,Sunshine Mom,Siri,Srimathi) are upto.I will update post as each gal post her school food.Then we are all going to Wonderland with Alice entire November.If you want to join us in Wonderland do comment here or any other naughtiest girl post or especially the Head Girl Simran.

Simran and Aparna had also made shortbread :) - Great Minds and Naughtiest Girls Think alike;

Friday, October 24, 2008

Whole Wheat Oats and Raisin Cookies

This is a very simple recipe obtained from Heart Healthy Cookbook by Tarla Dalal.What attracted me to this recipe -titled 'oats and raisin biscuits' -was that there were no butter or eggs and only low-fat milk which I substituted with soy milk.Oats are rich in fibre and a good substitute to the fattening all purpose flour.Also raisins are rich in antioxidants though they contain sugar 60% of which is fructose.Here's the recipe.


Oats(old fashioned/quick cooking): 3/4 cup
Whole wheat flour: 1/4 cup
Brown sugar: 1/4 cup
Rasins: 1/4 cup
Soy milk/low fat milk: 2 tbsp
Vegetable Oil: 1 tbsp

In a big bowl,mix together oats,wheat flour,sugar and raisins.Add the milk(I used soy milk) and oil and mix well to form a dough.Pinch off small portions and lay them on a greased baking sheet.Flatten the cookies a little using the back of a spoon/fork/hand.bake on a preheated oven at 360F for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are done.Cool for a few minutes on a rack.Serve with milk/your favourite beverage or whatever way you wish.

The recipe called for 20 minutes baking time,but this makes the cookies harder.Check after 10 minutes,and go maximum 15 minutes.Even after this you feel the cookies are not done,its okay as they harden upon cooling.They turned out a bit harder(check baking time) but insides were chewy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Savoury Scallion Scones

We normally associate scones as sweet items.They are normally served at High Tea and are traditionally English.I had earlier made sweet jelly filled scones ,but when I saw a savoury bacon & scallion/spring onion scone in Julia's GrowCookEat site I was intrigued.I decided to try it out or rather veganize it with little adjustments and it turned out perfect .Here it is.


Scallion/Spring Onions:2-3
Pepper :as per taste (optional)

Dry Mix:
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup+
Baking Powder:1/2 tbsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp +as per taste
Sugar(optional): a pinch
Cold Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese: 1/4 cup +as per taste
Cold Unsalted Butter: 4 tbsp ie 1/2 stick

Wet mix:
Heavy Cream or milk: 2-3 tbsp
Dijon Mustard: 1 tbsp+as per taste
Tofu + little soy milk: 1/4 cup ground together

In a large bowl mix together flour,salt,sugar,baking powder and whisk well to blend evenly.Cut cold unsalted butter into this and pinch and fluff together so that the mixture looks coarser or sand like.Add grated cheese and mix well.Chop the scallions into small thin rounds and add to this and mix well.Keep aside.

Grind tofu with little soy milk to obtain a thick smooth paste.In a small bowl,whisk together mustard,cream/milk,and ground tofu+soy milk mixture.If you are going for milk make sure you are using soy milk itself.The original recipe had one large egg and I have replaced it with tofu+ soy milk.

Add the wet mix to the flour-scallion mix little at a time and knead to form a dough.Knead on a floured surface if needed to obtain a pliable smooth dough.Pat the dough into a 1/4-1/8 inch circle and cut into wedges.

Transfer each to a greased/ungreased(this works fine) baking sheet .Make sure you keep them 1-2 inches apart as they puff up during baking.Also I had extra wet mix with me so I glazed each scone with a little wet mix and topped it with pepper for extra spiciness.Bake on a preheated oven at 375F for 20 minutes.Transfer the scones to a rack and coool for a few minutes before serving.

They can be prepared ahead and warmed for five minutes before serving.They were little crusty outside ,moist and airy,light inside.The top looked creamy with all the cheese and the glaze and the bottom was perfectly brown.It was surprisingly tasty snack.I usually associate spring onion with Chinese cooking or rather use it in fried rices,soups etc.But I did not know that they were wonderful for scones.I prefer savoury scones anyday compared to sweet ones.

I veganized the original recipe containing bacons and eggs by replacing eggs with tofu+soy milk and completely avoiding bacon.Also I added the scallions with the flour mix rather than the wet mix ,because I had made more wet mix than required.Thanks Julia for this wonderful recipe and hope you do not mind my tweaking.

My version of scones are going to Taste&Create,an event originally started by Nicole,currently hosted by Mindy and in which I am paired with Julia.Once again,thanks Julia.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Orange -Cardamom Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread is supposed to be from Hungary-rather a sweet breakfast bread also known as Pull Apart bread.It is made from sweet yeasted dough,which is then divided into bite sized pieces which are individually dipped in butter and other flavouring and then baked together in a round cake pan or a bundt pan or simply rectangular baking dish.If in a bundt/cake pan,then it is inverted and served,with the rectangular option,we serve it as such.I have given a twist to the normal Monkey bread by using cardamom and also orange juice and it did come out tasty.

All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups
Active Dry Yeast: 1.25 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Sugar:1/4 cup+
Cardamom Powdered: 2tsp+

Melted Butter: 2tbsp
BrownSugar:as per taste

Orange Juice: 2tbsp+


In a cup mix together orange juice,water,honey ,1 tsp of cardamom powdered and little white sugar.Warm the mix a little as it has to work with yeast.In a big bowl mix together,flour,yeast,rest of the white sugar and salt.Blend well so that it is evenly mixed.Slowly add in (little by little)the wet mix of orange juice+water+honey+sugar and form into a dough.The dough can be a bit crumbly ,but if too crumbly knead on a powdered white sugar coated surface.What I did was I worked with three-fourth of the dough and then slowly incorporated the rest 1/4 to form a smooth soft dough.Cover and rest the dough in a warm place until doubled or risen a bit.Here I had a small problem-the dough didnot exactly double despite being kept for almost 2 hours.But still since it had risen a bit I worked on it.Keep aside the rest of the juice mix.

Melt unsalted butter in a small sauce pan.Add brown sugar and most of the orange juice mix to it to form a smooth liquid.Grease a rectangular baking dish or round bundt pan and keep ready.If you are using a bundt pan,after greasing ,sprinkle powdered cardamom for extra flavour.This is purely your choice.

Once the dough is risen,pinch off bite sized pieces,and dip each piece into this butter-sugar-juice mix -make sure it is well coated-and keep in the prepared dish.Do so with all the pieces and keep them side by side.If you have more butter-juice mix,simply pour it on top the pieces.Sprinkle with more cardamom and then bake on a preheated oven at 350F for 30-32 minutes.

I used a bundt pan and the bread looked like this when inverted into a dish

Another look with pieces pulled apart....You can see the holes inside on opening a piece

Serve warm as a dessert,snack,breakfast bread as per your choice though it is traditionally a breakfast bread. The bread was sweet and chewy and it was not that brown at the top You can adjust the sugar as per your covenience

This is my entry to Sugar High Friday-Spice Up Your Life hosted by Anita of DessertFirst

Monday, October 20, 2008

Roasted Garlic & Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

Hummus is an Arab dip or spread made from Cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans,tahini paste(sesame paste),olive oil,garlic and lemon juice.You can dip your choie of items-vegetables like carrot,celery into it and use it as a dip.You can also spread it as a sauce on breads/rotis to make sandwich,rolls,pizza style etc.I have modified the basic hummus recipe and added sundried tomatoes and has also roasted the garlic.


ChickPeas/Garbanzo Bean/White chana:1cup
Lemon Juice:1/2 lemon
Tahini Paste:1-2 tbsp
Olive oil: 2 tbsp+
Roasted Garlic:1 clove
Sundried tomatoes: few


Cook the chana adding salt.Take little boiling water and soak the sundried tomatoes.If you are using oil-packed sundried tomatoes,you can simply rinse and drain them.The soaking cleans and softens them.Roast garlic over fire or you can even roast them in the oven.Since I used a single clove,I simply roasted the peeled garlic over the gas burner and removed the black skin as well.

Grind together all the ingredients in a blender ,checking for required salt and spiciness.Add more olive oil as garnish.

If you want a normal/basic hummus avoid the sundried tomatoes and roasting the garlic.Hummus is a very flexible dip.You can modify it by adding roasted red bell peppers,cilantro or whatever you want to obtain a dip/spread of your choice.Basic hummus can be stored for days,but the modifications had to be refrigerated immediately after use,else they may turn bitter.The above measurements can be modified as per your taste and convenience and comfort.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Biscuit is a hard baked product.It can be sweet or savoury and is a quick bread.A quick bread is one that does not require yeast -it uses chemical leaveners like baking powder,baking soda and does not require a rising time unlike the normal bread.

A Biscuit in British usage referes to sweet flat cookies,or rather what I called biscuits in India are known as cookies in America,whereas a biscuit in America is a small bread made with a chemical leavener.Buttermilk biscuits are traditional in Southern US cuisine and are known as Soul Food or Comfort food.They are served as breakfast sandwiches or a side/main dish for meal with chosen gravy.Here I have tried to recreate a buttermilk biscuit recipe using whole wheat flour and here it is.


Whole wheat flour: 2 cups
Baking Powder: 2 tsp
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Cold ButterMilk:10 tbsp+
Cold Unsalted Butter: 6tbsp

Garnish(optional):pepper powder/sesame seeds/onion seeds/herbs of choice


In a bowl,mix 1 and 3/4th of wheat flour and salt,baking powder and baking soda.Use a whisk to blend evenly.Cut in butter into this and mix well using hands or fork so that the entire mix looks like coarse crumbs-I used hands and pinched and fluffed the butter into the flour so that they looked like little flakes.Add buttermilk little at a time and mix well.You will be obtaining a crumbly lump.Put this onto a lightly floured surface and knead well into a smooth consistency using the rest of the wheat flour.Once the dough becomes easy to handle,pat it into rectangle of 1 inch thickness and then using a round cookie cutter cut into shapes.What I did was instead of patting into a flat rectangle,I made a rectangular(well almost) log and then cut the biscuits and then patted them again if needed into shape.I rolled the log each time I cut out a biscuit.

Once the biscuits are ready,place them on a greased baking sheet.You can pat the top with milk,heavy cream,garnish with pepper/sesame/onion seeds/herbs/spices of your choice.Bake for 15-17 minutes on a preheated oven at 450F .

Serve with your choice of gravy,or if it is a big biscuit,them split them and stuff them with your choice of stuffing.Smaller onces can be topped with mustard/cheese/butter/syrup/jelly.

These whole wheat buttermilk biscuits go to Zorra's to celebrate the World Bread Baking Day,which is today(Sorry Zorra,if I am the last entrant to this celebration,well now you can have biscuits with your favourite gravy anytime you want :D)

This American Soul Food are also going to DK's where she AWED with American Cuisine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pumpkin Tortelloni in Creamy Marinara

Tortellini is a ring shaped pasta.A bigger version of tortellini is Tortelloni.These are usually filled with pork or other meat and sometimes with pumpkin or butternut squash.I have tried to recreate a pumpkin tortelloni using spring roll wrappers as I had seen on food network or rather tweaked a butternut squash tortellini from Everyday Italian. Here's my version of pumpkin tortelloni.


Spring roll wrappers: atleast 6


Butter/Olive oil:as needed to saute onion
Heavy Cream:1/4 cup
Marinara sauce: 1/2 cup+
Dried Basil: 1/2 tsp
Onion: 1 medium chopped
Garlic: 1-2 cloves minced


Pumpkin: 2 cups cubed
Bread crumbs: 1-2 tbsp I used cheese flavoured italian breadcrumbs
Oregano:1/2 tsp
Ricotta cheese:2-3tbsp

Salt&pepper:as per taste


Peel and cube the pumpkin and cook it.I have simply steamed the cubes adding a little salt for 10-12 minutes.You can either roast them,microwave or stirfry them.Cut the springroll wrappers into small squares.You can buy smaller wrappers and even use round shaped wrappers(not Vietnamese).I had big rectangular wrappers and I cut each into 4 squares.Make sure you keep the squares on a dry place.

Mash the cooked and cooled pumpkin using a spoon/masher/weapon of convenience and add oregano,pepper,breadcrumbs and ricotta cheese and mix well.You can add any spices as you want,only thing is the filling should not be watery/liquid.Now the filling is ready.

Once the filling is ready,take each wrapper,put a small spoonful of filling in the centre.wet the edges of the wrapper with water and bring together opposite edges to form a triangle.Make sure the edges are securely closed and press little around the filling so that it does not comeout.Now dampen the bottom corners of the triangle and bring them together to form a ring,securing them with wet hands.Now tortelloni is ready.Place it on a dry baking sheet.Do so with all the squares or until all the filling is used up.Place the tortellonis side by side on a plate/baking sheet .

Bring water to boil in a pan.Add little olive oil and salt to it.Once water boils,simmer and add the tortelloni 1 or 2 at a time to this.We are cooking the tortelloni now.You have to be careful here as they take only seconds to cook.This also depends on the thickness of the wrapper,I suppose.Mine was papery thin and took only under 10seconds to cook.You can also switch off the gas while cooking them,so that they are not overcooked.Remove the cooked tortelloni one by one using a slotted spoon and place on the baking sheet without touching each other.If you pile them together,they become sticky and mushy.Now the tortelloni is ready.

Heat a pan with olive oil/butter.Add chopped onions and crushed/minced garlic to it and saute.Once the onion turns transparent,add marinara sauce,salt,pepper and little basil and let it simmer for a few minutes..You can add chopped/pureed/crushed tomatoes instead of marinara sauce.I had store bought marinara so I used it.Then add the cream and heat through for 1-2 minutes.The sauce is ready and dish can be served.

You can serve it whatever way you want-dipping the tortelloni in sauce,pouring the sauce over the pasta or keeping side by side.I put some tortellonis(neatly folded to rectangle shapes) in a serving bowl and poured the sauce over it.You can serve it with any sauce you like.

I am not a pumpkin lover and it is the last on my list of veggies.I do not hate it but somehow avoid it.But this tortelloni made me buy more pumpkin during my last visit to the grocer.Ofcourse,this is a bit difficult recipe,as it takes time to form the tortellonis(for me atleast) and the first time I made it,some opened up,despite securing tightly,because I had overcooked them,but yes,all the effort is worth it once you taste a cooked tortelloni.You will fall in love with the pumpkin-you will not feel you are digging into pumpkin of all the items.The other ingredients shadow the pumpkin very well during tasting while all the healthier aspects of pumpkin are got as well.

This pumpkin tortelloni is my entry to AFAM-Pumpkin,an event started by Maheshwari of Beyond the Usual and currently hosted by Madhuram of EgglessCooking

Award Time Again:

I have been awarded the"Rocking Girl Blogger Award" by Usha of VegInspirations.THANKS A TON USHA for thinking me as a rocking.Its a rocking award.Congrats to you too on yours.You ROCK too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vegetarian Beet Borscht

Borsct is an Eastern European vegetarian soup,made with beetroots which gives its strong red color.It is a part of culinary heritage of European nations like Russia,Poland etc.There are several versions even within a nation and even non-beet versions with tomato exists and there are hot and cold borscht versions which are prepared differently.Russian Borscht has beets, potatoes,cabbage and meat and is served hot.Here I have tried to recreate Russian Vegetarian Beet Borscht which is from Indira of Mahanandi and she has replaced meat with vegetables and has included pasta which make the dish a wholemeal rather than a light soup.Here's my version.


Beets: chopped 2 cups
Potatoes, carrots,cabbage:minimum 1 cup together
Garlic: 2 cloves
Red onion: 1 medium
Elbow Macaroni Pasta: 1/2 cup
Butter,Oil: 1 to 2 tbsp each

Cashews: Dry Roasted and Powdered to obtain nearly 1/4 cup
Dill leaves: chopped 1/4 cup
Cumin+clove + coriander+cinnamon:roasted&powdered:nearly 1/2 tbspn
Chilli powder:1/2 tspn
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tspn
Lime juice: 1/4 lemon

Salt,Pepper:as per taste


Peel and chop the vegetables into small bite size cubes.Chop the cabbage coarsely.Chop the red onions finely and crush/mince the garlic cloves.Prepare the seasoning powders-roast and powder the cashews,and other whole spices together.I roasted and powdered cashews and used store bought spice powders.Chop the dill leaves.

Heat a deep pan with butter+oil .Add the red onions and garlic and saute till the onoins turn transparent.Add the vegetables starting with the potatoes,beets,carrots and lastly cabbage, sauteeing after each addition.Add salt,pepper and saute till they get coated and start to cook.Add the seasonings-spice +cashew powders+dill chopped+lemon juice+chilli powder+turmeric powder -and stir well to coat.Add more salt and pepper if needed and water to cook the vegetables.Cover and cook the veggies on simmer for 10-15 minutes till they are tender.Then add pasta and more water(and salt) if needed to cook the pasta and cook the pasta al dente.Turn off heat and let stand covered for few minutes.Ladle into bowls and serve as a nourishing soup or a wholesome meal.It was the latter for me.

Honestly I thought that I would end up with a garam masala beet curry or an Indian curry when I started working on it,as it takes almost all the garam masala spices,but in reality it was not like that-It was spicy to my taste but I did not feel it as a curry I was digging into.It was a warm bowl of macaroni with the healthy addition of veggies and spiced upto perfection.I have not tasted original Russian Beet Borscht,but Indira's style of Borscht was enjoyed and will be enjoyed once a week atleast,thats for sure.

This Borsht is on its way to warm up Zlamushka's spicy Kitchen where she is celebrating the fall with Tried & Tasted:Mahanandi after a spicy Monsoon.

This also goes to Nourishing Fall Carnival hosted by Nourishing Gourmet to celebrate the fall

This also goes to Lisa's Kitchen where she is celebrating the event No Croutons Required with hearty vegetarian soup as October's theme.

Different ,but HAPPY Note:

Lubna of KitchenFlavours has honoured my blog with a cool "Butterfly Award".THANKS A TON Lubna for the precious and cool honour.

The rules of the blog:

Put the logo on your blog.
Add a link to the person who awarded you.
Nominate 10 other blogs
Add links to those blogs on yours, and leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

I would love to nominate:

Deesha of VegetablePlatter

Divya of ..a little bit more..

Suma of Sumascuisine

Cham of SpiceClub

SunshineMom of TongueTicklers

Aparna of MyDiverseKitchen

Usha of VegInspirations

EasyCrafts of SimpleIndianFood

Zlamushka of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen

Rekha of PlantainLeaf

Divya has also tagged me for a meme.THANKS Divs,I had already done that and you can find it here -Lemon Sides.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Microwave Double Chocolate Brownies

Brownies are chocolate cakes-denser,richer than normal chocolate cake.They can be chewy or fudgy depending on density and ingredients included like cheese,nuts etc.I saw this microwave version in food network(as usual) and made little adjustments and got excellent results.Here's the recipe.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Unsalted Butter: 1 stick
Milk Chocolate:2 oz or as per your taste
Tofu: 1/4 cup+
Soy milk: little
Sugar: 1/4 cup /as per taste
Vanilla Extract: 1/2 tsp


Cut tofu into small chunks/cubes and puree it in the blender adding little soy milk.If you do not have soy milk,can use little water/milk or the melted butter-chocolate mix we will be making as well. as well.If you are not using soy milk then increase the tofu to 1/2 cup as this recipe uses 2 eggs and I have replaced those with tofu +little soymilk.Tofu gives problems while pureeing so be sure to add something to it before pureeing thoroughly into a creamy mix.

In a microwave safe dish,melt the chocolate for 45-50 seconds in the microwave.Now add the butter stick to this and microwave again for 30-35 seconds.They may start melting but would hold their shape.Take out and whisk together to combine.Add sugar and whisk well.Add sifted flour+salt and whisk well so that all the flour is incorporated.Add the pureed tofu and vanilla extract to the mix and whisk well to almost smooth consistency.Top with chocolate chips and microwave for 3-5 minutes till the cake tester/tooth pick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Closer Look........

Cool the brownie for minimum 15 minutes.Cut into wedges and serve as such or with whipped cream or icecream.

The microwave ovens vary.So start the melting process with 20 seconds and baking at 3 minutes.Mine was ready by 3:33 minutes,though the recipe called for 4:30 -5:00 minutes.Also use the chocolate you prefer-the actual recipe called for 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate and 1 cup of sugar,but I prefer milk chocolate and has used 6 rectangles of Hersheys milk chocolate bar -almost 9-10 squares of Cadbury's -and has reduced the sugar to 5-6 spoons(almost 1/4 cup).Adjust the sugar as per your taste and chocolate you have used.

The brownie was excellent considering the fact that it was ready in under 5 minutes.It was cake like and chewy and little portions stuck to the bottom of the dish-loosening a microwave brownie is tricky,but it was delicious-simply scrap the bottom of the dish and enjoy.Serve brownies anytime you like or serve warm as dessert with ice cream.

These Brownies are sure going to FIC:Brown along with Pecan Lace Cookies to make Sunshine Mommy break into a sunny smile.

They also go to Madhuram's Egg Replacement Baking Event where the current theme is Silken Tofu.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pecan Lace Cookies

Lace cookies are very thin and crispy and look like laces.Now this recipe which I got from Food network,was so easy-there was very little preparation,but the difficulty was while baking-you can bake 2-3 cookies at a time depending on size.But the effort was worth it-they were very delicious. They were a bit brownish in colour-to be honest the colour varied from light brown to deep brown(I saved some just before they burned)The recipe was for sandwich cookies,but I did not wait to sandwich them,but had them as such.


Pecans: 1/2 cup
Sugar: 1/2 cup
All Purpose Flour: 1tbspn
Unsalted Butter: 1/2 stick softened
Maple Syrup/Molasses:1 1/2 tbspn
Vanilla extract: 1/8 tspn or 2 drops
Heavy Cream: 1 tbspn

Powder the pecans and sugar together.Cream together this mix and butter well and then add all other ingredients and blend well to form a crumbly dough.

Place teaspoonfuls of dough on a big baking sheet lined with aluminium foil(the cookies will expand too much-so only 2 or 3 teaspoonfuls on a big baking sheet with space between each cookie) and bake on a preheated oven at 350F for 8-12 minutes.Now start checking from the 4th minute onwards.The baking time depends on no: of cookies and their size.Atleast for me it was like that.My average was 6 minutes.Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes still on the foil.You can see that they look like laces-with openings and are so delicate that you have to peel them carefully from the foil.Serve them as such or sandwiched with your favourite cream cheese or jam as per your wish anytime you want.

A Closer Look.....

These cookies have only 1/2 stick of butter,but since we are adding molasses/maple syrup which do have corn syrup and act as moisturizers-binders we can reduce butter again.Adjust sugar as per your taste in this case.This is just my suggestion and I will be trying this out the next time I make them.So feel free to follow the recipe as such.You will definitely be addicted to these,thats for sure.

Sending this off to SunshineMom's FIC:Brown...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Panna Cotta with Orange Caramel Sauce

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream,milk and sugar and adding gelatin and cooling until set.The dish which literally means 'cooked cream' originated from the city of Piedmont and is normally served with fruits or warm sauce or compote or coulis.I have seen several versions of panna cotta and this one is a very simple one,but very easy to make.


Panna cotta:
Heavy Cream: 1/2 cup
Milk/half-half cream: 3/4-1 cup
Sugar: 1/2 cup or as per taste
Gelatin: 1 packet unflavoured
Vanila extract: 1/2tsp

Caramel Sauce:
Orange Juice: 1/4 cup
Brown sugar: 1-2 tbsp
Star anise:1-2 pod
Unsalted butter: 1-2 tbsp


Panna Cotta:
In a sauce pan whisk together sugar,half of milk and half of heavy cream on medium-low heat until combined.Add the remaining milk and cream and vanilla extract and continue whisking for a few more minutes till it reaches the boiling point(2-3 minutes).

Prepare the gelatin as per packet instructions,whisking together hot water and gelatin powder.Add it to the hot cream-milk-sugar mixture and whisk thoroughly until combined.Pour into serving cups or small bowls/ramekins.Cool the mix for 10-15 minutes and then refrigerate it for minimum 2 hours or even overnight until set.

Orange Caramel sauce:

This sauce is to be prepared at the time of serving and has to warm.Heat a pan,add butter and brown sugar and melt.Add the orange juice and star anise and simmer until it thickens for 3-5 minutes.

Panna cotta with sauce:

Fill a tray with little hot water and dip the bottoms of the panna cotta ramekins in this for a few seconds.We can see that it loosens.Otherwise using a sharp knife,loosen the panna cotta from the edges of the ramekin.Invert the ramekin on a serving plate and pour warm sauce on top and serve.Otherwise use serving cups for setting pannacotta and serve as such with sauce on top.

For a long time I have been wanting to make Panna cotta.But somehow the cream which I buy for this ends up in something else.But this time around ,I had barely 1/2 cup of heavy cream nearing expiry.So I plunged into this dish.It takes only few minutes prep time.Setting time is more.I actually made it in morning and let it set till night .It was delicious-heavenly I should say.I was hoping it would be a bit bland as it has only vanila extract and sugar and also I was partial to strawberry and chocolate panna cotta .So I expected this as a heavy vanila milkshake,but this was superb.It will not make you think of milkshake at all with or without the sauce.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shepherdess Pie

Cottage Pie is an authentic English dish made with minced meat and vegetables and covered with a mashed potato crust.When lamb's meat is used it is called Shepherds Pie.This pie was originally created to make use of leftover meat and vegetables.There are several versions of this pie and a vegetarian version that substitutes meat with lentils,beans or Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP or soy chunks) is known as Shepherdess Pie.

Shepherds Pie has always been a childhood fantasy for me.I read about it in childrens books along with other dishes like Yorkshire Pudding.I got a wonderful recipe from Ellie Kreiger for Shepherd's Pie(Source:Food Network).This is actually a protein -rich recipe which add cauliflowers to the crust as well.I simply replaced the lean meat in it with TVP or soy chunks.It was delicious and so here's it.

Potatoes: 2 medium
Cauliflower: 1/2 cup
Butter: 1.5 tbsp
Milk: 4 tbsp
Salt&Pepper: as per taste

Mixed Vegetables: 1 cup (I used peas,carrot,corn,cabbage etc)
Soya chunks: 1/2 cup+
Onion: 1
All Purpose Flour: 2-3 tbsp
Dried Thyme: 1/2 tsp
Chilli Flakes(optional): 1 tsp
Oregano(optional):1/4 tsp
Salt&Pepper:as per taste
Water /Veg Stock/Cube: as needed to cook veggies

Cube the potatoes and cauliflower into small pieces and cook them together in little salted water till done/mushy.You can overcook them as it helps mashing easier.Keep aside the water in which they are cooked.

Once done,mash them adding little pepper,and milk.Heat a pan,and melt butter and add remaining milk and also add the mashed items and simmer till all are blended together and become creamy.Our crust is ready.

Cut all the vegetables into bite sized pieces.Chop onions finely.Prepare the soya chunks as per package instructions.

Heat little olive oil in a pan.Add onions an saute.As they turn transparent,add the chopped vegetables and chunks and thyme,chilli flakes,oregano,pepper and salt and mix well.Saute for a few minutes till the veggies are well coated and then add little stock/broth/water in which potatoes were cooked/simply fresh water needed to cook the veggies.No need to overcook them as they will complete cooking in the oven.Add flour/cornstarch once done,but are still hot.This will prevent the veg juices if any from flowing out during baking.

Also you can add any preferred spices/seasonings as needed.I addded oregano and chilli flakes as I preferred mine spicy.You can steam the potatoes and cauliflower rather than cooking with water.The steaming option is much healthier.I did not have stock and I wanted the cooking water,so I cooked them in water.


Pre heat the oven to 350F.Put the veggies in a greased baking pan in a single layer and pat down with a flat spatula/spoon to form a uniform layer.Top this layer with the mashed potato-cauliflower creamy mixture.DO NOT MIX the two layers.Bake for 25-30 minutes till done.Cut into wedges and serve.
Fresh from the oven..........

On cutting the insides were........

The dish can be taken as a wholesome brunch /main dish,sandwiched between bread slices,side dish or any way as you wish.I enjoyed it as an early evening snack with tea (should I say 'High Tea'?)as well.It was a childhood fantasy come true.

This shepherdess pie is going to British Food Fortnight Challenge which started on 20th September(Click here for details) and is currently hosted by Antonia of Food Glorious Food .

This TVP version is very easy to make.Also check out the lentil version in dear Aparna's blog.Do try both and enjoy a filling meal.

PS: after my 'High Tea' it was late dinner as the pie is very filling.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Potato Goulash

Goulash is a stew or soup which originated in Hungary.It is originally/traditionally a stew but can also be converted into a soup.A goulash(pronounced go-yash) consists of meat,onion,vegetables and spices of which most important or must one is 'Paprika'.Paprika is a spice obtained from powdering dried red and green bell peppers.It is little similar to 'Degi Mirch' chilli powder from India.
I first came across this 'goulash' word a few days backs when I heard Paula Deen working on a dish.I could not see what it was as my daughter changed the channel.Yesterday while searching for paprika based vegetable dishes it popped up again and intrigued by it,I googled and yahooed and found this vegetarian German Potato Goulash.I have tried to recreate it with little adjustments and so here it is.


Potatoes: 1 big
Green Bell Pepper: 1medium
Carrot: 1 medium
Onion: 1 medium
Tomato: 1 small
Paprika powder: 2 tsp
Bay leaves: 2 small crushed
Salt:as per taste
Olive oil: 2 tbsp


Finely chop onions and peel and cube the potato.Also chop into bite sized chunks the carrot and bell pepper.Chop/crush/puree the small tomato.

Heat oil in a deep kadai/soup pot/pan, add onions,saute.Once they start turning brown,add the vegetables except tomato,salt and paprika powder and mix well till coated.Add water to cover the vegetables,and bay leaves and bring to boil.Once it bubbles,simmer till the water is reduced to half,without covering the pan.Add tomato pieces and more water if needed for gravy and cover and cook till tender and thickened,about 10 -20 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread,pasta,rice,roti or as per your wish.

In this you can add whatever vegetables you want,but potatoes should be more and also can add other spices as per your taste but paprika is a must and it is paprika that flavours this otherwise spiceless dish.It is the real hero of this dish.Also green and not red bell peppers must be used and tomatoes are used just to enhance paprika but not overshadow.So keep tomatoes to minimum.
This paprika-based dish is my entry to Think Spice-Think Paprika ,an event started by Sunita and hosted currently by Mimi .

Since this is a sensational side dish-it is similar to Indian curry and Mexican chilli and it shadows the main dish and can be taken as a soup(in which case all the vegetables and finely chopped and croutons or cooked pasta and more water are added to it)-this is also my entry to Monthly Mingle -Sensational Sides hosted by Ruth.

I actually could not believe that it tasted like curry-"German and curry flavour!!!",but it was as spicy as curry if not spicier!!So do make this goulash and do not be frightened by the name.It is best with rotis and also easy to prepare.Remove bayleaves before serving hot with bread/rotis.

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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