Saturday, February 28, 2009

Microwave Chocolate Rice Pudding

This is a simple Chocolate Kheer/Chocolate Rice pudding recipe made all the more simpler by cooking in a microwave.I always wanted to make chocolate rice pudding after seeing one in food network.Now I found a microwave kheer in my microwave cookbook by Tarla Dalal.So I sort of combined the two and voila a chocolate dessert within minutes.So here it is.

Long Grained Rice: 3 tbsp
Milk: 1 cup + or -
Hot Water: 3/4 cup
Milk/semi/unsweetened Chocolate: 1 0z or handful of chocolate chip or 1 big square
Cocoa Powder: 1 tbsp
Sugar: 3 tbsp +

Clean and drain rice.In a big microwaveable bowl,add hot water and rice and microwave at full power (HIGH) for 8 minutes.Remove from the oven,cover and keep aside for atleast 10 minutes.After 10-15 minutes,lightly mash the grains,add cocoa powder,chocolate,sugar and 3/4 cup milk ,mix well and microwave again at full power for 3 minutes.Take out and add more milk (total almost 1 cup milk) to obtain the pudding of your consistency.Microwave again for 1-2 minutes and then cover and keep outside till serving time. Spoon in bowls and serve warm or at room temperature,garnished with roasted cashewnuts.

For roasting cashewnuts, mix cashew nuts in clarified butter/ghee(optional) and spread as a single layer in a flat microwave safe plate,microwave for 2 minutes or more till it starts browning.

I like my version to be thick.So I added only 1 cup of milk.Feel free to add more milk or condensed milk as well to obtain your consistency.Adjust sugar as per taste and condensed milk if using.Also chocolate can be more than 1 oz.The pudding thickens as time passes.So feel free to add more milk.The timings may change by a few minutes depending on your microwave.This easy chocolate rice pudding/chocolate kheer is on the way to MEC: Puddings hosted by Jayasree,an event started by Srivalli.I know its a last minute entry,but kindly bear with me.

Also the chocolate dessert is to celebrate a token of gratitude which is actually a token of friendship and appreciation by another Chocoholic Blogger Friend -Yasmeen .Thanks Yasmeen for this appreciation.

This dish is also to celebrate the wonderful fact that I am a part of Finest Foodies Friday this week by Foodie Blogroll-THANKS JEN,for this honour and appreciation.

Also I am a FoodCandy Featured Blog since last few days.Thanks all for taking time to read and leave your esteemed comments on my amateurish/experimental attempts in cooking.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Roasted Carrots with Simple Tapenade

Oven roasted carrots is a simple appetizer or snack and is healthy as well.This can be made in a jiffy and you can serve it as such or with any dip if interested.I served it with a simple vegan tapenade dip.Tapenade is a simple French dip made of olives and capers with additional spices/herbs.Traditionally anchovies are used as well,but I avoided them.Tapenade can be used as a rub,sauce,sidedish or whatever way you like,though traditionally it is an appetizer/amuse bouche dip.

Roasted Carrots:
Carrots: 2 large
Vegetable Oil:1-2 tbsp
Peel,clean and slice the carrots into small medium thin slices.Toss the slices with salt,pepper and vegetable oil and then spread as a single layer in a lined baking sheet.Bake in a pre heated oven at 400F/200C for 15-20 minutes or more until they start browning.Start checking after 10 minutes.Serve warm as an appetizer/snack as itself or with tapenade or any other dip.If interested you can also add in other spices apart from pepper as well.The oven time may vary depending on thickness of slices.For very thick slices it can go upto 30 minutes as well.Mine were done by 15 minutes as they were almost thin.

These roasted carrots are my entry to Daring Aparna's FIC: Orange ,a colourful event by evergreen SunshineMom.

Tapenade is a French or Provencal dish made of pureed/crushed olives,capers,anchovies and olive oil.The vegan versions avoid anchovies though.It derives its name from tapeno which is French for capers.Traditionally is made as a coarse paste of ingredients in a mortar and pestle.It can be used as a side dish,stuffing,rub,sauce or whatever way you like.It is flavoured differently as per taste,region etc.I made a simple version using pitted black olives in brine,capers,garlic and lime juice.There is no need to add salt at all.
Black Olives: 4 tbsp
Capers: almost 1 tbsp
Garlic: 1 clove
Lemon juice: half of a small lemon
Olive Oil: 1 -2 tbsp
Chop the olives and capers into small pieces and peel and chop the garlic.Blend these chopped items adding lemon juice and olive into a coarse paste.

Carrots can be served as itself and tapenade can be used as itself as well.But together the sweet spiciness of carrots is well balanced by the tangyness of tapenade.So feel free to use the combo.

The tapenade,being French is going to AWED: France by DK

The combo of carrots and tapenade is a hearty appetizer and is going to Rachna's HealthyBites.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quick Blackberry Tart

Adventures of a Christmas Pudding and a selection of Entrees is a short story collection by Agatha Christie and involves the much famous detectives Poirot and Miss Marple.When Adventures of Christmas Pudding was chosen by the BookClub team and suggested by sunny SunshineMom,I was intrigued as to what the book could offer foodwise.I had read this as a part of collection and knew only the abridged version.Obviously there is a pudding in the title and there is a feast in the story,but no specific items were mentioned.Now from another story in the collection -Four and Twenty BlackBirds -I found a blackberry tart and since it was a Christmas Feast I thought I could use this as Christmas Dessert.Only I do not know whether Simran will accept this tart as part of Christmas Feast.This is the quickest tart made with puff pastry and filled with cream cheese filling and topped with blackberries.I adapted this from here.

Puff Pastry: atleast 1 sheet

Cream cheese filling:
Cream Cheese: 1/2 cup
Heavy Cream: 1/2 cup
Sugar: 1tbsp or more
Vanilla :1/2 tsp

Thaw the puff pastry sheet as per instructions.Roll it out in lightly floured surface and cut it into small circles that fit into your muffin pan or ramekins or tart pans.Make sure you cut into sizes that stretch over the sides of the pan rather than trying to stretch an already cut piece over the sides which may result in tearing.Also once this is done,place a similar size muffin pan/tart pan/ramekin over this muffin/tart/ramekin so that the puff pastry will now curl over during baking and retain its shape.

Now I DID NOT do this-so my pastry sheet sort of curled up and it looks like a rustic tart.Once I fitted the sheet within the ramekin I had refrigerated it for 30 minutes so that it will firm up.This is completely optional and of no use and I feel the above method of fitting another similar size pan works better.Also it depends on how you like it -I go for taste rather than looks -so it was okay with me.

Once the sheet is ready,bake in a preheated oven at 400F for 15 minutes or until the edges start browning.Meanwhile prepare the filling. In a big bowl,beat all the filling ingredients together until soft peaks form.The sugar was only 1 tbsp in the original recipe,but I increased it as I felt the berries will be tart.Filling can be sugary,but together with the berries the tartness and sweetness balance.Feel free to use your quantity of sugar.

Assembly:Once the puff pastry sheet tart is ready,allow it to cool a bit.The sheets can be baked before two days itself and refrigerated as well.Once the tart is ready or during dessert time,fill the tart with the cream cheese filling and top with cleanes and rinsed blackberries.One rectangular puff pastry sheet yields atleast two ramekin tarts or mini tarts.

Now I have a faint hope that Simran and other members will accept this (keeping fingers crossed).So lets see what other members put forth for the Chrsitmas feast apart from pudding, lets peep into the kitchens of Aparna,Simran,SunshineMom,Rachel,Dee,Srimathi,Siri

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cajun Style Potato and Kale Soup

Caldo Verde or Green Soup is an authentic Porutuguese soup made of Potatoes and Kale or anyother greens.The basic ingredients are mashed potatoes,mashed onions and minced/chiffonaded greens mostly kale or cabbage/collard greens and the seasonings is basically garlic and salt.It is a simple soup which also contains the chorizo or the Portuguese pork.For a vegan/vegetarian version you can avoid the meat or substute it with soy chunks/tofu/tempeh as per choice.

I tried to make a vegetarian version avoiding meat as well as substitutes based on Emerils Lagasses version of this soup,but slightly added a twist to it by using Cajun/Creole/New Orleans Seasoning which I made based on Emerils Essence recipe.On the whole it was filling and comforting.

Potato: 1 very big
Onion: 1 small
Kale: 1 small bunch
Garlic: 1-2 cloves
Olive Oil

Cajun/Creole/New Orleans Seasoning
(yields 2/3 cups reduce if needed.)
Paprika: 2.5 tbsp
Salt: 2 tbsp
Garlic Powder: 2
Pepper: 1 tbsp
Cayenne Pepper/Chilli powder: 1 tbsp
Oregano: 1 tbsp
Thyme: 1 tbsp

Chop onions finely and crush/mince the garlic.Dice the potatoes into bite sized cubes.Chop the kale leaves finely(chifffonade).Chiffonading is the process of cutting the greens into thin strips/ribbons and is accomplished by stacking the leaves one over the other,rolling them tightly and then cutting across the roll to produce strips of greens.Prepare the seasoning by combining all the ingredients thoroughly.The seasoning recipe yields around 2/3 cup,so I made only 1/4th of this,but still little amount may remain.Store this in an airtight container and add it to your vegetables or rice.

Heat olive oil in a thick bottomed pan.Add onions and garlic and saute till transparent.Add cubed potatoes,veg broth,seasoning,little salt and pepper.Bring to boil and then let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.Then using a potato masher/blender coarsely puree the mix,till your choice of gravy consistency is obtained.I used a potato masher and allowed chunks of potatoes in my soup.You can completely puree it if you like.Return the pureed soup to the heat.Add the minced /chiffonaded kale to this and let it simmer 10-15 minutes until the kale is cooked yet crunchy and the flavours are well blended.Adjust the salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.

I love potatoes in any form and this version in soup with the healthy nutritious addition of greens is definitely hearty.If you do not like Cajun seasoning then fell free to add red chilli flakes as in the referenced recipe or any other spice of choice or simply salt and pepper.Each version is definitely hearty and rich.This lovely potato soup is going to No Croutons Required hosted this time by Holler of Tinned Tomatoes and the theme is Potatoes.

UPDATE on 25,Feb 2009: THANKS to LUBNA ,This soup is also travelling to SWC:Soups hosted by Neha of EasyNTastyRecipes,an event started by LG of Taste of Mysore.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate Sour Cream CupCakes

Cupcakes/cup cakes are actually smaller or mini cakes or rather dessert cakes.They are sometimes confused with Muffins.Muffins are quickbread or yeastless bread made in smaller portions.Muffins are generally categorised as breakfast/snack food wheareas cupcakes are for dessert.Some people say that the difference between them is based on frosting as cupcakes are frosted,while muffins are not.But this is untrue.Basically,smaller cakes baked in muffin pans are cupcakes.they can be frosted or not,made in grased or lined muffin tins.Also the cupcake batter can be beaten well at high speed several times unlike muffins where the dry items are just stirred to combine.Also as per DianasDesserts,though both may have the same ingredients,the ratio of ingredients also makes them different.As for the timing of eating them,I do not mind cupcake for breakfast or anytime especially if they are chocolate.

These are chocolate sourcream cupcakes I found in the Taste of Home website.This time again experimentations rules the forte.I never thought I would be experimenting too much,when I went for my title. I did not have any chocolate .So I thought of using cocoa powder mixed with melted butter,but look what there was just 1 tbsp of cocoa.Now,I am never a person to give up -so I used Nestle Hot cocoa mix to make my chocolate.They turned out perfect I must add.

Unsalted Butter: 2 tbsp

Unsweetened Chocolate: 2 oz or
6 tbsp cocoa/cocoa mix whisked in 2 tbsp of unsalted and melted butter.

All PurposeFlour: 1 cup
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp

Sugar: 1 cup
SourCream: 6tbsp
Water: 1/2 cup + 2tbsp extra
Egg: 1
EnerG egg: 1
(prepared by blending 1.5 tsp of EnerG powder with 2 tbsp of warm water)


Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave for a few seconds and whisk well.Keep aside and let it cool.If you are using cocoa/cocoa mix like me,then melt 4 tbsp of butter (2 +1+1 tbsp where 2 tbsp butter is used in the recipe and remaining 2 tbsp for making chocolate)and then whisk in cocoa powder to obtain a creamy smooth mixture.To obtain 1 oz of baking chocolate,the ratio is 1 tbsp of butter/oil/shortening and 3 tbsp of cocoa.Melt butter and whisk in cocoa till smooth.Cocoa mix has sugar in it and so the mixture resembles semi sweetened chocolate.If ypu are using chocolate itself simply melt butter(2 tbsp) and chocolate in the microwave

In a small bowl,whisk together flour and baking soda.In a big bowl,beat together sugar,sourcream,water,vanilla and egg/Ener G egg.If using enerG egg,make sure you add 2 tbsp of more water to the batter.Then add in the flour mixture.Beat well to incorporate flour.Here it is better you beat it in clockwise direction as it makes the cake look airy and light.I got this tip thanks to Cham when she made her Vanilla cake and it worked for me.Add the chocolate mixture and beat well for 2-3 minutes.

Pour the batter into lined muffin cups and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until a tester/toothpick inserted at the centre comes clean.Cool for 10 minutes and then remove the cupcakes from the pan to the wire rack to allow them to cool completely.

You can frost them or leave as such.I just sprinkled icing sugar on top of few.They were spongy and moist and perfectly sweet.This again is my entry to Egg Replacement Event:Egg Replacer Powder.Thanks Again Madhuram.

On a different Note:

First A Joyous Note: Dear PG of MyKitchenStories has passed the refreshing Lemonade Award.Also other esteemed blogger Ramya of RamyasKitchenCorner has also awarded me the same.I have been honoured earlier with the same award from dear friends Priya and Sunanda as well.You can see the award in the side bar.HEARTY THANKS to all the four esteemed and refreshing bloggers for thinking of me for passing it on.I would love to pass it to all the delicious bloggers who visit me and take time to comment on my dishes.I want to name all of you girls,but time constraints limit me.

Then a ShortBreak: This could be my last post from New Jersey,USA.I am returning to Bangalore,India this weekend and rest of the blogging will be from there after a very short break.I still have drafts in my folder and events to take part so I may schedule some before leaving though I am not sure I will be able to visit all the yummy and delicious blogs for atleast few days.Please bear with me and thanks for all your support.

Whole Wheat Butterscotch Chip Cookies

These are adapted from chocolate chip cookies I wanted to recreate from here.I have not perfected the art of baking with Ener G,but surely this was one step forward.After the success with Blueberry muffins,I tried this or rather experimented with it.I had just few choco chips,so I went for butterscotch chips lying there and the result was excellent or double sweet if you prefer to call it.Also instead of the usual all purpose flour,I went for white whole wheat flour and as usual halved the recipe.


White Whole Wheat Flour: 1 cup and 2 tbsp
(can use All Purpose Flour,but not regular wheat flour)
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Unsalted Butter: 1 stick softened
White Sugar: 6 tbsp
Light Brown Sugar: 6 tbsp
Vanilla Extract: 3/4

Eggs : 1
Ener G Egg: 1
(prepared by blending together 1.5 tsp of Ener G Powder and 2 tbsp of warm water.You can use warm soymilk as well)

Butterscotch Chips: handful or almost 3/4 cup or as per taste


In a medium bowl,whisk together flour,baking soda and salt.Keep aside.In a big bowl,cream together softened butter and both sugars until fluffy.Add egg or EnerG egg and vanilla extract and beat well to incorporate.Add the flour mix in batches if needed and beat until it is incorporated adding butterscotch chip at the last few minutes of beating.

Make sure you do not overbeat else you will left with a tough cookies.Mix /whisk/combine until the dough starts forming and the chips are scattered throughout the dough.If you find the dough too crumbly,wrap it in plasctic and refrigerate for 30 minutes,this is optional though.Also if you are using EnerG egg,make sure you add 1-2 tbsp of water or soymilk to the dough before/after adding flour.I added 1 tbsp of soymilk to the dough.

Once the dough is chilled/ready to be baked,scoop roughly 2 tbsps of dough and place it about 2-3 inches apart in a greased/lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes at 375F.This will give you very large cookies.I went for smaller -roughly 1 tbsp of dough and baked at 350F for 12-14 minutes or until the sides are just browned.Cool for about 2-3 minutes in the sheet and then gently take them and let them cool completely in a wire rack. The above estimate yields about 2 dozen smaller cookies.

Now,I found that the dough required another 1 tbsp of milk as the top of the cookies looked as if they were about to be cracked .Now,on googling,I had found that,cookies crack on top while baking or after baking on the sheet if the dough is dry or the oven temperature is too high.In my case,I will say the dough was dry as I had added only 1 tbsp of soymilk.So the next time with EnerG,I added total 2 tbsp of water/liquid and the result was more perfect.Well,thats my next post and its definitely worth waiting.Till then,drool at the delicious cookies.
This is again going to Madhuram's Egg Replacement Event: Ener G and Thanks Madhu,for graciously accepting these late entries.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black Bean Rice with Tofu & Zucchini Skewers

This is simple,yet healthy meal.Black Beans and Rice are usually a Mexican or generally Latin combo.Black beans or rather beans in general are protein rich and a good source of nutritional antioxidants.Along with brown rice which is nutritious,the health quotient is intensified.I found a simple cuban style beans and rice recipe in wholefoods site and tried it with little adjustments and served it as a main dish topped with pico de gallo and along with healthy broiled/grilled tofu and zucchini.The meal is definitely protein rich and low in sodium.

Cuban Style Beans & Rice:
(adapted from here)


Black Beans :1/4 presoaked and cooked till done
Brown Rice:1 cup
Water: 2.5 -3 cups

Onion: 1 medium
Green Bell Pepper: 1 small
Chilli Powder
Tomato puree: 1/4 cup + OR Chopped tomato:2-3 medium chopped



Cook the black beans in enough water in a pressure cooker or stovetop as per choice.Clean and rinse the rice.Chop the onions finely and bell pepper into small bite sized pieces.Mince/crush the garlic.In a wide,thick bottomed pan,dry roast cleaned and rinsed brown rice for 2-3 minutes on the lowest heat till it becomes dry.This makes it fragrant and is suppose to enhance its flavour and sweetness. Add enough water to it and little salt and cook till done.sually 1 cup rice requires 2-3 cups of water.I used mix of water,half of water in which the beans has been cooked and little veg broth I had made from here.I used the pressure cooker for this and it took 3 whistles to cook.

Heat little olive oil in a large thick bottomed pan.Add onions and saute till it turns transparent. Add garlic ,green bell pepper,little salt and chilli powder.Stir fry for a few minutes and add pureed/chopped tomatoes.Simmer till the tomato gets cooked and add beans along with the water in which it has been cooked.Mix well and the let it cook/simmer till required consistency reached.This depends on whether you want to serve gravy as a side of rice or mixed with rice.I mixed with rice and cooked till all the water/liquid was absorbed.

Serve topped with little pico de gallo,light sour cream along with tofu skewers.

Variations:You can also go for parboiled/converted white rice if you are not accustomed to the taste of brown rice.Brown rice is a whole grain rice and is healthier than normal white rice.It is chewy and takes time to get accustomed to.Parboiled white rice like Ponni in India is 80% nutritionally similar to brownrice but it takes much less time to cook.

Pico de gallo

This is a simple raw salad made with tomatoes,onion,garlic ,jalapenos,cilantro and lime juice.Literally the word means'chicken's beak' as the pieces are so small.But the dish is so simple and refreshing,but definitely healthy.

Jalapenos (seeded)

Lime juice.

Chop all the ingredients finely and mix together along with lime juice and add little salt and pepper which is optional.More herbs and a flavouring like lime juice reduces the need to add salt.It is better to reduce the sodium level in every day food.

Variations: Go for Indian Style raita incorporating tomatoes,onions,curd and green chillies instead of Pico de Gallo and light sourcream.

Tofu and zucchini skewers
(adapted from here)

Tofu: 10-12 pieces cubed
Zuchini : 10-12 pieces

Soy sauce:1/4 cup (low sodium)
White Vinegar: 1 tbsp
Ginger: 1 medium piece or as per taste
Garlic: 1 small clove

Spices in the marinade as per taste
(can be crushed,powdered,whole)
Fennel Seeds
Star Anise


I took a big piece of tofu(half of the Mori Nu Extra Firm Tofu packet) and drained it by placing it within sheets of paper towels for about 15-20 minutes.This sort of firms it up ,but you can avoid it if in a hurry.Clean the zucchini and cut it into small pieces leaving the skin on.Prepare the marinade by mixing together all the ingredients .You can see that I have not added any salt here.Soy sauce though reduced/low sodium still has salt or around 60% of salt in the normal soy sauce is still there in the reduce/low sodium.The estimate gives about 1/4 cup+ ,which was more than enough for 1 big zucchini and 1 packet of tofu to be lightly marinated.Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag.

Cut the drained tofu into cubes and add tofu cubes and zucchini pieces into the marinade and let the bag chill in the fridge for atleast 1 hour or more.Meanwhile prepare the bamboo skewers by dipping them in cold water for atleast 15 minutes.Take out the bag from the fridge and on each skewer thread few tofu and zucchini pieces alternatively.Do so until all the marinated pieces are used.Grill on a gas top grill or broil in the hot oven.I broiled the skewers for 8-10 minutes per side or until they change the colour a little ,by placing them on a baking sheet which will also help hold the dripping if any. Tofu is supposed to be good for grilling,but some pieces do split while broiling and are caught in the baking sheet.You can simply panfry the pieces as well,but it could meaning adding more oil to it to prevent it from sticking.

Variation:Add different vegetables for making the skewer healthy and go for any marinade .It can also be reduced fat yoghurt and cilantro and turmeric and chilli powders as well.

The entire dish is heart and very filling and you can also use the entire items as a burrito filling for a grab-n-go dinner.The combo is healthy and definitely low in salt and healthier and I think this is a perfect entry to Monthly Mingle:Healthy Family Meals ,hosted this time by Michelle and Meeta.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

These are simple muffins made with blue berries.I wanted to try the Energ Egg replacer for Madhuram's Egg Replacement Event and somehow I could bring to believe that this could work.I tried it in few recipes,they did not come through,may be its my way of baking,or my slow oven or I do not know.So I decided to try a simple blueberry muffin I had found in a magazine.I actually halved the recipe as I did not want to waste my fruits or flour for that matter,and found that the muffins came out much better than expected.Here they are

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Soda: 1/4
Baking Powder: 3/8 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 6 tbsp
BlueBerries: 1/2 cup

Soy Milk/Milk: 1/4 cup +
Vegetable Oil: 1/4 cup
Egg OR Ener G Egg : 1
To prepare an EnerG Egg blend in a blender 1.5 tsp of EnerG powder and 2 tbsp of warm water.)
Lemon/orange zest: 1 tsp (optional)

Topping (Optional)
Sugar/Cinnamon Sugar

In a big Bowl,Mix the dry ingredients of flour,sugar,baking powder,soda and salt.

In a medium bowl,whisk together milk,veg oil,zest and energ egg.Make a well into the center of the dry ingredients and por the wet mix into it.Stir until just combined.Fold in gently the blueberries.Overmixing/over stirring will make the muffin sunken in the centre.So limit the no:of times you mix.I found that the batter is not like normal muffin batter,so I added 1 tablespoon of soymilk,thanks to Madhuram's advice.Still the batter was thick,but I decided to go ahead.Also the blueberries will sink into the batter during baking.So you can lightly coat them in flour before adding.I did not as I was in a hurry.

Pour/spoon the batter onto lined/greased muffin pan,optionally top it with more blueberries and sugar/cinnamon sugar.I used cinnamon sugar topping.Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted at the centre comes out clean.Cool on a wire rack.The recipe mentioned a baking time of 23-25 minutes,but it took 30 minutes for me.The second time I went for 400F an this time it took 20-25 minutes.It could be my slow oven or I am not sure.So start checking from 23 minutes onwards if going for 375F.The recipe yields 5 muffins.

I got Ener G few days ago,I was postponing working with it as I did not know how it will turn.I tried replacing eggwhites with it in a few recipes and found that it did not work.But this time as the deadline was approaching,I wanted it desperately.I tried whipping it in the blender again as per Madhurams advice,and it came out much much much better and closer to perfection.Closer,I said as I am not confident of baking and also thanks to my slow oven.But the taste was perfect commercial.

So Madhu,these blue berry muffins are for you.I will be trying out few more recipes as I have got 2 packets of Ener G.So you can see more such recipes here,hopefully that is.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Black Bean & Vegetable Ragout

Ragout refers to a stew to be served as itself or with a main dish and also to sauce for starchy foods like noodles or pasta.Basically it is a French stew slow cooked and can contain meat,vegetables,legumes or combo and choice of seasonings and spices.Each cuisine has its own way of naming a dish.What we call as stew in English is Ragout in French or Goulash in German.This is just a generalization,subcategories and subtle differences sometimes based on ingredients and region do exist though.For example,ratatouille is a stew from French province of Nice and Pepperonata is an Italian stew made of peppers as main ingredient.Goulashes are East European cousins of English stew.I found a simple blackbean ragout here and enhanced it with more vegetables to obtain a hearty,filling and healthy side dish.

Black Beans: 1/4 cup presoaked and cooked
Onion: 1 small
Garlic: 1 clove

Optional Mixed Veggies
(Carrot: 1 small
Zucchini: 1 small
Green Bell Pepper: 1 very small or 1/2 )

Fresh Thyme -2-3 sprigs
Vegetable Broth(optional): 1/2 cup
Tomatoes:2 medium
Tomato Paste/Puree/Juice
Olive Oil :2-3 tsp

Cook the blackbeans in pressure cooker,till almost done.We can later finish the cooking with the other ingredients.Finely chop onions and mince garlic.Chop the mixed veggies if using into bite sized pieces.You can avoid the veggies altogether and use beans only as well.

Heat olive oil in a thick bottomed pan.Add the onion,garlic and carrot and bell pepper to it.Add thyme,little salt and pepper and saute till it begins to cook.Add the beans along with the water in which it is cooked,broth and chopped tomatoes and tomato paste/puree/juice and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the gravy thickens and the required stew like consistency is reached.Add cubed zucchini(if using) in the last 10 minutes,so that it is correctly cooked.If other vegetables are used,add the quick cooking veggies in the last few minutes of cooking and adjust salt and pepper.Serve as a hearty side with rice or breads.

You can avoid broth if needed or even reduce it and use water or tomato juice or more chopped tomatoes.If using canned crushed tomatoes,also add in the brine/syrup in which they came.I added only 1/2 cup of broth and then added little water and also the water in which the beans are cooked.I also used 1 chopped tomato and also 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste.Even after 15-20 minutes there is more liquid in the dish,increase the heat and let it boil for a few minutes until the stew consistency is reached.

A warm bowl of this hearty bean dish is on way to My Legume Love Affair -8th helping, this time hosted by the creator herself-Susan,the well seasoned cook.

Another warm bowl goes to dear DK who is AWED by French Cuisine and is wondering at the lighted and very beautiful Eiffel Tower about her Blue Ribbon/Cordon Bleu ,Bon Appetit!

Also if you like,you can use soaked beans directly.You follow the method and instead of adding cooked beans,added soaked and rinsed beans,water and the rest and cook for 2-3 hours on stovetop or in a pressurecooker till done.To be used as a sauce,puree the dish in a blender either finely or with chunks as per taste.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Peppery Feta Shortbread

This is a simple savoury shortbread cookie or a cracker recipe using feta cheese and pepper.Shortbread is usually made from one part sugar,two parts butter and three parts flour.They are called so because of their crumbly texture due to high fat content.The fat content is from butter /shortening.The shortbread is usually baked at lower temperatures to prevent burning and can be white,brown or golden brown.Normally these are sweet as can be seen from the ingredients,but if you want a savoury cookie,you need to avoid sugar or any sweetner.I found a savoury shortbread recipe here and recreated it with little changes.


All Purpose Flour: 2/3 cup
Yellow Cornmeal:1tbsp
Pepper: as per taste
Fennel(optional):very few
Feta Cheese: 6 tbsp or 3 oz
Unsalted Butter: 3 tbsp cold
Olive Oil: 2 tbsp


In a big bowl,combine flour,cornmeal and pepper and fennel if using or any other herb of your choice.Add in grated feta cheese and mix well.Add in cold butter cut into pieces.Combine well using hands pinching and fluffing butter pieces till the mix looks like coarse sand.Add in olive oil and combine the mix together to form dough.Shape the dough into log shape or any required shape and wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour atleast. Alternatively,you can freeze the dough if using later for upto 1 month and can thaw it in the fridge for a while before using.

Preheat the oven to 375F.Take out the chilled dough log and cut into slices and arrange these on a bakingsheet.Ungreased bakingsheet also works fine.Sprinkle more pepper on each slice and then bake for 8-10 minutes or more until the edges start browning a little.Mine took 12 minutes.But still it was light or almost white coloured,though the bottom was little brown.Allow it to cool for a few minutes in the baking sheet and then serve as such.Alternately you can cool them completely in a wire rack after a few minutes.These are very crumbly cookies and go well with soups or as a snack.

I have not added salt to the dough as feta is salty.Also you can also use softened butter as seen in some recipes.But generally cold butter is used in shortbread,so I went for it.Butter,especially cold butter prevents the formation of long gluten strands in flour which results in the crumbly sensitive texture.Those who like the salty feta cheese would fefinitely like these crackers.

These savoury shortbread are on their way to WTSIM:Sweet Savoury Swap event hosted this time by the creator herself-Jeanne,the CookSister.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Orange Thins

These are simple thin and crispy cookies made from white whole wheat flour ,butter and orange juice.They are similar to lace cookies but buttery and are easy to prepare.They are different from the normal cookie dough in that this does not have a dough,but it is like a batter.Since the recipe here in the EatingWell Magazine involved no eggs and seemed easy I went for it .I actually prefer oranges in such baked items rather than having it as such,though sometimes I end up doing both -eating them and adding them ;)


White Whole Wheat Flour/Whole Wheat Pastry flour:1/2 cup
Sugar: 1/3 cup
Orange Zest: 1/2 tsp

Unsalted Butter: 4 tbsp (Melted)
Vanilla Extract: 2 tsp
Orange Juice: 2 tbsp


In a big bowl,mix the dry items ie white whole wheat flour,sugar and also orange zest.Blend well.Add in melted and little cooled butter,vanilla and orange juice and stir well to obtain a thick batter which looks like..

Now,white whole wheat flour is lighter in colour than regular whole wheat flour and is made from white wheat rather than the red wheat from which aatta /whole wheat is derived.If you do not have white wheat flour,sub it with whole wheat pastry flour or generally with white flour which makes the cookies all the more crisper (thats my assumption).

Preheat oven to 300F.Grease/line a baking sheet (avoid this for non stick- though for cleaning purposes lined is prefered).Take a table spoon of batter and plomp it on the baking sheet.Shape/spread it into a 2 and 1/2 " circle.I used a cookie cutter for that,feeel free to use anything or just your hands.Once done ,I also gave it a little design on top with the back of a fork which is completely optional and does not make any different to the cookie.Repeat with the remaining batter,but make sure the cookies are atleast 4 inches apart,as these spread.It looks like....

I went for just 4 cookies in my first batch.Bake at 300F in a preheated oven for 16-18 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.It came out like ...

The recipe went for rotating the sheet halway through.I did not for the simple reason that I forgot.So I allowed them to rest for about 3-5 minutes in the sheet which made them crisper and then using a pan cake turner,gently lifted them and cooled them completely on a wire rack/plate.The cookies were crisper,but a little chewy in the middle,but all the more perfect for me.So choose your preferred method while baking these.Also I went for 16 minutes.

These papery thin and buttery,orangy and crisp cookies are on their way to EatingClubVancouver for Weekend Wokking Event started by Wandering Chopsticks and the current theme is oranges

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