Monday, November 29, 2010

Baked Pasta with Veggies,Cheese and Breadcrumbs

This is a simple baked casserole dish where I layered vegetables nad pasta in a oniony sauce and topped with cheesed panko bread crumbs and baked till the flavours seeped through everything and the top is browned.

Normally unlike other baked dishes where a dough or batter is cooked into a final dish which is bound together by the ingredients ,baking pasta is meant for the flavours to mingle unless ofcourse it is a lasagna  which belongs to the first category.Anyway my dish is simple and turned to be a perfect lunch.

Penne Pasta: for 2-3 people around 3 cups
Assorted Veggies : 1.5 cups (I used broccoli,peas,corn,carrots etc)
Salt & Water : for the pasta

Butter: 1 tbsp
Onion: Finely chopped: 1/2 cup
Garlic: 1-2 cloves
Salt: as per taste
Nutmeg: 1/2 -1 tsp
Pepper: as per taste
Cream: 12 tbsp + as needed
Milk: 6-8 tbsp

Bread Crumbs: 1 cup
Cheddar: grated :3/4 cup
Parmesan: 1/4 cup
Butter: 1 tbsp melted
Salt: a pinch
Chilli Flakes: a pinch

Chop veggies into smaller pieces. Cook pasta in salted water and add the veggies for a few minutes into the water just before the pasta turns aldente or cooked as per taste.Drain,stir in olive oil and layer in a 9 x 13 ' glass casserole dish which is previously greased with butter.

Meanwhile,heat butter in a pan,add finely chopped onions and saute till transparent.Add in garlic chopped and saute for 1-2 minutes until the raw smell disappears.Add in little salt,pepper and nutmeg and stir in milk and cream mixed together. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.You can go for cream alone ,insted of a milk cream mix.Once the sauce is ready, pour over the top of pasta-veg layer.

Mix together bread crumbs,cheeses,salt and butter. Top the pasta-sauce layers evenly with this.Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 25-30 minutes until the top turns brown.You can see the sauce bubbling and mingling and the aroma from oven is cheesy!. Take out cool for a few minutes and serve warm portions.

Pasta baked is truly heartwarming and filling and comforting.You can see the sauce rising and coating even the breadcrumbs which on browning turn crunchy,Above all a simple first attempt which turned out excellent

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding

This is a simple bread pudding that is very healthy and very vegan. I was searching for Thanksgiving recipes when I found this recipe in New York Times by Chef  Chloe Toscarelli. The recipe was simple enough and was perfect as a chilly night dessert. As per availability I adjusted the items a little but it turned out perfect for me.

Coconut Milk: 1 cup
Pumpkin: cooked/baked and pureed:  1/2 cup
Brown Sugar: 6- 8 tbsp (I used Demerara Sugar)
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon: 1.5 tsp
Nutmeg: 1.5 tsp
Ginger: 1/2 tsp
Cloves: 1/2 tsp

Bread: cubed: 2 cups +
White Chocolate Chips: 1/2 cup

Brown Sugar: for sprinkling.

Blend  together the coconut milk,pumpkin,spices and salt. Pour this liquid to a wide bowl and toss in the chocolate chips. Then add bread cubes 1/2 cup at a time and stir well,so that the cubes are well coated by the liquid. The cubes soak up most of the liquid .

You may require more than 2 cups or less depending on the type of bread you used.I used the oatmeal sandwich bread I had baked and I added only 2 and 1/4 cup and the bread had soaked up most of the liquid and I did not want the pudding to be too dry.

The original mentions around 10 cups but since I had only 1/2 cup pumpkin,my was done with 2 and 1/4 cups.

Pour the mix into a greased container and level the top with a spatula. I was in a hurry to bake and did not do this step too well.Sprinkle the top with brown sugar as the edges may  look caramelized.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 25-30 minutes or more until it starts browning.

Ok the finished product does not look that appetizing.But I can assure you the taste was excellent. The heady aroma from the oven was very uplifting and gives a true festive atmosphere.

Serve warm cutting into squares or choice of shapes optionally dusted with powdered sugar.I cut it into circles with a cookie cutter and served with whipped cream.

The taste was Excellent. I found that the pudding was a bit sticky,but just as I like it, and this could be becase of the varied quantity of bread I added.You can also bake it in ramekins and serve as such.To be honest,I never expected it to be so tasty and perfect.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chutney Grilled Tofu

This is a simple tangy and spicy starter that I prepared with tofu marinated in a tangy pomegranate seed and herb chutney. Pomegranate Seed or anardana is a spice used in Indian and middle eastern cuisine. Anar means pomegranate and dana is seed. Anardana spice is dried pomegranate seed. It is tangy and acts as a soaring or acidic agent when added to curries or gravies.It is usually used to make dal and few dry veggies and while making pakoras and also chutneys. I usually prepare chutney with tamarind or tomato as the acidic or tangy or soaring agent. This time I tried with anardana and used it as a marinade for tofu which I grilled. The recipe is not complex at all and you can adjust the ingredients as per taste.

Tofu: drained 1 pkt. Firm or extra firm would work beautifully

Anardana Chutney
Dried Pomegranate Seeds: 1-2  tbsp or Anardana
Cumin Powder
Salt: as per taste and/or black salt
Green Chilli
Cilantro: a small bunch
Mint: few sprigs
Sugar: a pinch (optional)
Oil: 2-3 tsp + more for grilling

Wrap tofu in paper towels adn drain for atleast 1 hour. Slice it into smaller pieces. 1 pkt of tofu is enough for max 2 people.

If you do not have dried pomegranate seeds,you can use seed powder available.The powder can be used as such or instantly. What I did was I roasted the seeds for a few seconds in a pan and them grind to a powder. Another option soak anardana seeds for atleast 2 hours and then grind to a powder.Still the ground powder will contain the coarse particles and it is better if you strain it.

Once the powder is made,add rest of the ingredients -green chilli chopped,mint & cilantro,salt,cumin powder and optionally sugar.Add few drops of water or vegetable oil  and grind to a fine paste.

Normally I do not add oil to my chutneys except for a seasoning afterwards,but since this I intended to use as a marinade,oil can be added,else you may have to use more oil while grilling as tofu is prone to stick to the grill.If using,make sure to use veg or canola oil as olive may leave an after taste.

Transfer the chutney to a bowl and add in the tofu slices.Do the taste test and marinate the tofu in the paste.Make sure you have added adequate salt to season the tofu.Tofu requires salt to be added.So make sure the chutney has enough salt.If you like the taste you can add a pinch of black salt as well.Its very pungent and most of the times outshines other spices added.Turn the tofu a few times in the marinade and let it sit for atleast 2 hours or overnight.


Prepare the grill or pan. Spray with vegetable oil and place the tofu slices on it. Grill both sides till brown and grill  marks appear. Serve as an appetizer along with the remaining  marinade if any.You can also serve the grilled tofu a bed of noodles or pasta or sandwiched between grilled bread or tomato slices or whatever way you like.You can even use the chutney as a pasta sauce or even as a dip as it was meant to be.


The tofu turned to be spicy and tangy.It would be better if you add sugar as it would reduce the heat of the chillies and make the tang palatable.Sugar also helps in getting a golden crust.I did not add any sugar,though and I love tangy flavour.Anardana experiments are on here and this one goes to CWS:Anardana at Jayasri's,an event by Priya.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bengali Bahu Khuda Pulao - The Hungry Bride's Pulao

This is a simple pulao recipe that I found in old issues of UpperCrust magazine. It is from the book Pulaos and Biryanis: A tribute to Indian Cuisine by Katy Dalal.She is an expert in cooking and has few books to her credit,especially Parsi cooking .The magazine also mentioned the catering store she runs in Mumbai. I was attracted by the name of the dish and also how different it is from other rich pulaos that we normally see.

Normally in conservative Indian households wives were supposed to eat last or atleast after the husbands and other elders were done.This was irrespective of the regions or state and even continues in some homes even today,though thanks to the career woman it has reduced.Even our weddings has ritual where the wife has to eat the leftover from the husbands plate.But in those days most of the times,the  wives were left with little or no food and the new brides who were just starting to settle down were the most tortured lot as they were not yet used to this.So this dish which could be made in a jiffy was invented so that a bride is not deprived of her meal till she also joins the old wives' club!. :).

The dish is supposed to be cooked in mustard oil,but ghee is a best alternative especially if you are not used to mustard oil.I am posting the original recipe by the author, though I reduced the amount for serving 2-3 people.

Basmati/Long grained rice/Jeera Sal Rice: 700 gm
Onions: sliced: 6 large
Green Chillies: long,slit and deseeded
Coriander Leaves: 1 cup chopped
Mint Leaves: 1/2 cup chopped
Coriander Seeds: dry roasted(broiled) and coarsely ground
Peppercorns: 10 coarsely ground
Turmeric Powder: a pinch
Mustard oil or Pure Ghee

Deep fry the onions in ghee or oil till golden brown and risp.Set aside.

Cook the rice adding ,one-fourth of fried onions,slit green chillies,coarsely ground coriander seeds,black peppercorns,turmeric,salt and about 2 tbsp of ghee.You can do this is a pressure cooker,rice cooker or stove top.Cook till rice is tender and fluffy.

Serve rice in a serving plate sprinkling the top completely with remaining onions and fresh chopped coriander and mint and optionally fried cashewnuts.

 The author suggests items like rasgollas,fried prawns,radish salad and mutton gravy as accompaniments to this dish.I simply served it with raitha or spiced yogurt. It is a quick and easy dish and I actually had it as itself without accompaniments.The crunch of coriander seeds,the heat of chillies, the crispness of  fried onions added while garnishing,the tender herbs,the sweetness and softness of onions added while cooking rice,each one takes you to food heaven.

I deep fried onions in vegetable oil.Also the second time I made it I avoided even adding the ghee while cooking rice.This did not affected the taste as per me and also makes the dish completely vegan.Also coriander powder will be a poor susbstitute to coarse seeds in this recipe.The seeds has to be tasted in the final dish which is lost if powder is used.Similar with pepper corns.Deseed the green chillies only if you cannot take the heat.

Well, I do not mind eating last if this one is served. But what about you,do you still eat after everyone else at home?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies er Blondies

Brownies are squares of  rich.dense chocolate cake- a cross between cookie and cake actually.These can be made from cocoa or chocolate and can be cakey,chewy or fudgy based on density or  may contain nuts,cream etc.When you make a brownie using brownsugar with or without chocolate/cocoa then its a blondie.The blondie derives its flavour from brownsugar whereas it is chocolate taste predominant in  brownies.The blondies may contain nuts,chocolate chips etc.

 I was looking at few recipes on pumpkin whereas my dear aughter wanted brownies.A combined search led me to the Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies here. The recipe,which is low in fat, makes use of brown sugar and just 1 tsp of cocoa and folds in chocolate chips. I am feeling that it is blondies only anyway the taste was excellent.


Dry Mix:
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Cocoa Powder: 1 tsp
Baking Powder: 1 tsp

Cinnamon :1/2 tsp
Allspice: 1/2 tsp

Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Wet Mix:
Pumpkin: 1/2 cup (cooked/baked and mashed.)
{Egg:1  + Egg whites :2 } OR  Ener G Eggs: 2 : 1 tbsp of packed powder mixed with 5 tbsp of water.
Brown Sugar: 1/3 cup
Vegetable Oil : 2 tbsp

Chocolate Chips: 1/3 cups preferably white though I used both dark and white

Add all the dry items together in a bowl.

Mix together Pumpkin,sugar,oil and the eggs until well blended.Beat in the dry mix to obtain a smooth batter.

If using Ener G egg,you may need to add more water to get a flowing batter.Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a square pan preferably lined and greased.I used an 8" one,but smaller ones will work fine as well.

Bake the brownie in a preheated oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes or more until the toothpick comes out clean.Cool completely in the baking pan and then serve cutting them into squares.

The collage will look like...

The recipe mentioned dark choc chips,and when I followed the same I found that they positioned themselves at the edges of the batter and since I wanted the chocolate to stand out I topped the batter with white chocolate chips.But after putting in the oven when I checked them after about 25 minutes I found that they were starting to turn brownish and felt they may burn. So its better if you fold in the choc chips rather than just topping them. The change in timings could also be due to the fact that I used a dark metal pan.Anyway keep an eye on the oven after 20 minutes.

A simple brownie which is just a bit chewy. The taste and colour is from brownsugar as it has just a hint of cocoa.So these are blondies right? Just 2 tbsp of oil too. The pumpkin is like a hidden ingredient atleast for me. I do not know whether canned pumpkin will leave its taste. Anyway they were over much before I expected them to be.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Orange ButterMilk Pound Cake

Pound cake refers to a cake traditionally made with a pound each of flour,butter sugar etc. There are several variations of this recipe and specific styles have been developed based on the ingredients added and the substitutions made. I was always vary of making a pound cake thanks to the rich butter content,but fell in love with the Lime buttermilk Pound Cake I saw in Deeba's blog . I am not a citrus person,but thought that oranges wuld work wonderfully in this cake and tried the same with oranges.


All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cup
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup or 100g room temperature

Sugar:1 cup

Eggs: 2 or Ener G Eggs = 1 tbsp Ener G + 6 tbsp water mixed well

Vanilla Extract: 1 tsp
Orange Juice: 4 tbsp + 1-2 tbsp as needed
Orange zest

Buttermilk: 100 ml

Orange Juice: 1/4 cup
Powdered Sugar: 1/2 cup

In  a bowl,mix together flour,soda,salt and baking powder. Reduce or avoid salt if using salted butter.

In a big bowl,cream together butter and sugar till creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time(the mix may look curdled but continue)  and then add vanilla,zest and juice.

Alternately in batches,add in flour and buttermilk,starting and ending with flour.

Put the batter in a ring tin or bundt pan and bake in a preheated oven at 170C for almost 50 minutes or until the tester comes clean.Take out and let the cake cool completely (and that means COMPLETELY) in the bundt pan before inverting.

The baking collage looks like...

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze thick and flowing.Slowly invert the pan onto a serving plate and poke holes on the top of the cake with a skewer or toothpick.Pour the syrup over the cooled cake.Garnish with orange slivers and sprinkles or whatever way you like.

I used Ener G egg replacer and the problem with this is the addition of extra liquid in the form of water or orange juice itself.Even while making such eggs I had added extra 2 tbsp of water but still needed extra at the end.So first add 4 tbsp of juice and at the end after adding flour,if the batter is too thick,add the water or juice 1 tbsp at a time.So I had to add about 6 tbsp of juice rather than 4.

Also the first time I made the cake,it was done in 40 minutes.but this time,it was done under 35 minutes and I went for 150C.So make sure you keep an eye on the oven from 30 minutes onwards.

The cake was EXCELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNT. I shared it with my friends and am still receiving praises for it.THANKS Deeba, this is surely a confidence building recipe.BTW she wanted fruits in baking and now she has got her own medicine with a orange twist. This goes straight to the Rabid and Very Passionate bakers inbox as my entry to MM:Fruits in baking , an event by the lovely Meeta.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mexican Style Champurrado

 Atole (from spanish atolli meaning hot) is a maza flour or hominy or maize flour based hot thick drink from Mexico.Chocolate Atole is known as Champurrado.Earlier I had made Mayan style hot cocoa where I had added flour along with cocoa powder and dried chipotles. This one uses chocolate bars preferably Mexican style like the Abuelita brand from Nestle or Ibarra and such others.

 Champurrado uses chocolate bars along with piloncillo and masa harina or maize flour.  I first came across this in Ben's blog. A simple search brought several recipes and I have adapted it from here.I have substituted brownsugar and molasses  for piloncillo and have used normal chocolate bars with added cinnamon and have made my version of Champurrado.
Milk: 2 and 1/4 cup + more if  needed
Water: 1and 1/2 cups

Chocolate:1- 2 oz or as needed or 1 disk abuelita
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp +as per taste (optional if using Mexican chocolate)

Aniseed: 1/4 tsp crushed
Brown sugar: 1/3 cup
Molasses: 1 tbsp
Crushed Aniseed: 1/4 tsp

Maize flour: 1/2 cup
Hot water: 1/4 cup

In a blender,whisk together maize flour and hot water till well blended. Transfer to a saucepan and add rest of the ingredients,whisk well and bring to boil whisking almost continuously.

Reduce heat to a simmer and let it cook for a few minutes(keep whisking so it does not burn),until the chocolate and sugar are melted and the entire mix thickens a bit. Serve hot in mugs/cups straining if you like. I did not.

The drink is perfect for winter/rainy season.It is very filling and thick and as time goes it thickens more.After sometime,mine was thick as a porridge and I had to add more warm milk to it to get a liquid state.You can optionally garnish with choclate vermicelli/curls/shavings or even powdered cinnamon.I did not wait for anything,just had  warm mouthfuls.

Again,owing to weather conditions here (and also laziness),taking pics is a herculean task,so as usual the pics are not great.The taste is like a thick chocolate shake or porridge unless you use more milk.Read more about the Mexican chocolate here.Read about Piloncillo here

Last week during Diwali, I was enjoying at my mom's place and hence didn't post.But now I am back and you can see me almost regularly  or atleast till something else comes up  ;).

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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