Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Roasted Fennel with Chilli Aioli

Fennel is a plant or herb that I have rarely worked with. I have used it with other veggies n soups, gratin etc, but fennel as a main ingredient in a dish was a big' NO'. But recently I decided to take the risk and tried the simple roasted  fennel from Simply Recipes. And I paired it with a spicy herbed aioli to be precise. 

Fennel : one bulb atleast with the stalks cut and the bulb sliced lengthwise into bite sized pieces. You can use the stalk in soups or stocks etc.
Salt, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive oil: as per taste.

 Slice the fennel bulb lengthwise into bite sized pieces. Apply oil and balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.

Spread the pieces in a lined baking dish in a layer and bake in a preheated oven at 400F/ 200C for about 25-30 minutes or more until you can see the edges getting browned or caramelized.

Serve warm with Aioli or choice of dip. It is slightly sweet and a bit tangy thanks to the balsamic vinegar. It can be tasted as itself as a snack, but the pair brings out more taste.


Aioli is Italian mayo based dip. Authentically you make it with eggs,oil and other flavourings - same way as you make a mayonnaise. But a quicker way is to blend falvourings with already available mayo.Recently I saw Vicky Ratnani cooking episode where he had made a green chili aioli with eggless mayo available. Though I had forgotten the measurements and estimates I simply tried out the dip as per my taste and also using the Food Network aioli as a reference.

Ingredients & Preparation:
Green Chilli: 1-2 as per taste
Mayonnaise: 2 big spoons atleast
Mint: few leaves about 2 tbsp
Coriander/ Cilantro: about 4 tbsp
Garlic: 1 big clove peeled
Lemon juice: as per taste
Salt & Pepper : as per taste

 Blend together all the ingredients until smooth. Check the taste and adjust the required ingredients.

Excellent dip, easy to make and great to taste. 

The combo was excellent and is very appetizing. You can make this an a healthy appetizer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Baked Pears

This is again a recipe I tried recently along with Roasted Pears. I have always been awed with the poached pears and have bookmarked several delectable or unique ones. Though any pear can be technically poached, realistically only Bosc or Anjou  ones give a pe(a)rfect result. Other types might simply fall apart. Not one to take risks, I decided to bake the Asian pears I had with me based on this recipe and with the addition of choco chips and you have an easy healthy delectable dessert ready.

Pears: atleast 1 

Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tbsp +/- 
Butter:almost 1tbsp +/-

Chocochips: handful

Make cinnamon sugar. you can go with either brown or white or a mix - I went for a mix.

Cut the pear lengthwise,core them and place each half in suitable sized aluminium foils. The foil should be large enough to enclose the pear half completely (like a purse!). Also you can optionally peel the pear, but I did not.

Dot each  pear half in the foil with cinnamon sugar, butter and chocochips as needed. 

Bring the ends of the foil together on top to completely enclose the pear half.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F /180C for about 15- 20 minutes. 

Take out, open the foil slowly. You can check whether the pears are tender or not with a fork. Also depending on the quantity of butter and sugar added, you can also see butter sauce formed within the foil along with the pear juices. The chocochips will not be completely melted, but starting to melt stage.

Serve as such within the foil along with whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon and chocochips. A delectable and healthy dessert with just little work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Strawberries & Cream

There was a time when I wanted so badly to be a tennis player. I wanted to go out there and be a champion. But uh, uh they were just dreams. I realized verrry late that you need to work on them to make them true. These days I have started playing badminton though and am enjoying that too. Coming back to tennis, the month of June was the time for Wimbledon Tennis Championship and also ....... Strawberries and Cream. There was atleast one mention everyday on the strawberries and cream consumed in the papers and obviously I was filled with  jealousy. Even though it was simple -hulled strawberries with sweetened whipped cream - I  wanted it soooo badly. And when I tasted strawberries for the first time, I tried it with whipped cream and was like, --God, it was for this simple thing that I was salivating. !!? Its delicious I am not saying no, but can be made more delicious with little touches here and there. Or rather we can go for a new age Strawberries and cream and that's exactly what I did after reading and adapting the recipe in the Oregon website.

Strawberries: atleast 1 cup
Sugar: as per taste

Cheesy whipped Cream
Lowfat Cream : 1 cup
Cottage Cheese/ Paneer: atleast 1/2 cup
Vanilla: 1/2 tsp
Powdered Sugar: 4 tbsp + 

Shortbread Cookies Crumbled: as needed.

Wash,hull and slice the strawberries. Mix them with sugar and keep aside for atleast 1 hour. You can even use powdered sugar if you like.

Meanwhile whip the cream with sugar and vanilla for about 2 minutes. Fold in the cottage cheese /paneer and whip everything for another minute or so. 

You can go for regular whipping cream and can even avoid the cottage cheese. But I have used the lowfat Amul cream and have added homemade paneer to it to add richness . 

Now the last thing is assembling everything. I decided to make a parfait with this.

Take the parfait glass. Add crumbled shortbread as a base layer. Next go for a strawberry layer. top it with the cream layer and continue this way till the top of the glass is reached or strawberries are used up. Make sure to garnish the top with cookie crumbles or more strawberries and drizzle of the strawberry juices collected.

 Serve chilled and garnished with more accessories.

A simple delight which is very flexible and can be twisted as per our taste and availability of items.There is no hard and fast rule that you should follow this recipe to the the 'T' . Just go by instincts. What matters is the end result and the happiness it gives you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Valentine Cookies

I am not a person who celebrate Valentine's Day. Ofcourse its nice in its own way, but I would like to steer clear of the marketing gimmicks and wholly commercialized plot. But then I could not resist these Valentine Cookies that I had bookmarked from the Pioneer Woman. I had followed the recipe part though not the decoration part as I didn't have the required stencils.

All Purpose Flour: 2 and 1/4 cup
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Cocoa Powder:  4 tbsp

Butter: 1 cup or 200g 0r 2 sticks softened
Packed Brown Sugar: 1 cup

Vanilla: 1.5 tsp

Egg: 1 OR Egg Replacer: for 1 egg (1.5 tsp pkd Ener G + 2 tbsp water whipped + additional 1-2 tbsp water as needed

Powdered Sugar: Garnish

In a medium bowl,sift/mix together flour,salt,baking powder,cinnamon and cocoa.In another big bowl cream together butter and sugar till fluffy. 

Add in the egg and vanilla and beat well.It might looks curdled,but carry on. Add in the flour mix in 2or 3 batches beating well after each addition till you get a sticky brown and doughy mass. 

Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and then refrigerate it for atleast 2 hours after flattening slightly with your hand. Take out and place the dough in a floured surface and after 5-10 minutes once the dough has softened slightly, roll it out into 1/4 inch thick rectangle and then using a heart cookie cutter, made individual cookies. 

What I did was, I rolled out the dough within 2 plastic sheets and then refrigerated it within the plastic sheets and then took out and just cut out shapes.

Place the shapes/cookies on a lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges start browning. The cookies might not be fully baked and might be just set,but thats okay. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet outside.
Start to finish......

Decorate the cookies artfully.I used a smaller heart stencil or rather a part of my daughters toy collection. 

I had gone for a thinner cookie and it turned out to be a bit crunchy. Go for your choice of thickness and get thick soft cookies or thin crunchy cookies.

These are perfect edible Valentine gifts to any or all of your loved ones, and also to yourself. Its nice to pamper ourselves with a perfect gift like this atleast in the name of a Lovers Day.- ;)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tandoori Subz Shaslik

Shashklik refers to the skewering and grilling of meat (veggies as well!) and traces its origin to Eastern Europe -Russia, Persia etc. This is also known as Kabab/kebab. The word 'shashlik' is from Russian. Originally meat -lamb, pork etc were skewered along with choice of fruits and vegetables. These days only veg kababs / shashliks are also available and we can use the Indian oven or Tandoor for grilling the  items. I have made a pineapple and veggie shashlik from Sanjeev Kapoors Tandoori Cooking @ Home and this recipe though mentions 'Tandoor' in the title makes use of stove top grill pan. You can also use the griller function in your oven or OTG.

Pineapple: 1 small peeled,cored and cubed into bite size pieces or  atleast 1 cup
Onion: 1big
Tomato: 1 big
Green Pepper/Capsicum: 1 big

(All the veggies to be chopped into bite size pieces)

Red Chilli Powder: 1 tsp
Kasuri Methi /Powdered Dried Fenugreek Leaves: 3/4 tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 1 tsp
Chaat Masala: 1/2 tsp
Vinegar/ Honey: 1 tbsp (If the pineapple is too tart, use honey)
Oil: 1.5 tsp

Do adjust the powders as per your taste. The estimates given above are half of that in the original recipe.

Salt: as per taste

Mix together in a bowl, salt and the spice powders along with vinegar/honey and oil. Add the bite sized veggie  and pineapple pieces and mic thoroughly to coat. Set aside to marinate for one hour.

Thread the pineapple and the veggies one after the other onto toothpicks and drizzle the marinade remaining in the bowl on top. It looks like

Heat a tawa on medium heat and place the toothpicks on it and cook turning them periodically so that all the veggies get cooked and lighlty charred evenly on all sides.

Serve hot with an optional dip or salad.

A simple sweet,spicy and hot kabab/shashlik. Perfect for lazy chilly evenings. If your pineapple is too tart or overripe, use honey instead of vinegar.Adjust the spices as per your taste and enjoy the snack bites.You can even remove the bites from the skewers and turn them into a salad with chaat masala on top.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baked Potato Fingers

Most of you know that the pud is my favourite vegetable and though these days I am trying to avoid it as it shows on you.Okay, its another way of telling that I am fat!. But I could not resist the very easy and baked potato fingers which I had seen in Veenas Veg Junction, who is my partner this month for Blog Hop Wednesdays, by Radhika.The recipe had cooked mashed potato and  I used instant potato flakes(Aloo Mash) available here to make my mashed potato. 

Boiled, Peeled and Mashed Potato: 1 cup

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Salt: as per taste
Dried Oregano: 2 tbsp
Red Chilli Flakes: 1 tsp
Dried Thyme: 1 tbsp

Olive Oil: 4 tbsp

In a bowl, mix together flour,salt and the seasonings. To this add the potato cooked and mix. Add oil 1 tbsp at a  time and knead everything together to form a soft dough.

Pinch small pieces of this dough and shape into long fingers.

Place these on a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 200C/400F for about 10-15 minutes. Take out and flip each finger onto the other side and continue baking for another 10-12 minutes till you can see brown spots on the edges or sides and inhale a hearty comforting aroma.

Take out, cool till you are able to resist and serve warm with your choice of dip/sauce as a hearty teatime snack.

Rolls are crunchy and hearty and filling.They reek of comfort which only potato can bring out. These are excellent as a for school snack box as well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Smoky Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple is one such fruit that is constantly used in savoury items as wells. The tartness of the pineapple makes it perfect for savoury dishes as well. I have always loved grilling or caramelizing pineapple and this time I made a tart spicy salsa by combining it with fiery red chillies. I have adapted the recipe from here and I have adapted the recipe by adjusting the ingredients slightly.

Pineapple: peeled,cored and cubed/quartered : about 1-1.5 cups
Onion: 1 small quartered
Red Pepper: 1 medium
Tomato: 1 medium sliced into rounds
Garlic: 1-2 big cloves
Red Chilli : 1 or more as per taste and heat (I used Birds Eye Chilli )

Mint Leaves: handful
Lemon Juice: 1-2 tbsp as per tartness
Water: just needed to make a smooth puree

Salt : as per taste
Sugar: (optional)

Heat a tawa /grill/pan sprayed with oil on high. Spread all the ingredients from pineapple to red chilli onto the grill and brown them for a few minutes on either sides. They should not be burned but the nice smoky/barbeque  aroma should come and they should look a bit charred. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

Add them to a blender along with mint leaves,lemon juice and little water.

Blend to a fine puree adding little salt and optionally sugar.

Serve with tortilla chips or grilled meat etc.

An exciting taste it was. There was no sugar in the original recipe but my pineapple was very tart. So either you increase the sweet red pepper or add just  a bit of sugar or other sweeteners as per your choice. 

The tartness of the pineapple gives way to the sweetness of peppers and refreshing mint but then comes the fiery chilli heat. A perfect dip for chips I felt. An 'umami taste!'? Not sure about that. But it definitely increases the appetite. So serve as a starter dip and surely it will be well appreciated.

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