Aug 28, 2012

Semiya and Sago Payasam...a sweet pudding with Vermicelli and Tapioca Pearls!

Today is Thiruvonam ... Wishing all my lovely readers, friends and family a Very Happy ONAM.
I'm going to share a really sweet and simple payasam , which is commonly made in my house. My son loves this and can eat it for all 3 meals (which I don't allow him to ofcourse) !!

Semiya payasam can be had warm or cold and the prepartion cannot go wrong. I have added little Sago / Tapioca pearls to thicken the consistency of the payasam. Enjoy and have a wonderful time!

The recipe here makes a pretty decent amount to serve 3-4 people. Double it for more! :-)
Semiya and Sago Payasam Recipe
You'll need
Vermicelli - 1 cup
Sago / sabhudhana / tapioca pearls - 1/4 cup
Whole Milk - 3 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cup to 1 cup (as per sugar preference)
Cardamom (elachi) powder - 1 tsp (powder from around 3-4 cardamom pods)
Saffron - a pinch (optional)
Ghee - 2 tblsp
Cashews (halved) - 1 tblsp
Raisins - 1 tblsp

Directions1. Soak the tapioca pearls/sago in water for 30mins to 1 hour.
2. Heat the ghee and fry the cashews and rainsins and keep aside.
3. Use the remaining ghee to roast the vermicelli until it turns golden brown .
4. Add the milk, soaked sago, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands.
5. Keep stirring and let it come to a boil , also make sure the vermicelli is cooked through and the sago/tapioca perals looks translucent.
6. Finally add the Cashews and Raisins and turn off the heat. Serve it warm or chilled!

1. If the payasam becomes too thick (which it will become once it cools), add more milk or water according to your preference.
This Onam is even more special as I get to make Appu actually eat his first Onam sadhya. Let's see which dishes he actually eats ;-)

So whats your plan this Onam? a full fledged sadhya? :-)


Aug 24, 2012

Grilled Chicken Satay Kebabs

For the past 2 years, we have had long loooooong discussions on whether we should buy a grill or not , and now finally we have managed to buy one :-) A portable Gas grill, and I'm so glad that we bought one now.
Everything from veggies , to non-veggies , to fruits taste exceptional when cooked on a grill.
But I've been so busy marinating, grilling and eating, that I never took any much decent snaps to share all that I've been cooking or let's say 'grilling' up :-) But I'll share the few that I did take.

We inaugurated our grill, with yummy Tandoori chicken legs, the same evening we bought the grill :-) I shall post recipe soon. Heres a peek at how they turned up (the pics aren't a beauty I must say).
But it tasted beyond YUMMY and even lil'M ate almost a whole chicken leg , well thats something. And need I say about Manish ;-)
My next attempt were these Grilled Chicken Satay kebabs. And I wouldn't waste my time explaining how juicy and tender the chicken was and how extremely flavorful the marinade was. Try it out yourself.
As a dessert to these kebabs I made Lime n Brown sugar glazed grilled Pineapple and we had that with Vanilla icecream. Big M, lil'M and mommy M loved it !! ;-)
Here's while they were on the grill...mmmm that char is actually carmelised sugar...slightly crunchy, sweet n oh-so juicy!!
On to my Chicken Satay kebabs. I'm sure this marination would go well with Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), Mushrooms , even Fish, should give all this a try :-)
I did not have all the exact ingredients as in the original recipe, so I've adapted it to my ingredient availability. Got this recipe from Manu's blog Manu's Menu and I want to thank her for this exceptional recipe.
I also made the peanut sauce , but lets me be honest to say that I was more interested in the chicken and din't do full justice to the peanut sauce recipe. :-)
You can check the actual recipe here

Grilled Chicken Satay Kebabs Recipe
You'll need
Skinless Chicken Breasts - 4 (cut into cubes)
Shallots - 6
Garlic cloves - 2 
Vegetable oil - 4 tblsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 2 tblsp
Soy sauce - 4 tsp
Bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 2 hours so they do not burn) - I used 4

1. Cut the chicken into small cubes. 
2. Grind all the other ingredients in a food processor, adding a little water if needed. Pour this mixture onto the chicken cubes and marinate it overnight.
3. Skewer the chicken cubes and grill them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until it looks well cooked and charred slightly.
1. Its best when served with some chutney or sauce. Peanut sauce being a popular option.
2. Corriander-Mint chutney mixed with a little yogurt is also a good accompaniment. Check out my recipe for green chutney here.
3. Use up any leftovers for a yummy sandwhich or add it to a simple salad.
They tasted good even without any sauce as the chicken was so juicy and tender and the marinade had a really good flavor. Grilled food always tastes so yumm!!
I'm gonna be doing a lot more experiments with my grill, so cook along , lets eat and be merry!! :-)


Aug 18, 2012

Charlotte Royale Bombe Glacée...a SwissRoll IceCream cake!

This is one knockout dessert for any occasion, especially good for a hot summer day. I made this Swiss Roll Ice-cream cake aka Charlotte Royale , for a BBQ party we had few months back. I'd been wanting to make this ever since I saw this online somewhere. I must say it looked simply striking and tasted even better.

A Charlotte Royale , traditionally, has a bavarian creme filling , surrounded by swiss rolls. Various other filling options are whipped cream /custard /mousse/ fruit .
The name of Bombe Glacée also suits this dessert well. [A bombe glacée or simply a bombe in English, is an ice cream dessert frozen in a spherical mould so as to resemble a cannonball, hence the name : Source- Wikipedia]
Hence this dessert can be perfectly called : Charlotte Royale Bombe Glacée ;-)
Well this was my first attempt at making a Swiss Roll Cake too, but since I had to get this dessert done, I din't get enough time to take better pics of my Swiss Roll. Next time perhaps!
But I must share the fact that my first attempt at baking a Swiss Roll cake failed, I ended up with a biscuit like cake, which I could never roll. So I tried again, reducing the baking time, and it worked like a charm.

I used the recipe and technique for the Swiss Roll cake from the book "Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking" by Caroline Bretherton , but I used cake flour and added an extra egg as I wanted to finish it :-)
The whole process of baking the cake, cooling it, filling the roll and assembling the Charlotte and freezing again took me about 4-5hrs but it was totally worth it. 

Swiss Roll Cake Recipe
You'll need:
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup [ I used Cake flour  ]
Eggs - 3 ( I used  4)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Strawberry jam - around 6-8 tblsp

* [ 1 cup Cake flour 3/4 cup All-purpose flour + 2 Tblsp Cornflour ]

Baking the cake:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 400F and apply some butter over a 17"x11" cookie sheet pan and place a parchment paper over it. Again apply butter over the parchmnet paper and dust it with all-purpose flour, discarding any excess and keep aside.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients- Cake flour and baking powder.
3. Place a heatproof bowl over a vessel with some simmering water. (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water)
4. Beat together on high speed the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt  under creamy and smooth, around 5-7 minutes.
5. Take it off the heat and continue to beat for another 2-3 minutes until the mixture has cooled down. (It should now resemble the texture of smooth whipped cream )
6. Using a spatula, slowly fold in the dry ingredients. Do not over mix, or you will deflate the egss.
7. Pour the cake batter over the sheet pan and spread it evenly across the pan using an offset spatula or spoon.
8. Bake for 6-10 mins until toothpick inserted springs back clean. (Mine was done in 6 minutes, so it would'nt harm to check a few minutes before the set time)

Rolling the cake:
1. Immediately upon removing from the oven, invert the cake over a clean kitchen towel dusted with powdered sugar and carefully remove the parchment paper. (The towel should be larger than your cake)
2. Again dust with powdered sugar over the top , keeping one small end of the towel inside the cake and start rolling your cake. Be gentle yet firm and make sure your cake does not tear.
(I rolled mine with the longer side facing me, as I wanted a long swiss roll with small slices. If you roll with the shorter end facing you, you will have a thicker swiss roll with bigger slices.)
3. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
4. Once cooled slowly unroll and add your filling (I used store-bought strawberry jam) and roll again very carefully without the kitchen towel and place the roll with seam side down.
5. Refrigerate or Freeze until required in a plastic wrap. (A chilled cake is easier to assemble)

Charlotte Royale Bombe Glacée
You'll need
Swiss Roll cake
IceCream - for filling (I used both Vanilla and Strawberry flavor )
Dome shaped bowl for assembling
Plastic wrap
Knife - to slice the swiss roll ;-)

1. Use a dome shaped bowl (I used my 1qt size Pyrex glass bowl)
2. Line it with cling wrap or plastic wrap. Line carefully along the inside of the dome so the the plastic wrap exactly takes the shape of the bowl.
3. Cut the Swiss Roll into individual slices and start by placing a slice in the centre of the bowl. Continue placing more slices around the centre slice (its best if all slices are kept such that seam side is facing down on the centre slice and use a Serrated knife to avoid too much crumbling)
4. Tightly press each slice together so that there are no gaps, else your filling will ooze out from the gaps.
5. Finally fill in your swiss roll bowl with Ice-cream / mousse / fudge or any filling of your choice. (I used  store bought vanilla icecream and strawberry icecream for my filling)
6. You can cover the top with more slices of swiss roll, to give a closure to your filling, but this step is optional.
7. Freeze for 2-3 hours before use and serve chilled!!

Suggestions: If your last layer is sticking out of the bowl, trim the end so that its exactly coincides with the rim of the bowl. (I squeezed mine into fitting ;-) )
Well the pics were taken in a hurry, as I dint want the ice-cream to melt , photographing anything with ice-cream can be quite a challenge, specially on a hot summer day.
This is definitely a slice of heaven!!!
It was so much fun seeing this dessert come together. It definitely had a 'WOW' factor at the bbq party and both kids and adults dug into it....The whole room was silent as each one relished on this super yummy cool and creamy ice-cream cake ;-) Need I say more?
I chose vanilla and strawberry ice-cream as my Swiss roll was a vanilla sponge filled with strawberry Jam, and the combo was excellent  :-)

More fun summer recipes coming up...though here in Minneapolis summer seems to be slowly getting over, I'm still trying to make the most of it by trying out various grilling recipes, and simple icy-cold lemonade drinks , so stay tuned!!


Aug 10, 2012

Mashed Potato and Veggie Sandwiches with Cilantro-Mint chutney

Its summer and the best thing about summer is 'Picnicking' (if that's even a word)  ;-)  
At the park or beach or even you own backyard...and the best part about going on a picnic are Picnic Baskets, filled with yummy goodies. 
Theres something about eating out in the open that makes even the most boring dish look spectacular and taste twice as good.  Do you agree?
This Veggie sandwhich is a really quick and easy-to-prepare dish and perfect hand food for any picnic or outing or even just a tea time snack. All the ingredients used are generally what we always keep at hand in our homes, so its an easy go-to recipe and plus, its so healthy.  
The mashed potato helps to hold the other veggies in the sandwich together. The chutney is the star ingredient, it brings out the flavor in the sandwiches, and saute'd veggies add a lovely crunch....mmm, my mouth is watering! ;-) 
I dint use any butter, mayonnaise or ketchup on the bread. But you could if you want to. 
You could even try a grilled version of these sandwiches and they might turn out even more tasty. I should try that sometime too :-) 
Almost looks like Guacamole right?
Here I have mixed the green chutney with the mashed potatoes, else your bread may become very soggy if the chutney is directly applied on the bread. This proved super helpful, specially when you are not eating the sandwich right away. 

Mashed Potato and Veggie sandwiches with Cilantro-Mint chutney 
You'll need 
Bread Loaf - as many slices as you require sandwiches ( I used a whole pack of whole wheat bread)
For mashed potato 
Boiled potatoes - 1 or 2 (I used large Russet potatoes) 
Salt - to taste 
Pepper - to taste 
For cilantro-mint chutney 
Fresh Cilantro leaves (Dhania) - a whole handful 
Fresh Mint leaves (Pudina) - a whole handful 
Tamarind pulp / Lemon Juice - 1-2tblsp (optional) 
Ginger - 1inch piece 
Garlic - 2 cloves 
Green chillies - 3-4 (as per preferred spice level) 
Salt - to taste 
For saute'd veggies 
Onions - 1 (cut into thin slices - I used Yellow onions) 
Capsicum (Green or Red bell peppers) - 1 (cut into thin strips) 
Butter - 1/2 tblsp 
Salt - to taste 
Pepper - to taste 
Red chilli powder / Garam masala - a pinch for taste (optional)

1. Boil the potatoes until really soft , peel out the skin and using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until smooth adding required amount of Salt and pepper. Season well . (If you add a little butter , it would enhance the taste)
2. For the Cilantro-Mint Chutney, grind all the ingredients in a food processor adding water as required until a thick and smooth chutney is obtained. The chutney should taste mildly spicy and tangy. You can avoid the tamarind pulp/lemon juice if you do not like the tangy taste. 
3. Using a (non-stick) frying pan, melt the butter and saute the veggies with the masala powders (optional) until onions are mildly pink. The veggies shouldn't be overcooked, they should still retain a mild crunch. 
4. Before assembling the sandwiches, mix the mashed potatoes with enough green chutney to form a smooth paste. If you have more chutney you may add it later into the sandwiches, but make sure the mashed potatoes don't get too liquidy. (I added about 4-5 tblsp of green chutney)
To make the sandwich
1. Trim the edges of the bread (optional) and keep aside.
2. Take 2 bread slices and add the potato-chutney mixture on both slices generously.
3. Add the saute'd veggies on one of the slices and close the sandwich with the other slice having mashed potato-chutney mixture.
4. Repeat until required number of sandwiches are obtained, or until the veggies and mashed potato are  over :-)
1. Veggie options are unlimited, you can try using zucchini, mushrooms , eggplant etc . For picky eaters, cook the veggies, grind them and add it to your mashed potato. They'll never know the difference ;-)
2. Even including paneer or tofu , scrambled eggs, cooked chicken etc is a good idea.
3. Spice level can be increased or decreased as per taste preference.

I covered each sandwich in cling wrap before going to the park. They can also be enjoyed as a cold sandwich. So give this a try, its an easy recipe , nothing an go wrong with it !

Would you like one right now? ;-)


Aug 4, 2012

A Day at the Park...and something Spaghetti ;-)

Since I don't really have a name for this dish, as it was something I quickly conjured up before going for a lovely picnic at the park, I'll just call it Spaghetti Rigati with saute'ed Chicken sausage and Veggies in Pasta Sauce ;-)
I'm also gonna call this dish semi-homemade, because all I did was cook the pasta, saute some frozen mixed veggies and some chicken sausage slices and add pasta sauce and 'voila' yummy spaghetti is ready. Really a go-to idea when you make impromptu decisions for a picnic :-)
But if you have good ol'homemade marinara sauce/pasta sauce ready at hand, please by all means do use that and you can use any fresh veggies of your choice, you can also add cooked chicken/meat/eggs etc, its so versatile :-)
Last weekend we made a quick decision to have a simple picnic at the park. My initial plan was to make some sandwiches, but then I saw this box of spaghetti rigati in my pantry and thought I would use that up.
I started boiling the pasta, meantime cut up the sausage, fried them in little canola oil, sauted the veggies in same pan, added the pasta sauce and once the pasta was done added the spaghetti to the sauce and mixed well and at the end, added 2 cheddar cheese slices on top and covered the pan and turned off my stove, allowing the cheese to melt. All done in 20 minutes.
Our picnic menu included the Spaghetti I made, some Strawberries and Cherries , Tortilla chips and some goldfish crackers for Appu. Then we had water and soft drinks etc. Simple and homely!

Our little guy had lots of fun at the park...running over the grass carefree, with no baby proofing anywhere and lots of space :-) He ran behind 2 crows for sometime and then got bored, as they kept flying off before he could go and say Hi...Duh! I'm sure he likes dogs, coz everytime one would pass by he would stand and wave in full delight until he lost sight of the dog :-)
Oh and he did meet few little kids his size, who inturn were really happy to see him :-) They kept pointing at things and saying something in their own laguages...I guess they understood each other more than we understood them.

Manish and I decided to do Canoeing after a looooong time. Little M found it very boring to stand in the canoe wearing a huge life-jacket and not being able to paddle while his dad had all the fun, so he kept fussing now and then. I was scared that if I move too much the boat would topple ;-P and Manish had all the fun trying to paddle and going in all the wrong directions...hahaha!! But all over it was an amazing experience. After reaching ashore we let Manav play with the paddle for sometime so that he also feels he did something useful ;-)
After all this we were hungry ofcourse, our picnic spread was just good enough for the 3 of us.
We took a spot by the lake side and in the shade and happily gorged on the food. You can see how everyone literally gulped the food ;-)
Anyway on to my quick and easy recipe now. This recipe makes enough pasta to serve 3-4 people actually, but I used it as I dint want any leftover pasta or sauce.
You can halve the recipe if you need a lesser portion. Another dish that I've prepared using Spaghetti Rigati is this. I like this kind of spaghetti as the sauce really coats into it well.

Spaghetti Rigati with Saute'ed Veggies & Chicken Sausage in Pasta Sauce
You'll Need
For pasta:
1. Spaghetti Rigati - 1 box
2. Hot Boiling Water - enough to immerse and boil the spaghetii
3. Frozen mixed veggies - 1-1.5 cups
4. Chicken Sausage - 4-5 (Cut into slices) - I used the Chicken Sausage with Apple and Gorgonzola cheese found in Costco
5. Pasta Sauce/Marinara Sauce - 1 whole bottle (1lb or 24oz)
6. Canola oil/ Olive Oil - 1 tblsp
7. Italian Seasoning (Dried Oregano, basil, Thyme etc) - a pinch or to taste
8. Cheddar cheese slices - 2 (optional) - Thes are same as the sandwhich cheese slices
9. Salt - to taste

1. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
2. Heat the oil in a pan/kadai , add the Chcicken sausage and fry them until it turns brown.
3. Now add in the veggies and Italian seasonings and cook until the veggies are soft.
4. Add the pasta sauce and mix everything well and simmer for 2 minutes. Add some salt if needed.
5. Finally toss in the spaghetti and again mix well so that the sauce is coated everywhere on the spaghetti.(If the spaghetti looks dry, add some pasta water and toss again.)
6. Cook for 2 minutes and turn off the heat.
7. Cut the cheddar cheese into smaller squares and place them on top of the spaghetti and cover the pan/kadai with a lid and keep aside.

Manish, who isn't a pasta lover generally, really found this dish tasty, even my Little Appu ate a few strings of pasta :-) Wish I had a snap of that to prove it to time!
I like adding the Cheddar cheese slices on top as that's how my mom used to do when we(me and my sis) were little kids and we used to dig out the pasta pieces coated with the cheese :-) You could add more cheese as per you choice.

Hope you had fun reading this post as much as I had writing it...So what are your plans for the weekend?