Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Belgian Waffles and chocolate ice-cream

Waffles! Who doesn't love them. Served with warm chocolate sauce and if you like it even more chocolat-y - some belgian dark chocolate ice-cream! Whoa..somebody's mouth is watering, and then somebody's!

Anyways, on my trips to the different countries in Europe I have almost always managed to spot a Häagen-Dazs at some touristy place (much like the forbidden McDonalds always peeping out of every nook and corner of every city). Not that I go looking for it - I much prefer eating at the local trattoria or brasserie than a Häagen-Dazs. But once there, I just cannot ignore those enticing pictures of a bed of waffles with icecreams and nuts all over it! Also, being in Zurich doesn't help. You see in my almost 3 year long quest here, I have not been able to spot any decent place serving belgian waffles. Crepes, yes, pancakes too, but no waffles.
On my 2 day trip to Brussels, I had waffles for breakfast, lunch, snacks and then I think I wanted it for dinner too until my husband intervened!

So imagine my happiness when just walking past Bellevue (the lakeside) at Stadelhofen, I spot a picture saying 'Neu'(german way of writing 'New') at the Movenpick outlet. There they were - belgian waffles with ice-cream. Hubby and I tucked in a plateful each :-) Share


Lately I am finding myself drawn to Middle Eastern food. It had started with the Naschmarkt in Vienna where I had some delicious turkish sweets, and later at a Lebanese restaurant I happened to visit a couple of weeks ago. Anyways, this is the first recipe that I have for you. Well for a lazy bum like me, I need to make a dish that's just a matter of moments, is not high in fat at all, high in nutrition, and of course tasty.
So I found myself making tabouleh aka tabouli or tabbouleh. Anyone who is not middle eastern will tell you that you need 'cracked wheat' for this recipe. Not the clever geniuses like me ;)
What you need is 'bulghur'. Bulghur is wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and then cracked. So its partially cooked already which makes it very easy to work with. If you are like me(read lazy) you want the finest one - as in coarse/medium/fine finest. The medium or coarse variety is preferred if you are actually cooking it - here we'll just soak the fine bulghur. Cracked wheat is just that - cracked wheat - it isn't pre-cooked like bulghur, hence calls for a longer cooking time or soaking time.
Ok, so that's what you need. If you cant find bulghur, you can use cracked wheat too, but then you need to soak it for at least 30 minutes.
So you need 1/2 cup bulghur, Soak it in about double the quantity of warm water. Set aside for 15 minutes. In the mean time get chopping..and you need to do a lot of chopping. Here's the list ..just chop on like theres no tomorrow..and chop finely..

2 bunches of fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint (love this! Try not to skip it)
2 tomatoes
1 onion - I like to use green onions as they are not sharp at all
Juice of 2 lemons
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil. You can be generous with the oil if you like..but thats how I would prefer.

Sometimes I add some lightly toasted chopped walnuts just for a bit of crunch. Also 1/4 of a cucumber is good.

By now it should be 15 minutes. Check your bulghur. Drain any excess water, and loosen up the wheat so it fluffs up a bit. Combine it all, and dig in. You can have it with pita bread or Lettuce leaves or just as is. Takes all of 15 minutes and is refreshingly delish.
Give it a'll love it Share

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mango lassi

Ever seen that advert on CNN where they use a washing machine to churn out mango lassis but the bucketfuls? Never mind. Well I'm pretty sure that a washing machine is certainly not the must-have equipment for a good ole' mango lassi! Let's just leave it to doing what it does best!
Mango lassi is a sweet creamy yoghurt drink from India. And there is no reason why you should have it only when dining in an Indian/Thai restaurant. Try it at home, it is even more tasty when you make it yourself :)
There are 2 main ingredients in the lassi - mangoes and yoghurt. This drink tastes best if you use a variety of mango called the 'Alphonso'. They are only seen in Indian stores for about 2-3 months, and are a bit on the expensive side. But trust me, once you have had this fruit, you cannot but help get addicted to it. It is soo good! Just try it once, and you'll know what I mean. Now is the season to rush out and grab yourself a box (maybe 2). If you cannot find fresh mangoes, you 'could' use mango pulp from a can - but really, nothing beats the real deal.
Ok, so let's talk about the remaining ingredients

- 1 cup yoghurt.
- 1 cup ripe alphonso mango - peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons water(optional - use it only if you want a lighter consistency)
- A teaspoon each of chopped pistachio and almonds
- A pinch of cardamom powder
- 4 teaspoon sugar - adjust it according to the sweetness of the mango. If you are using mango pulp from a can, keep in mind that it is usually already sweetened, so you may not need the sugar at all.

Blend the mango, yoghurt, water. Taste it, and add sugar and/or water if you like. Pour it into your serving glass and garnish with the cardamom and nuts.

Chicken tikka

Chicken tikka, Paneer makhani, Vegetable samosa, gulab jamun..
Some dishes command that they only be used in a sentence with a few superlatives. When reading the menu at a nice Indian restaurant, I usually find myself saying 'wow, awesome, sounds great, this'd be delicious..' - all of it making my mouth water!
Anyways, so today we had chicken tikka for lunch today, and boy, did it taste awesome or what! And as is the case with most dishes that we make frequently (yes 'we' because chicken and fish are usually my hubby darling's specialities), it is quite a simple dish to put together - it does need a lot of ingredients, but if you have them all handy, it is hardly any effort to transform it into a delicious dish. So here is how to prepare it.
- 1 onion
- 2 bell peppers (of different colours)
- 2 tomato
- 500g chicken
Cut all the above into bite size chunks.

For the marinade, you need
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaves
- 2 green chillis - finely chopped and de-seeded if you don't like it hot
- juice of half lemon
- 2 tablespoon oil
And some coriander for garnish

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. You can marinate the chicken and vegetables for 30 minutes or more - marination does add to the flavour, but we usually skip it, and guess what - it still is very tasty!
Thread the chicken and vegetables onto skewers, and place them on a hot grill. Keep some gaps between each chicken/vegetable piece to allow for even cooking. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, turn over the skewers, and cook for another 10 minutes. You could also cook this in an oven - preheat it to 350 degrees, skewer on the chicken(soak the skewers in water for about 30 minutes prior to using), and bake it for about 25 minutes. Use a lemon wedge and some coriander leaves for garnish and dig in! Share

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chocolate and coffee truffles

Chocolate and coffee. Two of the greatest gifts to mankind. Bring the two together - and what you get is pure indulgence! To reduce the guilt, throw in some rolled oats, maybe some wheatgerm, and you have a wonderful excuse to have your daily dose of indulgen..erm..nutrition ;)
The recipe couldn't be simpler. Only a few ingredients, and hardly any time to cook, this one is ready in minutes. It keeps well for at least a week (I haven't had the chance to test it longer - it doesn't usually last more than a couple of a days!), and looks great too so makes for a very nice and easy gift. Here is the recipe.

- 2 1/2 tablespoon butter. You could use peanut butter or almond butter to up the nutrition factor - just remember to adjust the sugar accordingly
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar.
- 1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
- About a cup of rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon wheatgerm
And toppings of your choice.

Melt the butter. Add in the both the sugars, and let it simmer for a few minutes. Now add the coffee, and cocoa powder. Bring it to a boil, and take it off the heat. Put the oats and wheatgerm in a mixer and powder it. Once the coffee mixture is cool enough to work with - about 15 minutes, throw in the oats mixture and mix it up. Now get your hands dirty and start shaping the balls. (Maybe eat it a bit while you're at it). Roll these into the toppings of your choice. I used more cocoa powder(!), shredded coconut, and powdered sugar.
A word of warning - even though these babies are not all that bad for you, don't kid yourself and eat them all up. Save some for your friends and family ;D
I would be posting this for the 1x umrühren bitte's Event Share

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baked Samosa

Samosa. The crispy pastry filled with spicy potatoes, served with chutney, savoured everywhere and loved as an appetiser and snack by all. An Indian snack - the original recipe calls for deep frying the stuffed pastry, but if you know me, you know how averse I am to deep frying (and also quite stingy when using butter and oil). But how can I miss out on the good things in life? Samosa being one of them! It is easy to make if you use something like a puff pastry sheet, or wonton or a spring roll wrap. I made the dough myself, but for the sake of ease, let me just suggest you to buy one of those wraps. Also, samosas are so versatile, maybe in another version I'll share how I make the dough for the wrap. So here is how I make the samosas.

- 2 large potatoes - boiled and mashed.
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 1 or 2 green chillis - very finely chopped, and de-seeded if you don't like it hot.
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons oil

For the spices,
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder - freshly ground works beautifully
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder.
- salt

In the hot oil, add cumin, and chillis and saute for a few seconds. Add in the ginger, and onions, and salt and fry for a few minutes. When the onions are golden brown, add in the peas and the remaining masala and let it cook for 8-10 minutes. Mix it all with the mashed potatoes. Let this mixture cool for a few minutes. This stuff is so tasty that I make a lot more than I need, and make sandwiches with it the next day!
For the wrap, choose a wrap of your choice. Puff pastry works well and is very easy to get too. Cut it into approximately 4" x 8" pieces. Place a small amount of the mixture at the bottom of the 4" side, and fold it to form a triangle. Fold it twice and seal the edges with water-flour mixture(Add a tablepoon of flour to about 3 tablespoons water). You could make any shape you like, and also create the traditional trianglular shape many ways. You could also cut squares from your rolled out dough, and fill the potato mixture diagonally and close it so it resembles a cone. Brush some oil on the samosa and bake it in a 350 C oven for about 20 minutes. I served mine with a coriander - mint chutney and a thai sweet chilli sauce. Share

Blueberry pancake

I am back with another of my summer breakfast staples. And no prizes for guessing - if it's summer can berries be far behind? Blueberry pancake. Made with fresh blueberries. Of course it can be a winter pancake too - you'd just have to substitute with the frozen berries - thawed of course.
Yes, we all know how to make a batch of nice, light and airy pancakes - no one needs a course on that. But what I like about the way this version is made is the way egg whites are used. Usually, you would sift the dry ingredients, beat the egg, milk and butter, and then combine the two. That is perfect! But this one needs the egg whites to have soft peaks - and that too contributes greatly to the airy and fluffy texture along with the baking powder giving a perfect pancake!

So here is how I make it

- Take about 1/2 cup fresh blueberries - washed and dried.
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg (seperated)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tablepoon oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar

Seperate the egg yolk and white, and keep the white in a clean dry bowl.

Add the sugar to the egg yolk, and whisk it a bit. Add the milk and whisk it again. Now sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into the egg yolk mix, and combine slowly. Do not mix it too much since it will make the batter glutinous and you will have a stiff rubbery pancake. Switch on the gas now and put it on medium high. Now quickly beat the egg white till it forms soft peaks, and fold into the flour mixture. Make sure you use a clean whisk to beat the egg whites - else you wouldn't get the peaks.

Add a few drops of oil on your hot pan, and place a dollop of the pancake batter. Place a few blueberries on the pancake. Turn it after about 1 minute or so of cooking, and let the side with the blueberries cook for another 30 seconds or so.
Serve with a knob of butter, and maple syrup or honey. Share

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fish and chips

I should mention at the very start that this is not the traditional 'fish-n-chips' that you find at the friendly neighbourhood take-away of every street in Britain. Those are fried and then usually fried again in a batter of flour, spices and beer for best texture, colour and flavour. I love those, but when I'm cooking at home, deep frying is first of all not the best way I would like to cook, and of course it leaves the kitchen quite messy. So mine are the oven baked 'chips'. And fish was cooked on an electric raclette grill. The recipe is as easy as it gets.

Take some russet potatoes. 4 large ones work well. Cut them into wedges of a thickness you like. In a seperate bowl, add about
2 tablespoons of olive oil,
some very finely chopped garlic - I used 2 cloves,
a teaspoon full of cumin seeds
freshly cracked pepper and salt.
If you like it spicy, add some cayenne pepper. I also added some de-seeded green chilli finely chopped. (Now that I am thinking how I had prepared it, some ready-fried onions would have done much good too!).
And as I do in a lot of my recipes with starchy potatoes, a generous teaspoon full of 'Herbs de Provence' - a mix of dried Italian herbs. Mix it all and rub the potatoes with this mixture.
Bake them in a 350 oven for about 15-20 minutes.

For the fish, take some fresh filleted fish. They are usually made with cod but any dense fish works fine. Make a rub using a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 clove of garlic very finely chopped, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon, and again some de-seeded green chilli.
Rub this mix on both sides of the fish, and cook it on medium - each side for about 5 minutes.
Plate it up, and have it as is or with a slice or 2 of some bread. Share


Tiramisu - translated it means 'pick me up'. Just one look at it, and it will beckon you to sink your teeth into it! It is one of those very simple - no bake desserts and all you need to prepare it is assemble a few ingredients. And then wait. Wait patiently until it is ready to be 'picked up'. This is an Italian dessert and found in trattorias all over Italy, and of course much loved the world over. Here is how you make it. Of course there is no one way to make it, it is so versatile that you can alter it any way you like it. Here is how I make it, and it is quite close to the traditional way to prepare it. You need

250 gm Mascarpone cheese
3 eggs - seperated
5 tablespoons of sugar
1 and 1/2 cup coffee - freshly brewed, and cooled to room temperature
ladyfingers - 1 package containing 24 pieces
grated dark chocolate and/or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons rum. Dark rum is usually used, but since I had run out of it, I used white rum.

Alcohol is optional, and also the amount added varies from person to person ;)
For variation, you could try Kahlua (coffee liqueur)or good quality marsala wine. For a slighltly fruit-flavoured tiramisu, you could use orange liqueur, cherry liqueur..the options are really all upto you I'd say.
Here is how to assemble it all together. Put some coffee to brew - make it a strong brew. Leave it to cool. Now beat the egg yolks and sugar. Slowly add the mascarpone and continue beating. Add 1 tablespoon of the espresso, and mix it as well.
In a seperate bowl, whip the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks. Now fold the egg whites into the yolk-cheese mixture.
Pour the coffee in a dish big enough so you can dip the lady fingers in them. Add the rum in the cooled coffee. Dip the ladyfingers in the coffee-rum mix and layer them in a 9x12 dish. Do not be tempted to dip the ladyfingers for too long. Just place it for no more than 3 seconds else it will break apart. After the first layer is done, spread the mascarpone, egg mixture evenly. Layer more coffee dipped ladyfingers, and then another layer of the mascarpone.
Cover it and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. Sprinkle generously with cocoa powder and grated chocolate. Bon appetit! Share

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hash browns

Potatoes. Fried, baked ,boiled or mashed. Need I say more? Who doesn't love them. There are a few things that are quite as life saviours sometimes as potatoes, eggs and pasta! Always handy, easy and never disappoint even the most novice cook. You can't possibly go wrong in a recipe that uses nothing but potatoes. With a dash of butter! (Why am I hungry again?).
So a quick and easy dish that you could have for breakfast, or sometimes as a side, or just a snack is a Hash brown. The crispier the better. A nice starchy potato like a russet works best in a dish like this. So here is the recipe.

Peel about half a kilo (1 lb) of potatoes. Grate them, and press out the moisture either using paper towels, or a potato ricer or just squeeze between your palms. This is important as it will give you a hash brown that is crispy, not mushy. Although mushy hashbrowns are also yummy!

Heat up some oil in a pan. Now you can either layer some of the grated potato directly, or add some spice/flavour if you like. I put some cumin seeds, and then added the potatoes. Press them a bit so it all comes together. Make a thin layer so it cooks evenly. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. When it is slightly golden brown - turn and cook the other side. I sprinked some dried oregano, which is entirely optional. They go great with eggs - specially a half fry/sunny side up/bulls eye..whatever you like to call it. And a strip or two of bacon. Yum yum yum! Share

Monday, July 6, 2009

My latest haul - A Cocktail Shaker set

I dont know if it's the summer or is it just me. This time the summer has been so cold, windy, rainy and cloudy that it hardly feels like the one we were all craving for after the extremely chilly winter. And it's already July, so just another 2 months, and we are back to wearing 10 sweaters, jackets, gloves, caps... :-(.
So I was wondering if it is the weather that is bringing out this unknown side to me. I am not much of a drinker, or shall I say, I have not been much of a drinker all my life - only, as they say 'drinking socially' ;) - which means an occasional tequilla or 2, sometimes a gin and tonic, but mostly wine.
But on those rare sunny days, I feel like I should celebrate it - I want to go biking, hiking, picknicking, and oh, just chilling - basking in the summer sun for long hours! Sweet! But the days when the sun is our friend are so few and far between. So on such rare days of this season I have found myself reaching more than once to my trusted cocktail shakers to make myself and hubby a margharita or two, maybe a mojito, or a martini.

So, as is the case with shopaholics like me, I felt just a cocktail shaker aint enough! Yeah, you get the know where I'm getting. So this weekend I bought myself an entire set. The tools that every self respecting bartender should have :). No I am not aspiring to be one, but home bartending would work just fine for me. So here is what I got - a cocktail shaker, jigger and a hawthorn strainer. Happy drrrinking. Hic!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I made yet another batch of those whole wheat oatmeal cookies whole wheat oatmeal cookies yesterday - only this time, I doubled the amount of chocolate chips. And reduced the oatmeal. It's still not the same as a decadent double chocolate chip cookie that I was craving for. Actually I wanted to have something really sweet, and a lot of it! So today I made an Indian dessert. Who loves Indian food? Mee me me!!! This one is as simple as it gets, and it only uses a few ingredients. Creamy, soft, decadent. That's what it is. 'Sandesh' is what it's called. And it is made with an Indian cheese - paneer. I am sure you have had a dish with paneer at least once in an Indian restaurant. If you haven't, boy, are you missing something in life or what! Go try one. My recommendation - Paneer tikka masala (somebody's mouth is watering!)
So here is how you make paneer.

Take 8 cups of whole milk. Bring it to a boil, preferably in a non stick pot. Add in about a quarter cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, little at a time. Vinegar also works fine. Keep stirring - and in a matter of moments you will see the whey seperating from the milk. Once that happens, strain it through a cheesecloth, twist it so the water squeezes out. Dip this in a bowl of water(just to get rid of any lemony taste it may have). Twist the cheesecloth and try to squeeze out all the water. If needed, put some weight on it for about 10 minutes to help get rid of the water. Now it is ready to use.
Here are the rest of the ingredients you will need
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pistachios - about 20 pistachios. 1 for each piece of sandesh. And some very finely chopped, just to sprinkle on top.
A pinch of saffron soaked in warm milk

Mix the sugar, cardamom in the paneer. Knead it for a few minutes. Now put it on low heat, and stir it continuously for about 6-7 minutes. This step is important because stirring, and mashing it with a rubber spatula will ensure a soft and creamy texture. Once it is cool enough to work with, roll it into balls, or any shape you like. For the garnish add a drop of the saffron soaked milk and pistachios on each piece, and enjoy!
This post goes to the JFI Saffron Event Share