Saturday, 26 June 2010

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

The weather here in UK is soo sunny and bright these days and I am loving this lovely weather and enjoying it to the fullest and thus not getting much time to post regularly and also for blog hopping.

And today's post was in drafts from more than 2 months ago..finally it got some attention and light today :)

Bruschetta pronounced as
brus╦łketta is an easy an eye-catching appetizer from the country of Italy. There are many variations for the toppings but, I make it this way-which is easy and ready in few minutes, and also need very few ingredients.

TOMATO AND BASIL BRUSCHETTA

Ingredients:
1 loaf Ciabatta bread or any other hard crust bread,
2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil,
2-3 cloves of garlic,
5-6 ripe plum tomatoes,
few basil leaves ,
1/4 tsp pepper powder andsalt to taste.

Method:
De-seed and chop the tomatoes into small cube and chop the basil leaves finely. In a bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves with salt and pepper powder and also add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to it. Mix well and keep aside.

Slice the bread into 1"inch in thickness. Rub the slices with garlic clove ad drizzle some olive oil on the slices and toast them in an oven or over a griddle(tawa) until they turn crispy and light brown in colour. Spoon the tomato and basil mixture on the toasted slices and serve as an appetizer or a snack.


Variations: If you like your tomato topping to be soft and juicy, add some boiling water to the chopped tomatoes and mash slightly.
And if you want to make it more appealing, you can bake the slices after adding the topping and some grated cheese on top.

Note:
Traditionally Ciabatta bread loaf is used for Bruschetta, but one can use any Italian bread or any bread that has a hard crust.
Make sure the tomatoes used are ripe and red in colour,


Monday, 21 June 2010

Baked Blueberry Cheesecake- with blueberry sauce

Creamy , yummy and gorgeous looking dessert- Yes !! I am talking about cheesecake. I am sure those have tasted cheesecake can never say 'No' to this tempting dessert. I fell in love with this dessert during my stay in New York State and let me tell you NY cheesecakes are very famous all around the globe. And if you are living in US you should definitely try cheesecakes from 'The Cheesecake Factory' atleast once.

My love for cheesecakes urged me to learn making this dessert at home..The first cheesecake I made was Strawberry cheesecake which I have earlier posted in my blog here. And this time, I baked a Blueberry cheesecake with home made Blueberry sauce. And I was so happy with the results, I just loved the gorgeous colour of the blueberry sauce on it and I was so happy that it was baked perfectly and didn't crack. And I am definitely going to bake this again and again.

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

For the base:
1 cup digestive biscuits-crumbs,
3 tbsp of melted butter,
1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder and
1/2 cup of sugar.
For the filling :
16 oz /approx 500 grams of cream cheese,4 large eggs,
16 oz sour cream,
1 1/4 cup sugar,
3 tbsp all purpose flour,
1 tsp vanilla extract and
1 tsp lemon zest.
For the sauce:
2-3 cups fresh Blueberries,1/2 cup of sugar,
1 tbsp of cornstarch and
juice of half lemon.
Method: Preheat the oven to 325° F / 162° C. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the crust and And press this mixture firmly into a round spring form baking pan. Press in very firmly using the back of a ladle or with a measuring cu(with flat surface). When, the crust is firmly pressed, refrigerate the pan till the filling is ready.

To make the filling- Beat the cream cheese in a bowl with a hand held mixer on medium speed until fluffy.Add the sugar and beat again for 1 minute. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat on low speed after each addition . Add the sour cream, flour, vanilla essence and the zest and beat on low speed just till all the ingredients are well combined. Pour this mixture into the chilled crust and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 45-60 minutes or until firm, but little wobbly in the center. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack . Refrigerate for ateast 7-8 hours or overnight and just before serving top it with blueberry sauce or store bought blueberry pie filling.

For the sauce:
Combine all the ingredients listed above in a non stick saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar is melted, the blueberries breaks and till it reaches the consistency of a sauce. Cool in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Notes:

Special care should be taken, to prevent the cheesecake from cracking. And the main reasons for the cheesecake cracks are over beating the ingredients or over baking. So, always make sure not to over-bake the cake.
If you like the the crust even on the sides, just double the quantity given above for the crust and press the mixture firmly and evenly on the sides.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Cajun Potatoes- Spicy Potato Wedges

This is for those who love spicy food. When I say spicy , I mean really really spicy. I made these the other day coz it needs only few ingredients and gets ready in few minutes and was perfect to munch as evening snacks and more importantly I had too many potatoes at who which were going bad :) But..it was tooooo spicy for me to handle..thought my husband loved them and relished these wedges coz he loves spicy(very very spicy ) food. Actually the ingredients given below are for a milder version. But if you are using really hot chilli powder, you can reduce or increase the chilli powder quantity according your your tastes.

SPICY POTATO WEDGES


Ingredients:
5-6 potatoes,
1 tbsp of olive oil,
1/2 tsp red chilli powder,
1/4 tsp crushed peppercorns,
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes,
1/4 tsp Oregano,
1/4 tsp thyme,
1/2 tbsp lemon juice and
salt to taste

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200° C. Wash and cut the potatoes into wedges along with the skin. In a bowl, mix all the other ingredients: chilli powder, chilli flakes, peppercorns,salt, oregano and thyme with olive oil . Add the wedges to this marinade and mix well to coat evenly. and keep aside for 10-15 minutes. Places these marinated potato wedges in an oven tray and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Make sure to baste them with some olive oil or butter in between and to frequently turn them. Sprinkle lemon juice on the wedges and serve with tomato ketchup or any of your favorite dip.
Note:
I making this for kids, please reduce the quantity of the chilli powder and chilli flakes.
I used olive oil for basting the wedges in between. But butter or vegetable oil can also be used.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Chicken Shawarma

Shawarma, originally a middle eastern fast-food has also become a famous food in many cities of India. Tradionally Shawarma is made using meat, beef or chicken and grilled on a rotating spit, and then, thin slices are cut from the spit and used as a filling for wraps.

And this recipe below, is soo soo easy to prepare and tasted very yummy. I have made few changes in this recipe to suit our taste buds :) and here I used Pita bread for filling the chicken shawarma, but it can be wrapped in a tortilla wrap or home made roti/ chapathi.


CHICKEN SHAWARMA
-slightly adapted from 'Middle Eastern Cookbook' by Maria Khalife

Ingredients:
500 gram boneless chicken breast,
1 large Onion- chopped finely,
3 garlic cloves-chopped,
1/4 cup vegetable oil,
1/4 cup lemon juice,
1/4 tsp ground cloves,
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder,
1/2 tsp red chilli powder,
1/4 tsp white pepper powder,
1/4 tsp Sumac and
1/4 tsp oregano.

For Serving:
Pita Bread,Garlic dip,
Salad and
French fries.
Method:
Cut the chicken into julienne Strips. In a bowl, mix all the other ingredients, add the chicken and mix well to coat the chicken completely with the spices. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.Preheat the oven to 200° C ? 400°F. Place the chicken with its marinade in an oven proof dish and cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
Serve with pita bread, salad, garlic dip and french fries.
For Garlic dip:
Pound 6-7 cloves of garlic with 1/2 tsp salt to a smooth paste. In another bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Gradually add this to this garlic, blending it to obtain a fluid with consistency of mayonnaise. Mix 1 -tbsp of mayonnaise if required.

Notes:
Instead of pita bread, one can fill the chicken in tortilla wraps or a plain Indian chapati can also be used to fill this chicken.
And instead of vegetable oil , olive oil can be used in the marinade.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Paneer Tikka

Soft Indian cheese and veggies marinated in Indian spices and grilled . Yes !!I am talking about Paneer Tikka- a famous Indian starter, which is easy and quick to make and great for parties and potlucks. And its a favorite of Indian vegetarians and also the best alternative of Chicken tikka.

I started making this only few months back and I have fallen in love with this low fat appetizer. And my family loves it too. My kiddo calls it chicken cube :) believe me its so easy and tastes yummy and even those people whole don't like paneer will be tempted to eat this.

I have used hung yogurt in this use, this helps in coating the marinade evenly. But store bought thick yogurt can also be used. And if you want your tikkas to have that red tandoori look, a pinch of red food colour can be added to the marinade. So, without further ado, lets move on to the recipe.

PANEER TIKKA
Ingredients:
300 grams of Paneer,
1 large onion,
1 green bell pepper,
1 red bell pepper,
1 yellow bell pepper,1 cup thick yogurt,
1 tsp ginger paste,
1 tsp garlic paste,
1 tsp red chilli powder,1/2 tsp of garam masala powder,a pinch of turmeric powder,
1/2 tsp cumin powder,
1/2 tsp amchoor(dry mango)powder(optional),
1/2 tsp Kasoori methi(optional),
1/4 tsp of pepper powder and
salt to taste.

Method:
Cut the Paneer into 1 inch cubes. Cut the onion into into big cubes, deseed and cut the bell peppers into 1" inch peices. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste with all the dry spices and mix well. Now add the cubed paneer and all the veggies to this paste and mix well and make sure that the marinade coats all the veggies.Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Arrange the marinated paneer and veggies on a skewer and grill or if using an oven use broil mode or the highest temperature of your oven. Grill for 10- 15 minutes, turning the skewer in between and brush with some oil, to retain its softness.
Paneer Tikka can be served on a bed of lettuce with some veggies or arrange them on toothpicks for individual serving.

Notes:
If using wooden skewers, soak them for 6-7 hours or overnight in water to prevent them from burning.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Tiramisu Cake

Like many other bloggers out there, even I have a dream to join The Daring Kitchen someday..But, I feel I still need to learn a lot about baking, before I can join or atleast come close to those amazing and expert bakers. So, when I heard about Sweet punch , which was started to teach Novice bakers like me about baking...I knew that this group is for me :) And I am sure, I will love baking yummy goodies every month.

'A Sweet punch' is a new baking group started by Ria, Divya and Maria. This group is for all those people out there who are still learning to bake (like me) and Sweet Punch is for all those whose have a passion for baking because the mission of this group is to make baking easy for EVERYONE. And thus, our first baking challenge by Ria of Ria's collection was to bake this Tiramisu cake.

Tiramisu- I am sure everyone one knows about this famous Italian dessert. Traditionally Tiramisu is made using savoiardi (lady finger biscuit), which are dipped in coffee or rum and then layered with mascarpone cheese and whipping cream mixture and then, dusted with cocoa powder. And this Tiramisu cake is easy to bake and assemble and tastes Yummmmm.

Though I had never tasted this dessert before, I had heard a lottt about this dessert and I always wanted to make this at home. And Now,I have just fallen in love with this dessert and I am definitely going to try this again and again. TIRAMISU CAKE
For the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour,
2 teaspoons baking powder,
1/8 teaspoon baking soda,
1/4 teaspoon salt,
1 1/4 sticks/10 tablespoons unsalted butter(room temperature),
1 cup sugar,
3 large eggs,
1 large egg yolk,
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water.

For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone,
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar- sifted,
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips,
Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.

Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.

To make the extract:
Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.

To make the syrup:
Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and set aside.

To make the filling and frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

To assemble the cake:
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

For the frosting- whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.

Notes:
The cake can be cut into small rounds and can be made as cakelettes or you can assemble them in a glass for individual servings.
I didn't use the whole syrup to moisten the cake, thinking it would become soggy. But I think the quantity given above should have been used to make the cake more moist.
And I have skipped using Kahlua or brandy for the extract and the syrup for obvious reason.
And as I didn't get chocolate covered express bean, I used choco chips to decorate.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Kiwi Ice Pops

Its Summer time here in UK..is it really? Its June already and still waiting for good and bright sunny days...like it should be during Summer. Last week was so bright and sunny and hot..the temperature raised till 28° C and when we were all so happy and excited to see those sunny days we had been waiting for..it lasted only for 3-4 days and now its rainy and the temeprature has gone down to 14°C :( People living in these European countries are blessed with only few counted weeks of summer.And we try our best to enjoy it and make the most of it. So, last week, when it was hot and sunny, I made these Kiwi ice pops. My kid loved these and has been asking me to make more. The green colour of these ice pops will definitely attract kids.


KIWI ICE POPS

Ingredients:
4 kiwi fruit,
1 cup sugar,
1 3/4 cup water,
1 kiwi-sliced and
juice of 1 lime.

Method:
In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and the sugar to boil and keep aside to cool. Peel the kiwi fruit, cut them into quarters and remove the white core and the black seeds from all the pieces. Now place the seeded kiwis in a food processor and puree the kiwis to a liquid. In a large bowl, combine the puree, the above sugar syrup, lime juice and the remaining 3/4 cup of water. Stir well and pour this mixture into molds and freeze until they begin to set. place a slice of Kiwi on the top and insert a stick and freeze again for 5-6 hours or overnight.
For easy unmolding, dip the molds briefly in hot water and holding the stick , pull out carefully.

Note:
If molds are not available, disposable plastic cups can also be used(as I did). Actually the paper cups are more convenient and its always easy to unmold from paper cups, than ice molds.

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