MyHomeMantra

Brutti ma Buoni / Ugly but Good Hazelnut Cookies

Flourless Butterless Crispy Chewy Nutty Goodness

After a recent winter rain, I discovered an intricately crafted spider web filling the entire frame outside my kitchen window. The water droplets clinging to it sparkled and danced with the sunlight, drawing my attention to an enormous spider resting there. I looked away for a minute and when I looked back, the web was gone or rather, I could no longer see it. Without the light of the sun, momentarily obscured by the clouds, the natural work of art disappeared from the view.

The way the change in life hiding and revealing things struct me as a perfect metaphor for awareness. When we put full awareness on something it’s as if we are making it to come to life. Isn’t it? We spend lot of energy at the this time of year buying and making gifts, finding the perfect holiday trees and dresses for holiday parties. The original motivation for giving gifts and celebrating can get obscured by stress and fatigue as we our awareness shifts from the feeling of connection and contentment to the harried finishing of all our to-dos.

The solution to this typical holiday syndrome is seems so simple: Keep it light! Keep you awareness shining on the things you want to bring it to life. I am taking this a step further and applying the mantra of “keep it light” to this year’s holiday gifts as well. By “light” I mean, something that does not require lot of efforts while making and also while digesting it, something that is not loaded with fats and processed carbs, something that’s delightful and will make us all happy while giving and receiving! These tiny hazelnut cookies not only sound festive but also fit the theme!Hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni, are Italian cookies, similar to a meringue cookies but these contain nuts too. Traditionally made with almonds or hazelnuts, have beautiful nutty texture with crispy from outside and chewy from inside. Only 5 ingredients and no all purpose flour and no butter make these cookies really light and very attractive for health conscious foodies.

flourless hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni roughly translates to ‘ugly but good‘ are popular in northern and central Italy and more specifically in Gavirate, a small town in the province of Varese, north of Milan.. Supposedly the recipe was created in 1878, Costantino Veniani, an age-old pastry chef and owner of the pastry shop Pasticceria Veniani. Over the course of a few years, these cookies became very popular, attracting famous people from across northern Italy into the shop. Veniani’s customers included names like MaestroGiuseppe Verdi and Queen Elena, who apparently loved brutti ma buoni so much that she would visit the little shop in person with her bodyguards and return home with the cookies for her court.

hazelnut-cookies

You need only four ingredients : hazelnuts, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Since there is no flour, these are completely gluten free. The natural oil from hazelnuts provides the fat and well beaten eggs bind sugar and grounded nuts together.

Brutti ma Buoni - Hazelnut Cookies

By , December 13, 2014

Brutti ma Buoni - Hazelnut Cookies

Flourless Butterless Crispy Chewy Nutty Goodness

Adapted from: Eating Well

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C
  2. Pulse nuts and sugar together in a food processor until finely ground.
  3. Separate egg whites in a big bowl. Add a pinch of salt to egg whites.
  4. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold in nut-sugar mixture and vanilla extract.
  6. Transfer the batter in disposable piping bag and pipe the batter on a baking tray. Don't worry too much about the shape, it's okay if they turn out 'ugly'.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the middle rack and bake for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Gently transfer them on a wire cooling rack and let them cool for 5 minutes.
  9. You can store these in an airtight container up to 2 weeks but I bet they will vanish off in days!Brutti ma buoni hazelnut cookies

Berrylicious Power Smoothie

Here is a cool way to give your body what it needs: Toss a few specific, nutrient-dense ingredients in a blender, press “high”, pour into a glass and drink up. Bona fide smoothies, that flower the early health food movement, are a far cry form today’s heavily sweetened concoctions that certain coffee shops have popularized. Resurrect the original smoothie concept and stay satisfied for hours -using rediscovered “superfoods” like anti-oxidant rich cocoa powder or protein-and omega laden chia or hemp seeds.

This every day protein smoothie is not-too-sweet yet satiating and rich in anti-oxidants. Use your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk such as almond / cashew / coconut or soy milk. Blend it with a well ripe fresh banana and handful of berries.  Add whey protein powder for extra punch and chia or hemp seeds for healthy fats. Berrylicious Protein Smoothie

 

Berrylicious Power Smoothie

By , December 7, 2014

Berrylicious Power Smoothie

Everyday breakfast smoothie!

Instructions:

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 fresh or frozen ripe banana
1/2 cup your favorite berries
1 serving of Whey protein powder
1 tbsp chia or hemp seeds or both
1 date soaked in water overnight (for more sweetness, optional) or 1 tbsp Honey

In a blender combine all ingredients and blend on high.

Enjoy your vegan power packed breakfast smoothie!

Zucchini Bread

Everyone around me seems to be fighting allergies these days. The culprit? Climate Change! Warmer, drier air is prompting trees to release their offending pollen prematurely. Stay sniffle free with this nutrition packed treat – zucchini bread with cranberries and walnuts!

zucchini bread

This was a complete surprise. I was under the impression that zucchini bread was a mere attempt to hide veggies inside a sweet treat without adding anything to the flavor. But that’s not really true. After first bite, I was sold; partly because I had pretty low expectations and also because it does taste yum!zucchini cranberry breadAddition of cranberries and walnuts contributed a whole new dimension to otherwise chewy one-tone bread. So I totally recommend adding nuts and dried fruits of your choice.

zucchini bread slicesVitamin C, anti-oxidants and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from the 3 key ingredients will definitely help you build your defenses against the seasonal allergies. That’s how I convinced my husband to try this bread and he loved it, as always!

Zucchini Bread with Cranberries and Walnuts

By , May 15, 2014

Zucchini Bread with Cranberries and Walnuts

A nice treat to have after a long day!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter two 5 by 9 inch loaf pans.

2 In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter.

3 Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and stir it in. Add the flour, a third at a time, stirring after each incorporation. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg over the batter and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

4 Divide the batter equally between the loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.zucchini bread loaf

Notes

I will recommend cranberries as they add a slight tangy note to this sweet bread. Feel free to try raisins or chopped apricots or dried figs.
Walnuts can be substituted by any other nuts of your choice such as pecans or almonds or pistachios.

Baklava / Baklawa

Change is good if it offers you ample time to adapt to it. Sudden change is hard to digest. It’s been one and half years, I have been working on this  project at work, the project which I truly believed in. It forced me to break out of my comfort zone to learn something new everyday where change was a constant phenomenon. And now suddenly it’s dead. I don’t know what I am going to work on next, I am hoping something as exciting as it was earlier. This vacuum is disturbing yet relaxing at some front. No more sprints, no more deadlines and no checking emails from home, at least for some more days! And yes, I am back on MyHomeMantra after a big gap of more than two months.

I am looking at this change as my opportunity for renewal and growth. I guess now I’m celebrating spring in its true spirit. The longer days and budding tulips have been very inspiring for me to refresh my life, my cooking experiments and my yoga practice. Tulips festival in Seattle

This was taken during my recent visit to Seattle.

Speaking of cooking experiments, there are many to talk about but the one clearly strikes out in my mind is Baklawa! I still remember, three years back when for the first time I put a piece of baklawa in my mouth; I tasted love!! I smelled butter and it tasted just like ghee with lots of nuts, with some crunch from the baked sheets, the sugar with a spicy tinge and the urge to have more!Baklava

Baklawa

It’s a perfect perfect dessert to make for a potluck or a big party. You can, actually you’ll have to make it in advance, but the efforts are totally worth the praise and love you will receive in turn! I prepared this last year for a thanksgiving party at my place. I chose middle eastern food as an overall theme just because I wanted to make Baklawa at home. The menu featured tabouleh salad, falafel sandwich with tahiti sauce, lentil soup and of course the yummy goodness .. Baklava.Middle eastern menu

Baklava

By , May 8, 2014

Baklava

Delicious phyllo pastry dessert popular in middle eastern countries

Recipe source: www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/baklava/

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Thaw the phyllo sheets as per manufacturer's instructions. This could mean keeping them in refrigerator overnight and outside for 2-3 hours before you can use them. Always make sure to keep them moist by covering them with a wet paper towel.

  1. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and set the oven to 350°F.
  2. Process the nuts until in small, even sized pieces. Combine with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.Baklava nut filling
  3. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  4. Place a sheet of phyllo dough into the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Repeat 6 more times until it is 4 sheets thick, each sheet being "painted" with the butter.Baklava painting sheets with butter
  5. Spoon on a thin layer of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter. Continue to repeat the nut mixture and two buttered sheets of phyllo until the nut mixture is all used up. The top layer should be 4 phyllo sheets thick, each sheet being individually buttered. Do not worry if the sheets crinkle up a bit, it will just add more texture.Baklawa layer
  6. Cut into 24 equal sized squares using a sharp knife. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown, and edges appear slightly crisp.Baklawa with sugar syrup
  7. While baking, make the syrup. Combine the cinnamon stick, sugar, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 7 minutes and slightly thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow to cool.
  8. Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Garnish with some finely crushed pistachios of desired.

Notes

  • The original recipe asked for 1 cup of butter and more phyllo sheets for top and bottom layer. I used only 4 sheets for these layers and also needed only half a cup of butter which is one stick melted butter.
  • I did not use honey while making sugar syrup as it's not good to boil honey. Boiling destroys its molecular structure. Also I used less sugar syrup mainly because I had reduced the number of phyllo sheets used in making the layers.
  • For nuts, I prefer to use 1/2 cup of almonds and rest walnuts and pistachios in equal proportions.
  • The spices added with the nuts were the best part of this recipe.

फोडणीची पोळी / Phodnichi Poli – Leftover Rotis Makeover

Tadka,  Phodani,  bhagar,  vaghar, chaunk or tempering or seasoning, we may call it by different names but we all agree that it’s one of the greatest inventions of Indian Cooking! A method that’s widely used in Indian Cooking and the only ubiquitous ingredient in many of our traditional dishes from North to South and East to West.

A simple method in which whole or ground spices – such as  mustard seeds, cumin and coriander with some hing and turmeric are added to hot oil or ghee. The heated oil or ghee has amazing qualities of extracting and retaining vital nutrients from the added ingredients, the same technique being used since ages for making Ayurvedic oils and medicated ghees.

The hot oil or ghee infused with the aromas of whole spices is so magical that it can elevate any basic ingredient, including as humble as a leftover roti or poli in Marathi. And what you get is a popular Maharashtrian dish; extremely tasty, super easy and a perfect healthy breakfast item that pairs nicely with a cup of chai or bowlful of fresh yogurt.

leftover-roti-makeover

It tastes best with leftover rotis as they tend to absorb oil more easily due to their extra dryness. A simple tadka with standard ingredients and curry leaves with some characteristic Maharashtrian ingredients such as peanuts and dry coconut flakes and sesame seeds, the dish provides enough oil to digest the dry rotis with extra yum factor! The peanuts can be substituted by fresh green peas, they add a hint of sweetness and a beautiful green color. But I prefer the nuttiness of roasted peanuts.

Phodnichi_poli1

 

Phodnichi Poli

By , February 23, 2014

Phodnichi Poli

A magical makeover for leftover rotis - takes no more than 15 minutes. Quick, tasty, easy and healthy - perfect for breakfast!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Grind all rotis coarsely. It's best done with your hands.
  2. In a medium pan, prepare tadka by adding all ingredients listed under tadka in the given order.
  3. Add finely chopped onion and fry it until it becomes translucent.
  4. Add roasted peanuts or green peas and let them fry for a minute.
  5. Add red chili powder, cumin-corainder powder (optional) dry coconut flakes, and salt. Mix well.
  6. Now add roti flakes, mix everything together and let it steam for 2 minutes.
  7. Add sugar and lemon juice and again steam it for another 2 minutes.
  8. Serve hot! Garnish with fine shev or chopped coriander leaves.

Spinach Mushroom with Green Garlic Sauce

I love surprises! And a surprise where I discover that I don’t have to cook after coming home from work sounds delicious to me. I do get such lucky moments occasionally when Swapnil decides to cook and I play his sous chef role. He is a great cook. He rarely follows recipes but he literally plays with his favorites vegetables and especially spices. He is very intuitive when it comes to food combinations. This spinach mushroom was a result of his experirments and it was yooummmy!!

spinach_mushroom

Spinach Mushroom with Green Garlic Sauce

By , January 20, 2014

Spinach Mushroom with Green Garlic Sauce

One word, Yummy!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Wash and chop mushrooms in big pieces. Wash spinach and keep it aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wide pan. Add chopped garlic.
  3. Add chopped onion and sauté it well until it turns translucent.
  4. Add chopped mushrooms and don't stir them a lot. Else they will start releasing water. Let them become softer.
  5. Add spinach, greens of green garlic and also sesame seed. Mix well.
  6. Stir in Italian seasoning and some salt.
  7. Add hot and sweet ketchup as per your taste and mix it well.
  8. Let it steam for a minute and then serve it hot!

sauteed spinach mushroom

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

 

This recipe is inspired from Sweet Potato and Beetroot balls from Archana’s Kitchen.  A quick, healthy, nutritious snack that looks beautiful and taste wonderful. I just described a kids-friendly recipe, didn’t I? I will be making these for halloween party coming up soon.

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

It tastes great with tangy tamarind chutney or hot-n-sour sauce or you can also try with salad with lots of greens!

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

By , October 27, 2013

Sweet Potato & Beetroot Kebabs

A delicious healthy kids-friendly snack :)

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. In a small pan, heat some oil and add chopped onions. Fry them until translucent.
  2. Add garlic paste, green chilies and let them fry for a minute.
  3. Add grated beetroot and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder, chaat masala and some salt. Mix well.
  5. Add mashed sweet potatoes and mix well.
  6. Heat Paniyaram Pan and add a few drops of oil in each pocket.
  7. Make small balls and cook them from both sides in the pan. It takes about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with chutney.

Sweet Potato Muthiya

Healthy yummy fasting snack, which is quite a rare combination!

Sweet Potatoes or रताळे (Ratale in Marathi) are in season and I absolutely adore this root vegetable. I am so glad that it’s allowed during fasting. Steamed  sweet potato with a pinch of salt and sunth (dried ginger) was my favorite after school snack.

Unfortunately my husband is not a great fan of sweet potato so I don’t make it that often but this time I experimented with a basic muthiya recipe and turned it into muthiya that can work during fasting. I used sweet potato with chestnut flour (शिंगाडा पीठ) and rajgira flour, added fresh ginger, lime juice and some cumin powder. The result was yummy healthy snack which I am extremely proud of!

Sweet Potato Muthiya

 

They taste sweetish, tangy, hot with lost of gingery flavor. Singoda and rajgira flavors are very subtle. The seasoning is a must, it takes the dish to a whole new level.

Sweet Potato Muthiya

By , October 8, 2013

Sweet Potato Muthiya

Healthy yummy fasting snack, which is quite a rare combination :)

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Start by washing, peeling and grating sweet potatoes.
  2. Add salt, lemon juice, freshly grated ginger, cumin-coriander powder and a bit of jaggery or sugar to grated sweet potatoes and mix well. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Now start adding both the flours 1/3 cup at a time. Mix well to form a dough. You won't need any water as sweet potatoes will leave out all the moisture. Add flour as needed to make not-so-thick dough.
  4. Add green chilies and mix well. Taste it.
  5. Prepare a steamer pan.
  6. Make muthiya - by pressing the dough in your palms to give it a cylindrical shape. Place these in the steamer and let them steam for about 15 minutes. Check with a sharp knife.
  7. Let them cool down a bit, before you slice them.
  8. If you are using these for fast, prepare seasoning with ghee and cumin seeds, else you can add mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame seeds. Add sliced muthiya and shallow fry them on both side.
  9. Serve hot with your favorite chutney or sauce.

Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

My favorite summer pasta toppings include chunky vegetables, a good sauce and aromatic herbs and well seasoned al dante pasta. I like to keep the ratio of pasta and vegetables almost equal, so it’s a plate full of different colors, textures and flavors. Summer Vegetables Spaghetti

It’s almost end of the summer and these beautiful pattypan squash are at their peak season. I just love how they look, bright yellow skin with a small green hat :) pattypan Squash

It’a a very simple recipe and perfect for weeknight dinner. You can add all your favorite pasta vegetables in this one pot dish.Spaghetti with Summer Squash

Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

By , August 26, 2013

Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

Spaghetti topped with marinara sauce and all your favorite vegetables!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Wash and chopped all vegetables as needed.
  2. Cook spaghetti as per instructions on its packet.
  3. In a big pan, heat some Olive oil and add smashed garlic. If you want take them off before adding other vegetables.
  4. Add other vegetables, and let them cook a bit. Add salt and pepper.summer vegetables
  5. Keep these vegetables aside. In the same pan add 1 tbsp of Olive oil and add marinara sauce and chopped basil leaves. Also add some italian seasoning if you like.
  6. Add cooked vegetables into the sauce and mix well.
  7. Let them cook little more and add cooked spaghetti and toss everything together.
  8. Serve hot, garnish with basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese.Spaghetti with Pattypan Squash

Doodhi Bajra na Thepla / Whole Grain Flatbread with Bottle Gourd

Gujaratis are well known for their snacks and they have all kinds – deep fried, steamed, baked, fermented, roasted. It’s pretty amazing that one single region of India has encompassed so many diverse techniques as part of their daily cooking.dudhi thepla

Theplas are Indian flatbreads made with whole grain flour mixed with seasonal vegetables and some commonly used spices such as green chilies, cumin-coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste. All combined into a dough using yogurt. Since there is hardly any water used in making the dough, these theplas last for couple of days, making them a perfect healthy snack for picnics or long journeys. The dough also contains some jaggery or sugar, which is signature of any Gujarati dish, trust me it actually makes it yummy! Serve it hot with pickle or chundo and yogurt.dudhi bajra thepla

Bajra flour has a very earthy flavor and it combines well with the mild flavor of dudhi. There is a good balance of different tastes of whole wheat, bajra, dudhi and ginger-garlic and jaggery.

Dudhi Bajra Na Thepla

By , August 26, 2013

Dudhi Bajra Na Thepla

Healthy breakfast with not so used Bottle Gourd

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Wash, peel and grate dudhi using wider slots on grater.
  2. Squeeze out all the water from grated dudhi, and I really mean all of it. Dudhi contains lot of moisture and it leaves out more after we add salt to the dough, so it's time to use some muscle power.
  3. Add all ingredients together one by one, except for oil. Initially add 1 spoon of yogurt at a time and add more as needed. But make sure you try to bring the dough together before you add more yogurt.dudhi thepla ingredients
  4. Lastly add oil and knead everything nicely. Oil adds more moisture so do keep it in mind.
  5. Make smaller balls, and roll them flat using a rolling pin.dudhi thepla in process
  6. Cook them on a flat tawa just like a paratha, using oil on both sides.
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