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Breakfast/ Continental/ Desserts/ Spring - Summer Special

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

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.

Appetizers/ Continental/ Entertaining

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

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

Continental/ Desserts/ Entertaining/ Italian

Tiramisu

Truly irresistible with Bold burst of Coffee flavor!

Tiramisu or tiramesù in Venetian dialect, literally means “pick me up” or idiomatically it means “make me happy”. And it does 🙂 I love coffee and this dessert takes my favorite flavor to a next level.

Tiramisu

Though it’s a quite recent addition, it’s now ubiquitous across Italy and worldwide. I first had Tiramisu at Royal Orchid Hotel in Mumbai and I fell in love with this masterpiece. As with the most things in Italy there is a great debate about the true origin of tiramisu. Some sources name its origin as Siena in Tuscany however the most credible claim comes from Treviso, in the Veneto near to Venice. Roberto Linguanotto from the Beccherierestaurant claims to have invented it at the end of the 60s and this is his recipe.

People have changed the recipe a lot over the years and the original included no cream or alcohol and hence there are so many versions available on Internet. And here is one more addition to it, adopted from multiple sources which claimed the ‘authentic tiramius’ title.

It’s a no bake dessert and contains raw eggs. The base is made with ladyfingers which is lightly sweet, porous, soft cake shaped like lady fingers and has nothing to do with Okra. (Okra in India is known as lady fingers). The lady fingers are dipped in coffee mixed with alcohol. Needless to mention, you should use the best coffee you have got. Instead of debating between Nescafe or Bru or any other brand I picked up a tall espresso cup from local Starbucks. Alcohol is optional and if you are using it there are two options – dark rum or marsala wine. I prefer Rum & Coffee combination. And then the cream part – it’s made with beaten egg whites and the mascarpone cheese – the cheese with highest fat content – it tastes like साय (say) if you know what I mean. All these ingredients work together to create this magic.tiramisu_1

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

I am sure it requires no introduction!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Make sure coffee is cold before you use it. Add 2 shots of rum to coffee. 
  2. Separate egg whites and yolks.
  3. Mix the egg yolks with 4 table spoons of sugar and whisk it until you get creamy light mixture.
  4. Fold in mascarpone in sugar-egg mixture making sure that there are no lumps.
  5. In a bigger bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until it forms firm peaks. Don't overbeat it.
  6. Now carefully fold in mascarpone-egg cream with egg whites to form the cream.
  7. In a wide dish, pour some coffee.ladyfingers & coffee
  8. Now take one ladyfinger and dip it in the coffee from both side. Don't leave it in the dish for too long or it will become too soggy.ladyfinger dipped in coffee
  9. You can arrange them in a wide rectangular glass dish or use individual serving bowl.
  10. Now create a thick layer of the cream on top.tiramisu_in_progress_1
  11. Build one more layer of ladyfingers dipped in coffee and cream on top.tramisu_in _progress
  12. Now, sprinkle some unsweetened cocoa powder on top to add one more flavor dimension.sprinkle_cocoa
  13. Finally, if you like some chocolate shavings go on top.final look - tiramisu
  14. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours before serving. tiramisu_2

By the way, be ready to clean such mess but it's worth it.
be_ready_to_clean_such_mess

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This is my official entry for Foodomania’s Christmas Cook-Off Contest. Happy Cooking!

Continental/ Desserts/ Entertaining/ Happy Moments

Coconut Macaroons

It was a cold winter day and we were driving pass Santa Cruz mountains. I was craving for cappuccino while S wanted an oven fresh pizza. Before I could realize he had parked in front of Domino’s. Since pizza doesn’t really fit into my ‘fat-friendly’ list, I started exploring other options. I saw this small bakery shop which looked very inviting. The smell of fresh bread was very tempting. While I was still deciding the owner brought out a tray full of coconut macaroons just out of oven. He dipped one macaroon in chocolate and insisted me to try.

That was the highlight of our trip! Warm, soft, sweet, chewy coconut macaroon with lightly crunchy base dipped in warm chocolate was a pure bliss! I packed some and promised myself to recreate this joy at home! Here it is, a very simple recipe and very few ingredients. Though it’s a sugar bomb, once in a while it’s worth the splurge 🙂

Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroon

Warm, soft, chewy, sweet coconut macaroons - puer bliss!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine sweetened condensed milk, sweetened coconut and vanilla extract in a big bowl. Mix well
  3. Whisk the egg whites, initially on medium speed changing it to high till it forms medium peaks.
  4. Fold in the egg whites into the milk-coconut mixture.
  5. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.
  6. Drop the mixture either using 1 3-4 inch ice cream scooper or using two spoons. 
  7. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until they turn golden brown.
  8. Done!

Confession – I baked them little too longer.

BTW, the name of the place is ‘companion bakeshop‘. It’s absolutely worth a stop if you are visiting Santa Cruz.

Sending it to Vardhini’s Bake Fest hosted by Anu’s Healthy Kitchen

Breakfast/ Continental/ Desserts/ Snacks

Banana Walnut Bread

Even though I think about calories, fat, saturated fat and of course, the price I end up buying banana walnut bread at Starbucks. The cakey delight is so hard to resist. Today I decided to try it myself at home using whole wheat flour instead of maida (all purpose flour) to make it a little healthier. My husband could not tell the difference 🙂


Banana Walnut Bread

Banana Walnut Bread

Easy to make banana walnut bread made with whole wheat flour, sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk butter with one large well beaten egg and vanilla essence. Add this mixture to dry ingredients. Add mashed bananas and mix it well to form batter. Add chopped walnuts and mix again.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan with cooking spay. You can also use parchment paper. Pour the batter into this loaf pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 375 F.
  3. Let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

Food For Thought

Walnuts are often referred to as “brain food”, not only because of brain-like appearance of their lobes but because of their high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids. They also promote bone health and play an important role in improving cardiovascular health. Banana is a good source of potassium and dietary fiber; provides cardiovascular protection and promotes kidney health.

So don’t feel guilty while enjoying this homemade dessert 🙂

Sending this for Bread Baking Day being hosted at Paulchen’s Food Blog with the theme of “Bread With Egg”.
Sending it to Vardhini’s Bake Fest hosted by Foodomania

And to Breakfast Club – More than Tea & Toast hosted by Utterly Scrummy.

Off to Radhika’s I love Baking


Continental/ Desserts/ Entertaining

Chocolate Brownies

Rich, Cakey, Chocolatey Goodness !!

I bet you are smiling already. 🙂

This is one thing I have found hard to resist. Even though they are easy to make at home, next time I would rather but them by the piece just to keep my weight loss goal on track. I found couple of recipes with slight variations in amount of chocolate, cocoa powder and eggs used. The one I used came from my colleague’s mom. She has been baking these brownies for last 50 years, how wonderful is that! I think i did a good justice to her recipe and made them more special by baking them on Valentine’s day.

Rich, Cakey, Chocolatey Goodness!

Rich, Cakey, Chocolatey Goodness!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F /180 C. Line the baking tray with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and the butter over simmering water. Set it aside.
Remove from the heat and stir in cocoa powder and sugar.
Next whisk in vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time; beating well after each egg addition. Finally fold in the flour and salt, making sure you don’t over mix the batter. Add in chocolate chips and walnuts. You will notice that the metled chocolate becomes hard to work with once eggs and flour are added, but that’s okay.

Transfer this mixture to the baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Pull out and let them cool for at least 40 minuts on a wire rack to get well defined pieces. Well, I dugged in immediately, nothing tastes better than warm chocolate brownie on a perfect rainy evening!

The Secret
The time you take out the brownies out of the oven is very crucial. A few minutes could turn rich moist brownies into hard ones. Test with a toothpick or a skewer inserted into the middle, it should come out sticky with a little batter and a moist clumps clinging to it. If it comes out clean, you have overbaked them.

Sending this to Rasi’s I am the Star

Off to Radhika’s I love Baking

Bake Fest hosted by Sumee and started by Vardhini

Srivalli’s Kids Delight hosted at UK-rasoi

Breakfast/ Continental/ Quick n Healthy/ Snacks

Spinach Pancakes

Hearty and Healthy twist to traditional pancakes

Imaging a light fluffy pancake topped with butter, maple syrup, whipped cream and fresh berries…. Yum! Pancakes are great for breakfast pleasures but they are not healthy! Today I decided to transform this classic American breakfast into a savory, healthy dish with Indian touch.

I used multi-grain flour instead of all purpose flour. I substituted sugar with salt and red chili powder, stirred in lots of  veggies like finely chopped spinach, cilantro, tomatoes and red onions with some coriander-cumin powder together with fennel seeds and ajwain seeds for an extra kick. The result? Outstandingly tasty and healthy pancakes – made from scratch!

Spinach Pancakes

Spinach Pancakes

Hearty and Healthy twist to traditional pancakes

Ingredients:

Method

You can buy multi grain flour in Indian stores or Whole Foods Market in bulk section. Whole wheat flour works too.

Finely chop spinach leaves, a tomato and about a half medium red onion.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk an egg in a separate bowl and add it to the dry ingredients. Next goes milk. Whisk until smooth batter forms. Then stir in all veggies. The batter should be spoonable but not pourable. Adjust the consistency by adding either spoonful of water or flour as needed.

Heat a skillet over medium-high flame, add little oil or use non-stick oil spray.

Place a ladle full of batter on the skillet and spread it into a pancake. Cook until the wet side of pancake bubbles. Flip and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes until brown.

 

These savory pancakes are packed with flavor, good amount of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A and fibre.

Sending this to Kiran‘s “Cooking with Whole Foods – Spinach” event hosted at cook’s joy.

HITS – Iron rich foods started by Sangee.

And to “Healthy Diet – Breakfast” by Priya’s Versatile Recipes hosted at Roshni’s Kitchen.

Breakfast/ Continental/ Snacks

Homemade Granola Bars

I had a bunch of plain oatmeal packets stacked in my pantry and I used to wonder there has to be a better way of having original/old fashioned oatmeal. I saw this recipe by Ina Garten on Food network and I was so happy to discover my new favorite snack – “Granola Bars”, healthy and delicious :) Here is a slight modified version of the original recipe –

 

Ingredients -
5-6 packets of old-fashioned instant oatmeal
1 cup sliced walnuts (or almonds if you like)
1 cup shredded coconut
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar (or brown sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried blueberries (or cranberries if you like)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You can use any flat surfaced baking dish and line it with a parchment paper. No need to butter it additionally.

Mix the oatmeal, walnuts, and coconut together on the baking dish and bake for 10 to 12 minutesuntil lightly browned. Stir it occasionally.

Place the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 1 to 2 hours before cutting into squares.

The yummy healthy granola bars are ready to eat!

Sending this to Breakfast Club – More than Tea & Toast hosted by Ruth’s Deliciously Dairy Free

And to “Healthy Diet – Breakfast” by Priya’s Versatile Recipes hosted at Roshni’s Kitchen.

Breakfast/ Continental/ Desserts/ Jams & Pickels/ Spring - Summer Special/ Superfoods

Blueberry Jam / Compote

I look at Jam as a way to preserve summer in a jar 😛 Every summer my mom used to make mango jam at home. She did the same thing with strawberries last summer and now I am following her tradition with yet another awesome superfood of this planet – blueberries.

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice

That’s it. Wash blueberries and let them dry completely. No need to chop blueberries, they are so tender they break down easily once heated.

In a sauce pan, mix blueberries and sugar and mix it well till the mixture comes to a boil. You can reduce it further but I like it to keep it at this consistency. This is also call ‘blueberry compote’ and can be used as blueberry spread for bread, syrup for pancakes or yogurt, combinations are endless!

Once the mixture cools down, add lemon juice and keep it in a glass jar in your refrigerator.

Blueberry Jam In Progress – Finally the reward with greek yogurt and blueberry smoothie!

Fresh Blueberries blueberryJam2
Blueberry Jam in progress Blueberry Jam in progress
blueberry Yogurt Blueberry Smoothie
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