January 28, 2012

Baked Chicken and Pepper Saute

This is a simple appetizer, a little tangy, and spicy. But you pair it with a nice white wine, that's when the magic happens!

What you need: Serves 4-6 as appetizer
For the coating:
2 lb boneless chicken cut into 2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 Tbsp corn flour
1 egg or 2 Tbsp milk
Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp finely chopped green hot chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp pepper powder
1 tsp lime juice
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven at 400 degree F. Mix the flours, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish. Dip the chicken in another bowl of egg wash or milk. Next coat chicken evenly in flour mixture. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil, don't let it smoke, add onion and bell peppers to skillet; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes.Add in the chopped chilies, garlic, and cilantro.

After a minute, toss in the baked chicken. Add turmeric, pepper and salt, then, reduce heat to low; Saute the mixture until they are well blended. Top if off with a tsp of lime juice, and chopped cilantro for garnish, serve hot. Enjoy! 

Not Enough Blueberries pancake

The pancakes were sure yummy, but there were not enough blueberries in it. This reminds me of Robert Frost's poem, 'Blueberries' a long beautiful poem, a few lines I think I remember..

...Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
                         Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
                        And all ripe together, not some of them green
         And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen! --Robert Frost

Makes about 10-12 pancakes 
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp white sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamom
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt
1 cup milk
1 or 2 cups fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Cooking spray

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar, set aside.

In a fairly large bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, milk and oil. Gradually stir in the flour. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. When its smoking, we are ready to pour the batter. Spray the griddle with cooking spray.

Fold in the blueberies, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the greased griddle. Turn down the heat to medium. Turn it over when bubbles pop, cook until golden. 

Serve with more blueberries, butter or whipped cream and syrup. Enjoy!

January 25, 2012

Mini fruit tarts - Sunshine in Seattle!

Winters are not very pleasing. Living in Seattle, one can expect rain on any given day, but this year, the snow pushed us into a week of hibernation. The kids were getting restless at home, and the only resort to keep them occupied was doing something fun together. So my little sons and I made mini fruit tarts, with fresh berries and oranges. It sure brought sunshine on their faces.

What you need:
For the tart shells: Makes about 12 mini shells
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter chilled
6/8 Tbsp ice cold water
1 egg combined with 1 tsp of water to coat crust

For the custard filling:
1 cup of thick custard or ready pudding
1/2 cup of cream cheese
1 Tbsp confectioners sugar
A pinch of salt

For the topping:
Berries and fresh fruits of your choice
1/2 cup apricot preserve

Combine the flour, salt and sugar together. Mix well. Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes. You may knead the dough by hand on a cold surface like marble, or use a processor.

Add flour into the processor with the dough blade on. Give it a quick pulse. Add in the cut up butter pieces, Give it quick pulses until it resemble a crumbly mixture.

Add ice cold water, a little at a time until the dough is combined. Bring the dough together gently. Do not knead it too much. Wrap it in a plastic wrap and chill it for about 20-30 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a flat bread of about 1/4th inch, or the thickness you prefer. Place the tart molds below the rolled dough and cut them out. You may leave a little extra on the sides and press them down if you like a decorated edge, or just leave it as is.

Fill the empty tart shells with beans or lentils you have lying around. This is just to give structure to the shells. 

Bake them in a preheated oven at 375 degree F. It should turn golden brown in about 20-25 minutes. Take out the beans or dry filling. Let them cool completely. Store them in an air tight container until you are ready to use them.

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add in the ready custard or pudding and sugar, beat it until combined. Pour it into a piping bag.

In a little cup, whisk the apricot preserve with a few teaspoons of water. Brush the inside of the tart shells with a base coat of apricot glaze. This will help keep the filling from softening the pie shells. Let is stand for about 5 minutes. Now pipe a generous amount of filling on to each shell. Top it off with fruits and berries.

You may brush the fruits with the apricot glaze, if you are not using the dessert in a few hours. This will keep the fruits looking fresh and help them stay moist.

Chill them for an hour before they are served. Enjoy!

January 24, 2012

Fenugreek Egg toast

I can go on and on about Fenugreek, and all its numerous medical values,but I will let you do the research on wikipedia.

The any-time egg stir fry can be cooked for dinner, or topped over breads and toasted with cheese for breakfast. Wrap it into a flat bread or pita for lunch.

What I used:  (Serves 2 to 3)
4-6 large eggs
1 cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek leaves or 1/4 cup if they are dried
1 cup red onions, finely chopped
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 cup scallion/spring onions
1/2 tsp red chili powder/paprika
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Heat a wok or saucepan on medium-high, add the olive oil and immediately add the onions. Roast them for about a minute. Add in the fenugreek leaves, as it releases aroma, add in the tomatoes.  Saute for just a minute.

Crack 4 raw eggs into the cooking mixture. Scramble it and cook it for a few minutes. Add the powders and salt. Combine them well; keep tossing it until the eggs are a fine crumble. Serve warm.

The next morning, I used the fry on little sandwich buns, topped them with some Mexican cheese and ketchup. Toasted them until they were crunchy and golden brown. Enjoy!

Chinese chicken curry w/broccoli and carmelized onions

It's Chinese new year! I was wondering how the Chinese restaurants have chicken that is so soft and juicy? its all in the marinate!

What you need: Serves 2 to 3
2 or 3 chicken breasts cut into small pieces
2 cups of broccoli washed and broken into stems
1 large red onion chopped into long strips
1 tsp of finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp garlic chili sauce paste
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

For the chicken marinade:
2 heaped tsp cornflour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp rice wine

Add the chicken pieces along with the marinating ingredients in a bowl and massage it into the chicken. 

Let it stand for about 15 to 30 minutes. Now here is the trick, rinse the chicken in ice cold water, pat it dry and set aside.

Warm up a wok or skillet on medium high. Add in the oil and bring it to a shimmer. Add in the rinsed and dried chicken, and let it sizzle a bit. 

Saute on medium high for a few minutes. Toss in the garlic and red onions. Let the onions caramelize. 

Mix up all the sauces and pastes together in a little cup. Add this mixture into the chicken, and bring it to bubble. Turn the heat down to low.

Add in the broccoli stems and a cup of water. Continue to cook on low until the chicken has cooked through. Serve it hot with steamy cooked rice. Enjoy!

January 18, 2012

Chili Shrimp Spaghetti

What you need: Serves 4
Prep time: 20-25 minutes
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1 pound clean, deveined shrimp
1 cup red pepper juilienne
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp chili sauce

1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano and basil (dry or fresh, finely chopped)
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 cup grated cheese of your choice
Salt to taste

Cook the pasta as per directions on the box ( or bring a large pot of water to a boil, toss in pasta, sprinkle a tsp of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente.) Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the drained water.

While the pasta cooks, in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add half of the olive oil. 
When its warm but not really hot, add in the garlic and shrimp.

Sprinkle a little salt and pepper, so the shrimp doesent cook up bland. Once the shrimp is light pink, toss in the corn and peppers.

Cook on medium high for a minute.

Add the chili sauce, oregano and basil, tomato paste, pepper and salt, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta and toss. Pour the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Garnish with chopped scallions and the remaining olive oil. Serve warm with your choice of grated cheese. Enjoy!

January 17, 2012

Meatballs in garlic sauce and honey glaze

What you need: Serves 4 - 6
1/2 tsp red chili/cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp garlic  chili sauce
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely diced colored peppers
1/2 cup white wine
Salt, to taste

For the meatballs:
2 lb ground turkey or meat of your choice
1 cup brown bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the meatball ingredients, make lemon sized meatballs and bake in a 400 degree F for 20-25 minutes.

For the garlic sauce, use a saucepan. Add olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add in the garlic paste and peppers. 
Let it roast for just a few seconds. Toss in the chili garlic sauce, tomato paste, and white wine, after it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. 

Toss in the cooked meatballs. Add salt to chili powder. 

Let the mixture cook for about 5-7 minutes on low. Just before they are served, mix honey and a couple of tsp of warm water. 

Glaze the meatballs and serve warm with steamed rice. Enjoy!

January 16, 2012

Mini minced Meat pies

These little pies make for warm, delicious appetizers or dinners on cold,lifeless and snowy nights.

What you need: Makes one 9 inch pic or 6 to 8 mini pies
For the minced meat filling:
2 lb ground turkey/lamb/pork
2 cups red onion, diced
1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 cup peas

1 cup colored peppers, diced
1 tsp yogurt or sour cream
1/2 tsp red chili/cayenne pepper powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
1 egg mixed with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of water

For the pie crust:
Follow the recipe here

In a thick bottom saucepan, on medium-high flame, add the ground meat and fry until brown. About 3-5 minutes. 

Add in the onions and ginger garlic paste. Once the onions turn transparent. 
Create a pit in the middle of the saucepan, by pushing the meat to the sides, so the oil accumulates in the center.  Scoop out all that excess fat and dispose.

Add in the powders and fry for another minute to get rid of the raw smell of the powders.

Add in the peas, colored peppers, yogurt and salt. Fry again for another 5-7 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and let it cool down to a warm temperature. Set this pie filling aside.

Roll out the pie crust, and place them on the mini pie pans. Cut the edges. 

Fill them with minced meat. Cover another layer of pie crust. if you need to create a lattice pie, check lattice pie directions here.

Give it an egg wash with a brush, just a light coat. 

Put into a preheated oven at 375 degree F for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm, enjoy!

Lattice pie crust

I made this for a mini pie, you may do the same for a larger pie too.

Roll out the pie crust dough (Pie crust recipe here) to a flat bread about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. 

Cut them into even strips, the size you want.

Once the pie is filled with the bottom crust, and the filling, its time to do our lattice pattern.

Place dough strips over the filling parallel to each other.Exactly half way horizontal, fold every other one of the dough strips back.

Place a strip of dough next to the folded back strips, perpendicular to the rest of the strips.

Pull back or unfold the strips so that they lay over the new strip.  
Now, fold back the other strips (those that run underneath the newly placed strip).

Place down another strip in an intersection pattern and unfold the folded strips so that they lay over the newly place strip. 

Repeat, placing down a strip at a time and weaving as you go.

Once you get a hang of it, you will feel so excited you accomplished something great!

Trim off the excess at the edges and seal off into a decorative pattern.  Enjoy!

Flaky pie crust

What you need: Makes a double crusted 9 inch pie, or 6 mini pies
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter chilled
6/8 Tbsp ice cold water
1 egg combined with 1 tsp of water to coat crust

Combine the flour, salt and sugar together. Mix well. Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes. You may knead the dough by hand, or processor. I do it in a food processor.

Add flour into the processor with the dough blade on. Give it a quick pulse. Add in the cut up butter pieces, Give it quick pulses until it resemble a crumbly mixture.

Add water a little at a time until the dough is combined. Bring the dough together gently. Do not knead it too much. Wrap it in a plastic wrap and chill it for about 20-30 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a flat bread of about 1/2 t0 3/4th inch, or the thickness you prefer. Roll it on to the rolling pin, and place it over the pie pan. Cut out the edges leaving about 1/2 inch of dough to over hang. Put in the pie filling, and cover it with another layer of pie dough. Seal the top edges below the lower edge. pinch them at intervals to create a pattern.

Combine 1 whole egg with 1 tsp of water and a pinch of salt. Give it a whisk, and brush the top of the pie to give it a golden finish.

Bake according to instructions for the pie you are making, or for 30-35 minutes on a 375 to 400 degree F oven, or until the pie is golden brown. Enjoy!

January 10, 2012

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was a little skeptical about using whole wheat flour, but it turned out great. My kids dint know the difference, so the recipe is tested, tasted and approved! I am not going back to using bleached flour in these cookies again. My son invited himself over by the window where I was taking pictures, and helped himself to the cookies and milk. How in the world could a mother say no? So here he is, devouring warm cookies and milk :-)

What you need: Makes 55 medium round cookies
2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 and 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips/morsels
1/2 cup of walnuts if you like, I personally don't.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda three times, that way the salt and baking soda are uniformly distributed. Set aside.

Beat the sugars, butter and vanilla together until creamy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat the mixture on low until it is a uniform mixture. Slowly add in small portions of the sifted flour, and beat on low. Once the mixture is thoroughly mixed, add in the chocolate chips and combine it into the dough with a spatula.

Here's the thing, the mixture is usually dropped onto a baking sheet by a spoon, but I do it differently. I chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Dust a working surface with flour, roll it out and cut them with cookie cutters, just because I like them to all have the same size. Do it anyway you like.

Preheat the oven at 275 degree F. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges and light brown. the time varies, depending on how you like your cookies, soft or crunchy. I like them soft, so I take it out as soon as the edges turn light brown. If you like it crunchy, let it stay a minute longer.
Cool them completely on a cooling rack. You may store them stacked in an air tight box. It stays fresh in flavor for up to a week. Enjoy!