March 26, 2012

Shrimp and spinach in Schezuan Sauce

A good friend of mine, Sowmya made this yummy dish. She is an awesome cook! No guest ever turns down a dinner invitation from her. So Sowmya, I share your recipe to the  world!

Cantonese Shrimp fried rice

Here is my improvised version of the Asian fried rice. It is a quick way to whip up a seafood delicacy along with some crunchy colorful vegetables.

What you need: Serves 4-5
2 cups of shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 clove garlic finely chopped or minced
1 cup onions chopped lengthwise
3 cups cooked, cold rice
1 cup broccoli stems broken into 1 inch pieces
1 cup carrots cut into rings
1 cup red peppers cut into match sticks
1 Tbsp sesame or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp paprika or 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

For the marinade:
1 tsp lime juice, salt and pepper to taste
Marinate the cleaned and deveined shrimp in lime juice, salt and pepper. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes.

On medium high, heat oil in a wok; when it begins to smoke, add in the onions and garlic, saute for a minute. Add the shrimp into it, and let it cook till it turns pink. About 3 to 5 minutes.

Add in the broccoli, carrots and peppers. Pour the soy sauce, paprika,and sprinkle salt and pepper. Saute for a minute on high and then lower it back to medium high. Add vinegar and then toss the cold rice into it. Stir the mixture evenly until it is heated through.

You may add about 1 tsp of sesame oil in the end and toss it into the rice before it is served. This brings a unique flavor and aroma to the rice. Enjoy!

March 21, 2012

How about some Gluten free cupcakes?

A gluten free diet essentially means recipes made with the exclusion of wheat, barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is a diet medical practitioners advise to people with wheat or gluten intolerance.

So, I went ahead and tried these cupcakes with plain rice flour. They were exceptionally white! They also baked faster than the traditional wheat cakes, and were fluffy and soft.Here goes the recipe.

What you need: Makes 12 medium sized cupcakes
1 and 1/2 cup plain rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp gluten free vanilla

Sift the baking powder, salt and rice flour together, set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.
Grease and dust the cupcake pans with butter and rice flour.

In a bowl whisk the eggs, vanilla, sugar and oil together until the eggs double in quantity, and are light and fluffy. On low speed, add in the flour in little amounts. Once combined, beat on low speed for about 2 minutes.

Fill the prepared cupcake pans with batter, about 2/3rd full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Serve warm or with frosting of your choice. Enjoy!

March 15, 2012

Moist Coconut Orange cake

What you need: Makes one 8 
inch cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup coconut milk

For the Orange glaze:
3 Tbsp confectioner sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup or more coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and dust an 8 inch round cake pan with flour. Sift salt, flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Pour in the flour slowly and beat on low speed until combined.

Add in the orange juice and zest. Give it one quick whisk. Finally add in the  coconut milk and stir together to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

To make the orange glaze, combine the orange juice and confectioners' sugar. Mix thoroughly to get rid of lumps.

Pour it over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the dessicated coconut. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

March 12, 2012

Creamy chicken and vegetable fusilli

What you need: Serves 4
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 bouillon cubes
1/2 lb fusilli pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh carrots cut into rings
1 cup onions cut lengthwise
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tsp butter
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the chicken breasts and bouillon cubes in a large pot and cover with 6-8 cups of water. When it begins to boil, lower it to a simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken is tender. 

Remove chicken, let sit until cool enough to handle, then shred them into bite sized pieces by hand or by cutting them. Strain the broth and save 1/2 cup.

Cook and drain the fusilli according to the instructions on the box.

Get a saucepan on medium heat. Add a tsp of butter and garlic together, when the butter melts and foams up, add in the Italian herbs at the 1/2 cup reserved chicken. 

Add a cup half and half, and salt and pepper. Combine, then slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Let simmer on low, whisking occasionally.

In another saucepan melt a tsp of butter over medium high. Throw in the onions, saute for a minute, then the peas, carrots and shredded chicken, saute the mixture for about 5-6 minutes.

Add in the pasta and create a bed over the vegetable and chicken mixture. Turn heat down to low and pour the cream sauce over it. Toss them all to combine. Serve hot, Enjoy!

March 8, 2012

Sweet Raisin Bread

My inspiration to make this sweet bread today is the aroma of home made bread back in India. In my home town, Bangalore - Iyengar bakeries are known for their fresh breads. Oh my god, I can never forget that taste. Even now, every evening, if you smell fresh baked bread as you wait in the traffic on two wheelers, look around, there will surely be a bakery flooded with people like bees to honey. It does not surprise me that every fourth person in India has diabetes! Blame the bakeries! 

This is a soft bread that will your house the same way, with the sweet aroma of raisins and fresh bread. 

What you need: Makes one 4x9 inch bread
1 cup raisins
2 tsp yeast
2 cups hot water
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Soak raisins in a cup of hot water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in hot water, let it cool for 2 minutes, add in yeast. Stir well and let is sit for about 10 minutes until it foams.

Mix salt and oil into this mixture. Use a food processor, stand mixer or a regular hand mixer with dough blade attachment. 

Add flour into the yeast mixture little by little . Once all the flour is added in, let it knead for about a minute until smooth. 

Grease your hands with oil. Knead this dough with your hands on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Grease a fairly large bowl, place the dough in it. 

Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until it doubles in quantity, about 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how warm your kitchen is.

Deflate it and knead for a few minutes. Drain the raisins, and add them in. Shape it out into a bread loaf, and place it in a greased and dusted bread pan. 

Allow the dough to rise again for another 30 minutes or so, until dough has risen to the brim of the pan or higher.You may coat the top of the dough with some melted butter. 

Bake it at 350 degrees F for 30 - 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

March 7, 2012

Okra and Paneer in Coconut curry

Are you delirious today? I think so too. I could never see them going into a dish together. But I thought of giving it a try; it was interesting...and well, my critics ate without complaining, so I am all smiles :-)

What you need: Serves 4
2 cups Paneer/Indian cheese, cut into cubes
2 cups fresh okra washed, dried and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp red chili powder/paprika (add less or more as needed)
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cilantro seed powder
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 large onion sliced finely
2 medium tomatoes chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
3-4 tsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
½ tsp mustard seeds and curry leaves for tempering

In a thick bottom skillet, on medium heat, add 1 tsp oil. When it begins to smoke, add the diced okra and roast till they are patchy brown. Set aside on a plate.In the same pan, add another teaspoon of oil. Pour in the paneer cubes and let them brown a bit. Set aside.

Back in the same pan on medium heat, add 2 tsp oil. When it begins to shimmer, toss the mustard and curry leaves; add ginger garlic paste and tomato, and cook until it is all soft. Add all the powders and coconut milk. Let it simmer on low till the oil separates.

Now add the roasted okra, raw onions, and brown sugar. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Don’t over stir the curry as the okra may break and make the curry gooey. Toss in the paneer cubes. Just a few more minutes. Serve hot!

Tip: If you want a runny curry for rice, add in extra coconut milk. This curry serves as a thick curry side dish for pilaf, or can be eaten with flat bread/chapathi/rice.

March 2, 2012

Bell pepper Chicken Fried rice

Fried rice tastes great, but combining brown and white rice tastes better! It gives fried rice a unique texture and flavor. Not to mention, it is healthier too!

What you need: Serves 4
2 cups cooked, cold jasmine rice or long grain white rice
2 cups cooked, cold brown rice
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 fresh Thai green chili  peppers, finely chopped or crushed
2 lb boneless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup onions (julienne)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups red and green bell pepper (julienne)
1 cup scallions/green onions finely chopped

Get all your vegetables chopped and ready. We will be working quickly, and on high heat.

Add oil in a deep skillet or wok,and turn on the heat to high.

When the oil begins to smoke, add the crushed garlic and finely chopped Thai peppers. Give it a quick whisk and add in the chicken. Stir constantly for a minute, watching not to burn.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir for just another few minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the onions and peas; let it cook for a minute.

Pour in the cold brown and white rice. Stir quickly for another few minutes until the chicken and sauces are blended with rice.

Toss in red bell peppers and keep stirring for one last minute. Turn off the heat, and garnish it with scallions. Serve hot, Enjoy!