November 28, 2012

Mini cranberry oreo cheesecakes!

These mini cakes are just the right size for guilt free dessert indulging over the holidays. It is by far the easiest, mess free, and fool proof mini desserts I have ever made.

What you need: Makes 24 cupcake sized cheese cakes and then some to lick  :-)

3-8oz packs of cream cheese
1-8oz sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
24 regular sized oreo cookies
24 cupcake paper liners
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cranberry sauce
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tsp butter
3 Tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You can prep the cream cheese mixture mess free in a food processor or a stand mixer. 

Cut the cream cheese into chunks and whisk it in the processor to get rid of lumps. Add in sugar and vanilla, and whisk again until well blended.

Add the eggs and whisk for another minute, scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times to get all the ingredients together.

In the end, add in the sour cream and process it for another 30 seconds. Taste to see the consistency, It must be a fine thick mixture.

Line the cupcake trays with paper liners. Add a cookie to the bottom of each cavity. Pour in the cream cheese mixture all the way leaving about 1/8th of an inch from the rim of the paper cup. 

Bake the mini cheesecakes for about 15-17 minutes, turning it around halfway. If the cheese has set, and the edges are turning creamy brown, but the center still wiggles, its is ready to be taken out. Let them cook completely on a cooling rack. Chill them for a couple of hours or overnight.

For the sauce:

 Add the cranberries in a saucepan along with water and let it cook on high for a few minutes. Cover it so it does not pop all over the place. 

Once the cranberries pop and the mixture is all soft and pulpy, add in teh butter and let it cook. If it too thick for your liking, add some more teaspoons of water. Cook it for a few more minutes until your get a shiny uniform sauce. 

Turn off the heat and let it cool down. Remove the paper linings and drizzle the sauce before they are served. Devour immediately, with your eyes closed!! Enjoy!

November 27, 2012

Cranberry sauce

What you need: Makes 3 cups
1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 orange, zested and juiced
pinch of salt

In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, and butter, saute for a minute until the butter melts. 

Add sugar and water. 

Stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. 

Reduce to a simmer and add the allspice and nutmeg. 

Stir to blend and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. 

I like all my cranberries to burst, but you can cook it for a few minutes less if you like them whole and pulpy. 

Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Turkey stuffing

What you need: Makes 6 cups
4 cups old bread, cubes
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup carrots cut
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 eggs
In a skillet over medium heat melt the butter, then saute the onion, carrot and celery until the onions is soft.

Throw in the bread cubes, dried thyme and sage. Saute for a minute. Add in the salt pepper and cayenne.

Remove from heat. Add them into a bowl and add the egg on it. Mix until combined.

Pour over it the chicken broth and combine.

Let cool and use as stuffing for the turkey.

You may also make this in a greased dish that is baked for 25 to 30 minutes until done.

November 26, 2012

Very berry jam

Here is a medley of strawberries and blueberries made into jam, yum!

What You Need: Makes about 7 to 8 cups
4 cups strawberries
4 cups blueberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
1 pouch Pectin - about 3 tsp
8-8oz jars and lids

Wash the jars with soapy water and rinse in warm water. 

In a large hollow container, boil water, and immerse all the jars and lids to simmer.

Wash and hull the strawberries, wash the blueberries. Pour them into a large sauce-pot.

Let it cook for about 5 to 7 minutes on medium high until them become soft and pulpy. Add the lemon juice and crush them down thoroughly. 

Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves and begins to a rolling boil. Boiling that will not stop when stirred. At this point, the fruit puree should be foaming. Add in the butter. This will bring down the foam. If you have any more foam left, skim it off with a ladle. 

Mix pectin into a little cup and pour in a few teaspoons of cold water to completely dissolve it. 

Pour it into the boiling jam and let it boil for a good minute.

Remove the warm glass jars from teh water bath and pour jam with the help of a funnel. Leave about 1/8th of an inch from the lid line. 

Cover all the jars with lids and tighten them. Clean them with a damp cloth and return them into a water bath. This time the water around the filled jars must be 2 to 3 inches. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove and store them in a  cool place. The lids will begin to pop, ensuring they are vacuum sealed. This process of lid popping will go on for about 24 hours. If they do not pop, they may need to be refrigerated to preserve freshness. Enjoy!

November 14, 2012

Besan laddoo - Chickpea flour and sugar balls

I have an aunt who makes these laddoos, and I mean makes them really really well. I had eaten them years ago, and the taste is unforgettable. These laddoos are dedicated to you Sathya aunty. I hope the recipe matches what you make.

What you need: Makes about 8 to 10 medium sized laddoos
1 cup besan flour (bengal gram flour/chick pea flour)
1 cup sugar, powdered
1/3 cup ghee
1/4 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder
Some coarsely ground almond flakes or pistachios.

You may make this on a stove top or in a microwave. I resorted to the latter.

In a glass or porcelain bowl, melt the ghee until its nice and hot.

One thing about the flour, try to see if you can get chick pea flour made specially for besan laddoo, that way the texture is just right. It needs to be a little course and grainy.

Pour in the chickpea flour and cook on high for about 3 to 4 minutes, making sure to give it a whisk every 60 seconds. The color of the flour should have turned from yellow to a light brown.

Once the flour is aromatic, pour in the powdered sugar. Whisk it and let it cool down to lukewarm. 

Gather a fistful and press down tight to form a ball. If the mixture is too dry, add in more ghee. You may add in powdered cardamom, saffron, ground almonds and pistachios.

Serve them right away or store them in air-tight containers, enjoy!

Badusha - Fried flour dumplings in syrup

Here is an Indian sweet that I absolutely love. It is a flaky round dumpling that is deep fried and then dumped into warm sugar and saffron syrup. It is practically fool proof to make. Just remember to not to knead the rested dough, and to fry them well on low to medium heat just to a golden brown, until they cook through.

What you need: Yields about 6 small badushas
1 cup maida/all purpose flour
1/4 cup regular yogurt/curds
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup warm melted butter
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
About 2 cups of oil to deep fry

For the sugar syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
A few saffron strands

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, salt and baking soda for a couple of minutes five minutes.

Add the flour and melted butter to it. Knead the mixture very gently to form a soft dough. Place it in a bowl; cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest in a warm place for about an hour.

After the dough has rested, do not knead at all. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 littl balls. Flatten them in your hand and make a depression in the middle. This keeps the dough from fluffing up when it is deep fried.

Heat the oil in a pan, when it begins to smoke, lower the temperature to a real low, let it stay that way for a minute, then toss in the flour dumplings. Deep fry them in low  flame or the inside will not get cooked.

Prep the sugar syrup by adding sugar, water and saffron in a bowl and boiling it until it reaches a single string consistency. Turn off the heat and let it cool down to a warm temperature. 

Put the fried dumplings into the sugar syrup. Let them get soaked for about 7 to 10 minutes. They should be crisp to touch and yet soaked just enough. Remove and serve warm, or cold as desired. Enjoy!

November 5, 2012

Grilled cumin chicken caesar salad

Here is a twist on the classic ceaser salad with cumin chicken, the result - a mouthwatering crunchy salad that you cant get enough of.

What you need: serves 4 to 6
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp ginger and garlic paste
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 large romaine lettuce leaves
a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of red pepper julienne
1 cup ready croutons or 2 loaves of thick Italian bread

For the dressing:
1 clove of garlic peeled and crushed
1 tsp anchovy paste
4 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese


Marinate the chicken breasts with lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and 4 tsp of olive oil. Set aside for about 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cut the bread into cubes, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt on it. Place on a tray and bake it for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning it a few times to a golden brown.

Heat a grill pan, grease and grill the marinated chicken about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. Cut them into bite sized cubes. Set aside.

Combine the mayonnaise, crushed garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire, black pepper, remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Whisk it well to make dressing that resembles a yogurt texture. Add the grated cheese and give it a quick whisk.

In a bowl, tear up the lettuce, add in the peppers, tomatoes and chicken. Toss in the croutons, and drizzle the dressing. Serve right away, enjoy!