Friday, April 29, 2011

Mango Coconut Macaroon Tart... (Still can't seem to get enough of Mangoes!)



Things have been moving full throttle in the summer... after the baby got over a bout of cold and cough... it was the hub and the MIL that followed suit. The temperatures in Delhi are touching 40 C and all I can think about is sitting in my air-conditioned room and not stepping out. The only thing the heat is not stopping me from doing is eating... and I better watch the scales or I am going to have to buy a whole new wardrobe for my vacation!!!!

Besides the million things are craving my attention on the home front I have an aunt who passed away recently in a very untimely manner - but when I think of her - a very cheery face comes to my mind who was always smiling and ready to get into a kitchen and cook up a storm for her guests at a mo's notice - a very nice way to remember someone I must say and I wish I could always be remembered smiling but that is not one of my best traits - (*Note to self: Smile more often and spread happiness... it's very contagious)

Coming back to the tart, the heat, maid issues, baby adjusting to school have all been eating away on my time and earlier I managed to pack my baking at around 4-5am but by the time I hit the bed, I am asleep before my baby and manage to barely struggle out 7am. And, if I told you I had help to clean and swab and dust and put my utensils away some of you who do not live in India would be jealous but trust me I would not survive here without all the people helping me!

I wanted to bake something different (No chocolate) and got my hands on some desiccated coconut. You know I was obsessed with strawberries for a while but as the summer trudges along, mangoes are now, holding my interest! I wanted a nice nutty and nutritious tart base and had some ragi flour lying around (I had earlier used it while making biscotti and it had imparted a nice nutty, almost chocolaty flavor to my biscotti) - so in it went with a small amount of almonds and butter and that was my tart base. Now, all I needed to do was think of a filling and was very inspired by www.smittenkitchen.com!

Ingredients for the Tart:
1/4 cup almonds
1 cup ragi / millet flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
a little lesser than 1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C.  I just pulsed everything together in my mixer and cooled it a bit in a my fridge. Though, the pastry was still soft to roll out I almost had to roll it into the tart pan I was baking it into. It fit a 6" round tart tin.I blind baked it with beans. I rolled out the tart and put it in my tart tin. Forked it a bit. Put a parchment over it, added some lentils and beans (trick from Rachel Allen bake) and then baked it for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients for filling:
3 large egg whites
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 large mango cut into bite sized chunks
100grams desiccated coconut

Method:
Stir together egg whites, coconut and sugar. Now spoon the mixture into the tart tin and add chunks of mango to the tart so the fruit is visible. Bake for 20-25 minutes till the peaks are browned. The filling of the recipe is taken from a book called Super Natural Everyday - waiting to lay my hands on it and the pairing they have used is Blackberries and Coconut and some pistachios pressed into the filling in the end (fresh blackberries are almost impossible to lay your hands on in the summer in India). I thought Mango and Coconut were yumm too!

The tart was really yummy and the filling really moist and coconutty. The only problem I had with this tart was that that mangoes kept losing moisture as the day waned... so I would put some sort of preserves on top of the mangoes after the tart is baked to preserve them if you are serving this later... must say this tart didn't last past a few hours! The base was very very soft and biscutty and perfectly paired with the coconut and mango!

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This is also going to make the perfect entry to the Monthly Mingle - a great event started by Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey... I think I may have just made the deadline :)! This month's mingle is being hosted by Cook Sister - a very scary challenge for me since I had never ever baked a tart in my life!!! But alls well that ends well I say...



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mango Pancakes - it's raining Mangoes!



A Double Post... coz I am finally back - was feeling really lost without my laptop and have been waiting to blog for the last few days...

Summer is here and there is an abundance of fruit everywhere. India is known for it's yummilicious mangoes in the summer and you have over a 100 varieties available in the country. If I am obsessed about baking and cooking with strawberries my love for Mangoes cannot be left far behind. I have grown up on  staple diet of luscious orangey Alphonso Mangoes and just can't resist picking up some when I am at a fruit vendors. Previously, I did the following Mango posts Mango Cream Cake , Mango Shrikhand,  Mango Yogurt Mousse , Mango Panna , Mangoes & Cream Ice cream .

Now, I landed up with a batch of not so sweet mangoes and wanted to do something different with them... the morning was rainy, I had my cuppa coffee in my hand and was standing in the balcony (Delhi / Gurgaon has been having weird weather the past week), reminiscing about similar weather in Koh Samui a couple of years back and how I was stuffing my face with some Mango Pancakes. Now, I could really stuff a number of panckes into my mouth at that time 'coz I was a couple of months pregnant and that totally gave me the license to eat my heart out!

Anyways, coming back to the pancakes... I wanted to put together something easy in a jiffy with the ingredients I had on hand and was googling around for an easy recipe but didn't find any so put together mine after reading a ton of them!

Ingredients:

1 up all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk & a little more incase your batter lacks the consistency of regular pancakes
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 mango chopped into small bite sized pieces

I mixed all the ingredients, except the mangoes, for the pancake batter and let it sit on the counter for a couple about 30 minutes. As you can see from my pictures my mangoes pieces were chunks rather than bite sized and I added them to the batter when I poured it into my non-stick. The flavour was yummy! I sprinkled some powdered sugar on them and enjoyed them with a bit of honey but the rest of the family doused them with the eternal favorite Maple Syrup. I am guessing mango essence instead of vanilla essence can also be tried but they had a pretty nice mango-ey flavor to them!


I also wanted to submit this post for Healing Foods - Mango being hosted this month by the talented Reva from Kaarasaaram. Healing Food is the brain child of Cooking with Siri - a young working girl and part-time blogger! She has an amazing collection of recipes and better pictures to match so do hop on over to her blog to catch up on some great recipes.


I am so happy with the feedback that I have received for this recipe... that it has literally left me beaming! I am going to submit this post to the Breakfast Club. Krithi from http://krithiskitchen.blogspot.com
 has been kind enough to let me submit this post to the Breakfast Club #10 that she is guest hosting. It is originally hosted by  Helen from  Fuss Free Flavours, both really great blogs that I have discovered! I am so glad to be able to discover such great blogs with awesome recipes and pictures!

Melting in the mouth Mutton Kebab / Shammi Burgers from scratch...

I have been a non-vegetarian all my life except for a brief period of say 3-4 years when I tried to be completely vegetarian - but just didn't work. My hub and the child are hard core carnivores and are happy eating chicken a couple of times a week. I do cook fish and chicken in the house but I am not a fan of red meat and neither do we cook pork or beef in the house. But this kebab converted me completely.

Now, my MIL is over to spend some time with us and makes a mean mutton curry (more on that later...) but I thought it would be a treat to get her to make some Mutton Shammi Kebabs and turn them into Mutton burgers for dinner.

So, first we went about getting the Shammi recipe which is an age old and been in the family for a while and I got some pics of her cooking it too! So, you will have almost a step by step view of this dish and it is super easy!

It's basically a mix of meat and uses some lentils as a binder. An egg yolk here, some fresh bread crumbs added to the mix with tons of indian spices (garam masala) and we had our finger lickin' burgers ready. Ohh, since this was a night shoot the lighting is really bad so please pardon the pictures! We dressed the burgers up with a mayo-ketchup sauce, sauted onions and tomatoes and jalapenos - I know all of which seems hard to distinguish from the pics below!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Sorry y'all

I know I do the disappearing act all the time but this year as usual has been testing me...

Now, my laptops out like a dead lightbulb with all my pics n all and I am in the process of getting my act back together. Plus, the hub n the toddler are unwell... So hang in there and I shall be back soon.

Would love to see some comments...nearing my 100th post soon and would love to organize a special giveaway for all my readers!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sunny Side Up - Eggs n' Chips for the hungry baby!

They are some foods that bring back memories of childhood and are categorized as comfort food. They don't necessarily have to be butter and sugar laden but just foods that comfort you and make you happy. I remember my #1 comfort food is simple tur dal and chawal (Yellow Lentils with Rice) and then the list goes on...

Now, to be fair to my mom, she is a great cook but hates stepping into the kitchen or even cooking that much. But with dad it is another story... he lovers pottering around in the kitchen - throwing together anything that's there on hand and coming up with some brilliant food to eat... be it simple things like egg and vegetable fried rice, anything with chicken and these eggs. I don't know how they originated in our house but they are a great treat for my hubby and son who get to eat Chip (Wafers) N' Eggs all in one first thing in the morning!

Today was a holiday in India and to surprise the family I prepared some Eggs n Chips and well there isn't much to the recipe there is a technique which I will let you figure out yourself  - though they are some clues and that's why I put up the pics of the eggs in my pan!

And it's almost the weekend so hang in there...




Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate Yogurt Cupcakes







So, since I recovered from Typhoid all I can think of is food. I feel like eating all the time... almost non-stop! Sometimes you go through an event or a personal high or low or an illness that makes your body rhythms go funny and puts your body into a high stress zone - anyone been there? Body reacts to stress in different way - but mine goes into EAT mode.

I will get up to a cup of tea with toast, then have a bad have breakfast, then go for a 20 minute walk and get the munchies, then play with my toddler and want lunch. Phew! Sweets are on my mind before I've completed lunch and by the time I put my toddler to sleep it's tea time again... you get the drift...

So, I decided I would have to take stock of my life on my own and can't blame events in my life for eating. Now, with all the baking I do it is difficult to resist. And I love the smell of creaming butter and sugar for cakes but I decided to start baking healthy till I lose some of the weight I have been beginning to gain. Another commitment I have made to myself is to walk twice a day for at least 30 minutes and not get lazy about it - no short cuts to losing weight, I say.

I am going to bake only twice a week and cook healthier meals - I already do but I will eat the healthy meals and fried food will only be twice a week. I guess thats fair.. lets see how long it lasts.

So, I googled up some healthy recipes and I couldn't find the perfect recipe for the perfect Chocolate Cupcake recipe. Some didn't have whole wheat flour, some didn't have eggs, some didn't have yogurt and some didn't have fruit... so I thought to myself - lets just take the basics and make the rest along the way.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil (canola or olive)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 small jar Heinz pear baby food (thats the only pureed fruit I had lying around)
1/4 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg (optional)
1/3 cup small chocolate chips (on my son's insistence!)

Recipe:
Beat the oil and sugar together. Add egg and beat till fluffy. (I used a wooden spoon for all my mixing and definitely do not over mix.

Then add the yogurt and the pear puree and beat well for a couple of minutes or use your electric mixer.

Now to this add the dry ingredients - bit by bit (sifted mixture of the two flours and cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder).

In the end add the chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 177 F.

I must say they tasted great warm with a slight drizzle of low fat cream mixed with some cocoa powder and a spoonful of icing sugar! Cold - they were not that great - so maybe I will try it again without the whole wheat flour.

Also, I added a couple of M&M's to give you something to think about when you're baking for Easter... maybe you could use chocolate eggs?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mangoes & Cream Icecream!

The summer offers a bounty of fruits in the prettiest of colors and shapes. Grapes, Chikoos, Strawberries, Mangoes - it is a delight to eat them as is or use them in cooking and cool desserts.

The focus has shifted from strawberries to mangoes in my house and we are getting plenty of them in India! Yummy, Perry's and Alphonsos, Safedas and Hamams - all these different varieties of mangoes are treats for us :)!

Anyways, I had some mascarpone expiring and wanted to make some dessert with it - had experimented with some Strawberry Mascarpone Icecream last year and with the temperatures soaring I thought why not try and incorporates some mangoes and whipped cream and make my hubby's favorite icecream... so I did this 4 ingredient ice cream in a jiffy and came up with some yummilicous Mangos and Cream Icecream.

My son liked it a bit melted with sprinkles and my hubby liked it off the stick since it had enough mango chunks to keep him busy. Thought I would leave you with some pics and post the recipe later.



Saturday, April 2, 2011

Granola Bars - another healthy snack to make and store



The summer has set in and it is hot beyond belief already - what happened to the slight cool wind that was blowing last week???? The l'il one doesn't understand why the weather has turned so hostile and he has to stay in during the day? Also, the appetite has suddenly shrunk and all he wants to do is sip on liquids and munch on something light. He is isn't much of a fruit fan so have been thinking of various ways to get some fruit into his diet but making sure the snack / food is wholesome (using whole wheat, puffed rice and oats) and these is a "YUMMY" element to it otherwise, it doesn't get eaten! Made some fresh mangoes and cream lollies, strawberry and yogurt mousse but those posts are for another day!

My love affair with Granola started way back in 2000 when I went to study in the US. I put on the freshmen 15 (more like 25) in the first year and the latter years were always spent in combating this weight gain. I wasn't a drinker or a big fan of pizzas but when dinner was done and over with at 800pm and there were long hours of programming looking up at you, one needed some carbs to survive the night! In the day we would snack on high carb cafeteria food - either loaded potatoes, pasta, cheeze grilled, donuts and the works, also there was unlimited soda (Gosh, never in my life had I been allowed more than a glass), also the lovely sugary cereals (I could have lived on Lucky Charms) - you're getting the drift. Once I realized what hit me I had to start putting in the appropriate measures and putting the rights stops to make sure I went down from a size 8 and never reached that weight again!

Healthy wholesome food became my mantra - granola bars, whole wheat bread, pita with veggies and lean meats, no soda and a little help from Slim Fast too...  yes very desperate measures. But when I got myself a job and was living on my own my eating habits just improved and it was always home cooked meals for me and the weight started shedding on its own!

Anyway's, wayy off the topic I am - so I thought I would do some oat cookies since he had give up those a while back with some fruit (figs, dates, strawberries) and some nuts and chocolate chips??? But, then I didn't want to add flour to my recipe and neither did I want to spend an hour for making something in this heat ( = no beating butter, sugar, eggs, making dough, cooling dough, shaping dough). yet, I needed something he could carry down with him when he goes to the park in the day or place in his snack box when he starts school... and then it dawned to me why not make his some granola bars and cut them into bite size pieces for him?

I first raided my pantry to see what I had on hand? Then the internet to look up some recipes - Granola Bars need - Grains (Oats), Dried Fruit (Figs, Dates, cranberry), Nuts, Liquid to Bind (Oil, Honey, Butter, Egg) and you are good to put it all together! Phew, I thought I would just put it together with whatever I had and if the recipe turned out fine and got "APPROVED" then would do a re-run of it later. So, it turns out I had not dried fruits but read on to what I had and how it turned out...

So here goes

Ingredients:
2 cups quick cooking oats (recipes usually call for old- fashioned oats but I didn't have any)
1/2 cup roasted almonds coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted walnuts coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup strawberry jam
3/4 cup brown sugar

Recipe:
Roast the almonds and walnuts and coarsely chop in a mixie. Preheat the oven to 177F.

Put the oats, chopped almonds and walnuts together. Then added the chopped and dried fresh strawberries (you can use any dry food - I just had none on hand). Sprinkled the sugar on top and mixed it well.

I then added the oil - first 1/4cup and then another 1/4 cup and saw that it wasn't binding enough and it wasn't fruity enough. Now, most bars have honey, which is a taste I don't like. Also, golden syrup, glucose or maple syrup were options but then I wanted to heighten the taste of the strawberries so in went all the strawberry preserves I had and I just mixed it all together.

Yum, it tasted fine now and had just the right tang to it! I put it in a rectangle baking dish and then sprinkled the chocolate chips on top (the yummy factor to entice the toddler) and baked it at 177F for 25 degrees.

Cut it into rectangle and bite sized pieces for the toddler and enjoy. But, let me warn you, the mother may enjoy the healthy treat more than the child!
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