Thursday, October 9, 2014

Microwave Almond/Kaju Katli

This is a YES YOU CAN! recipe even for those who have never attempted Indian sweets before and want to present this dish looking like experts!

I converted the pan recipe into a microwave recipe and loved the results.
(No challenging pan to wash up and HD was relieved.)



I always thought badam and kaju katli was something one could only get at a mithai shop and have loved this non-dairy sweet forever.  My grandkids inherited my love for almond/kaju katli.  Our mithai wallah put his ingredients on his box and when I saw cornstarch and other stuff I went in search of the original recipe.  After combining 3 recipes, 5 tries and lots of happy tasting on my part, I am so happy to share the results with everybody here for this unbelievably quick and easy sweet that tastes so.o.o incredibly good.

TIPS

Almond is bland so I add half kaju (cashew nuts), half almonds to the recipe for a taste that suits us.
You can add rose water, almond essence, vanilla essence, cardamom or saffron to the recipe.

PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE PROPORTIONS THE FIRST TIME YOU TRY THIS.  Every time I changed proportions the consistency did not come out as expected.

INGREDIENTS

(Makes 20 pieces depending on how thick you pour and cut them. I pour it 1 mm thick.)

1 cup almonds (or half cup almonds and half cup cashewnuts).
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. ghee
1/2 tsp powdered caradmom
3/4 Tbsp water.

Place almonds in microwave safe bowl with enough water to cover them and heat for 4 mins.
Cool and then blanch/remove skin.
Place almonds on a plate and let them dry out a bit.  (I let them sit overnight or put them in front of a fan, if I'm in a hurry).
Powder almonds and cashews in a blender.  ( I grind it a little coarse as I like the mouth feel of the nuts).
Powder sugar for a couple of minutes if it is the fine sugar we get in the USA or a little more if it is the granulated sugar in India.
Add almond powder, melted ghee and water and pulse so it is well mixed.

Put everything in a microwave safe bowl.
On medium cook for 2 mins.
Remove and stir.
If it is smooth place back in mic for two mins, ONE minute at a time.
(Be patient here for good results).
If there is ANY sign of it browning or hardening then mix and pour on plate.

I add cardamom powder at the stage and mix.
(If you are adding saffron, dissolve it in the water first).
Pour on a lightly greased plate, leave to cool for half hour, score into diamond shapes.
Leave to cool for an hour or more.
Remove and enjoy!  Store if any pieces remain.





Tuesday, August 26, 2014






‘Bread Baskets’ for August 2014 Finger Food Recipe Challenge

As we always have a mix of vegetarians and and non-vegetarians over for any get together, I made this recipe to suit both groups making potatoes for the former and chicken for the latter as fillings.
This is a two part recipe:  filling and baskets.

Ingredients for filling:

4 red or white potatoes
1 piece chicken breast meat, 2 pieces thigh/leg meat (I used boneless)
1 tsp garam masala
4 Tbsps olive oil
1-2 large onions
4 Tbsps olive oil.
2 Tbsps ketchup
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp grated/finely chopped garlic
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander.
1 tsp jeera powder.
Pinch of haldi (for each)
Salt and chilli powder to taste

Procedure:            

1.  Boil potatoes ( I used medium sized red ones). Cut into small cubes.
2.  Cook chicken with salt and 1 tsp garam masala till done ( I get a whole roasted chicken sometimes and chop/shred the meat into small pieces.)
Heat 4 Tbsps olive oil (any oil will do) in a pan.
Fry 1-2 large onions chopped medium fine to golden brown. ( total should be 2 cup fulls)
Remove ¾ of fried onions to a bowl.
Add ketchup, ginger and garlic, chilli powder and pepper to taste, fresh coriander/haridhania. (chopped green chillies  for potatoes are optional)
Fry till all liquid is absorbed and masala looks like medium thick chutney.
Divide masala into two pans.
Put potatoes in one, chicken in the other.
Add 1 Tsp jeera powder to chicken only.
Mash half of the potato slightly with back of spoon as it is frying.
Make sure chicken is tender enough so that when mixed pieces are almost like shredded chicken.
Fry both till all remaining liquid is absorbed...this has to be dry so it won’t seep through container!
Add salt to taste (remember chicken was cooked with salt).
Squeeze 1  tsp. lime juice over potatoes.
Mix onions that were set aside to both dishes.
Taste.  
Cool completely.

For the bread baskets:

24 slices brown bread (You can use different types of bread if you want. for variety….
I used multigrain for this recipe.)
½ a stick of butter.
Muffin pans...I used both large and small.

I make the bread baskets while the potatoes and chicken are cooking.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Take slices of bread and roll them out with a rolling pin.
(mine rolled out to 1 mm with one roll using slight pressure)
Cut with a three inch cookie cutter/ or katori.
Brush both sides with butter melted in the microwave for 20 seconds.
(I smeared it with my fingertips as it spread better.)
Place in muffin pans pressing down lightly to form baskets and bake at 350 for 10 mins.
Make sure they don’t burn.
Rim will turn brown though sides don’t change color much with brown bread.
Remove and cool.  (Even though they seem soft when you take them out they harden as they cool...I kept mine four hours to get the desired stiffness.)
Store in plastic bag or airtight container if making a day ahead.
Re-heat in toaster oven if you want to before you fill and serve.
Just before serving fill with chicken or potatoes.
For those who eat meat, fill with half chicken and half potato for a delicious combination.

TIPS

I made both small and large baskets in small and large muffin pans to see the outcome.
My cutter for the small ones was a 2” ‘masala dabba’ container. Using a smaller one will help fit it easier into the small muffin pan...I had to do a fold in three places to fit it in.
My cutter for the large one was a 3” ‘katori’/stainless steel bowl and it fit perfectly into the large muffin pan.
The larger ones were easier to fill and made two mouthfuls, the small ones needed a little more time and care to fill.
Other tasty filling ideas: fried mince/keema with masala of your choice, cold potato salad/chicken salad, any left over vegetables or meat dishes that are dry.
The bread gives a sweetness and the filling a spiciness that go well together.
Bread baskets get firm after four hours so do plan ahead when making this.
Easy to pick up and eat as a ‘finger food’.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 star FISH & CHIPS 2014



Fish and Chips are a favorite British ‘fast food’.
They are delicious wrapped in newsprint (believed to give them a special flavor), very filling and one of our favorite meals when we travel in England.
One visit we visited four to five 'chippies' till we found our favorite right where we were staying!
The favorite, traditional accompaniment is ‘mushy peas’ but I omit this.
Over there when I order fish and chips I get Cod...here I favor Tilapia first for this dish.  Swai Basa too does a good job so it comes in second.  
The fish has to be a firm, white fish.
Originally beef fat and lard were used but now veggie oils are used for frying.
Thick round chips absorb less oil so that’s what I make.

Compared to other take-away foods Fish and chips have: 9.42 grams of fat per 100 grams. The average pizza has 11, Big Mac meal with medium fries has 12.1, Whopper meal with medium fries has 14.5, chicken korma 15.5 and doner kebab 16.2.

Fish and chips have 595 calories in the average portion - an average pizza has 871, Big Mac meal with medium fries has 888, Whopper meal with medium fries has 892, chicken korma 910 and doner kebab 924.

Statistics courtesy of Seafish UK.”

To make it into my 5 star collection of recipes I had to work on this recipe over the years till it suited our family’s tastes.

My recipe is a combination of three tried and tested ones by international chefs:  Alton Brown, Jamie Oliver and Tyler.
I have to improve it with  Indian flavor to it so there are additions to their recipes.

Ingredients

3-4 large Russet potatoes ( potatoes should be the floury kind not waxy)
Kosher salt (rock salt)

1 ½ lbs fish fillets cut into strips (or I quarter each fillet.)
2 cups flour (I use all purpose)
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Haldi, chilli powder.
Dark beer/club soda.
Dash of Old Bay seasoning.
2-3 tbsps cornstarch/rice flour for dredging fish.   

Safflower/sunflower oil for frying.
(some oils leave the fish and potatoes limp and you will have to re-fry.)

In blender/food processor mix flour, egg, beer/soda, salt (half the amount you would normally add), pepper, chilli powder, Old Bay, to a very smooth dipping batter consistency thick enough to coat fish but not as thick as pancake batter.

Refrigerate batter for 15 mins to one hr.

Cut potatoes into thick circles or thick finger chips (I prefer the latter but made the round ones for this 'take').
Soak in water for 10 mins.  Drain well.

Rinse fillets, drain well.
Rub with 1 level  tsp haldi, 11/2 tsp salt and 1-2 tsps chilli powder.
(Rubbing with haldi/turmeric eliminates odor and the chilli powder and salt impart flavor)

Heat oil to 325 (medium hot)

Fry  potato chips till half done.  Remove and drain.
(English chef Jamie Oliver suggests boiling them till done but NOT overdone instead and draining them.  I haven’t tried this but will next time.)


Heat oil to 350 (hot but not smoking) in a kadai or skillet.
A good test as always is to put in a drop of batter and see if it comes to the surface of the oil right away.
(This is deep fried so oil must be at least one inch or more.  Make sure it will not bubble over sides when fish/chips are added)
Roll fillets in cornflour or rice flour.  ( I omit this step)
Dip in batter.
Deep fry in small batches till deep golden brown.

Drain.

Re-fry potato chips/fingers in this oil till the same color as the fish.
Sprinkle with kosher salt while hot.

Serve hot with malt vinegar or catsup (ketchup mixed with vinegar).

I love the way the batter is not soggy/oily, when done properly and the fish is perfectly cooked.

TIPS

If your fish seems to go limp while you do the potatoes, either put them in the oven to crisp them up (I use the toaster oven and it comes out great) or re-fry them.

Left over batter?
No problem.

Coat onion slices or shrimp and deep fry...gives the fish and chips a new twist.


To make your mushy peas, put the butter in a pan with the peas and the chopped mint. Put a lid on top and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. You can either mush the peas up in a food processor, or you can mash them by hand until they are stodgy, thick and perfect for dipping your fish into. Keep them warm while you cook your fish and chips.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Watermelon Picker Upper







Watermelon Picker Upper (For Thirst Quenchers Recipe Challenge).

My road to this recipe:
40 years ago when I was eight months pregnant and feeling tired a friend came over with a huge watermelon.  She cut it, crushed it and coaxed me to have a glass of the juice.  In half an hour I started feeling great.  Since then this juice has become a summer favorite and over the years I’ve added ginger and lime juice to the watermelon juice. Later the lime juice became a combination of lime and lemon juice as that combo enhances the taste.

So here’s the simple recipe: 
For 2 gallons juice:
Peel and blend a 3” piece of ginger with ½ cup water.  Strain.
(The ginger in the USA is BIG so I got an 8 oz glass of juice).
Squeeze the juice of two lemons and two limes.  Strain.
Cut and cube watermelon, collecting all the juice as you do this ‘juicy’ job.  (I use  watermelon with seeds just to make my life more difficult and because I believe it's sweeter).
Blend well in batches:  2 cups watermelon cubes with 1 cup cold water (watermelon has such a high water content it satisfies the 75% H2O requirement for this challenge).
Strain (just to make sure no seeds remain).  

Assembly:
In large bowl/pitcher:  For every 8 oz. glass of watermelon juice add one tsp. of lime/lemon juice, one tsp. of ginger juice, sugar if required. 
Stir taste and add more ginger or lime/lemon juice if required (which is why I made a glass each of these ingredients).
Add the natural watermelon juice you collected while prepping it (if you haven’t drunk it already!)
Add a pinch of salt per each 8 oz glass OR place 2 Tbsps lime juice in a bowl and some salt in a plate.  Dip rim of serving glass in lime juice then in salt before filling (as for margaritas).
If juice is for a crowd, pour half of your juice into a serving pitcher/jug, and freeze it.
If its for a small group fill glasses 1/3 of the way and freeze.
Chill the rest of the juice at least three hours and fill pitcher/glasses with well chilled juice before serving.
This gives everyone  a very cold drink without weakening the flavor of the juice by adding ice. 
(It was 95 degrees F here when I made this, so the challenge was to find ways to serve it really cold).
If there’s no place in the refrigerator for such a large jug or a tray of glasses, freeze half the juice in ice cube trays and then add the cubes to the pitcher before serving.
If the juice stands for a while there is separation of sediment and water so stir from time to time.
Serve with a sprig of mint or a slice of lime or lemon or just ‘as is’.

Optional additions instead of water:  plain soda, flavored water, apple cider.
(I like it with plain water and no sugar.)

Health benefits:  
Addition of ginger and lime/lemon juice helps with heat related symptoms of dizziness, nausea, sun stroke etc.
Additional health benefits of watermelon:  natural coolant, re-hydrating and anti-inflammatory agent ( prevents inflammation that leads to arthritis, asthma, colon cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes), and it's an anti-oxidant (has lycopene).

NOTE:  If you’re a diabetic (like I am now) please test 2 hours after having the juice to check your sugar level.  This helps define the amount of the juice you can drink.
(I feel energized and full for a long time after this juice, which is a double blessing for a diabetic.)

Enjoy!


The story of the watermelon mask can be found here:

Tempted by a 'thirst quenchers' contest i started looking for a unique way to present my ordinary watermelon juice and came up with an idea for doing it in the watermelon itself and finding a way to attach a faucet to it.

Imagine my disappointment when I found it has been done before...just when I started thinking I was brilliant!
(story of my life!)
Here's the best explanation for those who want to do it because though I bought the faucet and the tub after reading the possibility of chemical reactions with the juice, I decided not to go ahead with it.
Please read all comments on this site and make sure you are using safe products for this:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Tap-a-Watermelon-or-How-to-Make-a-Watermelon-Keg/

Second brilliant idea:  carve the front of the watermelon as I had seen other watermelon carvings on cruises to make it exceptional.
That went by the wayside too as though I found a great tiger stencil and the juice was supposed to pour out of the mouth (and it would have been great), when I started tracing the tiger I found my 64 year old hand could not carry out the ideas in my still young brain.  I could not hold my hand steady long enough and when I did it started cramping with strain.

Ideas for carvings:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/rebeccae/75-awesome-watermelon-carvings

When things get tough the tough go shopping!

I returned with a pitcher that would hold the juice and called it a day.  The next morning ( a time when my head is clearest) drew a face on a mask and did the 'make-up', carved out the area under the mouth for the faucet.  Lady Luck finally approved of this idea and allowed the mask to stand up in front of the pitcher with no additional work!
"Act Your Age," I heard her whisper sternly.  "No scratch that.  THINK your age!"

Wisely spreading a plastic sheet on a table in the garage I prepped my watermelon there and then moved everything into the kitchen for the final stages which were also messy and sticky and had the ants coming to the party before the guests!

Finally exhausted I retired to recuperate with guess what?  A huge glass of watermelon juice of course!

I hope you enjoyed the story and that you'll remember to drink watermelon juice all summer.

Additional Facts:

Watermelon is not a fruit.  It's belongs to the squash family and some people call it a veggie while others insist it is a berry.
It is grown in 96 countries around the world.
In China and Japan you are a great guest if you bring a watermelon.
The seeds and the rind are also edible (the former is a good thing as I was worrying about one or two getting blended with the fruit.)






Friday, July 4, 2014

LITE CHERRY TRIFLE



Shortcut Lite Cherry Trifle

No cherries?  No fear!
Comes out great with strawberries, mangoes and pineapple.
As mangoes have so much pulp/juice, squeeze one mango and use over cake.  Omit cooking custard for this unless you want an additional layer of richness.

Over the years my trifle has been adapted for those who don't eat eggs even in desserts.  Using non-dairy whipped cream has made it lighter for those who avoid artery clogging foods.

I usually make this version of trifle with strawberries but this year cherries have flooded the market and are so sweet I wanted to do something special with them.

As I researched recipes on the Internet I found a cake idea I liked here:  http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/01/cherry-cake-pudding/

Startled by the similarity of this recipe to my original one (great minds think alike), I started building on her idea and assembled my own version.  Meditating on this recipe brought to mind this favorite combo:
Cherries+chocolate+almonds.

1 cup fresh dark cherries, split and pitted (Done while watching TV with towel over my lap as the juice stains.  I personally don't care for canned fruit.)
1 Tbsp cornflour
1-2 tsps lemon juice
1 box chocolate cake mix. (I used a mix as a shortcut.)
1/2 cup almond paste (I got this in a can, SOLO brand in a regular grocery store and was surprised at the good quality of the product.  If you can't get this grind blanched almonds with a little sugar/Splenda to taste).
Almond essence.
6 pkts Splenda/sugar substitue
Non dairy whipped cream/fresh whipped cream.

1. Compote.

Add two cups water to cherries and simmer with Splenda till soft but not mushy.
Strain cherries, return liquid to stove with 1-2 Tbsps cherries.
Dilute cornflour in 1/2 cup water...make sure it is very smooth.
Add to simmering liquid and stir till thickens (1-2 mins).
This should not get too thick; consistency should be like pancake/dosa batter.
If it gets too thick, add some more water.
Add two drops almond essence.
Add lemon juice, stir and set aside.
This is not a thick jam/jelly compote.

2.  Cake

Heat oven to 350 (according to instructions on cake box).
Prepare cake mix.  (I added 3 Tbsps THICK yogurt instead of eggs.)
After batter is ready I added cherries and stirred, making sure cake batter has the right consistency.  (It should as the cherries have some liquid.  If it doesn't have the right consistency, add a little water but don't overdo.)
Pour into greased, floured pan and bake as directed.
Test doneness before removing.  Cool.
(Baking this in a foil pan or glass dish will make it easier to assemble and serve in the same dish.  I made individual servings for Bridge.)

3.  Assembly

Spread almond paste on cake.
Pour compote over it.
Just before serving, add whipped cream. (I've added a little but that's a personal preference.)
Can be served at room temperature or cold.

Tastes good with vanilla ice-cream too.

Optional:  you could add a tablespoon of brandy over the cake if you like the flavor.

My Bridge guests couldn't believe this was a 'lite/diabetic and cholesterol friendly' dessert (depending on how much you eat of course).  As one friend said, "This is SUPER!"

For Strawberry Trifle:  To compote add all strawberries and half a cup strawberry jam (while cooking) and vanilla essence.
Assemble:  Plain cake/compote/whipped cream.

Monday, May 5, 2014

SHRIMP AND ENOKI MUSHROOMS




Shrimp and Enoki Mushroom Stir Fry.

Sometimes an ingredient inspires a recipe.  That's how it is was with the enoki mushrooms.  When I saw the packet at the Korean Super Supermarket I wanted to have stir fry.  These tiny mushroom are delicious.
(Enoki mushrooms are also available in Chinese supermarkets).
I'm always adjusting recipes to meet our health needs.  This turned out perfect.
It's  a simple recipe and fits diabetic needs.
It was even easier as I had all the other ingredients washed, chopped and in my freezer so lunch was ready quickly.

I pkt enoki mushrooms.  (Cut off one inch from the bottom and rinse.  I cut the clump into half which gave me long pieces.)
1 cup washed and cleaned shrimp.
1 cup green onions (sliced).
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp grated garlic
Hoisin sauce to taste.  (I added 2 Tbsps)
Soy sauce to taste.
Vinegar to taste.
Olek sambal 1 tsp (chilli paste).
You can leave this out or substitute chopped green chillies.
2 Tbsp sesame oil (I like the flavor this imparts to Chinese dishes)

Optional: sliced canned water chestnuts, fresh snow peas, canned bamboo shoots.

Prepare all ingredients.
Heat oil in a skillet or wok.
Add green onions, ginger and garlic.
Stir fry one to two minutes.
Add other veggies if using and stir fry with shrimp till shrimp is cooked.
Add all sauces and spices, taste and adjust seasoning.
Add enoki mushroom and stir fry one minute.

My photograph above shows the dish more like a chop suey then a stir fry but I needed some 'gravy' so I could eat this with rice and I added a little extra hoisin sauce to it.

I ended up eating a small bowl at lunch without rice and was surprised the enoki mushrooms had the mouthfeel of noodles.  I was glad I had left them three inches long.

I had it the next day too with crackers and slices of tomato.

Also for vegetarians there is a vegetarian hoisin sauce available.

Donna, this one's for you...I'm so busy working on my young adult mystery series I've neglected this blog.  Your request to share diabetic recipes brought me back here.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mrs. Arjani's veggie cutlets

This healthy cutlet comes from a close friend who is always on the lookout for healthy recipes:

1 each potato, zucchini.
2 carrots (opt).
1 onion.
Garlic.
1/2 Tbp. whole dhania (coriander seeds)...crushed.
1 tsp Til ( brown sesame seed).
Whole (fennel) one tsp.
Green coriander.
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (if using salted/spiced breadcrumbs use caution with salt in cutlets.)
2 tbsps oil.
Oil for frying ( I use a mix of olive oil and vegetable oil).

Peel and grate potato, zucchini and carrots
Finely chop onion and cleaned green coriander/cilantro
Peel, grate/crush garlic
(My variation:  Toast fennel, crushed dhania and sesame seed till color changes and you get a great aroma.
Heat 2 Tbsps oil (or 1 Tbsp in a non stick skillet) and fry onion.
Add garlic and fry a few mins.
When light brown add coriander, veggies and fry for 5-10 mins).
Add salt, chilli powder or chopped green chillies (fry with garlic) and lime juice to taste.
Shape into round or oval cutlets/patties, half an inch thick.
Dip in eggs and then in breadcrumbs.
Shallow fry in an inch of oil.
My variation:  I place on a foil lined tray sprayed with Pam, then spray cutlets with Pam.
I bake this at 400 degrees for seven mins, turn when brown, spray other side and bake till golden brown for 7 to 10 mins.
Sometimes I broil the cutlets till color changes to a golden brown, watching carefully.