Friday, December 30, 2016

White christmas and snow flake cookies



What a Christmas wonderland this place is 🎄 last week we went to Lake Tahoe with the kids,and another family.
It was snowing and looked so magical!! A first time experience of watching falling snow made it even more  special.
I had planned to make some snow flakes cookies to take along with us. The children had an even better plan, of making us a Christmas Eve dinner, that turned out so grand and made us all so happy!

Lake Tahoe , is in Nevada and bout 4 hours drive from SanJose, California. During winter, people love to take a trip, stay there and do winter sport and skiing.
There is a place there called Emerald Bay, and the view you get to see is out of this world! There are many lodges, vacation homes available but do book in advance!



Tahoe 

Emerald Bay

The snowflake cookies are basically sugar, butter and flour based. The cookie cutters create these lovely shapes, that both kids and adults like :)

Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp  milk
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp sugar to sprinkle over the cookies
1/2 tsp Candied ginger (optional)

Method:
1. In a mixing bowl and using an electric hand beater, start by smoothing the butter, add sugar and continue mixing with hand mixer, till it appears creamy consistency. Now add in vanilla essence, pinch of salt, chop finely and add candied ginger and add in  milk, mix together to form  into a soft dough.
As the dough starts to leave the sides,take it out and roll it into a ball shape and wrap it with saran wrap ( plastic wrap) and leave it in the refrigerator to cool for about 20 mins.
2. Dust a flat board with flour and roll out the cooled dough, by dividing it into two halves. Flatten each half into 1/4 inch thickness.  Using cool cookie cutters, cut out shapes like snow flakes, Christmas tree , snow man!
Sprinkle some sugar on the top, and bake them  on a baking tray at 350 F for about 15 to 20 mins. Remove as they appear light golden brown on the sides!
Cool and enjoy these delicious cookies, with some ice cream or just the way they are.



Ingredients


Cream butter and sugar,add vanilla essence and candied ginger



Wrap dough in saran wrap

Dust flour on flat board


Snowflake cookie cutter shapes
                                               


Place on baking mat 
                                               


Sprinkle sugar on the top
                                                          

Some snowman and Christmas tree cookie cut outs
                                                 


                                              
Snowflake cookies!









Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cannoli, a Sicilian dessert


Cannoli is an Italy dessert, from the region of Sicily. they are tube shaped fried pastry shell, filled with  creamy filling of ricotta, sugar and vanilla essence. You can dust them with powdered sugar. A perfect ending to an Italian or any meal :)
I  first tried these yummilicious cannoli's in a Italian area in Boston, when I went o meet my daughter who studies in Harvard in Boston. The store had a great display of cannoli's and enjoyed the taste, while sipping some coffee, that goes great with cannoli.
This made me want to search for that perfect recipe that would excite my taste buds and here it is tried and tasted!!

Ingredients: ( To prepare the dough for pastry shells)
1.5 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white wine( I prefer to use white wine, original recipe also says Marsala wine, choice is yours )

Ingredients 



For filling 
1.5 cup ricotta cheese ( strain the excess water out from ricotta cheese, you can use a muslin or cheese cloth and drain the water out) at least 30  minutes before  using, refrigerate.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence 
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips ( optional , you can use pistachios or any other nuts, or candied cherries as a topping)
1 egg for egg wash
Vegetable Oil for frying 
Powdered sugar to dust over prepared  Cannoli


Method: for preparing dough
1. For the dough sieve together flour ,salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the cold chopped butter, rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingers, till it appears coarse. Add in egg and mix in wine . Form a dough ball and flatten over a flat surface. Wrap a plastic wrap and allow the dough to cool.

Sieved dough, salt,sugar and cold butter 

Add egg yolk and white wine to dough

Knead and wrap dough in plastic wrap



Method for preparing filling.
1.Put the drained ricotta, into another mixing bowl, add sugar, vanilla essence and cinnamon.
2.Mix heavy cream with a whisk, and using a spoon gently folded cream into  ricotta.Stir in chocolate chips and put this  filling mixture into a pastry bag, that has no tip and refrigerate till ready to use.
                         
whisk ricotta cheese, sugar 


Add cinnamon powder, vanilla essence

Add whipped full cream and choco chips 

Fold carefully and store as filling in refrigerator 

For preparing  Cannoli's

1.Remove the plastic wrap, and place  dough on to a flat surface, dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out a thin sheet of dough approximately 1/4 th thickness.
2.Using a glass bowl or any bowl that is about 2 to 3 inch in diameter cut out disc's of  dough.
3.Using  cannoli mold, wrap each cut out circle onto the mold.Seal the ends with a little egg wash, and flare the ends, this alos helps with the filling later on.
4.Heat oil to 250 F and using kitchen tongs carefully submerge the wrapped cannoli to cook the shells, on medium heat. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, and remove the cannoli mold from oil , using a tong onto a paper towel. Gently using a towel,hold the mold and slide off the prepared shell off the mold.
5.Repeat the process to complete making all the pastry shells.

                                   
Dough 


Divide dough into halves

Roll out dough as big as 1/4 inch thickness 
Using a cup cut out smaller circles of dough and wrap each on a cannoli mold 
Seal ends with an egg wash 


Filling the cannoli shells:
1. Just before serving, using a pastry bag without a tip squeeze out the filling into both ends of pastry shell.
Even you can use a ziploc bag, fill the bag with ricotta filling, seal from one side and clip off a slit on the corner of the other side.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve, enjoy with coffee or after a meal :)
       

Cannoli's 

 One can  prepare the Cannoli's about 60 minutes before and refrigerate to enjoy later. Don't store filled shells for longer time as crispy shells is better.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Coconut Ladoos.

Navratri means nine (nav) night (ratri) in Sanskrit. Festival dedicated to the worship of the Indian diety Ma Durga. During these 9 days , nine forms  of  diety are worshipped.
We prepare sweets and other vegetarian food for this festival. I am preparing coconut ladoos, as sweet start to Navratri.
It is very easy and can be made by using coconut, condensed milk and ghee.


Coconut Ladoos

Coconut Ladoos


Heat ghee add coconut 

Add condensed milk

Add cardamom powder and keep stirring

Remove the coconut mixture and allow to cool few minutes






Coconut ladoos 



Ingredients:
1.5 cups of fresh shredded coconut (Can use frozen coconut available in Indian stores)
2 tsp ghee
2 tsp powdered small cardamom
1/4 cup powdered dry coconut for coating 
1/2 cup condensed milk

Method
1.Heat ghee in a medium kadai. Add thawed fresh coconut, stir for few minutes. Do not brown the coconut.
2.Add cardamom powder, and condensed milk, keep stirring till all the mixture comes together. As  mixture leaves  sides of  pan, close burner.
3.Allow mixture to cool.
4.Rub a little ghee on  palms of your hand, and take a spoonful of mixture to make small balls of ladoos. Roll  prepared ladoos in  dried coconut to coat the surface.
5.If you want you can add a dry fruit to garnish the ready coconut ladoos.
Enjoy and store  remaining ladoos in an air tight container or refrigerate to enjoy later.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Thai coconut curry with Jasmine rice.


Thailand  is an exotic land, with amazing white sand beaches, blue waters, and a cuisine that is full of taste and flavor, with a spicy edge. There is plenty of sea food in their diet.

Today I am preparing a popular Thai dish called Thai coconut curry with vegetables. As the name suggests, coconut is wildly used as an ingredient for cooking Thai dishes, this adds a creamy texture to their curries.
The people in Thailand are very friendly, and they are very proud of their culture and beautiful temples. The massages are so relaxing and have therapeutic effect on one, and is a must when in Bangkok. 

Ingredients
2 cups Jasmine rice 
Water to boil rice
1/2 small onion chopped finely
1 red and green bell pepper sliced thinly length wise
1/2 cup baby corn
1/2 cup broccoli 
2 tsp brown sugar ( or coconut sugar )
1 inch ginger grated
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp soy sauce
1 cup water 
2 tsp Thai red curry paste   



Ingredients



Ginger, garlic, brown sugar and curry paste


Saute onions, ginger ,garlic in oil



Add vegetables and curry paste 

Add  coconut milk

Add brown sugar,soy sauce  and check for salt


Thai coconut curry with Jasmine rice 


Method
1.Heat 2 cups water, as water begins to boil,add washed 2 cups jasmine rice. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat. Close burner and drain the cooked rice.Add few drops of oil to moisten the rice. Keep aside.
2. Using a medium wok, heat 2 tbsp oil,add in onions, allow them to become slightly translucent. Add garlic, ginger and 1 tsp red chilly flakes. Next, add vegetables and continue cooking.
 3. Add in curry paste, continue stirring over medium heat. Add soy sauce and now add 1 cup coconut milk, Allow the curry to cook further for another few minutes,add in 1 cup water and cook further for 5 to 6 minutes. Garnish with few sprigs of basil leaves.
For Non vegetarian option, simply brown some boneless chicken cubed pieces, along with the onions. The other steps are the same.
Enjoy this Thai curry with warm jasmine rice.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate lovers favorite dessert. Easy to prepare and is gluten free too!! The baked cake comes out light,crisp on the outside and moist in the inside. The recipe includes simple ingredients, and  is a perfect dessert for sweet indulgence!!

Ingredients

12 ounce plain Chocolate chopped
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
6 Eggs, separate egg whites and yolks
1 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp Coffee powder
Coco powder for dusting the 8 inch cake pan
1/4 tsp Pure vanilla essence 
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup confectioners sugar for dusting over the baked cake (optional)
Mixed berries (optional to add on the top)






Ingredients




Melt Butter and chocolate in microwave




Separate egg whites and yolks



Add egg yolks to melted chocolate





Beat egg whites 





Add whipped egg whites to cake batter





Fold in care fully the egg whites







Dust cake pan with coco powder






Add prepared cake batter to cake pan



Dust baked cake with confectioners sugar and add raspberries and blueberries 



Method:
1. Preheat  oven to 350 F . Using two bowls, separate egg whites from yolks, using a hand beater, beat  egg whites till they form soft peaks.Keep aside.
2. In a medium bowl,add broken pieces of chocolate,  add butter, stir together and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, remove from microwave and stir to melt the chocolate.
3. Add egg yolks one by one to  melted chocolate. Next I like to add coffee powder as it enhances the flavor of  chocolate. Also add salt, and vanilla essence.
4. Add sugar to the beaten egg whites and next add this egg whites to the cake batter. Fold in the cake batter, don't over mix.
5. Dust a round cake pan, approx 8 inch in diameter, with coco powder. Pour cake batter and bake at 350 F, for 1 hour and to test if it is ready, put a toothpick in the cake, and making sure it comes out little wet but not too gooey. Cool the cake on a rack, and later dust with confectioners sugar on the top, and you can add some berries too for the added touch.
Alternately, instead of putting confectioners sugar and berries, you can add vanilla frosting or other fruits of your choice too!







Friday, April 8, 2016

Sticky Date Pudding with toffee sauce


This dessert is very special to me  and one of my favorites. In 2014 my family and my sister's family were having a holiday trip to the Great Barrier reef, Australia, where we got to enjoy this dessert together. We were delighted with the presentation and taste was just awesome. 
I always wanted to try making this at home, so when I came across this recipe, I decided to prepare it and was very happy to share this dessert with my family and  friends.
My son was so helpful in helping me make the toffee sauce, it came out delicious!
Do try out this easy dessert and wow everyone :))
The taste of this desert is unforgettable!!! 
First you bake date cake, and then prepare the toffee sauce using light brown sugar, butter , full cream and very little vanilla essence.


Chop pitted dates

Add baking powder and water 
Add baking powder to flour 


Beat butter and sugar

Add one egg at a time 

Add sieved flour 

Add dates 

Add mixture to a greased cake loaf tin

Prepare toffee sauce 

Sticky date cake with  toffee sauce 


Ingredients (For Date cake)
1 cup pitted dates, chopped 
1 1/2 cup water to boil  dates
1 stick butter 
3/4  cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 cups flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients (For Toffee Sauce)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup full cream
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence


Method
1. Take pitted dates and chop finely. Add water and baking soda. Heat for about 5 to 6 minutes till they appear softened. Close burner and allow to cool. Keep aside. 
2. Take flour , add baking powder and sieve, keep aside.
3. Soften  butter and brown sugar in a medium size bowl, using a wooden spoon or electric hand beater. As it appears creamed, start adding in  eggs, one by one and mix together.
4. Add in vanilla essence to  butter and sugar mixture. 
5. Add in  flour slowly and next add dates mixture.  Mix gently and pour this cake mixture into a greased cake loaf tin. Bake at 350 F for about 40 to 50 minutes. Check later by sticking in a tooth pick, that comes out clean showing the cake has cooked well from inside too.
6. Prepare toffee sauce by heat, butter and brown sugar, allow to bubble, slowly add in full cream and vanilla essence. Cook about 5 to 6 minutes and close burner as sauce bubbles.
7. Allow baked cake to stand for about 5  minutes, next using a fork pierce gently on the cake surface to make tiny holes. Pour 1/4 of toffee sauce over the cake. 
8. Keep remaining  toffee sauce, while serving the cake. Vanilla ice cream goes well too with this awesome dessert. The warm toffee sauce, along with warmed cake and cool ice cream , great combination. Enjoy !



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