Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Almond biscotti

Biscotti and coffee. Nuff said.

The original recipe was sent to me from Biaggi's restaurant, (Biscotti di Prato) and this version has never failed me yet. I have made it in the high altitude region of Colorado and the humid and low altitude of Minnesota.

My main concern with the biscottis I have tasted at several coffee shops in the US, is the smell of eggs that permeate through the biscuit after dunking it in coffee. Nothing puts me off more than the waft of egg smell through my pastries. This version solved that problem for me. As RR puts it, Yumm-O!

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened
2 eggs
1/4 tspn almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (if I feel like having another layer of spice)
2-1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup sliced almonds

Beat together sugar and butter until it becomes nice and smooth, add eggs, almond and vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and nutmeg if using. Beat for a bit. Add flour slowly, and then add the almonds. Make a log 12"x3" if you want large biscottis, otherwise make two logs. The width of the log will determine the biscotti size. I prefer making smaller ones most of the time.

Bake in a 350 deg preheated oven until golden and done. Cool well. Cut across into 1/2 inch or so thick slices. Reduce heat to 300 deg, and bake, arranging the slices cut side down, flat on cookie sheets. Bake until nicely golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Additional tip: Melt dark chocolate in a saucepan on a double boiler. Dunk the cooled biscotti halfway through. Lay on a cooling rack, until the chocolate has set. Mmyummy! I have never tried with white chocolate but it should work as well.

Make your favorite coffee and do the dunking!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oyster mushroom and pea risotto with hot french fried onions

Today in a conversation my friend Heidi mentioned the various different ways she uses french fried onions. Usually the crunchy topping for green bean casserole, she tops her hot dogs with it. Gave me an idea, in a weird way. Hence today's dinner.


French fried onions
Sri Racha sauce (I added a teaspoon to half a cup of onions, add less or more according to taste, or mood)
Heat oven to 275 degrees. Mix the sauce with the onions and spread on a cookie sheet. Heat in the oven for about 5-7 min. Turn oven off and keep warm until you are ready to serve it. I used store bought onions.


Olive oil (1 Tblspn)
1 Bay leaf
white wine (half a cup)

Vegetable broth (~6-8 cups)
Onions, diced (half onion)
Garlic diced (3 garlic)
Arborio rice (2 cups)
Oyster mushrooms, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
Peas (1/2 cup)
Parmesan cheese (upto 1/4 cup)

Heat the broth until it simmers. Lower the heat and keep it simmering all through the process.

Heat oil, add chopped onions and garlic, fry until translucent. Add rice and fry until rice becomes slightly opaque. Add wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Add hot broth, one ladle at a time, constantly stirring, and waiting until the broth has evaporated before adding the next ladle.  Repeat until almost cooked. Add the mushrooms and peas. Add broth and stir until the rice is cooked al dente, do not wait until it is mushy. Add cheese, stir. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Serve topped with the spicy french fried onions.

It's really yummy in the tummy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rigatoni with mushrooms in roasted butternut squash sauce

Fall's here. And with it, gusts of wind bringing a rain of gold and red. Leaves everywhere. Slight nip in the air.
The perfect time for butternut squash. We got a beautiful golden squash with nice glowing orange flesh. Ofcourse the first dish was butternut squash risotto. But the pasta sauce made with leftover roasted butternut squash turned out really mouthwatering slobberlicious.

Butternut squash
extra virgin olive oil (half a tsp or so)
Seasoning (Mix equal Onion powder,Garlic powder,Cumin powder, Oregano, Marjoram) about a tblspn for one squash
Garlic, chopped finely.
Mushrooms, chopped
Milk or cream ( I used milk but I think cream would be as good and make the sauce smoother)
Olive oil
Crumbled feta cheese

Cut squash into cubes and mix with oil and seasoning blend, spread on a baking sheet and roast at 375 F until cooked through.
Cool. Blend coarsely
Boil water, salt it and throw in the rigatoni
Meanwhile, in a pan, heat olive oil, add the garlic, add a pinch of salt.
Add the chopped mushrooms, salt it and fry until the edges of the mushroom are golden brown.
Add the butternut squash puree and milk/cream
Add chopped parsley
Check for pasta to be al dente, drain.
Add the sauce to the pasta, top with crumbled feta cheese.
Yum Yum.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

'Not fried' green tomatoes

Today a friend passed on to me great heirloom tomatoes from her absolutely lush garden. And I remembered a recipe from my pal from a long time ago. Maya's favorite accompaniment with rice, this was what she cooked most times for dinner. She would tell me in a story of self critical mirth that she made it only six days a week.

Maya's tomato chutney is a traditional recipe from Karnataka, from her mum's kitchen. Its usually made with ripe red tomatoes but I discovered today that it tastes fantastic with green ones! Here's my version. Delicious with hot fresh bread. Use as a spread with slices of cucumber, and you have a delectable sandwich.

Green tomato chutney

1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp dry minced garlic
1 dry red chilli
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika powder (more if you want it spicier)
salt to taste
1 tblspn urad dal or chana dal (split chickpeas)
A wee bit of sugar
1 cup chopped green tomatoes

In a pan, heat oil (med. heat) and add cumin seeds, fry for almost a minute until the seeds turn slightly brown. Add coriander seeds and the dry minced garlic and dry red chilli, fry for about a minute. Add the dal. Fry until the dal becomes golden brown, add the tomatoes. Add salt, sugar and paprika powder. Fry. Turn heat to low and cook well, about ten minutes at least. Let the mixture cool. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend into a paste. Keeps well for at least a week in the fridge.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tofu bhurji

This is a great take on Egg Bhurji the quintessential Mumbai spicy scrambled egg breakfast paired with soft fresh buttered buns or Paav. mmyum! I made this version with extra firm tofu, but I guess one can make it with softer tofu as well.

Cumin seeds
Onion (chopped)
Ginger (small piece)
Red chili powder
Pickled peppers (chopped)
Green peppers (finely chopped)
Peas (a couple tablespoons of frozen peas would work well)
Tomato (chopped)

In about a couple tsps of olive oil, add a tsp of cumin seeds, fry for a minute then add onion and ginger and fry until onion gets translucent. Add half tsp of turmeric, and red chili powder. Add green peppers, pickled peppers, peas. Stir for a couple minutes, then add crumbled tofu. Fry well on high heat. Add tomatoes. Stir well.
Remember to season with salt at every point right from the onions to the tomatoes.

This would be great as a bruschetta, on sliced, toasted french baguette, rubbed with garlic.

I'll post pictures the next time I make it again, which I suspect will be soon, judging from the way it turned out today!

P.S.  I thought I'd add this as a comment, since I saw this now. But I can't add links to comments for some reason. I saw a wonderful recipe using tofu, similar one, by my friend Vaishali. She pairs her bhurji with wonderful bagels as a breakfast item. Super! Here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter breakfast

Easter and eggs seem to be almost synonymous. Eggs have always been the mark of spring. Well, then I came across one of my favorite grandmas...Paula Deen! Her French toast casserole sounded perfect for breakfast. But ofcourse you know me, I cant stick to a recipe. Maybe that's why I was so bad at Chemistry or baking bread as a matter of fact. So here's a pumped up version of her breakfast goodie. And it was really yummy, if I may say so myself. The orange liqueur does a great job with the raisins and cranberries. Paula's idea of praline topping is phenomenal. Only, I didn't have ingredients so I had to make my own version.

Toast with a twist!
10-12 slices of bread (slice bread an inch or so thick)
4 large eggs
1 cups half-and-half and 1/2 cup milk or 1/2 cup cream and 1-1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons (tblspn) sugar
1 teaspoon (tspn) vanilla extract
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Raisins and cranberries
Orange liqueur
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup
Add raisins and cranberries to a small bowl and pour orange liqueur until it barely covers the dry fruit. Soak for an hour. Generously butter a flat baking dish.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Arrange a layer of bread slices overlapping the slices a bit. Layer the soaked raisins and cranberries. Arrange the remaining bread on top. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the bread slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate for a few hours, overnight if you like.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the maple-almond praline topping evenly over the bread and bake for ~ 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. A plumped up version of the ever comforting bread pudding!

Maple almond praline topping:
1 tblspn butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped roasted almonds
1 tblspn maple syrup
1/4 tspn cinnamon pwdr
1/4 tspn nutmeg pwdr
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Peppers and Tofu curry

Last Saturday, I had a craving for a spicy curry which refused to go away. A hot spicy, coconut based, chicken curry. Well, I had decided I am switching to being vegetarian for a while, so I had to put on my thinking cap to decide about a vegetarian ingredient able to stand up to the spice and layers of flavor offered by curry. Potatoes, Chickpeas, all were out. So in walked Tofu. I figured extra firm could stand to all the boldness. I just had to tweak the curry a bit. I must say it turned good enough I simply had to share the recipe!

Coriander seeds 1 tblspn
Grated fresh coconut 1/4 cup
Cloves 3-4
Black peppercorns 5-6
Cinnamon stick 1/2 inch
Red onion 1 medium
Garlic 3 cloves
Curry leaves
Cumin seeds1 tspn
1 to 1-1/2 Green bell peppers, chopped into inch size pieces
1 cup extra firm tofu, cut into inch size cubes.

Roast coriander seeds. Add cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns, roast for a couple minutes. Keep aside. Roast coconut add curry leaves and roast for a couple minutes more. Fry onion and garlic keep aside. Add all the above ingredients to the blender and grind to a smooth paste. You can add upto 1/2 cup of water.

Heat 1/2 tblspn oil (I used olive oil) in a pan, fry the tofu till the surface of the cubes become brown. Take the tofu out, onto paper towels. To the pan, add 1 tblspn oil, when oil is heated, add cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start changing color, add the green pepper and fry well in high heat. Turn the heat to medium, add the ground paste, and enough water to make a thick gravy. Add salt to taste. When the pepper has softened, add the tofu. Simmer for a bit. Serve with hot rotis or hot basmati rice.

If you'd like it spicier, add a tspn of red chili powder to the cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns and roast for a bit.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Marshmallowed Granola Brittle

I found the seeds of this recipe on a bag of marshmallows, which was a take on rice crispy squares, but I found that the dish turned much more interesting in this avatar.

Oats - 1-1/2 cup
Almonds,Walnuts,Cranberries,Dates,Raisins,Sunflower seeds - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 teaspoon
Oil/butter - 1 tablespoon
Marshmallows - 1 cup

Mix oats and oil, toast well. I used a wok for this. Really works well. Roast the nuts separately.
Mix the oats, vanilla essence and the dry fruits well. Add the marshmallows over the mixture. Microwave for 1 minute on high, the marshmallow will puff up nicely. Bring it out of the microwave oven and mix quickly before the marshmallows set. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1/4 inch thick. Let it stand at room temperature until the mixture cools completely. Break into pieces and enjoy!

This makes for a slightly sweet brittle. If you'd like it sweeter, use more marshmallows.