Friday, December 31, 2010

Chocolate Trifle

Ever since I started this blog planning for friday meals has become a lot more important and I must say a lot more fun. The one factor that has helped me plan the dishes has been that this year a lot of festivals and celebrations have fallen on a friday - navratre, diwali, christmas eve, new year eve to name a few.

Its New Year Eve and we are as usual having a potluck party with a few of our friends. I usually get the dessert department for new year eve parties since its Pankaj's (my husband) birthday on the first of January. He is turning 45 this year so with the usual birthday cake I decided to make the decadent Chocolate Trifle Pudding. Trifle is a traditional English Dessert and can be made using any flavours blended together. It is a layered composition of cake, fruit, whipped cream, nuts and custard where fruit and sponge cake form the bottomost layer and custard and cream the top ones.

The one I made is a raspberry -- chocolate blend. Instead of a big bowl I will be serving individual cups and so the small wine cups came in handy. If you are serving this as a big dish the layers can be repeated depending on the depth of the container. See pictures below.

There are layers of several ingredients in the following order:
Chocolate cake
Raspberries in light syrup
Whipped cream
Chocolate Pudding
Whipped Cream
Marchino Cherry
Bittersweet Chocolate shavings

Now I am off to get dressed for the party. Hope you all have a wonderful time tonight with your family and friends and welcome the new year with a smiling and singing heart. Hope everyone enjoys this chocolatee delight full of varied and decadent flavours.

Here's wishing that your New Year is filled with all the rich flavours of life.

Happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Roasted Chicken Breast with Warm Herbed Tomatoes on garlic croutons

Its Christmas Eve, the tree is full of gifts and the kids are gazing at them with increased excitement and anticipation. They have already opened one present and cannot wait for morning to grab the rest. The only distraction i can provide at this hour is a meal that might distract their attention for an hour.
I decided not to go with the traditional chiristmas turkey dinner tonight. My husband is not a big fan of turkey for one and even the smallest size is too big to serve a family of four. I decided to go with chicken breast and roast it with a spice rub.
I served the meal with tomato carrot soup. You can serve this meal with your favourite soup. Enjoy.

Roast chicken breast

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast 
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Spice Rub (1 tbsp Thyme, 1/2 tbsp Parsley, 1/2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper)

  • Rub the spice rub and seasoning on the chicken breast and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat oil and butter in an oven safe pan and put the chicken breasts in. Sear the chicken on one side at high heat for a minute till brown, turn and do the same o the other side.
  • Carefully transfer the pan into the oven and bake at 400F for 20 minutes till done.
  • Slice and serve drizzled with gravy.

Warm Herbed Tomatoes

Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
French Baguette sliced into 12 slices
1 tbsp oil
250 gms cherry tomatoes
250gms grape tomatoes(If available use yellow pear tomatoes)
1/2 cup combined chopped fresh parsley, basil and thyme
salt and cracked black pepper
  • Combine garlic and olive oil and brush the bread slices liberally on one side.
  • Toast the slices in the oven at 350F for 5-7 min till toasty and lightly browned.
  • In a pan heat olive oil and add the whole tomatoes. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until warm and just softened.
  • Add the herbs and seasoning and fry for another minute.
  • Serve over the garlic croutons.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Festive Treats

Its Christmas holidays for the kids and they love to mess up in the kitchen with me preparing treats and having fun. This year we decided to make it a chocolicious christmas. So here goes two of our fave treats which combine well with tea, coffee and milk alike. After a whole afternoon of floury counters and buttery fingers we prepared these and then had a long lazy and definitely calorie packed snack break.
Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy these treats with your kids now and always.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
Mix all ingredients together.
Fruit and Nut Chocolate Balls
Ingredients: (Makes about 30)
8 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup each chopped almonds and walnuts
1/3 cup each craisins (dried cranberries), chopped dried apricots and unsweetened dry coconut.
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler ( indirectly heating chocolate in a bowl kept over a pan of hot water, see image) 
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. 
  3. Drop spoonfuls into muffin liners and leave at room temperature for 2 hours to set. 
  4. Enjoy with coffee or tea. 
  5. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 days.

Pinwheel Biscuits
Ingredients: (makes about 16 )

1cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Divide all ingredients into two portions. We will make a vanilla dough and a chocolate dough. 
  2. Sieve together flour, salt and baking powder. 
  3. Cream butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. 
  4. Add flour and vanilla extract and milk to make a stiff white dough. 
  5. Add flour, vanilla extract and milk along with cocoa powder to make a stiff chocolate dough. 
  6. Thinly roll out both to about an eight of an inch thickness and similar length and width dimentions. 
  7. Place one on top of the other and carefullt roll them from one end tightly into a roll. 
  8. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  9. Cut 1/4 inch thick slices and place on a greased cookie sheet. 
  10. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Do not overbake. 
  11. Cool for 10 minutes before digging in.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fish Pie and Mushy Peas and Carrots

This is a traditional British dish using white fish and white or béchamel sauce. Usually halibut, haddock or cod is used, but I often make this using tilapia. Fish is mixed with the white sauce and then topped with mashed potatoes instead of puff pastry which is often the case with savory pies and then baked. Sometimes shrimp or hard boiled eggs can be added along with the fish. This dish can be served with a salad but in our house we usually serve it along with mushy peas and carrots. This reminds my husband of his childhood days in London.
I have come across many other versions of fish pie and they all look scrumptious. It all depends on what you are in a mood for. You can add spinach or grated carrots and cheese all in the dish to get more out of the pie. Mustard and nutmeg both give that hmmm feel.

Fish Pie
Ingredients: (serves 4)

1/2 lb haddock, halibut or cod (I am using cod)
2 hard boiled eggs
Mashed Potatoes- for recipe go here.
Béchamel sauce - see recipe below.
  1. Preheat oven to 425F 
  2. Cut fish into bite-sized pieces, season with salt and pepper and put them in a greased dish. 
  3. Pour bechamel sauce over the fish evenly coating all the pieces. The moisture in the sauce will cook the fish. 
  4. Slice boiled eggs and arrange in a layer over the fish and sauce. 
  5. On the top arrange the mashed potatoes. Brush the top with some egg wash. 
  6. Bake in the middle rack for 30-35 minutes till the fish cooks through and the potatoes brown. 
  7. Serve hot with steamed peas and carrots.
For Béchamel sauce
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp butter
2/3 cup whole milk
Fresh parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
  1. 1/4 tsp each dry mustard powder and nutmeg
  2. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat and add flour. 
  3. Stir constantly on gentle heat to cook the flour without browning about 1-2 min. 
  4. Add warm milk slowly and cook until smooth and slightly thickened, stirring constantly. 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in rest of the ingredients.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cocktail and Appetizer Night- Devilled eggs and minty chicken balls

Families are special and deserve a celebration once in a while. So to make tonight a party night we decided to have an Appetizer and Cocktail Night instead of a regular sit down meal. My husband made cocktails on demand, even the girls got several rounds of Shirley temples. It was flirtinis for the adults. Cheers everyone.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 Eggs hard boiled and peeled
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp mustard
salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
A few sprigs of Fresh or Dried Mint
  • Cut the hard-boiled eggs gently in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the yolk in a bowl and place the white shell on a serving platter.
  • Add mayonnaise, seasoning and finely chopped mint to the yolk and mix very well.
  • Now spoon this mixture back in the empty egg white shells.
  • Sprinkle with more cracked black pepper and garnish with a mint leaf.
  • Cover and refrigerate for minimum 2 hours or max up to a day before serving.
  • Serve over a bed of lettuce.

Minty Chicken Balls
This is a twist on the classic chicken balls recipe. The mint sauce gives it a freshness and an Indian BBQ feel. You can even serve these inside a wrap and it will taste like kathi kabab. This is a great recipe for a party.  With my girls, it was a great hit.

Ingredients:(serves 4)
For Chicken balls (makes about 30)
1 lb Minced chicken
1 egg
1/2 red onion finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
4 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
salt to taste

For mint sauce
1 cup each packed fresh mint and coriander
1/4 red onion
2 cloves garlic
Green chilies
2 tbs tomato paste
  •  Mix all the ingredients for the chicken balls thoroughly.
  • Shape into small 1 inch balls.
  • Deep fry in hot oil till golden brown OR  Bake at 375F for 15 minutes.
  • Make the mint sauce by putting all the ingredients (except tomato paste) in a blender with a little bit of water and blending till it becomes a fine minty concoction.
  • In a pan put a tsp oil and add the mint sauce along with tomato paste and bring to a boil. Now add all the chicken balls and coat them thoroughly with the mint sauce.
  • Simmer covered for 2 minutes to let the flavors seep through.
  • Serve hot.

Mozzarella Skewers

Ingredients:(serves 4)
100 gms Mozzarella cheese (cut into 16 cubes)
16 small cherry tomatoes
16 pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup Roasted red pepper dressing (Or Greek salad dressing)
  • Divide cheese, tomatoes, and olives among 16 toothpicks.
  • In a shallow dish put the dressing and place the skewers in it. Turn the skewers to coat evenly.
  • Let them marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature before refrigerating.
  • Remove skewers from marinade before serving. (Discard the leftover marinade)

Tzatziki Sauce
I have very often heard parents complain about their kids not having veggies. A great way to lure them to do so is by serving the salad alongside a great tasting dip. This one here is a sure winner every time. Mild in taste and low in fat, this greek dip is usually served cold with souvlaki and gyros. Garlic and the crushed mint gives it a unique flavor.

1/2 cup thick plain yogurt
1/4 cucumber peeled, grated and drained
1 tsp olive oil
1tsp lime juice
1 small clove of garlic crushed
1/2 tsp dried or fresh mint
salt to taste
  • Put the yogurt in a muslin cloth and put it in a strainer over a bowl.
  • Let stand in the fridge for 4 hours to separate the liquid from the thick yogurt.
  • Mix all the ingredients together with the strained yogurt.
  • Cover and chill.
  • Great accompaniment with shish kabab and grilled fish.