Friday, December 28, 2012

Grilled shrimp on saffron rice

Tonight's Menu
Grilled jumbo garlic shrimps
Roasted asparagus
Saffron rice
Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Grilled jumbo shrimp and asparagus on saffron rice
While browsing through for ideas for sides with grilled shrimp, I found an elegant meal served by Ina Garton of Barefoot contessa fame. The combo looked perfect and so here It is. I made several changes in the saffron rice recipe and am sure you all will love this version. It kind of evolves from the pilaf recipes of the Mughlai cuisine, and goes very well with shrimp. This rice can be served with any BBQ meats such as Cedar wrapped salmon , Malai chicken tikka , Tandoori chicken , Grilled red snapper , Stuffed chicken breast and grilled TilapiaTo avoid the flavour competition, I kept the shrimp and asparagus fairly simple.  

Saffron rice

Saffron Rice 
Ingredients: serves 4
1/2 tsp saffron threads plus 1 tbsp milk
2 Tbsp ghee or clarified butter
4 green cardamom pods
1 small (2-inch) cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 cups water
Salt to taste (optional)
1 tbsp orange zest
3 Tbsp pistachios
3 Tbsp blanched slivered or sliced almonds
1/3 cup cranberries

  • Wash rice and drain the water.
  • In a heavy bottomed pan heat ghee and add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon. stir for 10 seconds and add rice along with zest and cranberries. stir to coat the rice with ghee and spices.
  • Add water and salt. mix well. Add the saffron threads soaked in milk. Stir well if you want the entire rice to turn yellow OR just give it one random stir to get the effect you see in the picture.
  • Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes till rice is cooked through and all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds and pistachios.

Shrimp and asparagus on the grill

Grilled garlic shrimp and Asparagus
Ingredients: (serves 4)
500 gms fresh asparagus, hard ends trimmed off
25-30 jumbo shrimps
4 tbsp olive oil 
2-3 cloves of garlic grated
1 tsp dry parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  • Drizzle asparagus and shrimps with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and sprinkle parsley on top. Add grated garlic to the shrimp and mix well. 
  • Place asparagus in a single layer on the preheated grill on high. It will take about 15 minutes for them to grill. Turn after 7 minutes. At this point place the marinated shrimps in a single layer. Shrimps will cook way faster than asparagus so time accordingly. 
  • Roast shrimps for about 4-5 minutes per side (will need less time if shrimps are smaller in size) till they turn pink.  Roast asparagus till it wrinkles a bit.
  • Serve on a bed of saffron rice.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate truffles

Chocolate truffles
These rich and decadent bite sized chocolates are a fave of all chocolate lovers. A French invention of the seventeenth century, the original chocolate truffle was a ball of ganache (smooth and velvety mixture of chocolate and cream), flavored and rolled in cocoa to simulate the 'dirt', real truffles grew in. Hence named 'Truffle' after the precious black truffle fungus.

The real taste of a chocolate truffle depends largely on the quality of chocolate used in the recipe. Not all cooking chocolates are created equal. Factors such as level of toasting of the cocoa beans, amount of cocoa butter added, its final texture, etc. all affect the taste and quality of the final product.

Before you start making these yummylicious delights decide on type of chocolate you will use. As per your taste you can choose between semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate. Choose between cocoa powder, shredded coconut, toasted chopped nuts, powdered sugar dusting, crushed peppermint candy or chocolate shavings as coating.

Truffles can be flavored with addition of rum, cognac, brandy, frangelico, bourbon, etc.

Cocoa covered Chocolate truffles
Ingredients: Makes about 24-30
8 ounces bitter sweet (or semi sweet) chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (35%)
1-2 tbsp alcohol (choose from above mentioned options) optional
Toasted chopped pistachios or almonds or walnuts
Cocoa powder sifted
Shredded unsweetened coconut
Powdered sugar
Crushed peppermint candy
  1. In a small saucepan bring cream and butter to boil. 
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir till it completely melts and combines with the cream mixture. 
  3. If using, mix in the liqueur. Cover and refrigerate till firm. This could take a minimum of 4 hours or more. 
  4. Place the coating in a deep bowl. With your hand or a melon baller scoop out small bite sized balls. Roll them on the coating and place on a parchment paper lined container. Refrigerate till firm. 
  5. Make sure you touch them with your hand as less as possible as this will melt the chocolate. Best to make irregular sized truffles. 
  6. Can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container for a 4-5 days, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Coconut covered Chocolate truffles

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dum pukht Chicken biryani

Tonight's Menu
Dum pukht biryani
Cucumber raita
Salad greens
Dum pukht Chicken biryani
Dum pukht cooking (cooking with steam) has been a favourite of the royals since it travelled with the Mughal to India from the Middle east. Known as the food of the nawabs, it became popular in the courts of Awadh, Hydrabad and Kashmir, each giving its own twist.
The essence of dum pukth lies in its aroma, where meat rice and vegetables are allowed to infuse in rich spices by cooking them on a very slow flame in a copper or earthen pot covered with dough. This purdah (veil) style of cooking seals the pot with the dough allowing the food to cook slowly in its own juices and infusing the flavour all over. These dishes use a generous amount of ghee and are elaborate to make.
You can use either lamb or chicken, preferably with bones. Traditionally the dough is made of wheat flour, ghee and sugar. But its easier to use puff pastry as it saves a lot of time and tastes crisp, flaky and wonderful.
Dum pukht Chicken biryani
Ingredients: serves 5-6
2 lb bone in chicken legs and/or thighs
2 cups basmati rice
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 large red onions finely julienne
1 small tomato pureed
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp tandoori masala (recipe)
1 tbsp kasoori methi
2 tsp dry mint leaves
vegetable oil
salt and red chilli powder to taste
1/2 package frozen Puff pastry defrosted
whole spices : dry grind them coarsely
1 black cardamom
5-6 green cardamoms
1 inch cinnamon stick
5-6 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  1. Clean the chicken and pat dry. Give it several slits to allow good marination. Make the marinade by combining half the yogurt with 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, tandoori masala and salt. Mix with chicken and refrigerate to allow marination for a minimum of 4 hours. 
  2. In a pan sauté the onions till they are golden brown. Keep aside. 
  3. Wash and drain the rice. In a pan heat 1 tbsp oil and add a third of the coarsely ground dry spices. Let them spatter for 3-5 seconds. Add rice and sauté in the spices for a minute to coat each grain with oil and spice. 
  4. Add 4 cups water and salt to taste. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer covered for 7 minutes till rice are two thirds done. Meanwhile cook the chicken. 
  5. In a large pan heat 2 tbsp oil and add the remaining coarsely ground dry spices along with kasuri methi, mint leaves and red chili powder and the marinated chicken. Cook on high stirring frequently till the chicken no longer looks pink, about 7 minutes. 
  6. Add tomato and remaining yogurt along with salt and continue cooking on high till oil starts to leave the sides of the chicken.
  7. Layering - Grease a large oven proof dish and start layering the rice and chicken in alternate layers. Cover the pan with rolled out puff pastry ensuring all edges are sealed. Place in a preheated oven at 350 F for 30 minutes till the pastry is golden and crisp on top.
  8. Dig out the yummylicious chicken infused rice along with a portion of the crisp dough and enjoy with raita and green salad.

Layer rice and chicken
Cover with puff pastry
Out of the oven

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mince Chicken pie with scalloped potatoes

Tonight's Menu
Mince Chicken pie with scalloped potatoes
Crisp green beans
Dinner rolls
Wine Pairing: Mulled wine

Mince Chicken pie with scalloped potatoes

As cold weather sets in warm hearty casseroles are a way to go. This pie is almost a complete meal in itself. Add lots of veges to the meat to make it more hearty. I used small white potatoes with skin on. You can use red potatoes or even russet potatoes peeled and sliced. Serve with green salad or crisp green beans and some crusty bread to dunk the meat.

Sauté mince chicken and carrots in a pan

Ingredients: serves 4
1 lb lean ground chicken
1 red onion chopped fine
3 carrots sliced
4 large ripe tomatoes chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp dry thyme
4 tsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
3-4 large potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes
  • Boil potatoes till they are three quarters cooked. slice them into even thin rounds. Season them with salt and pepper and keep aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • In a pan heat 2 tsp oil and cook onion and half the garlic for 3-4 seconds. Add mince chicken and sauté till it is no longer pink.
  • Add tomatoes and carrots and cook on high for 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch in the chicken stock and add to the pan along with herbs ans seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Grease a shallow pie dish and transfer the cooked chicken to it. Layer the potatoes on top of the meat mixture. Make a mixture of 2 tsp olive oil and rest of the crushed garlic and brush liberally over the layered potatoes.
  • Cook in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes till potatoes are tender and golden.     

Mince Chicken pie with scalloped potatoes

Mince Chicken pie with scalloped potatoes