Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dry fruits and nuts ladoo

"Good things come in small packages"  This stands true, when you look at  the goodness of Nuts.  Nature has provided us with these beautiful nutritional powerhouses, fully packed with heart-friendly fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids.  It's the vegetarian's  main source of protein.  It helps us feel full and suppress the appetite. But, not all the nuts are made equal, each one has its own goodness, amount of calories and protein content.

Health benefits:Walnuts provide the richest source of antioxidants, purifies body from within and making your skin glow, flushing out all the toxins.
Almonds are the ones with the most fiber content, richest source of Vitamin E, which  is good for skin . Cashews are a rich source of iron, zinc and magnesium. It delivers oxygen to all the cells of our body, thereby preventing chances of anemia. Pistachios are dieters choice because of the low calories. These are rich in antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, potassium and Vitamin B6.

How much do we need ? 
A handful is enough to take you overboard. Nuts are good when taken in limited quantities. This limit also extends to the value of daily nutritional intake.  Aren't we glad that nuts can make us healthy, wealthy and wise?.

Bad nuts:
Nuts can be bad for health  if it is coated with sugar, salt or chocolate. Nuts in raw form has more nutritional value. Nuts can cause allergies in some people and can prove fatal.

This recipe is all natural no additives or preservatives.  Can be stored upto a week or two in an air-tight container.

Nuts: roasted and chopped  100 grs each
Shredded/ desiccated Coconut
Poppy seeds / khus khus
Can use whatever is available in the market like Macadamia nuts, Brazilian nuts, Hazel nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, melon seeds etc.
Dry fruits: chopped  100 grs each

Jaggery- 1cup or Edible gum - 2 tbsp
Ghee or Melted butter -3 tbsp
Cardamom pwd  for flavouring -1/4 tsp
Roast the nuts in 1 tsp ghee till brown, and in a blender pulse coarsely.
Chop dates, figs and raisins
Dry roast coconut and  poppy seeds till brown.
If using the edible gum: roast gum with little ghee and blend till smooth. Mix all the ingredients well and roll the mixture to balls with greased palms.
If using jaggery: To a heavy bottom pan, add grated jaggery and 2 tbsp. water and melt on a low heat. Filter this to remove impurities. Add 1 tbsp. Ghee to the jaggery and begin to boil it till it reaches a soft ball consistency. You can drop a spoon of this syrup in a bowl  of water. when you see the syrup can be rolled to a soft ball. Switch off the heat. pour it over the nuts and stir well. Wait for few mins until it is easy to handle and roll it into balls.

Go Nuts Go !!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Creamy Fruit salad

Apple - 1 cup diced
Grapes - 1/2 cup green or red globe grapes
Banana - 1 cup diced
cantaloupe -  1 cup
Oranges - 1 cup segments
Any kind of fruits of your choice can be added.

for the dressing:
Condensed milk - 1 can
Cream cheese -  50 gr
Sour cream - 2 tbsp.

Combine condense milk, cream cheese, sour cream and beat together.
Add the fruits and mix well to coat .
Serve chilled.

Variation: If condense milk is too sweet, variation can be made with the combination of Cream cheese , whip cream,Agave

Saturday, July 19, 2014

BLT Salad

BLT reminds us of sandwich with Bacon lettuce and Tomato.    I enjoyed this delicious salad at a kids camp, where I was volunteering.  The ladies in the kitchen prepared it for about 200 people.  There were several trays, full of  this colorful salad.   As the lunch time was approaching, I couldn't wait to try to this salad.  The lunch also came with black forest ham sandwich and juice.  The lunch was so delicious!  I thought my family would enjoy it just as much as I did....  I knew the basic ingredients used in this salad i.e Bacon , lettuce and salad.   I put it together and prepared it for weekend lunch.   They loved it all and it was quickly vanished from the bowl!

Bacon - few strips cut in pieces
Tomato -  1 diced
Lettuce -  romaine lettuce washed and cut into pieces
Marble cheese - shredded 1/4 cup
Cucumber- 1 diced
Frozen Green peas/ sugar snap - 1/4 cup  microwaved  for few mins.  Sugar snap can be used fresh. 
Sour cream - 1 tbsp
Mayonnaise - 1 tbsp
parmesan cheese - 1 tsp
Salt , pepper
vinegar - 1 tsp
sugar - 1/4 tsp

 Combine BLT and other ingredients in a bowl.
Mix the dressing in a separate bowl and toss it all together to coat the salad.

For Bacon:  Place bacon in a  skillet. Cook over medium high heat, turning frequently, until evenly browned. Drain the excess fat, crumble and set aside.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cantaloupe carving

Here is a beautiful carving made out of a Cantaloupe.   It takes lots of patience and practice to get the excellent results but this one seems to be pretty easy, though looks very complicated.  Makes a good table decoration for special occasions.  We can make two out of a single cantaloupe.
Here is the method:
1.  Choose a firm Cantaloupe. 
2. Draw two lines across, in the middle of the Cantaloupe.
3. In between the two lines,draw big V shapes going up and down all the way around.
4.With a sharp knife cut the V lines.
5. Separate the two lobes.
6. Peel the skin half way through making it look like a petal.
7.  To make extra petals, cut a little piece off between the petals, to make it look like they are separated and not clumpy.
8. cut the base off to keep it nice and steady.
Place it in any table decoration.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas rum cake

  Christmas is the time for food and food and lots of food, In every gathering, every party... But if you don't have the proper kind of cake, it's  takes off the show... In India, during the Christmas season we used to gift the cakes to people around us to spread the joy and cheer of Christmas. Me and my younger sister used to go cake shopping,  on my two wheeler.   We normally used to go to a baker who makes cakes in Mettuguda, Hyderabad.  He runs his business from home.  He is always busy during this season.  He and his sibling works in that small rented room, sifting the flour, mixing, baking etc.  We had to place an order and pickup after a week or two.  The cakes he makes is so delicious, that you want to eat up everything.  I didn't know the name of the cake at that time...it was black, with fruits and no icing.   When I came to Canada , I didn't get that kinda taste anywhere.  I didn't even know the name of the cake to buy or ask the recipe.  Some times I used to enjoy the same kind of cake in the weddings, in India.
Couple of years ago, a friend of mine from Jamaica shared her cake with me... It reminded me of the days of Hyderabad. My curiosity mounted and  showered her with too many questions, what is the name of the cake, what is the recipe ?  Where can I get it to buy?  She told me, that it is Jamaican rum cake, and you will not get to buy it anywhere because they don't make it in stores.  She happily shared her recipe.    It is so tasty that you will forget you are eating the cake without icing. It took me several years to obtain the name and recipe. So, here it is for you....

2¾ cups Raisins
1¾ cups currants
1 cup Candied Peel
½ cup Walnuts
1/3 cup Prunes, chopped
1/3 cup Candied Cherries, halved
2 cups Brown Sugar
1½ tsp each Vanilla and Almond Extract
½ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Cinnamon
Pinch  of each:   ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves
1 cup  Rum/ Sherry/ port wine
1 cup Unsalted Butter
5 eggs
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp Browning (depending on how dark you want your cake)
1½ cups All-purpose Flour
½ tsp each baking powder and salt

This cake has 4 stages of making, as opposed to regular cake .  

1. Soaking the fruit:   This is the major part of, this kind of  cake making.  If you know how to soak it you've won half the battle. Many people soak their fruit  for 6 months to one year ahead! Fruit that is soaked for that long will get very nice dark color. It doesn’t even need to be ground to paste because it will dissolve by itself into a thick fruit puree while mixing.
Combine raisins, currants, peel, walnuts, prunes and cherries. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Stir in ½ cup of the rum.  Soak it in a Air tight bottle and store it .
Instant method of soaking the fruit:
One day ahead, in microwaveable bowl, combine raisins, currants, peel, walnuts, prunes and cherries. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves. Stir in ½ cup of the rum. Cover and microwave at High for 10 minutes, stirring twice; let stand overnight. In large pot, bring fruit mixture and ½ cup of water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often; set aside to cool. When fruit is cool, use a hand or stand blender, or a food processor to puree the fruit with 2 Tbsp of water.

2. Cake mixing:
In large mixing bowl, beat butter with remaining brown sugar, beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add fruit mixture and browning, blending well. In another mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt; fold in fruit mixture until well combined.

3. Baking: Pre- heat the oven
 Pour batter into two greased non-stick 9×5-inch  circle or loaf pans.
Place pans into 275 degree oven for 2 hours or until tester inserted in the center comes out slightly wet.
Let cakes cool in pans for ½ hour then turn out onto cooling rack and cool for another ½ hour

4. Liquid shower:  Combine remaining rum with port to make 1 cup of liquor; poke holes in the cakes with a skewer and pour ½ cup equally over the bottom of cakes.
Once the liquor has soaked into the cakes, carefully turn them back into their pans and pour the remaining liquor over the top of each cake. Cover with foil and let stand for 3 days.

Tip:1. For the black cake,  the dark colour is obtained on how much of browning you use and how long you soak the fruit in liquor.
 2. For those of you who don't use the liquor, grape juice can be substituted.

Storage Tip: Cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and Aluminum wrap on top and store it in a air tight tin at room temperature.  It stays for up to 1 month. If the cake dries out, just pour more rum or port over it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Berry Almond salad

I dropped by at Wendy's for lunch, and was looking for some healthy options in the menu.  There, I found Berry almond chicken salad.  It was very good with the raspberry vinaigrette.  It was perfect meal in itself for me, coz it has protein from chicken and also protein from vegetable source(almonds), the goodness of berries and freshness of tomatoes...  But I felt, It was overly priced. I wonder why the healthy options are overly priced and the fat laden food is priced low. It looks like they don't want us to eat healthy... lol !!   I thought, why don't I make it at home... I replicated the recipe and here you go, you got the recipe to enjoy too...  If you have the left over barbecued  or grilled chicken or roasted chicken pieces from the Thanksgiving dinner, toss it into the salad.Vegetarians can skip the chicken. Raspberry vinaigrette kicks up the notch. It adds zing to any salad.  You can make it at home and  feed 20 people with the amount you spend outside.

Lettuce - 1 washed and torn in pieces ( romaine or iceberg can be used)
Cherry tomatoes - 5 sliced in halves
Strawberries -  washed and cut in 4 pieces
Blueberries - 1/2 cup washed
Slivered Almonds - 3 tbsp
Kraft raspberry vinaigrette - 2 tbsp for dressing
Grilled chicken  -  Optional ( Vegetarians can skip this item)

Take a salad bowl and put the lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, grilled chicken, drizzle with vinaigrette and toss.  Sprinkle  toasted and slivered almonds on top and serve.