Saturday, 10 December 2011

Feta Cheese and Herb Muffins


I love farmers' markets! Fresh fruits and veg, flowers... there is always something interesting! The one near my home is every Friday and has such a variety! Last time when we visited there was this Italian lady selling cheeses and olives! We had to stop and taste them... The item of my interest was this low fat feta cheese that she gave us for tasting! I thought it was rare to see low fat items in farmers' market!!! To my surprise there was almost no difference in the taste at all to the full fat version.
We bought olives, some low fat feta cheese and pickled red peppers that were filled with spices! We came home to realise that we had bought way too much cheese. I used it in pasta for a few dinners, as a snack for a couple of times but there was still left over! I didnt want it to sit in the fridge for even a day more! So I decided to make some savoury muffins with these!

I also wanted a chance to use my brand new ceramic muffin tray! Although I didnt have muffin liners ready to use, I browsed the internet to learn how to make muffin liners with parchment paper! Little one woke up after a nap and was busy playing... I sneaked off to make these yummy bites!
The specialty of this muffin is that there is absolutely no butter at all and I added just a glug of olive oil. As usual I made this with wholewheat flour! The cheese being low fat this makes it an absolutely perfect healthy snack - or even as an accompaniment to any of your soups!!! We had this with the evening tea - who could resist such adorable muffins until dinner time!!!

I am very excited that I am sending this recipe as an entry in Nupur's event New Year - New Dish. Nupur has such a vibrant and wonderful blog and I am so happy to participate in her event!


 This is how I made them:

Ingredients (for 6 large muffins)
  • Low fat feta cheese - about 100 grams
  • Italian herb mix - 1 tsp (Use any fresh herbs as you prefer)
  • Egg - 1
  • Wholewheat flour - 2 tbsp
  • Baking powder - 1 tsp
  • Olive oil - a good glug
  • Crushed Black pepper from the pepper mill
Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 180 deg C and prepare the muffin tray with the liners.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together the cheese, herbs, egg and the olive oil until smooth without much lumps.
  • Add crushed black pepper, flour and baking powder.
  • Give it a good mix and spoon the mix into the prepared muffin tray.
  • Bake it in the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes and until they pass the skewer test!!
  • Let them cool for a bit before taking out of the tray.
Dive in!!!!


Monday, 28 November 2011

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Palak Paneer

It feels good to be back after a long break! Things have been really tough in the past months... Health Problems, Work Pressure etc etc. But with the help of our loved ones we were able to get back on track and resume. But it is very amazing to realise how swiftly tides change!

Never mind! Life would be very bland without these I guess!


This dish was made with lots of love by R. My contribution in this was just clicking photos and gobbling it with rotis afterwards... But this was the tastiest palak paneer I HAVE EVER HAD!!!! I am not joking and I am not saying just because it was made by my darling husband! It was really really yummy!

There is something more to this dish. The spinach used in this was the Indian Spinach and not the baby spinach leaves that are meant for salad. I have made the same with the baby spinach leaves and they were not great tasting. Same goes with Paneer - I have seen that the paneer that we bought that were already cubed were not as soft as the ones in blocks. :) Dont know if this is true or if everyone else has also found this!


I know the photos are not very good... thats because we hardly had any patience particularly with the aroma that filled our home and could not resist to stop everything and start eating.. the best part of this was that my toddler son enjoyed 2 whole cubes of paneer with his roti! (that's a BIG achievement for me!!!)

Stories apart! this is how R made it!

Ingredients:

Palak (Spinach) - 2 big bunches, washed, and chopped finely
Onions - 1 big, chopped
Tomatoes - 2, chopped
Paneer - 200 grams
Green chillies - 4 (to taste)
Ginger, garlic - as usual
Panch Phoron - This is a spice mix with 5 different varieties of seeds but if you cant get it you can use the normal cumin seeds for seasoning.
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method:
  • Heat cooking oil in a deep vessel and once hot add panch phoron.
  • Add the chopped onions, chillies, ginger and garlic and cook until the onions are cooked through.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes.
  • Make a loose paste by adding the turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala with water and add it to the pan.
  • When the tomatoes are cooked and mushy, add the spinach into the pan and let it wilt.
  • Once the spinach has wilted let it cook nicely as it gives out water.
  • the water from the spinach and from the tomatoes should be enough for the whole dish to get a good consistency.
  • When the spinach looks half done (after about 15 minutes of cooking) dice the paneer into cubes and add it straight into the spinach. (Some people have a different style in that they fry the paneer pieces before adding it - We prefer it just plain)
  • Reduce the heat and cook the whole thing for about 20 minutes more or so. Let the paneer absorb all the taste and the spices in the mix.
  • Remove from heat and enjoy with rotis or jeera rice. (or just like that - like I did)
 Hmmmmm!!!! HEAVEN!!!!!! The paneer was so soft and creamy and it literally melted in the mouth.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Easter Cake Bake Event - Multigrain Coffee Cake with Chocolate Buttercream style Frosting

Probably now my facebook friends know about the Cake Bake Event at my office for which I donated a cake. The funds raised through selling the cake was given to charity. I was very happy baking this cake for such a good cause! The cake was very simple one - coffee cake - but as it was also announced that the best decorated cake will win a prize, I wanted to make it a bit more special with a frosting and some garnishings!
I was very happy that day for many reasons - 1. Mine was the only layered cake there   2. The cake was sold out - not a single piece left over    3. I got feedback from colleagues who came to my desk to say the cake tasted SO good... :) which was very encouraging...

Excuse me for the photos taken at my workdesk... I had literally no time for taking photos at home! Nevertheless I didnt want to miss capturing this cake after all the hard work... R helped me a lot in doing this.. he managed the dinner part the evening before and I had time to frost the cake and decorate it.


I wish I had a chance to take a photo of a slice! Never mind.. I can bake one again!!!

The frosting I used is a chocolate buttercream frosting but without the butter...!! I used ready-to-use Betty Crocker's chocolate buttercream frosting - made life a lot easier and guess what - it is a lot better than using actual butter as this is made with vegetable oil...

Since it was a cake bake event for Easter, I used mini chocolate easter eggs to decorate.

Here is how I made it

Ingredients:

Pillsbury 5 grain chapati flour - 1 cup
Wholegrain pastry flour - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Eggs - 2
Instant Coffee - 3 tsps (adjust based on your preference - I like strong flavors)
Dark brown sugar - 2 cups
Vegetable oil - 1/2 cup
70% less saturated fat butter - 1/2 cup

Method:

  1. Prepare cake pans - I used two 9 inch round pans. Butter/oil the sides and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C
  3. Mix the coffee granules in hot water and let it cool.
  4. Mix the flours, baking powder and keep aside.
  5. Beat the eggs, sugar, butter and oil well.
  6. Add Coffee and beat.
  7. Once well beaten, mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder)
  8. Divide the mixture into the 2 pans equally and bake them for about 30 mins or until the skewer comes out clean.
  9. Let them cool completely before proceeding.
Decorating:
  1. I applied Ina Garten's method to spread the icing AND making sure the plate remains clean when you finish the icing. Spread strips of parchment paper along the edges of the serving plate before you place the first cake on the plate.
  2. Put the even side of the first cake down and spread some frosting on the top.
  3. Cover it with the top side of the second cake (so that the even side faces up).
  4. Now that you have the regular smooth side, spread the frosting nicely over the top, and then cover the sides.
  5. Smoothen the frosting.
  6. Finish the other decorations and then pull the parchment paper outwards - Leaves the sides of the plate neat and clean...
 
I enjoyed every bit of making this cake.. It tasted so good - I know it because I had baked a small loaf too using the same batter... Above all, we felt great that this cake was baked for a noble cause. 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Buckwheat and Lentil Soup with Vegetables

Buckwheat is a wonderful grain - Easy to cook, versatile and very healthy. Since we have been trying to keep ourselves from eating rice lately this one is a great alternative in addition to bulgur and couscous. I have read many recipes by Heidi where she calls for this grain and the flour of buckwheat - but had never tried it. Last time when we went for grocery shopping I picked a pack up.

Buckwheat gets cooked perfectly in 20 minutes. So if you are looking for a quick and easy meal in one pot, then this is a good choice. With a toddler around, one of the most challenging tasks at home at present is cooking. He does not like me standing next to the hob and enjoys the act of pulling me away all the way to the sitting area - one of the many advantages of an open plan kitchen I think!!!


























Here is how to make it:

Ingredients

Buckwheat - 1 cup (dry)
Onion - 1 medium
Garlic - 3 pods
Tomato - 2 (I used 2 tbsps of canned tomato)
Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups - I used frozen mixed veg
Masoor Dal - 1 cup
Olive Oil - 2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:
  • Chop the onions and garlic really fine.
  • Heat some olive oil in a pan.
  • Fry the onion and garlic until they soften. Add some dried oregano if you prefer.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook them for a minute or so.
  • Add about 5 cups water - this should be enough to get the correct consistency but if you feel it is less or more adjust the water accordingly.
  • Add salt.
  • Wash masoor dal and add it to the water.
  • Similarly wash and add the buckwheat and vegetables.
  • Let them simmer for about 20 minutes. Check periodically to make sure there is enough water.
  • When the buckwheat is cooked and softened it is ready. 
  • You can garnish with coriander leaves if you want but I have not added it.
Enjoy the hearty warm soup. 

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Condensed Milk Biscuits - Yummy little treats!


I absolutely loved baking these! My little one is a very choosy when it comes to food (already!) and he likes biscuits and when we have tea he joins us for a little snack. I had baked ajwain (carom seeds) biscuits for him in the last months and he really liked them. We had recently bought some extra light condensed milk and had used only half tin in a kheer recipe. The remaining half was sitting in the fridge and I wanted to use it in some recipe. That was when I came up with this one, of course following a few recipes on the internet but replacing a few (actually - all) ingredients for a healthier version.


These were so yummy and my son liked them very much. I could feel very satisfied as I knew what went into it and I knew they were all healthy ingredients. It is so simple and easy to make and the whole recipe took just under 30 minutes.

Here is how I made them

Ingredients (this quantity made around 30 small biscuits)

Wholewheat flour - 2 cups
Condensed Milk - around 150 ml - I used Extra light Carnation Condensed Milk
Butter - 2 tbsp - I always use Utterly Butterly which is 70% less saturated fat.

Method


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degC.
  • Line the baking sheet with cookie paper or parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl blend the butter and condensed milk together until they turn creamy and well incorporated.
  • Add the flour and mix with a spatula.
  • Once it comes together as a uniform mixture, give a good mix with your hands.
  • Take a small amount in your palm, make it into a nice round ball and place it on the baking sheet.
  • The size depends totally on you as to how big or small you want the biscuits. 
  • Once you finish all the mixture, take a fork and press down on each cookie ball gently. 
  • Bake in the oven for about 12 - 15 minutes until the edges turn golden brown.
  • Cool completely before storing them.

A very yummy companion for your cuppa tea or coffee! Enjoy!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Extremely healthy Whole Moong Dal Salad

I havent been able to update my blog lately due to many personal engagements, appointments etc. But we have been enjoying this phase in life. Get-togethers, Short Outings, Shopping.... The little one is can walk now and he is keeping us entertained when we go out!

I made this salad for lunch. This one is very healthy as it has wholesome ingredients. I added cooked bulgur wheat but you could also use wholewheat couscous for the base. With simple ingredients which you can find most of the time in your fridge this one is an easy-breezy salad recipe which is also good for you!

This is a very good trick to use up left over moong dal too which I did. The liquid in the dal acts as a wonderful dressing so you dont need anything else! I just added some more healthy veggies and this was such a quick meal especially when you dont have energy to cook something from scratch!



Here is how I made this salad.

Ingredients

Left over moong dal - 2 cups (If you dont have this then cook moong dal and use it)
Cooked bulgur wheat or wholewheat couscous - 1 cup
Grated carrots - 1 cup
Diced cucumber - 1 cup
Chopped green olives - 1/2 cup
Diced tomatoes - 2 (remove the seeds and pulp before dicing)
Mixed fruits and nuts - a handful
Chopped coriander leaves - a handful

Dressing - Mix 2 tsps of your favourite pickle to 2 tbsps of low fat yogurt. Add a few dashes of fresh lemon juice and mix well. One of my favourite salad dressing.

Method
  • If you are not using left over dal - cook the dal and let it cool.
  • Cook bulgur wheat (takes not more than 10 minutes) or soak couscous in boiled water.
  • In the meanwhile grate carrots, dice cucumbers and tomatoes and chop those olives. You can put whatever you have handy in the cupboard in this salad. It is so versatile and lets you play around with the combinations. Chopped boiled eggs could be another good ingredient.
  • Take a large bowl and layer the veggies one by one as you chop/grate.
  • Top it with bulgur/couscous.
  • Finally add the dal and mix everything well.
  • As I said earlier - if you are using leftover dal you dont need any dressing but if you arent make the salad dressing as mentioned above.
  • Scoop this salad into bowls and top it with chopped coriander leaves and nut&fruit mix.

 Every spoonful of this salad presents a plethora of textures and taste for the palette. The crunch from the fruit and nut sprinkle adds a new dimension. A true pleasure of eating a good salad!

Enjoy!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Oven Baked Onion Pakoras


I havent been able to post any recipes in the blog for a while now! We have been busy travelling to India, my son's first birthday, return to UK and resuming work (after a year long maternity leave)... all these left us exhausted and stressed. Slowly life is returning back to normalcy and we are finding time for ourselves... Eventhough the weather is not supporting us we are finding ways to feel relaxed and cosy...

Onion pakoras are one of our favourite snacks... even the little one seems to have got those genes... :) something that we want to enjoy with evening tea when the weather outside looks horrible, wet and windy.... But I usually get put-off by the whole frying business involved in it... the most difficult part of that whole process I find is storing and using the remaining oil in the following days' cooking. After all we are talking about healthy food aren't we? So no fried food... :) but the tummies were roaring... we wanted some spicy bites very badly...

A quick browse online for some baked snacks came up with baked pakoras in many other blogs... I made little tweaks here and there... the results were amazing! so much so that my little one kept on demanding for more and more...



These are so easy to make and does not take long to bake...

Ingredients:

Besan (Chickpea flour) - 6 tbsp
Ajwain (Carom Seeds) - 1 tsp
Saunf (Fennel Seeds) - 1/2 tsp
Onions (finely chopped) - 2
Green chilli (Finely minced) - 1 (Use more if you want spicier)
Coriander leaves  - handful (mince it finely) - I didnt have any so I didnt add.
Salt - To taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp (I used Extra Virgin)
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Water - As needed

Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degC.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
  • In a mixing bowl place all the ingredients except water.
  • You have to mix the onion first with everything to see how much more water is needed.
  • Add water 1tbsp at a time, until you get a thick batter (not pourable batter, the one that can still hold it shape when scooped)
  • Place little scoopfuls onto the lined baking sheet.
  • Bake it in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
  • You will get a nice aroma and the bites will get golden brown on the outside.
  • Keep checking based on  your oven settings and once they are evenly golden brown, take one out and test (and taste!!!) before taking the whole batch out.

We enjoyed these tasty little bites with some masala chai... You could even have them with some dipping sauce or ketchup on the side.. :)