Friday, December 28, 2012

Valrhona chocolate brownies

This is a really good recipe for dense decadent chocolate brownies. Valrhona is my favorite cocoa in the world.  These brownies will be really good paired with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup to make a sundae! Would also be good paired with some raspberries.  It makes a tray -- 9x13x4 inch glass or baking dish

Ingredients for a full tray
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 cup white sugar (as a variation next time, I will use 1/2 cup white and 1 cup brown sugar to make it not so sweet)
4 brown eggs
1 cup self-rising flour (or if you want to use regular flour you can use 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 tsp baking powder)
1/3 cup + 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona is the best cocoa but you can use a different brand too)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and lightly flour a 9X13 inch baking pan.
2) In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, and mix well.
3) In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and salt. Stir into the sugar mixture.
4) Mix in the vanilla and stir in walnuts if desired. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
5) Bake for 25-35 mins based on your oven until edges are firm.  Mine was best at 34 minutes.
6) Cool before cutting into squares. Use the chop and scoop gadget to cut & scoop brownies from the glass baking dish -- it works really well.

New York Cheesecake Cookies

These are some new cookies I decided to make this year. I saw them on food network -- it was a special where different chefs were talking about their favorite cookies. Sandra Lee talked about these and I got the recipe from her. They are like mini-cheese cakes and really yummy!

1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (1 sleeve or use Keebler's readymade crushed graham crackers in a box!)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2) In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder
3) In a medium bowl, beat together the butter with the brown sugar using an electric hand mixer. Add the egg white and beat until well combined. Add to the graham cracker crumbs and blend until just combined.
4) In a separate medium bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese with the granulated sugar, egg yolk, lemon zest and vanilla until well combined. Set aside.
5) Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the cookie dough and place on a nonstick or parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly, pressing your thumb in the center of the ball to create a small bowl shape. Repeat with the remaining dough. Spoon the cream cheese into the indents in the cookies.
I actually made tiny balls (same as if you were making meat balls) and flattened it a little bit with my palm. Then I created indents with my thumb.  The cookie tends to crumble but it's ok, it does fine when baked. I created about 16 cookies.
6) Bake until the filling is barely set and the cookies are lightly golden, 12 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets before removing them and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Tadka Dal (Lentils)

This dish is probably the most common dish made in every household in India. There are many types and preparations of dal. Here is a recipe for one of my favorites.  Dal is usually enjoyed with chapati/phulkas (flat wheat tortillas) or with steamed rice.

1 cup mixed dal/lentils (orange and yellow)
1 - 2 fresh tomato (or 1/2 canned)
1 small onion chopped

Tadka or Spiced Mix:
Canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1 or 2 dried red chilli (and/or green chilli)
3 to 4 curry leaves
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
(Ginger or garlic are optional)
Cilantro, for garnish

1) Boil 1 cup of mixed daal (I used a mix of orange masoor, yellow toor) in 2 cups of filtered water.  Add some salt.  As soon as it comes to a boil, remove the foam from the top with a spoon.  It will prevent the constant overflow and give a nicer look to the finished product. Boil for around 20 minutes or until pasty.
2)  In another non-stick deep pan, start the tadka with oil, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, red chilli, and curry leaves. Add the turmeric, coriander powder, red chilli. Sautee for a minute. Add tomatoes and onions.
3) When this masala is ready, add the boiled dal.  Let the whole mixture boil for 15 minutes. Make sure there is enough water. Top with cilantro garnish. Serve with steamed rice.

Spinach Lentils(Palak Dal) Option: To the boiling dal, add 1/2 bag spinach (stems removed). Increase water by half cup.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chicken and White Bean Chili (toddler-friendly collection)

I got this recipe from good housekeeping -- the article was called 'drop 5 lbs with good housekeeping recipes'.  This dish gives you 8 large servings -- each serving has only 370 calories, 18 g total fat and protein 25g. Its a very healthy meal option but also really tasty and toddler friendly!

2 pounds ground chicken
4 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 bay leafs
1 small medium red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
cumin 1/4 tsp is optional
Two 15 to 19-ounce cans white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
One 16-ounce jar mild salsa verde (green)
Swanson reduced-sodium chicken broth - 16 ounces or more is necessary (I usually buy 32 Oz of broth and end up using three fourths of that container because I like it soupy)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

1) In a large dutch oven (or other heave bottom pot), add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and saute chicken till cooked. Season with salt and pepper as you cook. Break up the chicken so it doesn't clump.
2) Place chicken aside in a bowl.  Often, I set aside 2 cups of the cooked chicken and use it for tacos because I like having less meat in the chilli but you can adjust as you like.
3) In the same dutch oven, add rest of oil (2 teaspoons). Heat and saute garlic till it sizzles. Add bay leaf, onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add Oregano, cayenne pepper and cumin.  Next add the jar of Salsa Verde followed by the beans and chicken stock
4) Add the chicken, cover and cook on high until boiling. Then lower and cook for 20 minutes.
5) Sprinkle cilantro at the end

This is delicious and was enjoyed by Tashi, Margaret and Cyla!

Mahi Mahi Kerala Fish Fry

The credit for this recipe goes to Sara, my friend who mentioned it to me one day on the phone and asked me to try it.  It is really delicious and I've tried it with different types of fish. I think Mahi is a better firmer fist for this dish. It is delicious!!

Mahi Mahi (frozen 2 packs)

Tempering spices:
Curry leaves
Mustard Seeds

Marinade (Mix the below in a small food processor):
Canola oil (2 tsp)
Cilantro - small handfull
Green chilli - 2 small thai chilli or 1 jalapeno
Turmeric 1 tsp
Chilli powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1.5 tsp
Ginger garlic paste (in grinder) - 2 tablespoons

1) Create marinade in a small food processor
2) Dry the fish with paper towel and start coating the fish. Sprinkle all purpose flour (2 tsp) as you go so that the marinade sticks to the fish
3) Keep for 15 to 20 minutes (or overnight)
4) Heat very little oil in a small non-stick. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves until splatter
5) Add the fish. cook on each side until masala burns
6) Cover and cook for 5 minutes. During this time, cut fish in center to see if done