Saturday, April 12, 2014

Salt & Caviar on my Mind!

Salt & Caviar on my Mind






I recently discovered the amazing world of "salt". I know this sounds crazy considering I have been using salt in cooking forever now. But this is not your everyday salt I am referring to, but flavored salts that can take simple everyday foods from Yah that's Good to Oh My God, I am in Heaven :D

After having used these new found salts, I am finding it almost impossible to go back to plain old salt!

Ghost Pepper Salt (SUPER spicy so use sparingly). Paired well with avocado & mango

White Truffle salt. Paired very well with baked baby potatoes

Gray salt with Seaweed. Paired with grilled eggplant & pears

Murray River Pink Salt. Paired with the baked baby potatoes & drilled eggplant

Expresso Salt. Paired excellently with caramel ice cream as well as with lavender ice cream.



Given our dinner was already so decadent, I added caviar to the menu. The black caviar was served on boiled quail egg while the red caviar was served with home made bread with some sour cream on top.

All these go perfectly with a good champagne or mimosa :D

Enjoy !

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mothers Day!







My sister got us some fantastic chocolate from the land of love, France!!!! This one is a sweet treat for all the hard working moms out there.

Hope everyone gets some rest and TLC :D

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mango-Chocolate Mousse with Vodka





I promised to post this recipe soon, but that soon didn't come soon enough. Thanks S for motivating me to post this. Do let me know how it turns out!

This is not your typical mousse recipe, but I liked that it was light and of course full of that great mango flavor. I also spiked it with Vodka and chocolate. For those who remember I made it for Holi along with the now infamous Gol Guppa shots (hic hic!).

Mango-Chocolate Mousse with Vodka Recipe

Ingredients

1. 2 cups Mango Puree (I used the Desai Bandhu Alphonso mango pulp.)
2. 1/3 cup powdered sugar
3. 1 cup Plain yogurt (I used full fat)
4. 1 cup heavy cream
5. 1 oz packet unflavored gelatin
6. 1/4 cup vodka (optional)
7. 1 cup chopped good quality dark chocolate
8. Handful of coco nibs or chocolate shavings for garnish

Method

1. In a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water. Let it soften for a minute, and heat the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved.

2. In a blender blend together the mango puree and sugar. Add the gelatin mixture, and blend well.

3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the yogurt and vodka.

4. Add some vodka to the chopped dark chocolate and melt the chocolate (making sure it does not burn). You could even just melt the chocolate-vodka mix in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate at the bottom of your dessert/serving glass. Swirl some of the chocolate mix on the sides of the glass as well.

5. In a chilled bowl beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks, fold it into the mango mixture gently but thoroughly, and pour the mousse in the chocolate swirled dessert glasses.

6. Chill the mousse for at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Garnish the mousse with the coco nibs or with mint and mango slices.

The Vodka and chocolate can easily be omitted to make a pure mango mousse. combine. However, I liked the bitterness of the chocolate and vodka that tied in well with the sweetness of the mango pulp. Not to mention the chocolate swirl on the glass made it look even more appealing!



I am sending this chocolate laden treat to Tasty Treats' For the Love of Chocolate event! Given my chocoholic nature, I can't wait to see the entries for this one!

Enjoy :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring Watermelon-Papaya Salad

I want some now!



Living in California, we are extremely spoiled by great weather. Last week we all complained when the temperature reached 94 degrees saying this was way too hot. 2 days later, we all started complaining about how cold it was when the temperature dropped to a shocking 75 degrees :D.. Oh well, I guess after paying those extremely high home prices/rents/taxes, that's the least we can do eh :P

I for one am thoroughly enjoying the warm spring weather this year! It surely was time to cool it off with a refreshing watermelon-papaya salad which I have blogged about earlier. You can get the detailed recipe here.

Given that nothing speaks Spring like a Crisp Watermelon Salad, I am sending this to Bee & Jai's Click:Spring/Autumn event.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pani Puri shots, Mango Chocolate Mousse & Wood

Pani Puri Shots, Mango Mousse and Wood !




Ok, now that's an odd combination if I saw one!! What are these three things doing together I wonder. Well, I made Pani Puri shots & the Mango Mousse for Holi recently, and wood...well that's the theme of this month's click photography event hosted by Jai & Bee. Ok wait, before I go far ahead with this, what are pani puri shots anyhow? I have been asked that question several times these last few weeks (maybe it was those drunken pics post the shots my friends saw;). Pani puri shots are your regular gol guppas but with a punch....the punch being vodka, gin, tequila...you get the drift ;).

The other thing I made for Holi this year was a quick Mango Mousse also spiked with Vodka...well it was Holi with the song Rang Barse blaring away in the background..what can I say :D the Mango Mousse with a chocolate bottom turned out pretty good...or maybe after all that Vodka, everything just seemed to taste g8 :D...either ways let me know if you make any of these and hopefully are less drunk than I was to tell what you really think of them :D

I was planning on submitting this photo to Jai & Bee's fantastic photography event, but alas just realized that I was too late :(...
When I took this pic, I thought oh this came out nicely..but then went on to their site to look at the current entries and was blown away....its hard to believe so many of the entries are by amateur photographers! Check out the dynamic duo behind this event if you haven't already done so!

Pani Puri/Gol Guppa Shots Recipe
Ingredients:

1. 1 pack store bought pani puri puris. There are some folks who make the puris at home which I think would be healthier..but wait who said these were meant to be healthy ;). You can see find home made puri recipes here and here
For the Pani/Tangy Spicy Water
1. 3 tbsp Tamarind Pulp (you can make this by soaking tamarind in warm water for 1-2 hours or even overnight)
2. 4 cups cold water (add more of needed)
3. 1 cup mint (pudina) leaves
4. 3-4 green chilies (adjust to taste)
5. 3 tbsp lemon juice
6. 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
7. 1 tbsp Jeera (roasted cumin) powder
8. 1 tbsp jaggery (adjust to taste)
9. 1/2 tsp black pepper
10. 1 packet salted boondi
11. Vodka, tequila and gin (you can also do JUST vodka..i kind of like the variety with the shots)

Method
1. Blend everything except the water together to make a fine paste. While blending, add water as needed
2. Strain the paste by adding some water if needed
3. Mix the paste with remaining water
4. Add more lemon juice, chili, jaggery or salt as needed. For example I like my water very spicy, but my husband likes his very very sweet...so we make 2 batches of it based on our tastes :)
5. Just half an hour before eating, add the salted boondi to the water
6. Fill 3/4th of the shot glasses with the spicy water. Top it off with the alcohol of your choice namely vodka, tequila, gin. If you like yours stronger, by all means feel free to add more alcohol!

Enjoy..hic hic

I will post the Mango Chocolate Recipe soon..I promise :). For now am off to Vegas for a conference..aah more chocolate and food indulgence!!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Caribbean Spice Stuffed Chicken

Caribbean Spice Stuffed Chicken




When Meeta called for a Caribbean dish for her Monthly Mingle, I had to participate, moreso as it gave me an opportunity to try out a dish from the land of one of my favorite bloggers, Cynthia of Tastes Like Home!!

I have always been fascinated by the whole/rotisserie chicken on display in restaurants, streets of China town, and now in countless stores like Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco and the like. It seemed daunting to be able cook an entire chicken in your own kitchen! And what does one do with so much chicken I wondered. Oh well, try one must, so I decided to take the plunge, and am thrilled I did. So what if it took 2 days and a whole lot of friends to help finish the chicken...all seems justified in the world of culinary pursuits :D

Actually now that I think of it, making whole chicken and then using it in a sandwich, biryani, taco or pasta is a GREAT money and time saving tip! And in these crazy economic times, this is a fantastic way of pushing the $$s further!

The chicken came out perfect....moist yet crispy, and oh so tasty! I followed this recipe pretty closely, with the exception that I stuffed the chicken with wild rice and potatoes to make it a more wholesome meal.

Ingredients
1. 1 (3 pound) whole chicken
2. 1 tbsp olive oil
3. 1/2 tsp ground ginger
4. 1 tbsp brown sugar
5. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6. 1/4 tsp ground clove
7. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
8 tsp black pepper
9. 1/2 tsp salt
10. 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
11. 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
12. 2 ounces rum
13. 2 cups pre-cooked wild rice (optional). I get my wild rice from Trader Joe's
14. 1 cup potatoes (optional), diced and pre-cooked
15. 6 lemon slices for the garnish (optional)
16. 7-8 grapes for the garnish (optional)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, rum, and brown sugar; set aside. Mix together the cayenne pepper, clove, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, salt, and thyme leaves.

3. Remove and discard giblets and neck from the chicken and trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen the skin from breasts and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.

4. Rub the Caribbean spice mix under the loosened skin and over breasts and drumsticks. Stuff the rice and potato mixture in chicken cavity. Tie the ends of the legs together with twine. Lift the wing tips up and over back and tuck them under chicken. Place chicken, breast side up, on a roasting pan coated with cooking spray

5. Place the pan in the oven for about 90 minutes, until the juices run clear or until a meat thermometer inserted in center of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

6. Garnish with fresh thyme, grapes and lemon slices

Tip: Baste the chicken with the sauce every 20 minutes while it's cooking

Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella


Paella almost ready



Going, going gone!


I have taken the longest blogging break it feels like. As mentioned in my last post, I barely cooked much last year owing to my pregnancy. But now that I am back, seems like am on a wild cooking spree!

I recently met a friend for some tasty dimsum. And post dimsum what do I see next door...a Ranch 99! Being right there, I had to go in and get me some clams n shrimp without a real plan for the clams (isn't that always the case!).

Last week I decided to put those clams to good use with some seafood Paella. Paella is a great dish to make for a number of reasons. Firstly how can you go wrong with shrimp, clams, sausage, chicken and wine :D Moreover, its a complete 1 pan dish, which makes cleanup a snap! I used Tyler Florence's Ultimate Paella Recipe, but modified it based on my friend M's super useful tips n tricks and used ingredients that are easier to find :).

Seafood Paella Recipe
Ingredients
1. 3-pound chicken breast, cut into pieces
2. Smoked Andouille sausages, sliced thick. The original recipe calls for Chorizo sausages sliced thin. I did not find chorizo sausages at Trader Joe's, so picked up the andouille sausage instead and it tasted great! Also, I like my sausage pieces to be chunky vs thinly sliced.
3. 1 dozen littleneck clams, cleaned
4. 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
5. 1 cup red and green bell pepper, diced
6. 1 onion, diced
7. 4 garlic cloves, crushed
8. Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
9. 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed. You could also just boil 5-6 tomatoes, peel and dice them finely.
10. 4 cups short grain Spanish rice. I got mine from Whole Foods in the specialty foods aisle.
11. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12. Salt and freshly ground pepper
13. 6 cups chicken stock. You could also just use warm water instead
14. 2 tsp oregano
15. 1 cup white wine (optional)
16. Generous pinch saffron threads
17. 2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
18. Lemon wedges, for serving

Special equipment:
1. Large paella pan or wide shallow skillet. I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond for $19.99 and it worked perfectly. Will surely be using it for a long time to come!

Method
1. Rub smoked paprika, salt, pepper, oregano and oil mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2. Do the same thing (Rub smoked paprika, oregano, salt, pepper and oil mix) all over the shrimp and marinate for an hour in the refrigerator.

3. Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the sausage until browned, remove and keep aside. Add chicken, and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and keep aside. Add the shrimp, and remove when it changes color to a pinkish shade or even slightly browned. Remove from pan. Lastly sautee the bell pepper for 2 minutes and remove.

4. In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld.

5. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid.

6. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook.

7. Add some white wine (optional) for flavor

8. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes.

9. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the red pepper flakes and saffron strands. I add the pepper flakes to add some zing to my paella.
When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it's perfect.

Tyler's note: The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat.

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

And really that's it! Enjoy :)