Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jalebi

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Indian desserts, to me, are hit and miss.  Jalebis are one of them.  Made wrong, the whole thing is a huge miss.  With that said, you wonder how a form of funnel cake soaked in sugar syrup could go wrong.

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I actually hated these as a child while living in India.  Once I left for the states, I missed them instantly.  A quintessential celebratory dessert, these are perfect for the holiday season or to make for a loved one for the new year.  Whatever the reason, get your stretchy pants ready.

My mother in law makes these every Christmas and this year, I decided to take a try.  I’m glad I did.  Once you get the form right, the whole process is fairly simple.  It helps to know that the batter should be a thinner pancake batter.  Also, make sure the oil is hot when frying and to soak in the sugar syrup as soon as the jalebi comes out.  If the oil isn’t hot or you wait too long to soak, you could have an oily soggy jalebi – a no no.  Also, a squeeze bottle dispenser is somewhat integral to make sure you get the right consistency in the spirals – similar to an empty mustard container or this.

 

Jalebi

adapted from my mother in law

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp chickpea (besan/gram) flour
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying

Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • a few drops of orange food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of rose water, optional

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast and lukewarm water in a large bowl (mix the two and set aside for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy).
  2. To the proofed yeast mix, add the flours and mix until all lumps are gone.
  3. Mix in yogurt, sugar and 1/2 tsp oil until you get a thin pancake batter like consistency.  You want it to flow like fast ribbons.
  4. Put the batter aside for 1 hour to set in a warm place.
  5. After setting, mix the batter again.  You will notice little air pockets like pancake batter.
  6. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
  7. While the oil is heating make the sugar syrup because you want the syrup to be warm.  Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the cardamom, food coloring, lemon juice and rose water (if using) and whisk to incorporate.  Remove from heat immediately.
  8. You can test the oil to see if it is hot enough by dropping a bit of dough in the oil.  If ready, the dough should instantly float back up without burning or getting too brown.
  9. Fill the dough into the squeeze bottle.
  10. Squeeze the batter into the oil in a spiral shape about 3-4 inches in diameter.  Work fast so that the dough doesn’t unevenly cook.
  11. Fry until golden brown and flip the jalebi if necessary to cook evenly on the other side.
  12. Once fried properly, soak in the syrup until fully soaked (about 10 seconds) and then remove.
  13. Serve hot.  Store in an airtight container, which should last you about 4 days.  But, remember, the fresher the better.

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Indian

Your Favorites of 2012

This year has been a whirlwind.  As this year, unlike any other, winds down, I’m reminded of all that’s happened here in this very little blog space.  I took some time this week to look back on all the recipes, especially those that were popular among you, my readers and friends.  Presented in ascending order or popularity, I present your favorite posts/recipes of 2012!

 

10.  Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli, and Walnuts

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9.  Dosa & Coconut Chutney

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8.  Oven Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

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7.  Summer Squash Gratin

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6.  Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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5.  Banana Cupcakes with Butterscotch Buttercream

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4.  Spinach Pesto Omelette

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3.  Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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2.  Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Chocolate Glaze

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1.  Oreo Cake with Oreo & Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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Filed under Favorites, Uncategorized

Blackened Fish Spice Blend

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…or any fish for that matter.

You’ve seen this picture before here.  This is my favorite fish dish.  Hands down.  No doubt.  We have fish at least once a week in some way shape or form.  And, when I don’t have a meal planned, and I don’t have time to put together something elaborate, I rely on this dish.

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Keeping a jar of these spices handy ensures that I never have to miss out on a full-flavored meal.  Typically, if I were to marinate a thinner fish, like tilapia, I marinade the fish dry an hour before, while I’m doing something else, and cook it on the stove with some olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes each side.

If I were to use it on a thicker fish like salmon, I mix the spices with olive oil to make a paste and rub it over the fish.  After, marinading, I bake (covered in foil) in a preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes, or until flaky.

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Blackened Fish Spices

adapted from Food Network
yields about 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed

Directions:

  1. In a jar with a lid, mix together all the spices.
  2. When ready to use, either use it dry by pressing and rubbing spices into the fish.  If using wet, mix a tbsp of spices with approximately 2 tsp of olive oil and make a thick paste.  Spread and rub into fish.  Marinade for an hour and cook to your preference.

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Filed under Fish, Main Dish, olive oil

Orange and Oat Scones

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I fear I’ve gotten in a breakfast rut.  I used to change it up with oatmeal, smoothies, omelettes, and pancakes.  These days, the fastest breakfast I can put together in the morning is toast and eggs.  And, last week, it officially got old.  Requiring something different, I ventured out and made scones.

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Unlike brunch where scones can be sweet and almost-dessert, a weekday breakfast needs to be filling, healthy and satisfying.  These scones satisfy all three criteria and the taste is sublime.  Perfectly sweet and hearty, the scones are perfect during these cold mornings alongside a cup of my favorite tea.  I had dried apricots on hand, but you can use any dried fruit you have.

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I kept them in an airtight container for the week and just toasted them every morning and the scones did not dry out for the whole week.

Orange and Oat Scones

from 101 Cookbooks
yields 8 large scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp coarse turbinado or Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, currants, cranberries, blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like little pearls.  Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats and zest. Stir in the buttermilk and apricots until just moistened.
  4. Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing.
  5. After bringing the dough together, gently pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes (see photo) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, leaving room between each scone.
  6. Sprinkle the tops with the 2 tbsp coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minute or until the bottoms are deeply golden.

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Filed under baking, Bread, Breakfast

Kale Soup with Garbanzo Beans and Potatoes

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I don’t really know what to call this soup exactly.  There is no way to shorten this soup’s name.  Oh and it’s not the nicest looking soup.  I mean my photography skills aside, its not a looker.  Let’s put aside the name and the look, and get down to the substance.  And that is where it’s at.  Looking substantively at this soup, we find a beautifully-spiced bowl filled with heart-warming elements perfect for these colder days and some sick family members, including a sick and grumpy toddler.

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Combining kale, garbanzo beans, and potatoes with light broth flavored with onions, garlic, bay leaves and rosemary adds the richness to this dish.  My husband, a huge fan of soups, gave this glowing reviews.  My sick toddler LOVES this soup, even down to the kale.  Mind you, we have to peel and halve the beans and tear apart the kale into small portions for him.  And, I, the biggest critic of brothy soups, also am a huge fan.  While I tend to go towards heartier, thicker soups, this nutritional powerhouse in a bowl has now become a family favorite.  

Kale Soup with Garbanzo Beans and Potatoes

adapted from Gourmet

yields 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried garbanzo beans (or 2 cans of drained garbanzo beans)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 5 small gold potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 1 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. In a pot, cover beans with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse.  NOTE:  If you are using canned beans, you can skip this step.
  2. In a large pot, cook onions in oil with medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about a minute.
  4. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 1 hour.  NOTE:  The cook time will be shorter (about 30-40 minutes) if you are using canned beans.
  5. Stir potatoes into soup and simmer 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in kale and remaining quart water and simmer, uncovered, until kale is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  7. Season soup with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

2 Comments

Filed under Soup, Vegan

Pecan Pie with Butter Crust

I have dreams about this pie.  Wicked dreams.  If I had to fight someone for this pie, I would.  And, if we’re talking last piece – it’s on like Donkey Kong.  No joke.  This is a serious pie.  Ever since I made this for Thanksgiving, I have been looking for reasons to make it again everyday since then.  

Oh this pie is the mac daddy of all pies and really just should have a holiday on its own.  Albeit usually seen during Thanksgiving, this pecan pie, my friends, needs a special place at your dining table.  I have held off making this pie in fear that I could not even compete with the store-bought version to which my entire family has grown accustom.  And, using a recipe that lacked corn syrup really made me nervous that people wouldn’t have the nostalgia of the ‘typical’ pecan pie.  Luckily I’m dead wrong and I will be making all pies for all future pie holidays.

Also, it’s not a looker per se, but it’s all substance.  Don’t judge this pie by my evidently rushed pie crust formation.

Oh, and the crust.  It’s the only time that flakey can be a marvelous thing.  It has taken me a while to develop this pie crust and I can say that I’m so happy with it that I declare (yes, declare) that I’ve done it.  Perfectly flakey and light without being too weak to hold oodles of golden brown sugar and toasted pecans.

Pecan Pie

yields 8 servings

Filling adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp half and half
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans and 1/4 cup whole pecans for decorations
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust, recipe below

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter.  Add in the brown sugar, white sugar and flour, and mix well.
  3. Finally, add the half and half, vanilla and nuts.
  4. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.  Top with pecans for decoration, if using.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Then, reduce temperature of oven to 300F and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Pie Crust

yields one 9-inch crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes – keep it chilled
  • 4 tbsp ice water

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl.  Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea sized pieces of butter.  Pour the water over the mixture and using a fork until the mixture comes together into a ball.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  You can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.
  3. Roll out the dough, and place in a pie plate.  Fill and bake.

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Filed under Desserts, Holiday, Pie