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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flaxy Peach Milkshake

Truth be told, I don't crave for summers and especially when 80 - 90 deg F weather is thrown at me, a freezing winter season seems like a better option.Though I come from a tropical country, I grew up in 'garden city' of India during pre pollution era (compared to now) and relatively when it was cooler. And so, a 60 - 70 deg F weather sounds perfect and very ideal. When the mercury levels start raising, my patience/energy levels decrease somehow.
This summer has been bad, I should say. The whole nation has been engulfed by heat wave for the past weeks. I have not endured this many 90 deg days in a single summer in Chicagoland as far as I recall. I know it has been worst in the other parts where the relentless heat has been scorching lands causing droughts and setting up new heat records. Some are continuously dealing with three digit numbers. When all that considered, our area seems slightly better. At least each weekly forecast is featuring a few thunderstorms.
A couple of weeks ago, a relative girl who follows my blog had asked me to post some smoothies / shakes recipes. A fair request indeed considering the fact that she lives on the east coast. I could not post earlier because I was tied up with marathon posts and so planning to post at least a couple of them for her, this week.
Deepthi, here you go. This pleasing peach milkshake is for you. For an healthier punch, I added some flax seed meal and that is entirely optional.

Ingredients for 4 generous servings:
4 peaches
2 Tbsp flax seed powder (optional)
2.5 - 3 cups cold milk
Sweetener to taste - (Agave nectar / honey / sugar / any other sugar substitute)

Peel the peaches and remove the seeds. Blend the prepared fruit, milk, flax seed meal and sweetener to a puree and serve with some crushed ice if desired.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sweet - Tart Cowpeas / Alasandala Pulusu

Today is the last day of BM#7 and I am here with a recipe adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries.
I use red chori beans frequently in my kitchen and my MIL's red chori bean - eggplant preparation is one of our favorite dishes. When I noticed several recipes using this bean in Iyer's cookbook, I was fascinated and copied down the recipes (only the list of ingredients to be precise) to try later. And today's post happens to be one of them. A delicious, hearty, sweet- tangy dal that goes well with rice / rotis.

Ingredients: (4 Servings)
1/2 cup cowpeas / red chori beans
3 - 4 Tbsp peanuts - toasted and ground
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 -4 green chillies (I used Serrano peppers.)
Pinch of asafoetida
Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
 2- 3 Tbsp tamarind juice or to taste
Jaggery to taste
Salt to taste

* Cook chori beans until soft adding plenty of water in a pressure cooker. Once the valve pressure is gone, remove the beans and drain the water used to cook. Wash the beans thoroughly. If you prefer a gravy, 1/4 of the cooked beans can be pureed.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. When mustard seeds start to pop, add green chillies and turmeric powder. Fry for about 30 seconds.
* Then add the cooked beans (and puree if using), peanut powder, jaggery, salt and tamarind. Add water if needed, to bring it to a desired consistency. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Lower the heat, simmer for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove.

For those of you who missed any of my posts in this marathon, here is a recap.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vermicelli Dosas

Today's recipe comes from a Telugu cookbook named "Vegetarian Vantalu" by Smt. Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani, one of the famous female Telugu novelists. The book is divided into chapters, covering all the topics ranging from soups, salads to pickle making. As the name indicates, it gives prominence to vegetarian style cooking and is really a great gift to novice cooks.
Vermicelli dosas are no grind / ferment dosas that can be served for breakfast or as an evening snack. Soaking the vermicelli for about an hour in buttermilk makes it kind of mushy and one can hardly guess that dosas are made with vermicelli. These lacy thin, crisp dosas taste fabulous along with a chutney / spicy pickle.

Ingredients: (For 10 Dosas)
1/2 cup vermicelli / semya
1 cup buttermilk / majjiga (or whisk the yogurt adding water)
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup water
1 big onion, finely minced
2 green chillies, finely minced
Minced cilantro
Oil to fry dosas

* Soak vermicelli in buttermilk for about an hour.
* Add rice flour and enough water to the soaked vermicelli to form a lump free, thin batter (like rava dosa batter). Or a thick batter can  be prepared adding less water. Mix onion, chillies and cilantro to the batter.
* Heat a griddle / non stick shallow pan. When it is hot enough, pour a ladleful of batter on the griddle. Start pouring the batter from outside circle of the griddle. You can not spread with the back of the ladle if using a thinner batter. It will spread on it's own and fill any gaps in the middle with dosa batter. Pour about half a tsp of oil around the edges of dosa and let it cook on medium flame. When the dosa turns browner (the side closer to the griddle), flip it and again pour another 1/2 tsp oil around the edges and let it cook for a minute and remove it.
Repeat the same with the remaining batter.

Today, I made triangle shaped vermicelli dosas.

This is my Day 6 post in BM#7 and check what my fellow marathoners are cooking today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Imli Aloo

Today's experiment from the book was supposed to be a dish from the Eastern parts of India. I thought I would give an Assamese dish a try since the state's cuisine is an unknown territory to me. However, in the midst of cooking, I realized that 10 baby potatoes + a tomato + a red chilli = bland, baby food in my world and had to shift my focus to this imli aloo from "Pure and Simple". This super spicy, tangy aloo preparation is my kind of dish J and was fabulous with both rice and rotis.

6 large sized potatoes - peeled, cubed and boiled
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) 
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
1/4 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
3 or 4 red chillies
A pinch of asafoetida
1 Tbsp tamarind juice
Chili powder or to taste
Salt to taste
Garam masala to taste
Coriander powder to taste
Chat masala + Mint powder* (I did not use them.)
Minced cilantro for garnish

* I think the dish would be super spicy if we went along with the directions. The quantities mentioned in the book are
3 tsp coriander powder + 4 dried red chillies + 1 tsp chili powder + 1/2 tsp garam masala + 1/2 tsp chat masala + 1/2 tsp mint powder

* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, dried chillies and asafoetida. When the seeds start to brown, add tamarind water. Add potatoes and mix well.
* Then add all the spice powders and salt. Cook on low flame for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

This is my Day 5 post in BM#7 and Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking.

This goes to Akila's "Dish name starts with I".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Black Pepper - Cashew Rice

My "cooking from a cookbook" themed, Day 4 post of BM#7 comes from "Healthy South Indian Cooking", co authored by Alamelu Vairavan and her American neighbor for the past two decades, Patricia Marquardt. When I was looking for cookbooks in my local library, this book caught my husband's attention for the word 'South Indian" and we borrowed it. J This book has a very good collection of South Indian style recipes, especially the ones belonging to Chettinad cuisine. Some of them are very new to me and I can't wait to try them.
Being a South Indian, rice is a staple dish in my home and I am on a lookout for new rice dishes. For the same reason and the simplicity of it, I tried this savory black pepper - cashew rice. The authors mention that it goes well with both vegetable and meat dishes or raitas. However I served it with plain raita since it was spicy enough on it's own.

1 cup rice (I used Sona masuri rice. Basmati variety can be substituted.)
For tadka: 2 Tbsp oil / ghee, 1 tsp urad dal (split black gram), 1 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves and 1 dried red chilli, broken into bits
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp pepper powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 cup dry toasted cashews
Salt to taste

Wash the rice and cook adding 2 cups of water. Let cool to keep the grains separated.
Heat oil in a pan and add the tadka ingredients. When mustard seeds start to pop, add chopped onion. When onion turns translucent, add pepper and cumin powders, salt and cashews. Mix well.

Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chole Panjim

Chole Panjim adapted from: Gourmet Indian in Minutes

Is anyone familiar with Chole Panjim? I wasn't until I saw the recipe in the above mentioned cookbook. Punjabi style chole is so popular in Indian subcontinent that it needs no introduction. Similar with pindi chana but chole panjim is somewhat unknown I should say. This Goan chole recipe is no way related to the standard chole served at North Indian homes / Indian restaurants worldwide. This colorful dish uses some of the common ingredients of the local cuisine such as the coconut and chillies, replacing the spices of a Punjabi chole preparation. I should say I fell in love with this dish more than the standard chole because of the familiar ingredients and flavors. J A 'must try' for chole / chana lovers.
And for people who are not familiar with Indian geography, Panaji / Panjim is the capital of the Indian state Goa.

Ingredients: (3 - 4 servings)
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp ginger - garlic paste (I omitted garlic.)
1/4 cup grated, dried coconut (unsweetened)
6 dried, very red chillies (I used Byadagi variety.)
1 tsp garam masala (I sprinkled a little at the end and did not use the whole quantity.)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 big onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped (optional and was not part of the recipe.)
2 cups canned / cooked chickpeas
Salt to taste
Minced cilantro to garnish

* Heat a Tbsp of oil in a pan and add ginger (and garlic if using). Sauté for a few seconds and then add the red chillies and coconut. Fry on low flame until the coconut browns. Turn off the stove and let cool. Grind this fried mixture and garam masala (if using now) to a fine paste adding required water.
* Heat 2 Tbsp oil in another pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add the chopped onion and fry until translucent. Then add the tomato and cook until mushy.
* Next add the ground paste, cooked chickpeas and salt to the onion - tomato mixture. Add water if needed and bring it to a rolling boil. * Garnish with cilantro and serve with some warm rotis.

Chole Panjim is my "Cooking from Cookbooks" themed, Day 3 post of BM #7. Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Easy Lime Cookies

Easy lime cookies are my "Cooking from Cookbooks" themed, Day 2 post of BM #7. Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking.

These yummy and crispy cookies come from Anjum's New Indian. Honestly until I saw this book in my local library, I didn't know who Anjum Anand was. A few months back, I picked this book randomly for the beautiful images inside and the gorgeous lady on the cover. J I was really surprised to see some regular, easy fare also being featured along with a wide array of mouthwatering dishes in this cookbook. I had copied a couple of recipes that had really caught my attention to try later and these easy and addictive lime cookies are one among those.
These cookies are perfect teatime snack and are known as sweet rotis. They are traditionally cooked in a frying pan on the stove top, owing to the absence of ovens in Indian kitchens. She has provided both oven and stovetop versions. I tried the oven version and shaped the cookies thicker. Vanilla essence can easily replace the lime / lemon zest in the recipe or some colored icing or sugar can be used to decorate. These short and crumbly biscuits become crisp as they cool.

Ingredients: (For 8 cookies)
1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (or powdered sugar)
3 - 4 Tbsp melted butter / ghee
1 tsp lime/lemon zest
8 pistachios, skinned and sliced (optional)

Oven Method:
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
* Mix together flour, sugar, ghee / butter and the zest and work the dough until it comes together. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Flatten each ball into discs as thin as possible, in your palms. Or roll the dough and shape using cookie cutters. Sprinkle the sliced nuts on top.
* Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until coloring on the edges. Remove and cool.

Stovetop Method:
I did not try this method but mentioning it for those interested. Place the flattened dough discs in a cold, nonstick frying pan and sprinkle sliced nuts / dried coconut flakes / lime sugar* if using. Cook over low heat until the base is golden, about 7 -8 minutes. Carefully flip the cookies and cook for about 4 minutes, over very low heat so that the tops do not color.
In stove top method, cookies can be done in batches. Try fitting as many discs as your pan holds.
* See notes

1. The original recipe uses 2 Tbsp of butter and I couldn't shape the cookies using that quantity. Next time I will try with 2 tbsp of butter plus some milk for shaping.
2. I skipped the following two steps from the original recipe while I prepared this batch of cookies.
a). Sprinkling lime sugar on top. * 1 tsp superfine sugar + 3/4 tsp lime zest is pounded and sprinkled before baking.
b). Also unsweetened dried coconut flakes can be sprinkled on top.
3. The original recipe mentions to bake for 10 minutes and my cookies were still soft by that time. I had to bake five minutes longer. Once cool, these cookies turn crisp. 

These go to "Only Baked" event at Tamalapaku, an event originally started by Pari.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Magori Palak Ki Kadhi

Second week of blogging marathon # 7 starts from today. I have been participating in Srivalli's marathons for the last six sessions and I am guessing that by now, my regular readers must have become familiar with the concept of blogging marathon. For the uninitiated here we go. Each participant has to pick a theme among several given choices and cook seven different dishes during the week, adhering to the selected theme. Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking today.
I chose to go with "Cooking from Cookbooks" this week and the first recipe is going to be from Vidhu Mittal's "Pure and Simple". It is an Indian vegetarian cookbook that justifies it's title. An excellent one for both novice and experienced cooks with crisp illustrations and simple cooking methods. One of my recent favorite cookbooks, I would say.
The first thing I tried from this cookbook happens to be this magori - palak kadhi. I had prepared a batch of mangodis / mangoris / magoris last summer and was looking for ways to use them. My first trial nimona was a hit and so when I happened to see this kadhi recipe, I immediately gave it a try. The dried moongdal dumplings are cooked in spinach and slightly tangy yogurt base and as expected, it tasted wonderful. It is a great side dish for rotis.

1/2 cup magoris
1 cup fresh / frozen chopped spinach
1 cup yogurt (sour one is best.)
2 Tbsp gram flour / besan
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
One inch piece of ginger
2 - 3 Green chillies (Serrano peppers)
Salt to taste
1/4 cup of oil to deep fry
For tadka/seasoning 1:
2 tsp of oil / ghee, 1 tsp cumin seeds and a pinch of asafoetida
For tadka / seasoning 2:
2 tsp oil / butter, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp chili powder and a pinch asofoetida

* Heat 1/4 cup oil in a small frying pan and deep fry mangoris in medium hot oil until light golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on absorbent towel. Crush them lightly and keep them aside.
* Grind ginger and chillies to paste adding little water if needed.
* Sieve the gram flour.
* Heat 2 tsp of oil in a small pressure cooker and add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Then add fried and crushed magori, spinach, turmeric powder and a little water to it and cook to 1 whistle.
* Whisk together yogurt, gram flour, ginger - chillie paste along with enough with water to make a pourng consistency.
* When the valve pressure is gone, remove the lid. Add the yogurt mixture, salt and water as needed. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. You have to keep stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Don't let the yogurt curdle. Simply whisk the sauce if it happens.
* Heat the other 2 tsp oil and add cumin seeds, chili powder and asafoetida. When cumin seeds start to turn brown, remove the tadka and pour over the kadhi.

Magoris / Mangodis are prepared by soaking and grinding moong dal. The ground dal is shaped into small dumplings and then dried in hot sun. The dried mangodis are then stored in airtight containers for later use.
Check here for a detailed recipe.

This goes to Sonu's "Flavors of Rajasthan", an event originally started by Nayna.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eggless, Microwave Cake Under 15 Minutes

I am here today with an easy and quick eggless cake for the final day of this BM#7. I don't recall the recipe source now but this has been in my folder for more than a decade. This cake had caught my attention because it was eggless, quick and the title had a 'spongy' tag. I tried this twice so far and as the recipe claims, it is a pretty quick one that can be prepared in a microwave. The cake would be ready by the time a convection oven gets pre heated. And texture wise, it falls between a cake and bread and is not very moist / spongy as it claims. However, it does not disappoint and a pretty decent one for "under 5 minutes effort" I would say. This is the recipe I have come up with after a few modifications to the original recipe.

1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour / maida
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup butter / oil
2 big sized bananas (about 1 cup banana puree)
1/2 cup milk

* Sieve the flour, baking soda and baking powder twice.
* Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well to form a batter of pouring consistency.

* Pour the batter into a greased microwave safe bowl. Bake in the microwave on HIGH for about 10 minutes.
* Cool the cake, invert, cut into slices and serve warm.

1. I use a 1.75 quart / 1.65 litre bowl (that holds about 6 cups) and is a perfect one for this cake.
2. The recipe uses only the sweetness from the condensed milk and does not require extra sugar.
3. Other fruits can be substituted for banana.

Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking. today. And if you have missed any of my "Microwave Cooking" posts during this week of blogging marathon, here is the list.
1. Pear Jam
2. Eggless Brownie Under 2 Minutes 
3. Chocolate Popcorn Trail Mix
4. Danedar Dal
5. Carrot Halwa
6. Vermicelli - Coconut Upma

This is on it's way to "Only Baked" event at Tamalapaku, an event originally started by Pari.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vermicelli - Coconut Upma / Semya - Kobbari Upma ~ Microwave Version

Vermicelli - coconut upma is a regular one in my mother's kitchen as my father won't touch onion and a rarity in my kitchen as M won't touch coconut. J I love this version of upma my mother prepares because it is simple, quick and tastes delicious with the addition of a generous amount of sweet coconut and aromatic cilantro. Just drizzle a spoonful of ghee at the end for a yummy upma that can be served as a breakfast or an evening snack. Today I am posting microwave version of this upma for BM#7. Check what other marathoners are cooking today.
Here is another version of vermicelli upma that I prepare regularly.

Ingredients for 2 - 3 servings:
1 cup vermicelli (I used pre roasted variety.)
1/2 cup fresh / frozen grated coconut
1.5 cup water
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
For tadka: 3 - 4 tsp oil / ghee, 1 tsp chana dal, 1 tsp urad dal / skinned black gram, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 3 green chillies chopped fine (or to taste) and few curry leaves
Minced cilantro for garnish

* Add oil to a microwave safe bowl, and heat it in the microwave. Next add the dals, mustard and cumin seeds. When dals start turning reddish, add the chillies and curry leaves. Fry them for about 30 seconds or so.
* Next add the water, turmeric powder, salt and the coconut. Bring the water to a rolling boil. It would take around 3 - 4 minutes for this step.
* Next add the vermicelli and mix well. Cover and cook until vermicelli is done, about 8 - 10 minutes. Don't forget to stir in between.
* Garnish with minced cilantro and fresh coconut if desired.

If not using roasted vermicelli, toast the vermicelli until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carrot Halwa / Gajar Ka Halwa ~ Microwave Version

I must say that this "Microwave Cooking" theme of BM#7 has been the easiest one among the lot I tried so far in the various blogging marathons I have participated in. I did not have to plan beforehand this time or make a list of dishes that would fit the theme or anything as such. That is mainly because I am used to microwave cooking and enjoy it. The dishes I have presented so far are a regular fare in my kitchen and the yummy carrot halwa showcased here today happens to be no exception. I usually prefer a microwave to stovetop to cook this halwa since it is quick and easy.
This classic, scrumptious dessert from the Indian subcontinent needs no introduction. The rich, creamy, colorful halwa is so popular among masses that it is an integral part of Indian restaurants' menus worldwide and an iconic dessert of Hindi movies. No wonder considering it's melt in mouth kind texture. A true delectable treat!

Ingredients: (for 4 servings / about 2 cups cooked halwa)
6 medium sized carrots - peeled and grated (I had 4 cups grated carrot.)
2 Tbsp ghee
1 cup full fat milk (I used about 1.5 cup low fat milk today.)
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 Tbsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Nuts to garnish

* Heat the ghee in a microwave safe bowl and add the grated carrot. Sauté for a couple of minutes.
* Then add the milk to carrot and cook stirring occasionally, until the milk evaporates.
* Next add the condensed milk and sugar to the carrot mixture. Continue to cook until the mixtures turns thick, stirring in between. Remove the bowl from microwave, add cardamom powder to the cooked halwa and mix well.
* Garnish with nuts and serve warm.

1 Adding khoya / mawa or cream or condensed milk at the final stages enhances the flavor of carrot halwa. I usually go with a low fat version and skip those when I am preparing a small quantity to satisfy my sweet tooth.
2. Avoid adding khoya / khova when halwa is being prepared in microwave. It tends to turn a dark brown shade and the halwa may be not a visually appealing one though the flavor remains unchanged.
3. Increase the quantities of condensed milk and ghee in the above recipe, if a richer halwa is preferred.
4. Follow the above procedure for stove top method too.

Check what the other marathoners are cooking today.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Danedar Dal

My "microwave recipe" for today in blogging marathon #7, happens to be a regional dal adapted from 'Gourmet Indian in minutes' cookbook. Check what the other marathoners are cooking.

What tempted me to try this recipe was the beautiful image associated with it. According to the book, this simple, basic dal is a usual fare at Gujarati homes during the festival of Navratri.  It is supposedly a sweet - sour kind dal and the original recipe uses only a green chillie for about 2 cups of dal. If you prefer those flavors to shine, feel free to add tamarind and jaggery accordingly. I modified the recipe a bit to suit our taste buds so that even my daughter who is not a great fan of sweet stuff enjoys it. She ate it without any complaints and that means this recipe is a keeper for me. So far, this is the first moong dal recipe she ate with out uttering a word. For me it is a basic, comforting sort of dal that can be put together quickly. Especially an opt one when you run out of veggies. And surprisingly, the dal didn't have the typical "moong dal" smell. Don't skip the peanuts; they add a contrasting texture to this filling dal.

Ingredients for 2 - 3 servings:
1/2 cup moong dal (skinned, yellow ones) / pesara pappu
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp salted peanuts (I used raw ones but toasted ones may be better.)
1 tsp jaggery powder / brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp tamarind puree or to taste
Salt to taste
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 green chillies - slit lengthwise, few curry leaves
Cilantro leaves for garnish

* Soak moong dal in hot water for about 30 minutes. This step is optional but it sure cuts down the cooking time. Throw away the water used to soak and rinse the dal well.
* Add 1.5 cups of water, turmeric powder and the dal to a microwave safe bowl and cook until the dal turns mushy, about 12 - 15 minutes. Remove the bowl.
* Heat oil in another microwave safe bowl and add the tadka ingredients. When they start to splutter, remove the bowl.
* Add the tadka, peanuts, tamarind paste, salt and jaggery powder to the dal bowl and put back in the microwave. Cook for another 2 -3 minutes.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve along with rice / rotis.

This moong dal dish goes to Cook it Healthy - Proteinicious event.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Chocolate Popcorn Trail Mix

I am here with a trail mix on the third day of blogging marathon #7, with the theme "microwave dishes". It happens to be a yummy mixture of chocolate drizzled popcorn, fiber rich wheat cereal, dried fruits and nuts. This kid snack mix can be put together under 5 minutes like yesterday's dessert. A quick, easy and fiber rich snack to munch on, anytime. I used no butter, no sodium popcorn prepared in my microwave.  I did not use any seasonings since I was planning to drizzle drench the popcorn with chocolate sauce.

How to pop corn in a microwave:
Popping corn in a microwave is quite a simple process. One Tbsp of corn kernels yield about a cup of popcorn. Place about 1/4 cup of corn kernels in a paper bag, fold over the top twice or thrice and put the bag in the microwave. Cook until you stop hearing the popping sound. It takes usually around 70 - 90 seconds for 1/4 cup kernels to pop. Remove the bag and your plain pop corn is ready.

Now let's move on to the chocolate popcorn trail mix. One is only limited by imagination / creativity when it comes to granola / trail mixes. Add whatever you find interesting, appealing and nutritious in your pantry to create your own signature dish. Today, I happened to add wheat squares, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, sultanas and a sweetened, dried berry mix to the popcorn and drizzled it with melted, semi sweet chocolate. 


2 cups popcorn
2 cups toasted wheat cereal
1 cup any dried fruit
1 oz (Baker's) semi sweet baking chocolate (I doubled the quantity and it is not necessary.)

The 'how' part:
* Microwave chocolate on HIGH in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until it melts completely.
* Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn, cereal and dry fruits mixture. Gently toss the mixture to evenly coat.
* Spread into single layer on large sheet of wax paper and cool.

Check what my fellow marathoners are cooking today.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Easy, Eggless Microwave Brownie in Two Minutes

Before proceeding to the recipe, I should mention that this is such a ridiculously easy and quick recipe that even a kid (of course a responsible one) can master it. It is rich, decadent and more over an eggless version. It can be put together under 5 minutes - 2 minutes for preparation and 90 seconds cooking time. What else do we need in a recipe? J
Over the years, I kept noticing this particular recipe in blogosphere under different names. A mug cake / an instant microwave cake / microwave brownie / microwave chocolate cake or what ever it was, the idea of a baked dessert under 2 minutes sounded so preposterous that I had to check it personally. Somehow the time never came until I saw Prathibha's recipe and her tempting images. I did try it at last and the recipe was an instantaneous hit at my home. We liked the 'not overly sweet' flavor of this moist brownie / cake and seems like have developed a kind of addiction to it. The kids would go "Mom, could you please make that MW brownie, it is so easy, right"? What would you do when the kids are asking so politely and you can whip up a dessert under less than 5 minutes? Of course you oblige. Probably I have cooked this for about 40 times so far and each time, it was a success and we have loved it.
My 12 year old opted for this when he had to cook in front of his class because of the ease and simplicity of the recipe. And one should not forget how rich and delicious it tastes.

Ingredients: (1 - 2 servings)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter + a pinch of salt or 2 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
4 Tbsp icing sugar (or powdered sugar)
2 Tbsp all purpose flour / maida
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp chocolate chips / dark chocolate bits
2 Tbsp walnut pieces

* Melt the butter (and salt if using) in a microwave safe bowl and let cool. Then add milk and vanilla essence to it and whisk well.
* Next add all the dry ingredients to another bowl and mix well.
* Then combine the wet and dry ingredients in another microwave safe bowl and mix well.
* Microwave the mixture for only 90 seconds. The surface would be soft and dry by the time. Let it stand for a couple of minutes and then remove from the microwave and enjoy while it is still warm.
* It can be served with vanilla ice cream or some chocolate sauce or whipped cream for extra decadence. J

My kitchen notes:
1. Measure accurately the ingredients or else you will end up with not such a delicious product.
2. Even cooking for an extra 30 - 60 seconds have resulted in a powdery brownie.
3. The brownie mixture expands while cooking and so, the initial mixture should fill only about 1/2 of your baking utensil.
4. I have baked this in microwave safe bowls and coffee mugs.
5. Also preparing this in large qunatities haven't yielded good results for me.

This is my second day post of blogging marathon #7 with the theme of 'Microwaved based' cooking. Check what the other marathoners are cooking today.
This goes to "Only Baked" event at Tamalapaku, an event originally started by Pari.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pear Jam ~ Microwave Version

Srivalli's two week long blogging marathon # 7 starts today and the theme choices for the participants this time are going to be
1. Crunchy Snacks for Kids
2. Cooking from a cookbook
3. Cooking from the backpack
4. Microwave Cooking
5. Regional Specials
6. Combo Meals
7. No Butter Bakes

That means the participating bloggers have to select a theme from above and cook for a week based on it. For this week's marathon, I chose microwave cooking and so for the next seven days, you are going to see microwave based recipes here. Check what the other marathoners are cooking today. 
On the first day, here is a simple and quick yet yummy pear jam prepared in the microwave. Actually this recipe was in my drafts for over three years now since I wasn't happy with the initial pictures I took and later forgot to update it.  

Preparing jam using bread machine:
Pears - 2 (1 cup mashed)
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Lemon Juice - 1 Tbsp
Pectin - 1/2 packet (up to 1 oz)

I usually go with D'anjou pears because they are just sweet with out the awful smell. (I dislike Bartlett pears for their smell.) I prepared the jam for the first time in my Zojirushi bread machine following their cooking manual. Now with the bread machine, it is pretty simple. You add all the ingredients to the baking container and it does the job for you. And if you are not satisfied with the bread maker's jam consistency and think that the jam has to be thicker, then put the jam into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave it for 2 -5 minutes depending upon the desired consistency. The jam thickens when cooled / refrigerated and so, it is usually wise to stop micro waving it when you are almost there. After refrigeration, if the jam becomes thicker and is not spreadable, warm the jam in MW for a minute. It should work. Also, you can skip pectin from this recipe all together. It takes longer in bread machine to prepare jam though it is easier. I don't personally prefer wasting that much of power over a cup of jam. Here is the recipe anyway.
Peel the pears and mash them coarsely with a fork or in a blender.  Add all the ingredients to the baking pan and cook selecting the 'jam course' or follow the instructions.

Jam preparation in microwave:
I usually prepare jams in small quantities and prefer using a microwave. Last week, I prepared pear jam in microwave in two batches and this is how I did it.

Method 1:
1 cup pear
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp pectin
6 Tbsp sugar

Peel and coarsely mash the pears with a fork. Add all the ingredients to a microwave safe bowl and cook in the microwave, stirring in between. Stop before you think that you have reached the desired consistency since it thickens after cooling. It usually takes me around 10 - 12 minutes to prepare jam in my microwave with the above quantity. Let cool and refrigerate the jam.

Method 2 :
For the other batch, I decided to puree the fruit and had about 4 cups of pureed pears. I added about 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp pectin, 6 cloves and a tsp of lemon juice to it. I microwaved it till the desired consistency was reached. The jam consistency would be softer when the fruit is over ripened and pureed. I personally prefer not to puree the fruit while preparing jams. Cool, discard the cloves and refrigerate the jam prepared.

Pectin is a type of sugar contained in fruits that jellifies jam (adds thickness). Add pectin as part of the ingredients if a softer jam is not preferred but a thicker version.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Eggless Moist Chocolate Cake

Before I proceed with the recipe for this moist chocolate cake, I should mention that this one is a no egg, no butter and no fuss recipe. A few food bloggers have earlier tried this cake inspired by this one and had attracted my attention with their captivating images. However, I was put off by the cocoa powder and oil used. I was not happy with the flavor of a cocoa cake I baked earlier and so decided to pass this one. "Palates differ" as one of those Telugu saying goes. I know those ingredients can be easily substituted but just mentioning. Then I got to taste an excellent brownie made with cocoa powder and had to change my opinion.
Later this cake was again personally recommended by a family member. Actually it was me who referred her to the recipe when she was looking for some egg ess, chocolate cakes. She tried it and was all praises about this cake. Hearing it from a sweet-hater (the girl doesn't prefer sweet stuff, lol.), I had to give this a try and that's what I did today.
It gets full marks for the texture and appearance. I loved the glistening, dark brown hue of the cake and the perfect texture. It was soft and moist with the gooey chips appearing in between. However the cake itself is not messy, sticky or gooey. If you skip those chocolate chips, you don't even notice those gooey spots in between. Chocolate / cocoa lovers would like this cake.

1.5 cups flour
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's brand)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil (I used canola oil.)
1 Tbsp white vinegar / lime juice / lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)

* Preheat the oven at 350 deg F / 180 deg C. Grease a cake / loaf pan and keep aside.
* Sieve the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt, 2 - 3 times and keep it aside.
* Add sugar to the water and stir it to get dissolved. Then add the oil, vinegar / lemon juice and vanilla and mix well.
* Now combine the dry and wet ingredients stirring gently, to form a lump free batter. The final batter would be runny as in the below image.

* If using chocolate chips, sprinkle them on the surface or mix it into the batter.

* Pour the batter into the greased cake / loaf pan. Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
* Place the pan on a cooling rack. Once cool, invert the pan and remove the bread. Slice and serve.

The batter raises while baking and so, choose a pan where the initial batter comes up to only 1/2 of the pan. I baked in a big loaf pan and cut it into slices.

This goes to "Only Baked" event at Tamalapaku, an event originally started by Pari.