Tag: recipes

Zucchini & Coconut Bread with Coconut Rum Lime glaze

The very talented Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin started The Secret Recipe Club (or TSRC, here on) a while back. I know! Doesn’t it sound so cool and fun! Well, it is! The idea behind TSRC is simple. Each participating blogger is assigned one of the other participating blogs (much like a Secret Santa). No one reveals whose blog they have, they just visit, pick a recipe, and make it! My assigned blog this month was Suz’s Thru The Bugs on My Windshield.

Now, the moment I clicked on Suz’s blog, I knew what I wanted to make. Because the first recipe itself caught my eye! Now, I have to tell you, recently I have this craving for everything coconut. The list includes coconut chocolates, Indian dishes with coconut like the Kerala cauliflower dish I recently made and Pina Colada (yes, alcohol can never be left behind, can it!). So when I saw Suz’s recipe for coconut banana bread which was topped with coconut lime sauce (coconut lime sauce- who can resist that!) , I was sold.

Coincidentally, Suz tried this recipe for her last month’s TSRC blog hop. Well, Suz and I get attracted to the same sweet things, I guess! Besides this recipe, Suz who lives with her Mountain Man, has a lot of other good recipes that I am tempted to try and have bookmarked, including her Chicken Asparagus Penne Pasta salad, her never-fail Pie crust and Amanda’s Cantaloupe Quick Bread. Do check her blog out, guys (she makes her own homemade vanilla extract- yup, she is that good!) I did a slight variation to the recipe. Though I would have loved to try the recipe with bananas, my stomach just can’t digest it anymore. It’s sad, really, it is, especially at times like these! I used to love banana bread and to have coconut in it, ah! How good would that have been! Sigh! Well, some things you just can’t help, can you. So, instead of banana, I thought of using zucchini. The substitution worked really well, more than what I expected. The only problem, I feel, some might have is that since I took out the banana, some of the sweetness also went away with it. V found the sweetness perfect, and with the glaze you don’t miss the sugar, but if you like your stuff sweet, you should up the sugar amount. Another reason why the sweetness might have been off the mark was that I did not realise that my stock of sugar was low, and found out only when I started mixing everything up.

Now, not that I need a reason to make Pina Coladas, but this was a perfect time to make some! So, there I was, sipping my Pina Colada and biting into my take on Suz & Krista’s coconut banana bread, with this song playing on my mind.

Yes I like Pina Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food
I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon
And cut through all this red-tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s
Where we’ll plan our escape.


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TOASTED COCONUT ICE CREAM

To be in Kerala (a state in the south of India), and not make something coconutey– it just won’t do! Coconut grows in abundance here, and consequently, grated coconut and coconut milk are widely used in dishes and curries as a thickener and flavoring ingredient. So a coconut dish was definitely called for.

While still figuring out how to use the coconut, the other day we went this gelato place and I tasted coconut ice cream and that was it! That’s what I would use the coconut for! Summer has already hit Kerala. Well, it never actually went. Like some one put it the other day- it only gets hot, hotter and hottest here. Thus, it was decided- coconut ice cream it would be! What better way to beat the heat!


Now, I don’t have an ice cream maker- don’t have it in my house nor at my parent’s house. But, still I wanted to try my hand at homemade ice cream. Yes, I dream big! I used to have an ice cream maker when I was in first grade- you know the manual one- the kiddie kinds- and over the years, of course it gave way. I want to buy one, but the lack of space and budget tells me to wait some more.

But, as of now I don’t have one. So, I turned to whom I always do when in trouble—– Google. And, that’s where I found David Lebovitz’s post on making ice cream without an ice cream maker. Thank you Mr. Lebovitz for coming to my rescue!

Meanwhile, my mom wanted to throw a formal dinner and call a few people before I leave for Delhi (which I do tomorrow). And she gave me the responsibility of dessert and a few other dishes. Perfect- I can impress her guests with home made coconut ice cream! My mom just refused to believe that I could pull it off- that I would me able to make nice smooth home made ice cream. She insisted I would end up with ice crystals and nothing else. She tried her best and kept giving me ideas for other desserts I could try. She wanted me to make my flourless chocolate cake– but it’s just so difficult to find baking ingredients here that I had to squash her hope of having that cake.

Anyways, I told her to give me a chance and if it didn’t turn out to meet her high expectations I would make some other dessert. But, when she tasted it she just could not believe how good it turned out. In fact, yesterday, after the dinner , she was like it was the best thing she had.

Next time I’ll try using coconut cream, though I don’t have an idea how the science behind it will work! Would also like to add Malibu thought of it this time, but did not have either on hand). Also do check out David’s tips on how to make home made ice cream more smooth!

The ice cream is not too sweet. In fact, a little maple syrup on top won’t hurt. I put bits of the spun sugar I made- so anyone who wanted a little sugar could bite into that.

I also decided to serve the ice cream in spun sugar bowls. Like I mentioned, I dream big! I got the idea from here. I just loved the site- its so creative and beautiful. Anyways, it wasn’t an easy task. I got burned my finger. The first attempt I got perfect bowl shape and the color was a nice deep amber (as seen in the picture)- but I did burn the sugar a little and the bowls were a little bitter. I wanted the bowls to be edible- just in case someone decided to have a piece from it. So I went for attempt two. The color was a lighter amber, and the sugar wasn’t burnt but the bowls broke on unmolding. This attempt was where my mom burned her finger! Third attempt I got the same light amber color (I was a little scared of overdoing the sugar and burning it- a candy thermometer would have surely helped!). Since, the first two attempts I had difficulty in unmolding the sugar from the bowls, I thought of making a round design on a flat surface covered with aluminum foil and before the spun sugar cools, quickly mold it in the desired shape. But, one has to be really quick in doing so. While the one or two pieces I could mold into bowls, the rest had cooled and hardened into flat plates, albeit beautiful. Anways, lessons learnt for next time!

P.S: Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!

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GARLIC & HERB ROLLS

I decided to make some rolls day before. My dad loves home made bread and after I made some spinach bread a few days back for him, I thought I’ll treat my dad some more and make some garlic and herb rolls.

I have tried several recipes of garlic bread but somehow all fail when it comes to the garlic flavor. One bite and I question whether I added any garlic or not. But, not with this one! Not only did I up the amount of garlic in the bread, but with this cool basting trick I found at Annie’s Eats, while figuring out how to make knotted rolls, you would be sure you are eating a garlic flavored bread.

Annie also has step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to make the knotted rolls. In case you would like to shape them like knots do check her post.

Fresh out of the oven, with some butter slathered on- these make a fantastic eat!

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LAVENDER & LEMON SOUFFLE

I have been so lazy the past few days- jet lag, catching up with my mom on family gossip, and just the sheer comfort of home where I don’t have to lift a finger for anything (seriously! there’s someone to cook, someone to clean the house, someone to do the laundry) – all of it has made me lazy to blog. The first few days back home, I did nothing- yes, jet lag was a primary reason- with the odd sleeping and waking hours – I was busy orienting myself to the change in time zones.

Thanks to the jet lag, though, I have been regular with my exercise. Up at 3.30 am , I was ready to exercise at 5 as there was nothing else to do. Now, of course the jetlag has more or less worn off, but I still sleep pretty early and am up at an hour which has always been a little early for me, but a good time for me to hit the gym. Since the day I arrived, my mom has been pointing out how much weight I have gained, and this just won’t do. So, I have been working hard and hope to continue doing so. I also resisted buying Nutties, a chocolate I haven’t eaten for over a year and which has always been one of my favorites. I also passed the opportunity for picking a packet of Bingo (a very popular chips packet in India), something that was a staple during my B-school days. Determination! Well, I really do need to get in shape!

I did indulge in a soufflé though. Well, a little leeway is allowed. The thing is- I had to make the soufflé. I had tried making one day before (a spicy dark chocolate one) but it was an utter failure. Mind you, when I made it the first time, I only made enough for my mom and dad and none for me- again determination! And what would you know, that was a flop, and one of the reasons for its failure was that I overfilled the ramekins, trying to avoid filling a third one for me!

I could have written about the other reasons for failing at soufflé making, but decided against sheltering under excuses, because I believe a good baker should be able to turn any kitchen environment to his/her advantage. So the next attempt had to be made to prove that I can bake not only at my own house (where I have the luxury of a big oven, the perfect temperature, the right temperature and ingredients) but just about anywhere!

So, I set off to make another soufflé yesterday. All soufflés are made by folding stiffly whipped egg whites into a richly seasoned base, either sweet or savoury, then baking until risen and feather-light. In my last attempt I tried Curtis Stone’s recipe which only uses egg whites and no yolks/cream/milk/flour/butter. This time I decided to try a version which started with a base of roux and lavender-lemon flavored cream folded into the egg whites.

Preparing the dish, some claim, enhances the chances of having a perfectly risen soufflé. Since rising wasn’t a problem in my first attempt, I decided to use Curtis Stone’s way of buttering and sugaring (is that a word?!) the ramekins. He adds melted butter to the bottom of the ramekins and with a brush and upward strokes, butters the sides of the ramekins. Then, he lets the buttered ramekins sit to cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 minutes. Once the butter hardens, he again brushes the sides with melted butter and sprinkles granulated sugar on the bottom and sides of the ramekins. (You can check the video here)

When I told one of my friends of my plans to make a Lavender soufflé, she called me lavender obsessed. As much as I don’t like to admit, but lately I have been on a lavender fetish. I just love the flavor lavender adds to any dish. And, well, lavender with lemon- that is what delish stuff is made of!

Attempt two at soufflés turned out not so bad. I did have one with a cracked top, but the other three rose just fine and behaved themselves for me to take a few pictures with their puffed tops (although, they did sink a bit by the time I got them ready for the shot).

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SPINACH BREAD

Today was coffee at my house. Its always fun having these coffee meets. Get to talk and learn so much from the diverse group of friends I have. We had a new girl join us. I remember, how, about 8 months back I was new to this group. And now the group feels like family- people I can count on when I need someone here. Its always fun to cook for them- they are all so generous with their compliments! Also, it gives me a platform to not only experiment by baking extravaganzas, but to introduce my friends to Indian food. They now all know about Samosas, kathi rolls, mint chutney and I feel happy to have made them taste that part of the world. Today, though, I did not go Indian. I kept it simple with buttered garlic on a home-made Spinach bread and carrots served with tzatziki dip. For the sweet tooth there was fruitcake and I also kept some olive-cheese-pineapple on a stick appetizers. Surprisingly the latter were quite a hit with the children!

The idea for Spinach bread had been haunting me for a while. I had a bunch of spinach in my fridge and thought it would be an interesting way to use it up. Found a recipe here. I wanted to add some feta cheese but did not have any in the fridge. And cheese had to go in the bread! So instead I added some parmesan cheese. I also added roasted garlic to the dough. The bread came out very flavorful. I served the bread baked with some garlic-herb smothered butter and everyone devoured them!

Next time I will replace some of the all-purpose with whole-wheat flour – you know, make it all healthy and all ;). Would also add some powdered flax seeds! Oohh, the sound of it makes me want to run to the store and grab a bunch or two of spinach. (What would you know, we finished both the loaves at the coffee today- yes! it was that good!)

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RASPBERRY GREEK YOGURT POPPY SEED CAKE

Since I am going to India in a few weeks time, I am in a major fridge cleaning spree. I know V won’t use any of the baking stuff that I have stored up and am sure they won’t last till the time I am back. I also have to make enough room in the fridge to stock up food for V’s coming forced bachelor days. At least for the initial few days- then he is on his own. I had been planning to make a cake for my mom’s birthday- which was yesterday, the Jan 12th. The idea was to make a red velvet cake with cream cheese filling. But, then I had raspberries- so it became red velvet with raspberry cream cheese. But, there was no cream cheese in the fridge. Thought of going to the store to get some- and just as I was about to I remembered I had some greek yogurt that had been sitting in the fridge. Hmm…can I use it as a substitute- googled but did not find any confident yes in the search results. Tasted it and thought it might just work. So the cake became, Red Velvet cake with a raspberry greek yogurt filling. That’s what I thought!

I decided to make the filling first. Thank god that’s what I did. The yogurt creamed really good, but when I added the raspberry puree it thinned down. I tried thickening it, with my amateur techniques, but nothing helped. Looking at the consistency, I thought of turning that batter into cake batter. Added some flour, leavener, poppy seeds- and put it in the oven for it to do its trick! I decided to take the cake for my movie afternoon with my friends and they looooooved it- even the one who is on a strict diet and avoids all sweet stuff- she ate three pieces one after the other. I am so proud of myself! 🙂

(I just hope I wrote down all the components correctly! =/ )

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IT’S SPREADABLE FRUIT TIME WITH CHUNKY APPLE PRESERVE!!

Only a few days back I was wondering to myself- its been ages since I caught a cold. And, well, what would you know, the age ends! I’m sick and with a bad cold! If insomnia wasn’t enough, the cold surely is. Hardly slept last night thanks to it. Had soupy Maggi for dinner (my all time favorite comfort food :)), and have been drinking ginger-spiced tea but to no avail. The cold still prevails and so does the feverish feeling accompanying it :(!

Even though I was pretty much drained from the cold last night, I had planned to make this chunky apple preserve from Sarabeth’s Bakery. I could have delayed it, but I’m starting this new thing- Office Thursdays! (I thought and thought of a better name, but the brain cells have been killed by the cold- so Office Thursdays it is!) The whole concept behind Office Thursday’s came up after V and I had a fight over how I bake things and I end up eating them (lucky thing- he doesn’t have a sweet tooth, so doesn’t get tempted to eat things I bake..I, on the other hand, love all things baked and hence my constant struggle with weight gain..sigh!) We had to come up with a solution since baking is the only solace I get and to do without it will surely bring me to sheer madness! Now, every Thursday V has a meeting in his office that he conducts. Sometime he takes some donuts, or someone else gets something sweet to eat. Aha! That’s it, we thought. I bake for his office people. That ways, I get to bake, but don’t end up putting any calories. Of course, I will put aside two pieces- one for V and one for me, but the rest goes in the tummies of his colleagues. Brilliant!

Today I decided to make Apple Turnovers for his office. For that, the puff pastry was already ready, I just needed to make the filling- the chunky apple preserve. So that’s why I had to suck up my cold and make the preserve, else I would have had to wait till next Thursday- a thing that an impatient me can’t do! (Here’s the recipe for the Apple Turnovers) I am glad I did because the joy of making homemade preserves is a pretty good mood lifter. And with an outcome so delectable, I was on top of the world!

Now, I did not have any canning pot or canning tongs. So I used whatever was available. I did take a risk, though, because the jars are pretty hot and without the proper tools, either you could end up breaking the jars, or worse, scalding yourself pretty bad. Fortunately, nothing happened to me. But, to be on the safer side I would suggest, if you plan to make preserves and jams more often, get the right tools!

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An Indian Treat, Camelback Hike and a lost ring- Exciting Start to 2011

After a year, 2011 is finally here!! (didn’t know I can be corny and rhyme at the same time!) Happy New Year every one! Welcomed the new year partying with our friends in Phoenix. Lots of fun. 🙂

I stopped making new year resolutions long back, mainly because they used to revolve around one theme- my weight. And well, most of you know, how such resolutions end up- being broken. But, this year I decided to give the theme another try with a slightly modified resolution. I am not resolving to lose weight, (with my love for all things baked and fried -don’t think that would be a practical resolution)– so I resolve that out of the 7 days in a week, 5 days I will try to get some form exercise– it could be yoga, running or time spent in the gym. I can almost hear myself saying “yeah right, all the best” in a mocking tone, but this time I am determined! Again I hear the voice: “haha, we will see”. To it I say, “Yes, we will!”

Fortunately, the first day of the new year was spent doing just that- showing my inner self that yes I can do it. Even though we had a late night (slept at 4 in the morning), and slightly hung over from the New Year party, I was up on 1st morning (well it was almost noon 😉 ), ready to hike the Camelback mountain in Phoenix.

Camelback Mountain, the best-known feature of the Phoenix skyline and the city’s highest point, is an irresistible lure to hard-core hikers, fitness fanatics and tantalized tourists. Both routes to the summit, Echo and Cholla, though fairly short, are among the steepest trails in Arizona, guaranteed to leave even the fittest of the fit huffing and puffing as they slog their way to the top. The first mile and a half of the Cholla trail, though steep in places, is easy enough for the most casual of hikers to enjoy. But the final quarter-mile is rather nasty, requiring a fair amount of scrambling along a bouldery ridgeline to the top. It is a 3.5 miles round trip for the Cholla Trail.

I managed to complete the trail, exceeding V’s expectations (he thought I would give up half-way. But I didn’t!) , and all was going according to plan! Good start to the new year.

The next day though, things went from good to bad. Woke up with a sore body, feeling pain in muscles I never knew existed in those parts of my body. That was still fine. It turned bad when, on our way back from Phoenix, I realised my yellow sapphire gold ring missing! I knew I had it in the morning before we left our friends’ house but somewhere on the way, the ring slipped from my fingers (well, the positive: I lost weight from a one day hiking trip! The negative: at the cost of a very expensive ring!) Anyways both V and I were very upset, but then things like this happen. I never wanted to wear the ring but V told me to, because he believes that the stone would be good for my overall prosperity and good luck. Since I don’t believe in such things, I wasn’t too keen. On his insistence I wore it. The irony is that once lost, I feel its a bad omen and my prosperity would be affected ( well, not that I was working or anything, but still, any chance of finding a job would get lost). Well, ok, I am not THAT superstitious but I would have felt more sure of my prosperity and my luck if the ring was in my fingers. Anyways, that too, we shall see!

Coming to today, I decided on treating V and myself to some real Indian comfort food: Poori, sookhe kale chane and Sooji ka Halwa .

Poori is a deep fried unleavened flat bread eaten in India. The dough is made of whole wheat flour, water, salt and a little ghee (clarified butter). One can also add carom seeds (Ajwain), like I did, for an added flavor.

Sookhe Kale chane is a north Indian dish, popularly made during Ashtami, (a Hindu festival) as part of Kanjak puja ( a ceremony performed for little girls). Generally, it is made sans salt (it is a fasting period and salt is not allowed). The salt is replaced with black salt (kala namak). Also, traditionally, ginger and tomatoes nor onions are used, but I have added them in my recipe (well, since we are not fasting!)

Sooji ka Halwa is a sweet dish very,very popular in most Indian households. It is also one of V’s favorites. Unfortunately for him, my first few attempts at the halwa have been disastrous. Its a tradition for newly weds to cook halwa for the husband’s family. Now, before marriage I had never entered the kitchen to cook, to bake-yes, but to cook, never. Well, probably once or twice, but that’s it. So, when I decided to make something for V’s family, I had no idea where to begin! Luckily, my in-laws had gone out of the house and the cook helped me making the halwa. Actually, I tried once, but it was a mess. So, had to take the cook’s help! Surprisingly, its very easy to make but also very easy to mess up. Fortunately, this time I found the microwave version of the recipe and thought to myself, I can;t goof up with this. And what would you know- I did! But, only slightly and because I had to third the recipe as I only had 2 cups of milk in the fridge. I also burnt the almonds in the microwave (I knew something was burning- but multi-tasking to prepare food in time for V’s lunch just ended up burning the almonds- but luckily, only a few!) The end result, though, was unexpectedly, pretty good. Actually very good!

Update: Just spoke with my mother-in-law and it turns out that losing a stone ring is good if it happens in the natural course of your day. It means all the bad energies leave you with that stone. Hmm.. 2011 looks promising! 😉

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