Monday 30 November 2009

Lasagne à la Bolognaise/ Lasagna alla Bolognese and an award

Like Garfield, my son is fond of the “Lasagne à la Bolognaise”, an Italian Classic, precisely a Bologna specialty.

He reminds me to do it whenever he sees the movie Garfield, thankfully once in 2 months time …..:) as this is a rich and consistent dish, highly caloric as well..... Try to pair it with a crunchy salad and maybe cut down down your dessert to balance the meal.

As for me, I'll have no self-reproach relishing this succulent dish, after all I’ll need some calories to withstand the coming winter:):)!!!


Ingredients: (for 4 to 6)

400g minced beef (preferably stewing meat)
150g minced sausage meat
800 g finely chopped tomatoes
1 carrot (peeled and chopped into small cubes)
3 onions, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
A tbsp of concentrated tomato puree
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
Olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
500 ml Béchamel sauce ( see Herefor the recipe)
400 – 500g lasagna
100g Grated Parmesan
300g Grated Emmental or any other
500g mozzarella

Method:

For the Meat Sauce:

Dip the tomatoes in some boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove, drain and and peel them.

Chop the onions, garlic, carrot and the tomatoes.

Heat the olive oil ( on low medium heat) and add the onions and fry slightly. Add the minced meats and stir fry on high heat until the meat changes its colour. Add the carrot and the garlic and fry a little more. Add salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and the concentrated paste, the bayleaves and the herbs and the sugar.

Stir fry for few minutes and add the wine and water (reduce if necessary) and let it boil.

Close and let it simmer on low flame for about 40 minutes.

Be sure to mix your sauce from time to time so that does not stick to the bottom.

The sauce should neither be too dry nor too liquid but sufficiently liquid to cook the lasagne.
Remove and set aside to cool down completely.

Meanwhile prepare the Béchamel Sauce.



For the Béchamel sauce, you’ll need:

70 g butter
70 g SIFTED flour
1 liter of milk
Salt, Cayenne pepper
Nutmeg

Method:

Bring the milk to a boil and keep aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan on very low heat; as soon as it starts to sizzle, add the sifted flour all at once and stir with a whisk or a wooden spatula with all your strength. (We should not let it brown and also prevent any lumps to form)

Cook it for about 5 minutes stirring continuously until you get a smooth and white mixture.

Pour the boiling milk on the above mixture and mix thoroughly with a whip.
Add the salt, pepper & nutmeg.

Bring to boil once again on very low heat by whipping constantly. The Béchamel sauce will thicken. Cook for some more minutes by whisking constantly. Remove and set aside to cool.

You can very well do this sauce earlier and conserve in the refrigerator upto 2 to three days.

Assemble the lasagne:

Grease an oven proof dish with some butter and a garlic pod and put a layer of the Béchamel sauce.

Arrange the lasagna sheets on it.

Cover the above with a sufficient amount of the meat sauce (The lasagna sheets are going to be cooked in this sauce)

Top the sauce with some grated Emmental cheese and spoon some Béchamel sauce over it and continue like the previous layers.

Continue with another layer and the rest of the meat sauce.

Top with some parmesan cheese and bake the whole for about 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 210° C.

Add the mozzarella (cut as you like) 10 minutes before the cooking time.

Serve it really hot!!!

A Côtes du Rhône Villages / a Chianti or a Bardolino would be a perfect for the dish!
Buon appetito!!!!

and a lovely award to end my day......


my hearty thanks to Lavanya Siva from Spice-India for the beautiful gesture !!!!

Thursday 26 November 2009

Coconut bread

Actually I came through this recipe in Cynthia’s “Tasteslikehome” (I simply admire the delectable wonders she does in her kitchen) and the way she described it, I couldn’t resist trying the recipe at once, one, since my daughter is an absolute amateur of sweet breads and secondly, I had all the ingredients ready and so I was led to Chuck’s Kneadforbread (another online treasure box, full of wonderful recipes of Breads) where I found the source of this recipe. Many Thanks to both of them for sharing this recipe!!!

So, I decided to do it with my daughter who has no school on Wednesday afternoons. She was excited to help me and happily added the ingredients to the bowl (one of her favourite jobs she keeps applying for….) and thank God, the recipe had some “stirring with a spatula” too (without that, she’d have said that I underestimated her cooking talent if I didn’t let her do anything else and that would have created a big diplomatic problem…:). Anyway, we finished it all in peace!!!

As Cynthia has mentioned, we (the four of us) had a good time pulling and eating the bread with the fingers, it was that soft! The topping added a little crunchiness and a chewy consistency to the soft coconut flavoured bread. A nice homemade tropical loaf to be relished for teatime but also for breakfast. Wish you as much pleasure we had eating this bread!

Method:

I just reduced the quantity of the ingredients to half: see the recipe here!

and Happy Baking!!!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Time for friendship.....

Rohini from "Curries and Spices" has shared this award with me. Please accept my recognition and my hearty and sincere thanks for your kindness and appreciaions dear Buddy!!!




I'd love to share this with the following blogger friends:


Cheers !!!!!

Monday 23 November 2009

Mutter Paneer (Green Peas and Cheese Curry)

Would you like to treat yourself with a true Punjabi meal? Then you’re at the right place. The striking feature of most of the Punjabi dishes is that they are mostly rich and copious, with an abundant use of butter, cream, ghee and cheese in the preparations which are furthermore royally spiced and flavored. Even more, than for their food, I love the Punjabis in a special way because, like me, eeeehhhhh, the Punjabis are hearty people who love to eat and enjoy every bite of their food to the fullest.
There are so many lip smacking curries both in their Vegetarian and the Non-vegetarian specialties and one among them is this creamy Mutter Paneer!!!

This was my first attempt to do this at home and I’ve been googling for the authentic recipe in so many websites but then, I would not even be sure that I found the original method…since I was totally lost in the 1001 variations of this wonderful dish.


So, I don’t know if this could be one of the ways a true Punjabi prepares this dish but this is how I concocted with what lingered in my memory about the taste of this dish (delicious memories of a Punjabi restaurant at Agra) and of course with the example from My Dhaba’s recipe, that I slightly modified according to my personal likings, but I can guarantee the Goodness of the deadly combination of Paneer with the amazing flavor of the soft peas in this truly irresistible gravy, which I’m sure will take you away to the land of 5 Rivers!!!!

Ingredients we need:

For the Paneer (for a little more than 500g of Paneer):
2 liters of full fat milk
4 tbsp of lime juice
¼ tsp Salt and Pepper (optional)

For the gravy:
500g Paneer
500g Green Peas
Whole spices (1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 3 cardamom pods, ¼ tsp peppercorns, 1 tsp fennel seeds)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp hot chilly powder
6 cashew nuts
1tbsp of ginger julienned
1 tbsp of garlic julienned
5 green chilies deseeded and chopped
5 chopped tomatoes
2 big onions
200 ml yoghurt
Salt
A pinch of sugar
½ a tsp garam masala
Ghee
2 sticks of Salted butter
Coriander leaves for garnishing

Method:

To prepare Paneer:
Pour the milk in a double bottomed vessel along with salt and pepper and bring it to boil on medium heat.


Simmer and add drops of lime juice little by little into the milk, in order to curdle the milk slowly.

Stir gently leave it for a few minutes off the fire so that the whole milk curdles.

Remove from the heat, rinse with some cold water and pour into a colander which has been lined with cheesecloth or some fine muslin cloth. Hold the corners of the cheesecloth and bring them together to make a knot and tie them together. Hang it for about half an hour (I hang it right above the sink, just an idea).


Squeeze out slightly if there are any more liquids and now place the cheese tightly together in the cloth and keep it pressed under something heavy and place this in the refrigerator until ready to use.


After a few hours, once the paneer gets firm, remove and cut into desired shapes.

To prepare the gravy:
Chop the onions and the tomatoes.

Shell the green peas (if you’re using fresh ones) and cook for about 5 minutes in salted boiling water. Drain and reserve. (Frozen peas can also be used, in that case, defreeze them and keep it ready)

Cut the paneer into bite size cubes.

Heat sufficient ghee in a pan on medium flame and fry the Paneer cubes until golden brown.


Remove and drain them over a paper towel to remove excess oil.

In the same pan, add the chopped onions and fry until slightly brown. Add the tomatoes and fry them until slightly soft. Let it cool down completely before blending it to a smooth mixture.

Heat another vessel on medium flame and add 5 big tbsp of ghee.
Splutter all the whole spices with the cumin seeds and the cashew nuts and fry until the cashew nuts brown.

Add the julienned ginger, garlic and the green chilies, followed by the coriander and chilly powder and fry for a few seconds.

Add the tomato/ onion mixture and fry until oil oozes out (I suggest you may close the vessel partially with a lid to avoid getting burnt by the hot splashing liquid)

Beat the yoghurt slightly and add it to the above. Stir well until the yoghurt is well incorporated in the sauce. Add the salt and the sugar.

Add the green peas and the paneer cubes and simmer for about 10 minutes.


Sprinkle some garam masala and spoon some salted butter on top. Serve it perfumed with a bouquet of coriander leaves and enjoy it with any Indian Breads like Naan /Parotta / Chapati….. !!!

Friday 20 November 2009

Tuna fish Tart

Want a “quick meal”, something nice and at the same time healthy and affordable and of course other than Indian food? Then, this one is for you!! This is one among those foods that I fix for a “light” dinner (depends on how big is your stomach, eeeehh”) whenever we tend to have late (3 PM) heavy lunches especially on the week-ends. Usually it is served for an Entrée, but since it has enough dairy products, protein and vegetables, I think it makes a complete meal by itself. I make it very often with different ingredients, because this recipe can be adapted in so many different ways; like for example, I’ve used shallots, bell peppers and tomatoes here (what I had actually in stock), but feel free to vary the ingredients according to your taste buds, like you may substitute tuna with salmon and bell peppers with spinach, the mozzarella with any other cheese and so on…


Ingredients:

230g short crust pastry
150g tuna fish (cooked)
A tbsp of curry powder
Salt and pepper
5 shallots
4 garlic pods
½ of a red bell pepper, ½ of a green bell pepper, ½ of an yellow bell pepper
2 firm tomatoes
200g mozzarella
2 eggs
200ml fresh cream
100ml milk
A pinch of nutmeg powder
Any herbs fresh or dry (I used a mixture of dry herbs from the Provence)
4 tbsp olive oil


Method:

Crumble the fish and keep it aside.
Chop the shallots and the bell peppers finely and crush the garlic pods.
Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella into round pieces.

Heat the olive oil and stir-fry the shallots, followed b the bell peppers until they ooze out all the moisture. Add the curry powder and fry for half a minute; add the fish and stir fry for a minute and let it cool down.


Place the pastry in a tart pan and flatten it well against the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and add some couscous grains or some breadcrumbs (this prevents the tart to become soft in case the vegetables loose moisture).

Layer the tart with the tuna fish preparation. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on the fish layer, followed by the mozzarella.

In a mixer or in a bowl beat the eggs, milk and cream together along with some salt and pepper and nutmeg powder and pour it over the tart.



Sprinkle some herbs and bake it at 180°C for about 25 to 30 minutes.


Serve it really hot, maybe with a salad :) !!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Peach Upside-down Cake

Here’s a simple cake for tea time, or maybe for a late night snack :), or even for a dessert, why not after a light meal? Very affordable and especially quick to do really, ideal for family/ friends gathering which doesn’t require you to spend too much time for the preparation , yet something which can be presented exquisitely, enjoyable and very pleasing to the palates as well as to the eyes.

Actually I found this recipe page (torn from a magazine long long ago …) among the other recipe papers that I have heaped in my note book (I like to copy down my recipes in a paper to visualize the method clearly before trying them out, that is ME, the old fashioned way, hehehe, and also it helps me to practice my handwriting ok whatever…..) and the recipe calls for Ananas. But I’ve done the same with some peaches. You can use either fresh or canned fruits for this recipe and you can substitute the peaches with Apples or Apricots or Pears or Cherries as well. Happy Baking!!



Ingredients:

4 peaches, peeled, halved and drained
500g brown sugar
150g potato starch
150g all purpose flour
20g baking powder
15g vanilla sugar
150g butter
8 eggs
40ml milk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Melt the butter gently on low heat.

Beat the eggs thoroughly in a big bowl.

In another bowl, mix together 400g of brown sugar, vanilla sugar, the flour and the potato starch along with the baking powder.

Now add the whipped eggs to the above mixture followed by the melted butter and the milk.

Mix everything well.

Sprinkle the rest of the sugar in a greased round cake pan. Just sprinkle a tablespoon of water on top of it and caramelize it in the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove and place the halved peaches (flat side towards the pan) on the caramel. Place this 15 minutes in the freezer.


Pour the prepared cake mixture in the pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.


Remove from the oven and wait for 10 minutes and invert the pan over a serving plate. Enjoy!!!

Monday 16 November 2009

Mutta Kozhambu (Egg curry)

I’d have never realized, until I sat to write a few lines about this egg curry, the number of ways in which an egg is used, (I’m just talking about the culinary use here)whether it is consumed raw, hard boiled or half boiled, coddled, poached, scrambled, shirred or fried (even there we’ve got the choice to fry it over (well, medium easy or eggs up) or as an Omlette and without omitting to remind the importance of eggs in so many pastries and the several ways in which we use them like for coating (holding some crumbly mixture in cutlets), for binding (to hold together the mixture in meatballs for example), for thickening ( like in some sauces and custards), for emulsifying and for leavening (clearly in cakes ), Mmm, that makes it a completely versatile and resourceful food. However, I’m not a big fan of hard boiled eggs as itself but I like them only when there's a sauce and when the eggs absorb the flavour of the spices in a curry like here.


Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp cumin sees
2 onions
2 tomatoes
A pinch of turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp chilly powder (optional)
Salt
½ tsp garam masala
5 tbsp oil
Coriander leaves for garnishing

For Paste 1:
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
Some ginger (half the quantity of garlic)
3 green chillies

Method:

Boil some water and hard boil the eggs for 7 minutes. De-shell and make some deep slits on top of the eggs without breaking them.

Blend all the ingredients under “Paste1” to a fine paste.

Chop the onions and the tomatoes finely.

Heat oil in a vessel, splutter the curry leaves and the cumin seeds; Add the chopped onions and fry until slightly brown; add the tomatoes and keep frying until the tomatoes are smashed and until the oil oozes out.

Turn the flame down to medium and add the ground “Paste 1” and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the turmeric, chilly and coriander powder and salt. When oil separates from the sauce, turn the flame to high and add some warm water (depends on how thick you need the curry).

When it starts to boil, add the boiled eggs to the sauce and simmer for another 3 minutes. Sprinkle some garam masala and remove off the fire.

Garnish with the coriander leaves and enjoy!!

Thursday 12 November 2009

Lime Cheesecake and Raspberry/Cherry sauce

I love cakes, yeah, I know, that is something you know already.:):) But unlike most of the cakes which require cooking in an oven, this is one of those categories which not only tastes heavenly but also a cake which can be made without even touching an oven, isn’t that great?
Now, this cake is composed of a crumbly textured lime flavoured crust which doesn’t need any cooking and a rich and airy cheesy cream which can be done in a jiffy and which almost melts on the palate and I should say , yes it is caloric but it tastes too good to be avoided.

Since it is a refrigerated dessert, I would have said that it is a perfect dessert for a hot summer day, but no, no, no, no way for a gourmet like me! I could never wait until Mr. Summer comes, (another 6 months to go) to relish this cheesy delight, could you?


Ingredients (for 8)

For the crust:
360g butter cookies
120g butter
4 limes

For the cream:
480g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia )
40g heavy cream
400ml full fat liquid cream (keep it ready in a bowl placed on a bed of ice cubes)
140g icing sugar
5 gelatin sheets

Method:

Crumble the cookies finely. Remove the zest from the limes and make it crumbly using a mixer.

Extract the juice of the limes and keep it separately.

Melt the butter on low flame.

In a bowl, mix together the zest, the crumbled cookies and the melted butter to form a smooth dough.


Line a baking tray (a springform pan is a must) with a baking sheet and place the dough on it and flatten it evenly by pressing well to form a nice firm crust. Refrigerate it.

For the creamy part:

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water until they soften.

In a bowl, whip the cream cheese for a minute. Add the heavy cream and 40g of icing sugar and continue whipping. Keep it aside.

Whip the liquid cream in a separate bowl (keeping the bowl on the ice cubes) and add 100g of icing sugar and continue whipping until it is sufficiently airy and stiff. When it is done, add this whipped cream delicately to the cheese mixture.

In a vessel, pour the extracted juice of the limes and add the drained and softened gelatin sheets and heat on very low flame while stirring, until the gelatin melts.

Pour the above delicately to the prepared cream mixture and mix delicately.


Now, to assemble the cake, remove the pan which contains the crust from the refrigerator and pour the cream mixture carefully over the base and equalize the top with a spatula to make a smooth surface.

Now refrigerate the whole cake for at least eight hours or overnight would be even better.


Unmold it very carefully and transfer it to the serving tray.


Now feel free to top with any kind of fruit compotes or candied fruit sauces. I’ve used a mixture of raspberries and cherries for my sauce;

To make the fruit sauce:
Put 400g of cherries and 400g of raspberries along with the juice of 3 lemons and 120g of brown sugar in a vessel and heat it. Let it boil and then, let it be reduced to form a thick sauce containing some whole pieces of the candied fruits.(don't over cook like I did, my fruits were all crumbled).  Leave it to cool down completely and spoon the sauce over the cake just before serving. Enjoy!!

Sunday 8 November 2009

Vegetable Soup


As cold windy days are here already, naturally the soups have started to play an important role at dinner-time, at least in my home. Not only does it shortens the time I spend in the kitchen (lazy me), but also the fact, that it is a comforting and a fiber-enriched warming food is undisputable, right? Ideal for a starter but I prefer doing it for dinner, as a one-pot meal by completing it with a salad, some cheese and some bread. Here, I have mentioned the vegetables I added for the soup, but actually, you may add whatever you want, any fresh vegetables will do…. So, here you go…

Ingredients:
2 onions
3 or 4 garlic pods
1 kg carrots
200g leeks
2 turnips
100g celery root
2 big potatoes
2 sticks of butter
Parsley leaves
1 liter chicken broth or water
A tsp of sugar
Salt and 6 or 7 whole black pepper

Method:

Wash, peel and chop all the vegetables into big cubes or medium pieces.

Melt the butter on medium flame, in a big pot.

Add all the vegetables together and sweat them for a couple of minutes. Add just two pinches of salt (you may add once again later) and the whole pepper. Add the broth or water, the sugar and let it cook closed for about 30 minutes or until cooked on medium flame.

Remove from the heat and let it cool down completely.



Blend everything together and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Reheat before serving and add a dash of cream or some cheese or simply some fried onions … My dear non-veggies may also top the soup with some roasted ham or any grilled meat, it’s all your choice, enjoy!!