March 30, 2009

Mango Kulfi & Kudos to Blogger Aid

As many of you know, the food bloggers from across the globe have joined forces and have formed a group named BloggerAid. The growing group of international food bloggers have united in efforts to alleviate World Hunger. "Our vision is a world which provides for and protects the welfare and human dignity of all of its people. A world in which all children can grow, learn and flourish, developing into healthy, active, caring members of society".

BloggerAid has decided to support World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations frontline agency, in its goal to provide food to the less fortunate. For nearly 40 years, WFP has been the largest operator of school meals programs in the developing world.

BloggerAid members are planning to publish a cookbook with the help of all the food bloggers and YOU! and 100 % of the profit from the sales of the cookbook will be directed to School Meals. The cookbook is targeted for sale on Amazon by November/December 2009. Check out the announcement for more details. Non-bloggers can also submit a recipe.

I thought that since I have a strong sweet-tooth, I should be submitting a Dessert!! My contribution to this cookbook is Mango Kulfi. This is the result of my experiment in submitting a recipe to this endeavour. I must say that it was very succesful and I am proud to be contributing this recipe to the book.

As I am not allowed to publish the recipe before the book is released, I can only give you some tempting pictures and a description of how it turned out. The mango kulfi was really creamy and decadent with the perfect texture of authentic Indian Kulfi. The tantalizing flavor of mango turned out to be in an excellent balance with the other ingredients. The flavor of the "spices" added make the kulfi all the more delicious. I garnished it with some chopped mango and pistachios. It is a must-try for all the dessert lovers out there. JM was asking for more every time he tasted it. I am sure he would've finished the entire thing if would've had let him!! I have also fallen in love with this recipe. I definitely will be making more of this. For now, I hope you all like the pictures of this awesome dessert.

The cookbook will contain contributions from many of your favorite food bloggers. I will update you all on the progress of this effort and you can also help by supporting the cause in ways that you can. Thank you all for reading this post with a cause! ;-)

The round-up for Lets go nuts : Almonds will be posted this week. So stay tuned for all the amazing entries from our participants!!

Have a great day!!

March 27, 2009

Homemade Lasagna with Spinach-Egg Pasta, Bechamel Sauce and Italian Sausage Ragu

Guess what!? Its time to reveal the Daring Baker challenge for the month of March. The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow and Company Inc., 1992) as the challenge. Our instructions included making homemade spinach-egg pasta, the challenge being rolling out the pasta by hand, preparing bechamel and if interested, making homemade Meat/Veg Ragu sauce.

I chose to do the Spinach-egg pasta, the bechamel and a Ragu sauce with fresh hot Italian Sausage. I wasnt very excited about doing this challenge, I almost didnt do it. The prospect of hand-rolling the pasta and lack of my previous experience in preparing any kind of lasagna played in my mind and I decided that most probably I wouldnt do it. But then my fellow Daring Bakers posted their succesful challenges in our forum and seeing their beautiful lasagnas encouraged me to do it. Still I wasnt too eager to try it out ......

My experience:

I decided to bake individual portions of lasagna so that I wouldnt have to take any chance that the lasagna would slip and get sloppy while cutting and serving.

I halved the recipe for the pasta, but still had to add 3 large eggs to make the dough. The initial dough was lumpy which turned smooth after a few minutes of kneading. The dough was left to rest for about 1 1/2 hours. The rolling-out part was a little tough, I finished mine by dividing the dough into quarters and rolling them out real thin on the counter. (Check out the picture).

Instead of cutting the pasta into long sheets, I cut them into 4" by 4" squares because of my idea to do individual portions. The pasta squares were dried at room temperature and kept in an air-tight container.

I prepared the bechamel sauce as per the instructions, but again halved the recipe. It was a very simple and quick recipe. I looooved the sauce, the taste and the color was perfect!! The addition of nutmeg really made a big difference in the taste of the sauce, it was amazing!!! I would love to try it out as a sauce for other dishes as well.

The meat ragu recipe given was a bit complicated with a lot of ingredients, I decided to go simple using just Fresh hot Italian Sausage (ground) for my meat ragu. Again, I halved the recipe and used about 9 1/2 oz. of ground sausage substituting it for all the other meats. Using minced onions, celery and carrots, I followed the recipe, using red cooking wine for deglazing. Actually when I browned the meat, no glaze was formed! ;-). I used one 14.5 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes and one 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes for the ragu. In the end I felt that I could probably reduce the amount of tomatoes by a little amount. The ragu was also deeelicous!! I was sampling it by spoonfuls in between the cooking.

Last night, I cooked the pasta in salted boiling water and as per my decision to bake the lasagna in individual portions, I made three double lined foil boxes, based on the size of the 4" pasta squares. The lasagna was layered with two sheets of pasta interlaced with the sauces and grated Parmesan cheese. The layers were finished off with a final layer of bechamel sauce and a generous dusting of grated Parmesan cheese. I got two lasagnas with 4 layers each and one with three layers. ( I lost a few sheets to extreme boiling in the water ;-)). I also came up a little short of bechamel for the last portion of the lasagna.

The foil boxes were covered with foil and the lasagnas were baked at 350F for about 30 minutes. The foil cover was taken off and baked for about 5 minutes. The lasagna was allowed to rest for 10 minutes in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

Results of the Taste test :

I must say that we liked the lasagna. JM said that the lasagna was delicious and he was happy with his share. Although I liked the lasagna, I am not too crazy about it. For me, the taste didnt justify the amount of work that went into it. It sure was a very time-consuming challenge. Eventhough the individual components of the lasagna were outstanding, they didnt come together to the degree I expected. I expected an explosion of outstanding flavors, but I didnt get it. (Maybe it was my seasoning!). Anyway, I accomplished atleast part of what I set out to do - a few firsts in my culinary journey - my first ever lasagna, first homemade pasta, my first bechamel. I also gave JM a lovely homemade meal and proudly completed the requirements of the Daring Bakers challenge. Eventhough I doubt I will make this again, I am happy that I tried this out. It sure was a delicious and satisfying meal.

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows) #1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows) #2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows) #3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Working Ahead:

The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:

Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:

Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:

Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:

Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)
Preparation: 45 minutes
Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:


A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:

Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.


With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:

If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

#2 Bechamel
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)
Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes & Cooking time 2 hours
Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:

The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:

Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering:

Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

Do check out the awesome "baked-masterpieces" of my fellow Daring Bakers. Check out my previous Daring Bakers Challenges here.

Entry to CLICK : March 2009

This picture of the lasagna is my entry to Click event of Jugalbandi for the theme Wood.

March 25, 2009

Ginger Chutney ( Inji Curry)

Inji Curry or Ginger Chutney is one of my favourite condiments from Kerala cuisine. Last year, we had my in-laws visit us here in MN. During that time, I had my MIL prepare some of her signature Kerala dishes and had posted about them. I still have a few left from last year's collection, some which I had not had a chance to share with you all. This recipe for Inji curry is simple and very delicious. Inji curry is usually a must have during "Onam sadya" which is a festive meal served on plantain leaves along with rice and a wide assortment of curries and condiments. The perfect combination of sweetness, sourness and spicyness makes this simple chutney one of the tastiest sides to an Indian meal. But we dont need to wait for festivals to enjoy such fine curries and condiments, do we!? ;-)

I thought that I'll have my MIL make this and keep in the fridge for use after she is gone. But I am not exaggerating when I say that it was gone in days. It was lip-smackingly good. Try this out and you'll love it. Since she worked without measuring spoons, the amount of ingredients are approximates. Please feel free to work around with the recipe to tailor it to your tastes.

Recipe :

Ginger, chopped very fine - 1 1/4 cups
Green chillies - 5 serranos, chopped very fine
Onion, small - 1/2, chopped fine
Kashmiri chilli powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind paste (concentrated) - 1 tsp
Jaggery - 1/4 of one block
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - as needed
Curry leaves - as needed


Chop the ginger and green chillies finely.

Heat oil and pop the mustard seeds and curry leaves (if using).

Saute the ginger, onions and green chillies until the ginger turns brown.

The mixture should be dry and the ginger should still have a bite to it.

Add the chilly powder and turmeric powder and saute well.

Stir in the tamarind paste and add water and salt to taste.

Allow the mixture to come to a boil.

Toss in the grated jaggery and cook until the chutney comes to a desired consistency.

Ginger Chutney can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.


  1. The recipe worked well for our family. Please feel free to adapt the recipe to your tastes.
  2. Reduce the amount of chilly powder for a milder chutney.

The deadline for "Lets go nuts : Almonds" is March 31, 2009. So friends, please hurry in your entries to

Have a great day!!

March 19, 2009

Ramen Vegetable & Steak Stir-fry

I have loved noodles way back from when I can remember. Whenever we would go out to restaurants in India, my first choice always would be noodles. But I never waited around for restaurant trips to enjoy these. The Maggi noodles that we get in India was probably one of my favourite quick-fix food back home. My friends and I would come home from college, hungry, and quickly put together the delicious Masala maggi noodles and be transported to noodle heaven. Even now, they never fail to remind me that the next time I go home to India, I would have to make the noodles for our gathering, just for old times sake! ;-)

But in the US the flavors of Chinese food is markedly different from the Indo-Chinese versions that we were used to. I rarely enjoy the noodles available here (preferring fried rice more) but once in a while would long for the flavor of Indo-Chinese food. This recipe is one such making use of the very cheap Ramen Noodle Soup mix, creating a very distinct and flavorful stir-fried noodles. Those who long for the Masala flavors of Maggi would definitely love this. Make sure that you use the Oriental flavor of the ramen noodle which is what lends this dish the extraordinary flavor.

Eventhough the recipe mentions frozen veggies, I have used fresh carrots (slice thin at an angle), broccoli and white button mushrooms. Vegetarians can make the same stir-fried noodles without the steak which I guarantee would be just as good. Do try this out and let me know how it turned out!

I bought the Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook a few months back and have had my eyes on this particular recipe for some time. As soon as I get a chance, I would definitely try out more recipes from the book and share them with you.

Recipe (Makes 4 - 1 1/2 cup servings) :

Beef tip steaks - 1 lb, cut crosswise into 1" wide strips
Garlic cloves - 2, minced
Sesame oil or Vegetable oil - 1 tbsp
Cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp
Oriental Ramen Noodle soup - 1 package (3oz)
Water - 2 cups
Frozen broccoli, Carrots, Waterchestnuts and Red peppers - 1 (1 lb) package
Sesame oil or Vegetable oil - 1 tsp
Whole mushrooms - 1 (4.5oz) jar, drained
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Green onions - 4


In a medium bowl, combine beef strips, garlic, 1 tbsp sesame oil and ground red pepper.

Toss to coat and set aside.

Remove noodles from the package.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.

Break block of noodles into 3 pieces and add to water with frozen vegetables.

Return to a boil.

Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender, stirring occasionally. Drain well.

Return vegetable mixture to the saucepan.

Cover and keep warm.

Rub 1 tsp sesame oil over a large skillet or wok.

Heat over medium-high heat until hot.

Add steak, cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.

Stir in vegetable mixture, mushrooms and soy sauce; heat thoroughly.

Garnish with green onions.

Source: Recipe by Linda Morten, Pillsbury Best of the Bake-off Cookbook.

  1. I used fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli and mushrooms for the stir-fry.
  2. I didnt use water chestnuts because I am not crazy about them. I would believe green peppers would work as well as the red peppers, both of which I havent used for this trial. I also havent garnished with green onions.
  3. The fresh vegetables can either be cooked either by boiling or in a microwave (which I did) - except the mushrooms.
  4. Experiment with additional veggies like celery, peapods, baby corn, onions and chopped cabbage.

I am sending this Ramen Noodle Stirfry to Presto Pasta Nights guest hosted by Aquadaze of Served With Love. Check out the event announcement.

Just reminding you that the deadline for Lets go nuts : Almonds being hosted right here on Tasty treats is March 31. So rush in your delicious entries with almonds to Multiple entries are welcomed. I would love to feature recipes by non-bloggers too. So friends (you know who you are!!) send me your favourite recipes using almonds and a picture of the featured dish and I will include yours in the round-up as well.

Have a great day!!

March 17, 2009

Pineapple Pudding - the one you'll go nuts for!!

Once in a while I come across a recipe, which I would be absolutely excited about, which I am ready to guarantee success for. It makes me wish you could all taste how awesome it is from my post or I could give you samples from my kitchen! This pineapple pudding recipe is one such recipe which is truly out-of-the-world.

I tasted this awesome dessert at a gathering of friends here in MN. We were all blown away by the delicate flavor of the pudding, wanting more and more. My dear friend Jilby gave me the ingredients that went into the pudding and it was so easy to make. Since then I have made the pudding twice, once for a gathering of some other friends of mine (where it was an instant hit) and last weekend, for JM is absolutely crazy about this one!! I experimented with the recipe to find a proportion of ingredients that suited me.

I cant say enough about this pudding! The pudding is very light with no overwhelming sweetness. The tartness of the pineapple chunks against the pudding works really well. The pineapple flavor as a whole, transports you to an exotic island where it is utmost ecstasy for your taste buds. The cool whip gives a very light airy texture to the pudding where as the heavier elements like crushed pineapple and almonds sink to the bottom. After refrigeration, the pudding sets softly because of the gelatin in the Jello. I know this is one recipe that I am going to make for guests and gatherings.

I guess I would also experiment with other flavors of Jello and its corresponding fruit/s. But I am sure nothing would give you the comfort that you would get from this Pineapple Pudding. Thanks Jilby, for the recipe!!

Recipe (Makes enough for an 8*8 square pan):

Jello, Island pineapple flavor - 1 packet (3oz)
Water - 2 cups, divided
Condensed milk - 1 can (14oz)
Cool whip - 1 tub (8 oz)
Crushed pineapple - 1 can (20oz)
Slivered almonds - 1/2 cup


Prepare the Jello according to package instructions. For that boil 1 cup of water and add to the jello powder. Mix well to dissolve. Then add 1 cup of cold water and mix well.

To the Jello, add the condensed milk and stir well.

Fold in the cool whip gently until no lumps remain. Use the whisk to do the final mixing.

Drain the crushed pineapple.

Add the pineapple pieces to the pudding mix.

Toss in the almond slivers and stir well.

Transfer the pudding into an 8*8 square pan or individual serving molds.

Decorate with a handful of almond slivers.

Refrigerate atleast for 4 hours, or until the pudding sets.

Serve chilled and enjoy!


  1. Instead of crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks can also be used.
  2. The amount of pineapple can be changed to taste.
  3. Use almond slivers or blanched almonds chopped coarsely.

I am sending this almond rich dessert to "Lets go nuts : Almonds" being hosted here right on Tasty treats. Check out the event announcement for more details. The last date is March 31, 2009 and multiple entries are welcomed.

Have a great day!

March 13, 2009

Home-made Cajun Cheeseburgers

Once again I am getting the urge to get back to active blogging - to try out new recipes, to bake and cook, to plunge into the vast world world of blog events! ;-) Last night, I decided to experiment with home-made burgers, which I hoped would be simple to make but nonetheless gourmet (atleast in its looks ;-)). I had tried Sloppy Joes for the first time this week, so I had reserved the rest of the ground beef for burgers.

I went pretty simple with the execution, cut the ground beef into three patties. Seasoned it with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning. I am not adept with grills, nor is it the time to grill in Minnesota! I decided to cook it in the pan just like I had done a steak earlier on. I also worked with store-bought hamburger buns and baked them with an egg-glaze and sesame seeds to get the brown sheen on the buns. Finally topped the patties with a slice of American cheese. Served with a side of hot baked crinkle cut french fries (bought frozen from the store), I guess my burgers made the impact that I was hoping for. After baking the french fries as per package instructions, I tossed them in the pan in which I cooked the patties, for an added flavor.

JM was really happy with the execution and my lil LM was after the fries (should have expected that!). I topped mine with a few pickled jalapeno slices and I was in burger heaven, seemed like JM was following too!!

You can add your personal touch to the burger with an endless array of toppings and seasonings some of which include onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, jalapenos, bacon, ketchup, mustard, mayo and the list goes on. You can also experiment with chicken, turkey or even vegetable patties.

Recipe (Makes 3 burgers) :

Hamburger buns - 3
Ground beef - 1/2 pound
Salt and pepper - as needed
Cajun seasoning - 1/2 tsp (for a mild taste), divided between three patties
Butter - 1 tbsp
American cheese - 3 slices
Egg - 1, beaten
Sesame seeds - as needed
Seasonings and toppings - as per your taste.


Cut the ground beef into three patties.

Season both sides of the patties with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning.

Heat a tbsp of butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until smoking hot (almost brown).

Place the patties onto the hot skillet and allow to cook for 3 minutes.

Do not move the patties around too much so that the patties are caramelised.
Flip them over and allow to cook on the second side for 2 minutes.

Close the skillet with a lid and allow to cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove the lid and allow the patties to caramelise on either side.

Remove from heat and place a slice of cheese on top. (It will melt in the heat of the patty).

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F.

Brush the burger buns with beaten egg.

Sprinkle the white sesame seeds on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 2 minutes until the top is browned.

Assemble the burger with the patty and bun and add your favourite toppings.

Enjoy warm with fries.

  1. The burger cooked the way I mentioned would be well-done.
  2. If using cajun seasoning, use salt sparingly as the seasoning contains salt.
  3. I had the oven preheated for the fries, so I browned the buns at 400F. The burger bun can also be browned at 350F for about 5 minutes.

Awards galore:

I cannot help but thank Uma of Essence of Andhra from the bottom of my heart because she passed ALL these wonderful awards to me and overwhelmed me with her love. She is one great blogger and an adorable person. It feels great to be once again accepted and acknowledged by someone like Uma!

I would love to pass these onto,

Happy Cook of My kitchen treasures

Ivy of Kopiaste

Archy of Archy's Recipe Book

Sukanya Ramkumar of Hot n' sweet bowl

EC of Simple Indian Food

Trupti of Recipe Center
Shubha of Chutki Bhar Pyar

Enjoy your awards, girls!!

Have a great day and an awesome weekend!

March 10, 2009

Egg Biriyani & Pista Kulfi for an awesome treat!

I just dont know how fast each week passes by! Dividing my time between taking care of a 3 year old, her pre-school, JM's busy schedule and household chores, I just know that Monday (the dreaded day!!) comes by just as soon as the previous one is over! So these days, I havent done much of baking or cooking "specials", for that matter. I am inviting you to share two excellent recipes that I had tried out earlier, from two other talented bloggers. The first one is Shn's Egg Biriyani and to finish it off with a sweet note, there is Sujatha's Pista Kulfi.

This egg biriyani caught my interest the first time I came across Shn's post on the recipe. Immediately I bookmarked it in my favourites. Last year at Christmas, I decided to give this a try. Just because it was just the three of us on Christmas, I didnt feel like preparing an elaborate meal. And coincidentally I fell sick the two days before Christmas. By that time I really needed something simple. We were all happy with the egg biriyani which is actually a little more complex than the name suggests. One would expect the biriyani to be biriyani rice and masala with just hard boiled eggs. But this recipe is a bit more complex with egg omelettes and homemade masala. I was a bit overwhelmed with all the steps, probably because I was not feeling well. Anyways, try this out and you wont be disappointed.

Check out Shn's Egg Biriyani at Mishmash!

I really dont have to say how much I love desserts. When Sujatha posted this Pista Kulfi recipe, I was itching to make it as soon as possible. But since I am on a small sugar-high dessert ban, I had to be patient. The recipe remained attractive among all my bookmarked recipes. Finally a few weeks ago, I made the kulfi and it was out of the world!! I am not kidding, it was awesome! It was melt in your mouth kind which no one would be able to resist. The best part about the recipe is its simplicity and can me mixed together in minutes. JM absolutely loved it, he was willing to have it for breakfast, if I would let him! The recipe was enough for probably 12-14 kulfi-sicles but they were gone in a day! I just cant thank her enough for this delicious dessert. Dont believe me?, try it out for yourself......

Do try out Sujatha's Pista Kulfi recipe at Spicy Khazaana.

My dear friend Ivy of Kopiaste has bestowed upon me, the Adorable Blog award. I thank her immensely for remembering me while passing on the award.

I would love to pass it on to,

Asha of Foodie's Hope and Aroma

Divya Kudua of Easy Cooking

Priya of Priya's Easy N' Tasty recipes

Trupti of Recipe Center

Aquadaze of Served with Love

Soma of eCurry

Finally, dont forget that Lets go nuts: Almonds is the "happening thing"/ ongoing event on Tasty treats. Do check out the event announcement and rush in your delicious entries with almonds in them, before March 31.

Have a great day!

March 1, 2009

Lets go nuts with Almonds!!

I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting "Lets go nuts - March with yummy - Almonds". This wonderful event was conceptualized by Aquadaze of Served with Love.

During my childhood, almonds were one of my favourite nuts right alongside with cashews and pistachios. But it was kind of hard-to-get and expensive delicacy back home, when compared to cashews. So whenever we would get some almonds, it was treasured and devoured with reverence. After coming to the US, I have used almonds a lot in my cooking. The availability of skinned almonds and even slivered ones make the work much easier and make for them to be a choice nut.

For the event, I was really torn between choosing Cashews and Almonds because Kerala (my homeland) is one of the main producers of Cashews in India, and they were used very often in our kitchen as garnish or in curries or even as a snack. But finally, I chose almonds because for the event the nut had to be actually used in cooking, not just as a garnish, except for if the recipe is a salad, I thought probably it will be easier for all of you to cook with almonds. So there it is, the theme for March is Almonds!!

The science behind the nut : (Wiki)

Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of the tree, also known as Almond. Although popularly referred to as a nut, the almond seed or fruit is botanically not a true nut, but a drupe.

The almond is a native to an area stretching from the northern Indian subcontinent westwards to Syria, Israel, and Turkey. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe and more recently transported to other parts of the world, notably California.

There are two forms of the plant, one (often with white flowers) producing sweet almonds, and the other (often with pink flowers) producing bitter almonds.

While the almond is often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is also a component of various dishes. It, along with other nuts, is often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based dishes. Sweet almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, French macaroons, Financiers, baklava and other sweets and desserts. They are also used to make almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular with peanut allergy sufferers and for its less salty taste.

The sweet almond itself contains practically no carbohydrates and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and cookies (biscuits) for low-carbohydrate diets or for patients suffering from diabetes mellitus or any other form of glycosuria. Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E. They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two "good" fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.

In Ayurveda, an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent, almond is considered a nutritive for brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity.

The almond is highly revered in some cultures. Did you know that in Jammu and Kashmir it is designated as the State tree of Kashmir. Read more about almonds here and here.

Event details:

So dont delay, post your favourite dishes with almonds and send an email to with "Lets go nuts - Almonds" as the subject. You can send as many entries as you would like. If you wish to send older entries, you are welcome, please make a new post with a link back to the announcement. Please try to include either one of the logos in your post. Non-bloggers can send me an email with the picture of the dish and their name.

Do send in these following details in your mail:

Preferred name
Blog name & Url
Post permalink
Picture of your dish

The deadline for the entries would be March 31, 2009. The round-up will be posted during the first week of April.

I cant wait to see all the yummy dishes that you are going to whip up with almonds - I hope I will receive your enthusiastic participation! The almonds should be actually used in the cooking/baking and not just a garnish. I thank Aquadaze, for letting me host her novel and exciting event.

Some sources for cooking with almonds :

Pastry Whiz
Almonds are in!

Samples from my kitchen :

Dessert Pizza with Almonds
Chicken tikka masala
Rogan Josh
Almond Chicken
Nutty Lace Wafers
Thumbprint Cookies
Frosty Coffee - Almond Pie

So have fun and go nuts!!