Appetizer #1 : Baked Mushroom Caps

Easy, bite-sized, quite filling and a fun appetizer!

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You’ll need:

  • Whole Mushrooms : 20-25 pieces (Cremini/White/Swiss brown)
  • Shallots : 2 Finely chopped
  • Garlic : 2 cloves finely sliced
  • Cream Cheese : 2/3 cup
  • Salt & Pepper

METHOD :

  1. Carefully cut the stems off the mushrooms and scrape out some mushroom filling using a small knife or spoon from each cap. Prick the caps using a fork 2 or 3 times. (See pic)
  2. Sautee garlic for 30 secs until it stars turning golden. Add chopped shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the mushroom scrap and sauté for 2-3 mins until its well cooked and blended. Add salt and pepper to season. Turn off stove and let it cool.
  3. Fold in this mixture into softened cream cheese and mix well – Filling is ready!
  4. Fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of the cream cheese filling. Top with some mozzarella.
  5. Preheat oven to 180’C. Bake for 20 mins. – Serve immediately!

Below pic : Mushroom caps after step#1 (Filling scraped out and pricked with a fork)

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Below pic : Cream cheese + shallots + garlic mixture

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Below pic : Before popping it in the oven
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Below pic : Seasoned with salt and pepper and ready to eat.Image

TIPS :

  1. I lightly sauté the whole mushrooms on a pan after I scrape out at step #1. This is to ensure the mushrooms are really well-cooked.
  2. Place the baked mushroom caps on a tissue before you serve them. This is to absorb any excess oil oozing from it after baking.
  3. You can bake 25-30 caps in one batch on a cookie tray

Appetizer # 2 coming up tomorrow. Bon Appetite!

Soup’er pasta for kids!

This is one of the healthiest foods to come out of my kitchen, yet. Its truly a super pasta!

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My kids love it but I honestly don’t know why I finished the title with ‘For kids’. I love this soupy pasta just as much as my daughter does.  This dish also has so much for me to disguise the veggies quite cleverly.  Finally, sprinkle some cheese over the dish and you’ll only  see an empty bowl to clean later. It has loads of veggies. It has pasta and it has cheese – A WIN-WIN dinner for the family.

Here’s the recipe to make this soupy-pasta from scratch.  All in – takes about 30 mins to prepare and serve.

You’ll need :                            

  • Tomatoes: 4 , Onion: 1, Garlic : 3 pieces
  • Mixed veggies: Approx 2 cups  (Carrots, baby corn, mushroom broccoli, Brussel sprouts etc)
  • Water: 4 cups
  • Cooked pasta: 3- 4 cups
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD :

  1. Sauté Garlic for 30 secs , then add onions and sauté until translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and 2 cups water and let it boil for 10 -12 mins (until tomatoes loosen up and peel off).
  2. Remove the tomatoes and onions using a slotted spoon (or a colander) and let the pulp cool for 10 mins. Using a blender/Mixie make a puree out of it. DO NOT DISCARD the rest of the water water.
  3. Lightly sautee all your veggies separately and keep aside.
  4. In a large pan : Pour the tomato puree + its water in a large pan and let it simmer for 5-7 mins. Add the veggies + 2 more cups of water + salt + pepper and let it simmer for 5-6 more mins.  – ITS DONE !

TO SERVE : In a soup plate, toss in a cup of pasta and pour some soup along with  a scoop of veggies. Top it with cheese for the kids 🙂

TIPS :

  1. If your kids are picky eaters and wont touch the veggies: Boil and puree the veggies they don’t like separately and add it back into the soup at step #4 instead of whole veggies. You can use up all your left over veggies in the fridge 🙂
  2. No need to deseed or blanch the tomatoes. Just roughly chop it and throw it into the pan. You’re trying to get your kids to get wholesome food. Don’t discard anything.  This is great dish with enough carbs + veggies + nutrition!
  3. Instead for onions you can use shallots for a greater flavour.
  4.  You can mix some pesto or basil leaves in the end for some aroma.

Banana-Walnut cake

I have my new found love for this cake because it takes only 1/3 cup butter for a whole batch! Finally I can indulge without being guilty 🙂

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YOU’LL NEED :

  • Salted butter : 1/3 cup
  • Sugar : ½ cup white , ½ cup brown sugar
  • Flour : 1 ½ cups
  • Banana – 4 ripe bananas
  • Baking soda : 1tsp
  • Salt : ½ tsp
  • Walnuts : 1 cup chopped.( I used ½ cup walnuts and ½ cup almonds cos’ I was running out of walnuts. But it turned out just great)
  • Egg : 1

METHOD  :

  • In a large bowl cream butter (softened) + sugar + baking soda + salt . Mix well
  • Add egg. Mix well.
  • Add bananas. Mix well. (You can use a masher or hand squish them well)
  • Add flour. Mix well.
  • Stir in the nuts. Mix well.
  • Pre-heat oven to 160’ C (325’ F)
  • Pour batter into a greased baking pan and bake for 60-70 mins

TIPS and NOTES !

  1. You know your cake is baked well if it comes out clean and dry. It should not be greasy.
  2. I am still an amateur baker but from my experience with 3 ovens and loads of recipe experiments I have come to know that baking time highly depends on the oven and the season. I may sound highly scientific (!! :p) but it definitely is true for me.
  3. This Rule #3 is very imp! So , if you have to bake for, say 60 mins . Stop at 30 mins to check on it. Then bake for 5 or 7 mins each time to check on how its doing. At some check point you’ll know if you have to stop already or maybe bake for some extra time over 60 mins. Depends on your oven! That’s what I do. I never trust the online baking time…everything else I follow exactly! This rule has never failed me especially at my first attempts! Once you’ve baked it through, you’ll know your own bake time and the rules that suit you!
  4. You can also make this recipe without the egg.  I added the egg to make it a bit moist. If you are not using egg you should reduce the bake time by ~half. But remember, Rule #3 still applies.

Bon appetite!

Veg Tom Yum soup

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Tom-Yum is a very aromatic and a spicy clear soup with lots of herbs, spices and vegetables. I learnt to make the pure-veggie version of this when I was in Thailand last December. I have been wanting to come home and make it since then, but it took my sore throat to give me that final nudge!  Tom-Yum, apparently also has loads of health benefits and is currently under study (You can Google for more info). This soup may not be very ideal to give kids but it sure can lift up a tired mom’s energy!  In half an hour you can make a big pot of Tom-Yum ready for 4-5 people. Eat it with a cup of rice or noodles and you have a meal ready 🙂 Here’s the recipe.

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You’ll need:

  • Lemon grass stalk : 3-4 (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
  • Garlic : 3-4 pieces
  • Shallots : 4-5 pieces
  • Ginger or Galangal : Thumb sized piece thinly sliced
  • Green chilli :  3-4 pieces
  • Chilli sauce :  3 tsp
  • Soy sauce : 2- tsp
  • Lime juice  – 4 – 5 tsp ( or 4-5 kaffir leaves + 3 tsp lime juice)
  • Sugar : 1 tsp
  • Veggies : Yellow peppers , mushroom, cherry tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, Brussels, tofu etc
  • Water or Vegetable stock : 4 cups
  • Basil / coriander for garnish

Method:

  1. Sautee shallots + garlic for 2 mins.
  2. Add 2 cups water + lemongrass + Ginger (or galangal) + Chilli and boil for 10 mins or until fragrant
  3. Add 3 – 4 tsp chilli sauce + soy sauce + sugar + lime juice  and let it boil for 2-3 mins
  4. Add veggies : carrots, broccoli, Brussels etc and boil for 5 mins
  5. Add mushroom and let it simmer  for 2 mins. Add cherry  tomatoes + Tofu and continue to simmer for 2 mins. Add salt to taste.
  6. Garnish with coriander / basil. Serve hot with rice or noodles!

Tips:

  • I like to lightly sauté veggies like Yellow/Green peppers, Brussels, Mushroom.
  • If you like you can remove the lemon grass pieces before adding the veggies (step 4) using a slotted spoon
  • It’s not ideal for kids since it’s a bit spicy. But you can dilute it with a water and added a tsp of butter and serve them.

Enjoy the aromatic soup! Definitely try it…worth the effort 🙂

Homemade Pizzas

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Pizza, however common it may sound, has always been a gourmet food when it came down to making one in my kitchen. I have tried making pizza base at home at least 4 -5 times last year and it quite sucked each time. I would almost never get the luke warm temperature of water right or the yeast wont froth up and the dough just wont rise ! So after many failed attempts I would simply use the arabiatta sauce to make a the easy Penna arabiatta. This happened almost every time but I still never wanted to give up until I cracked it . Last month, yes I cracked it and we make home made pizzas at least once a week now!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the base

  • Flour : 4 cups (makes 4 pizza base)
  • Active dry yeast  : 2.5 tsp
  • Water (200 ml warm water + some more of regular temp water)
  • Salt : 1 tsp
  • Sugar : pinch
  • Olive oil : 60-70 ml

Method to bake the base :

  1. Combine the yeast, sugar and about 200 ml of warm water* and mix well. Set aside for 7-10 mins until the water becomes frothy and rises up well.  If it doesn’t become frothy or rise well, discard and redo it. This step is the most important part!
    Warm water TIP: To get the ideal warm water temperature, microwave the water for 40 seconds and use it immediately.  If water doesn’t become frothy try for fewer or more seconds.
  2. Combine flour + salt + 30 ml of olive oil and slowly add the yeast water while kneading well. Add some extra water as needed to make a complete soft dough. Now on a flat work surface knead it well for about 10 mins with the extra oil added in it to make a smooth ball. Coat the dough ball generaously with some olive oil and place it in a big bowl and cover it with a lid / plastic wrap
  3. Pre-heat oven at 200 c and simply place this bowl in it for 1 hour. The dough will double up in size and rise up.
  4. Lightly punch holes in it and knead gently to let the air escape. Make small balls and roll out your pizza base and bake it for 20 mins at 160 C

Method to make pizza :

  1. Spread the tomato sauce (store bought or home made) over the base
  2. Top with veggies. I prefer lightly sautéed ones. You can use veggies like onion, peppers, broccoli, mushroom, feta, olives, pineapple etc
  3. Top with Mozzarella and bake again for 8 mins at 160 C
    Crispy base TIP :  To get a nice crispy base , place the baked pizza over a skillet (buttered) for 1 or 2 mins !

Below pic : The dough 15 mins after it started rising (Forgot to take pic immediately!)

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Below pic : The dough after 1 hour. It had doubled in size.

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Below pic : Ready to eat! Image

Definitely try it out  ….. Buon Appetito (Italian!)

Choco-Nutella cake !

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Thanks to my house-owner who set up a crappy microwave in the apartment. That’s the only reason I think I decided to go and buy myself a new one with a convection system in it. Its been quite a while since I took the time out to bake and ever since I bought it a week ago I have been excited to make cakes or bakes or breads or anything. I just wanted to use it!

The day had arrived. Today it was! I made a choco-nutella cake. Its was pretty simple and quick. I now only regret postponing my oventures (Pun intended. A really bad one I think!) this long.

So, here’s my recipe. It’s fairly easy to whip up and would make a great party dessert or a kids play date treat! You could do up the icing differently , but I decided to simply spread a choco-spread over the cake with a wavy butter knife to get a simple pattern and dusted it with a bit of a cocoa powder and powdered sugar to make it Instagram worthy. Ha!

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Time :

  • 15-20 mins to prepare
  • 25 mins to bake

Ingredients :

  1. Butter :  150 gms
  2. Brown sugar   :  1/3 cup
  3. Nutella   :  80 to 100 gms
  4. Eggs : 2
  5. Flour : 200 gms
  6. Baking powder : 1 tsp
  7. Salt : A pinch (If you are using salted butter you can avoid salt)

Method :

  • Combine Butter + sugar and beat (preferably in an electric beater) until fluffy.
  • Add Nutella and beat on low speed. Add eggs one by one and continue to beat.
  • In a separate bowl add : Flour + baking soda + salt
  • Fold the Nutella mixture into the flour and mix until ingredients are combined really well.
  • Preheat the oven at 190 C (375 F). Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 25 mins!
  • Prepare icing as mentioned above.

Enjoy!

Its quite simple, told ya.

A Dates affair……. Sheik Shake !

Easy, iron-rich and a tummy filling shake!

I’m constantly in need of quick and tummy filling recipes for my kid and this one’s quiet a hit at home. I definitely make this when I have to get my daughter to quickly eat something filling (like before her class) or sometimes a couple of hours before I take her out to a dinner party or a get-together. So even if the dinner is served a bit late…this holds her up!

We all know the goodness of dates. High in fiber and very very high in iron. It’s a great source to increase the hemoglobin (Red blood cells) in your blood.

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This is a thick and a healthy shake ready in no-time! Look at the glass on left…I’ve poured half a glass of plain milk over half a glass of the shake. It just doesn’t mix until you stir them together!

Here’s what you’ll need to make 1 glass :

  • Dates : 4-5 pieces (I used Medjool dates)
  • Milk : ½ cup

Method: Deseed and soak the dates in hot water for 15 mins. This will make them moist and soft. Drain the water and blend the dates with a little bit of milk. After it becomes a smooth paste, add rest of the milk and blend again. Serve chilled! (or hot!)

Tip : If you want to make it light, add more milk.