Friday, December 30, 2011

Tiramisu Italiano

I remember falling in love with this heavenly dessert called Tiramisu somewhere in my early 20s. That first bite I took of this soft, creamy goodness sealed the deal in bumping this dessert up to my top favorites. Ever since, I've ordered Tiramisu's at as many restaurants as I possibly could and to be honest, not many impressed. This one place in Singapore, The Coffee Connoisseur, stood out to me as the restaurant with the best Tiramisu. It had the perfect light, fluffy and creamy mascarpone texture with the best blend of rum/coffee liquor. I have tried Tiramisu's after that but loved none as much.

Now, I'm not a Tiramisu expert so I wouldn't know if that was the authentic flavor but imagine my delight when the recipe I picked from Food Network's Tyler Florence gave me the same heavenly taste as the one from The Coffee Connoisseur. My eyes literally had hearts dancing in them, much like the cartoons we see.

I loved the recipe even more because it didn't have any raw egg whites to make it fluffy. It may have been lighter with the egg whites, but I don't care. I have a pet peeve in the kitchen - I don't like working with raw eggs. I like my eggs processed in some way or the other. Yes, I know the Tiramisu's I've eaten at restaurants most likely contained raw egg whites but, as long as I'm oblivious, I'm fine.

One thing I would change about this recipe next time is making my own ladyfingers. The ones I got from the store were not really good but, I didn't have the patience to go hunting for good, authentic ladyfingers. In the end, it was scrumptious nevertheless, after sitting in the refrigerator for more than a day and soaking up moisture from the mascarpone cream. The fact that the hubby and I finished a big bowl in two days is testament to that.

Bon Appetit!

Tiramisu Italiano (adapted from Tyler Florence/Food Network)

Ingredients and instructions

  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 8 ounces mascarpone, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup brewed espresso coffee
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup rum (you can reduce this amount if you like it milder)
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 48 ladyfingers
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Cream together egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add 1/3 cup of the Kahlua and continue to whisk until mixture is thick and doubled in volume. This is basically a zabaglione. Remove from heat. Stir in the mascarpone until completely blended.

In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, to lighten.

In a small saucepan, combine espresso, chocolate, rum, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons Kahlua. Heat gently, and stir to dissolve the chocolate. Then, chill the mixture to cool it down, about 15 minutes. Dip each ladyfinger in the chilled coffee mixture for about 5 seconds and arrange in a single layer on a 9 by 13-inch glass baking pan. If you have really good ladyfingers, a quick dunk will do. Do not oversoak the cookies or they will become too moist. Spread 1/2 the mascarpone cream evenly with a spatula on top of the dipped ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of dipped ladyfingers and remaining mascarpone cream. Sprinkle top with cocoa powder. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. You can add shaved dark chocolate on top right before serving, as an option.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint French Macarons

I've been meaning to make these macarons for a while now and was doing my research on the best recipe to follow. Lots of people raved about David Lebovitz and how great his macaron-making skills are. I also gathered how tricky macaron making is and that the glorious 'feet' of the macaron are extremely elusive. It takes a lot of precision technique to get those 'feet'.

For the uninitiated (I certainly was before my adventure), a macaron's 'foot' is the bubbly layer just below the bulbous top. I read many stories of how people had failed batch after batch with flat macarons and I wondered how hard it could be. I learnt my lesson when I got the near-perfect batch only on my third attempt. I still don't think they're perfect because I didn't get a great dome but, I at least got the ever-elusive 'feet'!

I made a few changes to David Lebovitz's recipe because I felt a few things were off (following his recipe to the T made the macarons extremely sweet - that's what I thought even though my tolerance for sweetness is very high), but I got the basics from him.

I also found this amazing tutorial on Youtube by someone called Chefnini, on how to fold the batter which made a world of difference to the success of my third batch.

Hope these help if you decide to try your hand at macarons. And if you're a veteran at them, I hope you think I did them justice. Either way, Bon Appetit!

Chocolate Macarons (adapted from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients and instructions

  • 4/5 cup powdered sugar (basically just a little less than a cup)
  • 1/2 cup powdered almonds (you can either get store-bought almond powder or make your own powder with blanched, well-dried almonds, which is what I did)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325 deg F (160 deg C).

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready. Since I had neither, I used regular aluminum baking sheet to bake and a ziploc bag with the tip cut to pipe the icing. It worked like a charm, no harm done. Sometimes you can't substitute ingredients or equipment but this is tested, so don't sweat it.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor. This also smooths down any lumpy almond pieces if any.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer or an electric beater, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, gradually add (extremely important to add gradually because your macaron will go flat if you just dump all the sugar in one go) in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in about 5-6 batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

Pipe the batter on your prepared baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons - you can omit this if you want because I didn't really see any visible difference. Let the macarons stand for at least 20-30 minutes so the top of the macarons dry a bit, essential to always get the 'feet' at the bottom. Bake them for 10 minutes, then turn the oven heat down to 300 deg F (or 140 deg C) and continue baking for 3-5 minutes. Let cool completely, then remove from baking sheet.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting (adapted from ABC's Good Morning America)

Ingredients and instructions
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peppermint candy (about 7 peppermint sticks), finely crushed
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the peppermint candy, confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon peppermint extract.

Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend up to 1 tablespoon milk if the frosting seems to be stiff.

Frost the bottom of a macaron and fuse another to it. Let them sit for a couple of hours so the flavors fuse together. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Curried Chicken Pasta

When it comes to quick dinners, I love dishing out pasta and experimenting with the sauce or the meat that goes in it. I was a bit bored of the regular white sauce or meat sauce and wanted something different. I remember watching this short ad segment on Food Network where Aarti Sequeira demonstrates a quick and easy butter chicken where she'd first marinated chicken in yoghurt, ginger and garlic pastes before frying and adding it in a readymade mix.

I thought I'd incorporate that style and come up with my own marinade, making my pasta sauce with that as the base. I'd run out of yoghurt and had to look for substitutes. By the time I fiddled around the kitchen and threw stuff in my marinade, it turned out to be a curry-based chicken. It was so yummy! The final dish didn't taste completely like curry but, the hints of it added a beautiful touch. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients and directions:

For the marinade

  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Season with salt

Mix all the ingredients together. Cut about 3/4 pound boneless chicken into small cubes and toss in the marinade and refrigerate for half an hour. 

For the sauce
  • 400 ml chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cream

Heat pan. Put the chicken and the marinade in the pan directly and let it cook for a while. That's right, you don't need oil in the pan since the marinade already has olive oil, you can add a little bit of olive oil later on when you mix the pasta and it feels too dry. 

Saute the chicken till they brown slightly on all sides. Add the chicken stock, minced onions, dried basil, tomato sauce and cream. Once the mixture comes to a boil, simmer and let the chicken cook completely, for about 15-20 minutes. 

If the sauce is still very watery, turn the heat up to high and let the liquid thicken. I added some frozen broccoli and mushroom mix 5 minutes before it was done.

Toss with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Almond Cherry Souffle with Warm Chocolate Sauce

The past couple of weeks have been extremely quiet in Beetle's Kitchen. I've been down with different kinds of the flu, plaguing me one after the other. So, for a little over two weeks, my taste buds abandoned me and even the sight of the kitchen made me want to throw up. It of course goes without saying that I haven't been inspired to try anything new and hence, there hasn't been anything worthy of sharing here. 

But, a couple of days back I was watching an episode of The Next Ironchef - Superchefs and a couple of the chefs made souffles with the ingredients given to them. The guru himself, and my favorite, Jeffrey Zacharian Geoffrey Zakarian (I'm ashamed to have gotten his name wrong earlier :S), blew the judges off their seats with his finesse and perfect technique in the kitchen generally and also his perfect souffle. He'd made a blueberry souffle with a sauce whose name I've forgotten. As with any Food Network cooking show, I thought I'd check the website to see if any of the chefs recipes were online. Believe it or not, every chef, cook, ironchef has recipes on the site except, you guessed it, Jeffrey. His dishes really are his best kept secrets.

I decided to hunt for souffle recipes on other sites and wanted something that would use cherries. I had a bag of them and thought I'd try them in a recipe instead of wolfing them down fresh. That's when I came across this german site with a recipe for Almond Cherry Souffle. Bingo! That was it. I made a couple of changes to the original recipe and the result was delightful! I'd forgotten what a lovely combination cherries and almond essence made. The warm chocolate sauce is absolutely to die for. I licked the leftover chocolate sauce clean.

The only regret I have is not taking any pictures of the souffle fresh from the oven. They had risen like beauties and had fallen by the time I finally got some pictures of them. So please excuse the fallen souffle pictures. They still tasted heavenly! Bon Appetit!


  • Butter for preparing ramekins
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 recipe warm chocolate sauce (recipe below)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 6 8-ounce ramekins, place on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Combine cherries, lemon juice and almond extract in a blender and puree until very smooth and almost fluffy. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large, clean, metal bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until very soft peaks form. Continue to beat while slowly adding sugar in a steady stream. Beat until peaks are stiff but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to beat one-third of egg whites into cherry puree. Gently fold puree into remaining egg whites. Divide this mixture among ramekins and smooth the tops. Bake just until well-risen and beginning to brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

Serve the souffles immediately. Top with chocolate sauce, if desired.

Warm Chocolate Sauce:

Heat 2 or 3 inches of water in a small saucepan to a low simmer. Combine 5 ounces coarsely chopped German milk chocolate with 3 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a heatproof bowl that fits over saucepan — bowl should not touch water. Stir until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and stir well until smooth; serve immediately. (Sauce may be reheated by setting it over simmering water as in preparation.)

Please excuse the dents on the souffle, made by a clumsy baker :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Honey Sesame Tofu

Tofu is an ingredient I came to love during my stay in Singapore. My favorite preparations of Tofu were a deep fried dish that accompanied our steamboat meal and a variation called Tao Huay, which is a silken custard in syrup. Now, Tao Huay was my absolute favorite dessert there and I could eat it day in and day out. The fact that a little food shop in the opposite block sold this sweet, heavenly goodness, made me go nuts over this nearly everyday!

So, when I walked past the Tofu aisle in a Korean supermarket here, I grabbed it hoping to try my hand at a Tofu dish. I haven't ventured into Tao Huay yet but, I settled for mixing up a version of Honey Sesame Tofu for starters. This recipe is an inspiration from a lot of places I was looking at and also my new habit of just throwing things together as the spirit leads in the kitchen. So, hope you enjoy...Bon Appetit!


For the sauce -
  • 4 teaspoons Soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • ½ teaspoon dried onion
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely cut coriander leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sesame oil

For the slices -
  • 1 carton (12 oz or 350 gms) firm silken tofu, well-dried 
  • Cornflour to dredge


Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and keep aside.

Before you start working with the tofu, make sure you dry it out completely since that is critical to the cornflour sticking to it properly while frying, to give it a nice crispy crust. After you've got it nice and dry, cut the tofu into ¾ inch slices.

Toast 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds in a flat pan on medium flame till lightly browned. Set aside.

In the same pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan.  Dredge the tofu slices in cornflour and place in pan. Fry for 5 minutes, till the lower side is browned. Flip over and fry another few minutes till the other side is brown as well.

Once the sides are well-browned, add the sauce and let it cook for a few minutes. Turn the tofu slices over gently to coat all slices with the sauce.

Top with the toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Buns

Lately, I've noticed that I buy fruits, vegetables or meat that I have no idea what to do with but, get them anyway to try something different. Case in point, 3 granny smith apples that were sitting in my fruit basket wondering when I'm going to use them. The first thing I thought of was Apple Pie. But, I wanted to do something different since I've already made apple pie/crumble before. And that's where inspiration struck - how about I just re-purpose the basic elements of apple pie (crust and filling) in a different manner, at least to me. I thought of rolling the crust with stewed apples, just like you would with cinnamon buns. I know this is not a novel idea, but this is how I went about it. I got the bun dough recipe from Food Network and made the filling on my own. Bon Appétit!

Cinnamon Apple Buns

For the dough - 
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the apple filling -
- 3 granny smith or cooking apples
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

For the glaze -
- 1 cup powdered/confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder


Make the dough (adapted from Food Network's almost famous cinnamon buns): Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until it reaches about 100 (since I don't have a food thermometer, I just heated it up till it was medium warm though I could've made it a little more hot)
. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar (don't stir). Set aside until foamy, 5 minutes. Whisk in the melted butter, egg yolk and vanilla.

Whisk the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the salt and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until thick and slightly sticky. Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, 6 minutes. (Add up to 2 more tablespoons flour if necessary.)

Remove the dough and shape into a ball. Butter the mixer bowl and return the dough to the bowl, turning to coat with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 hour 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough in a rectangle (horizontal) which is about a 1/4-inch thick. Spread your filling, leaving an inch on the long side away from you. Brush that one inch strip with water. Start rolling from the long side close to you, outwards, till you get to the end brushed with water. Seal the water-brushed end to the roll. Cut in 1-inch slices. 

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; place the buns cut-side down in the pan, leaving space between each. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 40 minutes (Yes, it rises again! and also during baking). Preheat the oven to 325degF.

Bake the buns until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan 15 minutes or longer so the filling stays intact. 

Make the filling (best time is when the dough is rising): Peel apples, core and chop into 1/2-inch thin pieces. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the apples and brown sugar. Let it cook till apples start getting tender, about 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg powder. Let it cool.

Make the glaze: Mix all the ingredients together till you get a consistency that allows you to drizzle. You can add more sugar to thicken or milk to loosen depending on the consistency you like. Drizzle or spread on the buns and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spinach Basil Pesto

Pesto sauce is one of the easiest sauces to put together. You throw a couple of ingredients in the blender and voila, your pasta sauce is ready. If you team it with whole wheat pasta and baked chicken, you have a wholesome healthy meal right there. It's a great way to get your greens in.

The spinach and basil complement each other beautifully, giving you a fresh burst of flavor. You can have fun with any number of combinations, though I feel the little bit of basil you add in really makes a huge difference. So, go to town with your experiments. Bon Appétit!


  • 5 cups spinach, with stems cut and washed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (if they're tiny ones, add more depending on your taste)
  • 4 tablespoons mix of roasted pine nuts and walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt to season, if you like

Add a few spinach leaves in the blender along with the garlic, basil leaves, nuts and one tablespoon of olive oil. Blend till finely grainy. Add more spinach leaves and olive oil, blend. Continue this process till you've added all the spinach and olive oil. Blend the parmesan cheese. Season and serve mixed with pasta.

There are certain variations to mixing it with your pasta. You can mix it with the pasta on a stove with medium low flame and let it cook for a few minutes. Or, you could put the pasta mixed with pesto in a baking dish, top with a little cheese and bake it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Hola! I have finally finished designing my new blog. Going by how many design changes my other blog, Nuts & Sprinkles, went through in the course of a few months, I'm sure I'll be tweaking and changing things around here as we go.

So, welcome to anyone who's reading this. If you're coming from my other blog, I'm glad that you're here and I hope you'll continue following me here too. If this is the first time you've visited any of my blogs, here's a hearty welcome and I hope you'll stay beyond the first visit so we can swap stories/ideas.

This blog will chronicle my food adventures - the good, the bad and the ugly. Since I had already put up some recipes on my other blog, I moved most of them here so I have a record of all my recipes in one place. Feel free to run through any one of them.

For my first recipe on this blog, I decided to try my hand at molten chocolate cakes from my Betty Crocker book of cupcakes. They turned out quite yummmm! I may have over-baked them a tad because the walls of the cake were a bit thick. I have a feeling the baking tray I placed my cups on may have been the reason. The recipe calls for a cookie sheet with sides but, mine were just the normal cookie sheets. I'll try taking them out a bit early next time. Hope that works. Anyway, for now, I hope you enjoy this recipe. Bon Appétit!


  • Unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 6 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Heat oven to 450 deg F. Grease bottoms and sides of 6 custard cups with shortening; dust with cocoa. In a saucepan, melt chocolate nad butter over low heat, stirring frequently. Cool slightly.

In large bowl, beat whole eggs and egg yolks with whisk or egg beater until well blended. Beat in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in melted chocolate mixture and flour. Divide batter evenly among custard cups. Place cups on cookie sheets with sides.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until sides are set and centers are still soft (tops will be puffed and cracked).

Let cakes stand in cups 3 minutes. Run small knife or metal spatula along sides of cakes to loosen. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over each cup; turn plate and cup over. Remove cup.

You can decorate whichever way chocolate cake speaks to you and add your own garnish. I topped my lava cakes with Cool Whip and sliced almonds. Yum!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin souffle bake

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

The season of fall is beautiful here. The pretty image of different shades of red, orange and brown leaves on trees and roads makes you ALMOST forget the chill in the air. Yes, winter is almost here and my bones are already creaking!

The time is perfect to try some pumpkin recipes. Great timing also with Halloween that just went by. This is a recipe I saw on a Paula Deen show on Food Network. I read a comment about her somewhere - it said that Paula can never cook a dish without a couple of sticks of butter. It is so true! Every dish of hers has to have either mounds or smaller dollops of butter. That's why I try to minimize the number of dishes I try from her collection. But, when I saw this dish on her show, I had to try it, come what may! So, enjoy and forget counting your calorie intake for just a day...or two *wink*. Bon Appétit!


For the pie -

  • ¾ cup flour 
  • 3/4 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I made my own spice mix with ground cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice) 
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 3 tablespoon Butter 
  • 4 eggs, separate the yolks from the whites (add only the yolks first and beat the egg whites separately and fold in gently at the end) 
  • ¾ cup buttermilk 
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree 
For the garnish -
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Start with preparing the garnish. Melt the butter on a medium flame. Add the brown sugar. When the brown sugar starts to melt, add the pecan halves and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off flame and set aside.

Mix the flour, pumpkin pie spice, sugar and salt in a bowl and keep aside.

In another bowl, melt the butter. Add the egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla extract and whisk till combined well. Slowly add the flour mixture. Mix in the pumpkin puree.

Beat the egg whites separately until it becomes fluffy with soft peaks and gently fold into the pumpkin batter.

Grease and flour your baking dish. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and top with the pecan garnish. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. Let it cool for a couple of minutes before digging in.

Dust powdered sugar on top and you can also serve it with maple syrup.

Butter tarts with pecans

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

Easy-peasy recipe for yummy butter tarts I got from Though the pecans in the recipe are optional, I feel the real yumminess comes out because I added the pecans. It seems like they'd have been a little too plain without them.

This is another one of the desserts I made for Easter. It's the perfect tea time snack you can munch on in the evenings (or throughout the day if you're like me!).

Ingredients:(Makes 12 four-inch tarts)

Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry):
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces 
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water 
Butter Tart Filling:
  • 1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) light cream (half-and-half) (10% butterfat) 
  • 1/2 cup raisins or 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (toasted and chopped) (optional) 

Pate Brisee: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 12 - 4 inch (10 cm) rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin tin. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up the dough. Next, make the filling.

Butter Tart Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the cream. If using nuts and/or raisins, place a spoonful in the bottom of each tart shell and then fill the unbaked tart shells with the filling. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Chicken meatballs in gravy

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

As I've been actively cooking, I'm beginning to wean off religiously following recipes and putting dishes together on my own. I do this only when I'm cooking day-to-day stuff so my experiments don't bomb on guests ;) Instead, the hubbs gets to be the loyal guinea pig! If the dish comes out well, I write it down immediately before I forget what went into it.

So, I'd made meatballs before by following a recipe. This time I decided to trust my instincts. And voila, it was quite yummy! I even got the nod from 'pro chef' hubby. Here's how I made it.


For the meatballs:
500 gms Minced meat
1 Egg
½ cup Breadcrumbs
Few sprigs of Coriander leaves
½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ginger-garlic paste
½ teaspoon Roasted garlic and herb powder
½ teaspoon Garlic powder 
For the gravy: 
1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 cup Minced tomatoes
1 medium Onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon Ginger-garlic paste
½ teaspoon Cayenne powder
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
½ teaspoon Curry powder
¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 ½ cups of Chicken broth
½ cup Heavy whipping cream
Salt to taste
Mix all the meatball ingredients together, make 1-inch sized balls and keep aside. 

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, curry powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and a little water and fry till tomatoes are tender and mushy. Pour in the chicken broth and mix well.

Gently add in the meatballs, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes on medium heat. Add the thick whipping cream. Check salt level and add if necessary. Mix well, cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes to let the meatballs absorb some of the cream too. (If the gravy is too watery, cook on high till it gets thicker. Be careful to stir regularly otherwise the bottom might get burnt.)

Creamy Cheese Sauce for Pasta

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

What do you do when you have to make a meal appealing to a 4-year-old? Dump oodles of cheese in it, of course. And that's what I did when I decided to make a creamy sauce for pasta for my niece who was coming over for a night stay. You can't go wrong with cheese and pasta. And I was right. The little munchkin ate this without a fuss. Well, even the hubbs and I couldn't get our paws off. So, thought I'd share this recipe with you and wish you many merry cheese-y meals!


  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons butter/olive oil 
  • 1 1/3 cups chicken stock 
  • 2/3 cup light cream/low fat milk 
  • ½ tomato pureed 
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Mix chicken stock, cream/milk and pureed tomatoes and keep aside.

Heat oil and add the flour to it and cook for a minute. Remove from heat and slowly add the liquid mixture, continuously stirring to avoid formation of lumps. Place it back on the stove on medium heat and stir till it thickens. Add the cheese and let it melt in.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your favourite cooked pasta and serve.

Peach & Blueberry Crumble

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

I've been collecting and trying out recipes to add to my blog for a while now but just haven't gotten around to posting them. I know, my bad! This one is a dessert I'd tried sometime back and was very happy with the way it turned out. It's a recipe I saw on the Food Network by Ina Garten. Ina is one of my favourites to watch since she makes everything look so simple yet delicious. She's the kind of homely cook that exudes something very warm about her.

Ok, moving on with the dish. The recipe calls for blanching peaches so you can get the skin off easily. Did not work for me. At all. I felt like a kitchen dummy when the skin stayed put to the peach whereas Ina's slid off effortlessly. That didn't stop me though. I was hell-bent on showing the peach that it takes more than that to make me crumble (yes, I'll accept that was a lame pun :P). And don't worry, I didn't have a secret conversation with the peach. Seriously.

Once I got past the blanching hiccup, the rest was easy-peasy. So, here's the recipe and a few pictures for all of you. Bon Appétit!

Ingredients & directions:

  • ¼ pound of unsweetened butter, chilled and diced 
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • ¼ cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon 
Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the butter and set aside. 
  • 2 pounds peaches 
  • 2 tsp lemon zest 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup blueberries 

Preheat the oven to 350 Deg F.

Poach the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute, take them out and put them in cold water immediately to blanch them. Gently peel off the skin. Core and cut peaches into 1/2 inch-wide wedges.

Sprinkle the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Add the blueberries, mix all together and put in baking bowl or ramekins.

Top with the crumble mixture set aside earlier. Bake in oven for 40-45 mins.

Chocolate Icebox Pie

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

I saw this recipe on a lovely food blog I follow, One Perfect Bite, and just had to try it out. I was inviting friends over and was looking for a dessert to make. When I saw this, I knew this was the one. I want to say it was like love at first sight, but that would be too cheesy.

It was extremely easy to make and it has already become quite the hit with the hubbs too. The friends loved it! The only note I would make to myself would be crushing the wafers more fine because now it was nearly like lightly crushed cereal. But, if that's something you like, don't crush your wafers too much. Bon Appétit!


For the crust:
  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs 
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened 
For the filling:
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided 
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided 
  • Toasted sliced almonds 
To make crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Combine wafer crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, about5 to 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

To make filling: Sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small saucepan. Let it stand for 1 minute to soften. Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Add 1/2 cup sugar, coffee, water and salt. Cook and stir until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate and vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Beat 1 cup cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold cream into chocolate mixture. Spread evenly into crust. Chill for at least 4 hours to set. Overnight is best.

To prepare topping: When ready to serve, beat remaining 1 cup cream in a small bowl until it begins to thicken. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spread over top of pie. Garnish with almonds. Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Home-made Pizza from scratch

(Archived from Nuts & Sprinkles)

Making pizza at home from scratch is one of the easiest and most convenient recipes. Both in time & ease of following the recipe as well as throwing in leftover meat and vegetables as toppings. This is a great way of sprucing up leftovers so you don't feel bored of eating the same food for days.

I had leftover chicken (a funky mix of roast chicken and spices/sauces that the hubbs concocted) and spinach sauteed with garlic begging me to try them on something new. So, I yanked out my pizza recipe! The reason why I love this recipe is the fact that the pizza base is a no yeast recipe, so there's no waiting for the dough to rise etc. You can finish everything in one go from prep to finish.

This is the second time I tried this and it definitely improved in quality from the first time. But, I believe that's because of the tomato sauce that I put together this time. I usually just throw in whatever I feel like when I'm cooking without a recipe. This time I wrote the recipe down immediately since it did complement the pizza really well. The only note/change I'd make to the recipe is baking the pizza base alone for 5-7 minutes before adding the toppings and sending it back into the oven. It's a fun recipe, so any experiment goes! Bon Appétit!

Ingredients & directions:

For the base/crust -
  • 1½ cups plain/all purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • ½ cup of water 
Preheat oven to 450F.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the olive oil and water. Combine well until the mixture comes together in a slightly sticky dough. Now turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for a minute or two, then roll out onto a pizza peel.

With a traditional dough, you can shape and stretch the crust with your hands but a no yeast pizza dough tends to be a little less elastic so you will probably find that a rolling pin comes in useful here.

Top the pizza with your usual sauce and toppings and bake at 450F/220C, preferably on a pizza stone, for about 10 minutes. A thicker crust may need a few minutes more.

For the Pizza sauce - 
  • 3 medium tomatoes, pureed 
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp parsley or any dried herb of choice 
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder 
Heat pan on medium-high flame and pour the tomato puree in. Add all the other ingredients and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, till the tomatoes are cooked. You can add chicken stock/broth if the liquid dries up quickly.

For my toppings, I first slathered the pizza sauce on the base, followed by the chicken, spinach, onion slices and Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese.

Potato Salad with Bacon

This is another recipe that tastes yummier than store-bought potato salad. If you have all the ingredients at home or are up for a quick grocery run, I'd go with this recipe any day over the ones I get from the store. It's simple and easy to whip up, especially if you're using ready-made bacon. It doesn't get easier than that! I adapted this from a Food Network recipe by chef Robert Irvine.

This creamy goodness has a lot of flavor. Bon Appétit!

  • 2 pounds small red potatoes scrubbed and quartered 
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard 
  • 6 scallions, chopped in 1/4-inch segments 
  • 1 red onion, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped 
Place potatoes in cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to medium, letting them cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, saute bacon on low heat until crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel and discard the grease. Or if you're using ready-made bacon, you can omit this step!

Drain the potatoes, but DO NOT rinse them under cold water. Rather let them cool for about 6 to 8 minutes on a sheet pan.

In a small bowl combine vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, scallions, onion, sugar, and salt and pepper.

Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl and sprinkle bacon and hard boiled eggs over them. Then fold mayonnaise mixture into the potatoes and serve at room temperature.

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