Thursday, October 31, 2013

Apple - Strawberry and Almond Breakfast Muffins

Even though you can buy a can of fruits or a bag of frozen vegetables from the grocery store any time of the year, autumn weekends are always very special when you would stroll through farmer's market and get the season's best farm fresh produce. Similarly fall is the best time of the year for food lovers. During this season, a number of delicious fruits and vegetables are ready to pick.

Right now the weather is becoming cooler, but your produce choices are heating up.  We have perfect excuses to start baking on cold nights! Today I would share a fall-inspired breakfast recipe which we can call, Apple, Strawberry and Almond Muffins.

These muffins went for a bake sale at my son's school on fall festival. Before this event I heard about bake sale, but didn’t think of making anything for this event. One of his friend's mom asked me to bring something for the sale and so I made these muffins. The remaining muffins turned into our yummy breakfast on crispy autumn morning.

These are made of Spicy cinnamon, delicious crisp of apple, strawberry and almond. When you have fresh strawberries on your hand and fresh apple sitting on your kitchen counter, try these Apple -Strawberry and Almond muffins. This is not only delicious but very healthy too! Muffins belong to the quick bread family and these muffins are very quick to make. You need just two bowls, one for the wet ingredients and other for the dry. Combine them together, you batter is ready! Transfer it into the muffin tins and bake then till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Yummy breakfast muffins are made! If you want giant sized muffins then try this same batter for six. The recipe is adopted from the book What Katie Ate.

Recipe of Strawberry, Apple and Almond Breakfast Muffins : for a standard 12 cup muffin tin


Self rising flour : 1 1/4 cups

Almond meal : 1/2 cup ( if you do not want to buy it separately, can grind sliced blanched almonds and make it to a powder )

Sugar : 1/2 cup

Baking powder : 2 tsp

Lemon zest (finely grated) : of a lemon

Ground Cinnamon : 1 1/2 tsp

Salt : 1/2 tsp

Vanilla extract - 2 tsp

Unsalted Butter : 1 stick or 1/2 cup ( at room temperature )

Large Eggs : 2 ( beaten )

Warm water : 3/4 cup

Apple : 1 big - peeled, cored and cubed

Strawberries (halved ) : 2 cups

Almonds : 1/2 cup ( sliced and blanched )

Light brown sugar : 1/4 cup

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C. Line a 12- cup standard muffin tin with paper baking cups or parchment paper.

2. Put the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and mix them well.

3. In a separate bowl, add vanilla extract, melted butter, beaten egg and 3/4 cup warm water and combine together.

4. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Then add the apple and gently mix to combine. 
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, fill the each cup to about three quarters full.

6. Place 2-3 strawberry pieces on the top of the each muffin. Sprinkle with almonds and brown sugar.

7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Apple - Strawberry and almond muffins are ready to serve!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Narkel Naru / Coconut Ladoo / Sweet Coconut Balls

Today I will share a very traditional Bengali Sweet recipe, which all of us used to love in our childhood days. Bengali pujas are not complete without the same. One week before Durga puja, every home in Bengal will start cutting coconut and then grate it to make this sweet. The smell used to bring a nice feeling that Puja is coming. I am talking about Narkel Naru or Coconut Ladoo.

I should have shared this before the festive season, but I couldn’t find time in the middle of preparations for the Puja! I have made more than hundred pieces of Narus this time for both Durga and Laxmi Puja. Several of my friends started asking if I have uploaded the recipe in the blog. I had to make another round of the same to take pictures. The taste is so addictive that my husband couldn’t stop eating before he finishes at least five.

Narkel Naru which is more like Coconut Ladoo in other parts of India is a sweet dish, made from fresh grated coconut, milk and sugar or jaggery. This sweet Coconut balls are soft, chewy and amazingly delicious. There are three kinds of Narkel Narus. One is "Chini r Naru" which is pure white in color and made of sugar and coconut.  No milk will be added to that. Personally I never like these narus! The second one is "Kheer r Narkel Naru". The one I made yesterday, is made of sugar, milk and coconut! This is the most popular type. There is also "Gurer Naru" that is deep brown in shade and made of jaggery. I did not have any jaggery at my pantry and so added brown sugar in the place of white sugar to half of the coconut mixture. I must say that these came out really good and became just like Gurer Naru!

Making Narkel Naru is not a big deal these days because you get ready-made packet of frozen grated coconut. Unlike our mom or grandmother, we have no time to grate a coconut or to use whole milk in making Narus. I use condensed milk and evaporated milk that make the process simplified and cut the cooking time by half. You can complete the entire cooking in 30 minutes! 

Recipe of Narkel Naru / Coconut Ladoo / Sweet Coconut Balls : for 25 pieces 

Ingredients : 

Shredded Coconut : 1 packet / 340 gm / more than 4 cups 

Evaporated Milk : 1 can 

Whole Milk : 2 cups

Condensed Milk : 3/4 cup. ( if you want you can use the full can too )

Sugar or Brown Sugar : half cup or little less or more than half cup, as per the desired sweetness

Green Cardamoms - 2 or 3 ( crushed )

Method :

1. Thaw the coconut, if you use frozen coconut.

2. Take a heavy bottomed pan and add the coconut. Then Stir it on low flame for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add the whole milk. Once the coconut and the milk mixture will start bubbling, add the evaporated milk and the condensed milk to the pan. Mix it all together and let it cook on low to medium heat. 

4. Add the sugar and keep stirring till the coconut is cooked. Once the milk almost dries up and the coconut mix comes out clean from the sides of pan add the cardamom. Again give some stirs and check the sweetness.

5. Turn off the gas and let the coconut mixture cool down. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle but still it is warm, make some little balls by rolling between your palms. Store them in an airtight box and refrigerate it or you can keep it out for 2 to 3 days. Enjoy Narkel Narus!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No Flour Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll

Hi there!  I am here with the new post after a long gap.  I can’t remember when I posted last time in my blog :-) Last few days I was so busy with our big festival Durga Puja, could not think about anything else other than the festival. We had a great weekend with Pujas and had lots of fun with cultural programs and delicious Bengali food. Shubho Bijaya to my Bengali readers! Soon I will come up with some Bijaya Special sweet dish, till then enjoy this yummy Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll.

This lovely spiral designed chocolate sponge cake doesn’t merely look good, it is very delicious too. It seems to just melt in your mouth. The good part is that it can be stored in the refrigerator for four to five days. The best thing about any sponge cake is that you need only the most basic ingredients. Sponge Cake relies only on beaten eggs whereas making Butter Cake with good volume relies on baking powder.

This Chocolate Sponge Cake is little different from others in this aspect that it does not contain flour. This makes the cake very light and moist. The texture reminds me the molten chocolate cake or baked chocolate mousse. The downside of the cake is quite fragile and so it can crack when you roll the cake around the filling. 

It does contain melted chocolate. You should make sure that the chocolate has been cooled down in room temperature before adding it to the beaten egg yolks and sugar. The filling is up to your choice. You can either use plain whipped cream frosting that I did or chocolate whipped cream.  Also flavor the cream with any choice of your fruit preserves. The process may sound complex but it is not so in reality.  It won’t take long time either. The Recipe is adopted from Joy of Baking.

Recipe of No Flour Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll : for a 17 by 12 inch sheet pan 

Ingredients : 

For Chocolate Sponge Cake : 

Egg : 6 

Semi sweet chocolate( chopped ) : 4 oz or 120 gm

Granulated White Sugar : 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp 

Cream of Tartar : 3/4 tsp 

Pure Vanilla extract : 1 tsp

For Filling : 

Cold Heavy Whipping Cream : 1 cup

Pure Vanilla Extract : 1/2 tsp

Sugar - 2-3 tbsp or to taste 

Method :

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F ( 180 degrees C ) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.

2. Grease a 17 by 12 inch sheet pan with a non stick vegetable spray and line the pan with a parchment paper and then again spray the paper with non stick vegetable spray.

3. While eggs are still cold, separate the white part and yolk. Place the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and bring them to room temperature. 

4. Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Once done, let it cool down to room temperature. 

5. In the bowl of electric mixer or with a hand mixer place the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat on high speed until the mixture is thick, light and fluffy.

6. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate, and beat to combine. Once done, set it aside.

7. In a clean mixing bowl beat the whites until it is foamy. Add the cream of tartar and the sugar, and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

8. Gently add small amount of egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining whites until incorporated.

9. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan with the back of a spoon or a offset spatula.

10. Bake until it is puffed and it is no longer shinny and springs back once gently pressed. It will take 15 to 16 minutes to be done.

11. Remove from the oven and place it on wire rack to cool. Cover the cake with a slightly damped clean kitchen cloth while it is cooling down. This will help the cake to get the moisture.

12. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then put the whipping cream, vanilla extract and sugar into the bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. 

13. Once the cake cools down, take the cake out of the pan, but do not peel off the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream evenly with offset spatula and gently roll the cake, peeling off the parchment paper when you roll the cake. 

14. Keep the rolled cake into the refrigerator for at least 1 to 2 hrs. Then cut it and serve!

Note : You can store this cake in the refrigerator for up to five days. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dhaniya Chicken : Chicken Curry with Fresh Cilantro

In Kitchen, sometimes you plan for a dish but end up making something different. When I was going to try something innovative, a brand new chicken recipe. noticed that I had a bunch of fresh cilantro still left in my refrigerator. Thinking if I try out the new recipe, bunch of cilantro would be wasted, I decide to make Dhania Chicken. It’s a simple chicken curry with lots of fresh flavors. This recipe is for you if you love fresh cilantro. This chicken curry doesn’t need lots of spices, to maintain the fresh flavor of coriander. But surprisingly all the time it came out so delicious that even my conservative hubby had to appreciate J It has become one of his favorite chicken dishes.  

We tried several times Fish curry with fresh cilantro paste or Dum aloo with the same and those are kind of regular dishes in Bengali kitchen. But Chicken curry with fresh Cilantro was not so common in my family before we tried this out. This recipe is very easy and quick that you can make on any busy day.

  • Recipe of Chicken Curry with fresh Cilantro : Serves 5

    Ingredients :
    Chicken : 2 lbs ( medium sized pieces ) Lemon juice - 2 tbsp Salt - Red Chili powder - 1 tsp or as per tolerance Oil - 4-5 tbsp Green Cardamoms - 3 Cinnamon - 1 inch stick Cloves -3 Onions - 2 big (finely chopped) Chopped Green Chilies - as per your tolerance Ginger - 1 tbsp Garlic - 2 tbsp Chopped Cilantro / chopped fresh Coriander leaves : 1 big bunch Turmeric - 1/2 tsp Coriander powder - 1 tsp Kashmir red chili powder - 1 tsp
    Method :
    1. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry. Add the lime juice, salt, red chili powder to the chicken. Toss it and mix it well, put it in a big Zip lock bag and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
    2. Take a deep pan or wok, add 2 tbsp of oil and heat it up. Once oil is ready, add the green cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves.
    3. Once they are aromatic, add the 3/4 of chopped onions. Saute the onion till they become transparent. Add the chopped cilantro and chopped green chilies.
    4. Give some stirs, add turmeric, Kashmir red chili powder and coriander powder. Cook it until every thing is well mixed. Once done take them off from the pan. First let it cool down at room temperature, then make a paste. Keep it aside.
    5. Add the remaining oil to the same pan and heat it up. Once oil is ready, add the remaining onion and stir it. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and saute it for 5 to 7 minutes. Then add ginger and garlic and give some stirs.
    6. Chicken will release water, let it cook until water is dried out. Stir it occasionally to prevent burning at bottom. Add the cilantro - onion paste to the chicken.
    7. Mix it well, keep stirring until oil starts coming up from the sides of pan.
    8. Add salt and add a cup of warm water. Cover the pan with lid and let it cook until chicken pieces are fully cooked.
    9. Once chicken is tender, check the seasoning. Add some chopped green chilies if needed and switch off the gas. Serve Dhania Chicken / Cilantro Chicken with a bowl rice or bread.