Thursday, 4 February 2016

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Rum Sauce

Thick white slices of french bread soaked in a pool of dreamy white chocolate sauce, this White Chocolate Bread Pudding is truly the ambrosia of the Gods!! Incredibly rich and decadently indulgent, this dish is surely not for the faint-hearted. 
When I read the recipe for the first time I took a double take when I read through the ingredients list- 18 egg yolks!! Seriously? But believe me it works!! It really works!! 
The bread dipped in the rich chocolately creamy dense custard and topped with the rum chocolate sauce - It all comes together in a beautiful explosion of flavors which will have your taste buds begging for more and more and some more... 
Every month my son's school hosts a staff appreciation lunch. This month the theme was Mardi Gras with a Jambalaya Luncheon and for dessert they served the white chocolate bread pudding. Any parent volunteer who was keen to help out was mailed the recipe so that they would have consistency across all the dishes. This particular recipe mailed to me by one of the PTO members, I believe is attributed to the chef (known to one of the teachers in the school) from the restaurant Coosh's Bayou Rouge in Tallahassee, Florida. It is also featured in the Junior League, Texas Tables Cookbook.
I was a bit apprehensive before I set out to make the dish but seeing the fabulous response that it got at the luncheon (there were people coming back for seconds and also third helpings too and quite a few takeaway too!!) and I was constantly doling out the dessert at a neck breaking speed trying to keep up with the demand for people showing up for it. I think I must have gone through atleast 9-10 big dishes in one and a half hour I was there. I  can now understand what the contestants in the Masterchef show must be going through in their team challenges, cooking and keeping up with serving a huge crowd.
But what a pleasure it was!! it it was great to see the staff members thoroughly enjoying themselves. This is such a small way to show our appreciation compared to the great service that they our providing to the nation and the lasting contribution they make to our lives by handling our little brats in such a wonderful way!! Hats off to all of you!!

Ingredients for the pudding (Serves 8-10)
18 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
tsp nutmeg
1 qt  heavy cream 
8 oz. white chocolate chips 
1.5 inch slices of french bread 

Rum Sauce for White Chocolate Bread Pudding
3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 qt heavy cream
4 oz white chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup rum

Place heavy cream in sauce pan, when it starts to simmer 
 add white chocolate chips
and continue to simmer until chocolate melts completely
 Keep aside till the mixture is very cool.
Cut the loaf of bread into approximately 1.5” slices and arrange as in the pic below.
 Place bread in pan, laying half of each slice on the other. 
If you haven't done so already, separate the egg yolks and egg whites. How pretty they look!!

Yes you will have a whole lot of egg shells and a lot of egg whites. I freeze my egg whites for later use.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and nutmeg

 till they are creamy.
Add cooled cream mixture into whisked mixture slowly, if cream mixture is still hot it will start to make scrambled eggs if you put it in too fast.
Pour this mixture over bread and place in refrigerator to set.
You can leave it overnight or do this in the morning and bake it at night in time for dinner.                           

 In the morning, bake covered for one hour at 350 degrees, then uncovered for 10 minutes. 
  Unless your oven runs hot and you might want to cut that back a bit. It could still be a little runny, so if it isn’t burning, let it cook a little longer.
Can also be made a day ahead. cover with foil and refrigerate. Reheat the covered pudding in 350 F oven for 30 minutes before serving. In my opinion the bread pudding tastes good as it is but if you want to add an extra kick to the dish serve with with the White chocolate Rum sauce. 
To make the sauce :- Mix all in sauce pan and simmer until a little thicker than heavy cream.
This is plenty for one or even two pans of pudding.
One can never have enough chocolates in their life time!!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Brownie butter cake

Craving a cake right now? Or do you feel like having a brownie? Or are like me and cannot  make up your mind and feel like having both cake and a brownie. What if I tell you that you can have the taste of both brownie and cake in the same bite? Can't believe it? It's true. You can actually get both of them in one bite. Its like hitting two birds with one stone!!
Close your eyes and now picture yourself sinking your teeth into the gooey-ishness of a brownie and tasting the rich vanilla dense butter cake all at once, you will start feeling as if you are in a dream cake heaven its so wonderfully delicious. Life can't get better than this- atleast for me.
Here is a wonderful recipe for a brownie butter cake which has a layer of both a brownie and cake in the same pan. The trick is that you bake the brownie first and while the brownie is baking, make your butter cake batter and pour it over the baking brownie and smoothen it quickly before popping it back into the oven. And voila your double treat is ready!! Sounds simple doesn't it?
Serves 8-10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 55 minutes
(Recipe adapted from Kevin Chai- I Love Butter Cake too)

To make the brownie:
5oz dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Egg
¼ cup all-purpose flour
To make the butter cake:
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
3 ½ Tbsp fresh milk
Grease and line a 8" baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350F.
To make brownie, melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove and leave to cool slightly. Stir in the brown sugar and whisk well until completely blended.
Add in egg, mix well to incorporate fully. 
Fold in the flour, mix gently until well combined. 
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove.
While your brownie is baking prepare the batter for the butter cake.
Beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold in sifted flour and baking powder, alternately add in fresh milk, mix to form batter.
Spread the butter cake batter over brownie.
Bake in the preheated oven at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the comes out clean.
Sit back and enjoy your double treat.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Khow-suey (Curried Chicken and Noodles in Coconut milk)

I wonder how many of you have heard of or tasted Khow Suey? Let me tell you, if you haven’t had a taste of this fabulous dish you are seriously missing out on some great flavors.
Khow suey is a Burmese dish made of chicken curry with coconut milk and noodles and served with a wide array of accompaniments. It is believed that this dish originated in Burma and came to East India with Indians who migrated during the World war II. 
I first had a taste of Khow-suey years back at a friends house and instantly fell in love with it. What I love about this dish is that it is essentially a no fuss, one pot meal, filled with tons of flavor. Warm and hearty, it is just what the doctor would order to warm your insides in this cold weather and guaranteed to blast your winter blues away in a jiffy. 
Served with an array of delicious garnishes like crispy fried noodles, crispy burnt garlic, red pepper flakes, boiled noodles, crushed peanuts, caramelized onions, slices of hard boiled eggs, chives and wedges of lemons on the sides add to the glamour quotient of the dish. The way to have it is to add in a little bit of all the garnishes, top it with the chicken coconut curry and then squeeze a bit of lemon and lap it all up. The whole dish comes together in an explosion of flavors
Though the ingredients are really simple,it does take a little time to get them all ready but the end result is so great it is well worth the effort. The ingredients are easily available in the Asian section of any supermarket. Some of you might find the smell of fish sauce a bit too strong but I feel it is an essential addition to the dish as it is what gives the dish an authentic taste. But if you are strongly averse to the smell and taste avoid it by all means.
It is also a fun dish to make for your family or when you have friends over where everyone can enjoy adding up the ingredients and adjusting the seasonings according to their preference.
Go ahead and try it out and fall in love with this dish just as I did.
Serves 5-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

To boil the Noodles
2 cups Noodles
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
For the Chicken Gravy
11/2  pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 small onions, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
½  tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp salt
 6 cups chicken broth
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3 tbsp. fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
3 Tbsp Gram flour, soaked in 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes  (can be found in Indian market but can be omitted if not easily available)
1 cup fresh coriander, chopped
Dried red chilli flakes
Salt to taste
Lemon wedges
For the Garnish
4-5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
¼ cup chopped and fried garlic
2 cups boiled egg noodles
 ¼ cup fried onions
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
1 cup fried noodles
¼ cup crushed peanuts
¼ cup chives, chopped
Red pepper flakes
2 lemons cut into wedges
Boil the water as required for the noodles with salt and garlic. Add in the noodles and boil till al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. Keep aside.

Cut the chicken into 11/2 inch cubes.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the onion, ginger and garlic paste over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and paprika and continue to stir fry.
Add the chicken, fish sauce and salt. Stir fry the mixture for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken broth to the chicken and bring to a boil over moderate heat.
Add the gram flour liquid and cook for 20 minutes, stirring continuously.
The gravy will begin to thicken.
Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and cook for 10 minutes more stirring continuously.
Turn the heat off.

For each serving fill the soup bowls with ingredients in this order:
11/2 cup egg noodles
1 tbsp onion slices
Hard cooked egg slices
1 cup hot chicken curry
2 tbsp crispy noodles
Crispy fried garlic
Crushed peanuts
2 tsp fresh coriander
2 tsp green onions
Chilli flakes to taste
Lemon wedges to squeeze over all.

I would highly recommend using all the garnish ingredients.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Restaurant Style Butter Chicken and a New year Message for all of you

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 
― Neil Gaiman
We are just a few hours away from welcoming in the New Year 2016!! (I started writing this post yesterday but obviously as you can see I couldn't finish!!) 
So first things first: Wishing all you wonderful people a Happy new year. May the year 2016 be filled with lots of good cheer and happiness - a new year full of hopes, inspiration, dreams and new beginnings for each one of us. 
As we take our first few steps into a brand new year, let us pledge (especially the 24 hour-on-duty, no time to be sick, no-holidays-ever moms) to take out a little time to live our dreams and grab every opportunity thrown at us, to take a step forward and do things that really mean something to us and make us happy, however small and insignificant those things might be in the eyes of another person.
Let us move forward and live in the moment, knowing that time will never turn back its clock, as each moment wasted can never be found again, it is lost for ever!! 
Let us begin to live a little for ourselves, not to get bogged down by the monotonous day to day chores, always trying so hard to live up to someone else's expectations. From experience you realize that try as hard as you might, you would never be able to make anyone 100% happy. So live your life first, because in the long run if your soul is happy, you can reflect the same happiness to others around you. 
Be positive yourself and before you start looking for the faults in the other person, try hard and remember the good points they might have (Believe me!! everyone has some!) - in the end you might start looking at that same person in a completely different light. 
Well!! This is exactly what is going to be my new year resolution, my mantra for this new year!! 

Last year was quite eventful for me. Leaving a well settled life in India we made this huge decision to move half way across the world, bag and baggage to America and started life literally from scratch here. A year back when we landed in Houston with just two suitcases each, things were so uncertain, it felt as if we would never be able to build back our life together as we had back home. Everything looked so distant at that time but touch wood things have worked out well and everything seems to have fallen into place. 
It has been a good year, full of new learning and experiences. And I loved it that I got to travel and see some great places, which I absolutely love doing. (In fact when I was younger I wanted to be an Air hostess so I could travel extensively and see the world). Apart from missing friends and family back home, the other thing that I haven't been happy about is that, much as I would have liked to, I haven't been able to concentrate on my blog, with so much going on this past year. 
But not worrying about it too much right now, as I am a firm believer in the saying that "Everything happens for a reason and that there is a right time and place for everything!!"
Right now, I feel this is my time to experience this new change in my life, explore new places and create new memories.

With this thought I will leave you all to welcome the new year with this delicious recipe of Butter Chicken. This recipes is a bonanza - kind of buy one get one free type of deal. Along with the butter chicken recipe you get the recipe for tandoori chicken free. So you hit two birds with one stone. Feels good doesn't it. Didn't I say you were off to a great start this year?
You can make the tandoori chicken in an oven or over a barbecue to give the lovely charred smoky flavor. I did mine in the Philips Airfryer - my all time favorite kitchen companion for grilling everything and anything right from meats to your veggies. If you would like to grill the Tandoori Chicken in the Philips Airfryer you can read it here in my other post. It is a great gadget for people who are health conscious but can't resist good food like me. It cuts down your oil content by nearly 70% and that is huge. I personally vouch for it and am a big fan of it. If you want to know more about this wonderful appliance read my review here.
Stay blessed and healthy. Have a wonderful year ahead full of love and happiness and beautiful memories!! 
Cheers to a New year!!

Prep time: 20 minutes plus 2 hr marination
Cook time: 30 minutes
For the grilled Chicken
For the marinade
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp mustard oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds/ 1 kg boneless chicken cut into cubes (you can also use chicken legs or thighs)
1 tablespoon oil for basting
For the Tomato Sauce
4 pods green cardamom
6  tomatoes finely chopped
2 green chillies
1 tbsp garlic paste
3/4 tsp deghi mirch powder
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp cashew paste
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter 
4 tbsp cooking cream
a few springs green coriander
2 tbsp cream

In a mixing bowl mix together all the ingredients of the marinade. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Then add the chicken and mix well. Cover and marinate for 2-4 hrs.
Preheat the oven to 430 F.
Skewer the chicken pieces and grill in the oven basting at regular intervals for 8-10 minutes until done. Alternately thread the marinated chicken into skewers and barbecue over hot coals basting with oil till the chicken is tender and done.
Keep aside.
For the gravy
Wash the tomatoes. Boil till soft about 20 min
Grind the tomatoes with green chillies and cardamom to a fine paste and strain,
Heat the butter on low heat in a large frying pan,
Stirring constantly, add in the  garlic paste and cashew paste and saute till brown.
Add the tomato paste and cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in the grilled chicken, salt, deghi mirch, honey, cream and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. You will know when it is done when the irresistible aroma starts enveloping your whole house.
Add the fenugreek leaves.
Remove from fire. 
Served garnished with a swirl of cream on top.

Do try out the recipe and let me know how you liked it. Sweet and sour and tangy, this dish has to be tasted to be believed.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Beginners Guide To Making The Perfect New York Cheese Cake

Want to celebrate a special occasion with something effortlessly elegant?
Try out this creamy, rich dense cheesecake that is everything that you have ever dreamt it could be!!
Before I tried out this no-fail recipe, I also had my share of disappointments in the shape of dense, sunken cheesecakes before I realized that there are just a few simple rules to follow if you want your Cheesecake magic to work like a dream.
Below here, I am sharing a few tricks with you which I hope would help you a step closer to making your perfect cheesecake.

Tips to bake the Perfect cheesecake :
First and foremost, it is most important that all the ingredients should be at room temperature. So go on, take out your eggs, cream cheese and sour cream from the fridge and put it out on the counter for at least 30 minutes.
I like to use sour cream in my recipe, as in addition to giving the cheesecake a moist, smooth texture, it helps to alleviate the taste by lending a lovely tang which I love.
Also, I found that by adding just a little bit of flour or corn-starch to the cheesecake batter helps insure against the cheesecake top from cracking and results in clean, firm slices, though it does make the texture a teeny-weeny bit denser, and it is not as super creamy as it would be if you bake with only eggs. But the difference in the texture is very slight and can be overlooked if you are looking for a firmer sturdier cheesecake.
A water bath is another thing that helps you in getting amazing results with your cheesecake. Just wrap the bottom and the sides of the cheesecake pan in foil. This helps keep any water from seeping inside through the cracks of the pan when you place it in water. Once the pan is all wrapped up, place the cheese cake pan in a roasting pan or a large baking dish filled with a few inches of water. A steamy oven will help keep the cheesecake moist and prevent it from drying out.
Make sure when you are making your filling, beat it an extra minute or two, so that it is satiny smooth and lump free. 
I like to bake my crumb crust for a quick 10 minutes in the oven before putting in my filling. This gives you a nice crisp crust.
Absolutely, absolutely no opening the oven door to peek inside, however tempted you might be to check on the cheesecake while it is baking. This lets all the warm air escape out and any changes in temperature can cause the cheesecake to crack or sink in the middle.
Also no poking to see if it’s done. All it is going to leave you is a big hole in the middle and we surely don't want that. Just be patient and trust me when the baking time is done it will be cooked. The only way to find out if it is done is to give the dish a slight jiggle. If it is firm at the edges and a bit wobbly in the center that means it is done.
Congratulations!! You know now how to bake the perfect cheesecake, but wait there is a little more to come. Be patient you are almost there!!
The only thing left to do is to chill the cheesecake, uncovered for at least 4 hours or (ideally) overnight in the refrigerator. This is crucial for setting the cheesecake and getting a firm texture.
Now that you have learned all the tips and tricks to make the smoothest, most delicious creamy cheesecake ever, what are you waiting for?
Just follow the recipe below and reach your Cheesecake Nirvana!!
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
5 tbsps. butter
5 pkg (8oz each) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
11/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
5 large eggs
2 tbsps. flour or 1 tbsp. cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 475F.
Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent the water from going in during the water bath.
To make the crust:
Crush the cookies in a food processor or in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin until they form fine crumbs – you should have about 2 cups. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in the microwave or stove top and mix it in the cookie crumbs, the mixture should look like wet sand and hold together when you press it in your fist.
Press the crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch spring form pan.
Place the pan in the oven to bake the crust for 8-10 minutes till just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven to cool completely. Place a large roasting pan filled with 1 inch water while you prepare your filling. This will be your water bath.
To make the filling:
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed till smooth and creamy and no lumps are found. Gradually add in the sugar, sour cream, flour, lemon juice and vanilla. Whisk the ingredients for 5-7 minutes till the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Mix in the eggs one at a time till well mixed.
Pour the mixture into the spring form pan on top of the cooled crust.
Place the cheesecake pan into the water bath in the oven.
After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 50-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Turn the oven off, leaving the door half open and cool the cheesecake for an hour inside the oven.
After an hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath, remove the foil and transfer it to a cooling rack.
Run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the edges. Let the cheesecake cool completely.
Chill the cheesecake uncovered for atleast 4 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
Take the cheesecake out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to serve.
Unmold the cake and if desired serve garnished with fresh fruits. If there are any leftovers, which I seriously doubt, store them uncovered in the fridge.