Friday, February 17, 2017

Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

It's been a while since I've posted anything on the blog and I feel really bad about it. I've just not been able to find my cooking / baking mojo. See, we've had a long, hot summer; really long and really hot. I'm more of a winter person than a summer so I'm all ready for winter now. Unfortunately for us, we haven't had functional aircon for about four weeks now. So you can see why I haven't really been too active on here. I've had to figure out ways to deal with the insane heat levels that heat wave after heat wave brings to Sydney this year.

I was glad to have tried out smoothie bowls recently. They were my saving grace. Healthy, full of flavor and their amazing 'cool you down from the inside out' quality made them a regular occurrence in my kitchen. The first one I tried was this Mango Smoothie Bowl and this blueberry version was really delicious too. I had some blueberries that I should have finished sooner, but I didn't want to waste them so they went right in the bowl for some color. If you love blueberries, this treat is a must try if you are looking for a healthy summer cooler.

A few ingredients and a minute in the blender and a bowl is all you need to whip up this bowl of deliciousness, so I do hope you try it out.




Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

1 ripe banana, frozen
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup milk
4 tbsp Greek yogurt

For the topping -
Sweetened coconut chips
Fresh blueberries
Almonds

Place the banana, blueberries, milk and yogurt in a blender and blitz on slow at first.

Scrape down the sides and blitz till you are left with a soft serve sort of consistency.

Pour this mix into a bowl.

Top with some sweetened coconut chips, fresh blueberries and almonds.

Serve chilled.



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Where can I find Gloria Doublette Paper in Australia?

Hello my fellow crafters in Australia. If like me, you make or want to try your hand at making paper flowers, you will know how hard it is to find German double sided crepe paper.

After a lot of searching, I am happy to report that I have managed to source some Gloria Doublette Paper. This gorgeous paper is made in Germany and has 135% stretch to it. It comes in folded sheets measuring 50cms by 125cms. I have a few colors for sale at the moment, which I am selling at my new Etsy shop here.

While the Facebook page is still under construction, I will be featuring new offers and discounts on it. If you'd like to follow me, my page can be found here.

If you are new to flower making, I have started uploading video tutorials on how you can make them. The videos are available here. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for upcoming videos.

I hope you can find a few colors you can work with. Look out for my flower making kits which will be available very soon.

I also hope to have a few more colors in stock very soon.

Don't forget to share this information with your fellow crafters, family and friends.

Thank you.










Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Basbousa

It's been nice to settle in to my regular routine over the last few days. Truth be told, I do miss being on Holiday and being around family and friends. But there is something deeply pacifying about being back home doing my thing.

I haven't baked in ages. Furthermore, its been about three months since I last shared a baked recipe here. I was tossing between cookies, brownies and tea cakes. And while I was looking, I realized that I had this exotic little gem saved in my massive 'must-try' list. And with a name as exotic sounding as Basbousa, I had to. So as soon as the temperature dipped a tiny bit, I decided to turn the oven on. Basbousa is an Egyptian semolina cake drenched in sugar syrup.

This batter comes together really quick and easily. There's no need to break out the heavy equipment, I just used a whisk. So basically you bake the cake, make a sugar syrup and drizzle it over the cake and top with some sliced / slivered (flaked) almonds and coconut chips and that's it. This is a dense tea cake, so don't expect a light sponge. It has a very different flavor profile compared to a basic sponge too. It has a subtle tang from the yogurt and the lemon in the syrup. Dare I say, it is very deliciously different. My husband really liked this cake. And he is someone who loves a good chocolate cake and the occasional sponge cake. This one though, he has asked me to keep track of, so that we can make it again. Imagine my surprise. But then again, it wasn't overly surprising considering how good this cake is. Try it out for yourself.




Basbousa
Recipe from: The Mediterranean Dish

For the cake -
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural, unflavored yogurt
2 cups coarse semolina
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sliced / flaked almonds
1/4 cup sweetened coconut chips or sweetened shredded coconut

For the syrup -
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
2" cinnamon
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170ÂșC and grease a 9 inch cake tin and keep aside.

Melt the butter and set aside. You can do this in a little saucepan on the stovetop on in a little microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Set this aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and sugar.



Now add the semolina, milk and baking powder and mix thoroughly.



Next, stir in the melted butter and whisk well. Let the batter rest for a while (about 5-10 minutes or so) for the semolina to absorb some of the moisture.

Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and bake for about 40-45 minutes.



While the cake is baking, make the sugar syrup. Place the sugar water and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat stirring occasionally, but only till the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for a few minutes till the syrup thickens. Then take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.



Set aside to cool and then remove the cinnamon.

When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup on the hot cake.



Leave the cake to cool off completely and let the cake absorb the syrup, at least for an hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the almond and coconut chips.



Serve.







  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Goan Meatball Curry

After what seems like ages, I'm finally back. And it's good to be back. I was away for a month and spent Christmas with our family in Mumbai, followed by a mandatory trip to Goa and a short stopover at Panchgani. Those of you that follow me on Instagram would have seen some of my pictures there. Those of you that don't, I would love it if you could join me. I'm on IG as @vaztrisha - Do stop by and say 'Hi'.

I can't wait to share more about the trip with you. However, that wonderful trip ended with an anti-climatic couple of days of jet lag followed by 2 weeks of a cold, stubborn cough and a couple of days of a fever. Am I glad that's over. I hate being unwell mostly, because that means I cannot be up and about cooking and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. But I'm well and truly glad to be back.

One of the first few things I cooked up after getting back on my feet is my beloved Mama's Meatball Curry. I've always loved this curry right from the time I was a little girl. This time when I went to Mumbai, I knew I had to learn this recipe from her. See this is the thing with her recipes, she can whip them up with her eyes closed, but ask her to tell you how she makes it and she may leave out a thing or two, not intentionally of course. So this time around, I got into the kitchen and watched her make it. Yes, I watched her, like a hawk ;)  And I'm happy to report that I got the recipe down and made the curry today and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Ofcourse, nothing can beat the food my Mother makes (even though I follow her recipes to the T, her food always turns out better), but this came pretty close, I tell ya.

This recipe is a little more intricate than most of the recipes I share here, but it is really easy. There are two parts to it - one is making the meatballs and the second is making the curry itself. This curry is full of flavor and goes really well with either plain steamed rice or this fragrant Peas Pulao. If you're not in the mood for rice, it goes well with some Goan bread (Poee) or dinner rolls too.



Goan Meatball Curry

For the Meatballs
1/2 kg beef mince (ground beef)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 green or red chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2-1 tsp red chilly powder
1 egg
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (optional, though it does add good flavor)

Mix all the ingredients together.

Form the meatballs and set aside.


For the curry
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 curry leaves
2 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, to taste (Soak tamarind in warm water to form a pulp)
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into large cubes

Grind to a fine, smooth paste (masala) using a little water -
8 Kashmiri chillies
4 Bedki chillies
3 large cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cloves
10 black pepper corns
2" cinnamon
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 tomato

Heat the oil in a pan and carefully drop the curry leaves in.

Add the onion and saute on a medium high heat till the onions are translucent.

Add the masala and continue sauteeing for a few minutes till the raw smell of the masala goes and the oil starts to seperate.

Add salt, to taste.

Add water to get it to the desired consistency, depending on how thick or thin you'd like the gravy. Keep in mind that the gravy does thicken a little as it cooks. Err on the side of less, you can always add more water as you need.

Gently place the meatballs in the gravy.

Place the potato cubes in the gravy without smashing the meatballs.

Once the gravy comes to a boil, turn the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let the curry cook.

After about 15 minutes, check to see if done.

Check and add more salt, if needed.

Add tamarind pulp to taste.

Once ready, garnish with some fresh coriander and serve hot.

 Enjoy!!!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

As 2016 draws to a close, I'd like to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Holiday Season.

I am spending this season with family and it has been more hectic than I could have ever imagined. I will be back in the New Year with what seems to be a very promising line up of posts. I have so much inspiration at the moment, its kind of dizzying. I hope you take this opportunity to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy their company with good food and create lots of wonderful memories.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Kulkuls

As Christmas comes closer, I see so very many posts of Christmas cookies and treats pop up all over the place. A lot of the treats that you now see have evolved over the years. In the last couple of years, I have seen and tried out a few that are brand new to me and I wouldn't have known of if it wasn't for the internet. These were so much easier and quicker to make than the kind of Christmas sweets I am used to making, not to mention absolutely delicious. Today, however, I'm going to share with you a Christmas treat that I've grown up with. It's a traditional Goan sweet.

This sweet called Kulkuls (cuhl-cuhls), is something I've grown up with. Every year, at around this time the family would gather to make these little treats. And yes, it is a family affair. This little bites of fried, sweetened pastry take a while to make. Since, many hands make for light work, my Grandma, my Mum, my Father (whenever he was on leave from work), my brother and I would sit down to make these sweets. We'd make a massive batch of this every year and it would take a whole evening from start to finish. That being as it is, we'd make Kulkuls every single year. These little fried dumplings can be sweetened to your liking and they have a long shelf life. The batch that we used to make around this time, would last till the end of Jan. In all honesty, they'd probably keep much longer, but they are so tasty and addictive, they'll be finished long before that.

Most of my family recipes, the old Goan ones have been handed down from one generation to another. The weird part is almost all of these recipes, never had fixed quantities of ingredients mentioned. The recipe is very forgiving and I've managed to chart down some quantities for reference. This quantity is a much more manageable batch size than what I'm used to, but you could cut it down further, if you need to. The process should take a couple of hours but I think its all worth it. While I did manage to get step by step pictures of the process, I didn't manage to take a picture of the batch after it was done frying. So for the time being, I am putting up a picture of our platter of traditional Goan Christmas sweets from last year which has some kulkuls on it. I''ll try and get a better one this year.


L-R: Date Rolls, Nankatais, Kulkuls, Chonya Doce, Perad, Milk Cream 

Kulkuls

1/4 kg Semolina (rava)
1/4 kg All purpose flour (maida)
1 egg
A splash of milk
3 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
1/3 can coconut cream
2 pinches of salt
Superfine sugar, to taste (Start with a couple of tablespoons and add more as needed)
Oil, for deep frying

Knead all the ingredients to a dough using milk as needed.

Kneading the dough once its done, should leave a slight trace of ghee on your hand, but only just. If your dough is on the dry side, add a little more ghee and knead again. This ensures that the dough doesn't stick to the forms we're using to shape the kulkuls.

Taste a little pinch of the dough for sweetness. I tend to not make these too sweet so that it cuts through all the other sweetness on the plate. If you think you want the kulkuls sweeter, add some more sugar and knead into the dough.



Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about half and hour.

To shape the kulkuls, you can use a variety of things. We now use these paddles that are specifically used for kulkuls. If you don't have these paddles, you can use the back of a fork or a new, clean haircomb.


Work with a small portion of the dough at a time. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth while you work with the rest. Roll into a long sausage shape and cut into pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, place the piece of dough on the paddle.

Using your thumb, flatten the dough into a rectangular piece as shown in the pictures below.

Starting with the end closest to you, gently life the dough and roll away from you, keeping the roll fairly tight.

Lightly press the edge of the roll to seal it up so that it doesn't open up while frying.

Adjust the size of the pieces of dough to suit the size of the kulkuls you need.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you shape the kulkuls, keep them on a flat tray. I turn a cookie sheet upside down and use the back of the tray.


When they are all done, heat some oil for deep frying.

Test that the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small bead of dough into the oil. If it bubbles in the oil, instantly and comes to the top, the oil is hot enough.

Keep the oil on medium heat.

Gently tip the kulkuls into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pan. Start with the ones that were shaped first.

When the kulkuls are golden brown, drain using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

Repeat with the rest of the kulkuls until they are all fried up.

When the kulkuls have completely cooled down, store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this lovely addition to your Kuswar platter.


** I'm hoping to get more pictures this year and will add them to this post.


If you're looking for other Kuswar recipes, you can find them here -

1) Marzipan
2) Date Rolls
3) Nankatais
4) Chaklis
5) Baath / Badca
6) Peraad
7) Coconut Toffee
8) Milk Cream
9) Jujups
10) Coconut Ladoos / Coconut Snowballs




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Broken Glass Jello

What do you do for dessert if you're from the southern hemisphere and Christmas happens to be in the middle of the summer? I have been trying to find a few options that can be used for your next Christmas / Holiday party. Something that can be made ahead, is easy to make and can feed a crowd. This is one of those types of recipes. I have been a big fan of Mary's blog "The Food Librarian" for years now. She is a big fan of Jello and has made some amazing creations with it. I first wanted to make some Broken Glass Jello back when we were in Mumbai. However, it was close to impossible to find a range of Jelly flavors easily. So I gave up on the idea after a lot of searching.

Then last week, I was trying to come up with some easy summer dessert options that I could make more Christmassy, and I thought of Jello. This is my first attempt at making Broken Glass Jello. I am very happy with the outcome given all that happened. Well into the process of making this, my flavorless gelatine powder ended up being a big hard rock of a block and I couldn't cut into it or shatter it with a meat mallet either. I ended up getting just a spoonful or so of the powder. So I had to add some gelatine leaves as well. This caused my condensed milk portion of the jello to not set as firm as I'd have liked. I'm hoping to have better luck next time around. That being said, this recipe was so easy to make. It just takes a little planning ahead, because it needs time to set in the fridge. It was so much fun working with the Jello. I felt a very childlike amusement and eagerness while I was chopping it up. The end result was really tasty. You don't even have to switch the stovetop or the oven on, if you have an electric kettle. If not, you'll need to boil some water and that's all the cooking this recipe calls for. That makes me very happy, because we seem to be having some very hot days at the moment. I can't wait to try some more versions of Jello out soon. You can switch out flavors and colors to suit the occasion. I used Aeroplane Jelly from Coles for this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have at hand. I hope you enjoy this treat. 


Christmas Broken Glass Jello

1 box Strawberry flavored Jelly (I used Aeroplane Jelly - 85g box)
1 box Lime flavored Jelly (This too is Aeroplane Jelly - 85g box)
3 gelatin leaves (This is unflavored. If you are using unflavored Jelly crystals, use 1 tbsp)
1/2 tin condensed milk (I used a Nestle 395g tin.)

First we're going to make the red and green portion of the Jelly because that has to set firm, so that we can cut it up into cubes. Please note, we are going to use just one cup of water for each packet. We're not following the recipe on the box, because it has to set firm enough to be able to cut into tiny cubes. 

Mix the Strawberry flavored Jelly with 1 cup of boiling water and stir till it has all dissolved. Let this cool down to room temperature. Line a small container with cling film / Glad wrap. You need to keep some overhang so that you can pick the set Jelly out of the container using this as handles. This helps to unmould the Jelly later. I used a Sistema sandwich box for this and it was perfect. Try and use a square container, if possible, that way you can cut all of it into cubes. A round container will leave you with some off cuts at the edges. Ofcourse, if you don't have square containers, use whatever you have at hand. Trim off the edges of the Jelly later. Cover and place the container in the fridge to set. It will need a few hours to set firm. I made this the previous day and left it overnight to set.

Repeat the entire process for the Lime flavored Jelly.

The next morning, make the last bit of the recipe.

Dissolve the unflavored gelatin (crystals or leaves) in 1 cup boiling water. Add the condensed milk and stir till everything has dissolved and mixed well. Let this come to room temperature. 

While the condensed milk Jelly is cooling, line an 8 inch square cake pan with cling film. Again keep some extra on the edges as overhand to help you unmould the Jelly, just like you did before.

Pick the Strawberry and Lime Jelly out of the containers, using the extra cling film on the sides.

Peel back all the cling film and chop them up into small cubes. 

Gently mix the cubes and place them in the lined cake tray. 



At this stage, if your condensed milk Jelly hasn't cooled completely, put the tray with the cubes back in the fridge. If you use the condensed milk Jelly while it is still warm, you will end up melting the red and green jelly cubes. 

Once, the condensed milk jelly has cooled completely, pour it into the lined cake tray over the cubed jelly. 



Leave to set in the refrigerator till firm. I left mine about 8 hours. You may be able to cut into this sooner, but make sure that the Jelly has set firm before you cut it up. This dish can be made ahead of time. So plan for about 8 hours to set at this stage.

Carefully, pick the set jelly out of the cake pan when it has set firm and cut into cubes. 



Serve up and watch everyone enjoy this with childlike glee.


*Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I have simply shared the brands I used for this recipe.