Monday 1 September 2014

Home-made Strawberry jam

Recently, we visited our local pick your own farm. We had a fantastic time spending the whole day at the farm, enjoyed a picnic together and we got to pick fresh fruits. It was a fantastic opportunity for Anjalie to see how fruits grow and also for us to enjoy fresh fruits from the farm. Among our haul was gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries. We immediately decided to make our own jam over the weekend and we turned the gooseberries into the most yummiest pickle (recipe to follow soon).

Friday 29 August 2014

Ammani/Mani kozhukattai (South Indian Gnocchi)

Today being Ganesh Chaturthi, traditionally, in Chennai every practicing household will make kozhukattai -  a sort of steam dumplings made from rice flour. The filling usually is either sweet (made from jaggery & coconut) or savory (made from urad dal). But what I love the most is the Mani (pearl) kozhukattai. My parents usually never made kozhukattai. It was our neighbor, who happens to be my best friend's grandmother, who made these regularly. I spent most of my waking time at their house more or less either playing with my friend or hanging out with her "paatti (grandmother)" in the kitchen. She was sort of a grand-mum for both of us. Whenever, she made these dumplings, she will always make extra flour for the outer shell just to make me these mani kozhukattai. Although, she is no longer with us, her memory lives on and I always remember her when I see/hear/eat mani kozhukattai. Over the years, I have slightly changed the recipe from using refined rice flour to healthier chemba (red) rice flour for the B vitamin content. Other than that, the spongy texture of the mani kozhukattai and flavor of the freshly grated coconuts still reminds me of the happy days singing old songs with "patti" in her kitchen while she cooked. Anyway, Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to everyone, and Happy Birthday to Ganesh and a special thanks to "paatti" for giving me such happy childhood memories.

You will need:
Idiyappanm rice flour - 3/4 cup
water - 1 to 1+1/4 cup
salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut/cooking oil
1/4 cup grated coconut
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal
a pinch of asafoetida
10 curry leaves (chopped/torn)
2 green chillies chopped (for adults)

Saturday 5 April 2014

Home-made doughnuts (kids can help!)

Last weekend we had a lovely Mother's day here. This week things are again back to normal and I had a request to make doughnuts/donuts for snack today. With the April showers lashing us, it did seem like a great idea to eat warm doughnuts with a good cup of hot chocolate while watching the rain through the windows. Anjalie as usual was very helpful and with the use of bread machine, we had more time to play together while the dough had time to rise. Anjalie helped cut the doughnut shapes and we were soon sinking our teeth into soft, melt in your mouth and yummy doughnuts with a cuppa. So here is the recipe...

You will need:
For the Doughnuts
1 packet (7 g) rapid rise yeast
220 ml whole milk
55 g sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 eggs
40 g unsalted butter (skip the salt if using salted butter)
315 g plain/all-purpose flour + more for dusting
oil for frying

Saturday 29 March 2014

Butter-cream milk-chocolate frosting for cakes

First of all, a very Happy Mothering Sunday to all you fabulous ladies! I got to enjoy some baking time with my family here as a Mother's day present. I am over the moon to have this quality time as opposed to some commercial off the shelf gift. We had a fantastic time making a chocolate cake and chocolate frosting (buttercream, is there any other?!) and putting them together and in the process eating at least half the frosting! All three of us do not care for the commercial frosting. We find them too sweet. Both Anjalie & I are not fans of dark/bitter-sweet chocolate. So we girls out voted Naz to have a milk-chocolate frosting instead. Since Naz finds the cream-cheese frosting a bit overwhelming due to the tangy taste, we decided on the milder butter-cream frosting and, yes, we did make it less sweet. Here is our recipe (which we have always loved) but feel free to add more sugar if you want it sweeter. To match the sweetness you get in the commercial product you might have to double the amount of icing sugar used in this recipe.

You will need (for the frosting):
225 grams butter (1 Cup) at room temperature -not melted
210 grams (1.5 cups) icing sugar
1-2 tsp milk/cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk chocolate powder (any hot chocolate will do) - I used cadburys
100 g milk chocolate - melted & cooled

Friday 14 March 2014

Sausage Casserole

Once a month, Anjalie & I have special play-dates on a Friday evening. It is important for Mum-Dad to have a special quality time (no kids talk or kids) for the growth of their relationship and bonding. Similarly, I found setting some time aside for my daughter allows me to have some quality time bonding with her and talking about some of the trivial and important things we have overlooked so far. This is especially important for me since I work full time so have less time "with her". Tonight is one such special night. Usually on these nights I prepare dinner earlier (if I can) or cook things that I can put in the oven while we play. But I also bear in mind to make some of her favourites since I want it to be special. Sausage casserole ticks both boxes for me. It takes less actual cooking time, spends most of it in the oven, one-pot meal (so no need to make anything else other than salad) and it is also our favourite dinner. I keep away from red meat, so, I tend to use chicken/turkey or quorn/couldron sausages. Naz prefers the former and both Anjalie & I prefer the quorn sausages. I am sure this recipe will work for any of your favourite sausages. Simply make sure it is all cooked thoroughly before serving. Recently, I added a sausage casserole recipe with tomato sauce. I do this one as a variation. They are pretty similar and this one will work a treat if anyone is fussy about tomoatoes in their food :)

You will need:
6 sausages
2 carrots - sliced into finger sizes
2 med. potatoes chopped
1 med. onion - sliced
3 cloves garlic - grated
600 ml vegetable/chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 tsp dried herbs (thyme, oregano, basil etc)
a small dash of chilli/pepper sauce (optional)
salt & black pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil.

Friday 7 March 2014

Egg-Aloo (potato) Curry Trinidad style

Eggs are a great source of protein, iodine and essential vitamins. Eggs are great "first food" for babies (as long as they are not allergic to them) as long as they are thoroughly cooked. Please avoid giving runny eggs or partly cooked eggs to under 2 yrs old. Boiled eggs were one of the first foods that I gave Anjalie and since then she loves eggs in any form or fashion. Once I was sure that she enjoyed eggs, and was not allergic to them (after the first couple of weeks), I have made this curry (very mild initially) and used to mash the egg yolks in a small amount of curry sauce and give her. Lo and behold! no matter when it was given she would clean it all up :) Since then, this has been a easy and quick "single dish" that every likes in our home. It can be eaten with rice or roti or bread. Not only, is it healthy, it is also relatively low in calories.

You will need:
4 large eggs/6 medium eggs - hard boiled and shell removed
4 medium potatoes - peeled and cubed into bite size pieces
2 med. tomatoes- chopped fine
1 med. onion - chopped fine
1/4 habernero pepper (for adults only- beware it is extremely hot!)/ pimento pepper for milder taste (optional) - leave out for children
3 cloves or garlic- crushed
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp curry powder (any store bought kind will do- but for authentic Trinidad taste look for Chief curry powder)

Saturday 1 March 2014

Spaghetti chicken/Quorn Bolognese

Here is another healthy version of the yummy family favourite. I am a vegetarian while Naz & Anjalie eat fish and/or chicken regularly. But as a family we all three of us avoid red meat since the risks outweigh any benefits. Having said that it does not mean Naz & Anjalie will not eat them rarely (may once or twice a year) when we eat out as a treat. Recently on once such trips, Anjalie really liked Spaghetti-bolognese at one of the restaurants. So I decided to try making it at home for dinner a couple of times with chicken instead and I used quorn for myself as a veggie option. On the first time, I heard Anjalie say to Naz "Mummy is the best baker & cooker, isn't she daddy?" Needless to say, I was very pleased with the compliment. After that I have made this few more times and tonight we enjoyed this with garlic bread and salad and Anjalie said that "Mummy, your spaghetti is the best best ever!" So here I am sharing this simple recipe in the hope that you and your family will also enjoy it. Again, if you prefer the traditional bolognese sauce, simply replace chicken with beef and you have the traditional bolognese for dinner. You can add bacon or try pork mince too for a variety :)

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Egg-Cheese sandwich (add sausage for more filling meal)

This post is a quick one since it has been a bit over too busy here of late. Egg & cheese sandwich is a quick and easy way to enjoy a lovely breakfast on the go and by adding sausage (chopped) it can make for a more filling meal. It can even make a quick lunch sandwich for one of those busy days. But remember to keep it refrigerated until lunch time :) Anjalie has hers with just salt and black pepper while Naz & I like it a bit more spicy with chilli sauce. So feel free to play around with the filling. You can even add a bit of mustard if you like.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Sausage Casserole in tomato sauce

Every Saturday afternoon we enjoy the most delicious and yet simple to make comfort food, aka, Sausage Casserole. Instead of the usual, "Am I staying home today?" in the mornings, Anjalie usually wakes up asking "Am I having sausage casserole today?" on Saturdays :) So this is an absolute favourite of the entire family. The only reason I haven't posted the recipe here until now is because I usually struggle to get the breakfast and lunch ready together on Saturdays after a late lie-in while rushing to prepare for Anjalie's dance lessons after lunch. But today there are no dance lessons and we had a lovely relaxed morning. So here is family favourite recipe. It is easy to put together and quick to make. I usually use vegetarian sausages (Couldron/quorn). But on occasion I have used chicken sausages for Anjalie & Naz alone. I assume it will work the same way for pork/beef sausages. So without further ado, here is the recipe...

You will need:
8 sausages (veggie/pork/beef) of your choice, snipped/sliced into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups your choice of veggies- potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peppers
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp milk paprika
1 tsp mixed dried herbs- thyme, oregano, basil and sage.
Salt to taste

Friday 14 February 2014

Quick and easy chocolate cake in Microwave (egg free)

Today being Valentine's day, Anjalie said she "felt" for chocolate pudding. So we decided to make a quick and easy chocolate cake in a mug for dessert tonight. We had tried this at our Vegan friend's house, two years ago, and had really enjoyed it and the recipe is so simple that I was able to recall it tonight. Anjalie made this all by herself with me around to assist with some of the measurements and also to take the hot cup from the microwave. So, of course, by all means feel free to recruit children to make this with you. Have fun making this together!

You will need:
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp oil
3 tablespoons milk/soya milk 
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract