Monday, October 31, 2016

Baked Tofu Bowl with Carrot Noodles


We are officially at the close of the month and well, almost at the end of the year! Two months, and we shall be in 2017! The year has been so great so far, hoping the final two months are even better. This blog that started off as a hobby, has finally taken the form that is far more professional than I had ever imagined. Most of the good things happened in this year and I cannot wait to take the blog to the next level. 


Today is Halloween in most parts of the world including US. It is also the New Year for Indians, the first day of the Hindu calendar. And guess what, I am posting a recipe that has nothing to do with either of them. This dish has no pumpkin, no Indian spice, not an Indian sweet and not a dish that is made during either of the festivals! This is a post for a spiralizer that I was sent recently for review. And we are almost about to take-off for a vacation back home. before I leave, I wanted to finish most of my commitments and so here is a post!  


Though this recipe has nothing to do with Diwali, it is perfect to detox post all the TONS of sweets and fried food we enjoy during the festivals. Not only is it a healthy and tasty dish, it comes together in no time and requires minimum efforts. As a family, we LOVE bowls. Whether it is the home-made version of Chipotle's Veggie Burrito bowl or Tofu Panang Bowl, we love them for dinner. These bowls make a perfect meal that is generally balanced as well. This recipe started off as a salad with carrot noodles, but after a fre additions, we managed to make it a complete meal! Coming to the technique of making this bowl; the process is as easy as 1-2-3. Bake and season tofu, spiralize or julienne the carrots and serve it with a side of steamed rice!  


I used a spiralizer for this recipe. Those not familiar with what it is, spiralizers are gadgets that help make long strands of vegetables like carrots, squashes, zucchini, beets and potatoes. These strands make perfectly amazing fries, curly fries and vegan as well as paleo noodles. They are healthy, yummy and brightly colored. if you have not ventured into spiralizers, you are definitely missing out on some yummy food.  


Brieftons sent me a four blade spiralizer to help ease cutting and cooking. I loved the idea of having a spiralizer at home, and used it immediately to make this dish. The standing spiralizer comes with a blade that has four settings: angel hair, fine shredding, crude shredding and curly fries. The construction of the spiralizer is nice and solid, the blades are sharp and using it simplifies the task to a great extend. Cleaning is super quick. The only flipside is the bad suction of the base that does not hold the spiralizer in place while you use it. Apart from that, it does the job pretty quickly. I prefer this over the vertical and hand-held spiralizer, for the ease of operation. Get yours from Amazon here



Ingredients

For the Tofu

Firm tofu a box 14 oz
Broccoli 1 head, florets removed and blanched
Red Thai Chilli 1-2
Soy Sauce 1 tsp
Vinegar 1/2 tsp
Chilli sauce 1 tsp
Sesame Oil 1 tsp
Corn Flour 1 tsp
Garlic 4-5 pods, minced
Toasted Sesame Seeds 1 tsp
Salt 2 tsp
Pepper Powder 1/2 tsp

For the carrot noodles

Carrot 2 large
Toasted Sesame seed oil 1 tsp
Salt and Pepper


Method

To make the tofu

Preheat oven to 375 F/ 201 C . Press tofu between layers of kitchen towel. Remove all the water and dice the tofu. In a plate add half the salt and pepper. Drop tofu in the plate and coat well with salt and pepper. Line a tray with foil or parchment paper and arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes till the tofu is crisp. Flip once at 10-12 minutes. Once they are firm brown, remove and cool.

In a pan heat oil. Add garlic, saute and brown. Once it is brown, add the red chilli, tofu pieces and saute. In a bowl mix corn starch with 1/4 cup water, salt, pepper, and the sauces. Pour the mixture on the tofu and mix well. Cook till the mixture is absorbed by the tofu and becomes dry. Turn down the heat and add blanched broccoli. Season with toasted sesame seeds. 


To make the carrot noodles


Peel the carrots. Using a spiralizer and setting the blade to thin juliennes, spiralize the carrots. In a plate add the carrot noodles, sprinkle salt and pepper. Drizzle the toasted sesame seed oil and mix well. 

To assemble the bowl, add the tofu on one side and noodles on the other. Sprinkle additional sesame seeds and serve with a side of steamed rice. 



**This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions expressed are my own and completely unbiased.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cheese and Vegetable Dumplings


October is coming to an end and it has been a SUPER busy month. Starting off with my birthday, then the Indian festival of Navratri, preparing for Diwali, Halloween and finally coming up is my husband's birthday! We are in the middle of Diwali and I have been making, eating and posting TONS of sweets and savories on my IG feed. Are you following me there? 


While dealing with all the festive madness, we sometimes start to crave for some of our favorites from the streets of Mumbai, India. While the Pav Bhaji, Misal Pav and Vada Pav have been on every corner of the city since forever, the latest dish to add to street food is momos/dumplings/dimsums! A chain of dumpling carts have come up in the city at most shopping malls and theatres! They have steamed dumplings full of different combinations. 

While I have never had dumplings with cheese and schezwan sauce, they serve that and are a rage too!! So after a lot of deliberation, I decided to make them at home. And boy, I must say I am impressed! They are totally indulgent, with the molten cheese and fiery schezwan sauce. I used vegetables I had in my refrigerator, but feel free to experiment  as you like. I made a big batch of schezwan sauce at home and used that in the stuffing and as a side. It was a perfect evening snack, especially when everything around as gloomy due to the rains. 


Sunsella recently sent me a stainless steel steamer that I used in this recipe. The steel steamer is so good for foods of every kind. It can be used for steaming small amounts of vegetables or other foods in a small container and larger foodstuffs by opening up the basket completely in a large container. The legs are pretty tall, not to submerge the food in water. And yes, the centre piece comes out to facilitate steaming large food items. I loved how it is well made and easy to clean and use. No sharp edges and really good quality steel. If you fancy them too, get yours here.  

For those who love dumplings, don't forget to check these out:

Steamed Dim Sum
Steamed Dim Sum Buns 



Ingredients

Su-Mai or Potsticker Wrappers 
Vegetables (I used carrots, Green Cabbage, Baby Spinach, Mushrooms)
Processed Cheese 1/2 cup, shredded (I used Amul)
Spring Onions 3-4 stalks
Garlic 2-3 pods
Cilantro 1/4 bunch
Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Salt, Pepper
Oil and Chilli Oil 1 tsp each


Method

Chop all the vegetables into equal sized dice. Season them with salt and let all the moisture drain. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and slice the spring onions. Squeeze the water from the vegetables and set aside. 


In a pan, heat oil and chilli oil. Add the minced garlic and spring onion whites. Once the raw flavor vanishes, add the drained vegetables. Mix well and cook till they entire mixture is dry. Add soy sauce, vinegar and Schezwan sauce. Mix well. Then add salt if required and cracked pepper powder. 


Once the mixture is dry, turn down the heat. Let the mixture cool and then add chopped cilantro and chopped spring onion greens. Also add shredded cheese.



To make the dumplings, take a round wrapper. Apply water on the edges and place a tbsp of filling in the centre. Fold the dumplings like I did. It does require some patience and practice. Else, just fold the wrapper into half and stick the edges. Keep the dumplings in a plate and cover with a wet towel till ready to steam. 

Fill water in a pan, about 1 inch but not touching the base of the steamer. Place the basket in water. Start steaming the water with the steamer and its cover on. Once the water starts boiling, open the cover of the steamer. Place the dumplings leaving some space between them. Quickly put the cover on and steam the dumplings for 8-10 minutes. 




The dumplings will turn a little translucent. Remove them and serve with freshly made Schezwan sauce. They taste best when hot!





Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spooky Red Velvet Cupcakes

We are ten days away from Halloween, the day we celebrate everything spooky! For the first time, I am posting recipes related to the theme. I posted fake edible blood a couple of days back, and now using that you can make these spooky Red Velvet Cupcakes. Since a long time I have been wanting to make red velvet cakes. But I was always skeptical about using so much color in my food. Finally I got over that and decided to  make a batch. The result was spectacular and the very next day I made a big red velvet cake and decorated it in a non spooky way! That recipe will come up on the blog soon. 


For those not familar to the red velvet craze, here is a small introduction to it. A once classic red cake interleaved with cream cheese filling has spread its color and name to everything: cupcakes, cookies, protein powder, breads, waffles, lattes, teas and every dessert. What's more interesting is the red velvet air freshener and body wash and salt! Yes, we are officially living in a red world now. I made Red Velvet pancakes on Valentines' Day and here is the second recipe using the emulsion; Red Velvet Cupcakes.

This recipe is similar to most recipes of an eggless cake. The minor modifications I made is to make this one eggless. I have a lot of readers who wanted an eggless cake. So I decided to make this one to suit them all! The taste however is not at all compromised in trying to make it eggless. The cake is perfectly soft and so is the crumb. 


For those who want an eggless Vanilla cake, just substitute the red velvet emulsion with vanilla extract. It will work perfectly well. Just a precaution like all other cakes, measure the ingredients exactly; remember two half cup and one full cup is not interchangeable. Also sift the flours well to incorporate air in them. And yes, make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature when you start. Different temperatures lead to failed cakes! 

Coming to the topping, I used heavy whipping cream instead of cream cheese. We do not fancy cream cheese as much as soft whipped cream. Also, I used a stabilizer for the first time. I read this method in the Eggless Black Forest Cake on Pavani's blog and quickly wanted to try it out. The stabilizer works like MAGIC. It helps to get firm peaks quickly and hold the peaks really well after a few hours too. No more leaky cakes!! I added vanilla extract to get a flavor to the cream. 


On top of the cream, I added some Fake Edible Blood. Also, I have a set of pipettes to infuse flavor. I filled them with the 'blood' and poked them into the cakes. That makes the entire setup perfect for Halloween. However, if you cannot find those infusers, just smear some 'blood' on the cream. You may refrigerate them before serving. But keep them at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before eating. That helps to get the liquid in the pipettes to flowing consistency. Just squeeze the liquid into the cupcakes and enjoy!


Ingredients

For the Cupcakes

All purpose Flour 1 1/4 cup
Corn Flour 3 tbsp
Baking Soda 1 tsp
Powdered Sugar 1 cup
Buttermilk 1 cup (1 tsp vinegar mixed with 1 cup milk)
Oil 1/2 cup
Vinegar 2 tsp
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder 2 tbsp
Red Velvet Emulsion 1/2 tsp
Salt a pinch

For the Icing

Heavy Whipping Cream 1 cup
Dr. Oetkar's Stabilizer 1/2 packet
Powdered Sugar 2 tbsp
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Fake Edible Blood as required


Method

For the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Line the cupcake tray with liners and keep ready. 

In a bowl sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, unsweetened cocoa and salt. In another mixing bowl, beat oil, sugar, buttermilk and vinegar. Once it becomes homogenous, add red velvet baking emulsion and mix it in. Add half the dry ingredients, incorporate well and add the remaining. Mix till just combined. Do not over mix.

Using an ice cream scoop or by eyeballing, divide the mixture into the cupcake mould. I got 12 with this proportion. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes till the top is no longer wobbly. Insert a skewer in the centre of one of them. If it comes out clean, remove from oven, else bake another minute. 

Let the cupcakes cool completely for a few hours. 


To make the icing

Chill a steel bowl and beater for 30 minutes. Then, add a cup of cream, stabilizer, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat till you get firm peaks. Fill in a piping bag and decorate the cupcakes.

I used these pipettes to fill it with fake edible blood made using this recipe. Poke it on the filling and the cake. Also drizzle some liquid on the icing. Enjoy the cupcakes! To enjoy, squeeze out the liquid from the pipettes into the cake.    




Gujarati Magaj / Magaz

Blogging Marathon #69 Week 3 Day 1
Theme: Indian or American Sweets
Dish: Gujarati Magaj / Magaz

Today is the last day of the Blogging Marathon for this week. My theme for the week is Indian sweets and today I bring THE family favorite recipe. Magaj, a sweet made from coarse chickpea flour is our family's weak spot! Everybody in the family relishes it and my mother in law is the expert who makes truck loads of this each time we go India. 



On her last visit here, I made sure I get the magaj flour and keep ready. The Indian stores generally carry it but if you cannot find it, regular besan works well too. I got the packet and she helped me make it myself for the first time! Ever since, I have gained the confidence to make it by myself. While the ingredients remain the same, the taste is different when I make it and when she does. Over time my husband is learning to like my version too!!  

Magaj is a recipe that needs just a few ingredients; flour, ghee and sugar being the basic ingredients. The ingredients would easily be available in any pantry! Making this one takes 30 minutes of stirring and another 15 minutes to add in sugar. The method is pretty easy and really a no fail recipe. Magaj is perfect for almost all festivals and beyond. It is great to carry for a short trip; neat cubes that are easy to pack and eat. Plus, they are healthy and filling. We bring back a BIG box of this sweet each time we come back from India. It has a great shelf like, about 10 days at room temperature and about a month if refrigerated. 



This recipe is exactly how my mother in law makes it. The sweet is made differently in different households. I simply follow what she taught me. However, I saw this recipe on the blog The Route to Roots. Though I did not follow the recipe mentioned on the blog, the decoration using magaj seeds was simply too good. So I decorated mine using the technique. I did not have charodi (a local Gujarati seed) so I used cardamom seeds. However, we generally top our magaj using slivered almonds or just leave it uncovered. They will taste equally great without all the decoration. 




Ingredients

Magaj Flour/ Coarse Chickpea Flour 1 cup
Ghee/ Clarified Butter 1/3 cup+ 1 tsp
Powdered Sugar 1/3- 1/2 cup
Nutmeg and Cardamom Powder 2 tsp
Magaj seeds and cardamom seeds to decorate





Method

In a heavy bottom pan, heat 1/3 cup ghee. Once it melts, add the magaj flour and cook on medium flame till the flour begins to feel light. This step is really important. Keep stirring to ensure it does not stick to the bottom. Generally it takes about 30-35 minutes and by the end the entire house starts to become fragrant!

Once the flour is cooked and well done, turn down the heat, add cardamom and nutmeg powders and let the mixture cool completely. While the flour is cooling, powder the sugar. Line a tray with the remaining ghee and keep ready. 



When the flour is completely cool, add 1/3 cup sugar. Mix well till all the sugar is incorporated. If the sweetness is less, add in more sugar. Transfer the magaj to the lined tray and spread out in an even layer. 

Let the magaj cool to room temperature. Decorate with magaj seeds and cardamom seeds if desired. Cool the tray in the refrigerator and once set, cut into equal size pieces. Enjoy the awesome sweet!









Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see what the other Blogging Marathoners are doing this BM#66

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dudhi (Lauki) Barfi

Blogging Marathon #69 Week 3 Day 2
Theme: Indian or American Sweets
Dish: Dudhi (Lauki) Barfi

Yesterday I posted a traditional Gujarati sweet, Sweet Saatha. Today, for the second day of this week's Blogging Marathon I am adding a new recipe. Made from Bottle gourd, this barfi is really easy to make and tastes amazing! The more traditional dessert is lauki ka halwa, this one takes it one step further and makes cubes of the halwa to facilitate serving and add some portion control!



Whenever my grandmother made dudhi halwa back home, I would devour it one bowl after another. While I never had the gourd in any of its form, it was hard to resist this dish. Now that I am making the sweets myself, I eat quite a bit while making it itself. So I do need some portion control now more than ever! My mother suggested I make the barfi out of halwa. You can easily just eat one piece and stop. Though that is equally difficult, I try my best to do so. 

While most famous forms of barfis and halwas are very popular across the country, somehow lauki halwa never caught up! It is really not the most popular Indian sweet, but it is really delicious. When I first made the halwa in the US, most of my guests were pretty surprised to see we could make a sweet dish from bottle gourd! But the advantage of this one is that it is perfect for all occasions, including fasting. It has essentially lauki, milk, mawa and cardamom. All these ingredients are perfect for fasting and this sweet was popularly made on ekadashi in our household. 



For this year Navratri I got a block of mawa from the Indian store. I used most of it in other sweets. I had just about 1/3rd left. That is when I decided to make this barfi, just before Diwali. Adding Mawa to the halwa helps to get a consistency that will set well. The barfi is not as hard as peanut or coconut barfi, it melts in the mouth almost immediately. Generally the recipes for barfi would require whole milk. I had only 2% on hand so I used it. It took some extra time to make the mixture all dry, but the barfi came out pretty well. 


Ingredients

Dudhi/ Bottle Gourd peeled, seeded and grated 2 cups
Milk 1 1/4 cup ( I used 2%)
Mawa/ Milk Solids 100 grams
Sugar 1/2 cup
Cardamom Nutmeg Powder 1 tsp
Almonds and pistachios 2 tbsp, slivered
Saffron a few strands
Ghee 1 tsp + to line a tray


Method

Line a tray with ghee. Alternatively, line it with parchment paper and keep ready. 

In a thick bottom pan, add the grated lauki and milk. Bring to a boil and keep stirring intermittently till the milk thickens the mixture. It will take anywhere between 10-12 minutes. 

Once the mixture is thick, add mava, sugar and saffron. Mix well and keep cooking till it comes together as a lump. Make sure you stir it well, else it will stick to the bottom. Once the mixture is almost dough like, add a tsp of ghee and cardamom nutmeg powder. Mix well and transfer to the tray. Spread out using a ladle and make an even layer in the tray. 



Sprinkle some saffron, pistachios and almonds. Press it down and let the barfi cool. Once it is room temperature, make cuts using a sharp knife. Transfer the tray to the refrigerator and let it cool for a couple of hours. 

Remove, separate the pieces and store in an airtight container for upto a week. 








Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see what the other Blogging Marathoners are doing this BM#66

Monday, October 17, 2016

Edible Fake Blood for Halloween

Halloween is around the corner and it is time to bring out all the decor, recipes and all things spooky! October 31st is Halloween and leading up to that day, people indulge in various Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, dressing up and attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, decorating the patios and front yards with pumpkins and Fall decor, lighting bonfires, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films.



To kick off the holiday season, I started with the basic recipe. In most Halloween baking, drinks, desserts and main course, the famous ingredient is BLOOD. Yes, have you seen the red lined glasses full of halloween drinks, desserts smeared with blood and mains with a splash of red? To make all of these one would need to make edible blood. 

And that is exactly what you are about to read; how to make edible blood. I had told my husband I was going to make Halloween desserts last week.  I made this in the day and was pretty happy with the result. But there is always some need for feedback. To get an honest feedback, I clicked the picture below and sent it to my husband. Working in office he saw the hand with BLOOD and replied that it was perfect! That is when I was more confident of the consistency and color and used it to decorate red velvet cakes (recipe coming up) for Halloween.  



The thought behind this recipe is to get a bright red colored mixture that will flow a little but be thick and look like real blood. The ingredient to get the color is Red Velvet emulsion. It can be substituted with red gel color too. Because it is generally used with sweet dishes, sugar and cornstarch forms the base for the blood. Honey helps keep the consistency right for it. And because red velvet is a little too red to look like blood, I used unsweetened cocoa to get a darker tinge. While the proportions mentioned below work pretty well, make changes if required to get the correct consistency. Use this red liquid to smear all your halloween creations! 



Ingredients

Powdered Sugar 2 tbsp
Honey 1 tsp
Cornstarch 1 tsp
Red Velvet Emulsion 2-3 drops
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder a pinch
Water few drops


Method

In a bowl mix Powdered Sugar, Honey, Corn Starch, Red Velvet Emulsion and Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Add water as required to get the right consistency. Also, add some more of the cocoa depending on the color required. Use as needed and store in an airtight container.