Ramadan Treats:Sticky Date Mini Cakes with Rabri

Have you attempted combining a couple of recipes together? I must admit I’ve turned into quite the experimental junkie of late,turning my kitchen into a food lab of sorts. Almost to the point where I don’t quite follow a particular recipe but happy to tweak it and create a unique new combination all together.This one defies any categorization as I’ve followed the classic Sticky Date Cake recipe (made into smaller individual portions by using a removable bottom cheesecake mold) and instead of the usual Toffee sauce (which is quite decadent in itself) have combined it with a traditional Indian twist.A brilliant pairing of creamy Rabri drizzled over the mini cakes,makes it quite a delightful and an unusual dessert.

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Rabri is a sweet, condensed milk based dish made by boiling the milk on low heat for a long time until it becomes thick in consistency. Sugar, spices and nuts are added to it to give it flavor. It is chilled and served as dessert.However I’ve simplified this process by making this in a microwave.

 

We are well into the middle of the Holy month of Ramadan now and this would make a perfect  treat at your next Iftar table.
While the Toffee sauce usually soaks into the Sticky pudding,the Rabri sits well as a sauce on top and adds a fair bit of moisture.It actually works as a perfect accompaniment to this wonderful dessert.

So go ahead and have some fun in your kitchen.Jazz up a recipe, add in an ingredient or two,bake up a storm or just mix up two recipes like I just did.

This one’s a keeper.Happy baking!

Until next time, lovelies!

 

INGREDIENTS:

225 grams dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
85 grams Butter (softened)
170 grams sugar
2 medium eggs
170 grams Self raising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons Ovaltine
2 tablespoons Plain Yogurt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
DIRECTIONS:

Pre heat the oven to 180 C.
Put the dates in a bowl with the soda and cover with 200 ml boiling water.
Let this rest for about 5-9 minutes so as to soften the dates.
Drain off the water and puree the dates in a food processor.
Cream the butter and sugar till pale.
Add in one egg at a time and mix well.
Sieve the flour and cinnamon powder together and add to the above mixture.
Stir in the ovaltine and mix well and add the grated ginger.
Lastly fold in the yogurt and pureed dates.
Pour the mixture into a removable bottom mini cheesecake mold.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until done.
Once cool remove from the molds and pour some Rabri over each one.

For The Rabri:
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Paneer grated (cottage cheese
1/2 Cup Condensed Milk
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
1 teaspoon Ghee

Directions:

Mix all the above ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave for about 6 minutes.
Refrigerate and chill for two hours.
Pour over the stick date cake.

Easy Mushroom Risotto

What’s your favorite Italian dish? Mine’s certainly a good Risotto any day. It really is the essence of Italian cooking. Tricky and time-consuming??? Well not really if you  just follow a few important steps while making Risotto.The key of course is  patience and yes it does need your undivided attention throughout the entire process.

Mushroom risotto

Now the main ingredient of course is rice. I’ve used a good quality Arborio rice and the brand name is Gallo. It is short grained and a starch variety, just perfect for Risotto making. The main step is getting the Risotto to a perfect consistency.To get this you would need to keep adding some stock a little at a time and stir it. The rice cooks in this stock it releases starch and imparts a wonderful creamy texture to the Risotto. This should ideally take no more than 20-24 minutes.The important tip is to ensure that the rice grain is al dente, which really means that it should be cooked yet have a firm bite to it.

The following recipe is a step by step guide to a perfect risotto. There are many variations. Mine has some brown button mushrooms, some chardonnay and fresh parmesan shavings. Please do use Shrimp, chicken, mixed herbs or even some asparagus if you like.
Do try this one out…

Bon Appetite!

Ingredients:

  • 320 grams Gallo Arborio rice
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 medium Onion chopped
  • 40 grams butter
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • freshly grated Parmesan shavings
  • 5-6 brown button mushrooms

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions till translucent.
  2. Then add in the chopped mushrooms and sauté further.
  3. Add the rice and let sauté till rice is transparent.
  4. Add in the wine and stir till it evaporates.
  5. Now keep adding spoonfuls of the stock and let it simmer on a slow flame.
  6. Do keep adding more stock as the stock is absorbed by the rice.
  7. Continue doing this till the rice is cooked al dente and is creamy in texture( approx. 20-25 minutes)
  8. Add the parmesan shaving and season with some salt if necessary.

Fresh Figs And Goat Cheese Crostata

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This is a simple and delicious way of enjoying fresh figs. I’ve had the flavors of figs and goats cheese on my mind for a couple of weeks. Until last week when I went right ahead as served this wonderful Crostata as dessert.

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It turned out a work of pure brilliance. It is somewhere between sweet and savory and you could perhaps serve it as an appetizer as well.

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The crust is an easy to follow recipe. Once rolled out go right ahead and layer it with the sliced fresh figs, followed by the crumbled goat cheese and drizzled with honey.
I served this warm, dusted with some confectioners sugar and crème fraiche.It was absolutely delightful.
Enjoy!

Pastry recipe adapted Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients-Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons ice water

Directions-Pastry
Combine flour, sugar, zest, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to blend. Add butter and pulse till mixture looks like coarse meal. Add ice water a little at time, pulsing between additions, until mixture forms into moist clumps. Dump dough onto large piece of plastic wrap, gather into a ball, flatten into a disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Ingredients-Filling
6 ounces mild, fresh goat cheese, crumbled
15 ripe fresh black figs, stems removed and cut into thin discs
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Directions-Crostata
On a large piece of parchment paper, roll the dough out into two rectangles. Transfer paper/crostata to a large, heavy baking sheet. All around the rectangle, fold in the outer 1/2-inch of the pastry to form a raised edge all around the tart.

Sprinkle goat cheese over the bottom of the crostata (not the edges). Arrange the fig halves, cut side up, over the goat cheese and drizzle the figs with honey.

Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the underside of the tart crust is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 6-8 people

Dinner Tonight or Lunch Tomorrow?

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On most weeknights I find myself frantically scurrying around the kitchen in order to put a healthy, flavorful yet simple meal on the table. This is especially so when I’ve had a series of cooking workshops through the day and insufficient left over for dinner. I term these as “Fright nights”! Let’s face it we all have these nights.
Well here is a great recipe for Spaghetti And Meatballs,pretty much a fuss free one to put together. I received a coupon from OBE  Organic Halalthe Australian Organic meat wholesalers of free range,organic and grass fed export beef.

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OBE Organic is 100% owned and operated by Australian organic farmers who are committed to the provision of high quality organic food products and the highest possible standard of food safety for the families of the world.Their meat products are available at Carrefour supermarkets in UAE.The OBE Organic group was founded in the early 1990s by a far-sighted group of Australian pastoral families which are continuing century-old family traditions. Today, OBE Organic is the world’s oldest, largest and most trustworthy producer of healthy and great-tasting organic beef.

I picked up some of the OBE Halal beef cubes and had the butcher mince them for me.The recipe to make these meat balls is fairly simple.I’ve gone ahead and baked mine as they turn out to be a healthier option,you could fry them if you like.Once formed the meatballs freeze well and could be stored upto a month.Well here you go,my “double time” recipe as I like to call it..As its a big hit at the dinner table or right into lunch boxes the next day.

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Recipe for Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams lean ground Beef
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Dash of Worchesshire sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine all the above ingredients and mix well.
  2. Form the mixture into 10-12 small balls if using immediately else freeze them.
  3. Pre heat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease a baking tray and lay the meatballs on it.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the meatballs over and bake further for 5-7 minutes or until brown.

For The Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes (chopped roughly)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh Basil and cherry tomatoes to garnish.

Directions:

  1. Heat a pan and add the olive oil.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute.
  3. Next add in the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Cook this well or until they don’t look raw anymore. You could add a little water to assist the cooking.
  5. Season with salt,pepper,oregano and chili flakes.
  6. Boil the Spaghetti according to package instructions.
  7. Add the sauce the meatballs  and mix well.
  8. Now add in the Spaghetti to the above sauce.
  9. Drizzle with Olive Oil and garnish with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes.

Indulge your Senses: Tuscan Grape Cake with lemon Drizzle

watermark A couple of weeks ago, I had devoured the most delectable and moist Vineyard cake at Baker & Spice. The flavors of this fabulous cake lingered on for quite some time. I loved this cake as it was not overly sweet, and had just the right hint of olive oil. Today is my husband Jd’s birthday and I knew this cake would just be  perfect to celebrate with. Now while he loves the traditional chocolate cake, I was in a ,”want to bake a tea cake” frame of mind and the Tuscan Grape cake seemed to be the one to make. I’ve never really baked with grapes before, and I had been browsing for recipes,in trying to recollect the flavors and ingredients that went into the one I had eaten.

Traditionally most recipes call for red grapes, all though I like the green ones for some tartness and a rustic crunch.The lemon zest adds a burst of flavor and that sure was a key ingredient. I love the fact that the recipe here has very little butter and uses more of  Olive oil, producing an unusually light and moist cake. You could bake this in a 9 inch spring form pan, I’ve just used a fluted one to dramatize the cake. Once cooled a simple lemon frosting drizzled  over and Voila! The Verdict: This recipe is a keeper!  An instant hit with the husband and son. Gorgeous grape and Olive notes evoking memories of a resplendent Tuscan vineyard. Certainly a resonant citrus tang in there. Probably as close to the one I ate too. The flavors in the cake do develop overnight. The perfect way to wake up the next day and have it with a cup of tea. And that’s what I did this morning. Go ahead. Indulge your senses! IMG_0648 IMG_0655 ! IMG_0652 Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 200 grams green grapes (halved)

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 175 C.
  2. Grease a 9 inch loose bottom pan and keep aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar till thick and creamy. about 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the butter oil, milk vanilla essence and blend well.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the lemon zest to the flour mix.
  7. Spoon the flour mix into the batter and stir till well combined.
  8. Keep aside for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Add in the grapes.
  10. Bake for about 35 minutes or till done.
  11. Serve with a lemon drizzle.

Lemon Drizzle:

  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 100 grams Icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Milk
  1. Mix all the above ingredients and beat with a hand-held mixer for a couple of minutes.
  2. The drizzle is ready once it looks smooth.
  3. Pour over the cooled cake.