Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cherry Cobbler

The other day we went to farm to pick blueberries and there I found out that they had fresh tart cherries too. I did not know any other use of cherries except having them all by  themselves or once in a while using them in mocktails. Still I could not resist myself from picking ripe and juicy cherries.

I froze half of them and did some serious brainstorming to put rest of them at innovative delicious use. Initially i thought to buy a ready made pie crust and then top it with cherry sauce and ice cream (I have done so with canned pineapple). Later I decided to make crust myself and then I found this cherry cobbler recipe. I changed quantities of butter, sugar and cherries per my taste.

Cherry Cobbler is a Classic American Dessert where cherries are baked in dip dish covered with thick crust. As it gets cooked, crust gets brown and fruits juices squeezes up through cracks creating sweet and rich syrup. This can be served hot/cold and often paired with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream.

In this dip dish fruit pie dessert, you can experiment with different fruits and nuts. Next time I am thinking to use apricots and blackberries.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 15 Minute
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

For Crust,
1 cup plain flour
1/4 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup milk

For Filling,
2 cup tart cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp butter
Buttermilk and sugar

1. Mix flour and butter till it becomes mealy, do not make a paste
2. Add baking soda and knead dough using milk
3. Cover it with plastic wrap and keep it aside
4. In a baking tray (For bigger quantity, I would prefer individual trays) toss cherries with sugar
5. Evenly dot them butter and almond extract
6. Now roll dough into thin shit (about the size of the tray) and cover cherry mixture using it
7. Prick the sheet, brush with buttermilk and sprinkle sugar
8. bake at 375 F for 20-25 minute and then broil for 5 minute till crust becomes brown and cherry juice starts bubbling
9. Serve warm/cold with whipped cream or ice cream

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry-Ricotta Grahams

Graham Crackers are at their best when topped with ricotta cheese and strawberries. I wanted to have dessert that would use strawberries and also finish leftover ricotta cheese. And this simple assembly is unbelievably delicious. I have always been looking for this kind of dessert especially on a weeknight - easy and quick to prepare. Even I can carry all ingredients to a party/pot luck and assemble them as and when needed.

I am looking forward to have some more experiments with these crackers in form of cheesecake and pie.

Makes 15 crackers
Preparation Time: 20 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL

15 pc graham crackers (I used whole wheat with honey)
1/4 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

1. In a bowl, mix strawberries, 1.5 tsp sugar and lemon juice. Keep it aside till berries become soft and juicy (about 10-15 minute)
2. In a separate bowl, mix ricotta cheese, remaining sugar and lemon zest
3. Top crackers with ricotta cheese mixture and then with strawberries. Serve immediately


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fruit Salad (Indian)

I already have American version of fruit salad which can be served in dessert. Here I am going to share Indian/ Gujarati version which is usually served as a part of main course.

Serves 6-8
Preparation Time: 15 Minute
Cooking Time: 40 Minute + chilling time

10 cup whole milk
2.5 cup sugar
2-3 tbsp custard powder (Though I prefer Jell-O Vanilla Pudding dry mix)
4-5 cup fruits of your choice (I use 1 apple, 2 bananas, 20-25 pc red grapes and a small handful of pomegranate seeds), peeled and finely diced

1. In a thick bottom pan, bring milk to boil
2. Mix custard/pudding powder with little milk and add it to boiling milk
3. Add sugar and again bring it to boil
4. Turn off the heat hen sugar is completely dissolved
5. Refrigerate and when ready to serve, add fruits
6. Serve cold

P.S. This boiled milk can be refrigerated for 4-5 days. Just add the fruits and it’s ready!

Dahi Vada

I never have liked plain yogurt so when I was a kid, mom would make this dish very often so that way I can consume some quantity of yogurt. And eventually it became one of my favorite dishes. It can be served as an appetizer, as a snack or even as a side dish. The thing I love the most about this dish is that it can be prepared well in advance and refrigerated.

During my initial days in US, I used to by readymade packet of flour. It worked well for quite a while but then I realized that Vadas become too soft and sometimes dry too. Making batter by soaking and grinding dal was not at all difficult, so in due course I started making them from scratch.

Makes 25 vada
Preparation Time: 15 Minute + soaking tme
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

1 cup udad dal
1 tsp green chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste
8-10 whole pepper
Oil for frying

To serve,
1 cup yogurt
3 tbsp tamarind chutney
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Coriander leaves
Salt and sugar per taste

1. Soak dal in warm water for 6-8 hour, remove water and grind into smooth paste
2. Add salt, pepper, chili and ginger paste
3. Dip fry them and later soak into water until they become soft
4. Gently press them with palm to remove extra water

To serve,
1. Arrange Vada in a large plate in a single layer
2. Beat yogurt with little water, add salt and sugar
3. Spread yogurt on Vada, pour tamarind chutney
4. Sprinkle chat masala and red chili powder and garnish with coriander leaves
5. Serve cold

P.S. Left over batter can be frozen. If you are not in a mood to again fry Vada, make small pancakes on griddle. Mix with yougurt, tamarind and green chutney, boiled and diced potatoes, black chana, pomegranate seeds (optional), sev and sprinkle chat masala and red chili powder. This Dahi vada chat tastes even better!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Grape-Watermelon Cooler

Yummy, re-hydrating and best drink to kill the summer hit. Watermelon, grapes and ice are simply blended together in this quick refreshing treat.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL

2 cup seedless watermelon
18-20 pc red grapes
A small handful of pomegranate seeds
1/4 tsp black salt
4 pc grapes for garnishing, cut into halves

1. Blend watermelon and grapes with black salt and little water
2. Fill 1/4 of a glass with crushed ice and pour over blended melon-grapes
3. Add pomegranate seeds and garnish with grapes

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcake (Eggless)

Tangy strawberries baked in rich chocolate and then topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce..just one word YUMMY! Summer has started and so are my experiments with baking :). It's great that during summer we easily get fresh fruits. Just last weekend we picked strawberries and I could not wait to use them in my chocolate cake. I avoid eggs as much as possible so when I start baking sometimes I am not sure whether my cake will be soft and spongy. Usually when we bake without egg, it becomes very dense and heavy. I did a little experiment by replacing butter with canola oil and yes, eggless cake can be just perfect!

Makes 12-16 small cupcakes
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 40 Minute

3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp canola oil/ 3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup milk
3-4 pc strawberries, diced

To serve,
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup

1. Preheat oven at 180 C/350 F
2. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients and gradually add all wet ingredients
3. Mix well using spatula or hand whisk (Do not use electric mixer)
4. Add cut strawberries and mix well
5. Pour the mixture in cupcake pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 20-25 minute)

How to serve,
Option 1
Top it with whipped cream and drizzle chocolate syrup

Option 2
Glaze with milk chocolate (Sweet or Semi-sweet) and top with toasted walnuts

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tomato Corn Salsa

Chilled tomato salsa with corn and hint of jalapeno is a BIG YES on hot afternoon. Salsa is rich in vitamin C and low in cholesterol (though chips are another extreme :)). The other day when I was entertaining guests, I decided to serve chips and fresh salsa (cold) in appetizer. Leftover I used to make tostadas. It can be prepared in a jiffy and homemade thing always adds value to the menu :)

Yields 2.5 to 3 cup
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 10 Minute + chilling time

1 can of diced/whole tomato (14-16 oz size)
1 fresh tomato
1 jalapeno
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of one lime
Pinch of sugar
Dash of black pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves
A small handful of corn kernels

1. Boil and peel tomato, keep it aside
2. Boil corn kernels, keep them aside
3. Mix tomatoes, jalapeƱo, onion and garlic in a food processor, blend well
4. Add all remaining spices and again mix well (Do not make it very smooth, it should have little chunky texture)
5. Add corn and mix well
6. Serve cold

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Methi Dhebara

Here I am with another all time favorite dish of Gujjus. Even Non-Gujaratis are also quite familiar with this. They are healthy, very filling, and perfect for breakfast/snacks/dinner and the best option as carry out for traveling. They stay good for 3-4 days at room temperature and taste equally good whether hot or cold with soup/chutney/curd/tea-coffee/pickle or all by themselves. Wow! So many advantages? Too good to believe! Well, the catch is preparing perfect Dhebara is not everyone's cup of tea. It asks for little expertise but lot of patience, starting from cleaning methi, kneading dough, and finally rolling and cooking them.Ideally only millet flour should be used but that makes rolling part even clumsier. So I use both whole wheat and millet flours instead. The key to success is to knead dough without water! Water retained by methi leaves after washing them and yogurt is sufficient to knead dough.

Some people alternatively refer to them as Thepla. They both are same except that Theplas are patted with hand and Dhebaras are rolled.

Last week, I bought Methi in literally wholesale quantity and I am planning to make all those dishes that require substantial amount of methi. To start with, enjoy these delicious Dhebara.

Makes 16-18 Dhebra
Preparation Time: 30 Minute
Cooking Time: 45 Minute

1 and 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup millet flour
2 cup methi leaves
3 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp shredded jaggery
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp green chili paste
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp oil
Oil for frying

1. Beat the yogurt, add salt, jaggery, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Keep it aside till jaggery is melted within yogurt
2. Mix both flours and sieve with oil
3. Add chili-ginger-garlic paste, methi leaves and knead dough using yogurt mixture (keep it on harder side since it gets softer due to salt and jaggery)
4. Divide dough into balls, roll and fry them on griddle on both sides

You can refrigerate dough for 4-5 days and freeze it for about a month or so. If you plan to freeze it, divide it into balls and put it in a ziploc bag. Take out in advance for couple of hours until they become soft and can be rolled.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I am back! Things have been little hectic and I did not have time to write or experiment anything new. When I was making these Bhature I wasn't hoping high but to my surprise they indeed came out good.

Though Parathas are my favorite combination with Chhole, sometimes I give in to HIS requests and make Puris. Then lately when I made chhole, I thought to give a shot to Bhatura. They can be prepared with using yeast or baking soda. Ideally they should be prepared with only plain flour/Maida. But me being health freak, I used equal quantities of both plain flour and whole wheat flour. One advantage of using whole wheat flour is that it consumes/absorbs less oil while frying. And also they remain soft even after cooling down.

Makes 7-8 Bhature
Preparation Time: 10 Minute + rising time
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp oil
1/4 cup yogurt
Oil for frying

1. Mix yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water and keep it aside for 30 minute till it becomes frothy
2. Mix both flours and sieve with oil
3. Add salt, sugar, yogurt and knead dough using yeast mixture (No need to add extra water)
4. Cover the dough and keep it aside for about 1-2 hour till it gets doubled in size
5. Knead again with little oil, divide it into equal balls and roll into thick Bhaturas (About 8-7' in diameter)
6. Deep fry and serve hot