Monday, December 31, 2012

#257 Re-kindling memories of home at the Holidays- Kerala Roast Beef Sliders

Happy Holidays to all Keralites out up this old time favorite to re-kindle beautiful memories from the past!! A Kerala Beef Thoran style shredded beef stuffed into mini buns and serve it up like the all popular Roast Beef Sandwiches.

Today, we've all come out of our comfort zone from eating those familiar foods that we were raised on and moving on to International cuisine, embracing some healthy versions of new ingredients from all over the world. Don't you think loaves of white bread, pasta, bisquick and mayyonnaise will soon be disappearing from supermarket shelves?  More and more pantries are being hoarded with cans of chick peas, dry quinoa, bags of flaxmeal, spiceracks are stacked with tandoori, asian, mediterranean and mexican spices on the quest for eating the healthiest of meals. While that is happening, some home-grown heirloom recipes like Roast Beef Sandwiches are becoming a thing of the past and once in a while it's nice to bring some of these back to life just so that we can keep in touch with the food that people have been eating for generations.

I'm no food artisan but I'm merely trying to preserve a time-honored culinary tradition of bringing together two flavors and combining ingredients into one such recipe.  One with no particular roots blending the east and west in a conventional way. Spicy shredded beef sliders!! I have a partiality to whole wheat bread and an inclination to go for anything whole grain but this one calls for sweet mini dinner rolls to offset the spice drenched shredded beef.

To the normal spices I've added a heaping spoonful of Chipotle chilis in adobe sauce for a nice added kick, caramelizing onions right in the sauce with the beef at the end of the coooking time, and served it on a sweet Hawaiian roll topped with a cucumber onion salad?  Another artery clogging heap of deliciousness for the season before I start on my healthy hike.

1 1/2 lb Chuck Roast
6 cloves garlic sliced
1 Tblspn paprika
1 tspn cayenne/regular chili powder
1/2 tspn black pepper
Chipotle peppers in Adobo Sauce-2 Tblspn
Garlic slices-5
Garlic paste-1/4 tspn
Ginger paste- 1 Tblspn
Chopped curry leaves- 1 stem
2 Tbslpsn of Adobo seasoning
Eastern Curry Powder-2 Tblspn
1 large onion
1 large hot green pepper
1/4 cup beer
1/2 tspn mustard seeds
1 Tbslpn Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbslpsn White Vinegar
1/2 tspn of Fennel seed powder
Salt as needed.
Hawaiin Dinner Rolls.
Cucumber, Tomato and Onion relish in yogurt.

1. wash and wipe the meat with a paper towel.
2. Using a sharp knife make gashes in the meat about 1 inch deep. Insert the garlic slices into each one.
3. In a small bowl combine the paprika, curry powder,chili and pepper powders,
Rub this over the meat
4. In a seperate bowl,combine beer, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, chopped Chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce and mix well.
5. Place the meat in a slow cooker and pour the liquid mixture over it. Cook for about 2-3 hours turning over after every hour.
6. add the sliced onion and green pepper to the slow cooker. Taste the gravy and adjust seasonings. Add more curry powder and chili if needed. Add 1/2 tspn of Fennel seed powder.
7. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium setting for about another hour until the meat is cooked well enough to fall apart with a knife.add water or beef broth if it gets dry. Shred beef with two forks and
8. Serve inside a slider bun with a salad of tomato, cucumber and onion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#256 It Isn't Christmas without a heavy shot of Egg Nog

All these years our favorites drinks at this time of the year without a doubt are Eggnog and hot chocolate. Recently we have been a bit hesitant to drink eggnog because of the high calorie content. It wasn't until my husband (R) and I stopped by the "Jack in the Box" Diner that the Eggnog Milkshake on the menu caught my attention.  I had to get some fresh eggnog from the supermarket and shake up something with it. This milkshake starts with EggNog, ice-cream slowly shaken up with a dash of seasonal nutmeg. The smell of freshly grated nutmeg and eggnog reminded me of many Christmas Seasons spent with family and of my children giggling, running around the X'mas tree in pajamas !!

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 cup EggNog
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Whipped topping.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers!! Cookies and Eggnog shake...a calorific Christmas to remember!!

Mix in the blender all the ingredients except the whipped topping.
Pout into a nice serving glass, top with whipped topping, sprinkle with
extra ground nutmeg and serve.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

#255 Cookie Countdown to Christmas #5 Reindeer Ginger Cookies

We truly love our French hens, turtle doves and partridges in a pear tree, but if Rudolf doesn't take over all our attention at Christmas then who else does?
Rudolf with his red nose shining in the cold  wind while he pulls Santa's sled as he goes from home to home  on X'mas eve. Santa is on his way already this year, so let's get the milk and cookies out for him to nibble on as he makes his next stop. Can you guess which cookies will be absolutely the best to impress him?  Make Santa Happy with these cookies and he is sure to drop many of your favorite presents when he come down your chimney!

Servings: 24 medium sized cookies
Cooking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Pre-made Sugar Cookie Mix
Molasses- 1/4 cup
Melted butter- 1/2 cup
Dry ground ginger- 2 Tblspn
Pretzels, Red m&ms and butterscotch chips for decoration

1. Mix together the cookie mix with dry ginger, molasses and melted butter until it forms a dough.
2. Add more molasses if needed until the dough comes together just enough to roll into a log.
3. Shape the log into triangular log so that when you cut them each triangle looks like the face of the Reindeer.
4. Wrap the triangular log in wax paper and store in the fridge for about 10-12 minutes until it is firm.
5. When ready to bake, remove the wax paper and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6. While the oven is heating, place the slices flat on a baking sheet. Now press two pretzels down
on two ends of the triangle for antlers, the red nose on the third end and use a pair of butterscotch chips fo eyes.
7. When you are done making Rudolf's face on each slice, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20  mins until just firm. Cool and enjoy.

#254 Cookie Countdown to Christmas #4 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses Cookies

Festive Kisses, red and white stripes with a minty kick ---sounds scrumptious doesn't it? That's what these tiny treats are loaded with-- a favorite little cookie to please almost anyone.  Quick and easy sugar cookies can be topped with almost any of your favorite candies or chocolates but the peppermint is purely seasonal for the Holidays!!

Servings: 30-40 small cookies
Cooking time: 1 hour

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tspn baking powder
1 cup butter at room temperature.
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Slowly break the egg in and beat well adding the vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
4. Gently add the dry ingredients from step 3 to the butter mixture.
5. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
7. While they are still warm and soft, press down a candy at the center of the cookie. Hershey Kisses are excellent to use but this time I've used the Hershey's candy cane Kisses. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

#253 Cookie Countdown to Christmas#3 : Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes

Sink your teeth into one of these mini red velvet cheesecakes that I baked for my Holiday office party(from Betty Crocker's collection) and try saving your fingertips!

Have you heard the phrase "bite the hand that feeds you"? Don't you think it came from a baby biting the mother's finger tips while she placed the first bite of solid food into her baby's tiny mouth? Then again, when food tastes incredibly delicious sometimes we all tend to bite the fork out of pure greed. If it is your own hand, the food is on the fork anyway and you can sink into it. These little bites of joy are so chocolatey sweet with cookie crumbs and loaded with cheesy red velvet flavor it can make your Holiday specially bright, at the same time being bite-size provide the guilt-free decadence you are sure to long as you watch your fingers!!

24 thin chocolate wafer cookies , crushed (1 1/4 cups)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 packages (8 oz each) plus 4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons red food color
3 eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated or powdered sugar
Chocolate curls, if desired

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Place foil baking cup in each of 16 regular-size muffin cups. In small bowl, mix cookie crumbs and melted butter. Divide crumb mixture among cups. With back of spoon, firmly press cookie crumbs in bottom of each foil cup.
2 In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 cup granulated sugar and the cocoa until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and food color. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Divide batter evenly among baking cups (cups will be almost full).
3 Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are firm. Cool 15 minutes (cheesecake centers will sink while cooling). Refrigerate in baking cups at least 1 hour; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour longer before serving.
4 In chilled small bowl, beat whipping cream and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Spoon whipped cream on chilled cheesecakes. Just before serving, garnish with chocolate curls. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecakes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

# 252 Cookie Countdown to Christmas #2 Cranberry Pecan Biscotti

Biscotti de Prato or Biscotti is a simple Italian cookie. There are more than a hundred different ways of baking Biscotti around this season, all delicious and sweet and this one is an easy, no-frills recipe and a twice baked treat to crunch on with a hot cup of coffee. There's something so festive about decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments gathered over a decade but my feet are now hurting after standing up with my daughter (V) and having all that fun. I'm about to snjoy this perfect winter weather-- dunk a couple of Biscotti in the coffee while grazing by the fireplace on the couch with a warm blanket!

Servings: Makes about 30 cookies
Cooking time: 1- 2 hours

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar, 2 Tblspns more for sprinkling
3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and
fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl
as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in cranberries, pecans and butterscotch chips.
3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape into 3 logs 9 inches long and about 2 inches wide, and transfer to prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, flatten logs slightly. Brush beaten egg over surface of the dough logs, and sprinkle generously with sugar.
4. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until logs are slightly firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Transfer logs on parchment
paper to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. 
5. Place logs on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place
a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on rack. Bake until firm to touch, about 30
minutes. Remove pan from oven; let biscotti cool completely on rack.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

#251 Cookie Countdown to Christmas #1- Nankhatai

As children my daughters loved watching Sesame Street and so I was devastated to read the horrifying news about the owner of the voice of a certain Sesame Street character. In Cookie Monster's own words "Sometimes me think what is love. And then me think love is what last chocolate cookie is for. Me give up the last chocolate cookie for you...............". 

What better way than a chewy Cookie to make someone smile? It's time for the customary cookies to be baked for spreading the joy of the season. The joy of being generous,and sharing the happiness with others makes it all worthwhile. I'm planning to partake in at least two cookie exchanges this year with friends and this post is the first of many cookies I'm baking this season. Keep watching 'cause you never know what surprises I may have in store for you:) and starting with today's post, I'm making a decadent Cookie every week while we Countdown to Christmas Day!

I'm starting this series with a little Indian style cookie made of the simplest of ingredients that my Mother used to bake. The Nankhatai is one of those everyday cookies that makes its mark at any party. The ingredients being so easily available --flour, sugar and butter, it is adaptable to any flavor so you can mix and match by adding cashews, raisins or other flavors as desired.

1½ cup melted butter
1½ cup confectioners sugar
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup plain flour
¼ tsp powdered cardamom

1. Melt the butter over a low fire until just melted.Mix cardamom powder and salt with flour and sift once.
2. Mix together the butter and sugar. Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
3. Add flour in three parts and mix with a spoon.
4. Mix well using fingers to bring the mixture together.
5. Make around 20 small balls of the dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper spaced apart. Gently press
the balls to look like little domes.
6. Bake them for 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to change color- the bottom part turns to a light brownish tinge.

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