Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pizza Buns...Yummmm

OK.. now which food has the ability to spread happiness? Yep....its pizza! I was craving for it but was not in the mood to go through the entire length process of making a full pizza. Another thing is that the original pizza is better hot and straight out of the oven . My problem is that when I make something this lengthy , I usually loose my appetite. Any one else have this problem?

Well anyways I came across a pizza bun recipe and thought VOILA! That is exactly what I need. Nice little pizza buns that I can snack on anytime and even pop into the lunch boxes for the kids. Now isnt that a nifty idea?

I made a few changes to the original recipe and made some really bodacious buns!

I have a nice staple recipe for making pizza dough. Here it is:

1-1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Put the yeast in a bowl and add the warm water. Keep it covered for 1 minute. Now add the salt,sugar,garlic and oil and mix. In another bowl measure out the flour and add the water mixture to it and knead well. make it nice and elastic. Keep it covered and let it rise for about 20-30 minutes. Ok now ..punch down the dough and roll it out.

Roll out the dough like this:

Spread a thin layer of your favorite pizza sauce

Sprinkle a light layer of grated Mozzarella and cheddar cheese

Roll it up into a log. Make sure its not rolled too loose, nor too tight. Score the log into 1-1.5 inch sections. Now take a piece of thread or dental floss and gently lift the log and place it under the first mark. Cris-cross the thread and watch how easily it helps you too take off the first bun. Do the same with the rest of the buns and put each cut off bun on a well oiled baking pan. I lined mine with butter paper for easy cleaning.

Its really fun and as you can see in the photo my little 7 year old chef is helping me out. Well actually she has kind of taken over the show :)

Put some extra cheese on top

Bake at 375 F for about 15 minutes. Makes about 12-14 buns.

The pics are not so great, but the buns definitely are!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon-Coconut Cream Frosting

Howdy All! Here is another exciting episode of my kitchen blunders and wonders! Was still in my lemon mood today. Saw a very inspiring recipe for Lemon cupcakes with lemon butter cream frosting on the 1/4 cup Kitchen blog, so I thought Why not!

Obviously I didn't follow the recipe exactly, just used it as an inspiration. Like my mom use to say, I never listen to anyone anyways. When cooking or baking I usually don't like to use boxed and canned items and try my best to make everything from scratch, but today I made an exception. I had picked up a box of Betty Crocker's Lemon cake and used that as a base. I made 9 cup cakes and two 6" cakes.

I have an e-version of the book "What's New, Cupcake?". In the book there is a tip that if you want to make perfect cupcakes they must be a bit firm . Therefore when ever you buy a box cake mix , use 4 eggs rather than the 3 eggs written on the box. Also substitute the water written on the box ( its usually 1and 1/4 cup water) and use one cup buttermilk in its place. The water will be more in quantity but use only one cup buttermilk in its place.

If you don't have buttermilk then no worries. Just take one cup milk and add one tablespoon of lemon juice (or vinegar) and let it stand for 10 minutes and then its good to use. Simple!

BUT....I just followed the box recipe and added a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest for an extra zing!When the cupcakes were done and cooled ,I carved out a hole in the top of the cupcakes and then filled them with my homemade strawberry sauce.

For strawberry sauce take 2-3 cups fresh strawberries and cut or slice as u like..I like it chunky. Wash, dry and slice and put in a microwaveable bowl and sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and microwave it for 3-4 minutes till it boils and then cool it. It will thicken a bit. Now fill the cupcakes with the sauce. You can use blueberry or raspberry too if you want.

Now for the frosting. Buttercream frosting is obviously the best choice but its too sweet and I don't like too much sugar in my frosting. I'm no chef but I love to experiment. So I try to use some thing to substitute the sugar. Here is what I came up with. Its not your usual frosting but was so yummmm.

Lemon- Coconut Cream Frosting:
2 cups Confectioners Sugar (I used Icing Sugar)
1 cup coconut cream powder
1/2 cup dry milk powder (I used Nido)
1/2 cup soft butter (227 grams- one stick)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
4Tblsp fresh lemon juice (use less if you don't like it tart)
1/4 cup milk (if you like your frosting really tart and lemony then you can use more lemon juice in place of this milk. That's what I did ;-)

In a bowl mix the softened butter with the lemon zest and 2tbsp milk and 2table spoon lemon juice and mix well. Then add the coconut powder and sugar slowly and and keep mixing. Slowly add the lemon juice till the frosting obtains required consistency. Chill a while and then frost the cupcakes. I used the remaining frosting on the cakes and the chilled them. They were really Yummm. I had 3 pieces already!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Magic No-Bake Lemon Cracker Pie

Living in Lahore-Pakistan means getting use to the 10 months of sun. This translates into "a looong hot summer". Now if your anything like me, then you just have to have something sweet after a meal and in hot weather it has to be light ,cool and refreshing! also want to avoid toiling long hours over the stove. Sounds Familiar?

How many of you think anything "LEMONY" as a perfect summer dessert? Yes? Really? Ok now your my kinda person!

I love food and I love all the new food blogs popping up everyday. The best thing about these food blogs are that they usually mention recipes that the blogger has ACTUALLY tried themselves and then they also give tips and variations to take it up to the next level of delight-fullness.

In my search for a nice cool lemony dessert I stumbled upon a super awesome blog called Serious Eats. This has now become one of my favorite blogs. On this blog, I found a recipe for a 10 minute no-bake Lime Cracker pie. I searched some more and found the same recipe tried by The Cookie Scoop blog. This recipe was explained better on the second blog as it had step by step photos to take us through the stages visually. I love anything that has a lot of visual representation.

So now its my turn. Im now posting my version of the recipe with photos taken by yours truly :)

The photos may not at all be up to the mark as I have seen on many other blogs. Reason being that I just started taking food pics a few days ago and am at the beginners level . I had no idea its so technical but through trial and error I might be able to take a few good ones. So do cut me some slack till then :(

Another thing I must mention before posting the recipe is that the original recipe requires a few products that are not available here. I have visited some of the top food stores here and cant find Key limes anywhere. So I swapped them with lemons. The lemons here are really good. They are not as large as the ones you find in the US but just as good.

Then there are the imported items that are only available in very few stores in the top metropolitan cities like RITZ crackers, Borden Condensed milk etc. So Im giving you the local substitutes that I used and the result was just as tasty!

No-Bake Lemon Cracker Pie:
This is a lemony, salty, sweet dessert that requires just 4 ingredients!

29 Saltish Crackers (approx one box or two half sized pouches)
One Cup Cream (250 grams approx)
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
One 14oz tin Condensed Milk
1tsp Lemon rind

Step One: Empty the contents on the condensed milk tin into a bowl. Now mix in the heavy cream and stir till combined.

Step Two: Add lemon juice to the cream mixture and stir/ whisk swiftly. You will see that the mixture suddenly thickens up into a custard like consistency. That means your doing good. Keep going.. Almost done ;)

Step Three: Take a pie dish or what ever you prefer to serve it in. I used a square glass dish that is about 5-6inches. Now spread a layer of this lemony custard on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of the crackers on it , then again pour custard on it and continue layering.

The last layer must be the custard. Then top your pie with some kind of decoration. Those making the Lime pie can grate some peel on top to make it look pretty. But I used lemons so I improvised by decorating it with lemon slices. I know.. I know... I need to work on my food styling.

Now put it in the fridge overnight or at least 7-8 hours if you want it to set right. If you take it out any sooner then you will have round crackers running around in loose pudding. Believe me...As the impatient person I am, I took it out after 2 hours and ummm wasn't quite a pie, but still super yummy!

  • Now if you don't like the sweet and salty combo you can easily replace the crackers with graham crackers, wheat cookies or better yet MARIE cookies. It will give you an even better pie taste.
  • Also this custard can be mixed with other fruits too like bananas or mangoes or even fruit fillings.
  • Instead of lemon juice you can use orange juice and gingersnaps in place of the crackers.
Use your imagination and the combinations are endless!! Will be awaiting your feedback!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to Color Sugar in just a few seconds!

Want to make sugar cookies, but don't have any colored sugar ?Well no worries! I have the world's most easy method to make your own colored sugar. You can dye it in a matter of seconds and even make new colors too!

In the modern world decorative and colored sugars can be easily available but also quite expensive. Well in my opinion if you have sugar and food color at home then why waste money on it?

In my part of the world we cant easily find these decorative items and they are only available at high class grocery stores that stock imported items. So its really a big hassle to get this kind of stuff. Some shops may only have one color or may be none at all. So I usually try to adapt the do-it-yourself mode in such a situation. Most of the items I make are from scratch. This way anyone can make them. Most recipes on the net involve many ready made items that are not available globally. For example Betty Crocker cake mixes, taco seasoning, etc. So making it from scratch makes it easy for anyone to follow.

Ok now for coloring the sugar. Take a jar and put the required amount of sugar in it. If the sugar has large crystals then that's the best kind to use. Otherwise any will do.

Now add a few drops of the required food color. I'm using green. Use a few drops initially and then increase the number of drops until you get the required color.

Now shake the bottle well and make sure all the sugar is evenly coated. and Viola! you have green sugar!

Tip: If your going to use it later then its best to spread the sugar out and let it dry and then store it.. Now enjoy sugar cookies and other desserts with colored sugar and no pinch on the wallet!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quick and Easy Kulfi Ice Cream

In this hot and humid month of Ramadan I was craving for something cool and satisfying. What could be better than yummy rich Kulfi! I wanted to make it, BUT not slave over the heat of the stove for hours. So I tried a few short cuts and came up with an outstanding recipe. Here it is :

Kulfi Ice Cream
1 Liter milk (4 cups)
1/2 tin condensed milk (7 oz)
6-8 pods of green cardamon
1 tbsp sugar
4 slightly heaped Tbsp of milk powder ( I used NIDO)

Take out the black seeds from the green cardamon pods and waste the husks. Now grind these seeds with 1 tbsp sugar till fine powder and set aside.

Take a heavy based pan and pour in 3 cups milk, the cardamon and sugar powder, 1/2 tin condensed milk. Then in the remaining one cup of milk mix in the 4 tbsp milk powder then also add this to the pan. Now turn on the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Now remove from heat and cool a bit and pour into the Kulfi molds, or a pudding molds or Popsicle molds...what ever you have will do. Then freeze well. When frozen ENJOY!..they were sooo good.


After cool you can add 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds or Pistachios then freeze

Or for Saffron Kufli ( kesar, zafraan) you can add some strand of Saffron to 2-tblsp warm milk then add to Kulfi mixture and freeze..All are super yummy!

Do let me know if you enjoyed!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quick & Easy Dessert Recipe: Candi Custard

There are so many varieties of desserts. Change one ingredient and you have added a whole new dimension to the dish. A dash of creativity and and a drop of imagination makes the possibilities endless.I have for you here a very quick, easy and yummy dessert recipe.With some slight variations you can create a new master piece every time.

Let me give you a run through of the basic dessert first and we can variate later. There are just 4 ingredients:

One box Candi Biscuits
( coarsely crushed)
2 cups thick cream
3 -4 Cups vanilla Custard (prepared and cooled)
Fruit ( either pineapple chunks, sliced bananas or apples sauteed with a little sugar )

Take a nice 8" glass dish and line it with the crushed Candi Biscuits, then pour prepared custard over it. Then layer it with thick cream and then the fruit. Repeat layers twice and end by covering top layer with the crushed cookies... Chill and enjoy... Now what could be more simple?

As for the variation you can variate by changing the type of cookies, the flavor of the custard/pudding and the fruits. For example use oatmeal cookies, chocolate pudding,strawberries and whipped cream for a whole new range of flavors! You can also add granola instead of the cookies to give it a crunch and turn it into a more healthy option. This dessert looks super in individual glass servings too.

Recipe: No Bake Chocolate Cake - Super Hit!!

Chocolate is an all time favorite. I dont know of many people that DON'T like it. As for me , I am a chocoholic. I always have some stashed away hidden from everybody, then again ...who doesn't ;)

I will now share a recipe that I have been making for many years and has always been a super hit. The taste is somewhat of a chilled snickers bar, so if you like that, you will surely enjoy this one!

No Bake Chocolate Cake Recipe:

6 0z Butter
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 eggs
7 tbsp white sugar
1 pack of Marie Biscuits
1/2 cup of roasted peanuts (you can use any nut)

Fill a heavy based iron pan with water and put it on the stove to boil.
Take another pan (that will fit into the larger pan of water) and in it put the butter, eggs, sugar and cocoa. Mix well. When the water in the larger pan begins to boil , put the bowl with the mixture in the water ( Also called a Ban marie) and stir constantly til the mixture thickens.
Then take it off the stove and allow to cool a bit. When a bit cooler add the crushed Marie Biscuits and Crushed peanuts. Mix and coat well. Now pour this mixture into a 6-8 inch spring form pan lined with butter paper and chill in freezer for 5-6 hours. Then remove from pan , slice and enjoy!

The Bento Box - Good things in small packages!

Bento is Japanese for a single person meal. The Bento box is a box that has various compartments , each containing a different food item. Traditionally it consisted of rice, fish, meat, pickled or cooked veggies as a side dish. The Japanese women were suppose to be able to produce a very appealing and tasty Bento box meals, but now they can be found in various places as take out lunches and fast food. Its history and origin can be found at Wikipedia.

Here is a Salmon Teriyaki Bento box I found at the yummi-licious blog.

The Japanese people are very meticulous when it comes to food. It not only has to taste good, but also has to look even better! They have turned it into a form of art. Here are some awesome ones for kids! I would love to dig into one now...Yummmmm

Saturday, August 20, 2011

White Gazpacho Soup vs. Cucumber Raita

I was going through some food blogs today and came to a very interesting conclusion. There are many foods of different cultures that are actually quite similar to one another. But since they have various exotic names ,it sometimes becomes hard to tell .

Let me start off by telling you about White Gazapacho Soup . Now gazpacho is basically a Spanish cold soup that is made of raw vegetables. Usually tomatoes but in this case since the soup is suppose to be "white" so it uses cucumbers. Here's a recipes that I found off an excellent blog called 100 days of real food.

This White Gazpacho Soup uses cucumbers, garlic, parsley, yogurt, sour cream, vinegar and salt and everything is blended into a puree and served as soup. Here is a gourmet version of the same.

OK now in my part of the world i.e. Pakistan, we have something called "Kheeray ka Raita" which is cucumber raita. Raita is a condiment uses as a sauce or dip. It accompanies many meals during the summer time and can be consumed with curry, rice or bread.

My favorite recipe is to take 2 cups of nice thick yogurt and add one large grated cucumber to it. Then add salt and black pepper to taste along with 1/4-1/2 level tsp of garlic powder. That's it. Your good to go!

The soup is obviously finer in texture and the raita is lumpy and has a nice bite to it. The former is used as starter or course in a meal and the latter is a condiment. Therefore I cant say they are both the same thing but quite similar. I found this comparison quite interesting and hope you did too. Ahhhhh the wonderful world of food!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sattu and Shakar ka Sharbat

Today Im going to share with you one of my favorite summer drinks that is packed with energy and has a cooling effects on the body too. Its Sattu in Shakar ka Sharbat.

Sattu is basically dry roasted grains that are ground into a course powder or meal. It can be of wheat, barley (jaw), oat, green gram, horse gram (chana dal). A classical favorite of mine is the barley "sattu".

For me I love sattu in shakar ka sharbat. "Shakar" is raw cane sugar or non crystallized brown sugar. Just mix it with water and you have raw cane sugar sherbat. This is a very popular drink in Punjab in both India and Pakistan during the summer.

Let me give you a step by step recipe for this awesome summer cooler.

Step one: Take a glass of cold water

Step 2: Add 4-5 tsps of raw cane sugar ( as per desired sweetness) and stir to make sharbat

Step 3: Now add ice and chill then add 2-3 Tbsps of Sattu and mix and enjoy!

Falsa (Grewia Asiatica)

God has bestowed this Earth with numerous organic gems. One of them is the "Falsa" which is also known as Grewia Asiatica. Its is a dark purple berry like fruit that has a sweet and tangy flavor and small hard seeds. This fruit is indigenous to Pakistan and India but can now be found in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

In the summer is seems to be one of the most sought after fruits. It also has immense medicinal value as all parts of the plant is used and very beneficial.

BARK: Infusions are used to reliever fever and used as a remedy for stomach problems and indigestion. Also used to purify sugar cane juice and in the process of making brown sugar.
LEAVES: Have an antibiotic effect and used to heal cuts ,wounds and rashes
FRUIT: Eaten whole has many benefits.

Treatment of liver and gall bladder problems
Regulating blood pressure
Regulating cholesterol levels
Relief from coughs and colds

The Falsa sherbat is an excellent remedy for sunstroke . Here's a recipe :

Falsa fruit : 1kg ( 2.2lbs)
Water : 4 cups
Sugar : 2cups

Make 2 cups of sugar syrup by boiling 2 cups sugar with 2 cups water. When thick set aside. Soak the washed fruit in 4 cups water for at least 4 hours. Then blend the fruit and water and pass it through a fine sieve. Now mix the sieved juice with the sugar syrup. Add salt or black salt as desired and chill well and serve! Yummmm

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nando's Peri Peri Chicken : Review

My family wanted to eat out and wanted a new experience. I had suggested Nando's as I had heard a lot about the "Peri Peri Chicken" , but still had not tried it. Since chicken is an all time favorite and a no-fail choice, therefore with a unanimous vote it was decided. Peri Peri is a small red hot fiery South African Chilli.

Ok now off we go. The ambiance was nice but it was quite a small place in Defense, Lahore, Pakistan. While trodding through the menu we found a very limited choice. Not many things to choose from. By this time the skeptic in me was wide awake and very busy analyzing every aspect of the experience.

The order: We are one of those people who relish all that is hot and spicy. Despite the warning that the waiter gave us , we decided to order the extra hot version of the whole chicken . Now this came with a choice of 4 side servings and viola! They only had a choice of 4 side servings.Hmmmm. I told the waiter to bring one of each. They were cole slaw, peri peri wedges, normal french fries and peri peri rice.

We were four people so the chicken was cut into 4 pieces. It seems that the chef put it on one plate and then cut it up as one plate was splattered with the sauce. Even so they could have taken a second to clean the plate. OK that's the second negative mark. The first was sticky dirty cutlery.

We all first tasted the 4 side orders. All passed with flying colors! We especially liked the peri peri rice. It was light, spicy and very different. Now for the main course. I carved out a piece and very skeptically tasted it. OK WOW! It was very very different, not very spicy but unique and delicious! I loved it! It was cooked well and very tasty. I must say being a food lover and avid recipe tester, this one was a winner! We will definitely try it again!

Ok now after this experience the cook in me wondered what could be a nice clone recipe that I can make from scratch at home. I know that we can easily find the Nando's marinades and sauces in the market, but I wanted something that I could make fresh and change it to suit my needs. I found the perfect peri peri recipe and am sharing here. Hope you enjoy it!

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