Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cheesy Popovers with Pepper Confetti

I was highly inspired by Saffron Trail's Eggless Savoury Muffins with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cheese and Olives. So much so, that I instantly made it for breakfast that day and loved every bit of it. So did Sam. Going by the smell of it, Sid even rechristened the muffins as Pizza balls.

Excitingly, he took a bite and threw it and said "Yuccky!" and had a great expression to match! The lad was mightily disappointed. There was nothing wrong with the original recipe, but with my tweaked version. The original recipe calls for mild cheddar or Amul cheese cubes. Both child friendly varieties. I, on the other-hand had used a medley of Three Cheeses: Asiago, Emmi Swiss and Fontina. Asiago, is a hard cheese with a rind and has a characteristic tangy flavor and a strong scent. Most kids are not too fond of it and the same goes for Sid. Though my Three Cheese Three Pepper Savoury Muffin Pops were delicious, they were not kid friendly. The cheesy blend were too overpowering.

Bell Pepper Confetti
Next time I made these muffins were a week later, using the same recipe but with  only mild Cheddar and creamy Fontina cheese instead of the Three Cheese blend. The muffins disappeared within in minutes and Sid began to demand it every week. I have renamed them Cheesy Popovers, because they look like popovers and are soo cheesy. The Fontina cheese on baking becomes gooey almost like mozzarella, but less stringy. I have used a medley of bell pepper in all available colors. Once I chopped the bell peppers, that looked likes cute confettis. So my Cheesy Savory Muffins becomes Cheesy Popovers with Pepper Confetti - sounds exotic huh?
Here how I did it:

In a big bowl, shift together ½ cup of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of whole wheat flour, ½ tsp of baking powder, ½ tsp of baking soda and ½ tsp of salt.

Now add the cheese. I have used a combination of mild Cheddar and sweet creamy Fontina cheese. I kept the cheese mild, because that's the way Sid likes it. You can use any cheese you prefer.

Its the pepper confetti time! Add the chopped peppers, parsley and finely minced garlic.

 Finally add the Italian Seasoning and black pepper and mix it well so that the peppers and the parsley is well coated with flour, to avoid sinking.

 Next in a measuring cup add an egg and 2 tbsp of Olive Oil and whisk it together.

 Add enough water to make 1 cup of eggy liquid.

Add the eggy liquid mix to the dry ingredients.

And mix until just incorporated.

Fill up a 24 cup lightly greased mini muffin tin. It goes in a 350F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

And comes out golden and fluffy and incredibly delicious.

Recipe Snapshot:
What I used:

Dry Ingredients:
All Purpose Flour – ½ cup
Whole Wheat Flour – ½ cup
Baking Powder - ½ tsp
Baking Soda - ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp (depends on what cheese you are using)
Cheese - 1 cup (I used Mild Cheddar (½ cup) and creamy Fontina (½ cup))
Garlic - 2 cloves finely minced or grated.
Fresh Parsley - ¼ cup
Bell Pepper - ½ cup very finely chopped (I used a medley of green, red, yellow and orange peppers)
Cajun Seasoning- ½ tsp
Italian Seasoning- 1 tsp
Black Pepper - ½ tsp

Wet Ingredients:
Egg - 1
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
Water - as needed

What I did:
1. Preheat the oven at 350F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients listed under “Dry ingredients” and stir together. Take care to coat the peppers and parsley well with flour, to avoid sinking.
3. In a measuring cup, break an egg and add the oil, whisk it with a fork and then slowly add water to make 1 cup of eggy liquid.
4. Now add the liquid mix to the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Caution: Vigorous mixing will result in tougher muffins.
5. I used a 24 cups mini muffin tin and greased it.
6. Fill up the muffin tin with the batter and bake it for 15-20 mins.

This recipe will yield 24 mini popovers or 12 standard popovers or 6 jumbo popovers.

My efforts did not go in vain. Little Sid enjoyed every bit of it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chicken Stew for Sid as made by his Maam

Mother's Day just went by and for a whole week I contemplated what to post as my Mother's Day Recipe. Should it be Ma's favorite recipe? Or should it be my favorite Ma's recipe? After a lot of contemplation, I decided to go with Sid's Chicken Stew as made by his Maam.

Sid calls my mother Maam (pronounced as Maa-aam) and considers her to be the best cook in the world. So do I. He is very fond of her and misses her terribly in this foreign land. And he loves her Chicken Stew. Every time I make a stew at home, with variation, he'll ask "Maam er stew?" (stew made by Maam). I'll reply "Naa, Mummy r stew." (stew made by Mummy). He'll say "Khabo naa. Maam er stew khabo." (I wont have the stew made by you. I'll have stew made by Maam)

This is the stew Ma used to make for him after he turned one. Initially, she used only potatoes and green papaya and used to make it in a pressure cooker. As Sid grew, more complex vegetables were introduced in the stew. This stew happens to be a family favorite in my home. Every time my sister comes home from hostel, Ma has to make this stew at least once a week. We have had this stew with roti, rice and just by itself. But I enjoy it most with crispy toasted bread. I made this stew for Sid's second birthday and he loved it.

The Star - Cast
You can add any conceivable vegetable in a stew. I have added turnips, parsnips, zucchini, summer squash, snow peas, cauliflower and broccoli in various combinations in my stew. But Ma always made her stew with carrots, green beans, potato and green papaya. The vegetables were cut in big cube (Dumo dumo kore kata! ) and she used whole onions. I used baby carrots halved, green beans and potatoes. I missed the papaya, because I forgot to buy it during my weekly grocery. I chopped my onions into big cubes.

Ma usually tempered her stew with bay leaf, whole cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. The whole peppercorns were the trademark of the stew. I ran out of peppercorns and hence had to forgo it. I just heated 2 table spoon of canola oil and tempered with whole cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf.

Next I add the onions and the vegetables and fry for a minute.

Now I add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for another minute or so.

The chicken pieces goes in next. I stirred to coat the chicken with the masala. Add salt. (You can add half a teaspoon of sugar at this point; Ma does, I don't.) Reduced the heat to Medium-Low or Sim and cook covered for 15 minutes. I do not add water at this point, since the veggies and the chicken will release their water and will get cooked in it.

15 minutes later, the chicken is all cooked through and the veggies are tender and flavorful. If you feel you need a little more liquid, go ahead and add a cup of water and let it come to a gentle boil.

I thicken my stew with atta-milk paste [use Atta (whole wheat flour) and not Maida (all purpose flour)]. I mix 1 tbsp of atta with 1/4 cup of milk into a homogeneous paste, without any lumps and add it at the fag end of the cooking time. Then I let the stew come to a boil, so that the atta taste is gone and the stew has thickened little. You can use cornflour as a thickening agent. But I feel the texture, using atta-milk mixture is a lot better. Or may be, because Ma does it this way!

The stew is ready to be served. Finishing touches are added in form of a dollop of butter and a fat pinch of Garam Masala. This step is absolutely optional though.

Recipe Snapshot:
What I used:
Chicken Thigh (skinless, bone-in) - 1 lb
Bay Leaf - 1
Green Cardamom - 4
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Ginger-Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Onion - 2 medium sized, cut into big chunks or use Peal Onions whole
Carrot - 1/2 cup, cut into big pieces
Green Beans - 1/2 cup, snipped and halved
Whole Wheat Flour (Atta)- 1 tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup
Oil - 2 tbsp

What I did:

Mix the Atta (whole wheat flour) with the milk in to a smooth paste, with no lumps and keep aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil and temper with Whole Cardamom, Cinnamon and Bay leaf. If making for adults add some whole peppercorns and cloves.

Add the onions, carrots, bean and potatoes and fry for a minute.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for another minute.

Now add the chicken pieces and stir to coat the chicken with the masala. Add salt. Reduce the heat to Medium-Low or Sim and cook covered for 15 minutes. Do not add water at this point. The veggies and the chicken will release their water and will get cooked in it.

15 minutes later, the chicken is all cooked through and the veggies are tender and flavorful. If you feel you need a little more liquid, go ahead and add a cup of water and let it come to a gentle boil.

To thicken the stew, add the atta-milk paste and let it come to a boil and then simmer for few seconds and take it off the heat.

Finish off with a dollop of butter and a fat pinch of Garam Masala. This step is optional though.

Sid with his Maam on his First Birthday!

Diabetic Platter: This stew is also very diabetic friendly. It has loads of vegetables, lean protein and is cooked in minimum oil. We can even make this stew in 2 tsp. of oil. I have done that and it tastes really good. Avoid the use of butter though. This stew tastes great by itself. You can have it with rice or roti as your main course. I love it best with crispy toasted whole grain bread and a refreshing salad.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yummy Choco Milk and Micky Mouse Pancake

It seems just like yesterday that I held Lil Sid in my arms for the first time. And now in a couple weeks my bundle of joy will turn three! How time flies! At one moment he is this fragile, helpless puny little kid, hanging mid air from Monkey-bars, shrieking "Mommieeeeeeeeee.......", and at the next moment, he carries his dinner plate to the sink, saying "Let me help. I am big boy!" He is a fiercely independent kid, who wants to do everything "all by myself". This pleases me and worries me, all at the same time. Pleases me, because my kid is gearing up to face the world and worries me, because in few years, may be he won't need me. That's a fear, I guess all Moms lives with. Now that I am a mother myself, I realize that no matter how independent you become, you will always need your Mom! Needless to say, the journey so far into motherhood has been very fulfilling, enriching and rewarding

Since Little Sid's Birthday falls in the last week of May, I have decided to blog about Sid's favorite foods all month long, starting with his fav breakfast - his Yummy Choco Milk and Fluffy Micky Mouse Pancakes.

I am one of those lucky moms who does not have to fret too much to make her kid drink milk. On the contrary, I had to ration his milk intake, as every time he was thirsty, he would want milk instead of water. Though milk is extremely good for growing kids, anything in excess is not good. So I have limited his milk intake to two cups a day; one with his breakfast and one as the afternoon snack. Sid prefers his milk cold and without sugar. Weird! But true!

For breakfast, Sid usually has milk plain, straight out of the fridge (I microwave his milk for 20 sec, so that the chill is gone... but dont tell him!), mostly with his bowl of cereals. But in  the afternoon, he has have his Choco Milk, with is simply chocolate flavored health drink mixed with his regular milk and jazzed up with little instant coffee and vanilla. The teenny bit of coffee makes the milk more chocolaty and the vanilla provides the depth. This chocolate milk is heavenly both as a warm and cool drink. And its not only Sid's favourite but his Daddy's as well!

What I used:
2% Reduced Fat Milk - 1 cup cold but not chilled
Ovaltine Rich Chocolate flavor - 2 tbsp
or any other chocolate health drink

Instant Coffee - 1/4 tsp
Vanilla Extract - 1tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp (optional)

What I did:
1. In a tall glass combine all the ingredients except milk.
2. Add just 1 tsp of milk and mix well into a thick smooth paste.
3. Pour the remaining milk from a little height so that it froths up.
4. Stir gently and serve.

Tip: To make it extra special, top the milk with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream

Pancakes are Sid's new found love, thanks to his Shaaii Mashi. Since I am a diabetic, I generally avoid sweet breakfasts. On a average weekday, our breakfasts are generally oatmeal, whole wheat toasts and egg-white omelets. Sid's staples is milk and his Fut Luts (Kellogg's Fruit Loops). Sid's Shaaii Mashi had treated us to an amazingly fluffy and soft pancakes one Sunday morning, when we impulsively landed at their house the night before and ousted them from their own bedroom. It was she, who first made the Micky Mouse shaped Pancakes that Sid is so crazy about. A few days later, Sid insisted for pancakes and I made a frantic call to Shaaii Mashi only to learn that she used Aunt Jemima's Pancake Mix! Since I did not have the Aunt at my disposal, my trusted and never failed Google Search came to rescue. A few click here and there landed me to a perfect 'from scratch' recipe. As usual I tweaked a bit, but the resultant pancakes can definitely give Aunt Jemima a stiff competition. As of now, I know that I am not going to use a box mix for pancakes for a long long time.

Recipe Snapshot:

What I used:
Buttermilk - 1 cup
White Vineger - 2tbsp
Milk - 1 cup (nearly)

All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
Whole Wheat Flour - 1/2 cup
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Egg - 1
Butter - 1 tbsp melted
Cooking Spray
Honey for drizzling

What I did:
1. You can use store bought buttermilk or make one at home. For home made buttermilk: In a measuring cup,  add 2 tbsp of white vinegar and then pour enough milk to make it 1 cup. Let it stand for 5-6 minutes, stir and use.

2. In a big mixing bowl, add both the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
3. In another bowl, whisk an egg, butter and buttermilk (or the prepared sour milk).
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
5. Heat a non-stick frying pan and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1 ladle-full of batter for Micky's face and two half ladle-full of batter for Micky's ears. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
6. Drizzle with honey and serve warm.

Little Sid Enjoying his Breakfast