March 29, 2008

pumpkin pancakes

e and i decided to sleep in on saturday morning and enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast at home. i made the sweets, he made the savory. too bad i didn't get a shot of his delicious camembert scrambled eggs - i'll have to get it another time, and then try to get the recipe out of him. i could guess the ingredients and probably replicate - since i claim to have expert tastebuds - but he claims it's a secret recipe that he won't share, so we'll leave it at that. :)

anyway, for the "sweet" part, i made what i have been craving (or always crave during colder weather) - pumpkin pancakes. i basically love all things pumpkin, but pancakes are a very easy way to enjoy the flavor.

here's the very easy recipe i used:
pumpkin pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon (my special twist)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 can solid pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
mix all ingredients together in a bowl. :) it works just as well as having wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls!
spray some PAM onto a griddle, and pour batter onto griddle in pancake sizes. flip over once you notice little bubbles forming on the upside of the pancake. serve hot with maple/cinnamon syrup and whipped cream! ok, maybe only i love syrup and whipped cream melting all over hot pancakes. mmm!
this ratio of ingredients used was supposed to be for "2", however, since we also had eggs and bacon as part of this breakfast meal, we only had 2 pancakes each. this recipe made about 10 decent-sized pancakes.
i only made 6 pancakes this day, and saved the rest of the batter for the next day .... the next day, however, we got to bed at 4am after a night out dancing. the sister stayed the night at our place, and she got my share of pancakes the next morning. i, after one too many french martinis, craved a very greasy fried egg - which, of course, totally did not satisfy me. oh well. :) that's what i get right?

March 18, 2008

monday shmonday

banana rum cream pie.

my day at work was quite uneventful, mainly due to my lack of motivation to actually get to work. but that being the case, i checked my gmail regularly throughout the day and ended up email-chatting (since the chat feature is blocked at work) with my sister, cl. then she started flooded my inbox with recipes forwarded from - yay, i now had something to do - and that would be to browse various dessert recipes and decide which one i wanted to tackle that evening.
the winner was banana rum cream pie. sound delicious? it is.
the hubby had to pick up heavy cream and dark brown sugar since i was all out, but everything else i had handy. oh, and as a slight variation to the recipe below, i also added about half a cup of grated coconut to the graham cracker crust for that extra bit of island flavor.
and now, the recipe:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from 9 (4 3/4 - by 2 1/4-inch) crackers
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup chilled heavy cream
4 teaspoons dark rum
4 firm-ripe bananas

special equipment: a 9-inch pie plate

put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

stir together crumbs, butter, curry powder, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl with a fork until combined well. press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of pie plate. bake crust 10 minutes, then cool completely in pie plate on a rack, about 20 minutes.

beat together cream cheese, zest, and remaining 6 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

beat cream with rum in another bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until it holds soft peaks. gently stir one third of whipped cream into cream cheese mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream gently but thoroughly.
thinly slice bananas and arrange evenly over bottom of crust. Spread all of cream filling over bananas, then sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top. Chill pie, loosely covered, 20 minutes.

result: delicious! i read user reviews who mentioned the lack of rum flavor, so i added quite a bit more - can't remember how much more, but enough so i could actually smell it. mmm. this recipe is easy-peasy! we waited 30mins for it to chill in the fridge... and it was nicely set. i can only imagine how yummy it will be when i steal a slice after work today. :)

March 10, 2008

lazy saturday afternoon

after a long morning in service (i napped on the way home), we got home around 2pm and had all afternoon and early evening to either run errands or relax. we chose the latter. but since i had already had my nap, i started a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen and decided to bake while e took an afternoon nap.
i've had a can of solid pumpkin sitting in the pantry for a couple of months now, and wanted to make something pumkin-y, namely, pumpkin muffins. since we also had lots of fresh fruit & veg, courtesy of my mum, e requested blueberry muffins also. i was feeling ambitious, but not that ambitious to make 2 sets of muffins, so i just made the blueberry ones.
i used a very simple recipe that i found on

blueberry muffins

1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (i used a cup)

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). butter and flour-dust 12-cup muffin tin.
2. in a large bowl, stir together milk, egg, and oil. add flour, baking powder, sugar, and blueberries; gently mix the batter with only a few strokes. spoon batter into cups.
3. bake for 20 minutes. serve hot.

these turned out really well - very light and fluffy, packed with blueberries. i have quite a sweet tooth, and these weren't as sweet as i would've liked them, so next time i'll add more sugar. we still enjoyed them though!

sometime this week: pumpkin muffins

friday night cravings satisfy the soul.

currently listening to: janet's "discpline"

i left work on friday with quite a headache, but a strange desire to cook and/or bake! when i need comfort food, my usual choice is a creamy pasta, so i decided to make shrimp carbonara - my version, not the authentic raw egg version, which is equally as good. also, i came across a buttermilk pie recipe that i was dying to try. there's a south african milk tart (melktert) which is a similar recipe, so i was interested to find out if the taste was similar also.
sidenote: i could eat an entire milk tart.
so after a freak vet er visit for our dog who hurt his leg, we got home with our dog, his $25 painkillers, a bag of shrimp and frozen garlic bread. and i was ready to start cooking.
i started the buttermilk pie first, since it takes 45mins to bake. here's the recipe i used:

buttermilk pie
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice, more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 8-inch deep-dish pie crust, blind-baked until very lightly browned.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine butter and sugar until well blended. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add flour, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt. Add buttermilk in a thin stream until blended. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks. Pour about ¼ cup buttermilk mixture into egg whites and fold gently by hand to combine. Pour egg white mixture into buttermilk mixture and fold gently until just combined. Mixture will be somewhat lumpy.
3. Pour filling into baked pie shell. Bake in middle of oven until filling is lightly browned and barely moves when pie is jiggled, 45 to 50 minutes. If you have added more than one tablespoon of lemon juice, it may take longer for pie to brown, so bake 5 to 10 minutes longer, if desired. If edge of crust browns too quickly, cover with foil. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

on to dinner. i usually like my carbonara with only bacon, but the hubby wanted shrimp, so we added that too. these are approximations since i don't usually measure everything out.

shrimp carbonara for two

for shrimp & bacon:
dozen shrimp (thawed... or run under hot water prior to cooking)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 strips of thick bacon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
for cream sauce:
4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup of cheese (i used italian mix)
spices to season: salt, pepper, oregano, basil
for pasta:
2 handfuls of pasta (i used whole wheat fettucini)
some kosher salt
some olive oil

first the water for pasta is boiled. in goes the fettucini, some salt and some olive oil. next, i started the shrimp and bacon... i added the shrimp to a small pan along with the olive oil and minced garlic, seasoned with kosher salt and pepper. then once the shrimp started to cook, i added the bacon. i cut the slices of bacon into 1" cubes so they'd be recognizable in the cooked pasta. that mix was left to cook while i started the cream sauce. melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour once the butter is bubbling. mix around until the flour is fully incorporated and it's a smooth mixture. then add the milk and allow to cook through. once the sauce is starting to thicken, add cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. the pasta should be done by the time the sauce is thick and cheesy... also, the bacon should be crispy and shrimp fully cooked.
add it all into a bowl and toss. some chopped fresh parsley on top, and enjoy! (we also had some frozen/oven-baked garlic bread on the side)

since we were stuffed from dinner, we had dessert a few hours later. a cup of coffee and buttermilk pie was the perfect ending! the buttermilk pie has a very slight buttermilk and lemon flavor - it's delicious.

did it fulfill my milk tart craving? no, but it came pretty damn close! :)

March 06, 2008

a must-see: jodhaa akbar

'jodhaa akbar'

the hubby finally agreed to see a bollywood film with me - at the theatre! and since this is quite a long one, we caught the 5pm show.
i don't have much to say - and won't give anything away - but i loved, loved, loved this movie!
it is not your typical bollywood film... it's traditional. it's a love-story. it's a historical drama. and for it being almost four hours long... i never once got bored or anxious for things to start happening. everything was well-timed and each character was developed really well.
i wasn't a fan of either hritik roshan or ashwarya rai, but after this movie, i probably will be one. roshan did a great job and rai is beautiful and comfortable in her character and role.

this is definitely a must-see! and as soon as it's on dvd, i'll own it too. :)

p.s: thanks e for taking me! i love you

March 04, 2008

a first try: murg tandoori

this past weekend my sister, cl, and i spent the afternoon together while e went car-shopping. we ended up having lunch at abashiri - a tiny little japanese restaurant nearby. my sister had one of the sushi combo bento boxes... i had to ask the waiter if they served katsu curry - which of course they did. he was really surprised that i requested that - and mentioned later that it's listed on the japanese menu only. ha! he almost fell over when i told him that i actually cook katsu curry at home.
anyhow, we then drove up to whole foods to buy some groceries and vitamins... and cake from the bakery. :) i picked up a few meats, namely, a whole cut organic chicken. i've been dying to make (or attempt) tandoori chicken so i thought seeing the chicken in my freezer would be the motivation. last night i opened it up, e helped me clean and cut up the chicken into smaller pieces, and then we put half of it back into the freezer to use another time. (yes, we're learning how to cook for 2.. as opposed to an entire family, then wasting food)
i also picked up some 2% buttermilk so i'd be prepared to make this chicken dish when the time came. so here goes nothing... i didn't measure - so these are approximations:

indian chicken for two
half a chicken, cut up into pieces
kosher salt & pepper
a cup and a half of 2% buttermilk
2 cloves of garlic
a full tablespoon and a half of masala (i used the durban masala from my mum)
a teaspoon of smoked paprika
a sprinkling of cardamon... because I love it

first cut up the chicken to your liking and place in a tupperware bowl. season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper. in a separate mixing bowl, pour in the buttermilk. i used my pampered chef garlic press to add the 2 cloves of garlic to the buttermilk. add the spices and mix thoroughly until all the spices have been incorporated into the buttermilk. of course, you could add more or less of the spices noted - i think i added enough? we'll see.
then pour the spiced buttermilk mixture into the tupperware bowl with the chicken and toss the chicken in the mixture until all chicken pieces are coated well... and into the fridge it goes to marinate overnight.

>> update: i was so excited about this recipe try and couldn't wait to come home and start cooking! so out came the tupperware with the marinated chicken; turned the on-stove grill on medium-high and started cooking the chicken.
result: a disaster! the outside of the chicken completely charred and the inside never cooked through. for fear of eating burnt raw chicken (is that possible?) and getting salmonella, the hubby and i threw it all out *what a waste* and drove to dan thai for dinner. what did we order there? all beef. :p

next time i will:
1. add food coloring to the marinade
2. take all skin off the chicken pieces
3. cook on high in the oven

the most likely option:
4. just make a run for india house if i want some good and authentic tandoori chicken!