Monday, June 12, 2006

Amrutham - food of the Gods

Amrutham (a dessert of carrots,almonds cooked in milk)
Bowl in pic was robbed from A's kitchen

Well, it really does taste like food of the Gods. Ambrosia would be the closest translation to the Sanskrit word Amrutham. One of our friends Mohan had brought this dessert to a potluck party on Tamil New Year day back in April. I really liked the dessert so I asked him for a recipe. He sent the recipe to me the very next day but I somehow never got around to making it. Finally, this last weekend, I made it at another of our friend A's home. It is definitely much more fun cooking in A's big, spacious and airy kitchen. It makes cooking all the more fun.

I am just doing a copy paste of the recipe that Mohan had sent me. Yes, folks he really did send me the detailed instructions :) that you see. Thank you Mohan for the recipe and thank you A for giving me a chance to actually make it :).

  • 4-6 carrots
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee/Clarified butter
  • ½ gallon milk - whole or 2%
  • 1 cup almonds peeled, unpeeled, or sliced, powdered
  • 15 kernels cashews, split into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (optional)
  • 6 cardamom pods, powdered
  • 6 cloves, powdered
  • One grater
  • One sauce pan
  • Wash and peel 4-6 medium sized carrots, and grate them finely.
  • In a big pan, saute the grated carrots with 2-3 table sppons of ghee.
  • Once the carrots are partly cooked, pour 3-4 cups of milk, let ot boil, and stir occasionally until carrots are very softly cooked.
  • Carefully mix powdered almonds adding required amount of milk; break any lumps, and make a smooth paste.
  • In instalments, add the almond paste to the cooked carrots; stir continuously to avoid lumping.
  • Add condensed milk, stir to make a homogeneous mixture.
  • Add the sugar, stir to dissolve; allow to boil for a while.
  • The required consistency is like a payasam/paramanam. Add more milk, or boil to thicken as needed.
  • Taste the Amrutham, add more sugar, if needed.
  • If the consistency and sweetness are OK, remove the pan from heat.
  • Add powdered elaichi and cloves.
  • Heat a smaller pan with 1 table spoon of ghee; stir & fry cashews until light brown; add to Amrutham.
  • Reheat the smaller pan with 1 table spoon of ghee; stir & fry raisins until 75% of raisins bulge; add to Amrutham.
  • Mix the Amrutham well, serve either hot or cold or however.
Since this has carrots in it, a great antioxidant rich veggie, I am sending this over to lovely Cate of Sweetnicks for her weekly ARF/5-a-day roundup.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Two of my friends celebrated their birthdays last week and I baked them cakes.

First up is a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I found the recipe from the joy of baking website, here. I pretty much used the recipe as is except for the eggs. Instead of 4 eggs, I only used 2. I also doubled the frosting recipe since I was going to frost the sides and decorate the cake as well.

Here are some pictures from the project.

carrot cake layers all ready to be frosted with wax paper put cut into small pieces put under the cake to catch the frosting

first layer of frosting applied (the crumb layer), the cake went into the fridge for an hour before the second layer of frosting

after the second layer of frosting is applied, the cake is being decorated. I put the colored frosting in a ziplock bag and poked a hole at the end to use it as a piping bag

another picture of the cake being decorated

carrot cake all decorated and ready for the birthday girl

I will post the second cake pictures next week. This is my entry to Tony's weekend curry mela.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whole Wheat Penne with Creamy Basil & Veggie Sauce

whole-wheat penne in creamy veggie sauce

What do you do when you have a whole lot of fresh veggies left over and some fresh basil? You make some good pasta :) and send it over to Cate for her weekly ARF/5-a-day round up!

All the veggies mentioned in the recipe can be used as is, some new ones can be thrown in or some of them can be substituted with others - like spinach can be substituted in place of the mustard greens etc.

  • 10 oz whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 1 sm. onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups frozen brocolli
  • 2 cups of fresh mustard greens/spinach, chopped
  • 9-10 baby carrots, cut in circles
  • 1 small zucchini, cubed
  • 15-20 cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 green onions sliced in circles
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • milk, about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped ingredients for the pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • One large saucepan for the pasta
  • One medium-small saucepan for the sauce
  • Put a large saucepan of water on heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking make the sauce as below.
  • Put the smaller sauce pan on medium high heat. Add the oil.
  • After the oil heats up, add the onion and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent.
  • Add the carrots, zucchini and brocolli. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the mustard greens, tomatoes and two thirds of the green onion. Add the black pepper, red pepper flakes (if using), salt and cook for about 2-4 minutes until the greens wilt and the tomatoes and soft to touch.
pasta sauce before adding the milk
  • Add the milk (about 2 cups) so all the veggies are well covered. Cook until the milk comes to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the parmesan cheese and two thirds of the chopped basil.
pasta sauce already to roll

Mix in the sauce with the pasta, add in the rest of the basil and the green onions. Serve.

Kitchen Notes: The reddish tinge in the pasta totally came from the small cherry tomatoes.
You may need to add more milk depending on the amount of veggies you add.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cool Refreshing Summer Drink - Strawberry Limeade

Straight to the "recipe" (not) :)

  • 6 oz or 1/2 can frozen limeade mix (like Minute Maid)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
  • About 3-4 cups water (enough to make 40 oz mark on the blender)

Put everything in the blender, blend well, enjoy with a sliced strawberry!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Jihva for Ingredients - Cool and Refreshing Strawberry, Spinach and Mandarin Orange Salad

I am back and first off I want to thank you all for your support and wishes for VKN's Cooking Competetion. There are not enough words to express my gratitude for all the love and affection you all have shown! It made me feel so special!

Back to blogging - coming up later tonight on your favorite browsers is my Jihva for Ingredients submission - cool and refreshing strawberry and spinach salad! Stay tuned!

Here's presenting the strawberry, spinach & mandarin orange salad! (Yes, I added the mandarin oranges as a last minute thing. They are totally optional)

strawberry spinach and mandarin orange salad

With my break, I had totally forgotten about the Jihva for ingredients that Baking Fairy is hosting this month. We got invited to go to a lakeside bbq tonight and were asked to bring a covered dish. I decided to make a strawberry and spinach salad as I thought that would be a cool and refreshing treat to everyone. I got home last night with strawberries and spinach, prepped the strawberries (cleaned, hulled, sliced) and spinach (cleaned, dried, chopped) and that is when I remembered the Jihva event. I am just amazed at how little things like this can make me so happy!

Coming to strawberries - unlike last the month's ingredient (the Mango), I do not have any childhood memories associated with strawberries. When I was in India, this fruit (atleast in my region) was not so common. I ate it occasionally with icecream in icecream parlours/shops. When I came to the US, strawberries quickly became one of my favorite fruits in the U.S. People who know me know that whenever I am asked to buy icecream, I always buy either a strawberry or a chocolate icecream. I just love the sweet, succulent strawberries. Though I never eat fast food (McDonalds, Wendys etc) I do indulge in Sonic's strawberry shake once in a while. It is the best :) in my opinion.

This recipe is adapted from many different strawberry and spinach salad recipes out there in the internet world. I modified the recipes along the way to my own taste. It is very simple to make and 90% of the work can be done ahead of time. I am going to be deviating from my usual software, hardware and method style as this is very simple recipe and I don't want to make it look too complicated by adding all that jargon :)!

Put the following together in a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled:
  • 2 bunches fresh spinach, cleaned, dried and coarsely chopped into bite sized peices
  • 4 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • one 15 oz can drained mandarin oranges, juice reserved (optional)
Mix the following together until the sugar dissolves in a medium sized bowl and refrigerate until chilled:
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 cup reserved mandarin orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pinch chilie powder/cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
For the candied almonds (optional)

click on pics for enlarged images
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup silvered almonds
Melt the butter and brown sugar on medium heat on a pan(takes about 4-5 min) and add the almonds and the cinnamon. Stir the almonds constantly so as to avoid them sticking to each other as much as possible for about 5-6 minutes until golden brown! Transfer to a wax paper, seperate the almonds as much as possible and let cool.

Pulling everything together

Mix the dressing thoroughly with the first set of ingredients (spinach, strawberries and oranges). Add candied almonds as a topping. Enjoy!

Thank you Baking Fairy for hosting this wonderful Jihva for Strawberries event!