Monday, July 6, 2015

Panna Cotta - Three Simple Ingredients & Unlimited Possibilities

Panna Cotta - Three Simple Ingredients & Unlimited Possibilities


We are half way through the year and it's hard to believe. Each passing month seem like a blur the rush, the activities, the rat race its hard to take a pause and breathe and live the moment. As my parents would always say there is a time and place for everything and assure me that this phase in my life is when I should run and sprint and there will time later to soak in the efforts and relish the fruits of all the hard work. Glad that it's summer, a break from the routine and a chance to catch up on my blog.

During the last few months experimented with various cuisines , ingredients and cooking techniques have lots of posts in drafts. I find it hard to find words to blog, experiencing writers block I guess.

Coming to today's recipe it's one of the easiest and delicious dessert to make. Have eaten Panna Cotta numerous time but never realized how easy it was to make until last week. Was flipping through Cooking channels and saw the recipe. I knew I had to make it instantly and the fact that we were expecting friends for dinner was a perfect excuse.

Three ingredients suffice for the basic Panna Cotta recipe and you can customize your flavor with additional flavored sauces, toppings or flavoring. Below are my experiments with various flavors. Traditional Panna Cotta recipe uses heavy cream, I used whole milk instead and consistency was as good as heavy cream.

Basic Panna Cotta Recipe
Makes for about 6~8 serving
2 cups whole milk/Heavy cream
1 envelope of Gelatin ( You can use Agar Agar or other vegetarian options available)
1 cup sugar

Optionally for additional flavor you can use Vanilla, Lemon or other flavors. I used Vanilla in my recipe.

Method
1. In heavy sauce pan add two cups of milk and boil in the lowest possible flame, taking care not to over heat
2. In a separate cup add one envelope of gelatin and cold water and allow for the gelatin to mix well
3. Now add gelatin and sugar into the milk and allow to boil on low flame for about 4~5 minutes till you see small bubbles form along the rim.
4. Remove from heat and pour into ramekins. You can also butter the ramekins in case if you would like to serve on plate.
5. Refrigerate for at least  six hours and serve cold.

This can be prepared a day or two in advance.

Strawberry Compote Panna Cotta
Cut Strawberries into about half an inch cubes add some honey/sugar and lemon juice. Add a pinch of fresh mint and mix well. This can be made ahead and allow to marinate and allow Strawberries to soak in the flavor or made fresh. Top Panna Cotta with a scoop or two spoonfuls of Strawberries and serve cold.

Nectarine and Orange flavored Panna Cotta

Cut ripe Nectarine into tiny pieces, add about two cups of freshly squeezed Orange juice to Nectarines, add sugar/honey if required. Add Freshly chopped mint or basil to the Nectarines, mix well  and serve on top of cold Panna Cotta. This is by far my favorite. With such beautiful fruit, ripe and juicy it's hard to go wrong with the topping. You can add Orange flower essence to milk while boiling to enhance and elevate the flavor even more.

Caramel Panna Cotta

Scoop couple of tablespoons of store brought Caramel on top of the Panna Cotta and allow to cool. Each spoon gives such contrasting and lovely texture of Panna Cotta.


Mango Panna Cotta
Fresh juicy and sweet Mangoes, technically you need nothing more but just to add an element of flavor add a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger juice and toss in fresh mint. Now add this delicious topping to you Panna Cotta and wait to see your guests reactions, guaranteed to get ooohs and aaah's

As I said possibilities are endless and making with whole milk instead of whipping cream and addition of all these flavors enhances the taste without having to add a whole lot of sugar. And fact that this can be made ahead helps too. Make various topping and allow for your guests to choose their topping making it very engaging.

So which one would be your favorite?

Summer means color burst in my backyard, though California is experiencing severe drought glad to see these beauties bloom.

Have a happy and a safe summer !!!

Love,
Sreelu

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Instant Yogurt Oats

Yogurt Oats - Healthy alternative to Yogurt rice

Life is running at full throttle. Days, weeks & months seems to pass by in a blur. Looking forward to summer and some downtime. Have quite a few posts in drafts and its been crazy trying to find time to post. Made this today for lunch, simple, easy to make and delicious and not to mention healthy, I knew I had to post it. Traditional yogurt rice recipe is made with rice and every family has their own version. My version today has the same traditional seasoning but added some toppings and replaced rice with oats for a healthier version.

Ingredients
2 cups Yogurt
1/2 cup milk

Seasoning
1 tbsp oil
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 tspn jeera/cumin
1 tspn urad dal
1 tspn Vamu/Ajwain 
pinch of hing
10~15 curry leaves
Salt according to taste

for toppings
finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chiles, coriander, cucumber & grated carrot

Process
1. Add tbsp of oil in a pan and allow to heat and when hot add all the seasoning ingredients and fry till you see the mustard seeds pop
2. Now add oats and toast for about 4~5 minutes constantly till you have a nice aroma

3. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl
4.  Add yogurt to the oats and mix well, add milk and salt and toss till all the oats are covered, if the mixture seems too thick add a little water/yogurt.
6. Mix well and wrap the container with foil and allow for oats to soak the  yogurt for about 15 minutes
7. Serve Oats with all chopped vegetables as toppings.
Delicious and satisfying Yogurt Oats healthy without being carb rich.

Have a good week ahead ..............

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Coriander, Coconut Masala Quinoa - Oh No, Not Your Traditional Coconut Rice

Coriander, Coconut Masala Quinoa - Oh No, Not Your Traditional Coconut Rice

Food fads come and fads go, one day there is research showing the benefits and the very next day there is research showing just the opposite. Off late with so much information available online it gets even confusing and harder to make the right choice, point in case is today's ingredient. Once upon a time eating coconut was deems extremely dangerous, cholesterol causing, fattening etc etc.. today suddenly there are so many studies suggesting its benefits. Go to any organic/ Whole food you would find tons of offerings of Coconut products from oils to butters to soap to paste. Well what ever the benefits might be for South Indian belle like me its just a staple, something that has bee used on a daily basis for generations.
The uses of coconut in a typical south indian home are many, growing up my hair was drenched in coconut oil, babies were massaged with coconut oil, infact every part of the coconut tree was used up starting from the fruit to the bark. Today's recipe is a modern adaptation of traditional Coconut Rice recipe.

Ingredients
Fresh ingredients

1 fresh coconut grated
2 cups of coriander washed and chopped
1~2 green chilies
1/2 cup green bell pepper/capsicum dices finely
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup grated carrot optional
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa

Dry ingredients

2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1~2 elachi
1 tbsp of garam masala
2 big tbsp of channa dal
1/4  cup cashew nuts/almond/walnuts (nut of your choice to your hearts content)
1/2 tbsp of oil
salt according to taste

Process

1. In a shallow pan add oil and when oil gets hot add all the dry ingredients and sauté for a minute or two till you get a strong aroma
2. Grind coriander, mint, green chiles in a food processor and keep a side
3. Add the grated coriander, bell pepper and carrot and sauté till coriander is well fried and the raw smell is gone takes about 3 minutes
4. Now add the freshly grated coconut and sauté for another couple of minutes
5. Add boiled Quinoa, salt and fresh pepper and sauté till all the ingredients are mixed well

Remove from heat and adjust for salt and serve piping hot or at room temperature with some fresh coriander as garnish.
Guilt free, delicious and protein filled cannot ask for a better alternative. Eat it for dinner or lunch.You can also squeeze some fresh lemon juice if you would prefer.

On a different note, we at home have been feeling the gardening itch and started seedling indoors and one experiment with Hydroponics. Looking forward to a steady temperature to transplant them into the ground. Nothing excites me like seeing a sapling breaking the seed and out of the ground. Hoping all these plants would survive for the next couple of weeks.





Have a beautiful rest of the week my dear readers, chow .....

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Avocado Taco's

Avocado Taco's 

When I first moved to US almost couple of decades ago, it truly was a cultural shock. Unlike today where every component of living can be mapped with the help of technology and social media, it was learning and adjusting every day. 
For the first couple of months every day was a something first, my first ride in train, my first library card, my first attempt at driving test( no guesses for how many times I had to take a test to get my license). Thinking back and reminiscing  “Everything First” days makes me so nostalgic, those days were filled with either/or excitement, triumph’s, experiments and learning. Cannot imagine how we survived without Google, Cellphones or Facebook and those expensive calls to India which were always rationed. 
Come one more year I would have spent my life exactly half in India and half in US. Time did fly by very quick and I have enjoyed every step of the journey so far and can’t wait to see what is in store ahead. A part of becoming Americanized and adjusting was adapting to various cuisines.  California and Bay Area in specific is a melting pot, Californian’s enjoy high quality and fresh food. The abundance of fresh produce and the ease of access make us very pampered and not to mention the Sunshine. 

Today’s recipe was inspired by the fresh Haas Avocado’s at the local store. Creamy, delicious and oh so nutritious. Spread the creamy Avocado on a whole wheat toast and sprinkle with fresh pepper and salt, boy my kind of snack any time.

Very easy to prepare and makes for an healthy snack or an appetizer. Recipe was inspired by here 

Ingredients Makes for about 10 mini sized Taco's
Whole wheat Tortilla's  or I used whole wheat Lavash bread
1 large ripe Haas Avocado
cup of Humus, I used spinach & feta humus ( you can substitute your favorite flavor) 
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
sriracha sauce
flavored oil such as garlic oil
sea salt 
fresh pepper
cilantro for garnish
 
Process
1. Warm Tortilla/ Flat bread slightly over the  pan on both sides
2. Cut Tortilla/ Flat into disks using a cookie cutter/pizza cutter
3. Slather Humus and lay a slice of Avocado on the top
4. Drizzle with garlic oil, generous Sriracha sauce, salt and pepper
5. Garnish with shredded cheese

7. Fold the disk to make a taco,sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
8. Fresh made Salsa makes for a perfect accompaniment
9. Perfect bite size makes it easy to eat and serve. Can't stop at one guaranteed 

This can make a perfect make your own Taco appetizer for your next party, serve multiple flavors of Humus, breads and various toppings, sauces and fresh slices of Avocado's for your guest to make their own creations.

So much healthier and better than your fried and run-of-the-mill appetizers.

Try it my dear readers and let me know what you think....

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flaky, Utterly Buttery, Delicious And Super Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Flaky, Utterly Buttery, Delicious And Super Easy Cinnamon Rolls 

We like many other families in the valley are always on the go. There is always a deadline looming, always some  project due, some exam to prepare and always, always a never ending task list. If you have lived in the bay area and are raising kids I see you nodding in harmony. As crazy and quick the weekdays passes by our family over the years have developed a Sunday morning ritual.
Usually or most Sunday mornings, all four of us head to our local bakery for breakfast. Its the usual for me and my husband, coffee and bagel and kids change it up every time. Over the last few visits both my boys started loving the huge cinnamon rolls slathered with frosting, gooey and delicious.
And when I saw a recipe for Quick & Dirty Cinnamon roles at Joy the baker, I knew I had to give it a try.

This is my adaptation of the original recipe. You can find step by step instructions of the original recipe here 
Ingredients

For Dough
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk

For Filling

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup store brought cinnamon sugar )if you would like to make it home mix 1/2 cup sugar with 3/4 tbsp ground cinnamon)
3/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For Glaze
1/2 cup of condensed milk thinned with a 1 tbsp of sugar ( As I said its the easy version)

Process
1.In a small saucepan combine milk, butter, and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted completely. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool from hot to just warm.
2.Place sweet milk and butter mixture in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over the liquid. Stir to incorporate. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes to allow to yeast to activate, foam, and froth.




3. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and the egg yolk to the milk and yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon or hand beaters with the dough hook attachment and stir or beat until incorporated. Add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time if the dough feels to wet. Bring the dough together into a ball and knead a few turns with your hands.


4.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
7.Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a roughly 9 x 12-inch rectangle.
Spread with about 4 tablespoons of butter.
8.In a small bowl stir together cinnamon sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
9.Generously sprinkle over the melted butter. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Roll starting at the longer edge into a tight coil.Slice into 6 pieces.
10.Use remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking pan. Place rolls in the pan leaving about 1/2 inch of room between them. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.


11.While the rolls rise, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove plastic wrap and bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown, puffed, and bubbling
12. Remove from oven and douse with condensed milk mixture and melted butter.
Serve them hot or at room temperature
Cinnamon rolls come out flaky, buttery and delicious. Serve with warm milk or hot coffee.

Pamper your loved ones with breakfast in the bed this Valentines Day with these rolls some hot coffee and lots of LOVE !!

Happy Valentines Day !!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oats Dosa - Oats Adai - Oats & Lentils Crepe - Protein Rich & Guilt Free

Oats Dosa - Oats Adai - Protein Rich & Guilt Free

Happy New Year dear readers, I know I am tad late but its the thought that counts, right !!.  Had a blessed vacation end of last year and I am all geared up for the year this is going to be. Last year was a year of change on multiple levels, loved every bit of it the challenges and the rewards. Like every year my resolutions stay the same, eat healthy, exercise often, stay positive and let go of negative energy and people that come with it and yes loose those last ten pounds haha. But on a serious note this year unlike others I want to be more disconnected from devices, practice mindful meditation and read more. This year will be a special milestone year and I can sense it.

Today's recipe comes from co-sister(it helps having a co-sister who is a good cook and who lives stone throw away). Dosa's are an Indian favorite  especially South Indian, Go to any south Indian  home the chances are you would find dosa batter and in only about few minutes its whipped into a delicious savory crape with variety of fillings and served with delicious condiments and chutneys.

Adai is a variation of Dosa made usually with rice and variety of lentils, rich in protein and extremely filling. Today's recipe calls for Oats instead of rice to make a healthier version and practically/almost carb free ( Oats & Lentils do have carbs). Easy to prepare and no fermenting time makes it good choice for either  breakfast or dinner.

Ingredients - Makes for about 2 pints of Adai batter (serves 15 ~20 Dosa's)

1 Cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup Channa dal, Urad dal, Moong dal, Red Masoor dal(optional) , Toor dal each
3~4 stems of fresh curry leaves
4~5 red chillies (adjust according to your taste)
ginger about a size of a quarter
2 tbsp of Jeera/Cumin seeds
Salt according to taste
pinch of Asafoetida/Hing
1 cup fresh coriander leaves (optional)

For garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2~3 tbsp finely chopped green chilies
2~3 tbsp finely chopped ginger

Process
1. Soak oats, dals,curry leaves, ginger and red chilies in a bowl for a minimum of 4 hours
2. Grind into a fine paste, add  fresh coriander, salt ,hing and water as needed
3. Batter should be of consistency where it spreads well on the tava and not runny.

4. Heat tava/griddle and pour a ladle of batter and spread into a circle using the ladle.
5. Add little bit of oil to the edges to make it crispy



6. Add chopped onion, green chilies and ginger. Optionally you can grated carrot, coriander and nuts like cashew.
7. Let is roast for a minute or two and the turn over for a quick 30 secs and roll into a perfect crispy Dosa.

8. Kids version can me made by adding some grated cheese and variety of nuts like almonds, cashew and even Walnuts.

Relish with your choice of chutney such a Peanut Chutney and/or Sambar. Batter stays fresh for about 3~4 days when refrigerated. Hope you would love this version, please do leave feedback should it try it.

Here is wishing everyone an healthy and a happy new year once again.

 
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