19 September 2009

'Souper' supper - Simple Mushroom Soup


Dinner last night was a very light one in preparation for the inevitable hogging that happens on weekends. Whole wheat toasts dunked in some hot soup make a comforting meal, even if it is too hot here nowadays. Like most other stuff I post here, this one too is a quick meal made from a few ingredients. The mainstay as the name suggests is mushrooms - with some onions and spinach to add flavour and body to the recipe. Made thicker, this will serve as a nice sauce for pasta too.

Simple mushroom soup
Makes two large bowls
Time taken - Under 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic - peeled
1/2 cup sliced onions
200 grams button mushrooms - cleaned, roughly sliced
1 cup spinach leaves
2 cups water

1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt or to taste

Directions
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Saute the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the onion slices and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next throw in mushroom slices and spinach and stir on high flame till spinach wilts. Add 2 cups water to this and pressure cook* for 5 minutes (keep on sim for 5 min after two whistles). Remove and cool. [You can make this in advance up to this point and keep in refrigerator for a quick supper after a long workday.]
Blend this to a chunky consistency once cooled. We like it this way, as it gives a lot of texture. Remove to a saucepan, bring to a simmer. Add seasonings. Check for salt. Add milk towards the end, bring it to a simmer once again. Remove from flame, serve hot with croutons or whole wheat toasts.
*If you don't use a pressure cooker, then boil the mushroom, onion and spinach with some water in a pan with a lid for around 10 minutes till mushrooms are soft.

This makes a good low-fat, low-carb supper (minus the toasts of course) . But even with the bit of carbs, it is an excellent option for those who are looking at shedding some pounds.

Another incredibly simple mushroom recipe coming your way soon!

10 September 2009

The all Indian Apple Cheesecake

Temptation

Apples in bakes come a close second for me after bananas. I have some three regular apple cake recipes that I like to use when I find some apples languishing in the refrigerator and I'm in a good mood to rescue them from dying a slow death. However let me not talk of morose things like death, when there's such an interesting recipe to share with you.

One of my best friends is a Marwari and once again I must say the Marwari ladies are a very creative lot - often indulging in very innovative pursuits, not excluding cooking. This recipe was passed on to my friend by her relative - an Indian version of an apple cheesecake or you can call it an apple pie. You can put this together if you have 15 minutes, 3 apples and a litre of milk on hand. I'm not kidding you, and I find this taste far far superlative to the regular apple pie which is not only more labour intensive but also flour & calorie intensive. If you serve this up at your next party, I can guarantee that your guests may forget you but will never forget the taste of this absolutely yummy piece of cheesecake. I've made this just once which was quite a few months ago - but I can't wait to make it again.

Waiting to be cut
The all Indian Apple CheesecakeTime taken - 15 minutes prep time and upto an hour of inactive baking time
Serves 6 at least

Printable version here

Ingredients

200 grams Digestive Marie or McVites biscuits
1 tbsp melted butter or ghee
3 apples - peeled, cored, sliced ( I used Shimla apples)
1 litre regular cow's milk - turned into paneer*
2 tbsp or more brown or regular sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder

Directions
Preheat oven at 200 C.

Crush the biscuits coarsely in food processor along with melted butter or ghee. Line this on the bottom and sides of a pie dish, pressing firmly with your fingers or the bottom of a cup / glass.

Place this in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool till the filling is ready.

Next, puree the sliced apples and when its almost done, add the paneer, cinnamon and sugar to get a smooth puree of apple and paneer. Add sugar depending on sweetness of apples.

Turn this puree into the baked crust, smoothen out and bake for 45 minutes or so at 180 C - until top is golden and the cake is nearly firm.

Cool in the refrigerator for a few hours and serve as it is or with some vanilla ice cream.



Dessert is served

* Heat one litre cow's milk till it comes to a boil - turn flame to sim. Add up to one tbsp vinegar or 1/2 cup curds to curdle the milk. Stir around until the separated water (whey) is clear and light green. Filter out the solids, pressing out as much liquid as you can. The filtered soild is the paneer to be used in the recipe.

4 September 2009

Date Cashewnut Payasam ready in ten minutes

Do you remember the dates stuffed with a cashew in the Diwali gift boxes of yester-years? This payasam is something like that. Something I came up with on spur of the moment to prepare for my baby's 9th month birthday today. Tough to believe that something this simple and quick can taste so good.

Date Cashewnut Payasam

Date-Cashewnut Payasam
Makes 4 servings (small cups)
Time taken - Around 10 minutes


Ingredients
500 ml cow's milk ( I used 3%)
8 dates, deseeded and sliced
10-12 cashews
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cornflour mixed in 1/4th cup cold milk
4 tsp sugar
Pinch of saffron
Garnish - 4 cashews broken into bits, few raisins - sauteed in 1 tsp hot ghee for a minute on low flame till cashews are golden and raisins are puffed

Directions
  1. Keep the milk to boil in a heavy bottomed pan, and then let it simmer for 5 minutes or so.
  2. Meanwhile place the dates and cashews in a glass bowl with 1/2 cup water and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes till the dates are tender. Once cooled, grind this to a fine (or coarse, if you like) paste.
  3. Add the cornstarch slurry to the milk and bring it to a boil. Then add the date-cashew paste, sugar and saffron. Let the mix simmer for 3-5 minutes and the payasam is ready.
  4. I don't usually add cornstarch to desserts, but I wasn't sure if the date paste would curdle the milk, while bringing it to a boil, hence the precaution.
  5. Garnish with the cashews and raisins toasted in ghee.
  6. This tastes good both warm and cold.