18 December 2011

Celery Rice with Orange Zest

Bite-Sized Post No.2


Celery has to be one of the most fragrant vegetables of them all. It is possibly an acquired taste, but a tiny bit added to salads or soups does its job. I got a fresh bunch of celery with beautiful greens in my home-delivered vegetables yesterday and I wanted to use them before they wilted. This recipe is a great way to use a whole bunch of celery, which is very high on nutritive value, especially fibre.


This rice is a good variation to regular pulao, and it goes well with both Indian curries and 'continental' style baked vegetables. It is mild enough to serve to young kids too. The orange zest provides just that tinge of citrus in the background and will keep your guests guessing as to what's that mystery aroma in the  dish!


We had this with a mixed seasonal winter vegetables curry, recipe of which I shall blog soon.


Click on image to enlarge
If you are lucky to find celery bunch with roots intact, chop off the stems leaving an inch of stem above the root, place in a jar of water for a week or so until new roots appear and then stick it into a pot with good soil. You will have your own supply of celery for soups and salads.

16 December 2011

Easy Jam Filled Muffins - A perfect kiddie treat

December is a hectic month. Socializing, vacation plans, festive madness all around. More so for me as it was my son's 3rd birthday on 4 December and I took on myself what only a few crazy (foodblogger) moms would - ie. Catering to a small crowd of some 18 kids and 2 dozen adults all by myself (a couple of things ordered from outside though, including the cake) and also hand making all the decorations and buntings.

A & N got the most amazing cookies to the party which had the kids all quiet and focussed on eating. They were called World Peace cookies by Dorie Greenspan for a reason, but given that we had kids from a few different countries from around the world, it was almost like the World Peace cookies were being served to a mini UN delegation (which is what our friend Vinod remarked). Since I went through quite some dilemma on what to serve in a kiddie's birthday party with adults, I'm sharing the menu with you, in case any of you plan to do the same, it can give you an idea.


Jelly Boats were a big hit with the kids (and some adults too)




Kids' Menu
Juices
Potato wafers
Banana- Blueberry Bread
World Peace Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cucumber Sticks
Tomato Cheese Spread Sandwiches
Jam Sandwiches
Jelly Boats (Tarla Dalal's recipe)

Kokum Sherbet in recycled Olive / JalapeƱo bottles


For Moms & Dads
Kokum sherbet with mint sprigs
Masala Chai (was perfect for the outdoors on a cold winter afternoon)
Rosemary Shortbread
Peanut Butter Brownies (Rachel Allen's recipe)
Hummus with Cucumber Sticks
Kachori with sweet chutney
Jalebis

Everyone, including me had loads of fun and the food was well liked by everyone. The rosemary shortbread was the star for me. What an amazing discovery from the NYTimes website! I have made another batch within a week and nearly everyone whom I've shared it with is in love with this buttery-melt in your mouth-dainty smelling cookie. Because I am a good girl and I believe in sharing, here is the recipe link for you. Remember me for good karma when people want to kiss your fingers after eating this.

Another fun thing that happened this week and it was to get featured in Bangalore TimeOut, complete with a picture of me in my cluttered   not so spic-n-span kitchen. But that's how busy kitchens look like, right? Right! If you subscribe to Bangalore Time Out, check out Page 62.




Back to the subject of this post, these jam filled muffins are a wonderful treat for your kids. Imagine the surprise in their eyes when they break open a plain boring-looking muffin to find their favourite jam oozing out, like a cute Jack in the Box.

Not just kids, I'm sure adults will love it too. Especially if you fill a little adult something inside, like Orange Marmalade or Vodka-infused Jam (Ideas credit : Monika, Sin-a-mon)

I made these in 30 minutes to surprise a friend on her birthday. So it's something you can rustle up in a jiffy even when your kid brings his/her friends home without a notice ;) The muffins were soft and mildly sweet to contrast the sweet jammy filling inside. And a little dusting of icing sugar makes everything look pretty.



Jammy muffin with little extra bit of bitter marmalade for me


Jam Filled Muffins
Adapted from Muffin Bible
Makes 12 regular sized muffins or
24 mini muffins
Printable version of recipe






Ingredients
1 ½ Cups All purpose flour
½ Cup Sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

¼ Cup Butter
½ Cup yogurt
¾ Cup Juice (Use one that matches with the jam flavour. I used Dark Grapes juice)
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Jam (upto 12 tsp, I used black currant jam)
Icing sugar




Directions
Preheat the oven.
Line a 12 muffin tin with paper liners or grease well and keep aside.

In a large bowl, mix well (with a fork) flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar.

In a microwave safe glass bowl, melt butter (20 seconds).
Add to this cold yogurt, juice and vanilla extract.
Check if this mix has come to room temperature and then add one beaten egg.
(If you add egg to hot melted butter, it will scramble, hence the precaution)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and lightly combine with a fork until they come together. Do NOT beat or overmix. This will make your muffins rock like.

Spoon a little over a tsp of batter in each muffin liner. Place around a tsp of jam over this and cover with 1-2 tsp of batter, dividing the batter evenly between 12 cups.

Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (some melted jam may stick to skewer, but that is okay)

Remove and dust with icing sugar.

Tip:
Please note that I added little under a tsp of jam as I thought the jam would melt inside the oven itself and make the muffins look messy. Turns out I was wrong. You can be generous with the jam filling, and it wont spill out as most of the liquid part gets absorbed into the muffin while baking.

In case you want to know where i found the pretty muffin liners - they are from General Food Additives, Sheshadripuram, Bangalore. That one little shop can take care of your baking needs completely.