Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break :-)


Hi dear readers ,

I will be on a blogging break for a short while from next week. Me and V are going on a early Spring break :) I will be reading all your comments, though I wouldn't be able to reply. Wish you all a very Happy Easter holiday :) Do cast your votes on the Click event if you liked my post of "Fun with Eggs" :)

Hope to see you all soon :)

Roopa

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fun with eggs :)

I am sending this for the Click: March (2008)- Metal hosted by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi

Multipurpose Idli-maker !

Easter is nearing and everywhere in the shopping malls I see beautiful decoration. My nature is , whenever I see something very nicely decorated, I feel like knowing how they did it, even very basic kid stuff like Play-Dough (so you can imagine how much an Egg-dye kit seen everywhere nowadays makes me feel !) can occupy my time if I can get hold of some, but this sometimes goes wild as it can make me go on a shopping spree ..ahem(I am telling this from my personal experience when I was in India) , so I myself tell V that, I appreciate him so much , for stopping me from buying such stuff , though I start cribbing when he stops me ;-D .... Ain't I a good wife ? ;-) Is V reading this? If he is, he better nod ....in approval of course !! :-DD

Our TV is out of order from yesterday, so I was stuck with Internet. What more reasons do I want? With all the merry making I saw in Framingham for Easter, I decided to decorate eggs. This is my first time making Easter eggs. And yes I made up my mind not to spend even an extra penny for this at the store. I was going to make with whatever available in my home at that moment.

As usual, Internet was my help. I searched for the basics of blowing through an egg, making holes using things at home, Natural dyes etc etc.... When I got an idea of how they do it, I then made a mental note that , I have food colors , given by a friend, eggs ( a full carton! wow) , Lemon extract, Turmeric powder, Chilli powder (hehehe how can I forget my love for spicy stuff, though I am just dying an egg), color pens, markers. Well that would be enough for me.

The only thing I had a concern was the Egg blower, I didn't have one and I didn't want to use my mouth as I didn't want to ingest raw or uncooked poultry because of the risk involved. So I searched in the kitchen for an alternative, and yes, boy oh boy, was I glad to see my Pressure Cooker ? yes , especially the lid !! That along with my mouth was my "Egg Blower kit" ;-D

These are steps I followed to make Easter eggs: I used raw eggs at room temperature.

To make two holes in the egg:

1. Things used : A sharp pointed sewing needle, the usual scissors with sharp pointed tips.

First make a hole at the pointing end of the egg: Hold the scissors and egg horizontally. Using one of the pointed tips of the scissors on the pointed end of the egg, with a very little pressure (be careful to not cause any big cracks on the egg shell), start turning the scissors and the eggs in opposite directions in a motion similar to tightening a screw. It might take a while for the scissors to finally cause a tiny opening in the egg shell. If your hands start paining, just take a short break and resume again at the same spot (be sure to drill the same spot, so mark it if you forget)(in fact this speeds up the process ! ) . When the tiny hole finally starts forming, reduce the pressure to almost Nil, try scraping away (or just poking around the hole a little) the shell surrounding the hole using the needle. The hole you make at this end should be smaller than the one you make at the wider end. Stir the insides of the egg using the needle or the scissors (be careful not to cause any cracks while doing this). The stirring helps the yolk to come out of the hole while blowing.

To blow in the egg: This was quiet a task using the pressure cooker lid. But look at the positive side, I didn't have to waste a penny, and I got a good breathing exercise using my mouth. Be sure to have a good breakfast or whatever before trying to do this ;-D because it takes a lot of energy. Maybe I felt like this because I did it on an empty stomach ;-D

Keep a bowl to collect the egg white and the yolk (you didn't think I was going to throw that away did you? I didn't want to waste food, so I collected the whites and yolks and stored them in the refrigerator in an air tight container. Will use them for a quick omelet or scrambled egg. Fix the top part of the pressure cooker lid with the vent on the smaller hole on the egg, holding the egg in one hand and the lid in the other, breath deeply and give a good blow through the other side of the vent. If it didn't work out, enlarge the hole on the wider end a bit to allow the contents to come out. Repeat until most of the contents come out. If you are a first timer like me, I am sure you will be so surprised with the laws of physics involved here ! Fill the egg shell with water, and repeat the blowing to clean the insides. Allow these to dry for 5-10 minutes.

Dying the egg shells:

This is the fun part which takes you to your childhood as you will have color stains on your hands, nails ;-) I loved it !

Things used : Liquid Food dyes, Turmeric powder, vessel for boiling water, Lemon extract, stickers.

When the egg shells dried, I stuck small stickers (you can see the pony, it was originally a unicorn but the horn didn't stick well to the shell) imprint on the egg, its from the sticker :) ] on the egg shell. Then I kept the vessel filled with a little water (to cover the egg) for boiling. I filled the egg shell with water so that it doesn't float in the vessel, so that it gets a uniform coating of the dye. I added the egg shells filled with water to the vessel. When the water in the vessel started boiling I added the lemon extract (a few drops) (this I guess is the alternative to vinegar which helps to bind the dye to the egg shell), and then the dye (you can mix and match the dyes too ! ) . Then I allowed the mixture to come to a rolling boil, reduced the fire to low and just waited for a few more minutes until I felt that that the color of the egg is desirably changed. Scooped out the egg using a spoon, be careful the steam inside the egg shell can cause burns. Or you can just wait until the mixture cools. Then I kept it for drying . Don't wipe the shell with you fingers when its wet. When its dry, I peeled off the sticker to find the cute imprint of the pony on the shell. I was so happy to see that ! You can draw shapes using markers and ink pens.

Arrange:
I made several of these eggs and arranged on an Idli stand as you can see in the pictures. I was glad I could do something creative like this:)

Happy Easter in advance to each one of my readers !!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Can you guess what this is? Yes it is Vanilla Panna Cotta

Hi everyone :) Thanks a lot for participating in this guessing game :) Panna Cotta is one of the easiest dessert anyone can prepare. Its easier to prepare than the Caramel Custard Pudding. Panna Cotta- means "Cooked Cream" . This is a Italian dessert made by cooking cream,and sugar and adding gelatin to it later and refrigerating it to set it. One of the readers commented as " Is that milk pudding,made of gelatin,served with chocolate sauce? " well that's just Panna Cotta, except that it is usually served alongside Fruit sauce made by simmering berries or fruits , for which I did not have the patience.

This is my entry for the "Festa-Italiana" hosted by Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann from Finding La Dolce Vita . This is also my entry for "Sugar High Friday"hosted by Habeas Brulee.

I prepares this dish for V ( poor thing he got a mouth sore after having one of my spicy dishes these days and I felt I owned him something sweet) and I was in mood for a dessert on Saturday midnight :)) , yes you saw that right, I wrote midnight, because I wasn't feeling sleepy at all and as usual I was in front of my computer searching for recipes. I came across this luscious, glossy, smooth and creamy dessert on Internet and decided to see what exactly it is and I was so surprised to see that it was egg less and easy to make:) , I didn't wait, as usual I was in form when I wanted to cook what I wanted :) and thought that V would also would enjoy it on Sunday morning :) I made it and refrigerated overnight and the next day it came out perfect ! Enough I will stop my yapping and post the recipe below :)

Ingredients:

Cream - 2 1/2 cups
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Gelatin - 1 envelope (almost 2 1/2 teaspoons) (I think people who don't prefer gelatin can use Agar, I haven't tried it, so I don't guarantee anything)
Milk - 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons


Method:

Combine gelatin and milk and keep it aside for around 5 minutes. On medium heat combine cream and sugar and vanilla. Don't let it come to a rolling boil.
Switch off the heat and add the gelatin mixture to the cream mixture, stir well to combine everything. Without allowing the mixture to cool, strain it. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or into glass tumblers (the lesser the height, the easier you can unmould the Panna Cotta from the bowl) . I used glass tumblers as I didn't have any ramekins. Wait until the mixture cools and comes to room temperature. Then refrigerate overnight.

The next day, dip the bases of each glass bowl in hot water, then wipe the base clean. keep it on a flat surface and run a knife along the edges of the Panna Cotta so that it can slide off easily when you invert it onto a flat plate. This is how you invert it: Place a flat plate, on top of the tumbler, invert the tumbler slowly, then gently tap the bottom of the tumbler and slowly take it up. The Panna Cotta, unmoulds and comes off like in the picture above or depending upon the mould of your tumbler.

That's it!! Have it along with your favorite fruit sauce or chocolate sauce (Microwave chocolate chips with a little milk in microwave for 30 seconds and just melt it using the spoon to form a liquid.) .
Cudn't resist myself from posting so many pics:)
One last one and its done OK? :-D


Done !! :-D

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palada Pradhaman

Pradhaman is a sweet dish in the form of a thick liquid. It is made with white sugar or jaggery to which milk or coconut milk is added and cooked for a long time. [Courtesy : WikiPedia]
Pradhaman is of various types, Jackfruit Pradhaman (chakka pradhaman), aval Pradhaman, Parippu Pradhaman, Palada Pradhaman (Ada Pradhaman) etc.. But for me , the favorite among them is Palada pradhaman:) I love this lovely Pradhaman to bits:) .

Let me give you a short description A short description about its original preparation from "The Hindu" paper on Internet : "What is Onam (the state festival of Kerala) without the Palada Pradhaman? Like the vibrant Malayali cuisine, there are several payasam varieties, but the royalty is the palada pradhaman. There are no shortcuts to making this fabulous dish. Its preparation time is anything between four and nine hours, depending on the quantity. The rice used is a special reddish variety which is washed, dried, and powdered. A paste made of this powder is spread on banana leaves, which are rolled and tossed into boiling water. Once cooked, the leaves are plunged into cold water, and the cooked rice spread removed, and cut fine. This is the ada. Today, thanks to technology and packaging, the ada is available is a dehydrated version, but is not a patch on the fresh, flavoursome original."

As mentioned in the article, nowadays, anyone can prepare this delicacy as we get the dehydrated "ada's" in the Indian stores. I made this recently and I never added any cream, just milk, cardomom, nutmeg and sugar and it was heavenly. Both of us finished it within few minutes of making it. Yumm I still remember the taste of the ada along with the sweetened milk. Mmm can't wait to make it again one of these days:) . Thanks to Priya , I came to know about the availability of Ada in Indian stores as I found the same type of Ada packet in her blog. I also followed her method of cooking Payasam in Pressure Cooker. But it can be cooked in any other vessel, the only thing is , it will take 1 to 2 hours of cooking. Pressure cooking fastens this process.

Here goes the recipe:

Ingredients:

Ada : 1/2 cup
Milk : 3 1/2 cups
Sugar : 1/2 cup or as per your taste
Cardomom powder: 1/4 teaspoon
Nutmeg : a pinch (optional)
Saffron (optional) strands : 2 or 3 strands



How its made:

Soak ada in boiling water for around 5-10 munites or until it is softened a bit but not lost its shape. In the pressure cooker , add milk, ada, and sugar. Pressure cook with the whistle for one whistle. Switch off fire, let the cooker stand like this for some time until all the pressure is released. Then open the cooker and on medium heat, start stirring the mixture, add cardomom powder and nutmeg powder and continue stirring. Stir for 5 -10 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.

Remove from fire and add the saffron strands and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Serve it hot or cold , I love it :)

This is my entry for Novel Food: Spring 2008 Edition hosted by Lisa of Champaign Taste and Simona of Briciole .

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shrimp Pickle

These days I was craving for Prawns. There isn't a place in Framingham I haven't searched for Prawns. Do any of you know where to get some nearby Framingham if not in Framingham? I had to satisfy with shrimps available here. I made shrimp pickle yesterday and it came out good.

I was inspired from RP's blog though I have made quiet a few changes in the ingredients. The sad thing about making shrimp or any other shellfish pickle at my place is that V cannot eat it as he is allergic to shell fish. But when he has his Beef chili, what would a not-red meat eater like me savor on? So to get even I went ahead with making this shrimp pickle. V did not even come near it, so I didn't have to worry about sharing it (hehehe I am just kidding, I was actually sad because he refused to even touch it :-(
Anyways, here is the recipe:

Whole Shrimp : 1 cup
Garlic : 6 cloves minced to thin small pieces.
For marination: Red Chilli powder and Freshly cracked pepper, salt, lemon extract : as required to marinate the shrimp. I didn't note down the measurements for these
Oil: for deep frying the marinated cooked shrimp

Powdered mustard seeds and fenugreek (methi) seeds together : 2 teaspoons
Chilly powder: as per your taste
Lemon extract : as per your taste
Asafoetida (hing) : a pinch
Oil: 1/4Th cup
Salt: to taste
How I made it:

Clean and devein the shrimp (I used the frozen shrimp, which had instructions to put the shrimps in hot boiling water until the shrimp thaws, before cleaning and deveining it). You can find the steps on this website for cleaning and deveining the shrimp. Add all the marinade on the shrimp and cook it without water on a pan on low flame. This is to make sure all the water is left from the shrimp. It just takes around 3 minutes for a cup of shrimp. Deep fry the shrimp in oil and keep them aside. Take 1/4Th cup of the oil in which the shrimp was deep fried into a pan under medium heat, add the garlic, saute it , add the fenugreek-mustard powder, chilly powder. Add mustard seeds. Wait until the mustard seeds splutter, and then lower the fire. Then add a pinch of asafoetida and saute until the raw smell of everything in the pan is gone, else the pickle will taste differently. Then add salt and the fried shrimp, mix it well, add the lemon extract (the original recipe called for vinegar, so I used lemon extract). Mix increasing the fire a little. After a minute, switch off the fire and transfer it to a dry glass bottle. Keep it open until the pickle is cooled. Cover it after it is cooled. I kept it refrigerated until I had it with my lunch, dinner, breakfast :-D Yes you have it as a side dish for breakfast,lunch, dinner :)

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