December 24, 2016

Hot Cocoa

While I wish Christmas season would last longer, I still enjoyed the one month that preceded Christmas. That is when we decided to begin our Christmas celebration. The tree was up a month ago with little tweaks and twists whenever we were mood for a change. CBN radio played all along and I lost count of the Christmas movies we watched. Each movie spoke of Christmas spirit, family, love and hope. Put together, it is the celebration of life putting aside all our worries.  Baking also found way into our life and mall hopping to see the Santa Claus and Christmas decor were not far behind. 

It's Christmas eve and I hope all of you are all ready for the big day! The climate is chilly in most parts of the world and if you are in mood for a drink (non alcoholic :P) - here is a recipe you can count on. It makes me think of all the days we went to Cafe Coffee day for a sip at Hot Cocoa and it took me years to realise I could make one at home with easily available ingredients.



This would be all my Christmas recipes for this year. Wishing you all a very very blessed and joyous Christmas!!


Ingredients
(single serve)

  1. Milk - 1 cup
  2. Cocoa powder(unsweetened) - 1 tbsp
  3. Instant coffee powder - 1/4 tsp
  4. Sugar - 1 tsp
  5. Cinnamon powder - 2 pinches
  6. Vanilla essence - 2 drops

Method

Warm the milk in a sauce pan. Add the cocoa powder, instant coffee powder and sugar. Using a hand whisk, stir the contents well to prevent cocoa powder from forming lumps.
Turn off the flame just when it begins to boil. Stir in the cinnamon powder and vanilla essence and serve hot.

You may also note - 
  1. Cocoa powder tends to form lumps, you can sieve the powder in order to avoid that.
  2. Sweetness may be adjusted as per your choice.

December 20, 2016

Prawns Roast| Chemmeen Roast

Majority of my Christmas days were spent in Kerala. The routine was fixed for years as far as I can remember. Vacation for us began on the 23rd of December every year on wrapping up the annual day celebrations. Then catch the Malabar express from Mangalore (Soumya -my sister and I loved the train journey) to reach Mavelikara the 24th morning.

Christmas day began with a breakfast of appam and chicken stew! A plateful of plum cake adorned the table every meal.
Have you tried cake and stew combo?
Do I sound crazy?
My dad says so - you should probably try to believe it. A slice of cake and a spoonful of stew on it. That is the way I end my Christmas breakfast. Lunch would generally be Biriyani or rice with a lot of non veg items - chicken, beef , seafood, mutton,  name it and you have it. Dinner was more or less on the same lines. Christmas is not exactly Christmas without the lip smacking food!!

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I have chosen one such recipe that could form a part of your Christmas menu this season - Prawns roast or Chemmeen roast. Cakes, muffins and cookies makes it Christmassy sure but it's only when you have the kind of food you are used to having for Christmas growing up does Christmas look complete. The photography of this dish is special too - It is for the first time that someone gave me a gift and told me -' it is not for you but for kitchenspells'. The dish has been laid out in a porcelain gifted by a dear friend Vivin. ( I know he is going to get back to me on this - cz prawns is definitely not his favorite item. We fight often so I guess that is not a big deal either:P)

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Ingredients

For marination -

  1. Prawns - 1/2 kg (cleaned and de-veined)
  2. Red Chilly powder - 1 tsp
  3. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
For the roast
  1. Shallots - 1 cup chopped
  2. Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  3. Tomato - 1 medium chopped
  4. Curry Leaves - 2 sprigs
  5. Green Chilly - 2 slit
  6. Kashmiri chilly powder - 1 tsp
  7. Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
  8. Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  9. Coconut Oil
  10. Salt

Method
  • Clean and de-vein the prawns. Let the water drain.
  • Marinate the prawns in chilly powder and turmeric powder for about half an hour.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan and add the chopped shallots. Saute for 2-3 minutes on medium flame before adding the ginger garlic paste.
  • Once this is cooked, add chilly powder, pepper powder and coriander powder. Combine and cook the masala well.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook it covered till the tomato melts in and oil starts leaving masala.
  • Add the marinated prawns along with the curry leaves and green chilly. Coat this well with the masala and let it cook.
  • Prawns cook fast and over cooking makes them rubbery. Cook them until done - this will take you a maximum of ten minutes.Keep it covered first half of the time and uncovered for second half. This helps the prawns attain the color of the masala as it gets coated well. Depending on how you want your masala to be you could uncover and let the masala run dry or else have it in semi gravy form.

December 16, 2016

Spiced Apple Juice

I am not a fan of Dubai summers and eagerly wait for the winter to arrive. Every time it does I swear to make the best use of it. From evening strolls in the park to sitting out in the balcony and enjoying the breeze, I love it all. I am on high spirits this season - so my kitchen often has new dishes.

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If you are looking for something warm to make your winter nights cozy, look no further. Here is a tried and tested recipe which you will grow to love. Its absolutely not complicated and all you need are three ingredients. While your chicken roasts and your cake bakes, you could have your drink made as well. So here you are - Spiced Apple juice!

I got this recipe from Shibin and he got it from his brother, Shinoj.

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Ingredients
  1. Apple Juice - 4 glasses ( You could pick up a can from the supermarket)
  2. Cinnamon sticks - 1 whole stick
  3. Cloves - 6
Method

Pour the apple juice into a saucepan along with cinnamon sticks and cloves. Simmer this for 10 to 15 minutes on low flame. Do not let it boil - switch off when the bubbles just start forming at the bottom of the pan. Keep it covered for 20 minutes and let it take in the flavors of the spices. Serve it warm.

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December 12, 2016

Carrot Halwa Cheesecake - No Bake

The long weekend has heralded a hopefully long winter in Dubai. The winds are chilly and my hands are invariably reaching out to the woolens. The sky is clear and occasional clouds pass by as I look up and pray that at least one would sprinkle showers as they go by. I have not been that lucky yet! It is that time of the year when we reach out to those soothing hot drinks and soups. Yet the crazy part in each of us would want to grab hold of an ice cream or something chilled. ( although the angel in your head would speak of possibilities of falling sick - the devil in you doesn't care)

The call for making a cheesecake has been there since the last mango season. The season passed by and no cheesecake was made. While discussing the menu for Christmas, Shibin was quick to suggest a cheesecake and since mango is not in season now, I was left pondering on the flavor. I was quickly taken back to one of the episodes of Dhe Chef - a Malayalam channel cooking reality show where one of the contestants happened to make a carrot halwa cheese cake.  So there it was done!!

The cream cheese I have used is homemade - I picked up the recipe from the blog - Sharmispassion . I increased the quantity of lime juice added to 3 tbsp as against the 1.5 mentioned in the blog to get the desired consistency. Why do you need to buy cream cheese, if you can make it at home!! It is cheaper and not so tedious. Head over to her blog, if you want to give it a shot and below is my cheesecake recipe.


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Ingredients

For Carrot Halwa

  1. Carrot - 1 and half cup grated
  2. Sweetened condensed milk - 100 ml
  3. White sugar - 2 tbsp
  4. Ghee - 4 tbsp
For cheesecake
  1. Digestive Biscuit - 8 -10
  2. Butter - 3 tbsp melted
  3. Cream cheese - 1 cup
  4. Thick cream - 1/3 cup
  5. Sugar -1/4 cup powdered
  6. Rose essence - 1 tsp
  7. Salt - 1 pinch
Method

Carrot Halwa
  • Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a saucepan and add the grated carrot. 
  • Add the condensed milk and combine. Let it simmer on low flame till the raw taste of the carrot goes and the milk content reduces by 80%.
  • Add sugar and remaining ghee. Stir till it combines well and the moisture content dries up.
  • Set aside to cool
Cheesecake
  • Put the digestive biscuits into a ziploc bag and crush it using a rolling pin till coarse
  • Combine this with melted ghee. Layer the bottom of 4 glasses with this mixture and press down using spoon. Let it refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Whisk the thick cream until peak is formed. Add in the cream cheese and combine well.
  • Add in the sugar, salt and the essence and combine.
  • Add about 3 tbsp of the carrot halwa to the cheese mixture and fold this in.
  • Scoop spoonfuls of the cheese mixture into the glasses. Gently tap down the glass on tea towel to level the cheese layer.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Finally, top the cheesecake with carrot halwa and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  • Serve chilled.
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December 9, 2016

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Muffins

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It has been long since I played the game of Secret Santa - I am sure most of you are familiar with this game. It is not the gifts you wrap or unwrap that gives the happiness. It is more about the suspense, the secret letters and the guessing games as to who could be your Santa. I was introduced to this game when I was in hostel where every year we religiously play  - we did have our semester exam during this time of the year but that never dampened our spirits. Nothing could possibly be a hindrance to this game when you have a whole hostel - 100 odd girls playing this game. We had a letter box where we could drop in letters addressed to our secret friend. The thrill of finding a letter addressed to you or small gifts that would mysteriously appear on your bed or a messenger getting it for you. Aah!  Shopping for the gifts weren't easy either. It was always last minute purchases and all the 100 girls end up at the same store every time. We had to dodge our secret friends in the store to get across to buy gifts for them. Aah! Those were the small joys of Christmas.

I wonder as we begin to grow older, do we stop ourselves from enjoying those tiny little things we once enjoyed. So why not this Christmas try to relive your favorite memories - age is after all just a number. May be its a game of Secret Santa or going caroling or baking - let us grow younger this Christmas!

Over to my Christmas recipe - an easy to make muffin with lesser greased utensils. All the combining is done in one bowl - so what are you waiting for - hurry over and try this

kitchenspells.blogspot.com


Ingredients
(makes 10 muffins)

  1. Ripe Banana - 1/4 cup mashed
  2. Butter - 1/4 cup melted
  3. Brown sugar - 1/4 cup
  4. Egg - 1
  5. Wheat Flour - 1 cup
  6. Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
  7. Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
  8. Cocoa powder - 1 tbsp heaped
  9. Salt 
Method
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree centigrade
  • Sieve together the dry ingredients - Wheat Flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • Take the mashed banana in a bowl and add the brown sugar and butter
  • Break open an egg into this and add the vanilla essence and fold well to combine
  • Now incorporate the dry ingredients in batches and mix well as you go
  • Line your muffin tray with muffin cups or parchment paper and scoop out the batter into the cups.
  • Bake at 180 degree centigrade for 20 minutes or till a pin inserted comes out clean.
  • Once done move onto a cooling rack.
  • Dust a bit of powdered sugar on the top for the finale.

December 4, 2016

Ginger Cookies

It is winter, it is Christmas and baking just happens this season! Listening to the carols, there I went baking again.  

My mind began wandering to 'Long time ago in Bethlehem',
In the 'Silent Night'
I envisioned 'Hark the herald, angels sing'.
The bright stars guiding 'We three Kings of Orient are'
Led them to the place where 'Mary's boy child Jesus Christ' lay.
 ' O Come All Ye Faithful' and spread the word.
'Go tell it on the mountain' and spread 'Joy to the world'.

It is a 'Merry Merry Merry Christmas'
And 'Santa Claus is coming to town'
'Dashing through the snow' here he is
With 'Rudolf the red nose reindeer' by his side
and 'Frosty the snowman' to welcome him
I 'Decked my halls with boughs of Holly',
and keep dreaming about a 'White Christmas'.

Looks like an overdose of carols!! Oh Never mind, like Shibin says when Christmas is over we should be tired of listening to carols and I still have 21 days more to go!

I am not a wonderful baker to be honest! I have had my disasters in the oven. There was a time I used to give up if I did not get the recipe right in the first go. Over time, I have learnt that patience has its virtues and I am ready to give several shots before I get it right. The end result has always been worth it for me!  The smell of the freshly baked goodies and the delight on the faces of my food testers:) make every effort worthwhile. I have learnt on the go that oven of different models behave differently, the type of flour that each one uses would have different levels of tolerance to moisture and so on and so forth. At the end of this recipe, I have given a few tips based on my baking experiments.

So here is my recipe - Ginger cookies

kitchenspells.blogspot.com

Ingredients

  1. All Purpose Flour - 1 and 1/2 cup
  2. Baking Soda - 1 tsp
  3. Ground dry ginger - 2 tsp
  4. Ground cinnamon - 1 tsp
  5. Ground nutmeg - 1/2 tsp
  6. Salt - 1/4 tsp
  7. Brown Sugar packed - 1/2 cup
  8. Butter - 100 gms
  9. Egg - 1 medium size
  10. Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  11. White Sugar for rolling the cookie dough



Method
  • Combine the dry ingredients listed from 1 to 6 and sieve them well
  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature. Add the brown sugar to a bowl of butter and cream it using a electric beater or a hand whisk
  • Break open an egg into this, add the vanilla essence and combine well
  • Slowly, add small batches of the sieved ingredients, mixing with a spatula to combine
  • Once the dry ingredients have combined with the wet, dig in your hands to do a bit of kneading and bring the dough together
  • Let the dough rest for about half an hour
  • Meanwhile line your tray with baking parchment and pre-heat your oven
  • Wet your hands and pinch off small lemon sized balls from the dough. Roll it in a plate of white sugar until the ball is completed coated in sugar
  • Place this on the baking tray and leave sufficient gap between the cookies for it to expand
  • You could either bake the cookies as is or press it down with a fork and flatten it slightly
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 180 degree centigrade
  • Once done, transfer it to a cooling rack
  • This cookie goes extremely well your cup of tea. Try it to believe it!
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You may also note - 
  • Ovens quite often behave differently depending on the brands, capacity and energy source. You may have to do several trials with your oven before you have the perfect cookies or cakes. When I started making cookies- I often used to get the underneath of it burned and the inside still uncooked. Its after quite a few experiments that I started getting the texture right. Patience always pays and the first time need not always be your best!
  • If you are using a gas oven that lights up only at the bottom, you could try placing the baking tray at the top most slot and baking it for a while longer than suggested in the recipe.
  • In case your cookie dough is a little too soft and you are finding it difficult to roll, just refrigerate the dough for a while.
  • Cookies generally seem a little under cooked when you take it out of the oven - let it cool to harden and get its color.

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