One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving, Christmas and generally, during this time of the year is having the warm and inviting smell of ingredients such as apple, cinnamon, pumpkin and nutmeg fill your house when you are baking, and … Continue reading
I’m not a huge fan of eating marshmallows by themselves, but a couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend got me some kerfluffles (handmade marshmallows made entirely of natural ingredients) and I was absolutely amazed at the diversity of flavors that they had to offer – mocha chip, mayan hot chocolate, lemon meringue, spiced apple cider etc. My favorite though was this banana bread marshmallow which had great texture and wasn’t too sweet. We decided to use our brulee torch and toast it a bit, which made it even more delicious by giving it a crispy caramelized outer layer. Since then I’ve been wanting to make creme brulee and decided to go with the simple and straightforward version first – vanilla creme brulee. This one is a really easy recipe and the smell of the vanilla bean will make your apartment smell absolutely heavenly!
Source: Alton Brown’s Recipe
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 quarts hot water
- Special equipment – ramekins, brulee torch
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use*
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins**. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
- Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
* – We used the vanilla bean to make some vanilla sugar. Simple and provides you something different to look forward to in that morning latte!
** – Be careful while putting the pan into the pan as it will not bake properly if the hot water goes inside the ramekins.
Last weekend, I had a huge craving for crêpes. Bananas and Nutella are usually my favorite crepe toppings and I thought to myself – I bet together they’d make a pretty great ice-cream combination. I was also looking for an excuse to use my ice-cream machine because my roommate kept taunting me about the large amount of space the freezer bowl was taking up, especially given how long it had been since I had last used it. Thankfully it turned out to be a warm weekend, great for ice cream, and the results didn’t disappoint. It’s also an incredibly fast recipe as you don’t really need to make any sort of custard before putting the mixture into the ice-cream maker – just blend together all the ingredients, and they’re ready to go into the mixer.
I eventually ended up using the ice cream as a topping for some darn good crêpes that my roommate whipped up the same morning (recipe for those coming soon!). I was also watching an old episode of The Next Food Network Star, which reminded me of how much I love Bobby Flay, and if you like the flavors in this recipe, you should definitely try out his Nutella and Banana Sandwich.
Reciped adapted from Isabelle’s Crumb Blog
- 2/3 cup Nutella spread
- 3 ripe small bananas, cut into chunks
- 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1.5 cups half-and-half cream
- Using a blender or food processor, process the Nutella and bananas until smooth and thick. Sift in the cocoa, and process again to blend. Lastly, add the cream and process until completely blended and smooth.
- Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- Pour the chilled mixture to an ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Once the ice cream is mostly frozen and has a consistency similar to soft-serve, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 30 minutes to harden up.
If you’re in the mood for a healthy snack, or a low-stress party snack, these oven-roasted chickpeas are a great idea. Chickpeas are one of my favorite ingredients and I regularly use them in curries or with couscous. However, if you take off their outer skin and then roast them with a couple of spices, they shrivel up and turn into an addictive and crunchy snack. Mixing the chickpeas with the oil and spices takes less than 5 minutes, and then they need around 40 minutes to bake. So the next time you’re staring at a can of chickpeas wondering what to do, hummus isn’t the only option you should consider…
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, skins removed
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1.5 teaspoon grounds cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Rinse and drain the chickpeas and dry by rolling them around in a kitchen towel.
- Combine the oil, paprika, cumin, garam masala cayenne and salt in a large bowl. Add chickpeas and toss to coat evenly. Transfer the chickpeas to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer.
- Bake until golden and crispy, 35 to 40 minutes (or when they acquire a crunchy texture), shaking the tray to toss after 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the chickpeas to a serving bowl.
Even though summer has officially come to an end, I still treat myself to my favorite summer drink every morning until it *really* gets too cold. Though I like hot coffee as well, there’s nothing like an iced coffee for me, and the frappé is one of my favorite versions of it. Usually though, frappés are quite heavy, and I like this lighter version. It’s also quick, making it the perfect morning drink! My Greek roommate also swears by it, though he insists on using his frappé-maker instead of my (much-better) Cuisinart hand blender.
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (my favorite being Nescafe Classico)
- 1.5 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I prefer 1% or 2%)
- Couple of ice cubes
- Blend the instant coffee, sugar and water together until its consistency resembles that of a slight paste.
- Stir milk into this mixture. Finish off with some ice cubes and enjoy!
What fall/winter drinks should I be looking forward to now that I won’t be able to enjoy my frappés for much longer?
It’s the perfect weather for making s’mores in New England as summer draws to an end, and if you’re looking to have that combination of flavors on-the-go or take to a party where you won’t have a fire available to make them, then this is the perfect recipe.
Combining the same ingredients and more, these cookie bars quite a flavor. However, these are also quite heavy, and the next time, I’d spread this same amount of crust listed below on a larger 13 x 9 pan (I used a 9 x 9 pan for these), because I think I’d prefer a thinner cookie bar. I made this batch to take to a movie at a friend’s place, but it would also be a great dessert to carry to a picnic.
Recipe from Joan Hayes over at Chocolate, Chocolate and More
- 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup mini marshmallows plus a few extra for the top
- 1 regular sized milk chocolate Hershey Bar
- Line a square baking pan with parchment paper (I used a 9 x 9 pan, but I recommend a 9 x 13 pan in order to make a thinner cookie bar). Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Place in bottom of prepared pan and press down to form a crust.
- Cream 1/2 cup softened butter, add in sugars and cream again till fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix again. Combine Flour, baking soda and salt, then add to butter mixture. Once all combined, fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows. Spoon Cookie dough on top of cookie crust as evenly as possible. Don’t worry about spreading perfectly. Dough will spread as it cooks to fill in any gaps. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
- While bars are cooking, break candy bar into sections and place in freezer. 8-10 minutes before bar is done cooking, sprinkle remaining marshmallows on top, just to decorate. Return to baking for remaining time. Remove pan from oven and carefully place broken candy bar pieces on top. Let cool completely before cutting.
Wondering how else to recreate the taste of s’mores in ways other than this? Try this sinful-looking s’mores ice-cream from The Brown-Eyed Baker!
After a series of posts on what can only be described as light, summer foods, I decided it was time to make a decadent and not-so-light (read – pretty heavy!) dessert for a change. Chocolate and whiskey are a natural combination, and as long as you bake this dessert long enough, so that some of the raw alcoholic taste of whiskey gets cooked, leaving a nice smooth flavor, you have a winner on your hands! It took us a few tries to do that – the first time we baked it for 35 minutes and you could still taste some of that raw alcohol, the next time we tried for 45 minutes and it came out with a nice, smooth flavor, and having the perfect consistency as well. Of course, your times might be different according to your particular oven.
This dessert keeps well in the refrigerator for 4 days, so you can make it ahead as well. (In my opinion, it actually tasted better the second day!)
Recipe from Joanna Miller over at The Kitchn
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 5 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli’s 70% cocoa baking bar)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons whiskey (I used Four Roses Bourbon Small Batch)
- Heat oven to 300 F and place a rack in the middle. Bring about 4 cups water to a simmer. In a large baking dish, arrange six ramekins and set aside.
- Chop chocolate into small pieces.
- In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted.
- In a separate bowl, combine honey, egg yolks and whiskey. Whisk for about 2 minutes until thickened. Add the chocolate mixture very slowly to bring up the temperature, whisking constantly.
- Divide the mixture among the ramekins and pour simmering water into the baking dish until the ramekins are half immersed. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the outer edges are set. The middle will still be jiggly, but the cream will continue to set as they cool.
- Cool to room temperature for about 1 hour. Serve, or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Looking for more sweet dessert and whiskey combinations? Try this Whiskey Chocolate Mousse! Though if you want to first figure out which chocolate and whiskey pair the best according to you, read this on how to mix whiskey and chocolate.
It’s been a pretty hot week here on the East Coast (dashing my hopes of cooling off after a hot summer in Delhi!) and I’ve been looking for some appropriate recipes for this weather. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, is a light and nutritious soup and gives you the perfect excuse to use some of those ripe, juicy tomatoes that are in this season. The healthiest of this soup was definitely appealing to me after pigging out at the Charlottesville Restaurant Week last week (details to follow!), where I discovered another great restaurant, Horse and Hound.
Raw vegetables are blended together in this soup with some bread, using sherry vinegar, which exaggerates the tomatoes’ acidity, giving the soup its characteristically zesty flavor. It is a raw soup in the sense that none of the vegetables used are first cooked, which is why the fresher your ingredients, the better the soup is going to taste.
Recipe adapted from Monika Kotus of Crumpets and Cakes posted at The Kitchn
- 2 thick slices of day-old country bread, crusts removed and cut into small pieces (I used French bread)
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds ripest, sweetest most flavorful tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Sea salt
- 1 firm medium-sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
- Place the bread in a large bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and squeeze out juice from one tomato over it. Add 1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar and mix it well with your fingers. Set aside, for at least 10 minutes
- Transfer the bread mixture to a food processor and add minced garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Process until very smooth.
- Add half of the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, generous pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Repeat with another batch of vegetables, remaining tomatoes and olive oil.
- Add some of the remaining sherry vinegar and salt. If, after adding these, your gazpacho is still too thick, you can add the bare minimum of water needed to thin it out. Taste and adjust amounts of each to your liking.
- Mix the two batches together. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving and serve with some toasted bread if you want to add that extra crunch.
Basil is one of my favorite summer ingredients and I just made a large amount of pesto a couple of days back. Bored with the average pasta, I decided to use some pesto with my grilled cheese. I’ve had grilled cheese with guacamole in the past, and it’s been so great that I’ve been waiting to try other unexpected dips that go really well with grilled cheese.
However, it’s also been pretty hot here on the East coast, and it was particularly hot today. Not wanting to stand over a hot stove or deal with the mess of a buttery frying pan, we decided to make grilled cheese in the oven, based on this recommendation. It turned out to be way easier, instead of having to flip it over constantly on a stove and literally took just 8-10 minutes. Plus it gave the bread the perfect, crisp texture. We used a mixture of gouda cheese and habanero-jalapeno aged cheddar cheese, and the latter added just that right kick to the sandwich. (Fringe benefit – eating spicy foods is good in the summer as it helps you sweat, bringing down your body temperature!) I’ll definitely be using my leftover pesto to make another one of these!
- 4 slices bread of your choice (I used a loaf of French bread)
- 1-2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2-3 kinds of cheese of your cheese. Personal preference – Gouda & Habanero-Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread, spreading more thickly around the edges and less in the center. This will prevent the edges from burning before the center is crisp.
- Place half of the slices, buttered side down, on work surface. Top each with a slice of cheese, a tablespoon of pesto, then another slice of cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up.
- Place sandwiches on a baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven. Immediately turn the oven up to 450 degrees F. Carefully turn the sandwiches using a large spatula.
- Bake for another 2-3 minutes, watching carefully, until bread is toasted and crisp and cheese is melted. The first time you flip these sandwiches, they won’t look done at all – the bread will be only slightly brown. But when the sandwiches are done, they will be beautifully crisp and brown on both sides. Serve immediately.
The Kitchn, which is among my favorite food blogs has an excellent feature each week by Dana Velde known as Weekend Meditation. This week she explains why she’s been writing this feature for 5 years now:
“Cooking for ourselves and our loved ones is a very practical matter. It simply must be done…But when I sit down to write the Weekend Meditation post, I’m thinking about something a little different than the mechanical side of cooking…. I think about the internal aspects that we engage when we cook and prep and clean up, and what are their emotional, psychological, and spiritual expressions. What sustains us to return to the kitchen, over and over again? My hope is to encourage us to see cooking not just as a daily chore but also as a place to discover more about ourselves, to open our senses, to express our love and connection…. The kitchen is a place that we can open up and let in the beauty and lushness that is present in life. There’s so much there to smell and taste and feel.”
This perfectly captures my feelings when I came back to the States from India this month. Though I’m going to miss the smells and taste of different varieties of mangoes and savory street food, I feel equally excited to be cooking again with basil, berries, avocados and meyer lemons. To celebrate these tastes and smells of summer that I missed out in the first half of my summer in India, I decided that mai tai was a perfect drink to go with some evening relaxation. Though there are wide disagreements about the kind of sweeteners and/or juices that should go in this drink, I decided to go with the following recipe and did not regret it at all. Perfect summer cooler.
Recipe courtesy AllRecipes
- 1.5 fluid ounce rum
- 1.5 fluid ounce coconut-flavored rum
- 1 teaspoon grenadine syrup
- 3 fluid ounces pineapple juice
- 2 fluid ounces orange juice
- 1 cup ice cubes
In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the spiced rum, coconut rum, grenadine, pineapple juice and orange juice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice.
What are you favorite summer coolers ?