Wednesday, June 08, 2011

THE milkshake

If you're looking for the most refreshing way to finish off all those fruit piling up in your refrigerator, well this is it! Our church fundraisers sell boxes of yummalicious mangoes which are perfect the first couple of days but need to be put away real quick. Here's my fool proof milk shake recipe that can be adapted to just about any fruit imaginable. The trick is to use frozen milk, yes, as in a big honking chunk of milky ice! A trick I learned from a small juice shack in Madras, it makes the milkshake thick and creamy even if you're using skim milk! Nobody will know...promise! You can either freeze the milk in small ziploc bags or in multiple ice trays. If following the ziploc method, do your blender a favor and break the ice into pieces. Those of you lucky enough to be in India should try it with either custard apple or chickoo mixed with bournvita (tastes just like the best chocolate milk shake in the world but much more nutritious).

You will need:

2 cups of (skim/whole) milk FROZEN (do your blender a favor and break the ice up into small pieces)
2 cups chopped fresh fruit of choice
Sugar to taste (optional)

Blend first two ingredients together. Taste and add more sugar (if needed), mix again to incorporate sugar.

Strawberry-rhubarb compote

I'm always fascinated by how quickly summer creeps up on us. Its freezing one day, raining for a week and before you know it, its strawberry season and the beginning of summer!!

Munchkin and I went strawberry picking a couple of weeks ago with my parents. And since my mother finally convinced herself that freezing fruit was not a nutritional catastrophe, we hauled home 10lbs of loot! In case you're wondering how much that is exactly, its a LOT! (look below)

About 3 cups of these went into a strawberry-rhubarb compote (delish!) which in an attempt to be healthy I layered with greek yogurt (can be easily substituted with vanilla ice cream) and homemade granola (nothing to write home about so I'll spare you the recipe). The compote is also great spooned over waffles or pancakes or frozen into popsicles.
For the compote:

You will need:

3 cups strawberries (washed, hulled and sliced)
2 cups chopped rhubarb (optional)
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp vanilla essence (or) juice of half a lemon
Sugar to taste (optional)

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil on medium-high heat in a saucepan. Taste the mixture. Add vanilla essence (if mixture is too tart) OR lemon juice (if mixture is not tart enough). If you would like the mixture to be more sweet, add sugar. Refrigerate for about 1 week.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Carrot cake and perspective

Its funny how when you're obsessing about what seems like earth shattering emotional problems, life throws you a curve ball to put everything back in perspective.

That happened yesterday. I was taking my little guy on a routine trip to my parents house before heading to work. It was so routine that in order to leave early enough to miss rush hour traffic I postponed combing my mad jungle mane and just threw a sweat shirt over my pyjamas.

We were three quarters of the way there when the truck driver in front of me was swerving and changing lanes without looking in his blind spot. He almost caused one collision but the guy in the other lane was quick enough to escape. 3 minutes later he does it again, this time the black car in the next lane (in his blind spot again) didnt escape. 50 yards away from us the black car and tractor trailer truck crash! The black car swerves out of control makes a full circle, in the process hitting another SUV and truck before eventually getting to the shoulder. In the mean time I slam the brakes and instinctively look in the rearview mirror and helplessly scream as another tractor trailer truck crashes into the back of my car. I don't even remember how I got from the inner lane to the shoulder but thanks to adrenaline I did. Got out of the car, opened my son's door and got him out of his car seat. There was smoke and crashing noises everywhere, all I could do was hold on to my little boy and hope that nothing near us exploded. When the crashing stopped and people started getting out of their cars I got closer to my car and saw that in addition to other damages, my rear window was completely shattered and panicked because my son was in the back seat. Frantically I check him all over and even got the paramedics to look at him but it was a miracle that my little boy was completely unscathed.

When I think about it, things could have been so much worse. The trucker who hit me braked so hard that his tire wore out till only the metal wheel (core) was left. I really do believe he saved our life. How I changed 2 lanes to get to the shoulder is another miracle...I dont know how it happened amidst all the crashes in all the lanes. There were 6 trucks and 3 cars involved in the accident on I-95 southbound at 7.36am yesterday and not a single person was hurt. If thats not enough to give perspective to life I dont know what is.

This morning as I drank my tea and ate the carrot cake I baked a couple of days ago I couldn't help but reflect on God's wonderful blessing in saving my baby angel's life.

Here's the recipe of the cake I had for breakfast. I really do hope you enjoy this cake, it has carrots and no butter so its practically health food!

Carrot cake
(Adapted from David Lebovitz)

4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
Generous pinches of cloves and nutmeg
1 tsp of salt
4 cups of grated carrots (loosely packed)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 9X13 inch or two 8- or 9-inch cake pans.

Sift together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat the eggs until they are pale and frothy in a large bowl with a handheld mixer. Drizzle in the oil and vanilla.

Add flour mixture to the eggs and mix until just combined.

Fold in carrots, raisins and nuts into the batter. Then pour the batter into your choice of cake pan. Bake 30-35 minutes for 2X 8in/9in pans or 55 minutes for the 9X13 inch pan or until the surface springs back when gently touched. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate dipped strawberries on Valentines day!

I'd always been a jock growing up. Maybe it was my testosterone driven cousins constantly challenging me or maybe it was my sport junkie dad. Either way I'd always be out on the ground playing badminton, throwball, volleyball or soccer. So really no one would guess that there was a helplessly feminine romantic side. I'd eagerly wait for Valentine's day, hoping each year would be the lucky one that I'd magically be bestowed a Valentine. A secret (obviously the most romantic kind) Valentine who would surprise me with a homemade card, a romantic poem and maybe even a rose. But of course high school came and went, its been more than a decade and damn it secret Valentine! Where are you??

At least I'll always have my faithful friend Ghirardelli and... strawberries. Crackly, bittersweet chocolate, covering sweet, tart , juicy strawberries. It really is the perfect drown-your-sorrow-while-waiting-for-that-bloody-secret-valentine food! ;)

You will need:

1 bar of your favorite chocolate (for me thats 60% Ghirardelli)
1lb The most perfect strawberries you can fine. I try to look for deep dark red ones with as minimal a white patch under the green tops.

Break the chocolate bar into pieces and microwave in 30 second intervals till completely melted. Hold strawberries by their green tops, dip into molten chocolate and twirl till completely coated. Place on foil/ parchment wrapped cookie sheet or tray. Once most of the strawberries are coated in chocolate (I usually have a couple leftover, which my little munchkin will happily nibble). Place cookie sheet/tray in fridge for about 5 mins! Woe-be-gone!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lotsa yummies for a new year!

Phew! I'm back! Happy New Year everybody! Sorry about being away for so long-- my camera never recovered from the shaking-toddler syndrome and had to be put to rest (and replaced by a shiny new one). But instead of lame excuses I'm going to make it up to you. I'm going to catch you up with everything thats been going around here since October, yep, 4 whole months of catch up. Ready? Here goes...

So October was my munchkin's bday month and since his birthday was on a weekday just before the start of the real COLD cold, we stretched out the celebration through the entire week. He had 3 cakes only one of which (thank goodness!) came out of our home kitchen. Given his current obsession with Toy Story and the release of the 3rd sequel, I thought I'd be clever (Toy Story 3 and its the little guys 3rd birthday, get it? my creativity is shocking at times ;) )Thanksgiving was in November and this is usually spent between the two homes-- my parents and in-laws. Lucky for me though this year I didnt have to make the turkey for either homes. I did however make this outrageous cheesecake. Deep breath. A kahlua- chocolate ganache cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust. It was delicious! I don't know what Deb was talking about but I had no trouble whatsoever polishing off a huge honking slice. But maybe skipping the turkey completely helped a little (was only able to get pics of this one on my phone and am too lazy to upload pictures from two devices in one day).

December was of course Christmas month. Aside from the constant sickness in our home, I made my directoral debut with a nativity skit in church, including a special appearance as the camel. My little Joseph had to be taken to the doctor for an emergency visit (ear infection) on the day of so we had to borrow a substitute for the next class. Its a blurry picture for a reason but if you look real close there is a camel head somewhere!

And then there was my cousin who notified us just 4 weeks before his December wedding (why in the world would you get married in winter!!) in CANADA! But the wedding was great and turns out said cousin is actually pretty connected-- we got to rub shoulders with Roger Mooking of Cooking Channel's Everyday Exotic.

Back to Christmas. The general season was fun with a boat load of parties, an award for (second) best dessert at the office party (my three layer peppermint-chocolate cheesecake lost to green rice krispie treats, go figure!!), and some fun times with family and friends (again pics on phone, sorry!).

New Years eve was real quiet with hubby grilling us a surf and turf dinner of herbed lamb chops and crabcakes accompanied by a gorgeous bottle of bubbly while the little guy feasted on Toy Story mac and cheese and sprite. For dessert, I had to, had to, HAD to try Georgetown cupcake's peppermint-white chocolate and strawberry champagne cupcakes so I went to their Bethesda location on New Years eve and came back with a dozen and a half. You know, half for the eve and a dozen for New Years day when we had to spend time with family. Those cupcakes btw were divine! 4 cupcakes later, the frosting got to be a bit too much, but I think those of you with normal appetites, ie who can stop at one, will be fine-- the cake to frosting ratio is cupcake perfect (1:1) and completely yummy.

How can you not start a new year with a breakfast of champions. The grown ups had french toast made with fresh brioche while the little man feasted (read: barely nibbled on) blueberry waffles. I'll give you recipes for these real soon too, they were sooo good.

January is almost over and I'm such a slacker but I promise you with many many new recipes that are itching to be seen! Here's wishing you a wonderful and prosperous 2011!