Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blogging Survey

Are you one of those Internet savy people that likes to use email, social networking sites, read blogs etc? Then I would love to hear your opinions in preparation for the launch of my new blog. Click here to take my survey.

10 Sept Update:  The survey is now closed.  Thanks to all those who participated.  I got some useful information out of it which will be used in a new blog I am currently working on.  More details soon.




Today she's five!

I reckon there's something about the age 5 that seems especially significant. My daughter is moving further away from being a toddler to becoming a young girl who's imaginative, adventerous and caring! I think that change is reflected by how much she has gotten into the whole birthday experience this year. Feeling very excited in the lead up, for the first time getting to have a birthday party at home (more posts to come on organising the party), anticipating presents and celebrating with a much wider group of people (friends, family, school friends etc).


Happy 5th Birthday Kalyani!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hummus

My final post for the blogging marathon I have participating in this past week. The recipe I have chosen came about because I wanted to do a dip and salad plate for the kids at my daughter's 5th birthday party. Unlike many children's birthday parties, I wanted to host a non-junk food party. Novel idea! Mainly because I wanted my kids to be eating "proper" food and not fill up on chips and lollies and because I believe that healthy food actually tastes better than junk food. Photos and more about the birthday party coming in another post.

So originally I was going to buy hummus dip (which my kids love) and then because of the BM theme, Cooking from Scratch, I decided to make it myself. So glad I did because it was very easy to make and tasted great!


Hummus

Ingredients
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tahini*
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
salt to taste
spices optional (I added 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp ground chilli, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon)

* Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds.

To Make
1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add more water if needed. Season to taste.

Comments
This recipe makes quite a large amount so for home use the quantity could be halved. Very yummy on bread or crackers as well! Lasts for about a week in the fridge.

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao
Day 4- Egg Halwa
Day 5- Simple Pizza Dough
Day 6- Homemade Wheat Tortillas

I have just put up a short survey about internet use and blogging.  Would love people to share their views.  Click here to take survey  Thanks so much!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Home made Wheat Tortillas

Day 6 of the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and continuing on the theme of Cooking from Scratch I decided to have a go at making tortillas. Mainly because I had a pack in the cupboard and was wondering how easy it would be to make them at home instead. Amongst other things the store bought tortillas contained mineral salts, colour, preservatives and food acid. Freshly made tortillas would have to be healthier for my family.

Traditionally tortillas are an unleavened flat bread made with a corn (maize) flour called masa harina. Unfortunately masa harina is hard to obtain here and commercially made tortillas usually consist of wheat flour rather than corn.

Personally I don't cook South American food much at all. Maybe because the flavours and ingredients are not very well known here in Australia yet. But I do use the breads and we have them with my own bean/ vegie dishes I come up with them. So to go with these tortillas I cooked a dish with crushed garlic, chopped onion, cumin seeds, kidney beans, tomatoes, spices, grated carrot and zucchini and topped with grated cheese of course.


Wheat Tortillas

Ingredients
250g bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp corn oil (I subsituted with olive oil)
120mL warm water

To Make
1. Combine flour and salt. Slowly stir in oil, then add warm water. Add more water if dough is too dry.
2. Knead for 5 minutes. Divide into 8 equal portions.
3. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out to form 20cm tortillas.
5. Place first tortilla on heated frying pan and cook for less than 1 minute per side, or until brown spots appear.
6. Repeat with remaining dough. Stack tortillas and keep warm.

Comments
Ok bread making is not my forte. Saying that these tortillas turned out really soft and hubby suggested that is how I should get my parathas to turn out. IE he liked them a lot. So making tortillas from scratch is very simple. This one was a hit with my family!

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao
Day 4- Egg Halwa
Day 5- Simple Pizza Dough

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Simple Pizza Dough

Day 5 of the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and I'm onto the theme Cooking from Scratch. Pizza dough is something I've been making from scratch for my family for years because it is so easy to make and much healthier than ready made pizza dough. My kids also like helping out by spreading the toppings (usually chopped capisicum, mushrooms, zucchini, bacon and grated cheese for us) over the pizzas. Most of the time I use tomato paste for the base but you can easily make your own pizza sauce by cooking chopped onions, crushed garlic and chopped tomatoes together.

Now days I make it in a bread maker which does all the kneading for me (love shortcuts!) but I use to make it without one. Make sure you allow time for the dough to rise, anything from 1 to 3 hours depending on how warm the day is. This quantity makes enough for me to roll out 2 thin crusted pizzas or 1 thick crust pizza.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups plain white flour
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp dry yeast

To Make
1. Mix dry ingredients including the yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
2. Add the warm water. Mix well to form a smooth dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3. Cover dough and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
4. Turn onto a board. Knock down and knead for 1 minute.
5. Roll dough out to fit onto a greased tray.
6. Spread dough with preferred toppings. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes depending on thickness of crust.


Toppings: sliced tomato, olives, feta cheese, basil leaves

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao
Day 4- Egg Halwa

Friday, August 26, 2011

Egg Halwa

Day 4 of the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and my final recipe for the theme Nawab Khana. Nawab Khana refers to a rich and elaborate traditional Indian cuisine. The last three days I'll be posting on the theme Cooking from Scratch.

As I decided to do all my dishes for friends in the form of a dinner party I had to choose a dessert of course. Funny enough neither myself or my husband had tasted egg halwa before. But with lots of sugar, light fluffy eggs and heaps of flaked almonds and pistachios it was delicious.


Egg Halwa

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground saffron
1/4 cup ghee
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tblsp raisins
few drops vanilla essence
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/2 cup pistachios

To Make
1. Whisk the eggs for about 10 minutes until frothy. The mixture slightly thickens and becomes a lighter colour. Add the sugar and saffron and whisk for a further 5 minutes.


2. Heat the ghee and fry the cardamom for 1 minute then remove from heat. Add eggs and raisins and cook, stirring gently, until ghee rises to the top. Stir in the vanilla essence.


3. Pour into a greased baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts and allow to cool.

from the The Best 1000 Indian Recipes 2001 Strathearn Publishing.

Comments
This dish produced some debate at the dinner table over whether it was sweet enough. Most of us thought it had enough sugar in it while one sweet toothed friend would have liked more. Saying that though, she was the one who went back for several servings. A very moorish dessert! Next time I think I would like to try one of the other recipes I have seen for this dish.

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Channa Dal Pulao (Split Peas and Rice)

Day 3 of the cooking blogging marathon I am participating in this week. My theme for the first part of it is Nawab Khana, referring to an elaborate and rich Indian cuisine.

This dish, Channa Dal Pulao, would have to be my favourite out of the dishes I've cooked for my Nawab Khana dinner party. (I invited a small group of friends around to taste and comment on my cooking.) The taste of the tangy, salty dal mixed through a good basmati rice with fresh coriander and mint. Yum!


Channa Dal Pulao

Ingredients
1/2 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into fine rings
2 tsp peeled, finely grated ginger
1 clove finely crushed garlic
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
salt
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2-4 fresh green chillies, finely chopped (I omitted these)
2 tsp garam masala

To Make
1. Soak the channa dal in enough water to cover it for 1 1/2 hours.
2. Put the dal and its soaking liquid into a pan. Add 1/4 tsp of the tumeric and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until its tender but the grains are still whole.
* Alternatively I cooked the dal in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes on low heat.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot add the onions and fry until a rich reddish brown colour and crisp. Drain onto absorbent paper.
4. Put the ginger and garlic into the same pan and fry until light brown. Add the remaining tumeric and 1 tbsp of the yoghurt. Stir and fry until most of the liquid in the yoghurt evaporates and the remaining particles are lightly browned. Add the remaining yoghurt 1 tbsp at a time and cook in the same way.


5. Then add the drained dal, salt and chilli powder. Stir for 1 minute.


6. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil, add the washed rice and salt to taste. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes or until the rice is 3/4 cooked.
7. Drain the rice and add half of it to an oven proof dish. Cover the rice with the cooked dal and then top with the remaining rice. Spread the ghee and the cooked onions over the rice.
8. Sprinkle the lemon juice, milk, fresh coriander, mint, green chillies and garam masala over the top. Cover tightly and place in an oven for 30 minutes at 180C.
9. Stir gently to mix before serving.

Adapted from A Taste of India Madhur Jaffrey 1987 Pan Books.

Comments
Another time consuming dish but well worth it! I would definitely cook this one again for a special occasion. My dinner guests liked it too and commented on how flavoursome the dal was in the rice.

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

See what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shami Kebabs (Minced Lamb Patties)

Day 2 of this week's blogging marathon and the second dish I chose as part of my Nawab Khana menu was a kebab. What an amazing creation! Ground meat and dal cooked with spices, ground again, more flavours added and then fried. I served mine with mint-coriander chutney.

I know not a lot of photos of this dish especially considering that it took me such a long time to prepare. In the end my dinner guests were waiting and I was hurriedly trying to get them into the pan to fry.

Shami Kebabs

Ingredients
1/3 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
450g minced lean lamb
10 whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 3/4 in/2 cm cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
salt
1 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg
2 tbsp very finely chopped onion
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tsp very finely chopped hot green chilli.
vegetable oil

To Make
1. Soak the dal in 1 cup of water for 2 hours.
2. Put the dal, the water it was soaking in and the minced lamb into a heavy based pan.
3. Add the cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to very low and simmer gently for 1 hour.
4. Remove the lid and boil off any water, stirring constantly. The meat must be very dry.
5. Turn off the heat and allow the meat to cool.
6. Grind the meat in a food processor until it becomes a fine paste. No whole spices should be visible. Mix in the ginger and egg.

7. Put the contents from the food processor into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
8. Mix together the chopped onion, mint and green chillies.
9. Form smooth balls out of the meat paste. Take one ball at a time and make a deep depression in it with your thumb. Stuff a portion of the onion mint mixture into it and cover. Flatten the ball into a small patty.
10. Pour enough oil into a pan to cover the bottom to a depth of 1/2 cm and heat. Fry the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are slightly crisp and a medium brown colour.
11. Drain them on absorbent paper and serve.

from A Taste of India Madhur Jaffrey 1987 Pan Books.

Comments
Apparently hubby said I got the texture and flavour fairly right with these kebabs- slight mint taste, soft and crumbly. But thank goodness he also said he's not a huge fan of kebabs. They are so much work! For me personally I prefer cooking and eating dishes that have more vegetables in them.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking here.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lamb Korma

Yeah my first post for this week's blogging marathon which I am joining in with over at the Spice Your Life blog. One post each day on a different dish for a week. I have to admit that I am a little bit nervous because this is my first time contributing to an Indian cooking theme and it was my first time cooking these dishes.

Saying that I did the crazy thing of cooking 5 dishes at once and inviting a few friends over for dinner to taste and comment on my cooking. Got to say after all the work of preparing was over, it was a fun evening and so lovely eating yummy food with good friends. Everybody thought the food tasted great and this dish below especially impressed my husband which makes all the effort (and days of dishes afterwards) worth while. :)

The dinner party idea was also in the spirit of the theme I'm doing Nawab Khana. Nawab refers to a title given to Muslim rulers in the princely states of India during the Mughal empire in the 17th century and then under British rule in the 18th century. The elaborate Nawab cuisine included dishes such as kebabs, kormas, biryani, kalia, nahari-kulchas, pulao, sheermal, rotis and parathas and ingredients such as mutton, paneer and rich spices like cardamom and saffron. Very delicious food!

Lamb Korma

Ingredients

1 onion chopped
2.5cm/1 inch ginger root
2 large cloves garlic
2 green chillis
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp saffron threads
3 tblsp hot milk
3 tblsp oil
1.5kg lamb cubed (I used 1.2kg lamb forequarter chops halved)
2/3 cup natural yoghurt
1/4 cup cashew nuts
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander

To Make
1. Puree half the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies to a fine paste. Add the ground spices and blend together.
2. Soak the saffron in hot milk for 15 minutes.
3. Heat the oil and fry the remaining onion until browned. Add the spice mixture and fry until the oil appears on the surface.
4. Stir in the meat, season with salt and brown on all sides.
5. Mix together the milk and yoghurt and stir into the pan with the nuts and water.
6. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour until the meat is tender.
Or as I did cook for 12 minutes in the pressure cooker on medium heat. The meat just falls off the bone- delicious!
7. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Adapted from The Best 1000 Indian Recipes 2001 Strathearn Publishing.

Comments
Everyone loved this dish and while I would have preferred it less spicy others thought the chilli factor was just right. It would have to be hubby's favourite dish of the night and so even though it was a bit of work to prepare I would cook it again for a special occasion.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

One Tired Mother!!

I love my boys to bits but this past week (hmm more like months!) has been challenging. Dhiraj at 6 1/2 months has been waking frequently throughout the night. Also Shaan at 2 still gets out of bed 2 to 3 times a night. The crazy thing is I KNOW all the stuff I am MEANT to be doing to have kids that sleep through the night. My first born was sleeping 10 hours a night without a feed from 6 months. WHAT?? Now if I get 4 hours sleep in a row at the moment I feel like I have won Lotto!

What I have learnt though through the last few years is that its NORMAL for some babies to wake more frequently than others and be fed at night. I have also learnt that sometimes we need to take shortcuts to survive. No matter how interrupted my sleep is I still have to get up the next day albeit with some grumpiness and look after my 3 children.

I just want the right to say that I am TIRED!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing Solids

I am finally getting into the routine of feeding Dhiraj solids. He's now having 3 serves a day of either cooked and pureed vegetables or fruit with rice cereal. So far he's tried apple, pear, carrot, pumpkin and mashed avocado (uncooked).