Mini Summer Tarts

My sister and I were going to our cousin’s house for dinner, and wanted to quickly whip up something for dessert. We had leftover pie crust in the fridge, and some ripe peaches, and voilà: mini tarts!
We wanted to use a spice to brighten the flavor, and we thought of cinnamon (as it is a go to in western desserts), but ended up using cardamom instead (the perfect choice, as we would later realize!). Cardamom is used to flavor many summer desserts in India, like aamras (made from mangoes) and kheer. It has cooling properties, making it perfect for hot summers, and is even used in ayurveda as an antidepressant!
These tarts are perfect with a glass of cold milk, and make for a light, fruity summer breakfast.

All you need for these easy mini tarts is:
1. Store bought pie crust
2. Peaches and blueberries
3. Sugar
4. Butter
5. Ground cardamom seeds

First, we cooked the peaches and blueberries in butter in a pan on medium heat and added sugar and cardamom. We cooked these until they were soft and most of the liquid had evaporated (so that the tarts wouldn’t have soggy bottoms!).
We greased a muffin tin with butter, lined it with circles of the dough (which had been rolled out a little more, to about 1/4″ thickness after we took it out from the packet), and put in the peach and blueberry filling.
We used 2 peaches and a fistful of blueberries for 5 tarts.
(Yes, quite an irregular number, but we were working with leftovers!)

 

Sautéed Vegetables with Mustard Seeds

Yesterday morning my sister and I were trying to think of what to take for lunch, something that would be light, green and filling.
So while my sister showered, I quickly satuéed broccoli, eggplant chunks and mushrooms with mustard seeds and garlic (adding the garlic after the mustard seeds have *popped* in the oil, and waiting until the garlic was a very light brown). I then squeezed some lemon on the veggies and packed them with leftover fried rice.
And I can say that it was a hit! 😉

 

Baingan Bhaaja (Mustardy Pan-Fried Eggplant)

This is a dish that is very close to my heart, and a childhood and family favorite. This mustardy recipe from Bengal is a healthy, fun and delicious way to eat eggplant. Mustard oil is a must – it’s what gives the eggplant the taste that makes this dish what it is!
These can be served as a side to a meal, or as a yummy snack.

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All you need is:
Turmeric
Salt
Mustard Oil
1 Large Eggplant
Chaat Masala (optional)

Cut the eggplant into about 1/4 inch thick slices. Rub turmeric on both sides of each slice; the amount should be just enough to cover the whole slice in a very thin layer.
Heat mustard oil in a pan. When hot pan fry eggplant slices until brown on one side, then flip and brown other side.
Put the fried slices on a bed of paper towels to absorb the extra oil. Sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt, and chaat masala if you want that extra *zing*.
Serve!

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Hummingbird Cake!

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Hello!
A few days ago, I made a southern classic: the hummingbird cake. I used the southern living recipe, and the cake turned out to be absolutely delicious. The recipe is incredibly simple and the cake, though beautiful and delectable, does not take much effort to make at all!
Here’s a link to the recipe (the list of ingredients contains a link to the cream cheese frosting) :
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/hummingbird-cake-0
Note: I added a little extra syrup from the pineapple, so my cake was a bit more sticky. I also reduced the sugar in the frosting (I might have used about 4 or 5 ounces less than the original), but the cake and frosting together were still perfectly sweet. In fact, if I had used the original, I would have over-sweetened.

 

Chocolate Frosting Cookies – Almonds and Orange

Do you have leftover frosting you don’t know what to do with? Bake some delicious cookies! This is a very simple recipe that makes about 18 medium sized cookies.

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cup chocolate frosting (melted)
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Method:
Beat the eggs until fluffy. Sift flour and mix with the baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the frosting. Mix well. Now add the almonds and zest and mix again. Roll medium sized balls of the dough, flatten and place on parchment paper covered baking tray. You can place a few almonds as decoration on top of the cookies. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Dust with icing sugar as preferred.

 

 

Mexican Wedding Cakes/ Almond Cookies

This amazing recipe comes from Judy Bayer, my mom’s friend. These cookies are seriously addicting, try one and you won’t stop!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (softened)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar + 1 cup for rolling cookies in after the are baked
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped almonds

Method:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together till fluffy. Add the vanilla and flour and mix well. Now add the nuts and mix again.
Use your hands to make small balls of dough, flatten and then make the shapes you want. My sister and I made the traditional crescents that my mom’s friend recommended and also stars, hearts and plain round cookies.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack for 10 minutes and then roll in the confectioner’s sugar. We rolled the cookies in sugar twice or thrice and then tapped them on the side of the bowl to remove extra sugar, but you can change this according to your preference.
Enjoy!

Simple Bruschetta

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This is a simple and delicious breakfast or appetizer dish that you can whip up in seconds!
This recipe makes about 4 pieces
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/3 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 clove of garlic – peeled
Fresh Mozzarella (Bocconcini)
Oregano Seasoning
Salt to taste
4 slices of baguette (cut diagonally)

Keep baguette slices to toast in the oven or put a bit later into the the toaster.
Mix all the other ingredients except for the garlic in a bowl. I haven’t specified the measurement for the mozzarella and oregano as everyone likes different quantities of cheese and seasoning in the mix, so you can add these to taste.
When the bread is toasted, rub the clove of garlic on the slices. Top with the mix and serve!

Banana Pancakes

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These pancakes turned out to be heavenly, and I’m definitely going to make them again sometime soon! They were fluffy, soft, delicious and tasted absolutely perfect with maple syrup. This recipe is very simple and didn’t take me much time or effort either. These are also great because you can make them without having to buy buttermilk!
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 tsp sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup yogurt + 1/3 cup milk (mixed)
1 oz melted butter
1 overripe banana – mashed
First, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat the eggs, sugar and yogurt and milk mixture in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients and to the wet ones and then fold in the mashed banana. Mix till the mixture is smooth (It might not be totally smooth but a few banana lumps won’t matter as long as they are not too big). Now stir in the melted butter.
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In a heated non-stick frying pan (you don’t need to add butter to the pan), add spoonfuls of the batter till you get the size you want (turn the gas mark to 4 or 5 now – medium heat).
Add the batter in the middle of the pancake as it spreads, and do not spread the batter with your spatula so that the batter gives a natural sponginess and thickness to the pancake.
Flip the pancake when you see the sides separating a bit, and do not worry if the batter splatters a bit.
Flip again when the pancake rises a bit and bottom is brown and cooked. Keep flipping and cooking till both sides are firm to press and a nice brown color. Serve hot with maple syrup!
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Soy Sauce-Ginger Vegetables and Tofu

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This recipe was born out of an impromptu idea that my sister and I came up with one day when we were alone at home for lunch. We both wanted to eat something fresh, but quick and easy to make, and we came up with this!
It’s spicy, delicious and simple and it’s one of my favorite things to make.
What you’ll need:
3-4 broccolini florets (I like more so I usually take 4)
3/4 cup of chopped beans
1 carrot
1 pack firm tofu (397 g)
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar (or another kind of white vinegar)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp crushed ginger
3.5 tsp sugar
1 dried red chilli
High Heat sunflower oil
Note: Serve this dish with sticky rice because the sauce isn’t very thick and sticky rice helps gather the flavor. You could also add cornflour to the sauce to thicken it.
First, chop the vegetables. I usually cut the broccolini into big chunks, the carrot into strips and I slant cut the beans. This time, I even used the broccolini stalks, and cut them into strips. Then, cut the tofu width wise into about 1/3″ thick rectangular pieces and then cut each rectangular piece into a square. Open the red chilli with a knife to remove the seeds, then chop or crush into small pieces.

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For the sauce, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and crushed ginger in a bowl.
In a non-stick frying pan, heat about 1 tbsp of oil and fry the tofu till brown on one side, then flip and fry on the other side. When the tofu pieces are golden brown on both sides, keep the pieces aside on a plate.

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Then heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a non-stick wok, and on high heat, add the red chilli and the vegetables, and add salt to taste (keep in mind that soy sauce is salty as well). Sautee the vegetables till you are satisfied with how crunchy they are. I like them to be crunchy and raw so I do not cook them for very long (about 7-8 minutes).

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Then add the tofu and the sauce and heat for about 3-4 minutes.

Serve hot with sticky rice!
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Pizzas!

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Pizza
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Tomato basil – uncooked

 

As you may have seen, I am obsessed with everything pizza! This recipe is a hit in my family and I have perfected it by making it again and again. It tastes amazing because all the components are made fresh- The pizza base (made from a the perfect Jamie Oliver recipe), the sauce and all the veggies 🙂

You can make the dough and sauce earlier because then it is you just have to throw everything on and put it in the oven.

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Risen dough.

I use half of Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe, (above) which serves 4. (Though I use fresh yeast instead, it gives the dough a lovely flavour)

For the sauce you need:

500g tomatoes, boiled, skinned and chopped

1 small onion

3 teaspoons chopped garlic

Olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

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Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil till slightly brown. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook on a low heat till thick. Keep to cool. When the sauce has cooled, puree in a food processor to a paste and add the basil leaves to your liking.

When you make the pizzas, roll out the dough thinly (make sure it is thin, as it will rise) on a baking plate ( pre-greased with olive oil)  then spread the sauce and add the toppings. In the end top with mozzarella (more if you want it cheesy and less if you don’t).

For the topping you can use anything- chicken, vegetables etc. And of course the favourites- olives and jalapenos.

I used only vegetables as no one in my family likes to eat non-veg. So I used red, yellow and green bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, paneer cheese (An Indian cheese which tastes amazing on pizza!). The herbs I used were oregano and basil. And of course, all the pizzas were topped with melty mozzarella cheese (YUMMM)

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All ingredients.

I made 3 types of pizzas (and dough enough for 1 more was left over) :

1. Veg Extravaganza

The one with green bell pepper, onions, olives and jalapenos sprinkled with oregano.

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Uncooked
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Cooked

2. Classic tomato basil

The one with tomato, basil.

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Uncooked
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Cooked

3. Indian Twist

The one with green bell peppers, red and yellow bell peppers, crumbled paneer {which I sprinkled with vinegar (from the jalapenos)}[If you don’t get paneer, you can use feta cheese too] , onions, olives and jalapenos and sprinkled with a spice mix called baharat (It had different herbs like thyme, oregano, etc.).

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Uncooked.

Bake in the oven till cheese is brown and dough is slightly crispy.