October 30, 2012

Halloween Special - Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Halloween is here and children are ready with their costumes ready to knock on all the neighborhood doors for their trick or treat. Most of the homes have either a pumpkin pie, soups and other interesting stuff brewing in their kitchens. Mine had a heart warming Pumpkin and Carrot soup. The weather outside is cold and windy with occasional showers. Thanks to the effect of the cyclone that has hit most places. I definitely needed something to cheer myself up and this soup really played its part well. I discovered this soup while in Australia and after six long years, found the recipe that matched the Aussie taste. This is definitely a keeper.

You will need :
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Onion, finely chopped - 1
Garlic cloves, crushed - 6
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Freshly grated nutmeg – ½ tsp
Ripe pumpkin, diced – 500 gms
Potato, diced – 250 gms
Carrot diced - 150
Chicken stock or vegetable stock – 1 litre
Cream – ½ cup
Celery pureed – ¼ cup or to taste
Salt and Pepper – to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion, garlic and sauté until softened but not colored.
Add the masalas and cook until the raw smell disappears.
Add pumpkin, potato, carrot and stock and bring to the boil.
Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, then blend and strain to get a smooth puree.
Add the salt, pepper and the celery puree.
Stir through cream and serve hot.

October 28, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Oreo Tart

Yet another chocolate dessert visits my kitchen today! There is so much happiness while making a rich decadent chocolate dessert and even better when you are surrounded by a bunch of chocoholics who makes cooking for them such a pleasure. After a heavy lunch of Biriyani, what better to cleanse that palate than a smooth chocolate tart that lifts your spirit to another level.

This tart is every chocoholics dream fulfilled with a crunchy layer of Oreo base, a smooth velvety truffle center and a satiny chocolate glaze to finish it off. I have seen a similar recipe in a lot of places online but this is my first time making it and not going to be the last time for a long time. This is the perfect dessert to finish off that valentine evening or even a normal quiet dinner with your loved ones. My friends totally enjoyed this and I am sure you will too. I am sorry I could not take a picture of the sliced tart itself as I wanted to save it for when I serve my guests but rest assured, this will not disappoint that chocolate lover you are inviting soon.  
You will need:
Oreo biscuits powdered in your blender - 2 cups
Melted Butter - 1 cup or slightly less
Dark Chocolate chopped - 255 gms
Fresh Cream - 11/4 cup
Vanilla essence - 2 tsps
Eggs - 2
Salt - a pinch
Roasted chopped almonds - 1/2 cup (optional)

For the glaze:
Chopped chocolate - 50 gms
Fresh Cream - 3 tbsp
Corn Syrup - 1 tsp
Warm water - 1 tsp
First make the tart by mixing together the powdered oreo cookies and the melted butter.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart tin and bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
Leave it to cool for about 20 minutes as you want it to firm up as it cools.

Now make the truffle filling.
This process is like making your Chocolate Ganache.
Boil the cream and pour onto the chopped chocolate.
Stir it well until all the chocolate has melted and combined well with the cream.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg,salt and the essence.
Add to the cooled chocolate mixture stirring well.
Pour into the oreo tart base and bake for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely for about an hour or so.
Once it is completely cooled, prepare the glaze by boiling the cream and adding to the chopped chocolate.
Stir in the corn syrup and warm water. Pour on top of the baked chocolate and allow to cool in the refrigerator before serving.

October 25, 2012

Golden Fish Tart

I have had the most relaxing break but I definitely missed blogging. Food blogging isn't a very rewarding hobby but it brings me loads of satisfaction just to keep posting new recipes. I know for a fact that this blog and many others has inspired many people who do not cook to start cooking and they are all enjoying it too. There are so many happy souls in many homes now. Thanks to this wonderful love of food that brings together so many people. Cooking for someone who loves to eat is the most rewarding feeling for me and therefore doesn't stop me from trying new recipes and experimenting on new flavours as long as I have people to enjoy it. I am glad I have a little toddler growing up who loves to experiment on new flavours too just like his family. It is definitely a motivation to keep cooking, keep experimenting and make anyone who enters my home a happy soul. I have been surrounded by a whole lot of people who love food and love to cook the last one month. I have been learning so many new recipes in other kitchens and loving every bit of it. 

After a wonderful guest post by Nisha Thomas of Look who is cooking too, I am back with another delish seafood dish. This dish is inspired by my cousin sister, Sareeka, who made something very similar and ever since,  this has been visiting my kitchen quite often. It is a very wholesome fish tart with flavours that marry so well with each other. Without much ado, here is the recipe to a lovely and refreshing Golden Fish Tart. 
You will need:
8 inch Short crust Tart Shell - 1 (Recipe adapted from here)
Cooked and Flaked Fish (I used Seer Fish) - 500 gms (Cook it in plain water with some ginger and chilies)
Big onion chopped - 1
Capsicum chopped - 1
Ginger chopped - 1 inch
Green Chilies chopped - 2
Cream - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Celery chopped - a few
Coriander Chopped - a few
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Italian Seasoning - to taste
Egg Whites - 4
Mayonnaise - 3 tbsp

For the Tart:
Flour - 200 gms
Chilled Butter cut into cubes - 100 gms
Baking Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Cold water - 3 tbsp 
To make the tart:
Mix the flour, salt and the baking powder.
Rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips or pulse it in the food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water until the dough is pliable and wrap it in a cling film.
Keep it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Roll out the dough to fit the tart, cover it with a foil and fill it with baking beans.
Put it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the tart is golden. This process is called Blind Baking. 
To make the filling:
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the green chilies, ginger and onions until the onions are transparent.
Add the flaked cooked fish, chopped capsicum and sauté for some more time.
Add the seasoning, coriander and celery. Remove from flame.
Add the cream to bring it all together.

To make the golden topping:
Whip the egg whites until stiff.
Add the mayonnaise and fold it gently until well combined.
Add seasoning of your choice to this if required.

Assemble and Bake:
Fill the precooked tart shell with the fish filling and top it with the egg white mixture.
Bake in the pre heated oven for 15 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.
Serve hot.

October 23, 2012

Tamil Nadu style Prawn Thokku/ Roast - A guest post by Nisha Thomas!

I can't help feeling so overwhelmed at the fact that The Captain's Kitchenette is having its very first ever guest post and that too by that person from whom I was inspired to start blogging in the first place. Nisha Thomas! I stumbled across her blog through my younger sister, Rachel, who is our common connection and then later came to know that she is cousin of my close buddy from college with whom I shared the same room and the same bench for three years, Indhu Thomas. It sure is a small world! We have been sharing a nice bond ever since. Nisha's blog Look Who's Cooking Too is one my favorite blogs and a huge inspiration for me like it is for many others. Her style of food photography and choice of recipes are very close to my heart and therefore it is such an honor to have her as my guest this month. A very warm welcome to The Captain's Kitchenette Nisha :) ! Handing over to you now.
There are so many wonderful food blogs out there, that I find it difficult to browse through all the yummy recipes they post. I still manage to run through a few once in a while, and eventually end up with tonnes of recipes bookmarked. Serah's beautiful blog, The Captains Kitchenette, certainly falls into this category and its her simple, easy-to-follow recipes that makes me a fan. I landed up on her blog after her sister (we were hostel mates in Chennai) posted a link to a recipe on FB. I was immediately hooked. We then exchanged a couple of emails, became friends on FB and the rest is history. She's now more of a friend than a random food blogger and I hope some day I get to meet her and her lovely family she cooks for. I also have to appreciate her for taking time to cook, photograph and blog in spite of having a toddler to tend to. Like I was telling her the other day, I complain if I have to continuously cook for a week ;)

Since Serah was taking some time off to tend to other commitments, she asked me if I could do a guest post for her blog and I truly obliged. She gave me full leverage on what I could whip up and since she said she preferred sea food, I thought I'd make this prawn thokku for her. I came across the recipe on one of my recipe search sessions on the internet and immediately wrote it down (yes believe it or not, I actually wrote it down). Completely forgot to bookmark the page and so apologies to the person who originally posted it. I did try searching for it again, but since this was written down ages back, I really had no luck.
Thokku, loosely translated means paste, and I presume this is more of a Tamil Nadu preparation as opposed to the mallu (Kerala) way of making prawn roast. The use of fennel seeds make this dish quite unique, and of course something with grated coconut can never go wrong. This is a favourite prawn recipe of ours and has made its appearance on quite a few occasions. Although it goes well with some warm rice, dal and pappad, my favourite way to have it is as a starter with some chilled beer. Just thread it onto small skewers, sprinkle the masala on top, and serve. Its a crowd pleaser, trust me!

So without wasting your time any further, here is the recipe.

You will need:
Prawns- 250 gms
Shallots/ small onions- 1/2 cup, roughly chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, peeled and chopped
Green chillies- 2, chopped (add more for more heat)
Ginger- 1 1/2 inch piece, peeled and chopped
Tomato- 1 big, roughly sliced
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp
Grated coconut- 1 1/2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch piece
Cloves- 4
Curry leaves- 2 to 3 sprigs (the more the better)
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilly powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Water- 1/2 cup
Oil- 4 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Coconut oil- 1 tsp (optional)
Lemon/ lime juice- approx. 1 tsp
Coriander leaves- to garnish
De-vein, wash the prawns, dab it dry with kitchen towels and keep aside.
Place a frying pan over low-medium heat and add around 1 tbsp of oil.
Once hot, throw in the shallots, garlic, green chillies and ginger and sauté till they turn golden brown. Keep stirring in between to avoid the onions getting burnt, which would affect the overall taste of the thokku.
Add the chopped tomato and continue cooking till they turn soft.
In goes the peppercorns, fennel seeds and grated coconut. Stirring continuously, cook the mix for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the contents into a bowl and leave aside to cool sufficiently.
Once cool, use a blender/ grinder to make a smooth paste. Try and avoid adding water, but if necessary a tsp or so wont do any harm.
Place the same frying pan back on medium heat and add the remaining oil.
Once hot, throw in the cinnamon, cloves and curry leaves. Stir for a couple of seconds till you get than nice aroma of spices.
At this stage tip in the ground ingredients and cook for a few minutes. It might splutter a bit in the beginning, so be careful.
Add the coriander, chilly, turmeric powders and salt, mix it all into the ground paste and cook, stirring on and off till the oil starts to surface.
Throw in the prawns and mix well, so its all coated in the masala.
Pour the 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer till the prawns are cooked and the water has all been absorbed. 
At this stage, you can drizzle the coconut oil (if using) and roast the prawns for a couple more minutes, or till the masala becomes dark and completely dry. 
Transfer the prawns into a serving dish, garnish with some coriander leaves and just before serving squeeze some lemon juice over it and serve with some chilled beer or hot rice.
Notes: Shallots can be replaced with a big onion.
The first time I made this, it was unbelievable spicy because I added 4 green chillies. If you are brave, go ahead and increase the number of chillies or use the spicy red chilly powder instead of Kashmiri chilly powder
Using coconut oil is purely optional, but it did give that distinct taste overall.
Make sure you dont over cook the prawns, as they can become really rubbery and chewy. If using pre-cooked prawns, then add it only once most of the water has been absorbed, but the masala is wet and not completely dry. That way the prawns don't over cook in the gravy, but at the same time gets smothered in the masala as well.