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Archive for the ‘Taste And Create’ Category

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It’s really true. Time flies by so quickly when we are busy. I’ve had a full plate at work and at home lately, so it seemed just like a few days ago when I received the information on who my partner was for this month’s Taste & Create… and before I knew it, I am a few days away from the deadline! Fortunately, I already know what to do and I got the ingredients on hand, so all I really had to do was to make time to do it! Nike’s got it — just do it!

For this month’s Taste & Create, I am partnered with Divya of Dil Se. Divya is of Indian (Asian) descent. She, like me, somehow found her way here to the U.S. She is based in California, which is a melting pot of different cultures from all over the world. No wonder why her blog reflects this mix of Indian as well as American/Western cuisine.

It was easy for me to decide which one to do for the event. When I saw this in Divya’s blog and read the recipe, it made my mouth water. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? So, I thought no further… Ginger Cookies it is!

Ginger is one of the most common spice for Asian cooking. The root has a strong, pungent flavor, while the dried/powdered ones have this sweet-spicy smell to it. A lot of Westerners do not really like it, or can’t stand much of it in a dish. The flavor is indeed very strong when one is not used to it.

As for me, I grew up with it, so I love its flavor. Ginger also happens to have lot of medical benefits as well. In the Philippines, we have a traditional drink called “Salabat” which is made from boiling ginger roots in water (with a bit of sugar). I remember my Mom used to make this concoction for me whenever I get colds. Just try and see how effective it is. And hey, drinking salabat has a side benefit. It is supposedly good for your singing voice! So whether you’re a professional singer or just a huge Karaoke singing enthusiast (like most Filipinos are), I urge you to try this and see if you won’t be belting out tunes in no time. Hahaha.. (How about that, Susan of SGCC?)

While I love ginger in savory dishes, I love it in sweets just as much. For instance, gingerbread. I love this holiday treat but I’ve never gotten around to try baking one from scratch. And I thought that this cookie might have the same taste as that of gingerbread, so I decided to do it.

The recipe was easy and very simple. There was nothing more that I did to it; I simply thought of adding cyrstallized (candied) ginger on top for more flavor (and for looks too).

And boy was I right. The cookies have the same flavor going on as gingerbread with the combined spices of cinnamon, ground cloves and the ginger in it. The ginger candy at the center gives you that nice sweet-spicy-chewy bite that’s just enough to give this cookie a little kick. Hmmmn…. the flavors of Christmas — they’re happy flavors!

Next time maybe, I’d minced the candied ginger and mix it in the batter so there’ll be little specs of ginger goodness all throughout the cookie… what do you think?

This recipe is definitely a keeper. I will for sure be making lots of these come Christmas holidays. Thanks, Divya for a great recipe. No wonder why you love these cookies! And I love ’em too.

Maybe this will be Santa’s new favorite cookie too?

(Taste & Create is a monthly food event created by Nicole of For The Love Of Food. Bloggers are paired off with one another and they have to do a recipe of their choice from each other…and of course, blog about it!)

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It’s that time of the month again. Time for Taste & Create, a monthly blogging event where partipating bloggers are partnered off with one another; the partners browse each other’s blog and then they each have to cook their recipe of choice from their partner’s blog. Cool huh? This blog was authored and is hosted by Nicole of For The Love Of Food.

My partner this time is Swati of Chatkhor. She’s from Bangalore, India and so naturally, all of her recipes are for Indian food. She is a vegetarian, but she’s started to venture into cooking chicken for her non-veg hubby. I’d say that’s love right there. I enjoyed reading her posts. I can tell she’s a fun person, who enjoys cooking so much. And her personality is obviously reflected in her cooking too. Swati, it’s a pleasure to be partnered with you.

Now, what to cook? Obviously, we are not vegetarians, but I do cook vegetarian dishes once in a while. There are a number of recipes that I want to try from the blog, but unfortunately, a lot of the the spices the recipe call for are something that I doubt I’d be able to get here in Miami, as I don’t know of any Indian specialty store around here. I also don’t know what to substitute them with…
So in the end, I decided to do the recipe that Swati herself suggested – dum ka murgh zafrani, or chicken slowly cooked in yoghurt (check out the recipe here)… Doesn’t the Indian title alone intrigue you?

Looking at the recipe, I knew right away that it would be a very rich dish. What with all that butter, yoghurt, milk and cream required… whew! So I had to tweak the recipe, just to control the fat content just a little bit. First of all, I used a skinless, boneless chicken breast. We usually don’t eat the chicken skin anyway so there’s no point in having it in this dish. Also, instead of using 1 cup of clarified butter as called for, I decided to only use 2 tbsps of butter, mainly for flavor, and a couple tbsps of olive oil. For the milk, I opted to use 2% instead of the full cream milk. Also, the yoghurt I used was non-fat. I had to do all these because Mr. J is watching his cholesterol level, so this is important if I were to feed him this dish. And for the fresh cream, I substituted it with heavy whipping cream using only half of what’s required. And I have to admit.. I cheated a little bit too. I chose to use canned, peeled and crushed tomato instead of pureeing one from scratch. Not only did I saved a fraction of time, but I’ve also got lesser dishes to wash this way. I thought that was smart of me, wasn’t it? :o)

I don’t think the changes I made affected the flavor of this dish at all. In my humble opinion, it’s really all the spices that make this dish. The sauce still came out thick and creamy due to the addition of the almond paste and the pureed tomato. At first, I was kind of iffy about the almond paste. I thought almond paste is only for desserts. I never knew that it could be added on to savory dishes as well, but now I know better.. haha! The paste added a slight almond taste to the dish, but not overpowering. And it made this dish a bit sweeter as well, which is a nice balance to all the different spices going on in this food.


As it is only Mr. J and I at home, I decided to cut the recipe down into half. But even with half a recipe, it still made a lot, especially the sauce! But you know what, this food tastes better the next day, so I am not complaining.

Cooking this dish transported me back in time when I was hanging out with pals from New Delhi (India) and Katmandu (Nepal). Almost 10 yrs. ago, I was in a scholarship program in Germany, which was sponsored by the German government. I got close to my colleagues from India (there were 2 of them) and Nepal. The smell of this dish as it cooked made me remember those good ol’ times when my friends would cook dinner, or at other times, when we would have Indian theme nights. We would go out to eat at Indian restaurants (in Germany), and watch Indian movies afterwards. Oh, I miss those fun times with them. I still communicate with these friends up to now, actually.

Anyways, before I get carried away too much….. This dish is similar to curry, except that there is no curry in it. It had all the spices that one would expect in an Indian dish. The chicken was creamy and dreamy and I served it with plain boiled jasmin rice garnished with cilantro… Yum! My husband, who thought it was spicy, was surprised because the dish is milder than he had expected and slightly sweet. He actually liked it…Life is good…. Thanks, Swati, for a great recipe!

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This month I have managed to participate in a food blogging event , Taste and Create. It is my very first time to do so and I am very excited. And, I’m honored to be partnered with Grace of A Southern Grace. She’s a prolific blogger and her site is a veritable source of good recipes.

It didn’t take me long to decide which of her recipes I should do.. I’m a sucker for sweets and her Bewitching Black Bottom Cupcakes cast its spell on me. Not to mention the fact that she attested to this recipe as something that’s been tried, tested and true. I really hoped that I’d do justice to this recipe.
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But leave it up to me to mess up an established recipe, lol! I ended up baking the cupcakes two times — for good reason. I was watching American Idol while baking… bad idea! When the cupcakes came out of the oven, I thought it didn’t look anywhere like Grace’s. Why???!!!! I followed the recipe, or so I thought. They were very fudgy and obviously, they haven’t risen at all… and then it hit me.. I forgot the baking soda! Duh! But hey, they may not look like a million, but they sure tasted good. I used German Black Forest Truffle chocolate and the flavor came out really well.

So the next day, I decided I will bake again, but this time, I thought of using Scharfen Berger organic dark chocolate. Unfortunately, there were things in the recipe that I had to change up because I was left with no choice. First, I used the 1/3-less fat cream cheese because this was what I had left in the fridge. I honestly thought I still had a bar of the regular cream cheese, but found out I had none. Second, I didn’t have enough of the regular cocoa powder left (which I thought was plenty). The only thing I have available in my cupboard was the dark dutch processed cocoa powder and so I added 2 tbsps of that out of the 5 tbsp that’s called for in the recipe. And thirdly – this was totally my choice – I used cake flour instead of the all purpose flour. I wanted the cupcakes to be more cakey and I thought cake flour just might do it.

I felt like I was experimenting with the recipe. I had my fingers crossed the entire baking time, hoping that the cupcakes would come out ok, or at least better than the first batch…. and.. tadaaaahhhh….
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They’re still not as pretty as Grace’s but it certainly looks much better than the first batch I baked. They’ve risen a bit, but I don’t know why they’ve sunk in the middle. But all that aside, the cupcake looks truly bewitching.. mouthwatering… They’re definitely cakier but not as sweet as the first batch I made because of the double dose of dark chocolate in it. It’s perfect for coffee or maybe a little bit of vanilla icecream on the side?

And that, my friends, is my very first experience of Taste and Create. Thank you Grace for a beautiful recipe. I learned a valuable lesson – TIVO American Idol when baking!!!!

Read Full Post »

This month I have managed to participate in a food blogging event , Taste and Create. It is my very first time to do so and I am very excited. And, I’m honored to be partnered with Grace of A Southern Grace. She’s a prolific blogger and her site is a veritable source of good recipes.

It didn’t take me long to decide which of her recipes I should do.. I’m a sucker for sweets and her Bewitching Black Bottom Cupcakes cast its spell on me. Not to mention the fact that she attested to this recipe as something that’s been tried, tested and true. I really hoped that I’d do justice to this recipe.
Photobucket
But leave it up to me to mess up an established recipe, lol! I ended up baking the cupcakes two times — for good reason. I was watching American Idol while baking… bad idea! When the cupcakes came out of the oven, I thought it didn’t look anywhere like Grace’s. Why???!!!! I followed the recipe, or so I thought. They were very fudgy and obviously, they haven’t risen at all… and then it hit me.. I forgot the baking soda! Duh! But hey, they may not look like a million, but they sure tasted good. I used German Black Forest Truffle chocolate and the flavor came out really well.

So the next day, I decided I will bake again, but this time, I thought of using Scharfen Berger organic dark chocolate. Unfortunately, there were things in the recipe that I had to change up because I was left with no choice. First, I used the 1/3-less fat cream cheese because this was what I had left in the fridge. I honestly thought I still had a bar of the regular cream cheese, but found out I had none. Second, I didn’t have enough of the regular cocoa powder left (which I thought was plenty). The only thing I have available in my cupboard was the dark dutch processed cocoa powder and so I added 2 tbsps of that out of the 5 tbsp that’s called for in the recipe. And thirdly – this was totally my choice – I used cake flour instead of the all purpose flour. I wanted the cupcakes to be more cakey and I thought cake flour just might do it.

I felt like I was experimenting with the recipe. I had my fingers crossed the entire baking time, hoping that the cupcakes would come out ok, or at least better than the first batch…. and.. tadaaaahhhh….
Photobucket

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They’re still not as pretty as Grace’s but it certainly looks much better than the first batch I baked. They’ve risen a bit, but I don’t know why they’ve sunk in the middle. But all that aside, the cupcake looks truly bewitching.. mouthwatering… They’re definitely cakier but not as sweet as the first batch I made because of the double dose of dark chocolate in it. It’s perfect for coffee or maybe a little bit of vanilla icecream on the side?

And that, my friends, is my very first experience of Taste and Create. Thank you Grace for a beautiful recipe. I learned a valuable lesson – TIVO American Idol when baking!!!!

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