Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 min cake, 10 min raspberry sauce!

From craving to savoring in 15 min.

Go ahead and treat yourself at the end of your day with this!

I am no baker as I have already said many times before, do I still need to convince you? But I love to treat myself with a nice cake but the effort it takes to make one seems to be humongous for me (and failing after all that effort is so disheartening). Hence, comes my quick fix...faking baking (again)! Honestly speaking, this recipe may not be restaurant quality but I did savor it when I craved for a piece of cake at 9 pm.

I got inspired from a post by Edible Garden which she posted on facebook recently. Cake in 5 min! I had to try it! I love chocolate cake but I didn't have any cocoa powder in my pantry, so I added shredded chocolate chips (my fancy way of saying- chop your chocolate pieces with your knife into small pieces) to the recipe. Although this is an eggless recipe [Unfortunately I had no eggs either in my refrigerator that night, isn't that sad?], it turned out really nice. However my next one will be a proper chocolate cake in 1 min with egg. Will post that sometime later :)

Both me and my husband are very fond of a particular dessert joint in San Diego called "Extraordinary Desserts". They have the most fabulous cakes and ambience. I love a particular cake called "Truffe Framboise". Well, how about making my own raspberry/framboise sauce and add it to my quick cake. I have made this raspberry sauce a multiple time before and with strawberrys too. Turns out great every time. There are so many ways you can use this sauce. My favorite was, until now, to generously drizzle over a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream. I slather it over almost anything, cookies, toast, even add it to yogurt!

Well, Enjoy this anytime you want, anyway you want!

5 min cake:
2 tbsp all purpose flour

1½ tbsp granulated sugar

¼ tsp baking powder

⅛ tsp salt

2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp oil/ melted cool butter

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp chocolate chips (ran my knife through it to make small pieces)

Raspberry sauce:
6 oz raspberry

¼ cup sugar

juice of ½ lime

pinch of chili powder (Not to make it hot but to cut the sweetness a little!)

pinch of salt

Method for Cake:

Add all the dry ingredients to a microwave safe cup/mug except chocolate chips.

Then add all the wet ingredients.

Mix well. I whisked with a fork like I would whisk an egg.

Add the chocolate chips.

Transfer to a small bowl sprayed with non-stick oil (PAM), only if you want to decorate like I did. Otherwise put it in the microwave for 1 min. [IMPORTANT- Every microwave oven is different. My cake was done in 1 min. I check it poking with a toothpick. Keep an eye on your cup when it's in the microwave. Also, use at least a 8 oz cup/mug for this otherwise it will spill in the microwave oven.]

Method for sauce:

Add all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and put it on medium heat. In a min or two, you will see the raspberries breaking down and the juices flowing. Cook for 2 more minutes and depending on the consistency you desire, take it off heat and cook. It will thicken more as it cools. Don't worry if you have thickened it too much, you can always loosen it with some water, as I always do.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Croissants

Lately I have become a little obsessed with "faking baking" with puff pastry.

This time it's Crispy crunchy chocolate croissants. I got inspired to make this from two things:

1. I LOVE chocolate. Who doesn't?


2. I had to bring something sweet to the lab's holiday party (which was in the middle of the week, so had to be easy and quick)

If I can just pick up a puff pastry on my way home and bake delicious croissants in an hour on a weeknight, I would prefer that than make puff pastry from scratch. But, not everyone wants to "fake bake" like me, so if you are into baking and would love to learn how to make croissants from scratch, here is Farrukh's wonderful post to help you through each and every step.

I have used puff pastry here (Am I saying puff pastry over and over again? Now you know I am obsessed!) but you can do this same recipe with Pillbury crescent rolls. The difference between the two is yeast. Puff pastry has no yeast. If you use crescent rolls for this recipe, it will turn out great too. It will be soft and flaky compared to crispy and crunchy with puff pastry.

There is actually not much of a recipe here. But here it goes:

You need:

1 sheet of pepperidge farm puff pastry, thawed at room temperature for 40 min. [If by any chance, you have thawed it for a longer time and the sheet is too soft and sticky to work with, pop it back into the freezer for 5-10 min and chill it. Source of information- My mistakes]

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips [Use dark or milk chocolate whichever you like]

1 egg

1 tbsp water

¼ cup All purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spread the All purpose flour on your workspace. Place you puff pastry sheet on it and roll it to a 16 by 14 inches rectangle. [It is very important to have flour below your puff pastry or it will be difficult to roll the croissants later.]

Cut the sheet in half lengthwise and then make 8 rectangles. Cut along the diagonals to make 16 triangles as shown in picture. 

Put about half tablespoon of chocolate chips in each triangle. 

With the wider side of the triangle towards yourself, start rolling the pastry. [If you find it difficult to keep the chocolate chips inside, don't worry. In some of my pictures, you will find some chips peeking out through the folds of the pastry, and I think I like them that way. Then you know there chocolatey goodness inside!]

Whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush each croissant with the egg wash. 

Put it in the oven for 30 mins.

Enjoy warm croissants, crispy and crunchy outside with gooey melted chocolate inside!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppery Black Chicken / Kali Murg

I have been scratching my head for a few days now to name this dish. Options I have are: Black chicken, Kali murg, Pepper chicken, Chicken with nigella seeds/ kalonji/kalo jeer. Well, call it whatever you want but let me tell you two things about this dish-

Color: Black, yes it is totally black!

Flavor: Peppery, as peppery as it can get!

Looks like Halloween is 2 months late :)

Nigella seeds/ Kalonji/ kalo jeere is not a very commonly used spice. These little black seeds have a wonderful aroma and a very unique peppery taste, more when you roast it. Add it with freshly cracked black pepper and you have Peppery black chicken.


1½ lb chicken (I always prefer thighs for my chicken preparations-soft and juicy, but you can use any)

1½ tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fresh ginger paste 

1½ tbsp fresh cracked black pepper

1½ tbsp roasted nigella seeds/ kalonji/ kalo jeere. [Dry roast nigella seeds on a pan on medium heat for few minutes and then grind them to a powder]

1 medium onion chopped

1 tomato chopped

oil for cooking


Mariante the chicken pieces with salt for 20 mins. While the chicken in marinating, roast the nigella seeds/ kalonji/kalo jeere and grind them. Chop onions and ready the ginger, garlic and black pepper. 

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onion. When the onion turns pink, add garlic, ginger and black pepper and stir.

When the spices are almost cooked, add the chicken and stir.

It is important to cook the chicken with the spices (in bengali we call this step koshano) without adding tomato or water. If the chicken releases water, cook till all the water has evaporated and the chicken turns brownish in color.

Add the ground roasted nigella seeds/ kalonji/ kalo jeere.

Stir well. Add the tomato. Cook till the tomato is softened, cooked and nicely incorporated with all the spices.

When the oil separates out from the spices, add a cup of water and cook the chicken with a lid on the pan.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice/ indian bread (roti, naan etc).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Parmesan, Almonds and Raisins sautéed Brussels sprouts

If you never tried this warm salad, I insist you do! Well, I can't really insist...but please try this..I bet you'll like it...even if you are not a big fan of Brussels sprouts. Don't have these ingredients, no problem, there are easy substitutes available ... just read on...

Oh I bought this huge bag of Brussels sprouts and made some Bacon Wrapped Brussels Sprouts (which were sooo good!) But, I still had many left and had to do something with those. I was looking online for recipes and there are many roasted Brussels sprouts recipes to be found. I like roasted sprouts but then I saw this warm salad recipe on Picky Palate, and I had to try it. Unfortunately neither did I have gorgonzola, nor pear nor any bags of salad additions. However, I had grated parmesan cheese (for whenever I make pasta), almonds (I have with my oats for breakfast) and raisins (also an addition to my morning oats)! So here comes Parmesan, almonds and raisins sautéed Brussel sprouts!

You can substitute almonds with pecans and raisins with any dried fruit. I actually wanted to use dried cranberries (craisins) instead of raisins. You can use candied fruit pieces. The nut will give a crunch, and the dried fruit some sweetness. 

I made this with half of the Brussels sprouts that I had and after tasting it, I loved it so much that I went right back to make more with the rest of the sprouts that I had. I had to! This is so good! Oh you have to try......ok I'll stop now!


2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of Brussels sprouts quartered

1 tbsp minced garlic

1½ tsp tightly packed softened chopped raisins [Put the raisins in a microwave safe bowl and add enough water to cover them, put a lid on the bowl and microwave for 2 min to get softened raisins.].

1½ tbsp halved almonds

½ tbsp grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper



Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the Brussels sprouts. Add salt and black pepper and put the lid on.

After 2-3 mins, remove the lid and stir in the garlic. The Brussels sprouts will be browned by now. Put the lid back on. Cook till the garlic and the sprouts are cooked.

Then add the almonds and the softened chopped raisins. Stir.

Cook for another two minutes.

Serve warm with grated parmesan cheese on top.

I hope you try this and enjoy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Coconut Cabbage

As much as I love to enjoy cabbage the usual style (bengali style) with green peas and tomato, sometimes I do like to enjoy cabbage differently. And here is a simple and fantastic different style!!

I learnt this recipe from my mom. And it taste quite like hers too!! I am so content with myself :)

Do you know that cabbage has the fewest calories and the least fat of all vegetables? It's a must for anyone trying to lose some weight. Well, for me, in the constant war between food and weight loss, food has always won! So, it's nice to have them both on the same side once in a while.

Cabbage has a strong flavor and with a few spices, it can turn out great! This one has only mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger and coconut. That's it. Isn't that simple?

Here is the full list and the method:


Half a head of a cabbage thinly sliced as shown in picture above [about 6 cups]

½ tbsp cumin seeds

½ tsp mustard seeds

1½ tbsp fresh ginger paste

2 green chills [Can substitute with chili powder]

⅓ cup shredded coconut thawed [I buy frozen shredded coconut from the freezer section of an indian grocery store. Frozen coconut has more sweetness and taste compared to dried coconut that are found on the shelves]

Oil for cooking


½ tbsp sugar [adjust according to your taste]


Thinly slice or grate half of a medium sized cabbage head.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the green chills. Add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds. Wait till they are fragrant and the mustard seeds crack. Add the ginger paste and fry.

When the raw flavor of ginger is gone and fried nice, add only ⅓ of your sliced cabbage. DO NOT ADD SALT. Turn the heat to high and fry the cabbage with constant stirring. When the cabbage is soft, add another ⅓ of the cabbage and stir. After another 2 min add the rest of the cabbage. Not all of the cabbage is added in the beginning to prevent release of water from the cabbage so that it can be stir fried nicely. 

Now add salt.

Add shredded coconut. Since coconut is already sweet, add sugar to the dish accordingly.

If you want the preparation to be spicy, add red chili powder. [I like this a little sweet and hot]

Since the cabbage is very thinly sliced, it will be cooked by now completely. There is no need to add water to this preparation.

Take it off heat and serve with rice/ indian bread (roti).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Little Hearts

Valentine's day is still a couple of months away but why wait till then? Christmas is almost here. Enjoy the festive season with these Little Hearts.

I am no baker, in fact I know nothing about baking. I can not even count how many times I have failed in baking a cake or even brownies. But this, my friends, I must say is the easiest baking. And if I can get it right, anyone can.

Palmiers are pastry that have the shape of a butterfly but I like to think of them as the shape of a heart.

It was quite by accident that I bought this pastry some years ago and got hooked on to them ever since. They are sweet, buttery and crispy goodies and surprisingly simple to make!

Palmiers are made of puff pastry. You can make puff pastry from scratch if you want but why take the pain when you can get such nice puff pastry right in the freezer section of your grocery store. I made cinnamon palmiers.


1 puff pastry sheet [I used pepperidge farm]

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tbsp ground cinnamon

1 egg

1 tbsp water


Thaw the puff pastry following the instructions on the package.

Heat the oven to 400°.

Roll it out with a a rolling pin to approximately 16 in  by 10 in in size. [For easy clean up, tape a sheet of parchment paper on my kitchen table/ whatever work space you chose 2.5 feet in length. Put half of the sugar on the workspace, put the pastry on it and then roll the pastry. This will prevent it from sticking, and also there will be sugar on the outer surface.]

Mix the cinnamon powder with the rest of the sugar and spread uniformly on the pastry sheet.

Since I made little hearts (half in size compared to palmiers), I cut the pastry in half length wise and worked separately with each half.

Now fold long side of the rectangle such the the edge meets halfway till the middle. DO it on both sides and then fold again such that they meet in the middle. Look at the pic below to help you. It will look like a log.

Add 1 tbsp of water to the egg in a bowl and whisk it with a fork. Brush both sides of the log with the egg wash [This will give a nice golden brown color on baking].

Then cut the long roll in pieces ~half an inch in width. I made ~60 hearts from 1 puff pastry sheet.

The key to a nice heart shape is that you fan out the ends of the pieces when you lay them cut side up on a parchment paper lined baking tray.

Place them on the lower rack in your oven.

Bake them for 10 min on one side. Then turn them over and bake the other side for another 5-6 min till golden brown in color. 

Cool them down on a rack. Enjoy!

These looked golden brown and so tempting out of the oven!

Enjoy them anytime of the day. You can store the extras away in an air-tight container to relish for the next few days. But they hardly ever stay that long, at least for me!!

Next time will be simple sugar palmiers dipped in chocolate! I already can't wait to finish these and make another batch.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mushroom and shrimp curry

I usually make a vegetarian (no shrimp) version of this recipe and you can too but I'll never regret adding shrimp to it. Today was a busy day and I did not want to make mushrooms (only vegetable (?) I happened to have in my refrigerator) and shrimp curry separately. Hence comes, Mushroom and shrimp curry.

Out of all the different varieties of mushrooms that you can get at the supermarket, I tend to always go for oyster mushrooms. Their name comes from their white shell-like appearance and not from the taste. These mushrooms are very tender and have a delicious sweet taste. Also, they cook super quick! So does shrimp! Isn't this a great idea for a weeknight dinner?

I buy frozen and fresh shrimp, whichever is available. But, when I buy frozen, I make sure I buy RAW, clean and deveined. If you cook with cooked shrimp, most likely you will overcook it. And overcooked shrimp is hard, chewy and rubbery- not good! If you are buying fresh shrimp, it is very important to clean the shrimp properly. Here is a video from Epicurious to help you with proper cleaning of shrimp :

With cleaned and deveined shrimp in hand, lets get to the recipe.


1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined)

8 oz pack of oyster mushrooms. I chop them randomly shaped but equal in size.

1 medium onion chopped (Size similar to the shrimp you are using)

1 medium russet potato chopped (Size similar to the shrimp you are using)

1 tomato chopped 

2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp fresh ginger paste

2 green chilies

1 tsp red chili powder (optional)

1 tbsp fresh lime juice (optional)

Roasted cumin powder (optional)

Cilantro (optional)


Oil for cooking


Heat a pan on medium high heat with vegetable/canola oil. I also added some mustard oil. While the pan heats up, marinate your clean shrimp with 1 tsp turmeric and salt.

Add the shrimp to the hot pan. Shrimp does not take long to cook. Cook on one side for about 2 min and then cook the other side for another 2. By this time, the shrimp has already turned pink. If you are worried about the shrimp not being totally cooked, don't, it will be cooked again. So, it's better to keep it little shy here. You don't want to overcook it.

Remove the shrimp from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

Add more oil to your pan if needed and add the green chilies.

Add the mushroom pieces immediately after. DO NOT ADD SALT! Salt will immediately release water preventing the mushroom from properly browning. It will not take long.

Add the potato, rest of turmeric, salt, stir and fry. Add the onions next. 

After frying the vegetables for a few minutes, add 2 tbsp of ginger paste, chili powder and stir.

When the raw smell of ginger is gone, add the tomato and stir. 

Add 1 cup of water when the tomato has softened and is incorporated nicely with everything else. Put a lid on and cook on medium heat till the potato pieces are cooked.

When the potato pieces are just done, add the shrimp, mix well. Put the lid back on and turn off the heat. The shrimp will cook in the trapped heat and the flavor will be incorporated in the gravy.

After a few minutes, add the lime juice and sprinkle roasted cumin powder on top (optional). Add some cilantro for flavor and color.

Serve hot with rice or roti.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Roasted cornish hens with sweet and savory brown rice

Have you ever seen a 2 lb turkey at the stores? That's why for a small thanksgiving dinner, I made hen. And they were delicious. I think I'll make them again and again and I don't need a particular day for it.

I didn't want to go into the effort of making a stuffing, so I prepared this very simple, easy to put together, sweet and savory brown rice. 

Few weeks ago, I visited my sister at Philadelphia and she made this absolutely delectable green fish with lots of cilantro. I'll try to make that sometime later but I thought of marinating these birds with cilantro. 

I really got under the skin of these birds!! See?

Unfortunately, I didn't click pics of the rice while I was preparing it. I added whatever veggies I had with me- carrots, green beans, mushrooms. I will definitely add some bell peppers and celery next time.  Those cubes you see in the pic below are not potatoes but apples, which makes it sweet. Also, I made this vegetarian but you can choose to make it non vegetarian with some spicy smoked sausage. This rice prep is already delicious, I am wondering what it will be with bell peppers, celery and sausage. I have to try that another time. YUM!!

And next time, I'll do the same prep with chicken.


For Roasted Hens:

A pack of 2 hens, frozen [2.5 lbs]

1 medium size red onion

3 tbsp fresh ginger paste

2 tbsp garlic paste

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup cilantro

2 tbsp butter

Juice of 1 lime


For Sweet and Savory Brown Rice: 

2 cups of cooked brown rice [I used leftover rice]

1 carrot chopped

1 onion chopped in chunks

1 cup chopped green beans

2 cups chopped white mushrooms

1 medium size apple chopped [I used gala. Use any sweet kind]

1 tbsp poultry seasoning [I used McCormick's]




For hens:

Thaw the birds. Wash them and pat them dry.

Grind the cilantro and the cumin seeds with small amount of water to make a smooth paste.

Marinate the hens with ginger, garlic, cilantro paste, chili powder, paprika, salt, lime juice and butter. Slide your finger under the skin and push your marinade in and spread it.

Put the onion chunks inside the birds.

Marinate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Place the hens in the middle of the pan. Add all of the marinade paste.

Roast for 1 hr. Baste it with butter every 15 min to keep the birds moist.

For rice:

Heat a cooking pan on medium heat with oil.

Add the mushrooms first. Do not add salt. Salt will release a lot of water preventing the mushrooms from getting browned nicely.

Now add the onion, followed by carrots and beans.

Then add the apple, salt, poultry seasoning and stir.

When the vegetables are cooked and the apple pieces are soft but not mushy, add the rice.

Season with salt. Stir gently and cover. Cook on medium to medium-low heat for another 5 mins for the rice to absorb all the flavors.

Spread it out nicely on a platter with roasted hens. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro and ENJOY!!

Dry tomato / Chatpata chicken

I made this for the first time a few years ago. Me and my husband used to go to two different grad schools and hence live in two different cities. I was down with flu and had lost complete taste. Yet, after a long day in school, I had to make dinner. I wanted something spicy, tangy, tasty, absolutely chatpata (English translation-hot and sour? may be! ) and fulfilling. My husband suggested me over the phone to make some hot and spicy chicken and this is what I had for dinner. It turned out so good that I often make it nowadays and I call it "chicken-achaar".

I wanted it to be done fast, so I made small chicken pieces and cooked on high heat. Also, I add NO WATER to this preparation which makes it dry. It requires very few ingredients and anyone can make it. Just throw in a few things and cook.

I loved the spiciness from the red chili powder and the tanginess from the tomato paste making me call it "achaar"

Have it any way you like! 

Make it dry and snack on it. 

OR Enjoy with white rice or fried rice 

OR with a hot roti/paratha 

OR roll it up in a paratha with lettuce and avocado and make it your to-go lunch for the next day. 

The possibilities are endless.


1.5 lb boneless chicken breasts / tenderloins

1 large red onion finely chopped

pinch of turmeric (optional)

2 tbsp fresh ginger paste

1.5 tbsp chopped/grated garlic

1 tsp red chili powder (Use as hot you want it to be)

4 tbsp tomato paste (Cans of tomato paste has really long shelf lives-almost 2 years. So, I always keep a few in my pantry. Do not substitute this with tomato sauce. It just doesn't come out right!!)


oil for cooking


Cut the chicken breasts/tenderloins into small pieces (~ half an inch thick or less). Small sizes of the chicken pieces will cook fast.

Finely chop a large red onion. You can also use a food chopper, if you have one. But try not to use a paste. 

Heat a large pan on high heat with vegetable/canola oil. The purpose of large pan is that when you add your chicken, it should be in a single layer.

To the heated oil, add the chopped onions. Season it with salt and add a pinch of turmeric. You may omit the turmeric. Fry the onions till they soften and turn brownish.

Since your pan is on high heat, it will not take long. 

Now add the chicken, ginger, garlic and chili powder, salt and stir. the chicken pieces will be in a single layer if you are using a large enough pan and will be fried well. They will get brown slowly. Keep stirring. If you use a small pan and crowd the chicken, it may not get fried well and release a lot of water!

When your chicken is brown and the ginger and garlic are nicely cooked, add the tomato paste. DO NOT thin it out with water. Add it directly from the can.

Mix the tomato with the chicken. Lower the heat to medium-high and keep cooking. If you find it too difficult to cook this so dry, then add water 1 tbsp at a time. I do not add any water to this preparation.

The tomato paste will get cooked and lose its raw smell and taste. You will see reddish oil separate out in your pan and the chicken pieces will be coated with red goodness.

Garnish with cilantro and enjoy it hot in whatever way you want!!