Monday, April 29, 2013

Dessert for Children | Dessert Tips



Dessert is one course of the meal that is probably enjoyed the most by children as sweetness is something that is most appreciated by young taste buds. Ask children what their favorite foods are and most likely they're going to mention something sweet like chocolate cake, apple pie or ice cream sundaes. Other foods that make the list include fast food favorites like pizza, fried chicken or comfort foods that mom used to make.

With desserts, parents should be careful not to overindulge their children and give in to their every whim. In typical American families, parents scolding children when they're naughty would send them to bed without any dessert. It would be wise for parents to feed their children sensibly while they're still young so they don't have any difficulties in training them later on in life.

When all you know to make are decadent desserts like sugary and buttery pastries, then limit the portions into reasonably sized servings. The reason why a lot of people become obese is the excessive consumption of fattening foods, including dessert. A solution to this is not to make it available in your house all the time and instead have more fruits.

Should you be open to modifying traditional recipes, then by all means make some simple yet high impact substitutions that make the dish a lot healthier. Replace refined white sugar with natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, raw sugar, honey, muscovado, stevia and agave extract. Other tips include replacing a portion of flour with fiber rich wheat flour. Incorporate fresh or dried fruits, nuts and even some vegetables (like carrots, beetroot and yams) into certain recipes to boost nutrition and fiber content. Sneak in super food like fiber rich chia seed for added digestive health benefits aside from energy.

Presentation is the key as visual appeal is also an important factor for a child to eat something. Cutting cookies into fun shapes or sprinkling with colorful candy sprinkles or dried fruit is a great way of making something more appealing.

Overall menu planning for families should likewise include desserts. Serve more fresh fruits in season as opposed to baking rich desserts. Not only is it cheaper, it's a lot economical as well. For restaurants, consider having a dessert selection for kids that are healthy as well. A great option could be carrot cake muffins, banana bread slices with vanilla sauce or fresh fruit skewers.
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Gelato Ice Cream for Dessert | Dessert Tips


Serving gelato ice cream for dessert can provide the perfect finishing touch to nearly any meal. Even after a rich meal where all diners feel comfortably full, there's always room for a creamy, chilled cup or cone of this delicious treat. In fact, it can make an overstuffed belly suddenly feel soothed and comfortable. This yummy product is the Italian version of the American scooped dairy delight. While Italy's scooped dessert is similar, there are a few differences.

Healthier

Because there's less butterfat in gelato ice cream, it's less caloric than the traditional U.S. version. It's also filled with fresher ingredients and less preservatives. Obesity is always a concern so having less butterfat is a plus as there will be less weight gain because of eating it. Because butter fat is more likely to clog arteries which may lead to heart disease, there will be less of that to worry about as well.

Higher Quality

With the Italian version of gelato ice cream, there is more density in its consistency. Because American manufacturers process their dairy dessert by whipping it, it contains more air and less creamy sweetness. Air whipped into the cream causes it to be lighter and to take up more space. What this means is a container that seems full but really isn't. If the air was pressed out, what's left would be tastier and appear to be a smaller serving size. Looks, of course, can be deceiving. When air isn't whipped in, the scoops or dishes contain more of the real deal.

Not as Cold

Gelato ice cream from Italy is kept at a warmer temperature than its American counterpart. American scooped desserts are kept at below freezing which means a more ice-like product. Gelatos are kept at ten to fifteen degrees warmer temperatures, resulting in a creamier, melt-in-your-mouth dessert. When something melts in your mouth, your taste buds appreciate it more fully. Something frozen solid tends to numb the taste buds so they can't fully comprehend the experience.

What's the perfect meal to finish off with bowls of creamy gelato ice cream? Well, Italian meals, of course. Whether your favorite entrees are spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parmesan, mushroom lasagna, or pepperoni pizza, there's always room for this soothing dessert. In the name of global equality, however, your favorite flavors of fruity, nutty, chocolate, or vanilla can be eaten after any nation's cuisine. Enchiladas from Mexico, cheeseburgers from the U.S.A., crepes from France, or shepherd's pie from Britain can all be finished off exquisitely with this delicious dairy delight.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crockpot Tri-Tip Tacos


I saw tri-tip on sale at our grocery store and decided to give it a try. First we marinated it and then put it on the grill. And it caught on fire! haha it was still way yummy after we cut off all the burnt edges. So I figured that that probably wasn't the best way to cook it with the marinade I had tried. The next time I got it I forgot about the "fire incident" and tried it again...same thing happened! So the next time I tried the crockpot. And boy was it good! We just ate it plain with some mashed potatoes. And then the most recent time I used this same marinade and put it in tacos! And it was a definite hit at our house! Something a little different then the regular shredded beef tacos. And this meat was so juicy and moist! We loved it! Give it a try!



Crockpot Tri-Tip

2-3lbs of Tri-Tip
1/2 cup water
1/2 Tablespoon beef bullion
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 packet Dry Italian Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Garlic Salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon ground mustard
3 Dashes of Franks Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 Tablespoon Vegetable or Olive Oil

Place the water, bullion, worcestershire in the crockpot. Wisk together. Add Tri-tip. Sprinkle the italian seasoning,garlic salt, black pepper, ground mustard, hot sauce, and oil onto the tri-tip. Cook on low for 8 hours. If you are home while it cooks, flip the tri-tip half way through. If not it will taste great if not flipped. After 8 hours shred meat and take out any fat that you find. This can be placed in corn toritalls, on a baked potato with BBQ sauce, on a roll or bun with BBQ sauce, or just eaten plain! 



Monday, April 22, 2013

Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry) Enchiladas

I recently took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico with my family to celebrate my father's 70th birthday. While there, I consumed an insane amount of enchiladas and learned a lot about the local chiles.  If you eat authentic New Mexican food, you will most likely at first burn your tongue off (in a good way) because the chiles are super hot, but they also have a unique earthy & fruity flavor.  They have a deep and dark reddish brown coloring too.  I loved the flavor so much, I brought back some of the special New Mexican red chile powder from The Chile Shop.  I definitely recommend trying out New Mexican chile powder (and using it in this recipe), which differs from the more usual varieties like cayenne, ancho, pasilla and chipotle. The name of the chile powder I bought is called Dixon Medium Hot, which is hotter than the most commonly used New Mexican chile called Hatch.  You can find New Mexican chile powder in specialty markets or order it online.

It's obvious New Mexicans are pretty serious about their chiles from the number of ristras, dried chili bunches, hanging all over the place.

This recipe is actually one of my favorites that I've been dying to share on the site, but this was the first time I made the sauce with real New Mexican chiles. It's essentially a Mexican-Indian enchilada, corn tortilla filled with rajma, a North Indian kidney bean curry and baked with enchilada sauce (recipe below courtesy of The Chile Shop in Santa Fe) and cheese.  Rajma is kind of like the lesser known, but just as delicious, relative to channa masala, that's made with kidney beans instead of chickpeas.  I like to make my rajma with spinach too.  This enchilada recipe is a hearty one for vegetarians and you can omit the cheese if you are vegan.

I've been really into this Mexican-Indian theme for quite some time and used to run a supper club called Masala Loca with my friend Sabra who now runs Skytown in Bushwick.  Sabra is half-Mexican so we had a lot of fun combining our family recipes from Mexico and India together and found there was a ton of overlap of ingredients. The two cuisines come together really well and have a lot of complementary flavors.  This is a photo of some Indian tamales we created together, one filled with tamarind chutney and white cheese and the other filled with mustard greens & ramps curry and jack cheese with butter masala sauce and mint chutney on the side.  If you're interested to see more of the Mexican-Indian foods and events I've done in the past go here.

From making enchiladas quite a bit, I've figured out some tricks so you don't end up with soggy enchiladas.  You just need to do a few things to make this happen: use corn tortillas, fry the tortillas lightly and lightly dip them into warm enchilada sauce before filling and putting in a greased pan. The oil acts as a barrier to the sauce so they don't start to break up apart.

This recipe is really versatile in that you can make some of the parts of it beforehand and assemble the enchiladas on another day.  In the past, I've also stuffed them with a variety of different Indian curries like potato and paneer & swiss chard and served them with different chutneys on top like coconut.

Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry) Enchiladas

Ingredients
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded jack or cheddar cheese
diced onion (optional)
vegetable or canola oil

Enchilada Sauce (Red Chile Sauce), courtesy of The Chile Shop Santa Fe
Ingredients
2 tablespoons oil
1 large clove of garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 scant tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons Dixon Medium Hot chile powder or other New Mexican chile powder, vary amount according to your taste
2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rajma with Spinach Recipe

For garnish
sour cream or Greek yogurt
iceberg lettuce, chopped or shredded
Spanish or black olives, sliced (optional)
hot sauce (optional)
cilantro, chopped

Method

To make Enchilada Sauce:
Saute garlic in oil for 1-2 minutes over low heat.  Add oregano, cumin and flour.  Stir until golden. Blend together chile and broth until smooth and add to flour mixture.  Simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes. Chile scorches easily, imparting bitter taste; cook slowly, stirring frequently.  Sauce should be thick enough to heavily nap a spoon.  Keeps 1 week refrigerated. Can be frozen.

Make rajma with spinach recipe.

Assembly of Enchiladas:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

In a non-stick pan, fry each corn tortilla in oil for a few seconds until pliable and soft. Don't cook until they are crunchy.

Set them aside on a paper towel.

Warm up your enchilada sauce and place in a flat dish or plate.

Take one fried corn tortilla at a time and dip completely in the enchilada sauce. Shake off excess sauce, you want it to be coated lightly, but not completely doused with sauce.

This part may get messy as you are working with the sauced tortilla so just be ready for it! I just use my hand for filling it too. Fill the enchilada with 2-3 tablespoons of rajma and spinach curry (can add a little cheese or diced raw onion too if you like) and roll closed. Place seam down in the baking dish. Repeat for each enchilada.

Spoon and spread sauce over the enchiladas (reserve some for serving with cooked enchiladas if you like it more saucy) and top with shredded cheese.

Place in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted to your liking.  If you want it to be more brown, you could turn the heat up to broil for a little until the cheese browns more.

For each plate, put down some enchilada sauce (optional) and place enchilada on top. Garnish your enchiladas with shredded lettuce, olives and cilantro. Serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt and hot sauce on the side.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Speaking @ NY Trav Fest This Sat

This Saturday at 2:30 PM, I'll be speaking on a panel at the NY Trav Fest. The NY Trav Fest is a two day affair (April 20-21) held at the Bohemian National Hall and features tons of great panels & speakers in the travel and food worlds from places like National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Edible Magazine, Travel+Leisure,  etc.

The panel I'll be on is moderated by Editor-in-Chief of Brooklyn Based, Annaliese Griffin and called The Art of the Day Trip: Exploring New York Neighborhoods.  I'll be talking about what spots to visit on a day trip to the Indian neighborhood of Edison, NJ and also discuss some of what New York has to offer with regards to Indian foods and shopping.  Joining me on the panel will be writer Allison Meier who will be taking the audience through a historical tour of Brooklyn.

You can view the complete NY Trav Fest schedule. There are also options to attend tours and cooking classes! To purchase your tickets for 1 or both days, go here.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My Interview w/ Asia Society on South Indian Food


I was super flattered when Asia Society recently contacted me for an interview to talk about South Indian foods. I have been doing a lot of work to preserve my family's recipes from Bangalore on this blog, in cooking classes and in writing for other publications so was very excited to hear that there has been a growing interest in South Indian cooking.

As a bonus, my interview was also featured on the New York Times Dining Journal blog under their "What We're Reading" segment and in Bon Appetit, and the noted Indian chef, Sanjeev Kapoor apparently liked what I had to say and shared the interview with his community too!

All in all, I'm happy when I hear that people are becoming more aware of regional styles of Indian cooking and going beyond conversations having to do with just chicken tikka masala and naan;)

You can visit Asia Society to read my interview with writer Farisa Khalid.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Instant Garlic Pickle

Instant Garlic Pickle Achaar
This Friday, I'll be preparing this instant Indian garlic pickle recipe for an eHow.com cooking video, but I'm sharing it here with you first!  On my last trip to India, I became inspired to make a garlic pickle when I tried it for the first time from a stall owned by a pickle maker named Kushiram in the Delhi neighborhood of Malviya Nagar.  If you visit his New Kushiram Achar store, you'll meet a very jolly man who loves making and selling his pickles:

Kushiram, Delhi Achaar Maker

Indian pickle is a bit of an undiscovered condiment I'm finding. When I have people over and put it out on the table, many times there is a little confusion as to what to do with it.  It's called pickle because it's preserved, but it really functions similar to Sriracha sauce where you just add a little to give whatever you're eating a spicy kick that is also sour and salty at the same time.  It gets addictive after you've tried it for the first time and you want to add a little bit of it to most everything you eat - in rice, with curry, mixed in with yogurt, in sandwiches, with eggs, etc.

In North India, pickle is referred to as achar and in South India it's called uppinakayi.  Depending on the region, different items are pickled with particular oils and spices.  Some examples of pickles are green mango, carrot, lemon, tomato, gooseberry, red chili and garlic.

You can make instant pickles right on the stove or make pickles that will be ready in months and stay good for a year or even longer.  The more lengthy process involves salting, spicing and drying out and preserving the item, often in the sun.  I'm a newbie to pickle making and am still working my way up to the more laborious pickles by trying out the instant pickle varieties first.  So far, I've made instant pickles of gooseberry (American variety) and string beans.

instant pickled string beans (shimi ka achar)
Pickle making in India is serious business. There are vendors that sell produce specifically for making pickle. These are some gooseberries called 'nellikayi' in Kannada for sale at Gandhi Bazaar Market in Bangalore.

Indian gooseberries (nellikayi)
You can even find pickle makers on the streets. This Delhi vendor wheeled around all of his pickles on a cart and he makes so many varieties. This is his green mango pickle:

Delhi achaar maker
And in every family, there is usually an Aunty that excels in the art of pickling. For instance, my mother's Aunt Indra in Bangalore makes an extraordinary nellikayi pickle, which I was lucky to bring back home from my last trip.  Growing up, these pickles would only be taken out on special occasions and now I do the same with my rations.

I made my garlic pickle recipe in a South Indian style using mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and sesame oil.  Usually garlic is used in North Indian pickles so this pickle is kind of a reflection of me, a North/South Indian mutt:) Enjoy!

Instant Garlic Pickle

Ingredients
1 cup small garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
lemon juice, ¼ cup
large pinch asafoetida or hing
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons jaggery or brown sugar

Method
Peel garlic, slicing any overly large pieces.

Dry roast fenugreek, coriander seeds and cumin seeds until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Make sure not to burn the fenugreek because it gets really bitter. Grind in a coffee grinder and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok, add asafoetida (hing) and mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the garlic cloves and mix in the turmeric powder.  Sauté for 3 minutes stirring continuously.

Add the chili powder, salt and roasted spices and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add the jaggery, lemon juice and cook until liquid reduces a bit and oil separates, few minutes.

Turn off heat.

Transfer into sterilized containers with lids once cooled. You can serve immediately.  This pickle can stay fresh for a month when stored in the fridge.

You can also choose to keep the pickle in a cool, dry place for 3-4 days and eat it after that time. Pickle tastes better the longer it preserves.