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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pistachio Custard/Pudding

This is a dessert i have been wanting to make at home for quite sometime. Whenever i think of custard, i remember my PG hostel days, wherein we get a small fruit custard bowl as dessert for lunch every Wednesday. Who could resist eating just one? So, we (me n friends) sneak and take away (decent way to say 'steal', hehe) 3 or 4 bowls, when the person at the hostel food counter turns her back. The custard tastes even better this way. It will be super sweet and totally irresistible. Here, when i get to taste Crème brûlée at first, i felt the same spongy custard that just melts in my mouth. I can never have enough of it. I didn't know custard is that easy to prepare until i landed vahrehvah's Caramel Custard recipe. It turned out so delicate with mild sweetness and soft texture thats simply yummylicious. Here goes the recipe for you to try it out,

2 cups Milk
3 Eggs
1/4 cup + 3tsp Sugar
1/4tsp Vanilla Extract
1tbsp Water
1tbsp Pistachios (chopped), for sprinkling
Food color (optional)
How to:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set a small baking pan inside a big baking dish half filled with water.
  • Heat the 3tsp sugar in a pan along with water and let it caramelize in a medium-low flame. (I tried twice and didn't get the caramelization, instead the sugar dried up and became hard, hehe. So i just spread the lumps inside the small baking pan and kept aside.)
  • Break the eggs in a bowl and whisk'em along with the 1/4cup of sugar.
  • Then pour the vanilla extract and milk, and continue whisking until everything blends.
  • Now pour the milk mixture over the sugar that has been spread and bake for 45 mins. 
  • Remove and let sit for 20 mins. With a knife or spoon run the sides and separate the custard sticking to the sides.
  • With a plate placed upside down on the baking pan, carefully transfer the custard onto the plate.
  • The sugar would have melted and runs over the custard. Refrigerate it, sprinkle the chopped pistachios and serve chill.
Sending the treat to Lisa's Sweet as Sugar Cookies event.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Trip's Dining Experience

The road trip was from Seattle to LA and it took 3 days and 2 nights(each way), the driving time was roughly 7 hours/day. 

Our first food stop was Red Robin burgers(Oregon), where i had a Chicken burger and melon slices. This may sound weird, but believe me it was my first burger in the 3 years of my US life. I don't know, for some reasons i hated burgers without even tasting and i didn't like the chicken burger that i had that night. Maybe i should have ordered what Senthil was having, because he loved his burger, always love'em. 
Next food stop was Bistro Jeanty, a fine French Bistro in Yountville, CA. The appetizer we shared was Terrine de Lapin. It was a rabbit pâté with a celery root apple salad and mustard dressing. Pâté is a mixture of ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste. Common additions are vegetablesherbsspices, and wine. For the main course, i had Sole Meunière. It was a Sole fillet on mashed potatoes with lemon-caper butter sauce. The fish was very light and flaky with a salty bite from capers and the drizzled lemony butter sauce was rich and refreshing. Senthil had Bone marrow, which was a 'special of the day' dish. He enjoyed it to the last bite. Then for the dessert, we shared Mousse au Chocolat Brûlée. Its a chocolate mousse crème brûlée. 
Here comes HSB (Saravan Bhavan), a South-Indian vegetarian restaurant in Sunnyvale,CA where we had our brunch. Started off with crispy vadas as appetizer. Senthil ordered Sambar vada (in a bowl), his all time favorite and a plain lassi. I had vadas with sambar and coconut chutney as a side in a plate and Mango lassi. We both gobbled and emptied the plate in secs. Moving on, i had Onion Rava dosa, it was super crunchy, loved the tomato chutney and sambar very much. Senthil had Onion-Chilli dosa. The dosa was folded and filled with finely chopped onions and serrano peppers. The peppers were hot as they were raw, so he moved the peppers aside and had the dosa with onions. Also he ended the meal with a cup of hot Madras Coffee
Then it was lunch time, well, a very late lunch around 4.30 pm, we visited Sri Muniyandi Vilas in Santa Clara, CA. I had Egg Kothu Parota and Senthil ordered Mutton Biryani and Mutton Pepper fry. Both comes with raita and salna/kurma. This was the best spicy and hot dish, we had ever tasted in Indian restaurants(in US). It was finger-licking good and irresistible, just like home. We wish, we had a Muniyandi Vilas in Seattle too.
We stopped by Rosine's Meditteranean restaurant in Anaheim,CA for dinner, hehe not on the same day, we would have bursted if it were the same day. It was couple days later and we were super hungry after a long day at Disney, we ordered for a hot appetizer, it was Eggplant Napolean with Quail. It looked super yummy and i was starving, so missed the click. It had layers of grilled eggplant, feta cheese and fire roasted peppers, topped with fried quail. The quail was the yummiest part. For the entrée, i ordered Chicken Kebab with Cayennaise sauce. Not crazy about the cayannaise sauce, so i ordered some Garlic sauce as a side. I always loved garlic sauce/spread and it was totally awesome. After filling my stomach, i remembered to click it and so my plate would be half empty, bear with me. Senthil ordered Lamb shank, it comes with Rice pilav and rosemary juice to drizzle over the lamb. Ended that evening with a juicy baklava layered with ground pistachios and soaked in rose water.
Next stop was Yang Chow, a chinese restaurant in LA for lunch. As for starter, we ordered the Egg drop soup and within secs, we had a big bowl, really big bowl of hot soup on our table. There was no salt and pepper shakers on any of the table, so we assumed to sip the soup without pepper. It was quite bland for my taste and am not a big fan of it. Then we ordered for Yang Chow Fried Rice (chicken) and Kung Pao Chicken with Orange peel sauce. Didn't actually see the orange sauce written within braces. It was sweet and definitely not for us. The fried rice was excellent tasting, we asked for hot oil as a side and it was perfect for our taste. We both are a big fan of hot oil. Twice bought a bottle mentioned hot oil in the Asian store, but it didn't taste like the restaurant one. If anyone knew the exact recipe or a place we could buy it online or at store, please comment on it. 
Then comes Mario Batali's Pizzeria Mozza in LA for dinner. We had to wait for 20 mins, for not having a reservation. The place was crowded on a weekday night too and we get to sit at the bar, as tables are for people who reserve it. We ordered an appetizer and had no idea what it would look or taste until it gets to the table. It was Pane bianco with olio nuovo, means oven-roasted bread topped with olive oil. The bread was super soft at the center and tasted buttery and garlicky with a rich flavor from olive oil. It was simply fabulous. Then its pizza time. I ordered Stracchino with artichokes, lemon and olivesStracchino is a type of Italian cow’s-milk cheese, typical of Lombardy. It is eaten very young, has a soft, creamy texture and normally a mild and delicate flavour. It is normally square in form. Senthil ordered Bacon, salami, fennel sausage, tomato and mozzarella. He said, it was the best pizza he had so far in his life. He loved the fennel sausage so much and gobbled up the whole pizza. We really didn't have empty space for any dessert that night.
Next day, stopped at the bld restaurant in LA for brunch. I ordered Ricotta Blueberry pancakes with Maple syrup. The maple syrup comes in a small can and it was hot. I couldn't finish 1 whole pancake, had to box it up. Senthil ordered Spanish frittata. It had chorizo, smoked paprika, fingerling potatoes, roasted piquillo peppers, manchego cheese and comes with choice of bread and potatoes. He loved it as usual and finished the frittata. 
On the way back to Seattle, another round to HSB (Saravana Bhavan). This time i had 14 Idlies in sambar as a starter. Then ordered Onion Uthappam with 3 different chutneys and sambar as a side. It was so yummy and tasty, but could't finish it. Senthil ordered his favorite Sambar vada again, followed by Onion Masala dosa. He was not fond of the masala but almost finished the dosa. Then he had the Madras Coffee to end the brunch.
The next stop, you guessed it right, Sri Muniyandi Vilas. We had to start early and no time to sit and eat at the restaurant, so we had everything to-go. We ordered the same Mutton Biryani and with Mutton curry as a side. Later that evening, stopped in a rest area and shared the hot and spicy biryani. It was really really really good.

Then, a stop again in Red Robin burgers (forgot the location). I ordered Chicken Caprese sandwich and it was YUM (just like the ad says). It had tender grilled chicken breast topped with fresh Mozzarella cheese, balsamic marinated tomatoes and crisp romaine lettuce with pesto aioli. 
A couple of days we had our brunch at Denny's. I ordered up Wheat pancakes, Egg whites, Wheat toast and Hash browns. We equally enjoyed the food along with the fun in our whole trip.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nan Khatais (Indian Butter Biscuits)

The treats are packed up and we are ready to hit the road tomorrow. We are going to California on a road trip and meet a couple of our friends and cousin on our way. I am very excited to see'em and happy to deliver these home made biscuits in person. Well, to talk about the biscuits, these are light, buttery sweetnesses that literally dissolves in your mouth. The nuts are so rich and crunchy, that makes irresistible and you can't stop just munching one. And these are egg-less cookies that are very popular and called biscuits in India. They are served as a evening snack along with coffee or tea. The buttery aroma while baking, smelt heavenly and perfumed the whole kitchen.  Also, i have made two versions of butter biscuits here, other than flour combination, the methods are pretty similar. Here it goes,
This is a pistachio butter biscuit, topped with chopped pistachios and made from a combination of three flours. This one was Senthil's pick among the two.

1/3 cup APF (Maida)
1/3 cup fine Semolina (Rava)
1/2 cup Gram Flour (Besan)
1/2 cup unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup Sugar
3 green Cardamom Seeds (powdered)
1 pinch Baking Soda
1-2tbsp Pistachios (coarsely chopped)
 How to:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Mix together the maida, semolina, gram flour, cardamom and baking soda.
  • In another bowl, blend the butter and sugar together.
  • Now, blend the flour mixture in batches to the butter-sugar mixture.
  • Divide the dough into small lime size balls, smoothen'em with your palms, make a grid or star with a knife and gently press the chopped pistachios.
  • Do the rest of the dough in a similar manner and arrange'em on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 13 mins or until they turn golden brown on top.
  • Remove the baking sheet and let rest for 3 mins, before you transfer'em to cooling rack. (The half bitten biscuit, that was me hehe, couldn't resist)
  • Serve as a snack or dessert.

Almond Pressed Butter Biscuit:

This is an Almond Butter Biscuit, made from maida (APF) and warm butter with an Almond pressed on each of its center. This one is the winner in my taste testing.

1 cup APF (Maida)
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup unsalted Butter (melted)
1/4tsp Baking Soda
3 Green Cardamom Seeds (crushed/powdered)
1 pinch Salt
8-10 Almonds (for garnishing)
How to:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Mix together the dry ingredients: APF, sugar, baking soda, cardamom and salt.
  • Pour the butter over the flour mixture and knead, resulting a soft dough.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, smoothen in between your palms and press the center with your thumb and place an almond.
  • Follow the same procedure for the remaining dough and arrange it on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 mins and cool in a cooling rack.
  • Serve the biscuit as a snack or dessert.


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