Easy Food Smith

Posts Tagged / Entertaining

SAFFRON RICOTTA MUFFINS

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Never thought, baking these simple muffins would become so challenging. On one of the crazy Monday mornings I decided to make these muffins (wrong day I know!), when the daughter would be away to school and hubby off to his office. I find myself most relaxed on Monday mornings coz when these two are away, I am able to plan my day and the week ahead.

However, I also needed to re-stock my fridge and pantry. After my domestic help left, post cleaning the house, I soaked the saffron in milk (so that the flavours would steep in the milk & would attain beautiful colour by the time I was ready to bake these beauties) and make a dash for the market at noon. I was back home just in time before daughter arrived home from school. Post snacks and chit chatting I headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge and there were no eggs. Darn. Went again to the market and bought eggs.

Came back and took out the mixing bowl and measuring spoons and rest of the paraphernalia to start prepping the muffins. Out came the ingredients and there was half a cup flour. Like seriously!? What was I thinking when I went to the market!?! Aren’t these the basics that one checks when one is planning of baking something. In my enthusiastic endeavour to bake these muffins (I am a sucker for saffron), I forgot that I had, on my daughter’s demand, baked the Chocolate & Orange Cake couple of days back and was running low of flour. A visit again to the market for flour and back. I even ran out of caster sugar and compensated the balance amount with coconut sugar. (Honestly, by now I was exasperated with myself)

I finally made these muffins in the evening by seven (so much for planning my day) and my only consolation was that these muffins turned out really good. Beautiful texture and warm spicy flavors of saffron (although the saffron lay soaking in the milk for nearly eight hours) with subtle hints of cardamom and almond – almost felt like having a dessert.

¼ tsp crushed Saffron

1 tbsp Milk

1½ C All Purpose Flour (Maida)

¼ C Quick cooking Oats

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/3 C Oil

1 scant C Caster Sugar & Coconut Sugar (equal amount of each, to make one scant cup)

2 Eggs (Ones I used were 60 grams each)

¼ tsp Almonds Essence

175 grams Ricotta Cheese

Almonds flakes to sprinkle on the top (optional)

In a small bowl, heat milk and add crushed saffron to it. Mix and set aside for atleast 2 – 3 hours.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, oats and baking powder.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil for two minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time and whisk till incorporated.

Add almonds essence and ricotta and whisk till just incorporated.

Add flour (I added whole of it in one go) and whisk till just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter in baking cups or muffin liners. Fill until each is a little less than ¾th full.

Sprinkle each cup/liner with almond flakes.

Bake in the oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or till the muffins are done (insert a skewer in the centre of a muffin and if it comes out clean, the muffins are done)

Note – I had to keep ricotta on a strainer lined with cheese cloth (for nearly an hour) to get rid of excess water.

Note – The amount of saffron will depend on the quality of saffron you use. I had used Kashmiri saffron and one fourth teaspoon of crushed saffron was sufficient. Any more, and it would have become over powering in the muffins.

Yield – 6

Thanks for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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YOGURT GARLIC MUTTON CHOPS

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Except for the Yakhni Pulav you won’t find any mutton recipe here. There was a time we used eat mutton quite regularly but things have changed in our household since the past decade or so. Mutton is now made occasionally and we rather have fish and chicken. So after a long gap, today I am sharing a recipe which is a heirloom recipe. I have seen my mother and my maternal grand mother making it when a party demanded a crowd pleaser. They would serve it as an appetizer / starter and it was lapped up by everyone. This recipe with seemingly overwhelming amount of garlic, may look too simple and a somewhat doubtful recipe. But you’ve got to trust this recipe which has been delighting people for over fifty years. An absolute crowd-pleaser, if I may say so.

This recipe had originally appeared in the Better Homes & Gardens India magazine. I had contributed two recipes, including this one, for their Diwali issue this year, along with a few other bloggers.

1 kg Mutton Chops (don’t go for too mature meat)

For Yogurt marination

250 grams Onions

2 pods (200 gms approx.) Garlic

1½ tsp Ginger (grated)

1 tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)

1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)

½ – ¾ C Yogurt

If using young meat, you can go for double chops, else single chops is preferable.

Remove any excess fat  from the mutton chops. Wash the mutton and remove excess water and set aside.

Peel and wash onions and grate them.

Peel and wash garlic and grate it.

In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients for marination and mix them well.

Transfer the chops in a large bowl (in which to marinate and refrigerate them) and add the marination. Using your hands, mix everything well ensuring each and every chop is covered with the marinade.

Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

Allow the chops to marinate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

Cook the chops in a pressure cooker till two whistles escape.

Once the pressure gets released (on its own), cook the chops on high flame ensuring that the masala (marinade) does not catch at the bottom and most water has evaporated and the marinade thickens and coats the chops.

Remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate or bowl and serve with onion rings and lemon wedges (or green chutney if desired)

Note: Do not use onion paste, garlic paste or ginger paste. It is imperative that you grate these ingredients.

Note: The amount of yogurt will vary and so will the cooking time; both depending on the quality of meat.

Serves 6 – 8

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GREEN GARBANZO BEANS FALAFEL PITA POCKETS w/ CHIPOTLE TAHINI SAUCE

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Unhealthy festival binging is almost like necessary evil. However, these falafel pita pockets are a testimony to the fact that healthy can be scrumptious and good enough for festivities. I had created this recipe for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for their Diwali issue this year.

For Falafel

1 C dried Green Garbanzo Beans / Chholiya (Hara Chana)

½ C Peas (fresh or frozen)

2 tbsp Pistachio

½ C fresh Coriander (leaves & stalk)

1/3 C Mint Leaves

½ C Parsley leaves

Zest of a Lime

6 fat cloves Garlic

3 Green Chilies

½ C roughly chopped Onion

3 – 4 tbsp Chickpea Flour (Besan)

½ tsp Baking Powder

2 tbsp Tahini

2 tsp Cumin Powder

2 tsp Coriander Powder

Salt to taste

1 C Sesame Seeds (optional)

Oil for frying

For Chipotle Sauce

¾ C Yogurt

1 – 1½ tsp ground Chipotle (adjust heat to taste)

3 tbsp Tahini

1 fat clove Garlic

¼ tsp Salt or to taste

Soak the dried green garbanzo beans overnight.

The same evening make the Chipotle Sauce as the flavours fuse really well when they sit over night.

For the Sauce, finely grate the garlic. Gently whip the yogurt till it becomes smooth in consistency. Add to the yogurt, all the ingredients mentioned under the sauce category. Mix everything well. Add a few teaspoons of water if the consistency is too thick. Transfer and store in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge till ready to use.

Drain the beans and dry them a little by keeping them in a large sieve or a colander.

Pulse the pistachio in a spice blender till it attains a coarse texture.

In a food processor, process together all the ingredients mentioned under the falafel category, except chickpea flour, till a rough paste is obtained. Remove from the processor and mix in the flour along with the baking powder.

Make 24 balls of equal size and roll each one of them in sesame seeds. (This is optional but highly recommended since sesame seeds give the falafels a beautiful nutty flavour.)

Place the rolled balls on a greased plate and cover gently with a cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place a wok or frying pan on heat and add oil till it is one and half to two inches high. Reduce the heat to medium.

After about forty five seconds, add a small amount of the falafel mixture into the oil. If it floats to the top and the oil is bubbling around the edges, the oil is hot enough to fry the mixture.

Fry the falafel in batches of 5 – 6 falafels each. Do not over crowd the pan as this will result in drop in temperature. (If the falafels are browning too fast, reduce the heat)

Be careful when adding the falafel rolled in sesame as the seeds will start crackling and splutter around. To deal with this, as soon as you add the falafel to the pan, carefully but quickly turn them over after a few seconds.

Turn each falafel after every twenty to thirty seconds for even cooking.

Once they turn brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on an absorbent sheet to remove excess oil.

To serve, take pita bread and cut it in two halves. Carefully make a cavity inside the pita bread using a sharp knife. Fill each pita pocket with a salad of your choice. Add the falafels whole, smashed or halved and drizzle over the Chipotle Sauce.

For a non fried version, spray or brush the uncooked falafel balls with some oil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 20 – 25 minutes on one side or till golden brown. Turn over the balls and bake the other side for another few minutes till golden brown.

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