Wednesday, November 28, 2012

indian rice pudding...and a giveaway!

Earlier this year, I participated in Anyday Magic's Recipe Makeover. For the makeover, three food bloggers were asked to add a twist to a recipe. I participated in the dessert challenge and was given the task of transforming rice pudding. Every time I think of rice pudding, I think about Kheer. It’s an Indian rice pudding with much more depth than just regular rice pudding. The cardamom powder provides a nice warmth to the dish and the saffron adds an exotic touch. I added another twist by adding berries, which provided a freshness to the rich comforting dessert.

Since my recipe won the dessert round (yay!), I get to reward my readers with a prize pack from the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Each pack contains a spatula and a whisk and there are a few to be given away.  Entering is easy! Just comment here, facebook me or send me a tweet and let me know how you would makeover rice pudding.  Be sure to leave contact info so that I can get a hold of the winners.  Contest closes on Sunday, December 2nd, 2012 at 11:59pm MST.
Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)
Makes 4 servings

½ cup rice
1 cup water
2 cups milk
½ cup whipping cream
¾ cup sugar
½ can evaporated milk
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
pinch saffron
½ cup almonds
½ cup pistachios

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup whipping cream, whipped, not sweetened

Combine the rice and water and cook over medium high heat. When water is absorbed, add the milk and cream and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

Mash the rice with a masher and then add sugar, evaporated milk, cardamom, saffron and half the nuts and simmer for a few minutes.

At this point, you can garnish with the remaining nuts and saffron or top it with sliced strawberries and the whipping cream with the nuts and saffron on top. Delicious both ways! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

coconut cake with a red velvet surprise for mom's birthday

Today is my mom's birthday!  We celebrated with family time, good food and of course, cake.

For her special day, I decided to do a twist on one of our favourite cakes - coconut.  I had made some red velvet cake pops the day before for a birthday and decided to incorporate the two.  Since the cake balls that I make are made of just cake (no icing), I placed the cake balls in between the coconut batter before baking.

I was a little worried about the red velvet balls over baking but the resulting cake turned out perfect.  The coconut cake was moist and the red velvet was a nice surprise.  Topped with a coconut cream cheese frosting and shreds of toasted coconut, it was the perfect way to celebrate my fabulous mom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

shrimp buzara style...and a cookbook giveaway!

Lidia Bastianich is a culinary icon. Writing best-selling cookbooks, having multiple restaurants as well as being a celebrated television personality, she is one of the most beloved Italian chefs.

I was excited to get her new cookbook, "Lidia's Favorite Recipes" which she co-authored with her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali.  The book has some amazing recipes with full page coloured pictures.

Crafted from 100 of Lidia's recipes, it was hard to decide what I was going to cook first. Eggplant Parmigiana, Ziti, Crepes...there was so much to choose from!  I decided to do something quick and easy, the Shrimp Buzara Style. It was a delicious dish with amazing flavour and it came together so quickly.  The shrimp was tasty and the sauce was so flavourful, perfect for sopping up with some bread. I'm definitely going to make this for my next dinner party.

Want to win your own copy of Lidia's awesome book?  Comment here, leave a post on Facebook or send a tweet.  Contest closes on Black Friday at 11:59PM MST.  A winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

Shrimp Buzara Style
Printed from Lidia's Favorite Recipes

2 pounds super colossal shrimp
1 TB tomato paste
1 cup hot light fish stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1 TB breadcrumbs
1 TB chopped fresh Italian parsley

Using poultry shears or a sharp paring knife, cut through the outer curve of the shrimp shells from end to end, but don't remove the shells.  Rinse the shrimp under cold running water, and devein.

Dissolve the tomato paste in the hot stock.  Heat 2 TB of olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic, and saute over moderately high heat until golden.  Season with salt and pepper, add the win, and bring to a boil. Add the stock-and-tomato-paste mixture, reduce the heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Meantime, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet, add the shrimp, and saute (in two batches) 1 minute on each side.  Drain off the oil, return all the shrimp to the skillet, and add the sauce.  Cover, and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp pare just cooked through, about 2 or 3 minutes. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parsley, mix well, and cook a minute longer, uncovered. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 16, 2012

model milk

I had been wanting to check out Model Milk for quite some time and a friends birthday seemed the perfect occasion.  We ventured out in the snow and found the place on 17th avenue quite easily with the big white cow head above its doors.  It's a good thing we made reservations because the place was packed!

With service being a huge deal for me, I was thrilled with the awesome service we got from Andrew. He took the time to explain things and make recommendations.
We started with the cheese and chive fries which were perfect for munching on while we waited for the main course. The manchego cheese that topped the crispy fries added just enough saltiness.
For our main course, we had the Maple Hill fried chicken and waffles. We saw a few tables enjoying it as we walked in and we just had to try it for ourselves. The large format item for two was perfect for the three of us to share. With six pieces of chicken, it was easily dividable and was so filling. The chicken, cooked sous-vide style, was perfect. The outside was light and crispy, the inside was tender and juicy. The rosemary waffles paired well with the syrup covered chicken and the large plate of greens balanced out the meal.
Although we were stuffed, we had to try the dessert.  We ordered the peanut butter ice cream sandwich. The ice cream was creamy and the praline topping was the perfect crunch. So good!
All in all, it was a great evening. I look forward to going back!

Model Milk on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 10, 2012

pan rushed salmon with three tomatoes

Hubby had an opportunity to go fishing in Northern BC this past July.  He had an awesome time spending three days on the water and catching salmon and halibut.  It was really exciting when the box of fish came and we saw all the little packages of salmon - fresh, smoked and candied, as well as the white fish.

Since then, I've been on a mission to find as many tasty fish recipes as I can.  We had the opportunity on Q's birthday to feed our family with a great big salmon.  We had seen Michael Smith make a pan rushed salmon with three tomatoes on his show and knew we had to try it out.

This was a simple dish that came together very quickly. The final cooking of the fish in the tomatoes resulted in a tasty, juicy fish.  I was able to do the tomato part ahead of time and place it in a roaster so that the final cooking could be done in the oven.  This will be one recipe that we will be going back to again.

Pan Rushed Salmon with Three Tomatoes
Adapted from Chef Michael's Kitchen

1 large salmon
2 TB minced garlic
1 onion, diced
1 can, whole tomatoes
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper, then sear until lightly browned on each side, flipping carefully, 3 or 4 minutes per side. Place the seared salmon on a clean plate and cover lightly with foil.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and lightly sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes, hand crushing as you go. Add the cherry and dried tomatoes, salt & pepper. Bring the works to a simmer and cook gently, 2 or 3 minutes.  Place the tomato mixture in a roasting pan and place the fillets on top of the sauce.  Cover tightly and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

doodle cupcakes for q's 4th birthday

I can't believe my little man is four today! The time is just flying by, it seems like he was just born. He is the most precious gift and my life would not be the same without him in it.
As with all birthdays in our house, we celebrate all week long and his celebrations started on Friday at preschool. There were cake pops and Spiderman and he came home so happy that he got to celebrate with his school friends.
For his actual birthday, I wanted to ensure that it was extra special and the cake always has a part in that. For the cake, I loved the idea that I saw on Sweetapolita with the doodle cake. I knew Q would have a blast decorating his own cake.  I decided to make cupcakes with individual toppers which we all decorated together. It was a lot of fun and it gave us a project to do on Monday evening.
The toppers were made with fondant which I cut into circles with a cookie cutter. I'm not sure why, but fondant really scares me. Well, it did anyways until I found this fabulous recipe via Pinterest.  A fondant made with only marshmallows and icing sugar via Clockwork Lemon. It didn't take long to come together and, when it did, it was perfectly smooth for some of Q's (and mamma's) artwork.
I decided to forego on the icing and instead use a glaze. I've been using this recipe for years and it's so simple to make.
The resulting cupcakes are perfect for celebrating a 4 year old!

Chocolate Glaze

3 TB water
2 TB butter
3 TB cocoa
1 cup icing sugar

Place the water and the butter in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  Take it off the heat and immediately mix in the cocoa. Gradually add in the icing sugar and keep mixing until you get the proper consistency.

Marshmallow Fondant
From Sweetapolita

1 cup mini marshmallows
3 TB water
1 to 2 cups icing sugar

Place the marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and coat them with water.  Warm them up in the microwave in ten second intervals until the marshmallows puff up and can be stirred.  Slowly add icing sugar into the mixture.  When it starts coming together, grease your hands with butter and knead the mixture until it stops being sticky and can be rolled out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ice cream cake...and hubby's birthday!

We celebrated hubby's birthday on Monday.  It wasn't a big celebration, just a small family dinner with his mom's cooking and loved ones.  Hubby loves ice cream cake from DQ so this year, I thought I would tackle it myself.  The best part of the store bought cake is the middle layer with the fudge and the chocolate crunchies.  Thanks to Pinterest, I found how to make them with only two ingredients! Although the original cake is all ice cream, I added a layer of chocolate cake, to make it even better.

The verdict?  Hubby loved it!  In fact, he made sure we took the leftovers home, always a good sign.  The crunchy middle tasted just like the DQ version. The chocolate cake with the fudge, the crunchies, ice cream and whipping cream all together made the perfect bite.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake
(Adapted from Our Best Bites and Brown Eyed Baker)

1 layer chocolate cake (I used this recipe)
3 TB fudge sauce
2 cups Cookies and Cream ice cream, softened

Chocolate crunchies:
2/3 package oreo cookies
3/4 to 1 bottle Magic Shell

Whipping Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 TB icing sugar
Line a springform pan with saran wrap.  Place a layer of your favourite chocolate cake at the bottom.  Spread a layer of fudge sauce on the cake.

Place the oreo cookies in a food processor and pulse until crushed - small bits not powder. To the crushed cookies, add 3/4 to 1 whole bottle of Magic Shell.  Spread this over the fudge layer of the cake. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes.  Take the softened ice cream and create a layer on top of the crunchies.  Let freeze overnight.

The next day, whip together the cream and the sugar.  Ice the cake with the whipping cream. Top with mini Oreos or shaved chocolate. Place back in the freezer until ready to eat.
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