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December 2009
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Mango Curd and Pineapple Trifle

December 30, 2009   

Mango Curd and Pineapple Trifle

I love desserts. I am quite picky about what I will eat, though. I feel if I am going to ingest all those calories, it better be worth my while. Homemade treats are the best or if they are bought from a reputable store or eaten at a fabulous restaurant.

One of my favorite things to eat is trifle. I have made many versions over the years. I grew up with it and eating it invokes lots of good memories of childhood. My Mom made the basic version- cake, plain custard, strawberry jam and mixed fruit- and of course lots of freshly whipped cream. It was absolutely delicious! Somehow I can eat loads of it- I am not a big eater (well, my husband may disagree with that statement…). It is so light with the custard and the cream that it is very easy to keep eating.

I am always thinking of different variations of this yummy treat. I love mangoes and pineapple together- so I decided to pair them in a trifle. As I write – blackberries and mangoes are coming to mind- I think the next one will include the two fruits- yum!

It is deceivingly easy to make. When people look at the trifle bowl, they get very intimidated. The only thing that takes a little while to make is the curd- which can be made the day before. Shortcuts can be taken as well- store bought mango curd can be used – although I have never seen it. You can substitute lemon curd instead. The rest is just layering the ingredients- pineapple, whipped cream and the cake- very simple.

I would definitely make this for a holiday dinner. Absolutely delicious- money back guarantee….

Mango Curd

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup mango puree
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon orange zest

In a large saucepan stir sugar, cornstarch, mango puree, butter, lemon juice and orange peel. Cook over medium heat till thickened and bubbly. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl and add half of the thickened mixture to temper it. Return the egg mixture into the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, and stir for 2 minutes more. Strain through a fine strainer and cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill. Yields about 2 cups.

  • 1 11 oz store bought frozen plain pound cake, sliced thin
  • 2 cups whipping cream beaten stiff with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
  • 2 cups crushed pineapple including the juice
  • 1 trifle bowl or any deep glass dish

Divide the cake into two portions. Add one portion of the sliced cake at the bottom of the trifle bowl, covering the entire bottom. Next, spread half of the crushed pineapple followed by half of the mango curd. Top the mango curd with half of the whipped cream. Repeat the process and set in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours before serving.

Moong Dal- Yellow Lentils

December 29, 2009   

moong-dal This is the most popular lentil dish on my Dad’s side of the family. I grew up eating it all the time- to the point that I don’t like to make it very often. Actually I do make it once in a while but I never  the way my Mom does.

She would cook the lentils in water, turmeric and salt. Sauteed onions were the most important part of the tempering. They were chopped and cooked on a medium fire with ghee until they turned chocolate brown. The lentils were topped with the onions and garam masala was sprinkled on top- thats it – that is how it was made every single time. Part of me understands looking forward to the same dish, made the same way every time- I do that- I have the same breakfast every day. Somehow with these lentils- I want a change but as you probably noticed, I did sprinkle the garam masala on mine as well- I love the flavor and it finishes the dish off really well.

I like making it with ginger while the lentils are cooking and then topping it with an onion and chili. It is quite similar to the one I grew up with but still a bit different. It is great with rice or as a side dish with a vegetable or a meat. It is even great as a soup!

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 inches ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion- diced small
  • 1 serrano chili- chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add the dal, water, ginger, salt and turmeric to a medium deep pan.
Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium. Stir occasionally and cook till the lentils
are soft not too mushy, about 10-12 minutes.
In the meantime in a small frying pan, heat up the olive oil and add the onions and serrano chili. Stir and cook on medium heat till the oinions are golden brown. Add the onion and chili mixture to the lentil pan. Add the garam masala and cayenne pepper. Taste for salt. Serve with rice.

An Easy Indian Recipe: Chicken with Green Beans

December 28, 2009   

Chicken and Green Beans My Mom has been making this chicken dish for a very long time. She usually cuts up a whole chicken and uses all the parts- which is the right way to make a chicken curry of any sort… all the pieces in there are from the same chicken- what a concept?? We don’t do that any more… I end up buying a pack of chicken thighs or chicken breast to use for me daily cooking. I am not happy with the idea of using a bunch of different chickens in one dish- I guess I will start buying whole chickens – soon…

I had a pack of chicken thighs which I decided to cook with green beans. Its a one pot meal concept which I like so much. I started off with whole, skinless, boneless thighs which I shredded after they were cooked. I am not really sure why I did that- somehow it seemed like a good idea at the time. I guess my point is that you can do it either way- serve the thighs or breasts whole or shred them.

If you are using breast- I would suggest browning them in the beginning of the cooking process and then removing them to the side till the beans are almost done. Add the breast pieces at the very end and cook them for a few minutes and they will be perfectly tender.

This was a delicious meal with fresh, homemade rotis- yum! Nothing else was needed- thats right we didn’t have any wine with this meal. I had a small serving of a very spicy chili pickle- delicious!

This is a great dish to make for a crowd as well, enjoy!

  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ pound green beans, chopped into an inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro

Process the onion, garlic, ginger and cilantro into a smooth paste.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3-4 cloves
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth

In a wide saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle with salt. Brown the pieces on both sides for 5-6 minutes each on high heat. Lower the heat to medium and add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick. Saute for a minute and add the processed onion mixture. Saute on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and cover with lid. Lower the heat and cook for 13-15 minutes or till chicken pieces are cooked. Take the lid off and add the green beans. Place the lid back on the saucepan and cook for another 7-8 minutes, till beans are tender. Take the lid off and increase the heat. Cook the chicken and beans on high till the excess water has evaporated, about 3-4 minutes. Check for seasonings and serve.

Sausage and Eggs Cooked in Marinara Sauce

December 27, 2009   

Sausage and Eggs in Marinara Sauce I made this on a busy Sunday late morning/early afternoon. I picture this being made the day after a big holiday dinner- especially if you have a big crowd.

I cooked it for the three of us but it can be made for a big crowd.

I had leftover homemade tomato sauce. I have to say, after returning from Italy- I am incapable of opening a can of San Marzano tomatoes to make marinara sauce, instead I have to buy fresh tomatoes and go through the lengthy process of making it at home. The taste difference is unbelievable- anyway, so that is what I had in the fridge. I also had a pack of chicken sausages in the freezer. I thawed them, took the casing out and chopped them up.

I sauteed them and added the tomato sauce. I cracked a few eggs and covered the pan and in a few minutes, brunch was done. I had some bake your own baguettes from Trader Joes. I baked one of them and made a big green salad.

The brunch was delicious! So easy- and the possibilities are endless… You can add all sorts of meats, or shrimp to this- or make it Mexican and serve it with guacamole, etc.

Definitely make this – it’s great!

  • 4 chicken sausage links, take the casing out and chop into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup homemade tomato sauce
  • 3 or 4 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

In a wide frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage pieces and sauté on medium heat for 5-6 minutes or till golden brown. Add the tomato sauce and heat for a minute or two. Crack each egg distributing them evenly in the pan. Cook covered for 3-4 minutes depending on how cooked you want the eggs. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.
Serve with a hot baguette and green salad.

Sausage and Eggs in Marinara Sauce1

Spinach and Potatoes- Saag Aloo

December 22, 2009   

Spinach and Potatoes This is a very popular Indian dish- especially amongst vegetarians. For me, this is a great side dish especially since it does not have any protein. I like to make sure I am giving my family a well balanced meal every chance I get – I usually make a chicken, pork or fish dish to serve with the spinach and potatoes.

I think this side dish would be ideal for a holiday meal- especially since it combines a green and a starch- you get two dishes in one. A roast or a bird would be delicious with this side dish. It is also ideal since you can make this a couple of days in advance- perfect for the busy holidays. Like most Indian dishes, this one is yummier the next day. Just like a stew or a soup gets better in the fridge- it is the same concept. The flavors get a chance to know each other and get really close.

Besides being an ideal dish for the holidays, this is especially good for a weekday meal. The spinach I use in here is frozen- always in my freezer, I consider this a pantry must have. The potatoes are also always in the pantry- so both the star ingredients are already in your house- the dish can be made in 20 minutes. Make some kebabs or meatballs on the side and you have a nice, healthy meal!

  • 3-4 medium yellow potatoes
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • ½ cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

In a wide saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the cumin seeds. Saute on medium heat for a minute, or till the seeds begin to sizzle. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute on medium high heat, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the spinach and potatoes and mix well. Add the salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper and coriander powder. Mix well and lower the heat and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or till the potatoes are cooked. Take the lid off and turn the heat up to cook the excess moisture off. Check of seasonings and add the garam masala.

Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops

December 21, 2009   

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Risotto

The colors in this dish are very festive and remind me of the holiday season- which is good because that is what every one is looking for right now.

We all love scallops in my family and I cook them very often. I love pairing them with risotto. The creamy rice dish goes so well with the sweet scallops. Now, I know risotto is a bit labor intensive but if you make the scallops with it- which are very quick- it’s a nice combination.

I made the risotto with a bit of shallots and garlic. I slowly added the chicken broth and made the velvety risotto. I wanted to add asparagus and tomatoes. The colors make me happy. The flavors are fabulous- the asparagus with its fresh, grassy flavor and the tomatoes with the sweet and tart burst in your mouth.

The scallops, as I mentioned, are so easy and quick to make. A sprinkle of salt and pepper and a screaming hot pan- is all you need (okay, some oil as well). The trick to perfectly cooked scallops is to turn them as soon as they turn brown. About a minute or two on each side on a very very hot pan. That’s all it takes- very simple.

This dish would be great for an intimate Christmas dinner. The colors are so appropriate and you can’t beat the taste. I would serve a red wine with this- I know a white goes better with scallops but somehow I think of red when risotto comes to mind. The heartiness of the gooey and soft rice is heaven with a yummy glass of red wine.

Whatever you are making for your big holiday- make it with love and enjoy your family and friends.

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 to 2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch asparagus, end cut off and the tips cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.

Place the vegetables on a lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the tomatoes begin to pop. Keep aside.

Heat the 4 cups of chicken broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then place on simmer right next to the cooking risotto. In a wide frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the rice and stir for a minute. Add a ladle of chicken broth (about a ¼ cup) to the risotto. Stir on medium heat constantly until the broth is soaked up. Keep adding the broth till the rice is soft and well cooked- it should take about 20 minutes and most of the chicken broth. Add the roasted vegetables and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Add the butter and cheese. Serve pan seared scallops on top.

Pan Seared Scallops

  • 1 pound diver sea scallops, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

In a wide non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil till almost smoking. Add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Flip the side and cook for another 2 minutes and sprinkle salt and pepper. Drizzle some lemon juice and serve on top of the risotto.

Roasted Asparagusand Tomato Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops

Chicken Sausage Noodle Stir Fry

December 17, 2009   

Chicken Sausage Noodle Stir Fry 1 This is a really quick, last minute meal. I had a super busy day and didn’t have anything for dinner.

I kept thinking what to make. I had a couple chicken sausages in the fridge. I always have grated carrots, green onions and some other vegetables in the crisper.

It is so important to have a well stocked pantry and fridge at a time like this. I decided to make a quick noodle stir fry. I chopped up the sausage, green onion, red pepper and garlic. I had chinese style noodles in the pantry which I decided to use- although any spaghetti or fettucini style pasta will do as well.

I added some tamari and in a few minutes I had a fabulous noodle stir fry. It is a one-pot meal with the protein and the vegetables all in one. I love making dishes like this plus my daughter loved it.

I added a bit of chile sauce for my husband and I and that is what we had for dinner as well. I opened some white wine and we had a green salad with it.

It was quick, fast and delicious! I think this is a perfect meal for this busy holiday season.

  • 2 chicken sausages, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, whites and greens chopped and separated
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • ½ red pepper, small chop
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces spaghetti or egg noodles, cooked

Beat the eggs with the sesame oil and salt. Keep aside.

In a wok like pan, heat the olive oil. Add the sausages and sauté on medium high heat for a minute. Add the carrots, garlic, white part of the green onions and red pepper. Saute for a minute and add the egg. Mix well till the egg is cooked. Add the cooked spaghetti and tamari. Mix well and add the green part of the green onions. Check for seasonings and serve.

Chicken Sausage Noodle Stir Fry