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Tag: raisins

Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all purpose
¼ cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mixture of raisins, cranberries and currants, chopped
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed or powdered
4 tablespoons super cold butter, cut into little pieces
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400.
Grease a large cast iron skillet or a 10 inch cake pan.

Transfer the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl, whisk together. Add the butter and mix briefly with fingers, incorporating the butter. Add the raisins mixture, zest and fennel seeds and mix well. Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a small bowl and whisk well and refrigerate until needed (the key is to have this liquid as cold as possible) Add the liquid slowly to the dry mixture while mixing it with a fork. Once all the liquid is incorporated, gently mix everything with your fingers and form an 8 inch round loaf and transfer to the cast iron skillet or cake pan. Mark the top with an ‘X’ with a knife about ½ inch deep.
Bake for 20 minutes in the oven and check if the top is getting too brown. If it is, then top with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Take out of oven and keep the foil on till it cools off.

Middle Eastern Style Carrot and Raisin Salad

Another yummy salad to complement my feast but this can go with any kind of meal. You can use the pre grated carrots from the store to make it easier but I used the multi colored carrots that made the salad extra special!!

  • 5 to 6 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice on one large lemon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint, chopped

Transfer all the ingredient to a serving bowl. Mix well and let the salad sit for a couple of hours before serving.


Leftover Cabbage Fritters

Cabbage Fritters So, after I made the cabbage dish, I had quite a bit of it leftover in the fridge. I thought of serving it again a few days later but somehow wanted to transform the vegetable into something else. Cooked cabbage tends to be mushy- which is fine but that is what I don’t like about it. I decided to do something about it and change it up into something crunchy and even more delicious.

What do you do with delicious leftovers?? You make fritters, of course! I decided to add an egg, peanuts, raisins and the secret ingredient- panko breadcrumbs. I love using these Japanese breadcrumbs. They provide a delicious crunch in everything.  I incorporated everything and cooked them in a non-stick pan with a bit of oil.

The crunchy fritters were delicious- the chopped raisins provided a surprise burst of sweetness and the peanuts were crunchy. It was amazing to transform the cabbage into delicious fritters. Now I can’t wait to make the cabbage again so I can eat the fritters again!
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Moroccan Style Chicken with Spinach Cilantro Couscous

Moroccan Style Chicken This dish takes the mundane chicken dinner to a whole new level. We had our usual Friday get together with Sia’s friend, her sisters and their Mom. It started off as a pizza party and as far as the kids are concerned, that is what we should serve every week. Most times I don’t feel like ordering pizza and would rather cook something at home.

So when the day came, I decided to make a chicken dish- something different (I usually say that in my mind- I really do). I was either watching  or reading something- I can’t remember, but Moroccan chicken came up. That was it- I couldn’t think of anything else. I bought the chicken and – everything else was in the house. Couscous comes to mind when I think Moroccan food. Instead of making a salad on the side, I decided to make a spinach and cilantro sauce and cooked the couscous in it. The colors were amazing- the orangish red chicken against the light green couscous was beautiful. The taste wasn’t so shabby either.

We all enjoyed the chicken with the couscous and some red wine- yes I am drinking wine- just on the weekends for now and Friday is part of the weekend. I do plan to incorporate wine back into the week but since I am doing a cleanse, I feel I should detox and stay away from it for a while. I digress- the evening was very enjoyable and delicious!

  • 2 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon schug (hot red pepper mix)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Toss the flour and salt with the chicken in a bag to coat. Heat a non-stick skillet with the olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes each. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat. Add cinnamon, ginger, cumin, schug and salt. Add the tomato, honey, raisins, chickpeas and chicken. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Sprinkle the almonds and cilantro. Serve with couscous.

Moroccan Style Chicken 1

Spinach Cilantro Couscous

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green onion

Blend the spinach, cilantro, garlic and onion with some water until a smooth paste is formed. Keep aside.

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup spinach paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat a medium sized saucepan and add the oil. Add the spinach paste and saute for a minutes on medium high heat. Add the chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil and add the couscous and place the lid and turn the heat off. Fluff the couscous in 5 minutes once it is cooked.

A Recipe Fit For Royalty: Vegetable Korma

vegetable-kormaI teach cooking classes a couple time a month. I try to come up with a complete and balanced menu that is delicious but easy to make. For last month’s class, I did the chicken malai tikka– I wanted to come up with a vegetable dish people can enjoy. Someone had suggested a navrattan korma- which is a very popular dish in Indian restaurants around here. A korma is a dish with either vegetables or meat cooked in a creamy white sauce. I have never really made a vegetable korma and never really order it at a restaurant either. The reason for not ordering the dish outside is that it is filled with cream and butter. I can’t imagine how many calories are in that small serving!

In my attempt to come up with a healthier version of this dish, I must have looked at hundreds of recipes. I finally came up with the perfect, delicious concoction. In my mind, a korma is creamy, delicate yet full of flavor. I used dry spices to give the dish loads of flavor. The cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and most of all the black cumin give this dish a very delicate aroma and taste. I tend to use black cumin when I am making a white creamy sauce- unlike regular cumin, this variety has a very floral taste- it’s delicate yet full bodied – the flavor is unmistakable! That being said- if you can’t find this spice, regular cumin will be just fine.  Also, any combination of vegetables is great in this dish. I went with a combination with great aesthetic appeal, full of color.  For the white creamy sauce, I decided to use non-fat evaporated milk with a touch of half and half. The evaporated milk gives the dish great body and taste without any of the fat- how clever was that!! The half and half adds just enough richness without going over the top. To finish off the dish, I added chopped raw cashews and golden raisins. The sweetness of the two ingredients goes very well with the mild creamy dish. To take the korma to another level, I added crumbled paneer- it gives the dish great texture. Overall the dish was a big success. My husband loved it! People at the class enjoyed it as well. We at it with fresh homemade rotis and pink lentils cooked with broccoli rabe- recipe to follow soon!!

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Mango Macadamia Nut Cake

mango-macadamia-cakeHere we go with another mango recipe! I just can’t help myself. There are so many of them in my house and this last variety I bought from the Indian store are extremely fragrant- so I can smell them all over the kitchen and dining area. My cousin had given me some macadamia nuts from Hawaii. I stored them in the freezer and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them. I had already baked mango cookies and wanted to look for something different- how about a mango cake, I thought!! I started to look for inspiration on the web but there wasn’t that much out there. I finally found one and tweaked and modified it to my liking. What I liked about this particular recipe was that it had crushed pineapple in it- actually the recipe didn’t have any fat-, no butter or oil. I think that is why they included the pineapple since it gives the recipe great texture in the absence of fat. Well, I decided to include both the fat as well as the pineapple. My choice of lipid was extra light olive oil. I like using it for my baking, it does not have the nutty and fruity taste of extra virgin olive oil but it still has it’s goodness. I believe in cooking healthy but don’t like the idea of eliminating the fat all together.  Overall the cake had great texture and a fabulous taste. The macadamia nuts brought a nice creamy crunch to the dessert.  The mango chunks and the pineapple melt in the mouth.  Its a great cake to have with afternoon tea or even a nibble for breakfast. I usually cut a little piece for my husband to enjoy before he goes to work- he likes that- a nice sweet way to start your day.

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Chicken Rice Pulao with Spinach and Cilantro

chicken-pulao-with-spinachI made this dish today for a couple of reasons. My daughter and I are off to Seattle in a day and I needed to make a one pot, no fuss meal for everyone to enjoy. I also needed to use up some things in my fridge including green onions and cilantro. I really wanted to have a chicken and rice dish my Mom makes, but it is too labor intensive and I just didn’t have the time.  I started thinking what I could make… I then remembered a rice and pea dish my maternal Grandma made which my Mom and I cook all the time. It includes a green sauce made out of a little onion, lots of cilantro and some garlic. It is all blended together and then cooked with cumin seeds before the rice is added. I love eating the green rice! It brings back delicious childhood memories!
This dish is almost a combination of the two rice dishes. I bought thighs with bones to extract as much flavor as I could while the rice cooked. Although boneless meat is easier to handle, there are times when the flavor takes precedence over convenience! I started with browning the meat and then cooked the green sauce and cumin in the same oil. I added spinach to the green mixture. It is a clever way of incorporating a vegetable without anyone knowing. I also cooked the rice in chicken broth- another way of adding lots of flavor into the dish. Once the rice and chicken were cooked, I took the meat off the bone. It is easier to serve and I have to say, looked more appealing to the eye. I added raisins because I like them in my savory dishes! I love the contrast of sweet and savory in my mouth. The raisins are completely optional and will not take away anything from the dish…. so if you are not too keen on them, leave them out- although I would highly recommend it! Indians usually eat yogurt with most of their meals. I love a big bowl of Raita with this dish. It brings a nice cool brightness into your mouth.  Raita is a yogurt salad consisting of vegetables or fruits. It is served savory with salt, roasted cumin, mint, etc. You can go crazy with the different combinations but a simple combination is best.  I usually make my Raita with some tomatoes and cucumbers. In this case, I didn’t have a lot of fresh produce so I added salt, roasted cumin and some dried mint. It was delicious! My daughter loved the dish minus the raisins…
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